Friday, 31 March 2017

March 2017

Life MARCHES on. Hahahaha did you see what I did there?

No but seriously I've been kind of miserable for sections of this month, more miserable than I remember being in recent memory, but I've started feeling better now, and I hope that's permanent.

Big life change is a shock to the system. When I moved to Brighton for university nearly 10 years ago, it immediately felt like home — so intensely that I realised Anglesey (where I grew up) had never *really* been home at all. It was a place where I spent 19 years of my life but it wasn't home.

Hebden Bridge is not going to be home that easily for me. Maybe nowhere will ever be home like Brighton was. Or maybe I just need to work at it this time.

I shouldn't complain though. There are lots of good things here, and I'm finding more all the time.

For starters, the local Chinese restuarant is GREAT. One of our shared household treats back in Brighton was ordering in a load of weird fake meats from the Oriental (on Lewes Road), and yeah, it was great that they had so many vegan options, but I think without realising it, we'd been putting up with somewhat sub-par sauces and such. This place is brilliant. The sauces are rich and flavourful AND they do also have some weird vegan meats, so we're happy.

Sarah came to visit! Sarah is one of my oldest friends from school days, Charlie's former owner, and new mum to adorable Megan. I had the great delight of taking Megan on her first ever train journey, hopefully instilling a life-long love of public transport.

The next day, Fenn and George and Lucy came to visit. Yay, guests! Sadly Fenn got awful toothache on the day they arrived and spent the whole trip varying levels of sad/painful, but hopefully they and George and Lucy still had a reasonably nice visit.

One of the things that's really hard about moving to a totally new place is getting to know new people. Alex has very efficiently ploughed ahead, joining several boardgames clubs, and somehow meeting people left right and centre. I've been a bit slower off the mark, and sometimes worry that maybe I'll never find 'my people'. Part of the trouble is that I quite like my own company... This can mean that I sometimes avoid new social gatherings because actually I prefer the idea of curling up at home, drawing, working, or other things that don't involve social engagement with people I don't yet know who might or might not be awful.

But anyway. I'm TRYING. Our one local friend Keith invited me out for lunch with him and some friends. One of whom was one of the organisers of the 'Save Todmorden College' protest (apparently they want to turn it into an Aldi). Before I knew it, I'd been peer pressured into joining in...
Guys, I'll be honest. I've never been to a protest before. While I have an enormous amount of respect and gratitude towards those who do attend protests, I've always just been sort of... dubious about how effective they actually are.

But anyway. Upon arrival I was immediately handed a giant (like 12 foot tall!) flower... Not entirely relevant to the protest, but they were left over from Hebden's famous 'handmade parade' and someone bought them along to liven things up. We marched a couple of hundred metres down the road, briefly blocked some traffic, got lots of supportive car toots, did some chanting, and then marched back again.

Afterwards I went to an experimental noise show in a nearby pub for a bit, then went home. All in all a slightly weird afternoon. (There's a really big noise music scene around here...)

Another great thing about Hebden.... There's a shop that sells that vegan Sriracha Mayo and it's AMAZING. (Best condiment ever is always a bold claim, I do tend to go through condiment phases, but we're definitely ploughing through this stuff with great glee.)

Does everyone else call their pets loads of different things depending on mood? I hope we're not confusing him. TBH he responds to pretty much anything yelled in his direction so I think we're fine.

This is not a very good drawing, BUT. I am starting to find 'my people' (hopefully). The Egg Factory is a creative co-working space in Hebden. It's not actually right for me as a place to be productive (can't leave expensive equipment on site overnight and there's no way I'm heaving my 27" monitor up and down that hill every day) BUT, they're a lovely community, and for a £40 annual membership fee (sweet deal or what?!) I can take part in their social stuff, even if I don't actually work there on a day to day basis. (There are additional fees for days/half days of working, or getting a permenant desk there, plus screen printing facilities which I fully intend to take advantage of very soon!)

Every Wednesday they have a shared lunch which seems to be anywhere from 3 – 15 people, and has proved a lovely chance to get out of the house and chat to nice people who aren't Alex and Justin. They've made me very welcome!

Oh, and did I mention Manchester is really close by? Manchester is really close by. And I LOVE Manchester. It's a great city, and I don't think I realised quite how much I'd missed being in a city. Just going in for an evening left me feeling alive and refreshed and excited about life again. (I'll never be a country girl. 19 years was ENOUGH.)

Also, my friends from college Grace, Vicky and Macsen live there. I hadn't seen Grace in over 5 years, Vicky and Macsen in nearly 10! Luckily they're still lovely, and it was great to have a dinnertime catchup.

Other good Hebden things — several great charity shops. Sadly not as cheap as you'd hope, pretty much Brighton prices, but I still managed to get some nice stuff for not too much money.

So both me and Alex are kind of uncomfortable about picking up animals. It just feels like a massive infringement of their personal space, unless it's 100% clear that they really enjoy it. Sadly, we've realised that there are moments where we may have to pick up Charlie. For his own safety, or because there are things we need him to do that he refuses to do himself: specifically, baths, and stepping stones.

There is one particular set of stepping stones that Charlie is TERRIFIED of, but crossing them cuts like a mile off a particular walk. Needs must. Sorry doggo.

Just gonna put this loudly out there for everyone to hopefully see. I KNOW, this makes me a challenging vegan. I know most people's (especially non-vegans) go-to vegan foods are things like chickpea curry or lentil stew... But I have IBS, and if I eat whole lentils or chickpeas, everything just goes horribly wrong for me. I avoid them as much as I can, and try and warn people beforehand, but there are times when politeness means that I just can't turn them down. And then later I get sad. And bloaty. And poopy. Please be kind to me.

(Weirdly, houmous is fine. Thank goodness. Falafels are not though. Heartbreak.)

This was the beginning of my slide into misery. It rained for like a week straight. Justin went away, and Alex was working pretty much every day, which meant all Charlie walking fell to me. There's nothing like walking for 2 – 3 hours a day in the pouring rain to make you hate rain, the countryside, the place you're in, yourself, basically everything.

The thing is, and maybe this makes me a cold-hearted awful person (it certainly makes me hate myself a little), I really just DGAF about stunning country views. You come over the brow of a hill and everyone's like 'oooooooooh' and it's just... whatever. I don't care. A view's a view. You've seen one, you've seen them all*.

I do have more interest/enjoyment of crumbling industrial infrastrcure (which this area is good for), but that comes with existential miseries all of its own (if you're in the wrong mood). I can also appreciate a really great footpath/stile/steps set up, which again, this area is great for, but my goodness I am so tired of steps.

*Don't get me wrong. Some things do move me. I love a seaside/vast expanse of ocean. Good beaches get me going. In more urban settings, a vast railway terminal can tug at my heartstrings like little else, likewise soaring across a city on a high viaduct, past rooftops and gardens and lights and trams and trains and thousands of other people's lives. I do feel feelings sometimes. Honest.

But fields and trees? Nah mate. (Maybe I've moved to the wrong place)

Waterproofs are THE WORST you guys.

Still finding new and varied ways to experience precipitation.

By this point it was almost funny. ALMOST BUT NOT QUITE

After a week of near constant rain and very little company, big shared lunch at the Egg Factory made me feel a lot better.

During another very rainy walk, I started pondering some weird... phobias? Anxieties? that have only particularly come to light since we moved here.

Firstly, my fairly intense dislike of the sound of rain on the windows. It has always made me antsy, and now, although arguably living in one of the most watertight houses of my adult life, we have attic velux windows, and the pounding of the rain on them fills me with anxiety. I know some people love it (including Justin, which is good because he has the attic bedroom)...
It's fairly clear where it stems from, which was the constant threat of my childhood home flooding. Every time there was heavy rain my parents would start to get worried, and semi-regularly the toilet would back up so we couldn't use it (and as someone with a terrible bladder and IBS, this just added to my neurosis about the whole situation).
So, rain on windows = constant background anxiety. And it rains a lot here. In case I hadn't mentioned.

The other thing which I've been realising is that I have a fairly intense fear of strong currents. There are a LOT of rivers here, and lots of walks which run alongside them. Much of the time they're just meandering, burbling brooks, quite calming and relaxing. But after heavy rain, they become quite terrifyingly forceful, and I find myself captivated and horrified watching the dark black waters rush across weirs and down waterfalls and under bridges.
Growing up near Menai Bridge, it was drilled into us from a very early age that we must NEVER go into the Menai Straits for a swim, due to the perilous 'swillies' — incredibly strong and unpredictable currents that could suck you under in moments. Possibly I took this message too seriously, and have always had recurring dreams about rising tides and strong currents. I've never really lived near rivers before though, and hadn't realised how UTTERLY TERRIFYING they are.

(Oh, and don't even talk to me about these horrors)

Anyway, sorry if that went a bit miserable there for a while. I'm actually fine. Rain just drags me down a bit. The sun came out and everything felt GREAT! Hebden Bridge is lovely! And so full of wonderfully kind people! And brilliant shops and great walks and awesome infrastructure, and it's actually really nice here.

The sun stayed out and I went on an over ambitious detour that started out looking like a footpath but was DEFINITELY NOT A FOOTPATH.

Then, BIRTHDAY! (Which also happens to be mothers day this year.)
Alex got me a mini-vac and giant tub of raspberry ruffles because Alex is an absolute dreamboat. Mum and Dad came over and we went for a lovely sunny walk. THE SUN WAS OUT! I went up to Manchester for amazing VRevs burgers, and then over to the Deaf Institute to see the brilliant Tyondai Braxton. Lots of people sent me lovely birthday messages on that there social media. I stayed over at Nat and Paul's house (sans Nat), and got some quality cat snuggle time in. All in all, pretty victorious.

On March 28th, I finally had the long anticipated fall (how Yorkshire's A&E departments cope I have no idea, this is some treacherous countryside). Luckily it was a comparatively minor twisted ankle, and I didn't even actually fall over, just stumbled, and spent a moment in intense pain, but then it faded. I may have made a mistake of then doing a further 17k steps on said ankle, which by the evening had swollen up and was agony, and I could barely walk.

I got pretty scared that it was going to be bad, but luckily after a night's sleep it felt a lot better. I planned to take it easy on the 29th, but then I walked Charlie twice, went for lunch at the Egg Factory, did loads of chores, and went up to Manchester for the evening. So that went well.

(Luckily my ankle is made of tough stuff and is pretty much completely better now)

Dogs are great.

Hebden Bridge is lovely.

The evenings are getting lighter.

I've got lots of exciting work lined up.

Loads of people are coming to visit us this month.

Everything's going to be okay.