January 2012

Books read in January:

  1. Ransom. David Malouf.
  2. The Thief. Megan Whalen Turner.
  3. The Book of Atrix Wolfe. Patricia A. McKillip
  4. Purity and Danger: An analysis of concept of pollution and taboo. Mary Douglas. (50%)
  5. Twice upon a time: Women writers and the history of the fairy tale. Elizabeth Wanning Harries. (50%)
  6. Dune. Frank Herbert. (50%)

I’m a bit flabbergasted that I’ve only actually finished three books this month — I had to include my in-progress reading to feel better about myself. Oh well.

I contradict myself

The event I coordinated for my museum on Saturday night was a splendid success. For various reasons, we only had a week for publicity, so I was expecting a maximum of twenty people. We had sixty (60). The musicians were talented and knowledgeable, the audience enjoyed themselves, and although we only had two staff on site (I thought we would have three) everything was still covered. I really do enjoy my job. I really do like working with museums.

But when I’m not being the sophisticated, collected Front of House/Visitor Services Assistant, I’m the mad woman tottering around town on only two and a half hours of sleep, thinking and speaking in confused Spanglish. The crazy lady who whispers to snowdrops and bluebells to stay asleep, it isn’t spring yet, it isn’t time to bloom, and who swings her umbrella at the swarm of seagulls that attack while she’s feeding the ducks (surprisingly effective, she might add).

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.

Thank goodness Mondays are my day off.

Favourite things


I took a lot of pictures in the wonderful light today. Some of them might feature as future favourite things. One can’t have too much sunlight in winter.

Yes, it’s been a quiet week. Reading lots in the office, deciding what texts to read for this term’s Medieval Reading Group (we might have a theme! Mythical beasts. My text will feature a unicorn), serving at church, drinking tea with friends, and most of this week spent fighting a cold.

Favourite things

Some favourite things can’t be captured in a photograph.

Like the hushed susurrus of waves washing over rocks at the base of a cliff. Or the gleam of pale winter’s sunlight on a seagull in flight, gone in an instant. Or the satisfaction of, after fighting a mental block all day, being able to read at least one chapter out of a book and find it both useful and thought provoking.


Some days, even when you have a lunch with a good friend, or make faces with your nephew on skype, or actually chat with one of your best friends because you’re once again in close enough time zones, you still just want to curl up in a fleecy blanket and eat chocolate.

Today is one of those days. It is January. The darkest month of the year.

I know why the birds fly south.

Yesterday, I saw swans in the harbour. We are slowly marching toward spring. Some days, though, it is still the dark of winter.

Wandering in Larnaca

You thought I was going to post about London next, didn’t you? Well I’m not, because Chris sent me photos of our second day in Cyprus and now I’m going to share them with you.

As I said, we had planned on going to Nicosia on our second day, but the feast of Epiphany meant it was a public holiday and the buses weren’t running as scheduled. We knew there would be a procession from St Lazarus Church to the marina. So we squeezed our way through the crowd that had welled up around the marina and waited an hour for the procession to meet us there.

A military band played while the various priests, acolytes, and other members of the procession passed us (to me it looked like an assortment of girl scouts and boy scouts, but who knows what they were?). Meanwhile, the Hellenic Sea Scouts rowed their boats into position in the marina and the men would be taking part in the ceremony waited on a boat.
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Ali Baba pots

Chris and I had notorious bad luck when it came to museums in Cyprus. Every time we went to one, it was closed. So we did a lot of wandering around and sitting in cafés instead. Most of my photos, as a result, are somewhat random. For instance:

Why not clamber on top of a huge Ali Baba jar? Chris reluctantly took this photo of me. She said that if I were one of her students I’d so be in trouble right then. I wanted to climb inside, but, well, even this was a bit too precarious… Continue reading

A taste of Turkey

On our second day in Cyprus, Chris and I wanted to go to Nicosia. That day was the Feast of Epiphany, however, and because it was a public holiday we ended up staying in Larnaca. I don’t have any pictures from that day, so my account of Larnaca will have to wait until Chris has sent me a few of hers.

We went to Nicosia on Saturday instead. Nicosia is the capitol of Cyprus and it is also the last remaining divided city in Europe. In the 1970s, Turkey invaded the island and now occupies the northern part of the country. Both countries claim Nicosia as their capitol, and the Green Line divides the city between them. Because we were curious, and a bit adventure seeking, Chris and I went to have a look.

Crossing the border was surprisingly easy. We walked through the buffer zone, which was occupied by protestors, and then had our passports checked by the Turkish Cypriot border guards. Our guard was really friendly and he even let Chris and I stamp our own passports! We were, perhaps, more than a little excited about this breech of normal procedure.

And then we were in the Turkish Republic of Norther Cyprus, a ‘country’ not internationally recognised and which we did have mixed feelings about being in, but was fascinating to walk around in.

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I like Cypriot cats

Well, I’m back. Even though I was only gone for a week it feels like much longer. I was in Edinburgh for a day, in Cyprus for three days, and in London for two days. It was so wonderful to get away for a bit — and to go somewhere so very different, yet familiar, where there was sun and warmth and the best food I’ve ever eaten.

Thank you to those who voted in my poll. It seems like you all want to hear about being an ex-pat the most, and one of the best parts of being an American in the UK is the opportunity to travel. For instance, going to Cyprus.

I think one of my new goals in life is to visit as many Mediterranean countries as I can.

Three days in Cyprus really isn’t enough. It was supposed to be a four-day holiday, but weather in Edinburgh intervened to delay my flight by 24 hours (a trend, I am discovering, whenever I try to leave the country). Even so, my holiday was worth every minute. Chris had already set up our flat in Larnaca, and on the first day we went to Limassol, mainly to see the Roman ruins at Kourion. Continue reading