Friday, 11 January 2013

Friday Five: Calendars

Bamburgh Castle - Joe Cornish
A New Year means new calendars - I love calendars; great pictures that change every month for variety and colour in the corner of your office/ kitchen/ bathroom. Of course, they are functional for recording holidays, doctor appointments and Liverpool football matches (and mother's day - an important one that) but I reckon you can tell a lot about a person by their choice of calendar. The number I own is only limited by the available space I have to hang them. So you can make of this what you will, without further ado...

My 5 2013 Calendars:
  1. One I made myself featuring photos I've taken over the past year of places I've been
  2. Joe Cornish's Landscape Light - an annual gift from my sister of fabulous scenic photos of North East England with an unexpected perspective
  3. The Chilterns in watercolour - I bought this when I was back in England; with pictures of Marlow, Henley,Cookham Dean, Hughenden Manor and Christmas Common, how could I refuse?
  4. Railway Poster Art from the National Railway Museum collection - all the vibrant prints are designed to promote to travel to areas of Britain, such as Devon, North Wales or the Lake District - the one for the Yorkshire Dales boasts 'a land of narrow valleys and attractive villages, of heather-covered hills and moors, of ancient abbeys and castles, the principal dales are readily accessible by rail and form a holiday paradise for walkers, anglers and all who prefer the quiter place'.
  5. London Underground Diary - yes, well done eagle-eyed readers; it's a diary, but it has got brilliant images of posters from the 1910s to the 1960s and 'interesting facts' about the tube - this week I learned that 'during peak hours more than 500 trains are in operation'.
Artwork by Ronald Lampitt

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

My Newest Favourite Thing: Air Conditioning

We are struggling through a heat wave in Canberra. I got heat exhaustion on New Year's Eve. The early hours of the morning saw me gibbering on the bathroom floor trying to get cool - and (for once) it was nothing to do with the drink (not the alcoholic ones, anyway - it probably had a lot to do with the fact I had spent eight hours outdoors with insufficient hydration).

Temperatures here are in the high 30s/ low 40s, which is too hot for me. The Bureau of Meteorolgy has added new colours to its interactive weather forecasting chart (deep purple and pink) to widen the temperature range, previously capped at 50 degrees. There is now the added complication of gusting winds and no clouds, leading to electrical storms and no rain. Bush and grass fires are raging: I have heard almost continuous fire engine sirens today; the fire fighters are working overtime; the sky is dark and the air smells of smoke. This is my first 'bush fire season' and I'm not enjoying it.

I try to exercise early in the morning (not my best time, let's be honest) and then focus on more sedentary pursuits for the rest of the day. Lots of folk are heading to the seaside - we did that but it's a two-and-a-half hour drive and the road is now closed due to fire risk. Also, heat makes people grumpy and irritable - the last thing I want to do is be around lots of these type of people at the beach. We went to the mountains to cool down at the weekend (it's about five degrees cooler up there) - there is a bushfire there today.

I know some people like this sort of heat - cousin Rachael asked me to take a breath of the lung-desiccating air on her behalf (I took several, Rach) - but I am not one of them. Neither is the cat. He is flopping about the place even more than usual. The local government is warning people to drink lots of water, limit activity and stay indoors. This is all well and good if you've got air-conditioning. We haven't.

Him Outdoors works in air-conditioning buildings and drives around in the air-conditioned car, but there's nothing he can do about the stifling machine rooms and lift pits where the electical gadgetry is housed. In the last few days I have spent time at art galleries, cinemas and libraries. I like these places anyway, but their air-conditioning is the main drawcard at the moment. The only problem is the transport there - either walking 20 minutes to the bus stop and praying I don't have to run for the bus - or biking there and arriving with dripping hair under the bike helmet.

I have even spent more time than is strictly necessary in shopping malls and supermarkets. I know I have previously mentioned how much I dislike these places. But right now, keeping cool is a priority and I will do it any way I can. If only I could take Chester with me...