Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Set the controls for the heart of the sun...

This is a photo that K took and left on our computer. I like it.

Also in the category of stuff that K left behind that I like: Kazuo Ishigiro's The Remains of the Day and LCD Soundsystem's Sound of Silver.

Hey so it is a bit lonely in Walthamstow, Ross is getting close to deadline in his work with Dmitri, so he stayed in Camberwell last night and is staying again tonight. Boo! It makes sense to stay because it takes him so long to travel, and I guess I am pretty okay with being alone for a little while.

Some friends of ours came over last night, they are a couple and were talking about being apart, and how they couldn't possibly do it. A situation arose where he has an incentive to go back to Perth pretty soon, but she was looking forward to travelling and enjoying England a bit more. Their general take was "Gosh, it's a bit of a bummer that she has to leave early" - there was no option for her not to go when he leaves... I don't know if it even occurred to her.

We saw some other friends on Saturday night, he's studying in Oxford and she's living here and working, but not really in any sort of career type job. They're going back to Perth for a few months over Christmas, and she mentioned that if she did stumble across a career type job in Perth, she would probably take it. The way she put it, obviously long distance sucks, but they've done it before and could do it again if they had to.

It's funny when life gives you such obviously contrasting stories. Makes me feel like I'm in a movie or motivational video or something. I'm waiting for everything to pause, then a voiceover and accompanying text will say

I don't think I would want to miss out on opportunities because I had to go wherever Ross went, and I wouldn't want him to miss out on anything for me. There are worse things than being lonely from time to time, and I feel like we could catch up once we were finally together again.

In other news, our neighbours are WEIRD. There's one dude whose lounge room window directly faces our kitchen window, and we've had some dealings with him that have led to him being nicknamed Phil Collins*. Anyway, all night he's been really agitated and shouty. After I had a shower, I noticed the kitchen window was open and I went to close it and I swear he was NUDE at his window! I backed off really quick and went upstairs, but I could still hear him muttering to himself. Nut-ter.

Oh yeah, I should explain these pictures. It was a wedding gift from some of Ross' friends, one of those crystal garden things. They are amazing and great, and everyone should get one.

* I wasn't around for it, but apparently Joe and Ross and Daisy were sitting in the kitchen listening to music, and all of a sudden he started blaring Phil Collins really loud. They looked out the window, and he stood there for a second before shouting "I HATE YOU".
Joe paused for a second, then said "I don't hate you".
Another pause, then the dude gives them all a thumbs up and a big cheesy grin.
Phil Collins, man. He is nuts.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Happy Birthday Amma!

It is my grandma KristĂ­n's birthday today, so I figure it's time for a Sigga-style appreciation post, don't you?

My Amma is pretty amazing. She's had a pretty eventful life, moving from a tiny fishing village in northern Iceland to sunny Perth in Australia. I can't imagine what it must have been like for them to leave everything behind and move to a place so different and far away... Must have taken a lot of courage and determination.

She was always the most grandma-y of my grandmas, the one who baked and knitted and made things from scratch. She has tried for many years to teach me valuable skills, I have finally learnt how to knit a little.

She's really generous with her time, making the trip up the hill to visit the 'old people' in the hospital, and also going out of her way to see friends and family who don't have many other visitors.

When I was twelve, my parents sent me to live with Amma in Iceland for a year. It was a pretty intense time, I was getting all mopey and teenagery, and poor Amma had to deal with me, but I'm so glad for the time we got to spend together.
Then again when I was seventeen I got to stay for another year. Amma got me a job, looked after me and gave me some pretty good advice about growing up.

More recently, Amma has welcomed Ross and I into her house every time we've gone to Iceland over the past year. I think one of the best things about being here in the UK is being able to visit on a pretty regular basis, and spend some quality time with her.

And she did heaps of work in planning the wedding and making it all happen - I'm so grateful to her for that! She made everyone feel at home, and made sure all our guests were happy, comfortable and well fed.

So yeah, she is pretty awesome! I'm sure you knew that anyway, right?
Love you lots Amma! Hope your day was lovely!

Some pictures from France...

They're not really that french - no baguettes or berets anywhere...

This is the courtyard in the old monastery/hotel we stayed at.

This is our fanbelt. I was later informed that you can keep a car going by tying a pair of stockings where the fanbelt should be, but I don't know if it's a good idea to do that to hire cars...

This is Ross walking back from the emergency phone - Andy took a whole series of them, with Ross gradually getting closer and closer. Yay for hi-viz jackets!

Waiting in the dark for the runner to come pick us up. This would have been about ten past eleven, and we're doing some maths to figure out exactly how much time we needed to get there.

It's weird, the guys were really really stressed out when there was nothing to do but wait. I, on the other hand, the queen of worrying (okay, maybe not queen, but a duchess for sure), found it easier to relax once it had been taken out of our hands. Maybe I'm getting better at identifying situations where worrying is completely pointless. Or something.

After we'd played our set, just a surreal moment in photo form. Also, Ross' mum bought me a watch when she was over - isn't it awesome?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Short story is: we played a good show!

But that's not the interesting part. You know you want to hear the long version...

I went to work on Friday morning so that the other girl could have a bit of a sleep in before her double shift. Andy and Ross went to pick up the van so we could be in Dover by midday - unfortunately we were running late, so we ended up on the 3.30 ferry to Calais instead of the one at two o'clock. Still, we figured we'd make the festival on time - St. Malo is about five and a half hours' drive from Calais, and we didn't have to load in until midnight. At worst, we would have missed some amazing bands...

About an hour and a half out of Calais, there was a thumpy flappy noise and Ross pulled over on the side of the motorway (I think it was the A28, if you're interested!). Sure enough, underneath the car he found the shredded remains of the fanbelt. We cursed a bit, then made a few phone calls:

1. the AA number that came with the van - the lovely folks told us that it was too dangerous for them to come out onto the motorway, so we should call the police and get them to tow us somewhere.

2. the police - who informed us that in order to know where we were, we needed to call from a roadside emergency phone. Ross hiked a mile or two down the motorway, and when he reached the phone they told him to get back to his car, quickly! It's DANGEROUS on the motorway! I guess when you break down you should do it right next to one of those phones, otherwise you probably shouldn't bother.

3. the car hire company. Keep in mind that these people specialise in hiring vans out to touring bands, i.e. people who are kind of in a hurry to get where they're going. They didn't answer the phone. Not the office phone, not the emergency mobile, not the backup emergency mobile.
Points for customer service: zero.

4. festival booker and all round nice helpful guy, Pierre. He offered to call the police for us to find out what was going on, where we were getting towed, etc. He also said he'd do his best to figure out how we would cover the 400 kilometres between us and the festival.

Eventually the tow truck came, driven by a man who spoke no English at all. We struggled to understand each other for a stupidly long time, then Andy finally got the bright idea to call Pierre and get him to translate and explain the plan.

1. Tow truck takes us to their garage - nearly an hour back the way we had come.
2. We hang out at a restaurant nearby, where we wait frustratedly for a runner from the festival to come and pick us up.
3. Runner somehow manages to bend time and space so that he can cover nearly 800 kilometres in six and a half hours, delivering us to the stage just before we're supposed to play.

Amazingly, the plan went exactly as... well, planned. We arrived at the festival to a round of applause from the stage crew, who then loaded all our gear onstage and helped us set up. We took ten minutes to make sure our instruments made the right noises, then played what was, given the circumstances, a pretty awesome set.

The whole experience was really bizarre. I'm used to spending most of the time before a show preparing for it - tuning, waiting, writing a set list, promising each other that we're going to freak some people out. Instead, we went from asleep in a van to onstage in front of 5000 people in fifteen minutes flat.
We started out a little bit shaky (no soundcheck = you end up with Andy's keyboard blaring at you from your foldback = ouch, my face), but it was pretty awesome towards the end. After the show we were driven back to our hotel, which turned out to be an old monastery. Felt kind of haunted, but slept regardless.

The next day we wanted to a) find a way home, and b) convince either the car hire company or the insurance company to help us out a little. Unfortunately, we failed at both - there was a public holiday in France on Saturday, so there was no way to hire a new van. And dealing with bureaucracy just sucks; Andy was on the phone for hours but the issues just seemed to go on and on.

The bright side is that if you're going to be stranded somewhere, La Route du Rock festival is an alright place to be. Pierre (previously mentioned nice guy) arranged for us to get free lunch and dinner at the festival, gave us a rider and let us watch the bands, in between bouts of interviews, acoustic sets and lying in the sunshine. Even when it's bad, it's a pretty good life.

Pierre was also amazingly dedicated to trying to find a way to get us and our gear home (I guess if he hadn't, he would have been stuck with us, so it makes sense). He looked up every possible combination of taxi rides, runner trips, ferries and trains, and we finally ended up with a viable route home on Sunday. Took ages to get it all sorted, so we left the festival at three thirty and got to the hotel at four am.

Got up at five, dragged our sorry carcasses outside, where a runner waited to drive us to Caen (two hours). From Caen, we caught a passenger ferry to Portsmouth (six hours), then a couple of shuttle buses and a train to Waterloo station (two and a bit hours). We had a show booked for that night - eventually decided that we'd had enough of public transport, so we headed straight to the venue instead of detouring via Walthamstow.

Meanwhile, Pierre convinced another band to cram our instruments in their van, so we ended up getting most of it delivered to the venue right on time! Following the theme of the weekend, Joe's amp somehow ended up at someone else's house, so it arrived a little bit later than the rest of our stuff. It meant we missed soundcheck, but we laugh in the face of no soundcheck, remember?

We played a cracker of a show, which was awesome. After all the uncertainty and hassle of the previous couple of days, it was great to be able to just play some songs and have some people listen and enjoy it and say nice things. It's nice to be in control of your situation...
After the show, we got a taxi home and loaded the gear inside and slept the sleep of the awesomely exhausted.

So that's pretty much it, except for my sweet little epilogue:

I was rostered on for the seven til three shift today. Like an idiot, I forgot to change my phone back from French time, so instead of waking up at the awful hour of five, I accidentally woke up at the horrendous hour of four.

Tired to the point of stupidity, I didn't figure it out until I got to the train station. Even then, it took the big locked gates outside of the station to get my attention... Needless to say, I was not very awesome at work today.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Hey so I have some awesome news which is awesome -
This Friday, we're playing a festival... (wait for it)

in a castle... (wait)

on the beach... (holy crap wait)

in Brittany! (oh my gosh isn't that amazing?)

Yes, yes it is. This band the Horrors pulled out, and our hopefully soon-to-be booking agent in France offered us their slot, with all expenses paid. That includes food, van hire, ferry crossing, and a stay in this hotel. Heck. Yeah.
Plus the other bands playing are amazing - My Bloody Valentine, Tortoise, Grizzly Bear, Peaches - although we'll miss most of them as we have to return to London on Saturday to play a show on Sunday at a slummy pub. Aw...

It was pretty funny, we got invited yesterday, and when I got home from work Joe told me all about it. And believe it or not, I initially considered saying no, because I have a shift at work on Friday, and we're pretty understaffed at the moment. I went upstairs for a bit to think about whether I could get off work...
Then I realised I would be a complete idiot to say no to a festival in France just because of a job that I don't even like that much. It was a bit of a duh moment once I thought about it. Good times.

So, what else? These are some of my favourite photos from the wedding, possibly all taken by Bridget...

I must get around to getting them printed, it would be nice to own some photos to show people, especially people at work. A girl there recommended a place that does really cheap prints from CD - as a way of describing how cheap, she mentioned they do A3 size prints for a pound each... Now I can't stop imagining how awesome it would be to have enormous photos of everyone.


Okay, so that's all really. Just wanted to remind you I exist. 'Cause I do and all. It's a hobby of mine.