Monday 26 November 2012

The Royal Ballet experience

Saturday was Royal Opera House night!

One of my lovely new ballet/twitter friends from the Ballet Tweet-Up had a spare ticket, and it was a great one: Royal Ballet performing Swan Lake, last in the season, particularly good cast (so I'm told - I'm not really all-knowledged-up about these things).

I got all dressed up (I love getting dressed up for the theatre!), and headed over to Covent Garden. It was all Christmas-y:

The Royal Opera House was magical!

The orchestra was wonderful, the dancing was wonderful - it was all wonderful!

Favourite part? The swans. So many ballerinas all dancing together - sometimes in complete synchronisation, sometimes all moving in different directions at the same time. It was magical :)

I obviously don't have any pictures of the show, but here's a short Royal Opera House video about the swans performing in the Corps de Ballet:

Thursday 22 November 2012

Panda time

I haven't done much over the last week. And that feels alright.

One thing that has been putting a smile on the face (apart from remembering that I'm going to the Royal Opera House this weekend!), is the Chengu Pambassador facebook page.

They basically fill my timeline with cute panda pictures, which make me smile on a daily basis...

Sunday 18 November 2012

Fridge soup

A great friend introduced me to the concept of fridge soup, one of those make-it-up-as-you-go-along type meals.

Contents of my fridge that needed eating: half a butternut squash, a slightly sad looking sweet potato, a bag of new potatoes and half a bag of rather old carrot batons.

- roast the butternut squash and sweet potato
- boil the potatoes and carrots in stock
- mash it all together with a bit of pepper and a knob of butter
- eat

Friday 16 November 2012

How to stay healthy... ?

Generally I think of myself as pretty healthy; I eat quite a few vegetables (and some fruit), I exercise (usually at least twice a week), and I just about get enough sleep. Ok, so I have lazy days, I snack a bit and don't turn down pudding when eating out. But that doesn't sound too terrible, does it?!

What I'm discovering is that I don't think I'm as healthy as I think I am. As well as my hibernation issues last week, I'm now struggling with a touch of flu and feeling pretty rough. These things leave me wondering: Is my immune system low? Am I missing some important vitamins and minerals? How can I introduce more exercise into my routine?

So, changes to make:
  1. Multivitamins - I'm a bit lazy about taking multivits, but I think for the next few weeks I need to make this a priority.
  2. Fresh fruit every day - I tend to eat tinned, cooked or dried fruit, but not much fresh fruit. Time for a change!
  3. Fresh air every day - this sounds stupidly simple, but at the moment I don't spend much time outside. During the week, I barely get out at all (unless you count walking from my home to my car and from my car to work, which I don't think counts). Today I walked to the post box. It only took about ten minutes but it felt good. I need to be doing this every day!
  4. Drink more water - feeling under the weather has reminded me to stay hydrated.
What is your top tip to feeling healthier?

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Bonfire-y dreams

So I finally started to escape from hibernation's grip, and what did I do?! Work another firework show. I know - it sounds bad, but actually it was a very small show and was very relaxed:
     noon - collect van
     1pm - arrive on site
     2pm - stop for a lunch break (Really?! What's one of those?)
     3.30pm - all fireworks rigged and the system electrically tested. Rest for a while.
     6.15pm - light the bonfire
     7pm - fireworks
     7.15pm - eat a hot dog :)
     7.30pm - clear up
     8.30pm - leave site. I was in bed by 10.30pm!

It was nice to be trundling along rather than racing, but it was a little dull compared to the weekend before.

The best part was the bonfire. It wasn't expected to be - the social group who were organising the event had built the bonfire about a week before and it had rained a lot. We warned the client that it might not burn and it took a lot of cardboard and patience with a gas torch to get it going, but eventually we did...

It doesn't look that big without reference points, but it was at least six foot tall.
Bonfires are so warm and lovely :)

The amusement factor of the evening was the low-lying fog which crept in after dark. It didn't affect the show too much, but the clearing up was interesting. At one point I could barely see my own boots in the light of my headtorch!

However, back to real life now - tonight I'm off to my first ballet class in two weeks...

Friday 9 November 2012


I think I'm in full blown hibernation mode! I don't know if my body is complaining about all the firework-y busy-ness of last week, but I am sleepy!

This week I have slept 9-10 hours every night, eaten like a horse and still been yawning and tired. My brain has also fallen asleep and it is taking a lot of effort to organise myself each day. I didn't even go to either of my ballet lessons this week :(

I'm desperately hoping that it's just a reaction to the hard physical work and long hours I did. The other options are that I'm coming down with something or that I'm now hibernating for the winter. If that's the case then I guess I'll see you all again in April!

Thursday 8 November 2012

White van girl and blowing up a castle

Saturday started early. Very early.

My first job of the day was van driving! It wasn't anything huge (my licence doesn't cover anything bigger than a long wheel-based transit), but it was still a little bit daunting. I got right into my stride, although I have to admit to not being your typical white-van-girl: tea in the cup holder and radio 4 playing in the background (I'm so old before my years!).

Our convey arrived in rainy Kenilworth and proceded to the site - around the ancient walls of the castle to the front. This was where my new van-driving skills let me down - it was grassy, muddy and wet :( One of the French crew that were working with us had to take over so that my van made it across the slippery surface safely.

This was a big rig: 12 crew working pretty much flat out. Seven firing positions, plus a mini bonfire-lighting show and lights on the wall of the castle to synchonise with the main show.

Isn't it an amazing setting?
The Round Table folks were very kind - every hour they came round with tea and coffee, and in some cases sandwiches and biscuits!

At 6:30pm, I cued the bonfire show. It was only 12 cues, but it was my first time giving the GOs on the radio. Exciting...

Monday 5 November 2012

Fireworks on water

Unfortunately, my regular sailing trip clashed with the busiest fireworks weekend of the year so I was unable to meet up with my boating mates (the Pteraductyls). On the bright side, I did end up very close to them and on a boat (well, a barge) in the middle of Portsmouth harbour.

Friday started innocuously enough - I was at the fireworks yard (Rocket Park), ready to start my third day of loading vans, labelling ADR loads (for those vehicles carrying a large amount of explosives), charging radios and other essential prep tasks for the many crews heading out over the weekend.

Then came a change of plan - the team at Portsmouth were down a crew member. Off I trundled with my kit box, PPE (personal protective equipment) and plenty of warm/dry/waterproof layers of clothing.

The rig was very cool - a small show on the pontoon and then two barges full of fireworks. I had to roll up my sleeves and get stuck in, helping to organise the shells - those are the large fireworks that shoot high into the sky and then burst, usually into a sphere of colour. During the rigging, the barges were moored up to the pontoon which made everything much easier. As did the sunny weather!

The cakes (multi-shot fireworks) being laid out, before being secured.
A shot across the barge (including the crane), showing the famous Spinnaker Tower in the background.
These racks of tubes are secured firmly together for the shells, which are placed individually at the bottom of the tubes.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Sleepy firework girl

I am shattered.

First, there was two days of working in the yard. This mostly consisted of lifting and lugging to prepare all of the vans for the busy weekend.

Then, I ended up unexpectedly working the firework show at Gunwharf Quay, Portsmouth. The fireworks were rigged on a pontoon and two barges which were towed into the middle of the harbour by tug boats...
Apologies for a rubbish photo - I only had my phone with me. Trust me - it was fabulous!

And yesterday was a pretty big show at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire. It was a pretty intense rig (and we hadn't had much rest time after the previous show), but we got everything done and it was a pretty cool display.
Huge crowd and lots of great fireworks infront of the castle :)

At some point, when I've had more sleep, have washed the black powder and mud out of my clothes and let my tired muscles recover, I'll write a bit more and share some better pictures.

PS - I managed to pack everything I needed for a whole week away, including various different activities! I don't think I've ever before been able to say that I have packed everything I needed :)