Biography/map project – all the places I’ve spent the night

A few weeks ago, in those crazy moments between turning off the light and actually falling asleep, I had an idea to make this map as a way of preserving memories: a map of everywhere I’ve spent the night in the UK.

View Places I’ve spent the night in a larger map

I’ll call it an ongoing project because a) I’m not dead yet and will (hopefully) spend the night in other places in my life, and b) I might remember some things I’ve forgotten thus far, but I think it’s pretty complete. (The one major exception at the moment is the location in Wales where I spent my first birthday – got to find our roughly where that was. I suspect there also might be a few more around Merseyside – mum & dad’s friends/family – from when I was very small.)

The pinpoints with a dot in them are precise, the ones without a dot are not as precise either because it’s really hard to pinpoint exactly where it was (such as camping at a festival) or for privacy reasons (nearly all private houses are dropped at the nearest cross-roads). The only one that is inaccurate because I can’t remember exactly where it was is the one in dropped in Hexham – we got a lift from Hexham station to a nearby village, and I don’t think I ever knew what that was called.

The colour of the pins represent how many nights I spent in the location in a nice spectrum- light turquoise-y blue is 1-2 nights, mid-blue is 2-4 nights, deep blue is 5-10 nights, pinky-purple is more than 10 nights and red, a home of less than a year. Long term homes (a year plus) break the nice getting-redder colour sequence and are in green.

From the map, it appears I have never spent a night in Lancashire proper, including Greater Manchester (unusual given the clusters on either side of it), or in Wales apart from when I was very small.

On the off-chance I’ve spent a night at your house, or spent a night with you somewhere I’ve forgotten, do please let me know so I can add it to the map. Either leave a comment or email me.

I very much like the idea of making a hard copy version of this from a big map and a whole lot of coloured pushpins. One day…

3BT – getting closer, pancakes, park, gazing

1. It’s too early and I’m drowsy but still awake enough to notice that the dog and cats are sleeping six inches apart.

2. The dusting of sugar instantly melts on the hot flat surface. The third pancake though is best: not only is it dripping with honey but it can be eaten sitting down.

3. Horsforth Park is busy: the grass stretching out into the distance, filled with dogs, joggers and children all enjoying the sun and the green space. The girls walk side by side, both heeling to David’s new doggie authoritah.

4. The room is full in the afternoon: the boys hypnotised by the baby, the girls focused on the dog. Neither subject objects to the attention.

Then and now

At New Year 1999/2000 (then), I was 20 years old. At New Year 2009/2010 (now), I’m 30 years old.

Then, I was in Liverpool, specifically Toxteth, in a small, rented one bedroom flat. Now, I’m living on the edge of Bradford in a great three-bed house, which we will be all ours in 25 years time (or thereabouts).

Then, I was in the last year of my degree and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Now, I’ve got my own company but still have little idea what I want to do with my life.

Then, I wanted to be an academic and a writer. Now, I make some of my money through writing but not as I’d imagined (making money by writing on the internet was an alien concept to me back then) but I’m so disheartened by the politics & agendas of academia that I can’t see myself returning to work in a university again. (Hell, even to study in one to a large extent, and that’s saying a lot as I still love learning.)

Then, I was with Dave – we’d just celebrated our 2nd anniversary. Now, I’m with John and if we celebrated anniversaries, we’d have exchanged “happy 7 years!” cards earlier this year.

Then, we had two awesome cats – Carla and Carbon. Now, we have three awesome, mature cats – Carla, Carbon and Boron. Sili’s ashes sit on the mantelpiece, awaiting sprinkling into the cat nip seedlings plant pots in the spring.

Then, my main hobbies were reading (mostly stuff for my degree), playing ‘The Sims’ & ‘Age of Empires’/’Age of Kings’ and watching bad films. Now, my main hobbies are making stuff, eating good food, playing management games (most recently ‘OpenTTD’; and ‘Air Traffic Control’ & ‘Harvest Moon’ on my DS) and making fun of bad films with good friends.

Then, my favourite food was Bradford curries – a rare pleasure whenever we crossed the Pennines, unmatched in Liverpool. Now, my favourite food is Bradford curries – we enjoy them considerably more frequently now.

Then, my favourite author by far was Douglas Coupland. Now, I don’t really have a favourite author – much as I don’t have a favourite band or favourite film. Some of my favourite books include ‘Revolutionary Road’ by Richard Yates, ‘Prep’ by Curtis Sittenfeld, ‘How I paid for college’ by Marc Acito, ‘Drop City’ by TC Boyle and John Wyndham’s cosy catastrophes. In 1999/2000, my favourite Douglas Coupland book was ‘Microserfs’; in 2009/2010, it’s ‘Miss Wyoming’.

Then, I only had access to the internet on the PCs at university and the main sites I visited were Yahoo (search & mail), Geocities (the home of my first website, started in 1997) and Freeservers (which hosted the majority of my websites by then). Now, I have access to the internet at home, at work, just about everywhere and the main sites I visit are Google (search & feed reader), Twitter and Wikipedia.

Then, my websites included a guide to my hometown for young people (it was the first of its kind but never up to date), a CV site including samples of my academic work & fiction, and an alumnae site for my old school. Now, my websites include a well-regarded recycling site, a once-more-renowned-than-now celebrity gossip site and a personal indulgence site (ie. this one).

Then, I thought the internet was amazing. Now, I think the internet is quadruple-amazing, although even I think it’s getting a bit overloaded with silly cat pictures.

Then, the computer we shared at home ran Windows 95. Now, our personal laptops run Ubuntu.

Then, I typically wore blue jeans with a t-shirt/vest top and a fleece jacket. I wore skirts quite regularly too. Now, I typically wear blue (albeit darker blue) jeans with a t-shirt/vest top, and a cotton hoodie. I very rarely wear skirts or dresses.

Then, I wore a size 5 shoe when I should probably have been wearing 5.5 or 6. Now, I wear a size 6.5/7 shoe and my feet are wide after finally releasing them from the bind of small tight shoes.

Then, I wore the same jewellery all the time – silver star stud earrings, a plain silver necklace and silver rings. Now, I make jewellery but don’t wear it that much, aside from my silver thumb ring.

Then, my favourite colour was silver and I hated the colour green, particularly for clothing, associating it with school. Now, my favourite colour is greyish pale teal generally, black or dark grey for clothes and I really quite like the colour green (albeit a far brighter and more cheerful shade than Greenbank’s bottle green).

Then, I hadn’t been to any of the places on my “I really really really want to go there at some point” top 10 list. Now, I have been to three of them (Venice, Russia and Berlin) and hope to go to at least one of the others next year.

Then, I was very distrusting of other women and most of my friends were boys. Now, most of my friends are still boys but I’ve learned that women aren’t all bad.

Then, I desperately wanted to reconnect with a good few people who were AWOL from my life at the time. Now, I’m in touch with some of them again and realised I’m not really too bothered about most of the rest. (Then, I read through hundreds upon hundreds of Yahoo results unsuccessfully trying to track them down. Now, I dare say if I was bothered about finding the rest, I’d know what level zombie they are on Facebook within milliseconds.)

Then, I pictured an eventual home as somewhere with a little land so we could have a few sheep as well as cats and dogs – but it was, strangely, always night in my mental picture. Now, the picture is similar except there are chickens as well as sheep, maybe even goats or a house cow the more I read about them – and it’s a lot lighter and brighter.

Then, I was adamant that I would not have children. Now, I’m still confident that I won’t give birth myself but we would like to adopt if possible.

Then, I wasted a lot of time and energy worrying about stuff unnecessarily, and being consumed by petty jealousy. Now, I do the same, sigh.

Then, I didn’t know how good I had it. Now, I know more clearly but still don’t make the most of it.

Ukepedia – our fun! new! project

ukepedia logoBack in August, I had earache. Otitis Media to be specific.

After I got back from having it checked out by my doctor, I wrote a Twitter about it. John was playing on his ukelele and looking over my shoulder at the time so sang the Twitter as I wrote it.

Then I went over to Wikipedia to read all about Otitis Media, and as I read, John sang. As it turned out, the Otitis Media article worked beautifully as a song.

So we made it into a song. And we put the song on a website. And a fun new project was born.

Like with ELER, after an initial flurry of action, we’ve been a bit slow on it of late – but other members of the Church of the Ukelele have been stepping up and the collection of videos is slowly growing.

If you can play the uke – or any other instrument – and fancy joining the cool kids club, there are full instructions on the site.

There are only about 2,576,419 articles to go – so hurry!