It’s all just like…playing on monkey bars

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It started as a flippant description of how I was feeling about work – my friend described his graduate job as driving a car with no windows – I felt mine was like playing uncomfortably on monkey bars in the wind. However the past couple of months or so I feel like that description is taking on a life of its own. It’s scary how accurately is describes everything I do, not just with work….

Like playing on monkey bars in the playground, whatever I’m doing, whether work or life, I should be enjoying it. It’s meant to be fun, people ask how I am and expect a positive response.

After all the lunchtimes of playing on the monkey bars, or years of living experience, years of training, I should be used to it by now, even good at it.

But in reality, it’s pretty tough! Muscles strain in the arms, the metal grips are cold and uncomfortable. Gusts of wind whistle past to knock you off balance. Things I should have predicted, but didn’t see coming. A few gusts from the past week: trying to cancel Virgin Media account from where I moved out of over 6months ago…DPA=nightmare. Discovering that my (foreign) driver’s licence expired on my birthday and I can’t renew it til I’m physically at home again. Empty fridge, dirty laundry. Forgetting 10 hours or so on my timesheet at work and now no idea what to write down.

There are so many things that knock me off balance, which make me just want to hide in a corner til their gone. Except I can’t, life doesn’t work like that. Like on monkey bars, you can’t just go away and come back to the same point. For a start, the ground is a long way down, and there’s already a queue of children behind you ready to take your place. The only thing to do is to grip a bit tighter for a bit.

At the moment I’m lucky enough to have parents and family willing to help out, even from 1,000’s miles away. Like the teacher’s hands helping hold me up when I get stuck. But really I’m getting a bit old for people to have to drive hours on ‘mercy missions’ (as my aunts call them, I’m very grateful though I think that’s a bit melodramatic) to sort me out, and anyway, like on the monkey bars, needing help takes away the fun after a while!

During lulls, the constant uncomfortableness goes away a tiny bit when I release my grip and take a swing forwards, yet that then opens the perils of dangling over a dusty hard floor that can only be painful and isn’t where I want to be, it’s what I’ve worked hard to avoid. Working my way along the monkey bars is so difficult and exhausting. It seems endless and the only end in sight is the end: where it drops off and the game is over. done. finito. Back to earth, 6 feet under. each rung past can only be celebrated in terms of having left the previous rung. Or getting one more rung towards the end. Either way not a very reassuring celebration.

It’s not all negative – on the up side, sometimes you can get into a nice rhythm, swinging from one rung to the next. Building up momentum each bar seems easier to reach, it’s practically fun as you twist your hips side to side, you bet that people watching think you’re pretty cool and want to be like you. At some point though, there’s the sting of lactic acid building up, another gust of wind comes, someone laughs when they see your zipper half down. And it all starts again.

The words ‘self fulfilling prophecy’ come to mind (SG’s – Stress Guy’s – favourite phrase). I need to find a more appealing image and maybe that will help a tiny bit. Maybe, I live in hope. On the whole it is a fun game. If it weren’t, I’d just hop off and play on the see-saw, right?

Or I just need to get a grip…


‘Scuse me while I get my 9 hours sleep


For the past 366 days I’ve kept a mood and sleep diary (thanks to It might have produced some interesting data for a school maths project. But since I’ve obliterated all memory of statistics, here’s a simple graph I’ll keep in mind:


9 hours Good. 2 and 13 hours Bad.

An updated graph: When I looked at that graph last night I thought it wasn’t telling much of the story. (For a start I was surprised the figures were not more positive, after all 22nd March 2011 was after starting mirtazapine. The graph would have been more exciting if I’d kept it in the preceding months!) But averages are averages they’ll make almost any bump look flat.  This graph, which shows all the days, shows the relationship is a little bit more chaotic! Though the trend line did still find the pattern of my first graph:

One thing to conclude is a happier day requires 6+ hours sleep, but sleep on its own won't make that happen. Shucks that's too easy I guess.

Seeing the good: Week in Pictures – 12th-18th March


Pne of Dream Electric’s recent posts, ‘Three Good Things – The Positive Data-Log’ struck a chord with me – it was what Celine (CBT Lady) encouraged me to do back in June last year, and what I aimed to do by starting the challenge of photographing what I did or saw each day! I find have a tendency to automatically see the bad side of things, so challenged myself to end each caption on a positive note, regardless of how it started out. It must be a positive thing to be able to do that (see what  I did there?!)!

Monday, 12th March: I've been keeping an eye on the buds on the shrub by the office door,. Reassuringly they'd sprung open over the weekend.

Tuesday, 13th March. This photo is meant to represent my Tuesday night running activity (our club runs start and finish at this tennis club but). After feeling a bit knocked by one of my bosses telling me my drawings weren't good enough, I appreciated going running and being competently able to put one foot in front of the other!

Wednesday, 14th March - Juicy kiwi berries (basically what it says on the tin: grape sized very sweet kiwis, eaten whole!) were on a sale offer at Budgens today, seemed very exotic in a corner of Suffolk!

Thursday 15th March: My birthday! Went to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at the old fashioned but perfectly decent Riverside theatre. Although at 26 I have to accept that I'm more than a quarter the way through my life, the pensioners in the film made me feel young still!

Friday 16th: Hazy Sunshine. I tried to line the sun up as a light bulb on the mast, but then forgot and missed half of it from the frame! I hope you still get the idea.

Saturday 17th: Came back from three hours of rowing to find I'd 'locked' my bike like this! Though I was thoroughly frustrated with myself for being so inoompetient, I did sort of persuade myself to see the funny side of it (my post on FB got quite a few '*likes*) and to be grateful that I live in a fairly civilized town with an undesirable 10pound granny bike.

Sunday 18th: I visited the Beth Chatto Gardens in Essex. It's a quiet time of year for the gardens, but the woodland bulbs and scree garden sempervirens were worth the logistics of 3 trains and a cycle ride to get there!


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Today project boss man inferred I should practice drawing with a pen and making more expressive strokes. Should I meekly agree that I’m not very practiced at it, or show him my weekend’s train journey endeavors?

I HAVE doodled with a pen recently! Though I suspect showing this page of my sketch book would raise more eyebrows than it's worth! I'll just continue to nod and agree my drawings skills aren't up to scratch yet.

Weekend in Pictures

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I’ve got to admit I surprised myself with an impressively full, for me, weekend! After several slumpish weeks I decided I needed to do something to change things, so on Tuesday, before the middle of the week crawl hit, I planned a weekend of activities in London. Though there were a few times when I tempted just to stay at home and hibernate (but knowing I’d berate myself again for being a useless hermit) – my aunt aptly described the logistics of organising my friends: ‘like herding cats’ – everything fitted together nicely like a jigsaw.

I travelled to London on Friday night.

By their nature I think rail stations are pretty grim places, so I appreciated this cheerful little touch in Ipswich station as I made my way to London.

Spotting this on one of the trains in London made me smile. Almost made up for the fact I'd jumped on the wrong train!

On Saturday morning I took my Granny out for a wheelchair walk along the Thames. We watched these scullers by Hampton Court. She later reported she had a very nice visit from her daughter-in-law. I guess she got it close enough, though I'm interested to know who she thinks her son is!

In the afternoon I visited Wisley. Though my friend thought it would be a washout to the point of not bothering to come, I still found a rainbow of colours and lots of textures. I also hope my company’s clients have generous budgets when I get to design their planting plans, I have made long lists of plants I’d love to include!

Colours and textures at Wisley

Saturday evening I met up with friends at an Iranian restaurant. Pomegranite and walnut sauce stew highly recommended!

Sunday morning went to see the Wildlife Photography exhibition at the Natural History Museum. I had lots of favourite photographs, though none of them were the winners actually selected by the judges!

Tern Style by Ilkka Rasanen. In a children's category no less! I would say it is well worth visiting, but Sunday was its last day! I think it will be touring the UK now, so in fact not too late to see it. It has inspired me to plan more photography focused outings, as well as just carrying my camera around for opportunistic snaps.

One of my own much more boring photos:

Exhibition Road, by the Natural History Museum, V&A, Royal Geographic Society and close to the Royal Albert Hall, has recently undergone a makeover, turning it into 'shared space'. With reduced road markings and no pavements, it is meant to be more pedestrian friendly and less car orientated. Its had mixed reviews, but considering that I was with two other landscape architect friends and none of us could agree on the 'rules of the road' in this scheme, I don't blame the general public for being a bit confused too! General consensus is that, unless its a very quiet Sunday afternoon, as it was, it is probably still best that pedestrians don't cross the road with a blind fold on!

We came across a nice Lebanese restuarant where we were talked into ordering far too many, but equally delicious, mezze dishes. I must have been inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine weekend (by chance I’d bought a carrot-coriander-houmous sandwich at Wisley too!) as I absent mindedly stocked up on houmous today in the supermarket.

Feeling well stuffed, had time just to dash back to pick up my stuff and start my mission of a journey to get home on Sunday night (thanks Greater Anglia, your rail ‘improvements’ had better be worth it!)

One other positive thing from last week:

7th March: Leaving work in the daylight for the first time this year!

Week in Pictures, 27th Feb – 4th March

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Even though this felt like a shaky week, looking back at my photos, I remember there were a few things to make me smile. One of the reasons I like carrying my camera with me.

Monday 27th - Not sure if you're meant to choose a doctors' office by the planting outside, but seemed a good enough reason as any (at the time at least, may want to punch myself later)!

Tuesday 28th - Found a dozy butterfly also enjoying its lunch

Thursday 1st March - 'Ray of Sunshine' cheering me up, and a little daffodil celebrating Dydd Gwyl Dewi

1st March - Mud squiggles. I like to imagine this as a huge canyon with alien (space) ships looming nearby.

Saturday, 3rd March - Came across this in the evening, wondered if Mother Nature can be considered a guerrilla gardener?

Sunday, 4th March: End to a topsy turvy grey week: topsy turvy houses in the rain. At least it gave me half a smile thinking about it!