Category Archives: Miscellaneous

I’ve moved!

Hello! Thank you for visiting my Crumbolina blog.

I’m no longer blogging here as I’ve started a new blog, Rambles and Relics, which celebrates adventure both indoors and out through travel, history and play. Why not check out some of my latest posts?

camping

Or if it’s my journalism portfolio you’re looking for, head over to www.pippashawley.co.uk

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High Kingsdown Co Op: The Inconvenient Truth

Epigrump is a fortnightly column in Epigram, where writers moan about what has got on their nerves recently. I wrote about the farcical nature of our local convenience store.

HIGH KINGSDOWN SWRG (Clarence Place, High Kingsdown, Bristol  BS2 8DD) Jun11

Cast your minds back to 2004 when chip and pin was introduced to the nation as a safer, faster way to shop on plastic. Over the past eight years, this system has revolutionised our shopping experience, meaning that now fraudsters only need memorise four digits instead of a person’s entire cursive style in order to gain access to the fortunes of others. It has also led to a rise in the number of automated machines, meaning that we no longer have to deal with lowly cashiers and car park attendants. Or so I thought.

Last weekend, an eerie quietness not seen since the Dark Ages fell on the High Kingsdown estate as whispers spread that the card machines in the Co Op convenience store on St Michael’s Hill were broken. Regulars to this shop will be aware of the ongoing drama with payment methods. For those who are less familiar with it, let me take you through the average person’s trip to the Kingsdown Co Op. It starts with a hunger pang. The kind of hunger pang so painful, you know you won’t be able to make it to Sainsbury’s before you’ve started gnawing on furniture. All you need  is a little bit of bacon or some milk to make porridge. ‘No problem’, you think, ‘I’ll just pop to the Co Op’ which is all very well and good until you realise that your rumbling stomach has not synchronised calendars with Co Op’s opening hours. Long-term residents in these parts know that if you haven’t got milk in the fridge on Saturday night, there will be a long wait until the Co Op’s automatic doors finally open at noon the next day, only for you to find that they haven’t yet had their milk delivery. After realising that an overpriced pint of skimmed milk is better than nothing, you traipse around the store, picking up whatever bizarre items happen to be reduced that day (ice cream syrup, anyone?) You are then faced with a dilemma: do you march straight up to the beaming cashier, or avoid their glazed expressions and questionable social skills and wait half your life to use what they have the temerity to call ‘The Fast Lanes’ (also known as self-service machines to the uninitiated). The queue for these machines is often 20-deep, usually due to the fact that one of the terminals has become overwhelmed, trying to add up how much you’ve spent so far, whilst screaming at you that your newspaper costs TWO POUNDS (pause for dramatic effect) TEN PENCE. Once you finally make it to a working terminal, your eyes fall on a hastily printed sheet of A4 declaring that payment is either cash or card only. Needless to say, you won’t have the payment method du jour in your pocket. This involves an embarrassing abandonment of your transaction, casting those in the queue behind you into a confused rage, as you lope off to the cashier you had originally tried to avoid, just so you can pay. As you wait your turn behind a man holding a tube of toothpaste and some bleach, you eye up the potential till talent. Cashier number one is a lady who is far too old to be wearing the neon butterfly clips she proudly displays in her cropped brown hair. Last time you were here, she scolded you for removing your card too quickly from the chip and pin machine, which, as always, was running at a snail’s pace, and you had to repeat the whole sorry affair. Cashier number two shows more promise, until he is called away to deal with the Fast Lane drama you left behind. As you’re busy craning your neck to see how he’s getting on, another machine directs you to cashier number three. From behind his oval spectacles, he beams at you, greeting you with a friendly ‘hello dear! How are you? Would you like a bag?’ He continues grinning as he packs away your Tic Tacs, tomatoes and tampons without battering an eyelid and you hurriedly hand over the cash and run home to satisfy your nutritional needs.

It’s hard to convey just what an odd mix of people the staff in this particular branch are. A budding playwright would do well to take a trip there and observe them in their natural habitat. If Hotel California ran a chain of convenience stores, this would be it. Some of the staff, like cashier number three, never seem to leave. You go in on your way to uni and there he is, smiling over your Danish pastry. He is there again in the evening, when you dash in minutes before closing, standing upright, eyes open, but clearly asleep.

And yet despite the crazy cashiers, the bipolar payment systems and the massive queues, we still go back. Just because it’s… well, convenient.

-from Issue 246 of Epigram.

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My bedroom, the microclimate

Tonight in my boudoir, I am dressed in a long pair of socks, a pair of bedsocks, pyjama bottoms, a Britney Spears tshirt from her 2000 Oops! I Did It Again tour, and my old P.E. jumper, whilst nestled under my 13.5 tog double duvet and my woollen camp blanket. Welcome to the life of a student living in a draughty Victorian terraced house in the most expensive neighbourhood in Bristol (albeit on the periphery). Tomorrow, my rotten sash windows are being replaced. Never has double-glazing been so hotly anticipated. The idea of having an entire wind, rain and autumn leaf-tight bay window fills me with so much joy, it almost warms my icy bed. But not quite, as I am distracted by the sound of raindrops coming down the fireplace I cannot use.

I previously contemplated investing in a hot water bottle, but by the time I summon the energy to leave the house (shivering is exhausting), I forget how cold it is, scoff at the idea of spending £12 on a rubber bottle covered in some furry material and get distracted by biscuits or something equally hopeless. I have, however, been eyeing-up a very fetching bed cap (in the style of Ebenezer Scrooge) that was featured in one of those catalogues that come with the Sunday papers, aimed at pensioners, but maybe I’ll just wait and see how the windows turn out…

Our neighbours appear to have embraced their draughty windows

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When William Brown met George Orwell

I was heavily influenced by Orwell and Just William when I was 14, according to a speech I wrote for a Year 9 English assignment that I recently discovered. Since he first came to the world’s attention in 1922, William Brown has taught us to always question authority, avoid school and spend our pocket money on cream buns. In fact, I hold Richmal Crompton’s creation (almost) entirely responsible for the fact my results on the Political Compass at times veer towards Leftist Anarchism (thankfully, I’ve read some books since Just William to balance me out a bit). This upbringing, along with the brief to write a speech to our classmates based on Orwell’s character Napoleon from Animal Farm, led me to implore my ‘comrades’ to eradicate the evil of homework from our lives. It seems like a waste to keep this shut in a folder somewhere, so here it is.

“Intellectuals of England, I have called you today to this meeting to inform and awaken you to the injustice of this land!

In our lives, supposedly of democracy and liberty, we only get four years of freedom. These four years are the first of our lives, and probably the best. The fifth September of our lives, we are carted off to school, where we shall spend the next 14 years in misery. Of course, I am not against schooling, this is necessary to expand our brains, and is often worthwhile. However, I do not agree with the malicious practice that is homework.

Do you enjoy homework? Of course not! Do teachers enjoy marking homework? No they do not! Do parents enjoy nagging their children about homework? No, they have many more pressing matters to nag their children about! I see homework as what it truly is, a generation of evil. Nobody likes it, nobody sees any point in it. Everybody knows this; the pupils, the teachers, the parents. So why are we forced to learn exactly how long a day is on Pluto, or what happens to x when you times it by pi and then divide by y and add twelve (ANSWER: your calculator/brain turns to mush)? The answer, comrades, is revenge! Homework was inflicted on our parents and teachers, and their parents and teachers before them. They had to suffer therefore they must make us suffer too! I say nay! We must put a stop to this vicious conflict. Burn the homework diaries I say! Throw away the tally of late homeworks piled up next to Philippa’s name in the mark books!

Hands up those of you who would rather spend their evenings out having fun, staying in watching TV or just having an early night? Exactly. I have a vision, a vision of how things could be in a land free of homework, extra revision and rid of projects! Long summer evenings spent day dreaming in tall grass, cold winter nights spent snuggled up, staring into the flames of a wood fire. I see Easter holidays brimming with treasure hunts, horse rides and picnics. I see Autumn holidays spent collecting conkers, picking mushrooms, building bonfires. I dream of Saturdays, long, sunny Saturdays spent leisurely in whichever way we choose. I dream of Sundays devoted to beauty whether that beauty be the love of God, good food, the company of family and friends, nature, poetry or paintings. I pine for school nights overflowing with happiness, tranquillity and family harmony instead of the oppressive mood amongst family members, the bursts of hatred escaping from mother and daughter’s mouths.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic to be able to spend our Sunday evenings watching Antiques Roadshow, Time Team or Songs of Praise -all of which are educational – instead of rushing Geography homework, our English presentation, our History project? Would your life not feel more satisfied sprawled out under a tree or playing netball in break times rather than doing that emergency French revision for that exam you forgot about?

I know you all agree with me, comrades, I have told you what I wish to happen, what I know could happen. I am now going to tell you how we are to accomplish this happiness. First and foremost, you must be prepared to suffer your cause. Pay no heed to their protests. Rebel! Fight for freedom, for liberty! We must never slack, we must never wilt, we shall never surrender. After school work is the poison, those who administer it are the enemy. Lay down your principals [sic]! No you will not work academically after the school bell rings! No you will not finish off that piece of work tonight even if it will only take a minute! And you shall never, ever catch up with work at home! As I said previously, homework diaries are to be destroyed, orders are to be disobeyed, homework boycoted, revision at home or in breaks abandoned.

Perceiver, comrades! If you lost all faith in work and education, the end will be long yet if you fight for your liberty, for your life, your life and your offspring will live and prosper in happiness. Children of the land, comrades! The whole world is our playground! Let us go! Let us strive! Let us play!”

I got 9.5 out of 10, but that wasn’t the point, really, was it?

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Sunny sunny Bristol


Blue skies make my awful photography look vaguely passable.

I think I’ve spent more time in bars and pubs this weekend than I have for the past term combined. I am, however, now coming out in a heat rash, and am facing the prospect of having to wear shorts tomorrow, as digging in trousers may cause me to keel over. Thirsty just thinking about it. According to BBC Weather, rain returns on Thursday, just in time for the bank holiday. The world will make sense again!

I thoroughly recommend listening to the Swell Season in this weather (The Swell Season – Strict Joy for those with Spotify).

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Albinism

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by Victorian albinos. I’m not sure why, perhaps it’s because of the combined rarity of albinos and old photos. I’ve just stumbled across a goldmine for such photos, meaning that I no longer have to type ‘Victorian albinos’ into Google. Huzzah!

A selection from http://members.optusnet.com.au/~msafier/albinism/c19albinos.html

And yes, I am odd.

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