In accordance with the repeating Questions meme ingi has asked me five questions, which I will answer below. If you would like me to ask you five questions in turn please ask in the comments and I will do my best.
- Oxford v Cambridge things are a bit crap but, you know both really well and wondered if you are more at home in one place or the other?
- I come from a long line of Yorkshire women, missing the pragmatic humour, do you hide it or use it to your advantage in Cambridge?
- I notice on your profile we share an interest in trees. Tell me more?
- How do you do the pink in your hair? Is it difficult?
- Roast beef - what's the best way to make it happen?
Oxford v Cambridge: not only have I lived in both cities I've been a member of both universities, but of course it's rather different studying in a college and working in a department, so I don't think I can compare the universities directly. I was unhappy in a lot of ways at Oxford, and academically very much not a success, but I still found a lot to love about the place. I think having lived there only 4 years and only half-time at that, compared to nearly 9 years full-time in Cambridge it's not entirely surprising that I'm more at home here in the end. Things I miss, or that Oxford does better:
- I miss walking home at 4am and the golden light of the sunrise on the honey coloured dreaming spires
- I miss the Harcourt Arms and the goth crowd that used to hang out there, on the same night as the morris men
- I miss the twisty-turny-ness of the river, and the pride in punting from what's not actually the wrong end at all, just a *different* end
- I miss pastrami and houmous on olive ciabatta with salad, black pepper and lemon juice from Heroes
- And ham and cream cheese on a sesame bagel, toasted with salad and mayo from G&Ds followed by a choc fudge brownie sundae
- I really miss their Kenya AA coffee/dime bar crunch icecream, even if they only make that combination some of the time.
- I miss being a student, and not having to go into work and do the same thing every night
- I miss there being an ice rink
- And Oxford definitely has a much better shade of blue
I love being here though. I've lots of friends, though I see them less often than I did, being more of a hermit these days. Partly because Mike gets rather overwhelmed at being so outnumbered, since he's a relative newcomer and didn't really know anyone in Cambridge before he came. I love the way the river sneaks through town with a thoroughfare for bikes and walkers along the banks, I love the big open space of Midsummer Common and Jesus Green which feel more openly welcoming than Christ Church Meadows, or South Park. I love living almost right in town again, the way I did as a student, that's definitely a plus of the new place with Mike. And I like getting out of it all on the bike: I think Oxford might win there a little - the East Anglian countryside is a bit flat and boring in places, even if that does make the riding easier. One thing they both lack is the sea, but I'll live.
Yorkshireness: I've always been proud of being from Yorkshire, and it's part of who I am and always will be, even if my accent has faded a lot from hanging out with all these speakers of RP. I don't know if I even have the sense of humour you mean though, perhaps to some extent. It helps when I'm depressed. I'd never dream of trying to hide the fact I was a northerner, but I can't really see that I've tried to turn it to my advantage either. It's just who I am.
Trees: Trees are just lovely. To sit under in the shade, to walk beneath, to climb. I feel bad for having cut down the ash tree in the front garden, even though it's obviously just *far* too small for such a big tree. The smell of pine woods and picking up pine cones. The dark with no undergrowth of a beech wood. The beauty of young silver birches. They're just nice. I don't go out of my way to learn lots more about them, or to seek them out and spend time with them, so perhaps they're not an interest in the same way as say cycling (to pick an obvious one) but yeah, trees are good.
Pink hair: Ah, there lies the rub. With hair as dark as mine is naturally (grey hairs notwithstanding) the only way to get really bright colours into my hair is to bleach it. I usually use Jerome Russell B Blonde bleach for dark hair to get to a rather brash blonde colour, and then colours from the La Riche Directions range for the colour (lately either plum or rose red, which come out bright purple and magenta on me). Those at least are really easy to use: just massage in like conditioner, leave for 20 mins and wash out again - but make sure you wear gloves and don't get them on your floor or walls or light coloured clothes. They're semi permanent so wash out of towels fairly quickly, though I try to use an old one.
The bleach is another story though. You have to mix it up from a powder and a gooey liquid, then you have to carefully apply it to all of your hair, trying to get it right to the roots without getting too much on your scalp, and not getting it on your skin and clothes (I have some very sad pale blobs on my otherwise lovely bedcovers from trying to do it sitting on a towel in the bedroom. Then you have to leave it on for somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes or so, perhaps as much as an hour, which is not pleasant at all. It heats up and your scalp begins to tingle and perhaps even sting. And then you rinse it out and find you missed a bit round the back (definitely get someone to help), and it's a horrid yellow colour even so. Once it's done you can apply the colour pretty much as soon as you've rinsed all the bleach out, but it does leave your hair in need of a lot of conditioning. And then of course your roots grow out and you have to try and bleach just the regrowth, and even with someone to help it's more or less impossible to get the bleach only on the roots and not the rest, and to leave it on for exactly the same length of time, so you end up with uneven levels of blonde and the bits that have got bleached twice get even more damaged, and eventually you end up with the ends being like straw.
This is why my hair has stayed brown since my sister's wedding. As much as I love it pink or purple I don't miss the hassle and I don't miss the mess it looks as it grows out. I've vaguely considered getting it done professionally instead, but it's rather expensive and they don't tend to offer such fun colours. *sigh*. So yeah, the bleach from the chemist, the dye from online, lots of hard work and it's more or less worth it. I've still got part of a tub of plum I think, might see what colour it comes out on my natural hair, and if the grey ones make nice highlights. At least it's nicely conditioning on its own.
Roast beef: The best way to make this happen in my house is to suggest it to Mike. Not only does he pick out a decent (large) joint but he seasons it beautifully, cooks it to perfection whether we're going for quick and rare or slow and tender, and also makes really good roast potatoes and excellent gravy. And there's leftovers for sandwiches. Steak however I don't make a bad job of myself. Alternatively we could go out, in which case steak would win over ordinary roast beef every time and would probably come from La Galleria or from Varsity. Sadly the Venue is no more, since theirs were excellent too.
Phew, that got a bit long!