Safety Nets

September 10, 2009

Paris,travel,Eiffel Tower

We spend a large portion of our lives creating and maintaining safety nets for ourselves. These usually take the form of family, or a network of close friends. Having a job makes us feel secure, as does the mortgage which allows us to live in the house that protects us from the elements. Many people put effort into cultivating as many of these safety nets as possible, so if something goes wrong in one area of our life, we know we still have our brother to rely on, or those savings tucked away to cover the rent. If we let go (or are let go), then poof! We know there’s a fairly soft landing for us. It’ll be hard to climb back up the ladder and get on the trapeze again, but at least we didn’t go splat.

A couple of my friends recently moved to France. One has to complete four months at a French University for her Degree, and the other went for the adventure of living in a foreign country, trying to get a job in a place where he doesn’t speak the language so well, and generally seeing what he could achieve.
Both of them have the usual safety nets back here – family homes to go to, friends who miss them, and the Uni goer has a boyfriend to come back to. If it all goes wrong out there, they know they can come back to the UK to open arms and a place to stay. They won’t go splat.

But, how does this affect their feelings about the change?

All the Uni goer’s safety nets are here in England, at the moment. If she doesn’t make friends quickly, has trouble with a Professor or even just gets lost in the new town, her first thoughts will be about missing home, missing the comfort of her boyfriend and the ability to call us up at any time to hang out. For the adventurer, he has no specific reason to stay in France, other than his desire. If he doesn’t find a job fast enough then his option a) is to come right on home and start again.

We cultivate safety nets to catch us when we fall, but isn’t there more pressure to hang on when all that’s between you and that faraway sawdust strewn floor is the air?

I’m not suggesting a quick family-cide before setting off for a new country, or disposing of all your savings before setting up a new business venture (because you’ll need those…).

I am suggesting that before heading into unknown territories, we release ourselves from this safety net thinking. Don’t think about fallback option a) or fallback option b). There is no fallback. Tell your family not to get in touch. Lose your Savings Account number. Don’t look down. Focus completely on what you want or have to do. Then do it.

Because the only other option is: SPLAT.


How to: Make Sock Poi

July 14, 2009


Having finally emerged from Lounge on the Farm, pulling straw from my hair and ears still ringing, I have decided to further inform you all of how to have a really, really good festival experience. Naturally, my first thought on this subject concerned poi.

Poi is the art of swinging balls on string around your body, without smacking yourself in the face, stomach, arse or crotch. It all began with the Maori women, for whom poi was used in traditional dance. Now it’s more of a hippy travelling game, and you can’t move at any self-respecting festival for fear of walking into someone’s flying sock.

I made a pair recently, having left my old ones (now a little too short) in Bristol. The perfect opportunity to feverishly document my handiwork. And so:

how to,poi

You will need:

– A pair of long socks (readily available from any market stall or teen goth)
– A pair of scissors
– needle and thread
– rice


Take the scissors in one hand, and a sock in the other. Cut the foot of the sock from the leg. As so-



Actually, the next couple of steps are interchangable. I leave that up to you…

Turn the legs of the socks inside out and sew across the foot end. A running stitch is fine.

how to,poi

Turn the socks the right way again.


Take the foot part of the sock and add rice. I usually fill each with about 4oz(100g) though I like my poi heavy. Don’t worry too much about the weight, but do make sure they’re fairy equally weighted.

poi,how to

Twist the top of the foot part and fold it back over the rice-filled part, so it resembles a little ball. You can also use hair elastics to tie off the top.

Fourthly, and finally

Put the balls of rice into the leg part of the sock. If they fall straight out of the bottom, return to step two.

poi,how to

The Finished Product


poi,how to

On the left, you can see what it looks like if you forget to turn the sock the right way after turning it inside out. A bit silly.

Now you’ve filled your socks with rice, you can celebrate by making strange arm movements like this!

Lia swings the blues…poi

Further instruction in the mastery of Poi
How to make FIRE poi Oh yes.
How to make and play with poi. Very enthusiastic poi enthusiast!
The Three beat weave One of the first and easiest poi tricks, as well as the The butterfly.

Or if you just want the professionals to show you how it’s done: Fire shows and/or Circus Workshops

The best way to learn poi though, in my experience, is meet up with like minded fellows and hang out in parks and at festivals swapping tips and tricks. I learned in various parks in Berlin after meeting up with Ed, who’s been spinning poi for three years now and knows a thing or two, as well as having infinite patience! It does take a while to get the hang of, you’re swinging rice around your head in socks for Gods sake, it’s not normal!, but it’s well worth it when you start thinking…If I put one hand here, and spin it there, and do a little turn and Guys! guys! How did that look!? Also, spinning with fire is amazing.


Go forth! And spin!

Moving House

July 2, 2009

There’s always more stuff.
Top two: My old flat
Bottom three: Cheeky sub-let room.

Moving House

It’s shit.

If I never again had to deal with stuffing my last two plates in a carrier bag and opening my wardrobe to find a pile of unpacked pants…I’ll probably be moving house again net year, bringing my grand total of moves up to sixteen. In the past month I’ve packed up and cleaned down two houses. It is not fun. The next time I call my Mum I’m going to have to ask her how she managed it with two toddlers running around, as well as making sure nothing gets lost or left behind, and restoring the house to perfection. Apparently moving house rates in the top five most stressful life events, and I agree! Like anything though, practice takes perfect, and I’ve had a lot of practice.

I’m not going to give a comprehensive guide on ‘How to move house’, with all the bits like ‘Phone your bill companies’ or ‘Don’t leave anything behind’. But here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up the make the whole ordeal run the slightest bit smoother. Unfortunately lettings agencies are coming up with new ways to be completely ineffectual everyday, so there will never, ever be a smooth house move. Things will get lost, (things will get found!), there is always a stain under the sofa you never moved, and there is always more stuff. Here goes!

-When it comes to packing up and moving on, start at least a couple of days in advance. Box up anything you don’t use everyday. Photoframes, Pikachu figurines, books. Packing always takes longer than you think, because there is always more stuff. Always.

– Don’t buy packing boxes! Go to a local giant supermarket and ask where they put their boxes. You should be allowed to take them.

– Don’t overfill boxes. Remember you have to carry them, even if it is only to the van. Check the bottoms aren’t going to fall out either. Packing tape is a good buy. (Especially if you move a lot.)

– Have a plan. Start packing in advance and leave plenty of time to clean/take the rubbish to the tip/bleach the suspicious stains on the carpet. Checking behind the sofa in the last ten minutes ‘just in case’ and finding out where Hammy finally rested…not fun.

– Find out if there’s anywhere you can store your stuff so the house is empty when you clean it. A close friend’s, (for close, read nearby), or the garden – but check the weather! Alternately, hoover a room in the house, then use it for storage.

– Plastic bags are your friend. Black bags and recycle bags are very useful. Not only do they store rubbish, they’re also good for stuffing duvets and coats into. Carrier bags are good for the last few items hanging around (there is always more stuff) like those spare tins in the cupboard, or that screwdriver you weren’t sure was yours…

– Buy in cloths and sponges in advance. There will be wiping.

– Make a cleaning playlist. Whatever gets you moving. We shook our asses Groove Armada style and I scrubbed the kitchen to Shpongle. Dancing aids productivity. Fact.

– Did I mention there’s always more stuff? Don’t forget to check wardrobes, cupboards and drawers. I left my favourite jacket ever behind in my last but two house and forever regret not sliding back that wardrobe door. Tear.

– Make a box or bag of immediate needs for the new place. Kettle. Tea bags. Loo roll. Fluffy slippers. Your SATC poster. Whatever will make you feel most at home as soon as you arrive.

– Don’t get stressed! Break everything down into manageable actions. Pack clothes. Check. Wash up. Check. Load stuff into van. Check. (If only…)

– If you are in the enviable position of not having to cart your life across country, the help your friends who do have to! They will love you all the more, and you may even pick up a few bargains. I’ve picked up a good set of speakers, a green guitar, shelf full of beans…all this and more, for wiping down a few surfaces.

At the other end…

Moving into house isn’t quite as stressful as moving out. I find it fun to descend upon a blank canvas. I’ve been in my new house a whole day now, and my clothes are still in their bags, yet my desk is set up, and I’m testing some stencils on the wall…Others might have different priorities. I suggest:

– Unpacking your stuff as soon as possible. You’ll feel more at home with your own belongings around you.
– Or making a fort out of the boxes and refusing to come out unless there are fairy cakes involved. And tea. (I fully intended to do this, but the urge to decorate came over me.)

Who cares about clothes?
All three: My new room. Fairytale door hanging.