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When I was but a little tiny girl...

A Happy Valentine's Day to all my readers, single or paired. I love you all, in a big squishy, but not creepy way. You keep me writing.

No mocking Valentine's Day post this year - it sort of slipped by me, and I failed to plan. If you want to read some writings from years past, go here and here.

Instead, I'm going to answer elizabethnmafia 's request to hear more about my childhood. With pictures. 

This is me, summer 1976 (six years old):

You can tell it's summer, because I'm only wearing a light jumper. These pictures were taken by my father. We used to spend at least part of every summer holiday up in Bamburgh, where my father owns a house. One of our regular day excursions was to the Cheviot Hills (God, I live Wikipedia; all sorts of random stuff shows up), just over the border into Scotland. The Cheviots are the remnants of an ancient volcanic range.

The Cheviots are a national park, but the farmers that live around there graze their sheep all over the hills; it's a rather good spot for finding sheep skulls (my fascination with skulls is very old). It also is a good place to find adders , moles, fish, and the European cousin of the blueberry, bilberries.

The Cheviot hills are very beautiful, if you like bracken-covered hillsides with no trees, and a two-hour climb, which I do. I was seven the first time I climbed the second-highest hill, Hedgehope (pronounced "hehj-up") unaided (i.e., not carried or holding on to anyone else), and it was our standard hill to climb (the highest hill, Cheviot, is very marshy at the top, since the caldera is entirely filled with peat, which holds the moisture like nothing else) and once we reached the top, we'd have a picnic lunch and put a stone on the cairn.

The Cheviots are a treasure trove of hidden beauties; white heather (a genetic albino mutation of the standard purple kind, and considered very lucky) could turn up anywhere, the large stream (the Harthope) that ran down the center of the hills held gorgeous wildflowers, and wild dog roses grew in the sheltered areas between the peaks. We climbed Hedgehope at least once a year, and I still regret the year I mutinied and refused to climb to the top because I was tired (I was 17, and an extremely difficult teenager. I was also wearing completely impractical dress flats). Even in the summer, it could be quite cold (hence the cardigan in the second picture), but we often swam in either the Harthope, or one of the many smaller streams that connected with it.

I still love the Cheviots; the last time my father and I were there (and Bob was with us), we didn't climb the hills, but walked along the Harthope and had a rather fun time catching moles. We happened to see one above ground (unusual in the daytime, but not unheard-of), and then another. I caught the second one and handed it to my father. They're very soft, and very tiny; not much bigger than a large mouse, and velvety black.

Back in Bamburgh, when the weather was nice, we would swim in the North Sea - a sea that is so cold, if you fall in, you need to be rescued within an hour, or hypothermia sets in, even in the summer. But we swam and paddled, and posed for photographs:

Even back then, I was making faces at the camera (I thought I was very fat); I'm nine or ten in this picture.

The beach at Bamburgh is a delightful combination of smooth black igneous rock (that whole part of north-east Britain was once volcanic) and white sand beach.   It is excellent for beach-combing - especially in the winter, when swimming is out of the question. Aside from the usual shells and interesting tidal-pool life (such as the squishy little sea anemones that liked to grab our toes), the winter Nor'easters used to bring us all the flotsam and jetsam from the shipping lanes. We got all sorts of odd things, but I think the oddest was probably the year we got thousands upon thousands of pink tampon applicators - the beach was very festive in an environmentally-damaging way.

I love Bamburgh; I want to go back there next time I'm in England - while the night life is limited to the local pub, the ever-changing beach and the beauty of the area (it's also very castle-intensive, including Dunstanburgh, Warkworth Castle, and Lindisfarne) feed my soul and bring me peace.

Completely random extra - I found a picture of me all done up to go clubbing. I thought you all would be amused (consider it my Valentine's Day gift to you):

My hair is no longer cut quite like that, but otherwise, this is often what I look like. I totally dig those boots.


( 16 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Feb. 14th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)
The Cheviots sound absolutly beautiful and your pictures are adorable.

Those boots are awesome. Where did you get them?
Feb. 14th, 2008 02:52 pm (UTC)
Thrift Store. Unfortunately for everyone else, my best finds seem to come from there. The coat came from England, and the corset is one I made from a thrift store prom dress.

The fabulous necklace Bob got for me - they sell ones kind of like it now, but cheaper, and not as nicely made. My favourite thing though, is the hair - it was an absolute pain (kept tangling), but it looked great. :)
Feb. 14th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
Aren't thift shops great for prom dresses?? People bomb on old brides maid dresses and the like but they are faboo for scavenging otherwise very expensive fabric and premaid laces, trim, ruffles, netting, ribbing, hoops etc :)
Feb. 14th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
They are. Usually, it's bad polyester dreck, but every now and then something really good shows up.
Feb. 14th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
Dude, I need to go shopping with you. You always find the most awesome things in thrift stores. :)

The necklace is gorgeous. Bob does great work.

Your hair really does look fabulous. I wish I could get mine to mind that well. I would totally brave the tangles. :)
Feb. 14th, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)
You picked up that the falls are fake, right? :) I wrap my hair in buns at the base. The stuff is meant for braiding, so it's very silky, and is entirely synthetic, so it tangles easily.

My hair isn't nearly long enough to pullthat off, and the falls don't match, so I don't try to blend them. I really hate the current starlet trend of extensions - even when they look real, they look ratty, since their real hair is so much shorter.
Feb. 14th, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
Hehe. Oops. For some reason I was thinking that you had worked the faux hair in with your own before you started styling. I don't know why I was thinking that though now that I look back at the picture. :) Thanks for the info.

Feb. 14th, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for sharing!!!

What an enchanting place to spend holidays :)

Also, fabulous pictures.

The last one, are you wearing pony falls?
Feb. 14th, 2008 02:57 pm (UTC)
Yup, I have bunches of false hair - I get it from my local beauty supply store (so much cheaper than buying it at the mall!).

Bamburgh really is enchanting - it's determined to keep its status as one of the prettiest villages in Northumberland, and rejects modernization fiercely. The small modern supermarket in the high street is shunned by some of the locals = even fifteen years after the grocer's closed (there is a butcher and a greengrocer still).

My father's house is *right* under the castle, and looks out on the village green - at twilight in the summer (which is about 10:30pm!), all the rabbits come out and nibble. There are at least a hundred every night, and they're quite fearless. We used to stalk them, seeing how close we could get. My husband is a master at this, and managed to almost touch one.
Feb. 14th, 2008 04:30 pm (UTC)
Well, now I know where I need to go next time I'm in Scotland (I've only really seen the middle of Scotland Mull-Fife)

For you: a sheep skull on Skye)
Feb. 14th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
Hah, fabulous! We used to find whole skulls a couple of times a year - I brought one back for my H.S. art teacher one year (I have no idea how I managed to get it through customs). *whistles innocently*
Feb. 14th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
I love the 2003 entry so much I linked to it (with attribution, of course) in my entry today. I just realized I should have asked your permission first. Is it okay? I'm sorry! Will remove if not.
Feb. 14th, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
It's just fine. :) Thank you!

The only thing I don't like is when people don't credit me, or print out my work and use it as their own. As long as my name is somewhere on it, I'm cool, since I am an attention whore. 8)
Feb. 14th, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
...uh, and if they use my journal entries to try and start trouble. I'm not down with that. >:|
Feb. 14th, 2008 09:26 pm (UTC)
I loves the Bamburgh ... the whole area in general is great for holidays :) And crab :)yum...
Feb. 15th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
*pout* Now you've made me miss Northumbria. I always miss Scotland, even though it was Alnwick where I actually lived. Bambourgh, Lindisfarne, Chillingham... *sigh*
( 16 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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