Friday, October 21, 2011

The forbidden fruit

Okay, so it's been waaaay too long. I've neglected my poor blog once again, however this time it was in the name of dissertation writing, which is now done and dusted. After five months I'm finally inspired to write once again. It's not because I'm moving to another country (different city, yes. Country, no), it's not because I'm running another marathon (thanks to injuring myself doing the last three), it's not because I'm obsessing about cheesy chips (trying to kick that habit...nothing to carb up for really) and it's not because of the recent (and fairly frequent) radio play of another Sleepy Panda Club track. Heck, it's not even about the other amazing developments in my completing my MA dissertation about Illegitimacy in Eighteenth Century Wales, or partnering up someone who I can actually say supports, respects and challenges me and has similar values, interests and ambitions...for once in my life (look mom, miracles do happen). This blog is not because of any of that.

This post is dedicated to something that seems so mundane, so simple, so...boring. But for me, represents several years of frustrated denial, inconvenience and overall unfortunate-but-necessary ridiculousness. Today I apple.

I repeat. Today I ate an apple.

I'm sure lots of people ate apples today, but this was the first one I've eaten in over two years thanks to a sudden and extreme case of oral allergy syndrome that set in several years ago. The last apple was a test to see if I had gotten over it. It didn't end well.

For anyone whose been in my presence over the last few years while I've attempt to consume a meal not prepared by myself or by my mother you know what a pain I can be. For over three years the list of things I can eat is shorter than the list of things I can't. To make matters worse, I'm allergic to the things that most allergy suffers use as replacements...such as rice, and worst of all corn. However slowly but surely I'm claiming those back one by one. I still have to avoid a few foods, but today is a massive landmark. I ate an apple. A juicy, crisp, delicious Pink Lady apple. And nothing adverse happened.

Unlike Eve my temptation to eat an apple came from the BBC and not a devil dressed up as a snake. Unable to sleep one night I decided to watch a documentary about apples in Britain. As I drifted off the delectable juiciness was etched into my subconscious and I awoke with a fierce craving for the delectable tree fruit.

I was told my allergies to certain foods might subside after a few years of strict avoidance, but I didn't think it would happen this quickly. Since I spend far too much time thinking about this and obviously need a proper hobby, I've come to the conclusion that it is a direct result of three things.

1. Living in a different environment, thereby reducing my exposure to the pollens in western Canada that my allergies are linked to
2. Careful avoidance of certain foods which has allowed my body to get over its fussiness
3. And perhaps most importantly, excessive consumption of substances containing a trace amount of the allergen...what I react to in fruits is mostly removed during cooking or processing...such as the cider making process. 

This past year in Wales has apparently done me a world of good in more ways than I had anticipated.

Thank you cider. Thank you.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Radio Ga Ga

Okay, so I've posted virtually nothing in the past few months...funny how a writing-intensive MA and an insane schedule will do that. Granted, doing my MA in history in the UK was always in my life's to do list, but as most people who know me right now will attest I have a greater love in my life...Panda.

Its amazing how one move begets another. Who knew that a work trip to Wales would result in a song I co-wrote being played on BBC Wales? I went to Carmarthen in 2009 with a group of amazing students and faculty on a trip that made me wonder how on earth I landed such a lush job. On that trip I met my now BFF Gruff, who works in the international office of the college we took our students to. We instantly hit it off talking about music and kept in touch after I returned return home is another story altogether best told in person over a bottle of wine.

Up until this point I had done loads of music, but always playing other people's music. I'd write but keep it to myself because I didn't want to share it with the world. Gruff, on the other hand is so prolific and active in music that he writes and shares everything. He encouraged me to share my music with him. We started swapping lyrics, melodies and chord progressions over our trans-Atlantic conversations. We visited eachother a few times and wrote several songs together and tucked them away for safe keeping. Meanwhile, Gruff had ideas of starting a new project called Sleepy Panda Club...which is a story for another post.

My trip to Wales also inspired me to take the big step of applying for grad school, which I did and was accepted to Swansea University. That gave us the idea to work on Panda together. When I returned to Wales again for work we started laying the foundation. We found our drummer Steffan who has quickly become a core member. The three of us have toiled for 10 months through different members, 60 different songs, random rehearsal spaces including an abandoned church on the grounds of an old mental hospital...the end result is where we are at this very moment.

As I write this I've just hear one of our songs on BBC Radio of the songs Gruff and I wrote in Vancouver and tucked away for safe keeping. Next week we play Clwb Ifor Bach, where we usually go to see the bands we love play. We're also playing London in about a month.

In addition to these small victories I'm lucky enough to be in a band with some of the nicest, funniest and most supportive people I know. I rarely laugh more than I do when I'm with the boys and girls that are Panda.

This is really only the beginning, but it's turning out to be one hell of a fun ride!

You can find Sleepy Panda Club on Facebook, Myspace ( and Sound Cloud