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Welcome to my blog, which I started way back in December 2002 - long before social media was a thing! With the advent of Facebook, Twitter etc. I don't write that often here now, but you never know when I might feel the urge to do so.

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Life is better (when) upside down (again)

Sunday, June 21, 2020


The COVID-19 lockdown has been hard, and it's meant missing out on lots of things - seeing and hugging friends, eating out and even at one stage simple pleasures like sitting on a park bench and reading a book.

We've all lost different things and tried to cope in our own way, and we've all succeeded or failed to varying degrees, at varying times - and sometimes both with frightening regularity. It's hard, and we still have no certainty about when or how it will all eventually end.

Beth and I locked down a week before the official lockdown in the UK this March, and one of the things I had to give up was going to my yoga studio - a place that has become a bit of a second home for me over the previous 20 months.

When the lockdown started the studio were switched-on enough to immediately move to streaming classes really quickly, which has probably kept them afloat and lots of us sane. However, as the class I did most (aerial yoga) requires specialised equipment it's obviously been off for the duration, and although suitable equipment to use at home (a hammock, together with rigging equipment such as carabiners and daisy chains) is readily available you do need somewhere to hang your hammock.


Unfortunately, we're short of suitable open spaces inside our home and - as Beth wasn't keen on me modifying any of the ceilings (which would basically involve attaching heavy duty fixings to a ceiling beam) that was plainly out. Although there's always the doorway yoga approach, not all doorframes are suitable and it looks like ours aren't.

That left portable rigs and kit like pull-up bar frames - and although I did find a suitable bit of indoor gym kit which I dithered over for a while, in the end I decided against it as it's rather narrow - and although it would fold down for storage, it would have still taken up storage space we don't really have.

That left dedicated portable aerial rigs, which break down to a set of poles and fixings (like a big tent without the canvas) - although "portable" is a bit of a misnomer, as aerial rigs are rather heavy (typically 30kg or so).

I did some research, and managed to narrow it down to:

Of the three the UpliftActive rig was the most expensive, and although their rig looks fabulous, once you add import duty and VAT it priced itself out for me. In the event they stopped shipping to Europe in March, so I couldn't order it anyway.

The Amazon one was the cheapest, but as it has legs which screw together I suspect it's also the least flexible and hardest to put up. I'm glad I didn't order it.

That left the X-Pole A Frame, (which gets great reviews), and after dithering I finally made my choice and hit the "order" button. As X-Pole temporarily stopped shipping orders on 23rd March I knew I'd have to wait a little while before it arrived, so I waited (mostly) patiently.

In the meantime I ordered a hammock, carabiners and daisy chains, along with a pair of slings.

On 12th May X-Pole announced that they were finally able to reopen and start fulfilling back-orders, and my rig finally arrived on Monday. Despite all of my anticipation, my first thought was panic when I saw firsthand how big the box was and felt how heavy it was to lift!

Nevertheless, the following morning I took it outside into the communal garden (which proved not to be as impossible as I had feared, but I'm so glad we have a lift in the building!) and had a go at setting it up.

The rig came with two carry cases. The large one contains the main poles, and the smaller one the corner pieces, fixings etc.

The rig came with two carry cases. The large one contains the main poles, and the smaller one the corner pieces, fixings etc.

The opened carry cases.

The opened carry cases.

The four upright poles and the top bar.

The four upright poles and the top bar.

Uprights at full extension (360cm), minimum configured length (246.5cm) and packed for transport (146cm).

Uprights at full extension (360cm), minimum configured length (246.5cm) and packed for transport (146cm).

It took 45 minutes to get the frame erected for the first time and a bit longer to adjust the hammock to the right height (it later came down and was packed away in just 15 minutes).

My aerial rig after I set up for the first time.

My aerial rig after I set up for the first time.

Things they warn you about when you order an aerial rig:

Things they don't warn you about when you order an aerial rig:

  1. Getting 35kg (over half my bodyweight!) of rig out to the back garden is not a task to be underestimated (but it is part of the workout, I guess...).

  2. Rigging a yoga hammock to the right height is way fiddlier than it looks (just as well I'm patient. Do you get bonus points for doing it with stretchy hammock material...?).

  3. We have a communal garden, and an aerial rig seems to be a small children magnet. I quickly learnt to keep my eyes open and be prepared to shepherd them away for their own safety.

Then I finally got to play. I did an hour's practice - basically a variant of the warm-up sequences we use in our regular classes, plus some old favourites. So there was the usual stuff like Cocoon, Chair, Forward Leaning T, Balancing Stick (I even did ostrich reps!), Warrior 1 etc., followed by Basic Inversion, Flying Pigeon, Shoulderstand, Vampire, Strength Inversion and Bee to name but a handful.

It was obvious that I was rusty and that I've lost a bit of strength during the lockdown. In particular my Shoulderstand was wobbly, and my Strength Inversion quite frankly pants (though I suspect having stretchy hammock material may have contributed to the latter, as that's new to me).

But it was so good to be back flying again!

Shavasana has never felt so good!

Shavasana has never felt so good!

It is now mid June, and although with the UK gradually coming out of lockdown there is a possibility the studio will reopen in the near future, it will almost certainly be with a requirement for social distancing - which I imagine will cut class sizes in half.

So as long as the weather holds (I know that's a big if in the UK) at least I have another way to get my zero-compression inversion fix.

Posted by Anna at 19:33 | Get Link


Work (and lots of yoga) in progress

Wednesday, June 10, 2020


My work in progress yoga feet have literally kept me sane over the past couple of months!

My work in progress yoga feet have literally kept me sane over the past couple of months!

This site is nearly 18 years old now (!!!), and it's long past time the site had another overhaul. The last significant update was in in 2013, so this is a long overdue process.

For the past couple of months I've been working on doing just that, and the good news is that it is finally about done. The new design is responsive, so it should also work on mobile devices.

As well as a new theme, I've also updated much of the content - which has meant reading it all again. Needless to say given how much I've changed since I started this site that has been an interesting (and in some cases quite difficult) experience.

Nevertheless, it was worth it, and I hope that the new version will be a useful addition to the information out there - not least in terms of documenting what transition was like at the beginning of the 21st century.

I still have a great deal to do (not least on this blog, which despite the new theme still needs a major overhaul) so please pull up a chair - or better still get out your mat and practice with me - while I work on getting this finished.

Needless to say if you have any questions just let me know. As time permits I'll be adding new (and not necessarily trans related) content, so watch this space.

Posted by Anna at 07:27 | Get Link


Anna in Wonderland (is a really crap title for a blogpost)

Monday, May 11, 2020


I think I might be shrinking. Send bars and restaurants, plz.

Despite appearances I'm not really on a diet!

Despite appearances I'm not really on a diet!

 

I'm actually not on a diet (though I'm loving chickpea and spinach salads at the moment!) so I suspect that keeping up regular yoga classes despite the lockdown (a huge thanks to Emily, Ishvara and all of the fabby folks at Yoga Lounge Bournemouth!) and getting out of my bread habit have a lot to do with at least the second half of this graph.

The first half has a lot to do with the fact that I finally took my aerial instructor Celina's advice to consider fasting after her evening aerial yoga class and had an "I can do this" moment when the scales showed me the results.

I'm basically where I aim to be now, which is cool - but wherever you are please know that you are awesome...just do your own thing, and don't feel obliged to follow anyone else!

The funny part of all of this is that I try (not always successfully) to shift a little weight at this time every year to give me some headroom for a week's worth of indulgence as a result of the ACCU Spring Conference - which was obviously cancelled this year.

So I'll bank that, and order a pizza or something.

Posted by Anna at 13:45 | Get Link


Get Your Racks Out!!

Friday, April 17, 2020


Network porn for IT professionals

 

Apparently, tech entrepreneur types working from home are sharing photos of their networking rack (and no, that's not a euphemism) on social media.

We're just too agile to have a rack, but for what it's worth we *do* have a networking cabinet in a cupboard.

[If the lockdown continues too much longer I swear tech folks will start posting photos of their mains wiring and UPS hardware. Yes, we really are that bored]

Posted by Anna at 17:46 | Get Link


COVID-19 Lockdown Blues

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


A corner of the roof of our office building. Even though the sea is just over 350m away to the left, sadly it's currently off-limits.

A corner of the roof of our office building. Even though the sea is just over 350m away to the left, sadly it's currently off-limits.

2020 is not turning out to be what we expect as - like much of the world - the UK is locked down right now as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such we have been working from home for the past month and only going out for essentials.

That means no ACCU Conference, no free coffee in the office, no impromptu meetings on the beach or on our astroturfed office roof (yes, it does look like that!), no aerial yoga (cue sad face from Anna) but a whole lot of Zoom, configuring VPNs, being thankful for distributed version control systems, kicking off builds remotely and so on.

As far as Riverblade goes, it's rather fortunate that we have been set up for remote working from the outset, so from one point of view the lockdown hasn't come as a big change - although like everyone else we're really missing friends, family...and just simple experiences like going to a cafe at lunchtime or buying an ice cream at the seafront.

Quite frankly it sucks. But you already know all that - and if it saves lives, it is a tiny price to pay. We can only hope that politicians will take heed of the warnings from scientists, nurses, doctors and people who actually know what they are talking about, and that whatever we each endure proves to be enough to stop this virus in its tracks.

Needless to say our thoughts are with everyone touched by this pandemic - but especially with those who have lost loved ones and with anyone working in health and social care.

Be safe, people.

This post was originally published on my company's blog at https://www.riverblade.co/blog/?archive=2020_04_01_archive.xml#2020041501

Posted by Anna at 17:54 | Get Link


It all seems like a long time ago now.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


The World Parliament from Stockhausen's 'Mittwoch aus Licht'. The mask I wore was much harder to spot.

The World Parliament from Stockhausen's "Mittwoch aus Licht" [photos] The mask I wore was much harder to spot.

It all seems like a long time ago now.

It seems a long time since I realised I had a secret.
It seems a long time since I realised I wore a mask.
It seems a long time since I realised I had a problem.
It seems a long time since I realised I wasn't who the world thought I was.

It seems a long time since I realised I had to do something.

And make no mistake, it was a long time ago.

The first happened maybe 8 years after I was born, looking in a mirror and not liking what I saw. Wishing I'd been born differently, and feeling helpless and afraid.

The second happened when I was a teenager, when I realised that the world definitely wasn't ready for people like me. When I understood that there were people and institutions who would hound and humiliate me if they knew my secret.

So I kept quiet, and wore a mask of "normality". It was never perfect, of course - and the bullies could sense that. Inwardly was a mess, and when I look back I can't help thinking that it's a miracle I made it into adulthood in one piece, let alone as a functioning individual.

And yet function I somehow did, as by the time I reached adulthood the mask was so good that even I couldn't really see inside. Denial is such a powerful thing.

But no mask lasts forever. Eventually the elastic starts to wear out, and the mask slips...showing fleeting glimpses of the person beneath, and leaving them exposed and vulnerable.

For me that all came to a head in 2001 when the world still thought I was straight. I was married, and had two young children...and I honestly had no idea what was coming next.

But come it did. Time has blunted my memory of the sheer terror of it, but I know that I came closer to darkness than I care to think about, and that I only made it through by determination, faith and endurance and with the support of close friends.

But make it through I did, and 16 years on I'm still here.

I'm talking of course about transition. I am a trans woman, but for the first 35 years of my life everyone thought I was male, (relatively) conventional and straight. It turned out that I was none of those things, and now - 16 years later - I have a rather different perspective on who I've always been, and what I missed out on by being brought up wearing a mask which was not of my own choosing.

It's true that nothing can never make up for those missed years and experiences. That's something all trans people have to come to terms with, and I'm certainly no different in that regard.

That however is balanced by what I've learnt and experienced since, as despite the pain of what I lost my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. So many people have stood by me, and it's been a voyage of self discovery which has been at times alternately incredible, funny, maddening, humbling and illuminating. From a standing start where I could all too easily have become completely isolated, my life has been quite literally transformed.

I was through with wearing a mask, so from pretty much the outset I chose to be open about who I am and what I was experiencing. I cried, learned, wrote, met my partner and new friends, joined an inclusive church, started a company, spoke at conferences, went to lots of Pride events and generally got on with life. It's all been pretty amazing, really.

Along the way I've met many awesome trans people and learnt so much that I could probably write a book or two - but if I had to focus on the most important things, I'd say that they are to not be afraid, and to believe in yourself.

Every so often I take a breath to marvel at where I am now. To that 8 year old kid it would all be an unbelievable dream, but for me it's just my life. I'm happy, I'm here and (most importantly for the first two) I'm me.

If someone had told a much younger me that this is who I'd be in 2017, I wouldn't have dared believe them

If someone had told a much younger me that this is who I'd be in 2017, I wouldn't have dared believe them.

If you think you might be trans and are trying to come to terms with it all, please don't be afraid - the tide is turning, and although it isn't easy by any means there are now many more support resources and allies than there used to be.

Most importantly, know that you aren't alone. Good luck!

This post was originally published at https://medium.com/@annajayne/it-all-seems-like-a-long-time-ago-now-d6e57339995e

Posted by Anna at 01:07 | Get Link


No Mandate for May-hem

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


No Mandate for May-hem

"No Mandate for May-hem": our placard for the Unite For Europe march in London on 25th March 2017.

I can't help feeling sad today.

I grew up in a world where Europe was our future, where our horizons were expanding and dictatorships falling to democracy. When the Berlin Wall fell, I rejoiced and wished I was there.

Now, the reverse seems to be the case.

Brexit means that I now live in a country where politics have become even less about consensus (something I never thought possible) and even more about tribalism, point scoring and dogma than ever before.

Lies and backstabbing are back in high fashion (remember the conduct of the Tories during the AV referendum?), and the level of political discourse is mostly quite pathetic.

The referendum campaign last year followed exactly that pattern: outright lies, othering and even overt racism. Anything, in fact, other than being truthful about what the options were, and what each might mean.

The result was a close call comparable to the 1979 Scottish devolution referendum (also 52:48), the result of which the government rejected.

The Tory Government who started all of this were plainly ill prepared for the result, and we've been dealing with the consequences ever since. In the words of (eurosceptic) constitutional lawyer David Allen Green "They do not know what they are doing".

So, after 9 months of bluster, incompetence and finger pointing at "elites" and "experts" we arrive here - for today is the day the Tories throw the economy over the side of a cliff in a big red lying bus.

All for political expediency.

So, reality check time.

All of the talk in the media has been of trade agreements and opportunity. Which is fine, as far as it goes - businesses by their nature look outwards, and seek opportunity wherever they can. My own company is no different in that regard.

BUT....

As ever our politicians seem to have a limited grasp on how businesses actually work (not surprising as most of them have never worked in a real business).

They seem to think it's all about tariffs - but that's only a very small part of the picture.

It's true that just-in-time supply chains (think Nissan) may be badly affected, and I imagine that the port of Dover is at particular risk of gridlock due to the type and volume of traffic it carries and the limited space it has available for greatly expanded customs facilities. Agriculture is also potentially at major risk due to the EU subsidies it will lose and the high tariffs which tend to apply on agricultural products.

But the majority of the UK economy isn't manufacturing, agriculture etc. (and hasn't been for a long time) - it is services. Services cover everything from financial services to call centres and technical and legal services. Some deal exclusively with UK markets, but many are international in nature.

One thing many people may not appreciate is that creative and technical industries such as software development are also services.

That is the industry I can claim to know something about - running a software company since 2004 has taught me a thing or two about selling software products (e-services) worldwide.

For example, it's taught me that while the US, China and India are huge potential markets, the EU is at least as big as any other. The UK market is a minnow by comparison with all of them.

It has also taught me that nations protect their services markets by different means (e.g. India applies a "withholding tax" to foreign owned businesses), and the US has different sales tax rules for each and every state you trade with. The EU is a very easy place to trade by comparison.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that the EU is our largest market. If I had to draw a picture of our typical customer it would be a German engineering company.

As a result Brexit represents an existential threat to us. We already trade with India, China, the USA, Australia etc. - but they can't make up for throwing up barriers between us and the Single Market. Inevitably, our future is at risk.

Note that Trade Agreements such as CETA can't fix any of this, as they tend to only cover goods rather than services.

What makes this even worse is that the UK Government isn't even talking about any of this - they're still obsessing about straight bananas and "Taking Back Control". So forgive me if I mourn rather than celebrate today.

Not only are taking away a core part of my identity, they're going to throw our entire business sector over the cliff as well.

I guess the only consolation is that - in a country where technical and mathematical illiteracy is seen as a source of pride - the worsening skills shortage that "taking back control" implies is likely to raise salaries in the software industry generally.

So I guess ultimately we'll be OK while the country falls apart, the NHS shrivels, the deficit spirals, the and people we care about struggle to cope in a shrinking economy they are priced out of while an unaccountable political elite gloats about how they've "taken back control".

Forgive me if that is scant consolation for all of this.

Posted by Anna at 18:49 | Get Link


Blue Christmas

Friday, December 20, 2013


The altar in our church during a Blue Christmas service

The altar in our church during a Blue Christmas service

Christmas is a such difficult time of the year for so many people. If you are struggling or spending Christmas alone this year, my prayers are with you. Be safe.

Posted by Anna at 18:49 | Get Link


A bit of a new look

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Reigate Hill

Reigate Hill

Well, it seems pigs do indeed fly...after a long period (we're talking years) of dithering about it I've finally got around to re-theming the site. The changes should be pretty straighforward, but if you notice anything weird just drop me a line and let me know.

The blog commenting scripts still need a bit of an overhaul before turning them on, but that aside, the only bits that haven't been re-themed are the old photo galleries. Everything else is new and shiny - courtesy of the good folks at http://www.oswd.org/.

I'll try to sort out the blog scripts next, but the old photo galleries will probably have to wait until I've worked out what to do with them - and how to re-implement them. In the meantime the aim is to look into writing some new (predominantly non-trans related, this time) content.

Posted by Anna at 10:18 | Get Link


Bourne Free 2013

Sunday, July 11, 2013


The second weekend in July every summer is Bourne Free - Bournemouth's Pride Festival, and this year was no exception. As usual there were a crowd of us from MCC Bournemouth in the parade, and at midday on Sunday we took over the main stage in the Triangle for the Bourne Free Pride Worship Service (my favourite bit as I usually get to run the PA and make some noise).

This year's theme was "Bourne Free at the Movies", and our pastor Dwayne had the mad (or inspired?) idea of dressing us all as nuns during the parade and marching to the soundtrack of "Sister Act".

Who says churches have to be stuffy?

Bourne Free 2013

Bourne Free 2013

Posted by Anna at 20:19 | Get Link


London Pride 2013

Saturday, July 1, 2013


Over the past year I've been keeping myself rather busy at work, at home and in my church.

The latter is of course the Metropolitan Community Church of Bournemouth - an inclusive church with a specific ministry to LGBT people. As well as our regular Sunday and services and weekday events, there are various events in the community we get involved in - and one of those is Pride.

This June, the church (and our sister churches MCC North London and MCC South London) met with other Christian denominations to take part in the annual London Pride parade under the auspices of "Christians Together At Pride".

I won't go in too much detail, but suffice it to say that it was quite an experience, and we met some great people both within the parade and along the way. Hopefully the photos linked below (taken from within the parade itself) will speak for themselves.

London Pride 2013

London Pride Free 2013

Posted by Anna at 19:24 | Get Link


Wessex Belle

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Being a software engineer, my work "uniform" is most usually a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt. It's a pretty laid back profession, which suits me fine most of the time.

However I think it is good to have the opportunity to dress up (or "look nice", in the language of times past) occasionally, though. These days such events seem to be uncommon - when we've dined out with friends recently they've always dressed down themselves, so if you go "all out" you invariably end up looking overdressed.

So, back to the jeans, then.

Of course the one place where I never dress up is when I'm volunteering (coal dust, oil and heels really don't mix), so in that environment I'm invariably in overalls and a high visibility jacket (though if I fancy being a bit nattier I suppose I could always don a safety helmet as well...). Hence it goes without saying that the crowd in Swanage haven't seen me "all done up".

Until Friday, that is - when Beth and I took up a invite to dine on one of the Wessex Belle dining trains laid on to thank staff and volunteers for their efforts this year. It was a great evening, and an experience I can highly recommend - a real credit to the railway and all of the volunteers who work behind the scenes to make it happen.

Aside from feeling very pampered the evening also yielded a photo of me I really rather like:

Wessex Belle

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jalapenokitten/6315028864/

Posted by Anna at 09:16 | Get Link


Purbeck Raindrops

Friday, October 28, 2011


A slightly different view of Corfe Castle, taken while out volunteering on the Swanage Railway today:

The view from the cab of D6515 at Corfe Castle station on the Swanage Railway

The view from the cab of D6515 at Corfe Castle station on the Swanage Railway
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jalapenokitten/6294834825.

Technically this shot isn't particularly good (it was taken on a whim with a point and shoot camera, after all), but I think the raindrops make it interesting.

Needless to say, this wasn't taken through my usual windscreen - the shot was taken from the cab of one of the line's heritage diesels, where I was riding as a second to Norden to assist in shunting some wagons.

My ride for the afternoon was 1960 built 1550hp class 33 diesel-electric D6515.<br><a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/jalapenokitten/6294838745/' target='_blank'>https://www.flickr.com/photos/jalapenokitten/6294838745/</a

My ride for the afternoon was 1960 built 1550hp class 33 diesel-electric D6515.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jalapenokitten/6294838745/

Posted by Anna at 21:58 | Get Link


Mixing it all up

Monday, October 3, 2011


One of my friends in the church has sent me this photo of me setting up the mixing desk for the open air church service at this year's Bourne Free Pride Festival back in July:

Me setting up the mixing desk for the open air MCC service at this year's Bourne Free Pride Festival.

Me setting up the mixing desk for the open air church service at this year's Bourne Free Pride Festival.

Looking at a photo like this, it seems amazing that anything works on the day...but regardless of whether it does, Pride Worship is amazing!

Posted by Anna at 10:49 | Get Link


Who is this lady?

Saturday, September 10, 2011


When I started on the process of transition 10 years ago I didn't even dare expect to succeed, much less to be accepted and in any way "successful" (whatever that means).

Thankfully I've been blessed (or lucky if you prefer) in that regard, and all things considered I think I've done OK. Despite what has happened with my birth family, my church, friends (both old and new) are great and I couldn't ask for a better family than Beth's. I'm happy, and (by any definition of the word excepting the purely materialist one) successful. That does me fine.

One bonus I didn't dare expect was that I now don't need to make any effort to be accepted - I just am.

If I needed any proof of that, I've certainly had it in the past year since I started volunteering on the Swanage Railway (a very friendly organisation I can highly recommend if you fancy pitching in). The area I'm based in (Swanage Motive Power Depot) is quite probably the most grimy of the lot, and I'm regularly up to my neck in coal dust, grease and paraffin.

But that doesn't matter to those around me. To those who know my history it's irrelevant, and to those who don't they probably either wouldn't think of it or they wouldn't care anyway. It's not like there aren't any other female loco crews there either - quite the contrary, in fact.

Who is this lady??

James Cummins took this candid photo of me riding on the footplate of 4492 "Dominion of New Zealand".
http://www.flickr.com/photos/24483638@N08/6133173449/

At the steam gala this weekend I was offered the opportunity to ride shotgun on one of the visiting engines (an A4 pacific, no less) and was snapped by a photographer on Flickr. Never mind how much of a mess I think I look, his caption "Who is this lady?" says it all, I think!

It was an fun experience, though as I didn't actually have anything to do on the footplate I was a bit of a tourist on the loco that afternoon.

Who knew that LNER A4 pacifics had leather seats, though?

Corfe Castle, as seen from the footplate of 4492

Corfe Castle, as seen from the footplate of 4492 "Dominion of New Zealand".
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jalapenokitten/6292561821

Posted by Anna at 20:47 | Get Link


Bournemouth Triathlon 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011


The Bournemouth Triathlon has to be one of the most colourful events to happen in the town. From a photographer's perspective it's an opportunity that it's hard to ignore, and this year was no exception!

Bournemouth Triathlon 2011

Bournemouth Triathlon 2011

Posted by Anna at 10:22 | Get Link


Separation and Loss

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I'm in a very disconcerting place this morning. Last night - and purely by accident - I discovered that my mum died at the end of April. Although we were never close (especially since my transition in 2002) that's a hard blow for anyone with a heart.

I really feel for my Dad, but given that they'd both made it abundantly clear since 2002 that they don't want anything to do with me I'm not really sure whether to call him or not.

I'm also deeply saddened that none of my family thought it worthwhile telling me of her passing, and that I found out from an online news site instead.

Damn. Despite all the rebuffs I'd so hoped to be able to be reconciled with them both one day.

Posted by Anna at 09:53 | Get Link


Retreating from the world is harder work than you expect

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Hilfield Friary.

Hilfield Friary

Every organisation needs to take stock and regroup every so often, and believe me churches are no exception. Although I've been a Trustee of MCC Bournemouth for something like a year now, we've not had a chance to do that since I joined the Board.

Until this weekend, that is. On Friday we gathered at the Church to leave for a weekend retreat at Hilfield Friary near Cerne Abbas.

The frozen lake just outside our cottage on Saturday morning.

The frozen lake just outside our cottage on Saturday morning.

Hilfield is a Franciscan Friary, so it emphasises simplicity and being at one with its surroundings. To quote from the Hilfield Project website:

"At Hilfield Friary in Dorset, UK, the brothers of the Society of St Francis have established a project which brings together both a commitment to peace and justice between people and also a care for our natural environment. Rooted in the life and spirituality of St Francis of Assisi we are working to share the Gospel greeting of peace with those whom we meet and to find that harmony between ourselves and the world around us which we believe is God's desire for all. Hilfield is a place where others can come to join us in seeking peace, reconciliation and the integrity of creation."

It most certainly is that. I've not been anywhere so peaceful for quite some time, and it formed a perfect backdrop to our musings and prayers this weekend.

The view from our kitchen window.

The view from our kitchen window.

On the Saturday evening we participated in a very moving night service in the Friary Chapel. Coming from an Evangelical background it was a very different style of service from that I'm used to, but it was absolutely beautiful and so, so tranquil. It's also the first time I've ever tried to sing anything in Latin! *

* Salve Regina, if you're curious

Although we've been referring to it as "a weekend retreat", in practice we only had one evening and a full day as the aim was to be back in time for the 11am service on Sunday morning. As a result, our "weekend" was a very, very busy one, and by Sunday I was thoroughly exhausted.

The good news is that the brainstorming paid off and we now have a very good idea which areas we need to work on and where to take the church next. Well worth the thumping headache and yawning which was the inevitable result of far too little sleep this weekend!

Posted by Anna at 21:35 | Get Link


Self Explanatory

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Self explanatory.

Self explanatory.

Posted by Anna at 12:00 | Get Link


2009: Ups, Downs, Potholes and Fog...

Thursday, December 31, 2009


Clee Hill in Shropshire.

Clee Hill in Shropshire.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/jalapenokitten/albums/72157623092264749

When I took the picture above on Boxing Day (it's taken from the summit of Titterstone Clee in Shropshire, by the way) it occured to me that it rather symbolised the year we've just been through - a a maze of ups, downs, potholes and political fog, mixed in with a smattering of industrial devastation. At least, that's what it's felt like watching the news reports throughout the year. Pretty depressing all round!

From a personal perspective this is also the year when I've finally given up on my birth family. Fortunately, I now have a new family, and one which doesn't have the hang-ups and embitterment my old one seems to dwell in. Oh well - it's their loss really.

Whatever the coming year brings you, I hope it's better than the last.

P.S. I'm conscious that I've not written a thing in this blog for many months. In part that's because I'm a little unsure what to use it for now...the trans stuff is part of my past now, not my present (although it can occasionally raise interesting issues those aren't my real focus anymore). Hence I've taken a sabbatical and concentrated on writing elseware (dev forums, twitter etc.).

I have a mind to retheme and refocus the site, and when I do I may start writing here more regularly again. Who knows?

Posted by Anna at 20:07 | Get Link


Heartwarming Blog Post from a parent

Saturday, April 11, 2009


It is a very unfortunate fact that far too many trans people still have bad experiences with their families when they come out. Faced with that reality it is heartwarming to hear from a parent who has been strong enough to support her daughter through transition:

People just do not understand:

My daughter was born a male, but right from the word go I had a feeling she was in the wrong body and I didnt know enough about transition then to help her. Many years my daughter suffered, feeling she could not talk to people about it. So one day i sat her down, and asked her what we are going to do about it. I tried to get her help, but she was too scared. I was a bit mean to her, because i was fed up with her being upset. I said to her "we will have to do something to help you along". So I tried to get her to a psychiatrist to help her, but she didnt feel she could talk to him.

Many years went past i kept trying for her, and she managed to talk to a trans woman on a chat site. Between the two of us things have changed, but there was so much bias out there it is hard sometimes. People need to realise that it is not a choice for a transsexual to transition (This includes doctors and professionals). They do not live with the person, they do not know the person how can they judge. I know this person and this person is a female, and I want people to realise this.

Unfortunately, the experience of many trans people I know (and as a moderator of a large trans-support group in the UK I know a fair few!) is that the "people who do not understand" are often their own families rather than colleagues, friends and neighbours. Society is changing, and the stigma some parents imagine having a trans child will being is - for the most part - in their own mind rather than a reality. As a result, far too many trans people (including me) are estranged from their parents.

Go in peace this Easter, and do not lose heart.

Posted by Anna at 06:01 | Get Link