Friday, December 29, 2006

Back home

Christmas was, I think, actually perfect. At one point I was reminded of those adverts where the families are always smiling and they're trying to sell you an idyll that could never be real - well we pretty much were the idyll for those few short days. I felt so lucky to be able to go home to a place where arguments and even bad feeling just didn't exist and where the laughter was long and loud, the food was fantastic and the festive season was exactly that.

Anyway, I'm back in Leam now and the port and truffles are just a memory until another year goes by. I've been feeling strangely miserable for the past two days with no real explanation for it - there's been a lot of staring into space and thinking about things, a bit of worrying about money, some feeling down about how I look and quite a lot of underlying stress about everything I have to do when I get back to work. Hopefully tomorrow I can begin to cheer up and be in good spirits for Sunday, although to be fair I intend to get totally hammered on Sunday night so it won't much matter how I feel to start off with! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone and am hopeful that this time I'll finally enjoy myself at a new year party. I intend to watch Grumpy Old New Year tonight though, just in case!

Sunday, December 24, 2006


For many years, we have had a bottle of vintage port in our garage. It started out as just ordinary port that Dad was given by a friend, but having been saved for so long has become vintage due to the passage of time. We've never come across an occasion to open it, and Dad eventually decided that this Christmas would be the time, as there are now four of us who can drink it and it might well have gone manky after being kept in the less than rarified setting of our garage. This morning mum and I got back from church to find the men in the kitchen giggling like girls, drinking port. Simon had only just got up and was having his with his breakfast cereal. Anyway, I was instructed to ignore the niceities of hanging my coat up and to just get hold of a glass as quickly as I could, following which they sat staring at me eagerly while I took my first sip.

And believe me, it was GOOD. Very, very good.

You can apparently buy the same vintage on the internet:
"1963 Sandeman: One of the most famous of all port shippers, Sandeman's 1963 has that wonderful elegance so typical of the brand, together with the concentration from such a fine vintage. Superb."
for the bargain price of £115 a bottle or £90.15 if you buy twelve. We now have only a few days to drink it at its finest...this is going to be a very good Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Night out

So we went out in Leamington tonight. It was random. I am drunk but I feel more sober than I think I actually am. Muchos vodka and wine was consumed. Here is Simon.

I had a fun night out and didn't think the bar was as bad as Sarah did. However I have come back to be angered by many intellectual bellends ripping Borat apart on the newsnight review of the year. I knew I didn't like newsnight for some reason and now I know why. What a bunch of cocks. I am also in the position of having drunken much but not feeling that drunk. Meh.

Also, I made a kickass lasange. Go me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

On holiday!

Yesterday lunchtime, I picked up my bag, wished everyone a Merry Christmas and left the office for two weeks - and a fabulous feeling it was too. After dropping my stuff off at home I headed to Birmingham (on a very nice quiet train for once!) to meet mum in Victoria Square. We spent a really fun two hours exploring the German market, which we hadn't been to before. It was lovely to just wander round the stalls and gossip as we went. Mum bought stollen and some bowls, and she also bought me a wooden decoration to add to my tree. The highlight was definitely drinking Gluhwein from little painted cups shaped like boots, followed by a highly giggly ride on the carousel! We were the only two people on it and spent the entire ride cackling like idiots and feeling highly tipsy. After the market we went for dinner in Brindley Place before heading to Symphony Hall to see Trevor Pinnock and the European Brandenburg Ensemble performing all six Brandenburg Concertos. It was a great concert, and all the players seemed to be really having fun - it was just like gatecrashing a very high quality rehearsal among friends.

I love being on leave for Christmas. There's so much happening in the next week and it's all stuff that I'm looking forward to. Tomorrow however is a quiet day when I intend to clean the house, go to the gym and then snuggle down to watch the Muppets and Love Actually - a brilliant girly filmfest of unashamed slush and tears, with my tree lights in the background to make me go even more gooey. I'm such a soppy wench!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Speed dating follow-up

So today I had an email from someone who, in the tradition of men being given blog nicknames, shall be referred to as Man With A Girl's Name. Let's see what happens, shall we?!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Yet another fab thing about Christmas

The Famous Grouse is back! I love those adverts.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

So, I speedily dated

and it wasn't as good as last time. On the positive side, I only ticked three people and I remained sober so I can remember who they all were and I know they were all nice! EWCM was there which led to a slightly awkward three minutes but gave me a good story to tell some of the other guys.

Life in general and at work in particular is currently far too busy. Roll on this time next week when I break up for Christmas!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A little moment of magic

Today I rushed around like a mad thing, as many people do at this time of year, to get my Christmas shopping finished and buy a tree and some food for the week. I also had a two-hour driving lesson (turn in the road, get me!) and went to Stratford to do some of my shopping, and generally tired myself out. Then, at about 3.15, I shut the door on the world, put on my CD of anthems and carols (it's a lovely compilation of all the less well-known ones) and decorated my home for Christmas. As I put the angel on top of the tree, I was listening carefully to the words of the carol that was playing - it was the Candlelight Carol: "How can you measure the love of a mother, And how can you write down a baby's first cry?...Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger, Christ our Redeemer asleep in the hay, Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation, A child with his mother that first Christmas day".

I paused, and thought about the real reasons why I personally celebrate Christmas, and about the fact that I only celebrate this special day and this special birth because of what happened to the innocent baby when he grew up. I stood back from my finished tree with tears in my eyes and a big smile on my face - amidst all the busy-ness and the routine traditions that we carry out almost without thinking, Christmas still has that capacity to surprise me every year. A really magical moment.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Unexpected development

I opened my email today during my lunchbreak, and found a message advertising a half price offer for next Monday's speed dating event. Naturally this was too good an offer to turn now I have dates with 20 men on Monday night! Excellent.

I seriously hope Evil Wanker Car Man doesn't turn up though...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


So, here I am sitting in my office, waiting for our Christmas party to start! We're off to Pizza Express for dinner at 7.30 but I didn't have time to go home so I've just got changed in the stock cupboard, straightened my hair (yes I did take them to work...) and done my face, and now I'm waiting for one of our new girls to be dropped off and we'll walk into town together and go to the pub before dinner. I may possibly have a slight headache at work tomorrow!

I've had a really busy but excellent weekend. Saturday morning brought the dreaded driving lesson, which I actually really enjoyed - for the first time in my life driving was fun! My instructor is great and explained everything clearly, and I ended up driving to Offchurch and Cubbington as well as round the roads of Lillington. Hurrah for me! After my mini triumph I had my second achievement of the day by managing to get nearly all my Christmas shopping done, which was great fun especially as there was a (not terribly good) brass band playing festive cheese to add to the general atmosphere. Then in the evening it was off to Northampton for Julia and Andy's housewarming - a most excellent party at which Tia Maria was consumed, red shoes were worn (by Skinner), handbags were carried (Skinner again) and amusing photos were taken of Juicy whacking me with a fly swot. Class.

After a surprisingly good sleep on my airbed, we got up early-ish on Saturday morning, I celebrated the achievement of sleeping in a new sleeping bag for a whole night without covering it in port-flavoured vomit, and then we headed back to Cov for a shower and a rehearsal. The afternoon saw our performance of Itaipu which was actually fun to sing through, if a little painful. The effect with the video was quite atmospheric and we sang well. I'd rather not have been rehearsing the piece all term, but for the performance I enjoyed it. Next term, as I hoped, we get our reward...Mahler 2 and The Music Makers! Bring it on.

Yesterday I was out again at the WO/Rev Christmas concert, which was a fab evening of cheese and tinsel. I really enjoyed the concert and had lots of fun, and sang my first carol of the year too. WO and Rev were a good combination and I hope they can do things together again.

I think that's my report finished for now. I shall spend the next half hour messing about on the internet and looking forward to my dinner. Mmm, pizza.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


You are hereby advised to stay indoors and avoid all roads in the Leamington area between the hours of 8 and 10 on Saturday morning. For the first time in 6 years I'm getting behind the wheel, and I'd hate to drive into anyone I know...

Although to be fair, the first time round my biggest problem was finding the biting point and getting the thing moving in the first place, so you're probably still reasonably safe.


Friday, November 24, 2006

Excitement vs equilibrium

Is it better to live in a state of equilibrium or in a world of extreme feelings? I know what I want someday, and I know I need to look for it now, but to be honest it just seems much easier to carry on with my happy, stable routine. I've had such a good week this week because it's been quiet and ordered, with everything in its proper place, neatly timetabled, and exactly as I want it. My budget is down to the pound, my timing is down to the minute, my meals are planned and my evenings are quiet and peaceful. Frankly it seems easiest to retain the routine that keeps my highly anal mind happy and minimises extreme emotions.

Easiest, but not brave enough. I think I should strike out there, dare to step outside the routine and look for someone who will disrupt my life, make things difficult and cause those highs and lows of emotion that can only happen when you begun to really care about what someone else thinks of you. I haven't felt those emotions for a while, but I remember a vividness and a colour to life that created feelings I still dream about now when sitting idly on the bus with nothing to do but let my mind wander. I remember what it feels like to chase and to catch, to love and to dare to give your heart, and I know that it makes life brighter and more worth living...yet I don't have the energy to go out and grab those feelings again. At the moment I feel like I'd far rather carry on with my ordered, easy, single life and aim for all the things that I can control and weave into this timetabled existence, rather than the one thing that I can't. Part of my knows this is wrong but most of me thinks it can't be bothered to disrupt my happy, quiet, stable little life. Will I ever want to slip out of equilibrium again?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Calling all techies!

I have a problem with my email and wonder if anyone can help me. I haven't received any new messages for two days which I thought was odd as I usually get several each day, but this morning I received an email at work that had been sent to both my work and home addresses and I still haven't had that one to my home address. Usually, messages are sent to my domain name address which forwards them to my Yahoo! account. I've checked 123-reg and Yahoo! and I can't find anything that might have gone wrong with the settings, but I don't really understand much apart from that so I wonder if anyone can suggest what might be going wrong. I can provide more information if you need to know anything else. All help most gratefully received!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I've just come back from Ely where I spent a really lovely weekend with Jo, Mike, Juicy and Stu. We had lots of fun discovering Cambridge, eating noodles, doing the cathedral etc, but I just thought I should mention for posterity part of a round of the game of Taboo that was played on Saturday night while under the influence of wine and Blue Lagoons.

For the word "Beauty Spot":
Stu: "It's supposed to be very sexy on a woman".
Mike: "Vagina".

For the word "Kebab":
Stu: "You might have a dirty one of these after a drunken night out".
Mike: "Shag".

Genius. I should just mention that despite this the girls' team still lost...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Concert reviews

I've been to two fab concerts recently and thought I should review them so that I remember how good they were when I look back. The first was on Saturday night, and was a performance of the Bach St Matthew Passion by Ex Cathedra. My parents love this work and have several versions on CD; dad often listens to it with the text in front of him, following along. I've wandered through the living room while it's been on and heard bits of it, but never really known how the whole work is structured. I always thought it sounded a bit samey and difficult. Anyway, the best way to get to know a piece is to hear it live so when mum offered to pay for my ticket I said yes...and I'm so glad I did. This was just a magical concert, the like of which you don't go to very often, which kept me entranced all the way through a three-hour work. Ex Cathedra as always were superb, with singing of the very highest quality, and the soloists who came from within the choir were just amazing. The staging was quite dramatic, with the characters almost singing to each other, and the chap playing Jesus was so emotive and really made you understand this familiar story in a new way. As for the Evangelist - well if he doesn't make it as a professional soloist there's something wrong. He was absolutely fantastic. Towards the end of the work I felt like this was a far more meaningful religious experience than I ever get in church, and it really inspired me. As the promotional flyer said, "The concert you've been waiting for. The one that will move you to tears. The one that will break your heart and lift you up at the same time. The one that will make you resolve to see more live music. The one you will always remember. The one you didn't know you would love so much. This is it".

Yesterday I was back at Symphony Hall for the Czech Philharmonic. We had a Janacek piece first which I didn't know - mum and I both thought there was a lovely piece trying to get out but it didn't quite make it! The second half was Dvorak 9 which I didn't think was that inspiring although mum really enjoyed it and felt it was played from the heart. However, the piece that made the admission fee all worth it was the second piece in the first half. They wheeled the piano on, and then this gauche young pianist shambled out, wearing a cheap black shirt and ordinary black trousers, with long-ish greasy hair and a vague air of having wandered into the wrong building. He bumped into the piano stool while bowing, plonked himself down, hunched over the piano...and proceeded to give the most stunningly fantastic performance of Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini. It was far and away the best live piano performance I've ever heard - often they're a bit woolly and going-through-the-motions. I'd always suspected that a Steinway could do a proper fortissimo and I was proved right by this - he absolutely walloped the thing, but with style and a beautiful tone, and the quiet bits were as lovely as the loud parts were thrilling. On top of all that he looked like he was enjoying every minute and genuinely loved the music he was playing, which is sadly all too rare among the soloists I've seen. I couldn't take my eyes off him for the entire piece, and at the end I had this huge involuntary grin on my face because it had just been so good.

It's concerts like these that mean I'll always be happy to spend far too much on tickets. The experience of live music is a unique and wonderful thing, and although you do have to sit through some dull performances it's all worth it for the ones that make your heart race and your lip wobble and lift you up in the way that nothing else can. I'm looking forward to years of amazing moments still to come!

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Hurrah for extra tour dates! After all the other gigs selling out, I've just managed to get tickets for Simon and I to see The Feeling at the Hammersmith Apollo in March. Quite absurdly excited about this right now! An excellent cure for feeling very tired and slightly maudlin.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrg. Head hurts. Feel sick. Baaaaaad.

Bloody wine. Why does it hate me so?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The wanderer returns, with some exciting news

Yes, I'm back! You can find out all about my Bath adventure on the travel blog where I've written my usual diary for those who are vaguely interested. Before that I was in Bewdley for mum's Traidcraft sale - I had fun taking the money while she had lunch, and then I cooked a very well-received dinner which we had with sparkling wine. I do like visiting my parents. On Friday night Simon came up and we went to see Mitchell and Webb who were very good indeed and made us laugh all the way through the show. Having to wait 35 minutes for a bus at 11pm in sub-zero temperatures was slightly less amusing (thanks TWM...) but cooking dinner at midnight was all very jolly and I didn't even wake up when Simon got up at 6 the next morning to get the train back to Reading for rowing training at 8.15 (Simon, you're a nutter).

So, my exciting news. Well, item one is that Dad has offered to buy me driving lessons! He told me that if I needed to do a further degree for my job he'd have paid for that, so seeing as I need to be able to drive to gain promotion he's going to pay for that instead. If we need to go out for work we get hire cars so I won't get my own car unless I can pay for it myself, but the lessons will be brilliant and definitely something I didn't think I'd be able to do for a while without help. The thought of getting behind the wheel terrifies me slightly, but the idea of spending the rest of my life on buses is a lot more scary so I shall try my best to overcome my nerves and become a good driver!

Item two is that having complained that my salary appeared to be less than the minimum salary on our new pay scale, I received a letter today from Personnel letting me know that yes, in fact I should be getting £500 more per annum, and that yes, I will be on the right salary from now on and that yes, this will be back-dated to 1st August. Excellent. Bring on the next pay cheque - 18 hours of overtime plus back-dating equals no problem with buying Christmas presents!

Now I have to go into work for two days and then it's the weekend again. What a hard life I do lead.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Another manic weekend

Open days are over!!!!!! Saturday was madder than ever but it's over now, and getting in, finishing my wine and watching the X Factor was just so lovely. Today we've been given lots of exciting new projects to do and I'm feeling refreshed and ready for new challenges.

Yesterday I had an adventure to Butlers Lane for my orchestral workshop. The Martinu was a fun piece to play and an interesting one to discover - not the greatest piece ever written but still worth doing. I think I sounded pretty good which I was pleased with, and my sight reading wasn't too awful either! I certainly wasn't miles behind the other girls from the Conservatoire which was a confidence boost, although as we know Conservatoire students are really not that good so I'd expect to be able to hold my own with them. Anyway, it was lovely to play in a group again and I also enjoyed sitting outside in the gorgeous sunshine at lunchtime. Can it really be nearly November?!

In the evening I decided to give myself a treat, and toddled off to the Apollo to see The Devil Wears Prada. It wasn't as brilliant as the reviews have suggested, but I still had an enjoyable 2 hours and I must admit the clothes, shoes and bags were all fabulous. I did however catch myself having a couple of very un-me thoughts that surprised me somewhat. The first of these was, "Who cares if she's upset her kind, reliable, cute boyfriend who loves her - she should get on with making the most of her opportunities and enjoy the parties she gets to go to without stressing about getting home for his birthday". The second was, "Hurry up and get rid of the boyfriend so that you can shag the gorgeous bad boy". I appear to be starting to think like a single girl who puts ambition and fun before men...really weird but I'm not sure it's entirely a bad thing!

Life gets busy in a good way this week. On Wednesday I'm off to see the Philharmonia with mum and Lucy, and then Friday is Mitchell and Webb with Simon who's coming up for the evening. Saturday is mum's big Traidcraft Christmas fair so I'm going to that and then cooking in the evening for mum and dad, and then on Sunday Gemma and I are going on our Bath adventure! Three nights in a country house hotel - it's going to be fab. Then I'm back at work for two days before it's Mark's birthday/housewarming on the Friday night, and then I'm going to see Ex Cathedra doing the St Matthew Passion in Birmingham with mum and dad before heading back to hopefully catch the end of Matt's charmingly named leaving piss-up. The week after involves our work away day at the very swanky Ardencote Manor Hotel, where we get to stay overnight and eat mountains of food, and then we're off to Ely for another weekend with the lovely Jo! So much to look forward to - I can't wait. :o)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Destiny or decisions?

I'm not one of those people who believes in fate or who thinks that everything happens for a reason. I firmly believe that our life is shaped by the decisions made by us and those around us. However, today I had the most supremely awful day at work and I started to wonder whether some days are just destined to be rubbish.

We have yet another open day tomorrow (the last one of the set!) and in the staff briefing this morning people kept suggesting things that were put down for me to action before 1pm when we were going to set up. Usually I just organise my time well, make lots of lists and everything gets done, but I hate having lots to do suddenly in a short period of time and I was on the verge of feeling stressed. At this point the catering lady chose to come in and mouth off once again about the fact that we're offering vouchers to our cafes this time instead of having a free catering table in the main building. Now if someone told me I didn't have to work on Saturday I'd be overjoyed, but apparently she has a greviance against the VC (who told us to try this so our cafes would make more money) and everyone below her who has any hand in the open days, and she feels the need to make her feelings known at every possible opportunity. Usually I just ignore her, but her timing today meant that by the time she'd finished I was about ready to burst into tears, which would have been fine if a little embarrassing had I just done that, but unfortunately I chose to utter the choice phrase "fucking hell" when I thought she'd left the room, and then turn round mid-tears to see that actually she was still there.

I was so cross with myself for the rest of the day, because however stupid I am in normal life, at work I always try to be professional and I've got really good at not being upset by people who obviously don't have anything against me personally. Today I managed to blow it in quite spectacular style in front of my line manager and our Deputy Director, and while they were very understanding I just felt so unprofessional and juvenile, and I feel like I've kind of screwed any chances I had of getting promoted in our office (I'm sure it's not that bad but it feels like it at the moment!). Then this afternoon Mike told us he's got a new job, and his role is the one I'd feel most confident about going for - I don't think I have enough experience yet but I'm definitely not thinking about it now having proved to the office that I can't deal with stress. My manager complimented me on Monday for never flapping in a crisis, and look at me now!

Anyway, I started thinking - everything happened today due to bad timing, so was I destined to have a bad day despite my actions? In the end I decided not, as I could have handled the situation better had I thought about it. Plus this evening instead of going home and wallowing in self-pity I chose to go to the gym which made me feel miles better. Of course, we can't control everything that happens but I think if we think positively, as I usually do, things will generally turn out alright in the end. This was neatly demonstrated as I was walking home having finally decided that maybe life wasn't so rubbish after all - one of the choicer members of Leamington's chav brigade decided to invite me to "Go fuck yourself" which momentarily made me feel slightly crap, but I cheered myself up by responding (not out loud obviously, I'm not stupid) that actually I probably would have to as no-one else was going to do it for me. I think as long as you can still make yourself laugh you're not doing too badly!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


I just joined a gym! I found a lovely friendly women-only place on Radford Road and this evening a really nice girl showed me how to use all the machines and booked me in for my introduction session. It's based on circuits rather than just using individual machines, so you go round three times in half an hour. All the women there seem lovely and lots of them are older with baggy tshirts so I felt right at home in my equally non-stylish clothing! I met Sue (of Simon and Sue) there as well and she said it was brilliant so I'm happy to give it a go. Hopefully I'll start seeing a real difference before too long.

In order to go along tonight I had to buy some trackie bottoms to wear. This meant I made my first trip to Primark! The prices in that shop are amazing. I was expecting to have to pay at least a tenner but they were a bargainous £4. I'm definitely going back to look at other clothes when I have a bit of money to spend. I know the low prices are probably down to sweatshop labour or similar, but I reckon I'll have a bit more cash to enable me to stick to my principles in a few years time, and I need to start really saving from January to enable me to go on my adventure down under. I'm slowly trying to change the way I think to enable me to live more cheaply and this seems like a good place to start.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Fascinating fact

I meant to write about this at the end of the previous post but forgot. As far as anniversaries go this is a pretty good one - yesterday it was apparently 6010 years since the entire universe was created, at least if you believe Bishop Usher. Usher was one of the many scientists and theologians who have tried to work out the age of our planet and the void in which it spins, and his method (many years ago) was to work backwards through the Bible from the birth of Jesus, putting dates on all the births and events until he reached Adam. His amusingly accurate conclusion was that creation took place on October 22nd in the year 4004BC. The universe coming into existence around them must have been quite a surprise to everyone who was alive at the time...

Anyway, a happy result of this was that Radio 3 played Haydn's Creation yesterday morning in celebration, so I had a rather glorious soundtrack to my cereal and juice thanks to Bishop Usher.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Weekend catchup

Well, having just endured one of the most horrible train journeys I've had for a while (jam packed full, standing up in the doorway, boiling hot, far too many bags) and got thoroughly wet walking home from the station, I'm now snuggled up in my chair reflecting on another good weekend. This was the third part of my extended birthday celebration, the one where I got to spend time with my parents and have free food!

Everything started on Friday night when mum picked me up from work and we went for a quick but delicious dinner at Ask (really good wine!) before heading to the Arts Centre to meet dad and Lu for a quite wonderful performance of Mahler 5 by the Halle. The preview in the Metro had said that the critics have recently voted the Halle the best orchestra in Britain at the moment, and I can well believe it. Every time I've seen them they've knocked my socks off, and again this time they were fantastic, with both technical excellence and a really inspirational performance. Mark Elder is a brilliant conductor and you can tell the orchestra were really with him the whole way. Special mention must go to the trumpet and horn sections which were both superb, especially the principal trumpet with all his many solos. I'd love to hear them in a decent acoustic! Another treat was the first half - in an unusual move, this was made up of a talk where Elder explained the structure and history of the piece with the orchestra playing excerpts to illustrate his points. In order to demonstrate the style that should be used for the opening section, he played a recording of a piano reduction that Mahler wrote several years after completing the symphony, and the recording was of Mahler himself playing the piano! The romantic in me was also delighted to hear the story of how Gustav sent Alma the sheet music to the 4th movement as his first love letter to her - he wrote no words on it but she read the music and knew just what he meant. I can’t think of anything more perfect :o)

Anyway, after that rather wonderful evening we went back to Bewdley and I had a fantastic lie-in on Saturday morning until 10am. I spent the rest of the morning pottering about and doing a kakuro puzzle, and we had lunch complete with a tiny chocolate cake and candles. We then headed to Worcester to see The History Boys at the cinema - I wanted to see the play but didn't think about buying tickets until they were all sold out, but mum and dad had seen it and thought it was excellent, so I decided the film would be a good alternative especially as it stars the original National Theatre cast, is directed by Nicholas Hytner and adapted by Alan Bennett. It turned out to be a good choice - an excellent film that I'd definitely recommend, with some brilliant acting from the (rather attractive) young guys playing the students.

Following the film we had a hot chocolate in Cafe Rouge, and then went to Tenbury Wells for dinner. Mum had chosen a pub that we hadn't been to before but is in the Good Pub Guide, and it's definitely somewhere I'd go again, with good food, friendly staff and a cosy atmosphere. I had crostini and partridge and a calypso coffee to finish, and very yummy it was too.

This morning we went to church where I joined in with music group who were doing the communion hymns. I used to be a key member of music group and I loved rehearsing every week and playing the gorgeous piano parts to all the songs, but these days they don't have a pianist and only rehearse on the day of the service and decide on the arrangements as they go along, so it was easy for me to slot in on my tenor recorder. By the time of the service I had lots of lovely alto lines and twiddly bits to play, and we did some beautiful songs which I really enjoyed. In fact I was inspired to get my old folder out in the afternoon and play and sing to myself at home after lunch! I also played my favourite Beethoven sonata and was pleased that it still sits under the fingers well despite a lack of practice. Lunch was my favourite roast chicken a la mum, with a big bowl of bread sauce for me, followed by crumble and cream...another addition to an excellent weekend of food.

As ever, one of the best parts about going away has been the getting home to my own space, where I'm now sitting contemplating another week at work. Final open day of the cycle next Saturday...can't wait until they're over!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


So, as you might be able to tell, I had rather an excellent birthday yesterday! Today I took the day off and had a lovely lie-in, followed by finishing my birthday cake in bed while reading Cosmo. How decadent can one get on a Tuesday morning?! Following that I toddled off to Birmingham to buy lots of new clothes with my gift card from mum and dad, and I'm pleased to report that my mission was successful. I've bought a red polo neck which will go perfectly with my suit for the colder winter open days that are coming up, a pair of charcoal grey trousers with a very slight pinstripe and funky buttons at the top and turn-ups, a gorgeous grey skirt which I can wear to work or to parties/evenings out, and a black wool coat which will be my staple coat for the next two years. I did go slightly over the amount on the card, but all that means is that I effectively bought a £70 coat for £40 which was my coat budget for the year anyway. A most productive day's work.

Now I'm curled up at home in my long snuggly jumper, listening to Elgar. I'm about to finish off this week's Heat magazine and read some more of my book. It's raining outside and I'm warm and cosy, and I don't have to go out into the rain later because I'm not at work! This birthday weekend just has no bad points to it at all. Happy Sarah.

Monday, October 16, 2006

And lo, it has come to pass

That I am 24. 24 has always been a bit of a seminal age in my book. And thus I will elaborate after I have stopped trying to make my fingers work properly. All very draxy.

So today is the glorious day of my birth. I went to work and was given mnay presnets - a bag, a necklance, earrings, hair straightening stuff and some wine. I have had many fav presents generally. Thusly I shall write.a list.

3 bottles of wine
1 bottle of plum wine
1 bracelet
1 necklace
2 pairs of earrings
2 bags
1 lots of very nice Next bouchers to spend tomorrow
1 set of whale-shpaed candles (lit with my clow torch)
1 set of little Juicy Lucy cards
1 ottle of mint baileys (juicy and stu are legendfs)
1 set of lush stuff
muchos cheques
hair stuff
box of chocs
and stuff still to come! fabulous

So I am a very lucky girl. Tonight I went out with Juicy, Stu and Andy for a Thora hardcord pizza evening at Pizza Expres. muchos wine and yum yum. Spoke to Alicia for about a minute and she managed to call me an old slag. Nice.

I always thought I'd get married aged 24. Am very glad I'm not. However this the age I'm supposed to meet someone so I can get married when I'm 27. Error. Nice men come forth right now! General summoning with fire and stuff. But seriously, 24 is a very major age to be. Scary. But generally good I think, and hopefully better than 23 which has been a bit mediocre and very devoid of stuff. By stuff think Helen and Paul and you'll get what I'm on about.

Ooh Greenday.

Thankyou to the fabulous friends for being so fab, espeically Juicy who is awesome! Yay.

PS I shall probably regret this tomorrow but I'll be shopping so I won't care

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Family day

Today mum and dad picked me up and we went down to Amersham to do our duty with the old people. It was my great aunty Dodo's 95th birthday, and she had a tea party with sandwiches and cakes from a caterer, champagne, fruit juice and birthday cake. We took Grannie out for lunch along with my uncle Andrew and aunt Sue, and I had a really lovely chicken dish in a very nice pub just up the road from the house. Mum, dad and I then had a bit of a walk in the afternoon to escape, before several more old people descended and the food was eaten. My cousins and I did serving duty which excused us from conversing too much and it was actually a very nice do. I saw five of my cousins and lots of uncles and aunts which was lovely, and the definite highlight was meeting my cousin's baby for the first time - amazingly cute! My mum went all gooey and declared that she wanted one. Now I'm pretty sure she isn't intending to have another one of her own so I guess she's implying that it's up to me...the comment "don't leave it too late dear" also kind of suggested this! I told her that she'd just have to wait. Anyway, it was great to see mum and dad and to get more presents - I'll actually have something to open tomorrow now! I also took delivery of the strawberry gateau which I have as my birthday cake every year, and which will make me the most popular person in the office tomorrow. My colleagues have been looking forward to this ever since last year's cake! Mum really is a legend.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Spotted in Cosmo...

"18 is the number of men it's acceptable for you to have slept with by your mid-twenties" apparently, if you want a bloke to think you're a nice girl. Erm, firstly, who are these women, and secondly, where are they finding the men?!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Playing my oboe again

Yesterday I had a rather exciting email from the first oboe at the BPO, who I played with for a term last year. They've since asked me to play in several other concerts but I've always been away for either the performance or the rehearsals. However, this time they're doing a one-day workshop at the end of October and I'm actually free to take part! This is great for me as I haven't played properly for ages and the BPO are such a good orchestra. It's really nice that she's remembered me and that she still thinks I'm good enough to play. I'm only going to be 4th oboe which is fine with me (hopefully nothing too scary there) and we're doing the Martinu 4th symphony. Better get practising...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ever so slightly worrying

So I just looked at Kel's pics of last Saturday, and there are many of them that I really don't remember posing for. The ones of Juicy trying to eat my breast and of me with Stu in Revolution are a complete blank, as are all the ones in the club including me waving my arms about in the air! I look like a total plonker but at least I seem to be having a good time which is certainly something I do remember.

Excellent pics of the Safari Park, the House of Hogg BBQ and Baby B though! And in most of them my hair is quite fantastically straight. Hurrah.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Last week

Firstly, I thought that if I tried to write a proper write-up of Thora it would go on forever, so I'm going to do it through the handy medium of keywords.

Beef dripping. Double cream. 12 packs of butter. Comedy vicar. Bracken. Flamingoland. More food. Harrogate. The world's most beautiful pink handbag. Impossible sports questions. Champagne-wank-Reims-"Is it sugar production?". York. Betty's tea room. Cocktails. Wine. Baileys and creme anglaise (recommended). The Game of Life. Absinthe. More pudding. World's longest journey home - Fellbeck to Leamington in only 7 hours. Relaxation, happiness, battery re-charging and lots of laughing. Fabulous.

And then when I came home it wasn't to normal life quite yet but to our birthday party! I spent most of the morning stressing slightly and running about trying to get everything done, but then I had a lovely relaxing two hours in the hairdressers having red bits put in my hair. I'm really pleased with it as it's not too in-your-face but it's different enough for people to notice. I then pumped up the airbed and went to get Jess from the station, and we sat and chatted and ate dinner and drank hardcore Rose. Lesley came for dinner as well, and we were all sitting having a nice conversation in the kitchen when she suddenly realised it was 6.30 and we had to leave for the bus in 10 minutes. Major error (I seem to be saying that a lot recently in relation to my timekeeping!). We ran about hysterically putting on jewellery and clothes and resolving to do our makeup on the bus, when Lesley remembered that she had her car outside and we could just drive to Coventry. Panic over. The second panic then ensued when my new dress which fitted two weeks ago when I bought it now no longer fastened up in any way. I blame the beef dripping. My wedding outfit didn't fit either which was also highly depressing, so I ended up wearing a top and skirt and being mighty annoyed with myself.

However, after this I cheered up when we got to Juicy's house and I had a good strong vodka and orange. Everyone was there and it was so lovely to see people I hadn't seen for ages - and Juicy had very gorgeous hair! And then the limos arrived. I want my own limo. Seriously fantastic. Sparkly lights in the roof, very sweet bubbly on ice (sparkling perry - quality!) and cheesy CDs. Speeding along with glasses in hand all singing along to Don't Stop Me Now was definitely one of the best party experiences I've ever had.

When we arrived on Broad Street we went straight to Revolution where I had 12 shots of yummy vodka and a chocolate cocktail. Absolutely brilliant. Then we managed to get all 16 of us out and into the club just before the end of the free entry time, where I spent the next 3 hours dancing to cheese (only occasionally falling into the wall) and generally floating on that alcohol high you get just before it all goes wrong, but without it actually going wrong. They played Amarillo (conga!) and Living on a Prayer and it was all fab. At 2pm we left and I stole some of Lu's chips (very delicious they were too) and we managed to get all of us home again which I was very impressed by. Falling into your own private limo is so much better than trying to flag down a taxi. When we got in, Jess, Lesley and I had toast and finished the pasta, and got to bed at about 4ish. I woke up at 11.15 this morning minus any form of hangover. Result. Best night out I've had for a very long time and quite a brilliant way to celebrate (almost) hitting the 24 milestone. Thankyou to everyone who came and made it so much fun!

Friday, September 29, 2006

I appear to be slightly drunk

So tonight three of us went for after-work drinks because no-one else would and we are hardcore. Charlotte, Mike and I went to Dogma and I had 3 cocktails and 2 gin and tonics. Then I went home by miraculously managing to ctach 2 buses and now my dinner is in the oven. Coktails are well yummy. I am a liittle bit durnky and I keep running across the room to do cooking type things in a slightly boundy fashion. Hurrah for work people and Dogm.a. Going on holiday tomorrow. Yes.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A somewhat erroneous morning

Last night I decided to set my alarm slightly early, so that I had a bit more time this morning and could get some stuff done before I went to work. Unfortunately, while I changed the minutes correctly, I appear to have left the hour unchanged. This morning I woke up from a lovely sleep that seemed strangely longer than usual, to discover that it was 6.50 instead of 5.50. Major major error. However, following a bout of quite impressive swearing, I managed to pull off a fairly brilliant display of speed getting up. With my brain going through my usual routine and omitting the non-essential bits, I got up, showered, dressed, straightened the thing on my head that passes for my hair when I wake up and don't wash it, packed my bag, ate a bowl of cereal and left the house bang on time at 7.12. Not bad for 22 minutes! And the bus even turned up on time.

Of course, the entire population of Warwickshire and the West Midlands then turned out onto the bus route, filling the bus with more people than I've ever seen on that journey before and causing us to arrive at my stop at 8.30 instead of 8.15, which considering I start work at 8.30 was really not that great. I arrived in the office at 8.45 having speed-walked across the city at the highest speed possible in the shoes I was wearing, with a bright red face, my (greasy) hair all over the place and generally cursing the whole of humanity. Sometimes it just isn't your day.

But hey, David Tennant's on tv tonight for a whole hour, I made tart for dinner and I ate Cadbury's Eclairs this afternoon. Things could be a lot worse.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A lady who lunches once again

Today I had a lovely time in beautiful sunny Birmingham with my friend Gemma who I met at youth wind orchestra when I was 14. We had lunch at All Bar One in Brindley Place, where I had a smoked salmon and crayfish wrap with chips, and then we transferred to Starbucks on Victoria Square where I had a hot chocolate with cream and a slice of blueberry cheesecake - highly naughty but very delicious. Here we sat and planned our holiday! Gemma's a doctor and is given a rota of nights, days and weekends when she has to work, but she has the week off at the start of November so we've decided to go on a girly break to a country house hotel near Bath. We're going to have a day shopping, a day in a spa and a Jane Austen day, and then drive home via other places possibly including Stonehenge and Cheltenham. I haven't seen Gemma properly for years so it'll be brilliant to have a few days catching up and being unashamedly girly, and we've got a 3 nights for the price of 2 deal so we can have luxury for a bargainous price!

My life is so full and exciting at the moment - the thing I'm looking forward to at the moment is our Thora trip to Yorkshire next week, then as soon as we get home it's our big birthday bash, and a week later it's my birthday! I do love October.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Washing up

Don't try washing up after drinking 2 large glasses of wine. When you come to do the second lot, you'll start drying the first and find that you have bits of food stuck all over your food processor. Then you'll have to wash it again.

I love Fridays.

And I didn't get the job. But I'm quite pleased really, because it means that a) I won't have to go to the same bar every weekend to sell stuff to people, b) I can do exactly what I want on my birthday, ie go to Pizza Express and get pissed (of which more to follow by email in a couple of weeks) and c) I can go speed dating again should the mood take me. Hurrah! The money would have been nice though.

I shall report back in my comments a little later on my first meatball experiment. It's smelling really really good at the moment so fingers crossed!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A celebration of the thought processes of that special being that we know as the Stagecoach Bus Driver

Last winter I spent many weeks repeatedly emailing Stagecoach asking them to turn the heating on on their X17 buses. There were days on which there was snow on the ground, it was minus several degrees outside, and I was sitting with my foot rammed up against the heater which was stone cold and giving no suggestion that it might start giving out heat any time soon. My general attire at this time was trousers, socks, underwear, a vest, a smart work jumper, a big fat bus jumper, a coat, hat, gloves, scarf and shoes, and yet I arrived home day after day with at least three of my fingers completely white down to the second joint. On one occasion I was chopping chicken and thought I had a piece of it stuck to my fourth finger, but it actually turned out to be my middle finger which had lost feeling so completely that the rest of me thought it was a foreign body. In short, it was really quite chilly on the buses.

Today the temperature was in the mid-20s. It was a gorgeous sunny day that felt like high summer and not the middle of September. I wore tights and was far too hot; we had fans on in the office.

Today, for the first time since last winter, the heater on the bus home was pumping out hot air at full power. I give up. I will never understand them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A momentous day

Today, after about 6 months, I finally phoned my letting agent and asked them to fix the light fitting in my living room. They're sending someone round this week. I think I've got the same gap in the efficiency part of my brain that my parents have when it comes to fixing things round the house - currently they have a broken chair, broken curtains and a broken piano stool, all of which have been like that for years. It must be a Barbour thing.

Just think - by the weekend I might be able to turn the living room light on! I'm all about life's little luxuries.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Most bizarre interview ever?

Tonight I went to the most random job interview of my (admittedly rather short) working career. Last week the manager of the speed dating company that runs the events at the Slug and Lettuce emailed round the mailing list advertising for a new person to run the Leamington events, and as it was a job aimed at people who already work full-time and offered the chance to earn around £200 a month (depending on bonuses) I thought I'd go for it. So this evening I threw a bit of slap on and headed out to the Slug, where I was interviewed by the manager who bought me a glass of wine before we started and had to take a break every 3 minutes to ring the bell - he was having to run the event as the person they had before had already left.

I think the interview went well and I was able to suggest some marketing ideas which he seemed quite impressed by. Apparently they've had 3 good applicants which he said he'd have trouble choosing between, although you can never be sure if they're just saying that. Anyway, if I get the job it'll be a fantastic way of earning extra money and a great excuse to spend lots of evenings in my favourite bar, and if not then at least I went for it and didn't let myself down. The fun part of the role is running the dating evenings and writing up everyone's comments afterwards, and the hard part will be going up to people in the bar on a Friday or Saturday night and selling the event - but I've got so much better at things like that since I've been working in my current job, and it'll be a great reason to push myself and get much better at it. I think being able to walk up to people and talk to them is a skill that's required by so many jobs these days and I'll need to be really good at it if I want to progress in my current career, so I'd really like the chance to get the experience without having my manager standing there watching me the whole time.

Anyway, if I do get the job the first event's on my birthday, which is a bit of a bugger but does give me a ready-made night out! I checked with the manager and of course everyone would be very welcome to come to the bar and sit in the non-speed dating bit (or join in if you want!) so it could still be a fun evening. The other bonus is that I'd need to ask a friend to co-run each event with me, and whoever wanted to do it would be paid £35 - it can be a different person every time, so get in line ladies (and gents)!

Fingers crossed for Wednesday when I find out...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More shopping!

Today I found a pair of boots that fastened all the way up! Woohoo! They are mid-calf length instead of full knee length, hence the fastening, but they're flat and really comfy so I can wear them both to work and at other times, and they look really pretty which means I can ignore the ever-so-slight pinching at the top of the zip. Plus they were from a cheap shop (Deichmann in Cov) so they were £2 cheaper than the limit I set myself. Hurrah. Hopefully now with my new-found enthusiasm for exercise they'll fasten up even more easily before long.

Speaking of which - exercise is fantastic! Apart from my four week crazy motivation time back in January, I've found it almost impossible to make myself do aerobics once I got home from work, as I've been tired and hungry and not in the mood to throw myself round the room for half an hour and then have to shower and dry my hair. However, I've always enjoyed doing it in the morning at weekends - it's a great way to start the day and makes me feel less hungry. So, this week I've been getting up half an hour early on work days too and starting the day with 20 minutes of madness. I never thought I'd be able to imagine anything good about waking up at 5.45, but it makes me feel fantastic and I'm not tired yet either. I'm really hoping I can keep this up, and I think I should be able to as once I'm awake it's a waste of time being up early unless I exercise, plus at that time of the morning I don't have enough brain cells to talk myself out of it! I like motivated Sarah - hopefully with enough commitment I'll soon be back to looking like the picture of myself I have stuck on my Motivation Board. I think that calls for a second "Woohoo". Woohoo.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I love shopping. I hadn't been on a big girly shopping trip for aaaaages, but today Lucy and me went to Solihull and had a great day out. We spent 6 hours there and apart from a 45 minute lunch break we just shopped the entire time! I was really pleased to find a soft brown cord skirt that I can wear to work, out to the pub or curled up at home with a snuggly jumper, and it'll go with shoes or boots. Yay! Having whinged about there never being any pretty pyjama sets with long sleeves (I get really really cold in winter and long sleeves are a necessity) I then found just such a pair in Ann Summers of all places, so I bought them as well. I also picked up some tights and some cotton wool, and a cocktail accessories set from Whittard - they were reduced to £1 so we bought one each, and are now the proud owners of straws with sparkly tops, paper umbrellas, seahorse shaped plastic swizzle sticks and odd paper pineapple shapes on cocktail sticks. Class. Lucy found some lovely stuff too including a gorgeous brown leather bag and some smart stripy trousers. As well as buying fab things, we also felt very swanky and ladies-who-lunch-y by going to an Italian place and both ordering smoked salmon fettucine, topped with caviar! It was really delicious and not that expensive, and the Italian waiters were rather yummy as well.

Now all I need to do is find a dress and some boots that fit! But all in all, an excellent day out.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Another anniversary

Today it's exactly a year since I moved into my little house in Leam. After work, mum and I lugged all my boxes down the stairs in Canley, drove them here in two loads, dumped them on the floor and went out for dinner. It took so long that we didn't get to the restaurant until 9.20! On reflection I should perhaps have taken the day off. When we got back I found the essentials I needed for the next morning and fell into bed, and then spent the next week unpacking during the evenings and trying to get the place in order. By the time mum and dad came to help me carry my new table and tv stand home from Argos they were most impressed with what I'd done, and ever since I finished building said furniture (all by myself - one of my proudest achievements) it's really felt like home.

I signed up for 6 months initially and then for a further year last March, so when my contract comes up for renewal again I'll have a look to see what's out there. If I can find somewhere with a separate bedroom for the same price I'll definitely go for it (central heating would also be nice!), but otherwise I'm very happy to stay here as anywhere else would have a lot to do to beat this fantastic location.

In the past year my tiny flat has seen a brilliant housewarming, an Ann Summers party, a rather embarrassing Eurovision event, various hysterical cocktail mixing sessions, a pampering party, a very drunken "let's cook everything in my fridge" experiment and a wondrous moment when I fastened the zip up on my ball dress and nearly cried because it fitted so well. My bed has also been shared by five different people, but sadly they were all female - something to sort out during the next year I feel! Hopefully there will be many more happy memories made here before I leave, and I'm already looking forward to making it look lovely again next Christmas, and to buying lots of gorgeous things for my kitchen with my Christmas vouchers. Ooh, and I might even get up the courage to host a dinner party one of these days...then again, that might be taking it just a bit too far...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A pretty perfect day

Today I spent a rather fantastic day with mum. We walked to Warwick along the canal and river, and then sat and ate an M&S picnic in St Nick's park by the river. The chocolate pudding and strawberries were a particular highlight! We then wandered all round Warwick being touristy, which was lovely for me as when I worked there I didn't really have time to walk round slowly and I didn't appreciate how lovely it is. We spent ages in St Mary's Church and I found out why so many places round here are named Greville or Beauchamp (they were the surnames of the Earls of Warwick) and discovered that Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester is buried there. He was a favourite of Elizabeth I and it was so exciting to find someone who was so central to my A level history buried so close to where I live. I really had no idea there was so much history in that church and it was fascinating to find out about it.

After that we sat and had a drink on Market Square, before walking home the same way we came. A well-earned sit down followed before we headed out for dinner at Rhubarb. I've wanted to eat there since I moved to Leamington - I walk past it every day on my way home and in winter in particular it always looks so inviting and cosy. Today it was quite hot in there but still a lovely atmosphere, and the food was absolutely gorgeous. I was very glad I wasn't paying as it cost £80 between the two of us, but mum agreed it was worth paying that much for such delicious food, and we did have wine as well. My main course was steak with the best chips I think I've ever tasted, and mum had goat's cheese ratatouille. We chatted about everything and nothing and it was a great evening.

I've had such a lovely long weekend with fun things to do every day, and today was the perfect ending. Tomorrow it's back to work, but I'm on training for two days so I won't be back in the office until Friday, and then it's the weekend again! What a grand life I do lead.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

We were on the telly!

Woohoo! Just watched Songs of Praise, and Juicy and I were on screen in close-up for a whole 4 lines! As Dad pointed out, the camera did slightly go up my nose, but Juicy looked great and we both looked very virtuous - not sure how we managed that! Juicy rang me and we both squealed down the phone, and now I'm wandering around going, "I was on the telly!". How exciting!

Friday, September 01, 2006

The Magic Hour

Ladies and gents, it's the magic hour. Let me explain. The magic hour begins at the precise moment that I shut the front door behind me having got back from work on Friday evening, and involves putting on a really fab CD, pouring a large glass of wine, and dancing round my room with joy because it's the weekend. The magic hour can last any length of time, and tonight I think it will be longer than usual because my brother is driving over to see me, and we're spending the evening eating takeaway pizza, drinking, and watching old "greatest sporting moments" compilations - this is an activity that is peculiar to us (and probably peculiar to the rest of the world as well...ooh, wine fuelled humour there) which everyone else would find highly tedious and which we both enjoy greatly.

This weekend is going to be fab! It kind of started yesterday in a way, when I went to Birmingham after work to watch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Hippodrome with Mark and his work friends. I was only invited on Tuesday because they had a spare ticket, and decided to treat myself given that they were half price seats. The show was really well done with great sets and costumes, and it was lots of fun even though it was about the cheesiest thing I've ever seen. Mark even bought me an icecream in the interval!

Tomorrow I'm getting my hair cut and shopping for shoes (woo) and then hopefully seeing Raquel again if she makes it down, and then Sunday is my proud moment of fame on BBC1 when Juicy and I appear on Songs of Praise! It's on at 6.05, and if anyone fancies popping over to watch it with me you're very welcome. I never thought I'd be inviting people to a Songs of Praise viewing, but there you go.

The really great thing about the weekend though is that it's a long one. I've booked Monday and Tuesday off, and my plan for Monday is to have lunch with the lovely Juicy, while on Tuesday I'm spending the day with mum. We're walking to Warwick and either picnicing or pub lunching, then we're going out for dinner as well. Four long days of freedom in front of me, each of them containing good things! Can't wait.

EDIT: I've just taken Simon's pizza order over the phone. He's having a deep regular Oriental. Say no more...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Voice hurts. Ear hurts. Need wine.

Today, through some management error, there were 6 people on annual leave and 4 on training. This left precisely 3 of us in the office (plus the Director who isn't part of the group phone log-in). And the phones went mad. Seriously mad. I was picking up, speaking, hanging up and picking up straight away as the queue built up and call after call came in. The problem is that our number is printed on the prospectus, on the course information leaflets and at the bottom of every course information page on the web, so people think we're the switchboard. Lots of the calls we get aren't even for us, but we're so big on customer service that we try our best to help them anyway and find out who they need to be transferred to. At one point David and Trusha were both on lunch, and I was our entire office and therefore basically half the switchboard! By the end of the day my voice hurt from talking, my ear hurt from the phone and I was so frustrated that I hadn't had time to get all of my normal work done - I wouldn't mind if I worked in a call centre and answering the phone was all I did, but I have to answer the phone and do everything else as well. Somehow I also managed to clear the office inbox (180 emails, I don't know how I did it!), do my daily accommodation spreadsheet and get over half of my open day mailing done.

On the plus side, David who was the duty officer for the day told our Director that I'd answered the majority of the calls and had done an excellent job, and she herself told me that I was a star and that she'd been listening to me all day and I'd done really well. She also gave me a lift home and told me to open a bottle of wine, and I decided that I deserved it so I'm currently enjoying a bottle of white (well, as much as you can enjoy something that cost £4.99) and the feeling of a job well done. I can even find job satisfaction in a really frustrating day...I must have something right somewhere.

So glad 3 people are back from leave tomorrow though...

Friday, August 25, 2006


I've just dug out some of my old photo albums going back from 6th form through to 3rd year, and spent an incredulous few minutes uttering the phrase, "I can't believe I left the house with that hair!" over and over again. Seriously, what was I thinking?! It was like Thora in the rain every day! I was blaming it all on the lack of straighteners until I remembered that I actually bought my first pair halfway through first year, and they seem to have made no difference at all. I think it was the ceramics that really worked the miracles. Apart from the hair though, it's so strange to see how even people from uni, who I always remember as looking exactly the same, have grown up so much. Everyone looks so young at the music centre ball in second year, and even in third year. I think I'll definitely have to get the albums out at some future gathering for the entertainment of all!

On a nostagic note, it's so odd to see how much has changed in just a few years, and I'm really happy that I'm still such good friends with so many of the people in the pictures. It's sad that I don't know anyone from first year anymore, and those pictures especially are so invaluable as they remind me of a year when I looked truly terrible, but when I was totally happy. I still think of that as an idyllic year. I've also been reminded of the importance of taking photos, and I regret not taking more back then - I fitted two balls and associated years of activities into one album. The trend over the last year of taking lots of pictures will definitely have to continue, and one day I expect to look back on them as well and think about how young we all look now.

Oh, and although my hair was the definite star attraction, I did find some pictures of tour in first year and there were notable other youthful haircuts that caused a certain amount of amusement...*coughMr Gilbertcough*...

The Adventures of Henrietta

As some of you may know, my Dad has a large houseplant called Henrietta who lives with him in Swansea. While I was there I had to look after and give her three drinks of water, and one evening she sat on the balcony with me but tried to jump off during a sudden gust of wind and had to be brought back indoors. Henrietta has a more exciting life than you might expect!

Today she asked Dad to send me an email to tell me all about her latest adventure. I thought I would share it with you.

Dear Sarah,
Henrietta wants you to know all about her holiday.

Originally she really wanted to come with us to Nice. But I explained all about the new hand luggage regulations and how she would be squashed in. And then how she could be easily mistaken for a Mad Arab with a Bomb, and shot like that nice Brazilian man on the tube, and she saw that this was not wise.

I gave her the chance to stay at home. She wanted to know if you were coming again. But I explained she would have to be big and brave and have one big drink, and then wait for 10 days...perhaps with her feet in a bowl of water or on a sponge type cloth. I could tell she was not happy, because she was SO quiet. Then she tried to jump over the balcony again, and I knew she was really anxious. And she does find County Hall so very dark.

So we decided that she would come to Bewdley!! It is SUCH FUN seeing all her friends again. She's even sharing a room with an orchid!! And when she looks out of the window, instead of those boats ("more and more boats", she says...!) she sees those really rafish wild every day in the open! And they get tickled by those bees!

So Henrietta sends her love, and wants you to know she is having a perfectly splendid time. Her plate has come as well, though she did have to come off it in the car because she was being very silly and sliding round every time we turned a corner.

She hopes you are well, and is always really pleased to hear your news.

Love Dad

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Things you didn't know about UCAS #103

They have really excellent hold music. With most companies you either get muzak or the Four Seasons, but today at UCAS they were playing a lovely violin concerto from the Classical period (I have to say I don't know which one it was) and what's more, they weren't just doing a small section on a loop - you got the whole lot. The first time I called them I was on hold for ages and I really enjoyed listening to a lovely long section of the first movement (I assume) while the second time I got some of the second movement. It almost made up for the fact that each of the three people I spoke to was unhelpful and/or slightly incompetent...

In other, much more exciting, news, the lovely Raquel is back in the country! Woohoo! Getting a random phonecall from Leeds cheered me up no end this evening, and now I can't wait for Saturday night. Hurrah.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Things to do before you die

Today I was thinking about what my own answers would be to the "Things to do before you die" question. I don't really like that as a title - it's overused in the media and it seems very presumptuous; after all, I might be knocked down by a bus tomorrow (a quite likely occurence when you look at the average TWM driver). However, the alternative is just calling it "Things to do" which makes it look like stuff that has to be done this week - possibly slightly ambitious! Whatever you want to call it, I've started a list of my own. It feels like it has gaps in but I've run out of inspiration at the moment, so I may update it when something else occurs to me.

So...Sarah's list of Things I'd like to do before I get old, assuming I do!
- Stand on Sydney Harbour Bridge on a clear sunny day
- Be a bridesmaid
- Host a really classy dinner party without getting stressed (although not too classy...a bit of wine-fuelled giggling is essential!)
- Learn ballroom dancing
- Cry at my dad's speech at my big white wedding
- Go for a minibreak in a 5 star country house hotel with an 8 foot square bed, order smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast (in bed naturally), go for walks, eat posh dinners, drink cocktails and champagne, snuggle up by a fire and stay in bed a lot (not necessarily sleeping...)
- Buy a house, decorate it and fill it with beautiful things
- Learn to drive and buy a car
- Have children
- Write down and learn to cook all mum's recipes while I still have the chance

And that's as far as I've got. Actually, there were two more things on the list, but despite my occasional emotional ramblings to the contrary, I don't think that absolutely everything should be shared with the world!

It would be interesting to hear what's on other people's lists. I think it's a good indication of where your priorities lie, and of what really matters to you. My themes seem to be love, friends & family and home which is a very accurate summary of what's important in my life. Of course there is some material stuff in there too...the day I get my Beetle or 2CV will be a good one indeed!

Bright ideas needed!

This is an appeal to my lovely readers for some ideas. I'm bored and I hate Sundays, and I need things to do on future weekends to prevent me spending any more days like this. Everything I usually enjoy doing (reading etc) is making my head hurt, and everything else I can think of to do would cost me money which I just don't have. I have loads of free weekends coming up, and although I do also have things to look forward to they're all going to be really expensive. So...what can a single girl get up to on a Sunday that will be fun and totally free? I'm hoping that all you lovely imaginative types can think of things that won't even require money to be spent on bus fares or food, although if you can you're doing better than me!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Date #5

So yesterday was my date with Mr Short the First. I think to be fair to him I shall have to think of a new name, as I didn't really notice his height and I certainly wouldn't have thought it was a big deal if I hadn't been looking for it. He didn't really help himself with his opening comment, which was "Are you sure you don't mind about the height thing?" to which I told him that giving girls a reason not to go out with him within the first five minutes of meeting them was not necessarily the best way forward, and I think he got the message.

Anyway. I had a really good time! I'd forgotten how much fun it is to make myself look pretty and go out for dinner with someone, and I really enjoyed being able to put across the side of me that I wish I could project all the time. Sadly this was the only reason I had a good time - Mr Memory of a Goldfish (of which more later) was quite nice and all, but not very interesting and not fanciable, and although we kept the conversation going all night I knew I wasn't going to see him again. When I ask the question, "What are your ambitions? What do you have to have achieved before you die?" I have to confess I'm not terribly inspired by someone who says, "Well, I'd like to be a clinical psychologist". This I think was the reason I was able to be myself - when I'm with someone who I'm not attracted to I can relax and be the person I wish I could always be in front of men. I'm confident, sassy, intelligent, interesting and funny, and I also do a good job of looking interested in the other person even if I'm not. My problem is that when I'm with someone who I really fancy, I become thick as two short planks and lose all powers of conversation. I sit in silence desperately racking my brains for something to say and then when I do talk I come out with the most awful drivel and make myself look completely stupid. I also tend to respond to all questions by giggling like a fool. The worst thing is that a very small part of me retains its mental faculties and sits there shouting at the rest of me, "Come on woman, what the hell are you playing at? You're supposed to be intelligent and you are the equal of this person so why are you doing this?!" but the rest of me is powerless to resist the overwhelming idiocy. One day I hope to find a gorgeous man who I can talk to...surely it can't be too hard!

Anyway. I entertained Juicy today with some choice snippets of conversation from last night that I thought the rest of you would appreciate as well. You will now see why Mr Memory of a Goldfish has been renamed (perhaps Mr Completely Thick would also be appropriate).

Him: So what's the difference between the Arctic and the Antarctic?
(This came out of a conversation about places we'd like to visit)
Me: Well for a start one's a continent and one's an ocean.
Him: And didn't the Antarctic used to be part of America?
Me: Erm, are you thinking of Alaska?
Him: Oh yes, that's the one. So where's Antarctica then?

Me: I'm coming to Birmingham for my birthday - we're hiring a limo,
dressing up and going to Broad Street.
Him: What are you dressing up as?
Me: No, I meant dressing up smart...
Him: Oh right. So when was the last time you went to a fancy dress

Him: So you live in Leamington then.
Me (rejoicing that he'd actually remembered something): Yes, it's
lovely, blah blah.
Him (5 minutes later): So do you live with your parents?
Me (knowing full well I'd told him this already): No, I rent a flat by
myself in the centre of town.
Him: Which town?
Me (suppressing an urge to strangle him): Leamington...

I hope you're suitably amused.

Well, after an evening of being attractive and intelligent I'm back to my normal self today with an impressive display of Disaster Baking. Obviously forgetting to buy chocolate drops when I wanted to make chocolate drop cookies was something of an error, and then I got bored and made the balls of dough far too big so they all merged in the oven and although they came apart it was in very weird shapes. They're slightly tasteless (unsurprisingly) and generally a bit of a disaster, but I have to take them to work or I'll eat them all myself. Luckily I remembered the golden rule which is that when I'm trying something new I should always make brownies as a backup, so everyone should be happy with those tomorrow.

A level day looms large. If I make it through 8am to 5pm tomorrow and 8.30 to 7pm on Friday of constant "Have I got in?" phonecalls without a break (we're even having a buffet delivered so we don't have to leave the office) I shall see you all on the other side...

Monday, August 14, 2006

New pics

Pics are now up of Mum's birthday/Bewdley Regatta and Swansea. They're on my space as usual.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Cosy and warm

So Mr Short the First and I are (literally) taking a rain-check due to the crappy weather. This is a very good idea on his part as I went out food shopping this morning and came back with the classic fluffy hair due to drizzle thing that I really hate. Rain and dating definitely don't mix. Hopefully it'll be a lot dryer on Tuesday, plus it's always more fun going out for dinner during the week as it feels like a lot more of a treat. I can now curl up indoors for the rest of today and feel smug that I'm not out in the cold and damp.

Yesterday was such a good day, from the bacon and croissants at the beginning to the strawberry souffle at the end. I don't know about anyone else, but I had a thoroughly jolly time looking at the llama porn and going on the crappy rides, and it was so lovely to see mum and dad and eat yummy food in the house that still feels so much like home. I love having two homes to go to - one that's just my little space to be completely me in, and one where I get fed and watered and loved every time I go back. I'm really glad we've booked so many concerts together this year as I miss mum and dad, and now that seeing them is more of a rarity it becomes a real treat.

Right, I'm off for a classic Sunday of Cosmo, Sunday Grandstand, girly films (possibly), Dusty Springfield and How I Met Your Mother which is a quite fabulous programme that might well be the new Friends if more people start watching it. I might even get my duvet out and do the whole thing in style. Sometimes a cosy day in is just what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sudoku madness

I appear to have a minor Sudoku obsession. I bought a book of them to do on the train to and from my holiday and only completed about half of them, and now I find myself working through the rest every evening in a slightly concerning manner. I'm onto the hard ones now and it appears that the more I try to do, the faster I try to do them which inevitably means I get it wrong at some point without noticing and it all goes tits-up. Tonight I tried one of the giant 4x4 ones and after over an hour of really careful thought (see? Deeply scary!) I found it didn't work, but I had no idea where the mistake was. My book is now littered with little phrases that I uttered at the point when I found mistakes, and then felt compelled to write down. These include "Bugger", "Sodding bollocks" and "Arse", while the giant one is now titled "So bloody annoying". I worry myself sometimes. I think I may be turning irrevocably into someone who lives alone and talks to themselves and does Sudoku. Next thing you know I'll have 7 cats and then it's only a matter of time until children won't go past the house because they're frightened of the Mad Cat Woman with the crazy hair (although my hair is actually looking really good this week) who has walls covered in little grids of numbers.

Ok, so I didn't entirely mean all of that last bit, but I feel the Sudoku obsession ought to stop. Maybe tomorrow I'll buy the Guardian and do the Kakuro instead...Mwahahahaha.

A plague of short men

Today I had an email from someone who sounds perfect in almost every way - among many other things he's a pianist, he shares lots of interests with me and he can write! The problem is he's 5ft 4. I just couldn't go out with someone who was 4 inches shorter than feels a bit shallow but sadly it is important. This is one of the very few occasions when I wish I was a bit shorter. Ah well - could be a potential new friend.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Could be an error...could be a good thing

I just agreed to go on a date with a charming man who does a worthwhile job and told me I was lovely, interesting and pretty (how much that shouldn't work and how much it actually does is the topic of a whole other post) and who is going to take me out to Birmingham on Sunday for wine and lunch in Pizza Express. Good things about this - ooh, lots. Bad things about this - said man is 2 inches shorter than me. This really shouldn't be an issue, and indeed he told me this and I still agreed to meet up with him. But isn't it really shallow that it bothers me at all? I guess I'll find out how much of a problem it is when I meet him and discover whether he makes me laugh as much in person as he did over MSN...

Ooh, I do like having something to look forward to on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. Good weekends are a wonderful thing.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

A post by the lovely Juicy - something highly philosophical (apparently)

So vodka, what is it that means that you can drink an awful lot of it and not have a horrid hangover in the morning? I don't understand. It has the ability to make me pass out in all manner of places and yet I never suffer the next day. Am I alone? Why is this? What flavour donut is on the menu? Why do birds suddenly appear everytime you are near?

Beef. Innit.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Binge drinking

Binge drinking is yet again in the news, with a new study showing that people in some northern towns will lose around 2 years of their life due to excessive alcohol consumption. ITV news has just done one of its usual simplistic reports on the issue (phrases like "a sea of alcohol" etc) and I've been shouting at the telly over the stupidity of it all. According to the Guardian, a binge drinking session for a woman would be anything more than one and a half pints, or three shots of spirits. Now can anyone honestly tell me that they head out for a night out aiming to drink no more than this? You could easily get through more than this in its wine equivalent over a civilised meal without getting drunk at all, and a couple of cocktails will also take you over, again without causing you to throw up in the street and assault a paramedic. The guidelines are so unrealistic that no-one's ever going to take them seriously - regardless of what the actual health research recommends, surely a better way forward would be to set a more realistic limit for people to aim for as a good starting point? A recommended limit that at least decreases anti-social behaviour would probably be higher and more achievable, even if it did still damage your health in some way. Telling people to never get drunk again in order to stop them dying at the age of 83 instead of 85 is just not going to work.

Rant over.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I hate S4C

S4C is as far as I can see the one and only really bad thing about Wales. There are a couple of programmes on Channel 4 tonight that I'd quite like to watch - my life won't be over if I don't see them, but I'd circled them in Heat (again, how sad am I?!) and they seemed to be the best things on tonight. Of course, I switch the telly on and get that familiar sinking feeling when I hear the odd language coming out of it, and I check the S4C listings and discover that instead of my programmes I am being offered the delights of Pobol Y Cwm, Clwb Garddio and Bandit, followed by Tipyn O Stad. Of course Big Brother is on as normal...Channel 4 getting its priorities right as always. The sooner Dad gets digital telly the better. I really hate S4C.

Turning into my mother

They do say that everyone eventually turns into their parents, and I think it's been happening to me for a while. Today I was presented with yet more evidence. When we used to go on family holidays, mum and dad would drag us on country walks almost daily, either along cliffs or lanes or round National Trust gardens. My brother would complain loud and long and cause friction by whinging the whole way there, and while I knew this was pointless and tended to get on with it, I always wished that we could just be left alone to sit round the house reading or watching TV, or go shopping or to the cinema instead. Now I'm on holiday by myself for a week and I'm free to set my own agenda, so I could quite easily be spending my days cocooned inside the flat, reading, watching telly and eating, venturing out only to go into town. So what did I choose to do today? I caught the bus out into the middle of nowhere and went for a cliff walk, then sat on the beach and read the paper before walking all the way back again. I am voluntarily having my parents' holidays - and I'm having such a good time! I resign myself to my fate.

Mind you, I very much doubt my parents have ever visited a vodka bar or enjoyed 2 for 1 cocktails on holiday...maybe there is some hope for me yet!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Juicy and Sraah drunmky.

Juicy and Sarah are well pissed. keeps kissing my arm.

Juicy says:hymen frrecdt ubhgfgrtt. Well d9ohe Juicy.

We hage had many many shots of vodka. It was good. 18 between 3 of us! Oooooh dear. 2 for 1 cockails in Pitcher and Pinao! Bargainouuuuuuuuuuuuus.

Stu isk tickling Juicy. Well funny. She just said "i hae 3 vbreats". She walked with no flipflop all the way here cos it broike. Lotsof sounds c;amlu noised wooooo.

Jiucy saysLme flip fl9opuy brokey and me hot lamppsts w9ith flipflops been bnuggert. grunt.

I am not drunk. really. Am well sober.8ujhm deriniky. That was Juicy. She is well sdrunk. mot i waZ,m, that was also Juicy.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

New blog!

As alluded to in the post below, I've now set up a blog just for details of my travelling exploits, information on places I want to go to and any plans I make. The idea is that you won't have to plough through it on my main blog if you're not interested, and I'll have a good record of everywhere I've been to supplement my memories. If you're interested, you can find it at Happy reading!

In Swansea!

After 3 trains and a bus I made it to Swansea! Further details will follow on my brand new blog - I had some inspiration on train number 2 today and decided to set up a separate travel blog to chronicle my adventures, describe places I want to go to and list travel plans as they're made. I'll let you know when it's up...

For now I just wanted to record that I've had lots of my hair cut off (hurrah) because it was really annoying me, I've managed to get myself here and actually had a lovely journey, I've been to Tesco and back in the rain, and now I'm listening to girly rock (NY-LON soundtrack - awesome), cooking up a very large pasta bake and garlic bread, and I intend to drink the entire bottle of wine that I found waiting for me when I arrived - love my dad. I'm in the mood to eat fat and get very drunk! Apologies to those of you who I send drunk texts/MSNs to later, and to those of who escape this...well apologies to you too!

I really love travelling - but arriving is even better, and that first glass of wine after you arrive is better still. Extremely happy Sarah!

EDIT: I am currently dancing round Dad's flat, glass of wine in hand, to Twelve Stops and Home by The Feeling. This CD seriously has the best beginning to any album ever. Fact.

I may be slightly drunk...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Made me smile

My desk calendar today treated me to the following headline from the Litchfield (Connecticut) County Times: "Litchfield urging visitors to try a quickie; merchants complain." I have no idea what this story was actually about but it made me chuckle.

On an unrelated note, I just watched the weather forecast and apparently it's going to rain on Wales all day Saturday. Joy.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Essential items: a gender study

I'm currently reading Bill Bryson's "Down Under" to get some preliminary ideas of places I should visit in Australia. This has inspired me to look at a few more websites, one of which is a rather good gap year site set up by a twenty-something person who wanted to offer independent advice to other people who are thinking of embarking on similar trips to those he and his girlfriend have been on. He writes about inter-railing, coach tours and working holidays, and it's all useful stuff. However, I was struck by the following sentence in the "What to Pack" section: "However some items are essential (no not hair straightners and laptops) so check out the essential items list to see what every traveller should take with them."

Not hair straighteners?! As I'm sure anyone who's been camping with me will attest, for this girl hair straighteners are not a luxury item. They are literally one of life's most basic essentials, keeping me looking and feeling human and providing happiness and confidence. I don't feel like myself with natural hair, and I certainly don't look like a person that any right-thinking individual would want to approach. I refuse to resemble a wild hedgerow-cloud being with the fringe of Renee Zellweger in Chicago on my travels, so I will be packing my precious ceramics and a plug adaptor for every possible electrical system in the world, and woe betide anyone who tries to persuade me otherwise. They can replace the sunglasses which appear on the "Essential Kit List" and which I've never worn in my life.

Somehow, I guess that all the girls out there will fully understand this point of view while the men may be less convinced. Alternatively, you may all remember just what my hair turns into when left to its own devices and agree with me wholeheartedly!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Things you may not have known about UCAS #72

When you go to their headquarters for training sessions, they always have curly fries as part of the buffet. These are the best curly fries in the world. Fact.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Birthdays + family + yummy food = happy Sarah

I've just had a really lovely weekend. On Thursday night I lugged my stuff to Coventry station after work and got the train(s) home through the gorgeous Worcestershire countryside in the evening light. Mum made lasagne and we shared a bottle of wine (of which I managed to throw a glass all over the patio - major spillage error) and chatted. Simon and his rowing friends came back from the river and filled up the house - they were lovely boys if far too tall, and they ate like horses.

Friday was mum's birthday, and after eating breakfast outside on the patio she went to town to pick up some things for the evening and I took the opportunity to play the piano. I was quite encouraged to find that although I haven't played for months I can still play the pieces I was most familiar with reasonably well, so it shouldn't take too long to get back into it properly when I get my piano. My sightreading might need some work to get it back to its former glory though! Anyway, we then drove out to Martley for lunch in a pub. Following that, the evening was just fantastic and was definitely the highlight of the weekend. Dad came back from Swansea, and I cooked dinner which I have to say tasted lovely, especially the raspberry cheesecake which may well have been a work of genius. We ate on the patio (again) and all 6 of us (including the rowing lads) squashed round the picnic table and laughed and chatted for hours. We had Pimm's before dinner and fizz during, and mum opened her presents afterwards. We stayed outside until 10 when it was dark but still warm, and it was just fab.

Saturday was Bewdley Regatta, and we walked down the hill to watch the boys. As one of them hadn't rowed for 2 years and the whole crew hadn't rowed together at all, it wasn't surprising that they lost. This didn't spoil the day for us however, as we had sponsors badges which meant free cake midmorning, followed by free wine and lunch: cold meat, salmon, new potatoes, pasta salad, bread etc and then strawberry pavlova. Unfortunately I then had quite a bad reaction to the general sun and heat and lack of water, felt really dizzy and sick, had big blotches in front of my eyes and couldn't see, and apparently turned ash grey. This meant that while Simon was winning a pot in the 8s race he subbed in for, I was at home sitting very still and drinking lots of water. However, I was better by the evening when we went out for dinner to a gorgeous pub, The Talbot at Knightwick. It has gardens where all the fruit and veg they use are grown, and all their meat etc is sourced locally. My main course was rabbit, which I'd never had before but which I'll definitely order again. It was so tasty, and it came with cider risotto which was just sublime. We had such a lovely evening out, and I didn't have to pay which is always good!

Today we went to church, had lunch and then I battled the rail replacement services. All in all a great weekend, marred only by the brief illness, my phone battery totally dying so that I couldn't even switch the phone on to get people's numbers (sorry to everyone I was supposed to meet up with and didn't due to having no method of communication!) and the aforementioned rail replacement which meant that it took 3.5 hours to get home. This week I have a visit to UCAS tomorrow, complete with buffet (UCAS buffets are excellent and involve curly fries) and a work night out to Dogma on Thursday, before my Welsh adventure starts on Saturday. Ooh, Top Gear.