Tuesday, December 11, 2007

If Carlsberg made team meetings

Yesterday afternoon we had the best team meeting ever. If anyone's ever been to a better meeting than this I'd love to know about it! The agenda unfolded as follows.

Item 1 - Chocolate. We've recently bought a web enquiry service from a specialist provider and to thank us for spending thousands of pounds they sent us a large box of Thorntons chocs. Item 1 was therefore an instruction to consume a lot of chocolate during the meeting.

Item 2 - Admissions. Something actually relevant to our work.

Item 3 - Shopping. Our Director, struck down by the Christmas spirit, told us all that we could take a half day off at any time of our choosing during the next two weeks to go Christmas shopping. This will not come out of our annual leave. We were mightily excited by this news.

Item 4 - Food. When we moved into our current building there was a strict edict that none of the teams in the building were to bring in hot food. This was a year and a half ago and most offices are happily flouting the rule. We have now been told that we can do the same. Cue much celebrating and purchasing of cup-a-soup and baked potatoes. We really know how to live it up!

Item 5 - Marketing. Another actually relevant discussion.

Item 6 - Winter Ball. We all went round and told everyone what we're wearing to the staff ball. Then it was 4.55 so we went home. Best meeting ever!

So, as a result of item 3 above, I'm leaving work at 12.15 tomorrow to get ready for our all-staff ball. This means that instead of running in the door, throwing my dress on and running back out again in 15 minutes flat, I have five wonderful hours to paint nails, straighten hair, drink wine and pour myself into my dress. Getting ready to go out is one of my favourite activities and I'm really looking forward to putting on my new dress and jewellery, getting merry with my colleagues and having a bit of a dance. Plus MGL is coming with me which means I get a lift home, my colleagues get to meet him and I get to ogle him in a suit which is another of my favourite activities! All in all it should be a fab evening and I can't wait. I am however trying to avoid thinking about the morning after - at 6am on Thursday I may not be a very pretty sight!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One Sunday in November

When I was single, I really didn't like Sundays.

There. I said it. When I was single, I was determined to prove to myself that every aspect of life could be just as fun and rewarding as it was when I had a boyfriend and, with a few small exceptions, I was successful. However, on a regular basis I found myself feeling lonely and depressed on Sundays, and sometimes I couldn't even blame it on a hangover. It's easy to entertain yourself on a Friday night (wine to celebrate the end of the week, good tv, looking forward to two days of freedom) and on Saturday (productivity during the day, food shopping, cleaning etc and then more wine and cheesy telly) but by Sunday after a weekend alone the shine has gone from life ever so slightly and it's hard to think of interesting ways to pass the time. At one particularly low point I even found myself looking forward to going back to work because it would mean having people to talk to, which I hope is something that will never be repeated!

So yes, despite my usual optimism, I just didn't like Sundays, and at about 4pm on another day of sitting at home, I would find myself wishing for a boyfriend - someone to share my lazy day with and transform it into time off to be treasured rather than frittered away. And today, I got my wish. MGL and I woke up at 9.30 and spent an hour and a half in bed, savouring the lack of alarm calls and reasons to get up. When we did finally drag ourselves out of the horizontal, we ambled to Starbucks for a coffee and a chat, and then strolled round town looking at market stalls, popping into shops and laughing at little children in Jephson Gardens. After we'd had enough of the cold we walked back to his for chips, dips and a cheesy film, before heading to Raquel and Mark's for a lovely dinner to round off the day. It was a long, lazy day filled with nothing to do - and I loved every second of it.

Single life was fantastic and I know that I can live a full life on my own. But at the moment, being in a couple is pretty damn special. Big happy grins all round.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The price is right

I have always been good at shopping. I am the person who finds amazing bargains in the sales, or who takes an item to the till to discover that it's suddenly half price and no-one's got round to re-labelling it yet. I am also the person who blags a 20% discount for some barely visible makeup marks on the inside of a shirt. However, yesterday I impressed even myself with my ability to bag a bargain.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I went into Debenhams to browse through their Christmas party dresses. I was immediately confronted with a wealth of beautiful creations, all of which I could have bought instantly given the money and all of which cost £100. Depressed by my inability to afford them, I trudged back to work and lamented being poor. Ever since then I've been doing sums in my head to work out how I could afford to treat myself in time for the work Winter Ball, and had just about become convinced that with a 20% off voucher from a colleague and a bit of extra saving here and there, I might be able to not entirely bankrupt myself.

Yesterday, having returned to work feeling bunged up, snuffly and not at all disposed to go outside for the rest of the day, a colleague casually mentioned in passing that Debenhams were holding a Christmas Spectacular with at least 20% off all clothes. Ignoring the pleas from my pounding head that I remain seated and stay calm, I legged it into town at lunchtime, grabbed the five most beautiful dresses and had a trying on spree which left me hot, sweaty and feeling a lot more ill. The effort was worth it however, as I narrowed down my choices to two. Now I only needed to find these two in different sizes to work out which fitted best, and I was away.

Returning to the shop at 5pm, I settled upon my favourite dress: a gorgeous black number covered in huge purple circles, with quite an unusual shape and netting in the skirt (I love netting in the skirt!). Proceeding to the till in the knowledge that I was buying a £100 item for £80 which I still couldn't really afford, I had the first of my sudden brainwaves. "I know", I thought, "I have a Nectar card in my purse with lots of unused points on". At the till, a second brainwave hit. I could open a store card for this one purchase only, and save 10%! Discounts galore later, I left the shop with a beautiful £100 dress that had cost me precisely £60.21. Bargain.

And, to top it off, I've saved £15 already this week through being ill and not going out or catching any buses for three days. Total amount I have to find from December's budget for my £100 dress? £45. Plus, as a new storecard holder, I have just finished the rather wonderful mini box of Lily O'Briens chocolates that I received free with my purchase. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why girls love shopping.

Now I just need to decide what jewellery to wear with it...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Things that have happened recently

I have been ill. This has caused me to miss a wedding and take two days off work. As of tomorrow I will no longer be ill but will still be snotty, coughy and disgusting.

I have finished re-reading the whole Harry Potter series. I completed the final book yesterday and the tears mixed with general snottiness and unstraightened hair were, I must assure you, an extremely attractive sight.

I have cooked a kick-arse spaghetti bolognaise.

I have had a lovely short haircut.

I have completely failed to blog.

I have been to Barcelona. I have seen the sights, walked for miles, eaten wonderful food, drunk delicious wine and had a lovely, relaxed, happy time which promised many more joyful holidays to come.

I have fallen in love.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Looking forward

So, my few weeks of madness have come to an end and I have a few days to take a breather and look forward. Two weeks ago I had a wonderful but very busy birthday, and last week I had a stressful time at work with two open days. My blogging therefore suffered under the onslaught of fun and tiredness. However, I'm now free to comment on some very happy thoughts that have been swirling round my head over the last couple of days.

Firstly - work. On Saturday I worked at my last ever open day, and now it's really starting to feel like I'm on the home straight. For the next couple of months we'll be concentrating on admissions processing, something which I enjoy and am good at, and at every meeting when we discuss future plans I'm finding that I'm no longer taking notes as we're discussing projects that I won't be there to work on. I have one more on campus event to organise, one off campus fair to attend and two Christmas parties to go to (tough job but someone's got to do it) and then I'm really out of there. It feels like a great weight is gradually being lifted, and I can see the finish line in sight. I can't wait to get there!

Secondly - holiday. For most of this year I've been so focused on getting to January and leaving my job that I've almost forgotten the reason why I'm resigning. The other day, however, I had one of those little moments of realisation when I remember that I am actually heading to the other side of the world for three months for the trip of a lifetime, and I had shivers up my spine. It's now less than three months away and I really need to start planning the last little bits and arranging my leaving parties - strangely I half thought I'd never reach this point and I can't believe it's nearly here!

Finally, and probably most importantly, my love life. Regular readers will know that I am a difficult person to please in this area. Over the last couple of years I've complained about being single and lonely yet I've whinged about all the men who have actually been on dates with me, and recently I've stressed verbally rather than in writing to several people about losing my freedom once I actually did find someone I wanted to see more than once. Now, however, after a very well timed intervention a few weeks ago by various people to stop me doing something very stupid, I am pleased to report that the complaining is over. For the moment, at least, ladies and gentlemen, I am happy. My boyfriend is definitely living up to his nickname - he does lovely things for me, he puts me first, and following a conversation a few weeks ago, I still have my free time to sit around and generally do nothing which I need having lived on my own for so long. What's more, I'm really starting to look forward to seeing him when we're apart and to daydream about things we could do together. He's always been lovely but I haven't always been sure that I wanted to be with him - but now all that's changed and I'm gradually starting to like the idea of seeing him more and more. It's rather a fabulous feeling to know that when my life gets turned upside down next year, and I come back in April to a completely new existence, MGL will be one of the continuous presences that I haven't lost. And he'll still be gorgeous.

Ain't life grand.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Quick update on my life

Birthday - fabulous. Pink fizz, gorgeous food, muchos wine, fab friends, prezzies.
Day after birthday - three bagels, muchos chocolate, lovely lunchtime with MGL.
Birthday weekend at home - homemade food and drink, amazing meal out at very swanky restaurant (including brandy, limoncello and champagne cocktail!), Mahler 2 in Symphony Hall.
Work this week - immense stress. One open day today, another one on Saturday. Far too much to do and not enough time to do it in.
5pm this Saturday - my last ever open day over! Then off to MGL's parents - eek.

Normal service may be resumed when I finally stop...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Grinning madly and loving the world

I must apologise for not blogging much recently. I've felt that I haven't had anything interesting to say, which is odd because I usually blog about things that are of no interest to anyone, but there we go. However, I couldn't let this past weekend go by without a mention because I've had the most fantastic time!

Saturday didn't start particularly well as I had to work on an open day which entailed getting up at 6am, but when 4pm came I legged it as soon as I could back to our office and into MGL's waiting car to be whisked back home where I changed and finished packing. Then it was off to the station and onto a train to London! As soon as we pulled away from the station some yummy deli food from Sainsbury's was magicked out of a bag, and as I munched on quiche the Pimms appeared! I spent the next two hours happily quaffing from a camping mug and feeling very pleased with the world.

Once we arrived in Marylebone it was onto the tube, and after adjusting the route to take into account the Circle line closure, we arrived at Lancaster Gate for a short walk to a very nice hotel one street away from Kensington Gardens. Bags were thrown on the bed and then it was out the door and back to the station for a mad dash to Leicester Square, and during the train journey I was handed a birthday card containing two tickets to the 8.30 performance of Avenue Q! I couldn't think of a better present or anything that I'd have appreciated more.

A very brisk walk later, we arrived in our seats at the Noel Coward Theatre with five minutes to spare, and I had time to appreciate the grandeur of the theatre and the fact that we were bang in the middle of the row, six rows from the front in the stalls! Brilliant seats for a brilliant show which was hilarious, cleverly staged and performed by some really talented actors. It was MGL's first musical and only my second London show and we both really enjoyed it.

The show finished at 11 and we headed to the Tottenham Court Road for a drink and to find out the rugby score which was very exciting. After that we started walking in the direction of the station, and had such a good time chatting and seeing the sights that we carried on and ended up walking all the way back to the hotel. It was so lovely to walk in the dark through the lights and along the avenues, chatting and laughing.

This morning we headed out into a beautiful warm sunny autumn day (after brownies for breakfast!) and spent an hour walking round Kensington Gardens, kicking through the leaves. We ended up ambling down to the Diana Memorial Fountain (verdict: I have no idea how anyone could have thought it was safe for children to play in given the speed of the water over the smooth stones) and had a distant glimpse of the London Eye across the river.

We then had to check out, so we lugged our bags back to the tube and headed to South Kensington and the Natural History Museum. We finished our deli goodies and ate more brownies on the grass in front of the building, and then spent a couple of hours wandering around reliving our childhoods and overdosing on information boards. By 3pm we were completely knackered in both the brain and the feet department, so we made it back to Marylebone and collapsed onto the train where we dozed our way back to Leamington and finished the brownies. We got home at about 6pm and since then I've enjoyed giving my arms and feet a rest from all the walking with heavy bags!

I had such a wonderful time this weekend. I've been so busy this week with my brain constantly full of lists and things to do, and to put my time in someone else's hands for a change was such a release. MGL planned a fabulous birthday surprise for me and I could tell that so much thought had gone into it, from the musical soundtracks on the CD player in the car to the Pimms on the train. I feel so happy and relaxed this evening, and I can't wait for Tuesday when I turn 25 and celebrate with pink fizz, good food and ten of my lovely friends. Life at this precise moment is pretty damn good.

Monday, October 01, 2007


So, after a rather horrible day during which I went all wobbly at my desk and had to avoid speaking to people for a bit because I thought I might cry (for highly random reasons!) I pitched up at the gym for my moment of truth. Having thought that it might be the icing on the cake of my bad day, I was really surprised and pleased to find that in the 8 months since February, during which I've been continually disappointed by my inability to eat healthily, I have in fact only put on 4 pounds and only 2 of those were of fat! This suggests to me that if I actually start eating properly and keep going to the gym as I have been all year, I can actually still lose some weight before I go away. I had a kickarse workout and walked home feeling on top of the world once again. Phew!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The shadow of dooooooom

Today I was ambushed by one of the lovely ladies at the gym and made to agree to being weighed and measured on Monday evening. This will be an extremely depressing experience as I am the fattest I've been for two years. I believe that for the rest of this year I may have to re-grow some willpower.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Today, I have...

- Woken up with a quite frankly gorgeous man whose office is so close to my house that I could set the alarm for 8.15 which included ten minutes of waking up time (smug smug smug)

- Marvelled at the very special shapes my hair is able to form after just one night's sleep

- Read one and a half books - ok so they were only part of my great Harry Potter re-read mission but it still counts

- Cried twice (yes, it was over Harry Potter...and yes, it was the same bits that made me cry the first time...but in my defence, he had won the Quidditch cup! This is big stuff here people!)

- Played a bit of Mozart while watching people on the street outside

- Smothered some interestingly sparkly cream on my foot in an attempt to de-mingify it - who knew prescription medicine could be so pretty?!

- Eaten two extremely tasty sandwiches

- Craved Green and Black's Maya Gold but resisted buying any (hurrah!)

- Concluded that while Atonement may be beautifully shot and star the delicious James McAvoy, it's just a tiny bit too literary for my un-cultured mind

- Munched on free pic'n'mix (thanks Mark!)

- Pondered the rubbishness of post-midnight TV

- Calculated just how broke I'm going to be next week and drawn up a shopping list that relies heavily on the words "Tesco Value"

- Worried slightly for my personal safety after hearing about more of the vile things that some men in this world are capable of

- Spontaneously grinned while walking down the street while daydreaming about some of the lovely things that other men in this world are capable of!

More exciting activities to follow tomorrow. I expect the highlights to include the gym, Tesco and Harry Potter 4. Sometimes, in the middle of my busy life, days like this are just bliss.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another week off

I'm taking another of my random weeks of annual leave this week. I try to arrange these every two to three months to give myself some much-deserved lie-ins and to prevent me killing everyone I work with, and as usual this one is going very well. It started with a delicious dinner and a film at MGL's on Saturday night, and that was followed by the afore-mentioned wedding. Sunday was a day of rest (appropriately) before my mum arrived on Monday. We went to Charlecote Park and Stratford and had a jolly touristy time, before moving on to ASK in the evening for three very yummy and highly fattening courses. On Tuesday we drove to Solihull to help me find the school I have to visit in a couple of weeks' time, which was a comedy adventure all round as we tried to work out where to get off the A41 and which end of town we were aiming at. We were successful in the end and celebrated with hot chocolate at M&S and a delicious lunch at the Loch Fyne seafood restaurant in Knowle. I had a whole dish of mussels for my first course and very nice they were too. Mum left in the afternoon and MGL came round for dinner, a film and an epic Uno battle which I sadly lost. I seriously think that an all-night Uno tournament could be an amazing social event!

Today I've been busy doing chores and writing more of my guide to my holiday for parents, friends and general hangers on. It's 11 pages long so far! This evening MGL and I are going to Le Bistrot Pierre for their Dine with Wine evening - I have a two for one voucher so we're going to have three courses and three glasses of wine each for £25 in total. Bargain. Tomorrow is the cinema to see Atonement with Raquel, and then it's the weekend when for once I have nothing planned. I do however have two double dates arranged for the week after and the social whirlwind that is my life shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

A final exciting point to mention - yesterday MGL asked me if I was free on any weekends near to my birthday, because he wants to take me away somewhere! I didn't actually think men like that were real. I really hope I never wake up from this particular dream - I could definitely get used to this!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Huge respect

To my brother, who yesterday completed the Boston Rowing Marathon in a single scull to raise money for Cancer Research. 50k in a boat all on your own apparently results in a very sore arse and extreme tiredness, but with over £300 raised so far it's all worth it. Well done Simon!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


Yesterday a bunch of us headed to Kenilworth for the rather fabulous wedding of Hannah and Anthony. The sun blazed down from a clear blue sky, the location was gorgeous (St Nicholas in Abbey Fields) and the service was just full of love and joy. The bride was beautiful, the groom was dashing and looked so proud and the company was excellent. At the reception we ate copious amounts of rather delicious food, drank wine and toasted all and sundry with champagne. Then we danced to possibly the best jazz band in the world ever (cheques can be made payable to me guys), got very hot and sticky attempting to ceilidh, which at one scary point involved my feet leaving the floor for quite a considerable period of time, and had rambling gin-fuelled conversations on the steps outside. I picked up some ideas to add to my ever-expanding wedding plan, remembered how good I feel about myself when I'm dolled up looking pretty, and marvelled once again at the way her wedding day can make a woman emit that indefinable radiance that enables her to light up a room all on her own. As someone wrote in the guest book, if every day of Hannah and Anthony's life is as wonderful as yesterday then they'll be the happiest couple in the world.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Happy little butterflies

I'd just like to say that I am, at this moment in my life, extremely happy and very excited about the rest of the year and beyond. Long may it continue!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hugely exciting news

My fabulous mum sent me an email this morning that made me shout "Woooooooooo!" and push my chair back across the office while waving my arms in the air (literally). David Tennant, aka World's Most Gorgeous Man, is returning to the RSC next year to play Hamlet, aka My Favourite Shakespeare Character. I can feel a girly night coming on...

Sunday, September 02, 2007


I'm having one of my immensely productive weekend days, when I make a huge list and just run round manically until everything's completed. Usually I do this on a Saturday but I was out all day so today I've staved off the Sunday blues with my many and varied tasks. So far I've booked all my youth hostels for my trip, re-organised the budget, got up, done the laundry, watched the final day of World Athletics, cleaned, been shopping, written cards and wrapped presents. I'm so excited about the hostel bookings as it means everything is now falling into place: I have all my flights booked and I know where I'm staying for each night of my trip, so now I just have a few more things to buy and all my printing to do (I'm developing a quite impressive "Folder of Doom" containing all the information I could possibly need) and then it's the pre-trip arrangements that will take up the rest of my time - making a comprehensive change of address list, organising leaving parties (plural!), arranging to move out of the flat, sorting out things at work etc. I'm also quite excited about the shopping I did today - having opted out of my pension scheme, done some overtime and had a payrise, I've been able to buy everything that has been on my "I really need this and can't afford it list" for the past few months, including some black work shoes for winter that are actually waterproof (previously I only had my knee boots after the demise of my other shoes) and a new bottle of perfume which may not seem essential to any men reading this, but I'm sure all the girls will understand that it's not nice to go for four months without any perfume to wear on a night out. I've also picked up a rather fabulous fascinator to wear to a wedding in a couple of weeks' time - I'm sure it'll come in useful for Henley next year too!

Anyway, talk of weddings brings me to yesterday when I had a fun day out at Hannah's hen party. I met the girls in Stratford where they were very easy to spot in the uniform of bright orange tops that we'd been asked to wear. Hannah had a tasteful pink "Bride to be" sash and purple balloons which clashed very nicely with the whole ensemble! We hired rowing boats and split into three teams for a treasure hunt where all the clues were based around the river - cue comedy rowing and me running across the park to try to find an RSC leaflet and getting in the way of all the tourists taking photos of Shakespeare's monument while I worked out who the four statues round the edge represented. Our team finished first and got almost all the answers right which I think was an excellent effort.

After all that exertion we headed back to Hannah and Ant's flat to collapse in a heap for a couple of hours, eat chocolate and drink rose, and discuss weddings. Brilliantly girly, and although I only knew a couple of people there everyone was lovely and it was really fun to chat. Gradually we started getting ready for the evening before heading out with the world's worst taxi firm to Flamenco in Meriden for tapas and salsa dancing. I left at 10 to catch the bus home (standing on the A45 in the pitch dark waiting for the 900 was an interesting experience!) but it was great fun for the short time I was there and the tapas was absolutely gorgeous - the best I've ever had in this country. I definitely recommend the restaurant, although it's probably best to go there with someone who's driving! Anyway, I made it back home just before midnight and collapsed into bed after a great evening. I can't wait for the wedding now to see how lovely Hannah looks in her dress and to see everyone I met again.

This week looks set to be pretty quiet, with just one evening out at MGL's - he's making fajitas which should be yummy. Then at the weekend my brother's coming over which will be brilliant, and we're all going for dinner which I must remember to book tomorrow. Sunday afternoon sees a visit to Coventry to a colleague's birthday/housewarming party so it should be good fun all round. For now though, I'm going to watch the world rowing and feel virtuous after all the productivity of the day.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Bank Holiday Bliss

I sometimes find that I get bored during bank holiday weekends - for some reason they're often quieter than my average weekend and apart from being a lovely excuse not to think about work for three days, I don't find much to enjoy in them. This weekend, however, is shaping up to be much better than the average.

It all started yesterday at about ten to five (well, that's close enough to the weekend to almost count) when I received a letter from our Director to say that as expected I've been awarded an pay increment for my work this year, which in real terms means a pay rise of £1063 pa effective from this Friday's pay. This will be mighty useful given that we're entering the most expensive third of the year, and kicked things off on a high note. This morning the weekend proper started well too, when my new (pink!) phone was delivered. I hadn't been able to select a delivery time when I ordered it so I was half expecting to be sitting at home all day unable to go out into the sunshine, but it came at 8.45 which was excellent as it meant I could do what I liked with the day. Also in the normal post was my free Ghosts CD which I ordered this week in place of one I ordered ages ago that HMV couldn't get for me - and mighty excellent it is too.

To add to all these happenings, the weather has belatedly remembered that it's August and has put on a display of sunshine and heat that reminded me why I love England. Other countries may have a reliable summer each year, but there's just nothing like this country on a glorious day. I wandered down to the farmers market this afternoon to buy speciality sausages for tomorrow's bbq, and then headed to the library where I borrowed some chick lit and a book about Newton to get my brain going, and sat in the park reading for an hour or so soaking up the sun. I love having such a wonderful park so close to my house - it almost (but not quite) makes up for not having a garden.

My dinner's now in the oven and I'm sipping a cold glass of Sauvignon and watching comedy military bands at the Edinburgh Tattoo on tv (don't ask me why). Tomorrow I'm seeing all my lovely friends at one of Juicy and Stu's excellent bbqs, and then on Monday I'm going to the cinema with MGL. I'm having one of those moments when life is just grand, and it looks like that's going to continue for a while yet. Hurrah.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Loving Ludwig

I just sat and sight-read the Appasionata sonata. Beethoven really has to be my favourite composer to play - huge chords, gorgeous harmonies, beautiful slow movements and exhilarating fast movements. I could sit and play all day if it didn't make my hands and wrists hurt so much! Damn my small span. I love my piano and I love Ludwig!

Monday, August 20, 2007

The big reveal

I feel I must apologise to you, loyal readers, for not being completely honest with you over the past three weeks or so. Something has been going on in my life which, while occupying a lot of my time and thoughts, I haven't wanted to write about. However, this evening I have sat down with the intention of telling you all about me and my new relationship with MGL.

MGL may be better known to many of you as Raquel's Housemate Who Isn't The Scary Hungarian One. We met a few months ago at a random night out and exchanged a few words, and then got chatting properly at Bar 44 last month when everyone went for cocktails and I got enormously drunk. He walked me home and we giggled about Bourbon biscuits (for some reason these had great significance at the time - something to do with them sounding a bit like my surname...) and the next day in my immensely hungover state I added him to Facebook (ah, romance in the digital age) and sent him an extremely garbled message. About a week later he asked if I wanted to go for a drink, and off we toddled to spend a very nice Sunday evening discovering that we still had things to talk about when sober and finding out all the things we had in common. He walked me home again, we lingered on the doorstep and, well, you know the end of that story.

Over the following few weeks we've been to the cinema, had a really delicious and very expensive meal at Rhubarb (for which I paid absolutely nothing), and cooked dinner for each other. The latest event was on Saturday when I made a kickass lasagne and a quite frankly excellent chocolate pudding, and we sprawled on the sofa watching films and drinking wine. It was something that I've really missed doing, and was followed by something else that I've rather missed - let's just say that the date ended after lunch on Sunday at about 3pm...

So there you are, right up to date, and I'm sure that more tales of MGL and me will follow. I don't know if there's any future in this and I don't know where I want it to go, but I do know that I'm having loads of fun right now and it's brilliant to finally have someone to dress up for, go out with and look forward to seeing. I've really missed it, and I'm going to make the most of my lucky break for as long as I can.

Oh, and why MGL? Well, those of you with longer memories may recall this blog's fine tradition of assigning nicknames to all my disastrous dates. Evil Wanker Car Man is a particularly fine example and the name is still used to evoke all that's bad about dating today (or it should be anyway). I felt, therefore, that I should continue with this tradition for my less disastrous romantic encounters, and have named my current bloke to reflect one of his best qualities that can be very hard to find. Mr Genuinely Lovely listens to what I say AND remembers it, puts his arms round me when I'm falling asleep and refuses to let me pay for dinner. Worth hanging on to, at least for now? I certainly think so.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I have just spent 11 hours at work. My eyes hurt. My ear is hot. My cough is developing into a fullblown cold complete with nose trauma. I feel sick from eating too much buffet. I had to wait half an hour for a bus home.

Damn good day though. Woo for Confirmation!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Punting, Poserbility and Picnics

This weekend Juicy and I drove across to Ely to visit Jo and Mike in their lovely new house. We had glorious weather all weekend and I had a really fab time. On Friday night we had a delicious dinner including a most excellent homemade lemon meringue pie, polished off a couple of bottles of wine and some creme caramel Baileys, and played a very silly and entertaining game called Poserbility. It's a bit like statue Pictionary, with each person picking a card with a pose on it, and then modelling someone from the other team into that pose for the rest of their team to guess. The complication comes when you have to do it blindfolded... Much chaos ensued and many giggles were had by all, with the comedy highlight being Mike's comment on me trying to get Juicy to lie on the floor whilst I was blindfolded and unable to speak to her - "It's like a very slow rape". Jo and I won and a very jolly time was had.

The next morning was boiling hot and gorgeous, so after sitting in the garden for a while we headed to Cambridge and went punting down the Backs. We had an excellent student punter/guide who told us lots of interesting information and did a brilliant job steering us between all the punts being piloted by foreign tourists who were absolutely incapable of going in a straight line and tended to end up horizontally across the river. I took masses of pictures and dreamed about college life and wearing gowns to dinner. After that we pottered across town and had a drink and some food in a lovely bar and kitchen place that sold fantastic Pimm's cocktails with added gin and apricot brandy! They looked great and tasted gorgeous, as did the sharing platters which we demolished very successfully. A walk in the sun and an icecream completed our trip out, and we returned home for a BBQ in the garden and another slice of lemon meringue, before collapsing in front of the tv with bloated stomachs and the obligatory Blue Lagoons.

This morning we had another late start and then drove into Ely to buy picnic food which we ate on the river bank. I discovered that Honey Barbeque Kettlechips are very yummy indeed, and then proceeded to eat far to many mini doughnuts, including the last one which I won triumphantly in a game of Uno. After a few more games we headed back and then Juicy and I waved goodbye and drove home. All in all a fantastic weekend with excellent hosts (thanks you two!) and some really glorious sunshine.

This week I'm going to be far too busy, but in a good way. On Tuesday my mum's bringing Grannie to visit me - she'll be seeing my flat for the first time and also seeing the piano that I bought with Grandpa's money. Then on Wednesday I'm out (more on this subject to follow at some point I think) and then Thursday is A level results day, so I'm spending 12 hours in the office answering the phone and eating free buffet. Saturday morning brings the Clearing open day, before I rush home at 1pm to cook lasagne for the evening, of which more in the afore-mentioned post that I'm planning to write at some point soon. I think the theme of far too much food being consumed looks like continuing, and there won't be enough free evenings for the gym, but I'll be having a good time and I guess it's either get thin or have fun so I'm going to settle for the latter. It would be nice to stop feeling bloated at some point though! Hopefully being good tomorrow will restore me to full health - and it's bed on time tonight too in preparation for those reams of results that will come flying off our printer tomorrow.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Those of you who commute on public transport will know all about the vacant head space that you slip into the moment you settle into your seat. It's impossible to think about anything relevant to your day - you either have a complete gap in your mind or you drift off on a completely random tack. Recently, my bus thoughts have turned to all the lovely things I would like to have one day far in the future when I am earning enough to be able to afford them.

I will have a detached house, tastefully decorated, with a modern sparkling kitchen and a clean, white bathroom with green frosted glass. In the bedroom will be an 8-ft square bed and a huge closet containing my stylish and colour co-ordinated wardrobe. I will be able to play my music as loudly as I like. There will be a garden with a lawn and a small patio area for eating outside in the summer. I will have a wooden recliner that flattens completely for sunbathing, but also enables me to sit up and read.

In my garage there will be a small and funky car which will take me to work and to visit friends at the weekends.

My job will be something that involves wearing expensive, tailored clothing and gorgeous smart shoes of which I will own at least twenty pairs including one in teal suede and one in burgundy. Many of these will have killer heels as I will no longer need to walk across town every day from the bus stop.

I will have a ginger cat named Gustav.

I will host fantastic dinner parties at which I produce delicious food without getting stressed. My friends will be able to stay over as much as they want as I will have several bedrooms to offer them (yes folks, one day it won't be just the airbed and the sofa!)

I will take at least two holidays each year. One of these will take place in the summer and will involve exploring a far away country and seeing the sights that it has to offer. The other will happen in the coldest, rainiest part of the year when I will drive to a cottage somewhere in England. By day I will wrap up warm and visit local towns or go for long walks, and in the evenings I will shut myself indoors, bake huge dishes of comfort food and watch films with a bottle of wine. I would love to take a further holiday with my friends as well, if they'll have me!

This is as far as my thoughts have led me this week. However, while writing this I have realised that many aspects of my dream are things that I already possess. I will still have a great social life and see my many friends often. I will continue to have cosy days in with a book, the tv and my piano. I will still enjoy giggling at stupid things and getting tipsy on wine and cocktails. I will continue to watch terrible tv and when I'm playing my loud music I will still be walking round conducting madly while grinning/crying/full-on sobbing in the good bits. And my family will still be the most important thing in the world.

I like this dream. I also note that, totally spontaneously, I have conjured a world that doesn't involve a special someone sharing my home. Yes, it would be very nice indeed - but it doesn't seem essential any more, and in fact hasn't done for some time. What a happy thought.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


I was going to try and think of a suitably witty title for this post, but I'm afraid what I've chosen is a pretty accurate expression of my feelings right now so you're going to have to settle for that.

So why the excitement?

The last time I went shopping to buy clothes that I really wanted and didn't need was back in December, before I started saving up all my pennies for my holiday. Since then I've bought socks, gym clothes, shampoo etc, but I haven't been on a single big shopping spree with the aim of trying on clothes and bringing lovely things home. Brilliantly, however, some of my saved money is assigned to buying clothes for a basic capsule travelling wardrobe, and since the sun came out today for the first time in about a month I declared it Holiday Shopping Day and set out for the town centre armed with my strawberry patterned credit card and the extreme desire to spend. And ladies, it was a goooooood trip.

The prize for the best shop of the day has to go without question to Next. Here I managed to find the holy grail of clothing: the perfect pair of jeans. I needed jeans for when I get down to south New Zealand and it gets a bit nippy, and I also wanted them for occasional nights out, plane journeys etc. They therefore had to be both smart and comfy, affordable, well fitting and suitable for a girl with, shall we say, thighs that are on the larger side. Now our branch of Next is probably the smallest in the country, with hardly any stock compared to the lovely big Bullring one, but occasionally it throws up a gem. I found a pair in dark denim (my favourite), which sit on the waist and not the hips and are stretchy and comfy but tailored and smart. Not only did they have them in my size, but, miraculously, they had them in long. I would have bought them regardless of the price. However, just to put the cherry on the icing on the cake, they were half price. A mere £15 has bought me the perfect jeans.

Following this I headed to M&S where I picked up three cheap plain tshirts to complete my collection of tops, and also found some nice white cut-offs in a linen mix. I then explored the Monsoon sale and bought some gorgeous red cut-offs which were half price and therefore cost what I'd expect to pay in a normal shop. My final stop was Faith, where I was idly browsing for sandals, more in hope than expectation, and came across a gorgeous black and white polkadot pair that were (you guessed it) half price and in my size. This was truly a golden day for shopping, for lurking just behind them was an identical pair in pink and white, also half price, also in my size. Two pairs of beautiful shoes for £20 when they should have been £20 each completed my haul of goodies.

I've only bought things I need and I've managed to avoid trying on countless non-essential or expensive items, yet I've come home with some fabulous new clothes at bargain prices. It turns out that guilt free shopping is possible! Fantastic.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Water, water everywhere

The theme of this week is definitely flooding. After the travel issues at the weekend, on Monday I decided I was going to have to clean my clothes despite the broken nature of my washing machine as I was about to run out of stuff to wear to the gym and the plumber hadn't bothered to get back to me. The resulting further flood and a resumption of the dripping through the ceiling of the flat below has finally led to someone taking this seriously, and yet another replacement washing machine will be arriving this week! Let's hope it's actually new this time and that it will remain functional until I move out. Surely six months of non-leakage shouldn't be too much to hope for...

In other news, there was a man on the bus on Monday evening who had a swastika tattooed on his head and a Union Jack tattooed on his neck. He was eating a kebab from out of a plastic bag. It was definitely the most disturbing thing I've seen on the bus for a while. More pleasantly, I went to see Harry Potter last night with Raquel, Mark and co and really enjoyed it even though they'd cut lots of the book out. It was so nice to escape into another world for a couple of hours: I should definitely make the effort and find the money to do it more often.

My parents have gone on holiday today. In Austria it's warm and sunny. I wish I was going with them to a country that is actually having summer this year. The tropics of the Northern Territory can't come round quickly enough!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

All were safely gathered in

Well, we all eventually made it. Simon's heroic replacement bus service driver battled through roads that were officially closed to bring him to Worcester where mum picked him up, while dad drove 325 miles instead of 100 and went round the bottom of the floods and back up the re-opened M5. We couldn't go to the restaurant but we had our night in on Saturday instead of Sunday, which was mum's actual birthday, and it was lovely to finally have everyone safely home. During the morning I had been operating command HQ from the computer, with a road map on my knees, the BBC website and the Herefordshire County Council website open and the phone at hand relaying messages between various travelling parties, and when I knew that everyone had found a way through it was a brilliant moment. I played some C major Corelli very vigorously and was most joyful.

The other major event this weekend was the reading of the final Harry Potter. I started it on Saturday night and finished it today, and all in all I think it took me roughly 8 hours. And it was awesome. Please let me know when you've read it as I need someone to discuss it with! I cried, I laughed and I was thoroughly gripped. Definitely a fantastic end to the series.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

It's the end of the world as we know it

An interesting weekend, this. Our original plan was for me, Simon and dad to converge on Bewdley yesterday afternoon/evening, where mum would have produced a bountiful birthday feast. There would be food, wine and presents, and a good time would be had by all. Today we were going to see Harry Potter at the cinema, and then for dinner by the river in Worcester.

Here is a summary of what has actually happened so far.

Me: Left work at 5, arrived at Coventry station at 5.15. Bought ticket. Discovered that trains were not going to feature heavily in my life. Was put in a taxi by a nice man from Virgin Trains and dispatched to New Street with four other people. Arrived at New Street at 6.30. Walked to Moor Street. Given directions to nearest stop for number 9 bus. Got on bus to Stourbridge at 6.45. Arrived at Stourbridge at 7.45. Taxi to Bewdley. Mum paid taxi £25. And I was the lucky one.

Simon: Left Reading on the only train going north after an electrical storm had cut the power to the train lines. Arrived in Oxford. Boarded a replacement bus service to Moreton in Marsh (about an hour from our house) where mum was going to meet him. Moreton cut off from all forms of civilisation. Spent the night in the town hall drinking Fosters with other stranded young men. Phoned the house at 6am today to say he thought the roads were clearing now. Boarded a bus to Worcester Shrub Hill station. Still on the bus.

Mum: Turned back from her mission to get Simon after meeting closed roads and floods at every turn. Managed to drive the new car back to Bewdley through several foot-deep puddles. Cooked birthday dinner for two and we consumed a bottle of pink champagne. Set off to get Simon at 6.30 this morning; now at a friend's house in Worcester having met more closed roads when trying to go further than this, waiting to see if Simon ever gets to Shrub Hill.

Dad: Left Swansea and managed to get to Hereford before wisely concluding that he could go no further. Stayed in a hotel overnight. Conducted research by phoning me and asking me to look up roads on the net. Currently heading for Abergavenny in an attempt to get to the recently re-opened M5. No currently available way of crossing directly from Herefordshire to Worcestershire.

Cinema and restaurant: Under several feet of water.

British weather: Total and utter pants.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Grasshopper + mojito + cosmopolitan + dreamsicle + blue lagoon + 5.5 hours sleep = me sat at my desk extremely bleary eyed, craving a sausage and onion baguette and wishing I worked in a bed factory that was closed for the day. Also, I just sent someone a Facebook message that consisted solely of the word "hell" due to computer issues and generally stupidity. I used to be able to drink any amount of random cocktails and not get particularly drunk or hungover. Apparently this is no longer the case. Arse.

Cracking night out though!

Monday, July 16, 2007

In love

So the heavy lifting brigade are coming on Thursday (thanks Dave!) and in the meantime, I had a flash of inspiration. The piano was firmly positioned on the chest of drawers, and could be plugged in. The wire to the speakers wouldn't reach, but I have headphones, so the only thing I was really missing was the pedals. But who needs pedals to play Bach and Mozart? I've been sitting in my bay window in the sunshine for the last couple of hours, revelling in the beautiful sound of my gorgeous new instrument and grinning with joy at being able to make music again. The piano makes an absolutely fantastic sound, and I can't wait to hear it with speakers and pedals and to see it all finally put together. It may have cost a lot of money, but it was worth every penny. I'm officially in love.

Help required in the heavy lifting department

Ladies and gentlemen, this morning I have built a piano stand. It is a fine piano stand and well constructed. I even went out and bought some screwdrivers for the purpose. However, I have now come to step three on the "how to build a full-sized piano" instructions, and this step involves lifting section A (the actual top of the piano, keyboard etc) above the stand and placing it carefully onto the slots that hold it in place before then screwing it firmly on. Unfortunately, section A is roughly as heavy as ten fully grown elephants and just as awkwardly shaped. Using the principle of leverage I've managed to get it on top of my chest of drawers which are about level in height with the stand, but lifting it up and into position is sadly beyond me. This is most definitely a two person job. So...if anyone out there fancies popping round today to undertake some heavy lifting for me, I shall reward you well in beer, curry, gin or whatever else takes your fancy. Any offers?!

Self assembly pianos. Most definitely not recommended.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I thought I could hear the curious tone...of a bunch of musicians in Jephson Gardens

Today I earned a very welcome £10 by playing for a wind band in Jephson Gardens. Lu, Ed, Tebay, Dave and I depped for a couple of hours and it was actually really good fun, especially as I was the first oboe player they'd ever had! There were a couple of solo moments that took me slightly by surprise but it was pretty easy stuff, and we had an impressive set of cheese including Amarillo, Abba Gold and the Ronan classic If Tomorrow Never Comes. One of the highlights was definitely playing The Floral Dance for the first time ever - I was disproportionately excited when he announced it. Our tuning was interesting, our ensemble was in parts non-existent and our tempi were consistently slow, but the audience loved it and we had a lot of fun.

Also in the news today: a small flood on my kitchen floor as water started running out of the bottom of my washing machine door. Looks like I'm going to need yet another replacement. Maybe this time he'll actually bother to buy a brand new one. Or maybe not.

This Thursday I'm going to spend my tenner on cocktails at Bar 44: I haven't been for ages and I'm really looking forward to an evening out with the girls. Then on Saturday it's mum's birthday so it's home on Friday night for a meal in: even Simon will be there which is brilliant! On Saturday we're going to see Harry Potter and then having dinner out, and I'm also earning a little bit more money playing for a wedding so all is good. The next excitement though is tomorrow when my piano is (supposedly) finally arriving! Barring any more incompetence from the delivery company (for a global logistics firm they seem to find delivering things on time quite difficult) I shall have a brilliant day of playing my favourite pieces and exploring my new instrument. For now though, I'm going to curl up and enjoy being cosy at home when it's manky and wet outside.

Monday, July 09, 2007


I just passed my driving test! With only 3 minor faults! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Forgive me if I can't take Live Earth entirely seriously...

The Black Eyed Peas were on the bill at today's Live Earth concert in London. Coincidentally, my copy of Cosmo arrived through my door this morning, and it contained an interview with Fergie.

"What do you enjoy about fame?"
"Flying on a private jet, as I don't have to go through security or wait at a regular airport. I love it - I'm not going to lie."

It's all about taking those little actions that will really make a difference...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Society girl

So, I'm back from my holiday of super-Englishness, and I'm already looking forward to doing this again every year that I possibly can. The only downer was the weather - everything else about the week was absolutely glorious. I could definitely get hooked on this!

At Wimbledon on Tuesday I managed to get the worst comedy sunburn yet in the morning - a huge patch on my right knee, my T-zone and my neckline complete with pale oval where my necklace was. This was followed by a torrential thunderstorm in the afternoon which scuppered all further play for the rest of the day. Bizarre! Celebrities spotted on the day: Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Ann Jones, Mr and Mrs Henman senior, Alex Bogdanovich (well, people in tennis know who he is!), Alan Mills (ditto) and, brilliantly, Cliff Richard who waved to us all from the members' balcony. Shivers up the spine to be walking round the hallowed ground: many. One day I will come back and sit on Centre Court in the glorious sunshine. I fell in love as soon as I walked through the gates and I will be back time and again.

Much the same can be said of Henley which is like an enormous society wedding with boats instead of brides. The rain was much more bearable on a couple of glasses of Pimm's, and we only had a few showers and no thunder. In future my aim will be to get hold of some Stewards' Enclosure badges, but for this year sitting on the bank was great fun and gave us a good taste of the atmosphere. Brilliantly, Simon won his first race which was so exciting - it would have been Easily if they hadn't been gentlemanly and slackened off in the great tradition, but in the end it was four lengths which is a good margin. Unfortunately they lost in the second round to the University of California who are unbeaten all season in America, but it was still a very respectable run. In the sunshine in future years I think it will be an amazing day out.

If anyone manages to get time off in future first weeks of July, I urge you to consider either of these fantastic days out. Henley especially is free to get into as long as you don't want to go into an enclosure, and offers many opportunities to dress up, get merry and have a great time even if you don't know anything about rowing. I do have to say though that my heart still belongs to Wimbledon. I shall be back as many years as I can to soak up the atmosphere and the beauty of the place. And one day I'll do it with strawberries and cream instead of warming pasties!

Tomorrow's plan is to have a lie-in and eat virtually nothing. I think my gorgeous fish and chips in a fab Oxfordshire pub this evening has just about finished me off! This has been a fattening but very happy few days. Bring on next year!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

We're all going on a...

Ladies and gentlemen, I am on holiday. To celebrate this, I have consumed couirtesy of the lovely Juicy:
- One blue lagoon a la Jo (Archers, vodka, lemonade)
- One blue lagoon a la Juicy's book (Archers, vodka, Malibu, pineappel juice)
- One uber shot of cherry syrup, Malibu, vodka and tequila
- One pina colada (vodka, Malibu, pineapple juice, cream)
- One fabulous mint creation (Mozart balls, creme de menthe, icecream, vodka)
- One "officially better than sex (tm me a year ago)" choc orange creation (icecream, cointreau, vodka, chocolate crackling sauce, orange juice)
- One tequila sunrise (tequila, organe, grenadine)
- One tequila slammer (tequla, salt, lime)
Surprisingly, I'm not geeling too bad.

So, my holiday. Let me first begin by telling you what I'm not doing this week. I'm not panicking about the imminent arrival on campus of 400 17 year olds plus teachers. I'm not worrying about staying overnight in halls and potentially taking kids to hospital at midnight and making sure that a ball complete with drinks reception, entertainment, dinner and dancing goes smoothly. I am however thanking my lucky stars that I booked annual leave this week, 8 months before the VC said, "I think your office should run an extremely large summer school in 4 months' time when you usually have a year to organise one for 25 kids". Absolute and total genius.

Instead of the stress and sleep dperivation, I shall instead be indulging in the following.
Saturday. Driving lesson. Drive to darkest Gloucestershire. Go to see The Feeling in the pouring rain. Squelch about in the mud singing loudly.
Sunday. Cchurch with Juicy. Carvery. Train (well, 4 trains, some of which are replacemacemnt buses) to Kiddy. Home to the bosom of my family (well, my mum, who to be fair has a lot of bosom to go round).
Monday. Sleep. Watch tennis on tv. Drive to Reading.
Tuesday. Get up early. Queue. Go to Wimbledon! Have brilliantly English day of tennis, strawberries and Pimm's.
Wednesday. Go to Henley Royal Regatta. Have brilliantly ENglish day of rowing, strawberries and Pimm's. Shout "Come on Reading" as brother rockets down river in university eight. Wear hemline below knee in case of Stewards Enclosure passes.
Thursday. Go to Henley if Simon won, otherwsie drive to Swansea to see Dad. Beaches. Dinner.
Friday. Go to Henley if Simon won again OR drive home if he lost OR have day in Swansea and drive back to Bewdley with Dad after he finishes work.
Saturday. Somehow get to Leam from wherever I've ended up. Driving lesson. Ladies final on tv.
Sunday. Detox. Men's final on tv.
Monday. One of the scariest days of my life so far. At 1pm, either crack open something sparkling that goes pop, or mourn my stupidity and shed a few tears. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that I can remember how to reverse park.
Tuesday. Back to work. Remain positive fpr about half an hour. Begin to remember why I need to leave my job at about 9am. Return to normality.

This is promising to be one of the best weeks of the year. Please keep your fingers crossed for dry weather!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Ah, Wimbledon

It's been 13 years and I'm still shouting "Come on Tim". I'm no longer under any illusions that he might win it, or even in fact get through the first round, but he does still occasionally produce the goods on the odd magical point and you can't deny that his matches are always entertaining. My job may be rubbish and my diet may be shot to pieces, but a day with Wimbledon in it can't be all bad. And a week tomorrow I'll be there! I can't wait.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Concert tomorrow

This is a quick plug for the University of Warwick Symphony Orchestra and Chorus concert which takes place tomorrow (Sunday) at 3.30 at Warwick Arts Centre. We're singing the Berlioz Te Deum which is absolutely gorgeous and has some amazing moments. The orchestra is also playing Rachmaninov's 2nd Symphony which again is beautiful. It should be a cracking concert and at £6 is an absolute bargain! Let's hope to see a big audience there.

This has been an excellent week for me, as I finished work on Wednesday and headed off to Birmingham to meet mum for dinner and to see Ex Cathedra singing the Monteverdi Vespers. My navigation through Birmingham somehow got us home again and after blowing up the airbed we finally got to sleep at 1am! On Thursday we headed out for an expedition to Packwood House, Baddesley Clinton and some gorgeous fish at the Loch Fyne restaurant in Knowle. We avoided all A roads throughout the day and drove cross-country through lots of beautiful villages filled with very expensive houses. My afternoon cream tea meant that I didn't need any dinner so we headed straight to campus where I went to rehearsal.

Yesterday was hiding from the rain day, and I finally caught up on last week's Doctor Who which was amazing! I can't wait for tonight's episode. Today has been driving, shopping, cleaning etc and this evening the plan is to finish the half bottle of wine in my fridge and drool over David Tennant while eating sausages. Then tomorrow it's our concert and a trip to ASK with mum for some yummy dinner. Work this week will be crazy, stressful and tiring but all I'll be focusing on is the week after when it's The Feeling on Saturday, Juicy's mum's bountifulness on Sunday, Wimbledon on Tuesday and Henley on Wednesday! I can't wait. Everyone start doing your sunshine dances now.

Incidentally, I read in the paper the other day that the War of 36B appears to be over. Apparently the spider hasn't been sited since the final attack from the broom and the possible squishing. It all sounds mighty scary: rather Miss B than me...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bloodshed and terror on the battleground of the flatlands

by Our Special Correspondent

In a dramatic resumption of hostilities, the early hours of this morning saw the most bloody episode of the war so far in the bathroom of the flatlands. Rising early, the defending forces moved with confidence towards the warzone, only to observe the enemy lurking in the tiny gap under the pipe that was the only part of the border that remained unsealed. His confidence shaken but his ambitions undented, the invading force retreated after a powerful stamp on the floor from the intrepid Miss B, only to return some few seconds later to his attacking position. Another stamp sent him once more behind Asian Cooking, at which point our flatland army realised that only the most drastic action could end this latest episode in the ongoing war of attrition. Only the most deadly weapon could now vanquish the arachnid foe.

Taking up her trusty broom, Miss B seized the brush end and commenced her decisive assault. Poking with force at the lowest book in the pile, she managed eventually to push it fully under the pipe in an attack that must surely have permanently ended the ambitions of the enemy, if he had not moved quickly enough back to his lair. Had he been caught between the unyielding hardback spine and the wall, there was surely no possibility of survival.

It seems that victory has gone to the flatlanders in this latest and possibly final battle in the War of 36B. But, as we have seen, the enemy can retaliate in the most unexpected of ways. Will he return once again to launch another attack upon the noble Miss B? Or will his assault have been finally and terminally ended in this morning's bloodiest of battles? On this question, as indeed on the outcome of this entire war of attrition, only time will tell.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Man v Monster: the War of 36B

by our Special Correspondent

The first shots were fired yesterday in the latest conflict to hit the leafy streets of Leamington Spa. A hostile state made an incursion without warning into the territory of the peace-loving peoples of flat 36B, leading to a rapidly spiraling war of attrition that looks set to run for many days to come.

The enemy made his move late on Sunday evening, while the flatlanders watched television, leaving their borders unguarded. Emerging from his lair underneath the bath, using the entrance way under the pipe, he moved several inches into the bathroom of the flat and declared his intentions by positioning himself in full view between the laundry basket and the border lands. His aim – no less than total domination of the bathroom area with the subsequent ceasing of all ablution activities.

At 10pm, when the inhabitants headed unaware to the battleground, the incursion was discovered. After an initial rapid retreat to regroup [and panic slightly - Ed] a strategy was formulated and the heroic Miss B returned to the scene armed with a formidable arsenal of weapons of arachnid destruction: a pair of standard issue battle trainers and a large hardback copy of The Italian Kitchen. The fight-back had begun.

Poking aside the laundry basket with the toe of her shoe, the flatlander moved ever closer to the hostile force. Uttering her warcry, “Ohmygodit’stoodisgustingican’tlookatitgetoutofmybathroomyoubugger”, she placed the book vertically on the floor and moved in for the kill. This was, as all bystanders observed, a serious tactical error. The flatdweller’s natural reluctance to get close enough to the beast to stamp meant that she moved too slowly, and the attacking army retreated with speed back behind its own lines.

Safely in her own bed after the first skirmish, Miss B began to reflect on the long-term implications of the rapidly developing War of 36B. “During the initial fight, I was totally focused on tackling the immediate threat”, she told me later. “However, after I’d had time to think, I began to understand that the enemy had to be driven back using the most severe methods possible. Allowing him to remain unchallenged in his own lands, with the ability to cross the border at any time, would result in several floor-based battles per day, escalating to incidents in the shower and the very real possibility of a move into the laundry basket. I just couldn’t allow that to happen.”

Arising early the next morning, the flatlander was prepared. Moving into the battle zone, she quickly observed that the intruder had launched a second offensive and had taken up position in his customary attack zone. Once again she donned her fatigues and advanced with the book; yet this time the beast retreated before the retaliation could take place. This time, Miss B seized her chance. Stacking the book in front of the border hole, she added Asian Cooking and Best Ever Chicken to her deadly arsenal, and employed her secret weapon: border control.

With his access sealed off, the enemy seems thus far to be losing this war of attrition. Fifteen hours on, he has yet to force his way through to the flatlands. The hope, Miss B told me, is that he will be starved to death in his sealed-off lair and will never return.

Peace has returned to the flatlands. No-one can tell how long it will last. But two things are certain. One is that there will be no coq au vin or Thai green curry cooked in 36B for some time to come [so no change there then - Ed]. And the other is that when the flatlanders make their planned permanent withdrawal in seven months’ time, Miss B’s mother will be cleaning all the dark corners.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The value of friendship

I may be drunk. I may in fact be very, very drunk. But I can tell you one thing. I LOVE my friends and they are brilliant. Fact.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Boo to the buses

Last night, Chorus ended at 9.30. I got to the bus stop at 9.35. The bus was supposed to come at 9.40. At 10.25, it finally arrived. The queue was large, the rain was heavy, my foot was soaked (damn those holey shoes!) and I was really quite tired. Only an hour late to bed thanks to the ineptness of Stagecoach...

If I fall asleep today, will someone mentally prod me please?!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Having a life

On most days of the week I make a real effort to eat healthily, exercise and avoid alcohol. Occasionally, however, I feel the need to have a life. This evening, therefore, I have drunk an entire bottle of rather nice dry Californian white while watching the frankly gorgeous Lee Meade prancing around in a tight tshirt, winning Any Dream Will Do. It was a most fantastic way to spend Saturday night. Sometimes I have to remember that you only live once, and that one night on the wine won't kill you and will make you happy after a week in a boring job that takes up far too much valuable time. Wine, Dr Who and Joseph equals happy (and slightly sloshed) Sarah.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Un-tying the knot

For most of my life before my 23rd summer, I believed that I would get married at the age of 24. I vividly remember lying in the bath when I was about 11 years old, calculating that I would probably meet my husband at university, graduate aged 21, then spend a few years working and settling down, therefore 24 would be a logical age to get married. The innocence of young minds, of course, is rarely realistic, but as it turned out I did meet someone at university and up until the summer of 2005, I thought that this was the person I would marry. It seemed that 24 was in fact the ideal age to get married, and that my childish predictions would turn out for once to be bang on target.

A few days ago, a quite startling thought suddenly hit me right between the eyes. It's June. I'm 24. I always thought that I would get married in June due to the (supposedly) great weather at this time of year. Therefore, in the dream world of my former life, I would have quite likely have been getting married tomorrow, and if not tomorrow then in eight or 15 days' time. The thought absolutely knocked me sideways. I could be getting married tomorrow. The dream that I thought would come true for so many years means that I could be getting married. Tomorrow. Floating down the aisle, in a big white dress, drinking champagne - the works. Tomorrow.

So, do I wish that I was sliding into that perfect gown in twelve hours' time? Do I wish that I was about to embark on a life with someone instead of planning for the Antipodes, dreaming about what might follow and generally not having a clue where I'm going to end up or what's going to happen in my life? Do I secretly wish that my childhood dream was actually coming true?

Like hell I do. It may not have been my choice and it may not have been my plan, but getting married tomorrow would have been the biggest mistake I ever made. Give me the excitement, the uncertainty and the Any Dream Will Do final any day. I'm not getting married tomorrow - and it feels...fantastic.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Today, I got my first shot of the year of the intoxicating drug that we call sunshine. Yes, there have been sunny days this year and yes it's been warm, but this was the first day that it was both truly summer-warm without even the slightest chance of needing a cardi or jacket, and beautifully sunny with a bright blue sky. I woke at 7am, not by choice but because my body wanted me to enjoy the day, and after spending three hours completing my project work I got up, made a prawn salad, packed my lunch and new book into a bag and headed out to Jephson Gardens where I sat on a rug for an hour and a half enjoying a good girly read and some rather yummy food. The weather was just gorgeous and I felt so happy and peaceful.

After lunch I wandered round town for a while, enjoying the fact that I didn't have anywhere in particular to go and could just amble about and enjoy the heat of the day. I'm having one of those days that happen every now and then, when you look really good and feel really confident (I have no independent verification of the looking good but I think I do so you'll just have to take my word for it!) and I wanted to be outside so my general fabness wasn't wasted on my tv and walls. I'm wearing pink and white, my favourite summer colours, and everything co-ordinates down to my earrings, shoes and handbag. I'm also having a really good hair day: smooth and straight but with volume. Anyway, I took my gorgeous self into a variety of shops, admiring expensive dresses in Monsoon, lusting after gorgeous white tops and teal shoes in M&S and dragging myself away from amazing earrings in Accessorize, and managed not to spend any money at all apart from some that was already allocated within my travelling budget for a summer hat which I bought from Accessorize. It's white broderie anglaise, with a funky peak and three little beads for decoration, and it's generally gorgeous and matches exactly with what I'm wearing today. Here's a picture:

They even gave me a pink and white bag to carry it in!

Anyway, my first shot of sunshine has brought with it all the usual feelings of happiness, postivitity and general looking forward to the future. Now if only we could work outside during the week, life would be pretty much perfect!

Saturday, June 02, 2007


This morning, my horrible downstairs neighbours called round to say that water was coming through their ceiling. As it happens, my washing machine was running at the time, so putting two and two together I switched it off and called my landlord who sent a large Australian plumber round to investigate. It turns out that I need a brand new machine as it's far too old to bother fixing, so a rather stressful situation has had a beneficial ending. Also, in an absolutely sweet moment of poetic justice, the item that was directly underneath the drip was...their stereo. It's only a tiny little piece of unintentional revenge for the endless 4am rude awakenings, but it feels good all the same. Even better though has been watching them load up cars and vans for the past few hours, and knowing that after today I never have to see those selfish, rude and generally objectionable people again. Never have I disliked anyone more, and I can't believe that I get to enjoy the remaining 8 months in this flat without having to get stressed about them every weekend. Today, after starting in somewhat dramatic fashion, is a very good day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


It's payday tomorrow and our payslips came round today. HR in their infinite ineptness have given me an hour more overtime than I actually worked last month (woowoo!) and my 12 extra hours mean that for the first time this year, I can actually withdraw the amount of money that I'd ideally like each week. Yaaaaay! June is going to be a goooood month.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Life just sucks sometimes

This evening, as I walked home from the gym, I tripped on the edge of one of the many (many many) uneven paving slabs that cover the pavements of our beautiful but rather unsafe town. After a few steps of lurching forward attempting to stay upright, the inevitable happened and I sprawled across the floor in a highly undiginified and embarrassing fashion. I've only scraped my hands and knees and didn't cause any bleeding or bruising, so I'm outwardly fine, but in the few minutes after it happened I felt the lump form in my throat and the tears pricking my eyes, and I knew that however happy and independent I may be, what I needed most in the world at that moment was someone to wrap their arms around me and make the world melt away. I was reminded, quite painfully, that there's no feeling like being hugged tightly by someone who really loves you. Life just sucks sometimes.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


I just randomly clicked through to my profile (to remind myself of what it said!) and found that it's been viewed a quite staggering 800 times. This worries me a lot. Who are all those people? When I'm jotting down my random drivel I often forget that people are actually going to read it - I tend to write with an audience of about ten in mind, and sometimes it's just for me as a way of recording events so that I can look back on them in the future and remember what my life was like. I've started wondering just who's out there, following the little mundanities of my life! Anyway, you are all of course very welcome, and quite frankly if you're making it through everything without falling asleep then well done to you - and feel free to comment if you like!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

On the telly again

Yes folks, the lovely Juicy and I are on Songs of Praise again this Sunday (27th May) at 5.10pm. The programme was recorded at Coventry Cathedral on Easter Monday, and we also recorded a further programme for September at the same time so you haven't seen the last of us yet! This recording was in some ways more interesting than the Stratford one, as we saw Diane Louise Jordan doing her pieces to camera (she looked very pretty with amazingly high heels) and we also saw the interview they did with Graham Kendrick although sadly we couldn't hear it as they were having some issues with the speakers. Anyway, look out for us tomorrow night: we were near the front on the right-hand side as you look from the front to the back of the church. I was pretending to be a soprano so listen out for some very squeaky top Fs in one of the descants! I'm definitely not designed to sing up there which is unfortunate as Berlioz appeared to think I am and has given me many Es and Fs and indeed F#s and Gs to sing in the Te Deum. But that's another story.

This weekend has been highly productive so far. I've had a driving lesson, been to the gym, been to Tesco, cleaned and done the laundry. I'm now listening to Sibelius through my lovely headphones and will have to stop typing soon so I can conduct the ending and cry a little bit, and then later I'm going to drink wine with the lovely Raquel and watch people who "could be Joseph" try to impress The Lord himself (daaaaaaa, da da da da daaaaaa) on telly. Hopefully tomorrow will also be just as productive if I can actually motivate myself to write this project plan. I seem to have lots of motivation in general at the moment so it should be ok.

Right, I'm going to conduct! Make sure you watch BBC1 at 5.10 tomorrow.

Friday, May 18, 2007

If Carlsberg made news...


This is quite possibly one of the best things I've ever heard. No more drunk people and loud music at 4am, because as of 11th June the flat is officially to let. Sometimes good things do happen to good people.

In other news, I really do have quite fantastic eye lashes. If only my mascara wasn't 2 years old, they might actually look good when I get dressed up to go out.

I love The Fratellis.

The joy of singing (again)

Last night's Chorus rehearsal reminded me just how much I love singing. We had a fabulous stand-in conductor who made us laugh, worked us hard and got a lovely sound out of us, and we had some wonderful music to sing courtesy of Berlioz. The concert is going to be another great one with this and the Rachmaninov. Sometimes I leave Chorus feeling tired and down, wondering why I gave up my evening, but when we have music this good and rehearsals this fun I walk out buzzing, on a real high. Music is still the best artform in the world, and being able to make music is one of life's joys. I'm still feeling cheerful the next day at 8.27am - now that's something!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


James Martin should not be allowed to present a programme on puddings when I'm trying to be good. Every week I sit and watch him whip up the most gorgeous creations, and every week my stomach demands that I fill it with sweet things. I've resisted well so far but it's so difficult! The chocolate orange cheesecake tonight was like pudding porn. I...want...chocolate...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Fantastic weekend

Having looked forward to it so much, I'm happy to report that my weekend definitely lived up to expectations. My journey went really well and I connected with the bus I was aiming for despite both my trains running slightly late, and I even arrived home before the rain started. I made pudding, laid the table and prepared the other ingredients for the evening, before putting The Fratellis on the CD player and dancing round the living room for an hour while looking forward to the day when I have a detached house of my own. Mum and dad arrived home on time and dad was very surprised and pleased to see me which was lovely. I then made moussaka and put it in the oven, mum made a pint of Pimms and dad opened presents while we all giggled mightily. Then dinner was served, and very yummy it was too as was the champagne and gorgeous dessert wine. We all got brilliantly drunk and spent the whole evening laughing - just another perfect family day. Plus I got to watch last week's Dr Who that I'd taped so had the bonus of David Tennant running about in a DJ!

Saturday was a lazy day, then after mum and dad had gone to the theatre I had a G&T, microwaved the remaining moussaka, cracked open a bottle of wine and watched Any Dream Will Do followed by the Eurovision Song Contest. It was a thoroughly excellent year (and a lot more memorable than last year!) despite the block voting, although I do feel the shiny silver monument to camp that was the Ukrainian entry should have won. Terry was also on top form. My only error of the evening was deciding in my slightly tipsy state that consuming all the remaining chocolate pudding would be a good idea, something for which my stomach has still not quite forgiven me.

On Sunday I got up at 10 and enjoyed a large roast dinner and rhubarb crumble for lunch (this may also have contributed to my general internal woes) before a very easy journey home. I was in such a good mood that even going back to work didn't seem too bad. All weekends should be as excellent as this.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Eurovision review

So, ladies and gents, the spectacular festival of camp that is Eurovision is over for another year, and I feel that the main events of the evening can best be summed up by the legend that is Sir Terence of Wogan.

On one of the video links: "They're going to hurl themselves into the icy water. They do a lot of this in Finland...and there's a lot of deaths".

On Georgia: "They've got cossack dancers, and there will be sword fighting later. Hurrah".

On Sweden: "An androgynous lad with an interesting line in metallic chest hair". He wasn't lying.

On France: "Gosh, wasn't that awful". Again, an accurate observation. I can't believe they got the same number of points as us.

On Russia: "Now I don't know about you, but I can remember when all Russian girls had moustaches and looked like Kruschev's mother".

Other acts of note were the German swing group, the scary lesbians of Serbia (who won - how?!) and the jaw droppingly special Ukrainians who were definitely robbed.

The evening then moved on to the interval act. "You don't often see this. A man swallowing a flourescent tube".

We then had the voting. On the Ukraine - "Are those your own teeth, dear?". On Russia - "Good evening, Mrs Putin". And on the UK - "It's Fern Cotton! Heavens, I know her! I know that girl".

Finally, the Serbians emerged to sing their winning song, clutching various random paraphernalia. "Is that a traditional Serbian cucumber you've got there, my man?"

A truly special evening as always. I'll leave the final word to Terry - "It's been a wonderful wonderful evening. I mean, not musically of course". Brilliant.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Looking forward

I seem to be looking forward to something all the time at the moment. This time, however, it's only to this weekend which for me begins on Friday when I have the day off work. My fantastic dad is going to be 53, so after my driving lesson I'm heading over to Bewdley armed with ingredients, brownies and strawberries (for the Pimms, naturally) to give him a birthday surprise. He and mum are in Norfolk this week and are returning home at about 5pm, by which time I will have ballooned the living room, made pudding and prepared everything else for the meal I'm going to cook for us all. Mum has got the Pimms, champagne and posh crisps ready (Pimms and posh crisps are compulsory pre-special dinner consumption between the months of May and September in our house!) and hopefully dad will be well and truly surprised to see me. I'm so looking forward to a lovely evening in with lots of fun and laughter, and I'm even feeling confident about cooking as it's all stuff I can prepare in advance. I'm making asparagus with smoked salmon to start, moussaka and Greek salad for main course and then chocolate truffle cake for pudding, and I'm also despatching dad back to Swansea with a big batch of brownies for him to scoff over the next week or so. I can't wait!

Other things to look forward to this weekend are getting two nights of uninterrupted sleep (my neighbours are pulling a delightful new trick of waking me up every Friday and Saturday night at the moment) and of course the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday. Mum and dad are going out to the theatre and I could have gone with them, but I'd much rather sit at home with a bottle of wine and some delightfully cheesy Euro-pop than watch Chekhov in Stratford, so that's what I plan to do. In an exciting new progression from last year, I aim to do my best to remain upright and conscious throughout the entire event! I'll let you know how it goes.

All that remains now is to get through another day at work, have fun at Chorus and then bake brownies at 10pm tomorrow night (as one does) and Friday will be here! Woo and indeed yay.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sheer brilliance

At 9.36 this evening, during frame 13 of the world snooker final, Clive Everton actually used the phrase, "And that's a bad miss". Fantastic.

Some errors have occurred

This morning I decided to dye my hair. I wanted to go back towards my natural dark brown, but still keeping a hint of red. I therefore bought a colour described on the box as Deep Reddish Brown, assuming that this would give me – well, deep reddish brown hair. How wrong I was. It appears that the people at Garnier have lied to me. Yes, it’s dark. Yes, there are hints of red. However, the overall impression is one of…purple. I suppose you could just about get away with calling it dark brown with purple iridescence, but when I look in the mirror I just see purple. I have purple hair.

This is not however the end of my problems. When I’ve previously gone red, I’ve managed to get colour all over my forehead which has come off as soon as I’ve washed the dye out of my hair. However, this evil purple stuff seems to be a lot stronger and more persistent. I therefore now closely resemble Mikhail Gorbachev.

I have PURPLE HAIR! Someone help me!

EDIT: It probably doesn't look so purple from a distance. To be fair, in some lights it has looked brownish red. But in general, the overall impression I'm still getting is brownish purple. Ah well. At least it's dark!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Juicy text

Can anyone shed any light on this?

"Drinky pants! Up p a fast! Sexy fox! Rah."

If anyone has any sort of clue, do let me know...

We love you Juicy, oh yes we do!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Free stuff!

I take online surveys for about four different internet research companies, and I earn various points or account credits for doing so. I've been doing them for years because I quite enjoy it (sad I know) and have never really thought about the value of the points I've been building up. This evening I randomly went into the My Account section for one of the websites, and discovered that I had absolutely loads of points to redeem. I went along to the rewards section and have just ordered a £25 HMV e-gift certificate. I'm now excitedly awaiting the arrival of Costello Music by The Fratellis, the Legally Blonde soundtrack and Film Molecules by Tender Trap. I haven't bought any treats for myself for absolutely ages so this is really well timed. Woo for free stuff!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Another shiny new toy

Today I finally got round to charging up my latest exciting new purchase. I am now happily listening to Mahler on my shiny cordless headphones and enjoying the novelty of being able to move freely about rather than having to keep my head at a slightly odd angle - previously if I wanted to listen to anything really loud I used my crappy little in-ear things plugged into my laptop, and just remained in my chair for the duration of the piece. Not really a workable solution! Now however I can wander round my flat and my ears don't even get hot thanks to these rather lovely big padded beasties that sit firmly round them rather than inside. Now I just need to find a day which isn't a Sunday when I don't have to leave the house, and then I can get on and order the even more exciting item which was the reason I bought these headphones in the first place. Yes folks, bring on the digital piano! Unfortunately such a day is proving rather elusive currently, but through some cunning driving lesson re-arranging I may yet find a Saturday when I can just sit at home and await the arrival of probably the most fabulous thing I will ever have purchased. Woo and indeed yay.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The little mundanities of life

Apologies for the lack of posting recently, but I haven't felt that inspired to write about my little dramas of late. This week has been fairly busy - I started my six week evening course on Project Management on Tuesday and enjoyed the first lecture. I have to attend every Tuesday between 6 and 9 and although it felt strange to be still working and concentrating after 5, the material was interesting so I think I'll enjoy it. Then on Thursday I went to a grammar school in south Warwickshire with Charlotte for a careers evening, which earned me four hours of overtime as well as a chicken sarnie, a muffin and a cookie which can't be bad. Today we had our last open day of the current set so I earned another eight hours of extra pay and it was much less stressful than sometimes as I was on office cover in the afternoon so could just sit quietly and avoid everyone, except for the moments when the phone rang.

Other events of the week include a power cut on Monday, which only affected my road and went on until I went to bed. I ended up getting dinner from the chippy and then reading by candlelight in the otherwise pitch dark! At first it was quite exciting to be having a little drama but by 10pm I was definitely bored of it. A more amusing interlude happened on Thursday when I dropped in to Mark's leaving soiree for ten minutes after work to find him in a state of extreme inebriation with some very dodgy wet patches down his jeans. Class.

So, as you can see it's been all quiet little events for me with nothing really worth writing about. (I do of course realise that I've ended up boring you all with it anyway...) I'll try to find something more interesting to say soon!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Contemplating the future

Although it pains me to look beyond April next year, I do on some level realise that once I return from the glorious land Down Under I will have to get myself a job. While in the short term this may be a temping thing or a similar role to my current one, in the medium to long term I have ambition and a desire to earn what I'm worth. With this in mind I've registered to attend the graduate recruitment fair at the NEC in June, just to get an idea of what's out there. Browsing the company websites for the past couple of evenings has been quite scary - I might finally have to get my graduate head back on and convince people that I'm brilliant at things that I don't fully understand yet. Demonstrating that you can be a manager and a leader involves so much more than being daddied along in a low paid public sector job does. Hopefully within the next year I'll have considered the problem enough to have made lists of things I have done that demonstrate potential, which I hadn't even realised demonstrated it until now. One can but try, and the worst that can happen is that I continue on my somewhat slower path and don't have to sell my soul to the corporate masses, which doesn't sound bad for a worst case scenario.

Everything just round the corner is so very unknown, interesting and challenging at the moment. It's a shame that the corner is so gradual and that I have another 9.5 months of boredom/stress/cock-ups (depending on the day) to go in my current position. I'm sure that all jobs become this tedious eventually, but it would be lovely to be looking for something new now rather than in a year's time. But then who am I to complain? It's even lovelier to know that on this day next year I'll be visiting Mount Cook and arriving in Christchurch, having just come from an overnight cruise on a lake under the mountains. I have the best get-out clause in the world!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Funniest line of the evening...

Raquel (on rice pudding): So, how do you make it? Do you just put rice and water together and let it cook?

Andy: No Raquel - because that would make boiled rice.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A very large cheque

Fifteen months ago, as some of you may remember, my Grandpa died. This meant that my dad was able to wind up our half of the trust that was established in 1951 to share between his and his brother's children and "remoter issue" - a charming legal term if ever there was one. The money was invested in various unit trusts and stock, and finally, after over a year of winding everything up, on Monday dad was able to sign off the cheques for all fifteen of us and post them out. This morning my cheque arrived.

My great grandfather, who set up the trust, never met me and I never met him. If he came back now and saw me walking down the street he wouldn't know who I was, and yet his money has enabled me to buy three of the things I most want. Money can't buy you happiness, but it can certainly buy you items and experiences that help you to create your own happiness, and that's what I'm doing in a major way this year.

Part one was the camera and assorted memory cards, case etc. Part two will be a rather fabulous piano and cordless headphones. Part three is the majority of my uber fantastic holiday next year which is currently the major thing getting me out of bed at 6am every morning. When I'm having fun taking pictures of my friends, or playing Beethoven, or standing on top of Sydney Harbour Bridge - on top of the world - I'll be thinking of my Grandpa, and of his relations, and of my dad who sorted everything out, and I'll be so grateful for being incredibly lucky and being given these fabulous opportunities.

Now I just have to head to the bank!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bye bye brick

Today at 7.40 (on a Saturday!!) I was woken up by the delivery man bringing me my shiny new camera! It looks like this:

and is fabulous and small and quick. It has a really big touch screen on the back and absolutely the best feature is that you can play back your pictures in a slideshow with backing music! So I have half a film left to use and then it's bye bye to the brick that has served me so well for over ten years, and hello to my pretty new toy. Yay!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A letter to everyone's favourite bus company

I thought you might enjoy the very understated rant that I've just written. I've gone for "quietly shocked" rather than the "disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" approach, in the hope of an informative response. I'll let you know what happens!

Dear Sir/Madam,

Last Saturday night (24th March) at a quarter past midnight, I attempted to catch the Travel Coventry bus that was due to arrive at The City Arms in Earlsdon at 00:14. Earlier that day, I had checked on the Centro website to find out when the last bus to Leamington Spa was due to operate, and had seen that this service was advertised on the timetable with absolutely no indication that it would not be running as normal. I waited, along with four other people, at the stop at Hearsall Common from midnight until 00:40, when it became obvious that the bus was not going to arrive. I had no money to hail a taxi, I clearly could not walk the ten miles home and was therefore left stranded, a lone female alone in the dark in the early hours of the morning.

When I finally arrived home on Sunday I double checked the online timetable and scanned it carefully to look for any mention of the fact that this service would not be running, but could find nothing at all to indicate that it would not be operating as normal. I am unfamiliar with University term times, but a friend informed me that the bus might not have arrived because it was a holiday week; however this was not mentioned anywhere on the website. There was not even a symbol in the key at the bottom of the page that stood for “term times only”, and the date on the page clearly showed that the timetable was intended to apply to that particular week in which I had attempted to travel.

I am sure I do not need to use words like “appalled” and “disgusted” to convey the seriousness of this situation. I was extremely fortunate to have been able to call on a friend in Earlsdon who did not mind letting me stay with her. Many other young women in my situation would not have had the opportunity to find somewhere to stay so late at night. I am absolutely shocked that the last advertised service of the evening did not operate, and am still struggling to understand how your company could leave its customers with no means of getting home at such a late hour.

I am not seeking compensation for myself, even though this incident caused me a good deal of upset and inconvenience. I would however appreciate a full explanation of why this situation occurred and an assurance that it will not be allowed to happen again. I also look forward to being informed of the steps that will be taken to ensure that the online timetables are correct in future. Centro are currently advertising their services on television, claiming that traveling around the West Midlands is now so much easier than it was before. I would like to be confident in future that the information they provide concerning your services will actually be correct.

I look forward to a swift response to my concerns.