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.