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!