Thursday, 30 December 2010

2010 - A Year in Review

This year I...

1. Got accused of being a terrorist
2. Finally finally got my wish for a niece
3. Learned to crochet and produced 4 blankets
4. I met Eddie, the cat of my life, only to lose him when he moved away (still sad about that by the way)
5. Broke someone’s heart.
6. Moved in with Dorothy
7. I had an exhibition with my fellow Stitchettes
8. I signed up to the cult of Weightwatchers and kinda lost an awful lot of weight (4 stone so far!)
9. I, you know, nearly died and stuff.
10. Saw more snow than I have ever seen in my whole life
11. Visited a new part of France
12. Fell in love again
13. Started a new blog (you’re totally reading it!)
14. Spent time with American Girl and American Boy for the first time in nearly 2 years (how was that a year ago already?!)
15. Watched someone pass away (the ex’s Grandmother)
16. Hosted my first ever giveaway on my old blog (I really need to do that again you know - next year I promise)
17. Saw Flight of the Conchords and Goldfrapp in concert
18. Got a better idea of who my real friends are.
19. Met Roy Hattersley and Henry Winkler (as you do)
20. Visited Blackpool for the first time
21. Saw one of my best friend’s get married
22. Babysat for guinea pigs for the very first time
23. Walked across the Humber Bridge for the very first time
24. Discovered that the gym wasn’t that scary after all and discovered the delights of Zumba.

All in all, not too shabby I reckon. Here's hoping 2011 is not quite as eventful!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

2010 - A Year in Books

I’ve had many mixed feelings about my decision to list all the books I read in 2010, as well as doing the monthly reviews. It’s hard to keep something like that interesting to read and I started to find myself dreading it a little bit towards the end of each month but I think I might keep it going in 2011 in some form – maybe just reviewing the winner of each month and listing the others, it’s good to keep things fresh.

I will still be keeping a list on my sidebar of each book as I read it though, that’s been interesting and I’m really glad I’ve done it, especially because of my tendency to forget a book as soon as I’ve read it. The 2010 list is going to be kept as a separate page on the blog, for people to have a squizz at if they so wish.

I said that I would pick a book of the year but I should have known really that I’d be unable to – I’m not the Man Booker committee rolled into one person. But I have selected my top 4 books of the year, which I think is marvellously restrained of me. They all offer something a little different but all have stayed with me in one way or another. (The links go back to the original reviews I wrote.)

1. One Day – David Nicholls – I love love love loved this book. It’s not a hard read, it’s probably not going to make you question the meaning of life, but it is a perfect love story without all the romantical schmaltz because the characters are real.

2. The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters – I have forgiven her for the lack of lesbians in this book I’ve decided. It’s just a brilliant ghost story with possibly the best twist in the world that will keep you guessing right up until the end of the book and beyond.

3. A Week in December – Sebastien Faulks – I raced through this, I devoured it like the greedy little bookworm that I am and I have continued to think about it long after I finished going “Oh yeah, remember that bit in that book, when...” Most definitely a rare occurance for me to remember what actually happened once the last page has been turned. Excellent read for a take on today’s society.

4. The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobsen – It’s just an amazing book, and I’ve struggled to really describe why. Maybe it just spoke to me for some reason, but I definitely approve of the 2010 Man Booker Committee’s choice.

Special Mentions

I feel that there needs to be a couple of special mentions however. Those 4 books were chosen out of the 12 that won each month but there were a couple of runners up that deserve an honourable mention.

The Selected Works of TS Spivet. (Reif Larsen) - This really really did almost win and if it had it would have absolutely been one of the books of the year. It’s a beautiful story and hello?! The book has maps and diagrams and drawings in the margins – win! I would, and have, recommend this over and over again.

Nocturnes (Kazuo Ishiguro) – the book that made me reconsider my loathing of short stories and love stories that have continued to haunt me.

And another special mention needs to go out to Wetlands (Charlotte Roche) – for disturbing me beyond all measure. I think I’m a changed person now that I’ve read that. Bleurgh.

Those that got left behind...

There also should be mention of those books that sadly didn’t make it. Although I try incredibly hard not to give up on a book and stick with them to the bitter end there have been three this year that I have had to throw the towel in, hold my hands up and just admit that it’s never going to happen.

Dubliners (James Joyce) – I say this in a tiny voice because if American Boy hears it he seriously might come over here and punch me in the face because he’s all about the James Joyce. That’s why I even had this book, he raved about him and I wanted to have a go too. It’s just awful, I got a few stories in but knew I didn’t have the stamina for the rest.

Awakenings (Oliver Sacks) - This is what happens when you don’t travel with a spare book. I went to see the person that I don’t talk about and I finished my book and this was all he had on his bookshelf that looked vaguely interesting. I saw the film a long time ago (which incidentally is brilliant, you should just watch that) and thought I’d give the book a go. But it is dry. Dry dry dry. Just endless case studies. That all start to merge into one. But you should absolutely watch the film if you don’t know the story because it really is fascinating.

Lark Rise to Candleford (Flora Thompson) – I have read the first book in the series and maybe the second two will be more interesting but I have really struggled with this. I’ve kept going because so many people have told me how amazing it was and I really did enjoy Cranford when I read that and it’s the same kind of era, but it was just so interminably dull and reads like a social history textbook. At some point I could be tempted to pick this up again and give the other couple of books ago but it’ll be a while.


I hope it hasn’t all bored you too much and if you have any suggestions for 2011 in terms of how the book reviews might go (or if they should go at all!) then please let me know.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

December Book Review

I could bore you all with tales of Christmas and so on but I reckon you've probably all had enough of that. Safe to say my Christmas was like most others - presents were given and exchanged and too much food was eaten. Let's leave it at that.

What I need to do is get in my December book review now because I am swiftly running out of days and still need to get the whole year review out of the way.

Don't worry, there's only 2 books, I wouldn't want to tax your over-stuffed brains.


Instruments of Darkness – Imogen Robertson


Man I would have been gutted if this had been the last book of the year that I had read. It was so so poor. I don’t even know where to begin. I almost don’t want to go overboard on the slating because it was kind of so rubbish I would feel bad beating it to death. Poor characters. Poor plotline. Dullness itself. I kept waiting for it to get good, thinking that any minute it was going to kick in, but sadly it was not to be. I realise I haven’t really told you what it’s about but I’m going to save you time by just saying, don’t bother.

Love in a Cold Climate – Nancy Mitford


Have I mentioned I’m obsessed with the Mitfords? Well I am. I seriously can't get enough of them and am making it my life's mission to read and own anything to do with them. This means reading autobiographies and biographies and books of letters, you name it I'll read it, but what was lacking from my reading list was any of the fiction written by Nancy Mitford.

Have you read Evelyn Waugh? Liked it? You'll love this (hardly surprising seeing as we're talking about the same era and they were mates). It is almost laugh out loud funny, full of over-inflated characters and just a damn good read. Read it. You'll love it. It is not to be taken seriously.

-------------

The winner? Love in a Cold Climate. Obviously.

Apologies, I know these two reviews are not the best but you know what? It's the end of the year, don't worry about it.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Have yourself...

...a merry little Christmas.

Just thought I would take the chance to wish you all a Happy Christmas/Happy Holiday/Wonderful Festvie Season/Whatever it is for you.

I hope the weather doesn't disrupt any of your plans and I hope that Father Christmas fills your stocking to the brim.

I would just be happy to leave work early today (surely working on Christmas Eve is illegal?).

See you in a few days!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

2010 - A Year in Crochet

Some of the more beady-eyed of you may realise that this post was already posted earlier in the week. You see I'd been an organised Girl and scheduled a load of posts in, all that had to be done was for the photos to be added to the posts. Unfortunately I did not count on me losing a weekend to Black Out 2010 and this post went ahead as scheduled, only without the pretty pictures and we all know that's no good so I took it down and now here it is. Again...with photos...

Last year I made a bold announcement. 2010 was going to be known as The Year of the Crochet. I’d seen people doing it, I’d been introduced to the Attic24 world and I wanted to get in on the action. Luckily for me one of those weekly magazine jobbies came out in the New Year and I snatched up the first issue, this was a sign from the crochet Gods that I should try and complete my mission.

It’s fair to say that things got off to a rocky start. I may, or may not, have written a post about it and referred to it as the devil’s craft. It was fiddly and irritating and I was getting incredibly frustrated with my left-handedness which made everything just that little bit more difficult. It’s hard to follow instructions when you’re actually trying to do the reverse, there should be more left handed crochet books out there for suffering individuals like myself!


You should know by now though that I’m quite the stubborn person and I was damn sure that crochet wasn’t going to make a fool out of me. So with the support and guidance of people, (especially the Heather!) I carried on and by April I was forced to issue a retraction and admit that I was (to use a much over-used pun) hooked.

I crocheted and I crocheted and I crocheted away, loving the colours, loving the process (apart from the joining together, still hate that, will definitely learn about joining on the go soon) and loving that I had a new skill. I crocheted all over the place, wherever I had the opportunity to sit still and slowly my very first blanket grew and grew until finally it was complete (it just wasn’t revealed for a while because a relationship break up inconveniently got in the way).


I love my big blanket so much. I love it so much that for a while I couldn’t even bring myself to use it as a blanket because I didn’t want it to get messed up. I know. I’m ridiculous. But throughout this ridiculously cold winter we’ve been having it’s been a welcome addition and has lain over me most nights whilst I try to warm my icy bones.

Crochet was my ally when I was trying to distract myself from the break-up and I channelled my whirligig of emotions into making squares for the SIBOL project – blankets which have been made up from squares from around the world to be passed on to people in care homes in the UK. It was the perfect combination, I got to crochet, I got to stop thinking about the fact that my life was falling apart and I got to contribute and be part of something rather special. I’m hoping to do more squares for them in the New Year when the new challenges for blankets are announced.


Crocheting became my new ‘thing’ and I have rarely been without a hook in my hand throughout 2010. My poor cross stitch has felt terribly neglected (although it’s had its moment too in the form of the Embroidering the Truth exhibition in the summer) by my love of the new craft.

And somehow I have managed in the space of the year to go from someone who completely hated and couldn’t understand crochet, to someone who has made four blankets. I know! FOUR. My big blanket, a blanket for what turned out to be my niece, a patchwork number for my friend for Christmas, and my arch nemesis, the big blue beast for my Mum for Christmas.


There’s still a long way to go. I still class myself very much as a beginner at this game. I’m still most comfortable when I’m grannying and I would like to get more adventurous. I have made a start by making my granny stripe squares that I used in Big Blue and I would definitely like to continue.

I’m definitely getting braver in terms of designing too – the patchwork blanket was a big step for me and one that I’m glad I took, as was Big Blue, those two blankets mean a lot to me in that they really feel like they’re my ‘own’.


So what does 2011 hold for me and crochet?

Hopefully a lot more of it. I want to make another blanket, I need to get The Beast finished and I would really like to make up a cushion.

There are basically 2 goals however:

1. 2011 is the year that I will ripple. I’m telling you. I am going to conquer that ripple if it kills me.

2. 2011 is the year that I will make something that’s more of stretch – I want to make a little teddy or a flower or something that’s a little tougher than just going round and round or back and forth. I know what this means, I need to get over my phobia of proper crochet diagrams and instructions. Eek. I need pictures to help me along the way!

But all in all, I’m pretty proud of myself. I wouldn’t have predicted that by the end of 2010 I’d have made 4 blankets and I feel that it’s probably allowed for me to stand up, put my hand on my heart and say with more than a hint of pride in my voice that 2010 most certainly was, the Year of Crochet.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Inner Brat is silenced

So I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself for the past few days. On top of just generally feeling ashamed of my actions, there's been a bit of a physical recovery too. Today is the first day since Black Out 2010 that I've felt vaguely normal. I don't have a lump in the back of my throat from being sick so much, my abs and rib cage aren't as sore from all the heaving, my appetite is back to normal (having gone from not wanting anything at all, to wanting to eat the world and his wife) and I don't feel like a frail little person. Poor body I feel incredibly guilty for doing this to you.

But enough of the self pity! I have wallowed long enough and I have to thank you for your comments yesterday which provided me with the reassurance I needed. The conclusion is...

Yes I'm a tit but at it could have been worse. Now move on.

My Inner Brat has also been wallowing in self pity recently. It's been upset that no-one has actually asked it what it wants for Christmas and has been moangy and whingy that it's going to get rubbish presents that it doesn't even wants. The Brat is terrible self-centred you know.

However, yesterday, salvation came to The Inner Brat all the way in the post from the wilds of Liverpool. You see, Alex held a 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway where lots of pretties were up for grabs. The Inner Brat loves giveaways so entered whenever it could. But it remained pessmistic (isn't that always the way with Inner Brats?) and didn't think it would win, it still holds a grudge that after all those Blue Peter competitions it never won a Blue Peter badge (that golden eagle stamp was freakin' amazing as well).

But oh joy of joys The Inner Brat won! It couldn't believe it. It did a jig. It spun me round in my office chair. It was so excited because not only had it won, it had won the thing it really really wanted. A rather beautiful egg box necklace.

Now I'd love to show you a picture of me wearing it but my camera is currently a little under the weather and my computer is not letting me steal the picture from Alex's blog so you will have to go to the original post here to see it. (And be jealous.)

So The Inner Brat is finally happy. It doesn't care that much about Christmas now because it has its eggbox necklace to make it feel spoilt and special.

And me? I'm just happy it's almost time to not have to work for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Black

I woke up and knew that something was wrong. It didn’t take long to figure out what. There was vomit all over the pillow next to my face.


I tried to think and tried to remember but it was black.

I was still in the dress that I went out in. My hair was in disarray. My make-up was all over my face. But none of that was particularly concerning me, what was concerning me was that I had absolutely no idea how I’d got there. It was black.

I was at my Dad’s house because I was dog-sitting. I was totally alone. I wandered through the house looking for clues but everything was eerily tidy. No mess anywhere. My shoes and coat were by the front door, my purse, with all its contents in, was on the kitchen table. My phone and the house key were on the table by the phone. I went back upstairs and there was a glass of water and a bucket by my bed. Everything looked normal but I knew that it wasn’t because my mind was black.

I rang a friend. “What happened to me last night?” “What are you talking about?” “I don’t remember what happened to me last night. I’ve woken up and I can’t remember anything.” “Are you joking?” “Does this sound like the voice of someone who’s joking?” “I left before you but you were fine, you were drunk but you were fine.”

Cue frantic texts to people to ask them if they knew how I’d got home.

I was shaking violently and uncontrollably. I knew that nothing completely horrendous had happened to me. Someone had got me home but I had absolutely no idea who that someone was. I got in the shower in an attempt to clear my head but everything remained black.

A knock on the door revealed everything to me – a male colleague was standing on the doorstep looking incredibly worried. “Did you bring me home last night?” I asked him. He nodded, he’d come back to check on me because he was so worried, he hadn’t wanted to leave me but didn’t know what else to do so had put me in the recovery position and hoped for the best. “What happened?” I asked him, “You were just incredibly drunk,” was all he could tell me.

I spent the rest of the day lying on the sofa, shaking and trying desperately to penetrate the blackness but it’s become clear that the blackness is there to remain. I’m never going to regain my memory of what happened. I can remember being at the party, I can remember talking to people and dancing, but then it’s just black. No memory of collecting my coat and going for the taxi and no memory at all of what happened once I got home.

It’s terrifying. It’s horrible. It’s scary. It’s something I never want to experience again.

People have been kind to me and have offered me a million and one excuses as to how or why it happened;

“You haven’t really drunk in 6 months”
“You’re half the size you used to be, you can’t handle that much anymore”
“You didn’t eat any dinner”
“You were drinking wine, you should have been drinking spirits”

But really they’re being too nice. The simple fact is I drank too much. Way too much. All those excuse are contributing factors as to why I was affected so badly but there aren’t any decent excuses. I’m 27 years old, I should know that I can’t drink over 2 bottles of wine (I remember counting to 5 or 6 glasses) without there being some serious consequences, whether or not I've eaten dinner or I haven't drunk in a while or am thinner than I used to be.

What I still can’t work out though is how I did it. How did I let myself be so incredibly stupid?

I don’t have any answers to that. I think I just got so over-excited about seeing everyone and being out that I just wasn’t concentrating. It’s a lame excuse I know but it’s true. I didn’t intend to go out and get drunk, it was just an unfortunate accident.

I don’t need lectures. Trust me I don’t need to be told how incredibly foolish and dangerous my actions were. I don’t need to be told how lucky I was and how much worse it could have been. Believe me I feel bad about it. I sat for a weekend and cried and cried and cried about what I did and dreaded coming into work in the morning to see people and not have a clue what happened.

That’s the worst – not knowing what other people know. Someone saw me today in the kitchen at work and said “Wasn’t Friday amazing?!” and I had to be honest and say I didn’t really remember. I do know that I was most definitely having a good time, I just can’t really remember the specifics. Lucky for me I held it together at the party – people knew I was drunk but not quite how bad, apparently I was just your average, fun, drunken, life and soul of the party, person, not a complete mess. That’s one thing I can be thankful for.

I know that I seriously owe my life to the person that helped me get home, stayed with me in the house and put me to bed. It doesn’t bear thinking about what could have happened and I’ve run out of ways to apologise to him and thank him for what he did. In the end there is no way of conveying how grateful you are to someone for those kinds of actions, some chocolates and a card were the best I could do.

I wasn’t sure whether to post this story or not. It’s most certainly not an image of me that I particularly want to portray but it is real and it did happen and to pretend that it didn’t would be to lie and I don’t want to be that person. This blog is supposed to be Just Me and I guess this is just me, warts and all.

(The dress looked bloody amazing though.)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

The Beast lives

I know I complained about it a lot, but once I finished Mum’s blanket I’ve been left a little bit lost.

I officially have no projects I have to work on. Most of the year I’ve been doing something with a purpose. For most of the year it was doing pieces for the Embroidering the Truth exhibition, then Christmas things took over. Apart from the blanket I made for myself, it’s all been given away or sold.

When the blanket was finished this hit me like a ton of bricks. What the hell was I going to do?

Then The Beast piped up.

“What about me?! I’m here! Work on me! Work on me!”

I did try to be calm about it and spread out the work, taking my time over it and making it last, but The Beast took over and made me furiously crochet every spare minute I had until eventually I decreed him finished. Technically I could go on making him forever (and believe me The Beast tried to make me do that) but I’m happy enough with its length. I don’t want something getting in the way all the time and it’s long enough to wrap all the way round and still have dangling room so it’s good for me.

Having initially despaired at the vastness of his width I have come to the conclusion that The Beast knew what it was doing all along. You see it knew that the one thing that is really getting to me in this crazy cold weather is my poor little nose which ends up bright red after the walk into work and infuriatingly stays that way for most of the day. My current scarf, whilst lovely, is not wide enough to tuck my whole face into unless I hunch my shoulders all the way up and that, quite frankly is painful.

The Beast however is so wide, my nose has no choice but to get buried in its colourful depths and my face is very thankful for that.
I have acknowledged and accepted the fact The Beast is not perfect in every way and I rejoice in his scrappiness. After all, Beasts are rarely neat and tidy are they? They are wild and woolly, words which very accurately describe this Beast of mine. Sometimes I just find myself staring at him with pure admiration and marvelling at all the colours.

The Beast sitting on my desk at work. With inflatable Christmas Tree in background. That was The Beast’s cup of tea.

That’s the other thing The Beast has helped me with. It’s made me a lot less afraid of colour. I have a bit of a problem when it comes to adding colours together with gay abandon, everything I’ve made so far, whilst a lot of it has been colourful, it’s also been ordered. When making the squares for my first blanket I tried to just randomly throw colours together but just couldn’t do it and stuck to lining them up neatly and using them in order. When The Inner Beast took control of things I succumbed to not making a scarf which went red, blue, yellow, green, pink, red, blue, yellow, green, pink, red, blue etc but a scarf that went red, blue, yellow, green, pink, blue, green, pink, red. This is a step forward for someone who is as obsessed with order as I am.

The Beast might just be my favourite Christmas present this year.
 
Love you Beast!

Friday, 17 December 2010

20 Christmas Questions

Poor Heather is a sick person and posted this 20 Christmas Questions post and wanted others to do it so she could have a nosy at other people's Christmas traditions. Being the kindly soul that I am (and due to my all encompassing aversion to doing actual work in the run up to Christmas) I have decided to oblige her.

1. Wrapping paper and gift bags?

Wrapping paper for me usually. It’s all part of the Christmas traditions – I go to Manchester a couple of weeks before Christmas, go to Paperchase and buy all my Christmas paper, boxes, shredded paper, ribbons etc and then come home and wrap all the presents in one go. None of this, wrapping as you go malarkey. All in one massive binge. And some presents may be wrapped and then put in gift bags. I’m crazy like that.

2. Real tree or artificial?
I’m all about the real trees, you can’t beat the smell and I’m a clean freak so don’t mind hoovering up the needles. This year it’s artificial though because Dorothy is allergic to pine and much as I love a real tree it’s probably not worth killing my landlord. Also. They’re freaking expensive and I’m eating dust at the moment in an attempt to save money.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Any time after the 2nd week in December is good with me. Too early and you’ve blown your wad too soon and it doesn’t feel special by the time Christmas comes, too late and you don’t get giddy enough on Christmas cheer.

4. When do you take the tree down?
Probably the 2nd or 3rd of January, doesn’t matter as long as it’s down before 6th January. Them’s the rules.

5. Favourite gift received as a child
One year I got an Oh Penny! House AND a Treehouse.That was pretty much the best Christmas ever.

6. Hardest person to buy for
At the moment, my eldest nephew. What the hell do you buy for a 14 year old boy that doesn’t cost the earth? Having never been a 14 year old boy it’s an unknown quantity to me.

7. Easiest person to buy for
Mumsie. I always have a whole list of things I could get her.

8. Post or e-mail Christmas cards
Post, post, post. Always post. I’ve posted cards that I don’t really need to post because I’m seeing the people next week but it’s just fun to get things through the post isn’t it. Especially things that are not bills or takeaway menus.

9. Favourite Christmas film
Can I say Love Actually? I feel like that’s cheating because I watch that film all year round and love it, it’s obscene the number of times I’ve seen it. You can’t go wrong with It’s a Wonderful Life, as long as you don’t mind crying your eyes out of your head at Christmas, ditto The Snowman. Also let us save a special place in our hearts for Santa Claus The Movie. I had that sucker on VHS, taped from the TV one year and watched every single year without fail – hello?! It has Dudley Moore in it! All other Santa Claus films are poor imitations.

10. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I’m not a particular mega early bird, I’m not that organised. It’s usually in November so that it’s all finished by the first week in December.

11. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I don’t actually know that I have, I never have the foresight or space to store a present away to give to someone else. Also I don’t know that I’ve got stuff that I really don’t like, that’s the beauty of being the simpleton that gets over-excited by everything, I’m always easily pleased.

12. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas
Everything. Just. Everything.

13. Lights on the tree (Coloured or clear?)
Clear lights on the tree, coloured lights elsewhere in the room.

14. Favourite Christmas song
Got to be a bit of Mariah Carey and All I Want for Christmas is You. One day I will be famous and I will be asked to go on Strictly Come Dancing and I will jive to this song. You heard it here first.

15. Travel at Christmas or stay at home?
Most of my adult life I’ve travelled away actually. Since Mum and Dad split up Mum and I usually drive over to my sister’s for Christmas, mainly because Mum’s house is too small to have everyone over to hers. Last year was the first year I wasn’t living at home and the ex and I ended up having 2 Christmas dinners, going to Mum’s first (she had a friend staying with her for Christmas) and then the ex’s parents later on.

16. Angel, star or ribbon on top of the tree?
Star. I’ve never found an angel that didn’t look weird or sinister

17. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Mum and I allow ourselves to open one present on Christmas Eve, just a little small stocking filler. This is because we are both children who can’t wait until the morning. I nearly punched my brother in the face when we had Christmas at his in 2006 and he said we weren’t allowed to open anything on Christmas Eve when we were in his house. Mum and I will definitely be opening something on Christmas Eve this year because we won’t be opening anything until late morning on Christmas Day because we’ll be jumping in the car first thing to drive to Ashby to my sister’s. (We don’t travel Christmas Eve because the roads are a nightmare! Christmas Day there’s no-one about so you zip there quite quickly.)

18. Most annoying thing about this time of year
The stress of trying to fit everybody in. This is multiplied if your parents split up and your siblings all live away from you and in totally different places. It sometimes feels like an inordinate amount of time at Christmas is spent trying to make sure you see everyone and don’t offend somebody.

19. What do you want for Christmas this year?
THIS is where I rant. I made a Christmas list this year, money’s been crazy tight since I made the decision to not go out with someone stupidly well off and I haven’t bought an awful lot of stuff for myself, apart from some clothes because I’ve shrunk so much. So I made my list and waited for someone to ask for it...and waited....and waited. No fucker has asked me for it and now I’m already in pre-sulk mode because I know I’m unlikely to get anything I really really want because there’s no way anyone in my family is smart enough to figure out this stuff. Yes I know the spoilt brat is out full force but would it have hurt someone to ask? Then I’d know that I’d have Mad Men on DVD, because I really want to watch that, or maybe Grey’s Anatomy seasons 4 and 5. And what about books? I like books, it would be fun if I could have some of those. Or maybe some vouchers seeing as the clothes that I have bought for myself this year no longer bloody fit. See? My needs are not extravagant, is it too much to ask that I just get the little things that I do want? *woe is me*

20. Traditional colours (red and green) or other colours?
Not really one for colour themes. Most of my Christmas decorations from last year (my first Christmas in my own place) were fairly traditional, not necessarily in colour but in kind of classiness if you catch my drift. But thrown in there were some garish little numbers that I picked up from Paperchase and Past Times. This year Dorothy and I have a whole fairy grotto/OTT/crazy cool tacky wonderful theme going on, it’s immense.

Anyone else want to take up the Christmas Question mantle?!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Dress of Confidence

Just over 9 years ago I arrived at university. I moved in, had a little cry when my Mum left me, unpacked and wondered what the hell I was doing. The next day I met someone who lived on my floor and we decided that we would visit every floor of our Halls of Residence and introduce ourselves and see if everyone wanted to go to one of the Fresher’s events one evening next week. And so we did exactly that.

I wonder where that girl went sometimes.

I don’t understand why she disappeared – surely you’re supposed to increase in confidence as you get older? You learn about the world, become more solid in your convictions, care less about what others think about you. Where did I go wrong? Nothing totally horrendous happened to me after uni other than the general knocks and bangs people get in life. Who stole my confidence away?

Sometimes I see glimmers of it reappearing (like every Thursday evening after Stitch & Bitch when we visit Sainsburys to check out the reduced section) and I try to catch hold of it before it slithers away.

I think there have been 2 major culprits responsible for keeping my confidence hidden away recently.

1. Being in an unhappy relationship. (I really did think I was happy, but looking back, my confidence and happiness and general “me”-ness was being slowly sucked out of me)

2. Putting on weight

It’s hard to maintain confidence when nothing fits and everything that does fit looks crap on you. It’s hard to maintain confidence when you know that you’re out of control with your eating. It’s hard to maintain confidence when you know that everyone is thinking to themselves “My god, how big has she got recently?!”

Readjusting to wearing nice clothes has been one of the hardest things about losing weight. In a way, when I was bigger it was easier, there was a limited selection of clothes to choose from and that actually makes life kind of comfortable. Now that I’m a size that high street shops stock I am completely bewildered and overwhelmed.

I suddenly realised the other day that a similar pattern emerges when I go shopping now. I see something I love, go over to it and then a little voice goes “Yeah but can you get away with that?”

It’s always that phrase. Not “will it fit?” or “does it suit you?” It’s “can you get away with that?" It’s a bizarre phrase and one which always seems to work on me because I put down the piece of clothing I love and turn away, too scared to give it a go.

It didn’t used to be the case you know. Back in the day if I liked it, I bought it. I wore tops with zips and tops that tied at the back with bits of string. I wore a dress to the Halls of Residence Christmas ball that was some asymmetric number that barely skimmed my behind. I had jeans that were emblazoned with the word DIRTY in bright pink capitals on the back (for reals). But then this was the girl that was happy to introduce herself to a building full of strangers and ask them to come on a night out.

So I am trying to re-programme myself and trying to keep hold of those shreds of confidence that keep appearing, with the aim of knitting them together into some kind of Cloak of Confidence.

The work’s Christmas do is tomorrow and I went to look for something new to wear to it. I didn’t go last year. I got all dressed up for it and walked halfway down the stairs and then didn’t go out because I felt so fat and disgusting. Bad times. This year I feel like I am actually a different person to that one a year ago – I need to dress like it too. Nothing shapeless and nothing bloody black.

I saw The Dress some time ago and it’s been in my brain ever since. It was love at first sight. But the niggle was there – “Can you get away with that?” it said. So I decided to put the voice to the test and I marched into Next, grabbed my size off the rail (oh what a refreshing feeling to be able to do that) and went into the changing rooms. I tried it on. I looked as critically as I could (not a hard task as every woman can appreciate) and I came to the conclusion that I could wear this dress. It did fit and it did suit me, the only thing holding me back was the voice.

9 years ago I wouldn’t have hesitated about buying this dress. So I summoned up the 18 year old me and told the voice to do one.


It hangs on the back of my bedroom door and I feel a little faint when I look at it. It is about 48 inches shorter than anything I’ve worn for a long time. I’ve had my wobbles.

But come Friday 17th December I’m going to be wearing it.

And it’s going to be fabulous. (I might just need a couple of vodkas to steady the ol' nerves is all.)

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In other news: This is my 100th post. Hurrah! There will be a giveaway in the New Year methinks.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Christmas Wreath

I had a revelation some time ago. Some of the Stitch and Bitch ladies had decided that patchwork and all things sewing machine related were the way forward and discussions were apace. I felt massively out of the loop and tentatively asked the question, "Yeah but where do you get your fabric from?"

Judging by the looks on the faces I had missed out on some valuable life lesson.
Apparently I should have been squirreling away pieces of fabric my whole life - old clothes, picking things up in charity shops. Why did I not know this?! What terrible upbringing have I had that meant I missed the memo on creating a stash of fabric? I wholeheartedly lay the blame on my Mother's doorstep and I have chastised her accordingly.

I decided patchwork was well beyond the realms of capacity given that,
a) I didn't have any fabric and no money to buy any
b) Sewing machines scare the crap out of me
so I put it to the back of my mind and stayed firmly in the land of cross stitch and crochet where I knew I was safe.

But then at the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate I was faced with an overwhelming amount of fabric (in fact the whole thing was pretty fabric, not amazing if you're not a fabric person like me) and thought I might as well throw myself into the fray. I purchased a couple of fat quarters to start off my little stash and then came across some Christmas fabric.

And I mean proper Christmas fabric, nothing trendy and modern, full on, traditional Christmas fabric. And I remembered that one of The Stitchettes had said something about people bringing Christmas fabric to her house and something about making wreaths and so I took the plunge.

Apologies for the very bizarre red tinge to this photograph - when will we see the sun again?!

Time and life got in the way of me finding out about this Christmas Wreathing, not to mention monumental craft guilt that I should be focussed on Mum's blanket and not on frivolous Christmas decorations, but eventually I got my tutorial.

It was all quite simple really, cut the fabric into strips about 1 inch wide and 6 inches long and then tie in a knot around the metal frame.


Now. A word of warning - at the beginning, it looks terrible and you will want to give up. You have to stick with it and just keep on going, keep all the fabric bunched up as tight as you can together and it will gradually begin to take form. Thank the lord I had Chief Stitchette on hand to help me and encourage me to keep going or I would have long given it up as a bad job.

And you keep tying and you keep smooshing and you keep fluffing and eventually you end up with something like this:
At this point I have to apologise because I have tried and I have tried and I have tried to get a good photograph of this wreath but have decided it's actually impossible. For some strange reason, they don't appear to photograph well at all and just come out looking like horrible messes. You might need to take me at my word with this one, these wreathes do look good. Promises.

See. I even took a photo with the horrible flash on in an attempt to get a good picture but without luck!

I was more than a little bit pleased when I got Mum's blanket finished on Sunday as this meant I was free to craft whatever I damn well pleased and Productive Sunday was rounded off with the finishing of this bad boy, who is now hanging on my bedroom door, being generally festive.


Detail

I am definitely going to be on the lookout to do this again, there are a few people with birthdays near Christmas who I think would appreciate a bit of Christmas wreath action. And it took, at most, a few hours to complete. It does take up quite a bit of fabric - I had just enough to complete mine and that was 5 fat quarters - some of the other Stitchettes used fleece-type fabric which is obviously much bulkier so wouldn't need as much.

I am feeling the warm glow of smugness pride that comes with making my first ever Christmas-type decoration and in a way I'm looking forward to putting him to bed once Christmas is over, only to rediscover him in December 2011.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Done, done and done

And lo there was a Girl and she did decree that she would crochet a blanket to give unto her Mother upon celebration of the birth of Baby Jesus.


And so she toiled hard and long and many a time did curse her decision, none more so than when the revelation came unto her that she had crocheted some squares the wrong way round.


But she knew that her cause was great and the merriment would be much and thus pressed forward, wielding her hook against Satan himself, who sought to distract her with The Beast

After many days and nights of work the Girl did settle herself to watch the omnibus of Coronation Street and as the Street burned from the flames of a frankly bizarre tram crash the blanket was born into being.


And she saw it and pronounced it was good.

Not perfect, not amazing, but good.

And so, akin to a small child offering his parent a piece of paper with some pasta shells stuck upon it, shall she offer up her blanket unto her mother on Christmas Day and all will be well.


(And she’ll earn probably a billion Best Child in the World points. Suck on it older brother and sister.)
Blanket Number 4 of the year is officially done. Let me hear you say WOO!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Productive

This weekend I was taken over by a curious force.


The force to do things.

I’m not really a lazy person at all, I find it incredibly difficult to sit still and do nothing, my hands have to be doing something, my mind has to be engaged and I can sit for at most about an hour before I have to get up and stretch my legs and do something. But even so, this force was something else.

It started on Friday night, I had a little plan in my head of what I was going to do – come in, start making my own curry (why have I never done this before?! Silly girl. Don’t need a jar, just a bit of curry paste!) and then while it was cooking, get in the shower and wash my hair. I’m a big fan of efficiency – why would I hang about for 40 minutes while my curry cooked when I could use that 40 minutes to do something useful.

And so it began.

I showered, I dusted and hoovered downstairs, I scrubbed the kitchen, did all the washing up, scrubbed the hob clean, I fluffed up cushions, I was content.

The trouble with these ‘Doing’ Binges is that they have a tendency to take over and go out of control and on Friday night I started making a list. A list of every little thing I needed to do in a weekend which was already going to be taken up with a day trip to Manchester on the Saturday. I cannot explain how much I love a good list, no better feeling than crossing things off a list so every tiny insignificant thing went on there. I was on fire.

And so this weekend I did the following:

- 2 loads of washing done, (1 load dried, sorted and put away)
- Got drunk on Gluhwein at the Christmas markets (note to self, eat breakfast before you get to Manchester, otherwise that stuff will go straight to your head)
 - Gave the patchwork blanket to its new owner (part of me wanted to make her open it there and then but I resisted) - Bought all my wrapping paper, gift boxes, shredded paper etc
- Wrapped all my Christmas presents (I always forget how long this takes, I was up until 1am doing it!)


- Made a Christmas Cake (yes purists I should have done it ages ago but I didn’t, so, you know, get over it.)

Don't worry, it's not anaemic, this is before I put it in the oven!

- Got my picture up on the wall finally after moving in 6 months ago (with the help of Dad who also broke one of the slats on my bed by putting his whole bloody weight on it. Brilliant.)
- Wrote my Christmas cards (I know that people say it’s cheaper to make them than buy them but I got 18 cards for £1.99 from The Card Factory which I thought was pretty damn good)
- Finished making a Christmas wreath (post to come on that later in the week)
- Uploaded photos on to my much neglected Flickr account (trying to get in practice because I want to do Project 365 next year!)
- Cleaned the house from top to bottom (you have to have a clean house before you start decorating)
- Started to get out the decorations ready to decorate the house on Tuesday
- Put some decorations up in my bedroom
- Watched the Coronation Street omnibus so I could finally understand what everyone’s been blathering on about (might not sound productive but I did it whilst....)
- Finished my Mum’s blanket (Yes. You did read that right.)

It felt rather amazing. I really don't like feeling like I haven't done anything and now I can rest easy knowing that everything is done, all that's left to do is post those presents to the people living far away and I am officially ready to sit back and let the festive cheer wash over me.

(And take photos of that blanket so I can crow about finishing it.)

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Update about Mum's blanket - Number 473

I know you must be sick of these, god knows I am, but I feel like I need to keep posting about it on here because blogging about the blanket seems to galvanise me into action and I start working on it like a mad woman.

Sometimes when I think about this blanket I start to hyperventilate because I think about the prospect of not getting it finished on time. I know that really, I will finish it, it might mean a couple of nights with very little sleep but it will get done, purely because it has to. I’ve always been a bit of a deadline addict, I was never one of those people who finished their essays two weeks before they were due in, I was last minute Annie. But I never missed a deadline and I’m holding on to that fact at the moment.

I somehow managed to join all the squares together. I don’t really know how I did it because the granny stripe squares didn’t have nice little stitches for me to use when joining together so I just fudged it and randomly stuck my hook in where it seemed right and soon I had them all joined together nicely as shown in this picture.


Now.

I know you can see it. I can see it too. No I didn’t mean for some of the squares to be in the wrong direction. Yes I did beat my puny little fists desperately on the bed when I realised my mistake. Yes I did use some fairly foul language. I have no idea how it happened, I took a photo of if all laid out before I started joining them together and I kept checking the photo so I’m not entirely sure at which point my brain just decided to give up completely.

Could I face unpicking them even though it drives me a little bit mad to look at?

No. To unpick it would have been admitting defeat in some way shape or form and I worried that if I did that I might end up giving up on the blanket altogether. And then I remembered something that my Mum told me many years ago – when the Amish are making their quilts they always put in a deliberate mistake because no-one is perfect except for God. Now we know how I feel about God but I am taking this message to heart and I am telling myself over and over again that this mistake is a good thing. A deliberate thing. It does offer me some comfort because I’m yet to produce something crocheted that doesn’t have a mistake in it somewhere – this neatly explains it all away – those mistakes should be in there! Excellent.

So I felt rather smug about finally getting the squares joined together and was feeling pretty good about the whole thing and I knew I had some weekends to spend on it and all was well in the world. Until I spent a weekend at Mum’s making sure she didn’t go mental from the snow-enforced cabin fever which meant I couldn’t work on it. This was nightmarish because it meant that I lost my rhythm and I again got overtaken by the fear because I knew what came next would be a challenge – doing an edging.

This called for a case of fudging again and I decided to feverishly whack my hook in any old place and do a row of DC all the way round. So far it seems to be working and from here on in it’s just plain sailing, right?!

*sigh*

I really don’t love this blanket you know.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Christmas card failure

I’m a bad crafter I know I am. I am hanging my head in shame.

I don’t think you can call yourself a crafter when you don’t even manage to make your Christmas cards.

(Actually I don’t think I call myself a crafter generally. But anyway...)

Last year I managed to make all my cards, something which still amazes me, but this year I was waaaaaay too slow off the mark, plus I decided I would try and make Christmas presents instead, and at some point I capitulated and admitted to myself that it wasn’t going to happen this year.

But the fingers began to itch a bit. They hadn’t done any cross stitch in such a long time and there came a point where I needed something to take on a train journey and I didn’t fancy dragging my yarn about with me. Out came the file with all the pages I have ripped out of cross stitch magazines over the past couple of years and I decided I would make just a couple of cards, maybe one for my Mum and one for my Dad.


And then I saw the latest issue of Cross Stitch Card Shop and it had a free kit to cross stitch a picture of The Snowman and I had to buy it. Had to you understand. So I made him up and that was another card done (and he’s so beautiful I really don’t want to give him away you know. But it’s ok. I have the chart, I can make him again!)


And then inside the magazine there were some little patterns which looked quite funky and I said to myself “Ok, you can cross stitch just one of those”. And then I told myself I should stitch it but I should stitch it on to some black aida because the colours would look funky. So I did that. (And remembered that I hate black aida. You can’t see the holes!)


So now I have 5 whole cross stitched cards and I don’t feel too bad about myself. They’re complicated to make up after all, this isn’t just throwing some glue and glitter around, you can’t knock 20 of these out in a Sunday afternoon, The Snowman took pretty much a whole weekend of continuous stitching to complete.

And now my fingers want to make more but I’ve told them no. No more cross stitch cards this year. Next year I will be organised and I will try and cross stitch all my cards. Ha. Yeah right.

So now I have to decide which lucky people get the tokens of my labours. Time to draw up a Christmas card list!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Beast

It’s all Tabiboo’s  fault you know. She posted about a beautiful scarf that she made for herself and it made the green eyed monster flare up inside me. Her scarf was colourful and warm looking and The Beast within raged and stamped its feet and demanded a scarf of its own.

What I should have done is told it to just quiet down until I got Christmas out of the way because I had enough to do and no time or excuses to start crafting things just for me, but I failed miserably and The Beast rampaged out of control.

There’s loads of bits of wool lying all over this house” The Beast said. “I can have the most colourful scarf known to man.


I tried to tell it to calm down and just stop and think for a little bit before starting to crochet. Just stop and think about what I wanted it to look like and what stitches I was going to use and how wide I was going to make it. You know, just plan a little bit. But it was all to no avail.

The Beast took control and made me pick up a crochet hook and yarn and just start. The Beast didn’t want to plan, The Beast wanted to manifest as a scarf and so it crocheted and crocheted and crocheted and crocheted. By the time I wrested back control it was too late, The Beast had been born.


It is far too wide and The Beast chose to do double crochet stitches when really it should probably have chosen treble. But it’s a Beast and is fairly new to this crochet game so I’m going to let it off. And instead of being classily colourful like Tabiboo’s scarf The Beast has gone for some kind of riot and has turned itself into some kind of Doctor Who scarf on acid.

Man how hard is it to take pictures of a scarf around your neck and not get your face in!?

I regained control of The Beast eventually and told it it had to stop. There was other crafting to be done and it had to stop being so selfish and I finally had a grasp on things. But then I went to my Mum’s house and couldn’t take her blanket with me to work on and The Beast took over and before I knew it, the scarf had doubled in length over the space of the weekend.

It’s awful, I know it is. It is over the top and too much and is kind of wonky because The Beast got far too over-excited at times and managed to start wildly picking up stitches along the way, leaving me in its wake to try and decrease and make things even again. It’s horrendous. I’m almost ashamed of it and don’t really want to show you photos of it because I know it’s not a work of perfection.

Oh bless it, it really is wonky. I'm so embarassed.

But The Beast loves it and thinks it is a work of art.

And sometimes The Beast has to get its own way.

I’ll let you know when it’s finished.

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If you're not bored of looking at snow pictures and want to see some more then pop over to my Flickr photostream where there's a whole album of snowy goodness for you to ooh and aah over.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Crazy Cat Lady Part 6: Fred and Lily update

So you might well be wondering how the Fred and Lily are doing as the festive season approaches.
They have slowly and surely become indoor cats as the months have gone by. It’s definitely strange and I don’t really believe that cats should be kept primarily indoors, they’re hunters after all, but I can understand how it’s happened. All the cats from my childhood were outdoor cats, they spent all day outside in fact whilst we were at school/work and the litter tray only came in when we went away and neighbours stepped in to feed them. However, given the run of bad luck we had when Mum and I moved to the new house with Mabel first disappearing in to thin air and then Fred disappearing for a few days, this has just left Mum feeling scared about letting them out.


So she decided that she would only let them out when she was around so that the door could be left open for them and if they disappeared out of the garden or hadn’t been seen for a few minutes, I could see the look of panic on her face as she ran for the treats to shake to bring them running back from wherever they were.

And so, as the cold weather has settled in, they’ve gone outside less and less because no one wants the door staying open during autumn and winter. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to go outside, they sit looking out all the time and it makes me feel terrible but I don’t think they are sad cats so I don’t beat Mum up about it. It’s just the way it is now.

When I was at Mum’s at the weekend during Snowpocalypse 2010 I persuaded her to let me open the back door to see what Fred and Lily would do. They’d spent an awful lot of time looking out of the window at the snow and sitting at the back door clearly wondering what was going on and after much badgering, she relented. I knew they wouldn’t do anything, the snow was piled that deep that they could barely see over it, I just wanted to give them a chance to have a smell.


I opened the door and they sat. And they sniffed. And they tried to find somewhere that wasn’t covered in white stuff to place a paw. And then Fred completely freaked out for absolutely no reason and ran away from the door, belly to the floor, and got up on top of the kitchen cabinets. Clearly not a fan of the cold then. Lily carried on sniffing and watching and I think would have eventually tried to go out in it but it was minus whatever and we were chilling our bits off so we shut the door at that point. I think we satisfied their curiosity enough.

I also brought Mum’s Christmas tree down for her from the attic and she decided to put it up on Sunday. Now whenever I phone her our conversations go a bit like this:

Me: Hi, how are you?

Mum: Yeah I’m fine I went to....Stop! Ah! Get AWAY from that tree...the shops to get some milk

Me: Oh right have you spoken to my rubbish brother lately?

Mum: Yeah he phoned...LILY! GET OFF THE TREE!...me up yesterday to have a chat.

They have apparently decided this year that eating the tree is a good game to play. I feel this is marginally better than last year’s habit of “Any bauble near the bottom branches is fair game” but I’m not sure Mum would agree with me.

I bought them some Christmas presents the other day from Pet At Home (other people do that. Right?!) and whilst I was there picked up a red and green jester’s collar with little bells on the end of it. It was only 99p and I bought it because I knew they would freak out if I put it on either one of them, they don’t even wear normal collars, so I knew a jingly jangly number would not go down well. It went down as hilariously as I predicted. And before you call the RSPCA on me, all suffering was soon curtailed (once I’d picked myself up off the floor) and the collar removed. Fred handles it much better than Lily, I think he’s of the mind that if he just remains quiet then eventually I’ll get bored and take it off him. Lily however completely loses it, fortunately I managed to snap this picture of her before she ripped my hand off.

Tell me that isn’t hilarious.

We are feeling slightly guilty at the moment because Fred and Lily won’t be celebrating Christmas with us this year. Mum and I are driving over to my sister’s on Christmas Day so Fred and Lily will be heading into the cattery on Christmas Eve. We feel bad about it. The cattery lady is thrilled because she loves the Fred and Lily ever since they went in there when they were babies and Lily jumped on her back when she bent down to feed them. Fred and Lily...well they’re cats aren’t they, they don’t know the difference. Whatever.

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What was that? What’s all that wool doing in the background of that photo of Fred? And what’s Lily got wrapped around her? Ha. It’s my latest bit of crochet love and it’s totally allowed because I was at Mum’s so therefore couldn’t work on her stupid blanket. It’ll get a post of its own soon.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Best daughter in the world

I’m the favourite you know. Sorry but it’s true. It’s probably because I’m the youngest (and brattiest remember?) but also it could be that when Dad left it was just me and Mum so we have a bond that’s a little stronger than that my brother and sister have with her. Or maybe it’s simply because I’m the best. Or because I still live in Hull.

Who knows? But it’s still true.

I work hard to maintain my status as favourite child you know. I know the crown could be tipped off my head at any moment – my brother and sister already have extra points in the form of good jobs, owning property, being married and having offspring, that’s a pretty good headstart on me, I have to be creative.

On Friday I began to get a little worried about Mommie Dearest – she lives at the end of a cul-de-sac and had been well and truly snowed in over the past week without a hope in hell of getting her car anywhere. Add to this that one of her best friends had gone away for a week and she was a Mum in need.

Just call me arty – standing in the back garden early doors on Friday 3rd Dec, just getting the Moon and Venus in my photo. As you do.

Ridiculous amounts of snow + lack of friends about = irritable and cabin fevery Mother.

So I took the day off and trekked to see her, taking care not to slam our front door, lest the enormous snow shelf hanging above Dorothy’s bedroom window, fell and buried me alive.

Avalanche alert!

I got to Mum’s and it was pretty bad, worse than I realised, mainly because there isn’t a lot of foot traffic her way, meaning that the snow on the pavements hadn’t been stamped down like it had on my street. Once inside I set about cheering Mum up which is not an easy task when she gets in one of her doom and gloom moods. I cajoled and hustled and got her up and said we’d take a little trip to the retail park which is about 10/15 minutes away. “Come on, it’s fun!” was the phrase I repeated about 20 billion times. And so we set off on our little journey.

Mum wading through her driveway (told you it was bad).

The retail park is the other side of a huge field at the end of Mum’s road and the landscape looked particularly beautiful, I stopped briefly to admire it whilst the end of my nose fell off in the extreme cold. A quick note to say that I was woefully under-prepared for this sort of weather. I don’t own wellies (I live in the city and it never bloody snows here, why would I need them?!) and every shop has now sold out of them. I had to make do with buying a totally ineffective pair of leather ankle boots from Primark and wearing plastic bags over my socks to stop me developing trench foot. I also don’t own a hat because a) I look like a complete twat in hats and b) I have a huge bison head which doesn’t fit in any hats. However this walk over to the retail park resulted in me caving and buying a woolly number from Matalan for £6 – I’m afraid I had to go for comfort over style this time. I might look a twat but I’ll look even more stupid without ears which have fallen off due to the cold.

Pretty pretty pretty.

By the time we came back Mum’s spirits were lifted and they continued to stay that way. Although my plan was only to stay for the Friday night, I didn’t want to leave her on her own again so I stayed on Saturday and added extra points to my Favourite Child status by shovelling out her driveway. Word to the wise – shovelling snow is hard. Can’t go to the gym? Doesn’t matter if you have over a foot of snow to shovel – you’ll work up a sweat.

I left on Sunday leaving a much happier Mum, plus her friend was back and has a 4x4 so could come and take her out somewhere, much as I helped with the cabin fever, it wasn’t just company she needed, it was getting out of the house that she needed and a walk to Matalan and Asda was the best I could offer her.

I put a status update on Facebook saying that I had shovelled Mum’s drive but that she still wouldn’t be driving it anywhere because I’d have to dig up the entire road for that to happen. About 40 minutes later, my Mum got a text from my brother asking how she was and if there was anything he could do.

Mwahahahahahahahaha.

Favourite child: 1
Rubbish son: 0

Sometimes I wonder if there’s such a thing as too competitive...

Monday, 6 December 2010

The S Word

I can’t really not mention it can I? I know that you’ll all be sick of hearing snow-related posts but I feel I have to add my tuppence worth seeing as it is the most snow I’ve ever seen in my tender twenty seven years on this planet.

When I posted last Monday it was still a novelty and all was lovely in the world and bright and crisp. How I marvelled at the beauty of it all and pranced, gazelle-like in the flurries on my way to work.

Little did I know what was in store.

It was funny really because it just kept. getting. worse. Monday was pleasant, Tuesday was a little weird and by Wednesday full on chaos had broken out. By Thursday I was convinced it was never going to end, and that was before another 4 inches fell out of the sky that evening. When I woke up on Friday I felt completely freaked out.

In the back garden, early morning Friday 3rd December

It’s had a puzzling effect on people though. Snow days were pronounced throughout my work and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why. Yes a lot of snow had fallen and yes people’s cars were snowed in but in Hull the buses were still running (they were stopped once that I’m certain of last week and that was Thursday evening) and we have a pretty damn good bus service. But then it occurred to me what was wrong – I was looking at it through the eyes of a person who doesn’t have a car. I’m used to getting a bus and walking. Apparently when you do get a car nowadays it comes with a 5 year guarantee and a frontal lobotomy. It just did not occur to people that even though their car was snowed in, there were still plenty of other ways of navigating the city. I would know, I have to do it every single day regardless of the weather.

Why yes, yes I am ranting.

On Thursday afternoon I had a meeting, four of us should have been there. Three of us were there and of that three, one person was in despite a family member dying that morning and another person was in, having travelled in from the other side of the Humber Bridge, where they had it worse than we did. The one person that wasn’t there because of the snow? They live less than a mile away from the office. They should be walking in anyway so don’t get me started on them not coming in because their car (which I should also add is a 4x4 number) was snowed in.
Maud bravely ventures out.

People completely lost their heads. And you know what? Everyone needs to get a grip because you know what? This might be what the rest of winter is like? This might be what every winter is like from now on and we cannot just shut the whole country down when this happens. Man up Britain.

I won’t pretend I’m on some moral high ground here, on Wednesday when my boss told me I should go home because of the weather (he wasn’t in himself) I thought to myself “Why?!” but quite frankly, I don’t need to be told twice so I did go home and went in the garden and built a snowman. He could have been bigger but a) it was snowing whilst I was making him and b) it’s tiring building a snowman by yourself, Dorothy came out to take photos of my masterpiece and Maud did her best in a supervisory capacity but it’s really a job for more than one person.
Putting the finishing touches to Mr Creepy. I don't know why, but somehow instead of looking cute and adorable he came out looking like something out of a horror film.

Please don’t think I’m being flippant, this is seriously the worst snow I’ve seen ever. It’s been ridiculous, but come on everyone, let’s get a grip (literally as well as metaphorically, I fell over twice on the way into work today).

ALSO please note that this post only refers to those people who live in Hull and the surrounding areas, I know that places have had it much worse and bus services were stopped and people really did struggle to get in to work, please do not comment saying "Well I drive a car and the buses stopped so I couldn't get into work." A) I'm talking about Hull and B) this blog is just supposed to be a laugh, no need to get uppity.

And to prove how hilariously deep the snow has been here, I took this brilliant picture. The back story: I saw a pony, I wanted to touch it, I (like the moron I am) started to walk towards it, not noticing how far up the pony's legs the snow came and fell up to above my knees in snow. THEN I went back to reenact the event for this photo, except I wouldn't go that deep again so I just went up to my knees. I suffer for my art you know.