Sunday, 30 December 2012

Not Really Resolutions 2012 - The Results

How different things are from last year. 

My Not Really Resolutions of 2011 were, on the whole, successful and I was chock-a-block full of hopes for this year when I made my Not Really Resolutions for 2012. My goodness if I had known then what was coming I don't think I'd have bothered at all. In fact, if I knew what was coming this year I think I would have just found myself a cave and hidden until it was all over.

So needless to say, this year's Not Really Resolutions are not quite as successful as 2011's, but I've done the best I can and I actually think that this gave me something to at least aim for in what has been a shitty year.

Without further ado - this is the round-up of the Not Really Resolutions 2012.

1. Complete my France trip of 2010 album 

This was a hangover from last year's Not Really Resolutions so there was no way in all good faith that I could avoid finishing it this year. It was going to be a bit of a close call but I pulled my finger out and finally got it finished on the 14th October. 

I'm pleased I did it although it definitely would have been easier to just print the photos out and stick them in an album, I feel like I made life unnecessary difficult for myself.

But I'm pleased I did something that was a bit different by stitching on the photographs, it has made it that little bit more special. I took it home with me at Christmas to show my Dad and he really appreciated the effort I've made.

2. Furniture makeover

The idea here was to makeover/upcycle/whatever the trendy word is, two charity shop purchases that I'd made the year before - one a table and one a small chest of drawers.

I've only half completed this one - by performing a huge make over on my table which you can read all about here.

I have even bought the stuff to upcycle the chest of drawers but unfortunately time has run away with me and there's no way I'll get it done before the year is out. Guess I've already found the first thing to go on my list for next year...

3. Run 10km

Done and done - I ran the Preston 10k at the end of September and managed to fall back in love with running all at the same time. 

4. No buying of physical books for one whole year

Completed - read all about it here.

5. Learn how to do French knots and use them in an embroidered piece 

French Knots have been the bane of my life since I started dipping my toes into the field of embroidery. I looked at the instructions, I asked people to show me, but it just resulted in frustration and anger and a lot of throwing things across the room.

My salvation came in the form of the Feeling Stitchy blog - which is awesome by the way, you should read it - they had a link to a tutorial video on the Needle 'n' Thread website and after a few views I decided to be brave and give it a go.

And it worked! After a lot of swearing, and having to open a window because I was sweating, I managed to put the final touches to a Christmas present for a friend. 

 They are definitely something that requires a lot of practice. Even after practicing on a spare piece of evenweave and moved on to the real piece, there were still angry words and a few broken pieces of thread but by the time I'd done a few I was definitely getting in more of a groove and they were looking a little tidier and more uniform.

My best tip? Tension is important when making the knot, but don't get too over-zealous and  pull too hard once you've passed your needle back through the fabric - that's when you'll start swearing.

6. Use my alpaca wool 

Unfortunately not even a peep on this one. I'm still suffering from the fear when it comes to using it. I've decided to put two strands together to make it thicker to crochet with but I'm now panicking that I won't have enough to make a full blanket.

To be fair I've hardly crocheted at all this year - 2012 has been the Year of Cross Stitch - and I'm itching to get going with my hook in 2013.

7. Sell something at a craft fair 

Big fat no to this one. But I don't feel too badly, I guess you could say this one was cancelled due to life circumstances. What with losing my job, moving to Preston, being unemployed, having a crappy job, getting a new job and preparing to move out, I didn't really have time to source out a local craft fair, let alone make things in order to sell at one. 

Heck I haven't even registered at a GP yet.

8. Read 12 Classics 

Done - although you probably wouldn't know, given that I dropped doing my book reviews in 2013. I'm basically just not that good at writing book reviews I decided, I'd far rather leave it to the pros.

The list of Classics for this year then has been:

1. Northanger Abbey, 
2. The Magic Toyshop, 
3. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, 
4. Gone With the Wind, 
5. Cold Comfort Farm, 
6. The Virgin & The Gypsy, 
7. Brighton Rock, 
8. Heart of Darkness, 
9. The Turn of the Screw, 
10. Of Mice and Men, 
11. I Capture the Castle, 
12. Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde.

Worst Classic of 2012? The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - I don't even know how I made it through that dirge. Absolutely awful.

Biggest disappointment of 2012? Cold Comfort Farm - I know people will be going apeshit at me saying that, maybe I just had too high expectations because everyone loves it so much but it just didn't do it for me at all and it certainly didn't make me laugh.

Biggest surprise of 2012? Gone with the Wind - I've never even seen the film so didn't know what to expect at all and I was pleasantly surprised, I absolutely gobbled this book up, couldn't get enough of it, and although it might appear a little daunting given its size I would definitely recommend it.

Scariest Classic of 2012? The Turn of the Screw - I was chilled people. Chilled.

Favourite Classic of 2012? Toss up between I Capture the Castle and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde. Two very different books but both totally absorbing.

9. Cook/bake something new every 3 weeks 

Yeah this never happened either. probably actually did. What happened was I stopped keeping track of everything new I was making. Admittedly I stopped caring after the bad news and I found solace in eating just a whole load of crap as a way of dealing with my redundancy which was not good at all.

However, moving in with The Person re-invigorated my love of trying new things and making new things and together we've had a great time going through all my cookery books and finding new things to make - Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food has been well devoured. I know there have been weeks where I have made new things almost every day...

So I don't know - I reckon I probably did this one, but in the interests of fairness, I'll leave it unticked.

10. Keep a diary with photos for one whole year

Yeah this one was cancelled too. I'm going to say life circumstances again. In some ways maybe I should have, this year would have been interesting to document, but at the same time, I don't think it needed documenting for me to remember it.

I think I made it too difficult for myself by wanting to do photos as well - I couldn't write without the photos and when I got a backlog of photos I couldn't remember what happened. It just all got too complicated.

This one was inspired by doing Project365 in 2011 - I think I'll go back to that next year.


So there we have it. I make that Five-and-a-half out of 10 (I'm giving myself a half for number 2 as I did upcycle at least one piece of furniture) which I'm counting as a win. Anything over 50% is a win, right?

I'm giving myself a pat on the back as well - there were a few times when I thought about just surreptitiously deleting the page listing the resolutions on and pretending that I'd never really set them, hoping that no-one would call me out on it. But I'm glad that I took a deep breath and decided to plunge on regardless, it makes me feel like I've at least achieved something this year.

Now, bring it on 2013.....

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Crazy Cat Lady Part 21: The Fred & Lily at Christmas Edition

As I mentioned in my last post, a lot of Christmas travelling has taken place over the last 15 years or so. This has meant that poor Fred and Lily haven't spent a Christmas at home and have instead been farmed out to spend a festive few days at the cattery.

Now some might say they are cats and this doesn't matter to them because they have literally no idea what Christmas is but that kind of logic holds no sway with a Crazy Cat Lady and one of the things I was most looking forward to this year was having not just Christmas with the Mumsie but with Fred and Lily.

Mum has a Crazy Cat Lady friend - who would very much fit the image in your head right now of a CCL - who is lovely and looks after Fred and Lily when Mum goes away. She got Mum/the cats a Christmas present in the form of a Cat DVD. As in a DVD that you put on when you leave the house to keep the cats company - featuring tweeting birds and mice and ducks and other cats and various sound effects.

How's that for a CCL present?

We were sceptical but thought we'd put it on and were amazed when it actually worked - Fred was captivated...

Lily was watching as well, but from a more sensible distance and Fred actually got so excited about what was happening on the screen that he needed to take a closer look and eventually ended up behind the TV at one point, in an attempt to find the ducklings that had wandered off-screen.

We also buy our pets toys. Christmas is for cats too you know. And the presents are even wrapped. This year I got them an educational toy - a ball that you can put treats in and then when they hit the ball the treats will eventually come out.

Unfortunately it would appear that Fred and Lily are dim cats. They didn't figure it out at all, despite my efforts to show them and instead chose to sit and stare at the ball, in the hopes it would magically dispel treats.

Fred was obviously tired after his DVD watching and ball-staring and went upstairs and slept for most of the afternoon. Lily however seemed pretty keen to be involved in all aspects of Christmas - including Christmas dinner...

It was amazing to be back at home with these guys. I have missed them more than I can say. It's tough being a Crazy Cat Lady without an actual cat in your life. Given my crappy salary I've not been able to get home as much as I would have liked to, the train fare has been out of my reach, and it's been rubbish not being able to spend time with them.

They are just so good at being relaxed. Take this picture below of Lily on my legs on Boxing Day...

Look at how relaxed she is - look at that leg draped over mine.

What you can't see, is that at exactly the same time as Lily was relaxed to the max on my legs, Fred was relaxed to the max on my lap and chest...

And finally. It would be a post about Fred and Lily if there wasn't a picture of Lily looking totally demented. I don't know how she does it but seriously, look at her face..

Friday, 28 December 2012

Mother and Me

What I really like about Christmas is listening to other people talking about their traditions. I find it so amazing that just one week or so can result in so many different ways of doing things. From when people put their trees up, to their rituals on Christmas Eve, everyone has just a slightly different way of doing things, meaning that their Christmas is special to them.

After my Dad left when I was 16, Mum and I have only spent 2 Christmases at home. We've always ended up going to my sister's or brother's houses. Whilst this has been lovely, it has more than it's fair share of stresses and means that although it's lovely to be with family, it's never felt like my Christmas because when you're in someone else's house you're living their Christmas instead of your own.

The past 6 years or so have seen Mum and I travelling on Christmas Day down the motorways to wherever we were spending the holiday period, after years of the stress of travelling of Christmas Eve made Mum too nervy to drive when the roads were so busy. Nothing quite takes the shine out of Christmas to have to get up ridiculously early, not to open presents, but to load up the car and shoot off down the motorway (and let's not talk about Christmas 2010 when the weather was so horrific we had to stop because we couldn't see and I had a stress nosebleed all over my new Christmas oufit).

After last year's Christmas at my brother's which saw us being starved by my sister-in-law (Christmas Day is surely the one day of the year where you're not allowed to be hungry?!) Mum and I decided enough was enough - Christmas 2012 would be spent at Mum's house, just the two of us - not because we hate everyone, but because there's no room for everyone at Mum's shoebox.

There was huffing and puffing from both sister and brother but we stuck to our guns and this Christmas saw me genuinely excited for the first time in a long time for the big day. There would be no having to go to church, we would be able to open our presents when we wanted, we could get dressed or not get dressed, watch whatever we liked and eat as much as we could, when we wanted.

Christmas Eve saw me perform my own Christmas ritual - a Lush bath (Dragon's Egg - I can recommend, although it should come with a glitter warning) before slipping into new pyjamas and having a cup of tea with a mince pie.

Christmas Day passed wonderfully - presents were opened, new outfits were put on, some TV was watched, there was no stressing over the cooking of the dinner and most importantly everything was done at our own pace.

Don't get me wrong, it is nice at times to spend the day with family, especially with the wee ones, but this was one of my best Christmases in a long time. Life in general is stressful and it seems to me that at this time of year you should take some time out and really do what you want to do.

To be honest I needed it this year - as much as I look forward to Christmas, the fact that my life is going to be thrown up in the air again so soon has been looming on my horizon and has made it difficult to concentrate lately. I needed just this one day to enjoy and not have to think and worry about the rather uncertain period that's coming for me. I needed to just savour the certainty that Christmas with just Mum and me would be lovely.

And the best news? A bottle of champagne goes much further when there's only 2 of you sharing it...

Friday, 21 December 2012

Crazy Cat Lady Part 20: The Odd Socks & Pretty Frocks edition

I would never normally have called myself a particularly lucky person when it comes to competitions.

This is solely based on the fact that in all my years I never won a Blue Peter badge despite entering countless competitions - drawing endangered species to go on stamps (a Golden Eagle if you're asking), designing a Green car, etc etc - which is perhaps a perception I need to leave behind.

The scars run deep though let me tell you.

There is one person though who is doing her best to dispel these notions I have regarding my luck - her giveaways are single-handedly changing my point of view.

This person is the marvellous Alex from Odd Socks and Pretty Frocks whose December Giveaways seem to hold some kind of magic for me - as every year that I've entered for the past 3 years, I've managed to win something.

This year's giveaway was the most spectacular to date - and every day I found myself checking her page to see what new delights might be on offer for me to try and win and there was one prize in particular which caught my eye - the words Crazy Cat Lady tend to draw me in like that.

Finding out I won made a pretty crappy day bloody amazing and even better than winning was the speed with which my prizes arrived - this girl is not only generous, she's organised!

So my haul includes this gorgeous bag which not only includes cats, but includes tassels - meaning I have something to fiddle about with, namely tying knots in the tassels and then un-tying them.

I'm easily amused. It is also roomy beyond belief - there's definitely room for a book in here should I want to put one in. And why wouldn't I?

Bag detail

Second up is this ring which has pretty much been on my finger permanently since it arrived in my post-box. I like having my Crazy Cat Ladyness in a subtle form. No-one will realise just how crazy I am you see.

And last but not least is a copy of Puss in Books, featuring anecdote and stories about....well.....cats in books! It's made for dipping in and out of and whenever I fancy I pick it up and find out something new, occasionally keeping it to myself or more likely rabbiting on at The Person about my latest discovery.

If you are looking for another blog to add to your list (and even if you're not) then you should probably pop over and give Alex a visit. You should especially visit if you like, the colour green, cats, books, clothes, Irregular Choice shoes and blog posts written by a no-nonsense lady.

But if you're going to enter one of her giveaways just know who you're up against, 'kay?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

How I went a whole year without buying any books

So when I wrote my Not Really Resolutions of 2012 there was kind of mental one on there that might have seemed a little weird, namely that I was not going to buy any books in 2012.

Say what?

Basically I had far too many un-read books on my bookshelves to justify spending any more of my money buying new ones. Not only that, I just felt bad for all those books that were sitting un-read on my shelves - they were meant to be read and I quite frankly felt mean not reading them, meaning that they were unable to fulfil their purpose in life.

I managed to insert a couple of loopholes - buying books for my Kindle would be allowed - obviously they're not taking up any room - and other people were allowed to buy me books, I just couldn't spend my own hard-earned cash on them.

It proved to be easier than I thought, I just stayed clear of bookshops which put me out of temptation’s way. However, the first time I went into a bookshop in April I was floored. The smell of books nearly overwhelmed me. I am a dirty great big book sniffer and it’s the first thing I’ll do upon getting a new book off the shelf. Being in a whole shop full of books nearly knocked me out and I hurried out of there as quickly as possible so as to avoid succumbing to temptation.

Being unemployed meant that this resolution was fairly easy to stick to – I didn’t have any money to buy anything, let alone books, and I didn’t go out an awful lot – so buying books never really came into it, I just enjoyed being in reading the books I had available to me.

I have to be honest though. I managed to invent find  a couple of loopholes which allowed me to sneak a couple of books on to my shelves throughout the year.

Stephen King published a new book this year called “The Wind Through the Keyhole” and his UK publishers ran a competition – the back cover of the hardback copy of the book was going to be made up entirely of photos of SK fan’s faces. All you had to do was submit a picture of yourself and then see if you were lucky enough to be on there.

I forgot all about it until I got an e-mail with a link on it – I popped my name in and whoosh it took me to a picture of the back cover, zoomed in and in and in and boom THERE I WAS.

Now of course, you can’t see me when you look at the back cover, these photographs are obviously veeeeery tiny in order to make up the picture but I know I’m there, and given a magnifying glass, I can point myself out to you. So obviously I was allowed to buy that book – right?!

The second book to sneak on to my shelf was a result of my inability to not get suckered in to a ‘deal’. I went to buy my Dad’s wife a birthday present – she wanted Anna Karenina and it just so turned out that it was part of a buy one get one half price offer. I mean how could I not? But I cleverly got round it by roping in The Person – asking him if there was a book that he wanted as part of the offer.

When I say “asked” I mean I shoved “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” under his face and said “Oh my god, don’t you totally want to read this book?” He knew better than to disagree and so a Classic snuck on to my shelf – although really it’s not for me, The Person said that he wanted it, remember?

So I reckon only 2 books on the shelves is a win, am I right?

I know some people will read this and go “How did you do this, you call yourself a book lover?” but to my mind, I did this because I’m a book lover. I have owed it to some of those books who’ve been sat on my shelves for far too long. They needed to be read and forcing myself to read all those books has meant that I’ve discovered some books that have been sat there for a long long time. Ken Follett is a brilliant example - I’ve had The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End sat on my shelves for well over 2 years now - I've never tackled them, most probably because they’re pretty intimidating in size but I finally felt able to give them a go.

I picked up The Pillars of the Earth and did nothing for the next couple of weeks but read – and read and read. It is exactly the kind of book I love – great sweeping dynasty of a book, lots of detail, lots of character development – amazing. As soon as it was done I reached up and did the same with World Without End.

Goodness knows how long they’d have stayed on my shelf as I picked up “easier” reads in favour of them and I’m so pleased that this challenge has meant that I’ve now discovered a new author. And it also means I now have more books to add to my wanted list!

So yes it’s been rough – I walked around Waterstones the other day going “Oh my god this book is out. And this book….and…and……and…” – but I’m pleased I did it.

And no. I haven’t read all the books on my unread list, there’s probably enough on there to keep going for another year, but I don’t know that I’m that dedicated….

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

One of the worst house-sharing stories you'll ever hear.

I'm kind of gutted that I fell into a hole when all the redundancy stuff was kicking off. This is mainly because it meant that I didn't blog about The Housemates in the shared house anywhere near as much as I would have wanted to.

This is a shame because there were many stories I could have told at the time which now have either been forgotten or are just not worth telling when it's not in the heat of the moment.

However one story will unfortunately stay with me forever and I only feel it's fair to pass the horror on to you.


This story is kind of gross and I feel you should be prepared for that. If you're of a sensitive disposition there's a chance you might not want to read on. And you definitely can't blame me if your interest is now piqued so much that you read it anyway and then feel ill.

By far the most entertaining housemate was Peter Pan. When I say "entertaining" I mean, "fucking irritating". His childish, boyish ways quickly went from endearing to irritating - from saying "Oh you" and slapping him playfully on the arm, to saying "Oh you" and wanting to plant a knife very firmly in the middle of his head.

One story which effectively showcases both his total irresponsibility and complete disregard for fellow human beings goes a little as follows.

And when you read this story - please bear in mind that this person is 32 and a secondary school teacher.


It was a Thursday night. I had just spent the night cleaning the house in preparation for The Person who was coming for the weekend. Peter Pan had gone out for the night as it was the beginning of half term and that, to him, means going out and getting hammered (the same could be said for every Friday and Saturday night, staying in for the night was literally the worst thing he could think of).

I got up on Friday morning to go to work and immediately knew something was wrong. Instead of smelling clean and fresh, everything just "seemed" a little grubby in a way that I couldn't put my finger on. I got downstairs and knew that something was most definitely up. The washing up bowl was in the living room which wasn't a great sign, although it was mercifully empty.

The kitchen showed further signs of destruction - a polysterene box of chips was on the floor, and all the jars on the sideboard where strewn about.

And all the time there was a distinctly unclean smell about the place...

I knew what it was. The little shit had got so drunk that he'd been sick when he'd come in and hadn't cleaned it up properly. I immediately began the hunt, checking the kitchen sink and bin first but couldn't find the source of the unpleasantness.

And let us take a moment here to remember that this is happening at 7.15am and I am not a morning person at the best of times.

I was at a bit of a loss. And then I heard it.

The unmistakeable sound of the whirring of the fan in the downstairs toilet, meaning that the light was switched on.

"So help me god, if he's passed out in that toilet, I'm leaving him in there" I told myself.

I took hold of the door handle, bracing myself for the sight of not well cleaned up vomit, and pushed the door open...

Not vomit.

Not vomit all over our toilet.

Not vomit that was the source of the unclean smell.

Not vomit.

Do I need to say what it was or have I hinted enough? If I said that the source of the grossness was not the mouth but an orifice further down south would that be enough?

Yes really.

And the reason it was so horrific? It was not isolated to the toilet bowl. Oh no. It was all over the toilet bowl. And on the floor. And on the walls.

All this was taken in in the 2 seconds it took me to open and then shut the door again.

My first reaction was to go upstairs and literally drag him out of his bed and come and sort the mess out but two things occured to me;

1) Someone who gets so drunk they shit themselves, is not going to be in any fit state to clear up said mess at 7.15am, and
2) If this was the state of the toilet, what on earth might I be faced with in his room?

I settled for leaving the house immediately, meaning I was 45 minutes early for work because I literally could not stay in the house any longer, and leaving that bastion of housemate communication - The Note.

"I don't know what happened here, but I'm not cool with it. Someone needs to literally clean their shit up and it needs to be done by the time I'm back from work."

All day I seethed at work with the outrageousness of the situation and the unbelievable depths of disrespect that Peter Pan had shown his fellow housemates. I kept checking my phone but didn't hear word from him all day which I thought was strange, I expected an apologetic text of some kind but nothing appeared and I started to wonder if he had even got up that day to face his responsibility.

I opened the front door with some trepidation and walked through to the kitchen. Everything appeared restored to normal and the toilet was once again clean. "Well at least he's sorted it" I said to myself and decided that no more would be said about it, he must have been mortified after all.

And then I saw The Note.

My note was still lying on the table, although now, underneath it was scrawled, and I am literally quoting here,

"Like OMG Sorry!!"

Astounding. If I ever needed proof that I was living with someone with absolutely no regard for his fellow human beings this was it. He didn't even realise the enormity of what he'd done.

And where did I see him later that night?

At the pub.

For reals.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The commute

I should really be used to it by now. Complaining about it for the first couple of weeks seemed permissable, but now, 4.5 months in, I shouldn't really still be complaining about my daily commute.

But I do. Every. single. day. Don't get me wrong, I don't complain about it out loud, I don't talk about it with other people, but every morning, as I pull open the door to go outside I quite dramatically let out the biggest sigh known to man before beginning my daily trudge.

There are 2 things that people say when they find out that I walk 5.5 miles each day as part of my commute;

1) "What the fuck? Isn't there a bus you can get?"

Prompting me to bite my tongue and not say, "Oh my god I totally hadn't thought of that, I just do this shit for funsies."

2) At least you're getting lots of exercise.

This just makes me internally sigh again. Indeed it is exercise. It is exercise so thorough that I can no longer face doing what I really want to do for exercise, which is run. It is exercise which has thoroughly fucked up the trainers that I would be running in because they were kind of old to begin with and now I've walked something like 490 miles since I started my job they are well and truly knackered. It is exercise which has fucked up my back from carrying an ill-advised shoulder bag across my front each day. This is not the kind of exercise you want to do.

The only way I feel I can get through my commute is to split it into Parts - Three of them each way...

Part 1 & 6 - from The Docks to Preston Station 

Part 1 isn't that bad. Apart from the fact that I'm going to start another day in the hellhole I can mostly get through it by focusing on something else and making my brain focus on whatever podcast I'm listening to.

There's always a brief moment when my hopes get raised and my breath quickens slightly. This is at the prospect that I might see Jesus, my cat friend who lives on Christchurch Street, but he's rarely there and that means that the excitement is followed by a double whammy of disappoinment - no Jesus and I now have the walk up the mega hill that is that street.

I have a process for getting up it now. I count my strides and I'm not allowed to slow the pace - the strides can be smaller but the timing must remain the same. It means I'm a dab hand at walking up that hill now, extra incentive is added if I have someone to try and over-take. I try not to think about the parallels that could be drawn between walking up the hill and my feelings about the day ahead.

The return journey, also known as Part 6, is a doddle. It's the home stretch and it never ever feels like it takes that long. It always passes quickly and I'm happy to bob along until I get home. There's no resentment for Part 6, it means the end. It helps that I get to bounce down Christchurch Street after the daily trudge of going up it. I play Beat the Bus which helps me to feel smug about walking - if it passes me anywhere after the Ford garage I have officially beaten it, meaning that walking home hasn't really taken any longer which is a win in my books.

Part 2 & Part 5: The train

The best bit about my commute is the train. I get to Preston train station and walk up the stairs, my hand automatically reaching into my bag to pull out my pass to show to the staff at the top of the footbridge. For some reason they're the only people that I recognise after my 4.5 months of commuting. I should recognise people on Platform 2, I can't be the only person commuting, but for some reason I never see a familiar face.

It's only a 12 minute journey but I savour every moment of it. Each minute costs me 19p and I want to make sure that 19p counts for something so as soon as I'm sat down, the earphones are removed, the book comes out and I bury myself for the entirety of the journey. It is bliss, but is so shortlived and when I feel the train slowing to come in to Buckshaw Parkway my resentment levels start to rise, exacerbated when the train finally stops and the doors open to a sea of blank faces who crowd around the door even though common sense must tell them that until they let me off the train, they cannot come aboard.

The return journey, Part 5 of the commute, is almost the part that I don't think about that much. The train is always delayed, and I mean always. I officially started keeping track of it 1 month ago and in that 1 month the train has been on time...never. Actually never. The delay might only be 5-10 minutes, but when you're coming home (and you still have Part 6 of your commute to do) it is difficult to keep the sighing to a minimum.

I'm faced with the same blank sea of faceless morons when we come into Preston. Crowding round the doorway leaving no space for you to get off, only these people are now angry "I want to get home" commuters, rather than tired "I hate going into work" commuters.

I should be used to the stairs to the footbridge - which aren't quite high enough to comfortably walk up but aren't shallow enough to allow you to take two at a time - but I still haven't found a way of walking up them comfortably. I weave in and out of the people at the top of the bridge, fumbling around for their passes. I already have mine in my hand and again I wonder why I don't recognise any of the people, maybe I'm just too focused on starting Part 6 of the commute?

Part 3 & Part 4 - Buckshaw Parkway to work

Hell. These Parts are hell. Always. Every single day. Even though it's roughly the same distance as Parts 1 & 6 and doesn't take any longer, it drags. I feel like I'm walking and not getting any closer. When it's Part 3 it sucks because I'm tired of the commute now and yet I know I have 8 hours in the hellhole ahead of me. When it's Part 4 it sucks because it's just the beginning of yet another long commute home when all I want is to be at home already.

There is no more to say. It's just awful, the worst parts of my day.


But in 4 more days I will do it no more and I can't tell you how that makes my heart sing.


I know I'm not the only one that has to walk a lot each day. I know I'm not the only one that spends 2.5 hours of each day commuting. But this commute is my own personal hell and like some kind of feverish Groundhog day it has been haunting me for too long.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

How I fell in love with a gold rhino

The internet is a funny ol' place isn't it? One day you're sat around with The Stitchettes, planning the Embroidering the Truth exhibition and the next, you're helping out Mr X Stitch at the Stitch & Craft show in the Olympia in London.

For those of you not in the know Mr X Stitch is the place you need to go to if you're looking for anything vaguely contemporary when it comes to stitching/embroidering. Every day there's a new post up featuring the latest person to be at the forefront of cool stitchiness and it's the place to go if you're looking for something a little bit different, a little bit inspirational and, if you happen to be looking on a Saturday, something that might make your head spin a little bit.

Mr X is also the man behind Push: Stitchery which is an almost painfully cool book showcasing those right at the edge of art - you know, pushing things on and moving things forward. I know there are many that would love it as a Christmas present.

And if you still don't know him, you may well have seen him without realising when he appeared on Kirstie's Handmade Britain, pitting his beautiful cross-stitched silhouette of Whitby Abbey up against her appliqued cushion in the Great Yorkshire Show. (He was robbed let me tell you.)

We had such a great time last year, that when Mr X Stitch said he needed some volunteers for the Knitting & Stitching show in Harrogate, myself and another Stitchette pootled across from Preston and Hull to hang out with the coolest stitchy person I know.

This time the exhibition was biggerer and betterer than ever before. This stall featured Art with a capital Ar and as Mr X becomes more well known on the scene, he has access to cooler pieces of work than ever before and some of the pieces in the exhibition are by artists featured in the Push: Stitchery book.

For instance. What better way to grab people's attention as they walk in than with this piece:

Yes. That would be cross stitch. On a car door.

It is the phenomenal work of Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene who not only has an unpronouncable name but has a ridiculous wealth of talent.

There were so many pictures taken of this door just in the 1 day that I was at the show - it must be popping up on blogs and social media sites all over the place and I hope I see more and more of her in the future.

But he didn't just stop at car doors. Why have just a car door when you could have an actual wooden door as well?

I was transfixed by this piece of total beauty from Manchester based artist Sarah Greaves - I spent a huge amount of time encouraging people to look behind the door as people were assuming that this was in some way stuck on the door and couldn't comprehend that this is 100% embroidery on wood - there are wee tiny little holes in there that she has made.

My head cannot get around it.

I should also mention at this point that I fell in love with a piece. And I really mean fell in love with. I couldn't leave him alone and stood jealously beside him any opportunity I got, sneering at those who pretended to like him when they couldn't conjure up a fraction of my feelings towards him.

Meet Humphrey.

Please note this is not his real name, merely the name I gave him. His show name is Gold Rhino and he is the work of Zoe Williams, a person, who I'm pretty sure if I ever met I would swoon away, overcome by the waves of talent that must emanate from her body.

Believe it or not, this is needle felting. No. I can't believe it either. I've seen people do a bit of needle felting and it looks fun - stabbing things very hard with a needle is the kind of craft I could get on board with - but never in all my days would I have thought that something as stunningly beautiful as this could be produced.

I swear I actually miss him now that I'm back home. Who needs a deer head?

These are just three of the artists with pieces on display at the show and I fear I have lost many of you already so I will stop gushing here. But if you were interested in some of the other pieces that were on display you can go here for a full list.

It was a day for enjoying people. For sitting or standing and chatting to people about a shared love - that of stitchiness. It was great to watch people being amazed by the car door or standing back to admire the various pieces and stopping to have a chat about how blown away they were by what they were seeing and all the idea they now had in their head floating about.

Places like the Knitting & Stitching show can tend towards the traditional shall we say and it felt good to be a very minor part of something new and a bit different.

So here's to Mr X Stitch and all those people who continue to be at the Stitchy edge of things, bringing a little bit of magic to common folk like me.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Always be prepared

The Person appears in from Morrisons....

Me: Whatcha been buying?

The Person: Well. I bought some food stuff and then I've been thinking that we really should have an emergency box of some kind for if there was a power cut or something. So I've bought a plastic box and a couple of torches and some batteries and I'm going to get some candles and put a first aid kit in there too.


Me: Are you, or are you not, preparing for a zombie apocalypse?

The Person: ......Erm.....

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Christmas excess

Overheard conversation in the kitchen at work.

"What are you getting your son for Christmas?"

"An X-box"

"Oh does he not have one?"

"No. He's got a Wii and a DS and he got a laptop last year. He wanted an iPad but I thought no, I mean he got £500 worth of Dell laptop, he doesn't need an iPad."

"Yeah. So where will the X-box go then, have you got a room for it to go in?"

"Oh no it'll go in his bedroom. I mean he is 9 now...."

*And then my head exploded*

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Things that have been happening round here.

A whole lot of nothing and everything really.

- I have awesome friends and they came to see me in Preston for a night out on the town. I'm not normally one for doing the girly stuff and spending ages getting ready just to go out and get pissed and sweaty but having 3 other people around made it kind of fun. There was much waving about of curling tongs, straighteners and crimpers* and the smell of nail polish in the air whilst we got ready. Spare a thought for The Person who had 4 girls squished into his tiny flat, relegating him to the sofa for the night.

- *Yeah. You read right. Crimpers. I've had them for a looooooong time (obviously) and have never used them but just lately I've been getting the urge and this Saturday was the night to crack them out. I started with a plan to just do a few sections here and there, you know, staying classy. But in the end I did my whole freaking hair. Best. Decision. I. Ever. Made. Big hair is the way forward people I'm telling you.

- I also tried out some nail stickers. These have most likely been out for a long time but I tend to be very slow on the uptake with these things. Models Own had a 50% online sale a while ago and I chucked some in the basket as an afterthought. They're actually pretty good - once I'd figured out what the hell I was supposed to be doing. Get your own here if you fancy it. Unfortunately I haven't got a good photo of them on so a bad one will have to suffice instead.

- I am feeling awesome about having handed my notice in to work. That was a good day let me tell you. I would like to say that I've now stuck two fingers up at them and am slacking off but unfortunately I have a pretty decent work ethic and given that our productivity is measured this means that I've still been working like a dog.

- And no. I'm not getting on better with my colleagues. Although at least some of them are now talking to me which is a bonus.

- Having your productivity measured can be a blessing and a curse. But when it's good it means that you feel great - the other day I got 131% - I am beating time people!

- I just did some overtime at work - working an 8am-8pm shift. Someone asked me if I get time and a half for overtime. After I'd picked myself up laughing from the floor I explained that no I do not. This company doesn't pay you sick pay, of course it doesn't pay you extra for working more hours.

- I have mostly been spending my time watching the Spice Kittens. A friend passed me the link and it's been on my laptop ever since. For those not in the know - this is a livestream of 4 kittens in a pen who live in Seattle. I kind of feel like I don't need to say anymore...

- ...but I will. I especially love them because there are some Fred and Lily lookalikes in the pen. It leaves me confused - on the one hand I am excited because I get to watch kittens all the time and pretend they're mine. On the other hand I then remember that I don't have cats. Sad face.

- I'm getting excited about the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate. I am going to be there on Saturday helping out Mr X Stitch who has a stall there. For those not in the know, Mr X Stitch is the man bringing you the latest stuff from the world of contemporary cross stitch and needlecraft - pretty pictures of flowers this ain't - awesomeness it is. Come and say hello if you're there on Saturday!

- The Person has been signed off sick at the moment because of a bout of RSI in his shoulder as a result of using his computer too much. He now understands what it was like for me all the time that I was unemployed and why I would be so excited when he came home from work and paw at him like a spider monkey. Being off work is dullsville.

- I'm trying to ignore the fact that Christmas is soon and I haven't bought any presents. Nor do I have any money. Or any time to actually make anything. If I think hard enough about it I can just pretend it's not happening.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Changes afoot

So for those of you who are not on Twitter and might have missed my news...

I have a job!

It all happened kind of suddenly and was a little bit out of the blue and I haven't really had time to process it all myself because it is going to mean some big changes for me but I will try and tell you as much as I can as well as anticipating some of the questions people might have about me.

I am basically going to be starting a new job as a PA to the Group Directors of the company my sister works for. This position doesn't currently exist in the company and when my sister happened to be talking to the big honcho about my current employment situation he asked if she thought I would be interested in the position.

So on Friday I went down to see my sister where she lives in the Midlands and go and have a bit of a chat with said big honcho. It was a strange situation because it was a job interview and yet not a job interview at the time - I went in and talked about what I've done and what I thought I could offer and he talked about the role a bit, and 10 minutes later  I was back at my sister's desk and being told I had a job.


It's a strange feeling because I haven't had all that build up of applying for the job and waiting to hear about an interview and attending an interview and then wondering if you'll get the job. It just doesn't feel quite right at the moment and even though I've signed the contract, it still feels a little unreal.

And now I will attempt to answer questions...

Wait a minute. I thought you wanted to do research, how have you ended up as a PA?

I do/did want to do research. However my experience over the last 6 months, couple with talking to a couple of people has made me realise that it's just really unlikely/never going to happen. I'm stuck in a catch-22 where universities won't hire me because of my lack of academic experience, yet are unwilling to give me a job that will allow me to get that experience. Plus, universities are notorious for hiring from within which means I wasn't standing a chance from the get go.

And although I won't be doing research, I will be using all of my very best anal organised skills to do my job.

When do you start and where will you live?

My first day will be 2nd January 2013 and I will be moving in with my sister's family on New Year's Day. For the first time in my blogging life I'm going to be coy about where exactly I'll be living because it's pretty tiny. It is in Leicestershire though - will that do you?

The thought of moving in with my sister's family is a mildly terrifying prospect. The last time I lived with my sister was when I was a very small person, she left to go to uni when I was 5 and I've never lived with her since. Plus she will also be one of my bosses, as she is one of the Directors of the company. And obviously I'm also moving in with my brother-in-law, 2 teenage nephews, 2 Irish Setters and a cat* which is equally daunting.

I'm actually not really thinking about that aspect of my new life.

Woah woah woah. What about The Person?!

Aah yes. As you may have guessed from my answer to the last question The Person will not be moving with me at the beginning of the year. He will be staying in Preston for the time being until he can find a job in the vicinity and we can get our little selves back living together. The good thing about being in the Midlands is that, you know, you're in the Midlands which should mean a few more options work-wise. We will just all have to keep our fingers crossed until he finds a new job.

I know that some people might find me making the decision to take this job and move away from The Person I bit strange, but we're still young and this an opportunity I couldn't turn down, I wouldn't be able to get this kind of job anywhere else without proving I had experience.

He's happy for me too. It's not been easy for him having to watch me be so miserable in a job I truly hate and I think that given the choice between having a girlfriend who is miserable who lives with him and a girlfriend who's much happier but has to live away from him for a little bit, he's happy to go with Option b.

Plus it isn't like we haven't done the long distance thing before - and when I move we'll be pretty much the same distance apart as when I was in Hull and he was in Preston.

Ewww don't you feel a bit grubby that you got this job through nepotism?

Yes I do a little bit. It's not something that makes me feel particularly comfortable and it's not how I necessarily wanted to get a job. But at the end of the day, it's an opportunity and I think I'd be a little bit tapped in the head if I turned it down - I've heard that there's no point cutting your nose off to spite your face.

Also this is not a company that I will be able to stay in purely because my sister is a Director. I'm on a 6 month probationary period and if I'm not up to scratch then I won't be allowed to stay on. If anything I'm more determined to prove myself - plus it helps that I don't look anything like my sister and we don't share the same name so not everyone will necessarily know the deal.

What about your current work - why don't you sue the bastards for constructive dismissal?!

Things have been pretty unpleasant for me at work since I tackled my bullies head on. They have taken it seriously and the main protagonist was moved to a different team but there is still bad feeling there. (On her part I hasten to add.) This has also spread to the team - goodness knows what she's told them - so for pretty much all of last week no-one has been speaking to me. Not good.

I have contemplated and even spoken to some people about whether it would be worth taking them to a tribunal and there's probably a chance I would do well out of it but I'm not going to. At the end of the day, that job was never supposed to be permanent so I can't a get a bee in my bonnet about leaving. I've fought the battle I wanted to fight and it's enough for me that someone will now be watching Her and won't allow Her to do the same to others in the future.

Handing in my notice today was one of the best feelings ever. I've given them my 4 weeks notice so I'll be leaving on Friday 14th December. Yes this means I'll be short of cash for the next couple of months because I won't be paid again until the end of January but there is nothing on this planet that could persuade me to stay for longer. In fact technically I could have left on Tuesday 11st December, but my need to have things neat means that the prospect of leaving a job mid-week hurts my brain a little. So a Friday it will be.

Are you excited?!

It's probably fairer to say I'm absolutely shitting it. This job is a huge challenge and I'm really terrified about it - for a while now I've not been challenged in the jobs I've been doing and especially for the last 6 months being unemployed and then in a brainless job I'm pretty sure I've lost any skills I might have once had.

But yeah, I'm excited.

Did I do it? Did I answer all of the questions?!

*I know! I'll be living with a cat! How exciting. But wait. No it isn't, because Blinky is officially the meanest cat in the history of mean cats and hates everyone and won't let you near her. For god's sake!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

How I ended up being nearly 30 and bullied

At first I really thought I was imagining it. 

It was to be expected - as the new person you feel conspicuous and it's probably normal to not be sure whether people like you or how you're coming across.

So when I suspected that one person one my team had a bit of a problem with me I decided to put it to the back of my head. Sure it seemed to me that if I tried to join in a conversation she was having with someone else she would immediately stop talking. Sure it seemed that when she did talk to me directly it was to tell me that I was doing something wrong. Sure she didn't really seem to say hello or goodbye to me. But to be honest the job is so massively pressurised and demanding that I just didn't have much time to really think about it.

The point I realised it wasn't just in my head was when a team member came in one morning and announced he and his girlfriend were having a baby. He produced a scan picture which he handed to Her. We all chattered excitedly asking when it was due/what did they want/how long had they known etc etc. She looked at the scan and as I sat next to her I held out my hand to look at the blurry black and white picture. At which point She got up and walked around the back of me and handed it to our team leader.

Hmm. Strange.

Then there was the actual real-life note passing that happened. Yes I am being serious. She wrote a note about something and passed it to the other people on the team. Not to me though. I'm confident it wasn't anything about me - it was just something that I wasn't allowed to know about.

But I still didn't really work out what it was she was doing. I felt like I should know. Like there should be a name for it but I couldn't quite grasp at what that was.

And to be honest I was so busy trying to do my job that I didn't really care. I just thought She was a bitch  that should really know better, considering she was pushing 50.

Then there was Cakegate. She brought in cake and shared it out with everyone. No wait. Not quite everyone. Everyone but me. At first I was too stunned to really be upset about it - I could only laugh about it because it was so unbelievable to me that someone could do something like that.

And let me tell you, Cakegate didn't just happen once. It didn't even happen two or three times, it was at least once a week.

Then there was Phonegate.

There are various lines at work that you log in to - you log into your group-line so you can receive calls direct from your solicitors and then there's a main-line, which, as it suggests means you take calls from the main number and put them through accordingly. As a new starter you're not logged on to the phones in the beginning until you find your feet. A few weeks ago my team leader asked me to log into the group-line as a start off and that's what I've been doing.

So when I came back from my lunch on Wednesday and suddenly began getting calls from other solicitors I thought something a little weird was going on. It wasn't a big deal, funnily enough I'm capable of coping with some phone calls, what with me not being a complete idiot, but then I realised...

Whilst I was sat in that miserable little kitchen eating my miserable lunch and whiling away my miserable half hour lunchbreak, someone had got up, gone over to my phone and logged me into the main-line.

I felt grubby. The thought that unbeknownst to me there had been people bitching about me openly and then essentially victimizing me. And we're in an open plan office so it wouldn't have just been my "teammates" it would have been people on other teams that saw what happened. And then, when I walked back to my desk everyone would have been looking at me and I was completely unaware. It was a truly horrible feeling.

That night I was on the phone with my sister and told her about all the things that had been happening. Truth be told I was telling her because I knew that she would most likely tell me to stop being so silly and sensitive and just get on with it but she knocked the stuffing out of me when she said "That's workplace bullying. You should start keeping a log and you need to talk to someone."

Wait. What?

Holy shit it was bullying. That feeling of being deliberately excluded from a group. That feeling that people are out to get you. That sick feeling that you get every morning before you walk in. Those aren't just normal "I work in a crappy job" feelings, they are the feelings of a victim.

Nearly 30 and being bullied. I couldn't believe it.

And then I thought "Actually, fuck that. I am nearly 30 and I am most certainly not being bullied." 

That night I sat down and wrote an e-mail to my team leader expressing my disappointment about Phonegate and the general things that had being going on. I didn't mention the B-word, I thought I would let Her actions speak for themselves.

I wasn't really sure how seriously the e-mail would be taken. After all this is not a particularly employee focused company - they don't even pay you when you're sick for goodness' sake. But I was to be surprised, because the next day I went into a meeting with my team leader and she told me how mortified she was to get my e-mail because she had had no idea that the tampering with my phone had happened. Not only were they bullying me but they were showing our team leader massive levels of disrespect - after all it was up to her whether or not I went on the mainline. She told me she was going to find out who had done it and would be speaking to our line manager about the situation.

On Friday I was called into a meeting with my line manager who again reiterated how incredibly annoyed they were with Her and that they were so sorry that I'd been upset and been unhappy. My manager told me that She was going to be moved teams as a punishment for Her behaviour but asked if I would like to move teams. I did contemplate it because I thought it might be easier but then I thought "Why should I? I've done nothing wrong" so I declined the offer.

Then She was taken upstairs. I was actually shaking because I had no idea what was going to happen. I remained rigid in my chair. I knew she was back down but I don't face her so couldn't see her. Her snivelling told me she was there however and the snivelling continued for the 2 hours I had left at work. It was horrendous.

And of course now no-one else is speaking to me.

I went home feeling horrendous. This wasn't really a battle I wanted to fight in the first place and by confronting the bullying I had now placed myself in an even more awful situation. But I've decided to look at it long term. I can't believe this behaviour is for me and me only, I imagine she does it to every new starter and has done it to others in the past. And they might be wee 17/18 year olds in their first jobs who won't be as brave as me. Now at least they will be watching Her so She can't do it again.

My whole weekend has been awful. I can only imagine how awful the atmosphere is going to be when I walk in tomorrow and I really don't feel brave enough to face it at the moment. 

But I have no choice but to go in and face my fate whilst all the time questioning - what on earth have I done to deserve all of this?

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The time I ran my first 10k

So now that Running and I were back on track and having the relationship of our lives, I knew it was time to take it to the next level.

I'd set myself a Not Really Resolution of running 10km this year. And I'd specifically said that I wasn't going to enter a race because I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself. But I soon realised that although Running and I were getting on again, I needed something to push me or else we'd just stay stuck in the same 5km rut forever.

As luck would have it, Preston was holding a 10km race at the end of September and after much umming and aahing I decided to just go for it and book my spot and see how it would go.

I did keep meaning to train but the closing in of the nights, plus getting a job that means I walk a ridiculous amount every day, plus the rain, plus my general tendency towards idleness meant that training was non-existent tough-going. I managed to get to 7.5km one night which was great and then I made it up to 8km another night and I was feeling pretty good.

Then I got sick with the mean bug that has struck everyone down and in the 2 weeks before the race I managed one 5k run and that didn't go too well. I resigned myself to the fact that the race wasn't going to be where my 10k was going to happen.

One thing I did discover during the rekindling of my love affair with Running - I don't really like running to music. I get stressed out and distracted and start counting how many songs I've listened to and what the next song is and running to keep to the beat of the song, it just doesn't do it for me. The main problem I have with running is that I spend the whole time in a battle with my mind. It's just so mean to me from about 3km onwards it starts up moaning and then it begins;

"You're too tired. If you're too tired now and you've got to run even further then how are you ever going to run 10k? Maybe you should just stop now and oh my god you can't even breathe properly and wait do your knees hurt a bit, you should probably stop and good god aren't you running so slowly that you're basically walking? You should probably just stop now."

And this will continue until eventually I get to 5k and succumb to the voice. So I figured that I needed a distraction - music clearly wasn't cutting it.

Enter Desert Island Discs...

I have many of these podcasts downloaded to my iPod. And guess what? They're about 35 minutes each. And guess what? That's about how long it takes me to run 5km.

Hey. I never said I could run fast people.

So when I was at the startline of the Preston 10k I was there, iPod in hand, podcast cued up, ready to run.

Goldie Hawn kept me company for the first 5km. And I was glad of her because oh good god people weren't joking about the hills. I thought there was one hill I had to contend with, but pretty much from the get go I realised this was going to be tough. I'm not made for hills. I'm not used to hills. I don't do hills. I hadn't even noticed Preston city centre was that bloody hilly before - but I and my legs can assure you that it is.

I had made a promise to myself that I would try and get to 8km. Anything after that was a bonus. I wasn't going to beat myself up about it, I'd never run 10km before and I'd been ill and this course was frankly a little bitch. It wasn't really a course that was very geared up towards spectators either, which made it a kind of lonely experience, you need to know people are cheering you on I think.

I tried to not feel like the biggest loser alive when all the other people were running past me, I just kept my head down, listened to Goldie Hawn and did what I had to do.

Once Goldie was done and castaway, I turned to Mary Berry for help and I think she was what I needed. No nonsense Mary was the calming voice in my ear through the next 5km or so - keeping me company along the banks of the River Ribble and up the many ridiculous hills of Avenham Park.

The last hill is a joke. There are not even words to describe how steep it is. I struggle to walk up it normally. I can't say that what I was doing was "running" up it, more of a squatting waddle whilst vigourously pumping my arms, and by the time I got to the top, even though I wasn't entirely sure my legs were still attached to my body, I realised that I'd surpassed the challenge I set myself and had done over 8km. In fact, I was pretty much at 9km, and if I'd come this far....

The head went down. The arms pumped a little bit more. Mary Berry came to an end and Florence + The Machine entered stage right to see me through the final few minutes.

And a mere 1 hour and 18 minutes (I know. Don't laugh.) after I'd started out, I hopped over the finish line.

And pulled this face...

No it wasn't fast and no it definitely wasn't graceful. But it was done. And I could even tell you that I enjoyed it and I wouldn't really be lying.

And before you ask. No I will not be doing a half marathon next. I am not even a little bit tempted. 10k is good enough for me and I think this is where I'll stick and settle myself down. Long enough that it's a challenge, not so long that the training takes over your life and your body gets ruined.

Man it feels good to at least get one of those things cross off my Not Really Resolutions list. It's not going to be a good year Not Really Resolutions-wise...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

How Running and I fell out (and then got back together)

Running and I had a pretty major falling out at the beginning of this year. Like a serious shouting, screaming, throwing things at each other falling out.

I didn't really understand how our relationship had got to that point - for years and years we'd hated each other, couldn't loathe to have anything to do with another but then we'd turned a corner and realised that actually we got on pretty well. In fact, we got on really well. Before I knew it we were having early morning and late evening get togethers. We were out on weekends together and frolicking in the rain. We even ran the Race for Life last year and celebrated afterwards.

I liked the way that Running made me feel. He made me feel good about myself. I felt energised and healthy and he played a huge part in helping me lose all my weight. I was so excited about our relationship that I ignored the major huge flashing warning signs that kept cropping up...

...Shin splints.

Many people get them and many people complain of them and everyone has them in varying degrees. I had killer shin splints. And only in my left leg. When it flared up I couldn't even have my trousers resting against them, let alone an ice pack, the swelling was gross and even when I could bear to touch them, a lump would remain. I saw a podiatrist, who gave me some insoles. I saw a physiotherapist, who gave me some exercises.

It was basically couple's therapy. And Running and I failed at it. The pain got too bad, having to start again at the beginning each time  they flared up was too irritating and eventually Running and I parted ways.

But I just couldn't give up on him. Especially seeing as I'd made a Not Really Resolution this year to run 10k and even more especially because my weight was slowly piling back on and I was going to 10ton tessie before I knew where I was.

Who knew that unemployment would have a silver lining? I suddenly had plenty of time to go out and have a run. I even lived near the Docks, which handily is 2.5km around the perimeter - almost a sign some would say.

So I did what I knew I had to and started from the very beginning. I spent a week only running 1km. Then ran 2.5km. Then ran 3.5km and before I knew it, I was back not only running 5km. It was a long and difficult journey that Running and I took though. It wasn't easy. Back last year, when I first started running, all I was doing was improving and therefore had the incentive to carry on, now I was back at the beginning again it was tough because my brain was vicious and would spend the whole time screaming at me, "YOU SUCK! YOU USED TO BE ABLE TO RUN 5KM AND NOW YOU CAN ONLY DO 3.5KM. GIVE UP GIVE UP GIVE UP GIVE UP."

For reals. My brain is well tough on me sometimes.

But Running and I stuck together through thick and thin and before I knew it our relationship was back on track again. And even better, I was running and not experiencing any issues with my shin splints.

I am at a complete loss to explain why my shin splints have gone away. Maybe all the professionals were right and I really did just need to be patient and build up slowly. However I much prefer my theory that the pavements in Preston are somehow squishier than those in Hull. It's just more fun that way.

Running and I soon found ourselves in such a good place that we knew we could take it to the next level and before I knew it - I had 10k in my sights....

To be continued...