Friday, 31 May 2013

End Game - BEDM Day 31

Ok. Hands up. Who didn't think I would make it all the way through?

 * raises own hand*

Can we all just take a moment to savour the fact that this is my 31st post in a month?!

I blogged every day in May!!

I'll tell you what though, it wasn't as tough as I thought It would be. It's just a vase of being organised isn't it, and I'd be pretty much the worst PA ever if I wasn't at least a little bit organised.

I think that's the main thing I've learned from BEDM - just sit the bloody hell down and get on with it and write the damn post. Too often I'm thinking 'Ooh I could write about this... oooh though wait, his will I say it? Yeah I'll just come back to that one." Or I'm fannying about not taking photos. Having to post every day meant that I had to just sort my shit out, sit down and get on with it.

 Yes it took some time but eventually the words came and I'm glad I've learned that lesson. I need to trust myself more that I can get the job done if I just give myself time. Set aside at least one night in the week and focus.

 I've found some great new blogs as a result of the BEDM hashtag on Twitter - that was a cool side effect. I need to find a hashtag that I can use on Twitter all the time that will help me find cool blogs. Easier said than done though, I don't feel I fit into the hashtags that are currently used on Twitter.

Which brings me onto the next thing I feel I've gained from BEDM.

It's a cheesy one I'm afraid.

I've gained confidence in my blog. I've said a billion times now at I cont know where my blog fits in in e grand scheme of things a d that I'm not sure where I belong or if I'm really doing the right thing. This experience has shown me that I'm doing a good job of blogging. For as many of the new blogs that I found and enjoyed reading as a result of BEDM there were 10 that saw me roll my eyes and want to scream "That's not blogging!"

 But who am I to judge that?

What I mean to say is I'm comfortable in my blogging skin, doing what I do.

And the main reason I know that is because of all you guys who have taken the time to comment and let me know what you like and that you enjoy reading. I'm giving you all an awkward stranger hug right now.

I should wrap this up before you a) vomit and/or b) think I'm a self-obsessed arse.

So things I have learned from BEDM in a nutshell?

a) Set time aside to just sit and write and stop procastinating
b) New blogs to read yay
c) I like my blogging and writing style
d) I like it when nice people leave me nice comments

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A huge thank you needs to go to Rosalilium for organising BEDM and keeping everyone motivated and most importantly for providing a topic to talk about every day. I may have gone rogue quite a bit and done my own thing but I did do quite a few of them and I think I'd have been quite lost without the topics as a guide to go to.

I'd have had to have resorted to a lot more pictures of cats for a start, let me tell you.


Thursday, 30 May 2013

May Project 365 Round-Up

"Woah. What's going on here then? You can't post a round up of May's Project 365 photos before May's even finished!"

Well yes I bloody can. It's my blog and I'll do what I want to. Especially when I have blogged every. single. day in May and am feeling fatigued and need an easy post.

If today and tomorrow's photos are really amazing, I'll give them a post all of their own, I promise.


May
Clockwise L-R: Blackpool baby yeah; Rosie on a wall; crocheted elephant; Coke bottle with my name on it; Lily cat; Hull 10km that wasn't

26th May - Oh I do like to be beside the seaside! Especially when it involves eating fish and chips, gawping at people, getting accidentally burned, freezing my feet in the Irish Sea and drinking a bucket of gin. Read all about it here.

1st May - Rosie is a funny old one. She doesn't really enjoy being on four legs you know. She can always be found up on her hind legs at the kitchen counters, up on her hind legs asking for a hug, and here, up on her hind legs on the wall that overlooks the castle when I took her for a walk.

13th May - I crocheted an elephant everyone! Aren't I a clever monkey. Not the people who wrote the pattern they're not clever at all, but I am the clever one for following it correctly and producing an elephant. That doesn't stand....but let's not dwell on that.

8th May - "Oooh look at me, I'm all sneery and so sick of seeing Coke bottles with people's names on them" - is something you will hear me say never. I think it was a great idea and it makes me smile and I don't even feel bad about it. Instead I feel bad for the souls who cannot find the joy in anything in life. The one drawback to Coca Cola's idea? People like me who are a bit weird and now can't buy the bottle unless it has either my name on it or someone who is connected to me's name on it. I don't want to drink Amy's bottle of Coke, that's just weird.

18th May - It is hard to get a photo of Lily where she doesn't look either deranged, massively overweight or as if she's descended from bats. It turns out the secret is to take a picture of only head, from side on so you can't see the size of her ears or her crazed eyes. I like to think this is how they take pictures of Kate Moss too - I bet she looks deranged from certain angles too.

19th May - How could I not include this photo? Let us all revel in the delight that was the Hull 10km that actually wasn't a 10km. I've pretty much given up complaining about it now, mostly because I've run out of people that haven't heard the story. However this t-shirt is wonderful - it's a good size it's a nice colour and doesn't make me feel all gross when I run. I'll take my good t-shirt with lies written all over it and go and run a 10km somewhere else thank you very much.

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

This is quite the achievement. Not only have I got to the end of May and managed to blog every day - I've also managed to make it 5 months taking photos every day when I actually haven't got a life at the moment. 

High five!

All Project 365 photos can be found here on Flickr. Don't let the new layout throw you out and give you a headache like it did to me.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Morning Ritual - BEDM Day 29

Oh yeah - hi BEDM topics. I kind of went a bit rogue for a week or so there didn't I?

I couldn't miss this one though, mainly because it'll be the easiest post I've ever written.

I don't do mornings. Mornings and I are not friends. I begrudgingly accept Morning's presence and the necessity for its existence but I have no particular desire to embrace it with open arms and sing about its wonder.

In fact I don't want to speak at all in the morning.

My younger nephew are alike in this respect. We get up at the same time each morning and not a word is said between us. At any other time of the day not being greeted when I walk into the kitchen wouldn't earn him any Brownie points whatsoever. In the morning I'm thankful that there is no need to deal with a chattering monkey in my face. We know the deal - this is morning and it is to be gotten through and we can do this silently.

Breakfast I guess is part of my morning routine. I don't understand how people can skip breakfast. Actually, my stomach doesn't understand how you can. It knows when I've woken up and it gets mad if I don't feed it quickly. If I go to work without breakfast, I'll get to 9am and feel very very ill and queasy. In fact, there have been days where I've woken up late and felt sick because my stomach is pissed that it hasn't been fed. Breakfast is a must although I'm not fussy about what happens. Cereal is my choice just because it's quick - I can't be doing with waiting for toast to pop or waiting for porridge in the microwave - bowl out, cereal in, milk on top, spoon - done. Let's just keep it simple in the mornings, yeah?

The only person I do deign to speak to in the morning isn't really a person at all. It's Rosie. Every morning when I come down the stairs she meets me at the bottom and leaps up at me to plant her front paws on my chest and be stroked. I actually like that I don't even have to bend down to greet her - she comes up to my level. Anything that is that happy is hard to ignore, although when I say "speak" to her, I don't really think it is classed as speech - I just make sounds - which is as good as you're going to get from me.

There is no grand getting ready routine. I put make-up on, although if I thought I could get away with it I wouldn't. And to be fair it's not really a heavy-handed make-up routine - slap some BB cream on, slap blusher on, bit of eyeliner on my bottom lids (can't be arsed to do the top), bit of mascara - boom, ready in 5 minutes.

I don't want to listen to a cheery tune to get my morning started. I don't need a cheery tune to get my morning started. My morning is started - I'm up aren't I? Must I be cheery and full of beans on top of it? Can't I just be?

Like a lizard, I warm up once I've had time to adjust to the morning and have basked in its presence for awhile. I'm at my most productive first thing in the morning when I don't want to talk to anyone and can keep my head down and get on with things. By 10.30am I'm ready for my first cup of tea and ready to converse - and productivity takes a nose-dive.

I would love to be a morning person but it's never going to happen, and whilst I think it's lovely that you are a morning person, I'm going to need you to keep your morning person-ness out of my face until break-time - kay?


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Beside the Seaside

You know what's good about living in Preston.

Besides parks that have hills you can roll down obviously?

It's only a wee 30-odd minute train journey from the mecca that is Blackpool.

Bank Holiday Sunday was full of the sun again and The Person and I know not to look a sun-horse in the mouth and took ourselves off to Preston station, paid our £8.10 and headed off to wonderland.


I hear a lot of bad stuff about Blackpool and some of it may be true. I have yet to experience a night out in Blackpool which is probably what colours a lot of people's notions about it. But for me it is glorious.

Stay right by the front, don't bother crossing the road (except when you need to visit all the Poundland shops to buy a pair of sunglasses because you left yours at home) and just delight in walking along by the front. It is clean as a whistle, and with the sun shining and the smell of fish and chips in the air I have absolutely no idea why anyone would have a bad word to say about the place.

It's been a long while since I've been to Blackpool - almost three years in fact. The biggest addition is the Comedy Carpet which left me absolutely gobsmacked. I'd heard about it, but had no idea just how big it was. We spent ages, wandering over it, laughing, beckoning to each other to come over and read something we recognised - it was a brilliant idea and whoever was in charge of commissioning it should be given a round of applause.


Just ever so slightly less new is North Pier which we took a stroll down a couple of times because once just wasn't enough. As the old-time songs wafted past our ears from the speakers and we looked at the sweet old couples sat on the benches, The Person came over all romantical and told me he loved me. I'm putting this down here because he will deny it ever happened and I will show him this post and go HA. YOU LOVE ME. and then we will go about our ways.

Some of it was naff. In fact a lot of it was naff, including the guy who beckoned us over to the stall where you throw darts into playing cards saying "Come and have a go and win your girl a teddy". That nearly made the feminist inside me rise up and bite - I was tempted to take up the darts and throw them myself but remembered at the last minute that I can't throw darts and probably wouldn't prove a point worth making.

As we wandered along The Person said to me "This is funny isn't it? Because we're enjoying it in an ironic way and also, just enjoying it."

And enjoy it we did. The Person is blase about the sea because he grew up with it literally at the end of his street. I grew up about an hour away from the sea (let's say it again in case some of us are new and some of us have forgotten - Hull is not on the sea. It's on an estuary. Trust me, you don't want to go swimming in it.) and hence behave like an excitable Jack Russell when I get near it, immediately wanting to get in it and paddle about and feel the sand between my toes.

How I know I'm a blogger - I take photos of my feet in water

The Person feels this need much less. When the sea is on your doorstep you know you don't need to go in it at all costs - especially when it's the end of May and the Irish Sea is approximately -3 degrees. Whatevs. You lose all feeling in your feet after a while when it's that cold anyway.

We also found the holy grail on our wanders. A bar that is literally on the sea front and isn't tacky. The Beach House was lovely and although we didn't eat there (why would you when you can get a chippy from a stall?) the food did look lovely. The Person drank his pint and I drank my bucket of gin (seriously. Put cucumber in your gin and tonic. It will change your life. Also. Drink Hendricks gin. It is out of this world.) and yeah it wasn't the cheapest round I've ever bought but it was worth it to sit and look at the sea and gawp and judge people's bad parenting skills.


We took our frazzled little, slightly sunburned selves back on the train and collapsed on the sofa for the rest of the evening.

With Bank Holidays like this it almost makes it worth working for a living.


Monday, 27 May 2013

Rollin'

I feel like we can't really complain you know. Yes the weather has been atrocious just recently, it really has been ridiculous. But we've had two Bank Holidays in May and both have been filled with glorious sunshine.* (See the early May Bank Holiday post here) You have to give the weather credit for that. I am anyway - I don't want to anger it and seem ungrateful and be punished with an even worse summer than last year.

This Saturday The Person and I had to head into town on a little shopping errand. The Person had an unfortunate incident earlier in the week which saw him completely rip the crotch of his work trousers - apparently the act of getting out of a car was too much for his trouser seam, which ripped to reveal a hole so big you can fit your fist through it.

But I digress.

We were in town, the sun was shining and trousers bought, we had no other plans for the rest of the day.

This bright spark here came up with a smart idea. We would go and get sandwiches and go to Avenham Park, possibly my most favourite place in Preston, and sit in the sun for the afternoon.


And so we did. We sat up in an absolutely massive bank so we could survey our lands before us. The Person sat quietly and read, whilst I laid on my back and took photos of the sky, my new favourite hobby, and bugged him and complained that I was going to fall down the hill because it was too steep, and panicked that my crisp white skin was burning under the rays.

I then had the best idea I've ever had, which was to roll down the hill a la a small child. I wasn't too sure if this was a good idea or not, I'm not famed for my excellent judgement and my "Amezzing ideas" tend to end up in tears and pain but The Person assured me that I could just roll "a bit" and stop myself.

No. No you cannot roll a bit and stop yourself.

I can let you all know that gravity works my friends. It works like a dream. The second I set off I was out of control and all I could hear The Person's voice, getting fainter and fainter, going "Oh my god, STOP!"

I eventually came to a standstill, my head absolutely spinning and totally unable to stand.

And promptly went back up to the top and rolled down again.

Kids know where it's at my friends. They understand the FUN.

I eventually persuaded The Person to join in the fun and he gave it ago but I couldn't leave it well alone and, on my final roll down the hill, ended up with one leg of my jeans completely covered in mud and with bird poo on my t-shirt.

I don't regret a minute of it.


*Or at least they have been in the Midlands and in Preston. Just covering my back here folks.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Tetris Blanket: Progress Update 3

"Another update so quickly, what is she some kind of crochet machine?"

Erm. No. No I am not.

You see I did my last Progress Update and all wasn't really as it should be.

I was still revelling in my Tetris crochet idea being an awesome idea and everything, but even though I'd started to join it all together and it was all exciting, I just wasn't feeling it in the pit of my stomach.

You know that exciting feeling when you're finally seeing your dreams come alive?

(Why yes I do feel rather dramatic today)

It just wasn't happening. I was looking at it and looking at it but I just wasn't bursting with happiness and giddiness. I tried to add a bit more to the blanket, in the hopes that the feelings would kick in and  that maybe it was a blanket that wouldn't really 'come together' until everything was in place. But when you know something's not right, you know it in the pit of my stomach.

The only time my stomach would flip and I'd feel excited about it, is when I turned the blanket over.

Want to know why? I was joining my squares together in black wool and the join around each pre-made Tetromino was picking them out and highlighting  them beautifully.

It was bit like this patchwork crochet blanket I made back in 2010 - I loved the back of that blanket, with the red wool joining all the squares together.

I knew what I had to do....

So I got on the train to Preston this weekend on Friday. Set up my Tablet and watched some Nashville (are you watching it? You should be. Then we can be friends.) and got to work with my scissors. 


Snip snip snip I went, going carefully and trying very hard to be patient, which I generally suck at. I got an incredibly strange look when the woman collecting rubbish on the train saw my hands full of very tiny shreds of black, frayed wool to stuff into her rubbish sack.

Amazingly, it doesn't take as long to destroy something that you've created and by Saturday morning I had completed my work.


I did surprisingly well. There were only two casualties of my snipping - both black squares - in my defense black squares that have been joined with black wool are not easy to get apart and I got a little scissor happy.

So I am back to the beginning again and the plan is to actually continue on the road I was originally travelling down - join up all my Tetromino shapes first (I hadn't done that with the royal blue and purple ones) and then start joining, only this time with the join at the front of the crochet instead of at the back.

It's been a pain but I'd rather do this than make something that I wasn't happy enough about. This blanket is my original idea and I need it to be a success.

And so we begin again...

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The ladies I miss

The other day the weirdest thing happened to me.

I couldn't stop thinking about Maggie and Maud.

For those not in the know, or who have forgotten in the mists of time, Maggie and Maud were my housemate's cat. I moved in with one of my Stitchette ladies, following my breakup and her and Maggie and Maud were responsible for stopping me from falling into a complete black pit of despair.

I looked back over my posts about Maggie and Maud and had to have a laugh. I was talking about Maggie in the same way that I talk about Blinky now - saying that she pretended she didn't love me when she really did. My good god she is not the same as Blinky. Compared to Blinky, Maggie was my adoring fan.

I miss her loud, yelling, scrowly meow.

I miss Maud's little chirruping and just plain beautiful face.

And I miss Dorothy - one of the few people I know who is capable of talking sense.

And so I leave you with another cat collage. Just like I did last weekend.

But it is Caturday after all.



For those who are interested - Maggie = black, Maud = tabby

Friday, 24 May 2013

A Day in the Life...

Being a PA is one of those jobs that cause people to put their heads on one side and go "So what do you actually do then?" I will fully admit to being one of those people and I've gots to tell you - if I knew how mental this job was going to be at times I don't know that I would have gone for it.

The trouble is it's hard to tell people what you do because, mega cliche alert, there really is no typical day for me. I can have days where things are relatively quiet and I can bumble about and not feel too pressured. Then I can have days which make me eyeballs hurt and my brain swell to twice its normal size.

Today's BEDM topic is "What's in your Fridge" but given that a) my fridge isn't really my fridge seeing as I live at my sister's and b) I don't wanna do that topic, I'm going to go back to one of the first topics that I missed which was to describe a Day in Your Life.

I tried to do this and put times on it but it just wouldn't work like that - so instead I have jotted down a list of the tasks which can, and do, take up my day:


  • MD going to visit business in Sweden next week - sort flights and hotel in Stockholm
  • Email travel department for quotes for Milan flights for the Business Development Director
  • Get stopped by someone in company – do I have the details for a company that deals with First & Business Class travel? Find details and e-mail them over.
  • Arrange transfers for someone from office in Ireland to get from airport to office and back again.
  • Send out telecon details to people in Japan for meeting the next morning
  • Send details of golf team, handicaps, mobile numbers, dietary requirements to people arranging a charity Golf Day
  • Go to Tescos and buy 100 Crunchies for the staff
  • Email American part of the business, re arrangements for MD’s stay in America next week
  • Email Sweden to let them know documents have arrived and I will get signed and sent back to them once MD is in the office
  • Call from MD – need to look through his travel for the year and estimate flight costs for upcoming year for the budget - spend hours on Skyscanner working out different prices from various airports in the UK to Belgium/Sweden/Denmark/Turkey/Japan and the US.
  • Try and get tickets for Wimbledon for a client
  • Fail to get tickets for Wimbledon for a client
  • Email from America – need to book hotel and transfers for meeting on 28th Transfers needed from Manchester to hotel near office, from hotel to office, and from office back to Manchester. Hotel room in Manchester needs booking
  • Research Ice Driving Experiences on the internet - there are a surprising number of them - make up spreadsheet showing costs/location/what's included etc
  • Put together Powerpoint presentation for the UK Staff Update - e-mailing everyone asking for info, putting together slides showing new starters, employee of the month etc 
  • Get together Board Packs for the Board Meeting
  • Sit in Board Meeting (1pm-5pm) and take minutes - type minutes up
  • Ask for MD's credit card receipts in order to code up sheet for finance - handed fistfuls of paper to sort through
  • Get all mileage/expense forms for the Directors filled in and passed to finance
  • Organise Charity Day for company
  • Order enough paper for the company (we go through about 60 packs of paper every 2/3 weeks) and make sure the ink levels in the printers are ok.
  • General diary management
  • And on and on and on and on and on and on 



Thursday, 23 May 2013

Compliments - BEDM Day 23

I know how everyone's going to begin their posts for this BEDM topic.

"I'm no good at accepting compliments..." will go the starting line.

Of course it will. No-one's going to be that person who stands up and says "I am the fricking shit at accepting compliments. I'm so good at accepting compliments that people compliment me on my acceptance of compliments. Oh, and I also shoot rainbows out of my fingertips."

I mean we all love compliments, nobody is going to sit there and say "Oh no please don't tell me I'm good at something, that is literally the worst thing you could do." What we are not good at is the graceful acceptance of compliments.

Is it a British thing? People liken it not being able to toot their own trumpet and I can see the similarities but they're not really the same - it's a big step to go from just saying "Thank you" when someone says something nice to us, to going out wearing a sandwich board proclaiming our awesomeness.

It shouldn't really be difficult though should it? You just. say. Thank you. That's all. It's a simple process - Compliment in, warm fuzzy feeling generated, thank you out the other side.

But it's just impossible.

Take this conversation I had with someone at work some time ago;

Colleague: Oh your beehive looks amazing, I wish I could do that.

Me: Oh my hair is just massively greasy  is all. This beehive is stuck up here with determination and dirt. You can't do a good beehive unless your hair is proper filthy. So whenever you see me with a beehive in you'll know my hair needs a good wash.

Colleague: *nervously laughs and backs away*

And now I daren't put  my hair in a beehive because they'll all know I'm a grease monkey.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Tetris blanket: Progress Update 2

Let's do a Tetris Blanket update shall we?

After my last update post progress on the Tetris Blanket has been stalled as I've been busy crocheting up a little menagerie. Two zebras and an elephant have flown off my hook in the intervening couple of months and not a lot else has happened.

After my disappointment of the disaster that was the Hull 10km I was not in a good mood for the rest of Sunday. I slouched and moped about and huffed and puffed and basically sulked all day.

Until I decided I would turn to my Tetris crochet.

Sunday wouldn't be the day that I didn't run 10km, it would be the day that I joined my first row of blanket together...


I had a re-think since my last update post. I had been merrily crocheting my Tetromino shapes together with the intention to then crochet them all together that way. But it hit me that I might be better off just leaving the squares separate and joining them as I went to avoid any of the inevitable creasing that you get when you join  squares together.

Of course this revelation only came to me after I'd crocheted 5 out of the 7 shapes I needed. But hey it was a kind of good idea.

I have to say though that I don't think it's made a huge difference - the pre-made Tetrominos haven't joined together in any worse shape than the separate ones. I was a little worried I'd made a huge error pre-making them but I've been relieved that that hasn't been the case.

What has been amazing is how quickly this worked up. I went from the above picture to the below one in the space of a night...


Wahey!

Oh yeah. Tetris Blanket me up until the cows come home.

I am loving this people. I remain convinced this was an excellent idea.

I've got a lot longer to go and there will be a stalling period as I still have to crochet approximately 12 billion black squares (and we haven't got started on the border yet which I think may be more squares), but I will join as much as I can until then because I want to and because I can.

But before I do more of that I have a penguin to crochet...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The time I ran the Hull Almost 10km

Those of you who follow me on Twitter will already be bored of this and I can only apologise to you - you have permission to move on to your next unread blog post.

This weekend I was in Hull to run the Hull 10km, an event run by For All Events who organise a number of 10km runs/swim-a-thons/walks in memory of Jane Tomlinson.

I have been working hard, following Hal's training plan that I spoke about back on BEDM Day 5 and when in Preston the other weekend I went out for an 8.5km run in which I just decided to kind of...well....keep going. And unbelievably to me, I managed to run 10km, which is only the 2nd ever time I've run that distance.

I was overjoyed because I am a bit of a purist and I'm afraid I couldn't say I'd run a 10km if I had actually run some of it and walked some of it. I'm sorry, I just can't. That's cheating as far as I'm concerned.


But I was going to be good. I was pumped up and feeling good. I had friends willing to get out of bed at ridiculous o'clock on a Sunday morning to come and cheer me on. I had a lovely knee support in place. I was feeling nervous, but good.

As I queued up with all the other people I was jiggling about like a maniac and pondering whether or not I really should have had a wee before I set off. So preoccupied was I that I didn't quite hear the first announcement that there was a potential problem on the course.


One of the reasons I really wanted to run this course was not just that it was in my hometown but because it went past some lovely landmarks, including running along the Humber, past The Deep and past the Tidal Barrier and around the Marina.

Unfortunately all this water means that there are bridges and as some kind of insane stroke of bad luck would have it, one of the bridges that we were supposed to cross over was stuck upright. We were told there would be a slight delay to the 9am start and they would let us know more in due course.

The news wasn't good.

The bridge remained stuck upright and the race organisers really had no choice but to shorten the course. We would have to miss the bit over the bridge out and just run a short course.

I was gutted. I've said it a couple of times but I don't think it's possible to express how I was feeling. I was absolutely gutted. All the excitement and all the preparation and all the gearing up for running 10km, gone. Gone in the blink of a broken suspension.

There have been the usual ridiculous people saying the usual ridiculous thing, blaming poor organisation - but that is total nonsense. This was just a case of incredible bad luck. Yes, maybe they should have had a Plan B in place but you can't re-route a race in 10 minutes whether you've planned it or not. (To be fair, they have since said that they will plan an alternative route in the future.)

So I ran the new course. Everyone keeps saying it was 9km and I keep getting increasingly rageful because it was most certainly not 9km. We were diverted around the 5.5km mark and my Endomondo app had me having run 8.7km.

And no. I didn't even run a PB. I don't even have any excuses for that one, I just didn't.

It was the biggest anti-climax ever. I picked up my medal and t-shirt but I don't want to wear them. They say I ran the Hull 10km and I didn't. That is a medal made of lies my friends.


I felt guilty for having dragged my friends and Mum out of their comfy beds and I just felt gutted.

Let's say it again.

GUTTED.

It's hard to explain and there'll be people going "Yeah but you ran 8.5km!" or "Yeah but it was a great experience" and I know they're right and I know I did a big run but when you have psyched yourself up for something and are really looking forward to it, to have it taken away from you is not cool. You do not feel good about having run Almost 10km.

I was in a complete funk yesterday and very sulky and whingey and to anyone who follows me on Twitter I can only apologise. I wanted to punch me in the face too. But I cannot put into words how disappointed I was. I don't get to achieve much in life and I don't have a great deal going for me at the moment - managing to run 10km would just have been a nice thing to have said that I could do.

Onwards and upwards though. At least I've had a good (albeit fricking expensive) training run for the Zoo Stampede in three weeks time and there is no water and therefore no bridges that can get stuck.

And if anyone makes a joke about escaped animals here I will have to hurt you.

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

I would just like to say that the Run For All team did an excellent job in an incredibly difficult situation. They dealt with the problem quickly and efficiently and in literally the only way in which they could have done. By the time I was home and showered there was an e-mail in my inbox apologising and offering entry into next year's race for £10 - which is an enormous discount and a generous offer considering the problem was due to circumstances out of their control. 

But I'm still gutted.

In case I hadn't got that across.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Smelliphant

Take one body...



Add four legs...


Add one head...


And what have you got?

....

AN ELEPHUNK!


Actually you have an elephant with a slight neurological problem. I think I needed to space his legs out a bit more because he doesn't really stand very well. It's that massive trunk and head you see - they make him a little top heavy.

One of my favourite parts of him are his ears. When I was making them I was more than a little sceptical because they didn't seem ear-shaped. But you just basically knit a cup-shape and then squeeze it together like so...


And then you attach them to his head. LOOK AT THEM.

 Also. Look at his pretty eyelashes

Despite his issues with standing I love this guy pretty much a lot, and whilst zebra is special, there's just something about elephant that makes me smile. Maybe it's his big squishy behind?


Or maybe it's his little smile?


But whatever it is, I'm going to find it hard to give this guy away.

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

A couple of notes:

Pattern is from this book.

Yarn used is Stylecraft, Aster - to see what colour it really is you need to refer to the top pictures of the separate components before they were stitched together. The photos after were fiddled with quite extensively on PicMonkey because I took them late at night on my camera phone and you basically couldn't see anything. That would have been rubbish.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

What my blog is not

“Hey!
 I hope this email finds you well! My name's Sophie and i'm writing from social media company Social Network Solutions, to say hello as I love your blog!
 If you haven't come across us before we are one of the largest fashion and beauty based social media companies in the UK. We work with 100's of fashion retailers from high street fashion labels to independent boutiques - all who are looking to increase their awareness via the blogging community, and we are currently looking to connect our fashion retailers with some of the most creative and inspiring bloggers on the internet.

I think your blog would be perfect for what we do, and I wanted to get in touch and see if you would like to be part of our blogger collective. Meaning that we can suggest your blog to our fashion retailers and will hopefully be able to provide you with clothes and beauty products to review!
I would love for you to get involved and to be able to add you to the list of bloggers we already work with, we can then let our fashion retailers know that you would like to be sent samples for review. I am also a blogger at Across The Universe and will be around to help you out with any questions or queries you may have regarding this new program so feel free to contact me at any point.
If you are interested please fill in your details here and we'll get you added straight away :)

Have a great week!
 Regards,
 Sophie Palmer”

 
I received the above e-mail the other day.

How lovely. Everyone loves to get e-mail don’t they?

And what a lovely opener. Sophie wants “to say hello as I love your blog!” – How amazing is that?! I love it when people tell me they love my blog. It’s the bestest and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I started to suspect that Sophie might just be lying to me when I read the rest of the e-mail – apparently Social Network Solutions “work with 100's of fashion retailers from high street fashion labels to independent boutiques.” – well that’s awesome Sophster but what’s that go to do with me?

“I think your blog would be perfect for what we do”

I beg your pardon?

Let’s read that line again…

I think your blog would be perfect for what we do

Well this is weird. Sophie loves my blog, she said so. And if she loves my blog then why would she think I’d be perfect to be put in touch with fashion and beauty retailers?

Is it the literally zeros of beauty reviews I do?
Is it the one fashion post I did in which I took the piss out of my inability to do fashion blogging?
Is it the fact that I constantly lament the 100s of incredibly boring and tedious blogs in which people lazily review exactly the same products over and over and over and over and over again (did you know that Next do homeware? I do. I know so much that I now don’t want to go near the bloody place after seeing 12,000 of the same blog post regurgitated)?

Because I’ve got to tell you, I think my blog is the opposite of what you do.

Maybe. Just maybe. You should actually look at the blog in question before you e-mail them.

Wait a minute.

Does this mean she doesn’t really love my blog?

Now my feelings are hurt.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Crazy Cat Lady Part 26: Best Friends - BEDM Day 18

As you read this I am in Hull (as long as you're reading this at the weekend. If you're not then I just don't where I am - why are you making things confusing?) most likely getting myself all worked up at the prospect of running the Hull 10km.

I will also be spending some time with the Mothership and most importantly spending time with you know who.

And so in honour of them, and the fact that BEDM is taking it's toll on me and I need an easy post, I present to you a collage of Fred and Lily - who are each other's Bestest Buds.



You're welcome.



Friday, 17 May 2013

Walk to work - BEDM Day 17

Let us cast our mind's back to last year - this post here details my commute each day. For those who can't be bothered to read it now or can't bring themselves to read it again - let me paraphrase. My commute was horrible. It involved walking 5.5 miles every day and catching a train and all for a job which was so awful it made me cry almost every single day for 4 long months.

Fast forward to now and things are very different.

Most of the time I get a lift into work with my sister but if she's not able to for whatever I reason I make the walk in and out. It's only 1.5 miles which is a piece of cake compared to the last commute, and even better, there's plenty to look at for the first three quarters of the walk. The rest of it is just a long road which is terribly boring.

Confession time. I took these photos in the evening on a walk back home from the gym.

So shoot me. The light was nicer anyway in your face.

First point of interest is this wall of flowers not far up the road from my sister's house. I can never remember what this looks like when it's not all colourful. I'm guessing just like a boring stone wall but right now it's a much welcome burst of colour.


I walk along the road up the hill. It's not a big hill but is rather a very long road on a terribly steady incline. Trust me, when you're attempting to run at it you are all too aware that it is up-hill, but when you're walking at a nice steady pace it's hardly anything to write home about.

The apex of the hill is this bridge over the railway track. I look at it and curse it. Because no trains run on this track. This place that I live in doesn't have a train station, despite the fact that it's perfectly placed for people to commute to Derby, Birmingham and Nottingham. *shakes fist*


And then it is on to a very secluded and very long pathway. This is not a great deal of fun in the dark let me tell you. But for now it is light late in the day and the beauty of this long pathway is what is on it...


...First I come to an old fallen down building of some sort. But this is just a prelude to the real show...


The castle! I am still not bored of seeing this on my walks to and from town and to and from work and my guess is that I will never get bored of seeing it. Castles are amezzing and this castle may have seen better days but it is still awesome and a dilapidated castle is better than no castle at all in my opinion.


Chances are when I'm walking down this pathway I'm also looking at the sky because I have a bit of a fondness for the sky. And the chances are that when it is sunny I'm taking a picture of the sky because I seem to have developed a bit of an obsession with blue skies and white clouds...


Coming to the end of the pathway I come out to the church (the clock is broken btw) and then it is a case of dodging past the school-kids on their way to the school opposite and a walk to the end of the road where I come to one of my all time favourite signs ever...


This sign.

I don't know why it makes me so happy. Maybe because it's all looking a little weatherbeaten. Maybe it's the font. Maybe it's that it has the word 'sluice' in it which is a satisfying word to say in your head.


And then it really is a boring walk down a main road which would not only be boring for you to look at pictures of but would have been embarassing for me to take.

And that is just one more reason why this job is better than my last one...

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Always make sure you read a text properly

I made one of the best mis-reading of a text the other day and it has to be shared with you for two reasons. The first being that it was hilarious. The second being that today's BEDM topic is 'pampering' and if you know me you know that that is a topic about which I know nothing.

I could write a terribly generic post a Lush bathbomb and a glass of wine, or some hand-cream and a lovely nail varnish, but I'm guessing you could probably read 10,000 other BEDM posts that will be along that line.

Instead I will give you a laugh.

So this post involves Heather of Little Tin Bird - say hello Heather.

I sent Heather a text last week in which I enquired how her and Little Tin Bird were doing.

She replied the following;

"...[We're] ok, better than the last couple of weeks which have been full of nappy rash, poo, more poo, nappy rash ointment, poo in the bath and teeth..."

I was shocked. I have been around babies and I know that the poo goes everywhere. But teeth? Teeth?! This was a new one on me.

I replied:

"Wait. Was the poo in your teeth or his? Why am I even asking?!..."

As I waited for the reply I could only think about how gross motherhood is. You do get a cute baby but poo in teeth? That is just a step too far and definitely one to bear in mind if you decide to breed.

Finally the reply that I wasn't sure I wasn't to read came:

"Sorry I meant teething not poo in teeth thank GOD..."

At which point I collapsed on my bed in paroxysms. I had to take cotton wool and eye make-up remover to my face as my mascara and eyeliner poured down my cheeks, stinging my eyes as I wept at my mistake.

Poo in the teeth? Don't be ridiculous.

Although I would imagine if you had poo in your teeth (and indeed poo in your bath) you would be in need of some pampering...

SEAMLESS SEQUE TO TODAY'S BEDM TOPIC

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

What I need to learn - BEDM Day 15

There are many things that I've learned throughout my thirty years on this planet.

I've learned that Mother's know everything and that adults aren't infallible. I've learned that sometimes people are not nice just because they're not nice people and not because you've done anything wrong. I've learned that loving someone isn't enough to make a relationship work. The list is long and very emotional.

But there's one lesson that I have been desperately trying to learn my whole life.

I've got to stop comparing myself to others.

Let's take running for example, although I hasten to add that this is not a problem that is purely related to physical activity. When I completed my first ever 10km last year in Preston I was beside myself with happiness. I was so proud of myself because I'd done what I thought I would never be able to do. I'd never run that far before and I wasn't the best runner and I'd had a pretty shitty time of 2012 and to have actually done something that was difficult and to have achieved a goal was a major deal. More than I can even express.

Until I looked at the official results.

I did it in 1 hour 17 minutes and really the time isn't important because I didn't even think I'd make it round without stopping but when I saw the results and saw just how close I was to being one of the last people to finsih it I felt like shit. And I mean shit. I was embarassed, actually embarassed that I'd done so badly.

And that is crazy and I knew it was crazy. It didn't matter where I'd come it didn't matter where I was in relation to all the other people, all that mattered was what the achievement meant to myself and that was amazing. I'd done it, I'd really done something amazing. Why was I beating myself up so badly? I put a brave face on and I told everyone how proud and ecstatic I was that I'd run the 10km. And I was proud and ecstatic, but in reality the whole accomplishment was tainted by the fact that most of the other people who ran the race had run it faster than me.

This problem of mine goes back long before 2012 though.

I felt the same when I got my GCSE results. 1 A*, 4 As, 3 Bs and 2 Cs. I felt like a failure because in order to get up and receive a prize at our school's Speech Day in the September I would have had to have got 7 or above As and A*s. I was one of a very small minority who didn't walk across the stage in September and that did not make me feel good. I didn't revel in my great grades, I got worried and snarled up and felt crap that I hadn't done as well as the others.

And this ridiculous need to compare myself to others has continued to raise its ugly head at several times throughout my life.

It's not just physical achievements that will set this off - I question the values I hold and the actions I take and  compare them to what other people have done in the same situation. Should I have done that because so and so did this? Should I really be feeling this way when everyone else doesn't seem bothered at all?

It's exhausting and not conducive to anything except a headache and tears.

I do it at work. If I miss something, I mentally kick my arse all over the shop because I know the other PA wouldn't have made that mistake. This is regardless of the fact that she's been doing the job for 7 years and I've been doing it for 4 months.

This part of my brain doesn't run on logic, it's fuel is self-loathing and I seem to have a never-ending supply of it, pumping incessantly into my mind and flooding the engine of sense.

Too many car metaphors. I'll stop.

It is for this reason that I should stay well away from the internet. I should not be on Facebook, where everyone's lives (or at least the best bits of their lives) are on show to me - that definitely wasn't helpful when I was freaking out about turning 30. And I should absolutely be steering well clear of blogging - where I can get lost in a whole other world of reading blogs and either berating myself for not wanting to collect all things vintage/wear two different kinds of mascara at the same time/be good enough to get free shit to review.

It is all too easy to read blogs which are more 'successful' and beat myself up for not doing it as well as others. Why doesn't my blog get that many comments? Why don't I have that many followers? Why can't I be satisfied with writing some piece of half-arsed tut and putting it up for people to fawn over?

But most of all why do I care so bloody much? I don't want to get free shit to review. I don't want to write half-arsed posts. I just feel that I'm some how playing the game wrong.

But I am trying not to constantly compare.

I am trying very hard to find the right balance. To look at what others are doing and glean tips and take on best practice whilst recognising the point at which I'm about to tip into the spiralling vortex of doom where I tell myself I'm a useless piece of nonsense. To just be happy for someone's achievements and not be hiding behind my smile a bruised and battered ego where I've bullied myself into a husk for not doing as well as them at whatever it is I'm supposed to be happy for them for.

(To write sentences which actually make sense unlike the one above.)

I even recognise how narcissistic it is. "Stop making it about you!" I scream at myself when the voice pipes up with "Oh so-and-so did that did they? Well you're not even a tenth as good, you should stop altogether" and sometimes I succeed.

But mostly I don't.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Cakey cakey cake cake - BEDM Day 14

Today's BEDM topic is Food Glorious Food so I thought it would be a good opportunity to do a bit of an update on my Not Really Resolutions, one of which was to bake once a month.

It's safe to say the first quarter of the year hasn't been a massive success and there's no way that Mary, Delia or Nigella need to be quaking in their boots just yet. In fact, a small child armed only with a fork could probably have had more spectacular results...

Gingerbread cookies


Some of you are going to go mental when I tell you how I made these. I made these from a ready-made dough that you can pick up from Tesco.

Hahahahaha. Guess what? I don't care.

I had to roll out the dough and cut the shapes and put it in the oven and bake them. Therefore it counts as baking.

And do you know what? They tasted really really good. I can't lie. There was the perfect amount of ginger in them, they cooked well and were the right side of chewy and best of all, there was no bloody mess making them. No 12 million bowls used. No spoons all over the shop. No light coating of flour over everything in the kitchen. Marvellous.

I'm not even sorry. I'd do it again.

Cookie Monster Cupcakes


We don't really need to talk about this again do we? Read this post and don't make me re-live the hell again.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies


Aah I had such high hopes for these cookies from the Hummingbird Baking recipe book. But it just wasn't successful. People who write recipe books must assume that the people who are reading them are like me - basically an idiot. So you need to tell me everything. And that includes giving me just a tiny cue as to how much dough I'm supposed to be splatting on my baking sheet. Just a hint would be lovely.

Which is why I ended up with gigantanormous cookies because I was putting way too much dough on the sheet.

This would have been fine if I hadn't made my second mistake which was to be afraid that they were too squishy and leave them in a few minutes too long. So I basically had really massive and really hard to eat cookies. Well done me.

The dark chocolate in them was horrible too. You can take your 80% cocoa and go whistle down the wind - I should have just used el cheapo milk chocolate and I'd have probably been a happier bunnier. Although still at risk of losing a tooth.

Raspberry Bakewell Cake


Technically this should have been April's bake. But it wasn't. I made it in May instead. Now the keen eyed among you may go "But hang on a minute, she said she would bake once a month, what a weaselly cheat!" and to those people I say, "Shut up". I'll bake twice in May to make up for it alright?!

God. Some people.

This cake has turned out the best out of all the bakes so far, although that doesn't seem difficult given what it's up against. I got to use my sister's fancy Kitchen Aid which I couldn't work and which sent flour flying all over the room - I'm yet to fall under the Kitchen Aid spell.

The mixture is very thick. You put half the mixture in the tin, then add the raspberries and then it says to "dollop the remaining cake mixture on top and roughly spread - you might find this easier to do with your fingers."

They are not kidding. It is not a pouring cake and I had to splat the mixture on and then smear it around. Sounds gross but it turned out ok, apart from the fact that it burned around the edges a little. I'd probably chuck in a bit of almond essence for good measure if I made it again - I couldn't have done with more of a kick of almond.

Recipe here

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

So I think we can say that it hasn't gone well. But that's cool, you know I only do these things so badly to make you feel better, right? That's what it is.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Calke Abbey Craft Fair

See sometimes exciting things do happen around here. I know. I can't believe it either.

As I mentioned in my Bank Holiday post, my sister and I went along to a Craft Fair at nearby National Trust property, Calke Abbey.

I was unbelievably restrained and resisted the urge to go in and immediately buy up the first things I saw and then spend the rest of the time walking around and sulking that I didn't save my money. I wandered and I noted and then I went back, swooping like a hawk on the items that I considered to be precious.

The wonderful thing about craft fairs is the ability to discover artists you may never have come across - and if I were a crafter I'd be getting my backside down to as many of these fairs as possible. Yeah there was some stuff there that wasn't to my taste, but hidden amongst the creepy looking animals and behind the strong smell of home-made soap there lurked some absolute gems.


These earrings came from Joia Glass Art - Joy was on the stall and was so lovely and friendly, actively encouraging people to touch the art and not be afraid of it. There were some absolutely beautiful pieces, the tealight holders in particular I think would look amazing once lit. I settled on these earrings and as Joy handed them to me she said she hoped I enjoyed wearing them - I have and I have even been complimented on them already.


This lovely card came from Alex McQuade who also had some rather nice linen purses on her stall which almost found their way into my bag (Not because I'm a shoplifter but because I wanted to buy one) and some very pretty corsages. But I settled for a card, because you can never have too many of those - can you?



I don't think I'd be cut out for sleek living you know. See through chairs and white melamine and chrome are all good and well but they just don't say homely to me. Give me a whacking great chunk of wood any day. Enter stage left Wayne Glover, who reclaims wood and makes whacking great big mirrors and frames. Good man.

I snapped up this tealight holder, not for myself, but to have on hand for those times when a birthday sneaks up on you and you're not prepared with a present.

(Let's all pretend that this is true and not that I will actually keep this for myself.)

But my absolute favourite stall by far and away was Louise Wright's stall, which I stood in front of like a bumbling idiot for a very long time, totally paralysed by the fact that I wanted everything that was on the stall. And I really do mean everything.


I wanted the tea towels and I wanted the tote bags and I wanted the cards and I really really wanted a print. Louise's illustrations are just so completely up my street that it was as if she had been drawing just for me. Damn her.

I was so incredibly restrained here that I still have trouble comprehending how it happened. I snapped up the above card - just look at the envelope too - we all love a bit of recycling don't we?

But my attention turned to the prints. Oh the prints. I took so long picking one out that my sister very nearly swiped me over the back of the head. But it was so difficult because there were so freaking many that I couldn't decide. Don't believe me? Visit her Etsy shop for yourself and see.

It was a close call between the one I chose and Tiger Dreams (I know, I don't know how I, of all people, didn't end up with that one) but in the end I just kept getting drawn back again and again and again to Elephant and Penguin and unable to resist he is now mine.

I know. I don't even have a house to hang a picture up in. But one day....one day my friends, when I'm no longer living in my sister's box room I will be able to put my own pictures up and this guy is going to make me so happy when I look at him.



And it is for these above reasons that I shouldn't be allowed to go to craft fairs.