Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Interesting January

As part of my Not Really Resolution for 2014 I said that I would aim to do one interesting thing each month. This was in an attempt to get me out of the house and seeing people and not sitting at home and letting myself fall into the Vortex of Doom.

January got off to a flying start thanks  to the chance to go to London for a work-related dinner. There was a point where I nearly pulled out as it turned out I was the only person going but I decided to be a very brave person and just get on with it. I'm 30 and that means going out and doing things out of my comfort zone, not sitting and whingeing like a baby that I can't do things by myself. Get a grip woman.

As it turns out I wasn't really alone, for I had with me my armour in the shape of my beloved Vivien of Holloway dress.

I bought this dress for our work's Christmas party - I've been hankering to own one for a long long time but didn't really have an occasion/reason to buy one. That's where working in corporate land comes in handy - black tie occasions. I swooped and snapped one up in a terribly sensible navy colour, but I bought a bright pink petticoat to go with it, I can't be totally corporate you know.

I love this dress more than life itself. The second you put it on you are surrounded by the overwhelming urge to spin and spin and spin. And spin. You also feel like a lovely lady which is not something I often feel like, being a little scratbag in jeans most of the time.

But most importantly, when I put this dress on it I feel pretty damn good. Good enough to walk into a cocktail reception on my own, with my head held high and network like a pro. Chat chat chat, booze booze booze. It's not so bad once you get on with it. And the dress actually helps - people like this dress, they want to comment on it and when they do, boom, there's your opener to have a conversation.

Good work dress. Good work.

My dress of armour/dessert/champage/late night hot dog - best idea ever

On it's own I feel like this one thing would have counted as my interesting thing for this month, but it just kept...getting...better.

As I knew I was going to be in London I thought to my little self "Who do I know who lives in London" and I hit upon it immediately - Chloe lives in London-town doesn't she?! A few tweets and texts later and we had a plan in place. Chloe took on the admirable task of feeding a fuzzy-headed, champagne-hanging me. I took on the admirable task of getting from Hammersmith across to the other side of London, in no way aided by the London Underground who had helpfully chosen that day to close the Tube to Chloe's house.

It's almost as if London Transport has absolutely no regard for my plans sometimes.

I feel bad that I didn't visit something whilst in London, I always feel like I ought to because it's so rare that I get to go there, but I count lunch with a friend and a Tube adventure as something interesting.

I also came into St Pancras International via a different entrance and was floored by walking smack bang into the biggest statue I've ever seen. I have absolutely no idea how I've missed it before, given the number of times I come into St Pancras because it is hard to miss.

Discovering something new I hadn't seen before in London? Counts as something interesting.

The Meeting Place/standard blogger photos of St Pancras International ceiling

But wait.

It doesn't stop there.

After coming back from London I dropped my stuff off at home and went to meet Char who was actually in my home town. I know. No-one comes here. No-one is ever here. Even I don't want to be here.

What do you do when someone comes to your home town? Well you suggest you go for dinner in a lovely bar which serves your raw burgers....No. Not my finest moment. Of course, in all the times I've visited this place and had the burger they've never been raw but the one time you bring someone there...

We were brave and resisted our British instincts to not make a fuss and just eat the raw burger and sent them back at which point they returned with a core temperature which was basically the same as the surface of the sun. 

Unfortunately, as the third exciting thing to have happened to me in 24 hours, Char didn't get the best of me but I managed to avoid faceplanting with tiredness onto the table thanks to a well-timed pint of Coke.

Most importantly about this meeting though is that whilst Char was waiting for me to get my backside back from London she took the opportunity to look around my home town and she is now my witness when I say that there is nothing here. So next time you hear me complaining and roll your eyes and go "It can't possibly be that bad" I'm sending you to Char who will confirm that yes, yes it is that bad.


So there you have it. 2014 is off to a brilliant start - fancy dinner in London plus a meeting up of two special internet friends in two different places - good work January.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The Not Really Resolutions 2014 - The Introduction

What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment. Even if I did perform horribly in 2013 at my Not Really Resolutions, I've come back in 2014 with another list and with renewed vigour.

(Or at least the feeling that I know I can't do any worse than I did last year.)

1. Read 12 Classics
This is a standard now. Every year I'm pleased that I made this not really resolution in 2011 and have stuck to it. Although I think it's important for reading to remain something that is enjoyable and shouldn't be something that is a chore, I also think it is a great opportunity to learn and sometimes I need a little push to ensure that I don't read complete trash. Thinking about it, I should probably make a similar resolution about watching TV programmes - would stop me watching the nonsense that I watch at the moment...

2. Eat 1 vegetarian meal per week
I don't really know the origins of this one, I just thought it would be kind of funsies to do. I have absolutely no desire to become vegetarian, I likes my meat, but I don't think there's any harm in cutting back a little bit. Plus I was thinking it would be fun to learn some new recipes. I don't know if it will actually work out as once a week, but let's say 52 veggie meals in the year and we'll call it even.

3. Do 1 interesting thing each month
As I mentioned towards the end of last year, I haven't been having a great time of it lately. I have been trying to be more positive but these things don't solve themselves. It is really easy to become bogged down in the loneliness and isolation that I have been feeling so I need to take things in to my own hands. I may not have friends and I may not have a car but there must be a way of doing some interesting things.

4. Save up to buy a car
Life would be much easier in a semi-rural location if I had a car. Especially living in a place with no train station and very limited buses out of it. I only need a small run-around type car, I don't need anything fancy. A car would solve a lot of problems if I could get my hands on one. The Person and I have a big trip to America in March which we are saving for at the moment, but after that I would like to start seriously looking at getting some wheels.

5. Finish the Tetris blanket
I love that I come up with this idea all by my little self and feel super proud of it. The first thing that my little not really creative brain has ever come up with. But I need to make sure that I actually do it and it doesn't become something that I never get around to doing. Even if I do need to crochet a thousand black squares to complete it...

6. Learn something new
A lovely little vague one that I'm throwing in there. I don't want to say "I'm going to learn to knit" or "I'm going to learn Spanish" because who knows what will happen in the year ahead. But I'm-a gonna learn something new this year.

7. Sell something at a craft fair
I had this on my list in 2012 but never got around to it with all the redundancy, moving cities, getting a new awful job etc etc that happened in that year. But I would really like to do this. I'm making myself some pocket money via amigurumi and selling them to people at work and I would like to explore the possibility of building up some stock and seeing if I can find somewhere to sell it.

8. Beat my 10k time
A bit of a biggy! When I'm in to my running big time I really enjoy it and love it. I am signed up to one 10k race in Hull (hopefully it will actually be 10k and not 8k like in 2013!) and there's the potential for another two in the pipeline. I'm never going to be a super brilliant runner but that doesn't mean I shouldn't aim for improvement and why not give it a go. This is a big not really resolution because I'm not a particularly fast runner, but also because as I type I'm currently laid up with a very bad knee. I hurt it just before Christmas and three weeks later I'm still laid up with it. Having been to the Drs I've been told that I may have a meniscus tear - I've got to wait another 2 weeks before returning to the Drs, but in the meantime I have a physio appointment lined up to see if I can get it fixed. It could well mean that there will be no 10k running, let alone beating my previous times!

The last 10k I ran was the Whipsnade Zoo Stampede in June 2013 which I ran with Lucy. My time was 1:09:26 so that's the time to beat!

And there we have it.

There are only eight resolutions this year, as compared to the ten that I have done in previous years, but I honestly couldn't think of anything else that I wanted to do. When I asked The Person if he could think of another two things that I could add he looked at me as if I'd finally lost it and said "Why don't you just do eight?" I figured he had a point.

So. Here we go again! Let's try and aim for a more successful rate than last year's 20%!

Monday, 6 January 2014

2013 Not Really Resolutions - The Conclusion

I very nearly didn't do this post.

My absolute shame at my performance in 2013 is overwhelming.

It is not going to be one of those "Oh look at me and how great I am".

This is going to be one of those "Well I don't call them Resolutions anyway so it doesn't matter that I basically didn't do any of them."

Prepare yourself for some class A excuses...

1. Get behind the wheel of a car again - Completed! This resolution was invaluable as it has meant that when I have had access to a car I've been able to get out and about, something which is impossible to do when living in the middle of nowhere. I've been able to hire cars to make long journeys rather than depend on the UK's expensive and unreliable rail service (and it does pain me to say that, having been a rail traveller for so long). There is definitely a post I want to write about being a first time driver on the roads - it was a bit of a baptism of fire for me. My first drive on a motorway was a 3.5 hour stint down the M5 to Tavistock which was all kinds of intense. But I'm pleased I've got this one under my belt - you can read about my refresher lessons and my experiences driving my sister's Tank.

2. Project 365 - Failed. I don't really know what happened here because it was actually going pretty well but then I just....stopped. I think I got busy with the impending move in the flat when The Person was moving here and just forgot to take photos. Plus I really didn't do anything and taking photos every day was a bit of a literal reminder of that. I'm amazing I made it through half of the year to be honest. Still, I did do Project 365 in 2011 so I'm not a complete failure (I tell myself).

3. Read 12 Classics - 9/12 - FAILED! I know! First year that I have ever ever failed this Not Really Resolution in all the years that I've been doing it. My downfall was finally picking up a Classic and a half in the shape of Vanity Fair. That is quite the tome you know. I have had a tendency sometimes to play it safe with my Classics and pick up slimmer volumes or easy volumes (for instance, one of my Classics this year was 101 Dalmatians...) so whilst I do feel sad that I didn't complete this one, I feel proud that I took on the challenge of Vanity Fair and conquered it.

1. North & South, Elizabeth Gaskell
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
3. Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
4. The Pursuit of Love, Nancy Mitford
5. The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
6. The Chrysalids, John Wyndham
7. The Edible Woman, Margaret Atwood (a review of which can be found HERE)
8. The One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Dodie Smith
9. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray

4. Crochet an Elmer Blanket - Abandoned! You may remember that I abandoned this Not Really Resolution back in April as I decided I want to make a Tetris blanket. The Tetris Blanket is currently ongoing...

5. Learn to Knit - Failed! It just....never happened. Nothing more or less to it!

6. Bake once a month - Failed! It was just too hard, living in someone else's house for half the year isn't really conducive to taking over the kitchen randomly and I spent most of those weekends travelling to Preston to see The Person which meant I didn't have much time left for baking.

Jokes. I just bought cakes and ate them rather than making them.

7. Go abroad - Done! I went to Corfu with The Americans and The Person in July and it was amezzing and beautiful and I loved it and I didn't want to leave. It was made even better by the fact that the day before flying to Corfu, The Americans became Engaged Americans which made me giddy beyond belief.

That's what it looked like. Damn. Now I want to go back immediately.

8. Makeover a chest of drawers - Failed. HA. We moved into an unfurnished flat in August and let me tell you, furniture is expensive, even when shopping for cheap stuff. We still don't have a bed in the spare bedroom so we can have guests over, I am far from having the time, willingness and energy to makeover a piece of furniture I already own.

9. Cross stitch a big picture/item just for me - Failed. In the same way that 2012 was the Year of the Cross Stitch, 2013 was the Year of the Amigurumi and I have crocheted my fingers off. I have barely done any cross stitch at all.

10. Only buy 12 books throughout the year - HA! As if. In 2012 I managed to go a whole year without buying books so this should have been easy but it seems that with me, it's either all or nothing, and looking at the state of my to-be-read bookshelves I may need to implement a ban in 2014.


So there we go. TWO out of TEN Not Really Resolutions completed.

You are totally allowed to sit back and feel pretty damn good about yourself right now.

Hey, at least 2014 is going to be better....right?!


Take a look back at my past attempts...
Not Really Resolutions 2011
Not Really Resolutions 2012