Friday, 27 August 2010

One night in Torbaydos a.k.a. The Night I Fell Off the Wagon.

My problem is that I'm not very good at exercising self restraint. The phrases "I'll just have one" or "I'll just have a small bit" just don't seem to appear in my vocabulary. I'm an all or nothing girl. That's why it's just safer to not surround myself with temptation. It's best for me not to buy a multipack of crisps so they last me for the week. Because they won't last me for the week. They'll last for 2 days, maybe 3 if I'm lucky. I can't buy a packet of biscuits without shoving the whole lot in my mouth so it's easier to just not buy biscuits. I had hoped that now I'm eating much more sensibly I would somehow miraculously discover the ability to not plough my way through a massive bag of Sensations in one go but so far that hasn't happened.

The same rule used to apply for alcohol. I'm your classic binge drinker. I will never have just one glass of wine. I'll have 1 case bottle instead. I've never been the kind of person that will go "Ooh I'll have a lovely glass of wine in the bath". Nope. I drank to get drunk. If it wasn't a big night out, that was fine, I just wouldn't drink, I had no interest in just having one glass of wine, I'm not desperate for the taste of alcohol. In some ways this has been useful since going on the warfarin because it's meant that, to be honest, I haven't missed alcohol that much - I only drank once in a Sheffield flood, it just happened that when I drank, I drank.

I've been lucky in that I have a friend who is also a warfarin addict so I've been able to turn to her for advice. I asked her how she coped on big nights out when she was the only one sober and she informed me that she was a bad girl who, on those nights when it was a big occasion, she would just not take her warfarin, have a drink and hope that the alcohol thinned her blood out enough. I was dubious. I am a rule follower after all and the Doctor said I could only have one drink.


I went down to Torquay. I knew that drinking would be involved. And, seeing as my INR has stabilised a little bit in the past month or so (hurray!) I decided that I would try this little bit of trickery out. I would forgo my warfarin, have a few drinks instead of just the one glass of wine and everything would be alright. I did feel a little dubious about it but my cousin assured me that everything would be fine and she is literally the only person I know that can use the phrase "Trust me, I'm a Doctor".

Except I forgot didn't I. I forgot that there was no way I was "just going to have an extra couple of glasses of wine". Because I can't do that.

And so I fell off the wagon.

And let me tell you. When I fall. I fall.

I was like Phil Mitchell getting addicted to crack. I was like a kid in toyshop. I was like a bunch of army lads on leave. I might as well have just asked for a top shelf drink. I managed to consume over one evening:

- gin and tonics
- wine
- margarhitas
- jaegerbombers
- vodka and coke

And I have no idea how many of the above I had.

I'm not proud. It was not big and it was most certainly not clever and my hangover the next day punished me (although I have to confess that I didn't feel more hungover than I would have been on any other big night out, I thought I would be much worse considering this would be the first time I'd had a mental night out since the beginning of May).

But more than that, I felt like crap because I knew that I was drinking for all the wrong reasons. I went back to my old ways of using alcohol as my safety blanket, as my secret confidence booster and I should know better than that, I should be able to handle myself in a group of strangers without being drunk. I've done alright with it so far but this night out was tough - I was surrounded by ridiculously good looking people and if they weren't good looking, they were clever and doing worthwhile jobs. It's bad enough that I was out with a load of Doctors but when the only other person who isn't a Doctor works with a freakin' bomb disposal unit in the army, you can start to feel more than a little pathetic that you do nothing really worthwhile with your life.

Lots of good looking people + lots of talent = levels of self-loathing through the roof

So I drank to care less that I was the fattest person there (and this is after losing 2.5 stone, if I'd been in this situation a few months previously I'd have probably ended the night by throwing myself in the harbour) and I drank to care less that I was having to talk to strangers, and I drank to make myself not care about either of these situations.

And I ended up becoming the person that I don't really like. I was like the person that I've been observing on my nights out when sober - I was too loud and probably obnoxious and my sarcasm levels went absolutely through the roof. My sarcasm can get me in trouble at the best of times but when I'm drunk the opportunities for me to come across as a complete bitch are many.

I won't lie. I had an amazing night. It was hilarious and I wouldn't change it for the world. It was just that afterwards, as the sea wind was blowing my hangover round my head, I realised that I don't want to go back to being that person. I don't want to go on a bender like that again. And I hope that this realisation is enough to finally knock the notion of self restraint in to my head.

I just need to find self-confidence some other way but have no idea how.

Reckon Phil Mitchell will lend me his crack pipe?

(Obviously joking. Don't do drugs kids)

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The English Riviera

So I've thought and I've thought and I've decided that I can't write everything that I want to write in one post. So I will do a lovely "oooh look at these nice pictures" post and then tomorrow (hopefully) I'll do a lovely "oooh look at what happens when I decide I'm going to drink again" post.

So I travelled down to Torquay this weekend to see my favourite cousin. I hate that I don't get to see her more often - she's the closest I've got to having a sister. Yes, ok, I do actually have a sister, but she's 13 years older than me and we have very different personalities, whereas me and my cousin are only separated by 15 months or so and are pretty much the same person. All I want to do really is look after her, I worry about her you know. I know she's perfectly capable of looking after herself but there's something about our relationship that brings the protective side of me out.

To be honest if she were any old random on the street I'd kind of want to slap her. Stupidly pretty with a grotesquely amazing figure, blonde, a freakin' Doctor, she can dance, she can cook - seriously, anyone else would be getting a poke in the eye round about now. Instead I am stupidly proud of her and would be quite happy to walk down the street with a sign above my head saying "Hey everyone! This is MY cousin!"

But. She lives at the other end of the universe. Also known as Devon. So I have to content myself with seeing her a couple of times a year instead.

This was my first time down to Torquay in particular and I had high hopes, but the weather gods decided to literally rain on my parade and it sheeted it down most of the weekend. It wasn't just the weather that I had to contend with though, I had to deal with...

Killer seagulls.
Growing up, I thought I knew seagulls pretty well. I saw them occassionally, heard their call, life was good. Until I went down to Exmouth to visit a friend and came across something that bore a striking resemblance to an albatross or pterodactyl on the beach. I don't know what goes on down south but those seagulls are ridiculously massive. And they scare the crap out of me. I'm pretty sturdy, I don't start flapping and screaming when a flock of pigeons flies within 10 feet of me, but these...things...are enough to bring me out in a cold sweat.

And it got worse. Not just normal seagulls - but baby killer seagulls were all over the place. Don't be fooled by their cute grey feathers - they want to peck your eyes out and feast on your flesh.

We did manage to trip to see the sea on Sunday, dragging our ridiculously hungover asses to Babbacombe, and more specifically Oddicombe Beach.

Things you should know about Babbacombe and Oddicombe Beach:

1. There is a crazily steep road down to a car park by the beach. And when I say crazily steep I mean I was surprised there wasn't an Alton Towers rep at the top, taking £35 off you and reminding you to make sure your harness was fastened securely. It was ridiculous. And actually rendered me speechless until the horror was over.

2. The Buccaneer Arms does not serve guacamole with its nachos - despite saying so on the menu - but it does do good cheesy chips and the loveliest lady ever will serve you.

3.There is a lovely funicular railway that will take you all the way down to Oddicombe Beach and it is staffed by the happiest, friendliest people you'll ever meet.

4. You should probably go to Oddicombe Beach soon because the cliff surrounding it is disappearing fast.

5. People are mental and will still go swimming in the sea even when it's raining. Granted it wasn't freezing, but come on people!

6. You can buy the most brilliant tacky tea towels from the souvenir shop for £1.50. Win.

First impressions of Torquay? Pretty damn good. It would be undoubtedly more charming if the sun was shining and if we didn't spend most of the time wishing the throbbing in our heads would subside, but not even the old lady who was walking in front of us and proceeded to wet herself could dampen (pun intended) my spirits.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


I need to write a post about my time in the deepest, darkest south a.k.a. Torquay but at the moment I can't even get the words out.

I haven't stopped since I got back up North and that means that my brain hasn't started functioning properly.

The reason that I haven't stopped is that the second I came home I unpacked my suitcase, packed it back up again, went to sleep, got up went to work (where I had the absolute day from hell) and then came to look after some little people.


...Guinea pigs!

I am taking my duties as guinea-pig surrogate mother very seriously but I will be back soon with a Torquay update. I should warn you not to be disappointed - if you think that it's going to be a post all about a lovely time by the seaside, filled with picturesque pictures then you're going to be mistaken, mainly because I fell off the wagon big time and made a rather epic return to drinking. (And no I wasn't supposed to.) And also because it pissed it down the whole time.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Off on a jolly

I'm going off on a little holiday for a long weekend.

To see this person

We've both had a bit of a time of it lately so it was deemed urgent that we get together immediately for some fun and games.

So I'm travelling all the way to the deepest south to Torquay. I'm such an intrepid explorer, it's most like the furthest anyone from Hull has ever been.

I'm excited about seeing her and catching up and having fun and possibly partaking in a glass or two of wine. But mostly I'm excited about the train journey. Does that sound normal? I get ridiculously giddy about long train rides. I think it's all that time stretched out in front of you where you don't have to do anything. If you had 7 hours free at home you would feel obliged to be doing something or going somewherer or being productive in some way. Not so on a train ride, you are forced to be relaxed and you don't have to do anything you don't want to do.

So my i-pod is loaded up with tunes and podcasts. I have all my stitching stuff at the ready (I was going to crochet but we're currently not on speaking terms at the moment but that's a post for another time). I have the books lined up. I have my little lunch bag with fun things to eat in it. I really can't wait.

I wonder if we'll end up making a 19 year old barman strip down to his pants again...

See you all next week!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Crazy Cat Lady Part 4: Kitty friends

Remember Eddie?
He's my best friend now. He loves me so much. And the feeling is mutual. It's crazy cat lady love.

He's just a great big lump and when I scoop him up I have my arms full of cat which is what I remember from my childhood and picking up our cat Smudge, which makes me feel all nostalgic. But apart from that it's just his whole demeanour. Far from being the Eddie von Grumpy Face which was his original name, he just continues to be the softest lad going.

And most endearing about him is his desire to be the best of friends with every other cat that happens to come in to the garden. He's determined to make friends with Maud but he's so over-bearing and desperate that he tends to get all up in her face and scares her off. He sees her coming and gets incredibly excited and  leaps down from the fence to run up to her and then has to pull up short when she hisses at him. She doesn't hate him, she just wants him to be a little bit subtle.

Eddie still continues to push it though and won't let her be. She decided to sunbathe in next door's garden the other day and Eddie took this as an invite for him to join her. It was ridiculously cute, he mirrored everything that she did, lying with his chin out when she did the same, looking up when she did. He's so gormless.

And it's not just Maud...

We discovered the other day that he's friends with Professor McTufty which seems the most unlikely pairing since Katie Price and Gareth Gates. The dazzling learned Professor and the cheeky little market stall owner, gadding about all over Hull. As usual, Eddie is a little more into the friendship than Tufters, but the Prof is a cool customer and lets him do his thing and follow him about.

Eddie having difficulty understanding the meaning of personal space

The past couple of days, Professor McTufty, Eddie and Maud have all been chipping about the garden. Maud keeps a ladylike distance, watching proceedings from the safety of the wall. I did catch Professor McTufty giving her the eye the other day, I guess he's on the search for a Research Assistant...dirty boy.

All we need is Lady Celestine in on the action and we have ourselves a decent kitty party.

I need to get out more.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Titanic Spa - Huddersfield

I realised something a while back. I realised that since the Big PE of 2010 and the Big Break-Up of 2010 I hadn’t had a day off work, other than 2 days to move my stuff out of the flat and trust me that was not relaxing time off.

I figured I deserved a break. Nearly dying and turning your life upside down are the kind of things that allow you to take some time off work.

But I don’t have any money, and didn’t want to take a day off work to just sit at home. Luckily came up with the goods. A random e-mail from them pointed me in the direction of some spa deals that they had on and when I saw that they had an amazing deal for £20 to spend a day at Titanic Spa in Huddersfield and I could bring a friend with me for free I was sold.

I gave Culture Friend a little e-mail to see if she would be interested because she had said she wanted to try out a spa, and also she has been through a tough time lately with looming redundancy (thanks Conservative government!) hanging over her head. Plus, you know, she has a car.

So last Friday we set off to the wilds of Huddersfield to spa it up. And when I say the wilds of Huddersfield, I mean it. This place is in the middle of nowhere (which we should have figured, relaxing spas tend not to be in the hustle and bustle of a city centre). Also you have to factor in the fact that we are from Hull. Hull has no hills. And I really cannot emphasise this enough. It’s honestly the flattest place you’ve ever seen, there are only about 2 places driving instructors can take you to practice hill starts. We’re mostly below sea level. We do not cope well with hills. Huddersfield. Is hilly. Very hilly.

It’s probably also very picturesque but neither of us were looking at the lovely views given that we were both pretty certain that we were going to die on the narrow twisty turny country roads. This was not helped by the ever-friendly sat nav who wanted to take us off-roading down a road that clearly had not been driven down in about 10 years. Eventually we saw the spa far below us in a valley so we knew we just had to keep going down and we’d get there in the end. All I can say is at least we were heading for a spa – you’ll need it after the journey there.

The spa itself was brilliant and right up my street. For the £20 we had access to the gym, swimming pool with steam room and sauna, lunch in the bistro, use of the relaxation room and use of the Heat Experience – a spa area with foot spas, experience showers, sauna, steam room, ice chip room, plunge pool. All excellent.

I did have a minor freak out when I discovered that Culture Friend didn’t like steam rooms or saunas. Or gyms. Worrying. Thankfully she booked herself a facial (she wasn’t being profligate, she found out the day before that she has a new job, hurrah!), otherwise I was really afraid that the day was going to be horrific for her. I hope it wasn’t because I was loving it.

I did book myself a treatment, a body cleanse for an extra £35. Really wish I hadn’t bothered, it wasn’t really worth it. I got body brushed, which I admit did leave my skin feeling tingly, although it was on the borderline between pain and pleasure, and then had an oil applied to my skin. It was nice but not £35 nice. Plus I had to cope with nakedness (why didn’t I think I was going to have to take my top off?!) and noisy bitches in the spa who clearly didn’t get the memo about the spa being a relaxing, quiet place.

I felt more than a little refreshed after gymming, swimming, steaming and sauna-ing myself and having a nice long shower in the changing rooms after all that. Then it was in to the relaxation room which was just a low-lit room with lots of cushions and soft seating about where you could have a little read or a little sleep. I did both (and only got mildly irritated by the guy who had stolen all the pillows from the sofa and was lying on them) and it was so nice to just take the time out to relax. I know you say to yourself “I could do this at home” but you never do, do you? There are always going to be too many distractions getting in the way. It was beyond soul-restoring to be able to just lie there and not think about all the stressful things and people and instead think about the people and things that make me happy.


Having said all this I feel I need to point out that only paying £20 for this deal was the thing that left me feeling really good. Normally you would pay £65 per person for what we experienced (body cleanse not included) I really really have my doubts as to whether I would pay that amount of money out. It seems a little steep to not even have a treatment thrown in.

But what I shall be doing is keeping it in mind if I ever come into a great deal of money. And I’ll be keeping my eye out for special offers, there is a hotel attached and they have some offers on that include a night’s stay, breakfast hamper, lunch and dinner, use of the gym, swimming pool and Heat Experience, that could be worth looking at. (At the moment is doing a 2 for 1 offer on the £65 per person deal OR a 2 for 1 offer for £99 which includes everything we had, plus the overnight stay, breakfast hamper and meal in the bistro.)
But I really can’t put a price on taking the time out to begin to get my head together and really I’d have paid any amount if I’d have known how good I was going to feel afterwards.

Culture friend’s opinion?

"Facial was amazing, including a hot towel/massage to the feet-cleanse-tone-exfoliate-shoulder/neck/face massage-face mask (with lovely eye cooling pads on) and then moisturised. Was very chilled afterwards and my skin felt lovely. I think it was worth the money but do wish these things were available cheaper so they could be a regular thing!

I really enjoyed the day but was a bit disappointed by the Heat experience area (it smelled like a gym changing room, yuck!) and not being a gym bunny only really made use of the pool which appealed to my being a shorty/having a fear of deep water as it was an even 1.2m all the way across meaning my unfit lungs could take a break half way across without swallowing half the pool! I therefore wouldn’t have been as impressed if we had paid full price I must admit! I would love to spend a weekend there (with half a day full of treatments…clearly when the lottery win finally comes in!) I will certainly be keeping an eye on the email offers! Favourite parts of the day: facial, lunch and relaxation room book reading time!"

Monday, 16 August 2010

A letter to American Girl

Dear American Girl.

So. I know that you went to Vegas this weekend with American Boy and a mutual friend. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little jealous. It’s not fair. It should be me getting to go over to Vegas and see you, not this other guy (man, he’s not even a good host!).

Anyway it’s made me think about when I was over in 2008 and we took a little road trip to Vegas for a few days.

I remember getting up at ridiculous o’clock in the morning, feeling very confused and still a little jet lagged to climb into the car and begin the journey. And we had a Wendys which was very exciting.

And we saw lots of cacti on the sides of the road and American Boy informed us that Arizona was the only place that particular type of cactus grows.

Road trip + important trivia = Amazingness.

It kind of took forever though. Why is America so big?

And we stopped off at the Hoover Dam. Which is kinda big. And I felt kind of gross just wandering around in tracky bottoms and a t-shirt borrowed from American Boy but then I realised that there were loads of weird tourists wearing similar things so I didn’t feel as bad.

And then we got to VEGAS (you always have to say it like it’s spelled in capitals) and we got to our hotel that was called the Tropicana and which made me sing Wham songs any time I thought about it. How quickly did that get annoying?
I wish I remembered everything that we did and on what day but it all merged into one really because VEGAS is a little mental. I think it screwed with my head a bit. I had no concept of day or night or anything in between because nothing. ever. stopped. It was so confusing.

Jet lag + Vegas = Hurting brain.

Do you remember going to our Stripper 101 class? And the ladies taught us to dance all sexy like? (Except when I did it it didn’t seem sexy so much as just plain awful.) And remember how the next day I nearly cried when I was getting changed because I couldn’t lift my arms above my head? Man that was a good workout.

Remember when we had sushi with Sherman? We were queuing up to eat at a half price sushi place and the waitress told us that we were unlikely to get in because guests of the hotel had priority and then Sherman appeared out of nowhere and said that we could eat with him. So we all sat at a table together and he freaked me out so much that I could barely speak and you were pretty sure he was a crazy axe murderer type. I do wonder what Sherman’s up to now.

Ha and how about when we went to Studio 54 inside the MGM (and while we’re on it, how about the real life lions in the freakin’ MGM?) and my head nearly fell off at the amazingness of it all? And we drank vodka and red bull until our livers nearly exploded and danced like crazy people (one of us kept showing off moves we’d learned in the Stripper 101 class if I remember correctly) and then dancing almost naked ladies appeared from the ceiling and did all kinds of acrobatics – remember that one that was like spinning round by her neck?! And then there were balloons and gold confetti falling from the sky and then you said we had to leave and I was like “WHY?! THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING NIGHT EVER!” and you pointed out that it was gone 3am (another example of being able to not tell what time it was, that place was still jumping man!) and then we went back to the Hotel Tropicana and we went to restaurant and we ate chips.

Was that the night that we got in and American Boy demanded that we order pizza and then passed out before they came? Or was that another night?

And then the next morning when we had to get up ridiculously early to go to the House of Blues to an all you can eat buffet with gospel singing? Yeah that was a poor life choice. I wanted to cry because the sight of all the food made me throw up at first (although I was pleased I pulled it together at the end and managed to eat the jambalaya. Man that was good jambalaya.) and then I didn’t feel much like praising the lord at 10am with a raging vodka and red bull hangover. And then we had that photo taken of us all and we look like absolute shit. I love that photo, I look at it all the time and it makes me laugh.

There were about a billion other things that happened, I haven’t even got around to mentioning the time when we saw the hookers being talked to by the police (and you taking a photo of it) and how I wanted to cry when we saw the fountains playing at the Bellagio because it was so amazing and I was so happy to be there.

Anyway I just wanted to say thank you again for taking me there. We need to go back one day you know. Then I might even work up the courage to actually gamble instead of messing about on the slots.

I miss you, you know, I think we need to work on bringing America and Britain closer together. And I mean physically. We’ve already got the ‘special relationship’ going on lady.


The Girl

PS Are you crying yet?

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

I never thought I'd say this...

...but I’m officially a Weightwatchers Cult member. I accept this and welcome it with open arms.

It’s had the unfortunate side effect of turning me into the person I used to hate though.

But with that I’ve had a revelation. I only hated that person because;

a) I hated myself, and
b) I didn’t understand what the hell they were talking about.

I didn’t want to hear about people successfully losing weight because I knew that I was steadily gaining. I didn’t want to believe that Weightwatchers was necessary because we all know that if you eat less and exercise more then you lose weight.

Eventually I had to ask myself this question – if you know that “all you have to do” is eat less and exercise more, then why aren’t you?

I can’t answer that to be honest. Who knows. Maybe it was just my fear of failing – better to not try Weightwatchers and sit and sneer at it instead of giving it a go and perhaps finding it didn’t work for me.

I’ve tried hard not to become a Weightwatchers Apostle and have failed a few times recently. It’s hit me hard because I swore I wouldn’t become one of those people. But I now understand how it happens. You rarely get people asking about Weightwatchers and wanting to know how it works, instead you get faced by people (who were like me two months ago) who sit and tell you what Weightwatchers is and isn’t and why it doesn’t/won’t work. I do feel defensive about it, I has worked for me and you want to try and desperately explain that it’s not the big bad d-word and that it’s really sensible.

But I'm to reign myself in when I can feel I'm proselytising. Because at the end of the day, everyone has to find the thing that works for them. Weightwatchers is working for me. It might not work for others. Instead I’m concentrating on myself, it’s not up to me to tell people that Weightwatchers is great, if they want to lose weight they will find their own way. I will continue doing my own thing.

The biggest thing I found difficult to comprehend before is that Weightwatchers isn’t really a diet. I genuinely don’t believe it is. It’s something which has allowed me to make that “lifestyle change” that really annoying thin people always bang on about. It’s educated me – I thought that I was fairly savvy about food before but I’ve learnt I really wasn’t. My main problem was a question of portion size – I would think I was being healthy and would have been if I wasn’t eating enough for 3 people.

I won't lie, at the beginning it’s a complete pain in the arse and you have to weigh things and check things and yes it’s a little time consuming and irritating. But it really all depends on how much you want to lose weight. If you really want to do it, you’ll make the effort. At this point I don’t weigh things anywhere near as much as I used to, I know how much rice/pasta/meat to cook and I’m confident enough that I’m generally making the right choices to stay within my points allowance.

It all depends on how you take the term “diet”. If it means “you can’t eat what you want” then yes, fair enough, it’s a diet. But that’s life. I can’t eat everything that I want to eat, that’s how I ended up over 16 stone. Can I have some of what I want? Hell yes. Do I have crisps most days? Erm hell yes. I just don’t eat an entire family size bag each night.

Do I ever have that horrible hungry feeling you get when you’re dieting and not allowing yourself anything nice? Never. (Which has amazed me because I’m eating far far less than I used to) And if I do get hungry, I eat. I just eat an apple instead of bar of chocolate. To me that’s not dieting, it’s being sensible.

(I won’t lie. The embolism kick-started me into taking this Weightwatchers thing seriously. I want to do everything I can to make sure that my body is working properly. It is definitely something that helps as a motivating factor.)

Nobody understands Weightwatchers less than my Mum. In fact no-one understands the concept of weight loss less than my Mum. She is, always has been and always will be, a skinny malink. She doesn’t need to worry about getting fat because her appetite won’t allow it, I barely see her finish a plate of food, and that’s fine, it’s just how she’s meant to be. This means that she finds it incredibly difficult to understand;

a) how people get fat in the first place, and
b) how people go about losing weight once they’ve got fat.

Over the past 3 days I had two irritating, yet hilarious, conversations with her that perfectly illustrate how much she doesn’t “get it.”


Mum: What have you been doing today?
Me: Not a lot, did my laundry, did some baking [made these muffins as recommended by Mooncalf. They’re about 3.5 points each if you speak the lingo. And more importantly, frickin' acesome.]
Mum: [high pitched voice] Ooh 1lb! 1lb! [referring to my 1lb gain last week]
Me: Yeah it’s really not a big deal Mum, for a start they’re low fat and secondly I’m not going to eat the whole freakin’ lot am I? I’m allowed a muffin every so often. JESUS.


Mum: How did weigh-in go?
Me: Good, I lost 4lbs and have now officially lost 2 stone [in your face 1lb gain last week!]
Mum: Oh my goodness you’re losing weight too fast.
Me: Yeah I’m not being daft, I’m not starving myself, it’s just the way it’s going at the moment, I’ll plateau sooner or later.
Mum: Well you can’t lose too much, when you stop Weightwatchers you’ll put it all on again.
Me: Yeah, thanks for the excellent support Mum.

She means well, she just doesn’t get it. And that’s fine. I don’t care if no-one else gets it. I do. And that’s enough for me.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Crazy Cat Lady Part 3 - Lady Celestine of Shedley

Aaaaah Lady Celestine of Shedley.

You are a mysterious creature.

You just suddenly appear without warning. One moment you’re not there and the next we see you streaking across the tops of the sheds like a black whirlwind, not allowing us to ever get a decent photograph of you.

Why don’t you ever stop and stay awhile? We are lovely you know, Eddie and Professor McTufty are great friends of ours.

We want to ask you so many questions – like, “Why on earth are your ears so big, woman?!”

But you never stay. Not for long. If we get too close you retreat further along the shed roof, out of the way of fingers wanting to touch your magical black fur. But you don’t run away completely, which I’m taking as a good sign.

Do you just need more time Lady Celestine?

Some would say it is quite rude to ignore offers of strokes and love and then come into the garden to vomit on the path.

But we would never say that.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Day of Culture

In a need to keep busy at weekends, coupled with a desperate need to not spend any money, a friend and I decided that what we needed to do was soak up some of Hull’s culture this weekend.

(Yes thank you very much, we do have it. But let’s not talk about our attempted bid to become City of Culture in 20-whatever.)

In fact we have so much culture that one day isn’t going to be enough and there’s going to be a repeat trip. In your face Hull Culture Doubters!

This weekend’s culture tour comprised of Ferens Art Gallery, the Maritime Museum and a stroll around the Marina and docks.

Ferens Art Gallery

Always underrated I feel and no need to be because it’s slap bang in the middle of town. Like right in the middle. I used to love this place when I was a wee thing, especially a kind of horrifying picture which you can see here. No idea why I loved it so much because it’s not normal material for a child to like but I was totally obsessed with it.

What is always nice about Ferens is that they usually have pretty good visiting exhibitions on. There’s two at the moment – one about Ern Shaw, a Hull-born illustrator, featuring many pictures of his work including designs for Happy Families playing cards and Hull City football club comic strips. There’s also an area for kids to play a giant snakes and ladders board game and there’s a tree on the wall for you to stick leaf-shaped post-its with your thoughts on. My favourite was the person that wrote “I liked this gallery, but it smelled of crisps”.

The other exhibition is rather amazing, and is called Manic Mechanics – Moving Sculpture by Johnny White and Amanda Wray. The reason this exhibition is so good?

Two words baby. HANDS. ON.

The sculptures are made out of various pieces of scrap metal and are amazing to look at in themselves but have the added bonus of having levers and knobs and switches to flick and pull and press to make the sculptures move about or make noises. Some of them actually freaked me out a bit. Not least the one with 6 babies heads which all spun round and cried. When I wasn’t expecting it. Lovely. The owl and pussycat in their pea-green boat was rather lovely though and there’s an opportunity for you to get on an exercise bike to make one of the sculptures move – culture AND exercise?! Brilliant. (visit them here to see some of the exhibits)

It’s at Ferens until Sunday 5th September. So you should

I asked my friend for her overall reaction to Ferens Art Gallery as someone who had never been before (SHOCKING!) and didn’t have the whole nostalgic vibe I had for it:

“Hmm, well I loved Ferens Art Gallery but feel they need a few more modern displays; the cartoon kids area was really cool (apart from the man who insisted on talking to his wife and child at the top of his voice!) My favourite part was the post-it note tree with the messages left from visitors, especially the note left by the 71 year old! Also, more interactive parts please Mr Ferens Art Gallery,although these were actually quite scary at first, I imagine the rotating screaming baby heads may freak some small children out...”

Hull Maritime Museum

Also slap bang in the city centre this museum is the kind of museum that gives museums a bad name. It is boring. B.o.r.i.n.g. I mean I know the clue is in the title but unless you are seriously into your ships and shit this is not going to be for you. I see why it’s there, we’re all about the boats and stuff in Hull what with it being a dock and all (please note. Hull is not on the sea. It’s not even near the sea. It’s on the River Humber. Don’t come here looking for a beach holiday).

It even smells like museum.

It is worthwhile popping your head in to see the big huge whale skeleton and the rather cool collection of narwhal tusks. I’m kind of obsessed with narwhals. It is in serious need of updating and they need to work on getting the place lighter, it’s so dim and dingy. Not good.

Although on the upside, I did learn a new term. “Scrimshandering.” I’m working on finding a way to introduce it into my speech every day.

And Culture Friend’s thoughts:

“Yawn! I’m sorry I know it’s our heritage, blah, blah, but really could be a little bit more interesting Mr Maritime museum (think I could do his job better!) The place smells funny as well. To be honest I was ready to go for lunch within minutes of being in there!”

The Marina

Parts of the docks were redone fairly recently when the World Trade Centre was built and there’s a particularly lovely sculpture down at the bottom.

Also. The Deep is there. People should go to The Deep if they come to Hull. It’s cool. Alas it was not on the list for the Day of Culture because it costs pennies.

We also went to have a look at the old Fruit Market. It’s in a derelict part of the city centre but there were huge plans to invest and do it all up and make it marvellous. These plans are now kind of hanging in the balance thanks to Hull Forward (our economic regeneration company, responsible for making know...nice again) being disbanded and shut down.

Thanks Mr Cameron.

It is open and sort of full of random old stalls. I kind of get what it’s trying to do but I’m not really feeling it at the moment. Some old bloke selling his watercolours of cats is not going to cut it I’m afraid.

I do have high hopes for the Museum of Club Culture (which pretty much does what it says on the tin) and I’ll be back over the Bank Holiday weekend when there’s some fun stuff going on.


How's that for one day? One day of culture. In the Hull. There will be more to come...

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Hook in hand

I haven’t totally forgotten about crocheting you know.

I just haven’t had chance to blog about it (bar my post about SIBOL and my first blanket).

Behind the scenes I have been wielding my hook about in a frantic fashion, in the process of making another blanket.

This blanket is special. It will be for my new niece or nephew (please be a niece please be a niece I already have three nephews thank you please) who will be joining us at the end of October/beginning of November. Not knowing the sex I went out and tried to pick out neutral baby colours, so the yellows and greens and whites. I snuck a bit of purple in there which I know is a little on the girly side and is probably a case of wishful thinking but I’m hoping it’s not too girlified?

I know that some of you (especially Heather!) are going to be recoiling in horror at the sight of all this pastel going on but in my head a baby blanket is a pastel thing. I just couldn’t go brighter I’m afraid. Plus my brother and his wife are kind of traditional, I think if I handed them anything more garish they wouldn’t know what to do about it.

I started this little bad boy days after the ex and I split up, I needed something to keep my hands busy and my mind off what I’d just done. There were plans for this blanket to actually be a ripple but those plans fell through when I realised I CAN’T RIPPLE.* Rather than give myself a brain aneurism about it I decided to put rippling aside and stick with what I knew. Heather’s lovely granny squares.

I set about like a mad woman, smoke was coming from my hook and I was like something obsessed. And soon I had lovely little piles of grannies all ready to be joined together.

And then I stalled.

I just have this brain block when it comes to joining them together. I know it’s not difficult, I discovered that when I got over my brain block with my blanket and yet still, whenever I think about it my brain makes groaning and clanking noises and I just have to banish all thoughts until peace is restored.

However, when I saw my sister-in-law this weekend and realised that she’s now entering her final trimester I realised that I’d better get my backside in gear (nothing like an impending deadline to kick you into action). So I have begun the joining up process. Life is pretty busy at the moment so I’m trying not to be too hard on myself and have set myself the task of joining just two rows together a night. And what do you know? It's now all joined together.

Still. Next (!) time I do this I’m learning how to join as I go to avoid all this nonsense again.

Since getting the squares all joined together I have been on a crochet frenzy, getting the edging sorted but haven't got around to taking photos yet. I reckon I'm going to be sorted well before the due date (she says confidently and inviting trouble).

*I haven’t given up on the idea of rippling. I will re-commence efforts soon. And yes I’ve tried Lucy’s pattern and it was hers I was struggling with. I have strong suspicions this is a left-handed problem and I have plans to try and mess about and figure it out. I just don’t have time right now!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Zen Master

I can, at times, be slightly mental highly strung. I am quick to be stressed out and easily fall apart, even if only momentarily.

Until now.

If I am going to take away one thing post break-up it is my ability to be a Zen Master. I have been trying really really hard to remain cool and calm and collected.

People have behaved disappointingly since the break-up. There are people who have not got in touch with me at all about it and people who have decided that Facebook is an appropriate medium for friendship in times like these. Some of these people have not surprised me in the slightest, others have left me gobsmacked, all have required me to re-assess how I view some of my friendships.

And thus the Zen Master was born.

I realised I had a couple of choices. I could have it out with those friends – call them out on their appalling behaviour and let them know how disappointed I was in them. I could stop speaking to them altogether. Or I could just let it go.

I can now accept that those people who have been there for me are really the only ones that matter. I know who those people are, I hope they know who they are, they are the one who were relentless in their checking up on me, who constantly asked me what I needed help with, who always listened with judgement. Why would I waste time on anyone else? Why should I invest my time and energy on those who clearly do not value my friendship?

The old Girl would have held this grudge deep inside and let it fester like a rotting, maggoty piece of meat. The old Girl would have cut those friends off, deleted them from Facebook and just never spoken to them again. Or she would have been snippy and rude to them when she did see them, letting them know that she was annoyed but being unwilling to tell them why.

I really really hate confrontation and arguments. I get flustered and I cry. I don’t have to be sad, but I will cry anyway. Whatever emotion I have, it will come leaking out of my eyes and trickling down my cheeks and I am incapable of stopping it.

So I have learned to just let it go. Yes, they have been disappointing. Yes, they are crappy friends. No, I won’t be making any great effort to meet up or stay in touch. But will they remain my friends? Yes, they will. They might not be close friends anymore but they will still be friends. I have looked at my relationships with them and thought very hard about whether I still want them in my life. On reflection, yes I do still want them in my life, I’m not one to throw away years of friendship over something like this, especially when I know that I do have good friends on my side.

Maybe that’s what makes it easier to let it go. I know that I have several very good friends that I can rely on (not to mention a family) and have realised that that is all I need. That allows me to not get stressed out and annoyed at these other people – why get stressed out about someone not being there for you when you’ve already been glued back together by others?

The Zen Master act has been quite liberating. I am able to stand back and really look at things and ask myself, “Is this something worth getting stressed and worried and frantic and upset about?” The answer has invariably been, “No.”

I have not perfected the Zen Master art yet and there have been several wobbles along the way but it’s allowed me to focus on more important things, and people, in the past month or so.

It’s also an art that came in incredibly handy when I discovered that Hull City Council had taken £104 worth of council tax out of my account for a property I haven’t lived in since the middle of June and was informed it will be at least 3 weeks until I can hope to see it again.

Aaaaaaaand breathe.

And if the Zen Master routine fails I have an always patient, reasonable and indefatigable ear to chew off and a pillow to pummel.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Falling off the wagon

It had to happen sooner or later.

This week was the first week I put on weight since starting The Cult of Weightwatchers at the beginning of May.

1 whole pound.

I knew it was coming, the week had been chaos and I’d ended up eating out about 5 times during the week and didn’t have chance to go to the gym. I think it was about Thursday when I abandoned all hope of losing weight that week and decided to fall off the wagon in spectacular style. I decided to just go for it and eat whatever I wanted and to the devil with it all.

But then the guilt set in. Because I knew that I should have told myself not to give up. I should have tracked what I could and made more sensible choices when I was eating out. I should have made more of an effort with my lunches and made a big vat of soup so I had something to take into work each day, or got up earlier to make a salad, instead of ending up spending money I don’t have in M&S and Boots. I should have made more of an effort to go the supermarket that sells the sugar-free jelly sachets so I could have a zero points snack. I should have made more of an effort to go to the fruit and veg stall in the market. I should have made a decision not to get complacent because I’ve done so well so far and people have noticed and been complimenting me.

But I didn’t.

Tuesday was a horrible day. I hate Tuesdays at the best of times but this one seemed to drag on forever and the closer it got to meeting time the worse I felt. I felt sick. I wanted to cry.

I understand these reactions may seem extreme but I was just so disappointed with myself. I had no-one else to blame but myself for what had happened and that’s never a good feeling, there should always be someone else to blame. Plus. I absolutely hate failing at things. Hate it hate it hate it. To the point where I won’t try things because not trying seems easier than trying and failing. I didn’t want to fail at this, not when things have been going so well.

I got home and sat there. “I’m not going to go” I told myself. I didn’t want to know what the scales were going to say. I didn’t want it written down in black and white. I told myself that I could pretend this week never happened, skip it, and just go next week. But I knew I couldn’t. Sometimes you have to just face the music.

I dragged myself there. They must have known by the look on my face that I didn’t want to be there. If they hadn’t known they probably figured it out when I said “I really don’t want to be here.” But they were lovely as they always are and my leader, Laura, said to me “But that’s good that you’ve come here, it’s really good.”

I stepped on the scales and closed my eyes and held my breath (and then thought, “Wait, what if all this air I’m holding in is weighing me down?” and let it out again).


It’s so insignificant. And it really is. I was definitely imagining a 3-4lb weight gain so really I was happy but that 1lb might as well have been 10lbs for the guilt and annoyance I felt.

But ultimately I left feeling renewed. I’ve had my slip up. We’re all allowed them from time to time. I just need to push a little bit harder this week.

I’m back tracking like the good girl I am and Dorothy and I are working on a rota for cooking so I know what I’m doing when. Most of the problem lately has been sheer laziness and getting back into the swing of cooking. There are loads of pieces of paper hanging about with recipes I’ve seen that I want to try out and now I need to get my backside in gear and sort it out. I’m trying to make time to go to the gym (difficult when I don’t really want it to rule my life) and making the extra effort to get my backside out of bed in the morning so I can walk in.

I would say fingers crossed for next week. But I shouldn’t have to say that. I am the only person that can be in control of that and it’s up to me to make sure that that 1lb has disappeared into thin air next Tuesday.

(But if you could maybe think nice thoughts that would be nice.)

PS Please do not worry. I am not letting WW rule my life. I am well aware that sometimes life is going to get in the way and it just won't be possible to lose weight every week and this is precisely what happened last week. I just wanted to document this occasion.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

These are my girls

It all started back in September in 2009.

An old work colleague knew that I liked my cross stitch and told me that someone she knew was setting up a Stitch & Bitch group. We would get together on a Thursday evening and do our little projects and generally make merry.

I hesitated. I’m not always very good with new people. I do one of two things:

1. Retreat into my shell and not utter a word all night
2. Overcompensate for my shyness by being very loud and irritating

I’m yet to find a happy medium.

But, figuring I had nothing else to lose I made my way there. Everyone else seemed to know each other and I felt more than a little on the outside and most definitely intimidated, I wasn’t really sure if it was for me. “Well I don’t have to go every week” I told myself “let’s just see how it goes, you don’t even know if you’ll like them all that much.”

If you’d told me that 9 months later I would still be going, I might have sort of believed you but been a little dubious.

If you’d told me that 9 months later I would be putting pieces in an exhibition that would be featured on a website (please note these weren’t mine but someone else’s in the group) a podcast be in The Guardian’s Guide, and have my photo in the local paper, I’d have made you a cup of tea and got you to sit down and have a little rest.

If you’d told me that 9 months later I would have sold some of the pieces in the exhibition I would have started to back away nervously.

If you’d told me that 9 months later I would be living with one of those ladies, I would be arranging to visit you in the sanitarium.

And yet all the above is true.

I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I can’t imagine not going every Thursday to meet them and talking to them most days in between.

They have been my saviours.

(Too dramatic?)

Ok. Well it feels as if they have. I was getting to the point where I didn’t know if I could be bothered to make any new friends but here is this whole new group. They were responsible for introducing me to the delights of wandering down Princes Ave and Newland Ave and visiting every charity shop. They have made me think about some of the things I say. They have made me assess and re-assess my actions in certain situations.

They were there for me when I was thinking about ending my relationship and offered me just the right amount of support – no unwanted and unsolicited advice came from them, I knew they were there to listen if I wanted to talk (even if we are terrible for all talking over one another and tend to take half an hour to tell a 5 minute story because of the interruptions).

And then one of them really did become my saviour, providing me with somewhere to live if I did end things with the boyfriend. If it wasn’t for her I honestly do not know where I would be right now. I wasn’t financially able to live on my own so I would either have been living with my mother (the thought of which still makes my head hurt) or I would have still been unhappily in my relationship, too scared to make the move to walk away.

I have grown in confidence a million-fold since that day in September. I have gone from being totally reliant on someone else’s cross stitch patterns to being able to design my own kind of thing, all by myself (commissions are welcome!). When I was struggling with getting to grips with crocheting, one of the Stitchettes brought in her own crochet blanket she was working on to show me what I could make if I just stuck at it. And these ladies are also going to help me try and conquer the last frontier of fear – dresses (they really do strike fear into my very soul).

They are. In short. Amazing. And this post only goes a little way towards saying thank you to them.

And even though I haven’t sold all of my pieces and I will find myself sat at home, surrounded by them, wondering what in god’s name I’m supposed to do with them all, I won’t be disappointed because I have gained so much more than I ever thought possible.

Thank you ladies.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Fred and Lily update

Were you wondering how Fred and Lily are?


They are doing just fine.

Mum has become much braver about letting them out now and they go out for a little bit most days. This is a relief because I was starting to wonder if she was ever going to do it. You can’t blame her given what happened to Mabel and Fred doing his disappearing act, but cats are meant to play outside.

They are finding their feet when it comes to being in the big outdoors and have set about trying to make friends.

There are 2 cats nearby that Mum and I call, Big Mabel (who is actually a boy) and Big Mabel’s Sister (there is logic here. They both look like Mabel and one has a blue collar and one has a pink collar) Fred and Big Mabel (BM) do not get along. Fred took it upon himself to try and take BM on one day and came off the worse in the altercation. They just keep a safe distance from each other.

BM’s Sister is another matter however and there appears to be a budding romance going on between Fred and BMS. This could be the reason that BM and Fred aren’t getting on, BM’s being the protective older brother and trying to keep his sister away from the attentions of the ginger whinger.

Help could be at hand for Fred though in the form of Lily who appears to have struck up a friendship with BM. We knew nothing about this until she was spotted late one evening, having escaped through an open window, strolling up the street with BM. Mum was less than impressed, both with her escape antics and her choice of late night walking partner.

They have both learned the hard way that the buzzy black and yellow things are not friends.

Apart from that life is pretty much the same old, same old. Lily continues to sleep in her favourite place, on top of the kitchen cupboards and Fred sleeps on the bed, preferably on your clothes if you happen to leave them there.

They both still enjoy a good rampage about the house.


Here ends the Fred and Lily update.