Sunday, 31 October 2010

October Book Review

The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton

I’ll admit that there was a touch of the book snobbery that went on between myself and this book. Sometimes we all succumb to it and although I have no idea how it ended up on my bookshelf (I tend to suspect The Times/WH Smith book of the week offer for all random purchases on my shelves) I eyed it with some suspicion for quite some time, thinking that it wouldn’t be “My type of book.”

So it was quite nice to be surprised really when I got going with this book and found myself thoroughly absorbed in the story. It tells the story of three women from each generation and their discovery to find out who they are and where they came from, both genealogically and spiritually.

I have to admit that at certain points along the way it felt like the book was really too long and could have been cut down a margin, but it wasn’t that much of a turn-off, and the love story that appears at the end felt a little clunky and actually unnecessary, I would have been more impressed if things hadn’t been so formulaic. Nonetheless, this was a good read and I will be keeping my eye out for copies of The House at Riverton, now that my snobbery has been abolished.

We Are All Made of Glue – Marina Lewycka

I read A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian years ago and loved it and have been meaning to read Two Caravans but have just never got around to buying it (strange seeing just how many books I do get around to buying).

I didn’t love this as much as Tractors (yes that’s right, I can’t be bothered to type out the title again). It has the same kind of warmth and humour in it and I enjoyed reading it but it just didn’t rock my world really. Mrs Shapiro is a wonderful character and really the most likeable person in the book – I think where it fell down was that I couldn’t muster up enough feelings towards the main character, Georgie Sinclair. She’s kind of a sap to be honest and even when she’s not being a sap I just couldn’t care enough about her.

Mrs Shapiro is Georgie’s elderly neighbour – living in a massive crumbly old house with a plethora of cats – and when she has an accident, she names Georgie as her next of kin. Georgie then has to go into battle to defend Mrs Shapiro’s right to live in her house against foes such as social services and hungry estate agents, but on the way begins to discover more of Mrs Shapiro’s past.

It was good, it’ll just never get read again if you know what I mean.

The Piano Tuner – Daniel Mason

I think Jill might have recommended this to me a long while back and I saw it in a charity shop and picked it up for a couple of quid. I like getting hardbacks for not much money, I feel like I’ve beaten the system somehow.

Slightly wimpy piano tuner Edgar Drake gets summoned by the army to travel to Burma to tune a rare piano. The piano belongs to an eccentric Surgeon-Major, Anthony Carroll, who has succeeded in bringing peace to the warring Shan states but is a law until himself.

The book tells the story of Edgar’s journey across from misty London to the jungles of Burma and into the arena of Carroll, who may, or may not, be all as he seems.

The pace of this book is slow. S.l.o.w. Perhaps this was purposely to reflect the slow journey he makes across to Burma (we don’t meet Carroll until half way through the book) or perhaps it’s just a slow book. Who knows.

And whilst you’re wading through the book and wondering if it’s ever going to end, it suddenly shoots off into the distance and the last 50 pages of the book race ahead like some kind of whirligig, leaving you struggling for breath behind it, saying “Whaaaaaaat? What the hell is happening here?” And it continues at this breakneck speed right up until the very surprising end when you go, “My god. Did I enjoy that book or not?”

I’m still not sure to be honest. I felt like I was in a constant battle with Mason, begging him for just a little bit more information. I’m all for having to use your imagination at times in fiction but this was just too hard, I felt like things just never got explained and Wimpy Edgar’s wife back at home never gets a look in poor woman.

Strange would be my overall verdict but kind of worth reading, especially for the ending.

Superfreakonomics – Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

It seems probably pretty standard that I would like this book. I have the degrees and all but I promise you don’t have to an economics geek to appreciate this book and it’s bigger brother, Freakonomics. You don’t have to understand economic principles at all (good thing given that I’ve completely forgotten everything I’ve ever been taught) but you do have to be fairly nosy. Nosiness is an advantage because you will have to natural thirst to try and figure out why people behave in the way that they do.

I had a minor complaint with this book however. It’s a pitfall I guess when you have a suddenly massively popular book like Freakonomics that no-one really saw coming. I got a whiff when I was reading this one that they were trying just a little bit too hard to impress us with their ‘freaky’ ways. Freakonomics was good because it made you chuckle a bit, with Superfreakonomics they have deliberately set out to rock the boat – the subtitle of this book is “Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance” – see what I mean? Deliberately provocative.

But actually if you take that last bit about suicide bombers, this is actually a couple of pages at the end of what is actually an incredibly interesting chapter about behavourial economics and database and profile building. I know they have to hook people, hence the reference about suicide bombers but in a way things like irritated me. But I guess that’s possibly the snob in me.

I love it though, I’m bound to, I’m clearly biased, but it’s honestly and funny, clever and most importantly, easily digestible book which will make you consider the world just slightly differently.


Book of the month has to be Superfreakonomics I’m afraid. Entertaining and educational? Yes please! Although please check out Freakonomics as well because I actually kinda preferred that one.

I’m also thinking that I maybe need to look back over the winners of each month and perhaps come out with a Book of the Year. (Yes I am thinking that far ahead.) Thoughts?

Friday, 29 October 2010

So you think you can dance?

So a while ago I told you about the Pump (snigger) class that I started going to at my gym that I liked but that didn’t really feel like I’d worked up a sweat.

I’ve found my Working Up a Sweat class.

Oh my goodness me, lordy loo, this was the most fun I’ve had with clothes on in a long long time. Three of us signed up for the class, reckoning that there would be safety in numbers. It took us a while to get there, Zumba is unfortunately the latest big thing in the exercise world, meaning that the only two evening classes that the gym runs are booked out well in advance. It took careful preparation and a very early phone call the week before to finally get us in and we were all feeling more than a little trepidation by the time that we got there.

Beyond seeing early morning infomercials for Zumba I had no idea really what to expect, all I knew was that it was kind of like dancing. Hey I do that most days in the privacy of my own bedroom, I can handle doing it in a room full of other people surely.

There’s no beginners, intermediates or advanced classes in this. You’re all in this together. The instructor asked who was new and three hands shot up in the air – we weren’t pulled to the front, we weren’t given any special instructions, we were told to just have fun.

First things first. You need to be able to find the beat. People with no rhythm need not apply. Also an ability to independently move your arms and legs is a bonus. Not necessary, but a bonus or you’ll end up either smacking yourself in the face or the person behind you.

It’s basically Latin style dance steps. Of a sort. I don’t know that Len Goodman would approve of the kind of the salsa steps you’re doing but this is where the roots lie. Different songs come on and you keep dancing.

And dancing.

And dancing.

(Please remember to take a bottle of water with you or you might die.)

At one point I thought I was going to drop and then I made the mistake of looking at the clock. Only 25 minutes had passed. Not even half way through. That made me even more certain I was going to drop.

A bit later on I remembered the story of the red shoes and thought that I might be destined to dance forever.
A little bit later I wondered if I really should have made a will out.

But these were all secondary to the screaming voice in my head that kept shouting “OH MY GOD THIS IS THE MOST AWESOMEST THING EVER!”

And my request to find a class that would make me sweat was more than granted – I was pretty disgusting by the end of the class. But you know, disgusting in a self-satisfied way.

I wasn’t perfect by any means, there was one step in particular that I just could not get the hang of and when I tried very nearly broke my ankle, but I am determined I’ll get it next time. But there was only one crash in the class and that was into my friend so we decided that didn’t really count.

The three sweaty messes decided that we wanted to definitely do it again but our plan was foiled by the ridiculous popularity of the class which was already booked up for the next week by the time we came out of the changing rooms. You can only book classes one week in advance so this Monday I was well prepared and a phone call placed at 7.30am meant that the three of us are in, it’s an early morning phone call I think I’m going to be making for a long while to come.

It was hilarious, there is just no way you could do this and not laugh at some point, mostly at how inept you are. Try and not look at yourself in the floor to ceiling mirrors they insist on having in those rooms. And try not to stand directly behind the incredibly skinny person who has clearly been doing Zumba for a long time, the urge to whack her on the back of the head will become too strong.

Ooh and one more thing. A couple of days later you will become very aware of the fact that you have hips. I had no idea your hips could ache, Shakira once told me that her hips don’t lie and I guess mine don’t either, Zumba is a workout and a half.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Two little words

There are two words that strike fear in my very soul.

Fancy. Dress.

I hear those words and my heart sinks, it sinks far far down, past my stomach and nestles somewhere mid-thigh.

I find it hard to explain how much I hate it. Which is a drawback given that that’s the subject of this blog post.

I think it stems from the fact that I’m not a Look At Me (LAM). I think when people don’t have much confidence they go one of two ways – they retreat into themselves, keep quiet, keep their head down or they become incredibly loud and draw attention to themselves a.k.a. they become LAMs.

LAMs have always confused me somewhat. If you’re so afraid of people talking about you and being mean to you why would you start shouting and screaming and drawing attention? I think the basic premise is that if they are drawing attention to themselves then that is on their terms, they’re in control of what people are talking about and this is infinitely better than spending your time wondering and assuming that people are being awful to you. But this is merely conjecture, I can never know what goes on in a LAM’s head because I am 100% not a LAM.

Fancy dress sits comfortably with LAMs for obvious reasons but I have another theory why they like it so much. Fancy dress allows LAMs to not be themselves for a short period of time – the person that they are, the not confident, constantly paranoid being, gets shoved to the side and they get to become someone-else. If you’re someone-else then no-one can be mean to you for who you are – if they think your costume is rubbish well they’re just having a go at your lame attempt to be C-3PO, they’re not having a go at you yourself.

My fellow Anti-LAMs feel sick when it comes to the prospect of fancy dress. Actually sick. No jokes. That’s how much I don’t like it and how stressed I get at the thought of it. I actively try to not draw attention to myself, if I’m out and being drunk and rowdy I’m not trying to get people to look at me, I’m just having fun with my friends. I’m not the person standing there, breathing in, my eyes flickering constantly to the side seeing who’s watching me having fun, I’m too busy having the fun.

LAMs find my fear of fancy dress incredibly difficult to comprehend, “Oh come on, it’s not that big a deal” they’ll say. Well actually it is a big deal for me. If I decided that I wanted to go out for my birthday next year and everybody had to come out with me and we all had to be naked – how would you feel about that? Would you be up for it? Asking me to go out dressed in fancy dress garners the same response as if you asked me to go out naked. I do not want to do it.

I generally dislike being told what I should or should not be wearing. I don’t feel it’s anyone’s place to decree that you must dress in a certain way or wear a particular item of clothing. Surely you’re supposed to feel comfortable when you go out? There is no way on god’s earth I am going to feel comfortable in some ridiculous get-up.

And then they say “Well you don’t have to do it.” Right. Because being the only person not in fancy dress will be infinitely easier than just doing it and spending the night feeling like crap.

My favourite charge that gets levelled at me when I groan and pull faces about the possibility of fancy dress is that “you’re no fun.” No, sorry, incorrect. I am fun. I might not be confident about a lot of things but I’m confident that I’m an okay person to have on a night out. I know how to enjoy myself (and I’m getting better at doing it without the aid of alcohol. Slightly.) and I can do it wearing the very clothes that I’ve chosen to go out in. If I’m dressed up and feeling and looking like a twat I won’t be fun. I’ll be too busy worrying that I’m feeling and looking like a twat.

But there’s no way of getting out of it. It’s inevitably going to happen at some point and try as I might to avoid it there are certain situations where you have to succumb.

Hen-dos are such a time. A friend is getting married soon and we are off to Sheffield for the weekend to drink too much (yes including me, sorry Warfarin but I’ll be using alcohol to thin my blood this weekend) and hopefully embarrass her. And we’ll be doing it dressed in 50s/60s outfits.

The hen did text me shortly after the announcement was made telling me that she knew I would be freaking out about it but she chose something that could be widely interpreted and for that I thank her.

I am playing on the safe side. Very on the safe side. I got me a 50s-style dress (hurrah for Mad Men influencing the clothes in the shops and hurrah for Matalan for being inexpensive) and a Bump-it, lots of black eye liner and I can get into the spirit of things. Yes I know that technically I’m mixing my 50s and 60s but please don’t sue me. I won’t be wearing this kind of outfit like some of the girls are but hey, I’m sticking within the rules.

To be honest I still want to throw up and will almost definitely come close before we go out because I’m wearing something I would never normally wear but that’s where my good friend Alcohol will step up and help soothe away my anxieties. (Am I ever going to break this dependency on alcohol? I fear not unless I have a brain transplant and grow the confidence gene.)

But just spare a thought for me as I do my best to channel my inner LAM and come to terms with the horror.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Just because I don't weep and wail

Have you ever wanted something so much that you actually started to convince yourself it was true?

The reason I’ve been a little quiet lately is that as well as things being incredibly busy at work (it happens once in a blue moon before I’m left twiddling my thumbs and wondering what it is exactly I get paid for) I was preparing for an interview.

I wanted this job with every fibre and bone and inch of tissue and globule of blood in my body. Jobs in the kind of thing I want to do do not come around very often. In fact they just don’t come round at all. Especially in Hull. This job was related to what I do now, was a real step forward for me and I knew, I knew I could do it.

I have felt like I’ve been stagnating for a long time in my current role. I’m blocked from developing further by my boss (albeit inadvertently, he’s just not good at managing people) and by my line manager (who just has no idea what I’m capable of and seems determined to prevent me from doing my actual job) and it’s just irritating. I’m capable of more. I can feel my brain atrophying by the second the longer I stay in this position.

I applied for the job and threw myself into the application form – I spent a lot of time drafting and re-drafting my personal statement, determined to get it right. And I, along with 75 other people, applied for the job.

I didn’t hear anything for weeks and had resigned myself to the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen for me when I suddenly got an e-mail in my inbox – I was invited to interview.

My elation knew no bounds. I thought that I could really stand a chance at this. I prepared and I prepared and I prepared for the interview (this wasn’t just a bog standard interview – it involved a presentation, formal interview, interview with young people and a written test. Yes really.) because I really wanted to make sure that I got it right.

Whilst I was prepared I allowed myself to dream. I thought how great it would be to be hitting the heady heights of £20k a year instead of the pathetically awful-considering-I-have-a-Masters-degree £16k I’m currently on. I thought how great it would be to finally have some kind of idea of a career and develop that notion, instead of doing something that I’ve fallen into. In short I got carried away.

This wasn’t helped by the fact that my boss knew I was applying for the job (we’re both unhappy with things and both looking to escape, not least because our positions are only funded until June 2011) and kept talking about it as if I’d already got it, so certain was he that I would. I allowed myself to get swept away with it all and dare to dream.

I’m not an optimist at all – on a good day I’m a realist, on a bad day the worst pessimist you’ve ever met – but I don’t really apologise for it. It allows me to keep a level head and to not get disappointed very often, but for some reason all level-headedness disappeared and my brain went into full blown optimist mode.

I could do this job. I was qualified for this job. I could get this job.

Except that I didn’t get the job.

I crashed and burned severely over the weekend. And I mean severely. I don’t actually remember the last time I felt that hopeless. And that was the word – hopeless. I don’t deal well with losing at the best of times but the complete and utter sense of failure I felt was enormous and nearly crushed me, and is still leaning on me heavily.

I asked for feedback and I got it. It was between me and one other person. They didn’t doubt I could do the job for a second, but this person just scored slightly higher than me on the interview matrix and they have to do what the matrix tells them i.e. not hire me. They couldn’t really give me feedback because they said it wasn’t anything I’d done wrong and that it was such a close call that it came down to really tiny, almost insignificant things. They said that I need to try and take a lead on more projects in my current role – I explained that that was the problem I was in – I won’t get the chance to take the lead on projects in this role, that’s why I want to leave. But guess what? I can’t get jobs without demonstrating that I’ve taken the lead. Hello Catch-22.

They told me I shouldn’t be disheartened. That I should be pleased. Out of 76 people it came down to me and one other person, that’s a great achievement. I know that and I understand that’s good but this isn’t really the situation where 2nd place counts for something.

Trouble with me is I’m not that much of a weeper and wailer. I retreat into my shell and try to solve the problem myself. Whilst that tactic has its benefits, it has a tendency to mean that people just don’t see how hard I take some things. I think they think I’m armour-plated, “Oh she seems fine, she’s put things behind her and is getting on” but really I’m a wuss who takes things to heart. Really takes things to heart. I still beat myself up about things I did a long, long, long time ago and there’s no need to at all, everyone survived and got on with life, but I don’t like to not be good at things – I don’t like to think that I’ve failed at being a good girlfriend, a good friend or a good potential employee.

I know I’ll be fine, I might not be armour-plated but I am fairly resilient. I will feel good that I came in 2nd and I will carry on looking for other things. I will tell myself over and over that I’m not a failure because I know I’m not really. The level head will return. But, for now, I will continue to limp a little bit, lick my wounds and perhaps give out the odd wimper.

I didn’t really want to post about this, who wants to tell the whole internet that they suck at life, but I’m almost certain that it’s “creatively” blocking me at the moment and I’ve found it near on impossible to write about anything else.

Goodbye negative energy, goodbyyyyyyeeeeee.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Maggie & Maud Update

“How are Maggie and Maud?” I hear you ask.

Well let me tell you.
Maggie is hilarious to the max. She persists in giving the impression that she hates me with every fibre of her body. But only when Dorothy’s around. When it’s just me in the house I become the perfect substitute and she won’t leave me alone – she follows me about the house yowling and complaining that I’m not paying her any attention. If I’m sat at the table on my laptop she comes and sits beside me. When I go and sit on the sofa she will immediately climb (ungracefully it has to be said) up and sit as close to me as possible. She has even sat on my knee (she’s not a bigger sitter on knees kind of gal) but only when there’s no one else around to verify these facts.

This behaviour was brilliantly demonstrated recently. I had a half day and decided to put my pjs on and lie on my bed, have a read, mess about on the internet. I allowed Maggie to come up with me as a special treat. She lay her full length on the bed, she found a spot in the sun, she rolled about, she got upset when I lay down and turned my back on her, climbing over me to snuggle in against my front. Until it got to about the time when Dorothy would be due back from work, at which point she went downstairs to yowl and complain at Dorothy when she walked in to let her know how awful I was and how I’d been ignoring her.

The truth will come out though Maggie. There are photos to prove it...

Maud is a mysterious little creature. She spends most of her time outside, although as the nights draw in she is tending to stay in a bit more. She does her best to rile Maggie up by going and sitting as close to her as possible – she knows that although Maggie makes all the scary noises and hisses and growls at her, she never actually follows through on anything and secretly quite enjoys lying with her.

Maud’s most annoying trait is to not come in when you open the door and call for her, but to wait until you’re on the toilet or in the bath (our bathroom is downstairs by the way in case this doesn’t make sense) or making a cup of tea at which point she will howl relentlessly and pitifully to be let in and will not stop until the door is opened. This means that more often than not you’ll hear an exasperated cry from myself or Dorothy in the kitchen that will be something along the lines of “In a MINUTE Maud!”

She has also taken to Eddie’s trick (ah Eddie, I still can’t say your name without a tremor in my voice) of sitting on the garden wall, except instead of peering in at us, she somewhat creepily stares intently at the students who live in the house next door to us. She is an official Peeping Thomasina.


Here ends the Maggie and Maud update.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

At last...

Quick blog post from me.

Apologies for being not a brilliant blogger over the past couple of weeks, life has been doing it's utmost to be crap at the moment and get in the way of everything.

But I have to tell you this.

Because I want to put it on Facebook but can't because it's not my place...

Remember this blanket?

It finally has a recipient.

I have a niece at long long last.

Much as I love my 3 nephews I have been desperate for a niece and finally I have one.

Daisy was born a couple of hours ago and I am INCREDIBLY excited about it. EEK!

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Failsafe way to get rid of dirty callers

Many many moons ago before I was twinkle in my mother’s eye, she worked for the Samaritans.

(In fact I became a twinkle in her eye once she met my father there.)

As well as going out with a team to visit people in her homes she was in the office a lot, manning the phones and trying to help people in distress.

However they had one nuisance caller, who was making calls of a somewhat fruity nature shall I say.

The official line was given that they weren’t to put the phone down on this gentleman, he could be in need after all, but that they should instead try and steer the conversation away from dangerous territory and try and get him to talk about something innocuous.

One evening, my Mum gets the call. Keeping in her head that she has to distract him she starts to tell him that she’s currently re-decorating her house and that it’s keeping her very busy as there are lots of rooms to do.

He asked her “What’s your hall like?”

Mum was pretty pleased with herself, she had successfully got the dirty caller to stop making sexual remarks and got him interested in talking about home interiors instead.

“Well,” she said to him, “My hall is quite long and narrow with a very steep staircase in it, we have to be careful when we’re coming down it that we don’t fall, and there’s anaglypta wallpaper on it [don’t judge, it was the early ‘80s] and there’s the living room and the dining room off it and down at the bottom...”

At this point the man interrupted...

“Not your hall, I said what’s your HOLE like!”

And in disgust, he put the phone down on her.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Crazy Cat Lady Part 5: Eddie (again)

I am the bearer of sad news.

It would appear that while I’ve been a busy bee lately I neglected to notice the disappearance of my favourite man out of my life.

The thought suddenly came to me the other week, after weeks of not coming home until after dark and cat-sitting and general work woes I turned to Dorothy and said the fateful words:

“Have you seen Eddie about lately?”

She looked a little shifty and a little uncomfortable and with one swift sentence she broke my heart:

“I think he’s moved.”

I stayed in denial for a couple of days, he’d be back, he always appeared, I never went more than a couple of days without seeing him. But I started to work backwards. Just how long had it been since I last saw him? A week? Two weeks?

I was confronted with the awful truth one morning when I opened my bedroom curtains to realise that Eddie’s house looked different. The Hull City flag which used to hang in the bathroom window was no longer there. It really was true, he was gone.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to you that I have actually shed a little tear about this. (I know Diane in particular is shaking her head in exasperation at this point. Yes I really do love cats that much.) I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him. What happened when he got to his new place and went outside looking for me and couldn’t find me? What if they didn’t take him with them and put him in a shelter or worse? These questions have been going round my head on a loop.

Never again will I scoop up the big lump and look at his gormless face. Never again will I tell him to get out of Maud’s personal space because he gets too close to her. Never again will I despair at the dirtiness of his face and the fleas on him (probably won’t miss that bit). Never again will I go outside to see his big fat black and white face peering at me over the top of the shed roof. And never again, will I look up from tapping away at my laptop to see him sitting on the wall and peering in at me.

Farewell Eddie von Grumpy Face.

Monday, 18 October 2010

The greatest show on earth

Remember how I told you about the Humber Bridge and that if you’re from Hull it’s a law to love it?

There’s something else you have to love if you’re from Hull.

Hull Fair.

I feel I can confidently state that 99% of the people born in Hull have been at least once to Hull Fair. (And if they haven’t they’re frankly a little bit weird and we should probably disown them.)

It will be an integral part of any childhood memory. Somewhere, in the recesses of your mind you will remember what it felt like the first time you went on the waltzers or the big wheel or ate so much candyfloss, toffee apples, nougat, cinder toffee that you wanted to die. You’ll remember the first time you were allowed to go on your own. You’ll remember plucking up the courage to go on a ride that you really didn’t want to because you didn’t want to lose face in front of your friends.

You’ll remember the bus journeys there. Or the car journeys which took forever because you had to queue for what felt like hours to get into the car park. You’ll remember looking up into the sky at pretty much any point in Hull and being able to see the strobe lights in the sky. You’ll remember walking over the flyover on Anlaby Road and seeing the lights and becoming giddy with excitement.

You’ll remember the low buzz as you get closer and closer that grows and grows in volume until you reach Walton Street and all the street vendors and you get bowled over by the assault on your senses – chips and burgers and hot dogs and chestnuts and people yelling and shouting in every direction.

You'll remember the sheer joy you got from the first time you won a prize on Hook a Duck. Or Hook a Pingu or whatever other animal it is - this year it was Hook a Polar Bear. And no, I didn't win one. Very upsetting.

Man alive it’s brilliant.

And so I insist on going every year. Because really Hull Fair is not for children, I don’t think you can enjoy it properly until you’re an adult and can freely admit you’re terrified and concentrate on the fair and not trying to look cool in front of boys you’re never going to see again and it’s even better when you’re not so grown up that you have to be responsible for a child of your own.

You can eat whatever you like and your Mum isn’t going to stop you. Bob Carvers chips and a dirty great big burger on the way home? Yes please.

Every single year I forget how loud Hull Fair is. Conversation is impossible and actually kind of unnecessary – there’s so much to look at you don’t want to miss out by talking to someone. I also forget how much of a vacuum it is for money – nothing seems to be that expensive yet suddenly your purse is empty, how does that happen?! (Yes the chips and the burger might have had something to do with that.)

I went with Dorothy at the end of last week to the penultimate day. We behaved like teenagers and screamed our heads off on the rides. We went on The Wild Mouse, a small little rollercoaster, it’s not massive, it’s not long, it’s probably aimed more at children and yet more noise came from the pair of us than anyone else. There were 2 grown women, waiting for their children to come off it who were killing themselves laughing at us.

Because that’s really what Hull Fair is all about. The people. You don’t have to go on anything, you just need to wander about and look at stuff and marvel at the insane rides that people are willing to go on. And laugh at the barely clothed girls, shivering their heads off but determined to look ‘sexy’ in the hopes of bagging a traveller. You can stand in the queues and work out everyone’s story. The university students who look excited but slightly terrified and out of their depth (Hull Fair is seriously, seriously big, do not underestimate it and always have a meet-up point in case of separation.), the school kids who have been allowed to go on their own and are spending more time snogging than enjoying any of the rides, the slightly uncomfortable looking middle-aged, middle class couple who don’t really know what they’re doing there...the sights are endless.

Last year was the first time I went on the big wheel and it scared the beejebus out of me. This year I was much braver and felt (slightly) less afraid. God know why I’m scared, you’re fully enclosed in a little carriage and you’re not going to fall anywhere, it’s just so bloody high. And it doesn’t help that the men working on it think it’s just hilarious to spin you round and round as you pass by.

I could stay there all night. I could go on everything (but not the waltzers, after an unfortunate vomiting incident a few years ago I haven’t been able to face going back on them since) the only thing that stops me is the fact that everyone gets the fear when they get older and don’t want to go on the scary rides and also the fact that I’m not made of money.

But I love it. I love it with every inch of my being and I will always do my best to go every year. I can’t not, it’s in my blood.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Your questions answered - Part Two

Diane asked: who is your ideal man? and why?

I’m not sure if you mean ideal man as in someone famous or not so I’ll have a stab at this one. I’ve never been someone who falls in love with a public figure really, there are people that I’ll go “HELL-o. How fit are you?” and enjoy watching but there’s no one that I think to myself “Yes. I will marry you immediately.” The last person I thought that about was Robbie Williams and I was a very young girl.

My ideal man would just have to make me laugh. Sounds clichéd but it’s true. Speaking as someone who sometimes feels pressure to be Mrs Life and Soul, I need someone who can match me in that way. All too often in the past I’ve gone for the quiet types, thinking that they’re what I need to calm me down but it’s a mistake I’m determined not to repeat again. I need someone to bounce off and have fun with. I need someone who’s not going to be embarrassed if I suddenly yell in public because I’ve seen something hilarious or when I chase a cat down the street, trying to stroke it. I need someone lively and I don’t mean someone who can have fun when they’ve had a couple of drinks, I need someone who is naturally sparky.

Mostly I just need someone to talk to. I’ve had that sinking feeling when you realise that you just have nothing to say to the person sat next to you and it’s not something I wish to repeat. I need someone strong in their own mind and opinion to have an actual conversation with. I don’t want a yes man. Have your own opinion. Voice it. Otherwise life is going to be interminably dull.

Alex asked: I would definitely like to know more about your job, if you're allowed to tell us. If not, tell us about your travels. Where's your favourite place in the UK/Europe/the whole world?

And tv! I always think you can tell much about people by the type of tv they watch (please tell me you love West Wing and we'll be friends forever). What are your all time favourite shows?

Ok so the job stuff I covered in the last post, it really is as much as I can reveal I’m afraid. And the travel stuff I guess I’ve covered in answer to Lucy’s question in the last post as well. I’m a contrary old soul and can’t pick just one place that’s my all time favourite.

As for tv...

I do love the West Wing. So much so that I have all the box sets. Other all time favourites include the usual suspects of Friends and Sex and the City but I also had a huge fondness for the X-Files (which I need to start collecting on DVD) and Six Feet Under (which I have started collecting on DVD). There was also a series on BBC 2 aeons ago back before The Office and other mockumentaries were a twinkle in people’s eyes, it was called People Like Us and is one of the funniest things I ever watched. If you can get hold of a DVD of the series I promise you will laugh. (And if Father Christmas is listening, I found Series 2 and I want it. Now.) And I can’t believe I haven’t talked about Flight of the Conchords. They’re in there. Obviously.

Curious Cat asked: Hmm...not sure if I have any questions...think I know you pretty well...erm...what would be your dying meal if you could have one? What is your favourite book of all time and film? Er...where do you see yourself ideally in ten years time?!

Anything with pasta in it. And I mean an.y.thing. I love pasta because I can eat MASSIVE quantities of it and still have room for more (which is why it is probably dangerous for me). I love it covered in tomato based sauce. I love it covered in creamy sauce. I love it with meat, or without. Pasta me up people. And the more cheese it has on it the better as far as I’m concerned.

Like I said earlier, I suck at the picking a favourite game. I really really love the film Sideways, although I don't know if it's my favourite or not, and books? Ugh. Don't make me pick! This is hard because I guess people would normally pick the book they're re-read the most but I never re-read books so I don't know.

Ten years time. Seriously?! I can barely see where I am in 10 days time, let alone 10 years. Hopefully I’ll have a real-life career by then and figured out what I want to do. I’m hopefully on the way to achieving that already but I desperately need to start to be challenged in some way or my brain is going to completely atrophy. I would also love to have figured out the game of love, have a ring on my finger and a baby in the house. Oh yeah. I’d like to own a house in 10 years time but I increasingly (and terrifyingly) have begun to realise that that seriously might not happen.

Thank you for depressing me.
Aaaaaand I'm done.

I hope I've answered all the questions well enough for you, apologies if I've caught the wrong end of the stick in a few places.

Actually it was way harder than I thought. Damn you all!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Your questions answered - Part One

Aha. How much do I regret asking you to ask me questions?! You have responded and you've forced me to think about my self and life far too much. It is uncomfortable.

Also due to my completely inability to write succinctly I have waffled on for far too long and I'm therefore going to have to do a couple of posts so I don't use up the whole internet with my replies.

Ready? Cup of tea to hand? Then we'll begin...

P asked: Okay . . . tell us about the first time you were drunk. Did you do anything stupid? (Please say yes!)

Aaaaah. I was 15 and a boy at school was having a party because his parents were out for the night. What resulted was most of the school year descending on a very lovely house in a very nice part of town for alcohol bingeing at its best. He had a marquee tent set up in the back garden where all the booze could be placed. It was the first night I ever drank cider. It was also the first night I had a whole 2 litre bottle of cider tipped over my head (what can I say, we thought it would be funny). It was also the night that I snogged 5 boys, none of whom did anything to improve my cool-cred.

Unfortunately the first time I got drunk was also the first time I became violently ill from drink. Party boy’s parents returned home to find their house a disaster zone with teenagers either vomiting or fornicating in various rooms. I was being sick in their kitchen sink. I remember Party boy’s Mum pulling my hair back with a rubber band as she went about the kitchen with a black bin liner. I mumbled how sorry I was and her reply was “Don’t worry dear, I used to be a nurse, I’ve seen much worse.”

As if this wasn’t bad enough, I was staying at my friend’s house that night. Yes, my parent’s never had to deal with the disgrace of their youngest child getting drunk for the first time – a fact I remind my Mum of frequently. Instead, my friend’s Dad came to pick us up, stopped several times on the way home for me to be sick, half-carried me in to the house where my friend’s Mum helped me undress and put me to bed. The next morning she said to me, “Now I’m not going to tell your parents about what happened last night but I really feel that you should.” What a nice lady.

(And Party Boy got in SEVERE trouble for that party. But not as much trouble as he did after the Christmas Ball when he got so drunk he threw up on the Headmaster’s shoes and had to have his stomach pumped. I missed all of this because I was being taken to my friend’s house by a teacher at 10pm because I was so drunk. You see. THIS is why Warfarin is a blessing in disguise for me.)

Heather asked: 1. Why are you so awesome?
2. What book should I read next?
3. What is your favourite thing about blogging?
4. Why are my questions so lame?

1. Who knows? Maybe it’s down to genetics. Maybe it’s down to external factors. I can assure you there are plenty who would disagree with your sentiment. I think I probably come out better on screen than in real life.

2. You should read The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory. I haven’t read it yet but really want to after reading The White Queen and if you buy it and read it then maybe you can lend it to me. Also if you haven’t read The White Queen it’s on offer in WH Smith’s this week for £2.99 when you buy a copy of The Times. DO IT.

3. I am a creature desperate for loved. My attempts to try and make people like me know no bounds, to the limit at times of losing all self respect. Blogging has meant that I can attempt to impress a whole new clutch of people – hearing that I’ve made people laugh or smile is a salve to my fragile little ego. I also like that you can find out that you’re not the only person thinking things – take my post recently about feeling guilty about going in churches, I never imagined that other people would feel the same way, but it turns out I’m not alone.

4. Not lame. There are 4 of the freakin’ things. Technically I should be penalising you. You also win the award for asking a deep and meaningful question a la question 3.

Nic asked: Lol... My question is: What is your name??!!

I have spoken about this before in my previous blog. I keep this blog as anonymous as possible, due to a few bad experiences which came hand in hand with having a public blog. In today’s age anyone in the world, including potential employers can check out every aspect of your life and I would hate for some people to have access to this blog that I don’t particularly want to. Plus I find it easier to write anonymously, sometimes I’m not brave enough to put a face to some of my views/posts. Once there’s the chance that people know who you are then what comes with that is self-censorship which is not enjoyable for me when it comes to blogging.

I’m not a complete twat. If people e-mail I don’t respond to their e-mails and sign off as “The Girl” that would make me terribly pretentious. So some of you know my real name I know, that doesn’t bother me at all, I just don’t want my real name being mentioned in the blogosphere.

If you are desperate to know it Nic – e-mail me! It isn’t exciting I’m afraid and is in fact boringly common.

Flitterbee asked: I'd like to know more about your work, but appreciate that's probably sensitive information and you don't fancy being dooced, so. Huh. What's your favourite colour? (This isn't me being facetious, I do actually wanna know...!)

Yeah, same as the question above, I don’t really talk about it. I can tell you that I work in the social science field and I am a researcher. Will that do you?

And my favourite colour is green. Have always loved it, love all shades of it and at one point there was an alarming amount of green in my wardrobe which I have since curtailed but if I go in a clothes shop the green calls to me and reels me in before I spot anything else. I like that it can be a calming, soothing colour but can be incredibly vibrant and intense just going a few shades up the chart.

I don’t think I’ve ever written so much about green, didn’t realise I liked it so much. I might have a problem.

Lucy asked: This is quite hard because although you're somewhat mysterious I feel I know you quite well, but that may have something to do with my marathon-reading of your back-catalogue :s

What is your favourite foreign place to visit?

I do love that you have read all my posts you know. See my answer to part 3 of Heather’s question!

My experience of foreign travel is not massively extensive really, we went on holiday most years but this was to the same place for 4 of those years so the opportunity to explore other countries was sadly missed.

I think I might have to say America though. I know some may sneer and others may have to put their jaws back in their sockets but it’s true.

When I was in France I marvelled at how beautiful it was and the scenery was stunning etc etc but I couldn’t help noticing as I came in on the plane that the landscape below me looked exactly like the landscape I’d left behind in Britain. But when I’ve been to America I’ve been up mountains covered in snow (to Maine on a skiing trip when I was 17 at school) and through the desert (in Arizona 2.5 years ago when I went to visit American Girl and Boy) and everything just feels different. It kind of amazes me at how different we are, I think when you have language as a common element you can be fooled into thinking that everything is the same, but the whole culture of the place is so odd and alien at times that you don’t know what on earth you’re doing.

And it’s so huge that it offers inexhaustible opportunities to see new landscapes and experience new things. As for this nonsense about them not having culture or a history, just because they didn’t have the Battle of Bosworth doesn’t mean they don’t have history – can anyone really say that they wouldn’t, given the opportunity, love to go and stand beneath the Lincoln Memorial?

(Plus you get to see and do all this without panicking that you can’t communicate with anyone.)

More answers tomorrow....

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Ask The Girl

Ah blog awards, they're like buses aren't they?

As well as receiving the Happy 101 award, Nic at Nic's Notebook also passed on the Versatile Blogger award.

Now apparently I need to tell you a few things about myself.

The thing is, I've done a few of these in my former blogging life and I can't think of anything to tell you that you won't have heard before.

So instead I'm throwing it open to you guys.

Is there anything you want to know about me? Something I've talked about that you want to know more about? Something I've mentioned that has you flummoxed?

No holds barred. Whatever you want to know you can ask. (Whether I answer is another matter entirely)

This week is going to be fairly busy for me workwise - I have to hobnob with important people and give important presentations, something which I'm never good at and spending a lot of time worrying about. Plus I seem to be having difficulties in my personal life - am I the only one who thought that girls left bitchiness on the playground and that things would be different in our mid-20s? - so I am unsure how much I will be around this week.

So, you have plenty of time to fire away, let's say you have until Wednesday 13th October to ask me anything you like.

Either reply in the comments section or send me an e-mail at (Put Q&A in the subject title or I might accidentally delete the e-mail thinking it's a request for help from Nigeria).


Friday, 8 October 2010

Happy 101

Some time ago, the rather delightful Nic at Nic’s Notebook gave me the Happy 101 award. Now I know what some of you may be thinking, “She’s already got that one, she blogged about it before”. But you see technically technically I got that award on the old blog and really, seeing as this is a fresh new start I think that all awards are cancelled and can be received anew on this blog instead.

That’s my line, and I’m sticking to it.

The problem I have is that I’ve already passed on these awards to all of you who’ve been crazy kind enough to stick with me into this new blog so I don’t really have anyone to pass it on to but I did think on one little person who is new to the blogging business and might appreciate a little award love.

So I present this to you...Lucy from Tete en l’air.


So I'm afraid Lucy you now have the dubious honour of passing this on to other people and also listing 10 things that make you happy. Them’s the rules. Plus you get this pretty little picture to put on your blog. Happy days.

So. What makes me happy?

1. CRISPS. It should be apparent to all who have read this blog for only a short time the depth and breadth of my love for these salty snacks. Even though my intake has dramatically reduced since starting Weightwatchers (I’d forgotten you could actually buy single packs of crisps I’d been buying family sized bags and eating them in one go for so long) I still get a crisp fix most days.

2. CATS. The love for cats should be as apparent as the love for crisps. I’m not a one cat woman, my love goes out to all felines – Fred and Lily, Maggie and Maud, Eddie and any cat who comes within 12 feet of me which I will, without exception, try and touch.

3. LOSING WEIGHT. Sorry but it’s true. I was asked in my meeting this week how I felt now that I’ve lost 3 stone and I said that I felt happier. I was starting to become a miserable little bitch when I was overweight (granted there were relationship problems thrown into the mix as well) and it’s hard to be happy for other people when you’re miserable yourself. I feel like a happier person generally nowadays.

4. THE GYM. My god, what’s happened to me?! I’ve had my soul stolen by an invasion of the gym-snatchers. But I’ve found that I do enjoy working out now – I like feeling like I’ve really exercised and done something and I like that I am making slow but sure improvements in my stamina and strength the more I go. The gym is also a lot more pleasurable now that I’ve lost weight, my fitness has improved dramatically now that I’m not lugging all that extra mass around.

5. SOUP. Now that I’m completely over my irrational soup fear it’s become my best friend and I’m all up for trying out new recipes. What makes me particularly happy is that I can make it and freeze it in batches so I don’t have to think about what I’m having for lunch each day.

6. CROCHET. I’ve finally mastered something other than a granny square! Ok, so it’s a granny stripe (pictures coming next week hopefully) but still it’s something different. I love the process of crocheting, and that it builds up very quickly, making it more immediately satisfying than cross stitch or embroidery can be.

7. AUTUMN. I’m pretty sure the blogosphere is over-represented by people who like Autumn, it’s all anyone’s been talking about lately. Unless it really is just everyone’s favourite season? I will join the hordes and out myself as an Autumn lover – I’m all in favour of seasons that encourage us to layer up and cover our bodies in clothes.

8. THE APPRENTICE. I’m so pleased this is back on the telly box. It makes me so happy to watch it because I can think to myself that however badly my life might be going I can be reassured that I’m not as big of a tit as some of those contestants are. (Anyone see the first episode this week? Dan as Project Manager? He’s done an excellent job at talking himself out of future employment. What an idiot.)

9. BOOKS. You know I can’t get enough of them. You all quietly tolerate my monthly book updates and I am thankful for that (but don’t worry this was a 2010 feature only!).

10. TRAIN JOURNEYS. Makes me sound like a bit of a mentalist but I swear I have valid reasons. I’m not brilliant at sitting still and always, especially lately, seem to be rushing about places and seeing people and doing things. Train journeys are like a gift of time – you are forced to sit down in one place, quietly for an extended period of time, without having to feel like you should be up and doing something more productive. Plus, there’s the whole excitement of reaching your final destination to take into consideration.

What was interesting is that I actually went back and found the post when I got this award originally just to see what my 10 things that made me happy then were. I think I can basically conclude that crisps, books and cats are the only constants in my life!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Fur fix

I am being a surrogate Mum again, this time not for three guinea pigs, but for my favourite ‘Children’.

The Fred and the Lily.

Have you missed them? I have. I miss my regular Fredders and Bilster time and miss being able to have them at the flat and generally laugh at them doing stupid things. I feel like since I split up with the ex I see them less although I know that this can’t really be the case because I’m sure I see more of my Mum now (and if I don’t I seriously need to reassess my position as Best Daughter Ever). It’s bizarre. But I definitely feel there has been an absence of them on this blog since I started it.

I must rectify that immediately.

Mum is off to see my sister until Sunday so I have my little suitcase packed up (yes it does need to be a suitcase to include laptop and clothes and food and wool and embroidery thread and all other components of my transportable world) and I cannot wait to get to Mum’s house to see my favourite furry faces.

I love them an awful lot you know. My voice goes very creepy and high pitched when I talk about them and I usually end any story about them screwing my face up and saying “I just want to squish their little faces!”

(Hey I’m a self-confessed Crazy Cat Lady. You can’t judge.)

I love them so much that when I go to stay with them I talk to them.

And put blankets on them.

And shove my cameras in their face so much that they start to look as if they’re giving me evils in their photos.

And I love them despite the fact that when I try and take a picture of me with them they move forward and take up the whole ruddy photo with their face so you can only see my ear.

I'm a happy bunny.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Anybody out there?

So the other week when I was in Liverpool, being greatly embarrassed at the hotel’s attempts to get my boss and in the honeymoon suite, I decided to take a little look around the Metropolitan Cathedral, which was right outside our training venue.

I had visited the cathedral once before when I was 18 on an English A-level trip (which incidentally had nothing to do with English, I’ve never really understood why we all went away, I think it was jealousy on the part of the English department that the A-level Geographers used to get to go to Switzerland) and I remembered not being a fan at all. I had been completely taken away with the Anglican cathedral, further down the road, and this place was all modern and felt a little alien. What was the pulpit doing in the middle?! I wasn’t a fan at all.

However I think the 27 year old me can appreciate it a little bit more than the 18 year old me.

What looks like an extremely odd building from the outside – all stone and angles and spiky bits and quite frankly scary looking doors – is transformed into a rather breathtaking space inside. Rather than being cold and jarring, it actually feels kind of cosy inside and despite its enormous size, kind of intimate.

Scary looking front door

Most of this I’m convinced is down to the clever use of stained glass throughout. The light in the cathedral is stunning and even though there aren’t big massive windows inside, it doesn’t feel dark and dank and cold, something that more traditional churches suffer from I think. There’s also a more modern take on the use of stained glass, it doesn’t all have to be pictures of lambs to the slaughter or disciples falling on their knees, these are just simple pieces of plain coloured glass.

Apologies for crappy, shaky photos. Although you're allowed to take photos, I just felt a bit wrong doing it, know what I mean?!

At the very top of the cathedral, in the wigwam bit that you can see from the outside, the glass gently turns through the spectrum so that as you walk around the perimeter of the pews, you see a different colour and the light shines through in a different way.

It’s funny really, it wasn’t how I remember it at all. I remembered this strange, spacecraft type building, but actually it’s just like any other church, just round instead of square. There are chapels and places for contemplation all around the outside and it doesn’t feel odd once you’re in there. You feel like you would in any other church.

Which is where my problems arise.

I like churches. I like them a lot and it’s hard to explain why. I don’t know if it’s because they’re peaceful and quiet. I don’t know if it’s because they always feel a little bit special, I like to think of all that the people went through to build something like that just to go in and talk to God. And then I come a bit undone. I feel as if I shouldn’t really be there, appreciating it all. What right do I have to sit and marvel at the work someone’s put in to building a house of God when I don’t even know if there is a God? I feel like an interloper, intruding on a place which really should be marked Out of Bounds to the likes of me. I actually feel guilty sometimes, I hope that God doesn’t mind that I was in there when I’m not even sure if he exists and don’t have any sort of relationship with him.

And I always feel terribly guilty if I go and light a candle, which I nearly always do. I don’t know why I do it, is it just because I’m in a church and I remember doing it when I was small? Do I do it as an insurance policy – “Just in case you are there God I just want you to make sure these people are ok up there”. Do I do it just to remind myself that there are people I just need to take a minute to remember?

It’s a funny bunch of conflicted feelings I get from going into church, from initial “Oh this is lovely and peaceful” to then feeling sad and thinking “I wish I could get out of this what the people who really believe in God must get out of it” before moving on feeling guilty, “They know I don’t believe you know, I should stop stealing all the sacredness and leave some for real believers.”

Maybe it’s better that I just stay clear of churches.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Working up a sweat

So I am now a member of a new gym. Whilst my old gym served a purpose, namely that it was cheap and close to where I lived, it really wasn’t a particularly pleasant place. Dark and dingy and cramped with limited equipment and a man who used to shout at you if you talked.

When my gym friend and I heard that there was a new fancier gym which could be ours for the taking for the same price as our rubbish gym we decided to go for it immediately.

It’s rather beautiful. Lots of treadmills (instead of the two you would have to fight for at the old place) and bikes and cross trainers and machines we’d never even seen before. And the weights machines? Oh the weights machines –weights machines for biceps and triceps and forceps (no?), hell there’s even a machine for your bum. Amazing.

And the best thing? You can escape from the horrible grunty groany men who like to parade in front of the mirrors and grimace and gurn while they lift ridiculous weights and surreptitiously check each other out. They have their own section of the gym, tucked away from everyone else. Go and be grunty elsewhere horrid boys. It’s even lit less well than the rest of the gym, you seriously can ignore them, it’s brilliant.

There’s a huge area to do your free weights or do your sit-ups (or if you’re me, do 20 sit-ups and then spend the rest of the time crying and clutching my stomach, why are my abs so ridiculously useless?!).

All that would be great and would be more than enough but it gets better. There are classes. Included in the monthly price. Classes?! Classes?! Could life get any sweeter? I want to try out everything, immediately, especially the Zumba classes. I have been banging on about Zumba for a very long time, ever since I couldn’t sleep and watched infomercials which must have brainwashed me in the early hours of the morning. I just need to find a time to go.

Gym friend and I signed up for just whatever we could find that was available – Pump. (I cannot say this with a straight face. It’s just impossible.)

We had no idea what it was and as the day approached I started to get a little panicky. I’ve never done an exercise class before and was wondering what we’d let ourselves in for. Turns out we couldn’t have picked a better class to start – Pump isn’t an aerobic class but is a kind of free-weight toning class you do lots of repetitive lifting to music and exercise different parts of your arms, shoulders, chest, legs and abs. We worked away and by the end I was feeling pretty knackered but more or less ok.

(Although I should tell you it was a concerted effort to keep my umbrella above my head as my arms were feeling a little disassociated from my body.)

Although it was great, I kind of like to really feel like I’ve done something. I need to feel gross and sweaty and ashamed to be seen in public after I’ve done a workout so I’m on the lookout for something a little more exerting and I’m thinking I might give spinning a go, the problem is finding a time when I can fit the class in, I’m not really one for arranging my life around the gym, it’s going to have to find a way to fit in around me I’m afraid.

But all of this for £20 a month makes me a happy girl.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Patchwork Blanket - Finished.

This little patchwork bad boy is finished. Let’s hear a hurrah!


He hasn’t taken me too long to get sorted actually, started on 31st August and finished on 27th September so just under a month. But let’s remember that;

a) I had a week long holiday which meant I could spend a lot of time on it
b) I had a boring work trip to Liverpool which involved me spending whole evenings in a hotel room with nothing else to do but crochet.
c) I had an ill-fated day waiting in for a parcel that never turned up so spent a whole day on it
d) It’s only bloody small

The final size comes out at about half a single bed, maybe a little more (actually it's a lot more, that's my double bed it's on). It’s more than big enough to go over your lap, I would know I had lots of fun being warm beneath it when I was doing my edging and if I curl up into a little ball it covers me completely (yes I did a test. No there aren’t photos) and my friend is easily half the size of me so I reckon it will do the job just fine.

Only downside is that I really don’t want to give it to her. Like really don’t. I want to keep it.

I guess I will just have to make one for myself when Christmas is over and I can make things just for me again.

The edging did end up being pretty monstrous – I weighed up for a long time about whether to do more squares or not. At the end of the day it came down to cost. I didn’t want to do more squares but then have to buy more wool to do the edging, especially as I couldn’t even be sure the same colours would be available from the cheapazoid basket at my local wool shop. So I decided to go round a few times instead, finishing off with some red wool which I thought would complement the red wool I used on the underside to join the squares together.

Then I spent a long time taking photos and complaining that it’s TOO DARK to take photos now and I couldn’t get any that properly showed off the colours.

I am pleased with him. He’s a happy little number. And special because I designed him all by little self.

So there we have it. I can officially tick one person off my Christmas present list. Get in. And it’s only cost me £10. If you don’t factor in labour, because if you did you would have to charge people trillions of pounds. I think this is what you call a labour of love you know.


What next?

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Why I hate changing rooms

Ok. So losing this weight (38lbs so far thank you very much) has been great. I feel a little happier in myself and the gym is a slightly more pleasurable experience now that I don’t nearly die on the treadmill. But there’s one huge downside.


I’m not a girly girl. There are few things I hate more in life than shopping. The idea of a long day of aimless wandering in shops brings me out in a cold sweat. I don’t do aimless. I do planned. If I know what I want I’m sorted, “I need a pair of jeans” I can tell myself and off I will go and find a pair of jeans. Shopping trips last a couple of hours, three max, and then I have the rest of my day to enjoy.

Now I find myself in a strange situation of having lost a lot of weight but having no idea what suits me or if I can get away with wearing something now that I’m a little thinner. All too often you see someone squeezed in a bit of lycra, splurging on all sides, proudly proclaiming “I’ve lost 3 stone!” Brilliant for you but that doesn’t mean jeggings are your friend love.

Far worse than any of this however is my one true horror. The changing room. Why are they such devilishly awful places? Why do they have terrible lighting and horrendous mirrors? And why are they so freakin’ small?!

One incident more than any other demonstrates my terrible experiences with changing rooms...

Earlier in the year I was heading for a night out. My weight having ever so slowly crept up and up and up and up I realised that I really didn’t have a lot to wear and certainly nothing that I felt comfortable in. I went into Next to have a look and saw something floral and floaty. I figured it would do, and locating my size I ran into the changing room.

I squeezed into the cubicle, and got my top off, the whole time remaining completely paranoid that people could see in (why do the curtains never fully go all the way across?!) and in total fear that someone would walk in on me (that did actually happen to me once in Primark. While I was trying on bras. Seriously.)

I got the top off its hanger and tried to pull it on. It wasn’t really going anywhere. “My god please don’t tell me I’m this fat” I prayed to whichever god was listening. Then I realised that I was being an idiot and there was a zip on the side. Down came the zip and I tried again but was sweating with the exertion and nearly in tears because it really was a struggle to get on.

I zipped it up and looked at myself. Not too bad, it didn’t look horrendous, but what the hell was with this extra piece of fabric down on my left hand side, what could that be for, where was it supposed to go?

And then I realised...

It was a leg hole.

I had just shoved my whole body through one leg hole of a playsuit.

I was torn between being immensely relieved that the reason I had difficulties getting it on wasn’t because I was ridiculously fat and being immensely horrified that someone would even make a playsuit in my size. There is no way that someone of my size back then (and I would argue, my size now) should be wearing a playsuit.

As I left the changing rooms the member of staff asked me “Was that any good for you?” and I felt I could shake my head and say emphatically, “No. No that was not good for me.”

My changing room fear continues unabated.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Freedom Festival 2010 - only about a month late

Continuing my recent theme of “Let’s tell people about things that have happened in Hull well after the event instead of beforehand when it might actually be useful”, I would like to tell you quickly about the Freedom Festival which took place over 2 days on 10th/11th September. (I did have every intention of posting about this the day I went on holiday but didn’t want to rush it and write something rubbish.)

I seem doomed to not really be around in Hull when the Freedom Festival takes place. Last year I was in Manchester for most of it and only saw Florence + the Machine and this year I ended up meeting up with my brother and sister-in-law to give them the blanket for the new baby and didn’t get around to going and seeing everything.

I cannot believe I missed McFly who have suddenly become ridiculously fit, meaning that I no longer feel shame for actually liking them (seriously, what happened to the lead singer – I don’t know them well enough to know their names, but HELL-o!). And I missed The Saturdays again. And Aleesha Dixon and a whole host of people I probably should know, but don’t because I don’t listen to the radio anymore.

(And did I mention all this is free?)

I only ended up getting into town for the final act which was Foals. I’m sorry if you know them and can’t believe I don’t but I really have never heard of them. I know, I suck at life. Were they good? Meh. It’s difficult watching a band you have absolutely no idea about and don’t recognise any of the songs. I know that I had a good time watching them but I don’t remember any of the songs even a little bit. Not a good omen. But everyone else seemed to like them, so I’m going with the notion that the majority of people who do get to listen to the radio while they’re in work and in their cars, like Foals, so therefore, they must be good.

Foals - no really, it is, it's just an appalling photo

What I really wanted to see was the French street theatre company, Plasticiens Volants, who use giant inflatable puppets to tell a story, high above the heads of those watching below.

They were due to start at 10pm and I had no real idea what to expect, by about 10.15pm I was starting to whinge. I was woefully underdressed for the occasion and starting to feel the cold. “When’s it going to staaaaaaaart?!” I moaned at my companions. At that moment I turned round and nearly fell over as I saw a giant inflatable head come floating into Queens Gardens, shortly followed by two fishies. They came in and amongst us, the puppeteers are attached to the inflatables with strings and run in and out of the crowd, making the puppets swoop down on unsuspecting victims. It was actually a little bit scary.

Then a big giant eel appeared and chased the fishies about. The fishies retreated to what can only be described as giant inflatable weeds while the eel bobbed about on the outside. Then, from the other side of the park appeared a beautiful lady with cat’s heads for breasts (yes, really) and she battled with the eel, forcing him among the reeds where he died.

The pretty cat-breast-lady did not escape unscathed. She appeared to get a puncture halfway through her battle which I seriously hope was not because of the morons who kept leaping up trying to grab at the inflatables. I dread to think how much that was going to cost to get punctured.

I’m not brilliant at interpretive street theatre. I quite like words to go with what I’m seeing and I’m still not entirely sure what the hell was going on. I appears that eel = bad and cat-breast lady = good. And I’m pretty sure the fishes were on the side of cat-breast lady. I’m not entirely sure where the giant head came into things though. I’ve had a look on their website and I still can’t figure out what story we were being told – but I did see cat-breast lady in Babilonia which unfortunately doesn’t have an English translation. I think we maybe just got a select few of the characters they use, rather than the full shazam – for some reason on their list of performances they haven’t included the Freedom Festival, which is a shame.

Anyway. It was exciting. And different. And only mildly scary.

(And did I mention it was free?)

And to round it all off there were fireworks which always goes down well. Who doesn’t like ooh-ing and aah-ing and clapping their hands and jumping up and down like some kind of moron?

Next year, I’m clearing the diary.

(It’s free you know.)