Tuesday, 30 November 2010

November Book Review

I am hanging my head in shame. But you will probably breathe a sigh of relief at my next announcement.

There are only 2 books to be reviewed this month. I know, I know. The shame. This is down to a combination of factors, the equation of which would look something like this:

Christmas crafting stepping up a notch x Reading behemoths of books this month / general busyness = 2 book review in November.

I feel I need to make clear that the books that I review each month are the books that I finish in that month. I don’t want anyone to be under the impression that on the 1st of the month I start reading, I could have been reading a book for a couple of months before it gets reviewed. I just felt a need for transparency, in case it wasn’t clear to anyone.

Currently taking up space by my bed is Under the Dome by Stephen King which I can barely lift let alone carry about with me. This means I’m restricted to reading it in bed and at the moment I’m mostly crocheting/embroidering/cross stitching in bed. Also hanging like a brick over me is Lark Rise to Candleford – who told me this book was good? YOU LIED. It’s a dreary trudge that reads like a social history textbook. It’s awful. But because I’m stubborn I refuse to give up.

Anyway, I’ll shut up and get on with this month:

The Finkler Question – Howard Jacobsen

I’m a sucker for the Man Booker Prize, I always say I won’t buy the book that wins in hardback (or indeed any of the shortlist that catches my eye), I will wait until the paperbacks are out, but I always fail miserably. Sometimes it turns out well, other times, it’s Wolf Hall (I still can’t talk about it without shuddering. Terrible book. Awful.)

Some time ago I was talking to my Dad about a Book Group he’d joined, I asked him what book he was nominating and he said he wasn’t going to nominate the book he really wanted to because he didn’t want people to not like it and rip it all to shreds in front of him (and yes he could probably do with quite a bit of therapy). I never really understood what he meant but now I do. I’m torn between urging everyone to go out immediately and buy this book and hiding it away and keeping it to myself because I know that it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and I’ll just get upset if you don’t like it.

I love characters that are not instantly likeable. I’m not a fan of characters that are so dull you couldn’t care less about them, but I am a fan of ones that provoke serious reactions from you. (John Lanchester is a master at writing characters that you would really like to punch in the face but can’t bear to stop reading about.) I especially like characters that are a little bit pathetic because you know what? They’re realistic, there are more slightly pathetic men walking about than there are heroes.

Julian Treslove is a pathetic man. He is unloved and unlovable and desperately wants to belong to someone or anything. He especially wants to be Jewish like his frenemy, Sam Finkler. Or does he? I think it’s less about him being Jewish and more about the comfort and insularity that being Jewish brings with it that Treslove craves. He feels he’s not part of a gang and resents the closeness that Finkler and a mutual friend, Libor have, due to their shared religion.

Finkler belongs but doesn’t want to belong, joining a group of Ashamed Jews. Libor feels alone, having lost his wife and just wants to belong to the same realm as her.

This isn’t a huge tome. It isn’t a door stop of the book. But it is so beautifully crafted and I think it will genuinely stay with me for a long time to come (not least because I’m obsessed with all things Jewish myself, god I hope I’m not as pathetic as Treslove). I want you to read it, I really do but please let me warn you - don’t think it’s a happy clappy story, you will want to grab Treslove by his lapels and shake the life out of him at several times in the book and the ending isn’t one all tied up with a bow, but it is wonderful nonetheless.

I feel the judges have redeemed themselves after last year’s nonsense.

Of Bees and Mist – Erick Setiawan

I have no idea how this ended up on my bookshelf, so I’m inclined to believe it was a Times/WH Smith offer, but however it appeared on my shelf I’m incredibly pleased I finally dusted it off and read it.

This is a proper fairytale for grown-ups but don’t let that put you off. It’s also a tale of having possibly the worst mother-in-law you could ever have. It’s a tale of power and strength and that whoever has one doesn’t necessarily have the other.

Meridia grows up in a house where her parents don’t get along. Her father leaves each day in a cloud of mist and returns in another and her mother is, to put it nicely, away with the fairies. When she meets and falls in love with Daniel she marries him and goes to live with him and his parents, where she discovers that her new mother-in-law, Eva, is not all that she seems, sending plagues of bees into the ears of her husband and son when things don’t go her way.

The story is about love and the lengths that people will go to to protect it or keep it close to them and it is another beautiful story, but in a very different way to The Finkler Question. It was a really brilliant read and kept me incredibly good company on the train to and from London for which I am very grateful to it.


The winner?

HAS to be The Finkler Question – did you not see how much I wrote about it? And I had to pull myself back from writing more. Buy it, read it and if you don’t love it, don’t tell me because I might have to cry my eyeballs out and that would be terribly inconvenient at this moment in time.

(However, please don’t write off Of Bees and Mist, if this was any other month that would probably have won.)

Monday, 29 November 2010

Obligatory snow pictures

Please allow me to get in on this snow action. I hardly ever get to post snow pictures, that's the bad fortune that comes with living in Hull. As we're pretty much below sea level and have about one hill in the vague vicinity, the white stuff doesn't come our way that often and if it does it hardly ever settles.

So you can imagine my smugness when we not only got snow, but that we were some of the first to get snow. Ha. In your face the rest of England.

The view out of my bedroom window yesterday afternoon

This morning was one of the days that made me glad I don't have a car. Whilst everyone was scraping the ice and snow off their cars, I could just begin walking into work, happy as a clam. This is a feeling I'm not sure will last, this morning was fine because the snow was fresh and powdery and therefore not slippy. After a couple of days of being walked on and compacted I think I might have a different view and possibly a broken ankle or two.

But let us not concentrate on the bad things the snow can bring. If I was going to do that I'd have to tell you all about how the pipes were frozen when I came back from my sister's yesterday and remained frozen, despite the heating being on low, until nearly 6pm last night. OR I'd tell you about how the other Stitchettes, who bravely went out to Harrogate to the knitting and stitching show, got more than a little stuck, spending 7 hours on the road in an attempt to make a journey which is normally a couple of hours at the most. OR I'd tell you about how Fred and Lily are trapped at the cattery because Mum couldn't drive out to bring them home yesterday (they'll think they've been abandonned!).

Instead let us ooh and aaah at the prettiness.

Remember Pearson Park from this post at the end of August? This is what it looks like now, there have been plenty attempts at building giant snowmen over the weekend, but for some reason, all of them appear to have been aborted once they've built the body. No commitment some people.

Queen Victoria remains unamused.

The fountain in Queen's Gardens in the middle of town is frozen over and some amazing sheets of ice are hanging over the sides.

Close-up ice action

And do you remember the baby moorhens? I've been meaning to tell you, they're doing incredibly well and thriving, there's at least three or four that have survived which has warmed the cockles of my icy cold heart. I am very pleased to have been there to capture their first experiences with the cold stuff. They seemed pretty confused, whereas the mallards and their mother skidded about with relative ease the babies did not look happy at all and were incredibly tentative as they stepped about the frozen pond. I feel like a proud Mother Moorhen myself.
Brave baby moorhen

Sunday, 28 November 2010

No rest for the crafty

Don't think I was resting on my laurels this weekend just because I couldn't carry on with Mum's blanket. I'm a dedicated little monkey you know and the Christmas crafting carried on unabated.

I have bought some cotton bags off tinternet with the aim of embroidering some up to give to people as Christmas presents and first up is one for my Mum's friend.

I've had the Sublime Stitching craft pad for almost a year after one of the Stitchettes gave me it for Secret Santa last year. I periodically get it down and flick through it and then reluctantly put it back on the shelf because I can't find anything nice enough and deserving enough of its beautifulness.

But this little fairy would be absolutely perfect for Mum's friend so I got my sister's iron out and my book of embroidery stitches and set to with gusto.

At the moment this is what she looks like and I'm incredibly pleased with her. Especially the toadstool which is outlined in red glittery thread and red satiny thread, which is making it look like it's shining out at me.

I've tried out a couple of new stitches, my embroidery repertoire is pretty limited as it's totally new to me and I've never even attempted it before, preferring to stick to the cross stitch I know and love well. This piece has seen me try out a couple of different chain stitches and I've been pretty pleased with how they've turned out, I have plans for more chain stitching when it comes to her hair.

This has made me feel pretty excited to tell you the truth. I've got that giddy feeling you get when you do something new and you get all carried away with it, I need to be careful to not get so carried away that I forget my crochet duties.

Friday, 26 November 2010


This is another reason I like blogging, it makes me do things that I might not otherwise do. For instance, if I write in a post that I'm going to get my backside in gear and start joining together my Mum's blanket it's like a timer gets set in my head and I start thinking "Well I have to do it, I said on the blog didn't I?"

And so I am pleased to announce that one day on from posting about getting started on Mum's blanket I can reveal this:

Look! 9 little granny squares all joined up. The middle of the blanket is officially complete. (Does mini dance of celebration.)

I actually felt a little smug to myself, I managed to join all these together during Thursday night's Stitch and Bitch - a few months ago there's no way I would have been that speedy, I'm clearly improving.

I'm still hyperventilating a little because now comes the tricky bit and the joining of the granny stripe squares but that's been pushed to the back of my mind now. I'm off to Ashby de la Zouch with Mum so no more work can be done on it for a couple of days but I have vowed to myself that I will pick it up upon my return on Sunday.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The Christmas Blanket - continued

So remember how I decided I was going to make a blanket for my Mum for Christmas this year? And I started it and blocked it and everything?

And then I said that the next step was to begin doing some granny squares to incorporate into my lovely granny stripes?

I set off making my granny squares, I had my big enormous balls of wool and I set off in a fienish frenzy, crocheting them up, checking that they were vaguely the same size as the granny stripes and generally just getting into my crochet groove.

And then I stalled.

I seem to do this and I’m sure I’m not alone. I go at things like a mad woman possessed and then, as soon as it began, my interest disappears and I find myself avoiding doing the one thing I know I’m supposed to be doing.

Suddenly, out of freaking nowhere, I decided I would start cross-stitching again and before I knew it, I’d knocked up three cards and was feeling very smug with myself. And then I saw Tabiboo’s beautiful scarf and got a terrible case of the green eyed monster and wanted to make my own scarf and before I knew what I was doing I was foundation chaining away and starting not just a new project, but a project for myself. Bad girl.

And then I realised it was the 20 something of November and I seriously, seriously, needed to get my act together. I knew what it was that was stressing me out, it was the thought that once I’d finished doing the granny square part of the blanket I would have to join all the squares together and I had absolutely no idea how I was going to do it – either how the blanket would look or how I was technically going to do it.

So the other night I forced myself to take it all out of its bag and just stop a minute and have a look at it and spread all the squares out on my bed and see how it looked. I came to a sudden realisation, I could just stop where I was. No more grannying, no more striping. Just stop making and start joining.

See? Grannies on the inside, stripeys on the outside. What do you think? (If you say ‘crap’ revenge will be wreaked upon your head by the way.)

So I have decided to stop procrastinating and start joining. Once everything’s joined it’s just a case of doing a border. Ok so it won’t be the biggest blanket in the world, but it’s only for the back of her sofa and it’s plenty big to go over my Mum – my height and body shape were inherited from Dad’s side of the family. And also if you look at that top photo and imagine a border around it, it’s going to come out at pretty much the same size as the patchwork one so that’s all good I’m telling myself.

I will start with the non-scary joining together of the grannies and then begin the very much scary joining together of the stripes and we will see how we go. Slow and steady wins the race – except not too slow and steady because I’ve checked and Christmas is definitely still happening in one month’s time.

Do you know what is annoying about making things for people for Christmas though? You can’t bloody do them when they’re about! Now that I have the buzz about getting on with this blanket I’m rearing to go and want to just do it. Except that I can’t, because tomorrow I am flitting off to my sister’s for the weekend, with Mum. GOD.

I told you this one was going to roll and roll didn't I?

One month and counting...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Brat attack

I will hold my hands up and say that at times I can be quite the spoilt brat. Now I don’t believe this is my fault (speaking like a true brat) and really, can you blame someone for being a brat if it’s not their fault? No. You can’t.

I was the worst of all combinations – youngest child + only child. Youngest child because, you know, I was the youngest child and everyone knows that everyone loves the youngest best. Sorry people who are older siblings, and even more sorry to those poor souls who are middle children (man you get the raw end of the deal), but everyone loves the youngest best. Only child because my siblings were much older than me (13 and 11 years) and really my formative years took place with just me rattling round the house but also because I was my Dad’s only child.

See? Not my fault I was spoilt. I had no chance.

I try not to be spoilt and most of the time I succeed, but brattishness is a hard mantle to shake. And then if people spoil me I seamlessly shift back in to brat mode and forget my place. Take for instance, the ex. He shamelessly spoilt me and I knew it and I revelled in it, and now that I’m not being treated like an overgrown Persian cat I’m a little bit bewildered.

And then, just when I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m not special and I don’t get everything I want, along came Hayley.

Remember I wrote that post about how much I love nail varnish a few weeks ago? And remember that I whined (with, some might say, a brattish intonation) that I didn’t win the giveaway because the winner was picked by a random number generator?

Hayley indulged me. She sent me a SPECIAL (yes capitals are needed) prize because I am amazing.

And it arrived in the post last week and I didn’t get a chance to photograph it before I went away and I’ve not got around to doing it until now so she’s not allowed to hate me. Also. Yes the next few pictures were taken in the kitchen which was the only place I could vaguely get some light.

As I was over enthusiastic and wrote a whole essay Hayley felt I deserved a prize all of my own and contained within the envelope of glory were the following:

- Nail varnish remover
- Cotton wool pads
- Hand and nail cream
- THREE nail varnishes. COUNT THEM
- Special tin containing special things

She’s a clever girl, with the nail varnish remover in the package I could immediately set up taking the varnish off my nails and putting on a new one, regardless of that fact that I was at work. I did contemplate trying to put all the colours on at once but went for just one, I’d show you a photo but it was removed and replaced with lilac for the wedding.

And the special tin with special things? Well that was very special because it had in it another nail varnish (cue skipping and jumping and hopping dance) in an incredibly vampy red and some eye shadow and an eye liner pencil.

Yes I know, bad photo bad photo but I'm doing my best here people!

I have revelled in my prize. I have showed it repeatedly to people, all the time crowing “I’M VERY SPECIAL. I GOT A SPECIAL PRIZE.”

And now I fear that the brat is back.

So you should just, you know, give me things.


Thanks the Hayley!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Things I have learned over the past five days...

  • I miss going to gigs and watching live music. When I lived in Manchester I went all the time and now I’m in Hull there’s nothing doing. Mostly because no bugger ever comes to Hull.

  • I also miss going to smaller gigs. I’d never been to big full-on stadium or arena tours until a couple of years ago and I miss just bobbing along to the Academy to watch someone. The atmosphere is a thousand times better and the tickets are about half the price.
  • I love Goldfrapp. I saw her a few a years ago and loved her then and I still love her now. I’ve never been to a gig where the lead singer is so note perfect – her voice is haunting. (It would be nice to have a bit more crowd interaction though.)
  • I should not watch The Office Christmas Specials before I’m about to meet my boyfriend’s friends for the first time. I will cry all over the place when Tim and Dawn get together, my eye make-up will be ruined and I’ll look like I’ve just had a massive argument. Alternatively, I should wait to do my make-up until after I’ve watched The Office Christmas Specials.
  • When feeling nervous about meeting people for the first time I will turn to drink. I’ve tried to avoid it and I will continue to try to avoid it but for the moment I have accepted that it’s just inevitable. As long as I don’t drink too much it shouldn’t be a problem. Instead it masks my insecurities very well and allows me to actually converse with people instead of sitting in a corner and smiling inanely.
  • Do not attempt to do Christmas shopping when you’re slightly hungover and incredibly tired from the night before. If you do you will balls up in Vom Fass and discover once you’re at the till that the nice £20 bottle of whiskey you wanted to get your Dad is actually £45 and you will have to go through the embarrassment of saying “Sorry. I can’t afford that, can we start again please?” (I’m still blushing whenever I think about it.)
  • A Marmite pop-up shop has opened in Selfridges in Manchester and I want everything they sell. Like all of it.
  • The Singapore chow mein from the Chinese takeaway at the end of my street is my new favourite thing and I want to eat it every day. Scrub that. ALL day, every day.
  • That boy I’m seeing may just be more of a cat whisperer than I am. He walked in the house and within 5 minutes Maggie was sat against his leg, purring away. She hadn’t even come to say hello to me. And Fred – the little ginger whinger who hides from all who enter Mum’s house, walked right on over to him. My mouth still hasn’t closed from the shock of it.
  • Lily will object to you putting elasticated Christmas -themed jester collars adorned with bells on her neck. But it will be hilarious. (There is photographic evidence but I’d need to steal my Mum’s camera first.)
  • Rooms at the Premier Inn have the worst lighting known to man. I nearly killed myself when I first looked in the mirror upon getting ready for my friend’s wedding. And yes I looked that bad.
  • Lovely, pretty (and expensive) dresses from Coast that fit you perfectly 2 weeks ago can suddenly be too big for you (I’ve only lost about 6lbs since I last tried it on) and this can induce major panic. Thankfully I have a wonderwoman for a housemate who advised I buy Velcro “just in case” it got too big. And didn’t just advise me, actually went out and bought it for me. Thanks to her the dress was velcroed to my bra and stayed up all night.
  • Watching one of your best friends get married will be more emotional than you can imagine. So emotional that for about the first hour you won’t even be able to look at her without crying. Seriously. In fact even thinking about her started me crying.
  • I’m still the best minesweeper in town. I didn’t pay for a drink all night. It’s not my fault people don’t like their champagne and don’t drink all the bottles of wine that are on their tables.
  • Every time I see him, I leave, loving him a little bit more.
  • Coming back to work on Monday when you’ve been off since Wednesday, sucks.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Growing up

Dear Fred,

How on earth have you gone from being this big...

To this big...

In two years?

God I love that top photo so much. I seriously cannot remember you being that small you know, I mean I knew you were teeny tiny but that small, really?! You got up there by climbing up my leg, aah a time when your itty bitty claws didn't hurt, and then you just fell asleep. Now you hardly ever sleep on me Mr I'm-A-Geown-Up-And-Don't-Need-You.

And while we're at it, why wouldn't you stay bloody still so I could re-create that first picture properly. Damn you for being all big and wriggly and impossible to manipulate.

I love you very much.

Don't get any bigger.


The Girl a.k.a. Other Mum

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

A letter to my anti-coagulant.

Dear Warfarin,

I just thought I’d drop you a note to say goodbye and wish you well.

Oh didn’t you know? Our 6 months are now officially up and it is time for us to part ways. I’m sure you’re not too upset about it we haven’t had the best of relationships have we?

Remember when we first met in hospital? Those were fun days weren’t they? Days of excruciating pain in my chest, a tube up my nose and chillin’ with the old ladies. Those times were good and we were pretty good mates, I mean really it was all down to you that I got to leave wasn’t it? I had to wait until my blood was thin enough and you did the job – I wasn’t too worried about how we were going to get along at all.

But then. Then I came home and you decided you hated me and that you weren’t going to make my blood thin enough and that meant I had to stab myself in the stomach and it hurt and it freaked me out and it left me all bruised and gross and then I had a complete moment of madness and actually posted a blog entry with a photo of my stomach on it (still no idea what I was thinking about there).

I know that things got better but we have most definitely had our ups and downs. Remember when you stopped me drinking alcohol? Yeah....that was fun. In 6 months I’ve been drunk on 2 occasions. I am displeased with those odds to be honest. Although I feel I should extend thanks your way for getting me to look at and re-assess my drinking habits and why I do drink. That has been a useful lesson and I hope I don’t forget it but I won’t lie, I’m going to get incredibly drunk at the wedding this weekend and mostly just because I can.

I won’t miss too much about our INR appointments. I won’t miss the fact that despite the nurse telling me I would probably end up only having to go once every 2 months, it was never more than once every 2 weeks and more often it was once every single week because my INR just refused to stay stable. It was up and down like a jack in the box and they never seemed to be able to figure out why (although the weight loss is probably a prime suspect). No matter how hard you tried you just didn’t seem to get my blood thin enough did you? That’s why I ended up on a stonkingly big dose of you. 12mg. That’s a lot in case you didn’t know, most people seem to get somewhere between 4-6mg of you daily – why did I need so much of you?

I won’t lie though, you have been a source of comfort to me. At least when I was taking you I knew that my blood was going to be thin. Ok, so not as thin as they would have liked, but still thinner than normal. And I knew that as long as I was with you, someone would be keeping an eye on me. So I do feel upset that we’re parting ways because due to the incredibly sub-standard care I’ve received from the NHS no-one is going to be watching out for me from now on. You were there after all when the Doctors told me several times that I would be with you for 6 months and then they would do a Thrombophilia test because of my family history to check that I wasn’t at a risk of developing more clots. Do you remember that?

Shame they don’t remember or didn’t write it down on my notes because they’re now denying they ever said it. So despite the family history of developing embolisms and DVTs out of nowhere and despite the fact that a healthy 27 year old shouldn’t randomly get blood clots on her lungs, they’ve basically told me where to go. That’s a shame really isn’t it?

Thankfully I’ve found a saviour. I’m going to be taking part in a study for a year for a different anti-coagulant. They want to see if this drug will be useful for people like me who have had random clots and are therefore at risk of getting them again – hopefully in the future they will complete their 6 months of Warfarin and then be put on this drug for another year to make sure they’re ok. Although it’s nice to be part of something that’s trying to advance medical knowledge, I’m mostly doing it because I’m scared and this way someone’s going to be checking to make sure I don’t die.

Don’t be jealous. This new guy isn’t really your replacement. No-one can ever replace you, you kind of saved my life and for that I’m ever go grateful.

(But this guy’s pretty cool, makes sure my blood is thin (if I haven’t got the placebo that is, this is a double-blind study), there are no restrictions to what I can eat and I can drink until my liver fails.)

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for everything, I know we haven’t always been the best of friends but I’d hate to discount what you’ve done for me.

I hope you don't think me rude if I say that I hope I don't see you again.

Lots of love

The Girl

Goodbye Warfarin - goodbyyyyyyyyeeeeee!!
(For those who like to know these things, pink = 5mg, blue = 3 mg and brown = 1mg)

Monday, 15 November 2010

Friend or Foe?

Do you have one of those friends who you get on with pretty well and they’re supportive but there’s just something about them that you’re not quite sure you can trust? And you can never quite put your finger on it until they suddenly sweep the rug out from under your feet and reveal their true colours?

Me too. Except the friend I’m talking about is Weightwatchers.

Weightwatchers and I have been pretty good friends for the past 6 months. We got off to a rocky start, counting Points was incredibly irritating and frustrating at times, but mostly the journey has been good. Since the beginning of May there have been 2 weeks where I have put weight on and I think my weight loss averages out at about 1.6lbs a week, so just below the recommended 2lbs of weekly weight loss. I think that’s kind of good going to be honest with you.

Once the initial Points counting annoyance was out of the way I seemed to slip effortlessly into a new routine and a new way of living. I say “effortless” simply because I didn’t realise I’d changed until the change was already upon me and I saw that I was eating better, eating less crap and exercising more. I was happy and more than that I was rather bloody proud of myself – I didn’t think it would work to be honest and I’m impressed that I managed to prove my negative little head (along with all those people who have been dying for me to fail at this) wrong.

Me and Weightwatchers were buddies. We were pals. I thought that Weightwatchers was probably proud of me too. After all I have to be a great statistic for them – steadily losing weight, following the Points system at the beginning, and learning a new way of eating and living which is healthy. Isn’t that what Weightwatchers is all about?

My concerns about my friendship with Weightwatchers first materialised when I got to my 3 stone landmark. I don’t usually stay for the meetings (I find them incredibly irritating, not the content of them, but the people that attend) but decided that I would to see what was going on. I got my Silver 7 and an embarrassing round of applause and my leader asked me if I had any tips to share that had helped me on my journey. I explained that sticking with it in the first couple of weeks and persevering with the Points counting was really really worth it to get you thinking about portion size and what you’re eating and that it had become so ingrained in me that I hadn’t actually tracked in months.

I realised I’d said the wrong thing. I didn’t understand what I’d done wrong and yet I had the distinct impression that Weightwatchers had fallen out with me a little bit. Surely this was the goal though? The point is that they show you a new way to look at what you’re eating, you make changes and these changes set you up for life so you can maintain your weight – isn’t it?

Now I’m beginning to wonder.

You may, or may not, know that Weightwatchers introduced a new plan last week. I was a naive soul who didn’t realise they did this quite regularly, silly little me thought that the Plan when I joined was just the general Weightwatchers Plan but apparently not.

Now. Before I begin I would like you to pay very close attention to what I’m about to say. I think the new Propoints Plan is VERY GOOD. Instead of just counting calories and fat you’re asked to know look at carbohydrates, protein and fibre into the balance – a much healthier way of looking at things. I AM NOT KNOCKING THE NEW PLAN. Are we clear? Good. I shall continue.

I stayed for the meeting to learn more about the new ProPoints plan. There is a new Points-finder which is almost comically difficult to navigate. I think I’m a pretty bright person but I struggled with this one – a cynical person might say that what they really want you to do is spend £7-odd on a new ProPoints calculator.....

One of the ‘helpers’ came to show a few of us how to work the wheel and I said “To be honest I think I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.” The helped looked at me as if I’d spit on her “But this is really good, you have to do this one.” I was a little puzzled and actually more than a little bit riled up.

I think that this was the moment that Weightwatchers and I fell out. Weightwatchers appears to be telling me that everything I’ve done up to this point in time is wrong. “Forget everything you know about the Points system because this is all completely different” said my Leader. Right. So this Plan that you’ve been championing up until last week you’re now saying is completely rubbish and you have to forget about it.

I was actually genuinely hurt. Weightwatchers hurt me. I felt that they were trying to take away from me all the successes I’ve achieved up to date. I felt like they were saying that my weight loss was down to doing the “wrong” thing. I went from feeling incredibly proud of my weight loss to feeling a little unbalanced and a little crappy. I felt that was mean – don’t take away from me what I’ve achieved – I’ve lost nearly 3.5 stone in 6 months, don’t tell me that’s rubbish because I didn’t do it according to your latest plan.

And then it hit me. Weightwatchers isn’t really my friend. I don’t think it wants me to succeed. It doesn’t want me to change my habits sufficiently so that I stop tracking and don’t need them anymore. It doesn’t want me to not be reliant on buying all of their products. Weightwatchers wants me to need it. It wants me to track for the rest of my life so that I’m scared of stopping and continue to give them my hard-earned cash each month. It was an unsettling realisation.

I could destruct my friendship immediately and never go back again but I don’t think there’s any need for rash decisions like that. I’m only 11lbs away from goal and I don’t own scales at home, I still like that weekly weigh-in and want to keep on doing it.

But, like that friend who stabs you in the back just that once, the friendship will never be the same again, there’ll always be a hint of mistrust. And I find that very sad.

Friday, 12 November 2010

I was confident

Yesterday I was an intrepid explorer. I left the comforts of Hull to travel to one of my most hated destinations.

London town.

(Apologies to my London readers.)

I don't know why but whenever I go to London something traumatic always seems to happen to me which then taints whatever fun I may have had. This time however I was determined everything was going to work. I’m 27. I can handle the Tube. I am a strong, capable woman. (I told myself.)

I made sure I was well prepared – I printed off a lovely little map, I strategised, I knew what I was doing. It was going to be easy, I was going to get a tube from Kings Cross to Euston (yes I know they’re terribly close but walking in London means getting lost in London and I wasn’t going to take any chances) and then it was just a walk in a straight line to Tavistock Square. Everything was sorted, I was confident.

I was confident up until the point where I began to panic about my complete inability to wake up in the morning. My alarm usually goes off at 6.30am but I’ll rarely rise until after 7am such are my snoozing capabilities. I was going to have to get up at 5am to catch the train from Hull. Cripes. This panic made its way into my sub-conscious and I had the most horrific missing-the-train dream ever. When my alarm did go off at 5am I was so relieved the dream wasn’t a reality that I bounded out of bed immediately. I would make the train – hurrah! I was confident.

I was confident up until the point where I ended up in a herding pen at Kings Cross underground due to extreme over-crowding on the underground platforms. I stood patiently and tried to curb my mounting panic as people began shuffling ever closer together, causing my claustrophobic fears to escalate to new heights. I held my ground when the barriers finally were opened and everyone surged forward as if these were the last trains leaving London. But I got on the right train, I got to Euston in one piece and I strode out of the station, clutching my little printed out map. All I had to do was walk in a straight line. I was confident.

I was confident up until the point when I realised that although I was walking in a straight line, this straight line happened to be in the wrong direction. I was officially lost in London. I tried to ask for help but annoyingly London lived up to its stereotype and not one person stopped when I asked for help. I hate it when stereotypes are proved right, I don’t want to believe that all people in London are like that but I have never in my days seen somebody who’s lost in Hull get point blank ignored. It made, and is still making me, incredibly angry. I didn’t want to completely freak out but I had a feeling that the time to panic was drawing near so I decided to retrace my steps back to Euston and start again and as luck would have it saw where I needed to go and started heading in the right direction. Hurrah! I was confident.

I was confident up until the point when I realised I was 20 minutes late to the conference (which might as well be 2 hours late if you’re pathologically early like me) and would have to walk into the hall while the keynote speech was being delivered. It’s ok I thought, you can creep in the back. Oh no, this marvellous room had the doors at the front so I had to walk through, past the keynote speaker, in front of the entire audience and scrabble around looking for a chair.


And all this for a conference which turned out to be really rather pointless.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

And now for something a little more lighthearted

You see this is why I like blogging. If I hadn't been a blogger and I hadn't published my post yesterday I would have been left wondering if I was the only person in the world that felt that way about being much much much further down the ladder than all my friends but I am a blogger and I did publish that post and now I can rest assured that of course I'm not the only one to feel that way. And everyone loves a bit of reassurance.

I have to tell you something though. This will most definitely make you laugh. And I swear on my life I am not lying about this.

Literally 10-15 minutes after I hit "Publish Post" yesterday afternoon, I got a call from one of my best friends from university to let me know that her boyfriend proposed over the weekend and she'll hopefully be getting married before summer next year.

Totally serious.

I nearly threw myself in front of a bus on the way home from work.


But let us move on to brighter and (more importantly) funnier things. Last week Hayley at ceriselle.org decided to hold a giveaway for some rather lovely Nails Inc nail polishes.

I get irrationally angry sometimes when it comes to giveaways. Mainly because of the squirmy squirmers who never ever comment on anything that people write and yet suddenly come out of the woodwork at the mere whiff of getting free stuff. Not cool guys, not cool. I also decided in my irationally angry state that it shouldn't be as easy as just commenting to be in with a chance of winning, I thought people should work a little harder so I suggested that people should have to write an essay as to why they deserved to win this giveaway. Tim readily agreed with me.

And so, one very boring day at work (shush don't tell anyone) I decided that I would write a bloody essay about why I deserved the nail polishes and I e-mailed it to her straight away.

Hayley has been kind enough to publish it - go HERE to read it, you really should you know. It's all about how I'm rubbish at being a girl. And Tim has even graded it for me.

And no I didn't win the giveaway. I don't want to talk about it...

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Not quite where I thought I'd be

When I was a little girl I imagined what my life would be like. I would obviously get married and I would have the babies and I would have the house and I would have the job. My brain never went into more detail than that, I’m not one of those girls who knows what every aspect of her wedding will be like (in fact I fear that I’ll be one of those unfortunates who just looks like a twat in a big white dress) and I was never specific about how many children I would have, how big, or where, the house would be and no idea what career ladder I would be climbing.

There was only one thing fixed in my head. The age by which all this would have happened.

That age?

My late twenties.


The trouble with this dream was threefold:

1. I was little! I was at an age where 40 means you’re close to your grave and in my head late twenties was pretty damn old.

2. I had the older brother and sister leading the way – they were both married and sprogged up by the time they were my age, so of course I thought it was reasonable. What I didn’t realise was that really they were the exception to the rule, my sister especially, she is Mrs Big Fancy Boss Woman, but only because she had her children pretty early on, went straight back to work and got to hop, skip and jump up the ladder in her 30s when all her fellow female colleagues were dropping out to deliver their offspring into the world.

3. I have an older Mum. She was 38 when she had me and although I love her dearly, I was conscious of having an older Mum and didn’t really like it growing up. The gap between her generation and mine just seemed so big and I know we all think our parents don’t understand us but mine really really didn’t, she was bewildered by me a little bit I think. I wanted to still be fairly young when I had my kiddywinks.

Anyway. Whatever the reasons were I think it’s easy to say that it aint gonna happen. Unless I win millions of pounds enabling me to buy my own house and pressure someone into impregnating me in the next couple of years, that childhood dream will remain just that.

And weirdly enough, I’m starting to feel ok with that. A few years ago when Mr Gym Freak and I split up I went into a complete spiral and thought that my life was over and I’d never find anyone ever again and all my chances of realising my dreams were up in smoke. But, you know, you get over it don’t you?

And then I thought I’d found it all again with the ex only, well you all know well enough, that didn’t work out and so I find myself, at 27, not in a house with a husband and a baby but in a house with a friend and two cats. I won’t lie, at first it was difficult, when I moved in to Dorothy’s I went upstairs to unpack and just stood there looking at all my shit all over this tiny double room and couldn’t believe what I’d done, I wanted to take it all back immediately.

The trouble is, the childhood me never took into consideration the notion of happiness. My brain was focused on the end products – husband, house, child – not on the feelings that went hand in hand and if I have only learned one thing over the past few years, it’s that the happiness thing is the most important.

I could have had, or come incredibly close, to having all that Tiny Me wanted. All I would have had to have done was discount my happiness. It wasn’t terrible, I could have stayed, but I knew that I couldn’t put those feelings to one side and so blew up those dreams in a puff of smoke. Like I said, I am now feeling ok about that, yes it’s sad but it isn’t the end of the world, life is carrying on and I know, I know, that me being happy is more important than some silly childhood dream.


A week on Saturday I will attend the first wedding of my group of friends. I can’t wait, for one thing the pair of them have been engaged for freakin’ years, but I can’t lie, it’s made me feel a little wobbly and although I will be at the wedding just being happy for the pair of them I know that there’ll be a little part of me inside that is just ever so sad (and more than a little jealous) that it’s so far away from my grubby little mitts. This is sometimes made worse by the fact that out of the seven of our group, three are engaged, one has a baby with her partner, two live with their partners....and then there’s me. Excellent.

When I do start to feel wobbly I try to focus myself and tell myself to calm. down. It’s all fine. It’s all going to work out (no don’t ask me how I know, I put all my energy into not asking that question). You are happy, that’s what’s important. Repeat after me, “You are happy. You are happy.”

And then equilibrium is restored.


Until earlier this week when one of the girls who lives with her boyfriend announced that she was engaged.

Anyone got a paper bag to hand?

Friday, 5 November 2010

Getting the crochet on

Well aren't you all an excitable little bunch, I can practically hear you salivating at the prospect of some juicy gossip. I can confirm that I am most certainly not pregnant (note to self: read through things properly before you post them my dear) and I do not have a new cat. And I hate to say that I have unfortunately not cloned myself either. (But I am working on that one and early results are looking positive.) But I do have a friend of the male persuasion, a boyfriend you may call it. But I was being serious I'm really not going to be doing a lot of posting about it because I really don't want to go down that route again. Plus he reads this and will get a massive head if I say anything nice about him.
But I did think I would just share the knowledge round. Especially as someone is my Facebook friend and saw photos which kind of gave the game away!
So anyway....
Hot on the heels of my last blanket I decided I would see if I could manage to fit just one more in before Christmas and the lucky recipient of this one is going to be my Mum.
Her living room has lots of blues in it so the colour choice was all taken care of. When I went to France I chanced upon a yarn shop (god only knows what the lovely French lady thought of the over-excitable 20-something jumping up and down in her shop) and snapped up some lovely blues, with a dash of grey in there to break things up.
I soon realised that I would have nowhere near enough wool to make a blanket so I raided a market stall in Preston and came away with ridiculously large balls of wool in vaguely similar colours so I would have enough yarn to give me a decent sized blanket.
You know what though? I’m kinda bored of the granny squares. I feel like I’ve done them, I’ve conquered them and although I could quite happily carry on going round and round and round and coming up with new combinations (I am particularly proud of that patchwork blanket you know) but I felt that I should try something a little bit different. I contemplated trying the ripple again but I fear I am fast developing a phobia of it, just thinking about it brings me out in a rash. I will try again in the new year when I start crocheting something for myself for a change!
I turned to Jan Eaton’s 200 crochet blocks book and discovered something which looked familiar to me. At about the same time the blogosphere was filled with granny stripe blankets, inspired by Attic24, but here in front of me were the instructions to do my own little granny stripe square.
And so I set off. More than a little nervous. Although crocheting in the round hasn’t been too much of a problem for me, going from side to side has resulted in much more trauma than seems necessary and has seen the production of many a misshapen block. But to my complete surprise it worked. I followed the instructions and actually produced the right thing!
Before I carry on I would like to point out that my tension/wool/crochet hook could have been all wrong because these squares came out decidedly, well, you know, not square. Definitely more rectangular.
Once all the French wool was used up I stopped and assessed the situation. Lots of lovely stripy squares. Excellent. Except I didn’t want the whole blanket to be granny stripe squares, I thought I’d throw in a couple of your normal granny squares (see, I can’t leave them alone) using the market wool.
Which is when it hit me. I could have serious problems with squares not being the same size here. As I’ve mentioned some of them were lovely granny stripe rectangles, rather than squares, and that left me with no other option...
Learning how to block.
‘Blocking’ is a phrase which has filled me with horror ever since I started on this crochet malarkey. It has always sounded;
a)       incredibly complicated, and
b)      prone to disaster.
But I decided to bite the bullet. I did my research, thought about buying a blocking board, realised they were ridiculously expensive, and then read that you can block them on a bed. Couldn’t have been better timing because I was off  to Sheffield for the weekend, so on Saturday I rose, ripped the quilt off, covered the mattress in towels, grabbed as many pins as I could find, my trusty spray, my ruler and I set off on my intrepid adventure.
The conclusion? Blocking is a pain in the arse and almost literally back breaking (although to be fair it’s not the bed’s fault that it’s shoved up against one side of the wall). It’s tedious and irritating and I really can see why people spend the money on a blocking board. I would measure and measure and be satisfied, only to discover that the block had mysteriously come up with measurements of its own.
And none of this was helped by the arrival of my able assistant, Maggie, who did little to assist and actually made me block my squares around her. Worst assistant ever. She didn’t even go and get me more pins when I asked her.
I’m actually not entirely sure that it worked to be honest. I don’t think that the pinning was done particularly expertly, I think it probably suffered because I don’t think the yarn was 100% natural. The blocks do all appear to be the same size as each other but I’m definitely still whiffing a scent of rectangularness going on.
So in short I haven’t got the foggiest idea what’s going to happen now. I shall begin grannying, regardless of any worries, and just keep checking to see if my blocks are all coming out the same shape.
And don’t even talk to me about how I’m joining them together. Although Jan Eaton’s book does offer a small section on joining blocks together, these are just a demonstration of different stitches and not an actual elaborate explanation of how I’m supposed to join something that’s just a plain straight edge, to something that’s a granny. I don’t want to talk about it...
Stay tuned. I think this one’s going to roll and roll.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Inspiration running low

I'm an absent blogger at the moment. I just can't seem to find anything I want to blog about.

I want to blog. I sit here with a blank screen in front of me and will myself to fill it with thoughtful and funny prose but the words appear to have deserted me at the moment.

That and the fact that life has really slowed down at the moment and I haven't actually done anything that might provide me with a bit of blog content.

And so because I really want to blog I'm going to do the worst thing imaginable, which is post about not having anything to post about. That's really bad isn't it? I feel like I'm short-changing everyone that's reading this and I am imaginging you sitting there saying, "By golly gosh, she's swindled me out of my time spent reading this nonsense!" (I like to imagine you all sitting and reading whilst wearing monocles and top hats apparently.)

I feel like I should make this post really worth your while reading.

I'll let you in on a secret.

I'm not Just Me anymore if you catch my drift.

But don't worry, I won't be blogging about it not being just me because, you know, this blog is supposed to be about just me innit?

I should really wrap this up. This is what happens when I blog without planning and forethought, you're actually seeing into the mind of The Girl right now. It's kind of disjointed isn't it?


Edited to add: My god I just read this over and I realise that it could be construed as me saying that I'm pregnant. I'm most definitely not.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Post hen do

I am a broken woman.

The hen do was amazing and Sheffield didn’t know what had hit it but I feel like some kind of casualty of war.

I ache from my head to my feet. My neck hurts but I have no idea why, did it buckle under the pressure of all the hairspray keeping my hair up? My feet hurt, one of them sporting a rather wonderful bruise which was the result of getting in the way of some exuberant dance moves from the Hen. My hamstrings hurt, although this is unsurprising given that I danced solidly for 5/6 hours straight, sitting down was for wusses apparently.

I’m pretty sure that even my fingers hurt.

I couldn’t even tell you if I was hungover yesterday or not (yes I did break the Warfarin rules and drink my little socks off. Fancy dress requires drinks I’m afraid). I can tell you that I was incredibly tired. Incredibly incredibly tired, most likely from the excessive dancing.

The extra hour should have helped us. It should have been an extra hour in bed. But instead we used it as an extra hour of drinking and dancing. My poor little body needed sleep, sleep and more sleep. I even fell asleep during the day, a never heard of activity if you’re me (even if it only was for 30 minutes).

The cold which has been lurking about for weeks and weeks has taken advantage of my run down immune system and is trying to invade my whole body, the lungs have been the first to capitulate and I’m hoping I’m not seeing the return of the cough that irritated and annoyed me for 18 months, only to disappear when I had the embolism. But my body (and more importantly my brain) are telling it to just bugger off, I don’t have time to be ill thank you very much so you might as well just leave.

But was it worth it?

Absolutely baby.

Now excuse me while I curl up in a ball somewhere.