Tuesday, 24 July 2007

From The Past...

I decided to move away from the blogging on myspace, well it's a bit poor!
So here I am, but I wanted to bring everything with me, I like a sense of order! And I couldn't figure out an easy way to backdate it all so there's one, vast post...

I'm scared to hit publish post in case it loses everything...

23 Jul 2007 Modern Cookery

Today I am pleased of two things:1. I'm a vegetarian.2. That I was not alive in 1946 and cooking with their cookery books.
I mentioned in a previous post that I handle a lot of old books and found the following today in a book titled 'Essentials Of Modern Cookery'

Roast Chicken

1. Pluck the bird while it is still warm, if possible, removing any remaining hairs or small feather by singeing.

2. Draw the sinews in the legs by inserting a skewer below the knee joint and pulling out the sinews. Cut off the feet.

3. Cut off the head, leaving a long flap of skin in the front to fold over and cut the neck close to the body.

4. Loosen the skin at the head-end and carefully draw out the crop (I just wrote 'crap' and gave myself the giggles) and the windpipe and with the fingers loosen the internal organs that can be reached.

5. Make a slit at the other end of the bird crossways above the tail on the underside. Through this, loosen the internal organs at the lower end and draw out the inside taking care not to break the gall-bladder.

6. Wipe out the bird with a damp cloth.

And so it continues, and as I said earlier upon reading that... Thank fuck for Sainsburys.

23 July 2007 Hill Walking

When the alarm went off this morning, I was thrilled. I dragged myself out of bread. Cursed my laziness at not walking the couple of miles to the shop the day before which meant I was without milk and therefore my usual cereal breakfast. Resorted to peanut butter on toast with sliced banana... it might sound weird, but really - it rocks.

As an added bonus when I went to leave the house this morning in my cute skirt and cute shoes, it started to pour it down. These shoes are not known for their ability to keep me from slipping on wet surfaces. But the bus was due. Change to less cute, unco-ordinated, safer shoes or risk a fall and public humiliation? I chose the latter. Obviously.

The doors on the bus didn't work. Well they opened, but they didn't shut again. Which was great with the pouring rain. And the seals on the windows? Not really sealing anything, or rather not stopping the water from dripping on my head on every corner. Some poor woman pressed the bell to disembark and was instructed by the driver to press the big red button as she got out so that the doors would close. Unfortunately she was quite short (I empathise) and got partially trapped by the doors on her exit. I heard a number of repressed snickers. Ooh snickers... I haven't eaten yet... anyway....

I realised that there was an unforeseen bright side to the rain - I could hold my umbrella in front of my face so no one could see precisely how closely I matched the colour of a boiled lobster after the hill climb.

It was the walk down that worried me most though. That hill's slippy. I've seen them station ambulances half way down in winter to rescue the fallen. Although my sister once went down it on a tray. I think that's so cool and wish I'd thought of it.But, I now have hair dye and later will be tossing a coin to choose either poppy or pillarbox red.

I headed back to the bus station and waited (im)patiently in the queue and was followed by a mother and her two children. The boy of which plainly had some issues. Possibly ADD or something similar. The bus pulled in and he ran to the front of the queue only to be called back by his mother, upon which he screamed that someone would take his seat. I inwardly prayed I didn't choose whichever seat was his. I sensed it wouldn't be pretty. So I carefully picked a seat, not at the back, not at the front and crossed my fingers. He mounted the bus, looked around, starting jumping up and down whilst screaming that now there was nowhere for them to sit. His mother sweetly told him to shut the hell up and then sat him in front of me and she sat behind. Excellent. I congratulated myself on my choice of seat. He spent the majority of the journey proferring apologies for his behaviour and demanding Polos. I decided it would be bad form to just move seats without a word, but then decided I'd left it too long to offer to move. Although feeling like piggy in the middle didn't make for the best journey home.

However, upon arriving home I found a bag of half a kilo of peas in my letter box. Or rather stuck fast in my letter box. This brightened my day, for peas are the love of my life. Shh, don't tell Mifford. I thank you Paul for your kind donation.

Time for tea/dinner/whichever. But, I must say, it's been touch and go today as to whether Harriet was going to be able to make it to the festival. (When I write festival it makes my tummy flip - I'm THAT excited) And she's coming and I'm thrilled! I really can't wait.Just waiting on a call from Kim so that we can try to erect the tent in my barn, she has borrowed one and isn't sure all the pieces are present. Don't you love that it's summer and to test a tent you have to do it indoors. Ah, gotta love the British weather!

22 Jul 2007 No Rain Today

It hasn't rained today. This is almost more of a shock to the system than I know how to cope with! It's been lovely not to have to watch the tv at full volume because of the deafening noise of the rain hitting the conservatory roof. Although I suppose this means, if it continues, that I'll have to start watering the garden myself. Shame, because the clouds do SUCH a thorough job!

I have new neighbours. I don't like where they park their car. They park it in their own drive, but my kitchen window overlooks their front garden and the view is somewhat ruined now a silver car sits out there. Totally inconsiderate I'm sure you'll agree.

Tomorrow morning I have to walk up Steep Hill. I'm not known for my levels of fitness, but I am known for going an attractive shade of puce after exertion and am understandably thrilled about the possibility of being that colour upon reaching the top of the hill. However, I ought to be able to purchase new hair dye on the way which will lessen the torture. I will be able to rectify the harlequin hair situation I'm currently suffering with. For the first time in years I am able to clearly see my natural hair colour. Along with a bit of blonde from some overenthusiastic prior dying attempt. The rest is a pale orange. It could be worse. I'm just not sure how.

On Wednesday I'm going to an Eden beauty spa, I am getting a massage and for this I am truly grateful. My back is killing me! Damn boobs. Oh and it's not the Eden Hall place on the Nottingham road - that place gives me the creeps. Must be something about getting beauty therapy in an ex-maggot factory. It just doesn't seem right does it?

Oh, and as an aside, I handle a huge number of old books and am always finding things inside them. Never any stashes of cash or anything though sadly, or treasure maps. Damn my lack of adventure.Once I found a stamped & addressed envelope - addressed to the characters in Pride & Prejudice. That's weird right? Who writes to fictional addresses?Although once I read so much Virgina Andrews in one week I contemplated making a phone call to the main character - I was ill, I was feverish. Honest. Today I found a sort of loveletter, he plainly misses the object of his affections but spends the majority of the letter explaining how some of the functions on his watch seem to have failed. I'd like to think he had some 007 features on there, but I suspect he just couldn't get it to light up any more. I was going to say, who'd write about that, but I'm writing about it. Oh dear god.I found a circus programme once too, it looked like a cool show. Although never as cool as the Moscow State Circus - seen IN Moscow. I'm anti-circus' if they contain animals, which Moscow does, although all domestic animals and I was going to skip the circus - but it was amazing. Although the trapeze act aged me prematurely.

God, I'm like a butterfly brain on speed tonight.

18 Jul 2007 Enid Blyton

I always loved Enid Blyton. I love to read, I have a passion for books and a deep love of words. Maybe I'll write about that in another blog, anyway, I loved the Famous Five. One of the characters within those stories had an affinity with animals, I think it might have been George... Well that'd be my guess in a pub quiz.I always wished that I was George, I wanted the animals to know they could trust me and that they'd come and by my friends. Yeah, I'm a little sad, but that's fine.

However, I'm beginning to wonder about the validity of animals being drawn to you. Or rather drawn to dashing into the road in front of my vehicle. In the past week theres's been a vole (he was a fast little sucker), a weasel, hares, partridges, a rat, several broods of pheasants, rabbits, a close encounter with a blackbird and the wing of the car - which I believe/hope it survived, oh and there was a squirrel too, and the collared doves and suicidal wood pigeons.

The upside to this is I am protected by metal and glass and any impact is not directly with my person. Although I'd still reach a level of hysteria that wouldn't be attractive to the human eye.

The other night a bat flew round my head, which was a little eerie but kinda cool, you could just make it out against the moonlight. I quite liked that. What I didn't enjoy was the swallow that took a wrong turn, through the doors of my barn, then appeared to fly directly at my head today. Apparently my mother who was standing close by didn't appreciate my squeal at the impending swallow impact and appeared to have a minor coronary.

I'm thinking that this whole business of having animals attracted to you really isn't all it's cracked up to be. Although in my mind, they were friendly and not flying, sharp-beaked at my head.

I think I'll stick to Mifford and although her claws are sharp on occasion... she's never attacked my head. Well apart from the occasional thwack to the face to indicate she'd like to me to awaken from my slumber.

Actually, thinking of Enid Blyton again, as a child, my best friend, Sarah, and I loved the magic faraway tree. We lived near these big allotments and spent a lot of time down there, deep in the old fields. God, how much safer it must have been then. There was a big old, fallen, burnt out tree and we'd slide inside and imagine it were the faraway tree. There were horses in those fields, anyone would think that the barbed wire was to stop people going in there... but you know, we were kids. This one day there was this huge black horse. He took exception to us having ignored that barbed wire. And chased us. Up a tree. Well the horse didn't go up the tree - although that would have been so incredibly cool. That damn horse wouldn't leave, so we were stuck up that tree for ages. I remember us just being worried we were going to get into trouble for being late home for tea. Oh the responsibilites of being a child. But see - the same animal attraction issues.

13 Jul 2007 Friday Thirteenth

I've never been very superstitious about Friday 13th but maybe because I'm just generally always getting myself into some kind of scrape that all days are a little Friday 13th!

I went to the pub quiz on Wednesday evening, drove to pick up a friend on the way and as I neared his house I thought that something wasn't right. Since I blew out the tyre on the back road I've developed a paranoia about getting flat tyres, so I put it down to that. Anyway, Gary comes out of the house, beckons me and then shouts I've got a flat. I've been driving about 15 years. Never had a flat in all that time, then I get two in about as many months. However, I can now change a wheel like a pro. And without breaking a nail. I can't even go bowling without breaking a nail!

The sky on the way back from the quiz was absolutely amazing though. (We sucked at the quiz, it was bloody hard!) To my right the sky was literally as black as night, and to the left it was as if there was a full moon. It was a pale blue fading down, through yellow, to a delicious red on the horizon. Out there on the back roads where there are no lights to disturb the natural light it was just beautiful. You can get lost in skies like that.

The rain is falling again today, gently. Not that torrential pouring that we've become so used to. I'm religiously checking the metcheck website for weather forecasts for the festival in a fortnight. Not that I'm panicking or anything. Ahem. Seriously, my tent lets in water. It's old, sorry, vintage - and very, very cool. (When it's not letting in water.)

A huge beetle flew into my head the other night whilst I was reading in bed. Do you know how uncool that is? I may have freaked out just a little bit. Well, seriously, it got stuck in my hair. It was the size of a fricking marble, but brown and a little hairy. At times like this I am pleased I live alone and no one is around to see my maniacal leaping around avec beetle, although I'm sure my squealing was only audible to the bats in the village.

08 Jul 2007 Quackers

Never let it be said that ducks aren't smart little devils. As I sit here, there's a riot of quacking outside my front door. For at least the fourth time today. I'm out of bread and I'm out of bird food. They're eating me out of house and home. And yet, I am powerless to resist.

My neighbour tells me she fed them yesterday and watched them waddle off to then come to a complete halt outside my front door and commence quacking. They go round the village like this, from house to house to house. I'm beginning to wonder if we all fall for their plaintive quacking. If so, that'd really explain why there's so much junk in their trunk!

And still they quack. And if I open the door, they'll just come right on in. I have a soft spot for a black one with a white throat, mainly because he's got disco feet. Seriously, they're orange and black and damned funky.
Just in case you were wondering, yup, they're still out there, quacking. I average about 19 ducks at any one visit. Which is cute, but at 7.30am. Not so much.

06 Jul 2007 Rain Rain Go Away

It's just 20 days till I go to my beloved Cambridge Folk Festival. The forecast for the next 14 days isn't pretty, rain every single damn day. I would just love for it to be sunny. We've always joked that the sun always shines on Cambridge. I only remember it raining once properly in all the years I've been going. We've put the tent up in rain before, but then the sun comes out and we spend the weekend slow roasting. Heaven.

I have a feeling that this is going to be the year of mud and I'm not entirely feeling too positive about that. I have no desire for a Glastonbury experience. It's a bit sad but it'll be the only break that I get this year so I shall have to get on my knees start begging the weather gods to please take the rain away. I have no objection to a few cotton wool clouds. Ideally this:

Now that's really not SO much to ask is it? I'd just like to not have to wear wellies and waterproofs. Hell, I don't even own any waterproofs.

I guess what this means is that I'm going to have to be there in plenty of time for the midday dash on Friday. The festival starts on Thursday evening but with only Main Stage 2 and The Club Tent having bands on. Main Stage 1 comes alive on Friday afternoon. There's a large bit of undercover but it's cordoned off until about midday, at which point a crowd slowly builds at the cordon waiting for it to be lowered so we can head towards the stage. So eventually someone comes on stage, tells us the cordon is about to be removed and to instruct us not to run. Yeah right. I don't run, apart from that once a year event. After around a decade we've discovered the best place to sit, to avoid getting kicked in the head as people clamber through the crowd.

So anyway, they lower the cordon, everyone walks for about two steps, then it suddenly becomes this insane sprint as people go for what they believe to be the best spot or to be right at the front. The folky crowd are a lovely bunch, but don't get in anyone's way in that sprint. Quite hilariously, I got pushed over last time. In our quest to discover the perfect spot we'd unintentionally invaded a wee club of people who have been sitting together for years in the same, perfect spot. Took them a short while to fully accept us into their midst.

So at least that perfect spot is under cover, but it'll be mighty cosy if the rain continues as more and more people try to shove in under cover.

I'm not asking for glorious sunshine or extreme heat, I can wear a cardigan after all, I'm cool me. But I would just like for it to stay dry. Pretty Pretty Please, Mother Nature?

04 Jul 2007 Idiosyncracies

I was just preparing an apple for my consumption and realised that I have a number of idiosyncracies and now I'm trying to decide if it's a normal or abnormal amount!

Before I eat an apple I have to remove every one of the little hairs. Hairs? On an apple? Oh yes. At the opposite end to the stalk there are tiny little hairs inside. I have to remove all of the little leafy bits, and then all the hairs. I have no idea where this even came from, but only that I can't eat an apple without them all being removed.

Sticking with fruit, I love strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Although my sister, Gin, won't eat raspberries because they look like nipples. Anyway, it's the hair here that bothers me too. Not on the fruit, but when it's in yoghurt or in a smoothie. All those little hairs floating - it's just not right I tell you!Once I bought a smoothie whilst waiting to collect my Mum & Stepdad from the airport, I didn't read the front properly, took one mouthful and thought I was about to throw up, I'd missed the fact it had raspberries in it. I abandoned the smoothie in the cup-holder, without realising I hadn't properly fastened the lid. So when Mum knocked it over, that milk got good and deep into the carpet of her car. She was thrilled, because, it has to be said, the smell of rancid milk - well, it's just SO delicious! Ooops.

I also absolutely have to squeeze toothpaste from the bottom of the tube. I can't stand a middle squeezer, it drives me mad. In the past I've bought the pump toothpaste tubes just to avoid the middle squeezing. Do I need help yet?
What about the fact that all of my hundreds of cd's are put away so that every single cd is perfectly straight within its case? Same goes for dvd's. I'm essentially a pretty untidy gal but I like everything to be in its place, I like order and organisation. A place for everything and everything in its place. Despite how messy my brain is half the time. Ok, most of the time. Oh and I suppose it goes without saying that my cd's and dvd's are arranged alphabetically?

My books aren't arranged alphabetically, but I do like to keep everything by one author in the same place. That's normal though. Right?

July 2007 Lunches

I love having lunch. I prefer to eat out, but unfortunately I don't have a bottomless bank account. And for this I am truly sorry.

Yesterday Harriet and I decided to skip the usual lunch at Hemswell and to hit The Bowl Full instead. It was closed. Aha! The Vanilla Bean instead we agreed, so off we trundled, to its wealth of cakes and panini. Or not. The Vanilla Bean is no more. This is, quite frankly, a crime. They still had cake that I hadn't tried. Damn it. We were lost. Suddenly lunch was becoming complicated. I had a brainwave... I said to Harriet: "Ooh that place on the hill! The one with the P! With the shop! With clothes and handbags!" God bless her for knowing precisely what I was babbling about. May I also say that brie and grapes on toast? Totally rocks.

Today for lunch I wanted peanut butter and banana on toast but alas, I had failed to plan ahead and ate the last banana for breakfast. So instead I had an avocado with balsamic vinegar and corn on the cob. Welcome to my world of surreal food. It's great here.

You know what I miss though? Blueberry bagels. SO hard to find now, and buttered blueberry bagels with sliced banana atop them. See, I'm not at all hungry, but I could still eat those.. endlessly.

This isn't at all related to food, but it's on my mind. In fact it's so far removed from food as to put you off food for some time. I think there's an ants nest behind my skirting board. I have issues with killing things, even ants, but seriously, yesterday they started a mass exodus. The wingless chaps escorting out the fully winged fellas. I killed them. I still feel a bit bad, but I could just feel them crawling all over me in the night. But what if there are more behind there? Eugh.

29 Jun 2007 Crocodile Floods

I meant to say in the previous blog but I was looking at images of Lincolnshire's flooding on youtube earlier and I swear that in the video at 25 seconds there's a crocodile swimming in someones garden.
It doesn't want to play automatically for me so I hope there aren't other wildlife shots in the first five seconds as I flick past them.
But really? A crocodile?
Croc Or Not?

29 June 2007 Tomorrow, Tomorrow, The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow...

...Or maybe not...
So, more rain is forecast. The Beck is on flood warning and is higher than I ever remember seeing it. Just a foot from making its way into my mothers garden. So as she and Tim are off gallivanting around the globe, or continent, I trundled round to move the electrical items out of harms way should the waters move higher.

It doesn't look that bad here, but there are steps the other side of the gate that lead down to the normal level of the beck, only you can't make them out because of the water level.
The water still seems so beautifully clear though. It still feels so pretty... and even though the road is flooded in this one, the ducks are avoiding swimming in it. I think they think all their Christmases have come and don't know where to swim first.

Don't the weeping willows look amazing though?
And usually you can see all of the arch here:
Now it seems like there's barely any room left for the water to flow through.
It feels amazing to me that just a couple of weeks ago we were mucking around in that beck, having our annual duck races, the water barely half way to the knee and now it's far above knee level. Often the village kids can be found playing in the beck when the sun is shining with their little fishing nets, waiting for a minnow to dart between the rocks. We actually get brown trout in there, at least that's what I think they are, but they're swift fellows. Normally you just spot a hint of a fin or a flick of a tail as they shoot off in search of somewhere to hide.
I was just looking at the last photo, no wonder the ducks aren't swimming in the beck, if they try and get under that arch they're asking for one hell of a headache.

Anyway, the sun is shining here, I feel like I should be out mowing the lawn and relishing the fact the clouds are white and empty, not the heavy grey I've come to expect.

I felt like I could have sat at the bottom of Mum's garden, it's such a beautiful space. But as the rain began to slowly fall I decided this might not be the wisest idea. Shame though, especially as the sound of the high water is wonderful at the moment.
Instead I wandered back towards the house.... where the garden is also looking great from all the rain:

But unfortunately this image also greets me:

Aha! A Hot Tub... This is a good thing you may think, and indeed it is. When it's not empty. When it's empty it's a very sad thing. So it sits there, taunting me with memories of its deliciously warm bubbling water. Memories of hours lost and wrinkled fingers, of pitch black nights watching the stars through a veil of steam, of fine rain falling on your cold face as the warm water confuses your senses, of naughtily fiddling with the little knobs (Sorry Mum!) so that the jets become so powerful you are almost unable to stay seated, of never wanting to get out. I miss you Hot Tub. May your lid soon be repaired and may hot-tubbing soon recommence.

26 Jun 2007 The Modern World

A note came through the door to say that my village was going to have its electricity supply interrupted - so that our supply won't be interrupted. Hmmm. They had to cut the trees away from the lines and the big jessies were to afraid to cut near live wires. Honestly, where's their sense of adventure. So today from approximately 0900-1300 I was due to be without electricity. I pondered on this, no internet, what would I do? Never mind, I'll catch up on some of the stuff I've recorded, ah no, no tv. Well I can read a book and listen to some music, oh wait, no... no stereo.

Really, how did we live before electricity? I know we didn't know any different, but still. So, I went out to avoid going slightly insane with boredom. Got home a little after 1300 and expectantly flicked the light switch. Nothing. I felt completely at a loss. I felt driven to do housework. So, I attacked the washing up, oh but wait, no hot water. Ah well, I'll hoover up... at this point you may be realising I'm a little slow on the uptake. So, I stood twiddling my thumbs in the kitchen (after realising electricity would also be necessary to boil a kettle to do the washing up). Oh, and, we have no gas in the village so you can't even cook or heat water that way.

Suddenly there came a low grumble from the general direction of the fridge, I ran to the light switch and lo! There was light! I flicked the switches on and off whilst doing a little dance and immediately dashed to the world of the stereo and tv equipment. In under a minute music was massaging my ears and oh my, I was so grateful.

I'm apparently spoiled by the modern world and I don't want it any other way.

24 Jun 2007 Feeling Good

This evening I applied a face mask. Of the peel off variety. I get so excited about the peeling off part (yeah, I know, I need to get out more, shush now) it just feels SO good. There are some things, wholesome things, that just feel incredible.

I love how clean and soft my skin feels when I peel off that mask, but most of all it feels like it's taking something away, cleansing... which it is... but you know!

This one is well documented - but freshly shaved legs sliding between freshly laundered cool sheets. Really, it's just such a wonderful feeling.

And, dedicated to the story of mine and his summer camp tale. When you're desperate for the loo and finally get to go. It's what the sound 'ahhhhhhhhhh' was invented for.

Two to end on... I love brushing my teeth. I love how smooth and clean they feel when you've done.

And lastly, hot steamy showers. That feeling of deep down clean followed by a warm towel fresh from the radiator.

What else feels good?

22 Jun 2007 Conspiracy Theories

So I was out and about today for a change. I poddled off on the train to see a friend. I don't go on the train often but I enjoy it. I love eavesdropping on snippets of conversation. As I waited for the first of my trains the ladies behind me discussed the fact that neither of them believe we really went to the moon and went on to discuss real estate on the moon. I love conspiracy theories and was inwardly chuckling. One said she wished she could live up there to which the other replied that we weren't able to live peaceably down here, why would up there be any different. I'm inclined to agree. She said it wouldn't be long before we were arguing about where the fence belonged and who was going to paint it. Ah how right she is. But did we land on the moon?

There were a number of cancellations due to the floods and as I boarded a delayed train a girl across from me rang a friend to tell them she'd be late, I half listened to the monologue of where she was, where she'd been, how long she'd been waiting, her explanations of where she had to go next and what time she thought she might finally get in. She seemed to talk without pausing for breath for several minutes. Finally there was a pause followed by her exclamation "Oh, I've got the wrong number haven't I?" I don't think my snorting laughter was too audible.

I read an entire book today. Lighthousekeeping by Jeanette Winterson. I loved it. But I haven't read anything of hers that I haven't loved. It was a story about telling stories and it was warm with words and sentences and paragraphs I wanted to commit to memory, so they would become part of the fabric of me.
As I stood on the station platform, waiting to return home a Health and Safety announcement bellowed from the speakers, advising us to remember not to flush the train toilets whilst the trains were stationary. The eyes of the lady next to me met mine and we snickered. "Don't look at the tracks" I advised. Both our eyes were drawn to the tracks of course. Nothing to see. But I still couldn't stop looking. You desperately don't want to see but because you shouldn't, it's all you want to do. Back when I was doing jury service we'd loll about on the lawns of the castle whilst waiting for the court case to begin. The one day one of the guards told us that we must not look over the wall. I'd never even contemplated looking over it until that moment. Apparently over the wall was where the prisoners were delivered to stand accused and by seeing them we might form opinions and judge them unfairly. I understood that, but by god I wanted to look over the wall. Oh and by the way, we found ours guilty.

I sat next to an elderly lady on the train home, she'd been expecting a direct train and hadn't anticipated our little Lincolnshire trains stopping at every village and hamlet on the map. She was journeying to visit her sister in Louth and as she sat and pondered over the answers to the crossword in her paper I wondered about the stories she must have to tell.

The rain is still coming down but the sun is shining too. You can almost see each drop of rain as it falls, highlighted by the glare of the sun. I stepped off the train, walked a little way and stood, face to the clouds and let the rain cover my face. I do so love the rain. But Australians who had just arrived here were in some sort of climate shock judging by the conversation I eavesdropped as I walked behind them. I love the unpredictability and the variety of our weather. Never mind life being like a box of chocolates, English weather is a box of chocolates, when you draw those curtains, you really never know what you're going to get.

21 Jun 2007 Birthdays & Resolutions

So, another Birthday came and went. Quite frankly the next one can take its own sweet time in coming around. I'm sure I'm in the minority, but I hate birthdays. I decided to tell everyone this year that I hate them but there's some unwritten rule that you're supposed to enjoy them. I have yet to understand why. They make me miserable, so telling me to enjoy the day is like saying - go on enjoy being miserable. Anyway, rant over, it's gone.

Although, to continue the rant in a small way. I got up on my birthday to discover that my pc had decided to start refusing to connect to the internet, which did wonders for my mood. Although I did get to stomp around whilst chuntering to myself "See! I knew it would be a fucking shit day!" Ah I must have looked brilliantly ridiculous. Excellent.

I also heard some banging on the conservatory roof, stepped in there and looked up to see wads of moss banging against it. I immediately looked around to see where Paul was as I was sure he'd be behind it. But I accused him unfairly as he was wandering around the Lincolnshire Show. So upon further investigation there was a crow on my roof, picking off clumps of moss and throwing them. I wish someone would just tell me why!

We've also had the most amazing storms again. Rain lashing so violently against that same conservatory roof that I wondered if it could fall in. It was pitch black outside but the lightning lit up the street like it was daylight. The thunder seems reluctant to leave, it was back again tonight with the same incredible rain.
I have use of my arm again following my escapade down the stairs on Monday. Changing gear whilst driving? Holy crap that hurt. Today I can drive without cursing... quite the improvement. And much more pleasant for other road users too. As an added bonus, I might be able to even turn over in bed. I don't know what it says about your life, when you look forward to moments such as this...
Oh and.... no critter corpses on the path. Result!

I've decided that there are two New Years. The official one, which you may have noted previously, immediately following Christmas. The second one comes at your birthday. It's a whole new year for you, so why don't you get to have a second chance at resolutions?

So, I hereby resolve to pump up the tyres on my bike and attempt to ascertain if I can get to the corner of the road without turning puce and passing out from the exertion. I don't really like cycling, I'm not built for it, but I would rather like to be able to wear some of my lovely clothes again that are too snug currently.

I also resolve to get a new tattoo. I think all lists of resolutions should include a resolution which you actually want to do. That way you get to feel like you've achieved something, even if you were going to do it anyway.

I don't drink or smoke, so my vice would be American Crime Drama. I just can't give it up, that's crazy talk.

So maybe my resolutions are a work in progress.

18 Jun 2007 My Little Pony

Was relaying this story yesterday and the memory of it tickled me. So I had to share it.

In years gone by I used to be a nanny. I know, with my track record, someone entrusted their children to me. At one point I was caring for four children all under ten, two of whom were my niece and nephew. Chloe, my niece, liked My Little Pony and had a few, one of which you could wind up somehow and when you'd wound it fully, its tail would spin round and round (just like real ponies, obviously). Now, you may not know this, but the hair on a my little pony is really soft and feels lovely against your skin. Without much forethought I wound up the Little Pony and released the tail to waft against my cheek. For a moment it felt very nice. Then I felt the spinning tail start to tangle in my hair, within a moment my hair and the tail of the pony were as one. I was the only adult in the house and I was also the only one with a My Little Pony firmly attached to my scalp. I actually don't completely recall how the Pony was removed, although I think my sister and scissors were probably involved.

They let me live alone, without you know, supervision or anything. It's amazing really isn't it?

18 June 2007 Racing Ducks

Saturday was the day of the Annual Dunston Duck Races. The road is closed and the village green filled with stalls and traditional games. You bet on your duck and they are released into the beck. 50 yellow plastic ducks start to bounce along the (not very) fast flowing current, whilst navigating around the obstacles in their way. Terribly exciting as you can imagine, but most of all, a whole lot of fun! Of the wholesome variety and there's not much of that around these days.

Fell down some steps today and am feeling mighty sore. As I began to walk down I saw the wet leaf mulch and thought about how slippy it looked so was stepping very gingerly in my gripless flip-flops when the mulch got the better of me and sent me flying. Luckily I have a considerable amount of padding to my rear and felt fine but as the day wore on I got sorer and sorer. Turns out I've given myself a sort of whiplash. Honestly, I'm incapable of leaving the house without it resulting in some sort of injury.

Grumps for today:

1. Drivers that fail to indicate, over and over. They're always in front of me, leaving me to play a guessing game at every junction. I mean what's so hard about indicating?

2. Drivers that don't turn on their lights when it's raining so heavily it's hard to tell if you've accidentally driven into the river. But along they go suddenly appearing from nowhere in the heavy rain, apparently oblivious to the fact they're completely invisible.

3. Drivers that park in disabled spots when their only handicap is idleness. To me it's just bad karma. I'm lucky enough to not need to park in a disabled spot and those that are so lazy to park there just seem to be saying to the Universe "Please give me a valid reason to be able to park here. Take away my lazy able body and replace it with something disabled."

15 Jun 2007 Events Of Today

Things you don't expect to hear a parent say: "I do wish you'd get a tattoo in your lower regions so I won't have to know about it". Cheers Dad! All because he doesn't want me to have another tattoo. I have three tiny ones. I'm not like circus freak tattooed or anything!

Words of genius I have uttered today: Driving home from the supermarket, I get to my house, "Well! Some cheeky bastard has parked in my spot! Oh wait, no, that's me, it's my car." I may have temporarily forgotten I was driving my Mum's car.

Dead critters. So, the decapitated pigeon chick has been removed. In its place now lies what looks like either the fattest mouse I've ever seen or a baby rat. What is it with critter corpses laying right where I want to walk? Although, at least now I am sans cat flap I no longer have them laying on my landing. Bless Mifford, I think the first thing she caught was a massive slug. I'm not sure there's anything that moves much slower. I think she was out of practice. However I was particularly grateful she left it to die on the landing, because cleaning up the slug slime really was one of the highlights of my life.

Purchases of today. Funky new pants. With cow print to the rear, and a cows face to the front with the word 'Lazy' above. I wanted the ones that said 'Easy Tiger' with pink and black tiger print too, but they were only in skinny minny sizes, it's a cruel world. I also have a funky top, it's a little in your face and bright.. excellent! Mum disapproves of the potential for bra strap exposure, but I care little for such things!

13 Jun 2007 Seasons

The sun is brilliant today, shining down gloriously. The roadsides are a riot of colour, the poppy heads are facing skywards and loving every second of attention bestowed on them by an affectionate sun. Their red faces joined by waves of whites of cow parsley and yellows of rape which have escaped the confines of their field.

I always struggle to find a favourite season, as I drove today I thought about how much I love summer, when the flowers are blooming this way, when the skies are blue and the clouds look like something you could wrap yourself up in.

But then there's Autumn with the incredible beauty of the leaves of the trees as they sprinkle themselves like confetti to the ground with every breeze. Their colours of russet, yellow, vermillion and all the shades inbetween. I like how the evenings are cooler, knowing soon I can bring logs in and have fires in the hearth.

Winter comes around with its icy fingers and warm jumpers. With beautiful frosts that coat everything in a sparkling sheen like finely crushed diamonds. Opening my curtains every morning and hoping to see that covering of white that makes everything seem so pure, changing the look of the world. Wanting to be the first footsteps in that blanket of snow. Hoping it will be deep enough to for sledging, for rosy cheeks and frosty breath.

Soon Spring starts to emerge, snowdrops pushing their way through the frozen ground and their white heads bouncing in the chill air. I find myself eagerly awaiting the arrival of the daffodils and this feels like New Year to me. This is where the cycle starts to move all over again. This is when life begins and where life is renewed.

12 Jun 2007 Crime

So, the village I live in has a crime rate of zero. Well almost zero, there was the year when my mother's hanging basket was stolen. And last Christmas someone stole a handful of fairy lights.

But, across the road from me there has been a murder. A headless chick lays on the pavement. It's a huge chick too, must be a pigeon. But what eats just the head? There are squirrels in the village close by, but I thought they were just into acorns. Maybe a pigeon chicks head resembles an acorn and they were confused.

But frankly I'd really rather it wasn't laying right where I have to walk. I'm not good with dead creatures, but if it had a head I might be able to move it. Who am I kidding? I'd still squeal like a baby.
Many moons ago, before I moved to this village, I lived in a flat and it was rather a menagerie. Amongst the animals I had were my cats, Smudge & Lightning and a gerbil, Jeremy Splodge. I went out one evening and when I came home I decided to head straight for bed, but the lightbulb had blown so I made my way, in the dark, to the bedside lamp. Suddenly, I felt something soft and a little squishy under foot. I couldn't make it out in the gloom so bent down and proceeded to squeal hysterically. It would seem that Jeremy Splodge had made a dash for freedom and Smudge and Lightning had seen fit to bring that escape bid to a swift end. I had discovered his little body with my bare foot. I think that may be one of the most unpleasant moments of my life.
I spent the night sleeping on the sofa, until my Mum came the next day to take care of poor Jeremy.
Who'd have thought that Houdini gerbils and cats would make such a bad combination?!

Anyway, if anyone would like to pop over and remove the decapitated chick, I'd really appreciate it.

11 Jun 2007 Jumpy

In an effort to be good and productive, I dragged myself out of bed at an early hour, headed out to the barn. As I was about to round the sharp bend just outside my village a duck and her ducklings decided this would be an opportune moment to cross. Well apparently my brakes are more efficient than I imagined.

Just yesterday I was commenting on the fact that I haven't seen any hares around the barn for a while, because the surrounding crops have grown up so they hide inside them very nicely. So this morning as I drove down the track to the barn one such hare decided to come out of hiding, and run down the road directly in front of me. It's like some kind of animal suicide day or something.

So, home from the barn, I log on, figure I'll pick up and sort out my emails and orders before heading out. After about two minutes, no more phone line. It took three months to get a working phone line on at this house, that lasted about a week before it died again. It's been working for a few months now so I guess I was about due for it to die again. I spent years working on 151 for my sins and so before calling did all of the tests I knew they'd tell me to do. "It's showing that there's a fault with your equipment, the line is fine" says Ms BT lady. Interesting as I had no equipment connected. After the obligatory threats of charging me, an engineer was summoned. With a promise he would arrive between 10.30 & 12.30. At 1.30 I'd lost the will and he still hadn't arrived. I found myself wishing I hadn't done the housework on the weekend. Nothing needed cleaning, I watched tv - it was dull, I read - my coccyx complained. So I made bread. I'm wondering if this is a sign of extreme boredom when you're driven to baking, damn it smells good though!

Anyway, the BT man came, I warned him my line was difficult and would likely cause problems and be tough to fix. He nodded, but with a look that said, you have no idea what you're talking about little lady. Some time later he returned and proclaimed the fixing of my line to be an absolute nightmare. I felt a little smug, but was good and just comiserated. Then ran like hell up the stairs to get back online. I printed off all my orders and wheel spun my way to the barn for the fastest pack and dispatch ever seen by human kind.

And, I must take this moment to thank the pheasant that hid in the long grass by the barn door. Because really, jumping out and running at me didn't scare me at all, and I didn't scream or anything. Actually, no one can hear you scream at the barn. Which is a little unnerving, especially considering the dream I had about being attacked by a big cat on the stairs in the barn.

So, after the swiftest ever book packing I set off for the post office. Now, I don't know if it was the same hare or not but if not, then they're in cahoots. Or they're all having a bad day and feeling a suicidal twinge. Upon swerving to miss the aforementioned hare, two larks sprang up from the verge. I've never seen a lark that close, but then, they're not usually virtually pressed up against my window. Shockingly, not a single partridge or rabbit tempted fate today but that said, the following statistics are quite impressive. I should do evasive driving or something.

Close Calls: 5

Animals trapped beneath my wheels: 0

10 Jun 2007 Decency

I was watching City Slickers the other day and found myself thinking about the 'One Thing' that Curly spoke about. It might be a schmaltzy Hollywood movie but most of us have one thing that means something to us.

For me, it's decency.

Behaving in a way I can be proud of, being a decent human being. I feel that's all you can be. I might live in a world of clichés but I really do believe that you should do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. I'm not religious but I still put a lot of stock in that phrase. I also believe that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. I'm a stickler for being polite!

I spend time looking at the videos on myspace & youtube and I notice that within the comments insults are cast with wild abandon. When did it become so cool to be so mean? When did it become acceptable to carry on the playground name-calling into the adult world? I don't understand the total lack of consideration for another's feelings. Insults appear to have become entertaining. The world of reality television seems to revolve around them.
I'm not perfect in any way, shape or form but how hard is it to have respect for one another? How hard is it to ask how someone is doing and be interested in the answer? There's a growing sense of egotism in the world, people are less interested in one another and it pains me. So many conversations are all me, me, me. We all need to talk about what's going on in our lives; we all need someone to listen sometimes. But it's not a one-way street, at least it shouldn't be. Maybe I'm a little idealistic, but rather that than the alternative.

07 Jun 2007 Alton Towers 2

I forgot to say:

Dear Member of Staff on Hex,
The entrance to Hex is dark and more than a little spooky with its tales of curses and death. With its creaky doors, wind machines and scary crones appearing at windows. My eyes barely managing to see my way through, especially as I was first in the queue and therefore had no one to follow or show me the way. So, as I entered the final room with the ride and began to move towards a seat, jumping out from behind the wall with a roar really was quite evil. Although, my ear splitting scream, followed by my assertion that you were a son of a bitch, may have been a little unfair. But to your credit, you did provide entertainment for my friends, and they seemed truly grateful.

I have been making fun of Kim about the time she thought it was a waxwork standing by the entrance to the ghost train, but when he leapt towards her shouting 'boooo' she established he was in fact a real person and greeted this discovery with an equally ear-splitting scream of her own. I feel I have now received my come-uppance for my teasing of Kim. So thank you Mr Member of Staff on Hex.

Yours jumpily,

P.S. Please don't ever jump out on me again, you really scared me to death, damn it.

07 June 2007 Alton Towers

Roused myself from bed at what felt like dawn but was actually a while after and shuffled myself through the shower and into clothes. Then dashed down the road to feed a friend's cats and was accosted by The Orphaned Duck Alliance.

So finally after feeding all the mouths presenting themselves to me, I got on the open road to collect Rachael so that we could go and join Kim & Mark and set off for the jolly times awaiting us at Alton Towers.
Journey was mostly spent counting down the miles the sat nav was showing, desperate for it to get below 50, below 40, below 30... then how far to Maccy D's for our annual mcmuffin breakfast. I can count on one finger the amount of times I've now been to the golden arches this year, but I do love an egg mcmuffin and orange juice.

So, a short while later, through winding country roads, narrow bridges, JCB sculptures and excited fidgeting we arrived at the hallowed gates of Alton Towers. After parking obediently the monorail awaited us. Kim always feels a little cheated if we don't get to ride the monorail. Tickets bought, maps explored and a decision to hit the water rides. Katanga Canyon was our destination. We climbed into a giant bath tub to sail around the flume, slid down the first drop and a wave of water sailed over the front of the tub. We'd been there just minutes and Mark was soaked through. Kim and I chuckled heartily having only been mildly splashed. Another drop and more saturation. Then the final drop, readying ourselves to pose for the camera and then the final surge of water which only Kim managed to virtually avoid. Although I considerately shook my wet head to ensure she didn't miss out on being splashed a little.
Off to the Rapids to complete our work on becoming drowned rats. It was running pretty damn fast and we fairly whipped around, and the water shot up over us, and in my case down the back of my jeans. Possibly not the pleasantest sensation of the day. And whilst the rest of us dripped away, Kim still remained relatively dry, with the exception of wet patch to the bottom, which obviously entertained me as I have a puerile sense of humour.

In an effort to dry off a little we headed to the Runaway Mine Train, which I have a strong affection for. It's good old fashioned fun. And if you ride it twice, consecutively, it's brilliant! If you ride it thrice, consecutively, you ponder if you might be re-examining your lunch. So, all aboard the train, much screaming and shouting of 'Faster' later we disembarked, not a whole lot drier but with grins to rival the Cheshire Cat.

We strolled off to shoot some bogeymen in Duel. I don't mind the Ghost Train now, I'm so busy trying to shoot at the green lights with my laser that I forget about all the spooky stuff going on around me. There are photos from many moons ago that show I really find the ghost train a white knuckle ride. What? I'm a wimp! I know it!
But... I'll happily climb aboard Nemesis and throw myself around a few loop de loops and scream myself hoarse. I love Nemesis, but I'm greedy and I always wish it went round twice. Once is just never enough. We poddled off to Air which was, as is frequently the case, broken down. I suggested that maybe Mark would like to ride Ripsaw, but after that once he rode it, he seems strangely determined never to again. And to be fair, even the Sultan of Brunei doesn't have enough funds to persuade to ride that crazy contraption. So, we tried out the tester seat for Air.

Kim likes to flout the no eating and drinking whilst aboard rules apparently. I had to test the seat too. Being somewhat blessed in the area of the chest and a little lardy to boot I am paranoid they're going to ask me to please step aside to let someone thinner have a go. So, upon Air being repaired, we hopped on. Sans Rachael as her stomach was in recovery after Nemesis. I was not asked to step aside, but I was partially crushed by the man checking the seats. Apparently it was possible to get the restraint one notch tighter - my need to breathe was apparently a little irrelevant. But to be fair, whilst dangling face first towards the ground, I like to be secure as I 'fly' through the air... basically so that I don't literally fly off on my own.

We decided to hitch a ride on the Skyride back to main entrance to our regular haunt for lunch. But alas and alack, twas out of order, we were forced to ... walk! And it was actually really nice. A huge plate of food later and we decided the best option would be to fling ourselves around on Spinball Whizzer. Genius. Kim insisted she'd never ridden it before, the rest of us remember riding it before. I remember her hating it, but being the kind friend I am, I didn't remind her of that. So we rode, were flung this way and that, up and down, round and round. Really very similar to a ball in the pinball machine it's supposed to emulate. I love this ride, even on a full stomach! As we got off, Kim again expressed the fact she disliked the ride, so I decided this might be the opportune moment to admit she'd hated it before too.

We found a little playground area, I hopped aboard a spinning thing... demonstrated by Mark below and within seconds was pleading for someone to make it stop.

Mark on the other hand looks pretty damn cool whilst spinning at speed!
We then sauntered in the direction of Hex, which I really like, even though I know my brain is being fooled and each time I ride it I want my brain to realise that I'm not actually hanging upside down and that I've actually barely moved, but each time does my poor little brain want to have a mini-meltdown trying to figure out the logistics of it.

At last we were heading towards Rita, which I also love, it's so smooth and fast. And the build up as the top five red lights turn on one by one, then as the five bottom lights turn green you're off rocketing from 0-100 in 2.5 seconds. The force is so great you're lifted completely out of your seat in the bends and as you whip up and down the track screaming all the while. I could happily ride Rita again and again! However, I will not set foot on the Corkscrew. Last time Kim said that it hurt too much to ride, Rachael and I were a little confused so off we went to ride it. It really does hurt too much to ride. You're bashed from side to side and it's really unpleasant after the relative comfort of Rita. The sooner the Corkscrew goes and something new and improved lands in its place, the better for me.
I can't ride Oblivion either. I find it painful too, but in a whole different way. The G force pressure on my chest is so great it feels like bones might snap and even though it's only for a matter of a few seconds the sensation of being completely unable to breathe is horrible.

We bought a set of five pics and had used four so we busily tried to decide where to have our last photo taken and eventually decided to head back to the Runaway Mine Train as none of us wanted to ride home soaked through! So off we trotted and climbed aboard once more, as we were about to set off they said if we did 'Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes' all the way round we'd get an extra run round the track. So off we went, Kim bellowing along in the seat behind me, with us four all doing the movements, as we pulled into the station most of the rest of the train joined in and off we set for our second run, on our next entry into the station, we four were still going (we're a little mental) and I screamed "JOIN IN" to the carriages in front... and they kindly obliged. So off we went for a third and final lap.

Finally a last attempt to kill off some more zombies in Duel, then we wandered through the Haunted Hollow with fellows like this for company:

We also came across this lovely lassie and I wonder if this in not unlike how I would look if I were to catch sight of a Gorgon:

She definitely has the bosom!
Then, off to collect our collection of photos from the day, to the monorail and home. I had the best day. Absolutely superb, with really wonderful company and I can't stop smiling! Thanks everyone, I love you lots!

05 Jun 2007 Travel

So, I think I've done a reasonable amount of travelling in my life but I feel like I need to aim for more... this is a long and rambling one. From me... shocking I know.

* France - which I love dearly. I really thought I could live there quite happily. After all they have an amazing pastry selection and anyone who has known me for a while will know about my obsession for French Sirop. Lemon, Lime & Cactus squash? It just rocks! Anyway, after my last trip there I was forced to remember that the French and vegetarianism just don't go hand in hand. And you know, the only thing I find myself missing sporadically in my vegetarian state? Mussels. Weird.
We spent many family holidays in France and I had a school trip or two. We still talk about the time the coach was emptied for a toilet break and when we'd returned to the coach, it started to set off. I desperately tried to get the attention of Ms Pajtra but was shouted at for disturbing her headcount. She finally shrieked that someone was missing, so I piped up that I'd been trying to tell her just that. We all spun round to see Lynn sprinting along behind the bus waving frantically.

* Germany. I've only been to Germany once, on a school exchange and it was miserable. Mostly down to the family I stayed with rather than the country. The mother of the family made the packed lunches for the day and got her daughter, who was the same age as me, to take care of it for me. Although I'm not sure she understood that as she translated it as, share Stephanie's lunch freely amongst your friends. Strangely she and I didn't keep in touch. Funny that. My favourite memory from that trip was the whole troop of us going off in a bus to look at some old monument and we traipsed up the hill, mounted the stairs to this big round stone building. Slap bang in the middle of the floor was a couple who had obviously intended a romantic interlude in the open air. So there they laid, naked beneath a sleeping bag whilst a hoard of teenagers crowded around them and the teachers steadfastly related the history of the building and area. I'm sure they thought if they pretended the amorous couple didn't exist the unruly teenagers would stop giggling and pay attention. Alas, how wrong they were.

* Spain. Four of us went to Torrevieja, an hour or so down the coast from Alicante. We stayed in a house that my Mum and Stepdad had back then. We arrived in the middle of the night and the next morning we got up and properly explored. Barefoot, we all ran up to the roof terrace and in an instant learnt that terracotta tiles collect an inordinate amount of heat. Ever seen those funky lizards who alternate feet because the sand gets so hot? They had nothing on us.
On our penultimate day there we drove South and had a day wandering round an old town. As we went back to the car there were two people hanging around and we noticed a window was smashed. They insisted they had scared off the people that had done it. I remain suspicious. And you know what got stolen? The eject button from the casette player. Then the police came, we got a police motorcycle escort to the police station. At this juncture it became obvious that not speaking Spanish in Spain might be an issue. We Brits can be a little arrogant and assume that everyone will speak English. But not in that police station. And not only that, not one of us could remember the address of the house. I'm sure we never looked more like idiotic foreigners.

* Russia. I went to Russia on another school exchange. But luckily this one was the exact opposite of my German experience. I stayed with Julia and her mother Valia and I felt like part of an adopted family. Julia and I still have sporadic email contact and she's really one of the most wonderful people I've had the pleasure to know in my life. Her mother was so generous and kind that it blew my mind. That trip taught me a lot about life and what I took for granted at home. The queue for MacDonalds was just mind boggling - as were the prices for a burger. I saw Lenin. It was like a Tussaud's waxwork and very surreal. St Basils took my breath away, the walls inside all handpainted with intricate designs that were aged and flaky. They have amazing ice cream in Moscow. That was something I hadn't anticipated. Nor was the heat... I'd figured on snow. There were so many things I loved about that trip. I hoped beyond hope that Customs wouldn't let us leave. I could have stayed.
My grandfather, Pop, was fluent in Russian and had travelled extensively over the old USSR and had been editor of a newspaper that was published both in England and Russia. As I left for Russia he had been taken ill. I bought him piles of Russian newspapers to read but by the time I returned home, his leukaemia had claimed him. I've always been sorry that we never got to share Russian stories.

* Texas. I spent Christmas 1999 & 2000 in Texas as my Stepdad had been posted out there. My mother and younger sister had also moved out there so to save a Christmas alone I headed out on my first trans-atlantic flight. On the way out I had a terrible cold and cough and found myself profusely apologising to the poor woman in the seat next to me who was forced to listen to my snivelling and barking. She was on her way to get married, wedding dress safely packaged in the hold. Or so she thought, at baggage claim it turns out they'd lost it. Can you imagine?
It was so strange being able to have barbecues on Christmas Eve. I wanted to step outside and see my breath form clouds in front of my face, to have to wear mittens, to at least have a chance of a white Christmas. But, I loved the Christmas lights there, I loved being part of a train of cars as we toured the neighbourhood looking at all the decorations. The decorate the trunks of the tree there, not the branches. They giftwrap their front doors. Imagine the soggy mess if we tried that here!
I liked driving down the road and seeing the vultures and caracaras sitting atop the telegraph poles. Seeing armadilloes do their funky run across fields. The nature was so vastly different from our own and I loved it. I'm rather a twitcher so seeing vermillion flycatchers and cardinals just took my breath away.
I also got the chance to go over the Rio Grande and into Mexico while I was in Texas. It wasn't at all how I'd imagined it. But it was real Mexico, not tourist Mexico and it was a little scary.

* Ireland. I'd always wanted to go to Dublin, so planned a trip for my 30th. Unfortunately I had been born at a truly inconvenient time and I clashed with some big event over there. So we went to Cork and I loved it. I'm quite a homebird and nowhere feels quite like home but I felt at home there. The only thing a little scary about Cork is crossing with the green man. We all teach our kids to wait for the green man at crossings and then it's safe to step out. Not in Cork. Green man means that cars may or may not stop. Stepping into the road when the green man appears is a scary gamble.
We travelled down to Cobh, last port of call for the Titanic which is amazing to imagine. There are passenger lists of everyone that boarded there. It really makes you spend a lot of time deep in thought thinking about those people, stepping onto a supposedly unsinkable ship. We laid on the green as a live jazz band played and the sun shone on us and I felt blessed with the cool grass beneath me.

* Scotland. Spent New Years in Glasgow with Rachael a fair few moons ago. I remember driving up there and getting to a horizon filled with wind turbines backlit by a setting sun and I thought they were so architecturally beautiful. I failed to see any reason why people could object to them for aesthetical reasons. I met my friend John and his partner Pamela whilst I was up there. John has the dubious honour of being my oldest online friend, dating back to 1996 and it was so great to finally get to chat in the real world after it all being virtual for so long!

Now I need a list of places I want to visit, it's a short list so far and I'm sure I just need more places recommending to me.

So here's my list:
* Orkney - my older sister moved here and I've always wanted to be able to go and explore the islands.

* San Francisco - Years ago I watched Tales of the City on tv and desperately wanted to be Mona. With the exception of the lesbian part. I then read all of the books in that series and fell in love with all of Armistead Maupin's characters and just desperately wanted to travel on the streets that all of those events were set. That desire has never died and I still dream of visiting one day.

* Alaska - There's a theme here. I watched Northern Exposure on tv and was absolutely hooked by it. I loved how eccentric the characters were and I could just imagine living in Cicely. I read somewhere that the uncredited main character of the show was the scenery and I don't think there was an episode where it didn't take my breath away. I found myself wanting to experience those mountains, lakes and crisp skies first hand.

Where should I add to the list?

03 Jun 2007 Nails

Once upon a time I had a nail technician, a wonderful lady called Anna. I spent many hours sitting in a chair having my nails attended to. Sometimes three to four hours in one session so that they'd look like this:

Admittedly the first one was just for Halloween and after poking one of those in my eye I realised I needed a less extreme length of nail!

I really, really miss having my nails attended to like this, but rather strangely I also don't. I'm such a dichotomy.
I've just spent the morning working away in the garden, re-potting plants, transplanting some of my veg and other such mundane things. I loved getting my hands dirty, getting right in there and getting the muck under my nails. That would have been an abhorrent thought to me back in the day of my lovely nail tech. I didn't do anything without gloves.

I thought I was missing out by not having my nails done any more, but I think other things more than make up for it. Going to the garden and it being full of plants I've put into the soil with my bare hands, washing the dirt off carrots that are fresh from the garden without wearing giant rubber gloves.

Truth be told, if Anna came out of retirement I'd sell a kidney to have her do my nails again. Oh, to have a full set of tips with an airbrushed finish and maybe have one pierced. Then a few weeks after that swap to a silk wrap as my own grew up, then swap to nailtiques. Ah see, it sounds like gobbledegook but I loved that! Damn I had good nails!

02 Jun 2007 What A Beautiful Day

It's a truly glorious day out there and I feel so good. I got up at what felt like the crack of dawn and it looked a little grey, but as I eased myself into the day with a leisurely shower and a decision to be scruffy, the sun showed his face. I think he approves of the scruffy look and he definitely has his hat on. So decked out in my grass-stained jeans from mowing the lawn yesterday I headed to the barn, wrapped up all my books and was at the post office in amazing time. Then off to borrow shears in order to address the situation that is my lawn. The mower polished most of it off, but some of it is well… out of control. Then off to Dad's to hand over rambling books and to pull wallpaper from the walls. I'm feeling so industrious! Finally lunch with Kim, which was great, as I haven't seen her in ages and wanted to sort her out with a birthday present.

Driving home down the back roads with the sun roof open and the back windows rolled all the way down. Not the front windows as they have a habit of dropping inside the door and somehow making the door pop open. The skies were blue with just a handful of cotton wool clouds scattered. The volume of the music crept up and up until I couldn't hear myself singing along – which, with my voice, can only be a good thing. Pheasants with their red masks sat proudly on the verges and the occasional partridge tempted fate running down the centre of the road.
Now it's out to the garden to be even more industrious with the shears.

It really IS a beautiful day.

So… it's really, really hot out there but the shearing is done…
And another lesson has been learnt for today – when preparing the liquid feed for your tomatoes, before following the instructions which read: Shake Well, make sure you have remembered to fasten the lid. If you fail to do this, you are likely to be showered with stinky brown organic liquid manure and the resulting giggles could lead to rib fractures (and a gorgeous snorting noise – hypothetically of course.)

01 Jun 2007 Lessons...

…I have learnt today
If you walk through a doorway whilst opening a stepladder, you will most likely end up being smacked in the face by said stepladder. And when this happens, you will not need to apply any kind of lip plumping product, as the force of the impact will give you a beautifully swollen mouth. Obviously, there's an associated risk of loosening or losing teeth. Luckily all of my teeth are still in place.

If you leave it long enough without mowing the lawn, space hoppers will magically appear. In my case a bright blue one that has more than a passing resemblance to a bloated smurf.
Phone box glass is much harder to smash than you might imagine. When two children are trapped in said phone box and those around you are trying their best to break into it this is not a great lesson to learn.

31 May 2007 Stormy

A grey marl blanket is thrown across the arch of the sky, heavy with water waiting to be wrung out. Thunder explodes from inside the depths of the grey. It claps its enormous hands together with a power that rattles the glass in the window frames. Lightning spears from the sky, forking its way towards the ground, slicing through the blanket. Tiny raindrops fall, leading the way for their larger cousins. They land, round wet circles on the ground. Faster and faster the drops come from the sky as the clouds are slowly squeezed of their load. Round wet circles become puddles become pools and turn roads into rivers and lakes. Puddles seeping into jeans that are too long.

31 May 2007 Quote II

Lie beside me. Let me see the division of your pores. Let me see the web of scars made my your family's claws and you their furniture. Let me see the wounds that they denied. The battleground of family life that has been your body. Let me see the bruised red lines that signal their encampment. Let me see the routed place where they are gone. Lie beside me and let the seeing be the healing. No need to hide. No need for either darkness or light. Let me see you as you are.
- Jeanette Winterson.

This is the kind of writing that just takes my breath away. Those words have always stayed with me since I first read them years ago. Jeanette Winterson is easily one of my favourite authors. She writes books that require you to read and pay attention, it's not an easy Mills & Boon affair. And I love that.
This is such a powerful paragraph and for me, a truly great expression of love without that word ever needing to be uttered.

It reminds me of a scene towards the end of the movie Secretary, which is also one of my favourite movies and very close to my heart. It's such an incredibly powerful movie with a deep current running through it. There are topics I've never seen handled by Hollywood before and that blew my mind. It was just so brilliantly done. And the Jeanette Winterson quote encapsulates for me the relationship in that movie.

29 May 2007 Loving Ivy

When I spent my time in hospital I was lucky enough to share space with Ivy. She had the bed next to me at the end of the ward. I'd been shuffled round half a dozen wards in the hospital and finally ended up in that bed next to Ivy where I remained until I was eventually discharged.

When I arrived, the menu for my bed was missing so my sister, Siobhan, asked Ivy if we could borrow hers. It was then we realised that Ivy was stone deaf. Siobhan's requests for the menu grew steadily louder until I suspect she was out of the usual range for decibels.

The next day as I sat in my bed, the nurses came to Ivy after she'd rung her bell for attention. They spoke briefly to her and went away again. After a few moments I heard Ivy softly crying. I sat for a moment, not sure what to do, what's the etiquette for something like that? I pondered briefly then I went to her. I sat, held her hand and smiled gently whilst stroking the back of her hand. You can feel so alone in hospital and sometimes you just need to know that someone cares. I sat with her until the nurses returned and imagined how it must be to be stuck in bed and unable to get out on your own.

From that day on Ivy and I were firm friends. I'd never have thought it was possible to grow that close to someone so quickly but she became someone I was fiercely protective of. Her care in that hospital was abysmal and I felt responsible for her somehow. We'd sit together, she'd talk, I'd bellow and I'd learn about her life. She was 96 years old, more than triple my years. Prior to coming into hospital she'd been mobile and independent. She was still strong willed and great fun.

Ivy had been nil by mouth for weeks and existed on her drip feed. She had a tube coming from her nose; which was kept in place with a huge plaster. She called it her parrot's beak and she hated it. She'd flick at it to make it twang and chuckle away to herself. Her mouth would grow dry from the lack of fluids, so they'd bring her a mouthwash, but they'd leave it just out of reach. So there it would sit taunting her. I found myself on watch, always making sure she had what she needed.

Over the weeks she'd lost weight and her dentures no longer stayed put. Ivy would put her dentures in, turn to me and go 'rarrrrrrrrr' whilst the dentures slopped up and down in her mouth. Every time she did so I'd absolutely collapse into fits of giggles. I asked my Mum to bring me some denture fixative. No more sloppy dentures for Ivy, no more fits of giggles for me! It frustrated and disappointed me that the nursing staff didn't do this for her. They'd turf her out of bed in the morning, before 8am and sit her in the chair next to the bed and they'd leave her there. Never once moving her, never once making sure she was comfortable. There she'd stay till 10pm some days. I'd try to make sure her feet were up if she wanted them up or down if she wanted them down, it was all I could do. We must have looked a sight. The pair of us with our drip stands and me happy as Larry on a diet of morphine attempting to move legs and feet without catching our various tubing!

I'd make sure that her soft white hair was brushed, that her toenails were painted, that her glasses were clean. She'd always say, "Daphne, you'd make a wonderful nurse". No matter how many times I told her my name was Stephanie, to her I was Daphne, and that was just fine.

Her family lived a fair distance away and when you're 96 your kids are less sprightly. Her daughter was in her 70s, her grandchildren in their 50's and her great-grandchildren in their 30's. It boggled my mind to imagine that.

Her hands and feet swelled and eventually they had to remove her wedding ring, they cut it from her finger. I sat with her and she told me she hadn't taken that ring off in 70 years. That broke my heart. She'd been without her husband for two decades. I still can't quite get my head round that either.

Ivy was so sad so much of the time, she'd tell me how she didn't expect the end to be like this. She wished that sometimes the nurses would just pay her a little attention. She'd say she didn't want much, but just a few minutes. She'd sit in that chair at night and beg to be able to go to bed. She'd press her bell because she was feeling ill and they'd take so long to come to her. I'd sit with her, hold her hand, stroke her hair and feel helpless.

She looked so brilliant with the big headphones on her head at a jaunty angle – I still have no idea if she could even hear anything, despite it being on the highest volume the poor television could muster.
I wanted to do everything I could for her but it still wasn't ever enough to make up for how terribly unhappy she was.

I'd been told I could go home, I got myself dressed and was looking forward to leaving the bed that had been home. I sat and waited, Mum came and we waited some more. Ivy's family came to visit. Then the doctors came. "Sorry but your amylase levels are still too high, you're staying". Ivy's family relayed this to Ivy and the hugest grin spread over her face as she declared she was mightily pleased. I rolled my eyes, grinned and shouted "Cheers mate!"

A couple of days later I was finally discharged, I hugged Ivy, kissed her on her cheek and said I'd be back to visit. Later that week, I went to see her, snuck up to the end of her bed and stood there, she was just staring down, looking at nothing. I just watched her, smiling and eventually she raised her eyes, saw me and just grinned immediately. I don't think she really expected I'd come back. We sat together, we bellowed a conversation, I held her hand while they dug around in her veins for blood and I promised I'd be back again.

The next time I saw her was after Christmas, she'd been moved into her own room and one of the nurses on that ward had actually been keeping an eye on her and had taken the time to wash and brush her hair. Ivy told me that the nurses had given her a message that someone called Stephanie had rung to see how she was and she didn't know who that was and why hadn't they just said Daphne?! I told her that she had to hurry up and get well as snow was forecast and I wanted her to come sledging with me, she batted me away whilst rolling her eyes and chuckling. Her family were visiting too so I didn't want to stay and interrupt their time with her.

A short while after that I rang the ward to see how she was doing. There was a deafening silence and then the nurse asked if I'd spoken to the family. My stomach sank and a wave of nausea rolled through me as she told me that Ivy had gone. My Ivy had died.
I had no way of contacting her family, I missed her funeral, but most of all I missed her. I wished I'd spent more time visiting. I wished so many things.
Ivy, you were one of my most special friends and I miss you dearly. And thank you.

28 May 2007 Facets

I've been thinking about the multitude of facets that we all have. So many different sides and I wonder how many of them are public? How many are reserved for the ones closest to us and how many reserved for the one person we are closest to. But, do we have sides that are never shown to anyone? That we keep buried?

We all exhibit that public persona, that smile covered face that the world sees, no matter what's going on inside. The side that always answers 'Fine thanks, you?' when the obligatory 'How are you?' is cast in your direction.

We all have a good and a bad side. But it's not that simple. Not so black and white. Our whole lives really are varieties of shades of grey. How good we are, how selfish, how kind, how generous, how decent, how cruel.

Most of us want the world to believe that we're good and decent people. And I believe that a vast majority of people are intrinsically good. But we all have a dark side, elements of our psyche we'd rather the world didn't know. What moves us to keep these sides hidden? What are we afraid of? Is it possible to ever completely expose your inner workings?

Often we're afraid to show that we're hurt or disappointed, upset or angry. We carry so many worries about upsetting or offending someone. I don't like being called Steph, I prefer my full name, but I find it so difficult to tell people that – in case they're offended – which is ridiculous when I think about it.

We find it hard to say 'No' without explaining why we don't want to do something, the fact that we don't want to just doesn't seem to be enough. I remember an old episode of Friends when Phoebe is asked to help move furniture or something like, and she said; "I'd love to, but I don't want to". I loved that. The unabashed refusal.

It's the darker sides that we kept hidden. The depression that so many suffer and that is studiously kept out of sight. The secret desires that so many people carry. Our ability to be unkind and to hurt: whether deliberately or otherwise. How we judge people based on so many roaming factors, consciously or subconsciously. Addictions we're ashamed of. Thought processes we wouldn't want anyone to be able to read. A past we're scared to admit to.

We can't be human and not have a multitude of facets to a personality and I wonder if we need the secret ones to retain our identity. We all dream of a soul mate I'm sure, but do we actually want to share every single aspect of ourselves? If everything is out there, on view, what's left for you?

27 May 2007 Cheerier

It feels like a good day today. It's almost 12.30pm and I'm still in ridiculous flannel pyjamas and it's one of those days where I could just curl up on the sofa and watch movie after movie while the rain beats down on my conservatory roof. It feels like the day also needs an endless supply of hot chocolate with marshmallows. It's a cosy day.

Discovered a video on youtube of Harriet and I in the queue for tickets for the Cambridge Folk Festival which rather tickled me last night. Am very pleased that it's too swift a view for anyone to actually recognise me. Especially as the infamous shot of me in the highlights of one years festival makes it look as if I neglected to get dressed. Not a pretty sight. Just so you know, it was just a dodgy camera angle and the way I was standing.

I'm also strangely proud of myself for playing with html and I realise this makes me a geek. I have no idea at all how html works and I love it when I faff with it and it actually does what I intended (albeit very basic intentions.) How sad is it that I love I was able to add bullet points and links?

Spent all day yesterday with Harriet as she sold her vintage wares and found myself coveting corsetry and handbags. Oh how that vintage tempts me. So many beautiful things and so little funds in the bank!

It was a good day, rounded off with a great chat with a great friend all the way from another continent, which was really excellent and hugely enjoyable! Huge smiles all round!

It's raining outside, the skies are grey. I love the rain though, there's a real solitude to be found out walking in the rain. I love storms too, the cracks of thunder and the slashes of lightning. It's mesmerising to watch. I used to have an attic bedroom and I'd watch the skies, you could lay on the bed and just look straight up at sky heavy with rain, just before the clouds let loose and the downpour began. I love the powerful winds that come with a storm, when it whips your hair and your clothing around you. The overwhelming feeling that you could be lifted and carried off at any moment. It's invigorating, it fills me with life and reminds me of the respect the awesome power of Mother Nature deserves.

25 May 2007 Second

Ever have one of those days where it feels like a competition and you came second? Out of two? Well, it's been one of those days.

One of the roads to my wee village is just wide enough for two cars, providing you both pull over slightly towards the verge. Unfortunately areas of the edge of the road have pot holes and I had the misfortune to land in one today whilst trying not to hit the oncoming vehicle. After a short while there was a distinctly odd noise, which became louder and more frequent. There was a noticeable lilt to the left, so I pulled over to the side of the road and noticed either steam or smoke coming from the wheel and accompanied by a very bad smell. I felt this might not be a good thing. And you wouldn't believe it, but I was right, oh my was it flat. So, I crept home on it, I don't think I topped 5mph and was terrified I was completely screwing the wheel but didn't really know what else to do. It wasn't far, but by the time I got home some of the inside of the tyre was on the outside, and I'm not sure that's a good thing.

I've never changed a wheel before. I'm sure it's a simple enough procedure but I begged for assistance. So I am eternally grateful to Paul for showing me the way and for changing the shredded rubber.

It does make me wonder how those folks on the police car chase programs drive when their tyres are blown though. They make it look so easy. But maybe if I'd robbed a bank and was trying to evade capture I might have driven a little faster and tried a little harder - but then I guess I'd also have had the cash to get it repaired afterwards!

On a positive note, I decided that I deserved some Green & Black's chocolate - the butterscotch variety - and what a wise decision it truly was.

Later on, driving down the same road very, very carefully, I came upon a car, up on the verge, having its wheel changed by its occupants.
They must have come second today too.

24 May 2007 Quote I

I have a thing for quotes. I think it's because of my love of words and seeing how other people have put them together.
My current favourite (changeable daily):
"There are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a girls complexion."
- Holly Golightly

22 May 2007 Cold Noses And Cheeky Beaks

I thought it would be really cool to try and teach Mifford that if she presses her cute little feline nose to mine then she gets strokes. Unfortunately, it didn't occur to me that she might not understand the appropriate timing for such acts. So unless I am somehow able to teach her how to tell the time, I can see that I am going to be forever woken at 6am or some ungodly hour with a cold nose directly applied to mine... although she's discovered that a cold nose to the armpit creates a much faster awakening. I value my sleep, no, I love to sleep and this rude start to the morning is not entirely appreciated. Yet somehow she's still adorable.

As I was putting my recycling out this afternoon I spotted members of the The Orphaned Duck Alliance heading my way at speed. Honestly a running duck bears more than a passing resemblance to a weeble. Remember those? So I headed inside to grab some bread and went back and opened the front door, they all just came in. Uninvited. I know I missed them, but they never used to just let themselves in to the house before. They're ballsy critters for sure, hell, they've had to be and you can't help but admire them for it. Rather hilariously though, the step is a bit high for them and they don't really have wing feathers yet to steady their descent. You shouldn't laugh at such undignified exits... ah, but what the hell!

It's going to be a strange week this week, I feel it in my water. Duck invasions are certainly a strange experience for a Tuesday.
Although I'm reminded of someone who lived on a marina and forgot to close his french doors and woke up to find two swans settled comfortably downstairs. They're dangerous squatters those swans. Although personally I'm far more scared of Canada Geese, there's a glint in their eyes....

21 May 2007 Chaos

I hurt today. For entirely new reasons. Went to see the Levellers last night and twas mighty fine. I jumped up and down, I danced, I bounced, I bellowed along with all the words and I had a super time. However, it would seem that the muscles in my legs are out of practice. And quite how stomach muscles can hurt from dancing is something else entirely. I must have been busting some moves - or whatever it is the young folks call it.

But today I'm happy, I'm still in the process of ridding myself of the previous bug but I still feel good. I've run out of Buttercup Syrup and yet still the world has not come to an end.
It is rather a bonus that I no longer aurally resemble either Darth Vader or a bizarre frog/human cross-breed.

*** *** *** *** ***
So, I'm kind of a spiritual person, I hold some more obscure beliefs. I don't believe in God, but I do believe in faeries. I like to have photographs of where I live, for memories sake. So I can look back and remember all the things I got up to in that house. I worry about forgetting my youth! Anyway, whilst taking photos the other day, I got an image of an orb. I'm sure it's just a dust particle - thank you google - but it was kinda creepy seeing something ghostly right slap bang in the middle of my bed. I don't want to share my space with a spook!

18 May 2007 Self-Pity

Now, self-pity is not a particularly attractive trait, but I am currently feeling decidedly sorry for myself.

It's only a relatively minor bug, but I wish it would leave me alone. There's only so much streaming cold, hacking cough, cold sweats, headache, sore throat and painful chest that one lady can take you know! I feel like I've inhaled pepper, no one can possibly sneeze this much. I've sneezed so often that I've contemplated testing the theory that it's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open, but the other theory that your eyes will pop out if you do so rather deters me.
I've got a Darth Vader/Demented Frog thing going on with my voice. I'm not entirely sure it's possible to be more unattractive.
Oh and my ears itch, inside. How weird is that?

On the upside, I ran into The Orphaned Duck Alliance today, they're looking a little scruffy with their real feathers coming through. But they're feisty little devils, I nearly lost an entire loaf of lovely Hovis to their greedy beaks. What can I say, I'm a soft touch!

The garden is completely out of control. I think the mower now refuses to start simply because of the sheer scale of the task in front of it. And I've gone from wishing that my vegetables would hurry up and grow to wishing they would slow down until I feel well and can get out there to do the thinning and whatever else the books say I should do.

Still, at least the rain has stopped.

13 May 2007 Eurovision

Well, who'd have thought it. We didn't win Eurovision. This obviously came as quite a shock to me as our entry was really deserving of first place. By first place I mean nil points.

I hid behind my hands as our entry was actually somehow even more embarrassing than the Ukranian silver Dame Edna entry. Although the French entry really had the edge as far as being really very disturbed. Why did he have a plush cat sewn into his collar? This is perturbing and I don't understand... would someone please explain this to me? Oh and why did he sing at said cat? Even by Eurovision standards this was weird and just not what you come to expect from the French.

Anyway, Serbia won. And I don't get it. My money was on Russia or Ukraine. I had Serbia pegged for a much, much lower score. As did the rest of the UK as we didn't give them a single vote. All those poor women in corsets, ballgowns and short skirts shown up by a woman who was distinctly more reminiscent of a man than a lady! All that effort on their make-up for nothing, hours on their hair for nothing. Had they worn a man's suit and an undone bow-tie they might have stood a chance. Maybe the era of cleavage is over?

Or maybe there's something going on politically that I am unaware of - this is not impossible. After all it is the Eurovision (who's politically our favourite) Song Contest.

But as Sir Wogan said last night, it's the taking part that counts. Or something.
And to be honest, it was vaguely disappointing in its normality last night. With the exception of the singer who started bleeding profusely from his chest at the end of the song. You expect a couple of truly bizarre sights and some outlandish dress sense, but we were lacking last night. They're all taking it too seriously for my liking!

10 May 2007 I'd rather have a piece of toast

How is it Thursday? I mean really? How did the days go past so fast? I'm starting to get dizzy with the speed of the passing of time.

Was at the music quiz last night. Just Gary and I and we came third. No, it wasn't out of three. I am slightly disturbed that I know Eddie Floyd did Knock on Wood. I wasn't even born. And yet, I cannot recognise a Zutons song. I fail miserably in the 00's round. Was good fun but I'm thinking that I might want to rehem my jeans. It was raining SO heavily and denim seems to love to suck up every ounce of moisture through its hem. But will hemmed up jeans make me look middle-aged? Oh the quandary. We did however get points for Gary knowing it was Des'ree who was responsible for the truly terrible lyrics that recently won an award for being so terrible. I mean really who thought "I don't want to see a ghost, It's the sight that I fear most, I'd rather have a piece of toast" would make a great song?

Was cast into the depths of despair earlier this week too (I like melodrama). It turns out virtually my entire family are going to be away for my birthday. I am going to be completely alone. Obviously I spent a good while feeling sorry for myself. Who am I going to show my cards to? Mifford doesn't even know her A, B, C's. However, all is not lost. A plan is in motion. And this plan involves High Tea. Oh yes, I will be being served sandwiches and cake (much cake) on a silver tiered tray in one of my favourite cafes. I'm not entirely sure if that isn't absolute heaven. I love Harriet for sharing my love of cake and for now sharing High Tea with me on my birthday of abandonment!

Some of the village ducklings have been feeling the same sense of abandonment as somehow two of the mothers have vanished. And so the two broods have formed an alliance, and they're doing SO well. You see their 17 strong band waddling along and I feel so chuffed for them! Even the little yellow one is coming on strong. They're a force to be reckoned with.

I also tried some reverse psychology on the weather this week, which has proved more effective than I intended. Not that I believe myself to be some sort of King Canute incarnation that can control weather or tides or the like. Although wasn't he proving that he couldn't? Ah, well, the point is the same. All I wanted was a good overnight downpour to help the vegetable garden along. I'd been wishing for rain and nothing, so very slyly, I changed my wish to no rain (see what I did there with the reverse psychology? - clever eh?) Anyway, I didn't intend for an entire week of rain. Admittedly the seeds are growing and looking splendid and are obviously grateful. But can I please have a little sun back? Pretty please?

06 May 2007 Folk

I was dutifully up at 5.30am and on the road before 6am for the road trip to Cambridge. Collected the lovely Harriet and we were off... A full tank of petrol and a full tin of croissants and danish pastries.

We, rather amazingly, did not get horrendously lost in the maze that is Cambridge, found the car park and even a parking space. We trundled off to join the predictable queue. As we attached ourselves to the end we realised we'd got two hours to wait before the box office even opened. All of a sudden that seemed a really long time! I love the folky crowd though - always friendly and chatty and it went really quickly... then the crowd control people started moving around us and handing out little slips of paper that basically said "we'll probably sell out before you even get to catch a glimpse of where the queue begins so why not ring this number and wear down your phone battery in a futile effort to get through on our insufficient number of phone lines". We all dutifully got out our phones in a mass effort get into the Guinness Book of Records for the greatest number of people to suffer from RSI in one place.

Also then countless calls from my Mother "they're all sold out online". Me: "At 10:04am?". Oh well. Next phone call, "No they're not! How many tickets did you want again? Oh no, now they really ARE sold out". This carried on for a further couple of hours with various people sidling away from the queue as they managed to get tickets online via friends and family, whilst getting to the front of queue still seemed like an impossible task. Also at this point the sun had gone in and the wind had come out, which really added to the enjoyment of the 4 hour queue experience.

Then, a call from my mother again "You can come home." Me: "What? Why?" Mum: "I've bought all your tickets online!" Me: "Please hold while I dance deliriously in the street like a woman recently released from a padded cell".
Turns out they lied when they said it was sold out all those times - they were just trying to throw me off the scent, but I am more tenacious than that! (I must get that from my mother apparently!)

So, I have tickets for Cambridge Folk Festival. And I am overjoyed.
And... I ran into a fellow member of the exclusive Corner Club who also managed to get tickets, and she tells me that the people who were first in the queue had been there since about 3am. I'm really not sure I have that level of commitment.

04 May 2007 Random Part 2

After the last random blog and the selection of events therein, I thought about my life as an accident prone member of society.
I mentioned it in my myspace profile, but I've actually cut myself on an orange, twice. I have yet to find another living being that has achieved this feat once, let alone twice.

There was also the avocado incident. So I'd cut the avocado in half and needed to remove the stone, in my mind at the time it seemed like a good idea to hold the sharp knife at right angles to my palm and direct the point of it into the stone - immediately above my tender flesh. Turns out those stones are slippery suckers and in a moment the avocado had turned a lovely scarlet colour. Only at this moment was my folly apparent to me. I am such a big wuss they had to give me gas & air at the hospital. For a single stitch.

This is not my only hospital visit. The same week that my friend said "I'm not sure your ladder is safe like that" I proved him right. I was just about to take my last step into the loft when the ladder whooshed out from under me. Apparently I hit the deck pretty hard, not that I remember! Luckily my friend was there and rang my mother to come take me to the hospital, it was just after Christmas (although I had no memory of Christmas at all - nor of the pizza my friend and I had ordered being delivered! ME! Forget Pizza - that's a sign of a serious head injury right there!) Upon being told I was going to the hospital because I'd had a fall I immediately flounced off to the bedroom whilst announcing that everyone knows you have to wear clean underwear to hospital and went and changed. My mother arrived and I had forgotten to wear shoes, so she found me some, which I rejected as not fully co-ordinating with my outfit. A girl must co-ordinate in every situation apparently. Anyway, a few busted ribs and the most impressive bruise I've ever sported were my trophies from that incident. And a permanent lump from impacting the ladder at speed. Nice.

I also once, during a water fight, ran through an open door slamming it behind me. Unfortunately I neglected to remove my head before slamming said door thus creating a rather fetching klingon-like bump down the front of my forehead.

Many moons ago I did a lot of craft work and worked with dried flowers, creating arrangements. Sometimes you'd have to wire up little bunches of small flowers, then chop them to size, which was quite hard - cutting through stems and wire. After doing that for some time I suddenly wondered where that red stuff was coming from. A little white scar now resides where I chopped off the end of my finger.

The last one that comes to mind (at the moment) was when I was having a good spring clean in the bedroom and was flipping the mattress. I'd leant it up in the doorway whilst I hoovered, then the phone rang, and I ran to it, squeezing past the mattress and banging against the door handle which was quite long & thin. On the phone I bemoaned the fact that I'd hurt myself and upon hanging up when to investigate the injury. It was a gash of a couple of inches ending just millimetres and let's just say, were I to want children and want to breastfeed them - I nearly lost an essential part of my anatomy for that to be possible. I'm pleased THAT didn't need stitching.

Maybe I really DO need to be wrapped in cotton wool - or have everything else wrapped in it, like the glass man in Amelie!

26 Apr 2007 Poorly Sick

I'm terrible at being ill. Really terrible. I feel sorry for myself and dream of being mollycoddled, which Mifford is sadly no good at. She rather prefers to be the subject of the mollycoddling. Anyway, after a couple of days of feeling really rough it was wonderful to wake up this morning and be able to breathe, someone had removed the vice on my chest in the night, and for this I am most appreciative!

The sun was out and the skies were blue, so after two days watching all the channels that sky has to offer and feeling myself slowly melting into the sofa, I felt obliged to take a walk. I've lived in this village 18 months or more and have never walked to the nearest village (instead opting to walk to the one which is twice as far away - which has shops!). I shall hang my head in shame over the lack of exploration. It's an absolutely beautiful walk. There were more species of butterfly than I can remember seeing in such a long time and a Blackcap, I can't remember the last time I saw that little bird.

I found a tree that was begging to be climbed. But I have an innate lack of balance. My brain splits into two at this point and I'm not sure which half is the devil and which is the angel. But I know one is urging me forward "Go on, give it a go, climb the tree, I know you snapped your arm falling from a height of precisely three feet but you can make it up the tree if you just try". The other is saying "Seriously, don't say I didn't warn you, you know you'll just fall and have to walk home covered in mud." Somehow I sense both sides actually want me to climb the tree, just for the hilarious consequences. Or that might just have been my walking companion.

It was a really glorious walk and reminds me how much I love being out there amongst the world of nature. With the exception of those black flies with the really long dangly legs. I could live without those.

am SO pleased not to feel so poorly sick!

18 Apr 2007 Random Part 1

After a conversation with a friend about all the random things that happen in my life, I had a think about what has occurred and I came to pondering if these sorts of things happen to other people.

I once had a Moorhen stuck behind my fridge. Not the whole Moorhen, its feet were too big to make it all the way behind... Quite how you end up with a live Moorhen behind your fridge is something I can't comprehend.

I also got a moth stuck in my printer once. I didn't know it was there. Until I hit print. You can have no idea how far a squished moth can spread. It wasn't pretty.

Of course there's also the time I got pulled over by the police. Now obviously I'm not the first person to get pulled over by the police, but I do wonder if I'm the only one to get pulled over for avoiding running over frogs. Yes, really. My poor friend Emma wanted to die of shame I'm sure. What's even more surprising, upon explaining the reason of my somewhat erratic driving, I didn't get a breathalyser test.

And my poor friend who ended up in the back of my mothers motorcaravan whilst we bounced around country lanes as my mother pointed out the local albino peacock will just never forget that afternoon.

And I'm also reminded of sitting in a pub after a nearby gig. As they called time and we were getting ready to leave a big man, not unlike a grizzly bear came over and told me to hold out my hand. For some reason this didn't feel at all odd, I'm not sure what that says about my mind. Anyway, I held out my hand and he dropped half a dozen little moonstones into my palm, said take these, you need them. And he was gone.

You see, my life really IS random. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

12 Apr 2007 On The Road Again

It's a happy day today, my wonderful friend T.S. gave me his car! For which I shall be eternally grateful. It'll make my life SO much easier - I hope you know how much I appreciate it T.S.!! I'm so very pleased to count you amongst my friends.

I have some truly fabulous friends and am a very lucky girl!
So, got the train this morning to go and pick up the car and I forgot how much I enjoy train journeys (apart from the fighting for a seat on the busy trains). But being able to sit down with my book, with my music playing, it's a great way to relax. I do feel completely alone though in my worry about how loud the music is in my earphones and whether it's bothering anyone - especially when I can hear the music of someone three rows away over the top of mine! I am aware I sound like an old woman ranting!

Anyway, ranting aside, it was lovely to see T.S. and spend some time with him! Oh and thank you for my Easter Egg - You shouldn't have! And I really wish it had been payday today instead of tomorrow - I could really have spent some money in that FAB shop!

Took the new motor out for a spin and P.J. approves. He likes it muchly. We decided to go for a swift drink - and then tallied up how much cash we had. Once I'd emptied most of my money boxes I was up to about 79p. I am officially a pauper. I thought it would be uncool to pay with tuppences. We did manage to scrape enough for a couple of drinks (read: P.J. went to the cashpoint)
We actually ended up debating the worthiness of the Venga Boys as musicians. I was sober. This concerns me. Not the sober part. I berated said Venga Boys, then realised I had to own up the fact I actually once owned the album of the Outhere Brothers. I cannot begin to say how ashamed I am of this fact. Don't hold it against me!
Anyway, I love, love, love my car. And promise to not play terrible music in it, ever.

08 Apr 2007 Monosyllabia

I'm having a soapbox moment.
So, you get a message asking you if you fancy chat.
You think it'd be fun, so you hand over your info and a trusty chat window appears.
Conversation commences. At least from your end.
You write sentences, on occasions small paragraphs and in return you get 'lol'.
This is not an answer! It's just rude! As part of an answer, sure! I use lol all the time, but within a reply.
How do you reply to a singular lol?
It's an indication of laughter. Which is fine - I'm being amusing, which I could never complain about. But if you were face to face with someone you wouldn't just laugh and then not speak. Would you? Maybe it's just me!
How can you have a conversation entirely made of monosyllabic grunts?
Is a sentence too much to ask?

I think I want down from the soapbox now... I've bored myself ranting on!

06 Apr 2007 Veggies

So... I've become greenfingered... My that sounds rude!
Well maybe that's a step too far. I have edged my lawn. But I'll be damned if that lawnmower will power-up. Whoever thought petrol lawnmowers were a good idea? I mean really? If you're aiming to dislocate your shoulder then they work a charm. And I must recommend NOT kicking said mower whilst wearing flip-flops. It is any wonder I am continually sporting some form of injury?

Was terribly industrious today though, the veg seeds have, at last been planted. Unfortunately, I am a little impatient and want them to germinate and grow overnight so I can harvest tomorrow. A little like the beanstalk that Jack grew, but minus the giant. Obviously.

So, the kohlrabi, turnips, beetroot, parsnips, carrots, radishes, chard, lettuces, raab cima di rapa (how impressive does that sound!) and edible pansies have gone in today. Courgettes still to go in... but I ran out of compost and nearly killed myself stealing my Mother's while her back was turned. It's amazing how heavy that stuff is you know.
Grow damnit grow!

02 Apr 2007 Orange Moon

Driving home this evening I noticed that the moon was orange. Bright orange. Like someone had used a dimmer switch on the sun, it was amazing. I've never seen it look like that before.... But today I really realised that Spring has Sprung. Sure I've noticed all the daffodils lining the banks of the beck. And I'm thrilled to see the daisy heads poking their way into the lawn - they're easily my favourite flower, followed by the tulip which are a close second.

But on the beck today were the first brood of ducklings. Last year, before I moved, all the ducks would visit daily, with their broods and demand to be fed. They'd actually sit on the doormat and quack. Some of them would get so ballsy they'd peck my feet whilst I hunted for food. I really miss them! And I'm only a few doors down... but they don't call at the new place. Fussy beggars.
When I go down to my barn, there's always a plethora of suicidal pheasants and the occasional confused partridge, but the sight I love most is the dozens of hares. They sit so still that you think they're just rocks or mounds of earth and then as you get close they dart off, almost taunting you to try and keep up. I just wish I could see them boxing.
I love Spring, new beginnings, awakenings and hope. What a wonderful time of year.


Domster1974 said...

There was me thinking this was a small post, on one day, but it goes back for ages, what great fun for me.

I have not started it, but will start to wade myself through it soon enough.

you have no idea how delighted I am, that it goes back to April, you have made me smile a great deal.

Flibbertigibbet said...

Let's just hope that by the time you've waded through it all, that you haven't lost the will to live!