Saturday, 30 April 2011

...And then there was a wedding and another bank holiday weekend.

Congratulations to the new royal couple. I would like to admit (on the internet) that the beautiful service brought a little tear to my eye. And Kate? Bloody love that dress. No street party here at Frank's to watch it, but I did drink a lot of good old english tea in my pyjamas. Lovely. And now, because it is a bank holiday weekend and because you feel like you must do things on bank holidays, I am going on a bike ride with Frank. He has a small collection of two wheeled-transport so it doesn't matter that his broken bike (see earlier post) is still being fixed. No doubt I shall ache from chasing after my uber-fit chap. And will probably resign myself to the sofa later for a large glass of wine and a crappy film. Yup, this will happen. Take care in the sun, layer on the spf30. I will make sure Frank's ears don't burn. It might just be wind burn rather than skin damage!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

...And then the blogger couldn't keep up

So here we are. A week on from when I was last sat at this laptop, and would you believe it? So much has happened.

The new job, post promotion, started on Monday. So I had to find my way around that... still feel like I've been stood reading the instructions to Ikea's most complicated bookcase, and I'm still totally clueless as to how the shelves, wooden pegs, swedish screws and crappy PVA glue fit together.

But then as is apparently the norm here, there were various nights of sociable beveraging on 'summer' evenings. Followed by a four day weekend in Essex county with Frank and his family.Where contrary to previous blogs about the ridiculousness of shorts in March/April, I swallowed my pride in fear of sunstroke and decided to bare those milky white pins that I call legs.

 In the middle of this a trip to the glorious home of English rugby with Mr Quiche - a journey across London that took me longer than my drive to Frank's, thank you kindly National Rail. This rugby/cider/curry binge was followed by another day in the sunshine at Frank's with his godson. (Who almost sailed high over the garden hedge a la hammer throw courtsey of Frank's brother Will.I.Am - no Cheryl Coles bessie mate!). I feel we must note, that even at this point in the sunfilled, short wearing weekend - my skin has not changed colour. There is no hint of bronze, nor tan line and even worst no slightly scorched bits. All this was quite worrying since my skin only ever turns various shades of pink under UVB rays...and it didnt even do that. Heatwave? What heatwave?

And all this was topped off with another garden party here at Chez Doddy, in the sunshine whilst (for the first time in a long time) drinking only soft drinks. Namely a brown tinged beverage that rhymes with poke-a-hole-ah!

So as you can see - quite a merry few days. And with another four day weekend on the way (we thank you very much Wills and Kate) I am sure it shall be much the same all over again, although perhaps without the Indian summer!

Finally, any bets on the which colour the Queen shall be sporting on Friday? I think it's about time the nation saw her in some leopard print.

Monday, 18 April 2011

..And then we awoke to another Monday Morning.

Except this Monday was quite unlike any other.
Rather unusually I was in a lot of pain. It was not in my head, and nor was it the result of an alcoholic binge or the side effects of going cold turkey from caffeine.
For a start I had muscles aching in my bottom that I never knew even existed. From a lengthy bike ride with Frank – a story we shall elaborate upon later, my friends.
 My ankles were a bit sore too. This ache was from a bloomin’ long run (with the pooch), that was unfortunately my idea (so I can’t even blame the pain on Frank) followed by a wonderful trek around a large shopping arena.

Thursday evening saw the arrival of a particular Mr Frank. And so, he was home with my charming and delightful family when I was able to deliver some excellent news relating to a specific job of mine... in essence it was so fantastic it felt rude not to open a bottle of bubbly. It was not of the champagne variety but was a superb bottle of Cava. This was followed by a compulsory visit to the local alcoholic house, where we were able to consume cool, refreshing and intoxicating beverages in the last of the Friday evening sun.
Miss Hendo and Miss USA joined us for a rowdy few hours, only to be accompanied by Papa Dodd himself, coupled with the Pooch. Half a traditional Irish beverage later, (consumed by PD and not myself) we made it home. I was already nursing the early stages of the post-drink sleeps. And so after eating my weight in a perfectly concocted lasagne ... I fell asleep.
Would someone please locate my other-self? I feel I am missing an essential part of my being... the part that lets me drink a lot and stay awake for hours. The student half. Perhaps you subconsciously hand this part over when you collect the expensive piece of paper that states we are wonderfully employable?

Keen to prove my newfound fitness to Frank, I forced him from the comfort of the pillow and made him run with me on Saturday morning. I’d already selected a route. A more picturesque place to run, and unfortunately about three miles longer.
Frank is fitter than me. He was fitter than me before I started my regime and because he continued to exercise at the same pace, he is still fitter than me. I stopped. Whined. Ran a bit. Then moaned some more. I wiped the sweat off that was pouring down my face (I am not a woman who merely glows when participating in cardiac activity, and I despise the women who do – darlin’ you aren’t working hard enough)
I announced on a number of occasions, when running up a slight incline, that I hated Frank.
I don’t really Frank, but exercise does funny things to me. I made it home, practically dead. With a dog who’s tongue could touch the floor. We’d been out for 40 minutes and I never thought I would walk again.
After refreshing hair wash and a covering of make-up I miraculously recovered as I happily declared that Frank and I were going shopping. Up until this point he had been blissfully unaware of this impending doom.
Doom for doom it was. The sun was shining. The afternoon was full of football, there was cold beer in the fridge but I forced him to escort me in spending lots of money I just don’t have.
I was searching for the perfect pair of chinos to wear elegantly with a pair of strapped tan high heeled sandals which would also accessorise a short floral print dress. None of which I own. And none of which I found. Emerging from yet another shop without a bag of goodies after 30 minutes of rummaging and 20 minutes of prancing around a fitting room, prompted Frank into a chorus of sighing and “What? We’re going into another one?”
In each shop we had to find a man seat, perch or corner in which to leave Frank with other unhappy males while I perused. It was in one of these corners that his interactive smart phone and only tool to combat utter boredom, died. He was not a happy Frank. He joined the hoardes of similarly bored looking men. I believe there may have been enough for a football team.
Ironic really, since that’s where they would rather have been.
Now a note to the architects of these fashion mecca’s. I feel you should spare a thought for the long-suffering men. Please build them a sports bar, in the centre of each fashion bubble, where they may relax in a testosterone fuelled environment. Or build them a five-a-side pitch so they may compete against other fashion widower’s and pass 6 hours without even realising.
I feel Frank would appreciate this more than watching me hand over my battered card to pay for yet another pair of shoes. However, he did not complain. And so he was, like a young child, rewarded with an ice-cream for behaving so well... and he even got to choose it himself.
To compensate for spending most of Saturday inside, I suggested (here was the mistake which ruined the muscles in my bottom)that we venture into the great outdoors and go on a bike ride. I had chosen somewhere I knew to be flat – I enjoy calming cycle routes, where one may collate ones thoughts without having to get off and push the bike up a hill. We put the bikes in the van, lathered on the sun cream (no tan marks for me thank you very much... or as it turned out – no tan at all) and drove off.
We had packed sandwiches. I had made both sets, one for Frank and some for me and naturally Frank’s tasted better. So I ate his instead. Much to his disgust. I don’t know how far we cycled. But it was long. The problem with cycling  a straight line is that you have to come back that way. Luckily we were on a pub route, so liquid refreshment was always a target. We were doing exceptionally well, if you discredit my attempt to break both wrists by cycling over a huge pothole without suspension, the pedal grazes that I gauged in each shin, and the large number of flying insects I swallowed. But then Frank broke his bike. We won’t go into details as it is rather distressing and involved him hollering expletives across sedate English countryside.
He broke the derailer. A bit that guides the chains over the gear wheels. Basically the bit that makes you move forward when you pedal. Cycling back was not an option. We’d bypassed the first pub because I knew the second one was nicer but had conveniently forgotten how much further it was. So we turned around. I sat aboard/mounted the broken bike and was pushed along by Frank , who was riding my bike and pushing my saddle.  My instructions were clear “keep going straight and do not peddle”. Why is it, when you’re told not to do something it makes it so much harder to resist?

Anyway, resist I did. We arrived at the pub. Frank was exhausted and I was well rested from my leisurely trip. He left me with his wallet (bad move), no phone ( he took his and I hadn’t brought mine in order to feel completely at peace with the great outdoors) and a broken bike. He abandoned me outside a pub so he could continue back, fetch the van and gallantly return to pick me up.
I counted the paving slabs. Bought two drinks. Watched people come and go. And decided that I relied on my blackberry a little too much – surely I would be able to entertain myself for a short period of time without it?
What an easy way get rid of a girlfriend with a terrible shopping habit. Leave her in a pub with a limited amount of cash, no PIN number for your cards and no way to get home.
But he did come back for me. About 40 minutes later.

So my weekend has provided me with an insane amount of exercise, though I still deem shopping to be the most beneficial – after all, you are multi-tasking. I have grazes and gashes on my shins, intestines full of minute flying creatures dissolved by stomach acid, and a greater love for my blackberry than I ever deemed possible. And because of my aches and pains I even forgot it was Monday. And I forgot I wasn't meant to drink coffee. Caffeine has amazing pain relief capabilities.

Monday, 11 April 2011

...And then I imerse myself into another bland Monday.

So here we are. Monday evening. Currently sat at the kitchen table poised with gin in hand. For the record I have mixed this gin (it goes by the name of Gordon) with small amount of tonic, ice and thrown a lemon slice in for good measure but for the record, it’s also pretty good straight. Through the eyeball.

I joke. I haven’t reached these desperate measures yet. The day I do, you may cart me off in a straight jacket and hold me in a padded cell. And no doubt, it will happen on Monday. Just to make a Monday exciting.

Nothing out of the ordinary has happened today. Nothing especially bad has happened today. Nothing to completely ruin my life. Nothing to make me say “Well did you know what happened to me today?”, or to look back at my life and remember that exceptional day that was April 1th 2011. It was just mundane-ness. All day.
I went running (again). I didn’t fall over, scrape up my knee or twist my ankle. I did sweat the ganges though. However, this is not unusual.
The only delay this morning was deciding which pair of shoes should accompany a standard outfit. No different from every other morning. Nothing extraordinary.
My car started without fault this morning ( thanks, Brian – I would have loved some drama this morning) I fed him Brian juice because I was early for work ... on a Monday? My card was accepted without any problems by the chip’n’pin and I pulled away without stalling. I found a parking space in a crowded car park. And remembered my security pass.
I knew all the answers to all the questions I was asked today, and I even helped Miss Hendo with her workload.
All of this is standard Monday stuff.
I would have like to been driven to work in horse and carriage, wearing one of those fancy dresses and ridiculous sized hats with a colourful plume. I would like to have been hijacked by a masked highwayman and whisked away for ransom. I would like to have remained unharmed and to have unknowingly fallen head over hills in love with my masked captor.
Sadly this was not to be.
I would like to have a huge bunch of flowers delivered to my desk and to have been embarrassingly serenaded by a barber shop quartet. Just to add some cheese to my life.

I would have quite liked an anonymous email to arrive in my inbox giving me instructions to get myself to the Eurostar platform at Waterloo station by 5 o’clock. Upon arrival I would find out that I had been headhunted by MI5 and was now being sent off to save a British diplomat and to find the scoundrel framing them for a dirty crime.
My inbox remained empty.
I would like to have cut a certain Miss Hepburn from a particular movie revolving around food consumption in a jewellery shop and played the role myself. Word for word. Problem is, I don’t like cats and I don’t smoke. Nor do I have the perfect LBD, or her wonderful clipped tones. I don’t live in New York or meet criminals in prison.
I will never work for MI5, because my numerical skills are ... blank. (I skipped that gene) And due to the legislation regarding kidnap and the abandonment of dowry’s and ‘selling’ off one’s daughters to an eligible bachelor, neither shall I ride off on horseback with a masked gentleman.
The sad thing about having an overactive imagination fuelled by caffeine is that often you write yourself into beautiful period dramas with ruggedly handsome men, or become a female Bond and save the British government in a pair of Christian Louboutin’s. When your normal life is bland, there is nothing to stop this internal film producing company from going into overdrive.
You write the script.
Film the shots.
And applaud your own efforts and award at the Oscars. Except I have this amazing ability to avoid the dramatic sobs in the “I want to thank Frank, and my Mum and my Dad, the dog who lived next door who was my only friend as a child” speech.

Then you realise, its Monday. Again.
And Monday’s are always this bland. So you always run away into Imagi-World (the best theme park ever) And every Monday you make the same realisation.
“Today is Monday. I am five days from the weekend. And I shouldn’t drink anymore coffee.”

I found out this weekend, that after excessive drinking on Friday night I no longer possess the amazing bounce-back reflex . The incredible reflex reaction to hangovers when you don’t feel a thing the following morning, your face is free from smudged make-up and you are doe-eyed and wide awake.
Not only do I no longer have this. But now that slightly-not-quite-right-because-I-definitely-drank-a-lot-of-alcohol feeling lasts two whole days. What is this?

Thursday, 7 April 2011

...And then I ignored my shin splints.

When something is bad for you, you just want to do it more.
Drinking stupid amounts of coffee, followed by stupid amounts of gin.
Yes caffeine makes you hyperactive, and yes - gin might be a depressant, but if you were super happy to begin with then it just levels you out on par with normality. So this is fine.

However, when you have self diagnosed shin splints, running on a delightfuly warm evening with a dog who may at any point keel over is not a good idea.

This is a much better idea when you run to the baywatch theme tune.
No one else can hear it. You feel like a very attractive and fit lifeguard, your legs seem to work faster and you're so much more empowered.

And the you make it home. The dog collapses and you realise that you have no movement in your legs. It hurts a lot. And you look more like the flailing bodies that are rescued from the water, rather than the beautiful people running in.

And so to an ice cold gin and tonic with a large wedge of lemon to numb the pain.

I must say it works.
And this still seems to be legible. Result.

N.B While we're enjoying sunglasses and warm weather which we aren't meant to have in April, can we please spare a thought for poor Frank. The wonderful snow he was meant to have, wasn't quite so wonderful. Bet he's glad he didn't pay for the ski trip now. See you next week Frank!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

...And then it was half way through another week.

It’s Wednesday. We are closer to the weekend than we were yesterday but not quite close enough. And already I have been a busy little bee. A slightly superstitious little bee.  But a bee all the same.
I’m sure if you are a bee, then a magpie probably isn’t your best friend. I know this sounds like the sort of thing a crazy cat lady might say (apologies to any crazy cat ladies) but I am being followed by magpies. It might be the same little cohort, but I can’t be sure. They’re all black and white. And they don’t appear to have any distinguishing marks.
But the strangest thing, stranger than admitting to be ‘followed’ by birds, is that rather lucky things have been happening. Not unlucky as per the normal silly superstitions. Nothing mega though, I haven’t won the euro millions. But if these little birds could sort that out then I would obviously be eternally grateful. Just little things.
Like seeing bollards in car parks BEFORE I hit them.
And finding £10 in the pocket of a jacket (I think you’ll agree that this is a very special moment!)
And ...the really odd thing, which is maybe related to the moon (now I sound really crazy) ... I actually wanted to exercise this week. Three times! I know! Madness, right? It was even in the outside. I ran in an environment devoid of automated climate systems, piped music, and unattractive sweaty men huffing and puffing on electronic machines next to you. I ran outside. With the dog. For half an hour.  Three times! I haven’t quite got over it myself, to be honest.
I obviously didn’t run for the whole 30 minutes, that’s going a bit far. But I did the whole walk, fast walk, jog, run, jog, fast walk, jog, run, jog, fast walk. Felt like a pro. And poor pooch was almost dead. I won’t take her again.
In my keenness to get fit and embrace the early morning sunshine and because I don’t own proper running shoes, I may have given myself shin splints. Excellent.
Maybe the magpies haven’t lost their unlucky touch after all.
I am lucky in other ways. I have spent two evenings in wonderful company (present time excluded, because eating risotto on your own isn’t that entertaining). I have had my CV spring cleaned by Mr Commonwealth  (just protecting your identity Sir)and then laughed at oh so many well dressed students queuing for entry to Tiger Tiger. I don’t claim to be a fashion guru, shoe habit taken out of consideration of course, but it’s not hard to spot a walking disaster. Of which there were many! Ladies, and gents if you are out there too, if you must insist on using fake tan – please take pity on us mere mortal pasties and avoid the streaks. At least then we can actually envy you and your beautiful tan like want us too!
A jolly good evening drinking a single coke, which is probably why I missed the bollard, and a cappuccino, the catalyst in the reaction between my brain and mouth which made it all work much faster. I’m sure Mr Commonwealth a) could hardly understand a word I was saying as I gabbled at the speed of sound and b) had absolutely no idea what I was chirping on about anyway, what with my talk of Manolo’s and Louboutin’s. Shame on me, and at my first business meeting!
Bloomin’ magpie. Oh well, it can only can better.
I was also lucky enough to be able to say goodbye to Miss Alice Chamberlain before she jets off to Greece on Saturday. Secretly I’m ignoring the fact she’s going somewhere hot. She’s actually flying out to Siberia to heard mountain goats. We, ( a certain Miss Oz, Miss Hendo, Miss Skoda, Miss Alice and Miss USA) spent the evening in well decorated flat consuming a disgusting amount of quavers (other cheese flavoured snacks are available), kettle chips (quite possible the guiltiest crisps to munch – you can feel the fat build up on those bits you try so hard to hide), cheese straws, pizza and oven chips with garlic salt. And a huge array of shop bought and home-made cake-like delicacies. Only the healthiest options of course. Miss Hendo did make a contribution of tomatoes and crudités, which were much appreciated. Thank you for the vegetables.
However, this small intake of vitamins did not prevent the feeling of over indulgence and pure unhealthiness. I tried to burn this feeling away on a cross trainer this morning. It was not to be.
And so, thank you Magpie’s for making me feel worse than terrible and keeping me in at home alone while the family wined and dined in the yacht club.

This bee takes back all that she said. Magpie’s are not lucky. But that doesn’t mean they’re not stalkers. Watch your backs.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

...And then it was a (not so) surprise weekend with Frank.

Brian and I journeyed to Ipswich on Thursday evening.
We managed it without spending extortionate amounts at Clackett Lane services.
We managed to sing a long to every track on every CD in the car.
We managed not to get lost.
And we managed to make it all they way there AND back on less than half a tank of Brian juice.
I was very impressed by my little KA's adverse drinking habits and believe it had a great deal to do with the lack of pressure of the accelorator. No driving in heavy boots for me this weekend.

Frank was shocked to see me before his disappeared to France on a very cheap ski trip. By very cheap, I obviously mean free. Ah, the bona fide perks of being a teacher! This fact won't feature in this blog anymore as I find it highly distressing that while I am stuck to a computer trying to operate a new system, he shall be gliding down the alps attached to two planks with the sun on his face and snow in his hair. And his only expense is his 'off piste petty cash' - AKA beer tokens! Git. But I am not bitter.

A wonderful couple of days in Ipswich in the, can you believe it... sunshine! And then time to drive home yesterday.
I decided that I didn't want to put any more petrol in the car and that I would drive the alternative route home (M25 past Heathrow, as opposed to Dartford - just for future reference) which is 8 miles longer - just to see if I could do it.
The curse of attempting to get home on quarter of a tank is your inability to drive at anything more than 65mph. However my speedo is 5 miles out so Brian and I trundled home at 60. Granny pace.

However it was sunny and I had Radio 1 playing through the speakers and was able to relish the early afternnon sunshine on the A12. The problem with driving much slower than usual is that you notice more. I counted 23 dead pheasants on the central reservation. You think they might have worked out that if the best mate Barry is laying flattened on the road it might be a good idea not to cross. Apparently not.
And besides - pheasants have wings. Perhaps they should fly. Their malting carcasses are not a pretty sight.

Arriving on the M25 I noticed something that I hadn't before, thanks to the courteous drivers on the Ipswich road. Driving at granny speed brings with it shame, humiliation and sheer embarrasement. Over the duration of my journey I was over taken by five lorries and three coaches, luckily they were empty of jeering schoolchildren.
To be overtaken by huge lorries, thundering past is very sad. But you can't see the driver so he might not be laughing/tutting/shaking his head at you - but when the chelsea tractors speed past and all the other little 'normal' people cars, you can see the families gawking at you. Disbelief written all over their faces - "why would you want to drive that slow?"
I'd like to admit that it was a concious choice to make an environmental point, and to prove that we don't need to rush everywhere. But actually I couldn't afford to fill up again.
I have no idea where the garage was that was accidently selling for for 12p per litre thanks to a system malfunction, but I should have definitely found it.

Like most people, my biggest expense is petrol. Liquid replenishment for a car. I can't even afford alcoholic liquid for me. ( I did  however treat myself to a double shot, extra shot, tall, tall skinny caramel macchiato, just to congratulate myself on my lack of fuel consumption)
I feel that I shall be driving at 60 for quite a while.
Perhaps I should get a car sticker "recovering from student debt - preserving petrol. Just overtake"

P.S Frank, please try to make sure you don't break a leg. And make sure you don't miss the bus to come home. Your trip won't be quite so cheap if you have to pay for a flight back!