Monday, 23 May 2011

...And then there was a bizarre weekend.

Contrary to the belief of one ...fruit loop (let's at least be kind about the man who is now missing) I think I'm still walking the earth. I'm pretty sure nothing has changed and that I am neither in heaven or hell, but carrying on with my daily routine - currently sat on another train bound for london waterloo full of commuters, suited and booted. It does appear women are in the minority. Unless of course there is now a specially allocated carriage for those with a different chromosome pairing. After the weekend of bizarreness I should not be surprised. I made the routine journey to Frank's this weekend, detouring via the town of Kings, obviously more commonly known as Kingston to collect a Miss BBL and her charming chap, the guitarist for the band previously named "hang on, look john". I will not leak their new identity unlike the Scottish Herald, in the newest twist in the tale of the philandering footballer. I do find it slightly odd that having a few more pennies that standard Joe buys you anonymity for being a least until Twitterers outed this bloke! So Miss BBL, Mr Guitar and myself boarded Brian for the last 2hour leg of the trip. Minutes after leaving the built up suburbs of Kingston, we drove past a sheep field. The contents of which, as the name alludes, was sheep. And plenty of them. But all standing and facing the same way. Their subject of curiosity was a solitary Llama. This anomaly was stood, quite regally in the centre of the field, with a small group of sheepish followers all keen to gawp at the overgrown goat. I will now admit, to you my readers, that the first time I passed Llamas in a field, I was not much younger than I am now and asked Papa Dodd 'why do those goats have such long necks?' This of course, was not my finest hour. After the llama/sheep surprise the drive was quite uneventful. Arrived with Frank and dutifully wandered to the pub. It was here that I, even though in hindsight I'm sure I knew it already, consumed wine, gin and tonic, and a shot of a sambuca. These do not mix well when the only item of food eaten since lunch was an oreo mcflurry. A choice of 'dessert' I shall never make again, solely for the fact they (the wonderful staff of the golden arches restaurant chain) never provided enough biscuit-y goodness for the quantity of ice-cream. Saturday passed without event, aside from a country drive to a riverside pub and the crass-rewriting of a popular song from yester-year. The single of which, Frank confessed to owning. For the sake of his reputation I will not divulge the details to my hoards of online readers/followers. (By the way, thank you so much for joining me and my regular warblings!) Mr Furry joined us later the same afternoon for some deckchair delight, and duck feeding by the local lake. Frank"s newly purchased garden furniture would not have been out of place on Brighton beach, but the traditonal green and white stripes and folding mechanics of these wooden seats looked quite ridiculous round a lake with a the ducks. However they were so comfortable that any sarcastic comments and laughter were quickley withdrawn. The sunshine did of course scorch my milk-bottle glow. Note to self: always wear spf30... Or a bin liner! It all seemed to be too much of a good day for the world to end, what with the merriment, free flowing fosters and a large quantity of cocktail sausages and other picnic-y snack foods. Over a dinner table filled with a hearty lasagne (created by yours truely) we played games. No there was no power cut, removing access to telvision and music. No we had not run out of conversation and yes, there was more alcohol. The ability of Mr Guitar and Mr Furry to correctly predict answers to trivia cards was impressive. Some might say a superpower. Others might suggest it marked the end of the world. To Frank and I, it was bizarre. Later we found it was better known as 'cheating'. A wonderful game of 'codswallop' ensued, with an assortment of weird and wonderful words from the English language. My favourite? Gallymoofray - a dish created with leftovers. Sounds more upper class than bubble and squeak! Frank ran 10 miles on sunday. For fun. No sponsorship involved, just fame and recognition. He completed in an hour and 20 minutes. Frank if this is incorrect I apologise for my lie. The strangest thing about this escapade, was that he neither looked or smelt like he had run a hefty 10 miles across country. If that'd had been me... Well it wouldn't have been, but if my some miracle it had been, I would have been unable to move/speak/think and probably breathe. Congratulations Frank and mini-Frank for your impressive athletic abilities. And thank you to the fruit loop who predicted the end of the world, but actually created a delightful weekend for me. I will credit him for this rather than the killing of millions, just so he can feel a sense of achievement- even if his prediction was totally bizarre!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

...And then a small part of my brain had a genius idea.

After failing to launch out of bed this morning for a pre-work run, I felt like I had failed myself. I was grouchy, grumpy and had a very sore head.
We sorted the head pain but the grumpiness needed something else.

Knowing that I probably wouldn't even attempt to run after work, I - or rather a small and usually insignificant part of my brain that usually wouldn't be listened to, decided to book myself into a group exercise session at the strange building that I used to attend so regularly. The gym.

By booking on a course, you immediatley have to attend. Otherwise there's a charge. I have no idea what this charge is, but when you have a complimentary membership any charge is bad.
So I decided that I would try something new.
"You need to feel the burn" I thought to myself, " Its only real exercise if you sweat and ache." So I listened to my inner being and crossed Pilates off. As pleasant as it is, it's a de-stresser and a toner (if you do it right). Not a full on"I've just been to the gym and worked really hard" kind of work out. My eyes scanned the timetable quickley and surreptiously, after all I was sat at my desk and supposed to be calling people to spend money. I selected my course of choice and made the all important phone call.

"I'd like to book into the Boxercise course" might be that magical phrase I'll probably wish I never uttered. Ask me on Friday (oh, Friday) when I am unable to lift my arms or walk.
It wasn't until Miss Hendo and I arrived outside the sports hall (I should've know it would never be like aerobics when they mention 'Sports Hall') that I began to panic.
We looked through the open (but not so welcoming door) and behold - there were many men. Never a good sign, they have more stamina and are stronger. And a lot of strange equipment.
That's right my friends, boxing gloves, punch bags, skipping ropes and lots of sponge mats. I'm glad Miss Hendo decided to come too, otherwise I'm pretty sure I would have dipped my head, backed away and pretend I was in the wrong place.

Now I don't quite know what I thought Boxercise was, but it certainly wasn't this room here. Miss Hendo and I walked in. We were committed. This little 'adventure' was not going to undermine our desire for summer fitness.
Well, I would say I was fairly fit. Not much stamina, but I can exercise happily. But this class?
I nearly died in the warm up. Problem with group exercise is that you have to keep the pace. If you slack, everyone looks at you and the shame is unbearable. And there was no way this testosterone filled room would make me feel weak.
I put on my acting face, tried not to sweat/collapse and kept going.

I will never know how I managed to get through 60 minute circuit training or how on earth I learned to put on boxing gloves and punch a bag, but apparently it comes naturally. I will confess, I did picture myself on set for 'The Fighter' with Mark Wahlberg. And I was definitely kicking his ass. And not soaking my clothes in the process. I had the whole 'perfect work out' look going on - just like the girls on those patronising exercise videos that make you kid yourself that you can have their body by prancing about in your living room.

I am sure I am not alone in thinking that all that fighting and boxing stuff looks easy. I used to think high kicks were a doddle (back in my dancing days) but now? This person is going to be very sore.

The only part that won't be is my pride. I finished the whole session. Did every activity... I modified the sit-ups ( for some reason I can't pull myself up...stupid abs) and I definitely didn't sprint for a full minute... can anyone? But Miss Hendo and I made it through.

It maybe the post exercise endorphines and the fact that at the moment I don't feel any pain...but we're off again next week. And dragging Miss USA with us.

Monday, 16 May 2011

...And then there was a small miracle.

After not running in weeks, the frustration of a terrible Monday, provided the fuel to run 3 miles.
She's back in the game.
A lot of aching going on right now, and a small blister on my toe. But a great sense of pride.

Fluke? Maybe. Will I go again? Depends if the running gear is fresh and smelling sweet within the week.

Any bets on how long the fitness regime lasts this time?

Friday, 13 May 2011

...And then I was on a slow train bound for London Victoria

And so after a labourious week I am sat on a train. With a badly packed over night bag. I have a toothbrush, make up bag, LBD and two pairs of skyscraper heels. Of course its perfectly packed for a night out with Charlotte and Carrie. The only things missing are the painkillers! This night out has been planned for weeks. Not meticulously, just booked in diary. Now that the three of us are working women, its not quite so easy to spontaneously meet in a bar. Especially when one of the three (the one on the train) doesn't live in the city, but out on the coast. Where not a lot happens. Each time I pay a visit to the smoke I am reminded of two things: 1) How much I want to live there. 2) How much I don't want to live there. Funnily enough I still can't make up my mind. Maybe after a few cosmopolitans, woo woo's and harvey wallbangers I'll have decided which side of the fence I sit on.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

...And then we perused, purchased and pranced.

I may not be able to remember the last time I went running, however I have experienced some extreme physical exercise (I should not sail if it hurts this much). And I may be a long way off payday however it was definitely to time to treat my aching self to some retail therapy. Except I feel that I am even more tired now. Miss USA advised this would the result of "...hope and expectation rising and falling very quickley...", the recovery period knocks it out of you. I am emotionally drained.

Miss Hendo and I escorted (the soon-to-be birthday girl) Miss USA on a sunday afternoon shopping trip. It was delightful. We have scoured the shops and avoided the usual weekend crowds by shopping in blazing sunshine(and intermittent rainstorms). It appears the people with sense spent the last day of their weekend in a beer garden or walking on the beach. But they would have got wet.

After removing much of my clothing in yesterday's over zealous clear-out, today was the time to replace it. And Miss USA wanted friendly advice and guidance on many different purchases. (I must say, its quite a strange feeling when you help to spend someone else's money - no counting the pennies flying out your account) Miss USA has some lovely new additions to her growing wardrobe. In fact, I think aside from shoes and a handbag, which are of course the finishing touches, she walked out of the very warm shopping centre with an array of new outfits.

Miss Hendo's crowning moment was not only locating but also purchasing 'The Skirt'. We call it 'The Skirt' because that it is precisely what this fantastic creation is. Miss Hendo has had a watchful eye on the stock of a particular swedish store (not Ikea) since previewing this particular item in a supplement to a recent edition of Vogue. The scream of delight (and I use 'scream' because it was) announced the arrival of this tulle-being into our lives.
Ever since I saw the Chloe design in the Spring/Summer 2011 edition of Vogue and Elle, I have craved the flowing ballerina-esque layers with a simple ribbon edge waistband. The RRP of that skirt isn't even worth discussing... especially when this wonderful swedish store made a copy-cat for a fraction, and I mean a tiny fraction, of the price. Thanks be to the clothing God's who fill our lives with materialistic entities.

I really do hope that Miss Hendo doesn't mind that each of us left the store with the last three of these skirts - you can't play the "I'll come back for it later card" with this store, the turnover of stock is very impressive.

In the changing rooms, we lost ourselves in fashion advice/tips and parading about in numerous outfits - each with a SATC style glamour. I like to think the queue of impatient women forming outside enjoyed our 'oohing' and 'ahhing', our prancing around. I'd like to think that we filled their afternoon with wonderful advice and ideas for their wardrobes - however I believe the reality might've been a little different judging by the huffs, puffs and looks of disgust as we left.
It is important to be completely satisified with your items before your purchase them. If that means spending thirty minutes in the changing room, then it means spending 30 minutes in the changing room - it means the clothes are perfect, you've created stunning ensembles and saved yourself petrol and parking charges when driving all the way back to return them later.
As a rule - this shopping tactic shouldn't be employed when shopping with boyfriends/husbands/fathers/small children. They will become bored and restless and want the football/sleep/all their money back/bag of sweets to make up for the torture endured. Your gay best friend is exempt from this rule.

The only downside to today's trip is that I am still searching for the illusive high heeled tan sandals. I don't want them too chunky, too strappy, too dark or too light. The musn't be too high and under no circumstances are they to be flat, this nulifies the point of them being heeled. They must be comfy as I intend to live in them this summer and there is no way I am wearing a wedge.
I have a personal vendentta with wedged footwear. I shall not go into it. Just be warned, never purchase a pair of wedges for me - even if your intentions are good. Thank you. And if you weren't intending to, then forget I said anything.
As you can see the criteria for these shoes is vast, and as of yet - I'm still hunting. I've now resorted to browsing the internet. A deadly habit. You end up getting the bank card out for things you never really wanted and before you can stop yourself the 'thank you for purchasing with us today' pop up message appears. I have avoided this so far this evening. My purse is downstairs.

Miss Hendo seemed entirely content today - until misplacing her bank card. After a panic, the steps were retraced and it was found in the shop that by name should only sell Tops. Although Miss USA and I are searching for the perfect footwear, Miss USA is plagued by a consuming hunt for the perfect tan handbag. A search that I know from experience can take months. It is not pleasant.

The fuel of choice for today's mammoth trip(this clearly means a long shopping trip and not a trip with a mammoth, that would just be silly)? A hearty plate of srambled eggs on toast and a strong coffee- a breakfast choice that I often forget I like. Of course the coffee is always appreciated regardless of accompianment. Followed by a frappucino (one needs large amounts of caffeine to prevent retail exhaustion). Liquid refreshment of choice when strolling? A chilled bottle of sparkling mineral water, all the fizz of fizzy drinks without the sugar. Good for your teeth and good for you - what other drink pleases the GP and Dentist?

My only dilemna now is which combination of new and old items do I wear to the Office tomorrow?
It frustates me that Carrie Bradshaw makes it all look so easy, and her wardrobe is twice the size of mine.

...And then I woke up with nothing to do.

After I'd done the standard hairwash which was surprisingly difficult as a result of the physical exertion of yesterday's sailing shenanigans, dressed and made a cuppa - I realised that for the first time in a long time I had nothing to do.

So I found a hammer and screw driver from the garage and set about on those DIY tasks that needed to be done in my room. Now, I don't mean putting up shelving or building flat pack furniture from Ikea (you know the kind where even when you follow the instructions word for word or picture by picture, you STILL end up with the spare screw? My Billy Bookcase is still standing though)
The extent of my DIY was screwing a hook into the wall to hang my hairdryer on and I attempted to screw a set of hooks for other 'hanging' things.  It's not straight, and I'm pretty sure that it will probably pull out of the wall when it has too much weight on it. I didn't use those red plug things that I'm pretty sure are needed.
But , that's what happens when you badger the house owners/parents for help and they forget.
So if my stud walls collapse in the night, I can blame them.

Besides, I felt like I accomplished an impressive achievement.

I surveyed my room for other tasks. I chose one that I thought would be the most interesting. With the rain falling heavily outside, I decided to spring clean.
I have been ruthless.
Anything unworn in the last year was sorted into two catagories - 1) the swap bag 2)the dump.
You have to set the time limit for a year rather than six months otherwise you'd end up chucking out the entire summer wardrobe. Then you would need to completely rebuild - which in this case, might not be such a bad idea if it weren't for the complete and utter lack of funds. I think I was naive to think that I would one day be able to fritter my pennies away.
I now have drawers that shut and wardrobe with hanging space. The shoe boxes are still overflowing though - I couldn't bring myself to touch them. They can't help being the most expensive items.
The swap bag was unknown to me until my final year of Uni, when Family Longbrook (aside from Mr Furry) showed me how to renovate my wardrobe with some simple 'swapsies'.
On these occasions I merely collected their discarded, unwanted and often unworn clothing rather than donating my own. So now is my opportunity to give. I don't know if it will be gratefully received...

 But good friends are great liars and will give my clothes a wonderful new wardrobe to fester in. I suppose I might see them in the next swap bag.

Friday, 6 May 2011

...And then I was a seafearing wench.

And so it was on this balmy evening, that I immerged from the sailing club dressed in my finery.
Borrowed from my youngest Dodd sibling, I looked like a seal.
Wetsuits were never meant to be the most flattering of outfits, though I had hoped that it may be possible to look less like a vacuum packed sausage. Apparently not.

Papa Dodd had been busy prepping 'Cloud Nine' (for the record we didn't choose this name, the boat came with it, and it's bad luck to change it - according to maritime folklore). Our sails were ready, the ropes and pulleys and stuff were all ready too.
These ropes and pulleys and stuff all have proper names, however I still haven't learnt them. I spend most weekends with Frank, so therefore I am exempt from joining the crew aboard our 16" Wayfarer. Except not this weekend.

One (of many) of my jobs as crew was to return our boat trailer back to its resting place while we were racing. Boat trailers are harder to manouvre than they look, and what with my apparent lack of skills for reversing Brian, the combination of this two wheeled contraption and myself was never going to produce perfect parking skills. I managed to hit one poor fellow sailor as I left the pontoon (for this, kind Sir, I apologise) I also nearly managed to run it off the edge and into the gloomy depths, and when parking it in our bay ... I could have been very close to gently nudging neighbouring boats and dinghies. However, they remained unscathed.

My secondary job, and the one I love the most because I feel like a seasoned sailor/yachtie... launching the boat. With Papa Dodd inside and ready to race, I have to take hold of the all important rope, push the boat away from the pontoon and 'jump' aboard. I nearly always panic that I will push it too far off and then misjudge the gap and fall in. Tonight this did not happen, but I am sure at some point, when I think I have perfected this 'move' ... I will immerge shamefaced from the depths of the Hamble river with seaweed and barnacles in my hair.

The essence to the term 'race', is beginning simultaneously from a start position, completing a course and the first person/team/boat/animal/insert other choice, to cross the predetermined finish line in the shortest amount of time is pronounced the winner. When on the water in boats, it is impossible to line up at the start as you would for a 100m sprint, so you all pootle about in the water. Practising pulling ropes and sliding all round the boat is great for 5 minutes, but then I got fidgety and was keen for the race to begin so that Papa Dodd and I could showcase our incredible skills and seamanship.

I believe 'Cloud Nine' is cursed. Obviously we shall blame the boat and not ourselves, but somehow we always manage to be one of the last boats to cross the start line. Always. So we begin the race at the back of the pack.
Our boat is one of the largest in this racing pool, and when in some cases that would be something to impress someone with, when racing little dinghies - you need something small and nippy. We are to racing as an elephant would be to ballet.

But, ever since it was drilled into me at school ( I shall never forget it) - it's not the winning, but the taking part that counts.
This may be true to the egg and spoon losers at the school sports day, but every once in a while it would be nice to come first.And I am sure this phrase was concocted by a smug winner just to comfort his/her upset second best competitor. Pah.

So after a 'hairy' hour and a half sailing around the mouth of the Hamble river in Southampton water, we finally crossed the finish line. Last.
A mere 15 minutes later than the previous boat.

We shall blame a tatical choice that perhaps Papa Dodd shouldn't have made. One may also blame my inability to pull ropes and slide round the boat quickley. I would like to blame my panic at nearly falling into the water head first... three times. (Apparently I don't learn).
The murky depths of these waters are not as inviting as the Mediterranean or Caribbean Seas, and a lot colder. I know this because my feet got wet.

My other favourite bit of acting as second mate to Captain Dodd, is sailing back into 'port' - aka the pontoon and docking. Or whatever sailor-y term I'm meant to use. I have to stand on the 'hull' (oooh, get me!) and jump on to the floating deck, with a special rope in my hand and tie us up.
The first time I did this, I had shorts on (they were slightly too big). Sometimes shorts expand when wet, I hadn't realised this - stood up to jump ashore and found myself with my shorts round my ankles.
Now that I wear a wetsuit I don't have to worry, and Papa Dodd doesn't have to apologise to members of the sailing club on behalf on his daughter for 'mooning' the entire River.

When your Father is from a naval background, you are taught that there are many knots and ties to fasten rope. I have listened and humoured him, but never actually learnt. So I tie 'Dodd knots'. It is very difficult to undo these, and involves a lot of huffing and puffing.
Last time I was aboard the Dodd boat, I was instructed not to tie knots any more. So I jumped onto the pontoon and held the rope while Dad fetched the trailor. I looked like a windswept simpleton.

Within five minutes of us leaving the water, the sky turned black, the clouds rolled in, and the wind speeds were up at 50mph ( as I found out from the club weather station).
This is called a 'squaw'. And its pretty much like the Pirates of the Caribbean scene where the medallion around Keira Knightley's neck emits a pulse... remember? Well, there you go! Warsash was like that for all of 15 minutes.
The River was a raging torrent and the clouds curled over. And then, boom!

Flat as a millpond.
Like it never bloomin' happened.
Tell yer what, this weather stuff - bloody spooky.

I'm now sat in bed and we've got thunder, lightning and torrential rain. Love it. I don't have to clean Brian tomorrow.

I am nursing my bumps, bruises and very sore abs. My eyes are red from the salt water and my lips are tingling from the wind. I'm aching and very tired. I'm trying to decide whether or not I'm suited to a life on the high seas.

Perhaps I could dress like a yachtie without needing the skills to sail? And worse case scenario, if I wanted to purchase a boat to enjoy on delightful summer evenings I could buy one with an engine and no sails.

Then I wouldn't even need a seal suit.