Wednesday, 7 March 2012


I need you to each take 30 minutes of your day.
I need you to watch this film.
I need you to act.

We can inspire change.
We can stop a monster.

Thank you.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

...And then there was a weekend in London (Part IV)

(By the time I complete this weekend’s shenanigans, it’ll be time to start over on the forthcoming events... It seems a lady’s work is never done.)

Carrie and I had the standard wardrobe dilemmas… “What to wear?” “Does this look okay?” “Can I wear this and that together, or is it just weird?”  - All those hundreds of questions that make men cower in the corner and break into a sweat. Women are quite good at answering them, quickly and efficiently but in the process of trying on multiple combinations.

We left the boudoir after additional glasses of wine and got aboard the good old London bus to from Balham to Clapham Common (apparently there are no direct buses from Balham to Clapham Junction – how utterly ridiculous). We joined our superb group of friends, at Chez Gray. It was an equally lovely boudoir where we proceeded to consume more beverages to eliminate the stresses on the purse later. It all got a little rowdy, and as was to be expected the conversation tone lowered significantly. It’s what happens amongst friends, sadly. Even the educated amongst us (the entire group) joined in…

Before it got worse, we vacated the flat and navigated to the first pub.

I don’t know where it was or what it was called, but it was a very small pub, with a wedding out the back. There was a group playing monopoly. I, the token monoply loser, advised a fellow loser from this random group of strangers how to win – monopolise the board and bankrupt your friends. When you win a single game of monopoly, it seems you are granted the divine right of passing along the knowledge. I have in all the years I have played this very British boardgame, won once. But the power to share my knowledge had still been gifted. The board was packed up shortly after so I don’t believe my new companion was given a fair shot… but he knows for next time.

Somebody bought crisps. I don’t know who. But they arrived at our table. They’re tempting at the best of times, but even more so when you’ve given them up for forty days and forty nights, for no other reason than to see if you have the willpower. So far so good and I didn’t even succumb to the temptation when inebriated. It seems I’m made of stronger stuff than I give myself credit for.

Then again, maybe not.

By the second pub I’d briefly become the tearful drunk girl. Oh the shame. I swore never to be her. Carrie bought another drink for me. And then it was fine. I jumped back on the band wagon and wholly embarrassed myself with some atrocious dance moves.

I can’t really elaborate on the night, since I don’t remember huge amounts of it. I do remember the almost punch up I had in Macdonalds with the moronic cashier.

Please note, he was not a moron because he worked for this fast food chain, I think he was a well-developed moron long before he found his job.

I had ordered a chicken nugget happy meal (the rationale being that there is less food therefore it’s better for you) and an impromptu portion of onion rings. Twenty minutes later, I was still stood there. It might not have been twenty exactly since all perspective of time disappears with alcohol, but it was longer than was acceptable for fast food.

He handed me my food but instead of the onion rings, I had a quarter pound of ‘meat’ sandwiched in a bun (bread that I can’t eat thank you very much). I calmly explained that I had in fact ordered onion rings, but it was so noisy I don’t think he could hear me. So I proclaimed a little louder … “ I’m sorry, I ordered ONION RINGS!”

But I couldn’t be bothered to be persistent and strain my vocal chords over a burger. So I relented and skulked off to the table to join the team. They shared the burger between them and I looked woefully at my golden nuggets of chicken and suddenly didn’t fancy them anymore. I don’t think I wanted them in the first place; since that ‘restaurant’ makes me feel a little gross when sober.

Next to us was a party of chimps.

I use that phrase in its truest sense.

The aftermath of three drunken, hungry men.

Although only the remnants of a feast remained, I couldn’t get over how much food three young (heavily intoxicated) men could eat. It had to be documented, but I got my little camera out too late and was unable to press the buttons quick enough. All that was left was a Macdonald’s carcass.

The night bus.

Such a wonderfully bizarre experience where you meet all manner of people. Some quietly minding their own business, others out to make as much noise as possible. I’d like to think I was comfortably in the middle, but I think perhaps it would be the latter… sadly.

We made it back to Carrie’s boudoir, threw everything from the bed to floor, clambered in and passed out. I didn’t even drink my obligatory three pints of orange squash (a preventative hangover cure if ever I saw one…).

We woke Sunday morning and Carrie refused to deliver her now iconic phrase, “I think something died in my mouth…” So I said it for her. I felt pretty disgusting (nothing that a shower and coffee wouldn’t sort) but generally just tired. The ninja hangover caught up with me on the train home. Git.

Luckily, we’d had coffee, or a mocha – there was a whole mix up with the caffeine based hot drinks and something to eat at The Nightingale Café, 193 Balham High Road. It was on the wrong side of the road to sit in the sun but it was pleasant enough. Great spot for people watching. And also marvelous cakes and pastries. I could have sat there all day… well until I got cold and fell asleep at the table.

And yes, because the sun was out so were the token shorts and flip flops. When will people learn that sunshine doesn’t necessarily equate to warmth? It is highly frustrating but also equally funny to watch as the goose bumps appear.

Roll on some more sunshine this weekend please, just don’t expect my little milk bottles to be making an appearance any time soon…But I will be reappearing in London town.
More adventures to follow.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

...And then there was a weekend in London (Part III)

Carrie and I opted to walk towards the City of London (on the ‘wrong’ side of the river), I don’t know where you end up if you step off the bridge and turn right… Perhaps that will be for next time. We walked and walked, and then walked some more. Sometimes chatting about nothing and everything, and sometimes just enjoying the companionable silence and the sun on our faces/ backs (depending on the direction).

The Old vs. The New (Just not sure what that 'new' building is.
You can never have too many poorly taken tourist shots.
We got all the way to Tower Bridge before realising that we needed to get all the way back. Neither of us fancied the tube, so we turned on our heels and set off again.

It turned out to be a very long walk. Four miles actually. But we didn’t mind, who would have thought London air could have been quite so refreshing. We weren’t the only ones to think like this. The riverbank was banked, and every bench or wall in the sunshine was crammed – as well as outside eating areas for pubs and restaurants. It seemed everyone was in a good mood.
How many Londoner's in one sunny space?

I also saw something I’d never seen before. Well, two things actually. First the controversial newaddition to the London skyline, which is set to be Europe’s tallest building (That’s sure to put us on the map…).

 Personally I think it’s quite impressive. But I wouldn’t fancy being the window cleaner employed there. It would be like the mammoth task of painting the golden gate bridge… once you got to the top it would be time to start all over again.

No thank you, I think I’ll keep my feet firmly on the ground. Or maybe they’ll hang a hose and a soapy brush out the side of a helicopter. I would quite enjoy watching that I think. And then enjoy watching the expression when I tell the pilot he missed a bit.
It's like a massively tall greenhouse - it better have good air con for the 'summer'.

And I must share this with you on account of its ingenuity. Have you ever seen anything so remarkable? Massive L.A.D points to the person who invented this. It’s not a car. It’s not a bike. But you can cycle on the road, use the cycle lanes (and hold up traffic) all whilst drinking because technically sober person drives whilst you cycle your little legs off to provide the engine power.

We saw two. A team of girls wearing pink sparkly cowboy hats and the lads following up the rear with tins of Fosters and Kings of Leon playing. It was a beautiful moment.

That was with 'zoom'... I could have walked into the road for a better shot if you'd have preferred.

I vowed to rent one for my birthday in June. Who’s in?

After walking for such a long distance we’d definitely earned food. The honey roasted cashew nuts just weren’t enough (although they were delightfully yummy). We perched our bottoms at a table outside the Southbank centre, at Giraffe. In the sunshine with a chilled bottle of Rose, what more could you ask for?

Well a foot massage would have been quite nice, or the England rugby team – but it was very pleasant without.

Wine on an empty stomach is never a particularly good idea, especially when staggering your drinking for a night out, and we’d probably got sunstroke (let’s face it, all Britons over react when some usual weather occurs!)

We left the restaurant a little merry, but prepared for a great night out in Clapham Junction.

All we had to do was select an outfit. As women with too many clothes, this was going to take a while….

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

...And then there was a weekend in London (Part II)

Carrie and I woke early Saturday morning. I’d managed to convince myself that she’d already got out of bed and made coffee, but this had in fact been a dream. There was no coffee in the house.

I may not have woken to the warming smell of caffeine, but there was bright sunlight streaming through the windows. It was 8am... quite possibly the earliest she and I have been awake. Ever. Oh, there may have been an occasion at University when we stumbled in at 8am but that’s an entirely different story. But that could have been someone else. Sections of University life remain a bit of a blur.

As we’d agreed, we made our way out to Notting Hill Gate, ready to fight the masses to meander down Portobello Road. Secretly I hoped that someone might throw orange juice over me, but since I am not an international film star, I think the awkward romance would be amiss, and it would instead result in a heated confrontation along the lines of “...Why don’t you watch it, mate?”

I took the standard photographs of the road signs – you shall never remove the tourist from my inner-self. But I was able to be a little more subtle than the hoards of Spanish groups ( you could tell from their guide books to 'Londres'... top notch observation skills. MI5 here I come!) .
Although I had the added advantage of subtlety I was snapping away on my iPhone rather than my super duper makes-your-bed-too camera. (It of course doesn’t do that, but it does so much more than just take a photograph that I haven’t even learnt it all yet.)
It had to be done.

Upon arrival at the beginning of the market in the sunshine (it was so amazing), we were greeted by the musical talents of many buskers. Did you know Portobello Market is one of the only markets in London where you do not need to acquire a license to perform? but don't try to sell EP’s, otherwise the market officials hunt you down. Don't say you weren't warned.

If you get a spare moment, break away from this blog (but come back to to it if you will) and pay a visit to this band
Not only did they (The Robbie Boyd band) have prime position on the market; one of the first available free spaces and on the sunny side of the road , they had also attracted a large crowd of spectators. Each of them was smiling and bopping along to the sweet sounds. Check them out, I’m sure you’ll understand why.

Also , pay a little visit to see this band (they also played sweet melodies at the markets and plenty of venues around London town...)  Another of my favourites. Check them out at local gigs.
So Carrie and I are wandering in the pleasant sunshine on this Saturday morning. We perused many little vintage stalls and markets, and we couldn't help but think again of bumbling Hugh Grant and his house with the blue front door, and that lovely British film.
“Then suddenly it’s the weekend..”

It was.

“...And from the break of day, hundreds of stalls appear out of nowhere, filling Portobello Road right up to Nottinghill Gate...”

He (or rather Richard Curtis) is right.

“…And thousands of people buy millions of antiques, some genuine…”

Now there were some beautiful pieces...

“…And some not so genuine.”

...I did see the same locket twice. I’m even actually pretty sure they were identical even. Definitely not an antique – more likely an aged copy.

I could quite happily have lost myself amongst that market for hours. Looking at all the beautifully hand-beaded silk dress, animal skin handbags (definitely touched one that was totally unaffordable and should never have been on a market stall) and the pewter tankards. Not quite sure what the obsession with pewter was, but there was plenty of it around. And I stupidly didn’t have the sense to ask – so that shall remain unanswered until next time…

Unless of course, one of you fancies a little investigating adventure, and a reason to visit The Hummingbird Bakery . Mmmm. Yum. The smell of sweet sickly things was almost enough to make me wander in, but instead I resisted and drooled at the window.

Carrie and I didn’t walk as far as the end. We got to the Kurt Geiger shop by the food stalls, had a browse and then wandered along the route back, looking at the opposite side of the road.
And passing (for the second time) the strange busker playing Meatloat 'Bat out of Hell' from a CD player, with plastic guitar (not disimilar to that of a Guitar Hero tool), wearing one flipper and surrounded by a random assortment of objects. He was collecting monetary offerings from the public in a trainer.
I feel that in London, people accept these things are fairly normal and refrain from asking questions.
And the tourists swarmed.
Quite what you're El Chico would have to say about this when you returned home to Spain, I don't know.

So content were we with walking and spending little/no money we decided to continue our walking adventures and jump aboard the tube to Embankment.

We alighted, dawdled across the Millennium Bridge, with the obligatory stop to photograph the river down towards St Paul’s Cathedral and the Gherkin. I’m sure there are many tourists across the world with identical photos, and I really don’t mind if mine matches any of those.

Because there will be many more adventures to come with a half decent camera…just not necessarily on this trip.

Monday, 27 February 2012

...And then there was a weekend in London (Part I)

Friday was a standard day at work I must say. Nothing even remotely out of the ordinary, except that I booked a train ticket to Balham. Lovely Balham which is feeling more like my home from home each time I pack a weekend bag and pay it a little visit.

To be more precise I actually pay Carrie a visit, and to be honest when she lived in Clapham Common I said the same thing about there too. So in actual fact I think South London is my home from home and I’m harbouring not-so-secret desires about moving there.

But enough of that -  The move is some way in the distance yet, on account of having an incurable shopping addiction and a limited resource of pennies.

Anyway, I drove home at the speed of light, hastily threw an assortment of clothes in a wheelie bag (previous trips have taught me that excess walking makes a shoulder bag uncomfortable and impractical). I prayed that there was enough variation to make an outfit or two to get me through the weekend’s frivolities.

Like my day, the journey up was uneventful. However I should like to ask for some clarification the etiquette regarding asking other travellers to turn down their music in a carriage not marked ‘quiet zone’. I know I have covered this in previous entries, but it still remains a little undecided. Should I have turned to the ignorant man behind me and asked him to turn down his mp3 player of choice? If I wanted to listen the beautiful melodies of garage, R’n’B and hip hop like he did then I would have brought my own. But alas, I did not and nor did I want to listen to the ‘tss tss tss tss...’ for the journey. 

I didn’t turn around and say anything. And neither did anyone else. But when the refreshment trolley came through the carriage and offered him drinks and snacks, he didn’t have any money. I almost offered to purchase him an overpriced caffeine fuelled beverage in exchange for silence. Unfortunately he found some loose change before I had the chance to turn around in my seat.

I arrived in Balham quite content and warm, for Friday was a balmy night in London, and waited at crossroads outside the station for Carrie. She was in Sloane Square for leaving drinks and arrived a little merry, I was keen to join her in this state. We dumped my bag at Chez Carrie – a top floor maisonette shared with three or four of the other sex (I can’t confirm numbers since I have never seen them all in the same room) and another female companion, and made our way out in to the night.

Destination? Balham Bowls Club.

Yes my friends, I too wondered what this venue would have in store, since I  (like you) associate Bowls with retired people and green lawns – never to be confused with bowels, which could lead to all manner of bizarre conversations with the elderly.

But we walked in to a packed array of quirky rooms, each decorated with the flair of yester-year. A very homely and welcoming pub (which serves fantastic looking food). Carrie and I were unable to locate a couple of chairs inside so decided, that whilst it was warm and not raining, we would move our beverages (a bottle of house red – don’t mind if I do) outside. We propped ourselves up against the wall and were the only people without a cigarette. Having never wanted to light up in my life, I was overwhelmed by a brief and fleeting desire to stand with a lit cigarette in one hand and wine glass elegantly poised in the other. Thankfully it passed before I could act upon it; it seemed that the smoke was doing enough to make me feel like one of the cool kids.

The only downside to moving to London is that I will have to practise ‘freezing’ my face when it comes to paying at the bar. After the wine disappeared (and we had moved inside, the temperature dropped quite quickly) we opted for another favourite of mine, the good old gin and tonic. I’d love to say that I can tell the difference between our array of widely available gins, but I would of course be lying. So I won’t.

I stood at the emptying bar and made my request, “Double?” the young lady serving me asked. “Oh why not,” I thought to myself, “Yes please, with a slice of lime too.” She dutifully obliged and told me how much it was. It took every fibre of my being to stop my chin from hitting the bar top and creating a scene. I know that by London prices it was very reasonable, but when you come from the suburbs on the south coast, it’s a shock.

I paid, left, and returned to Carrie. Now a fully integrated Londoner (she knows the tubes and bus routes without checking a map), she shrugged and sipped her gin.

It got late and Carrie suggested locating a food serving establishment. Red wine and gin does not form the base of a nutritious diet so we found a kebab shop. It was run by some lovely Greek men, who were extraordinarily busy and dealing with a large number of hungry drunk people. We joined a growing queue. Next to us were two Irishmen who had a hard time believing that Carrie’s transatlantic tones were Bermudian. It was one of many stages in life where Carrie has had to convince strangers of her childhood home. Soon they got bored debating with her and stepped outside to eat their now-cold kebab in a polystyrene box.

I can’t recommend it, purely for the fact that I don’t remember what it was called and I probably would only suggest going when inebriated because let’s face it, your tastebuds don’t care what they’ve got. But it was on the Balham High Road, opposite Waitrose (that’s how you know Balham is posh!) and it makes crackin’ chips. I opted for a little salad and garlic sauce with mine, just to get in some of the government backed 5-a-day.

We clambered into bed a little after three am. Fed, drunk and happy, we vowed to get up early to be at Portobello Road market.

My weekend of London adventures were only just beginning.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

...And then I realised that a lot of time had passed.

February 3rd? Are you having a laugh? Really? That was the last time I wrote.

And I was doing so well.
Apparently I can't keep promises.

So it's been a busy couple of weeks. I can't tell you what's been achieved in the time that I haven't been writing - because I don't have anything to show for it.
But that doesn't mean that I was doing nothing.

I think I spent a lot of it sleeping.
Do you ever have those moments where great sheets of tiredness creep up on you and no matter how much sleep you have it never goes away?
Just me.
Well I think that's what I was doing.

I was also trying to make myself a better person. I shouldn't really say 'was' because I'm pretty sure I'm still doing it. An ongoing project some might say. And yes... I even bought my first 'self help' book. Its quite inspirational, was recommended to me by a friend, but I couldn't bring myself to endure the mocking from standing infront of those shelves in a particular corner of the book store. So I ordered it online.
I've read the first page. But what inspirational words they were.

Then I procrastinated from my helpful book and decided that I knew a better way to help myself.

There was a wardrobe declutter (or perhaps massacre is a fairer term), an enrolment onto a journalism course, a series of events planned (thank you Vogue open day), and a busy social life until mid-march. So I'm packed up with things to do.
Please note that 'gym' was left off here.
And also the beginners ballet lessons which I started on a whimsical New Years resolution and have turned out to be the most dispiriting decision ever made. What good is a ballet dancer, beginner or not, who cannot get both feet off the ground?
I knew I shouldn't have cried on my first trial lesson, where as a small child I begged Mumma not to take me back. I could probably be a world famous ballerina now. But ah, c'est la vie, it was not to be.

After my elephant-in-a-tutu lessons finish, I'm going to give salsa lessons a go. Who knows, maybe this British bird has a little spanish blood in her...And maybe, just maybe I'll be a little better at moving my hips than pointing my toes and holding my tummy in and standing one leg ALL at the same time.
Or it might be another mad impulse decision.
But this exercise (dancing and running on a treadmill like a loon) have been left off because I don't think its making me a better person... just a person with a larger lung capacity and better muscle tone.
Note - these effects are only apparent when I practise or regularly attend the gym, otherwise it's pretty redundant.

I guess to better myself, I need to do something challenging, rewarding - something I've never done before.
Any ideas?
I'm all dried up.

I've spent the last couple of weeks in a process of reviewing. It's been two years since I left my little bubble at University. Two years since I shut the door on my lovely little home in Exeter and handed over my key.
And like the weeks that I have been missing from here, I've achieved nothing.
I have little to show for myself other than additional pairs of shoes, a disgusting addiction to prestige fashion magazines  and my desk job.
There's a plan of action afoot. I'm a mission to improve this situation.

And step one (in the true essence of 'me') was to visit the shops. In order to better myself, I must reinvent myself. Cut myself loose from the drudgery of my over-familiar wardrobe and the remaining rubbish left in it (I couldn't ditch everything on account of having to be naked 24/7 until such a time I found replacement clothing.).
I visited the shops this evening and paid £3.40 to park (When did that go up? It's not like there's a man specifically guarding my car and making sure that no mothers with pushchairs smash my wing mirrors). I wandered, gingerly touching beautiful fabrics and colours, mentally trawling through the well thumbed glossy pages of Vogue and Elle, to replicate the 'look', that aesthetic I crave.

I blew a vast amount of money (thanks mastercard.) And continued to peruse more shops for additional items.
However, then I realised how much I have planned over the next month. I calculated an estimate (hooray for mental maths - aka phone calculator) for my next month's social agenda and panicked.
I'd gone a little mad.

I returned to the store and chose to ask for a refund on the items I'd purchased less than forty minutes ago. Never in my life have I felt so judged and ashamed.
I knew that the sales assistant thought I was some out-of-control shopaholic with debts coming out of her ears. In a less dramatic form, I am. But it was not for her to judge. (if she did not judge then I am sorry for raising a non-apparent issue)

I miserably walked back to the car. Angry at no one  but myself for wishing that clothes made me happy. They don't.

So friends, I beseech you. It seems that I am incapable of purchasing and keeping anything (you have read about many returned items). I need your words of encouragement in assorted changing rooms of many stores. If clothes themselves don't make me happy, the process of buying them with wonderful friends should.
Treat me as a mannequin, dress my in atrocious ensembles. Laugh, joke and drink coffee with me. Shopping is a social affair and as long as I leave with a few new additions to squeeze into limited space, I think I will be one step closer to being a better person.

I'm pretty sure my book doesn't mention 'retail therapy' at all. But what do these guru's know anyway?

N.B  I don't always talk about clothes and shoes and other idle things. I promise that I do have a brain, I do use it, and I will be using it to my best advantage. But a very wise woman said that you should never dress for the job you have, but for the job you want.
So I'll use a small portion of my brain first, get  super fantastic job and then put my brain into turbo mode and impress everyone with my knowledge. But I'm sure there will still be idiotic things to write about and stupid adventures I take myself on. So if you'd like to stick with me, I'm sure it will be a fun journey to the top.

Friday, 3 February 2012

...And then it was apparently the coldest winter on record.

So just in case you missed the barrage of weather updates on facebook this morning (I'm now ashamed to admit I was one of them) you will know that the Met Office declared that today and our freezing temperatures had made it the coldest one yet.
Quite how one day of -11 degrees (well done Wales on scoring that) justifies a whole winter I don't know. But there you have it. The logic of the Met Office.

I did partake in the frivolities this morning by screen shot-ing, (get me and my iphone jargon) my weather report and posting it to the masses.
Yes, Locks Heath was experience -7 degree temperatures.

So I wrapped up in oh so many layers of clothing, hats, scarves, thermals... you name it, it was somewhere on me. Only to find that it wasn't quite the artic temperatures I was experience.
I probably looked like a right dingus scraping the ice off my car. There were probably some nosy curtain twitchers laughing at me.

Also ... another word of advice from the wise (or not so wise as the case may be) - dress down day in the office, does not mean 'slob day'.
This morning in my haste to get out of the door with enough time to de-ice my car before the hazardously icy (it wasn't) journey to work, I grabbed whatever warm jumper was laying at the top of my drawer.
Now, usually I love this jumper. Its cosy. A little tatty. And pink.  I put it on without a seconds thought and dashed out.
There have been many dress down Friday's at work. Every Friday in  fact, and I've been there nearly a year and a half. So really, I should know the drill.
But I got in the office, took my coat off and have never felt more like a slob than I did in that moment.
It was awful.
No one was especially 'done up' - but ladies, I know that you all know that feeling of being totally under-dressed.
I liken it to being naked in a room of people. For the record I haven't done that either but I think it does the same thing for your self-esteem.

I thought I might use my blog to teach that lesson, to prevent the shame for others. I'll have to work double hard next week to regain some office credibility.
No one commented on it, but I know there were conversations by the water-cooler and in the post room. You just know these things .
Call it female intuition if you will.

So, its a Friday night. I'm not on the M25 tonight. Frank is coming here next weekend. So I'm off for some R&R with Miss USA and Miss Hendo.
R&R for us is comfort food, the sofa and entertainment brought to us by the Hollywood delights - Nancy Meyers, Richard Curtis, Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts.

Have wonderful weekends all. I'm praying for no snow - much to my sister's disgust. I'm travelling to London town tomorrow for a girly day of shopping, drinking and possible theatre-ing. And then Birmingham land to see Mini Dodd 2 at University.
I feel the realisation of student living may come as shock now that I'm in the real world. But I suppose if I threw a pizza box on my bedroom floor and hung a dirty sock from the radiator, I might be part way there!

Thursday, 2 February 2012

...And then my dreams were shattered.

What good is a ballet dancer who can't jump?

No need to read that again. It was correct the first time.

  The English National Ballet shall never choose this adult beginner for the lead in Swan Lake... ( or 'Duck Pond' as Mumma Dodd so cruelly joked one evening.)

I'm not quite sure what I was doing when I was a mere young 'un, but I clearly wasn't with the other kids learning how to lift two feet off the ground. And now I'm paying the price.

It was quite embarassing really. A room full of people, a mirror to reflect it all back and one person who looks like a total moron and a bit of a wally.

Oh well, I suppose I could look on the bright side... its just another thing I can learn. Another skill. Another 'talent'. But really, I don't know how I will fit it in, I'm very busy as it is, without needed to learn things I should know from childhood.
This is what you get from not paying attention.
Ruined dreams and no talent.

And on a totally separate note, if you haven't happened to come across this already may I suggest perusing the youtube channel , 'Watch, listen, tell'.
I did what the name told me.
These are some very gifted musicians. Playing 'au natural' as it were.
Look out for... Emily and The Woods.
(I know her)....

And all this recommended to me on the good old facebook (don't forget to buy your shares soon) by some good friends of mine, 'Delve'. (Check those guys out, I know them too!)

Have wonderful evenings won't you all? I'm going to immerse myself into some wonderfully delectable acoustic music.

Thank the world for you tube. Maybe I'll watch some ballet dancers prance and jump just rub salt in the wounds.

...And then alas, it was still very much winter.

But I saw my first daffodils.  They are peeking their little heads up already.
Madness, really. I’d much rather stay where it was warm rather than stick my face out in the icy cold.
Like my bed. I’d quite like to stay in bed on cold days. None of this runny nose, chilled ears and stinging eyes from the bitter wind please. I don’t mind crisp autumn. But year on year, I am still never prepared with enough layers to sufficiently keep out the cold.
It’s February and there’s still ice. Ice, I tell you. When does spring set it? Daffodils shouldn’t come up when there’s still ice about. Be like me, little flowers, stay in bed!
Ice causes me so many problems. Well… actually only one. I hate de-icing my car. And I still haven’t compensated enough time in the morning to get ready, eat, and warm up Herman. You think I might have learnt by now. Especially with little Brian and his inability to de-ice properly. At least Herman has a heated windscreen.

I scraped and scrubbed the ice off my car this morning, but the winter sun was causing a ridiculous amount of glare that even sunglasses couldn’t prevent. I couldn’t clear the screen because the water nozzles were broken and Herman’s heat takes a little while to kick in ( I never said the heated windscreen worked quickly). I’m practically at work by the time the car is at a drivable temperature. Apparently I don’t drive far enough for the engine to get warm…
I thought I would speed up the glare-clearing process this morning. There was a lone bottle of water rolling around in the passenger foot well, the remnants of a drive to Ipswich to see Frank.
“Ah ha,” I thought to myself, “I shall pour this over the windscreen to clear it.”
Big mistake.
5 minutes of ice scraping was wasted, when the water poured on the car turned to ice too. Immediately. It was quite impressive. Had I not been in semi-bad mood (no lunch money!) already, I might’ve paused a moment to marvel at the gloriousness of science.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

...And then it was February.

"But where did January go?" I hear you cry.

Well my friends, like all good things, it came to an end!
Not that January is all that great, sort of like a really long hangover... Or worse- one long Monday!

There isn't much to do in January. It's a bit dead. Everyone has the post Christmas blues.
No one had any money because christmas ate it up.
You mope about, wishing the spring would arrive to make winter nights less dull.

Personally I enjoy winter nights... Sitting in the pub. Pint and pork scratchings. Dog by the fire place.
(I'm actually just scene setting here. I can't stand pork scratchings, especially the ones with the hairs. Bleurgh)

But when spring arrives you can't do that anymore. Out come the wellies, raincoats and umbrellas... The British monsoon is in its way. How glorious.

So actually, even if no one else likes it - I vote we keep the 'in limbo' weather and funny seasons ... Bright blue skies, brilliant sunshine and -8 temperatures. It's a bit novel really.

Roll on February if you must. But perhaps bring some more fun things if you could... The January-haters are a little fed up now!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

....And then there was a grown up decision.

And then there was a grown up decision
Oh what a truly atrocious Monday,the details of which I will spare you, partly because they’re the same as most other Mondays, and partly due to the horrors of reliving my worst day of the week.
Papa Dodd told me that I have turned this into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Apparently if I believe it will be a good day then the chance of it being one, is much higher than not believing. Hmmm, I remain sceptical. But, I shall try. Watch this space.
So after this particular Monday, I decided to take myself shopping. I have little/no money this month but it seemed like a good idea at 5 o’clock as I was leaving work. I thought a meander around the shops might lift my mood. Usually it does.
I walked into one store, a store that I have always considered to be reasonably priced. This store shares its origins with a famous flat pack furniture company – another competitively priced store. It seems the Swede’s are connoisseurs of middle market merchandise. However, on this occasion, this clothing store let me down.
I have never thought it’s range expensive until I picked up a “wool” (probably acrylic, judging by its itchy-ness rating) jumper, threaded with a cream ribbon design – but ultimately just a jumper, and scoffed at the price tag. Yes my friends, scoffed. That awful noise that means I’m poor. Scoffing happens when you literally can’t spend the money or …can’t justify the spending of the funds.
£30.00? You want £30.00 of my money for this?
I say want but actually shops are more of an “invitation to treat”, there isn’t a contract until you hand over your cash. So technically speaking they weren’t making me spend anything. They can’t demand my money solely on the fact that I lifted the jumper off the rails.
Since there wasn’t a sales assistant holding a gun to my head, I had three options:-
1)      Put the jumper down and leave.
2)      Take the jumper to the till, pay and then return it three days later when the realisation of such an unnecessary purchase sets in
3)      Take the jumper to the till, pay and be happy.
Now, I know myself well enough that judging by the mood I was in, 3) was very unlikely. 2) was slightly more likely but involved the hassle of driving, parking, walking, returning, walking, reversing, driving.
So I surprised myself. I replaced the jumper (in the right space I hasten to add) and left.
I did this in a number of other stores….
“Do I really like  this enough to spend my pennies?”
“Will I actually wear this again?”
“What do I have to wear this with?”
“Why have I just picked this up?”
“I’m most definitely not a size 6 so put the shoe down.”

It was the most serious shopping trip I have ever had.
I returned home with a pair of tights.

Me, three months ago: “Hello, my name is Amy Dodd and I have a shopping addiction.”
You know when you’re turned a corner with your shopping habits when you walk out empty handed.
Me, now: “Hello, my name is Amy Dodd and I have a little bit less of a shopping addiction but it’s still pretty bad.”
…Before I get up on my high horse and start preaching to the masses about my changed ways, I think I should admit something.
Earlier that day I had made a charge to my Mastercard.
I made a charge to my Mastercard for a skirt.
A skirt* that I desperately needed** for a conference later this week.
A conference that starts tomorrow. (So I paid express delivery)
*[I say ‘A skirt’ – really it was the same skirt twice. One in each in two sizes, hoping that one might fit.]
**[I say ‘needed’, it’s not like I don’t have anything else to wear. But I saw it in The Sunday Times ‘Style’ magazine and knew that it would be fabulous.]

I think I have a long way to go until I can claim to be cured. At least I was grown up enough to know not to spend any more money.
But a real grown up would never have gone to the shops in the first place.

Monday, 16 January 2012

...And then it was a very messy weekend indeed.

Except that it wasn't meant to be messy.
My weekend started as any should, with the desperate flight from work. Ah it was glorious.

Having returned home one evening during the week in a truly detestable mood ( I even hated myself that night, so why anyone wanted to be near me is an unsolved mystery!)Papa Dodd decided that to cure me of my awful strop, he would take me to the cinema.

What a treat! I was taken to see cinema's most recent contribution to the black and white silent film era. 'The Artist' is truly fabulous and a wonderful piece of picture making. If (like me and many of my friends) you studied, or have a love of all things theatrical and dramatic (yes there is a difference)..,.and you perhaps call yourself a luvvie, then my fellow thespians you must rush at once to your nearest cinema purchase a ticket and immerse yourself.
I quickly acclimatised to the lack of sound effects, but for some reason still expected a slam each time the door was shut.
The soundtrack was great, so emotive and a story teller in it's own right. Never one to underestimate the musical score of a film, or the choice of soundtracks - but even the most unmusical of people would find it difficult to ignore the choices made in this film. The music is the only noise in the cinema. Unless of course someone insists on inhaling their popcorn. (Unfortuantely inhaling is the correct verb. Chewing would have caused less disturbance).

So my Friday night was a cultured affair, followed by a decision to take chinese food home with us. Mmm sometimes you just got to love noodles. I think we had a film on too but it was three days ago now so I don't remember.
Whatever we did watch it was enough to put me in bed so late that I missed my early morning rendezvous with Miss Hendo and Miss USA.
Note to self - if you hit your alarm when dozy, always double check you hit 'snooze' and not 'off''.

So not only did I wake up late, I missed the craft fair which Miss Hendo wanted to attend for her birthday shenanigans. Apparently it was a world of wool. Miss USA who has a fond spot for sheep went along, however I can't help think it must have been a bit of a nightmare for her. All that wool in one place means there are a lot of sheep who are very cold somewhere else.
I'm sorry that I was an hour and a half late ladies, but at least I didn't miss the champagne and eggybread breakfast.
Thank you for waiting for me. (My apologies for it being more brunch than breakfast).

Did you know ladies and gentlemen, because I only found out very recently, that Bucks Fizz is two parts orange juice and one part champagne and a Mimosa (much better sounding) is one part juice, to two parts champagne (and much better tasting!)
So happily merry on bubbles by 1 o'clock, we couldn't decide what to do with ourselves....

Then I clocked the Monopoly box, tucked oh so neatly beneath the television stand.
Never one for winning games and not being the slightest bit competitive (and totally gormless about money) I am quite possibly the best person to play with because I have no idea.
We played at Uni once - myself and my longbrook family; Miss BBL, Mr Furry, Miss Brazil, Frank, Mr BBL, Mr Tall, Miss JH and Inappropriate Jack. And I was mugged out of so many properties and swindled out of millions because I was too totally clueless to differentiate between an awful deal leading to bankruptancy or something that might help me....
Ha ha, but not this time friends.
Monopoly City and I are new found life partners and I shall sweep the floor with you all. I have never, not once in my life won a game of monopoly (neither has anyone else due to the precious hours of your life you lose) - we however, being sensible creatures, set a time limit.
Now I'm not one to gloat....but I won. By a long shot.
I have never held £10,000 0000 in my life, and monopoly money or not ... it's very unlikely to happen again.

So once the novelty had worn off (or not) it was time to get ourselves ready for drinks in the lovely waterside village (?) of Hamble - a favourite for yachties, sailors and loud excitable females and male companions. (For the record, that was us.)

I thought it would be a pleasant night, a little drinking, food, a little more drinking and then a soft stagger home.
How wrong could I have been?

The funny thing was, I think I was the one who initiated the first round of shots in the olde worlde pub where the landlord was almost definitely wasted. Intravenous drip to the barrels anyone?
I should have known it could only have got worse...
And it did.

No one was sick.
Or even remotely ill.
But we did find ourselves in taxi's on the way to a casino. I should like to point out that if I fired the starting gun on getting plastered, I was not the one to suggest the gambling.
I gambled, but not my money. Mr Officer (Miss USA's cousin-in-law, related by blood to Mr Scotsman) had very generously paid for dinner, a few rounds and then found himself very much up on his luck within minutes of entering the casino.
As if his kindness and generosity hadn't been on show enough, he donated funds for each of his newly found (in same cases) friends and family to fritter away and to learn the art of gambling.

Well I lost mine, then won it all back thanks to Frank's lucky numbers and then positioned myself at the blackjack table to watch Miss USA's arithmetic skills in action when trollied. I must say they're are a lot better than mine even when sober.
Satisfied that I had lost my money and won it all back, I was content that my gambling days were over. Until a very sleazy drunk foreign man across the table kept winning and decided that I must be his lucky charm. He just kept giving me chips.

When we left I'd nearly doubled my money. Fantastic news.
A new pair of shoes might be purchased soon - or having learnt from my monopoly win, I could invest it in a (albeit very small) property.

I think it was 5am when I rolled in.
Sorry parents for waking you up.

I spent all day recovering, didn't even get out my pyjamas. The recovery period is defintely unrelated to the volume of drink and more two how old you are. Gone are the days of rolling in at 2am (smashed) and leaping out of bed for a 9am lecture and all-day rehearsals.
Oh why can't I be a student again.

N.B One should never play Monopoly with friends who don't know you very well. There's something about vast quantities of money that releases your inner demon. Don't say I didn't warn you.

N.B II After a craving that began on  Friday afternoon, I finally succumbed. This evening I went out in my car and brought back a little greasy dinner wrapped in brown paper. Mmm fish and chips. Now I'm never one to crave for fast food and after my massively unhealthy weekend, I thought this would be the last thing I wanted to digest, but it was so good. So. So good. And now by get fit regime shall rot in hell.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

....And then it was definitely a Tuesday.

Fact. Yesterday was Monday.
Fact. Tomorrow is Wednesday.
Fact. Today is between yesterday and tomorrow.
Fact. Today is Tuesday.
Yet somehow – at 7am this morning I truly believed  it was Saturday morning.  Hit the snooze button and rolled over.
Then – Poo. It’s 8am and I had half an hour to shower, wash my hair, paint the face, dress myself, eat something, knock back mug of coffee and get myself to work to be at my desk for 9am for a phone-call.
Did I make it? Of course not.
 I was late.
Did I scrimp on morning activities to save some time? Definitely.
I flew in shower, flew out again. Please be aware of the lack of hair wash (an additional 10 minutes)and excuse my awful hair. Cue  the hair tie and quick up do. Majority of mess is hidden.
Painted face? Yes, but trés simple make up.  Five minutes. Puff of powder,  a little mascara, splodge of  blush and… done. Am I now looking sick and washed out? Yes.
Dressing myself? Poo. What to wear, what to wear, what to wear? (Realistically I should plan the night before to prevent these situations . I know lots of ladies who do this - so it isn’t that desperate!) I opted for the ‘fail-safe’ black- no colour co-ordination involved. Which shoes? Arrrrgh… No. No. No. No. … just choose any pair! Nearly walked out in odd shoes. Not because I’m going round the bend with my very premature mid-life crisis, but because I was doing the crazy, “…Hmm which shoe? I will wear one of each and decide…” thing that only women do and used up the 10 minutes I’d save by not washing my hair.(It could have been ‘Odd Tuesday’ as well as ‘Inside out Monday’ but I realised just at the last minute. Can you imagine the horror of walking round the office in odd shoes? You can’t pass that off as anything except a god awful fashion faux pas!)
Eat? Does yoghurt count as eating? There’s no chewing involved and no stodge to digest. Just dairy and no fuel. Coffee? No. Forgot the boil the kettle. So I left the house feeling no more awake than when I launched myself out of bed…
Can I just finish this week now before I make a huge mistake? Like forgetting to put on any clothes? Maybe I need a chaperone to ensure my safety?

Monday, 9 January 2012

...And then it was going to be a bad week.

Monday mornings are not a good time to get dressed.
You know it's not going to be a great week when you've been wearing your underwear inside out.
Talk about away with the fairies...

Sunday, 8 January 2012

...And then there was a wonderfully wintery walk.

...Except it wasn't all that wintery since it was quite warm and the layers of clothing and scarves were a little too much for us in the end.
I say us, because I did not walk alone.

My companions for this lovely sunday afternoon stroll were delightful entertainment and proved to keep me in jolly good spirits on the long walk back . Miss Hendo and Miss USA were my motivation to keep my little wellington boot adorned feet moving forward. Poor Charley dog was suffering too, and  a bit muddy to say the least.
Miss Hendo and Miss USA were prepped as well as boy scouts on an adventure. They had band-aids, tissues, water, snacks and a pen knife. Between the two of them they could have built a camp for us, should the situation have arisen. I had the mutt's poo bags (she can't carry her own - no opposable thumbs) and an iPhone. Useful tools I'm sure you'll agree.

It was an impromptu plan, something I which, on Friday, I thought would be a truly wonderful idea. It was. But I am now quite sore and know that this is a sign of things to come over the next few days. (But like the mad woman I am, I shall still return to the treadmill tomorrow and burn off some more christmas energy.)

We walked along this pleasant route, a delightful meander through woodland and the River Meon for company. It's a disused railway that runs through the meon valley in Hampshire. It's great because it's flat, making it a popular choice for bike rides for many families with small children or adults on bikes who don't fancy the challenge of the South Downs!

Herman got us to Wickham (because walking there first is just plain ridiculous) and we picked up the train line at the site of one of the old station. This English country walk is also marvellous because there are a number of quaint pubs a long route. The proper kind, with flagstones or bare floor boards, roaring fires, low beams and a pub pooch. Charley likes these pubs too - they've give her a chance to rest her tired paws and if she's lucky she might get a packet of pork scratchings.

We walked a 10 mile round trip, except it was up a straight line and back again, for a good old pint of cider at The White Lion in Soberton.
10 miles!!! And we're each feeling the burn already! The dog collapsed when we got in and I think I have done the same.
I think the extreme tiredness is related to the 5 mile power walk back the car to beat the impending darkness...we didn't take too much notice of the time on the wander up. But we made it back to the car with no welly blisters, without a compass, before the dark arrived properly and the rain set in. We were lucky.
We'd make great boy scouts, as long as we travelled in straight lines.

Friday, 6 January 2012

...And then there were high winds.

So we've heard about the leaves on the line, and 'wetness' making it impossible for electric trains to function, signal failures, missing carriages, trains stuck at platforms, and single lines making it impassable for trains on particular routes.
But those delightful people at South West trains had a new one today...

...A fallen tree was blocking the line.

Yes my friends, those mighty winds have wreaked havoc in Scotland and the North, but apparently us little southern fairies have not escaped the wrath of Atlantic winds.
This tree on the line (which our train later 'ran over') caused a ridiculous delay and a number of train changes.
Did you know that diesel (cross country virgin trains) can run over trees but little standard (aka. pitiful) electric ones do not possess these super powers? I say, let's convert all trains to diesel if it means they will surpass all changes posed by leaves, wetness, snow etc.

This tree meant that my usual once a month, hour and forty minute commute took me three hours to complete. In actual fact it was long than that since I left home at just before 6.30am and did not arrive in the London office until after 10am. Ridiculous.

Luckily for me I had a certain Miss Hendo to keep me company. How we chatted and laughed once the caffeine had kicked in and we realised the true hilarity of being delayed by a tree. Ah the simple things in life. It's okay commuters, see the funny side, have a coffee and sit back and enjoy the ride... Or stationery viewing carriage (as is perhaps more correct).

However, I came to notice (as I have on many a train journey) .... there are rather a lot Kindle's around. (or Kibble's as I once heard them call. Much to my delight.)
Now I understand the ease, and the lightweight, portable, super slim, amazing aesthetics. But is there really any need to carry around 50,000 books in your bag?
I read a lot. And read multiple books at a a time. ( Not simultaneous page turning, just multiple plots/authors/genres/ etc) But I'm talking... three. Four at the most. Not the contents of the National Library.
And are we really so lazy as to elimate the need to turn a page.
No wonder our obesity statistics are continually increasing. If we can't even lift our thumb and first finger, there's no hope for new Olympic athlete's born of the British commuting public.

I shall not be purchasing one.
They've (the generic 'they') have even invented a spray on substance which makes your 'Kibble' waterproof so you can read in the bath.
Personally I quite like the thick, rippled pages that a book gets when accidently dropped into a hot bubbly bath. Where's the fun in electrocuting yourself in the name of  R and R?
(that's 'Rest and Relaxation' for all you workaholics with your noses stuck in electronic libraries.)
Anyway. Enough of that. We all know how I feel about books.

So, whilst stuck on a train between stations, Miss Hendo and I had ample time to read (not just skim through) the Metro, only to find out some very bad news pertaining to a particular coffee chain, who's logo is green and relates to the Cosmos and Money (guessed it yet? Well seeing as it's practically Friday and brains are slowing down, it rhymes with  "Bar! Duck!")

Unfortunatley this popular coffee house have just changed their loyalty scheme. I'm a huge fan of loyalty schemes and this was the best. Just pre-load a 'gift card' with cash (thereby tying your coffee 'allowance' to them) you get additional free shots of espresso in any drink and also free syrups. As well as fantastic offers and occasionally a free muffin.
Now they've introduced some crazy green star thing. You collect these green stars (the advert, or the webpage it directed you to didn't tell you how you earnt these though. Error!) and then when you have 25,000* you qualify for a free tall beverage and at 50,000* you get free espresso shots/ syrups.
So unless there are 1,000 stars to every penny, perhaps a correct ratio when considering the cosmos, then I am not impressed by this change.
Change is not always good.

* These numbers are random. Plucked from thin air. Please do not quote anyone. And a message for the coffee house this relates too - please do not take me to court. I like caffeine. And I like your coffee chain. Very much. You also produce an exceptionally good skinny blueberry muffin. And thank you for putting a coffee house atthe A3 Guildford Services. It makes me a happy driver. That is all.

And speaking of change (or at least we were) - that is exactly what I had to do.
For the first time ever, I caught the wrong train home at Waterloo. I was totally convinced that it was platform 7 but apparently confusing plaforms, numbers and locations is what happens when you're trying to navigate round commuters, read timetables and write notes for a very important blog.
I realised this at Woking.

Which is the first stop. Luckily. But it took me ten people to leave the carriage, another load to get on, the doors beeping to clarify they were shutting and the announcer voice telling me "...the next station is Guildford..." for me to realise that "Oh Poo! I do believe I'm on the wrong train."
I jumped up out of my chair , collected my belongings (because they cannot be left unattended) and lept through the doors as they were closng for imminent departure, only to land in a crumpled heap on platform 5.
It wasn't quite this theatrical of course. But I did have to move pretty fast, and I was wearing a maroon wide-brimmed hat and camel-coloured cape, so I feel that a little theatricality is never a bad thing.
I was however, very aware of the many pairs of curious eyes who had seen me exit the train at the last minute only to stand there bewildered for a few minutes before working out what to do.
Being a temporary visitor at an unknown station is quite disconcerting. No familiairity. Signs not where they should be. And you actually have to locate the correct platform rather than walking there by default.
What an effort.

Oh and the other change, which is actually like a future action for change, is 'me'. An eagerly awaited package from Zara arrived today. I love that shop, and I thought best to brave the sales by shopping online. Excellent. Coffee in hand. No queues. No pushing. No getting hot and sweaty. But also - no trying on prospective purchases in the changing room to save money and time but not buying and everything is a bit of a risk.
It arrived (after an argument with the courier company, but that's a whole other story and will create another increasingly absurd tangent), but unfortunatley my post christmas podge has arrived (a little late, and badly timed. I even went to Pilates yesterday) so these items that definitely should fit, don't.

My plan is to see if the 'podge' is water retention after a weary day travelling and very little hydration in which case I will return to normal size next week, or whether this is actually my new costume for the imminent future....
Only time will tell.

Tune in next week to see if I did return the jeans.

Bet you are an excited bunch of fans/readers/fellow bloggers/ bored internet browsers.

I'm sorry that my life can be no more exciting than the prospect of a potentially shrinking abdomen.
But I have taken action this evening. I even made a poster (how school girl chic) for my wall to remind me to do sit ups every night... I actually do want to keep these jeans. And the shoes. Unfortunately I can't shrink my feet and the store ran out of the size that I secretly knew were guaranteed to fit.

But fear not. I will resolve my problems. And you need not worry because it's now Friday (it wasn't when I started) and the weekend is almost upon us.

(I won't mention that statisticaly this is the worst weekend in the year, because it's the first 2-day weekend after Christmas and New Year. There are no parties. It's January. And we all blew this month's pay cheque on paying off the festive season. I won't mention it because it will just make you sad.)

Happy Friday.