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 trĂ©s 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 them...to 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 retuning...so 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.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

.... And then 2012 arrived.

So there you have it fellow earthlings, the new year is in.
I trust you all drank the regulation glass, or two, or bottle of champagne?
Feeling the effects today?
Ditto my friends, ditto.

Or rather to be fair, it's not so much hangover more like food coma and sleep deprivation.

After last night's festivities which Frank enjoyed and Miss Hendo joined us for at chez Dodd, today has passes by in somewhat of a blur! David Attenborough on the telly, a comfy sofa and a cheeky nap! ( or two)

I have of course made the statutory resolutions ( a number of them, in the hope that at least one will survive till February). I won't share them because I have a feeling that secret ones are better kept.
I will just say that one involves a transformation into a prima ballerina!
No more questions!

Happy new year everyone - may this year be a fantastic one for each of you ......