Wednesday, 24 December 2008

What Day is it? Happy Christmas, one and all.

I know, I know. I have been remiss. I've failed in my blogging duties and have not been here for weeks and weeks and weeks. This is because I have been everywhere else. You name it, I probably went there. The amount of time I have managed to spend at my hovel on the hill this month can be totalled in hours, not days.

I have composed some excellent blog entries in my head during that time. A very Freudian Christmas was one of the better ones, inspired my dream that I was so busy that I actually missed Christmas day entirely. At one stage there was the risk this might happen.

I am now not particularly excited about Christmas because all festive excitement is overshadowed by the prospect of January and a skeletal diary. I amy actually be able to live in the place where I live. I can move out of the car and stop eating quite so regularly at service stations. It's almost too much to think about. It may be my best Christmas present ever.

In between the jauntering around for work I have found time to deck the halls with holly, cut a tree down and throw on every decoration and make wreaths for the doors. None of this for my house but all for my parents house where I am spending Christmas. Chutney Mary and the Box of Frogs will both be here, as will Special Boy (the youngest much adored brother) and his wife, who he lovingly calls 'his nest of vipers'. Aaaa, Young Love.

So, I wish you all a happy Christmas laced with the usual family rifts, bitter looks, excess of chocolate and boxing day hangover and a tree laden with expensive presents that you actually want.

Happy Christmas.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The Bag of Joy

Here it is, the bag of joy that is all my very own. I am resisting the urge to sell it at the moment (even though they are going for over £200 on e bay!) as this is the only time in my whole life I have ever owned anything remotely fashionable and coveted.

It is also the only thing cheering me up from a hideous week of work ahead of me, a week made worse by the flu / cold / bubonic plague that has descended on me in the last 24 hours. I wish you all bags of joy - quite literally! I'm off again tonight to London, France tomorrow (just for the day you understand), then London again on Thursday before Dorset on Friday and back to Wales again on Friday night. The bag of joy is coming with me! Having said it was the only thing cheering me up, this isn't quite true. The best 12 hours of my year are lying just round the corner now.

You see, in between vast amounts of work, Thursday afternoon and evening are an interlude of great fabulousness. Princess Malice, a friend of many moons (genuinely called Princess Malice at one of her jobs which I can't be impressed enough by!!!) and I are going to The Berkeley Hotel for tea. I'm worried I won't actually be able to eat said tea because all the cakes and biscuits are in the shape of shoes, clothes and bags - designed by Alexander McQueen no less! Look -

Following this sybaritic indulgence we are going to the Annie Liebowitz exhibition and then, to round our day off we are going to see Eddie Izzard at the Lyric Theatre.

Now I love and adore Eddie, last time I saw him live I laughed so hard my stomach actually hurt, a lot, for a whole day afterwards. I am determined I shan't succumb to the plague as nothing on earth can make me miss this afternoon and evening of sheer heaven. I mean seriously - cakes, biscuits, shoes, bags, glamorous exhibitions and then comedy. Does it get any better?

Now, must head off and pack the bag of joy for my trip. Au revoir for now....

Monday, 8 December 2008

I have a big red sack - Ho HO Ho!

I went to London and back yesterday. I'm slightly unnerved by the fact that I scarcely remember the journey back. Is that a bad thing???? I was cross all the way down at the fact that I could have been at home rather than driving a 500 mile round trip for work when I have a hideous ten days of travelling ahead of me, and in fact have to go back to London on Tuesday afternoon. I grumbled to myself a lot.

The meeting was fine though in a freezing cold house filled with junk mail, repellent carpets and no coffee. It finished around 4.45 so I thought I would dash into Gap to see if I could get the 'must have' Mulberry bag that they are doing as a limited edition. For some reason I thought nobody in the world except me would know about this. Turns out it has been in Grazia, the Saturday Telegraph and probably the Martian Times and that the world had been queuing on Oxford Street since dawn in the hope of getting their little mits on one of these must have items.

I stood in the minute Gap I had chosen and looked crestfallen. I muttered about driving four hours each way to get one of these precious items and then a solitary tear trickled down my dewy cheek. The woman next to me said not to worry, nobody had got one of them and her mother had queued with a picnic and a tent all weekend and still failed. I sniffed inconsolably.

At this point I should point out that though the bag is a beautiful shade of red, and is under a £100 rather than the more usual £400 I wasn't that broken hearted. I hadn't really thought I would get one, I'd just thought it would be nice to be with the times for once, rather than so backwards I am only just buying the in things when they return to fashion for the second or third time. By this point though I was verging on earning an Oscar so I couldn't cheer up that rapidly.

The bored assistant dealing with me pointed out that they hadn't had the bags anyway - only Oxford Street had stocked them. I looked mulish and said that wasn't fair. She looked a bit more bored and pointed out that a limited edition meant 'not that many' so they couldn't be everywhere. I did see this but refused to look any happier at being thwarted in my consumerish urges.

At this point one of the Sales Girls said "Didn't somebody return one of them to us earlier today?" My little ears pricked up. "Really? you might have one? Can I get it?" Instantly, my hopes were dashed. "Sorry, it's gone". Second sales girl said there was a helpline I could ring and she would get me the number. I wondered whether there were psychiatrists lined up on the other end ot deal with disconsolate shoppers and stumped off after her as she went to fetch the number.

When I returned, number in hand, misery in my face, first sales girl came up to me and said. "What the hell. We have the returned back on hold for someone but they haven't come in and YOU CAN HAVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!". Unbelievable. I skipped down the stairs after her and watched her open a secret cupboard and reveal the lovely bag. I barged past an inept man trying to buy T shirts at the till nextdoor (turned out it was Harry Enfield - not that I noticed) and handed over my exhausted plastic. Two minutes later - the bag was mine!

Now I am the proud owner of a genuine 'it bag'. The question I have for you is this. Do I keep it or do I sell it on e bay where they are going for £160 upwards???

Aaargh decisions decisions.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Frittering away a Saturday

I was going to write a seriously ranty blog entry about the joys of being a woman and waking up at 5am to discover that you've got your dates muddled up and need to track down tampax in the dark of pre dawn, cursing and swearing all the while at life in general. I lay in bed and considered the euphemisms for 'period' and why they all feel a little mealy mouthed. Here are some that I came up with:

The Curse: popular at school as it had a cool edge to it and accurately describes how it feels sometimes
Monthlies: I hate this one. It sounds like a Good housekeeping delivery, and a little too homely for me.
Period: I know, I've sort of covered this one but I don't like saying 'I have my period'. It's clinical, completely undescriptive and it niggles me for reasons I can't fathom.
Surfing the Crimson Tide: This is nicked from the film Clueless, but I always rather liked it. It's a little lippy, has humour (which nothing else about it does) and somehow is gross in an appealing way.
Monthly Flow: Just as bad as monthlies frankly, and there is nothing remotely 'flowing' about being hunched over in agony, feeling the size of a house with an extension and wanting to hide under the duvet.

Anyway, I wasn't going to write about the joys of my monthly flows was I? I was going to write about the fact that it is, SHIT, 3.15pm and I have done absolutely nothing of any use all day.

On a normal weekend this would not necessarily be problematic as I could be a whirling dervish on Sunday and get loads done but I have to drive to London and back for a meeting (yes, on a Sunday) so that rules out any frenzied efficiency on the home front.

I am going back over to the house right now to get cracking.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

How Green is my Valley?

How green is my valley? I'll tell you - VERY GREEN with just a smattering of snow left, which is decreasing as I watch. Overnight, my world has turned to literal SLUSH. Everywhere I go, there is transluscent snow that soaks through everything and then freezes your feet off. For some reason it has stayed on the road for far longer than the fields, and if it freezes now I shall be ice bound, which will make a change to snow bound, but will be equally irritating. However, I won't complain or speculate on the worst case scenario, because I'M FREE!!!!!!! I can go anywhere, do anything, the world is my oyster and I'm going to shuck it and look for pearls.

Well, actually I'm going to go to the physio, the picture framer and the supermarket - oh, and the butcher and the post office.

Ah, the joys of freedom!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Snow, snow, snow

I'm having a rubbish 24 hours. Made it back from London yesterday and got my car stuck on my drive in the snow. I can officially tell you that there is nothing worse than feeling your car slide back down a hill with you in it, no ability to steer and no brakes! I finally ground to a halt and wedged the car into place with large rocks, having fallen spectacularly on my rear carrying said rocks into place. I then walked home the last quarter mile with my luggage and the loyal hound frisking around as if it was his birthday.

With some help from neighbours I got my car out of the ditch this morning and up the hill but I can't get it back off the hill so am stuck with walking on and off the mountain and borrowing other people's cars if I want to get anything done. Grrrr. I have spent the last hour walking to the nearest grit bin and filling my trusty wheelbarrow with grit to try and salt the road to the house in the hope that by tomorrow it will have melted a path for me to extract me and my car on. Unfortunately I just looked at tonight's forecast and it said more snow and temperatures of -6 so I may have to do the whole thing again tomorrow.

What is so ridiculous is that the snow in the valley has all melted. There is nothing more frustrating than having a view of green fields and being snowed in. It makes you feel like a completely inept GIRL!!!!!

Today, I really am Single and Surviving - Just.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Awards and Luxuries, and it's only Monday!

It's a frosty morning and I am mid way through my packing, but as I have the concentration level of a gnat on drugs, I thought I would run over to the office and check out what was happening in blogging land. What do I find? An award! For me!!! Thanks Bevchen - I think you've made my week!!! Here it is.....

Katyboo has also pointed out that I forgot my luxury item on my Desert Island Meme. Shame on me! I wondered about the Loyal Hound, but then I worried that he might not like the heat, so my luxury would be.............. (drum roll please), a saucepan please Bob.

I mean how am I going to do cordon bleu cooking on a desert island without one? It's unthinkable, and since Ray Mears is already going to be living with Katyboo on her island and he wasn't an option, I think a pan may be the next best thing.

Now, must go and finish packing, defrost the car and go and earn a living. Happy Mondays everyone!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Memeing in the snow

I've just got back from yet another bout of travelling round the country. I woke this morning to snow and am sitting in my office with my coat on, the fire lit and the emergency heater on.

However, rather than write about the cold, I am going to do a Meme that Katyboo sent me. I have to do my own Desert Island discs. OOoooh. So, here goes with my 8 tracks and one book.... They are bound to be random and as soon as I have chosen them I will want something else instead.

Peter Gabriel The Book of Love: This is a great song that will make me weep bucket loads. Why this should be a good thing on a desert island beats me but there it is...

Captain Beaky & His Band: This has to be on here as it reminds me of my childhood and the four of us singing along at full volume to my parents despair. We had a record of it and we played it so much that it literally wore out.

Richard Burton reading Under Milk Wood: I'm not sure if they would let me have this or not but I love it. I can never remember any poetry and this is something I'd love to know by heart. It's my welsh origins rearing their ugly head again.... Go on, let me have it!

ELO Mr Blue Sky - I know, it's cheesy but I want cheesy on my desert island. I can dance around in my grass skirt and generally make a fool of my self to this one.

JJ Cale - the tricky thing here is to pick which track? Aargh. OK I shall go with Cocaine, no, After Midnight please. This whole album reminds me of University where I had a room mate who would play nothing but JJ Cale. For years I couldn't listen to it again but now that I have rediscovered it I sort of see where she is coming from. It is the ultimate chillout music.

Elvis Presley A little less Conversation - this seems particularly apt for a desert island, plus it reminds me of all the cooking jobs where I seem to end up playing Abba, Elvis and Dolly Parton and dancing like a maniac whilst I burn things!

The Magic Flute Tamino Main: This is a fab piece of music and plus it is 7.00 minutes long so value for money or what! It has to come with me.

Crap - how did I get to 8 this quickly?? OK, reduce everything down to just one last song. Umm, err, Don't panic, ok. Think. Errr.......

Fine - this one then: Thunderbird from the Thelma & Louise Soundtrack. This has to be one of the best piece of electric Guitar playing ever. I mean ok, it's got a sort of end of the world feel to it, but if I needed to do some air guitar playing whilst on my island, this would fit the bill just fine.

So, I still have to choose a book. I've given this one a lot of thought and I figure as I already have Shakespeare and the Bible which are both packed with preposterous drama, infeasible action and cross dressing, I need something a little different so I'm back with poetry; WH Auden to be specific. He's my all time favourite poet and if I could take an anthology of all his work with me there's a good chance I'd send the rescue ship away empty handed when it finally turns up....

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


It's cold. Bitter, chilly cold that eats through the tips of my fingers. I'm not sure that when I take my shoes of my toes might not remain in there. I think they were frostbitten about an hour ago as I certainly can't feel them. I'd like to stay and chat but I'm going to go and light the fire and shiver by it instead!!!!!!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Looking for a date.

So, he rang! Pilot man telephoned as promised and he was perfectly nice and didn't seem to notice that I hadn't shaved my legs. It turns out it was his birthday (45) and he was sitting in the car park outside his children's school waiting for them to emerge when he rang me. My heart didn't go pitter patter at the sound of his voice but neither did I fall asleep with boredom or throw up into a handy bin at the sound of his dulcet tones. So, a good start then.

We ended up talking for about half an hour and he wants to meet up. In theory this is all well and good but in reality it is a different matter entirely. As you know, he is a pilot which translates into a crazy work schedule. I may not be a pilot but I have a mad diary which is so full that I tried to book a meeting in on Christmas day because it was the only thing free and I had forgotten about Christmas entirely!

He's e mailed me a list of dates that he is in the country and I have responded with a desperate e mail giving him a 5 minute slot ten years from now. Oh god, have I taken playing hard to get to a ridiculous level without even meaning to?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The Cyberman Returns

Some of you may remember the frenzy of excitement in my life when I signed up for yet another dating website and fended off the attentions of deranged duck man, Ali G look a like and other fine specimens of manhood. The only one who I remotely liked (pilot man) had given me his phone number and I actually called it. Three times. None of which he answered or replied to.

This made me feel like a stalker and I was intrigued by the reactions of multiple girl friends who were horrified that I had called three times. They were convinced this made me look desperate and needy. I didn't think three calls was so terrible. My motives were pure:

Call 1 - the usual 'hello, here I am calling you as promised, give me a ring if you want to' type thing.
Call 2 - 'Not sure you got my message so I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and here I am if you want to ring me back'
Call 3 - 'Just to let you know that I'm not going to bother doing this again you time waster who led me on to think you liked me when you can't even be bothered to return my calls'

I confess that I was slightly mortified by the entire thing. I didn't think I had done anything too appalling in ringing him, particularly as he instigated the idea, but I put the whole thing behind me and, to be honest, went off the whole internet dating thing a bit.

After all, I'm very used to being single. I have only ever been out with one person and that was for just three months. I am the girl who always ends up as the good friend. I'm not a complete dog, neither am I a blossoming supermodel. I'm just normal looking. I'm pretty self sufficient, I can cook, I have read the odd thing, I know who is Prime Minister both here and in other countries, I earn my own living and on paper that all looks like a reasonable thing. It just doesn't translate into lovers queuing up at my front door. I don't know why not - if I did I expect I would have done something to sort it out by now.

Most of the time it doesn't bother me. In fact there is a definite upside to being single. You can watch what you want on the television, eat what you want when you want. You can stay up reading a book all night wearing your ugliest but most favourite pyjamas. You can fail to shave your legs and nobody will ever know. The list of pros is pretty long. The cons are there too but I try not to think about them as it only leads to depression.

There are times though that I find the arbitrariness (hmm - not sure that's a real word) wildly frustrating. I'll walk down the street and see indifferent looking girls hand in hand with normal looking guys, I see my friends pairing up and breeding for Britain and I don't know why I sit, swinging my legs, on the proverbial shelf. Not knowing how to fix something leads you to making one of two decisions. Sobbing on everybody's shoulder or getting on with life regardless. I chose the latter. Apart from anything, when I sob a lot I don't look pretty doing it. I am a snotty, red nosed, red eyed mess. I've never mastered the art of a single tear trickling gracefully out from a waterproof mascaraed eye. Maybe that's my problem?

Anyway, back to the cyberman. It must be nearly 4 1/2 months since the stalker incident and I have never heard anything from Pilot Man again. His subscription to the website had expired and I had pretty much given up on him. Then yesterday, the website sent me an email saying that there was a message from him.

It was a nice message. He apologised for never returning my calls and said he wanted to ring me but felt he had to check in case I hated him for snubbing me. He's going to ring me today, around five pm I think. I now have butterflies in my stomach and am wondering if I should go and shave my legs before he rings.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. Maybe the tide is turning.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Keep the chain going......

E mail chain letters drive me crackers but the one below may be the only thing worth sending on.......

Hello, my name is Billy and I suffer from guilt for not forwarding 50 billion f*****g chain letters sent to me by people who actually believe, if you send them on, a poor six-year-old girl in Scotland with a breast on her forehead will be able to raise enough money to have it removed before her redneck parents sell her to a travelling freak show.

And, do you honestly believe that Bill Gates is going to give $1000 to you, and everyone to whom you send 'his' email?

How stupid are we?

Ooooh, looky here! If I scroll down this page and make a wish, I'll get laid by a model I just happen to run into the next day!

What a bunch of bullshit.

Maybe the evil chain letter leprechauns will come into my house and sodomise me in my sleep for not continuing a chain letter that was started by St Peter in 5AD and brought to this country by midget pilgrim stowaways on the Endeavour.

F**k 'em!!

If you're going to forward something, at least send me something mildly amusing.

I've seen all the 'send this to 10 of your closest friends, and this poor, wretched excuse for a human being will somehow receive a nickel from some omniscient being' forwards about 90 times. I don't f###ng care.

Show a little intelligence and think about what you're actually contributing to by sending out these forwards. Chances are, it's our own unpopularity.

The point being?

If you get some chain letter that's threatening to leave you shagless or luckless for the rest of your life, delete it.

If it's funny, send it on.

Don't piss people off by making them feel guilty about a leper in Botswana with no teeth who has been tied to the arse of a dead elephant for 27 years and whose only salvation is the 5 pence per letter he'll receive if you forward this email.

Now forward this to everyone you know. Otherwise, tomorrow morning your underwear will turn carnivorous and will consume your genitals.

Have a nice day.

Billy Connolly

PS Send me 15 quid and then f##k off.

Trying out new careers

Over the last four days I have been diversifying from me normal work and have tried out the following:

Friday Night: Cleaner - I was staying at my sister's flat (she was away) and as the painters have been in the place was a hell hole of dust and detritus. I spent two hours maniacally dusting, hoovering and polishing. Why is this always easier to do in somebody else's house than in your own?

Saturday Morning: Art Dealer - I have a friend who is an exceptionally good artist. She has had 5 seperate solo shows on Cork Street so she must be good. However, she is currently trying to raise the cash to frame the paintings for the new exhibition and rang me to ask if I knew anyone who might want to buy some of her work at non gallery prices and would I do the Wheeler Dealer bit for her since she is absolutely incapable of selling her own work. As it happened I did know a couple of people so on Saturday morning I drove to Greenwich and sold £10,000 worth of paintings!!!!!

Saturday Night: Photographer to the stars - The infamous party finally arrived and having managed to stay almost sober (and awake) until ten o'clock I ran around taking photos of people getting steadily drunker. Hopefully they will be what was wanted as I was the only person taking photos! I hate doing things like this. It is far too much pressure and I am not a good enough photographer (particularly at night when I can never get the light right) to justify such a responsibility. Won't be doing that one again!

Monday - Cook again. By this stage I was so tired that I nearly fell asleep in the ham and mustard pie as I was making it. However, I did manage to make the triple layer chocolate cake and Queen of Puddings successfully.

All in all, having reviewed the last weekend, I am just glad to be home and back to normal. I wonder if I can remember how to do my real job?

Friday, 14 November 2008

Staying awake to Party.

Tomorrow night I am off to a party, in London, in black tie. It's all so glamourous that it's hurting my brain. I am half way to London now (waiting for my car to be serviced since you ask) and for once I think I have remembered everything. Stockings, dress, shoes (both of them this time thank god), jewellery, makeup, hairbrush.... BUGGER. I've forgotten my chic little evening bag. Aaaaargh. Oh well - buy another. Stuff recycling and thank god for disposable consumerism.

Anyway, back to the point, this party has been on the books for months now. Drawing ever nearer whilst I hide my head in the sand about the fact that I have not lost weight / got my hair cut / bought new clothes / miraculously transformed into Rene Russo or Madeline Stowe. The party has an 'old fashioned' format. This means that it starts at 10pm and goes on till 3am and you are in charge of feeding yourself and staying awake long enough to get there for the start. I forsee two problems with this.

1) I fall asleep at nine pm and miss party entirely
2) I go out beforehand, get horribly drunk, and miss party entirely.

Neither option will win me friends of influence people. I have to turn up at this glamour fest because I have promised one of the hosts that I will take photos through the night for her and she even rang to check that I had not forgotten this offer. Normally, I quite like the opportunity to hide behind a camera and take a reasonable photo. Unfortunately my camera is broken and so I am borrowing one from the Mad as a Box of Frogs sister. She unhelpfully pointed out that the last time I took photos with her camera, they were 'rubbish'. Hmm, confidence hits all time low then. I am staying at her flat tonight and will have to take endless practice shots of my feet or something until I master the intricacies of a self willed SLR digital camera that hates me.

Quite aside from the awkward hours of this party, there is another factor to consider about it. It is a Seventy First party - not one filled with octogenarians, but a combined 50th and 21st. This means that I shall be surrounded by two unutterably terrifying groups:

Group 1: glamorous 40 - 60 something Londoners. This is a group of people who you'd never catch dead watching reality television, reading heat magazine or even knowing who Simon Cowell is. They are 'arty' and they all live beyond their means with style, wit and panache. Nothing is too mundane to take trouble over on the style front and even their tea towels will be carefully co-ordinated with their worktops in their bespoke kitchens made by a darling polish craftsmen. They travel around Europe the way I go between the Spa and Londis. They eat sushi to stay thin because 'dieting is so boring'. They are a group who think the countryside is charming for weekends, as long as they are in the Cotswolds and can go do Daylesford Organic and then some charming antiques shop. They will have seen all the latest things at the theatre, galleries and opera house and will be dressed in Sonia Rykiel, Issy Miyake and other people who I can't spell and whose clothes I think are faintly odd and so are probably uber uber cool. They'll look faintly surprised when they find that I am still living in Wales, having brushed off the original move as a cunningly disguised effort at rehab, and they'll tell me how well I'm looking whilst secretly wondering why I didn't pop into John Frieda for a quick wash and set before the party. Don't get me wrong. They are generally a nice bunch, but they make me feel gauche and awkward just listening to them.

Group 2: No better really. This will be 120 or so ragingly cool and skinny 21 year olds. They will be wearing equally expensive kit (student loans seem to be spent entirely on joining Fifi and Trixabelle in Phuket and on designer dresses for the endless round of parties they go to). Their hair will be long and glossy and they will flick it irritatingly towards anyone in a half yard radius. I expect most of them won't actually talk to each other but will spend the evening text messaging their neighbours and drinking Cosmopolitans. I was NEVER like this crowd. When I was 21 I was slovenly, broke and only just weaning myself off Snakebite and Black as a glamorous drink. The worst of this group is that secretly I envy them their confidence, panache and sheer arrogance.

So, I'll photograph these two species in their natural habitat and like a true nature reporter I shall hope that my presence doesn't disturb them and alter their behaviour. I may also have a cosmopolitan or two, just for courage under fire you understand.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Suicidal Mice

It's that time of year when the nights draw in, the temperature plunges and the mice go on their annual house hunting spree looking for their winter digs. They are pretty fond of my house. This has a great deal to do with the fact that it is the only house for a long way, an even longer way when you consider the length of a mouse's leg. Autumn thereby seems them coming joyously into my kitchen, eating old candles, boxes of matches left in kitchen drawers and running along the larder shelves.

I normally resort to mousetraps in the battle to stop them squatting at my house. However, in a fit of irritation last year I resorted to buying poison for when the pesky rodents returned. I put the plastic container under the sink and never even opened it.

This morning I was rummaging through the hellhole that is the under sink cupboard when I noticed some small white plastic shavings. Darn it. Mice. They're back. Depressed I started looking to see exactly what they had started destroying. My hand fumbled across a container which I pulled into the light. Sure enough a neat line had been nibbled around the lid, the mouse version of a tin opener was in operation here. Then I looked at the label. MOUSE POISON. Apparently, I have suicidal mice. I'd forgotten I had the stuff and had never even put it out and they were literally chewing their way into the packet.

Is life so bad for mice today? Is the economic armageddon affecting them too? Mouse savings have gone up in smoke, tunnels are being repossessed and inflation has pushed cheese out of all but the richest mouse's reach? I didn't know. But judging by the state of the poison jar, things are bad out there......

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

In which I prematurely age.

For the last month or so my knee has been playing up. It aches a lot of the time and nearly killed me when I went to the cinema by sending jabbing pains along my leg as a protest against being folded accordian style into the tiny cinema seats. It even wakes me up in the morning by aching as it lies in bed. Now, I've always liked the idea of going weak at the knees. There's something old fashioned and bizarrely romantic about it. It turns out that it falls into the same category as swooning, having the vapours and lying on a chaise longue. They are all highly overrated and rather painful.

I have assumed that my weak knees are a result of endless driving, foolishly going running in the summer and more endless driving but today the farmer, passing by on his quad bike, looked at my jean clad knee in a knowing way (ooh er missus) and muttered darkly that it sounded like arthritis. ARTHRITIS? Please, tell me he is kidding.

I can't have arthritis. Old people have arthritis. I'm 36. I know I live in a damp cottage that should be wrung out like a sponge but I'm not ready to decay quite yet. Please don't tell me that this is the beginning of the end.

I've booked an appointment with a physiotherapist tomorrow and I'm hoping that he will be a) Dr McDreamy / George Clooney b) single (only applies if option a is true) c) give me a magic pill that will instantly fix tiresome knee and also turn me into a size 10 goddess with a perfect wardrobe. Physiotherapists can do that can't they?

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

In which I actually get some work done.

Typical. Just as I get into the swing of things in the office, and start getting loads done, I realise that it is nearly half past six and I have to get changed and go out for dinner. Darn having a social life - it's such a chore! On the bright side there are stacks of envelopes filled with goodies for clients, clients who have been patiently waiting for said goodies for quite some time.....

Why is it so hard to get your head into that 'work space' where you get loads done? I did virtually nothing useful on the work front yesterday despite having hours and hours in the office. I think I used to be better at it (the head space thing that is). Probably when I worked in an office with other people beavering away industriously next to me and guilting me into at least making an effort. Now, I can fritter away hours achieving far too little. The rare moments when I get into my stride are so pleasing that I wish I had them more often. Think how much I could get done if I was efficient all the time. The world would be mine (cue evil laugh - Ha Ha Ha Ha).

I've just noticed that the Loyal Hound has flattened himself into a doormat by the door to the yard in the hope that I will don my coat and boots and take him for a moonlit walk. He's such a romantic. Actually, this may have more to do with the fact that he is a doormat with crossed legs, than any desire to walk paw in hand with yours truly. He is less fond of efficiency days since I forget about his urgent need to investigate every mouse hole within a three mile radius and concentrate on making money instead. He is very unfinancially motivated which might explain why he chewed my wallet up when he was a puppy.

Tomorrow I have a friend coming to help out with some filing and accountancy stuff as my year end is rapidly approaching. I can't bear the fiddliness of doing all the receipts and things (though I do like the feeling of satisfaction at the end of it all!) so I'm always happy to fob such chores off on willing suckers, sorry, friends who I will pay cash to in a brown envelope. Lovely though help is, it is typically coming at a moment when I would rather have my office to myself to keep going with my evil plans to - well, get all my work done and sent out by the end of the week. Perhaps not so much evil then as boring.

The supper invitation is a very last minute one. An e mail fell into my inbox an hour or so ago asking if I was around and wanted sausages and mash with some friends. There is never a good reason to turn down sausages and mash and it makes it worthwhile having to get smartened up and open and close three gates on the way out. I don't have any wine to take with me so they'll have to have some Marrow chutney instead. Lucky them.

What are you all up to this rainy Tuesday night then?

Monday, 10 November 2008

Things that are good about miserable winter weather.

I am determined to put a brave face on the delightful weather currently lashing the hills. I have thereby dug out my remaining few brain cells and compiled a list of things that I like about the winter. Here it is.

1: Spring follows winter, and after that - summer!
2: Winter means that I can wear multiple layers of clothes, thereby hiding the pasty (in texture and colour) flesh beneath.
3: Soup. I like soup and winter is a good excuse to eat lots of it. Cream of potato soup, parsnip and ginger soup, carrot and apple (surprisingly good) soup - the list just goes on.
4: Open fires. Although these also involve a tiresome amount of work in the way of stacking logs / coal and clearing out ash, nothing beats a dark winter night with a crackling fire.
5: Hot water bottles. I do like a good hot water bottle on a cold winter's night. (It's just not the same in the summer, however cold our summer may actually be)
6: No more mowing of the lawn for months and months. Hurrah.
7: Satsumas. I love them and will eat bags and bags of them when they are in season. I should be clear about this. Tangerines and Clementines do nothing for me - it's only satsumas that set the winter fruit machine bells ringing for me.
8: Autumn colour - there are moments in late autumn (frankly, might as well be winter) when the leaves have all turned to transluscent shades of amber and ruby and when the light catches this display it can stop your heart it's so beautiful.
10: Darker evenings mean that I read more because I don't feel I have to go outside and make the most of the daylight. Current book: Gone with the Wind which I have never read before.
11: Snow. This one comes with caveats. Snow is good if I have a fully stocked larder, don't have to be anywhere else, have a good stash of firewood and coal, and don't lose power, or my water. Then it's lovely.
12: Sunday lunch with all the trimmings. Again, this doesn't work in the summer, but it is particularly delicious on a cold and wet winter's day.

There must be more things but I can't think what they are right now. I'm off to eat a satsuma and read my book by the fire. Then, perhaps have some soup for supper.....

Work Avoidance

Finally, some time in the office. Naturally I have done very little work so far and it is already 12.51. Oops. However, I have done some Chrismtas shopping, read lots of blogs, sent some e mails and got some of the post done, including advent calendars for godchildren and a dvd for the nephews. I've also ordered a compost bin for my parents and sorted out a spa day for the mad sister in London's birthday present. Must polish my home halo and remember that I am supposed to work for a living......

Yesterday I finally escaped the kitchen and fled back into the hills. The weather was unutterably disgusting; ice and rain lashing down onto the house and spitting on the fire. I was filled with the urge to tackle the bombsite that is the house. I went through my clothes and filled two bags with stuff for the charity shop that I have finally accepted will never fit me / suit me / be worn again. I also have three boxes for the recycling and two bags for the rubbish bin. My house is now gloriously tidy but the car is packed to the gills with stuff to go to other places. I have filled a drawer in the spare room with the Christmas presents that I have already bought and have done all the washing in the world. If only my office was in such a good state.

I want to go out and get rid of all the stuff in the car, but the weather is still so horrible that I can't face doing the gates that need to be opened and closed in order to get off the mountain. Bah humbug. I'm staying in my office which is warm and cosy as the wood burning stove has finally got going.

Right - I'm going to do some work now. Truly.

Friday, 7 November 2008

My knowledge is gapless, but my menu is filled with them.

Whilst I'm fully aware that I shouldn't mock what is a horrible experience for anyone, my favourite headline on the radio today was this: "a record number of people have gone bust". I now have two rather fabulous pictures in my head;

* Lots of people exploding with a fleshy pop in high streets round the country.
* Lots of people waking to find that their previously non existent chest has expanded dramatically to give them capacious and pillowy busts that will need scaffolding and structural engineers to support them.

It's just how my mind works; taking somebody else's life altering moment and seeing something wildly amusing in my head instead. Oh dear, I'm not sure that that doesn't say something about my callous and cruel nature. Oops.

On a more cheerful note, I have just done a general knowledge quiz that Mia-oia sent me to ( and it turns out that I have NO GAPS in my knowledge. I am a genius. I am invincible. Bow down before me....

Putting the megalomaniac to one side for a moment, I'm quietly getting excited about the fact that next week I have NO MEETINGS AT ALL. Hurrah. This means that I get to spend the entire week at home, I may even remember where home is. I have to get through the weekend first. I am cooking again.

So far the cooking has not gone well and I haven't even got near a kitchen. I may have no gaps in my knowledge, but it seems that my menu plan is filled with holes. I did the menu plan in a daze last Sunday after the babysitting trauma. It was approved by those in the know, and I then sat down yesterday morning to write the shopping list. This was going well until I discovered that the caramelised passion fruit and fresh orange juice tart that I had gaily suggested had disappeared. I can't find it anywhere, therefore I can't cook it. I haven't confessed to this yet and will have to spring pears poached in red wine and vanilla on them instead and hope that they forget I ever suggested the glamourous sounding tart.

Having compiled the wretched list I threw myself, my wallet and the loyal hound into the car and sped off for the sassenach border. Only as I crossed through customs did I realise I had left the vital list at home in my printer. Great. I had to remember all the ingredients for two four course dinners, two cooked breakfasts, lunch and tea and the quantities needed to feed 14 people as a trip back over the border today was out of the question.

I am hoping that all this irritation will mean that the actual cooking will go smoothly. I think I will hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I shall have to go in a minute and start poaching the pears and making the Iced White Chocolate terrine, which according to the recipe which I have just looked at, I should have made yesterday...........

Thursday, 6 November 2008

I have just one thing to say....

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarghhhhh. It's that kind of day.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Thank god I don't have children.....

I know, I know - I haven't blogged for days. Life has been a little complicated and has left no time.

The weekend was taken up with giving a birthday present to some friends down the road. How does it take a whole weekend to give a present? I'll tell you. You idiotically suggest that you could babysit two children for a weekend so that the parents can go away and pretend they are childless, whilst you slowly descend through the Dantean circles of hell that comprise parenting.

I've done all sorts of things in my life I've white water rafted on the Zambezi, herded 150 horses on a Wyoming plain, dived with sharks, done short order cooking for 50 people. I've crossed the salt lakes of Bolivia and seen the wilderness beyond, I've refurbished a house in spain with a builder who speaks no English when I speak no Spanish. NOTHING compares to looking after a five and seven year old for an entire weekend. How do all you parents out there do it? It's relentless. Everything takes twice as long and is complicated by a running battle of wills between you and a person a quarter your size who scares you to death. Even taking the Loyal Hound for his walk was nearly impossible as I was assured with tears, sulks and more tears that it was too cold to leave the house - ever. But we had to go out. With two screaming children in tow our walk lost a great deal of its charm (and length) and I then had a sulking hound to deal with as well.

I'm happy to report that we all survived with no breakages of bones or valuables to blight the scene on the loving parents return. Having made it through the weekend I am now certain that all women and men who think they want children should be forced to look after children on their own for 48 hours - the population explosion would be resolved just like that. I almost booked a hystericalectomy there and then.

Having survived the weekend and relinquished my charges with a sigh of relief, I returned home only to unpack and repack. 5.30 on Monday morning saw me in the car and heading for Northamptonshire for a meeting that went from 9.30 in the morning till 7.45 that night, followed by a 2 hour drive to London. I didn't think it was possible to be that tired.

Today I resorted to chewing on coffee beans to stay awake. My first meeting was a the back end of Acton and I got there to discover the client had been and gone having forgotten that she was to meet me there. Gee, thanks. Late this afternoon, having finally got my work out of the way I decided to go and visit the vast new West London shopping centre that opened last week. Oh. My. God.

I'm not sure what I can say about it, other than the fact that I will never need to go to hideous Oxford Street again. Everything, and I mean everything is there. Tiffany, Prada, Gucci, even Rigby and Peller (obviously, I shop in all these places regularly) are shoulder to shoulder with every other good high street store you've ever wandered into. There are small food stalls everywhere, selling everything from perfect cupcakes with lashings of icing to truffles, smoothies, champagne, or just sandwiches, just in case you get peckish between shops. One of the open areas had the entire Grazia magazine office there producing next weeks edition of the magazine under the curious gaze of the shoppers. Even the car park is cool. Every space has a light above it - red if there is a car in and green if it is empty and at the end of each aisle it tells you how many spaces there are free so no more trawling around the aisles. If you don't like carrying your shopping with you, there is somebody there who will take it all for you and bring it to the car at the end of your sojourn there. It all feels thoroughly unBritish in it's organisation, cleanliness, design and glamour and I'm all for it.

Having exhausted my credit card in defiance of the economic armageddon I have returned to my friend's house for a much needed break before heading back out into the metropolis this evening to meet a friend for supper and the new James Bond film. There's no rest for the wicked. However, this time tomorrow, after another two meetings and a four hour drive, I shall be home on my hill and will be able to sleep in my own bed for a whole two nights before I have to go away again. Roll on tomorrow.

Friday, 31 October 2008

This is no ordinary kettle.....

My house is incomprehensibly damp. Damp to the extent that the kettle plug welded itself into the plug hole the other week and then caught fire. All good, clean fun that resulted in me boiling water in a saucepan for my endless supply of caffeine.

Yesterday, I finally managed to remember to buy a kettle. I was in a rush and didn't study it carefully. It was shiny and I assumed it was competent at boiling water. I needed to know nothing else about it. I'm shallow like that when it comes to kettles.

It was only when I got said appliance home through the icy roads last night that I realised what it was I had bought. This was no ordinary kettle, oh no. This is a STEALTH BOILING kettle. What the hell? My kettle will boil itself in a stealthy way? Now I'm afraid, very afraid. Will I come into the kitchen and find the kettle sneakily boiling away when I hadn't asked it to? Will it boil so stealthily that the water will still appear cold when in fact, it isn't?

When did somebody decide that kettles were too upfront and pushy about the way they boiled stuff? Why was a need for 'stealth boiling' even considered, let alone marketed?

Now, I must go over to the house and peer through the window to see if I can catch it in the act. Making a cup of tea is never going to be the same again.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Snow in the Hills

This is what the world outside my office looks like right NOW:

Think I had better go and find my bobble hat and snow shovel......

Saving the world, again.

Mr Farty has tagged me. I thought he was miles away but then there was a tap on my shoulder, he was there, and I was IT. Now I need to tell you seven random things about me or the world may end. It's that serious.

1 - I can't wear red lipstick or red nail varnish. I really can't. Red nail varnish scares the beejezus out of me when I see it because I think I must have caught my fingers in a mincer without noticing, and red lipstick just makes my mouth far too THERE. This means I have had to give up a promising career as a vamp.

2 - I wanted to be a National Geographic photographer when I was about 11. Then I wanted to be Lois Lane for a bit too.

3 - I can't bear the sound of people clipping their toe nails. Euurgh. Just thinking about it makes me squirm.

4 - I sleep talk in Welsh, though I can't speak it when I'm awake.

5 - If a book is REALLY, REALLY bad, then I burn it when I finish it so that nobody else ever has to read it again. I know, burning books, it's a crime, but so are really really terrible books. I'm just doing my duty.

6 - I have a mole shaped like Gloucetershire on my shoulder blade

7 - I once won a holiday to Peru and Bolivia......

So there you have it, the world is saved for another few hours. The responsibility for it now rests with Home Office Mum, Bevchen, Belgian Waffle & Katyboo1. I know you can do it. Now, hurry Flash - we only have 14 hours to save the earth........

Monday, 27 October 2008

Washing Triage.

Aaaargh. Today is, in a Mrs Tiggywinkle-esque way, wash day. I have been running around like a headless chicken for the last week and the weather has been ludicrous so the wash pile has been building to teetering levels that require the services of a structural engineer to keep it from toppling over.

This morning I woke early, thanks to the clocks going back, and leapt out of bed like a spring gazelle. The bed was stripped within minutes and remade up with crisp white sheets and it was off to the wash mountain for me.

The first wash went well. Three thousand odd socks and anything else I could find that was dark went in the machine. Having extracted the Loyal Hound, the wash went through and was hung out to dry.

Second wash goes in. Extracted it half an hour later to discover that the welsh mud is harder to shift than I imagined and the jeans that I slid down the mountain in yesterday still bear a great deal of mountain on them. Damn.

Stuff it. Hang the lot out to try on the second line because the skies are blue and there is a chilly breeze. Two minutes later it starts raining, hard. Bugger.

Finally, time for the white wash. In it goes and I think fondly of white sheets snapping merrily in the breeze. Ten minutes ago I went in to see if the wash cycle was finished. It isn't. But what do I see, waving merrily at me through the glass window? Aaargh. Something that isn't supposed to be there - something ominously black and a hint of something pink. Please, no. Don't let me have swept up the dregs of the previous wash and put them in with my lovely Egyptian cotton sheets. Oh god.

I wrestled with the urge to 'break glass in emergency' and rescue my sheets. It's too late for them. This is washing triage - save what you can and leave the rest on the battlefield.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Cold hands? Nothing for you then.

I heard an article on the radio today. Apparently, scientists have done a study on whether people holding a warm drink are more generous than people holding a cold drink. Seriously? The world is coming to a boil, there is a some form or economic armageddon taking place, disease is stalking the land (well, lots of people have flu), the sun rarely shines and THIS is what they choose to study? I give up.

It turns out, that if you are holding a warm drink you are more likely to think nicely of other people and to give them lovely presents. If you are holding a cup of ice you will hate everybody and hoard all the presents to yourself.

This seems like one of the more pointless studies ever carried out. How will it change the world? Are they suggesting that if we could only give Mugabe a nice warm cup of cocoa he would start feeding his starving population and hugging Bono? Does the russian army just need a cup of soup in order to start loving the Georgians? Would Nescafe have given Pol Pot a pause for thought and the urge to become best friends with Mother Theresa?

Now, I like a cup of coffee as much as the next person. I'm not saying it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy towards my neighbours, but the caffeine rush does make me feel slightly less deranged and on the verge of mass hysteria / murder. If I was instead given a cup of ice, I would probably think nasty thoughts towards the donor and reconsider our friendship. I don't have a science degree and a research budget of many thousands of pounds and I know this already.

I see no hope for the future of mankind if this is what the great brains are spending their time doing. Oh, hold on - I just made a cup of coffee. Perhaps they are right. I shall send them a large present and think nice things about them (until the mug goes cold that is).

Thursday, 23 October 2008

I think I was deprived as a child....

Yesterday afternoon, I was invited to a party. I was excited, intrigued and not a little fearful. It was a 5 year old's birthday party.

Now children's birthday parties are something beyond my ken. I get asked to godchildren's birthdays but since they all seem to live 100's of miles away there is never actually an obligation to go. Consequently I have avoided this particular delight.

I have memories of childrens parties that I went to in my long lost youth. These involved exciting things like pass the parcel, musical chairs, traffic light jellies in paper cases, and my best dress and shiniest shoes. (look, they were exciting for me ok!) Ah, happy days. There are times when I am looking through recipe books and I see a cake shaped like a carousel, or Nigella's improbably glamourous looking gingerbread men and I say 'sigh, no reason for me to cook these things'. Actually, I realise that there is no reason for anybody to cook such confections - well not unless they wanted theur house and the entire neighbourhood to be destroyed by a pack of wild children on a sugar high.

The party in question took place after school, so no party dresses for a start - just school uniforms. In addition the sensible parents had realised that twenty 5 year olds eating carousel cake would ultimately require the UN and possibly the red cross. I had arrived stylishly late and found the worlds biggest carpet picnic taking place. Plastic sheets were spread on the floor and the mini destroyers were working their way through sausages and buns, carrot and cucumber, slices of melon, boxes of raisins, and then malt loaf and swiss roll. It was all alarmingly civilized. I'm pretty sure I heard two of the boys discussing the American election.

The parents were calmly distributing drinks and other such delights, whilst another mother took crocodiles of small children backwards and forwards to the loo. This is not what i remember? Ok - we never sat on the floor, but there was definitely nothing nutritious at the parties of my youth. If it wasn't made of sugar, jelly or chocolate it didn't turn up. Or I don't think it did. Have I made up my childhood memories? Is this how it really went? A civilised carpet picnic?

I looked around the room. A few wary parents were scattered amongst the children, grasping strong coffee and praying that their child would not be the Taliban at this particular event. They looked faintly astounded that a non parent / relative would voluntarily come to the party and one harassed mother confessed that her normal party policy was the slightly revolting sounding 'dump and run'. I wondered if I had made a horrible mistake and should have developed a virulent contagion that would have prevented me from coming? Was I mad to have come?

Whilst I pondered my own sanity, tea was decreed to be over. The plastic sheets were swept up with all the detritus of tea on them, and put into black bin bags. A cake strewn with candles appeared, was blown out, and everyone sang happy birthday in welsh, and in tune. Then the entertainment kicked in and I realised that I had been robbed as a child. I was deprived. I should have therapy and possibly a cash refund. I may have had cake and jelly, but I never had this.

Into the large Sitting Room came a swarthy and grizzled welshman. His cords were worn, his checked shirt clean but faded and his green huski waistcoat was newly darned and pressed. On his wrist he carried a SNOWY OWL!!!!!

Mesmerised children magnetised around him like iron filings in a science experiment, moving in a wave wherever he went. (Well, all apart from the one boy who felt that snakes that ate girls would have been a far better entertainment). The children were allowed to stroke the feathers and they gasped with excitement when the head swivelled around to fix them with a beady amber glare. This was just the beginning.

5 minutes later, Caspar, the barn owl came to join them. The birthday boy was given a gauntlet and a small chunk of dead mammal. He held out his arm and called out to the bird, which glided across the room and landed on upheld arm. There was the most perfect expression of joy and fear on his face. On the other side of the room his father had a similar set up and the owl flew, silent as only an owl can be, over the awed childrens heads back and forth between father and son. I have to say that I think there is a possiblity that the father enjoyed it more. There was a look on his face of a man fulfilling a childhood dream....

I didn't stay much longer. Not being 5 I couldn't go and stroke the owl and demand the gauntlet and I didn't want to see an unexpected sugar rush hit and the party descend into a madness of feathers, cake and sobbing 5 year olds.

It didn't make me long to have children - the whole thing had been organised with military precision and looked like hard work. But it did make me want to be 5 years old again - just for a few minutes.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Lactose Intolerant Fiends ruining my day.

I am a moonlighter. I can't hide it anymore. I must confess.

In the dark winter months, I have a second job cooking. At the moment I am in the middle of trying to do a menu plan for 2 four course dinners, two cooked breakfasts and lunch. This shouldn't be too problematic. I had the whole thing done in fact. Then I got a phone call. Two of the guests are lactose intolerant.

Damn them. The whole menu has had to be lobbed into the bin and I am now tearing my hair out as every recipe I look at has oodles of cow juice slathered all over it, or cunningly hidden in it. I'm doomed. They'll all have to eat salad, followed by salad, then fruit salad.

Once I have the wretched menu done, and approved, I then have to face the shopping. This isn't something that gives me joy on the best of days, but shopping for the cooking jobs is definitely bottom of my nice things to do list. One of the downsides of life on a mountain in the middle of nowhere is that there is absolutely no emergency shopping option. If I forget something, I won't be able to dash out and pick it up in the non existent 24 hour supermarket. The local Spa's idea of haute cuisine is cooked in a plastic tray in the microwave.

So, once I have done the menu I will have to tackle the shopping list and then spend half a day travelling into good old England to try and find everything. My experience of this? There is never enough Thyme.....

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Bribery & corruption in the awards business

So, to those of you who didn't fall asleep reading yesterdays blog, you may have noticed that I got an award. My first ever. Hurrah. Now, even better I get to give an award myself, which is pretty darn fabulous. So, who to give it to?

I am obviously open to bribery, chocolate, shoes and naturally cash are all welcome. However, your bribes will be useless because my decision is made and the judges decision is final (unless I decide otherwise of course).

So, I would like to give this award to: (drum roll please) - that's Mr Farty to those who know and love him - though sorry that I can't do the link properly. I'm a technical muppet.

and cos anyone who has a vampire smurf should have an award!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Wrung out and Spat up.

I'm back, I think. I'm not really sure. I may be still stuck on an endless plane journey over the Iraqi desert, or lost in Istanbul airport. In just one week, I feel as if I have spent years of my life drifting around the skies and airports like a befuddled sheep. I've been squeezed into tiny plane seats next to men who snore, men who smell and one man who snorted in a horribly snotty way every 5 minutes. The joys of bargain basement plane tickets have been drummed into me in a particularly painful way.

Holidays are generally a good thing and not to be taken lightly. The problem is that the journey back leaches all sense of relaxed restfulness out of you and spits you back up on the shores of Blighty a wrung out limp version of yourself that is more exhausted than the one who left for a rest in the first place.

My return home was greeted by driving rain and howling gales, not quite the same as desert heat, but oddly welcome for its familiarity.

Work is less welcome. I know it has to be done, it doesn't mean I actually want to do it. Having picked up the endless messages and e mails I just wanted to go and hide under my duvet and pretend I hadn't got back. No such luck.

There is good news though. I have an award!!! Hurrah. This was given to me by Bevchen at (darn, can't make the link thing work) and I nearly fell off my chair with excitement when I saw it. Thank you, thank you, thank you Bevchen!!! For those of you who have not seen her blog the address is above, or there is a link on the left hand side of the page! But back to me - How lovely to get an award, and such a lovely one too... Darn have just spent ten minutes trying to put the award on my site and it has gone all shy and retiring and won't turn up... Now you'll think I'm faking it. Grrrr - technology sucks.

Anyway, back to my award winning self; I have now had a red carpet installed in my office and shall spend the evening wearing all my most glamorous wellingtons and long dresses posing for the press and weeping prettily whilst I thank my primary school teacher, the farmer down the road and the Loyal Hound.

Must go, I have to rehearse my speech and check my waterproof mascara.

Ohhh - wait a minute - think I have worked out how to do this thing - here goes....


Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Clean your sunglasses Madam?

It's hot. Desert hot. Cooking Hot. Step outside and get concussed by the wall of heat hot. Are you getting the general idea?

I would have blogged sooner but all the keyboards I got to had melted in the excessive, exhaustive and overwhelming heat. Naturally, everyone who actually lives here (Qatar), is commenting on the delightful coolness of the autumn weather. They wear jeans and shiver theatrically. They are obviously afflicted by sunstroke and don't know what they are doing.

I can't stay for long. I am going into the desert this afternoon for a
'desert adventure'. I imagine that this is to see if it is possible to get any hotter. I shall fall off sand dunes and lie in a dehydrated heap at the bottom of them. I shall watch water evaporate out of the bottle as I tip it towards my gasping throat. It's all good, clean, overheated fun at 110 degrees in the shade, if there was any shade that is.

The cool misting rains of Wales seem an impossibility from here. The sound of the stream tumbling over the rocks and around the rushes, the strange shifting veil of cloud that drops over the hillside to cloak me in a miasma of water. Water, water, everywhere. It's inconceivable.

Now, in my role as travel journalists I shall tell you that unless you have a friend out here that you want to see, this is not a country to come rushing to see. Not just because of the dubious sound of the name, but also because it is deranged.

It's brand new. Seriously new. An antique here is younger than me. It is a country without boundaries of cash or conventions. Everyone wants a waterfront property but there is a limited amount of waterfront in the city. The answer? Build islands - really. Entire new landmasses are being created to thwart the mapmakers and please the rich and bored. Endless hectares of new waterfront are built all the time. They even build seperate, temporary islands for the workmen who are building the islands. Then they remove these to make more waterfront. I kid you not.

There seems to be competition going as to who can build the tallest skyscraper, the shiniest skyscraper, the wierdest shaped skyscraper etc etc. There is one based on a tornado. One that looks like it came from a pin ball machine and one that looks as though the builder read the plans upside down. Most of them aren't actually lived in.

There is the Villagio, a shopping mall based on venice, with gondolas, Gilded ceilings, and every shop you have ever seen in London from Prada to Boots, but none that might remotely be considered remotely Arabic in origin. The place is deranged.

Deranged or not, there are some perks. This morning we went to the Four Seasons Hotel to loll around their multiple swimming pools (six of them at the last count, some with waterfalls). My friend has a permanent pass to this as it is a popular ex pat hang out. The service here needs to be seen to be believed. I shall try and summarise for you.

Arrive, get shown to changing rooms and given locker with dressing gown (padded in case it is chilly!!!!!), slippers, bag for wet swimming costume, hangers for clothes. Get shown shower rooms, sauna, steam room, hydrotherapy room, reflexology pool (pool filled with rocks that you walk over) and Laconium beds. These are not veiled yet sarcastic and witty loungers, but tiled beds heated to 42 degrees. In case you get cold I suppose.

Then head out to pool. Choose one of many shaded sunloungers. Staff mob you from all sides. They tenderly tuck a towel over the lounder and a rolled up towel as a pillow. You are given a mini cooler filled with bottles of iced water. A new member of staff approaches and offers you a cold towel drizzled with essence of rich person, and possibly lemon. You dab your brow. They look pleased.

If you are with a small child, as we were, a second person comes running over laden with brightly coloured toys, armbands and smiles for the little dear. They tenderly offer them at the feet of the golden child and bow their way backwards.

Left alone for a moment, you exhaust yourself walking around the various pools trying to decide which one to get into before finally falling in the nearest one and swimming across it in a desultory manner before returning to your lounger to drowse in the shade.

Within minutes of resuming the sleeping position a voice interrupts you. "Clean your sunglasses madam?"

"Huh?" There before me is a man with a box of assorted glass cleaning clothes and an earnest desire to polish my sunglasses. I feel slightly persecuted and send him away. Five minutes later a new voice.

"Frozen grapes madam?"
"Huh?" A diminutivie and immaculately groomed girl stands before me proferring a pineapple upon which are studded small plastic cocktail sticks speared through frozen grapes. Don't mind if I do.

I get up to walk to the pool again and before I can blink, my towel is whisked away and replaced by one unsullied by human hands.

The whole thing is mesmerising, yet exhausting. I'm not knocking the high life, but it's harder than it looks.

I know this ia rather random post but what can you expect. I'm in a building site in the desert and went shopping in Venice yesterday. I can't stay sane in conditions like these.

Friday, 10 October 2008

I'm packing, again.

In my secret life as a nomadic gypsy, I am once more packing up the travel valise to head to other frontiers. No jaunts from the North to the South of our fair land this time. I am heading for the airport and foreign climes - Qatar to be exact. I am feeling thoroughly underwhelmed by the entire trip. I have my reasons for this.

1: Knowing nothing of the country, other than the fact that it sounds like something disgusting that you might cough up, I looked on the official toursim website. They offered me an all singing, all dancing photo album to flick through. This is what it showed me. A hotel, some sand dunes with gridlocked 4 x 4's driving through it, a field of Ibex or something like an Ibex. Apparently this is the national animal and I can go and see it on a farm, in a 4 x 4 I expect. There was also a picture of lots of high rises against the shore line, another hotel and some boats in a marina. THAT WAS IT. The official tourist board of the country could find nothing else to show me to tempt me to their shores.

2: I was not put off by this. I persevered. I looked at a second website. In the Entertainment section they had these thrilling comments to offer me:

"Entertainment in Qatar is expected to grow steadily in the coming years. Quality entertainment and concerts are just becoming known to the country. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical production, Cats, was staged in 2003, and the opera, Carmen, played during 2004. Both Shaggy and UB40 have performed in Qatar. Doha also boasts a national opera and orchestra".

Be still, my beating heart. Really - UB40 AND Shaggy have played there. Will the fun never stop?

3: It's really very hot there. Hot enough that chickens only lay their eggs in fridges in case they come out pre boiled. I'm not good with excessive heat. Anything up to 30 degrees I can bask in, anything over that and I impersonate the wicked witch and run around screaming 'I'm melting, I'm melting'

4: I can't pack. I can't get my head around the idea that it really will be hot, definitely and with no uncertainty at all. There isn't the slightest chance of a sudden low front moving in with showers and cold winds. The sun will shine even if you shout at it to go away. I am sitting here in driving rain having survived the first of the autumn storms last nights with Force 7 gales and I am supposed to take T shirts, floaty skirts and delicate shirts seriously as a form of clothing. I can't. I keep sneaking jumpers and thick socks into my suitcase. Since I am planning on only taking hand luggage for the week, this is making the packing trickier than usual.

5: I don't actually own that many summer clothes. I live on a mountain in Wales, why would I need them? Consequently I have spent the last 24 hours raiding the wardrobes of overly generous friends in a search for suitable attire that I can't bring myself to pack because I think it will be too cold.

6: Despite the fact that I booked a flight that leaves mid morning on Saturday, I am still having to get up in time to hear dawn go 'Crack' in order to get to the airport in time for the stupid three hour check in. I then won't arrive until 1.00 o'clock in the morning. I am tall, plane seats are small. This is not something to look forward to.

7: I am only going to Qatar because a friend lives there and started rending her clothes and weeping at the prospect of being there for months on end with only an Ibex to keep her company. It will be really lovely to spend a week with her, and to catch up properly. I like her a lot, but when confronted with the cheapest flight with Qatar air ($2500!!!!) I baulked. I wondered whether maybe she wasn't a bit irritating and if I shouldn't pick a fight with her so that I didn't have to shell out my life savings to go to a country that I didn't want to see. Instead I hit the interweb and found a flight with an airline that I have never heard of. There is a stopover in Istanbul for a couple of hours and I have every expectation of the captain coming round and asking us to all contribute some cash for the fuel costs.

It will probably turn out to be one of those amazing holidays, and Cattarh, sorry - Qatar will be a place of extraordinary beauty, with the gentle tones of Cats floating over the sand dunes. I shall pack and be grateful. Honestly.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

AAaaaargghhh - the shame!

So a couple of days ago, I had a ranty whingey blog about Energy efficient lightbulbs. This gave me great pleasure, and was of very little interest to anybody else except for one person. For those of you who weren't so bored that they died half way through reading said rant, you will remember that I mentioned the lighting in a friend's house; in fact I whinged about it. I complained that it was dark as night and that I wanted to run around swapping their commendable lightbulbs for real bulbs.

I thought no more of this until today when I had an e mail from said proud houseowner. We are both going to a swishing party tonight (think swap shop with nice clothes and shoes), and she is giving me a lift. In her e mail, she was panicking about which of her clothes she could bring herself to part with and right at the end she dropped her bomb shell. I shall quote her for you: "Why don't you bring some light bulbs- I'll swap you my long life ones!!!!!"


Caught, red handed, red faced and with a stripey shirt and a bag of swag. She read the blog. She recognised her house. I shall be hated for ever more and expect to be traded in at tonight's swishing party for a pair of old green flash tennis shoes and a box of candles.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Space ships roam the Welsh Hills.

In an effort to avoid doing any work this morning, I tripped over a Sky News article from a while back. In it, they reported on an interview with a Dr Mitchell, who was on Apollo 14 in 1971, and holds the world record for the longest space walk (over 9 hours apparently). He has said that he was aware of many UFO visits to Earth during his career with Nasa but each one was covered up (surprise surprise). He went on to claim that the space agency made contact with aliens, describing the beings as "little people who look strange to us". All this made me think many odd and interesting things far off my normal charted course of thoughts to be thunk. Are you ready? Here goes....

1: Why is it my automatic instinct to think that poor Dr Mitchell is perhaps not completely all there? That perhaps a part of him stayed on the moon at the end of his mini marathon? The second anybody says they saw a UFO, were abducted by aliens, watched ET stamp out a crop circle, the rational side of me says 'Tsk, too many absinthes at the pub young man / lady'. I never say 'Really? what registration was their craft? did they communicate with bananas? Have they seen Elvis?'. All this despite the fact that I can see that statistcally, it is highly unlikely that we are alone out here. This isn't just me either, I think it is a standard response by most of the world, otherwise we would all be in our backyards with homemade telescopes and tinfoil hats every night.

2: Why are aliens always supposed to look vaguely like people? Why can't they look more like an Octopus that had a one night stand with a cactus? Or a flea with a neck like a giraffe, or a school of fish that smell like ginger?

3: Why do alien visitations always seem to take place at night, in the middle of nowhere. Why aren't they tripping down Park Lane, dropping in at the Louvre and partying in Times Square?

4: If there is a superior race out there in the heavens, a race that has conquered the art of space travel, why of why would they only contact NASA? Wouldn't they also want a front cover of Hello Magazine? A chat show of their own? With their technological abilities it should be easy to spread the word that they are here - or is that what Men in Black was? A promotional film from the UFO tourist board?

5: Oddly, there have been two 'sightings' near me. 20 years apart, they were witnessed by the majority of the local population (so, about 10 people then), of all ages, classes and creeds. They all agreed on what they had seen and have never varied their stories. Yet still, I persist in suspecting that the water had LSD in it, again rather than being convinced that spaceships roam the welsh hills.

6: Do we actually want to know if there is anybody out there? If you accept the conspiracy theorists cry that the US government has evidence of alien life forms (never the Belgian Government I notice - is Belgium as unpopular wtih aliens as it is with humans?). Sorry, back to the point; if you accept as true that the governments know something we don't, is it something that we want to know? Are they doing us a favour by not telling us that aliens came to dinner?

How will it help me to decide what I want for supper, or whether to wear sparkly shoes or sensible shoes, if I know ET is watching me? What can I do about it? Not very much to be honest. And that's the point. Telling us little green men are real serves no helpful purpose.

In fact, the argument is that news that 'we are not alone' would apparently engender nothing but mass panic, an abandoning of morality and a short term view of life that would mean people stop going to work, stop paying their bills and cause general chaos. Not unlike a global economic crisis then. This would presumably be followed by a mass emigration to new and more exciting planets....

So my question for you is this; would you want to know that ET has been playing peeping Tom in your neighbourhood?

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Things I hate about rain

* It's wet.
* Everything it lands on gets wet.
* It makes the sky all dark and mean and grey
* It means that the sun doesn't shine
* It floods under my back door and turns my pitifully small hall into a miniature swamp that hobbits might drown in.
* If it rains from one particular direction, it floods through my sitting room window, creating an interesting water feature, and yet more problems for the lurking hobbits.
* The endless gates that I have to open and close when leaving my mountain side are all situated in the rainiest of rainy spots, so it becomes impossible for me to emerge from my mountain retreat looking like anything other than a half drowned mongrel cat.
* Small rivers appear in strange places, usually places that I need to walk.
* Sometimes they are large rivers. I know this because two white water rafters just shot through my yard on a newly formed torrent.
* Excessive rain usually, and ironically, means that I run out of water as the pipes get blocked with small sheep, lost shrews or frogs with no sat nav. I then have to go and remove said blockages.
* The lack of light makes me confused about what time it is. It's all just grey time. Consequently I missed breakfast and ate lunch twice. I also changed to go to bed thinking it must be night time. Disappointingly it turned out to be just gone two thirty.

There must be things I like about rain, but I can't seem to think of them right now.

Dim as a poor man's candle.

Aaaaargh Eeurgh and Ickety Yuk. Just had to get that out of my system. It's that kind of day. My office is only 100 yards from my house and I can't see said abode through the driving rain. The energy efficient light bulbs are on in the office but they aren't making a dent in the strange twilight light that is suffusing the hills.

I'm all for being green. I recycle with a vengeance and have wrenched my shoulder from patting myself on the back when I deposit bags of sorted recycling in the pub car park repository. I don't leave lights on, I am cautious with my heating (partly because it would be cheaper to heat my house with gold ingots than with the oil that I have to use). I turn my car engine off in gridlocked traffic and I buy my food locally but the one thing I can't bear is ENERGY EFFICIENT LIGHTBULBS. I really hate them.

You know how cartoons of a person having an earth shattering idea show a lightbulb springing to life over their head? Never going to happen with EELs (Energy Efficient Lightbulbs). Instead there would be a dim glow, like an exhausted yak's fat candle, which would struggle to light the way to a good idea, let alone startle the world with said idea's incandescent brilliance.

At the weekend, I stayed in one of those eco lodges (translation - really uncomfortable wood cabin held together with cobwebs). The whole place is a lumberjacks wet dream, as it is wood, wood everywhere, all in a dark varnished finish. It was lit with EEL's to stress the eco friendliness of the whole experience. What it actually did was stress me out unbearably. I couldn't read a book, I stubbed each toe seperately by tripping over things that couldn't be seen under the glaring 3 watt glow of the bulbs. If I had lit the place with jam jars of glow worms it would have been brighter. In the end I had to use my wind up torch to read my book without going blind.

The whole issue was further low lighted yesterday when I went to see a friend for a much needed glass of wine. Her sitting room had 5 lamps turned on, all with energy efficient bulbs. Consequently it was nearly pitch black in the room. I couldn't help but think that one 60 watt bulb would have made more difference than all 5 of her lights, and would have had the same environmental impact without the manic depression that bad lighting can't help but create.

Why, oh why can't somebody invent an EEL that gives off a decent, normal coloured light instead of this faintly pink trick of light that we are currently given?

I am a firm believer that being green should not have to mean an ostentatious lack of comfort - it is the only way that we can defeat the whole problem. The sackcloth and ashes approach is bound to fail as nobody other than the odd demented saint enjoys being miserable. And the reason why nobody has done this? Well, it's because every time the scientist bods have a good idea, it is lit up by an EEL and they can't see well enough to actually show anybody else what their good idea is.

Monday, 6 October 2008

So backwards, I may be forwards.

Much excitement when I returned to the frosty hills of wales as I found I have a new reader! Hello Loops! Now, loops said that she / he (I am going for she for no known reason) thought that my writing is very NWM, and she hoped I would take that as a compliment. The thing is, I never know what all the abbreviations mean. I thought LOL was lots of love, until one of the cybermen explained it was Lots of Laughs. I have been thinking of what NWM could stand for, and here is what I have come up with:

NWM - Not without Merit - ok, won't take offence at that.
NWM - Not with merit - wept for a while when I realised it might mean this. Am mortified
NWM - Not with Mayonnaise. Now, I am a mayonnaise fan, and will eat it with all sorts of things, but not necessarily with a blog. Think this one may not apply.
NWM - New Woman Magazine - think this could be mortally offensive but have never actually read said publication so it may be the worlds best compliment.
NWM - Nasal with Meaning - I didn't think my nasal accent came through in my writing. Oh god, does it?
NWM - Newtonian Woman Meddler - I am not, and never have been a Newtonian woman. Apples rarely fall on my head and I don't meddle in alchemy. I refute this one entirely.
NWM - Nearly Weeping Maid - I rarely weep, and have not been a maid for many years. I am a wench and proud of it.
NWM - Never Wear Mauve. I don't. It's a matter of principle and if I were to lean towards that part of the spectrum, I think I would be more of an aubergine shaded girl.
NWM - Needs working Man - OK, I do need a working man - a cross between a butler and a gardener would add a certain cachet to my hillside hovel.

I suspect that none of the above are acutally what NWM means - somebody, put me out of my misery and tell me.......

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Grand Tour

Tomorrow I depart on a grand tour of Britain for work. I have to go to Inverness, Edinburgh, Lancaster and Devon in 7 days. So, not much driving then.

The Loyal Hound has already packed his case, I have done nothing about my packing.

Due to the fact that my IT department is useless (possibly becasue they don't actually exist) there will be no blogging possibilities whilst I travel the country waving at the people.

But don't despair - I'll be back...........

Friday, 26 September 2008

Things I will never do (well I don't think I will).

I was thinking about things I will never get to do because life hasn't turned out that way. This train of thought made me think of the things that I would never do because I was too shy, inept or British, or just because they are plain silly ideas. Here are some of the latter things.

1: Roll dramatically across a car hood and weave through traffic looking anxiously over my shoulder.
2: Learn to throw my voice so that I could make rude comments about people on public transport and then look shocked and horrified and innocent
3: Go to the bank and insist that they change my £10 note for £10 worth of gold (I know, the gold standard doen't apply anymore but if it did then I would be able to do this)
4: Order really complicated a la carte things in a restaurant. "I'd like an egg white omelette, cooked in yaks fat with grated butterfly wings on the side and a salad using only blue leaves please...." and then storm out when they can't accommodate me.
5: Set up a free cake stand outside the weight watchers meeting room
6: Hold a protest outside Jamie Oliver's house to save junk food.
7: Run, sobbing down Oxford Street wearing a wedding dress. I just want to see everybody's reaction
8: Go to my school reunion dressed as a tramp
9: Go to my school reunion dressed as a goddess with immaculate and very expensive taste, possibly arriving in an Aston Martin with my own retinue.
10: Refuse to renounce the devil at a christening, in fact insist that I am rather found of lucifer and had him round for supper only last week.
11: Walk around with a glass slipper, asking men to try it on and asking if they have the other one?
12: Put huge signs on Harrods windows in the dead of night saying '90% off tomorrow only" and watch the sales shoppers start queuing
13: Break the bank at a casino
14: Cook a cake with a file in it and take it to prison
15: Make hash brownies for the school fete cake stand (there seems to be a bit of a cake theme here...)
16: Peer into a pram to look at somebody's baby and then leap back and run away screaming.
17: Take a telephone call in a public place and pretend it is from the doctor and say in a loud voice "I can't have the plague - that's contagious for god's sake"
18: Go to a shoe shop and insist that as I have two left feet, I want two left shoes.
19: Burst into loud tears at a wedding and run out sobbing 'it should have been me'
20: Go out in my pyjamas and go to sleep in a bed shop

I know, it is a random list, but I feel random and you must bear the consequences.
Having said that, I have just read through the list again and am worried by the way my brain works. I think that I need help.

Let them Eat Burnt Cake

I am doing my social duty this morning and going to one of those Macmillan Coffee morning things. This is normally something that I avoid like the plague since they seem to be dominated by small children, and parents talking about small children, however one of the book club asked me to come 'cos she is selling her fabulous cards there and wants moral support. I still put her through the wringer to get me to agree.

Only after she had sobbed, rended her hair and begged a lot did I wearily agree to attend my idea of rural hell. She recovered from her emotional breakdown remarkably quickly (I suspect I might have been conned by the best) and then casually mentioned that I would just have to make a cake and bring some money along. AAarrgh. The trap was sprung. I wriggled, I squealed, I said ouch a lot but there was no freeing me. I was stuck.

So I had a long day yesterday with an 8 hour meeting and 4 hours of driving. I can't really say I was in the mood to be a domestic goddess when I got home - more like a domestic slob who watched Bones on television and fell asleep on the sofa. However, I set to. I threw flour around the kitchen and broke eggs. I softened, I whisked, I folded. I lobbed the tin of coffee cake mix into the oven and I forgot that my oven thermostat has gone on permanent holiday.

I have one of those oven thermometers in the hope of dealing with this. When I put the cake in the oven, the needle was loitering on 180 which was ok but despite not touching a dial, the oven temperature steadily climbed. I tried turning it down, I left the door open, I shouted at it, all to no avail. By the time the cake was ready to come out, the oven was ready to melt glass.

The cake looks good - but then so do ceramic models of cake and this is very nearly one of those. I put a sander on the drill and sanded off the outer crust so that a knife could actually penetrate the damn thing and then smothered the remaining volcanic crust in icing.

Now I just have to transport the thing over 30 miles of moorland round and mountain lanes without it rolling towards me and breaking my leg and then I can have my revenge on my duplicious friend. Let them eat cake.....

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

You have mail.

E mails are both a joy and a nightmare. This week I had a lunatic e mail from one of my sisters (not the one who makes Chutney and lives in the darkest west country, the other one who is mad as a box of frogs, thinks she is 27 and is nearly 40. She lives in London). Anyway, she sent me an e mail in what I read as a very shirty tone of voice about plans for the other sisters 40th. It's a whole other story but it did make me think about e mail and the joys and dangers of it.

Joyous Things about E mail:

* You can stay in almost instant touch with friends all over the world, often whilst looking as though you are working.
* You can send a brief message to someone without having to track them down on the phone and go through all the chit chat just to say 'yes, I can do Wednesday'
* People sometimes send you funny things that make you spit your tea all over your keyboard 'cos you are laughing so hard.
* It is a million times easier to organise things with a group of people with the whole group e mail / reply to all option. No more "I'll ring so and so and get back to you" hassle.
* I know what my godchildren who live abroad look like 'cos I get photos of them every now and then through the wonders of e mail attachments.
* You can have an ongoing argument with somebody (like my sister) without ever actually speaking to her and then tell her that she misread the tone when she calls you on it.

Nightmarish things about E mail:

* Spam, Spam, Spam, Lobster Thermidor and SPAM
* Now that we are so techno dependant I slide into panic and fear when my e mail doesn't work. I see visions of a dark future for myself where I will not know what is going on and won't be able to tell anyone that I don't know what is going on because my e mail is on the fritz. It's a trauma.
* Companies now think that they don't need to speak to anyone because they can make you e mail them with your complaint, query, request and they can then send you an automated reply and never read your rant.
* It is very easy to misinterpret the tone that an e mail is sent in. Sarcasm doesn't translate well, or irony and it can be tricky to divine whether the e mail you have just sent / received was meant as a joke or a termination of all friendship.
* People send you random pictures of their children wearing their pants as a hat, eating, breathing, looking like Damien from the Omen. I have no idea what to send back as a reply and just ignoring said photos feels rude. It's a modern manners dilemma.

I'm sure there are a load more things that I love / hate about e mail but these are the ones I wanted to share for now.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Remember to breathe - Tick.

I have worked like a whirling dervish today. 'In' piles bearing the dust of centuries, have become crisp 'out' piles of post. I love productive days like this. To kick start my whirling dervish activities, I put on a tall hat and a long coat and spun my way over to the barn where I composed a long list of things that I have to get done this week. The list has ruled my day and no deviation from it is allowed. I'm strict with myself on things like that. However, I do have some sneaky tactics that I use when making lists.

The thing with lists is to put EVERYTHING onto them in order to get a really good sense of achievement by being able to cross them off. Start with 'go to office'. Excellent - I have arrived in the office and already can tick something off. Hurrah. Carry on with list by adding on the the various tiresome work related things for clients, remembering to breathe, eating lunch, talking to the loyal hound, checking the blog, writing lists etc etc. All too soon, I have an overwhelmingly long list but a list that I can instantly put checks against.

Reviewing it now, I can confirm that I have eaten lunch, remembered to breathe, and what's more done enormous amounts of work. There is a huge pile of post next to me ready to go to the post office tomorrow. My books are balanced (Georgette Heyer on top of Peter Ho Davies since you asked) and my e mails and phone calls are replied to. I have placed orders and paid bills and given my parents coffee when they did a drive by with some bags of coal and an apple tree for me (what can I say, they go shopping in odd places).

All this gives me a glowing feel of satisfaction and the perfect justification to go and meet a friend at a nearby reservoir and take the loyal hound for a walk while I pick blackberries. I am going to make blackberry whisky tonight.

I think I'll put going for a walk and make blackberry whisky on my list, then I can tick them off tomorrow morning.......

Monday, 22 September 2008

Anyone seen my acorn?

You know how all of us have a list of things we wish were different about ourselves? A closer resemblance to Angelina Jolie rather than Angela Lansbury, the ability to speak all languagues with fluency and grace, to remember the punch lines of jokes, and always have great hair. The list goes on. Well, I'm not going to aim that high. I just want to change one thing today. That one thing? My terrible habit of writing vital phone messages down on ridiculous bits of paper that I can never find again.

I have two particuarly important phone messages that I wrote down last week on something handy that was lying around, a bit of cheese, a small acorn - a small acorn which I now cannot find. I expect the squirrel followed the cat into the house and filed it for the winter. But I am left feeling like a fool for not tattooing the message onto my arm and painting it on the wall so that I couldn't lose it.

It seems I am not to be trusted with verbal messages passed telephonically. I've tried to improve. I have a pad that I attempt to always write the message in, but sometimes I can't find the pad when I'm on the phone, and sometimes I write the message in there but not in full so that I don't recognise it as the vital information it is when I return to it. So instead of saying in the message - Roger the Bank Manager says don't spend any money or we will shoot you at dawn, my message might read - Roger Pistols at Dawn. Now, at the time I will think that I shall remember all the pertinent facts associated with such a gripping title. But actually two days later I can't remember what the bank managers minion was called and so the name Roger means nothing to me as I flick through the message book. I will wonder in passing if it is a book title that somebody recommended to me, or a duel challenge that I have forgotten about. You see the dilemma.

I am now faced with ringing people up and asking them to repeat their message. This makes me look like an idiot, which arguably I am, and wastes time. Typically, as they answer the telephone I will find said piece of cheese, acorn or cryptic message and then have to pretend that I rang for a different reason entirely. Even worse, sometimes I can't ring them up because the thing I am looking for is their telephone number. Anyone seen an acorn with a telephone number and a duel challenge on it?

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