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.

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