Monday, 29 September 2008

Getting sucked in!

I have discovered that there is a Black Hole in my house. It is called the television!

After two years of working in the evenings I am very pleased to have my evenings to myself again, except that I have been sucked by the aforementioned black hole. When I come home in the evenings, I feed the cat, get changed, make a cup of tea and plonk myself down in my oversized armchair.

Then all of a sudden it is 10pm and time to think about going to bed! I get nothing done and feel as though I have wasted a whole evening. Sometimes there are evenings when it is about as much as I can do to park myself in front the television and just do nothing. But for the most part I do think that it is wasted time and that I could be doing so much more.

While I will never regain that lost time (woe is me!) I think that I will carry out a little experiment for the month of October where television between Mondays and Thursdays will be banned! I am not quite up to banning it in total, especially not when I have recently paid for a new digital box thingie that allows me to get a bunch of rubbish channels for free. Also, I do think that Friday evenings and weekends should be exempt so that I can have some down time and then it will become a treat for me instead of something that I do each and every day.

Of course, this isn't quite as big a challenge as it could be if I am going to allow myself television for three days out of seven, but like I said, I just don't think that I could do that as I would go stark staring mad without something to watch over the weekend!

I shall keep you informed as to how this works, i.e. what I do in the evenings instead of television and whether I eventually end up going to bed at 7pm cos there's nothing to do!! ha ha!

Sunday, 28 September 2008


How many of you play the lottery? I very rarely play the lottery as I think that the chances of winning are so very minuscule! I can remember both times I ever played and the last one was on Friday as you can see with my Show and Tell photo!

Of course, I didn't win, but kinda felt that my chances were slightly better seeing as I didn't have to match everything in order to win. You see, for those of you that don't know, last Friday's lottery wasn't allowed to roll over so someone had to win it which meant that if no-one had the winning numbers then the winners would be those with the closest match. Quite naturally though, it wasn't me!

Now that I think about it, the last time I played was also on a EuroMillions non roll over about a year or eighteen months ago. I know that my chances are never very good, but who doesn't dream about winning the lottery? Clearly I know that you have to play in order to win and seeing as I am not a regular player then I am never going to win, but I don't like the thought of throwing away hundreds of pounds every year (which I would do if I entered the Wednesday and Saturday lottery as well as the EuroMillions on Friday), so all I am ever going to do is dream about what I would do if I actually played and won!

So what would I do? Obviously this would depend on how much I won, but lets say that I won the very nice sum of, oooohhh, ten million pounds, then I would try to spread the moolah around a bit by helping family and friends do the things that they've always wanted to do or to get them the homes of their dreams.

Then I think that I would do a lot of travelling, perhaps even buy a house or two in places like Sydney or Vancouver or even someplace else!! Given that I had a few million the flight back to the UK to visit people wouldn't be quite so onerous as I could buy business class tickets (I still wouldn't get first class tickets as I would still think that that was just too much of a waste of money!) or even get them to visit me!

Umm, I think that all that travelling would end up being a bit boring after a few years, so I think that I would then settle someplace and perhaps go back to University to learn something new and interesting, but I think that what stands out most is that I wouldn't go back to work! ;-) I think that I do volunteer work and stuff like that but actual proper work? Nah!

You can see that I've given this quite some thought even though I am never going to win!! It's always nice to dream, so what do you dream about doing with the lottery money that you're clearly going to win one day!?

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Oyez, Oyez, Oyez!

If you didn't know, the above is the cry of the Town Crier - it's to get your attention before they start telling you of local news. Yes, they were the BBC news or CNN of the day!

As you might expect, there are very very few of them about these days. It is indeed a dying art, but my little village has it's own Crier and you can often see him dressed in full regalia in the High Street, particularly on festival days. Certain people in the village have also decided that it would be good for the village to host a Town Crier competition!

As you can see, that happened yesterday - the village was full of people in bright and fantastic regalia, and that's just the men! There were a few women Criers, but the majority were men and they were accompanied by their wives (I assume!) who were also in some of old fashioned dress.

And boy...have they got loud voices! That is the point I suppose, they are meant to be heard over the usual sounds of the market. There were about 19 Criers in total all with bells and scrolls containing about a hundred words for them to read out and be judged by. I didn't stay to listen to all of them, but I am sure that it will be in the local paper at some point!

Some (quite possibly all, I didn't check!) had this badge on their clothes labelling them members of the Ancient and Honourable Guild of Town Criers. I don't know how old the Guild is, but my village has had a Town Crier since 1720!


Friday, 19 September 2008

My To Do List?

This week's question from Baby Tea Leaves asks what's on our life's to do list and to be perfectly honest I don't think that I really know, but I am going start a little list here and see what pops out!

1. Finish this Masters that I have only just embarked on!
2. Visit Boston (the one in the United States not the UK!)
3. Get a dog - a West Highland Terrier - those little white dogs are too cute!
5. Visit Australia again - it was so good the last time around that I want to do it again, this time spending far more time in places (a few days in each of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide just isn't enough!!)
6. Bag a Munro or two! For those of you that don't know, a Munro is a mountain in Scotland and there is a 'sport' called Munro Bagging where you climb as many as you can in your life time!
7.Visit the antebellum houses of the Southern States in America (as well the rest of the States eventually!)
8. Learn how to cook properly! (have just finished watching Masterchef - amazing inspiration)
9.Visit Canada again

Hmmmm, I am clearly a traveller, if subconsciously rather than actively thinking and planning it all! If only it wasn't so expensive!! I'd also like to go back to Copenhagen again as I have a rather soft spot for the place that I lived in for three months.

And this Friday's fat-ticker? I reckon that the scales have broken cos they are not showing any difference from last week. Except that actually it is my willpower and not the scales that are currently broken! But, hmmmm, I really really must do better than this and am already showing slight improvements by drinking more water during the day and eating more fruit for lunch, although I know that I can do more - baby steps, baby steps - as long as I am not going backwards!!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

'elf and safety?

I didn't quite know whether or not to report a near-miss to our Health and Safety Department today, instead I fell about laughing as Ann managed to attach herself to the table-top fan in the office! (Fortunately no injuries were sustained!)

It was one of those occurrences that could never be recreated as the circumstances were just so very precise whilst being utterly random at the same time!! Talk about a million to one chance! Let me explain......

Ann was sitting at the main work desk covering books with plastic to protect them from those fingers fresh from surgery! The fan was blowing in just the right direction to bother her, so Ann went to move it out of the way...only to latch her bracelet onto the mesh at the back of the fan! The bracelet has one of those push latches and it just managed to be in the right place to latch onto the fan! (too coincidental for fiction!!)

Anyway, I managed to stop sniggering long enough to turn the fan off and help Ann disentangle herself, all the while threatening to take a photograph for bloggie posterity (luckily for Ann I am not that mean!).

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Study is tiring!

Well, that's it! I've now had two days at the university. The first day was the induction day where they told us about passwords and ID badges and stuff like that, as well as an hour long session on how to use the library which was rather amusing for me seeing as I run a library of my own!

Induction day also meant that we had to do various exercises to get to know each other, the first was the common exercise of throwing a ball of string to each other in order to create the web of connection to make us all realise that we have things in common and are not merely just a bunch of students on the same course. The more interesting activity involved exercising our little used art skills! We were all asked to fill a piece of A4 paper with images that reflected where we thought we were at this present time with regard to what we do at work. The intriguing thing is that we were then split into groups and then had others interpret our pictures which was quite interesting and in some case revealing as perhaps others saw things in our pictures that we hadn't consciously revealed.

Today, however, was filled with honest-to-goodness study where we sat and listened to the tutor (they don't seem to be called lecturers these days!) and did various exercises plus the usual group work stuff that has always been popular within educational strategies! All I can say really is that I am so glad that I actually did some of the pre-reading because the tutor simply touched on many of the issues covered today - for two reasons really, firstly because time is of the essence particularly as we only have three attendance days at the university per module, and secondly because at Masters level we are most definitely expected to direct our own learning and the tutor fully, and rightly, expected us to have done the reading and therefore understand what she was talking about.

In any case, there was a lot crammed in to today's session and I now need to reflect and think of what I learnt today, not to mention go and read a bunch of rather dry books! It was certainly very interesting and I look forward to the next study day which is at the end of September.

Sunday, 14 September 2008


For the last couple of weeks I have been looking forward to a local fair that has been advertised. The poster suggested that it would be full of stalls, local crafts, bands, rides and all the usual fun things that you might see at a fair.

Well, I went today. And discovered that expectations are dangerous! It was basically a boot sale. Which, in itself, I don't mind, but that was not what I was expecting and so it was rather a let down. In fact, I think that I took longer to get there across country roads than I did actually looking around the stalls.

As I am not such a fan of boot sales, I don't think that I would have gone if I knew that that was pretty much all it was. I just couldn't quite believe that I was attending something that I didn't really want to and I was quite annoyed that I'd wasted my time, I mean, I'd gone with the expectation of spending a couple of hours outdoors in relatively good weather, but left after about fifteen minutes!

I should sue for false advertising!! The point is, though, that expectations do sometimes get the best of us, we look forward to a holiday so much that while it is a nice holiday it doesn't quite meet the giddy heights of our expectations; we bite into that gooey looking cookie only to find that it is dry and crumbly. We all do it and sometimes expectations are perfectly met and we go home raving about that beach or that restaurant. Well, I experienced the flip side of expectations today and it wasn't nice.

Oh well, on to the next experience. Which is actually tomorrow as I head off to University for the induction day of my Masters course - tell you all about that tomorrow!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Oh 'poo!

If there is ever a time to discover that you have run out of shampoo, it is not when you are standing in the shower having washed your face and wet your hair!

Yes, I reached down for the shampoo bottle only to see an empty space, which reminded me that I had thrown away the empty bottle just two days ago.

Naturally, my stock of spare bathroom stuff is not actually kept in the bathroom as I don't have much cupboard space there. The extra toothpaste, soap and shampoo live in the cupboard on the landing and so there I am, dripping wet (as there's no point getting the towel wet before I actually need it!) and rummaging through the box to find the shampoo!!

Fortunately there wasn't too much collateral damage, just a little damp spot in the upstairs hallway, but what a nuisance, why oh why didn't I replace the bottle when I threw away the old one!?

Friday, 12 September 2008


Fridays are Fat Ticker Fridays over at Baby Tea Leaves, however, not only are we treating the body like a temple as we are also being asked to improve the mind by pondering on a few questions...
What do you want your legacy to be? Or rather, what is it about yourself that you want to be known for? And do you think you've accomplished that so far in your life? Are you the person you want to be? If not, how will you get there?
Legacy?! It's a kinda odd question to think about because I just don't see myself that way, I don't think of myself as having such a thing as a legacy, particularly as I tend to view legacies as being things like a community hall named after yourself! But then again, we all leave our own imprint on the world in one way or another, and in far less tangible ways. For instance there is the speech therapist that I still think of very fondly and I know that without her I would still have a very bad stutter - her legacy means a lot to me.

Anyway - the real question is what is it about myself that I want to be known for and even that I struggle a bit with as I get no further than wanting to be remembered simply for who I am as I have no desire to reach the giddy heights of Director or "Super Manager" because that is very definitely not me. Instead I want to be known for the daughter, sister, and friend that I am, and perhaps even one day to be remembered for the mother that I could be, but in the meantime I am quite happy to be a good Auntie!!

All of the those descriptions of me are all works in progress - I have moments when I am not the daughter I should be, or the friend that forgets to send a birthday card, so I can never say that I have attained the place that I want to be. I do, however, recognise that this is something that will always need work, or at least the shape of what I am changes as the people that I connect with changes, certainly as my niece and nephew grow up my relationship with them will change as I am not the same Auntie to them when they are two as they will be when they are twelve or twentytwo!

So, essentially, I want to be remembered for being ME and I know that I have to work at that because not nobody, even with the best will in the world, can be a good person all the time.

Oh, did you want to know what my Fat Ticker says? Nothing. I weigh no more or less than I did on Monday!! At least I haven't put on any more, but I could certainly do more to ensure that my shirts aren't gaping in the wrong places!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008


Yesterday's journey home was a bit of an adventure!

After I left work and drove down the motorway, I got to the roundabout that leads to the road into my village, and it's pretty much the main road into that village. So, you can imagine just how disconcerted I was to find that there was a police car blocking the road! It's quite strange actually just how taken aback I was, my first thought was "how on earth am I going to get home now" and I had no real solution except to panic (not too much mind you!).

When a habit is so ingrained, it really does cause some consternation when you can't do what you've always done! Anyway, if I'd been thinking a little more clearly I would have turned right at the roundabout and gone the shorter way home. But no, I turned left, which was actually the easier option as I was already in the left hand lane - turning right would have meant crossing very entangled traffic due to the blockage ahead.

I drove home using roads that I have never used before, which made for a rather interesting journey! I did have to stop and look at a map just to make sure that I was taking the right turnings when they appeared. Of course, the closed road meant that everyone was doing the same thing and I am sure that as we trundled down this narrow country lane everybody that passed us going the other way must have wondered what on earth was going on!

The cat must have wondered where I was when I finally arrived home an hour later than usual, and the blockage holding every body up? It was a collision between a bunch of cars and a lorry and I gather that that although people were hurt no-one was killed, so that's a good thing.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Hot for the Holidays!

Some of you may have noticed that a new button has appeared on the left of my blog! This is the snazzy Hot for the Holidays button - a little challenge as set up by Baby Tea Leaves in order to get us all fit and healthy for Christmas!

This works for me as if I try and do this sort of thing after Christmas and as part of my new years resolutions then I never last much beyond the 2nd January!! This way round I may actually have some success!

Unlike that amazing gal on Baby Tea Leaves, I cannot claim to have run four miles this morning - you go gal! In fact, I am pretty much starting from rock bottom - I rarely exercise and love my sweet snacks far far too much. However, this does mean that I can implement lots of great new things (baby steps mind you!) and get myself just that little bit healthier. So, my main goals are to drink more water (whether with squash or herbal tea!), exercise more (far more eventually!) and eat more sensibly.

I should point out though that I do not believe that dieting works. I am not about to go on some silly cabbage diet that means that I start craving crisps or chocolate, instead I will still enjoy the odd biscuit, just not in the volume that I usually inhale them in!! Instead of going all out to run four miles a day and pulling a muscle and not enjoying it, I plan to gradually up the exercise at a pace that gets me breathing heavily (down boy!) and yet still having fun!

And this is the bit that means most to me - having fun. This is not about depriving myself or pushing myself so hard that I give up after a week, this IS about cranking up the music on the Davina DVD and bopping around the lounge scaring the life out of the cat! This is about considering buying myself an iPod so that I can go running with music in my ears - fun, fun, fun.

Anyway this challenge officially launched today and every Friday is Fat Ticker Friday where we all pop over to Baby Tea Leaves and tell everyone how well or how badly we've been doing, which is great incentive to keep on the downside of the scales! So, if you'd like to take part - head on over to BTL and see what everyone else is doing.

Saturday, 6 September 2008


I am just watching the opening ceremony for the Paralympics and the performances being given are just blowing me away!

The first one that really caught my eye was a performance of 300 deaf women all dressed in white with lights set in their large skirts and the dance was very pretty indeed. It looked to me as though the performance was meant to look like an eye - all the dancers surrounded a lone trumpeter and kept moving in and out - I simply cannot do it justice in my description, but it was lovely.

The next section of the ceremony was very moving. Dancer were kneeling down dressed in black with ballet shoes on their hands and they were using their hands and arms to simulate legs and they looked pretty effective! These dancers formed a circle and in the middle was a young aspiring ballet dancer who had lost a leg in the earthquakes of China a few months ago. She was sitting in a wheelchair on dressed up in a pretty tutu and fabulous red slipper on her foot and was using her arms to give a beautiful performance, all to Ravel's Bolero - fabulous.

At this very moment there is a rather energetic performance being given by two thousand school children, they are wearing a rather bizarre costume, but I gather that this is called Cartoon Dance or something like that! And now there is some singing in Mandarin (I presume!) and I cannot understand a word, but that's ok, especially as they follow it with some English words!! Whatever the language though, the singing is lovely and they are thanking the light and the wind - it's all very atmospheric and superb - the Chinese certainly know how to put on a display! (and they haven't even finished yet!)

Well, the Bird's Nest in Beijing has seen a stunning ceremony this afternoon (or evening if you are actually IN Beijing!) and it is a brilliant start to the Paralympics - Lets Go and Get Some Medals!!!

Friday, 5 September 2008


Took this (staged!) photo a few days ago of my parents cats and thought that it would make a good lolcats photo!! Does anyone have any suggestions? I thought something like "I haz enuf of cheezburger, what do you fancy tonite?"

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Utter randomness

Every now and then I have bits and pieces to say, nothing that really adds up to a nice sized post in themselves, but collectively they manage to do quite well....
  • First off...bloomin' roadworks! A road in my village is being resurfaced, work started on Monday and all indications are that it will last about two weeks. The trouble is that it's one of the popular roads for people wanting to avoid the main street. Despite reading signs for about two weeks I naturally forgot all about it on Monday and attempted to drive to work using my normal route - no go! I did eventually make it to work, albeit via a rather circuitous route through the village in order to get onto the road I really wanted! Tuesday wasn't so bad as I remembered about the roadworks; however, yesterday and today have not been brilliant because other drivers have discovered that they can drive through the little estate that I live on!! The road is fairly standard sized, but because it's a residential area there are cars parked on both sides of the road and makes it quite awkward sometimes, so when you get about ten or more cars all following each other, it gets really crazy!!

  • Secondly....bloomin' headache! It all started on Tuesday night when I woke up round about midnight after a very strange dream and fell asleep again only to wake up at about 4am with a most horrendous headache. I took a couple of paracetamol (as soon as Phoebe cat heard I was in the kitchen she dashed down to see if it was breakfast time - no chance!) and went back to bed in the hopes of falling asleep again - it took ages, with me tossing and turning very carefully and whimpering every now and then! I did actually go to work yesterday morning but went home at lunch time and proceeded to ruin any chance of sleeping that night by falling asleep on the sofa! The headache has gone, but I am now a tender little flower with the occasional pain in my head - I just need one good nights sleep and I'll be fine. (she says assertively!)

  • Thirdly...bloomin' whinger! That's me by the way I whinge about the roadworks, the headache and if I took the opportunity, this post would be one loooong whinge-fest, but I really can't do that to you all as no-one likes a moaning Minnie! Besides, it's not good for me to whinge as I get more and more blah, I need to be happy about things, to see the sunny side of things, to smile and laugh and be more optimistic!!
So, on a happier's Thursday! Which means that the weekend isn't all that far away!! Woohoo, roll on the weekend! ;-)

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

More Holiday photos!

I thought that you might like to see a few more holiday photos, particularly as so many of you had never heard of a narrowboat before.

Firstly, here's Dad steering the boat from the back, I had a go and it's not easy as you have to steer left in order to go right and steer right in order to go left all the while missing other boats and trying not to bash into the bank!! It didn't take me long to decide that this was a job better left to Dad while we kept him supplied with tea and cake (as you can see!!), by the way, this cake was cake made by yours truly!!
Now...if a canal was a normal river you'd have things like waterfall and stuff like that. Except that of course you can't expect ANY boat to happily go sailing over a waterfall unless you intentionally set out to do whitewater rafting! And as the canals were originally built to carry stuff like coal from Newcastle to London (and other places of course, as there is a whole network of canals!) there had to be a way of getting up and downhill without shooting the rapids. So, a very ingenious engineer came up with locks that would hold the water back and still enable the narrowboats to go up and downhill.

Matt is either opening or closing the paddle on the left and Mum is doing the same on the right. I think that we are actually going up hill at this point because I am taking the photo from the front of the boat (I think), and on closer examination, it would appear that the boat is IN the lock and Mum and Matt are opening the paddles to let the water into the lock so that the boat rises to the level of the water on the other side of the lock. Once the water is at the same level, Mum and Matt can then open the gates and Dad can steer the boat through the lock. Of course, Mum and Matt then need to be able to jump back on the boat so that we can carry on!! Sometimes the locks wouldn't be all that far apart so it was quite nice to walk from one lock to the next getting a bit of exercise!

In the above photo you can see the windlass that I'd been using to open the paddle to let the water in or out - Mum's still going - some of them were very tough to open, while others were so easy it was a doddle! I mean, some of them needed us to put our full body weight onto the windlass in order to get it moving and other times it was like winding a window open - easy as pie!

And finally, I leave you with a very interested Poppy, I wonder what she thinks of those ducks!!? Or perhaps more to the point - what do the ducks think of her!?