Monday, 29 June 2009

Flat on my back with frozen brussel sprouts

Its been quite some weekend. I've driven along the coast, been to three different UK airports, hired a car, driven over the Yorkshire moors, attempted a 26 mile walk (failed) and acquired a puppy. All in 48 hours. The net result of all this activity is that my back has ceased to work. I am flat on my back with a number of prescription painkillers coursing through my veins and a bag of frozen brussel sprouts pressed against my lower spine. Oh and a large glass of pinot grigio by my side - I figure it can only help at this stage. I felt strangely proud when the osteopath told me that I had a "serious injury" as all the sighing/moaning/yelping/whinging I have done over the last two days seems totally justified.

Oh and the daughters have been so totally wound round my little finger (cos I arrived home with a puppy and mother adoration is running at an all time high). They have been happily picking things up from the floor (an area which is currently unreachable), fetching things (including the pinto grigio) and generally looking after me.

As for the puppy; he is just adorable. He is going to fit right in being just as bonkers as the rest of the family. We bought him a big, comfy, expensive bed and he chooses to sleep here:

Yup. That's the bin and the glass recycling that he is crashed out next to. Which I think only goes to prove that his spiritual name and henceforth his blog name is CHAR-DON-NAY. I shall soon be checking the puppy manuals as to how to train him to open the wine.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

What did blog camp ever do for me in the style of Monty Pythons Life of Brian "what did the Romans ever do for us"?

 So what did blog camp ever do for me?  Well knowing how we all love a list here goes:
  • I learnt lots of blogging stuff that a newbie like me is too afraid to ask; like about sitemeter and how to cross out because I had a carefully prepared list that I went through item by item Polly remembered to ask.
  • I remembered what it was like go away sans children, sans partner, sans friends; an experience I will defintely be repeating.
  • I said yes to an opportunity that presented itself and my life became richer for it.
  • I got to laugh till it really really hurt and then just a little bit more.
  • I learnt a whole bunch of random stuff - how to sip tequila under instruction from extranjera; that I always have my mouth open in a photo; and I am rubbish at throwing sticks at other sticks or whatever that Danish game that I suck at is called.
  • I got to feel like this about a whole bunch of people I had never met:

  • And not just about those I met.  There are real people behind each and every blog to paraphrase Polly.
  • I started to get really excited about taking photos and now need (NEED I TELL YOU) a decent camera.
  • I learnt that sometimes when you are having an amazing time the days can stretch out so that you feel as if you have been away from your real life for a gloriously long time.
So yeah, what did blog camp ever do for me I ask you?

(Clearly not how to write a short and snappy title for a post....)

Monday, 22 June 2009

A blogging journey

Sometimes its weird where life takes you. How seemingly small decisions can take you off in a completely unexpected direction.

On 21st April I started blogging. Exactly two months later I was waking up in Denmark on the final day of blog camp. The bloggers who I had met less than 48 hours before were real. Not only that but they were just like the voices I had read in their blogs; creative, talented, funny, intellecutal, interesting.... and did I mention funny?

I started to blog just for me. I didn't expect anyone to read what I had written. Even when I started to discover other blogs and found moments of perfect clarity I didn't expect julochka to first joke about blog camp and then to make it a real offer. I didn't expect that there would be room for me when I surprised myself by saying that I could go. And then I ended up in Denmark and the rest is history.

So I hear that Blog Camp 1.5 UK is in the offing.... so I will be grabbing
the camera

the converse

and the wine

and I will be turning up. I wonder what is going to happen next.....?

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Blog camp words

I am sitting at home in my blog camp t-shirt, which typically arrived whilst I was away, so that I can preserve the blog camp feeling a little longer.  My brain is a jumble of images and a riot of thoughts and I am much too tired to sort it all out following the tequila several late night intellectual discussions.  All I have at the moments is words and phrases and some photos.

Copenhagen in the sun and rain
Sunset on the lake
Axes were present but not used.
Colour everywhere.
Tequila and tiaras.
Its been a real blast.  Keep checking the blog camp blog over the next few days for more....

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Psst....wanna know a secret...?

These guys are are great. I have laughed a lot, drunk too much, eaten well and slept in the blue room.....Blog camp rocks. Seriously.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

5 (random) favourite things

I was tagged by the mere mortal Molly at ohfortheloveofblog with her 5 random favourite things meme. So here goes:

5 favourite films:
  1. Lost in translation
  2. Husbands and Wives
  3. Now Voyager - I'm a soppy romantic at heart.
  4. La Vie en Rose - I sobbed through the sub-titles.
  5. Little Miss Sunshine - the weird dysfunctional family feels like home.
5 favourite songs:
This is hard. I tend to like whatever I last heard. So these are favourites because of the associations they have for me...
  1. Doorbell - White Stripes (cooking Christmas dinner a few years ago when all the family was together)
  2. Money Money Money - Abba (youngest sings "if I found me a healthy man" which seems like a good plan once you reach 40)
  3. Got to be a hustler if you want to get on - Sue Wilkinson (early on with Prince of Darkness going through his record - yes I do mean record - collection and playing them all)
  4. Common People - Pulp (just because the song is brilliant)
  5. Park Life - Blur (lying on a beach in Greece)
5 favourite crushes
  1. Lance Armstrong - weird but I have a thing about cyclists.
  2. Prince of Darkness - I know I know. Get a life girl.
  3. Daniel Craig - yes I so would.
  4. Almost any man in a uniform - watch out sailors.
  5. George Clooney - boring but true.
5 favourite books
  1. Love in a Cold Climate - Nancy Mitford
  2. Crossing to Safety - Wallace Stegner
  3. Love in the time of Cholera- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  4. Les Liaisons Dangereuses - Choderlos de Laclos
  5. The Night before Christmas - Clement C Moore (only to be read on Christmas eve!)

5 random favourite things

  1. my tattoo
  2. pointless little notebooks - I buy more than I know what to do with.
  3. pinot grigio - you didn't think I would leave it off did you?
  4. fish, chips and mushy peas
  5. my shelf of random stuff - see below. It looks like crap but it all means something to me.

I am tagging a random 5 of my regular favourite reads:

Iasa at Blissfully Unaware Lounge Singer, RxBambi at A Day in the Life of a Would be Bambi, Jules at Just Jules, The Fragrant Muse and Jelica/Ruslan at Budapest Bits

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

My last will and testament

Wednesday is the day that stepson #2 comes over to spend the night. I really look forward to it. He is a very entertaining 15 year old who gets on really well with eldest daughter. Plus they make me laugh by doing crazy stuff like msn-ing each other in the same room.

So today we are talking about blog camp, whilst I am also trying to make some valid points about internet safety:

Me (to stepson): "If I haven't texted your mother by Friday evening you can assume that I have gone to stay with axe murderers. Please instigate a search party immediately."

Stepson: "If you haven't texted won't it be a bit too late?"

Me : " Well .....yes maybe.... but you can at least come and recover my body..."

Eldest daughter: "Mummy..."

Me: "Yeeessss.....?" (sensing the direction this conversation is going)

Eldest daughter: "If you do die can I have the puppy?"

Me: "Well ....ok"

Stepson: (sensing an opportunity here) " Well can I have half your money?"

Me: "Only debts there my boy" (I say rather smugly, thinking I have foiled him)

Stepson: (without hesitation) "All your electrical equipment then?"

Me: (giving up) "Deal."

So thats all sorted then. I can rest easy in my bed tonight knowing that my affairs are in order.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Things to marvel over on a Tuesday

  • White horses carved into the hillside. I'd be hard pressed to draw that on a piece of paper.
  • Impromptu acts of kindness. My new neighbour bringing me a bunch of sage from her garden this evening.
  • The genorisity of those you have never met. Like Jules who is sending graham crackers and julochka who is putting up a host of bloggers for Blog Camp.
  • A burgeoning sense of community. My street has decided to organise a street party this summer. Road closed, bunting, sausages, homemade cakes, kids activities, music - the works.
  • A burgeoning sense of belonging here. In the blogging world that is. Looking forward to reading your comments and hearing what you are all doing, what you are laughing at, what games you are playing, what is making you sad or happy, what creative things you have been up to.
  • Growing stuff. How something that looked so dead I was going to throw it away can now be so green and full of life.

  • And how amazing the raindrops are on the leaves.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Ultimatum Friday

I'm not sure that this is going to be a regular feature like, for example, VEG (who has Eco Monday and Wipeout Wednesday) or the Fragrant Muse who has fragrant Friday.

Ultimatum Friday basically consists of telling the Prince of Darkness, otherwise technically and legally known as ones husband, that enough is enough and really there has to be some sort of conclusion to the attempt at a relationship that has been ongoing for the last couple of years. Or put it another way its the girlfriend or me, baby. Time to place your money/cards on the table to mix a metaphor.

The rules of Ultimatum Friday are that the the Prince is allowed a good couple of weeks to ponder the situation. He must either come up with a decision as to what he wants to do or at least a plan as to how he is going to make a decision. Other than that there really aren't any really any rules. There just has to be a decision at the end of the day.

I can't keep my life on hold for ever. I can't keep waiting for a man who doesn't know whether he wants to be with me. Its a thankless soul destroying job. Many times the easiest thing would have been to walk away. But I haven't because in our history he has waited many months for me to make a decision to be with him when I couldn't find the courage.

As I say not a regular feature I think (I hope). But just knowing that something, anything might happen is good. Some news is better than no news. And I am honestly looking forward to it, what ever it is.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

So tired I forgot to give this a title originally

As I write this post my feet are in a bowl of salted water. My brain has officially already gone to bed. I walked all day today. I ate two breakfasts, one lunch, one cake(I mean a whole cake not a slice of cake or a cupcake), one bag of crisps and I drank more than my own body weight in water. I have four blisters. I saw a white horse carved in the hillside, two lighthouses, some partridges (I think) and fields of poppies and daises. I am so tired that I can hardly think but I have all the happy endorphins rushing round so I am a little blissed out.

In this happy catatonic state I give you a short video clip of our very own Rambo hamster practising his maneouvres taken this weekend .

More coherent thoughts and words tomorrow.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

My rainbow

Yesterday there was a rainbow in the evening. Right outside my window. There is something inspiring about those colours, especially if they are set against a slate grey sky. I'm not superstitious but I think they are lucky for me. And hopeful, which was just what I needed yesterday.
Wednesdays are a very long day for me. I work all day in London, leaving home at 7am and getting back at 7pm having collected youngest from her childminder. At home, eldest and step-son are waiting for me. The opening conversational gambit of at least one of them will be "what's for dinner?" shortly followed by "how long will it take?". To be fair I should say that at some point later in the evening, usually after their appetites are sated, they will usually ask how I am and what sort of day I have had. I am not sure they listen to the answer but you can't have everything.
I have become an expert at uber quick Wednesday night recipes. As well frenzied chopping and stirring in the kitchen youngest needs to be bathed, fed a snack (by this time she will already have had two meals after school but she demands this snack as she knows I am cooking for the other two and she doesn't want to be left out), read a story and put to bed.
Added to this yesterday was one and a half hours of walking in London thanks to the tube strike. So I finally when I got to sit down and the rainbow appeared as if on cue right in front of my window I felt as if it were all mine. I also lay claim to the pot of gold at the end of it if anyone comes across it.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Other peoples stories

Today I made my risotto with tears in my eyes. Its not my story to tell. Its not even the story of a close and dear friend. But it is so sad it moves me to my core. My words are inadequate. All I can think to do is cook food for people who have no appetite. So, I cook for them and my children , with love and with tears and with a sense of appreciation of all that I have which is sharpened by another family's loss.

Today I wore my wedding ring on my ring finger. For the first time in over two years. Looking for some sort of comfort. Sentimental and foolish, I know.

Today is one of those days which will be more bearable tomorrow.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Random acts of smiling

I woke up today with a sense of irrational happiness. Looking at the facts today was:

a) a Monday morning
b) that meant that the lovely lovely weekend was over with the lovely lovely friends and the lovely lovely party
c) Monday is a going into work day which means getting on the train and commuting to London
d) And then getting on the tube (for which read fighting your way to overcrowded underground train) to get to the office
e) And at the office a huge (and I mean inches and inches) report awaited to be looked at
f) And its a boring report.

But despite all that I just felt disgustingly, obscenely happy. The sun was shinning (well this morning at least), and although I had to commute on the train it meant I could listen to the ipod, and read the paper and my book. I even thought I might see some deer from the train which always brightens the train journey. Ok I didn't see any deer but the point was I was so optimistic I thought I might.

Even the huge report failed to dampen my spirits. Normally in such circumstances I resort to comfort eating at desk. But today, despite the fact I had taken credit crunch lunch in with me, I exercised self-control and refrained from eating it before 11.30am - something of a record. Lord I felt good.

But I suppose the worst good thing was that I actually started smiling at people on the tube. Ok the first time it was by mistake because I was listening to a particularly funny podcast but it was such fun I just carried on. The range of reactions was so entertaining. From complete "I can't see the mad woman smiling at me and will therefore stare straight through her", to embarrassment, to confused smiles in return. It totally brightened my morning

On days like today I can take on the world. So today I can see myself fighting the local education authority and making sure that youngest has the education she needs; I can see that in his own dysfunctional way the Prince of Darkness does love me; I can see that whatever happens life is full of possibilities and new adventures.

So if tomorrow isn't like today I am going to read this post and remember how strong a little optimism can make me feel.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Thirteen for dinner

Isn't that so wonderfully Agatha Christie? Really this should be the story.

Not long after the party is assembled one of the dinner guests (a rather voluptuous, yet not entirely principled heiress to an international lingerie manufacturing conglomerate, called Miss Scarlet) mysteriously disappears. Brigadier Tartan quickly organises a search - all that can be found of her is a ruby red stiletto on the roof terrace next to her spilt Chanel No. 5 Rouge Noir nail varnish. Just as the hostess, Lady Walsingham, is about the call the local constabulary one of the guests volunteers that the world famous detective, Hercules Pilot, is not only a personal friend but is co-incidentally staying a matter of a few miles away. The well manicured detective arrives promptly and systematically sets about revealing the hidden secrets of all the guests. Cue long shots of anxious aristocracy nursing tumblers of whiskey before slowly confessing how they all had links to Miss Scarlet and a reason to do away with her....

Alas this was not my dinner for thirteen. Mine had no disappearing guests or Belgian detectives. Just lots of lovely food, laughter, a loud chorus of "Happy Birthday" at a rather inappropriate hour of the morning, some crazy plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, a pink watering can and several interesting stories about cling film.

The after shot...

Incidentally ask no further questions about Miss Scarlet and Brigadier Tartan....

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Meet my new man

This one will not go chasing after other women (chiefly because he will be neutered). He will be both handsome and cuddly. He will not expect cordon bleu cooking and will be happy with dinner from a tin. He won't mind sleeping on the floor. Obviously lack of opposable thumbs means he will not be able to open a wine bottle for me but I am sure he can be trained to bring snacks. He will listen sympathetically and not interupt. He will have low Christmas present expectations, indeed low all round present expectations. He will do as he is told!
He is moving in in four weeks. Can't wait.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

I want to marry a lighthouse keeper

Actually no I don't. Because for one, I am still married to the Prince of Darkness so that would be illegal and for two, my legs wouldn't stand it. Imagine how your heart sinks when you are all ready to go out an enjoy the sunshine and you realise that you have left the radio on. At the top of 126 steps.

But don't get me wrong. It was an amazing experience and something I will always remember. Things I loved...

The view from the top. Especially the sunsets.

The lantern room itself. The glass floor. The old lantern with a candle inside. Watching seagulls soaring past at eye level.

All the quirky nautical paraphernalia lying about the place. The ships bell. The captains hat and jacket. The diving helmet. The flying seagull in the kitchen (ok thats not nautical but it is quirky). The carved mermaid in the bathroom.

So moving on to the hints and tips for the would be lighthouse keeper:

  • Remember to buy upstairs and downstairs wine for the upstairs and downstairs fridges. That way however tired you are life will always seem bearable.

  • Keep a pen on each floor. Nothing more irritating than climbing 100 steps to find a pen.

  • Keep some energy drink and sugar snacks half way up the stairs for when the glucose levels dip.

  • Cancel gym membership immediately as all exercise will be taken in your own home and for free.

  • Learn to abseil so that you can paint the outside of your own house. Lets face it the local painters and decorators are not going to do it.

  • How ever tired always climb the stairs last thing at night to check out the view and remember how lucky you are.

  • Only look down from the balcony at the top if you are very very brave.

And if you can't be a lighthouse keeper, or indeed marry one, then the next best option is to have a holiday in one. I whole heartedly recommend it.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A little post

I am a little post. Post-holiday. Post-birthday. Post-30's. Post-sandy beach feet. Post-caravan. Post-lighthouse. Post-climbing 126 steps to get from top to bottom of the house (actually there is a little yay there). Come to think of it I am also post-unreliable wifi connections, post-no hot water in the kitchen and post-being entertained by the giant fox and chicken. To top it all I am also feeling post-healthy having today developed post-holiday head cold.

The holiday was very lovely despite dodgy/complete lack of wifi connection which rather hampered up to the minute reportage. Highlights of the first five days were:

Crab fishing off Brixham harbour. We bought a couple of lines, crab bait (some bacon from the butchers) and a bucket. Then we sat on the edge of the harbour for two hours and had the best entertainment possible for four quid (five if you include the coffee I bought). We caught four crabs. All of which were named and promptly returned to the bottom of the harbour. As we sat and talked youngest was inspired by the view and said that Brixham looked like Balamory (which probably means nothing if you are not the parent of an under 5 in the UK) but is certainly the most eloquent thing a small child can say to describe the view...

We watched auks diving under water . That's auks not orks (which would be a whole weird Lord of the Rings meets Waterworld type experience).

Incredible. Mesmerising. I could have watched for hours were I not dragged off by the children.

And the one day old penguin being fed by mother. I would post the picture but it does rather look as if the mother is attempting to swallow her baby whole which even I find vaguely distressing and I know what I am looking at.

The food. Fish and chips. And mushy peas (I may have lived in the south of England for 20 years but I remain a midlands girl at heart). The fresh crab (not the ones we caught obviously). The devon ice-cream. The cornish pasties (ok we weren't in Cornwall but they do a pretty good job in the county next door). The locally caught fish.

Collecting smooth sea washed wafer thin pieces of slate from the beach. I have no idea what I will do with them but they make the most delicious noise when you run them through your fingers.

The giant chicken entertainment in the evening...

Note: no crabs were harmed in the making of this post.

Tomorrow: hints and tips for the would-be lighthouse keeper.