Saturday, 28 May 2011

My daughter...the squirrel whisperer

Went for a nature walk this afternoon with the little lady, to collect some fallen bits and pieces (leaves, feathers and the like) ready for some drawing to be done from them, and thought we would visit the squirrels and take them some nuts.

I will add another video later, however here is my six year old doing her best to become the new Chris Packham (excuse my shoddy camera work!).

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Is alcohol really not for me any more?

Some may remember a blog earlier in the year where I'd decided I wasn't going to drink alcohol this year, except for on special occasions.  There was no real reason for this, other than, I guess, hangovers really really hurt.

For the most part of this year, I have had only a couple of occasions where I've had an alcoholic beverage...all celebrating one thing or another.  One of these also included a hangover which lasted all of the Saturday and curbed any drinking on the Saturday night (a weekend away with the girls, away from husbands and children...mums should not be allowed together without those we have to look after!!)

This year has been a bit up and down...there have been some surprising ups, and one really big down...that being that my husband lost his job at the end of January.  No warning.  No going through the channels a company is meant to go through.  Nothing.  Just a big set of Vs in his direction.  This was fought, and a more realistic, although not brilliant, agreement was put in place.

It's been a long four months, for which I won't bore you with details nor stresses, however the meester has finally been offered, and accepted, a new job, with a start date in the near future.  Am so very proud and pleased.

So this news, combined with the fact that it must be nigh on impossible to watch Eurovision sober, meant a weekend of excess was in order!!

The pair of us headed to Tescos on Friday, post swimming, to grab something nice for dinner, and some celebratory drinks.  As I approached the spirits I was facing my old friend...ah I have missed thee...

I opted to the litre bottle (obviously) and then the choice of cranberry and limes, as well as the stable diet coke, for a weekend of Bacardi bliss.

...but that just didn't happen.

The Friday night, I had one...that's it.  In fact, I found myself putting off pouring it for over an hour...I just didn't feel like it now faced with a bottle.

Saturday night came, and the same thing happened.  I had myself one Bacardi and cranberry and one with diet coke, along with a celebratory glass of cava (friend's son turns 18 this week).

Seriously, that's it.  I looked at the bottle this morning and realised I'd barely made a dent...certainly nothing like I would normally have on a night of celebration or Eurovision!  Then I noticed the cider outside had also hardly been touched...nor had the bottles of beer in the fridge (the tipples of my friend and husband).  What IS going on?

So is this it?

Have I reached the end of actually physically wanting to drink alcohol, or at the very least, wanting to drink very much of it?

I must admit I've barely noticed the "not drinking"...and oddly it's a glass of red wine that I miss, something that I hadn't really been in the mood for drinking much of last year!  I certainly don't miss hangovers...

The only conclusion I can come to is that I've lost the taste for it...only time will tell on that one.  Especially given the fact that when i made the decision to not drink this year I hadn't anticipated a holiday in Italy in the summer!  However the most important observation of this weekend has to be...MOLDOVA WAS ROBBED!

And on that note...I shall leave you with their entry...ENJOY!!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Apologies for the got in the way...

So much for my "blog a day".  Life went and threw a spanner in the proverbial works, which has meant February was a time of unrest.  Things, however, are settling now...still a few things to have to work through, but on the whole it's all starting to pick back up and seems we may have missed the last ball, but have taken up a new game in the meantime.

Last weekend was a busy one as I was helping out a good friend of mine with a wedding fayre she was exhibiting at.  My general duties were to bake 300 cupcakes and pimp my soul to brides tempting them to bare flesh for boudoir photographs...even a few mothers of said brides appeared to be tempted.

If you wondered what 300 cupcakes looked like ^^^

I also paid a visit to one of my cousins who I haven't seen in < mutters numbers > years, which was simply lovely, if fleeting.  Note to self, must invade for full w/e with the family very soon.

Last week was a busy one with work, as we were down the tunnels of South Kensington Tuesday and then I had my SPC course at the latter part of the week (I managed to scrape through...appears I forgot my brain for the exam!).

This week appears to be a week of meetings, which is rather unusual for me! However I have a w/e away on the South Coast with a couple of girl friends...three mums escaping for a couple of days...wager we'll be up by 7am each day!! Plan is to basically chill, laugh, catch up and have relaxing fun.  It'll be lush.

Head is swimming with ideas...things going on...things I'm waiting on...things I want to get done...and goals I want to set myself...will I ever get around to doing any of them???

Pointless...application and audition

Towards the end of last year I decided I wanted to apply for a tv quiz show called Pointless.

Pointless, for those who have never heard of it, is an afternoon quiz show on BBC2 hosted by Alexander Armstrong with the font of all knowledge that is Richard Osman.  The easiest way to describe it is like reverse Family Fortunes (or Feud for my American chums)...basically you are looking for the most obscure (ie pointless) answers to a question that has been asked.  One couple with the highest score is knocked out each round until one couple remain.  Final round you give three answers where ONE of them has to be pointless.

I got myself terribly hooked on this show - often playing it against the tv via the medium of Twitter (apologies to my followers for those ones!).  When I saw that application was open for Series 3 I thought I would apply and asked my friend, Scott, if he'd be my partner (he agreed).  By the time I got all the application done and signed, we'd missed the deadline...oh well...

A few months passed and I noticed it was now open for applications for Series 4 - so I changed dates and submitted, figuring we had nothing to lose.

To my surprise, we were selected for a 'phone interview by one of the researchers called Alex.  She spoke to both Scott and I, having a complete giggle on the 'phone.  This then lead to us being invited along for auditions in mid-December.

The audition day came around, Scott and I headed to west London, got to the hotel on our email early (an achievement for the pair of us), and sat down in the bar area waiting...

...and waiting...

...and waiting...

Half an hour passed by, and we figured something was wrong.  The person on reception had informed us that the "tv lot hadn't turned up yet" earlier, but now it looked like they weren't turning up at all.  Scott popped back to reception to double check.  Turned out they were the wrong hotel and we wanted the one two minutes walk down the road!!! GAH!!!

Scott & I hot-footed it out of the hotel, calling the production team en route to explain we were still coming.  We arrived all hot and flustered only to discover we weren't the last team and we still had plenty of time.  Introductions were made to various production team members, including Alex who we had both spoken to, and general introductions to the other potential contestants.

Once the remaining guests had arrived, we were whisked off to a boardroom to sign our lives away and do a quick quiz (shockingly poor show for me, I think).  Chats around the table commence, telling "interesting fact or stories" about yourselves.  Then it's time for a mini game of Pointless.

I should point out at this time that Scott had never seen Pointless until a few days before the audition.

The first two rounds were individual rounds (no conferring) and we had to decide who took which subject before the actual question was revealed.  The first subject was "Hollywood Legends" - which was obviously going to be Scott's subject...leaving me with the second subject of "Wannabe Celebrities" (oh lordy...I don't watch x-idol can dance...only one I was a fan of was Big Brother!).

So first question to Scott was "Name a Hitchcock movie" - he went with Rope that scored him a 3 - a most excellent score!  Was beaten only by one other answer.

My question came around and was "Name a Big Brother winner" - OMFG YES!!!  I was torn between Cameron Stout and Anthony Hutton...I plumped for Stout as Series Four was well known as the least favourite (incidentally I loved it because of Cameron).  Stout earned us a 1 point...had I gone with Hutton it would've been pointless.

Heading into the final conferring round, we were ahead with only 4 points...the next team was 20-odd away from us.  And then they dropped the bombshell...the next subject was Geography.  We looked at each other, swearing silently.

Then a second bombshell..."Name an African capital city"


I mean, WHAT!?!?!

Our swearing was most definitely heard.  We didn't have a fricking clue.  We spent much of our time wondering if Cairo was our only hope.  Sadly it cost us, as other contestants were whirring and clicking their way through names of cities that, if I'm honest, I don't think people in other African countries would have heard of! 

Adding 70+ points to our score left us in a respectable second place on the mini game.

Were we all dismissed and sent back to the reception area of the hotel, whilst they made their decisions over who to call back to a "to camera" interview.  So we all just stood around chatting.

One chap in a very loud waistcoat - you know the sort when you see them, they are the ones that think they are vastly more knowlegible than they actually are - was boasting of how much money he'd previously won on other shows.  Joining in on the brag was his wife, Double-Beadle (if you need that explaining, please ask - otherwise, use your imagination and you have it right!!!), who had also won considerable sums of money on shows.  Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuucccck!!!

Thankfully I got to be a bit smug when he was stating that "for the last three weeks he has been researching who invented peanut butter because 'no-one actually knows'".

"Yes they do" I reply

"I'm sorry, what?" comes a surprised retort

"They do know who invented it.  I looked it up just last week (true).  If I had a computer with me I could google the answer for you."

(Note: Marcellus Gilmore Edson patented what could be described as the first peanut butter, although slightly different from what we know)

Did I feel bad about slamming down his three weeks of research...not really, if I'm honest.

More impressive to me was the little old lady who was also "on the game show circuit" and had been for many years.  She'd been on many shows but my favourite she mentioned was Name That Tune.  I used to watch that when I was a kid - how they EVER named that tune in one I'll never know!!!

Some time passed by and we were ALL called back for the camera interview.

Scott and I just had a giggle, especially when Scott couldn't figure out how many days away his birthday was, and made it through to the end of it still laughing.  We left the auditions, figuring we'd had a fun morning regardless of whether we got onto the actual show...

Thursday, 3 February 2011

One month & two days and no alcohol

So it's been just over a month since I started on the task of an alcohol free year and if I'm totally honest, I don't really notice that I'm not having a drink.

I have given the proviso that on special occasions I can, if I want to, have a few alcoholic beverages.  However having celebrated both my husband's birthday and our wedding anniversary already in January, both passing without a tipple, I don't really see me actually bothering.

Of course, I say that now...however my birthday is towards the end of June, by which time I will be almost half way through the year.  

Mind you, one would hope I wouldn't do a repeat of my 18th birthday celebrations.  Like many, I started going pubbing and clubbing by the age of 16.  By 17, and upon passing my driving test, I preferred to be the designated driver, much to my Father's dismay, as I always had the car.  He once asked a 17 year old me why I was "always the one who had to borrow a car for the night?"...he couldn't argue with my answer of "I'm the only one who can enjoy a night without drinking and I like to see all my friends home safely" (can you tell what a geek of a teenager I was!?!)

So when it came round to my 18th birthday, I hadn't drank in seven months.  Mad Dog 20/20 was all the rage - this was my first time of trying it!  Some would say it was consuming 4 bottles in less than an hour.  Some would say it was only having a glass of milk and a Dairylea triangle lining my stomach was the issue.  Some would say it was the moon rising in the wrong sign.  I'm going to go with the combination of all over the above.

Stood in Times Square (pub in Warrington, not exciting place in New York) playing the Crystal Maze game (I was obsessed with it) and I passed out briefly before standing up and continuing playing - now THAT'S dedication!

I wasn't well shortly afterwards and the girls had to take me home (well, I was staying at a friends).  I remember one trying to get my contact lens' out.  The night was written off.  It was about half nine.  

I'd love to say my lesson was learnt...but it wasn't.  Hangovers get harder as you get older. They get even worse when you have children because no longer do you have the luxury of staying in bed, dying.  I honestly think one of the hardest things to do is to deal with a young child after a heavy night, having had only a couple of hours sleep, and whilst you are both still drink and also sobering to get your hangover...I'm sure I'm not the only parent who knows what I mean there...

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Isn't memory strange...

About 20 minutes ago, I was looking through some photographs of my former childhood BFF, smiling at photographs of her parent's farmhouse that I'd spent many an hour at as a child.

Memories came flooding back...smells...sights...playing with magnets near a very early computer screen...newborn lambs being placed in the low cooler oven of the range cooker...pretty much the idyllic country childhood memories.  The hours the pair of us spent walking the villages and countryside around where we lived.  Playing in becks and streams, in fields and woods...even swapping over the bicycles of our boyfriends once out of sight because she wanted my bf's BMX and I wanted her bf's Raleigh racer.

Aged 11 we headed off to Grammar school together, and due to luck with our surnames, remained in the same class.  Sadly, as often do, children fall out for one reason or another, but if ever asked, she will always have been referred to as my childhood BFF (as the term now is).

Two years later we moved away, I made new friends and life went on in the place I'd left behind.  It wasn't until years later that we found each other through Friends Reunited.  We planned to meet up, something happened that day and I couldn't make it...she then moved to the other side of the world.  

Thankfully Facebook has proved what it's good at...keeping people in contact, even if it's just the odd comment here and there.

So I was looking through these photographs and come across a completely beautiful photograph of my BFF and two other girls from the Grammar school, taken at the wedding of one of them.  Here were three grown up girls who have been best friends for 25 years...I've seen other photographs that indicate it's proper friendship, they've been there for each other all throughout that time.  Three smiles beam out of that photograph and I would defy anyone to find themselves not also be smiling if they viewed it - it's just one of those photos.

...but then it made me just a teensy bit sad.  Sad because I don't have that...

Don't get me wrong, I have lots of friends, hell, even a load of really really close friends, something I feel very lucky to have...but no-one from school days...not that has been there since then.  I don't have a friend that I played with as a child, that I learnt with as a teen, that I got drunk with as a late teen, that shared loves, losses and bad perms with...that then moved on to growing up, getting married and (for me) children.  

Closest I come to is from in my very early 20s and to be honest, they are family - does that count!?! LOL!

So am I missing out?

Do many have childhood friends still very much in their lives?  Or do you only know them through the medium of things like Facebook?  Maybe you don't have any in your life at all?

When I look back at the photograph after these thoughts have been racing around, I realise that most likely it's only actually my former childhood BFF who would even remember my name.  We had two years together before entering big school, and I stayed for only two before we moved.  I wasn't popular.  I was quite picked on.  I sooooo wanted to be liked.  I doubt staying would have changed any of that.

I shall go back to looking at the photograph and feeling happy for the ladies on pleased that they have what they have.  I'm not bitter or jealous...I just can't help wondering that if we'd stayed, would I have been there too? :-)

Maybe sometime in the future I can get to one of the reunions and have a drink and a catch up...I think I'd like that...

Monday, 24 January 2011

It's must be Rantday

Before I start, a disclaimer should my father read this. I apologise for any and all foul language I am about to use. Lots of love, your little girl. x

So where shall I begin?

Those on twitter who are also reading this will know I'm being very special at the moment, having progressed through flu and then screwed up my left ear which has, in turn, made me feel permanently drunk...not good drunk...I mean the holding on to your bed to stop it from spinning kind of drunk.  This sucks because a) it's not a nice drunk to be and b) I've stopped drinking alcohol since the new year started so feeling this type of drunk wasn't on my planed agenda this year.

Anyway, I returned to work today after a week off dying in my flu-bed (sheer will power knowing series three of Being Human was just around the corner pulled me through!), and despite little bits of wobbling (I fell off my boot twice this afternoon - yes, I'm THAT special!), I made it through the day and actually did manage productive work! (I'll let you all sit down for a second)

So it comes to home time.  My time scale from leaving work to get to station, on train, then bus to school to collect the little lady is a very tight one.  I can miss the earlier train and just make it, but I cannot, absolutely CANNOT miss the 1437 otherwise I will be late.

I leave the office, wobble my way through Stratford to the station, and as I approach I reach into my bag to grab my pass wallet, which contains a load of work info cards, all my "tickets" to do with my job plus my Oyster's not there...

I place a quick call to my boss to ask if my pass wallet is on my desk - this makes a big difference in just how pissed off I am going to be, because if I've lost it away from the office I have to pay to replace my work passes and it could cause a LOT of hassle with work...but before I get an answer my phone dies.  You useless sack of shit!!!  Fuck you LG, your GD900 Crystal is a piece of shit.  You did fuck all with it.  You developed NOTHING for it.  Those that did couldn't be bought because you were only allocated 100 of your fecking credits and you couldn't top the bloody credits up!  For the last six months I have lived with all it's faults, it's main one being that it would turn itself off whenever it felt like time has gone on this has got worse and, if I receive one, maybe two texts, that's's dead...the only saving grace is that complaints by the meester means I have a little over two weeks until I can change phone early in my contract...never again will I buy an LG phone.

Whilst this is going on I get randomly complimented on my hair (a throw away "thanks" is the best I can do, I try not to be rude), this is followed up with "who does it? I'm not doing a survey".  

I reply me, whilst still walking on and trying to make the call...

"Could I possibly interest you in visiting out salon?"

"erm, no thanks" I reply, looking rather confused as to why this man is deciding the person with a face like thunder who is also swearing at her phone would even be the slightest bit interested in going to have her hair done...

"Oh...can I ask why not?"

"I don't like hairdressers."  A true fact.  I don't like people touching my hair, only a choice few are allowed.

I walk on leaving him rather confused as to how a woman doesn't like hairdressers.

Once at the station, I realise I have to get myself a ticket...I have 7 minutes until the 1437...I look at my options:

Two machines, cards or correct change only - so they were out.
Oyster card quick ticket - also out.
HUGE queue to a human - no chance.
Final machine that will give change that has two people at it buying their tickets - THAT'S MY QUEUE! Excellent.

No.  Not excellent.  Apparently I gave the two people at the machine too much credit.  I had assumed, foolishly it seems, that they would be at least semi-intelligent beings capable of selecting a ticket, paying for it, collecting it and skipping off on the rest of their journey...

Instead it would appear that they were two fat retarded cnut-fuckers who couldn't understand that if the machine had spat out a coin 19 times, it was unlikely to actually accept it when you tried for the 20th...the minutes tick away.  To my left I note that a man is gradually trying to get in front of me...I give him a look of imminent-nad-death and he retreats.  I am now muttering...and not all that quietly.  As the special couple cancel their selection I breath a slight sigh of relief, only to see them attempt to select things "oh for fucks sake" and look of complete disbelief finally made the woman realise maybe they had been outwitted by the machine...they leave and join the queue to speak to a human.

I check the clock, 1435...I have two minutes...

The machine itself appears to be slightly retarded...I try to put in R followed by O to be able to select my destination, only for it to be miscalibrated and it kept offering up an N instead.  I resign myself to sticking with the R only and scrolling down to select my station. money in, change and ticket given, BISH BOSH 1436...I still have time to get my train.

I must admit I make a habit of NOT running for public transport...there is always another train/bus/tube in a few minutes and generally speaking, it works just fine...but today I ran. 

I ran through the gate.

I ran through the tunnel.

I ran against the tide of people on the stairs.

I see my train in the platform...I made it!  I actually fucking made it!!!

beep beep beep beep


The train doors close...the train departs with me stood there...see, THIS is why I don't run for transport.  Had I sauntered and missed it, I'd have been "meh" about it...but I didn't...I made every effort to catch that train and I failed.

I blew a fuse.  I turned around and made the choice between things in my left and right hand to throw on the platform whilst screaming (a good scream always does let out a good deal of scream).  Thankfully for me, it was the newspaper I decided to throw, and not the useless piece of technology I had in my other hand.

An old woman smirks and passes a "always happens" to me.  I pick up my paper, turn around and walk a little down the platform, before sitting down.  It's then I notice the member of staff edging his way towards me.  He obviously thought I was a complete loon. He stood near me for the next 4 or 5 minutes for fear I took my anger out once again on my innocent newspaper, no doubt.  I sit there on the verge of tears as I was now going to be late to collect my daughter and had no way of getting hold of anyone to either grab her for me, or even to advise the school, so she's just going to be stood there, with her teacher, waiting...

I look over to the platform opposite...and there in yellow LEDs is my shining hope...there is a super fast train!  It's not one I normally get...but yes! There it is.  Just waiting for me to make the short stroll over to that platform...I have one minute.

This time I stroll, I make it in time for that train and I get to Romford at my normal time! WOW, I think, things are looking up :) (anyone still reading this?)

I miss two buses that pull away from my bus stop when I'm still across the road, no worries, they ARE frequent.  Money at the ready I board the next bus, only to be greeted with a price increase...let's not even go into the fact I have a travelcard on my Oystercard that is on my desk and am now paying £2.20 for a journey that is actually 3 stops (and yet a 20 minute walk).  I hand over the money.

A couple of stops down, I press the buzzer thing a little before my stop, edging forward on my seat (I don't want to stand whilst the bus is moving due to the imbalance thing I have at the moment)....and oh...oh right...not stopping at my stop then?  I give a "erm, what?" to the bus driver who then muttered something back before just stopping some way after the bus stop without any apology.  I forewent my normal "thanks" as I disembarked.

Turns out I have enough time to drop a shopping bag and my bag at the car before going to the school, nothing could go wrong there, surely?  Well...except your MP3 player falling out of your pocket, dropping off your headphones and landing somewhere under your car, obviously!!  So hands and knees, arse in the air, builders butt crack on show, various school mums passing by as you are swearing underneath your car, all whilst I try to find it...nice!

I get to the school and all melts when I see the little lady beaming, who greets me with a big kiss and cuddle.  I decide to take her to McDonalds (something she's wanted all week as it's Scooby Doo) NOTHING can go wrong here :)  I mean, it's McDonalds.  All I want is a Happy Meal.  She wants fish fingers, fruit bag and a water.  20 minutes later we get served.  I try not to hurt anyone.  

"Turns out we don't have any fruit bags..."

I ask the little one would she like carrot sticks or fries...carrot is the answer

The girl behind the till is already shaking her head...

"You don't have carrot sticks either?  What is the fucking point of advertising a choice if you only have fries?  Whatever, just give her fries..."

"What drink did you want?"

"Water.  Unless you don't know the recipe for water..."

My comment passes over her head...

And so we leave...I pick myself up some lovely filled pasta as I feel I want some very nice NOM to cheer myself up.  Home, dinner cooked and eaten, and I feel a lot better...of course, it could have been the baby girl cuddle that did that...

Oh...and on my way in a girl sat next to me and promptly started doing her makeup on the train...I should've just gone home then...