A Curious Case of Spontaneous Inflation

I’m struggling to write today – not for want of a topic but because I am so bloody sleepy. Literally, one 4am get up has completely scuppered me for about 3 days – you wouldn’t think I was in my mid twenties. I’m in the prime of my life for gods sake, how did I end up living like a petulant 90 year old? It’s concerning that I see far more similarities between myself and Molly that between myself and that of anyone under the age of 30. Gone is the party lifestyle (jokes – when did I ever actually have that?), gone is the youthful enthusiasm and sense of adventure (again, I don’t think I ever actually had either of those. I’m still waiting to grow into that kind of person) and gone is the ability to get up early and mot complain about my aching joints. Instead I ricochet from day to day just waiting for the point where I’m able to get into bed and  go to sleep. Occasionally I will be motivated by the idea of doing some kind of craft project or the (very) fleeting urge to tidy the bathroom, but by the time I get home all drive has leaked out and I’m left collapsed on the couch making a slight whining sound like balloon with the air escaping.

I am wallowing now though, like a big sad slug and (as all good counselling teaches) that is just not on. Instead, I must embrace the positives and I am lucky enough to have plenty of those. Indeed, though it does not always feel like it, TMM and I are trying our best to fight against our natural proclivity to hibernate and instead embracing being action and spontaneous. Our National Trust Memberships (whilst not helping combat the pensioner image) have been getting us out of the house and all over the country with gay abandon. We’ve seen more manor houses and country estates than strictly necessary, but I’ve enjoyed every one and now have plenty of inspiration of how my mansion will look when I come into money. We’ve also tried to make sure that we’re picking up new positive habits – I’ve written “planked?” on the bathroom mirror in washi tape and TMM has new back exercises to help him limber up and stop slouching about like Quasimodo.

The jewel in our spontaneity crown has to be this weekend though. If you’d have asked us last Wednesday what we had planned, we wouldn’t have been able to say. By Thursday evening though, we had tickets for the International Bristol Balloon Fiesta and a travel lodge booked for the Saturday night. Now that might not seem like the world’s biggest achievement, but for those that know us it’s clear that that’s a pretty big step. Typically, anything we plan has to be at least 2 months in advance, must be seriously discussed at least twice, will go through countless plan revisions (which TMM will repeat to me at least twice a day, subtly rewording sections because he thinks that way I won’t notice that he’s just parroting) and then will end up not going according in any way or shape like how it was supposed to. It’s a rhythm we’ve come to embrace and have settled into rather despondently. However, thanks to Classic FM (I swear to God, it’s like we’re not even trying to deny we’re OAPs) and a rather hysterical WhatsApp exchange, the Balloon Fiesta sucked us in and we went from hearing about it to actually going in less than 3 days.

Now, this isn’t to say there wasn’t the usual amount of panic. Booking everything was mostly done whilst in a flustered haze and then we had to print EVERYTHING out and put it all in sensible plastic wallets. On the way there I was in charge of SatNav (which is always a challenging experience) and TMM had to practice his deep breathing exercises whilst we were driving through the centre of Clifton. Still, we made it in in one piece and had a preliminary wander around the area, which was distressingly lovely (seriously, I didn’t know how much I needed a veranda with a swing chair until I saw about 300 of them). We treated ourselves to tea in a fancy restaurant as well, where I learnt a valuable lesson about myself – the fact that I apparently have a chip on my shoulder about the size of Mexico when it comes to posh people. I mean, I was already a bit anxious about being in such a nice restaurant, regardless of the fact we were sat outside, in a corner, doing our best Lady and the Tramp impression. But then we were settled next to “Charlie” and “Freddie” who were there visiting their parents. They proceeded to pompously discuss “day trips to Lisbon”, how to correctly pronounce Laurence Llewelyn Bowen (with far more phlegm than was strictly necessarily apparently) and the “mostly unknown but truly artistic second album of Shakakhan”. TMM had to give me various warning looks to stop me scoffing in a distasteful northern fashion and making an idiot of myself. However, we didn’t let my grimy working class soapbox ruin tea or run away without paying (even though I tried to convince TMM we totally could and they’d never catch us alive), and we even managed to make it to bed for 11pm in preparation for our early start.

That was another new one (for me, not TMM who is the proverbial early bird) – the joy of a Sunday morning 4am start. It was a bit of a shock to the system I can tell you, but I am nothing if not adaptable. Whilst I complain heavily about mornings and the actions I am required to complete during them, I am actually pretty nifty once I’m out of bed. From the first alarm to getting out of the door, I was ready to go in 30 minutes (and at least half of that was lying in bed and girding my loins). By the time we were in the car though, I think we’d both gone from feeling a bit sick and shell-shocked to overexcited and mildly hysterical. TMM had a slight panic over the directions, but my soothing dulcet tones (and continually shouting of “OMG HOT AIR BALLOONS”) got him through and we were parked up and settled on our picnic blanket with an excellent view with time to spare.


If you look hard enough, you can actually see the madness in my eyes.

I can quite happily say though that the whole thing was most emphatically worth it. We were actually there before some of the balloons were, so we got to watch a couple of them turn up and be unfolded from their trailers. There’s something a bit odd about seeing so many huge balloons all spread out like damp tea towels, but we did enjoy all the tinkering with gas burners that went on (lots of ooh’s and ahh’s from the gently swelling crowd). There was one mildly concerning point (read – heart-stopping fear) when the little man on the tannoy announced that we were waiting for the discussion in the Balloonist’s Pavilion (which is my new favourite place name ever) regarding whether or not the flight would actually be going ahead. Whilst perhaps an obvious concern, I had not even factored on the notion that the whole thing was weather dependant. They had a rather hilarious set up reminiscent of the papal smoke signals – red smoke would indicate a no go, amber would mean a tethered lift and green would be Go Dog Go. Whilst I could appreciate the novelty of the situation, I did get a bit breathless and I think I may have left some nail marks on TMM’s arm whilst waiting for our signal, but thankfully it was a hearty green cloud and I didn’t have to worry about making a spectacle of myself by wailing loudly and throwing myself prostrate across a balloon corpse.

The actual even itself was truly magical – it did exactly what it said on the programme. I even got a bit emotional at one point, but I blame that on the classical music they were piping out and the fact I’m always a bit delicate after an early start. I do have to say though, the whole event most definitely reinforced my desperation to run away in a hot air balloon and become an aeronautical pirate. If Felix “Nadar” Tournachon, the first aerial photographer and inventor of crowd control barriers, could launch a balloon in 1863 that was so big that it could heft a two storey cottage under it (complete with a balcony, working lavatory and wine cellar), I’m pretty sure I can find a way of making a life for myself in the clouds in this day and age. I could travel the seven skies and see the world whilst stealing booty from passing planes. It think it would be an excellent way to survive.

There were a couple of balloonists on Sunday who I think lived by this kind of mind-set too. A couple of nutters who had decided that just strapping a garden chair with a seatbelt to the bottom of a balloon was a great idea had fun bobbing about up and down for a while, and the Royal Navy managed to show of by launching a para-glider and a couple of guys in parachutes all at once.

One of my personal favourites though was a blimp with an engine that was up pretty much before anyone else and proceeded to lap the field, crashing into other balloons with gay abandon and ricocheting between them quite unconcernedly.


 I couldn’t help but hear the music from the Baron Bomburst’s blimp in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at this point.

Overall though, it was a spontaneous trip that was a complete success and I am immensely proud of us. With weddings, journeys to visit friends and possibly photography shoots (TMM is deadly serious about his new camera – it’s rather adorable) still to come, this is hopefully a positive sign that we will continue on our upward trajectory into functioning adulthood…Who knows!

15 Ways I Can Keep You Safe (and ruin a perfectly good article whilst I’m at it)

Hola Amigos (I said, in a horribly mismatched multilingual fashion).

Just few points to bring to the table since our meeting last week before we get to the main agenda:

  1. The Mars Curiosity Rover celebrated its birthday on Sunday, and in keeping with tradition, it sang itself a little Happy Birthday (plus hip hooray) which succeeded in being simultaneously the most adorable and the most HEARTWRENCHING event ever. I mean, I love that it’s scientists parents have programmed it to be able to do this, but oh my god how sad is it that it’s all by itself? I know it’s a machine but I am painfully attached to it and have a desperate urge to send it a balloon.
  2. I bought not one but TWO dresses in preparation for the upcoming nuptials of TMM’s sister. I’m quite proud of this because not only does it mean I am nearly ready for one wedding (minus shoes, hat or hair colour), I am also going to be prepared for the marriage of TMM’s brother in February. Admittedly, I was nearly brought to tears at one point, but TMM was very encouraging and didn’t judge me at all for making him drive all the way to a shopping outlet only for me to have a stress and have be taken home practically immediately.
  3. Our mission to visit every National Trust property in the land was brought one step closer to realisation when we went to visit Kedleston Hall. TMM took some superb pictures and it made me realise how much I desperately need a Marble Hall and a circular ballroom.
  4. I have now convinced 4 other people to read the Rivers of London series and am feeling IMMENSELY proud of myself. They are just too good.

For the main event though, I’ve been inspired this week to write a commentary about an article I stumbled across on Facebook. I follow a large number (probably too many) pages that throw up listicles and the like on a regular basis about pretty much everything under the sun. From the growth rates of polar bears to 4 ways to skin an egg, nothing is safe from their scrutiny. This particular one was focused around personal safety and security which you might not think is a particularly funny topic, but by the end of it I’d put myself into a fit of hysterics. Prepare for muchos sarcasm.

15 Tricks That Might Just Save Your Life

Diply.com/life-saving-tips?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=artsy

Handily numbered, the article provides tips and guidelines that range from quite sensible to rather ridiculous, and then there were just some that I clearly had much better answers for.

  1. Use your Head

For the first one, they go straight in with the big guns #NoMessing. I can respect this. “A well placed headbutt can wonder wonders, much more than punches or kicks.” I mean, I was thinking maybe thinking they meant logically –perhaps  take a second to assess your situation and try and reason your way out of it. Not so. “Your head is big, hard and armoured”. Mainly – whack the crap out of your attacker like one of those pecking bird toys. Though try and do it so you aim right and damage their nose and don’t knock yourself out. Remember kids – violence is always the answer.

2. If someone attempts to abduct you, scatter your belongings.

“Leaving evidence at the scene of a crime could help investigators track you down.” This is a bit of a Hansel and Gretel scenario. You want to leave behind enough of a trail that if you are smuggled away there is enough evidence that you can at least be identified as missing (rather than just incredible unlucky and a bit clumsy). The trouble is, I’m not sure how many items I have on me at any one point that I can scatter behind that a) are easy to drop, b) not my phone which I would like to try and keep so I can ring for assistance c) aren’t just random crap that would be less of an alert of ‘Eleanor has been abducted!’ and more or a ‘wow, what complete tramp of a child has just chucked all these starburst wrappers and bus tickets here’?

3. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

For this example someone was obviously dead chuffed that they could use ALL of their Muhammad Ali gifs.  “Standing still makes you an easy target. If you’re able to keep moving, you can avoid being attacked – and give yourself an opening to make your move” (I don’t know what they’re thinking my move is, but I can guarantee it will not be as impressive as Ali).

Indeed running in zigzags will save you from crocodiles and bullets, but I’m not too sure about anything else if I’m honest. Let’s face it, anybody attacking me is more likely to be faster than I am through dint of being an attacker (and therefore likely more experienced) and probably not as unhealthy and sluggish as I am. I think I would have more chance of just lying on the floor and doing dead weight.

Can you guess which one is me?

    4. Learn some pressure points.

“Don’t fight hard, fight smart”. Motivational words there. I mean, this is sound reasoning and there’s nothing more fun than being able to knock someone out from a Vulcan death grip, but the diagram shown is perhaps a little involved to remember under pressure. I much prefer Miss Congeniality “S.I.N.G – Solar plexus, Instep, Nose, Groin”- . As my dad always said, don’t be afraid to fight dirty. Go for bits and peepers every time.

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   Who is going to remember this in a crisis? It would be more use just to keep jabbing at them – according to this diagram you’re bound to hit something.

     5. Home invasion? Head for the kitchen.

This sounds oddly more like some kind of motivational America craft diy show. Some preppy high pitched painfully cheery blonde lady in a pink cardigan is encouraging you to find handy homemade weapons. However, I do feel oddly validated by this as it was always my plan of action. Ask my mum. “Go to the room in your house that’s full of potential weapons.” When I was little, I used to plan routes to the kitchen and what weapons I could use to defend myself. Admittedly, I don’t think I had really thought it through properly as I was convinced the best option was the blender. Still, at least I am more likely to survive than any teen in a slasher movie.

6. Toss your wallet

There isn’t really much I can say about this. It’s pretty sound, though it’s important to note that you must throw your wallet off to one side and then be prepared to scarper, not just lightly through it at them like a gentle game of ball. This is a distraction technique people! I mean, with my aim I could probably aim to throw it off to one side and then hit them in the face with it, so I reckon this could work.

7. What to do if you feel threatened in an elevator.

Fart.

(That’s not what they suggested, but it’s definitely going to do more for you that what they said.)

8. Don’t be afraid to yell.

“Fuck off you fucking attacker!” They recommended things like “Fire” or “Help” but I really don’t think that’s sufficient. People are prone to avoiding confrontation and usually veer away from someone shouting, so I think it’s important to make the situation abundantly clear from the off.

9. Know how to escape zip ties.

I love this one and do think it’s clever. Being able to manipulate your restraints is hella spy-like and cool and something that I do think should be drilled into younger people so that it’s something that comes to mind readily when they’re in dire peril. However, literally once the video is over I have immediately forgotten what to do and would probably end up resort to trying to knaw through them with my pointy sharp incisors.

10. If you’re being followed, take action.

Don’t start flashing all your shiny technology and suchlike. Instead, secret it all about your person and head to a public place. Then (this is where I wanted to add my input) maybe point at your follower and be like – “Look at this weirdo following me” which will hopefully shame them into very quickly not following you.

11. Wear dual purpose jewellery.

Again, I can see the sense in this, however the ring in the article is taking the piss a bit. I was always a fan of putting your keys between your fingers so you’ve got your own personal shank, but I can’t say I’ve ever actually had to utilise it (thank god). There’s really only so much you can do about “personalising weaponry” though before all your knife theme earrings and garrotting necklaces get confiscated. TMM get’s panicked enough about taking his teeny tiny penknife off his key ring if we’re going anywhere, so I can imagine he’s not going to be happy with me packing a Smith & Wesson in my handbag and telling everyone it’s just a lighter.

ring22

Come on now, this is just silly.

    12. Take a self-defence course.

Well…obviously. But if I haven’t got around to that by the time I attacked, it’s going to be a fat lot of use. However, after watching Wonder Woman I am incredibly invested in the idea of taking some courses. I just need a friend and not be a complete wimp about organised exercise classes, strangers, being touched by people and being out in public.

13. Let your hair down.

I’m sorry, but this one seems like guff. If you have long hair, it’s going to be pretty easy to grab whether it’s up or down. Let’s face it, unless you’re bald your hair is going to be a handhold for nefarious types regardless of how you style it. The only way I could only see this being useful is if you’re like a lizard and your hair just automatically falls off when attacked and means you can run to safety and leave your would-be assaulter holding a handful of hair and wearing a bemused and slightly disgusted expression.

14. Kick the knees to get away.

This made sense when I read it and I did like it, but then I saw the gif and now I freaking LOVE it. I’m going to try and convince TMM to let me try it

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I mean, good lord how FUN does this look?

    15. Pull on your attackers ear.

And then slap their bottom round in a circle. Or, you know, just rip it off in a wild and untamed manner. Either works. Whatever happens, ears are fragile and you can definitely win this fight.

Well I hope you enjoyed my re-telling of this security based classic, and you’ve learnt some key facts to keep you safe in the future. I’ve enjoyed myself far too much than is strictly necessary and will be keeping an eye out for more articles to rip the shiz out of for your delectation. Until next time my little warriors.

~

All images are taken from the article listed, except the cat on a leash which was found on this Buzzfeed article (which in itself is worth a read) – https://www.buzzfeed.com/briantron/walking-a-cat?utm_term=.oyDQPY4nM#.msKm6PalY via Morgan James / Via youtube.com

 

Less of a Do-er, More of a Don’t-er

Well hello there dearest readers.

I must apologies for being lax in posting recently, but as usual I went on holiday and promptly shirked all responsibilities like a big old butterfly bursting free from a cocoon. However, I am now back and will be updating as per the schedule, though I can’t say I am too happy about being back in the real world. I mostly spent Monday trying desperately to stop my head thumping on my desk and letting tiny screeches of devastation escape. I basically sounded like a deflating balloon and definitely didn’t look much better. I should have realised that the morning wasn’t really getting off to an auspicious start when The Man Muffin discovered a mutilated and bloody rib cage/spleen combo on the cream carpet of the bedroom at about 6.30am. We’re rapidly coming to the conclusion that Buckycat believes that when we go away for days at a time, it’s because we’re having to scavenge for food. In attempt to help us, he brings in various rodents in numerous stages of death/decay so that we may snack on them and he doesn’t have to worry about us abandoning him again. The gesture, whilst heart-warming in it’s conception, is getting a bit tiring in it’s physicality. Spending the Monday morning I am due back into work sat on the floor in my pants scrubbing at sizable blood splatter whilst raging at the fact my holiday is over is not really what I’m looking for in life.

In fact, I am rapidly come to the realisation that I am just not meant to be a worker. I just feel like nothing prepared me for this. School and University do not do justice to the amount of time you have to spend in an office when you’re a grown up and childhood does nothing to get you ready for the real world. For example, when you’re younger your parents encourage you to try things you don’t like in an attempt to see if they can wean you on to it – like cucumber. They give you a little bit with tea one night, prompt you to taste it and then promise if you don’t like it you don’t have to try it again for a while. Then a few weeks later they give it another go and this continues sporadically for about a year until it becomes apparent that either you have learned to love the cucumber or that is a relationship that will never flourish and should just be given up on.

Well I’ve tried work for 7 years now and I can categorically and without a shadow a doubt state that I do not like it. At all. Not even a smidge. I resent the early mornings and the having to talk to people all day and being forced to do things that are not craft or cake eating (and therefore unworthy of my time) for a majority of my day. My week off proved to me that I was so much better at life when work didn’t get in the way. I also realised that, surprisingly, I actually saved money whilst being on holiday. Admittedly, part of that is due to the fact TMM drives us everywhere and sorted most things, but I was still quite surprised. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been when practically the first thing I did when I got to work was go on Amazon and buy myself two books as a reward for actually making it to the office. To that end, I really do think it is time that I am allowed to give up. #firstworldproblems

To look back fondly on happier times (you know, that one week where I WASN’T at work) with one of those misty 1940’s screens, I’m already getting a bit emosh that they are over. We spent mornings having leisurely breakfasts in sunny gardens, visiting beaches (called Mwnt – pronounced Munt and making us Beach Munters, trolololol) and National Trust castles, as well as achieving childhood dreams (mine, not Ross’ even though it was technically his birthday holiday).

 This is St. Catherine’s – or Azkaban as I affectionately call it. After seeing it from the bay for years during every holiday to Tenby and never actually being able to get in it, Mother and I had to fight back tears of hysteria and joy when we realised it was now accessible. Starting off as a Napoleon era fortress, it’s transitioned through two world wars as well as being a family home during the 30s and a Zoo in the 70s. They’re hoping to be able to get more funding for it and do more with in the future, which is obviously a perk for us.

We also spent time visiting families (so happy), seeing kittens (SO CUTE), having a sneaky visit to Hay on Wye (so joyous) and collecting presents for TMM wherever we went. Admittedly, I lost major Fiancée points by only realising half way to Wales that I had forgotten my presents for him. This was then compounded when we got home and it became clear I hadn’t actually finished or wrapped them either. Still, after having to banish him to the kitchen for twenty minutes and furiously sorting everything out, I like to think he was happy with the outcome. Though if not, he’s left it a bit late to complain now… In true birthday fashion though, TMM has also treated himself (as should be done) and purchased a brand new super shiny camera (to go along with him super snazzy camera satchel and 400 other camera bits). We have watched all the Master of Photography, bought all of the magazines and I’ve already been told to pose dangerously on rotten logs so he can get his photo jam on. I have to say though, it’s nice to see him so invested in something, and he is a bit of a cutie with all his gear so I’m definitely not complaining.

And here we see a Man Muffin, in his natural habitat. See how he settles himself to take the perfect photo, oblivious to any threat of danger in his quest to take the perfect picture.

I’ve also spent this last week encouraging my book club (I say club, there’s literally just the three of us in a whatsapp group) to read Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch and believe they are now sufficiently hooked enough to read all 6 books (+ 3 graphic novels and 1 free audio book) so that we can gush about them together. Because gush we bloody well will. I thought I was doing very well with this series too; remaining sensibly detached and un-obsessed with it. Guess what? It didn’t last. I think I lulled myself into a false sense of security but the moment I got to the last book I knew it had all been a lie and I am now OB-FREAKIN-SESSED with them. Seriously, I’m trying to reason with myself that it’s not really sensible to just start the whole series again from the beginning, but I’m not sure if I’ll win that fight. I do have to say though, I can’t recommend them enough. One of the main reviews that’s pasted all over the front covers describes the series as “What would happen if Harry Potter grew up and joined the fuzz”. Now whilst this might be a good tag line to draw readers in, I think that barely scratches the surface of what makes these books so darn good. Our hero, Peter Grant, is drawn into a world of magic that (whilst not being out there for everyone to know about) is still pretty established and acts in such a way that makes you think “yep, that’s pretty much what I’d do”. His voice is written in a way that is so accessible and relatable (which has got to be a pretty nifty achievement since the lead character is a 30ish, mixed race male copper, and I am a slightly younger, white female wimp) and treats the subject matter (mostly magic and murder) in exactly the way I want it to be dealt with. His confusion and education aren’t glossed over in a cheesy montage in favour of action-based DRAMA, but instead dealt with in a surprisingly realistic (yet still enjoyable) way. They even  go to some geeky corners of studying the science behind the magic in a way that pleases my inner nerd immensely. It’s not just Peter though; each of the characters are fleshed out and dealt with in a way that proves they aren’t infallible, but just doing what they can. They make decisions that I think I would find myself making in similar situations and regardless of their magic or non-magical status, they are incredibly human in how the deal with things. I mean, it probably also doesn’t hurt that one of the character DCI Thomas Nightingale is a stone cold fox and appeals to me in the kind of way old men coppers always seem to (Hey Lewis).

The thing is thought, Aaronovitch has perfectly managed to make sure that he never once falls into cliché or trope. Every single time a situation seems to be going a certain way, he doesn’t just avoid it, he bloody well blows your expectations out of the water and goes somewhere else entirely. He easily spans various genres, incorporating urban fantasy, magical realism, crime, thriller and comedy in such a seamless way I would really struggle to know where to place in on the library shelf. Considering he manages to do this consistently through each book that I’ve read (plus the graphic novels), I really can’t see myself getting out of this rut anytime soon…Back to the bookshelf!

Rivers

 I mean, come on. Just look at them for Pete’s sake! How these have not been picked up for a TV show yet I will never know.

 

 

 

Well That’s Embarrassing 

I have to say, I’m quite enjoying the “listicle” form of writing at the moment – I find it lends itself to blogging very well.  I enjoyed my Five Facts post (so much so I will look to do another one in the future. Facts are the best), and I’ve got plenty of other things I can list.

For this particular post, I was inspired by something I saw something the other day (though I can’t remember for the life of me what it was) and it served the dual purpose of making me laugh and also cringe epically whilst writing.

Everyone has certain memories of those horribly embarrassing situations that you can look back on with painful clarity, and hopefully the below 4 will encourage you to laugh (and die a little) about your own.

5 Embarrassing Things Eleanor Has Done:

1 – Let’s face it, in our 7 years together The Man Muffin has seen me at my best, my worst and every other which way he possibly could, so it’s only right I start this list off with one of the many times he’s seen me make a complete tit of myself. Let me set the scene for you. We’d been going out for a few months, still in the first flushes of love and I was obviously doing my best to be the most alluring and ladylike I could be (which was a struggle, I can tell you). So obviously it’s at this stage that I had to completely ruin it. I ‘d been staying over in Ross’ block for a few days and in need of a shower, I had snuck across the hallway like a ninja (as it was an all boys block and no matter how well you know them, a group of boys will always shout “WAHEY” at a lady obviously leaving a fellow boy’s room). The bathroom itself was reminiscent of a swimming pool’s changing room, with a line of shower cubicles set next to three toilets and all pretty much open to the elements. I’d already stripped into the towel ready to just fling myself into the shower at a moment’s notice, and was already sliding across the stupidly slippery tile floor as Ross followed behind. Just as I had gone to get into the shower like some kind of delicate water nymph my foot skidded and unable to find purchase I went down like the proverbial sack of spuds. Being as each shower was a tiny singular cubicle with a ceramic lip to prevent water escaping, I managed not only to fall gracelessly (pulling everything down with me) but also proceeded to smack every pointy joint and hip bone on the way down; ending up in crumpled heap of utterly mortified nudiness. Thankfully I managed to manfully hold off the tears (though I did have some MEGA bruises afterwards so would have been totally justified in crying) and Ross bundled into a towel and made some encouragingly soothing noises. Somehow he managed not to laugh himself sick and still thinks I’m pretty now, so there’s a silver lining somewhere. Depressingly though, it was not the last time I slipped in front of TMM, and not even the only time I fell in those bloody showers.

 

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This is not the card you’re looking for..

2 – This one is a relatively recent one and leans slightly to the creepy side. It all started on the week leading up to Father’s Day. This year, I was terribly proud of myself for being a complete grown up and super prepared. I got a great card and made a fancy laminated voucher (offering 1 super rad dad gift when I was not horribly poor and had ANY IDEA what my dearest papa wanted) and posted it with time to spare. Anyway, a few weeks later, I’m having a three way whatsapp convo with my dad and sister and he mentions how he is still waiting for one of our father’s day cards. I obviously assume that it is my sister who has failed in fulfilling her daughterly duties and prepare to be all smug only for it to be revealed that, shock horror, my card has not arrived! Outraged I demand an explanation, only to realise that I put the wrong address on the card (regardless of the fact I lived there for 5 years). Now my dad being the dedicated believer in getting his love tokens that he is, goes round to the address I had erroneously sent my card to. There, it turns out that not only had I put the wrong address on, I had also not put his name on meaning the lady who lived at the other address had opened it. This is where it gets really weird – I had written, as I am wont to do “To dearest daddy, happy father’s day, love El”. Pretty standard you might think. Well it turned out that the lady who lived there had a son who had passed away called Elliot (El for short). Basically, I sent a lady a card from her dead son. I mean that karmic cringe alone was awful, and I’m still debating whether or not I should write her an apology letter!

3 – I blame Mr B for this one more than myself, but I feel like this might actually be a right of way for any young heroine going to University (as something similar happened to my sister). I was living in the upstairs room of a two storey flat and had more belongings than any one person should ever need (it took two cars to get me down there for gods sake), so obviously moving out was a military style operation. In an attempt to save time and energy, we (being my step dad) decided that it would be advantageous to create a zipline between my window and the boot of the car upon which things could be flung down with the greatest of ease. This worked surprisingly well for the first few attempts, but it should have been clear that using a nylon rope and plastic bags was a combination eventually bound to fail. Which, of course, it did when the bag full of my underwear was hurtling down towards the car. About half way, in slow motion, the strap broke and to my mortification my knickers and bras cascaded across the front lawn and the car park, just in time for two of my room mates to come back and proceed to corpse about the place. Thankfully everything was bundled up and shoved into the car, but there’s an image of my entire underoo collection scatted wide and far that will forever be indelibly printed on my mind.

IIMG_0976.JPG

I call this one “The Shame of the Millennial Woman”. Mainly I think TMM just enjoyed throwing pants on me.

4 – This situation is actually a joint venture of shame shared between myself and my bestie uni pal Hannah. Being of such similar temperaments, we managed to live together for all three years and wangle it that we had nearly every class together (which involved a lot of timetable studying and the occasional desperately begging email to the HR team to get swapped into the same time slots.) Being both English bods, we shared all of our seminars and subsequently managed to share most of our books (and homework). We had one class with a wonderfully grumpy old lecturer who we proceeded to adore like a kind of angry old homeless cat. He taught us American Literature and was surprisingly tolerant of our constant levels of hysteria. Being 3rd year students, we were expected to read approximately 4 books a week and be able to discuss them in detail. We probably were not as committed to this as perhaps we should have been. I really think we should have learnt from the time in second year when we did “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and thought that watching the Muppet’s version was enough – which would have been fine until someone mentioned something about Tiny Tim and there was a horrifying moment we didn’t know if he really died or not. Still, we did not learn and our faith in each other was proved once again mis-founded. We bought all our books, read them with varying levels of interest and got to the café for a quick cake before one particular class when it became painfully clear that we had read the wrong book. Instead of reading “The Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison, a tale detailing the struggle of African-Americans in the early 20th century; we’d both read “The invisible Man” by H.G.Wells, a British science fiction novella about an actual invisible man. Unable to think of what to do, we had to reveal to our lecturer what we’d done, only to be gently smacked round the heads, called “dozy tarts” and then completely (and justifiably) mocked for the remainder of the class. As Hannah said, we should have realised what we’d done the moment we both said how much we liked what we’d read…

5 – This one I think is not actually my fault, but still makes me snort whenever I think back on it. As we all know, Molly is a firm feature of our lives and provides countless anecdotes of hysteria. One particular story originates from the fact Molly firmly believe she has met TMM’s dad. Guess what, she has not. Let me set the scene for you – TMM had gone to see his family and I was left in charge of dog walking. I had a chum who asked if he could tag along and I graciously said yes. Now, this friend is a very tall, broad, beardy man with glasses and has an excellent penchant for hitting people (mostly when they deserve it). It is important to know at this juncture that he looks nothing like Ross, his dad or indeed any relative. He is also not old enough to have a 20+ year old son. Anyway, off we go to Molly’s and below is a brief summary of what occurred:

Me – “Hey Molly, this is Dan. He’s mine and Ross’ friend”

Molly – “Ross’ dad?”

Me – “No Molly, DAN, a friend”

Molly (grabbing Dan’s hand and furiously shaking it) – “Lovely to me you Mr P*!”

Dan (aside to me) – “What the hell? What do I do?”

Me (to Dan) – “Just go with it. It’s too late now.”

So we go in for a drink and by the end of an eventful half an hour, Molly has told me just how much Ross looks like his (not) dad and asked Dan various questions about his wife, kids, job and how proud he is of TMM for going to University. By this point, Dan was fully and vigorously encouraging Molly in her fantasy whilst I was left silently cringing in the corner. We finally manage to escape, mildly hysterical, but the whole thing was made so much better when, the day after, TMM and I go to Molly’s and she proceeds to tell him how lovely his dad is. The end result is, Molly still believe she’s met Daddy Man Muffin and will staunchly refuse to forget that (even though she can barely remember our names).
Honourable mentions of other cringe-worthy situations include: the time when I left a voicemail message for my driving instructor and said “Hi Eleanor, it’s Alan” only to hear Ross nearly wetting himself in the corridor, and the joyous occasion my pencil skirt ripped all the way up the seam and I flashed my pants to a row of old men on the bus.

So there we have it. Just five (and a bit) insights into some of the hilarious situations I get myself into, which, if they do nothing else, will make a great chapter in my autobiography…

Confessions of a Serial Storyteller…

Bonjourno dear readers, I hope we are all well and contented on this fine Tuesday?

Not to be overdramatic but I’m definitely dying. I’ve somehow managed to damage my shoulder and after three days of wincing and sulking and wearing a heat pack like a security blanket, it’s obviously getting close to the end. I’m going to have another bath tonight (which will make two in two days – unheard of as I am not a big fan of a bath AT ALL) and watch an episode of Due South like a big water slug in the hope it will loosen up the knot and allow my to actually mobilise again.

In other news, I have struggled a bit with inspiration for a post this week – I am loathed to post a the same kind of thing week in and week out. Most blog “How To Guides” state categorically that you have to find a ‘niche’ in the market and stick to it – apparently people don’t like it when their bloggers try and go for a bit of variety. I, however, think that sounds a bit like B*S*. Whilst my life is obviously an endless rave and the most exciting thing ever, I can’t help but feel like most people aren’t going to care that much about what I do on a daily basis. Instead, I’d like to flit between topics, like a delightful little hummingbird amongst the flowers. Why limit myself to the same old thing when I can do posts on my favourite books, intriguing facts and hilarious life anecdotes?  To that end, my blog has resembled a drunk gently lurching from subject to subject over the past few months, but who am I to fight the creative urge? Admittedly, if anybody is particularly offended (or indeed has any suggestions on topics/mediums they’d like me to cover) I am all internet based ears.

This week, it was suggested by a pal that I look to do a short story. Now, as I may have previously mentioned (I definitely have) I am often drowning in stories, one liners, hilarious character descriptions and the like. Most of them never really go anywhere, but I suppose it’s time to share a couple of them with the big wide world. Neither of these two are particularly long (handy I suppose, seeing as they’re short stories) and both are prompt based. A lot of what I write springs from someone else’s idea (yay for “homage”!) and gives me a springboard to bounce my thoughts off. I’m not sure if it counts as original work when the spark comes from someone else, but where they end up is usually somewhere all of my own creation so I’m not too fussed.

The first story is a little snippet based on an artist called Chiara Bautista and her gorgeous work. I don’t even know where I first saw her stuff (probably Pinterest) but I’ve now followed a couple of her social media sites and the art she produces is amazing. It’s hard not to be inspired by them really…

The Moon and Her Night Sky

She is made of pure white. Her skin, her hair, her eyes, her blood – they are all the same brilliant sheen. She sits cross legged against the darkness and glows, marred only by the shadow that flows across her body as the month moves on. A thin crescent of grey curves around her hips and grows to a full cloak shrouding her for days at a time, but soon it slips away and leaves her radiant against the darkness again.

He is made up of dark swirling colours and a midnight pelt. Sometimes he is small enough that he can walk by her side, her hand resting gently on his head and her pale fingers slipping into the rough fur on his crown. Sometimes he is big enough that she can ride upon his back, hunched low down over his neck with her face buried into the gap between his ears as they speed across the Earth. Mostly though, he stands next to her on two legs, his hinged knees pushing him forward, his hunched back allowing him to tilt his head close to hers so he can hear her whispers.

They travel together, moving forward endlessly.

Aren’t they just sublime?

~

Story the second comes from two sources – a Hall and Oates song (I mean why not) and a silhouette of a woman smoking that I can remember vividly but can’t find for the life of me. It must be about 7 years old now and has moved through 3 phones, two memory sticks and one scrap piece of paper glued into a notebook.

I Can’t Go For That

She stares at him, her heavy lidded eyes slatted and a thin tendril of smoke rising lazily from her pursed lips. He swallows as she crosses her legs, a flash of pale skin drawing his eye.

“Well?”

He blinks, trying to gather his scattered thoughts. Running a finger between his neck and his increasingly constricting collar, he tries to remember why it was he’d decided to say no in the first place.

“I-I can’t,” he stutters, hating the weak tremor he can hear in his own voice.

She raises a carefully shaped eyebrow and rests the unlit cigarette on the glass ashtray set on the table next to her. She leans forward and it takes all of his rapidly declining self control not to let his eyes flick down.

“It’s not that difficult. It’s practically a joyride compared to some of the other things”.

He licks his dry lips nervously and shakes his head.

“No. Not this time. Not this.”

Her head tilts to one side and her tongue darts out from between her perfectly white teeth and devastatingly red lips..

“You said you’d do anything.”

“Almost anything”.

She laughs and leans back, another cloudy wisp of smoke curling past her lips.

“So this is where you draw the line?”

He nods, a sharp jerk of the head. She smirks and it terrifies him.

“Well, there’s still time”

He shivers as he feels the tell-tale whisper against the back of his neck.

“There’s only so much a man can attach to his soul.”

hall and oate

I mean – how can you not be inspired by these fine figures of masculinity? Look at the HAIR!

~

So there you have it. Some tiny little snapshots into my Notes function on my phone. Two down – only another 57 to go…

Easy Like Sunday Morning…

Happy July the 4th dear readers! Thankfully this Independence Day has gone without the need for Will Smith to punch any aliens in the face (though there is still time) so I’d class it as a success. I’ve been lured in by Aldi’s Americana/Happy Canada Day range and bought more maple syrup and mac&cheese than is strictly healthy, and I’m hoping my little American pals are enjoying fireworks, fluffy pancakes and cheap watery beer with a patriotic fervour this evening.

Not to be outdone, TMM and I have allowed positive motivation to flow through us and have royally kicked some butt this weekend. Admittedly, I think the credit should mostly lie with Ross, but I was happily along for the ride. TMM has set down a new “weekend routine for us” which aims to cater to both TMM’s uncontrollable urge to be doing things all the time and get up at god awful times in the morning as well as my desperate laziness. According to the new system, we are to have Action!Saturdays and Lazy!Sundays, which really do exactly what they say on the tin and hopefully mean we get the best of both worlds.

For our very first Action!Saturday, we went in with all guns blazing. Admittedly, the early get up was a slight struggle for me – TMM had to do his best puppy impression and kidnap the duvet before trying to wrangle me into a suitable outfit – but once I was out of bed we really went for it. After a quick nip to the shop for breakfast pancakes, we did a tour of some of the TMM clan; dropping off some money and a singular shoe at the parents (both related to the new catapult business TMM Senior has started rather excellently), and visiting his sister, her fella, their baby and the doggo. After suitable family bonding, we went on to Chirk Castle (YAY for the National Trust Membership) which was rather splendid and in full bloom.

As you can see, the gardens were looking pretty spectacular – and obviously we had to try all the period costumes (once the children had gone). We have now both decided that chainmail is a must for our summer wardrobe.  

After Chirk, we went to visit Molly (who is carrying on with a strength that only old ladies and mature cheeses possess) before returning home to have a chippie, bleach my hair and finally getting the bedroom gallery wall hung.

feature wall

There’s still a big gap in the middle – waiting for the perfect piece of tropical wallpaper, but at least everything else is up now, and I’m quite proud of those homemade hanging frames.

Lazy!Sunday started a little more my kind of speed – TMM went for boyish adventures around Rudyard Lake with his camera whilst I stayed in bed until midday and finished The Prince and the Zombie, Lumberjanes and two episodes of Due South. Which, whilst is not necessarily “active” is still very much “action”.

{Side bar! (to be shouted in the same way Gru shouts FREEZE RAY in the first Despicable Me) Both of those books are excellent.

  • The Prince and The Zombie – a fable interlacing Tibetian and Buddihist teachings. Not quite the eye-opening, world shattering magical book I thought it would be, but enjoyable none-the-less. I do have to say I was very much rooting for the zombie (which I think may have defeated the point) with his golden top half, silver bottom half and mane of turquoise. Boy could he spin a good yarn.
  • Lumberjanes (Volume 1). This one was literally as great as I hoped. Girl Scouts kicking butt, taking names and being SUPER SUPPORTIVE all the way through. I desperately want to go to a camp for Hardcore Lady Types and am going to be working towards my badges ASAP.

books

Look at those front covers? How could they be anything but excellent?

The rest of the day was lazily spent dying my hair and slobbing on the couch eating chocolate pillows, so a win all round I’d say. 

Blue to Blonde to Steel Amethyst (which is clearly my new My Little Pony name)

Bucky has also been doing his best to prove how action he is, bless his little furry bum. Last weekend he vanished for 3 days (cue much wailing and wallowing and resurgence of abandonment issues all over the place) but eventually turned up – swanning in and singing Catmaninov at the top of his tiny cat lungs. Anyway, owing to his desperation for fusses (be it by sitting on your back, watching you intently whilst you wee or just singing the songs of his people loudly whenever you move from his sightline) and his skinny little belly, we think he might have been stuck somewhere, rather than actively avoiding us. Either way, I think he felt our loss as deeply as his own and has since tried to buy his way back into the good books by bringing home and depositing two dead birds and a decapitated (and de-eared) rabbit in various positions around the house. Which, whilst the thought is appreciated, is something I could really do without. (I have forgone putting the pictures on here so as not to affect those of a gentle disposition).

We also spent a good half an hour last night trapped in the bedroom with a very scared and very much alive mouse, who’d obviously been brought in and then abandoned earlier in the day. Eventually we managed to capture it using a cereal bowl, the toilet brush holder and a piece of card before TMM unceremoniously flung it out of the front door.

Overall I have to say we haven’t done too badly. The sun still shines, the birds still sing and we’re getting one step closer to the ideal of travelling the world in a renovated van like little hipster hobos. One action based step at a time.

Food for Thought – 5 tasty little tidbits you might not know

Happy Summer folks. We are now officially past the longest day and apparently supposed to be enjoying one of the hottest summers on records….which I’m sure is just around the corner.

Anyway, I’ve decided to take a slight diversion for this week’s blog. We’ve recently spent a lot of time listening to the QI Elves – a group of the researchers for QI who have a weekly podcast entitled “No Such Thing as a Fish” where they present their four favourite (and usually bizarre) facts of the week. So inspired, I have put together a little listicle of my own favourite facts – though they’ve all ended up revolving around food (which says a lot) – to share and educate you all.

I would like to present these with the disclaimer that it’s all pretty much off TV, the internet or radio 4, so take what truthfulness you will. Without further ado – here goes:

1)      These are not the bananas you’re looking for…

I read the first one these facts in a tumblr post about Captain America I think (because I am a giant nerd). In it, there was a discussion thread about how confused Steve Rogers would be by the taste of bananas in the 21st Century *side note – for those not in the know, Steve Rogers is a young American during the second world war who is turned into a super solider and then accidentally frozen only to be awakened in the modern day*. Obviously this confused the heck out of me – what banana based mystery was this? Never one to be daunted by the dark recesses of what the internet holds, I delved in head first to find out what was going on. It turns out that the bananas we know and love today are not the bananas enjoyed by our predecessors during the 20th century – Say whaaaaat?

Originally, the bananas that were commonly cultivated and sold worldwide were a breed classified as a Gros Michal (literally translating as “Fat Michael” or “Big Mike” to his friends) – a squatter, much brighter and stronger tasting variety more similar to its plantain brethren. However due to the Great Banana Plague (or Panama disease) of the 1950’s, the Gros Michal breed was almost completely wiped out and no longer sustainable (oh no!). The continued high demand for bananas was not to be stopped though, and this led to the introduction of a new, more hardy and durable type of banana…the Cavendish! Now, most of the bananas we enjoy today are of this Cavendish variety, and indeed it is the most popular breed world wide. However I am sure you will have either thought (or heard someone say) how most banana flavoured things (think those foam sweets or banana milkshakes) don’t taste very banana-ry. This is because the extract used to flavour them is based of the original Gros Michal rather than the Cavendish; meaning when you’re eating or drinking these products, you’re actually closer to tasting the original bananas that you are if you eat an actual banana! Mind – BLOWN!


2)      Attack of the (Banana) Clones (who knew bananas and Star Wars linked so well?)

So you might actually be surprised to learn (or not, because I do love these facts) this isn’t the only banana fact I have. Those little buggers are chocked full of history.

My second fact goes back to the introduction of the Cavendish banana to the United Kingdom. One of the first shipments ever created were brought over to England actually cultivated in the greenhouses of Chatsworth House. Now, whilst Chatsworth doesn’t seem like a typical birthing point for a global banana industry – nearly every banana eaten in the western hemisphere is directly descended from one of the plants grown there (freaking science man!) 

The reason for this is that commercially cultivated bananas are propagated through “vegetative reproduction” rather than sexual reproduction (you can tell by their lack of seeds) – which means they are sterile and each new banana plant has to be taken as a cutting from a currently existing tree and planted manually. Basically, each of the Cavendish bananas are actually classed as clones and are genetically identical to the original source banana (that is some next level sh*t right there). This has been done to quite a few fruits and veg, but not on quite such a dramatic scale. Whilst this makes cultivating the plants easier, it does hold quite a high level of risk – if a fungus (such as the Panama disease which is slowly encroaching again) infects one plant, the banana have no chance of naturally evolving a defense and will be practically wiped out. BANANA-DRAMA!

3)      Jelly is basically a coma patient

I have never trusted jelly. A bold statement you might think, but I’ve always thought there’s something very unnatural about it. I will give most foods a chance, but texture can be a big no-no for me, and anything that wibbles in my mouth so aggressively is not going to stay there very long.

Well, it turns out that jelly moves in such a fashion it could actually be classed as alive (and so I feel validated in my intense distrust). Experiments have been done in which jelly’s have been hooked up to electroencephalographs (EEG machines) and have responded very much as a healthy human brain would. (I’m not too sure why these experiments have been done, but I like it none-the-less).

It turns out that the jelly picks up and responds to particular signals within the room (such as the vibrations of the machine it’s plugged into, people moving, even telephones ringing) and does so in such a strength that it exhibits alpha rhythms which mimic that of a human brain when a person is awake but has their eyes closed. In fact, based on EEG results alone, jelly qualifies as “alive”. (Cue mad scientists shouting “it’s allliiiivvvvveeeeee!” whilst jelly monsters lurch about awkwardly).

This has actually had quite a serious impact on the validity of EEGs being used as a sole measurement of response. (Huzzah for real life applications of silly science!) It is possible that, like jelly, the brains of certain coma patients might actually just be mirroring outside stimuli even though they are no longer technically classed as responsive. A positive response may not mean a patient is alive, and similarly a negative response does not necessarily mean they are dead.

Or it might just mean prove that jelly is an alien life force sent to freak me the hell out. I think we all know what the real fact is here.

4)      Mushrooms will not play the game

We’ve all been on long road trips or camping and played endless games of “Animal, Vegetable or Mineral”. Well, thanks to this fun fact, you can now annoy the hell out of everyone by picking something which fits into none of those categories! The humble mushroom is indeed humble no longer, but actually strutting out all on it’s own.

Typically labelled as a vegetable, the mushroom actually falls under the “fungi” category (insert awful joke here) which is actually much closer to animals than plants and technically is a separate kingdom altogether.

{Side note, there are actually 5 “kingdoms”; Bacteria (Monera), Eucaryotes (Prostista – a catch all for anything as yet not specified as any of the others), Fungus (Fungi), Plants (Plantae) and Animals (Animalia). Bonus fact ftw}.

Mushrooms do actually grow like plants, but contain no chlorophyll and don’t perform photosynthesis. Instead, they get their energy and nutrients from non-living organic matter – meaning they break down and “eat” dead or decaying organisms (limited to but not excluding, compost, dead animals and even human feet!) – basically like little zombies.

They follow a very similar evolutionary path to animals but grow from spores, rather than seeds, and a single mushroom can drop up to 16 billion in it’s life time.

They’ve also been proven to grow bigger than any plant or animal – often with individual heads growing out from one giant organism that is spread out underground. Indeed, most of the work goes on away from prying eyes; the living body is a web of tiny little filaments that grows under soil and can be as small as a single ant or cover acres (some can even expand up to half a mile a day). It’s from this that the “fruit” (the puffballs or caps that we see) grows from, leaving the main body hidden and unknown.

Mushrooms – actually magic and more than slightly terrifying…

 

#FungusAmongUs

 5)      Let’s Avo cuddle

The last but certainly not the least fact, is that I have discovered that Avocados are scientifically proven to be the most adorable of all the foods. Seen as the Aztec symbol of love and fertility – often seen as so sexually potent virgins were banned from eating them. This belief is though to have sprung from the appearance of the fruit (THEY LOOK LIKE TESTICLES!) and the fact they typically grow in pairs on the tree, like little berry buddies. They are also only able to partially self-pollinate due to the fact the female and male flowers open and close at different times, and most avocado trees require other avocados trees to be close by in order to grow (awww). Basically, they are the panda of the fruit world.

Excitingly, the avocado evolved alongside the Pleistocene Mega fauna (basically GIANT F*CK OFF ANIMALS) such as giant sloths and armadillos in order to facilitate seed dispersal through poops – which is why the seed is so big. However, once the mega fauna died out, it is only due to human intervention that the avocado escaped extinction. Bless their little green hearts. 

The most commonly consumed variety of avocado today; the “Hass” is quite nails though. Each fruit is directly descended from a single mother tree, which was cultivated by a Californian postie named Rudolph Hass. Unaware of what he was actually growing, he soon patented the tree (incidentally the first US patent placed on a tree) which outlived him by 50 years, finally dying of root rot in 2002 (the tree – not the postman). The avocado is now one of the most popular fruits worldwide and loved by health nuts and hipsters alike.

 

And there we have it. Just 5 little snippets of the things my brain finds fascinating. I hope you enjoyed and please let me know if you have any other food facts, because, let’s face it, I will totally be intrigued by them.