Holiday Blues and Writing Cues

Hol Blog

I’m not going to lie to you Readers, it’s been bloody hard going trying to blog this week. Even now, I can’t promise that it’s going to be a particularly good one, or even if it’s going to make it past 500 words. It appears that whilst there is a way, there is definitely a distinct lack of will.

I do want to state right now though, that this dirge in writing is not for lack of content – indeed you’ll be glad to know we Whitby-ed hard. We ventured far and wide, and our disgustingly early start (for which we in the back of the car complained about HARD) paid off and meant that we had chance to visit the absolutely stunning abbey before most people were even up. We were able to take many hilarious photos of us carefully (read – idiotically) re-enacting scenes from Dracula (I made an excellent Lucy), and TMM (ever the true professional) had even brought his nice new copy with him for some lovely moody shots.

I mean, just look at the artistry! TMM is really wasted where he is.

We also enjoyed a truly hysterical affair in the £4 Dracula experience on the main street. I feel like we should have been made more aware of what to expect, but to be honest the rather shapeless Gary Oldman puppet in the window and the particularly un-arsed man with a scruffy band t-shirt and unkempt facial hair didn’t promise much. Within 5 minutes however, Wilson was practically underneath Jonbles t-shirt and all of us had let out the odd exclamation (except for perhaps TMM, who was tucked at the back of the queue (missing out on most of the story much to his chagrin) and rather at home in the horror strewn décor – Angry Boy (TM) at heart that he is). The animatronic powered curtain covered puppet that flew out, or the man dressed as a wolf (unsure tbh) who was clearly enjoying himself hiding round corners proved to be a little startling, especially for the young women and her daughter who kept running to hide behind us whist screeching unattractively. My favourite bit though, was when we were all crammed into the section depicting Dracula (or a melted looking plastic scarecrow mask with a awkward hair in a dressing gown) rising from the coffin and Wilson turned slightly and proceeded to let out a splitting cry only to follow it with “oh, it’s only TMM”. Apparently his looming figure loitering in the background pushed her over the edge and poor Jonbles arm probably still has little half moon nail marks in it. The sweet little ale pub we all crowded into after (with added taxidermy foxes and portraits of dogs in army regalia) for a swift one was definitely the balm we needed to calm our nerves.

By this point, we were all a bit hot and over-emotional so we retreated to the car to get our cases and take them to the cottage. TMM was the perfect gentleman and took all the wheelie cases (the cobbles were making me laugh to hard too actually do anything) and after a few back and forths, we eventually located our spot and were able to collapse on the couches for a breather and a glass of cider. Our first evening culminated in a visit to a couple of nice gin bars and a superb fish and chips (battered black pudding is definitely a new thing that I am All About).

The next day saw us adventure even further afield, after stopping to pick up TMM a new fisherman’s smock which was possibly the only thing that could have complimented his dungarees so perfectly. Indeed, there were parts when he paused to stare artfully out across the marina and we were all struck at how suited he was to his environment. I always knew I’d marry a sailor.

It’s a shame that none of us could open our eyes in that second photo, but at least we look happy enough. At that point anyway…

Once suited and booted, we walked to Robin Hood’s Bay along the coastal path. I think it is fair to say that there were massively varying levels of enthusiasm about this, though TMM once again showed his true gentlemanly nature by saving Wilson for certain death in a rocky stream and escorting her down some of the more tricky hills. (Woo pointed out here that she expected a while essay about how sh*t walking is so she is pleased by my polite reference to my dislike here. She thinks I secretly love it. I do not).

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Have you seen a cuter couple? They look like they’re off for an early afternoon constitutional.

In the Bay itself, we stopped for a  truly superb lunch (so much grilled cheese and white bread was imbibed) and a few cuppas. The journey back was slightly easier, especially for TMM, Wilson and I, who decided to get the bus back so we could veg on the couch with cups of tea and watch Monsters vs. Aliens. We (read TMM) made ourselves useful though in stopping at the local Coop to pick up the makings of a homemade fish pie and having tea ready to go whist Woo and Jonbles braved the return route on their own. It was best for all really, as it meant that Wilson and I were in far better spirits by the time we were beckoned to a close by bar to meet the returning heroes. We spent a little while enjoying watching the various Steampunk aficionados that were wandering about in full regalia and drinking happily before returning home to our pjs and TMM’s truly spectacular tea. Like true grannies on tour, we were all safely tucked up with blankets and wine by 9pm, and spent the rest of our evening being pulled and pummelled by Woo, who used her not inconsidarably strong pointy fingers to massage away any knots and draw forth some truly ridiculous noises. At one point, she basically played Wilson like a human piano. By the end of it though, we were all slightly more tender and aware of our faults (I apparently have a ridiculous hard knot in my lower back that has been affectionately christened “The Butt Marble” and TMM has an appointment to visit Ann – the official back lady – because we are mildly concerned his spine is all out of whack) and ready for our two tubs of super fancy ice cream.

Our final days bloomed with a rather unnecessary downpour and after a sturdy fry up and a stop for a couple of books (it’s not a holiday without them) and a lovely pair of jet earrings for yours truly, we all bustled back into Juan (Woo’s car) and started for home. Whilst it took a little longer than we could have hoped, and there was a mild fear of vomming from at least two members of the party, we made it back in one piece.

(Admittedly, I do also have to admit the snapchats sent from my particularly disgruntled work pals who were thoroughly not enjoying their day only served to make the whole experience that much better – #soznotsoz)

Well, at least I can say I made it past 500 words, though I can’t say if any of them are particularly thrilling. We enjoyed ourselves (please see below images for further reference) and I can only hope those reading this got some fraction of amusement too.

 

 

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Warm up to the Weekend

whitby blog box

So it’s the warm up to the team trip to Whitby this week. In honour of TMM’s birthday on Tuesday, and what is now being referred to as Woo’s ‘Funeral for Youth’ (she’s not taking her retreat from the her 20’s in particularly good cheer), we’re taking a jaunt to the coast. We’ve been meaning to visit Whitby for ages but somehow have never managed to get round to it until now. The real world has cruelly taken over much of our free time and our adventures have a taken a bit of a hit, but we are nothing if not resilient and we made sure this weekend has been in the diary for weeks.

Woo has already demanded a repulsively early start (5am!)to ensure that we squeeze as much time out of the trip as possible, and as such I’ve already had to start giving myself pep talks. Once I am awake, I am happy and I can go from in bed to ready to go in 8 minutes, but that actually process of opening my eyes and admitting consciousness can be a challenging task. I’ve also had to allow a truce with Wilson and promise that I won’t take any photos of her napping in the car. Nobody deserves to have to get up that early and then try and avoid hilarious photos of their sleep face. (Also, it’s more than likely I’m going to be squished in the back because I am not the tallest and also one of the only members of our team that doesn’t get travel sick. I suspect the passenger seat will be in deep contention between TMM’s long legs and Wilson’s threats of vomit, so any attempts to take photos won’t work out as well as they have when I’ve been rocking the co-pilot’s seat).

Now considering we are only going for 3 days (Friday-Sunday), our itinerary is pretty packed (and thus I can accept the need for such a god-awful departure time). TMM has voted for a walk to Robin Hood’s Bay (Wilson and I have both already raised suspicious eyebrows about the amount hiking that is going to be involved, but we’ve been promised a pub lunch so we’re letting it slide for now) and Jonbles has arranged a trip out whale watching on the coast which I am rather looking forward to. Whitby used to have its own Whaling Company in the 1700s, and Whitby boasted one of the most successful whaling ships in the whole of the British fleet at one point. Thankfully we sharn’t be going out with harpoons and designs on blubber, but hopefully we’ll get to see whales going about their casual day to day business.

Since Whitby is also a ‘Gothic Hub ™’, we shall of course be involving ourselves in all kinds of gothicy doings. If I’m being honest I’m not 100% sure what being gothic involves per se, but I can say with certainty we shall throw ourselves into with gay abandon. If Woo’s Youth Funeral doesn’t show willing, I don’t know what does.
I for one, am very taken with Whitby Abbey and shall petitioning for a visit there at some point. The Visit Whitby confidentially declares it to be a real “must visit” and I am not one to argue against such a source. Apparently its gothic splendour and atmospheric backdrop was a key inspiration for Bram Stoker whilst writing Dracula, and my literary soul demands we pay tribute.

Speaking of, TMM and I have been mightily into the spirit of things (loving these puns). TMM decided he couldn’t go to Whitby without ever having even owned a copy of Dracula and therefore treated himself to a shiny new version a week ago.

TMM’s Instagram post was rather excellent, the little Nosferatu popped up and waved.

He received it, rather fatefully, just in time to start reading whilst waiting for his blood test the other morning. Because he is a fantastically innocent angel, he didn’t even question his choices until he was already there are receiving slightly concerned looks from the surrounding pensioners, who I imagine were all turning up their collars and thinking garlicky thoughts. It was only afterwards we realised that he’d made a grave (ha) error in not taking some false pointy teeth, or taking a phone call whilst in the queue loudly announcing that he was just getting breakfast.

We’ve been getting a bit obsessed with the general genre though and have watched a ridiculous amount of similarly themed things over the past two weeks. A friend gave us access to her Netflix account under the strict prevarso we watch The Alienist – a psychological thriller drama set in late 1800s New York based around a selection of gruesome murders and the ragtag team that come together to solve them. I am happy to report we did so with both vigour and gusto, and since have been unable to watch anything that’s not either been set in the turn of the century not steeped in mythically gruesome deaths. We snuggled up on the couch to watch Van Helsing with Hugh Jackman which was pretty but acutely lacking in plot or any acting ability (ass Woo pointed out, this does seem harsh on Hugh, who is very lovely, but it’s so true). I remember being much more impressed with it when I was younger (and obviously distinctly lacking in taste) but it did fleetingly rekindle my teenage crush on Richard Roxborough. It was clear though that as a film it should have come in a boxset with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which succeeds in being stylistically wonderful and completely bereft of any worthwhile substance or storyline.

We followed this in pretty quick succession with Nosferatu (we provided our own hilarious commentary and then both fell asleep before Count Orlok had even revealed his true nature), Stonehurst Asylum (loosely based on an Edgar Allen Poe story and the second film we watched where Kate Beckinsale got to wear fancy outfits and look beautifully quivery whilst simultaneously punching someone), Lime House Golem (which inspired a somewhat bemused conversation about whether Bill Nighy has ever looked any different or if he’s been approximately 60 for as long as anyone can remember) and finally Sleep Hollow (which is pretty much worth it for everyone’s hair).

With this back catalogue safely under our belts, TMM and I are pretty much ready for anything Whitby can throw at us, be it death, devilry or delightful Gothic architecture. Let’s just hope the early start doesn’t do me in…

And We All Live Apacaly Ever After

Alpaca Blog

So as some of you may have seen on my Facebook or Instagram, I spent the weekend living my best life and enjoying my birthday present from Woo. Woo is what we would class as “good people”; she puts up with my consistent and often hysterical emails, endless hearty bants and works well within the dreaded birthday constraints of “no stuff” when dealing with potential presents. I am very troublesome when it comes to giving people suggestions of what I want for my birthday. When I was younger, I would prepare colour coded lists in triplicate that went to all family members to provide clear guidelines on what I wanted. These days, I merely shrug and ask specifically for “no stuff” because I am a hoarder and must be controlled. Woo understands that my life in a constant battle between wanting All of the Things (like a true millennial), whilst simultaneously wanting to live like a Buddhist monk and free myself from the fetters of the material world. Last Christmas, she got me a trip to the Manchester Cat Café (that came with a hand drawn card which still sits on the mantle piece) and a pot of hair dye because she gets me. For my birthday this year, she succeeded once again in pulling it out of the bag (along with matching card) and this Sunday found us in the Lake District walking Alpacas.

Now let me tell you straight that walking with Alpacas might be the closest thing on this earth to true happiness and anyone who thinks otherwise is clearly deranged.

There were 5 of us that went, crammed into the new little motor (still as yet unnamed) and chipper at the prospect of the fun that awaited – little did we know how much joy we would experience. The company itself – Alpacaly Ever After (and whoever came up with that name deserves a medal) is based in the grounds of the Lingholm Estate in Derwentwater, Keswick. It is a gorgeous setting; coincidentally the Summer home of Beatrix Potter during her formative years as well as the home of where the new Swallows and Amazons film. It is basically the dictionary definition of “idyllic” and 100% the kind of place Alpacas deserve to live.

We arrived and went straight to the café (because we know what we’re about and what we’re about is fancy café lunches) before wandering the kitchen gardens that inspired many of Beatrix Potter’s tales and all getting slightly emotional that we weren’t posh ladies from the turn of the century. Soon though, the time came and we stood, all shifty like, by the statue of a giant and slightly mental looking red squirrel whilst waiting for our contact. Turns out, arranging Alpaca dates is somewhat similar to spy meetings – who knew?

Anyway, Shelley, our very knowledge and super smiley guide, appeared in a timely fashion and led us to our delightfully cuddly charges. She carefully explained the stroking etiquette – due to their eye positioning, they have a blind spot (unsurprising with those fringes if I’m honest) and like most animals don’t like being stroked where they can’t see. This meant their heads and backs were out of bounds, and also that there should be no butt touchings, which is just good manners really. Mainly she advised we stick to their necks when petting, but considering the length of them, this wasn’t too much of a hardship.

Whilst she was talking, she corralled our various partners and harnessed them up and we dithered about with thinly veiled excitement. By the time the gates opened and the Alpacas were led out, we were a undoubtedly overcome.

Now Jonbles had no Alpaca because he is a boring old fart, but he came along for the ride anyway and admitted later (no matter how much he tries to deny it now) that he wished he’d had one too. The rest of us picked (or were picked by) the four Alpacas who were milling about giving us the side eye – and the whole process was somewhat reminiscent of the wands in Harry Potter; the Alpaca picks the walker, not the other way around.

Woo went first because she is by far the bravest, and was paired with Kato; a big bubble headed beastie who was pretty much the agreed leader and enjoyed having a good chatter the whole way round.

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I followed and was paired with Jasper, who had fabulous hair, a casual attitude and the ability to wee for about half an hour non-stop (we matched perfectly). Shelley explained that there are actually only 2 breeds of Alpaca; Suri and Huacaya. Huacaya are by far the most prevalent, making up approximately 90% of the Alpaca population, and whilst they were lucky enough to have Jasper, he is the Loneliest Suri. The only one in their herd, he stands out a little and after being unfortunately snipped in the trouser snake department, is destined to stay that way. Still, he was The Most Chill and we bonded beautifully (read I pawed him desperately and he snuffled me a little and posed wonderfully for selfies).

     

Wilson “The Honey Badger” was paired with Jake, a toothy gentleman who knew exactly what he was about and wasn’t prepared to be moved unless he was ready. He viewed the whole excursion as a sort of extended buffet selection.

    

Finally, an executive decision was made that TMM should be left with little Theo, who whilst looking like a baby and being 2 years old, was pretty much fully grown. They looked like a kind of comedy duo (think Shrek and Donkey but much prettier) but they bonded beautifully (possibly over their matching eye lashes) and I’m pretty sure might have actually been each other’s spirit animals.

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During the walk itself, in which we were lead around the grounds and, in turn, had much fun shepherding our companions around, our very lovely guide educated us about the Alpacas as well as the land the company resides on. Obviously I was in nerd heaven because we all know how much I enjoy fun learning – and learning with Alpacas in the most fun. For example, did you know Alpacas are bred specifically for their fibre, unlike Llamas who are working animals and can be used to carry up to 10 stone. Sadly this meant I couldn’t throw myself on Jaspers back and gallop off into the sunset as I had hoped, but a girl can dream.

We also learnt that they “hum” when talking to each other (Kato had a lot to say), only have one row of teeth (along the bottom) so no accidental dismemberment of which there was a slight fear, and only actually spit when distressed, but let’s face it – who doesn’t? They’re also incredibly graceful considering how silly the look, and surprised us all by taking the various sets if stairs we came across in their stride (ha ha).

Within the hour though, I can safely say that each if us had fallen head over heels with our charges and once we had taken them back and given them some snacks, were all heartbroken to have to walk away. I’m not ashamed to say I could have wept as Jasper non committedly bumped his head against my arm before scratching his belly with a back hoof and trotted off without a backwards glance. I know our love was a fleeting and possibly one sided affair, but I can’t help but hope that as I’m writing this, he still thinks of me now and then.

It was obviously a bit too much for some people…

The Ivy – The Commoners Guide to Eating Posh

Blog Ivy

Picture, if you will, two weary travellers. Wandering aimlessly under the baking sun; their skin is pink, their limbs are heavy and their nerves a slightly frayed due to encroaching hunger that is unstated by the raspberries they had for breakfast in the car. Lost, they have been wandering Cambridge for hours, buffeted by the inordinate amount of school groups (curious, on a Saturday) and tourists who are rampaging the streets. There is also the gradual realisation the perhaps visiting a city where each attraction is hidden by large, unerring wooden doors bearing unapologetic slogans like “No Visitors, Only Students” or “£13 per person for entry” was possibly not the best choice of destination when their pockets are a little tighter than normal.

Eventually, after trudging past cafes, restaurants and eateries packed to the gills; after pressing their noses sadly against the windows and eyeing piled high plates of food on their way to other people; after being so dehydrated that they had resorted to threatening to spit in each other’s mouths to provide any kind of moisture, a metaphorical light appears on the horizon. Coming to a stop outside an unassuming dark green shop front to gently berate each other for having let it get to this stage, one gestures to the darkened doorway with only a slight hint of exasperation and says “what about here then?”

Up a step, they are greeted by a smart young lady in a starched white shirt behind an imposing lectern housing a computer screen. She stands just to the right of a sizable wooden door with an artful stained glass window and to her left hangs a rather dramatic deep red velvet curtain. She smiles candidly at our heroes before asking softly “reservation?”

“Err, table for two?” Is the somewhat querulous response. She narrows her eyes just a fraction and looks down at her computer screen. From somewhere behind her appears another lady, this one with added blazer, who whispers something quietly in her ear. It is here, dear reader, that our weary wanderers began to get the sneaking suspicion they had stumbled on something a little beyond their usual fare. Indeed, the internal warning sirens were sounding and a couple of sharp glances were shared between them as another lady appears off the street, pushes her way through and flippantly remarks over her shoulder to the door woman and friend as she slips through the door that she was there to meet people. The sliver of restaurant viewable for the brief second it took her to get through afford a mere flash of finery and the impression of chandeliers.

Suddenly the burgundy curtain swishes aside and a third lady appears; this one wearing a smart red dress and fancy heels. She smiles and inclines her head, before slipping behind the lectern, palming some menus and shepherding our duo through the door.

On the other side, they are met with a sight to behold. What they had originally expected to be a single room with a couple of tables turns out to be the size of a banquet hall and positively dripping with opulence. Beautifully tiled floors in dark blues and mustard yellows sit below dark wooden tables and walls artistically crammed with photos and paintings. Waiters and waitresses in full regalia (waistcoats and ties) move quietly and swiftly round with huge trays balanced precariously, and burly men in suits circle silently, smiling beautifully at guests.

The pair huddle together and hurry to follow their guide, nearly tripping each other as they stare, open mouthed at the two bars that could have stolen from a 1935 gin joint, resplendent with crystal glasses, mirrored fittings and bottle displays that could have easily doubled as a potions store. After what seems like an inordinate amount of time, they are invited to take a seat at a sweetly tucked away corner table. They fall somewhat chaotically onto the plush couches and take the proffered menus with only slightly trembling hands.

“Any water?” Asks the hostess. Our wanderers share panicked looks at being asked a question so promptly without any chance of preparation and after a moment of hesitation nod frantically.

“Still or Sparkling?” Is the next query which results in yet more overwrought looks, before the safer option of still is plumped for. Finally left to their own devices for the first time, our champions take a moment to properly absorb their surroundings; the salt and pepper shakers that appear to be made from gold and the casually placed wine bucket at every available corner before bursting into stifled giggles and muttered suggestions that they are definitely not posh enough to be where they are. They both suddenly hush when their server returns with a glass bottle of water that she carefully pours into the prepared glasses. As she walks away, there’s a flurry of panicked whispering regarding potential costs of bottled water vs dehydration. Turning to the menus, they hold hands tightly under the table in preparation of expenses. The mains cause a conjoined wince, and the wine list is discarded immediately, but the sandwiches are perused with interest.

By the time a new waiter appears; a swarthy man with curly dark hair and an intense unblinking stare, our duo are prepared to order. A pair of peach and elderflower lemonades are first, followed by an order for eggs benedict and a truffled chicken sandwich.

Here, dear reader, we must take a side bar to discuss the hereforto unknown wonders of truffled chicken. Initially unsure, I (for yes, the heroes you’ve shared this journey with your friendly neighbourhood Ebear and TMM) chose it under supervision and boy, was I rewarded. Two rounds of fried bread, chunks of perfectly tender and ridiculously tasty chicken, salad dressed in some kind of delightful dressing and pre salted chunky chips. The food of the gods.

By the time the meals arrive, our wanderers have settled enough to enjoy their environment and appreciate how it is to live like one of the rich and famous. Surrounded by fancy people with laughs like braying horses and neck scarves galore, they tuck into their food with relish.

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Sadly, small but unapologetic signs declared “No Photography Allowed”, but worry not. It did not stop our intrepid heroes who gladly broke the rules to take a sneaky photo of this super fancy knife with a silver fly on the handle (though it’s clear a life of covert observation is not on the cards considering how blurry this is).

Due to high hunger levels and a small yet undeniable fear someone was going to realise that our couple were 100% not posh enough to be there and kick them out, the plates were clean within a rather small timeframe. Due to unfortunately unexpected circumstances and somewhat limited funds, there was no time for desserts (though the delightful looking Rum Baba with Chantilly Cream was noted and will be enjoyed again in the future). However, before dropping the cash and hightailing it out of there as fast as their £10 Primark pumps would carry them, both our explorers braved the crowds of Cambridgites to visit the facilities.

Typically, I have to admit, I barely visit toilets in the outside world, because I have the bladder of a camel and a definite fear of being kidnapped. This time though, it was definitely worth the risk, if only for the apparent million mile walk (I still have no idea how this place actually fitted behind such a demure shop front) lined with beautiful botanical drawings. The full size wall mural of a tropical bird was much appreciated too (I tried to take a photo of this too, but was scuppered when someone suddenly appeared at the top of the stairs to stare at me judgingly).

The obligatory toilet selfie – it smelt freaking amazing in there.

Soon though our heroes emerged, blinking and slightly shell shocked, into the bright sunshine. Bellies full, pockets significantly lighter and lives enriched, they strode hand in hand, off towards the horizon.

An Interlude from the Sunshine Library

So, in order to make up for my lack of post the other Thursday, TMM suggested I do another mini weekend bloglet. An exercise, he said, in allowing me to use up a little excess blog material that didn’t make it into last week’s offering as well as keeping up my word count. Not one to counter such a wise and logical argument, or deny him the chance to share super little teasers on his instagram story #socialmediapresence, I agreed, and what follows is just a peek into my personal library. It’s been a while since I’ve shared any reviews or book recommendations and I’d hate to leave you bereft.

The warm weather has actually been the perfect excuse to catch up on my reading. My refusal to sit inside for any length of time has limited my televisual intake and having lunch breaks out in the park have meant I’ve had time to just chow down on a couple of books that have been waiting patiently in my “to read” pile.

So far I’ve managed two books this week; “Early One Morning” by Virginia Baily (picked up from The Works for a couple of quid) and “The Hollow Tree” by James Brogden (from our last trip to Hay on Wye).

The first one I’ve been eyeing up for a while. It’s been on and off bookshelves, in and out of day bags and left on the bedside table for weeks, but I finally managed to make it past the cover on the trip to visit my Mother last weekend. It opened quite dramatically (WW2 Italy) with some Nazi involvement and the heart breaking rescue of a young jewish boy. The story itself was focused on the woman who rescued him, in flash forwards and flashbacks throughout her life, and a young girl in the 1970s who finds herself linked to the pair. Overall, I struggled a little with it, specifically the stylistic choice of flicking through time periods without identification as well as between characters, and I found myself becoming frustrated with the women themselves. However, I wonder if perhaps my disappoint was spurred more from the fact i went into it hoping for something different, rather than the fault of the author. Still, it kept me company for a lunch break and an evening of TMM watching tennis so I sharn’t be too put out.

On the other hand, “The Hollow Tree” was exactly what I thought it would be with some added supernatural elements and I am all about it. I went back and forth a few times before I picked this up in Richard Booth’s bookshop (or Heaven as it’s also known). We had intended to limit ourselves to one book per person at the time *spoiler* it didn’t last, and eventually I caved and bought it after lunch.

Inspired by a legend (which also led to an hour long wikipedia search) it follows a woman, herself involved in a tragic accident that results in amputation, who becomes embroiled in the horrifying tale of a woman trapped in an oak tree and left to die. It deals with death, danger and the discovery of a darker exsistence parallel to our own in a very engaging and provoking manner; and in such a way that I found myself desperate to get back to it each lunch break. There was also another book on the shelf by the same author which attracted me and by the time I’d gotten round to picking up the one I’d bought, I’d combined the blurbs a little and was a tad confused to find this one wasn’t the one with the mysterious children (“Helka’s Children” for those of you interested) as I’d originally thought. However, children not withstanding, it was just as thrilling as the recommendations on the front cover suggested (and I’ll definitely be investing in the other’s he’s written).

Now I was going to end this post by telling you all about a beautiful copy of “Rebecca” that i was going to start this morning, but in what might turn out to be the biggest betrayal of the century, it appears that instead of the book, I unknowingly bought a notebook made to look like a beautiful copy of “Rebecca” and I am wounded. Thankfully though, I’d ordered a spur of the moment purchase from Amazon, and as a salve for both my need to read and my pride, I’ve spent the afternoon reading “A Sky Painted Gold” by Laura Wood. Turns out , lazing around on the grass with a gin and tonic ice lolly, TMM looking delightfully sunkissed and dozey and a book set in the 1920s is apparantly just the cure I needed.

The Art of Being (Effortlessly) Busy

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Once again, I’m starting a post with an apology for absence. I’ve let you down, I’ve let Jesus down, but most of all, by not blogging weekly like I promised, I’ve let myself down. Oh the shame.

Still, you should all count yourselves lucky, because you almost didn’t get a post this week either and just think how apologetic I’d have had to be with two weeks AWOL…The thing is, and I’m not sure if you’ve noticed (social media may have clued you in) but it is warm. Like, delightfully warm. The wonderfully tropical kind of warm that saps all your(my) energy and just leaves you(me) wanting to lie around in the sun like a giant sun slug and do absolutely nothing but gently baste like a festive turkey.

Somewhat conversely though, this is exactly the opposite of how my life has been these last two weeks. Summer has come and so, apparently, has my social life. Who knew? A splash of sunshine and I’m anybody’s for an hour or two.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful though by any means. I’ve had a lovely time seeing people and finally doing tasks I’ve been meaning to do for ages. I’ve caught up with old friends on long and mildly arduous hikes (read – we sweated our literal balls off and walked for miles). I cleaned the kitchen like a real life grown up – scrubbed the oven, cleared all the crumbs under the bread bin and even washed the windows with a vinegar solution (for achieving that perfect sparkle). I went out with some girlies from work for an evening of spectacular burgers, resplendent pancakes and a showing of the new Jurassic Park film, which was much better that I expected. We all got a tad overexcited I think and poor TMM had to drive us home whilst we hysterically prattled on about dinosaurs (it was mostly me – I really want a dinosaur) even though it was far past his bedtime. And personal growth alert – I actively enjoyed every venture (the cleaning in a sort of masochistic way) and didn’t get anxious or worked up about any of them. Boom for counselling and awareness of mental health issues.

Side note – the team also did a little road trip to Hay-on-Wye in the new car within which we managed to sneak in a visit to Neens. This was excellent on numerous levels, including but not limited to, finally introducing Woo to my grandma (they’ve been Facebook friends for ages now) and getting to play with the new kitten (who is actually the cutest and came to sit on my lap all of his own free will and nearly made me combust with joy). Hay itself was as superb as always and we all got slightly emotional at how nice lunch was and all came home with a decent little haul of books. This section gets it’s own little paragraph because it doesn’t actually count as exertion or busy activity – mainly because team are basically me and also Neens and cats and books. But, you know, I like to share these things with you.

 

I mean, a bookshop that makes a brew this perfect can’t be anything but heaven.

It feels like the longest days have come at just the right time though. As I’m sure you can gather by the mild level of hysterical awe in which I describe all these events, I am not a naturally busy person. I don’t thrive on constant activity. In fact, I get a bit panicked at the thought of having more than 2 events a week (god I’m boring). I need to know I’ve got time to sit on the couch and stare aimlessly at instagram for an hour followed by an early night on a regular basis or I get antsy. I am nothing if not a creature of habit. I’m dangerously entitled too (don’t know who I think I am). I am fully of the belief that my social batteries work in a typically introverted fashion – if I’ve been out and about doing things and seeing people, I’m going to need an equal amount of time to sit and do eff all like the potato I naturally am. To be frank, this is possibly one of the largest arguments for me never having children – I am literally just too lazy.

With the sun staying out like a brazen hussy until all hours though, I feel like I’ve got more time to fit everything in. I can be aggressively busy at work and still have time to get home and do something before reverting to slob mode. Please note, this is the complete opposite to the winter months, when I get home from the office, cry about the cold/dark/Christmas and then go to bed at about 8pm. These past few days, I’ve done pretty much everything I can to be outside in the light, despite being one of nature’s cave dwellers. I’ve pushed myself to do more just so I can spend time in the sunshine and soak up the warmth like a cat on a window sill. I’ve taken to sneaking out of the office every lunch break to go and read in the park (I have a dedicated tree to lean against), eating all possible meals in the garden like some kind of Mediterranean (god, you can tell I’ve barely been abroad can’t you), and absolutely blitzing through any inside chores to ensure that the smallest amount of my time is spent away from the beautiful blue skies. It’s also meant that the garden has never been so well weeded- it’s so much easier to convince yourself to do it when you can get a tan at the same time.

There is still a mild undercurrent of worry; something in the corner of my consciousness that tells me I’m running out of time to get everything done, but I think it’s just something that comes hand in hand with being a grown up, like always worrying about bills or how long you can get away without doing the laundry. I hate thinking that I’m leaving something unfinished and being busy only compounds the threat, but boy, sitting in the sunshine does make it all that little bit easier to ignore.

Adulting Volume #476

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Considering how long I’ve actually been waiting for summer, I feel like we haven’t really been utilising it all that efficiently now it’s here. Whilst we have spent the last few weekends bbqing hard (so much tasty fish), we have pretty much been in bed by 9pm every night after work. It’s like we’re under some kind of bewitchment and like true sleeping beauties, have spent a majority of our free time snoozing. I do find there to be something fundamentally pleasing about going to bed whilst it’s still light outside (I think I like to pretend that I live in one of those dreamy places where it never truly gets dark but just moves through various bruised pastel shades of dusk that turn into tomorrow) but I’m pretty sure it can’t be classed as living life to the fullest.

Still, we’re slowly getting used to this whole adulting lark and I suppose we have to take it one step at a time. First step – doing chores, Second step – staying up late, Third step – conquering the world. So whilst we have seemingly been struggling at Step 2, we’re doing our level best. This week we’ve been attempting to complete real life chores like real life grown ups. Now I am fully aware that most chores are something that should be done regularly in order to ensure your house is continually clean and whatnot, but I’m not going to lie – that’s not how it works with us. Landry and dishwashing etc. are obviously done on the regular (otherwise we’d have no plates or pants) but there are some things I just cannot bring myself to care about unless I really have to.

Hoovering is 100% one of these things. Little sessions, like just sucking up some fluff or the odd bit of soil accidentally walked in I can just about survive. Vacuuming the whole house (one of those proper hooverings where you sit on the floor so you can properly see all the fluff and make sure you’re getting it, and when you use all the attachments to clean all the ceiling corners of spider webs) is literal torture to me. I hate it with a passion. I occasionally think I wouldn’t mind it as much if we had one of those old fashioned hod-a-durs carpet rollers that just fluffs everything about (my grandma used to have one and it holds a fond place in my heart) but we don’t and as it is I definitely DO mind having to do the vacuuming.

Our Henry Hoover (Henri as we’ve originally christened him) is an actual fucker and spends the whole time he’s out doing everything he can to enrage me. He likes to get tangled up and fall over, wheezing smugly, or get caught behind door frames and just peer out at me like a little bitch. My language (as I’m sure you can tell) is never more choice then when I’m trying to clean. I have to listen to aggressively upbeat late 90s dance tunes at an unhealthily loud volume just to be able to complete one room without having a full blown breakdown. White/cream carpet is actually the devil (especially when you’re already lazy and prone to living like a slob) and having pets, a penchant for walking everywhere but never taking your shoes off and the ability to create tiny bits of paper that scatter everywhere make it almost unbearable. (Thankfully we managed to finally convince the landlord to get rid of the bathroom carpets. I still get flashbacks to those horrors). I’ve already made TMM promise me that when we own our own house it will just have laminate flooring throughout. Or maybe just no floors altogether. We’ll just have suspended walkways so far off the floor I won’t be able to see the dust and fluff and god knows what else that accumulates.

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Look at his self-satisfied smirk. God I hate that machine.

I think what really gets my goat is the fact that you spend your hard-earned leisure time putting all this work in and then within 20 minutes there’s fluff, spiders and mud all over the floor again and it’s all I can do to raise my eyes despairingly to the heavens and not have a hissy fit. This is why I’m still trying to convince TMM to let us hire a cleaner. It might be wasteful and bourgeois, but it also would mean that I don’t have to do it. I’ve tried to convince him that we’d be helping the economy and keeping people in employment and that WE WOULDN’T HAVE TO DO IT ANYMORE, but so far he’s still resistant. Damn him.

However, it’s not all been vacuum cleaner related toil and trouble. We have been using the long days and warm weather to make more of a concerted effort to tame the garden. TMM definitely takes more after my Mother and her green thumb than I do (she’s already promised to save him a wood pile for chipping which has pleased him no end) and he’s been taking good care of the various greeneries she’s gifted us. The greenhouse has been cultivating fruit sprigs and vegetables sproots beautifully and after a furious weeding session, we’ve managed to successfully move a potato plant and some raspberry vines to the outside boarders. Hopefully by the end of summer we’ll be able to gather in a small harvest and class the whole things as a win.

After being inspired by such joyous little greens bits and how neat everything looks, I spent Saturday morning vigorously ripping up dead pampas grasses and crusty heather bushes that had taken over the path by the backdoor with vicious severity. Considering the plant bed itself is no more than a few inches deep, there was a lot of sweaty exertion and unladylike grunting whilst removing all the unnecessarily dug in root balls, but I emerged muddy and victorious. Rather than look to replace them with something similar, we went instead for the classic Groundforce plan of just artfully gravelling the hell out of it. After 2 shopping trips (3 bags of gravel covers nowhere near as much as one would expect) and an unhealthy amount of hefting from TMM, we got everything in place. There was a slight hiccup about halfway through the whole exercise, when we’d both taken turns shovelling out excess soil with what can only be described as the “wrong tool for the job” I was firmly of the opinion we’d made a dreadful decision and should have just stuck with the little pathway of horrors. However, we powered through and by the end of the day, it looked rather lovely and I was resolutely won over with our hard work. As Mother says, there’s a goodness in gardening; an old fashioned healthy warming of the soul that tires the body but quiets the mind and looks pretty nice to boot.

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A little lavender, a little Buddha and a lot more gravel than anticipated…

I also finally achieved my Surviving the Dentist badge and successfully got my very first filling. Now I can’t imagine anyone particularly enjoys going to the dentist and I an definitely no exception. I have previously had mildly harrowing experiences involving oral care – due to my inordinately tiny mouth (no jokes, I can’t even fit a full chupa chup lolly between the two top rows of teeth) I had a mental framework brace inserted which was supposed to stretch out my upper jaw and widen the whole pallet area. Spoiler – it didn’t. What in fact happened was it cut into the soft fleshy skin and in retaliation, the soft fleshy skin ended up swelling and growing right over the bloody thing. Cue lots of whimpering and straw based meals. When we went back to the orthodontist, he was fully geared up to shout at me for not brushing my teeth properly and being a whiny little teenager until my Mother helpfully pointed out the immense amounts of swelling and acute pain I was in. After much flustered apologising, there was a flurry of cutting and blood and general ickiness as the contraption was removed and we made the executive decision that my piranha like jaw and wonky teeth were fine as they were. And there, good reader, ended any good feelings I had regarding the dentist chair. HOWEVER, in this, the 27th year of our Ebear, I got over myself and returned to the oral hygienists fold.

(Admittedly, I did have to have pep talks from no less than 3 family members and TMM had to buy me a curry as a pre-emptive reward, but whatever).

To be honest, it probably could have gone better but at least it’s over and done with now. I think I thoroughly annoyed my dentist who kept asking “does your mouth not go any wider” and then tried to winch it open when I replied in the negative, obviously believing I was a big fat liar pants. More fool her when my jaw strongly resisted and I nearly bit her with the bounce back. By this point she finally realised that I really do I have the tiny mouth of a vole. There was also a slight schism of exasperation in the room when I couldn’t stop swallowing during the teeth watering section (I’m assuming they were cleaning, but it honest just felt like that were jet washing the back of my throat for lolz) and nearly burst into hysterical laughter when the nurse kept accidentally sucking up my tongue with the mouth hoover. I refuse to be cowed though, because I’m pretty sure that subconscious swallowing when being forcibly drowned is a pretty solid reaction and she should be happy I didn’t just cry.

Anyway, the whole ordeal was thankfully over with within about half an hour and all I had to contend with was Numb Mouth. I have capitalised this because whilst it wasn’t quite American Youtube comedy video bad, it certainly wasn’t great. My boss even had to go out and buy me squeezy baby proof yoghurts to eat (which I did terribly unattractively) after she noticed my sulky face and the bemoaning of my inability to eat the leftover curry I’d brought for lunch. I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but losing control over half of your face is fun for about half an hour and then just feels like the worse kind of bodily betrayal. Especially when people keep coming over and expecting to have a serious conversation with you. I spat on many people. Soz not soz. Still I made it through the day and have regained full use of my mouth and not swallowed the filling so I’m definitely counting the whole things as a win.

So whilst it may be true that we have the late night staying power of two overtired toddlers and can’t properly look after a house for toffee, we’re clawing our way through adulthood and that’s alright. Next stop – world domination.