Foot Loose and Baby Free

Tagline (to replace the title box which is just not behaving this week)

The Art of ProcreNOPEtion

This week has been a joyous week Readers. You will, I’m sure, be pleased to find out that a new baby has joined the TMM clan and I am once again an auntie-in-law (fourth times a charm). TMM’s sister Jenbob masterfully birthed a whopper of a tot (9lb 13!) who is healthy, happy and has possibly the best cheeks I have ever seen in my entire life.

We actually went to see her the day before at TMM’s parents house, whilst she was just there having the most casual attitude to having contractions ever and I was sort of abstractly terrified about being so close to someone who was literally about to pop. She is actually some kind of magical goddess and I won’t hear a word said otherwise; just watching her throw Thea (her firstborn) about as directed (Thea is very knowledgeable about what she wants) whilst going through what looked to be some pretty sore spasms was kind of mind blowing. Pregnant women in general are pretty awe inspiring to me (their bones actually move apart like they’re some kind of biological Transformers, WHAT EVEN IS THAT) and watching them just go about their daily lives being awesome and huge and glowy is immensely pleasing for me.

It’s strange though (and my description of them as some kind of zoo animal might make a tad more sense now), because I don’t plan on ever joining their ranks and having children of my own; I don’t think I ever have. I don’t remember being into dolls or the like when I was little – I very much preferred Lego, hot wheels cars and believed, much as I do now, that the plastic babies with bodily functions were just obscene. Indeed, the only baby name I ever considered was Helmclough and perhaps the my reasons for abstaining are becoming clearer, are they not?


Truthfully though, it was always just a kind of far off concern when I was younger, and I assumed that one grew into one’s urge for maternity. But the general feeling of Nopeness has never really gone away, despite the age limit getting closer and closer and the older I get, the more I realise that this seems to be a Hard Pass for me. People keep telling me that it will change and my urge to Mum Up will blossom from within, but to be honest I find it more likely that my insistence against them will last out far longer than any socially accepted conventions, if only because I secretly love to be contrary. Children have just never really appealed to me. There seem to be countless reasons to leave the whole notion to someone else, one of the biggies being because they are a lot of responsibility and I can’t be trusted to feed myself if left unattended for three days, never mind look after a helpless human being for 16 years+. There is a huge impetus to not Screw Them Up, and I don’t think I am able to keep myself in check, nevermind be one of the major players in creating a brand new, non-psychopathic, fully functioning person in their own right. That is a craft project that, being the lowkey perfectionist that I am, I don’t think there are enough YouTube tutorials to make me good at.

It’s a commitment though, to something that is so much bigger than you and bring with it just so many terrifying consequences. Babies are simultaneously horribly fragile and weirdly resilient. Like one awkwardly placed head squish and you’ve caused massive lasting mental trauma (thanks for that fun phobia, Grapes of Wrath) but you can chuck them in a swimming pool or dribble them like a basketball and they’re fine (disclaimer, I do not intentionally bounce babies, or leave them unattended in large bodies of water, but you get what I’m saying). They’re a contraction in terms, and it stresses me that they start off so helpless when giraffes can walk within minutes, yet end up being the top of the food chain (and giraffes are like, a third, of the way down). Their entire existence boils down to your ability to look after them, and that doesnt go away when they can dress themselves. I still rely on my parents for so much now, and I am a supposedly fully functioning grown up. That is just not the kind of long term promise I can give to someone, especially someone who just popped into existence at my insistence.

I am also super duuuuper lazy, and in no way have enough upper body strength to carry a small person either inside or outside my womb. Whilst visiting Jenbob and the clan, Thea demanded I watch the Wiggles with her and she not only pulled me round the room, she played me for a sucker and stole my glasses like some kind of back room card shark. Distressingly, not only did she con me well enough to steal them directly off my face (the toy phone was for me and as I leant down to answer it, her grabby hands were there) she also had a fierce little grasp and I couldn’t actually pry them off her and was seconds away from just giving up and accepting my new blurry outlook on life. Thankfully they were intercepted and returned to me, but if I can’t outwit or outweigh a not-quite two year old, I really don’t think I should be considering one of my own.

It did make me wonder though, in a way I don’t actually think I’ve really pondered before, if I’ll regret never being pregnant. It’s something my body is primed for but my brain is not. I just don’t appear have the internal ticking time bomb of missed motherhood opportunites that seems to be rife in 20+ year old women. I’m repeatedly told it will happen but at 27, I’m beginning to suspect I missed the memo. It does seem to be a shame because I have the pelvic floor muscles of an absolute beast and what I’m told by the smear nurse is an unusually narrow vagina, so I imagine the whole area would bounce back if nothing else, but what they hey. I think it’s just one of those distant regrets that will pepper my life, the overshadowing fear being stronger than any lingering curiosity. As someone pointed out to me, once it’s in there, it has to come out one way or another, and the actual act of giving birth makes my ribcage constrict. Just knock me unconscious and take it out through the sunroof.

I’ve never seen motherhood as the goal though, nor as something that will truly make me a women. There’s a huge social undercurrent, a shared subconscious psyche, that a woman is there to procreate, and on an evolutionary level I get it, but the world has changed and it’s not the same anymore. I am confident enough in my womanhood to not believe that my not having a baby is a waste and I’m happy to repeat that to anyone who says otherwise. I am lucky enough to be alive in a time where it is my choice, and I’m exercising my right.
Obviously though, it takes two to tango (or not tango as the case may be) and I am lucky enough to be in a relationship with someone who is happy with this. We’ve talked about it quite often; it routinely comes up whenever we’re faced with children, and TMM has said he’s happy with it just being the two of us for the foreseeable. I’m not 100% sure if this was a decision he would make for himself in another situation, and I do occasionally wonder if he will resent me for it eventually, but he has never been anything but supportive and agreeable with the whole shebang. It is a shame, if only because I am pretty convinced that if anyone could take mantle for world’s best dad, it would be him, but he’s doing well on the uncle-ing front and I think he’s getting his fill of chubby cheeks and tiny hands (he does so love the tiny grabby hands) from our various nieces and nephews.

It doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate them though (it possibly makes me love them all the more, knowing I can fill them full of sugar, shake them and give them back before returning to my quiet home, full of dangerously sharp and fragile nickknacks (Thea unerring finds all our pen knives, for we have many, and appears suddenly appears round corners like a tiny Wolverine). The idea of them pleases me greatly, and I am more than happy to be cool aunt who spoils them rotten and teaches them all the best swear words. Though quite how happy various parents will be after reading of my intentions is yet to be decided…

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Two Fat Ladies Worth of Panic

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In my desperate attempts to stay away from the whole New Year New Me rigmarole and avoid resolutions left, right and centre, I have obviously done loads of things recently that would fall neatly into that category and just shat all over my general life philosophies. Still, I suppose that despite proving myself to be a filthy liar, I can’t really complain. It’s not as though I have done them all on purpose specifically to be resolutions, but it’s can’t really be denied that it has been a week of semi-new experiences. (I have actually done all of them before in some way or another, but they’ve all had a bit of an impact on me).

The most obvious is my change of hair colour; everyone please welcome my new Tangerine Dream do. I know I dye my hair all the bloody time, but each colour is a new and exciting surprise (despite reading the labels on the pots, I can never actually be sure they will come out as expected with my locks.)  I do have to say this orange has turned out particularly well (especially considering some of my previous attempts), and I’m channelling Leeloo from The 5th Element which is never a bad thing (though I’m not sure if I could pull off the plastic harness and mid fringe quite as well as she did). I am having to go around somewhat incognito though, as I got my hair cut on Saturday and the salon is just down the road from my work. Whilst there, I was given some rather pointed comments regarding my somewhat trigger happy relationship with bleach and I made promises in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t dye it for weeks, before promptly going home and chucking on two pots of shop bought bleach and 3 different shades of orange. I’m having to put my hood up every time I walk past the window and hope they forget about me before the next time I go in. Still, I look fabulous if I do say so myself and am enjoying a nice splash of summer in an otherwise dreary winter time.

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Basically my new look

We have also officially booked our trip to Greece now, which was all kinds of terrifying fun. To provide a bit of background for those not in the know – we are travelling to Greece for a week in May to meet up with an old friend from University (she is American, we’re not just wild jet setters) and her new husband after nearly 9 years of us being apart. They are doing a bit of a tour of Europe for their honeymoon and asked if we’d like to meet them and we obviously jumped at the choice. Admittedly, when we did (and I say we but really I mean me because poor TMM hasn’t really had a choice in all of this) we kind of forgot how truly awful we are at travelling, but there we go. Things on the distant horizon are fine. Things in the middle distance that are approaching at a rate of knots are somewhat more scary.

It’s not that I don’t love the idea of travelling and holidays because I do, and more often than not when I’m actually doing it everything is fine, but the build up and horrific amounts of prep required just stress me the F out. I am simultaneously horrible at planning yet terrified about things not being ready and the combination really doesn’t bode well for the life of a jet setter. There just seems to be so much that can go wrong and ways in which I can get arrested or fined or just generally die. It’s not as though I haven’t travelled before! I travelled all the way to America on my own only a few years after 9/11 (and having never actually been on a plane before) and didn’t die (though I did see LOTS OF MEN WITH GIANT GUNS and spent the whole 15 hour journey there and back in such anxiety I can barely remember any of it) so you’d think I’d be okay with it. I travelled to Prague last year with TMM and Mother singing the bomb song and didn’t die. I have in fact done holidaying abroad at least 5 times now and did not die, but I still get the heebie jeebies every damn time. I’m pretty sure expose theory doesn’t apply to me – I’m going to get stressed no matter how many times it happens.

I did get to the point one Tuesday night of deciding that I would remove myself from every social media outlet, cut all ties with my friend and just never speak to her again in favour of pretending the whole thing wasn’t happening (sorry JBear!), but thankfully that option was taken off the table before it could get any real traction. Woo proved herself once again to be a gem among all gems and after countless email exchanges providing calming reassurances and strict instructions in equal measures, came round on Saturday night with Wilson and just took control. TMM made us all a lovely tea, after which Woo set herself up in the corner with our laptop, passports, journey details and bank cards and just sorted the whole kit-caboodle. By the time they left, we had flights, baggage allowance, travel insurance and a handy tick list of everything and neither TMM or I had cried once.

I am still terrified and imagine I probably will be until about 3 days after we get home, but at least it is now in an unavoidable and inescapable way. I’m good at being scared and still doing things, as long as I haven’t got the ability to slither out like a rabid rat. There’s a secret little part of me that is looking forward to it and I’m cultivating that spark in the tornado of my anxiety ridden crazies as best I can.

Speaking of being hysterical and anxiety ridden, my final not quite new experience was a night at Bingo on Tuesday. Now I have been to bingo once before, years ago, and remember it being about an hour and a half of high octane stress, hysterical laughter and I’m pretty sure it ended up with us being shamed into leaving by tutting grannies. I’m glad to say this time round was pretty much exactly the same only we didn’t get forced to leave early (though it was probably a close call). I had forgotten quite how quick bingo is and I’m not ashamed to admit I think those few games were the hardest I’ve worked in a long time. There was one point where I was playing on two sheets and was having far too much fun to actually pay attention to what I was dabbing; I’m pretty sure I had at least one house but didn’t have time to notice. Though to be honest, I am far too nervous to shout up even if I did win (as were a couple of the other girls) and we had to have designated shouting buddies, though mainly we all just screamed a little whenever anyone thought they had anything. It is here that I will point out “thought they had anything” because we called out a couple of false ones, and actually had one of the bingo callers come to our table and politely suggest we move to the electronic tablets. By this point I became so hysterical at the fact we had not only had hella shade thrown at us, but the fact the tablets meant we had basically come to a bingo hall to watch a laptop play bingo for us. I thought I was going to have a stroke at one point. Between the 6 of us though, there were 2 winners (£7.50 and £25) and we even had an email asking us to come back next week (possibly for the comedic value we brought). We think it might be because they’re trying to get some new blood in and hoping we will be the new generation of bingo-ites – Bingllenials if you will.

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Could we be any cooler? I don’t think so!

So whilst I have spent most of this week in a fluctuating state of Red Alert, I’ve done things that got me out of my comfort zone and can tick another few things of my list of life things to achieve. Not bad for a few days work…

No Rest for the Wicked or Seasonally Challenged

Well hasn’t this just been a busy old month? Apparently the extra week in January has allowed me to cram as much stuff as I possibly can in without realising it, and I can firmly say having a delayed payday really drags the whole thing out. I don’t think we’re quite at the ‘eating beans for every meal’ stage just yet, but I am definitely ready for this month’s wage packet. Admittedly, we probably haven’t helped ourselves purchasing not only a new Dyson but also a new sofa (the most grown up things ever). However, although it is outgoings that we could have maybe done without, I am pretty positive about them because not only did we get everything on sale (and cheaper than we thought to boot) but I was hella grown up and asked pertinent and sensible adult questions because I am a Boss. Even TMM was impressed with my polite but no nonsense attitude. I’m not actually too sure how long that will last when I actually have to be home to let the delivery men bring the sofa in, but as Woo pointed out, I won’t actually be expected to do anything other than open the door and stay out of their way, so hopefully everything will be fine.

I have fallen pretty lucky though, and really shouldn’t be complaining about the apparent millieum length of January. Due to some jammy holiday accrual, I managed to wangle a week off right in the middle (Mother’s birthday – it’s now tradition that we go and stay with her for week) as well as a couple of spare days here and there that are still to look forward to over the coming months.

The holiday itself came hot off the tail of the works conference down in “that Lundun”, which I have to say was probably the best one yet. Working for a global company does mean that you get some perks – one of which is they basically pay for you to go and have a big party to celebrate how everything’s gone in the previous year. Despite working there for nearly 5 years, this is only actually my third conference as I deemed myself to be far too anxious and mental for the first two. The company have really upped their game this time round though and I’m glad I went. Approx 2000 people converged on Battersea Power Station (sans the flying pigs) in their best frocks and suits for a bang up meal and as much free wine/beer as they could handle. Our office travelled down on Thursday, split over the office supplied coach (which was free so my obvious first choice) and the personally supplied train (which you had to pay for so wasn’t even considered), and those of us travelling on style on the coach enjoyed some good old fashioned games of eye spy and a sing a long. We arrived at our hotel at about 3.30ish and bundled up to our room, believing we had plenty of time for prinks and prep. (Spoilers, we had slightly less time than anticipated and barely made it through by the skin of our teeth).

We scrubbed up pretty well though!

Still, we made it to the venue with plenty of time to spare and stocked up nicely on the free bellinis whilst gawping at the pretty awesome scenery. There isn’t really much more to tell from the night itself; we were all very well behaved. There was lots of dancing, a few selfies with Radio 1’s Greg James and everyone commented repeatedly on how much they liked the meal. We were even back at the hotel at a decent time, though we did order dominoes and didn’t actually go to bed until 2.30am (I shared a room with two of my team and we ended up tucked up in two pushed together single beds singing Three Little Bears). The journey back was a tad more subdued, but nobody threw up or cried which I’m taking as a win, and after finishing in the office I was able to go home, nap hard and pack for the week in Wales.

God we are cute

Sadly Mother’s house is still somewhat in disarray, and much to my chagrin she is proving resistant to my idea that we sign her up to DIY SOS. I am convinced that between the freezing internal temperatures (I don’t care what she says, 13 degrees inside is not balmy), exposed floors and lack of a functional shower in the house, we could have Nick Knowles knocking at the door in no time, but she remains unconvinced. We were going through various fancy home magazines and dog earring the corners of everything we like though, so it’s a definite step in the right direction.

However, we still had a splendid time (as we always do) and it might even be for the best that it’s so cold, because if her house was warm I really would have no reason to ever leave it again. We were very helpful whilst we were there though (or so I like to think), and got involved in all kinds of tasks. We blitzed the workshop like absolute demons and managed to not only arrange everything better, we got rid of about 3 bin bags of rubbish, a couple of charity bags, found some jumpers we’d all forgotten we had, and thankfully didn’t find any rodent corpses hidden behind any of the racks. I did however sneeze very dramatically all over the place and got terribly snotty, once again proving that I am deathly allergic to cleaning. We also made some great progress with Mother’s build up of Christmas decorations (considering she hasn’t been able to decorate for about 3 years, she’s got an excessive amount), and in style of Netflix’s very own Maria Kondo (“but does it spark joy?”) managed to downsize to only 4 small cases and 1 big one box.

Mother and I also spent the afternoon making a Christmas Bauble Wreath (read – Mother did and I just sat next to her making helpful suggestions and smashing bits of bauble up happily), and I am definitely classing this as my first craft installment because I have literally fallen at the first hurdle on that front and am already behind on my craft blog schedule. TMM managed to get through about 3 books so he was in his element and once again it was very clearly indicated to us that we are definitely made for the leisurely lifestyle of retirement in the country. We didn’t hold up quite as well on leaving this time as perhaps we have before; I cried whilst Mother was making us packed lunches, she cried when I hugged her, we all went to the shop to get some final bits and then bawled unashamedly in the car park for a while before setting off. I managed to pull myself together by Aberystwyth though and by the time we got home I’d only teared up twice more so that’s good.

There’s still plenty to do though and I’ve got lots to look forward too; I’ve had letters from both the dentist and opticians demanding my presence (oh joy, oh rapture), TMM’s sister is fit to burst with a new little one and we’ve got a holiday to Greece to meet up with some old friends to plan (don’t worry, there will definitely be a post on that later because I am actually the worst person in the world at planning a holiday and will have lots of hilarious anxiety ridden anecdotes to share). I even managed to finish a jigsaw that has been sat on our table for OVER A YEAR last night which I’m seeing as a very positive omen for the year ahead. We’ve made it through Blue Monday and it’s all downhill to summer now; things can only get better from here.

Out with the Old, In with the Craft

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Well that’s it folks. 2018 is now but a distant memory and 2019 lies ahead full of potential and suchlike. I hope you all had a glorious festive period and are full of vigour and vim for the new year. You’d probably imagine that, being in the prime of our lives, we’d have welcomed in the New Year with a bang and been out partying hard until the dawn broke. You could not, however, be more wrong. We did, in fact, start the New Year in very much the same style as we left it; TMM fell asleep on the floor halfway through Sherlock Gnomes whilst I snuggled with the cat. He woke up just in time for Jools Holland to hug everyone on the set of his Hootananny, gave me a kiss and we stumbled to bed and were both asleep by about 12.35am. It was delightful. You might think us boring, but spending the night huddled up together is pretty much all we need. So suck it.

It’s a hard life for some

I’m really not surprised that it ended up as it did though. TMM is constantly about 5 times sleepier than anybody else generally and after the epic Christmas feasts he prepared (note the plural) I definitely think he was deserving of some early nights. We (and by we I 100% mean TMM) hosted our first proper Christmas this year, like h’actual adults. Usually we spend our holidays travelling all over the country to visit various family groups and don’t really do much at home. This year however, we had Mother, my sister and her partner staying with us for a whole 3 days. TMM excelled himself in every way and everyone was fed, watered and amused with minimal stress. Admittedly, our sleeping arrangements left a little to be desired, for despite having plenty of rooms, they’re all tiny and you can’t fit beds in them. As such my sister and her partner had the main bed, Mother and I slept on air beds – I graciously gave her the good mattress and had the one that kept deflating rudely and poor TMM had the floor).

However, us being us, we obviously still did a little travelling because we are incapable of staying in one place for more than five minutes. We visited friends for cheese and wine (because we are nothing if fancy) and then went for a surprisingly wonderful breakfast in a vegan café called Wild & Wild. We spent some time with TMM’s clan, having curry on Christmas eve and then passing round presents and catching up with his grandparents on Christmas morning (TMM and his mum had a rather dramatic game of Othello and I think we may have started some kind of games tournament without realising). We also nipped down to the homeland for a day or so to see my various aunts, uncles, cousins and Neens. We had a go at the customary Christmas Treasure Hunt Tradition, though admittedly most of the childerbeasts had already completed it so I think that we had a head start. We still enjoyed ourselves immensely though and Santa Neens excelled herself once again. Sadly, we didn’t have time to play the yearly family game of Cards against Humanity (because there really is nothing funnier that watching your grandmother say “cheeky bum sex” with unmitigated glee in her eyes) but we’ll make sure to save it for next time.

We were lucky enough to spend some time actually at home though. On Christmas Eve we got to snuggle up adorably in our new slippers and with our Book Flood books – I already knew that mine was the next installment of the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch, but I was still dangerously excited about it. (For those of you who have never read any of the series, I demand that you do so immediately because it is excellent). We got back from TMM’s parent’s house in time to spend half an hour relaxing before my lot turned up, greeted at the door with a glass of fancy clementine and cranberry bucks fizz and some pate on toast (because we are hella fancy). Over the next few days, we mainly slobbed around eating like royalty (TMM had prepared a full Christmas dinner for one day, an orange glazed ham and homemade vegetable soup for another and people had brought/prepared puddings galore), interspersed with casual Christmas walks. We even got to enjoy some Christmas pudding and sherry with Molly, who was practically apoplectic with joy at having both my Mother and sister pay her a visit. We did have to take them twice (which I don’t think they were expecting), because we popped round on Boxing Day only to find her getting ready to be picked up for a late Christmas dinner; she was so enraged at the thought she wouldn’t get to spend much time with us that we promised to bring everyone round again the day after. She made us all eat our own bodyweight in cake, take photos with her and spent a good five minutes staring in disbelief at my sister (because she looks far younger that she should).

Perving in Keele Hall and imagining our lives as the British wing of Charlie’s Angels. Molly was mainly just excited to have a sherry with someone.

Overall though, it went swimmingly and TMM once again proved himself to be worth his weight in chocolate. Without him, I can categorically state that I would have starved, been lost in the woods or died through lack of attention. This holiday clearly cemented our status as a functioning human male and his pet cat in girlfriend form. He’s also given me my new purpose this year, for which I am immensely grateful. He sat with me the other weekend whilst I was trawling through my Pinterest account, lamenting the fact I’ve never gotten round to actually trying a majority of the things on there (not for lack of trying – I have numerous boards specifically dedicated to craft, each labelled helpfully with encouraging names like “Craft”, “Craft Projects Go”, “Things To Try” and “Etsy” and “Well that’s clever”). He suggested I maybe try something new with my blog, in an attempt to make it more topical, easier to keep up and possibly more interesting to read – actually completing craft projects from my to-do list. He pointed out that I could look to do one a month and write about it as I go; the materials used, why I’m interested in them, how easy or difficult they are and anything else that springs to mind. Some of the ones I’ve already pinned are nice simple ones that I could do in a night and some are big projects that might take the whole month in achieve, but it gives me something to dedicate myself to, widens my craft sphere and will hopefully draw the attention of either Cath Kidson or Kirsty Allsop (who will in fact be so amazed by my skills and ability they will hire me immediately).

What do you think Readers? Is this something you’d be interested in? Would you care to travel the wild and windy path of craft exploration with me?

Ho Ho Hungover


So I suffered potentially my first three (3) day long hangover this weekend, at the grand old age of 27, which was a new and I have to say distinctly unpleasant experience.  If this is what getting old is, I would like to say I’ve changed my mind and would like a refund please.

It was my work’s Christmas do on Friday, and after the pleasantly surprisingly success of last year (I literally did nothing except drink and dance to Daniel Bedingfield songs) I was actually quite looking forward to this one. My team had been planning “Prinks” (or pre drinks for the uninitiated), simultaneous party prep and had even compiled a playlist of classic “bangin’ toons” to start the evening off with, and by the time it came round to it we were all pretty excited. 

Looking back now, I’m not really surprised at the turn of events that led to such an awful and distressingly lengthy hangover. Despite all my very careful prior planning (I was going to stick to sensible similar drinks, eat well and have a glass of water and tablets before bed) by the time we actually arrived at Revs, I was already pretty mashed. Skip forward about 8 hours and we ended up slumped in a pile in Pizzarama stuffing our faces with greasy garlic bread. We eventually made it home at about 4am after countless countless cocktails, about 7 thousand shots and 8 hours of hardcore dancing and by the time I actually got through the front door I was basically a dehydrated twig with sore feet (though kudos to my pal Zo for her strong work on her falsie application because my lashes were still fly as f***).

I do have to admit to being rather proud that we’re actually still alive. I can’t actually remember the last time TMM and I made it to that time – TMM automatically clocks out at 10pm and has been found slumped in pub corners snoring gently to himself and I pretty much go from being hyperactively chipper to ready for bed in about 3 minutes flat. We partied hard though and had the accolade of being one of the last stragglers out. TMM also managed to fully endear himself to all of my colleagues (of which I never had any doubt) and made for some great photo opportunities.

We are the epitome of class

With all that being said, the following morning was only to be expected really. Oddly, I woke up feeling rough but nowhere near as awful as one would think. I was even able to drag myself out of bed and to the local shop (admittedly I didn’t look great) for supplies; consisting of Lucozade, a chicken and bacon sandwich and chocolate buttons) whilst TMM huddled under the duvet groaning pathetically. We proceeded to nest and rehydrate for a few hours before peeling ourselves out of our pity party and gingerly making out way to Molly’s to walk the dog. Unfortunately by that point, I was rapidly deteriorating and had to return to bed by 8pm with a headache that was so bad I couldn’t see and lie in the dark with a flannel on my eyes groaning softly.

Sunday was a little better; though I did have a mild breakdown at my inability to open the golden syrup, we managed to tidy up the apparent bomb site we’d created in our drunken states and finish a couple of Christmas presents. Returning to work on Monday, I was pleased to see the rest of my team struggling with the same kind of fugue like daze, wild hair and crazed and exhausted expressions. Thankfully we have mostly recovered now, but we’ve all got high hopes for the company conference in January.

Thinking back on some of our exploits from Friday (including but not limited to our re-enactment of the Dirty Dancing Lift and some of our less classier poses) has lead me down the somewhat shaded lane of other drunken memories. I thought perhaps now might be the perfect interlude to share some previous experiences with you (some of which will feature me in the spot light, but some of which may be about my dad or friend Jbear).

Something that you may or may not be surprised to learn about me is that I didn’t really drink much until I started University. I was a very timid and easily startled child and didn’t really embrace late nights and loud noises in those days. I think I was fully prepared to be very much the same at Uni, but sharing a block with 15 engaging and hilarious strangers pretty much shocked me right out of that. Whilst I didn’t live quite as energetically as some, I definitely started to adopt more of an outgoing lifestyle. Partly I think this was because under my crusty antisocial exterior lies a devilish party girl, but mostly I think it’s because I met Jbear, my American sister from another Mister. Our relationship was forged in one night of stupid memes and we never looked back. In fact, my very first true experience of what can only be classed as a “drunken shambles” centres entirely around her, some chips and a box of mulled wine (yes, you read that correctly). Oddly enough, that was another Christmas party (I’m sensing a theme here); a gathering in my block of all housemates and various hangers on. Jbear and I had adorably matched outfits (weirdly not on purpose, we were just that in-tune) and what started with some festive tunes and giggles rapidly devolved into drinking cheap mulled beverages straight from their shiny silver foil bladders (£5 for about 2 litres) and ended with Jbear throwing up bright purple chips into the downstairs shower room. Due to the unfortunate chunky nature of the vomit and the unnecessarily tiny holes in the plug, I was forced to poke most of the mess in with my bare hands whilst Jbear lay on the floor alternating between laughing hysterically, telling me how much she loved me and sobbing brokenly. Poor Jbear was, quit literally, hanging after that and spent the rest of the weekend on my dad’s couch in his pjs feeling sorry for herself whilst I told anybody who listened how much fun we’d had.

This isn’t even a picture from that weekend (or even the right house) but it is pretty much a perfect representation of how we spent half of our time. Also this was one of the clearest photos – apparently we were incapable of using phone cameras in those days.

Sadly Jbear only stayed for a year, though I am pretty sure we made the best of that. After she returned to the good old US of A, leaving me in the capable hands of TMM, I was forced to go on partying without her (until I went to visit her in Ohio and got so drunk playing beer pong I am surprised she didn’t end up poking my vomit down a plug hole). For the most part though, I was mostly very sensible and drank in moderation, enjoying the highlights of University life without waking up in a bush or making a complete tit out of myself in the union bar. 

This was before the beer pong game even started

Unfortunately I do have to say mostly, as there is one particular scenario which does not fit the criteria of sensible moderation. There is, in fact, one specific night that I’m pretty sure still brings TMM out in panicked hives. Let me set you the scene – it’s the height of summer, there is a beach theme party at the union and I’ve got a fabulous flowery dress. The sun in shining, the birds are singing and I am annoyed because I have to work until 7pm, despite my best attempts to swap shifts. Whilst this might not seem like the most tragic situation in hindsight, I was practically inconsolable at missing out on valuable prinks time with my friends and in my infinitely flawed wisdom, thought it would be best to catch up in the shortest amount of time possible once my shift had finished. To that end, I proceeded to down a couple of unnecessarily strong shots before we made our way to the party. It is possibly pertinent to point out at this point that we stopped off at a friend’s block on campus to pick up some other people (and do a few more shots in my case). For reasons that I couldn’t fathom at the time, half of them seemed to be sober and not eager enough to catch up to my level and after an hour or so of chatter and games, it was decided that a few of us should go onto the union alone as a kind of exploration party and the rest would join us later. 

Check out those classy digs. Little did I know how my evening was going to end…

Fast forward about an hour to 10 o’clock and I am starting to regret my choices. Some dancing, some candy floss and, shockingly, some more shots had started to curdle internally and I was forced to make my way to the nearest available bathroom. It was here that I was found by my friend, who told me later through hysterical laughter that I had taken my shoes and glasses off and put them neatly to one side before curling round the toilet to have a quiet chunder. She managed to convince me to let go of my death grip of the porcelain and deposited me with TMM, who took one look and decided that it was home time. It was as he was guiding (read: carrying) me out that we bumped into the rest of our party who were literally just coming in. Shamefacedly, he led me back across campus, where I had to stop and cry loudly at least three times because I was, for some unknown reason, terrified one of my lecturers would see me and be disappointed (a goody two shoes even in that state). TMM was very sympathetic and continued to chivvy me on, finally managing to drag me up the fire escape and into our room. It was at this stage I made the signal and he artfully slide a bowl into my outstretched arms and held my hair back as some more of the shots v. candy floss cocktail made its exit. That night, he somehow managed to be the most supportive and iron stomached boyfriend the world has ever seen; emptying the bucket on numerous occasions between stroking my head, telling me he loved me and making sure I drank as much water as possible. Eventually I passed out, star-fishing so completely that he was forced to retire to the couch and it was there he stayed until early the following morning when he got up to go and play a rugby match in front of his parents whilst I lay in my shame pit, begging friends to bring bananas, ice lollies and sympathy (I got the bananas and ice lollies, I definitely did not get the sympathy). How I managed to keep him for a further 8 years is completely beyond me, but boy am I grateful. 

Thankfully since then, I only need one hand to count the times I’ve got outrageously drunk, and most of them have involved a theme party (which we all know is a weakness of mine) or being on a yoga retreat holiday in Fuerta Ventura and making complete tits of ourselves at a beach front bar, happily plied by a bar owner who clearly thought we were hilarious and was eager to get us to try some of his homemade concoctions. 

We were classic Brits on Tour here. Shameless.

Whilst I am mildly ashamed of my ability to be such an outrageously royal lush, I do like to think that I have carried on the family tradition of being completely hilarious whilst drunk. I come from a line of legends, who have done such things as coming home so drunk they couldn’t remember going to sleep, but woke up face down, fully clothed (including sun glasses and bag) minus only their shoes, which were later found in the hallway with the laces cut all the way down the middle to make for easy escape, or being so hungover out and about that the only way they could manage the unfortunate egress of the previous night’s indulgences was by throwing up into a spare nappy (not used) belonging to their toddler. 

We might not do it often, but when we do, by God we do it hilariously. 




12 Days of Tradition

12 Trads Blog

IT’S COMING PEOPLE! CHRISTMAS IS ON IT’S WAY! I don’t want to panic you or appear overly dramatic, but it cannot be denied. Halloween is over and done with, Bonfire Night is a distant memory and people are gearing up for the Big Ho Ho Ho. Shops are filling up with suspiciously smug customers who have already made a dent in their gift lists, fairy lights are popping up like festive moles all over the bloody place and I have already seen one child walking to school in a Santa hat. People are starting to get excited and there is a whiff of festivity in the air.

Honestly, I can’t say I’m enjoying to that much. I am one of those grouchy grinches who repeatedly insists that there are only 12 days of Christmas and not one of them is in November. I’ve already spent countless hours wordlessly screaming into the black void of Christmas music and I’ve had to haggle hard with some work colleagues to keep the festive radio station playing to a minimum (we’ve compromised on an hour a day until December 1st, though this has already been ignored and Tuesday was a whole day of Mariah Carey and Wizzard). I have also categorically refused to even touch the wrapping this year, but thankfully TMM has take my childish refusal with good grace and tackled the ever growing pile with a positive attitude and a healthy amount of recycled brown packaging paper. I have deigned to come from my lofty heights to make a couple of pompoms for decoration, but that’s it.

Look how cute these are. Though be aware, this is just a fraction. The whole left hand side of the living room is lost to the Present Pile now.

It is unavoidable though, and no matter how much I bury my head in the snow, the undeniable seasonal cheer is seeping in. Various Christmas adverts insist on thrusting themselves into my eye line despite the fact I never actually watch live TV anymore, and I’ve witnessed the Kevin the Carrot hysteria second hand. Apparently Aldi were forced to put a limit of no more than two carrot families per person (though god knows why anybody wants that many stuffed felt carrots, as they will undoubtedly end up in a cupboard or under the bed within two months before making their way forlornly to various charity shops/bins before this decade is out). I do have to admit to possibly encouraging the craze and agreeing to make a baby carrot toy for one of the girls at work, which in itself was a challenge. Never having crocheted before I feel maybe a carrot was a tad ambitious, but after 1 broken crochet hook, countless swear words and some near misses with tears of frustration, I was able to gift him as promised and apparently he is now much loved. To be honest I think he looks a little like he’s screaming, but as long as she’s happy with him, it’s all gravy.

It’s not a great photo, but I still can’t help but think he looks like a carrot version of The Scream. As long as someone loves him though.

It’s coming up to the time of festive traditions though, as people start to talk about their Christmas routines and everyone starts to fall into the same old patterns of preparing for the big day. We had the ultimate pleasure of taking Molly to the local Christmas Fair (one of my favourite events) and boy am I glad we don’t have to do that again for a few months. She tutted her way round the stalls complaining loudly about the lack of local people (despite the fact that it was the busiest I’d ever seen it), pushed in front of various other elderly people without any regard for social convention (though thankfully in her excitement she missed the Tombolo which really is more trouble than it’s worth) and spent a truly repulsive amount of money at the jam stall. She evilly eyed up the woman with the golden charity bucket, who despite being there every damn year is apparently a complete stranger (Molly insisted on repeatedly saying to her “I don’t know who you are”) and griped about the coffee being stone cold (but refused to let us get her a fresh cup). By the time we got her back to her house, both of the other couples that look after her had turned up (a fortuitous event that has never before happened). We all had to have photos and the she got completely overwhelmed and just shouted at everyone until we all went home. A truly festive afternoon.

I have heard of some rather more positive seasonal traditions though, which I think would be much nicer to adhere to (no offence to the local Christmas Fair, obvs). There are a lot of European and Scandinavian practices that have popped on my Facebook feed over the last few years that I would love to adopt. This year, a lot of people have been pointing me towards an Icelandic tradition that is part of a season called Jolabokflod (Jólabókaflóð) which roughly translates to “The Christmas Book Flood”. Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country and sells most of its books between September and November in preparation for the upcoming holiday. This has led to people exchanging books as presents on Christmas Eve and spending the rest of the night snuggled up reading them and snacking on festive foods. Obviously this speaks to me on a rather emotional level and TMM has already made the executive decision to appropriate this idea this year (I can’t say I’m too upset).

I’ve also seen articles relating to a movement in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where people purchase new coats and leave them tied around lamp posts and packed safely on benches for homeless people with notes tied to them that say “I am not lost! If you are stuck out in the cold, please take me to keep warm”. Austrians also like to help, and apparently buy extra Christmas trees to leave outside their houses to ensure the local wildlife has a nice festively themed haven. If these don’t warm your heart, I don’t know what will.

Denmark and Norway have given us Hygge, a massively on trend movement that thrives well in the wintery season. All about comfort and relaxation, it’s there to help away fight away the winter blues and seasonal low moods. It’s all about the aesthetic; including lots of heart shapes decorations (which will please my mum no end) earthy colours and natural textures – bringing in some much needed greenery inside for the holidays. If you’re looking for a cosy little Christmas, you don’t need much more than a little bit of Jolabokflod and Hygge (which sounds like a great law firm).

The last one I’ve seen recently which I thought was cute is a Nordic folklore about the Nisse/Tomte, which in very rudimentary terms is basically a Christmas goblin. Originating in pre-Christian times, it is a spirit that looks like a little gnome or gonk and is often linked specifically to a family or clan, thought to be of the farmer who originally cleared the land to live on. Believed to possibly be derived from Norse niðsi which translates “dear little relative”, they live in the homestead and act as a guardian. They will look after the family and animals and protect from misfortune, but are short tempered and easily offended – they will steal stuff or kill life stock and basically they will eff shiz up if you don’t treat them properly. However, over time their legends have evolved and they are now widely linked to Christmas. Their purpose and appearance has been heavily influenced by the commercialised ideas of Father Christmas and they now visit houses to deliver gifts to worthy souls. I like the notion of a little house spirit keeping an eye on things and enjoying the festivities as much as the next romantic.

Not to be a lefty snowflake (though I suppose it is the season after all) but I would like as much European influence this Christmas as possible. It’s a time for celebration and coming together (I feel the urge to burst into song) and with everything that’s going on elsewhere, I think it’s important to share our histories and traditions before they’re lost. And let’s face it, anything that keeps me in the mood has got to be worth it.

Birds, Beasts and Unexpected Relatives

Devon Blog

Gosh, it’s been a while since we’ve been here, hasn’t it? I am a whole two weeks behind on blogging (the shame), but to be honest I’m surprised this hasn’t happened more regularly. My track record for keeping at something isn’t that great – especially when it’s self-imposed/self-motivated. However, The Neens has expressed her displeasure at my lack of blogging, and what The Neens wants goes, so I’m back on the blogging horse. It is good though, because the two weeks off has given me a little bit of material to go off and I return to you with the good wholesome quality content you like to see.

I was actually off work last week (lucky me) for the Great Pendlebury Expedition of 2018. TMM’s Mum was celebrating her birthday, and it was sneakily decided that we would take her on a surprise holiday as a family. Everything was pretty much decided early in the year and all that was left to do was to get her down there none the wiser. TMM’s dad cleverly managed to whisk her away, promising her a week of calm in Devon, and we even went to visit her the night before to take her a present and wish her a pre-emptive happy birthday aka we bald faced lied to her face which brought me out in panicked sweats. It went off without a hitch though, and Saturday morning saw 8 adults, 3 teeny tots, 3 dogs and 4 cars full of suitcases haring it down the motorway. It was supposedly planned that our journeys would be staggered so that TMM’s Mum wouldn’t know what was going on, but as always with the best laid plans of mice and men, I think it was only by the skin of our teeth that we avoided bumping into them,

The main body of the convoy met at Gloucester services at sparrow fart in the morning (TMM got me up and in the car by about 6am and let me tell you, I was grouchy). We got to the services about half an hour before anyone else and had a nice little breakfast and a wander round the absolutely beautiful farm shop (everything in their is glorious and outrageously expensive, so of course we bought tons). Just as we were finishing up, TMM’s sister arrived with her husband, little one, sizable baby bump and 2 dogs and then by the time they’d got themselves sorted, TMM’s brother, wife and 2 little ones had arrived and we all had a quick catch up before heading off again.

We did our best Italian Job impression down the motorway (TMM got a bit overexcited and was referred to as a “boy racer” more than once – especially hilarious considering it has previously been stated he is a grandma driver) and pulled up at the allocated meeting point of the beach car park with time to spare. Whilst everyone bundled up, a pair of binoculars were handed round and we scrutinised every unsuspecting couple on the beach below. What I had imagined would be a short jaunt to the bay and then a slow motion run into ach other’s arms actually turned out to be a bit of a Monty Python sketch when it turned out the beach was a lot longer than anticipated and en masse we approached numerous people who turned out not to be the droids we were looking for. There was even a mild concern someone was going to report us for just stalking random people. Eventually though, the collies were released and hared up the shoreline to our prize. As we slowly made our way along, dragging children who were far more interested in digging, TMM’s Mum realised who we were and boke down into fits of totes emosh tears. This in turn made me tear up a little (this woman beat breast cancer with nary a tear shed, yet was clearly affected by her family) and then there was a mass hugging session and a lot high pitched chattering.

The week itself was full of delightful beach walks (though I do have to admit to being a grump because boy was it cold), board games and a lightening speed trip to Exeter in which TMM and I somehow managed to spend about £100 in ten minutes. I do have to admit to struggling slightly with the early mornings (the bedrooms were all on the bottom floor and the living area directly above them, and tiny children appear to have the body mass index of Indian elephants), and proved myself to be the laziest person there by getting up after every one else every single day. To be honest though, nobody else really had a choice because they had children, but still.

It became very clear as well that I have very much of a Victorian mind set when it comes to children – they are lovely to see but when they cry it makes my butt clench. Now don’t get me wrong, I love those little critters to bits; their giggles sound like angel choirs, their tiny grabby hands make my insides warm and freshly washed adorably curly baby hair could probably solve all of life’s woes, but my God, when they cry! It’s like the siren for the end of days – just the most heartbreakingly devastated wail that vibrates down to the bone. I mean, honestly, what have they even got to cry about? They don’t have to work, they are actively encouraged to take naps and they can literally shit themselves and somebody will clean it up. (As pointed out to me, you don’t know true parenting until you’ve cheered at someone else pooping). I’d give my left arm to be in their tiny and sensibly velcroed shoes. This holiday has made it abundantly clear though that I am meant to one of life’s cool aunts. I will swan into their lives, dispensing timely wisdom and an unhealthy amount of sugary goods, and once they are over excited and hoped up on e-numbers, I will give them back and return to my blessedly silent cats and long lie ins.

edna.png

We watched The Incredible 2 whilst away and it was abundantly clear to all that I am Edna; charmed by children but best kept separate from them. Also, tell me that isn’t me in my Velma costume.

Instead, I am on the noble and valiant quest of trying to convince TMM that we need a bearded dragon. The lady who had put us up in one of her beautiful barn conversions also had an absolute menagerie and invited guests to help with the morning feeding round. We descended on the first morning at 10am sharp to help feed her 4 alpacas, 2 donkeys, 1 fully grown cune cune pig (called Tom) 3 piglets, 2 geese, 10 guinea pigs, 1 rabbit, 7000 brightly coloured birds and a multitude of chickens, ducks and turkeys (called Nigella and Paxo). We were followed on our rounds by a rather loud-mouthed guinea fowl and also got to have a stroke of a bearded dragon called Fluffy and tortoise called Shelley. I was understandably overwhelmed with animal fuelled joy and should really be applauded for not elbowing the children out of the way more regularly. After narrowing it down though (alpacas and donkeys being too big for out current abode), I’ve decided a reptile is my only available avenue. (I have previously tried for bees, pygmy goats and birds, but TMM has sensibly pointed out that living in rented accommodation with a cat is not really the best environment for any of those). I have helpfully been pricing up costs and allocating sections of our house for the dragon, much to TMM’s chagrin, and am hoping to have a new member of little family early in the new year.

Overall, I think it can be classed as a success though, and I do hope TMM’s mother enjoyed herself as much as she deserved to. Now that’s done though, it’s all about the downhill scramble to Christmas, so prepare for some festively panicked ramblings over the next few weeks…