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…

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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.

Driving Miss Crafty

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Well we’ve only bloody gone and bought a new car! (About time too I hear you call). Hans von Manschaft has beeped his last and as of last night he has gone to the big garage in the sky (he’s not, he’s gone to the Hyundai garage as a part ex but you get what I was going for). Instead we now have a super swanky little motor that’s full of effortless chill – just like us. It’s got tinted back windows, as our gangsta lifestyle demands, DAB radio and a ton of buttons (which I have obviously already touched). We originally were going full the most bog standard model they had (it was basically a box with wheels) but somewhere along the line we ended up with a “Premium SE” whilst managing to stay completely on budget. We’ve got electronic windows, AC and headlights that tilt in the direction you’re turning (which we have been very wowed by). It’s also SUPER SHINY and very white which we were both unexpectedly taken with (though I expect that will remain as such for about two days. So many dates to the car wash though). We did turn down the extra fancy waxing and car mats for another £350 (much to the chagrin of the garage) because we’re not that precious or rich, but TMM already has designs on Amazon Prime options to ensure the inside stays as fancy as it is for a fraction of the cost.

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Look at all those buttons, it’s like a little present just for me and my pointy fingers

TMM was the most brave during the whole situation, and I think provided a soothing balm for the young man who was dealing with us in the face of Woo, who we brought along as our enforcer and money man. She made a name for herself at the last garage when she proceeded to completely destroy the chap who was somewhat poorly trying to sell us a car. She basically beat him into verbal submission, and I think he was close to tears when we left. She has no time for anyone’s shit and, !)as such, is now in charge of all grown up aspects of our lives. She proved herself invaluable whilst we navigated the somewhat choppy waters of car sales though, and definitely has her face up on a couple of salesroom back walls with a big red BEWARE plastered across it. In fact, her response to this very paragraph was “DAMN RIGHT, LOOK OUT DODGY SALESMEN, I AM ON THE LOOSE!”. Be afraid, be very afraid.

This time was much better for all though, and I think Woo and young Blessing (our salesman) built up a good relationship of lightly fond exasperation. There was a slight fission when he went out to inspect Hans though. The previous guy had just given him a once over and offered us a set sum. For Blessing, ever the professional, this wasn’t sufficient. He took his iPad and his earnest nature and got all up in Hans’ grill. TMM had nicely mentioned the somewhat temperamental nature of the parking break and incessant beeping beforehand in a casual sort of way, but there was still a lot of panicked rolling when he came to try and park it. We enjoyed a little giggle too when he came back in with wide eyes and told us in no uncertain terms how scared he’d been and that temperamental was not the way he would have chosen to describe it. Still, it all went through smoothly and we now have a lovely new little Hyundai I10. It is just a slight change from the somewhat canal boat sized Passat. I think after The Duchess had been replaced with Hans, we’d just planed to keep upgrading to bigger and bigger cars until we were just trundling along in a tank, but common sense won the day. Our road has minimal parking and as much as it’s nice to have, we don’t need a boot the size of a barge. Poor TMM was a little cut up at the thought I think, but I’ve promised him that we’re just doing this to save money for our dream cottage in the country. Small cars now lead to big dreams later on.

It has been a bit of an eye opener money-wise though I think. We’ve never done loans or finance or the like before, and it’s a bit of experience. TMM is most distrustful of all big companies (he’s basically a recluse who should really be living in a forest somewhere with a giant beard and a pet wolf) and I have no idea how anything in the real world works, so it took a lot of research, grown up conversations and soothing stories of positive experiences from friends to get us to this point. We’ve only ever had one big expense before and that was buying our first car with student loan money. We’re in the thick of it now though and our credit scores will hopefully soon reflect it (I am mildly ashamed at myself for even writing that. Who have I become!) The point is, whilst we’re not quite as JAMmy as Teresa May might like to suggest (see what I did there – political humour gone mad), we are also going to have to learn to cut back on our somewhat more unnecessary expenses. Whist we are both lucky enough to have full time permanent jobs, we’ve also got a lads lads lads holiday to Prague with my mum planned, and a new sudden liking for coconut water (super tasty, super expensive), so I think it might take a judicious sprinkling of restraint when it comes to the weekly shop and our trips to Primark. Still, I’m not too concerned; we’ve lived on less quite successfully before, so we can definitely do it again.

Perhaps what has come at just the right time is the formation of a new working partnership between myself and Woo and the soon to be grand opening of our Etsy shop. We have been threatening to do it for the longest time, but with the resurgence in my crafting activities (I’ve finally finished the wall piece of Woo after promising her it for about 3 months) and Woo getting her garage hopefully cleared out and converted to a workshop, we have finally decided to take the plunge and just see what happens. I’ve gone a bit wild recently on pompoms (so bang on trend) after having to power craft a little present for our friend Wilson after realising somewhat belatedly that it was her birthday on Friday and we hadn’t got her anything (HAPPY BIRTHDAY HoneyBadger!). She is terribly on trend in a sensible, grown up, Pinterest kind of way, but she loves a good pompom and a splash of colour so hopefully she’ll be taken with what we’ve got her.

img-20180612-wa0010672072023.jpgDo you like a pompom? Could you see such a garland festooning your house? Come to us for all your bunting needs!

Over time, we’re hoping to be able to get rid of a lot of backed up craft that’s currently taking over my living room, treat ourselves to all sorts of new craft projects and fun toys (metal engraving anyone?), and any monetary profit will be an added bonus. We’re maintaining a sensible and professional outlook at the moment, but expect us to be world famous entrepreneurs this time next year. Just saying.

Birthday Bonanza

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Well that’s it folks, I have officially joined the 27 club. My birthday has come and gone and I am now firmly in the realm of “being responsible” and definitely no longer young enough to accidentally commit a crime but still avoid jail time (which is an irrational but very specific fear I have. My mother has promised that if, god forbid, I should end up embroiled in an accidental life of crime and sent to the Big House, she’ll come bail me out with a file baked in a cake and a Thelma and Louise style getaway – hopefully sans the cliff dive – but I’d rather just try and avoid the whole thing altogether if possible). As I pointed out to a colleague, if I were a rock star I could totally die now and join the hallowed halls of the Forever 27, though thankfully I’m boring as sin and highly unlikely to shuffle off this mortal coil through excessive drug use or car vs. tree related incidents. I’m pretty much planning on seeing this year out in the same style as the old one.

As always though, I’ve had an excellent birthday haul so kudos to all who we’re involved. You’ve all done very well and should give yourselves a nice pat on the back. Admittedly, I may or may have not started opening some presents on the previous Monday, but I did have to go to the dentist and gifts were coming through the letter box with tempting regularity, so I don’t really see how I can be blamed for getting carried away. Also, I’m a grown up now, and can open my presents whenever I please, so there. I would like to thank my dad and his lovely lady friend for their promptly posted and delightful gifts which made me smile after having to go and be super brave with hygiene specialists.

I also had to open some presents early when we went to see TMM’s clan (because I wouldn’t see them on the day and it would have been rude not to show my gratitude) and as per they excelled themselves present-wise (not to rub it in but I am 100% their favourite child, soz not soz). I got not only a yummy tea, but also a fancy box of Ferrero Rocher (TMM successfully demonstrated how he’s been unhealthily influenced by my family by not being able to help quoting “you’rr spoiling us ambassador” every time I offer him one), charming gin related paraphernalia, bath bombs, summer wreath kits, a puppy fuss (the last one now since all the puppies have gone to their new home and not one of those homes was mine, boo hiss) and a snotty kiss off beautiful baby Thea.

My work colleagues also did extremely well, but to be honest I didn’t give them much option as I had very handily provided a laminated and regularly updated daily countdown from around the 163 day mark. Whilst the Friday wasn’t the most enjoyable of days (stupid busy work), the gift giving was top notch and the presents were smashing. Some of you may have already seen Leroy the Llama mug, who is now my designated tea vessel of choice, though he provides much hilarity when he pokes my eye every time I get near to the bottom of my brew. I also got Sydney Sloth the phone holder who has helped with finger cramp, and a selection of others joys including but not limited to; a lovely framed print of a flamingo among pigeons, fancy neon coloured booze (my favourite kind) and some rather gorgeous lilies that proved themselves to be almost fatal to some old dear on the bus home. I also got two books from my boss (who requested a special shout out, so word to her) that give the definitions of lots of weird and wonderful words that have had us in fits of laughter when we probably should have been busier doing what we’re paid for. We have educated ourselves though, and have some excellent new words to add to our vocabularies, such as “Kinabra – the Greek word for the stank of a billy goat” (please note, the italics are a direct quotation) and “Kakopyge – someone who has ugly buttocks” (pg. 136 of The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Words by George Stone Saussy the 3rd). Sadly none of us have managed to shoehorn them into a telephone call yet, but we’ll keep trying.

Look at my beautiful things. LOOK AT THEM.

TMM did his level best to spoil me rotten whilst adhering to the proviso he wasn’t to get me much. He not only made me pancakes in bed, he didn’t make me move until about 3 o’clock and then treated me to a new Lush face mask, some Primark jeans, a showing of Deadpool 2 (with Ben and Jerries’ ice-cream!) and a lovely Starbucks lunch. (This in itself was fun because I had hibiscus iced tea which is simultaneously the most hipsterish thing EVER and the tastiest drink I’ve had in a long time. The lovely Barista lady was a complete doll too, and did my a nice little happy birthday message and got my name right (though the more I look the more it looks like Eleanour, but still the first bit is right and that’s what usually throws people). I also got taken to the stage version of Thoroughly Modern Millie which was excellent (if questionably racist in sections) and have consequently spent the last two days fake tap dancing around the house, saying “oh terrif” with unnecessary amounts of enthusiasm and telling TMM how thoroughly modern I am. Admittedly, he’s been doing pretty much the same thing as he is definitely a modern woman, so its worked out well.

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It’s nearly Eleanor, so we’re definitely accepting it as a win.

*Speaking of, if anybody missed our Eurovision dress up last week on my Instagram last week, you really need to go and have a look. TMM went as Conchita (the winner a few years ago, with the amazing eye makeup and perfectly sculpted beard), and I have to say I have never been more proud of my make up abilities. TMM is a pretty hunky looking chap, it can’t be denied, but I literally don’t think I’ve ever seen a more attractive woman. His cheekbones take highlight like a champ and I found myself staring dreamily at his profile whilst the light glinted of them. It was like Xena Warrior Princess with chest hair. I couldn’t even bring myself to be annoyed at how pretty he looked, because I was too busy being deeply in love with his beautifully shadowed eyes and cow-like eyelashes.

Team were as good as they always are and newest edition Yoga Martin BBQ’d like a master (I’m pretty sure the BBQ was planned anyway, but I’m just going to assume it was in honour of my birthday and give him my birthday kudos blessing like the magnanimous delight I am). Turns out I am now all about barbequed fish like you would not believe and having it three times in two weeks is really as good as you could want it to be. There was much hilarity with axe throwing (which I definitely not good at), archery (which I watched from the side-lines shouting out helpful safety tips), air rifle shooting (which I enjoyed but hit absolutely nothing with) and I left with twice the amount I’d birthday cake I’d arrived with, a delightful doodle book/wonderfully pleasing coloured pencils and a date to walk with llamas in June (YASSSSSSS).

In true Indian wedding style (the perks of having a far flung family) the celebrations will continue throughout the week, and I know I’ve still got a My Hermes (family couriers of choice) parcel on its way from dearest Neens. We’ve also planned a trip to visit Mother and the rest of the Welsh Massive at the weekend too, though admittedly Hans the Devil Chariot is still beeping endlessly so we might be slightly frazzled (read – murderous) by the time we get there. It’s definitely worth it though, because I have siblings to squeeze, cousins to cuddle and a game of Cards Against Humanity or two to enjoy.

Now before I sign off, I thought I’d just leave you with some fun facts and notable events from my date of birth (other than the obvious *twirls*) that might help you in a pub quiz one day.

1) 1536 – The Execution of Anne Boleyn (cheery)

2) 1885 – 1st mass production of shoes by Jan Matzeliger in Lynn, Massachusetts (this fact pleases me immensely and I’m not sure why)

3) 1897 – Oscar Wilde released from Reading Gaol (Reading as in the place, not the act, which confused me more than it should have done for a minute)

4) 1928 – 51 frogs enter 1st annual “Frog Jumping Jubilee” in Angel’s Camp, California (I mean, why not)

5) 1939 – Birth of James Fox (phwoar)

6) 1948 – birth of Grace Jones (who terrifies me ever so slightly)

7) 1962 – Marilyn Monroe sings “Happy Birthday, Mr President” to John F Kennedy (My Mother did a great rendition of this down the phone to on my birthday)

8) 2018 – Meghan and Harry get married (you might have seen it mentioned briefly on the news)

9) 2161 – Syzygy: 8 of 9 planets aligned on same side of sun (something to look forward to)

I hope you all get at least one of those stuck in your head for next year in honour of me. TTFN.

Springtime for Ebears (and TMMs)

It’s just going to be a quick blog this week, dear readers, but try not to be disheartened. In my quest for topics over the past few days, I’ve been given/come up with a couple of rather good ideas for future posts, meaning that even though this one might be lacking, you’ve got lots of things to look forward to.

 (I’ve also been UNHEALTHILY OBSESSED with “Feel It Still” by Portugal and find myself typing the lyrics to that automatically when trying to write anything, so you might just get that at some point. #sorrynotsorry).

There does seem to be rather a lot going on at this time of year though, and there is a somewhat frantic air of preparation everywhere I go. Spring, although not quite sprung yet (gosh darnit) is on the horizon and the promise of lighter evening, fluffy lambs and not having to wear 2 pairs of thick sock all the time is a pleasant balm for my soul. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, someone that could be defined as a “winter” person. I get very angry when cold (like hangry, only temperature related) and can often become enraged if not continually swaddled in numerous blankets. I remember one particular occasion when we went team camping in early May. It was pretty wet and windy for most of the day and we all retreated to bed rather early. After all getting rather hysterical and falling asleep like children, I woke up completely furious and almost spitting with rage when it turned out the air bed had gone down and the cold had seeped in. Despite wearing about 48 layers, being in a sleeping bag the size of a small space craft and surrounded by four other people I was absolutely freezing. It might not surprise you to know we gave up on that holiday rather earlier than anticipated (and perhaps not unexpectedly, one of the lads has never come camping with us again).

I just do not thrive in chilly climes and feel that everything would be better if it were warmer and lighter all the time. Admittedly, I don’t do too much better when hot (I get sweaty and lazy and flump about like a giant clammy caterpillar) – there really is only a small grouping of temperature where I’m truly happy. Still, I’m definitely ready to be too warm rather than too cold now, and could do with everything just hurrying itself along. Snow and frost is all very well and good for about two days. After that it loses its charm and unless I can view it safely from my comfy chair near the radiator, I am firmly “not about it”. 

We’re entering the dying months of winter now though, and with The Almanac guiding us gently through the turbulent ravages of these final moments, things are starting to look up. TMM has hoed the garden beds (somewhat frivolously as he gets bored with weeding rather quickly) and the seed potatoes are sprouting rather terrifyingly on the windowsill. There’s buckets full fruity promise (strawberries, chillies and tomatoes) and at this rate, we shouldn’t need to buy vegetables until autumn.

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“Oh, the barnyard is busy in a regular tizzy,
And the obvious reason is because of the season
Ma Nature’s lyrical, with her yearly miracle
Spring, Spring, Spring”

The bright sunshine and long afternoons still seem rather far away though, and poor TMM seems to have developed the winter death virus that’s going round with ardour. After spending most of last week valiantly trying to hack up a lung and going to bed at about 7pm complaining of weak limbs and aches, it all came to a head at the weekend. Not only did we have a super Lazy Saturday in an attempt to try and help him recover (TMM leaked noxious fluids out of every face orifice and knocked back Covonia like it was going out of fashion, we both napped through the rugby and I didn’t put trousers on all day) Action Sunday was cancelled after a trip to Asda proved to exhaust all of the poor boy’s energy resources. His adorably sulky little face as he sat on the couch, lamenting his inability to take any good photos of nature/breathe without sounding like Darth Vader, only perked up after I made him watch the Lone Ranger (Armie Hammer is a rather stunning chap) and two of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. He’s on the road to recovery now though, cheering his way happily through Bullseye (he’s actually 70) as I type.

It’s for the best really, because I don’t think I make the most supportive nurse. Our attitudes to sickness survival are diametrically opposed which can make sympathy a little difficult to share. I am of the mind-set that when poorly, one should always try to take time off for recovery and douse up to the eyeballs with all the medication available. TMM comes from a much more robust family (his attitude to sickness and pain is oddly reminiscent of the Blank Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and tried to muscle on through the phlegm, shivers and dizzy fits. I also am completely useless at caring for myself most of the time, and as such surely can’t be expected to sufficiently look after anyone else. How we didn’t starve is beyond me.

He’s mostly back on full form though this week, which means I don’t feel too bad about leaving him for the annual work’s conference this Friday. I am usually not one for enforced partying/work related fun/anything where people might want to talk to me, but I am actually feeling rather positive about this one. I’ve spent all week tanning and breaking in my new heels (how people where fancy heels on a daily basis astounds me) and only have packing to do now before we go. I haven’t actually settled on an outfit yet (and probably won’t until about 15 minutes before we go down for the meal and my room mate makes an executive decision on my behalf) and I’m still a little touchy about the awkward life choice I made regarding my hair cut (shaved side panels are all well and good when your hair is a little longer and you look a bit edgy. When it’s already short, you (meaning me) end up looking a bit like a horsey faced butch lesbian. Which is fine if that what’s you’re going for. It is not, however, what I was going for). Alas, there isn’t much that can be done at this stage except lots of screwing my eyes up whilst lying in bed and willing my hair to grow faster. Worse things do happen at sea though, and I’ve definitely had far worse looks (shout out to that time my mum cut my hair with a migraine and ended up making me look like a jellyfish). With enough lippy and a shot of tequila I won’t even remember the hair and will inevitably be found on the dance floor grooving embarrassingly to My Humps by Fergie. And if that’s not something for you to tune in and read about next week, I don’t know what is.

spring 2

To be honest, I might just go with this look. I think it works for me.

To Date or Not To Date; how to avoid pitfalls in the pursuit of love, straight from the voice of inexperience

So this week I went out to the team and asked for inspiration on ideas for blog posts. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve been struggling a bit creatively and finding engaging topics to write about that are not only interesting for me but also enjoyable for you guys to read can prove to be a little tricky. Thankfully though the team came through and like the very helpful engines they are, they provided me with a corker of a post. “Shit dates and how to get out of them” was the tagline and I have to say, I’ve taken to it surprisingly well.

Now my track record for dating is pretty limited and since I’ve been with TMM for 7 years, any memory I’ve had of foraying out into the dating world has long since been lost to the mists of time. I barely left the house when I was younger (why go and talk to boys when you could stay in and read – am I right?) and The Man Muffin and I didn’t actually start going on any dates until we were already going out. Our relationship started after I told a friend I though TMM looked delightfully like Aaron Taylor Johnson (sighs dreamily) and she basically dragged me and forced a conversation. After that, all it took  was one ill timed yet enjoyable kiss on St Patrick’s night, a few brief occasions of awkward longing stares across crowded rooms and a serious drunken pep talk from a house mate who told me in no uncertain terms to “go over there and hold his hand” during a “Pounded” night (£1 a drink in the local student bar) and we were pretty much done. Within a few months it had blossomed into meeting the parents, moving in together and that was pretty much it for us. We’ve never looked back and any dates we go on usually end with us getting overexcited about going to a posh restaurant and having to go to bed early because we’re tuckered out. #players

Look at those love struck young fools. There was no way we weren’t going to end up together. Though it’s a shame we both look better in the pictures of us with other people…

However, whilst that is super great for me, it doesn’t really provide any data on how to cope with the whole “dating scene”. To be quite honest, if some reason TMM cruelly deserted me and I had to date now, I’d have already moved into my mum’s shed, adopted 16 cats and taken on the nomclature of Sister Christen Dover, embracing the monistic lifestyle with vigour. 

Still, never let it be said that I back down from a good challenge (note – this is complete lies and undoubtedly has never been said about me. I back away from challenges All The Time, but I strive to be better for my readers). To that end, I’ve been given permission by some of my more experienced friends to talk about some of their adventures, and these will be what we’re going to use as our referential case studies. Buckle up people, this is about to be a “this is what you could have won” look into the world of disastrous dates. 

The first example comes to us fresh from the weekend on behalf of Snooker Toes (the code name he chose out of the options I gave him). He’s nicely allowed me to make a few comments on his experiences (though I’ve promised to be nice this time round). Anyway, he seems to have a habit of attracting ladies whilst going about his daily chores (last time was at the bank) and this time he had gone for an eye test and started making friendly conversation with the lady showing him the frames (“hurrah” goes the cry from the Greek Chorus in the side-lines). He went in straight for the smooth guy approach – “You have my number, you might want to use it” (impressed silence from the Chorus) and by lunch time she’d messaged him back and they were chatting away. For a week they went back and forth, but here’s were old Snooker Toes started to spread the seeds of discontent. “TBH I was already questioning it because we didn’t seem to have much in common…I though I might as well arrange a date because it’s not always about liking the same thing and the first impression was good”. (Some of the Chorus are starting to fidget). Now, whilst it some red flags have already been raised, I think it’s important to respect not only his commitment to the dating cause, but also his positivity levels. A few virtual messages are no match for an actual face to face conversation and the human connection. Unfortunately though, this was not the case for this particular date. After some post-date evaluation, I personally think the setting might have been a slight issue. Typically a first date should be somewhere local that’s easy enough to get to (and easy enough to get away from), somewhere with signal in case your date is a killer and you need potentially rescuing, and an activity that allows for interaction but not continual and consistent scrutiny. Snooker Toes chose to ignore this dating staple though (much against our urging over a curry the night before) as he had a hankering to see the sea and suggested the beach. (Half of the Chorus have packed up and gone home). Now, living as we do smack back in the middle of somewhat grey and rainy country, this meant a two hour journey in a car with a practical stranger only to end up somewhere wet, windy and rather woeful. A rainy trip to the beach with pals can be a laugh. The same journey with a first date was not. Whilst he was quick to state that she was not a horrible person, she was apparently a fan of inane thoughtless chatter and after constant, endless talking about literally every thought that entered her head, Snooker Toes was forced to admit defeat and was so mentally exhausted he had to take a two hour nap when he got home – which was my favourite part of the whole endeavour. He was more than willing to admit that it was more than likely a bad case of nerves and that whilst it wasn’t as awful as it could have been (nobody threw up or said anything horribly racist) I think the main thing to take away from this is the importance of planning. Making friends is easy and meeting people at work is pretty much all sorted out for you, but deciding to focus all your attention on one person (someone who you are, consciously or subconsciously, pinning a lot of hope on, be it for a quick shag or a lifetime partner) requires forethought. Something that showcases you in your best light whilst simultaneously allowing you to get a good read on your date. It’s hard enough working out how to be yourself without having to worry about anything else.

The idea of first dates always remind me of the scene from Scrubs where adorable girl nurse Elliot talks about how to hide her volcano of crazy whilst going out with her new beau. I’m in two minds really and would appreciate your input. Is it better to go all in; crazy cannons blazing and stand proud knowing it could all end in crushing defeat and a night crying into a tub of Ben & Jerries’ and self-loathing? Or is it best to start out behind a mask of normality and drip feed your crazy in gradually until it’s too late for your partner to escape – let it all bubble through until they’re trapped in the lava of your lunacy?

I think it’s ideal to suggest the first, but our second example maybe argues against the point. This one comes from the first year of University and my transatlantic soul sister Jbear. She came over to the UK for a year and was transfixed by the skinny, pale, childlike boys we call our own here in dear old Blighty. There was one in particular we spotted in the first few months who peaked her attention; a sort of Noel Fielding type in a red leather jacket two sizes too small, a mullet Rod Stewart could be proud of and a lackadaisical approach to everything except his music. Anyway, she kept a weather eye on him for a few weeks and eventually I received a text saying she’d invited him back to hers and to stand by for a status report. Once again, I think this could be where things started to fall apart. First dates should NEVER be held in either of the respective dater’s homes. This can only lead to disaster. Remember people, some where local, somewhere with signal and somewhere with something to do.

Anyway, the next thing I heard was about 9am the next morning when I received a somewhat unexpectedly detailed text. Apparently after bumping into the Mop Top at the pub, Jbear had invited him back to hers for something to eat. She had left him safely in her room, gone to rustle something up and when she’d returned, laden with delicious and nutritional plates of food, she discovered that he had made himself comfortable and gone into full on “naked man” mode.  Thankfully I have never been unexpectedly faced with a strangers junk all up in my personal business, because I literally do not know how I would react in that situation. (Note – it is not appropriate first date etiquette). Jbear, bless her heart, was as polite as could be and told Sir Knickerless that she was not really into buying what he was selling and that it would be best if he got dressed. She was then forced to endure hours of excruciating awkwardness when he Didn’t Leave. That’s right folks, this kid’s metaphorical balls were so big that he was happy enough to have his somewhat unsubtle offer of sex rejected and then still feel comfortable enough to hang round. Now, kudos to him for thinking that it was still worth trying to build a relationship, but I think at that point any self respecting person would just ducked out. Not him. The best thing was, when I received the text, it wasn’t just an update, it was a plea for help. Mr “let me introduce myse-OH LOOK here’s my penis” was still there, helping himself to Jbear’s dwindling tea collection. After laughing myself practically sick, I rushed across campus and turned up to find a red faced and practically withered Jbear, a content and apparently oblivious date and a couple of other housemates who’d been dragged in for moral support. We all sat there, in Jbear’s tiny room, for a fantastically awkward few minutes before some one suggested a walk. Now, you’d think at this point, Noel Fielding’s less attractive and infinitely less socially conscious younger brother would have said his goodbyes and made his way home.

If only.

An hour later found us traipsing round the local woods, alternating between trying to fall far enough behind Captain Cock-a-boo  to die a little and power walking ahead and trying to lose him in the trees. Eventually, Jbear made the executive decision to just cut him loose and made up some tale about having something planned for the afternoon that he was not required for. He sloped off, a little hurt I think that we had shaken him off, and we retired to the flat to laugh, weep and then nap off the stress of the whole dating experience.

It’s important, I think, in this tricky labyrinth of love, to take some key points from these examples. 1) Make sure to have an escape plan. Having an evacuation route is not defeatist, it is just practical. Be it a friend with a mobile phone and handy excuse, a prior engagement or just a ballsy attitude and the ability to cut your loses and run, you want to have the safety net in place. 2) Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. A spontaneous trip to the beach or an impromptu invitation of tea might seem like a good idea at the time, but it will not necessarily stay that way. There is a reason lots or people go bowling or to the cinema on a first date. Ignore the wisdom of those who have gone before at your peril. 3) Remember that even if it does all go pear-shaped and you end up feeling lacklustre, lovelorn and lonely, if you just give it a little time you will have a great story for someone’s blog. And lastly, I think we can all agree that the moral of these misadventure are that if you have to take a nap afterwards just to recover, it definitely didn’t go according to plan…

Words in E –Minor proudly presents….An Interview With Me

I have a confession to make. I’ve cheated.

Being the busy social butterly I am, I haven’t actually had chance to write a full and detailed blog post like I know you have come to expect (the shame). It is a cruel and busy world out there, but worry not, I will not let you down. Like any good 90s child, I have taken the teachings of Blue Peter to heart so here’s one I prepared earlier. Oosh.

Before getting into it I have a few points of interest from the weekend that I’m going to just drop in for you – I like to keep you all abreast of my life.

– We went down to visit my mother for a few days and I am glad to report she is holding out admirably against the elements determined to rain all over her parade (rather literally). Perhaps not quite as dramatically as some parts of the world, she’s has nevertheless had to deal with a natural disaster and was woken up one night last week to find water gushing in through the back door and sweeping poor BobCat off his paws. Rather dishearteningly, she’s going to have to have entirely new flooring and is currently living with enough industrial fans to re-enact a late 80s soft core rock video, but she is maintaining a strong and (mostly) postive attiude (read – heavy sarcasm) and the cats are gradually recovering. We did spend the majority of the time there with the three of us tucked up on her bed like the grandparents in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (being as there was no power and limited furniture downstairs), but we left her with a smile on her face and the promise of further assistance whenever required, so things were looking up

– The weekend took a dramatic turn of events when TMM tried to kill me by dropping an apple the size of a watermelon on my face. We were gathering some of the bounitful harvest that Mother’s garden had provided (like the adorable little hobbits we are) when I was brutally attacked and nearly blinded when an apple catapulted from the branch TMM was fettling with. He says it was an accident but I remain dubious. Annoyingly I don’t have anything apart from a tiny red mark to show for it, but I can promise it was very dramatic.

Apples

An innocent scene, before everything took a dark and violent turn

–  You’ll all be glad to know that Operation Prepare for Christmas is well under way. It’s excellent – there’s wool everywhere. Bucky is being very well behaved considering and I’ve only had to bat him away once or twice. He does have to sit very close to me though so he can keep an eye on things and make sure I don’t need saving from a savage wool beast. My hero.

–  Speaking of the Buckmiester General, the furry little bugger has some how injured himself and I reacted, as any good parent should, with complete hysteria. It isn’t much more that a semi-deep scratch on his paw (and it can’t even be that sore because he let me prod and poke it for ages without so much as a wince), but I was VERY concerned and made TMM research pet antiseptic creams just to be on the safeside. #seriouscatparent

With those announcements out of the way, I’ll get on to the main event. I’ve got a couple of little nuggets like this saved up for such eventualities from when I researched best blogging protocol. Apparently, readers are very interested in lists, personal details and small comedic interludes, so I’ve combined all 3 into a Listicle – 10 things you might not know about me (unless you’re TMM because he basically knows more about me than I do these days). I’m unsure how well it’ll go down, but at least it gives you all something to read on an Tuesday evening (and please feel free to share your own personal facts, or judge me heavily).

10 Things You Might Not Know About Me

First Kiss

So it turns out I can’t actually remember my first kiss. How awful is that? According to TV and young adult books, the first kiss is the realisation of sexuality and the pinnacle of your youth. Your whole life blossoms from that point and  you look back fondly with misty screen and singing cherubs. Proving once again that I like to buck the social trend, when I tried to think back on this monumental and life changing event, I came up completely blank.

It’s not that I think it was particularly scarring and therefore have scrubbed it from my memory, nor is it that I actively tried to disregard anything relating to it. And it’s not as though I can’t remember other such key life events – I vividly remember my first kiss with TMM, though that might have been because he came at me with a knife.

*Side Note* it wasn’t as threatening as it sounds. It was St Patricks Day and as any good Uni student should, our not so little gang had all covered ourselves with as much green as we possibly could. I was in charge of drawing all the cheek shamrocks with my green eyeliner pencil (I say mine, it was definitely my sister’s – sorry) but being somewhat tipsy, mostly I was just smudging great green blobs on people and rather horrifically blunting the pencil. Ross proclaimed to be able to sharpen it for me, dragged me into the kitchen where he proceeded to produce the most inappropriately sized knife for the job and then promptly forgot all about sharpening it in favour of snogging my face off.)

I can equally remember the first time meeting each of my besties, graduating and my mother’s wedding. The first kiss though? Nada. I can only hope whoever it was with doesn’t remember it either….

Paddys

He might not have been my first kiss, but he’s certainly my favourite.

Joints

I apparently have weird elbows (and possibly knees). After countless years of being awful at PE and failing most physical activities, my bestest Woo pointed out to me during a yoga class that my elbows hyper extend (like a big weirdo). I can also pop out one of my thumb knuckles. Great for party tricks, useless for anything else.

Mental

I see a counsellor and have done for nearly 3 years now. To be honest, I’ll be surprised if this is actually news to anyone. I tell literally everyone. All the time. Whilst I am pretty quiet about most things, mental health is something that should never be ignored and I do my part to make sure my part in it is visible.

Thumb Sucking

I still suck my thumb when anxious or depressed. It’s something I used to do when I was little and just never really stopped. I never had a dummy, but my trusty thumb has been there through thick and thin. It has messed up my teeth up something rotten (the roof of my mouth is so arched and narrow that I can’t even fit a chubba chubba lolly between my top teeth) and the thumb in question is slightly longer than the other one but it’s something done so unconsciously I don’t even register it anymore. I kind of think that maybe I should be embarrassed by it sometimes, and that being 26 I should maybe look for different coping mechanisms, but to be honest I’ve got bigger fish to fry, and if anyone’s got a problem with it, I dare you to tell me to my adorable, thumb sucking face.

Body Art

I am tattoo free but do not always intend to remain so. People are always a little surprised that I am un-inked (I obviously give off that kind of vibe), but I have big dreams people. Low pain threshold but big dreams.

Twinkle Toes

I have sleep musical toes. I only learnt this recently, but we have the radio on in the morning and according to TMM, my toes will join in with most songs, regardless of whether I’m actually awake or not.

*Big Families*

I have lived more of my life with my parents separated than with them together. Now in today’s society it’s not actually that unusual anymore, but I think the bit that people are always surprised about is how pleasant and friendly they still are with each other. It’s been nearly 17 years now, but they buried the hatchet long ago. There have been parties where my mum and her ex husband’s girlfriend have laughed together and hugged, holidays where my dad and his girlfriend have stayed with his ex mother in law, and whilst I don’t think either of them regret the time they spent together, they have found love in other places. Divorce has not torn my family apart. It has only made it bigger.

Family

 Just a couple of the motley crew

Personal Grooming

This ones a bit risqué, but I feel it says a lot about me as a person (for good or bad…) I once dyed my “lady hair” to match my head hair – a lovely vivid pink. Shout out to Uni friends for this – (a lot of the strangest events in my life occurred at University). I can’t remember how it originally started, but it ended with a 3 hour group research quest on some of the strangest websites out there. During the second year, we spent far too much time googling strange and unusual things and learnt far more about the dark corners of the world than any decent person should. One such sojourn took us to the land of “lower region” maintenance and let me tell you, people are willing to do some weird shit to their undercarriages. Obviously this spurned much curiosity about what could be done and resulted in a bet that I wouldn’t match all my body hair. Worry not Reader, I did. It was hilarious, and excellent if only because it meant that when someone crudely shouted out (as they were wont to do) ““Oi love, do the collars and cuffs match?” I could say yes and watch them stumble over themselves in shock.

Love

I’ve kissed more girls then I have boys. I mean, to be honest it’s not like I’ve kissed huge amounts of either, but my girl count outweighs the boys by nearly 2:1. Mainly I blame University, but to be honest I just think it’s the fact that girls are just much more friendly.

Childhood Companions

I once tried to keep a mouldy cake as a pet. There really isn’t much more to this story, but it always makes me people laugh. I was DESEPRATE for a pet when I was little (as are most small children I think) and did all I could to convince my parents that our lives would be very much enriched by the presence of a small furry beastie. They did not agree and I, of course, was devastated beyond all belief. Instead, I found and secreted a carrot cake in a tin that I found in the cupboard under my bed and cultivated it until it had grown a lovely mossy green coat and proceeded to generally stink out the house. Unsurprisingly, I could not keep the cake hidden for long and my father rooted it out and summarily disposed of it in the outside bin. I still think back fondly on it sometimes.

So there we have it. You now all know a little bit more about me than you did before and hopefully I haven’t disturbed you too much, or ruined anyone’s opinions on me. It’s surprisingly cathartic to tell the internet a bunch of things about yourself, I definitely recommend it as a starter blog post for all you budding writers out there. Who knows, you might learn something new about yourself in the process…

(God, what a cheesy ending).