The Times, They Are A’Changing

Been a busy old couple of weeks this month. Considering February is supposedly the shortest (and often most lambasted) of months – the Tuesday of the year if you will, it’s managing to cram a hell of a lot in. This week alone, we’ve had 3 events and it’s not even Friday. I’ve celebrated Galentine’s Day (a personal favourite, celebrated with the customary Leslie Knope pictures declaring ‘ovaries before broveries’ and love for magnificent land mermaids). We smashed Shrove Tuesday – the pancake situation involved bacon, eggs and maple syrup, followed by chocolate spread, bananas and squirty cream and then ended in a pallet cleansing lemon and sugar. This repetitive and delightful ongoing cycle did mean that I had to lie on the couch afterwards and groan for a while, put it was so worth it.

We’ve also had Valentine’s Day, and once again TMM brutally betrayed me; even after we promised each other repeatedly the ‘no presents rule’ was in full force, I still got into the car to find a bundle of my favourite flowers, a box of beautiful macaroons and two tins of gin and tonic. I reacted in the obvious romantically accepting manner. I punched him in the boob and told him I loved him rather aggressively.

macroons

I mean, just look at it. What is a cold hearted, emotionally shuttered and terribly awkward girl to do? He’s such a bloody sweetheart. 

The trouble is, it’s our anniversary next weekend and I’ve got no idea what the etiquette is now. The ‘no present’ rule is supposedly still standing, but after this shambles who knows what’s going on. TMM promises that he’s not going to buy anything but I don’t know if I can trust his devious yet adorable face. I might just go wild and buy him something dramatically garish and over the top. Or maybe a barbershop quartet…

It’s not just been the last few days though. There’s also been a couple of birthdays (and you’ll be glad to know that those presents I did actually remember to send were all posted to the right addresses), preparation for an upcoming wedding (so much craft to do!) and the annual work’s conference in London. I did rather well I think and can confirm that I didn’t throw up (though it was a bit touch and go) – which I am taking as a sign of my ever encroaching adulthood.  There were some sad points around the time we requested a bit of Daniel Bedingfield (classic) where I had to turn down some proffered beverages (and depressingly, a krispy kreme) in order to maintain my non-vomit status, but overall I’m rather proud. I managed to come home with £2 more than I left with, a new liking for mixing strawberry vodka with white wine and a pair of skin coloured tights with the feet completely ripped to shreds #hardcoredancing. Admittedly, I did have to spend the Saturday after lying on the couch wrapped in blankets whilst being brought chicken bites and Victoria sponge cake by friends whilst shamefully binge watching Ex on the Beach

Work has actually been rather dramatically busy recently; there’s only limited time to share embarrassing stories about each other from the party. Yesterday I spent 5 hours (5 hours!!) training on a new all inclusive platform that’s being integrated into our daily lives. Whilst being slightly bitter about it (it’s basically going to make all of my skills defunct in about 3 months) I can’t help but be grudgingly wowed by how snazzy it is. Today I have been raging at pretty much every thing (so many tersely worded emails have been fired off) and even worked through my lunch rather than hiding behind my book and snarling at anybody who interrupted my food break like usual. However I have attempted to deal with my three inboxes, numerous KPIs and constant questions from colleagues regarding training in a sensible and mostly calm manner. I haven’t even cried once yet. It’s a brave new world out there people…

Well! Look at me talking about work in my blog! Who would have thought we’d ever be here. This is just another step on the endless escalator of adulthood, and a sign of things to come I think. I am starting to feel rather aggressively grown up these days really and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’ve got sensible cleaning products and a regular laundry routine. I’ve got a savings account, a perm office job, at least two real lady dresses and I use the phone on a semi regular basis now (still hate it though). I seem to be ticking a lot of the boxes on the “how to adult” guide sheet (including the one that says 25-34 age range which does sting slightly) and I’m still not really sure when it happened. It all feels very much like some kind of rabbit hole I’ve stumbled into by accident and have been tumbling through since the early 2000s. I’m moving forward with some control (though very little purpose) and so far have been seemingly to do somewhat passably. I mean, it’s not all going completely smoothly – I nearly had a mini breakdown the other day when I realised I had no idea how pensions worked, and had to watch all of the Pirates of the Caribbean films to calm myself (I live by the rule that if I all goes horribly wrong, I would make an excellent pirate as a last resort). And let’s face it, I still have the gangly limbs of a teenager, the flat chest of a child and the hair of Beaker from the Muppets, so I wouldn’t say I’m quite there yet but there’s this secret longing for posh cream tiled kitchens and regular skin care routines that I don’t remember having 6 years ago.

I have always been rather antiquated at heart – old films, sturdy knitwear and Sunday nights in with ITV3 crime dramas are definitely preferential to skimpy outfits, drinking holidays to the coast of Spain and “dick pics”.  But perhaps in my old age, I’m developing a previously unknown level of maturity… Though considering my reaction to the below Valentine’s picture and caption sent from TMM to our WhatsApp group, maybe not…

noods

“I believe Valentine’s convention among the youth now comes with the understanding that one sends ‘noods’ to their sweethearts. So here you go team, happy Valentine’s Day.”

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As the old adage says – This Too Shall Pass

I’m falling horribly behind on my blogs recently, I need to pull my socks up. With work being so busy, I mainly get home and lie face down on the floor whimpering quietly, which is putting a massive damper on my creativity.

I did actually write one (admittedly, it was more of a bloglet) for last week with all the joys of my holibobs, but I ended up completely forgetting about posting it. Still, I don’t want you to miss out too much, so please enjoy some highlights from it. I feel all the salient points are there – the rest of the time I was just generally bumbling and enjoying the good old country lifestyle.

Good bits included:

  • An early morning (read – 11am) high speed car chase when we realised TMM, who had to go back to work for a few days after the first week, had forgotten his bag. Mother and I threw ourselves into the car half-dressed, wild haired and with only 1 cup of tea under our belts and hared madly down country roads after him. Thankfully we caught up with him before he crossed the boarder into England and managed to do a hostage exchange in the car park of a petrol station. We did then have to go home and have a sit down to recover #hardcore.
  • A week of pleasant bumbling around and imbibing truly staggering amounts of tea, homemade mackerel pate and being in bed for 7pm. Due to the flooding (and the fact that I’m nesh) the house can be rather perishing, we made the executive decision to retire to the big bed with the cats and just watch Film 4 pretty much every night. We looked a bit like the grandparents from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but the cats were most pleased with the turn of events (especially when they’ve been allowed to share the pate).
  • Having to leap out of bed at the drop of a power tool when Bas the builder (and changeable crew) turned up to build up the flood fortifications. It’s starting to look a little like the scene from Lord of the Rings when the Ents go around trashing Sauroman’s patch, but Bas have great plans for how it will look (Mother’s basically given him free reign).
  • Taking Mother to pick out her first real smart phone since the trusty Nokia 3310 (original model) has finally given up the ghost. By the time we left, she was picking out background themes with gay abandon and I’ve received topical gifs daily (which has brought much joy to my life).

 bobby

Bob-Cat, enjoying the gourmet Mackerel Pate straight from Mother’s toast.

Overall, it was a lovely week (as it always is) and I did my usual thing of holding it together very well until the last minute and then clinging desperately to my mother and crying like a child. It’s clear that we very much twinnies and I think we forget sometimes how much so. Over Christmas, Mother made the rather astute observation that I might actually be her Daemon (please refer to Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights Trilogy). We basically think the same person, shouldn’t really be allowed to do things on our own and get very distraught when separated. With my Father (whom I obviously  love dearly – even when he’s a boob) we do better with a little distance. Whenever we go and visit, he has to chuck us out after about 6 hours so we don’t kill each other. Conversely, I am 100% sure that I could move into Mother’s spare room and we’d all be dandy.

Coming back though has made me realise that I’m feeling static again. There’s always a slight undercurrent of dissatisfaction whenever I leave the un-stressful and undemanding environment of that little cottage. The attitude of just waking up, going about your business and living for yourself (rather than in the cycle of eat, sleep, work repeat) gets under my skin delightfully, but makes coming back to my world a little harder every time. The time of year probably doesn’t help (as much as I try to ignore the idea of the New Year being a specific cut off)and with the dark days, cold weather and grey skies everything seems a little less hopeful. Any grand dreams seem that little bit further away and it’s easier to find ways to rip apart any plans rather than build them up.

I’ve heard some people say that social media can have a huge affect on mood and productivity too, and I understand why some people choose to leave a particular platform and cut out any “toxic posts”. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed catching up with other people’s lives, keeping in contact with folk I necessarily wouldn’t and being able to share things in my life with far flung family and friends. I like seeing other people forging forward and succeeding and I love the ideas and inspiration they give me but at the moment I can understand the stigma. Where things usually make me feel good and proactive, they now just seem to be drawing attention to how fixed I feel.

I think the majority of the problem springs from the fact I don’t actually know what I’m searching for. I’m not looking to raise a family and I’m not particularly interested in becoming a team leader or manager at work. I have a wonderful fiancé and a very nice house and by rights have nothing to desperately lust over. Still I  can’t help feeling like I’m stuck in a rut. There’s a sort of personal frustration in the way that I feel I need to be doing something – working towards some kind of overarching goal, yet I don’t know what it is. Is this just the human condition? Are we destined to constantly aim to achieve and yet never able to identify why? Am I yet another confused cog in the grinding philosophical conundrum of humanity?

To be honest, I think I’m probably just feeling down at the moment. I’m too lazy to be a philosopher and not motivated or intelligent enough to strive for some unknown greatness. I know I don’t want to be stinkingly rich or world famous, and I am lucky where I am right now.

Perhaps, as TMM suggests, non-dramatic life goals are the way forward. He reminds me that we’re hoping to make a little bucket garden over the next few months; something to furnish us with fresh fruits and veg and provide a smidgeon of green in these dark days. We’re going to try and improve out fitness levels and go adventuring all over National Trust properties – “head out to the countryside where we feel most at home”, and we do have a wedding to plan in the long term – something low budget with “oodles of character”.

So, from now on, I’m going to try and spend time focusing on the small victories rather than the big holes, and find peace in the things that I know. My hair will always be bright, there will always be books to read and the stars will always shine.

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

fire

Is it wrong just to want to be able to sit by the fire and read all day?

Welcome to 2018 – In with the old, in with the new and in with all the bits in between

What Ho Readers!

How are we all after the festive season? Stuffed full of good food and good cheer? Overjoyed at the gift haul? Back in work with pained grimace and gloomy face? I woke up this morning to a rather dramatic nose bleed (I think it was my brain rebelling at the pressure of having to be a real person again rather than a Christmas blob) and spent a good ten minutes wailing quietly into my pillow.

To be honest though, work itself hasn’t been that bad (not great, but it could have been worse I suppose), but having to wake up and leave my duvet nest before 10am has been absolutely hellish. It’s been absolutely and most unnecessarily pitch blank both in the morning and when I’ve left work and I am just Not About It. By the time I’ve actually built up any energy, it’s about 11am and when 5.30pm rolls around, I’ve lost it all again. Home time mainly results in me getting in, immediately changing into pyjamas and then sulkily doing a jigsaw until bed time. Any hope of doing anything vaguely constructive or helpful has been swiftly denied and if I’m honest you’re lucky your getting a blog post this week. (Gosh, what a little ray of sunshine I am). Anyway, to this end I have made the  business savvy and hopefully conducive decision to move my regular blog day to Thursday. This will hopefully give me more time to actually write and prepare each update and will give you all something to look forward to before the weekend. Bear with me though, and we’ll see how it goes…

In other and far less depressingly morose news, I am glad to let you all know that Christmas was a roaring success, even with a couple hiccups during the build up. The best (or possibly worst) issue we had was when, during the Great Wrap of 2017, gravy was accidentally spilt onto a beautiful hardback copy of a book we’d bought for my sister’s partner. After much hysteria, gravy dabbing and a narrowly avoided hissy fit (not me for once), we ordered a replacement. This would have been the end of it, but after a few days the new book turned up with a big sticky black mark on the front of it. Obviously I was not okay with this (cue my narrowly avoided hissy fit) and I wrote a sternly worded complaint email (inclusive of pictures because I am nothing if not thorough). There was a bit of back and forth – I didn’t get the vouchers I was angling for, and we finally agreed a new (un-besmirched) copy would be sent directly to the gift receiver. Imagine then my surprise when a day before Christmas a third copy unexpectedly turned up on my doorstep. Poor Jo from Blackwells Customer Service Department was as confused as I was and who knows if yet a forth copy is winding it’s way through the postal system even now. Still, we managed to get the clean copy to wear it needed to be on time and we do now have two spare/slightly sullied copies of the book for our own personal use. If anybody fancies a copy – do let me know.

Apart from that fun little interlude (and the one evening I spent in floods of tears, covered in cello tape and had to be sent to clean the bathroom in disgrace), everything went swimmingly and TMM and I ended up with an almost repulsive amount of presents. TMM even managed to keep nearly all of my presents a surprise (something he has previously been incapable of doing) and went far beyond the self imposed limit we’d given each other. Still, I’ll let him off because he also prepared a truly scrumptious Christmas dinner and has generally been rather fabulous for the whole period. (Admittedly, he was in bad books on Monday night after he burst in on me in the shower and sprayed a bottle of Cava everywhere like a nutter – I nearly died trying to get away without slipping all over the place, but I grudgingly forgave him before bedtime).

 Here’s just a little sample of our presents…Prepare for mention of the others in upcoming instalments

My Mother came up and spent a few days with us too over the holidays and was generally the best house guest we could have asked for. She came with us to visit TMM’s family on Christmas Eve (where she once again proved herself to be the best of all Baby Whisperers), took me on a road trip to see my dad/sister and respective partners, helped me clean the kitchen on the day after Boxing Day. She also spent a good twenty minutes helping me try and catch a vole that Bucky had thoughtfully brought in for us (cleverly named Malvoleio) which was fun for all. She was, in fact, so well behaved that we have deigned to grace her with our presence at her house next week as a reward. Hopefully a week without us will have given her time to recover and she’ll be willing to welcome us with open arms when we rock up at the weekend…

We also kept up the excellent tradition that we started last year of playing Cards Against Humanity with the family. There will still never be a greater pleasure in my life than seeing my Neens say “cheeky bum sex”. We involved my mother this time as well, which went much better than expected. She took to it like a duck to water and I don’t know whether this makes me proud or concerned. Either way, she’s started using it as a weapon against me; there was one particular card that caused much hysteria in the under 30’s but left everyone else looking at each other blankly, and she now likes to whisper it at inopportune moments, safe in the knowledge that she doesn’t know what it means but that it will inevitably cause me to spit out whatever I’m currently drinking. It definitely helped us clear out chests though and I don’t think I was the only one who woke up with rib ache from laughing too hard.

Pepe

Pepe the Cat sits disapprovingly in the pile of burnt cards. This was before he went and sat in the oven, which is a great new pastime of his.

Family once again went above and beyond on the present front and I am now the proud owner of a projector, a raccoon picture (the cutest of all things), a Slytherin sports bra, a microscopic camera (literally all of the close up pictures), a super snuggly blanket and a literal shit ton of other things (too numerous to list but all AMAZING). Two of the best presents we got were books (surprise surprise), including Dawn French’s DIY diary (which I have started with great enthusiasm) and The Almanac by Lia Leendertz; a gorgeous compendium of facts, ideas and seasonal suggestions for the coming year. This month we’re on the lookout for Redwings and TMM is going to get some seed potatoes to plant. It also suggested buying some blood oranges and making marmalade which we bastardised into making orange vodka (sue us) so we’re already feeling quite chipper about our progress.

However, do not take this as a sign that we have gone in for this “New Year, New Me” crap. Remember what we spoke about this time last year, class? January is not the time to be starting this resolation-ary bullsh*t. It’s dark, cold, depressing and I would much rather spend my time wallowing in my left over Christmas chocolate. Any resolutions I do choose to make will come into fruition some time around May when it’s sunnier and I’m able to take criticism and self judgement a little better. Still, I’m will not be too much of a Debbie Downer on any you who are foolhardy enough to start the New Year with serious life changes. If you are ready to start dieting after the Christmas Binge, have dreams of brand new shiny gym memberships or just fancy trying something a bit different, I wish you all the luck in the world from my sulky winter nest.

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).

A Curious Case of Spontaneous Inflation

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 Tricks That Might Just Save Your Life

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

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

  1. Use your Head

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you guess which one is me?

    4. Learn some pressure points.

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

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

     5. Home invasion? Head for the kitchen.

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

6. Toss your wallet

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

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

Fart.

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

8. Don’t be afraid to yell.

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

9. Know how to escape zip ties.

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

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

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

11. Wear dual purpose jewellery.

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

ring22

Come on now, this is just silly.

    12. Take a self-defence course.

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

13. Let your hair down.

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

14. Kick the knees to get away.

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

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I mean, good lord how FUN does this look?

    15. Pull on your attackers ear.

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

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

~

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

 

Less of a Do-er, More of a Don’t-er

Well hello there dearest readers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rivers

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