Monday, 28 December 2009

This was supposed to be a post about Christmas...

I had so many plans.

Plans to tell you all about Christmas through the medium of photos and words.

But I have been stopped in my tracks by this rather marvellous bug.


I feel I am now back on track. My system has been cleared out (both literally and figuratively) and I am feeling a little more myself.

Which is good, because folks, The Countdown is officially O.V.E.R.

That's right. My friends are on their way over from America to this fair Isle. And I will be seeing them very soon for the first time in over a year and a half.

It's all very exciting.

There's a chance they'll be a little delayed thanks to the numpty who decided to try and blow himself up on a plane over Christmas (does anyone else not watch the news over Christmas? It's bad I know but I must confess I hardly ever do, so was a little shocked when I finally got around to watching it yesterday). But even the delays can't dampen my spirits.

So I am off. We go to London early tomorrow morning and won't be returning until January 1st which means that I have to take this opportunity now to wish you


And I will be back, hopefully on the 2nd January with a bit of a delayed Christmas post and to tell you about the shenanigans we get up to down in London Town.

I hope you'll bear with me while I get myself caught up on all your blogs, I've a feeling I'm going to have a lot of reading to do when I get back. But read them all I will and you will get comments a-plenty from me.

But I will leave you with one photo from this Christmas. Of someone who definitely enjoyed their Christmas. And who may, or may not, be a little bit high on catnip, as you might be able to guess from the rather glassy look in their eyes....

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas 2009: A quick review

3.30am: Wake up. Realise it's way too early to wake up the boyfriend and open presents. Wonder when exactly I'm going to grow up and stop behaving like a 5 year old.

4.45am: Still too early.

7.30am: Kind of too early but maybe if I stare really hard at the boyfriend's face he might wake up...

8.00am: HE'S AWAKE!!

8.30am: Open presents, get very over-excited. Make scrambled eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast. Feels a bit weird because this is the first Christmas I've not been with my Mum on Christmas morning. And the first time I've ever been with a boyfriend on Christmas morning. But the boyfriend does a pretty good job at making up for any weirdness.

11am: Get to Mum's for Christmas Dinner Number 1. Fred being a complete wuss for some reason and decides to spend the whole time hiding under Mum's bed upstairs, instead of enjoying things downstairs with us.

11.30am: Manage to coax Fred out from under the bed with his present, some catnip drops, he stretches his neck out as far as he dare and eats them before retreating back to his lair.

11.35am: Lily laps up all the attention and plays with all toys and winds herself around everyone's legs in appreciation.

1.30am: Food time!! Take it easy, remembering that I have to do this all again in a few hours time.

3.30pm: Off to the boyfriend's parent's house for Christmas Dinner Number 2. Crazy amount of pressies to open, they are ridiculously generous. But I love it.

6.00pm: Littlest person at the house suddenly throws up all over her lovely Christmas dress. It's put down to excitement and she's put to bed.

6.30pm: Ding ding! Round 2. Time to eat again. Manage to put in a pretty decent effort, have a tiny bit of everything, 1 sprout, 1 roast potato, 2 carrots etc etc and manage to get everything down. SUCCESS.

8.00pm: Littlest person throws up again, maybe it isn't excitement?

8.15pm: I ask if anyone would mind if I get in to my pyjama bottoms. I might have managed to eat all the food but an elasticated waistband is now called for.

10.30pm: Everyone's still sat around the table talking but I call it a night. The day has finally caught up with me.

4.30am: Suddenly wake up. Think to myself "Something is definitely not right here. Your Christmas dinner is about to make a reappearance out of one end or the other."

5.00am: Christmas dinner reappears.

6.00am: Christmas dinner continues to reappear.

9.00am: Still appearing....

10.30am: Get back to the flat, get in to pyjamas, lie on sofa and spend all of Boxing Day sleeping and watching rubbish tv.

3.00pm: Muster up the energy to sit up and play a bit of Band Hero, one of my Christmas presents from the boyfriend (we already have Guitar Hero but I hardly know any of the songs, I need something I little more....poppy!)

4.00pm: Must be over excited from sitting up and strumming, take a turn for the worse and have a sleep for a couple of hours.

6.00pm: Manage a slice of pizza. Who knew? Good for hangovers and vomiting bugs!

9.30pm: Go to bed to sleep it all off and try to ignore my stomach which has cramped so many times today I must have abs like Peter Andre.

Despite all the vomiting it was a lovely Christmas and I'm very pleased that at least I managed to hold off getting sick until Boxing Day so I got to enjoy Christmas Day at least. And I wasn't the only person to catch it, littlest person's Dad also went down later on that day with it so I didn't feel like the only one with a rubbish immune system!

Now come on - tell me about yours!!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Eve

The presents are under the tree, waiting for me to open them.

The Lush products are in the bathroom, waiting to for me to whack them in the bath and have a wallow.

The new pyjamas are out on the bed, waiting for me to clamber in to.

And there's a mince pie with my name on it.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, hope you all have a lovely time.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

'Twas the night before the night before Christmas...

...And all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Except that there seemed to be a lot of activity going on in the kitchen...

It feels as though I haven’t been more than 10 feet from the cooker in the past couple of days. I’ve been overcome by the need to bake.

You see the thing is I quite enjoy the making bit (kitchen disasters and mess aside) and the feeling that you’ve produced something but then I’m never that fussed about eating any of the produce.

I’m a savoury girl and my heart lies in a packet of crisps. Cakes and buns and muffins I can take or leave.
However, the rest of my work colleagues are most definitely in the ‘take’ category and I was ordered to produce sweet things for the little Christmas Eve party we’re going to have tomorrow at lunchtime. I had a recipe for Christmas morning muffins that I got from who knows where. On the internet somewhere is all I can tell you. I thought these would be lovely and festive with cinnamon and nutmeg and cranberries and orange zest all thrown in there.

“They sound nice,” said my colleagues. “but also you should make those Marshmallow ones again.”

“But they’re not really festive” I said
“MAKE THEM” came the reply.

So the electric whisk and my crummy scales have never been busier. I have obeyed my orders and made more marshmallow cupcakes. Only 6 though, they are quite frankly the most fiddly buggers I’ve ever made and I don’t enjoy gluing my fingers together with melted marshmallow – they can fight over them between themselves. But I also made the Christmas morning muffins because I wanted to make those.

Then I had to make some more Mincemeat cake. I made this at the beginning of the year with an old jar of leftover mincemeat when I’d just started getting in to baking. It didn’t quite come out like Maria’s seemed to but it was very tasty. I made some at the weekend and it was an unexpected hit with the boyfriend and work people snaffling most of it, leaving me with only 1 slice to savour. This cake is so good with a cup of tea and I’m looking forward to indulging tomorrow afternoon when I finally get to leave work and come home for Christmas.

Then my rooting around in the cupboards unearthed my Christmas tree cookie cutter. How had I forgotten about him?! Clearly I had to use him so out came the books again as I searched for a quick cookie recipe. The Hummingbird Bakery book obliged me and I set about covering the kitchen in a thin film of flour. And then came the fun bit – the decorating!!

And now it’s time for this little baking fairy to put away her muffin trays and her baking trays and her mixing bowls. She can clean the kitchen properly tomorrow afternoon, right now she can’t bear to face the devastation that she has wreaked in there. Or maybe, just maybe, the baking fairy’s boyfriend will clean it all up during the day seeing as he’s not in work. She just has to close her eyes and wish as hard as can be...

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Secret Santa

In the run up to Christmas there are 2 words that I dread hearing.

Secret. Santa.
I will break out in a sweat and look for somewhere to hide.

I hate it. Hate it hate it hate it.

Not the concept you understand, I get that. I just hate it.

(Did I mention I hate it?)

Here are a few reasons why:
- I will invariably end up with the most difficult person to buy for
- I will end up with the person I know the least about
- I will end up with someone I really don’t want to buy a present for
- I get in the biggest stress you will ever see when it comes to buying presents for people
- I have had 2 particularly rubbish Secret Santa experiences

I can get myself in what can only be described as a tizz when it comes to buying people presents. I think it’s just that I really want to get it right. I want to get them something that they really really want. But I also don’t want to have to sell a kidney to be able to afford to do it. And if I can’t think of anything that is really ‘them’ I just go into Defcon 1 panic mode.

You see what I really want to avoid is just getting that token gift. You know. The smellies (although having said that, if you want to get me something from Lush then please feel free to do so) or the random 3 for 2 gift from Boots. Although they’re alright gifts they’re just not very personal, know what I mean? (Unless the person has a penchant for mugs and cuddly cats. Which I do.) I would rather someone saved their money. Or more importantly I’d rather I saved my money. I would rather get something that I know they really wanted but it cost a bit more, than getting them the token gift.

Couple this way of mine with the fact that I never get the person I want and you do not get a pretty mix.

Then you had to add in to the mix the bad Secret Santa experiences which both occurred with the group of girls I’m friends with:
Secret Santa Experience Number 1 – We all picked out of hat. We set a £10 limit. I got the person I wanted, knew just what to get them. Sorted, bish bash bosh. Went to the meal to exchange gifts. Left the fricking present at home. I may as well have clubbed a baby seal, my poor secret santa person had to sit there while everyone got their presents, completely empty-handed, whilst I wanted to sink into the ground with embarrassment and shame.

Secret Santa Experience Number 2 – This one’s a classic, you’ll love it. We all picked out of a hat. We set a £10 limit. I didn’t get my ideal person but I had a sudden stroke of genius when I saw a hardback book by an author I know she liked. Full of smugness I turned up to the meal with the present this time. As we all opened our presents my person screams out “I ALREADY HAVE THIS BOOK!!”


Where you brought up or dragged up? Where I come from if someone gets you something you already have you don’t tell everyone. You smile and say thank you and think how funny that the person got you something that you really liked, you just liked it so much you’d already got it for yourself. What was I supposed to do with that comment?! Oh excuse me while I whip out my mobile bookshop and choose you something else. Cue feelings of misery and guilt that I’d ruined the Secret Santa experience by getting someone something they already had. As we were leaving I said to this person “Do you want me to exchange the book and get you something else or, you know, do you want the money?!” AS A JOKE.

Guess what?

She opted for the money and gave me the book. I stood there a little dumbfounded as the transaction took place. “Is this really happening?” I thought to myself. But happen it did and I went home £20 out and a book that I didn’t even want to read.

From that moment on I swore no Secret Santa.

And I thought I’d got away from it.


Stitch and Bitch ladies said “Let’s do Secret Santa!”

I tried to get out of it. I even explained how stressful I find buying presents and my bad experiences. But to no avail. I had to do Secret Santa.

We picked names out of a hat. We set a £10 limit and said we had to get each other something craft-related (meaning the Boots 3 for 2 was completely out of the equation should things get really tough).

And I got the person I wanted least.

The person who does the least crafting and comes along more for the bitchin’ than the stitchin’. If it had been anyone else I would have know what to get them. But not this person.

Cue Defcon 1.

I ended up in Hobbycraft, the night before the exchange, clutching at the boyfriend’s coat. “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO GET!” I said some what desperately before rampaging up and down the aisles like some kind of demented person.

In the end, on the verge of total meltdown, I made my decision. Some aida. A book of different cross stitch motifs because I knew if she did cross stitch she would rather make up the picture herself. And some pink felt hearts. For no other reason than I just liked them.

I was so demoralised I didn’t even care anymore. I went to that night’s Stitch and Bitch a broken woman.

But she loved them! And even if she didn’t she did a good job at hiding it and as long as I don’t have the guilt and the embarrassment and the shame feelings I consider it a Secret Santa well done.

What was that?

Oh what did I get?!

Well since you asked nicely.

I got a crochet hook and some balls of wool because 2010 is going to be the Year of the Crochet. 2009 was the Year of the Cross Stitch and I feel the need to spread my creative wings.

And I got this craft pad from Sublime Stitching with 75 iron-on transfers so I can get my embroidery groove on. I’ve been in love with this website for a while now so was incredibly pleased to get this present in particular. I’m now hunting around for things to embroider.

Do I still have a morbid fear of Secret Santa?

Hell to the yes.

But I could be persuaded to do it again?

Monday, 21 December 2009

All I want for Christmas is a staple gun.

Most people don't decide to commence on a project at 11pm on a Saturday night. But this Girl is not most people.

High on playing in the snow I came back in to the flat full of beans and in no mood to contemplate going to bed and sleeping.

So I decided that this was the perfect time to make my long-awaited noticeboard.

I wanted somewhere to stick those receipts and little bits of paper that you need to keep but end up getting thrown on a table somewhere, only to find themselves in that land known as the Place of Lost Things.

The boyfriend had a little piece of wood left over from his DIY bedside table extravaganza and a quick trip to Hobbycraft saw me coming home with some fabric and ribbon.

And then they all sat.

For a really long time.


Until I got around to borrowing a staple gun from the boyfriend's Mum.

SO you take a bit of wood, some fabric, some ribbon and some foam padding....

And a few near staples in the hand later, you have...



It's not a pinboard as such, more that things are going to get tucked in behind the ribbons. That's the theory anyway.

Now it's just going to sit for a bit longer before we get around to working out how to get it on the wall...

(PS I would like to extend my thanks to my excellent helper, The Boyfriend, who basically showed me what it was I was supposed to be doing and made sure that I kept the fabric taut and put the ribbons in the right place. And didn't even flinch when the gun got a little too close to his fingers.)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Tree Project - The Snow Edition

Remember how I said it didn't snow in Hull?

Well last night, while I was glued to Strictly Come Dancing (go Chris!!), it fell. It fell and fell and fell.

And I looked outside the window and saw that Mr Tree had a lovely coat of snow. I immediately raced outside, camera in hand, to capture the moment.

"It'll still be there in the morning" the boyfriend said.

"Yeah but....what if it isn't? know....I want to play in the snow." was the reply.

So I went down to capture his snowy moment.

I think he looked rather beautiful don't you?

And after having a little stomp in the snow and building a miniature snowman, I came back inside to warm myself up and do a little project (I'll tell you about that tomorrow).

This morning I woke up and wasn't happy with what I saw.

A blue sky.

I felt like I was living out The Snowman when the little boy wakes up and the sun is shining in his eyes and he goes running out to see the snowman melted. I went running downstairs, camera in hand, still in my pjs to see if Mr Tree was still snow covered....
He wasn't.
The snow was melting off his red berries.

(And my snowman had gone but I feel this was less to do with melting and more to do with living next door to a nightclub - I feel the temptation was too great for some drunken revellers.)

Friday, 18 December 2009

When compromise goes bad

When the boyfriend and I moved in together there was one thing preying on my mind. What was going to happen come Christmas? (Actually there were two things preying on my mind but the other one was to do with toilet habits so I won’t go into that one. Yet.)

You see in the past I’ve had boyfriends at Christmas but most of them have lived in different cities (the annoyance of getting with someone when you’re at university) so it was never really an issue, I would stay with my Mum and they would stay with their family and we’d meet up on Boxing Day or the day after or whatever.

And even last year when we were together and both living in the same city and I started to worry about it a bit, everything was sorted because Mum and I went to my sister’s house for Christmas and the boyfriend stayed home.

Christmas has been playing on my mind for a long while. Who would we go to? Should we have people here? (A notion quickly ruled out when I realised that my stress levels could in no way handle people over for my very first Christmas, making 6 cupcakes causes enough mess never mind a turkey.) Should we stay in the flat by ourselves? Should we go to one family one day and the other on Boxing Day? And if so which family would we go to on which day? The possibilities were endless and maths was never my strong point.

Coupled in to this mix is the fact that both the boyfriend and I are wusses when it comes to our mothers. Actually I’ll rephrase that. The boyfriend is a wuss when it comes to his mother, he just can’t say no to her! I am a little bit of a wuss but I also feel my situation is slightly different, my Mum is on her own whereas the boyfriend’s Mum has husband and daughter living with her and another daughter just down the road.

In the end we hit on the perfect compromise. We would open our presents to each other in the flat in the morning (very exciting and also strange, I’ve never had Christmas Day without my Mum before, who will tell me what to do?!), head over to my Mum’s mid-morning/early afternoon and spend some time with her and her friend, who’s staying with her over Christmas, and then head late-afternoon to the boyfriend’s family and stay there the night so the boyfriend can engage in some Christmas tipples.

Perfect. I really believe we were quite smug about the whole thing. We got time with just each other and would be spending time with both families on Christmas Day, everyone’s a winner.


We didn’t think about the Christmas Dinner factor.

Turns out that Mum plans to eat about 1pm and the boyfriend’s family won’t be eating until about 6pm.

That’s right.

This Christmas Day the boyfriend and I will be eating TWO Christmas dinners.

(I’ve been having repeats of the Vicar of Dibley running round in my head ever since)

Whenever I think about it I can actually feel my stomach filling up. I mean I can eat like the best of them and sometimes I wonder if the food is just falling out of the back of my head, rather than going to my stomach because I never seem to be full, but two Christmas dinners? Two?!

You see? No good can come out of compromising.

But also.

No good can come out of potentially offending two Celtic mothers.

Spare me and my stomach a thought on Christmas Day won’t you?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Tree Project - December edition

Oh my GOODNESS it's COLD!!

It was so cold today that on my way home at lunchtime it hailed on me. Actually no. It hailed at me. In my face. It was like it was a hail attack aimed directly at me. I'm pretty sure it's left bruises.

Everywhere else gets snow but Hull is too flat for snow. You know the weather's really bad when it snows in Hull. We are flat. Flat, flat, flat. People don't get just how flat we are. But I'm telling's flat. So flat that, having grown up here I now struggle enormously with the slightest incline, I get out of breath walking up my sister's drive.

I still wish though. I wish it would snow. And as I was looking out of the window, wishing for the flakes to fall (not the balls of ice that tried to stab me earlier on), I realised something.

I'm late with Tree Project!

I know. I don't know how you've all been coping without it.

Ready to see him?

Okay then....
He. is. bare. naked. Not a leaf on him. There are a few berries still left on him. They're hardcore those berries. Nothing's going to knock them off, not the wind, not the hail. Even if I stare at them really hard. They just....stay there.

So there's not a stitch on him from the top of his head... the bottomest of his branches.

And I feel a little sorry for him. But I told him, on my way past today, that soon it will be a New Year and that means a fresh start, and things will start a-changing...

See you in the New Year Mr Tree!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

An Open Letter to BA Cabin Crew

Dear B.A. Cabin Crew

I read about your upcoming 12-day strike action beginning on the 22nd December with some concern.

You see I don't know if you know but I have some friends coming over from America on the 29th December (that's in 14 days by the way). I haven't seen these friends for some time. Since April 2008 to be precise. And you may not realise this, but Arizona is a very long way away from Hull and I, a mere mortal, do not get to fly to America an awful lot. Unlike some cabin crew.

We are all supposed to drinking in 2010 together in London and everything is sorted. Train tickets are booked, places to stay have been arranged, hotels booked, Eurostar tickets to Paris organised.

Not to mention the almost indecent excitement that I've been feeling for a few months now as I count down the days.

I've been so looking forward to it, I don't think I can really convey how much. Do you have a best friend? Do they live a billion miles away from you so you can only communicate by e-mail (and Facebook obviously)? Do you know how much you would look forward to actually SEEING THEIR FACE if you hadn't seen it in over 18 months?

I understand that you are striking at this time to cause maximum inconvenience in an attempt to get what you want but I don't think you quite get it. You're not just going to cause a little bit of inconvenience, you are going to ruin, actually ruin, peoples' Christmas and New Year. Have you really taken that onboard and are ok with it? Because I find it a little hard to believe that people would actually behave like that.

I hope that if you do go ahead with the strike and you do keep friends and families apart over the festive season then I hope that someone videotapes all the people with a story to tell and then makes you sit and watch them so you can see the consequences of your actions.

Oh and did you realise that by striking and pissing people off you'll probably just end up losing your jobs because people will not wish to fly with your airilne. And also, you know you're not going to get what you want, strikes never end up with you getting what you want, you must know that by now.

I know I won't be flying with B.A. if you keep my friends away from me.

Yours sincerely,

The Girl

(Apologies for my little absence, I will be catching up with everybody's blogs over the next couple of days)

Friday, 11 December 2009

Marshmallow Cupcakes

Well it's happened again.
I'm sick.


The Cough has returned.

This time last year I got a cough. Which was weird because I never get coughs. And it got worse and worse and I ended up with antibiotics for a chest infection.

The thing is. It's never really gone away. It's got better and I've been ok in myself but if I've cleared my throat it sounds as if I'm a 60 a day smoker with less than a month to live. And occasionally, every time I get a little cold it pops its ugly, mucusy, phlegmy head up again.

So he's arrived back again, out of the blue with not a word of warning which is rather rude in my books.

And I'm sick of him. Him and his horrid ways.

And I sound like a man.

I have antibiotics and Mr Doctor Man has got me booked in for chest x-ray next week to see if we can figure out where he's hiding.

It's left me feeling rather miserable with myself. I'm supposed to be going out tomorrow with the girls for our Christmas night out and at the moment my appearance is looking doubtful and there's nothing like the prospect of missing a night out to put me in a FOUL mood.


To make myself feel better I got my kitchen groove on and made some rather hideously girly cupcakes with marshmallows and pink glitter on them. That's right. Pink. Glitter.
These babies are from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook and they are marvellous although fiddly to the max. Remember me saying how I hate mess in the kitchen when I'm baking? I probably should have figured it out, I mean I had to melt marshmallows, hollow out the middle of the muffins and spoon it in. What was I thinking?!

There was marshmallow all over the spoon. There was marshmallow on the hob. There was marshmallow on the tea towel. There was marshmallow on my fingers. When the boyfriend came home he pointed out the marshmallow in my hair.

But MAN they taste good!

I would recommend this book to everyone. The recipes are mega easy (marshmallow meltiness aside) and they just take a little bit more effort than your bog standard cupcake and they look amazing. I mean hello? Marshmallows? Pink glitter? Can you go wrong?


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Something crafty this way comes...

Reading everybody's blogs has left me feeling rather inadequate about my paltry efforts to the Creative and Crafty Chrismas God.

I've been thinking I was a bit of a crafty person. But it turns out that I'm just crafty in comparison to the people that I'm friends with. Once I turn to the blogs it turns out I'm lower down the ranks of craftiness. Actually I'm probably at the bottom.

But I must be patient and accept that these things take time. 2009 was the year of the cross stitch. Now I have that mastered that, 2010 will be the time to turn my hand to other crafts. Crochet, knitting, sewing - they're all on the list!

So my creative efforts this year are pretty much solely based around aida and thread. The Christmas cards have been cross-stitched and are ready to be sent out. There is a tier system operating with my Christmas cards this year - family and very close friends will receive the honour of a cross-stitched card through their letterboxes. The next tier will receive Christmas tree cards as blogged about in this post and the credit to which goes entirely to Petit Filoux. The final tier of people (mainly consisting of people I work with and those people who give me cards unexpectedly) will be receiving some shop bought ones.

The cross stitch has also extended to tags for people's presents. There was an alphabet included in the latest issue of Cross Stitch Card Shop and I have been furiously stitching away in an attempt to get them all finished in time for Christmas Day and the last posting date.

They're not too fiddly and only take a couple of hours to do so that's been about 1 a night which doesn't sound too bad until you realise how many Christmas presents you have. The decision was made very early on that no matter how many presents someone was getting, they would only be receiving one tag with their initial on it.

Last night Christmas came to the flat as I sat there and began the wrapping process. I love it. I absolutely bloody love wrapping presents. Normally there's lots of string and bows and fancy stuff which people do seem to like when they see the present but is closely followed by complaints that they can't actually get in to their presents. I figure if they have a special tag then I'm allowed to miss out the streamers.

Oh my goodness. It's actually nearly here...

PS Do you love the sprout wrapping paper? Like really love it? Well tough you can't have it. God alright alright you can, you just need to go to Urban Outfitters. It's £2.50 a sheet so I wouldn't make plans to wrap all your presents in it but it's great for little stocking filler type pressies.

PPS The rest of the wrapping paper is from Paperchase.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Things I love about the house - Part 7

Presenting to you all

MY CHRISTMAS TREEEEEEEEEE!!!! a.k.a. The Beautiful Beast.
We went out this weekend to get our Christmas tree, which was making me rather excited because this is the first Christmas tree I've ever had that's mine, all mine. At uni we never bothered because we were all going home over the holidays and I've lived at home every other Christmas.

When I was growing up we always had a gorgeous tree which my Mum would decorate beautifully but she was rather onerous of it and I somehow never put the right bauble in the right place.

Well no more! I will put what baubles wherever I wish on this bad boy!

We had a little look around and soon came to a conclusion. We could either get one that was about 5.5 feet or we could get a humongous one that towered even above the boyfriend.

Luckily we have the great pleasure of living in a flat that was a very old house so has ceilings way way way way up in the sky.

Decision made. No snivelly little tree for us thank you very much.
And The Beautiful Beast came home.
One downside about this being my first Christmas is's my first Christmas. I have nothing. Not even a bit of tinsel to my name.

Correction. I had nothing.

The past few months have seen a rather scary sum of money being spent on Christmas tree decorations, including £35 on Past Times which nearly made me choke on my tongue (I wasn't keeping track! I was just putting stuff in the basket!) I have got some cheapazoid ones and I know that as time goes on we will accumulate more, but I didn't want a bare tree.
And yes I know I could make some decorations and I will do, one day. But I can barely find the time to make my Christmas cards so those kind of things are going to have to wait for Christmas 2010!
My fears about my Paperchase buys colliding with my more traditional decorations has been unfounded. I'm thinking they all look pretty good (although I guess I am biased).

Only thing missing? No star or angel! I forgot about that one essential!! So for now, Beautiful Beast has no crowning glory but I don't think he's holding it against me.

He fits in a little corner perfectly and I like that he's by the window because then, when his lights are turned on, people driving home in the miserable weather might just look up and see him and he'll make them smile a little bit.

Decorating the tree with the boyfriend made me a very happy person indeed, even if he did keep putting baubles in the wrong place. (Naturally it's completely different to when my Mum used to complain that I was putting them in the wrong place.) But he was very handy for putting baubles at the very top of the tree, even if he had to stand on his tippy toes to do it.

Now I'm going to sit and admire him in all his beautifulness.

And then get the hoover out for approximately the 14 millionth time because I swear to God if he doesn't. stop. shedding. help me

PS The birdie, cat and Union Jack baubles are all from Past Times and the little lady with the teddy bear was from a little shop in Ashby de la Zouch when I went to see my sister.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The Secret Blog

Once upon a time a girl had a blog. In fact it was one of those MSN Spaces – remember them?

At first she didn’t really understand what blogging was all about but she was a student and anything that provided a distraction from the serious business of getting a MSc was welcomed.

She didn’t know what to blog about so it was just about random things. So random that she can’t really remember what it was all about. But she made some bloggy friends and discovered a rather marvellous feeling known as “Comment Glow”. She would log on and see that someone had commented and it was good.

But MSN Spaces was not very private and the girl was not very smart and internet savvy. She made the mistake of mentioning the name of the place she worked in a post one day. What the girl didn’t know is that one of her bosses had a gadgety gizmo piece of internet wizardry which highlighted things on the internet that mentioned the company’s name and he found the girl’s blog. But rather than tell her that he’d found the blog, he would creepily read it and then casually mention things that were in the blog in conversation with the girl. It took her a while to cotton on but when she did she felt a little queasy.

So she made it private. But that was rubbish. She quite liked her musings being open to the world but not if people actually knew they were her musings.

Blog number one – closed down.

Then she found somewhere else and started blogging again.

Anything and everything went in there – posts about cats, annoyances about work (being careful to leave out company name references), general musings about life. She had learned her lesson though and it was anonymous. No names, no faces, just that she was a girl and was from Hull. But no-one ever really read it and sometimes she wondered why on earth she was bothering.

The girl’s boyfriend asked if he could read the blog. “Of course” she said “but I should warn you that sometimes I’ll put stuff up on there about us.” Nothing terrible, but if he’d annoyed her a little rant might appear from time to time. “That’s fine” said the boyfriend.

But then she kind of regretted her decision. Because once she knew he was reading it, it automatically altered the way she wrote and the things she wanted to write about. Even though it was anonymous and no-one would know who she was talking about, she just felt a little uncomfortable.

And then the comments started.

They’d only appear on comments that concerned the boyfriend and they were ‘anonymous’ but I was pretty sure who was behind them.

Not the boyfriend, but the woman who wanted him.

He had ‘shared’ my blog with this person and they didn’t have the guts to put their name on their comments.

And in the end, the other woman won.

So the girl used the blog to talk about the breakup. It was the first time she had had her heart broken and her friends weren’t as great as they could have been. Being the only single girl in a group of very coupley couples was tough. She needed an outlet.

So the pain and the hurt came out.

But the comments continued.

And then the e-mails came from the now ex-boyfriend saying that the girl was publicly humiliating him.
a) She wasn’t, she was recounting how he broke her heart,
b) how many times do you have to explain what ‘anonymous’ means, he was the only one who knew it was him, and,
c) why on earth were they sat together reading the blog of his ex-girlfriend?

It made the girl feel horrible inside. The thought that they were sitting there, reading about her life. She didn’t want them to know anything about her life.

Blog number two – closed down.

But the girl missed blogging. She was too lazy to write a real-life diary for a start, typing was much easier. But more than that she missed the idea of writing something which was then ‘out there’ in the blogosphere. Any maybe, one day, someone might read it and think “I know what she’s talking about.”

And she had a fairly momentous occasion coming up. She was moving in with a boy for the first time. If ever there was a time when someone needed an outlet of some description, this was it.

She told her new boyfriend she was starting a blog and said that she wanted to keep it private from him and she explained why and asked him if he minded.

And he didn’t because he was marvellous and wonderful and understanding (and had lovely eyes. But that might be irrelevant.).

So she started blogging about living with a boy. Except sometimes there wasn’t that much to blog about living with a boy because it actually went far smoother than she could ever have imagined. So it started being about other things. Like cats. And trees.

And at the beginning she wondered why she was bothering again. No-one ever came and visited.

And then one person did.

And then the girl realised she’d been doing it all wrong. Sometimes she can be a little selfish (she blames this on being the youngest child and sort of an only child because her siblings were much older than her, it’s probably not the best of combinations) and she was also an idiot. You can’t just expect people to read your blog can you? You have to invest, you have to put the time in (perhaps a little too much time) and start looking about for other peoples’ blogs and commenting on them and introducing yourself. You can’t just stand in the corner of a party and expect everyone to come over and talk to you.

Very slowly the girl found more bloggy friends and would get very excited if she ever got a ‘follower’ and would tell the boyfriend “ARGH! Someone likes me!” And the boyfriend would smile and say “That’s brilliant honey.” Probably thinking inside, “This girlfriend of mine has mental problems.”

She soon found herself immersed in the lives of total strangers and wanting to share more of her life with people she had never met. And sometimes she would tell the boyfriend what she was writing about and sometimes she would even show him certain posts (usually those concerning the visitors), but would be very careful to keep everything about the blog hidden so he couldn’t find it.

And it’s not because she doesn’t trust him. It’s because she likes having something that’s all her own.

Also if she wants to blog about how it annoys her that he doesn’t clean properly, she doesn’t want him to read it and take it heart because he’s nice like that and it’s only for fun. To be honest if he really wanted to find it I'm sure he could and if he does then that's fine, I just don't need to know that he knows about it.

Sometimes she thinks she should reveal herself and whack a photo up there. After all, her bloggy friends still wouldn’t know who she was, she’d just be a face instead of a picture of a sunrise.

But she’s still a little bit afraid. Maybe in time she’ll grow in confidence and have more courage to put a face to the words.

But for now let’s hope that the third blog’s a charm.

(And to those of you that read my wafflings, thank you so much. Thank you for being interested in my life and allowing me to hear about yours. I still get the “Comment Glow” whenever I check my e-mails and see that one of you has responded to a post of mine, and you do all feel like friends, although I feel a little silly saying that.)

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Annual Christmas Manchester Trip 2009

This weekend I made my way to a rather soggy Manchester for my annual Christmas pilgrimage. I go to Manchester a fair bit anyway but it is written down (somewhere) that I must go at the end of November/beginning of December to make the most out of the superior shopping experience that the city centre holds.

Many many items were purchased this weekend, some final Christmas presents (hurray for nearly being finished buying everything!) and also some little treats for me. I tend not to buy a lot of clothes and stuff during the year, only when something breaks or wears out do I venture in to the shops. Instead I save it all up and have a mini splurge on my Christmas Manchester Trip.

For example: these little lovelies from Next.

(Tina Teaspoon couldn't help but get her face in the photo)

I have been in love with these shoes for many months now after spotting them in Mum’s catalogue and then seeing them paraded in all their glory on the TV adverts. And now they are mine, ALL MINE. I hope they’re kind to me. Sometimes the prettiest shoes aren’t always the nicest to your feet. These will be getting their first outing on Friday so keep your fingers crossed!

And what do you know? A book fell in to my hands. But before you yell “But you’re banned from buying books!”, (as I’m sure you will, being devoted readers and having read this post) let me tell you that this doesn’t count. I had to buy Christmas presents you see and thanks to Waterstones’ 3 for 2 offer, this little fella didn’t cost me a penny so he’s allowed. OK?!

The annual Christmas Manchester Trip is not complete without a wander to Paperchase to get my Christmas wrapping paper. The visit this year was even more exciting because I get to have my very first Christmas tree this year (cue lots of clapping and jumping up and down).

Paperchase do the most fabulous Christmas decorations – full of colour and glitter and always bordering on the “Oh my god this is so ugly and tacky but I LOVE it!” side of things.

I went for these bad boys in the end.

Saturday night was spent with a good friend having good food, drinking wine and watching Strictly Come Dancing.

And naturally I couldn’t forget to mention the Christmas Market. Manchester has the best Christmas Market I’ve ever seen. And yes I might be just a little bit biased seeing as she is my favourite city and I love her. But it’s certainly the biggest I’ve ever seen. Some people think it’s confined to outside the City Hall BUT IT ISN’T! The stalls snake their way through the whole centre of town and can be found in St Ann’s Square and outside Harvey Nichols and Selfridges too.

These stalls are beyond wonderful and I have to whizz through them, rather than taking my time because I can’t afford all the things I would like and it would only end up with me crying.
I got a few more Christmas tree decorations. I’m not entirely sure what this tree is going to look like – I’m hoping it’ll be a lovely blend of traditional and quirky and won’t come off looking like a complete mess.

My little trip definitely got me in the Christmas mood, you see I know that once the annual Manchester Christmas Trip has been completed, and the wrapping paper purchased, then it’s only a hop, skip and a jump to the festive season proper.

And a little mug of Gluhwein always helps.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Sweet & Simple Bakes - Snow-flecked Brownies

“I haven't baked anything in AGES” I announced a couple of weekends ago.

“Okaaaaaaay” said the boyfriend, with more than a hint of trepidation.

You see I enjoy the baking. I like creating sweet things, it’s fun and then when everybody likes them you get a lovely warm glow inside that makes you feel wanted and seeing as I’m a people pleaser I’m all over it like a rash.


As much as I love the baking there’s an equal part of me that hates it. Know why? It’s messy.

MESS! Argh! It drives fear in to my inner core. For some reason I don’t end up messy myself, I’ve never had to wear an apron, it’s just everywhere else gets covered! And I seem to use about 45 bowls and every single utensil we’ve got in the drawers. I put the beaters in to the mixture and for a week afterwards I’m cleaning flecks of batter off the walls and the cups on the mug tree. And god help me if the recipe calls for me to use my hands. You might as well as me to put my hands inside someone’s body, it fills me with revulsion. I honestly, honestly have to take a deep breath before I start doing it. I actually have to gear myself up. Probably why I don’t make a lot of cookies and scones. Muffins are a hands-off concoction.


I decided to have a go at this month’s Sweet & Simple bake, snow-flecked brownies. I’ve only tried brownies once and they were a total disaster so I was a bit nervous about attempting this one.
Everything was going swimmingly. My chocolate and butter were nicely melting in a pan, I had my eggs cracked in to my bowl with my vanilla essence and just needed to add the caster sugar.


Have you ever knocked 350g of caster sugar ALL OVER your kitchen?

I don’t recommend it.

It. Was. Everywhere. Including the bottom of my feet which was driving me round the bend.

The boyfriend came to the rescue with the hoover (or rather I screeched at him to get the hoover, it’s a wonder he stays in the house when I’m baking) and all traces of it were cleared away. Almost. I’m sure I keep feeling it between my toes when I’m in there.

I could have given up there and then. But I am brave.

And luckily had a new bag of sugar.

It wasn’t a complete disaster although I had to massively increase the baking time. This was rather inconvenient as it cut into a very important transatlantic telephone call that I was having with of one of The Americans about the forthcoming trip to England. Cue calls to the boyfriend to go and check how they were doing.

The mixture was in for about 1 hour and 10 minutes and I still felt it was a little too gooey on the inside. The trouble was it was almost burning on the top whilst still liquid inside so I ended up covering it in tin foil and that seemed to do the job.

I have to admit I’m in the minority though. Everybody seemed to love them and especially loved the gooiness in the middle although there was general consensus that maybe 5 minutes more would be good. I’ll also halve the recipe if I did it again because I had way too much brownie goodness than I could handle!

So I still feel a little unsure where brownies are concerned but things could be getting better.

I’m definitely not speaking to the caster sugar though.

If you would like the recipe then please go here

(Apologies for the crap photos but I don't seem to be at home in the daylight these days!)

Monday, 30 November 2009


Just over two and a half years ago, Mum and I moved into a new house. It had been a long time coming – the old house had been on the market for 2 years and we had spent the previous 9 weeks homeless due to a deal falling through on the house Mum was hoping to buy.

Those were 9 long weeks. Everything we owned was in storage. We had a suitcase each with a week’s worth of clothes in (the length of time we initially thought we would be between houses) and that was it.

It was beyond wonderful to finally have a home. I was not cut out for a nomadic life, sleeping on people’s floors and not knowing from one week to the next where we would be staying the night.
Three days after we moved in was a Saturday. We were still living amongst boxes and trying to figure out where everything would go when Mum announced...

“I want a kitten”

I wasn’t that surprised. I’ve never known a house without a cat and we’d had to put down Pickle, our cat of 12 years earlier in the year. In a way it was fortunate because who knows what would have happened to her during our homeless period. Either way I think now that there was a home again it needed a cat and when Mum makes up her’s as good as done.
We took ourselves off to the RSPCA where we both immediately spotted a gorgeous little tortoiseshell – nose pressed against the glass while her brothers and sisters played. She was ready to go home.
Once we got her home we realised that we had forgotten everything about having a kitten. She was so teeny tiny and was in to absolutely everything. There were gaps behind cupboards and fridges and washing machines to get into, boxes to explore, she wasted no time setting forth on her exploration.
Within a couple of minutes she had full control of the house and it continued that way for many months. We were enraptured with everything she did, except for when she’d hide under my bed in the morning and then leap out on my feet as I tried to get ready for work.
Then one day the RSPCA rang to tell us that the Pumpkin’s Mum and 2 of her siblings had died from feline leukaemia. The mother had been a stray and probably caught it out and about and passed it on to the babies. They advised us to go and get her tested to see if it was positive.

Turns out it was and in a week she went from being a fun-loving kitten, (who did sleep a lot but then what cat doesn’t?!) to not a well little person at all. Her nose was all pale and she didn’t want to play, just sleep all the time.

So 2 years ago today we had to take her to the vets to be put to sleep (by the way, how bad a month was this? Grandparents dying, kittens dying....).

She was only 9 months old and far too young for something like this to be happening to her. I always think about what could have been. She was such a fabulous cat and so beautiful.

RIP Pumpkin.

PS I did not name her

PPS The RSPCA were very good about the situation. They paid for the test and for the euthanasia and told us we would come back and get another kitten without having to pay the adoption fee again. As one of my friends said, “Well I should think so, they sold you faulty goods!”

PPPS We did go back and get another kitten, the infamous Mabel, but that is a story for another time.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Sweet potato pie baby!

Since the Curious Cat asked so nicely, I will share with you the joys of Sweet Potato Pie.

This is a slighlty confusing dish. Is it sweet? Is it savoury? WHO KNOWS?!

Well actually I do know. It's savoury. 'Tis for the main course. Although it is so sweet that I guess you could technically have it on its for instance if there is some left over and you're too lazy to make lunch...I don't know who would do that.

Anyway I did ask The Americans for the recipe that they used for the infamous Thanksgiving of 2005 but they were rubbish and couldn't find it.

Still the interweb came to my rescue and I discovered that it's not that hard.

Is amazingly simple in fact, why have a never made it before?

You'll be needing:

- Sweet Potatoes

- 1 tsp cinnamon

- 1 tsp nutmeg

- 1/2 tsp paprika

- Mini marshmallows

Then you just put the sweet potato on to boil and mash it up with some butter. Add the spices and mix well. Add a handful of marshmallows and stir them in and then whack it all in a dish and put some more marshmallows on the top.

Stick it in the oven for about 10 minutes until it looks a little something like this:

See?! Super simple!!

Then you just need to serve it up - we went for some lamb chops (which the boyfriend did stuff to with herbs although you'd have to ask him exactly what he did) and some sweetcorn and peas.

I know it does sound a little bit weird but you just have to trust me on this one. Go with me. Put your trust in me.

(Unless you try it and don't like it. In which case I will deny we ever had this conversation.)

Have a good weekend everybody - I'm off to the Manchester for the weekend so I'll be back with pictures and probably boring stories to tell. But don't worry, I'll jazz them up and make them good for you.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Thanksgiving 2005

Today is Thanksgiving in America. And I would like to share a little story about the one and only Thanksgiving I have experienced which took place in Manchester on November 24th 2005.

I was back at university as a postgraduate, living back in Halls with lots of other people and we decided that we would celebrate Thanksgiving even though we were in England because we had 2 Americans in our midst.

(And also who needs an excuse to drink and eat copious amounts?!)

We looked to The Americans to show us the way. “Tell us. Tell us what we should do?” So The Americans showed us how to make Hand Turkeys and we got paints and drew round our hands and cut them out and stuck them all over the walls.

The Americans were a little nervous about cooking a Thanksgiving dinner on their own for the first times. And in a fairly grotty kitchen at that. But I assured them it would be fine.

“It’s basically a Christmas dinner which is basically a Sunday dinner and I can definitely do those.” I said. “I will help you”

The night before Thanksgiving I got my gladrags on and went out for a ‘few drinks’. In my experience if you utter the words “I’m just going out for a few drinks, it’s not a big night or anything” then you are guaranteed it’s going to be a big night out.

Turns out it was a big night out mainly down to two factors: 1. I was the only girl and 2. We realised that at midnight we could officially celebrate the beginning of 24 hour licensing (Has anybody else noticed that that has never really made a difference? Anyway...) so should stay out at least until then.

The night culminated in a toast to 24 hour licensing and me falling down a flight of stairs in the bar as we were leaving.

The next morning I awoke in agony. And surrounded by peas which, in a moment of sobriety, my friend had got out in an attempt to fix my foot.

It hadn’t worked. I was in agony. “This is it.” I thought to myself. “My first broken bone at the age of 22. Mum is not going to be impressed when she finds out what I’ve done.”

Luckily for me we lived pretty much opposite the Manchester Royal Infirmary and so began the long hobbly journey over there, stopping off at Subway to keep the hangover at bay.

Turned out it wasn’t broken. The doctor didn’t understand how but said that it was probably because I was so drunk I’d have been fairly relaxed when I fell. (I sensed she wasn’t massively impressed with me.)

“But I still can’t walk, you must give me crutches.”

“No, no crutches for you. That will merely encourage you to walk and you must rest your foot. I will give you these magic pills called Codeine. They will help you.”

So I popped a couple of pills and went home to rest my foot.

Let me tell you something. Prescription strength codeine? STRONG. Very very strong. So strong that I was completely off my face. The room was spinning, all I could do was lie there with my foot up and laugh.

But I was determined to help The Americans with the Thanksgiving preparations so I went to the kitchen.

And stood there and laughed.

Basically I was no help at all.

The rest of the day is incredibly hazy. I gradually regained my senses towards the end of the day and went through to the kitchen to see if I could help The Americans. They were carving the turkey and suddenly pulled out a plastic bag from the cavity.

“You know I’m not convinced we should have kept this in” said American Number 1.

“Oh my god! They’re the giblets, you should have taken that out before you put it in the oven.” I laughed.

Cue looks from The Americans which basically said “If you weren’t an idiot you could have helped us you moron instead of standing there laughing.”

(They weren’t impressed with me either.)

The meal was lovely, no-one died from plastic bag poisoning, and I still retain the memories of the sweet potato pie with marshmallows. So much so that I’m going to be making it tonight.

I may have missed some aspects of Thanksgiving 2005 so at this point I invite one of The Americans who reads this blog to please add any details I may have missed in the comments below this post.

So what am I thankful for?

I am thankful for being taught how to make hand turkeys.

And I am thankful for meeting The Americans and for all the fun and games we had together.

And I am thankful that I only have to wait 33 days for even MORE fun and games together.


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

An open letter to the oldies

Dear Pensioners,

Let me begin this letter by thanking you for all the work you have done for this country. You have worked hard for many years, some of you even fighting in wars for our freedom, and you thoroughly deserve to have some time off and enjoy your lives.


I have one very small favour to ask. Could I please ask you to refrain from enjoying your lives and going in to town between the hours of 12pm and 2pm, especially in the run up to the festive period. You don’t want to be among the hubbub of people, you should avoid the melee, stay at home and have a nice bowl of soup.

In particular it would be much appreciated if you could keep clear of;
- Marks & Spencers
- Banks
- The Post Office

You see the problem is that those of us who are still working in an attempt to earn our own pensions one day only have a very short period of time to get our lunch, post our letters, pay in our cheques, pick up a few bits for tea and have a look for some pressies. And when you guys are in these just makes life so difficult.

Really you have all day to do this stuff. Most of you are up at 5am, maybe you could run your errands first thing in the morning when the shops open?

I know that life at times must be a little dull when you reach the later stages of life and your only source of excitement comes from slowly browsing the shelves in the M&S food court, deciding what to spend your hard-earned pension on. But you know what? Those shelves are still going to be there after lunchtime and won’t it be nicer to browse at your leisure without some young upstart jiggling and jostling behind you, trying to reach for the last BLT?

I know that you might be lonely and look forward to your chats with the lovely lady in the post office but think how much more time she could spend talking with you when there isn’t a rather large queue of shuffling people in suits and ties, groaning under the weight of all the Christmas packages they want to send off.

I hope this letter has not caused any offence. I merely want to make the town centre a comfortable environment for all Hull’s citizens and avoid me completely LOSING IT AND SMACKING ONE OF YOU WITH MY UMBRELLA.

Yours sincerely,

The Girl.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Other Hand - Chris Cleave

I’m banned from bookshops you know. I have a bookcase in our bedroom and it has, about 50-odd books on there which are all waiting to be read. So I’m not allowed to go and buy new books.


There’s a special occasion. Like going to Manchester for a trip. Or The Times Book of the Week where you can get a book for £2.99 with a copy of the paper. Or when you are buying books for other people and they just happen to be on the Waterstones 3 for 2 offer and you pick a book for yourself. Those situations don’t really count.

I’m not really one for re-reading books you see. There are so many out there and I can hear them calling to me and I don’t want to neglect them.

This means that sometimes I can rush through books like nobody’s business and so often I’ll go “Oh yes. I’ve read that....what happens in it again?” Sometimes the stories, although engaging at the time, don’t stay with me for long afterwards.

I have a friend who has an insane number of books lining her tiny one roomed flat in Manchester. It’s an Aladdin’s Cave and I can spend a whole afternoon browsing and picking things off the shelf and asking “Is this any good?” She can’t bear to send any books on their way to a better life. I’ve had to make her do it once when she finally ran out of room. It was traumatic for both of us, it was like I was wrenching her babies away from her and sending them to Oxfam.

I however am pretty brutal. I’ll read a book and I might have liked it but you know when you just know that that is as far as your journey goes together? You know that you’re never really going to read it again and it didn’t really set your world on fire to begin with. It’s time to let it go.

And let it go I do – be off with you to the charity shop little book, someone-else might love you enough to keep you forever and ever. And ever.

There are very few books that I have deemed worthy of keeping. Some I keep because they were just great stories. Some I keep because I would like to lend them to friends. Some I keep because I would like my children to read them. And some just struck a chord within me that I know I can’t ignore. Those books go on the special bookcase.

The Other Hand is going to join them on there.

Bet you wondered when I was going to get around to talking about it didn’t you?

But you see I can’t really give you a review as such because I’ve made a promise. I can’t tell you what happens. It says so on the back of the book and I agree with that decision – if you knew what was going to happen it would be ruined.

I can say that it’s a very clever book. There’s no floweriness to it. No massively long prose littered with words you don’t understand. It’s just a story, told by 2 women.

And it’s beauty lies in its simplicity and I recommend it to you all.

So well done Chris Cleave. You made it on to the shelf.

And who knows, maybe, just maybe, I might pick you up one day and read you again.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Things I love about my house - Part 6

Two years ago today my last remaining grandparent, my Dad's mother passed away.

I always felt a bit guilty about my relationship with Grandma. When my Dad left my Mum I didn't speak to him for 4/5 years and consequently lost touch with half of my family. I didn't mean to, it was just one of those things that happened. I was young and at uni and yeah probbly a little bit selfish.

When I started seeing Dad again I went round one afternoon to see my Grandma and stepping into the house was like stepping into a time warp. I was immediately transported back to my childhood as all the familiar objects surrounded me. I remembered the books on the shelves and the pictures on the walls. I remembered where the floorboards creaked and remembered stealing biscuits out of the larder. I remember walking about the garden with Grandpa, who died when I was about 9.

He loved that garden and I remembered helping him clean the fish pond out one summer's day and trying to catch the newts while the next door neighbour's cat, Fat Cat, stood hungrily by.

I remember helping Grandma do the washing. She had one of those twin tubs and she would let me swirl the clothes around with the big wooden stick while I inanely chattered away.

But if I had to pick one ting that encapsulates all these memories it would be the clock.

I was obsessed with this clock when I was a little girl. I absolutely loved it and would sit staring, never daring to touch it, for ages at a time. It was just the most beautiful thing and I couldn't get enough of it.
When I first saw Grandma after the long absence I snuck into her room just to have a look at it again. Would I still love it? After all your tastes changes over 10 years or so.

If possible I loved it more.

I have many regrets about my relationship with Grandma. I should have tried harder, I should have asked her all the questions I wish I had the answer to now. What was it like during World War II? How did she meet Grandpa? What was their wedding like? All the things I was too young to ask when I saw her all the time and totally absent from her life when I would have thought to ask them.

I didn't get to see her much during her final months. Her house was flooded in the July 2007 floods and she went to stay with my Auntie down near Plymouth while the house was repaired. She got too frail and ill and never returned to Hull. She passed away in a lovely nursing home, where they took absolutely amazing care of her. I did speak to her on the phone a couple of days before she died so I'm pleased I got to say my goodbyes.
After the funeral I found out what Grandma had left me in her will. There was a savings account that she had opened when I was born and had been putting small amounts of money into ever since. And then.....

I got my clock.

When I got it home and I was examining it from every angle I looked at the bottom and saw that she had written my name. I think that clock had belonged to me for a very long time.

So although I have my regrets, most importantly I have memories that are all sealed up, ready to be opened whenever I glance at my fairytale clock.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Island - Victoria Hislop

I think if I had to describe this book in one word it would be....


Although I don’t even think that word covers it. Beautiful feels a little wishy washy but it is the best I can come up with I’m afraid.

But you see it is beautiful. It transports you to Crete as you get swept up in the story. You can feel the heat beating down on you, see the glistening of the sea, feel the cool shade inside the houses on the leper colony of Spinalonga.

Excuse me?

Oh yes did I not mention? This book is about leprosy.

Ha. No it isn’t. Not really.

It’s about love. And family. The whole leper thing is just a setting, albeit a tragic one.

I think sometimes getting tarred with the Richard & Judy Book Club brush can be a blessing and a damnation. Yes your book will be read more widely but people who are snobby about their books (and there are so many) will immediately dismiss you.

No it isn’t taxing on the brain. It probably won’t rock your world entirely. But nor should it just be dismissed as a ‘beach read’ because I think to give it that title doesn’t do it justice.

I can’t deny the fact that I was completely lost in it and that I found it really difficult to put it down, even though I knew what was coming. There has to be something in that surely?

People can be so keen to show off their knowledge of all the great books that they’ve read that sometimes they forget what pleasure you can get from just reading a really nice story. Does a novel have to challenge you to be good? Does it have to be nominated for a Booker?

Hell to the no.

Victoria Hislop’s writing was wonderful in my opinion and I liked it so much that I have bought her second book The Return just to check if The Island was a fluke or if she really is that good.

Want to read a nice story that will captivate you? Read this. Especially on these cold winter nights, I think we need a little bit of Cretan sunshine.

Friday, 20 November 2009


Sometimes. Just sometimes. Life gets a little messy and out of order and disorganised.
This causes me great upset.

I don’t like mess. I don’t like disorder. And I definitely don’t like the feeling I get when things are disorganised.

Organised is good. Organised makes sense. Lists are a person’s best friend. You know why?


What a lovely word it is. I like being efficient. Life is short and sometimes we mustn’t waste precious moments. And if that means getting dressed while I’m on the toilet then so be it.

Clearly that was a joke.

(it wasn’t a joke)


When I feel that things are getting a little out of control I have a safe little place I can retreat to.

I could sit down with some M&Ms and put them in piles of the same colour (yes I have a touch of the OCD about me) OR I can go to my cross stitching file.

That’s right blog-friends. Cross-stitching FILE. I’m a geek. I buy the magazines, mostly because I am missing the creative gene that would mean I could design my own stuff. I’m happy to copy from other people.

But magazines can be messy. They can get in the way. They do not form an orderly pile. And I don’t want all the designs anyway. So within a week of me getting the magazine it has been ripped apart and the useless bits tossed aside. The good bits, the stuff I want to keep and copy one day are then filed.

FILED. It goes hand in hand with efficiency.

Unfortunately my file is not very exciting to look at. That’s because my boyfriend stole it from work for me and solicitors apparently don’t have fun files, they have boring, serious, grey files. But I’m not one to complain. :)

These charts are not just filed away willy nilly. That would not make them efficient. No no no. To be efficient they must be filed IN ORDER, by CATEGORY.

Ah you may laugh but next time you think to yourself “Oooh I might cross-stitch a flower to put on a card to give to my Granny” will you be able to flip straight to section 6??? where you will find all charts of all flowers?

I can.
(Yes I am smiling smugly to myself.)

And when I have selected my chart I turn to my little thread box.
Aaaah the thread box.

Thread box also makes me happy.

It is a) colourful and b) ORGANISED.

When I buy new threads I have a jolly little time spinning them on to my little cardboard bobbin things, using my spinny bobbin gadget.

Then they get put in their place.

Then when I need to find colours I can easily see whether I’ve got them or not. I usually don’t but I might have one that’s one out and if it’s the difference between using Orange and Slightly-Less-Orange-But-Not-Really then I’ll save my 75p thank you very much.

So if things get a little stressful you will find me looking through my file and looking at my threads.

They make me happy.

(Today’s post was brought to you by the words EFFICIENCY and GEEK)