Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Do you like your bacon crispy?

One of the things that's been great about living with a boy is that my boyfriend can cook. And more than that, he likes cooking and actually wants to do it. I'm more than happy to let him, seeing as I'm seriously lacking any ability in the cooking department.

So on Saturday when he said that he'd get the breakfast sorted I was happy to let him. He got the bacon under the grill and I sat down in front of the telly, waiting for my lovely breakfast.

He came and sat down next to me. "I just checked on it, it's not even vaguely done, it'll be a bit longer."

So a couple of minutes later he got up and went back in to the kitchen.

And the smoke alarms went off.

That's right. Plural. We have 3. 1 in the kitchen, 1 just inside the front door and 1 in the lounge. And all of them were blaring.

I automatically went to switch it off, except that I forgot one teeny tiny problem. We live in an old converted house and the ceilings are about 12 foot high. Unless I employed my go go gadget arms I wasn't going to be able to reach it. I went in to the kitchen to try and reach that one but that one was slightly too high as well. Didn't matter anyway, because it's a rented property, the smoke alarms are tamper proof, you can't turn them off, just just have to ride it out.

I thought I was going to go mad, they were so bloody loud and there was nowhere you could go to get away from the ear piercing shriek that was making me want to pull my hair out and grind my teeth.

Finally there was silence. Either that or I'd gone deaf.

"I hate over-sensitive smoke alarms" I said as I walked in to the kitchen.

It wasn't over sensitive.

What was lying on the grill pan did not in any way shape or form resemble bacon. Instead there was a blackened lump that sort of had a slightly reddish tinge to it in places. I've never seen anything as badly burnt as that mess.

My boyfriend looked disconsolate. I don't think he's ever burned anything, let alone toally incinerated something. Trouble is, he's been living with an aga for a while and I don't think he's used to your bog standard electric oven where, and this was the key mistake, you have to keep the oven door open when you're grilling.

As I scraped the mess in to the bin and lit some candles to try and get rid of the charred meat smell that was pervading the flat, I looked at him. I couldn't say anything, he was so disappointed. "I'll make it better" I said to myself and I sat him down and said that I would make him some breakfast.

He got Marmite on toast.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

What more do you people want?!

Something very strange happens when you tell people that you've moved in with someone. Their eyes light up and it's not just that they're happy for you to be living with someone you love, you can practically hear the sound of wedding bells in their ears.

Now I understand that I have made a small tentative step down that road by agreeing to live with somebody but I am a long way from that happening!

Don't get me wrong, I do want to get engaged one day and I wouldn't be moving in with someone if I didn't think this was going to happen at some point. But people seem to think it's going to happening in the next week or so, judging by their reactions.

We've only paid the first month's rent on a flat and people are wondering when I'm going to walk in with a diamond ring on my finger.

I've never really noticed it before but the traditional view that, as a woman, you must naturally want to get married, is very much alive and kicking, even in these times. You would have thought that things would have changed - we've seen the advent of house-husbands and women in high power. And yet the idea of the traditional 50s housewife is alive and kicking.

People talk about how great it is that now women can have it all, they can be wife and mother and career woman. But no-one seems to consider that maybe you don't want EVERYTHING. Maybe you just want a career or maybe you just want to be a wife and mother. And who is to say which is right?

Let me just make it clear that I would like to get married one day, I'm just playing devil's advocate here. What I don't understand is this assumption that it's going to happen and, more importantly, that it's going to happen soon.

We're told that women are marrying and having children later and later in life and yet at 26 people are almost stunned when I wave off questions about 'the future'. It's this sense again that we have to rush at everything full tilt. I still think I am young. Would it not be foolish to rush in to something? Is it not a bit more sensible to maybe live with someone a while and see if....I don't know....we actually get on with each other and can live together? We haven't even paid any bills yet!

The most hilarious conversation happened with my sister-in-law's father at the weekend however. He is a very traditional guy, very traditional. Let's called him B. He nearly drove my brother to distraction dropping very unsubtle hints about him marrying his only daughter. We were all walking along through the centre of York and I stopped to look in the window of a jewellers. I was looking at emerald rings, I have a thing about green and I just love them, I stop everywhere to look at them.

When I rejoined everyone I apologised for holding people up and B said "Looking at engagement rings were you". I was stunned! "Erm.......no" What a crazy thing to say to someone that you really don't know that well. I found out afterwards that he had asked my Mum if she thought I would get married to my boyfriend. My Mum replied that it didn't really matter what she thought, that I would make my own decisions regardless of what anyone else thought.

He continued to press her asking "Do you not think she wants to?" "Well, no not at the moment." Mum replied.

"Isn't she strange" he said.

Erm. Not so much actually.

When we were leaving to return to Hull and I hugged B goodbye he said "I look forward to hearing your engagement announcement."

Don't hold your breath mate.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The first week

We're almost at the end of our the first week living together and we have so far survived and life is good.

I think I'm still in a holiday state of mind. I can't seem to take in that this is where I live now. I keep looking about and seeing all my things but there seems to be some kind of disconnect going on.

It's as if I'm waiting for some kind of panic to set in when I realise that I'm now living with a boy. But you know I'm not sure that it's going to. What's weird is that it doesn't feel weird. Is that normal?

Hopefully it's a good thing and means that I've made the right decision and I will live happily ever after. Or. In about a week's time I'm going to have a breakdown when I realise that I'm not getting any peace from him and that everywhere I turn he's there!

The flat is very cosy now which is lovely and it's very homely and relaxing. I do feel kind of bad though because my mark is very much all over the flat, my lava lamp is in the lounge and my plant is on the shelving unit and my Grandma's clock is up and my candles are dotted around, as are my various little trinkets and bits and bobs. You know the kind of things - a small wooden elephant from Sri Lanka, a crocodile from South Africa, a little pot vase from the Grand Canyon. All the little bits that girls seem to carry around with them. It's as if my boyfriend doesn't really live here. His only mark is the drum set from Guitar Hero and I already have plans to secrete that somewhere where it can't be seen.

I didn't mean to take over but I just....have. But then I don't know if that's just because I'm a girl and naturally more of a homemaker. He does have a big picture of his dogs that's going to go up on the wall, I'm not trying to take over, it's just happened. It was an organic process! Boys just don't have little bits do they? Nor do they have much sense of what makes something a home.

They do not understand the importance of having Lush in your bathroom. In fact they do not even notice that you have bought Lush products and put them in the bathroom. Despite the fact that the flat smells like a tart's boudoir.

We still have many bits and pieces to sort out for the flat. We have curtains in the lounge but non in the spare bedroom and in our bedroom there is an old curtain left by the previous tenants. It'll do for now but it's a bit grubby and only just covers the window. My boyfriends comment?

"Well they'll do for now. I mean they go with everything."

Of course they do. They're white.

With insightful comments like that it's no wonder I'm going it alone when it comes to decorating the flat.

This is compounded by the habit my boyfriend has of agreeing with everything I say, or saying "I don't mind". I'm under no illusions that all this will stop soon enough when he gets bored of agreeing with me but at the moment it's just constant. I could say that I had plans to paint the walls vivid green with pink spots and he'd just go "I'm sure that would look great honey." I should do it. That'd teach him.

But for now I need to keep him onside. I still need a mirror putting up in the lounge and some rails putting up in the cupboards in the bedroom....

Sunday, 15 March 2009

The big move

And we're in!

I can see now why people say that moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do. I almost killed someone and we didn't even have the stress of buying somewhere.

Living on the first floor is a good thing, security wise and it is a lovely flat but yesterday afternoon I would have done anything to have been on the ground floor or not living in a building that doesn't have a lift.

After spending most of his time reassuring me, my boyfriend ended up being woefully behind on his packing, something which, not being able to control, was sending my stress levels through the roof. My Mum and I decided to go it alone and took a couple of loads in her car but the climbing with the boxes nearly killed both of us. Which is actually something I might want to look at considering that Mum's 63 and I'm 25.

We called a strike at that point and refused to do any more until my boyfriend turned up with the hire van to put the rest of the boxes and my wardrobe in it. Luckily I kept well out of the way whilst the men did the heavy lifting, I just looked on supportively.

But we're in and that's the main thing. Surrounded by boxes, I'm not really sure where to start, I just wandered aimlessly from room to room doing little bits here and there before giving up completely and sitting down.

Our first meal - a lovely pizza from the takeaway conveniently opposite the flat.

So far our first morning has been spent putting up a little nest of tables, I again looked on supportively.

Now I come in to my element as I begin the big project - alphabetizing the DVD collection. Whilst watching Hollyoaks and eating leftover pizza. Because. I. Can.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

What you leave behind

As the big move-in day creeps ever closer (2 days to go!) I'm starting to think more and more about what I'm going to be leaving behind and the feelings I'll have once I'm somewhere new...

I currently live with my Mum and have done for the past 2 years, since finishing my Masters degree in Manchester. I moved back home, insisting it was a temporary measure and that I'd probably be out in the few months.


The initial plan was that I would move in with my then boyfriend who lived away. Unfortunately my boyfriend did not share the same plan and it took him almost 2 years to get around to telling me that. After telling me he didn't think he wanted to be in a relationship and didn't want to live with someone, he moved in his new girlfriend a few months later. Go figure.

So having wasted my time for a couple of years, I've been fairly keen to move forward and out of the parental home. That's probably the reason why we're moving in with each other fairly early on in the relationship (9 months in). It feels right so I'm going for it - what's the point in waiting? If something feels right you might as well do it. If it doesn't work out? Well you deal with that when and if it comes along.

I am keen to get out in to my own space though. It's not easy to go to uni and have all the freedom you want and to then come back into your parent's home. I was brought up to be fairly respectful person - if I was going to be out later than expected I would ring to let her know and I wouldn't spring sudden surprises on her. My thought is that if someone's going to the trouble of making your tea you should turn up to have it and not cancel the hour before. Plus I think it's just nice to sit and have a meal with my Mum, otherwise she'd just be on her own and it's nice to sit down and have a chat about your day.

Although I do all this it doesn't mean that I particularly enjoy it. I do it because I feel I have to. I would love to not have to 'answer' to anyone, to be able to stay out later than anticipated without having to worry about telling someone. (I should point out here that I am aware I will be living with someone when I move out - he won't be left all alone wondering where I am!)

I do get on with my Mum though. My brother and sister would say I'm the favourite and that I'm spoilt and tehy might have a point. I'm the youngest - everyone loves the youngest child! I don't think I'm necessarily the favourite, that accolade rests with my older sister, the attractive, massively successful one out of the three of us.

I would however say that I'm closer to Mum than my siblings are. That's inevitable I suppose with us living together but it's more than that. My Dad left when I was 16 and it was just Mum and I from then on. My brother and sister had long left home by that point and my brother said to me that I had to "make sure" I "looked after Mum". Quite a responsibility for the fairly sheltered, immature teenager I was then.

But I took that on board and did as was expected. I sat through the nights of crying and shouting and long periods of silence. The times when I worried about how much she was drinking. Whilst my peers were discovering the delights of going out to clubs and underage drinking, I was at home not wanting to leave my Mum on her own.

I don't want to paint a picture of poor orphan Annie, of course it wasn't like that, I still did go out occasionally and I don't think I was solely responsible for my Mum's recovery after the break up. What has always stayed with me is that sense of responsibility towards her.

I think it's taken for granted that I am responsible for Mum. I think it's the downside of being the youngest - my brother and sister are both married with children and live away. I on the other hand am not married with children so therefore have no responsibility and I live in the same city. To some extent this has been fair but with me getting my own place I feel the goalposts have changed somewhat. Am I still going to be solely responsible for checking on how Mum is. My sister only rings once a week and my brother even less. That made sense when I was living in the house but what about now? Does my share of the responsibility decrease?

I do feel guilty in that sense. I feel like I am abandonning her in some way. Once I go, that's it, she'll finally be on her own. It's not like when I went to uni and was coming back at weekends or there was the potential for me to move back permanently. This is it when I go. And I do feel responsible for her. So in a way, although I'm moving out and getting what I've wanted for so long, I'm still very much connected my Mum, and although I'm happy to going somewhere new, there's still a little bit of sadness when I think about what I'm leaving behind...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

It's ours!

So it's official. We are a pair of renters.

We went in to sign on the dotted line yesterday afternoon and were handed the keys. Of which there are five. That definitely doesn't seem right when there are two of us.

We had to read through one of those really boring tenancy agreements. I hate those legal documents - the writing's all tiny and the sentences are too long and complicated to understand. I just pretend I'm reading it and scan it a few times. The boyfriend's a solicitor, I'm sure he read it properly.

I did read one line that made me laugh though - we have agreed not to use the property for "illegal or immoral purposes." Now who exactly decides what is and is not immoral?

So excitement levels are at an all time high. As are levels of nervousness and stress. Even my lists can't help me now.

We've been out and bought most of the essentials and basics so there's no need to panic, but me being me, I am. There are things to do that just hadn't occured to me. I didn't know you had to ring utility companies and set up an account! Insurance hadn't crossed my mind! I even managed to forget about getting a tv licence.

Add to that the fact that I haven't started packing and this has been enough to make my head nearly spin clean off my shoulders. And for the first time ever I've got high blood pressure - absolute madness. It all started as a joke around the table at my boyfriend's parents' house - who would have the best blood pressure? Out came the arm cuff and stethoscope and I sat myself down to have it taken, confident that I had this one in the bag.

So imagine my surprise when mine came out way higher than normal and I was told that it was "worthy of keeping an eye on". That was the end of that joke then.

I'm assuming it's the worrying I've been doing about the move that has caused it to shoot up but I'm thinking it's not going to be easy to get your blood pressure down when you're worrying about your blood pressure being too high! I have resolved to put it to the back of my mind and not think about it until we're moved in - we'll see if it's still high then.

It's just ridiculous that I've got like this. I don't need to stress, it's not as if we're properly moving house and everything has to be packed up by a certain date. We both live with parents so it doesn't matter if some stuff is left behind for a while, it doesn't all have to go over in one big load.

Well I say this but my mother has been looking forward to my imminent departure with a little too much enthusiasm for my liking. Ever since I mentioned I was thinking about moving out I've caught her creeping about my bedroom, tape measure in hand, making plans for her "new room". And far too many sentences have started with the words, "When you move out...."

Anyone would think she wants her house back...

Monday, 9 March 2009

Charity Cases

One of the great things about announcing you're moving into an unfurnished flat is the deluge of offers from friendsand family who can't wait to help you out.

Or are they?

I have come of the conclusion that people fall into two categories. Those that genuinely want to help you and thosethat are happy to give you any old tat they can't be botehred to take to the tip or give to charity. Those in the latter tend to follow their offer with this phrase, or a variation on the following....

"It's not brilliant but it'll do for you as a starter."

I don't expect people to go giving me their new dining table and chairs whilst they sit on cushions around upburnedboxes, but what I don't really want is a 3 legged chair or a wardrobe with no door or a hoover that doesn't actually pick up dirt.

You can see what people are thinking..."Yes! I'll go and rake through the garage/shed/local skip for any old crap and give it to them and when it falls apart in two weeks THEY'LL have to get rid of it."

The other difficulty is having the ability to say no so something truly hideous. I've never been able to say no toanything which has often got me in to trouble. I just feel so awful saying no! The worst one is people asking youfor your number in a bar, it's quite easy for you to just say, "I'm sorry, no, I've got a boyfriend." See I know that's all I need to say but the words will not come out of my mouth. I feel like by saying that, it's the same as pointing, laughing and screaming at the top of my lungs, "Haha! He thinks I'm going to give him my number! Retard!"


Some people have genuinely offered us stuff that really is horrible and after making several "hmms" and "aaahs" have gone away saying I'll check with the boyfriend, hoping that they'll not bring it up again. The other answer I've come up with is "Oh we've already got one of those" It's the safest option all round really. Sometimes there's just no need to tell the truth.

You could say it as nicely as you like "It's just not my style" or "I don't think it'll really go with anything we have". But what you're actually doing is pointing, laughing and screaming at the top of your lungs, "Haha! As if I want something that ugly in my house! No thanks, I've actually HAVE taste."

I never knew moving was going to be so fraught with hidden dangers...

Sunday, 8 March 2009

The Art of Compromise (Part 2)

We're now less than a week away from the big move in day and tensions are mounting. Well. They're not really, what I should probably say is that I'm getting more excitable, nervous, hyper and scared as times rushes past me.

We're on to now getting everything in for the new flat (my lists have come in very handy thank you very much) and this has involved us going through everything we already have and deciding what is coming with us and what is getting chucked out/taken to the charity shop.

I feel this is the first test of my compromising skills. We've been quite lucky in that we don't have much furniture so there's no doubling up on this which takes one possible source of conflict away. The boyfriend does have a lot of kitchen stuff from when he previously lived away so we spent the other night going through that.

Now whilst I'm all for not buying stuff that's not necessary and making do for the moment but neither do I want to take a pair of salt and pepper mills that have been laid in a garage for over a year and which have rusted over and looked horrific.

"These'll be fine once I've gven them a wash," he says.

I made a non-commital noise whilst I ran through a mental checklist of all the shops I've been in recently that sold salt and pepper mills.

Luckily I was saved by the intervention of his sister who, upon watching him trying to scrape year old salt out with a knife proclaimed. "My god! Please, please throw them away and I'll buy you a salt and pepper mill as a moving in present."

Phew. Saved. Sigh of relief.

There were further problems to come however.

When the boyfriend lived away from home before, he lived with a girlfriend. Hence, everything is stuff that they bought together. Now it's not that I have an aversion to anything his ex-girlfriend has touched - I just don't particularly want stuff in our place that's going to remind him of her.

Also I don't share the same Winnie the Pooh obsession she appeared to have.


A line had to be drawn somewhere so I said in my nicest, bestest, politest voice in the nicest, bestest, politest way, "I'm not having any of her crap in my flat."

Being the lovely boy he is he understood and coming to a charity shop near you soon will be every single mug, glass and place produced by the Disney franchise.

I fear he's not going to be as understanding when I takeon my next battle of the compromises - his 60 million crap DVDs which are not all coming with us....

Monday, 2 March 2009

The Beauty of Planning (Part 2)

I have lists everywhere. I have lists for my lists. I have a list of tasks I have to do at work. I have a list of cards I need to make for peoples' birthdays. I have a list I need to take with me when I go shopping. I have lists of books I want to read.

I love 'em.

Listy list lists. You can never be disorganised if you have a list in your head. I have several, relating to the flat at the moment. I have a list of what furniture we are bringing with us. I have a list of what we need. I even have separate pieces of paper which have written on them what we might need for each room. In my head I have an itinerary of what's going to happen when we pay the deposit and the flat is ours. An itinerary is just a fancy kind of list. It's like the snooty cousin of the list.

Itinerary: Oh so you're just a list are you?
List: Yeah I'm great aren't I? I keep everyone ordered.
Itinerary: Well I don't just keep them ordered, I keep their time ordered. I make them do things at specific tmes. They can't do anything without me. They are lost.
List: I am humbled.

The trouble with lists is that they tend to breed like rabbits. And lo list begat lists. And it was good.

Lists can also make you ever so slightly edgy because it's only upon listing something that you realise how much you have left to do.

This is what's happening with me at the moment. What started as a simple list of things we need has sent me into a spiral of doom as I keep thinking of new things we don't have. These will come upon me at random times of the day. There I will be, busy at work, typing away and I will suddenly yell "CHEESE GRATER" and scrabble about for my list. I wake up from my sleep mumbling about toilet brushes. 'Laundry basket' suddenly pops into my head on the bus home.

It's making me mental. There are so many things you need that you don't think about because you use them most days and they're just....there. Like irons! And hoovers! A garlic press! A door mat! I'm planning a dawn raid on Poundland one day to buy cleaning products (which reminds me, I need to put 'mop' on my list).

By far the craziest list is the one regarding items for the kitchen. There are so. many. things. Storage jars, whisks, knives, fish slices, seives, colandars, roasting pans. My god I'm going to have to stop before I give myself a stroke.

The only thing that's going to make me feel better is if I can start ticking things off my lists.

I'm off to Poundland...