Tuesday, November 29, 2005


I’m not very good at following recipes but I like to have them. There are many reasons for this, but the blame comes down most squarely on the shoulders of my mother, who I almost never remember actually cooking from a recipe.

I always start with a recipe mind you, but I look at it and think well I don’t like mushrooms and gorgonzola is too expensive so I either leave out or substitute things. I also tend to gravitate towards whatever is in my fridge. I rarely decide what to have for dinner until I have to start cooking it so I am left with a bunch of disparate ingredients trying to make something wonderful. Usually I’m fairly successful (well, I like my cooking anyway and Andy knows not to complain). Take tonight, for example. I had some salmon fillets and Andy said he wanted a white sauce so I decided to poach the salmon in a mixture of milk and wine (looks and smells seriously gross while cooking but is honestly nice), then use the cooking liquid to make a béchamel style sauce. This served with boiled potatoes. I meant to do something imaginative with vegetables but didn’t get round to it. I didn’t even do anything unimaginative with vegetables to be honest but I might eat some when I come back from yoga tonight. Must confess to not really feeling much like it but I missed it last week because I had a really bad migraine.

Food I make almost always tastes good but it rarely looks particularly presentable. I don’t know why this is. I think it may be because by the time it’s cooked I’m absolutely ravenous (unless of course I have been sneakily eating a piece of cheese or some nuts while cooking) and just want to shovel it onto the plate and into the mouth asap. I must learn to savour my food.

Lion in sheep's clothing

I got a bit of a shock today when checking my blog. Any time I get a comment from someone who hasn’t commented before I check out their blog. I had a perfectly innocuous seeming comment so I went to look at this person’s profile. Again, seemed normal although the picture he used was a bit erotic.

But nothing had prepared me for what I saw when I opened his blog – and I’m no prude - I was presented with a graphic picture of two people having sex! And I happened to be at work when checking this out so was extremely embarrassed although fortunately no-one was looking over my shoulder at the time.

It’s funny what people like to blog about but then they do say some ridiculously high proportion of the net is pornography anyway.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Top Gear and Harry Potter

I have been sort of watching Top Gear over my shoulder. I make no apologies for this.

I am no petrolhead but I do think Jeremy Clarkson is on occasion entertaining and I like watching celebrities driving round the test track .

However, I think it is actually a really quite irresponsible programme in that it encourages and glamourises dangerous driving.

The presenters are doubtless very talented, well-practised drivers who know exactly what they are doing - and have lots of safety back-up along with state-of-the-art vehicles. But the people watching it are probably in the main chavs who have souped-up Vauxhall Novas. And when they see the presenters cackling with glee at repeatedly breaking the speed limit and driving really on the edge - which does make for exciting viewing - will incite the more unreliable drivers to try and emulate their feats in their substandard vehicles with their inferior driving techniques. And that's when accidents happen.

I am quite a safe driver really. I only break the speed limit on motorways and in temporary speed limits and never by much. But I'm not desperately boring behind the wheel either, I'm bloody good at parking (less of the women driver comments please) and I do rev my way out of the car park if I'm in a good mood.

Am having a bit of a childish weekend. Just finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for the second time which I feel was a mistake - not because I didn't want to but because I now really want to find out what happens in the end. OK, spoilers alert. I have some theories about the last book. They are all just theories which I think are being circulated fairly widely. One, Dumbledore isn't dead, he has just fooled everyone somehow. Two, Snape is actually a goodie after-all but was told by Dumbledore to do literally anything - to the point of murder - to make Voldemort believe he was truly a death eater. And the last one - I think the end of the book will be the combined death of both Voldemort and Harry Potter. I'm just not sure if JK Rowling is quite brave enough to kill him off. On rereading the book, I am actually less convinced about theories one and two - but I would be surprised if Harry survives the series.
Andy told me he thinks Dumbledore's alive - but then he also originally thought the Asian tsunami could have been a terrorist attack
The other childish thing I am about to do is watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I read it when I was small and liked it. I have seen the film already - and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I can't make my mind up which I prefer. Maybe watching again will help me decide.
Over and out.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Sleepless nights

I have slept very little the past two nights. Andy has been keeping me up. Not I hasten to add in a sexual or naughty way - no, he had a 'cold' also known as 'man flu'. Although to his credit, he never actually claimed it was flu.
he just coughed over my shoulder deliberately then to remind me that he is very, very ill.
If I'm ill, in general I refuse to accept it, plan to give myself an early night but instead get stuck in a book. And when I do go to bed I don't sleep hardly at all but however much I stir he snores away.
But I am only 5'3". This is pretty small. He is 6'2" and has unfeasibly long limbs which he thrashes around all night, hotly. And tops it off by coughing in my ear. Very irritating. Last night was particularly bad because our cat, Missy (very cute tabby moggie) has recently taken to attacking our feet completely unprovoked as we lie unwittingly in our beds. So Andy was kicking me awake and then Missy was keeping me in such a state by agressively going for my feet. Which are also quite small.
As a result of this, I shut her out at 4.30am last night (of the room, I'm not so sleep-deprived I would give the innocent pussy exposure)only to be kept awake by her scratching and mewing to get in.

I am just watching QI with lovely Stephen Fry and have learnt that the sexually rapacious Bonobo monkey is the happiest ape, despite its unfussy sexual proclivities. That is indeed, quite interesting.

The strange fact is that when you have missed some sleep its bloody difficult to get sleepy - tired, oh yes, but not sleepy. Just mind-numbingly awake. And pissed off with the slumbering 'ill' people next to you. Too ill to sleep in a considerate manner but not too ill to sneakily eat a whole packet of M&S profiteroles without saving me one. He is very naughty. I hope he doesn't continue with this tonight, I'm supposed to be coaching gymnastics to small children at 9am tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Talking to myself

Blogging is, I think, a bit like being blind and talking to a room full of people. Some may be listening, nodding along and agreeing with you - or otherwise - but unless they choose to directly interact with you by joining the conversation there's no real way of knowing whether everyone isn't just at the buffet tucking into pork pies and ignoring the blithering idiot talking to themselves in the corner.

So I think to write a blog you must be a bit full of your own self-importance - to think that people who you don't know would be interested in what you have to say. I obviously include myself in this but hey, I'm a journalist so nuff said about that one.

If I am completely honest, I started my blog for one key reason. I read that one of the senior editors at the Guardian newspaper would not even consider job applications from candidates who did not have their own blog. That coupled with the fact that my technophile mother started one so I figured it was time I entered the blogging world.

I really hate the term blogging. It's just an online diary innit.

Without sounding like an moaning old woman, I think there are a lot of these unnecessary shortenings in life these days. As soon as people start talking in acronyms I get puzzled, and while I abbreviate are you to ru in text messages and other such sensible things, why take it further? We want to preserve our thoughts and feelings for future posterity - so why not do it in a medium that everyone can understand? I hardly think people are going to be combing over the strange abrupt colloquialisms in the same way people examine the nuances of middle-english in the Canterbury Tales or the iambic pentameter in Shakespeare. I mean, they had rules that could be learnt and deciphered. Unless txt msgng bcms the apopted form of language, I just don't think it's going to happen.

So there I go, talking to the ambivalent room again. It does feel nice when a chance comment from a stranger reminds you people are listening. Even if they don't agree.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Present lists

People have started asking me what I want for Christmas. This used to be a very easy question to answer, in the days when my monthly earnings (parental allowance paid in return for washing the sink/emptying the dishwasher etc) totalled a princely £30. Now I have a modest income (and modest is really overstating the issue), if I want something like a CD or a book, I generally buy it (or just borrow it from the library).

When I was about 12? 13? I don't know, it seems a long time ago;-> I was the favourite niece of my childless uncle. One year, for my birthday, he told me he would get me whatever I wanted - just name it and it would be done. Of course, if I had asked for the pony that topped my present lists since I learnt how to read pony books, I would probably have got short shrift. Being the earnest type, I thought long and hard and told him solemnly that what I really wanted I couldn't have. No, nothing worthy like world peace. I wanted a puppy/kitten (my parents steadfastedly refused pets until my mum caved in when I was 15 and we welcomed a menagerie into the home) but I knew that my parents wouldn't let me. He actually looked quite thoughtfully and asked if I was sure that it wouldn't be possible. I'm fairly sure if I had really pushed the issue, I would have ended up with a box full of baby animal faeces and a beam on my face. But being reasonably considerate, I did not do so.

Instead, my uncle took me shopping. I remember distinctly I got a short-sleeved dress made out of stretchy, shiny, black material (sounds lovely I know), a game for my gameboy (bought from one of the girls on the school bus for £20 and covered in indelible ink) and some other things lost in the midst of time. Obviously, I'm not still wearing the dress either. But I do wonder what would have happened if I had got that kitten/puppy.

Anyway my boyf's family like to have exact ideas in their heads about what they are going to buy people (destroys all the mystery I think). So I have been asked to come up with some things I want.

Things I want
world peace (yeah, I'm joking, but it would be nice, wouldn't it?)
a pair of knee high boots that fit (which my mother-in-law type woman will not be able to buy because I will actually have to be there or I will simply have another pair of boots that don't fit)
hair straighteners (I have caved in and don't actually know how to use them, I just pray that practise and lots of overly straightened ears will teach me the technique)
a dictionary (considering words are my profession I can't actually believe I don't have one)
a long and short silver/gold chain (I recently discovered that I appear to be allergic to base metals in sweaty situations which is problematic seeing as all my jewellery bar a couple of gifts is cheap tat from Claire's Accesories/New Look)
any other jewellery as I am too lazy to choose it myself
a nice vase to put some kind of dried grasses in in front of my pretend fireplace
the new Will Young and Alanis Morissette cds (I'm not ashamed I have Franz Ferdinand and cool stuff like Athlete and The Killers too)
a gameboy advance sp/Nintendo DS (but noone apart from Andy would buy this and he pointblank refuses to do so)

Andy has interjected at this point that he would like a buffalo. I think it is highly unlikely this wish will ever come true, but you never know. Andy also thinks I want the QI dvd which is not entirely untrue but now I have Freeview (best £29.99 I spent in ages) it's on about three times a week anyway. Seems like a waste of money.

Oh and maybe a world atlas. I like looking up silly place names and my geographical knowledge is quite frankly shocking.

So it's a bit of a rubbish list really. I couldn't even resist buying the new John Grisham book yesterday which really I should have saved for the lists.

Anyone else have rubbish lists? I have actually managed to refrain from asking for a new gadget for my kitchen. Or something nice for the house like more sheets. I like duvet covers, this may be irrational in a 24 year old.

Like I said, I'm not ashamed. And Andy said he still wants a buffalo. I think this is one of those wishes you hope doesn't come true.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

New Year's Eve

This is always a difficult one. My parents have been hosting a big party for NYE for as long as I can remember and as soon as we start gearing up for the festive season my dad starts making puppy dog eyes until I get suckered into going.
Don't get me wrong, it's a bloody good party - my dad cooks masses of yummy food, there is gallons of booze on offer and there's a nice bed nearby that I can collapse into at 6am without having to worry about driving. And the company is fairly nice, my parents and their friends are a hoot. It's just it is quite restrictive on numbers of my friends.
And you know, it's quite nice to get really plastered and silly on new year's eve which can be a touch embarassing.
Once you get to a certain age your friends are quite scattered too, so getting everyone together without people glumly declaring its too far and too expensive becomes increasingly difficult.

This year I'm supposed to be going to a house party - a big group of us are hiring a house with a swimming pool, jacuzzi and sound system for the weekend but now it looks like there aren't quite enough of us to afford it. V annoying. So I guess I may well end up at my parents house. Again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Deadline day

Today is deadline day. We don't actually go to press finally until the early afternoon, but as a reporter I have now finished my job.

So this is the uneasy waiting bit, while the paper is being put together by the subs - and we find out what vital pieces of information are missing. Hopefully none. There's not a lot I can do apart from read proofs of pages and hang around. Can't really go anywhere in case there's a late breaking story or a major development.
The office is silent, and slightly tense - the subs are working their asses off while all the reporters do is sit around and read/go on the internet/start work on next week's paper (yeah right).
No-one really breathes a sigh of relief until we've sent all the pages, the adverts have been put on at the next centre and finally they're printed, I think in Peterborough, ready to hit the shops tomorrow morning.

And to think daily papers do this every day.

Weeks when I'm ostensibly in charge, I pretty much sit in the office from the minute I get here to the time I leave, without going out for lunch, phoning, writing, phoning again, delegating, reading other reporters copy... Tough stuff.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Monday, Monday

Today is one of those days when I just feel like going AAAAAaarrrrggghh! My immediate boss is on holiday so I'm ostensibly in charge and I don't feel like I've had more than two seconds to draw breath all day.

And worse still, I don't feel like I've really achieved anything because every time I start something someone bleeding well phones up or presents me with something else that needs to be done. Now.

Oh, the joys of a local newspaper office. You can't beat it (but please, don't join it!)

We had our office "Christmas party" this weekend. . Seemed very peculiar indeed to be pulling crackers and bopping around in a room festooned with Merry Christmas banners in mid November. I find it very entertaining seeing normally quiet, retiring office bods boogeying away - and claiming not to be at all drunk when they have just said something they wouldn't say in a million years under the dampening effects of sobriety.

But it does make me feel a little restricted - do I want to be the one everyone's smirking at on Monday? Fortunately there are no blanks from the course of this particular evening - well, not as far as I know...

Ok, break over, back to work!

Saturday, November 12, 2005


I have been to Israel twice. I am not Jewish, Muslim nor an extremely devout Christian but politics and religion is transcended by the beautiful country side and fascinating history which oozes out of every stone in the country.

People of all religious and political beliefs are really nice there and everybody has a strong, loudly expressed point of view about what's going on in the country.

Very funny going out on the town there. It seems obviously clear to every young man that you are English/American and, consequently, automatically fair game. And people don't give up if they have decided they are going to pull you. Top tip for anyone who finds they are on the receiving end of unwanted male attention - tell them you're a Christian and (unless by some miracle you have found a native Christian although there are quite a few Arab Christians) and they will instantly withdraw. Very funny.

This is a picture of the Temple Mount taken on my first visit. I think it's stunning. We went on a walk round the Ramparts of the Old City the second visit (earlier this year) and you just keep turning around and seeing new views of it as you turn the corner. V impressive.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Technical success!

I have shocked even myself. There is some kind of editing programme which I can play with these pictures on. So I have done. I shall also go back and rotate/improve a couple of the pix.

This is my sister, Ruth. She wanted to be an actress but became pregnant at 17. She's 21 now with a stunning three year old, my niece Summer. And her return to the job market has been rather successful as she is now restaurant manager at a posh bistro pub/restaurant ran by a celebrity chef. She's bloody good at it. But a wee bit scary (not to the customers, of course). I don't think I could work for her, but I am very very proud of her. I think she has found the perfect niche.

The reason I am including all these piccies is because a close family friend pointed out to me that virtually all the pictures of Ruth in the last three years are not pictures of Ruth. They are pictures of Summer with Ruth there too. So here are some I snapped, just of Ruth. As you can see she's rather beautiful too. Bitch (kidding).

The one whic clearly is not my sister and should have been the last picture but clearly isn't for reasons I don't entirely understand, is my big brother Adam. He's very good with computers. I hope he never finds my blog because I'm sure he would criticise it hugely. I quite like the drunken effect I have achieved. This was entirely accidental.

The one which is clearly

The men in my life

These are the men in my life - my boyfriend Andy and my Dad. It should hopefully be fairly obvious which one is which.

Andy, bless his heart, doesn't usually look quite so silly. He was beguiled into wearing the hat and apron for a barbecue. He seemed to strangely enjoy it though which is, I feel, worrying.

My father, on the other hand, has no shame. He dropped so many hints about getting a chef's outfit one year, he ended up with three hats, a t-shirt a chef's jacket and checked trousers. Which he wears at any available cooking opportunity.

He lives about 130 miles away (as does my Mum).

I am now going to try to rotate some of these pictures. If I succeed, I will put them on the blog.

Pictures I like

I have some more lovely Will Young pictures. Here they are.

My Mum will probably point out that I could cut out the unimpressive finger in the way of the picture but I don't have the software. Or the knowledge. I could do it perfectly well if I had Photoshop. She's a complete technophile.

I think I should get much respect for the pix as they were taken while I was standing in the middle of a crowd of excited teens and pissed racegoers. For American readers, of which there are none I suspect, pissed means drunk.

Technology and gym

I have been having some major issues with technology today.I spent some time endeavouring to put on a picture of me trying out scuba-diving in my local pool with no success. I was doing it at work (naughty I know) and the picture was saved in a progamme I do not have on my screen.So I opened it in a programme which I do have and then saved it differently. But when I attempted to upload that, it kept failing. I probably shouldn't have put it on anyway as it's kind of under copyright, but it was only of me looking foolish in a swimming costume and scuba-diving backpack.

I coach gymnastics for a local recreational club at my weekends and used to do gym myself a bit. Nothing very impressive, but I can still do the splits and the odd back-flip. So I put that down as an interest and looked up other people with the same interest, only to find that they were either young American cheerleaders or hardcore coaches who blog about their coaching (and they're coaching impreessive stuff like Geinger releases on bar (which I have probably spelt wrong) and double back somies on floor. Neither of which I can do.

I could blog about my coaching too, but I'm not sure how many would be interested to read about how every week one of our new intake ends up crying because 'gymnastics is scary its too hard' when all they are actually learning is backward rolls down a slope.

It's a bit sad cos when I was a gymnast I was a bit better than pretty much all of the ones I coach now. But these days with the addition of a few too many pounds, I am reluctant to demonstrate almost anything because it's really embarrassing when I do it wrong.

They love it when I do backflips though.
I have a very close group of slightly mad friends from university who at some stage discovered, after our university years, that I could do gym. Now every time we get together, they insist I do gymnastics in highly inappropriate places such as small, crowded nightclubs.

It's strange, peer pressure never made me want to smoke or do drugs or stuff like that but when everyone is chanting my name demanding I do something gymnastically which I know is more than likely to casue injury, I seem strangely unable to resist.Everyone has their weaknesses.

Maybe I just need to be the centre of attention. The admiration afterwards does feel pretty good.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Dad

My dad can juggle fire.

This is quite an impressive achievement.

I taught myself to juggle scarves once - they fall very slowly. When I try to juggle balls I have to move jerkily and erratically forward to catch them.

This is not impressive.

Will Young

These are some pictures of Will Young I took at a concert at the racecourse nearby. He was very good.

I don't have access to Photoshop on this computer so he's a bit topsy-turvy.

I like Will Young very much. I tried, unsuccessfully, for quite some time, to convince myself he was not gay. Then the beggar went and came out so I could fool myself no longer. I hope he's very happy.


I saw a sign advertising a free "cello-wrapping" service in a card shop today. I was confused and mildly amused - why would you go to a card shop to get your cello wrapped? Why would it need wrapping? And what would you wrap it with?

It took me some time before I realised that rather than the musical instrument, it referred to the type of wrapping method - cellophane. It was, I feel, a misleading and somewhat confusing abbreviation. Like saying you were going outside to do some guarding, when actually you meant gardening. Or, like me earlier, getting confused and referring to a passenger manifesto instead of a passenger manifest.

Some abbreviations I like. My full name is Francesca, but only really a few people such as my Dad and people who have known me since before I was Fran. I like Fran the best, although I like Frangelita too. Only a few people call me that. My old English teacher used to call me, without asking, 'Cesca (pronounced chesker) which used to drive me mad. Mind you, when she wasn't listening, I used to call her big, bouncy Babs. She was a very good teacher.


This is me, at the same family party pictured earlier. I asked my mum to send a flattering picture and this is what she sent.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


These boots are made for walking, or so the song goes.

But the boots I want are quite different. As a former gymnast I developed fairly large and muscular calves. I know, it sounds very attractive. And I want a pair of saucy knee-high boots to wear of an evening with a short skirt or such-like, which sounds like a simple enough proposition.

But none of them will do up! It's quite embarrassing really, as I go round trying on all these boots in the vain hope that one of them will actually go all the way round my calves. I really don't think they look that big! Some of the ones I've tried on have been truly scraping the barrel before I realise that yes, they nearly fit, but I don't want to go out looking like I'm off to ride a horse. Which I'm not.

I have really quite small feet (UK size 5) too so a massive welly-style affair is not going to cut the mustard.

Although I do have a blue, stripey pair of wellies that do fit me (which are again unsuitable for a night out)

Any suggestions on flattering, wide legged boots much appreciated.

My Family

This is most of my family at a big family party this summer. I'm there too.

Up and running

Fortunately, I am not actually running. Running for me at this hour would be rather unpleasant, something of a rude awakening.
I apologise for the rather scattered potted biography but it is surprisingly hard to talk about yourself without either making yourself sound immensely big-headed, nauseatingly self-effacing or just plain weird. I think, of the three, I prefer to be a little bit peculiar.
At this stage I suspect only my mum, who posts as mig bardsley, is aware of this blog's existence but she has amped up the pressure considerably by linking to my blog. I don't yet know how to do this. Nor have I yet figured out how to do pictures (baffling mention of url and the like).

Heyho, soon I am sure I will figure it all out, but as I am at work and my immediate boss has just walked in and sat next to me, I think it may be time to sign off. A bien tot.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

In the beginning

No words in the beginning, actually, just rather a lot of empty space to fill. I am not entirely sure how to start this and all I really want to do is tell everyone who I am. Hopefully I will figure this out before anyone actually reads it. Which is likely, seeing as the only person who knows I am starting a blog is sitting next to me, watching old episodes of Red Dwarf with our miscreant moggie, Missy.

Back soon, hopefully with something that makes some sense.