Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Forgot to tell y'all I'm on holiday.

A whirlwind sausage-shaped tour of England staying with various people. We're about to leave stop number 2, my older brother A in Lancaster. All good so far.

Am not supposed to be blogging, hence the lack of full sentences, but realised I didn't quite warn my dedicated readers that I would be awol for a little bit. Back properly on Sunday but am at Mum's with probable blogging opportunity on Friday.

Oh yes, if there are any glaring errors in this brief update, put it down to the fact that I haven't gone for a day without wine yet this holiday.

Adam, the recipe for Flashroast Lamb is as follows:

Take one leg or half leg of lamb, butterflied.

Marinate in large, roughly equal quantities of soy sauce and honey.

Turn oven up to as hot as it will go.

Put marinated lamb, flat, in to roast for 30 minutes at full heat. It will blacken and smoke, this is a good thing.

DO NOT open oven or leave in for longer. Take out to rest for a sensible amount of tiem (10 minutes? I'm not a meat expert). Carve and eat.

Swoon over how yummy it is.

Of course, anyone who isn't Adam is also quite welcome to try this recipe. It's nicked off my dad, who was first served it by a friend in Cornwall several years ago when watching the solar eclipse.

It's bloody lovely.

More on that story later.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I watched this film last night. It made me laugh quite a lot.

I don't think this was intended by the film makers.

I like martial art films, especially the new, spectacular breed, because I love the gymnastic and acrobatic elements of the moves. Same reason I thought District 13, which is full of super-cool parkour moves, was the best thing since marmite toast.

But watching Ong-bak last night - the main storyline of which centres around the theft and recovery of the head of a buddha statue - I reflected on the usefulness of some of these moves in a real fight situation.

The chase sequence, for example. When jumping through a small space, surely it would be easier to go feet OR head first, rather than folding neatly into a pike position at some effort and risk of headbashing to slide through with feet and hands together.

Not according to this young gent.

I've never quite understood, either, the necessity of somersaulting your way onto someone's head/back/squashy parts. It requires considerably more bounce and effort and is less precise than simply walloping him one because you take your eyes off the target.

I can sort of understand why you might want to do split somersaults because they're quite unpredictable and you get to kick someone with first one leg then the other with the additional speed and momentum from the rotation of the somersault. But the same thing could be achieved with less effort and probably producing more power from a handspring walk out or a backflip walkout - plus it's a bit more stable.

It's also about time someone pointed out that somersaulting in a straight or split position dramatically slows the speed of the move, making tucked somersaults far quicker. Although I suppose a straight-back somersault looks more impressive.

And finally, why exactly, when confronted with a series of steps, would you somersault from one to the next - rather than just jumping? Can someone tell me what the advantage is there?

That said, I hope no-one sees the flawed logic behind all this dramatic choreography. It looks much cooler that way.

More on that story later.

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Monday, August 21, 2006


There has been a lot of comment recently about dating stock here and here and it made me feel sort of wistful.

You see, I've never really been on a date.

Okay, maybe one.

I was 16 and had a huge crush on this bloke in my class who was I think 20. I fancied the pants off him and used every possible opportunity to flirt with him.

One day, it paid off. I had recently started seeing a rugby player who was a foot taller than me and twice my weight (yes, really). I was off English one day and afterwards my friend T said this man, P, had asked her if I was going out with anybody. She had got confused and said no, then realised her mistake and said maybe.

At the next English lesson, he cornered me after class and, rather embarrassedly asked if I would go out with him. Despite his peculiar behaviour, this was quite a shock and in my flummoxed state I told him I was seeing someone else. He said something like oh, okay and that was that.

Except about two weeks later, my fat rugby player dumped me rather unceremoniously and I was suddenly on the market again. But how to let P know without sounding desperate?

Well, in a small town college, news travels fast. I accidentally told Jo R-M who immediately blabbed it to P. Then one happy day, he again cornered me after English and asked the same question. I said yes. He then asked me "Do you eat?" What a line. As it happened, I had a very busy weekend so I played slightly hard to get and we arranged to meet at the Harvester the following week.

Oh, the tension. It was straight after my gymnastics class so I changed into my tightest black trousers straight afterwards (this was when I was training 8 hours a week and had visible abs. Oh the days) and met him.

I didn't really know what to order or what to say, but it all passed fairly happily. Towards the end of the meal, he asked if he could hold my hand. I said yes. Then, walking home, it was as if he'd been trying to build up the courage all day, he turned me round and kissed me.

And that was pretty much it on the dating front. After that we were together for about 20 months so weren't dating. Then there was university where apart from one guy who I met in a nightclub then arranged to meet on the seafront for fish and chips (for which he did not offer to pay) in daylight hours I did not date.

In my second year at university, I moved in with a couple of blokes including a very nice young man, let's call him HF, who I had never met before. Let's just say we hit it off without any need for "dates". And, nearly six years later, he's still here.

So I don't really get dating. And I have no idea how you go about meeting men. This means I'm of absolutely no use when my girlfriend's are having dating quandries, but also makes me rather smug and happy. Sometimes I wonder what it's like out there. But then I think, well, it's warm and lovely in here with as much cuddling and affection as I could possibly need. And the other stuff. Besides, he empties the bins.

More on that story later.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Role reversal

I'm at my parents house tonight because I have a dentist's appointment tomorrow and was looking forward to having a good chinwag with my lovely mother but sadly it was not to be.

When I arrived, the house was in darkness (well, downstairs anyway, my Dad waved at me from his upstairs office) and my Dad had to come down to let me in. Mum, I was told, was sick. An unusual occurence.

When I went upstairs to see her she was all sad and cold and poorly and wrapped up in a quilt. I had to keep getting her extra blankets because she was still cold. Poor mum. I hate being ill, I don't hold with it. Neither does she, so she must be feeling pretty bloody awful to retreat to her bedroom.

Mum is a bit like she is in the morning when she's poorly. My dad says we're both dreadful morning people. This is not true, we're just not really awake or in the mood for singing loudly and eating lots of fatty eggs and bacon just yet. I think she's rather sweet and fuzzy in the morning and nice to hug. But I'm not supposed to hug her too closely or I might get her ailment.

It's a shame though, I don't see her as much as I would like and we were going to have brunch tomorrow. I hate the expression brunch, but love the concept. It's not really breakfast, because I have the dentist at 9.15am and don't want to get bacon stuck between my teeth because he won't like that. And I have another appointment elsewhere at 2pm so I'm going to be driving at actual lunchtime. Maybe I'll just have a bagel.

In other news, I hired a car for the first time today. It was very exciting, I felt all grown-up. And a little scared about signing bits of paper promising to pay lots of money if I ended up smashing it into a brick wall. Not that I'm in the habit of doing that, you understand. It's just I've never driven a Kia before, it sounds more like a children's drink than a car.

Ooh, hot topic. Kia Ora or Five Alive? Haven't tasted either in years, but I remember Five Alive being the bomb (not sure if anyone actually says that, thought I would slip it in and see what response I get. If any).

Anyway, my father has fallen asleep in front of a very bizarre programme called Time Truck (I think) and my mother is all curled up in about eight different blankets. I'd best see if they're okay.

More on that story later.

Monday, August 14, 2006

How to make a mild strain feel like you are being stabbed with hot pokers and not in a good way

I coach gymnastics for three hours pretty much every Saturday morning. As part of my general aim to be fit and the fact that I did eventually sell my car for a whopping £30 (yeah baby, I think I should invest it in blue chip stocks - if I knew what they were), I walk to and from the sports centre which takes approximately 20 minutes.

Anyway, this weekend, when I left, the sky was a bit grey but it looked alright and seemed reasonably warm, so I popped on the t-shirt I'm supposed to wear to gym (it's a horrific turqoise colour but it's an airtex so is really comfy and it says COACH on it which makes me feel important) and wandered off. I don't have an umbrella and decided against a coat as it looked okay.

A few minutes into the walk, it started drizzling, which was annoying but I didn't mind too much because it was still quite mild. Then it started raining properlty. My hair, washed and dried that very morning, started clumping together in a highly attractive fashion. Then, halfway up the great big hill I have to walk up it started absolutely pizzing it down. I was in a quandry - I was wearing a new pair of trainers (I seem to be developing a worrying habit of buying lots of shoes at the moment) which didn't seem to me to have the best grips so I didn't want to start running up the hill and fall on my face. Which I probably would do just when someone I work with walked past. But I was also getting seriously, seriously drenched.

So I just kept walking until I reached the driveway then I ran the rest of the way and amazingly didn't fall over which is just as well as there were loads of builders doing things with machines (the gym has been a building site for the best part of a year and this was the first time I saw a single builder). When I walked through the door, dripping, the man at the desk laughed at me. Nice.

Anyway, I went in and did my coaching thing. Due to various issues (pregnancy, injuries etc) only myself and one other coach were able to actually do much in the way of physical supporting and we both joked we were going to be aching the following day. Particularly when demonstrating something with one of the kids I misjudged how much they weighed and held them up for quite some time. They weren't fat or anything, just a little bigger than the ones I normally demonstrate with. I immediately knew this was a mistake.

By the end of three hours, I was finally dry and we had seen some sun through the windows so I was optimistic about my walk home. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. It pissed down the whole way home. I stopped at the shoe shop on the way home cos there was a sale on sandals. Pah, call that a sale, it was only about a fiver off £45 shoes. I got some funny looks from the shopkeepers clearly thinking I hope that wet person doesn't come in here she'll leave marks on our carpets. So I obliged and went home, grumpy and wet.

I decided what I needed most was a nice hot bath. But I wanted it right now, so I switched the water heater on and started running the water. Unfortunately, my impatience meant that I ended up bathing in lukewarm water. Probably not the best idea.

Anyway, I woke up the following morning with the worst aches in my shoulders. I decided to forego my usual spinning class in favour of whinging while shopping - I had HF massaging my shoulders at every available opportunity, to the sound of anguished yelps.

When I got home, I had an actual hot bath which was just what the doctor ordered. I still ached a bit.

It wasn't until I woke up this morning and HF had already left for work that I remembered I still had most of a tube of Deep Heat I bought when that w$%£^r ran into the back of my car back in February giving me whiplash.

I'm such a big, hairy salmon.

More on that story later.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's true what they say...

I think I might be turning into my mother.

This isn't necessarily the worst thing in the world. My mum is pretty cool and I would count her as one of my best friends (I realise how lucky I am with this and how unusual it is). We always have something to talk about and we are completely easy in each other's company.

But still, it has come as something of a surprise. After all, she's 50something and I'm 24.

It was the other day, at about 12.30am that it struck me. I was sitting in the lounge, blogging furiously about nothing in particular. HF had gone to bed about an hour previously. I always found it sad that my parents didn't tend to go up to bed at the same time. There was one fairly good reason for this - my dad would reliably fall asleep in front of the television at about 9pm, wake briefly, have a cup of tea, then retire to bed properly at 11ish ready to get up at 7am sharp and do hard manual labour all day. My mum, however, rarely goes to bed before 1am and has been known to continue wandering round doing various bits and pieces until 3ish. As she didn't work for most of my childhood, or worked in jobs which started in the late morning or afternoon, there was never any real rush to get up bright and early. Certainly not once we were all old enough to get our lunches and get on the school bus without assistance.

So basically, my parents operate in slightly different time zones. And it seems it might be the same with me and HF. I mean, I have to be at work at 8.30am to 9am weekdays and due to various gym-related commitments am usually up reasonably early at weekends too. But HF, who is an archaeologist, pretty much always gets up before me, gives me a sleepy kiss goodbye and then I get up a bit later.

I also tend, if I get into a good book, just to keep reading it until either I finish it or I can't see properly anymore. Much like my mum. We've both taken to blogging in a pretty big way, and also, more recently, Flickr. Stupid spelling. When I read my mum's blog, I hear my voice echoed in hers, and I suspect it works both ways. And without disrespecting either HF or my Dad, we both run our respective households. Don't get me wrong, I'm not particularly houseproud - but it's me who knows how much money we've got in our joint account, me who pays the bills, me who takes the food out of the freezer for dinner and makes sure (well, most of the time) that we don't run out of milk or bread. If I let HF put all the food away, half of it goes in the wrong place. I know my Dad does this too. Out of curiosity, I asked HF if he knew where our joint cheque book was. He thought he did. He was wrong. In fact, having just conferred with him, I don't think he's ever written a cheque from it.

Tnis makes perfect sense in my mum's case, as she is at home far more than he is. But considering both me and Andy work full-time, plus I'm out at the gym up to five times a week, does it make so much sense for us? Have I just gravitated towards that role?

I keep the peace when HF goes mad (these days, mostly when he sees anything connected with Nikki off Big Brother) - my mum was the house peacekeeper too. We're both fairly amiable types who don't lose out tempers easily - but can get waspish if we're tired or grumpy, and if we do lose our tempers, you don't really want to be around.

I suppose the one main aspect of our characters that differs is ambition. Quite simply, my mum is, as far as I can tell, satisfied with her place in the world. She doesn't have any huge drive to succeed at anything (apart from maybe with music but that's slightly different) whereas I am very ambitious - not in a cut-throat couldn't care less about anyone else way, but I am determined to be the very best that I can, and I'm just about arrogant enough to believe that could be pretty damn good. In CV speak, I am always looking for the next challenge, but it's true, I hate being stuck in a rut.

If I'm going to turn into anyone, my mum's not such a bad person to become. But I'm certainly not going to give up on all that naked ambition, oh no. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy. But maybe not quite satisfied. Yet.

More on that story later.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

So it's just me then...

I've been demonstrating an admirable lack of finesse over the past few days.

Last night, when I came back from my pole-dancing class*, I decided to make some bread (v simple recipe I nicked off Chaucer's Bitch which takes no time at all). It being quite late I went up to bed and got undressed while it was baking. When the pinger went, I came downstairs and got the bread out. I had neglected to grease the tin so had to turn it upside down and shake it around to get it out. Being a bit sleepy (worn out from all the pole-dancing**) and exceptionally clumsy I somehow managed to push the burning hot bakinng tin against my naked boob. Today, I have a bright red triangular mark on my left boob.

okay, somehow I just deleted everything I had just written. How irritating.

Anyway, today, I was walking up the stairs to the library in a long skirt. Somehow, I managed to trip on the edge of the skirt, simultaneously losing my sandal and falling flat on my face. There were also two people on the stairs behind me, waiting patiently for me to get my fat arse out of the way. So elegant.

Not to mention the fact that we had to buy another cat food bowl the other day because I accidentally kicked into the wall one morning when I was going in search of food. It broke in half.

For a former gymnast I'm really bloody clumsy. I like to explain this by pointing out I'm very short-sighted before I put my lenses in in the morning, but at least one of these demonstrations of graceful deportment was when I had full vision availability. Oh well.

*It was for work, okay, fully clad and women only, pole-dancing for fitness. I have nothing more to say on the matter. Well, for now anyway.
**Actually, my biceps did ache a bit today.

More on that story later.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Guilty pleasures

I am sitting on my sofa watching Clueless. I realise this is not the coolest film - nor, I suspect, the wittiest dialogue, or best acting and direction. But it's one of those films that I can just watch again and again. Preferably with a large tub of Ben and Jerrys. Although, these days, it's more likely to be a carrot.

Add to that list of embarrassing but ace films Dirty Dancing, Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion, Bring it On, Save the Last Dance, Bridget Jones, Wimbledon and other such nonsense.

I don't really think of myself as a girlie girl but the above would seem to suggest otherwise. I can explain some of those because I love all that dancing and gymnastics, but I should have put some more cool films on that list. Is the Lost boys more cool? No? It's got Kiefer Sutherland in it, surely that gets some brownie points...

Anyway, I need to get back to Clueless, it's freakin' hilarious. I probably shouldn't say freakin' either. Oh well, who wants to be cool. I'm going in search of the Ben and Jerrys...

More on that story later.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Floaty nonsense dress

I may have mentioned something about a certain floaty nonsense dress that arrived in my wardrobe courtesy of TK Maxx. Anyway, this is me wearing it before my friend's engagement party. I think it looks pretty cool.

Here are the whole gang of us all dolled up ready for said party, I think we all looked very respectable - but check out John who doesn't possess any trousers apart from jeans. I mean, come on. He still looks quite smart though, although I think HF is distinctly uncomfortable with his wandering hand on his back.

Oh, and here's a pic of a firework I took at a posh garden party thing with opera other music, fireworks and rather sadly, Land of Hope and Glory which makes me want to take a stick to all music making material to just SHUT IT UP. I took about eight pictures, this was the only one which came out. But it is quite pretty.

More on that story later.

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Musings on weather

I've been looking up Thailand weather somewhat obsessively and have been somewhat frustrated by the fact that no-one seems to be able to agree when exactly the wet season is and how much of an effect it will have.

It made me think about the sort of weather expectations a visitor to the UK might have. A guidebook entry might read something like this:

Weather in the UK is divided into roughly four seasons, winter from December to February, spring from March to May, summer from June to August and autumn from September to November, although these dates change widely from year to year and are a subject of dispute.

August tends to be the hottest part of the year, with temperatures reaching usually up to the late 20s. However temperatures as high as 38 have been recorded. Sunshine generally only lasts for a few days at a time, at which point all overweight, middle-aged men start wandering around topless with their guts hanging out and ice cream vans appear on street corners. Many public buildings have no or inadequate air-conditioning and are ill-equipped to deal with the heat.

Spring and autumn tend to be mild but often suffer from heavy downpours, oppressive cloud cover and sometimes quite strong wind. Winter can get pretty cold but apart from in the north, snow is fairly infrequent although families cling on to the illusion of a "white Christmas". When it does snow, you can rest assured that trains will run irregularly, motorways and thoroughfares become clogged and accidents are frequent.

The weather in Britain is most distinctive in it's changeability - a day which starts with a steady downpour can end in sunshine and random rainstorms can be expected at any time of the year. You will be lucky indeed if your trip does not involve at least one day of solid rain and cloud, particularly if you decide to visit Wales. It is advisable to bring an umbrella whenever your trip is.

People in the UK like to talk about the weather and it is an accepted way to start a conversation with a complete stranger. Expect people who are complaining that the sun never shines to moan that it's too hot the following week.

I should point out this is all meant to be light-hearted and I do not intend to insult any particular area or group. I've never been on a trip to Wales when it hasn't rained, mind you.

Anyway, there may be some pictures up later (un-weather related). But there might not.

More on that story later.

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