Sunday, September 30, 2007

I Want a Refund for the Weekend

I have been home for a bit, and I'm still cross. This has been the weekend of refunds. Not straight-forward, easy refunds. But difficult ones with stroppy customers. But I kept my smile on and my teeth gritted. You'd be so proud.

It was 9.30am on Saturday morning. I was on Perfumery as a mobile. I hadn't had my second coffee of the day yet. A very sick girl came through and asked for some help doing a refund. To be helpful, I go off to the new and very spanky Skinspa area, formerly known as Ladies Toiletries. Well, they say no good deed goes unpunished, and this was no different. By the time I had finished with the customer, it was 10.15, I missed my break and I'd been up and down 3 flights of stairs 3 times. There is a happy ending, we did the refund and the customer was happy(er) than she was when she came into the shop. The problem arose in that she paid with cash and vouchers and wanted to be refunded in cash, she lived 53 miles away, there was no manager on floor to talk me through and authorise the procedure, the cash office were being difficult and security became involved. As I said that was fine in the end.

Today, I could have cheerfully slapped the customer. It's actually one of those situations whereby the more I think about it, the more annoyed I get. She bought a set of bed linen and picked the wrong type of pillowcase. She wanted to do a straight swap. Not a problem. But she didn't bring her receipt. When I realised she didn't have her receipt, I explained that I'd just need to call someone to authorise the exchange, which I did. She went off on one. She spent a hell of a lot of money in the store and couldn't believe the fuss to do the exchange. I did say to her, very calmly and politely that the exchange could be done, but I just needed the authorisation. The guy from furniture came over and showed me how to do it on the system and then signed the necessary bits of paper. She left muttering at me under her breath. Cow.

Mind you, it's probably Karma. Tuesday evening I get a phone call from Stella Smith, calling on behalf of Orange. Now Stella Smith, with a broad, New Dehli accent then proceeded to tell about my contract with O2 and how much more competitive Orange were; she called me on my landline. I'm ex-directory and I don't have the time or patience to sign up for the telephone preference thingy, telemarketers call me at their own peril. It might be just their job, but quite frankly I'm ex-directory for a reason and I don't see why I should have to take yet another step to guard my privacy. Anyway, to cut my rant short I say goodbye and hang up. I go into the O2 shop and relay this conversation to the taken-aback staff.

The fact of the matter is, my contract is with O2. The details of which I expect to be kept between O2 and myself. I realise now how naive I've been. My credit and commercial transactions are not private, they are a commodity to be traded between companies and government organisations. If I want these to remain private, I'd have to live in a field somewhere with no bank account and no telecommunication. Which of course isn't possible. I like my plastic and the comfort of my planet eating ways, not to mention flushing toilets. I especially like flushing toilets. At the end of my rant, I was told my the glazed shop girl to take it up with Customer Services. Great. I wonder how much action I'd get at the end of that £1.50 a min conversation?

Friday, September 28, 2007

XBox Orphan

I am such a good mum. I earned serious Brownie points on Tuesday evening. For the past 18 months Boy has been putting money away like a miser for the event to end all events - the launch of Halo 3. He's only had it on order for the past 6 months and I suspect some where in the depths of his bedroom is a calendar with the days marked off until its release.

Tuesday evening he puts himself to bed at 8pm, and amazingly gets some sleep before I wake him up at 11pm. We walk into the city, through the dark, damp streets to Game, to join about 100 other boys of varying ages. The night is a rich smell of adolescent, excited male sweat. Serious gamers obviously don't believe in the application of soap, water or anti-perspirant. In that throng I was woman number 3. When the shop finally opened the doors, the orderly queue disintegrated into a scrum as gamers pushed for pole position. The staff kindly opened the doors half an hour before release time so we could get out of the cold and wet. So we all got to dry off in the warm. Think of wet dog, many apologies to Murph, but these lads smelt worse. At this point, you have to bear in mind I'd been up at 7am, put in a full day at work on the shop floor and I was pretty knackered. Midnight came with cheers and many lunging for the tills, where staff offered standard and limited editions of Halo 3, there were strategy guides, posters, t-shirts, special editions of the console and controllers, as well as dodgy figurines. People were leaving with bags and bags full of stuff. It took another quarter of an hour before Boy got to the till.

Boy: I'd like Halo 3

Till Girl: (looking panicked)

Me: It's alright, I'm the responsible adult

Till Girl: It is a 15 game.

Me: I know.

Till Girl: I've got to tell you, it has violence, scenes of a gorey nature and general bad behaviour.

Boy: Oh no. Bad behaviour like spitting on the floor and swearing?

Till Girl (trying to keep a straight face): Right, you're all paid up. I have to give the game to you (hands game to me).

On the way back, I tell Boy if he pulls a sickie between now and his birthday I will confiscate Halo 3 until he goes back to school. He thinks that's harsh, but fair. Unfortunately for him, last night he starts coming down with a cold. He's got a cough that would make a 40-a-day smoker proud, but he got himself out of the house, promising that even if he broke his leg, he would still get his butt to school on time. Bless.

Viking has come over for a few days. We were chatting about the Tuesday night event and he shook his head sadly at me as we walk in from the city to the flat in the late afternoon.

Viking: You're too soft with him and his XBox useage you know.

Me: Yeah, I know, but he likes it and he's not falling behind in his schoolwork.

Viking: I just don't think so much XBox is good for him.

Me: The game has just come out, I've taken steps to ensure he doesn't take the piss. He'll be fine.

We get home. Boy is playing Halo 3.

Boy: I'm on XBox Live, want to play?

Viking: Oh yeah!

Now as I type this my son, his friend and my lover are now blowing the bejesus out of each other. I'm on my own. *sigh*

Sunday, September 23, 2007

92 Days to Christmas

I'm a mobile at the moment. This week I've worked in Fashion Accessories, Linens and Soft Furnishings, Clearance Shop and the Christmas Shop. On Monday I did everything but the Christmas Shop and it was not a good day. Linens turned out to be an expensive way to spend 7.5 hours on a Saturday, I ended up buying new bedding for me, and I've seen new bedding for Boy as well. Ouch. The bedding is gorgeous, thick cotton sheets, chocolate with a flowery pattern. Pretty, but not overly feminine. My bed looks great. I can't wait to get into it tonight.

Today, I was in the Christmas Shop. Now, those of you who have been with me for some time, will remember I am not over-infused with the Christmas Spirit. Fa-la-la-la-la-fuck-off, is more my attitude to Christmas and today hasn't helped. Calendars, cards, cute decorations, decorative bags, candles all wanting a home by 24th December. Hello, it's not even October.

But it's not been a total loss. I've had quite an amusing day working with a guy who is incredibly sweet, and very good looking. He's all of 21 and he's got the hearts of every single teenage/twenty something girl in a twitter. They've been finding excuses to 'drop by' all day, which is ever so sweet. He's a lovely lad, but a bit unaware of it at times. He's just trying to be nice to everyone, and I suspect it's going to back fire on him big time. The girl's claws are out behind the scenes as they vie for pole position. He's not particularly looking for a relationship at the moment and should he settle down with a girl from work, there's bound to be aggro.

It's quite interesting watching this drama unfurl while straightening up plastic-wrapped cards for the umpth time, I wonder if he realises how much of a confuffle he's causing. But to be fair, it's not his fault. He's just a nice guy, with a better than average face and not enough ego to really work it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Blessings for Mabon

As the Wheel of the Year turns to it's climax, pagans everywhere (and most of the population) are lamenting the loss of summer and pulling out the woolies for the winter ahead. Last night the Norwich Chant Collective had a small gathering in a roundhouse in the middle of a North Norfolk field to celebrate the festival of Mabon.

Mabon is essentially the last harvest festival of the year, and one of the things that we really like to do is celebrate with wine, women and song (and lashings of homemade carrot cake and buns). We spent a bit of time reflecting on the year and our triumphs and defeats. And I've continued the reflection into today. For the first time in about 4 months I went for a bus ride.

I suppose I haven't really had the time to have a good ponder for ages. I've been rushing around like a mad thing, spinning plates and ignoring my kitchen. Things have been changing and I haven't really had a chance to get to grips with all the new stuff and the old stuff still hanging around.

I finished my degree and I'm about to start my MA. I feel a definite shift about my creative stuff. As far as my writing is concerned I'm a writer without a book to write. I can't find an idea that I can really commit to, which is pretty pants quite frankly. My poetry, I'm a bit slack on at the moment, but that's fine, I still jot ideas down. My photography is going really well and I can see the difference in the quality of images I'm taking, and equally importantly, I'm developing a critical eye which is all stuff to bring into the degree.

This has been the summer of weddings. As you know my friend Alix married, my Viking's cousin married and about 10 days ago an Ex of mine also got married. It's always a bit weird when an ex gets married, and you're not. It's not that I wish him ill, or we broke up badly, because neither is true. Nor is it that I'm dropping hints at my Viking either. *Viking stop panicking*. I think it's more to do with the fact that I feel I've been drifting a bit in the last few months.

Last year I gave up having Big Plans. I decided to just see what happens. So, what happened? I got my degree and kept my sanity (just), I've been in a very satisfactory relationship, my Boy has grown as tall as me, my Pops died, I got a job I really enjoy. Not in that order or priority. I've also realised that as much as I would have liked to have had more children, that part of my life is done. Which has made me start to think about the life I would like to lead. In 4 years time, my Boy is going to up sticks and head off to university to become a vet. I'm going to become essentially, footloose and fancyfree. Last year I was thinking about moving down to London; that I shelved simply because I had a hell of a year and I just didn't feel up to it. I always think to live in London well, you have to be a very robust person. The pace is relentless. So I could think about moving down to London in 4 years time. But to do what?

I was also thinking about journeys on a bigger scale. There would be no reason why I couldn't go travelling. I could rent my flat out and hit the trail. Perhaps I could land a syndication in a broadsheet and a publishing deal to write about my experiences. Well, the stuff of dreams, but then as the saying goes, stranger things happen at sea. I don't know.

I do know that the future starts in this moment, in how I live my life now. My impetus as ever, is that I live well. For me living well means being engaged in the moment, finding the joy and pleasure in the situations that life brings. I have found this way of living to be the most fulfilling. It might be hedonistic and slightly selfish, but I've decided that I shall be like Magick and follow the path of least resistance.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stayin Alive

No, I haven't dropped off the edge of the world. I've been doing a 4 day stint per week and it's killing me; even if it is fun and highly entertaining. I've basically ignored my kitchen and laundry for two weeks. When I finish my 4 days this week, I have another 4 days next week and then I'll be starting my proper, regular employment as well as college. Coupled with low energy levels since I came back from Trinidad, life has felt a bit like hard work recently.

I'm also a bit nervous about the MA. Not quite sure why, I obviously wasn't worrying about it when I was filling in the application form. I'm just worrying about it now. I'm hoping I will like the people on the course with me. I'm hoping even more that they will be the sort of people who are interested, engaged and prepared to invest their energy. See, I am an optimist.

I've also found my social skills are being challenged somewhat of late; bearing in mind that basically, I have none. I'm blunt and straight to the point. I despise game playing and social fannying about. If someone has a problem with me, I'd rather they say so to my face rather than whinge about the situation behind my back. It seems that because I'm working in a department store and easily accessible people think they can sound off on their personal lives. Which is a bit off-pissing when they then get stroppy with me because I'm only interested in the social niceties. This has happened to me twice, the second time yesterday, when an innocent enquiry after wife and children led to the history of his drinking problem and the fact he's back living with his parents, and how come I didn't know that and had to ask difficult questions?

Perhaps I should start going to their place of work and off-loading my personal life? See how they like that. Next time I won't bother to ask 'how are you?', maybe I'll just say 'hi' and leave it at that.

I will just share this with you. This happened to me Saturday and even if I sat at my PC for two days straight with a bottle of red, I would have never believed that it could happen.

I get into work (on time) at 9.30. I move over to the men's section to straighten up and just check that all is well with testers etc. I try to begin my working day checking out the stock because there are so many new lines coming in at the moment, things get moved around, squished about and I need to know where things are for when the customers ask. It also means I can do my own thing and look busy while being fairly unsociable and brain dead first thing.

9.45 an elderly gentleman walks towards me and asks my assistance. He was tall, dressed in a green tweed jacket, white polo neck jumper and a cane. The hair on his head had obviously slipped down to cover the front of his face. In other words he was very attractive - not. He wanted to try the whole range of Bulgari fragrances, he had a sample given to him earlier in the week, which he left at home. Very useful, especially since he can't remember the name of the fragrance he liked and wanted to purchase. So we work our way through the line, me spraying the fragrance onto cardboard testing strips and handing them to him. Half way through the process he turns to me opens his jacket, flasher fashion and says:

"I put some under my armpits. Perhaps you could have a smell and see which fragrance it is."

Not being funny or anything, but I get paid minimum wage. That's £5.40 an hour to sell fragrances to joe bloggs. I am not paid enough to go sniffing some old geezer's armpits. If Jason Statham turned up with the same request, my response would be the same.

"I'm sorry, no. I won't."

As I was declining this dubious pleasure a flash of movement by his ear caught my eye. It was a small, black spider busily crawling it's way back up the side of his ear.

I wonder in which reality it's appropriate to ask shop floor staff to sniff your armpits? Because it sure as hell isn't appropriate in mine.

Friday, September 14, 2007

There is a God, and She is Good...

*Big Girlie Scream*

Right. Now I've got that out of the way, I'll behave with the decency and decorum you've all come to expect.

*Big Girlie Scream*

How chuffed was I when I went into work today and The Buyer gave us a copy of an e-mail saying the Miller Harris lady said those who had her training yesterday could have a fragrance of choice? Until I realised I would have to chose.

Eeek! Too much choice. Yesterday, I wore Geranium Bourbon and loved it to bits, it's floral without being sweet; sophisticated and not a scent to be worn lightly. I won't link the individual fragrances as I normally do, I've added a new section in my link lists and if you feel moved, you can visit the website. Today, I wore their Tangerine Vert. Fresh, vibrant and sweetly citrus. The only problem is that it's very moreish; I'm sure people thought I was mad, I couldn't stop sniffing my wrists. As I type this I'm sniffing them still.

Before I go any further, many thanks to Samantha for introducing me to a poverty-inducing, fabulous range of fragrances. Even more thanks for my amazing treat and for coming by and commenting. Please feel free to pop by and have a coffee any time.

This is also Alix's day. Her two years of hard work doing the MA in Digital Art (the one I'm about to start) has paid off and she has got a Distinction. We are so incredibly proud of her. So Big Up Alix! It's been an amazing summer for her marriage, now distinction and then off to London (boo hiss for the last one) to seek her fortune.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dear Sir...

I'd like to begin by voicing my appreciation of your support during my lean years. Lacking a trampoline, I practice my bouncing on my overdraft, it's useful exercise and ultimately gives the girls in your letter sweatshop something to do. After all, printing off standard snotty letters to me, must be the highlight of their day. Many thanks for the credit card, for every time I pay it off and it spends a month lonely and pining in my drawer, it comes out and plays with me at least 20 times. Thanks to it's company, I can pay my fees for another 2 years of study. Although my credit limit is indeed scary and more than the cost of a brand new car, I treat it with the same respect as an over-ripe banana.

Today, at work I received training for Miller Harris fragrances. Please sir, I know you are a busy man, but bear with me, the point is this: I would like to beg, borrow or steal a small fortune so that I can purchase for my ownsome these amazing perfumes. Lyn Harris, their creator is the only female classicly trained 'nose' in Britain. She spent 5 years training in Grasse, France, the capital of perfume. Now based in London she creates her fragrances out of moments of pleasure and bottles them for her delighted customers. These are not chavvy perfumes, nor are they mass market dross. They are expensive because they use the best natural and ethically sourced ingredients possible. She lingers months and years over her works of art. And they are works of art; to be appreciated and adored.

I would like to support this family run, small business fight off the mass market, huge corporations that claim to offer quality and offer pong instead.

Waiting in anticipation for your positive response,

Roses

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Keeping Myself in the Manner to Which...

Did I tell you I was very naughty while I was in duty-free? Oh yes, I am a bad, bad girl. For I bought a bottle of Hermes Un Jardin en Mediteranee. Forgive me, oh bank manager, I know not what overcame me. Why I needed this bottle of fragrance to keep the other 8 bottles company, I'll never know. But damn, it smells good!

Monday was my first day back at work. I probably had about 3 hours of sleep and was feeling like a dog's dinner. But one of the things I'm learning about sleep deprivation is the more disturbed nights you have, the more you get used to functioning without. So I put on my slap and managed to get in 5 mins late, but all was well. I'd been away for two weeks and the first part of the morning was spent trying out the new fragrances which have snuck in while I wasn't looking. The new Prada fragrance Infusion d'Iris had pride of place, as did the new line to us: Miller Harris. Oh my goodness, so many new scents to try, so little time.

Infusion d'Iris is a bit of an 'old' scent, but I lurve it. I wore it all day and was really pleased with it. It's got strong hints of Iris which contributes to the 'old' flavour, I suppose I should be really saying 'classic' instead of 'old'. I think it's divine.

I also had the pleasure of sniffing Gwen Stefani's offering L.A.M.B. We are currently offering it with a free gift, a gold plastic, square cut bracelet, for size zero models. Ummm...I'm searching for the right words to describe this celebrity fragrance...bear with me. I was reading in a weekend magazine that celebrity fragrance tends to be simple scents, with one or two main ingredients, and are produced within very tight time frames. These tend to appeal to the younger end of the market. The more classic fragrances are blended with expensive ingredients, multiple scents and take several years to develop. Ultimately, the attention to detail shows. In 5 years time, who will be parting with good cash for Shh...? Anyway, I digress. L.A.M.B...it's a foul, chavvy perfume. I've tried, but I really can't come up with a better way to describe it. Gwen Stefani is a beautiful striking woman, but she chose her marketing of this product on a really off day. Keep making music and stay out of perfuming. Please.

And by the way, as Norwich's independent department store, we have certain standards to maintain, and no, we aren't ever, in any lifetime, going to be stocking Jordan's fragrance. I fear I'm turning into snobby, orange, department store woman.

Ah yes and I have news. Alix and her husband are off to the Big Smoke to pursue groovy careers in film and art and generally to be fabulous luvvies. Great for them, but I'm going to miss them. Humpf. However, this means that there is a staff vacancy. The Buying Manager came over to me second thing Monday to not only offer me Alix's hours, but another day as well! I'm so chuffed. It means regular employment and although I'll lose my flexible working, that's 3 days a week as a fully paid up, member of staff. I'll be taking on Alix's house as well as taking on another house of fragrances. So more lots more responsibility, but more perks too. And funnily enough, no mention has been made about my nose stud.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Setting the World to Rights

Many thanks to Sanddancer for her accurate diagnosis, she's absolutely right, it's post-holiday blues. I'm just not ready to face real life at the moment. After 2 weeks in the sun, sea and sand, Norfolk feels a bit drab and cold in comparison. Mind you, whenever I go back to Trinidad, I always end up wondering what it would be like living there again. Not that it's at all feasible. I have no career and no money and I'd need oodles of both to even think about going back. Besides, as expensive as it will be funding Boy's education - he wants to be a vet, like his uncle Atlas, it will still be more affordable if we're living in England.

It's weird really. I've spent a lot of time thinking about the future recently. A bit of handy mathematics reminds me that in 13 years time, I'll be 50 and Boy will be 26. Obvious really, but I tend not to think this way normally. In 5 years time, he'll be packing his bags and going off to uni. That is, if he manages to resist the siren-call of drink, drugs, girls and ASBOs. I wonder what he'll be like as an 18 year old, all big and hairy. At the moment he's taking great pride in rubbing in the fact that he's now as tall as me. He's done a heck of a lot of growing in a very short space of time. I haven't seen Kevin yet, but there's time. I still get my cuddles and we have been playing Oblivion together in the evenings.

While I was in Trinidad, I spent a lot of time with my brother's friends who've got kids just a bit younger than Rowan. I had a bit of a revelation, which I'm beginning to think explains quite a lot of what's going wrong in the world today. Parents are terrified of telling their kids 'No'.

I think it happened with the 60s generation. After the austerity of the war years and the heavy-handed parenting of that generation, the backlash was more permissive parenting. Books on childrearing became popular, parents became insecure about their abilities and began to seek out expert advice. The experts cautioned against physical discipline, after all, no one has good memories of being hit as a child and unfortunately, there are still far too many appalling cases of physical abuse. I suppose that generation realised that it is possible to walk away from dysfunctional families and did. I suspect this realisation haunted them and made them insecure, so gradually became more and more loathe to correct their children's behaviour. Coupled with two working parents and guilt offerings society has created a rod for everyone's back that ASBOs really aren't going to solve.

I believe children need boundaries. I don't believe that boundaries have to be enforced physically, kids aren't stupid and understand far more than parents give them credit. I quite like the idea of the Super Nanny way of 'no', explanation, and then naughty step.

I think parents forget that kids want their parents to love them as much as they love them. Good behaviour reinforces the parent/child bond and enables more fun to be had on both sides.

By the way, I'm not putting myself forward as the ideal parent. I fully expect that Boy will spend his time on a therapist's couch regalling them with countless tales of my many failings. The one thing I take comfort in is the fact that even when we fall out, or disagree, Boy knows I love him very, very much.

Well, that's my tuppenceworth...what do you think?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Best Foot Forward

My father being an airline pilot and living in Singapore, meant I spent much of my childhood in big aircraft of many descriptions. I don't actually like flying. In fact, I've developed a real loathing of it. Just goes to show familiarity breeds contempt. I suppose part of it is that as I get older, I travel less well, I get very jet lagged.

Since getting home, I can honestly say, I've not been feeling great. The time difference has buggered my sleeping patterns, and I feel wrecked. Fortunately, I planned for this and haven't accepted any work until next week Monday. In the meantime, there's loads of stuff I should be cracking on with, but am ignoring for the moment.

Boy's gone off to school today, looking a bit tired, but rather cute, if I don't say so myself. While I was away I took lots of pictures with my new camera, I thought most of them weren't up to much. But yesterday, when I went along to see Jerry, the photographer I'm doing some work with, when we had a look at them, I was pleasantly surprised. Of course there were some rubbish ones, but in the main, they were pretty good. I'll post some on Picassa and drop the link, when I've got a moment today.

It's been great working with Jerry. He's given me the basics of the technique of photography and some Photoshop tutorials. We've done some stunning work together and I'm really pleased with what I've done so far. I'm hoping my new Course Leader will think so; we're going to try and meet up over the next few weeks. My MA doesn't kick off until October, so I've got some time yet. What took me by surprise is that Jerry suggested I submit the images to interior design websites to sell them. I need to get onto the college macs before I even think of doing that and I'm not allowed into the suites until I'm signed in properly.

Actually, I really have very little to whinge about. I don't know why I tried to start. Humpf.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Back to Life

We're baaaak! Did you miss me? I'm still on Trinidadian time and traumatised by our journey back. You will remember that when we departed there was a lovely hurricane called Dean creating havoc? The day before departure, we all head down south to my brother's estate in Mayaro. I get organised and leave one of our suitcases behind with K, who we've organised to get a lift to Piarco International Airport. As we make our way eastwards, we're listening to storm warnings. There's a tropical storm brewing in the Atlantic called Felix. Joy. There is rain, wind, lightning and thunder, but then, it is rainy season and it's well named. Though the really nice thing about tropical weather is that once it's finished tipping it down, the sun comes up. None of this grey-for-weeks nonsense like you get here.

Saturday
8am - get up have breakfast. Make farewell calls to various branches of family. Head their warnings about Felix and ring the airport to be informed that all is well and situation normal.

11.15 - set off to airport.

12.50 - arrive in airport. Book in on earlier flight, as we've done better time on the roads.

13.30 - take off from Piarco International in the tiny island hopper. I'm gripping the armrests of the seats in preparation for the turbulence we are told to expect. What a disappointment. Not even a bump. The landing was an 8.5. Waiting for the luggage takes longer than the flight over.

14.30 - go to check-in and start to queue. One of the people in the queue says the dreaded 'D' word. Sure enough the rude staff confirm, the plane hasn't yet left London, is due to take off any minute now, should be in by 11.30, due to depart Tobago 1.30 Sunday.

15.15 - complete check-in process and search for misplaced sense of humour. Go back to bookshop who is prepared to let me buy and return books, choose 2 rubbish books. Return to restaurant buy beer and coke.

16.00 - head to Storebay to have a look around for last minute shopping and scout out places to eat later. We are accosted by a guy flogging glass-bottom boat trips. Haggle. Wait until 17.00 and go out to Pigeon Point Coral Gardens and the Nylon Pool. We had to be lifted in and out of the boat because we were in our travelling gear. For the first part of the journey we sat on the top of the boat, got deafened by the reggae, and took in the sights. It was cool and the colour of the water was amazing. Yes, we would have seen more in the underneath, but it was good to be outside. When we got to the Nylon Pool it started to rain, so we went underneath while everyone else dived in and swam around. By this time the sun was coming down and the rain was quite insistent. The trip back wasn't that great, the seas were more rough and the boat wallowed around like a duchess in a Victorian swimming cossie. We landed in Storebay in complete darkness, but hale and hearty.
19.30 - find a 'French' cafe, part of a chain that operates in Trinidad and Tobago. The waitress' face says closed, but has a lovely smile. We order a cheese burger, with fries and chicken Parmesan and pasta. It's a good meal. The restaurant has a telly showing the Sound of Music with subtitles. We push our luck there until 20.30 where we head to the main restaurant and bar at the airport. By the way, everything mentioned here is literally 5 mins walking distance.

20.30 - Talk to another rude member of staff and find out plane is now not scheduled to arrive until 1.45. Estimated time of departure is now 3.30. Flurries of texts between myself and Viking, who said he'd come pick us up at the airport. Bearing in mind it's his day off, he's got to drive down from the North to Gatwick and drive us back to Norfolk, it's in the back of my mind that I'm pushing my luck a bit. Our arrival time was supposed to be 8.55, Sunday morning, now it was 18.30.

22.30 - get kicked out of the main bar and find out that the plane has to stop at Antigua for refuelling. Arrival time now 19.15. I've read 3/4 of first book. We go into the departure lounge where we are offered two bottles of free drink. The lounge is heavily air conditioned and there's some football match being played on the telly at a ridiculous volume. The woman who gives us the drink does not reply when I ask whether it's possible for her to turn it down, she just gives me a funny look and gestures to another more sparsely furnitured lounge. Boy stretches out and goes back to sleep.

Sunday
00.30 - Boy wakes up. I'm nearly finished the second book. I finish it and re-read the bits that amuse me. When I go the washrooms through the other lounge, I leave the books on a table. There are people asleep in hard plastic chairs, on the carpeted floor; we are all refugees here.

1.45 - The plane finally arrives. There is a flurry of activity on the tarmac as bleary passengers and their luggage are offloaded. People start waking up and moving about. Boy and I have a half-hearted game of Eye-Spy. There are several bouts of rain and high winds. There are rumours that the delay is caused by Felix growing up into a hurricane.

3.00 - We are so bored now, our humour turns inappropriate. We try to see who can fart the loudest and smelliest. Boy wins, though I've given him a good run for his money.

3.20 - We finally board the plane, Boy and I are aggressive in our queueing. We are fed up with the staff issuing the same instructions to keep our passports open at the picture page and our boarding passes immediately at hand. She says 'boogie' instead of 'buggy' when instructing parents to have the contraption folded before they approach the departure point. We only laugh the first 5 times. When we get on board, we negotiate so he can have the window during take off and landings.

4.00 - The plane takes off and heads towards Antigua. It turns out that the plane that should have been making the run failed it's maintenance check and Excel had to pull one of the planes from their European leg to make the trip down to Tobago instead. The staff on-board more than made up for the rudeness of the ground staff. They were genuinely helpful, polite and considerate. Nothing was too much trouble. I managed to sleep for most of the trip, Boy didn't seem to be able to get comfortable.

19.15 - Land at Gatwick. Get text from Viking to say he's waiting in arrivals for us.

19.45 - Get hugged and have massive Public Display of Affection with my Viking. We agree food is in order. Apparently road works means the traffic is diabolical. Viking says he'll stay the night and go to work from mine. I am relieved.

23.30 - Get home to a happy cat and pristine flat...or was that the other way round.

I'm really glad we went. It turned into a proper holiday for us in the end and it was great to see everyone. Unfortunately, all the good food forced upon has completely undone all the good work of the last month, but I don't regret it. Not one morsel. There's just more of me to love.