Sunday, April 24, 2011

Getting Back on the Horse (again)

How goes it with your New Year's resolutions people? Mine have been an epic fail for the last four weeks. Epic Fail.

In the last four weeks, my Davina dvds have been languishing on my shelves, my meditation cushion has been un-sat upon and my lungs have been wheezing like a blacksmith's bellows. I'm going to give myself a break here. The last four weeks have not exactly been problem or Drama-free, shall we say. That said, I suspect the Drama has only just begun to unfold and I need to be fighting fit for it.

I saw a magnet recently that stated:

I tried to drown my sorrows, but the little suckers learnt to swim!

And so, I try again. I have limits about the exercise regime I can embark upon because I'm off to London for 10 days. That's fine. I'll do some before I go and get stuck in on my return. I dusted off my meditation cushion and planted my backside upon it. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's true what they say about meditation, it really does make a difference. It gives the chattering monkeys in my head something else to do and gives me a welcome break.

I know how much better I felt for trying and doing. I know who I want to be and I know how I want to feel. This isn't it. Lungs full of sludge, feeling dumping and lethargic. So, I can whinge or I can get back on the damn horse until I learn how to ride it.

Excuse me, I've got to go put some riding boots on.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sunny Daze

Ladies and Gentlemen, the sun is shining!

Yes, you read right: the sun is shining and it's warm out there. It's been a glorious week and the optimistic amongst us will be expecting it to continue for the next few days.

Because this is the British Isles, you have to assume that this week has in fact been, Summer. There are absolutely no guarantees that this weather will continue much past Wednesday. Therefore, you have to make the most of it. Given the vagaries of the weather here, I think that sunny days like these should be automatically turned into holidays. Everyone, should shut up shop and get out into the sunshine. Either that, or we switch to working nights. I floated the idea around work, surprisingly, it got no support from The Management. I wonder why?

Personally, I think it's the End of the World (as we know it). For years, the British weather has run on the following rules:

  1. The weather is glorious for a maximum of 2 weeks in a calendar year
  2. The weather is glorious from Sunday evening (preferably 7 pm) to 11 o'clock Friday morning, when it clouds over, pisses it down and the temperature drops by 10'C
  3. Bank Holidays are cold, grey and damp.
You're beginning to see now, why the British are obsessed by the weather forecast. It's a prime example of the triumph of hope over experience.

I have therefore learnt to take every given opportunity to lie out in the sunshine. Friday afternoon, was the first day I have been able to lie out in any sunshine since I left Trinidad, 7 months ago. Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been 7 months since I have been able to wear just one layer of clothes and for it not to be thermal. It has been 7 months since I've been able to walk barefoot; to feel grass between my toes.

I know I'm over-using 'glorious' to describe this sensation, but it just seems to fit so well.

In order to prepare my body for the shock of feeling fresh air on bare skin, I indulged in a major pamper session last night. I shaved, exfoliated, moisturised and then applied the Dove body lotion with self-tan.

Today, the Manbabe and I went off to Waxham Beach. We'd floated the idea of going to the beach yesterday. I toyed with the idea of going to Cromer, which is a holiday town on the Norfolk Coast. The problem with that of course, is that every-bugger-else in Norfolk will also have the same idea. I've lived in two holiday towns and I've yet to get over the shudder of horror at the invasion of the masses. Before anyone thinks it, yes, I'm fully aware that these towns need the income these invasions bring. I don't have to like it.

Waxham Beach is a vast expanse of sand, rolling dunes/sea defences and the North Sea. I got moving early and drove us there before anyone else had the same idea. We stretched out on the picnic rug and gently baked for about 3 hours. Glorious. For once, the temperature on the Coast was not 5'C cooler than Norwich. The gentle breeze was enough for me not to get hot and sweaty.

My skin eats British sun for breakfast and asks for seconds. I can lie out for hours without any change in colour. I've yet to burn in this climate. I think if we had stayed longer at the beach, today might have been the exception to the rule. My shoulders have definitely picked up some colour. Though, my legs continue to be paler than Jersey Cream. Thank goodness for self-tan. I don't know why my legs never brown. In Trinidad, I used to lie half in the shadows, with my legs in the full mid-day sun and they still never went brown. Humpf.

On the off-chance that we have more than one week of this weather, I'm going to invest in some good sun-screen. You can tell I'm an optimist, can't you?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Going with the Flow

Ladies and Gentlemen, it's been quite a weekend. So much so, I'm really not over-enamoured with Monday. Bleugh.

It's funny, the weekend had some serious Flow about it. Friday, as I was walking up the road to the Supper Club, I bumped into the son of a friend of an acquaintence. He's a good looking lad in his mid-twenties, the sort that makes fathers of teenage daughters reach for their shotguns. He was going in the opposite direction to the pub. We stopped and exchanged small talk and then he complimented me on my appearance and offered to buy me a pint should I end up in the pub. Talk about being good for my ego.

I called into the Tesco's Express for a bottle of red wine, and as I was queuing (and shamelessly ear-wigging the mobile phone conversation of the guy behind me) a guy paid for his bag of shopping and walked out. The shop assistant called after him. He'd forgotten to take his credit card out of the machine-dohickie, but he was focussed and out the door without hearing her. The duude (surfer shorts, flip-flops and long, stringy pony tail) in the queue in front of me said 'shall I give him his card?', he took the card from the assistant and legged it out the door. By this time, we in the queue are craning our necks looking to see a) if the duude would catch the guy or b) if he'd leg it. The guy behind me ended he call and we watched the duude sprint after the guy. He tapped him on his shoulder, handed him the card. There was much grateful gesticulation on his part. The duude came back, took his place in the queue like nothing happened.

Norwich, the finest city in the world, where a stranger would return a piece of plastic to it's rightful owner.

The Unthank Supper Club was great. It's such a great mix of people. You're never sure who will turn up for the feast. This month there was a fantastic mix of ages. I sat opposite a yoga teacher, her teenage daughter next to her, with her father in his mid-sixties on my left. They were a complete scream. We just never stopped talking. The food....Let me tell you about the food. Let me make you salivate.

To start with: aubergine kookoo. A tartin made from aubergine (duh) and egg. It was topped with wild garlic yogurt and salsa verde. The garlic would ensure no self-respecting vampire would approach me for a week. It was so, sooo yummy.

For the main there were two English, spring lamb chops coated with paprika and cumin salt served with shredded beetroot and yogurt dressing, chick pea puree and mustard leeks. You remember me telling you I was going to have my braces adjusted earlier on Friday morning. It wasn't particularly painful this time round and I had no trouble with the lamb. It just fell off the bone. I savoured every mouthful. So, sooo yummy.

To finish there were Rhubarb petit mon blancs with raspberry marshmallow and whipped cream. Now people who know me, are well aware that there are two foods I don't willingly eat: fennell and rhubarb. When I started going to the Unthank Supper Club, I put my likes and dislikes to one side. The idea was for me to have different culinary experiences. I was going to try everything. And I'm so glad I did. Think filled merengues that dissolve on the tongue. The rhubarb was really tasty and didn't require me shaving my teeth after. My mother would have been very proud of me. I resisted the urge to lick my plate. Oh it was good. Note to self: next time, wear elasticated trousers.

Saturday afternoon, Gee's family and I invaded her bruv's. We had tea, home made cake and a whole lot of fun. There was much laughter and many hugs. I am so blessed to be surrounded by so much love and laughter.

As for Saturday evening, what can I say? The movie was an interesting choice, I wouldn't have gone to see it otherwise and it was quite good. There is much to recommend about it. I enjoyed The Man's company greatly. He's a blast from my past (the best-friend of an ex. Welcome to Norwich where every one has probably rented out the same house at some point and people are two degrees of separation), so we had much to catch up on. He said he'd call during the week (oh yeah) and he texted me Sunday afternoon. So...as the prophet says - we'll see.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Say 'Cheeeeeese'

Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm a bit fragile this morning. I look ahead at the weekend and realise I'm just going to have to Man-the-fuck-Up and get used to it. This weekend, I actually have a social life. I hope you were sitting down when you read that and didn't hurt yourself in the resulting shock of reading that sentence. Yes, it is indeed true.

Last night, I went drinking with Boy's Lovely's mum (still with me?). Boy's Lovely's mum is as lovely as Boy's Lovely. It's obviously genetic. After celebrating a very self-congratulatory Mother's Day together, we thought it would be great to have a self-congratulatory drink. It involved the pub up the road and cider. I need say nothing more on the subject. You can fill in the appropriate blanks with the knowledge that the end of the evening did not involve drunken texts or bail money. I behaved myself.

Tonight, I'm off to the Unthank Supper Club to be dined, with wine and good company. This is a measure of my optimism at the moment, for today I had my braces adjusted. The orthodontist, who with what he lacks in social niceties, makes up with gentleness and soothing noises, tells me as I arrive that 'today we will be doing some inter-dental stripping'.

The sadist.

I pointed out to him my slightly delicate state and that I didn't see how taking my clothes off in the surgery would benefit the straightening of my teeth. I think he's getting used to me. He merely smiled. He informed me that it involved shaving millimetres of my row of bottom teeth. I pointed out my slightly delicate state. Three halves of cider really doesn't make me feel up to anything the next morning (yes, I'm a lightweight). He says lie back and think of England, it's like energetic flossing.

Before I die, I will master the one-raised-eyebrow trick, I swear I will.

Basically, he took an emery board to the front teeth on my lower jaw. There was no pain involved, I'm happy to say. I suspect he did more plaque, than enamel removal, but hey, what do I know? I'm not the expert. The great news is: it's not long now!

It's not long now before my Hollywood smile becomes a reality! Whoop whoop! If I can get the end date out of him, I'll book some time with my dental hygenist and get my teeth whitened as soon as possible (if not on the same day). So, I'm quite excited. Not that you can tell by looking at me.

Saturday involves some socialising with Gee's bruv and family and then, I'm off to see a film at Cinema City. With a man (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). I'm going to have to drive so it'll be a dry experience. Which is just as well. My liver is out of practice.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

MCW - Best Movie shot in Space

Please excuse me taking liberties with this week's meme. Being a big fan of SciFi, the choice is an endless one for me: Lost in Space, 2001 a Space Odessy, Star Trek (all of them), Star Wars (not mentioning the prequels), Alien(s), Space Balls, AvP (if we must). But when I visited the fabulous Ms Boxer this morning to remind myself what we were doing today, she (and Princess) have gone a bit retro.

This got me thinking about The Forbidden Planet and then of course, Return to the Forbidden Planet.

Return to the Forbidden Planet is a musical stage show based on the Tempest. The actors have to sing and play at least 5 instruments to performance standard. It's camp, interactive, the music is awesome, it's just fantastic. I first saw it when I was 36 weeks pregnant. Even then Boy enjoyed it. We've since seen it again 12 years later and it's still fantastic fun. YouTube is currently my friend and I hope you'll forgive this gross mis-interpretation of MCW. But I thought it would be fun.

This is the start of the play. Enjoy my darlings.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fragile Monday

It's Monday morning and I'm suffering the effects of the Sunday afternoon before. No need to send floral tributes just yet. I'll survive. Perhaps.

Sunday afternoons with the Great Ursus and his Lovely has a lot to recommend. It was the excuse I needed to do a proper food shop, which I did at my favourite food emporium Waitrose. I did have some yogurt before I went, because it's important not to go shopping hungry. It didn't help. I did however, pick up a few bargains. I suspect that had I picked up less bargains, my Bank Manager wouldn't have minded so much.

I spoke to the Lovely Ursus in the morning and we decided that while the whole chicken I bought, was a good idea, a full roast dinner was not. The weather is definitely warm and bright and far more conducive to salads and their like. The Lovely Ursus said she'd bring the bread she'd started making (she's an outstandingly good woman), I said I would make desert. This is code for 'I'll buy something high in calories, sugar and cholesterol and low in nutritional value'.

The dearly departed Kaz and I shared a mutual loathing of kitchen equipment. We both commiserated with each other on the purchases of 'must have' kitchen gadgets that were used once and languished in the cupboard until being turfed out. Usually, because I moved house. I made an exception for the Lean, Green Fat Busting Grilling Machine (or some such), because it's a multi-purpose grill. It does a mean cheese toasty and grills salmon and slabs of haloumi to perfection. Then there are my adventures with coffee machines. In the past 5 years I've gone through about 6. The first 3, I had disasters with the glass jugs, which are quite a pain to replace. The last 3 suddenly died. I tried buying cheap ones and expensive ones and now have gone back to a small, one cup wonder (without coffee jug) which fills me with a cup of joy and motivation first thing in the morning. Caffetierre coffee doesn't taste the same, I don't know why.

We haven't had a toaster for over 5 years. There's been no need. In the flat, my stove had a grill which toasted to carbon perfection in a mere few seconds. When we moved, I was determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past: the smoothie maker, the whizzie soup pulveriser thing. So, our home has been toaster-free. I'm fussy about bread. I prefer to eat it the day of purchase, especially freshly-baked from the bakery down the road. Boy sometimes makes toasted cheese sandwiches, but like most teenagers, he ransacks the kitchen for food and couldn't tell me, even with a gun to his head, what he'd like to eat that week. We grow a lot of penicillin in this house.

Yesterday, I relented. I bought a toaster. It's all brushed steel and gleaming in it's newness. It's rather good. I realise this purchase was over-due when Boy's best friend announced he'd planned to buy me a toaster for my birthday. I suppose as ready-made food goes, toast is quite handy. Especially, if the bread is caught before the green/blue fuzzy stage. This toaster promises to toast bagels as well. I test drove it for lunch and it's quite good.

I put the chicken in the oven about half an hour before my guests arrived, thinking we'd be eating around 6 o'clock. That was until the Great Ursus and his Lovely turned up with warm bread. I'm a sucker for warm, home-made bread. We threw the munchies on the table: anchovies, humous, coleslaw, sun-dried tomatoes & feta, butter and tucked in. We demolished a bottle of wine and started on another. Boy and his Lovely came down and joined us. We chatted, laughed, listened to music and drank some more. When the chicken was finally done, I brought out the salad leaf, red onion, tomatoes and red peppers and round 2 of the repast commenced. Boy swapped his Lovely for his Best Friend and they hoovered up any remaining food. Which is just as well, there was still some chicken left, but not enough to very much with. Having teenagers, with their metabolisms set to hyper means food doesn't last. I still haven't got the hang of keeping food in the house with them. We tend to go from feast to famine very quickly.

As I sit here in my pink, fluffy dressing gown, there's not much of the morning left. I'm on my second cup of coffee and I'm not feeling the love for Monday. I have a list of things To Do, which includes going into the City to pick up a skirt and a pair of beige jeans, I ordered from Marks & Spencers; laundry and gardening. It ain't gonna happen Ladies and Gentlemen. If I get washed, it's going to be an achievement. I think I'm going to find a trashy book and languish in bed.

Picture courtesy of MJ

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Return of the Orange

Sunny days are here again. Yay! Unfortunately, it's not yet warm enough to bask, scantily clad in my garden to banish the winter pale. So, the question arises: how do I not look like a pasty bit of fish? I could do the tanning booths. Or, I could indulge in some self-tanning until it really is warm enough to stretch out on my blanket.

The thing is my skin can cope with a lot of sun. I can spend all summer in my garden and only look mildly brown. I spent all summer in Trinidad and I still had white legs when I came back in September. I used to go to tanning booths, have about 5 or 6 sessions a season, just to ease up on the white look, but then about 5 years ago, I developed pigmentation issues on my cheeks (of my face). Tanning booths deliver too high a blast of UV to make me want to risk further issues, especially given my brother had a dodgy mole removed a couple of years ago.

When I do sun bathe, it's with SPF 50 on my face and SPF 40 everywhere else. I lay out in the sun, cover my face with a towel until I get too hot and then I come in again. I only do it once a day. This is probably why I stay pasty. I also find it incredibly boring just lying there. The light reflecting off the pages of a book makes reading uncomfortable. Though I suppose I could always fire up my shiny toy to while away the hours.

My training with the Cosmetic's House has been very useful as far as taking care in the sun is concerned. Sun damage and skin cancer are not conducive to looking and feeling fabulous. Neither is the pinched, sun-dried tomato look.

The thing is, I don't particularly want to spend a huge amount of money on a self-tanning products. The St Tropez tanning thang, just does not appeal, plus it's hideously expensive, considering a self-tan only lasts a couple of weeks (if you're lucky). There are self-tanning products that run from £3.00 (for single use wipes) up to £30.

The secret with any self-tan product is two-fold. 1) exfoliate before application. Shave those woolly legs and have a bloody good scrub. 2) a tanning mitt. Helps to apply the lotion evenly and avoids the orange palms. 3) moisturize ankles, knees and elbows before applying lotion. Again helps keep the colour even.

Self-tanning technology is much better than it used to be. Less orange, far more natural. Though if you get it wrong it still looks horrible. Streaks are a bit of a nightmare. There are rescues to have on hand if it all goes horribly wrong. Facial toners quickly remove excess colour. When I do my hands, I apply a small bit of lotion and 'wash' my hands thoroughly, paying attention to between my fingers. I then get a cotton pad, soaked in toner and wipe my palms and fingers several times.

Hope that beauty lesson was useful to you. Failing that, come back soon and I'll be thinking of something else to write about.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Melancholia

The word 'no', doesn't often get employed in my vocabulary. It was once again missing in action when I walked into the Apple Store and started drooling over the iPod Touch. Oh boy. There really are disadvantages to working for one's IFA (Independent Financial Advisor), he's not going to be very happy with me. He's not going to be very happy with me, especially if today goes according to plan. But that's a story for another day.

Technology is a wonderful thing. But it takes a lot of time to get everything set up. I bought my shiny new toy on Saturday and lost 5 hours that evening setting up iTunes and getting my 26Gb of music loaded up into it.

When it comes to music, I tend to create compilations and then listen to them obsessively, until my mood changes or I find something else to enjoy. I tend to have two types of compilations: mushy and bouncy.

Wednesday evening found me at my laptop re-creating playlists. I thought I do my usual, create two playlists and started wading my way through my music, popping tracks into the appropriate place. I found there was music that I didn't have a place for and I needed to have it close to hand.

In 2006, Boy and I were once again in the flat. It was the end of a difficult relationship for me. I was in the second year of my Creative Writing degree. Boy was leaving his boyhood behind. He was still shorter than me, with gorgeous curly hair. It was the year I started going round on buses and taking pictures of the experience. I had my Samsung YP mp3 player keeping me company. I remember that summer being golden. I got a job at NHS Direct and then my blog started have more visitors who left kind and cheeky comments. KAZ, was one of my first commentors. I can't tell you the gaping hole her absence makes in Blogland.  Inspector Monkfish and The Viking started popping in regularly. I found a blogging labrador cross in Norfolk, who was very rarely cross, called Murph.

NHS Direct became a bit of a nightmare and I realised that if I was to complete my Creative Writing degree, it wouldn't be working for them. It was coming up to Christmas and Alix mentioned that there was a temporary job going in the Independant Department Store where she worked on the perfume counter. That was a broke-ass Christmas. But it was fun, my goodness was it ever. I learnt how much fun it was to be a girlie.

The Viking and I had been talking during that time. The dawn of 2007 brought with it a new relationship. We had an absolute blast. Ladies and Gentlemen, I can't tell you how dear he is still to me, he was so much fun and so loving. How we managed to keep a new relationship so much fun during a time in which I was procratinating my dissertation, working and then having to deal with the death of my beloved Pops, I'll never really know. I suppose being with him taught me, that relationships don't have to be hard work. They can be fun and still be deep. I graduated in the Summer and that was hair-tearingly stressful. I was getting more and more skint and things were changing. I was changing.

Those 18 months are golden to me.

Wednesday evening, listening to the music that was the soundtrack to that golden time, brought everything back. The love, the laughter, the fun, the frustrations. Fantastic snippets: The Viking asking if Hottie and I were an item; the dawn of the Pink, Fluffy, Dressing Gown; long IMs with Inspector Monkfish; blowing the crap out of shit with a tank on Halo 2; playing Hexic on the Xbox with Faithless as a soundtrack; Boy's first gig; handing in my dissertation and the celebration; Hottie lifting cutlery and the pepper grinder from Pizza Express after my degree show; perfume! and lots and lots of it; Alix's wedding; Gertie coming to stay; blowing a month's heating budget in a couple day visit to The Viking; drinking Guiness in Dublin.

The Playlist
David Gray - Nos da Cariad, My oh My, This Year's Love
Faithless - Bombs, To All New Arrivals
Red Hot Chillipeppers - Day Trippin, Dani California
Carl Orff - Carmina Burana
U2 - Until the End of the World, Miss Sarajevo, Staring at the Sun
Jim Croce - Photographs & Memories
Bonobo - Ketto
Royskopp - 49%, What Else is There
Men at Work - Blue for You
Jose Gonzales - Heartbeats
Aim - Cold Water Music
Mr Scruff
Lemon Jelly
Faithless - No Roots (the album)
Rolling Stones - Paint it Black
The Beatles - Norwegian Wood
Rachel Portman - Caravan (from the movie Chocolat)
Bent - Different Hill

There's more, but I'll stop now.

And then there was this.

My dissertation was on the Motorcycle Diaries, and Campbell's the Hero's Journey, the transformation of Che. In the last scene of the movie, there is a slide-show of black and white stills of the people Che encountered on his journey. This is end of this journey and the start of a bigger story. The music is haunting, as are the images.

This says it all really. Enjoy.