Friday, 30 July 2010

Five O'Clock on a Friday

I have some mega exciting stuff that I want to share (I'm not engaged, or pregnant; that would be more than mega exciting!). However, there isn't much mega exciting stuff going on these days, and then suddenly it's Friday and there's mega exciting stuff, and so I'll do my usual 'hooray it's the weekend' Friday update, and report on the mega exciting stuff next week. We don't want excitement overload, after all!

So yes, Friday again! Actually, I'm not so happy about it this week; I could do with 3 more days to write write write, because the words are flowing, and I simply can't write on my only allocated day off, that'd be...obsessive!

However, I'm looking forward to a thoroughly normal Saturday. Daniel and I are going shopping tomorrow, which, though probably quite a normal thing for most couples, is for us a very very rare thing. We both hate shopping; I can think of one occasion when we've been shopping together, and we had to endure each other's grump, as well as our own. Nope, shopping ain't for us!

On Sunday it's the Big Race, which is exciting! I'm excited for Daniel to take part, I'm excited for that burst of adrenaline as you begin moving forward in a colourful hub of runners, I'm excited to run past the Minster, and I'm excited to take advantage of race-day adrenaline to push myself really hard. After Keswick, which was incredibly laid back and somehow pure in its taking-place, I think the organization of this race might be a shock to the system, as there will inevitably be loud speakers and music and TV crews, and maybe even a starting line (no one knew where to start in Keswick...).

But my weekend will hopefully involve plenty of sleep, which, coincidentally, is the theme for this week's blanks. Which, coincidentally, I wrote myself (the first 7, anyway)!

Visit Lauren to take part :-)

1. The last thing I do before going to sleep is
switch on my radio on sleep timer for 15 minutes, then drift off to the lilting tones of...whoever Gideon Coe/Guy Garvey choose to play, which is not always lilting!

2. When I can't sleep I look out of the window. My street is so empty at night, a whole row of houses lit up by the street lights. It's comforting thinking of everyone in the houses, so quiet and still.

3. The first thing I do when I wake up is switch on the radio, then have a wee and empty the washing up rack!

4. When I'm tired I am the most awful person to be around. I get whiney and aggravated at the tiniest things. Lauren, we should have a competition to see who is worse - Craig and Daniel can do the voting ;-)

5. My dream bedroom would be orchard green, with wooden floors and a four-poster bed. There would be cushions and rugs, but it wouldn't be crowded. Like Lauren, I'd have a bay window for sitting, reading and thinking. And an en suite!

6. If I could wake up anywhere tomorrow morning it would be in a B&B in the Lake District, with breakfast in bed an the Saturday Times .

7. The longest sleep I've ever had was when I got back from Canada and I had jet lag. I don't remember how long I slept, but I know I woke up after 11am, which is the only time that's ever happened.

8. I sleep on my back or left side, but I do turn around a lot during the night.

9. When I sleep, I like to wear comfy pyjamas, but not scruffy ones - I'm all about cotton matching sets from M&S! Always trousers/shorts though, nighties get too twisted!

10. My bedtime is usually between 10 and 11...I'm definitely no night owl!.

Have a great weekend folks!

Running For Jane

Jane Tomlinson is a well-known name in Yorkshire, but I expect those further a-field are less familiar with her plight and her achievements.


By all accounts, she was an amazing lady; after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, she went on to compete in running, cycling and swimming events all over the world, and her energy and spirit continues to give hope to people almost 3 years after her death.

I remember the day she died; it was headline news in the Yorkshire area, and though I'd never met her I felt a real sense of loss and grief that she was no longer with us. The headlines all said 'Jane loses her battle with cancer', but I still can't bring myself to think that was the case; surely, if anything, she won her battle with cancer, if not by overcoming it, but by challenging it head-on, and against all odds going on to achieve things that even the fittest of us wouldn't dare try.

On Sunday, the second York 10km Run For All takes place, which was set up after Jane's death by her husband and children. Jane herself started this event in Leeds, and it's continued to grow ever since, as four annual Run For All events have now been set up across Yorkshire.

Last year I took part in the Run For All in aid of Jane's Appeal; it was my first race, and it was enough to get me hooked - seriously, it was incredible! This Sunday I'm taking part in this year's event, which is much bigger than the last one, and I'm super excited! To add to the fun, Daniel and my Dad are both taking part too - Daniel's first race event, and my Dad's first 10km race. We've been training hard, which hasn't been easy when working full time (and in my case, packing in 2 part time jobs into the evenings and weekend, too), and I'm hoping to beat last year's time by 10 minutes. Honestly I don't think I'll do it; I'm simply too tired, but I'll give it my best shot, promise!

We've been raising money for Jane's Appeal, and I've set up a Just Giving Page to make it a bit easier (better late than never - I meant to get round to this weeks ago!).

Click here if you fancy donating a few pennies, but otherwise, watch out for photos of a sweaty girl in too-short shorts after the weekend - this is an advanced warning ;-)

I'll be back later with some blanks and random typings :-)

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

A Change of Shoes, A Change of Myself

Today I wore make-up for the first time in over a year. And heeled shoes.

Me, wearing mascara, 6:30 am. I wasn't quite as nervous as I look!

Today was quite a landmark in the chain of 'things that happen in my life'. Today I had an interview for a potential career. Today I could have started something amazing.

To be a little too ambiguos, it was with an amazing company, for an amazing job. This could get me my ultimate dream; a dream that always seemed a little too far away to reach.

I left the door at 7am. On the train, squashed in between a hoard of commuters in varying shades of super-ambitious, I looked at my reflection in the window. I looked like a terrified little girl, out of my depth, unrealistic, quite pathetic really. An hour's commute and a change at Leeds Station later, I arrived at my destination. Rainy, grey, depressing. No Marks and Spencers - I needed to buy new tights as my big toe was sticking uncomfortably through my only pair, which are also permanently stained with blood from some nasty shoe rubbing. Classy.

I trapsed through the damp streets knowing full well that not one passer-by would take me for a grown up, about to attend an interview for a job that so many would jump for; I hadn't even bought new tights. I was wearing a pinafore (a really nice one, I must add), stained tights, ragged Converse pumps that I've had for nearly 10 years, and a cagoule which hangs down almost to my knees. I can't re-iterate enough how out of my depth I felt.

After getting very lost and ending up on a lovely housing estate with seriously divine gardens, I located the building. I was 45 minutes early, so I wandered around the area for a while. Nearby I found a lovely canal, where longboats were moored as the travellers prepared for the day ahead. I stood and reflected for a while, then swapped my Converse for my smartest shoes, which I'd carried in my hand bag, knowing full well I couldn't walk the couple of miles to the train station and then to the interview in heels. Relieved that my shoes covered the rip in my tights, I straightened up and took off my cagoule. Suddenly, the little girl was gone, and I was an adult, a professional, a smart and vibrant person totally suitable for the job I so wanted. Amazing. I strutted through the car park, totally ready, totally confident.

All it took was a pair of shoes; I still can't believe the transformation in my confidence. Maybe being 'an adult' has more to do with feeling like an adult than actually being one. Maybe the transformation will never be fully complete; could it really lie in the difference between Converse and kitten heels? I do hope this is the case.

As for the interview, it went ok. I enjoyed it, I enjoyed learning about the company and the job, and I enjoyed putting myself to the test. Today I dipped my toes into the future, and it felt really really good.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Today, 27 Years Ago

27 years ago today, something awesome happened!

This man appeared in the world for the first time...

(these photos were found on my camera as I uploaded snaps from the weekend)

This was reason enough to spend the whole weekend celebrating, which we did!

During our Saturday morning porridge we poured over a map of Yorkshire, planning a pleasant country cycle to a CAMRA-praised pub in East Yorkshire. The combination of cycling and real ale provided an appropriate way to celebrate Daniel's birthday! We packed up a picnic and hit the roads, escaping the heaving bustle of the final race weekend in York.

We fell in love with every village we passed, and stopped in a particularly lovely one to enjoy our lunch - marmite and crisp sandwiches, and heavenly chocolate chip cookies, devoured in a pretty churchyard under the afternoon sun.

A few more miles down the road, we found the pub we'd been waiting for! If the ale was as tasty as the pub was pretty, Daniel would have had the perfect birthday beer. However, we continue our wait to find out, as we arrived just as the pub was closing after lunch - perfect timing! We will return!

Not to be deterred, we decided to turn our planned pub session into a cycling afternoon, and consulted the map to alter our route from beer-head friendly to a rather more challenging distance. I was loving the cycling; the sense of freedom was immense, the weather was perfect, and the views and scenic villages were a wonderful accompaniment to these; and so I was more than happy to spend the rest of the day in a persistent fight with my bike (my Dad made it for me when my old one was caputt - it is salvaged from various bike parts and a frame found in a local dump) - burning thighs are all part of the fun ;-)

We passed through Stamford Bridge and located the famous battleground; now a haven for cultivation, it was not hard to imagine the scenes that took place 950 years ago - quite a surreal and abstracted experience. Then we hit an old railway line, which paved a pleasant (if bumpy!) route through fields and woodland back towards York.

Thighs burning, and covered in zillions of cornflies, attached to my skin with a stale suncream glue, we arrived home. We spent the evening feasting, of course! Mounds of pasta and homemade garlic bread (a really good job that no one else was in! 5 cloves of garlic is a lot for two people), followed by cake and cider while crashed on the couch. Heaven.

Recipe found here. I used sultanas and pumpkin seeds instead of walnuts.
Honestly the tastiest cake I've ever made.
We ate 2 portions each, and agreed that we could eat more...!

And today we went to see Toy Story 3, finally! And it was so worth the wait! It was my first 3D film and I was sceptical, but as Daniel looked super-cute in the glasses, I didn't mind so much after all. The film was, of course, excellent; we laughed for the majority of the two hours, and I cried a little, too. Highly recommended! And the glasses are awesome and I might wear them all the time!

I absolutely love birthdays!

Friday, 23 July 2010


It's the weeeeekend!!

(Actually, taking into account the procrastination that went on today, it was probably the weekend at 5pm yesterday...)

I have an exciting couple of days ahead!

Tonight will involve some technical cookery fun, followed by a much-anticipated viewing of Mulholland Drive with a friend who helped me build a love for film and music that I never could have created alone. I've been waiting to see this film since I set of to France in 2007, and we have tried and failed to see it on a couple of occasions now - fingers crossed tonight is the night!

Tomorrow we view a prospective home! Enough said really, but there is more! Pubs and bike rides and celebrations in aid of my lovely fellow, who turns old on Sunday.

I love birthdays! So excited!

Have a good weekend!!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Wall (a pep talk to myself)

The dreaded 'Wall' has risen up from nowhere.

The first time we met: Keswick Half Marathon, just past Grange, after 10 miles of running. My lungs were empty and every inch of my body was stinging. My toenail was hanging off, though I didn't know that at the time.

We met again: somewhere on the descending slope of Whernside. I'd been walking for about 7 hours, my feet were swollen and soggy in my boots, I'd been awake since 4:30am. I'd climbed to the top of Yorkshire. The heel of my foot was double in size and my toenail was hanging off, though I didn't know that at the time.

Now, we meet for a third time.

I've been sitting down for 7 hours a day for the past 4 weeks. I've been reading, writing, typing. Somehow, this is the equivalent of running 10 miles, of climbing 2 peaks, of feeling like a big slice of pain. My toenails are all in tact, I've checked.

This is a different challenge; running harder and faster for 10 minutes or singing Disney songs probably won't help.

Grrr I hate the term 'the Wall'. Yet I still have to call it that, because that's what it is, and it deserves such an appropriately uninventive title. I couldn't bring myself to call it 'the Wall' until I reached it for myself, then I understood why it was 'the Wall', and not ' the Breaking Point' or 'the Limit' or something similar; walls can be climbed over, after all.

To bear in mind: Our first two meetings have come during the two challenges which rank in my Top Two Achievements list. Maybe this will all be worth it.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

I am Longing For...

I am longing for the most simple things.


A slow morning with a cup of tea, the radio and a paper.

Pudding. Cake. Tasty treats.

To sit with the man I love in a pub, chatting until closing time.

To sit on a couch with a duve watching films all day.

To get lost in a book.

A bubble bath.

Can someone put a few more hours in the day please!?

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Best Use For Lentils Ever?

After my initial cold start with the lentil, I have been experimenting regularly in a plight to add them to my weekly menus with joy rather than passivity. And finally, I think I have the answer.

One of my favourite comfort foods is veggie spaghetti bolognese, which I usually make with dried soya mince. I've perfected my recipe, and it's one of my all-time specialities. So, on Friday when I needed some comfort and a protein-boost, I decided to cook up a huge spag bol all for me. Until I realized I'd run out of soya mince. Darn.

Then, I spotted a bag of orange lurking in the back of the cupboard. Why not replace the mince with lentils? I thought? And I did! A few adjustments were made to my original recipe, and I must confess, the lentils worked better than the mince ever could! They have that soft, creamy texture, they absorb the flavours, and they create something wholesome and complete, rather than a sauce with nobbly pieces of protein swimming around on top. (Ok, my soya spag bol is way tastier than I make it sound, but I am bigging up the lentil here, after all)

And so I will share my new recipe! Enjoy!

Serves 1

1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 pepper, chopped
3 mushrooms, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 cup lentils, washed
Veggie stock
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 handful fresh basil
1 tsp mixed herbs
salt & pepper

1. Fry onion, garlic, peppers and mushrooms and carrot
2. Add lentils, cover with hot stock and boil/simmer for 10 minutes
3. Add tomato purée, mustard and mixed herbs, cover and simmer for 20 minutes
4. Uncover, add basil and stir. If it's not thick enough, simmer uncovered for a bit longer. Maybe add more toato purée, too.
5. Season and serve with wholemeal spaghetti for a totally tasty and healthy spag bol!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sloth-Shaped Success

What can I say; the weekend was everything I needed it to be. Phew.

Friday night was spent with friends, around a table, with a pack of cards. When it comes to poker, my complete lack of understanding is my biggest asset. Not big enough this time, unfortunately, but a boisterous evening with good friends can be a real cure-all, even when it involves losing, cheesy jazz and alcohol.

Saturday brought the perfect weather for my planned weekend.

Pouring rain and gusty winds set the scene nicely for an indulgent day inside, and accompanied by some of the best comforts, I moseyed along serenely, energy-levels replenishing one lazy hour after another.

In the most appropriate uniform available for doing not-a-lot, I enjoyed some of those things that aren't always justifiable when life is filled to the brim with important tasks.

Getting stuck in to a new book. Reading a sentence then stopping to take part in the surrounding conversation. Then another sentence. Then more conversation. Ridiculously slow reading always seems more indulgent, somehow.

The joys of melted cheese, which can only be raised when teamed with toasted crumpets.

And, as I had promised myself so sincerely, some home baking. And Daniel did the messy work, as I gave out orders from the sidelines!

We used this recipe. I tried to make something similar not to long ago, without much success, but this time the results were heavenly!

Heavenly enough to gobble up 2 slices in one afternoon :-)

And then there were the things I couldn't photograph, like chatting incessantly about the months to come, the distant future and the way we want to do things. Sharing your dreams with another person is such an intimate thing to do, something I've never done before. I feel as if I could go on talking forever, over and over the same things, holding them in and enjoying the thought of making things happen. The ball that is our future has very suddenly started to move forwards, prompted by others who take for granted the plans that we've been nurturing so carefully for a while.

And now I sit in my pyjamas, lavendar oil burning a comforting haze into the room. Sipping tea and finishing off the gloopy remnants of my Easter egg, Sunday evening is brewing slowly, preparing me for another busy week ahead. And I'm surprised but warmed through by an anticipation for the next few days, as each week accumulates busyness the way a 2-year old accumulates new words*.

*I did think of wittier analogies but I happen to be writing a thesis on the accumulation of new words, and so this reference seemed more appropriate than wit. For some reason I felt the need to explain this - Disclaimer: I can be witty, I simply choose not to be right now ;-)

Friday, 16 July 2010

Today I Realized...

...that actually I am not Superwoman.

There are some limitations, and I've met them!

This will sound like a sob-story, but it's not, I promise.

Every day this week, I've been out of bed before 6:30. One morning I was out running at 6:30. I've worked a 9-hour day four times in five days (but each of these days I've had amazing packed lunches: feta & strawberry salad, greek salad, sugarsnap cous cous, peanut butter & apple on pumpkin crackers. YUM.), and the busyness is having disasterous effects on my body. I'm averaging about 5.5 hours sleep per night (this is simply not enough for me; I'm an 8-hour lady!), and the stress of this is causing my stomach troubles to flare up to an extend which I have not encountered in years. Last night I lay awake for hours, pain splitting through my forehead and my stomach burning angrily.

So, this morning, I thought "this is it, this is where I have to stop"; my Friday 10k did not seem possible - on Wednesday I returned from an awful run with such bad stomach ache that I curled up on the floor and listened to the thunderstorm outside for ages in my sweaty running gear: totally demoralising. Eventually, I made a compromise and decided to do 3 miles of interval training followed by my favourite yoga routine. I hate intervals, in fact I haven't done any since before I injured my knee; I run slowly, but happily! It's incredibly windy outside for some reason, and though my body was sprinting, the wind was pushing me back - it was particularly hellish, and I was definitely not enjoying myself. I crossed the bridge, and thought forget this; I turned left instead of right, towards the open countryside of my favourite 10km route. I ran and I ran, faster than usual and much more carefree. The wind was blustering me about, but it was fun rather than uncomfortable. I jumped over fallen branches, dodged the tufty grass footpaths that have appeared since I last ran on this path, and felt totally in my element. Rather than training as a means to an end (ie. becoming a better runner and keeping up my fitness in time for the race in 2 weeks' time), I was running away from all of my ends for a little while, leaving it all behind me and finding some freedom from a routine which is taking over all of me. I don't know where the energy came from, but I haven't enjoyed running that much for so long - my running had just become a way to move my body, to do something different from writing my dissertation and working. Today I remembered why I love running so much. I must have done around 12km, and it was fuelled by pure enjoyment. The rest of the day I've been riding on that energy; long may it last!

However, I'm learning more about my limits, and this weekend I intend to respect those limits completely. I'm going to sleep - it's a weekend for sleeping. I'm going to bake - I need treats and comfort and warmth, found only in home baking. I'm going to spend quality time with my taller half, talking about important future events, reading, laughing, drinking and watching films. Maybe I'll visit my favourite coffee shop, maybe I'll take some photos. But I'm looking forward to wearing my most comfortable pyjama bottoms and my biggest t-shirt and forgetting that there's a world outside. Just for 2 days.

And with a very long exhale breath, I begin the weekend in the traditional manner - Fill In The Blanks!

1. A very nostalgic place that reminds me of being a kid is the Lake Disctrict. We spent every family holiday there for 15 years, and every year we probably did the exact same things - but who can tire of mini golf, forest trails, bike rides and rowing to deserted islands pretending you're the Famous Five?!

2. If someone really wants to show me how much they love me they would drink tea with me and talk until there's nothing left to discuss. Or let me cook for them and make sure they eat it all and have second helpings!

3. Lately I've been wondering a lot about
whether I'll find a job and be able to stay here in York. I got rejected for a job today and I'm waiting anxiously for news a handful of other jobs.

4. When it comes to saving money I am a natural, as I don't spend anything!.

5. I'd prefer waking up early over staying up late any day!

6. I wish I knew how to make my Mum's lasagne. So good, and I miss it as I'm never at home! Though if I could make it, it just wouldn't be as special! .

7. I'm just waiting for the perfect house and job to appear. Please?! .

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

How Things Change

Pfarrergasse 6, Regensburg - July 2008.

Two years ago I was living in Germany, enjoying my last weeks in Bavaria before returning to the UK to finish my degree. I loved Germany, I still do, and I have a simmering hope somewhere in my heart that I'll get the opportunity to return there some day, but who knows. Two years ago I was in a mix with what I really wanted. I was impatient to get back to my life in York, but that life was an eternity of inevitability, set up neatly in front of me and needing no contemplation, risk or decision (or so I thought).

I was in a relationship and had been for 3 years. We met in the first week of university, and, as I was told, it's highly likely that you'll meet your future partner at university - so there we go, done and dusted. I ticked 'meet love of life' off of my to-do list, and we muddled along rather happily for three years, almost to the day. My going away was tough, but it did make it very easy to come back, so I did. I came back to 'My Future': that thing that was always going to happen upon my return.

A shared love of folk music blossomed during this relationship, and one Friday night in October we headed out to our favourite folk club with our instruments to sing, drink and chat to strangers. If there has ever been a time when I drank a lot of alcohol, it was during the period of arriving in Germany and finishing my degree; a short-lived but uncharacteristic and groggy chapter of my life. So the night is quite a blurr to me almost 2 years later - it was probably quite a blur the following morning, too. But I do remember chatting to a new face throughout the evening. I was intruiged by his tales about travelling along the Amazon, and interested to hear about his studies (a Master's degree - wowee, I was impressed! ;-) ). I was keen to share with him the wonders of York, where he had just arrived that week, excited at the prospect of making new friends and settling into a life different from the one I left behind a year before.

Early the next morning, after raucous accordeon playing, hours of drinking, music and chatting, we stumbled towards our homes, which happened to be in the same direction. I remember it well, the awkwardness of three, out of the comforting context of the pub and the warm music. After some amusing events which will remain unreported (partly to protect the dignity of certain parties involved, partly because I can't find an elequant way to write it down), we went our seperate ways, promising to get in touch and meet up again in the near future.

We hadn't swapped numbers or even full names, and so getting in touch wasn't particularly easy. But York is small, he was tall, and I used to wear stupidly large headphones, making me more noticeable than one person should be.

I thought my life was set up for me there, heading in a direction that I never even chose for myself. But last night I sat at my computer with that stranger from the folk club, searching for a home for us to share. It only struck me today how much has changed; how one decision sets off a whole chain of dominoes, and can lead somewhere you always wanted to be without you even knowing that it's what you always wanted. The Future looks very different from how it did two years ago - partly because I don't really know what it looks like, and I like it this way. Maybe if I'd have known back then that there was so much uncertainty ahead of me I would have been much more content? Fortunately it doesn't work that way!

I must point out that there was a significant gap of time between that night in October and the next domino in the series falling down, but that's a story for another day!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Blink and You'll Miss It

The weekend passed by in the blink of an eye. So different from the previous two weekends, which were languid and unfulfilling, these last two days have been filled with buzzing activity, laughter and company. Almost every waking minute was spent outside in the sunshine, and the weather was reflected in the food, drink, conversation and overall timbre of the days.

I returned home to attend a yearly gathering at my old high school. Going back to school is always odd, but this day in particular comes with a long string of emotional accompaniments; the excitement of seeing old friends, the tension of bumping into those who made life a misery, gratitude towards the teachers who helped fulfil the biggest dreams, a need to have become something or someone, to be able to say "this is me" with pride.

It was a wonderful day. Probably the best of the four such days I've attended since leaving school. Accompanied by some of the most special people in my life, I meandered dreamily through a familiar series of corridors and traditions, holding each moment in before moving onto the next.

Home baking crafted in the most delicate of proportions

Cups of tea on a sunny terrace

Memories with the best of friends

Cider lollies in the sun

And old traditions, the existence of which I simply could not explain to Daniel

Exhausted, and with aching jaws from hours of laughing, we returned home to generous amounts of Pimm's and lemonade, followed by a decadent family barbeque. The laughter and conversation continued into the night, and had we not gone our seperate ways, I'm quite sure we'd still be sitting in my garden, sipping drinks while catching up with the years we've missed, and re-capturing the years we muddled through together.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Electric Nightmares

It would be fair to judge me as a 'technophobe'. I've never owned a snazzy phone, a games console, a TV, a car, an iPod or anything similar, and intend to keep it this way for as long as I can manage (I tried to compromise with Daniel - we can have a TV in our house if we can also have an Aga, but he didn't think this was quite fair). These things all seem so impure to me; tainting what is an exciting world in which to adventure, dirtying it up with petrol and pixels, taking away the requirement to think and create, providing us with immediate access to everything we want, and fuelling the removal of all curiosity and adventure.

My resistance to these things is easy and unemotional. I prefer to pretend they don't exist, but it doens't hurt that I know that, really, they do. However, one recent addition to the modern world fills me with such hatred and fear that my skin starts to itch: the 'e-book'. Luckily, this doesn't seem to be a trend that will catch on; Amazon may be killing the book shop, but the e-book hasn't yet taken over the book.

However, it still exists. And it exists because somewhere, people want it, and people buy it. People download books, and read them from a screen. This I simply cannot understand! I can't imagine curling up in bed at night with a calmomile tea and some bright screen* tucked under my arm. I can't imagine waking up on a rainy Sunday morning and reaching out from the covers to switch on my book. I can't imagine stuffing a computer into my backpack and cycling down by the river to spend a sunny afternoon lost in Moscow or Hogwarts. I wouln't use an e-book to fan myself when it gets too hot, or rest ot over my eyes as I lie in the sun. I can't write notes in the margins or pencil birthday messages in the front cover when I find something special in the dusty corners of my favourite book shop that friends would love. Secondhand e-books won't come with the fusty mystery of previous readers; there will be no suspicious marks on the page, no tell-tale signs of a relaxing afternoon coffee splashed down the spine, no insects flattened into the story. As I read steamy McEwan chapters I won't be slightly too aware of past fingerprints on the page, and I won't wonder who else's tears have fallen onto the ink describing the only real heartbreak I've ever known.

On lonely afternoons I love to thumb through my bookshelf in search of something to fit my mood. If nothing fits, something else will have to d0 - surely the only way I'll ever get round to Ulysees? Technology means I'll be able to download whatever suits me right there, an easy way to avoid the discomfort of long words and centuries-old grammar, Russian family trees and astrophysics. And what happens when you visit someone's home for the first time? With no bookshelves to nosily delve into, do you ask to view their 'My Downloads' folder instead? The prestige of the bookshelf will fade into obscurity, and no one will know that I read Camus in French or that I'm pretending to understand Kant.

That first evening in Daniel's university room was, for many reasons, one of the most exciting in our relationship. The getting-to-know-you process was carried along by my review of his bookshelf, his CD collection and the photos on his walls (as well as his to-do list, which included the task 'buy accordeon' - this remains to be crossed off 18 months later). Where will that buzz of intruige and excitement come from, once our tastes are hidden away in the wires of a machine? The best debates and discussions will be left aside, passions and enthusiasms will need extracting if they are to be shared.

Further to this, yesterday I bought a new CD, from which I had only heard one track. I didn't 'Spotify' it, I jumped in and took the risk, gambling my £6 in the hope that at least 50% of the album would be as good. That evening I lounged with Daniel, the music dancing out from his speakers the way I had hoped it would. Inside the album cover were some of the most beautiful drawings of sealife I have seen, and we lay reading the cover notes, admiring the drawings and listening to new music with an open mind. All of the above also applies to digital music.

For years I have been afraid of the touched world; dirty fingerprints smearing over my belongings, threatening me with their histories and their infections. But the sterilized digital world scares me much more. Everything hidden away compact in its own file, untouchable, unreachable, lacking joy and passion simply because it is too abstract to understand. No stories and emotions to speak of - simply pixels and wires in a world humans will never reach.

*I have no idea how the e-book works; whether you read on your computer or if it's a special device in its own right - bear with my technological ignorance, please, I like it this way!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Happiness in Habit

I'm such a creature of habit that it can be a little embarrassing; not only do I know what I'll be doing on this day in three weeks time, but so do the people around me - certain things in my week never change, and I have a few weekly regularities that haven't changed for a few years!

But that's fine! I like it that way! These habits aren't formed out of lack of imagination, but stem from the happiness that they bring me every time they come around. From my weekly pub quiz to my morning yoga routine, from my daily breakfast radio show to what I eat for breakfast on a Saturday: unchanging, and forever enjoyable.

So today is Friday, which means waking up at Daniel's after Curb Your Enthusiasm and Biscuits Night, a 10km morning run, post-run smoothie joys, pre-weekend pampering and a little bit of blog indulgence - to me, this all sounds like a pleasant way to spend every Friday for the rest of eternity!

My morning run was hampered by heat! Not used to such things, I dehydrated a little too quickly, and the run was uncomfortable, a little painful, tiring and hot. My body wasn't happy, but kept it going with the prospect of this ahead:

Homemade banana and nectarine smoothie topped with pumpkin seeds!


I'm spending this weekend at my parents' house. I haven't been home for a few months now, and I can't wait to get back and sit in the garden with my Mum, drinking tea or wine or gin (depending on time of day!) and chatting about the things I can only chat about with her. Home means al fresco breakfast, endless cups of tea, pudding every night (though I'll only be there for 2 nights, sadly!) and my bedroom, which is the perfect retreat from everything I may ever need to retreat from. Home smells, shelves and shelves of books, trees and flowers and plants, and noisy commotion caused by my brother and his hoards of friends, who are always so polite despite my inability to behave normally around them (last year, while in a rather undignified state I was driven home by one particularly gentlemanly friend: I had consumed too much Pimm's and couldn't function properly, and said friend has not mentioned my lolling traversty since). So, Friday pampering comes with real purpose this week, in time for a little 'get-away to the country' which will involve a barbeque, a school fair (more on this later) and lots of friendly company, laughter and (probably) Pimm's!

Another Friday habit: Fill In The Blanks, courtesy of Lauren!

1. My favorite thing about this week has been spending the day with my Mum and Auntie on Monday, eating lunch together, having our hair cut and browsing some lovely shops!

2. The weather this week has been warm-ish; weather that plays tricks! The mornings have been so sunny and nice, so I head out without a coat, sit freezing all day and have to ride home on a soggy bike. Ah well :-)

3. The last (interesting) item I received in the mail was a CD, yesterday, by a band called Stornoway. I try to buy music from shops, rather than Amazon, but this is quite obscure, so compromise had to be made!

4. The last movie I saw was 'Prime'. I thought it'd be good as Meryl Streep stars in the main role. I was wrong. A fun watch, anyway!

5. If I could be doing anything I felt like today I would be home already, sitting in the garden with a good book and an orange juice. Soon, soon!

6. As a teenager I was angry and pretty unhappy. I've flipped 180 degrees since!

7. I wish I could trade lives for the day with my cousin. She's 18 and just finished her exams, and I know she's spending the summer days with friends, laughing and having amazing adventures. I'd love to go back to that feeling of freedom, with the prospect of University ahead of me!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

A Little Thanks

Today has been a good day. The sort of good day that was good simply because it was completely run-of-the-mill, unexciting, lacking in events to speak of, but enjoyable all the same. And an enjoyable sort of normal is something quite special.

Yesterday was not a good day. Plagued throughout the day by one off-hand comment thrown rudely at me by someone who used to mean more to me than most, I gave in to pent up anger and upset with Daniel that evening, when I caved, producing those wierd sobs that appear from nowhere, shake your whole body and leave you placid and fresh. Chocolate, tea and a University Challenge re-run shook off the feeling completely, and I woke early this morning practically singing with joy.

Today I feel thankful for everything. For my friends, few in number but plentiful in love and friendship. For the other postgraduates in the study area who smile when we catch eyes across the desks. For the family weekend ahead, and the prospect of homely smells, my Mum's hugs and plenty of pudding for the eating. For the sort of yoga that makes you sweat and groan before leaving you with a sense of inner strength and calm, wishing you could stay in Child's Pose forever. For my body, which is now able to reach some rather tricky yoga poses that I never thought I'd manage, and for looking great when I see it in the mirror. For cereal, for its suitability at any time of the day, for giving milk a cheeky hint of honey, and for its general crunchy, oaty goodness. And finally, for the man I love, who I feel thankful for at every instance, but especially when I see he still loves me after I've been wailing like a loon, and when he kisses me even though my face is covered in snot.

I think this enjoyable sort of normal might be my favourite sort of existence.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Do-do-bi-doo, got a new hair dooo!

There's nothing like an hour in the barber's chair to bring you back into the world!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Sunday Morning Breakfast

Like the weekend, lonely and quiet. The company and comfort of homemade bread doused in honey is a temporary pleasure, but the urge to return to my duvet hide-away and sleep through the duration of this uncomfortable, prickly affliction means it passes by hurriedly, almost unnoticed.

Unable to taste, yet the acidic sweetness of a red grapefruit cuts through the senses, its pungent presence leaving a pleasant reminder on my fingers, massaging a stuffy headache with its strong smell.

Breadcrumbs and peel leave sure reminders that this Sunday has begun, yet all I can taste is a virus at the back of my throat. My curtains dance deviously as the wind whistles though the window, the bathroom fan rattles noisily, weighty clouds loom outside; it seems a perfect excuse to forget the day for now, to hide away and let time pass unknowingly.

Friday, 2 July 2010


How do I even attempt to write a coherent update after the week behind me?

It's been busy, so busy. But I've enjoyed it immensely; turning up at 'the office' before everyone else, setting up my books, my computer, my water bottle. Lunch prepared and cooling amongst a mountain of salad bowls, rotting vegetables, smoothies and forgotten yoghurts; a fridge full of healthy intentions for the regular office worker. Getting stuck in and forgetting time, working through mountains of data as the desks around me slowly fill up with fellow postgrads. The mood in the air is intense, absorbing, thick with thoughts and frustrations and inspiration. I'm getting through some important work, and ideas are overwhelming me, coming faster than I can deal with. Working on five things at once means I never get bored; passions mixed with frustrating amounts of brainless formatting mixed with searching frantically for that exact thing said by someone (I can't remember who) about this theory that I really should understand more clearly.

Words, names, articles, chapters: they're forming a mountain around my ears, threatening to drown me as I swim excitedly through the pages. For once I don't want the weekend; I want the weekdays to go on and on!

But weekend, I need you. My Friday 10km has been postponed as my body is aching curiously. It hurts to stand up and sit down, I groan as if thrice my age, I shuffle to buy milk, shuffle to make tea, creak as I bend down. Threatening red spots are popping up in my throat, and I feel as if something in persistantly stuck between my tonsils. Today I worked from home, pyjamas on, tea on tap, snacks a-plenty; here at least, no one can see my drooping eyelids or hear my pathetic groans.

The weekend won't be the way I like weekends to be, but for the best possible reasons! I have a test to prepare for! A test for a job at one of the most exciting companies I can imagine working for! It's not exactly Top Creative Woman In The Industry position. It's not even the start to a career at said company. But it is a foot in the door. And this particular door, well...