Friday, 24 September 2010

Filling in Blanks from my Desk

It's my first Friday as a working woman and lordy am I excited for two days off!

I might even stay in bed past 7:30 - who knows! ;-)

Plans for the weekend include emptying more boxes (we still need to unpack the living room and the study - there is currently nowhere to sit but my kitchen is a dream so I'm happy), baking bread, cycling and buying slippers. I feel like a real person in a real life. I can't explain why but I do; the little things have become even more special, and sitting with a cup of coffee and the radio is suddenly one of the best ways to spend my time. Time - now a foreign concept.

My Mum is displaying a certain amount of smugness towards my current awe at working life. I am allowing her this, it's justifiable: I had no idea at all.

Suddenly I am no longer responsible only for myself - there is Daniel, who I am commited to on a domestic level, and there is my team of collegues, who are relying on me to do my job properly. I have to produce results for others. Here results count for more than simply my transcription of records - eek!

I miss blogging.

1. In the story of my life the actor who would play me would be Drew Barrymore. I don't know why, she's just a little quirky and she was in ET and her hair is a sort of red colour. I like her a lot!

2. If I could change one thing about the world it would be greed. People would stop wanting everything; maybe then things could change.

3. Yesterday I did yoga for the first time in too long and it felt amazing.

4. My favourite comfort food is bread. Really good bread, with salted butter.

5. My new favourite blog find is being able to blog from my desk! I miss writing and reading blogs!

6. If I could meet any blog friend it would be everyone in a big meet-up!! (I couldn't choose! ;-) )

7. My favourite breakfast food is porridge and honey! With lots and lots of tea!

Thanks Lauren :-)

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A Rushed HELLO From Chaotic Bliss


I have about 2 minutes left of my lunchbreak - I thought a little update would be a wise way to use this time!

- I will have no internet connection at HOME (and wow, is it a home!) until mid-October. This is blissful in one sense (no computer, no phone, no TV; just lots and lots of talking and radio listening) but frustrating in another! I want to update my blog and I want to hear your news!!

- I am working in Publishing Development. This is immense and intense and wonderful!

- I have to get up at 5am to get the train to my dream job. This is tough but the bags under my eyes are a worthy compromise.

- I got stuck in severe weather on top of one of England's highest peaks. We were knocked off our feet by 70mph gales. Daniel is more than just brains, I tell you that; he guided a weeping woman down a mountainside in the worst rain and wind I could care to imagine. We also waded waist-deep through a raging river. I cannot wait to tell the tales.

- I am in love with my new home. The kitchen is incredible. The bedroom is so cosy. The riverside walks at 6am provide the perfect start to every day.

- Right now I feel as if I'm living my ultimate daydream. Watch this space.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Fill In The Blanks Last Friday

I'm currently cleaning my new house and waiting for a delivery of a washing machine. Exciting stuff! I filled in last Friday's blanks to post automatically, because I like order and routine, and any long gaps in my blog might be too much to handle. Plus I like the questions :-)

Join in here! Thanks Lauren!

1. The strangest thing I've ever eaten is
a chocolate vegetable dish at my favourite vegan restaurant in York. It wasn't amazing, to be honest, but it was certainly strange! Apparently it's quite a speciality in some corners!

2. I wouldn't be caught dead in one of those slutty dress-up outfits, like a French maid or a 'sexy' nurse. They make me so mad; if I see a woman in one I simply feel sad. I'm not sure who decided to make a mockery of the whole female population in such a way, but it needs to stop.

3. When I am 75 I will.... hopefully be retired and happy! I envisage a blustery beach retreat where Daniel and I can walk our dog and sit together on a bench with a big picnic.

4. If I had to be named after a place I would want to be named Charlotte - I'll go with what Lauren said because it's pretty and I can only think of York, Barbados, Paris and many other places with unsuitable names for humans.

5. My name is Catherine Elizabeth - Elizabeth after my auntie, but no idea where Catherine came from. I was going to be named Melanie after my Mum's favourite singer, but she didn't want anyone shortening it to Mel.

6. My all time favorite photo is a photo of my parents on holiday in the Lake District. They look so happy!

7. If I could afford it I would buy myself a whole new wardrobe. I wear the same clothes for years and years, and it gets a bit boring!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

No Place Like Home: Sharing Space

I'm sitting amongst piles of boxes and bags, spending a final half hour alone in my flat before the process of moving in with Daniel begins.

In this post I talked about my time living alone; it's been an amazing and revealing three years and I am sorry that it's come to an end, but still there is not one inch of me that is not over the moon with excitement. My motive for moving in with Daniel is simple: I want to spend my every day with him. To me, moving in with a boyfriend is not something you do out of convenience, or to save money on rent - it's about commitment, about officially putting your relationship into 'long-term' mode.

I had to visit all of my banks to finally change my address from that of my parents' house - now that I'm officially a grown-up carving my own path in life - and in each bank I was politely asked about my new home. Every time I said "I'm moving in with my boyfriend!" it felt so geekily exciting; as if no one ever moves in with a boyfriend, as if I'd said "I just got married!".

I'm so excited to find out how we'll work together, and oddly, I'm even more excited to see how we don't work. I'm excited for the compromise and the comfort of normality, for arranging our things together on the shelves (there have already been long discussions about how we'll arrange our libraries - I'd be interested to hear any ideas!!*) and for deciding what goes in which cupboard. A few weeks down the line, I'm excited for being settled - we spend our weekends between houses, and I can't wait to not have to pack a bag on Friday; for him to be there all the time, so that I can actually read my book when he's around and not get distracted by his company.

Through arranging my life in line with someone else's, I'll be starting a-fresh for the first time, creating my own family and forming our own little habits and traditions. Somehow I feel that Daniel has allowed me to be me - through him I've been able to indulge in the things that make me myself, and it's as if I've grown into a pair of jeans, once too big but now fitting me perfectly. I've already learned so much about being with someone else during the relatively short span of our relationship, and I'm sure there's so much more to learn around the corner!

*Two book lovers, two different tastes - my collection centres around early 20th Century literature, spattered with English and Russian classics and the whole McEwan back catalogue. Daniel, on the other hand, jumps between the romantics and post-colonial literature with a lot of poetry, and many other exciting things that make him all the more attractive besides (a man who reads you Keats when you can't sleep? Yes please!)! He wants to arrange it by country, while I'm all for a hit-and-miss sort of apporach, whereby you stumble across something perfect while looking for something particular. Maybe I need a whole post on this issue. Suggestions welcome!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Why I Love Lentils

My love for lentils began but a few months ago, and since then it's been quite a whirlwind affair - red lentils are now a staple in my kitchen cupboard. Here's why:

1. When your tin opener is broken you can still have a tasty pulse-based meal ready in under half an hour

2. They're a vegetable AND a source of protein (when combined with carbohydrate) making them a super-healthy option

3. They seem to fit in as a meat replacement in so many different meals - spaghetti bolognese, cottage pie, chilli, stew, soup, lasagne...everything!

4. So long as you have a stock cube, garlic and some frozen peas/an old carrot, there's never any need to resort to the emergency tin of ravioli that you bought in 1994*

5. While the lentils are cooking you can fit in a half-hour soak in the bath, a few chapters of your book or even a quick session of power yoga and a shower

As I'm in the process of moving house, I'm going through that awful 'use up everything in the cupboards' period at the moment. Last night I used up my red lentils and my week's vegetable selection while creating the best lentil dish I have ever concocted - thus prompting this short celebration of the lentil. Try it, really.

Lentil and Apricot Stew

You will need:

1 portion of red lentils, washed
1 clove garlic
1 inch chopped ginger
1 carrot, chopped into chunks
1/3 courgette, chopped into chunks
1/2 small sweet potato, chopped
Handful of broccoli florets**
3 mushrooms, sliced
3 dried apricots, halved
Vegetable stock
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cloves
Pinch of chilli flakes

1. Run a hot bubble bath
2. Fry the garlic, ginger, carrot, mushroom, courgette and sweet potato (and onion if you have some - I didn't!) in some oil, add the lentils and stock (about a pint? Better too much than not enough - see point 4.) and bring to the boil.
3. Add the spices, turn down the heat and simmer.
4. Soak in the bath for half an hour.
5. Add broccoli, apricots and tomato puree, stir and turn up the heat so the pan simmers a bit more energetically
6. Dry your hair/moisturise/set the table/toast a pitta bread/cook cous cous
7. Serve with pitta bread, or maybe cous cous!

*I do in fact have an emergency tin of ravioli in my cupboard (which I bought in 2009, not 1994), but since my tin opener is broken it doesn't really serve its purpose right now anyway. Lentils are always a better option.

**I never throw away the stalk - chop up the stalk and add it with the carrots and courgettes!

Friday, 10 September 2010

I May Be Losing the Plot

I have lost all control, all ability to think and make simple decisions.

Like - what should I have for breakfast?

I couldn't decide. I ate two breakfasts.

This temporary incapacity to fend for myself is my excuse for this

My first ever investment in a celebrity chef, but oh, Nigella, you are welcome in my kitchen every day of the week!

Still I'm struggling to let go. I need to stop but I'm not yet sure how. Life is looming ahead, like a huge bouncy castle where all the bigger kids are playing, and I'm nervous and unsure of how to approach it. Today I bought myself a super-funky work outfit, and some horrid cheap-o shoes that should allow me to walk four miles a day in comfort while still looking quite smart. There is too much to prepare, I can't let go. I'm in my pyjamas - attire for ultimate comfort - yet I can feel my heart racing and my mind spinning with all the things I must do.

Last night, however, Daniel and I went out for the first time in way too long. It was good to be around people, in the town centre where life is constantly busy and exciting.

We had some fun in Nando's, where we ate messily with our fingers, tried out the spicy sauces and caught up with one another on a new level - life has been too much about me for the past few months; it was good to see how Daniel is doing these days, too!

We love our sauce!

Peri Peri Salt on my chips - yummm!

Trying out the hot sauce

A man and his half-chicken

After our food we went to my favourite pub in York. This place is like a magical cavern, with old rail and industry bilboards and signs all over the walls. It's the perfect pub to cosy up with your other half over a beer and have a good chat, which is exactly what we needed.

I'm going to spend the weekend unravelling (really, I am), and then I'll be moving house, climbing some mountains and changing jobs. I may be away for a while, but I'll be back with lots of stories and news in a few weeks!

Until then I'll be lining up a few posts to be published while I'm away. Upon my return this will no longer be a blog about a linguistics student, 22, in York; this will be a blog detailing the life of a Reasearch Assistant, 23, still in York and sharing my life with a man (an amazing one, but still a man!). Everything is about to change, I'm like a teddy in the 'Claw' machine at the arcade, about to be dropped through a short tunnel straight out into another world. See you on the other side!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


There is no way I could express everything I'm feeling in this post. As I unravel the emotion inside me over the next few days I may attempt to put it into words in my blog, but for now I think I need to stick to the facts.

Really, there is only one fact in my life right now - it's done.

Today I handed in myself; printed on 64 sheets of paper, condensed into 14,998 words (why am I always so dangerously close to the maximum word limit?!) - there I was in print, deposited in a box in the Departmental office. Done and dusted.

I didn't know where to turn. I didn't know where I was supposed to be, where I should go or what I could possibly do now that I had no dissertation to write. I feel lovesick, heartbroken almost. As I packed up and said goodbye to my friends in the study-room, I felt strangely envious of those still working away with another two deliciously intense weeks until hand-in.

I've had 3 hours sleep since waking up at 5am yesterday morning. My first 'all-nighter', and it'll be my last. I've had crippling stomach ache for over a week, and my jeans are hanging off my hips in that unsightly way that too-big jeans tend to hang. Before I start analysing where I am and where I'm supposed to go next, I need to take a bit of time for myself. Not to think, just to be, to catch up with myself and remember exactly who I am and what it is that I love to do.

In the 4 months and 5 days it took to write my dissertation, I somehow became my dissertation. I need to spend some time un-becoming my dissertation; unravelling the stress and exhaustion and re-discovering my life.

The up-coming days will be busy (next week I'm moving house and going on a walking holiday!), but I intend to spend some time with myself, reading and baking and sipping long mugs of tea. Maybe I'll listen to some afternoon radio, maybe I'll wander around the city and take in the changing season, maybe I'll get a hair cut and take a long bath.

But for now, I need food - lots of it, and sleep.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

A Morning Escape

Saturday morning was meant for sleeping, but my sleep mechanism is being somewhat anarchistic, and come 6:30am, I was ready for my day to start.

A September Saturday, bright an crisp - the perfect excuse to go all-out again and enjoy my new favourite thing ever. Backpacks were loadened, maps were consulted, and we head off into the cold morning, with the Howardian Hills as our goal.

We passed through misty fields and sleepy villages; humble landscapes, charming but functional, providing a sweet reminder that harvest is here and autumn is closing in around us.

We reached the Howardian Hills, where Castle Howard nestles - just approaching the Yorkshire Moors, and corners became sharper and hills became (much!) steeper. It felt amazing to be really breathing again - filling my lungs with un-conditioned air was a real treat, and being out of breath felt almost like a revival! So long have I sat lately, crunched-up and slow; my veins were fit to burst and loving every second.

An afternoon of proof-reading lay ahead, made almost pleasurableby the memory of my morning escape. In acknowledgement of the autumn, we baked a crumble with fresh Victoria plums for tea, served with custard and enjoyed in the comfort of a day full of activity, both physical and mental, behind us. I can't wait to continue indulging in the pleasures of autumn!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Inspiration Anyone?

All day long a blog post has been simmering at the back of my mind, and it comes to the evening and I have no inspiration or will to write any more. Today I have done a lot of writing.

I've had stomach ache for 3 days (a chronic problem I've had since I was a teenager, meh), I've got a splitting headache, I just broke my tin opener and had to pop chick peas from the can one-by-one through a tiny hole, and my physical outline is becoming more blob-like by the day - imagine a piece of strong cheddar left out of the fridge for a while and that's probably the right sort of image.

BUT (there's always a 'but', there's always a bit of sunshine somewhere, there's always a silver lining, etc.)

Yesterday I got to do something awesome that I've been wanting to do for AGES!

By my own views on what is super-cool, I am officially super-cool! Yesterday I chatted with the amazing Steve Lamacq on BBC 6Music!!! This might mean nothing to anyone but me (and Daniel - a shared love for both Steve Lamacq and 6Music is what got us chatting for the first time!) but basically, AWESOME. Steve is an authority on all things indie; he used to write for NME and now presents many an amazing music show on TV/radio.

Check it out here - scoot forward 49 minutes to hear my musical history, followed by a really amazing song (I put so much thought into this song choice, seriously).

I might be absent for a while. My life has been completely and utterly taken over: one week until Hand In!