Have I Got News For You

October 31, 2006

I've got a soft spot for Jeremy Bowen because he was the BBC Breakfast news presenter when Isabel was a baby. I watched him every day for months because I was always up at ungodly o'clock in the morning and the news was the only thing on TV worth watching. He is a bit of a bumbling idiot, but in a very sweet way, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, he was presenting Have I Got News For You last night and the guest publication was Global Slag magazine. He made some comment about how he'd wanted to find out more about metal impurities so he'd typed the word 'slag' into Google.

He looked at the camera and said seriously, "I won't be doing that again".

June Sarpong was on the show and she said, quick as a flash, "Or maybe you will!"
The look on his face was priceless.

I haven't laughed so much at something on telly for ages.

A touch of OCD?

October 30, 2006

Each week, I write a menu plan for the week ahead. I've been doing it for years now. I can't even remember why I started doing it.

It could've been frustration at having a house full of food yet missing the vital ingredient for every meal I wanted to cook. Or frustration at spending a fortune on food and then ending up throwing loads of it away. Or (and this is probably the most likely) because my mother also does it.

Each week I write down a list of meals for the following week. I write the list on the backs of old Christmas and birthday cards (recycling!) and then go shopping for all of the ingredients for those meals. I am slightly flexible - often switching days, or dropping one meal altogether in favour of takeaway - but in general we pretty much eat what I've planned.

Visitors have seen my menu plans stuck to the fridge and commented on them on several occasions. Usually along the lines of "*cough* psycho *cough*"... Somebody once mentioned that I should start keeping all the old ones, and that seemed like a good plan, so I started chucking them in a shoebox in the cupboard.

This week we were having falafel with homemade tomato sauce. I couldn't remember what else we usually had with that meal, so I got the box out of the cupboard to find an old menu, confident that it would be there somewhere.

Even I was shocked to discover how many of these bits of cardboard were in the shoebox. This is maybe about half of them:

Here is a larger version.

I'm starting to think that maybe the *cough* psycho *cough* comments weren't so far from the truth after all...

French Connection

October 20, 2006

There is a French restaurant in town that's really nice. We went there for my 30th birthday and had a lovely time. I found out recently that they do a special evening in half-term for families. Basically you go along with your kids, they get mini-taster versions of the adult menu (no chicken nuggets here) and the adults get 2 courses and wine.

I thought this sounded great so I booked us a table. Unfortunately, it now transpires that Mattgreen has got to go away to Scotland for work and is going to miss it. So I was explaining this to Isabel, and trying to give it the slant of, "Nevermind, we can have a nice girly night out instead".

Me: So even though Daddy can't come, we can still go.
Isabel: Oh.
Me: We can dress up in our prettiest clothes and even wear make up!
Isabel: Oooh! Can I wear make up?
Me: Yes
Isabel: (grinning) I'm going to wear my purple party dress!
Me: That's fine. What shall I wear? I haven't got any party dresses.
Isabel: You can wear your wedding dress, Mummy.

That's the second time Isabel has suggested I wear my wedding dress inappropriately. The first, if you've forgotten, was to Soraya's wedding!

I have tactfully explained that my wedding dress probably wouldn't be appropriate attire to the local restaurant, although it probably would give the rest of the clientele a laugh!

One random Tuesday

October 17, 2006

Soraya sent me a link earlier in the week to the One Day In History project, which is being run by the National Trust. The only ways of getting into the British Library I know are by writing a PhD or being a published author, neither of which are likely to happen to me anytime soon, so I thought this would be kind of cool.

I dutifully wrote my detailed account of what I've been doing today, and then the bloody stupid website wouldn't accept it. I don't think it's optimised for Firefox. Dammit. Anyway, as they don't want it, you all get to read it instead. Lucky you. (I've edited a few parts for clarity).


I got up today at 7.20am. I had breakfast with Matt and Izzy, practiced the latter’s ‘tricky words’ for school (‘he’, ‘like’, ‘this’, etc – words which can’t be pronounced phonetically) and shepherded her off to school. We had to pop into the doctor’s on the way to collect my prescription for nicotine patches (I am giving up smoking tomorrow morning).

We got to school without incident, I dropped Izzy off and walked back home and got in the car. I drove to work – a ten minute drive, which goes directly past the school, but I insist on walking the school run anyway – and arrived at 9.20am.

I am an office manager at a firm of specialist surveyors. Today I typed the minutes from yesterday’s staff meeting and had a meeting with our independent financial advisor about the company pensions. I ate a plum, a satsuma and an apple at my desk, had a cigarette outside and went to the butchers downstairs to buy two pieces of fillet steak for dinner (cost: £6.58).

After that I went to the chemist to collect my prescriptions, then came back to the office to pick up Eddie. Eddie is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross that belongs to one of my colleagues, who is going away overnight for work this week. He often asks us to look after Eddie when he’s away, which suits me fine because we are getting a puppy early next year and it helps Izzy get used to having a dog around the house.

Eddie and I got in the car and came home about 1.20pm. (I work less than four hours a day since Izzy started school in September). I had leftover homemade ginger and butternut squash soup and a slice of toast for lunch, then drove to the gym.

I go to the gym about five times a week. It helps me to stay fit, but I would go even if it had nothing to do with health because I really enjoy it. I did circuit training – a total of 45 minutes cardio and 20 minutes of heavy resistance work, followed by some stretches and abdominals. Had a lovely shower afterwards, got a text from Lee-Anne saying she had finished her final exam for her Open University degree, then stopped in the gym reception for a double expresso before heading home.

I got home at 4.15pm feeling shattered. I had a cigarette, made a few boring phone calls (booking a hairdresser appointment etc), hung out the washing and pottered around on the internet for half an hour.

At 5.15pm I put my iPod on, chose a playlist featuring Courtney Love, Avril Lavigne, Franz Ferdinand, Dandy Warhols etc and Eddie and I headed off to the park. She pulled on the lead all the way there. When we got there it was just starting to get dark, really misty with a feeling of dampness in the air. I go to that park all the time with Izzy but today it had a really special feel to it. It is a beautiful, well-established park, the kind that don’t exist in Milton Keynes and tonight it was almost empty bar a few dog walkers. We marched at top speed across the open expanses of grass, bordered with huge oak trees, and I got that fantastic ‘at one with nature’ feeling you usually only get walking on cliffs, or beaches, or in gigantic thunderstorms. It was great – the total highlight of my day. We walked all the way round the park and the lake, then back towards home. Izzy had gone to a friend’s house after school so we stopped there at 6pm to collect her. I chatted with the friend’s mum for a few minutes while Izzy put her shoes and coat on and gathered her belongings, then we walked home.

When we arrived home, Matt had already got back from work (he cycles – it’s only 3 miles) and we got straight in the car and drove to the school for parents evening. We had a look at Izzy’s work in the classroom – she knows more sounds than anybody else in her class, apparently – and spoke to her teacher who says she is settling in well. There was a book fair so we bought her a couple of books, walked back to the car and drove home. We got back at 7.10pm and hustled Izzy into her pyjamas, read her a couple of books and tucked her into bed.

Then I went downstairs and started on the dinner. We were having steak ciabatta – basically you warm the ciabatta in the oven, season the steak and grill it, drizzle olive oil on the warm ciabatta, pile in some rocket leaves, put the steak on top and spread wholegrain mustard on it. It was delicious, even if I do say so myself. I had a small piece of stöllen for pudding – I know it’s only October, but I ADORE that stuff and can’t possibly wait until Christmas!

After that I was knackered so I went and lay down in bed for half an hour, then got up and tried to phone my brother but he was out. I chatted to Matt for a while, then downloaded some pictures from my camera onto the computer. I’ve got to take a huge load of photographs on CD-Rom to Jessops to get printed. Matt’s Dad and Nan don’t have computers so we have to get a load of pictures printed every now and again for them.

After I’ve typed this, I’ve got to sew some name labels into Izzy’s gloves for school, take up a pair of trousers and go and have one last cigarette before I go to bed about 11.30pm.

I’d like to say that this was an insanely busy and hectic day for me, but to be honest it was pretty average. I like being busy.

Nine months of hell

October 16, 2006

It might sound like it from the title, but no, I am not pregnant.

Yesterday I signed up for the next chunk of my OU degree. It's time to say farewell to my social life again!

I'm doing Exploring Psychology, which starts in January 2007. It's a level two course, with an associated summer school, thereby making it more work than I have ever attempted before in a year.

Alongside the course I will also be moving house and getting a new puppy, as well as coping with six weeks of school holidays, during which I will lose all my study time.

Don't expect to see much of me next year. I feel stressed just thinking about it. But as usual, I expect I'll find a way.

Learning to read

October 12, 2006

Izzy: What does that say Mummy? (points to phonics card 'or' stuck on wall)
Me: What do you think it says?
Izzy: I don't know.
Me: Well, what does the word underneath it say? Fffff-or-kkkk
Izzy: Ffff-orrr-kkk. FORK!
Me: That's right. So what is the middle sound?
Izzy: Ffff-orrrr-kkk. Orrrrkkk.
Me: No.. just the middle sound.
Izzy: Orrrr.
Me: That's right.
Izzy: Like in 'door'!
Me: Yes!
Izzy: And... in 'floor'.
Me: Yes!
Izzy: And in 'law'.
Me: Errrrr... sort of. It's not the same. Unless you mean 'lore', as in arcane lore. But you're kind of right! Er.. some words are spelled different ways... er...

Fucking bloody stupid English language is pissing me right off lately. I found this the other day, which just about sums it up:

I take it you already know
of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble, but not you,
on hiccough, thorough, laugh and through.
Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
to learn of less familiar traps?

Beware of heard, a dreadful word,
that looks like beard and sounds like bird.
And dead -- it's said like bed not bead --
and for goodness' sake don't call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat
(They rhyme with suite and straight and debt)

A moth is not the moth in mother,
nor both in bother, broth in brother.
And here is not a match for there,
nor dear and fear for bear and pear.
And then there's dose and rose and lose --
just look them up -- and goose and choose,
and cork and work and card and ward,
and font and front and word and sword,
and do and go and thwart and cart --
come, come I've hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Man alive.
I'd mastered it when I was five.


October 09, 2006

I've owned my favourite pair of boots for six years. I bought them from Russell & Bromley in Bath not long before I got pregnant, and they have been the best footwear I have ever owned. I wear them to work almost every day and they still look great. They are so comfortable and yet so stylish and beautiful and I love them. I'm eternally grateful that I was wild and careless with money before I had Izzy and indulged myself because there is no way I could've afforded to spend that kind of money on boots afterwards.

Well... they are starting to get a bit scuffed and old, which is fair enough after six years of constant use, and I have been thinking about replacing them. And I couldn't see the point of buying cheap boots, because they just wouldn't last as long or be as beautiful. And now we can sort of afford it, I thought I should at least see what was available.

This weekend I was in Bath, and hence I ended up in Russell & Bromley. And I set eyes upon the boots, and they had to be mine. No other boots would do. I tried on the boots. They were perfect.

Willo suggested I try a few other shops before I spent scary money on the boots, so we went round Office and Hobbs and a couple of others, but it was no good. My heart was set on THOSE boots. So I called Mattgreen to er, just see what he thought, before I spent an insane amount of money on boots, to just make SURE that'd be OK. And he said that it was, because he is a kind and loving husband, and I rushed back to Russell & Bromley and bought the boots.

Here they are:

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