Friday night on the M25

January 30, 2010

We are stuck in a long queue of traffic. It is moving, but pretty slowly. I'm making idle conversation with Mattgreen about the other vehicles and their owners.

Alicey: Look, he's left his petrol cap open! Someone could siphon his petrol.
Mattgreen (enthusiastically): Pull up alongside, I'll get the hose in!
(Mattgreen starts winding his window down and slurping loudly)

Later, we pass a guy in a pimped up Citroen Saxo with no numberplate.
Whilst we are taking the mickey out of his twin exhaust pipes, I realise that the reason he isn't moving forward is because he's too busy doing something on his lap.

Alicey: He's either having a wank or rolling a fag.
Mattgreen: I think that gentleman may be rolling a 'European' cigarette.

You're The One For Me, Fatty

January 27, 2010

Yesterday I took Ludo to the vet to get her weighed for her worming tablets.

She has gained 9kg in the last six months and now weighs 61kg. That's nine and half stone! That's more than my mum!


The vet says she has got too fat and we need to cut back on her food. We checked how much food she should be getting and it turns out we've been slightly overfeeding her. She's got to go on a doggy diet!

I rang Mattgreen to tell him this. He was at the school gate and I could hear Izzy laughing in the background. When she came home from school, she went straight up to Ludo and said, "Hi Chubby"! Later that day, Mattgreen came home and Ludo went rushing up to him wagging her tail and he said, "Hello Porky"!

The poor dog is getting a complex...
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You either love it or you hate it

January 22, 2010

Last night, as I was making a cup of tea and toast & Marmite for our supper, I realised that I've changed my opinion on both of those items in the last five years.

Tea: I always used to take tea the One True Way, that is milk and one sugar. All the best people have their tea that way. I still smile to myself when I meet someone new who has tea that way, because it is obviously The Best. However... a few years ago my brother went to live in Antarctica, and there was no dentist on the base where he was living. Basically if you needed dental treatment, the doctor had to have a crack at it, whether they knew anything about dentistry or not.

My bro decided to give up his one sugar in tea. Probably a wise move.

Anyway, he told me it wasn't that hard and I figured it would be like changing from full fat Coke to diet Coke (which I did years ago without too much hassle), so I decided that me and Mattgreen would give up sugar too. After all, we both drink a few cups of tea a day, and that's five and a half kilos of sugar a year. And if we could get used to tea without sugar then we wouldn't even miss it, right?

It was quite hard and it took at least six months and even now if someone accidentally puts sugar in my tea I can drink it (unlike coffee - sugary coffee is only fit for the drain). But we did it! And I don't miss it. So if you are still drinking sugar in tea - give it up!

Marmite: their slogan is 'love it or hate it' and for the first thirty years of my life I hated it. I didn't like the smell, the colour or the gloopy consistency. I was definitely in the Hate It camp.

Then I started doing Weight Watchers before my wedding, and Marmite is one of their free foods. I love toast but all the things I usually had on it (jam, honey, marmalade, Nutella) cost points. Marmite was free. I decided I would see if I could make myself like it because it would be convenient to do so, and gradually over a few months, I managed to convince myself. Mattgreen thought it was hilarious watching me wincing and choking it down the first few times, but I got there in the end, and now I like it! (Although only in the evenings. Eating Marmite for breakfast is something only freaks and weirdos do).

I am the only person I've ever met who has managed to switch sides on Marmite.
Maybe that should be my life's greatest achievement ... ha ha.

Answers on a postcard...

January 19, 2010

I've got an application form to fill in, and one of the questions on it is:

What do you think has been your greatest achievement in life so far?

And I have been pondering this for days, and I still have no idea. The word achievement makes it sound as if it has to be something impressive, something that would make other people say 'wow'! It also sounds like it should be something that I'm proud to have accomplished.

I'm not sure I can think of a single thing I've ever done which falls into both those categories at once.

I could come up with some random qualifications and exams I've passed. I mean - yeah, I was happy to get a distinction, it was good - but is it really the pinnacle of achievement? Is it really something which I would lie on my deathbed and say, I'm proud I got that? Er, no.

I can come up with other stuff I've done that I was proud of at the time - things I did at work, cakes I made for weddings, pieces of writing, that kind of thing - but again, none of them on their own are impressive enough to deserve the title of greatest achievement.

So, what about the cheesy old, "I've brought up a beautiful, clever, happy child" type stuff? Well I have a bit of a problem with that, because I think that's Izzy's achievement rather than mine. I think it's a bit arrogant to assume that she's great because of something I did. And although I am very proud of her, I have no desire to steal her thunder. And besides, most people can do a half-decent job of bringing up kids, so it hardly counts as a major achievement.

I guess the thing I'm most proud of is my resilience, my ability to keep on pushing forward even when things are shit, and my enthusiasm for life in general. But that's more of a personality trait than an achievement...

I'm screwed aren't I?

I need to get a PhD or write a book or run a marathon or do something amazing.

The black of my stock pot matches the black of my soul

January 16, 2010


This week:

1. I lost out on an ebay auction for the Smythson organiser I've been lusting after since last August. I had it on my watch list but I was upstairs reading to Izzy and forgot to bid, and then it sold for less than 50% of retail.

2. In that game I go on about all the time, each player has a friends list. This allows you to stay in touch with people you've met during your adventures. You can send them messages and meet up with them.

A few weeks ago I met a guy called Logan. He was really nice and we fought together for a while and chatted. The other day I sent him a message and he invited me to join him fighting a boss monster. He'd switched off teleports but he turned them back on so I could join him. We chatted for half an hour or so and we got on really well. We talked about our other characters, about pvp, about strategy. He told me his real name and asked what mine was. You know when you just click with someone? It was like that. Then we said goodbye, nice playing with you, see you soon etc and went our separate ways.

Then yesterday I was looking through my friends list when I noticed he wasn't on there anymore. People don't just vanish - so basically he must have deleted me.

I know I shouldn't care that someone I've never met and whom I've only played with twice has deleted me. I know that in the grand scheme of things, it really isn't that important. But it bothers me. Did he not like me? Did I annoy him? Did I do something wrong? Or did he delete me by accident? Whatever the reason, it's upset me far more than it should.

3. Last night I got some chicken bones out of the freezer I'd been saving to make stock. This morning I cut up carrots, turnip, onion and garlic. I used up all my last bits and pieces of herbs. I skimmed the stock and kept an eye on it for a couple of hours while doing other chores in the kitchen. It was going to be a basis for the chicken soup I'm making to use up the spare from our roast tomorrow.

Then I wandered off. A couple of hours later I said to Mattgreen, 'what's that smell?' The stock had burned dry. All my time and effort and four hours of gas have been wasted, we have no soup base and my pot (which is part of a set we got as a wedding present) is fucked beyond repair.

I know this is pretty bloody self indulgent when people on the other side of the world have lost their children and their homes and their lives. But you know what, I bet most people couldn't have found Haiti on an unmarked map before the earthquake. And 80% of people in Haiti already lived in absolute poverty before the quake. But nobody gave a shit then did they? Because they were too busy worrying about their own equivalent of organisers and online game rejection and stock pots...

*rolls eyes*
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New Year's Resolutions 2010

January 03, 2010

1. Be less busy

I decided way back in June that I desperately need to cut back on some of my commitments. We had one particularly insane weekend where we had nine people for lunch in our tiny little house (we had to sit in the garden, lucky it wasn't raining)! Then within an hour of those guests leaving we had three more arriving for a couple of nights. It was fun, but in another way it was exhausting, and I desperately need to learn how to say no to some things in order to properly enjoy others. It is not good to be busy for the next six weekends in a row, even if all six are doing things you enjoy. It is not good to volunteer for things, then feel bitter and resentful about them afterwards (i.e. volunteering to bring a load of work home over Christmas - why? why did I do that?)

I think this will be very difficult and it inevitably means we will see less of friends and family, and that makes me sad. But let's see how it goes.

2. Learn to put on eye makeup properly

In 2009 I finally started wearing makeup properly. It has been a long time coming but I've reached a certain age where I look better with it than without it. I always wear makeup to work and if I'm seeing people or going out, which works out about six days a week. My mother never showed me how to apply makeup (and anyway, she still paints on Chanel eyeliner with a paintbrush). I was too much of a goth to be interested in anything remotely subtle as a teenager. So this year I've decided: I'm going to practice with the aid of Youtube and/or go to a beautician for a proper lesson. Yet another step towards becoming a grown up...

3. Make every recipe in 'A Passion For Puddings'

This idea came about talking to my sisters-in-law. They bought me this book a few years ago and we all think it's amazing and that Phil Vickery is in fact, God. We saw them over Christmas and we had the Christmas Cake and Brandy Parfait and as usual, it was delicious. There's thirty five recipes in the book, I've already made nearly half of them and every one has been a success. Mattgreen, unsurprisingly, is right behind this resolution.

4. Regularly take photos on my favourite dog walk

Throughout the year I take Ludo over to the fields near my house to walk her. It is the most gorgeous countryside I've ever been lucky enough to live near, and I am still frequently taken aback at just how beautiful it is. I've often taken photos like this on my mobile phone:

However my phone is shite, and the pictures don't do the views justice. My resolution is to remember to take my camera with me and to take photos every month, then by December I will be able to make some little flash animation of the walk through the seasons.

5. Get my two new Wizard101 characters (balance and death schools) to level 50

And this is the kind of resolution I can get behind! I just recently made level 50 (the maximum) with Scarlet FirePants, and am still having a whale of a time. So I have rolled up a couple of new characters and am starting again from the beginning. You can see them there in the background...

New Year's Eve 2009

January 02, 2010

This year was our best New Year's Eve ever. We had our friends Gordy and Willo to stay (it was a decade this year since Gordy and I spent Christmas and New Year in New York) and this is what we did:

After a leisurely morning playing Wizard101, getting showered and having lunch, we set off for town. We browsed around the shops for a bit before setting off to walk Ludo. It was a bit muddy but it didn't rain, the countryside was as lovely as ever and we found a handy shortcut. We went to our favourite pub on the other side of town and they didn't mind that we traipsed mud all across their floor. We had a pint and played some games and then walked back home, arriving back just as it was getting dark.

For dinner we had goats cheese and tomato tartlets, made by Willo, followed by lamb and pine nut tagine with festive cous cous and pomegranate and red onion relish, followed by cheesecake. We had pink champagne with the starters, Sancerre with the main course, and undrinkable dessert wine with the pudding. Then Izzy went to bed and we got started on the games.

Gordy made an awesome special playlist on my iPod while we were making dinner, and really didn't spend that much considering I gave him free rein of my credit card and the iTunes store :) The playlist has gone straight on my shuffle and will be accompanying me on many dog walks and train journeys to work over the next few weeks.

We started off playing Articulate. Gordy and I won the first game easily. I know this because my camera is full of wonky shots of the board.

At midnight we put the telly on and watched Big Ben (for once we didn't have to have Jools Holland on, who I despise). We cracked open more champagne and rushed outside to watch the fireworks. We could hear them but couldn't see any, but we could see a load of sky lanterns. Mattgreen climbed up on the gate post to get a better view.

After that we came in and listened to our first song of 2010 which had to be the choon of the night, Bad Romance by Lady Gaga. Here are Matt, Gordy and Will doing the "Ra ra raah!" action:

Time rolled by. We got the Amaretto out and started playing Perudo. For some reason I decided to document this in video format:

That video creases me up.
And here is the conclusion:

I think we finally went to bed about 3am. We'd drunk the bottle of Amaretto and made pretty good progress into the second one. Here is a lovely photo montage of how gorgeous we all looked by that point:

You can leave your verdict on who looks the best in the comments.

So as you can see, a great time was had by all! And I didn't even have too much of hangover the next day - at least nothing a cold dog walk and a hot chip butty couldn't solve.

Happy New Year!

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