Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Surprise!

What are your views on surprise endings? I have finished reading ‘Something Might Happen’ and I must say I was surprised at the ending. I won’t spoil it for anyone who might indulge into the book themselves, but the ending rather took my breath away.
Personally, I am a big fan of a tale with a twist. Maybe that’s why I love Stephen King so much. You never know want journey he is going to take you on, and where the journey will finish. He must have strange dreams that man, if his everyday thoughts and stories are anything to go by. I wonder if he shares the same dream as me - animals attempting to eat him?! I’d like to think I have something in common with him! Or maybe I should stick with both of us suffer from poor eye sight.
The next book on my shelf is ‘Case Histories’ by Katie Atkinson. Anybody out there read this book? Incidentally it comes recommended by Mr King himself.
I didn’t have any spare time to read this book last night, as my dear friend Helen picked me up for our monthly meeting. Our monthly meeting in the cosy and warm atmospheric pub. Vintage cheddar and home made chutney baguettes, with chunky chips, and a glass of chilled white wine. And my friends good company to accompany the food and drink. A perfect way to spend a Tuesday night. Or any night of the week really.
Her adorable seven children, our favourite chocolate bars and our mutual friends wedding arrangements were discussed. Until we were both yawning from exhaustion and over-eating.
And the surprise ending of the night for us, was the peacock strutting around in the car park. I managed to follow him and take a snap shot for Flying Pink Elephants. Here he is below. I hope you like him.

Picture of the day:

The colourful peacock.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Training

Yesterday I put my sensible head on and attended an Acrobat 8 training course. My not-so-sensible head had to be left behind with my packed lunch. (I realised my packed lunch would not be needed as luncheon vouchers would be issued with the training notes, writing pad and pen.)
And it seems to be one extreme to the other with me. I'm either darting around and panicking about the time, or arriving at places ridiculously early. I arrived at the training course ridiculously early - 45 minutes before the scheduled time. I was worried there would be delays on the trains or I'd find myself hopelessly lost, searching for the correct building. Therefore I left my house with plenty of time to spare, and to my astonishment, the trains were running without any delays and my map reading was a success.
So a coffee was purchased to kick-start my brain into gear and I sat in the course seating area, nervously reading the notes and hoping I would understand all the technical jargon.
My not-so-new boss arrived shortly after me. "Blimey you're keen," she commented. Then the two of us disappeared into the designated room with the tutor.
The course began. Just the one small complaint, the tutor was fond of demonstrating the Acrobat package to us at lightening speed. "Could you repeat that please?" and "I'm lost!" could be heard too many times from my not-so-new-boss and I. Sometimes these words were said with annoyance, sometimes amusement, and sometimes pure and utter despair.
We managed to complete the course, and I now understand Acrobat 8. Should there ever be any doubts regarding my understanding, I have a certificate to prove it.
Two more courses are booked for this week. I'm hoping to be a fountain of knowledge before the week is out. Or maybe I'll just be very tired.

Picture of the day is Westminster Abbey, which is situated near the training course building:

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Friday, 22 February 2008

Everything she wants

How much fun can two girls have with a bottle of wine, a digital camera and a George Michael CD? The answer is – lots of fun!
Last night my friend Caron and I were together again. We met at our usual meeting place, and this time headed to a converted fire station. It’s been converted into a pub now, for thirsty passers-by, without a fire engine or a fireman in sight. We had a couple of drinks to line our stomachs and de stress ourselves from the busy working day (that was our excuse, and we’re sticking to it).
After our drinks, the boyfriend picked us up from the train station, and it was back to their delightful home to chop vegetables (I was chief chopper) and open a bottle of Pino Grigio. Dinner was a delicious pork, vegetables and mashed potato combination. Thanks Caron! Compliments to the chef.
After dinner we reminisced about telephone calls to The Sun newspaper and playing ‘Happy Christmas everyone’ in my loft. I won’t elaborate, let’s leave it there.
“Would you like to listen to George?” Caron then enquired.
Is the sky blue?! Is grass green?! Is water wet?!
“Yes please. I always want to listen to George!” was my reply.
And so the music played, lyrics were yelled at the top of our voices, dance routines were attempted, and the camera came out to capture the scene. What a fantastic night.
I’m not feeling too clever today though. Is it home time yet?
I wish you all a fantastic weekend, and I hope it’s full of everything you want!

Pictures of the day:


Put him on!


My partner in crime and wine.


Casually chatting on the telephone.


I do like this wall.


You're all heart!


Nope, I haven't seen your tangerines.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Books, Brits and Blossom

Isn’t it great how a book can totally absorb you into it’s pages and characters, and you can struggle to put the book down and carry on with your every day life? Well, I think it’s great. That’s how I feel about the book I am reading now, ‘Something might happen’ by Julie Myerson. I bought the book a little while back for 50p in a charity shop. Even better when it only cost you a tiny percentage of the recommended retail price, and your money is going towards charity!
The story begins with a brutal murder in a sleepy England seaside town. The murder certainly awakes and shakes the town. The victim was a mother, a wife, a friend, and a daughter, and as the story unravels the reader witnesses how her murder has affected the lives of the people she has left behind. I love the way Julie Myerson writes with honesty and sensitivity, and observations so clear and poignant that you feel as if you are inside the pages of the book. So I’m having trouble closing the book and leaving the story behind!
Last night my parents and I ordered a Chinese take-away. Sadly my nan is in hospital again, and after a day of visiting her my mother was too tired to cook. Kung Po Chicken and Singapore noodles were piled on my plate, with my book strategically placed next to it. The height of bad manners, I know, to read at the table, but my parents didn’t seem to mind as I stole sneaky glances at the pages.
After dinner I retired to my bedroom to watch ‘The Brits 2008 Awards'. Predictably it was full of drunken acceptance speeches and the wrong introductions, not to mention lots of swearing from the presenters, The Osbournes. What did you expect with them presenting?! Hardly well known for their politeness, are they. The family of Ozzy Osbourne, he whose teeth once ripped off a bats head on stage. Nice. I’ll stick to my noodles thanks.
Anyway, despite Take That winning awards (I have a soft spot for them) and Kylie and Amy Winehouse performing (everyone loves Kylie, don’t they? And that Amy Winehouse is growing on me, rather like her beehive hairstyle keeps growing on her), I was still distracted by my book and I kept missing chunks of the programme.
The show finished, bathtime was a quick dip, and bedtime meant I could wrap my duvet around me and snuggle up to my book and lamp. I dread to think what time I finally closed the book and decided I couldn’t stay awake any longer.
As you can imagine, it was even harder than usual to prise myself out of my bed this morning. I was a little behind schedule, and raced around like a loony. It didn’t help matters that three of us were trying to use the bathroom at the same time and kept colliding into each other. I was in a rush to catch my three trains, and my parents were in a rush to be ready for more workmen. The new kitchen has been installed and what a beauty it is, now we are having new flooring laid and new wallpaper hung. And never let it be said that my parents aren’t creatures of habit – we are having exactly the same wallpaper in the kitchen as the wallpaper we had before.
I practically ran to the station to catch my first train, looking forward to reading my next chapter. But I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to not notice the pretty pink blossom appearing on the trees. Yippee, at this rate it will be springtime before we know it.

Picture of the day:

Blossom time.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Here's one I made earlier

Create – to evolve from one's own thought or imagination, as a work of art or an invention.
I have intentions to create very soon. Since the merry month of last December, I have made all my Christmas and birthday cards. I’ve really enjoyed making them. Each card has been suited to the individual receiver and I have found the process therapeutic and rewarding. Father Christmases, snowmen, snowflakes, balloons, birthday cakes - they have all featured on my cards. Okay, I’m not quite ready to open my own card shop or buy a stall at the next craft fair (it’s a nice thought!) but I think I’m ready to progress to other creative things. Hence the book below ‘The complete practical book of crafts’. I excitedly purchased the book the other day, my head swimming with ideas and gift opportunities.
It’s exactly two days until pay day (hey, who’s counting?!) and I’ve already made a list of arty pieces that I require – tracing paper, paints, pens, etc and I’ve been searching my house for boxes and glasses and other such items to paint and decorate. Oh what fun I’m going to have, and probably what a mess I’ll make too.
It’s Mothers Day soon, so I think my lucky mother will be my first creative victim. Hmmm, if I could only decide which of the 300 ideas to choose from. This could take some time!
I’ll let you know how I get on.

Picture of the day:

Blame it on the book.

Monday, 18 February 2008

I'm back

I’m back in the United Kingdom, back in London, back in the office, and back at my desk. And I can honestly say that it feels like I have never been away. Especially when I heard the announcement on the tube this morning, informing half asleep commuters that Oxford Circus tube station was shut and part of the Bakerloo line was suspended. Welcome back!
An alternative route had to be found into work and therefore I was twenty minutes late.
I hate being late for work. I always rush into the office, flustered, muttering “delays on the trains again” thinking that everyone is watching me as I slink onto my chair, and feeling as if I have battled my way into work. Those station closures and suspended lines have a lot to answer for! They need to take full responsibility for my sudden change of mood. One minute I can be happily reading away, the next I can be tutting away with the rest of the carriage, as I realise there are leaves on the track, or signal problems, or the train driver wants to stop off to buy a newspaper and a Mars Bar. Actually I made the last excuse up, but it wouldn’t surprise me, I’ve heard all sorts of delay reasons in my time.
To cheer myself up this morning, after the shock of being back to work and the not such a shock at being late for work, thanks to the transport system, I bought myself a cinnamon and raisin bagel. And toasted it in the new office toaster. It was lovely, and made everything seem that little bit more bearable. Although I had to drink my coffee out of one of the chipped mugs. You have to be in the office kitchen at the break of dawn to find a mug that isn’t chipped. But today I pretended not to notice the chips, nothing was going to spoil my cinnamon and raisin toasted bagel.
Let’s hope my journey home is smoother as I have an important date with the television and the telephone tonight. Yep, it's catch up with the telly and catch up with friends tonight. And I do not, under any circumstances, wish to be delayed. Thank you.

Picture of the day:

Flowers on the window sill.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

My feet hurt

Happy Valentines Day to you! Can you sense the romance in the air? Is cupids arrow flying your way? Or perhaps not?!
For me, the perfect companion right now would be a pair of slippers, to hug and support my poor aching feet.
I feel drastically sorry for my feet. What have I put them through? The comfortable shoes were not so comfortable - are they ever?! I have been standing on my feet at the Congress for four days, ten hours each day, trying to register as many people as possible to our on-line-newsletter, with the chance of winning an Apple ipod. And at the same time trying to tempt them with a free magazine and subscription. It's been tough on my feet. I have blisters on my blisters, and aches in places I didn't know I could possible ache.
I thought I would share these aches and pains with you. How generous I am!
But can you see now why a pair of slippers would be the answer to my prayers? Or a massage. Or a new pair of feet. Can you do that? Can you buy new feet?! If so, I'll have a pair of size 4's please, in immaculate condition, without a blemish or a sore bit in sight. Sheer bliss.
Who needs red roses or slushy words if you have slippers and soft skin on your feet?! Romance is over rated anyhow.

For those who are being treated tonight to a table for two, with a romantic setting, enjoy!
I'll leave you with pictures of my not so romantic Spanish night out, with work colleagues. But never the less, the food was tasty, and the traditional Spanish atmosphere was soaked up, along with plenty of white wine.

Pictures of the day:

Barcelona restaurant.






Monday, 11 February 2008

Where am I?

Hola! That was my feeble attempt to speak in Spanish. Anyone care to guess where I am right now? Do you have a tiny inkling? For those who are still none the wiser - I am in Spain. A Barcelona hotel room is my exact location.
Yes folks, it's the Mobile World Congress. And so far it's been one mini disaster after another! Okay, maybe 'disaster' is a harsh word to describe life at the MWC. But it doesn't matter how organised you are, how postive you try to be, things out here never go quite to the original plan.
There has been missing keys, missing magazines, the wrong chair, the incorrect exhibition stand set up, team arguments and a suspected broken finger.
It was not my suspected broken finger (for once my clumsiness can not be blamed), it was my work colleague and friends finger. After three different hospital trips with her, and a lot of sitting around, it has been confirmed it's a fracture, and not a break. It's still jolly painful, and inconveinent to have your finger bandaged.
Apart from that, everything has been fine!

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment, brought to you live from a certain hotel room in a certain foreign country.

PS I look forward to catching up with your blogs very soon! I haven't forgotten you.

Pictures of the day:

What do you think of the show so far?








Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Love and hate (otherwise known as cheese and prawns)

There’s a fine line between love and hate, or so they say.
In matters of the heart, I can see there is an element of truth in this – have you ever loved someone one day, only to find that the next day they have hurt and infuriated you so much, you feel as if you hate them?!
But with other matters, such as prawns and cheese, I think the line between love and hate is a big fat one. I hate prawns with a vengeance but I adore cheese.
There is a point to my waffling (I think?!) as there is a meme circulating planet blog and it’s the love and hate theme.
Since my life is not very interesting at the moment (just you wait till I hit those Barcelona streets, then I’ll have something to write about!), I thought I would put my thinking cap on (it’s a yellow one), delve deep into my murky mind and conjure up a list of my loves and hates in this world.
And (in no particular order) it goes something like this:

1. I love springtime. Winter is all very well but it can drag on and be far too cold and dark. When spring arrives, how refreshing it can be! You can wake up in the morning, look out of your window, and witness the blue skies above, the pink blossom on the trees and the yellow daffodils sprouting their happy, proud heads. Beautiful.
Plus in springtime you can celebrate the Easter holiday, enjoy the nice long Easter weekend, with lots of chocolate eggs to work your way through.

2. I love books. I honestly cannot imagine life without books. I’ve enjoyed reading from a tender young age, and found myself mesmerised by Enid Blyton classics such as ‘The Famous Five’ and ‘The Secret Seven’ and not forgetting the ingenious ‘The Faraway Tree’. Then I moved onto the likes of the ‘Sweet Valley High’ collection for teenagers, to the more grown up and chilling world of Stephen King.
I don’t seem to have as much reading time these days as once upon a time, in the past it has been known for me to sit down and read a whole book in one day. But these days my daily commuting to the office, and my spurts of insomnia, will guarantee a book will be opened and another world will be gratefully escaped into.

3. I love lazy, rainy Sundays. I think there’s something quite special and safe about being indoors when the rain is splashing against the windowpane. Especially on a Sunday, if you have no desire or plans to leave the house.
Pyjamas can be sat in for longer than necessary, the Sunday papers can be idly read, and an Agatha Christie film or a Walt Disney production would be my perfect viewing choice. And then there’s the Sunday roast to be cooked and devoured, with a cheeky glass of wine or two.
Bring on the next lazy, rainy Sunday!

4. I love cheese. No real surprise here! To me a slice of heaven would be a plateful of various cheeses - Stilton, Wensleydale, Feta, Cheddar, Edam. Brie etc etc.
I have one small complaint – why does it have to be so darn fattening?! If cheese was full of vitamins and ingredients which made you loose weight, instead of gaining weight, I would be the healthiest, slimmest, happiest girl that ever lived!

5.
I love my family and friends. Where would I be without them? I couldn’t possibly make a list of my loves without mentioning them. That knowing look, the genuine and warm smile, the hug you need, and the knowledge that you are with someone who cares.
Family birthday teas and catch-ups with friends, you can’t beat ‘em!

6.
I love George. I think you know which George I am referring to! I won’t bore you to tears with my mini obsession with Mr Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou (that’s his real name) so I’ll just say his voice is rapture to my ears. And when I hear that silky voice and those meaningful lyrics, I am immediately propelled into a happy, content, parallel universe, which I'm often reluctant to leave behind.

7. I love blogging!
To think that this time last year I was oblivious to the word and the world behind blogging. One of my favourite times of the day is in the mornings, when I log onto FPE to read a comment which someone has kindly taken the time to write. And then I blog skip and hop to see what’s going on in the lives of my blog friends. So many interesting, colourful and fun blogs to read. And such a brilliant way to interact with people from all over this world.

Moving swiftly on to my hates:

1. I hate people who drive too close to me in their car. It really is one of my pet hates, and guaranteed to make my blood boil! I do not drive my car as if I’m on a racetrack, but neither do I drive it at a snails pace! So why the need to be that close mister?! How come I can see the hairs up your nose and the veins in your eyes?! Back off, slow down, find some patience, and stop that dangerous driving. And stop stressing me out!

2. I hate it when people shut doors in your face. Literally. Have you ever made your way to a shop or the office, and you’re behind someone who has their hand on the door, and then, without checking if someone is behind them, they swing the door back in your face?! Or is it just me this happens to?
It happens to me on a regular basis when I walk through the reception doors in the office. A colleague will be in front, not bother to look behind them, and slam, there goes the door in my face! How rude is that? Maybe it's just me this occurs to?
Can anyone help me out here?!

3. I hate the sound of my alarm clock. It’s never good news. It's always interrupting my (bizarre) dreams and telling me I have to get out of my comfortable, warm bed and face another day.

4. I hate prawns.
Yuk! I hate them in their shells, out of their shells, on my plate, or near my plate. I hate the look of them, the texture of them, the taste of them, the smell of them. I hate prawns. Got it?!

Okay, instead of going on and on and writing about everything under the sun which winds me up, I'll do you all a huge favour and stop there. I'm sure you've heard enough by now!
I'll leave you with that prawn comment, my dearest readers.

Pictures of the day (note how blue the sky is today, anyone would think it was springtime!):

China in London.


Happy Chinese New Year.

Monday, 4 February 2008

My retreat

Bad day in the office? Life becoming too expensive? The outside world too cold for comfort? If you have answered "yes" to one or more of these questions then I think you need a place of retreat.
I have a place of retreat – my bedroom. And the four white walls have become very familiar recently. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my bedroom? No, well, let me mention it now. It may be on the small side, so am I (height I mean, my width is another matter entirely), but it’s all mine.
I’ve been the sole owner of the room since it was built thirty years ago. My family and I moved into the house, or should I say bungalow, three decades back, and my parents decided it would be nice to build an upstairs.
So a staircase and three bedrooms were built. For a long while workmen occupied our home, and I kept pretending I'd forgotten which room was to be my bedroom (I was only five at the time) and therefore I kept asking to be shown. If I remember correctly, I asked the builders an average of three times a day to show me which room would be mine. "I've forgotten again," I would say. How annoying I must have been.
Over the years the d├ęcor and contents have changed on numerous occasions, depending on my age and hobbies at the time. It started off with Sindy dolls and stuffed animals, and then progressed to a desk with a typewriter. Next came the record player and Wham! posters, followed by a sofa bed for friends to permantly crash on. These days it’s filled with books (actually, it's always been filled with books but my reading material has changed and grown with me) and photographs of my friend’s children. And a few ornaments scattered here and there.
I deserted my room for a few years, and much to the surprise and amusement of my family and friends, I moved out and became domesticated. Okay, it took me a while to get into the swing of it, but once I got the hang of it, there was no stopping me!
Unfortunately or fortunately, which ever way you look at it, I realised that my new home and all the odd characters and the crazy life style was not for me. So I came back.
I actually walked back into my bedroom and said "Hi honey, I’m home.”
My father muttered something about he knew he should have knocked that wall down and expanded their room, and my mother complained she would never get her walk-in-wardrobe. But then they explained they were only joking and it would be lovely to have me around again.
And I’m still there. Other than visiting the gym in the last few weeks, I have spent many an evening lounging around in my bedroom, reading ('The Bind Assassin' was a very enjoyable read, interwoven with a novel inside the novel, now it’s 'Enduring Love'), watching telly (I’m really into cookery programmes at the moment, 'Master Chef' and 'Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares' are holding my attention), listening to music and tapping away on my lap top. I don't do all these things at the same time, I hasten to add. I’m not that clever.
As much as I fantasise about owning my own property, for me to decorate and entertain in, I’ll miss my bedroom when I finally spread my wings and fly away again.
And I’d like to think that perhaps the sentiment will be returned.

Pictures of the day:

Scenes from my retreat.

The shoe candles.


Home is where the heart is.


You light up my life.