Thursday, 31 July 2008

Mamma mia, here I go again

I can honesty say I have never been to the cinema and wanted to jump out of my seat and start dancing and singing. Except for last night. Last night was an exception. I saw Mama Mia!
If feel-good movies are your fang, and you're an Abba fan, you'll adore this movie. It stars Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnon and Julie Walters, to name just a few of the cast. Okay, some of the singing is dubious. Let me tell you that Pierce Brosnon does not have a classically trained singing voice, or even a mediocre, passable singing voice. But the cheerful songs, picturesque scenery and the general fun vibe of the film, allow you to excuse his singing voice.
Oh did I say I have never wanted to jump out of my SEAT at the cinema before? Silly me, what I meant to say was BEAN BAG. Last night I watched Mama Mia! on a bean bag, at the front row. It was the only position left remaining. You kind of get used to the bean bag, and you even get used to being so close to the screen that you think you are going to fall into the picture. Literally.
This is another example of me doing things from one extreme to the other.
Several years back my friends and I visited the theatre to see the stage adaption of Mama Mia! Alas the viewing and the sound were very limited to say the least. Our seats were rubbish, the back row, and it seemed the tallest people in the world were sitting in front of us. Mind you, a few of these tall people moved, much to my horror, as one of my friends (I won't mention her name, bless her) was a tad too enthusiastic with the wine and the singing, and kept jumping up in the wrong places and singing all the wrong words. At one point I tried to gag her with my scarf as I was aware of members of the audience tutting and looking slightly perplexed at my friends actions.
Last night watching Mama Mia! was a calmer affair. The big screen at the front row has never looked so big. There were no tall people in front of us. There was no one in front of us at all, just our bags, drinks, popcorn, doritos and cheese sauce. No jumping up and singing 'Dancing Queen' and 'Take a chance on me' at inappropriate times. Although my foot spent the majority of the time tapping on the floor, and I was tempted a few times to jump up and sing Abba songs at the top of my voice. But I do not have a passable singing voice either (you're not alone Pierce!) so luckily I stayed on my bean bag, slurping my drink and scoffing my food. What a great night.

Picture of the day:

The lilies.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The doctor will discuss it further with you

As Vic Reeves once sang, "I'm so dizzy my head is spinning, like a whirlpool it never ends." Which is all very well if you are referring to matters of the heart, but not very good if you are referring to dizzy spells which are causing you to collapse on pavements and trains.
Yep, I'm afraid to inform FPE that recently I have been experiencing dizzy spells. One spell was rather frightening and an ambulance rushed to the scene to check my blood pressure, sugar level and my general state of health.
I then had another spell the other day on a train, which was rather unpleasant too. I could feel the blood draining from my face, my breathing became irregular, the panic set in and the collapsing began.
It's not a new thing either, over the years I've had a few fainting episodes. Getting up too quick and not eating breakfast have been the main culprits in the past. On one particular day I was tucked up in bed when I heard a knock at the front door. I jumped out of my bed and ran down the stairs before the knocker left the premises. I enthusiastically opened the front door, and began to feel hot and weak. My next door neighbour was standing at the other side of the door, explaining he was about to cut a tree down which had overgrown into our front garden. I then promptly fainted. I came to on the hallway carpet with his worried face peering down at me, and then I heard him joke to my mum that I must have been very attached to the tree for his news to cause such a reaction! Ha, ha, Mr next door neighbour, quite the little joker aren't you!
On a more serious note, after a couple of other fainting dilemmas on the trains, my concerned mother made me take a diabetes test as diabetes runs riot in our family. Luckily it was negative. So we came to the conclusion that breakfast was absolutely essential for me in the mornings, and I needed to slow down my pace of life.
I've had a clear run for a while and the dizziness and fainting had been firmly placed in the past. Until recently. Recently I've had two scary experiences and a couple of near misses. So I decided to go for a blood test last week. I've now received a telephone call from the doctors receptionist, saying the doc has found something which he would like to discuss with me.
Oh no, I couldn't help thinking to myself. What's wrong with me? Have I been diagnosed with a mysterious deadly disease which has baffled all medical experts? Will I die a long and painful and weird death? Or maybe I'm anemic or diabetes has finally caught up with me? Trying not to panic, I asked the receptionist if she could discuss the results with me. "Don't panic," was her reply. "It states on your notes that it's not urgent, and B12 has been written down. I'm not sure if there is anything else, but if you'd like to come in next Wednesday at 8.40am the doctor will discuss it further with you."
I ignored the "I'm not sure if there is anything else" part and investigated B12 on the Internet.
I suspect all you intelligent people out there know about B12, but according to the Internet B12 is important for the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. The symptons for the lack of B12 include breathlessness, dizziness and palpitations. I also read that forgetfulness and depression can be signs that the person in question requires extra B12.
Well, they hit the nail on the head with the forgetfulness. I can be incredibly forgetful. And I was reminded of this by my friend Caron last night. We met at the train station for a drink and catch up, and then headed back to her house for dinner. We were discussing her engagement (congratulations honey!) and my possible lack of B12. I mentioned forgetfulness as a symptom, to which my lovely friend who knows me only too well, and has known me for a very long time, replied, "Forgetfulness? In that case, you must have been lacking B12 for years!"
She's dead right though.

Picture of the day:

Flower time.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

I seem to have lost something vital

It's a shame it had to end. But they do say, all good things must come to an end. My annual leave / break from the norm is now officially over. Until the next one.
It's been fun travelling via boat, buying arts and crafts, running around in a maze, reliving banquets from olden days, picnicking on stunning grounds, lunching with my cousin and playing with her energetic kids. "Can we sit down for a while," I found myself saying a few times to the energetic kids. Where do they get their energy from? Splashing in a paddling pool, chasing after a ball, racing up and down the garden. I was worn out.
I also spent an afternoon with my nan in her nursing home. My dear shrinking nan. Every time I see her I wonder how she can possibly be smaller than the last time I saw her. But due to loss of appetite and lack of walking, her frame is decreasing. She still has a huge smile on her face though, which is some consolation.
And so here I am after a seven day break, back at work, staring out the window into the outside world, and wondering when I can take my next holiday. The first day back is always the hardest, wouldn't you agree?
I know I've got to stop staring enviously out the window and stop comparing the office to some kind of maximum security prison. So I'm off to find something to gradually ease me back into work mode. I know all too well what it is I need to find. I'm off to find enthusiasm. I'm positive I had it before my holiday, therefore it must be around here somewhere. Surely it's just a matter of searching for it. Now where shall I look first? Any ideas dear readers?

Picture of the day:

Happy flowers.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Hampton Court Palace

The last time I visited Hampton Court Palace I was dressed as a servant. It was a school trip, and I must put my hands up and confess that I can hardly remember a single thing about the day, apart from wearing a hideous outfit and feeling rather self conscious.
In my younger days I didn't find history particularly interesting, much to my teachers and parents exasperation. These days I love walking through time and I find the past a fascinating world to learn and explore.
Yesterday I visited Hampton Court Palace again, with a dear friend, and read and learnt many dates and facts. We entered grand rooms and not so grand rooms, imagining royal families, knights, servants and actors who had filled the palace with laughter, entertainment, tears and deceit. We then appreciated the amazing gardens, managed not to get lost in the maze, and had a picnic in the beautiful grounds.
Personally I think history could be compared to fine wine - it improves vastly with age.

Pictures of the day:

Hampton Court Palace.

The wine cellar.

The tudar kitchen.

The horses in the garden.

The trees in the garden.

The immacualtely kept, vibrant gardens.

The maze. Erm, which way now?!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Drifting along

This is the life. Drifting along the river, the sun beating down from the blue sky above. Watching the gentle ripples and pieces of history pass you by.
The screeching seagulls are the the only interruptions from the mesmerising, mystical spell of the sparkling river.

Tower Bridge.

Another boat to keep us company.

Canary Wharf.

Greenwich museaum.

The Greenwich wheel.

The river Thames.

Hello Birdie. With the millenim dome in the background.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Arts and crafts and cake

Brace yourself for more piccies folks! I'm on annual leave and the world is my oyster! Well, parts of the world I can afford to visit are my oyster. For example, an arts and crafts village that I visited today. This is a short drive from my house and I often see signs advertising the village but I've never taken the time to look around. Until today. Today that all changed...

The arts and crafts village.

Pottery lessons.

Art classes.

Photography galleries.

Sweet shops.

More shops this way. Hang on a minute, isn't that James Dean?

Time for coffee and cake.

I bought more card making material at the village. Can you guess what I'm doing tonight?

Monday, 21 July 2008

Slice of life

Today's post is a slice of life from last Friday.

Time to stop snoozing and get out of bed! It's always 6.15 in my bedroom, as I haven't bothered to change the batteries in my clock.
But I can rely on my mobile phone alarm to rudely remind me what the correct time is.

After visiting the bathroom I need my breakfast. My mothers kitchen is the ideal place for a cup of tea. There are six teapots and seven milk jugs to choose from.

Walking to the station. I'm always gazing into neighbours gardens and admiring their flowers.

After three train journeys and one newspaper I finally arrive at my destination.

A busy morning in the office means I'm hungry! Soup with pasta and vegetables should fill me up.

After a busy afternoon in the office, my journey back commences. Bye, bye London. See you again in three days!

Friday night means a couple of drinks with a friend. And walking home via the park.
Do you think this swing will hold my weight?!

The ultimate thrill seeker - that's me!

Phew. That's enough excitement for one day. Time to go home. Good night.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The path of true love

I've been thinking again. "Oh no," I hear you cry. "Don't do that, weird things happen when you think." Well, try not to be too alarmed, but I have been pondering over the path of true love.
I became a little philosophical the other day, while commenting on a fellow bloggers blog, and I found myself referring to love as a road full of twists and turns, no entry signs and black holes. On a good day this road can be smooth and calm, with wonderful scenery ahead. Would you agree with me dear readers?
Have you ever felt as if you were on a bumpy road, with signs saying 'broken heart, 2 miles' or 'communication problems - this way!'?
Perhaps you've been travelling way too fast on this road, and you know you should slow down, before things escalate out of control and someone gets seriously hurt. That someone probably being yourself. "I know I should slow down," you may think, "but I'm living on the edge and enjoying myself far too much." Bang! Crash! Wallop! That's you falling down a dirty, great big ditch. If only you'd seen it coming, if only you'd read the signs. Now you're going to have to fathom out how to remove yourself from this nasty, lonely hole, and get things back on track.
But, it's not all pit holes and problems. Sometimes things are quite nice. Sometimes the road is a pleasure to travel on. You may be going along cautiously, admiring the view and thinking, "This is what I've been waiting for. This is what it's all about!"
Oh I've had my fair share of driving too fast, ignoring the signs and hoping the road will stop at 'Worthwhile City' or 'Happiness Valley'. Unfortunately I seem to have a knack of finding 'Is this it? Town' and 'Not what you were looking for Road'.
Still, ever the optimistic romantic I am, I know the road will one day stop at a breath taking, beautiful situation.
In the mean time, maybe I should learn to read a map first?!

Picture of the day:

Roses are red.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Meet the family

Each time I attend a family birthday tea, I can't help noticing, that as a family, we are increasing in size. My dear cousin Sarah has been adding to the numbers with her adorable children, my little cousins are not so little and now have partners. Other families, due to the partners, have been joining us, and now it seems all pets are welcome too.
It was my aunts birthday tea at the weekend, and two dogs and a cat joined the equation. A Bull Mastiff, a black cat and an eleven stone St Bernard were all there to wish my aunt a happy birthday. Animals and humans took over my aunts lounge, kitchen, garden and the shed. The dogs were placed in the shed after we'd said hello to them, as an eleven stone St Bernard is quite intimidating for a four year old, a two year old and an eight month old baby. Not to mention the fact they could be very easily squashed if the dog became too excitable.
"Is he a dog or a donkey?" was my mothers reaction to Joe, the rather large St Bernard. "And how much food does he get through? He must cost a fortune." My ever practical mum.
And talking of food, my aunts birthday spread was delicious. Pates, cheeses, sausages, salads, potatoes, sea food, it was all there for us to point at, nibble on, compliment and help ourselves to more of. Next came the desserts. Always a very popular part of the evening. Raspberries, strawberries, meringues, chocolate cheesecake, toffee pie, and a birthday cake in the shape of a caterpillar, smothered in chocolate and smarties. "For the kids benefit," my aunt insisted. But let's face it, a family birthday tea wouldn't be the same without a birthday cake. Especially one smothered in chocolate and smarties.

Picture of the day:

Meet the two newest additions to the family.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

The rage

There is a terrifying rage sweeping the city of London. A potentially deadly, contagious and frightening rage. I hadn't realised the sheer density of it, until I witnessed it with my own innocent eyes.
I'm not talking about road rage or gang rage, although I am by no means dismissing these rages and their often tragic consequences.
I am referring to - umbrella rage. Never has a a piece of fabric and metal rods caused so much trouble!
Black ones, white ones, spotted ones, frog shaped ones, you can find them and many others on the streets of London. On their own they are harmless enough, but in the hands of the wrong person, it can be bedlam.
I've seen eyes in grave danger of being violently poked out by metal points. I've seen abruptly opened umbrellas scaring passers by, and turning the mildest mannered human into a furious, red faced creature, using the foulest language known to man.
I've seen the look of fury a water logged umbrella has caused, by dripping droplets of rain into an unsuspecting face, or trickling cold rain onto an unknown persons neck.
The umbrella rage is here. And according to the weather man and his monsoon rainfall weather forecast, it could be here for a while.
Wish me luck. It's a battlefield out there.

Picture of the day:

There are dark times ahead.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

It's a small world. But I wouldn't want to paint it.

It’s changes and savings galore in the office. Our summer issue of our main telecoms title will be on-line only, no printing or mailing costs eating into the budget. This makes perfect economical sense, as advertising has always been thin on the ground in this issue. The circulation for our September magazine is being reduced as I type, the powers above have been scrutinising the data. And the extremely tall publisher has left the company. We now have an ‘acting publisher’ until further notice.
All in all, our printers thought it was necessary to take the production department (me, and my not-so-new boss) and the acting publisher out for lunch. I wasn’t complaining. It’s always nice to be taken out for lunch.
A restaurant in short walking distance was chosen, and lasagna with butternut squash was ordered. Polite conversation flowed, new technology discussed, and then we discovered that the sales rep at the printing company and the acting publisher in the office attended the same college and share mutual friends.
“Well I never. It’s a small world,” was said many times.
I’ve often thought how small this large world can be. There are millions of people walking around, and yet one day you will find someone who has a connection with your past or your past friends, or you can bump into the strangest people in the most bizarre circumstances.
I once went to Majorca and bumped into a girl who lived down my road. I turned around in an aeroplane once and saw an acquaintance from my local pub. And I went to a George Michael concert with my cousin, and a girl my cousin went to school with was sitting two rows behind us. I’m sure I could think of many other examples, I expect you could too, probably far better than my examples. But the point I’m making is how small this wonderful world can be.
However, I wouldn’t want to paint it, would you? That would take far too long.

Have you got any 'it's a small world' coincidences that you care to share?

Picture of the day:

Look over there, does that duck look familiar to you?

Monday, 7 July 2008

The scarecrow parade

The vicar, the bride and groom, a boy scout and Elvis Presley were just a few of the attendees at the scarecrow parade. This was held in a neighbouring village at the weekend. And don't worry, Elvis was not in spirit form singing such hits as 'I'm all shook up' (that would have been scary) he was merely a well dressed, silent, scarecrow.
You may have noticed the odd scarecrow appearing on FPE recently, and they were all in preparation for yesterdays grand parade. Unfortunately I didn't stick around to see who the winner was, as my flip flops and flimsy summer dress proved to be inappropriate clothing for the wind and rain. The sky was clear and a delicate shade of blue when I left my house. Oh how changeable the good old British weather can be.
After viewing the straw-filled bodies, I admired the vintage cars, the live band, and the craft stalls. Then I stood in a tent with my friend, to protect ourselves from the wind and rain, and I allowed a woman to read my palm.
I've always fancied delving into palmistry, to see what someone would make of all the lines on my hands. I'm sure I have more lines than the average person, and their meanings have intrigued me. A friend once commented that my palms look like I've lived a hundred years! Nah, I just feel like I've lived a hundred years.
So apparently, according to the lines on my hand, yesterday I was told I'm a deep thinker and I'm level headed, therefore I do not let my heart rule my head and vice versa. I love many people in my life and I am a loyal and a faithful friend. According to the shape of my fingers and thumb, I am artistic and have a generous spirit. I was also informed my life will become more interesting as I grow older (bring on the interesting life!) and I should think about myself more and what I want out of life.
Well, I know what I want out of life, it's getting it that's the tricky part. I'm working on it. Although yesterday I would have been satisfied with warm clothing and an umbrella. (I've busted another umbrella and need to make another purchase). A brolly and a coat - that's all I wanted out of life at that particular moment in time.

How was your weekend, dear readers? I hope you had better luck with the weather? But I bet you didn't see a scarecrow dressed as Elvis Presley. Or did you?

Pictures of the day:

The band. No chance of them getting wet.

Vintage cars.

He should of used anti-wrinkle cream. And seen a dentist.

No wonder he's smiling, he remembered his umbrella.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Fancy a tour?

The other day, during my lunch hour, a tourist asked me where they could buy a pot of anti-wrinkle cream. I wasn’t sure whether to be offended or flattered that I was asked this question. In other words, do I look old and knackered and in need of anti-wrinkle cream? Or do I look youthful and line-free, thanks to anti-wrinkle cream?
Another thought which entered my mind was this – you’ve travelled all the way to London and all you’re interested in is cream for your wrinkles?! What about Buckingham Palace? London Zoo? Madame Tussuad's? Or strawberries and cream at Wimbledon? Please note the weather forecast is wet, therefore it must be Wimbledon tennis season.
Anyway, this cosmetic request interrupted my insignificant day dream, and I began to see London through the eyes of a tourist. Or through the eyes of a tour guide. And believe me, if I was your tour guide, I would be directing you to far more interesting places than a chemist which was offering you a supposedly miracle cure for the aging process.
So adamant was I that I could find these interesting and historic places, I started taking photographs to prove my point.
Allow me, dear readers, to take you on The Flying Pink Elephants mini tour of London. The London land marks situated near my office, and on my journey home to Essex.

For entertainment.
The London Palladium. Now showing the musical: The Sound of Music.
In the 1880's the site of this theatre was home to Hengler's Circus. The current theatre was built in 1910 and presented variety. It was originally named 'The Palladium' before changing to the now familiar name 'The London Palladium' in 1934.
The London Palladium became familiar to many millions in the mid-1950's with the weekly television variety show Sunday Night at The London Palladium - a format that was revived some years later in the late 1980's with Live From The Palladium. The theatre has also been used for concerts - perhaps the most famous one being the 1960's Judy Garland/Liza Minnelli concert which was televised on television.

For food.
The city's present Chinatown is in the Soho area of the City of Westminster. It contains a number of Chinese restaurants, bakeries, supermarkets, souvenir shops, and other Chinese-run businesses.
The first area in London known as Chinatown was located in the Limehouse area of London at the start of the 20th century. The present Chinatown did not start to be established until the 1970s.

To shop.
Hamleys is one of the world's largest toy shops.
Hamleys is named after William Hamley, who founded a toy shop called 'Noah's Ark' at High Holborn in London in 1760. A branch in Regent Street was opened in 1881, and the Holborn branch was destroyed by fire in 1901 and was relocated. The business has survived in various forms to the present day, and at one time was the largest toy shop in the world. Hamleys moved to its current Regent Street premises in 1981.
The store is considered one of London's major tourist attractions, and receives about five million visitors a year.

To relax.
Henry VIII appropriated The Regent's Park for use as a hunting ground, which he considered to be an invigorating ride from Whitehall Palace. At that time, the only boundaries were a ditch and a rampart. If he was here today, Henry would hardly recognise the stylish gardens and sports fields that now stand in its place.
The Regent's Park, 166 hectares (410 acres), includes stunning rose gardens with more than 30,000 roses of 400 varieties. The Park is the largest outdoor sports area in London with 'The Hub' a community sports pavilion and sports pitches, nearly 100 acres available for sports fans of all abilities.

For history.
Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly known as the Tower of London (and historically as 'The Tower'), is a historic monument in central London, on the north bank of the River Thames. The Tower of London is often identified with the White Tower, the original stark square fortress built by William the Conqueror in 1078. However, the tower as a whole is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat.

Now tell me, was that more entertaining than a pot of cream? I hope so.