Sunday, 27 September 2009

The return of the house by the pylon

If someone had told me last year where I would be living this year, I would have thought they were completely and utterly bonkers. I would have laughed loudly, wiped the tears of amusement from my eyes, and violently shook my head in disbelief.
I would then have politely suggested we continued with a sensible, realistic, conversation.
However, I would have been completely and utterly wrong.
Dear readers, it actually gives me great pleasure to announce I have moved. I have moved out of my parents house, again, and moved into the house by the pylon, again.
That's right, my old flat. The flat I moved out of four years ago. I'm back!
This time I am living with my friend Carley. This time I am living in the loft conversion, with my own lounge, my old furniture, and my new bedroom.
It's the same flat, with a difference. A calmer, cheerful difference.
And guess what? I am loving it, and I am completely and utterly happy about it.
Aint life strange sometimes.

My new/old home.


Sunday, 20 September 2009

Crazy little thing called love

Isn’t it funny how something as innocent as a power cut can drive one's mind to madness, pondering over that crazy little thing called love. Well that’s what happened to me last Tuesday.
It began as a normal day. An average Tuesday morning. I was sitting on the train, during my journey to work, engrossed in my book. My mobile telephone rang in my big brown bag, rudely interrupted me from my far away world.
It was my boss. “There’s been a power cut Nikki. The office will be closed all day.”
An unexpected day off! How nice. However, it would have been nicer if I’d known the night before, or even earlier that morning, so I did not have to stumble out of my bed at an ungodly hour and ride three trains to reach my destination.
The next telephone call I received was from my colleague.“Nikki!” she said. “Have you heard the news? No work today! Where are you? Fancy coming over for coffee, bagels and a DVD?”
What a great idea! I disembarked at the next stop, my final destination, and made my way to my colleague's house. It wasn’t such a wasted journey after all. Luckily there were no magazines due to be sent to press. It was going to be a day of relaxation with my colleague.
“Sex and the City?” my colleague enquired when I reached her house. Another great idea.
I have never been an avid follower of SATC but I’ve seen snippets of the series and I’d have to be living on Mars not to know the character of Carrie Bradshaw and friends. So we sat on the sofa, with coffee and bagels, to indulge in the life of four fictional friends. As the story unravelled we couldn’t help commenting on the ups and downs of four young women searching for love, falling in love, avoiding love and trying to stay in love.
That four lettered word called love.
The power of love.
The thing which apparently makes the world go round.
That crazy little thing called love.
Our conversation moved on to real love, love that we have personally experienced, not the love found on the television screen between four girls from New York. We exchanged stories, we laughed, we sighed. I envied her true love. I despaired of my disastrous attempts of love. We decided to drink wine (it was noon by this time which we thought was an acceptable time to escape in a bottle of wine). We bonded over tales of love and loss of love.
We wore ourselves out talking about love. And then we realised the sun was shining in the real world. We decided to venture outside and stop thinking about love.
Once outside, in the sunshine, we headed to the local pub’s garden. Well it was our day off.
We sat in the beer garden watching the world whizz past. Okay, maybe not the entire world, just a small town called Stevenage where my colleague lives and our office is based.
Our next plan was to stop drinking wine and visit the pictures to watch 500 days of summer. Another story of love!
I began to feel uneasy. Is everyone obsessed with love? Has everyone found love accept me? It was enough to make a girl paranoid.
I sat in the pictures with my nachos and cheese sauce (it’s another habit of mine which is hard to break) and watched a man falling in love with a woman, and a woman resisting falling in love with a man. Was she insane, I couldn’t help thinking, why doesn’t she love him? He’s hopelessly in love with her, he’s honest, he’s cute, he’s faithful. Where do you find a man like him?! Oh that’s right, it’s the movies, it’s not real. Call me cynical dear readers, but at the grand old age of 35 I am very disappointed with love. The film was not helping matters.
After the film I looked at my watch and regrettably thought it was time I began my three train journeys home.
I sat on my first train, and I tried to shake off the memories of the days viewing and conversations, the memories of love. I opened my book to continue my latest novel. Twilight is the title of my present reading material. The story revolves around a vampire called Edward. This vampire called Edward has been searching for his true love for over one hundred years. Arrg, I painfully thought, what hope does a mere mortal like me have, if Edward has been searching for over one hundred years? I very much doubt I shall live for one hundred years, and if I do, I may have forgotten who I am, let alone the meaning of love.
Therefore, I was glad to return to work the next day. I buried my head in PDF problems, paper queries and invoices, glad of the distractions and the work load. I was trying desperately not to think about that crazy little thing called love. I refused to waste any further time or effort thinking about the subject.
(Please, no more power cuts!)
And then something very strange happened.
Stranger than me finding love!
It was an out of the blue, sudden, dramatic change.
Something that I would not have thought ever possible.
Yet it happened.
And it certainly stopped me thinking about love.
But you'll have to read my next post to discover exactly what it was.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Put your posh frock on (and join the party!)

One day I was watching a film with my best friend. I can’t remember the name of the film, but I do recall it starred Anthony Hopkins. We were only halfhearted watching the television screen, until Mr Hopkins uttered the words, “Why don’t you put your posh frock on and join the party?”
This may sound peculiar to you, dear readers, but my friend and I found the above line hilarious. We quoted and re quoted the line, until we were laughing so much that we could no longer quote. It definitely tickled our funny bones. We found this sentence very amusing to say the least.
Over the years, at every opportunity and occasion possible, my friend and I have used this phrase. These words never failed to entertain or bore us.
For example, if one of us was feeling down and in need of cheering up, the other one would repeat, “Why don’t you put your posh frock on and join the party!”
If there was a wedding or a birthday forthcoming, one of us would quote, “Why don’t you put your posh frock on and join the party!”
Or if we spotted a pretty dress in each others company, it would be a race to see who would be the first to say, “Why don’t you put your posh frock on and join the party!”
Therefore, I think you can imagine my squeals of delight, many years later, when I received my bridesmaid gift from my friend. It was during her hen evening, and my friend thought it would be appropriate to present me with a sparkling silver bracelet. A sparkling silver bracelet to wear on her wedding day. And on this silver bracelet the following words were engraved, Put your posh frock on. After these words was the date of her wedding.
It was the perfect, special, gift between two special friends!
I wore my bracelet with pride when I stepped out of a car on the 15th August 2009, in my bridesmaid dress, outside my friend’s wedding venue. I grinned at the flashing cameras, my bracelet shining on my right wrist, as I held my bouquet of flowers and posed for photographs.
Then my bracelet and I glided into the registry office, to await the arrival of the bride and her father.
The moment my best friend entered the ceremony room, on her fathers arm, I fiddled nervously with my bracelet and fought back tears when I saw her radiant and beautiful face, and her stunning posh frock.
The service was an intimate affair with a reading, The Owl and the Pussy Cat, from the groom’s sister. This reading did not pass without a few raised eyebrows and chuckles, especially when the grooms sister misinterpreted a few of the words. I remember looking around the ceremony and watching the tears of tenderness, in the wedding parties eyes, turn into tears of amusement. My friend has some brilliant pictures of this part of the day, where everyone is laughing and happily enjoying a poignant moment in time.
The ceremony flowed into the next part of the day. The reception was held in green and glorious natural surroundings, with a brightly decorated yurt, champagne, canapes, and a delicious hog roast. The sun broke through the clouds, not wishing to miss out on the fun.
It was a fantastic day and evening. A day and evening of celebrating the love and commitment of two fantastic people who'd found each other.
At the end of the night a camp fire was lit and lanterns were released into the sky, much to the spectators delight. And it wouldn’t be a wedding without dancing, would it dear readers.
I don’t think it would surprise you either, if I told you I was one of the last guests to be enthusiastically dancing around the room. I twirled around in my bridesmaid dress showing off my bracelet, jumping in the air in my eagerness.
Then finally, exhausted from laughing and enjoying myself, I collapsed on a sofa in the yurt. In my enjoyment I’d forgotten to erect my tent for the night, so my posh frock and I spent a somewhat uncomfortable and cold night on a sofa. But it was worth it.
And I embraced every single second, of the day I put my posh frock on and joined the party.


Friends.


Cake.


The yurt and my bed for the night.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Garlic sweets and pretend teeth

Have you ever eaten garlic sweets at a picnic? Or worn pretend rotten teeth, just for a laugh? Was that a no? Oh dear readers, you’ve never lived!
Actually, neither have I, but my friend Caron has. Well it was her hen day, it wasn’t any old ordinary day. During one's hen day, one is entitled to eat garlic sweets and wear pretend rotten teeth, it’s all part of the process.
Henfold Lakes was the chosen location. Twelve giggling girls met at the nearest train station, with food and drink, and all intentions to have a ruddy good day.
We arrived at the venue a little apprehensive when we heard the gun shots, noted the muddy pathway, and spied men running around in army type clothing. Arr, we were next to the paint balling, apparently popular with stag days.
We sighed in relief when we were shown our picnic spot, away from the guns and mud, next to the lake, with fields and trees in the background. Picnic blankets were placed on the grass, and cheese and pickle sandwiches, quiches, sausages, crisps, cakes, etc, etc, were placed on the picnic blankets. We definitely had enough food. Pink and black name badges were handed out (as arranged by me, the future bridesmaid) as a little memento and so we were all familiar with each other. Crackers were pulled, with wedding jokes and wedding facts inside, and bottles of wine were opened. All to the merry sound of laughter. It was a lovely start to the day. So lovely that we forgot we were meant to head back to the reception area at a certain time, to begin our treasure hunt. We had to be telephoned and reminded the treasure hunt was over due.
The treasure hunt was part two of the hen day. We spilt into two teams, where maps, clues and compasses were circulated. We had exactly two hours to seek as many letters as possible, from the clues and the maps. Each letter equalled cheese or wine. Personally I think cheese or wine are pretty good treasure!
Before the two hour deadline ended, we had to race back to camp with our letters. If one person (or more) from a team was one minute (or longer) late, their team would be disqualified. The team who’d collected the most letters were the winners. The team who’d collected the least letters were the losers.
The losers had to participate in a bush tucker trial. The trial was titled I’m a hen got me out of here! Don’t worry, the trial did not involve munching on crocodile eye balls, or bathing in a tub of stinking maggots. We were lead to believe it would be something quite horrid, but in reality it wasn’t too bad. The losers had to eat some very strange chocolates, strange chocolates which contained fillings such as curry. Huh, they were lucky there were no eyeballs or maggots inside the chocolates.
It was then back to the picnic spot, with the winning teams cheese and wine (I was on the winning team I hasten to add). We spread out on our blankets, nibbling and sipping, and I asked the bride-to-be to play two little games – What’s the deal with Mr H? Followed by Haven’t I seen this before?
The first game involved asking Caron ten questions regarding her future husband. Each correct answer was awarded with a present, and each incorrect answer resulted in a forfeit. Hence the garlic sweets and the pretend rotten teeth – they were the forfeits! (Plus something else on a stick, but this is a family blog, and I couldn’t possibly talk about it without blushing.)
The second game involved photographs of parts of the body. Caron had to guess which parts of the body were her future husbands. This was called Haven’t I seen this before? But this game had a twist. The twist was, none of the pictures were her husbands body parts, as I couldn’t get his darn photographs to print out. Worryingly, she was convinced a mutual friends husbands bottom was her future husbands rear!
Moving swiftly on, after the games I presented Caron with a photograph album, with contributions from her family and friends, and aptly named Before I was married. There were baby pictures of the bride-to-be and pictures of school trips, friends dressed as a pumpkin and a werewolf, us dancing on tables and posing at weddings and restaurants, etc, etc. Happy memories of many happy times. All in a pink and silver photo album.
And the fun did not finish there. After our cheese and wine and games, we boarded taxis to Caron's house to glam ourselves up for the hen evening.
The evening began with food and drink at a lively Chinese/Indian/Italian restaurant (basically if you didn’t like the food you were quite fussy) with gorgeous party bags expertly made by our friend Helen. Masks and feather boas were worn, more games were played, and chocolates gobbled. It was great.
The evening ended with dancing at a near by bar, followed by karaoke at Caron's house. I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the neighbours as we screeched the lyrics to our favourite songs, all eager to grab the microphone and pretend we were pop stars. Until the very small hours of the next morning.
And that dear readers, was the hen do.
I think you'll agree, it's a far happier story compared to The tale of the severed finger.
Coming next, put your posh frock on and join the party! In other words, the wedding.

Our picnic.



This field held the key to our cheese and wine.


Let's have a look at the map.


I've found a letter!


You expect us to eat these?


The masked meal.


Caron and her pole.


You make me feel like dancing, I'm gonna dance the night away.


Tonight everyone, I shall be your DJ.