Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Not Really Resolutions 2014 l The Conclusion

*Insert standard sentence about "Oh my goodness where has the past year gone?"*

Seriously though. What a year. Right now I'll be very glad to see the back of 2014 but before I shove it out of the door I need to take a few minutes to update you on 2014's Not Really Resolutions. After 2013's miserable performance (2 out of 10 resolutions anyone?!) I felt sure that 2014 couldn't be that bad, and actually it's not gone badly...

1. Read 12 Classics

Completed! After failing last year for the first year ever I felt like I wanted to go for this full force. I've had a pretty good mix of more 'classic' Classics and more modern Classics. Quick overview of some of this year's Classics?

Vile Bodies - easy to read, bit of fluff, funny, but not my favourite Waugh.
Lady Chatterley's Lover - not really that rude it turns out.
The Woman in Black - actually full on made me feel scared when I was reading it. Chilling.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - just...weird.
Of Human Bondage - took an age to read but I loved it, which is quite a feat considering that the main character is such a sap. But despite that I kept rooting for him.
Mrs Dalloway - oh I could not get into this at all. It's such a short book but I struggled through every page. Would be very wary of picking up another Woolf.

I always enjoy this challenge and have been doing it for the four years that I've been doing the Not Really Resolutions but I think 2015 might see time for a bit of a change.

2. Eat 1 Vegetarian meal per week

Oh dear. This really could have happened and I hate to be a massive tit and blame everything on the break up but I really do. Post break-up my eating habits have just been plain horrific and I haven't made anything, much less go to the effort of looking up vegetarian recipes to try out.

I think I did about 30 veggie meals which is half way there so it depends what my yardstick is for achieving a Not Really Resolution - if it's 50% then I totally did it.

Mind you the number of times I ate toast or had a jacket potato with beans post break-up I probably did end up hitting 52 meals.

3. Do 1 interesting thing each month

January - Trip to London including a visit to see Chloe
February - Trip to Leicester to meet up with Janet
March - A trip to America to see American Girl and Boy get married and take a little road trip around Arizona (can't believe I still haven't finished blogging about that. Eek.)
April - FA Cup Semi-Final at Wembley to see Hull City beat Sheffield United
May - Trip to the London Pet Show and a rainy Bank Holiday outing to a resevoir
June - A trip to North Yorkshire to see Heather
July - The Color Run in Manchester, a trip to London to Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium
August - Nothing - but I was laid up with sciatica at the time so I'm letting myself off
September - A trip to France to see my Dad and a trip to Birmingham with some work friends
October - A night out at the dogs with work people
November - A trip to Bristol
December - A trip to Marrakech - even if all didn't go quite to plan...

4. Save up to buy a car

All done! It's worked out a bit more expensive than planned given that this was supposed to be something that two people were paying for but whatever, I did it all myself and that makes it even more awesome.

5. Finish my Tetris blanket

Not even close. In fact I don't think I even picked it up this year shamefully. The closest I came to it was buying a light up crochet hook because I knew I had an inordinate amount of black squares to make and thought it might make me blind.

I won't feel too bad though. According to my records I made 26 amigurumi things for people this year which is actually pretty immense when you really stop and think about it.

And that doesn't include the random dinosaur I made for funsies...

...or the Father Christmases...

Anyway. You get my drift. No Tetris blanket this year.

6. Learn something new

I was all set to go "Nope, not achieved this one either" and then I thought I wouldn't be so harsh on myself because actually I did learn something new this year. I learned to be on my own. And whilst it isn't as if I was a massive sap who was completely dependent on someone for their very existence, when someone who has been in your life for 13 years ups and leaves you there is a huge amount of readjusting to do.

I'm giving myself a massive gold star for this one because I didn't have a complete breakdown over anything when I really did feel like it. I got on with it and I learned that I'm not a total idiot, he's a total idiot.

And if that's the only new thing I learned this year then I'm ok with that.

7. Sell something at a craft fair

Well no I didn't.

But, see Point 5.

I was a craft fair this year. I was my own personal craft fair and seeing as the reason to do this was to make some money and feel that my stuff was good enough to put out in the public space I have actually achieved that. I've sold my stuff to people and have made some money from it and therefore I'm going to count this as complete.

I know. I'm a massive cheat.

8. Beat my 10k time

Let's not talk about this shall we?

Let's just say that 2014 was the Year that Running Forgot. It was my Annus Horribilis Runnus. I was either injured or mentally broken for 2014 and that did not make for a good runner. Since my bout of sciatica in August I haven't run at all. I will be back to the beginning once I start running again - ugh.


There we have it. Five out of eight will do me very nicely.

I'm looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store for me.

I think.

Friday, 26 December 2014

The Christmas Spirit

Christmas spirit was lacking around these here parts for a long time. At first I thought that it was because I'd been so ill in Marrakech (I was off work for the week after returning home because I was still a super sick person) so I forced myself out once I was feeling steady on my legs and went to buy a tree.

I would love a real tree but I'm also short on space, as well as cash, so I parted with £15 of my hard earned cash and handed it over to Tesco in exchange for a rather lovely specimen.

I dutifully decorated it and plugged in the fairy lights. I lit the Christmas scented candle. I brought out my Christmas mugs. I sent out cards. I wrapped presents. I even put tinsel around the gerbilarium.

But it wouldn't materialise for me.

(I even joined in Char's Blogger Secret Santa in the hope that I would soon start to feel that Christmassy tingle all the way to my fingers and my toes. I packaged everything up (inadvertently being very trendy with my brown paper and baker's twine) and sent it off before I went to Marrakech so I hit Char's posting deadline of 8th December.

The package I sent off is pictured below. My parcel is still MIA at the time of writing.)

Eventually I realised that it wasn't ever going to make an appearance.

I was just too sad.

I have mostly been fine since the break-up and have done a pretty good job at holding my shit together. But sometimes everything falls apart and then I run through the usual cycle - getting mad at myself for feeling sad, telling myself to get over it, telling myself that there are people with real problems, etc etc before eventually reaching a place where I say to myself, "You know what? It's only been 3 months. You're allowed to still feel a little bit shitty, especially at Christmas."

Christmas is a funny one really. There is so much pressure for it to be perfect and happy. There's no room for feeling a bit off. You have to spend it with people and you have to love every single second of it and isn't it brilliant and marvellous?

The closer Christmas got and the more shrill people got asking me if I was feeling festive, the more I started a slowly slide into complete panic mode. I'm not truly, deep down, happy at the moment. I absolutely have moments of awesomeness and brilliance, but in my core, I am so sad and so lonely and that just started to get magnified.

I reverted back to the weeks after the break-up when I would come in from a day of being completely normal at work and just sit and cry for no reason. I had another near meltdown in Tesco. I left drinks with work friends early because I kept having to go to the toilet because I was convinced I was going to break down in tears.

I could not keep my shit together any longer.

I didn't want to spend Christmas with anyone, I didn't want to see anyone. I just really really really wanted to be on my own.

But at Christmas you can't say that to anyone so I plastered a smile on my face, took a deep breath and plunged headfirst into a day of festiveness and happiness with family.

I opened presents. Awesome presents actually. Maybe it was just because I felt so crappy about the day that I was so overjoyed with anything that happened that was vaguely nice? Maybe it was because my family felt a little bit sorry for me this Christmas? Maybe Father Christmas took pity on me and figured I deserved a break.

I'm not one for 'haul' posts *cringes* but the above photo shows just how well my family know me. (How jealous are you of my Famous Five Annual? VERY.) I feel like the Tetris light is a sign that I need to pull my finger out and get on with the Tetris blanket though...

I ate food, I drank champagne, I toasted Christmas, I watched TV, I played family games, I laughed around the table. I did all the Christmas things and I got through the past couple of days, even though my body did what it tends to do when confronted with a difficult emotional time and want to sleep. All the time. Luckily that's socially acceptable at Christmas.

Less socially acceptable was my decision to come back to my flat on Boxing Day late afternoon to spend an evening alone. That decision did not go down well with either sister or mother but given that I'm about to take Mum to Hull and won't return until Monday I decided I was allowed some time to myself.

It's not about sitting at home and moping and feeling sorry for myself you know. It's not as if I'm sat here crying to myself about how my life got completely annihilated a few months ago. It's just that when I'm on my own I can sit here and feel relaxed because I don't have to pretend that I'm fine when I'm not. And I feel pretty sure that there were quite a few of us out there who felt like that this Christmas so high five to us for getting through it.


And because I don't want to be whiny you may now enjoy some pictures of the animals at Christmas...

Note Blinky "joining in" at Christmas a.k.a. sitting as far away from everyone as possible and with her back to the room. 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Photo an Hour l 14th December

Pitifully late with this month's Photo an Hour post. After being ill in Marrakech and then off work for a week, I've been having problems getting my act together and actually caring about doing anything. To be honest I'm giving myself a gold star for actually taking these photos.

This was Sunday 14th December...

10am - Late start for me, still in recovery mode after the kidney infection. Felt bad that the gerbils hadn't had a lot of exercise with me being away and being sick so I set up a mega cage extension into their playpen so they could come and play as they chose. They absolutely loved it and ended up being in there until about 2pm.

11am - Got around to finishing a book. This guy is a bit of a Marmite author, people seem to really like him or have a very visceral reaction to his books. I like him - his books are silly and easy to read and sometimes that is what you need. I wonder about his shelf life though, this book was very similar to his last one...

12pm - My guilty pleasure is absolutely, totally crap made-for-TV Christmas films. I'm not talking Elf, Polar Express, The Holiday, Love Actually here. I'm talking the kind of films you have never heard of, featuring actors you have never heard of with plotlines which are inconceivably easy to work out. I can't get enough of them.

1pm - Finally getting around to blogging, something which I have been completely remiss at lately.

2pm - In previous years I've been pretty good at making most of my Christmas cards. Not this year. I've been low on festive cheer but I gave myself a kick up the bum to make some cute crocheted Christmas tree cards to be given to the people I really like.

3pm - Round at my sister's so I got to see this little squishy face.

4pm - The downside of your sister being the boss? You get to spend a couple of hours of your Sunday sorting out vouchers to give people for a Christmas bonus. Yaaaaaaaay.

5pm - You can't tell from this picture but Rowan was literally sat on me, pushing me right against the arm of the sofa. She has absolutely no sense of personal space and I wouldn't have it any other way.

6pm - I stayed on at my sister's after dinner to help her with the Christmas tree. Having two teenage sons means that decorating the tree is kind of a lonely business for her. I on the other hand will leap at the opportunity to decorate a tree. Any tree.

7pm - And we didn't do too badly if I say so myself. Good bauble placement - I can't be doing with a sparsely decorated tree. And good distribution of lights. The more lights the merrier I say.

8pm - Back home where the washing up from the past *cough* days was awaiting me. It's pretty easy to let the washing up pile up when you're living on your own - you just keep taking plates out of the drawers until there aren't any left, or until there is no more workspace left to stack the dirty dishes. I know. I'm a terrible person.

9pm - In bed with a cup of tea and getting the last of my Christmas shopping done.

10pm - Ever late to a bandwagon. About 4 billion years ago, American Girl and Boy bought me Series 1 & 2 of 30 Rock. I loved it but just never got around to buying any more series. Over the past couple of weeks I rediscovered the box sets I did have and had to immediately buy Series 3 which is oh my goodness even funnier than the first two series. I've already order Series 4. Tune in next week for me discovering shows that everyone raved about 10 years previously...


I feel like I can't thank Jane enough for hosting this year's Photo an Hour series. It's been surprisingly good fun and has got me blogging when I couldn't find anything else to blog about.

Louisa is taking up the Photo an Hour mantle for 2015 and has chosen the first date - Saturday 17 January - so get her blog bookmarked, get the date in your diary and get joining in. I love having a good old nosy at what people do during their weekends.

Monday, 15 December 2014


Probably the worst thing about being single are the weekends. During the week everything is pretty fine, I work probably a little later than I should so I don't spend a lot of time alone, but when I come home, I enjoy the time I have to myself.

Weekends are sucky. Weekends are when people in couples are enjoying the weekend being a couple. Saturday mornings break and I still stifle an internal sigh at the thought of two whole days of my own company stretching out before me.

I went to a lot of effort to book in things for the weekends after the break up, and finding myself in London for work on a Friday, I took the opportunity to pop over to Bristol for the weekend to see an old friend.

After being waved off by Paddington at none other than London Paddington Station I plonked my very hungover body down on the train and headed to hitherto uncharted territory.

A word to the un-initiated - Bristol on a hangover isn't the most fun ever. There are a lot of hills in that place. Hills and I do not get on and I was blissfully unaware of what was in store for me. Add to this the fact that my friend appeared determined to make me see every single sight possible in the remaining time we had left before the light disappeared.

Red wine hangover + hills = not a great tourist.

Tourist attractions visited included Cabot Tower - verdict: The spiral staircase might just kill you but the views once you get to the top really are worth it.

...And the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Verdict: Not as big as the Humber Bridge. Sorry. My expectations are high when it comes to suspension bridges. Although it does win points for being a damn sight older than the Humber Bridge.

...And The Downs. Verdict: Well worth a visit for the views over the Avon Gorge. Also an unnatural number of joggers/runners were there. I'm guessing because it's the only place that isn't on a flipping hill. It almost, almost made me want to start running again.

The rest of the weekend was spent visiting various drinking establishments - so many that I couldn't even begin to list or remember them.

All in all - a good introduction to Bristol. The company was....well, let's just say my judgement when it comes to certain people in my life is still seriously compromised...so I'm keen to re-visit again and maybe meet up with some people that I know are genuinely good people - Hayles? Kate? Jen?

Sunday, 14 December 2014


One of the up-sides to my job is the opportunity to travel to some fancy places, all expenses paid. It's a tricky concept to explain but basically - people want us to recommend hotels, destinations and activities to our clients for their next event so they take us away to show us said hotels, destinations and activities. All make sense?

These trips are few and far between and after a couple of years of working my bum off I was given the opportunity to go to Marrakech for a few days. How could I possibly say no?

I looked forward to it for a couple of months - I would never get an opportunity like this again to see a place so amazing and in pretty luxurious surroundings.

Unfortunately you're talking about me here. A trip to Marrakech was never going to be straightforward and life it seems has been determined to give me a thorough arse-kicking in the last quarter of this year.

It all started with a bout of cystitis in the days before I left. I followed a strict regimen of water, water, water, cranberry juice and water but was having trouble shifting it so the day before I travelled I went to the Drs and got some antibiotics.

That night I got a pain in my back. I quashed the voice in the back of my head that said it was my kidneys and decided I must have hurt my back again.

Thursday's travel down to Gatwick didn't go well - I felt more tired than I have ever felt in my life, the pain was unmistakably across my back in my kidneys and I was starting to get shivery and fevery.

I did what any sane person would do.

Forged ahead.

I was not letting this stop me. I had antibiotics and they would kick in soon. I would be fine.

To cut a long story short I got steadily worse and worse throughout the next two days. I was unable to join the rest of the group for any dinners, I couldn't eat any food, and I mostly wanted to die. Until eventually, at a restaurant in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains I started shaking so much that the group organisers decided enough was enough and I was going to hospital.

Where I stayed for the next day or so hooked up an IV drip.


There aren't really words are there? I don't know why life hates me at the moment.

I did manage to see some sights despite wanting to curl up and die, including a walking tour of the medina, quadbiking in the middle of nowhere, a cheeky little ride on a camel and off-roading in a Jeep (which was exciting but did unfortunately make me feel like my kidneys were being shaken loose).

Unfortunately there was no bartering in the souks for me and the only money I spent was on a job lot of Argan Oil which should last me until the next time I go back to Marrakech for a do-over. I feel pretty smug about it - the amount of money some people pay for Argan Oil over here - bahaha in your faces, I spent hardly anything. BOOM.

One other good thing about Marrakech?


Cats on cats on cats on cats on cats on cats on cats EVERYWHERE.

It was brilliant. And for the most part, cats in pretty good nick and not too grotty like street cats are in some other foreign countries. These felines are well fed let me tell you. The bad part about being in a group of people you don't know - you need to keep your crazy cat lady-ness under the radar. It didn't really work, within an hour people were pointing out cats to me, but it did mean I couldn't stop anywhere near as much as I wanted to to get pictures of said kitties.

I stayed in some beautiful places (hospital clinic aside) and although I'm almost definitely not going to ever stay in these places again, unless that incredibly rich man I'm waiting for walks into my life / lottery win comes off / mysterious benefactor appears, I am eternally grateful that I got the chance to experience both the Royal Palm Marrakech and the Riad les Jardins de la Medina. Not many people get that chance.

Nor do they get the chance to experience hospital in Marrakech - it's actually not that bad although you might want to brush up on your French and/or Arabic before you get admitted, okay?

All in all - I did the best I could. I kept going as long as possible and experienced as much as I was able, which I feel was spit in Life's Eye. You're going to try and mess with me life? Well you're going to have to take me down kicking and screaming.

So who's coming with me for Marrakech Round 2?

Monday, 1 December 2014

The train

I stood on the platform waiting for the delayed train with the hundreds of other people. Huddled together against the cold, like a colony of penguins, equally shielding each other from the worst of the cold, whilst never looking in any single person's direction.

As the train pulled in, we moved as one towards the doors, performing the same routine as on every other train platform across the UK; simultaneously trying to ram yourself through the door whilst still maintaining a terribly British sense of personal space.

We fought through the carriage, throwing ourselves down into the nearest seat, hurriedly shedding jackets and hats and scarfs and bags. Claiming the space as our own, casting glances at those who would be so bold to sit beside us.

Always moving as one yet always moving an individual.

We all sat in our own worlds, studiously ignoring those around us. Ensconced in books and phones, iPods and tablets. No-one looks up, no-one speaks.

I sat and wondered about them all. Keen to not think about my own thoughts that night I threw myself into imagining theirs.

I wondered what that girl was smiling about when she was looking at her phone - a message from a lover, a joke from a friend, embarrassing pictures from the night before, happy news from a relative.

I watched the two girls sat opposite me, whispering to one another so none of us could hear their conversation. It was a dissection of the night before, the scrolling through of a constant stream of messages - was she arguing with someone, or was there simply another person involved in the conversation, being filled in on the conversation happening on the train.

I looked at the guy next to me answering work emails and filling in cells on a spreadsheet. What was it that he did for a living? Was it what he always wanted to do, is it where he thought he'd see himself when he was a young boy?

I wondered where everyone was coming from and going to. A Sunday night could mean that everyone was going home after a weekend away, it could mean they were going away to start their working week. Where were they going to go once they got off the train? Would they be going home and what awaited them there - a house full of friends, a house full of family, a wife, a child, a pet, no-one at all?

They felt like they should be friends, I wanted to reach out to them all and ask them, find out about them. It felt like we should all be connected, all of us here on this delayed train. We all had that in common at least.

But I knew that I was alone. Alone on the train and alone in life. The only connection for me was going to be the next train I caught.

Out of the blue someone started playing a song out loud on their phone. Dancing Queen of all songs. There were mutterings, people turned around in their seats, people took out their earphones. And then it happened - we all caught each other's eyes. Some people rolled their eyes, others smiled, others out right laughed. We mimed the words at each other and danced in our seats. The girl put her phone down, something else momentarily funnier happening with us; the two girls stopped whispering and shook their heads laughing at each other and at the rest of us around; the guy left his spreadsheet alone for a moment, nodding his head along to Abba with the rest of us.

It happened. For a brief two minute period we were all connected. We looked each other in the eye and shared a moment.

And then the music stopped.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Somerset's Best Kept Secret

"When we're arranging for you to come and see us in November we'll try and time it for when there's a Carnival on."

I'll be honest, Dad says a lot of stuff that I don't really take in, but this was one of the few times that I actually stopped and listened. He didn't really seem able to explain it - kept talking about tractors and floats and lightbulbs and saying that I should look it up on You Tube.

I politely declined and put it to the back of my mind.

So when I arrived in Crewkerne on 7th November I was greeted with the news that the next day we would be going to the North Petherton Carnival.

I was still in the dark.

It wasn't until I discovered Louisa via that day's Photo an Hour hashtag on Twitter that things became a lot clearer.

I'll let you read her post about the origins but you basically need to know a couple of things:

- There are tractors pulling floats
- The floats are decorated up the wazoo in lightbulbs
- Some floats have insane hydraulics systems built into them
- It's bloody freezing
- It's absolutely amazing

First thing you need to know? You have to get there early. The roads in and out of North Petherton close by 5.30pm to prepare for the Carnival so if you want to go to the Carnival you have to go to the Carnival. You have to commit, which for us meant queueing on the M5 with the hazard lights on as the tailback went all the way down the sliproad and into the inside lane.

So you're in North Petherton. You're parked. It's 5.30pm. The Carnival isn't due to start until 7.00pm. What are you supposed to do?

The answer is go into the bowling club and drink some goddamn cider and shove a hot dog in your face. Obviously.

We were eager little beavers and made our way to stand on the side of the street at 6.45pm for the beginning of the Carnival. Kind of a mistake. This is where the insider info comes in useful and the next time I go to a Carnival I'll be well prepared. You need to bring with you:

Folding chairs
Lots o' food

For the Carnival did not reach us until 8.30pm. Trust me, standing on a dark street in the freezing cold,  in the dark, staring at a hedgerow for almost two hours does not happy campers make. I can make the best out of most situations, but I was starting to lose the will to live after a while. If I'd been sat on my bum under a blanket reading a book I'd have been grand though.

There is honestly, nothing that can prepare you for a Carnival. I'd looked at Louisa's photos and I had been forced to watch a couple of You Tube videos before we left but I still didn't get the huge scale of the floats that we're talking about.

I cannot even conceive how long it takes to put all of this together, I can only imagine the Carnival Clubs have started planning their themes for 2015 already. The carpentry alone but when I say hydraulics I mean hydraulics. These are big giant floats being pulled by tractors, with moving parts on them.

Dad had first heard about the Somerset Carnivals when talking to a local who told him a story about a Health & Safety officer being poached from one Carnival Club by another. I can now see why - this is a Health & Safety Officer's wet dream. Electricity? Massive floats? People on the sides of the streets? People singing and dancing flailing around on the floats? Did I mention the hydraulics?

Spot the tractor driver. Hint: It's not the guy in the top hat

I cannot even understand how I have never heard of this Carnival stuff before. There they are, banging on about cider all the time when Somerset should be banging on about this. Tek your Rio and shove it - this is Carnival British Style aka in the cold and dark. But with chippy vans so, you know, swings and roundabouts.

Carnival is so far up my street it's untrue. 

Bright lights? Check

Loud music to dance to? Check

Strangers acting and singing and dancing (and even more unbelievably, standing stock still in the Tableau Class - I don't even understand how they could do that.)? Check

Strangers standing on the street that you can talk to? Erm, check.

The whole thing lasted about an hour and a half or so and I was stood there with a gaping mouth like a complete moron for about 75% of it. The remaining 25% I was dancing and singing.

At the end of it all it was back to the car park and a surprisingly quick get away. I had visions of us being stuck there for hours but the road is opened in one direction only and we were on our way back home in no time at all. (With the heating in the car turned up as high as it would go.)

There isn't any more I can say, other than to urge you to maybe think about taking a little weekend trip down to Somerset in October/November 2015 to see it for yourself.

Trust me, you don't want to miss out on Somerset's best kept secret.

(Did I mention the hydraulics?)

Monday, 10 November 2014

Photo an Hour l 8th November

I am loving these Photo an Hour posts you know. It means I have a guaranteed topic to post about once a month - anything to save me from the horror of working out what I'm supposed to write about.

I was initially quite excited about the choice of the 8th November as I knew I was going to be away visiting my Dad in Somerset - a change of scenery is usually a good omen from some more interesting photos than when you're just twatting about at home - but unfortunately the heavens poured down upon us most of the day so you can expect a fairly crochet-laden post coming up.

Pop over to Is That You Darling to see others' posts and to find out the date of the next Photo an Hour day which will be in December. And remember you can also join in on Twitter and Instagram using #photoanhour

This was Saturday 8th November...

10am - A late start to the day with a little read in bed. Mrs Dalloway is November's Classic as part of my Not Really Resolutions - I purposely picked quite a thin one as I have been running a bit behind schedule lately!

11am - Ablutions time. Anyone else remember a day when just getting ready was a case of splashing your face with some water and being good to go? I'm not even a girly girl and I'm astonished at the amount of paraphernalia I seem to cart about with me, although that's mostly due to the fact that I don't empty anything out and just add more to the pile...

12.10pm - Rubbish weather? Can only mean one thing - time for crochet. But what on earth could it be that I'm making?

1.10pm - Lunchtime and a continuation of the absolutely god-awful weather

2.10pm - What am I making? A Father Christmas of course! Since swearing that I was going to make a job lot of them and sell them at Christmas I made three and then promptly made no more. It is time to get my bum in gear because these guys really don't take that long to work up. In fact this would have been completed much earlier if it wasn't for the fact that I had a complete brain malfunction and forgot to change back to red wool and merrily crocheted along for 6 rows of 42-odd stitches. Yaaaaaay.

3.15pm - Finished! I had no idea these guys worked up this quickly. Thank goodness for Photo an Hour, I would never have known that it takes roughly an hour to work up the bobble for Father Christmas' hat, his hat trim, his face, beard and moustache, attach all the above and sew on a little face. Good to know these things.

4.30pm - This is how I know I'm in the country. You go somewhere to buy dog food and outside they have what can only be described as a fuckton of carrots. It's an official measurement. For a second I thought that people in Somerset really liked their rabbits, before twigging that they're probably for horses.

5.25pm - You see this is why Photo an Hour is brilliant. There I was idly browsing through #photoanhour tweets when I came across Louisa who was talking about editing some Carnival photos. I couldn't believe it as I was on my way to the North Petherton Carnival, something I had never ever heard about until Dad piped up that it would be where we would be spending our evening. How very cool is that?! (Check out Louisa's post from last year which explains what exactly it is I'm talking about). Anyway. 5.25pm we were stuck in some immense carnival traffic trying to get off the M5 and into North Petherton before the road closed for the Carnival.

6.20pm - Officially trapped in North Petherton with time to kill before the Carnival started at 7pm there was nothing for it but to hunker down in the bowling club house with a hot dog and pint of cider.

7.35pm - One of my least favourite things is standing still in the cold. Be warned that going to a Carnival involves a lot of standing still in the cold. I was just thankful it wasn't wet as well. To keep warm I jumped about like an idiot in to the road to see if I could see the start of it. We had a long wait on our hands...

8.30pm - The first float! Hurrah. After an hour and a half of standing in the cold staring at a hedge this was a welcome sight. Little did I know what I was about to witness. It was absolutely mind boggling.

9.25pm - Honestly. When someone says you're going to see an illuminated float parade you don't really know what's in store for you. This was insane and will clearly have a post of its own once I've gone through the 4,000 pictures that I took and begun to compose my thoughts about it.

10.30pm - Back in the car and on the way home down the back roads

11.30pm - Back home feeling cold to our very bones and glad to be in the warmth. Max was also happy to see us but mostly sad that he had been abandoned for the evening.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Single gerbil parenting

I came incredibly close to not owning gerbils not long after the break up. I feel terrible about it now but I honestly could not even look at them in the days after he left. They were just a horrible reminder of how foolish I'd been, sat there like an idiot thinking I was in a happy little relationship with someone with our pets. I didn't get them out to play with them, I didn't really talk to them, all I could do was make sure they had food and were watered.

I live very close to a Pets at Home shop and went in and asked them about their adoption scheme - they have a little adoption corner in their shops where they have unwanted pets for sale - that's how close I came to not having them in my life anymore.

Ser Jorah Mormont

What an idiot.

One day, after another bout of crying I looked over and they were both stood on the top level of their cage looking at me. Obviously not out of any concern, I don't know that gerbils do empathy, they were probably hoping my presence meant a pumpkin seed was coming their way, but they just looked so darn cute and gerbilly and I realised that I couldn't take it out on them. It's not their fault that they were associated with that fucktard, how could I be mad at their little gerbil faces?

Tyrion Lannister

And so I threw myself into single gerbil parenting with gusto. I went to Pets at Home and instead of giving them up for adoption, I spent a small gerbil sized fortune buying them new and exciting things for their cage. And then I set up their gerbil playpen and left them playing in it whilst I went and cleaned out their cage.

I walked back into the living room to find Tyrion Lannister looking at me from the middle of the floor, most definitely not in his playpen. With admirable calm and grace I stuck down a huge tube on the floor (poster tubes have become my new saviour and the gerbil's favourite playpen toy) and he immediately ran into it. I deposited him back in his cage and went back out to collect the clean tank.

I came back in to find him running under the armchair.

I couldn't really fathom it as they had never escaped from the playpen before. They'd made it look as if they would think about it but never actually taken the plunge. I decided to sit down and keep an eye on him.

And when I see keep an eye, I mean keep an eye.

Over the next two weeks, whenever I took my eye off the playpen for a single second - maybe to pick up a cup of tea or reply to a text - this is what I would see upon turning back to the playpen...


He was on a mission.

It turns out that single gerbil parenting is no joke. I let them play on the sofa one day like I always have done. They jump about, they have a good time but they never ever ever get off the sofa. I left them there and went to pick up the mug of tea that I had left in the kitchen. I came back to find Ser Jorah Mormont staring at me from the floor. I still have absolutely no idea how he got down there.

I actually lost count of the number of times I had escaped gerbils on my hands in the 2 weeks after the break up. The good news is that I cared about so little at that point that I didn't get stressed about it at all. But it was clear that I needed help at some points so I now have a gerbil babysitter every couple of weeks for when I need to clean the tank. Someone from work comes and sits and watches them in the playpen, knocking them back in whenever an escape is on the cards whilst I can get on and properly clean their cage.

Scaling the heights of Mount Sofa

Obviously now I don't know what I would do without them. I talk to them every morning when they get up with me and have a bit of toast (yes I am being serious) and they're there to greet me whenever I come home from work. They've even helped me choose some of my interiors...

Lounge pants - Tesco / Gerbil - Model's Own

In short they have been my little saviours, the guys I wouldn't ever want to be without and quite frankly, who needs a man when you have a little face like this looking at you?


Tuesday, 4 November 2014


The beautiful thing about living in the middle of the country (literally the middle if you believe Tiny Town's claim, although it is one of many) is that nothing is very far away any more. Having spent so much time up North I'm constantly inwardly groaning any time anyone mentions anything further south than Doncaster - not realising that actually the South is kind of on my doorstep now.

In the immediate aftermath of the break up some work friends stepped up to the plate in an unheard of way and rallied around to keep me busy and occupied. One plan was to take a trip to Birmingham, a formerly undiscovered city which, although not really that far from me, remained out of reach due to the fact that I was reliant on public transport to get anywhere.

One of my friends lives nearby so took it upon herself to be official Birmingham Tour Guide and got everything all planned out for us. First, we would get our cultural hats on and go and visit the Library of Birmingham, we would then get our food hats on and get some food at The Mailbox and finally get our shopping hats on and visit The Bullring.

I have been desperate to visit the library since it opened a year ago. Not normally a fan of big fancy modern new buildings I was quite surprised when I saw it and absolutely loved it. No doubt it is not many people's cup of tea but I think it is beautiful.

And let me tell you, it is a blogger's perfect building because it offers up approximately 1,000 ways to take a photo of the same thing.

It is delicious. Like a chocolate box. Only instead of there being chocolates inside of it, there are BOOKS.

What I didn't realise about the Library of Birmingham is that those tiered layers of gorgeousness that you see in the photo above hide secret gardens and you can go up and be on them and look out at the city. You can work at benches looking out at the views. I very nearly packed up and moved there on the spot.

You get in an almost too tiny lift, all very Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator style, and shoot up into the sky before walking out up and above the city.

The smell of the plants is gorgeous and the sounds of the traffic are far away and Summer 2015 is going to see me installed up here one day, I am determined of it.

Unfortunately we only got about 5 minutes viewing time as our visit coincided with the setting up of the Annual Conservative Conference and they were closing the terrace as it overlooked the marquee.

Just another reason to hate the Tories really isn't it?

There are books on books on books inside. Obviously. It's a library after all. But these books are special. Mostly because I could not for the life of me work out how you got to them. There must be some kind of secret entrance and a password and a marauder's map of some kind.

Also, check out the super travelator to get up and down. Way cooler than a stupid boring escalator.

Cultured out of our eyeballs we made our way along the canal, saying hello to lots of extremely friendly people. I'm not sure if we were there on an especially friendly day or if the people of Birmingham are just in a permanent state of giddying happiness but people were smiley in that city. Like really smiley. It was unnerving and I'm Northern so I feel I can take a certain amount of random stranger smiling.

Our destination was The Mailbox which was a little overwhelming for me as I haven't seen this many chain restaurants since I moved to Tiny Town. We have two chains here - a Wetherspoons and an Ask - and it was almost too much to take in.

Best part about the Mailbox was the gigantic red desk lamp which we saw when we exited.

I have no idea why it exists but it is fabulous and I love it. I love that it has an actual plug on the wall and that the lightbulb is actually lit up.

Too much my friends, too. much.

If I thought The Mailbox was overwhelming, The Bullring nearly did me a mischief. Too long have I been held captive by the very small New Look in Tiny Town - there were too. many. shops.

Fatigued by our cultural morning and overwhelmed by the choice of shops I actually did pretty poorly in the shopping stakes and have vowed to return again this month, renewed and ready to take on the challenge.

Miss Pond has already given me a new place to seek out next time I'm there after her post about a place that sells gin in a watering can. A watering can I tell you. Any other recommendations please feel free to send my way.