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There is nothing like having a busy head to make you feel completely useless.

In the past week I have managed to fall on butt twice from not looking where I was going (one instance I was particularly grateful for being female as it involved a bollard), I have almost driven all the way home without remembering to turn my lights on, I have spelt my name incorrectly on official documents, forgotten my age during security checks, and have (on more than one account) performed the classic ‘make myself a cup of tea and then walk back to my desk and leave it in the kitchen’.    

It seems that now my life has reached its tipping point ( as I had predicted) I am now on ‘constant gallop’ mode with little time to slow down until I reach the finishing line. Indeed anything involving any sort of personal care or maintenance has fallen by the wayside, as I dress according to what’s on the back of the chair, I have worn wellingtons to work several days this week having not noticed, and the hair…well…is just not worth discussing. Fortunately my friend Helen thought I was going for more of a ‘punk look’…

I must however give credit where credit is due. Neil has been superb in picking up all of the balls as I drop them (metaphorically speaking of course), has been a demon at the ironing board and even managed to stifle his amusement to a faint whimper when I arrived at the front door – COVERED in mud – having slid down the front lawn, again, whilst not looking where I was going.

The boy’s done good.

On a different note, and one that makes the constant rain and grey skies seem far less gloomy, my friend James and his wife Rachel have just had a baby boy! Finlay (Muffin) Thomas Archbald Smith arrived into the world at 12:13 am on January the 18th and all reports suggest he is good and healthy. Congratulations to you both, I hope I get to meet Finlay soon!

Congratulations Mr Tony Whitmore!

You are the winner of ALBD’s very first reader competition! Your mystery prize will be in the post to you shortly… as soon as I have got your address off Neil….


ALBD Winner: Tony Whitmore

Thanks to everyone who added a comment, your thoughts and views were incredibly insightful and will all be used to hopefully knock my lecturer’s Poly-Wool blend socks off!

A Small Plea for Help


And there we have it.

Back to work and already knee deep in University assignments. It is here I turn to you dear reader, for your help in my quest to make it through to August without spending time on a ward wearing a long sleeved overcoat that fastens at the back…

My latest task involves writing a presentation to do ‘density’. You see, the government in their efforts to make/keep England ‘Green’ have decided the best way to accommodate all of the extra housing we need is to intensify the use of land – i.e. build houses a bit closer together, in terraces or apartment blocks. Living with lots of people around you has – in the past – generally been viewed as a bad thing, especially when people think back to some of the badly designed tower blocks in the 1960’s with high levels of crime or the neglected rows of terraced houses typical in more deprived areas.

There are however also supposed advantages to ‘high density living’ – it seemes to work for people in Belgravia and the posher bits of london for example who’s residents seem to like living closer to shops, public transport, lap dancings club and other fine cultural activities. You see there are stacks of people all bundled together in London which make things like these financially viable – and as many of my friends would argue, they can be seen to enjoy a better standard of living with such facilities.

So here is my big ask…

As part of my presentation I wanted to include a random poll of people who have been asked the question:

What do you think about high density living? Is it a good or bad thing?

Such examples include a lot of new housing estates built recently, terraced homes are considered high density, apartment blocks etc.

I was going to take a quick survey at work, but they’re all planners here and their answers would be long winded and boring. Instead I was wondering whether you may be so kind as to drop your thoughts into my comment box and star in a much acclaimed, bound to be oscar nominated, Masters Degree presentation?

As an extra incentive I will also be holding a prize draw for all entries, where one lucky someone will be picked at random from my comment box on 15th January and will be sent a mystery gift – a mystery becasue I haven’t thought what it might be yet!

Aren’t you excited!?!?

Thanks very much in advance to anyone who can spare me a bit of time! Extra Karma points for you!

Disclaimer: Please don’t call me with your answer as I am still learning to use my new phone and might cut you off by accident. Otherwise calls are free for some people with inclusive network minutes or charged according to your network if (bless you) you still use credit. Names will not be used as part of the presentation and so your comments will remain anonymous. A commentor will be invited to any award ceremony resultant of this presentation. The prize draw will be a fair one as it will not involve either Phil, Fern or some goon from Blue Peter. The draw will be carried out by an external invidulator at 9:00am or whenever Neil can be bothered to get up. Not suitable for Children under 36 months. Never leave a candle unattended.


The Tipping Point


Game of Festive Twister

Happy New Year and I hope you had a very nice festive break!Despite the week rushing by far too quickly, Christmas at our house was a jolly affair with lots of friends, chips, dips, games of twister, silly films, paper crowns, walks, evenings out and even an extended visit from the Plumber after our hot water tank died a death….New Year was taken at an equally relaxed pace with a couple of movies, drinks and some awesome fajita’s (thank you Neil), leaving us the next day quite refreshed and ready for action! This New Year for some reason I felt a pressing need to go to Windsor Castle, and so Neil (having now cottoned on to what makes his life easier) kindly indulged me in this and I/possibly we had a lovely day with the Castle almost to ourselves, that is apart from a couple of Australians wheeling their suitcases about the state apartments, and an obnoxious American child preoccupied with looking up the skirts of waxwork models…

And so now here we are in 2008! I have been looking forward to the beginning of this year with a peculiar sense of both excitement and trepidation. 2007 (as it appears for quite a few people) was not one in which all things ran smoothly, but my reckoning is that it was an unavoidable period of change needed to put things in perspective, ready for this year to set us on a new and better path.

To the same end, 2008 also marks the ‘tipping’ point for me as I wrap up the last year and a half of my life spent studying. Reading for a Masters Degree whilst also working has been every bit the challenge I was expecting and has been such a huge part of my life! I can’t believe that in 8 months time and 12 more physical trips up to Oxford and it will all be over! That is not too get to whimsical about it all – there is still an awful lot of work to get done between now and August including a 15,000 word thesis on a ‘Planning’ subject of my choice. Titles in the running include:

  1. The effect the quality of sticky toffee pudding has on Pub distribution.

  2. The importance of Shoe Shops on female use of Town Centres.

  3. How best to accommodate a Sleigh and Reindeer parking bay on applications for major housing schemes.

  4. Planning for Wine Tourism in Southern California.

 We submit our proposals to our tutors in a couple of weeks, so I’ll let you know how that goes. Personally I think they’re all winners.

So here’s wishing you an excellent 2008, and success to my friends that also have a dissertation to write this year…

See you in August!