Friday

Well…Friday was weird.

It started out perfectly normally – alarm went off, lots of grumbling, had an a.m. bath as I couldn’t find the energy to stand up and wash, found some clothes that didn’t shout at each other, explored the food stores to find a sachet of cuppa soup that would do for lunch and piled out the front door.

The next bit got interesting. Lets just say a combination of a slighly dodgy gear stick and a useless handbreak not-so-happily combined today sending my car rolling away from its designated car parking space with me gripping onto it, before very slowly – but surely kissing another car, pushing it backwards into some hedges! Fortunately all involved were unscathed, but I was a bit shaken, and having left a note I braced myself all day for being yelled at. So far however, I have not had a visit nor a phone call, and as the car rolled back at the most 2ft, I’m hoping our small incident this morning will be left at just that. Plus the other person had driven off within 15 mins of it happening. Awesome dent in the bush though!

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So after calling the office to explain about my mini adventure, I worked from home today where all else went without a glich – but that sadly doesn’t make for good blogging material. It has been pretty wet today though….

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which was kind of perfect weather for writing policy consultations.

At lunch time I took a bit of respite and thought I’d really push the boat out (as if my life wasn’t exciting enough!) and iron some sheets. With my squirty water squirter and the base of the iron I created an unintentional smiley face…

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This evening has largely been spent in conversation, as after a lovely long chat with Neil who I’m very much looking forward to seeing on Monday, I then spoke to my Mum, and then Neil’s Mum – and after that made some curry.

All I can say is that I suspect Janet probably isn’t vegetarian after seeing her tuck into her Saag Masala…

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Hooray for the weekend! Will keep you updated!

Thursday

One thing about where I work is that in the winter it is absolutely freezing!

In the corner of our office we have a thermometer, and next to the thermometer is an official looking piece of paper taped to the wall telling us what extremes of temperature it has to be before we’re allowed to fold away our little foil blankets and go home.

I swear that wretched thermometer is broken.

I regularly sit at my desk in snow gear, supplemented with hat, gloves and slippers and the damn thing reads 21C. We’re almost down to our underwear in the summer – we practically live at the water cooler, and you’ve guessed it – 21C! We’ve complained to the building caretaker people on several occasions, but they merely point at the thermometer….

Damn it.

Here is Helen and I prepared for another day’s work at the Wokingham Planning Department.

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Adeline got a load of stickers for Christmas that bring otherwise dull and inanimate objects to life. In our busy and important role as planners however, we never have time to indulge in such childish activities.

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This is me on a site visit at 13,000ft on top of a mountain in Breckenridge, Colorado!

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Yeah, ok so it’s Neil, but as he’s not renowned for updating his blog or Facebook pages, I thought I’d show you what he’s up to these past two weeks! I also feel this picture provides an excellent example of the contrast in our lifestyles at the moment…. but that’s ok…

…… There is always Janet.

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Wednesday

Here we are at Wednesday, and this morning started like every other in the office with an update of ‘foot watch’. We are monitoring how many people use the town centre in Wokingham for some sort of report we’re meant to be writing. Instead we decided to make a waether chart to predict when most people would be out and about shopping. This is Adeline giving today’s forecast.

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I had a browse around Wokingham market at lunch time and happened upon the card stall that sported a section for those wishing to pass their sentiments onto ‘Open Males’ and ‘Open Females’. I have to admit to being openly female, but its taken years of counselling….

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All I can say to the below is that a rather burly gentleman emerged from this vehicle in the Paddocks Car Park earlier today.

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Me and Janet

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Tuesday

Tuesday is the day I go to Oxford Brookes on ‘day release’ from work to study a Masters Degree. Currently we are being taught ‘research methods’ by a chap who explains everything with very emphatic hand gestures – so much so he puts the sign language interpreter who stands next to him to shame. We were quite overcome today by his frequent use of jazz hands. Below is Claire offering a reconstruction.

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As we tend to switch off after about 20 mins, the lecturers build in coffee breaks in the hope a Mocha might help us through the many intellectually stimulating debates regarding PPS25. We simply take advantage of the fact the cafe gives you a free flake when you order hot chocolate.

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Today as a random promotion – every ‘Fair Trade’ drink you purchased came with a fortune cookie. Mine read:

‘Accounts receivable are bill gotten gains’. Robert Orben.

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Now, I’m not sure whether you stand to be misfortunate if you are unable to understand the fortune proscribed to you, but I have no idea what this means. All I can gather is that Mr Orben could be in some kind of financial difficulty. If you are able to shed any light on this mysterious note, I would be very grateful if you felt motivated to leave a comment.

I have been having too many late nights already this week, so Tuesday ended with Janet (the pot plant – please see previous posts) and myself enjoying a cosy night in.

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My Day in Four

Following on from my ‘Friday Night Post’, my dear and much treasured friend Katty Blanch suggested ALBD could perhaps explore the idea of ‘my day in four pictures’ as a theme for future posts. This I thought was a tremendous idea seeing that:

a) I have become quite a whiz on my new camera phone and am now able to take pictures with the flash ‘on’ and ‘off’!

b) My best buddy and fellow cohabitee is still currently missing (although there were rumours of sightings in a down town Gucci handbag shop – but were later confirmed as ‘unlikely’ by his girlfriend), and no doubt he is missing the rambunctious fun of every day life in Reading.

c) I currently don’t have anything better to do.

For this next week therefore, ALBD will play host to a pictorial diary of events with the hope that something vaguely interesting might happen. If it does – well maybe this could become a regular feature. If not….

Well at least that’s my alibi sorted.

Reader Notice:

Unfortunately on Monday ALBD posts were delayed following a technical hitch with a piece of equipment that lives behind the bean bag in the HQ living room. Mondays post will therefore be posted along with Tuesdays edition. The editor apologies for any distress this may have caused.

Monday

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Monday Morning started out pretty misty. This is the view as I walked from my car park along Broad Street to the Council Offices in Wokingham. Incidentally, I had a close encounter with one of the bollards to the right of the picture having slipped on some ice that had cunningly disguised itself as a normal pavement.

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I have not been well recently, and so in line with council policy, my colleagues decided to take it upon themselves to enforce health and safety in the work place by issuing me with this notice. Needless to say I had very few visitors.

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Which is just as well, as by about 12:30pm, this is what had happened.

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Still, I had some red bull handy which gave the desired effect.

Sweet dreams are made of this

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There is an unerring design – perhaps design fault – of my character that rejects reality on the basis that the worlds I can create in my head sometimes prove the most attractive places to be.

I did this a lot when I was younger. I used to have stacks and stacks of ‘Horse and Pony’ books by my bed and would fall asleep imagining that I had won a gymkhana on a grey pony named Strawberry. Later, when the realities of being a teenager didn’t turn out to be the ‘idealistic journey of self discovery and romance’ I had envisioned, I lived my life through programmes like Dawsons Creek (sad though that is) as a substitute to what I thought should really be going on in my life. Now, at the grand old age of 26, I still find myself escaping into fantasy land, although (apart from the odd ‘Creek’ boxset in my DVD pile) my methods of withdrawal have become a little more sophisticated, manifesting themselves currently as copies of ‘Ideal Home’ magazines and films/books about travelling.

I think it is testament to the addition of more good things to my daily itinerary that my desire to escape has progressively become reduced, and for this I am glad. There still are times though, normally as a result of some trivial personal mental crisis that I still drift off into the never never lands I can so easily create for myself – pretty much because no one can touch me there. This is my coping mechanism I guess, not a very helpful one in solving any problems I agree, but it’s a darn sight cheaper than vodka.

So where is this all leading? I think I have just realised for myself today that whereas there are dreams that you aspire to and work towards achieving, there are some that should be left untouched for the simple reason that sometimes you need a place to go when you are sad or lonely or if things just don’t seem to go your way. Even if it is just in your head.

I’m not sure why I’m telling you this to be perfectly honest, and I think it very unlikely that anyone will care about the erratic nature of my brain. For some reason though I just felt the need to share this weird realisation with someone other than the office pot plant (see below)…..

Plus with numerous tales of working and Planning and mental boredom recently, I kind of felt I owed it to you to say something a little bit different.

A Friday Night Post

Well, it’s the end of the week and I would be lying to say if the situation has improved.

I am sitting here on a Friday night at 22:01 reading ‘Participation or Pathology: Contradictory Tensions in Area Based Policy’.

What is more, Neil leaves for America on Sunday, so instead of reading my Planning Policy Journal in the company of another human being who I can relay the odd snippet or factual gem to every so often – it is likely that I will instead strike an unnerving bond with the office pot plant.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

In the meantime I have decided to leave you with ‘a week in pictures’ taken from my mobile phone. It is a gimmic that appears to be popular on the BBC website, and god knows ALBD could do with a bit of livening up at the moment, so here we go.

I think it tells a rather tragic tale…

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Subject 1: I was fascinated to see that a robin had decided to buy its cillit bang and homous multi snack pots at the same time as me. Squint enough and its the black blob on the strip light.

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Subject 2: In the depths of dispair at work, and whilst waiting for the kettle to boil in order to make myself a peppermint tea, I fashioned myself a ‘flapper-esque’ headress with the aid of some kitchen towel and the reflection of an adjustable bracket wall mounted microwave. A most unflattering photo.

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Subject 3: Oh – and there was a rainbow.

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Subject 4: Thursday hit another low point, so I once again sought comfort in another sort of millinery, this time on a Valentines theme (notice the carefully crafted hearts from fax copying paper) fashioned out of the motoring section of the Wokingham Times.

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Subject 5: It is with great excitement we have ordered a new bathroom with which to replace the duck egg blue suite we currently suffer. This was me making sure I would not be restricted by the width of our new tub. Unfortunately ours won’t be coming with the whirlpool function. My only alternative is to up my intake of fibre….

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Subject 6: On the same outing I found this beauty in COSTCO. I am lobbying Neil to get the version in kingsize.

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Subject 7: Ok, so this was taken at Christmas, but its inclusion is justifiable for the following reasons:

1) Its an excuse to post a picture of Neil being silly and wearing tassle on his ears.

2) A warning that this is what will happen to anyone exposed to me for too long.

That is all.

When even dull is interesting

It is extremely difficult to find words that will not bore you, when in fact all that I have to say bores myself.

About three years ago, whilst doing some work experience in a planning office, a wise and greatly respected senior planner called Jane Gibson took me to one side warned me:

 “Amy – you realise that if you decide to be a Planner you will become boring. It won’t be your fault, its just what happens”.

She then gave me some incredibly invaluable advice…

“Planning is boring for anyone who is not a Planner. When you find yourself about to say something about Planning just stop and think – ‘no one wants so know this’! People don’t care that a telephone mast is the wrong shade of grey, that S106 money would be better spent on a roundabout than widening a pavement, that you don’t need planning permission for a dropped kerb unless its on an A Road, and that solar panels are largely acceptable unless facing a highway”.

And she was right…

 Indeed, the one person I have significantly let this rule slip with is leaving on Sunday for a fortnight’s holiday in Colorado.

I really don’t blame him.

Unfortunately as I am 6 months away from finishing a masters degree, and with deadline on top of deadline I dream, eat, and live Planning and find it very difficult to hold a conversation at the moment without slipping the ‘P’ word in somewhere. In fact I have become so incredibly boring even I saw an ex colleague in town earlier in the week who, having spotted me on approach, waved hesitantly and then crossed the road….

Furthermore, I have become my aptitude to be at all interesting hit new lows yesterday as, whilst eating lunch, I sat with genuine interest reading the ingredients of my ‘Be Good to Your Insides – Spicy Chilli Bite Sized Rice Cakes’  and actually noted one of these ingredients down.

Yes, you have read correctly.

You see, I had not heard of E621 before and thought it would be quite fun to ‘google’ it when I got home.

This is what I am reduced to.

On the flip side having very minimal social interaction or any sort of respectable social life has taught me to appreciate the simpler things in life. The programme an ‘Island Parish’ for example (Tuesdays BBC2 8:00pm) has become a firm favourite – documenting the life and times of the residents of Scilly with interesting anecdotes from the local boat driver who claims that you are unable to buy buttons on the Islands (this sort of drama is all I can handle). I also found myself quite overcome this week on our trip to Sainsburys when I found out that you can buy compostable bin bags and that cotton wool was cheaper if you bought it from the baby aisle.

I have now however moved on to that quite awful stage of personal dullness where I find delight in other people’s misfortunes….

Which is why I found this lady having to reverse down a one way street so appealing…

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So much so I felt the need to take a photograph to mark the occasion.

So I will leave you here with the knowledge of how sad I have become.

I’ll be back when I find myself mildly more interesting. 

P.S. Tony I am ever so glad you like your ALBD prize. When we finally finish the garden I feel you may have to be the guest of honour at our ‘Outdoor Space Warming BBQ’. Perhaps you could even bring the ribbon to cut?

A Quick Catch Up

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It is time for a quick catch up.

Unfortunately Uni work, work work, and the little life lived in between appears to be all I can cope with at the moment, so in an effort to get down all I would like to say but in a more time efficient manner, I rely once again on the often irritating yet largely convenient bullet point;

  1. The picture above is a duck in the Mayor’s car parking space at work. In order to make our jobs more lively we are seeing how many ducks we can get in the Wokingham Town Centre Master Plan without the Chief Executive noticing. This one was rejected for its indiscreet nature. Others are just genius!
  2. Tony hopefully you are now in reciept of your prize? Sorry it has taken so long, there were some quality control issues.
  3. I’m pondering that I am probably more excited about Neil’s birthday on Wednesday than perhaps he is.
  4. I was given an assignment on Tuesday that is due in next week. Therefore I deem all lecturers as evil.
  5. I am seriously contemplating becoming an Alpacca Farmer or making paper hats professionally.
  6. Sometimes all you need is a gin and tonic and a play list of songs you can just sing your heart out to.

I’m doing the latter right now.

I need something to keep the energy up!

See you when I surface next.

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