Working on it…

Steve's building services

It’s now seven weeks into the build and we are all absolutely exhausted.

Yes, of course, the prospect of living in an environment infinitely nicer than our previous one, particularly minus the anaglypta wallpaper and omnipresent smell of granny (think carpet underlay) is very exciting – but the process of achieving a vision of semi-detached perfection is proving more difficult than I had anticipated. Hence no blog for quite a while.

It doesn’t help either that the Toddler has been going through one of her ‘phases’ too which has entailed random napping, much grumpiness, the necessity of cheerios to aid the putting on and removal of clothes, and (much to my dismay and feelings of failure as a parent) copious amounts of Peppa Pig. And Suits. And wine.

The latter two might have been for me.

It has long been said that a tidy home is a tidy mind. Right now, neither of these things ring true, and I have come to realise to what extent my immediate surroundings have an impact on every facet of daily life!

Still, not long to go, and oh my it is all showing great potential. I share with you a small window in to the madness…


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Benevolent Economics

Charity bags

I am becoming quite intent on finding a way to sterilise our letter box. Along with the traditional array of leaflets offering to deliver us pizza, sell our house, steam clean our interiors, and more recently and most curiously, offer instructions on ‘how to use a bus’, it has given birth to no less than 13 charity bags in the past week.

Now if you are one of the people lucky enough to live in an area not to receive such items, I shall explain. The ‘charity bag’ is gay-fully coloured plastic receptacle into which a home owner is invited to place their disregarded items for collection by the advertised charity. Now don’t get me wrong, I am very fond of the intent of such a notion, but they have become somewhat of an annoyance, for Mr F especially. I think it is more down to the frequency of their delivery that brings me out in a cold sweat. You see I’m a charitable soul normally, and I’m struggling to cope with the insurmountable pressure of striving to improve the life chances of children in Africa, the elderly, the homeless, sufferers of gout, chronic nasal congestion and flaky scalps, and I can’t bare to think about those poor donkeys who continue to suffer northerners on beach holidays.

The things is though, I have worked out that with an average of 13 bags a week, and having counted the number of items in my wardrobe, by placing one item in each bag would see me out of apparel in 3.4 weeks. That means I would be shopping for an entire new look over 15 times a year, and given the amount of time I normally require Mr F to sit outside a changing room whilst I preen and twirl, 32.5 hours of his life would likely be spent landing helicopters on his smartphone while all the time the fence still is not getting painted. Furthermore, the extent of funds required to provide regular offerings to the charity bags would also well exceed £2000 a year, and that’s without discounted Ugg boots on eBay.

So I continue to collect charity bags, feeling too guilty about throwing them away with their destiny unfulfilled, and for the fact they are made of non-recyclable plastic, but unable to keep up with the pace of the donation regime. Thoughts are that I begin to fill them with the ‘Emperor’s Clothes’ and leave them as requested at our gate, fashion them into a piece of public art Neil Buchanan stylee, or I am rather taken with the idea of their potential for ponchos. If you have any suggestions, I would be a grateful recipient before our house is overrun! Any really good ones will be implemented.

It’s a waiting game

Currently on the list:

  1. News of visas
  2. Destination of potential far flung adventure
  3. Purchase of the ‘New Palace’
  4. Start dates for the money making work
  5. For reversible jumpers to make a come back
  6. Invitation to Royal Wedding

I can only assume it was lost in the post.

My patience is severely being tested. All things to get excited about are dragging their heels in the most excruciating of ways.

Still, I can at least make a personal effort on the reversable jumpers front. I’m sure I still have one lingering in the loft somewhere sporting the Eurotunnel bunny. I have decided this is the only answer to my unerring propensity for wearing food without having to do the washing so often.

I’m all about the eco.

404 Error: The person you requested was not found

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!

Cold Christmas

This week I got a cold.

Quite disappointing seeing that I had been doing so well up until now, avoiding anyone with a sniffle or a sneeze, taking my pre/probiotic omega 3 packed multi vitamin ultra sonic make-you-go-faster-or-your-money-back drink religiously every morning, I have been eating all of the vegetables that have been put on my dinner plate (now that I do the washing, it is less tempting to hide them in my socks as I did at age eight) and I even have been leaving my desk every time my boss coughed without covering his mouth – although I now fear my colleagues think I’m incontinent…

The only thing I can put my finger on, is that this last weekend I let myself go a little – not as in the wearing my pyjama’s to Sainsbury’s or breaking wind in public sense (not that this is something a lady would ever do…) – but I just let myself have a couple of days to forget about all the things that need doing, or ironing, or writing, or sending, or making – and it was glorious! It is however largely unfortunate that whenever I take a sabbatical from all of the other things in my life, it appears fate wants to fill this void of acitivity by giving me a bug.

If I’m honest, tickets to see the Lion King or a voucher for a Shaitsu Massage would be far preferable, but I imagine seeing as its nearly Christmas, fate probably has its work cut out reuniting mischevious youngsters lost in New York with their mothers in front of the Rockafeller Center Christmas Tree, or finding Christmas Elves their Biological Parents (have I been watching too much Christmas TV?)…

Still, as my very wise friend Jim advised me – Colds remind us not to take for granted our health – and that admittedly, is something I am inclined to do.

So instead of feeling sorry for myself , I’m going to keep taking my lemsip and will try and remember when my temperature has gone down and I have stopped walking into things, how nice that feels – despite the obvious amusement I appear to be causing those around me, particularly when I managed to walk away with one foot in Diane’s waste paper basket…

So I shall leave you for now and promise to be back when I am running on full juice again…

That is unless I find also find a bucket to kick…

Sticky Stuff

Seven days seems like a long time having not put fingers to keyboard here and I’ve missed it.

Indeed, it has just been one of those most irritating sort of weeks where there has always been something demanding my immediate attention – leaving me absolutely no provision for carrying out any essential maintenance tasks such as eyebrow sculpting, moisturising  elbows or engaging in full body exfoliation (my plan is I don’t have to give up cream cakes if occasionally I can just ‘sand’ bits off my person). I have however become resigned to the fact that in times such as these you just have to let yourself go a little, so this week I’ve made do with a bit of lip balm and avoided unflattering lighting….

Plus moustaches are ‘hot’ this season according to my friend Hannah (pity she was talking about Tom Seleck at the time)…

The major disappointment of this week however, is that despite my apparent busyness I have relatively little to show for my hard graft apart from a Telecommunications Register, a half finished essay and a stunning Shepards Pie with sweet potato and baked beans (not to blow my own trumpet – in a hypothetical sense of course)….

In fact I was probably of most use at the Doctors yesterday morning when I took on the role  of ‘Phlebotomist Guinea Pig’, allowing (clearly a student) nurse perform what was possibly her first ever blood test. In all fairness to the girl, she did pretty well achieving three of those little test tubes full of my red stuff (forever disappointed it doesn’t come out blue) although her technique did have a little to be desired…

“Right I’m going to put this needle in your arm”


“You will feel a sharp prick….”

<She inserts needle into my arm and starts drawing blood>


I have to admit to being a little confused as to whether this was a delayed reaction on her part or mine – but still my very smiley and enthusiastic nurse did give me the biggest lump of cotton wool you have ever seen to mop up her efforts, and secured it well with a healthy amount of surgical tape to boot. Indeed, my most impressive dressing survived 2 full blown washes AND a bath, and probably still had enough life in it to undergo some serious pressure hosing without peeling away at the edges. This morning however, I was painfully forced to remove most of my nurse’s proud creation with some cuticle scissors as my long sleeved blouse wouldn’t fit over the small woollen hillock protruding from my upper arm…

Unfortunately this was a task a little more easily said said than done, and I’ve had to leave some of the excess binding in certain places where the tape and my skin have formed a special relationship with each other – particularly about my elbow – so after a lot of yelping and a few tears, I have decided to let them part company on their own terms.

There is no point forcing the issue. 

So all in all that has been my week which has seen me a little stressed, a little unkempt, and develop a whole new respect for medical students armed with anything adhesive…

I’m just glad that (given I was wearing my favourite jacket)  I’m old enough my bright young nurse didn’t feel the need to give me an ‘I have been brave’ sticker.

Wonder how long it would have taken me to get that off….


And sew I am

Man I’m tired, although to be fair it is my fault!

Last night, after quite a busy weekend, I sat down and attempted to produce some cushions for our newly decorated master suite and guest quarters with some left over curtain fabric I had. Being tired anyway, I managed to cut the material wonky, pricked myself so many times with pins that quite a few of them are now bent, and impressively was able to hand sew one of my socks (still on foot) into a cushion seam without noticing (even when walking to the bathroom with flailing upholstery attached to my person)!

In short my evening of soft furnishing did not run smoothly – although it probably doesn’t help I’ve never really been taught how to sew!

Last night however did prove useful in reminding me of a part of my personality I often forget about – namely my stubborness, but also the fact I just can’t seem to give up on things when they go badly even if it would be the most sensible course of action. This has been both a useful attribute in my life, getting me through such tough times as my ‘Camp Skills and Survival’ badge when for ages I just couldn’t get my tent pegs to bang in at the regulation angle – but has also prevented me in moments when I know I should have let something go, from actually letting go. Instead I clung to an empty optimism thinking that if I ‘kept ploughing on’ everything would work out ok.

But sometimes it doesn’t.

And I have to learn to make peace with that.

Until that revealing day however I shall suffer endless holes in my fingers, sleepless nights in front of a sewing machine and masses of thread absolutely everywhere! At the same time however I am entirely grateful for having an ‘other half’ who is very skilled in talking me off a ledge, has endless patience during my grumpier moments (especially those cushion induced) and very helpfully does the ironing whilst I unpick decorative artifacts from my socks.

Oh – and despite a lot of higgeldy piggeldy stitching I got there. Eventually…


Looks like I’m too stubborn to change.




Dear Jim

Dear Jim,

Please, please, please will you fix it for me to receive a first class masters dissertation relating to the subject ‘regeneration’ and have really clever academic type people (you know the ones – beards and really smelly breath) to write my assignments for me too.

You see tomorrow Jim I start back at University for the final year of my ‘Planning’ masters degree. I will get up at 5:15am to get there too. Jim, this is not a good idea as at this time I am grumpy, irrational and my appearance is likely to scare young children. On top of this Jim I will be asked to listen, think and learn. I find this deeply unreasonable Jim as the modern day does not require me to pay attention and listen any more – instead I can download the ‘highlights’ in a podcast, I do not have to think any more – Wikipedia does that for me, and anything I will ever need to learn can be found on Google and YouTube.

Instead Jim, I think my time would be better spent supporting the local and international economy. I have proved how successful I am at this during my summer break, investing in the clothing stock of many high street stores, I have made it my duty to help maintain the business of many bars and restaurants, and I made a special trip to New York this year to support culture and the arts whilst also trying to improve the standards of written English over there (I am in particular support of the much endangered letter ‘U’).

Jim, if you could fix this for me I would be forever grateful, as will my boyfriend Neil who otherwise is set up for another year helping me colour in. Last year he got a blister and went through 4 green pencils Jim! If only they made grass in a different colour…

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.


Age 25 and more than 3/4.

P.S Would some ‘Elizabeth Duke’ vouchers swing it?

Faking it


I am avid subscriber to the ‘Magazine’ Section of the BBC news website which read every morning (accompanied by the mandatory cup of tea), provides a useful kick start to the grey matter – knocking me out of the daze that so I often arrive to the office in.

Yesterday I came across an article that particularly caught my eye ( about individuals who are not only using their ‘out of office’ as a means of delaying a response to e-mails, (despite being very much present at work), but in cases where a person is not at thier desk, it is becomingly an increasingly popular medium to boast about their alternative whereabouts.

Unfortunately working at a Local Authority most things are standardised, so the only alternative or even interesting automatic responses I receive miss out the ‘l’ in ‘public’, (although Rodney in Childrens Services obviously hadn’t noticed his ‘automatic spellcheck’ box was ticked when he signed his Out of Office ‘regards, Donkey’).

The ‘Out of Office’ phenomenon has thus passed me by, although I am noticing a similar equally frightening trend occurring on ‘Facebook’. A fairly recent member (I have been a practicing ‘Booker’ for about 2 months now), initially the people that occupied my ‘friends list’ were those that knew me well, people I see often, people who know I listen to Simon and Garfunkel in my car, who know I have not yet left my birthplace of Reading, who have access to many an unflattering photograph of me (mostly because they took them), and who know that my career in a planning office is neither dynamic or well paid. Back in the early days I felt no pressure therefore to appear jet setting, beautifully groomed or even interesting. I could set my status to ‘Amy is: tidying her reciept drawer’ without fear of being judged.

Now all this has changed.

One quite unnerving feature of Facebook is that anyone can track you down. Anyone. People that have sat next to you in restaurants, shared a crayon with you at Sunday School, copied your maths homework, have left you feedback on ebay, are cousins of your mum’s friends brother – anyone. Every once in a while I login to the ‘Book’ see if any of my closest acquantancies have decided upon a new favourite colour or have challenged me to a quiz about their sandwich filling prefences, and a little message pops up noting that I have ‘1 friend request’. On the odd occasion I actually know the person, I gladly check the box and add details as to how this unfortunate individual came across me. More frequently however, I have been added to the friends lists of people who look familar or I recognise the name, but I wouldn’t know where to send their Christmas Card to. In such instances I generally feel too polite to reject an open offer of friendship and we become Facebook friends. What’s the harm anyway?

Well it would seem increasing pressure to perform…or at least appear to. As my ‘Friends Box’ becomes filled with buff looking pictures of ex class mates and postings on my ‘wall’ appear from those riding elephants bare back across the Sahara Desert for African Orphans, it has started to make my trips to the Southsea Tram Museum seem somewhat tame. Indeed countless photo’s of holidays in Bali have been posted, someone else has just got engaged to an investment banker and is living in Zanzibar, Tiffany is: ‘just too tired to get out of the hot tub’ and Dave’s interests include ‘rollerskating around the private tennis court’ .

It is tempting to let any insecurities overule reason in situations such as these, and it has occurred to me on the odd occasion that I could dig out any pictures of me in which I may appear to be in either an exotic or death defying/adventurous situation…but that’s not real.

Which has started to make me wonder how much of Facebook is.

So I will return to drinking my cup of tea, in Reading, happy in the knowledge that there are at least some of my friends on Facebook that are willing to accept my old person music taste, own a picture of me with three chins, listen to my tales of transport Museums and acknowledge all that is truly me….

and I couldn’t want for any more.

Shop – Shape


I have committed to virtual paper in the past my general dislike of clothes shopping, which (for if you were fortunate enough to have missed that blog on Aimstation)  stems largely from a lack of patience of large crowded stores, unflattering changing room lights and shop assistants that have more interest in telling their colleague ‘how much Julie lost on the Cabbage diet’ than helping you purchase your item. It also doesn’t really help either that I am the shape of two squares hinged together in the middle, and getting anything to fit the right bits in the right places, flatter my robustness and present itself in a colour that does not (as my mother says) make me ‘look terminal’ is a challenge in itself.

It was therefore on Monday, with a trip to Reading town centre planned, I drew in my breath (helps to make my tummy look flatter) , donned my lucky pants and marched on into the ‘Oracle’ shopping centre (known locally as the ‘Orrible’) to see if I could find anything to help me with my clothes crisis. You see, lately something has taken over me  demanding ‘out with the old, in with the new’ – something last week that applied itself to my wardrobe. As I now share hanging space with my ‘better half’, it was actually time to thin out the fleet a bit and review of all of the things that either don’t fit, are too old now, or were a mistake on purchase – like the fitted pink top with a buttoned high collar which makes me look as though I am representing Russia at shotput. Having turned out two whole carrier bags worth of stuff however, I am now left with 2 pairs of ropey blue jeans, a few t-shirts and some work trousers that – if I’m honest – have seen better days.

I need new clothes.

My venture to Reading however was sadly less than fruitful, and thus I share with you a further grieveance of shopping….

It is now my experience that if the current ‘fashion’ does not suit your tastes/shape, you are largely buggered. This is because all high street shops sell virtually the same clothing, the difference being an occasional bow or button, or a split down one side. At the moment the ‘1980’s appear to be once again ‘en vogue’, and where leggings and flourescent pink tops never ‘really did it for me’ the first time round (oh dear, I sound old) it would appear their remergence onto the fashion scene has not improved how I look in them either. Indeed all of the clothes I tried on in an attempt to join in with the ‘hip kids’, simply made me look like a sturdier cast member of ‘Flashdance’.

I can’t even do a cartwheel.

I am therefore off to the ‘Next’  conveniently stationed next to Sainsburys before the weekly shop tonight, hoping they may stock some more’ conventional apparel’….

Because the only stop left after that is BHS or Littlewoods…

And I’m not that old.