A promised post

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Iain: “This is probably going to end up on your blog isn’t it”.

Yep.

Today Iain celebrated managing to survive two whole summers with us in ‘Planning Policy’ which, along with all of the obvious benefits of gaining solid work experience, has been useful in providing further confirmation that upon leaving University, Iain does not wish to pursue a Planning career.

We’re not doing very well, two other students who’ve left us said the same…

Mr Lock will be most missed for upping the ‘young people’ numbers, providing car park companionship for my small blue hatchback, being as rubbish as me at map reading (meaning several return visits to some sites), for having a healthy regard of Wellingtonia Avenue and the fact that ‘Nine Mile Ride’ is really that long- and his extensive knowledge of the Molly Millars area was truly impressive.

For his leaving gift Iain received a mug with pictures of a Wokingham Industrial Estate on it, with which he seemed genuinely delighted.

As good an indication as any…. it was time to leave the Planning Office.

And….Autumn!

I am a bit of a fan of the English weather in that it appears strictly independent of anything else dictating the time of year. Last week, despite being mid September with kids already back at school and Halloween costumes decorating the window at Woolies, it was most definitely summer still, and one could stroll out quite happily without a cardigan and not feel nervous.

This week however is Autumn. I woke up on Monday to an unexpected gloom, a stark contrast to the piercingly bright light normally spilling out from the sides of our bedroom curtains, and not wishing to turn a light on and wake Neil, I was left to rifle about for clothes to wear and ended up putting on my make-up using the light of a mobile phone. This has led me to remember three things about Amy morning preparation in the darkness of Autumn/Winter:

1. Clothes are not always as they seem. Not only might the clothing you chose to wear appear a completley different colour in the dark, but the billowing shirt you attempt to make fit your body might not even be yours. If this mistake is only realised however when you have reached your car, always take a jumper with you to cover up all evidence of wearing mens clothing so no-one will notice.

2. Approach blusher application cautiously in dimmly lit conditions. The ‘rosy glow’ you were going for has the potential to look like ‘fell asleep on sunbed’ if you don’t make sufficient compensation for illumination levels. 

3. Never attempt to use anything aerosol related unless you can access a light bulb or are in a well ventilated area. Inability to see the direction of the nozzle may lead to temporary blindness, deafness, coughing/sneezing fits, suffocation of ones sleeping partner, misting of ones mirror, and in my case, mortification that instead of having long and glossy locks I had instead deodorised hair.

Now I have cottoned on to the above hopefully I can make the necessary preparations the night before so my mornings run more smoothly – although this is slightly wishful thinking considering I barely have enthusiasm to even move when I get home, let alone be organised.

So all I can do is stop whinging about the dark mornings and enjoy the prettiness of the Autumnal leaves, the crispness of the morning air, the dew on cobwebs, the deep orange sunsets and cosy nights in beside the fire (or in our case cosy nights in by the fan oven which gives a very similar effect – particularly if I’m cooking).

Oh, and be grateful that I like Neil’s taste in clothing….

Wedding of the Year

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As mentioned in my last post, Neil and I were fortunate enough to attended ‘Wedding of the Year 2007′ at the weekend, as Gary and Marie-Claire became lawfully responsible for each other. Admittedly Marie-Claire did look the most nervous at this prospect, but having seen Gary’s outlandish antics (including diving on the lawn in front of the Greek Parliament during our field trip to Athens), this was more than understandable. It was all smiles however once the knot had been tied, and with Inga’s beautiful singing during the service, it was easy to see which guests had had the foresight to wear waterproof mascara (I was not one of them).

After the ceremony it was on to the reception in a beautiful converted barn, decorated to the rafters with fairy lights and candles galore, all of which helped to make the place feel a little bit magic. Neil was also particularly pleased to have found a favourite foodstuff presented as a favour on our tables, although was a little dismayed that the little pot of Essex jam was labelled ’15th September 2007’. Having however realised this was as a momento of the occasion and not the sell by date of the product, he carefully stowed his and my pot away ( am sure I’ll be lucky to see that again….).

Higlights of the day for me had to be the excited anticipation of seeing Marie-Claire appearing at the doors of the Church, the Best Man’s Land Rover Defender dressed in ribbon, the maginificent plethora of outfits worn by attendees including an impressive fleet of kilts and fascinators, and the realisation that – guess what – I was ‘the girl’ who wore the same dress as someone else. Fortunate for me, I knew that someone else, and Steph and I made a point to compliment each other on our outfits throughout the rest of the day (the girl did look stunning).

So I hereby present above the newly married Mr and Mrs Tovey – pictured above of course, although sadly being a guest without crowd negotiating skills, I was only able to capture a side profile of the Wedding Party.

But what lovely noses they all have. 

A Friday post

Aaaah! Today I am suffering from writers block,

Possibly tiredness or worrying about my wedding frock,

You see tomorrow two friends are tying the knot,

And I’ve got the outfit, the shoes, but not

the right undergarment that won’t peep above my clothes

 – Just have to pop to M&S I suppose.

Looking forward though to seeing M*C and Gary,

standing up at the altar as they agree to marry,

and then there will be the flowers, the bridesmaids, the cars, the rings,

and relatives crying and hats and things,

and then the reception after that in a lovely spot,

think its called ‘Blake Hall’ unless I forgot,

which is in Essex – yes, tomorrow we head East!

Good luck Neil with my map reading! (I’ll have my specs at least) ,

but we’ll leave early anyway so we don’t miss our pew,

otherwise I’ll become that someone Gary ‘knew’,

and I don’t want that because he’s a lovely friend,

and to the happy couple I hereby send,

my congratulations – good luck to you both on your special day!,

I’ll be there cheering (underwear not on display),

So see you tomorrow when you become man and wife,

Here’s wishing you all the best in life!

P.S This was my third attempt at trying to post,

And normally it is trouble free writing most,

But today I sat here for a fair old time

And all that came out appeared to rhyme,

So I finally concluded ‘sod it’, if this is how it’ll be

This blog will be entirely

written in verse – so I decided not to stress,

what will be here on Monday is anyone’s guess…

Pain in the tum

I woke up this morning quite uncomfortable and a little disgruntled that my body was misbehaving and stomach cramps seemed to have taken me over. It’s not often that my insides are disobedient so I always try to show some sympathy and pander to their every need as I am rendered largely useless without their proper functioning.

At 6:07 this morning I fed myself some pink gloopy syrup that promised on the bottle to sterilise, neutralise and revolutionise my digestive system, but 20 mins later I was still bent double. At 6:37 I drank a pint of water to see if that would do anything to relieve the situation, but sadly nothing came out of this apart from a brief disagreement with our tempremental Brita Water Filter , score Water Filter 1 – Amy 0. Having changed out of my newly rinsed clothing I got back into bed and tried to get comfortable. Luckily Neil is quite a heavy sleeper and after 2 accidental elbows in the chin, a kick on the knee and a minor headbutting incident, I felt the poor lad had suffered enough unconcious abuse, so I opted to drag the spare duvet out of the airing cupboard and set up camp on the sofa. Once here I switched on the TV and wriggled until the pangs of pain resonating from around my middle seemed to die down a little, and I couldn’t help but laugh at where I found myself.

Comfort for me this morning was draped over the back of the sofa, my elbows resting on the lower sofa cushions, the duvet tucked around me so I became the sausage in the roll, and my legs were suspended on a box containing the bed for our new guest room stored behind the sofa (awaiting erection). I stayed in this position for a full hour and a half until finally my midriff gave in to its conditioning and allowed me to get on with my day.

It’s funny what your body makes you do to comfort itself, and I often find myself in the most unlikely of positions in order to satisfy some part of me that is experiencing trouble. I just hope it doesn’t happen again anytime soon – the carpet has been ordered for the spare room and the bed box will be going soon. The only thing then left to prop me up on when in pain is the new tv – and where I can get away with the odd a.m. kick in the shin, I’m not sure that one would go unnoticed….

Thinking about boxes

When I was younger, nothing delighted me more than receiving a parcel of ‘making things’ for a Birthday or for Christmas. Such a parcel would normally contain an essential packet of felt tips, some string, a small Pritstick, possibly some kiddy scissors, and most excitingly – my own roll of Sellotape (something that was given high regard in our house and was not to be wasted). Following such an occasion I would normally accompany my parents on their trip to the supermarket where I was allowed to scout out the crate of cardboard boxes left for customers whose purchases required transit in something sturdier than a plastic carrier bag. I would spend at least 15 minutes inspecting the various boxes as to their size and shape, and having chosen my perfect specimen, I would clutch it carefully (and with great pride) to my chest until I arrived home when work would begin….

Perched on a chair at the kitchen table, out would come my ‘making things’ parcel and given an hour or two my supermarket box would become a Sindy Castle, or a horse box for Roller Skating Ken’s show pony, or a hideout for my lego men or a hole would be cut in the front to make way for ‘Turner Television’ – much to the delight of my parents I’m sure, whom I remember being made to watch several broadcasts.

Admittedly none of my creations would have won any prizes for engineering, and normally within a couple of days the dog would have chewed off the sticky tape draw bridge from my fairy palace box, or my drinking straw ‘moon landing ladder’ and lemonade bottle ‘rocket pack’ would have fallen off of my spaceship (having never made it into orbit), and the whole thing would have to be binned – but that never mattered. Boxes were by far my most favourite thing to play with because they could become anything you wanted, just so long as you could think of it.

I have been told by many a person that you get on in life by thinking ‘outside the box’.

Maybe my problem is that I have spent too long pondering what I could make out of it.

Sitting beside me right now is an empty tissue box I am having problems parting with. It’s stripy and pink, and could look fabulous with just a dash of glitter and maybe some Quality Street wrappers (if I could get hold of some) taped around the side.

I’m sure Neil could do with a pen tidy….

Food for thought

It is a truth universally aknowledged that things generally become more obvious when they are pointed out to you.

I say this as I sit here feeling quite virtuous drinking my ‘No added sugar, contains 10% real fruit’ tropical squash, delighted at the fact that the little colour chart on the bottle contains only green triangles, and I therefore must be doing my insides some good.

Ever since Sainsburys introduced a pie chart on their packets allowing the consumer to more easily judge which substances are better for their health using a red/amber/green system, this has led to a slight obsession in our household as to which foodstuffs enter the shopping trolley each week. It has even got to the stage where if the chart contains more orange triangles than green, we have been known to put something back and go without our cheesy savoury butternut twists or our chunky mango yoghurty delight for fear of mental repremand. Indeed it is with greater frequency we will actually stand amongst the supermarket aisles of a Thursday evening actually debating the virtues of one product over another – which although has done wonders for my negotiating and problem solving skills, is on the whole perhaps a little sad (although it’s good to know we are quite well matched as a couple).

What does interest me however, is that a reduced amount of thought goes in to purchasing the items not containing this little wheel of healthy living fortune – for instance the little flapjack squares I sometimes hide under the bag of spinach as a little treat, or Neil’s weekly vice of ‘Cinnamon Whirls’. It is common sense to both of us that neither of these products are likely to help us with our ‘5-a-day’, prevent dementia, breast cancer, heart disease or gout, or even reduce harmful plaque build up, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue. If such yummy things were to have the little chart on them, no doubt containing the ‘red traingles of death’, I wonder if we’d think twice before plucking them off the shelves and would enjoy munching them with our low carb, half fat ice cream when we got home….?

I’m finding that the act of eating has become increasingly laden with guilt, and watching ‘You’re Killing your Kids’ whilst tucking into a Deep Pan Hot Fajita Chicken Pizza or ‘Obese Teens’ whilst daubing Sour Cream onto a jacket potato has led to us stricking off such meals from our menu for good. Now I am drawn to items when shopping that are contained within the virtuous green and white wrapping, meaning it is of the ‘good for you’ brand and thus I should be able to tuck into them without fear of an expanding waist line. This however is actually rubbish in quite a lot of cases, and doing a quick comparison on some foods shows that it is the often the cereal bar in the glitzy wrapper giving away half price tickets to ‘Alsatian World’ or the Jar of Tomato Sauce ‘Win a Hosepipe!” that come out better in the health stakes. Still, I will always be tempted to buy the ‘good for you’ because it says exactly that…

So where am I going with this? I’m not entirely sure, but I do know Sainsburys have helped me in some respects by introducing their wheel of nutritional guilt, as I now appear to be a more convenient shape for my clothes (so some of it must be working) and often opt for a nectarine before reaching for a pot of gooey caramel topped chocolate pudding – and I don’t need a pie chart to tell me that’s better for my innards.

I guess it is a matter of common sense really, eat the bad things in moderation, eat the good things in abundance…

And the odd flapjack hidden underneath the bag of spinach isn’t going to kill you.

But the Cinnamon Whirls might….

(only joking)

Large Fruit

It is one of the strangest feelings to visit a place you know so well, but yet you have never been before.

These were the exact sentiments I passed by my other half 10 days ago as we stood, audio guide clad in the shadow of Lady Liberty, enjoying a somewhat surreal but spectacular view of downtown Manhattan.

For this Summers adventure (and hence my brief ALBD absence), Neil and I decided upon a trip to New York to see ‘in real life’ all of those things that were previously only known to us on the television, in films, or from pictures of its infamous skyline, normally complimentary with mounting when purchasing a frame from John Lewis. Indeed, as our Shuttle Bus from the airport ducked and dived between traffic in quite an alarming fashion on the Brooklyn Bridge (indicating is ‘so last year’), we could hardly believe that right before us was the backdrop to every Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romance as the Chrysler Building, Empire State and GE buildings swept into view.

Used to the sort of beige and brown interiors hostels of recent university field trips have presented, I was also rather bowled over by our very grand and extremely spacious hotel lobby, as well as our very comfortable hotel room located on the 17th floor. There was no mistaking we were in New York now, where everything appeared to follow the mantra ‘bigger is better’ – even the people – which goes someway to explain the dramatic lean of our tour boat when a whole host of US citizens rushed to catch the first glimpse of Liberty Island on the starboard side – the first time ever I was grateful of paying attention to the saftey announcement and took careful note of where to find a ‘life preserve’.

Indeed, another striking thing about my first real stop in America (my 5 hour transfer in Houston I don’t think really counts) is that they call things funny. More so than I had expected. I thought I had a handle on the lingo before my Heathrow depature, and I was quite excited at the opportunity to engage in more sophisticated conversation with the local population, rather than the ‘2 ice lollies and a boiled egg please’ and ‘how much is that corn plaster?’ I have been able to manage in other foreign tongues. I knew, for example, that across the pond a lift is an ‘elevator’, to ask for ‘chips’ when requiring crisps as part of a balanced lunch, ‘riding the tube’ means something completely different over there, and when needing to powder my nose I was to head for the nearest ‘restroom’ or ‘bathroom’.

What I hadn’t counted on was someone asking me how many ‘pattys’ I’d like (to me this is the lady who lives at No.45), whether I’d like Grande, Vendi, skinny fat, half fat or low fat when ordering tea, if I’d like the ‘check’ at the end of my meal, and once curiously whether I’d ‘busted a haul out’ or had been ‘diggin the vibe on the down low’. To the last comment I, of course being English,  smiled politely at the young gentleman and nodded -much to his obvious amusement. Indeed most of the locals did seem very friendly, and one even commented I had ‘bitchin’ kicks’. I think he was referring to my shoes, and I was terribly pleased having polished them especially.

Despite these unexpected lingustic issues, New York certainly lived up to every expectation. It was tall, buzzy, exciting, dynamic and really got under your skin. We packed an incredible amount into the 6 days we were there, although we never felt rushed or were overcome with urgency as one thing flowed into another.

I’ll post evidence of our expolits on the gallery when I get my behind into gear for anyone who’d like to view my improving ability at ‘self takes’. The better framed photographs, the ones in focus and ones of me looking gormless will be Neil’s.

He is also particularly proud of his shot of Lady Liberty’s butt.

There is just no accounting for taste….

Sunny Shiny Happy

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‘It’s all happening’. 

It really is.

2007 seems to be another one of those years where everything appears to be moving and rearranging,  a new door is teetering on its hinges waiting to be opened onto a new chapter, a new episode in this thing called life.  What next is in store is anyones guess, but for now I am content that after months of watching those dear to me experience endless worry and stress, things are looking up – and by appearances the sun has also decided to drop in for the occasion. 

Yesterday my friend Helen told me her man of 5 years had done the decent thing, had got down on one knee in the kitchen of their new house and popped the question. The result being a magnificent ring on the finger of this magnificent lady.

Congratulations Helen and Chris, wishing you a happy forever….

and Helen, I’ll look into a big BBQ! 

Spectacular

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I have been ‘HD ready’ for a while.

For about a year and a half in fact.

It was only until a couple of weeks ago however when I finally managed to book an appointment for an eye test that all became clear.

“Please read the letters on the board for me, right down to the lowest line you can manage”

“A….. is that an E?.. and an O?….I’m sorry that’s all I see”.

The nice optician lady handed me a card with some interesting looking numbers on it and asked me to bring in my old pair of glasses to compare prescriptions. From the look on her face when I handed back what had fondly become known as ‘my librarians’, it was clear that I was going to need to choose some new spectacles.

On Sunday I picked them up and ….wow.

It’s like opening the window for a couple of minutes to clear a misted bathroom mirror, it’s like the difference between VHS and DVD, it’s like finding the optimum focus on a zoom of a camera, like peeling back the protective layer on a pane of glass, like drawing a black line around otherwise anonymous shapes with a pencil, finally revealing their true identity.

I see the world now in HD and I like it.

Very much.