OCD and a Great Weekend


Its been a great weekend – and although busier than most – has left me feeling quite relaxed and at peace with the world, if not more than a little tired.

On Friday evening the better half and I ventured down to the coast and met up with some friends and some boats to watch the ‘end of Cowes Week’ fireworks. With the wind very much present in my hair, a sunset to rival most others, and a ready supply of cake onboard, it seemed a truly perfect way to end the week as the five of us watched rockets take to the air and erupt with a satisfying boom, sprinkling showers of impossible colour over the water. Thanks to Simon for making it possible (you can take a look at the photo’s on the gallery).

Saturday saw a swift turn around as we headed back home for a much needed shower and then out again to a BBQ. This was another extrodinarily good combination of things I enjoy – namely BBQ food, relaxed sunny evenings and most of all new people.

It has started to turn into a bit of a strange hobby of mine that I very much enjoy spending time in the company of people I don’t know so well. It is something that has developed over a number of years since I became sufficiently confident to introduce myself and strike up conversation. Now I revel in the chance to chat with someone new and learn about their own take on life, what interests them, what inspires them, and what, if anything, we share as common ground.

This weekend I met a lovely lady who not only works in a vaguely planning related job, but it so conspires that she too has ‘obsessions’ that verge on being OCD – needing labels on tins to face forward in cupboards as an example. I was greatly relieved by this as I have started to develop habits that are worryingly becoming ‘must do’s. One of which is keeping my desk at work neat. Increasingly I am becoming a ‘tidy person’ in general –  a little sad because these things shouldn’t matter, although I can let the odd misplaced object at home go. At work however my belongings are tidied with almost regimental order, not in the least my magazine files that need to be placed in alternate colour order (stripey box, red box). In addition to this the contents of each file are stored in not only date order, size order but also ‘frequency of use’. My colleagues often marvel at my bizarre tidiness – because as anyone that works in a planning would know – planning offices practically breed books,plans, maps, drawings, surveys and anything that can be feasibly use, be shaped in the form of or bare a distant relation to paper. Keeping anything tidy therefore takes supreme effort.

What’s more – I have a ‘thing’ about pegging clothes on the washing line in order – with underwear having its own exclusive side of the whirlygig.  I order the clothes in my wardrobe by colour. I’ve started to have trouble thinking over a problem without holding a pen in my hand. I can’t sit with a dirty plate in front of me for too long, I find it very difficult to go out without washing my hair, and having sharp objects pointing towards me is a no no.

I don’t want to even get onto the need to place the shaving gel behind the mouthwash in the bathroom.

Its a little worrying, although I was heartened to be told at the weekend that such habits add to our uniqueness, and as a result we are different and thus special people.

I’m going with that.

Its a darn sight better than ‘weird’.

Magical Mystery Tor

Turner’s Tours has now entered into its second year.

For something that started out as a trip to ‘Go-Ape’ in Bracknell Forest (see gallery for photos kindly provided by Mr McMichael), we’ve actually managed to fit in visits to quite a few places including ice skating at Somerset House on New Years Eve, Ghost Walks in London, an evening at the Covent Garden Comedy Club, and a lots of bopping on ‘bar benches’ at the Reading Real Ale and Jazz Festival. Its really just been a great excuse to catch up with people I might otherwise not get to see so often and do something random and silly. I hope we can keep it up, I’ve had a lot of fun so far!

Anyway, due to a bit of nagging that Turner’s Tours should acquire a slightly more official status, I hereby launch its new look…but one that might need explaning.

Turner’s Tours has become Turner’s Tors

You see ‘Turner Tours’ already exists.

Turners Tours’ also already exists.

I thought about  making it ‘Turner’s Tourz’, but decided that sounded a bit common and lowered the tone of such a classy organisation with its high profile members.

I therefore have settled on Turners Tors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tor) as a play on words. This is because tors are known for their magical, mystical properties (thus a magical, mystery tor…) , they are the ‘high point’ (they are for me), and seeing as base camp for tours is at WHS Lilac Walk, situated on quite a steep hill,  it seemed rather appropriate.

So I had a name. Just needed a ‘look’. This is what I came up with:


Lots of Tors have a castle on top, thus does mine. I also decided to make the hill into the world, just because it looked prettier and I guess you’ll never know where we might end up on a Tor – especially if I’m map reading!

I’m open to suggestions for alternative designs.

Apparently a range of ‘Tor’ pants could go down well though…

I’ll leave it there.

Outside these four walls…


There are times, as the other half will confirm, when I need to escape being indoors and go out somewhere. Often it doesn’t matter where, but it would seem that I do not possess the ability to spend a whole day inside and not experience the world outside of our four walls. I feel trapped.

My favourite place to escape to are the woods and fields that surround the tiny hamlet of Sulham. These are little further away from my current residence, but when I lived with my parents were a short 5 minute walk away. What still amazes me is that there are about 15,000 people that live in my ‘Village’, yet when you head out to the woods and ‘7 ponds’ (as the fields are know locally – named after the dew ponds that sometimes appear) it is quite often that foxes, deer and bunnies will be your only companions.

I have pretty much grown up in Sulham Woods and 7 Ponds. I used to sit in the long grass of the fields and read my famous five books, revise for my exams or just listen to the grass hoppers twitch and the birds chirp their merry tunes. I used to meet with my guide pack in the woodland clearing and cook sausages on trangiers and make sherbert dib dabs. In the winters when I was younger and it actually used to snow, my friends and I would take our sledges to the woods and set up runs down the steep and uneven footpaths, doing our best to avoid the bramble bushes at the bottom. My Mum and I during the spring and summer months would walk in the woods and fields most evenings, stopping to sit on the old tree stump half way along our route which became ‘our spot’ for putting the world to right. I used to roll down the hills there, hug the big trees there, play hide and seek, watch the farmers crops grow, say hello to the horses, pat the cows and play ‘knock ’ems’ with fir cones and conkers. It was even where I taught our dog Basil to sit independently in puddles – much to my parents delight.  

On such a beautiful day as this, with a seamlessly blue sky and bright sun light streaming through the window, I regret that I have to be in an office in Wokingham and not the woods and fields at home. I am also starting to feel a pang of guilt that as a town planner I occasionally have to inform the residents of Wokingham  that the places they hold dear have just been given planning permission.

Sadly that’s what happens in a country that can’t seem to build enough houses.

I’m just glad my woods and fields are protected nationally. I just don’t share that with the people that live here….


Such is my fickle nature, with this post I will appear to perform a u-turn of opinion from my last. However the marked difference is in this post I share my delight of internet shopping – an experience so well thought about, so ingenious, so lifestyle compatible that you can experience it at its fullest whilst wearing your pyjama’s, drinking a mug of tea, and you don’t have to give two squats about the fact you have ‘happy hair’ this morning.

Most of items I buy these days are purchased on the internet. Although I know I should be buying things from local retailers and supporting ‘real stores’ which bring vitality to our ‘real streets’ (blah blah blah) , shopping on the internet means a) I don’t have to experience any of the trauma of the high street I formerly described and can get on with more worthwhile activities, b) things are quite often better value online, c) a smiley courier will deliver my purchase to my doorstep in exchange for a quick squiggle (that would be a signature…) d) if a shop is worth its salt it will have a website anyway (our local butchers is very handy in that way).  

One of my favourite shops at the moment which has a magnificent website is ‘Tchibo’* (pronounced ‘Chee-bo’ I believe). I have made several excellent purchases from their online store, including a snowboarding outfit with pockets large enough to offer safe passage across a border, a jolly nice document sorting device I use for university work and a pair of very stylish lamps that illuminate our newly decorated bedroom. Every once in a while I also recieve – via e-mail – a newsletter alerting me that Tchibo has received some new stock. I normally have a look every time this happens to see if I can grab another bargian, although I also enjoy seeing what theme the purchasing and website team have gone for this week – and in the past they have been quite imaginitive….

Last week was an ‘office product’ based page which was nice…..

This week they have really pushed the boat out in their presentation….

Check it out: www.tchibo.co.uk

I never knew a microfibre mop could be so exciting….!

* other websites selling things that you can buy are also available.

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.

It’s all about the Journey


I’m really excited.

August has filled itself with a plethora of events, all of which I am looking forward to immensely. Not at least the journeys…

I have always been a firm believer that is doesn’t matter what happens in life, it is the journey that counts. This is a philosophy however I also seem to have taken on quite literally. Indeed it has almost always been the case that on every trip I have ever been, one of the most enjoyable parts (for me) has always been the getting there.

Despite its appalling ‘green’ credentials I am a massive fan of flying for example. I love the whole experience from the buzz of the airport, to that tense moment when you don’t know if your new H&M belt will set off the metal detectors – meaning a security woman with a hairy top lip will have to run a bleepy thing over you…the departure gate bit where nervous passengers say their prayers, kids that have long tired with their activity books  play hide and seek behind the check-in desk, the couple from Manchester who talk at the volume of a power drill and wear sun visors are finishing up their cans of 4X….then you get on the plane, find your seat, watch as heavily make-up clad stewardess’ do their best to model yellow safety jackets, the roar of taking off and then the soaring like a bird, followed by a few hours of watching delightfully cheesy films whilst being kept amused by an array of things in plastic packets , some of which are edible.

It’s not just planes though. Trains hold a similar fascination – from the different sorts of people that travel on them, to the ticket inspectors with their clicky clippers, the stewards in hats with the tea trolleys that always have a dodgy wheel, and the vast amounts of scenery that whizz past the window, making the eyes of those watching it flick like an erratic second hand on a mechanical watch.

This weekend I have a car journey. Although these can sometimes be tiring, especially when caught in heavy traffic, I still revel in the opportunity to spend time with whoever I am travelling with – an excuse for uninterrupted conversation, the telling of tales and adventures, the car sweets that are unbelievably chewy or make you squint at their sharpness, the chance to experience motorway service station toilets,  and then there are the car games…

It is not that I am ever disappointed when I arrive at a destination – don’t get me wrong. There is just something about going on a journey that fills me with excitement –  the anticipation of what may meet you at the other end, the moving on to another place where you haven’t been and you don’t know….

I guess it is the principle of the journey that spurs me on in life. I need to be going somewhere, doing something and working towards my next goal – I need something on the horizon to look forward to, for there to be a point to everything, for there to be a journey – physical or otherwise to embark upon…

Because you never know where you might arrive….

And that’s what makes life exciting.

The Day of the Frock

I have never been particularly body confident, so showing off more than a wrist or ankle on occasions can send me into a cold sweat. Today though, having officially ran out of summery clothes (I managed to put my hand through the material of one summer blouse and burnt a hole in another one) meant that there was only one thing for it.

I had to wear the summer frock.

I must say I am actually feeling slightly panicky already, as sitting at my desk I have noticed from shaving my legs this morning – bleary eyed and standing up in the shower, I have missed random patches, making my uprights look rather like a cat having been prepared for surgey.

The cross-over design at the front has also been causing me some problems having (quite unknown to me) wrapped itself around my seatbelt in the morning rush hour, giving the slip road queue at M4 junction 12 a flash of my M&S’ finest.

The gathered bits at the side also need constant pulling down so the dress sits right on my hips, but this has to be perfectly timed with the pulling up of the top foldy over bit to prevent any further over exposure. I almost gave an elderly gentleman at the public planning counter a heart attack earlier – having gotten this procedure out of sequence.

There are however some benefits to my summer frock – it is keeping me delightfully cool, was far easier to put on than other outfits involving zips and buttons – and I must admit- I am rather partial to its aqua blue/almost greeny colour.

I just don’t think its worth the stress of another visit to the office.

24 and Irrational Fear

My life has once again ground to a complete halt – not because I am swamped during the day with an excessive workload, nor because the recent spate of bad weather has left me feeling lethargic and useless … as it often does.


Neil and I have started to watch the fifth series of 24.

For those of you who have not yet experienced this highly addictive and compelling programme that could rival any best selling thriller novel for its ‘not able to put down-ness’, it is an absolute must see… although warn your friends when you are about to start viewing – it is unlikely that they will see you for a while.

Admittedly I was a little dubious as to whether the script writers would be able to pull it out of the bag again and create new and interesting ways for the indestructable Jack Bauer to be superficially maimed, blown up, shot at, thrown off buildings, out of helicopters and be hidden in yet more air conditioning vents whispering husky voiced into a two way radio…

But they have!

Significant achievements in this series should also be realised in giving Audrey a new hair do, Chloe a better wardrobe and a gun, and for still not giving Curtis (head of field operations) a helmet in dangerous and gun wielding situations – making you fear his imminent death as the only chap on the ground that has two brain cells to rub together and is able to fill in for Jack in saving the world when on the odd occasion Jack becomes a fugitive of the law or is suffering at the hands of another hostile and has to plan his own escape by faking death and hijacking a camel….

Anyway – I won’t say anymore for fear of giving too much away, but let it be said my evenings have certainly been enriched as Neil and I battle on through countless episodes of 24 until our fingers grow sore from holding our eyelids open, and we head for bed.

I highlight ‘we’ for emphasis. You see 24 has been having some unintentional consequences.

Indeed, although I promote viewing of 24 as being an immensley thrilling and a somewhat essential waste of your life, it isn’t without side effects. You may, for example, sense a heightening in your bravado (I have found this particularly the case in male viewers), you may begin to say ‘copy that’ at the end of phone calls to friends or colleagues, and a disturbing proportion of viewers are also now in posession of the cisco ringtone. The effect it has had upon me, however, is a little more embarrassing.

If I have finished my viewing of 24 on an episode where the latest batch of ‘baddies’ haven’t been apprehended, all irrational fear I reserved for monsters under the bed and ghosts in the wardrobe when I was five years old comes flooding back to me, and I am unable to enter dark rooms without a companion. In fact it is often I require to be escorted upstairs to close the curtains or brush my teeth after an episode – just in case there is a terrorist lurking in the depths of our three bedroom semi.

In fact, I am particularly suspicious of the cupboard above the stair well. You could fit at least two heavily armed Russians in there….

Still…you’d think at 25 I’d be equipped enough mentally to differentiate between reality and fiction, that I’d know technology is advanced enough for people to no longer have to sit inside a television for you to watch it, that the baddies aren’t real and my teddy has no additional claims on my life than it had before…. but for or some reason none of this matters.

Every day I give thanks for Neil’s patience.

Watch 24.

I advise not alone.

You’re going to love it.

Little Friends



Yesterday I had to say goodbye to my other friend.

Phoebe and Harriet pictured above were awesome rats and were very naughty. They liked nothing better than passing the time in the hood of my jumper or jacket – or would curl up in my collar and watch tv. Phoebe had a particular penchant for orange juice, peas and Neil, would dash about our living room bouncing between sofa’s, and would often wait on the top stair in the morning for a cuddle – knowing she wasn’t allowed any further. Harriet (always the lady) with her tremendously soft coat and neat socks would delicately mince about and chew her way through living room curtains to make herself a mini tent. She paid close attention to cleaning her ears and cuddled up to Phoebe when they slept.

Sadly a few months ago they both caught a respiratory infection (something unfortunately a lot of rats are prone to) which made breathing quite difficult for a time, and despite several attempts to clear this with antibiotics, their little bodies struggled with the nasty bug. Phoebe managed to hang on for a while and was with us a little longer than Harriet, but yesterday she too was just too poorly to cope anymore.

For anyone who has never met a rat before (the domestic kind), don’t be put off by of the bad press rats in general receive, or indeed their long (and quite beautiful) tails. They are wonderful beings – very friendly, very smart and very good company. They become a part of your family as much as any dog or cat would. Phoebe and Harriet were firmly established in mine and will be very much missed.

Goodbye little friends, you were lovely.

The start of something ‘A Little Bit Different’.

Today I am starting anew.


It is a little difficult to explain, but here goes.

More has happened to me in the past few years than I could ever comprehend. It has been a terryifying, emotional, amazing and exhilarating experience. For all that I have learned, for all that I have seen and for all of the people I have met, it has changed me. I think for the better.

When I started to write Aimstation (my old site) I wasn’t long out of university, hadn’t got a handle on the real world and was more than a bit lost. I wrote about things that amused me, things that I thought were interesting and things that I thought might appeal to other people. I was never brave enough to _really_ write. I was never brave enough to really be me.

I have been experiencing an internal itch for a while now to try something else with my blog. Whenever I went back to post on Aimstation somehow I didn’t feel right. It had sort of come to represent me in a skin that no longer fitted.

It was time for something a little bit different.

So here it is. I’m not entirely sure what will come of my new approach to blogging. It is more of a personal experiment to see what happens in life when I am given a free rein of myself.

I just hope for blogging sake it turns out to be interesting….!