Saturday, December 31, 2005

green, green grass

With Christmas over; the wild boar devoured, the wine drunk, the presents unwrapped and the headaches gone, for the past few days I haven't been able to stop my mind wandering off to Spring. It seems such a long way off, with the cold and dreary months of January and February to come, and yet I can almost touch the soft new grass, the bright trumpets of daffodils and smell the scent of opening buds. I long to be surrounded by green, not the barren wasteland of leafless trees and bare gardens that I feel enclosed in now.

Next week I shall start my garden design course. I'm really looking forward to having something creative to get my teeth in to, and have already had a thousand ideas, foxgloves and hammocks, fountains and vegetables plots all stirring up in to a mass of colour. To me it is an exciting way to start the new year, with a new project that already has me enthralled.

On Monday I will also start dance classes with Lyndsey, a way to keep those pounds off I hope. We had a fabulous time at the ballet on Thursday, the dancing was better than last year, and the sets were amazing. We've promised to go up to London this year, to catch some more, if only as it makes us stand up straight and glide for the rest of the evening!

For now though, have a Very Happy New Year. May it bring you adventures galore!

Thursday, December 22, 2005


This week the office has been inundated with presents from members of faculty. We've had a large range of chocolates, bottles of bubbly and beautiful cyclamens in deep blood red. I could never say that we go unappreciated, with the thanks and well wishes we have received. It's been really heartening to know that we're doing a good job but I have to admit that I've never seen anything like the response we've had.

Everyone is winding down at the moment, and there is a general air of sleepiness set about the place. Voices are hushed, footsteps are small and dragged along the corridors, eyes opened blearily. My kettle has boiled many times today, and I've filled the room with the thick roasted smell of coffee in an effort to keep myself awake. I day dream of duvets and roasted chestnuts, of walking along Ashdown Forest as the sun begins to set, and warm glasses of red wine.

I am finally starting to feel Christmassy. This year it seems to have taken me so long, and now with only two days to go, I'm beginning to feel that tingle in my soul. In three days time I'll be tucking in to a succulent leg of wild boar, sitting around the table with my family, in the countryside again. Presents will be opened, jokes will be told and silly hats will be worn, in true Christmas spirit. So for me, there is only tomorrow morning to go before the holidays start.

Monday, December 19, 2005

friday's success & sunday's sleeplessness

Friday was a success; not only did I find one black dress, I found three, and to compromise I bought two. I strolled around with Katharine and Sam, from shop to shop, holding up dresses, smiling into the mirror and after three quarters of an hour, found three in a row. It was a splendid afternoon, made even more splendid when I realised that one of them was a size ten.

To celebrate, the girls sat drinking nicely chilled wine and nibbling on Katharine's home made salsa and guacamole. We talked nonsense, shared our plans for the new year and vowed to meet up again in a couple of weeks.

Saturday I walked through the Lanes with Mum & Dad, dropping into shops and feeling the cold air redden my face. We stopped for lunch and talked books, presents and Christmas. I got home feeling achey and by six o'clock had a temperature and shook under the blanket on the sofa, wide eyed and pathetic. It meant I missed Ben's party, and the chance to wear my new dress. I was frustrated and fed up, so I picked up Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell again, and took myself away from the sofa.

Sunday was quiet, a day of reading The Sunday Times, ironing, and lounging in the bath. For a moment I thought the new-ish neighbours were moving out, that the late night noise and sleeplessness was over. I spoke too soon. At 2:00am I was still awake, pillow over head to blot out the music. It leaves me feeling tired today, and ever so slightly melancholy.

Friday, December 16, 2005

the black dress

Today is a short day, I'll be leaving at 2pm to meet Katharine at St Peters Church. We are going on an expedition to find me a black dress. As yet, I'm not sure whether we will be successful. Although I know what I don't want, I'm not quite sure what I do want, which makes shopping for me, remarkably difficult.

I haven't had a black dress since I was an insect thin size eight, in my late teens and early twenties. I can't believe that I've gone the last six years without one, and the other day it got too much for me. I decided, whilst jotting down a list of things to do in my moleskine, that a black dress is a priority, a necessity. I must have one. And I must have one before Christmas. I suspect that jotting down things to do whilst watching "What Not To Wear" from the corner of my eye, is something I should do less of, it could get expensive.

I would like to have found the perfect dress, miraculously, in time for this evening. The girls are coming around for wine and nibbles to welcome in Christmas. I imagine smoked salmon, asparagus spears, thick lumps of melt in the mouth Camembert and glasses of dark rich red wine, and me, back straight, smiling in my beautiful black dress.

I know that by five o'clock I'll be tired, frustrated and in need of a bath to calm my nerves, but I'm crossing my fingers that, somehow, I find the dress and all will be right for an evening.

Thursday, December 15, 2005


This morning I am alone. The office is open, the phones are ringing and the emails wash in as on every other day but for a change I'm here by myself. It is pleasant, to sit quietly working. I feel a soft calm in my fingers as they write, each word neater, each sentence given more thought. I move with no rush, and in my head I'm purring, little shivers down my spine.

The sun is streaming through the windows behind me, lighting up the white walls and throwing shadows that move and flicker. There is the gentle hum of everyday from the cafe along the corridor, occasional notes of the radio and laughs of conversation. People come in, and I smile and answer, unhurried.

To be this solitary every day would be lonley, but once in a while it is a pleasure to be enjoyed. This afternoon the bustle will be back to normal, with a Christmas Quiz, sticky mulled wine and too-sweet mince pies but this morning I am serene.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

lunch with james

I have just come back from a lovely lunch with James. When I say lovely lunch, I describe the company and not the food. Although IDS provided me with a tuna baked potato, no one could describe it as lovely. Filling and functional would do it for me. James however, was happy, cheerful and full of interesting conversation. We discussed an article in today's Argus on the fury of local businesses, recent planning developments and the Brighton of the future.

James also explained deconstruction to me, fresh from the first term of his MA in Critical Theory, clarifying that the dictionary definition that I'd gone by was completely untrue and that deconstruction could have no definition. That, apparently, is the nature of the beast. After a while I began to feel as if I were slipping into some scientific explanation bordering on big bang theory. James fortunately stopped at this point, and let me buy a new moleskine (this one actually fits in my bag!) and Schott's Almanac. He says that, like me, it has no soul. I was reminded of the day I sold mine, for a champagne cocktail and a pair of kitten heels. Far too cheap really, now I come to think of it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


This afternoon I went to watch my Dad paraglide off a hillside in Glynde. By the time Mum & I arrived everyone was starting to feel very tired, and the mood was much quieter that the jubilance I was expecting.

Dad had one good flight, but unfortunately the one I managed to see wasn't his best of the day. However, he seemed to enjoy himself and Mum and I are expecting him to start signing up for weekend courses and be an expert by this time next year!

I will book my own flight for the summer - it looked amazing, the graceful float through the air under this silk wing, looking out across the Sussex countryside in a field of alpacas. I think I could even cope with running up and down hills for an afternoon, just for those moments alone in the air.

Friday, December 09, 2005

end of term

It is the last day of term, a day which started badly but is improving with each passing minute. It's a day of clearing up the office, taking extended lunch breaks and eating vast quantities of chocolate. On today's chocolate menu we have:

2 chocolate cakes
chocolate cornflake cakes
and chocolates!

We are all exhausted, we've worked hard and we've done very well, so today I feel proud of my team. We deserve the chocolate goodness!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

away with the fairies

I'm in a dream world today, my brain is refusing to engage in any practical way so I am left sitting, staring out of windows or doodling in my notebook for minutes at a time whilst my mind wanders.

So far today it's wandered off on an adventure looking for wine courses. I have seen a couple that look interesting, wine being something I'd like to get better at. Not necessarily drinking it, I can do that quite well enough. I'd like to know more about it, learn to appreciate it more than my current love of the opening glug.

My brain has also wandered off into spring, which is clever of it. It had a nice long walk by the river at Barcombe and stopped off at The Jolly Sportsman in East Chiltington (after a brief teleport from the river, obviously). I found this remarkable, having only ever been there as a child many years ago when I lived along the road (during the Family Adventure in the Countryside) and so not having partaken of the famously delicious food, but my brain seemed to know all about it. I'd like to point out that this was before lunch, since lunch my brain has remained reasonably far away from all restaurants.

It has been on a search for Christmas cards, which wasn't very exciting. It also got a little worried about impending recessions after reading an article on Jamie Oliver's new Fifteen Restaurant in Cornwall. And finally it found me a lovely hotel in Paris, which Lyndsey & myself will be visiting in May.

It is fortunate that I can do many things at once and keep up with all the work, but I'd quite like my brain to come back now. I feel quite dull without it.

Monday, December 05, 2005


Unfortunately Feeder cancelled on Friday after about five songs due to a nasty throat infection. It was disappointing, but understandable, and at least I got to laugh at Goldie Looking Chain. James had never managed to get it across to me just how funny they actually are, I was very amused. So instead of watching Feeder, Dad and I wandered off, grabbed a pizza and drank cocktails until the early hours, discussing a multitude of things including religion and pulled muscles.

I woke on Saturday morning feeling remarkably well considering, made breakfast, drank coffee and then spent the rest of the day relaxing. It was fabulous. I did much the same on Sunday too. After the past couple of months, having an entire weekend to myself with nothing planned seemed too good to be true. I watched films, read books, read papers, had baths, made soups, stroked cats, took naps and generally spent a lot of time doing not much at all.

I still have four presents to buy, Christmas cards to get and send and a couple of other things to do, but they can wait. Having a peaceful weekend left me feeling rested and rejuvinated and was worth every blissful minute.

Friday, December 02, 2005

finishing stretch

Only one more week of term left, and I'm exhausted and aching and can't wait for it all to be over. We've been busy this week and next week looks like its going to be busier, but we're coping well and received a round of applause at a recent meeting for all our efforts. This would have cheered me more, if I hadn't have pulled my hamstrings badly in an effort to get fitter. I'm coming to the conclusion that exercise isn't necessarily good for you, having spent the last two days hobbling along in agony. Not clever.

Last night I forgot the pain, sat on the sofa with a blanket, a curry, a bottle of red wine and Katharine to gossip and giggle. It was a lovely evening, with Katharine praising my Christmas Tree and only spilling one glass of wine.

This evening I'm off to see Feeder. I suspect I may need more coffee first.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

real air guitar?

Computer scientists in Finland have created the Virtual Air Guitar Project, which adds guitar sounds to the strumming of the air guitarist! I suspect Air Guitar Competitions may get somewhat louder in the future!

Monday, November 28, 2005

shopped out

On Saturday I braved the hoardes and took on Ikea and Bluewater to do my Christmas shopping. Ikea was a breeze but by the time we got to Bluewater the car park was heaving, Carluccio's had a queue the length of a bus and I was dying of thirst. Mum and I struggled on, stocking up on funky wrapping papers and heading out into the throngs to work our way down my list. Yes, I had planned ahead, I had a list. It was surprisingly helpful as it meant that I already knew which shops I needed and so just had to find them.

We managed to stop for lunch at 3:00ish, which having made the mistake of having no breakfast, could not come soon enough. A delicious porcini lasagna and a glass of red later, and I was dashing around, picking up the final presents and finding some fabulous party poppers and indoor sparklers in The White Company.

We drove home in the dark, ranting about the inability of people to drive in the correct lane on the motorway, amongst various other bug-bears, and was back in time for dinner. Then I dashed out to meet Sam, Donovan and others to celebrate Sam's birthday at Saqqara. Unfortunately by this time I was starting to flag and by 11pm I was having difficulty keeping my eyes open and so went home to bed, to sleep. Bliss.

Yesterday was wrapping day. The cats were asleep so it was the perfect time to get out the ribbon. By lunch time I was surrounded by neatly wrapped presents with bows, gems and name cards. So far I'm feeling fabulously organised & tonight I get down the tree ready for Thursday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

mmmmmm Porsches

It would seem that some German Police have been given Porsches to help chase our bad-boy-racers. It's certainly one incentive to help boost recruitment! However, I don't think even a Porsche would convince me to join the police. It could work on my brother though!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I'm not a big fan of days with little work, (obviously this excludes holidays, weekends and all those other times when I can ligitimately fill my time with reading books, etc) being at work and being bored makes the day drag horribly.

I've planned all the work that the office has to do for the next six weeks, which leaves me feeling especially organised, and just a little sad. I mean, it's my job to be organised but six weeks seems excessive. I wonder if people will look at me strangely when I start telling them what they will be doing in January.

This completed, I went back to planning something nearer to home. After the success of last nights parsnip and blue cheese soup, I've been thinking about food and dinner specifically. Why is it that my brain, when faced with hours of emptiness, always ends up coming around to food?

Friday, November 18, 2005

the kingfisher

I have finally found The Kingfisher poem that has been running around the back of my head for the past few weeks. It wasn't a Walter De La Mare poem at all, but W H Davies. I remember reading it as a child but for no apparent reason it popped into my head and has been floating around ever since.

Glad I found it at last! Now I just need to track down that John Donne book.

The Kingfisher

IT was the Rainbow gave thee birth,
And left thee all her lovely hues;
And, as her mother's name was Tears,
So runs it in my blood to choose
For haunts the lonely pools, and keep
In company with trees that weep.

Go you and, with such glorious hues,
Live with proud peacocks in green parks;
On lawns as smooth as shining glass,
Let every feather show its marks;
Get thee on boughs and clap thy wings
Before the windows of proud kings.

Nay, lovely Bird, thou art not vain;
Thou hast no proud, ambitious mind;
I also love a quiet place
That's green, away from all mankind;
A lonely pool, and let a tree
Sigh with her bosom over me.

W.H. Davies

Thursday, November 17, 2005

things i wish i had today

  • Bratwurst with rösti
  • My book of John Donne poetry (which mysteriously went missing two weeks ago)
  • A hammock
  • A bigger jumper
  • Fingerless gloves (pointless, but I still love them)


This morning I had to de-frost my car. It's the first time I've had to de-frost this particular car, having bought it after the weather started to warm in March. Although the car is lovely, the de-frosting has not become lovelier, it is still much the same as de-frosting any car, which is a pity.

There was also a frost on the grass as I drove up to the University. Beautiful little prickles of white grass and people wrapped in scarves with gloves and coats tightly done up. It's reassuring that the weather is finally getting colder, I had visions that we'd be having Christmas in t-shirts and shorts. There's nothing quite like a cold, clear Christmas morning, with the promise of mountains of food, wine and presents to make you feel all warm and snug inside. This year, for the first time in two years, I will not have to cook the Christmas Dinner, so I'm crossing my fingers for a clear bright morning to enjoy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


I hate being ill. I hate the aching joints, the chesty cough, the sore and swollen throat and streaming eyes. I hate feeling as if my head is full of dense matter, and that my brain has completely disappeared. I hate the cold feeling, despite being wrapped up in many layers, under a duvet and with the heating on. I hate it when the cat sits on your knee and becomes the most uncomfortable thing in the world. I hate the not sleeping, not wanting to eat and the endless tissues.

Fortunately I feel better now. No more tissues, duvets, unhappy cats or dense brains for me!

I love being well!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

rampant villagers

I was somewhat entertained this morning whilst reading The Argus. It would seem that the village I was born in, Scaynes Hill, is having issues with swingers and a fetish club.

"Nudist days, spanking evenings, fetish swingers parties and pole dancing have all been promised by Club Liberty, the new management, much to the dismay of neighbours in the heart of conservative rural Sussex."

As one villager pointed out, you don't really expect a fetish club in a small West Sussex village. Things have changed since my day!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Today I'm mostly feeling nervous but excited. Heehee, shake.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

golden leaves

I'm missing the countryside again. I suspect the leaves are not helping. When I parked the car this morning, it was parked into a pile of lovely thick golden leaves. I put on my coat and scarf and had a sudden desire to grab my wellies from the back of the car, pull them on and kick all the leaves around. Unfortunately I quelled this desire, slung my bag over my shoulder, and climbed up the steps to my office. In hindsight it was the wrong decision, at 8:00am the car park is pretty much empty and so I wouldn't have embarassed myself too much.

The beginning of this week has been lovely and quiet. Now we are over half way through term, I can expect the work to quicken, and it will do as the week goes on. But I enjoyed a relaxed Sunday reading PD James, and a Monday evening cooking chicken casserole and playing with the cats.

On Friday I've booked myself another massage. It is turning into a regular weekly appointment now and has done my back a world of good. As I leave, I feel the whole world has been lifted, each muscle stretched slightly and then relaxed, falling back into place and not tensing. On Friday I was treated to some Reiki, a little unnerving at first, but by the end of it I could feel myself pulsing with energy.

On Saturday I'm having my hair cut again. I've now got used to having it that bit shorter, and that much curlier, and am looking forward to an hours worth of pampering. I've then got to make a start on the Christmas presents, before heading out to Ben's 30th Birthday Party in the evening. I promise to try not to point and giggle, after all, thirty isn't that far off for me.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

lewes bonfire

Lewes was great fun this year. For once I was able to see all the processions that came down the High Streeet, without being trampled on and squished in the crowds! Cliffe had canon which blew rookies out down the street, there was a fabulous German band who had joined in Commercial Square's procession and the costumes were beautiful as always.

Instead of going to Waterloo we went to Commercial Square, who were celebrating their 150th year. The fireworks were beautiful and although my neck had started to ache by the end of it, the rain held off and it was surprisingly warm for the whole evening.

Friday, November 04, 2005

birthday one

Happy Birthday to Rachel! Katharine and I will be cooking a delicious dinner tonight to celebrate Rachel's birthday as I can't make her party tomorrow due to the Lewes Bonfire Night.

I'm really looking forward to it. I haven't made it to Lewes in years, mostly because getting back on the trains is such a nightmare, but I have always loved the it. I used to live in Lewes until I was about 7, and even got my photo on the front page of the Sussex Express one year when I tagged along to a procession dressed as Little Bo Beep, complete with cuddly goat under my arm. Very sweet. However, I suspect that whichever Society I hopped along with were rather unimpressed!

This year I shall be camping out in my Dad's office, with the perfect view over the High Street for the processions, so hopefully will keep dry for some of the time.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Friday was a good day. I had a calm day at work, followed by a massage which made my back feel like I'd never used a mouse or keyboard before, and then Pete and I had a delicious steak at Browns before watching the Corpse Bride. It was a good film, the undead characters were, ironically, fantastically alive and the animation was beautiful. I was surprised to see that they've opened a bar at the Odeon, which was unsurprisingly empty as it lacked any atmosphere at all. Unfortunately you arn't allowed to take your alcoholic drinks out of the bar, which seemed a bit unfair especially as fizzy drinks must make just as much mess if spilt. It looks like the Duke of York's is still the only cinema where you can enjoy a pint whilst you watch a film.

We finished off the evening with delicious cocktails at Valentino's. I do love that bar, the staff are friendly and reassuringly careful about keeping up the relaxed atmosphere. One group were removed quietly for taking certain substances in the toilets, I suspect all three of them going in at once was ever so slightly suspicious! It's a small place but the atmosphere is great, so it's always a pleasure to sit there and its nice that it has a later license, so you don't feel you have to leave early or go out clubbing or onto a louder bar.

All in all, it was a lovely evening, so Pete and I decided we'd have to do it again next month.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

elephants can remember

New research shows that elephants may pay homage to their dead. I've always wondered about the fascination elephants have with bones and ivory, and this certainly explains more about it. I didn't realise though, that elephant graveyards were a myth. You learn something new every day!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

the joys of helpfulness

I did manage to get the majority of my present shopping done on Saturday. I took a leisurely wander around the Lanes, which was surprisingly empty for the weekend, looking through windows and choosing presents and finding the whole shopping experience remarkably relaxing.

Normally I hate shopping and try to do it as quickly and efficiently as I possibly can, I hate the endless traipsing around, fighting to get clothes back on hangers and generally getting frustrated. This trip was different, and I suspect the cause was quite simple really. At the first shop I went into,
Crabtree & Evelyn, the shop assistant came up to me and asked me if I'd like some help. It was a good start, I find shop assistants normally stand around talking to each other, before whipping away your credit card, taking your money and handing you back your new purchase without even meeting your eye. Not in this shop.

She then proceeded to take me around the shop, talking me through every variation of the things I was interested in, opening jars, wafting scents under my nose and generally answering my every point and "what about that one?". This left me feeling that, not only had I managed to choose a present, but also that I'd taken an informed look at virtually everything in the shop without having to even think. Amazing!

Whilst she took my new purchases to gift wrap then for me, Shop Assistant Number Two, came along and asked if I'd like to have my hands pampered whilst I waited. Of course! So there I stand, being exfoliated and hand creamed up, all ready for my lovely little blue bag of presents. Out I went into the sunshine, feeling as if shopping were, for once, something relaxing and enjoyable.

Thank you Shop Assistants, you made my day!

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Today I have to go present & card shopping for:

Two grans
Two cousins
One aunt
Couple of friends

And nothing for me. November is an overloaded month for presents, I think.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

battle of the cheeses

It would seem that Wensleydale and Stinking Bishop are fighting over Wallace & Gromit's support. Yay for cheese fights!

And Happy Belated Birthday to Rich.

November promises to be a month of many birthdays, so I'm hoping that my record of getting cards to people on time improves.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

sunday lunch

This afternoon I went for Sunday lunch with Lyndsey, Jim, Giles and Keith (who was surprisingly quiet). Lyndsey's new sofa arrived this week, and it's lush! The purple sofa of softiness, that I can imagine I will spend many a comfy evening sitting on, with my legs sticking out at 90 degrees, my feet unable to touch the floor. Mmmm, nice.

Lunch was good. We went to the Druids on Ditchling Road, and drank Magners Irish Cider. Tasty stuff. I haven't had cider for a long time, but was pleasantly surprised. We planned a trip to the newly refurbished De La Warr pavilion in Bexhill, which looks like it has been done very nicely. Lyndsey and I both love Art Deco, so it'll be really interesting to see.

Typically, as soon as we got to the last inch of cider, the rain started. Yuck. Still at least the DIY has stopped!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

rabbit caught

Last night Mum & Dad came over for dinner before we went into town to see Wallace & Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit. It was faboulously fun, and had Mum laughing almost continuously aided by the chap in the row behind. I'm not sure whether the Americans will understand a number of the multitude of "in-jokes" but there was certainly enough to generate laughs for everyone.

After the film we went to my favourite cocktail bar of the moment on New Road. They make a mean Pavillion Royale (which made me feel very James Bond!) and which I only managed to spill one of. Unfortunately I got a little carried away with the gesticulating and managed to overturn my second one. Of course, I blame the table, it had nothing to do with the quantity of alchol at all!

In view of all that, today has been quiet and restful whilst I recover, well except for the many home improvement noises coming from various houses along the street. Obviously today is a day for DIY. My poor head!