Thursday, 31 January 2013

Day 31 - Limey


31st January 2013

So, as the first month of photo-ing draws to a close I am preparing for another party. Yes I am that rock and/or roll.

It is no New Year's Eve, but it may turn out incredibly similar. The people who have said they are going to come is embarassingly small and chances are at some point tomorrow the Just Dance will make an appearance. I'm looking forward to it, always relish the opportunity to bust out some 'Let's go to the mall!'.

Samanatha and I headed to Asda this evening for some supplies, as we had decided we wanted cocktails and jellies to be involved. The cocktails are going to be beautiful, wonderful things, and I have high hopes for the jellies. They have Amaretto in them, and those of you acquainted with me will know that I'm having a bit of a love affair with that particular substance of late.

So we headed to the shops, and now we are the proud owners of 14 wine glasses. Previously we were the owners of three completely different sized glasses. This is annoying when sharing wine. Now the fights can cease (no refunds). We bought exciting things other than wine glasses, though there came a point when I thought I might have to put blinkers on my co-shopper. I was hearing squeals of excitement far too regularly and keeping her on track was harder than doing the same for the trolley.

We made it out and back to the flat alive, and I promptly started hulling limes. Is hulling the right word? I made the insides be outsides. They're now in a bowl in the fridge and I'm not sure for what, but there is definitely going to be some practical use for the innards of 6 limes.

If these turn out as pretty as I hope they will there is every chance you'll see a photo tomorrow. There is still a Friday's worth of work to get through before then. Bedtime I think.

Goodnight all,

Stephie
xxx

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Day 30 - Life of Pi


30th January 2013

Today, Samantha and I took advantage of Orange Wednesdays to go and see Life of Pi. No, not a documentary on Ruthie (ho ho, lil family in-joke there), the book of the film. In 3D no less. If you don't know the story then I guess a "spoiler alert" should be inserted here.

Now I loved the book. I'd got it for a birthday years before I read it, but when I did I adored it. As is usual whenever a film adaptation of a book I enjoy comes out, I approached with some trepidation. Would they make it awful? Harry Potter is a set of books I love and adore and the films trashed it. I also loved the Narnia Chronicles and loved the films because they completely put my imagination up on screen. Which way would this go? Hmm.

Well, I'm not sure. Not because of any feelings towards the film itself, but because I wasn't looking at a lot of it. You see, I'd forgotten quite how much of the story is set on the sea. Yeah yeah, I know, but you do. I also forgot all the mentions of sharks. Problem here is that I have kind of a thing about the sea and sharks.

I know the idea of open water and sharks doesn't really appeal to most people. I just really really hate it. I'm not sure where my fear of these things came from, because I've never seen Jaws. But I really seriously can freak out if the situations are right. I don't go in the sea above my knees because something can definitely swim in that gap and take me down. Watching things on tv which include sharks makes my legs tingle and I have to sit on them.

Watching this film, seeing him dangle his legs in the water, sitting on the raft on it...especially diving into it...was sending me nuts. I was flinching constantly, my legs felt like jelly because I couldn't cross them underneath me. I was entirely uncomfortable the whole time he was on the water, my eyes were screwed shut trying to pretend I wasn't there the majority of the time....the glasses made it all the more difficult because I couldn't just hold my face in my hands.

I'm pretty sure it was a brilliant film. I'm certain you'd enjoy that if you have a healthy relationship with the sea. Just sent me into a mini meltdown.

So that was the film. After that I decided I needed Sacred, to ease my suffering. Sacred is a coffee shop in Westfield that I used to frequent when I worked in the centre. The first time I had a vanilla latte (my drink of choice) from there I had a sip in a rush then stopped still and looked at the cup in awe. It's amazing. Now that I don't pass a coffee shop on the way to or from work I will allow myself one when I do, and I hate passing Sacred without getting my drink on.

Being late I got a decaf version. Samantha got a hot chocolate. That's just how we roll. As we collected her drinks I said "I think I might take a picture of Vue for my photo today". I walked away from the counter to find a spot to take a picture...turned back and she was still there. I returned and she said "Do I stay here?" Slightly bewildered, I said no and walked back to a table I was going to put my things. We got there and she said "shall I sit down?" Again, I was confused and said "....if you want?" and turned and started to take a picture of the Vue sign, only to hear her behind me say "Oh, I've just realised something hilarious." Turns out the whole time she was under the impression I'd said "I think I might take a picture of you for my photo today" and was there feeling all flattered and just as confused by my behaviour as I was hers. She is maintaining I was giving her mixed signals.

After coming close to wetting myself, I said she should go up on the balcony so I could include the two - and this is a photo of her walking towards the escalator. The photos with the Vue sign weren't so good. Waste of a walk all that way Ms. Flood. I enjoyed it though, I was still cackling away to myself, and looking like a mentalist is always great fun.

Till tomorrow,

Stephie

xxx


Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Day 29 - Sick


January 29th 2013

Today I am not well. Not as a result of chocolate eggs, just not well. I am in bed in my lovely fluffy dressing gown with my snuggly owl hot water bottle.

Being unwell as a grown up is horrible. As well as having to make the decision that you are actually not able to carry out your job if you go to work, there is conveying that to the people at work who need to know and feeling guilty for the whole day that maybe you could have powered through.

My Nana lived with us for my whole life until she passed away. I loved it so much, I was an unbelievably lucky child to be able to be that close to her, to see her every day. I had her to take care of me when I was ill and there are things that I will always associate with feeling ill and then better because of her.

One would be lying in bed and hearing her on the stairs. Our house has a wooden frame, so the stairs creak a lot. She was fairly slow moving, so I'd hear her from the bottom stair. There was no discouraging her though, Nana never liked to acknowledge her limits. This included deciding she didn't need a hearing aid, even if we did have to shout "WOULD YOU LIKE A COFFEE??" three times before she understood. Once she'd made it to the top, to my room, she'd always have marmite on toast for me. Sometimes some hot milk, which I adore, sometimes some juice or water, but always marmite on toast. Once my love affair with tea started that would enter the equation, and when that happened I remember making the decision to stay on the sofa downstairs.

Now...no one can do that for me. Yes, I do have lovely flatmates who will offer me tea even if I'm not ill. But neither of them stroke my hair and give me a cuddle. Can't get the staff these days quite frankly.

I will be better tomorrow. But for now, I must make myself some toast and tea and pretend I can hear the stairs at Pogles creaking.

Stephie

xxx

Day 28 - Egg


28th January 2013

After an incredibly long, incredibly tiring day, I was ready to sit in bed and relax. Unfortunately for me, I was out of all food and so tonight had to be the food shop. We've taken to going later at night to Asda these days, it's quieter and just nicer. No big queues. I sent the message round to see which of the housemates were in, and received the reply from Lynsey that she was oot. 

Samantha had something to get home from work which might have been ruined by the rain, so I drove to Notting Hill to pick her and her cargo up. Annoyingly, there was a diversion as Shepherd's Bush Green is closed for gas works. More annoyingly, as I reached the end of the diversion I realised I could have continued on my intended route without any disruption. Grumble. 

The cargo was collected and we shopped. As a result of our tendency to split up while we shop we now have two bags of huge marshmallows and three jars of fudge hot chocolate. We got other real food, but the fun stuff is the most exciting. Though Ms. Flood's treat for one she gets in from shopping (you know we all have one, usually chocolate for me) is sprouts. Seriously. She's an alien, not even grown ups do that. 

Mine was a weird egg thing clearly brought out for Easter. There's a little spoon to eat the inside. Delicious. I'm sure there will be plenty more appearing soon and I intend to eat them all.

Stephie
xxx

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Day 27 - Bathtime


27th January 2013

It's Sunday, and that means it's time for a bath. It's not quite the same as it was. For one, there was no pre-bath hardboiledeggchoppedupinabowl (one word), no Michael Palin viewing, I didn't pour so many toys in with me that the water rattled, or pretend to be a puppy when I got out.

Now baths are a much more relaxing affair...I had bubbles, candles, tea, kindle and a cupcake. I was shattered today after expending all my energy wandering around town with Gemma and and further diminishing any reserves I had by popping into town to try and find costume constituents. Who'da thunk it would be so difficult to get a red skirt. What costume? Wait and see. Potentially. If I find a red skirt. Dismissing the red skirt issue, I was so exhausted a shower would just not suffice. It had to be a long, hot bath.

I've missed baths. When I was younger Mum and Dad replaced the bath and shower with just a shower. Don't get me wrong, it's a damn good shower, complicated to work as all good showers are. But a shower's just no bath is it? Eventually they put a little jacuzzi bath back in, which is good, but I'm kinda long. Then at uni there was no bath. Again, I was incredibly lucky to have an en suite my whole way through, but still...it's just not the same. Can't relax in a shower with the lights off really. More scary.

Once I moved to London I had the dream. To look at our bathroom it doesn't seem much. In fact at the moment it looks bad. I walked past the loo seat earlier and banged it with my knee. One of the hinges came off. Now going to the toilet involves gripping the seat before sitting down if you wish to stay sat on the lavatory. But, despite this and the tiles falling off the wall and broken toilet roll holder and light that sometimes needs a bit more encouragement to turn on...the shower is brilliant and there is a bath. A lovely bath.

Today I did the 'grown up' thing and had my tea (decaf, I'm not that wild), candles, and book. Maybe soon I'll get some Alphabet letters and a Rub-a-Dub Doggie and eat some hardboiledeggchoppedupinabowl...I'll let you know how the flatmates react when I start pretending to be a puppy.

Stephie

xxx

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Day 26 - London Meander


26th January 2013

Gemma is a friend from secondary school, a lovely SJFer. I don't remember exactly first meeting her, but it was from about year 10 that we were good friends, and luckily for me that's lasted until at least today. She still seemed pretty happy to see me, so that's a good sign.

A few times since I moved to London and she to Orpington we've met up for some coffee, cake, and chat. Our regular haunt was a small park in Soho after grabbing cakes from Hummingbird Bakery. Now I love Hummingbird, and Red Velvet Whoopie Pies make my life very happy, but we thought we needed to widen our horizons somewhat. I tried researching somewhere interesting to go, but my brain never seemed to engage and it didn't quite work. We met in Piccadilly and wandered down through Leicester Square and Convent Garden.

Our first stop was La Duree, we waited momentarily in the longish queue and decided to go elsewhere and maybe come back for some Macaroons later on. Spoiler alert - we didn't.

We moved on, had a quick wander and settled on Pain Quotidien. The wait was long and the queuing system distressed me greatly, but eventually we were sat down and enjoying a Warm Belgian Waffle. Director's commentary - The joke here is that it was not warm. There were a pots of tea that were a bit on the stingy side in my opinion...you know how I love me some tea, and two small bowlfuls (yup) were not enough.

We had a further meander down to the river and along to a pub I now find myself frequenting, Doggetts on South Bank. It's nice enough, good Boar and Chorizo burger. I resisted today, but only by the narrowest of margins. A bottle of wine was shared and laughs had, before a wander back along the river and a cheeky Maccy D's brought on by the need for a wee. Serendipity? No. Not even at all.

Now I'm back home in the warm and I've had an entirely pleasant Saturday. Well done me.

Stephie

xxx

Day 25 - Ready Brek


January 25th 2013

"This week, I have been mostly eating...porridge"

It's that time of the month. The part where there's no money and payday feels infinitely far away, even though in reality it's mere hours. The time where you stop buying food and instead start getting out the stuff you got for when you were poor, only to decide you don't want that, you want breakfast foods.

So I've been making headway into the Ready Brek I bought awhile ago in a fit of nostalgia and ate a bowl of before getting bored and forgetting about it. It's not been bad. Not great. Yesterday's curry at Zuzi's certainly didn't help with today's meal.

I felt tonight it might be slightly (sliiiightly) more appropriate, it being Burns Night and my half Scottish genes. It might have just been pouring milk on some oats and whacking it in the microwave for 3 minutes, and my spoon was definitely no spurtle, but it was enjoyable. There was no address to my porridge, unless gasps of pain from prematurely grabbing the cooling bowl count as an address. 

I don't think it does.

Stephie

xxx

Day 24 - Smores


26th January 2013

Now that Zuzi, Bex and I are all in London we've been trying to make sure that we don't fall into never seeing each other because it's so easy. So now we're taking turns and cooking each other meals every week or so.

I'm loving it. There's good food, nice wine and some standard friends. Alright, pretty ok I guess friends. This week's delightful dinner was a delicious butternut squash curry followed by some wonderful haagen daz and smores. Well, an english approximation of smores. Flumps and chocolate digestives. The flumps were lovingly toasted by Zuzi on a real and genuine open fire.

I met these two at uni, we were all put in our little flat together. They are just the brilliantest. I have so many utterly fantastic memories of these two. One of my favourites is a night where we sang Elephant Love Medley, jumping from chair to chair in the flat every time the singer changed. This was always our song of choice as we discovered it was the only one we all definitely knew all the words to. It might still be the case. After the singing stopped someone (maybe me) suggested we trying and spin for an entire song and see how dizzy we got. It was fairly dizzy. As soon as I stopped I ran straight into a wall, Zuzi did something to herself that required deep heat across her back the next day....which is a story for another time I think.

They are adorable and hilarious and lovely and I love them with my heart. Extra lots. Three hours of tube journey lots. The journey to Leytonstone takes an hour from Ealing...only one tube, but a bloody long tube. On Thursday there were signal failures and terminating tubes and stopping and starting making my journey an extra hour longer. Blah. I was SO ready for my glass of wine by the time I arrived. Didn't ever think of just going home though, these two are too special.

xxx

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Day 23 - Tired



23rd January 2013

I was feeling incredibly uninspired today. Nothing really happened, it was a standard day. I had to bake a load of gingerbread men for work, but I've subjected you to gingerbread already so that was out the window. I walked into my room, preparing myself to post you the picture of my toes I'm sure you're all eagerly waiting for. Then I saw my bed, and it called to me. 

Man alive, today I am tired. Is it just me, or is everyone feeling like this week is dragging its heels? I can't believe tomorrow will still only be Thursday, I'm looking forward to a long sleep in a big way. Maybe it's because its payday on Saturday, and life always slows right before then...I am definitely ready to have some money again, and the best way to celebrate that fact is with sleep.

I love sleep. I know everyone does, but I can really lie in like a pro if I am able to. My room in the flat has a blackout blind that I never close during the week - I'd never wake up properly otherwise. It's a weekend treat, to sleep as long as I want with the blackout blind blocking out any evidence of the so-called 'sun'.

Sleep will always win. I rarely have morning showers, as I know when I wake up and am faced with the choice between staying in bed 10 minutes longer or go and be cold and have to dry my hair. Effort. I have always prided myself on getting up when I needed to though; I wasn't a teenager Mum and Dad had to steal the duvet from on school mornings. I'd hate the fact I had to get up, but the option is being late and boy oh boy do I ever hate being late.

So now it's time for me to sink myself into those lovely pillows you see in the photo today. I'm quite excited.

Fais de beaux rêves!

Stephie 

xxx

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Day 22 - Tea


January 22nd 2013

Tea. What a beautiful word. What a beautiful thing. What is this life, if full of care, we have no time to drink some tea? Tea is everyone's first thought if something terrible happens. If you are the unfortunate one in trouble you feel a mug of tea being pressed into your hands before almost anything else. If you are the friend who watching a loved one in distress no words to comfort or help come to the fore, all you want is for this person to be happy again and the first thing you can do to set them on that path is give them a cup of tea. Tea is everyone's first thought when someone arrives at the house after a journey. One person comes in through the door gasping for air and lugging innumerable bags, the other squeals, hugs them. The bags are put down and tea is offered, there is a sigh and a "Yes! Tea!" before the coat comes off or they are more than two metres over the threshold.

I absolutely love tea. I remember my Nana teaching me how to make a cup of tea when I was in primary school. She wasn't a tea drinker, she drank coffee all the time...not sure I ever remember seeing her drink a cup of tea. I felt so grown up, not only was I allowed to drink tea, but I was allowed to make my own cup of it! I say cup, everyone knows tea needs to be in a mug.

Thinking about it, I believe my first foray into serious tea drinking would have been in sixth form. We had a common room which contained a kettle and fridge, tea was naturally going to enter the equation. I took the step into pretty serious tea drinking at uni. That's where tea making skills are honed...everyone knows you can't just leave the room and go make yourself a cup of tea. If you're going out there, if you're boiling a kettle, then you are honour bound to offer everyone in the room a cuppa. Even if the level of milk left means you have to use a pipette. Well, to do otherwise just wouldn't be cricket now, would it?

There was a brief time at uni where we all became obsessed by Earl Grey. Now don't get me wrong, I am extremely partial to a spot of Earl Grey from time to time, but in general life I'm a bog standard English Breakfast PG tips girl. But there was a time where someone would make the offer "Tea?" and naturally, everyone would respond in the affirmative. They would then offer "Earl Grey?" and it was like they might as well not have bothered. If Earl Grey was to be had, had it would have to be. Now, I tend to keep it as a treat for when I'm feeling absolutely mental.

A firm favourite memory of tea is watching Nicola (different Nicola, notice the lack of 'h' in there, keep up) supervise Bex in her tea making procedure. We were determined to figure out why she made such a bad cup of tea, but it seemed there was no rhyme nor reason to it. She did exactly as we did, but it was just bad. She's much better now, maybe she was just trying to get out of making tea for seven as it would have been then.

When I first started emailing Nich about the flat one of the first questions she asked me was about my tea preference, and I'm pretty sure that's why we bonded. It was possibly the first question she posed upon opening the door to me, and it's almost definitely the most common one in all our conversations. I love sharing a cup of tea with the missus, and am very excited about doing so in France, just to stick it to em.

I'll admit, I had a bit of a tea dry spell last year, but I'm over it now. I've really got back in the swing of things. I think part of the problem is that I don't generally get time for a proper cup of tea whilst at work. I'm either gulping down tea hotter than the sun or realising with a sad sinking feeling that I've left two thirds of a cup of the side because I made it slightly too late. But today was a good day. Today I had six cups. Five regular, one decaf. The last one was the best of the day, not because of its lack of buzz, but because it was consumed in the bath, with all the bubbles, two Lindor and a book.

In conclusion, and yes this is an essay, if you want to get on my good side offer me tea. I am fairly likely to react with the standard sigh of satisfaction. I'm trying not to go and get another one as we speak. But, if you're going...milk, no sugar. Ta.

Stephie

xxx

Monday, 21 January 2013

Day 21 - Neverending Story


January 21st 2013

All together - aaha, aaha, aahaa....

I love The NeverEnding Story. It's not a film I watch a lot or even know particularly well. I love it, because it reminds me that my wonderful Daddy used to read it to me before I went to bed.

Who doesn't love being read to? It's just so relaxing. I spend an awful lot of time reading stories these days and it's brilliant. I've honed my Gruffalo voices to perfection, and my How To Grow A Dinosaur is something to behold. Problem is, it's very comfortable in the book corner and I often feel like I'm reading myself the story and have to fight sleep. I'm just too comforting it would appear.

Dad read me some wonderful stories, but only two stick in my head. NeverEnding Story...I have a really clear snapshot memory of looking at him sat next to my bed and seeing the cover, all worn from having been read so many times to two previous children as well. The other is really a set of stories. Ramona Quimby. Oh man, Ramona. Dad had read it to Jen as well, when we saw it had become a film a year or two ago we were determined Dad would have to take us, but I'm not convinced I ever saw it at released at the cinema. Jen, I'm getting the DVD, Dad, you have to watch it whether you like it or not. It is because of Ramona that I will always half believe the words are "Oh, say can you see...by the Dawnzer Lee light?" and smash hard boiled eggs on my head and, at least for a moment, stick a banana sticker on my forehead.

Mum used to tell me stories about Grimble. Grimble was actually the nickname for one of her college friends, but in this instance was used to tell the tale of a young girl remarkably like me. It was such a coincidence, she'd always had a day almost identical to mine. Funny how mums always know a story that you can relate to, isn't it? I loved hearing about Grimble. I'm not sure I ever noticed that her day resembled mine, it was always just too exciting and lovely.

My brother, Stu, is ten years older than me. Teeheehee, it'll never not be funny. The reason I bring it up (this time) is that he was also part of my bedtime routine. Not so much in stories, but he would say goodnight and then walk out of my room and pretend to fall down the stairs whilst I screamed with laughter. At least I think it was pretend. If not, apparently he can withstand cartoon like injuries and come back fresh as a daisy the next morning. Either way, at the time it was hilarious. I think I'd probably find it less funny now. Probably slightly more concerning. But who knows, someone want to come over and pretend (or not) to fall down my stairs and see if it amuses me off to sleep?

That's the end of the story tonight kids, love you lots, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite, and if they do, bite them back! Sweet dreams in the land of nodulups....

Stephanopolous Chips Chops Charlie

xxxxx

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Day 20 - Ralph





January 20th 2013

I know I said I'd try not to do any snowy pictures, but come on. Seriously. Now you've learnt the cold, harsh truth about me. Sometimes I take snowy pictures.

Yesterday I thought about going for a walk in central, but upon checking the tubes this morning and seeing all the closures I decided the universe did not want me to go venture too far today. I had almost resolved to have another relaxing day on the sofa, then I thought...no, the child in me would hate me for not going out in the snow at all. So I sent the following text to Lynsey and Samantha.

"Right, girls, we need to make a snowman. It's now or never. Get up, in comfy clothes, we'll heat up with something warming and eat some toast. Then we'll wrap up, go to the common, snowman all over the place, come back via a coffee shop for something else warming and pick up some loo roll. We return to the house, cook something from the freezer and settles down in the front room for sex and the city. Aaannnnnndd BREAK!"

I waited about 30 seconds, then got up and shouted "Check your phones!" Samantha appeared and said she was in. I then banged on Lynsey's door and was promptly reminded that she was out. Oh. We hot chocolated and toasted up, wrapped up, and headed out. Samantha promptly threw a snowball at me and realised she'd forgotten her scarf, so we returned...as I waited outside for her I was ambushed by Lynsey, who I decided had to pay and soon. She went upstairs to dump some stuff and we lay in wait. After a short but amusing snowball fight we headed to the common and started our snowman, and were soon joined by Tom who obviously initiated a further snowball confrontation.

With his help, we built Ralph. He was brilliant, he was tall, he was ginger. We wanted him to have a pipe but there wasn't a stick shaped like that. We left him, happy, and headed off to a coffee shop. As we explored some further snow men (and a snow cat) we turned around to see Ralph, only to discover he had been destroyed already. What a sad day. He was so young and beautiful.

Our coffee was yummy, our walk back was snowy and now we are watching Sex and the City in pyjamas. All in all, good day. Keep those fingers crossed for a snow day people!

Stephie

xxx
Obligatory myspace photo
This is apparently my photo pose.
Ralph and his happy not-so-nuclear family


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Day 19 - Duvet Day


19th January 2013

Today has been completely unproductive. Brilliant.

Yesterday I entertained thoughts of going for a walk and enjoying the snow, but I decided that actually it's really rather cold and I don't want to do that. I moved my duvet into the front room, made myself some tea and some toast and settled down for some dvd watching.

First on the list was the final disc of Season 1 of Community. It's brilliant. My lovely sister Jen and family got it for me Christmas after some exceptional undercover work on her part - "Have you ever watched Community?" "No, but I really want to, everyone keeps telling me I'll love it" Boom. Excellent stuff Jen. After finishing I was straight online to see how much season 2 is, but it's still slightly too much, especially pre pay day.

After this what I really fancied watching was When Harry Met Sally. When Nich was back last week she brought back almost all of her dvds. Almost all. Yesterday, during a 2 hour 45 minute Skype hang out (literally, we sat and drank wine and did our own thing but just happened to be on Skype) she showed me that that was one of the few dvds she had held back for herself. Selfishness, that's what it is. Selfishness.

So, thus thwarted, I settled on restarting Sex and the City. Nich and I had watched the first episode last week on one of the two evenings we had in the flat, so it seemed only right to continue that series. I finished season 1 and half of season 2. It made me want cocktails in martini glasses and think that the clothes they were wearing were making me feel cold.

My kindle made an appearance today as well, current read is Jon Richardson It's Not Me, It's You! I'm enjoying it. Loving the kindle, only problem is that I now have far too many books I want to read and no patience. First World Problem eh?

Last night, via Twitter, I discovered that Shappi Khorsandi lived in my building as a young person. Her dad, Hadi Khorsandi, ran his satirical magazine from here. You should go and read about him now, he's an incredibly interesting person. I've just had Have I Got News For You on in the background, and having read about everything that happened to their family as a result of his satire on Iran makes me view it in a whole different "counting my blessings" sort of light. This, I suppose, could have been counted as a productive/worthwhile part of my day. Maybe I failed myself a bit.

It's been a good day. This sofa is where I spent it almost entirely, displaying my preferred yellow side or the duvet. I am pretty content when I have said duvet, laptop and something on tv - particularly something I know fairly well. The days I have spent on that sofa watching How I Met Your Mother...happy memories. My only quibble is that I had to get up to make my tea and toast. This was rectified soon after Lynsey returned home and made me a sausage sandwich, yay!

Maybe tomorrow I will go for a wander. I had plans with a Medwayite, Gemma, but there is snow forecast for tomorrow that is likely to scupper those plans. We decided to pre-scupper them so that we'd have the upper hand on the weather, but I'm fancying a walk and a coffee and a read, and maybe a use of my beautiful Christmas present bag! That's enough to make up my mind for me. Done. Wonder where I'll go...intriguing.

G'night all,

Stephie

xxx

Friday, 18 January 2013

Day 18 - Wellies


January 18th 2013

As if today's post would be about anything other than snow. 

Woke up this morning, wrapped myself up ready for the day, considered driving in, trashed that idea cause I'd had to drive in the snow on the way back, wrapped up further and set off. It wasn't snowy then, but it was unbelievably cold. I realised about two thirds of the way through the walk to work that I couldn't feel half my right thumb. About five sixths of the way through I realised I could feel it again but it was very very warm. It wasn't until I got into work that I discovered I hadn't be able to feel my chin, but hey, when can you?

Almost as soon as I arrived the snow started. The kids came in and told me one by one "Miss, it's SNOWING!!" and I heard this throughout the rest of the morning. It settled pretty quickly, and was enough by 10:30 for the kids to be wrapped up and taken outside to have a quick play before their excitement completely engulfed them. The children in the afternoon didn't get the chance so they were a bit more mental than usual, but they're incredibly amusing anyway, so s'all good. We didn't shut early, but parents could pick them up if the so wished, so though our day ended slowly it actually ended up finishing bang on time as it happens.

After a tidy and decompression I wrapped myself up and whacked the wellies on for the walk home. The pavements hadn't been cleared so it was a little scary given my past of making frequent trips to the floor, I walked on whatever snow hadn't already been crunched. This was partly an attempt to prevent slippage, but mostly it was good old fashioned fun. I got to the shops without slipping, booyah, and proceeded to buy some milk, bread, cookies and brioches. The milk I knew we didn't need, but imagine running out?? The bread I knew we did need, and I fancied marmite on toast (I got that gold marmite, I didn't need more marmite but I definitely needed the marmite I used to be sparkly). Cookies looked delicious and I'm having a bit of a love affair with brioches at the moment. Tasty. 

Now I'm inside once more, I'm in my pyjamas and looking forward to having some wine. I don't have to go out tomorrow so I probably won't. I'm hoping that there is not so much snow that my cake plans with Gemma aren't scuppered on Sunday, but enough after that that there is a snow day. One can but dream.

I'll try not to have anything overly snowy tomorrow. But if I do, them's the snaps.

Stephie

xxx

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Day 17 - RSVP


January 17th 2013

"I can promise you, pretty one, champagne fountains and ice sculpted swans...."

RVSP to the event of the year right here.

My darling Ally is getting married in September, and Maid of Honour here is now officially going. As if there was really any question. Ally and I have had planned that we would be each other's maids of honour whenever such a time as one was needed since we were about...15? Which was around when we met. When I found out that it would actually be actually happening, at the same time as feeling unbelievably happy for her, I felt scarily grown up. As if someone I know is getting married! Who is not all grown up and such! Because Ally is so definitely not grown up. Quite literally. I've heard she sleeps under a flannel.

We met at Spotlites, where I met a good deal of awesome people and friends. We bonded at the bus stop after school, when Ally comforted me over something awful no doubt, and soon after I was getting off the bus two stops later to spend more time with her and take a longer walk home. One of the steadfast elements of our relationship has been house raids, when Ally would appear at my house in the afternoon and we would drink J2O and eat mild curry supernoodles. This is still mainly the plan whenever we see each other, we rarely deviate. Visits are still referred to as House Raids and if J2O and noodles aren't already in stock they soon are.

I don't get to see Ally much these days, which makes me sad. Ally lives in stupid Manchester all the stupid way up there, we have been trying to plan a visit soon and life keeps being annoying and not letting us. Whilst it is so utterly rubbish that I don't get to see her, when I do see her I am reminded even more of why we are such good friends. Despite the horrendously long time apart between seeing each other, when we do see each other it's instantly like no time has passed, I find I can't think of anything to tell her because in my brain she already knows every little thing because she is so ingrained into that brain.

Going to her wedding will be one of the best days of my life, she's going to absolutely rock that bright orange with green neon polka dots dress and look like the most beautiful dayglo princess you ever did see. Which reminds me...buy waterproof mascara. Not just because of the light reflected off the dress.

Love you SO much Gorgeous Aloo!

Super Semy

"But I love you you you, (I really really love you) I love you you you (I proper badly love you), I love you you you (I forgot to say I love you), I love you you you (yes, I really really love you), I love you...just like I love myself"

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Day 16 - Gingerbread

16th January 2013

Today I made gingerbread. Ha, as if I made gingerbread. No, what I did was roll out some ready made gingerbread and put it in the oven. I saw it in Sainsbury's recently and picked it up cause I love me some gingerbread I do. I also thought, ooh, decorating is fun.

So I got the gingerbread out to leave it for 20 minutes before using. Naturally, after barely 10 minutes I started rolling it out. My gingerbread took the shape of a teddy for the most part, the only cutter we had in the house and they look pretty sweet. I couldn't resist making a camera for today's photo, I managed to cut out most of the little 'CS' in the bottom right, but it was a lot of fun to decorate. It wasn't till I held it for the photo that I realised I was subjecting my hand to mess. I also did a little treble clef but it doesn't look quite so cool...tasty though. There was also a whale for Samantha because she suggested it and I decided I had to make it happen.

Originally, I had planned to make two different colours of icing and give the whole two coloured icing thing a whirl (ah ha ah ha, did that just happen? Jape of the century.) but I underestimated the viscosity of said icing and when I squeezed it out over the test bear he was soon covered in a terrifying red and blue mess and he looked like he'd been whacked.

I resorted in the end to dipping a knife in gel food colouring and drawing on some details. It was fun and messy. The best kind.

Fun fact: the photo is true to life in that I, like my brother (Stuart Murphy FYI), hold the viewfinder to my left eye. We have discussed this and decided that we were mirroring Dad when he took photos. Remember that, it'll be in the test.

To keep you informed of previous culinary adventures - the Macarons were brilliant the next day. The 'mousse' was bad. So bad. Groo.

Stephie

xxx


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Day 15 - Mama and Papa meetup


January 15th 2013

Today was a mental day. All sorts of stressful stuff went down (yes, I'm cool enough to say that, I checked) so by the end of it all I wanted to do was see my wonderful parents and chill out with them for awhile.

Mama came and met me at school. She actually came in, so I had a very bizarre clashing of worlds moment when I came out of the loo and saw her walking towards me down the corridor. She saw the corridor, chatted to a couple of my colleagues, then we wended our way to Westfield. Aside - when writing wended I thought it sounded wrong and should be went and then thought hey wait! Is it? Is that why the word went is went? Have I just experienced one of those rare moments in life when you realise something really big, like never being a contraction of not ever?

Back to the real world Stephanie. Mama and I had a wander round Westfield and headed to our usual rendezvous spot outside the Apple Store where we met my lovely Papa. We popped into the store so Dad could peruse some cases for his new phone before deciding he wasn't quite ready for that just yet. It's always really bizarre going in somewhere you previously worked, more so with a shop. A huge amount has changed since I was there, but I hugely enjoy dropping in from time to time to see how many people I still recognise and to pop up out of nowhere in front of them to demand a hug and/or attention. It always makes me feel super loved going in there - thanks guys!

After a further wander round the shops we headed to Carluccio's for dinner. Yum. I enjoyed this. Dinner over far too soon I squeezed my life givers and headed back to Ealing and they to Kent.

I had intended to bring my camera with me and get a picture of them. I think you might be able to guess what the outcome was by that sentence and the picture today. What we have instead is a shirt that Dad bought before Christmas and I admired. It didn't fit properly so now it's pyjamas for Stephie tonight, yes! Also my lovely iPod which I love and is lovely. I have Papa to thank for introducing me to Apple, and I think therefore some of the best friends and colleagues a girl could hope for. Thanks Papa! Finally, favourite duvet cover. Didn't peg me for a pink girl eh? You're right. But this is pretty, and I often flip it over to the yellow side, so it's ok.

Stephie

xxx

Monday, 14 January 2013

Day 14 - Film and chinese

14th January 2013

So today is the last evening before Nich goes home, and I've just said goodnight and goodbye to her as she's likely to leave before I'm up tomorrow. Sob.

To mark this last night we got chinese. This is almost 'our meal' the way other couples (yes, we count as a couple) have 'our song'. I think our song is Let's Go To The Mall. On more occasions than I like to think about we have ordered chinese and sat down in front of a film. There was once a period of about 10 days where we got it 5 times. How awful is that? In our defence, it was around Christmas. We got into this weird kind of zone where we'd look at each other and know the other way thinking it and that we concurred and would be ordering it, almost without discussion. Beautiful times. We celebrated an unChristmas this way once. With an identical order, wine, and King and I and Sound of Music.

We had thought we'd watch another musical this evening, but we ended up spending most of it in the other typical fashion - trying to decide on a film and looking through dvds for hours before deciding. So very much of our life before Nichola left was spent staring at the bookcase full of her dvds, or scrolling up and down the hard drive to try and find something we wanted to watch. This seemed such a typical Nich moment I decided it had to be today's photo. That's not to say there aren't other photos I would dearly love to display here, but I think it might end in divorce. They are hilarious and, in my opinion, encapsulate her personality to a fault. Maybe I'll keep them as leverage?

It has been an amazing visit, and I have just booked some mega cheap megabus tickets to Paris during half term to go and see her! So excited! I'm gonna spend a lot of time on a coach, but I'm good at sleeping on public transport so it will be worth it. Five weeks to go and be near my beautiful cake again. And Nich.

Stephie

xx

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Day 13 - 8 Bit Lane


January 13th 2013

Today, feeling delicate following last night's unexpected frivolities, I headed over to Brick Lane with Bex and Lynsey. The latter had informed me yesterday that it was decorated with some 8 bit art, and I might find a good photo for the day there, and I did. I've decided that the pigeons are my 'official' photo of the day, but I've included a few of the others because I enjoy them.

It was not easy to dress and leave the house I can tell you. My cure awaited me at the other end, a quarter pounder with cheese and a big coke, and this propelled me onwards. I'm glad I went, there were fun things to look at. It was ABSOLUTELY freezing though, and the hunt for a cash machine took so long that the cake it was planned for was sold out by the time we got back. Boo. We got a different cake, but it was a poor disappointment. Such is life. Much like your dinner will always arrive last, the cake you want will always sell out by the time you have the cash.

Lynsey headed home, and Bex and I found a café for a warming drink. It wasn't that great, I'm not gonna lie. My fudge hot chocolate is way better. It got late, we headed home. Definitely need to do some more wandering around Brick Lane in the future, it's an interesting place...


 There were a lot of tourists who were fun to take pictures of.


Lovely doggy.


Moments after this picture was taken they were told off for sitting on the tree. Silly people.
 

I enjoy this. I tried to get it into a vague rectangle like an actual game of actual Tetris, but it annoys me that more are falling before the first has landed like in aforementioned actual game. I know otherwise it would just be one block but that's just the way it makes me feel, alright?


This was almost my favourite, so I've saved it for last to make it like Bisto.

Nearly two weeks done, and I'm not bored yet! Yay! I am poor though, so less interesting photos for a little while I fear.

Much love,

Stephie

xxx

Day 12 - Nich's drinks

  

12th January 2013

As you know, Nich is visiting for a week. Nich has been greatly in demand this week, and so to see as many as possible we all descended on the Montague Pyke for some drinks yesterday. It was awesome. We got food, mine had to arrive a million years after all the others because that's life that is. As is always the way with the best gatherings it carried on much longer than anticipated. Nich and Ben had to go to Clapham for an engagement party but insisted that we come along later and join them, as it was only in a bar. So we did. Jumped on a tube and a train and got to the bar to find it was full.

We went next door. It was again awesome. Two friends I'd had for a little while, two I'd met either that night or recently, and Nich and Ben appearing after awhile because I am just irresistible. We did some dancing, we did some bonding with ladies in the toilet, I opened a toilet door on my face and I'm not ready to stop talking about how much my lip hurts. It's quite a lot. Sympathy please. 

After our unexpected night out, we had to get the bus to Kingston to then get a further bus home. We made it as far as Kingston and then decided we were too tired and hungry to spend another hour on a night bus, so we splashed on a taxi. Best idea ever. We arrived home, prepared some bedtime toast and retired to bed.

Yay for last night, yay for afternoon drinks, and yay for Nich for being popular. Kudos.

Stephie

xxx


Friday, 11 January 2013

Day 11 - Les Misérables


11th January 2013

As part of Nich's visit this week we went to see Les Misérables at the cinema. This was booked at the beginning of December, so desperate were we to ensure we got seats, and awesome ones at that. We went to the Odeon in Leicester Square and sat in the Royal Circle, pretty much dead centre. It was brilliant.

You know that I love music and singing, so I'm wondering if any Mark Sloanes out there have figured out that I love musicals. I do. I really love them. I love those moments when they are just belting out that amazing note that make your insides quiver with feeling. I love it. Did I mention I'm quite enamoured of this general situation?

When I was about...13 or 14 I think, I started attending Spotlites, a local youth theatre. A few people at school went, so I joined them. I enjoyed performing a bit, it seemed fun. It was a funny place to be overall. I have no doubt that it shaped my teenage personality - I was there until I was 18. I met some incredibly dear friends there, including the beautiful Ally for whom I am so proud to be maid of honour later this year! I was in two shows whilst at Spotlites...well...three if you include a workshop...four if you include a showcase. I don't, I count the two. Scrooge (the musical) and Pippin (the musical). Both were utterly exhausting, but so much fun, and I got to do a lot of that lovely singing.

I think I was about 16 when I started having singing lessons there. Those half hours every friday night were by far my favourite time of the week. My singing teacher, Marcus, was brilliant. I loved him. I still use so much of what he taught me every time I sing (including in my main arena, the shower) and have passed on some things to the choir at school. I still have the daily exercises he gave me blue tac'd up on the wall at Pogles.

I loved the feeling I had when I hit a note I couldn't before, of singing a song and it actually sounding good, of just having 30 minutes every week where I knew all I would have to do, all I would have to think about, was singing. One of the first songs I learnt with Marcus was I dreamed a dream. It holds such a special place in my heart, and I will never sing it without thinking of the funny little singing room downstairs at Spotlites. Anne Hathaway does an alright job I guess. This may or may not mean that tears were rolling down my cheeks, and when I say may or may not I mean may and when I say may I mean there were definitely.

Since then I've sung in a choir and group with my mum. Singing in parts is something I love, harmonies really do it for me. That moment, mostly seen at the end of a big number in a musical, where all the harmonies are going and it sounds like one note but so rich and full and vibrant....wow.

There's a bit of a disconnect for me with singing though. As you may have picked up on, Mrs Fletcher, I really quite enjoy it. But for the most part it's for my own pleasure. In groups I can sing in front of a crowd, but if given any solos or being asked to sing a whole song by myself I go all aflutter and I can't do it. Similar thing with playing music, I'm happy to play with others, but the occasions where I will play by myself for other people are very few and far between. So those who have been privy to such moments you know I must utterly trust you. Singing with my mum and brother in law at my brother's wedding was terrifying. I don't remember it at all. Blacked out. It's not that I think I'm really bad, but I just know I'm not overly good either. Literally "not bad".

So that's today. Slightly out of kilter with the photo, but what are gonna do, fight me?! Tomorrow I know that I dreamed a dream and On my own are going to feature on both my internal playlist and literal playlist. I shall be checking the door to see the others are out before I really gie it laldy.

Stephie

xxx

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Day 10 - Meditation

January 10th 2013

About a week or so ago I was in town with the flatmates and we spotted a sign for free yoga. It was about to be a New Year, what better time to start some yoga eh? Particularly free yoga! It was at the town hall, not a dusty old cellar, so it seemed like it might be some fun and we probably wouldn't be murdered for our hides.

Got home, read a little into it, and discovered it was called yoga but was actually meditation. Whatevs man, we're hip to the beat and down with the kids, we could do some meditation. It was every Thursday, I'm sure I wasn't the only one with visions of a weekly decompression session.

We headed over today. It wasn't far, but I drove because it is freezing. First fun was had when the road was closed and we had to go all around the world for the diversion, then the parking was all weird. Those who know me well know that I don't cope well with being late anywhere, and we were parking 2 minutes after it started. I reasoned that maybe this meditation would be more needed than imagined. This was the lovely room we were in, I greatly enjoyed the light fittings.

I'm not going to go into too much detail about why this completely did not work for the three of us going as this is the belief system of a number of people and I don't want to be rude. Live and let live and all. It was just not at all relaxing, and perhaps edging into the stressful zone. Particularly when we were trapped in a workshop situation and Samantha had to tie knots of energy over my head, or something.

I will not be returning. But I've tried something new and that can only be a good thing, surely? We shall see.

Stephie

xxx

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Day 9 - London

January 9th 2013

Ooh, today's is black and white, fancy.

So this evening I was out and about in London. Yup, that's right, on a school night. I'm often crazy like that. Well, when I say often, I mean never. My bed is far too important to me. Sleeping is generally the high point of my day.

But today I had two reasons to be out in London. Both reasons are very special people.

The first is a wonderful girl called Kylie. I lived with Kylie in my last year of uni, and I'm not quite sure what I'd have done without her. She was a true friend, and I feel I will be forever in her debt for her being so wonderful to me when I really needed that someone to be wonderful to me.

This evening I saw Kylie for the first time in a long time, a far too long a time. As soon as I could get out of school I high-tailed it to St. Paul's to meet her. As it turned out, my tail needn't have been so high, and I had time for a sandwich, coffee, and a bit of David Mitchell on my kindle before I met her. After missing each other at first, we found each other and made our way to a pub for a glass of wine and a long overdue catch up. I knew I missed her, but this wine and chat made me think how much I had enjoyed living with her! I will soon coerce her into a night with further wine and movies and/or chinese (definitely and) alongside much much more chat which will make me happy.

Because the universe is not a big fan of me, Kylie had to leave fairly swiftly to get back home. Because I had tricked the universe, I was able to leave Kylie and meet Nichola near Oxford Circus, woop! We met, walking towards each other whilst speaking on the phone, and only hung up when we were about a foot apart. That's true love.

Our way was wended to an O'Neill's for a shared bottle of wine (plus a banoffee pie and something involving ricotta for Nich) and some greatly needed chat. Nich's beau Ben appeared for short while, and I had that fun moment of seeing him and thinking "hey he looks like that guy I know". I enjoy those moments. I enjoyed a similar one once when something I had sent it was read out on a radio show, and I thought "Hey, Steph Murphy, that's like my name!" It's the little things.

After the bottle of wine was finished we headed back to Ealing and the North Star, and met another friend, Tom. Tom is another Medway person I didn't know until moving to Ealing. What is furtherly mad (yes, furtherly is a word. No, not one in a dictionary) is that his dad was in the same primary school class as my Auntie Kate, his grandmother watched over them as a dinner lady, and my grandma watched over them as their headmistress. Whaaaaaat.

A further glass of wine was drunk, and Nich and I made our way back to the flat. I managed to add the photo before midnight, result.

I love living in London, and the fact such views are not beyond my reach. Look at all those people, all the hustle and bustle, and yet right there is St. Paul's. Man alive. I have met and chatted to so many friends tonight, due in no small part to living in one of the most amazing cities in the world. It's not the prettiest, or most romantic, or remotely the coolest. But I love it. It's busy and it's historic and it's beautiful in its own way. London Underground was 150 years old today. It might not always work perfectly, it is definitely always expensive, it generally smells weird, and I can guarantee cramped conditions, but it has transported me to some wonderful people and places. Thanks old chum. Also, I've just put £20 on my Oyster, so you better give me something good.

Until tomorrow,

Stephie

xxx
 

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Day 8 - Hot Chocolate


January 8th 2013

I know you will all have expected me to do Tea (yes, with a capital, it's that important) before I got to hot chocolate. I like to subvert the norm from time to time.

Plus, yesterday I bought Fudge hot chocolate and mahoosive marshmallows and couldn't wait to crack into those babies. Not to mention Nich arrives later this evening, and I know that after that point I'm going to be an ugly bag of mostly tea.

I spotted these marshmallows in Asda a month or two ago. Now it's been taken over by Walmart there are various products available from across the pond. There's a small section in the confectionary aisle with bags of these beauties, various forms of Hershey's chocolate (groo), tootsie pops and some other things I forgot. There are also weird flavours of Pop Tarts. Now I enjoy a Pop Tart from time to time, but apple, no. They are mostly a way for me to make chocolate happen to my face.

The side of the bag of these lovelies has instructions for toasting, and clearly by the size they're not designed for hot chocolate, but man alive do they suit it. In previous attempts I've chopped it up but today we decided to just drop them in whole. It was at this point that I thought I would take my 8th photo, and what a massive stroke of genius it was on my part. Due to my faffing, they stewed a bit longer and threw up that delicious foam you can see on the side, drool. By the time we got to partaking of this glory the underside had all but melted and had to be eaten with a spoon. It was absolutely wonderful, go out and buy these and do this now because your life will be happier. The hot chocolate itself was good but, I'll be honest, it was mainly a conduit for marshmallows.

I think it's about time I boiled a kettle ready for the wife's arrival and my first of many cups of tea during her visit. Eeep!

Stephie

xxx

Monday, 7 January 2013

Day 7 - Walking home


7th January 2013

I love being able to walk to and from work. Love it.

Where I grew up was about 3 miles from school, up and down hills all over the place, so I always got a lift in with Mum or got the bus. Seeing the number 184 still gives me a sense of excited relief, because it was the bus the cut out the pointless part of the journey. 176 will give a sense of relief, cause it meant the bus was there, but euw, gross, loooooong.

When I first got to uni I was living in halls that required me to get a bus in and out of uni. I walked it once, but not out of choice. Well...kind of. I had walked from uni to Asda, bought stuff, then walked to wait for the bus. Rounded the corner and saw it drive off, so I thought I'd just walk to the next stop. As I'm sure you've guessed, the bus passed me, so I continued, and the bus passed me, so I continued, and eventually just as I was about to turn the corner into Langstone it passed me a final time. It was raining. I was carrying milk. It was a sad day.

I came back from uni the first time, and got a job that required a bus and train commute within Medway. Bleurgh.

Back to Portsmouth again, and this time we lived in a wonderful house which was ten minutes from town. Finally, I could walk everywhere! Into uni, into work, to the beach, to the pub. Some paths were more well trodden than others. Just saying.

After uni, as you know, I was in Medway and commuting to West London until I moved into my darling flat. After that I got the tube, it was about 30 minutes door to door, which ain't too shabby. Then, I went back the other way again and gave myself a long commute, on occasion.

I started a job based in Old Street, and travelled there three times a week. Ergh. It was always rammed with angry people, and was my first real taste of London rush hour as before I was rarely going into work at 9. Once a week I worked from home, which I have to say has been my favourite journey by far. Up, into comfy clothes, cup of tea, into front room, done. No metro or nothing. Bliss. The other day I would have to drive over to Newbury, near Reading. I preferred that to the tube, you can sing really loudly in the car and trust me, I do.

Now I can walk. I love it. Yes, there are times when it's pouring or freezing or I'm just knackered. But there are plenty more times when it's just pleasant and, as I walk past a girls secondary school, highly amusing. If I oversleep I can drive in, it takes five minutes. The times when I have to unexpectedly drive in are my favourites in some ways, because at the end of the day I remember and it's beautiful wonderful moment.

I'm looking forward to the inevitable snowy pictures to come, there's another part of my route home that looks beautiful in the snow.

Tomorrow Nichola arrives. This makes me happy. I foresee a lot of tea in my future.

Stephie
xxx

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Day 6 - Twelfth Night

  

January 6th 2013

Doesn't the spelling of twelfth look wrong? I don't trust that it's right. I've checked and it appears to be right, but I'm really not feeling comfortable with it. 

So it's Twelfth Night, Christmas tree is coming down and I go back to work tomorrow. I'm sure that in everyone's homes there are elements of decoration that stay up year round. In the flat we have a glittery reindeer that has been on the table in the front room since I moved in. It blended in so well, it wasn't until Nich returned and pointed it out that I noticed. Things accumulated on it, first it was a little monkey, then the monkey got a sombrero, and now I think he has a goldfish in his mouth. I'm not sure it's still there at Pogles, but we used to have a star in the porch window that Dad would say he was going to take down pretty much every day. I think he'd get round to it in September time. 

I miss being at Pogles at Christmas time. I had a good long time there this year, but not enough in my opinion. That house is made for Christmas. About 3 years ago Mum and Dad bought a tree that didn't fit in our front room, so it had to go in the hall and up the stairs. They did this without any offspring egging them on, which is brilliant. It's now how we have the tree, and I love it. I can see it when I come out of my room, and (hoping I don't sound too Lewellyn-Bowen) it brings Christmas through the house. We still have decorations that Stu, Jen (siblings) and I made in primary school. I think this is impressive even for my decorations, but my brother is ten years older than me. Old man. Love you d-Stu! Only thing I miss having the tree in the middle of the house is seeing it from the road, which is one of my favourite things about Christmas. When I grow up I want a house with a round bay window where I can put the tree so everyone can see it. And it will have a whole mess of decorations on it. All the colours of the rainbow, 6 inch pieces of straggly tinsel and baubles held on by twist ties. The way it's supposed to be. 

Bubye Christmas, when I see you again it will be far too soon I'm sure! 

Stephie

xxx

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Day 5 - Flat 8

5th January 2013

Flat 8. I do so love it here.

After I finished uni in 2010 I lived at home for awhile, and when I started working at Apple in Westfield I commuted. I hated it with a passion. Around 2 hours each way was a nightmare, I'd leave work and remember just how much longer it was until I got home. My Dad has been doing a similar, longer, commute for I'm not sure how long. Could be 40 years. How nuts is that?! Medway to Hammersmith every day for 40 years, so that my Mum could stay teaching at the school she loved, near her family, and we could all be taught at that school. How amazing is THAT?! My Dad absolutely rocks the world and I couldn't be luckier to have him. You'll undoubtedly see a picture of him at some point, he's a scientist, and he looks it. He's been described as Doctor Who with grey hair, which is so perfect I think he should be cast as such if ever such a plot line were written. I digress.

After a couple of months I was fed up with commuting, and started looking for a place in London. At first this was so demoralising, I'd spend hours trawling websites looking for rooms available, and only actually saw a handful of rooms. A couple were nice and too expensive, some were terrifying and gross. I walked back to Shepherd's Bush in dejection on a few occasions.

Then, one day, I happened upon a flat on Gumtree. It looked nice enough, and I responded to the ad. Little did I know, that was the first email I would send my wife. Nich was on the other end of that ad. From a first "Can I come and see your flat?" "Sure, when?" conversation, we started sending emails during the day, just chatting. We confirmed that I liked tea and would respond positively when offered one when I arrived. We chatted about why Nich was moving out and, after I had visited the flat, how sad we were that we wouldn't be living together. How mental, I had met the girl once! I don't believe in soulmates, but if there was ever a case for one, here it is.

In due course I moved into the flat, helping Nich move out at the same time. I found myself with two wonderful flatmates, Claire and Lynsey, whom I had met briefly on my visit. It felt like I slotted right into place, and soon found myself enjoying cup after cup of tea with Claire discussing How I Met Your Mother in depth. I had no idea that by moving up to London and in with these utter randoms that I would meet some of my best friends.

After not quite a year, Claire decided to move back to Northern Ireland. At the same time Nich decided to come back from travelling. This seemed like ideal timing as Nich could move back in, but I still would have loved Claire to have stayed and found a 4 bed flat. Alas, this was not the way. It did, however, pave the way for visits to Belfast, yay! I miss Claire immensely, and have often thought about the various forms of instant transportation (apparating, orbing, Star Trek Transporter-ing) with longing. One day Claire, one day.

I was finally living with Nich, and what a lovely few months it was. At the time I was working from home once a week, and this often coincided with Nich working from home. I lived for those days. So much tea. So much HIMYM. So much laughter. One time when Nich and I were left alone in the flat (not often a good idea) we spent a good hour, maybe more, lying on the sofas making fart noises and seeing if we could get the flags hung from the ceiling to sway. It wasn't on company time, don't worry. It was highly amusing is what it was. Lynsey came in and looked at us in pitying disbelief. It's an interesting look, you should try it.

THEN. My oh my. Nich moved out. To PARIS of all places. I mean, come on! It was horrendous, I didn't want to think about how much I'd miss her. I still don't. She looked for another housemate to replace her, as I had done, and found Samantha.

Samantha is lovely. And what is weird about Samantha is that she is also from Medway. This doesn't mean she has 3 legs, though entirely possible. We are the same age and went to school around the corner from each other. Every morning I waited for my friends at the train station she walked through. We have friends in common. It's bizarre. Every so often we'll be talking about Medway, or school, and say something that makes the other go, "Oh my god, you *insert Medway or school thing here* no way!". I find it incredible that we didn't know each other, and a bit sad at that, because I think we would have got on exceedingly well when we were younger. What gives me this hint is that a main source of our amusement at the moment is to stare at each other from odd angles in the hope it will make each other jump.

All in all, I've been exceedingly lucky with the people I happened to start living with. I love all of them to pieces, and can't wait to see the missing ones again soon. I'd say the only thing I can complain about is the fact that Lynsey never finishes her tea (sacrilege) but I'm starting to come to terms with that. Flat 8 is a wonderful place to live, and I don't want it to leave the family for quite some time yet. And not just because it has free parking. But that totally helps.


Friday, 4 January 2013

Day 4 - Saxamaphone

January 4th 2013

Isn't it just so beautiful?

I first started learning to play the saxophone when I was in year 7...I think. I remember in year 6 I went with the school to some kind of event at Chatham town hall, we could go and look at all sorts of instruments, have a go on some them. Mum asked me afterwards if there were any I would be interested in learning once I got to secondary school. What was strange was that until then I'd always had a bit of a soft spot for the violin, but something about the sax grabbed me there.

We went to Maidstone to rent a sax from someone there...when I first had a go he was impressed that I made a sound come out of it. Hells yeah. Lessons started, can't remember my teacher's name, but he had a beard. What I really remember is the smell of the practice room at school, a dusty, musty smell, almost like a library but not quite. Maybe it was the smell of music. Deep. I really enjoyed learning it and wish I'd stuck with it a bit longer but, unfortunately for the saxophone, it's cumbersome. I had to walk up a huge great hill to get to my school, and got the bus home. It didn't last beyond year 8.

I think it was when I was about 17 some money my Auntie Dee and Grandad had left me became accessible, and before we put it away somewhere safe again I decided to get a saxophone. I got a couple of books and got back into the swing (ha!) of it for awhile. When I went to university however, there was just no room. It got forgotten, again. Awww. It's ok saxophone, I have a feeling the story gets better.

It was last year, after I really started playing my ukulele, that I realised I wanted to give it another go, and properly this time. I went back down to Kent for Christmas, went into Chatham and bought some new reeds and went back to Pogles all excited. The saxophone came out, and I found it wasn't in the best condition anymore. The keys stuck and the notes all blurred into one. Cue two days with a pin and some motor oil, and it's doing a lot better. I'll still need to take it in for a once over somewhere, but it's looking good.

Today has been much like the other times I've played it recently. I went up and down the notes a few times, played the things I know, and then my mouth got sore and tired because my embouchure is pretty much nonexistent.

It's beginning world! Again. Third time lucky? As long as by the end of the year I can play something other than Groovy Kind of Love, In the Jungle, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, and Hine Ma Tov then I shall count it as a success.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Day 3 - Macarons


Here we have Day 3's effort.

Earlier this year I had the EXTREME pleasure of visiting Paris with some of my favourite people in the whole world. Our plans beforehand mainly focused on cheese and wine, but quickly diverged into cakes, some more cakes, and "ooh, we should get a cake!" every ten minutes. There were some amazing creations out there, one of which will always hold a special place in my heart. I would seriously consider hopping on the Eurostar just to go and get another one of these things. The fact that Nich is currently residing in the city would just sweeten the deal.

Sadly for me, we didn't get back to the patisserie where I found that beautiful confection, but we did visit a lot more. This was when the Macaron wormed its way into my affections. It became the cake I got every day, and we brought back a massive box full for my parents as a "thank you for letting us stay in the house on the way to the Channel Tunnel" present.

I decided I would have to give them a go. Now I enjoy baking, but I knew they were going to be a challenge and have been a little afraid of taking them on. Earlier this week, however, the flatmates and I were in Accessorize and Samantha found a Macaron kit for £3. I couldn't resist. It's not quite as useful as it might have been, it contains a piping bag and nozzle, parchment paper with stencils, and cellophane bags and ribbons for presenting your creations as gifts.

So today I bought my supplies, whacked on some Eddie Izzard in the background, and got baking. It all went surprisingly well for a long time which is generally worrying. As forecast, I got something wrong. I misread (read:didn't read) the recipe and put them in the oven too early. In the bin the first batch went. Second batch I apparently did everything right but they're still not great. To use up the leftover batter I made a few slightly bigger ones, and gave them a lot less time in the oven than the others. As I said to Samantha earlier "Our oven is hot". Confucius Murphy they call me. I also brushed on some bronze lustre. Bought this awhile ago and I am completely magpie mad on the stuff. Nearly bought some silver and gold today as well, just because it's so pretty and shiny and beautiful. The last lot are yummy. MMM.

I had LOADS of ganache left over, and LOADS of cream as I'd bought the wrong size. I whipped up the cream, folded into the ganache, and that's the mousse you see under the smiley face. It's yummy too. TASTY.

The second photo shows you one of the good ones, and some Physalis. I totally love and adore physalis, and it has helped get through some of the ganache. FRUITY.

Until tomorrow (unless I have overindulged and am in a chocolate coma),

Stephie

xxx

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Day 2 - Postman's Park


Here is the photo from 2nd January 2013.

Working in a school, I still have a few days off before I return to work. I know that once that happens I'll find it less easy to gather the energy to go somewhere to take some photos. So, I am determined that these few days I shall do something interesting, go somewhere outside of the flat, move. 

With the energy only found at the beginning of the year, I set out today without an umbrella, as my housemate had assured me that precipitation would not be an issue. I got off the tube, it was raining. A dash into the nearest shop followed, Accessorize, and I am now the proud owner of a colour change umbrella! It's got a white silhouette of some London sights on it, that colour in as it rains. I'm sure it's pretty, but I unfortunately miss the sight as I am sheltering under aforementioned umbrella.

I was heading to Postman's Park, a tiny park tucked away in the City of London. I'd first heard of it after reading this blog post, on the Take Courage Blog. I've been enjoying Take Courage for a long time, and am rather pleased that I started reading it and found this little gem.

The park itself is pretty standard, bit of a fountain, bit of grass, bench or two. What makes it special is the Memorial to Heroic Self Sacrifice. There is a sheltered area of the park, with 54 memorial tablets remembering those who gave their own lives to save others, the idea of George Frederic Watts, unveiled in 1900.

Walking along and reading each plaque, I felt that the gap in time was closed a little. Learning about each act of love and humanity made me realise how skewed my own perception of Victorian Britain is. I've been thinking about this most of the day. It has been surprisingly difficult to put into words what I mean, so you're going to have to fill that part in yourselves I'm afraid.

The little tableau this plaque draws to mind is the reason this is my photo for the day. It's difficult to envisage a dying 11 year old saying the quote at the bottom, but it doesn't really matter if he did or not. He saved the life of his little brother, something much more worthwhile I'd say.

Until the next photo,

Stephie

Day 1 - Charades


Here is the photo from January 1st 2013.

There was a bit of pressure for the first day not to forget and end up with a picture of my bedroom wall, or my toes or something. I'm certain that you'll experience the joy of each of these before the year, or probably month, is out. Fortunately, I think I found something slightly more interesting.

Since I moved to London in 2010 I've spent New Year in my lovely little flat. There's been an ever changing cast present, not to mention an ever changing mood. The first time, three of my darling Medway-ites came to see me. I remember being really excited about the chance to be silly with them. The universe decided to give me a horrible cold though, and I ended up in bed early, having toasted the New Year with a lemsip. The next year was a much bigger affair, more like an actual party, and I had a lot of fun. This year ended up being very quiet indeed, about 10 of us in total. It was a strange mood, I for one was trying my hardest to forget that 2012 had happened. My darling Nichola (who will feature heavily in this blog I fear) was there but had an early morning eurostar to catch back to Paris the next day, and I hadn't quite had my fill yet.

It being such a small gathering, we played a lot of games. The night started with Hungry Hippos, had a false start with Buckaroo after we remembered it was broken, found its footing once again with Absolute Balderdash, got into its stride with Taboo, looked back with confidence with Charades, and reached a triumphant finish with Just Dance.

Names were drawn for the Charades teams, and then we set about finding notebooks to shred to write challenges on for the opposing team. There was horror in the camp when the 'Notes' section of a book was torn out ("I'll just write notes in another notebook!") so I stepped up my search and found a diary I had bought with excellent intentions and forgotten about.

These three were some of my challenges, I found them in my jeans pocket later on. Cinema Paradiso was guessed almost instantly, which speaks more to the film knowledge of my teammates than anything else. Measure for Measure, my favourite Shakespeare play, was a little more difficult, but we got there. A moveable feast. A moveable feast. It took longer than it should have done to get them to get feast, but moveable?? Come ON! As I started to try and break it down into syllables and then words that those sound like them, I ran out of time. It still rankles.