Thursday, 28 February 2013

Day 59 - Hardy Kiwi

February 28th 2013

This is one of the ultimate "I'm a giant!" props. It ranks alongside miniature whiskies and those tiny books china dolls carry.

These are Kiwi berries, or Hardy Kiwi. Yesterday while shopping I spotted these in the fruit section thinking they were Castelvetrano olives. I'm totally in love with these olives, and can rarely find them around Ealing. Asda sold them once, but have taken them away again, just to tease me. This time I spotted these berries and thought...wrong section, but I might be onto something...and scooted myself right over.

As is clear, they weren't olives. That search continues. But I do quite enjoy these little fellas. They taste just like kiwis, except maybe a little sweeter. There's a slightly bitter taste as you eat the skin rather than peel them, but it's not enough to warrant peeling them. I'm finding they're a good "I think I'm hungry but I'm actually just bored" kind of food. I've taken to topping and tailing them as the ends are a bit bleurgh. Look at that description, I should be a food critic. "The Duck a l'orange was delightful, though there was the merest soupçon of bleurgh detectable in the sauce".

These are apparently a limited edition berry in Asda, so if you fancy it better head down there soon folks! Hey Asda, where's my kickback? 

Tomorrow I am back to Kent once more for Ruthie's birthday, so there will once again be a pause on the daily updates. I'm upgrading my laptop a bit at a time, starting with some more RAM that's sitting in Pogles at the moment, so hopefully before long I'll have some confidence that I can upload photos on the move and you won't have to wait so long. I know it pains you deeply and I do so hate to do that to you all. 


Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Day 58 - Room move pt.1

27th February 2013

So, after about two and a half years in my tiny little baby room, I am finally moving to a bigger room. Samantha is moving out, sob, and as much as I am really going to miss her quite a real lot, yay for a double bed!

Now, I love my little room. It's lovely and warm in winter, and gets lots of light. I have a velux window, and often take 20 minutes or so to have a little look at the world going by outside. I have invented stories about the birds and foxes I see, and have grown quite attached to some of them. I might project a little of myself onto them, I might not, just sayin'.

But it is so time. Being here for this long means I have definitely accumulated far too much stuff, and though I try and keep on top of it and get rid of said stuff I'm not very good at it. I get distracted by anything and everything, and I am the queen of attaching sentimental feelings to an old train ticket. When I tidy I have to put on something without singing (I'll just end up dancing holding a hairbrush) and nothing I haven't seen, but it can't be something I know too well. The story helps my brain focus.

As well as all the stuff...I'm a big person for a little room, and while I might prefer to sleep curled up rather than sprawled out, I like to have the option to sprawl out and I just don't have that in my single bed. My double duvet is very snuggly in this situation, but I think it's feeling stifled.

So part one of the move across started today. Samantha leaves next week and so has started packing up stuff in earnest, particularly as she has run away to Berlin for a few days. She cleared out her wardrobes so I can move my stuff in. My wardrobes are out in the hall anyway, so going for a walk to choose my clothes is no biggie. Another thing I'm really looking forward to, having my clothes in my room. Bliss.

I've managed two wardrobes and a shelf of clothes so far. Tomorrow I hope to have all wardrobes empty, so I can get to grips with my room on Sunday. This is not me skipping two days to chill, yeah I said it whatever, I am going back to Kent again this weekend for my darling Ruthie's 5th birthday and so will not be able to pack for that long 3 metre trek across the hall.

I'm not sure how many parts this volume will involve. It probably depends on how exciting my days are and how much progress I make. Thrilling, isn't it?



Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Day 57 - Chalk

26th February 2013

After another long day fighting this cough and finding myself counting down the days until the Easter holidays (only 4 more Mondays and 3 more Fridays people!) when I got home I had to settle down for a little bit before doing anything useful. I got into pyjamas and watched a bit of Charmed whilst having a mooch round the interwebs. I snuggled myself right under my duvet, arms trapped by laptop, I was super cosy. Unfortunately, I was in a bit of a vulnerable position, the laptop tilted forward and whacked me right in the face. I now have a lovely little red line under my nose. Could be worse, I had visions of an enormous bruise.

Speaking of which - why are girls so proud of bruises? I was an avid listener of the Dave Gorman Absolute podcast, and in one episode they were discussing a bruise that Danielle Ward was showing off and how girls will do exactly that with a bad bruise. It's like a trophy, proving that we too hurt ourselves and are so over it we can show everyone. As a result of spectacularly falling off a bike in Paris last week I now have some fantastic ones blooming over my calves. Brilliant purple and yellow and green ones. I keep finding myself showing Samantha how they are 'progressing' and I'm not sure why. It's a little bit hypnotic looking at how my skin is suddenly such a peculiar shade and knowing it's completely normal.

Moving on. After my altercation with the laptop I decided to run myself a bath and have a relax. I sent a message to the housemates to warn them that I was planning a long soak and if they were in need of the loo they should tell me to wait until they got home. I'm so thoughtful like that. Although, I actually worded it "I'm gonna get into a long bath, reply soon for me to wait so you can use the loo or forever hold your PEEace." Thoughtful AND witty. I'm a catch.

Neither had an issue with me commandeering the bathroom, so I made myself a Chai latte and got into a steaming bath with my kindle and some candles. It was brilliant. Could have fallen asleep in there. Reluctantly I pulled myself out and back into some fresh new pyjamas.

I had a hankering to do some drawing, I wanted to have a go at that grave sculpture from Père Lachaise. This is what has themed my photo today. I prefer using chalk and charcoal, I have since A-level. Sadly, I can only draw things that are actually there, I can't do that pulling it from my imagination drawing that so many people I know can do so well. Wish I could do it. Particularly tonight. Nothing seemed to want to work for me tonight, I attempted the sculpture and then a new picture of Keira to no avail. I ended up doodling, and not in a fun way that some people can, I found myself drawing a load of those pointy S-es that you draw with the 6 lines? You know? You covered your homework diary in them at some point, I was lucky enough to be able to include it in my name.

I really enjoy drawing, I keep meaning to go and do some more life drawing sessions, I've enjoyed them in the past. Maybe I'll go at some point this year. Samantha has been going to them on and off and I've meant to join her a number of times, but life did that thing it does and stopped me.


Monday, 25 February 2013

Day 56 - Monkey

25th February 2013

I so did not have the energy for work this morning. I still felt, and feel, utterly drained by the events of the weekend and a cold that seems to be making itself known again.

I made it in powered by Lemsip Direct and got through the day, coughing and spluttering and feeling exactly what 'bleurgh' sounds like.

Back home I called Travel Insurance to try and sort out a replacement. Watch this space and keep your fingers crossed. Photos were imported and then I headed out to meet the housemates to get some dinner. I had no food and definitely no energy to shop.

We went to the Hare and Tortoise, a lovely place near Ealing Broadway. We had intended to get takeaway, but were lured in by the thought of refillable Jasmine tea. After a delicious tempura dinner we came back to the flat.

I'm really glad to be here at the moment, being so tired and drained I'm happy to be somewhere I feel comfortable. This little monkey has changed his appearance a number of times in my tenure here, but he's been here since my first Christmas and I quite like him.

I'm now in bed, finally finished writing all the blog posts from the past few days and ready for sleep. You'll forgive me for not writing a longer, more interesting post for today. Wish I had some more Jasmine tea.



Day 55 - Home

24th February 2013

Another earlyish start, due in main to my intense hatred of being at all late for anything ever.

As we arrived I saw that my queuing standards were not being adhered to. I was in fact able to just hang out next to the coach until it was time to board. A long, tight hug with Nich later, I boarded. Happy to be able to have my ideal seat once more, but unhappy at leaving the wife behind, especially in a place that now left me worried for her safety.

Settling myself in the knowledge that she would be back in the next couple of weeks, just down the road and for good this time (although with this so called "boyfriend". Pfft. Sanctity of marriage mon derrière.) I plugged myself into my iPod and, once again, fell asleep.

An unexciting trip later, we were at Calais having our passports checked. Once more, the difference between english queuing and the rest of the world made itself apparent. In the French border control there were three desks and an empty space, where a wild straggling queue of coach passengers arranged themselves. Next door, mere metres away, in the British border control I was delighted to see barriers set up to allow us to form in an orderly fashion. I was nearly home.

A further unexciting ferry trip later, one more standard coach trip and an unnecessarily long tube trip (district line closed, SHOCK) I was home. I clattered my way upstairs and into the flat, to find a note on my door informing me that I would find the kitchen interesting.

I entered, and found my lovely housemates had bought me flowers and a cake to cheer me up after my horrible ending to my trip. Aren't they lovely people?

Thank you girlies, it means the world.


Day 54 - Thank you, Aida's Dad.

February 23rd 2013

As Nich and I were entering her building in the early hours of the morning two men called out to us. Before we knew what was happening, we were desperately trying to push the door closed on them. As might be expected, they were just too strong, and all of a sudden they were in the lobby with us. We shouted at them to leave, but they didn't seem to say much, just looked. It was a terrifying few moments, not knowing what was about to happen. Again, before I could move, one of them had his arm pulled tight against my neck, while the other grabbed my phone from my pocket. Then they ran. We half heartedly ran outside but both stopped very quickly, holding onto each other feeling unbelievably lucky that this was what had happened. That we were both there, both safe and the only thing we had to deal with now was a stolen phone.

We went inside and Nich made us tea while we tried to figure out who to call. The non-urgent French police number had no one who could speak English, and neither of us had the wherewithal to be able to speak anything other than stutters, barely coherent to each other I imagine. They hung up on us. We found a number for the Met police, to see if they could help us. They were much nicer, but couldn't provide any more help. I called my network to block my sim, and sent a message to my mum explaining what had happened, and that Facebook was the way to contact me.

The wife and I shared the bed this night, still reeling with shock, disbelief, and completely grateful that we were both there.

After about three hours sleep I woke up and ended up watching episodes of How I Met Your Mother for hours as I couldn't sleep. I felt so...annoyed. This is the second phone I've had stolen within six months, and this time it had happened in a way that hadn't just affected me. It had me terrified for Nich and that just wasn't on. I had been looking forward to this for so long and now I felt awful and tearful and I think I've had more than my fair share of feeling like that.

We eventually got up, showered, and headed out to a police station. The first place we found was closed. Of course. We found another and waited for ages, unsure of what exactly we were waiting for. The woman we saw did not speak very good english and our french was not coping with all the vocabulary we'd never had the need for before, on top of two tired brains. At first it seemed like we were going to be turned away with the instructions to get a number from England.

Finally, a bit of karma came our way. A man in the reception overheard us speaking to the woman and turned and asked what had happened. He was french, but spoke perfect english. He was the first to ask how my phone had been stolen, and upon hearing that we were attacked he promptly turned back to the people on the desk and told them. This got a different reaction, and they said we should come in and make a statement about this. The amazing man said he would come in and translate for us, and this was the most amazing random act of kindness I have ever encountered. As Nich and I both said, we saw both ends of the spectrum of human nature that day, and he really did restore some faith in humanity. We don't even know his name. But he did have his daughter with him, who was an utter gem the whole time, and very amusing. This was Aida. So, thank you Aida's Dad, you are an amazing person.

Nich and I had had a lot of plans for Saturday. We were going to go and get some cakes I had been hankering after since November, we were going to do a walking tour of Amelie, we were going to go to the Carnival very many things. However, our time with the police took us up until 5pm. We managed to get in two small parts of everything we had been planning to do.

The first was food at Café des 2 Moulins, where 'Amelie' works. It was yummy. Slightly disappointing, as there was a big difference between reality and the film, but it was similar enough that I didn't feel entirely cheated.

I enjoyed a Croque Madame, Nich had a burger and was intensely jealous of my food. Mmmm.

After departing in the snow, and it actually was snow by now, we joined some of Nich's friends to watch the second half of the rugby. We had planned to watch the whole game, but had to sacrifice a half to enjoy our food. We were informed when we arrived that England had been playing a pretty boring game so far so no big loss. The second half seemed much more exciting, though they got a little bit scrappy and a little bit naughty towards the end. The end of the game was pretty disappointing. Yes, we won, yes, we BEAT France, but it was all just a little bit childish and those english sensibilities you've heard me talk about before were greatly offended.

Almost as soon as the game finished we left for home. We arrived, drank tea and put on When Harry Met Sally. It's a firm favourite. I drank my tea and watched the first 10 or 15 minutes happily. As soon as I lay my head down I fell asleep. That was good, but now I feel unfulfilled. Paprikash.


Day 53 - Père Lachaise

22nd February 2013

I got a much later start today. I woke up to a message from Nichola, cursing the snow. The snow?! A look out the window proved her to be speaking the truth, there was a dusting. Aw. It was very very cold, and I was very very comfy. I took the opportunity to have a snuggled read in bed before a shower and heading out for another random wander. Nich had sent me in the direction of an apparently fun shop, but I managed to miss it entirely. I walked for about an hour, spotting a chocolate museum I thought I might convince Nich to come to with me the next day, and eventually stopped for a lovely pizza. Discovery of the holiday is that I really don't mind eating by myself, I got some lovely seats and some wonderful reading time. 

After lunch I decided to go to the Champs-Élysées and amble. It was sleeting on and off all day, so I spent a lot of time popping into shops for brief respite from the chill. 

Can't resist a picture of the Arc. Or a jumping tourist.

I stopped in the Häagen-Dazs café for a lovely warm up. A Dulce de Leche espressio with a warm waffle with praline & cream ice cream and Dulce de Leche ice cream. It was all too delicious. I left to further sleet and a bitterly cold wind, and decided to head homeward.

Once I arrived back at Père Lachaise the cold wasn't quite so biting, so I decided that today I would have a proper investigate into this wonderful place. 

Of course, the first place I headed to was Oscar Wilde's grave. It has been cleaned of its kisses which I feel is a little sad, but the glass box and barriers sadden me further. I know that it's in the family's wishes, but still.

There are so many beautiful sights in the cemetery, I could have taken so many more pictures. It's such a strange place, so odd to see such huge memorials, and such old memorials. I wished I'd brought my drawing things with me, first thing I thought when I saw the sculpture for today's picture was that I wanted to draw it.

This was a lovely little grave, understated, and tucked away in the corner behind much larger ones. There were pictures of the two women, together and separate, I imagine they were grandparent and grandchild. I wonder whether this was a sad coincidence or a much sadder tragedy. It was beautiful and colourful and in such a pretty spot. I hope Juliette and Germaine approve.

I found myself walking along a path overlooking graves but with none immediately on it. It was here that I nodded a 'Bonsoir' to a gentlemen walking past and suddenly found myself in a (stilted) french conversation about the cemetery, it's beauty, Oscar Wilde and how to get out. My french is not exactly bad, but it's only good when I have time to think about it, i.e. not in a conversation with a real live french person who doesn't speak english. I think I did well. I carried on a little further, and during a pause to look out at the view heard this little fella above rustling around making a nest. I stayed watching him for ages, so I felt he deserved a mention.

I loved seeing the really old graves with new flowers placed on them. I imagine some were significant people of their era, but I prefer the notion that someone felt they deserved to be remembered that day.

After heading back to the flat and changing, Nich and I headed out again for dinner. She took me to a wonderful fondue place in Montmartre, where wine is served in baby bottles (something to do with a tax on glasses) and you have to climb over the table to sit half the people down. It was a fun evening, meeting some of Nich's friends and some of their friends!

Fondue consumed, we were led to a place called the People's Drugstore, where they have a huge array of beers and an insta-cooler. You choose your beer and they cool it for you there and then. I can't remember exactly what I had, but it involved cardamon. It was here that we met our first new best friends of the night, Nicolas and Victoire. They were fun. They introduced us to their friend Antoine, who took us to another bar where we met another best friend, Caroline. Caroline was fun also, and introduced us to her friend Bruno. We took them another place where we met yet more best friends, but I don't remember their names.

After a very fun evening Nich and I headed home. Where it became not fun. Not at all.



Day 52 - Sacré Couer

21st February 2013

I woke up briefly when Nich did and then was far too comfy to get up. I had thought half heartedly that I was going to get up and make the most of the day. I decided that I was on holiday and that meant I was legally obliged to lie in, so I did. It was snuggly.
I eventually got up and headed out, not very sure where I was planning to go. Nich lives in Père Lachaise, so I popped into the cemetery for a little wander round. It's too beautiful.

I decided that I didn't want to commit to my full wander today so I headed out after a short meander. Beautiful place though, I could spend hours there.

After my short wander, I decided to head to the Sacré Couer. It's a lovely place to sit and be, and it was a beautiful day for just such an endeavour. I headed over and walked up incredibly s l o w l y. I had walked up to the top when I was in Paris in November and barely noticed the views at the top because I was just dying from death. So this time I was determined that I was going to amble and amble I did. I passed the harp player you see at the top for today's picture and he was playing so beautifully I could have fallen asleep right there. In a good way.
At the almost top I stopped for a sit down and a good old look at the world. As I did, the man you can see through the gap, wearing the hat, came and sat down next to me and we started chatting. His name was Marc ("With a C, not a K!) and he was a designer who had studied as an architect and decided that it wasn't for him. He then worked in lots of places all over the world, but had to come back to Paris. He told me that liked the colour of my eyes and thought it would look good to decorate a market. Well that's just what I thought. After telling me that working with children is an honourable job, that if I just moved to Paris I would find love instantly and to go and see all sorts of sights in Montmartre, I thanked him for his illuminating chatter and headed off up to see the church. I had to get a picture of him! Thank you for the chat Marc!

After a wander round the church I headed off to find some food. I had a little look at some other restaurants, but decided I was going to go into the place I'd been in November. I was sat down and promptly served my wine and steak haché and beautiful wonderful bread. I yummed it up and then hoovered down a crème brûlée, the one dessert that will sway me away from chocolate. I was incredibly content there...I sat having a read and leisurely ate my lunch. Made me feel like I would definitely be a Lady What Lunches if I were rich enough. 

Lunch finished, I headed down through Montmartre, stopping to take my only picture of the real Tour Eiffel. 

Here we have the most underwhelming (I'm making it a word) sight in Paris. I first saw the Moulin Rouge (the real life one) nearly 7 years ago after falling in love with the film. I was as let down then as I am now. I know that glittery paint isn't the most practical, but still. Sigh. I've yet to go to the show, but I've heard it's worth the price. Maybe one day. 

Not quite sure what to do with myself now, and feeling kinda chilly, I just got on the metro and decided on a place once on board. Turns out it was Notre Dame. It was really quite windy and cold by the time I arrived, so the vague idea that I might head up to the top disappeared instantly. There was a sort of..platform set up in front, I think maybe for some shows or similar. I huddled myself into a corner and people watched for awhile. 


I saw all sorts of people doing similar things to those in the photo below. They were highly amusing, and I could have watched them all day. Even better, just after I left here I saw a small group of tourists, all in their 50s or 60s, doing Gangnam Style. Brilliant.

Shortly after I left Notre Dame I decided to head home. It was too cold to hang about any longer and Nich was wending her weary way their too. We had some more delicious dinner and even more delicious wine and tried once again to watch the Runaway Bride. This time, we succeeded.


Day 51 - Paris

20th February 2013

I have returned from Paris with many a story to tell. I'm going to keep them to the days they happened on to avoid any confusion, mainly my own.

Wednesday morning I got up, bleary eyed and extremely excited, at 6am and headed off to Victoria Coach Station at 7am. This involved getting the district line which makes me extremely unhappy. It's just so slow and long and also quite slow and long. This wasn't over as quickly as I'd have liked, but soon enough I was trundling through Victoria. I stopped at Sainsbury's to grab some provisions - orange juice, twiglets, pomegranate seeds - and then arrived at departures. I was checked in fairly quickly and able to get myself into an excellent position for prime coach seats, second away from the door. My english queuing sensibilities were greatly offended when a man went through a different door and across the forecourt to get to the coach quicker, but never you worry, I made sure I was both ahead of him and that he caught my full scorn radiating in waves but with no speck of it showing on my face. It's the British way. 

My excellent pre-planning allowed me to get my preferred spot - about two thirds of the way up the coach, window seat, with the frame of the window aligned with the chair. I was also fortunate enough to get two seats to myself, bliss. We departed on time and I promptly fell asleep until we were almost at Dover. 

Before long we were on the ferry. I hadn't been on a ferry since...I'm not sure. It's either year 11 or year 8, I was trying to remember and failing. Anyone care to enlighten me? It felt like a long long time ago. It was fun, though at points I was not sailing well. Bleurgh. I ended up spending most of the journey standing out the outside deck watching the waves, which was lovely. 

After what seemed an impossibly short time, we were shepherded back into our vehicles and on our way. Again, I managed to sleep for most of the journey. Brilliant. After we entered Paris I started getting messages from Nich telling me of her whereabouts and enquiring into mine.

Nich: I think I'm at the right coach station...I can see a megabus so I assume I'm right.
Me: We're fairly close I fact I think we're there....look up!
Nich: I can see your coach!
Me: Look up woman!! *waving like a madwoman*
Nich: Steph, the windows are blacked out
Me: Well that's just great.

I got out of the coach, grabbed my case and only just resisted running towards my spouse. We hugged for a very very long time, then headed off to the metro and home. A short stop was made at the shops for cheese and hot dogs, then a lovely tomatoey, hot doggy, pasta-y yummy dinner. Plus some wine. Mmm. 

After I snapped my picture of Nich's ultra trendy Eiffel Tower, it occured to us that we were both very very tired, so we whacked on Runaway Bride and settled down into bed. Nich was asleep by the wedding videos, I was asleep by the time they bought the wedding dress. 

It was a long day but I was just SO happy to be in Paris with my Nichy Pants. Bring on Thursday...!


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Day 50 - Tex-Mex

19th February 2013

I got up earlyish this morning, and headed back up to London. I'm off to Paris tomorrow and had lots to sort out. I popped into town and got my Euros and then back home to pack. I didn't do well, took ages.

After packing and leaping through a shower I set off for Notting Hill to meet Samantha and Chris for pre-cinema food. We settled on a tacky looking Tex Mex spot who said they were going to give us a free margherita with our meal. Can't beat an offer like that. The food was good, though fairly indistinguishable, the margherita was YUMMY.

Food was consumed and a quick drink followed, then we set off for the cinema. We were going to see Argo, a film I hadn't really heard much about, so I was looking forward to it.

I really enjoyed it. I have just finished reading Shappi Khorsandi's book this weekend, so the revolution in Iran was something that was already in my mind. It was such an unbelievable thing to read about in the book, and then being faced with it in the film made it all too real for me. Afterwards, as we walked down the street, I imagined for a second being terrified to be on the streets, worrying for my life. It brought home to be how unbelievably lucky I am to live in London at the time I do, even to be alive at the time I am. It's a good film, a great book, and a fascinating piece of history that I intend to delve further into.

Back home now, it is time for bed. I have an early coach to Paris and Nichola tomorrow! I will not be able to update until Sunday now, so expect another flurry of updates then...

Until that time,

Fais de beaux rêves mes amis!


Day 49 - Nephew

18th February 2013

Very serious is Joe. Not to say he doesn't laugh and joke and play, he tells some brilliant jokes and hearing him laugh when I tickle him is music to my ears. But Joe is very interested in how things work and why they work, and is often asking me questions that I just don't know the answer to.

JoJo has always been this way. When he was about two...if not younger...he could say "International Space Station" that it was in "orbit" and that orbit meant "it goes round and round". He now devours books and encyclopaedias, and has been known to fall asleep, glasses askew, with an A-Level Chemistry revision book open on his chest.

At lunch on Sunday he decided we should have a quiz, and came out with this blinder of a question "Which element is in group 2, can be made into rods, has killed people and is used in products like toothpaste and hand cream?" It's Radium. I wouldn't have known half of that. Certainly wouldn't have said Radium. We no longer stare in shock when he says things like this, everyone laughs in disbelief and knows that this is classic JoJo. At lunch today he was asking me about how some insects could walk on water, so we were explaining about surface tension. The wonderful thing about Joe is that you can explain anything to him and there is no need to dumb it down. He'll tell you if he doesn't understand, and it's not very common that he has to do that. He's a little sponge.

Joe was my first little nibling, I can't believe how grown up he is now. He will be 7 in July, and I just can't quite fathom it. He will always be my darling little baby JoJo who threw up on me from height on Boxing Day and used my chin to teethe.

I love you to the moon and back JoJo! I'm so proud to be Auntie to such a smart, clever and funny little boy, and love that I can still call you my favourite nephew! You lovely lovely boy you!


P.S. There will be fewer 'darlings' now. I just can't help but use that word for my babies, they are just TOO darling!!

Day 48 - Nieces

17th February 2013

Keira loved the other babies being around her. They loved her just as much.

These are my darling three nieces, Ruthie who is nearly 5, Susie who is about 18 months, and Keira who is almost 3 months. I could not love my little girlies any more. 

Ally, whose wedding you saw my RSVP to, often says to me "Being an Auntie is your favourite thing in the world isn't it?" She's right. I love being an Auntie, and who wouldn't, when I have these wonderful girls, not to mention a little boy who never ceases to amaze me. 

The whole family were together for a little celebration for my brother. It's one of my real happy places, being with everyone I love so much. I get hugs on tap from the girls (as boy is far too cool for more than allowing himself to be hugged unless I demand a squeezy hug. Then he gives it some.) 

This is a photo my Dad took, I adore it! He is the reason my brother and I became interested in photography. Thank you so much Papa, best present you could ever give me!!

 My little Susie Sue absolutely adored her baby cousin, and could not stop hugging her and kissing her and generally being near her. Susie is at a stage where she is an absolute chatterbox, not necessarily everything she says is a word but she certainly knows how to hold court. She has new words every day, and was saying "Keya" in the sweetest little voice. I got a "Guppy" for Stephie, which I love! I've had different names from each nibling; Joe called me something that sounded a bit like "Tophie", Ruthie preferred "Ste-" and now I have "Guppy". I wonder what Keira will give me?

Ruthie Pi adores her little sister and baby cousin, and takes such wonderful care of them. She is the kindest, sweetest little girl in the world, and she certainly knows how to make you feel loved. As they were leaving after dinner on Sunday she said to me "I will definitely see you tomorrow won't I? Because I love you too much!" Doesn't your heart melt? When she had to leave the next day she was quite upset, which in turn upset me. I miss my little darlings so much when I go back up to London.

Ruthie, Susie and Keira, my loveliest of little girlies, Auntie Stephie loves you so so so so SO much and I can't wait to see you all again very very soon for a certain little Pi's birthday!

Auntie Stephie


Day 47 - KeiraKoo

16th February 2013

This weekend's posts will be heavily nibling based, fair warning.

This is my darling littlest niece, Keira. Keira will be three months old on Sunday. Isn't she just too adorable? Her little cheeks are just too kissable and her smiles light up my entire world.

Saturday morning I woke up full of cold. The whole week I had been suffering with a cough, but that was it. This morning it turned into cold, I woke up all snotty and headachey and bleuuurggghhh. First thing I had when I got downstairs was a lemsip.

I perked up after awhile so my parents and I headed out to get some lunch in a lovely pub in Bearsted. It was a tasty meal, and a pretty little pub. I might bring some friends there soon, though as it sits opposite a certain pie shop, I think they'll be more interested in popping across the road.

Later that afternoon my brother and his little family appeared at Pogles. It is the hardest thing in the world to say the words "Would anyone else like a cuddle?" when you have the nephew and nieces I have. It has never got any easier. They are just too wonderful for words.

Look at that lovely girlie...isn't it sad to know you will never be that comfortable again? Sorry to bring that crashing realisation.



Day 46 - Pogles

15th February 2013

Hello again! Hasn't it been a long time? It feels like a terribly long time. I was back in Kent this weekend to celebrate my brother's birthday, and so took my pictures but did not upload them.

It was a wonderful weekend, and you'll read all about it in the posts for each day, calm yourself.

After school finished on Friday I came home and had a massive cup of tea. I had a little sit down and then cracked on with getting myself sorted to come home. Samantha was hitching a ride and we had decided to wait and go a bit later to avoid some traffic. We set off at 19:51, on a good day it takes 90 minutes(ish) to get back.

It was not a good day. It took us an hour to make it halfway along the M4 to the M25 exit due to an accident closing two lanes. I feel we made the most of it though. We whacked on some tunes and sang our little hearts out. Well, originally, we were singing our little hearts out. Then we added some slight movement. Then slighter larger movement. Then it became 'how much can we entertain other drivers'. We were sat in stationary traffic for long periods of time, don't worry about our safety, dear reader. It was great fun to see people double take at our singing and dancing, and joy of joys when we got a thumbs up and a grin from one guy.

After the traffic started moving again we stopped. Well, stopped dancing, there's not much that will stop me signing in the car.

Eventually, a lot of tunes, a Samantha dropped home and 3 hours later, I trudged up the steps to Pogles. There are a lot of steps at Pogles. I was happy to find the back door unlocked. For my entire life we've used the door at the back of the house in the kitchen as the main entry point for all family and friends. Those who knew Pogles knew we used that door. Then Mum and Dad got this crazy idea of cleaning out the porch so we could use our front door for more than the post, so now that's the door. I can't get used to it, I will always head out to the kitchen to leave the house and have to turn back on myself. My key to the house is to the back door and I'm not giving it up!

After a little glass of wine and a chat to the rents, I headed upstairs to bed. The photo for today is of my bedroom door, and a little slice of my bedroom with its wondrous memory foam mattress. I can't remember how long ago it was that I stuck this keypad to the door. Dad had it and didn't need it, I thought it looked awesome. I still think it does, I love it. It has worked in my favour as well with little niblings being unable to punch in the correct code to get in and wake me up, mwahaha.

It did not take long to sleep at all that night.


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Day 45 - Not that day.

14th February 2013

Yes it is that day. Yes, I did get a Valentine, presented to me by shyly by a little boy in Nursery, and it's the best I've ever received. If this is the best I can ever hope for, then I think I'm sorted.


Otherwise, today did not stand out in any way. After work I went to meet a friend briefly who was selling me a new iPhone 5, to replace the one that was stolen a few months ago. I am very happy to be back up to where I was with my Apple technology, my home button on the 4 was driving me nuts. 

After a lot of walking back and forth looking for somewhere that could give me a nano sim, I picked up my brother's birthday present and headed to Poundland to get some vital resources for school...along with some mini eggs. This is where I intended to liaise with Samantha, who had forgotten the reason I suggested we meet was that we both needed to go to Poundland. She went before meeting me and ended up waiting by the tube. Foolish. It was not all in vain however, we managed to coincide with Lynsey coming home from work, so we popped into the Bull for a drink. 

I enjoyed this, I used to spend a lot more time at the Bull and I enjoy it as a pub. Another reason I enjoyed this was that it counts as a thing I think I would have thought as a child that grown ups do - drink on a school night. I know every so often I'll have some beer or wine at home after work, last night was such an example. But actually being 'out' and having a drink. That just screams adulthood to younger Steph, and as the rest of growing up is pretty rubbish I feel like I should throw her a bone every now and then. 

We arrived back home and watched I Love You Phillip Morris. It's enjoyable, give it a watch. I had a pleasant evening...I even had another cider - exhibit A. Couldn't find the regular bottle opener so I had to use the one that's there for emergencies, and it ripped a chunk out of the bottle, so I had to have it from a glass. I prefer it from the bottle when I'm at home. Just the way it is. 

Now, it is time for bed. One more get up, and it will be half term. I am going back to Kent tomorrow, YAY! Not sure what this means for photo uploads, as I use my desktop for this. Not sure the laptop could cope. We shall see. That's a bit of excitement for you there isn't it eh?



Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Day 44 - You can't fill a hat with maybes

13th February 2013

First things first...

Happy Birthday to my wonderful big brother, Stu! Here he is in the middle, with my sister and I, taking wonderful care of me then as he does now. I often make fun of his age as he is 10 years older than matter what age I am I'll never feel old cause Stu's always there being +10. I contemplated putting a highly embarrassing picture of d'Styu here, and believe me there are plenty to choose from, but decided to be a kind little sister this time. I'll have my chance later on this year I'm sure. I settled for a cute picture of us three siblings above, and a lovely one of him and his completely adorable and tiny and sweet and squishy and beautiful little daughter, Keira, below. Some say I'm biased as an Auntie, but I can't help it that my nephew and nieces are the most perfect beings ever created can I? I couldn't lie.

So yes, Happy Birthday big bro! I have Stu to thank for showing me how much fun photography can be, you should go and look at his pictures here. Seriously talented.

Without him, you may have never seen today's picture which I'm sure has changed your life.

Awhile ago whilst stumbling through the internet I found a link to a page of phrases that sound like clichés but aren't. Samantha and I fell in love with them and have been quoting them at each other every so often. Today they popped up again in conversation, so we looked them up and laughed all over again. The thing that amuses us most is saying them and pulling various faces at the same time to go with whatever inflection you are giving the phrase. We decided they needed to be put up somewhere, so shortly afterwards I found a pen and some paper and now these are up on my bedroom door for all to see.

After standing in front of my room for another forty minutes or so, still discussing the phrases, we started making up our own which is just as, if not more, amusing. You should do it. It will enrich your life. If there's one thing I enjoy, it's enriching lives.

I am off to sleep now. I have only two more get ups before half term, and I absolutely can't wait. It's time now.


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Day 43 - Alien Placenta Day

February 12th 2013

Happy Pancake Day!

Today's celebration of all things cooked in a frying pan ready to be smothered in Nutella or lemon juice and sugar coincided with my turn to cook dinner. This week we had a guest of honour Nick, Zuzi's boyf, as the two are off to Venice tomorrow and need to stay here and my flat is close to good tube lines to Heathrow. Not for Valentine's Day I hasten to add. They just happen to be there over that particular day. Whatever the reason, it was a fun evening, we like Nick.

I made them spinach and ricotta cannelloni, and I actually made it. I got in from work and wilted spinach like a mad lady, and made quite a passable dinner. There were only a few hair tearing moments, when I couldn't find a bowl that would fit my spinach and ricotta mix, and later when the pepper was nowhere to be found. Lynsey came home and found it under the kitchen table. Cause that's where it's usually kept. Cough.

We enjoyed our dinner and our sparkling wine, and eventually headed over to the kitchen to make pancakes. When I went shopping yesterday for ingredients I had intended to make pancakes the good old fashioned way, but then Aunt Bessie's was on offer and I reasoned I wouldn't finish the eggs before I went away.

Still not sure what it was, but it took a long time before we had anything vaguely resembling a pancake. We had a few things resembling Alien Placentas, which we definitely have seen and know exactly what they look like. Bex, Zuzi and I all had a go and failed miserably, so left it up to Nick who produced us some pancakes. Alongside some Chai Lattes it was a pretty tasty pudding.

Zuzi here demonstrates some excellent batter pouring. I apologise for the state of my hob. It had just had tomato sauce cooked on it, and I managed to splat one of the tomatoes up the wall. I am an exuberant cook at times.

Bex here shows a promising start. It was not to last.

Bex having a go on my camera "Hey, why does it always take two pictures?" "You're just holding the button down..."

I had a fun evening and look forward to the next meal, in a fortnight or so, at Bex's. Though this does mean a journey to Leytonstone and back for me. Long. At least Ealing is at the end of the line.

Night all,



Monday, 11 February 2013

Day 42 - My Marilyn

11th Feburary 2013

I had expected to have a lovely photo today, as until about 8:15 I thought I would be meeting two darlings, Bex and Kyle, for dinner or at least a coffee. However, I got into work and was reminded that we had a Twilight - INSET training after school. These are good in that we have a few of these over the course of the year and can end the year earlier. They do tend to sneak up on me though. I had rushed out of the flat with half my coat on and a scarf trailing behind me, only to realise I had forgotten my camera. I dashed back upstairs and grabbed it and hurried out again. Doh.

So, instead of coffee with lovelies, I came home and went almost straight back out again to get some food shopping, and components of the meal I'm making tomorrow - it's my turn to host.

Samantha and I headed out to Asda and, as ever, could not resist a quick look through the sale rack. Here I found first the dress, the dotty bit, then was directed to the jumper. I love the jumper.

I have two theories as to why I'm so enamoured with it. The first is that I like green and excitement. The second is that it reminds me of a jumper my mum used to have. It was almost this exact shade, and it feels identical to my memory, the weight of it is the same, only difference is Mum's had Marilyn Monroe on it (I think...siblings or parents, feel free to correct). I love the feeling thinking about that jumper gives reminds me of being a wee little girly and having cuddles with mama, being carried places. My brain thinks I remember Mum having a perm with it, but I'm almost certain that's just something I think because I've seen pictures of her in such a state.

Hopefully when wearing this jumper I will be able to channel such feelings once more, because they're nice.....excuse me, I have to go fight the urge to make myself a cup of hot milk and beg for just one more hug from someone.


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Day 41 - Chinese New Year

10th February 2013

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Happy Chinese New Year!

Today I headed out with my darling friend Bex and her housemates to Chinatown for Chinese New Year. We had at first aimed for Trafalgar Square as there was a big stage and lots going on. Our plans were thwarted slightly due to the consistent, utterly miserable, typically English rain. Everyone had their umbrellas out and we couldn't see a thing, especially Bex who is another of my teeny tiny friends.

In Chinatown we were generally squished and squeezed on all sides by the huge crowds there. We heard the drums and saw an occasional flash of a Lion doing a dance, but could never shift ourselves to get a proper look, which was a little sad. After awhile we inevitably succumbed to the desire for Chinese food, unsurprisingly every restaurant had a massive queue out the door. We wandered around briefly and then decided that as everywhere had a queue we might has well just pick one and get in it. So we did. Unfortunately for us, after about ten/fifteen minutes of waiting people started pouring back out of the restaurant saying that the kitchen had blown up. Our view of the restaurant showed us the kitchen and that that wasn't entirely true, but soon we were informed that there was in fact a small fire going on and the premises had to be evacuated. There wasn't much room to evacuate to as a Lion had just started dancing in front of the restaurant opposite, so we just lurked a little and tried to decide which queue might suit us better this time. It was at this point that the fire brigade turned up. We were squished and squeezed further, but happily this time, to a slightly quieter spot.

We waited briefly at our new chosen eatery before being seated swiftly. Thank you small fire at the last place! This place was yummy, and I will be going back. It was called Four Seasons (imaginative) if you are ever stuck trying to choose a place.

This is some cabbage hanging from the doorway of our restaurant. From what I gathered from the little old lady passing by who saw us looking at it, the cabbage symbolises fortune, as the two words sound similar. In the Lion dance the Lion jumps up, eats the cabbage, then spits it out, collecting the red envelope which contains money. This symbolises luck and fortune for the business. We were sat too far back in the restaurant to see this happening, I'm quite sad I missed it.

After our meal Bex and I decided to head home, going opposite directions at Oxford Circus. I reached Ealing Broadway, which was full of police and ambulances and had to navigate around a lot of them to get home. It was pouring and the wind was blowing. I decided rather than get annoyed by the wind blowing my umbrella inside out, I would get myself a coffee and enjoy walking home in the rain, surrendering to the fact that I was going to get wet. It was quite nice. I came in and had a lovely long read in a very hot bath and am now settling down with the housemates to watch Bridesmaids. 
A good weekend I think. Only five more days left to power through before it's half term...



Saturday, 9 February 2013

Day 40 - Rain Room

9th February 2013

I got up very early for a Saturday. It was almost painful. Before all of you with children tell me I don't know I'm born....sssh. I like sleep. 

We got up and headed out, later than expected, to go queue at the Barbican to see the Rain Room. As soon as we arrived I noted the poor queuing structure and how deeply uneasy it made me. People just seemed to be all over the place, and there were nowhere near enough barriers to prevent those with a shallow sense of morals just skipping over. Someone did it right in front of us. Fuming we were. Of course, we said nothing. We just thought about saying something.

Our queuing adventure lasted about three and a half hours before we got in. We got a lot of reading done and had a little bit too much coffee and a lot of running back and forth to the loo. At one point, near the end, we were doing our favourite bottom burp impressions. It was brilliant. 

We finally got in, and it was definitely worth the wait. For those of you who haven't heard of the Rain Room, it's an art installation. You walk into this room type...thing...and it's absolutely pouring in there. But it won't rain on you. There are sensors, so as you walk through it the rain stops. There are stray droplets, but I can handle those. Except the one that got me right in the eye, ow. It's pretty beautiful in there, I could have stayed in there for hours. No one rushes you out, but having waited 210ish minutes we were conscious that some of the people waiting in the queue might hate us entirely. 
Floodsy's in spaaace...
Stephie's in Spay-ee-ace...
We left, reluctantly, and found Lynsey to head over to a Vintage fair in Shoreditch. We are definitely cool enough for that. It wasn't completely brilliant, but I did find some pretty earrings and Lynsey a couple of dresses. The best part of the experience were the tea and cakes.

Hummunah. The buttercream was godly. The tea was from a teapot! In teacups! I was so so happy. I should make pots of tea more. We finally made it back to the flat with hair all crazy from random drops of Rain Room rain, then some of that rain that makes you slightly damp right down to your soul.

Having quoted it all day, we are now settling down to watch Garth Marenghi. Watch it. It's so worth your while.



These are our "we're nearly at the front!" faces.