Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Hey Baby
You've really got my tail in a spin

Life is a roller coaster...

My mate Ronan sang that.

That is how its been for me the last few days. I spent one night in Bethnal Green with the Evans and lovely Millie the hound. Then, on to Shadwell to meet one of my heroines of the faith, Kathryn Copsey, who had agreed to have me hang around with her for a few days. I had such an awesome time and met some incredible people. I am still rollercoastering a bit and not quite lucid enough to write here, and will also write something on the Vineyard thoughts section (censored by DH, although he puts my stuff up verbatim).

On the tube I read the freebie Metro, went online and entered a competition (in R's name, as was trying to win him a trip on a Southern ocean yacht). I won, well, R won, a year's membership to LA Fitness. Which means he can save £35 a month on Platinum and kiss BLC goodbye. It makes more sense for him to do it as there is one in Fareham, and I need to use the creche facility offered by Platinum. How cool is that?

Today I have entered a competition to win some snow boots (come in handy in Hampshire) and 2 tickets to watch Saints vs Norwich. Watch this space. I may be gone from it some time if the snow boots come in adult sizes.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Recent trends towards upmarket living:

1. I visited Waitrose in Portswood on Sunday. Its like a different world. Full of blonde and beautiful people, like Steve and Elaine, deciding between sushi or tapas. Not between a sausage roll or a pork pie, as per our lovely local Co-op. It was the first time I had been shopping in Portswood for over 3 years, and prior to that I had frequented it often, as it was on the bus route from our old house and has a fine charity shop selection.

2. I did charity shopping today in Lyndhurst, a fabulous find in the Shaw Trust shop. Also bought floss in a chemist that employed smartly turned out ladies in suits, not white overalls. I had run out, and as I had visited my dentist in Shirley the day before, I felt compelled. The dentist, this time an Iranian German young lady with conversational English explained why I only ever see the same dentist once. They all come on one year contracts, and I only go every 9 months to a year. Booked in for another visit before she returns to darkest Peru, and I get another male dentist who can not understand me or talk to me and tells me by stabbing and grunting that I need more fillings.

Shirley was as good as ever, but sadly did not have time to browse. It has a flourishing range of Polish shops, which I like, including a Polish hairdresser. It is an incredible shopping centre, dare I say its better than Bitterne? Yes. The truth is out. You can buy sharps, blunts, grinders and other more everyday things in Shirley.

Number 3 on my list of being posh: I have been using the steam room and sauna at The Quays. I know, I know, shame on me for rejecting the verucca pit of beloved Bitterne.

Today I cycled in the rain to nursery, then did a swim and sauna steam sesh at lunchtime at the Quays, and then while H had her swimming lesson at BLC I popped in the gym there for a few reps. We got the bus to and from Bitterne, which cost £3.20. That is a ridiculous price for such a short journey, and prevents anyone from Thornhill with children over 5 from accessing the delights of Bitterne Leisure Centre unless they are made of money (in which case they would drive or live in Highfield).

Fourth posh thing - Ang and I went for lunch at John Lewis. I used to go in there loads with H when it was just me and her, but since A been around I not been there more than a handful of times. Maybe something to do with their different temperaments? We had omlettes. Again, I felt like a fish out of water - no savoury pasties in sight.

Our lovely housemate Amanda is moving out tomorrow, she has had a really quick offer from the YMCA and is off - all packed, room bare. It feels rushed and sad, the girls are sad to see her go, she is excited but scared, we were expecting a few more weeks before she was off. She has blessed us immensely and I think we have been pretty good for her too. Taught her to cook a few things but not resolved her burning toast habit. Bought her a toaster tonight so she can continue in perfecting the setting off the smoke alarm daily test routine.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Toad in the hole was fine, thanks to those who asked. Goose went down well with A, but not H.
We visited Kew Gardens over Christmas, using one of my money saving expert tips of buying a £1.50 train ticket from the nearest station to Kew, and then showing it to get 2 adults in for the price of 1, thus saving ourselves £11. We took sandwiches and spent most of the day in the 'Creepers and Crawlers' indoor play area, which H, A and their little cousin Angus tested out to the limit. We did do the tropical house and fish, mainly for my benefit, I love being inside those tropical greenhouses on freezing cold days, it is worth going to Kew just for that. We also spent a good half hour in the bamboo section, hunting for pandas.

We did not go to the ice skating, I am too stingy to pay the money they require for half an hour of grim holding on for dear life and A looking forlorn. R did take her ice skating on the Isle of Wight in February, and he said she was just too small to enjoy it. I do recall it being fun going to Richmond ice rink as a teenager, but the best bit was always when you took the skates off and your feet felt like you were walking on cushions. And if an experience is most enjoyable because of the pleasure of not doing it, then is it worth doing, I ask?

I don't think the whole of the Isle of Wight was an ince rink, in February, btw. It was a proper indoor ice rink, one of Ryde's entertainment offerings.

Apart from seeing our delightful family and seeing the girls' pleasure at their presents (favourite quotes: Wow! An umbrella! Just what I asked for - H and Some sunflower seeds! I have always wanted some of these! - A) the highlight of our Christmas trip to Surrey this year was our stay at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. The gym and swim pool on the top floor overlooked Hyde Park, and it looked magical as there was a fair with a Ferris wheel and Helter skelter, all lit up and very beautiful at dusk. We spent ages in the gym and pool on our arrival, wisely before we drank the champagne that was part of our stay - it was one of my competition wins, you will recall. I was back in the morning for another workout and swim, this time with the pool to myself - the day before it was rather littered with American and French children. Not that I have anything against them, just when you have left your own darlings at home its nice to have some peace for once! We checked out Harrods and Harvey Nicks, they were just down the road and it was the first day of the sales, an experience we couldn't not do, dahling! Obviously didn't buy anything, just admired the ceilings in Harrods and used the first class loos in HN. There are sad and lonely people in all walks of life, and a fair few staying at The Berkeley, with more cash to splash on a weekend than some of my friends would spend on food in a year. Money can't buy you love, but it can buy you the feeling of being looked after, which the hotel staff did very well. However, not as well as the staff at the Princess Anne hospital, which would still win my vote for hospitality. Glad I didn't win a night's stay there though. Gym not so good.

Straight back to reality with a workout at Bitterne Leisure Centre on Sunday. R went yesterday, and did a 34 mile cycle in the afternoon. He is planning to do a 100 mile cycle ride in September, and so is starting training now. I did not join him, and do not intend doing so. We did enjoy a walk along the seafront at Lee, with very mild weather and no wind meaning I could enjoy being by the sea in the winter without wearing a hat and ear muffs. More of an amble than a walk, we did about 200m, found a playpark, and then picked up shells and slid across rocks for an hour.

I don't usually tell you about my TV viewing habits, but I particularly enjoyed the Extras special, which was so painful in places I had to shut my eyes. Same for the Dragons Den special, where they reshowed all the most cringey ones, when you are shouting at the telly. Fab. If I could think of anything to invent I would go on, but am glad to say I can't think of anything, and have no desire to be an entrepeneur anymore.

One really bizarre thing that happened on Christmas Eve, R and I went for a walk around the commons of Claygate, about 3 or 4 miles I guess, through fields and woods countryside, which would be peaceful if someone hadn't built the A3 through it. Anyway, at the point furthest away from any houses, and when we had only seen a couple of dog walkers up till then, we saw, further up the track, a bloke collecting logs in a wheelbarrow. We followed him for a bit, and then he had gone. It really was quite a way from anywhere to make it worth going out with a wheelbarrow to get logs that had been sawn off a tree by the side of the path. Reminded me of the 'poor man gathering winter fuuuu el' that Good King Wenceslas came across.