Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Office Christmas Party

You don't remember getting in, you can tell by the way your eyes are stuck together that you didn't remove your false lashes, let alone your make up, you are definitely going to spontaneously combust if you attempt to move and yet at the same time if you don't get a drink right now you are going to start sipping your nail varnish remover.  So far so bad.  And then.  And then you remember.  You are going to have to hand in your notice, move house and have plastic surgery. Yep, it's the morning after the Office Christmas Party. Dun Dun Dun (dramatic music, work with me here).  As a warning to you all I am going to share my most shameful Office Christmas Party story.  Christ, I am blushing already!!

Now as you would appreciate this sordid affair happened a very very long time ago, right back when I was 19.  1985 to be exact, yea yea laugh it up.  So starting at the very beginning I was doing a Youth Training Scheme - basically I worked 40 hrs a week for our Local Authority for the princely sum of £25 a week.  The benefit to me was that I gained "experience" (and then some, but not quite what the Government had in mind I suspect) and the benefit to them was, well manifold to be fair - cheap labour being the least of it.  My boss was a rather terrifying lady who when she liked you was your best mate and when she did not was the scariest fricken woman I have ever met.  She never really liked me.  At the time I really didn't understand why.  Now, I do.  A (as we shall call her cos I can't be arsed typing Annette continually) would have been in her mid to late 30's I think, she might even have been older, I never really bothered to think about it at the time.  One day about a week before the xmas party I was summoned to her office.  She was holding a black dress that had thin, widely spaced, straps from the shoulder down the sleeve - an early version of the much admired Liz Hurley safety pin number, but from Dorothy Perkins.  She asked me if I was wearing exactly the same dress to the office party and I confirmed that I was.  She then stared at my chest.  My beautiful, bountiful, super perky chest.  "And are you wearing a bra with it?" she demanded.  Had I been a smidge more savvy my response might have included the words "sexual harassment" but as it was I replied that it would be a crime to encumber such natural exuberance, or something similar.  (I really did have fab boobs back in the day!)  She sort of grunted at me and I considered myself dismissed.  It was only many many years later that I realised that in that moment I was the most hated woman ever.  Can you imagine being late 30's and frankly rather past your prime (she was, I'm not saying it goes with the territory) and knowing that you are going to front up at the office Christmas party in THE SAME DRESS as the 19yr old work experience girl with the fantastic tits?  I can actually feel her pain tbh!

This is not the worst of it.  So the fateful evening arrives, I have added a pair of silk french knickers, fishnet stockings and killer heels to the dress.  You know what, my mum was convinced I was a virgin til the day I married, reading back that sentence her naivety almost beggars belief doesn't it!!  A  is wearing a strapless bra that has squished what bust she has into an unattractive bolster shape and she is wearing pants, tights, pants on top to hold her tights up and some nice low heeled comfortable shoes (of course I have no idea about the pants/tights/pants combo but its highly likely).  I was single and ready to mingle.  A had brought her fiance.  You may have some idea where this is going round about now!  Sooooo having danced away to Saving All My Love For You, The Sun Always Shines on TV and The Power of Love, having drunk more malibu than anyone sane ever should I find myself being pressed into a dark corner for a long, and as I recall very very VERY nice snog by someone who was quite clearly thoroughly enjoying the experience, if you get my drift.  And when we came up for air my boss, his Fiancee was standing behind us with a face like thunder.  She'it.  Luckily I left the Country 6 months later although the two were unrelated!  (In my defence I suspect with hindsight that she probably did rather well out of it, as Tom Jones once said - I pumped up the tyres, but she got to ride the bike.)

So let that be a warning to you, Office Party's are inherently fraught with danger!  I can't be the only one though, surely?  I would LOVE  to hear your most shameful office party experience - are  you brave enough to share, oh and if you want to go anon please do!!

Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas Tree Friday

Since Emily and Tom were really little Christmas Tree Friday has been a big family tradition in our house.  Nineteen years since we had our first child and now our entire Christmas is chock full of strongly upheld family traditions to be honest.
 Christmas 2011-1

Back in the day daddy would load the car with 2 littles and a wodge of cash and the warning not to come home with anything too big and away they'd go the three of them giggling in their collusion.  I'd stay at home and vacuum the lounge ready for our new arrival, get the wrapped presents out of hiding and on our bed ready to be ceremoniously carried through and put under the tree and in charge of refreshments; a beer for daddy and hot chocolate for the littles.  Often an hour later they'd return with some behemoth of a tree lashed to the roof, bright red cheeks, runny noses and shiny eyes - and that was just daddy.  Then there'd be the song and dance of getting the ruddy great tree into the house followed by yet more vacuuming to get up the pine needles that someone was already crying about having stood on.  In the very early years Em and Tom were allowed to hand me the decorations and I would apply them to the tree, which would remain tastefully tinsel free.  I decided that each year the kids would be able to buy one bauble each so that by the time they were grown ups with kids of their own the tree would be decorated in baubles that had some history and meaning, I even planned to buy a note book and write down who picked which bauble and in which year, I bitterly regret not doing that now, how lovely would that have been?  That said the majority of the baubles are still the ones that they have picked over the years.  As the kids got older they were allowed to decorate the tree, so we had 37 baubles at 3' and 37 more at 2' and I had to go into the garage and swig sherry and scream into a pillow.  Then once they had gone to bed I'd "fix" the tree. Control freak.

Christmas 2011-7

Usually the tree would go up on the last Friday before Christmas, this year due to having a million and one things to do in the run up to Christmas we have decided that it has to be a week earlier.  It's such a big deal to Em that she has taken the day off!  This year Tom wont be going along to purchase the tree as he is in college and I have to stay here because we have guests due to arrive throughout the day so Steve and Em will go off for a bit of father daughter bonding and tree purchasing.  One of our other family traditions is that each year I would decorate the table for Christmas dinner with a different colour theme, always a secret that wasn't revealed until they all came through for dinner.  Some years this worked better than others.  One year I went for jewel colours on a white cloth, bought fantastic jewel toned napkins and crackers, filled little glass jars with colour glass dragees and scattered more glass dragees over the table.  In real life, by candlelight it was magical and very opulent looking.  On Boxing day when we sat down to watch our Christmas day video my beautiful scattered dragees looked exactly as if the table was swarming with cockroaches - not quite the look I had been going for!  Now that Em is grown up she joins in with the table planning and as we have decided on this years colour theme she is in charge of sourcing anything she can for the table today too whilst she is out with her dad.  Two years ago Christmas Tree Friday was a very drunken affair, Em and I did the tree along with a bottle of prosecco and moved onto the amaretto all the while singing carols at the top of our voices, Steve and Tom were delighted.  
 Christmas 2011-6
(the ultimate bokeh pic? apart from the fact that there is no focal point!)

Last year our Christmas was a very low key affair, we had hoped to be out of the guest house and in our new home for Christmas, until the purchasers pulled out on 6th December, I was beyond heart broken at the realisation that I wasn't finally going to live a normal life only sharing my home with my immediate family rather than a procession of strangers and that we would be working 7 days a week for several more years and we were going to a wedding in Ireland on Boxing Day so there didn't seem much point in spending a great deal of time decorating the house.  We did have Christmas Tree Friday and the tree looked beautiful but the joy was missing.  This year we have picked ourselves up, come to terms with staying at the guest house and are determined that this is going to be our best Christmas ever!

Christmas 2011-8
Thats better!

This post will get photos later this weekend, I'll tweet when I've added them!

 Christmas 2011-5

Friday, 2 December 2011

The shitest of weeks

Bloody hell am I glad to see the back of this week.  

I started off on a major high, Monday evening at Slimming World I got my 1 stone award, won slimmer of the week and slimmer of the month.  I was of course delighted even though that 1st stone is the first of at least several that I could do with losing! 

From there on it has all been down hill.  The company I work for is based in Kent, where we lived until 10 years ago.  Because I freelance when we moved up here from Kent I brought my work with me, lucky me.  I have made friends for life with some of the people that I work with and whilst I see some of them a couple of times a year there are others that I only ever see at out xmas part and I really really miss them.  The Christmas party last year didnt happen because of the snow and given the whole guest house sale falling through on 6th December and me thinking my life had ended I was in no mood to party anyway.  This year I was super excited about the party.  OH and I always make a real treat of it seeing as we get so little time off.  We set off at about 10am, take a bottle of fizz for the room and generally are in Kent by 2pm.  We have a bit of alone time, an absolute rarity, open our fizz and enjoy one anothers company, quick nap, long bath and then all the fun of getting dressed up and ready for a terrific night with our friends.  I love it.  

Spent Tuesday and Wednesday really looking forward to heading down to Kent on Friday.  On Weds eve had a fight with OH. Its not unusual tbh.  On Thursday morning he announced that he wasn't going to go to Kent to go to the party.  You can imagine how pissed off I was.  Instantly messaged Em to see if she had enough leave to be able to come with me, she messaged straight back that she would love to come - she knows most of the people I work with as they were friends outside work when we lived in Kent though most of them remember her as a 10 yr old not the gorgeous nearly 20 yr old she is now!  I was made up, quality time away with my girl, still get the whole hotel pampering thing without the threat of gratuitous sex, fantastic. 

And then.  Emily got up this morning and could barely breathe.  She has really severe asthma and things have taken a real turn for the worse this year, it was quickly apparent that instead of belting down the A1 we were going to be spending our day in A&E.  Initially it was really worrying, all her usual asthma symptoms were fine and there was some concern that the problem was with her heart, after some monitoring her heart was given the all clear, so then they decided to do chest x rays and blood test to check she didnt have a chest infection.  Chest x ray was fine, bloods not so much.  Em has crap veins.  The nurse tried her left elbow and got nowhere, the Dr came in and he decided that her veins were so awful that he would need to use a butterfly - a lovely comfortable name for a very long, very thin needle that goes in a very long way, nice work who ever came up with that one.  Initially he tried her wrist, but stopped when he still wasn't hitting a vein and she was pretty much in tears, he then said the only other option was her foot - agony.  I asked him if he would have another go this time on her other elbow, basically on the put it in and wiggle it about and hope to hit a vein approach, anything being better than having a needle put into your foot.  Em was a star and the Dr did his bit and although it took a while he managed to snag a vein and get the bloods he needed.  I think its safe to say that Em is now over her needle phobia.  So the xray and the bloods came back clear and they decided that quite possibly coughing from a recent cold had meant that Em had damaged some ligaments in her chest and these were causing the pain which was causing the rapid, shallow breathing.  So all's well that ends well, Em is home and although she is knackered and full of holes she is fine.  Thank god.  We came close to losing her when she was 11 and I NEVER want to go there again.

And I am sat at my desk typing this.  Right now even some gratuitous sex would be ok as an alternative. On the upside the rest of December really only can get better*.

*Why do I think I am going to regret typing that?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Creative Writing

Last night in creative writing we were given a list of titles to pick from and had 45 minutes to write a short story.  This is mine.

Shopping with Mary.

‘Milk, tea, bread, eggs.  I fancy a nice pork chop for lunch, would you like that love?’ Bill sat at the kitchen table writing the shopping list. Thursday morning the routine is always the same, bus into town, post office to collect pension, do the shopping and then get the bus home to make lunch.  Bill pushed his chair back from the table and it squeaked on the faded lino
            ‘sorry love’ he says, Mary hates that he slides his chair rather than lifting it.  He clears the breakfast things from the table and puts them into the sink
            ‘we can do the dishes later, can’t we princess?’ he says and smiles at Mary.  Mary doesn’t say much these days, although she was never much of a one for chatter.  That’s why Bill fell in love with her. That friend of hers, Marjorie, was courting his friend Harry and they suggested a double date.  Marjorie never stopped talking all evening and when Bill walked Mary home she had said
            ‘you must think I’m awfully dull compared to Marjorie’ and Bill had confessed that he found Marjorie’s chatter annoying.   Mary had smiled then, a beautiful smile that made her eyes twinkle.  Six months later they married and had celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary in August.

Bill stood at the sink as he rinsed the tea pot, Mary always liked a cuppa as soon as they got back with the shopping – kettle on even before taking her hat off.
            ‘looks like a cold one today, dry though, but I’ll make sure to get our gloves’ Bill dries the tea pot and puts it onto the work top next to the tea caddy for later.

He went into the hall and reached their coats down, he picked Marys hat off the shelf above and paused.  He looked down at her worn, plum, felt hat and smiled ‘shan’t be needing that today old chap’ he said to himself.

The bus journey into town was uneventful, 15 minutes all told if the traffic was good.  Bill and Mary always kept themselves to themselves, not like some of them mind.  Some days it was like a trip to the seaside with the laughing and chatting that went on.  Today it was quiet  though, Mary preferred it that way.  She liked to look out of the window and watch the fields roll by.  As Autumn had faded into Winter the countryside had been leached of colour, the sky, the fields and the hedgerows blended together in varying shades of grey.  Bill hated this time of year, he loved Spring and watching for lambs, green shoots and the first day the sun warmed his face through the window of the bus.
            ‘roll on Spring’ he said to Mary.

The Post Office was only a short walk from the bus station, uphill, but as Mary liked to point out better to be walking down hill with the shopping than up. She’d always been a half full sort of girl and practical with it.
            ‘looks like there’s not much of a queue today Mary love, not like last week.  Tax disc week, do you remember? Had to stand outside in the cold didn’t we?’ said Bill as he pushed the door open.  The queue moved quickly and once Bill had the pension safely in his wallet it was time to do the shopping.

The supermarket stood where the old Fine Fare had been.  Bill used to like Fine Fare, for one thing they didn’t move everything around at every whip and flip.  He could be in and out in ten minutes on a good day.  This place though, bread went from one end of the shop to the other without warning, he spent more time hunting for stuff than actually putting things into the trolley.  Sometimes it was enough to make him swear, but only quietly under his breath: Mary didn’t like language.

            ‘eggs, bread, milk’ Bill read from the list ‘tea, musn’t forget your tea now lovely.  And how about a nice bit of batenburg for this afternoon?’  Bill put the tea and cake into the trolley. 
‘pork chops! I nearly forgot the pork chops, losing my marbles I reckon.’ Said Bill as he doubled back to pick up a tray of chops.
‘right then girl, I think we are done here, let’s get this lot aid for and get home for a nice cup of tea.’

The bus home was noisy.  Young girls with babies and push chairs, some of them didn’t look old enough, and the language!  A couple of times Bill heard Mary tut and he wanted to tell the girls that they didn’t ought to use language like that round other people, but he didn’t Mary wouldn’t like a scene.

Bill pushed the door open with the shopping bag and, with a groan, lifted the bags onto the table.  He reached over and flicked the kettle on.
            ‘nice cup of tea before I put the chops on’ he said as he unbuttoned his coat.  He went into the hall and hung his coat next to Mary’s.  He stopped and ran his hand over the familiar grey wool of Mary’s coat.  He resisted the urge to lift the coat down and bury his face in the collar.  The last of her perfume was long gone.  The wool now smelt old and slightly damp.

Bill walked back into the kitchen and looked at Mary’s chair.  Mary’s empty chair.  He sighed.
            ‘pot of tea for one’ he said.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Bit late for Halloween, Kevin

This is an actual email that has landed in my in box this afternoon:

 Dear Sir/Madam,

My name is Kevin and I am an investigator of a small team of Paranormal Investigators called Hunters of Paranormal Experience H.O.P.E . We provide Paranormal Investigation’s to locations that may have experienced some form of possible paranormal activity whether it be in the past or present. I would like to ask for me and my team to have permission to conduct an investigation at The Pinfold Guest House.
We have already investigated some impressive venues such as Mosborough Hall, The Sheffield Lyceum Theatre, Manor Lodge and Hallam FM which was featured in the Sheffield Star. We have also investigated a number of public houses and several private investigations too.  We have gathered together some exciting evidence so far from our investigations and are always looking to further this.
We are a fully insured Professional Paranormal Investigation Group, and can provide proof if required.  The reason for us to be insured is to give locations a peace of mind regarding their property and the safety of it, and any person involved during the time of our investigation. We can assure you that any investigation would have no affect on your business whatsoever and would not take up any of your time as it would be done in the evening or during the night at a time and date to suit your needs. Yourself or a member of your staff are welcome to join us on the night should you feel safer with this.
 We are also a member of the UKBPA (United Kingdom British Paranormal Association).  You cannot get any better credentials in the world of paranormal investigations than this at this moment and if you were to search online for “paranormal groups”, you wouldn’t find many that have insurance.  There could be many reasons for this, but I feel that as a group of Professional Investigators, you need to be prepared to take the extra steps needed to look after locations, people and the environments we investigate. This is something that we are proud to provide.
As a group we use a vast selection of equipment during our investigations and use mediums, to back up any readings that we may pick up during the investigation and we are always improving on this. We do investigate thoroughly and try and debunk or give any natural reasons for anything that we find before we go down the road of calling any location haunted.
We provide full back up of ANYTHING we capture, whether it is a lot or simply nothing but you will receive full copies of this evidence for you to make up your own mind and we can also visit you after the investigation and go through the evidence that we found at length should you like us to. All we ask after is that with your permission, we be allowed to show highlights of the investigation on our website but please be assured that any evidence you would like to be kept confidential, will be so. So with your permission, could we arrange to meet up with you and discuss the possibility of conducting a paranormal investigation at The Pinfold Guest House.
I would be grateful if you could reply if only to say you are not interested so that we can remove you from our contact list for future re-contact campaigns.

                                                                                                                                                                                                           Many thanks,

     All of which is of course frankly awesome.  Yes do please pitch up tell me my home is haunted by malevolent spirits and then feck off leaving me to live here quaking in fear at every bump in the night.  But for me the absolute clincher, the coup de grace was this:
We can assure you that any investigation would have no affect on your business whatsoever and would not take up any of your time as it would be done in the evening or during the night at a time and date to suit your needs.
Kevin, I challenge you to remove your head from your arse and to hazard a guess as to when a GUEST HOUSE might just be at it's very busiest. Ta Dah! FFS Kevin, people like you are the reason skilled paranormal investigators are forced to make their living working with the likes of Yvette Fielding.                                                                                                                                                                                

Friday, 4 November 2011

Revlon Black Cherry & Boots No 7 Metallic Grey Eye shadow stick

I am celebrating recovering from a very very stressful 30 mins.  I went to the hairdresser, Modesty Brown has probably just passed out - the words "hairdresser" and "stressful" in the same sentence are all too familiar to her.  For the last 9 months the same person has cut my hair and I have loved it every time, he makes me look fabulous which is no mean feat.  Today he said "what are we doing" and I said "EXACTLY the same as last time, I love how you cut my hair please don't change a thing, especially not the chin length bits at the front, not them, dont cut them, I need them the length they are".  He heard "whatevs mate, anything you fancy tbh, here sits a woman that doesnt care".  I was feeling physically sick in the car on the way home, convinced he had fucked up my hair.  He had cut layers into the sides and sliced into the chin length front bits so that they were no longer the longest bit of my hair, making the term "graduated" redundant at best, he said "I have trimmed this bit up so it gives it a rounder shape".  Can he not see my face?  It's round. I do not need roundness in my hair.  Just to put this into perspective for you, 98% of the time the only bit about me that I like even a tiny little bit is my hair. It is that vital. 

Anyway panic over! I got home, washed and blow dried and its all ok.  He has sliced into the front bits and whilst in my opinion that warrants me coating his testicles in honey and letting fire ants loose on them, most normal people would probably consider that an over reaction.  Prior to the hair debacle I went into Boots on a mission for Revlon Black Cherry lipstick for my "big night out in Manchester".  I am planning the full works; smouldering eyes and wanton lips.  Black Cherry is a storming lipstick for a wanton lip! I can't do red red it makes me look and feel a bit weird but this I just drank a gallon of red wine lip colour is wonderful, I feel like sex on a stick to be honest!! It definitely needs a lip liner and then careful application with a brush, applying from the bullet is likely to end in tears.  Oh and your lips need to be in tip top nick too.

I also found a No 7 voucher lurking in the purse and the Metallic Grey eye shadow stick was just yelling my name, its a cream shadow and my plan was to apply it all over the lid as a base and then build up my smoky eye from there.  I have discovered you need to work quick with this stuff, once it sets there's no budging it and blending is not happening.  That said as a teflon base its fantastic, I applied black shadow to the crease and blended for about an hour and a half, light shadow on brow bone and then full on sparkly lighter shadow into the corner to stop me looking like a witch.  Frankly I could snog myself.  Want to see a photo. Or 2?

Getting messy drunk wearing this much slap is going to be abyssmal.  A word to the wise - if you are coming with me to Manchester and post pics of me on facebook taken at 2am when this lot has slid all round my face,  you and I will no longer be friends. 

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Models Own Blusher brush

Having found my hg blusher (MAC Tenderling) and been taught where I should be applying my blusher I have been on a quest to find a shaped, or angled, blusher brush that didn't cost the earth.  I was in Boots last week reeling from the disappointment of discovering that the Debenhams at the White Rose centre didn't have Butter London and that the Boots wasn't carrying the Sally Hanson Complete Salon Manicure range and was laying on the floor kicking and screaming and just having a general tantrum when I spotted the rather garish Models Own Blusher Brush.  It's bright orange, with a rather weird Orange top, look
But it does have an angled head and it was £8.50.  It comes in a plastic wallet with one of those sliding, zip type, closers which I didn't think too much of at the time but of course is fantastic if you want to take your brush with you, don't own a handbag sized make up bag and dont want your lovely new blusher brush covered in old polos, bits of used tissue and the nasty detritus that gathers in the bottom of your handbag.  

What they say:
Looking for a way to create super defined and glamorous cheekbones? Our professional Angled Blush Brush is perfect for creating a fantastically sculpted look. The slanted shape of this brush offers precision contouring, is soft on your skin and is perfect for accentuating your features!

As the zippy closer thing was effectively locked by the plastic tag I wasn't able to feel the brush in the shop but frankly assumed that for £8.50 it might not be the nicest of brushes but it would give me a chance to find out if having the sloping shaped head would help with contouring and if so I could then spend shed loads more on a better quality brush.  As it happens its a cracking brush, its really soft and does a brilliant job of getting my blusher right where I want it and it really does help with the whole contouring job.  Bear in mind that with my face I'm not highlighting my stunning bone structure, more hoping to suggest to a casual glance that my face isn't actually as round as a football by painting a stripe of brown across each cheek, a la Lohan.  Well hopefully not quite like Ms Lohans infamous court appearance "corpse" face but you get my drift.  Previously I was using a big poofy powder brush which applied my blusher in a big poofy splodge on my big poofy cheeks.  This lovely brush sort of flicks the blusher up towards my eye and nose, creating a nice soft flush whilst giving a nice clean finish underneath, I am sure if you wanted to create absolute facial hollows in terms of contouring this brush would be up for it.  Did I mention it was only £8.50?!  And even the initially jarring shade of orange has turned into a boon, it's incredibly easy to spot my blusher brush lurking in the depths of my make up bag even when I am half asleep as it gives off a sort of glow. It doesn't, but its almost bright enough to.  So yep, love this and if you are looking for an affordable, neon, angled blusher brush this is your man. You can buy it here from Models Own here btw, where its only £8!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Creative writing course


You know when you are waiting for a letter, the contents of which could change your life, and every morning the Postman brings your usual array of bills and circulars so that after a few mornings that little lurch of disappointment in the bottom of your stomach when it hasn’t arrived almost doesn’t happen?  Well, that’s pretty much where I was.  Two long weeks of waiting and still no sign of the letter that could change my life.  You probably think I am being overly dramatic when I say that, but seriously I’m not.

So, Thursday 19th May when I heard the click of the latch on the gate and the slap of the post falling onto the mat I was pretty much resigned to there being no news.  I grabbed the post in a big bundle, sipped my coffee and dropped it all onto the dining room table.  Don’t be fooled, this was a calculatedly casual response, a completely dramatized “devil may care” sling of the post designed of course to ensure that it splayed across the table’s polished surface without me having to root in desperation through the junk to reach my crock of gold. Or not.  Like every morning before I barely glanced at the letters, almost turning my back whilst allowing one eye to very casually glance across the surface,  that way, if the letter wasn’t there no-one would know that I was bothered.  Not that anyone would have known, there was no-one watching me.  Annoyingly the white corner of an envelope was sticking out from beneath a brightly coloured frozen food leaflet and I could now either calmly finish my coffee, brush my teeth and then nonchalantly slide the leaflet off  the envelope or I could dash straight in and have a look.  I was rather alarmed to note,  as I reached out, that my heart began to pound and there was a familiar racing sensation in the very middle of my chest.  Almost definitely too much caffeine.

And there it was.  The letter I had been waiting for.  Not just for the last two weeks but really for eighteen months, since I had first come up with the plan that what my life needed was a complete overhaul.  No more living in a quiet village fending off the increasingly frequent suggestion of marriage and babies from my long suffering partner, no more comfortable familiarity but a grand gesture,  pack my bags and head off on an adventure.  I hadn’t quite envisaged the slew of rejections from cruise ships, airlines and VSO – who knew you needed a degree to dig wells in Africa. With every rejection my partner’s insistence that I should just give up on the whole crazy idea and stay at home with him grew stronger, until when I posted this last application back in February I had made him a deal, this one would be the last.  If I didn’t get the job with this cruise line I would accept that it wasn’t my destiny to sail the seven seas and I’d stay home and make him a happy man.  Not a bad fallback position in all honesty.  I loved him and was more than happy to become his wife, the mother of his children.   Just, not quite yet.

That initial application had resulted in an invitation to attend an open day of interviews in London and the inevitable round of sulking from the man.  Once I pointed out that this one was almost certainly not going to come to anything he snapped out of it and was almost supportive, but I knew that really he was thinking that the sooner I went to London, the sooner I’d get that letter of rejection and the sooner he’d have himself a wife, bless him.

So, I’m stood there with the envelope in my hand and suddenly for the first time in eighteen months I am wondering if I have made the biggest mistake of my life.  What if I leave and he doesn’t wait for me like he promised?  What if I come back after six months because I am sea sick every day and he’s taken up with someone new and doesn’t want me anymore?  Maybe the grand gesture of just applying to change my life was all I needed, not actually changing it.  I could say “oh yes I’ve lived here all my life, I wasn’t going to mind – I applied for lots of overseas jobs and they never came to anything” and everyone would know that I hadn’t stayed at home because I’d had no ambition but only because I hadn’t had the chance to do anything  else.  My face felt flushed and there was a rushing sound in my ears. Oh my God, what had I done?  If I open this envelope and the letter says “welcome, come with us and change your life” I am going to have to go, leave behind everything safe and familiar, pack up my life and head off to God knows where.  Could I lie?  Could I just say “by the way, that letter came this morning, it was a No. Fancy nipping down the pub for last orders?”.   I knew I couldn’t, he’d see right through me and it would always be there, nagging away “what if?”

I look  down and I am still holding the envelope.  The coffee in my stomach is making me feel a bit sick.  Then suddenly, there it is, the little flicker of excitement that I had always thought would be part of this moment - you took your time!  My hands are feeling tingly and for just a moment I imagine myself putting my suitcase on the train, tears and hugs goodbye, promises to write from far off exotic lands, lingering kisses and promises to come back and get married but with tales to tell the grandkids and then finally, as the train pulls out of the station a moment to relish “brace yourself World, here I come!”

I sit down, still holding the envelope.  OK.  Here goes nothing.  But it doesn’t seem right just to rip into the envelope, what if I rip the letter and render it unreadable, unlikely I know but it could happen.  I put the letter on the chair as if it were a baby, or a pound of Semtex and go to the kitchen for a knife. 

Sitting back down I take a deep breath, snatch up the envelope and before I can change my mind slide the blade of the knife under the flap and there, it’s done. 

As I unfold the letter I scan the contents and I know.  I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath until I let it out in a rush.  I had my answer, I knew my destiny. 

I smile and slide the letter back into its envelope; I was going to need to open the really good bottle of wine with dinner tonight.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Clairol Perfect 10 hair colour in lightest cool brown

I recently changed my twitter pic to a photo of me that I took in our basement flat, with the lack of natural light my dark blonde hair looked much darker than it is in real life.  When I got a fair few compliments on my new 'darker' colour I decided that maybe I would try a darker shade for real next time I coloured my hair.  Nothing dramatic, just a shade darker than my usual dark blonde.  I have used the Perfect 10 range of hair colours exclusively for the last couple of years and have been really pleased with them.  I have used 3 or 4 of the blonde shades and each has been true to the colour shown on the pack, let my hair's own tones and highlights show through and been good enough that even my hairdresser expressed surprised that it was a home colour out of a box.

So it was with no fear or trepidation at all that at 5.25am yesterday morning I applied a good wallop of Shade 6.5A described as  "Lightest cool brown". 

I now have black hair.  Not lightest cool brown but darkest dark black. FFS.  To be fair it seems to be worst in the mid length sections of my hair where presumably there was already quite a build up of colour - the blonde shades I used never really grew out and left a root issue, they just seemed to fade away all over, just with more greys in the root line.  I can only think that the frequently coloured mid-sections are more porous than the virgin hair at the root line, here the colour is passable but still much much darker than I would have expected from the description on the box. Its also done that horrible thing where it has swamped the mid sections with colour so there are no natural tones or highlights just one colour, clearly out of a box, nasty cheap looking hair. Sob.

What is it with hair dyes that makes them do that? The blonde ones have always been fine, my hair has been left glossy and shiny with believable classy looking colour.  I now look like one of those women who seriously thinks that dyeing her hair 4 shades darker than it was even in the bounty of her youth will somehow imbue her with the glossy good looks of a woman 10 years her junior.  Instead it makes her look like a witch.  I look like I take dressing up for Halloween far too seriously.

You are itching to see photos aren't you?  I can sense your thinking 'yea whatever, enough with the waffle bring on the shameful photos'.
So here it is, when bad hair colour happens to tragically optimistic fools in the early hours of the morning:
Hair colour-11

To be honest it probably doesn't look as bad as you had been expecting but given that it used to look like this:

Hair colour-8
I realise its also  horribly patchy - rectified that last night with Em's help!

It feels a hell of a lot darker to me.  I have washed it a couple of times to try and tone it down and whilst I can live with it for now I am not sure what to do next.  I think I might just have to revert to using the dark blonde I was using before and hope that this fades like the blondes used to.  I think we both know that isn't going to happen.  More than anything I am hacked off that I am now likely to have to pay a hairdresser to fix a problem I created by using a £7 poxy hair dye, bloody stuff.

Couple more pics, decided to take advantage of having the camera out to show you a couple of Benefit newbies that I am loving at the moment.  First up Velvet eyeshadow in Gimme some plum, described as an iced plum - which sounds horribly frosty, its not.  I had set out to buy Where there's smoke described as smoky pewter but it was more dirty brown than taupe, which is what I was after.  Having decided I wasn't going home without a Benefit eyeshadow I am really glad I got this one, I have been wearing it all over my lid with a bit of black powder or liner on the lash line to give my eyes some definition.
Hair colour-9

Hair colour-10

Its my perfect colour for a pulled together look without being overly made up.

My other recent purchase is the lipstick, Benefit full-finish in Do Tell, a warm pink, with no hint of brown which works as a nude but pink mlbb colour.
Hair colour-12

If anyone has any suggestions as to how I can tone down my hair please share - I have tried washing with Head and Shoulders but am loathe to use ColourB4 as its already dry and I don't want it a shit colour and frizzy as hell too!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I need a nom de plume cos Bunty just ain't working for me.

Last night was the first session of my creative writing course which I decided to do to give me something to focus on other than the guest house and work.  I had no idea what to expect but had anticipated that the group would all be middle aged ladies with time on their hands.  I was wrong.

First up there is a young girl, who has recently quit college, is working in Asda and is writing her first novel, she lives at home with her mum.  She speaks really quietly, from behind her hands if she can.  Then there’s the guy who has a degree in one thing and a Masters in another but is wanting to work more creatively and is working on a film script but the feedback he is getting is that the structure of his writing isn’t good.  Jane* is in her early 30’s, pretty and confident.  She has a Law degree and taught English in Beijing for five years before coming back to England.  She is now working for one of the large Banks and part of her job requires her to write copy, hence the course, although she is in the process of writing her first novel.  Tim has OCD and taking this course is part of his Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.   Sue is in her late 60’s and wearing brightly coloured skater trainers and a bright red scarf.  It is quite apparent that she has some hearing issues and when she reveals that her career has been spent as a singer in a rock band it’s easy to see why, although she doesn’t seem to think there is a problem with her hearing and keeps telling everyone how quietly they speak.  She has also worked as a journalist so is taking the course to unleash her more creative side.  Finally there is Bunty the middle aged, menopausal housewife who has never written anything and is just doing the course for fun. That last one was me in case you were wondering.

This first session concentrated on grammar, punctuation and some writing rules so I now know where to sling an apostrophe and am avoiding “ for speech as they are old fashioned!  Oh and keeping exclamation marks down to a dull roar, apparently they are the canned laughter of the writing world.  Finding it hard to resist though, generally I am liberal with my exclamation marks *slaps hand away from keyboard*. I want to write a colon related pun at this point but cant think of one.

I don’t know what I had expected but it wasn’t that we would be giving 40 minutes in which to do a piece of writing.  We each had two bits of paper on our desks on one we wrote something or somewhere that was special to us and on the other we wrote a place, nothing too specific.  We then held on to our special place or thing and swapped the other.  Weirdly the script writer’s special thing was a particular Ferrari and the place he got in the swap was a motorway, my special place was the sea and I got “a beach wedding” in the swap.  Whilst what I wrote wont be winning any prizes I was surprised at how easily one word followed another, it was a little  unnerving as when I started writing I had no idea how it was all going to hang together but it just seemed to write itself.  I could post it as a blog post if anyone thinks that might be interesting? 

One thing that I have discovered is that typing makes me write in a much more formal way than writing with pen and paper, the piece I wrote in class was much better than the piece I typed to give in last night.  I am re-reading this blog post and thinking it sounds very stiff and not at all like me, might have to resort to writing my blog posts long hand and then typing them up.   The course is six weeks long and I intend to post the very first piece I wrote “Open” which I gave in last night and the final piece which will show how much I have improved, or not, at the end of the course. Bet you can hardly wait. (insert your own exclamation mark) btw brackets are passe too, apparently.

*none of these are their real names.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Want to be in with a chance of winning something amazing & feel good about it too?

Then look no further than Nicolette's Beauty Blog.  Nicolette is running a mahoosive giveaway that you can enter by making a donation to Breast Cancer using the link on her blog.

The prizes are fantastic and include a years worth of perfumes, a load of lovely stuff from Aromatherapy Associates and £45 of Illamasqua make up and you even if you don't win you benefit from the good karma associated with giving to a really worth while charity! 

I am amazed at the generosity of the Companies that have donated and will be making a point of using those that have next time I am shopping on line.

So please please click on the above link to Nicoletta's blog, have a read about the prizes and then click on her Just Giving link to help her smash her £1,000 target!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Titanic Spa - a little bit of heaven in Huddersfield

I had a wonderful evening at Titanic Spa with Rachel, Katie and Lisa last night.  

When Rachel asked me if I'd like to go along I said yes but had some quiet reservations.  As you know I am not happy with how I look and whilst with clever layering I can make myself look presentable fully dressed being pared down to just a swimsuit, in public, is well out of my comfort zone.  But, I have decided that I am not going to let how I feel about myself prevent me from doing things I might enjoy.

So we pitched up at Titanic Spa, which is just outside Huddersfield and is quite possibly the best mill conversion ever.  The building itself houses apartments that are owned and some which are let as well as the spa.  From the minute you walk through the door you know this is going to be a lovely experience!  Rachel had booked us onto the Twilight Experience, usually £45 per person but somehow only £10 each on the offer she had found.  When we had checked in and picked up our robes and slippers we went through to the bistro for our glass of champagne and canapes.  The bistro, like the rest of the spa, is all about the luxury, comfortable seating and a quiet ambience that sets the tone. 

From there we went to the changing rooms and this was my only disappointment.  Whilst the changing rooms themselves are beautiful, lots of dark wood, a huge mirror with hairdryers and generous showers with glass doors, there are no changing cubicles.  I am not a fan of being nude in public so nipped into the loo to swop from outer wear to swimwear which wasn't all that great!

I had no idea what to expect from the Heat and Ice experience.  It turns out its a series of rooms which increase in temperature from the aromatherapy room:
A 2000 year old Roman tradition. The floor, benches and walls are heated offering a dry, warm environment for perspiring and cleansing the pores. Cocoon yourself in the aromatic vapours and allow the stresses of the world to drift away.
then onto the Saunarium:
 This is a luxurious timber chamber combining the traditional pleasures of the Scandinavian sauna with the added benefit of steam infusion, mood lighting and background music. The ‘softer climate’ will allow you to spend longer in the cabin so the heat can deeply penetrate the body, soothe joints and muscles.

and finally the Sauna cabin:
A Finnish tradition offering intense dry heat. Disperses aromatic water over the coals to create warmth and essence in the cabin. This large space offers an ideal environment to unravel your mind and rest tired, aching muscles.

I loved the Saunarium, the combination of deep penetrating warmth with the steam infusion was the perfect balance of heat and moisture for me and had we not been chatting away I could easily have drifted off into a little world of my own.

Between the heated rooms you can take advantage of the foot spas and the "Experience showers" which range from tropical rain to an icy cold "bucket shower" which I was only too happy to resist.  There is also an ice cold plunge pool, with steps that spiral down into the icy depths, whilst this was close to torture after either the saunarium or the aromatherapy room after the intense, dry heat of the sauna it was fantastic!  I particularly loved the ice room which is like walking into a large, very beautiful fridge, with a large glass bowl filled with fragrance infused ice which you can either put into one of the provided cloths to rub over you or, after the sauna when you are really hot a handful applied direct to your skin is the perfect way to cool down!

To get from the heat and ice experience to the pool and jacuzzi you have to walk via the bistro, I have to say that I have never felt more comfortable in a dressing gown and slippers! By this point I didn't have a care in the world and as pretty much everyone else is make up free with pink cheeks from the sauna and damp hair you fit right in!

The pool area is beautiful, very quiet and calm and as it was evening the dimmed lighting made it all feel very tranquil.  We sat in the jacuzzi for ages and then had a stint in the steam room, which again was wonderful, I definitely prefer moist heat to dry heat.  Having had a session with the physio in the morning on my hip and knee the visit to the spa was perfectly timed, she had warned me that whilst she wouldnt do anything to aggravate my problems just the stuff she had done would make me rather sore, the heat and ice, swimming and a good pummelling from the jacuzzi were just what I needed to ease out those aches!

I had a lot less pain in my hip and knee over night than usual and my skin felt really soft this morning, although my face felt a bit burnt almost, I was concerned that perhaps the sauna was a bit much for my face, which is pretty sensitive and reactive.  I had my regular eye issue at 4am so had to shower and do my make up and hair in the dark this morning as my eyes can't tolerate any light when this happens. So I was aware as I put on my make up that my face was feeling a bit uncomfortable but I couldnt actually see how it looked.  Once I was upstairs and in the light I could see that whilst it might have felt a bit irritated it was looking amazing, I have a real glow this morning which is pretty good having been away since 4am with a knackered eye!

Steve now fancies a spot of pampering so I with any luck this wont be a one-off treat. A full day with the inclusion of a couple of treatments, I'd particularly like a Decleor facial, would be a real joy!  If you are near to Huddersfield and want to totally spoil yourself I can seriously recommend Titanic Spa as the place to do it.

URGENT UPDATE - got £54.50 spare, a friend and feeling like spoiling yourself rotten?????! Then have a look at this fantastic offer from Wahanda for an overnight stay, full use of Titanic Spa, lunch, dinner and breakfast in your room.  I have already emailed my sister to see how her diary looks!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Making like a sheep

As you know I am a self-confessed gym dodger, still paying for my membership in the vain hope that just having the card in my purse will give me buns of steel.  I was reading something the other day, no doubt with a glass of red in one hand and a bag of crisps in the other, about how women with fabulous hair are generally fatter than those poor souls with skanky, unwashed, seriously unfabulous hair.  

As I am one of the folliculey blessed, with  a great mane of tresses that are bathed in unguents at great expense and then teased into a coiff of glossy lovelyness (in my head, if not actually on it) this gave me pause for thought.  Apparently, women that spend ages doing their hair avoid getting all hot and sweaty cos it makes their hair look shit. 

I had a quick mouthful of wine and another handful of crisps as I processed this and had something of an epiphany.  That is exactly the reason I avoid the gym.  Well, its the main reason I cite for my gym avoidance. I get up at 5.30am 5 days a week, it takes me 1hr & 20 mins to do my hair and face so that I am presentable to serve guests breakfast.  This finishes at 8.30am.  The gym is 10 minutes away, puts me at the gym at 8.40.  1 hr in the gym and home and its 9.50am.  Add the second hair and face session so that I am presentable to see in guests as they arrive later in the day and its 11.10am and the entire morning has gone. 

So I decided to do something unheard of for me.  On Sunday morning I got up, washed my hair and left it at that!  To fully grasp how important that is you have to understand how fat women think.  Fat women know that everyone thinks we are lazy and out of control, which isn't actually the case we just like wine and crisps and don't move as much as we should.  So to show you how much control we have our hair is always perfect, our nails are always manicured and we would never, ever leave the house without full make up, whilst struggling to do up our size 20 jeans and hating anyone that dares weigh a pound less than us.  See, it was a REALLY big thing!

Whilst it isn't perhaps the most terrific look for me it also isn't totally awful and I am going to stick with it for a bit longer, certainly on weekdays, I get to have a lie in on Saturdays and Sundays - no alarm clock til 7am so maybe I'll splurge and do the full works then.


Undone - oh but looking at these I am missing my lovely groomed hair.
And as I am sure you are wondering, no I still haven't been to the gym!


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