Archive for July, 2013

Jobs I have had

Pizza Hut
I worked in Pizza Hut when I was 17 and I remember my first day there was only a few days after I had reached my goal weight at Weight Watchers. Suffice to say, I did not stay at my goal weight for long. My favourite thing to do at Pizza Hut was to fill my little waist bag thing with the chocolate buttons and Smarties from the icecream station then whenever I had to nip into the back for anything, I’d eat a few. I was in this job for six months or so before the shifts started trailling off and I realised they were trying to get rid of me so I left. They probably noticed I was scoffing all their sweets.

Miss Selfridges
I worked here as a Christmas temp whilst also working at Pizza Hut. It was pretty boring. My friend from school had got me the job. Standing next to the changing rooms was probably the most boring thing I did here. I remember once going in after a night out with earlier mentioned friend. For some reason, the other staff were all somewhere else and I felt really rough and there were no customers in the shop so I sneaked into stockroom, vomited into a Miss Selfridges plastic bag, deposited it in the bin there and strolled out like nothing had happened. That’s me. A picture of class. One of my finest moments, wouldn’t you say?

Paper girl
I did this when I was about 16 and quite liked it. At first my mum would give me a lift cause the round was quite big but after a while I started walking it and I really liked it. It was just on Sundays and the walk went trough quite a nice bit of Liverpool, with parks and huge private houses and private roads where I was given the number combinations to unlock the gates and one of the houses I delivered to was a famous footballer. At Christmas time, these houses went crazy for decorations. Their entire front would be lit up and there were scenes of reindeer and Santas filling their front gardens. Christmas was also fabulous for tips. One gentleman opened the door when I walked up to the house, invited me to stand in the hallway and nipped off to get me a tip. There was the most enormous Christmas tree in his hallway and I was very impressed by it. He gave me a huge tip and other houses followed suit and by the end of my paper round, I had £70 just in tips! And that was only that week. The following week I got given more Christmas tips. It was pretty exciting. I went to a pet shop and bought Christmas presents for pet fish with my tips. A wise use of money, I feel.

Shoe shop
I don’t even remember what the shop was called. But the manager there was a pile of nonsense. She was rude to the children, yes, the children. One little girl was asking about some shoes off the shelf and said she needed a bigger size and the manager went, “I’ve just got to go and get it, alright?!” all huffy. The little girl was about six years old. I was never really trained on stuff properly yet she’d periodically ‘test’ me on how to do things then get all attitudey when I gave her the wrong answer.

AMT
I worked there for five years while I was a student and there’s no excuse apart from, it was convenient and I was lazy to look for another job. The manager was nice but she left under a shroud of mystery – she went on ‘holiday’ to Italy and never came back. It was lots of coffee and the customers really annoyed me. There were a few regulars who’s sole purpose, it seemed, was to confuse us. One woman would always ask for “An americano with milk separate, all in the same cup.” I mean that is crazy talk. How can it be separate and also in the same cup?

Day trip 2

Last Wednesday, Rambler5319 told us about one of his day trips from a recent holiday and today he’s back to tell us about another of his adventures.

 

 

I decided to do a walk today. Literally a few yards from my front door was this sight.

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They were not fully fledged females and Mum can be seen (right on the edge of pic) top right corner on the grass. They had just crossed another road causing traffic to stop and a lady from the house nearby had come out to shoo them out of the way so they didn’t get run over. As I headed out of the village I came across this.

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You may be able to see a bucket, a broom and leaning at the front of the car a spade. There were two ladies cutting and trimming the edge of the grass, where it met the pavement, as well as a guy further along with a mower who had just done the newly-cut bit you can see. I stopped for a brief chat. It seems the council cutbacks have meant that their roads don’t get cleaned and tidied up so the villagers do it themselves. I wonder how long before we’re brushing our own city streets because our councils don’t have the money to do it?

Here’s the start of the path heading west towards Hunstanton.

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It was just a few minutes to this area

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Then I came to this path down into what they called a sunken garden.

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Just by it was this tree which as you can see has had some sort of creeper growing up its two trunks. The creeper has been chopped off presumably to prevent further growth around the trunks.

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Here’s an interesting name for a plant –

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I couldn’t spot any of this but it was supposed to be there. Any readers heard of this?

I carried on along the path and saw this sign. The area is clearly quite dangerous.

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The main path

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I walked through a farm and saw this pram in one of the outbuildings which was open to the path. Think it’s probably had its gold watch some years ago!

The next pic is interesting because it’s in a ploughed field, all on its own. It is the remains of Ringstead Parva Church.

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Now the village of Ringstead Parva doesn’t exist anymore. A local news mag with an article on it said the Black Death had killed off all the inhabitants in 1349 and it has remained derelict ever since. The county of Norfolk itself lost half its population during this outbreak. (Edward III, reigned 1327-77, had to cancel parliament because of the disease having reached Westminster.) When I asked at the farm (Downs Farm) about being able to go out to the ruins they told me I was not allowed as it was on private land. However it seems some have been out to it. Check out this photo:

Ringstead Barrett/Parva Church PC178175

Then I passed this sign

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And a nice field of Lavender

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Another sign on the path

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Note it mentions the Downs I’d just walked through and Lovers Lane and that access was only granted by permission of the L’Estrange Estate.

A little further on another of those reminders that I was in a dangerous area of the country

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I passed this sign along the main road in Hunstanton

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In case you’re wondering it’s the name of a bicycle shop – yes that’s right, originally called Fat Birds Don’t Fly but now on the actual shop front has the name shortened to Fatbirds. They have a good range of bikes but at the expensive end of their stuff was a bike costing over £2,500.

Along the front in Hunstanton is this

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And this info sign on the gatepost

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And very close by was this. I wondered what it was for.

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It had this info sign on the post

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Apparently in 1988 400 beacons were lit around Britain to celebrate the sighting of the Spanish Armada back in 1588. (If I remember rightly we won that one.)

I then walked along the beach for a couple of miles and when I turned off to go back up the road to my village I saw this sign

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This one has two reminders that the land all around this area belongs to the L’Estrange Family and you’re only allowed to use the beach because they’ve given you permission. And of course you “enter at your own risk”; Health & Safety at work again. On the way back up to the main road I saw this.

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It appears our own Formula 1 driver may have his own music group but I doubt it. Just in case you were not totally persuaded to go if you look a bit lower down they’re also offering “the cheapest beer in town”. I wonder why that would be?

I passed this sailless windmill on the way back into the village

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I had planned to pick up some stuff at the village shop, after my 7 mile walk, but as I approached the door, I found I’d done an LLM. Look at this and bear in the day I was walking was Monday!

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Yep they’re open only half days on Mon/Tue/Weds

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You might just be able to see the writing in the glass over the door – The Old Bakery. Just across the way is Foundry Lane – another indication of the industry which used to exist in this small village but no longer does. And that was it; back to the cottage for a good soak in the bath for my tired legs.

My first day in my new-new job

Last week, if you remember, I started a new job. I got to wear chef’s whites and I used knives so sharp that I’m still carrying the scars on my fingers. I sliced tomatoes, I cubed aubergines, I washed salad leaves and it was all quite interesting. I also, however, had a bit of a letting-off-steam moment with the manager so was feeling uncertain about the whole thing. Then I got a call offering me another job, to start Monday (yesterday). So I said yes.

And yesterday, I started my new job at Ham House!

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Yes yes, that’s where I work now! It’s the place I’ve been going when I’ve got a day off and I do it for free so it’s way exciting that they want to pay me to be there. It’s very exciting.

The work itself was pretty straightforward cafe stuff, then towards the end of the day, I made some shortbread biscuits but in the extreme heat the mixture was so soft that it was flopping all over the place and sticking to everything!

In ten minutes, I will get dressed and take my beautiful new commute to work and do my second day in my fabulous new workplace.

This post wasn’t really even a post, was it? It was more just an announcement of where I now work.

Also, I think someone had a baby yesterday, or something…

She’s leaving home

Except she’s going with her Dad, not a man from the motor trade. And she’s not really leaving home, she’s going home. But she’s leaving me. It feels like the end of an era. In dedication to my friend‘s time in the spare bedroom, I have put together a compilation of the best moments of her stay.

1. Wednesday evenings in front of the TV watching The Apprentice and marveling at the stupidity.

2. Tuesday evenings at the pub quiz, which we got steadily worse at the more we went.

3. Baking biscuits with Smarties in for the schoolchildren Naomi taught.

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4. The time we watched Ru Paul’s Drag Race All Stars and persuaded Danda to watch the Lip Sync For Your Lives bit at the end and, despite himself, he got into it a bit.

5. The time we went out dancing to a swanky club in London town and they put on Breathe by Sean Paul and Blu Cantrell and we went crazy for it. It was less good when I asked the DJ for a bit of Beyonce and he put on some unknown song off an album or something when he totally should have played Irreplaceable or Single Ladies.

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6. Getting home from work and Naomi telling me she’d woken up about two hours ago.

7. Watching First Dates and loving it. O the awkwardness, o the embarrassingly awful attempts at conversation with a complete stranger, o the hilarity.

8. Reminiscing about our travels in Asia.

9. Making marshmallows and banana cake to celebrate my new job and then eating loads of the un-set marshmallow mixture and feeling too full by the time the marshmallows where actually ready to eat.

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10. Planning how we will make our millions. Because we will make them. We just have to figure out how. At one point, we decided we would write a childrens’ book and get rich and famous like JK Rowling. We still need to finish that story.

Treehouses, pirate ships and flamenco dresses

After a bit of a rollercoaster week, I spent yesterday with some friends and their children. Children are the perfect antidote to sadness. Especially these ones.

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We went to a National Trust property called Anglesey Abbey and walked around the extensive grounds.

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At the end of this path we found….

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A treehouse!

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Molly playing hide and seek on the top floor of the treehouse.

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Top floor!

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Up in the trees 🙂

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Further along the path, we found a pirate ship and everyone got straight to dressing up!

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Danda and Molly in pirate gear… Ella in a doctor’s jacket and a blue sparkly skirt….. Not your normal pirate outfit but who am I to criticise?

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She was the ship’s cook, apparently.

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The Abbey from afar.

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Just because we got home, doesn’t mean dressing up time has finished. Out comes the flamenco dress and little Molly starts busting out the moves.

Treehouses, pirate ships and flamenco dresses. Just an average day with the children.

Diary of my first week in my new job

On Monday, I started a new job as a chef (!) and was very excited. I got given a chef’s jacket and a black apron and I tucked a towel into the apron straps (like a proper chef) and got started.

Day 1 – Go, go, go! There’s croissants to bake, thereafter vegetables to grill, there’s a side of beef to roast. There was so much to remember, so much to do. I got my head down and did what I was told. I knew I was slow. New people always are. But I knew how to work hard and I knew how to be keen. So I did both of those. My back struggled with the crouching and bending and lifting etc and I felt a little like an old woman. But it was good. I was learning.

Day 2 – More croissants, more vegetables, more salad leaves, more confusion. I chopped tomatoes until I thought there must be no more tomatoes left in the entire world.

Day 3 – The obvious tension between one staff member and the manager became difficult to stay out of. I was asked for an opinion on matters in which they opposed each other. I smiled innocently, put my head down and sliced onions.

Day 4 – This was happening. So I wasn’t in a great place. The staff member who spends her time being shouted at by the manager came in and told us there had been a bereavement in her family the day before. The manager let her go home. He made a comment that nothing had been done to get ready for the day. I got a bit crazy and was like, “What do you mean?! I’m working really hard here!” There was chat. The air was cleared. I explained that I wasn’t feeling that great.

Day 5 – Better. Much better. I understood him better. He was sympathetic to what had happened. I was still slow but I was learning and I was able to just get my head down and get on. Then I left work at 3pm. And at 4pm, I got a call offering me an amazing job and can I start on Monday please? I said yes and hung up then called my other new job and quit.

And that was my week in the kitchen. I’ll say more about the new job later, suffice to say, it involves baking in a really old house.

Texas

I wrote this last month, on June 21st. The last time I saw Vaughn Ross.

In Texas, I have become a woman with too much time on my hands. And in Texas, he has become a man with not enough time on his hands.

Texas. The lone star state.

Don’t mess with Texas.

I’d like to. I’d like to mess with Texas. I’d like to tell Texas to ease up.

Today, I spoke to him for four hours. I haven’t eaten since breakfast. I seem to be fine without. The kind taxi driver, Carl, told me about a restaurant his manager owns. He ate there today. Potatoes, cabbage and chicken. He doesn’t like the taste of chicken when it’s just been killed. It tastes different, he says.

And the man. The man who lives down the road. I wonder what he’s doing now, while I sit in silence, writing and sipping water.

I went for a walk earlier. Texas confuses me. Such beauty. Such massive, expansive skies. Such greenery and space. Yet so distasteful. There is a bitterness to this whole state.

Why did he come here? Why did he accept the offer at the school here? Of all places?

“We should have left it with Mexico,” says one friend. “It’s a wasteland.”

This place makes me sad.

In a month, if the state has it’s way, my friend’s time will have run out and I will never come back here.

Never.

I spilt a bottle of water all over the letters I was writing him. I have written eight today. I had to go to the shop to buy more cards.

There are funny clicks and squeaks from the machines and furniture. I didn’t need this big room. I didn’t need two double beds.

“Thank you for coming,” he said.

“I had to,” I replied.

“You had to,” he repeated.

I had to.

When I cried, he told me not to make my beautiful blue eyes go red.

He calls me a blueberry muffin. I look away, unsure what to do. I feel I’m probably blushing.

Blushing? In prison? With a convicted killer? Laughing and blushing and looking away?

They make him strip when he has visits. He doesnt mind it now. He’s used to it.

They listen in on his phone calls. It’s on speakerphone. So he doesn’t make phone calls anymore.

I did a lot of pacing while I waited for him. Pacing helps.

I have a nice life in England. No-one else decides my breakfast time or when I can have a shower. I can go outside whenever I wish.

When I start bemoaning my misfortunes? I don’t have any.

He calls me intelligent and eloquent. I am flattered but I let the conversation run on without acknowledging it.

I keep the curtains open. I want to see the world and I want the world to see me.

I’ve been looking out of the window since the sun set, one and a half hours ago.

Tomorrow afternoon, I will ride away from Livingston on a Greyhound bus. And he will stay.

This morning, at 00.46, I read online that his execution had been carried out.