Posts Tagged ‘book’

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.

The time I met Danda at the airport

A little while ago, Danda jetted off into the sun for some Portugal-based fun. I was supposed to be away at the same time but due to some nonsense rules in Texas prisons, I had to postpone it. So I was here and Danda went and had beach fun with family.

On the day Danda was due home, his flight was getting in at 23.15. I left the house at about 10pm and, anticipating boredom, took a Narnia book with me, Prince Caspian to be exact. Now Prince Caspian is a pretty good book, not very like the film apart from the basic story. There is no romance between Caspian and Susan and no rivalry between Caspian and Peter.

Anyway, there I was, on one train then the next, head in my book, wondering if Prince Caspian would beat Miraz and would Aslan come back and help by waking up the trees. There was a lot going on, you know?!

I got to Gatwick and took the shuttle from the South Terminal to the North, head in my book. I got to the North Terminal and looked on the arrivals screen. Danda’s plane had landed and the baggage was in the baggage hall. He’d be about fifteen minutes yet. I might as well chill for a few minutes.

There was a Costa coffee next to a doorway and a sign saying ‘UK arrivals’ above it. Well, I thought, he is arriving and we are in the UK. That must be where he’s coming out. I grabbed a bottle of water, sat within view of the doorway and got reading.

Then Danda called.

“Hi, have you landed?”

“Yeh, where are you?” Danda asked.

Now I’m a girl who loves doing surprises. I love them! I think that’s why I love Hide and Seek so much. And that’s why I said, “Just reading on the sofa.”

“Ok, I’ve just come out so I’ll be ages yet.”

O, he’s only just come off the plane so he’ll be a little while yet, I thought, whilst burying my head in my book again. Still, no-one had come out of the gate I was sitting by, which I thought was a bit wierd. I gave it another ten minutes, then thought something was up. I got up and walked to the arrivals screen and suddenly saw it… The international arrivals gate….

Ah, UK arrivals meant arrivals from other flights within the UK… Not just that we are in the UK. Of course we’re in the bloody UK. As if they would have specified where we are!? Hmm… Top dunce points to Laura.

So I needed to be at the international arrivals gate, not the UK arrivals gate… To be fair, they’re not that far apart so it’s not like I was miles away but I was all taken up with Prince Caspian so I was oblivious to it all.

I stood outside the international arrivals gate for a minute but felt something was wrong. There was no-one coming out. I had to give up my surprise fun and just call Danda…

“Danda, where are you?”

“I’m just on the bus to the car park to pick up the taxi. Why?”

“I’m standing at the international arrivals gate….”

“No! At Gatwick? You’re there?”

“Yes, I came to surprise you but I’ve missed you.”

“O no! Let me get the taxi and come back for you. Where exactly are you stand….. beeeeeeeep.

His phone died. I called back. Nothing. Just the answerphone. Again and again. Eventually I just had to go out to the road and hang about, hoping he would be able to find me.

So for ten minutes, I stood there, in front Gatwick airport, stranded and unsure whether I’d be picked up.

That’s right, I came to meet Danda at the airport and I ended up stranded, waiting for Danda to pick me up.

Well done, Laura. Well done.

*He found me quite easily and I invented a cover story about having just been at the toilet when he came out the gate. It made me sound less stupid.

Madame Forager strikes again

And so the foraging fun continues. There have been lots more nettles, which have found their way into soups….

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… But there have also been dandelion leaves, which went into a lamb stew. Apparently, you can eat every bit of a dandelion plant, from root to flower, and it’s really good for you.

The next thing I’m about to tell you I’ve ‘foraged’ is a bit of a cheat because I’ve been growing it myself. I got the kit from Hen and Hammock and planted it shortly after getting back from Italy at the end of April. You ‘plant’ it in the pages of a book you have soaked with water. Then you wrap the whole thing in plastic for a few weeks, until it starts to grow a white fluff. Then you cut the bag open and let the little mushrooms start to grow.

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Within three or four days, they have swelled up like some alien GM food and the dark pinhead cups have faded a little…

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… With just two or three more days of growing, they are getting pretty big and ready for eating.

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The plan is to harvest them tonight when two vegetarian friends arrive for dinner. I’ll probably fry them in a bit of truffle butter.

So I haven’t even eaten them yet! So most of this post has been a lie. I told you I ‘foraged some mushrooms’ when I should have said, ‘I am growing some mushrooms from a kit I bought and I will eat them this evening.’

If there is another post tomorrow morning, you will know I have survived the ‘foraged’ mushrooms.

G is for…

GARDEN!

I have utilised two of my recent blogging themes today (Trying To Be Useful and AtoZ) to tell you about the latest exciting developments in my garden.

Simon Gear, in Going Greener, told me to start a compost heap, which I love the idea of and have been meaning to do for ages anyway. Then my Abel and Cole deliveries started and there were little hints in their booklet, of what to recycle etc. One of the things they mentioned was composting. So it seemed like I was being nudged into finally actually doing it and I took the plunge and started searching around online for a good composting option.

Before long, I came across the Wiggly Wigglers and started to get excited. I’d heard about composting by using worms and on this site, I found a starter kit for £32 which would get me started on using worms to make compost out of my old scraps of food waste.

The basic principle is this. I put my old food in the top, the worms eat the old food, the worms do a poo, the poo is compost that I can use in my garden, to grow my tomatoes and herbs and chillies.

It’s like having a small farm containing only worms in a bin, kind of. So just the worms. And no other animals. And no eggs or milk. Just the compost. So sort of like a small farm. Sort of.

My next garden-related challenge from Simon Gear was a challenge to grow my own veggies. Now, the tomatoes, herbs and chillies are a standard summer installation in the garden so I decided to expand a little more, to step out of my gardening comfort zone.

A friend recently told me about a grow-your-own oyster mushroom farm thing so I checked it out again and decided it fitted well with my instructions and have ordered one. The idea goes something like this – soak a paperback book in water, scatter the mushroom seeds inbetween the pages, put it in the bag they send with the seeds, leave it on a windowsill, watch your mushrooms grow. Apparently I will get about three crops from it.

Books and mushrooms, what’s not to love?!

I shall report back on both the worm farm and the mushrooms. They are due to arrive in the post any day now. Oo, you should get some too! Then we can compare notes on how our baby worms are doing, like mothers in the playground.

P. S. Following on from previous posts, I have not been to a supermarket for 12 days. So for 12 days, I have only bought or eaten food that was grown locally, by people who I have taken the time to do some research about. It feels great. I have also not taken a bath, since I was told to shower instead.

The Great Chatsby

A conversation Danda and I had while waiting for a train the other day:

Danda: Laura, have you ever thought about how if that novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald was about a load of overweight people, it would be called The Great Fatsby?!

Laura: O yeh! And if it was about some people playing cricket, it would be called The Great Batsby.

Danda: Oo oo! If it was about taxi drivers, it would be called The Great Cabsby.

Laura: Or about people who wouldn’t stop talking, it would be called The Great Blabsby.

Danda: Or if it was badly written, it would have been called The Great Crapsby.

Laura: Or! Or if it was about that time there was a load of vermin there, The Great Ratsby!

Danda: Or if it was about all the different things they wore on their heads…. The Great Hatsby.

Laura: Or that bit in the book where he gets run over by a steam roller? The Great Flatsby.

Danda: Or when they went to the Tropics and got bitten… The Great Gnatsby.

Laura: Or when he bought a load of stuff at that car boot sale? The Great Tatsby.

Danda: Or that chapter where he put on a load of weight? the Great Gutsby.

Laura: Or when he had to have liposuction? The Great Flabsby.

Danda: Is this… Are we still doing this? Really? It’s been ages now. I feel like we might never stop.

Laura: Shh! Shh, I have another one. Ok. Here’s a good one. What about when he went on a plumbing course? The Great Tapsby!

Danda: Um. Ok. We’re still going.

Laura: Or that episode where Time Team came round to his house? The Great Digsby.

Danda: That was quite weak. We should stop now. They’re getting silly.

Laura: Ok, listen though. Remember when they did it about the working classes? The Great Plebsby.

Danda: This has to stop now….

Laura: What about when the pets took over….?

Danda: Please…..

Laura: The Great…..!

Danda: Enough.

Laura: Catsby!

*Long pause*

Laura: Yeh, ok………. *whispers* What about that time when he got locked out? The Great Latchkey.

Danda: *disdainfully* That was the worst yet. It doesn’t even sound like Gatsby.

Trying to be useful

Ok, everyone. It’s time for me to admit something. I’ve been living selfishly. It is the first time I have done so since deciding a while ago, that I was going to live unselfishly. I did my undergraduate degree in Human Rights and officially have letters that I can put after my name to prove I have some knowledge in this area. I became very interested in the issue of capital punishment and went to law school with this in mind.

…And then the law degree was long… And difficult…. And dry…. And not so interesting…. Which took me by surprise. I also wasn’t very good at it. No matter how much I studied and prepared and did masses of extra reading, I’d go to tutorials and the tutors would ask a question. As the excitable student I am, I’d be there, hand in the air going “Me! Me! Pick me! I know!” Then I’d say something like, “Fisher v Bell.” And the tutor would go, “No.”

….Ah. Um. Ok.

My exams last May were tough. My brain almost caved in. I needed a break. I liked people and I wanted to do good things with my life. But I needed to retreat and recoup.

My operation midway through the degree also didn’t help. I know it’s illogical and I know there is no answer to it but I felt annoyed and wanted to know why. Why had it happened to me? I wasn’t annoyed actually, I was pissed off. Really pissed off. Retreating and recovering was a way for me to also process what had happened. There’s nothing like a brush with death to clarify the important things in life!

So since May I have been doing things I like, to kind of shake everything off and make myself a blank page again. To start from scratch and remember what it is want to do. So I have been blogging, baking, eating, writing, reading, walking, seeing friends. And it is lovely. I like my life and I like how I spend my time.

But now I’m ready to get involved again. I want to do useful things with my time again. I watched Cloud Atlas tonight and someone said there is no point joining a cause you believe in as it will just be a drop in the ocean. The reply was that yes, it is just a drop in the ocean but the ocean is made up of drops.

I’m going to do an experiment for a while. I’ve downloaded two books about small daily actions which can make a little difference. One is about trying to live a more environmentally friendly life. The other is about anything and everything. I’ll post the tips from both books and try to do whichever is most feasible, or both if I can.

Let’s see how being nice goes….

Wish me luck.

A Valentine’s mix-up

Yesterday, I finished work at 3pm and decided I’d potter into town and get some ideas for Valentine’s Day. Unusually for me, I didn’t have anything planned. Now I’m a girl who loves to plan a surprise. Any occasion. I’ll get started on plans months in advance. I love it.

So Valentine’s Day was on the horizon and, for some unknown reason, I just didn’t get round to planning anything. I’m ok at last minute so it wasn’t a major problem but I was a little surprised. That’s why I decided to wander around town for a while looking for ideas yesterday. I thought I could form a plan whilst seeing things to get inspiration. 

I went into the fancy, preppy Jack Wills and perused the sock section. I visited Molten Brown and smelled the many shower gels. I looked at the photo frames in Zara Home, the jumpers in Crew Clothing and the books in Waterstone’s. Eventually, whilst wandering around M&S, I decided on a nice pair of pyjamas (that I will inevitably steal and start wearing within a week) and, remembering that it is just Valentine’s and not a full on birthday or anything, restrained myself enough to just decide to buy some chocolates to go with the pyjamas.

I headed straight for my favourite chocolate shop. It is called William Curley’s and is a haven of chocolatey goodness. It has won awards. It runs chocolate cookery courses daily. Its chocolates are flavoured with the delicate tastes of Scottish heather and Richmond Park honey. It is phenomenally good quality. I always put a little something from William Curley’s on the side of birthday gifts.

Danda called while I was on my way there and asked me where I was.

“O, just in Waitrose,” said I, sneakily. For I am very sneaky sometimes. “I’m getting us some dinner.”

“Brilliant. I’ve been at the garage all afternoon. The gears on the taxi broke. The mechanic just got finished and I’m driving back. Do you fancy going to the cinema tonight?”

“That sounds great. Call me when you get here.”

I hurried to William Curley’s, for I would have to get home and hide the presents before Danda got back or it would ruin the surprise. Turning into the little lane, I started to imagine what chocolate I would pick for him. I pushed open the door, stepped into the shop and looked up…..

…. At Danda!

There was a moment of recognition as we both realised what had happened. He was at the till paying and just suddenly said, “Get out!” pointing wildly at the door, at which I turned on my heel and fled, laughing uncontrollably.

O well. There goes the surprise! And now I have to think of a new plan for the chocolate part of the present, as I obviously didn’t get any. Maybe a hug will do?

What’s UP?

It’s Wednesday and time for my regular guest Blogger to take over while I have a day off. Enjoy.

If someone says those two words to you how do you answer? I suppose it depends on what you think they mean? Do you interpret them as someone who is caring about your situation and wants to put an arm round you to comfort you? Or do you maybe see them as a kind of rebuke in which someone is trying to ask why you apparently can’t do something they thought you should be able to do? It’s all in the intonation of the voice as the words are spoken isn’t it?

Today I’m using these words a different way – to ask what is the word UP all about. In its basic sense it means “toward a higher place or state”. It’s the opposite of down. Let’s look at some of the many ways the word UP has come to be used and maybe ask yourself why when, in many cases, it could quite simply be left out:

1. Why do we wake UP?

2. At a meeting why does a subject come UP?

3. Why do we say to people, “Speak UP”?

4. Why are candidates UP for election and elected officials UP for re-election?

5. Why is it UP to someone to write UP a report on a meeting?

6. Why do we call UP (or ring UP) our friends?

7. Why do we say that we can brighten UP a room?

8. Why do we polish UP something (table, car, silver)?

9. Why do we warm UP leftover food and clean UP the kitchen?

10. Why do we lock UP the house?

11. Why do people fix UP an old car or machinery?

12. We say people stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite & think UP excuses

13. We say to be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is something special

14. Confusingly we say that a drain had to be opened UP because it had got blocked UP.

15. Why do we open UP a shop in the morning & close it UP at night?

16. Why do we move UP in a queue or sidle UP to someone when we are moving horizontally?

17. Why do we call a raid on a shop a hold UP or a stick UP?

18. Why do we fill UP the tank in our car with petrol/gas when we could just fill it?

19. When the sun comes out, after bad weather, we say it is clearing UP

20. Why do we often call a cooked breakfast a fry UP? And get told to eat UP our food?

21. Why do we brush UP on our knowledge of a subject?

22. Why can we sit UP when we’re actually sitting down?

23. Why can we look something UP in a book when we’re looking down at it?

24. Why do we drive UP the road or lane (or even the wall)?

25. Why do we dig UP plants/flowers in our garden when we’re obviously digging down?

In many, but not all, of those examples it is just as easy to miss the “UP” out and the meaning is still clear. We can just as easily “wake” as “wake up”, “warm” food as “warm up” food and so on.

I suppose you could say that we’re a bit mixed UP about UP. It takes UP a lot of space in a dictionary definition. If you’re UP to it you can try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will, though, take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with lots more than just the few I’ve given. Have a think of more examples as there must be many more than the 25 I’ve given.

I could go on and but I’ll wrap it UP now because my time is UP and it’s time to shut UP!

As I collected the different meanings I put them into a Word document so I could save them. And you know what I called the file don’t you? – “What’s UP.doc”. Now tell me what was that rabbit’s name again?

So then, what’s UP? – I’ll let you decide.

300 posts!

That’s right. A whole 300 posts! And what fun it’s been. I was trying to think of something significantly 300ish to do to celebrate this feat but so far, since Yaya stayed over last night, I think the only 300s I have achieved today have been watching 300 kids programmes, putting 300 pennies into a piggy bank, making 300 play-doh animals and playing hide and seek 300 times.

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So I checked in with the world wide web for some impressive 300-related world records. The first thing I came across was this brilliant record of having over 300 dogs’ teeth brushed all at once. What’s not to love?! Unfortunately, I am 312 dogs short of being able to even attempt this record so that’s out.

Another great 300 record is the British man who holds the record for putting on the most pair of pants. He wanted to be the first man to put on more than 300 pairs and he has achieved it in quite a spectacular way. Check out the photo of him. Unfortunately, I think I don’t own enough Y-fronts to even attempt this. Even if I wanted to just put all my clothes on, as a pretend attempt at this, I don’t think there would be 300.

My next thought was of food. What could I do that would be food related and about the number 300? I found this, in my Google search, which looks epic and, were I a fan of crabcakes, I’d be all ready to make my own 300lb snack. Unfortunately I am not so I shall remain, happily, crabcake-less.

And then I found the ultimate world record holder. In fact, he holds so many records, he has the world record for holding so many records, over 300! I thought that if I started on his list, then I could possibly get 300 world records too, to celebrate my 300th post! There are a lot of underwater ones, like pogo stick jumping, juggling and unicycling which, so far as I know, probably wouldn’t be allowed in my local pool. So those are out.

He holds the record for balancing a pool cue on his finger and walking the longest distance whilst at the pyramids in Egypt. As I’m in England, that one is also out. I did find a few I can attempt though. Here goes.

Attempt no. 1 – Walking up stairs for 1 minute while balancing a book on my head.
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It was easier than I thought it would be, perhaps due to the fact that I had a soft back book, which flopped onto the shape of the top of my head and I hardly had to try at all. I got a bit cocky though and looked down to check where the step was and dropped it after 103. The record is currently 122 so I’ve got a bit of work to so on that one.

Attempt no. 2 – Most golf balls picked up with toes.
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I spent the entire minute trying to grip any of the balls and wishing for longer toes. I ended up with a grand total of zero.

For my last attempt, I decided I would attempt to sit on the sofa reading Narnia for the longest time ever, for 300 hours! That is soon to be thwarted though, as I have work in two hours…. O well. I tried….

Why I would be no good in Narnia

I definitely wouldn’t have gone that far into the wardrobe, for starters. There’s nothing Lucy likes so much as the feel of fur, we are told. So she climbs in the wardrobe and gets in among the fur coats, pushing her way further in so she can feel the furry goodness all around her. I, on the other hand, am not so passionate about fur. I might have stuck my hand or arm in for a second or two, then left. I certainly would not have physically climbed into the wardrobe.

I’m not that keen on Turkish Delight. Don’t get me wrong. Turkish Delight is fine and nice in its own way but I definitely wouldn’t have gone to the extremes that Edmund did to get some more.

I don’t say “Blast and botheration” enough. Digory, in The Magician’s Nephew says this line fairly near the start of the adventure, at a point where I would have said something like, “This sucks,” which I don’t think is child-friendly reading.

Even if I had gotten all the way into Narnia, I probably would have explained it away by saying I must have found my way outside in a freak snowstorm and never gone back.

Instead of going off to find Aslan and make friends, I probably would have concluded that lions are not the safest creatures to have as friends and stayed home, leaving everyone else to the adventures.

I don’t eat enough large spreads of bread, butter, freshly caught fish, currant buns and tea, made for me by woodland creatures. I much prefer something beautiful and dainty and, so far as I know, no-one in Narnia has been awarded a Michelin star yet. You probably can’t even get truffles.

Susan would annoy me too much. She’s always moaning.

Once inside the wardrobe and having found Narnia, I would have had to nip back to this world to get a book to read and probably would never have got back in again.

If I’d have found Aslan and he’d said I had to fight a battle against the baddies, I probably would have insisted he got the army in to do it and pottered off to the castle to wait for a text message to say they’d won.

When crowned, I would have requested that I be called Laura The Abominable Snow-woman, just for fun, which would have annoyed serious Peter and boring Susan, I think.

There aren’t enough mentions of cups of tea in Narnia.