Posts Tagged ‘bus’

From bolt cutters to the Bible

Good morning everyone. Today is Wednesday so I’m handing over to my guest blogger for a recap on his Bank Holiday activities…

 

I’m writing this week’s post at the end of a brilliantly sunny Bank Holiday Monday here in the UK. These holidays have a reputation for two things: getting bad weather and long traffic jams. The latter because so many people decide it would be a good idea to go out for the day. They do seem to decide this en masse and so end up travelling out in queues of traffic and then, as if by mass telepathy, they travel home at the same time as everyone else causing big queues on the return journey. Our day was good but will fill you in on that next week.

I checked to see what happened on the day I am writing this (6th May) back in history. It seems to have been quite an eventful date. Thanks to Chambers Book of Days for the following info:

In 1954 Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes – his time was 3m 59.4s.

A number of important people were born on this date (6th May):

French Revolutionary politician Maximillian Robespierre (1758), Psychoanalyst (& neurologist) Sigmund Freud (1856), Film actor Rudolph Valentino (1895), former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair (1953), American actor George Clooney (1961)

Other May 6th events:

In 1642 the Canadian city of Montreal was founded (as Ville Marie)

In 1937 the Hindenburg airship crashed while it was attempting to dock with its mooring mast at Lakehurst, New Jersey. 97 were on board and 35 were killed.

In 1994 the Channel Tunnel (between the UK & France) was opened.

So you can see it has been quite a date for important things to happen.

Interestingly on this date, in 1536, Henry VIII ordered that a copy of the Bible was to be placed in every English church and what I did last Saturday relates to this indirectly.

However, before I tell you about Saturday, Friday kicked off my week-end with something rather bizarre. It was time to give the grass its first cut this year. Out I went to the shed which had been padlocked through the winter. This year our winter seems to have dragged on rather along time and everyone (here in the UK) has commented on how long the cold weather has continued for. (Up to last week our nights were still hitting temps close to freezing!) Anyway I thought I could do a whizz round with the mower before Saturday which was going to be a really busy day (which we’ll come to).

I put the key in the lock and tried to turn it – nothing. I waggled it about and bashed it with a hammer a bit – still nothing. It seems that I’d now found out the reason why the lock I’d bought last summer had been such a bargain – it was rubbishy and just one winter had caused it to rust up. I now felt like a contestant on a new game show – no, not Who Wants To Be A Millionaire but Who Wants To Be A Grasscutter!

Question 1: You have come to get your mower out of the shed but the lock is rusted up. What do you do?

A – Sit down & cry

B – Try some 3-in-1 oil

C – Use a sledgehammer

D – Use bolt cutters

I was struggling at this point so I decided to phone a friend. “I think it’s D he said.” He also said he had some bolt cutters. Well that was good enough for me. I leapt out of the chair and drove to his place and picked them up. Now I have used bolt cutters in my work on occasion so when he said his were big I’d said not to worry I could handle them.

Here’s the picture of them

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They weigh 21lbs (1 stone & a half); they are nearly 43” (109 cm) long. I managed to get them home but trying to lift them into a horizontal position so I could snip the lock off was quite a feat. Anyway I managed it. Now you’re probably wondering just how big the padlock was. Well take a look at this next picture. It shows the cutters, the padlock – it’s that tiny thing up at the top left of the cutters, and as an indication of size I put a wooden broom handle (without the brush head) alongside the cutters.

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Oh well they did the job even if a slight case of overkill.

Saturday dawned. I was booked for a whole day of lectures at one of the halls in the University in Liverpool city centre. I had planned the journey starting with a mere 10 min train journey a couple of stops along the line towards the city centre. How hard could that be? I knew the time of the train as it was from my local station; they’re every half hour. I just needed to make sure I wasn’t late as the next one would get me there too late. I walked and got to the station with about 7 mins to spare to be greeted by a notice: “Due to engineering work on the line a bus replacement service is in operation”. I went outside – no bus. I went back inside and asked when the bus replacement service was due. “It’s already left”, the man said. When I pointed out that the train was scheduled to leave at 8.50 and it was still only 8.47 how could it be a replacement. It was then he told me that the buses don’t keep the same time as the trains. That meant that if I waited for the next one it would get me there too late for the start time. So off back home I walked and then drove to a station on a different train line; this line has a 15 min service and more importantly they weren’t digging it up on a Bank Holiday week-end! I parked the car and sped in. The train arrived a couple of mins later and when I got out in the town centre and walked to the lecture hall I actually arrived 30 mins early!

The lectures were on the subject of Archaeology & the Bible. There are many who believe the Bible stories and accounts of past events are a kind of made up mythology. This view is easy to understand when you see the way the popular press and the film industry have treated certain areas: think of the recent series (1981-2008) of Indiana Jones and the ark (as in a chest, not Noah’s Ark), the Temple of Doom, the Last Crusade, etc as well as many down the years that have not followed the Bible’s version of a particular event.

The first speaker highlighted just how many books had been written on the sensationalising of various “Quests” to find articles related to ancient Israel & Egypt. He also drew attention to the fact that they were thin on factual detail themselves while criticising traditional views for the same thing.

The main speaker was from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois and he tackled two other contentious areas: that of the time the Israelites spent in Egypt and then their route back to their home, which we call “The Exodus”. Again a fascinating look at the facts and how to interpret them.

The day was closed by a look at the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible which has been dated to the reign of the Greek speaking Egyptian king Ptolemy II in the early 3rd C BC. Its Egyptian features were analysed and briefly its impact on the New Testament.

When you listen to guys who have studied in their field for a long time (one guy over 40 years) you need to give their views a fair hearing and there was a lot to take away and ponder.

And finally, on a more light-hearted note:

On a recent visit to a bird sanctuary, I was in the part where they keep the kestrels. It was late and the sun had gone down. I thought I could hear one of the keepers singing these words:

“Enola gay, you should have stayed at home yesterday
Aha words can’t describe the feeling and the way you lied.”

There was a lot of noise like a vacuum cleaner also as he sang. I asked the receptionist about it and she said,

“Oh, that’s our kestrel man – hoovers in the dark” (say it quickly!)

HaHaHa!

Lemons and ice cream on Capri

Yesterday started well. We rose early, repacked our already stuffed suitcases and jumped in a taxi to Gatwick. As we had already checked in online, we just went to give our bags in and headed through security. The flight was quick and fuss-free (read: I slept through it) and we had landed in Napoli before I could say ‘truffles’.

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Danda, ever the efficient man-on-board, said lots of words to me about buses and ports and things while I nodded politely and looked around squinting my eyes and pretending to help when really I didn’t know what I was looking for.

We found our way onto a bus to the port and purchased tickets to Capri. The boat was leaving in half an hour so we were on it before we had time to get bored. After a 40 minute boat ride across the Bay of Naples, we reached Capri, a mountainous island, looming out of the sea and rising up to meet the clouds.

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Danda came to life again leading us to the ticket booth for the funicular, the train up to the main town. Tickets purchased, we waited a few minutes for the next train. It’s not really a train as such. It’s a cable car that runs up the side of the (extremely steep) mountain and gives you your first glimpse of Capri life.

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Lemons trees are in every direction, the sea is the backdrop to everything and houses are positioned on the edges of the impossibly steep slopes. Despite the plane-bus-boat-train combo, which had taken about six hours, we felt refreshed by Capri, as soon as we arrived.

We found our hotel, the Hotel della Piccola Marina, easily enough, a short walk away from the main square and designer-shop-lined streets but far enough away that it felt quite and relaxed. When we walked into the hotel, we knew we had picked a winner. The receptionist was friendly, chilled out and welcoming, like we were old friends come to visit him at home. He looked comfortable and easy as he walked around, showing us the hotel and our room.

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(The decor is refined and relaxed)

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That sums up Capri pretty well actually, comfortable and easy. There are very few people about as it is not the tourist season. The shop assistants and restaurant owners do not shout out in the street, trying to attract you in. They sit, working on their ceramics or paintings or jewellery, and you are left to wander in and out of them as you please. On the one hand, this could be seen as unwelcoming or aloof. On the other, it is fabulous because you can potter at your own pace, stopping here, looking there, having an espresso as you wish.
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It’s like the islanders know that visitors are here to do nothing so they leave them to move to their own rhythm.

And we loved it immediately. The views from the balcony promised much for our afternoon so we put on walking shoes and got exploring. And we walked and walked and walked! Up this road, down that one, round this corner, down this path.

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We found the Roman Emperor Augustus’ garden….

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…and had a lemon ice drink from the hugest lemons known to man…

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We also found a huge tower of flowers and so photographed me next to them. Look.

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We then returned to change before heading out to dinner, which wasn’t that photogenic but tasted great. I had the veal escalope with marsala sauce and potato and parmesan croquettes in a restaurant patronised by the celebrity elite.
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Every place worth its salt has a fair few of these pictures. Anne Hathaway, J-Lo, Rod Stewart, Ingrid Bergman, Elton John…. Capri is the land of the rich and the famous, of the moneyed classes, of those who can afford the singular luxury offered in the fashion boutiques and the unique perfume shops, offering fragrances made in small batches on the island to methods used by 13th century monks.

And we like it. We’re thinking of doing a Graham Greene and moving here. Anyone got any money we can borrow?

We finished the evening by finding an icecream vendor near the main square and got a little something to sustain us for the walk back to the hotel.

A day at Waltham Place (or: I want to live on a farm too!)

Yesterday, I had the most fabulous day out. Someone had got me an early birthday present, which was a place on a course about preserving fruit. The course was on a farm called Waltham Place just outside Maidenhead.

The journey there was quite eventful, after coming out of the station, seeing a bus already at the bus stop, leaping on and being what I can only describe as ‘adopted’ by two ladies on the bus. After I had asked if the bus went in the direction I needed, the ladies said it didn’t but I could get off near an airfield and take a short walk to get to the farm. I got out my purse to pay and the driver reminded me I needed the exact money. After scraping around among my change, the ladies almost got into a fight offering me the 20p that I was short of!

The journey to the farm then was smooth, after another man getting off at the same stop, pointed me down the right road. As I approached the main entrance, there didn’t seem to be any signs of where I should be…

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I was once again thrust on the mercy of the locals as I helplessly ran after a man I saw in the distance and asked where the course was being held. He pointed me up the road to the Ormandy Centre which, of course, I now remembered reading about in my notes before coming.

I found the centre eventually and was greeted by Adrian, the chef, and Nicki, his ‘gopher’ (her own words) and three of the other women on the course, for of course it was all women! The other women arrived and we started the day with chitchat, tea and biscuits.

Everything they gave us was made (and often grown too) on the farm. Adrian does all the cooking there. And that means everything. Absolutely everything. No help. He’s surprisingly calm and good-natured for a man who’s responsible for the feeding of a family and entire staff of such a big estate.

So our teas and coffees contained milk from the cows in the next door fields and the only non-farm ingredient in our macaroons and Viennese whirls was the sugar. The flour is milled on the farm, the milk from the cows is turned into cream, butter and cheese, and the eggs are harvested daily from the chickens who live in the next field to the cows. It was like taking a trip into the past, all the things we were offered to eat were homemade with produce from the surrounding fields. I started planning what my own small garden might be capable of and, so long as I don’t mind living on tomatoes, chillis and herbs, I could totally do this self-sufficient thing too. Maybe.

After tea and biscuits, we got stuck into a bit of teaching. Adrian gave us notes and talked us through the process of jam-making, the essential components and what does and doesn’t work. It wasn’t quite as ordered as that though. There were regular delightful tangents off into the obscure – long discussions about what goes into commercially produced jam, whether to keep one’s jam in the fridge, what fruits work and how long to keep jam for (a jar of Adrian’s, made in 1996, is still going strong today).

We were then given aprons and invited into the kitchen. We approached cautiously and told that this morning, the jam tasks were: raspberry jam, three fruit marmalade, lemon curd and blackcurrant jam.

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The other women piped up, excited about one of the other of the jams. They were paired up and given lemon curd, marmalade and raspberry jam. Finally there was just me and the blackcurrant, which Adrian said he’d help me with.

I was presented with a pot of blackcurrants which I went off to a corner with and put on a hob to heat.

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I heated my blackcurrants for quite a long time as they needed to reduce down by quite a lot before I could add the sugar. While the others were lemon zesting, butter melting or draining their fruit out….

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… I stood next to my blackcurrant pan and watched. I started to feel like the slow kid at the back of the class, still trying to work out times tables while the others progressed onto long division….

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It boiled for quite a while before Adrian gave me the ok to add the sugar and mash the blackcurrants a little bit. By the time I was pouring out my jam, even the slower lemon curd lot were long finished and on their second round of tea and biscuits. They do say, though, that good things come to those who wait, and my pot of blackcurrants yielded the most jars. Check out my harvest!

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We then stopped and had lunch, made by Adrian, of course. It was leek and potato soup and bread, fresh from the oven, spread with tasty yellow butter from the farm.

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After a long chat about recycling with the other ladies and me digging in to the bread, again and again, Nicki finally cleared away lunch, thank goodness, and Adrian talked us through different ways to preserve fruit.

So the afternoon tasks were ketchup, tomato chutney and bottled fruit. I ended up on the bottled fruit but had someone with me this time. We chopped and peeled the fruit and packed it into the jars to wait for our syrup, which was just a basic mixture of sugar and water. This we poured over the plums and rhubarbs. For the pears, though, we did white wine, sugar and cinnamon. Once all the fruit and syrups were in the jars, we put the lids on loosely and baked them on a very low heat for an hour.

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In this hour, we all donned wellies and coats for a walk around the farm. We saw the chickens who provide the eggs…

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…the cows who’s milk was in our tea….

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…and the gardens which are beautiful and colourful in summer…

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By the time we got back to the kitchen, our fruit was ready, the chutney was thick enough to go in jars and our day’s work was put on the table for admiring.

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By this time, there was nothing else to do but to have another round of tea, accompanied by two gorgeous homemade cakes (a tea brack and a Victoria sponge)….

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….and to chatter about what a brilliant day it had been and what other courses were they running and could we come on all of them please and how I wish I could become a lady of leisure and just spend all day homemaking everything I wanted to eat and not have any processed food in the house and o, if only! If only! Get thee behind me, Heinz, for I shall consume only homemade ketchup from this day forth!… Maybe… If I get the time to make some tomorrow after work… If I’m not busy practising piano and trying to become a world famous concert pianist.

A lovely Irish lady who was rushing off a little early to pick up her son from school had heard the story of my arrival and offered me a lift to the station. So all of sudden, in a bit of a rush, I was accepting her kind offer, grabbing my bag and running off. The journey home was fuss free and Danda looked very pleased when I arrived home with my crop from the day….

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We then spend an evening, nibbling some of each, especially the beautiful beautiful lemon curd, which is thick and spreadable and divine on bread.

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I honestly can’t think of anything about this day that I didn’t enjoy. If you are anywhere near Waltham Place Farm, I can fully recommend their day courses, for the experience itself, even if you’re not actually going to become the best jam maker the world has ever seen!

The time we spent the night in Keetmanshoop

For the past two days I have been working at the Destinations Travel Show in Earl’s Court with a travel agency I used to work for in Namibia. I’ve been spending hours talking to people about Namibia and the sights and how to travel around and I keep remembering a time when my friend, Lucy and I, went to Cape Town for Christmas. By public transport. That was out first mistake.

Before working in Windhoek, I lived in Luderitz for a year. Luderitz is one of those out-of-the-way places at the bottom of the country with few transport links and train tracks which have been swallowed up by the desert and the sand dunes. You pretty much need to have your own car, which we didn’t.

So we relied on the bus service. There was a bus inland from Luderitz to a town on the single main road running down the middle of the country, called Keetmanshoop. Once we were at Keetmanshoop, there were plenty of buses heading down to Cape Town. We had bought our tickets for the whole journey from Luderitz to Cape Town and, mistakenly, thought this guaranteed us against potential mishaps. We had our tickets! And we would succeed in our mission!

The first stretch, from Luderitz to Keetmanshoop was fine. It was five hours of talking to and playing with the other children on the bus, being only children ourselves really. Then everyone got off in Keetmanshoop and dispersed. Our bus to Cape Town was due to pick us up in about seven hours so we knew we were in for a long wait. The bus picked up at a petrol station so there was no official seating area or anything.

We plonked down with our bags which were bigger than us and full of nonsense we didn’t need for a three week holiday in a big city. We waited. 2pm. 3pm. 5pm. 8pm.

And soon the time for the coach to appear was approaching. It did not appear. 9pm came and went. 10pm. There was no-one else about and no bus. We took turns to walk up and down the road and look to see if it could have passed by without us noticing.

Eventually, around 11pm, a double decker bus rolled in and a few people appeared with bags and hurried to the bus. Being the polite Brits that we are, we queued in an orderly fashion as the others pushed in front, holding out their tickets. Eventually, we were the last two to get on, having not pushed in. We held out our tickets and the woman said, “I have one seat left.”

“But there are two of us,” we protested. “And we have tickets. Look. Tickets!

Seeing we were getting irate, she said there was another bus on the way, we were not to worry. O ok, we thought. They must put two buses on the route because it’s quite busy. Pacified, we sat down on our bags to wait for the second bus and watched the first one drive away.

We waited and waited and waited. Midnight. 1am. 2am. Lucy and I decided to take turns having a nap and keeping an eye out. Lucy went first taking a nap…. And didn’t wake up and I felt mean waking her. So I was in charge of staying awake to watch for the bus. I employed a method of taking walks up and down the road to look for the bus and sitting down to read or write letters. The black star-filled sky started slowly to turn dark blue then lighter and lighter. 4am. 5am. 6am. 7am.

So now we had been sitting on a pavement at a petrol garage for 18 hours and we realised the inevitable truth that there had never been a second bus…

We sat and waited for a new plan to become clear.

It was as we were thinking about what to do that a man approached us and asked what we were doing. We explained that we had been waiting for a bus to Cape Town which had never arrived. He was going to Cape Town, he explained, and did we want a lift?

We jumped at it and, thanking him profusely, made our way to his car with our bags. Now I think about it, he had all the classic signs of being a bit suspect. Pale skin, prematurely receding hairline, slight stoop, randomly approaching two young girls to ask what they are doing. But we were delirious with tiredness and without any better plan up our sleeves.

The drive there was pretty uninteresting apart from the fact that we listened to a Faith Hill album on repeat almost the whole way. And it was a looooong drive. I had opted for the front seat so was obliged to make polite conversation for the entire time, still unable to sleep. Lucy had cleverly chosen the back seat and got to sleep when she wanted.

When we got to Cape Town, he was stopping in to drop off his bags then take us to our hostel. While dropping off his bags, we were invited in to his house and ended up in a slightly bizarre situation making small talk over cups of tea with the parents of a man we didn’t know.

When he dropped us off, we gave him money for petrol, thanked him loads, took his phone number and said it would be great to meet up for a drink (we didn’t). In the Long Street Backpackers, where we were staying, the two other friends we were meeting were having heart attacks as we were a full day late and the bus company couldn’t tell them if we had ever boarded the bus. Of course they couldn’t…..

And in case you’re wondering, apart from the shaky start, we had a great time in Cape Town!

Acting on my bucket list

At the start of September, I posted a bucket list so I thought it was time for a little check in, to let you know about my progress.

1. Join a book club.
Ok, I still look hopefully at signs in Waterstones stores or online and intend to do it. To be honest, I forgot I’d kind of obliged myself to do it by writing it here so I forgot to make myself join one! I’ll do it, I promise.

2. Master front crawl.
I don’t swim as regularly at the moment for a few reasons. The main one is that they close the outdoor pool from October til April and the indoor pool isn’t as fun. Also, I pulled a muscle in my leg a few months ago so took ages to get back into it. Perfecting breast stroke is my main focus when I do get to the pool. Fail no. 2.

3. Go back to Namibia (or at least make solid plans about it).
Ok. This one is going well. A friend who I worked for as a travel consultant is over from Namibia at the end of this month. We are going for a drink to discuss a two week trip to Namibia next year.

4. Go on (or plan) an epic walking adventure.
Ummm…. Does Richmond Park count?

5. Try running (haha!)
This one I did…. Kind of. I ran for the bus this evening, which I jumped on in haste then five minutes later realised was not on its way to my house. It was the wrong bus. I ran. I ran for a bus. And it wasn’t even the right bus. But I did run. This is a fact.

6. Go to Secret Cinema at least once.
Ummm…. I went to the normal cinema last week… Does that count as being half way there?

7. Sign up for a college course (not sure what in, I just think would be fun. Maybe food).
I’m thinking of doing a course in history or ancient civilisation or something. Another thing I forgot I’d told the world I’d do so forgot to sign myself up for something.

8. Go to that restaurant in London where everything’s completely in the dark.
This one I have not done either but I have possibly done something better… I’m going to a lovely restaurant in Paris on Thursday which comes with a fabulous recommendation from my manager. I still have the restaurant-in-the-dark place in the back of my mind though.

So there you have it. Not progress as such. Not what you’d call ‘solid plans.’ It really just amounts to running for the bus and a planned drink with a friend from Namibia. But it is progress. Of a sort.

A new year of Chat

Ok, seeing as it’s a new year, I didn’t want to get too far into it before updating you all on Chat’s latest offerings. I know you miss it if I leave it too long.

The first thing to pop up on the Silly-o-meter is a photo of a woman wrapped in foil, reading Chat, and the caption, “All that foil didn’t stop my friend enjoying her favourite mag.”

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Err…… Ok….

Next is the inevitable fat story. Lou, at 48st, was told she had a BMI of 93 and must have an operation to save her from her own fat. That’s right, a BMI of 93! It should be between 18 and 25. You’re counted as obese if you are over 30! There are the obligatory photos of her in clothes which look like duvet covers for double beds and then a photo of her at ‘just’ 38st. Fabulous.

I mean, I get confused by people who are so overweight they can’t stand up or walk. At some point, one day, you noticed that you had stopped being able to get out of bed. At some point, that realisation occurred. And some small part of you must have thought, ‘O god, this is bad. Maybe I should do something about it?’ And you then, after thinking that, decided to do nothing about it. Why would you decide to do nothing? The woman in this story has a daughter. Even if she didn’t like herself enough, surely she thought of her daughter when deciding not to do anything about her weight?

The next story is called ‘Tall, dark, handsome and dangerous’ and, even without reading it properly, I can see it’s going to be quite mental. “My obsessed ex slashed my horse… I logged onto my internet dating profile….. I’d been single a few months after an eight year relationship…. He was jealous of my love for my horse, Jessie.” Yeh…. I’m not going to linger too long on that page.

Next it’s the medical pages. The best letter, by far, is called ‘Big bum!’ and is from Sandy, 34, who wants to know if buttock firming exercises will work. That’s right. Instead of just trying the bum exercises because she hates her big bum so much, she has written to Chat about it, to check whether they will work. As if she’s not capable of carrying out the basic daily functions of life unless Chat has okay-ed them first.

There is also a letter from a woman called MeLisa. I’m sorry, what’s that? Do I say me, Lisa? Is it like a normal name with ‘me’ at the front? Should I change my name to MeLaura? Or is it just Melissa with a capital L in the middle of it?

And now it’s time for the finale. The ultimate Chat story – a woman who is in love with a bus. Yes. A bus. In fact, she’s not just in love with it, she’s in a relationship with it.

She married and had three children. When her marriage broke up she realised the Routemaster bus called Ronnie, that she’d seen many times at the London Transport Museum, was who she was meant to be with!

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Yep. Now her and Ronnie are in a committed relationship. “How could I ever cheat on my Ronnie?.. Our love is real,” she says. “Ronnie and I are meant to be together. Christmas Cards from friends were written, To Ash and Ronnie.”

And that is all I have to say about that story. It speaks for itself really, doesn’t it?

My new yoga enemies

Today, I was going to finally deal with a Leibster Award I was given a few months back and was looking forward to it as I remember the questions being quite good. I had also planned who I was going to pass the award on to. It all promised to be very exciting. As I have the morning free, I was going to sit here and dedicate myself to it with gusto.

So I went back to the day I was given it, in early September, rifled through the comments and found the one which said I had been given the award. And I clicked on the link, all excited. And the link went to a generic WordPress start-up page with nothing on it. There was one post from 13 November which said Welcome to your new WordPress site. And nothing else. It totally threw me. I know I took a few months to deal with the award… but enough to make her pack in her entire WordPress career?

Hence, I am now a little stumped. I don’t have anything prepared for a post. But never fear! In my massively exciting world, in which I am constantly doing and saying really interesting things, I shall serenade you (serenade?) with a tale of what happened at last night’s yoga class.

I have been doing yoga on and off for about ten years now, sometimes at home from a DVD, sometimes at classes, sometimes just from a book. So I’m familiar with the yoga ‘scene.’ My friend (the one mentioned in this post) and I decided to go to a beginner’s yoga class last night, as she has never done it before. I called up that morning and booked us in and at 5.50pm, we arrived, legging-clad and ready to go.

We walked into the room and saw a bench in a corner, which had a few bags on it, so figured this is where we were supposed to leave our stuff. We approached the bench, put down our bags and were chitchatting while we took our socks and shoes off.

“Are you new to the yoga class?” an older lady asked, as we were taking our shoes off.

“Yes,” we said, thinking she was perhaps the teacher and about to welcome us in a friendly manner.

“Ok. It’s just that usually we go here.”

We were confused. Did she mean that the yoga class was happening over the other side of the room and she and the man standing next to her were doing something different there and we had accidentally left our stuff in the bit where they have a different class? But they had mats down as though they were about to do yoga.

“Sorry, what’s… Is this bit not the yoga?” I asked.

“Yes, this is where we have our mats.”

Let’s just get this straight. An older lady, one who should have known better, perhaps in her fifties, was telling us, in a rather condescending manner, that as ‘new’ people to the class, we should learn that this is ‘their’ corner. Like the naughty boys who wanted the back seat of the bus and woe betide anyone who sat there mistakenly!

I was clearly quite annoyed as we had not even made any moves to give the impression that we were trying to stay in that spot for the class. We were clearly just putting our stuff on the bench next to everyone else’s stuff and taking our shoes off. We weren’t even trying to put mats down or anything. We hadn’t picked mats up yet!

“Yeh, we’re just taking our shoes off,” I said, irritated.

She sensed my annoyance.

“O, I’m not being rude or anything, I just, it’s just that we usually go here. I’m not being rude.” And she smiled politely. As though I wouldn’t notice that she was being rude, simply because there was a smile on her face. I’m not fooled, lady! You’re still being rude, even if you’re saying “I’m not being rude” and smiling! You’re still being really bloody rude!

So we said, “Yeh, we’re just taking our shoes off,” and pottered off to get mats. We put them in the other corner of the room but we were still quite near them as the room wasn’t that big. Everyone else was sitting or lying down, doing a bit of relaxation before the class, being very quiet and concentrating on their breathing. The rowdy ‘naughty boys on the bus’ older couple stayed standing and discussing something or other quite loudly, considering everyone else in the room was silent. I caught snippets of conversation.

“…had sex for the first time in six weeks…. yeh, six weeks…. yeh, she’s not been well… had that fall….”

I mean, really now? You kicked us out of the corner spot that we weren’t even trying to go in and now you’re discussing sex at an unnecessary volume in a room full of silent people, trying to be silent and relax prior to their yoga class. What’s wrong with you people?

So the teacher comes in, she greets us and is saying that she can see a lot of new faces and doing the general ‘hello’ stuff and this silly couple, the ‘naughty boys at the back of the bus who love talking about sex’ couple, keep talking, right over the teacher. As if they’re trying to show everyone who’s really in charge here. It was honestly ridiculous.

So I shushed them.

That’s right. I shushed them.

ssshhhhhHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

It started small but they didn’t take any notice so it built until I was almost hoarse from shushing. It felt good.

The teacher joked that it was like a cinema. I presume she meant people shushing other people for talking through the film or being loud with popcorn. So I admit it. I am a shusher. I also used to do it at uni if people were talking through the lecturer’s teaching. That’s just me, ok? I’m a shusher!

So then the class started and I forgot about my new yoga enemies but as I’m writing this, I’m remembering all over again and am re-flabbergasted. So my friend and I have made a plan. Next week, we will arrive really early and TAKE THEIR SPOT IN THE CORNER! Mwah ha ha ha ha! We live on the edge. And if they say anything to us, we will say, all innocently, “O, sorry, we’re new, we didn’t realise. Well, we’re here now. That space there is just as good, try going there.”