Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Spring Greens and Baby Birds.

Bearing in mind we are super busy at work it seems odd to say I have just had a couple of days off, but it was kind of now or never and I have also had a less than gentle reminder I still have two thirds of my leave to take before September so how about I get on and book some hmm?
To be honest it's a combination of having slightly more holiday and a completely different leave year to Himself and also the fact that I thought I would need time to move again.
As it goes our landlord hasn't got round to filing his planning application yet and offered us this place for another year. We both admitted we couldn't face having to move again this year so we said yes. We haven't exactly got on with our downsizing so it's no bad thing really!
It does mean I have 2 weeks in hand and I don't really know what to do with it. We can't afford a holiday so I'm kind of stumped .
Mostly though I need to keep busy, it takes my mid of stuff so I keep on working, but I'm also aware of how horribly tired I am. There are worse problems to have.

I did a bit more tidying in the garden. My Mum is of the opinion 'Why bother?' but as you know I love gardening, it's how I relax and unwind, also the landlord did ask would we mind trying to keep on top of the wilderness so I feel I'm kind of doing that and a bit more. On the one hand I find it hard as a keen gardener to have such a an overgrown mess but on the other the wildlife it brings is an absolute joy.
Red Kite watching what I'm up too.
The bit that still needs tackling.....
Believe it or not there is a veggie  patch under there.
The bit that has been tamed.

The path and round stone edging was a surprise, it's fascinating to see the bones of what was once there, sort of garden archaeology. If it were down to me there would be more flowerbeds but hey it's not.

I absolutely love the bird life, it's such a lovely way to start the day sipping tea and watching them busy on the feeders. I have a robin with no tail (who is so damn friendly I'm not surprised he has no tail!) There have ben baby starlings an baby robin and this week 2 baby goldfinches. They are teeny tiny and so, so, SO cute
Himself has named them Harry and Barry, they may not have figured out how the bird feeders work yet but they have figured out if they sit underneath enough food will get dropped for them to get their fill. They are not stupid these two.

In other news we haven't been able to get to the park much due to other commitments and the weather ,but we are still getting out for a walk when we can. We have discovered we are about a really pretty 20 minute walk from a great pub so I foresee a lot of summer evening walks in that direction!

This is an old railway line that is now a cycle way & footpath.
I took this picture on a walk to christen my new flask, As I mentioned before Himself has a theory that I have a 10 mile limit before I get grouchy, I however have a theory that I have a 10 mile 'I need a cup of tea' mark so decided to invest in a new flask to test whose theory was right!

Being out in the air does my soul good. Last year when all the shit hit I would get this feeling like I couldn't quite breathe inside, I'd just have to get out and walk, even when it was blowing a hoolie. I need to make more time for walking.

It's not just work that has been busy. May is the big birthday month between friends and family they cover 5th, 6th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 22nd & 29th, as you can imagine it's a bit ouchy on the pocket and tough on the waistband and liver.

Himself's Dad is the 9th so we whizzed down to Margate last weekend to catch up and go out for dinner and a few drinks.

Though, hand on heart I am absolutely thrilled with how the town is regenerating after years of decay.
There does come a time, and in my case it was about midnight last Saturday, when you look around and find yourself stood, trying to get a drink, in trendily wood clad micro brewery, amongst a crowd of braying, bearded & man bunned DFL hipsters, whilst a guy with headphones and a laptop who thinks he's a hip DJ but is actually a prat, plays Jive Bunny (I kid you not) and you just have to wonder what the hell has happened to the town you loved.

I am getting too old for this shit.

Luckily we got to spend quality time with friends and family as well. We also had a couple of excursions to the cinema, I'm sure you have come to expect nothing less.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Which I loved, though not as much as the first one. Baby Groot stole every scene he was in.

Their Finest
Which was a surprise. For some reason the trailer had made me think it was a lighthearted comedy, it's absolutely not. Apart from Bill Nighy playing himself (as he seems to do in everything these days) which irritated Himself no end and Gemma Arterton's ever roaming Welsh accent we both enjoyed it. Sam Clafin is superb as always.

Mindhorn
Which was extremely silly and didn't amuse me as much as it did Himself.  

We have tickets for the new Pirates of the Caribbean which I'm excited about, it will probably be shit but I don't care I love those films.
I did also see a trailer that sent a chill of horror down my spine. For some reason they have decided to do a remake of Daphne Du Maurier's book My Cousin Rachel. This fills me with despair why oh why do they feel the need??

If you haven't head it, I highly recommend the audio book read by Michael Maloney, or if you can possibly find it, the one read by Richard Burton, they are both superb. Whatever you do, do not listen to the one read by Mel Gibson!!
(The perks of working at a copyright library back in the day meant I got to plunder their vast audio book collection!)

I shall leave you with my solitary frock purchase since Easter. Not a single handbag either. I had hoped I might find a gem in New York but we didn't manage to make it to the flea market we had hoped to go too, so other than a couple of t-shirts from Uni-glo, smellies from Bath & Body Works and gifts I came home empty handed.

I bought this frock when I was browsing the Attitude sale page for stuff for Nephew Number One.

Apologies it's fresh from the wash and in need of an iron!

*DFL = Down From London



Monday, 8 May 2017

In Art Deco Heaven

Well I didn't think it would take me quite this long to post about New York! Life since I have been back has been absolutely mental, but more of that another time!

New York was all I hoped it would be, it's been over 25 years since I was last there and since then my passion for Art Deco has grown 10 fold. This time I spent pretty much the whole time I was outside looking up, mostly with the slack jaw of awe, at this amazing city. It's going to be damn hard to narrow my choice of pictures down......

We arrived and proceeded to take 2 hours to clear security!?! dear lord JFK is a shit airport. They had 2 desks open at passport control, 2 freaking desks!! The queue was endless as you can imagine. This after having to have my hands and the laptop work had loaned me swabbed at Heathrow as well as the usual luggage and body scans.
Coming home was no better, chaotic systems and deeply obnoxious staff did not make that an any more pleasant experience. JFK flagship airport it is not!
I learnt that jumpers with lurex metal thread in them send the full body scanner into meltdown and lead to a full body search, won't make that mistake again! It was quite amusing to see the picture of myself standing arms up, legs akimbo with my whole upper body lit up like a Christmas tree lol.

The hotel, when we finally got there, was in the garment district and terrible chi-chi industrial chic darling. Not my cup of tea if I'm honest, too stark and far too up it's own arse. I  didn't feel particularly relaxed, mind that might just have been the 24 hour jazz, god I hate modern jazz.

I had travelled with my colleague Charlotte and we went straight out for a walk as soon as we had checked in and dumped our bags, first on my to see list was the Chrysler Building

we walked until we got hungry, me taking 15 million pictures, and walked some more until we found somewhere we thought looked good to eat. Then back to the hotel for a shower and bed.

The one crap thing about my room was the shower, no power there what so ever sadly, maybe it was deliberate, having a gentle trickle, maybe it's meant to be more relaxing or something. Personally I prefer a shower with some oomph.
New York also has soft water, Oxfordshire does not. I put my usual generous squish of shampoo on my head and genuinely started to panic that I would end up in there all night as it would just not wash out. Lesson learned and after that I was a lot more economical with the shampoo!

Next day we had a full day left to our own devices so we decided to just walk as this is pretty much the best way to see the city.
Look at all those yellow cabs, could you get any more New York?

We started with the High Line which is the old rail line to the meat packing district. It has been planted up and turned into a walkway.
It gives you some great views.

I just loved all the outside staircases they just shout New York to me.
I think we got in a good mix of the classic touristy stuff like the Empire State Building and the Flatiron Building

and some more off the beaten track areas.

We even chanced upon a farmer's market which was fun to amble about. Of course it was grey and freezing cold all day, bah.

Next day up bright and early, suited and booted for work, it was what I was there for after all!
None too shabby a place to work if you have too.

The first day was not so busy and went very well.

I also managed to make a trip to Bath & Body Works, a place I love, as there was one about 10 minutes from the office. I had a blissful half hour smelling new smells and stocking up.

That evening I had arranged to meet up with an old friend Shannon who lives in New York. We went for dinner in a teeny tiny little Italian place, ate huge bowls of pasta and talked and talked. She recommended going to see the Morgan Museum & Library which has free entry on Friday evenings. I had another friend Jennifer coming to stay with me Friday & Saturday night but she was up for it too so we added it to the itinerary.

Second day of work was also great, bloody busy and we didn't get out until 6pm, so a quick zip back to the hotel to hook up with Jennifer, change and then out to the museum. It's a beautiful place. Weirdly, even though it's been 6 years since I worked at the Bodleian it still feels like a bit of a bus man's holiday to look at old manuscripts!

We mooched in the shop and then grabbed some dinner. Jennifer and I reminisced and entertained Charlotte with some of our escapades. We have known each other for almost 30 years and used to travel a lot together, so there a many stories to tell that's for sure.

Saturday Jennifer had kindly got us tickets from the water taxi through her friend. It was grey, freezing cold and pretty soon the rain came and didn't go for the rest of the day, but other than not walking the Brooklyn Bridge because it was hammering down at that point we did the whole excursion anyway. If you stay on the boat it's a 90 minute round trip but you can hop on & hop off at various points which is what we did.
It's a great way to see the city from a different side so to speak. First stop was the 9/11 memorial and the church of St Paul's which amazingly suffered only one cracked pane of glass and became such a symbol of hope and place of sanctuary in all the difficult months that followed the tragedy.
I must confess the incredible feeling of peace you find at the memorial is not what I thought you would feel. It is so busy there now and also such a recent and shocking event but there is such a feeling of serenity at the pools.It's not normally the kind of thing I would think of visiting because I would expect it to be morbid and sad but I'm glad I did.

 Of course I braved the rain and the choppy waters to takes some pictures of the Statue of Liberty!

Once back on dry land we grabbed a late lunch at Macy's and did a little shopping as you do.

Charlotte headed off to change, she had a ticket for the opera, Jennifer and I headed to Time Square to wander about and grab some amazing pizza at another place that had been recommended to us John's Pizza, it was well worth the wait. delicious.

Sunday we had to be up and check out. Typically the weather turned and it was absolutely glorious so we sat out in Bryant Park with our breakfast before walking to the Rockefella Centre. We scooted back to the hotel to check out and see Jennifer into a taxi to the bus station. Charlotte and I then decided to leave our cases and go to Central Park as we were going to be sitting on our arses for many hours on the plane home so a walk seemed a good idea.

It was glorious.

Full of people enjoying the sunshine and yet you could still find quite spots, we even did a bit of bird spotting
Amazing what you see!

Finally it was time to head back, collect our bags and take a white knuckle taxi ride back to the airport. Sometimes my job is pretty damn great.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Start Spreading the News

Two posts in less than a week what has got into me?

I hope everyone is having a fab Easter weekend, so far we met my Mum and Nephew Number One and his girlfriend at Dad's care home. Mum brought prosecco and smoked salmon (got to love my Mum) I brought crisps and cream cakes (I'm all class me) and a copy of 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'.
My Dad is a huge Harry Potter fan and has been since day one of the books coming out so there was no way I was going to let him miss seeing this, sadly taking him out to the cinema is not an option, luckily the care home has a huge flat screen TV in their lounge. What you call putting the good into Good Friday.

Today we may go for another walk, if the weather behaves, not as long as last weekend if I have anything to do with it. Himself has decided I'm good for 10 miles and anything over I get cranky. I think that's a little unfair. Going straight from 0 to 13 miles is enough to make anyone grumpy, but I think it is more pertinent that more than 4 hours without a cup of tea is what makes me cranky!!
I have invested in a new flask to see if this helps......

Last week I needed a new watch battery so I headed to Debenhams in my lunchbreak. They have a watch mending concession in store which guarenttees the battery for 18 months so even though it's more expensive than the market it's worth it for a battery that lasts more than 6 months. Whilst I waited for the battery to be changed I browsed their Blue Cross sale. I bought some brooches, I'm not precious about only getting vintage when it comes to brooches.
 The pineapple, orange flower & parrot were a set. The girl who served me who was very young and very 'on trend' said "ooh when those came in I did wonder who on earth would buy them"  Me apparently!

I also spotted a biker boot size 6 in the sale I tried it on and it was a bit big but there was no size 5 and it was nothing thick socks wouldn't solve so I asked to try on the other boot. The girl took it from me with a deep sigh and walked off to the stock room at a pace that would have made even a funeral director tell her to speed up.
She was gone for about 10 minutes then shuffled back to announce she couldn't find the other boot so she would check the other stock room. Off she went through the store and as I watched her progress I swear to god I saw a tortoise overtake her.
I had enough time to collect my watch and contemplate life the universe and everything before she returned still with just one boot in hand. It wasn't in the other stock room either apparently she would check the first one again.
By this point various other ladies waiting for service had given up and left. She finally re-emerged still with just the one boot she definitely couldn't find it's partner. Could I wait for her supervisor to return? He would know where to look.
I asked when would he return, not a difficult question on the face of it but by her horrified reaction you would have thought I had asked for an in depth explanation of quantum physics on pain of death. In the end she guessed it might be another 40 minutes, I said sorry I couldn't wait and never mind, by this point I was already late getting back to work as it was.

As it happened I got my storecard bill through 2 days later so I popped in to pay it, I wondered if the boots were still there so walked past that department on my way out to check. They were and it was a different girl on the till thank the lord. I asked for the matching boot and she disappeared into the stock room and reappeared instantly with both in hand, they must have literally been just inside the door!
Anyway I bought them even though I'm not really meant to be spending money right now and I need another pair of boots like a hole in the head.
They have been a bit flattened at the top as you can see but nothing a boot shaper won't sort out.

On the subject of spending money when I shouldn't I had a flash sale thing through from Voodoo Vixen and just had to snap up this beauty for half price.
It's been on my wishlist for ages now, but I couldn't justify full price.

I also bought a pair of flared exercise trousers in the Sainsbury's 25% off clothing event. Now the clocks have changed Himself and I have been going to the park after work to use the exercise equipment there.
He goes every day, I have been going every other day. All part of the plan to get a bit fitter and healthier.
The only downside is it has been playing havoc on my wrists. I have had Carpel Tunnel Syndrome for years now, eventually I will have to have an operation but for the moment I manage it by, mostly ignoring it for as long as I can, and wearing wrist braces or Robocop Arms as Himself calls them, at night when I can't.
I really need to get myself some kind of wrist supports when I exercise because I don't want to give it up just because it kills my wrists.

I'd better finish up by explaining the title of the post. On Tuesday at th arse crack of dawn I am off to New York for work. I am excited because it's been over 25 years since I was last there and I will have a day each side of work to cram in some sightseeing.
I am also in complete denial about the fact I will be interviewing candidates for our Masters programme face to face Eeeeek. So far I've only done Skype interviews which I like, I can spread my shit out around me and have all sorts of prompts and guides that the cadidate can't see, face to face I won't be able to do that and I'll have to try and take notes as well as listen and ask the right questionsall at the same time, Good Grief.
Work has even provided me with a nifty little laptop and just handed it over like I'll know what to do with it hahahahahaha. (For those who don't know I am an utter technophobe.)
I haven't done anything yet in terms of packing etc so I really need to get my arse in gear.

See you on the other side, providing North Korea doesn't blow me up in the meantime.........

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Spring is in the Air.

Well haven’t we had ourselves some glorious weather this last couple of weeks? This weekend we had a rare free day so I suggested going for a walk. I thought a wander to a nearby village with a drink or two in the pub then a wander home would be just the ticket. Himself once persuaded of the idea had other plans, no mere 7 mile round trip for him oh no.

Kitted out with map, water and cookies we did indeed end up at a village pub sitting in the half shade of their garden I could have stayed there (drinking) all day, but soon enough we were on the move again and rather than back the way we came we were walking a slightly longer route back. Himself then confessing he wouldn’t be happy if we did less than 10 miles…..right.    
I should add here Himself has never been to Wittenham Clumps, the lovely group of trees on the hill you see in the distance in this picture.

The Clumps are a group of 3 hills and were an Iron Age fortification and burial mound, they are now a popular destination for hikers, dog walkers, kite flyers, picnickers etc. Well as Himself had never been there and as we were so close by *cough* he decided we should detour for a visit, at this point I was holding out pretty well so we did. 
I must admit it was gorgeous taking in the panoramic views and sun-burning my nose whilst watching some blokes crash land their model plane.

However The walk back home started to feel endless, trudging through field after field. According to the map we had to cross a road and walk behind a farm to find the footpath back so we entered the gate at the end of the farm driveway noting signs along the way that said ‘Caution Dogs Running Free’. There was no obvious footpath, the driveway ended and short of walking right up to the house we were a bit stumped. We backed up a bit and went into the filed alongside the house, maybe this was it? There was a small orchard with a gate at the end but also with barbed wire running across said gate so clearly no through route there! 
We decided to walk the boundary of the field to see if there was a gap anywhere, as we were doing this Himself said “looks like we’ve been spotted” and sure enough a dog the size of a small pony had galloped round the side of the house and was heading towards us like an exocet missile.

Now is a good time to explain I am not exactly a fan of big dogs, especially those moving at the speed this one was having been knocked off my feet and bitten by an Alsatian as a small child, I froze in sheer panic, visions of being torn to shreds filing my head. Even Himself, who is a dog fan was showing concern/alarm, when the dog skidded to a halt a few feet away from us and started to do that on the spot boundy thing excited, but thankfully friendly, dogs do. He ended up followed us all the way round the field stopping until you were a ways away from him them charging straight at you in frankly unnerving manner given his size. 
Thankfully once we had established there was no way out of the filed than through the main gate he was perfectly happy for us to shut that on him even though he could have jumped over it in a single bound!

Having given up on locating the footpath we ended up walking down the main road which did give us the opportunity to call in at Sainsbury’s for some wine & beer on the way home. Checking online later it would seem the elusive footpath no longer exists, our map is a few year’s old now. Turns out we did 13 miles, so much for my gentle and alcoholic afternoon perambulation.

Last week I was up and off early on Saturday to catch up with friend’s at The Living Rainforest near Newbury.
It’s a small but fascinating centre made up of a couple of greenhouses full of exotic flora and fauna. Where else would you get to see little fishies that swim as you would expect (obviously just to lull you into thinking they are ordinary little brown fish) then casually hop out of the water and walk about on their tails!?!
Or where else indeed would you peer up through the lush green canopy and see a sloth’s bum? It was too early for the butterflies to be out but I would definitely go back and not just to have those beautiful jewel like creatures flapping about your head as you walk.
I was fascinated by the fact that a lot of the mammoth jungle plants are ones that we grow as house plants in this country, clearly in their native environment they are giants.
I have both of these at home in wee flower pots of course. The cafĂ© was good too, so I would definitely recommend dropping by if you are nearby. Just don’t ask about the bird eating spider.

Monday I went to see Feeder with my brother and sister in law. I had completely forgotten they were due to play and that I had asked my brother to pick me up a ticket, so was somewhat flummoxed when he texted me “Are you going to come home or meet us at the O2?” Eh? Arrangements were made and a bloody good night was had by all.
I love Feeder and they have never done a bad gig, that I have been too anyway. We stood near the sound desk and got chatting to the lead singer’s parents who were watching. I loved the fact his Mum was singing her heart out and thoroughly into the band, why should getting old mean you shouldn’t enjoy a rock gig anymore? Alright give the mosh pit a miss but no need to stop going all together.

I was trying out some new aluminium earplugs from Himself which I really liked once I got used to them, my hearing is so bad from going to far too many very loud gigs in my youth that usually if I put ear plugs in I can’t actually hear anything at all! These weren’t cheap but I will definitely invest in a pair for myself until it gets to the point where I have to go around with an ear trumpet bellowing at everyone.

Himself and I also went to see Beauty and the Beast on that Friday, I really wasn’t sure but as it goes I really enjoyed it, except the ending which was just way too saccharin & schmaltzy for me. Bleurgh.
When I go to work on the Monday I had an email from someone called Gemma (who works for the university too, I had to Google her to figure out who she was! I had met her before.) asking me if I could pick up some flowers that had been delivered for her and she would meet me at the train station to collect them and give me a lift home. Not only did I not know who she was I was a little freaked that she knew I caught the train and where I lived. Anyway I realised she had sent me the email on the Friday and had meant that day but I had actually finished early, so I replied and explained why I hadn't responded on the Friday and said if the flowers were still there I was happy to pick them up for her.

Turns out she had collected them over the weekend but then in her reply she also said “didn’t I see you at the cinema on Friday, you were watching Beauty and the Beast” WTF??  I’m hoping this is the closest I get to having a stalker because it was a bit unnerving having someone know me but me not know them.

I seem to have had a bit of a lucky run with handbags of late, especially those of the classic British variety.

Two from Boots, one of which was unused and still had it's care card inside,
 and one Clarks no less.

I think it’s about time I had a sort through of the collection as space is not limitless and who knows what space I will have in the future. I might have some beauties looking for a new home very soon……

I’ll finish with another lucky Ebay score. I was looking at this Hell Bunny dress on their website as I had a discount code but they didn’t have my size and indeed haven’t for about 6 weeks though even though they assured me 5 weeks ago they were ‘restocking that week’ hmm
I was going to go for it in the blue check but then I spotted this one on Ebay and snagged it for £16 including postage and it’s only been worn once = result.

 I’m fully expecting a total desert lack of lovely things after all this good fortune.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Looking With Fresh Eyes.

On Saturday I had to work, which is kind of a boo because who wants to have to get up early on a Saturday and trail into town when you could be catching up on much needed ZZZzzs.

On the other hand when 'having to work' includes a walking tour of Oxford on a gorgeous Spring day who can complain? About 4 times a year we have something called an Oxford Experience Weekend to try and encourage potential students to fall in love with Oxford and come to us instead of one of our rival establishments.

The Friday is all about the school and the programme and ends with a traditional Oxford college dinner, while the Saturday is all about the city of Oxford itself.
It's actually pretty tiring if I'm honest, you have to be 'on' the whole time, getting in after 11pm then up and off again the next morning.
Having said that I always enjoy the walking tour. We tried out 4 or 5 different companies and ended up going with one which gives tours lead by current students at Oxford. They are always different and always thoroughly entertaining.

As you can imagine I've done a few now, from the bitterly cold, can't feel fingers can't feel toes, if I stand still out here a moment longer I might just die. To the biblical downpour where at first you make a hopeless attempt to stay dry and end up helpless with laughter because you are soaked from top to toe and right down to your undercrackers so what else can you do but laugh.

Days like this Saturday however are the charm, and this time I promised myself I would remember my camera.

A gorgeous Spring day in a gorgeous city what more could you want?





It's so easy when you have lived somewhere for a long time to stop looking up

to stop looking around you.

You hurry to the bank and back in your lunch hour and barely look up from the pavement, or more likely have your eyes glued to your phone screen, (unless you are me and a touch screen technophobe!)

Sometimes I forget what a damn beautiful city I have the privilege to work in.