Monday, 31 January 2011

Monday madness

This afternoon I met Jumanji at Charing Cross for lunch. Guess where we went!

I can't understand why the waiters kept giving us funny looks
That's right, Nando's, for the finest chicken in town! Today was also marked by a momentous event - I finally managed to take a picture of a meal before eating it! All credit goes to Jumanji, who reminded me in the nick of time.

A proud, hungry moment
We ate far too much, and I drank three glasses of coke, to ensure my bottomless softdrink was good value. Jumanji made me laugh, as usual. We talked for much too long, though, and she had to hurry off to her violin lesson (have I mentioned that Jumanji is a musical prodigy? I've lost count of the number of instruments she plays). Next time, we will have to make more time for hijinks!

Jumanji: extra hot
I also did a little bit of shopping today. I was in need of some new socks (I have mine on such rapid rotation I'm worried I'll wear through them all), and found some very lovely ones in New Look:

Fun fact: these are the third pair of cherry socks in my life so far
I also wandered into River Island and had a bit of a shopccident (to borrow the term from the boyf):

I've wanted a black satchel for aaaaages, and I rationalised that this can be my smart bag for work. It was pretty affordable, but I'm still feeling a bit guilty - might take it back. What do you think? The main problem is, I also went to Uniqlo (planned, this time), and bought some smart black jeans (that actually fit me properly) which are being altered for me to pick up tomorrow. I shouldn't be spending so much at once! Oh dear. 

I saw two very cute babies today. The first was in Nando's, wearing a white fluffy babygro with little ears on the hood. The second was on the (rather delayed) train home, and was far too busy staring at the Asian businessman next to me to let its mother put its dummy in its mouth. Perhaps it suspected him of being a banker. 

Right, it is officially past my bedtime, as I have to get up early tomorrow. I'm quite excited, but I will be much less so when my alarm goes off in the morning.


Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sunday sun

Sun! After so long! Today was a great mood-booster. I couldn't resist taking a few photos while I was in town today:

Crowds on the sunny South Bank

Butterfly banners! (I am becoming obsessed with anything vaguely Spring-y)

The most exciting moment of this little girl's life so far, from the sounds of things
Today was also the day The Godmother and I turned my bed. Apparently you should turn your mattress every month, change your sheets weekly, and get a new bed every 10 years. I never knew there was such a science behind sleeping. 

My bed is looking very smart, so I thought I'd share:

I'm getting quite excited about Tuesday. I've needed a change of routine for a while now (there was a point where my dedication to Public Affairs mornings was flagging badly) and (albeit temporary) entry to the world of Journalism is rather thrilling. 

That said, I really need to start putting some serious work into my portfolio to finish it before the end of February. Still have no idea what to do my business to business article about. The problem is, I don't really know any businesspeople. 

That'll do for today, as I want an early-ish night so I can get lots done tomorrow.

Au revoir!

Baltic reunion

I'm not going to bother to try to pretend that I spent this morning doing anything other than sleeping. It's not something I regret.

I had an excellent breakfast - bagels from Brick Lane (brought back by The Godmother and W last night) and tea, while reading about the protests in Egypt. I have no idea how long Mubarak will manage to cling on, but it's fairly clear that the Egyptian people aren't going to back down easily. Apparently this could have a knock-on effect in the middle east. It's strange to realise that I've always thought of Egypt as a tourist destination or a historical place, rather than a country with politics. I know I won't again. 

Today I finally got to meet up with Jumanji and give her her Christmas present (yes, it really has been that long), which was fortunate as it is now coming up to her birthday, and giving someone two presents at once is just excessive. 

We sat in a Global American Coffee Chain for far too long but it was much too cold outside to move. 

Jumanji, away from the bakery underworld (but looking a bit like an elf)
Jumanji decided to try out her new emerald green nail polish in the GACC. It's apparently a difficult colour to get hold of. This one is from Accessorise, imaginatively named Shade 2. 

Together, we make Christmas!
 I gave Jumanji an assortment of exciting things from the kids' department of H&M, and she gave me 60 jaffa cakes. Not joking:

Tip of the iceberg
 And also this snazzy but disillusioned notebook:

The temptation, of course, is to write a novel in it (possibly quite a short one)
Jumanji was excited about finishing her job and having lots of time for all her orchestra commitments. Musicians are weird. She also told me about all the people we both know who have gotten either engaged or married since I last heard (Jumanji is much better about keeping in touch with people, so it's really her fault that we took so long to meet up). It was a worryingly high total, especially as I think all of them are younger than me.

It was much colder in London than Woking today, even though the in-car thermometer said 3 degrees when W was giving me a lift to the station. London was almost painfully cold. I'm worried there will be more snow. I am in denial about it still being winter.

Time for bed again now, as I am off to meet my lovely Career Guru tomorrow, and I will probably need to do more career-getting before then.


Saturday, 29 January 2011

Things Have Changed

... I just haven't got my head around it yet.

Today was our last official day of Journalism School! Sad times, but at least we ended on a high note, with an exam that was actually quite good fun. We had to make our videos about an explosion on an industrial estate near Norwich (university friends - is this a real story?), so there were lots of closeups of wreckage, shellshocked Norfolk folks, and even a fireman! Very exciting. 

Our exam ended at 4, with the lovely Postman invigilating and dishing out technical support. We were in a pub by half past (even the stragglers (a group to which I of course belonged)). We had a very excellent supper (the set-price menu in the Crown Tavern in Farringdon, food fans!) and set about carousing. At some point we uprooted for the Three Compasses (I should probably check - is that the right name?) and its squishy leather sofas. 

I'm post-evening-of-merriment, so it's much easier for me to explain in pictures: 

Me and Lady Zorro!
Lady Zorro was as fabulous as ever in her Heatech tights (Uniqlo ad execs - pay me later) and enviable black heels (I mostly envy the ease with which she walks in them), and I got lots of compliments on my dress (even from a stranger in the bathroom, which was nice) and even one on my manicure (from another stranger (much stranger)), so I consider the evening a sartorial success.

Blondie, Superchef, Normandy
Superchef is back! Well, just for this evening. It was really lovely seeing him, and we were lucky enough to monopolise him on our little table for most of the night (along with Postman, who eventually arrived (we were getting anxious) after saving all our video exams in the right place).

Spot Jack Sparrow, our very lovely waiter!
Yes, we had an off-duty pirate looking after us. I convinced him to let us take a picture with him. This is why I probably shouldn't be allowed a camera - it goes to my head!

Bob and Curly (sorry - spur-of-the-moment nicknaming again!)
Hopefully there will be lots of other pictures of this evening, but I very stupidly forgot to change my camera's batteries this morning, so this is the best of my very small crop. 

I've had a very good day and evening! Normandy and I left before the hardcore remaining revellers headed into a club. I got a train with her, as there had been some massive accident on Farringdon road, with lots of police vans and fire engines, which looked like it had involved at least one bus. It seemed prudent to take the tube instead. 

On the train back to Woking, I got talking with a man called Aly (I forgot to ask him how to spell it! I'm a failure of a journalist already!), who sat down next to me and turned out to have a lot of the same connections as me. He's also from Edinburgh, also lives in Woking, went to an Edinburgh independent school (he went to George Watsons, I went to Fettes), married a South African (you may recall, this is my parents' homeland), and has Irish relatives (I have the boyf, which still counts, right?), and has a cocker spaniel (the boyf's utterly adorable dog is the same breed). Consequently, we support all the same rugby teams (Scotland, Ireland, South Africa, and anyone England is playing). He gave me the chips from his takeaway and told me about how happy he is with his life. Apparently, being 34 is awesome, as is having children. Good to know. 

I really must go to bed now. Really looking forward to this weekend!


Thursday, 27 January 2011

I done a murder

Today was a rare mid-week day off from Journalism School, not that I think any of us were complaining! I woke up pretty late after the excitement of last night, and it was lovely not to wake up to an alarm. I have done very little today, but I have an immense feeling of wellbeing as a result, so I won't count it as wasted. It's been a pretty stressful week, so catching up on rubbish TV and drinking lots of tea were vital.

Tomorrow would officially be my last ever day at Journalism School, if we hadn't got the portfolio extension. I don't think my portfolio would be a) completed or b) any good if we'd had to hand it in tomorrow, but it would be nice to be finished! Not that I haven't made wonderful friends at Journalism School, but I would really like to move on to the next stage now. (In a way I am, with my sort-of-part-time-temporary-helper job next month, but I wish I was doing that and devoting myself to finding a real job in my spare time, rather than putting a portfolio together. I really wish we'd had some actual class time for it!)

On to the title for today, please don't worry - the citizens of Woking are safe from me (for now...). I am merely looking a little bloody-handed because of my nail polish. The very hard-wearing, beautifully sparkly purple GOSH one was finally starting to chip, so today it is all change. This is ciaté, in a shade called 'Mistress'. Very exciting!

Excuse the make-up-less Photo Booth-ness of it all

The most useful upshot of today is that all my clothes are now back in my wardrobe (apart from the ones that are currently sitting in the tumble dryer, but let's not get carried away), rather than heaped at the foot of my bed or stuffed in the laundry basket. I sometimes forget to live like a grown-up, so it's nice to put things back in order. 

That is all for now, as I should probably go to bed (I do have an exam tomorrow). 



It's finally almost over. Having sat Public Affairs today, I may never have to revise for another exam again in my life ever. That would be wonderful. 

I think the exam went OK - a lot of questions were very specifically worded when I had more of a broad view, and some so poorly worded that I wasn't entirely sure what they were asking for and just put down everything. I was definitely making things up about directly elected mayors. But I knew things and I wrote them down! Oh well, I'll know in a few weeks. 

The best thing about today was having the huge weight that's been dragging us all down over the last few weeks lifted. As Video Journalism is a practical exam, there isn't really any learning we can do for it. At last, therefore, we have free time! (For a bit, anyway, until our portfolios start breathing down our necks...) 

I have had a bit of a splurge day to celebrate, but I don't feel too bad, as I've been being so good I was getting to the stage of forgetting my cashpoint procedure. After the exam, Ostrich and I went on a short walk to find the nearest McDonalds (given that the exam ran from 12 to 2:30, I think we were entitled to give in to our junk food cravings) despite nearly gale-force winds and persistent drizzle. It was worth it.

I spent the afternoon in Journalism School, helping plug and unplug things while people worked on their videos and generally not learning anything. In the evening, Lady Zorro, Normandy, Bob and I set off to find a cinema that was showing Black Swan. We went to Leicester Square-ish area, and nipped into a cafe/bar with exciting flaming heaters outside it for a quick drink (I can't remember what it was called, but it was opposite Ruby Blue, which is apparently some sort of famous expensive club).

Lady Zorro (startled) and Normandy (amused)
 Bob was going to go up to the bar on behalf of all of us poor exam-ridden flowers, but he was too embarrassed to order a liqueur coffee. There were lots of straw-carafed bottles hanging up around the bar, though, which suggested an establishment slow to judge.

Bob (with beer)
Having located the nearest cinema, we decided to have a quick bite to eat in a little dumpling place Lady Zorro knows well. I had some very delicious steamed vegetable dumplings, while the others had unspecified 'meat' ones, deep-fried (except for Normandy, who was being healthy too). The dipping sauce was a mix-your-own affair, with vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and some sort of chilli (very much like Lazy Chilli, actually) and little saucers provided. I think I'll be going back!

Dumpling! (I forgot to get the camera out until after I'd finished eating, as usual, but thankfully other people are more restrained)
 The only downside was that we were sat on stools facing ourselves in a mirror. I don't think my reflection bears close scrutiny at the best of times, but especially not while chewing. I kept looking up and surprising myself (although thankfully the food was good enough to keep me mostly distracted).

Lady Zorro with dumplings! (Demonstrating proper chopstick etiquette)
When we went to get tickets for Black Swan, however, they were sold out. In fact, they were sold out everywhere. We had a slightly farcical trek around Leicester Square trying to find anywhere we could see it, but to no avail. Finally, we decided to go for the 9:30 screening at the vue we'd originally tried, but Lady Zorro sadly had to leave us to meet up with her other half.

The cinema tickets were pretty extortionately expensive, but thankfully Normandy was able to come to our aid with an Orange Wednesdays voucher, so we ended up paying a roughly normal price each. The screening was sold out, as a man announced after we'd sat down in it. I don't think I've ever seen a film so packed.

Thankfully, Black Swan lived up to expectations. It was really good, building up plenty of tension and providing plenty of scary moments. Normandy and I were clinging together, unable to watch, on more than one occasion. It was also a really pretty film, even if quite a lot of what initially seemed beautiful was twisted by the end. It was the little things, like the contrast of the dancers' black and white practice clothes and the way Nina was constantly washing blood off her hands, that made it, for me. I know, I'm coming over all film-critic!

I feel much better, having written more of what I'd consider a 'proper post'. I was getting very bored of writing about revision!

No picture of me today, I'm afraid. I never got round to it while we were junketing about, and now I am much too tired and lazy.

Not sure what I'll be doing tomorrow, but as it's a 'self-study day', I know I won't be getting up early!


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Och aye the zzzzzzzzz

It's Burns Night! Being somewhat Scottish-by-osmosis, I have been subjected to these for a while. They usually involve a dinner to celebrate the big guy, which usually involves haggis, neeps and tatties, and, of course, bagpipes. Not a Burns Night goes by that I'm not glad I left school and am no longer being terrorised by all of these. The worst part is, I've never liked Burns (not even before people started using him as an excuse to wave sheep's innards under my nose!). Why isn't there a Blake Night? As far as I'm concerned he was doing pretty much the same thing, but in a different accent and with illustrations (don't hate me, actual Scots!).
This guy
On the non-poetic front, today has been revision, revision and more revision. The problem with Public Affairs is that there are lots of them. Too many, in my opinion! If the government could stop trying to outsource to bemused members of the public (big society? Not if Dave and Nick are in it) and tidy it up a bit, I'd have a lot less work on my hands. 

Can this be the last picture of me for a while? I'm getting a bit tired of my face.
Do not adjust your browser. Semi-autonomous hair is a result of skewering it out of the way before it was properly dry. Greyness is a result of Photo Booth
Off to bed, hope my next post is triumphant and revision-free!

Ninja edit: This is my 100th post! I don't half witter on. Thanks, everyone who's been reading this blog, I hope you're not bored yet!

Monday, 24 January 2011

These words are a title

I'm rebelling against Photo Booth, largely because if you're taking photos every day, you generally end up with exactly the same picture, unless you've done something unusual with your hair and make-up, and I couldn't be bothered. So, camera shot, and I'm sure you feel all the better for it.

Of course I'm awake, look how wide I can open my eyes!
I apologise if I'm not managing to make sense today, it's down to having stayed up revising, got up early to join the Real Commute (my usual in-by-10am-or-whenever-my-bus-arrives is like playing Transport Wars on easy mode), revised on the 12-coach express service, stormed to my bus stop, barged my way onto the second bus to arrive, dragged myself to Journalism School, revised some more, sat a 2 1/2 hour exam, talked about the exam, repeated the commute in reverse, got a lift home from The (very kind) Godmother and sat around in a dazed state for most of the afternoon unable to understand why I'm so tired. I did meet the windowcleaner, though, with whom we had a Public Affairs-related discussion, which practically counts as revision. I did also manage to read newspapers and do some highlighting while slumped in front of the television. Just reading the number of things the queen has to do makes me tired!

The Law exam went pretty well, incidentally. It seems I revised the right bits just well enough. I'm not expecting the distinction Wheels is hoping for for all of us, but I think I've passed, which is nice. According to the Tornado, Public Affairs is much easier. I can but hope.

Need to sleep now, so I'm afraid I have to be boring again. For now, boring is good. Boring gives me time to deal with exams. Can't wait to return to my usual crazy antics soon, though, and neither can you I'm sure.


Sunday, 23 January 2011

Revision revision

A very similar picture to yesterday, for very similar reasons (although thankfully not blackout this evening). This time featuring revision, which is kind of where my day went. OK, I did also have a lie-in, read the Sunday papers and pace around quite a bit, but that's pretty much it. I'm looking forward to going outside tomorrow. 

That is the only thing I'm looking forward to, however, as I am going to have to be up very early to get there the specified 40 minutes before my 9:30 exam. Stupid commute. Stupid nonsensical exam times. 

Therefore, I am off to bed now. Goodnight!

Blackout chic

Today was dedicated mostly to catching up on sleep and revision, so it would have been a waste apart from the sleep. 

As I sadly had no plans to leave the house, even, you're treated to my normal lounging-around-the-house wear, which is to say, a well-worn black hoodie, down gilet (as the boyf insists on calling it) and either jeans or pyjamas. You'll have to guess which, though, as today's picture is very last minute and I sadly couldn't bring Ostrich home with me for the weekend.

Photo Booth-a-licious
The most exciting thing that happened today (and it was actually pretty exciting) was a powercut. Apparently they've been hitting Woking more and more frequently, so I was lucky to have The Godmother here to teach me the drill for next time. 

The lights all went out (and, more upsettingly, the internet cut off) while I was in the middle of revising, as evidenced by the quantity of paper littering my bed:

My laptop was on for music purposes, I swear
The Godmother was quick to break out a torch and some sort of hurricane lamp, and we lit candles in the kitchen. It turns out powercuts are pretty boring, once you've finished phoning the electricity company, so we got on with making supper (the stove is gas, so apart from the spark-maker-thing, it was thankfully working fine). I've never made a risotto in semi-darkness before, but it was quite good fun!

The Godmother keeping calm and carrying on
I think it lasted less than an hour, in total, and then we just had to wait for W to get home so we could eat the fruit of our labours. My revision had been abandoned in the darkness, and when the lights came back on, I was distracted by making a salad and various other very important tasks.

Lemon, parsley and chicken risotto - extremely good
Supper was excellent. We even had a plum and apple crumble for pudding, after a seemly interlude, in which we completed a crossword in record time. I then trooped back upstairs to do some more revision, while W and The Godmother worked their way through some more of the vital % saved on their Sky Plus box. 

It is now quite late, and although I fully intend to have an impressive lie-in tomorrow, I'd quite like some time to do other things too, so I will stop wittering now.


Friday, 21 January 2011

Everything will look better in the morning

Today, were it not for the excellent photography skills of Ostrich (who I should probably start paying or something), you would be seeing cracks. Not such dramatic ones as on the Black Swan posters (really want to see that movie), but cracks nonetheless.

The sign in the background is a very accurate summation of our current situation 
I really should have stayed in bed today. Or got something useful done, like, oh I don't know, maybe revision for the Law exam on Monday. On the plus side, I have much better self-control than I'd previously realised.

Also, I'm very tired of people telling me what it's like 'in the real world', 'on a real paper' or any variation thereof, especially when they are using it to justify interfering with my ability to get the qualifications that will let me work in the real world.

That's all I'm going to say on the matter.

In the interests of this post not being wholly negative, some more junk mail (my last batch seems to have had a bizarrely enthusiastic reception):

Dear Mrs Tina Samson,

I'm afraid I'm not sure I'd meet your standards, as I have very little experience of business and am not at all reliable.



> Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2011 05:12:34 -0200
> Subject:
> From:
> To:
> Dear Sir/Madam !
> Firstly i will like to introduce my self to you.
> I am Mrs Tina Samson,I'm from United Kingdom (England).I'm working as the
> procurement manager to SOVIC CHEMICAL LTD, I need the correspondence of a
> reliable Business partner,A trust worthy person that can handle business
> for me in your region.
> Your urgent responds is of great kind.
> Regards
> Mrs.Tina Samson

That's all, folks.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

I don't really know how to explain this, but I really, really want to see it

Afraid I couldn't find an unsubbed one.

That Thursday feeling

I am trying to keep up with the picture-a-day thing, and with the preparing-for-exams thing, but I was very lazy and rushed this morning, so it was The Cardigan again. This was largely due to the cold, I must admit - winter's back and I don't like it! I braved icy rainshowers on the way to the station, and was very glad W came to pick me up this evening. Not pictured: full set of my trusty Uniqlo thermals that went on under everything.

A poser? Moi?
Everyone at Journalism School is looking very tired (except Fireman, who was apparently living it up in shorts in his native Leicester yesterday, but I don't think even looming exams could succeed in putting him off his lunch), and a few of us are looking very absent, too! Tornado is getting rather badtempered and has taken to sending us threatening emails about coming in tomorrow (Ignore At Your Peril, indeed), probably because he's going to have to, too. 

Excitingly, some men came to restock the vending machine today, which is now even giving back change! They've left some sort of invoices inside the machine, though. I'm still not sure whether someone should be told... 

That is all I can tell you, really. In Public Affairs, we learned about the different types of school, and in Law we went through another past paper. 

Roll on February! 

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Never knowingly under-blogged

Today we have some more pictures, mostly because they take up space nicely, but also because I've decided to try the chart-my-progress thing. I may even encourage me to dress a bit snazzier this week, who knows?

Today, we have an appearance from the world's comfiest skirt. (Guess what shop it's from. Just guess.) It makes me twirl around a lot when I think no one's looking. 

Genuinely distracted by a magazine

Excited about being on a desk

The pictures are again thanks to the very talented Ostrich, and you can make out fellow students working hard in the background, despite the fact it was past 7 at this stage. Yes, we're dedicated, but it is thanks to this dedication (and the help of Postman, who you can just see in green) that I can happily announce that my video is finished. Finally!

Today's lessons, for anyone who missed them and is using the blog to catch up (not necessarily a bad idea, I'm rather repetitive on that front), were pretty hard work, although (for me, at least) the situations were reversed. In Public Affairs, I was able to alertly engage with economics (and there's a sentence I never thought I'd type), whereas halfway through the Law revision session (with no break!) I was flagging. I need more sleep! I have no idea how I'm this exhausted, I'm being very strict with myself about being in bed before midnight, but I still battle with the snooze button in the mornings. 

Speaking of which, I've set an even earlier bedtime tonight. Goodnight, sweet princes!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Another glimpse of Journalism School

Today, for no real reason other than to reassure you that I'm alive and this blog isn't being updated by an internet impostor, we have a picture of me!

Ostrich was kind enough to take it for me before I sloped off home this evening (she was staying behind to work on her video as the charming Postman (no, he's not a real postman. Those who know him should get it, though, or disgrace their childhoods forever) had come in to offer tech support). I was in a very slouchy mood this morning, can you tell? Ostrich said she likes my little knit dress, and she has excellent taste, as I have worn it nearly to death since I got it from my currently globe-trotting aunt the Christmas before last. I am slightly in danger of turning into grey knitwear if I get any more, though.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the smile of learning being over for the day
Perhaps there will be more photos over the next couple of weeks, to chart my progress from relatively chilled-out (apparently chilled-out is my base state. Two people have told me this recently, so it must be true! I'd always thought I was normal on the stress/chill stakes, but whatever) to exam-deranged. Could be fun!

I realised this evening that I've mentioned a short-term job, and before that some exciting news, but haven't ever properly explained. Some blogger I am! Come February, I have been asked to help out on the Register section of a certain newspaper (which happens to have been very helpful on the work experience front). Apparently they really need the help, because they've offered to pay me! Not a lot, but much more than sitting around watching Come Dine With me (although I suspect that is still my vocation). I'm very excited, as (sad, sad person that I am) I find it very exciting going into the office every morning. Even more excitingly, I am off to Dublin in the first week of March, to see the boyf again!

On a much less exciting note, is anyone else worried about the economy? I know the jump in inflation and predicted hike in interest rates is very topical to our Public Affairs lessons (although I think some people are still confused, as everyone kept mixing up 'inflation' and 'interest rates' while we were talking about them), but I'd quite like to go to the shops without having to deal with prices like £2.49 (for boxes of cereal this afternoon). It's at times like these that I wish there was a political party I would actually vote for.

On that cheerful note, goodnight!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Reader discretion (somewhat) advised

I have good news! I have broken the back of my VJ project like a bulky but incompetent wrestler. Granted,  I missed out on an exciting visit to the BBC (apparently Richard Hammond was somehow involved), but I've finally managed to make progress and it's a weight off my mind and suchlike. Besides, I was a little unwell this morning, and I don't think I would have covered myself in glory by covering BBC HQ in vomit (sorry). 

Speaking of (sorry again), I caught about half of One Born Every Minute this evening. It was simultaneously fascinating and horrifying. I never knew there were so many different ways to have babies, and so many different pain noises! Incidentally, when my time comes, I intend to have two children, Morphine and Caesarean. 

I've almost finished sharing this evening, don't worry! Lastly, I would like to share with you the nail polish that has been cheering me up whenever I catch sight of my (slightly poinsonous-looking) fingers today: 

It's from GOSH, I think, and the colour is 'Gasoline'. Very exciting!

That's it for tonight, hope everyone had a good day!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

I can almost hear the bagpipes in the distance...

I've realised, scrolling down, that my last four posts all have pictures of food in them. Maybe it is my one true love, after all! Instead, today we have a picture that reminds me why I love Scotland:

Picture from image scotland
My father told me today that one of his (similarly intrepid) friends had a site with some really beautiful photographs. He's right - they're the visual equivalent of Rainy Mood. Click the link above and fall in love with my adopted country!

In other news, I did very little again today. I think it's good for me. I had a wander around Woking this afternoon, to find not much open and not much to interest me (although there are some quite nice handbags in the Clarks sale (but then I'm not supposed to be spending money right now), but I'm glad I went outside. I was only wearing a long sleeved T-shirt under my coat today! Very exciting. It's supposed to be 11 degrees and sunny in London tomorrow, so it might even feel like Spring's approaching. 

Off to bed now, not looking forward to more wrestling with my video tomorrow at all. Two weeks and then I just have a temporary job to worry about! (And finding a real one, and completing my portfolio, and waiting for exam results... I'll stop.)



For no adequately definable reason, tonight's post is about carbonara. Well, OK, it's mostly because that's what I made myself for supper and I haven't really done all that much today (although I did go and see The King's Speech with W, The Godmother, and J, The Godmother's sister (it was really sweet and extremely pretty, in case you were wondering)).

My version of carbonara includes mushrooms, which leads my mother to insist that it's not real carbonara. This springs from a time when the boyf and I would buy bacon and mushrooms pretty much every time we did a grocery shop, as most of our stand-by easy suppers involved them.

The first time I ever tried to make carbonara, it was a disaster. I think this was mostly because the recipe I was using specified crème fraiche (I still have no idea what that is, as compared to, say, soured cream), and I don't think I really grasped the concept. I was cooking for friends, so the resultant watery, semi-separated mess was rather embarrassing, and I didn't go back to carbonara for quite a while. Eventually, something prompted me to google it, and I got a better feel for the idea behind it and managed to make a passable version of my own. I'm glad I did, because it is probably the tastiest fast meal in my repertoire.

I use a mixture of cream and beaten egg for the sauce. Due to poor prior planning, I have tried making carbonara without the cream, and without the egg (on separate occasions, of course), and found that you can leave out the egg, but the cream is vital. Lady Zorro has told me, however, that the Italians just use egg, and the addition of cream is not authentic. I'm pretty sure none of the versions I have eaten in various restaurants over the years have been as dry as my egg-only version, but perhaps that's because I don't use cheese.

My recipe is very simple:

1. Put kettle on to boil. Meanwhile, chop up bacon and mushrooms.

2. Put pasta on to cook and fry bacon and mushrooms. Beat an egg (1/2 to 1 per person, usually) and mix in cream with plenty of pepper.

3. As soon as pasta is cooked, drain and add to bacon and mushrooms, either in frying pan or pasta pan, depending on space issues. Pour over egg and cream and mix briskly. Serve asap. Eat fast.

Top Tip: I don't see the point of unsmoked bacon.

I hope that inspires any hungry people! I'm starting to feel a bit like Superchef!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Shorthand! Pizza! Michael Caine!

I'm typing this at an insanely late hour, considering the time I woke up (and the fact that I am an old lady now), but I'm too tired to work out how long ago that was, so you are spared for now. 

My shorthand exam this morning was... well, I'm not sure. I think I'm exactly 50-50 - I know I made at least two mistakes, and I'm not sure how well I've recalled the phrasing of some of the sentences in the middle, given that I was 3 or 4 behind the actual dictation at one point, but then, there is some margin for error, and I wasn't sure about my recall last time. We shall see.

The afternoon was mostly taken up with wrestling with my video piece, trying to upload it so I can start work on the editing. It's quite frustrating that we haven't seen our teacher for a while, as I think quite a few of us need help/guidance. I have to say, I don't like VJ-ing. It's bad for the nails. 

The evening, however, was good fun (and I felt I deserved it, after hours in a sweltering computer room while a significant proportion of the class had gone straight to the pub (some of them may still be there), although I had Normandy to keep me company so it wasn't all bad). Whizzkid is leaving for Norwich tomorrow (today, in fact), to resume his student life, so we had to meet up one last time, despite his unfinished packing and my lack of life this month. We met in Trafalgar Square, although as anyone who knows him very well will have realised, when I say this I mean that I waited for him in Trafalgar Square for about 15 minutes before getting a phonecall updating me on his co-ordinates. I was asked for directions twice and a tourist had taken a photograph of me before he eventually rocked up. But such is life (or rather, such is Whizzkid), and I can't pretend punctuality is my own most obvious virtue. 

I did have time for some touristy snaps while waiting:

Your taxes at work
After some wandering around in the general vicinity looking for somewhere with cheap-ish food and a free table, we found an Italian place with a 2-for-1 deal on pizza. I was actually quite impressed - when they did manage to seat us, the service was excellent (although this may have something to do with the fact that, near-overcome with thirst and hunger, I flagged down a waiter less than a minute after we'd been handed our menus and we reeled off our orders at top speed. I'm normally much more polite, I should add, and let them get round to me like a civilised person, but I was in a fit state to beat a path to the kitchen at that stage), the food was good and arrived very quickly, the waiters were all rather nice Italian types, and it was, with the deal, gratifyingly reasonable, at £25.31 for the both of us (including a beer and ice cream for Whizzkid and a coke for me).

Delicious technically free pizza
Emerging from the restaurant rather full (I speak entirely for myself on this front, as Whizzkid has the hollow leg syndrome often found in skinny young men) we ended up wandering around Soho for a while (very interesting, but a lot of the people there didn't seem particularly receptive to amateur photography), visiting a Japanese supermarket called Arigatou, which stocked, to Whizzkid's delight, mayonnaise in bags. From there we made our way up Regent Street to Bond Street, stopping to see a Thai restaurant with a large and mystifying display of what appeared to be moss in the window, and a large waxwork of Michael Caine in a tourism bureau window:

Am I alone in discerning a vague likeness to Wheels?
There were quite a few stretch limos out (and stretch other things as well), with quite impressive stereo systems, from the sounds of things. In the shopping district, we found Whizzkid a nice grey jumper in (you guessed it) Uniqlo, to go under his new coat, as all his other jumper-style clothes have hoods, which just don't work. We visited the waffle stall next to Bond Street underground station (if you've ever ascended the steps of that station, you'll know the one I mean, by smell at least) and devoured our waffles on another walk, this time to Waterloo. I'm still full. 

Whizzkid is going to miss London very much
We caught different trains from Waterloo. When I'd sat down in mine, I realised I had the bag with Whizzkid's new jumper in it (I'd somehow ended up carrying it for the poor shivering mite (he forgot his scarf. Bad move)), so had to make a bit of a dash to his platform to pass it over the barriers to him. I've done too much exercise today!

W very kindly gave me a lift from the station, sparing me yet more walking today, and I have been relaxing quite quietly on a sofa for the past few hours. I'm not sure if I'm actually going to be able to wake up tomorrow...

On that note, goodnight!

P.S.: Good luck in Norwich, Whizzkid!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Duck duck goose

Tonight's blog is brought to you courtesy of The Godmother's excellent cherry duck. I came home a little late, having been persuaded (admittedly quite easily) to go to the pub for a proverbial Quick One with Lady Zorro, Normandy, Wheels and Bob. Getting back to Woking a little late, I was not only given a lift back from the station by W, but also found a very delicious supper waiting for me. I'm spoiled indeed!

It was very delicious, and having raved about it last time, I thought I'd show you what it looks like in the flesh, so to speak:

I am really not looking forward to the shorthand exam tomorrow, although I practiced on the train both ways today, using Ian Rankin's Blood Hunt (the audiobook). The Chinese businessmen on the train in the morning were thoroughly confused by my scribbling, although having an audience just increased the pressure so I didn't put on a particularly good performance for them.

I'm having an early night, as we have to be in early for the warm-up. Having said that, I had planned to be in bed at 10. There just aren't enough hours in the day!

Good luck, fellow examinees!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Pollyanna strikes back!

I think this one's fairly self-explanatory

In a shock shake-up (!), today's post will not be about what I did at Journalism School or how tired I am, but a short list of things that make me smile. I know, I did something similar a while ago, and that had a picture I took myself, but I feel like it, and nothing particularly mind-blowing occurred today (unless you count what was possibly the start of Moonbeam's campaign against prostitution, but that was normal for a law lesson). 

This list is partly to cheer me up because I shut my finger in a door yesterday and although it is not throbbingly painful anymore, I think I've bruised it, as it is still rather sensitive. Woe is me! But it is also because I had a very nice plateful of carbonara in front of Friends (yes, I live a glamourous life) and am now feeling quite relaxed and beatific. Apart from the finger, which is making using my touchpad mouse a bit sore. Anyway:

1. Nice food! It doesn't have to be loaded with fat and carbohydrate (as I quite honestly include carrot sticks and celery in this category - I love raw vegetables!), and there doesn't have to be all that much of it, but a little of what you fancy is a very good thing!

2. Prinking. (It's a real word, spellcheck!) The time I spend in front of the mirror may infuriate friends and family, especially when I'm running late, but I enjoy it. I know, vanity is unattractive, but I like to feel I look good. Also, as someone who is almost entirely self-taught on the make-up front, I really enjoy how much more creative I can be these days! (Although I'm not sure you can get less creative than concealer, where and when I can be bothered.)

3. Friends. This is turning rather saccharine! But I really do appreciate the people around me at the moment. I'm very lucky on the friends front. It's amazing how a brief text can brighten up your day. I should add that this includes grown-up friends, as there are some to whom I owe a lot. They know who they are! (P.S.: Good luck with the essay, Jumanji!)

4. Family. Mine is excellent. That is all. 

5. The boyf! I'm sure he won't mind not being at the top (this list isn't in any sort of order! Otherwise I would love food most of all, and I don't think that's true). Even though he's very far away at the moment, he makes me happy.

6. Music. Listening to really good music (in my opinion, anyway, feel free to dismiss my tastes (as did Richard Godwin in the Evening Standard today, under the headline 'Has rock really hit the bottom of the charts?'. Rock is not dead, Mr Godwin, you've just been listening to too much Kings of Leon)) is an amazing mood-booster. I used to go to school discos back in the day and get giddy just from the loud music, never mind the smuggled beer! 

7. Sleep. I know I said I wasn't going to go on about it, but I do love it so. I got some very comfy new pyjamas for Christmas, which just serve to enhance the experience.

8. The internet. I don't think I could live without the information superhighway, as it is possibly still known in bingo halls. This evening I watched one of the new episodes of Snog, Marry, Avoid? (love that programme, still not sure why) while chatting to the boyf who is in Ireland, across a sea and everything. Truly, we are living in the future. 

I'll end it there, for the usual reasons. What makes you happy? Do you strongly disagree with me? (Especially about Kings of Leon?) Let me know, but preferably not through physical violence or the medium of dance!


Exciting geography

I know they cause a lot of death and destruction and everything... but tornadoes are really cool!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


After my last marathon post, I'm sure you won't mind if I'm briefer this time. It's past my bedtime (the dedication!), as I got back quite late from the extra shorthand class that Star (remember him? Our lovely shorthand teacher) very kindly said we could gatecrash. I'm feeling a bit better about my prospects for the exam on Friday, but it's still very nerve-wracking. Sometimes 80wpm feels practically sedate, sometimes utterly unmanageable. Sadly, the former tends to be at the beginning of a piece and the latter somewhere in the middle. I did manage to scrape by in a couple of 100wpm pieces this evening though, so there is hope.

Rather than just bore you about shorthand in text, here is a picture of a small selection of my notes from this evening:

It's mostly vocab/special outline notes, as I tear them out to help with dictations and tend to leave the actual shorthand in the notepad, or I would be drowning in paper.

This evening wasn't all hard work, though - I went to Yo Sushi with Lady Zorro and Normandy for supper (we took a rather long break, in fact...) and we had a good natter. I may not be able to eat Asian food for the rest of the month, however (although it was really good). 

Off to bed now, in the hopes of waking up refreshed. I really hope I don't dream of shorthand!


Monday, 10 January 2011

Weekend times

I really need to get this post done, as there's absolutely no chance I'll start my law homework until it's finished, and I would quite like an early night. Therefore, in the interests of making it to Public Affairs in non-zombie form, my weekend:

The weekend was very exciting, because the boyf came over from Dublin to see me and buy Converse. I hadn't seen him since October (which is a Very Long Time), so I was a little bit nervous when I went to meet him and Whizzkid at Farringdon station on Friday evening. Nervous and brain-dead, as a hard day's shorthand reduced my grey matter to the consistency of a cheap milkshake. Whizzkid had gone to meet the boyf at Liverpool Street station in lieu of me, as I have a shorthand exam next Friday and couldn't afford to miss the brain-liquification. Apparently the station was in lockdown, however, due to some sort of terror alert. I never did find out more, due to being internetless and distracted for the duration of the weekend, but if you ask a fully paid-up Londoner, I'm sure they'll be able to tell you. 

When the boys eventually found each other, they very kindly came to Farringdon to meet me, as I couldn't face rush-hour with my heavy weekend bag and brain goo dripping from my ears (that's what you call an embarrassing personal problem). We went to some sort of pub for supper, and then another one for drinks, but I am sad to say I cannot remember what they were called, and I doubt I was even aware at the time. I had an Asian selection of starters for supper, as I wasn't all that hungry. It was slightly disappointing and some very rubbery fishcakes cemented my hatred of Thai food. No offense, Thailand, but get a better cuisine. The boyf had a steak sandwich with 'weird bread', but Whizzkid thoroughly enjoyed his giant chicken burger, which just goes to show. I can't really remember what we drank after that, although I do recall Whizzkid getting very excited about some elongated pint glasses. When we had thoroughly exhausted ourselves, we wandered over to the bus stop and steamed off to Southwark, where the boyf and I caught another bus to Wapping and Whizzkid (after completely ignoring my repeated insistences that 'it's literally just around the corner') consulted his smartphone and set off on a convoluted route to Waterloo. 

I wish I could say that when we got in to the flat the boyf and I had a long romantic conversation with lots of staring deeply into each other's eyes and so forth, but we were only awake enough to exchange Christmas presents (I got him a decent-sized black leather manbag from River Island (I think) and he got me lots of lovely Muji things (including a really cute travelcard case) and a new CD (Contra, by Vampire Weekend)) and shuffle off to bed. 

Thankfully, we woke up much more human on Saturday morning, and had a thorough peruse of some guidebooks to decide how to spend the weekend (further proof, as if you needed any, that I'm not a real Londoner) after a thoroughly satisfactory breakfast of pancakes. I can't remember why, but we decided to start in Brixton. It was pretty busy, with lots of people in the market-y bits, and really beautifully sunny. So sunny, in fact, that I had to take some photos to commemorate the occasion:

The boyf: unshaven miscreant

Me, talking (as usual)
We went to a cheap and plentiful Chinese restaurant for lunch, where we were served the biggest basket of prawn crackers I've ever seen. I had chicken in black bean sauce, and the boyf had some sort of beef. 

After lunch, we did a bit more wandering, before deciding that our next stop would be the Tate Modern. We had a bit of trouble finding it, but encountered a perfect postcard view on the way:

Tourist snaps strike back!
When we eventually arrived, we were delighted to find that entry was free, and had a thorough wander around all the floors. I have to confess, Modern Art means very little to me, but as the boyf enjoys it, I am occasionally exposed and accept it as a dose of Culture. Still, I had much more fun looking at the people in the gallery than the art. If that makes me a Philistine, fine, but at least I'm never going to pay millions for red squiggles on a cream canvas.

Getting arty in the Tate Modern
Thankfully, even the boyf can get tired of art, so we made a quick trip to Oxford Street to see how the shops were faring. Without much luck on the shoe front but having indulged in some good hard scrutiny of highstreet fashions, we made our way home via a Sainsburys metro, picking up some filled pasta for supper, and a banana and Doritos for the boyf's breakfast (his refined tastes don't extend to all areas of his life). 

We woke up on Sunday morning to glorious sunlight, and did a bit of dancing around in the brightly-lit flat to Vampire Weekend while we got ready (OK, that was just me). We had decided to devote most of the afternoon to Camden and its various markets, and I'm very glad we did.

Camden was amazing! Full of people, despite the cold, and made up of fascinating nooks. I only took one picture, for which I'm now kicking myself, but I was just too distracted the rest of the time.

A souk in Camden
For me, the best part was the Stables, this labyrinth of market stalls, with nick-nacks, curios and a good salting of vintage clothes. There was also a salivation-inducing section of food stalls. We couldn't decide what to have for lunch, so eventually settled on pizza and mix&match Chinese food. I also indulged in a donut from the most beautiful stall, and was very full for the rest of the day. We went into a crazy shop called Cyberdog (I think...) that faced onto the Stables, flanked by giant robots. There was a bouncer on the door, dancers on ledges on the back wall, and incredible quantities of neon. The further you descended into the shop, the louder the music and the more extreme the clothes on display got. It seemed like a tourist destination all by itself, and the queues on the door as we left were pretty long.

I'm pretty sure that the highlight of the day for the boyf was visiting Oddballs, a juggling shop that also faced onto the market. Apparently it carries quite a lot of street cred in the juggling world. He bought some new balls to complete his set (no giggling!) and we watched a very impressive diabolo demonstration. Despite having his new bag slung stylishly over his shoulder, he asked for  an Oddballs carrier bag (one of those shoulder jobbies with string handles) so he can show it off at conventions. The long-haired young man in the shop was very helpful, and had a definite air of Enthusiast about him. I suspect them boyf could have stayed there for a very long time.

We did some more highstreet shopping in the afternoon (although still no joy on the shoe front (not for lack of trying, I might add (as someone who has now been in every shoe shop in Camden))), and then went back to the flat quite early for an evening in. We ate far too many cookies, had a napccident, and made a stirfry at 10:30 at night. Pretty tasty, though! (I realise that I have eaten almost nothing but Chinese food this weekend. Judge not.)

I waved him off at the station this morning (where he finally made a decision on Converse, and bought a snazzy red pair), which was sad, but I already have plans in the pipeline to visit him next month so I'm bearing up OK. Our teacher wasn't in for Video Journalism today, and we had a somewhat soothing talk from the Tornado, so it wasn't a very taxing day. Still, what with commuting and so forth (although admittedly I did manage to miss the rushhour despite the delayed train) I feel as if I'm only just starting to relax.

Having started, time to stop! On to the next thing, which is lots of law questions. Wish me luck!

P.S.: Apologies to anyone who has eyestrain after reading all that!