Thursday, 31 March 2011

Train times

Going to bed now, as I got in after 10 because someone jumped in front of my train (or, in the words of the guard in his announcements ever 20 minutes, there was 'quite a serious incident').

Euphemisms only work when you don't have men in high-vis jackets running up and down the train telling the passengers exactly what is going on outside. (One of the men was basically Morpheus from the matrix, down to the sunglasses and coat. Amidst the engineers, paramedics, transport police and suchlike, I wonder who sent him...)

Stiff upper lips were to the fore, despite being stuck for almost two hours with half the lights off and no air conditioning because they had to put the train on emergency battery power.

The guard also came round with bottles of water for people who needed it to swallow their medication (it seems there were a lot of them on board), advising us to allow 'women and children' to take it first. I think he'd seen too many disaster movies or something.

Everyone was on phones half the time, and chatting for the rest of it. One woman phoned her child's friend's mother to tell her she was taking them out for dinner, and the rest of the train conspired to shout out  during the call to expose her as a liar.

Another man had to explain to his three-year-old daughter that he couldn't tell her a 'teddy story' over the phone because everyone was listening, which just made the man opposite him demand stories for the duration.

In short, it was survivable. Everyone was very mature, right up until I made it back to Woking (via Surbiton, where our train was 'terminated'), where all the worried spouses etc who'd driven to the station to pick people up had formed an enormous, hooting traffic jam. Maybe being stuck in a packed train for a while would have made them more polite...

Thus concludes the story of the train. Yes, it is awful that someone died and other people had to clean them off the front of a train, but it's not the first time this has happened (it's not even the first time this has happened on one of my journeys, as I'm sure most commuters can claim) and there was not much anyone could do for them.

Going to bed now.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Pit pat waddle pat

I had another very busy day today, and once again it is all the Royal Wedding's fault! I'm in charge of proofing a huge timeline of all the royal weddings since 1795, and the events that happened in the same years as them, and it's a bit of a nightmare (especially as it's on top of everything I normally have to get through!). Hard work is supposed to be good for you, I know, but I'm secretly hoping for a revolution complete with guillotine so I don't have to do it any more!

I'm getting quite excited about going home next weekend. I'm working a full week this week so I can fly up next Thursday. I intend to eat lots of chips with Edinburgh sauce (which you don't find anywhere else - I'm told it's made by mixing brown sauce, ketchup, vinegar and suchlike, but you'll have to trust me when I say it's amazing!), climb lots of hills and do lots of Scottish things! It's a bit strange to think I haven't been back since I left in September, and even more strange to know I'm going back to a completely different house, as my parents have since moved. They've promised to leave me some boxes to unpack, though!

It rained again today, which made me want to wear wellies, as I haven't since I was quite tiny (my father is the outdoorsy type, so we had much more sophisticated waterproof footwear). There's something about the idea of a nice thick pair of socks and a pair of wellies that really appeals to me. Sadly, I don't think they constitute appropriate workwear, so I may have to wait for a rainy weekend.

I wish my wellies were as cool as these:

Bedtime now, as I still haven't been able to shake the tiredness. Not good - I yawned so loudly on the train this morning that the man sitting opposite me leaned back in shock.


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Odds on

Another quick one, as I'm inexplicably still tired, despite having gone to bed as early as 11 last night!

Today I was asked to write my first obituary. It wasn't a huge undertaking, as it was just a 600-word one, using other obits for reference (thankfully I didn't have to phone up any grieving widows or anything), but it was still pretty exciting! It's probably going to be in Thursday's paper, so look out for it! (It's of Harry Coover, who accidentally invented superglue (twice!))

Is anyone else completely confused by betting odds? We occasionally do a little bit about weird odds being offered on things for the DUR (like whether Charlie Sheen will go to rehab, get arrested or win an Oscar), and I have to admit it's the part of my job I'm absolutely worst at. I can't understand them at all! I was (sort of) getting my head around all this 3-1 business, and now it turns out they can be listed as decimal points too! Who decides these things, anyway? Bewildering.

Have to go to bed now, before I turn into a pumpkin.


Monday, 28 March 2011

Exhausted, mildly republican ramblings

I was kept awake by a cat or several squirrels on the roof last night and have spent most of this evening booking my trip to Edinburgh to see my wonderful family next weekend (very exciting), so I am afraid I am not only exhausted, I am in a rush to get things done and go to bed. Therefore, not much blogging!

I had a good day at work today. I have mixed feelings on this daylight saving lark, however. While it was lovely to leave work to find actual sunshine outside, I can't help but remember my first conscious thought this morning being 'When the alarm says 7, in real time it is actually 6', which I can tell you is not a pleasant first conscious thought.

I managed to get lots done today, though. Apart from steaming through the page despite it just being me and Olivia in today, I also managed to make a start on my new pet project for the page (although I can't take credit for the idea - more anon) and help various other people with their projects. This Royal Wedding is far more trouble than it's worth. It's also got the letter nutters all riled up. One of today's highlights had a picture of Diana (cut out from a magazine or commemorative book or something) stuck to it, and a long, frequently-capslocked rant about the 'masculine pig' (which I infer was a reference to Camilla) trying to interfere with 'the lovely new princess'.

A while ago the Telegraph had a feature (possibly in its magazine) about how Young People Today actually do care about the wedding and are just as excited as older generations, just in a more tweet-y way. Without wanting to cast aspersions on the Young People trotted out to coo over dresses and cake (all of whom were white and female, I should add), I have to say that I have yet to meet anyone, of any generation, who is anything other than slightly chagrined at the prospect. Maybe I spend too much time around cynical journalists, though...

I didn't mean to go on, and now I really must go to bed!


Sunday, 27 March 2011

Another day on the health farm

Tonight, I bring you the awesomeness that is French bread pizza:

One of your five a day (of pizza)
This is really easy to make, as I'm sure you can tell. Make a tomato sauce, put bread under the grill to pre-toast on both sides, spread on sauce, sprinkle with mozzarella, grill until melty and delicious! Simples.

It was gorgeously sunny again today, and it looks set to stay warm all week! Only a couple of months until I won't need to wear a coat!

Did everybody enjoy the clocks going forward? I was a bit confused by it. Turns out my computer is smarter than my phone (as is the central heating).

I've just got off the computer to my parents (I can't really say the phone, as we skype), and have been told in no uncertain terms to go to bed. You can't argue with maternal wisdom, so I'll have to say goodnight.


Spring has sprung!

I'd like to start with some pictures of Spring, happening:

It was a little overcast today, but strangely that just made me enjoy all the blossoms and flowers even more. I'm weird, I know.

My main news today is that I have made a discovery. My quest for new work-appropriate clothes has failed for a reason: Woking has no M&S (at least, not that I've been able to find, apart from the tiny expensive food shop next to the station). I've seen lots of nice clothes that I wouldn't mind wearing in my search, but this Spring's chief look is apparently Casual, with a sideline in American Highschool Stereotypes (I don't think I've ever seen so many baseball jackets), neither of which is at all helpful to me. Then I wondered what that good old institution M&S had in stock, and had a quick look on their website. Suddenly, I found all the sensible blouses I had been angling for! I'm seriously tempted by thisthisthisthis (although have a look at the colour choice - that's a funny sort of white!), this and this (I like the Star Trek-chic shoulders). Note that for quite a few of them, 'Plain' is a listed feature. Perfect! I could wear them all to death, maybe even tucked into sensible trousers (if I found some sensible trousers), and never have to think too hard about getting dressed again. I bet they're all machine-washable and non-iron too! 

I also rather like the look of this, lest you fear M&S has brokered some dark deal for my soul. I just want to stop feeling so bored with my wardrobe!

That's it from me for today. Tomorrow I will be weighing up saving my money and a trip to M&S in London.


Favourite lyric of the week: Our love is like the border between Greece and Albania.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The time is out of joint

I may have said I'd post this yesterday, but anyway...

Last night (on Thursday night, if you want to split hairs) Lady Zorro and I went to see a play in Hackney. This was an exciting experience on two counts: I had never been to Hackney before, and the play was excellent.

Sadly, in all the excitement, I only remembered to take two pictures. We were a bit rushed, as we had both come from work and met up at about 6:50, and the play started at 7.30.

Here is the ceiling of the restaurant place next to the theatre, which had a sort-of-box office which turned out not to be the one we needed after all, but had loads of awesome lampshades:

And here is supper, in a sort of fried chicken shop. It was reasonably cheap, and I had peri peri chicken on a bed of chips, which I could never fault: 

We ended up staying talking over our meal for a bit longer than intended, and made it into the theatre with minutes to spare before the curtain went up (well, it was already up, but you know what I mean). 

The play we went to see was Hamlet The Clown Prince, at the Hackney Empire. I had already put it in the paper, but it was really, really funny and well-done, so I will promote it some more here! Go and see it if you can, tickets are not that expensive and it is excellent. The play had come over from India, where it apparently won all sorts of awards. It was about a company of clowns trying to put on Hamlet, with only five actors and a lot of squabbling. I've never laughed so hard at Shakespeare before. Lady Zorro was also impressed, and she is a lady of culture, so it must be good! 

The only downside was the audience. A couple in the row in front of us had brought their baby along, possibly in the mistaken belief that something with clowns must be for children, and it got very confused and upset and had to be taken out halfway through. The seats were the kind that fold up, so the entire row in front of us had to stand up in the middle of the play to let these people and their screaming child out. Thankfully, they didn't come back. The woman behind us must have been from an American television audience, because she had a somewhat disconcerting tendency to shriek with laughter whenever anything at all happened on stage, to the point where she was actually panting for breath. Also, the man sitting next to me apparently only knew one line from the entire of Hamlet - 'Get thee to a nunnery' - which he would repeat in knowing tones whenever nunneries were mentioned.  

Audience aside, though, it was really awesome! It was exciting sneaking off to do something fun after work. I should take advantage of working in London more often! Yes, the 'pubs' are insanely expensive and travel can be complicated, but there is always loads on.

I don't have much exciting news on today, except that I made an apple crumble this evening, and have the rest of it to look forward to tomorrow. What a glamourous life I lead!


Friday, 25 March 2011


I'll do a proper post tomorrow, I promise! For now, I really need to go to bed. I did have an exciting and wonderful evening, though, so hold tight and you'll read all about it later!

Exciting news: the boyf is coming to visit next month! Hooray!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Bow before my awesome cropping powers!

I am the queen of pictures! Sorry, but I am quite excited. I put all the pictures onto the DUR today, imported them, messed around with folders, cropped, linked and loaded! That makes it sound slightly more complicated than it actually is, but only slightly!

It was so warm and sunny today, the courtyard bit outside work was packed with smokers and strollers all day. I ended up having a bit of a wander round after I'd been to Waitrose for some extra lunch, talking to my little brother on the phone. He's fine, in case you were wondering, he's coming to England soon for military manoeuvres, but sadly won't be able to take time out of his busy marching schedule to come and see me.

More exciting times ahead tomorrow, so watch this space.

I'm going to have to go to bed now, as I am determined to get at least one decent night's sleep this week!


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

It's come to this again

Yes, tonight we have a picture of my supper again. It was very good, though! (And very economical - using bean salad and potato from last night. I did learn some things from my student days!)

Today I finally got a picture-importing folder put on my desktop. This may not sound exciting to you, but it's the first step to a world of cropping, shopping and uploading for me! An IT Guy had to come down and do it for me, but he was very nice (although he did say most of IT now knows my name - I am a problem child and no mistake). I also met yesterday's fresh-faced IT Guy in the lift on my way down to get some (extra) lunch. He had also noticed how frequent a caller I am, and said if I was that lonely, I should just send IT an email. Hmph. 

I was talking to another man, in another lift, who told me the Murdochs are based on level 10! I hadn't really thought about it before, but they could be in the building at any time! This is quite exciting. 

I'm going to bed now, but tomorrow I will be keeping an eye out.


Monday, 21 March 2011

Monday, Monday

I'm very tired this evening, despite oversleeping a bit this morning. I made it out the door on time, but surely I should have felt more rested? I am also very full, having had quite a filling supper.

The most exciting piece of news I have to offer is that I wore shoes not boots to work today. It is finally warming up! The blossom everywhere is gorgeous, and I now have hope of spring. I just want summer to be as hot as winter was cold!

There weren't many people in the office today. Mondays are slow days for some reason. I had a row of desks all to myself. Due to more exciting technical problems (the IT people must have my name on some kind of list, I have to phone just about every day (although to be fair, more than one of them has been mystified by the problems I've phoned up about, and it is apparently official that my account was set up very strangely)) an actual IT guy had to come to my desk to reconcile my computer with the printers (after remote command of my computer failed miserably). He looked about 17! I felt very old indeed. Thankfully, he was as efficient as he was youthful, and the problem was soon fixed.

That is about the sum total of what has happened to me today. Feel free to be jealous of my glamourous life! I do enjoy work (sad as I am), but it doesn't give me much to share with you.

I'm off to bed now, in the hopes of being more voluble tomorrow evening.


Sunday, 20 March 2011

Weekend shenanigans

Apologis for the lack of post yesterday. I was in London and Waterloo closed insanely early so I had to stay at the flat for the night, and only got back to Woking at 3pm today thanks to engineering works and general laziness. 

As you may have guessed from the above, I actually did something yesterday! Outside! 

Jumanji and I decided to meet up in London yesterday evening for shopping, eating and lots and lots of talking. I also wanted to (finally) give her her birthday present (actually, a month and ten days late is pretty good by our standards).

This is what she got:

Sorry about the blurriness - I took the picture on the train and it wouldn't stop moving!
 All from the local Shiny Shop (that's the technical term). Jumanji likes quirky jewellery (quirky everything, in fact!), and has accumulated bags and bags of the stuff over the years, but I'm not one to judge an addicition.

We had a wander around he Oxford/Bond Street area, trying to find a wedding present for Jumanji to buy her friends. We ended up in Muji, and had tough deliberations over a wooden bowl and matching pairs of slippers. There was also a lot of aimless browsing of clothes shops. I mentioned that I need new clothes I can wear to work and on other outings. The highstreet has other ideas.

The highlight of the evening was a trip to Eat Tokyo, in Soho. They really believe in quantity, as the picture below demonstrates:

Although Jumanji's not complaining
It was also pretty cheap, with a menu that just went on and on. The restaurant itself is tiny, and we had to wait a while in the even tinier entrance for a table, but we kept ourselves entertained. 

Me, trying to hide my atrocious chopstick skills
We each ordered a main and a side dish, which turned out to be quite a lot of food. I had oyakodon and vegetable tempura, and Jumanji had a katsu curry and some sort of tofu I've forgotten the name of. Oh, and some part of my meal came with miso soup, too. We had quite a crowded table:

We didn't manage to finish all of it, sadly, but we tried our best.

After dinner, we had a wander around the (increasingly chilly) streets of Soho, which eventually became a search for dessert. Not just any dessert (the boyf says I'm not allowed to call it 'pudding' unless it actually involves a pudding, but 'dessert' just looks a bit wrong to me), something chocolate-y! Here we had our first encounter with London being a bit pathetic. I don't mean to be overly demanding, but you'd think the celebrated metropolis and largest city in the country would have something open after 11.30pm! We eventually found a cafe where the staff told us they were open as long as we wanted (much more like it!) and had chocolate brownies and chatted for a very long time.

And tea. Don't forget the tea
 Afterwards, we headed back to Waterloo, where I discovered more London patheticness, and had to make other plans.

Today, I made the not-so-wise decision to do a spot of grocery shopping after I got off the train (which took twice as long thanks to engineering works on behalf of my old foe, Clapham Junction). Slogging home with bags of shopping is only fun when they contain clothes and shoes, not milk and cucumbers! My muscles have still not forgiven me.

I haven't had what you'd call a restful weekend, but I had fun! It was really good seeing Jumanji and doing something again! I really enjoy going to work (more than I ever believed possible), but it's easy to get stuck in a rut. I'm back in tomorrow, though, and just about ready for another week!


Saturday, 19 March 2011

Late-night pasta ravings

The blog has been looking a bit bare of late (blame my non-eventful life), so I've popped on a little video below to liven things up a bit. Watch it! Convert to polka!

I made some really amazing pasta this evening. This may sound like mere boasting, but this was a pretty miraculous meal. For one thing, it contained bacon, which, as you know, is the ultimate foodstuff. Also, I got distracted when I'd left the sauce on to reduce, but I came back to it at precisely the right time, resulting in caramelisation rather than burning. I also managed to put in exactly the right amount of pasta for two me-sized meals (I tend to do it by eye and forget that I am cooking for myself twice, rather than myself and someone with a superhuman appetite, like the boyf or my (not-so-) little brother). Given that this was all a bit late (I had a late lunch, I was distracted texting Jumanji my latest Genius Idea (which now has the Jumanji stamp of approval (possibly more on this later)), I'm somewhat disposed to a nocturnal lifestyle, what can I say?) I'm pretty impressed with myself! No, I did not remember to take a picture.

It seems that the pasta has some soporific side-effects, however, so I'm going to have to sign off now.


So much better than Katy Perry!

I seem to remember seeing this ages ago, but it's worth a revisit!

The guitarist (who looks a bit like a young David Cameron, or is that just me?) gets shy in the middle, but they seem like a solid bunch of lads.

Thursday, 17 March 2011


This is going to have to be short again as I am tired to the point of hallucinating Chinese takeaway (don't ask). All these late nights are adding up!

I had fun at work today. At noon, there was something of a stampede to the book cupboard on my floor. There was a book sale on (the newspaper gets quite a lot of (free!) review copies, and they would just keep piling up if something wasn't done, so every year there is a book sale for charity. It's one of the major social events of the office calendar, I learned today!) so Cat, Olivia and I squeezed into the cupboard with about ten other people to scrabble through shelves packed with books. Paperbacks were £1 and hardbacks £2, so I splurged and bought four! They're currently sitting in a bag under Cat's desk, though, as we had to head off to the memorial service this evening and couldn't bring a small library with us!

Taking names at the service (which is all we were there to do, although I did receive several plaintive requests for directions to the toilets) was a real eye-opener. There were all sorts of fascinating (and some famous!) people, all spelling their names out for us. A few seized my pen and wrote them down for me, so I suspect I now have a few autographs in my pad! I'm not going to say who was there (I'm trying to be a bit more discrete...) but it was an exciting evening for a Radio 4 listener and literature fan like me (and anyone particularly excited by titles). I did feel a bit like I was in the beginning of an Agatha Christie novel, though...

I also really enjoyed going with Cat as we got a chance to have a proper chat on the way there and while we were waiting for stragglers. She's really funny, but we don't tend to have particularly long conversations at work because it's usually quite busy. She suggested taking the whole Register office out for a curry one of these evenings. I'm not sure I can imagine what that would be like, but it would be nice to get to know people better.

I'm going to go and get ready for bed very slowly now. Why is it that when you're really tired, you lack the efficiency that will bring you sleep faster?


P.S.: Happy Actual St Patrick's Day!

DUR, babies, murderers at large

Today was a less busy day at work. The DUR (Daily Universal Register - I still occasionally snigger when I see it on a filename) was pretty much filled in (by me, yesterday), so it was mostly loose ends like getting pictures and trying to find new information about St Patrick. I also ended up doing two New Readers interviews, which basically means I phoned up parents (who happen to read the paper) and asked them about their babies. Like with wedding interviews (same thing but with weddings instead of babies), these can be really enjoyable, it just depends on the person you're talking to. I had one brilliant one (I was laughing a bit too hard when she described her twins 'accidentally sucker-punching each other') and one OK one. I suppose these are the sort of things people love talking about, but I sometimes struggle a bit in the silences when I'm trying desperately to write everything down and I realise I have no next question.

It's doubly difficult with babies, because I don't know much about them or the etiquette for discussing them. How do you react when someone tells you they had an emergency caesarian? Why aren't babies weighed metrically? When are babies expected to start having personalities? The second woman I interviewed told me her son loves putting his hands in his mouth. 'Oh, so are they his favourite food?' I asked, scribbling frantically. 'No, he only eats milk,' she responded, completely deadpan.

I read an article this evening about personal safety. It was, of course, aimed at young women like me (are they ever aimed at men?) who don't have the money to take taxis everywhere and come home after dark. There was a whole paragraph about 'Why don't young women have the common sense to walk in the middle of a poorly-lit road, rather than on a dark pavement?', 'Why do young women insist on using phones and mp3 players in public where anyone could target them?', 'Why are these women out ALONE, after DARK?' I can't help but feel that this is all backwards. Why aren't streets safe and well-lit? Sorry if I'm being unreasonable, but I can't understand it's my fault if I have to walk home after 7pm when there are cannibal muggers roaming the streets.

Rant over (for now...)


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Another speedy round-up

Really quickly again because I need to go to sleep!

Today was pretty good. Having got quite a lot of the page done yesterday, it all came together pretty fast. Tomorrow is likely to be a bit of a shamrock extravaganza, though, as we will be making the page for St Patrick's Day.

Handy visual hint!

The boyf told me St Patrick's Day isn't that big a deal in Ireland - it's America where they make a huge fuss. After all, there's no point in 'Kiss me, I'm Irish' Tshirts when the whole population is Irish too!

I've pretty much already celebrated, thanks to Kerrygold if you remember, and I'll be working a bit later than usual as I have to help Cat take names at a memorial service in the evening, so I don't think I'll be doing anything. I might have something potato-based for supper (not stereotyping, honest!) but that's likely to be it. Anyone got any special plans? I know from my hard work googling events that London does not seem to be going in for it in a big way either.

That's it for now. Hope tomorrow is a bit warmer, today was not nearly as clement as I had been hoping!


Monday, 14 March 2011

Monday meanderings

No kittens today, just good old-fashioned rambly text.

I had a really good day at work today. This probably had quite a lot to do with how sunny it was and the fact that I managed to get in really early thanks to The Godmother giving me a lift to the station at the beginning of my epic journey. It's amazing how the little things affect your mood.

I got even more authorisations today, and can now read articles from every newspaper ever in the past five years. Very useful when you want to check whether tomorrow's inspirational-yet-not-that-informative quote has been published before. I also managed to just get on with all the other stuff, with time out to phone IT and take some calls from readers. Generally good!

I have come to a conclusion today, though: I really need to go out and see some friends. With the exception of the boyf and Jumanji, I haven't seen anyone in forever, and I miss them all! Damn you, Journalism School, for being so inconveniently far away! Damn you, Whizzkid, for being in Norwich! Damn you, self, for being so lazy! I need to see some friends I haven't made in the local Waitrose.

I also really, legitimately, need to go shopping for some more work clothes, or I'm going to be Grey Cardigan And Black Boots Girl for evermore. The temptation is to buy things on the internet, but I'm not so sure of my size any more (too much walking and eating regularly-spaced meals), so this convenient shortcut is probably not a good idea. There are lots of books I will have to restrain myself from buying online, though!

If I have any money left over from buying opaque tights and sensible shoes, I am going to be saving up to go home for a few days. I miss the (c)old country, and my family, of course, and I need to go back before too much Southern rubs off on me!

It's now definitely bedtime or I will not be nearly so cheerful tomorrow!


More apologetic kittens

It's somehow gotten quite late again, and I have to go to work in the morning. Alas, I cannot share my Woking-based adventures in full! Instead, have some kittens and a quick round-up:

If I'm not careful, this blog is going to end up mostly cats
Incidentally, picture from here if you haven't had your kitten fix today. 

In brief, today I made pancakes for lunch, got a lift to town with The Godmother and W, and did some of that not-fun-but-important-for-keeping-your-life-together shopping. Mostly toiletries. I haven't had a chance to buy essentials (OK, semi-essentials, depending on how important skincare et al are in your life) for quite a while, so I had to have a bit of a rush-round. I also found The Godmother some snazzy different-coloured USB sticks, which was fun. 

This evening, I am pretty full of carbonara and quite sleepy. I learned today that La Senza has proclaimed the 31st as National Cleavage Day. I'm not sure what kind of celebrations they have planned, but it's one to keep an eye on.


Sunday, 13 March 2011

It's late

And I'm for bed! I am trying to get back in the swing of this blogging thing, though, so here are some Fun Woking Facts (London shouldn't get all the attention!) to tide you over:

1. The bin-men are rather temperamental. I don't think they like doing the recycling bins (every other week) because they tend to leave ours semi-embedded in the hedge. Judging by the aftermath of bin-day on other streets, they also think pedestrians need more obstacle courses in their lives.

2. There are two shopping centres! One is quite new and fancy, with a food-hall-type thing, but the other is much better because it has a decent-sized Sainsbury's in the bottom. I can pop in before walking home from the station! So much more convenient than city living.

3. There is a Charlie Chaplin-themed kebab shop. Need I say more?

4. I have witnessed occasional outbreaks of Neighbourliness, such as a man walking his dog who always says 'Evening' to me, strangers helping each other with cars in trouble, chatty old ladies and the like. Maybe I spend too much time on trains and the mean streets of London, but this all makes me rather suspicious. The last place I saw people behaving like this was the charming village of Midsomer, and we all know how that ends.

5. There is a fresh fruit and vegetable market, which I will never, ever go to on account of having much better things to do with my mornings and the convenient pre-bagged-ness of supermarket stocks (see above).

6. Apparently, there is a huge War of the Worlds statue somewhere. And also an opera house. I really need to explore more!

7. There is a Nando's, which makes me very happy indeed. It was robbed recently, and a man is appearing in court around now for it. Maybe I should go along and tut disapprovingly at him...

That is all for tonight!

Goodnight (anyone who is still awake)!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Final Ireland roundup

Quick picture highlights, as I have been up watching the news most of this evening. I have nothing new to say about the earthquake and tsunami, but I hope they manage to shut down the nuclear power plant safely. 

On to Ireland:

Phoenix Park
We went for a walk in Phoenix Park in Dublin. It's huge, and there are lots of deer wandering around. It's not safe to get too close to the herd, but this one wandered off on its own.
More outside
The ultimate bolognese
The boyf makes amazing bolognese, but this one (made with turkey mince in a kind but not uncomplaining concession to my fussiness) had bacon in it! And about half a pot of herbs, a bottle of tabasco, a whole tube of tomato purée... 

Diner times
We went to a diner for lunch on the day I flew home. The food wasn't mind-blowing, but I had a lot of chocolate milkshake so I was happy!
Although I don't look it
I had a really, really lovely time and I really want to go back! And I really want another holiday... Just so tired at the moment (spent all afternoon creating a spreadsheet of birthdays this month. Mostly copying and pasting, but I was so dizzy by the end! Turns out a lot of people are turning 69 this year), I think I'm getting culture shock coming back to commuting after only a week away! (And I'm surprisingly unfit after a week of good food and lazing about - I was out of breath on the way to the station morning for the first time in months on Wednesday.)

Off to bed now.


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Aran Island Adventures

I am a bit sad this evening because I didn't get to meet up with all the awesome people from Journalism School this evening as I was hoping to. I really wanted to, but I have to work again tomorrow and my head is spinning from an entire day googling things. I knew the Royal Wedding was going to cause trouble, but I didn't expect to spend quite so long coming up with timelines to contextualise every royal wedding since 1816. The good news is, it's finished (much faster than expected, which makes me a little bit smug) and I can move on to other things. You may also spot me masquerading under a false name in tomorrow's You The Editor. 

Anyway, fail aside, more reminiscing! 

We actually only went to the biggest of the Aran Islands, Inishmore. We checked out of our Galway hotel very early (so early that the parking garage attendant who had to let us out was off buying his morning paper), and had breakfast on the road.

Actually, the boyf had to have breakfast in the port car park, as he had all that pesky driving to do

A seaside scene
We caught the ferry to Inishmore. It goes twice a day, so we were on the 10am ferry there and the 5pm ferry back. You could spot the tourists from the locals very easily! (For starters, the locals had toolboxes and shopping bags, rather than wheelie suitcases). 

Stubbly seaman
Boat-related excitement 
As soon as we got off the ferry (it takes about half an hour, and we sat on the top deck enjoying the ride), we were accosted by tourguides. The Aran Islands have two main industries: fishing and tourism. Guess which was in season! We eventually decided not to walk or hire bikes, but to hire a tour bus (it really was ours - tourists were a bit thin on the ground) for the same price as bikes, with a very insightful local man to tell us about things as we drove past. 

I learned that the Aran Islands are covered in drystone walls because there's nothing else to do with all the stone that had to be cleared to make fields, and if you put all the walls on the islands end to end, they would stretch more than 7,000 km. I can well believe it!

We saw the seals on their rocks, examples of interesting houses and gardens, old factories, the recycling plant and, of course, a few historical bits and bobs as well. 

The Seven Churches
The Seven Churches are in fact three churches and some accommodation, built long enough ago that there are Roman graves tucked away in the corner. The graveyard was fascinating, but we didn't stay as long as I would have liked because of the obnoxious group of American tourists prancing around. We saw quite a lot of them, regrettably, as they were the only other people to be doing a bus tour. For me, part of the charm of the island is that it feels so empty and old, so having loud, ignorant people screaming at each other in the background is not appreciated. We didn't let them spoil our day, though! (Although our bus driver did almost manage to run one of them over.)

The island from on top of Dun Aengus
The main part of the day was taken up with visiting Dun Aengus, the huge clifftop hill fort. We were dropped off with directions up the hill to the fort and a café for lunch, and left to our own devices for a couple of hours. There is a little walk-through visitor centre on the way to the fort, where you buy a ticket (presumably to go on up the hill) and can read all about the history of the place. We had a brief hike in the increasingly warm sun, and had shed our coats by the time we were halfway up. 

Me, holding the fort (ho ho)
It was actually very impressive when you reached the top - you'd certainly see any enemies coming from miles off!

More fort
We had a civilised lunch (although at tourist prices) in the café at the foot of the hill - vegetable soup and bread that was more like wholemeal scones. Very delicious. After a few more sights on the bus, we were dropped off back in Kilronan, the biggest town on the island (home to its only shop (a Spar) and post office) with an hour to kill before the ferry left. We went to the Sweater Warehouse and Museum and saw lots of beautiful Aran jumpers (all a bit too steep for my pocket, sadly) and some frankly frightening mannequins demonstrating the traditional process of making them. We also had ice cream and wandered around the back of a few people's houses trying to find the local Heritage Centre. There's still plenty to do if we go back!

By the time we boarded the ferry, we were a bit worn out.

We made it back to dry land without incident, and had an exciting night drive back to Dublin. 

That's going to have to be it as I am now very sleepy. Its plenty to be getting on with, I'm sure!

Next time: more Dublin! (It was a very good holiday!)

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Gadding about in Galway

Apologies for my crimes against alliteration. I'm pretty knackered after my first day back at work (not all bad, though - I got my new pass card super-fast and people missed me!) with lots and lots of letters waiting for me tomorrow. I have my own email address actually properly set up now (Hooray!) and the Royal Wedding is making even more work for me to do (Boo!). Also I am getting all sorts of clearances to use various parts of the newspaper-making system. I sense a learning curve ahead...

Here is part two of my adventures in Ireland:

Sunny, student-y Galway
Galway is excellent. It may have helped that we went during RAG week and it was gorgeously sunny, but I definitely plan to go back! It's a proper university town, and has the pubs, hang-outs and noisy streets to prove it. We went to the Galway City Museum after checking into our hotel, and learned about currachs, Cromwell and ceremonial maces. Galway itself was lovely just to wander around (although driving around it almost caused a navigational disagreement on the way in) and there were lots of people out enjoying the weather. 

Me, in a hotel room
The hotel (the Spanish Arch Hotel, in case anyone is planning a trip) was quite reasonably priced (about the same as the hostels in town) but not as sound-proof as advertised. We left quite early in the morning the next day, and didn't really spend much time in it in the evening, so it served its purpose. 

When it started getting dark, we went in search of supper (the boyf's second, I shall embarrass him by adding, as he was hungry enough to get a chicken fillet roll (a visit to Ireland is worth it just for these, trust me. You'll wonder why Subway even exists) shortly after we arrived. He'll probably blame me for eating all the Doritos in the car on the way). A not-too-busy pub did very decent food for very reasonable prices. I had pizza (I think I mostly ate pizza (and chicken fillet rolls) in Ireland) with plenty of vegetables and the boyf had Shepherd's Pie and chips. 

I swear it's just the angle that's making it look so gigantic!
After a very civilised meal, we wandered off to another pub to listen to some trad and skulk in the corner. It turned out to be a very local pub. We were the first tourists not to turn tail upon entering, and it was pretty empty. I learned that they have apparently never heard of rum & coke in Galway. I got a funny look, a full bottle of coke and a tumbler of rum. I don't think I have ever seen so much rum outside of a bottle. The boyf says that Irish measures are much bigger than British ones, but even by that standard it had to be at least a quadruple (is that a thing?). London's pricy establishments must have taken my edge off, because I didn't manage to finish it, although I smelled like a pretty authentic pirate by the time I'd finished.

We stayed for a good few songs, and things got a bit livelier when some Americans who were even less observant than us set up camp by the bar. We headed home via a supermarket so I could buy a chocolate muffin.

That's your lot for now. Look out for the next thrilling episode tomorrow!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Dublin days

I'm back in England again, as of last night. Straight back to the rat race, in fact, as I've discovered mild cash-flow problems which look set to make this week quite interesting. It's taken a while for my wages for all my hard work journalising to start coming in, and this week's are not only thin on the ground but apparently not in my account yet. Much as I love the ascetic life, I may need to have a chat with my bank about that.

But on to more exciting things! Lax as I've been on the blogging front lately (all Ireland's fault), I've got quite a lot of What I Did On My Holidays-ing to do. I've decided to keep it mostly in picture form, as I have quite a few! It's also going to have to be a bit episodic, as pictures take quite a while to upload. Therefore, I will begin with the highlights from my first few days in Dublin: 

The Natural History Museum (and me!) 
So many stuffed animals! The ground floor was all Irish species, and then upstairs were animals from all over the world. I learned that I never want to eat sole again (their faces are just disturbing) and that tigers are pretty big. Also just how creepy moles' little hands are. It was a fun day out, although it was a bit chilly.  


Misty is the boyf's dog, and I will try not to be too soppy about her. Suffice to say, she is very cute, if prone to stepping all over you when you are trying to watch TV. 

Christchurch Cathedral (and the boyf)
I would like to pretend we toured the cathedral and were all cultural like that, but we only visited this bit by accident on the way out of Dublinia. Dublinia is kind of like Jorvik without the smells - lots of dummies demonstrating the various areas of Viking and Medieval life in Dublin. Did you know the vikings pretty much founded Dublin? It was very good fun (and Educational), although we had to rush around Medieval Dublin a bit because they were about to close. 

Me, sombre in a cathedral
Obligatory arty picture
I may have mentioned that we went to see Drive Angry before we headed off to Galway... Poor Nicholas Cage. I don't think I've ever seen him in a good movie. The boyf pointed out that this may be because he is not what you'd call a great actor, but it still seems a shame. He always has to be slightly oily and unpleasant, but maybe that's just his hair being typecast.

Next time: Galway! And maybe the Aran Islands, if I can get all the pictures into one post!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A viking did it and he ran away

I may be stretching the truth a little. Actually, I don't have any pictures (or even many words) today because I am shattered and have to go to bed. We went to Dublinia today, which is amazing and features many reconstructions, such as a viking street and a medieval fair. I learned that I have a smaller head than most vikings, and monasteries were the banks of the olden days!

This evening we went to see Drive Angry. In 3D. I realised this was in fact my first ever 3D movie, which was exciting and entertaining for the people sitting behind us because I tended to duck and squeak every time something 'flew' at me. The movie was ridiculous, but in a fun way.

Going to bed now. We're off to Galway tomorrow! I may be bereft of internets, so I will say goodbye for now, hope to blog soon!


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

In Ireland

I'm writing this on the boyf's netbook before going out to meet him in the city centre, so it'll have to be brief. No pictures yet, but watch this space (if my camera will talk to this peculiarly tiny machine). I've also just noticed that there is no spellchecker to rely on, so apologies for any glaring typos.

I got up at 5am yesterday (which is the main reason I wasn't feeling very talkative, blogwise) to get the earliest bus to London Liverpool Street, where there is a handy train to Stanstead airport. I got through the whole airport rigamorale with plenty of time, and was sat next to a Sega Virtual Tennis game for quite a while waiting for my flight to board. I now know the names of most of the foremost players of the nineties, and what they look like made of pixels.

The boyf picked me up from the airport and drove us back to his house, where we mostly collapsed in front of the TV (he has had a few late nights recently too). We took Misty (his spaniel, who is probably the first person to appear on the blog without a nickname! (although she's not a person, she's a dog, so I don't know if that counts) for a walk in the park and went to the supermarket in the evening to find food, but that was as far as our energy went.

This morning, he's doing admin things at university, and I've been trying to get some work done in the house, but I'm going out to meet him soon. We are hopefully going to go to a gallery or a museum this afternoon, and I plan to take lots of pictures of everything!

Good afternoon!