Monday, 30 May 2011

Technology, I hate you.

I feel like, after days like today, you should have learnt something. After all, I believe mistakes are only mistakes if you never learn from them, yet I cannot find the lesson in this set of events.

Yesterday, whilst happily surfing the internet, my computer restarted itself. Nothing major, no big panic, until an "antivirus software" window popped up and "scanned" before telling me I had thirty-five "viruses". It was obvious straight away that this was a fake application and I thought, oh, simple, I find out what it is and uninstall it as the whole point of such a virus is to make you pay for software you don't need. Yet it didn't seem this simple, and after an hour of trying to suss out where the hell this thing had put itself on my computer, I searched the internet to find out what it was.

And it is, basically, a very dangerous virus which starts to gradually take over every piece of systems software and hardware, pulling it into it's own hidden files to stop you from finding it, doing systems restore, going online to download a removal tool... it has literally taken over every main piece of software/hardware on my computer to the extent that nothing works. I just about managed to salvage my documents, music and photos, but otherwise the whole thing is knackered and I need this long weekend to be over so I can find some sort of computer technician to help me fix it.

Whilst this is obviously a massive worry, and the number of trojans and spyware it installed on my computer meant I've had to cancel all my bank cards and change all my passwords, my main concern is that I have absolutely no idea how this happened. I always thought viruses happened to people who went on dodgy websites, opened emails from strangers with unknown links and attachments and who didn't have any anti-virus software. I did have anti-virus software, I had definitely not been on a dodgy website (or even one which I don't normally use) and I hadn't opened or authorised anything I shouldn't have, yet it still happened?

This is why I am most frustrated, as I would like to know what I did wrong to ensure I don't do it again, but that's not possible - I did everything you should do and I didn't do anything I shouldn't. I'm not a gullible person anyway and I am not a complete computer-retard, so I always figured I'd always be safe. Yet, no, my new(ish) laptop is completely ruined and unusable until I find someone who can help me.

I realise this was a bit of a rant, but if anyone knows what I did to get this virus, then please let me know.

And to think, I was so close to throwing my old, knackered laptop away last week. In comparison, this beast is a supercomputer...

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Double standards.

I found myself in a conversation with my sort-of-step-mum (they aren't married but they've been together for sixteen years so I consider her my step-mum) about the double standards that exist in society, and how the negative side of them always seems to fall on women.

We talked about how, if a married man has an extra-marital exploit with a single girl, it is usually the woman who takes the blame and is labelled the slag and the home-wrecker. Now, this was quite awkward because whilst my step-mum wasn't single either when my Dad left my Mum for her, she did end up with that label. Although it's always worth bearing in mind I've grown up with one side of the story, but she did admit that she was that 'slag' and I know she had to move her job as a consequence of the stigma. Yet, men never seem to suffer quite to the same extent in terms of the blame.

Take the whole ridiculous Ryan Giggs and Imogen Thomas thing: she has suffered much more at the hands of the public opinion than he has, yet she was single and he's the married one! I feel really sorry for her, I truly do. Whether she knew he was married or not (and to be honest, I didn't even up until Friday) isn't the point, if YOU are in a relationship, YOU are responsible for your actions and being honest and so he should be the one who is receiving death threats, not her.

Ok, that's extreme, no-one should be suffering that kind of abuse, but if one or the other, then he is more in the wrong than she is, surely?

Anyway, it isn't just in this sort of instance that we suffer at the hands of a society built on double standards. It was in fact this that started our discussion, as my step-mum told me to, and I quote, "enjoy being single and irresponsible in London, there are lots of nice new men to have some fun with", to which my Grandma told me not to be a slag. Now, I'm not saying that I will be in any way taking up my step-mum's advice, but if I did, why would I be a slag? If I were a bloke I'd be a hero, yet if I were to start working my way through the male population of London as a woman, I'd be labelled a slut. And to be honest, I would feel like a slut and as a consequence wouldn't behave like that in the first place, but surely I should be free to should I so choose to go out and enjoy myself? And anyway, at what point do you progress from just having fun to being a slut? Does one one-night-stand make you a slut, does it require sleeping with a different man every weekend, are you a slut if you go out with a different man every night but don't sleep with them... I just don't understand the label and what it applies to and, most importantly, why it's even relevant in this day and age.

So maybe I'll be a slut, maybe I won't. Maybe you might think I am, whilst other people wouldn't. But just in case... Sorry Grandma!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

On nights like tonight.

I'm scared of going to sleep.

This may sound a bit strange, and I really ought to clarify it isn't the actual sleep which I'm scared of, it's the process of getting to sleep. It's the lying in bed with the events of the day whirling around in your head, and yet you're not quite conscious enough to have control over how they develop - this is the stage that I'm scared of. I think this has been going on for about four years now, and for four years unless I'm sharing a bed with someone I've always kept my TV on so I can listen to it rather than my own thoughts and this is the only way I can get to sleep.

Now, I'm not sure if it has become a habit (because although it takes a while, I can sleep without the telly when someone is here) or why I still have these problems, but the thought of going to bed without my TV on makes me cry and I literally cannot bring myself to turn it off. It's one of the few anxious behaviours I still have left, and given that on a daily basis it doesn't really bother me, it's not a behaviour I feel desperate to get rid of. However, on nights like tonight when I feel like the whole world is pushing me down, I wish I could just go to sleep to forget it all but it won't be that simple and this is when it annoys me. Even thinking about sleep gives me butterflies, and every time I think about it to even write this, I feel my heart beat a little bit faster.

I just wish I could choose when I switched off, rather than having to watch TV until I can't keep my eyes open any more. I wish I could just lie in bed without going over every bad thing that's ever happened to me. And on nights like tonight, I wish I could forget everything that happened today.

You see, due to what's now going round my university about me (and seriously, I knew rumours were bullshit but until I became the subject of one I didn't realise quite how much rubbish they were) and despite the fact that today was our last lecture, I just cannot stop going over it in my head. It's making me not want to go out, and I even contemplated shunning my friends from uni in the attempt to get rid of the association for good, but I know that's ridiculous and definitely so given what is going on.

I already hated most of the people on my course anyway, I now can't wait to leave and be with grown ups and not have these stupid, petty little problems dominating my life because, let's be honest, this really isn't an important issue. It's just a shame it's one of those stupid things that gets into your head and makes you feel small and ridiculed.

I swear, getting involved in that boy was more hassle than the good times were worth...

(I realise this post is a bit cryptic and unless you know me, which none of you do, some of this will make no sense. I just can't bring myself to tell you what they are saying, it's embarrassing enough without spreading the joy...)

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Bonfires and den-making.

When I move away, it never occurred to me that I would miss this lot, but I really will. You see, I've been a Rainbow and Brownie guider for the last three years and as much as the Rainbows are very excitable and the Brownies can be rude and loud, they are so much fun. Even despite the fact I was in a dreadful mood today, a few hours with them running around a forest making dens and cooking sausages around a campfire and I had the biggest smile on my face. They can be little monsters, and I'm sure if you quoted me on this at 4am when we're having a 'sleep'over that I would retract this, but mostly they are all lovely. The Rainbows in particular I'm attached to, they are so little and sweet, evidence if you needed anything that little girls really are made of sugar and spice and all things nice. We took them to the Build A Bear factory yesterday which was great fun too, so all in all, it's been a happy smiley week thanks to them. I really, really will miss them.

Although I wish I had taken a picture to show you of the new Rainbow bear, Jelly Bean. She really is... something else. Unique, I think you could say...

Anyway, I was very pleased to log on today and find I've been awarded my first blog award from Missy, who's blog you can (and should) check out here. I'm very excited, and even more so to receive the award from the blogger who's new posts I look forward to the most.

So in line with the rules, here are my seven random facts about myself:

1) I've never seen Mary Poppins, the Wizard of Oz or the Sound of Music, which I am led to believe is quite weird.

2) When I was four-years-old, my Mum mixed some medicine into a strawberry milkshake to make me take it and it made me sick. Even to this day, the smell of strawberry milkshake/ice cream alone will make me physically sick, I have such a strong aversion.

3) When I was 16, I had absolutely no friends and turned to the internet for solace. Since then, I've had the most amazing set of online friends with whom I would trust my life, despite having only met them once/twice.

4) I bought my own set of board markers for school because schools never provide you with purple ones.

5) I'm not scared of the dark, I'm scared of what might be there that I can't see. My imagination is far too overactive sometimes...

6) If I ever want to smile, the surefire way is to put on some good, 90s children's programmes and suddenly, with a cup of tea and a biscuit in my hand, I feel as innocent and free as I did when I watched them the first time.

7) If reincarnation is true, I want to be a cat in my next life. They have the most amazing lifestyle, they rule their own lives, do what they want when they want and can sleep through pretty much anything. Sounds perfect. (Or should I say purrfect... oh I know, I couldn't miss that opportunity, could I?!)

And now to pass on the award seven times over:

Now, I must stop procrastinating and I must get on with my essay. I had such a productive day today, unfortunately being in a bad mood is better for my productivity, so lets see if tomorrow can be both a happy and beneficial day. One more essay to go, 8 days left and then university is done forever!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tasty Tuesday

This is such a quick pudding, it can be made on those days when your main meal doesn't go far enough and you want to quickly whip up a pudding. It takes 20 minutes from start to finish, even the first time you make it, so it's ideal for weekdays.

Quick Lemon Sponge Pudding.
Serves 4-6

100g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter (softened)
2 medium eggs
Zest of 2 lemons and 4tbsp juice
150g lemon curd

1) Lightly butter a 2pint/1litre pudding basin.
2) Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, butter, eggs, lemon zest and 2tbsp of the juice.
3) Use an electric hand whisk to beat the ingredients together until the mixture becomes pale and thickens.
4) Spoon the mixture into the bowl, making a small hollow in the centre.
5) Microwave the pudding on the highest setting for 4-6 minutes, until springy to touch in the middle.
6) Remove from the microwave and leave for a few minutes before turning out onto a plate.
7) Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, mix the lemon curd and the remaining lemon juice and then pop into the microwave on high for 30 seconds.
8) Stir the sauce then pour half over the sponge. Leave for 2 minutes to allow this to soak in, then pour on the rest and serve.

Tip: Make the sponge and sauce but keep separate and simply serve portions of the sponge, repeating step 8 when required. This means you can make a giant one for just one or two people and eat it over a few days (the sponge will keep in an airtight container for 3 days, the sauce will keep in the fridge and both will need 30 seconds in the microwave to reheat).

Monday, 23 May 2011

Early mornings and exercise.

This morning, for the first time in six years, I got up early and went to the gym before starting my day. Now, I normally do go to the gym, so the only real deviation from the norm was that I got up early with no reason to other than my own desire to hit the gym, but it really has changed the whole dynamic of my day.

For a start, psychologically, when it got to 10am and I'd already been to the gym, showered, washed, dried and straightened my hair and I was sat in the library ready to start my essay, I felt productive and as a consequence, I was productive. I had also, before getting to the library, packed myself a lunch which I have to say was much more healthy than my usual haul, and I wonder if having been to the gym had something to do with my reaching for the cucumber, as opposed to the cheese.

Now, it's no secret that exercise helps to boost your mood, so it's no surprise that I felt a lot more cheerful, positive and confident this morning than I usually do after my normal sluggish start. Exercise has always been my way to control stress though, and it has given me confidence in myself over the years which I don't think I could have had otherwise. I don't really use it to control my weight so it doesn't give me confidence in that way (although given that I've been a gymbunny since I was 16 it would be impossible to say how I might look had I not been consistent in exercising), but it's just something about being in control of my own fitness, having aims and always pushing myself to beat my own previous best which gives me confidence. I think it might also have a lot to do with being fitter than most men, and I do like that; I like that I'm small but not pathetic, and I like that I can hold my own and shun all the stereotypes.

But now I'm worried, as having been so into my fitness for so long, I am now concerned that when I move and can't afford the gym for a while (and even when I can, will I have the time/energy) that all of these benefits will disappear, and I'm scared of the chubby, stressed, pathetic-feeling girl who might be left behind. I just wish I liked running or had any motivation for it, then there wouldn't be a problem.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I could stay fit without forking out for a gym membership? If you do, please let me know, I really am a bit worried for my health.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

A hormonal outburst.

For the last year, maybe eighteen months, I've been suffering with mood swings. Or at least, until I started blogging, I thought I had.

After Christmas 2009, I realised that my moods varied greatly from week to week and I managed to track them back to realise the connection to my cycle and the days I went on/off the pill. I was already having relationship problems with my then-boyfriend, and when I spent one week of every month crying and another shouting at anyone and everything like a crazed mad woman, I realised this wasn't going to help. So I trotted off to my doctors, presented the evidence and she swapped me to another type of pill.

Type in 'hormonal woman' to google image search et voila... depicted.
By this point it was March, and my relationship with my then-boyfriend was hanging by a thread so I hoped the change would help. It did not, and actually, my new pill made me even more insane and I became impossible to live with. I look back now at some of my demands and some of the fights we had and I can't believe I was ever like that, and whilst nothing justifies the way he finished things, I'm surprised we made it to April before he kicked me out, leaving me homeless and broke in every sense of the word.

When I realised that my emotions were being partly-fuelled by the pill again, I took myself off it and had a very nice, placated 5 months before my need for a longer term contraceptive took me back to the doctor. I now have an IUD coil fitted, which works on many of the same hormones but at a much reduced rate and rather than breaking every month, it provides a consistent flow. And yet I still seemed to suffer the same mood swings from Christmas onwards, going from illogical to teary-eyed to angry beast within days, and I suffered all the other effects of a hormone 'wobble' as my (obviously male) doctor described them, such as headaches and spots.

But now, after having split with my boyfriend three months ago and having only had one 'wobble' since, I've realised the factor was not my hormones. It was my relationship, or rather, relationships. The mood swings being caused by them, the headaches and spots from the stress of being unhappy in my situation... it all adds up, and it was only when I had my first mood swing in months on Thursday that I realised what actually caused my flare-ups. And needless to say, it has nothing to do with my hormone levels, but rather the boyfriend-induced stress levels. The calmest I've been in months have been the times I've felt truly free of BS (boyfriend stress, which to be honest could readily be exchanged with 'bullshit' and the effect would be the same) and as quickly as my BS came on Thursday, I ditched the cause from my life and magically I'm fine again.

I suppose there could be a cause-and-effect debate here, but regardless, it seems that the calmer I keep my life and the more I focus on myself rather than running my life for someone else, the clearer life seems. And it's a nice realisation, that actually I am in control of this. And hopefully now I know, it will lead to a better screening process in the future and the early warning signs of BS will be much more, often explosively, apparent.

As if I needed another reason to abstain from men in the next year or so - I have much better things to be doing, much greater things to achieve, and a much greater level of stability to reach than I ever could, evidently, with a man in tow.

So sorry guys, I'm officially off the market, even if this tale of a truly crazy woman didn't put you off...

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The see-saw has levelled.

My love life has finally sorted itself out. And by 'sorted out', I mean that I realised it wasn't worth the hassle, only ended up getting hurt again and am generally wondering why the hell I bothered. When I first found myself single earlier this year, I was relieved that finally I could just worry about myself and not about others, so I vowed to stay that way until I had well and truly settled. Now, I know it's generally human nature not to follow your own advice, but I really, really need to remember that next time, learn from these mistakes and not only rock the single boat again, but settle for a year long cruise on board.

So, another note to my future self:

Just remember, next time you forget why you've escaped: he is full of bullshit. Nothing more and nothing less, and you are worth a million times more than a lying little bullshitter. You do not miss him because he brought nothing positive to your life that you could possibly miss, and you are not sad that he is gone from your life. If you are sad, it's because you miss what you could have had, and yes he would have given you everything and all the security for the future, but you would have been unhappy, always wondering if you could have been something more or with someone who made you a bit happier. And you can be something more and you will find someone who makes you happier. And actually, you will be a LOT happier.

So hopefully, the last fortnight has just been my footing slipping slightly from the amazingly positive way life is developing and now I'm back upright, standing tall.

Lots of metaphors today...

Thursday, 19 May 2011

People are just plain rude.

Since when did we become a society which does not value manners? Or maybe the question should be, since when did being an adult mean that you don't need to bother with the basic manners your Nans, Grandmas and Mums spent years drilling into you as a little child? Or if they didn't drill them into you, why not?

Manners are such a pet hate of mine with children, or rather the lack of. When I'm teaching and doing my voluntary work at Rainbows and Brownies, I always insist the children say "please" when they want something and then "thank you" when they get it, and the Brownies in particular are dreadful at it and nearly always need prompting with, "what's the magic word?" However, most of them learnt that they have to be polite to me to get anything after I shouted at one girl (and bearing in mind this is one of only two times I've ever shouted at a child) after:

Child: "I need some sellotape"
Me: "That's not a question."
Child: "Can I have some sellotape?"
Me: "What's the magic word?"
Child: "Now."

Ok, so most children are not that cheeky, but so few of them use their basic manners without prompting, and as for them interrupting other people, their manners are pretty much non-existent, even by ages 8 or 9. And whilst that used to surprise me, it's come to my attention recently that there are so many grown-ups who don't uphold the same manners and respect, so it's no real wonder that the children of today aren't learning their basic "please" and "thank you".

I have been particularly wound up by my family regarding this. My brother has returned from university as such a pretentious, rude little git that he talks over me, demands things without so much as even one 'magic word' and doesn't bother with basic courtesy of letting us know where he is, before coming home late and making my Mum cook his dinner. My Mum isn't much better: twice today she's told me to do various things without a  "please", and yesterday I made a journey out to buy guinea pig food after she forgot, not to get a "thank you" for that either.

Manners really do cost nothing, and a lack of them does put you very far down in my esteem. However, perhaps this isn't a commonly-held ideal any more, maybe we're going the way of the French who always comment on our manners because they don't bother and maybe being polite and nice to each other is a dying art.

Is it just me who feels like this? I know I'm in a particularly bad mood at the moment, (my brother, for talking over me, got severely shouted at and had the remote lobbed at his smug face, which actually shut him up for the first time ever) so I'm aware I may be being more sensitive to these things, but it can't just be me who is wound up by this sort of thing, and it's something which has persistently bothered me with children.

So I'm going to have a 'manners' award for my class when I'm teaching next year, I'm going to break the back of this rude epidemic 30 children at a time and I'm going to reward politeness as if it's the greatest asset in the world. Which, I genuinely believe, it is.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I've been slacking again.

University work, travelling, school work and life have generally gotten in the way of my precious sitting-around-on-my-backside time recently which means I haven't had time to sit and blog. I miss sitting down and having a change to pour my little heart out, it feels all cooped up. Although I should say, this makes it sound like I have something to report and quite frankly I don't. Things on the relationship front are pretty static (well, going round in circles) and I'm splitting my time between study, friends and blind panic about the future.

Being in London and being at my school again on Monday was definitely the kick up the backside I needed; I'd forgotten how much I love that place until I was there again! I found out which year my class will be next year and saw my classroom so I am now getting very excited about having my little Reception class next year. Plus, I have a million ideas going round in my head and knowing that as soon as I plough through these stupid assignments, find a flat (and a bit more money) and move I can get started on it has given me the lift and the motivation I really needed. Plus, now my little brother is home from university, the relationship me and my Mum have is fast deteriorating as expected (I'll save the favouritism rant for another day, but I will say "brother's car insurance" and leave it at that) so that has provided more of an incentive, as if the excitement wasn't enough!

Rainbow fish! This is one of my many ideas, such a classic.

At least the money situation has eased slightly, now I've worked out every single tiny detail of the costs of moving, bills, rent, furniture etc I know I can definitely afford it all... even if it looks like I won't be going out very much in the summer due to being skint, the money is there and my life is, hopefully, going to sort itself out finally. If only the same could be said for my love life, but there's no surprise that's all up in the air again. My life seems to be a constant see-saw, with one end flying high and another end sat in the dirt...

Saturday, 14 May 2011

So it's been a strange few days...

I don't know if anyone caught my blog updating you all on the date I went on the other day (it was caught up in the blogger downtime/posts deleted etc) but I ditched it anyway. I read back over it and I felt that I gave the whole thing much more gravitas than it needed. Don't get me wrong, it was ok, but all in all it was nothing amazing and all I wanted to do was go home and curl up into a ball.

Besides, after all that, I spoke to a girl from my uni course who knows the guy. The conversation went as follows:

Me: I met someone who knows you, [name]. He lives on your street.
Her: Oh yeah! I know his girlfriend!

Anyway, it turned out that he didn't have a girlfriend (although if he did, would have have told me?), not that it mattered, Thursday was a roller-coaster of emotions for other reasons so to be quite honest, I couldn't care less right now.

So Thursday was our last ever day at university as a whole cohort (we have small seminar groups left but otherwise, it's over) and also it was our first one in a while, meaning it was the first time I had seen my ex since we split up in February and lets just say, I'm not as over him as I thought. I really thought I was doing well, but it turns out that seeing him was all it took to reduce me to a sobbing wreck. The whole day was awful, he wouldn't even look at me never mind talk to me, and I just could not handle it. As soon as we left our last seminar I burst into tears, I tried to message him on BBM to see if he'd talk to me but I've obviously been blocked and so instead, I cranked up the self-pity music in the car on the way home and did what I haven't done for years and cried so much it hurt as I drove home. I thought it would make me feel better, crying usually does, but it didn't seem to help and I can't seem to pick myself up again. I can't eat, I can't sleep, I am literally suffering the most ridiculously delayed heartbreak possible.

And I'm sorry, I know this is the most ridiculous load of self-pitying rubbish and is everything I hate about blogging but I needed to vent because tomorrow I have to get up, get over it, get on with my life and try to function as a professional for a few days. And I will, I'm London-bound and that always cheers me up...

Monday, 9 May 2011


My dissertation is done, bound, handed in and out of my life, there is light at the end of the tunnel and my degree is almost done! Whilst that is in some ways a scary thought and I will miss studying and student life, it's also really exciting that the next part of my life is about to begin.

I keep thinking back to where I was three years ago when I started and all the great things I've done, the person I've become and the people I've met since then and it really has been the best experience of my life. Things didn't always go my way, I've had ups and downs (as well as a couple of spectacularly horrendous crashes), but I'm leaving with a lot of great friends, a bucket of confidence and a career I love... what more could I possibly ask for? The most exciting bit, however, is still to come. As far as I've come in the last three years, nothing can compare to what is ahead of me, the vast unknown and the amazing experiences and career that lay before me. This month is the closing of a few doors but opening of many new ones and it really is very exciting!

I'm also very excited about next week, as I've been invited to a training day at my new school and hopefully get to finally meet everyone, as well as getting to know my way around and start networking with colleagues from other schools. It sounds like a really useful course too, so even though it's a long way for two hours, it'll be beneficial in the long run and I'm really looking forward to it - just one more step on the transition to be excited about!

This is of course after my first first date on Wednesday, which is another box to tick! We've decided we're going to meet for lunch, so now the date is planned, the outfit can be sussed out. Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post by the way, your words of support were lovely and I'm less worried about it all now, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who is going out into the dating world for the first time at this age! Despite my nerves, I am excited too (I know, an over-used word in this post, sorry!). After all, dating guys who were my friends first obviously hasn't worked out very well for me in the past, so it's time to adapt a grown up style of dating and have a nice time meeting some lovely men and getting to know them as we go along. I'm almost looking forward to it, I'm much less inclined to curl up into the foetal position at the thought of it today which can surely only be a good thing.

So fingers crossed it goes well, I'll let you all know how it goes on and I may also call on your words of wisdom regarding the outfit tomorrow!

Come on then life, lets get on with you...

Sunday, 8 May 2011


Ok, so, following the events of the other night and a looooot of texting, I now have a date for Wednesday daytime and I am panicking slightly!

Dating is very much out of my comfort zone, it's not something I have ever done given that I started going out with my first boyfriend aged 15, the second was my best friend and the third was also a friend first and whenever you read a magazine or a website there are lists of 'dos and don'ts' for dating and I have none of this etiquette established. How are you supposed to behave? How much of your true self do you reveal, or is it supposed to be the ultimate, preened, goddess-like version of yourself that turns up? What sort of questions should I ask? And how does a daytime date work differently to a normal meal? I mean, for a start, it is potentially much longer and although I don't know what we're doing yet, I get the feeling he's done this a lot more often than I have (which, lets face it, isn't a record which takes much beating) because he seems much more confident and I have no idea how to play this.

My main concern is that I've never been particularly good at conversation, I'm so scared of the awkward silences that I tend to witter away, and as for interesting conversation starters, they never come to me. I so rarely meet new people, I've had my friendship group established for years now, and the whole process of meeting someone and getting to know them and letting them in to my life is really daunting and I just feel like I have no idea how to go about that. I suppose that's born out of a lack of experience and the only way to get over that is to get out into the real world and start meeting new people, but in the mean time, am I going to endure endless awkward silences and failed attempts at functioning like a normal human being in social situations?

And in another point, how have I made it to 22 without having ever experienced this? Is it sad I've never been out on a date before? I am literally terrified, at this rate, I doubt I'll even make it out the door without bursting into tears or being sick. Lord help me...

Aaaaaah, panic! (Not my most articulate post, I'll grant you...)

The one thing I am less scared about, however is what to wear, which for some reason isn't actually stressing me out that much? Although in all fairness, when I met him I was dressed as Posh Spice with full 90s outfit, hair and make-up, so compared to that I could wear almost anything and look amazing, which is one less stress off my mind at least.

Does anyone have any tips or words of wisdom to impart? Help me!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Last night.

I had such an amazing night last night, we all had so much fun and it wasn't messy, just a really good laugh. It was a late one for two of us though, I got in at 6am (by which time it was already daylight!) and L didn't get home until 7 after going for breakfast with some randomers and then falling asleep in the bath. She was definitely the most drunk, I had pretty much sobered up by about 3am as I couldn't afford to drink out so was being fairly sensible, and two of the others went home earlier because they were so drunk they could barely stand. But despite all that, there was no messiness, no-one did anything they shouldn't, no-one was sick and everyone got home safely. An ideal night, all in all!

Plus, I met a veeeeeeery cute guy when I was out and spent most of the latter part of the evening chatting to and dancing with him. I usually don't get that much interest when I'm out, but L dragged me over to these guys and told them all that I was beautiful and that they should therefore all love me! She also told everyone else she spoke to that they were beautiful, no wonder she had crowds of people with her all night, but still she is so going to be my wing-woman any other time I'm out and feeling in that sort of mood. He's a seems to be a lovely guy too, we were chatting and dancing and then got a taxi back together which he insisted on paying for because it was on his way home anyway! So yeah, he seems really lovely, it definitely wasn't a 'slutty pull' or anything (as my friend calls them), had a cheeky kiss but that's about it.

I suppose it's also nice to know that after 7 years of being in a relationship that someone else would actually look at me and that I maybe won't be alone forever. I know I'm not concerned about that right now, but when I'm ready, at least I have some potential. Reassuring...

Friday, 6 May 2011

"Girl power" and other 90s shenanigans.

Seeing as I'm off out with the girls (aka the Spice Girls) tonight, I thought I'd share my 90s reminiscing with you all!

Firstly, our muses for the evening:

That dance will live on forever, genius!

Plus, so much other great music I couldn't miss out (all linked to youtube for your viewing pleasure!): Hanson, Backstreet BoysM People, Aqua, 'The Macarena', 'Cotton Eyed Joe', Steps... I could go on for hours. Anyway, I think the most worrying thing is that a lot of the cheesy pop bands I looked up actually turned out to be 00s bands, which means I was much less cooler than I thought as a young teenager!

Now if you were a child in the UK during the 90s, you will also remember this little dude and cry with laughter when you watch this, trust me! (And yes, this is Bill Oddie with him!)

And of course, the amazing fashions:

  • Denim, denim and more denim, worn on top of denim! Amazing.
  • Dungarees. I miss them.
  • Bright blue and purple eye shadow with patching bright blue/purple eye liner (which, might I add, they do not sell in Boots anymore)
  • Knitted jumpers, oh the beauty.
  • Turtle neck jumpers
  • Gypsy style (which is back, again...)
  • CROP TOPS. Fit.
  • And apparently, the 90s saw the first chavs. Enough said.
  • Scrunchies for putting hair up! Nice.
It was an amazing time, and I'm sure that I don't just say that because of the innocence of my youth, afterall, who couldn't be happy if they had 5,6,7,8, the Macarena and other dance routines to keep them busy?

Spice up your life! 

Feel free to share any other memories, I can't get enough 90s!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

We are lucky.

Don't get me wrong, I do not know that much about politics, I am moderately interested at best and I do not want to start a political debate with this. I am stating my opinion, and feel free to disagree if you like.

I voted 'no' in the AV referendum because I do not think that the election system is what is wrong with our political system, it is the people who stand for us. And seeing as regardless of how we vote it will be the same idiots who run our country, we may as well keep the old system which is tried-and-tested and is not ruining other countries (AV in Australia, enough said) and not spend millions of pounds we do not have on a new system that will make very little or no difference.

Why did I vote at all despite my obvious apathy when, surely, apathy towards the system leads to most people not bothering? Because women died so that I would have the right to vote, and around the world today not everyone is as lucky as I am as a female to be able to vote.

We are very lucky, voting is a privilege not a right, and I urge any women out there reading this today to go out and vote. You owe it to your ancestors who fought, to the women of Saudi Arabia, (who are not the only ones but whom I have read a lot about lately, read a bit here) to go out and vote. Saying you don't understand politics isn't enough, look online, watch the news for 15 minutes a day and educate yourself, then get to the polling station and do what so many women can't and realise how lucky you are to live in a country where our opinions and free speech are valued.

*steps down off soap box*

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Back to normality.

If you had asked me two months ago how I defined my life, I would have spent ages rambling on about how much I have to do, how busy I am and how much I freaking love it! So it even came as a bit of a surprise to me when I sat down to blog a few days ago and had to apologise for my boring life, so I decided I'd get up in the morning and force myself back into my old, productive and often manic habits. 48 hours later, I have a sore back, sore feet, aching stomach muscles and a brain that can barely form sentences but I have:

1) Finished my dissertation completely, all the stupid jobs done and it is printing as I type;
2) Had amazing fun at a Rainbow and Brownie Royal Wedding Party (I volunteer there, I'm not a randomer);
3) Made a remote control car (yes, I actually do that on my degree course);
4) Been to the gym for a good, 2-hour workout;
5) Made a dress for the weekend!

And actually I thought I had done more than that, but actually for 48 hours that isn't bad!

I'm probably more proud of the dress than the dissertation though, is that wrong? Basically, me and the girls are off out this weekend as Spice Girls and as the fastest-replying brunette I bagsied Posh Spice. Which I thought would be easy, she had a fairly easy style with lots of short dresses, but do I actually own a plain black one? Nope. So I embarked on making one out of an old one which I've had for 4 years and not worn since. It was only £10 from Matalan at the time so I reckon I've done quite well out of this dress, and actually, potentially improved it (given that I spent an hour fixing it before I started altering it!)



I'm impressed with my efforts, the dress may even make another outing as something other than a costume, it's really nice and obviously fits really well. All in all, a productive day.

Now my brain is going a million miles an hour, I've been bouncing off the walls all day but I've gotten so much done that it just shows I really do work best like this and I need to keep myself busy in future or I'll end up going mad! So once my dissertation has finished printing (the printer ran out of ink so I drove to the 24 hour Tesco to buy another cartridge, then had to get petrol... it's been another productive 40 minutes) I shall hit the sack because I need to calm down now or I won't get any sleep and will be tired rather than productive in lessons.

Bed time...

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Tasty Tuesday

So following my inspiration earlier this week, I'm hopefully starting myself a little blog tradition today with my first recipe. Fingers crossed my food serves you well, even if my photography and general food presentation at the moment leaves much to be desired!

Sweet potato, spinach and feta quiche
Serves 4

(Ok, I'm suffering here from my Mum having taught me, so excuse the imperial measurements here.)
4oz plain flour
2oz butter (room temperature for ease)
2-3 tablespoons cold water.

200g sweet potato, diced to about 2cm squared.
150g baby spinach leaves
100g feta cheese
80g cheddar cheese, grated
1 small onion, finely chopped
100ml milk (I used skimmed)
100ml creme fraiche
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil

1) Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees (or 170 degrees for a fan oven).
1) Put the butter and flour into a mixing bowl and rub together with your finger tips until you are left with fine breadcrumbs. Add the water gradually and mix into a ball of dough.
2) Roll the pastry out onto a floured surface until large enough for your flan dish.
3) Pop the pastry into your flan dish and trim the edges. Line the pastry with grease-proof paper and fill with baking beans (or dry rice if you don't have any).
4) Bake the pastry blind for about 15 minutes.
5) Meanwhile, fry the onion and sweet potato in the olive oil on a medium heat for 5 minutes.
6) Add the spinach to the frying pan for 1 minute.
7) Remove the ingredients from the heat and layer into the bottom of the baked pastry.
8) Mix the two cheeses together and layer on top of the vegetables.
9) Whisk the eggs in a mixing jug, add the creme fraiche and milk and whisk. Pour over the other ingredients in the pastry case.
10) Pour the mixture into the baked case and pop all of it into the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until topping is set and lightly browned.
11) Leave to set for a further 10 minutes, then serve. Also tastes great served cold as left-overs the next day.


Monday, 2 May 2011

Rant over.

I thought I'd write another blog today, seeing as my last post was generally awful. Part of me feels the need to apologise for the rant, but I needed somewhere to vent and I find that writing things down is much easier and more therapeutic. I suppose it's the requirement to be logical, to structure whole sentences and to explain how you feel that helps more than standing in front of a poor friend who gets bombarded with a load of swear words and repeated "argh!"s. But anyway, it's out of my system now and I've decided just to keep an eye on the situation and make sure that I am always in a fit state to deal with it, i.e. not being too drunk, always making sure I look half-decent (i.e. like I don't live under a bridge) so that if/when I meet these people from my past, they will look at me and think "wow, she's changed" and that will be satisfying enough.

So now I've let it go, I thought I'd try again with writing a blog post today, hoping something would be presentable for Mingle Monday over at Life of Meg.

Anyway, I also realise that a lot of my blogging last month was without direction, but seeing as I was having a generally boring and repetitive month I didn't have much else to say. My life recently has generally been quite boring, and whilst I wish I had more to look forward to I have another month before anything really interesting happens.

This is because tomorrow I go back to university after what seems like forever, and even though we've dipped in and out for the odd lecture, it really has been a year since we've had structured lectures and seminars with assignments running alongside. I love this bit about my course, I love the academia, the study, the stress and that little buzz you get when you find a relevant book or article in the library. And to be honest, I love sitting in the library and working with a pile of books in front of me, it feels so studious and productive. I know it's all psychological, there's nothing stopping me from working at home, but it's just not as conducive to learning. But this will be my last month of university, and whilst I do love my course, I don't think I'll miss it.

I'm definitely ready to leave now. I feel ready to get out and actually start teaching, and in a wider sense to get out into the real world. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've made great friends on my course and some who I hope will be friends for life, but there are some others who don't seem to have grown up since their first day as eighteen-year-old fresher and it's getting really tiring now. I'd like to be around like-minded grown-ups for a change, people who don't think that getting drunk on Wednesday and turning up to a 9am lecture is 'heroic' (and we've all done it, me included, but we forgot we had a seminar, in our defence) and people who actually work their hardest all the time rather than doing what they need to get by. I can't stand that attitude, I believe we owe it to ourselves to be the best we can be and if you can't even be bothered to do that then you have issues.

Ok, I'm bordering on another rant here so I shall move on and get to the point of this post.

More interesting things I have to look forward to this month.
6th: Shopping day out with the mother (who may or may not drive me mad, it's yet to be seen);
Also on the 6th: A night out with the girls! Motto of the evening: less alcohol, more fun;
11th: Dissertation deadline! So everyone else will be done and we can go out and celebrate;
12th: Going to play tennis for the first time in 4 years with someone I've not seen in 5;
19th: Presentations for a module assessment. May not sound fun but I love that sort of thing;
26th: Penultimate essay due in, the count down is on!
27th: I can start to look at finding somewhere to live in July! Aaah!

And by the 3rd of June it will all be over, the hunt for somewhere to live will be truly on and life will kick up a gear! So please excuse me if the next month is a bit dull on the blogging front, but I hope soon to have great news and happy stories to share.

Bring on the summer! 


I knew Plymouth would one day crush me, I just didn't see that it had already happened. I literally lay in bed all day yesterday sulking, crying and playing a load of self-indulgent songs from my ipod (we all do it sometimes, it helps to vent, or so I tell myself) at a single realisation.

In the world, there is something called the "Five degrees of separation" (or six, depending on what you read), which means that somehow, everyone in the world is the friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend *counts back to check* that you already know regardless of how you know that person, where they live etc. I think in Plymouth though, I think it's no more than 2 degrees at the very most, and realising that in anything more than a lighthearted "oh so you are so-and-so's sister?" way is beyond awful. I'm actually really worried, I've come so far and I just cannot, cannot, cannot go back. Not now.

When I finished my GCSEs aged 16, I had the worst two years of my life. The long summer was hell, with various 'friends' either making my life hell or, the lesser of two evils, not bothering with me at all. I was depressed, and spent every day of the summer on the internet talking to people online to not feel alone and to feel valid. Sixth form was worse, because those people who dragged me down were suddenly there every day again and seemed to be on some sort of vendetta against me to make my life awful. In English lessons for example, there were only 9 of us in the A-Level class and in our double lesson on Fridays we would take it in turn to bring in sweets. And then, every week except when it was my turn, the people in my group would proceed to pass the sweets round and would purposely not offer me any. No-one would sit next to me in the common room and I spent a lot of my time sat in the computer suite alone because at least there I could send an email or something to make myself feel better about having no friends.

By the final year there, I was barely going because I knew my self-esteem couldn't take any more. In fact, there was nothing left of my self-esteem. The only friend I had there was a girl who I used to go to the school gym with in the mornings, and together we developed anorexia and competed against each other for fitness and weight-loss aims but at least it felt safe because we were the same, we never told anyone what we did and it was our little secret. All of this self-destruction, I still believe now, was down to a few girls whom had been my 'friends', but who had constantly put me down to feed their own self-esteem and then turned on me to stop others from having anything to do with me.

Four years later, I'm sat here now a much stronger person. I have friends, I have a healthy relationship with food against all odds, I'm confident and I'm happy. The girls who dragged me down have nothing to do with me any more, and the ex boyfriend who ruined me last year is out of my life too. This last year has been the cherry on top in the process of sorting my life out and know if I hadn't got rid of those people from my life, I couldn't honestly say I'd even still be alive.

Until today, that is, I believed I was without them. But the 2 degrees of separation mean that I've realised without any facebook stalking (because they popped up on my feed in other people's photos) that they are creeping back in. They are one night away from being back in my lives again; they are in the outer proximities of my social group; they are now friends with other friends of mine they didn't know before and eventually, I can see it now, we will be invited to the same event and everything I've fought so hard to escape will be stood in front of me, gloating and bitching whilst I feel smaller and smaller until I want to cry.

Ex boyfriends too. I have enough trouble avoiding the one I see every time I go to uni that I didn't think to keep an eye out for the other one. He's the one who reduced me to nothing until I ruined our relationship before he proceeded to kick me out, keep all the stuff that was jointly owned and leave me homeless. He hurt me so much I've not even ever dealt with it, I think it's just been repressed and ignored and whilst you could argue that's not helpful, I didn't realise that until recently and even now I have no intention of digging it out again. Again, I just shunned him from my life but again, at some point, he will be there at the same time as me and I'll have to face it. I can see him there, I can see who he spends his time with now and I can see how my social group is starting to slide together with his. This is not the time in my life for this.

I feel so trapped, I feel like I have to watch my step, like I have to watch who I go out with, where and when in an attempt to keep those people from coming back and wreaking havoc in my life again. I know I'm stronger now, a part of me even thinks I could hold my head up high and manage it, but there's that little bit of me which is saying 'why risk that, keep your distance' because inside every one of us, there is still that insecure 16-year-old who doesn't take much knocking down.

I need to get out of here now. I know I can't, I know I have at least 1 month 3 days before I am truly free, but that cannot come soon enough because this city feels like a ticking time-bomb now, waiting to collapse around me and prove that actually, I'm not as strong as I thought. And I want that to be wrong, I want it to prove that I am strong when it happens but I can't take that risk right now because it's taken me four years to get to where I am today and I have better things to do with my life than spend another four years sorting myself out again.

Sorry for the rant but I'm panicking, in case you hadn't noticed. I just don't know what to do other than become a recluse and hide which won't help and it's messed with my brain so much I can feel my heart racing in my chest and my breathing becoming more panicky. I need to find a way to handle this, to keep everything from coliding again. I need a movie-esque (or at least mediocre-TV-programme-esque) plan...

Sunday, 1 May 2011

A shopping list for dating.

Ok, despite my ever-strong desire to be a spinster (men are still a lot of hassle), the Royal Wedding and various other things this week have got me perhaps in a place where I may be possibly contemplating putting myself back on the metaphorical shelf in the dating market.

Well, I can dream?
Now don't get me wrong, I have no intention of starting anything serious in the near future, definitely not while I still live here (I have utmost admiration for anyone who manages an LDR because I know I couldn't) but if a half-decent guy were to come along and show me some interest once I've moved and settled, I wouldn't instantaneously shun them.

I was talking about this with a single girlfriend last night who is newly single too, and we were talking about what we have learnt from our failed relationships and what that teaches us about what we want from a future partner. And I came up with a list which I thought I'd share as a reminder to my future self.

  • If a guy brings out the worst in you (i.e. turns you into a jealous, possessive dragon) then they aren't right for you, because you're not usually like that.
  • I need a guy who has ambition in life, and preferably in terms of the greater 'life plan' has roughly the same aims as you. But otherwise, they need to be passionate about something and always striving for something better and remember, if they aren't, you can't change them!
  • Whilst money isn't everything, I can't deal with a guy who is completely skint. I'm hardly a gold-snatcher, and I feel a bit harsh in saying this, but I need someone who can at least pay their own way.
  • Someone older, at least a couple of years older. I'm still not settled in my life yet and having someone who is the same will mean we'd probably end up going different ways anyway or making decisions based on the other and that's never a good thing.
  • Taller than me - I need to be able to wear heels and not look like a giant. So I'm looking at at least 5ft 10 if not taller. This isn't a superficial thing though - I wear heels when I go out to feel sexy, which gives me self-confidence. When I don't wear heels, I don't feel as good about myself and if I have another boyfriend who whinges at me for wearing heels, he's only going to make me feel less attractive in what I have to wear as a consequence and therefore less self-confident. This might sound like rubbish but it makes sense to me.
  • Someone who doesn't see me as a sex object. I had an ex once who used to demand sex on the grounds that "that's what boyfriends and girlfriends do!". Yes, but they should also both want to and the more it was expected of me, the less sexy I felt.
  • I need to have my space and be allowed to have my own hobbies. If I like it, doesn't mean you have to too and if you insist on doing all the same things as me, I will end up going a bit mental and you will end up being dumped. Simple.
  • REGISTER THE EARLY RED ALERT SIGNALS. If you don't feel happy or comfortable in the first few weeks, that will never change. Get out early before it's too late! 
  • They need to be able to cook but generally willing to relinquish control in the kitchen. I do the cooking, you do the washing up, deal?
  • Jealous and possessive = instant ditching. Don't feed their insecurity by 'helping them through it' and certainly do not change what you want to wear, where you want to go and who you want to go with.
  • They need to have manners and be polite. This is such a big bug-bear for me with the 5 year-olds I teach, so if a grown-up can't manage it then he's o-u-t.
  • They need to have some brains - I don't want to be running a translation service when I, for example, tell you to stop being 'pedantic' or use the word 'intrinsic' (which is one of my favourite words, no idea why).
  • And as a consequence, if you don't know the right "their, there and they're", "two, to and too" and "your and you're", then you're out. It's not difficult, I know 8 year olds who know the difference, and if you can be out-smarted by an 8 year old and I have a constant itch to get my marking pens and stamps out whenever I see a tweet or text, you're not the guy for me.
  • If my Nan wouldn't approve, then you're out. Sorry, guys, she's a fussy bean...

As a good friend once told me, keep searching for your knight in shining armour, never settle for a guy in a tin foil hat. I don't think I'm being too over-the-top with my list? Possibly other than the Nan one, but she knows her stuff and I've never known her to judge someone and be wrong. I suppose I just want a gentleman and a bit of old-fashioned chivalry really, and I know most modern women would cringe at my saying that, but regardless of whether I've watched too many Disney films or not, it's my success criteria! I'm sure it will change, apparently we women will kiss 22 men on average before settling down and I'm not even nearly half way through, so I think it's time to hit the city (when I move to London, obviously, the men here are generally good for Jeremy Kyle and nothing else), flash a smile and see where it gets me.

Cheers for the confidence boost, girlies from last night!