Monday, December 26

Merry (Blurry) Christmas!
 

Hope your eyesight doesn't go like this picture after too many sherries. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 22

The Grossness of Tesco at Christmas
There's a running joke in the Meep household that whenever we're about to go somewhere guaranteed to be packed, I always say "Don't worry - there'll be no-one there."

Take Cardiff city centre on the day that Wales were about to take on Ireland to win the Grand Slam for the first time since 1978. The conversation went something like this:

Me: "Let's pop into town - I need some veg from the market."
Mr Meep: "Are you bonkers? Not only is it Saturday, but there's a big rugby match on."
Me: "Nah, it'll be fine - everyone will either be in the stadium or watching it at home. There'll be no-one there."

Half an hour later, we were in town. So were about 60,000 other people - spilling out of pubs and watching the game on big screens set up outside the city hall. It was loud, it was packed, it was hideous - I'd only wanted a few carrots.

I was faced with a similar situation today. Having lunch with a friend, I said: "I'm going to pop to Tesco to get the Christmas food tonight - there's still a few days left, so I can't see it being very busy."

So at 7pm, I set of to the temple of consumerism that is one of the three gargantuan Tesco Extra stores in the city (one pound in every eight spent in the UK goes through their tills, fact fans!).

Expecting to breeze in and out, flicking through the magazines and having a browse at the clothes, I was shocked to find that every family in Wales - nay, Britain - had decided to descend upon the aisles at 7pm on the 22nd December.

There were trolleys piled so high, they couldn't be pushed straight. There were babies crying, toddlers tantruming, teenagers huffing and mums screeching in despair. There was panic buying of mince pies and sprouts, and quite a lot of 'trolley rage'.

Feeling full of Christmas inner karma, I refused to get stressed out by the situation. Instead I became a social observer, wandering up and down the aisles, soaking up the atmosphere and watching the behaviour of my fellow shoppers.

And my discovery? Simply that I wanted to get hold of the tanoy and make an important festive announcement: "THE SHOP IS CLOSING FOR ONE DAY! THAT'S ONE DAY! DO YOU REALLY NEED 10 PINTS OF MILK AND FIFTEEN LOVES OF BREAD? AND YOU, PEOPLE FIGHTING OVER THE TESCO VALUE TURKEYS - HAVE YOU NOT SEEN THOSE TV PROGRAMMES ABOUT DODGY CHEAP MEAT? WOMAN IN KAPPA TRACKSUIT SCREAMING AT YOUR CHILD - CHARDONNAY IS A WINE, NOT A BABY NAME. THE FOOTBALLERS' WIVES THING WAS A JOKE. FAMILY WITH 12 MULTIPACKS OF CRISPS AND A SQUILLION BOTTLES OF RED POP - YOU WONDER WHY YOUR KIDS ARE RUNNING UP THE AISLES THROWING POTATO SMILES AT EACH OTHER? AND A NATIONAL SHORTAGE OF FOSTERS IS HIGHLY UNLIKELY, SO ACCOSTING THE STAFF AS THEY BRING CRATES OF IT OUT OF THE STORES PROBABLY ISN'T REALLY NECESSARY."

And relax... My inner buddha has retuned and now all is calm again.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21

 


Happy me, hugging a tree
It was a Tuesday morning at about 11am. I'd usually be hunched over a desk, devoid of daylight. Instead, I was skipping through a forest, hugging the trees. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 20

 

Christmas cards
My friend Sara and I spent yesterday afternoon making Christmas cards. Here are the results. Good, eh? Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 16

The Friday list
I finish work today for Christmas - no more getting up at 6.30am and sitting in a horrid office for seventeen whole days - weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Here's a list of all the social, creative, wintery and outdoorsy things I have got planned.

  • A Christmas party at my friend's house
  • Going to see The Wizard of Oz at the fab Millennium Centre
  • Making cards and star-shaped cookies
  • Taking Le Blod on lots of walks in the countryside and on the coast
  • Cooking lots of lovely food
  • Getting to grips with my fab new camera
  • Meeting old friends for wine and chats
  • Skating at the outdoor rink
  • Watching Love Actually and It's a Wonderful Life

    Bring on the festive joy!

    Vibe of the day
    Mood: Festive
    Food: Mince Pies
    Tunes: Christmas compilation
  • Thursday, December 15

    Fulfilling an ambition
    Yesterday was our office Christmas lunch. Overpriced soggy food, copious amounts of cheap wine, forced frivolity, crackers full of plastic tat... you get the picture.

    Within the first hour, half of them were on their third round of drinks. By the time the dessert came round, they were throwing food across the room. Time for a sharp exit, I thought, so my colleague and I legged it back to the office to finish off some "urgent work".

    To get in the festive spirit, the four of us defectors sang Christmas songs and ate lots of Celebrations chocs. Someone said "I wonder if anyone's going to come back here pissed and photocopy their bum?". That got me thinking...

    I've always been a bit of a closet flasher and have always harboured a secret ambition to photocopy my boobs. So I went for it. While my colleague kept guard at the door, I whipped off my top and put the girls on the copier. Seconds later emerged an A4 reproduction of a fine pair of DDs.

    I'm still giggling about it now.

    Monday, December 12

    Beautiful soup
    One of my favourite things to cook is soup. It's wonderfully easy, fantastically warming, and usually quite good for you too.

    I used to have a handful of soups that I'd cook all the time: leek and potato, butternut squash, carrot and coriander...

    But since I've started to get my organic veg box, I've been making all kinds of yummy soup out of all kinds of veggies.

    There's often a random, slightly dubious veg left at the end of the week, when all the tasty things have been made into pastas and curries and casseroles and bakes.

    Take the evil sprout. No-one likes really likes sprouts, do they? And as it's Christmas, it is full-on sprout season. So last week, I stuck them in a pan with an onion, a head of broccoli, a handful of green beans and some stock. Whizzed it all up in the blender, a good few grinds of salt and pepper, and a naughty blob of melty blue cheese. Yumski.

    Same with parsnips. I'm not a huge fan of them, but I've currently got a pan of roasted parsnip and parmesan simmering away on the hob and it smells delicious. Pop over if you're hungry - there's plenty to go round.

    Vibe of the day
    Mood: Creative and happy
    Food: Soup, of course
    Tunes: Foo Fighters wig-out

    Thursday, December 8

    I am a domain owner
    As part of Project Get Me Out of This Bloody Office, I have bought two domain names.

    I am now the owner of emmashepherd.com for all things freelance writing-related. But best of all, I own nicecake.co.uk.

    Let the writing and cake-making empire commence.

    Er... once I have written some content and Mr Meep has designed the sites.
    Nice things and nasty things that have happened to me this week
    Nice
    1. I met a Buddhist man with a smiley face. I wanted to hug him and take him home.
    2. A ticket inspector at the train station said I had a nice smile. Perhaps he was a massive perve, but I was happy.
    3. It was my 2nd wedding anniversary and Mr Meep made me a fab card.
    4. I discovered the joys of TK Maxx (FCUK trainers for £16).
    5. My puppy learned to climb the stairs, so she now follows me absolutely everywhere. It's nice to be loved.

    Nasty
    1. I have a horrible cold.
    2. My train has been late every single day.
    3. I drank a Lemsip, then discovered it is about 90% aspartame
    4. I got a bag of sprouts in my organic veg box.
    5. My puppy learned to climb the stairs, so she now follows me absolutely everywhere. This is not good when you need a poo.

    Vibe of the day
    Mood: Sniffly
    Food: Soup
    Tunes: Muffled noises due to cold-related blockages
    Web: Filofax (thinking of investing to cut down on number of notebooks I carry - currently four)

    Tuesday, December 6

    I'm a thief
    I've stolen an idea from the blog of a friend-of-a-friend.

    From now on, the end of my posts will look like this...

    Vibe of the day
    Mood:
    Food:
    Tunes:

    Well, it's a postmodern world, innit? No-one really has original ideas anymore.

    Vibe of the day
    Mood: Twitchy
    Food: Posh porridge
    Tunes: 'Listen(ing) again' to Jonathan Ross

    Monday, December 5

    Time Management
    I have just been on 'Time Management' course. I didn't really need to go - I think I'm quite organised, especially as I write lists every single day about all aspects of my life.

    However, I was shocked to find that I spend 22% of my working day chatting and/or drinking tea. Yikes.

    It sounds like a lot of time spent not doing any work, but where would we be without a nice cup of tea and a chit chat?

    Friday, December 2

    Bruce Lee and his JCB
    This is my current favourite song, about a 5-year-old boy who gets bullied at school because he's dyslexic. His dad used to take him out of school for 'compassionate leave' and they'd spend the day in his yellow JCB. It makes me want to sing, it makes me want to cry. The website's fab too, and the video is just perfect. Ah, if only the world was full of mumpets like these.
    The Friday List
    Presents that The Blod has brought home.

    Every day when we go for our walk, Blod likes to find a little something at the start, carry it around in her mouth the whole way, then drop it on the doorstep before she goes back inside.

    She’s built up quite a collection:

  • A white woolly glove
  • A white rubber glove
  • A packet of pickled onion Monster Munch
  • A half-eaten apple
  • A dead firework
  • A manky old sock
  • An empty carton of strawberry Ribena
  • A packet of Marlboro Lights
  • A ladies handkerchief
  • Some bunting
  • Wednesday, November 30

    The Wednesday list
    (Because lists aren’t just for Fridays)

    Inspired by an absent friend, here’s a list of things I used to like but that I don’t like now (in no particular order).

    1. Telly
    Well, it’s all crap innit? I’ve ranted enough about that already on this blog – Mr Meep thinks it’s all getting a bit ‘preachy’. S’one asked me today if I’d been watching ‘I’m a Celebrity’. I said no, but they still proceeded to tell me all about it for about 20 zillion hours. I wanted to scream. Or fall asleep. Or a combination of both. A Scleep.

    2. Getting pissed
    About 10 years ago, I’d be hungover for approximately half of my waking hours. In my defence, I worked in a call centre so drinking to forget was obligatory. Don’t get me wrong, I still like a tipple. I’m a big fan Mr Hoe and his lovely Gaarden and there’s nothing better than a glass of red in the bath on a cold Sunday afternoon. I like being tipsy and a bit giggly, but I also like to be up before the sun with a spring in my step, not lying on the sofa feeling like there are an army of angry rhinos charging around my head.

    3. Chicklit
    Chicklit can be done really well – I loved Bridget Jones, Lisa Jewell is fab and I’m a bit partial to a Jane Green. But when someone made up the term ‘chicklit’ it spawned a thousand badly-written novels with exactly the same plot:

    Late 20something girl living in London, a bit scatty, single. Shares a flat with a friend with a sensible job (accountant, a bit of a perfectionist, a tad uptight). Has a GBF who’s very flamboyant. Girl falls for unsuitable man, GBF warns her to be careful. Her and GBF fall out. Unsuitable man cheats on her, she is heartbroken, GBF comforts her. Meanwhile, uptight flatmate realises she’s too serious, gets a new haircut and pulls a hippie bloke who persuades her to go to Nepal. Heroine meets new man. GBF buys cute puppy and meets dream boyf while walking her in park. Heroine gets married. GBF’s puppy is bridesmaid. The End.

    4. Travelling
    I’ve been about a bit when it comes to globe trotting, and I’ve loved every minute of it. But when your holidays are limited to a long weekend here and a week there, I find the whole abroad thing a tad stressful. Of course, I’d love to a road trip around California or go trekking in Vietnam, but packing it into a fortnight just doesn’t appeal. So being a budget-conscious Wombly type these days, I like my holidays in Britain, involving cream teas and country walks. Blimey, you can tell I’ve hit 30.

    5. Radio 1
    There was a time when I thought Chris Moyles was funny. Why? He’s clearly the anti-mumpet and an absolute knobber to boot. Thank goodness for DAB, which brought with it the delights of XFM (Adam and Joe!) and 6Music (er, lots of top tunes!).

    6. Magazines
    When I worked in magazines (I was “Britain’s Premier Motoring Journalist”, don’t ya know), I realised how none of them have any new ideas and that the same features get recycled year-on-year. Now I find it hard to read them at all. Tragic.

    7. Cooked breakfasts
    Maybe it’s because fry-ups go with hangovers and I used to have a lot of both, but nowadays I can’t face a big, hot, heavy breakfast in the morning. I want smoothies or toast or, if I’m feeling a tad continental, a croissant. Oo la la, I’m right posh, me.

    8. Lying in
    On Sundays, Mr Meep walks Baroness Blod and it’s my turn for the weekend lie-in. The longest I’ve managed to stay asleep over the past few weeks is 8.15am. I still like to laze about with green tea and newspapers, but just can not seem to sleep. Strange.

    9. Dominos pizza
    Mr Meep and I used to love this as a Sunday night treat. Now it makes me so thirsty that I have to get up in the night and down pints of water after I’ve eaten it. Odd.

    10. Homophobia
    Ha, only joking – that’s never been any good. I love a nice gayer.
    Clothing Crisis
    I need some new clothes. I’ve needed some new clothes for ages, but I feel guilty for buying them and find shopping generally quite stressful. I usually return from a clothes shopping session feeling fat (things don’t fit over my boobs), too tall (trousers are always too short), red-eyed (the air-con plays havoc with my contacts) and straggly-haired (I am straggly haired. I never actually brush the back of my hair because I forget and it’s boring. It’s just that usually, I don’t encounter any ‘view yourself from all angles’ mirror arrangements).

    This is what I need to buy:
  • Work clothes
    I hate having to spend money on work clothes, but as I spend about 10 hours of the day in my work get-up, I thought I should make an effort to look and feel nicer. Don’t worry, I’m not turning into a ‘professional’ – I’m going for funky clothes. Under no circumstances am I purchasing a flammable polyester suit from Next. There are people in my office who only wear beige, navy and black from Next. If I pick something up, I must think, ‘Would they wear this?’. If the answer is yes, I put it straight back.

  • Dog-walking/ambling about in the countryside coat
    I need something that’s a) warm b) waterproof c) not black or navy d) quite fitted and does not look like a sack. Does this coat actually exist? I don’t think it does. I tried to find one last year, got totally frustrated and came home with an impulse buy that was a) a puffa jacket b) black c) dull d) not waterproof and e) from M&S. I took it back the next day when my sanity had returned.

  • Hat/Scarf/Gloves combo
    Today I am wearing a pink glittery scarf, some blue and cream stripy mittens, and a pink and black hat, none of which match each other nor the red coat I am wearing. I’m thinking stripy, bright colours, possible a few sequins… I’ll be fabulous and warm - Hurrah!

  • Warm, funky jumpers
    I have two cardigans that I wear on the weekend. One is my pink stripy which has been washed a squillion times. The other is a lovely glittery zip-up thing, but I realised last night that I am wearing it in a photo Mr Meep keeps in his wallet. It’s of me when we first met - I was 19! Time for a new one, I think.

    So I’m toddling off to the shops on the weekend to create the all-new Miss Meep. I might even brush the back of my hair to match my new image.
  • Tuesday, November 29

    I do like winter after all
    It's cold but sunny, the kind of weather that makes you feel alive. I wish I was on a beach or on top of a mountain, Mr Meep by my side, dog at my feet, drinking coffee from my thermos, staring at the sky.

    We'd run along the sand, throwing sticks for Blod, then sit on a rock and watch the sea. Stripy scarves and woolly hats would keep us toasty. Our cheeks would have a healthy glow.

    On the way home, we'd stop at a country pub and sit by the fire with a pint of winter ale, browsing through the papers and chatting about nothing in particular.

    Friday, November 18

    The Friday List
    Reasons why I need to get out of this office soon

  • Yesterday, I heard the expressions 'deliverables' and 'win win situation' in the same sentence
  • Overheard this morning: "I don’t understand it – she wants to work part-time so she can spend more time with her baby. But what about her career?"
  • Three colleagues were discussing the opportunities they could get from joining the 'Middle Managers Network'
  • Over 75% of the female staff are wearing almost identical black flammable suits from Next in an attempt to look 'professional' when the VC came to visit
  • I've just seen another empty packet of haslet in the kitchen bin
  • I'm so busy, I can’t find time to blog
  • Tuesday, November 8

    The Great Television Experiment: Week 4
    As Dave Grohl said recently, I got another confession to make…

    After a great start in the telly-ban, in the last two weeks, when I’ve been at home alone, I have succumbed to the lure of the box in the corner. It’s usually happened when I sit down to eat – I don’t like eating alone and I find it hard to read and eat at the same time. In the summer, I’d sit and look at the garden, but staring at the wall doesn’t have the same appeal.

    Anyway, I confess to watching the following:

  • What Not To Wear (half an hour)
  • Jamie’s Italy (half an hour)
  • The second half of a documentary about children being adopted (half an hour)
  • Wife Swap (two episodes; one hour each)
  • And the one I’m most ashamed of… about 15 minutes of Strictly Come Dancing (shudder)

    So, that’s 225 minutes – or almost four hours – of wasted time. It’s not as if I watched anything educational (well, apart from the adoption programme, which just made me cry a lot).

    On the plus side, if the typical Briton spends over four hours a day watching telly (surely that can’t be true?), then I would say that my quest to reduce telly-watching has been a success. While the majority have spent 112 hours watching the box, I’ve used those spare 108 hours to do other things.

    108 hours? That really sounds like a long time. I could have started writing that children’s book I’ve always thought about…
  • Friday, October 21

    The Friday List
    Excuses for getting out of the office christmas party
    (AKA more bah-humbug, bitter rantings - what is wrong with me this week?)

      I'm cutting my arm off with a blunt Bic razor
      I'm putting my head in for dry cleaning
      There's no-one at home to look after the llama
      I'm washing my courgettes
      I've got some pheasants coming to stay
      It's my garden gnome's 30th birthday bash

    Thursday, October 20

    Bah, humbug
    For the past two years, as I've become more eco-friendly, anti-consumerist and generally Wombly, I have also become increasingly uncomfortable with Christmas shopping.

    The physical act of Christmas shopping is bad enough: the crowds of people pushing and shoving, the dry hot air being pumped out through the air con systems, the queues of people with overspilling baskets in Boots and M&S, the stressed-out parents screaming at their kids to stop nagging and running up and down the aisles. (Gosh, I'm becoming a miserable old trout. I told you my barrenness was making be bitter.)

    But the thing that really got to me last year was the wastefulness of it all. I trudged around the shops, getting hotter and crosser, loaded down with too much stuff to carry, spending more and more money on knick knacks to pad out people's bags of presents. I got home and unpacked it all, buried under a mountain of plastic wrapping and carrier bags, only to wrap it all back up again in Christmas paper that would just get ripped off and discarded a few days later. I just found it all a bit, well, depressing.

    Don't get me wrong, I love the sparkliness of Christmas - getting together with family and friends, everyone in a caring, sharing sort of mood. But why does it have to involve so much... crap.

    I came across the Adbusters site for Buy Nothing Christmas recently. Have a look, it's quite interesting.

    Since thinking of all this, I've started to try to cut down on buying so much stuff. Some friends got married recently. They had a wedding list (don't get me started on those), but they've been living together for years, earn lots of money and have a fully-equipped and beautiful house. I don't think they really needed those designer napkin rings or silver gravy boat, so I bought them something from Oxfam Unwrapped. She's really into gardening, so I 'bought' them an allotment for someone in Africa. I was a bit worried that they'd think I was just a horrible old meanie, but they seemed thrilled with their 'non-gift'.

    For a friend's birthday a few weeks ago, I baked a box of chocolate brownies. I bought my mother an Indian head massage for her birthday. I treated my dad to a night out at a comedy club. When we were very poor, I made Mr Meep a book of 'vouchers' for his birthday, which he could cash in throughout the year. It had things like 'Breakfast in bed', 'Get out of doing the dishes', 'Home-cooked three course meal of your choice', 'Back massage'. For our wedding anniversary, I promised him a home-made cake every month for a year.

    I think that Buy Nothing Christmas is the way forward in the Meep household for 2005 (although Mr Meep needs a tad more convincing). I'm not a complete Scrooge - people will get things, but they'll get things that they can actually use or enjoy. Not things that they'll end up putting in a cupboard or giving to the charity shop in a few months' time.

    So they get something they'll (hopefully) like, I don't have to join the hoardes of Christmas shoppers, the big high street stores get a little less rich and Mother Earth breathes a sigh of relief as a less pointless stuff and packaging gets produced. Everyone's a winner.

    Here are some of my ideas. I'll write them down while I'm feeling inspired or I'll forget and end up with Gillette gift packs from Boots all round.

      Theatre tickets
      Gig tickets
      Cinema vouchers
      Beauty treatments
      Hair cuts
      Christmas cakes (using my new-found sugarcraft skills)
      A painting or drawing
      A framed photograph
      Magazine subscription
      Foodie treats
      Cases of wine/nice beers
      Plant a tree
      Adopt an animal


    Bah. And indeed, humbug.

    Wednesday, October 19

    Mosquito Attack Update
    On a more positive note, after my self-pitying entry below, my face looks almost normal again. There's still a bit of a lump but I don't look like a) I have mumps and b) like Peter Pumpkinhead.

    Tuesday, October 18

    Seven Days Into the Great TV Experiment
    I have been TV-less for seven days. It hasn't been a struggle at all - until last night, when I was home alone.

    Got back from work at 5 and had a long evening stretching out before me. Had a cuppa, played with Blod, made some soup, tidied the kitchen, read the paper, ate some soup, did the washing up, read my book, made some holly berries for my Christmas cake... It was only 9pm. Wife Swap was about to start. I was lonely. The house was quiet. I was tempted.

    But I fought the lure of Evil Edna and put the radio on instead, then curled up on my special pink chair with a cuppa and my book. Lovely.

    Things I've done in the evenings when I would have been watching telly:
      Had a long chatty dinner with Mr Meep
      Went to my sugarcraft class
      Had a friend round for dinner
      Met another friend for a drink
      Played with the Blod lots
      Read the weekend newspapers
      Finished my book (The Closed Circle - very good, but read The Rotters Club first)
      Practised my cake decorating


    However, I noticed that Trinny and Susannah and Jamie Oliver have new programmes on this week, so it should be a testing time.

    Monday, October 17

    Mosquito Attack
    On Saturday, a mosquito bit me on the cheek. Any normal person would just get an annoying itchy lump for a few days. I have a bizarre allergic reaction which has caused my face to balloon so I look like Eric Stoltz in Mask.

    Friday, October 14

    The Friday List
    Things I hope will feature heavily in my weekend.

      Cake
      Real ale
      Walking
      Girlie films (no, not that kind, you perve)
      Weekend broadsheets
      Gardening
      Home-made pizzas
      Cups of tea
      Bubble baths
      Sleeping
      CDs by girls with guitars
      Mumpety people


    I'm easily pleased, me.

    Wednesday, October 12

    Seasonal Affective Disorder is Kicking In
    So, 12 days into October and my short-lived annual excitement about cosy winter nights indoors with fairy lights and red wine has already slumped in an exhausted heap to make way for the arrival of the winter grumpies. The dark mornings, the rain, the cold, the hideousness of Christmas shopping, the lack of nice fruit, the sprouts, central heating, office parties...

    Poor Mr Meep now has his annual feeling of despair at the thought of living with a miserable old trout for the next five months. So tonight, we are making a 'Things to look forward to about winter' list, which we will stick on the fridge as a daily motivator.

    I was thinking about it on the train this morning and came up with a few things.

      Long, lazy Sunday lunches with friends
      Walks in the park, wrapped up warm
      Curling up on the sofa with red wine and a good book
      Furry coats
      Sparkly gloves and scarves
      Hot chocolate
      Pints of real ale in pubs with real fires
      Mashed potato and roasted veg
      The twinkliness of Christmas
      Wandering around deserted beaches with my dog


    Ah, I feel a bit better already.

    Tuesday, October 11

    The TV ban experiment
    I've been looking at the White Dot Campaign website today. Interesting reading - OK, it's very extreme and only gives one side of the argument, but as I think along the same lines, I think it's fab. And it's my blog, so I'll talk about it. So there (insert smiley poking its tongue out).

    For the past year, I've been trying to gradually move the television out of the lounge. The big telly went earlier in the year, replaced by a teeny portable. Then it moved from being a focal point with all the chairs facing it, and crept into a corner out of sight. Ideally, I'd like it gone for good - banished to a dusty corner in the loft.

    I used to watch a lot of TV - Eastenders, Corrie, Pop Idol, Cold Feet, Friends, Big Brother, Hollyoaks, Millionaire, Stars in Their Eyes... If I went out, I'd video things so I could watch them later. I'd relish a 'duvet day' where I could lie on the sofa watching This Morning and other day-time shows. If I was away for a holiday, I'd have hours of goggle-boxing to catch up on when I got home.

    (In my defence, we lived in Gloucester and had no mates, so that box in the corner was... sob... my only friend...)

    Anyway, one day I had an epiphany. I realised that it was all rubbish. Why was I watching people cooking when I could be learning to cook myself? Why watch Rachel, Pheobe and Monica having a good old girlie giggle when I could be out doing the same thing? So I gradually cut down, finding that the time I spent not watching telly could be spent doing all kinds of lovely things, like reading and cooking and walking - things I thought I never had time to do.

    Nowadays, I probably watch an average of about four hours of TV a week. On the nights that I get in from work and don't switch the TV on, the evenings seem long and there's plenty of time to do things that I want to.

    Last night, I had my latest copy of The Ecologist to read. However, I had a date with Wife Swap. I timed my whole evening around sitting down at 9pm - everything from Blod's nap time to my dinner. When it got to 9pm, I really fancied getting into bed with my mag, but the TV was there, winking seductively at me. "Come on, you like Wife Swap. You're tired and it's great to just veg out in front of the box." So I watched it. It was rubbish - people being unpleasant to each other and judging each others lives. It didn't make me feel good, I didn't feel entertained, I wished I'd (in the words of Why Don't You?) switched off the television set and done something less boring instead.

    I recently read a feature in The Observer about a woman who stopped watching telly completely. Did she have any regrets? Did she feel she was missing out when friends were talking about the latest episode of Lost? Not a sausage. So I'm going to do the same. Call it a little detox for my brain.

    I don't meant to sound smug or patronising - and I don't think all telly is bad - whatever floats your boat. In my current 'Gah-I-hate-my-job' state of mind, I want to milk every second of my free time. I want to make time for the mates I haven't seen in weeks, finish the paintings I've been sketching for my new niece/nephew, read all those books that have been sitting on my shelf for months.

    I'll keep you posted on my progress.

    Things to do instead of telly-watching:
      Read a novel
      Have a cwtch/snog
      Phone your Granny
      Play with your pets
      Run around the park
      Have a nice long bath
      Play Scrabble
      Go for a walk
      Cook something yummy
      Go to the cinema
      Read the newspaper
      Listen to music
      Make a cake
      Put the radio on
      Paint a picture
      Go to the pub
      Flick through magazines
      Visit a friend
      Go to the theatre
      Join an evening class
      Have an early night with a cup of cocoa
      Blog

    Monday, October 10

    Things that I have in common with my puppy. Posted by Picasa


    Over the weekend, I realised that Blod and I are really very similar. Perhaps we were destined to be friends or perhaps I have influenced her in her early weeks. But then Mr Meep has spent more time with her than me, so really she should be a computer geek dog.

    These are my observations so far:

    • We both drink loads of water
    • We are fascinated by shoes
    • We love wine: I like a glass after work, she tries to drink it out of the bottles in the recycling
    • We like the Saturday Guardian: I read it, she chews it
    • We like flowers: I grow them, she eats them
    • We both like having a big old cwtch
    • We get excited when Mr Meep comes home
    • We get even more excited when it's dinner time

    Friday, October 7

    The Friday List
    Food packets that I spotted in our office kitchen bin today.

    • Tesco Value Sausage and Onion Pie
      I still haven't found out whose this was. I have my suspicions.
    • Sliced haslet
      I had to ask what this was. I wish I hadn't.
    • A broccoli Slim-A-Soup
      Broccoli content: 0.001%. Rest: salty water


    Honestly, it's like Saint Jamie never even existed.

    Thursday, October 6

    I've found a kindred spirit
    Thursday Things I Like
    A famous boffin has announced that if you spend 20 minutes a day writing about things that make you happy, then you will indeed be a super smiley person. Let's face it, I'll never to remember to do that every day but, in the style of the Friday list, each Thursday I'll spend time blogging about something I like.

    This in not is a rip off of the 'Why I love...' in The Guardian G2. No way. Nope. Absolutely not.

    Raindrops on roses did it for Julie Andrews, and I can see her point about the kittens' whiskers, but what I really, really like is ...

    Water
    After the student years of abusing my body with endless booze and caffeine, I worked in an office with a water cooler. It was one very dull job - probably one of my lowest points employment-wise, working in a call centre for a big evil global bank, listening to idiotic business owners becoming increasingly shouty as they ranted on about their credit card machines breaking (it had usually just run out of paper or come unplugged at the wall).

    So to relieve the boredom, I would make frequent trips to the water cooler for a gossip. The more bored I was, the more water I would drink. More water = more trips to the loo = more time away from the tyranny of the undereducated team leaders endlessly squawking "Calls in the queue, calls in the queue".

    So water was a great excuse for getting me away from the headset. But as I drank more water, strange things started to happen. I wasn't permanently tired anymore. I wasn't as irritable. I had loads of energy and started walking absolutely everywhere.

    The addiction began. First it was six glasses a day. It soon progressed to a big 2-litre bottle that had to be finished by home time. Then I needed a glass at the side of the bed, and another one when I got up in the morning.

    About eight years on, it's serious. I never go anywhere without a plastic bottle in my bag. If I can't get hold of some, I start to feel a bit panicky. When I don't have any - even if I'm without it for an hour - I feel exhausted. My mouth feels mingy. I get a strange sticky film of grossness on my teeth. My wee is brown. I just feel generally icky. Oh my god, I'm an aquaholic.

    Wednesday, October 5

    Presenting... Baroness Blodwen of Splottlands
    Here she is - my gorgeous new puppy! Here's a profile, so you can get to know her a bit.
    Name: Baroness Blodwen of Splottlands (Blod to her friends)
    Age: 9 weeks and five days
    Likes: Eating plants, cuddles, clothes pegs, pooing
    Dislikes: The baby gate that keeps her in the kitchen, eye drops
    Hobbies: Chasing Zebedee the cat, wagging her tail really fast, pooing
    Grrrr - I'm a savage beast! Posted by Picasa
    The Baroness Blod, after her bath. Posted by Picasa

    Monday, October 3

    Project SE
    After a week off of chilling and looking after my gorgeous new puppy (more on that soon), I can't cope with office life sucking my soul out any more. Project SE (Self-employment) has officially started.

    The plan is to have a few part-time jobs instead of one main job. In an ideal world, this would be a combination of:
    • Making cakes
    • Writing
    • Something to do with adult literacy
    • An easy job that is totally stress-free and where I can meet nice people (one day a week in a health food shop or arts centre)


    As we're used to living frugally after Mr Meep's student days, I've worked out that we only need to earn about £10k each to have a pretty nice life - that's all the bills sorted and a little bit of spending money too.

    Here's the short-term plan to put the long-term plan into practice.
    • Work on text for a website to promote myself as a freelance copywriter
    • Live mega-frugally and save some dosh to tide us over for a few months
    • Learn to decorate cakes (have already started a class)
    • Get back into freelance journalism to update my portfolio


    Hurrah, it doesn't have to be this way forever. Aiming to be out of here by December 2006. Yikes.

    Friday, September 16

    The Friday List
    10 facts about me
    1. I won a Tufty Club colouring competition when I was six. The prize was a Tufty handkerchief.
    2. I have a ted called Little Ted. He was born on the same day as me. I've been sick on him lots and once threw him under a bus. But he still loves me.
    3. I am almost blind. My prescription is minus 10 in both eyes.
    4. I always, always wear matching underwear.
    5. I make the best carrot cake you've ever tasted.
    6. I'm scared of numbers. They make me feel all confused and want to cry. So does thinking about the concept of infinity.
    7. I haven't watched a soap since 2000.
    8. My porn star name is Whiskey Hodges.
    9. I'm allergic to pineapple.
    10. All I've ever wanted out of life is lots of babies, some fluffy animals, a smiley husband and a nice house.

    Wednesday, September 7

    Anthony was so thrilled to have won the Mercury Music prizePosted by Picasa
    I am overcome by cuteness!  Posted by Picasa


    This is my new puppy, Blodwen. We are picking her up on 26th September, when she will be eight weeks old. She's a tri-colour cocker spaniel.

    We went to visit her last night. She's a bit bigger than this pic now, but the only bit that's really grown are her floppy ears.

    My dad is building her a pink kennel with flowers on the side.

    Eeeeek!

    Friday, September 2

    Mystic Meg
    Last night, I went to see a clairvoyant-type lady. She was very good and said all kinds of things that she couldn't possibly of known about me. I'm blogging her predictions, so I can check them in a year and see if she was right.

    • Mr Meep
      She said that Mr Meep is very laid-back (true) and that sometimes that this can get on my nerves a little (no comment), as he seems to be letting work opportunities pass by. She said that he'll be re-presented with these opportunities over the next six months and it'll all work out OK. Hurrah - here's to Mr Meep's freelance design career.

    • My work
      She said there's a lot of restructuring going on in my workplace (true) and that I'm going to have a new role (also true) but not out of choice (also true). I'll feel a bit put upon for a while, but then things will go well for me. I'll also be working at my current place for quite a while. Damn, does that mean I'm not going to become a cake-maker/TV chef/big-shoed clown?

    • Babies
      She had strong feelings that I have a daughter. I told her I didn't, and she said she sees me with a baby girl within a year. Then I'll have a little boy very soon afterwards. This is nice, although I didn't tell her that I am actually probably a barren old hag. Maybe I will steal some children on a random trip to Tesco. She also said they'll be beautiful, so they probably will be someone else's, as mine would be ginger with really thick specs.

      Oh, and she said that Mr Meep would have the snip after our two babies are born - ouch!

    • Illness
      This was not a nice bit. She said a male in my family will have a health scare. But it will only be a scare and he'll be OK. Didn't like that bit much. My cat was sick this morning. He was making some bizarre noises too, but he's OK now. Maybe that was it.

    • Socialising
      I will have a very sociable winter, with lots of invitations to interesting events. Oooooo. Hope no-one tries to involve me in a wife-swapping ring.

    • Spirits
      Now, this was wierd. She called the spirits into the room and along came my grandad. Thought that was a bit vague as she could guess that someone my age had a deceased grandparent. However, she described him spookily accurately - and I felt really strange. All hot and shaky and was almost in tears. Then she started making a funny noise in her throat - a bit like my cat when he's got a fur ball - and she said she was picking up that grampa had a bad chest, which he did. Double spooky!

      His message to me was that he misses us all and that I should enjoy every single day that I'm here. Does that mean he knows I'm going to die soon?

      Then a really short couple came along - my dad's parents. I was surprised about that as I was little when they died and I didn't really know them.


    So there you go. Let us see what the future holds...

    Wednesday, August 31

    Presents I got for my 30th Birthday

    Well, being 30 really isn’t that bad, especially as I have a house full of gorgeous things. I feel very lucky indeed.

    Here’s what I got (in no particular order):
    • Pink sparkly handbag
    • Cath Kidston flowery shopping bag
    • Bottle of champagne
    • Voucher for George at Asda
    • Amber bracelet
    • Nice underwear
    • A tapestry of my cat
    • Case of chardonnay
    • Sparkly broach
    • Weekend in London, including tickets to see Guys and Dolls with the lovely Ewan McGregor
    • 5 novels
    • Gorgeous antique marcasite butterfly necklace
    • Groovy mug, sugar bowl and milk jug, decorated with women chatting and eating cake
    • Theatre vouchers
    • A funky notebook with spotty pink dogs on
    • A hand-knitted bee
    • Aveda soap and body lotion
    • Nut Body Butter from Body Shop
    • ’50 Walks in Wales’ book, plus an ordnance survey map
    • Cool cake decorating book
    • Baking book full of yummy cakes
    • Picnic hamper full of goodies
    • Tsunami charity cookery book
    • Crystal vase
    • Automatic corkscrew
    • Lush face mask and foot mask


    What a spoilt 30-year-old.

    Friday, August 26

    The Friday List
    Why I’m depressed about being 30 in four days time
    • I wanted to be 7lbs lighter so I could be ‘thin and 30’. I’m not.
    • I’ve got a hair growing out of my chin and fear this will soon happen.
    • Exercising alone no longer keeps the weight off.
    • Carrying Hello Kitty and Miffy handbags probably has to stop.
    • Can’t go on bonkers nights out, as have to spend the whole of the next day recovering.
    • You’re supposed to have the big house, the dream job and the babies by now. I am a long way from getting any of them.


    Boo.

    Hoo.

    Wednesday, August 24

    A great start to the day

    This morning I sat down with my perfect yummy breakfast of blueberry and banana smoothie, with some lovely seeded toast and marmite. The cat was sitting next to me, being all purry and furry. The flowers in my garden were looking colourful against the dreary sky. I turned on the radio – BBC 6 Music were playing Freakscene by Dinosaur Junior, followed by the fab new White Stripes song. I got up and did a funny dance around the kitchen.

    “I’ve been thinking about the doorbell, when you gonna ring it, when you gonna ring it…”
    De-frumping the nation

    There are two girls where I work. I don’t know either of them, but I see them on the train and wandering about the place.

    One of them, Bex and I have christened ‘Frumpy’. She is about 30-ish. Her hair epitomises ‘mousy’, is rarely washed and hangs in a limp, one-length bob. Her clothes are baggy, trousers often half-mast, and in some lovely shades of black (or, for her summer collection, brown). She wears gold glasses and her skin has the hue of the first undercooked pancake on Shrove Tuesday.

    Her figure is ever expanding – I’d say she’s gained about four stone since she first showed up on my ‘Frumpdar’. I heard her talking to a colleague about going to visit a chocolate fountain on the weekend, and I have seen her in the canteen chowing down on a pastie (I kid you not).

    (Oh, and I feel justified in being a bit horrid about her because she was once very rude and patronising to me.)

    Anyway, that’s Frumpy. Hours of entertainment can be had planning Trinny and Tranny/Dr G-style makeovers. But then a few months ago, along came Frumpy 2.

    The appearance of Frumpy 2, meant that Frumpy has been renamed the Original Fat Frumpy (OFF).

    Frumpy 2 is smaller and thinner than OFF. She has short, browny-gingery hair in an Anne Robinson-type ‘do’. She also favours the half-mast, but sets them off with a nice pair of walking sandals.

    She wears very thick, wire-framed glasses that make her eyes go all googly. Her colour scheme is mainly beige.

    Neither Frumpy has befriended the Touche Eclat magic stick (or even the Boots cheap copy of it for poor people like me).

    I dream of getting my hands on the Frumpies and transforming their lives through sparkle-power. Here’s the de-frump plan:

    • Eat for sparkliness. They need to ditch the pasties and eat food that gives them a bit of life and some colour in their cheeks. I’m thinking fruity smoothies, big gorgeous salads full of avocado loveliness, food that’ll banish their frumpy shuffling about and put a spring in their steps. Cakes, of course, are encouraged – especially ones with pink icing.

    • Exercise. See above – you need energy to be sparkly. Dr Meep prescribes a course of silly girlie exercise, like Bellydancing or Dance Aerobics. These girls need to release their inner giggler. Dancing round the kitchen to Spice Girls CDs while sipping pink wine will also be encouraged.

    • Beauty. Dr Meep would write a prescription for the following: magic stick; berry-coloured lip gloss; mascara; blusher. Slopping on liberal amounts of Body Butter to smell fruity and be moisturised all over is a key element of the defrump plan. Glitter is essential for the evening look. Hair will be blonded and tousled in a ‘post-shag’ fashion.

    • Fashion. Oooo, the best bit – out with blacks, browns and beige and in with rich reds, warm oranges, gorgeous blues and lots of pink, pink, pink. Handbags will be sequinned; trousers will be the right length; tops will be fitted to show off their womanly bits; cardigans will be beaded; shoes will be cute. Oooo, get me to Monsoon now!

    • Smiliness :-). OK ladies, it’s all very well being clever boffins, but skulking about being professionally frumpy is not going to get you friends or fellas. Stop and stroke a passing kitten! Put your science text books down and sing into your hairbrush to Grease! Giggle at the celeb gossip on Handbag.com! Skip through the park with a flower in your hair (this is advanced stuff – not for sparkle beginners)!


    If only I could meet them – their lives would be transformed. Or maybe they would get me arrested for stalking them and being a general cowbag.

    Monday, August 22

    Why don't you need a licence to have children?
    Why do these people insist on breeding so furiously? It's "Wales' Cutest Kids" competition in the Wales on Sunday newspaper again. Here are a selection of names given to these little "bundles of joy".

    Boys
    Jazille
    Tye
    Brodey
    Shay
    Kaylum
    Delfino
    Hendrix

    Girls
    Latoya-Paige
    Charli-Jai
    Halli-Marie
    Marchella
    Channelle
    Ashlee Jayd
    Tylishia Saffron Lorran
    Tesni

    As a wise man once said, you can't bottle class.

    Friday, August 19

    The Friday List
    Books I have read this year
    • Rebecca - Daphne Du Marier (Good start - modern classic)
    • Shopaholic and Sister - Sophie Kinsella (Er...)
    • Can you tell what it is yet? - Rolf Harris (Mumpet!)
    • Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquival (Mexican book, don't you know)
    • The Subtle Knife - Philip Pullman (Too clever for kids)
    • Amber Spyglass - Philip Pullman (Ditto)
    • Small Island - Andrea Levy (Funny and sad - lots of tears)
    • The Family Way - Tony Parsons (Made me broody)
    • My Life in Orange - Tim Guest (Bonkers - I've gone right off joining a cult)
    • The Timewaster Letters - Robin Cooper (Hilarious)
    • The Other Side of the Story - Marian Keyes (Look, I was on holiday, OK?)
    • The Promise of Happiness - Justin Cartwright (Worth the fuss)
    • The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford (Aren't posh people funny?)
    • Minus Nine to One - Jools Oliver (A literary gem)
    • Eats, Shoots and Leaves - Lynne Truss (Clever)
    • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - JK Rowling (Haven't finished it yet but way too many hormones flying about. Harry's just had a dream about doing things to Ginny - eeeeuuuuuw!)

    Thursday, August 18

    OMG, OMG, OMG
    The most hideous thing is happening. There is a big huge snake on the loose in our workplace.

    I can't put my feet on the floor and I'm scared to open drawers and boxes. I phoned Mr Meep to come and collect me but he just laughed - hurumph.

    Anyway, I have got my 'Emergency Snake Attack' plan ready.
    • Wear bicycle clips on bottoms of trousers to avoid 'snake up the leg' incident
    • Shake handbag before leaving work, in case it's slipped inside the latest Harry Potter
    • Check all door frames - it may be lurking, ready to pounce
    • Always go to the toilet in pairs - imagine the whole 'snake attack, knickers round ankles' scenario
    • Carry scissors with me at all times, to cut it in half if it attacks


    Rumours I have heard about the snake so far, include:
    • "It's 2 foot long"
    • "It's only small"
    • "It's a grass snake"
    • "It's an adder"
    • "It's in the corridor"
    • "It lives in the pipes"


    Well, I have just seen a photograph of the beast and it is huge, has a big snakey head, and is probably a boa constrictor.

    Or maybe I am being slightly hysterical.

    Monday, August 15

    Thursday, August 11

    30 crisis diet not going so well...
    Things I have consumed in the last two days include:
    • Scoop of Ben and Jerry's (was looking at me seductively when I opened the freezer)
    • Giant cookie (office birthday - was v disturbed to see cookies that were almost the size of my head. Had to eat some to avoid some kind of mutant cookie global takeover)
    • Glass of wine, piece of passion cake (the last two in bed, at 6.30pm, while reading Harry Potter - oo, the shame)


    Ho-hum.

    Wednesday, August 10

    The Original Eco-Warriors
    I love The Wombles. All that wombling about, making good use of the things that they find.

    We could all learn something from Madame Cholet, Great Uncle Bulgaria and the gang. They were recycling furiously as far back as the early 1970s, a time when putting your chewing gum in the bin was seen as progressive. They were the original eco-warriors, finding uses for things that the dirty humans left behind.

    Mr Meep went to Wimbledon Common to try and spot Wombles when he was a child, but he didn't see any.

    But now he has his very own Womble living in his house, making curries out of old vegetables and keeping the same sparkly cardigan for 10 years.

    Do something Wombly today. Give your newspaper to someone else on the train when you've finished with it. Use an old sink to plant your Busy Lizzies in. Or just sing the Womble theme tune as you womble your way home tonight.

    Tuesday, August 9

    Day one of the ‘Gah, I’m turning 30’ diet went well.

    2 toast and marmite; orange juice (1 portion fruit and veg); apple (2); nectarine (3); corn cob (4); Quorn burger in a brown roll; salad (5); spinach bruschetta (6); pasta with tomato sauce (7); 1 ‘Celebrations’ choc (teeny tiny); lots of water; 1 green tea; 1 black coffee.

    Exercise was 50 minutes walking.

    Monday, August 8

    A dieting emergency
    With only 22 days until I hit the big 3-0, drastic action is needed.

    I've had the in-laws to stay for a week, so have been scoffing and boozing for Wales. Here's a sample menu... choc cake with Ben and Jerry's, red wine, pink wine, pizza, passion cake, Kettle Chips... Michelle McManus (pre-Dr G) would be proud.

    Here are the 22-day diet rules:
    1. No booze (am skint, so this will be quite easy). Oh, can I change it to 'limit booze' as the thought of a nice sunny weekend with no wine-drinking in the garden is very sad.
    2. Exercise daily (definitely do-able, even if it's just lots of walking).
    3. No cake (a tad more difficult, but will pretend there is a national cake shortage or something).
    5. As much fruit and veg as possible. Let's go mad and say 10 portions a day. Maybe that will mean I'll be so stuffed that I won't be able to fit any other food in.
    6. Avoid the evil cheese.

    Tonight, I am going out for dinner to my favourite Italian, which would normally mean a festival of cheese and wine. However, I am going to order the healthiest thing on the menu. Am thinking stuffed tomato/spinach bruschetta for starters, followed by tomato-based pasta.

    How saintly. I feel better already.

    Wednesday, August 3

    The best line from a news story ever
    When she announced to her former colleagues at a housing advice centre that she was leaving to pursue her studies in air guitar, "the whole room fell silent".

    Tuesday, August 2

    Test your real age
    I'm 27.8. But of course, I look a lot younger.

    Mr Meep is 31.7, so he is very lucky to be married to a sprightly young thing.

    Friday, July 29

    The Friday List
    Famous people I have seen this year.


    Sadly, not a sniff of Charlotte Church, although everyone else in Cardiff seems to see her on a weekly basis. Clearly I am not hanging out in enough blinging R&B clubs.

    Wednesday, July 27

    The Belated Friday List (on Wednesday)
    Presents I would like for my 30th birthday:

    There you go - I'm very easily pleased.

    Tuesday, July 26

    Funny-looking food
    I've always secretly dreamt that one day I'll open a bag of carrots and one of them will be in the shape of a camel.

    Here are lots of people who've been lucky enough to find food with faces.

    I think my favourite is the distressed-looking lettuce. It makes me want to cry.

    Wednesday, July 20

    Freedom
    Why, oh why, do I spend my days being underpaid and overworked (well, sometimes), writing for people who wouldn't know good writing if the words wrapped themselves around their necks until they turned blue? Why do I put up with arrogant people, rude people and the downright bonkers, when I could be like the Text Wizard?

    I've got the experience, I've got a laptop, I've got Mr Meep to design me a whizzy website. Blimey - what am I waiting for?

    Emma Shepherd, AKA The Word Fairy - self employment may not be so far away. Anyone want anything written?

    Friday, July 15

    The Friday List
    Every Friday from now on, I'm going to do a list about something. I like a nice list, you know.

    This week: CDs I have been listening to recently
    • The Go Team - music to bounce on bouncy castles to
    • Coldplay's first album - yes, I know they've gone a bit U2 of late, but that album's beautiful
    • The Magic Numbers - great for summer, listen to it while drinking pink wine
    • Belle and Sebastian - because I like to change the words to "I've Wombled around, I've Wombled all night without yoooooouuuuu"
    • Antony and the Johnsons - surely a black woman? But no, a very camp white man. Haunting


    That makes me sound vaguely cool, but it's all down to Mr Meep really. Hurrah for nerdy musical husbands.

    Tuesday, July 12

    Loveliness
    With all the bombings and nastiness going on last week, I was trying to think of the loveliest thing that could happen to someone...

    You come in from a long day at work, feeling a bit tired, in need of a cwtch and a cup of tea. You open your front door to be greeted by a donkey with an '80s haircut. You sit on his back and he carries you into the lounge, dropping you off in your favourite chair and keeping you company while he has a bit of a bray and munches his tea-time carrot.

    Two angora bunnies hop over to you and invite you to rest one foot on each of their backs, so you can bury your toes into their fluffiness. Some guinea pigs scurry up and sit on your lap, making a lovely bubbly squeaky noise. A gang of kittens start climbing up the curtains to make you laugh.

    You were just thinking about a nice cuppa, when in waddles a grumpy old tortoise, with a lovely cup of green tea balanced on his shell. It's taken him a while to get from the kitchen, so it's cooled down to just the perfect temperature to drink.

    After all this furriness, you're feeling a bit tired. An energetic ostrich bounds over to your chair and rushes you upstairs to your bed, where 100 fat chinchillas will be waiting to snuzzle up all around you while you snooze.

    Wednesday, July 6

    The best website ever
    Bunnies with things on their heads.

    I went to see Batman Begins last night. It was fab, but it didn't have any bunnies with things on their heads, which is a shame.

    Tuesday, July 5

    Kittens
    We are adopting a kitten - not yet, as we're away for a quite a few weekends over the few weeks, but probably in early September.

    Here are the names that I want to call her (it has to be a girl to avoid feline rivalry from Zebedee):
    Muffin
    Marmite
    Mrs Meowington
    Little Miss Mao
    Baroness Whiskers

    Ooo, it's so exciting. I want two bunnies next, then a basset hound or a spaniel. And when we move - a donkey!

    Monday, July 4

    Things that have happened to me in the last fortnight
    • I have been on holiday to Ireland in a lovely campervan. We stayed on remote beaches, ate lots, went for walks, did some sketching, listened to music - it was bliss.

    • I made Dave a birthday cake with a dalek on it - quite an achievement!

    • After a lifetime of being fairly healthy, I have been diagnosed with the hideous Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, so I can look forward to becoming increasingly hairy, overweight, spotty and infertile. Great.


    And so, with a holiday, a 'condition' and a 30th birthday looming, there's been a lot of thinking going on and a lot of lists being made. Watch this space.

    Thursday, June 16

    Perves on Public Transport
    Last night I was perved on on the bus home. A drunk man came and sat behind me and started whispering things in my ear. Euw! I don't know what he was saying, but it involved the word 'Tremorfa', which is a really rough council estate in Cardiff. He really knew how to get a girl going!

    This is my third 'perve on public transport' encounter. There was the old man on the Train to Treforest last summer and - worst of all - there was the masturbating brummie on the Chicago to New York sleeper train.

    Wednesday, June 15

    Dangerous addiction
    Don't get started with this kids, It's already taking over my evenings and stopping me reading books and talking to my husband.

    Look what can happen to you once you get hooked. There are even Sudoku support groups!

    Tuesday, June 14

    Oooo, hello! Posted by Hello
    Never Google your ailments
    I have a white spot on my toenail. I Googled it, now I'm convinced this is going to happen.

    Wednesday, June 8

    Funny lorries
    On the way to work this morning, I saw a lorry from a company called Noblet and a van from Munters. Tee hee.

    Monday, June 6

    My cakes! For Laura and Steve's wedding. Hope you have a very cakey life together! Posted by Hello
    New word
    I've invented a new word: Mumpet.

    It was invented when I had one English muffin and one crumpet left in the breadbin, so Dave and I split shared them and had 'mumpets' for breakfast.

    However, it has now come into daily use, as a word that just means something that is a little bit meepy.

    Mumpet n. 1. Someone who is lovely and a bit of a poppet: "The man who delivers the organic veg is such a mumpet." 2. A name you can call your cat/husband/anyone else that you love "Hello mumpet!" 3. Something that is generally fab "Mmm, this carrot cake is just so mumpet."

    You can also use it to describe things that aren't a lot of fun. "Sitting in this traffic jam is so not mumpet."

    Go on, use mumpet in a sentence today.

    Thursday, June 2

    Oh. My. God. I'm leaving Wales right now.

    I'm crap at taking photos. I always remember to take the camera, but forget to actually use it. However, while on honeymoon in Morrocco, this rather interesting arrangement of cacti inspired me to get snap-happy. Posted by Hello

    Wednesday, June 1

    Pinch, punch...

    It's the first of the month. I like the first day of the month, it's an opportunity to start afresh, a bit like like having 12 New Year's Days.

    But then again, I feel like that every Monday, when I'm full of good intentions and new beginnings. I'll be sitting on the train making lists about how I'm going to spend the week eating healthily, doing loads of exercise, working really hard, spending quality time with the cat, reading lots of newspapers and clever books, saving the planet and just generally being an efficient, healthy, intelligent, happy, friendly, eco warrior.

    By Thursday, I'm usually eating cakes, reading Heat magazine, surfing the net for half the day at work and getting picked up from the train station in the car.

    But enough of this endless list making and under-achieving! June is the month where I am going to:

    *Walk absolutely everywhere
    *Make healthy choices with food
    *Not go to an evil supermarket
    *Play 'mouse-on-a-string' with Zebedee for five minutes every day

    As for work... well, a bit of internet browsing keeps one sane, I find. And I will be so well-versed in world affairs, ticking the 'improve brain' box too.

    Tuesday, May 31

    Black Sunday

    Something terrible happened to me on the weekend.

    Probably one of the worst things that I could ever encounter.

    I was driving through a country lane. The sun was shining, there were good tunes on the radio and then it happened.

    I ran over a bunny.

    Just like that – it was dead. One minute it was happily hopping around in a field, the next a big evil polluting car came along and crushed it to death.

    I shook. I cried. I had to pull over. I said “I killed a bunny” lots.

    It was awful.

    Friday, May 27

    Summer
    Things I like about summer:
    The sun
    The flowers
    The cherries
    The happiness
    The outdoors
    The salads
    The barbeques
    The sandals
    The floaty skirts
    The picnics
    The freckles

    Things I don't like about summer:
    The hay fever
    The half-naked chavs
    The lack of mashed potato and fluffy coats

    Wednesday, May 25

    Things I've always wanted to dress up as

    1. Bumble bee
    2. Fat pumpkin
    3. Giant sunflower

    The only thing I have actually dressed up as in my adult life is "The devil's child". Couldn't decide whether to go to a Halloween party as a devil or a baby, so painted myself red, made a nappy out of a bed sheet, got a pair of horns and a baby bonnet and went as a combination of both.

    Wednesday, April 27

    Sunshine
    When the sun is shining, like today, I want to put on a floaty dress and walk barefoot through a field of sunflowers.

    Tuesday, April 26

    Ethical Living
    I loved Leo Hickman's Ethical Living experiment in The Guardian last year.

    He invited people to send in their tips and comments, and I loved this letter from a lady called Loppy - what a lovely name. What a top bird.

    "I live in a council house in Swansea. My grownup kids have left home now. I was retired from social services in Salisbury, and before that used to work with adults with learning difficulties and for Quaker Peace & Service in Dorset in the 80s. That's the first thing: try to do an ethical job. For students and graduates, People & Planet have an ethical jobs service.

    "Most people like me tend to hoard stuff because they hate to chuck things. This means you have lots of weird bits and pieces to play with. My boyfriend and I constructed a wonderful 'bullshit detector' out of bits of old vacuum cleaner, phone, alarm clocks and torch pieces to point at Fairford Airbase and emit noise of bullshit detected. You can have fun.

    "Nearly everything can be repaired or recycled if you try. Otherwise it can be given to charity to sell, use or recycle. Mend your clothes, and have things like videos repaired. Buy second hand or recycled. When my kids were little I made some of their clothes out of old things of mine, as well as a lovely patchwork blanket from old dresses. You can buy clothes, china, cooking equipment, books, furniture and suchlike from charity shops and car boot sales. I've had nice stuff out of skips. Charity shops and charity/craft sales are good for Christmas presents and cards. Buy Fairtrade and organic. The Co-op is fairly ethical, as are local markets.

    "Look after the birds. I seem to have increased my sparrow population (they are endangered) and also had bluetits nesting in a nest box this year. Feed them and give them water: they are such entertainment. Don't cut hedges till nesting has finished. Keep lots of untidy garden bits for wildlife. Let things go to seed for birds and animals to eat.

    "Murder slugs with a torch at night: putting out pellets kills hedgehogs & birds who eat them. I have just rung Unit(e) to change to greener electricity. If I was like my boyfriend I would live in a dome or tipi & have no electricity, but I like houses. If I was rich and not on incapacity benefit I would have a house converted to alternative energy rather than a council house ...

    "I belong to The Phone Coop, which is a cooperative, and they donate money to the people who advertised them. I filled in a form in either Amnesty, Peace News, Green World or Ethical Consumer, one of them is getting the dosh. Sadly, being green doesn't improve a menopausal memory ...

    "I belong to Henry Doubleday Society and their seed library. You pay to be a member and receive a few rare seeds each year, then grow and save the seeds to sow the next. I swap the excess with others. Even if you only have a windowsill you can grow tomatoes with heavenly flavours: brilliant ones include Tomato Broad Ripple Yellow Currant, tiny yellow tomatoes that kids love. I grow my own garlic, sweetcorn, chillis ... You can feed stuff with foul mixtures you make for free yourself. If you put comfrey and nettles in a bucket with water and cover it, it makes a good tomato feed (although it stinks!). You can grow lovely pumpkins in your compost bins when they are full of compost.

    "Use rechargeable batteries. I have a solar recharger which I bung in the window. The wind-up solar radios are good. My boyfriend has one which is an alarm clock and torch as well - no electricity at all!

    "Use the library. Read and learn. I'm just finishing my Open University degree: not bad for a woman who was asked to leave her crap secondary school.

    "Use shopping bags and refuse carriers. If the buggers still come in your house, line bins with them or recycle them back to shops or to charity shops. You can buy ethical washing powder, toothpaste, loo cleaner- look in ethical consumer magazines. You don't need makeup.

    "In the past I have made jam, marmalade, pickles and orange and lemon squash. I didn't want my kids full of E numbers.

    "Use envelope labels to reuse envelopes. Make cards. When I was very poor I used to make my own Christmas crackers ... bought the cracker bit, used looroll inners, crepe paper and bought little things to go in.

    "Get involved in things like CND, Amnesty, the Green Party, etc. Write to your MP, use what's left of our democracy. Protest. Join the Amnesty Greeting Cards Campaign and write to prisoners of conscience.

    "Cook, and teach your kids to. If you are poor you can use old wartime recipes: they are cheap, as are vegetarian Indian recipes. Try Madhur Jaffrey's Eastern Vegetarian Cookery - gorgeous recipes made with really cheap ingredients.

    "Use water butts. I often siphon my bath water on the garden. I wanted a water meter, but the council said I would have to pay £99 to have one put in and then pay to have it taken out if I moved. I'm thinking about it.

    "Don't buy things made by slaves, such as trainers by firms who pay nothing to the women who work locked into factories with no breaks. Investigate the origins of everything.

    "Try your best - it's often a case juggling your situations and what you can afford, although even on very low income we are never as poor as people in the developing world.

    "I try not to use heating until October and not use the phone until after six. Being economical means I have more money for ethical stuff.

    "Be kind and local. When I moved to a house in Dorset, an elderly lady left a bunch of flowers on the doorstep with 'welcome from number...'. When I was in Salisbury and had a small operation, a neighbour sent dinner over. Look out for old people and kids. Water plants and feed cats for neighbours on holiday. Welcome asylum seekers. Stand up for them. Learn first aid. Be useful.

    "Do you remember the Water Babies? Mrs Do as you would be done by? That's ethical living and worth trying, instead of all this eye for an eye crap that Bush and Sharon indulge in.

    I bet you already know how to use low-energy light bulbs ...

    Loppy Garrard"

    Monday, April 11

    I've got it!
    I've found the thing that I'm going to become brilliant at - I'm going to grow giant vegetables.

    Thursday, April 7

    It been a long time...
    Gosh, I'm rubbish.

    Actually, I was thinking the other day how I am rubbish, because I'm not really good at anything. I'm OK at lots of things - like cooking and chatting and painting and patting bunnies - but I'm not really good at any one thing.

    Which is quite sad. I am very average. I want to be a genius.

    Must add that to my 'to-do in life' list: Become god-like genius at one thing.

    What could it be though? Music's out (tone deaf), so's sport (co-ordinationally challenged), science (too boring), academia (head too normally-shaped), philanthropy (too scared of snakes to go to anywhere with poor people - unless you count Merthyr).

    Will have a think of a genius-outlet over the next few days.

    Thursday, February 24

    Room 101
    Room 101 was the room in George Orwell's 1984 which contained "the worst thing in the world". I didn't know that until today, which just goes to show that a bored moment at work can turn into an educational opportunity thanks to the power of t'internet.

    Whenever I've seen Room 101 programme on the telly, I always try and think of the things that I'd like to put in Room 101. Here's what they are today.

    I say today, because there are variables - I might put my cat in there on a day when he is trying to bat me with his paw, but I wouldn't put him in there on a day when he is being a furry purry thing, like a cat should be.

    On another day, I might put shop-bought cakes in there, because they are full of E-numbers and nastiness. But then something like a Cadbury Mini Roll might turn up in the office and surprise me.

    Emma's Room101
    • Spitting

    • Once, I dropped some money on the floor in town, I bent down to pick it up and my little finger went in a big load of green gobby goo. This has traumatised me for life, and I still feel dirty whenever I think about it - in fact, my finger is tingling with repulsion as I type.

      You would not believe how much of this hell-gunk I see on the pavements while I'm walking to work. It is revolting. Men (and ladies if you can call yourselves that, but I strongly suspect it is 99% blokes), either get yourself a packet of Handy Andies to spit it in or swallow it. And under no circumstances should you make that grotesque throat clearing noise trying to bring it up. BLEURGH!

      Footballers are the worst culprits. Men outside the Imperial Cafe in Splott are second. You know who you are - now stop it!

    • Snakes

    • Well, what do they actually do? Apart from scare me when I go the cinema to see something seemingly innocent like Lemony Snickett's Series of Unfortunate Events, so much so that I actually squeal at one point and have to hide underneath my coat for at least five minutes. If the story of St Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland is true, it almost makes me want to believe in God. Or Cod.

    • Beetroot

    • What is the point of a vegetable that exists only to a) make you gag and b) dye everything else on the plate violet. I've tried to like it, I really have. And not just the pickled stuff your nan serves with boiled ham for Sunday tea. I had some organic beetroot roasted in with some other winter veg; I had it in the form of soup; I even had it with all kind of fancy things in a vegetarian restaurant (what they were escapes me now).

      But however you try and jazz it up, there's no escaping the fact that it's just like you are eating purple dirt.


    Ooo, I enjoyed that rant, but it's time to catch the train now - bye!

    You can add your own pet hates here.

    Wednesday, February 23

    I am having an obesity crisis
    OMG, I have put on sooooo much weight. It really is quite frightening. It's a cruel world we live in, when one has a intense love of cakes but an extreme fear of getting fat.

    These are the kind of terrible habits I have slipped into during these cold winter months:
    • Chinese takeaways - about five during January alone! With chips!
    • Cakes, cakes, cakes and cakes. And not even just on weekends.
    • Booze. Hadn't been really drunk for ages, but have now turned into some kind of alcoholic. Pints in the pub, red wine on school nights... Even had a whole bottle of wine at home while watching TV - very unlike me.
    • No exercise. Too cold to go swimming or walking or get undressed in cold changing rooms.


    Drastic action is needed before I reach Rik Walleresque proportions.

    Monday, February 14

    The best post ever
    I was just about to write something that was intelligent, entertaining and incredibly witty. But I'm really hungry so I am going to have a cup of tea and some digestives instead.

    Sunday, February 13


    Here are some cakes I made today! They are 'practice' ones for Laura's wedding cake, which will be made up of lots and lots of fairy cakes. What do you think? Posted by Hello

    Friday, February 11

    Nice lady
    Last night I went to see this nice lady doing a concert at the Barfly. She was fab - an amazing voice, fantastic songs, and she did a lot of talking to the crowd, which is always nice. Unlike Badly Drawn Boy, who I love, but is always a right old grumpy trousers whenever I've seen him live.

    Friday, February 4

    Too busy to blog
    Life is tough when you're so busy that you can't blog. Here's some news.

    I've started a very embarrassing new hobby. Yes, I know it's naff, but going to the gym is just sooo dull, and you don't get to listen to Cotton Eye Joe either.

    After reading his autobiography, I want to marry this man. The blurb on the cover says he has 'immense emotional warmth', and that is so true. He hugs people, he cries for injured bunnies, he cries when he's happy, he cries when he's sad. I have cried along with him: at the train station, on the train, in my kitchen, on the sofa. He is just an all round poppet and I love him.

    I went here. It's rather special.

    Oh, and Rhys is going to be a Dad! Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! The only dilemma is what to call it: Emma for a girl, Emlyn for a boy.

    This weekend I am going to try and post a photo on my blog. Oo, I'm a right proper geek.

    Thursday, January 20

    Bad news for the January Blues
    I thought I had it bad already, but according to some boffin bloke, it's going to get a lot worse.

    Monday, January 17

    Tick Tock
    If like me, you're approaching 30 and childless, the hands on your biological clock are probably spinning round in a maniacal fashion, a bit like that child's head in The Exorcist.

    Don't worry though, there's still hope.

    Thursday, January 13

    Wednesday, January 12

    Clever Blogs
    Some people's blogs are so clever. They talk about news and politics and postmodernism and all kinds of braininess.

    Here's a list of my 9 favourite cakes (in no particular order).

    1. Emma Cake - my own invention, a carrot/banana hybrid with dates in. They should sell it in shops.
    2. Tit cakes - a good old Mr Kipling cherry bakewell.
    3. Carrot cake - always a winner, and practically a health food too.
    4. Banana bread - nice with an afternoon cup of tea.
    5. Cheesecake - a winning combination of cake and cheese.
    6. Lemon tart - a nice tart is great when you can't quite fit in something really cakey.
    7. Mmmmmmm.... Muffins - Lemon and poppyseed!
    8. Scones - preferably in the form of a nice cream tea.
    9. Brownies - ooo, I could just eat one right now. Had an amazing cranberry and pistachio one the other day.

    I was going to do a top 10, but I didn't want to put an inferior cake in there and ruin the list.

    Why not tell me what your favourite cake is too? Or why not make my blog into a clever one by entering into a cake debate with me. First topic - "Cream horns: retro classics or wartime has-beens?"

    Tuesday, January 11

    The 12 cakes of 2005
    As an anniversary present for Dave, I have promised to make him a brand-new cake every month.

    January's cake is chocolate cheesecake. I can feel the cellulite forming as I type.

    Monday, January 10

    It's been a while...
    Ooo, I am rubbish, but I will be rubbish no more. 2005 will be the year of blogging.

    Christmas
    Christmas was in Harrogate. Woke up to snow - a proper white Christmas - ah! Interesting being a vicar's daughter-in-law. Mad people for lunch, including Fucking William (big, ginger, shouty, swears a lot, likes booze), Anorexic Pam (ate a sandwich for Christmas lunch). Smelly Ron couldn't make it due to commitments at his brother's house in Wetherby - shame, we'd got the scented candles in especially.

    Got lots of cool presents including a donkey from Bex!

    Early January
    Ooo, my favourite time of year as it involves lists! Lots of lists about how I can be thinner/prettier/more interesting/nicer to my family, blah, blah, blah...

    A week into January
    The depression has set in. I have no money, I am fat after Christmas, it is cold and dark and I have nothing to look forward to. I hate January. Bah!