Friday, December 22

High Drama in Meep Towers

We were staying with some friends for the weekend last week. When I got into bed on Friday night, my heart started pounding in my chest. But it wasn't pounding regularly - it was doing strong beats, then weak little beatlets, going like the clappers and then slowing right down. It was very odd.

The next night, it happened again. Maybe I should be worried. I got Mr Meep to get his laptop out and Google 'heart palpitations in pregnancy'. He said it seemed to be fairly common. So I put it to the back of my mind and went to sleep, despite the little drummer boy putting on a full performance under my left breast.

All week, it's kept on happening. Mostly in the evenings, but sometimes in the daytime too. I've felt fine otherwise, so I didn't worry too much about it.

Last night, I met some friends for a drink in the world's cosiest bar. After and hour of chatting and drinking tea, the old ticker started playing up again. I ignored it and carried on with the evening. Got home and it was still going on. While I was tucking into my jacket potato, I thought it was going to jump out of my shirt and join the spud on the plate.

It usually only lasts for an hour or so. By now, it had been four hours. Mr Meep decided it was time for action and insisted that I phone NHS Direct. A nice lady asked me lots of questions, like was I turning blue and was my speech slurred (they weren't). Then, calmly, but with an underlying sense of urgency and slight hysteria, she told me to get to casualty quick smart.

I don't like a fuss. I asked Mr Meep if we could just wait until morning. I pretended it was getting better. He was having none of it and marched me to the car and drove me to the hospital.

At A&E I was expecting a long wait in a room full of office Christmas party casualties covered in blood and party popper streamers. I got to the reception, told them what the problem was and was whizzed off to the trolley bay straight away. Before I knew it, my clothes were being removed and I was covered in padded stickers and wires and all kinds of paraphenalia.

They switched on the heart monitor. It didn't look good. It looked like a graph depicting the highs and lows of an episode of Eastenders. At some points, it was flatlining for a second, setting all kind of bleeps and beeps off.

Next up, the ECG machine was wheeled over and did a lovely artistic depiction of my wonky heart rhythms. "Well, that is definitely not normal," said the nurse and disappeared behind the curtain (they were themed curtains, depicting the hospitals of Cardiff and the Cardiff City FC shield).

Next came the doctor, who asked me more questions about heart history and breathlessness, then disappeared behind the special curtain to summon the cardiologist.

Although I am normally quite chilled out, by this point I was getting a tad worried. And so was my heart, judging by the monitor, which sounded like it was composing a new mobile ring tone.

Two hours and some blood tests later, the doctor returned. He concluded that yes, my heart is abnormal, but pregnancy does funny things to your body. As I don't have any other symptoms, it's nothing to worry about, so off I went.

So that was the end of that little drama.

This morning, I just got a big fat rejection for a writing contract that I was interviewed for on Monday. As usual, they said I had excellent writing skills, good interpersonal skills and obvious enthusiasm - so why didn't I bloody get it then? I don't know, sometimes, life is a bit rubbish.

Merry Christmas, one and all!

Wednesday, December 20

The Splott Nativity

It was a cold, dark December night. Times were hard for the Meep family. They had one car between them, so when Mr Meep needed said vehicle to get to work, Ms Meep was left with her legs as her only form of transport (all donkeys were booked up - it's a busy time of year for them).

That day, Ms Meep had already walked the dog (1.5 miles), walked to work (1 mile), walked to meet a friend for a coffee (1 more mile). When coffees were finished at 7pm, it was time to go home.

The woman, who was tired, cold and heavy with child (well, a very small bump anyway) could not face a further 25-minute walk home. Again, there were no donkeys to be seen, so she decided to wait for the number 13 bus.

So she waited. And waited. And waited some more. She was not full of inner peace. Buzzing through her head were lots of swear words and non-angelic thoughts. When the bus eventually turned up - 20 minutes later, her face turned from a scowl to a look of awe and wonderment at the approaching vehicle, its yellow headlights lighting up her joyous face.

But as the bus approached, she saw that it was packed full of people. The bus pulled in and one person got off. A old man, who was also waiting at the bus stop, hopped on to the bus. When the lady, who was WITH CHILD remember, tried to get on, the bus driver stopped her.

"Sorry love," he said, "There is no room on the bus."

Then the doors closed and he drove off.

So she picked up her bag, which was laden with a filofax, two mobile phones, a book, an umbrella, lots of muffin wrappers and other heavy items, and wearily made her way home. Alone. In the dark. On foot.

On the way, she encountered three unwise men. They were wearing a lot of gold and shouting things at her from outside the takeaway - they had followed the shining light of the 'Kebabs' sign to get there.

When she eventually got back to Meep Towers, she retired to the sofa. She covered herself in a big patchwork blanket and nursed a bowl of vegetable curry. Around her, the livestock (Mr Zebedee Miaowington and Ms Blodwen Stinkalot) looked peacefully on. In the corner, the eco-friendly light bulb glowed dimly.

All was calm.

Sunday, December 10

I need sleep

It's 6am and I am sitting on the sofa worrying. I have been awake since 4am, worrying about:
The gas bill
The fact that I haven't renewed our car insurance
How I am going to afford living on statutory maternity pay for nine months (all of.. oooo.. £104 per week)
Intruders in our garden (they broke our back fence last night)
Not eating enough protein for Mini Meep
Having a glass of wine a couple of times a week
Going on the tube in rush hour on Monday morning (I am a tad on the claustrophobic side)

Is it the pregnancy hormones?

Gah! Need sleep.

Wednesday, December 6

Mark Owen...

... has got a spaniel!

Confirming that they are the pet of choice for mumpets everywhere.

Sunday, December 3

Sunday Scribblings: In the Last Hour

In the last hour, Mr Meep and I returned home after watching an amazing film. It was an entertaining, thought-provoking story about making the most out of life. And, best of all, Maggie Gillenhall played a boho babe with great hair, a fab flat and gorgeous clothes, who ran a cake/coffee shop (so, basically, my dream lifestyle).

We left the cinema with the warm glow you get after watching something that touches you. Outside it was cold and windy, and we ran to the car to keep warm. When we got back to Meep Towers, we were greeted with the smell of the banana cake that I had left cooling in the kitchen. Mr Meep had made some dough to make the traditional Sunday evening pizzas. While he made the bases, I chopped up tomatoes, olives, artichokes and mushrooms and tore a ball of mozarella into strips.

There was some dough left, so Mr Meep made some twisted bread sticks with olive oil and sea salt, so we could dip them into some creamy houmous as a pre-pizza nibble. While Mr M put the bread sticks in the oven, I made the lounge look as cosy as possible, with the warm, orangey glow of the fairylights in the fireplace and the candles on the table. Sufjan Stevens was coming from the stereo in the corner and the pets were fast asleep on their beds.

We were all ready for the ultimate cosying-up weekend end.

That is, until the cat suddenly leapt off the pink velvet chair and ran across the room as if he'd just found out that there was a mouse/tuna convention being held in the opposite corner. In his mad rush to find said mice/canned fish, he leapt onto the table and skidded along its length. As he got to the end, he leapt on to the windowsill, his back legs knocking over my beloved digital camera.

In slow motion, the camera fell off the table and landed with a crash on the floor below. I wasn't too worried, I'm sure it can take a few knocks here and there, but I was about to use it anyway, so I tried to take a few shots. I pointed at the candle flames dancing on the table and pressed the button to release the shutter.

Nothing happened.

Nothing, but a strange whirring sound coming from the lense, which was trying desperately to focus but failing miserably.

Mr Meep came to the rescue, trying to see if he could fix the problem. We tried everything, nothing worked. I was absolutely gutted. My new camera, just a few months old, ruined by my evil pet cat.

We sat in silence for a while, until Mr Meep jumped off the sofa almost as fast as the cat. He rushed into the kitchen and opened the oven, to be greeted by a burning smell - it was the breadsticks, not soft, golden and salty but rock hard, black and burnt to a crisp.

Bugger.

More Sunday Scribblings here.

10 things I have learnt while I haven't been blogging

  • 1. Never, under any circumstances, feed your dog leftover Indian takeaway just before you are about to embark on a five-hour journey with her in a small car.
  • 2. Even on the ninth viewing, Love Actually still makes me cry. Especially the bit when Andrew Lincoln is holding those cards up for Keira Knightly. Oh blimey, here I go again...
  • 3. No one tells you that you spend the first three months of pregnancy looking an attractive shade of grey.
  • 4. Christmas shopping is evil, consumerist, environmentally unfriendly and stressful.
  • 5. It is even worse if you are wearing about ten layers of clothing, whilst battling your way through M&S carrying the five thousand presents no-one really wants that you have already bought.
  • 6. Next year, everyone is getting a goat. Yes, I know I said that last year, but I really mean it this time. Honest.
  • 7. If I pay £13k to have our loft converted, it is just too low so we won't be able to stand up in it. Therefore, my baby will be living under the stairs, a la Harry Potter.
  • 8. After today, I don't have a single spare day in my diary until December 27th.
  • 9. I still have a crush on most of Take That (except Gary, obv), especially with their new rugged faces, fluffy hair, big winter coat thing going on - the bunch of big fluffy mumpets.
  • 10. Home-made cakes are incredibly good for unborn babies. Especially banana bread (full of potassium), pecan pie (nuts for omegas), passion cake (carrots for vitamins) and chocolate brownies (er...).
  • Sunday, November 19

    Sunday Scribblings: My hero

    My hero doesn't scale tall buildings in one giant leap, nor does she combat villains with her amazing ability to throw balls of fire from her wrists.

    My hero is, on the outside, an ordinary person. But this ordinary person lives an extraordinary life. She lives a life that she has shaped for herself, a life that doesn't fit a mould, but is a life that's exactly how she wants it to be.

    She lives by the sea. She wakes up every morning to the sound of the ocean and opens her window to breathe in the fresh air. She heads straight outside with her dog to catch the best part of the day, running and playing on the beach, filling her lungs with fresh, clean air.

    She eats healthy, home-cooked food and her kitchen is always filled with wonderful smells: tomatoes slowly roasting with garlic and basil; spicy sweet cinnamon and apple cakes just out of the oven; a creamy sweet potato and coconut curry bubbling away on the hob.

    She writes book for children. She works on her sofa with her laptop, with an endless supply of Earl Grey tea and a cat asleep at her feet. She is also a teacher who is passionate about learning and loves the warm fuzzy glow she gets from helping people to discover new things.

    She is a mother that gives her children experiences instead of things. Her children paint, bake, play, explore, laugh and learn.

    She is a good friend and a supportive wife – loyal and kind to the people she loves. She likes herself and understands that not everyone is going to like her too.

    She appreciates the simple things, she loves life and she lives every minute to the fullest.

    She smiles. A lot.

    I don't know if she exists, but she is the person that I would like to be.

    For more heroic Sunday Scribblings go here.

    Friday, November 10

    Introducing...

    Mini Meep!



    Due at the end of May 2007.

    Currently looks like a cross between a broad bean and a baby chicken.

    Eeeek!

    Thursday, November 9

    Bleurgh

    Can I have some virtual blog-style sympathy please?

    I am aching all over... head, kidneys, legs. My eyes are streaming. My nose is running. I'm sneezing. And I'm feeling very, very sorry for myself.

    Bleeeeeeeee.

    (Actually, I am cwtched up in a blanket on the sofa, wearing my pyjamas, with Heat magazine, a box of Jaffa Cakes, a mug of Earl Grey and the dog and cat asleep at my feet and we're getting curry from Splott's finest Indian takeaway later, so it's not all bad.)

    Monday, November 6

    Animal Magic

    I've just got back home after a lovely long weekend in the beautiful posh spa town of Harrogate, visiting the Meep-in-laws.

    Dog came with us, cat had to stay at home.

    When we opened the front door after three days away, the cat was very pleased to see us. He bounced around, purring the loudest of purrs, jumping on the dining room table to head-butt us and rubbing against our legs.

    In fact, he was so excited to see us, he then ran out into the hallway, miaowing loudly... and did a big smelly poo on the door mat.

    Welcome home, us.

    Thursday, November 2

    Here's Dave

     

    Isn't he nice?

    (Note use of colour and composition in this photo - see, I am learning stuff on my photography course, even though I think I am probably the class dunce.) Posted by Picasa

    Wednesday, November 1

    Talented Types

    I have very talented friends.

    Take Mr Massey and his fantastic Furry Bods, for example.

    When his shop is open, you should buy some gorgeous things.

    And although these people aren't my friends, I've been ogling their blogs and feeling very jealous that I don't do more creative stuff.

    Noodles and Doodles and Little Pink Toes live in a world of pastels and baking and creative play.

    I want to live there too please.

    Monday, October 30

    Winter blues

    I am not happy. It's cold, it's dark, it's been raining for a squillion years.

    I feel lethargic and sad and unenthusiastic about everything.

    It's time for the annual 'Things to look forward to about winter' list.

  • Walks on windy, deserted beaches...
  • ... and sheltering behind a rock to drink a flask of tea
  • Mittens and hats and fluffy scarves
  • Stollen from my favourite German deli
  • Sparkly party clothes
  • Fairy lights and fireworks
  • Eating chips in the car on a rainy seafront
  • Getting into bed at 8pm with a cuppa, cosy pyjamas and a good book
  • Mashed potato and roasted veg
  • Christmas!

    Ah, I feel better already.
  • Monday, October 23

    Just passing through



    I've done the thing that I always say I'll stop doing, but always end up doing - taking too much on.

    There's the new job, the freelancing, the dyslexia support work, the photography course, the knitting group, the posh gym that I must go to a squillion times a week to justify huge cost. Not to mention seeing friends and family, looking after the dog, the cat and the house. Oh, and trying to see Mr Meep.

    Gah. Bah. Bleeeeeee.

    Normal blogging will resume when things calm down a bit.

    Wednesday, October 18

    A Craft Frenzy

    A group of us ladies have united in craft and formed the Cardiff Ladies Craft Guild. This week, we sat around drinking tea, eating a delicious home-made apple cake and chatting. Oh, and we did knitting too.

    Stay tuned for some exciting craft-related antics.

    Monday, October 9

    Getting the creative juices flowing

    Mr Meep and I decided that October should be the month of creativity - filled with lovely activities to brush away the blues creeping in over thoughts of the impending dark evenings and cold weather.

    I'm late starting, but as my first activity, I've taken writing prompt number 99 from Creative Writing Prompts. Come up with ten images for this prompt: "My home makes me think of..."

    OK, so my home makes me think of...

  • Cosy Sunday afternoons, the cat curled up on the pink velvet chair, the dog snoring away on the wooden floor. Us on the sofa with The Observer, a pot of Earl Grey and the obligatory tube of Jaffa Cakes.
  • Smells from the kitchen, of the things we eat the most: spicy sweet banana cake, slow-roasted tomatoes with garlic and basil, creamy coconut curries and wholesome, home-made, wholemeal bread.
  • Sitting around the wooden table with good friends, chilled fruity white wine, lots of laughter and a huge bowl of pasta in the middle to share.
  • Fairy lights in the fireplace and paintings on the walls. Music in the background. And books, lots of books.
  • Being relaxed, feeling secure and loved.
  • The day we got the keys and slept on a blow-up mattress on the dining room floor, after a feast of supermarket pizza and plastic tumblers of wine.
  • Getting into a bed with fresh sheets wearing clean pyjamas and falling into a long, deep, weekend sleep.
  • Living in a building site for six months, with no hot water, a broken oven, two garden chairs and a TV on a cardboard box.
  • My 30th birthday party in the garden, with most of my favourite people and lots of amazing food.
  • Colour... fuschia pink in the bathroom that's guaranteed to wake you up, mouth-watering raspberry on the dining room walls, fresh '50s cupcake colours in the kitchen. Actually, an awful lot of pink going on.
  • Sunday, October 8

    I am quite pleased with myself

     

    Look at my cake! I made it all by myself.

    The happy couple seemed to really like it too.

    Hurrah. My work is done. Posted by Picasa

    Friday, October 6

    I challenge you

    ... to watch this without feeling fuzzy inside.

    Tell your friends. Spread the love.

    Sugar stress

    I am in the process of making a wedding cake for my lovely friends Jon and Emma. It's possibly the most stressful thing I have ever done.

    What's wrong with me? It's a cake! I like cakes. I like making cakes. I like eating cakes even more.

    Things I am worried about:
  • Going too fast around a corner in the car and squishing the cakes
  • The cake collapsing as they cut it, with everyone looking on (last night's dream)
  • Sitting on a table at the wedding with strangers and them saying, "Look at that DREADFUL cake"

    All of this stress is exaggerated by the fact that I have eaten quite a lot of sugar in the process of making the cakes.

    Yesterday, I probably ingested about a pint of 'leftover' chocolate ganache throughout the course of the day.

    This morning, I started on the marzipan trimmings. There were lots of them. Now there are not so many. In fact, there are none. I ate half, dipped in more chocolate ganache. Blod ate the rest sans ganache as chocolate and dogs are not a good combo.

    The there were the cake trimmings. I nibbled away at a fair few of them yesterday. Then, of course, there was the cake mix bowls...

    I am on some kind of extreme sugar high.

    Sweet.
  • Thursday, September 28

    A Veggie's favourite veggies

    You might be wondering what my favourite vegetables are.

    Well, wonder no more.

    Here is a top 10, in no particular order.

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Butternut squash
  • Tomatoes (Ok, technically a fruit, but you wouldn't eat it like an apple, would you?)
  • Avocado (Is that a fruit too? I love it mashed on toast with marmite)
  • Broccoli (Blod was going to be called broccoli if she was a boy-puppy)
  • Corn on the cob (but never from a can - bleurgh)
  • Onions (not that interesting on their own but couldn't cook without them)
  • Potatoes (so waffley versatile)
  • The humble pea

    So now you know.
  • Sunday, September 24

    I'm back

    And look what I've grown in my garden....

     

    Yes, it is the world's largest pumpkin. Posted by Picasa

    Monday, September 11

    Blogging for the Lazy



    Can't think of anything to write? Share some fab films and music that you've discovered over the past two weeks and hope other people will love them too.

    Little Miss Sunshine
    The Station Agent
    The Royal Tenenbaums

    Richard Hawley
    Isobel Campbell
    Cerys Matthews

    Oh, and post a picture you took yesterday of the Wales Millennium Centre as a tenuous arts/culture link.

    Sunday, September 10

    Sunday Scribblings: I would never write...

    I've never been into poetry. Haven't managed to get my head around reading it and never tried to write it either. And, although half of the books in our house are of the sci-fi/fantasy genre (yes, I am married to a dweeb), I have never entered the realms of orcs and futuristic lands.

    So, for this week's Sunday Scribblings, I thought I would attempt to write:

    A Poem About a Robot-type Person
    He came from the planet Twonkatron,
    The man with the seven eyes.
    His arms were made of spiders,
    His head from custard pies.

    He landed on earth in 2006
    To save us from our problems,
    Like climate change and overweight kids,
    Binge drinking and McDonalds.

    But when he saw the state of things,
    The robot couldn't hack it.
    He got back on his pink spaceship,
    And whizzed back to his planet.

    Wednesday, September 6

    The Life of a Freelancer

    Hello. It's Wednesday and I have just... finished my week's official work.

    It feels strange. Can't really get my head around three-day working. Although, of course, tomorrow if first official day of freelancing, so must not spend the day:

  • Talking the dog on a really long walk
  • Having a swim and steam room
  • Reading my book
  • Making cakes
  • Finishing off the scarf I'm knitting
  • Going to the library
  • Blogging
  • Picking blackberries
  • Messing about with my new camera


    Oh no, I won't be doing any of those things at all.

    And after I haven't done all those things, I am going to a 'Creative Industry Speed Networking' event, which apparently is a bit like speed dating, but for creative-types in business.

    I'm a bit scared. The venue has Hoegarden on tap. I should be OK.
  • Friday, September 1

    I am not evil

     

    There is a rumour going around among two of my close friends that I am, in fact, evil. This photo is for you two, to prove that I am not.

    Mr Traitor, thank you for the lovely meal and the fab gifts.
    Mrs Traitor, thank you for your lovely meal and the fab gifts. Posted by Picasa

    Wednesday, August 30

    Birthday Breakfast

     
    Happy Birthday to me!
    (Photo taken with my fab-tastic new camera). Posted by Picasa

    Monday, August 28

    Sunday Scribblings: Monster

    The Cake Monster lives in my house. He is four feet tall, covered in pink, fluffy hair, and carries an oversized sequinned handbag in the shape of a cupcake (to keep his supply of lemon and poppy seed muffins in).

    As his name suggests, he is rather partial to the odd fondant fancy or Victoria sponge. His love of cakes also means that he is rather on the... ahem... cuddly side. In fact, it's been getting more and more difficult for his very close friend Mr Muffin Monster to cuddle him recently, especially since he discovered the delights of the organic dark chocolate brownie.

    He lives in the kitchen, in a special monster hole behind the cooker where he gets maximum exposure to any cake fumes that might be disseminating from the oven. He's made his hidey hole quite cosy. He's put up pictures of his favourite cakes (cherry bakewell, cream horn and coffee and walnut) from Monster Cake Monthly. He's very houseproud and can often be found giving his collection of novelty ceramic gateaux a good going over with a feather duster.

    Although he's quite a homely monster, he always ventures out of the hidey hole whenever he feels there is a cake situation in the household.

    When I'm feeling down, he creeps up behind me and whispers in my ear. "You know what'd make you feel a bit better, don't you? A nice bit of cake. What about a bit of passion cake? Go on love, it's your favourite."

    He's there on PMT days, encouraging me to satisfy my sugar craving with a slice of pecan pie, a flapjack or something equally guaranteed to give an instant high. "Come on chick, let your hormones loose on this apple strudel."

    If friends are coming for a cuppa, out he'll come. "Ooo, you haven't seen them for ages. And you know how mad they are for a lovely lemon drizzle."

    There is only one cake he does not like - the iced bun. At the mere mention of that-which-shall-not-be-named (as he refers to it), he explodes into a violent rage, which is very out of character for one so generally soppy "It's not a chuffin' cake," he screeches, "it's a ruddy bread roll! A ruddy bread roll with a bit of blinkin' icing on it. A tarted-up bap, that's all it is."

    And we must never, ever mention the D.I.E.T. word in his company again. I won't go in to details about what happened last time, but let's just say that I've never seen anyone actually set fire to a picture of Carol Vordeman before.

    See more, and probably much more sensible, Sunday Scribblings.

    Thursday, August 24

    I'm in shock

    I've just had a goodbye presentation/speech-type thing at work and I got absolutely loads of presents.

    Time for a list...

  • Four bottles of real ale
  • A box of G&B chocs
  • Make-up bag from Accesorise
  • Two groovy bookmarks
  • A really posh pink pen
  • A carrot and walnut cake
  • Retro flask
  • Cupcake cookbook
  • A glittery corsage
  • Box of Neale’s Yard goodies
  • Cool wine bottle stopper

    All wrapped in pink sparkly paper in flowery, glittery bags.

    And they made me a poster of some cupcakes with my head on them, which I will attempt to scan in later.

    Aw, I feel all fuzzy.
  • Tuesday, August 22

    My first Haiku

    I stumbled across One Deep Breath today, so I thought I'd have a go at writing a haiku. I have never, ever written a poem before, so apologies in advance.

    This week's theme is music.

    Drum roll please...

    The song that wakes me
    Gets into my head all day
    My personal soundtrack

    Er, needs work, I think.

    Friday, August 18

    Sunday Scribblings: The Inner Life of Pets

    (Evil) Zebedee’s story



    The smelly, hyperactive one gets all the attention these days. She’s so needy with her constant running, jumping, sniffing, panting, licking, barking, growling and drooling.

    But they don’t know who’s really the boss. Look at this photograph – they made that kennel just for her, even put her name on it just to rub it in. But I’ve taken it over as my evil headquarters – all it took was a few scratches on the nose. She’s such a wimp.

    I love it when they go out – especially when they take that smelly, hyperactive thing with them.

    As soon as the door shuts, I retrieve my papers from their secret hiding place (strategically and cunningly placed just inside the velcro opening at the back of the pink velvet chair).

    I call the boys round. There’s Naughty Cat (effeminate but with a wicked mastermind), Naughty Cat’s brother (looks just like me, only smaller and a lot less evil), Evil Cat (all black, all evil), Nasty Cat (big scary ginger tom with his… er.. big scary ginger manhood still intact), Friendly Cat (outwardly purry yet inwardly depraved) and his nemeses Unfriendly Cat (looks the same, not as friendly, just as depraved).

    We spread the papers all over the dining room table – and get on with planning mankind’s destruction. There are maps of the world, with little red stickers on the bits we’ll take over first.

    There are the plans for the giant cat food factories that we’ll build when the revolution comes, producing an endless supply of delicious delights for cats everywhere. Never again will we have to wait until for ‘Friday treat’ time to get a bowl of tuna.

    Those that have been bad to us in the past will work in the factories.

    That grumpy neighbour who shouts at me when I’m using my favourite toilet (the one with lots of flowers in)? He’s in the tuna gutting department.

    The girl who picks me up when I’m trying to sleep? She’s assistant chicken mincer.

    That small, crying child that tries to stroke me backwards? He’s in canning.

    And that smelly, hyperactive thing – she’s the one-woman fish-innards clean-up team.

    Bouncy Cat, such a pretty boy with his small head, big green eyes and ever-swishing tail, acts as a decoy. If they come home early, they’ll always stop to pet him (they are *so* obvious), giving me the chance to swiftly put everything away, disperse the gang and be innocently curled up, purring away on my pink throne, by the time they open the lounge door.

    Little do they know that I, with my evil genius, will soon be leader of all the world. Evil Zebedee’s Empire is just a whisker away.

    More pet tales here.

    Thursday, August 17

    Presents I would like for my birthday

    Only 13 days to go - you're probably wondering what to get me.

    This camera
    All these lovely books
    Aveda things
    Neal's Yard things
    This coat
    A new puppy/kitten/bunny/baby
    World peas

    Mooncup Moments

    When the Mooncup comes out, I go a bit bonkers. This is a summary of last night's events:

  • Fell over the step going into my kitchen. Fell over it again 10 minutes later.
  • Lost my glass of wine, then found it in the garden.
  • Sobbed for 15 minutes at the thought of the having the dog put to sleep when she's old (she has just turned one).
  • Turned on the water butt to fill the watering can. Forgot about it. Remembered 15 minutes later. Water butt now almost empty. Collected rainwater now in drain.
  • Made a banana bread and forgot to put a) the sugar and b) the spices in it.

    No wonder they used to isolate menstruating women in ye olden dayes.
  • Monday, August 14

    Philomena cakes

    To brighten up this gloomy August day.



    James, have you eaten them all yet?

    Happy to combat the SAD

    I’m feeling really optimistic. Usually at this time of year, I feel a sense of dread starting to creep into my soul, as the air gets chillier and the darkness arrives a little bit earlier every day.

    I try to cheer myself up with thoughts of fairy lights and furry coats, woolly hats and winter walks, but when the clocks go back and the darkness arrives, its oversized suitcase of rain, cold and gloom packed for its five-month visit, the SAD sets in.

    But this year, I won’t have to wake up before the sun even thinks about stirring.
    I won’t have to travel to work in the dark, then sit in an office until it gets dark again.
    I won’t have to walk the dog at 6.30am on icy January mornings.

    I’m going to spend time outside when it’s light and work at home when it’s dark.
    I’m going to work in cafes with my laptop, nursing giant mugs of herbal teas.
    I’m going to take the dog to deserted beaches and mountains when most people are at work.

    I’m abandoning a ‘career’ and a really good wage. I am choosing to be financially poor, but I’m also choosing freedom, flexibility, creativity, control – spiritually rich, I think they call it.

    Eeek. I can’t wait.

    Sunday, August 13

    Sunday Scribblings: Who else can I still be?



    My biggest dream is quite a simple one. I would like to be a mother. Well it should be simple and for most people it is. But because of my PCOS, I don't know if this will ever be a possibility for me. I pretend not to care, I avoid talking about it. When people ask me if I'm thinking about having babies, I say "Euch, no." If I'm totally honest, it breaks my heart every single day. It never goes away. Friends announcing pregnancies, women walking down the street nursing their bumps with a contented smile, mums in the park with their toddlers on little bikes and their babies in cute pushchairs - some days, it seems as if someone has put them there as a constant reminder that it might never be me.

    On a hopeful day, my attitude changes. I truly believe that it will happen one day. I will have my babies - three or four of them. We'll live in a house by the sea, just me and my family. A house that's filled with the smell of cakes baking, music always playing, paintings by the family covering the walls, dogs on the sofa, vegetables growing in the garden. Just me and my family in our little house by the sea.

    More hopes, dreams and Sunday Scribblings here.

    Wednesday, August 9

    I'm addicted

    To the MoneySavingExpert site. I especially love the forums where people post tips on all sorts of frugality. There's even a board for Green and Ethical money saving.

    Have a look.

    (She says, about to leave the office to go and join a very expensive gym).

    Monday, August 7

    50 things to do instead of watching TV (or shopping)

    I was just sitting here thinking, as I often do, about my whole anti-TV/consumerist, pro-simplicity/downshifting philosophy. I'm interested in creative, simple living and, as I was playing around with ideas in my notebook, I felt compelled to write a list. I challenged myself to find 50. Here goes...

    1. Go to the cinema - it's all about the experience
    2. Go for a walk somewhere beautiful
    3. Cook a meal for someone you love
    4. Pop into your neighbour's house for a chat
    5. Get lost in your favourite book
    6. Invite a friend around for afternoon tea
    7. Plant some seeds - watch them grow
    8. Bake a cake
    9. Write a letter to someone you haven't seen for ages - everyone loves getting post
    10. Lie on some grass, stare at the sky, let your mind wander (not recommended if it's raining)
    11. Listen to some live music
    12. Walk your dog - if you haven't got one, borrow one
    13. Go to the library and get lost among the shelves
    14. Have a picnic in the park
    15. Go to a museum
    16. Do a yoga class
    17. Go for a bike ride
    18. Put a CD on and actually listen to the words - someone's spent a lot of time on them
    19. Look at old photos and laugh at your dubious fashion sense
    20. Doodle
    21. Invent a new flavour soup (all you need is stock, your favourite veggies and whatever else takes your fancy)
    22. Visit a beach, paddle in the sea
    23. Phone someone you haven't spoken to in ages
    24. Dance around your kitchen to your favourite song (naked if you want - but make sure the curtains are closed)
    25. Play a board game
    26. Do rude things with someone yummy
    27. Grab some friends and have an impromptu game of rounders/football/other sporty-type activities
    28. Paint a picture - it doesn't have to be 'good', just create!
    29. Give your mind a workout a la Carol Vordeman with Sudoku
    30. Take photographs of things that make you smile
    31. Try your hand at knitting - start with a scarf for someone's pet
    32. Soak in the bath with a cuppa and your favourite magazine
    33. Go out for a pint - just the one, mind, don't want any nasty hangovers going on
    34. Grab a sketchbook and a pen and see where your imagination takes you
    35. Look at art
    36. Write a list of your favourite things - read it when you feel sad
    37. Catch some live comedy and smile until your face hurts
    38. Perform a random act of kindness
    39. Watch some live sport - cheer lots and loudly, even if it's just the under-16s local footy team
    40. Grow some vegetables
    41. Pick a comedy programme from Radio 4 and listen again - Little Britain started on there, don't ya know
    42. Try a fitness class you've never done before
    43. Read the newspaper from cover to cover (even the business bits)
    44. Go to the theatre
    45. Sign up for an evening class - our council offers everything from sculpture to Spanish
    46. Get an atlas and plan your dream holiday
    47. Bake a loaf of home-made bread - so satisfying and 100% nicer than anything from the shops
    48. Give someone you know a really big hug
    49. Sit still, in silence and just be
    50. Start a blog - make sure it's a bit more interesting than this one

    Friday, August 4

    I've entered a little competition

    You had to write a 100-word story, based on the image below. I won't win or owt, but I enjoyed taking part. My entry is inspired by Barry Island, where I took The Blod for a walk last night.



    Drum roll please...

    Gwyn met Dilys on a wet bank holiday in Barry Island, 1951. They shared salty chips on the seafront before the last bus home. They married a year later, their honeymoon baby concieved during a romantic rendezvous in a four-berth in Fontygary. A decade went and three more children came. Annual family Butlin’s breaks were all bonnie babies and knobbly knees, swapped for PacMan and the pirate ship by the ’80s when grandchildren arrived. In their seventies, their looks fading and motors slowing down, Gwyn and Dilys still show signs of their former sparkle – just like their beloved beachside town.

    Some loveliness for Friday

    Wow

    Wednesday, August 2

    Tuesday, August 1

    The day I met The Hoff

    Spinsterella mentioned The Greatest Day of Our Lives in this post, so I felt compelled to share this beautiful experience with the blogosphere.

    After working at this glamorous location for the summer, a group of us had been travelling across the states on Amtrak. We’d been all the way from Washington DC to LA, stopping off at Chicago (windy), Memphis (Elvisy), New Orleans (jazzy) and some rubbish town near the Grand Canyon (scary).

    At the LA hostel, everyone had a story about what celebs they’d been spotting around the city.

    Some people had seen Jamie Lee Curtis shopping for vintage clothing in Venice Beach.

    Scottish Tony who worked at the pizza place had seen Madonna jogging passed the Hollywood sign, just seconds before Jill Dando rocked up to do a bit of filming for Holiday ’96.

    There was even a mention of Arnie-spotting through the window some posey gym in Santa Monica.

    We had been in LA for three days and, apart from going to watch the filming of a pilot sit-com staring some very dubious quasi-celebs, our time had been devoid of superstars.

    But all that was about to change. We were walking along Venice beach and bumped into two blokes from our hostel, looking rather pleased with themselves.

    “We’ve just seen David Hasselhoff wrestling a plastic alligator,” they said.

    It was 1995. Baywatch was big. We didn’t mess around with the details – we were off, racing up the beach to catch the action. It took us about ten minutes before we could see the famous yellow truck in the distance. We ran faster, desperate to see the bronzed Adonis in action.

    We got there just as they were packing up. The truck was there. The plastic alligator was flopped on the sand, looking like one of those novelty children’s lilos favoured in the pools of Benidorm.

    Bugger.

    But then he appeared from behind the yellow truck: resplendent in his red shorts, mirkin poking out of the top of his whiter-than-white shirt. It was The Hoff.

    He looked like a man on a mission – to go home. He didn’t want to be bothered signing things and being nice to people and grinning for photographs.

    He didn’t have a choice. We pounced on him, ushered him toward the truck and got the shot – us, the Baywatch truck and The Hoff.

    He wasn’t happy. As soon as the shutter went off, he was in the yellow truck, charging up the beach – probably on his way to his mam’s for his tea.

    About two years later, my housemate was channel hopping and there was an episode of Baywatch on. Just as I entered the room, Mitch was doing the Big Daddy Splash on a very ferocious-looking croc.

    Looked much more realistic on the telly.

    (The next instalment of the Miss Meep Does America series of blog posts will describe The Day Someone I Knew Wanked Over Me on the Chicago to New York Sleeper – it’s a favourite tale that makes for very interesting dinner party conversations.)

    Wednesday, July 26

    Phew

    I have just finished the first edit of the arty-type book I'm editing - all 31,346 words of it.

    I'm off for a very well-deserved pint. Fancy coming? I'll buy you one too with the profits.

    Tuesday, July 25

    A situation I never, ever thought I'd be in

    After this post, I decided to follow my heart and go for job number two and a life of freedom and flexibility.

    I called them to confirm yesterday morning. All was well. Straight afterwards, I called job number one to decline. They asked if there was anything they could do to make me accept their offer. I explained that the other job was part-time and I was really looking for a bit more flexibility.

    A couple of hours later, I got an e-mail from job number one. They could change the job to a part-time role to suit me - what days did I want? And they could offer me about £4.5k more.

    I was in shock.

    After much soul-searching, I ditched job number two and went for job number one. They were such lovely mumpety people, really wanted me to work for them and, of course, there's the very good wage for working three days a week thing.

    So, it's official. I am now a Communications Officer for a charity working with refugees (uber-mumpet Sir Benjamin of Zephaniah would be proud). And the rest of the time, I'm a freelance writer/editor/photography student/dyslexia support worker/anything else that takes my fancy.

    Blimey.

    (Mr Meep says he feels like we've won the lottery.)

    Sunday, July 23

    Fading beauty



    Yesterday, I heard a song that will stay with me forever. I was on the way home from the beach and a long walk across the dunes in the sunshine, generally feeling a bit spiritual and at one with mother nature and all that malarkey.

    I turned the radio on - it was bloody Dermot O'Dreary, but as it was a choice between him or some chav-awful local radio station playing the hits from 'the 80s, 90s and today', and O'Dreary generally plays pleasant enough tunes by jangly guitar-playing indie bands, I stuck with him.

    He had some band on playing an acoustic set, a cover of 'Up the Junction' by Squeeze. It was jangly and happy and a good background to the drive home in the sunshine.

    When the band had finished, a record came on. I recognised the opening chords of If You Could Read My Mind - a song which usually reminds me of dancing with drag queens at drunken nights at The Albury Hotel from my time in Sydney.

    But this version of the song wasn't all camp disco. It was slowed down and stripped down, just a man and a guitar. The voice was deep, rich and wise - a voice that had sung thousands of songs, spoken millions of words. It had the frail vibrato of a septogenarian - it was a voice that quivered as it sang, its age giving so much more meaning to the lyrics, transforming the song from an upbeat tune about a break-up to a haunting reflection on a life passed and a love lost forever, on mortality and mistakes.

    As the song went on, the voice began to shake more. It sounded breathless, as if it was struggling to finish the song. I realised it was the voice of a dying man. As I drove along the M4, tears were streaming down my face.

    The voice belonged to Johnny Cash. The song is from this album. He recorded it just months before he died. He was mourning his wife, almost blind, asthmatic and unable to walk - and you can hear every part of his pain in his voice.

    Friday, July 21

    Employment bonkersosity

    Yesterday, I had two job interviews. Today, I have been offered two jobs.

    Job number one
  • Plus points
    Good money
    About 10 minutes walk from my house
    A small charity, so v worthy and all that
    Nice people

  • Minus points
    Grotty office in not v nice location
    Full-time hours

    Job number two
  • Plus points
    Part-time
    In lovely, waterfront location
    Charity sector
    Could combine with freelance writing

  • Bad points
    Lack of money
    Um... that's it

    Well, I think that's my mind made up... However, I've got the weekend to mull it over. My heart is saying 'Take the part-time job and follow your dream of juggling a few jobs that you like'. My head is saying 'Are you mad? How will you ever survive on that measly amount?'. Can anyone offer me some words of wisdom?

    Oh, and while I've been typing this, I've got a call from a job I applied for aaages ago offering me an interview next week. It's writing lecture notes for students with dyslexia. Crap money, but hours whenever I want them, so a good compliment to job number two and would be a step in the right direction if I want to do my PGCE in basic skills teaching in the next couple of years.

    Hmmmm... Here's to three sleepless, restless nights with dreams about being happy/skint/naked in front of the school in assembly.
  • Monday, July 17

    How I spent my weekend

    I made a squillion pink and yellow cakes.



    Here they are on a pretty pink stand.



    Then I got small children to eat them.

    Thursday, July 13

    I've upset a nice Spanish lady

    Someone left this comment on my post about going to Spain.

    "España es mucho más que sol y tapas. Ese es el problema que todos los extranjeros pensais que somos tercermundistas."

    Which, if my very minimal Spanish serves me correctly, means something like: "Spain is much more than sun and tapas. The problem is that all tourists think we are third-world country."

    Um, I like Spain. I love it. Honestly, I really do. I love the people, the cities, the countryside, the coast, the food, the culture, the architecture, the siesta and the fiestas. I just happen to like tapas and sunshine too.

    Lo siento, Morgana.

    Too busy to blog...

    But here is a nice quote about Mother Earth.

    "And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare
    feet and the winds long to play with your hair" - Kahlil Gibran

    Makes me want to run through forests barefoot and naked.

    Sunday, July 9

    Sunday Scribblings: Hotel

    Although we stumbled upon it by accident, we ended up staying for weeks. We got off the tuk-tuk too early, a couple of pale-skinned, first-time travellers just arrived from the mainland after a few days of the noisy, calm, dirty, dazzling, sleazy, vibrant, culture shock of Bangkok - unsettled stomachs from the new, exotic climate and food that was so different from the grey skies and ‘101 ways with potatoes’ that we’d left behind just a week ago to start our year-long trip.

    With no idea where we were heading, after 20 minutes of deserted roads and no sign of a town anywhere ahead, we signalled the driver to stop at the next accommodation sign that we saw - a wooden board nailed to a post with the hand-painted words ‘Calm Bungalows’.

    We arrived at dusk and tramped down a stony path in the disappearing light, backpacks heavy, our skin already itching at the thought of the mosquitoes out hunting for new blood.

    The bungalows were a series of beach huts on the edge of Bo Phut beach, a then undiscovered part of the Thai island of Ko Samui. We chose one of the cheaper ‘bungalows’ - actually a wooden hut with two single beds, a cold shower and a Thai-style squat toilet. After 12 hours of kamikaze bus-drivers and bumpy ferry crossings, a clean bed was all we needed.

    The next day, we wandered down the village, virtually untouched by Ko Samui standards, the only nod to tourism were a few wooden shack-style restaurants serving seafood on the beach. A toothless woman spoke no English, but gave us the biggest, gummiest, friendliest grin when we bought something from her shop and attempted a hesitant ‘thank you’ in Thai. We were smitten with the people and the place, and made Calm Bungalows our home for the next couple of weeks.

    A persistent cockerel attempted to wake us at an unsociable 5am most days but we dozed until 9-ish, before ambling down the make-shift restaurant for coffee and banana pancakes. We spent the mornings swimming in sea that was as calm and warm as bath water, the afternoons reading trashy novels on the porch to shelter from the tail-end of the monsoon rains that arrived every day at 2pm.

    We drank Singa beers while swinging in hammocks and staring at the sea, listening to a grandmother wailing Thai lullabies to a baby girl. We ate slices of the sweetest pineapple that made our tongues tingle and plates of fried rice hiding the tiniest chillies with the biggest kick.

    In 1999, it cost roughly £2 a night to stay at Calm Bungalows, but if I had a choice between there or a week at a swanky, wanky hotel, all the champagne, room service and silk sheets in the world wouldn’t tempt me away from the little wooden hut by the sea.

    Read more Sunday Scribblings here.

    Friday, July 7

    The Friday List

    Today, it is not a happy bunny-type of list.

    Reasons why today was generally a bit rubbish
  • I had a day off, but had to get up at 7am because I had so much to do
  • I took Blod for a walk and it rained on me. A lot.
  • The clutch on my car decided to blow up in the middle of Cardiff city centre in rush hour, jamming the car in first gear so the only way of stopping was a) stalling b) turning off the engine or c) crashing. (I managed to get home through a combination of hysteria plus a, b and lots of luck.)
  • I did not have my phone or any money on me, making clutch/stranded damsel in distress situation a lot scarier.
  • I had no transport to go to job interview/test-type thing, so went to the bus-stop. Bus didn't turn up. Next bus was late. HAd to walk two miles. Arrived very flustered.
  • Interview-test thing was a disaster. They asked me to write five different things in one hour (advert, 150-word brochure entry, 150-word web copy, plus two pieces of editorial of 100 words each) based on five sheets of A4 that you had to read first. All in one hour. Surely physically impossible? I totally cocked up and didn't finish it in the alotted 60 minutes.
  • I am supposed to be camping in Dorset with friends right now. Because of car nightmare, I am sitting at home.
  • Oh, I got another job interview for a charity. Yay. It is exactly the same date and time as one of my other job interviews. Bah.
  • Car is going to cost £200.

    Should have stayed in bed today, I think.
  • Thursday, July 6

    Employment Whirlwind

    OK, it is all going a bit bonkers in the world of Operation Meep New Employment/Self-Employment (aka I'm A Copywriter, Get Me Out of Here).

  • I have got a contract to edit a book about an art project
  • I'm going to do a test tomorrow with a view to getting a quite lucrative 10-day a month copywriting contract somewhere arty that I'd love to work
  • I have an interview in a couple of weeks for a part-time marketing job at a tourist attraction
  • An agency have put me forward for a job at an environment charity (full-time, but all green and cuddly and that, so would be lovely)

    Send good positive vibes my way please...
  • Monday, July 3

    Happy Birthday Dave



    On your 33rd birthday, 33 things I think are fab about you. Aw, ain’t that soppy?

    1. You embrace the slow lifestyle with a passion.
    2. You are fab at playing the guitar.
    3. You’re a talented designer.
    4. You’re very, very funny.
    5. You make me cute cards.
    6. You have lovely blue eyes.
    7. You make the best pizzas ever.
    8. And the best veggie lasagne.
    9. Oh, and you’re really good at tortilla espanola too.
    10. You always do the driving…
    11. …and get the petrol.
    12. You have a nice, if slightly evil, cat.
    13. All my friends love you.
    14. As do my family.
    15. You introduced me to the joys of real ale.
    16. You’ve got great taste in music (oh, except for maybe some of that scary shouty stuff you buy now and again).
    17. You let me have a puppy after years of begging and discussing and deciding that, no, we’re definitely, definitely not getting one.
    18. You never complain about doing your share of walking her.
    19. You’re a good listener, even when I get home after not speaking all day and talk non-stop for about half an hour to cram in a whole day’s worth of chat.
    20. Ooo, another cooking one – how did I forget to mention your amazing home-made bread?
    21. You make me hot water bottles when it’s Mooncup time.
    22. You’re great at cwtches.
    23. You’re the best stone skimmer I’ve ever seen.
    24. You don’t like football/lager/boys’nights out.
    25. You have cool clothes.
    26. You buy really thoughtful presents. (Not mentioning the Kenwood blender incident of 2001. Oops.)
    27. You are interested and inquisitive…
    28. … so have probably never been bored in your life.
    29. You have the world’s softest earlobes.
    30. You never compromise on things you believe in.
    31.You let me paint our bedroom wall with glitter paint.
    32. All this, and ever so handsome too.
    33. You make me happy bunny in a zillion different ways – thank you!

    Happy Birthday, The Mumpet
    x

    Saturday, July 1

    Thursday, June 22

    I'm off...

    Not forever, mind. I've packed my Union Jack beach towel and Factor 2 sun oil and we're off to Sunny Spain. Viva Espagna and all that.*

    I will be spending the week:

  • Reading this and this and something suitably trashy and holiday-ish
  • Drinking lots of Rioja
  • Eating lots of tapas
  • Speaking very bad Spanish
  • Writing lots of lists and plans to change my life (again)
  • Taking lots of photographs
  • Walking in the mountains
  • Swimming in the sea
  • Sleeping and sleeping and sleeping some more

    Ah.

    *Disclaimer: I'm not really going on a Brits-abroad style booze fest. Am tootling around Andalucia for a week. Toot, toot!
  • Monday, June 19

    Sunday Scribblings: Bed

    I am the bed that Miss Meep has slept in for the past six years. Six years of naps, deep sleeps, dreams, novels, breakfasts, tears, laughter, kisses, cuddles and… well… all that other stuff that married ladies do.

    (Like the washing up and the ironing - boom, boom.)

    I could tell you a lot about Miss Meep. Believe me, I’ve seen it all. She bounces on me when she’s happy, she cries into me when she’s sad. I know what she dreams about and what she looks like first thing in the morning (the words Worzel and Gummidge spring to mind).

    Some mornings, she can’t wait to leave me. After eight hours curled up together, that’s it – she’s off. She leaps off me as soon as Sarah Kennedy waffles out of the little clock on the bedside table, as if she’s just discovered that I’m a football-loving, Sun-reading, McDonalds-munching, member of the BNP. I do have feelings, you know.

    Other mornings, she lazes around in me, surrounded by newspapers and cups of tea. I don’t think she’s ever going to get up. Doesn’t she know I get all out of sorts if I don’t get an airing before mid-day?

    She’s got the grace of an overweight 8-year-old in ballet class. She walks into me, drunk on dreams, when she gets up for a wee in the middle of the night. She’s tipped a glass of carrot juice on me, staining my mattress the colour of Dale Winton after a fortnight in Marbella with Cilla, not to mention dozens of glasses of water and cups of tea. I won’t even mention the Great Strawberry Smoothie Incident of 2006.

    Some nights, she tosses and turns, waking up sporadically, huffing and puffing about her lack of sleep. Other nights, she’s totally out of it. The only noise I hear is when she shouts out random dream-speak, like ‘Get the rhubarb, Majorie’ or ‘Put the hamster in the coal scuttle’.

    There are things that are constant though. Every night, she gets under the duvet with her cup of camomile and her latest read and settles down for a few chapters before she hits the pillow. Before she’s even two sips and two pages in, her head’s dropping forward and her eyes are closing, so she gives up and falls asleep. Every night, without fail. And she calls herself a reader?

    Once a month, she goes a little bit funny. She ditches her usual cute little sleeping outfits and puts on a pair of old fleecy pyjamas that really don’t do much for those thighs. She curls up into a ball, clutching a hot water bottle to her stomach, occasionally putting down her copy of Closer (yes, that’s right, a bloomin’ gossip mag – I mean, it’s usually all The Ecologist and novels from the Booker shortlist – I told you she goes a bit funny) to shovel Munchies into her mouth and moan “Make it stop, make it stop…” to no-one in particular, in a voice that makes her sound like a puppy with a mangled paw.

    There’s plenty more that I could reveal, but that sort of information doesn’t come for free. Treat me to some Egyptian cotton sheets and a new mattress and I just might tell you more.

    More Sunday Scribblings here.

    Wednesday, June 14

    Intersting things I found on Flikr today

  • Beautiful Japan pics
  • Amazing pregnant belly
  • A very pampered, very cute pet bunny
  • Dave Gorman's account
  • Tuesday, June 13

    The A to Z of me, me, me

    Stolen shamelessly from this lovely blog.

    Accent: Soft Welsh - Anglicised by living over the border for 10 years. Occasional lapses into full-on Valleys when I'm drunk or with my family.

    Booze: Red wines and real ales in winter. Dry fruity whites and G&Ts in summer. Leffe and Hoegarden all the time.

    Chore I hate: Ironing - life is way too short to remove creases from your bed linen.

    Dogs/cats: Two BWFs (black and white fools), a dog called Blodwen (enthusiastic), a cat called Zebedee (evil).

    Essential electronics: I'm a bit of technophobe, but I couldn't live without my DAB radio and t'internet.

    Favorite perfume/cologne: I don't wear it - putting a load of chemicals straight onto your skin seems so wrong.

    Gold/silver: Silver every time. I've got a white gold wedding ring, but the 'white' bit comes off and it ends up looking brassy - they don't tell you that in the shop.

    Hometown: Aberdare in South Wales. It's not really famous for anything, but it has a lovely Country Park.

    Insomnia: Never - I'm asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow every single night. Think it is the power of exercise.

    Job title: Copywriter. This week I would prefer it to be Photographer. Last week I wanted it to be Gardener. I always want it to be Coffee Shop Owner.

    Kids: Nope. Go through stages of feeling broody, then thinking 'Eurgh, no thanks'. Unlikely to have them naturally anyway, so it's all academic.

    Living arrangements: With Mr Meep and the two B&WFs in a Victorian terrace in a less desirable area of Cardiff.

    Most admired trait: Um, you'd have to ask someone else.

    Number of sexual partners: I'm too shy to say, but it's not very many.

    Overnight hospital stays: None, thankfully.

    Phobia: Those evil, slithery, hissy things with no legs. I have a plan for if I ever meet one though - I will chop it in half (although I'll have probably fainted before I get the chance).

    Quotes: "I've got boobs and a bum and I look good naked - who wants to be a size 8 anyway?" All hail, Lady Charlotte of Church.

    Religion: None, I like to pick the best bits of all of them and make my own.

    Siblings: None - probably speaks volumes.

    Time I usually wake up: 6.30am on weekdays, 8am on the weekend.

    Unusual talent: I can sing a song about bees in Polish.

    Vegetables I refuse to eat: None - love 'em all. I can even handle beetroot now I've discovered roasting it.

    Worst habit: I say 'lush' and 'bonkers' a bit too much.

    X-rays: Only on my teeth (which are dreadful).

    Yummy foods I make: Cakes, of course.

    Zodiac sign: Virgo, but I don't believe in star signs.

    I think blog etiquette means you have to 'tag' someone else to do the same thing. Afro Bev, it's your turn.

    Monday, June 12

    Sunday Scribblings: Mystery

    This prompt is really timely for me, as I’ve spent a lot of time this year thinking about the biggest mystery of all: what’s it all about?

    Some people have spent hours agonising over it, others never give it a second thought.

    One friend likens it to riding on the tube in rush hour. There’s no point rushing your way into the jam-packed centre carriage to arrive all hot, bothered and flustered at the other end. You may as well wander down to the further, less busy, carriage and sit back and enjoy the ride.

    Another friend says that life is all about one thing: love.

    Me? I haven’t got a clue what it’s all about. I don’t know why we’re here. I don’t know where we go when we die. Perhaps it best not to know.

    I often think it’s all about nature. When I’m planting seedlings and I’m up to my elbows in soil that’s made up of thousands of years’ of things that have died and become part of the earth. When I look at the sea that will still be there, ebbing and flowing, a long time after we – and our children and grandchildren – have gone.

    I thought it was about making the most of everything, multi-tasking to do as many things as possible in the short time that we’re here. The I read lots of books on slow and simple living, being in the moment and consciously experiencing everything that we do.

    I’m not a Christian, but I admit that Jesus talked a lot of sense. I’m not a Buddhist, but I think that there might be something in karma. I’m not a Hindu, but I believe that we shouldn’t eat our friends.

    I don’t think I’m going to find the answer, but I’m forming my own little philosophy for living – a pick and mix of the things I’ve read and the things I’ve worked out for myself.

    It’s not about the quest for the biggest house, the fastest car, the most money. It’s not about having power over people or feeling better than anyone else. It’s not about looking after number one.

    It’s about choosing experiences over things, spending time with people you love, treating people as you’d like to be treated yourself. It’s about thinking beyond the bubble that you live in, looking out for other people and after the planet.

    Maybe I have solved the mystery after all?

    Sunday Scribblings is a weekly online creative writing-type exercise. It’s fab – find out more here.

    Sunday, June 11

    Lovely, lovely weather. Lovely, lovely weekend
    What makes the perfect weekend?

    Picnic in the park, with bottles of chocolate beer...



    Finding new flowers to photograph...



    A hot - but happy - spaniel...



    And smiley, smiley faces on a day trip by the sea.



    Oh, and a soundtrack of the new Ed Harcourt album, plus the Jim Noir CD.

    Ah.

    Thursday, June 8

    Sunday Scribblings: Earliest memory

    It was a grey, damp, winter day in the Welsh Valleys. Too cold to go play on the swings in the park or put my tiny green wellies on and splash about in puddles.

    Dad was downstairs reading the paper and Mam was upstairs hoovering. I was entertaining myself with crayons and paper. I’m not sure what I was drawing, but cows and ballerinas and were my favourite subjects circa 1979.

    Bubbling with excitement about my latest creation, I ran up the stairs to show Mam my drawing. I stood on the top stair springing up and down and wafting my multicoloured artwork around.

    I took a step backwards, forgetting where I was standing. The ground wasn’t there, there was only stairs. Stairs which I tumbled down one at a time. Head over heels, hair over toes, little blonde bob over little red shoes. My mother screamed, my dad came running to the bottom of the stairs. As I bounced off the bottom step, he scooped me up in his Popeye arms and carried me over to the brown cord sofa.

    The next thing I remember is being on the sofa, tears wiped away, bruises kissed better, watching Tom and Jerry on the telly, Little Ted at my side, in fleecy clean pyjamas that smelt of Mam’s washing, feeling safe and warm and loved.

    Read more Sunday Scribblings here.

    Wednesday, June 7

    I’ve rekindled an old love affair

    I have a strange relationship with running. I love the idea of running outside in a beautiful place, just me and my thoughts, running, running, running through the trees, breathing in fresh air, brushing leaves with my hands.

    In reality, I run for two minutes, can hardly breathe and have to stop – puffing, panting and gasping for water. Oh, and I usually get a stitch as well.

    But once you get through that pain barrier and into that zone place that athletic types always talk about, the torture turns to pleasure. Your stride gets easier, the movement flows. You look at what’s around you instead of looking at your feet. You stop thinking ‘Why am I putting myself through this?’ and start actually enjoying yourself. You feel as if you could go on forever. When you stop, you feel amazing: alert, refreshed, energised… alive.

    Two years ago, I did the Race For Life. I’d walked it in the past, but this time was determined to run the whole thing in a decent time. I followed the training plan religiously. I’d get up really early on a Saturday morning and jog around Roath Park Lake, dodging between the swans and geese, watching the water sparkle with the reflection of the just-woken-up sun, smiling at other early-risers walking their dogs, riding their bikes or just pondering life from a park bench.

    It was beautiful. After the race, I had grand plans of doing a 10k, then maybe building up to a half marathon. After the race, I didn’t run again.

    Then last year I went on probably my favourite holiday ever – just me and Mr Meep, tootling around Ireland in a campervan. Every morning, I’d get my running gear on and explore whatever beautiful place we’d parked up at the night before. I ran around a lake in County Longford, on deserted beaches on the wild West Coast, along the seafront in Galway Bay. By the time I got back, Mr Meep had whizzed up a delicious breakfast and we’d sit in the sunshine soaking up the views. Running was one of things that made the holiday so special.

    I got back home fitter and full of enthusiasm for something that combines lots of my favourite things: being outside, thinking, endorphins, time to myself. My running shoes have been at the bottom of my wardrobe ever since.

    Two weeks ago, I dusted them off and headed for Bute Park with Blod. I loved it. The passion has been reignited. I wonder how long it will last?

    Tuesday, June 6

    I’ve gone really low-brow

    I’ve swapped The Guardian for Grazia, chevre for chips, foreign films for trash TV.

    It all started when my friend at work gave me a pile of gossip mags. It was a Friday night and I ran a hot bath and lay in it, reading them from cover to cover, finding out what Colleen’s been up to, how Amanda Holden lost her baby weight and what Kerry Mc Fadden thinks about the burning issues of the week (she hopes that Ewan McGregor hasn’t adopted a baby just to copy Brad and Ang).

    I’ve also read an awful lot of chick lit lately. I shouldn’t feel guilty about this. Some of them – like Jane Green and Lisa Jewell – are really good writers. But when I find myself with a copy of a Louise Bagshaw (given to me by a friend and not consciously bought, I must stress), realising it is so clichéd, really badly written (upper middle class English people studying at Oxford do not say things like “That guy is a jerk”) but still enjoying it anyway, it is all wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Listening to Radio 2 in the car last night, I found myself singing along to… oo, I can hardly bring myself to say it… the new Ronan Keeting song.

    I blame Mr Meep. Working two nights a week is fine. I can do my weekly face mask/toe nail painting/eyebrow plucking/general defuzzing session one night, then go on a night out with one of my girl friends the other.

    Two nights in a row though, and I get a bit bored. Two nights in a row followed by a night out with friends, and I start to get a teeny bit lonely and just a tad bored.

    I’ve done some gardening, been for a run, made some nice food, phoned a friend, read my book, had a bath… then I don’t know what to do next. I find my hand drawn to the remote control. I press the red button that switches the TV on. Blimey, it’s been a while. I skip through the channels and find myself on Channel Four, a ‘10 Years Younger Bikini Special’, where they give a woman that’s lost lots of weight… loads of plastic surgery! She’s been a heavy smoker since she was 16, so they rewarded her with a bit of a face lift to get rid of her cat’s bum smoker mouth.

    What a great message for young women – don’t worry girls, eat loads of crap, crash diet and don’t exercise so your skin is all flappy, smoke loads of fags so you look about a hundred. Then, just go on a TV show where they’ll fix it all for you.

    Euw. I feel dirty. I’m going to listen to Radio 4, while reading Salman Rushdie and nibbling on marinated olives.

    Thursday, June 1

    What is wrong with this scene?
    On my way home from work last night I saw a man driving an SUV, sharing his pounding dance music with the public through his open window. He was also talking to someone via his bluetooth headset. He opened a can of Coke, took a few swigs, then threw it out of the window onto the pavement.

    I want to move to Tipi Valley.

    Wednesday, May 31

    I am all for feminism, but...
    The modern woman has it tough. Us 21st Century ladies, we’re meant to have it all: fulfilling career, a great relationship, lasting friendships, a great social life, lots of hobbies, perfect figure, beautiful home.

    My mother came over on Monday and joked about the seedlings I’ve got on the kitchen windowsill that I haven’t planted out yet, the fact I haven’t bought a new kitchen light bulb, the fact that there was cat hair on the curtains - basically, she thinks I am totally inept and that my life is chaotic with no order or organisation. Although I left home over 12 years ago, she still thinks that I am the 18-year-old who lives out of a rucksack and off pasta and Dolmio sauce.

    My mother is super-organised. Her house is always immaculate, she never forgets birthdays or anniversaries, she is always well turned-out. However, my mother has a very different life to me. Firstly, she has never had to work full-time. Secondly, her and my dad have very ‘traditional’ roles. Dad is the breadwinner and does the DIY, the gardening and all the ‘man stuff’. Mam does the shopping, cleaning and cooking. They’ve lived in the same area all their lives so have a small but close circle of friends who also live in the same area. They have a nice life, but it’s quite a simple life too.

    This is where my life differs. I am the breadwinner in our house. I work an 8-hour day and spend an extra two hours travelling to work and back. I have a very energetic doggy who needs walking for at least an hour a day.

    I do 90% of the cooking, plus plan the menus and shopping lists too. I don’t buy anything pre-prepared and cook everything from scratch.

    While my house isn’t a show home, it’s always tidy and we spend every Saturday morning cleaning it.

    I organise all our household budgets and pay the bills. I juggled finances to get Mr Meep though university – and bought and renovated a house at the same time. Unlike most people of my age, I don’t have any debt. None. Not even a student loan or overdraft or anything.

    I’m rarely at home during the evenings – generally go to two aerobics classes a week, do volunteering once a week, plus have lots of different groups of friends so have to juggle seeing them too. On the weekends, we’re often whizzing up and down the country visiting friends – we’ve moved around a lot so know people all over the place.

    Then there’s the added pressure to look good too – to be thin, have nice clothes, a fit body, glowing skin, lovely hair. OK, so I don’t do this bit too well, but I’m past the days of stripy tights and Dr Martens and manage to look presentable when I make a bit of an effort.

    Even if I was a six figure-earning lawyer with a size 6 figure, loads of beautiful children, amazing houses in New York, London and Sydney, a Nobel prize, my mother would still be wondering why I hadn’t found the time to dust the top of my wardrobes or re-paint the kitchen walls.

    I would love, love, love to swap lives with her for just one week so she could see that I don’t sit around reading books and drinking coffee with my friends while my house falls into disrepair around me. Come on Channel 4, commission Life Swap instead of Wife Swap – I’ll be the first guinea pig.
    Something quite shocking has happened

    I have been turned down for a rather crappy job.

    The money wasn’t great but it was close to home and the right sector, plus it was a 30-hour week. It was easy work – updating their website, writing a few leaflets and a bi-monthly newsletter and helping volunteer groups with their marketing and PR.

    When they invited me for interview, they sent me an example of the sort of work they do. I was in shock. It was a newsletter done on a Clip-Art programme in Comic Sans, really badly written, full of typos and, well, really crap.

    I thought I’d go to the interview anyway and see what they were all about. When I got there, I was given a writing test – I had to write a news story. They put me into a room without windows and gave me… a pen and some paper. Yes, that’s right. I had to write a news story on a lined A4 pad using a Bic biro.

    I flew through the interview. The people were lovely, but I still wasn’t convinced that I wanted the job though. The office was a bit grotty. The job was very ‘officy’ and not very creative. Not meaning to sound like I’ve got an inflated head, but I honestly think I was way overqualified for it.

    I have just got a rejection letter.

    What do these people want? I was Deputy Editor of a magazine. I’ve written Annual Reports for big companies. I had things published in The Guardian. I’m organised, articulate, enthusiastic, experienced, great to work with, professional, blah de blah de blah. I even do more than my fair share of making the tea – and I bring home-made cakes in most Fridays.

    I would probably have turned the job down anyway, but that’s not the point.

    Pah.

    The buggers.

    Thursday, May 25

    Janet and Luther were right

    The best things in life are, indeed, free.

    I’m listening to my favourite radio show – the fantastic Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 (sorry, news snobs). They’re talking about money and whether it equals happiness.

    Pah, of course it doesn’t. I don’t have a lot of money. Ok, I’m not exactly on the poverty line, but Mr Meep and I aren’t high earners – nor do we have any aspirations to be.

    So this programme’s got me thinking: what do I really need for happiness?

  • Mr Meep
  • The pets
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Cwtches
  • Health
  • Books
  • Nice food (and a kitchen to cook it in)
  • Walks
  • Nature
  • Music

    I don’t want a wide screen TV, a dish washer, a big house or a fancy car. I don’t need designer clothes, the latest gadgets or fancy holidays in far-off lands. I don’t feel the need to show friends and family I care with expensive presents or to brighten up my dark days with the latest lipstick shade.

    Today, the sun is shining. Mr Meep is picking me up from work to go to my favourite beach with our cute little doggie.

    Cost = nothing. Happiness = lots.

    Disclaimer: Although the above free things do make me happy, I would never say no to any of the following: a meal out at a nice restaurant, a bottle of sauvignon blanc, sparkly lip balm, cookery books, cute clothes.
  • Friday, May 19

    I feel so frumpy
    Last night I went late-night shopping. While wandering through Howells – full of trendy clothes, expensive cosmetics and shop assistants that look you up and down - I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror.

    I was wearing a red coat, a green and blue dress, some flat, black, mid-calf boots that were a mistake but I’m feel too guilty to get rid of, and thick black tights. I looked a right state. My hair is straggly, in really bad condition and v obviously a DIY highlighting job. My skin – usually clear – has broken out in spots.

    I looked like a combination of Sue Pollard and The She Devil.

    I went home and felt disgusting, unattractive, ugly, frumpy and just… bleurgh.

    I need a makeover, I need a stylist, I need a haircut, I need Trinny and Susannah.

    Buying lots of clothes doesn’t go with my Womble philosophy and I feel guilty for spending money (it’s the Catholic guilt mixed with the anti-consumerist beliefs). But desperate times and all that.

    Most of the clothes in my wardrobe were bought pre-2002 before Mr Meep became a student and we had to tighten the purse strings, so I shouldn’t feel too guilty for spending. And if I try to get second-hand stuff or buy online from ‘ethical’ shops, then I can rest easy in my bed at night.

  • Loose 10lbs to get back to normal weight
  • Get hair colour sorted out by a professional (and not get Mr Meep to try and do it with a £3 kit from Boots)
  • Find some shoes for summer that I can a) walk a long way in and b) aren’t frumpy
  • Buy a new summer wardrobe for under £200, involving cute tops and plain skirts that I can mix and match

    I will be stylish, I will feel fabulous. Well, maybe not, but I’ll be a whole lot better than I am now. Hurrah! I might even be brave enough to post some before and after photos.
  • Thursday, May 18

    Words
    Last night was the second night of my volunteering. It's going really well. I'm helping a really lovely bloke in his early 20s, who's painfully shy and severely dyslexic.

    Even after two sessions, he seems a bit more confident. He's reading better and has come out of his shell a little bit.

    I feel like I'm actually contributing something - a feeling I've never, ever had in my normal job. Ain't altruism brilliant?

    When I was on my way home last night, I was thinking about how difficult it must be if words don't come naturally to you.

    Almost everything I do involves words. I'm a copywriter, so I work with words. When I'm not writing words for work, I'm using words for pleasure.

    I read. All the time: books, magazines, newspapers, websites.

    I organise my life by writing lists and I carry a notebook everywhere with me to scribble down ideas.

    I write my blogs.

    I'm learning Welsh - more words.

    Words, I bloody love 'em, me.

    Wednesday, May 17

    The Mobile Phone Mystery
    A couple of weeks ago, I lost my mobile phone. I wasn’t too bothered about this as I’m not a big fan of the mobile – too intrusive, give people an license to be late, probably fry our brains, and the ultimate symbol of consumerism. We were perfectly happy without them 10 years ago, now they’re a ‘must-have’ for everyone. Plus there are a squillion of them clogging up landfills and leaking nasty things all over the place.

    Anyway, I always end up leaving mine at home and I never, ever remember to charge it up, so it’s hardly worth me having one. I was cross at losing everyone’s numbers, but I felt more of a sense of relief when it was gone.

    After a week, I hadn’t replaced it. People were in shock.

    Mr Meep: “You have to have a phone – what if you’re out late and you need to ring me or I don’t know where you are?”. He always knows where I am. If I’m at work, we’re on MSN. If he’s at work, he rings me at home for a chat. And if we’re not at work, we’re generally at home. Together.

    But he panics. I once went to the pub after work and forgot to tell him I was going. By 7pm he thought I was dead in a ditch. I was drunk in Cheltenham.

    My mother: “You must have a phone – what if the car breaks down?” Er… I drive maybe once a fortnight tops. And Mr Meep is usually with me. And he has a phone. And if he doesn’t there are phone boxes or those emergency telephones that get you through to the RAC.

    My dad has an old phone of Mr Meep’s that he carried with him “in case of emergencies”. He never uses it, so insisted that I have his. I said no, thanks, but I didn’t really need one. The next day, he popped in to drop it off.

    It was sitting in my kitchen, uncharged, for about a fortnight. Last weekend, I gave in. I charged it up and spent way too long typing in everyone’s numbers one by one on the annoying keypad I wasn’t used to and generally getting very cross. I don’t think there’s anything I would have liked to be doing less. Ever. Well, maybe clubbing baby bunnies to death wouldn’t be that great either, nor standing in a barrel full of squirming s.n.a.k.e.s. But this was bad.

    On Sunday we were going out for a walk. Mr Meep went to get his walking shoes from the car boot. He came in, walked up to me and held out his hand.

    There was my lost mobile phone. It was in his shoe.

    Answers on a postcard please.

    Tuesday, May 16

    When I turned 30, I did what all 30-something women do...

    I turned to the self-help books. It all started with Carl Honore's In Praise of Slow, which isn't a self-help book as such, more a sort of philosophy book about how we all rush around too much and need to learn to take things a lot more slowly.

    Ironically, I got so into it that I read it two days.

    Next was Feel The Fear... And Do It Anyway, one of the classics and very inspiring indeed.

    A friend is also a fan of the self-help book and has loaned me a stack of them to give me enough guidance to last for the next few months.

    Next up is The Journey, Brandon Bays' account of how she made her basketball-sized tumour disappear through letting her emotions flood out and drinking broccoli juice.

    I've also got another of Dr Jeffers' books: End the Struggle and Dance With Life.

    I'm particularly looking forward to I'm OK, You're OK - I'm not sure what that's about but maybe this blurb from the back cover might help.

    I'm OK, you're not OK
    I'm not OK, you're OK
    I'm not OK, you're not OK
    I'm OK, you're OK

    Can you become slow, get everyone to be OK, heal your emotions, dance with life and feel the fear all at the same time?

    Saturday, May 13

    Hideaway Saturday


    Today was probably the most boring day ever. We hid away in the house to avoid the hideousness of a squillion football fans in Cardiff to watch the FA Cup final. Eurgh.

    You couldn't even escape them in Splott. There was a stretch limo full of them whizzing through the streets shouting things out of the window. Eurgh.

    However, I did manage to do lots of useful things, like cleaning and washing and sorting and tidying.

    And I did lots and lots of cooking - including these yummy but evil chocolate brownies. I'm now off round to a friends house to eat them. With wine. Yum.

    Friday, May 12

    The Friday list
    I've got 10 minutes before I rush off and catch the train, so it's going to be a quick one. And as I've been having a reflective sort of week...

    Things I would like to achieve in my life
  • Live in an eco-house
  • Own a coffee shop
  • Visit Japan
  • Learn to sing
  • Live by the sea
  • Write a book
  • Own a campervan
  • Have some bouncing babies

    That's all quite achievable really. I'm easily pleased, me.