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 clich├ęd, 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.