Dream On

Afternoon everyone,

I got to thinking about dreams today after having a very vivid one last night. Turns out in my quiet, eight hours sleep – I had time to plan and attend a wedding. My own! Everyone was there even the SEN kid that I sometimes look after.. and his parents! Ha. I’ve heard before that ‘dreams are supposed to be a wish of our unconscious’. Mmmm… I think sometimes it can be. The dream was very nice and all but I not desperately needy to get married particularly. I think sometimes we have dreams just because of certain things that have already happened or been said. You see, ever since we got back from France, everyone keeps asking me if my boyfriend proposed whilst we were in Paris! Seems the thing to do – cliché if you ask me! So I think that’s why I dreamt it!

I’ve always been interested in dreams and have a fair few books to explain certain things that you dream about. Seems your unconscious is having a party most of the time. I have one dream analysis book called The Classic 1000 Dreams and I swear every explanation is negative and tends to lead to death. This was the first book that I bought as a teenager and imagine how freaked out I got. All these bad things that were going to happen to me and it made me not want to question any of my dreams anymore! Take nakedness… yeh we have all had that dream where we are naked in front of a room of people. Nightmare! This books says that dreaming of a naked man means ‘fear and terror’ yet dreaming of a naked woman means ‘joy and purity’ – woah, feminists would have a field day with that! It says if you dream that you are naked yourself then it reflects poverty and it means that you spend too much money/time on your appearance. Taken quite literally that one – not so sure about that! My other, more realistic book called, Dictionary of Dreams. Understanding dreams and their messages says that being naked and embarrassed in a dream can mean that you are scared of how people see the real you. You are vulnerable about your weaknesses and them being exposed. That seems more like it to me. But the thing is it is always just interpretation because none of us know for sure or if they are even telling us anything at all. Very interesting though.

It always surprises me when people say they don’t dream. Or don’t remember their dreams. Everyone dreams every night. Sigmund Freud said that people tend to have 4-5 dreams per night during the most deep part of sleep; REM (Rapid Eye Movement) – no not the eighties band! I think each dream only lasts so many seconds too – even though in your dream it may feel like hours or even a full day. Most people tend to just remember the last dream of the night. But have you ever had it when you woke up in the early hours of the morning and remembered a dream in great detail, went back to bed, woke up again and remembered another dream? I think you can train yourself to remember dreams and if you think hard enough when you wake up and try to put them into words, it gradually becomes easier. Also sometimes you may just know one thing that you dreamt about or a person and by seeing that thing or person later in the day it is almost like your dream ‘breaks’. You know when people say..’oooh you just broke my dream’ and it all comes flooding back to you.

I still remember a dream I had when I was a child. I was flying over our local town. It was so real and such a fun dream to have that I have never forgotten it. That is quite a common dream to have. Freud, who seems to be sex obsessed, seems to think it has a sexual nature – surprise surprise! Yet my book doesn’t expand on his theory unfortunately. It also says, though, that it is about direction and finding your way in life. Take a look at Freud, though, if you never have. Very interesting! Everything seems to relate to sex – like dreaming of a train going into a tunnel, think we can work out the imagery of that one 😉

I actually have the above picture on a fridge magnet. Explains a lot! And seems to sum up a lot of Freud’s ideas!

I think it’s funny when the real world and dreams crossover. Like when you dream you are on a bike or on a cliff or you just fall over. You get that feeling of falling and you actually ‘fall’ in bed and wake up because of the strong feelings. Or, one I have quite frequently, is when you have a dream where you keep going to the toilet to relieve yourself yet you never feel the relief of emptying your bladder. And it turns out you need the toilet  in real life and that’s why the feeling doesn’t go away.

Then, of course, there is the whole other meaning to the word ‘dreams’. Hopes and dreams. Our wishes for the future. What to we dream to become or to do? Maybe our night dreams help us to do this and give us messages to help us on this journey. So don’t ignore them – you can see in them whatever you wish and it may just help you to understand or make a decision about something. Dreaming of that train and tunnel may help you make a decision for this evening 😉

So sweet dreams this evening and think tomorrow morning, what did I dream? And what does it mean?

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

Photographic Memories

My name is Samantha Gray and I am a photo-holic.  Phew, feels so good to say that. I just love photos! If I’m not taking them, I’m looking at them or I’m browsing Facebook at random photos!

Remember how I said that after my holiday, it was mainly the thought of the photos that kept me going? Well today was the day! I picked up 300 photos… no I didn’t get that snap happy of the Eiffel tower… these are from the whole year. Italy, nights out, olympic torch relay and of course the recent France trip. I was so excited to collect them so that I could spend the afternoon sorting frames, albums and mentally reliving the good times I have had this year.

When I’m looking through my photos, I always think the same thing. No not that I look good… or damn right stupid on some! But the fact there are so many random strangers on my photos…. hanging in the background thankyou very much, I am no stalker! It always makes me wonder, did they know they were in my Eiffel tower pic? Were they aware that they were in the distance of our drunken groupy photo? Did that man know that his head just blocked my view of that beautiful plant? And what’s more, how many photos out there do you think that you and I are in? Strange thought. I have seen a page on Facebook where people upload photos that don’t belong to them… like if they have found photos or memory cards. Then if people recognise the photos they can claim them back. I found a memory card once. It was when I worked for Woolworths and the shop was closing down. I found an SD memory card behind a dusty shelving unit. I checked it out and it had some cruise photos on of a middle-aged couple. I never did anything about it, partly because I didn’t know what I could do but mainly because there was no telling how long it had been there and I thought the couple would have given up their photographic search by then, sadly. Anyway, I think there should also be a Facebook page or website when people can post their own photos of randomers and see if anyone recognises themselves. What photo fun!

So, why do we take photos? Because we all like to stand in a freeze frame next to random monuments, giving a wide grin and muttering ‘cheese’ whilst secretly thinking – ‘Take the damn photo’? Noo. It’ s because we want memories. Physical evidence of our happy moments. Not the sad and unhappy ones. Note that we never say mid-fight with our loved one, ‘hang on a mo love, just getting the camera – give it the finger for me. I really want to remember this argument!’ How funny would that be? Because, it is all our moments and memories, good and bad, that create who we are and get us where we are today. Taking photos and keeping albums is a way of selecting certain memories to remember… zooming in on those events that we want to….and deleting those we aren’t so keen on.

Like I said in an older post Adieu Internet , I actually like to print my photos off because I don’t like the fact that my photos are just on social networking sites. What if they close down taking all my memories with it? Don’t get me wrong, I upload photos to Facebook and couldn’t wait to put the one of me with the Eiffel tower as my profile pic! But I mainly get excited about the hard copies. Like I said, I’ve had a busy afternoon and created two collage frames; each one dedicated to the famous monuments I have climbed (read about them in I-fell off the Tower!). I also completed a collage album of our recent holiday and put all the nights out ones in one too. Great fun! I have a whole cabinet of photo albums and I have to say they are probably my most prized possession (along with my teenage diaries) and the first thing I would save from a fire (though I doubt I could even carry half!) They go back as far as primary school and I love looking through them. Either alone or with a group of friends. They always bring back many stories because that visual aid takes us back to that same time and place. I actually have one photo where I was at my GBF’s ‘dinner party’ (we were only 15 and thought we were really grown up) and we all got a bit tipsy! Couldn’t handle the alcohol back then 😉  – anyway this photo caught the exact split second of me falling over into a chair. The second after the camera had clicked I was on the floor in pain with some cracked ribs. Ouch. I would probably never remember that if I didn’t have that photo.

My point really then is that none of have photographic memories. We can’t remember every detail of every event. Probably because our memories these days are taken up with pin numbers, passwords and log-ins – argh all these numbers! We need photos to relive the past. I always dream of sharing all my albums with my children one day – probably boring the nappies off them! It’s like when a song reminds us of a certain time. We remember where we were and who we were with and what we were doing. They give us our memories, memories which we then pass onto those younger than us – isn’t that the whole point of life? Living it and telling it.

I suppose we do sometimes take our own mental photographs of times when something happened. Flashbulb memory they call it in Psychology. Like when Princess Diana died. I remember we were getting into the car that morning and my Dad turned on the radio and we found out like that. I was only 13. Or when 9/11 happened. Funnily enough though I don’t remember when I found out about that – it must have been when I got home from school that day. What I do remember though, clear as a photograph, is standing in yr11 geography doing a minute silence for it a few days or a week later.

So cherish your photographs, they are a part of what you have done and who you are. As long as you don’t spend too long looking at them and live in the past ; get out there and live so that you can take some more!

To finish, here is one of my ‘randomer’ photos off holiday – if anyone recognises anyone then let me know!

Can you see yourself??

 

 

 

 

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

 

 

 

Time for Rainy Days and Looming Mondays

Well what a day…  raining all day!! Rubbish! I also can’t believe that it has nearly been a week since we got back off holiday. I can’t decide which went faster; long lazy days in the sun or rainy days of boredom here!

I don’t just have end of holiday blues but also end of six-week holiday blues. Back to work next Monday! I know all you mothers and fathers out there are thinking, ‘Yes just one more week to survive and then I get my house and freedom back!’ I just can’t believe how quickly these last 5 and a half weeks have gone! In some ways though I will be glad to get back to work. I think after a large amount of time off, you sort of lose your purpose in life. I’ve noticed that I am always happier after I have written my blog… it’s like my ‘work’ for the day haha. So thank you for all those out there who are keeping me sane and reading it everyday!

So yes I have started to become bored – and I could blame the weather. But it isn’t just that. Let’s take yesterday as an example. I had to stay in all day to wait for a delivery (which never bloody came, typical!) and I was bored out of my mind. It wasn’t evening raining, in fact it was kind of sunny for part of the day. I think that can make it worse. When it is sunny and you are stuck inside it is like you have no friends to go out and play with or anything fun to do. You feel like the sun is blazing through the windows punishing you into guilt; that you should be out making the most of its rays! Whereas today it has rained all day and at least I could make peace with the fact that it was okay to stay inside as most other people would be!

Maybe I am bored just because I have too much time to fill. Six weeks is a long time for anyone; plenty of time to meet up with people, do those jobs you’ve been wanting to do all year, plan a summer holiday (and go on it!) and you think you will be craving some time to just ‘be’ to watch Tv, go on the computer, read (and give reviews!) etc – but it soon gets boring. I have always been fascinated by the idea of ‘killing time’. That we have so much of it and are trying to murder it. I have this image of myself with a knife stabbing at my day. Odd. And in the next breath, people say ‘life is short’ and they wish they had more time. Seems poor time cannot win! Why would we want to destroy one of the things we cannot buy more of? Something that is so precious. What we really want, is not for time to go quicker, but for something more exciting to happen in that time. My trouble this week is that all of my friends and family are either at work or on holiday! I was asked to meet up with work colleagues on Friday but it was the one day I am busy – I’m taking my Gran to lunch for her birthday! Typical! Time plods on slowly for a week and then wants to get taken up by two things at once.

I decided in the end, that this week, I should just enjoy my free time. I should take pleasure in having nothing to do; as next week I’ll be back at work and my time will be consumed with arrogant teenagers! So I am going to watch the DVDs that I never watch, play on games, do some more writing (I have been writing a book  for over a year – maybe I’ll share sections with you on here one day) and generally embrace and hug my free time – not pull a knife out on it!

So don’t let the rainy days get you down… whether you have work today, tomorrow or Monday don’t let that get you down either. Think of each day you work as a day in lieu for yourself; when it rains, you can sit on your bum guilt free!

See you tomorrow – whatever the weather brings!

XSXS

Ginger Rules

Good evening people!

Thought I would dedicate today’s post to my good ginger friend, as it is her birthday! She is very defensive about her hair colour and reinforces the  fact that it is ‘auburn’ every time we call it ginger – which we do all the more to wind her up naturally 😉

It got me thinking and wondering why there is such a stigma attached to people with ginger hair. It is still seen as so negative to have ginger hair and in our society they are victimised also. If it was taken as seriously as racism then people would be in trouble a lot! With nicknames like ‘gingernut’, ‘ginga’, ‘carrot top’ etc. I and I just don’t get it because it is a gorgeous, rich hair colour. And no I am not ginger and trying to defend my corner… I am brunette and can just see this from outside the hair circle.

People always say things like, ‘oooh I wouldn’t want my child to be ginger.’ Or ‘ooh she is pretty for a ginger,’ or ‘he is really fit – shame he is ginger!’ Which is just ridiculous – it’s a hair colour at the end of the day! I once dyed my hair ginger – by accident I must admit. I never lived it down for ages! It’s really silly because as I say, it is a nice colour and why don’t people dye it ginger? Blonde hair dye sales tend to go up as many gingers turn to that. But ‘blondes’ aren’t without their own stereotypes are they? Dumb, bimbos and all that. Think I’d rather be known as a fiery ginger!

My ginger friend (the one whose birthday it is today – because believe it or not I have quite a few 😉 ) told me that her ginger friend was on holiday the other week and had a funny story. Now I can’t remember where she said the holiday was now – I’ve just text her so I can tell you but seems she is having too much birthday fun! So I may be able to tell you in the comments later. Anyway, on holiday there was a bar that held a ‘ginger night’ once a week! Gingers would go from far and wide and other people (with a fetish for gingers maybe or just curious drinkers?) If someone pulled a ginger they would get a free shot! I thought this was hilarious! I made the point that if you were a ginger and pulled a ginger then surely you should get two shots? What a great way to get drunk! I wonder if the shots were all orange in colour like… whisky, erm… can’t think of anymore – orange vodka maybe? Cointreau has an orange flavour? And surely ginger beer has to be on offer! So if you see a bar like this then do go take a look.

I also discovered that there is a National ‘hit a ginger’ day on November 2oth. One for the diaries people! Honestly you can’t make this stuff up and it seems there is a ‘National’ day for everything!

There also seems to be rules that occur when you are a ginger, as if they don’t have enough to be concerned with. Like they shouldn’t wear red because it clashes with their locks or they can’t stay out in the sun too long because they tend to have very pale, sensitive skin… well I think they should be ginger and proud and wear red and stay in that sun and get redder if they choose!

Think of all the good ginger things out there, like gingerbread, cake, biscuits and the spice itself. Very warming and good for you – just like our ginger friends! So if you have a ginger friend then celebrate their uniqueness and take them to a bar for free shots… oh and maybe avoid them on Nov 20th 😉

If you have any funny ginger stories then let me know!

Some famous ginger faces to leave you with……

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

A Cake of Cheese

Evening folks….

My bank holiday startedwith a walk this morning and then, with a worry that I had minus calories for the day,  I decided to make a cheese cake! It is my favourite thing to make and I like to think of it as my ‘signature’ dish. I always make a chocolate cheesecake for special occasions…or just a Friday night haha…. I actually ripped the recipe off Gordon Ramsey’s Wife as it was in a magazine. It is made with the best dark chocolate and is ooh so calorific and gooood! But that is not what today’s blog is about. Oh no. Today… I decided to go over to the not so dark side and make a white chocolate cheesecake, which is in fact a recipe off my aunty in australia…or whereoever she ripped the recipe from 😉

It got me thinking why is it called cheese cake? I used to think the whole ‘cheese’ thing was a myth but yes it does in fact have cheese in it of the soft variety. But why cake?! To me cakes are spongy and I have never met a cheesecake like that. The reason I tend to make cheesecakes is because they can rarely go wrong. Cakes can fail to rise, be too dry, taste too eggy etc. Cheesecakes may not set that well but this will not take away from the taste. A few of mine have decided to combine base with mixture when the base hasn’t set (this was the time I used Oreos) or they have been all gloopy or sometimes patches have chocolates have shown when the chocolate had started to set before the cheese part. But it still always tastes amazing. So yeh why is it called ‘cake’ when it is so different? If anyone knows then do tell. I started thinking about Jaffa Cakes and how even though the name they have always been debated to be either cakes or biscuits. I can understand this as they are dunkable like biscuits and a similar size and shape yet they are spongy like cake. But no, cheesecake I just don’t get.

So this afternoon I set to work on my cheesecake. The trouble is that there are always extra biscuits and chocolate that I tend to munch my way through as I cook; meaning the last thing I want to do with the end result is eat it!!! Sure I’ll have a go though later 😉 I love melting chocolate and mixing the soft cheese, condensed milk and cream… oh so good. All these lovely sweet liquids. Anyway before you dehydrate from dribbling too much, I’ll share the recipe with you and a pic from today’s attempt. (Hopefully my aunty won’t tell me after this that the recipe is a family secret and one I was meant to take to my grave 😉 )

White Chocolate Cheesecake

Ingredients

185 g of crushed plain chocolate digestives (or any you prefer – I don’t recommend Oreos!)

90g butter, melted

500g cream cheese, softened

400g condensed milk

200g white chocolate, melted

300ml single cream

1 tablespoon of gelatine (you can get sachets)

1/4 cup of boiling water

100g dark chocolate, melted

Method

  1. Crush the biscuits (in a food processor if you are lucky or I just bash with a rolling pin for 20 min!)
  2. Add the melted butter to the biscuit crumbs and mix. Press into a 23cm springform tin and refrigerate.
  3. Beat cream cheese with the condensed milk (put white choc to melt as you do this)
  4. Add melted white chocolate and then beat in to the mixture with the cream.
  5. Mix the gelatine with the boiling water and stir until dissolved. Mix it to the cheesecake mixture.
  6. Take the base out of the fridge, which should now be firm. Pour the cheesecake mixture onto it.
  7. Melt the dark chocolate and with a table spoon, mix it through your cheese cake to create dark chocolate swirls.
  8. Put into the fridge to set for a few hours
  9. Eat… after a healthy dinner… because it all balances out then right and you can eat guilt free?
Mmmmmmm….

 

So, I hope you enjoy and maybe another day I’ll take you over to the dark side and share my other chocolate cheesecake recipe with you 😉

Have a good evening, hopefully with some form of cake – preferably the cheese variety!

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

I-fell off the Tower…

Afternoon people… life after holiday is a tad boring. The thing that keeps me going during the post holiday blues is the thought of having all the holiday snaps printed, framed and albumed! So today I have been out and bought huge collage frames to display the lovely French monuments and also the Italian highlights of Pisa where I visited at Easter.

The mighty Eiffel

I didn’t really fall off the tower haha. (Wondering though – is that why it is called ‘Eiffel.. as in I -fell?’)….. no I didn’t…but I could have! I’m not a fan of heights, which is why I am so proud of myself for climbing (and lifting) my way to the top…. and also climbing to the top of a crazy leaning tower earlier in the year! I don’t let my fear of heights stop me doing things but I do go a little funny when I look over the edge… and even if I didn’t fall over, I think my heart might have leaped off a few times.

For the Eiffel tower, we walked towards it on our first evening and everything seemed to peaceful. We decided to go up it because it seemed so quiet and we smugly thought that no one else would think of doing it at night. Ha! We walked round a corner and there was miles of queues, probably as the tower is tall. Seems everyone in Paris had the same idea. I was actually quite surprised at how cheap it was to go up the tower – 10 euros (But a bit dearer if you got the lift up). This was because I was automatically comparing it to the tower of Pisa, where it cost 15 euros! Logically, to me, the Eiffel should have cost more with it being grander, lighting up and being 320 metres tall. The Pisa tower is only a measly 55.8 metres!! yet costs more – those damned Italians!

Anyway, the queues were too huge, so we decided to come back the next evening, a tad earlier. We did and managed to get in straight away. We had gone for dinner before and I wanted to wear a pretty dress and heels – as you do on holiday! So I made my bloke promise that we would get the lift option as my poor feet were on their own shoe towers already. This was agreed and as we were waiting to pay we heard the French lady cashier tell this couple off; ‘you need to speak to tell me what you want you know, it makes it very difficult you know!’ It seemed they were probably not confident to talk in French so opted for no language at all. We were laughing at this and thought we would have no trouble as we had been ordering in restaurants in French etc. We had a swift exchange and into the tower we went…… except my boyfriend and forgotten to ask for the lift option!!! Walking it was.

We did it though. And I have to admit it was better because we got to see every floor in detail and had a good old drink too before going up to the next floor!!! You had to get a lift to the final floor anyway so my tired feet got a little rest. We had to wait 45 min though to get up and to get down!! Very popular! I felt okay up there but couldn’t look over the edge immediately and I also felt a little queasy when my boyfriend leaned over…… but the champagne we had up there eased this a little! So yes, I went up to the top of the Eiffel and didn’t fall over and I also made it down – hurrah!!

The drunken tower of Pisa

Back in April, I went to Pisa with two friends. Me and one mate walked up the leaning tower whilst the other mate stayed firmly on the ground and watched us from below. Typically, it was the windiest day we had experienced whilst in Italy, which doesn’t bode well when the tower is nearly falling over anyway. But still, I feel I can relate to the leaning tower as I spend most of my time on holiday drunkenly leaning too! We made it to the top – in trainers! It was so blowy and you could really feel the ‘lean’ and I thought we could easily have been swept off into the Italian air! But we didn’t… again I plucked up courage after a while and looked over the edge – even gave my mate a wave at the bottom. There was amazing views of Pisa… and the thing I love about Italy and also France is that all the buildings are so pretty (but not always on the inside as you learn in yesterday’s post Riches to Rags to Riches!) and I could look at them all day.

So yes this year has been a good year of travel and I have conquered two of the world’s monuments and survived! Haha…. thank god for French and Italian wine (and champagne) to make that upwards journey a little more bearable for Acrophobic me! At least I don’t have to do it on a daily basis…. even though our stairs are pretty steep…can’t say the views at the top are as pretty though 😉

Onwards and upwards,

See you tomorrow!

XSXS

 

Riches to Rags to Riches

Afternoon gang,

Thought I should fill you in a little about my holiday escapades. We went to a few different places in France, staying in three different accommodations. they were very different and I just have to share with you the contrast  that we experienced.

We got to Paris and arrived at our hotel to be told that our room had been upgraded…. to a lower floor funnily enough. It was lovely though as it had its own little courtyard. The room was great and had air con, which was very welcome in the 30 odd degree heat!! I’m not sure which my boyfriend was more excited by – the mini bar or the fact that we had twin beds!! No, it wasn’t that he couldn’t bear to share a bed with me any longer he just decided that this was the perfect way to sleep. Two single beds pushed together. I tend to hog space you see and he loved the fact that he had his own bed but was still next to me! It also had the perfect line down the middle so I couldn’t easily claim i was on ‘my side’ when I wasn’t!!

As for the mini bar, you would think we normally lived in squalor! I reminded him that it would be very expensive… but we later discovered that in Paris, the prices all around in bars and restaurants were ‘mini bar’ prices! So we enjoyed a wine and beer as we got ready, freshly chilled. And I took advantage of the Toblerone when we came back to the hotel after a day of sightseeing!

So yes, we had luxury. Lovely, white fluffy towels (why they always so amazing in hotels??), a bath (we don’t have one at home so even in the heat, I insisted on having one – wine by my side too!), the tempting mini-bar and lovely, separate beds all to be enjoyed with the wonderful invention of air con!

2 nights later and we left for Evian where we to spend 4 nights. The accommodation there was the reason we planned the whole trip. My boyfriend’s workmate was loaning us a flat there to say thanks for some work my bloke had done for him. It belongs to his mother-in-law and we were allowed it for free! Great! Free yes but oh it came at a price. We came crashing down to humble, domestic, unclean reality. I just want to say first that I am truly grateful that we had the flat and we wouldn’t have been able to have afforded the rest of the trip of we hadn’t had it for free. But i just have to tell you how yuk it was. It is the lady’s main home and there was clutter everywhere. Honestly, the toilet room was surrounded by a big green tub, which I can only assume was weed killer. The bathroom had a big, fold-up washing line in the bath! The barbecue stood proudly by the sink in the bathroom also. There was two fold-up beds proppned up against the double bed in the bedroom, along with sun loungers – so we had to shimmy to get into bed. The wardrobe was crammed full of her clothes and a standing rail in the living room was also (but I managed to hang up some of mine on that too.)

The kitchen had every gadget and utensil you could imagine with some grime added in for good measure. It had a portable, two hob cooker that had a note saying ‘Do not use the cooker until the water has heated up or the electricity will trip.’ Weird. There was also a fold-up garden table and more sun loungers and plastic chairs all propped up in the kitchen. No where to move. We had to move all this stuff mentioned outside onto the balcony and in the garden to make room for ourselves, let alone out stuff.

I hated to think it, as I said I am grateful that we didn’t have to pay (I would have been pretty p*ssed off if we had to pay to be fair!), but I would have been ashamed for anyone to see that I lived like that, let alone loan it out to extended friends and family! I also felt angry at her. Totally unreasonable… but I thought ‘God, you are so lucky to be able to afford a flat like this with a great view of Lake Evian and this is how you treat it!’ Makes you think some people just don’t deserve money. So riches to rags indeed. We spent the next four days out as much as possible or on the balcony! We didn’t use the cooker hob once but had a go with the barbecue – rude not to when it was standing there waiting to be used! I told my boyfriend to tell his friend the flat was ‘well equipped’ (a positive spin on cluttered) and ‘had a great view of the lake’ (rather than a horrible view inside) and had a brilliant balcony (not a horrible living space inside) – that’s how horrible properties get sold right?

For our last night we went to Reims. I was glad to leave the flat but was not pleased that all my clothes now smelled of ‘old lady’. We got to our hotel and was in luxury again – yay! Another great room. I did panick though because I opened a door and found a toilet – haha – I wondered where the shower was?! My boyfriend swiftly opened an amazing glass painted door to reveal an amazing shower room (no barbecue and washing line included!). We had a mini bar again, but didn’t indulge in the 35 euro champagne – not that into ‘riches’! The hotel had a pool… which we had to ourselves when we went for a swim that afternoon. We had gone from shimmying around a crowded flat to a big, open swimming pool to ourselves. Bliss. There was also a steam and sauna – places where we were meant to get hot, not just a flat with no air-con! It was great. Back to riches again for the end of our holiday.

Now we are back home, in our three bed semi – and I think it is somewhere in between! But we have a bigger fridge and the wine in it is free (or paid for very cheaply on the ferry ride home!)

Whether you have brilliant or rubbish accommodation, you mustn’t let it spoil your holiday because no matter what it’s like, it always gives you a story to tell  😉

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

50 Shades of Opinion… by Miss Gray

Hi guys, Iim back! Had a lovely holiday but thought my first post back would be a review of 50 Shades of Grey since I know you’re all dying to know what I thought…..

My first thought, funnily enough, was finding it odd to see ‘Grey’ with an ‘e’ written as a name and the colour written ‘gray’ with an ‘a’. I know, with all the sex.. why is this my first thought?! Well it’s annoying since I spend most of my life telling people that my name is Gray with an ‘a’. Damn Americans confusing things!

Before I read the book I was told it was badly written… do I agree with this? Yes I do. Thank god I do really. I would have been a bit concerned if I couldn’t tell the bad writing what with me having an English degree and all. It was readable yes and no worse than your average chick lit but the things that annoyed me the most: the repetition of phrases… I lost count of how many times Grey had a ‘ghost of a smile’ or the ‘trace of a smile’ and whenever Ana had an orgasm… ‘I shattered into a thousand/million pieces.’ E L James… heard of a thesaurus?? Get it out and vary how you write! There were also a few sentences that didn’t make sense and had poor expression. The characters were poorly developed too. I know Grey is meant to have so many levels and have ’50 shades’ but a lot of the time his moods just didn’t seem believable and I doubt anyone would be quite that changeable unless they had bi-polar disorder.

Ana also annoyed me because she seemed to confident within herself and her studies. She was a university student who seemed quite ‘normal’ and hung around with popular, outgoing people, yet she had never touched alcohol or had sex. I know, I know, it could be true but in the way she told the story it just wasn’t convincing. She was willing to drive a long distance to a town and interview a complete stranger yet became a blubbering wreck when she see’s him. Then all of a sudden he likes her ‘fast mouth’ but she blushes all the time and before we know it she is sex-mad minx who is willing to try bondage. I just didn’t really get who she was really meant to be. She was oh so confident to write to him on email and as I said, used fast comebacks in person but she couldn’t voice her concerns to him at any given point. She had been studying English and was going into publishing, so shouldn’t she be verbal and articulate? Yet, she can’t seem to tell him that she is not sure if she wants to be hit indeed for pleasure or pain. Weird.

It is the fastest selling paperback of all time. I find this depressing. I can see why people want to read it, yes. But is this what people seem to look for and need from a good book; good sex and bad writing? It’s such a shame because it could have been so much better. Will I be reading the next one? Sadly, yes I will. I want to see how it turns out. I don’t think the same reasons keep me turning the page though as they did for most people. People seem obsessed with the sex in it. It is very descriptive, if not too repetitve at times, interesting and shocking. But to be honest, sex takes up about a half of the book and after the first five or so times, I’m a bit like ‘Oh here we go again.’ Even with his ‘Room of Pain’ I don’t think there are enough different ways to talk about sex as it is mentioned. I was more interested in seeing how their relationship developed and I kept turning those pages to discover more about Christian Grey, who we discover had a lot of pain and lack of love in his life. So, it’s the psychological side I’m the most interested in… yeh yeh the sex is good too but like I say there is just too much of it…. I like them to talk so we can discover more about the characters and I was secretly hoping that they developed further…. I’m still waiting.

I also liked Kate and Elliot. They seem to be a constant contrast of what a ‘normal’ relationship is like and makes us think of Grey and Ana; ‘god their relationship is messed up!’ The parents of Ana and Christian are all interesting characters but we don’t really see them enough for them to fully develop. I think there was one part where Ana phoned her Mum and we got a little history about her and then before we know it, she is phoning her Step-Dad and we hear about him… and I’m thinking Sloowww down, I was just digesting the new information about the mother.

It is worth a read yes but if you take away the sex then you are left with a boy meets girl, boy doesn’t want to commit scenario and let’s face it, that’s been done 50 million times before. But if you are like me, you will want your own opinion on the fast ever selling paperback. And I’ll keep you posted when I have read the other two books 😉

Hope you all had a good week and let me know if you have been reading or have read the 50 Shades books too!

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

Adieu Internet!

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good bye! No I haven’t had enough of blogging already, I’m just saying bye for now and going on holiday for a week. Not sure why there is no French in the Sound of Music song.. but I really should be saying Au Revoir! I am off to Paris tomorrow…. tres excited!

I’m afraid i don’t do the whole posting your every holiday action on Facebook/twitter/WordPress every minute. And this is coming from me. Who, is usually addicted to the internet, getting every smidge of gossip and updating my status and blog every day. I won’t be putting the whole Eiffel tower pic on Facebook, 2 minutes after I’ve seen it.. whilst my boyfriend holds my handbag and waits until we continue are fantastique sightseeing. I will wait until I get home and then I will also print the photos off! I know! Old fashioned concept yes…. I might even put them into those wooden rectangle things called frames! I also won’t be messaging (apart from the occasional text to family and close friends), emailing or anything else internet related! So, I am afraid there won’t be any blogs until I return at the end of next week. But when I return I hope to bring you many enlightening stories and also a review on 50 Shades of Grey …. yes it’s sitting by my suitcase ready to take on the ferry with me. Will I treasure it and fall in love with it in Paris or is it going overboard??? We shall see….

Packing and preparation has gone well today. I managed to fit everything in my holdall quite easily…. which panicked me, in the way it does women, that I don’t have enough clothes!! Ha. My boyfriend’s Dad yesterday had me fooled (not hard to do!). He said, as we went walking; ‘You won’t be able to take much you know. They weigh your car as you get on the ferry and you’ll have to pay extra money…’ I thought, ‘Mmm people have been telling me how lucky we are to be able to pack whatever we want by going in the car but maybe there are now new rules?! I then realised he was joking, the bugger! 😉 So guess, I’ll go and find some more clothes to pack then!

As I say, my suitcase is almost ready….. my boyfriend’s isn’t anywhere near. He is at work today all day but won’t let me pack for him. Very independent man he is… a little stubborn too if I may add 😉 and he won’t let me do anything for him! So my next job was to make sure I was ready for holiday. You know, shaving legs, foot scrub, painting toe and finger nails… ahhhh. Downside to that is… that as I just ran to answer the phone (bloody spam call again!) I skidded on the carpet thanks to my new very, ultra smooth feet!! Pain is beauty and all that 😉

My aims for this holiday are: To not get ill, to not faint on a cliff and to not leave my baggage there!!! Yes, last year, all of these things happened! I became ill with a bad throat. I get sore throats quite a lot and as soon as I started with the one within the first couple of days of our holiday… I thought, ‘Nooo I’m not getting ill….’  so I took paracetamol, strepsils and maybe some other stuff too! The next day, when we were out on a day trip to visit the castle, I felt quite poorly. I think it was a combination of heat and all the medication! Anyway, I fainted at the top of this cliff… very scary. My boyfriend said, ‘Sam get up, you’re slipping off the rock!’ Haha. I didn’t even remember falling off the rock so knew I’d fainted for a few seconds. The rest of the holiday was good, despite my bad throat. But then, on the last day, we forgot all of my bags. Yes, not my boyfriend’s bags – just mine! I was checking all the rooms of the caravan whilst he packed the car. Turns out, I figured he had got my bags from my dressing room (not a fancy caravan just a two bedroom one, which i used the second one as a walk in wardrobe – every girl’s dream!) and put them in the car, so i didn’t check in there. He thought that he put so many bags into the car (which were actually food, kitchen and bathroom stuff) so he assumed that was my luggage!! We didn’t notice until we got home… five hours later. Gutted 😦 and the most stupid thing I have ever done! It wasn’t just one bag you see; a huge holdall, an over night sized bag and also a fold up chair!! It cost us £50 to have it couriered up to us two days later… which in the meanwhile, I had to go without all my favourite clothes, shoes, most of my makeup and underwear, hair straighteners and my sanity! Every girl’s nightmare!

So here’s to this year, I have all hopes that it will be a more successful trip…

So, if you are going on holiday too, take some paracetamol (but not too many!), avoid cliffs, handcuff your luggage to yourself… oh and stay off Facebook 😉

Just to get into the French spirit…. Goodbye and thankyou to off all of you who have read, commented, liked and followed my posts so far!

See you next week,

XSXS

Circle of Life…

Well guys, I’m starting to miss the kids at school (starting to…only just!) because I’ve been to the old people’s home today and seen the other end of the scale. I took my neighbour to visit his brother there. I’ve been a few times… even though I almost drove past it haha…. and they say the elderly are forgetful!!

The old people’s home… or residential home as I should really call it… reminded me of a cross between a hospital and University halls of residence. Which, got me thinking of how life is all a circle.. I know not really a new idea and Elton John beat me to it with his song! We start off in a hospital (well in most cases) where we are dependant on others and need help to be fed, cleaned and clothes.. and that is how we end up. (And if you believe it, we may come back as someone or something else and start again.) The University link came to me as I walked to the room of the man we were visiting, Donald. We walked through the corridor with room after room after room; some had funny photographs on their doors. This reminded me of student life and how our life comes down to that one little room where we sleep, get clean and watch Tv.. amongst other things! Also the smell of sick/poo at on point helped to strengthen this link a bit …. we all know what students can be like at the end of a night out!

Donald made me laugh with his ‘problem’. No I didn’t make light of it or show that I was amused! But he showed me a pack of four beers that he had in his wardrobe. he had been given them as a birthday present by one of the volunteers. He said that he only fancied a beer in the evening. Yeh great! But… the evening is when Horlicks is delivered around the rooms. Can’t he turn it down you ask? I asked this and he said ‘Oh but if I refuse it once, they will never bring it again!’ I thought this was a bit extreme and they aren’t going to be offended if he refuses it once (or four times; one for each beer!). Can you imagine if they did with food? ‘Oh you left your dinner.. that’s it… no more food for you! EVER!’ The other related problems were that no he couldn’t drink both because creamy hot drinks don’t mix with beer, which I kind of agree with. It would be like the students mixing their alcoholic drinks! He also couldn’t bring himself to throw his Horlicks down the sink.. so at the minute the beers remain in the wardrobe and the Horlicks vs beer battle continues! I knew what the students would pick 😉 It also reminded me of when we are little and ‘treats’ are all we think of… when can we have sweets? If we leave a bit a dinner we will have room for pudding! It is funny because in between these two ages, you wouldn’t have time to think about something as trivial as that!

Later on, Donald patted his tummy and said he was getting too fat. I liked the fact that at his age he still cared about his health and appearance so much. Apparently, Cyril, his brother, who I took to visit him, had very bluntly told him that he was getting too big and had to eat less sandwiches and biscuits!! Well, we can’t blame it on the beer can we?? I loved the fact that the brothers could be this honest with each other,… men aren’t usually about issues like that. Again, it reminded be of children in the playground, ‘You’re too fat, you eat too many biscuits!’ Donald very solemnly told me that at tea time (they have their main dinner at lunch time) he used to have three sandwiches and recently he had upped it to five… (wahoo got to love the oldies and their eating competitions!) but now he realised that he should only have four… plus a piece of cake! He didn’t seem a problem with having the cake everyday… no it’s the damn sandwiches!

Obviously another fact will be that Donald just doesn’t move about as much as he used to and that would cause the weight to pile on. He tries though and will help the staff sweep up and collect plates and cups in. It got me thinking that at that point in life, he must need a purpose. As well all do. He always tells me that he would rather be back in our town than there; as happy as he is there. I always look shocked and say, ‘No way.. it’s much nicer here, you get your meals cooked for you and everything done for you! ‘ Is he crazy??? Joking aside, I can see that in some ways it must be like a prison and as nice as they are there and how much attention you get, you do not get the same independence as you do when you live at home. I find it amusing that there is a key pad lock on the door.. to get out! But you don’t need it to get in! Obviously this is for safety of the residents but it seems a bit like they can’t escape even if they wanted to!

So guys, think of the oldies and even if you’re not anywhere near that age yet… think back to your childhood, because it’s very similar! Also think of Donald’s Dilemma (mmm Donald’s dilemma could be a regular slot on my blog haha)…. Horlicks or beer??? 😉

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

Off with your Head!

Hey people…

Since my day so far has been pretty boring and I just feel I am waiting to go on holiday now… I thought I would share with you one of my interests. I am a little bit obsessed by Henry VIII and his six wives… no it’s not boring! I, for one, hated history at school. But now that I have matured (a little!) and the learning of the subject is not forced upon me, I actually quite like certain eras quite a lot. It fits it quite nicely with English and Literature you see… and the Tudor period is the same time as Shakespeare. But that isn’t why I am fascinated by good old Hezza… it’s the fact that he seemed to be so attractively challenged yet managed to get six women to marry him. Six!

I started thinking about the old womaniser last night when the Olympic  closing ceremony was on. Not because he was such a budding athlete… even though I do believe he was pretty good at jousting and hunting and even tennis…. it was because they called our current Prince Harry, Henry. The Facebook updates were quite funny as they cried out that the BBC had made such a mistake and called our young prince by the wrong name! It’s like everyone was looking for something to go wrong or be said wrong! It is of course, his actual name. It then made me think of the Tudor king because people often referred to him as ‘Harry’ in his younger years at least. And I started thinking why? Why are Henrys called Harry and vice versa? There must be an actual reason out there, which I’ve not bothered to go out and research just yet… I’ll save it for a quiet evening when I have nothing better to do. It doesn’t make sense though does it? The name doesn’t even shorten by doing that? Hezza is much better… haha even though that doesn’t shorten either to be fair.. but definitely a more modern name for our current prince.

Back to Henry the VIII…. I was thinking that if he was a man living in today’s society then he would surely be on Jeremy Kyle. I can see the headline of the show now; ‘Man married six women… killed two, ditched two and one died having his baby!’ (His current beau.. good old Katherine Parr would be a guest on the show also!) I guess we have a lot to thank Henry for. There would be no D.I.V.O.R.CE song, would there? Would are population be dire? Think about it… if people were stuck with one person and never there was an option to get divorced then maybe they wouldn’t want to procreate? Then again there is always affairs… and that’s something else we learned from the saucy Tudors!

Who could resist that??

 My main fascination with his wives, lies with Anne Boleyn. She seemed such a rebel for the time and is painted in such a horrible light. Beheaded for many reasons.. one being incest… but what’s a bit of brotherly and sisterly love between family? I guess that’s the point! But the thing is, women were under so much pressure in those times to marry someone in order to support their family.. especially if they were poor. She was told to ‘seduce’ lucky Henry by her father and uncle and would have had no choice in the matter. Women were pawns in the market of marriage and wealth. She then had to produce a son to keep Henry’s love and interest. So even if she did succumb to her brother then it would have been to double her chances of falling pregnant and with a son. Very weird and slightly disgusting but if it is true then it shows how desperate she felt. Witch craft was another apparent offence…. because she had some miscarriages and they thought she was cursed. I tell ya, us women need to breathe sighs of relief that we don’t live in that era. She was also accused of having affairs.. yet Henry had them openly. Men were allowed to though *sarcastic eyebrow raised look*. It seemed six women in a lifetime wasn’t enough.

The six lucky ladies….

 I won’t go into all the wives but what I find so amusing about the whole story…. is that Henry’s one goal in life (apart from abolishing the catholic church)seemed to be to obtain a son to take over the throne. Yet who reigned for 45 years after his death? Elizabeth. A woman. His daughter. And Anne Boleyn’s daughter at that. His son? Edward VI managed a sickly six years. I’m not on my feminist high horse or anything here… poor Eddy can’t help the fact that he died so soon but I’m just saying that Henry had nothing to worry about because the one thing he wanted he didn’t need. A queen filled that gap just fine.

The much wanted son  

(Not bad for the daughter of an ‘incestuous witch’ eh??)

Anyway, I want to share a poem with you that I have written….see what you think…

Another One

Spain in my bed every night,

Such passion, such morals,

Loved by all.

But no boy. No boy. No son.

Out with the old, in with Boleyn,

Dangerous, excitable,

Hated by all.

And no boy, no boy, so no head.

See more, I need a new love,

A not so plain Jane,

Gentle, kind and loving,

And a boy! A boy!

But exchanged for death.

Tears make a river to the next,

Yet I like her not! I like her not!

Picture tells a different tale,

I judge the book by the cover.

Don’t read the full story.

 

How… I move for….ward,

Light and easy.  Young.

Unlike me.

Lots of boys.

But in her bed.

So off with her head!

Finally, last chance at love.

As I near the end.

Someone to care,

Like a daughter.

I can die now, it’s done.

I have a son.

(I did have this in six separate stanzas but couldn’t get it to stay like that on the post.. I was also wondering if it worked better like this though, as in, it doesnt stop; like Henry’s search for a wife doesn’t stop. What do you think?)

So remember ladies…. make sure you get knickerless or you could end up headless 😉

If any of you are interested in reading about the Tudor period; Alison Weir’s Six Wives is a good read. Also for you fiction lovers… Phillipa Gregory’s The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl and  The Boleyn Inheritance are a good historical-fiction trilogy.

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

Stealing your Trust.

Good afternoon everyone,

I’m trusting that you won’t mind of I visit a more serious topic today. I had some bad news. My partner is a rower.. as I’ve mentioned before.. and he is away for the weekend camping at a regatta (remember I only go to the one day ones 😉 ) .. anyway, he phoned me this morning to tell me that last night, whilst all the rowers were out, the campsite got burgled. Phones, money and other valuables were taken along with two actual tents!!

When they returned, clothes and invaluable belongings were strewn all over the field. A couple of expletives come to my tongue now but I’ll try not to send them out  into blog land as that won’t help anyone. The first thoughts you will probably have are, ‘How can people do this? Steal from someone else!’ But it also got me thinking about the other side… and even though… it is so wrong that people do this… but why oh why did some of the rowers leave valuables in the tents? Were they asking for it?  And just how trusting should you be.. with anyone?  Do these thieving mongrels really end up stealing our trust and faith in fellow human beings more than anything else? Possessions are just things and can be replaced but no one can give back the pure innocence of ‘everyone is a friend’ feeling that we have as children.

My boyfriend, luckily, was sensible enough to put his valuables either on him or locked in his car. But some of the others, especially the younger ones, kept smart phones, money and purses in their tents. Their innocence and naivety will now be replaced with cautious, wary and untrusting attitudes (or at least I would think it would be!)… is this a good thing though? Should we all and need to learn to be aware and responsible or should we be carefree and have a ‘if it happens, it happens…sh*t happens’ kind of mantra? Seems though, that sadly, they have learnt an important lesson when camping.

 

Leave your valuables in your car or preferably take them with you!!

 

I will tell you that I am not at all trusting. And no it hasn’t stemmed from an awful childhood (I had a great one… remember the mud pies?!) or the fact that I was severely bullied (even though I did get called a geek a lot… but I’ve made my peace with that 😉 ) or the fact that I have been completely duped or been ‘had’ in any way. I’ve just always been taught to not trust people until I really know them… and how many people would I trust with my life? Mmmm I’m not sure; it is a scary thought. I’ve always liked the quote, ‘Love many, trust few, live life to the full!’ You can still be nice and friendly to everyone you meet… just don’t let them hold your purse whilst you go to the loo… or give them your pin number!

I sometimes think that people like to push the boundaries of security by leaving their front doors unlocked or by having a stash of money in their house or by walking around with their £200 phone waving about. I’m going to risk sounding old here but I never carry a lot of cash with me, my phone is always zipped in my bag and I always walk with my bag on my shoulder with the zip nearest my hand…so someone can’t just delve in behind. The house is always locked, whether I’m in or out ( a fire hazard.. you may add…. well that’s a whole other issue), our valuables are in ‘safe’ places (sometimes so safe that I forget where!) Am I paranoid? Probably. Is there a less chance that we will get things stolen than anyone else? Probably Not. But why make it easy for the good-for-nothing-stealing-toe-rags?!

One of my mates last week, was finishing her thesis for her PHD. Naturally, she had to back up her work and did this quite a few times to keep it secure. She told us that as it was complete and ready to print, she actually slept with her memory stick (not what I thought people had plastic devices in the bedroom for…). This was just in case they got burgled that night and the computer was stolen… she wanted to make sure that she had her work with her. Again if a fire occurred it could be a different story… because would she think about rescuing her plastic device containing her cleverest scientific thoughts? Mmmmm… and was she paranoid? Or was it just good sense?

I don’t know if any of you out there have ever been robbed or broken into. The closest we have come to (fingers crossed, touch wood and all that…) is when my boyfriend’s car got broken into a few years back. This was again at a rowing regatta (I’m not painting them in the best light haha… overall the rowing community are very lovely and seem to be very generous and helpful and normally it’s outsiders that seem to cause the trouble but I won’t point any definite fingers). We got back to the car at the end of the day and I think the window was smashed. They had tried o take his car CD player and succeeded. They also took a bag with a number of clothes in (another tip, never leave anything on show… even that Spice Girl’s Cd because these rob-dogs will take anything!) and the thing I remember the most was the feeling I had. Someone had not just stolen things but stolen our personal space. Someone had been in his car without permission; stealing trust, security and happiness. That is what they really steal. I would love to hear if anyone has any other stories…

So guys watch your backs and who you trust…. don’t let them steal your faith in human kind but just be aware that not everyone is as good a human being as you!

Right, I’m off to check the door is locked…and if my new car is still outside! Haha.

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

A Hole lot of Digging!

Afternoon folks, To link to my post from last Saturday, Adding Fuel to the Feminist Fire…which seems to have provoked quite a debate so check it out… I have been doing what some would call ‘manly’ chores/jobs/roles or whatever you want to call it. If you see the comments on that previous post, I think the conclusion seemed to be that there are no rules for what jobs people do in a household… but it comes down to the individual and what their skills are. Well I am not brilliantly able at gardening, physical lifting or anything manual to be honest but I had a go! Today, I was sawing branches off trees (I got a bit saw happy actually!), digging roots up and lifting huge slabs and any other junk that seem to be left by the previous owners…

I turned into a teenage boy for an hour actually… No my voice didn’t get hoarse and deep and I didn’t suddenly develop certain male parts or the urge to look at women in bikinis (I could have just put Club land on if that was the case!)… I just quite enjoyed digging holes! I told myself I needed to get the roots up from the plant we have taken up and that I needed the turn the earth over and also check what was under there (still no dead bodies!) BUT really I was just enjoying seeing how far I could dig down. The memories of making mud pies as a small child returned to me. I have never understood why I ever chose to make mud pies. In most ways I am such an indoor girl and always have been. I loved Barbies, reading, dressing-up and all of that but it seems there is this grubby, outdoorsy type in me that resurfaces every so often!

I think, today, I was also influenced by my current read. Remember how I said on Wednesday (in my post That Stinging Feeling) that everyday things can remind of us of  literature?  Well, currently I am reading Holes by Louis Sachar. The pupils in year 8 at school study it and I haven’t read it yet so thought I would over summer. Yes, I’m lucky that as a teaching assistant that is as far as my summer work and preparation goes really! In the book, which I am very much enjoying, a group of teenage boys are at a juvenile detention camp and have to dig holes everyday, five foot deep and five foot wide. So I am not sure if me digging today was influenced by me reading the book or by doing that it made me think of the book! Such a circle of life and literature isn’t it??

The kids in the book have to get up at 4.30 am everyday and once they start digging their hole, they don’t stop – only for a quick lunch break and for drinks – it is in a desert setting and the sooner they finish their hole, the sooner they can get out of the blazing orange rays.  The book has a lot more to it than that with themes of teenage rebellion, families, racism, religion so do take a look! I haven’t finished it yet… I was hoping to today but the garden has made a bigger hole in my day than planned 😉

Anyway, as I was doing the garden, I pictured these fictional teenage boys and how they had to keep going in sandy, dry, boiling, strict and thirst desperation conditions and it helped me to keep going! My small garden of a semi-detached property had no comparison to the setting of the book but still… I thought if they can manage that for a full day everyday then I can clear this corner of the garden! And I did it! Yay! It’s looking more like an actual garden each day!

Digging ‘holes’ also got me thinking about when we say it to people or we say it ourselves. The metaphor we use for basically saying things we shouldn’t!! Haha. We end up digging further than planned or we have to talk the talk and butter people up by digging ourselves out of the hole! I had to do that last night. I told you, I went to see the friend who got engaged. She loved my post about it (Two hearts, Two rings) but we were afraid that her fiancé wouldn’t approve of me writing about it. Last night, I decided to apologise to him for the post and explain. Turns out he didn’t know about it anyway.. as my friend so subtlety told me as I started talking…. TOO late. I was in a hole. I then had to explain about my blog and the fact I had written the post. Then I said how I agreed with her choice on it – then I thought; ‘Dammit, he will think I was insulting him if I was on her side!’ So I ended up digging a little further!  To dig myself  out of that one. I had to say that I also used lots of examples and I looked at the male opinion and everything. Argh. To climb out of the hole completely… I even offered to delete the post… and stop writing my blog and keep my pen and typing fingers prisoner forever more (Ok that last bit was an exaggeration!) he said he was  fine about it.. But I don’t think he has read it yet! Eek… and now I’ve told you all this, I may have more holes to dig out of tomorrow haha!

So people, be careful what you say and if you need to take out your frustration… then dig a real hole (it also comes in handy for hiding in!)

If I have offended anyone then please comment at the end and I’ll happily ‘dig’ myself out of it!

See you tomorrow (I hope!)

P.S – you’ll be glad to know that I have stood up to the cats. I have taking back my butt (of the water kind 😉 ) and I scared away the horrible hisser cat.. with some of the advice from yesterday, so thank you!

XSXS

Two legs in charge; Four legs not!

Hello people…

I seem to be involved with animals a lot over my holiday and I’m trying to make a stand against them! Firstly, I’ve told you about the walks I’ve been on with my boyfriend’s Mum and her dogs. Well that first walk, the little, ever so cute puppy took me for a run remember?! And it got me thinking that animals can take over if they so choose. My boyfriend’s Mum keeps telling me, ‘you are in charge, not them!’ This was repeated again when that oh so darling little border collie took me through the deepest part of the mud puddle! I have never had cats or dogs as pets so didn’t really think about the fact that we need to teach them who is boss… I only ever had a rabbit, mice and a budgie when I was younger and them being locked firmly behind bars spoke volumes of who was in charge! Obviously, with my title, you literature fans will notice my play on Orwell’s Animal Farm’s famous quote of ‘Four legs good, two legs bad,’ where a group of pigs take over the humans in order to run a farm. That novel has the whole allgoric idea of the Stalin era leading up the second World War. But I’m not getting into all that… I want to think of this literally and what if animals did take over? Could they if we didn’t train them or put them in their place? Crazy thought I know… well it is Friday!

The cute little puppy who tried to take ME for a run!

I thought about this the other day when I was at my boyfriend’s brother’s house having lunch with him and his girlfriend (this was after the Club Land Dvd that I discuss on the Exercise is Dangerous part 2 post!) Their cat tried to jump onto his lap whilst he was eating his salad and they discussed how the cat is getting more like that lately and thinking she is the boss of the house! She (the cat) had to be told numerous amounts of time to not lick the plates after we had finished in order to know she couldn’t just do what she wanted! I then had this image of what may happen if they never disciplined her like this?… would she start getting food from the cupboards and learn to walk upright like they do in Animal Farm? Haha….best keep an eye out on your cat this weekend 😉

The cat… with partner in crime… ready to take over the household!

For saying I do not have any of my own animals.. so I don’t get the cuddles and stroking and all the good bits (but not the vet’s bills either come to think) I still get plenty of visits from cats. Remember how we got rid of our shed? (See Shed Light on the Garden post if you didn’t). Well, I think the cats in the surrounding houses think it is their new playground! It has plenty of rubble and long grass to play in.. much fun! I don’t shoo them yet.. which has got me thinking that I should. Because when the garden is done and we actually have living things in it, I won’t want them  around and maybe by letting them now, I am giving them chance to mark their territory, make a home, invade… or whatever it is that cats do!

I went into the garden yesterday to hang out some washing and noticed a black cat curled around the top of our water butt. They often do this as it seems the perfect shape and size. (except for the big, fat ginger ball one that normally sits there. I swear one day it will buckle inder his weight and the garden will be flooded!) I’d never seen this black one before and as I walked towards him/her/it (you can tell I don’t have a cat!) it hissed at me!! I should have hissed back to ne honest or scared it off in some way but instead I told it off like I would a kid at school! It seemed I’d missed using my ‘teacher voice!’ I shouted at it, ‘How dare you hiss at me in my own garden! Now sit there quietly or you can leave!’ Haha! I really hope the neighbours didn’t hear or there will be crazy rumours going around…. on the bright side they may keep their cats away!

My neighbour actually mentioned how his cat sits on my water butt… I don’t know if he means the ginger giant or the horrible hisser (see an animal lover would ask!) but he said it was nice that they have somewhere to sit. ‘yeh, I thought, ‘great… I’m really glad your cat can visit my holiday retreat to relax!’ He then said he had a problem getting him to come home thought yesterday to go to the vets. I offered to put something on it to stop them sitting on it… I was thinking of tar.. or glue… or poison.. (No don’t call the RSPCA.. I’m joking! I’ve said I don’t mind them being there as long as they don’t hiss at me!) He said that wasn’t necessary but could I move the water butt a foot closer next time so he could reach it??! I hope he was joking.. as I might as well just set the sunbed up next time just inbetween the two gardens so he has the best sunny position and can still get home for his appointment!

Before you write me off as a complete animal hater… I am a little bit in love with the tiny, grey kitten next door (the other side). He could definitly take over the world and get to the top purely on looks and charm! He is adorable… and I’ve actually been scared that the neighbours think I’m trying to take him. He keeps comin to our gardern everyday… probably plotting for a destruction! But Kitty, the garden already looks like a bomb has hit it! When we were cutting down trees the other night (sorry did I say WE? oops) and the cat kept scampering about and getting in our way… another way that these four legged lovelies take over. We had to keep stopping work (doh said ‘we’ again!) in order to make sure the cat wasn’t where the tree was about to fall or in the big pile of leaves that we were going to set fire to! Really held us up… he owes us at least an hour of labour!

So watch out for your four legged friends… they may seem to be ‘cute’ but they are actually just distracting you.. they may seem to be sunbathing.. but they may be trying to drive you out or your own garden. Or they be trying to squash your water butt! Or take you on a run at a ridiculous time of day!

Take charge… two legs good, four legs bad!

Woof and Meow for now,

See you tomorrow.. unless the cats hijack my laptop!

XSXS

Two hearts, two rings..

Afternoon guys,

Remember I told you about my friend who got engaged? Well, tomorrow I am going to see her… her fiance, new house and new kitten (their new neighbours gave them one apparently! I know! All I got from my new neighbours was a telling off for parking in front of their house!). So I am quite excited to celebrate with her and another great friend too. I have just finished a little surprise for the engaged couple actually… which I hope to share with you in some way over the weekend. 😉 I now envisage my friend getting super dooper excited and ultra hyper about the looming surprise… yes I know you so well my friend 😉

She phoned me earlier to arrange tomorrow and told me that she had bought another engagement ring because she didn’t like the original one that he proposed with. This got me thinking… is this wrong? Or is it important to be honest and not get stuck with something that you don’t find beautiful for the rest of your life? (Those women married to ugly blokes have to though don’t they?? Haha). I immediately said to her on the phone, ‘Oooh very Sex and the City because there is a storyline where Aidan proposes to Carrie. He buys a ring beforehand and she secretly finds it, unknown to him. She then complains to her girlfriends… as they often do in that programme… that she hates the ring and her friend, Samantha, then takes him shopping to replace it so he could propose with her ‘dream’ ring. Now in the real world we don’t all have personal shoppers or friends that will butt in… or indeed actually go searching for the rings in the first place! So what would you do if you were presented with a ring and you thought ‘ergh’?

After our phone call, I realised there is another great example of this in the programme Cold Feet … remember that? A British comedy/drama set in northern England from the nineties? I love it and have all the boxset dvds… anyway, Adam proposes to Rachel with a huge, jewel clustered ring that was hugely expensive and she hated it and at first she pretended to like it. She decided that Adam obviously chose not to spend much because it looked so ‘cheap’ but then it started to snag all her clothes (imagine if it did on your wedding dress?!) and she came clean and admitted she wanted to change it. All turned out well there too (even though I forgot to mention in the Sex and the City example they didn’t actually make it to the altar and the ring got returned…) but these poor men! They buy expensive rings and women think they are cheap, they buy gold and women want white gold or silver, they get big diamonds and the woman wants small… should they let the woman choose herself or does that take the romance away?

Back to my mate….she too, like Rachel, pretended to love the ring at first. In fact she sent me a picture whilst I was sunbathing the other week.. you know when I posted about Sun V Housework? But clearly, unlike her and her fiance, the love did not blossom with the ring. Turns out, he bought it in Poland (he is Polish, he didn’t just go for a very long, faraway shopping trip!) a while ago and no longer had the receipt and even if he did, it’s a bit of a way to make a return or exchange! But still, my friend knows what she wants, is always true to herself and asked her fiance if they could split the cost of a new one. He agreed and they lived happily ever after in ring bliss.

So what do you all think about the women’s choice? Should she like it or lump it when proposed to with a ring? I’m asking you because I’m not really sure myself. I think, I would be happy with whatever was chosen… as long as it was white gold, not too big a diamond and not too expensive… haha maybe that answers it and we all have ideals of what an engagement should be. Should the man at least have a go at choosing one though? Or would it just cause arguments if he didn’t know her well enough to know what was perfect? To return to Sex and the City, Carrie thought that Aidan wasn’t the right guy because he couldn’t choose the right ring! A bit extreme and friend, I am not trying to make you think that! 😉 I think maybe it depends on the individual, some women will want to choose, some will happily accept whatever and be grateful that he has finally proposed, some will put up with a hideous band of gold for a quiet life and some will be honest and ask for an exchange… or in my mate’s case a second ring! I teased her and said ‘typical Lou, has to have two rings!’ We joke about her being a princess you see (no she isn’t actually royalty!). She isn’t actually spoilt either and actually a very generous and giving person (she had a huge part in me getting my job but that’s another story), she just, over certain things, likes to be ‘me, me, me!’ And I know she won’t mind be saying this because I think she plays up to it a lot really and takes it all in good humour… either that or she’ll get a new friend instead of me like she did with a ring 😉

So blokes, if you are thinking of buying an engagement ring, why not ask her mates or Mum what kind of ring she would like? She will have said at some point! And ladies, don’t be afraid to speak up if your ring isn’t your one true love! Going back to Poland may be pushing it though 😉

I’m sure my friend will love this post being dedicated and dominated by her…. I’ll take this opportunity to say ‘Congratulations’ to them both! (And the two rings!)

See you tomorrow… and I’ll tell you all about these two rings, maybe I’ll even get pictures for you!

XSXS

That Stinging Feeling

Afternoon everyone.

I was reminded of two of my favourite poems today and it got me thinking how great literature (obviously depending on opinion) comes into our everyday life all the time. I’ve told you how I write some of my own poetry and my whole ‘system’ of writing is to simply think of something I have done that day, something that had cropped up or something I like or feel strongly about. I will, in future posts, share some more of my own poetry with you but for today I am going to stick with two poems; one by Carol Ann Duffy and one by Vernon Scannell.

I went for a walk today.. .over 4 miles.. again with my boyfriend’s mum and his brother’s girlfriend. I know, I know, I’ve still not taken my own advice of avoiding exercise. Turns out I’m one of those people who says, ‘Do what I say, not what I do!’ But again I paid for it… nasty nettles this time (another piece of evidence that exercise is just oh so dangerous!). It was muddy in the wooded area that we walked due to all the lovely summer rain we have had. I slipped down this slushy, muddy slope and what did I grab onto? Nettles! Ouchie. One of the dogs didn’t learn from my painful mistake and sniffed a bed of nettles later… oh did he whimper!

Anyway, I’m getting off track…. as we did frequently on our walk! You may have guessed the poem I want to mention if you are a) a fan of poetry b) a year nine pupil (as we have studied this with them lots at school) c) or if you are a great friend of mine and actually listens when I ramble on and on about poetry and school life. Nettles by Vernon Scannell is a great poem and portrays the beautiful relationship between father and son. The extreme length the father will go to to stop his son being hurt by the physical pain of the nettles. It is also hinted at that there is a point that parents can’t stop their children from being hurt; physically or emotionally. Oh dear, I’m starting to feel like I’m back at school… ‘Let me read the poem!’ I hear you cry.. well here we go:

Nettles

My son aged three fell in the nettle bed.
‘Bed’ seemed a curious name for those green spears,
That regiment of spite behind the shed:
It was no place for rest.  With sobs and tears
The boy came seeking comfort and I saw
White blisters beaded on his tender skin.
We soothed him till his pain was not so raw.
At last he offered us a watery grin,
And then I took my billhook, honed the blade
And went outside and slashed in fury with it
Till not a nettle in that fierce parade
Stood upright any more.  And then I lit
A funeral pyre to burn the fallen dead,
But in two weeks the busy sun and rain
Had called up tall recruits behind the shed:
My son would often feel sharp wounds again.

I won’t go into analytical mode don’t worry but you can appreciate it any way you wish. I just love how something that happens to us on a daily basis can remind us of a poem or a story or a book or even something we read in the newspaper last week. My hand still hurts from the nettles… and I know I will feel sharp wounds again…

Talking of stinging, I was reminded of my favourite poem just as I was preparing dinner. It also ties in nicely with Nettles. My eyes, like my hands, began to sting. I was chopping an onion for our chicken fajitas! Stinging eyes and finely chopping the small, brown onion, I thought of Valentine by Carol Ann Duffy. I first studied this poem at GCSE and I think I used it for assignments at University and occasionally I just like to read it. I still always think of it every time I chop an onion and also every time I think of Valentine’s Day and how love shouldn’t be about presents, alcohol and commercial things. If you don’t already know this poem then I bet you’re thinking ‘Onions and love, whattt?’ Take a read:

Valentine

Not a red rose or a satin heart

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Again, I won’t get my analytical head on but I will say that I love how Duffy experiments with form. Her stanzas stop and start with irregular lines and enjambment used frequently… just like love is so unpredictable and not regular. So ladies, if your man comes home tonight and gives you an onion… don’t be offended and think it is his hint for you to cook dinner… think of it as a moon and a much more meaningful present than anything else. Have I convinced you?? Haha, didn’t think so… flowers are just so much prettier aren’t they?
But next time your eyes sting from chopping an onion or your skin stings with pain from nettles then think of these two poems. It is all about taking that everyday, ordinary object/thing/feeling/situation and making it extraodinary…..which is kind of what my blog is all about!

Tonight, avoid nettles along with that evil exercise and consider that onion as you chomp through your chicken fajitas… I know I will 😉

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

Exercise is Dangerous! (Part 2)

Hey guys, sorry, another two parter. I don’t want you to think that I’m not being original or creative enough to think of new titles.. it isn’t that, it’s just that today tied in too well with yesterday’s topic so it’s a double whammy, a two-sided game or a two-step dance if you will. I have even more evidence that physical activity is just far too risky!

I’m going to start with how I am currently feeling.. which is bloomin sore and achy. I hate to admit to you all but I didn’t take my own advice from yesterday and today I did even more exercise; aerobics even (minus that wrist spraining step though!) I did an aerobic dance, Club Land DVD with my boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend. My legs were already aching from stepping too much yesterday (plus running around the Leisure Centre car park trying to meet up with the patient/victim’s Mum).. my poor, poor calves! I have also discovered later in the day that my ankle seems to be swollen. At first, I thought it was an insect bite as there is a big lump at the front with a little red dot.. but the side of the ankle is swollen too, but it doesn’t hurt much just when I put pressure on it. (Doctors please post diagnosis in the comments at the end!) So yes, If I had followed my own advice, I would be sitting here ache free and satsifyingly full of delicious, creamy chocolate….

The exercise DVD was fun.. in a painful, torture like way. We had fun making fun of the perfect dancer type female instructor, which brings me on to my next piece of harmful evidence. What exactly does a Club Land DVD do for your confidence and self-esteem?! My mate said that she likes the fact that woman has a ‘perfect’ body and a sexy and glamorous persona as it is something to aim for/someone to look up to. I, personally, feel like a big, sweaty whale in comparison and I’m normally pretty happy and confident in my own skin (even if it does have blemishes like ‘normal’ people!) So, I was having trouble taking this girl seriously as she didn’t seem to show any human qualities like pain, sweat or breathe! She kept reminding us to breathe! I thought, ‘Do you actually breathe? Is there an end to this robotic exercise act??’ And don’t get me started on her outfits! What did me and my mate wear? Some casual gym trousers and a vest top… what do you wear to the gym? Similar I would guess. We were so close to putting our gold bikinis on but thought better of it………

Seriously, who does a workout like this?!

Haha. I really think also that they haven’t thought about their target audience…. I mean why are the women half-naked but the men covered up? I may feel like lunging a bit more and jumping that bit higher if I thought I was impressing a half, naked fit man! (Yes, I know it’s TV but we clearly aren’t in reality here!) I actually said about ten minutes in that I hadn’t even glanced at the men yet! The sparkles of the two pieces and orange, sunny glows of the female flesh weren’t letting my eyes divert even for a second.  Another hazard that could have occurred if we were dancing with these people in the real land of exercise is getting our eyes popped out with the blonde ladie’s boobs! I honestly thought they were going to escape out of a pink, lycra boob tube at during the combat section. (That also gets me… why the costume changes? I want to burn calories not watch a fashion show! 😉 )

Amazing, choreographed dancers that they were…. these doll-like people just aren’t what I look for in workout buddies I’m afraid! I want someone to drip onto that screen, with their hair scraped back and to not smile all the time! And to be wearing some jogging bottoms and a t-shirt.. yeh fitted is fine as I know it’s TV and they have to sell these DVDs! Then, you see, I would feel amazing because I would be like ‘Yeh, we are the same you and me, we have matching outfits, we are sweating and I can do (some) of your moves…’ Maybe she could even dig into a chocolate bar at the end and I would happily tuck into the reward for a team effort!

So I enjoyed Club Land purely for the entertainment value. The DVD is perfect for watching with your mates to admire (or cringe) at the outfits, enjoy the music , watch the pretty dancers or let you boyfriend have a treat! Next time, I’ll try Nell McAndrew or Davina McCall (no offence ladies, I’m not saying your boring; I like your ability to keep it real and maintain womanly bodies!)

Just incase you had forgotten the wonder of the gold bikini already 😉 Wanted to leave you with a lasting, mental (or is that metal?) picture!

Have a relaxing evening!

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

Exercise is Dangerous!

Well it has been a typical Manic Monday in the words of The Bangles. (I only know The Bangles because my parents listened to them when I was little – honest!) I can tell you truthfully and honestly that exercise is bad for you… and I have the hard evidence to prove it. So if you are sitting there reading this eating cake then please continue because if what happened to my friend, happens to you today then I want you to at least have some extra fat to cushion the fall! Or just don’t do exercise at all and keep yourself safe!

I’ve said before that I go swimming quite a lot. I have a membership for the pool but my friends often want to go to various exercise classes too. I normally say no because I don’t want to pay extra and I try to go swimming as much as I can but since I was on holiday I thought why not? I actually had an invite to go to a Body Combat class tonight with my boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend but I turned her down because I wanted to spend the only free evening I have with my bloke…. turns out that would have been the safer option for me and my friend. We ended up going to a Step Aerobic class this morning instead. (Step not Steps.. .. no she didn’t get beaten up by band of five excitable singers). I suggested this one because I had done similar ones at Uni and it was good…. that is why I now feel guilty. I was also the one who joked that the big plastic steps can be dangerous when you are stepping left, right and over them and I said in jest ‘I hope I don’t fall off it.’ But nooo it was my mate that did…. mid left step/jump/lift whatever you want to call it. She smashed onto the hard, wooden gym floor.

It was funny to start with and she seemed to be laughing too. She refused help to get up by myself and the instructor and just wanted to be left. I found out later that she was overwhelmed by the attention and was too engulfed in pain to talk about it. At the time I thought her injury was just a case of bruised pride and that she was embarrassed… So I left her and carried on stepping here and there. I’m never in time with the rest of the group but I always think that surely if I’m moving and stepping for the full 50 min then I’m still getting a workout right? If I slow down to learn the complicated moves then I burn fewer calories so I just do my own thing really… haha. Is it wrong also that I was so exhausted after this second routine that I was glad of a distraction with my mate? As it meant I had an excuse to take a break? Oooh oh so wrong I think!

I looked round at one point and my mate seemed in agony and she then admitted that she was in a lot of pain. I tried to ring her Mum, who lives no far away. I was going to take her to the hospital then and there but the Leisure Centre had to record the accident and got their First Aid people to have a look. There was paperwork, which of course she couldn’t fill in! Why in our society does everything come down to paperwork?? So in the end, her Mum took her to hospital and she found out that both wrists are sprained. I hope she won’t mind me telling you all this… because I think you all need to be warned about these ‘steps’…. tread carefully people!

I actually felt quite upset after I left them because there seemed nothing more I could do and as I said I did feel slightly guilty for getting us to go to that dangerous activity! The one thing I thought I could do was to make sure she didn’t get a parking fine, as she had to leave her car there…. be thankful for small mercies they say! Could have been worse too I guess.

Later on, she phoned me to tell me how she was and the ‘verdict’ and I then stupidly said that I’d text her later. She was like,’Erm Sam, I can’t text!’ So back to the old-fashioned phone calling we go. I actually phoned her parent’s home number later on and I don’t think I’ve done that since I was ten and we used to arrange to play at each other’s houses!

So there you go, physical activity is dangerous! DO NOT go to the gym tonight… stay at home and eat chocolate… you might to avoid the stairs too… because this movement lark is ‘wristy business’ (doh, sorry that was such a Dad joke!).

My friend should make the most of having people waiting on her and rest up! and thankyou my friend for a good blog topic 😉

See you tomorrow… on a less eventful day I hope!

XSXS

Hungry for a good read?

Happy Sunday everyone…. I thought that every so often I would write a book review (in my own fashion.. as it may be more of a persuasive ploy rather than giving too much away) as part of my blog….obviously this depends on how quickly I read books. I very often have my nose in one but sometimes it takes me a while to finish them, especially when I’m back at school (I am on book overload then with students and the last thing I want to do when I get home is read!)

But you know when you’ve read a fantastic book and all you want to do after you’ve finished read it is to recommend it to someone?… or tell a non-reader (yes, sadly they aren’t extinct yet) all about it in hope that it will encourage them to appreciate the written word? (rather than watch the blasted film!… which I do want to see but I always read the book first!) It’s like you peel your eyes away from last paragraph and look up and the world is still moving, people are doing day-to-day stuff and have no idea that you have just been to a world of literacy genius.. and they must understand this, they must!! I have this little fantasy that I walk up to friend straight away, hand them the book and simply say, ‘You have to read this!’ Sorry, I can’t do that on here…. and I have to know you really well to lend you my books… they are like my babies 😉

The Hunger Games, for those who don’t know, is a trilogy and has been made into a recent film (which as I said above, I haven’t seen yet but am looking forward to seeing it portrayed on the screen when it is out on DVD in September). If you think to yourself ‘Nah, not my kind of thing,’ please don’t stop reading because I thought the exact same thing. It is not normally my kind of read as it is quite action based (I normally prefer romantic/relationships/everyday life kind of stories) but it is truly fantastic. I whizzed through the three books very quickly (for me) and the first one (which in my opinion is the best..but the other two are also vital thirds to the exciting plot) I started about a month ago whilst we were at school still. I took it with me to work as I neared the end and read it at break and lunch (noooo not in lessons as I am, of course, a professional 😉 ) I just couldn’t wait to find out what happened at the end of that first volume.

As I said I normally prefer books that are based on reality but every now and then I love it when an author creates a whole new world that is so believable that you want to find out more and more about it…like Harry Potter for example. I am so jealous of J.K Rowling for creating that whole world that circles around Hogwarts and the new language that she created and renaming us as ‘Muggles’… fantastic. I may have to kidnap her and pick her brains or put a spell on her or something.

Hunger Games isn’t as punctuated with happiness (in between all the Voldermort visits I mean) as Harry Potter.  Suzanne Collins has created a dystopian society called Panem which consists of twelve (or does it??) districts and the Capitol. Why did I choose to read this book? Well besides me thinking it was food related (haha only kidding) I was fascinated by the fact that all these people get put into an arena for ‘The Hunger Games’ and only one can survive. I am not best interested in blood gore or fighting (which there is plenty of for you violence and guts lovers out there) but I am intrigued by human behaviour and relationships and thought ‘how can they kill each other?’ And the blurb already tells us that Katniss Everdeen, the main character, sacrifices herself to take part in the Games in order to save her sister. I thought she obviously cares a lot about her family and I also knew there was a love interest (from seeing the film trailer, I must admit!) and I was intrigued to see if they would be in the Games too and how would you choose between yourself and killing a loved one? It is gripping stuff.

Katniss, is the kind of character I normally detest. She is stubborn, impatient, rebellious and has two guys fighting for her affection (we all hate girls like that right?). She is also athletic, brave, gutsy and extremely logically clever… which are all things I am not… so I found it very difficult to identify and empathise with her to begin with. But Collins does such a superb job of letting Katniss tell this story that we are instantly on her side; we have her back…. even if other characters (who she thinks she can trust) don’t.

We know that Katniss survives the Hunger Games in the first book of the same title… mainly because she in mentioned in the blurb of the second book (so I’m sorry if that’s something you try to avoid to do…but I haven’t really given anything away here). When I started reading the second book, Catching Fire I was a little dubious and thought ‘Well she has survived the Games…now what?’ Well there is a huge twist in this book and the action is even thicker. The third book, The Mocking Jay then concludes with a war between the rebels and the Capitol….. has all this been the cause of Katniss’ actions? Who will survive? Time will tell….but life for Katniss will never be the same again… god I sound like the Games announcer.

You meet many amazing characters… Peeta (who I imagine to be an absolute God.. so I hope the screen version doesn’t disappoint!), Gale (who I imagine to look the rough and ready type), Haymitch who spends his whole time in the three novels drunk (my kind of character!), the stylist team who are very visually interesting and you need to take with a pinch of salt, President Snow (bit of a Snape, you’ll see), Prim (the sister, who comes across as a girl who seems far too nice to have even survived in this society at all) and many more… but these are the ones who stood out the most for me.

The plot is so juicy with many turns and twists… there are birds that repeat your every sound, lethal monkeys, bloody rain (as in red droplets not ‘oh rain again!’), deathly fog, lightning… oh and a great shortage of food and water (oh that may explain the title a little ;-)) so it isn’t just each other that they need to watch out for!

Katniss and Peeta keep asking….  Real or not Real? You may want to ask yourself this as you read….

One more thing… if you need another reason to read… is the love story… who will Katniss end up with; Peeta or Gale? If any? This is one of the main themes I was always enthralled by… and it definitely does get resolved and it is very worth the wait!

Action, love, hunger… what more could you want?

Rememebr……..’If We Burn, You Burn With Us!’

Happy.. or not so happy… reading!

I’ll be moving onto 50 Shades of Grey next.. (well after I read a couple of books for school)…. I’ve waited for some of the hype to die down and listened to all the  and opinions and now I want my own. It’s the fastest selling paperback of all time.. so yes I definitely want to form my opinion on it and yes don’t worry I will share!

See you tomorrow,

XSXS

Adding Fuel to the Feminist Fire

Hiya People…. today I am going to risk alienating half of my audience (or at the least males, however many that is) and I want to talk about Feminism. Wait, wait listen up; there is a reason for this. When me and some friends visited our gay friends last night, this topic came up in conversation. By the way I am going to refer to one of the friends as Gay Best Friend (GBF) as he has particularly asked me to do this… and he is anyway; I’ve been very good friends with him since school and every girls needs a GBF like she does shoes, chocolate and a feminist tattoo… oh wait the tattoo bit is just me. (shhh don’t tell!)

Anyway, we were out for dinner and my GBF was telling a story and happened to say ‘He is a Male Whore.’ Now, I can’t reveal who he is on about and the rose wine was flowing so to be honest, I’m not even sure I can remember! But the term ‘Male Whore’ sat wrongly with me immediately anyway. I challenged this and said why did he feel the need to add ‘Male’ onto a word that can mean the same for both genders? This led onto why men get called positive terms such as ‘studs’ and ‘bachelors’ but women get all the negative words.. and this is what I was saying that by adding ‘man’ or ‘male’ onto one of the terms we are saying that the word should normally be associated with women. What do you think of this? I’d love to hear some thoughts…

So me and my GBF began a huuuge debate whilst the other four friends at the table listened (some with interest and I think some were thinking ‘What the hell have you started you whore?!) I revisited my University lectures on Anglo-American and French feminist theories and remembered the argument about the word ‘History’. I am not saying I agree with this bit but I do find it interesting. Some feminists believe that History is like ‘his – story’ and why should it be studied from or be the man’s perspective. I think this is a step too far and my GBF had some interesting insights into this. He knows various languages such as German, French, Swedish and some bits of others. He said that the pronoun ‘he’ or ‘his’ doesn’t always translate into the male gender in all languages and the word ‘history’ comes from latin and the ‘his’ part was actually translated as ‘it’, which in the word ‘history’ gives it no specific gender relation. I think I remembered all this correctly after my few glasses of wine!

We actually stepped outside to continue our conversation after a while… partly to stop the others getting bored and wanting to kill one person off of each gender and also partly because my GBF wanted to smoke and he didn’t want his boyfriend to know… see men can’t even tell other men what to do! 😉 hehe..and sorry GBF for ‘outing’ your smoking habits! We went onto to discuss the word ‘woman’ and is this just the word ‘man’ with the prefix of ‘womb’ on it? My GBF looked from the other side and said that ‘man’ originally meant both genders and that women are lucky to have their own term, whereas men are stuck with the neutral one… well it’s the least we can have after years of not being able to vote!! We also humorously discovered that my name ‘Samantha’ has the word ‘man’ in it and I joked that I couldn’t have that and said my friends should now call me ‘Satha’.

Other topics discussed were when babies are born and they are immediately gendered by being dressed in ‘blue’ or ‘pink’ and this is where my GBF’s boyfriend joined in, who is a psychiatric doctor, and said we wouldn’t believe how much is already biologically determined and even if boys play with Barbie dolls, they may do it in a rough and tumble way and still be determined to be masculine and straight. My point to this was that the individual should be able to choose and parents shouldn’t worry that their girls will be tomboys or their boys dressed in pink with be feminine and gay… because there are a lot of things that determine it anyway. And before you all scream at me, there should’nt be a problem if they were any of those things anyway.

So yes, that was our alcohol fuelled Fancy Friday chatter (my GBF called it Fancy Friday in contrast to our Dirty Thursday due to the contrast that we began the evening by looking round their three storey pad and sipping champagne!) and I realise that this post today has been a lot less light-hearted than the previous ones and to what I have promised, but I’m sorry but sometimes my tattoo burns like Harry Potter’s scar and I have to release all these thoughts. There is no offense meant by any of the above ideas and I don’t completely agree with them all and if anyone has anything to add to the debate then go ahead….

Finally… at the end of the night…… I burnt my bra:

Haha just kidding! This is the remains of the shed that I wanted to share with you! I told you how it got taken to my boyfriend’s brother’s house. Well he didn’t want the roof so we burnt it! and now it has all gone yay!! So no, I didn’t burn my bra, just the remains of the shed….

Now ladies, off you go to wash up 😉

See you tomorrow,

XSXS