Thursday, 29 January 2009

All creatures great and small

A few months ago, during harvest (we live beside fields) we had a little furry visitor in the shape of a fieldmouse. I am sure they are cute, delightful and harmless creatures in their right place. This place is NOT my home. So we bought some traps, laid them with toasted porridge oats and waited... The next morning, the traps were bare of bait (clever mouse) but no sign of the mouse (not so clever trap). Thankfully, this situation had reversed itself the next evening when we heard a bang and discovered a shower of porridge oats covering the carpet upstairs in the landing and a mouse caught in the trap. Major success.

I left the traps up just in case....

And the months passed.

Now, I don't know what it says about my housecleaning regime (perhaps this is a discussion we could have another day) but I still hadn't got round to putting these redundant traps away even though there had been no sign of any more little friends.

And then last night as I was walking back from the bathroom (having finished my packing - phew: see the previous post!) I spied a grey tail poking out from under a bag beside a chest of drawers. Eeeeeek.

Yes you've guessed it. It was another friend. He's now in the dustbin.

And yes, I screamed. A lot.

I like animals, honestly I do. I am just not totally keen on the wild rodent variety in my house. What's bothering me is how did he get in and, assuming it arrived with its chum in October, where has he been since then and what has he been eating? Answers on a postcard please.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Why do people go on holidays*?

As you know, I have mentioned that we are off on our holidays * quite soon. Actually the quite soon has now become imminent because we go tomorrow night. Hurrah! How so exciting!! Cairo here we come... Winter sun, beam down on me!

Anyway the title of this post is not intended to be an essay question nor am I thinking of starting a debate (although, maybe that might be an option for a rainy day. Let me know what you think.). Instead it is the rhetorical question I have been asking myself for about the past 24 hours. I worked until after 8.30pm last night, got up at 6.00am this morning and went straight back in to the office again and then worked late again tonight. I have a truly horrendous day of meetings planned for tomorrow before my evening flight to London. So, again, why am I going away for a week (yes a week - you'd think from the hysterical reaction of some people that I had joined a cult and was leaving for ever. Mind you, that is quite a tempting thought...) when I always get myself in such a stew before I go anywhere?! Oh panic stations. I haven't even packed! I suppose I still have 23 hours...

So really this post is just a "farewell". Fret not I will be back - unless, of course, my dear husband makes good his threat and sells me for some camels. Please note, if that happens, I shall try and find an internet cafe in the desert so you can start a global on-line appeal for my safe return. I'd make it worth your while (a camel perhaps?).


* For my trans-Atlantic fan club, holidays are what we Brits call vacations (but I bet you knew that already!)

Monday, 26 January 2009

Traffic is slow this morning

Every morning I listen religously to the radio traffic report because I have to navigate a particularly obnoxious junction to get to my beloved place of work. Quite often my heart sinks when I hear "... the M2 has a lane blocked because of an accident/broken down vehicle etc. etc." At times I confess I have had less than loving thoughts towards the silly driver causing the chaos. Not any more though because on Friday I was that accident! Oh yes! I managed to bang right into a van in front which braked suddenly. I mean I braked suddenly too but just not as effectively as Van Man. His van is fine by the way, although his passenger says his back hurts a little - of course it does: I mean I have insurance so clearly he's going to claim for his so-called sore back.

You'll be pleased (I hope!) to know I am also OK although my little 6 yr old Toyota is in a poor way, and of course, I spent the rest of the morning in tears. I think it's important to show my feminine side at times. Everyone was very sweet with me except my father whose first words to me, after I'd explained what had happened were, "you have no defence to this, none at all". (My father is a lawyer- would you have guessed?) No words of tenderness to his first born, checking she was uninjured or murmurings of compassion, just bald facts of law. Actually I think he realised how fragile I was when I wept again - this time in a dramatic fashion: I'd just applied my mascara (reputed to be waterproof: it's not) and was sporting a fetching panda look. After that he put his arms around me and pointed out it was only a car and that no one had been hurt. You see the big man can be a softie when he wants. I might be 32 but there are times when it's nice to pretend I'm 7 again (not that I had a driver's licence then, bright and precocious though I fear I was....)

So now I am on the hunt for a new car. The guy at the garage I visited on Saturday asked how many years of my no claim bonus I had left. Less than 24 hours would be the answer there!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009


As some of you know, Steva and I got married slightly over a year ago. In order to prevent either of us having a 2 hour commute each day we compromised (isn't that what it's all about?!) and moved somewhere pretty much half way between his office and mine. Where we live is lovely and we're very happy. However it is hard moving somewhere new and getting to know folk, especially if you don't have kids to go to local schools, clubs etc and if you are out at work all day long.

When we got married, we decided to keep going to Steva's church, even though it was a good 40 minute drive away, as we reckoned that moving house, getting wed and moving church all at once might finish us off. Even though we loved where we were going, we realised we needed to find somewhere more local, so told the gang at Steva's place that we would leave at the end 0f 2008. Officially the evening service on 28th December was our last. It was so sad! During the last singing it suddenly hit me that we were going. Afterwards, we were overwhelmed as so many people came up to us and said how sorry they were we were going etc. It was a Kleenex at the ready kind of evening. However one person, not known for his EQ or tact, merely asked us to confirm we were definitely leaving because he had taken us off the prayer list! Can you believe it? Talk about not-the-best-comment-to-make-in-the-world-EVER. Grrrrr! Anyway I have forgiven him; I honestly don't think he intended to be rude.

So Steva and I are now in the brave new world that is church hunting. We're not worried: there are about a dozen really good churches all within about 10 miles of us so we'll find somewhere. In the meantime, it's really quite cool visiting places. We feel like secret shoppers!
One thing that has struck us is the friendliness (or not) of fellow worshippers. I know some people are shy and striking up a conversation with a newcomer is not easy but can I encourage my loyal followers (all 2 of you) to take heart and be encouraged to be welcoming to strangers? It really, really, really helps!

Thank you!

Dark mornings

I really don't like the weather at the moment. Only those of you who come from this part of the world will truly appreciate what I mean. Ever since the clocks went back by an hour in October it has been dark more often than it has been bright. In a way it seems harder once Christmas is over and you know you've still got to struggle through January and February. At the moment when I wake up at 6.30am it is pitch black and really only gets light about 8.00am. It then starts to get dark again ab0ut 4.30pm. I cannot wait for spring! You know there's a lot to be said for hibernation. Hedgehogs clearly know what they're doing. (Did I mention we recently had hedgehogs in the garden? Perceptions are funny things. Initially, when I saw their outline, I thought we had rats and was all set to get exterminating. However once I realised they were cute little spikey things I was all for leaving milk and bread out.)

Anyway, in order to beat the winter blues, it is VITAL to have a whole host of exciting activities planned which is why next week we are going to Egypt! Ooooh how exciting! I really cannot wait to see the Pyramids. Steva says if I don't behave he's going to sell me for a gang of (not sure of the correct collective noun) camels. He's sure they won't give him a tenth of the trouble I do. What a charmer...

I have been feverishly checking the BBC international weather forecast and am delighted to see that temperatures in Cairo are in the mid 20s and that it's sunny. Long may it continue. ( I have also just realised that I am living proof of the British stereotype and shown that we are indeed obsessed with the weather!) I was born to live in the summer. This week we have had snow, sleet, hail, thunder, lightning, rain etc. I know I can't complain about the lack of variety but I think that's enough for now. Let's just deal solely with sunshine.

Steva has also been feverish but only because we had our holiday innoculations and he is now convinced he has contracted a mild strain of dyptheria. The more enlightened amongst you may know this is the medical term for lockjaw and, right enough, he does often speak with his jaw clenched. I wonder....

Enough musings: I've got work to do.


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

I think I love blogging!

It's after 11.00pm, I got home from work half an hour ago.

Initially my plan had been to run straight upstairs and into bed because I'm pooped, although having drunk quite a lot of coffee at my meeting this evening (which explains my lateness) I am buzzing.

Anyway when I got into the kitchen I realised there were a few things to do before I could retire, like freeze the soup I made last night, clean out and feed the fish, Vladimir and Felix (sometime I will explain their names although it's a little embarrassing as one of them is named after a character in a play which gives the impression that we are soooo lah-di-dah but hey, when a name sticks you've got to use it) etc. etc. However I did manage to get a cupboard door jammed when something got caught behind the runner so, instead of trying to fix it, I just left it wide open. My rebellious spirit is so to the fore. Not. Imagine what I'd be like if I was a dedicated rebel....

After a while Steva came down wondering what I was doing. I've been a little grumpy lately (hormones!) so I didn't want to respond churlishly and tell him that I was doing the chores I had hoped he might see to. You see, at times, I CAN bite my tongue and be more loving than I feel. Mind you I still have to keep working at it....

Anyhow Steva told me I had to come quick because someone had posted a comment on my blog. Oh hurrah! The excitement! The adrenaline rush! Thank you Melissa. You have made my day. In fact having had a look at your blog (I will comment too!), I think we are kindred spirits in more ways than one.

Now I am way too excited to sleep which is problematic as I am in bed typing and Steva has his head on the pillow. I shall lie awake trying to think of witty mesmerising things to write. Oh the pressure! (I love it!)

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Feed me Seymour!

OK so over the weekend I told my husband (the lovely Steva) that I had started a Blog. We are a really good match on so many levels, one of which is that he is the calm steady one whereas I am the emotions-on-a-rollercoaster and always-up-and-down one. I thought he might not be overjoyed to know I'd become a blogger (although, as I told him, it's not like a drug or alcohol addition - seriously, I could have been confessing something TERRIBLE). Once he'd groaned a bit, got over the shock of seeing his photo on my Blog page etc. he has been quite excited about the whole thing. In fact I think he's got the bug as he spent a good part of Sunday evening blog hopping. If you're reading this you are someone who suffers from the same condition. Basically, someone at church gave Steva the name of a web site which he looked up, this linked onto that person's Blog which had other Blog followers and the next thing I know, my nearest and dearest is avidly reading about how someone's home made bread worked out. He is LOVING it!

It was at this stage he became quite animated and told me I should get cracking with my own offering to the world. I had written my first draft but had then had an attack of the nerves and hadn't published it. However my lovely spouse who is great at encouraging me told me to "go for it" so I did....

Then I waited to see if anyone (like just one person - I'm not in this for the glory) would read it, post a comment etc. etc..

I checked after 10 mins of publishing my first post. Not a peep. Not a sniff. Just a big fat zero hits.

So I went to sleep.

And as I slept, I had some quirky dreams including one where I realised there were some wonderful, kind hearted people who had begun following my Blog and had posted comments.

It was the kind of dream which is so vivid that when I woke I KNEW it was for real so I quickly checked my computer and disovered that it really was a dream and that I have no followers (well, none yet: I am an optimistic kind of girl).

So, dear reader, this is a heart felt plea. If you have somehow stumbled across my witterings please please post a comment (only a nice one thank you) so that I feel like someone has noticed me.

Merci (as they say in France)

Friday, 9 January 2009

Stepping out into a new world...

Hello world!

This is my very first post... and I really do not know what to say or do, which is pretty unusual given I am not usually stuck for a word or two.

Anyway I wasn't very sure about all this blogging, although I do try and read some of the stuff that friends post. However I stumbled across a BRILLIANT blog (it's on my favourites - C Jane Enjoy It) and I got hooked. I have never met this girl (I've never even left a message telling her I'm a fan) but every few days or so I go and check and see how she's getting on. It's a bit weird. It's also quite cool. I mean here I am in Belfast, Northern Ireland, thinking about finishing a week's work and sorting things out for the weekend and CJ is across the Pond doing her thing and having her life. I know all about her (well, the things she posts!); she doesn't know I exist so I thought it was maybe time to redress the balance. Let's see if I stick at it....

So what's in a name? Well I wasn't sure what to call my blog and also I had to think of a name quite quickly so went for two of my favourite things. Mind you at the moment I have a sore toe so new shoes are not ideal and, after all that Christmas snacking, I probably shouldn't eat cake ever again but I'm sure you get my drift... Already you know quite a bit about me. I LOVE (like really love and please don't tell my husband how many pairs I have) shoes and I also get a kick out of cooking and baking. By day, I work in an office and am pretty busy and have to get through a lot of "stuff". In a way I find baking very therapeutic. I'm not that spectacular at art but I feel that when I cook I find a vent for my creativity.

I think that's enough musings for the time being. Let's see where this blogging journey takes me....