Saturday, 31 December 2011

A new way of thinking

So, Mr H is home and it's brilliant.   The first time he came home, after his year's placement in '08-'09, we had a really awful first week.  I resented him being in 'my' space, and he felt unwelcome; at the end of the week we sat down and talked about it and cleared the air but still it was difficult for both of us.  That had been a year of discovery, of ourselves more than anything else, and we had both rather enjoyed it - it was tough coming back to 'normal'.

This time we felt differently, being apart wasn't novel any more and it had no fixed end to it, which made a lot of difference. We missed each other badly and both felt constantly as though we were waiting for something.  We talked about the difficulties of him moving back, but it's just been a big relief and a happy week for both of us. Even though we have stuff everywhere in the house, it doesn't matter - we have time to sort it out.

It will take a while to get out of the way of thinking that he is just here for the weekend, or week.  For instance the other day I kept thinking "Ooh we must do so-and-so while Mr H is home" and then realised that we didn't have to cram our experiences / things that needed doing into a short space of time.

This evening I looked in the freezer which I had liberally filled with food a couple of weeks before Christmas. I thought "oh no when are we going to eat this stuff before he goes back to Scotland?...."

But, having said there is plenty of time for everything, one of our agreements is that we want to do stuff rather than waste time planning and never doing.  When you live 450 miles apart you realise how hard it is to do simple stuff, spontaneous visits or trips. Everything takes logistics and costs twice as much as it should.  It's really made us appreciate the things we can do with him living here.

This evening (New Year's Eve), Mr H has gone up to a friend's who is playing a live gig, he has gone as the roadie and will stay overnight.  When he mentioned it a month ago it was so nice to be able to say "Yep go for it, I won't come as it's not my kind of thing, I'll stay with Django and see our other friend" (ok, we do have more than 2 friends but you get my drift). The point being firstly that Mr H can go and it's just a couple of hours drive, and secondly that I don't have to spend every waking moment with him because he'll still be here next week, and the one after, and the one after...

Life is sweet!

A little knowledge....

When someone says to me that "Apparently, in 150 years time there will be no white people left in the UK", I am stuck for any response other than a) don't be ridiculous or b) who cares?  but part of me thinks that I should be itching for a debate on the matter, although debating with a racist and xenophobe is probably a non-starter anyway.

Now in my 3rd year of my degree, I feel as though I have learned enough to have opinions on such subjects, but not enough to debate them. It's a strange and slightly irritating in-between position, and as they say 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing'.  Also, what I know is only what I've been told - and who's to say that it's all correct and not just someone's opinion?   But unless you are the one who has personally done the research, I suppose that most knowledge is just that, a repeat of what you've been taught.

Despite all I have learned about class and inequality and social justice, when I go out I can feel myself switching back to my old self.  The prejudices and stereotypes which have built up over 45 years, based on what peers or the public or the media have said, are hard to shake.  But the difference now is that I recognise those prejudices in myself, when I see a group of people from the council estate and stereotype them into bike-stealers, I realise I am doing it.  That's not to say that I'll leave my bike unlocked, but now I understand more about the background to those ideas and labels.

It's very easy to get sucked into the common conceptions (and misconceptions) about groups and types of people.  It's part of the social 'lubricant' not to be the one who is always standing out from the crowd or disagreeing with what everyone else thinks. (So, how many of the others are doing the same thing and just agreeing for an easy life?)

I wonder whether I will ever get to the point where I see things differently without the conscious effort. And whether I'll ever be able to hold a debate with someone about contentious subjects such as migrants and the relative populations of the UK...

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Wasting trees

I had a conversation with my parents tonight about Christmas Cards.

We agreed that it is so disappointing to receive a card from someone who you do not see regularly, may only hear from at Christmas, yet all it says is "love from xxx" (sometimes not even "love").  

No news imparted, no personal message.   What is the point?  That to me is a waste of trees.  I don't care if we receive 1 card or 50; it doesn't make me feel any better about myself when I get a card with a typed label and no message in it.


I always write something personal in Christmas Cards, some news of what we've been up to (of course big news this year with Mr H's new job) - even if it's just a couple of lines to some people.

It is some years now since I have written "We must get together in 2006", because that is one of those empty things which gets said year after year and doesn't actually happen.

I've also skimmed the card list down to exclude those who were on it because... well just because.  Now I send cards to those I want to write to and share our news, oh and by the way wish them a fantastic Christmas.  I no longer send cards to people just because they send me one - it's not a competition. I don't write them to people I see every day, nor people with whom I will spend Christmas Day - I can say it to them personally.

My Christmas Card list contains about 20 people/couples/families, so don't take it personally if you don't get one from me!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Global or International?

My course book asked an interesting question this week: "When you think of 'global', what does it mean to you?"   I hmm-d and haa-d and could only think 'well, worldwide'.  They then had a photo of the earth from outer space, and a map of the world showing the divisions of countries.

The earth photo represented those who thought of 'global' as meaning one society of which all human beings are members; no national divisions, we're all in this together no matter what language we speak, what colour of our skin or whatever.

The map, however, they interpreted as representing 'international' rather than 'global'.  In other words the world is made up of lots of separate entities and we each sit cocooned in our own comfortable (we lucky ones) country where we know what's what, and being separate from 'the others'.

Of course we all know that clothes we buy in the local department store are made in another country; and occasionally we think about whether the workers in those countries are exploited or just grateful for a job. Likewise with much of the food from the supermarket.  But still, We are Here, and They are There.

Even within our own nations, towns, streets there are the divisions of Us and Them.  The North/South divide of England for instance - no doubt there are equivalents in all countries.

To think of the world as a single, global society.... those links from one side of the world to the other, remembering that what you buy today was probably made or grown thousands of miles away yesterday... remembering that we are all humans... is not something most of us do regularly.


I am here in Phuket, Thailand surrounded by local people, but also a plethora of nationalities from Australian to Swedish to Russian. Partly that is because I am at an international regatta, but it is also the type of place that is bursting with ex-pats. After a while one hardly notices what accent people have; yesterday somebody asked me if I was from Australia or New Zealand, despite my very English accent.

It's a good exercise occasionally to zoom out of your life, out from your office, house, town, country, continent, until you can see the whole earth and remind ourselves that the only boundaries are man-made.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

News and emotional confusion

Aarggh I don't know what kind of mood I am in at the moment - the opposite to how everyone would imagine I would be feeling just now...

I have some news to catch you up on, and that is that Mr H. has a new job and will be moving home at Christmas!   What a relief to have an end to the 'indefinite period' in Scotland... not that either of us regret it in any way at all, we have both learned a lot from the experience, but we'd both got to the point where we just wanted to be together (and be able to DO things at a moment's notice.  That is darn tricky when you are 450 miles apart, everything becomes a logistical nightmare).

He is moving out of forestry, by necessity rather than choice. ie. in the end, the need for him to come home out-weighed staying in forestry.  But the new job he has is pretty cool - trimming classic Jaguar cars (ie. upholstery and making carpets, hoods etc.).  And better still it is about 2 miles from our house, better than we could have imagined. Sooo he comes home before Christmas and New Year and doesn't go away again!

Meanwhile I fly to Phuket, Thailand (sorry Carol) on Thursday morning to work at a big regatta there.  I'm not a particularly good long-haul traveller in that I get dreadful pre-travel nerves, although I am usually fine as soon as I am in the taxi - it's the few days beforehand that make me a wreck. But hey, a week of sun, sea and sand is something to look forward to, even if I do have to still work as well.

Two things to be excited about, so why do I feel that I've had an emotional relapse and am suddenly depressed...?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Action stations! Actually a nice cup of tea for me please

I've only been studying social justice for about 6 weeks, but already I'm feeling the disadvantage of being a middle-class, white, employed, healthy female. I have nothing in my day to day life to be an activist or campaign about.  Although that's not strictly true, I could be campaigning on behalf of women, since Mr Normal is - obviously - male, white, employed and healthy.

I cannot relate at all to those who are activists (and I know that people who read this are, and I am in no way belittling it) because I have never had issues or felt passionately enough about something to do so.   It makes me feel apathetic in a way, because people who do feeling passionate enough to campaign and put heart and soul into something make me feel bad that I don't.

The National Union of Students are having a 'student activism conference' in London tomorrow. It reads like a kind of market for 'things to campaign against' because that's what students do.  "Activists will have the opportunity to attend more than 60 workshops organised and run by campaigning organisations, trade unions and student activists from across the UK".  A bit like going to a university Open Day?

So now I can feel bad that I'm feeling cynical about the whole thing.  And I am a student but I won't be there.  Because I'll be at work.

Mrs Normal, that's me.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Keeping in touch for Generation Y

I have lost touch with almost everyone I knew at school and college.  Most went off to University (I didn't) or I was just never good enough friends with them for either of us to make the effort. In the 80s the only ways to keep in touch were by telephone or letter, if they weren't local.

Those who went to Uni often met their future spouses there, or settled out of the area for other reasons, so didn't come back to their teenage stamping grounds very often.  My circle of friends at school was never huge, but it sorted the wheat from the chaff when one had to put effort into keeping in touch when we no longer saw each other every day; and now I am in regular contact with only one person from college days (who is in fact now my best friend).  Some have come back into contact but have not stayed as we have nothing in common now, other than having been friends at school.

Now teenagers have Facebook and other networking sites which take no account of distance, they can keep in touch easily and with minimum effort, with tens (and in some cases hundreds) of school friends.   Will they stay 'friends' with them all because they never lose touch? or will friends naturally fall by the wayside in the same way? I imagine it will take longer than when one had to pick up a phone and pay for a call, or take the trouble to write and post a letter.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Change time

Today our clocks went back to GMT here in the UK.. I managed to enjoy an extra hour in bed and still not get up late, having woken up at about 7.20am after a dream about being on a sinking Volvo 70 after somebody wound the keel too far (yeah I'm meaning a boat not a car).. I was just asking politely where the lifejackets were when I woke up.

Stepping back a couple of weeks, I saw my doctor for various things that needed updating, and ended up with a  'mild depression' diagnosis having burst into tears on seeing her, and us having a long chat.  Nothing I hadn't worked out myself really, I've just run out of adrenalin/seratonin/Mojo.   Not bad enough for meds (the first thing I said was that I don't want any more) and the prescription was plenty of fresh air and exercise, allowing myself treats, and not becoming a hermit.. ie. socialising.  I have never been big on socialising because.. well I can't be bothered with thinking of things to talk about. I told her about being a child and never wanting to go to any parties. And then not wanting to go home again (after my parents had made me go).

"Ok" my doctor said, "You need to talk to yourself like a 4 year old.... tell yourself you'll enjoy it when you get there. And it WILL make you feel better. Oh, and no alcohol."

I have been feeling better, with the odd relapse.   This morning I decided that I was NOT going to see what my hair looks like in it's natural colour, because that would mean I had given up and didn't care what I looked like.  My hair to me is like other people treat make up or clothes - it defines me.

So, it is currently cooking back to Red Passion.. in fact it was due to wash out 10 minutes ago so I'd better go!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

In a fog of social science

I am reading about social justice, inequalities and social policy - it's making my brain hurt!

I'm hoping that the Clarity Moment will come soon....

Friday, 14 October 2011

Bonsoir, toute la monde!

Pfft, the flight fine - perfect Juniper conditions: no wind, no rain, no snow....!

I am now sweating in a Paris hotel room on the 22nd floor, with the thermostat apparently stuck at 22C that  is hot for me) and of course no opening window - heaven knows how many people would fall out if there were.  But anyway it's a nice, comfortable hotel, within strolling distance of cafes, shops and - ahem - the red light district.   We discovered that when we went out for a late breakfast earlier!

I have seen two people who I have spoken/e-mailed to for the last 3-5 years but never met; one from Australia and the other from the USA.  That was really good to finally meet them, it makes so much difference to a business relationship (although many of my business contacts, some of whom I talk to on a daily basis, count as friends now).

In the bathroom of my hotel room there is one of those magnifying, illuminated makeup mirrors. Crikey I've never seen my face in so much detail!!  and I'm not sure I want to, hehe. It's also rather off-putting that at a certain distance away, you see your face upside down.

The weather here is fab - dry and autumnal but wall to wall blue skies.  Tomorrow we will be in our meeting all day but will get some escape time on Sunday, so maybe the Eiffel Tower will call....?

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

This is your Captain speaking...

Tomorrow morning at 7am I fly to Paris for our meetings.  OK fine, apart from the being picked up at 5.30am  part.  But this morning I took Django out for a walk in thick fog and started thinking "Oh no, what if it is like this tomorrow?".

You may already know that I am not a brilliant flyer. If the weather is fine, dry, perfect temperatures etc. and the pilot has a nice accent then it's not too bad, but if there are any negatives then I'm not too happy until we are safely on the ground. Well, the flying is fine, it's the landing that I hate.

So, if tomorrow morning is foggy again, but the airline is running the flight, would I refuse to fly?  Probably not.  After all, we trust the airline to know when the conditions are safe or not - they safely fly hundreds of trips a week after all.  

There have been psychological studies such as Milgram's which look at how we obey and trust authority figures, or even those we consider to be an authority figure. Likewise, we trust those we consider to be experts in their field - they know better than us. We trust doctors to know what they are doing, and we trust airlines to know when conditions are safe and when they aren't.  I can't understand people who complain because their flight was delayed due to bad weather or a technical difficulty. Would they rather die?

The other aspects which run through my head are - which airline is it?  is it a reputable one or a budget Sierra Leone one?  Once on the plane, what does the pilot sound like?  It's totally unreasonable, but we do judge people on their voices and accents when they are in charge of our lives, even though we don't have details of their skills.  I always feel safer when the pilot's name is Chris, simply because a previous 'Chris' managed the smoothest landing ever on a flight to Glasgow.


I do wonder though at what point I would miss a booked flight, through my choice. Would it depend on the reason for flying in the first place, and the importance of getting to the destination? or would it be down to things like some flights being cancelled and some not, and there being a general feeling of doubt in the air. And of course, whether I was in my home airport or half-way across the world.

And then there is always that nagging feeling that if I decided not to take a flight, people would be cross with me or laugh at me, or even worse be upset with me.

And that might be harder to take than the thought of a scary flight.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Flutterbies

I have butterflies. Great big fluttery ones.

Tomorrow I have the psychological assessment for the accident insurance and I am ridiculously nervous about it.  The only reason for this, I think, is that I have no idea what to expect. I'm scared of what his questions will be and how I will react to them.

Next weekend I go to Paris for three days for our annual international meeting.  "Fabulous!" everyone says, Paris in the Autumn.  But I'm not a big fan of large meetings (40+ delegates) anyway, and I'm worried about not being able to squirrel away on my own (but my GP says I have to make myself be sociable!). Also, apart from the Brits, most of them I haven't seen since the crash. I missed last year's meeting because of it, so I'm going to have to go through the 'how are you' rigmarole with them. Not that I blame them, it's just that sometimes I'd like to forget about it and be normal.

So, my anxiety levels are teetering, despite telling myself It Will Be Fine.

Sorry that I haven't written the promised blog posts, I haven't been in the right mood for it. So they may materialise or it may be something completely different!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

"Lovely Lady? no, that's my wife"

Excuse me for sounding like a miserable cow, but what is the whole 'lovely lady' thing that seems to have sprung up on the internet and in texts?

"Happy Birthday lovely lady!"
"It was really good to see you yesterday, lovely lady".

Bleugh! It makes me cringe every time I see it.

There are a couple of girls I know who use it, and when they call me that I want to scream "aaghh don't CALL me that, it makes me want to vomit!"

I just wanted to say that, thank you.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Bones

Just a quick one to say I've just updated the x-ray page with the pics from March and September for anyone who's interested. Progress is good!

Spot's Spot : what season is it?

Hello, Django here, sorry I've not posted for a while but I've been busy... er... sleeping and stuff. Oh and, you know, inspecting the garden and being really important.

It's been seriously hot here the last few days and yet getting dark at 7.30pm - it's all wrong!  I'm terribly confused, one minute it's autumn and the next it's mid-summer. Still, it's nice to get some extra sunbathing in...


I went to the office today but it was too warm, even though they put the fan on for me.  So I was a bit fidgety, I think Mum got a bit annoyed, oops.  I like it better there in the winter when the heater is on, then I'm happy just to sleep in front of it.

I've been promised an early walk tomorrow because it's going to be hot again, so I'd better get to bed - I need my beauty sleep you know!


Bye for now,
Django x

Help....

Aaagghhh I have so many things I want to blog about!!

  • Courts and judges
  • Rambler Cottage and To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Over-medicating
  • Old people and the fear in their eyes
  • Politeness
  • Proactive rather than reactive

Ohhhhhh - you choose!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Change of track

I was going to write a sociological blog post entitled "Criminal Court or Theatre Stage?" but instead I spent the evening making Quince Jelly, walking Django round the field in the dark, and on the phone to Mr H for 55 minutes because I was feeling down and needed to talk to him.

In between I also managed to eat re-heated lasagne (always best on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th nights) and watch Doc Martin on ITVplayer.

Tomorrow I am going out socialising, a pretty rare event for me! Our sailing club is holding a Scalextric evening which sounded like fun, so Mr H was sent to get our box of cars out of the loft last time he was home. I might even treat myself to eating out while I'm there, and will hope not to let down the fairer sex with my performance on the track (it's been too many years since I last played).

So, I might get back to criminological discussions later in the week, if I can remember what it was I was going  to say...

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

What's your car called? and are you sorry?

Anthropomorphism, for those of you who don't already know, includes the bestowing of a human personality on a non-human thing eg. an object or animal.

We all do it all the time, without even thinking about it. We swear at inanimate objects which won't co-operate - just like I almost did at my watch which was clacking on the side of the laptop until I threw it off in annoyance.  We expect our animals to understand when we've had a hard day at work, and why we don't want them dragging their water-dribbling mouths across our study books.   We name our cars (well, sometimes) and talk to birds and plants as if they understand what we're saying.

We often don't understand why others react in situations differently from how we would react.   'How could they have done that?' 'Oh my goodness what possessed her to buy that coat'.  'Look at the way that idiot man is driving' 'That woman was so rude'.   We attribute other people with our own values and beliefs and assume everybody thinks the same way, but they don't.  I suppose we think that our way of seeing the world is the right way, so people who don't are somehow inferior.

Today I heard on the news a judge describe a murderer as displaying an "extraordinary and chilling lack of remorse". Oh really?

Reading the news story, Andrew Lindo strikes me as having psychopathic tendencies or similar.  None of his behaviour was that of a 'normal' human being - from the double life, to the murder to the huge lies he told to family and friends.  Yet the judge was surprised that he showed no remorse?  Did he expect Lindo to turn round and say "I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to do it"?  Did he really think it extraordinary that he did not?

Is it realistic to expect a psychopath to show remorse - I suspect not.  By definition, a psychopath does not have the same social values or way of thinking as the average person. Why then do we expect them to suddenly react like an average person?

Is that not the same as expecting a dog to apologise for coming in without wiping his feet?

Monday, 19 September 2011

Surveillance... how do you see it?

I have been thinking about surveillance mainly because my course is starting off with it as a subject, and how it can be seen in different ways by different people.  For the purpose of this post I am limiting the word to mean police presence and CCTV etc., not all the other data that is collected on us which also comes under the term.

In my course DVD, the scenario is a large shopping centre in a relatively poverty-stricken area of Leeds (UK).  As well as CCTV which is constantly monitored, the centre boasts several security guards and a full time police constable. Security is very visible and the people interviewed in the centre said that it made them feel safe; in fact there was a group of people who went there regularly to 'mall walk' for exercise, as they didn't feel safe walking in the public parks nearby.


But I started thinking that if I went to a shopping centre and it was full of security guards, cameras and on duty policemen, I'd think that it must be a risky place to be - otherwise why would you need all the security?

A friend in the States commented on her facebook page yesterday (she knows who she is and I'm sure won't mind me quoting her!): "Huge police presence, as usual. I don't recall seeing so many green helmets and automatic weapons, though. I confess that has made me a tad uneasy just now." and it made me think again about the effects of visible security on the average person.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.  Does a very visible security personnel presence in a 'normal' every day public place make you feel safer?  or more at risk from some unseen threat?

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Pfft having written a long letter to Mr H this weekend now I feel I have nothing to tell you!   So I hope some rambling drivel will suffice for now...

I spent most of the weekend gardening, and looking at bees.  We are suffering a bad wasp year with the little ******s hell bent on getting into our hive. Interestingly though, I have noticed that once they are in there they want nothing more than to escape, which is odd as you'd think that once in they'd sit and nosh on the honey stores.  Maybe the bees tease them about their odd appearance and they can't stand the embarrassment.

I overdid it somewhat at the garden centre yesterday, it's their fault for having plants at reduced prices and 3 for 2.   So I then spent lots of time planting (once I'd decided where on earth I was going to put them!  I also cleared the top vegetable patch so that is nice, clean, damp earth just waiting for some compost/fertlizer.


Yesterday I accidentally walked for two hours, I didn't mean to but ended up exploring and didn't have a watch so had no idea how long I'd been out until I got back to the car.  It did explain why I was aching quite a lot!  On the way I met some D of E teenagers hiking - we kept overtaking each other and the third time I saw them they were obviously a bit lost so I put them straight as to where they were. It made me realise that we never did that sort of thing at school, at least I was never offered it - or maybe no-one ever thought I might like it?  having said that, Mr H did it at his school and said it was really annoying as apparently they made they carry hat, scarf and gloves even on swelteringly hot summer weekends.


Spot the Dog!

So that was my weekend, oh and I have started on my course which is beginning with stuff about surveillance - quite thought provoking. I got the name of my tutor for this year and was disappointed that it is a man; the last two years I have had women tutors and got on well with them, I somehow feel that a man is going to be quite different. Well, I shall give him the benefit of the doubt until our first tutorial and assignment feedback!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Brain required

Today is our annual meeting of representatives from around the country, so I am having to dress with my best smile and manners.    I'm not very good at meeting stuff; I prefer to have my head in something technical, but it has to be done.  And I've got to help with taking minutes today, ugh!

When I went to last year's meeting I was on 2 crutches and non-weight bearing - that made me realise what a difference a year has made!   It's looking like a beautiful morning so I will be cycling to work - now that I have the van here rather than the car, my bike is transport of choice to work as it's just easier.  I have just ordered some good waterproof over-trousers, they cost me almost a tank of fuel but if I cycle to work every day I'll have saved that in a month!

Right, time to get my brain into gear and get dressed and breakfasted.  I'm still recovering from last week and looking forward to the weekend when I'll have time to do those things on my list!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

My next challenge

I have started dipping into my next OU course, Welfare, Crime & Society, although it doesn't officially start until 1st October.  

It sounds as though it will centre around the 'entanglement' of social welfare and crime control and already I'm feeling quite excited about it - I think it's going to be very interesting.

I don't know yet who my tutor will be, but I hope they are as good as my first two have been.  I'm going for a Grade 1 for this year, so will be counting on you to chivvy me on if I am slacking or feeling despondent!

A week of reality - or was it?

As Karen S. noticed, I didn't have the time or energy to post last week!   It felt as though Mr H was home for about three weeks not one (in a good way haha!) and yes we were still speaking to each other by the end of it. We were both exhausted though, having worked our way through the list of things we wanted to do!

It was a suspension of reality in a way, because we wouldn't normally spend a week's holiday at home together - it was a bit like having 4 weekends back-to-back.

We both noticed how these days we are so much on the same wavelength, I think being apart has improved that (you'd think it would be the opposite, wouldn't you?).  On one day I gave him a hand to put the engine back into his A35 van... it was tricky and involved trolley jacks and blocks of wood, mixed in with brute strength and brains to get everything lined up.  Although it is years since we worked in an old car together, it just fell into place totally naturally, each knowing exactly what the other meant.  It felt really good.

(Not that we always agree on things, and sometimes talk at completely cross-purposes, but then we normally end up having a joke about the fact we don't have a clue what each other is talking about...!)

On Tuesday we drove 250 miles for an interview - for him not me - in an urban woodland area.   When we arrived we thought 'oh my goodness' as it was quite busy with visitors, it must be absolutely heaving on a bank holiday. The district was lots of small woodlands in a built up area so would have involved lots of driving on busy roads - the complete opposite of where he is now!  But it was half the distance away from home so that was a big plus point.  The interview went ok but we suspect that Mr H was the 'token outsider' since the other applicants were from that district; he didn't get the job, but he said that saved him having to decide whether he wanted it or not. Something else will come up, no doubt.


Walking Django after Mr H's interview

The other big thing last week was that I had x-rays taken. It turned into a bit of a long, stressful morning not helped by the fact I was really tired from the weekend, thankfully Mr H was on hand to rescue me when my emotions got the better of me.  The long and the short of it is that the x-rays looked ok apart from one area at the top break, which doesn't look as though it's got new bone growing, so I've been referred for a CT scan to check it out.  I'm not sure when that will be, sometime in the next couple of months I guess. I was glad about the referral as it is something positive to do, rather than just being sent away with a 'yes it's all progressing fine, see you in another 6 months'.  

The rest of the week we spent gardening, Mr H worked on the van, and other bits and pieces. Oh and I picked 206 quinces!  Oh My Goodness..... I am now down to 95 having got rid of some to friends and family and made two batches of quince jelly (so far). They are too good to throw away, so I might get imaginative with the preserving/recipes!


206 quinces

Oh and how could I forget? it was Mr H's birthday on the 4th... I baked a birthday cake and we had a nice day together. He was on his own in Scotland for it last year, and for quite a few before that we have been away for it, so it felt extra special this year being together at home.

So that was our week... he is now back north but Django is here for a couple of months.  It's good to have the company, and a reason to go for walks - it just doesn't work without a dog!


Thursday, 1 September 2011

The week I've been waiting for

Mr H is home tomorrow!!!  for 10 days....  ooh will we still be speaking by the end of next week? ha.

And Django is coming back to stay for a couple of months.  I haven't missed him as much as usual, not sure why; but it will be nice to have company again and stop having to talk to myself.  

So tonight I will be putting the loud music on as it helps me concentrate on the clearing up the mess I live in, before he gets back. I may as well pretend to be one of those tidy wives haha ;-)

Monday, 29 August 2011

In my opinion....

In some unwittingly optimistic moment, I joined the 'DD208 Welfare, Crime and Society' facebook group.  In both previous years I have joined the relevant group and within weeks have needed high blood pressure tablets every time I looked at it. I don't know what it is about them that irritates me so much but they seem like a different species to me.

It is still 6 weeks before DD208 starts and already I'm thinking I might leave (the facebook group, not the course!)... the only reason I'm not is because  it's a group where someone else has to add you to it.  So I'll stay put just in case, and try to resist looking too often.

The reason I started this post is that just after the riots (in the UK) one of the girls in the group was trying to get me to give my opinion on the reason for the riots.  My reply was that sorry I'm not informed enough at the moment - ask me after I've done this year's course!  She said 'come on, you must have an opinion though?'.  Well actually no.   If the experts in the field have half a dozen different theories about it and can't agree on what the reason might be, how the hell am I supposed to know?  Yes yes I know, it's supposed to be a discussion - but I know what happens in discussions in those types of groups, they can degenerate into personal insults.

Sure I could postulate about 'dysfunctional families' and inequality and drugs and bankers and politics - but I would have no idea what I was talking about, it would just be repeating what I've heard. It would not be an informed opinion based on anything but media chat, so would be worthless.

I have mentioned recently that I have become more opinionated, but that does not extend to repeating what 'experts' on the Jeremy Vine programme have said.  To have an opinion, I need to fully understand something, and I won't be bullied into voicing some parroted opinion which I can't back up.

I would feel like Bridget Jones : "Ugh. He's just a big knobhead with no knob. Is some people's opinion of Kafka... but they couldn't be more wrong. This book is a searing vision... of the wounds our century has inflicted on--on traditional masculinity. It's positively Vonnegut-esque".

The final opinion of the two girls in the group who did discuss the riots was that really our country should be more like Somalia and the Middle East.   Yep. Right. Glad I got involved in that discussion then.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Weeding my mind

I am feeling depressed about the garden today, I've been working on one of our borders and have made a brick edge to stop the grass encroaching (one that I can mow right up to), and have weeded and planted some new plants. Ones that are out NOW because all the other flowers in our garden seems to have finished by the end of June.

Because of my leg it took me three sessions to get the bricks down, partly because the soil was hard digging.  So it's probably taken me a month to do what I would normally do in a weekend, because that's all I can do (and people still tell me I should be taking it easy).



I walked around some beautiful gardens this morning at Beaulieu and came home inspired, bought three plants at the nearby garden centre and they are perfect.  My plan is to plant so much stuff that there is no breathing space for weeds.  However, we don't have sweet little green weeds, we have brambles, and ivy, and bracken and really the shady part of the garden should be turned into a woodland glade because that's the kind of stuff that grows in it. Maybe after 21 years of trying to tame it we should throw in the towel and pave the whole of the SW corner (that's a joke by the way).



I need to turn these negative feelings into gratitude for having an amazing garden, that has so much potential as well as so much wild-ness.. How many people have that luxury these days?   We could be stuck in a flat with just a couple of window boxes...

But I also know my depression isn't totally about the garden. It's about me. It's about being knackered after one hours of gardening, when even taking the spade back to the shed is an effort. It's about tackling it alone, rather than the teamwork of me and Mr H.  It's about not knowing how long this is going to last, right now the light at the end of the tunnel is pretty dim.

I think it's time for a cup of tea.







Saturday, 27 August 2011

25 years, and living off the land

Mr H says he is missing reading my insights.. I guess he's right that I don't have so many when I'm not studying and thinking deeply about stuff.   Or maybe at the moment I don't feel as though I have anything interesting to say, other that getting aggravated by people!  My boss has been away at a regatta for two weeks so I've been 'in charge' and have had a couple of diplomatic incidents and some mysteries to unravel. Although the boss has been available on e-mail, I have made a point of dealing with things that would normally get passed straight on to him, so I'm feeling good about that. Now I just need to continue that when he is back!

This weekend is 25 years since my sister picked up a hitch-hiker, and I ended up marrying him. Next weekend when he is home, we will open my morello cherries in bourbon to celebrate - they have been marinading almost 3 months now.

I just went down to see some friends (where our bees live) and we were discussing the people who try and live on £1 for food per day.  We decided that unless you grew 90% of what you ate, it wouldn't be possible; but apparently one of the people who wrote a book about it included gate crashing parties to get free food - I'm not sure that is really in the spirit of the thing!  We were discussing how many of the weeds that grow under their cherry trees would be edible in some way. I'm sure you must be able to make dock leaf soup or thistle pie or something - I will have to try and find a suitable book for them for Christmas.


Talking of weeds, I have a bit of gardening I want to do this afternoon. I'm trying to take it easy because my leg has been quite painful the last 2 or 3 weeks, but it seems like such a waste of a weekend.  So maybe just a bit and then I'll stop for a cup of tea. I promise.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Bookworm

Sorry about the lack of posts, I've been suffering from a severe lack of inspiration.

Ever since I was a child I have been an avid reader. I nearly always had a book on the go and read late into the night under the covers. Occasionally my mother would say 'you'll ruin your eyes reading in that bad light!' but I'm 45 and have near perfect eyesight, so I guess she was wrong.  I'm actually quite disappointed as I think I'd look rather good in glasses.

So, one of the advantages of being in between OU courses is that I have plenty of time to read, and I am enjoying an interesting selection of books from the library at the moment.  I finished the biography of Myra Hindley of Moors Murders infamy, extremely well written and objective. I can't remember the author's name but it was titled 'One of your own', highly recommended.

Then I read a Daisy Dalrymple mystery which was beautifully innocent. Set in a Devonshire coastal village in the 1920s, Daisy is the wife of a Scotland Yard Detective Inspector who is supposed to be on holiday but of course gets wrapped up in the suspected murder of the local philanderer.  I loved the insight into 1920s manners and the tail end of the staid Victorian generation who frowned upon the young people and their improprieties.

I am now reading an interesting novel called 'I am NOT a Serial Killer'... hmm catchy title you say!  It is the (fictional) story of a 15 year old sociopath who is obsessed by serial killers; written from his point of view and quite disturbing.

I have two or three random crime novels lined up still to go. Given that there is no purchasing involved, I am enjoying picking authors that are totally unknown to me, just to see what they are like. I do have a quick glance in the book to see what the style of writing is like, but other than that I just go by the precis description of the story.  It is so easy to get locked into one author, or just the 'best selling' ones, and not try any of those on the perimeter.

It is probably obvious that I enjoy crime novels (they have a whole section to themselves in the library, so I am obviously not alone).  Although they can be predictable and formulaic on occasion, not half as much as love stories which tend to bore me unless they are exceptional. I cannot abide Chick Lit, it drives me into a frenzy!  Unfortunately I am not as willing to experiment with love stories, I'm sure there are some very well written ones out there.

I've always fancied that I could write a novel, or at least short stories, but I don't think I have the patience.  So I'll leave it to others, and just spend time enjoying the fruits of their labours!


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Reminders come when least expected

Sometimes I get a reminder what being a manager is about. It's not just making sure the job gets done properly and on time, or wondering how to improve the training; it's also looking after the people you work with and being there for them to talk to when they need to.

It is giving them the benefit of the doubt, and treating them the way you expect to be treated yourself.

I never signed up to be a manager - it was originally a purely technical post until we needed more pairs of hands - but here I have ended up, so I have to do it the best I can.

I had a reminder today, which has made me realise I need to try harder...



Monday, 15 August 2011

Physiotherapy, on impulse!

I got home from work this evening on my bike, it had rained a little bit but the temperature in shorts and t-shirt was perfect for cycling so I decided to dump my bag off and go for a longer ride.  So I changed into more comfortable leggings and set off after a quick honey sandwich to bolster my blood sugar.  I find the best way to do my physiotherapy is on impulse, rather than planned, otherwise I make excuses why I can't go for a 3 mile walk, or do exercises etc.


I pushed myself quite hard, the road north from our house is one that is flat in a car, but actually slopes gradually upwards, so I had the downhill on the way home :-)   No doubt I will ache in the morning, but it felt good to get my legs and lungs pumping for just under 7 miles which took me half an hour.  It doesn't sound much, but quite enough for an evening after work.  It's funny to think that five months ago on 14th March I cycled the 1.5 miles to work for the first time since last June, and was totally exhausted!

It is only 3 weeks until my next X-rays, it's been six months since the last ones. I'm really looking forward to seeing them and how different they look. Also Mr H is home for that whole week, so that's something else to look forward to!

Friday, 12 August 2011

TGIF

I'm feeling emotionally knackered... thank goodness it's Friday night.

I miss Mr H like mad, yet like the peace of solitude.  He loves Scotland yet misses home.  People's immediate suggestion that I move up there really isn't thought through (at all).  But we chose this way, together, and things will work out ok. Just some days it's tougher than others.

In the meantime, here for your delectation are a couple of photos from the Highland Games we went to on Saturday.






Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Travelling light

I'm off to Scotland tomorrow evening, just for a long weekend, accompanied by my best girlfriend.

I was thinking about what I needed to pack, and realised the answer is 'not a lot'!  Each time I go up there I seem to leave another item of clothing, so my bag gets smaller and smaller :-)

One thing I will definitely be packing is a book. I've just started reading The Life and Death of Myra Hindley, which seems to be written in a very balanced way - not biased in defence of, or against her.   It's an interesting insight into the lives of poorer families in inner Manchester in the 40s and 50s, before they got moved out of their close-knit community of houses into 'better' high-rise flats, which didn't prove to be better at all...

Have a good weekend.
Juniper

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Exam result day!!

I just got my 2nd year OU module and exam result and got a Grade 2 pass!!    I got an overall 81% in assignments, and 75% in the exam (a Grade 2 pass requires a mark of 70-85 in both components).

So I'm very, very happy this morning!!   It's given me a huge boost for next year, knowing that I didn't let myself down in the exam, and all the hard work revising paid off.

Hmm, maybe this calls for CAKE at work today! ;-)

Monday, 1 August 2011

Opinions and skins

Mr H commented at the weekend that I have become more opinionated since I started studying and also since the crash.  It's true that I do feel that I have more to say, and that sometimes those things need to be said. In my previous life I would either not have an opinion, or if I did it would never get voiced.  Whether that was because I wasn't sure of it, or because debate scared me (everyone else being so much more opinionated than me, including my husband!), I would just keep quiet.

I am beginning to think that a thick skin is required in order to voice an opinion, because as soon as you do, somebody might retaliate in defence, misinterpret your point, or in general come back with something other than a reasoned debate.  You never know when something you say, which you consider quite harmless, might touch a nerve for somebody else, and it comes as a shock when they turn on you with teeth bared or they get terribly upset for a reason that you could not possibly have been aware of.


The internet is particularly dangerous place for voicing opinions whether banal and sensitive, or risky and provocative.  On internet forums, blogs or discussion groups, the chances are that you have never met the people who are reading your comments; you don't know their history or their personal preferences, or even what mood they are in (and they don't know yours).  It's no wonder that sometimes a simple statement by someone can turn into a long slanging match, because of people jumping to defend something that probably wasn't under threat anyway.

I just read in an OU group that a tutor had suggested that you can say anything you like on a social networking site as long as you follow it with "LOL" - which is quite possibly true! 

So, I don't think my skin is thick enough for me to voice opinions on the internet, and I should stick to voicing them only in face to face discussions, where there is body language to help, and knowing the person I'm talking to reduces the likelihood of my inadvertently upsetting somebody.  Although I now have opinions, I also still have the little person inside who doesn't want people to be upset at me, or say I'm boring because I drive at the speed limit and don't think binge drinking is big or clever.

I'm not saying I will never voice an opinion in my blog, but on the forums that I occasionally visit I think I will be biting my tongue and watching from the ringside more of the time!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

My B.A.H.

Every couple of months or so a burst of activity from my solicitor reminds me of events that now seem years ago.  Sometimes I read descriptions and accounts as though it happened to somebody else.  And yet while listening to a Tony Hancock comedy radio show yesterday about hospital visiting, I found myself brushing away tears at the thought of my dedicated husband and how bloody amazing he is.

As I write this, he is on the motorway driving 450 miles to spend the weekend at home with me.  This one wasn't planned until last weekend when I phoned him in a panic because I was worried about the bees, at which point it seemed a really good idea for him to come home.  I can't wait for the day he is maybe 'only' 250 miles away - 4 hours - easy weekend visiting distance. He is now actively looking for a job closer to home, please keep everything crossed for him...

My B.A.H.

Of course Django is accompanying him, so I'm looking forward to some walks and some cuddles (for both of them!)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Feminism? well, I don't think so

This morning I read about an all-girl crew competing in the Sydney-Hobart yacht race in December. This one of the tough racing classics and there is certainly nothing idle about taking part.

I have odd feelings about women and sailing, specifically yacht racing (being one who has done it on and off over the last 25 years).  For years women in sailing have been fighting to be recognised alongside men, but now that there are far more girls and women taking part (I don't know any actual statistics, but anyone in sailing will vouch for it), I keep hearing about 'women only' events, all-girl crews etc. and it makes me feel rather uncomfortable.

Apart from the fact that I can't think of anything worse that spending extended periods of time with just women, what are they trying to prove?  Any intelligent person knows that women are as capable as men at some things, better than them at some things, and not as good as them at some things.  On a boat this might mean that where women lack brawn, we may be better at multi tasking eg. with 5 bits of rope to pull at the same time, or noticing something that's about to go wrong. We're different, it's evolution, get used to it.  Personally I would much rather sail on a mixed crew.

Why, after all the years of seeking equality in yacht racing, do women go out on their own and make a big deal of it?   I can just imagine the uproar if somebody decided to hold a 'men only' sailing event....!!  An acquaintance of mine organises a women only regatta, and nothing would make me take part in it.  I admire her for the hard work that goes into it etc., it's just the whole 'women only' thing that goes against the grain for me.

So, going back to this All-Girl Crew (that's what they imaginatively call themselves), they are doing the race all in the good cause of ovarian cancer awareness which is fine. But I really wish they hadn't used the words 'sisterhood' and 'unbreakable bond' on their website.   It made me feel a bit ick, to be honest.  And don't even ask my opinion on the front page picture.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Library run

Today's library books..

Ian Rankin - Fleshmarket Close (recommended reading for my next course)

Derek Raymond - He Died with His Eyes Open (trying out a different crime author)

Alexander Pushkin - The Queen of Spades and other stories (I like to educate myself with classics)

Carol Ann Lee - One of Your Own, The Life and Death of Myra Hindley

Friday, 22 July 2011

Seething in the shower

I have been seething in the shower, about various things.

About my ex-brother-in-law who is borderline-something, and takes it out on people I love.

About people who complain that the fact they live in this beautiful place is awful because of the tourists and the house prices.   Do they not realise that the tourists keep it alive?   And that they do have a choice to move elsewhere?   Hey, move somewhere cheaper and ugly and unpleasant, would you be happy then?  Cake and Eating It springs to mind.

About people who say they have no choice. Everyone has choices.  There may be things or particular circumstances that we have had no control over, but we all have a choice as to how we handle them, or react to them (are we back to 'change what you can change, accept what you can't'?).  

I could say that I have no choice about staying in my job because I need my salary to pay the mortgage. But I could re-mortgage and halve my monthly payments and get a lower paid job, if I chose to.

Yesterday I castigated myself for mentioning something that then provoked comments that annoyed me.  Should I just keep my mouth shut today? or should I purposely provoke 'discussion' and risk my blood pressure?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Got the Blues...

I've not had a good day and a half..  Today I had an afternoon of lachyrmation* and felt just generally miserable.

Partly this is because I am desperately missing Mr H, and I know that he's been missing home. Somehow knowing we are both lonely makes it worse.. I even looked at flights today, for this weekend, but they were far too expensive at this late stage.

I've been trying to reduce my dihydrocodeine (again) because I feel as though that's what I should be doing, although no-one (ie. doctor or consultant) has suggested or requested it.  Over the weekend when I was away, I accidentally ended up on just one a day on the days I should have been having two; and coupled with tiring myself out driving about 250 miles it's knocked me for six, and it came to a head this afternoon.  My leg's been aching much more as well, maybe those tablets are still required to do a job.

I was supposed to be going to my parents' for supper tonight as my sister was visiting, but I knew that it would make me feel worse not better, so I cancelled. I'll see them at the weekend instead.  It's a shame that once one reaches adulthood, parents are so often *not* the best people to cheer up a depressed mood, not in the same way that friends can.

My self-treatment consisted of a large portion of chips from the fish 'n' chip shop (it was a 'small' portion, heaven knows what size the 'large' portions are!) with tomato ketchup.  

Now what I need is an early night and good sleep.....



*the medical or literary term for shedding of tears

Monday, 18 July 2011

A thought

What is normality?
Merely what has gone before.
It can change at the flick of a switch,
Or by barely noticeable mutations,
Until it is no longer recognisable.
What is normality?
It is ourselves.
It is our lives.

But take a look from the other side of the road.
Is it normal now?

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Time for a change

For the last 2... 3... 4...?  lost count years I've been colouring my hair a bold Red Passion or similar.   This time I decided I fancied a change and have gone for Berry Red which is a much darker brown with red tones.  (those of you on my facebook already know this!).


I now have to think differently about what clothes I wear, because they look different!  I'd say that it affects make up too, but I don't wear more than mascara most days anyway.

It is certainly true (probably more for women) that how you hair looks affects your mood - I feel like a new person this morning!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Somnambulism

Somnambulism - or sleep-walking to most of us - is something I have dabbled in over the years.

I was just about to say what my limitations of sleep-walking are, but when Mr H isn't here to tell me, how do I know where I go or what I do, as long as I wake up back in my bed?   That's a strange thought.


So, to my knowledge, I have never been outside the house.  Mostly I end up somewhere in the bedroom, trying to work out where I am and then gradually waking up and realising that it is my bedroom and not a dungeon or scary place I'm trying to escape from, as happened last night.  A non-wandering variety is also worrying who the hell the scary person is in my bed until I realise it is my husband! Once I decided to carry the duvet into the corner of the bedroom (much to Mr H's amusement).

The furthest I have been, to my knowledge, is downstairs, switched off the house alarm, re-set it and went back to bed.  I have no recollection of this but in the morning Mr H asked me about it.  When he first went to Scotland I worried that I would sleepwalk and fall downstairs with no-one here to know.  But having read a bit more about somnambulism I don't think I'm any more likely to do that than when I'm awake.

Somnambulism can be used as a defence for murder, and there have been several well known cases (I won't tell you about them, Google it!).    Hopefully I am not doing anything untoward in my sleep, or going off for trips in the car that I don't know about, but maybe that's another reason to set the house alarm overnight!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Lightweight

Here I am, at 8.27pm, already in my pyjamas sitting on my bed in my room in the RORC Clubhouse.  It's been a long day (by my standards) so I've left the boss and my other colleague and retreated for Bed and Book.  I've always been a lightweight when it comes to staying up late, and today I will savour a couple of hours of Me Time before sleep.

It would be super quiet, were it not in London. Despite being in a dead end street there is traffic, bin men, general rattling and banging and engines running; but it's far too warm to close the window.  For one night I will soak up the sounds of the city and tomorrow I will return to my country noises.... such as birds, and boy-racers tearing up the street at midnight in their souped up Subarus.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Recovering from a Buzzy weekend

I'm too tired to think of a clever-sounding blog post today, so I will instead treat you to some photos from my lovely weekend with Mr H. We spent most of it playing with bees, it's so good to feel enthusiastic about them again after a few disappointing years.

Here are the newly purchased Maisemore bees being transferred into their new home.




And for contrast, here are the Wild Woodside bees, undergoing serious surgery to try and get them into a useable hive.  After our last attempt when Mr H got stung rather a lot, they were remarkably calm this time, which was a) very surprising and b) a relief!





Much of the rest of the weekend we spent fixing up and sorting out all our hive bits, which has needed doing for a few years so that was good. We also spent an afternoon at a local Beer & Cider Festival, mainly because friends of ours were playing live so we went to hear them.  I was driving so Mr H managed to sample 4 pints of local ale, but was still good enough to cook me my favourite meal in the evening!

Finally, here is Spot all ready for his trip back North...  he's in the van as soon as he sees it open and being packed, just in case he misses out on anything!

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Aggravation and excitement

Today was aggravating.  Not particularly busy, but everything was... aggravating.   I could feel my frown lines deepening as the day went on and the headache lingering in the background. We missed our goal for this month by 8 boats which was mainly due to one person being off sick, and all my stuff being AGGRAVATINGLY time-consuming and confusing.  But never mind, 8 boats is ok, and we have caught up since last month so that is A Good Thing.

And tomorrow is a half day, Mr H is due back at lunchtime-ish, together with Django and a new colony of bees he is picking up on the way.  So I am only working in the morning, in the afternoon we will be sorting out the new home for said bees, I'm rather excited!

Mr H has kept bees for 29 years and carried on when he moved down here, but we've had bad luck losing them over the winters recently. So for the first time ever we have decided to buy a new colony, and start anew with them in a better location and within walking distance.  They are quite expensive to buy, so they will be molly-coddled for fear of losing them over the very first winter which would be Not A Good Thing At All.

So, a relaxed evening this evening is called for - easy supper and a good book should do it.

But before I go, here is a gratuitous photo of our local lighthouse which is next to the castle I walked out to the other evening.



Edit at 9pm.  So much for sitting with a good book, I couldn't. Having driven to work today I NEEDED to do something.  Went for a brisk walk exploring some new footpaths down the lane, 3 miles later...

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Contentment

When I got home today some new sports shorts were waiting for me (eBay bargain, naturellement), they are just chuck-on for bumming around but designed for running which I thought would be useful later.  Anyway I tried them on, stood in front of the mirror and thought "I feel fat".

Oh well yes - what woman doesn't do that occasionally, whatever size she may be?   But in the next split second I thought "But so what.".  I know that at certain times I feel more fat/bloated/ugh than at others, all for the same poundage.

And I'm content.

Which means more to me than worrying about excess curves (is there such a thing?). I don't want to get on the (metaphorical) treadmill of forever striving to be however many inches / kg lighter.  Interestingly, I converted from knowing my weight in lbs/stone to kg when I started going to the gym many years ago. Now I hate the gym but am forever converted to kg; but measurements still have to be in feet/inches.  And in the States isn't it lbs and metres/centimetres?  how fickle we humans are.

So, getting back to the excess curves, it's not that I want to get any bigger, definitely not. Out of the females in my family I am still 'the slim one' but there is always the reminder it could all go wrong.  But I'm a healthy weight and as long as I'm maintaining that, or if I lose a bit Just Because, that's fine.  At least I know I'm getting exercise and I eat healthily - the calories aren't coming from alchohol and kebabs.


And I'm content.

If a physiotherapist ever tells me to go the gym, I will say No.   I used to enjoy it and know how satisfying the effects can be, but now I have developed a loathing for it. All sweat and no pleasure (ignoring the exercise endorphins). I'd rather get my exercise and strength from gardening, walking or cycling, or sailing once I get back into that, the view is so much better.  Not that I have anything against people who choose to go to the gym - each to their own, live and let live - and for some it is a choice of that or pounding city streets.  Not everyone has the countryside or garden that I am fortunate enough to enjoy on the doorstep.

So I ignored the fat-feeling, made a cup of tea and came out into the garden to write this and decide whether to mow the lawn this evening or wait until Thursday.

And I'm content.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Shorts: bed

... well today I feel just fine, yesterday must have been it so that's a Good Thing.

Last night I decided to chuck half the pillows off and sleep in the middle of the bed. Usually even when Mr H isn't home I sleep on My Side because it feels normal, so I felt a bit of a rebel.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

A strange feeling day

Tomorrow is 27th June, a date that has been etched on mine and Mr H's brain forever now. A date that has been written over and over in statements, reports, forms, diaries and numerous other documents over the last year.

27 June 2010 was a Sunday, so today is the day that I feel strange.  It was warm and sunny, just as it is today.  If Mr H and Django were here instead of in Scotland, today is the sort of day we'd say 'let's go out and sit by a river with a picnic', just as we did last year.

It's almost 4.30pm now and I feel as though I'm waiting for something, almost as if it is some kind of premonition.  It feels as though the day is being repeated somewhere in a parallel universe; as if every day is going to go round again on the same cycle, but without us in it.

I know that feeling 'out of sorts' (that phrase makes it sound like a bit of indigestion) is normal on the anniversary of trauma.

I also know that I (and Mr H) have come a long way in the last 12 months, and many things in my life have changed for the better, that might not have done otherwise.

So after this discomfiting couple of days are over, I will be back on the track - onwards and upwards. I reckon that I'm currently about 75% towards my 'normality' (a subject for another blog post), so just another 25% to go...

Saturday, 25 June 2011

BONs

I just glanced through the Blogs of Note for the first time in months.

Is it me, or... well I just don't get them.  I find them either weird or uninteresting (compared with the ones in my favourites list anyway).   And one of them hasn't been posted on since 2010, I guess whoever chose it missed that little detail.  Or maybe the whole concept has just gone tits-up (as they say)

Stuff you kid.... 6WS

Stuff you kid, sticks and stones....
Six Word Saturday

I walked into town today in shorts and a t-shirt - it's overcast but warm and I have a dodgy thermostat and tend to overheat.   Halfway down the road a bunch of teenagers drove past and the passenger leant out of the window and pretended to retch in my direction.  Yes they are pleasant lads around here.

So, a few things went through my mind:

Oh my god, do I look that bad?

Why do teenagers feel the need to be hurtful to complete strangers, just to impress their friends?  there's no way he'd have done it if he'd been alone.

"I bet I look better than you will at 45, sunshine."

"One day you'll realise that real women aren't Photoshopped."

"Your legs wouldn't look that brilliant if they'd been crushed for 90 minutes - shall I show you...?"

Ok, my legs don't look the best - cellulite and not much muscle tone to speak of just now (but I'm working on that one). And they are odd, I mean not matching, not just 'odd'.


For about 10 seconds I thought "maybe I shouldn't wear shorts" - very rapidly followed by "Fuck them, I'll wear what I damn well like, if they don't like it, they don't have to look."

At a flick of the points, that of course took my train of thought off to how much we judge what other people wear, and we women are particularly bad at this.  "Oh my god look at her, she SO shouldn't wear that top, what does she think she looks like?"

Now there are some fashions which I personally don't like, but it usually isn't personal to the individual wearing them (except that they should perhaps think before following fashion so rigorously). At the moment it is black footless tights and skirts/dresses, and those stupid little pump shoes that no-one over the age of 10 ought to wear (in my ever so humble opinion).

I do think over the last few months I have become a lot more accepting of other people, maybe it is the studying that is making me think before I judge.  As soon as someone makes a 'Daily Mail'* type statement I will be considering the other viewpoint, and even - if I'm feeling brave - voicing it.    (*UK readers will understand what I mean).  But it still needs work, there is something inside us all that likes to make ourselves feel better by denigrating others, whether spoken or unspoken.

Anyway, by the time I was walking home I didn't care if people were looking at my legs, it makes a change to them looking at my breasts at least.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

A challenge..

We all know, or have heard at some point in our lives, the Serenity prayer or some version of it:


"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference."



This evening I sat outside in the garden, thinking how incredibly calm and fulfilling life would be if we lived by that. I have read before about how a simple acceptance of things we cannot change can bring peace into uptight lives. 



But why do we find it so difficult?

There is always something to complain about - our jobs, our friends and family, the weather, 'the nights drawing in', the pile of ironing, bad drivers... I bet there are none of us immune to it.

Often when I am ranting, inwardly or outwardly about something, I realise the futility of it. And I don't often feel that much better afterwards either.

I challenge each and every one of us, next time we are about to open our mouths (or have thoughts which put more frown lines on our faces) and whine or rant about something, to remember the Serenity prayer and decide whether there is a better way of handling whatever it is winding us up...




Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Tuesday's gone with the wind

So, that was Tuesday.

Monday was full of e-mails, it took me all day to get through them all. Today thank goodness I had only a few so managed to get some work done (yes I know e-mails are work, but you know what I mean).  I've been trying to work out how I feel - at one moment like I've been run over by a steam-roller, at another relaxed and happy.  Last week took it out of me, or rather the last few weeks of really busy work mixed with revision.

This morning I turned the alarm off in my sleep and woke up at 8.27am - oh bugger - I had stayed up too late finishing a gripping police novel so it was my own fault. And then I lay awake worrying about psychos breaking in.  So then I had a mad rush for breakfast (can't face the day without some) but still cycled to work because I had promised myself not to use the car unless I have to. So I arrived at work a bit kerfuffled.

I felt a bit down this evening, I just felt limp and my leg was hurting which must be because yet again I've been considering cutting down on the DHC. I walked fast into town to catch the 6pm post with my letter to Mr H, and sat on a bench for a bit watching people before ambling home in the sunshine. I then cheered myself up by picking a pile of vegetables to go with the local sausages I got from the market.  It feels so good to eat fresh from the garden, it makes all the digging (thanks Mr H) and planting and hoe-ing and waiting worthwhile.   I even managed to mow the main lawn before it rains again.  'The main lawn' - that makes it sound as though we live on an estate with multiple lawns and water features and acres of vegetable garden.  Well we do have a fake stone bird bath.

My sister and her partner are coming down later this week, they stay at my parents' a couple of miles away.  So I'm going over on Thursday and we're all going out by the sounds of it; I'm not really in the mood but it will be good to see them.  Typically my great plans to start driving around visiting family has coincided with me deciding that I really need to cut down my expenditure.  But I do need to take a weekend trip soon, to see how I get on with the driving. I wish I had the van because I feel invincible in that... but will have to make do with the Golf for now.  One would think that I'd be more uncomfortable in the van because of the associations, but it's quite the opposite.

Now having rambled enough I am going to make a cup of tea and start reading "Zero Degrees of Empathy - a New Theory of Human Cruelty" which is a cheerful book by Simon Baron-Cohen.  Let's hope it doesn't give me nightmares....

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Peaceful interlude

What can I hear?

Django snoring,
The clock ticking
The tap of the laptop keyboard.
Birds trilling outside

Otherwise all is quiet.

Mr H has gone fly-fishing on the river, it's right outside the door so I will pop out and see him presently; maybe I will sneak up and take some photos before he sees me.

We've had a lovely few days - a long walk on the beach, a short but steep walk up to a local monument, and this morning a damp riverside walk.  My leg aches but it's worth it.


Tonight Mr H is playing a half-hour set at his local bar. It's threatened with closure and they have got 12 bands together to play a gig, it will be busy and full of chatter.

Tomorrow morning will be a walk by the river, cooked breakfast, then a drive to the station and tearful goodbyes.  By the time I get to Glasgow I will have recovered my composure and be looking forward to getting home... and hoping that there are no delays and missed connections as there were on the way up.

This week off work has seemed more like two, it will almost seem odd to be going to work on Monday morning...

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Notes to self...

Well the exam's over .... for another year anyway!  (I'm assuming here that I have managed 40% and won't be re-sitting in October...).  It went ok, I could answer all the questions and I feel all right about it. Not 'that was easy' but not 'that was awful' either.  

I now have 3 1/2 months of summer holiday before my 3rd year starts at the beginning of October, which will be 'Welfare, Crime and Society'.

I have learned a few things this year about studying, when there's an exam at the end (we didn't have one in the first year):

1. write good, clear notes during the year, even though it makes the reading more time consuming. I did this and it was a godsend when it came to revision.

2. my revision schedule worked - a month of rotating subjects, but making sure I took really good breaks as well.

3. try not to stress - after all it's not a life and death situation, and stress hormones aren't productive.

3. at the exam - don't sit with stressed people while waiting to go in!   I and three of my friends were sitting together quite happily, talking about other things. Two of our tutor group turned up, both intelligent girls. One was totally stressed out, and they started talking about subjects and the other one even had her text book out!  It totally screwed with our minds, even with my fingers in my ears, and we ended up going out and standing in the corridor to escape them.  Interestingly, one of them finished half an hour early, and the other one muttered afterwards about having totally screwed it up. So I'm not sure what that tells me.

So, tomorrow I have an 8 1/2 hour train journey up to Scotland.  Mr H is currently at his parents in Wales and he and Django will be racing me north in the van!  I can't wait, I haven't been up there since February, can you believe it?

I feel a bit weird at the moment to be honest, not quite sure what to do with myself after 9 months of feeling as though I should be reading/writing study stuff.  Although I'm glad to relax, I expect by September I'll be pleased when the box of new text books arrives...

Things I've done and survived

O-Levels, A-Levels, driving test, piano exams, violin exams, motorbike test; unexpectedly having to stand up on a chair and tell a bunch of millionaires which sails they can legally use. Getting married!

All those stressful situations I've survived.

I had a pretty anxious morning yesterday, but now I'm ready for this pissy little exam.  And in 24 hours I'll be on a train to Scotland :-)

Here is a photo of a beautiful poppy which is growing in the corner of my vegetable patch, self-seeded.   Isn't it just the best de-stressing sight?