A Room with a View

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Lest anyone think that my trip to Germany was purely cultural, I guess I should confess that that was far from the truth! In fact, my friend from OUE invited me to Germany for a party, and party we did...On the Saturday evening the parents of my friend's girlfriend hosted an amazing party for around 35 family members, friends from school, med school, grad school etc. A few people knew each other before, but there was no awkwardness between the various groups, in fact there was no splitting into groups at all. Everyone joined in with everyone else. The party had the most amazing dynamic with people of all ages and nationalities just getting along like old friends. It was the best party I've ever been to, and, to be honest, like Phantom, I'm not particularly a big fan of large social gatherings with many people I don't know. But this party just felt so comfortable (despite the fact that LLH, my Canadian friend and I were the only non-German speakers). I really liked that nobody was trying to be cool or wild, but that everyone was just having a really fun time. I chatted with amazing people, from my friend's Mum, Aunt and Uncle, to a Lithuanian archaeologist, to a whole host of doctors who kept telling me to 'drink this, it's good for you!'. And before I knew it, my friend was strumming along on a guitar and everyone was huddled around singing together, and I even danced! Yes, it was slightly surreal to be doing the Time Warp in a garden in rural Germany, but, yeah, it was a blast.
And, of course, there was a lot of schnapps shots going around, some of which were drunk with Brauser...

Brauser is a sherbert-type powder, which comes in several fruit flavours (it's in the little sachets in the bowl), and is usually mixed with water to make a soft-drink for children (my Canadian friend said it was a little like Kool Aid). But on this occasion it was not mixed with anything...our German hosts instructed us to tip the powder into our mouths, swiftly followed by a shot of schnapps and then to shake our heads like crazy before swallowing. And, whoooah, does it fizz and tingle...I'm pulling a face just thinking about it! If you're ever in Germany I can recommend it, but not more than one or two... ;)

Munching in Munster...

On our last day in Germany we visited the historic city of Munster. Unfortunately we only had a couple of hours to explore before setting off for the airport, but it was long enough to get a flavour of the Old Town area, and to explore the local churches and Cathedral.

The buildings have such ornate facades, and cute little shops and cafes nestled under their archways. Although the City was badly damaged during the Second World War, it has been sympathetically restored, sometimes with a clever mixture of modern and traditional design.

The University buildings are pretty impressive too, parts of it are housed in the former Castle buildings...

And, umm, yes, the little pavement cafes serve great coffee and AMAZING plum torte, but unfortunately that disappeared a little too quickly for me to photoblog ;)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

WABing...inspired by Shrinkykitten

One of my professors at law school frequently warned us against the perils of WABing (WAB = Work Avoidance Behaviour). I've always liked this word (although I've never heard it used by anyone outside of my law school and friends who've picked it up from me) as it seems a little more proactive than procrastination...I mean, it at least seems to suggest actively doing something to avoid work, right??! Better than just sitting around doing nothing??! Exactly. ;) And so today, I'm in WABing mode. Pink Cupcake WABing to be precise. Inspired by a great cupcake photo that the fabulous Shrinkykitten had on her blog recently, I decided to search ebay for pink cupcake photos and memorabilia. (Yes, I know, I really must do something productive soon.) Not sure whether these would be appropriate blogging attire? And I'm definitely a bit too large and old for these and this (although I love the T-shirt)...But will I be able to resist the Pink Cupcake Doll, or the Pink Cupcake necklace and earrings?!! ;)
The google hits were immense too...there's a whole other day of WABing just waiting to be had....stay tuned :)


All day I've been thinking about someone I've never met. My heart aches when thinking about her tremendous loss and what she and her family are going through right now. I wish I could do more.
Much love and thoughts, dear Badger and Badger Boy.
Update: Academic Coach has kindly offered to forward cards and letters to Badger, and contributions can still be made to the fund previously set up to support the Badger family.

Sunflower Blogging...

A little bit of Tuesday sunshine...

Architectural surprise...

Whilst in Germany last weekend, my friends took me to the small city of Herford, where a contemporary art gallery has recently opened. It's a fairly small, pleasant city, but seemingly unspectacular....until you see MARTa, the new gallery.
It was designed by Frank Gehry (who, amongst other things, also designed the Guggenheim in Bilbao) and is breathtaking. I was especially amazed at the way in which such elaborate and smooth curves had been created with bricks. What I enjoyed most was coming across this building in such an unexpected place. If I visit major cities and have some knowledge of their famous architecture, I can be somewhat prepared for what I might see. But this building was a bolt from the blue, we'd just been to the supermarket for groceries and my friend mentioned a short detour on the way home to see a local art gallery. Understatement, indeed.

Lost: Motivation

If found, please return to Pink Cupake in Procrastinationland... Many thanks.

Postcards Update

As promised, I did write postcards during my trip to Germany last weekend, but unfortunately time ran away with me and they weren't posted until I got back to the UK (I tried to find somewhere at the airport in Germany to buy stamps, but to no avail). So, apologies for the lack of authentic German stamps and postmark...To compensate I've also sent cards from my trip to York this weekend.


Distance doesn't normally matter much in the blogosphere, but over the past weekend it did to me. As I sat listening to weather forecasts in my in-laws' house in the North of England, my thoughts were with those affected by Hurricane Katrina. That's not unusual, such events always provoke me to think of others, but this time it wasn't merely complete strangers, but also people I know a little through their blogs. I know some of you live in that part of the US and I'm not sure where others of you are, but I truly hope you are all just fine...

Friday, August 26, 2005

Off again...

I feel like I haven't been around much recently. Only got back from Germany late Monday, then spent the next couple of days finding and buying a house, and now we're off to Yorkshire this evening. I'm glad to get away again, as at home I'd just be cleaning obsessively and trying to ensnare potential house buyers. Some distance from that is definitely a good thing right now. Plus we get to see LLH's parents and visit his best friend's new baby girl. :) Downside is that I'll have no internet connection, so I still won't get to catch up with blog reading or blogging about all the things I've been saving up from my trip to Germany. That'll all have to wait til Tuesday. Until then, have a great weekend...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

I didn't sleep. I didn't blog.

I didn't blog yesterday. I didn't sleep last night. The lack of one was not caused by the lack of the other, but they were both caused by a total rollercoaster of emotions and events that took over my brain. On Tuesday, I blogged that I had seen an amazing flat in TSC. Yesterday I went to see 7 more properties, and in the evening LLH and I revisited one of them (which had awesome sea views) and also the flat from the day before. LLH hadn't seen it before and I could tell immediately that he loved it as much as I did (although, being more lawyerly and reserved, he keeps a better grip on emotion than I do!). We spent about 40 minutes just wandering around and chatting with the agent. On the way home it was pretty clear that our minds were already made up. For us, it just stands immeasurably ahead of the other 15 properties I viewed. I can't imagine walking in anywhere else that just feels so right.
Practically, yes, it does need some work (but that's reflected in the price), and when you buy a property that's nearly 200 years old, you don't expect it to be perfect. In some ways that is part of the charm, although as our current home was only built five years ago (and we've owned it since then), it does take a little getting used to. It's in a beautiful Regency square conservation area, just metres from the sea and a short walk from the city centre.
But, before I get too dreamy (okay, I'm dreamy already, but am trying to keep my head), LLH and I need to secure the flat. We put in an offer this morning, which was accepted after an agonising couple of hours. That's great, but, of course, the show's not over until contracts are exchanged. As we haven't sold our house yet, we need a little time, but don't want others to be able to put competing offers in. The vendor agreed to a lock-out agreement whereby we make a deposit and the property will be removed from the market for a set period, during which we need to get an offer on our house. It all feels so stressful and overwhelming. I think I'll feel a bit better once the lock-out agreement is set (fortunately LLH's firm are on to this...yay for being married to a lawyer!), but I won't really rest easy until we exchange contracts and have a buyer. I want to get excited and make plans, but I can't just yet.
This whole thing has made me realize that I don't do well with stressful situations that are outside my control. If it's an exam or presentation or interview, or basically anything that I can prepare for and control to some extent, that's okay. Sure, I get nervous and freak out, but I feel that my success or failure is in large part dependent upon my own actions. With house-buying this is just not the case, and it makes me feel completely helpless, despite the fact I'm doing all I can to move things along. Yes, I do need to just chill-out, but that's easier said than done.
So, I guess I'd better start cleaning our house again for potential viewings *sigh*. I'm so SICK of cleaning, and it seems to be never ending. Plus, we're going away for the weekend tomorrow night, so it must all be perfect again before we leave. And why is it that our houseplants are all starting to die just when we need them to look good? Are the plants plotting against me?! Will the garden plants follow suit? Arrggghh.
Need coffee. Need chocolate. Now. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Back home and falling in love (ever so slightly)...

Arrived home late last night from an amazing long weekend in Germany. And, oh boy, do the Germans know how to PARTY! Not just in the sense of drinking and staying up late, but by creating a really social atmosphere...dancing, live music, communal singing, amazing food, good conversation. Simply great fun. Totally different to partying in the UK. Actually the hospitality all weekend was wonderful...We were totally spoilt and I was more relaxed than I have been in ages. It was good to finally get on a plane and leave the Country for the first time in over 2 years. I felt released. I have tons to blog about the trip and lots of photos too (I can't believe how much happened in four days). I also want to blog about a few things that the trip provoked me to think about. But more on all that tomorrow, for now my thoughts are elsewhere...
I'm falling in love with a flat that I viewed today. I viewed six today. Some were awful, some very nice, but this one was very special. It's in an awesome location (a place I never imagined I'd be able to live in), and whilst it needs some work, it is pretty damn spectacular already. Huge rooms, high ceilings, original period features, sea views....Oh, I like it very much indeed. We're going back tomorrow so that LLH can view it too. It's not practical (not least because the ceilings are so high that it would cost a fortune to heat, and, oh yeah, that wouldn't be possible right now as the heating system is a bit primitive *la la la, not thinking about this*), but it does just grab me. Of course, the main problem is that we haven't sold our current place. Some promising viewings over the weekend, but no offers as yet. If LLH really likes it tomorrow, we're gonna have to do some very serious thinking. I'm finding it all pretty exhausting, emotionally and physically, but I guess that's only to be expected. Going back all day tomorrow to view more properties. The more I visit the city, the more I want to live there NOW. Today I had coffee in a beach-front cafe with breathtaking views, and it was so easy to think clearly whilst looking out at the sea with beautiful coastline stretching either side of me.
Feeling sleepy, but really want to catch up on a little blog reading before I turn in. I think it was very good for me to be away from the internet and email for the first time in ages, but I did miss blogging (both writing and reading) more than I expected, and continually made mental notes of things to blog about (whilst taking accompanying photos!). I guess I'm hooked. ;)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Vacation music...

I'm beginning to get very excited about going away tomorrow. Although we're only going to be in Germany for a few days, it feels like a bit of a milestone for me. Over the past year or so we had to cancel all our plans for non-UK vacations, mainly because I wasn't feeling well enough to travel, so it's wonderful to finally begin travelling again.
Whilst packing and cleaning, I've been thinking about songs that I associate with particular places that I've been to...I can't listen to the Foo Fighters' Learn to Fly without thinking about this random little supermarket in Novgorod, Russia, where the staff were wearing outfits just like those worn by the flight attendants in the Learn to Fly video...very surreal. And, Nickelback's How You Remind Me brings back memories of a coach journey between Tallinn, Estonia and St. Petersburg, Russia. I must have listened to that song about a billion times whilst making that trip. David Gray's Babylon will always remind me of hiking in the Polish mountains, as it was blaring out on the radio in a little snack bar at the top of one mountain. Umm, what else? Oh yes, Toploader's Dancing in the Moonlight takes me back to dinner in the Sphinx restaurant in Krakow's Old Town Square. That's a particularly good memory, as it's such an uplifting song from a band local to where I'm from in the UK, and we heard it whilst sharing a great meal with friends. Does anyone else have songs that remind them of particular places??
Right, well I may not post again before I leave early in the morning...I'm going to miss the blog for a few days (I doubt I'll be able to post, but will try to sneak one in if I can) and all of your blogs too. Have a great weekend and see you on Tuesday. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Five questions from Bright Star...

Bright Star wrote these five questions for me. If you'd like to play along too, post a comment on this post, and I'll then e-mail five questions to you. You should then answer the questions on your blog, and offer to ask 5 questions to others. And so the fun spreads. :)
Right, on to my questions:
What is your favourite sweet/dessert (besides pink cupcakes!)?
I LOVE desserts, although I usually find it difficult to find room for one after a meal out, so desserts tend to become separated from dinner for me...that way I can enjoy them fully! As for my favourite, that's definitely Banoffi Pie. But my top ten (yes, I know that wasn't the question, but this is an important subject, right?) would definitely include...Treacle Sponge Pudding with custard (just like my grandmother used to make), Lemon Meringue Pie, Tiramisu, Strawberry or Cherry Cheesecake, Chocolate Fudge Cake (warm...yummy!), Profiteroles with Chocolate Sauce, Strawberry Tart, Pistachio Ice Cream and Lemon Sorbet. Having said that, I almost never have such desserts at home, it's usually fruit for me. I've been eating lots of blueberries and raspberries recently, and at the moment I'm craving water melon.
What is your earliest childhood memory?
I don't have very clear memories of my childhood at all, certainly not before I was 7 or 8 years old. I don't remember anything about the first house I lived in (until I was 5), and my only knowledge of this is from photographs and stories that relatives and family friends have told me. Actually, it's always bothered me that I don't seem to recall much about my early childhood. Most of my friends seem to have much more vivid recollections. So, what is actually my earliest memory? I'm afraid it's not a particularly happy one (sorry B*, I'm sure you intended a jollier answer than this). It is standing in the living room at home with my grandmother. It was the middle of the night and we watched an ambulance take my father to hospital. He'd collapsed and lost a lot of blood (ultimately he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and had part of his stomach removed). My parents and grandmother shielded much of this from me. But I was only 7, and I remember standing in that room feeling very alone and very afraid.
Do you play any sports? If yes, which ones? If not, why not?
I played a few sports at school, mainly because I had to! My main problem is that I'm just pretty useless (particularly at ball sports), and the competitiveness of teams at school just put me off. I did row for a few years, and was quite good at that...I guess because there was no need for me to catch or hit anything! LLH and I also played Badminton for a while too, but as he's a foot taller than me (he's very tall, I'm not especially short!), it was pretty one-sided. So exercise-wise I'm not really a team sport kinda gal. I mainly enjoy walking and hiking, and we've spent several vacations stomping around mountains in beautiful places. I'd also like to learn T'ai Chi and maybe do some yoga.
Do you have the career you imagined for yourself back when you were 12? If not, what did you imagine you would be when you grew up?
When I was 12 I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up, so I guess I'm still along the same lines. Having said that, I don't think I would ever have dreamt that I would become an academic lawyer, much more the power-dressing LA Law variety. ;) But, to be honest, I don't know that I see myself as an academic lawyer in the long term either. I like what I'm doing right now, and I enjoyed another career in politics before I started my first Law degree 6 years ago, but I don't have a concrete idea of what I want to be doing in five or ten years. I don't think I could be a corporate-type lawyer anymore, but I wouldn't rule out going into practice as a lawyer for a charity or something. I'd also like to explore other opportunities in politics/public service. And, yeah, teaching and research sounds pretty good too.
Are you happy that you've started to blog? What do you think about blogging now that you've had a blog for a little while?
I'm definitely very happy that I've started to blog! I'd been reading blogs for a few months, but kept putting off starting my own, even though I knew I wanted to. What do I think about blogging now? I LOVE IT! I like so many different things about it. I like having a space to write about all sorts of things, whether funny, trivial, serious, happy, sad... I like getting to know other people through their blogs and comments, and I love the sense of community that exists in this part of the blogosphere. It's been a delight to get to know a little about so many interesting and friendly people. I'm also getting quite into photo-blogging, which has made me more interested in photography generally. And, I'm hoping to learn more about html and other technical stuff, which I'm pretty ignorant about right now...watch this space!
Thanks for the questions, B*. :)

Where was I then...

As seen over at Profgrrrrl's place...
  1. 21 years ago I was on a beach holiday in Majorca with my parents and Godparents. The area we went to wasn't very touristy back then, and as we went to the same place for several years, we got to know lots of the locals very well. And, as I was only 7, everyone spoilt me. :) I loved spending hours looking round the gift shops, and chatting with the old lady who sold ice-lollies on the beach. 1984 was also the summer that I did my vacation project on the Los Angeles Olympic Games. I made a huge scrap book and even remember making medals from shiny sweet wrappers!
  2. 20 years ago I was again in Majorca with my family. I think this was the year that we travelled around the island quite a bit. I remember visiting Chopin's former home in the beautiful mountain town of Valledemosa.
  3. 15 years ago I went to the States with my parents. We visited LA, San Francisco and Las Vegas. It was a wonderful vacation, and although we didn't know it at the time, it was to be our last vacation as a family, before my father died the following April. For that reason above all, I hold close so many happy memories of those three weeks.
  4. 5 years ago was the summer that I completed my first year at University, and got married and went on honeymoon. We had a large wedding in June, but had to postpone our honeymoon until later, as my end of year exams began exactly a week after our wedding (bad planning, but the wedding date was booked a year before I was accepted into university). We eventually went to Poland in September and had the most amazing time. One week exploring the mountains from the town of Zakopane, and another week in beautiful Krakow.
  5. I year ago I was in OUE City. I wasn't particularly well, but it was nice to be living in College over the summer with less students around, although the city itself was heaving with tourists. I also spent part of the summer in the New Forest with LLH. Such a relaxing environment with wonderful wildlife and many lovely tea shops. :) Hopefully we can go back later this summer too...
  6. Yesterday LLH and I went to Trendy Seaside City to look for a new home. We viewed a few properties and picked up details for a lot more. We also got to have lunch at an outside cafe...yum! Can't wait to live there.
  7. Today I'm at home trying to get lots of jobs done, which, having stopped for a quick lunch, I'd better get back to...

Postcards from Germany...

I thought it was fun when other bloggers offered to send postcards from their vacations this summer, so thought I'd join in too. :) If you'd like one from Germany, just e-mail me your address and I'll ensure that a card wings it way to you...
My e-mail address is roomwithaviewblog@hotmail.co.uk
Please e-mail before 9pm (UK time) on Thursday, as I have to get to bed as early as possible before we leave for the airport at 3am. Grrrrr!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Things to do tomorrow...

Before I go to bed, I think I'd better write a list of things to be getting on with when I get up! I was out house-hunting all day (productive, but lots to follow-up on), but there's a lot I must do before we leave for Germany at 3am (gah!) on Friday morning. Here we go...
  1. Do laundry (particularly things we need to take away).
  2. Make list of things we need to take to Germany.
  3. Tidy garden.
  4. Revive wilting house plants!
  5. Tidy house (how does it go from perfect to dump in less than 24 hours?!).
  6. Begin cleaning house (yet again!) in case potential buyers view over the weekend.
  7. Call various estate agents to arrange viewings in Trendy Seaside City early next week.
  8. Look through this weeks' property listing magazines. Follow up leads.
  9. Make database of all the estate agents we are dealing with in TSC.
  10. Register for online property updates from estate agents.
  11. Telephone estate agents that we haven't contacted yet. Introduce myself and e-mail across PDF of preferred area map and our details. (Okay, yeah, there's a property obsession in this list, and I'm a bit over-organised about it!).
  12. Complete important paperwork relating to my research. (Must. Do. This. Must not keep transferring it to another list. It will NOT go away by itself!)
  13. Wade through rapidly increasing paperwork mountain and try to create order, or at least stop an avalanche. ;)
  14. Answer e-mails to friends. They have been in my Inbox WAY too long!
  15. Answer work related e-mails.
  16. Write list (here we go again! wheee!) of things to do when I get back from Germany.
  17. Answer my 5 Questions from B*. I feel like a lazy schoolgirl for not getting round to them yet, especially as I'm really looking forward to answering them. Expect a treatise on my favourite desserts. ;)
  18. Buy gifts for friends in Germany.
  19. Blog...blog...blog. I've been out so much recently that I just haven't had time to read, commemt and blog myself! Woe is me ;)

That's all I can think of right now...no doubt other things will come to me around 2am....

Monday, August 15, 2005

Monday Fountain Blogging

We saw this fountain when we were out house-hunting yesterday...

We also saw this...

This is one of my favourite buildings, and it has amazing gardens too. (If you know this part of the UK and you know where this is, that's great, but I'd prefer it if you didn't mention the name of the city in comments. Thanks.) No doubt there will be lots of future photoblogging from here. :)

Stationery addiction...

I love stationery! I love pens, paper, little sticky things, paper clips, folders, notebooks...I love it all. From the big, industrial, practical stuff, to fancy notebooks and pens with fluffy pink stuff on top, I'm hooked. Whenever I buy stationery, I can't possibly leave without at least one thing (usually more) that I didn't intend to buy. As I won't have a study or desk again until we move, I don't really have space for anything new, so I'm trying to be good. But, oh boy, when I have a new work area, it'll be stationery-shopping- a-go-go.
To whet my appetite, I did pick up a new academic year diary yesterday (which I do need), which has a multi-coloured striped cover...very snazzy! I did want to buy one with cute, glittery pink cats on it, but LLH convinced me that it may not be the most appropriate thing to take to serious meetings. Well, I guess, so I just had to buy the glittery pink cat notebook instead... :)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Moving on...

Today we went to Trendy Seaside City to scope out potential areas to live in. We walked miles and miles, but we made a lot of progress, and even when we ruled out areas, I'm glad that we at least looked at them before doing so. I also really liked that we got to see so much more of the city than we do when we just visit to go shopping or for a particular event...it really made it begin to feel like home. We stumbled across tons of amazing places. So many lovely cafes, bars and restaurants, outside gardens, art galleries, masses of small, independent shops (as well as all the big names), at least 6 theatres...mmmm, bliss!
The area we've chosen is also a great location. Around 5 minutes walk to the sea (at least half of the roads we're looking at have amazing sea views), 10 minutes walk to the very centre of the City, and about 15 minutes to the main railway station. Living there is going to open up so many more possibilities, and that is something I'm very excited about. It's a hugely cosmopolitan city with a lot going on. To me this move is about much more than just changing the property we live in (although that's very important too, and I'll blog about that soon), it's about living somewhere, rather than the middle of nowhere. I know that many people prefer the quieter life of villages, but I don't. I want to walk down the beach in the winter with the waves crashing on the shore. I want to sip coffee in great little coffee shops where I can work on my research. I want to browse all sorts of book shops. I want to sit in the park on Sunday afternoon and listen to live music. I want to be able to travel to other places easily. I want to find new things to challenge me and to comfort me. And, I can do all of this here.
I feel tired now, but good tired. Relaxed and sleepy from all of the sea air and walking. We're going back on Tuesday to meet local estate agents, so I'll be doing a lot more planning and research tomorrow. I think tomorrow morning will also be a time for making lists! I want to be productive on many fronts this week. More on that tomorrow, when I'll also blog a few of the photos that I took today, and answer the 5 wonderful questions that Bright Star wrote for me. And with that, I'm off to bed. :)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The World's Largest Garden Spade...

Yes, indeed! Following yesterday's revelation that the World's Largest Garden Spade is now on display at the Sleepy Boring Village Garden Centre, I decided to enter into a little investigative photo-blogging to see if SBV is really living up to its pseudonym. Yes, dear readers, I will stop at nothing to bring you cutting-edge stories from this little corner of the world. ;) So, here we go...
First up, the no-expense-spared sign, clearly designed to lure thousands of vistors into the garden centre...

Once inside we had to vie with the masses for a parking space (well, not so much)...

And then, the big moment arrived, we saw the spade in all its glory...

As you can see from the chairs next to it, it was a reasonable size, but not nearly as big as I'd imagined. (Yes, LLH and I did ponder upon the size of the spade yesterday evening. I know, we need to get out more!) In fact, I'm sure that anyone wishing to break the world record wouldn't have too much trouble. Not that anyone would want to, of course. There were even pin badges to commemorate this auspicious occasion. ;) (Unfortunately the photo of the badge didn't come out well.) So there you have it, I do indeed live in Boringsville.

Oh yeah, I must confess that this photo-blogging would not have been possible were it not for the intrepid nature of LLH. The spade was positioned right by the check-out at the garden centre and there were tons of people around, and, ummm, I was way too embarrassed to stand there with a camera. I mean, what kind of geek would do that?! Even LLH took a little while to pluck up the courage - we walked around the garden centre so many times that we must have looked suspicious. In the end, I snuck off to buy cookies while he did the deed. :)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Pink Cupcake Blogging...

LLH found these in our local supermarket...

...so now I can truly be the Pink Cupcake blogger. Anyone for tea and cake?

(Actually, these were the exact type of Pink Cupcake that led my Wonderfully Chic French Friend to give me the inspiration for my pseudonym.)

Tooth. Ache. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Yes, I realise that today there are more rrrrr's in my grrrrrrr than even Profgrrrrl has, but my teeth hurt and I'm sulking. :( I've been in pain since Wednesday's tooth drilling and root canal filing marathon, so went back to the Dentist today. Apparently the abscess that he's trying to treat has flared up big time, so now I'm on antibiotics and yet more pain killers. Double grrrrrrrr! I know, a lot of people have it way worse than I do right now, so I do feel really guilty for whining on. I think it's just the combination of no sleep for two nights, feeling a bit feverish and also woozy from the pain meds. Plus the whole teeth thing has meant that I've been entirely useless for three days...haven't done a thing. Infact, it's gotten so bad that this afternoon I found myself watching an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 for the first time in, ummm, 15 years. I've never seen this particular season, which I guess (hope) was probably the last. I mean, what's with all the characters finally graduating from the same High School and all enrolling in the same College, in (yes, you've guessed it) Beverly Hills? Credible? I think not.
Right, grizzling over...where's the remote control?

Just too much excitement...

Maybe I've been wrong all along about Sleepy Boring Village (SBV). I was just flicking through the local weekly newspaper and noticed that the World's Largest Garden Spade is on display at the SBV Garden Centre this weekend. Dig it! (Ooooh, sorry, I know, really bad pun.) Just hope that the local amenities will be able to cope with the hoards of visitors that will doubtless descend upon SBV from all over the UK. Better set my alarm early to be first in the queue. ;)
In other local news, Sleepy Boring Seaside Town (SBST) has employed a marketing agency to help shed its image as 'God's Waiting Room', and, of course, the local news paper has an article on this. Yep, that would be the article right across the page from one about a local resident's 101st Birthday party, and the page after the advert for a new denture clinic...Clearly the rebranding is going well so far.
So, yeah, I wanna sell my house quickly and get the hell outta here...
Update: Apologies to anyone who read this before I noticed the erroneous apostrophe (now removed) in the second paragraph. I think the pain medication has obliterated my grammatical ability!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

At the Zoo

I was sitting in a coffee shop in Sleepy Boring Seaside Town this morning when Simon and Garfunkel's 'At the Zoo' came on the radio. I was immediately back at Gorky Park, Moscow in Summer 2002. It was our last day there, and LLH and I were determined that we wouldn't miss a thing. The heat was oppressive, and we'd just caused tremendous hassle by buying two ice creams from a street vendor who didn't have much change. We'd already walked at least 20 miles that day, yet we wanted to go to the White House before we stopped. We both had vivid memories of TV footage of Yeltsin climbing on a tank just outside this building, and wanted to see it for ourselves. We started walking, and to keep us going down a seemingly endless road we began singing 'At the Zoo'. 'Zebras are reactionaries...Antelopes are missionaries'...and so we trundled on. I don't know why that particular song, maybe we saw a sign for Moscow Zoo, maybe something at Gorky Park had brought it to mind. But every time I hear it now, I can see the scene as clearly as if it were yesterday.

Happy things...

  1. We're going to a party...in Germany! It does seem a bit decadent to fly all the way there for a party, especially as it's not a wedding or a really special occasion, just a regular Saturday night party. But I'm so glad we're going. It's in the hometown of one of my closest friends from OUE, and four of our other close friends will be there. I'm so looking forward to seeing them again. We all lived together until June, and I really miss our regular coffee breaks and late night wine drinking sessions. We're going for four days, so I'm also looking forward to exploring a part of Germany I've never been to. Only 8 days until my mini-vacation...
  2. The weekend after our mini-vacation in Germany, we're going on another one. (Yes, I don't know exactly when we're going to find the time to look for a new home either!) Well, actually this one's not really a vacation...we're heading up North to stay with LLH's parents and to visit his best friend's New Baby Girl, who is a week old today! We've been getting telephone updates, but it will be great to meet NBG in real life, and to see how her Mum and Dad are coping as first time parents. It'll also be interesting to see how LLH deals with the whole baby thing. Bless him, he's not a natural (that said, nor am I!), and babies usually scream before he gets anywhere near (can they sense at such a young age that he's a cut-throat commercial lawyer!!?).
  3. The Foo Fighters are playing in London in December. Yay! Must get tickets as soon as they go on pre-sale tomorrow.
  4. Only another 15 minutes before I can take more pain medication for my sore mouth. (Happy thing = pain relief, not the sore mouth! I already whined about that over at Phantom's place.)
  5. Tomorrow is beauty salon day...my eyebrows will have shape again. :)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Where I'm at and where I'm going...

The last two years seem very surreal to me right now. I moved to OUE City in September 2003, and moved back home just over two months ago. It has been a time of so many different and conflicting emotions.
I was thrilled to become a grad student at OUE. I met the most amazing people...people who were captivated by and enthusiastic about all aspects of life. I made wonderful friends who excite and inspire me. They are some of the smartest and most dedicated people I've ever known. More importantly, they couple their tremendous ability with seemingly endless compassion and thoughtfulness.
I felt so fortunate to have the resources that were available to me academically. I could not have wished for better libraries, classes, seminars, professors. I am still a little in awe of who my supervisor is. I was very excited to be able to work with him, and I relished the prospect of researching full-time in my field.
Despite all the change and all the newness, I fitted in well. OUE is sometimes daunting and bewildering, but I found my niche. I became very involved, not least as President of Graduates in my College. It was not long before I really felt that I belonged. I was part of a community.
I had every reason to be happy and content, but I was falling apart inside. I was depressed, confused and eventually I sought help. I don't believe (nor does my therapist or doctor) that my depression in any way stemmed from my moving to OUE City, but it had a massive impact on my time there. I've written before about the impact of my depression on my ability to work, which was enormously difficult to deal with in an environment that prizes achievement and success so highly. But, aside from having to tell some people about my depression (my supervisor, my closest friends etc.), I lived a life that was far removed from the way I felt inside. I was the person other people leant on. I was strong, happy, active, involved. I felt like a bit of a fraud, but I wasn't trying to put on a brave front...I was getting on with my life the only way I could. It seemed incongruous that I would promote graduate issues and support individual students, yet couldn't cope with my own life. This still confuses me.
I began to feel better a few months ago, but just as I was getting to grips with things, everything changed dramatically again. Stupidly, LLH and I had never worked out any clear plans for the five years that I would be at OUE. Different plans for one or other of us to move had surfaced from time to time, but nothing had ever materialised. We just got on with things, but eventually that stopped being possible. We didn't work apart. One of us had to move. And whilst we would both preferred to have lived in OUE City, the practicalities of life (mostly LLH's current job) made that impossible.
And so I moved back to Sleepy Boring Village. I love being back with LLH and it's exciting that we'll (hopefully!) soon be moving to Trendy Seaside City, but I'm having difficulty figuring out where I'm at right now...I haven't really gotten back into my academic work since being unwell, and I'm desperate to regain some confidence in my ability, but I'm not finding that easy right now. It's difficult to be completely away from an academic environment, especially as OUE does not tend to have grad students that live away (until their last few months). It's even more difficult that I don't have anywhere to work at home right now. Our study is now a spare bedroom (to make the house more marketable!) and all the desks and bookcases are in pieces in the attic. I don't think these physical barriers would bother me as much if I didn't feel so isolated. I don't really know anyone where we live right now and it's not the kind of place where I'd find it easy to meet people and get involved, and, of course, we'll be moving in the next few months anyway.
Anyway, I'm rambling...this post may not make much sense. I'm hoping that writing it will help me to begin to work things out. I need to figure out where I'm going with my research. I need to work out how OUE fits into my life - I'll still be a student there for the next three years, but can't define myself by my active involvement anymore. I need to create a new life here. I need to create balance between all of these things. Tomorrow I'll start to figure this out...

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Question Meme

1. What is your first name? Not telling! But I've always been glad that my parents chose it.
2. Were you named after anyone? My first name is the name of the lead female character in my Father's favourite book. And, my middle name is the name of my Great Great Grandmother. Most of the other women in our family have the month of their birth as their middle name...May, June, April are okay, but February (when I was born) not so much.
3. Do you wish on stars? Afraid not. I'm too much of a realist for that kind of thing.
4. When did you last cry? About a week ago. That's quite a long while for me. I cry about a lot of things, but never in front of anyone, except LLH.
5. Do you like your handwriting? I used to have lovely handwriting, but it was ruined by several years of taking hurried lectures notes at university.
6. What is your favourite lunch meat? I'm not really a meat girl...can I have smoked salmon instead?
7. What is your most embarrassing CD? Before I met LLH I had more than a few embarrassing CDs, the worst of which was probably one by Curtis Steigers. But when LLH and I moved in together he culled my collection (actually, it may have been a condition of our living together...). He has fantastic taste in all types of music, which I seem to have gained by osmosis over the years. The most embarrassing CD I have now is probably the soundtrack to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. :)
8. If you were another person, would you be friends with you? Definitely.
9. Do you have a journal? No, I've started several, but never manage to keep going for more than a week or so. I'd like to have one.
10. Do you use sarcasm a lot? Absolutely. But I'm not sure that people always get it.
11. What are your nicknames? Like Russian Violets, I have one that is the first three letters of my real name, and another that is the last five letters of it. My friends at OUE call me 'Mummy MCR' (MCR is the name of our graduate student body) as I was President of Graduates in our College last year, and everyone came to me for anything and everything at all times of the day and night. And, of course, my French friend calls me Pink Cupcake!
12. Would you bungee jump? Absolutely NOT.
13. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? Not if I can help it. Haven't worn laced shoes recently though, seem to be living in my green Birks.
14. Do you think you are strong? Everyone else does. I always appear strong to others (again, except LLH), but sometimes on the inside I feel very weak.
15. What is your favourite ice cream flavour? Pistachio or Baileys...mmmm.
16. Shoe size? 6 in UK sizes.
17. Red or pink? Pink, of course. I'm not Red Cupcake, am I?!
18. What is your least favourite thing about yourself? That I worry far too much, and I'm not as slim as I'd like to be.
19. Who do you miss most? My Dad. I think about him so often and always wonder what he would have thought about the different things that happen in my life.
20. Do you want everyone you send this to, to send it back? I'm not sending it to anyone, but anyone that wants to should do it!
21. What colour pants (trousers) and shoes are you wearing? White pants and no shoes.
22. What are you listening to right now? Nothing.
23. Last thing you ate? An Itsy. Yes, I had no idea what it was before today either. I went out for lunch with my Mum, and the restaurant had these mini mousse-type desserts served in espresso cups. I had a Tiramisu Itsy.
24. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? Ooooh, I don't know - so many to choose from. Maybe pink, lilac or blue, and definitely not brown or black.
25. What is the weather like right now? Warm.
26. Last person you talked to on the phone? LLH.
27. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex? Height (I like tall) and hair (or rather lack of, I love the Michael Stipe look). Fortunately, LLH is 6 foot 4 and has VERY short hair. In non-physical terms, intellect, wit and compassion are most important. I'm not very demanding, am I?!
28. Where did you find this meme? On several blogs...Rhonda, Bright Star and Russian Violets to name a few.
29. Favourite drink? Mocha Frappuccino.
30. Favourite sport? Tennis and Cricket...How English am I? ;)
31. Hair colour? Mousey, light brown naturally, but I've been blonde for over ten years.
32. Eye colour? Brown.
33. Do you wear contacts? No.
34. Favourite food? Scones, jam and cream, washed down with a pot of darjeeling.
35. Last movie I watched? Frida. And I thought it was amazing.
36. Favourite day of the year? The first day of any vacation.
37. Scary Movies or Happy Endings? Both.
38. Summer or Winter? Can't I pick Spring? I like the sunshine and flowers, but not the heat.
39. Hugs or kisses? Again, both!
40. What is your favourite dessert? Banoffee Pie.
41. Who is most likely to do this meme? Someone who can be bothered to answer more than 50 questions...it seems never ending!
42. Who is most likely to this meme and comment? Who knows?
43. What are you reading? The Biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera. I was transfixed by the current exhibition of her work at the Tate Modern, so I'm having a bit of a Frida-fest at the moment. Also, A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf.
44. What's on your mousepad? I don't have one.
45. What did you watch last night on TV? Just the news. I'm a news junkie.
46. Favourite smells? Cakes and bread baking, freshly brewed coffee, lavender and Molton Brown shower gels.
47. Favourite sounds? Rain beating hard against my bedroom window when I am warm and tucked up under the bedcovers. And, REM playing live.
48. Rolling Stones or The Beatles? The Beatles.
49. What's the furthest you've been from home? China.
50. Do you have a special talent? All cats really like me, is that special enough?!
51. What is your ringtone? Just a regular ring-ring.
Wow, finally the end...

Sunday, August 07, 2005


I feel frustrated that I've had a wasted day. Not wasted in a good way by doing fun things rather than work...but just a day of nothingness. I've been doing stuff all day, but just don't feel like I've achieved anything. In fact, I don't really know what I have been doing. I certainly wasn't just sitting around, but feel as though I may as well have been. The day just slipped by and I didn't get with it. I get really annoyed with myself when this happens. I should just take time out to read, listen to music and relax when I feel this way. But, no, I always force myself to accomplish something...except I never succeed on days like today. I'm not so much frustrated by my lack of accomplishments, but because I beat myself up about it. I really wish I didn't have to try so hard to relax...surely relaxing should be, umm, relaxing??

Saturday, August 06, 2005

One of my favourite places...

Whenever Lovely Lawyer Husband and I have something big to discuss or want to make future plans, we go here...

This was once Rudyard Kipling's home and is now owned and maintained by the National Trust. It's a beautiful Jacobean house with its fantastic gardens, and Kipling's study is pretty much as he left it. But, I have to admit that I haven't actually been in the house for several years. We did the full-tour the first time we visited, but now we just tend to use our National Trust membership to take advantage of the gardens...

...and the delightful tea rooms (yay for freshly baked scones and homemade soup...mmmm!). It is in these tea rooms and on the peaceful outside terrace that LLH and I have made so many decisions and plans over the years...This was where LLH finalised the structure of his Masters dissertation and where we worked out how on earth we could finance my first year as a grad student. And, today it was where we discussed our search for a new home and other things we want to achieve over the next few months. We always go armed with notebooks to write lists of our goals and things-to-do (which clearly bemuses the other visitors enjoying their cream teas), and I always leave with a sense of accomplishment, motivation and excitement. It's a place that is both calming and invigorating at the same time.

Friday, August 05, 2005

My first Friday Random Ten...

Here we go...

Don't go back to Rockville - REM

She - Suede

Extraordinary Girl - Green Day

Do the Evolution - Pearl Jam

Losing my Religion - REM

The Drugs Don't Work - The Verve

Dance, Dance, Dance - The Beach Boys

Bang and Blame - REM

Hound Dog - Elvis Presley

Firestarter - The Prodigy

It's Friday...Let's celebrate!

In a moment of madness (a.k.a. a health-kick), Lovely Lawyer Husband and I decided that we would stop drinking alcohol from 1st August. It's not that either of us drink excessively, but we thought that it would be generally healthier (and would help with losing a bit of weight) if we stopped having wine with dinner etc. etc. In the past we've tried to cut back a bit by just having one glass, but we've been pretty lame on the willpower front once the bottle's open. (Actually, I blame LLH and his surreptitious topping-up tendencies for this!)

Anyway, being lawyers (even if I'm just an academic one, as opposed to the real type), we of course had to have an exception to our general prohibition. We decided that we would drink champagne on celebratory occasions...birthdays, holidays, finishing PhD (that one will be a whole cellar load of champagne!). Being even more lawyerly and in need of a start-the-weekend drink, we've been working on construing a broad definition of 'celebratory occasion'. The reasoning kinda goes...It's Friday. It's the weekend. Let's celebrate.
Actually, we're not quite as lame as it sounds...we do have a slightly better reason to celebrate. We've finally finished getting our house ready to sell - yay! It seemed to take forever and the last minute jobs meant that we only got just over 3 hours sleep last night. But, it seems to be paying off...two estate agents have visited already and the valuations are as good as we'd hoped. They also said the property was perfectly presented (yay for our House Doctoring skills!) and should sell pretty quickly. So, okay, it hasn't sold yet and there's more hard work to come, but hell, as Kool and the Gang would say....Celebrate good times, come on! Now where's the champagne??

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Thank you!

Just wanted to say THANK YOU to everyone who has commented on my blog this week - it's been great to hear from you. You've made me feel very welcome and I really do appreciate it. :)


I haven't been writing this blog for a week yet, but I'm already totally hooked. I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy actually being a blogger, as opposed to a reader (the lawyer in me is desperate to call that 'bloggee'!), but it feels really good to have a space to write about whatever I want, even if it's sometimes just short inconsequential ramblings. The downside is that the past week has been much crazier than usual, and I haven't been able to blog nearly as much as I'd like. But, I do keep catching myself converting my musings into potential blog posts, which (even though I haven't yet had time to write them!) has really helped me to clarify my thoughts and process things logically. This is massively important to me. I've always relied very heavily on my brain, but things changed 18 months or so ago when I became really unwell with depression, and spent the next year struggling with various different medications.

I don't know how much of it was the depression, the medications or a combination of both, but my brain just stopped working. I couldn't think. I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't work. I couldn't read. I went from being someone who graduated top of her year in Law School, to someone who could barely write a thank-you letter. I was desperate, and I had no idea how I would ever complete my PhD at a Oldest University in England (OUE). I felt like I was letting everyone (including myself) down. I felt like a fraud who didn't deserve to be at such a prestigious university. I felt awful.

I was however very fortunate. Everyone at OUE was incredibly supportive and they also provided me (and still do) with an amazing therapist. I've now been off medication for 7 months and am much better than I ever thought I would be. Which brings me back to why I'm so happy to be able to think enough to write even the most mundane of blog posts. It means my brain is slowly beginning to get back into the game. And that is something I'm hugely relieved about. I feel like I'm starting to be me again.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Why am I such a scaredy-cat?

A grasshopper just invaded my kitchen and started jumping around the walls and blinds...arrrggghh! I completely freaked out and called Lovely Lawyer Husband. I'm not sure what I thought he could do, I mean, he could hardly say 'Hi Honey, yes, no problem, I'll just leave the office to drive home and save you'. If fact, being the utterly rational guy he is, he went through the spiel of telling me that I was much bigger than the grasshopper, and that it was likely to be more scared of me, blah, blah, blah. Well, I can't jump about 100 times my height and I don't make a weird hissing noises (not unless I'm really grizzly!).
So, what did I do? Realising that LLH could not leave work and run to my rescue...I called my Mum. Yes, I'm 28 and left home 9 years ago, but the grasshopper was big and creepy looking ;) Fortunately my Mum jumped in her car and raced the two miles from her house to catch it (while I monitored movement...from a beyond-jumpable distance).
I'm so glad it's gone, but I do wish I wasn't such a scaredy-cat.

Anything that can go wrong...

I know I'm a day early for Wednesday Whining over at the Phantom Scribbler, but I've already decided that I definitely should have stayed hidden under the bedcovers this week. We're just two days away from three estate agents coming to value our house, and everything's gone to pieces...
The new bed for our spare bedroom (where we have never had a bed before, because it's been our study) is still in transit. This wouldn't be so bad were it not supposed to arrive last Friday - meaning that it's now been in transit for five days, even though it's coming from a warehouse less than an hour away from here. I've had countless conversations with the delivery company (and wasted many a half-hour listening to their appalling hold-muzak - gah!), but they still can't promise that it will be here today. 'If not today, then first thing tomorrow' chirped the last person I spoke to, but it's not like I haven't heard that at least 5 times in the last couple of days.
So, if I have to go out, I have to make sure that someone is here in case the bed finally materialises. Thankfully, my Mum's a teacher on Summer vacation, so she filled in whilst I was at the dentist this morning, which brings me to my next whine...
I have to have root canal and a root removal tomorrow. Grrrrrr! That's so not going to make me feel like spending the rest of the day on my hands and knees cleaning the house. But I can't be a sulky drama queen about this, especially as the rest of the house seems to be falling apart around us. Usually things in this house are pretty reliable, it's only 5 years old, but no sooner than we decide to sell it...everything stops working! The best so far is the doorbell - which means we currently have a hand-scrawled sign on the door telling people to knock. Great kerb appeal for potential buyers...so classy.
Anyway, must stop whining and get back to it - next up, de-limescaling the shower! Yay!

Monday, August 01, 2005

A little in awe of the Parents-to-Be

Lovely Lawyer Husband's best friend (who was Best Man at our wedding) and his wife are less than a week away from becoming parents. They are the first of our close friends to have children, and I know that they are going to do a fantastic job. Of course, we've known for nearly nine months about their impending arrival, but it really only hit me yesterday evening when LLH was chatting on the telephone to Daddy-to-Be.

This is something they often do on Sunday evenings (although more so during the NFL season when they enter into lengthy play-by-play analysis - yes, they are the two NFL fans in the UK!) and it suddenly occurred to me that by this time next week, the lives of the Parents-to-Be will have changed hugely and will never be quite the same again. They'll be responsible for raising another human being. Of course, I realise my last statement is totally self-evident, but to me the enormity of it makes it worth saying.

I'm certainly more than a little in awe of them and a bit freaked out too, as LLH and I have never seen ourselves as the parenting-type (indeed, we are over-preparing for the arrival of two cats when we move to our new home!) and find it difficult to fully comprehend what lies ahead for our friends. What surprised me more (although probably wouldn't surprise those with more parental leanings than I) was that Daddy-to-Be admitted that he was finding the whole thing just as difficult to get his head around, despite the fact that he and his wife have planned so much for this. This made me think more than I ever have about how entirely life-altering parenting is, even for those who have wanted to have children for many years. I guess that not being maternal, I had just never really given much thought to it. Whilst you can obviously plan, research and organise (gosh, I'm making it sound like a dissertation chapter!), it seems to me that it's just not possible to be as emotionally or intellectually ready for first-time parenting as you can be for most other life-changing situations. I guess that's why I'm so in awe and excited for our friends. I wish them so much love and luck for this week and this new stage of their lives. I'm also looking forward to going shopping for New Baby gifts :)

Must get busy...Things to do today

I can't function without lists of everything I need to do, but just recently I seem to have lost control of my lists. (As I write this, I have this image in my head of all my lists defiantly marching (yes, they all have little legs in this image, I definitely need more coffee!) into the deepest darkest corners of my house to defy my attempts at organisation.) So, as it's the start of a new week and new month, I've decided that today's the day, I must grasp the nettle and reassert control ;)
Here's a few things I should begin with:
  1. Write list of things I need to buy to finish getting house ready before estate agent comes on Thurday (pot plants etc.).
  2. Write list of jobs that Lovely Lawyer Husband and I need to finish off in house before Thursday.
  3. Sort through huge mound of paperwork that is threatening to cascade over living room floor (extracting from it the various lists that I began and also any urgent bills to pay).
  4. Answer at least some of the e-mails from friends that are languishing in my Inbox (particularly those that need an urgent response because of forthcoming events).
  5. Go shopping for 1. (But only if delivery company FINALLY delivers new spare bed, don't get me started on this one!)
  6. Begin work on 2.
  7. Arrange redirection of mail from OUE to here.
  8. Begin work on some urgent forms relating to my research.
  9. Call or e-mail friend whose calls I've been missing all weekend.
  10. Do laundry. Yawn...
  11. Remember to buy a new diary when I next go shopping. (Why is it that I always buy an Academic Year Diary, but am taken by surprise every single time that it runs out in August not December?!)
  12. Go through (and why not make another list?) of things I need to discuss with and questions I must ask potential estate agents.

Okay, that's definitely enough for now...onwards and upwards!

Update: Forgot to put 'make blogroll' on list.