A Room with a View

Friday, January 27, 2006

Another Five Meme...

Ooops! I'm a few days behind with my Hundred Facts About Me, so I'll be playing catch-up on that sometime this evening. In the meantime (or should that be 'memetime'! *groan*) I'm going to get into a bloggy mood with this Five Meme that both the wonderful Clare and Seeking Solace tagged me for...Ooooh, I feel so popular. :)
Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot, like so.
  1. zerodoll
  2. Overread
  3. BrightStar
  4. Seeking Solace / Clare
  5. Pink Cupcake
Next select five people to tag.
Oooh, whilst I like being tagged, I know not everyone does. So, it'd be great if any of the following wanted to give this one a go, but please don't worry if you'd rather not.
  1. Queen of West Procrastination (Being tagged is, after all, just another great excuse to procrastinate!)

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Hmmmm...What I was doing 9 years ago is way more interesting (so I'll post one of my 100 Facts about that). If you asked my Mum what I was doing 10 years ago, she'd say that I should have been in my first year as an undergrad at Very Prestigious University. She was really not at all happy when despite being offered a place, I decided to take some time out after finishing school in 2005 and got a job working in politics. She certainly didn't begin to forgive me until I was accepted to Very Prestigious University in 2003 for my Masters and PhD! So, in January 1996, rather than being tucked away in the corner of a library, I was working on a local election campaign.

What were you doing 1 year ago?

I was in my final term as President of Grad Students in my college at Very Prestigious Uni. I was enormously glad that it was my final term, as it had been a pretty stressful year of office. I was trying to research and write about the wonders of European Law, but I probably spent way too much time stressing over crappy student politics, and de-stressing over many mocha frappuccinos.

Five snacks you enjoy...

  1. Tortilla chips - with guacamole to dip them in, of course!
  2. Yoghurt coated raisins.
  3. Japanese seaweed and rice crackers.
  4. Rice cakes (yeast extract flavoured) with houmous.
  5. Cupcakes - especially when they're pink. :)

Five songs to which you know all the lyrics...

Doesn't everyone know all the lyrics to about a gazillion songs?? Here's a few...

  1. Pretty much any REM song.
  2. Ordinary World - Duran Duran.
  3. Girl From Mars - Ash.
  4. Yes - McAlmont and Butler. (Soooo good when sung really loudly to yourself whilst dancing very badly. :))
  5. Tribute - Tenacious D. (Although I wouldn't admit to that if I weren't using a pseudonym!)

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire...

  1. Buy a flat with a sea view and room for tons of bookshelves in Trendy Seaside City.
  2. Donate to my favourite charity.
  3. Start a cat sanctuary.
  4. Fund a scholarship for a PhD student, because it'd be nice to save at least one fellow grad student from funding worries.
  5. Travel to many wonderful places with my husband.

Five bad habits...

  1. Worrying.
  2. Overanalyzing.
  3. Worrying.
  4. Overanalyzing.
  5. Did I mention worrying and overanalysing?!??

Five things you like doing...

  1. Catching up with all my favourite blogs, whilst cuddled up on the sofa with a cup of tea.
  2. Hanging out in coffee shops and reading for fun.
  3. Making other people happy with little surprises and nice gestures.
  4. Spending time with my husband. Living long distance for two years made me appreciate and cherish just hanging out with him even more.
  5. Taking afternoon tea. Yes, I am that English!

Five things you would never wear again...

  1. The blue sparkly evening outfit that I thought was so cool in 1997. Unfortunately it was so. not. cool.
  2. Shoulder pads (I stole that from Seeking Solace, but I'm so with her on this one. What were we all thinking?!).
  3. Any trousers that my Mum has altered the length of. She has a habit of making them way too short, bless her. :) I've lost count of the amount of my trousers that she has ruined over the years.
  4. The woolly hat that I used to wear when I lived in the chilly North. I don't even think my Grandmother would have worn that hat. It was so untrendy, but sooooo warm.
  5. A ra-ra skirt. But my blue, pink and yellow one was way cool in 1985!

Favourite toys...

  1. My laptop.
  2. My ipod shuffle.
  3. Stationery. Any and all of it...
  4. My page-a-day cat calendar. Soooo cute. :)
  5. The Woofs.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

100 Facts About Pink Cupcake In 100 Days: Days Ten & Eleven

I'm a little late with Day 10 and I'm feeling pretty tired and icky, so I'll keep these facts short and sweet...
  • Day 10 - Bright Star's fact for Day 11 brought this one to mind. I was named after the main female character in my Father's favourite book. If I'd been a boy I would be called Adam. Apparently there was much disagreement over potential boy names, so my parents eventually settled on the 'first man'. Weird really. Neither of my parents is particularly relgious and I don't think either of them really liked the name. I imagine there was just one hell of a disagreement over some other male name and this was the only compromise they came to. I'm glad I was a girl though, because I really like my name.
  • Day 11 - I'm disillusioned with UK politics right now. The party of which I am a (lapsed) member is in a state of disarray. I'm annoyed because my beliefs are absolutely in line with so many of the party's policies, but I just don't feel that the party's leadership (or prospective leadership) and senior members are in any way capable of doing what they need to do and should be doing. I have far more respect for many of the leading politicians and activists in the other two major parties, but of course I would never sell out on my beliefs. The whole thing just makes me sad and frustrated.

Friday, January 20, 2006

100 Facts About Pink Cupcake In 100 Days: Day Nine

I was just reading Running2Ks' post about her embarrassing moment on the day that she first saw Titanic and met her in-laws-to-be. It reminded me of the day that my husband and I saw Titanic. The memory is not about the movie itself, but about the reason we almost didn't see it. Although my husband had proposed to me a couple of months before, we decided not to tell our families about our engagement until we saw them in person for my 21st Birthday celebrations. We were living near Newcastle at the time and were stopping off at my future in-laws' home in Yorkshire overnight, before we all headed south to stay with my family. We arrived in Yorkshire mid-morning and were due to see Titanic at 8pm, which of course left hours and hours for my husband-to-be to tell his parents that we were getting engaged. Or so I would have thought. He was uncharacteristically nervous and kept pacing up and down and missing opportunities to tell them. Every time I thought he was going to get to it, he somehow changed the subject or something else intervened. Looking back, it was terribly sweet for a normally confident and articulate man to be so tongue-tied, although at the time I wished he'd just spit it out! I'm not sure why he was so nervous (his parents really liked me and we'd been living together for quite a while, so they were unlikely to be surprised), but he finally managed to tell them just before we left for the cinema. They were over the moon and we quickly had a glass of Champagne. So as you can imagine, it was a totally incongruous time to watch such a tragic film and I really couldn't get my head into the plight of Kate and Leonardo. I was in the land of engagement fluffiness. So yes, I was the slightly insane looking girl who had a grin on her face throughout the film (even when Celine Dion was singing!)...


I didn't do the whole International Delurking Week thing because I'd only just begun blogging regularly again, and was just very grateful to have a few wonderful bloggy pals hanging around still (thanks guys, I really appreciated it). However, it's been wonderful to have a few new commenters recently, and, as I've been rather hopeless at responding to comments, I just wanted to say WELCOME to K., lisa, Seeking Solace and brian. Thanks so much for stopping by. I'll definitely be adding you to my blogroll (if you're not there already) and making my way across to your blogs very soon...
I'll be back later with my Fact for Day Nine! I can just tell you're all on the edge of your seats... ;)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

100 Facts About Pink Cupcake In 100 Days: Day Eight

I LOVE getting mail. Even when I'm expecting something that may not be good news, the plop of mail on the door mat sets my heart a flutter. I can't recount the amount of times that I have nearly fallen down the stairs in my haste to get to the mail. I get even worse near birthdays, and everyone around me knows it. I moved in with my husband (then boyfriend) a few months before I was 21 and, when my birthday came around, I was terrified that everyone would send my cards to my old address. I thought I'd been pretty cool about this fear until I received 10 cards through the mail from my husband, who wanted to ensure that I was never faced by an empty door mat. Bless him! :)
So I was very excited today when the plop on the mat contained not only bills and junk mail, but also this amazing Gaudi postcard from Profgrrrrl's adventures in Barcelona...Thanks Profgrrrrl!
(Ooops - can't find digital camera cable, but will blog photo of postcard tomorrrow. Promise!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

One Hundred Facts About Pink Cupcake In 100 Days: Day Seven

I adore vacation memories. Of course, I love the vacations themselves, but cherish even more the memories they create, and it's usually not the big landmarks or sights that I remember most. From China, whilst I of course have vivid memories of the Great Wall, the Forbidden City et. al., I have equally striking memories of the banana splits that my friend and I ate in a hotel in Guangzhou, as a welcome departure from nothing other than the local cuisine which we had eaten 3 meals a day for six weeks. I can picture that banana split now. I can also picture the hotel bar in St Petersburg where my husband and I drank 'Soviet Champagne' served from a silver ice bucket for £3 a bottle! That certainly helped our discussions of the breathtaking art that we had seen in the Hermitage that day.
Lest it seem that all these memories are related food and drink, that's not quite true. (Although I could go on about the amazing Buddhist restaurant that provided a tranquil retreat in Prague, or the most amazing Indian restaurant I've ever been to (and which had the biggest bathrooms ever) in Tallinn...but I have to stop before I salivate too much. ;)) It's more to do with finding the special and unusual in everyday experiences in unfamiliar surroundings, as opposed to just focusing on the touristy aspects. For that reason I love strolling around supermarkets and all manner of other shops in other countries. I like looking at the photographs in hairdressers' windows. I like watching local people go about their day. I also like the surrealness (is that a word?!) of slightly odd happenings in unfamiliar places...Like the ferret I saw strolling through the old town of Krakow, or the checkout assistants in Novgorod, Russia, who looked like they'd stepped right out of the Foo Fighters' Learn To Fly video, or being the only English people (and English speakers) in a pub in Zakopane, Poland during a power cut.
I guess what I love about the memories that travelling leaves me with is that they are both the expected (the museums, galleries etc.) and the unexpected...the ones that always bring a smile to my face.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

100 Facts About Pink Cupcake In 100 Days: Day Six

Okay, this may be too cutesy for words, and we're really not that cutesy a couple, but my husband and I both have identical cuddly toy dogs, appropriately (although perhaps uninspiringly) named The Woofs. My husband got his Woof as part of a Valentine's gift I sent him the first year I lived away from him in Grad School City. He loved him and let him sit on my side of the bed each night when I was away. I loved him too, he was so soft and snuggly. Luckily, my husband managed to locate another Woof and mailed him to me in Grad School City, so we both had a cute, fluffy friend to keep us company. Of course, when I moved back home permanently last year The Woofs were united. And now they live happily ever after, except for bath times. Here they are...

Monday, January 16, 2006

100 Facts About Pink Cupcake In 100 Days: Day Five

I'm very scared of butterflies. I absolutely hate the way that they flutter. I just don't care how pretty they are, I shudder and run away if one comes near me, and I know I'd faint if one landed on me. I know it's not rational and that they can't hurt me, but it's the fluttering I tell you, the fluttering! I'm even scared of them when they are dead. An old family friend gave me a display case of butterflies when I was little, which my parents hung in the hall (as there was no way I'd have them in my room). I couldn't even look at them, and would run past them with my head down. How stupid is that? Even last year when my Malaysian friend brought me a bookmark with a dead butterfly in it from his home, I had to hide it out of sight. Given all of this, I have no idea how an ex-boyfriend (current at the time) managed to get me to go on a date to a butterfly house full of exotic butterflies. He certainly wasn't nearly special enough to justify such terror, although he probably thought I really liked him as I clung onto him for dear life the entire time. Ewww!
On a separate note, I'm really behind with replying to comments as my in-laws have been staying for the weekend and I haven't had a lot of blogging time. I will get to them soon and will certainly be fulfilling the requests to blog more about why I ended up at my particular boarding school. I also hope to catch up on my blog reading too. So little time... :)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

100 Facts About Pink Cupcake In 100 Days: Day Four

The two most important men in my life were/are huge NFL fans. Of course, this wouldn't be in the slightest bit weird if either of them were American or had lived in the States or had some other connection to the NFL, but that wasn't the case at all. My Father, who was a huge fan of all sports, got into it in the early 1980s, when just about nobody in the UK had heard of it. He was teased by his friends for the fact that he always stayed up late on Sundays to watch this massively long game that nobody understood. He ritualistically took the Monday after the Super Bowl as holiday. I remember him waking me up in the middle of the night to watch the half-time show with him. He was a Chicago Bears fan. (He wouldn't be happy that Carolina are 7 points up as I write this...)
My husband has also been an NFL fan since he was 12, although I didn't know it when we started dating. He has only missed one Super Bowl in the last 20 years...the night we started dating! I didn't realize what an enormous sacrifice he was making at the time, and he didn't know that his new girlfriend was one of the only girls in England who could discussing the intricacies of offensive and defensive strategies. ;) My husband is a Falcons fan.
Sadly, my Dad died 6 years before I met my husband, but I feel sure that they would have hung out each Sunday in the season, painstakingly discussing each play. And so, despite the fact that NFL games get a little tedious for me, I also find them oddly comforting and a way of feeling close to the two best men I've ever known.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

100 Facts About Pink Cupcake In 100 Days: Day Three

I love having fresh flowers in the house. Even the smallest, most simple vase of flowers really lifts my mood. Even when I lived in student accommodation, I almost always had flowers in my room. At the moment I have tulips and daffodils, which help me to remember that Spring is around the corner. I like almost all types of flowers, but I can't stand those that are artificially coloured...what it the point of that? White lillies are my favourite though. My wedding bouquet was white lillies and ivory roses.

Friday, January 13, 2006

100 Facts About Pink Cupcake In 100 Days: Fact Two

When I was little, I really wanted to learn a musical instrument. I started off with the recorder, but was desperate to learn a proper instrument. At my school, the first instrument we were allowed to take lessons on was the violin. For some reason you had to wait several more years to learn a wind instrument. So I badgered my parents into buying me a violin. I was always okay at it, but never great. Even when I'd been playing for a few years, it still sounded terrible to me. Violins just don't sound good unless you are really accomplished. All my friends waited until they could learn the flute or saxophone or something much more glamourous, and I desperately wanted to change instruments, but may parents said I must persevere with the violin. I gradually hated it more, and haven't picked a violin up in eleven years. I knew it was my fault for not waiting to learn a different instrument, and that makes me a little sad as I may have kept up with something else. Of course, I could learn to play another instrument now, but isn't that one of those New Year's Resolutions that one makes but never keeps?
There is a positive to hating playing the violin though. It made me sing more and more. I loved music, and, as I didn't play an instrument I liked, I used my voice instead. When I was 16 I won a choral scholarship at my boarding school which paid for classical training, and I adored it. I love singing because to do it well (in my opinion) you have to focus on it completely...it has to absorb you. I love the intensity of it. The need for absolute concentration, yet the simultaneous ability to lose yourself in the music. I really should start singing again...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

100 Facts About Pink Cupcake In 100 Days: Fact One

Everyone's favourite Star is doing this and suggested it might be a good meme. I'm all about memes right now, and posting one fact about myself for 100 days will certainly keep me blogging, so it's all good. Here we go...
At my boarding school there were 500 boys and 30 girls. You think that'd be a good ratio for getting a boyfriend, no? Not exactly. All the guys dated the girls from the Girls' School down the road, and treated us at best like sisters, although more often as annoyances. The school itself seemed to forget we existed. Only boys were allowed to play sports on the main school field. Only boys could be Head of School. Only boys could, upon leaving school, join the prestigious London club that the school associated with. Not that I would have wanted to join, but I also didn't want to sit through a compulsory two hour talk on the benefits of membership. Of course, if I could persuade one of the boys to escort me to the club for lunch, then (and only then) would I be allowed in, as long as I didn't try to enter the bar or library. Gah! Only boys...the list went on and on. We were supposed to make the school seem more progressive, as very few schools of this type took girls, but we were really just a thorn in the side of tradition and the old-boy network.
BUT having said all this I wouldn't have changed it for the world. It made us girls feisty and strong. It helped us to forge friendships and bonds with one another, in situations where girly bitchiness would normally have prevailed. We were a force to be reckoned with. We definitely punched above our weight in the school, and we made our Housemaster (the teacher in charge of the girls' boarding house, probably the least popular job in the school) fiercely proud of us. We knew we'd cracked it when he came to our house meeting one day in a t-shirt which proudly declared that he wanted to be an 'honorary girl'. Of course we let him...he bought us chocolate. :)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Four Things Meme

As seen everywhere. I must be the last to do this, so I won't tag anyone else...

Four Jobs You've Had in Your Life

  • Shop assistant in a large stationery store. Sounds like heaven for someone with an addiction to all things pens and paper, but, no. Just a lot of heaving around of dusty boxes and dealing with stroppy customers. Not much fun at all.
  • Teaching English to German students.
  • Paralegal specializing in Employment Law.
  • Political Agent (planning and organizing election campaigns, party recruitment, fundraising etc.).

Four Movies You Could Watch Over And Over

Four Places You've Lived

  • Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear
  • Oxford
  • Worthing, Sussex
  • Sleepy Boring Village

Four TV Shows You Love To Watch

  • The West Wing
  • Judging Amy
  • The Gilmore Girls
  • 24

Four Places You've Been on Vacation

  • Moscow
  • Beijing
  • Prague
  • San Francisco

Four Blogs You Visit Daily

I visit WAY more than four blogs daily, but four of the first I'm sure to check in on are...

Four Of Your Favourite Foods

  • Scones with strawberry jam and cream (and a pot of Darjeeling to wash it all down).
  • Thickly sliced, wild smoked salmon, with dill dressing.
  • Guacamole with tortilla chips.
  • My Mum's special recipe for casserole. The smell and taste are so comforting and take me right back to my childhood. (She made it again for me yesterday...yay!)

Four Places You'd Rather Be

  • Florence
  • Champagne (Doing lots of tasting and stocking up on supplies!)
  • Krakow (In one of my favourite tea rooms in the whole world.)
  • Tallinn

Four Albums You Can't Live Without

Arrrgghh. Just four?! That's not fair. I'd waste a day trying to figure this out, and still wouldn't get anywhere. So here's four that I'd miss right now as I've been listening to them tons recently...

  • Kaiser Chiefs - Employment
  • Patti Smith - Horses
  • The Zutons - Who Killed The Zutons?
  • Foo Fighters - In Your Honor

Four Vehicles You've Owned

Despite passing my test (after several years of lessons, although only one test) three years ago, I haven't driven since that day. I. hate. it. I like living in city centres where I can walk everywhere, although I don't right now. So, umm, not sure what to put here...

  • BMX bike, when I was 7.
  • Creaky old bike.
  • Rollerblades.
  • Skateboard, when I was 8...not that I could ever manage to stand up on it!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Clare's wish is my command...

Clare tagged me to do the Five Weird Things About Me meme...She's pretending it's because she wants to get me blogging again, but I just reckon she thinks I'm a weirdo. ;) Here goes...

  • (Just for Clare, because she teases me about this one...) I like watching darts on TV. Yes, I know the stereotypical darts fan is a male, middle-aged , over-weight, beer-drinking taxi driver from Essex, but so bloody what!? Just because I'm a home counties girl, with a bit of a plummy voice and a preference for Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon over a pint of bitter, why shouldn't I be a fan of Wayne 'Hawaii 501' Mardle?! Not sure I'm quite ready to go watch it live yet though. Might have to be able to handle myself in a pub brawl first. ;)
  • I got through my revision for my Law School final exams by singing and dancing to the Fraggle Rock theme tune to motivate and re-energize myself. All together now...'Cast your cares away...'
  • I hate being kissed on my nose. Is this weird?! I think so. My husband always kisses me on the end of my nose before kissing me on the lips, just to wind me up. It drives me totally insane.
  • Soon after we first met, my husband (then my boyfriend) and I lived at opposite ends of the country. Sometimes to make us feel closer we would both put California Dreaming on the stereo and sing along together on the telephone (with harmonies and all...well, as much harmony as my husband can manage, which isn't a lot!). I have no idea why we sang to this particular song, although it's probably because it works well as a duet. It was completely spontaneous and tons of fun. (This one is total proof I'm a weirdo, don't you think?)
  • My husband and I picked out names for our yet-to-be-born cats over 6 years ago, despite the fact that we won't be getting them until (hopefully) later this year when we move home. They're going to be Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, although I hope they won't come to as prematurely sticky an end as their namesakes.

Right, enough weirdness from me. I really hope to be blogging regularly again before too long, but I'm still trying to resolve the medical stuff. In the meantime, I'll probably pop up here from time to time, but I'll definitely be hanging out at your places...