Things I know about myself

I am vain. Ludicrously so, in fact. I can barely go past a mirror without examining my face in it to make sure I still look the same as I did half an hour ago when I went and got my last cup of tea. (generally speaking I do) I have to double-check my face in the morning just to make sure it hasn’t done anything weird while I was in the other room doing whatever I was doing. Breakfast, possibly. I often have breakfast in the morning, and I hear that’s actually quite common. I will spend quite a long time every day fluffing my hair up to the appropriate degree – the downside of having hair as soft as a baby duck is that it sometimes does weird things, like all gathering together in the way that baby ducks do – and if it isn’t right I have been known to wash it again just to make it do the thing. DO THE THING.

I am petty. Oh man am I petty. There are people I hate in my year for the reason that they did something very small at the beginning of the year and I never forgave them for it. But what was the thing? I have no idea, because I forgot. You can see the huge impact the thing had on me. And I’m not just petty, I’m vengefully petty. I will remember that you did a thing six months ago that I didn’t like – even if I don’t quite remember the details – and then when you need something I’ll be mysteriously unavailable. But I’ll make it seem like I really would have helped, if I hadn’t just suddenly organised a trip to London. Good god I am a terrible person. Oh well, I’m sure the orchestra rehearsal went on fine without me.

hmm, what else. I’m controlling. In a very empathetic sort of way, or a moral way. You know, for your own good. Oh, you haven’t eaten dinner? Let me make something for you. Oh, you have a lecture tomorrow morning that you often miss? Shall I wake you up? Like you’re a tiny child?

OK, so that’s basically just a list of not totally positive features, but you know it’s important to own things like that. So if someone accuses you of being petty in a fight you can say “yes, I am!” rather than “no! I am upset and angry”.

Anyway, that’s that. Basically, just an exercise in naval-gazing, don’t bother reading if you don’t want to. Wait, too late.

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Dress for Success

In a few weeks I’ll be going to the first formal dinner I’ve been to in probably a year. It’s not that there haven’t been opportunities for formal dining, because there have. There have been quite a few (I’d hate to be more specific, so I’m going to be completely non-specific: a few) but I’ve turned them all down. And the reason for that is simple: dress code.

It’s amazing how much of a role the dress code plays. In this case, the ever vague “formal”, which I took to mean “ladies wear dresses, men wear suits”. I can honestly say, hand on heart, I would literally rather punch a bear than wear a dress. OK, maybe I actually wouldn’t rather punch a bear, but you get my point. Dresses, as far as I’m concerned, are the work of a greater evil than I can comprehend. Why would you even do that? What’s the effing point?

My objections to dresses run from the simple “where the flip am I meant to put my phone” to “my legs are literally cold” to “I hope nobody minds a flash of my armpit hair”. There are quite a few objections to having to wear a dress. In my humble opinion, a dress is as much a practical suggestion as a banana wearing sunglasses. Cool, maybe. Sensible, no.

Now, I acknowledge that some of my issues with dresses could possibly be solved by tights and a sturdy razor. But frankly those are torture devices in and of themselves and only serve to compound the issue.

Which is why I’m so thrilled to have (finally) found a dress I can actually bloody wear.

eliza j dressLook at that. A dress with sleeves. SLEEVES. Good god I think I might have just found the perfect dress. Apart from two tiny things, it’s great.

the first is that it’s actually quite long, isn’t it? A bit taller than me. So high shoes may well be in order.

And the second is that it doesn’t entirely fit in a billowy sort of way, so I’m having to get it tailored otherwise things could get a tad embarrassing when I sit down. or lean.

all things considered though, this seems like the answer to all my prayers. So to speak.

It’s elementary, my dear Watson

Ok I’m sorry, I know that Holmes never actually said that in any of the ACD books. My sincerest apologies etc., but this seemed like a neat way to introduce this. You see, I’ve defected. Not in any particularly treasonous way – although I’m sure that Moffat and Gatiss might disagree – so you don’t need to feel alarmed or threatened or as though you need to call the police right now.

It’s Elementary.

That is to say, I’ve defected from the Sherlock camp and moved into the Elementary camp. They have better biscuits.

And that isn’t to say that if I really hated Elementary I wouldn’t stop watching it, or that I couldn’t watch Sherlock again if I desperately felt the need or if someone told me it had randomly improved for the fourth series (ha!). It’s just that I’ve heard pretty good things about Elementary, and the BBC series has made me want to throw small to medium sized bricks at Moffat.

I’m about halfway through the first episode at the moment, so I couldn’t really comment on how good it is. So far so good though.

also Sherlock just admitted that he googled something about Joan, which is pretty hilarious. Can you imagine Cumberbatch!Sherlock ever admitting he sometimes does that?

Shortbread really shouldn’t be this difficult

In preparation for the momentous party that my sister is throwing today (throwing? Like, is she throwing it out the window? Off a cliff?) she has requisitioned approximately 5 billion tonnes of food. The fridge has never been so full, and that’s no exaggeration. I’d have shoved a load of it into the freezer but that’s so full the door barely closes now.

Yesterday I had to fend off a wave of blinis. I barely escaped with my life.

Today, however, the blinis have been vanquished by the simple method of putting them in the oven. Kills everything, that does. So I was left with the task of creating certain dessert options such as lemon shortbread.

FYI: Anything involving butter is tricky when the butter is literally melting in the bowl. At least creaming the butter and sugar was really really easy, I guess. The tricky part was when I wanted to shape the dough-batter into biscuits. Because it’s so …. gooey, it didn’t really want to let go of the surface I tried to roll it on, and no amount of sprinkled flour would make it let go. My neat rectangles became deformed polygons.

My predicament was obvious. The solution? Well, I came up with a solution both ingenious and slightly mad: roll the datter into a cylinder, and then slice the cylinder to make discs.

The snag, of course, was that the bough was so sticky that it just sort of flattened on one side. End result: failure.

It’s in the fridge now. Hopefully by the time I come to actually cut the damn thing it’ll be more willing to listen to reason.

Momentous Discoveries from the Month of July

This month has been a whirlwind of discovery. I have learnt a great many things, some of which have been very interesting, and some of which have been less so. Tl;dr: I learnt stuff.

1. Attics attract extreme temperatures of air

Basically, a loft bedroom is absolutely brilliant except for about one month of the year. Well, three, I guess. That time of year is summer. Because in the merry old time of year that is summer the temperature in your loft bedroom will reach just under boiling and then rest there, gently, like a leaf floating in the breeze. It will remain at that temperature until you realise that the glass of water you brought upstairs is simmering away. You will give up and go downstairs and it’ll be like walking into a fridge, only obviously you probably shouldn’t do that because fridges are really small. And of course the temperature in your room probably won’t change significantly as a result of you leaving it, but unless you’ve left a thermometer up there it’ll be impossible to say, really.

Heaven help you if there’s an ensuite bathroom and you have a shower. Just give up. Don’t bother. Steam is not your friend, friend. It’s not your friend at all.

2. You actually don’t really need shampoo. Basically.

The basically is there because if you don’t use shampoo you need to scrub your hair a lot because there’s always a really small patch of hair that just goes “but I like being unclean. Your hair will not feel squeaky clean, but it will feel soft and fluffy. If you dry it with a hair dryer (although if you’re going no ‘poo I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if you forwent the hair dryer) BRUSH YOUR HAIR. Seriously, it might get ideas and stick up like a porcupine. But if you brush it before you dry it it stays in the style you brushed it in when it was wet. If you see what I mean. Unless you’re hair wizard, that isn’t going to be what you wanted. I guess?

But, if that doesn’t appeal you can kind of wash it with conditioner and then it’s mostly clean and also conditioned. But you might not even need to?

Er, if you use hair gel I don’t think this will really work for you. Unless you use water-soluble hair gel, I suppose. Does that even exist? Find out for me, internet elves.

3. The same mostly goes for shower gel

I’ve never really liked shower gel, actually. It can never really be persuaded to lather and then you’re just kind of smearing gel onto yourself. It’s not really something that appeals to me, tbh. And of course then you end up smelling like a berry burst or whatever, and then you might as well just give up. Let’s face it, nobody wants to smell like a citrus burst. I would choose to smell of the perfume I spray on myself, not the shower gel that I accidentally got in my eye. God, that really hurts.

Fun fact: Water doesn’t hurt when it goes in your eye. Unless it’s secretly acid, and then you have another problem on your hands. Someone’s replaced your water pipe with an acid pipe. This is a problem.

4. Cooked noodles don’t really work in the fridge.

5. Cold rice and chicken are really really dry, and you’ll probably be more tempted by the barbecue than you were by the packed lunch you made.

Apparently though, there’s always the option of putting mayonnaise in it to make it less dry. I wonder what people do with bento boxes? The internet has been mysteriously silent on the subject, but then my laptop has been muted all day.

You’ll probably still want the burger though. Something about burgers just appeals more than rice.

6. The American medical system is really weird.

I don’t just mean the whole paying for your medical care thing. I mean the thing where they have tv programmes about weird post-mortems. What’s with THAT? It’s kind of like someone went “what’s dramatic? Murder mysteries! What’s more dramatic than tv? Real life! What do you get when you combine the two?” And then nobody stopped it. There is a real legit doctor who gets paid to do post mortems on tv and that’s apparently fine?

??????

7. Your MP3 player will always run out of charge approximately 4/5ths of the way through your journey

That isn’t affected by how long you charge it up for.

Well, that’s it for this month’s fun facts. I hope you learnt something, but if you didn’t that’s probably to be expected. Good luck with your lives.

The Perils of Not Eating Enough (apparently)

I would be the first person to admit that sometimes I don’t eat enough. You know how it is, you’re sleeping in late and then you have a shower and by the time you get round to ‘breakfast’ it’s about 2 in the afternoon. Obviously that’s mostly a holiday habit, but it’s astonishingly easy to do. And if you’re doing that in the morning you probably won’t be tired until the next morning so that really messes up the schedule. But generally when I do that everything’s fine and dandy, apart from judgemental looks from people who managed to get up in the morning and went to bed before it became morning. They tend to be more judgemental the more tired you look, so make sure to look as fresh as a spring daisy, or at least as though you might be about to do something more active than fall on the sofa.

I digress.

Recently though I’ve been having problems with my blood sugar despite a) getting up at 10 and b) eating three round meals a day. I don’t know what it is, but at the gentle hour of 5pm most days this week I’ve experienced what can only be described as a crash. Apparently I go very pale, although obviously I could only corroborate that if I’d seen myself in a mirror. Oddly enough, if you haven’t got the energy to do anything other than sway vaguely you’re not massively fussed about looking at mirrors. Other fun symptoms include: paranoia! fatigue! irritability! not realising eating food would be a good idea! apathy! headache! achey neck! I mean, who wouldn’t want it?

I’m a little stumped as to what the solution is though, unless I just go around with a box of snacks and a little sign saying “if I look tired force-feed me chocolate”

Also, on a slightly unrelated note, I’ve just realised my logitech keyboard for my ipad is an American keyboard. Nothing wrong with that particularly, except they’ve got the speech marks and the @ symbol the wrong way round and I keep getting which one I want wrong. c’est la vie, I suppose.

A standard issue train journey, with a twist

So, as I so often do, I had the delight of a train journey to York on Monday. To make a change from my usual starting point of Egham, I ended up going from High Wycombe instead. (I briefly debated going from Marlow and then decided that the tedium would be too much for 8:00 on a Monday morning. There’s no need to make it awful AND boring, is there?) Despite our best efforts, the Handy Cross traffic ensured that we only arrived at the station 40 minutes before the train was due at the station. I was gutted, let me tell you. The stress, the trauma, will I make it? Will I be forced to get the next train, and still make it to the station on time anyway? THE DRAMA. THE TENSION.

I even went so far as to walk from Marylebone to Baker Street, something I’ve never actually done before. Handy hint: it’s about as long as the tube journey, just with a bit more walking and probably less falling over. Unless you have an inner ear problem, in which case you’ll be falling over however you go so you might as well walk and save £1.60. Yeah, I had to use my Oyster card, because my ticket was glitching in all the ticket barriers and I just wanted to make sure I actually got to King’s Cross sometime before Christmas. My suspicion is that there was some problem with the computers on the Underground, because it worked fine for the last ticket barrier at King’s Cross. Weirdly, they had them open for half an hour before they closed them again. ?? There is no sense to this madness.

The train journey started as they so often do, although I was delighted to discover that the seats that had been booked around me weren’t due to be used until York, so I didn’t have to sit next to anyone. Dead chuffed, I was. Well, until I suddenly gained a headache and nausea. Then I was just sort of… moderately pleased. (Turns out I was just thirsty. Who’d have guessed on such a warm summer’s day when I’d spent the morning on stuffy trains?) And of course, that was when something unexpected happened.

An American couple, who I discovered were there after they had been to a wedding in London and were now taking a ‘vacation’ to York, sat down in the seats opposite me. I guess they couldn’t get seats further down the train or something, but they broke the first rule of trains: they talked to me. I managed to scare them off by answering with short sentences and looking generally fatigued, so they went back to looking at the countryside (which looks like America), and comparing our windmills to theirs (ours are shorter, apparently). Still, at least they were happy. Not like the four people sitting across the aisle who never spoke to each other despite being in a big group.

So now, here I am. Yorkshire. It’s actually cold, sort of, except for when it’s being kind of warm. Suffice to say I have no idea how to combat this with clothes so I’m just going to keep both sunscreen and a raincoat handy and hope for the best.

West End Live 2014

In which: potato salads are eaten, a mayonnaise disaster is narrowly averted, someone gets sunburn, people are grumpy, and trains are caught.

Finally, something musical! I feel proud of that pun. It was a good pun. I liked it more than I think I should.

Anyway. This weekend, for those who didn’t know, was West End Live in Trafalgar Square. Basically, a load of musicals did little taster performances so that you could decide whether or not you felt like forking out fifty quid to go and see the whole show. Well, most of them did. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory went all maverick and did a video. They even did a ‘sing-along’ thing, although nobody actually sang along. Very disappointing.

But let me start at the beginning. It started, as these things so often do, with cereal. Oddly salty cereal, actually, so I might avoid cookie crisp in the future. I don’t really like my breakfast cereal to taste of salt, and I don’t really understand why you would. Because we are Sensible People we decided to make a picnic, so once the debacle at breakfast was over it was time to prepare. And by prepare I mean throw everything together in teeny-tiny fajitas and hope that the lack of mayonnaise in one of them didn’t make the whole thing an inedible disaster. (It didn’t) I just about remembered to bring water (not enough, as it turns out. We all got dehydration headaches), and spray on the old sun-cream. I even remembered to reapply it later on, so I think I win super-duper brownie points. The only thing is, having now staved off the first sunburn of the year until June I feel like it’s going to be a truly awful uber-sunburn and I might even end up crying. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Because we had anticipated that the event would be popular we thought we’d get there an hour early. Beat the queue, we thought. How wrong we were. By the time we meandered out of Charing Cross station the queue was already halfway down the square. Of course, what we hadn’t realised was that at the north end of the square was a snaking around queue, and the square itself was already filling up. Pretty damn popular, basically. If I lived in London this would be a lot flipping easier. Especially because we wouldn’t have to do so much faffing with the trains afterwards, we could just get the underground and go home. C’est la vie.

Tl;dr: West End Live is popular (get it??? GET IT????)

As it turned out, most of the good shows were on before 1:30; we saw Wicked, Once, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Billy Elliott… well, saw may be a misnomer. Heard, more like. Everyone in front of us stood up to see and I really couldn’t be arsed with that kind of exercise. Especially exercise interspersed with the presenters urging us to drink water, wear sun-cream, and take selfies with the hashtag “west end live”. I’d rather not, actually.

The picnic made the whole thing more fun, and made us feel just a wee bit smug. Although the smell of eggs may have pissed off everyone around us, I think it was definitely worthwhile. Managed to down about a litre of water just sitting in the sun, not moving an inch. And that still wasn’t enough water. Good thing I saved some though, because I needed it on the train home after the mad dash through Marylebone station and along the platform. Bloody Marylebone. Bloody train.

And of course, the day wouldn’t be complete without a trip to see Wicked. (again) And I literally couldn’t say how amazing it was. Seriously amazing. Willemijn Verkaik is just my favourite Elphaba in the entire universe (sorry Idina, you’ve been replaced. Not that you care, I suppose). AND SHE DID LET IT GO OMG. Not in the English version of Frozen, obviously, calm the flip down I know Idina Menzel did that one. And what’s a trip to the theatre without leaving during the bows? I know, socially unacceptable, but we had a train to catch dammit and I wanted to get home to have pizza.

On the flip side, booking the tickets at Trafalgar Square meant we netted ourselves a few goodies – sweets, a few pamphlets, a couple of card holders, and three promotional CDs for some musicals. I’ve put them on my wall.

Aren't they lovely

Aren’t they lovely

 

Dogs

Dogs are pretty thick. Oh, they’re adorable and cute and they’re great for cuddles, but when it comes to intellect they have all the brains of a particularly confused four – year – old. This doesn’t appear to be something that improves with age either; the old dog is just as dim as the young dog. Maybe the young dog is following the example of the old dog, who knows?

All this week and last week we’ve been visiting my aunt who has two dogs. And every time we walked through the door the dogs got more and more excited, until today they reached a peak of exhilaration and sheer terror that led them to run around in circles barking and getting in the way of the cutlery drawer.

The situation was only worsened by the introduction of a third dog.

Meanwhile the cat roamed about, inciting terror in the ranks and generally getting underfoot at the worst of moments.

It would seem that the horror of people arriving pales in comparison to the horror of people leaving; after my aunt and mum went out to get something from the car, Giant Dog and Tiny Dog were inconsolable in their grief. This wouldn’t be so bad if their chief way to express grief wasn’t to leap at the nearest human and make increasingly sad noises.

I suppose the moral of the story is this: never leave or enter a house containing dogs. Or, alternatively, you could simply try buying a dog instead.

On the subject of soup

Is it just me who hates vegetables? I can eat raw carrots like a champion, and green beans hold no fear for me. But broccoli is just a bit watery and leek is better avoided like the plague. Not to worry though, I won’t be getting scurvy any time soon! (I drink too many smoothies for that.. sshhh)

Here is my super-duper recipe for a soup that will sort out all of your vegetables for the day, leaving you free to enjoy a vegetable-free dinner. Or not, as the case may be.

You will require:

Carrots
Parsnips
Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes
Onion (ONE. NO MORE. IS OK WE BLEND NASTY ONION)
1 Vegetable Stock Cube
Some water

Now, the precise ratio is less important than this: you need probably a 1:1 ratio of parsnips to sweet potatoes, a 2:1 ratio of parsnips to potatoes, and a 2:1 ratio of carrot to parsnip. This ratio is useful because it helps maintain that perfect orange colour which we all know and love. Carrots and sweet potatoes are orange, so it’s fine.

Then, once you’ve peeled/diced your veggie-tables, place in a pot with the stock cube and enough water to cover it. Boil for approximately 45 minutes/however long you can be bothered.

Blend.

Serve with crusty bread and a massive cup of tea.

 

This soup will fill you with so many vitamins you won’t be able to see straight. And it’s got … er, fibre. And… minerals? Carbohydrates from the bread…? er… yeah… something… it’s good for you… maybe