Monday, 17 December 2007

Hurtling towards year end

Despite the very heavy weekend that formed the subject of the previous post, lessons were resolutely not learned last week. Out on Thursday with mate Phil to see Maximo Park at the newly re-opened Oxford Carling Academy <spits contemptuously in memory of The Zodiac> I was planning to get home early before the gig, line my stomach and not drink much. But an hour of crawling home in dense traffic from Didcot put paid to the first two ideas, and so I reverted to my post-university days of drinking cider and eating crisps to fill me up. Hmmm. Actually maybe it was a good job that there was a jam, as it prevented me from going above 50mph on my spare tyre. Who checks their tyres before they set off on a journey? Not me, especially in the pitch dark and freezing temperatures of Didcot Parkway station on Wednesday night. So it was only after going 100 yards or so and realising something was very wrong indeed that I got out and realised I'd been driving on a flat and hence buggering the inside of the tyre, meaning it needed to be replaced even if all that had happened was that some little sh!te had let it down during the day. You certainly couldn't see a puncture anywhere. So now, I owe Ali some serious ironing time on his shirts, after an emergency damsel in distress call. I don't know how I would have got those wheel nuts off by myself but I'm bloody glad I didn't have to attempt it.

So anyway, Maximo Park. After our ill-fated attempt at seeing them earlier in the year, I was really looking forward to seeing if they'd be better, edgier than Dan's lukewarm review made out. And... they were about what I'd expected actually, not one of those transcendent gigs, just really enjoyable - very bouncy bouncy, all the right tunes in the right order, stonking versions of Limassol and Our Velocity, and a venue small enough to see them properly. Most folk there seemed real MP fans as well, and dead excited to be seeing them in Oxford. The one slightly jarring note was Paul Smith's comment "You might know that we're playing a big arena in Newcastle in 2 days time; well, we want you to know THIS IS NOT A WARM UP GIG - we don't do 'warm ups'". Okayyyy then, right you are mate... We were right at the back (the front seemed to be full of members of the local basketball team, or, as I overheard one girl say, 'they breed them big round here') and I could still see. We did admit that the Carling folk hadn't done a bad job at all with the Zodiac - the downstairs space is now the main venue for bands - a lot bigger than before and screens everywhere. Being new I guess it also hasn't got the residue of years of nicotine, tar, sweat, stale booze and general wear and tear - so it felt very clean. The best thing about it though, is that the promoters are obviously getting bigger bands to play there with no trouble - we're already planning Hot Chip and Elbow outings next year - thus avoiding travelling into the big smoke on a school night. Hurrah!

I had a day off on Friday, but not so's you'd notice. Spent it getting the tyre fixed; running errands; doing chores; and packing for the weekend, at the same time checking work email on my smartphone. Humbug. Still, it was the pre-cursor to a fantastic weekend with Stuart and Alison in Manchester, during which I did my traditional clothes overspend with Alison on Saturday in town, much booze was consumed at lunch and a great meal out on Saturday night was had by all. Hangover on Sunday was a mini version of last week's. Hoh well.

We did buy the Christmas tree when we got home though, which I duly decorated with glee, though becoming mildly crestfallen when one set of fairy lights went on the blink due to a missing bulb which OF COURSE we didn't have a replacement for. The now-routine SCD marathon ensued, all very wonderful as always except for the frankly inexplicable perfect 40 for Matt and Flavia's waltz and the fact that the judges had several screws loose and voted to kick Gorgeous Gethin out. Sob. Matt will go to pieces next week, Alesha will rightly win, but the show won't be the same without a re-run of the salsa of week 9.

And so back to work today, with a load of stuff to do and no pre-Christmas feeling at all, just a slight sense of panic. But! Ali has just texted me with the news that the plumber has magically fixed our underfloor heating, which it seems has never worked properly since it was installed 18 months ago. We may even have a warm kitchen for Christmas! And I've just found a replacement bulb for the fairy lights! Ho ho ho!

Monday, 10 December 2007

The festive fun begins...

Friday night saw the start of the Christmas get togethers, marking the beginning of a weekend of pure indulgence, food-wise (though actually most of the indulgence was booze related....) And tonight it’s another Christmas outing, this time with the agency to Manicomio in Chelsea. So I’m preparing for more yummy Italian food and I would guess a few bottles of Amarone, as it’s my boss’s favourite wine.

Tapas and red wine in Windsor with work colleagues

Brunch: sausage sandwiches + HP sauce. Mmmm.
Early evening 'snack' in cocktail bar par excellence, Raoul's: chips, flatbread and hummous
Drinks: Westons Organic Cider x 2 bottles; Raspberry Collins x 2; Apple Martini x 1
Italian restaurant: half bottle of white; mussels in white wine sauce; bottle of Amarone; lamb steak, roast potatoes, veg; coffee
Pub: post-prandial pint of cider
Home: half glass of red (too sozzled to manage the whole glass. Ali tried to get through a can of Guinness when we got home, god knows why.)

Breakfast: Innocent smoothie (cranberry and raspberry) as hangover cure
Lunch: Half bowl sweet potato and corn soup; slice of sourdough bread
Afternoon: 3 glasses mulled wine; Stowford Press cider x 1 bottle; Rice snacks x at least 2/3 big bag. My hangover had obviously gone by this point!
Dinner: Roast chicken, roast potatoes and healthy green leafy veg
Treat: 1 Bendicks Bittermint

Points? Too many to even think of adding them all up. Pounds put on since last week – I think about 3. Gulp. But I did go to Body Balance on Sunday morning, so that makes me feel slightly better about myself. I wouldn’t recommend doing it with a hangover though, as some of the yoga poses made me feel distinctly dizzy and there were a few hairy moments when the queasiness threatened to overwhelm me while doing the 'Downward Facing Dog' pose...

Monday, 3 December 2007

Time for some new good intentions

Been doing a 'leadership development' course at work recently. I always have trouble with these courses - but only beforehand - it's the idea of spending a whole day or two away from the office, when there is so much going on at the moment that absolutely requires me to be sitting on my email at all times and letting everything get on top of me (because of course that's the mark of a good manager, oh yes...). But inevitably, taking a day to reflect on past activity and behaviours exhibited is actually always a worthwhile experience and makes me feel far more able to take things in my stride moving forward.

Part of the day today was about planning for 2008, and I set myself some pretty overarching targets: attitudinal, business objectives, and personal goals. The personal ones are always the same - more 'us' time for Ali and I; exercise more; go on a proper long holiday. Some kind of fit in with the very loose theme of this blog, in that they are good intentions but might not get carried out very often. But I hope that I will have the willpower to see them all through.

One I thought of but didn't write down was to get more DIY stuff done around the house and garden, and make use of the new toy we bought 2 weeks ago. My mum was in a slight state of shock when I told her we'd got a shiny new sewing machine for me to make things with - after all, I was never what you'd term creative when I was younger. It was the purchase of a stupidly expensive pair of jeans when we were in Edinburgh the other week that did it. Having lost some weight, and also due to the fact that my dearest, best loved and constantly worn Earl Jeans are starting to fall apart from over-use, I splurged on a pair of James Jeans from Harvey Nichols. Size 26!!!!! (sorry had to get that in) but so dear I can't even disclose the price, it's too shameful. Anyway, the smaller size still obviously couldn't make up for the fact that I'm a short arse, and needed about 4 inches taken off the legs so I could wear them properly. The last time I took a pair of trousers to the tailors in Oxford they made a balls up of them and hemmed them too short, so a sewing machine was the clear way forward. Only about 16 more pairs of jeans to go and I might break even. I have to say, although machines have got a lot more sophisticated since I was at school - the one we bought is computerised, and excitingly does all sorts of very posh embroidery stitches of leaves and stars and suchlike - it was relatively easy to get the hang of it and now I have a pair of jeans I can wear with pride without tripping over the extra material. If I get round to making anything more adventurous rather than just sewing hems I'll definitely start posting more photos. Which is another good intention.

Quick SCD update, for those of you who care (and knowing who reads this blog, that's probably only one or possibly two of you, but why should that stop me, it's my blog after all). After Saturday's show my allegiance, hitherto firmly with Alesha and Matt, is now wavering quite distinctly towards bloody gorgeous Gethin. WHAT A SALSA!