Friday, 1 January 2016

I had the last waltz with you, two lonely people together. I fell in love with you, the last waltz should last forever (The Last Waltz - Enbgelbert Humperdinck)

This song reminds me of my Dad.  We used to go to Dinner and Dances where he used to work. It all sounds very highbrow and middle class but the reality was, it was not. They were held in the canteen where he worked and there was a DJ playing all types of music and the dinner was 'something' in a basket; as you did in the 1960's early 70's.

At the end of the evening they used to play this song and I used to dance with my Dad.  So much so, that I was eventually sent to Ballroom dancing lessons on a Saturday morning.  I can remember having the silver sparkly shoes.  I completed my Bronze and Silver medal and can still dance a foxtrot, quickstep and of course the waltz.  Oh how I would love to have the last waltz one more time with my dear old Dad; the one that would last forever.  As always, take your partners and enjoy!

Sunday:  Post script from Boxing Day.  I had a lovely What's App chat with my Italian friend who has gone back to Italy for the holidays.  He could not believe my photos of an empty London (he likes photography also).  He showed me a wonderful photo of his parents, they looked so happy and still so much in love. I told him it gave me some hope!  We laughed.  He was on the beach on Boxing Day for a run; I told him that I have not left my room.  He showed me some photos of his home town and whilst it looked idyllic, I can see why those who have left London are now, by day three, going a little cabin crazy.  I am like this after a day in Zone Three!  Still it was lovely to have a chat with The Italian.

So Sunday.  Awful nights sleep. I must have woken up six times.  I was so warm.  I have my lovely winter duvet on, I mean it is December.  But when the temperature outside is 12 degrees at night it is no wonder I am warm.  It is amazing what rubbish comes and goes in your head at these times.  Every time I reverted back to my meditation technique; and every time I dozed back off and was awake when the alarm went off. 

So Sunday and the usual routine.  Up, showered, hair washed and on the bus to my meditation group.  I decided yesterday when I put myself into cabin fever that today I would go out and do something.  Still not sure at this point what it is going to be.
Not my phone, but it looks like this :( 
Well I should have stayed in bed, that is what I should have done.  Firstly, I was baptised by a cup of hot chocolate when someone at the cafe decided to hug someone else whilst holding a hot cup of chocolate.  All down my coat.  Great, now I will have to pay to get that cleaned.  Secondly, on the way from group I ceremoniously dropped my phone and smashed the screen. Great, just great. I was going to Oxford Street to look around the shops, so now had to look for a new phone.  I was due an upgrade back in April but never took it.  Now you think that would be simple wouldn't you? Nope.  O2 never got my Change of Name Deed and now I have to send them an email and scanned copy of my Change of Name Deed before I can have my upgrade!  To say I was not in the best of moods this afternoon would be a slight understatement and I am congratulating myself on not unleashing the flying monkeys.

Amazed myself tonight  Brace yourself for this.  I played on the X Box alone. Not only did I manage to switch the damn thing on I also managed to go up two levels on a new game:  Star Wars Lego (for 7 year old plus lol).  I was so excited, purely for the fact I could switch it on and find the game. I have had a good teacher, but who would have thought I would be playing on an X Box.  So not a bad day; been tested but hey that is me.

Rounded off the evening watching my beloved U2 in concert.  But more about that in a few days!

Bank Holiday Monday:  Well O2 redeemed themselves.  Took the bus back up to Oxford Street and saw the same woman who served me yesterday.  She was amazed that they had updated my change of name so quickly. I don't do bad for an old bird you know!  I attached a PDF document to an email.  A PDF document I had scanned.  I know at least one person I used to live with who would have struggled with any technology and they were ten years younger than me!

So now I have a lovely now iPhone 6S.  I called in the Apple Store in Regent Street and was served by a rather nice American (sigh) guy.  Note to self: spend more time just wandering around the Apple Store, looking cool.  So I do not know what to call said new phone.  It is a toss up between Ophelia or Patsy. Why I hear you cry?  Well Ophelia as my last iPhone was dropped in the sea and almost drowned, unlike Ophelia that did.  Or Patsy as eventually the same said iPhone ended up getting smashed ....... just like Patsy in AbFab!

London has been glorious today. I went out with my shades on as the Winter sun was so low and bright.  London is heaving with tourists.  It is like they have just appeared over the past few days.  Oxford Street and Regent Street was full of them.  I really do not know what makes people think that they can walk along Regent Street, holding arms, six across!  Then pull out the bloody selfie stick outside of Hamley's.  Needless to say, I achieved what I needed to do and was back on the bus home.

Tuesday:  All good things come to an end and so back to the 9.00-5.00. Today I feel like the size of a small African country.  I think it is called the aftermath of Christmas.  It was a very quiet day and fortunately, it passed quickly.  Back home and a quiet night.  PPLP popped over with a cat carrier.  More about this later but needless to say we are catnapping later in the week.  Ironing done, well the bed linen and two tops and that was it.  Not a bad day.

Wednesday:  It is so quiet in the morning.  I feel as if I am the only one awake going to work. 9.00-5.00 was very quiet, but it passed.  Andy had cooked dinner.  Macaroni cheese and vegetables. Very enjoyable.  So just a relaxing evening watching Peter Kay on the TV and both of us laughing very loud.  I love car share and we watched my favourite episode, the one when she is drunk. So silly, but so funny! Happy days............ Lady Diana!

Thursday:  So, another year over and a new one just begun.  I forgot to mention and an article on the news has just reminded me.  The other day, when I was in Regent Street, I was walking side by side to two armed police.  I did not like it.  I do not like guns.  They were just walking and chatting along the street with these huge guns in their hands.  Ironically (and I wished I could have taken a photo but probably would have got arrested), one of the officers was a woman and she had a huge engagement ring on her finger, on the hand that was holding this huge gun.  I thought to myself, how ironic.  Something so natural and beautiful (the diamond) coupled with something so cold and chilling. I did not like this feeling but thought, well if anything is going to happen now at least it will be quick.  It is not a good feeling to see armed police walking on the streets of where I live. I know this is the 'norm' in many countries; yet it still does not sit comfortably for me.

New Year's Eve.  What happened there? It was Easter last time I looked (well not really but that was when I moved to London). I cannot believe how quick the time has flown by; yet it feels on the other hand that I have been here forever.  9.00 to 5.00 (and yes I did have to stay until 5.00) come and went and I called into Iceland and bought numerous nibbles as we had decided to stay in and have a buffet.  The thing about NYE, now matter where you live, is it is busy, expensive and can get rapidly out of hand.  Multiply that thought by 1000 and you have life in London.  It said on the news tonight that there are 2000 armed police on the streets tonight.  I do not like this.  To see the fireworks you need a ticket and all the streets nearby will be closed and so busy.  So we decided to stay at home and watch the show from our lounge window.

We had a lovely evening, few drinks and our little buffet then just before midnight we opened the windows in the Lounge and hang out of the window.You could here the helicopters circling waiting for midnight.  We had the TV on at the same time and it was a bit surreal.  We hang out of the window looking at the fireworks at Big Ben.  OK it was not a front room view, but we could see them rising up in the sky.  The Shard pulsated with the chimes of Big Ben, it looked stunning then the fireworks really kicked off.  London has never looked so beautiful.  I knew that people all round the world would be looking at the fireworks and some of you, just some of you, would also be thinking of me here in London (and some of you have messaged me since saying that you were - so thank you).  

I was so excited to be in London watching the fireworks. I still have to pinch myself that this is my home town.  I just love it here.  So here I am thinking of 2015 now passed.  It was a good year for me, tinged with sadness.  Moving away after 24 years and losing my dear, sweet friend Steve; yet creating a new me and a new life as a city girl.  Thank you 2015 you have served me well.  So I am sitting on my bed, looking out of my window at The Shard who is now pure white at the top and has rippling lights.  The traffic is starting to build up now and the buses are still running.  It is free travel tonight on the bus until 4.30am!

Well my friends this is my last post in Scrumpet Scripts 2015.  Thank you for all your love and support.  I just love hearing from you and your comments on my ramblings of a mad woman!  It has been one of the best years ever.  Life changing events, new adventures, new friends and most importantly, new memories.  London has given me a life! For that I will always be thankful.  So here is to 2016 and what that may bring.  I have a trip to look forward to, a 29th birthday and new adventures.  So, please follow me next year at Scrumpet Scripts 2016 - it would not be the same with out you.

As always, with my love and best wishes for 2016 x

Saturday, 26 December 2015

And the tears come streaming down your face, when you lose something you can't replace. When you love someone, but it goes to waste. Could it be worse? (Fix You - Coldplay)

For the past five Christmas Day mornings I have always woken up and told myself 'dig deep and get through today and it will be as far away again for another year than it is today'. My Christmases have always been magical. As a child the days were full of love and up until recently I tried to make every Christmas Day a special moment.  All this changed five years ago.  For the past four years I have always volunteered, helping those less fortunate than myself. This year it is different.  Once again, there are so many lines in this song I could have used: 'but if you never try you'll never know, just what you're worth', 'I promise you I will learn from my mistakes' and 'when you try your best but you don't succeed'.

Ironically the video was shot in London, starting off at Tooley Street, London Bridge, just up the road from my flat then at King's Cross and St Pancras Station.  I guess this song is back in my memory because of the NHS Choir being number one at Christmas with the mishmash of this song and Bridge Over Troubled Water.  As good as that is, you still can't beat the original.  Enjoy!

Christmas Day: 'He's been, he's been!'. Children everywhere are waking their parents with this cry. I remember lying in bed waiting for my Meg to wake up on Christmas Day morning with the cry of 'he's been'.  I woke at 8.30 and made a cup of tea went back to bed.  It was a grey morning over London.  But showered and dressed and went for a walk because I knew I had to.

If I had not have gone out then, I would not have gone out and then it would have been a really long day.  The city was dead.  It was like the Apocalypse. The city was made up of Chinese tourists, tourists on Boris bikes, joggers and the odd singleton.  All my familiar places were empty.  I walked to Guy's Hospital and to the Chapel and lit three candles. One for those in the past; one for those in the future and the other for the here and now.  Then wandered through Borough Market and along the Thames; my favourite route.  It was really strange. The market was really quiet and I was the only person. A jogger waved and wished me Merry Christmas which was lovely.  By the time I got to Waterloo Bridge the rain had arrived and poor old Beatrice (my camera) was back in my bag.

I walked up towards Waterloo Station and then come across the true meaning of Christmas. I knew I would find it.  Of course I would. You just have to go looking for it.  There was a woman just walking from one mini bus to another. It transpires that this couple run a charity for ex service personnel. They provide a hot meal during the week and at Christmas, provide a Christmas lunch and a present.  The tent looked absolutely beautiful, decked out with Christmas lights. The woman explained to me that her and (I am assuming) her husband prepare all the food at home and then transport it, keeping it warm.  She said that they are a Pearly King and Queen and feel that if they do not provide a warm meal for these people, no one else will.  I had took a bag of pound coins out with me, just in case I saw someone who could do with some money. So, these people had my £20 donation. 

This is the meaning of Christmas.  Not how much you can spent, or have, or eat, but how much kindness you can give.  I left them with a hug and a kiss and thanked them for showing me kindness on Christmas Day morning.

By now the raining was really coming down and I was drenched.  The walk home was amazing.  The City was so quiet.  I kind of liked it, in a strange way. Home and hair dried it was time to prepare the vegetables for my lunch. Heating on and snuggled down with a coffee and time to open my presents. He had been.  Andy had put a great deal of thought into my present and it was perfect, just perfect.

Cooked myself a lovely Christmas lunch of nut roast and all the trimmings and opened a bottle of my favourite Sancerre wine and sat and watched the film Still Alice on Netflix.  Beautiful film about an academic woman who had early stage onset familial Alzheimer's. Julianne Moore was outstanding and the film was very moving and thought provoking.  I can see how she won an Oscar for her performance. I cannot imagine how terrifying it must be to lose your memory.  The one thing that I still have are my memories.  Which, when I choose, can play over and over again in my mind. But if I were ever to have this taken away from me, well there really would be no point. There was one line that stuck in my memory and that was 'nothing is lost forever'.  I shall hold on to those words.

Lazy afternoon, blogging, drinking good wine and snoozing.  A typical Christmas Day albeit alone and very peaceful.  But as night follows day, this time will pass and all is well.  I received some lovely text messages and FB messages today from people just checking in with me.  I felt so moved by it.  People have their own lives and more importantly, their own families; it truly means a great deal to me.  Thank you.  You know who you are. I ended up watching James Bond, something that once again would never have happened and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Like everyone else, I ate far too much and drunk not enough but it has been an OK day.

Boxing Day:  London is alive, well kind of, again today.  Buses and tubes are running and the traffic is slowly passing by my bedroom window.  I have decided to give myself a duvet day today.  Not because I am feeling low, but because the DVD playing in our lounge is not very good, whereas my DVD  player in my room is fine.  Paul at Meditation Group lent me four DVDs to watch over Christmas (just in cases) and I in turn, leant him series 4 & 5 of The West Wing.  So this morning I watched the Jane Austen Book Club. I really enjoyed it and could see so many parallels to my own life if many of Austen's novels and the scenes in the film.  I really did enjoy this film and remember I wanted to go and see it when it was first released.

Next up to rebalance the romantic notions of the Jane Austen Book Club was The Book of Eli. Just to bring me back down to earth with a bump.  I remember the 'boys' where I used to work ranting on about this film and I have seen it in bits and bobs. I guess it reminded me of a kind of Mad Max. The post Apocalyptic world of total madness.  If that ever happened it would be a trip to the Dignitas Cabinet.  Scary.  Still not out of bed.  I might venture out in a bit for a bath but to be honest, I am quite snug where I am.  The day is grey and if I go out I will only spend money I do not really have.  Normally on Boxing Day I go visiting my friends but all my friends are out of town or still live in the North of the country, hence that not happening today.  

By the time I thought 'I have had enough of this' it was to late to go out. Typical. So yet another DVD. Sticking to the earlier theme this one was Miss Austen Regrets which tells the story of Jane Austen's life. It was really good.  Oh how we have changed and yet have not.  The women were interested in getting a bloke as long as he had money.  Money was the key to everything for a women then and I guess I could argue for some even now.  I really enjoyed it and feel that I now need to start to read some Jane Austen again.  The lovely Ade Edmondson was in it, playing the part of her brother.  He had to negotiate the publishing rights for her novels as women were not allowed (obviously) to look after their own finances.  I love Ade Edmondson, shame he has the lovely Jennifer Saunders in his life ...... sigh.

So the rest of Boxing Day panned out the same way.  To be honest, it is a good job that I do not rely on the TV for my entertainment and I have enjoyed watching those films.  Back to 'normal' tomorrow, for a Sunday.  Christmas is a strange time of the year. I bet families are falling out with each other by now. All those little annoying habits are beginning to grate on each other's nerves. I bet all the townies are going stir crazy because it is to quiet where they are.  As much as we would argue to to the contrary; we are creatures of habit and routine.

As always, with my love x

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay (Away In A Manger)

There was only one true winner for the Christmas week blog.  Anyone who knows me will know how this song affects me.  Just typing this I am trying not to cry (good tears) as it brings back all kinds of emotions.  It is such a simple song and I always associate it with children at nativity plays, standing there with huge smiles on their faces singing to their Mum and Dad.  So proud and so excited about the forthcoming visit by Father Christmas. This Christmas carol is my favourite. I cry buckets when I hear children sing it. For years, my Megan would stand at school and sing this, then look to see if I was crying.  I always cried and cried but with a huge smile on my face as I was just so proud of her. I remember her saying once to one of her school friends 'Look at my my Mum, look.  She is crying' as she laughed and waved at me.  Well Meg, your Mum still cries every time she hears this and I guess she cries just that little bit more now!

Monday:  Oh the Mondays come round oh so quick, but this week will be different.  To date, out of my circle of friends, I am the only one remaining in London over the Christmas holidays.  PPLP is still in town but has all his family over from France, how lovely is that. By the end of the week London will be empty. I have just tweeted am I going to be the only one left in London?  I have never seen Home Alone (sad but true) but I guess this is what it feels like.  

9.00-5.00 come and went but not without a purchase.  I have bought a Book for Bedtime for Andy and I.  I was educated via Ladybird Books and remember them well.  Tonight I shall be reading Dating.  So, it is story time at our flat. So boys and girls, where do you think this story is going to go when the first line is: 'Dating is a fun way of meeting someone who is as terrified of dying alone as you are' and the last page reads ' It is Barney and Leigh's wedding day. They have certainly come a long way from their first date. They have learned to suppress their personalities and pretend they want the same things, so they will be able to put up with each other for several years. Every one is happy for them'.  We were crying with laughter!

I then had a lovely phone call with my friend Jackie (the one who left her knickers in my bed back in the summer) and we were crying with laughter again as today, she bought me another Ladybird Book called The Hipster.  I can't wait to receive it.  So a day full of love and laughter. 

Tuesday:  9.00-5.00 was a bit crazy today.  You can tell it is a full moon on Friday. Met Andy and we caught the bus to the cinema.  We went to Pizza Hut first for some food and felt quite stuffed (bit like the pizza) when we left.  We had tickets for the 19.30 showing but managed to bring it forward to the 18.30 showing of the new Star Wars film.  I had to get my head around the first one was the fourth one and this is the seventh one.  That aside oh how I enjoyed it. I become rather childlike if I am honest.  How I would love to have a light sabre and be a Jedi Mistress. I will not ruin the plot to any of you who have not seen it, but it was so, so, so good.  I would love to see it again.

Back home and two things finally brought the tears back.  Albeit good tears. Firstly, my dear friend Cherise sent me a card with a picture of her gorgeous children on it and inside (it was a Moon Pig card) it said that they love me to the moon and back.  This is what I have always said to my daughter.  So that made the old chin wobble.  Then I had a large A4 envelope with no idea what it was. When I finally got it opened there was a card from my friend Jackie saying she wanted to do something special.  She has had a star named for me.  The star is in the Orion belt and it is a red star and she has named it Megan; so that she will always be there with me high in the sky, forever.  That was it.  I sobbed and sobbed.  Poor Andy did not know what to do.  It was happy tears but tinged with such sadness and oh so much pain.  I guess not matter how much I try, this will always be my Achilles' Heel.

I remember someone (who I shall remain nameless) say to me that I had no family and no one cared about me.  How wrong they were.  I am so blessed. OK I may not have any close family; just my Aunt.  But I am loved so much.  I have a family so rich in love from all corners of the world; near and far. I need to dig deep now and not let this two wonderful, thoughtful gifts knock me back. I feel so loved.  I hope one day my daughter reads this and realises that just because you do not have a family it does not mean that people do not care about you.  Love runs a lot deeper.

Wednesday:  London is so quiet.  Hardly any cyclists on my little commute this morning; yet later when I had to get the bus to my outreach place the traffic was horrendous.  I pass an out of town supermarket and the queues for the car park reminded me that yes, it is Christmas.  Felt a bit meh today.  I think it was the lovely gift I received yesterday that kind of knocked me a bit.  But I will dig deep and just get on with it.  As always, this time will pass.

So Andy was busy packing for his trip home for Christmas and was sitting blogging.  It will be strange the next few days for so many reasons. But I guess I will miss just having him around; even though we do our separate things it will be strange to be alone, especially at Christmas as normally I have for the past four years done my volunteering and then visited people on Boxing Day.  I still have no idea what I am going to do Christmas Day.  But then I guess I do not have to decide yet.  I received a Christmas present from Jackie today (yes another one) it was another Ladybird Book for Grown-ups called The Hipster.  It was so funny and there were certain elements, once again in this book, that were a mirror image of my life.  So funny. In fact, I am sure I have dated the guy on the front cover of this book. We really do need the whole set of them now.  

Christmas Eve: 9.00-5.00 never ceases to amaze me.  I received an email stating I could leave work early today. At 4.30.  I may just stay to 5.00 just for the sheer fact that I can and to be an awkward bitch.  Sigh. 

Andy was all packed and ready to go home for Christmas.  We said our goodbyes and Merry Christmas before I left the flat for work.  It will feel strange going home to a totally empty flat for the next few days.  I used to live on my own before but this time it was different.  I loved my little cottage but never saw a soul; I did not like it.  So I should be able to survive a few days!

Timing has never been one of my strongest points. Yet this time, it was not me. It was the timing of others.  Semi melt down at work; not good but managed to recover it.  Then total melt down the minute I got in the flat.  It just never gets any easier and I guess I don't want it to either.  So I am trying not to be too hard on myself.  I thought I may as well start to watch It's a Wonderful Life now then that will finish me off then I can have wine and go to bed.  I am sitting her watching the planes fly in and out of London and I am wondering who they are carrying, where they have come from, where they are going to. It reminds me of the opening scenes to Love Actually (my other traditional Christmas film). The film opens with the arrivals lounge at Heathrow Airport.  People are hugging and kissing their friends, family as they meet up again for Christmas.  I start to cry the minute I see it.  Oh what I would give right now to hug a certain someone; I would never let her go.  But until then I guess I have to be a George Bailey and hope that someone one day some says to me 'What is it you want Karen? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. That's a pretty good idea.  I'll give you the moon Karen'.  Tonight there is a beautiful full moon in the sky, but no one has a lasso. 

May your Christmas be filled with love, laughter and peace and as always, with my love x

Sunday, 20 December 2015

I could have been someone. Well so could anyone, you took my dreams from me when I first found you (Fairytale of New York - The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl)

This song reminds me of the end of my first marriage.  Yes I have had two husbands and as Andy told me - 'Get over it for goodness sakes.  Elizabeth Taylor was married eight times and she was an icon'. I have no intention of ever getting married again, thank you. I just need to be adored next time. I did not want to get married last time!  In the end, I caved in and said I would marry him the next leap year day that fell on a Saturday.  It was the following year; 1992.  Since then I always remind myself, do you research first.  I think it is the lines 'you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it's our last' that kind of ring home.  Anyway, as usual, here it is.  You know you want to sing along again. 

Saturday:  Lazy start to the day, because I can.  Woke up, made a cup of tea and went back to bed to watch Holby City.  It is all rock and roll in my life. Household chores done and let's face it compared to how that used to be it takes hardly any time at all.  I remember in a past life I used to say 'I am going to do my ironing' but it was not MY ironing it was mine plus others.  Now MY ironing is once a fortnight!  My how things change.  That aside, what I would give to some someone's ironing again.

So chores around the flat done and Andy and I went off to do some food shopping. On the way there I was watching the planes come into Heathrow; one every 30 seconds.  Then I saw in the distance, an A380 Airbus.  They take my breath away those planes.  They are huge when you see them in the sky.  I just stood on the pavement, head up to the clouds in awe and wonder.  It was a Qantas plane and when I arrived back from my trip to Australia, I travelled home in an A380.  Those plans are so, so big.  I stood there watching it and all the wonderment and excitement of that trip come back to me.  I will travel in one of those again one day; hopefully First Class.  Well a girl can dream!

To say the supermarket was busy would be an understatement in fact, it all started to kick off at the tills.  I mean really, for goodness sakes, it is Christmas, get over it.  We walked back with five bags of shopping between us.  Andy is like a little terrier, whilst I am like a tortoise.  But we survived and got the shopping up all the stairs into our little flat.  So it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  We sat and chilled out all afternoon. I wrapped a few presents and we bought a bottle of Bailey's so I intend having a glass or three of that later.  

Sunday:  Why is it, on a Sunday, you are wide awake before the alarm.  Still, shower, hairwash etc later I am on my bus up to Hoxton. London is feeling quieter day by day.  But not at my mediation group.  It was so good to see so many people there today.  I had bought the lovely staff who cook our brunch for us each week and who always have a smile, a tin of sweets for Christmas to say thank you.  They were so pleased with it. I had also bought for Andre, the guy who runs the group but who doesn't see himself as running it, a Paul Young chocolate pudding chocolate.  He loved it.  It was so lovely to see him enjoy the chocolate.  I so love this group and the people in it.  One of the guys who attends has leant me some DVDs to watch over Christmas and I shared some with him.  There is so much positive energy in that group.  I just love it.

I had to leave early to make my way to Borough Market as I was meeting Ian there.  I know Ian from the Meet Up group in Stoke and we meet up if or when we can when he is passing through London.  He was at a concert at the O2 last night and hence in town.  We had a look around Borough Market, which is not normally open on a Sunday and then went for some lunch.  We went to Fish! This restaurant is what it's name is; a fish restaurant.  I have had a meal there before and this is the reason why I will always eat seafood. Today, I had a huge dish mussels - my favourite.  Some bread and good dry, white wine to go with it and I was in heaven.  Ian had traditional fish and chips.  We caught up on all our news and we munched our way through the delicious food.  We then went to a local pub and had a couple more drinks, just chatting away. It was such a lovely afternoon and it was great to see Ian again.  However, soon it was time for Ian to make his way up to Euston to get a train back to Crewe and I made my way, via Guy's hospital, home.  I feel truly, truly blessed today.  I have made some wonderful new friends since coming to London; yet I still have people who want to meet up with me when they are in town.  I am very lucky.

Back to the flat and chill out (sober up) time.  Once again, I have had a wonderful weekend full of laughter, brilliant friends, positive energy, good food and drink.  Normally, this time of the year I am feeling so low; yet this year it is different.  This year I feel truly blessed. All is well.

                                   As always, with my love x

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next day you gave it away. This year to save me from tears, I'll give it to someone special (Last Christmas - Wham!)

Oh how I love this song.  As soon as I hear it every year, it is Christmas.  I remember it, the year it come out.  It was Boxing Day and my dear old dad, me and my brother were in a bar, drinking, laughing and singing this.  This song will always be dear to me for that reason.  But let's face it, you have to love a bit of George.  George Michael can do no wrong in my eyes.  We could have a thing going you know (what is it with me and gay men?).  He has a beautiful house at Hampstead Heath and I would be quite happy pottering around there while he does 'his thing'.  As long as he sang Careless Whisper to me now and then.  I saw him a few years ago now in Manchester.  It was just a great big Wham! and George Michael karaoke evening.  I loved him in the 80's and I still love him now.  

Monday:  This week is going to be busy, busy, busy.  But today I am not at work; I am on annual leave.  I always work in between Christmas and New Year but am taking a couple of days off either end of the holidays and today is one of them.  

There is something naughty about making a cup of tea and going back to bed on a work day.  In fact, it was so nice, I went and made another.  Up and out and off to Guy's for another blood test then to the Chapel to make a donation for Christmas instead of cards. I cannot tell you how much joy this gave me this year to donate my Christmas Card money to the chapel.  I lit a candle for my Dad and one for my Mum as today would have been her birthday and another for everyone else.  So for those of you who have generously sent me a card here are a few photos of the Chapel.  I wanted to call my daughter Martha as I have always loved the artwork in the Chapel.  But that was not to be.  However, I do smile when I see this.  Enjoy.

Made my way to Borough Market and I was hungry by then so stopped to get some Ethiopian food.  It was mainly pulses (lentils) rice and vegetables but it had a rich taste to it and one part of if was quite spicy.  But it was lovely. It then walked my favourite walk along the Thames.  I love this walk. I had that stupid smile on my face that says 'I cannot believe I am living here'. 

London is alive for Christmas and every opportunity to build a shed and slap lights on it and call it a Christmas market is taken up on every corner. Today was no exception.  The Tate Modern had a Christmas Market.  I did not bother to go and have a look; as lovely as it looked.  It is normally stocked with over priced Christmas tat.  So I carried on walking up to the South Bank and then over the river and up to Soho.  A lovely, long, but enjoyable walk. 

I took myself off to Princi, where I went last week with my Italian friend and had a coffee and just sat in the window watching the world go by.  London was fairly quiet, I was surprised. I guess everyone was at Oxford Street or Regent Street. I started to walk over to Greek Street and Sheila rang.  I used to work with Sheila for many, many years and today her and her partner Mark were down in London from Stoke.  They are staying here for a few days and said that they would like to meet up for a chat and a drink.  Fortunately, I was off work today so it all fitted in really well.  We met at Cafe Boheme, which ironically, I have also been to with my Italian friend.  We spent the afternoon drinking wine, laughing and chatting away as if time had stood still. It is so lovely when people take time out their trips to London to want to come and meet up with me.  I do not expect them to, but I have seen so many people this year and I am so thankful that they want to meet me.  I had such a lovely afternoon with Sheila and Mark.  We left and went our separate ways.  It has been a really lovely day. 

Tuesday:  Tonight was our teams Christmas Dinner and we went to Wahaca at Soho. I have talked about Wahaca before.  It was founded by Thomasina Miers who won Masterchef in 2005. I have visited many Wahacas since I arrived in town and I have never had a bad meal there yet.  Tonight was no exception.  We had, and there were six of us, the Christmas menu and we were not disappointed.  We were served endless plates of the most wonderful Mexican food you could imagine.  The vegetarian option was great.  Coupled with numerous bottles of wine and then my new found love ....... tequila.  I have never liked tequila or shots.  I remember being out with my friends at Buddies back in Stoke many years ago and being on the shots, so much so, that I actually fell over on the dance floor and ceremoniously just sat there laughing, whilst blood was pouring from a cut in my knee.  Pandemonium perused resulting in me almost being thrown out.  That was a good evening. Tonight I had a few tequilas followed down by a tomato based shot that calmed the fire of the tequila.  Very enjoyable.

Walked to get the bus home from Piccadilly which was buzzing.  It was so busy and full of life at such a late, but in London early, time.  I eventually rolled up at the flat around 23:45, very tired and slightly ....... fuzzy!  All on a school night. But it was such a good, fun and enjoyable evening and well all said that we must do it again.  It was a good evening.

Wednesday:  I rarely get hangovers. In fact, I think the last one I had was after that fateful night in Stoke many years ago.  I remember then I just ordered a load of Chinese takeaway, that I could not eat, and laid on the sofa all day with a duvet over me.  This morning I was tired.  I did not want to get out of bed and that is not me.  9.00-5.00 done and I was on a couple of buses to get to Brixton to meet my little Meet Up group.  It was a really sweet pub called the Crown and Anchor, we went to but only a few of us actually met.  It is the time of year, everyone is busy and it is to be expected.  I was fading by then and just had one drink.  What you will find in London is you will go to the bar and order a gin and tonic and automatically you are asked do you want a double; one double gin and tonic later and I wanted my PJs.  

I said my farewells and Merry Christmases and got the bus straight outside of the pub that took me to my flat.  Joy oh joy.  I made a phone call on the way home and my friend who I should be meeting tomorrow has a chest infection so we are not meeting.  Whilst I do not want them to be ill, I am relieved that I can have a night doing absolutely nothing.  Back at the flat and the bad news was we still have no wi fi.  I said to Andy being on my own in London at Christmas is doable.  Having no wi fi is not.  It ended up with me and Andy lying on my bed watching The Apprentice on my TV.  We did giggle as he rolls up to my room with his blanket he puts over him in the evening and I said oh the blanket great and he had no intention of sharing it with me, as I had my bed.  Like I am going to get in bed.  Half the blanket later, we were sitting there watching the TV as if we were in some obscure nursing home or reinacting a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when the whole family are sitting in their bed!

I lasted out until the end of the programme but as soon as it was over (like most blokes) he was off the bed, blanket in tow and out of the door.  I slept well. Oh and we now have wi fi.  Thank goodness.

Thursday:  I know I must be tired as the alarm clock once again had to wake me up.  Normally I am awake before old Nina Simone starts singing. I have to confess, I am looking forward to my lazy evening tonight.  It will give me some rest bite before the next wave of entertainment.  I will have to, at some point, plan when I am going to get the rest of my foodie bits for next week and more importantly, where from.   I have just checked on Borough Market's webpage and they are open until 18:00 on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I will go there on Wednesday to get my vegetables, cheese, olives and other bits and bobs.  Remember this year; quality not quantity.

A quieter 9.00-5.00 which made a change.  Straight home, PJs on and chilling and that is all I am going to do tonight.  Catch up on Holby and Luther and chill. New dress arrived and once again, I am really pleased with it.  Oh I forgot to mention, I saw this advertisement yesterday in our local W H Smith's.  It really did make me chuckle.  I guess these are Ladybird Books the London way.  I think I would like to read the one about the Hipster and definitely the Dating one.  Heavens knows what will be in that one!  Also, I have at least one person I would glad-fully send the Mid Life Crisis one to!   Yet another good day.

Friday:  Grey morning in London. Oh how I miss those blues sky mornings.  I would love to wake, every morning, to a beautiful blue skied day, with enough warmth to heat the top of my feet. But not today London, not today. But it is Friday and almost the longest day.  Work done and dusted for the week and home to get ready to get out.  Tonight I met my French friend PPLP.  We have not seen each other for a few weeks as he has now started work and it has just been busy.

I walked over to his flat (he lives, at the moment, just over the road from us) and we walked along to a nearby pub.  We normally go and listen to some music over at Shoreditch or Hoxton; but tonight we wanted to have a chat.  He has really good English but I do have to concentrate when I am listening to him and the music can be a distraction.  I was surprised. I thought London would have been buzzing but it was relatively quiet.  We had a lovely evening, catching up on all our news.  His family arrive from France tomorrow for the Christmas week so his Christmas starts tomorrow.  We discussed places he can go to see with his nieces and nephews.  Walked home and it was so warm.  I cannot believe it is December and I am just wearing a little jacket ..... crazy. So it has been a busy but wonderful week.  This is why I come to London - to live. Life is good.

As always, with my love x

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Fly the great big sky, see the great big sea. Kick through continents, busting boundaries. Roam if you want to, roam around the world (Roam - B52s)

I love the B52s.  They remind me of when I was really 29, those carefree days, spending many a weekend in Cornwall with the Girlie Glees.  I had this song on my playlist when I first started to travel on my own as I thought the words were just so significant. My first trip alone was to a continent I had waited years and years to visit; Australia. It was at a time in my life that I had never felt so alone, unloved and unwanted. My world had fallen apart, yet here I was living a dream I had carried with me since I was 17 years old. Australia is a huge continent and I wanted to feel so small, so insignificant in a big world. I remember standing in the outback at night at Uluru, looking up at my beautiful stars of the Southern Hemisphere, thinking that they were, and still are, the second most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my entire life.  It made me realise, then and there, that we really are just a small speck, making our way home.   As usual, here is the video ..... enjoy!

I forgot to mention in Friday's blog, when we were at Jack's Bar last night we noticed a number of photographers hanging around before we went in.  When we come out there were quite a few more and also TV camera crews. Obviously, by then and two cocktails later, we just assumed that they were there to film us.  However, it now transpires, after I have just seen the news that they were there for someone else.  The Restaurant next to the bar we were in was hosting the Stop The War Campaign's Christmas meal and Jeremy Corbyn was attending - hence the press interest.  Also, the restaurant that we then went to, the Union Cafe, is own by Gordon Ramsay and he is often in attendance, well according to their web page.  I am going to have to raise the bar, I am now well and truly in the fast lane!

Saturday: I was wide awake at 5.30 ..... sigh. But I was surprisingly feeling refreshed and ready to start the day.  Not many more Saturdays left before Christmas.  Today I am leaving the City again and going to Zone Six! I am sure I will get homesick as I see the skyline of the City slowly fading away.  I am going back to my home county of Kent to see my Auntie, my Dad's Sister.  The good thing about living back home again is that I can visit more often.  This year I do not have to put a cheque in the post, I can actually take her a present.

Up, showered and dressed and off to London Bridge to get the train.  One arrived as soon as I got there.  Walked from the station to my Auntie's home. She was so pleased to see me and she is the only person I have left who has known me from the day I was born and loves me unconditionally.  We spent time drinking coffee and catching up.  She then prepared me a lovely salad for lunch.  She always panics because I am vegetarian and makes it such a big thing love her.  I tell her it is fine, cheese will do.  However, I better not go and visit when I am having a vegan day.  Spent the rest of the day chatting. We exchanged gifts and I started to make my way home.  It was a lovely day.

Back in London and once again, oh how I missed it.  To be honest.  I was tired. I had a couple of rather large Bailey's at my Aunties and the fact that I was awake from 5.30am had started to take it's toll.  I got home and had half an hour on my bed; a little doze.  All week The Shard has been messing with their lights and tonight it happened.  The top of The Shard is now changing colour. I tried to take photos but they have not come out very well.  The top changes from being totally green, to bright white, to red and then a combination of all three.  It looks stunning. I really love that building.  I am looking out the window now as I type this. Our Poundland red lights contrast lovely with The Shard's wonderful display.  

Quiet evening as I have a packed schedule ahead (more about that later), so we just watched The Imitation Game (again for me).  I first saw this in Bangkok and laughed 20 seconds before the Thais who were having to read sub titles.  I do like this film. I did chuckle at one part of it as I remember Legs telling me about, and us subsequently 'discussing', can computers think and him telling me about The Turing Test.  So when that part of the film come on with the wonderful Rory Kinnear, I did smile to myself.  But like I said to Legs at the time, computers are still binary, they do not have a heart!

Sunday:  It would not matter how many lights there are on The Shard, I cannot see her this morning because of the low cloud.  It is a wet day in London.  My little meditation group was as wonderful as ever.  I am so happy there and the people are so lovely.  I had brunch today, duly cooked by Michelle.  I had Turkish Eggs and they were delicious.  It set me up for the rest of the day.

I left the cafe and walked along the Regent's canal towards Islington.  I was a woman on a mission.  It was still damp and cloudy but it was good to be out in the fresh air.  London still never ceases to amaze me.  Around every corner there is always a surprise waiting to leap out and make you smile.  Today was no exception.  I had not walked this way along the canal before and it was completely different than when I walked the other way towards Victoria Park.

Some of the apartments over looking the canal are stunning.  I cannot begin to imagine how much these would be to rent let alone buy. 

The canal boats were all moored up and I thought to myself how cold they must be to live on this time of the year.  I was making my way to Islington.  I have been up this way before and really liked it.  The houses here are so lovely.  I like the feel of the area.  If I could, I would like to work at Angel.  It has the usual shops  I like: Monsoon, Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Boots, Marks & Spencer to name a few. I told myself that when I need to go townie shopping I will now go to Angel Islington, especially as I can walk there from my little cafe on a Sunday.   However, I was making my way to this little village to buy something special.  

Two of the women who attend my Meditation Group had told me a few weeks ago about a lovely chocolate shop at Camden Passage.  The shop is called Paul Young (as in Wherever I Lay My Hat Is My Home!) but not that one.  It was such a lovely, quirky shop and as soon as I opened the door the smell was putting pounds on my hips.

To be honest, I did not have my glasses on and could not see how much the handmade chocolates actually were.  They had a box of 4, 9, 16 and then goodness knows how many!  I decided to go for just 9 as I had been told, and read on their webpage that they are rich.  I selected some of the following: Marmite ...... I love Marmite, Champagne Truffle, Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter, Orange Creme, Chocolate Brownie and some more which I cannot remember.  I also bought a chocolate brownie and a salt caramel millionaire's shortbread for Andy and I.  It was a wonderful experience and my thoughts this Christmas is to have quality not quantity.  

I spent an hour or so walking around Islington, browsing in the shops and soaking up the atmosphere of Christmas.  I went and got the rest of my presents and then made my way home.  The chocolate brownie was gorgeous. We cut it in half and I was stuffed! Wrapped up some presents, wrote some cards and sat and chilled.  I cannot believe how much I am looking forward to Christmas this year.  I am OK now, no more wobbles.  I am sitting here looking at The Shard in all her glory and thinking how blessed I am.  I have not done many clever things in my life; having my daughter was one of the most amazing things I have done.  But moving to London was the best decision ever. It has not made feelings go away and I don't want them to disappear, and as always, I still have hope. But London has given me the opportunities and experiences I would never, ever have experienced.

As always, with my love x

Friday, 11 December 2015

I've had relations with boys from many nations. I've made passes at men of all classes. And just because you're gay I won't turn you away. If you stick around, I'm sure that we can find some common ground (Sexuality - Billy Bragg)

I just love this song.  I love Billy Bragg.  This song was released in 1991, way before laws were introduced to protect people's rights to have partners of their choice. It was a anti-homophobic and a safe sex song. Looking back, it does look dated now, but at the time it was such a powerful (as many of Billy Bragg's songs are) message.  There are so many famous people in the video:  Kirsty MacColl sings on the track.  She was so talented and died, as many do, far too young. She had such a passion for life and many of her songs were co-written with Billy Bragg. Johnny Marr plays guitar who was the lead guitarist with The Smiths and Morrissey and, who in my opinion, is one of the greatest guitar players in recent times. Oh and he is a teetotal vegan!  You have to love him. Then there is Phil Jupitus who also amuses me, he is such a funny guy.  

Monday:  Whilst living in London may give me opportunities and experiences I would never have had living up North; it is an expensive City to be living in.  Do not be under all illusion that I earn thousands; far from it.  In fact, I only earn slightly more than I did when working up North.  My rent is extortionate, but the bills are halved and that kind of balances things out.  I remember back in the summer when one of my dear friends come down from Stoke to visit me and to make sure I was OK (love her). We were walking towards Borough and I said to her how I wished I could live there.  She said to me 'why don't you?'.  Anyone who knows or lives in London would know straight away the reason why I am not living in Borough. I explained to her it was because I could not afford it.  I asked her how much her rent was for her home in Stoke, at it was about £360 a month!  I carefully worded, but told her my half of the rent for the flat and she nearly collapsed when she found out it was not the total amount each month, but just my half.  She could not believe it.   She almost had a heart attack, I kid you not.  London is expensive.  It is a playground for those with money to spend.  Alas, I am not one of them!

However, I look at living in London as in investment.  An investment in my life, because of the lifestyle I now live.  I am very careful with my money.  If I lived like a tourist here, I would never survive.  So I do not!  Don't get me wrong, of course I go out. But I try to take the bus, instead of the tube as it is cheaper (it is not always practical or possible though), most of the galleries and museums are free, I eat a simple but healthy diet with me normally having at least two vegan days a week.  I only buy 'stuff' now if I really, really need it, as opposed to wanting it. Apart from anything else, in the past few years I have gone from a four bedroom home to a room in a two bedroom flat.  There really is not the room for plenty of 'stuff'. All this coupled together works and gives me the choice and opportunity to be living in this wonderful, diverse, crazy, wonderful City.

I had an American client today .... sigh!  He called me Ma'am (of course he did) and when my pen was not working looked in his bag to see if he had a Sharpie (a Sharpie is an American manufacture of what we would call a felt tip pen!). I am very familiar with the word Sharpie.  He was lovely and had such a great accent.  I think I will have to start 'hanging out' around Grosvenor Square too see if I can find myself one; they do make me smile.

Tuesday:  Really busy, but productive day today between 9.00am to 5.00pm. I would hate me if I wasn't me. I am so organised and I was going for it today! After work I went to do some shopping.  I have purchased my first Christmas jumper.  Everyone wears one one day at work so I thought I better be a sheep. It was OK I got 30% off so it will do.  I do not think there will be any pictures. Favourite tea tonight, avocado on toast with scrambled egg.

I had a phone call from one of my friends in Stoke tonight.  Her 7 year old daughter thinks something terrible is going to happen to me as I am living in London.  She has watched the news and now all the terrorist threats are playing on her little mind, love her.  I had a chat with her and tried to reassure her. She said to her Mum that I should go home now.  Her Mum, tried to explain to her that I was home and London is my home. But she would not have any of it. It just goes to show how things play on children's little minds.

I got all ready tonight to watch Luther. I sat there at 21:00 in anticipation, only to be told that it is in fact .................... next week! Doh! It gave Andy a good giggle. My face was a picture of confusion then disappointment.  Just a normal day then.

Wednesday:  Wednesday again.  I get out of the office on a Wednesday had have to travel out of town a bit.  Today was beautiful.  Bright blue skies and I sat in the part and shared my lunch with a robin who seemed to be very interested in me.  I watched the planes come into land at Heathrow as I was right over the flight path.  On the way home I went to a sort of larger supermarket and got some bits for Christmas, then to the library to collect a couple of DVDs and then to the GPs. What a shock that was. I had such a lovely GP in Stoke, he was (and still is) my friend.  He looked after me when I first arrived in Stoke and supported me throughout my pregnancy and right up until I left.  I have a new Doctor's surgery now which is really, really good.

Tonight I saw another new Doctor who was lovely and looked about 18. In fact, I thought she was on work placement. I did have to point out to her at one point that I was a reasonably intelligent women and understand the concept of medication. She was very handy with the handouts.  I wonder if this is the way to go.  Mind you, if it is on Holby City or ER or Google I can figure it out.  But she was very lovely and kind and my BP is so low now it is scary; but according to her that is good.  But more blood tests at Guy's. I bet my Dad is smiling to himself.

Quiet night tonight.  Andy is at his Christmas Party, which is fancy dress and he has gone as a dragon ...... don't ask.  So I thought I would stay in my room this evening (that Stockholm Syndrome thing again). But it has been a good day and it is beginning to look a bit like Christmas.  The Shard are doing something with their lights.  I noticed it on Monday.  The top lights changed to green and bright white, then went back to normal.  Last night, again the top part of The Shard turned bright, bright white. It looked beautiful.  We have battery lights from Poundland in our windows in the lounge; The Shard has bigger plans.  I am sure they are only doing it for me, for my first Christmas in London.
Thursday:  Busy 9.00-5.00 (it always is) and the day flew. Back home at the flat and Andy has cooked dinner for us both tonight.  What a little darling and I mean cooking as not just warming something up.  He has cooked a vegetarian pasta dish and a white chocolate cheesecake! How great is that.  We have the perfect relationship: share a home, own lives, own jobs, do things together, play on the Xbox and never have sex ............... just like most married couples I know!  It was absolutely delicious.  We spent the evening watching Se7en, one of my favourite films.  Andy had never seen it.  So he was in for a treat.  We did have a giggle tonight too.  Andy was telling me that a few years ago he went to the theatre to see Tonight's the Night and did not have a clue, until the end, that it was based on Rod Stewart songs! Doh! Bless.  I know what to get him now for Christmas, Rod's greatest hits.  It has been a great day.

Friday:  We made it again my friends.  Another week been and gone, and all and all it has been a great week.  Things have seemed to have settled now and that is good as I am still looking forward to Christmas.  I have been looking at my schedule today and the next time I have a totally free day/night to myself is next Thursday (17th).Update, looks as if I am now out on Thursday.   It is crazy.  But at least it gives me plenty to write about.

I finished work at 16:30 today and made my way to Southwark Tube Station to meet my friend. I met her at a Meet Up back in the summer.  We both hated the Meet Up but have remained friends.  Tonight we have had a blast.  First of all we went to a bar called Jack's at Southwark and had cocktails.  I do love a cocktail and especially on a Friday night!  The bartender was rather appealing and I treated myself to a little banter (as us single girls have to do). He was lapping it up and giving it back, so all good.  He made me this wonderful cocktail with cucumber, egg white (yes you did read that right), lime, chilli (again you did read that right) and gin!  It was bloody lovely.  I then had another cocktail, because I can, but this time it was a Tom Collins. My friend had two Bellinis.  

We then decided to go and get some food.  My friend works in this part of town and she said that she had seen a lovely restaurant near by.  It turned out to be opposite the pub that me and PPLP (my French friend) used to meet.  It is called the Union Street Cafe and it is owned by Gordon Ramsay.  The menu is created daily and is mainly Italian food. Oh my. What a treat we had. My friend had bruschetta topped with butternut squash and mascarpone cheese; was delicious because I had a taste. I had three small peppers stuffed with the most amazing tuna I have ever tasted.  It was so fresh and the flavour just exploded in my mouth.  For mains my friend had rigatoni with various meat and I had spaghetti with seafood.  Again, it was one of those meals you do not want it to end. We even had a desert.  My friend had quince apple tart and ice cream and I had a selection of Italian cheese. This was all washed down with a big glass of dry, white wine!  The staff were so attentive and I felt truly spoilt. To say I feel stuffed now would be an understatement.  It was such wonderful food and I would like to eat there again ................. if anyone is offering!

We walked back to Southwark Tube Station and I said good bye to my friend and she went to the tube.  I was going to get the bus home but decided to walk, it is not far. I cannot tell you how much joy I feel living in London.  To be able to have an evening like tonight is wonderful.  I walked home with that silly smile on my face.  It has been a good week.

                                    As always, with my love x