Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Random Musings from an Awesome Week!

Wow, what a week and what a weekend. I have a lot to catch up on! I’ve had a mega busy week at work, which has meant that I’m way behind on all my regular blog reading! I need a weekend just to catch up on that! But I wouldn’t have changed by week at all. Last Monday I took the afternoon off so that I could travel down to London to watch Weezer! WOW! I think that’s pretty much all I can say on that one. They were incredible. The band were playing at the Hammersmith Apollo, which was much smaller than I was expecting, but it wasn’t a bad thing, as it meant that my friend Beck and I got a wicked good view of them all! We were far enough way from the front so that we weren’t totally squished in the mosh pit, but close enough that they were all still fairly big and not tiny dots on the horizon! They played all the classics from The Sweater Song, through to Photograph and then some of their new ones from the new album. For the encore everyone was watching the stage as expected, but then we heard a small voice saying, "Hello, Helloooo", so we turned around to see Rivers Cuomo sat on the balcony amidst the crowd with his guitar. He kicked off the encore by giving us an acoustic rendition of Holiday, (Hip Hip!). It was amazing! This is the song that really got me into Weezer a couple of years ago, and whenever I hear it, I can see my friend Eddie from the States and it brings back the wonderful memories of my time at college there. I absolutely love it, and so to hear it sung acoustic while stood there with one of my closest friends (who was at college with us) gave me goose-bumps and make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end! They then finished their set with Hash Pipe and You Take Your Car…I’ll take My Board. A thoroughly amazing night to say the least – one of the best gigs I have ever been to.

Then Tuesday night was a leaving do for my friend Jon from work. He’s heading back to university in a couple of weeks, so we had a night out. It was a lot of fun, spent drinking cocktails and chatting for the last time as big group for probably a very long time. I have to say although I’ve only known Jon for a few months; it feels very strange at work without him. I’m just so used to sitting at my desk and then seeing Jon rushing in the door a few minutes late, and wondering what coloured shirt and tie (he was the ONLY guy in our office to wear a shirt and tie every day without fail) he had on that day. I’m sure I’ll see him again, but work just seems different now he’s gone.

Then on Thursday night I went to the movies with my friends Sarah and Emma, to see Crash. Yep, it’s only just reached us over here in the UK. But it was incredible! A truly honest film, it was so hard-hitting that when it finished we didn’t really know what to say to each other, but also at times it was very touching, making me cry on more than one occasion! In my personal opinion, some of the acting could have been better, but it didn’t distract from the film’s crucial message. The movie was not really what I was expecting, but it was very clever. I loved the way all the central characters were linked to each other, by one means or another. I urge you to go and see this movie if you haven’t already.

Then on Friday I went down to Letchworth, near London to stay with my older sister and her boyfriend. They have just recently installed surround sound into their living room, to go with their 110" screen and projector. Now for me, the ultimate movie to watch on a big screen with surround sound is Top Gun! It is my favourite movie, and I’ve never been able to watch it in cinema surroundings…but now I have!!! It was the main reason for going to stay with Liz, apart from to spend time with her of course!!! At one point we thought there was a leak in the kitchen, but in actual fact, it was just the sounds of the showers coming through the speakers behind us. I loved it! We spend most of the weekend relaxing, watching movies and the England Cricket games against Australia – which we won by the way! YEY!

Then on Monday I met up with Beck again, and we went to a place called Belvoir Castle (pronounced Beaver!) for a day of jousting! I love anything remotely Medieval, and jousting in particular. When I was about 9, my family went to Las Vegas, and stayed in the Excaliber Hotel. Underneath they had a large stadium where they put on jousting shows, while you eat dinner…with your hands. For a 9-year-old, it was a major treat to eat with your hands, and the show was incredible. It really felt as if we had gone back in time. The same thing happened on Monday. When we first arrived we had a picnic on the grass next to the car, which consisted of olives, hummus, chips, salad and a few sandwiches. Then we headed up to the castle, the present building dates back to the 18th Century, but there has been a castle there for many hundreds of years. The architecture was beautiful, with large gothic windows, turrets and an enormous grand entrance. Again, I love things like that because I have such a vivid imagination I can imagine all the people that would have lived here. Walking up the driveway towards the door I could see all the carriages bring guests to the party being held that night, the horsemen navigating their way through the entrance archway to the front door. I could see the ladies in their gorgeous flowing dresses being helped down by their men dressed smartly in their suits and tails. The tour of the inside was just as vivid. The rooms were so ornate, and spacious, and each had a card mounted so that you could read just what went on in each one. There was a ball room with a high ceiling and wooden floor, perfect for dancing the night away, then next door was the State Dining Room, complete with tables laid up with the finest silver, and candle sticks. My favourite room however, has to be the Kitchen. In almost every stately home/castle I’ve been to, the Kitchen has been the best room for me. I think its because I enjoy cooking so much, and also because it conjures up the most images in my mind. I can feel the heat from the large ovens and fires, smell the delicious meals being created, and see the Head Cook in her white apron running the staff. The kitchen at Belvoir was huge! I think you could have fitted almost my entire house into that one room. There was a large sturdy wooden table at one end with hundreds of dents and marks in it that just showed its age. The walls were lined with copper pots both tiny and giant. Unfortunately we didn’t get to spend as long in there as I would have liked, because we had to make our way outside for the jousting.

We found a spot on the hill, overlooking the tilt. Then just as the excitement was getting too much to bear, in came the knights on their magnificent horses. There were 4 in total, 2 from the Belvoir camp and 2 from the camp of The Black Knight, and these were the ‘bad’ Knights. There was the Black Knight, who rarely played to the rules and liked to make his own up, and his noble right hand man. Then in the Belvoir camp there was the Tournament Champion, and his noble sidekick Sir Frederick – the Drunken Lord! The Tournament consisted of sword fights, with 2 handed swords, 1 ½ handed swords and the regular 1 handed swords, axe fights, and of course the jousting. The crowd was fantastic, especially the children, who would jeer at the Black Knight, and cheer when the Champion won a fight. The whole competition lasted for about an hour, but it just flew by. It was so much fun, even when it started to rain a little bit; no one really battered an eyelid. At the end we were told that the Knights would be available for photos and autographs on the top courtyard, so Beck and I headed up that way and sat for a while looking over at the tremendous view of the valley beyond the expanse of the castle grounds. I had about 3 photos left on my camera, so I decided that I wanted a photo of the Black Knight, so I fought my way through the mass of 7/8 year olds so that I could stand next to the man himself. I did feel a bit silly, being nearly 23 and wanting a photo with a Knight, but I figured, "what’s better than pretending to be a kid again?" So I did it! The whole day was just great, and I’m hoping to go to Nottingham at the end of October to see the Knights in action again!

Well I think that’s about it for right now, I’m sure I’ve got so much to catch up on, but I’m afraid It’ll have to wait!

Take care everyone!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Girlie Drive 2005 (Pt. 2)

Still no photos as yet I'm afraid, you'll have to wait for those! I will try and get them on though!

Wednesday was a wicked day, again, we woke up early so that we could make good time to Dover, to catch the ferry over to France…FOR THE DAY!!! A day trip to France…I guess that’s the luxury of living so close to other countries. The drive took about ½ hour, and then we had a little wait for the ferry, but before long we were driving into the wide-open mouth of the ferry bay. The journey over took about 1 ½ hours so we had plenty of time to look around the ship, and shop for duty free! We took a turn around the top deck in the sunshine, and imagined ourselves to be on the first class section of the Titanic (obviously hoping not to come to the same fate!). We then arrived into Calais where I took over the driving to get us to the City Europe shopping centre. We were in our element; a haven full of clothes shops, shoe shops, gift shops, a food court, the most Enormous hypermarket. We didn’t quite know where to start! So we headed straight for the H & M! We spend quite a long time in there, trying on countless tops, skirts and trousers. However, because we didn’t have much money, it was just browsing and not buying. From there we just wondered around, looking in the little gift shops, and seeing so many beautiful things that we could we have bought. All that shopping had worn us all out, and we were ready for some food. We headed to the food court to try and find somewhere that we could agree on to eat. We settled for a nice authentic French meal, served by a real French waiter, in a pub called The John Bull Pub. How ironic is that? It certainly made us giggle! Before we knew it, it was time to go and we hadn’t even done our alcohol shopping yet! So we literally ran around the Hypermarket, picking up some wonderful French Brie along the way, to get to the wine section. We found a box of red wine in the shape of an old wooden keg that held 5 Litres. That’s 6 ½ bottles of wine, all for 10 Euros (about £7/$12 (I think!). That’s sooooo cheap! Having acquired our stock of wine etc, we hotfooted it back to the car to make it back to the ferry on time. The journey back was less exciting, as we were all tired out from our day’s shopping. We spent that night watching the TV and chilling out relaxing, before our long drive across the country from Kent to Cornwall the next day.

We started the day with a good breakfast of bacon and egg sandwiches, then packed up the car and said our goodbyes once again. We made pretty good time to get to Stonehenge by lunchtime. We pulled off the main road, and could feel the serenity and energy in the air. Stonehenge is a very spiritual place where many Ley Lines cross. The stones themselves are ancient and I find it very hard to fathom that somebody actually built it. I wish that there were a definite answer as to what it actually is, and why it was built. There are so many different theories. When we got there, I was totally disgusted to find out that you now have to pay £5 to walk around the stones. People go there to find peace and it is very popular with the Druids on this country, but now you have to pay. For some, it would be like having to pay to go into a church. The thing that really annoyed me about this is that there would be no upkeep of the site, as it is just stones, but they have built a cafĂ© and a visitors centre etc. and that it what your then entrance fee goes to pay for. I voiced my disgust very loudly indeed! Anyway, rant over! After lunch in the sunshine we got going again, and after a few more stops to change drivers, we finally made it home at about 5.30pm. By the time we got home, we were shattered, so just sat in the garden with a nice Gin and Tonic, and played some childhood games for a few hours. I live in the middle of nowhere and the peace and quiet is something I cherish whenever I’m home. Sitting my garden, for the majority of the time, you can hear no manmade noise at all – its wonderful! That night we enjoyed a lovely dinner of fish fajitas…mmmmm! The next day we all had breakfast around the table together, and then headed off to Looe, a small fishing town in Cornwall. We went and played on another beach, then because it was so busy there, we found some secluded rocks and watched the sea rolling in and out, taking in that amazing sound of the waves crashing over and over again. With the sunshine out in full, we could very easily have fallen asleep to that sound, but as it was we all decided it was high time for some ice cream! And boy, was it delicious! Proper Cornish Clotted Cream ice cream is something that is not matched by any one (the only ones to come close, in my mind are Ben and Jerry!). However, we were careful not to fill ourselves up too much, as were going out to dinner that night at the Pub/Restaurant where I used to work last summer. It was nice to catch up with all the old staff again, and although I love my life in Derby, I do miss working there. The food was amazing, as usual – I started with tiger prawns wrapped in filo pastry with a sweet chilli dip, that had just enough of a bite to it to make your tongue tingle. That was followed by a swordfish steak with red pepper sauce and new potatoes, with seasonal vegetables, the colours looked wonderful on the plate and the flavours melded together in perfect harmony. After that, I was pretty full, but the Tiramisu at the Rifle Volunteer is to die for, so I just HAD to squeeze a little in! It was a great night spent with my friend Ania from home too, and the 4 of us chatted the night away and did a great deal of giggling. We were so stuffed after all the food and drink that when we got home we went straight to bed to sleep it all off!!!

Saturday it decided to RAIN – ALLLL DAY! An old friend of Daisy’s that she hadn’t seen for about 3 years was getting married in Plymouth that day, so we all got dressed up and trekked into town. We managed to find the registry office in plenty of time, so we had about ½ hour to sit and watch the people coming and going. Eventually the bride appeared and so we all headed into the room in which the ceremony would take place. The service itself was beautiful, but the thing about registry office weddings is that they are very much one in one out…we could hear the people outside waiting to come in for their wedding, which spoiled it a little bit. Also, because the weather was so gloomy, it dampened the mood slightly. Daisy managed to speak to her friend briefly, but as they had 3 years worth of stuff to catch up on, neither of them really knew where to start, so we didn’t stay long. The rain was getting to us all so we decided we would head to the old part of Plymouth, the Barbican (where the Mayflower steps are, I love it there!) and get something to eat. We were going to have a wonder around, as that part of Plymouth has a much nicer atmosphere than the city centre, but it was just too wet and cold, so we headed home to a nice hot cup of tea! That night there was a Barn Dance in my local village hall. It was the perfect way to end a wicked week. There was a mixture of people there, but the majority of them were either parent aged or very young. Daisy, Kim and I were the only ones in our early 20s, but that didn’t stop anybody having a lot of fun. To start with we were a bit apprehensive, but then once the first dance was over and we could see what was what, Kim and I were first up on the dance floor for the next one. One by one we all joined in, with me dancing with my dad and Daisy and Kim together. There was laughter bouncing off all the walls, and smiling faces surrounding the dance floor. It was just wonderful. We left feeling very tired, but buzzing with excitement and energy. A good night’s sleep was had by all that night. On Sunday, we had a lie-in until about 10.00, when we woke up to the smells of bacon, eggs, sausages etc. Brunch was being cooked in the kitchen, and smell of it all drifting down the corridor couldn’t get us out of bed quick enough. We had the works, tomatoes, beans, mushrooms, black pudding, white pudding, bacon, eggs, sausages, fried bread, hash browns and toast. It set us up perfectly for the long drive back to Derby. Saying goodbye was sad, once again, but it won’t be long until I see them again anyway. The drive back was very easy, only getting stuck once because of an accident further up, but we made it home in fairly good time, and rewarded ourselves with a nice glass of French red wine.

A great trip was had by all, and I can’t quite believe that we are all back at work again now. It was so interesting to see how each of our parents vary, and what each other’s home lives are like. We are all very different, but we manage to get on so well. It was wonderful.

Finally, I have finished the report of our trip, and I would just like to apologise in case it is very much "then we did this," "then we did that", but as very much an amateur writer, I’m not too sure of any other way of writing stuff like that. If anyone has any tips, I would welcome them openly. Thanks for reading! Take care!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Girlie Drive 2005 (Pt. 1)

Well, I’m back safe and sound after a very successful road trip. I am currently sat at work on my fourth day back, and wishing I were still on vacation! We set off from the house at about 6.30pm on Friday evening. All was a bit rushed because we were desperate to get on the road. We ended up leaving bits and pieces (including the sleeping bags!) behind, each thinking that the other had them. As it turned out, we didn’t need them anyway! We found some good tunes to listen to, including Jason Mraz, James Blunt, John Legend, KT Tunstall, Weezer and many more, and we hit the road to Norfolk. The journey was pretty easy, except for a minor hitch about 1-½ hours away from our destination when Daisy (who’s house we were going to I hasten to add) couldn’t remember the way home! We had to drive around a roundabout about 3 or 4 times before we knew the way to go. I think we successfully managed to confuse all the drivers around us by doing so, but it sure did make us all giggle! We eventually arrive into Wells-next-the-Sea at about 9.10pm, to be met by Daisy’s parents who had prepared a wonderful feast of salami, pastrami and sausage, with salad and boiled new potatoes and the best bit…the bottle of red wine! We sat around the table, taking in the sounds, smells and sights of our new surroundings. We were all ravenous, so the food was devoured within minutes, all the while Daisy’s mom was trying to ask us questions about the drive, but our mouths were too full of delicious tastes and textures. Then after we had managed to successfully drain a bottle of wine, we headed out to meet Daisy’s bother and friends in town. As it was Carnival week in Wells, there were a few bands playing on the Village Green, so we moseyed on down to spend the evening catching up with old friends. We stood laughing, chatting and drinking copious amounts of Gin! It was a wonderful start to our trip. We woke up on Saturday – CARNIVAL DAY! Daisy had told us all about the Wells Carnival, how amazing it is, with people dressed up galore, floats decorated in all sorts of themes and the general community feel. You could hardly contain our excitement, and then to top it off, we started the day by going to a Maize Maze! It was amazing…if you will! We ran in like little kids, and got totally lost but managed to find ourselves back at the start…not at all where we wanted to be. I had heard that if you keep the hedge/barrier on your left-hand side at all times, you will eventually find your way out. So we experimented with that, and lo and behold, we managed to find the exit. It was so much fun; we were messing about, and acting like young children all morning! I think it’s good for to be silly every now and then! Then as 3.00pm approached and the start of Carnival drew nearer, the excitement stepped up a level. We found ourselves a spot on the high street, armed with a pint of beer. Then, all of a sudden the beat of the drums from the marching band came drifting down the road towards us. Then about 20/25 minutes and 4 floats later the Carnival was over! I have to admit I was expecting a lot more than that. There was an Austin Powers float, with people dressed as many different characters from all the movies, an under the sea float, with children and adults alike dressed as sea creatures, a pirate float and a dance float all trying to raise money for their various clubs/charities. In between each float there were groups of people walking the route, again dressed up in all sorts of multi coloured, gaudy outfits. It was a lot of fun, but just a lot smaller than I was expecting! Then after all the Carnival excitement, we went home and had an afternoon nap to prepare ourselves for the late night partying that was to come! So that evening after a meal of quiche and chips from a lovely little pub, we headed back to the village green with another bottle of red wine to watch that evening’s band. We ended up at a house party chatting away until the wee small hours of the morning! Sunday was a recovery day spent lazily wandering around town, and then sitting on the quay gillying. This is crab catching for those who don’t know – we managed to get 4 of them, one with just one claw, so we called him Claude! But then it got far too windy and cold, so we took refuge and had a nice hot cup of tea. Then Monday was the start of the second leg. We went down to the beach in the morning, where we were totally blown away. Literally. It was so very windy, we were pretending to be super heroes in the wind! Then we came home to say our good byes to Daisy’s family. Then we hit the road once again. The drive down to Kent was really easy, with no problems at all. And we managed to make it in about 4 hours. Kim’s house is lovely, with a wonderful back garden complete with pond, inhabited by 4 frogs and some fish! I have some photos, but you’ll have to wait for them! We had a scrummy dinner of Beef stew with potatoes, and got to know Kim’s parents, as I had not met them before. Then after dinner, we walked along the beach to Kim’s local pub to meet up with some friends. It was a very local pub, with not many people in it, but a nice beer garden that we sat in until it got too cold. Then we headed home after a good catch up, via the nearest Indian takeaway to cure our hunger pangs. So a feast of chips, samosas and popadoms was enjoyed on the walk home. Tuesday we woke up fairly early so that we could get a good head start into Canterbury for a day’s shopping. Canterbury is a very pretty old city, with little side street dotted around all over the place. We did see the odd large chain store, but most of the shops were small independently owned stores with lots of lovely little goodies that you really don’t need but just have to buy! We found a very old pub called The Cherry Tree for lunch, where we found out it was about 700 years old – mind boggling! When we were all tired out, and shopped out, we headed home to go and play on the beach. Kim’s beach wasn’t as windy as Daisy’s but it did have a strange phenomenon of dead crabs. About half way up the beach for a good 300/400 meters there was a line of washed up, empty shelled spider crabs. It was horrible! I’m an arachnaphobe, so therefore ANYTHING with 8 legs gives me the creeps. Walking over these empty lifeless eight legged creatures sent shivers up my spine! But I managed to ignore them for long enough to get the water where we spent a great deal of time paddling in the freezing Channel water, pretending to surf on bits of driftwood. Then we moved up the beach further away from the evil crabs, and spent a good few hours drawing the sand, and making pretty patterns, writing stuff and taking pictures. We just about made it home before falling into bed exhausted!

Friday, August 05, 2005

Hip Hip!

Hooray! I'm going on holiday today! My housemates and I are going on a road trip to each of houses around the country. We're setting off for Norfolk this evening, and staying there over Carnival weekend and leaving on Monday for Kent. While there we are hopefully going to head over to France for a day, as it's so close, but we're not sure about that yet, we'll see. Then on Thursday it's the big one...from Kent to Cornwall. We think it will take about 6/7 hours or so to drive pretty much the width of the country, from the East Coast to the West. It will be a long day, but an adventure in itself, as we're not entirely sure of the route, so we'll be stopping off here and there along the way to give ourselves a bit of a break. When down in sunny Cornwall, we'll be visiting the Eden Project, which some of you may have seen in the latest Bond movie Die Another Day. It's wonderful down there, like visiting another planet. We might be able to make it to a beach, but I'm not sure about that one. Then on Sunday, it'll be another big drive back from there to Derby, which will also take about 6/7 hours we think. I've never been on a proper road trip beactuallyre WE actaully do the driving. I've been across countries and stuff, but never with me behind the wheel. I'm so excited, and can't wait for the last 2 ½ hours of work to fly by! However it does mean that I probably won't be posting next week, it depends how sociable I'm feeling! I will update you all on how everything went when I get back though.

I'd also just like to say Congratulations to Purple_Kangaroo and family on the birth of her new baby daughter! YEY! Welcome to the world little one!