Tag Archives: life

Diary of the disaster prone

11 May

Since my return to blogging, a few people including my lovely friend Megs have asked me to create a blog on the daily crazy incidents I often experience. Well to be completely honest, my life is so utterly ludicrous at times that I could spend 24 hours a day writing and still wouldn’t have enough time to record it all.

So I’ve come up with a compromise, just this once I am going to reveal some of my more embarrassing disasters. Reveal the whole truth, not just the Steph Bristow edited version that most of my friends and family enjoy.

For the record, I don’t set out to get myself into trouble (or fall head first into calamity as my friends say) but if it’s going to happen, then you can be assured it will happen to me. Personally I’ve always just been of the opinion that when the dear Lord was handing out luck, I was at the back of the queue (probably facing the wrong way).

I am the unfortunate product of clumsiness, awkwardness, curiosity and good intentions.

Some of these events you may already know, some you won’t. Either way you’re reading an excerpt from what would be the diary of the disaster prone, and here are some of my less than shining moments.

Pro driver                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Well any disaster diary would have to start with this event, as it was probably the most dangerous of all my ‘incidents’. Most people know this story so the shortened version goes like this…on a visit in the car to a friends house, foolishly I took a bit of a wrong turn on a slip road and found myself hurtling down the wrong side of a dual carriageway. Luckily I managed to find a section of pedestrian pathway not fenced off and crashed my car onto the narrow walkway, avoiding a head on collision. I made mistake number two putting my hazard lights on alongside my headlights which quickly left my car battery dead, I was later reported to the police who were total sweethearts, stopped traffic and jump started my car. They even came back a second time when my car battery went flat again five minutes further up the road. Embarrassing? God yes, but also potentially fatal.

Cocktail carnage                                                                                                                                                                                                                          To celebrate Kelly’s graduation and new job, my friends and I selected a restaurant that wouldn’t usually make it on our radar for a bit of variety, the food was… different, the service wasn’t fantastic but we were still pleased with our choice. Kelly and I went to the bar for some cocktails, encouraging the barman to show us his skills. Going all Tom Cruise on us he was shimmying and chucking shakers in the air, it was all very impressive, I was ready to start fantasising I was Elisabeth Shue and unfortunately that was when he proceeded to chuck the drinks over both of us. Suffice to say that my fantasy was over; we both spent the evening smelling like winos and went home soggy.

Morrisons mishap                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This incident is a testament to why you should always look where you’re going. I was doing a bit of after work food shopping, as usual attempting to nonchalantly do ten things at once. I was texting Kelly, pushing the trolley and fiddling with my Ipod, then before I knew it I had walked slap bang into a toilet roll display. There was a kind of toilet roll avalanche, they all scattered across the shop floor and I was desperately trying to pick them all up. I’m not going to lie, I was tempted to just jump onto my trolley and roll around the corner; I wish I had when the shop assistant arrived. 23 years old and scolded by a shop assistant…I am the child people need to attach to buggy reigns.

Hungry hungry hippo                                                                                                                                                                                                              Back in the depressing days of unemployment I spent my time jumping through hoops on the whims of mean employers and attending interviews. One in particular was a complete nightmare, no I’m not talking about the interview where I was asked to put food colouring in my eyes, this was worse. My train was delayed pulling in to Kings Cross and I was in such a rush I didn’t have a chance to grab something to eat, I just raced straight to my interview. It was all going ok and then halfway through the interview my tummy must have caught on to the fact that I was hungry and started rumbling really loudly. Well I just wanted to die, as it was so noticeable and continuous. In the end I just had to be straight with my interviewer and interrupted them mid question saying ‘ I’m ever so sorry, but I’m starving as you can probably hear.’

Buried alive                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Some of you may know that for six months I did a stint as a sales assistant at Next. I enjoyed some of it but ohhh those were mainly hellish days, the Christmas rush, the literally insane shoppers and bi polar managers…it was a learning experience! The shifts I dreaded the most were spent in the stockroom, a massive warehouse where I was expected to climb up cartoon like tall ladders to reach rails of clothing. Christmas Eve and full on clothing chaos was in progress, managers were screaming for stock, one girl was standing in the corner in tears, and I was up a ladder sweating it whilst three girls below hassled me for stock. I panicked and picked up one item too many making my fingers buckle and leaving the girls below buried in the latest range of fashion. The girls were fine about it once they untangled themselves, but I took some major stick for that incident.

Lean on me                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Unlike the flamingo I am unable to stand on one leg and look blasé about it, although it’s a skill I now wish I had mastered. It’s your average scene; I’m in town hunting for a pair of work shoes and make the mistake of leaning on the shoe display for balance whilst trying on a pair. Well Jack and Jill have nothing on me, I almost took a fall and the rack and shoes…they came tumbling after.

Wrong place, right time                                                                                                                                                                                                                The first disaster I can honestly say had nothing to do with me, but is still fairly hilarious. A group of us decided to brave Go Ape and we had our friend, the ever famous BG book it for us. I agreed to drive us all up there (I know, my friends are courageous souls being in a car with me) and surprisingly we arrived without incident. So we went to check in and start getting the gear on and found out that we had booked the Thetford Go Ape, which would have been great but we were standing in Sherwood Forest. Two places in the opposite direction and no free time slots in Sherwood. Still it was a brilliant day and the long walk around Sherwood was amazing, sadly gorgeous men in tights were absent.

Cool runnings                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sometimes I question my younger brother Aaron’s intelligence, but never more than the day he left the front door wide open allowing both our dogs to escape. With only my pyjamas on, I hot footed it out the door in pursuit; I didn’t even have shoes on (that bloody hurt as well) I managed to grab Remy before he got to the field round the back of our house, but Koda is harder to catch and had jumped down a ditch into a field of startled cows. Trying to crawl down a ditch in your pyjamas avoiding a herd of cows is no easy feat. When I finally did get Koda back with the help of reinforcements, I walked through my estate shamefaced and feeling very much exposed.

The devil wears other people’s coats                                                                                                                                                                                     Once at an interview I was invited to leave my coat in a cloakroom whilst being interviewed, the actual interview went ok but I was in no hurry to stick around once it was over, I swiftly grabbed my coat and was on my way. Half way down the staircase the receptionist was chasing me calling me back, (no unfortunately not a instant ‘you’re hired’) I had taken my interviewers coat! The worst part was their coat looked nothing like mine, as I returned to collect my actual coat the receptionist gave my interviewer a look that clearly indicated she thought I was a moron, the interviewer must have agreed because I was not called back.            

BG and Kelly at Sherwood

BG and Kelly at Sherwood                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Men only please                                                                                                                                         I was on my way down to Birmingham International for Crufts and went to change at Birmingham New Street. I had been holding myself for two hours and was desperate to use the facilities. Unable to wait any longer, I rustled through my purse praying I would have change to use the toilet (completely insane that they charge to use the bathroom but that’s a rant for another day). A rarity for me I actually found some coins and went through the barrier. I didn’t really notice it until I tried to exit the cubicle but there were urinals on the wall, and I thought to myself ‘that’s bloody strange.’  Then a group of guys walked in and I retreated back into my cubicle shrieking crap over and over in my head, I tried to wait until there was no one around but I didn’t have the time before my next train, so in the end I just braved it and walked straight out to meet the gaze of at least ten very hostile confused men, some of whom had their trousers down. I stood there for a few secs frozen with embarrassment and said the first thing that came into my head which unfortunately was ‘ I’m a transvestite’ and walked out.

Dog snatcher                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 My friends know that I am a bit animal crazy, in fact the last holiday we went on together they spent a great deal of time restraining me from feeding and stroking the stray cats and dogs around the hotel complex. This was a joint mother and daughter disaster (nice that my mother and I have something in common).  Mum and I were driving back from town and we saw a dog wandering down the street by itself, we pulled over and after a cursory glance around put the dog in the back of our car intending to take it to the vets. Then an angry man breathing heavily and running up to our car asked us what the hell we were doing stealing his dog. In our defence, the dog was miles away from its owner! How were we to know? It was worse than the time we tried to rescue the swan and herd it out of the road using coats. (We have strange mother daughter bonding time).

Baby blues                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 When my step mother was pregnant with my baby sister I accompanied her to quite a few doctors’ appointments and classes (my dad despite having four children still claims he doesn’t like kids and never really got involved in that kind of stuff). One appointment I was waiting for Lisa to come out and was sitting in the waiting room reading a magazine, when the receptionist asked me what time my appointment was. Shaking my head I smiled and replied that I was waiting, she looked sympathetically at me and said ‘you don’t need to be shy love we get a lot of young single mothers here.’  Kill me now.

Fuel for thought                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Another car related incident. I still consider myself new to driving, but a month or so after passing my test I was still struggling to remember which side of the car my fuel cap was on. One particular time I spent a good twenty minutes reversing and positioning the car as close to the pump as possible, much to the amusement of the surrounding people. When I finally did get out of the car I discovered the cap was on the other side…cue laughter. Not learning from that incident that you should pay attention when at the gas station, the following month I went up to the till and tried to pay another person’s bill, until the person in question timidly asserted that actually they were pump number 3.

A day at the spa                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My mum got a great plug in foot spa one year for Christmas and after a long day at work I felt I needed a bit of TLC, so dragging it out of the box I poured in the water and bubble bath, got it going and then went to put on a face pack. By the time I got back it was far too late, water and bubble bath were everywhere, my bedroom carpet was soaked and foamy, but smelt pleasantly of mangos (the bubble bath). We were all a bit worried the floorboards beneath the carpet would go bad, and for days the carpet was really damp. However I can still stand on my bedroom floor without falling through the ceiling, so my mum really didn’t have to shriek like a banshee for over half an hour.

Private property                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Occasionally I tend to fancy myself a bit of an explorer, and when I moved up to the countryside with my mum and brother I use to go off looking for adventures. It’s also no secret that I occasionally tend to revert to a childlike state, and one day after a revert back to childhood I did some exploring down a place called the wash. It’s a big open field with lots of little side tracks and mini forests, great for a wonder round. So I’m walking down a bit I’ve never been before, and I see this pretty bridge with flowers and a gate over a separating water ditch. I go over and start looking around and there’s a little wishing well and seat. I began walking a little bit further and find myself face to face with a guy staring at me out of his patio door windows. Yes…I had trespassed into someone’s extensive garden (damn rich people) and they were not best pleased. It took me some time to explain that I was not trying to break in and rob them; I merely mistook his garden as part of the wash. He just looked at me suspiciously and said he had never had this problem before. A few weeks later, I walked past the bridge again and saw a freshly hung sign with large letters stating ‘private property.’ My handiwork. 🙂

Keep it down please                                                                                                                                                                                                                         I have been trying to be a very good girl recently and make it the gym as often as my work load allows. Apart from the obvious health benefits, it is great for a bit of de-stressing and I often come home feeling shattered but a bit healthier. My gym has tiny television screens attached to most of the machines and whilst everyone else is being sensible and watching the news at 6pm whilst working out, I’m watching The Simpsons. Forgetting where I was one day, I watching The Simpsons on the treadmill and I burst out laughing really loudly (I love The Simpsons, still has me laughing) startling the guy next to me into almost falling over.

So these are just some of the moments that spring to mind. I’ve left out a lot I guess as this post is long enough already, but believe me there have been plenty of others, like the time I left dinner in the oven forgot about it and the kitchen filled with noxious smelling smoke. Or the time I spoke to that stranger on the train and he began following me through the station. And then there was the time I took three faulty phones back to the Carphone Warehouse in three consecutive days, almost driving the sales guy over the edge.

This post shows that I can be a bit of a disaster and although I know this puts people off me and means I spend a great deal of time apologising, as well as has me occasionally wishing I was a bit more normal and put together like my girlfriends…my life is always interesting.

I have unusual experiences, I can always laugh about these incidents later and I stay true to the kind of person I am.

If my life has taught me anything so far, it’s that there are some of us who don’t always get it right, but have the knack of enjoying getting it wrong.

I suppose I’m that person 🙂

By the time I’m 24….the quarter life crisis continues!

10 Apr

Just over 1 year ago I did a blog post about turning the dreaded 22, that scary time in life when you begin creeping into your middle twenties.

When drinking all night and being up the next day for work is not only impossible but a death sentence, when all nighters mean a heavy movie and pizza session instead of Redbull and out till dawn, and your taste in music is now considered retro by your younger siblings. (Hey Steps is cool whatever generation you come from?!)

To placate the brewing ‘quarter life crisis’ I decided to do a list on my blog of ten things I wanted to achieve by the time I turned 23, and to see how far I could get in a year…well a hell of a lot happened in that year and my blog was sadly neglected, then a few days ago I hit 23 and my friends took me on a wonderful surprise night out. It was then that my good friend Beth reminded me that I promised to do a recap blog post and I hadn’t delivered the goods.

Since I quit blogging quite a few people have approached me and said they missed my posts, which was really sweet and flattering…so for Beth, the bloggers and because I am just generally a complete mental case getting myself into the most random trouble and impossible situations, the blog is back up, I’m back in town, and the perfect place to start seems to be the birthday recap post.

Me on my birthday (I'm the girl by the way lol)

Me on my birthday (I’m the girl by the way lol)

(You seriously don’t know how close you came to not even reading this; do you know how many attempts it took me to remember my password? I almost chucked my computer out the window!)

So how much of my list did I manage to accomplish?

1. Pass my driving test

You can check number one right off the list! I passed my driving test first time last September and got my own car in October (my credit card never knew what hit it!) Yes, the self-confessed driving disaster on the roads, terrifying isn’t it! I still stolidly maintain that it was a fluke, or my examiner was a lesbian and passed me in the hope of sexual favours or something.

It certainly hasn’t been all driving along with the window open bopping along to ‘Uptown Girl’ at volume, in true Steph Bristow fashion I’m not happy until I get myself into some form of trouble, and driving has been no different.

I was driving to a friend’s flat following my SatNav and made a tiny error in judgement, which unfortunately led to me driving down the wrong side of a dual carriageway into oncoming traffic, luckily for me I’m a quick thinker (I mean you’d have to be if you’ve been in as many disasters as I have) and I targeted my car to a small patch of pavement, narrowly avoiding a head on collision. However putting my hazard lights and headlights on at the same time was a bit of a mistake on my part and so my battery went flat. I was then reported to the police (try talking yourself out of that one) and luckily for me they were very nice about it, jump started my car, stopped traffic and turned me the right way round. The real low point of the evening was when they passed me on the other side of the road after getting my car going, only to see it break down again and then have to stop traffic a second time to jump start my car. How am I still alive? Good question…I’ll get back to you on that one.

2. Be in employment, working towards a career

Another one I can tick off my list, last July I was offered a job as a copywriter for a marketing agency, they were a lovely bunch of people but the job wasn’t quite right for me for various reasons, then just as depression started to creep back my old favourite adage kicked in (when it rains it pours for those who don’t know) and I was offered another job at a solicitors. I now work in marketing and business development. I’ve got to say my job keeps me very busy, but I’m lucky because my job has also given me the opportunity to meet some truly hilarious and fantastic people who make every day fun.

Who would have thought that the year of hell working part-time at Next, and attending crazy job interviews asking me to put food colouring in my eyes would lead to this? I certainly couldn’t have predicted it!

3. Visit a Karaoke bar and sing Ne-Yo’s ‘Never knew I needed’

Regrettably this is something I haven’t managed, I’m way too chicken to go to a karaoke bar by myself and I still remain unable to get friends to go with me. Still I have done a lot of singing in the shower, and in one unusual occasion I did burst into song as I walked through a car park, attracting quite a few wary stares from passers-by…does that count?

4. Have another amazing holiday with my friends

Another tick for me! This May I am going to Crete with my very lovely friends and my god I’m looking forward to it! I don’t know about you but the weather in the UK is a total drag and I’m way overdue to seek warmer climates. We even managed to drag reluctant traveller Tom on holiday with us this year, it will be the first time he has left the UK, so if you hear screaming echoing on the wind towards the end of May don’t worry, that will be Tom saying goodbye to England for a week.

5. Have my own house/flat/space

I would give my right arm or any other body appendage you care to claim for this to be true, however in case you hadn’t heard the recession, combined with insane mortgage deposit requirements and greedy landlords capitalising on generation rent, makes for life in the parental home. I figure if I’m still living with my mother by the time I’m 40 I’ll have a problem…mainly because I’ll either be dead from shame or she will have killed me.

6. Visit in the UK

I have and haven’t achieved number 6…while I have visited some places in the UK, I haven’t visited the places I listed last year. I am a bit gutted I never did make it to Tresco Abbey Gardens (maybe next year) but my faithful girlfriends have promised that the Harry Potter Studio is on the cards for this year, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

7. Learn to swim

Ok so I have to be incredibly honest here and own up to the fact that if you do chuck me into a lake/the sea/a deep puddle I will drown. I never did learn to swim, I really hoped that this would be the one point I would manage to achieve but no such luck, however I still do dream of the day when I can at least float in the water in a direction of my choosing.

8. Be Dora the explorer

Another tick on the quarter life crisis check-list, this year  I’ve done a lot of exploring off the beaten track (got into a bit of trouble for some exploring, I mistook someone’s back garden for a kind of small forest/nature/pond thing and was caught throwing coins into their private well, they were not happy) I’ve been to random festivals, visited free art exhibitions and seen street theatre,  just call me Dora please.

9. Shop till I drop

Well we all knew this was going to be the one point I definitely achieved didn’t we, in fact I’ve probably overdone this aim. I went to the Bullring twice and to Westfield’s, as well as popped down to Bond Street when cheap train tickets were going. The fact that a Primark has just opened where I live also probably contributes to why I spend a great deal of my life shopping. Still a girl has to keep the economy going right?

10. Spend some time

I don’t know how well I’ve achieved this point but I’ve certainly done my best to try to spend time with friends and family. I suppose I could always do more, but I like to think I’ve made the effort, and that I will continue to maintain relationships with the important people in my life long into the future.

So there we are, first blog post of 2013 (yes I know I am a blogging disgrace) and 6 out of 10 isn’t bad on the quarter life crisis check list! So guys for those of you who have been reading my blog and have been patient through the months of neglect thank you, hopefully I will have more for you soon. 🙂

The First Day

23 Oct

I am what you would call a born worrier, I will literally worry about everything, what you wouldn’t even waste time thinking on, I’ve already lost sleep over, tormented myself with, and driven myself to the brink of insanity for. My mind just doesn’t shut off, even when I’m asleep my mind carries on whirring away, I’m the Ipod without the off switch. I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights in the past over various events in my life, but nothing keeps me awake more and sends me into a spiral of panic, than the horrific ‘first day.’

I am not ashamed to admit that I hate ‘first days’ and unfortunately in life everyone must experience their fair share of  them. From my first day at a new school, to work experience, university, or even the first night out with a group of new people, I will worry. This might surprise those who know me, because I will happily walk into a room of strangers and strike up a conversation, I laugh the loudest and the last thing people accuse me of is being shy. But its the fear of the unknown that makes me worry, and not just me, I’d like to think that everyone feels at least a little bit sick with nerves when confronted with a ‘first day.’

Sad to leave such nice people

As some of you may know I left a job recently, I loved my colleagues and the atmosphere of the office, but the role wasn’t quite right for me, I was offered another job out of the blue by a different company that had interviewed me months before, and I agonised over whether to take it or not, I was plagued with doubts. ‘What if my new colleagues are not as nice, and we don’t get on?’ ‘What if I don’t feel right within this company?’ ‘What if I make a huge mistake and regret leaving my current job? If this new role isn’t right either?’ After days of driving myself crazy, I decided to take a risk and jump into the unknown, I accepted the new opportunity that had presented itself. However even after I had handed in my resignation it still didn’t seem real that I was leaving. It wasn’t till my last day that reality sunk in, after a nice drink at the pub, and a sad goodbye I drove away with a lovely card my colleagues had given me, and rising nerves at the prospect of starting all over again somewhere new.

My lovely leaving card

The night before I didn’t sleep, getting up in the morning I felt like a wreck and knew without even confronting a mirror that I looked one as well. In my head I had been going over and over every scenario, every terrible possibility that could happen on my first day. Arriving over an hour early, I used the time unproductively hyping myself up in the car, until finally it got to the time when I had no choice but to swallow my nerves and walk into the office. Of course as usual, things are rarely as bad as you imagine them to be.  (Is it our nature to occasionally fear new things? So that if the worse does occur we are prepared to handle it? Perhaps its just my nature.) After a friendly greeting, I was given a tour around the building, which with over three floors is bigger than I’m use to, and after making a mental note of where the free coffee and hot chocolate machine resided, I was led to my desk.

As I mentioned before, I have had to go through a lot of ‘first days’ at various companies because of work experience and part-time jobs ect, and I have had good experiences and downright awful ones. Sitting down at my new desk, cautiously peeking at my new co-workers, I tried to work out what category this day was going to fall into. I watched and felt my stomach drop, they all looked so put together, they all seemed to know exactly what they were doing, and they all seemed really close. How on earth was someone like me meant to infiltrate this tight-knit community of people? With a lot of them being related to each other!? Telling myself to give it a chance before I cast judgement, I listened to the IT guy as he explained how my computer worked, and then laughed inwardly as it malfunctioned within minutes of me using it, leaving him muttering  ‘I just don’t understand it!’ (Looks like another piece of technology bites the dust, nothing matches up to the tech curse that surrounds me, keep all your phones at a five-mile radius, my friends will tell you that) However, an hour and forty minutes later Craig (the IT guy) had it under control and I had made a friend.

By the time the clock hit five I had absorbed a hell of a lot of information, and was totally daunted by how much more I would have to fit into my head, if my first day taught me anything, it’s that I have plenty to learn. Still everyone was friendly and supportive towards me, and I felt a sense of great relief that I had survived, and made it to the end of the day without being asked to leave and never return.

This time my fear of the unknown had been unfounded, although I can’t deny that four days in to my new job, I still feel a bit nervous going into work.

Fear is part of all our lives, we learn from it and most of the time it keeps us safe, but it can also be counter productive when it stops us from doing things, going places or trying out new paths in life. I experienced fear when leaving my old role and starting a new one, but I didn’t let that fear stop me from trying out this position in an unfamiliar field. I am that strange walking contradiction, half insecurity and half confidence, rarely does my mind, heart and body align in perfect unity on a decision or choice. Which was certainly the case this time, whether it was the right or wrong choice is still yet to be decided.

Still a friend gave me a fantastic pep talk that really helped me, and so for anyone else suffering with a case of the jitters, that’s preventing them from taking the plunge on a decision, or trying something new, I will leave you with this….

‘I have no regrets. Every choice I have made has put me on a new path. Sometimes that path hasn’t been easy but I’ve always learned something, and for that, I cannot possibly regret.’

Viva Italia

27 Sep

My Nan and I have been bonding over food since I was a child, mainly because my mum can’t cook anything that doesn’t come with a microwaveable option, and I’m just as bad, if not worse. (Ok…honesty time…I am worse.) Nan and I have bonded over doughnuts, Christmas dinners, cakes, and that weird two weeks when I ate nothing but peanut butter.

Good looking and a fantastic chef 🙂 He’s actually got a pretty good sense of humour as well

So it only made sense that we should go spend some bonding time at the Italian Festival in Peterborough, and we were joined by our wonderful Italian hairdresser and his family, in celebrating the country that has given people all over the world pleasure and enjoyment. As if the thought of yummy free Italian food on offer wasn’t enough to draw me there, then the lure of lots of hot Italian men wandering around, including Gino de’ Campo, the Italian sex god of the kitchen, was certainly enough.

Some of the stalls

It wasn’t just about the food though, the festival was about celebrating all the wonderful aspects of the fascinating Italian culture, that has had many a person entranced by these life loving Italians. I was very impressed by the musicians and vocalists performing the famous Italian operas, and honouring Italian recording artists, a man and wife performing duo did a rendition of one of my favourite songs ‘The Prayer’ by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli, so it was dinner and a show.

Preforming ‘The Prayer’ I thought they were fantastic!

Walking round the stalls I stuck out like a sore thumb, my casper like complexion and shocking red hair amongst a crowd of swarthy dark Italians, I had no idea how big the Italian community in Peterborough was, they were open and friendly, welcoming me to chat and laugh with them. There are stereotypes for every culture, the French are meant to be sophisticated and romantic, the Chinese, honourable and lovers of tradition and heritage, we Brits are meant to have a stiff upper lip and be guarded with our emotions. Of course rarely do we ever live up to these ridiculous and outdated stereotypes. But at the festival I could see that the Italians live up to all the best aspects of their stereotype, they are loud and lively, they do embrace life with an enthusiasm and love that very few people manage, always seeming to make the most of a moment and enjoy that moment to its fullest, without worrying about the future.

The Italian community is surprisingly big in my area

🙂

So from my first visit to the Italian festival (despite the fact that apparently its been going for years…and I have lived here for years) I have tried to take away a few of the Italian ideals about life. To live for the moment, to enjoy what’s happening rather than always looking for what will happen next, and to embrace life (whatever life I happen to be given) with enthusiasm and without trepidation, because its like my very very attractive Italian hairdresser is always telling me…you only get the one. Viva Italia!

This guy gave out the most amazing different types of fudge 🙂

A stranger is probably a cool person you’ve not met yet…or a crazed lunatic…whichever

22 Aug

People who know me and have been out with me in public (the list of people doing that is getting smaller and smaller…) will know that I have an uncanny habit of talking to strangers. Before you get the complete wrong idea, I would like to make it clear that I don’t just go up to people passing me in the street, and start holding a long conversation (despite what my friends may say.) I’m talking about people in the queue at the checkout and serving on tills, people on buses and trains, at the bank, and in the cinema…and most recently in my case, the New Look changing room. I’m a big believer in communication, and in general being friendly to everyone, stranger or friend alike.

When I was younger, I was always told ‘never talk to strangers’ its one of the cardinal rules you learn as a child, and I find myself now saying the exact same thing to my seven-year old brother and three-year old sister, but the truth is I don’t practise what I preach, and with the exception of vulnerable little children aside, I think you should talk to strangers. Because the truth is you never know who you might meet, what you might learn from them, and even if that casual conversation, will later become a close and rewarding friendship. I think that sometimes we are all made a little paranoid and afraid of the world and the people in it, and its true there are a lot of things, places and people we should be careful of, it’s certainly correct to say that not everyone is as open, friendly and harmless as they appear to be. But at the same time, this shouldn’t stop us from sharing a joke in a coffee shop, or casually chatting away to someone you bump into in the street, we should be open to talking to new people, and not closing ourselves off because we don’t know them, and are unlikely to meet again.

Not all strangers are like these lunatics!

Some of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had have been with strangers, for example, when I finished work (I was at Next at the time) whilst waiting for a bus, an older woman asked me where to wait for the 33, after that we got chatting, first about cooking, and then about her sons recent divorce, and his difficult ex-wife. I know that some people find it easier to open up to a stranger who knows nothing about them, and therefore has no preconceptions about whatever they might say, and she was one of those people.

As I said at the start of this post, I recently had a lovely conversation with a girl in the New Look changing room, I was shopping for a dress for my granddad’s funeral (all my clothes are inappropriately bright) and I went out of my cubicle to check my appearance in the less flattering (and infinitely more terrifying) big mirror, and at that moment another girl did exactly the same. So I was twirling, making sure that the dress was flattering enough to be worn in public, and we caught each others eye. I laughed and she laughed, I asked for an opinion and it went from there, she was dress shopping for a party, in which a guy she was crazy about was also attending, and she was hoping to make an impression on. We spent forty minutes chatting about guys, and I ended up helping her pick the perfect dress to catch Mr cute guy’s attention, and so what was always going to be a depressing shopping outing for me, was transformed into something quite different and enjoyable by a stranger.

Mexico was a beautiful place, I’d love to go back and explore more of it and get to know more of the people who live there

Of course this isn’t always the case, I have also had people approach me that didn’t seem quite the full ticket, or seemed interested in more than just a casual conversation, but this hasn’t put me off striking up random discussions and chats. With all the people who fill the world, it seems silly to stick to contact with the few people we already know. There are so many people which live interesting lives different from our own, and another way of exploring the world, is to explore all the different people who are a part of it, and the way they exist. When I visited Mexico, I struck up a friendship with a waiter, when I went to dine alone one evening in the hotel restaurant,whose name also began with ‘Steph,’ he showed me pictures of his family and where he lived. By talking to him, I got to see part of Mexico that was beyond the hotel, I also got to know the entertainment staff, a staff member called Adrian taught me how to dance, and introduced me to authentic Mexican music. Had I kept to myself, I would have missed out on some fun and fascinating experiences.

Adrian and my younger brother Josh

So I encourage you all, get out there and if you see an opportunity don’t let it pass you by, talk to a stranger! You never know what you might discover, and the friend you might meet.

In the pink

7 Aug

In my ‘by the time I’m twenty three’ post, I made a list of a few of the things I wanted to achieve and do before I got to the depressing mid twenties stage of my life, I was going to wait till we got closer to April to write a recap post, and I wont write it now, as its only been four months! So I haven’t quite had enough time to do all the things on my list, although I am pleased to say that at least I have a few things on my list ticked off already! Which leads me to the whole point of this post! I am finally in the pink at last! Yes….road users beware…I took my driving test on the 24th of July, and much to the surprise of myself (and a little bit insultingly…my friends and family) I managed to pass first time!

Excuse the terrible quality of the picture, I have a horrific camera! But you get the point! In the pink at last!

I didn’t think I would be as nervous as I was, particularly because I had already resigned myself to paying out for second, third and fourth tests, unless they got rid of roundabouts and outlawed parallel parking, but it seemed fate was in my favour, drivers on the roundabouts behaved, and as luck would have it, I got the reverse around the left corner manoeuvre, which happens to be my speciality. (My only speciality!)

I was sweating it, quite literally, as there happened to be a heat wave sweeping across the UK at the time, and in the hour lesson before my test, my nerves fell to pieces, not having been helped by my family, whose advice as I left was ‘don’t worry about failing, everyone fails first time, Peterborough has a terrible pass rate, you’ll just have to take it again that’s all.’ With that helpful titbit firmly stored away in my mind for later reference, no wonder I was freaking out. Parking the car, Bonita (my instructor) and I stepped into the test centre, and I felt everyone’s eyes upon me, and I instantly regretted my wardrobe choice of a maxi dress and flip-flops, when everyone else was clearly more prepared than I was, and dressed in sensible clothes and driving shoes. Then my examiner called out my name, and suddenly I felt like a child back at school again. My examiner took me to the car and asked me two questions about the cars mechanics…my mind went completely blank…panic set in, she was staring at me like I was meant to know these things…well suffice to say that was two minors before I had even left the test centre, and that I will never be one of those women who you will find changing her own tire on the side of the motorway. Chasing a runaway tire down the motorway…maybe.

Despite my terrible start, the test was going quite well…then I came to my old nemesis, the large four lane roundabout by Hampton (if you live in the same area…you’ll know) the amount of times I have done something to make Bonita shriek on that roundabout, doesn’t even stand counting! And right on cue…in a panic to get off the bleeding thing as quick as possible…I stalled. Babbling apologies like an idiot I quickly restarted, and it was at that point I was convinced I had failed my test.

We pulled back into the test centre, and I steeled myself to hear the ‘you’ve failed’ and ‘seriously mate you’d be better off investing in a bus pass’ speech from my examiner, but to my surprise I got a ‘congratulations’ instead. I gave a very high-pitched squeal, probably confirming my examiners impression of me being a complete raving lunatic, and that was it! All those months of endless lessons, and it was all summed up in one quick moment!

Then last Friday I finally got my pink license, hideous photograph and all! (What possessed me to use my passport photo when I applied for my provisional license, I will never know!)

Of course a big thank you to my friends, who were so sweet sending me good luck and good wishes, and were the first to congratulate me, where would I be without you all!

So I now join my friends in the pink license club! Finally! Now I just need to start the arduous task of actually saving for a car and insurance. So fingers crossed for a lottery win, or it could be after Christmas before I make it on to the road. (So some good news for fellow drivers at least lol)

Stand up: I don’t want to be a bystander

28 Jul

I know everyone has practically done the subject of bullying to death, blogged about it, reported on it, written songs about it, we even have an anti bullying month! But there’s a good reason for it, and I’m sad to say that despite every tool we have available to counter act bullying, I’ve seen first hand recently that it’s still not enough.

The other day I was walking around town enjoying a day off, and the fact that I had just passed my driving test, desperately trying to locate some sun tan lotion to smother myself in, so I don’t toast in the current heat wave sweeping across Britain. Luckily for me, Boots is having a massive sale on sun tan lotion, so when I next go out into the daylight, there will be a factor 50 barrier between my pale skin and the suns death rays. I decided to take a break in my favourite (expensive) hangout Costa’s, and was enjoying a frapaccino, chatting away to cute Costa barista guy, when I noticed the table next to me full of school kids, (they’re out in force now its the holidays) laughing and making a few childish comments at another girl passing their table. I’m ashamed to say that I ignored it, did nothing, and carried on chatting away, after all ‘they were just kids mucking around’ I thought to myself ‘that’s what kids do.’ So I left Costa’s (can’t spend all my days hanging around coffee shops unfortunately) and later saw a few of the same kids walking behind the girl from the coffee shop, to the outside eye they were just laughing noisily in a big group, it was only because I had been in the coffee shop earlier, that I knew they were laughing at her, then one of them tripped her. I know as well as anyone that kids can be physical in their playfulness sometimes, but this was bullying, and I know bullying, because for two very small unpleasant periods in my life…I was bullied.

I decided I wasn’t having this, I walked over to the group and told them in no uncertain terms to bugger off, I’m pretty small for my age so I got a mouthful until they could tell I wasn’t screwing around, they left muttering and still pretty mouthy, but at least they left, and they didn’t leave smiling. I don’t tend to get involved in the altercations of strangers, because it can only exacerbate the situation, but I remembered when I use to walk home from school and boys (who didn’t even know me and weren’t in my year) on bikes would ride around me, screaming obscenities and pulling my hair, I remembered how everyone else who was walking by at the time did nothing, could see I was upset and outnumbered, and just let it happen, I had never felt so alone in my entire life. It didn’t go on long, on the third occasion when they got close enough to grab my hair, I lost my temper, pushed them off their bikes and gave them a mouthful. It never happened again.

So I asked her if she was ok, she was slightly tearful and more embarrassed I think than anything, I asked all the right questions, has she told her parents, a teacher? How long had it been going on? She was reluctant to tell me anything, but we chatted a little, and instead of telling her to do all the typical things we are supposed to tell someone in that situation, I told her the one thing I wish I had realised a lot sooner. That you don’t have to take it, that you don’t deserve it, and the minute you make that decision that this won’t be happening to you again and fight back, is the minute bullying ends. I ended up giving her my email address in case she ever wanted to talk some more or needed help, and I said goodbye to a sweet, shy young girl, who obviously had damaged self-confidence.

With all the celebrity anti bullying campaigns, bullying awareness and anti bullying procedures schools have in place, it’s almost unthinkable that it still continues. That with all the support and help and information in place, kids are still hanging themselves, suffering in silence, and accepting this treatment. So why do people bully? I’ve never understood it myself, I’ve never bought into the whole ‘I had a bad childhood, that’s why I bullied’ crap. My childhood wasn’t ideal, but I didn’t go around tormenting other children and neither did my brother Aaron. Why are some children victims? Well…there is no valid reason why anyone should be a bully, or a victim. I was lucky, my bullying experience was short-lived and didn’t leave a mark on me, I had lots of friends and was well liked by most of my year, but I have a cousin who was bullied for years, and with every anti bullying procedure her school had, nothing was achieved except her having to move schools to escape her tormentors. My youngest brother at only seven, has also experienced bullying, its worrying to think my bright bubbly three-year old sister, who will soon be going off to school might become some cowards next victim. I looked at that girl from the coffee shop and saw myself, my cousin, my youngest brother and my sister.

Tell someone, fight back, take action. No one deserves bullying or should accept it

Will we ever beat bullying? I’d love to say yes more than anything, but probably not, some people just seem to have an endless facility for unnecessary cruelty, these are the people who make the world a worse place to live in. We may not be able to able to stop all of these people, but we can counter act by doing good things, by making an effort to go out of our way to help and support others, even strangers. A kind word, a smile, the smallest thing can make a difference. Without wanting to sound preachy, I don’t want to accept the world the way that it is, where a nice girl can’t enjoy the best years of her life, because her peers have chosen to torture her for no reason.

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