Tag Archives: opinion

Apparently…I have abs!?

30 Oct

Apologies for this very long overdue post, as usual I have my often tried and tested pathetic excuse at the ready…I have been very very busy.

In all fairness I have genuinely been very busy. I hold down a full time job that isn’t exactly a nine to five deal, I have a post as the company social and charity officer with my lovely Lou supporting fundraising and social events, and I’ve been planning a charity auction and Christmas party for like one hundred and fifty people.

On top of this I also try to enjoy a bit of a life as well on the sly, this involves visiting my family and hanging out with my friends, making my annual trips to the cinema, doing my midnight walks and going shopping. (Hardly a chore but hey it still all requires time).

Spend a week with me and it’s easy to see why amongst the hectic pace of my life, there is a pile of books in the corner of my room that are waiting to be alphabetised and placed on my overflowing bookshelf. Why the candle that kind of exploded still hasn’t quite been dealt with yet, why I still haven’t found the mysterious absent partner to my favourite sock, and why despite knowing that the wiper blades and the electrics in my car have been causing some genuine concern to both me and other motorists, I still haven’t had them fixed.

Look at my to do lists at both work and home, and they are populated with tasks that range from the ludicrous and small, to the large and random. For example, at the moment my list at home has tasks ranging from ‘move that spider in the corner to outside’ (it’s more likely to be plural now…I have a dodgy feeling it may have nested or something…) to visit ‘Tresco Abbey Island’ and ‘bleed radiator.’

I often joke with my boss (who luckily seems to share my cavalier attitude towards life) that we currently function in a state of barely organised chaos, we both laugh…I am deadly serious. 🙂

Mind you, this week I finally got one thing off my to do list that has been on there for over three months, ‘get back in to the gym and attend bootcamp with Becca.’

I wouldn’t ever say that the sporty streak runs through my veins. My cousin is a silver medallist European champion gymnast, with more medals and titles under her belt than letters in her name. My dad is an ex body builder/copper who has a professional home gym in his renovated garage, and my brother despite his twenty a day fag habit, is still fairly fit from his manual job and football training.

I have never been, and in all honesty am never likely to be a fitness fanatic. At school the ever famous BG and I were notorious, and would take it in turns to come up with inventive excuses as to why we had to be excused from P.E. that week. (They slowly became more and more outlandish).

Since then however I’ve grown up a bit. By the time A- levels went by and university came along, I began flirting with fitness.

My flirtation with fitness has been an on and off love affair from the beginning. When I first joined the gym I was so self-conscious I could have died. The girls treated it like an opportunity to model spandex based sportswear, and there was not a chance in hell I was ever going down that route. My faded baggy t-shirts and paint splattered jogging bottoms certainly made me stick out like a sore thumb, but they were staying.

At one point I was down the gym three to four times a week and I was fairly pleased with myself. I would never look like the girls I use to aspire to, but I was lifting weights I hadn’t been able to and I was working out harder and longer than I ever could before, and because the gym was wearing me out physically, my usual bouts of insomnia were less frequent.

Anyway, life happened, unemployment happened, crappy part time jobs and volunteering happened, no money happened, living between houses out of a suitcase and a bunch of other stuff happened in between.

By the time I had sorted out a proper job and some life stability, I had completely lost touch with the gym, and my level of fitness had decreased to the point where even I couldn’t even recognise it, as for the insomnia, it was worse than ever.

I started going walking for an hour every day after work but it still wasn’t enough to de-stress, feel fitter and control the insomnia.

Later on in the year Becca joined Taylor Rose and had enrolled in what sounded like some sort of military fitness conscription, and knowing that I wanted to get a bit fitter, encouraged me to join her. Now those of you who know me, will get that I always have a to do list a mile long and I barely manage to keep on top of it, which is why ‘get back into the gym’ had never really materialised even after months of trying.

Still, Becca kept gently (I use that term loosely people, very loosely :)) encouraging me to come along to bootcamp and so finally after a month of reminders every day, I decided it was quite literally now or never. (I am actually very grateful that she did, so cheers mate).

At the time, making the commitment to attend seemed so far away and as a ‘here and now’ kind of girl, it never really occurred to me that eventually it would be Wednesday, and I would have to attend.

I spent most of the day terrified; surely classes like this weren’t made for people like me? Just the word bootcamp sounded so intimidating. I had visions of a how Steph Bristow visit to bootcamp would most likely go…a man dressed in khaki yelling directly in my face ‘drop and give me twenty’ whilst I got on the floor, handed over my purse and put my hands over my head crying silently. It didn’t help that when I casually commented to my mum where I was off to that evening, she replied ‘are you sure?’

Would I actually be able to even participate in this class? At least when I worked out in the past I set my own pace (even if that jerk rowing next to me always did make it a competition).

However as I continually seem to find in life, what I imagine is rarely reality.  (An example would be when I imagined electric blue eye shadow looked good, the reality was somewhat different).

So Wednesday evening…

Becca and I arrived at the gym and after my third attempt to make it through the pod, (something everyone else seems to manage first time by the way) we made our way upstairs and I was introduced to the regulars.

It was surprising yet reassuring, that although some of the girls looked scary fit, there were others there similar to me as well as Michele and Massey, all of us instantly recognisable by that mix of terror and anticipation on our faces as to what was in store that evening.

Christian (who runs the bootcamp alongside Andy) had promised that he would go easy on me, the newcomer to this world of fitness, and after seeing him push the others I have to say he kept his word!

The truth is that I found the class challenging on every level. We did circuits of various cardio and weight exercises and although I found the weights just about manageable, by the time we were on the second round of the circuit, the cardio exercises had transformed me into something which I imagined closely resembled a highly unattractive human lobster.

At one point I leant over to a woman on the mat next to me, who reassuringly looked equally out of breath and said ‘I think I may throw up.’

Still Christian persevered with encouragement and enthusiasm for getting exercise out of me, which can only be described as admiral considering the hundreds of PE teachers who have tried and failed miserably. He ensured that I made it through the class with the knowledge that at least I had managed to do an amount of every exercise on the circuit.

I walked out feeling exhausted, clutching on to the banisters along with Massey as our legs went to pieces wobbling down the stairs. But I also felt a small sense of pride and achievement, that I had conquered my fears and taken my first step back into a world which I would usually avoid like the plague.

On the drive home, I sat in the car with a strange aching sensation in my stomach, which provided a distant reminder of my past excursions to the gym long ago, telling me I had worked hard. Becca said to me that tomorrow I would experience muscles aching I didn’t even know I had, identifying what apparently appeared to be my aching abs (I had abs…who knew?) I expected she would be right.

It won’t be easy, but I’ve agreed to go every Wednesday from now on, and considering Becca works with me…there really is no escaping it! 🙂

For anyone out there like me who has always flitted in and out of fitness I encourage you to get back into it again, and if you want details on the particular bootcamp that I attended let me know, no sergeant majors screaming at you in this one I promise!

If I, a self-confessed fitness phobic can do it then you certainly can, it’s a great deal of fun, there’s a real sense of community and you always leave feeling unusually exhausted and energised at the same time.

I fully expect to be crippled tomorrow, and have to beg my colleagues to roll my chair around the office like some demented fairground ride so I can move about, but hey…we all have to start somewhere right?

Advertisements

The Crazy Bear

18 Aug

I know I haven’t posted in a while and I am afraid the only deplorable defence I have to offer, is that I have been incredibly busy recently.

Its rare that I have a social life that matches the intensity of work, but currently, my life is divided between working my butt off five days a week, and using the weekend to see my favourite people 🙂 Oh yeah and sleeping, I do a lot of sleeping as well.

If you work in an office with me (god help you) or happen to be friends with me (equal sympathy for those poor souls) then I will have been driving you all crazy with my excitement at the visit to the Crazy Bear in Beaconsfield, which  is truly one of the most unique and opulent restaurants/hotels I have ever visited.

Happy 30th Adam!

Happy 30th Adam!

My uncle was turning 30 and has a certain taste and flair for experiencing life’s events with style, so he invited the now countryside located branch of his family down to London with the rest to celebrate.

The weekend before the meal, my nan and I were walking around Queensgate agonising over what on earth we would wear. Doing our homework, I checked out the Crazy Bear website to get a feel for the place, and my immediate impression was that I would fit about as well in that setting as a Skittle in a bag of Malteasers.

My uncle and friends in the Moroccan waiting room

My uncle and friends in the Moroccan waiting room

Initially, nan and I had shrieked with laughter at the mirrored ceilings in the hotel rooms (kinky), at the £200 caviar on the menu as an appetiser and the clay pigeon shooting, whilst at the same time awing over the general prettiness and luxury of the place (I make us sound like the Beverly Hill Billies, but we’re not I promise).

The Crazy Bear is certainly luxurious

The Crazy Bear is certainly luxurious

However, faced with the prospect of arriving and being turned away at the door, we suddenly became motivated to do some shopping.

I settled on an Oasis dress (literally the most expensive dress I have ever bought myself, I love designer but my bank account only accommodates the more homely and down to earth of dress sense).

Pleased with the general appearance of the dress on me as I’ll ever be when standing next to my stunning and modelesque like cousins, I found a bag that matched thanks to the suggestion of Jenna, and was feeling much more prepared.

Sunday morning and I was standing in front of my mirror giving myself the last look over, making sure I hadn’t tucked my dress into my knickers or left bread or tinfoil in my hair again (yeah you laugh but it does happen) and surveying my appearance with a sense of acceptance and general satisfaction, I got in the car to pick my grandparents up.

We had only been on the road for less than half an hour before the usual Steph Bristow calamity took place. At the time it seemed fine that I had selected a wrap dress with a button securing the top half. However in hindsight, I should have taken into account the normal disaster variables that tend to surround any choices I make, however small they may be. The button securing the top half of my dress had broken, leaving me incredibly exposed. I’m insecure about my appearance at the best of times, but the idea of essentially continuously flashing 25 dinner guests, giving them a prime view of my bra, I think is a lot for any girl to handle. Particularly when half of them are family members and the other half complete and utter strangers.

Cursing a great deal in my head, and desperately trying to fool myself with the illusion that the button on my dress was still functioning, I tried everything I could to pull it together and keep it that way. But without that button, essentially it was like going out in only a skirt. However, let no one say that I am not inventive in a crisis, taking out my earrings I pinned my dress back together and after a few attempts managed to get them to hold. Moving anything other than minimally and with incredible caution was going to be dodgy…but I decided at that point in the car that it was best to address that issue later for my own sanity.

I may not have looked the part but I enjoyed the Crazy Bear all the same

I may not have looked the part but I enjoyed the Crazy Bear all the same

So we arrived, and despite the dress debacle I was still fairly excited to be there. The entrance was strangely hidden adding to the allure, mystery and exclusivity of the place. Stepping in it was like a different world, a handsome man in a suit was playing a piano, the marble floors, chandeliers and lush purple curtains elicited thrills from the snob that apparently lies inside me.

Even the bathrooms are an experience! Its mega dark and mirrored in there!

Even the bathrooms are an experience! Its mega dark and mirrored in there!

My nan and mother however had more pressing issues than just admiring the surroundings, mainly, where were the facilities. Pointed in the direction of a staircase that would have looked at home in a grand ballroom, the three of us made our way down the twisting stairs only to find ourselves met with a dead end and four mirrored walls. Thinking we were obviously in the wrong place we checked and no, apparently somewhere down the staircase were the bathrooms. Reaching our hands out against the mirrors, my nan began to feel her way to the bathroom, finding a mirror that gave way we charged into the dimly lit (and I mean it was bloody dark in there) bathroom (also covered ceiling, floor to walls in bloody mirrors) that was when nan charged straight into a man and began shrieking. In the end I found a mirrored door hidden behind a purple curtain that turned out to be the ladies ( so obvious really) and after we found the actual cubicles (again covered in mirrors) we had a great time experimenting with the falling water from the ceiling, that ran into ornamental bowls.

The Staircase

The Staircase

Laughing ourselves stupid, we joined the rest of the party and then made our way past more luxurious surroundings to the ‘library’ themed room, where our private party would be eating. It was lovely, we had our own private waiter, and the meal was marred only by the fact that I had to keep getting up to re-adjust/re-fix my dress every time I lent forward to reach my wine glass. Despite the fact that my body movements were limited from the neck down, I still managed to enjoy myself.

I have to admit that even though I have visited some luxurious hotels, restaurants, countries and places in my time, I can still occasionally feel fairly uncomfortable in expensive settings.

I think its because I always feel as if someone is going to find me lacking some required quality, tell me I’m not good enough and kick me out. I’m definitely the original ‘she must have climbed under the fence to get in’ girl.

The library was a beautiful setting

The library was a beautiful setting

But I did enjoy myself, seeing my family is always fun and the Crazy Bear is both a beautiful hotel and restaurant. I would recommend going just for the experience, it is a wondrous place 🙂 I have included the website here in case anyone does fancy doing something a bit different and would like to go. As long as you are sensible, the menu and drink aren’t too expensive either.

If you do go though, take a fashion tip from the wise…don’t wear a wrap dress you’ll only regret it…and if you do, make sure you have your sowing kit handy!

http://www.crazybeargroup.co.uk/beaconsfield/

A lavender themed dessert

A lavender themed dessert

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 🙂

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 🙂

King of the road

7 Sep

As you may know from my previous blog post ‘In the pink’ I recently (by divine intervention no doubt) passed my driving test first time, which was a wonderful and very unexpected surprise. I thought I would be drawing my old age pension before I could afford to buy and insure a car, but I have been working very hard recently to add to my car fund, which I have been saving into since I was eighteen! After some shopping around, hilarious (and in the dealership owners case) terrifying test drives, and major research into reliable first car models,insurance bands, as well as some quite fierce bartering …I finally bought a car of my very own. (Milestone moment!)

Buying a car is a pretty overwhelming experience. I felt totally bombarded by some of the car salesmen, particularly when they opened the bonnet and started pointing out different internal features (responsible and necessary for sure, but what do I look like…a mechanic? That’s how I gained two minors in my test before I had even left the test centre!) Still luckily for me my grandfather is an ex-mechanic, so I enlisted his help sharpish!

I’m a non conformist in most aspects of my life, and my first car choice was no different, in the end I went for the Suzuki Ignis 1.3 2005 plate. Compact, reliable, nice square hatchback making reversing easy, and the real miracle…cheap to insure! After all the horror stories I’ve heard from friends and family about insurance worth three times more than the car, I was pleasantly surprised when mine came to a reasonable £711 fully comprehensive, considering I’ve only just passed my test, and haven’t reached the magic age of twenty five (apparently everything is cheaper when you turn twenty five?) I thought it was a very decent price!

Every girl should have her day in Meerkovo!

Making insurance fun, and spending your money on insurance bearable!

Of course it was still hard for me to hand over my hard earned money for something as intangible as insurance, I resent the fact that I’m spending so much on something that I hopefully wont ever need! Still thousands of drivers have had to hand over larger sums than me to insure their car, so I can hardly complain! And I got my insurance from Compare the market! So I got a free toy meerkat, and an amusing few days tracking his progress and playing some games in Meerkovo!

Not a conventional choice for a first car, but I like it 🙂

Driving my new car has also been a real learning curve! I’ve never driven anything but a Vauxhall Corsa with my patient driving instructor beside me, driving a strange car by myself for the first time was terrifying, not helped by my brother, who was thrilled he’d gained another taxi driver to add to his list,and had me dropping him in town on the day I picked my car up, mysteriously figuring out how to tune the stereo to the drum and base station in under five minutes, blasting it so that I was still hearing ringing noises the next day.

My new car!

People use to say to me ‘you learn to drive after you pass your test’ multiple times, and they were completely right! I’ve been driving to work for a week now, and there’s been plenty of things occurring on the roads that weren’t in the highway code handbook, or lessons! I’ve had a few scary moments, a lot of stalling…but I’m finally getting to grips with my car, and no longer having the security of someone next to me. (Well…I’m alive and my cars undamaged, which is a start)

So yes everyone I am on the roads! God help you all! If you do happen to pass me (you’ll be overtaking me no doubt) or come across me pulling a tricky manoeuvre…be patient! Be kind! And remember what it was like when you first started driving. It will be a long time before I’m king of the road!

I find the square back makes reversing easier, and I could use all the help I can get!

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.

%d bloggers like this: