12 December 2006

Isn't she/he/it lovely...

I have just ordered my new computer. Yes, just the right time of year to be spending£700 on something...

So soon I will be zip-zip-zipping along with my dual-core processor etc (what does that mean, anyway?). Most importantly though, I'll have a spacebar again!

For Liz

My sporran stroking antics...
I know it looks rude, but it really wasn't, and was all done in the spirit of fun! And here are the sporran owners, Phil (not my Phil) and Nick.

11 December 2006

But you don't look sick...

I found this fantastic website: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/

I think that Shirl in particular will appreciate it, but it really rang home with me. Especially since at the moment I am considering (actually I've made up my mind, pretty much) moving home, because it's just getting too much. I don't think my house mate (lovely as they are) really get that its making me ill because (you guessed it), I don't LOOK ill.

Anyway, I thought it was a website worth sharing!

It must be love, love, love...

Here is the promised photo of my loved up dog (William outside cage, Darcy inside!):

And here is a close up of William's loved-up look:

And here are the silly hat brigade after ice-skating at the Tower of London yesterday (the things he does for love!):

07 December 2006

Does anyone know

the last posting dates for cards to overseas before Christmas? I have a feeling I've missed it!


I've just been chugged.

"Chugging" is what those people with clipboards do on the streets, grabbing people and asking them to donate to whatever charity. I think the term comes from Charity-Mugging. I was recently chugged by a guy from Action for Medical Research (see the link at the top of my page for the baby petition and the link to the right for more information). He put forward such a strong case that I was happy to help. I am going to change the amount I'm donating every month, as it's a little more than I can really afford, but I was happy to sign up.

However, I've just been chugged again and now I feel guilty. I was wandering down Tottenham Court Road on my break from essay (I'm now back in the library) and a guy stopped me. I said I was in a hurry (sort of, I was hungry) and he said it wouldn't take long. I pointed out that I was a student and had no money and he asked could I not afford £1.25 a week? I said that I already supported a number of charities and anyway, I can barely afford to pay my rent this month. He looked awfully sympathetic and then complimented me on my bag.

"Nice bag," says he, "Where did you get it?"
"Thanks, " says me, "Oxford Street."
"Oh, very nice. Quiksilver I see?" says my friend.
"Oh well, have a nice day..."

Leaving me to wallow in my guilt. Blatantly his point was "Nice, sort of designer (in the very loosest sense) bag, and yet she says she can't give me £1.25 a week?".
No, I can't. I have a nice bag yes, but this is so I can carry the mulitude of books to lectures/library every day, along with all my dancing stuff. I give to three charities regularly (Amnesty, National Trust, AMR and Action for ME) and I run 5k for Cancer Research every year, last year raising more than £400. I can't afford to pay my rent (well I can, just, if I don't eat for a few weeks), and it's Christmas, and my credit card bill is due. I can't afford to give any more to charity. I really can't.

So why do I feel so guilty?

28 November 2006

Love is in the air...

Not really for me, as I am in the bad books on two counts. I have encouraged (coerced is probably fairer) Phil to help out with The Wind and the Willows, on this week at the Rhoda in Woking. He has ended up helping by climbing into the gantry, sitting there for the first act and then dropping a rope down at the end. This would be ok, except that he doesn't really like small spaces (or heights), and he had to sit through a very boring tech rehearsal last night for hours, to not really achieve much. To top it all off, I've given him my cold...

No, love is in the air in my living room. The dogs returned from their holiday to Somerset yesterday, and Darcey (mummy dog) is very much in season. Mum doesn't want her to have any more puppies, just yet, so she's currently in the dog-cage in quarantine. Grace is thoroughly confused by it all - the last time someone was in the cage it was her- and William is more than slightly overprotective. God save any burgulars who try to walk past Darcey in her cage for the next week or so. If you should dare to go anywhere near her, he growls like nothing you've ever heard a cottonwool ball growl and looks all mournful and Romeo/Juliet like.

And they call it puppy love....

27 November 2006

Computer issues

I do not have a good relationship with computers, laptops especially. I got my first computer (as in one that belonged solely to me) when I went to uni for the first time. It was a secondhand PC, a huge lumpy thing that ran on Windows 98 (remember that??). It was more than slightly peculiar: it used to turn off of its own accord, would whur and hum loudly when I wasn't anywhere near it, and frequently crash, normally just after I'd finished transcribing 6 hours of Welsh data (my lecturer had a PhD in Welsh Syntax (I think), and was quite hot on using it for homework and assignments). Out it went at the end of first year, much to the thanks of my next door neighbour who had to deal with me in tears everytime it ate my homework.

Then, in second year it was decided that a laptop might be a better suggestion, if only because it would fit in the car with the cello on the trips up and down the M1 to Durham. There is a computer shop in Woking which looks incredibly dodgy, and seems to buy/sell/fixup old computers and sell them on. So of course, this would be where we decided to get my next computer... A secondhand IMB laptop was duly perchased, and for at least a few months it worked...And then, spontaneously, it went completely crazy. It forgot everything I had taught it, uninstalled all the programmes I needed for uni, and generally had a schizophrenic moment. When I phoned Dad (who can normally fix any computer problem you can name), he admitted he didn't know what I'd done to it and said that unless I had the CDs to reformat it (which of course I didn't, as I'd bought it from a dodgy shop in Woking), it would probably be worse than useless forever more.

Year three, computer three. I splashed out and bought a new laptop with some inheritance money I had received in the holidays. My lovely Dell laptop arrived with its shiney printer, and it was a joy. That is until it decided to download ServicePack 2 from Windows, at which point it promptly died. It would work but v-e-r-y-s-l-o-w-l-y and only if you were very patient could you get anything done on it. Thankfully, my dissertation was in by this point, but I still had two 5,000 word essays to write. Sigh. I got it done, switched it off and gave it up for lost until someone could look at it for me. Phil eventually looked at (bless him), reformatted it, and told me NEVER to install ServicePack 2 again. I haven't done (well, mum did, once, but will never touch the computer again!), and we got along swimmingly until just recently.

As you know, my spacebar gave up the proverbial ghost on Friday, for no real reason we could fathom. When I brought it home, P looked at it, sighed and then asked what on earth I had done to the USB ports. One of them works. The other...doesn't. Well it sort of does, but it doesn't really look like a USB port anymore. I had also bent the dongle (where do they come up with these names?) to a point that it no longer works. Hmm.

These problems were all workable-around. I borrowed a keyboard from Phil's dad, I have a hub plugged into the remaining USB port, and bought a new wireless network card. This morning I was all set up to start the essay.

One problem: whenever I typed anything, the computer minimised the screen I was working on, spoke to me in a Stephen Hawking voice, and wouldn't do anything.

Now, being a girl, I got quite upset about this. I cried, rather a lot, stamped my foot, shouted, and then set myself up on mum's computer. (I am also still not very well, I'll just remind you.) I told Phil all this and he came over at lunch time to see "what I'd done now". The funny thing is? Stephen Hawking has stopped talking to me when I type, and the internet is working again. So maybe I'm just imagining it...I've spent rather a lot of time on the Dell website, wondering if it'd be easier just to give up...

(Why can I write a blog entry really easily but it takes me about 4 hours to write 450 words of essay?)

24 November 2006



domestic goddessry

[Note: I've been writing this post in my head for sometime, but have forgotten about it til now, here, in my sick bed (oh woe...)]

I have successfully created a meal from scratch. I am indeed, a domestic wonder. I have also eaten really off quiche, which is not something I recommend. As Kate (housemate) said, its a judgement on me not making my own quiche, something that I really can't be bothered to do...

I created (as it really was a work of art, not merely a meal) japanese/chinesey rice and vegebubbles, and it was really very yummy. Courgettes, red peppers, mushrooms, etc (could have chicken too I spose) stir fried with soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce. Yum. I even tried a variation with some mango chutney, which was gorgeous!

I have sort of forgotten the point of this post now, so I am going to go back to the essay plan.

Oh big news from home: Mum has completed her bike ride in India for Women for Women International - the same one that Fern Britton has been doing this week (if you watch This Morning!), so well done Mum! xxxxx

Uh oh...

...the ineveitable has happened. My throat seems to have spontaneously filled itself up with razor blades. This is an annual (and sometimes, if I've been really good, aroung 5 times-annual (quintannual?)) occasion, where my body says "Yay! Germs!!" and I get ill. My asthma is playing silly buggers and my glands are making me look like an obese chipmunk.
The thing with ME is that your immune system is, not broken as such, more just really really welcoming. It positively invites all sorts of germs to come and habitate your body, to breed, to settle down, and to be happy. The thing about my ME is that it started with undiagnosed glandular fever, and so any sort of throat thing is welcomed back into the fold, like a long lost friend.
One of my housemates has been ill for a few days, and I have been studiously avoiding him, in an attempt to not catch it. Obviously, I've not helped myself by working "extremely hard" (heh) in the library most nights this week, but needs must.
On I must battle with the essay plan, but today, from the comfort of my own bed with a mug of hot lemon and honey...
wrap up warm!

23 November 2006

Ok, so cancel that

Yay for Liz, I've been tagged and don't have to get on with the essay (please ignore the profoundly stupid logic in this statement!)
Liz wants to know 6 things that are weird about me ("only six", says Phil (if he were here), "I can think of so many more!").
These are the rules:
1. Write six weird things about yourself.
2. Post this confession of the absurd on your blog.
3. Tag six other bloggers to do the same challenge.
4. Leave a comment on each of their blogs to inform them they have been chosen.

1. I am scared of wrists. No, I take that back. I am TERRIFIED of wrists. Just the underside of them, where the veins are. I can't look at other peoples, and I can barely look at my own. They make me feel physically sick, and I have been known to react quite violently to a purposeful showing of them "Oh you're scared of wrists? Like this...? (Shows wrists)". I can, however, touch mine, and touch Phil's, which must been there is an incredibly level of trust there. Oh I could do a whole blog about about wrists. Urgh.

2. I almost always sit on my feet or cross legged. In fact, I'm doing it now. It's possibly something to do with the dyspraxia that is rife in my family, but it also caused me great problems during "dissertation term" in Durham, as my knees would frequently seize up.

3. I am allergic to rain. No joke, it makes me itch if I get caught in a downpour and am not wearing enough clothing (i.e. shorts and t-shirt).

4. I make chewing/sucking noises in my sleep, loud enough to wake people up. I also frequently sleepwalk and talk.

5. I have a birthmark on my forehead (in the middle, quite large) which looks like a faint bruise. Apparently when I was little my parents thought I would always have to have a fringe. Now it's faded to such an extent that people don't normally notice it, unless I am tired (therefore pale) and stressed.

6. One of my eyes is green, the other is brown. It's subtle enough that people who have known me years haven't noticed it (until I've pointed it out). The green eye gets greener when I am upset/angry/hyper.

I could go on...That was worryingly easy to do!

Now I tag: Hannah, Amy, Shirl, Chux, Pete, Anna. (That list was harder to think up than the list of weird things!)

Oh help.

I'm still in the library. Obviously, I'm still blogging, so I can't expect much sympathy, but hey. I've been here for about 3 hours, having already sat in on a speech therapy session today with my friend Liz from the MSc. Really interesting, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm justified in being tired! Anyway, the essay plan is at 600 words. The essay itself is only 2500, so it seems a little ridiculous, but there we go. Anyway, I'm boooored. (small child on long car journey voice).

I am having a good old panic about getting this work done, though I can't really complain, as I am wasting some time each day reading other people's blogs (**random thought: does anyone else have a "system" or order in which they read other people's blogs? I know that I do - I tend to go to Liz's first (most likely to have written something), then click on the ones down her list that I normally read (Shirl, Anna, Shirleen, Chris, MaryB) and then from there (depending on how much time I'm wasting) I read other people's from those blogs.**), but anyway, I'm worrying about it, because I'm home all next week and the house is in CHAOS. Last time I was there the washing machine was in the living room (not because it had danced there like Liz's though...), so I'm highly unlikely to get much done. I can live at Phil's, I suppose, but don't want his parents to feel obliged to look after me. (Oh to have a flat of our own...Sigh)

And now I'm worrying about Christmas. Not that whether I'll get it done or not (I have a "feeling" that Christmas is just one of those things that happens... and Starbucks were playing Christmas music today, so it's definitely on!), but what on earth I should buy people. I know its not about presents, but I do so like buying people things. I have seriously thought about buying everyone a donkey in Ethiopia (or something), which would be novel, but I can just imagine my brothers' faces..."Thanks Clare, a donkey... Just what I always, um, wanted?". Mum is easy, her handbag is falling apart. Dad, I'm sure there's a book out there somewhere, or tickets to the theatre. Phil on the other hand??? I have no money this year (damn studentdom), but still want to buy him something nice. I bought him cufflinks last year, albeit not as nice as some of the ones you can get (when I say nice, I mean expensive). I don't know what to get him this year! Boys are rubbish to buy for aren't they? Any help, as ever, gratefully recieved.

Maybe he'd like a donkey. Or a sneezing elephant.

5pm...must get on!

What colour Green are you??

Blame Anna! I should be writing an essay plan (I am in the library!), I'm not, I'm finding out what colour green I am....

You Are Emerald Green

Deep and mysterious, it often seems like no one truly gets you.
Inside, you are very emotional and moody - though you don't let it show.
People usually have a strong reaction to you... profound love or deep hate.
But you can even get those who hate you to come around. There's something naturally harmonious about you.

Quote of the day

Just in case you don't read this today (Thursday 23rd Nov), I thought I'd post the quote of the day, as it amused me:

Quote of the Day:
I'm not a genius. I'm just a tremendous bundle of experience.
R. Buckminster Fuller

That's me... well, that's what I'm going to say the next time I'm asked!

21 November 2006

Two quizzes

for those of you that need some distraction at work/the library etc...

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.


The Inland North

The Midland

The South


The West

North Central

What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Your Vocabulary Score: A-

Congratulations on your multifarious vocabulary!
You must be quite an erudite person.

17 November 2006


Ok, I really have nothing to complain about. But, I'm going to moan anyway. If you lose any respect for me after I've had this moan then I apologise, but hey.

Its cold, it's wet and it's miserable. We still have mice, and the heating, after a brief spell of working, isn't anymore. I got SOAKED coming home from the library at 7pm, where I had been since 1pm, without seeming to get much done. Because of the impending holiday to South Africa (which I am really excited about, don't get me wrong), I have to write 3/4 essays before Christmas. I am not at home, or even at Phil's house, being fed lovely warm food, but in my house in London, freezing cold. I won't see Phil much this weekend because I am working tomorrow, and at a rehearsal all day on Sunday. I can't cook anything because my housemates have left the washing up for 4 DAYS. I am being resilient and not washing up, because it's not mine, but it's really beginning to get to me.

Rant over.

Good things - leaves are turning exciting colours, I have found a new blogging friend (Shirl), and I have one interesting essay to write, out of the 4 (effects of reading on children with cochlear implants). I am loved, fairly healthy, and there is food in the fridge (though I can't cook it). Will stop moaning now...

14 November 2006


I have been rather a lax blogger of late. I would love to say that this is because my life has suddenly become really exciting. It's not. It's because my life has suddenly become quite stressful with lots of essays. So, I have been spending rather a lot of time in the library, which doesn't really inspire my creative blogging juices.
On a rather more exciting note, or rather one that doesn't revolve around the library I have joined a choir, and am now doing three dance classes a week :) The choir is really hard work, but good fun, and we're doing a concert in a few weeks. Dancing is also great, nice to do something relaxing (ish) after a day in the library. And beginner's tap is hugely entertaining, if slightly frustrating because I can't get my feet to do what I want them to do!!!
Anyway, I'm still here, commenting and reading other people's blogs, so I just thought I'd drop you a line :)

05 November 2006


Originally uploaded by clareybella.
Photo from the Godalming Bonfire Night display. They were pretty spectacular, and I managed to get some quite good photos, which can be found on my flickr (button on the right). very enjoyable, though very cold as it was extremely boggy and I got wet feet. All the better reason to buy some funky wellies...!

03 November 2006

Quite the domestic goddess...

Or not, as the case turned out to be. Oh, and it started so well...

I went shopping this week and bought lots of things I could eat for dinner and lunch that weren't pasta. As a student, I do seem to eat an inordinate amount of the stuff and even I was beginning to get bored.

Lo and behold, I still ended up with two pasta-related dishes this week, if you count noodles. Hmm, must try harder. And last night I thought I would cook an omlette. How hard can it be? All was going well and it was looking rather nice, and then I added the eggs...

I ended up with what can only be described as "fried egg mess". Nonetheless, with a bit of Coleman's mustard, it was actually quite appetising. I considered taking a photo of it (as I was writing the blog entry in my head), but didn't want to put you off your dinner. I should, however, have taken a photo of the Thai green curry I made on Monday...mmmm.

31 October 2006

One of those days

I've had one of those days where you wake up feeling like it's going to be a productive day, only to be sadly mistaken.
I was woken up at 7.15 by the postman, who had lots of post, none of which was for me. I thought about going back to sleep (remembering that I am a student after all), but decided to get up and do some work. I managed to finish two research papers and was feeling pretty good about it all. Then had a phonecall from the landlord to say that my rent hasn't gone in yet, which is odd as it left my account on the 27th. Anyway, off I went to the bank to sort that out, which is now at least done.
I had dancing at 6pm, so I got all my stuff together about 4.15 and toddled off into town, with the thought of getting some more work done. Remembered it was a friend's birthday on Thursday so I bought her a card and sat down in the Union cafe to write it. Surprisingly no work was done. At 5.30 ish I decided I would go and get changed for jazz, as I'm normally late. Went up to the gym, got changed and went to the studio. There was a class on, which I started to watch, before realising what it was. Yes readers, you guessed it. I was an hour late. I can't even blame it on the clocks going back, as I was convinced it was at 6. I don't know why, as it's not been at 6 before now...I was thoroughly annoyed with myself, and feeling really rubbish by this point, so stropped home.
Got home, checked email and guess what... I have a meeting on Thursday with my dissertation supervisor. He wants me to be able to use a computer program I HAVE NEVER USED fairly fluently, by then. His suggestion was "read the manual". I am fairly computer literate, in that when they're working they're fine, if they break I phone Phil. But I'm rubbish at learning new programmes, I just don't understand them. What's that saying? Oh yes, you can't teach an old dog new tricks. So now I've got a computer thing to learn about by Thurs...
Phoned Phil and ended up getting really upset over nothing, had a big cry and a rant and felt better. Just been downstairs to make myself a hot chocolate and had a chat with Alex and now have a hot water bottle warming my bed, which will be nice when I eventually get into it...
ARGH. I'll get over it, I'm just being stupid. Sorry.

Oh, and whilst I don't always like the Royal Family, I do agree with Prince Charles statement in India today:
The world is in desperate need of people who have moral courage, who are not afraid of standing up for truth and fairness and civilised values.
It was said in reference to Muslimism (if that's not a word it should be), and is worth a read here.

Exciting Day in London

Yes, this weekend I had an "exciting day in London" with Phil and Steve. Steve had come up from Southampton for a mutual friend's birthday, so Phil and I decided we would take him round all the London sights... These included: The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and The Science Museum, including the Space Exhibition and the Flight exhibition, where Steve showed off his geeky side by telling me the names of all the different types of planes, and identifying their engines...
All good fun, though very tiring (for me anyway). This weekend I have exciting fireworks to look forward to... I'm such a small child!

29 October 2006

New Shooooes!

There is nothing I like more than new shoes. And I thought that after the heaviness of some of my recent posts, I should post with something vacuous, which is more like my normal self.
Here they are, in all their glory...

Aren't they gorgeous?? Sadly, if I click my heels together three times I don't quite get home, but I'm working on it...!

27 October 2006

Amnesty Campaign

I've just seen this on Newsnight (how cool am I, by the way, watching Newsnight on a Friday? I amaze myself with my coolness sometimes...). I thought, as a blogger, and as part of what might be called in geekiness terms an "online community", I should post about it. There is a link here from Amnesty International who are heading up a campaign to free imprisoned bloggers and journalists.

Just thought I'd post! xx

And another thing...

This is the third race related thought I've had in a week. Maybe I should go in to politics...

I was listening to the news last night, and they were talking about faith schools. Apparently there is some government initiative to do with opening schools of different faiths, the proviso being that they must admit 25% "non faith" (i.e. 25% must be Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, in a Muslim school). All very well, though it does seem that we are becoming a "faithless" country, in that we have no national faith, and so the debate rages about the separation of church and state (as far as I understand it, in my hazy knowledge).

However, a Muslim school in Leicester (I think) is opening up soon, following the 25% rule, but is insisting that the non-Muslim girls also wear the hijab. I think this is ridiculous, but the man who was arguing this said it was uniform policy and therefore there was nothing the government could do about it. I'm sorry, but if the sight of 25% (or even smaller as the rule only applies to girls) of the school population with their head bared is going to cause mass uproar in the classroom then we are living in a very strange country indeed.

I went to a "faith school", I suppose, in that it was a Catholic comprehensive. We didn't make non Catholics wear crucifixes, although everyone was expected to attend Mass. It was up to you if you accepted the Eucharist though, it wasn't forced upon you. I agree with believing what you want to believe, and showing your faith in the way you feel appropriate. I don't think that children should have religion forced on them, any more than I don't want to be preached to by the man on Oxford Street who tells me not to shop because Jesus loves me. I know He does, it just doesn't mean that I don't need a new pair of shoes....(I'm not being flippant, I'm just trying to make a point)

If I wanted to send my children to the best school in the area, and this school was going to force my daughters to wear the hijab I wouldn't send them there. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how I feel.

I really must do some work and stop having prejudice discussions on the internet...

25 October 2006

Is it 'cos I'm white?

This started as a comment on Elsie's blog, and then became a bit of an essay, so now it's here! Elsie's post was about people being racist in this day and age, for those who've not read it...

I've recently moved to North London, and as a white, female, middle class-ish person, I am finding it hard to get used to being a minority where I live.

Weirdly at the bus stop the other day a guy came up to me and started a polemic about "where have all the white people gone" and "Muslims don't integrate with society". He was quick to point out that he wasn't being racist, it was just a "respect" thing (when did "respect" lose it's original meaning?). The thing is he was, (as Elsie's acquaintance would put it) well, black.

Obviously, there is no problem with him mouthing off at me, as he obviously needed someone to rant at, but it lead me to the realisation that I had been singled out for my colour - he thought he'd get empathy from me. Whislt I didn't entirely emphathise, I nodded politely and breathed a sigh of relief when the bus came.

What made it worse was, because I was nodding at him, I looked like I was wholeheartedly agreeing with him (instead of nodding in a "scary person, nod and smile" kinda way) at a bus stop full of Muslims. So now I was the only white girl in the area, agreeing with a man who was basically saying "get rid of the Muslims". A very very strange situation...

24 October 2006


Originally uploaded by clareybella.
Better photo of Phil flying... The photos of me are rubbish (I mean, I look rubbish, not that the photo is rubbish), so I'm not going to post them!

Phil in action

Phil in action
Originally uploaded by clareybella.
some kite flying pictures from a couple of weekends ago... Butser Hill again, but with the new kite :)
Off to try it in London hopefully this weekend!!

18 October 2006

All creatures great and small...

I've just had my first confrontation with the small, brown and furry... Yes, in my house we have an infestation of mice. I always thought mice were sort of cute and fluffy and I would never ever want to kill them....

However, now that I am sharing my house with small furry vermin, I am less inclined to be friendly. One has just run across the kitchen floor as I walked to have a shower (we have a strange set up in our house), and I screamed like a little girl. I refrained from jumping up on a chair brandishing a broom, but, yes, I did scream like the female stereotype that I am...

Its not the mice, so much, as the "mice mess". If they were toilet trained (and had clean feet), then I'd be happy to accommodate them (so long as they didn't eat my food). But they're really, really, really, not. And we've tried humane mousetraps (cos, really, who wants to deal with a dead mouse?), but they're just not playing ball. So tomorrow the landlord is bringing over some slow acting poison...

Let's just hope that the Buddhists don't have it right, and I'm not going to end up coming back as a stagbeetle because of crimes against rodents...

17 October 2006

Fluff plague

In an attempt to distract myself from reading (there's a theme here, can you spot it?), I have, this morning, put some washing on. This was mainly so I can wear jeans that fit tomorrow, but also for something to do. I have just rescued the washing only to discover that I am being plagued by fluff.

Pink fluff.
Blue fluff.
Fluff coloured fluff.

Forget your locusts and flying frogs. The fluff is everywhere. All my clothes are covered in it, and I can't get rid of it. It all comes from buying cheap towels at Tescos, in bright colours, and then washing them. It's the washing that does it.

A fluffy plague on both our houses...


Grace again
Originally uploaded by clareybella.
Gracey looking cute and fluffy...If only she'd stay this small!

16 October 2006

Happy Harold

My weekly dose of Harold's Planet made me smile and I thought I'd share it :)
Happy Monday!

10 October 2006

from tiny eggcorns...

I read an interesting article in the Guardian magazine this weekend. It suggests that "eggcorn" is a common misnomer for "acorn" (that which an oak tree grows from). This is actually fairly logical - they are, after all, egg shaped, and large things (oak trees) grow out of them.

After a quick google/wikipedia/blogger search, I have found a number of interesting articles along the same vein, which, as a geeky linguist, appealed to me.

And it leads me to wonder...what words do you use that you think are real words, but actually aren't?...

09 October 2006

Blogger survey

In my recent perusal of blogs, mainly found through links off other people's blogs (for example, Chris's from Pete's, Liz's from Chris's), I have decided that there is a definite trend in the interests of bloggers. Of course, this is probably rubbish, and I have probably just read people's I like because they have similar interests to me, and to each other.But nonetheless, I am going to publish my theory...

"Bloggers are often people who are involved in creative works, either aspiring writers, or avid film/theatre goers, etc..."

I am doing a small survey on the amount of people involved in blogging (not just on Blogger), who are writers (in particular). I think I can name about 5 blogs of people who are aspiring authors, or indeed, involved in writing for a career already. Similarly, I know people who are actors/directors (amateur or otherwise), who blog.

I'm just nosey really, and it's more interesting than reading about neurons!

06 October 2006

Good game - Updated!

I borrowed this from Anna, and it proved a pleasing distraction from the pouring rain and the building pile of cognitive neuroscience books I have to read...

What to do:
Type the answers to the following question into Google Images and link what it comes up with... This obviously relies on Blogger letting you upload photos! Some of them a obvious, some less so...

1. Place you grew up

2. Place you live now:

3. Your own name:

4. Your grandmother's name:

5. Your favourite food:

6. Your favourite drink:

7. Your favourite song:

8. Your favourite smell:

9. Your age on your next birthday:

10. Your favourite colour:

05 October 2006

Does any one know...

why my profile has slid all the way to the bottom of my blogging page?

Granny Wars

I was just waiting in the Post Office to send a parcel to Hannah, and was witness to a moment too amusing to not blog....
There was a considerable queue at the Post Office (I don't know why this always is, can anyone shed any light on it?), and there was, in front of me, a small old lady, with a wheely trolley. In front of her were two younger women, chatting, and just genrally waiting for the queue to move. Slowly, but surely, I watched the old lady push her trolley subtly in front of the women in front of her... She was very subtle, and the women didn't notice it happening, so it was just me, left in my indignation.

In fact, she was so subtle that by the time the next number was called (which should have be the women), she was in front of them, and drawing her pension as quick as a flash! The women either didn't notice or were too gobsmacked to say anything!
It amused me at the time, mainly because she got away with it by looking like a little old lady who wouldn't hurt a fly. So, be warned, watch out for old people with trollies... Lethal in the "queue jumping stakes" !!

04 October 2006

Am I being petty?

Sorry, this is a completely self indulgent moan...

My housemates went out clubbing on Monday night, leaving a fair amount of washing up from dinner. I left it, as they said they'd do it when they got back, or the next day. I left the house yesterday (Tues, confused yet?) at 4pm. Still no movement of the mountain of dishes, but, I assumed this was due to the hungover state of housemate A and would be rectified

Now, on my way home tonight I got a message from housemate. "Sorry about the washing up, I've not been feeling well since Trash [the club]". This is a good 24 hours after I was last in the house, and not only have the dishes still not been done, but even more have been added. In fact, the sink is full of dishes, in cold minging water. So someone has filled up the bowl, and put the dishes in, but has not actually washed them. Which, frankly, is unhygenic.

I am currently sulking in my room (the house is empty, so I can't moan at anyone but you, my poor readers), quite hungry, but aware that cooking would involve washing up someone else's dishes (we're low on cooking equip in our house!). I would also like to point out that I have not cooked anything in the house since before they went out clubbing, so none of it (well, maybe a mug) is mine.

Now, I know I am probably being petty, and please feel free to tell me so. But, it really annoys me, and I've only been in the house about a week and a half.....

Rant over!

PS: Stress/ranting/sulkiness levels maybe higher than normal due to stressing about The Play. It'll all be over soon!

PPS: Ironically the picture has been borrowed from a BBC Health article about ME...

22 September 2006

Where have you been?

I've borrowed this from Pete. I thought it was cool, I hope you enjoy it too! Click on the link below, and map which countries you have visited...Looks like I've got a few to go!

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

19 September 2006

Puppies, boats and budgets

That's what my weekend was made of...

I spent Saturday at the Southampton Boat Show and Poole Windfest, with Phil and his dad. Hugh (Phil's dad) is something of a windsurfing enthusiast, and thus knows all the relevant jargon to do with boats etc. I discovered at the Windfest that you have to have a certain level of "cool" to get away with being a wind enthusiast...This is a level I certainly do not reach.

The highlight of the Southampton Boat Show was, for me, the tour round a Tall Ship. The Jubilee Sailing Trust take people, both able bodied and disabled on working tours around the world. The whole boat was kitted out so that everyone could use it, including wheelchair lifts up and down all the stairs, and raised arrows on all the handrails pointing to the bows of the ship, for visual impaired people. It was really interesting, and would be an amazing way to spend sometime, if only I didn't get terribly sea sick... The other highlight was my Pirate Goodie Bag, which Phil bought me. This included my very own eyepatch, pirate's hat and a 24" inflatable dolphin: what no pirate should be without!

On Sunday we had to say goodbye to Emily, one of the two puppies born in my living room in July. It was really sad to say goodbye to her, as she's been causing chaos in my house for about 11 weeks now. She's gone off to live with Bev (the breeder), and is sure to be utterly spoilt by Bev's son, Ethan. I'm sure she'll be very happy there, but I do miss having my feet nibbled in the morning...!

Also on Sunday it was time to get to grips with my finances. Now, I am rubbish at this, really truly rubbish, but with the deposit for the house (shhh it's not official yet), and my credit card bill due on the same day, it was definitely time to sort it out. Sorted it is, now, but not before I took a long hard look at everything, cried, shouted and then tightened all available belts and purse strings. Shame blogging doesn't bring in any money!

For the rest of the week I have been living the student life again, catching up with the West Wing, ironing and sleeping late. I ironed for 5 hours solid yesterday, and now have clothes again. I even, virtuously, took 4 bags of clothes down to the charity shop, so now I have room for the newly ironed clothes... That's it, no more clothes shopping for me!!

(Blogger won't let me upload photos. Grumble)

15 September 2006


don't tell anyone....

I may have found a house....

Shhhhh....don't want to jinx it!

14 September 2006

Reading list

It's been a slow day at the office, as you can tell by my prolific blogging/reading/commenting. I found this book list on Liz's blog and thought I'd share...

1) A book that changed my life: Ballet Shoes
2) A book I've read more than once: Pride and Prejudice. In fact, most books I enjoy get read a couple of times. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Oh and Ballet Shoes, Anne of Green Gables, Winne the Pooh…
3) A book I'd take to a desert island: Winnie the Pooh, and the Works of Shakespeare (am I allowed two?)
4) A book that made me laugh: “Neither Here Nor There” Bill Bryson. I have an audio recording of it too and was listening to it on the train in Japan. Giggling to yourself is an excellent way of getting a seat to yourself on a crowded train.
5) A book that made me cry: The Time Traveller’s Wife. Cry? It made me sob. In fact, so have a number of Jodi Piccoult’s books.
6) A book I wish had been written: Harry Potter. I wish I had that sort of imagination.
7) A book that should never have been written:The War of Don Emanuel’s Nether Regions (I think). After Captain Corelli’s it was a huge disapointment.
8) A book I'm currently reading: Persuasaion
9) A book I'm planning to read: I’ve got a pile of books I’ve not finished yet…



Haiku, you ku, he,
She, or it kus, we ku, you
Ku, they ku. Thang ku.

-Ted Hipple

As a linguist it amuses me!

13 September 2006

Petworth Park

Hmm I accidentally deleted my profile picture, so I have posted this photo again, so I can have a face!

Petworth Park
Originally uploaded by clareybella.

12 September 2006

Intolerable Cruelty

As I get older, I am getting more and more intolerant. People who drive stupidly slowly, or just stupidly, really wind me up. Dawdlers, screaming children, my Brownies when they're not behaving themselves. And apparently now, my body has joined in, and has decided to reject certain types of food.

I have a number of allergies, ranging from cats/horses (almost anaphylactic reaction, aged 5 sat on a horse for the first time), to caffeine in tablets/Red Bull and excess amounts of water (externally: I itch). About a year and a half ago I developed an allergy to "something", which it's taken me a year to track down. It appears that I am allergic to peaches. I've not tested it with atual peaches, just tinned, and peach flavoured things (Lipton Ice etc), so it may be a reaction to the additive. However, I'm not willing to test this theory with a real fresh peach...

And last night I started to swell again. I had been at the Ottershaw Players AGM, and had then retired to the pub for a quick drink and a gossip. Brenda and I filled a plate with strawberries and grapes, avoiding all the calorific stuff (shame, after the day I'd had, I needed some chocolate), and munched our way through them. When I got home, my lips were tingling and a little swollen... I hastily took some antihistamines and some ventolin (to prevent chest closing upness), and stayed up for an hour or so to see if I'd swell any more, or anywhere else. I seemed not to, though I did itch (which I'm sure is psychosomatic), and went to sleep...The swelling has gone down this morning, but the question is, was it the grapes or the strawberries... I shall just have to find out!

PS: reason for the title of the entry? Intolerable (intolerance to things), cruelty (because strawberries are my favourite fruit...)

Let's go fly a kite....

"With tuppence for paper and string, you can have your own set of wings" - Dick Van Dyke
I rediscovered my childhood this weekend with Phil, on top of Butser Hill, Hants. We decided, after the gale force winds last weekend that we'd go and fly his kite somewhere. Unfortunately it was not very windy on Sunday, but not to be discouraged, we went to the top of Butser, which was the highest point we could think of.
Now, Phil's kite is nice, and sort of triangular, and a lot more professional than the last kite I remember, a plastic one from Thorpe Park, which I think we broke in about 10 minutes. However, in comparison to the other kites flying that day we had definite "Kite Envy". There were some there that were as big as tents, I swear!
Having said that, it was probably best that we had a little kite, cos I haven't flown one since...well, I don't remember. And consequently, I have discovered another sport I am completely rubbish at! With some expert tutition from Phil however, I improved, and could keep the kite in the sky for some time, though he had to stand behind me and stop me from waving my arms around....
I tried to take some photos to illustrate this blog, but none of them are very good. I found this on flickr though, which is a beautiful photo, and also much much better than any of my attempts!

11 September 2006


ga‧zump  [guh-zuhmp]
British Slang–verb (used with object)
1. to cheat (a house buyer) by raising the price, at the time a contract is to be signed, over the amount originally agreed upon. –noun
2. an act of gazumping.
[Origin: 1925–30; earlier gazoomph to swindle, argot word of uncert. orig.]
(with thanks to dictionary.com)

Yes that's right. We lost the house we'd PAID A DEPOSIT & SIGNED A CONTRACT for... So angry. Can't even make sentences!
Happier blog later about kite flying.

Note from Pete re: housing law:

Housing Act 1987 Sec. 2, Part vii (b) 9

A tenant who has been denied the right of access to a property after a verbal or written agreement is entitled to kick the landlord in the nads. He should respect your authoritah!

07 September 2006

Bananas: you learn something new every day...

I was just sorting out my emails during my exciting lunch break (actually, I managed to get out of the office for an hour, how exciting) and discovered this from my friend Hannah. Han is currently living in Japan, and was at uni with me in Durham. Anyway, she's a great fan of bananas, and whilst I was at uni, she sent this to me...

Bananas:. Containing three natural sugars - sucrose, fructose, and glucose, combined with fiber, a banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes.

But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression: According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood, and generally make you feel happier.

PMS: Forget the pills -- eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure: This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect way to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power: 200 students at a Twickenham Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites: Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work? Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and crisps. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers: The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control: Many other cultures see bananas as a "cooling" fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand, for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool! temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking: Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain, and regulates your body's water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes: According to research in "The New England Journal of Medicine," eating bananas as part of a regular diet, can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around. So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, "A 'Banana' a day keeps the doctor away!"

Just a shame I still don't like them....

Who do you think you are?

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his. - Oscar Wilde
You've got to love Oscar Wilde and his truisms... I was thinking this last night. Will I turn into my mother? In someways I hope not, as I want to be my own person, and have never wanted people to say "oh, you're just like your mum". In other ways, it's nice to know where you've come from and see which genes are which. For example (I've been thinking about this a lot recently, can you tell?), both my dad and I are crazy amateur dramatisists, but my mum and brother are both really musical (Patrick has just finished his degree in Contemporary Music Performance, mum is an Associate of the Royal College of Music). I'm quite musical, but dad can't sing a note (sorry Dad), so I obviously got some of that, but not all of it. Daniel, my half brother, is massively sporty, which must come from his mum's side mainly, and a little from my grandpa, who was a really keen walker (those sporty genes did NOT get passed on to me and Patrick, sadly). Similarly, I am very like my great Aunt (dad's aunt), who was really involved in the Girls Brigade (I'm a Guider, and heavily involved in Girlguiding UK), and is generally a really busy person.
And that's just the personality side of things... I think I look like my mum, including our rather spooky different coloured eyes (nb: my Grandma (dad's mum) had David Bowie eyes (one blue, one brown), which is maybe why mine are more distinct than mum's?), but she says I look like dad (without the facial hair). Photos of Patrick when he's little, and photos of mum when the same age are spooky, they look really similar. However, I can't see mum in my lanky long haired brother now... (I will try to remember to post some photos of me, dad, mum and Patrick so you can see for yourselves!)
On a similar vein I was watching the BBC programme "Who Do You Think You Are?" last night. Barbara Windsor (her of Carry On/Eastenders fame), was tracing her family tree. It turned out that the "East End" part of her goes right back, but she's also a little bit Irish, and (weirdly enough) a distant cousin to John Constable. How weird is that?
Dad has been tracing the Groome family tree recently, after I bought him the BBC book that accompanies the series. He's found information on number of generations back, and has discovered some interesting things. About 4 lines back from now (maybe 5), is a man who was quite high up in local society. Interestingly, his mother (according to the census) was illiterate, as she has a cross by her name, and the note "this is the mark of ...Groome". A large amount of education obviously went on in the life of her son, as he has ended up well educated and important. (Sorry this is all quite vague!). On my grandma's side we've drawn a blank pretty much, as she was adopted...A mystery waiting to be solved!
On my mother's side, my grandpa (Poppy) has been doing some research. Again, it's really interesting. With a last name like McNamara (and names in the family such as Kathleen (mum), Clare (me) and Patrick (Poppy and my brother), it's really no shock to discover a strong Irish line going back at least 300 years. In actual fact, my grandpas forefathers were sheep stealers (ahem!) and sent to Australia as convicts! Hence, for the last couple of centuries, the MacNamaras (well, some of them) have been living in Australia. There is also talk of a Spanish line (possibly pirates, though this may be Poppy making it more exciting...) which explains my dark skin, and why people often think I'm Spanish! The Stewart line, my mum's mum (who I never knew), is Scottish, so on that side, I'm Irish, Scottish, Australian and Spanish... Mongrel!!
Anyway, this probably isn't all that interesting to you lot, but I find it fascinating to know where I've come from... Does any one else have convicts (or pirates...) in their blood?

04 September 2006

A cultural excursion

This weekend I went to visit Petworth House and Park. Petworth (West Sussex), houses the National Trusts biggest collection of art, apparently rivalling the London Galleries. I can't really comment on it's art, as Phil and I went walking in the grounds instead, but the house is very Jane Austen-esque, I had quite Mr Darcy moment as we appeared at the house (think Elizabeth Bennett appearing at Netherfield with "6 inches of mud on her skirts").

There are huge old trees all over the place (much like the one I'm sitting on...) which presumably fell during one storm or another. Anyway, it was a great place to wander around for a few hours, and nice to get out of the house! As both Phil and I are National Trust members (we were "got" at the gate of Winkworth Arboretum - also always worth a visit!) I suspect there will be lots more of this sort of trip in the coming months... Well we've got to get our money's worth!

23 August 2006


"If adventures will not befall a lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad"
- Jane Austen -
And abroad I have been seeking them...
A quick run down here, as the full details can be found here.
Flew to Milan, spent a day and a night in Bergamo Alta.
Spent the morning in Milan before catching the train to Lake Como.
Two days in Lake Como (and one enormous thunderstorm).
Train to Florence (got caught without a reservation...oops)
Three nights in Florence, including a day trip to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Very weird!
Then to Rome (with a reservation this time) for 3 nights.
Lots of touristing, and being hawked at and flirted at by waiters.
Train to Bari, and then the ferry to Igoumenitsa (on the deck, in a storm, over night. Two words: NEVER AGAIN!)
Local ferry to Corfu, picked up by a nice man, and taken to the hostel where we slept for five hours before going to the beach. Where we spent the next two days! (With sunsets like this, can you blame us?)
Bus to Athens, three nights in a blissfully air conditioned room, with a bit of sightseeing thrown in too...
Crazy, but fun....

17 July 2006

Pussy cat pussy cat, where have you been?

"I've been up to London to visit the Queen...."

Last Wednesday and Thursday I had a very exciting trip to London. Indeed, as the nursery rhyme goes, I did indeed go up to London to visit the Queen!

Through Girlguiding UK I volunteered to steward at the Duke of Edinburgh Award 50th Anniversary Supporter's Garden Party, at Buckingham Palace. As well as Prince Philip, the Queen and the Earl and Countess of Wessex, there were a number of celebrities (actual celebrities, not "reality tv celebs"...) who are supporters of the Award, and there to give out certificates to members of operating centres from around the country.

Our job as stewards, was to hold numbers so that people could find their groups for the presentations, and then to be lane marshals for the Royals. In a crowd of 2,000 ish people, all trying to get a glimpse of the Queen, this was no mean feat, but the Guides were actually more effective than the Army at shooing people out of the way. The lesson to be learnt here? Don't mess with the Guides!

I was lucky enough to have Buzz Aldrin as my celebrity presenter, who chatted to me about my Queen's Guide Award, and was generally charming. I couldn't get over the fact I was talking to an ASTRONAUT!! Someone who had actually walked on the moon! Then in the lane marshalling part, Sophie Wessex came up to me and chatted for about five minutes about my Queen's and what I did as part of Guiding etc. She was really nice, and when I saw her again later, she remembered me and said hello again.

I saw, but didn't speak to, the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Edward. The Queen looks exactly as I expected her to look and she's really really small. I got a smile from her and Prince Philip, but Edward ignored me completely (rude!).

It was a great couple of days (we had a rehearsal for the standing around on the Wednesday), working with really nice Guiders, and Army, Navy, and Sea Cadets. I've learnt how to get my way with an Army major (talk nicely, and flutter your eyelashes), and how to get into Buckingham Palace building without a ticket (walk purposefully and wear a uniform!). I giggled an awful lot, and even got to sunbathe on the Queen's lawn - classic!

09 July 2006

What exactly has been going on?

Well it's been sometime.
In short I have been:

On holiday in Madeira (see photos)
Having puppies born in my living room
Watching the tennis
Trying not to watch the football
and panicking and planning intermittently my festival entry....

Not very exciting, so hence, no blog. Sorry guys!

13 June 2006

World Cup Madness

This is from an email I got at work today:

In preparation for the World Cup, the "offside rule" explained for women:

You're in a shoe shop, second in the queue for the till. Behind the shop assistant on the till is a pair of shoes which you have seen and whichyou must have. The female shopper in front of you has seen them also and is eyeing them with desire. Both of you have forgotten your purses.

It would be rude to push in front of the first woman if you had no money to pay for the shoes. The shop assistant remains at the till waiting. Your friend is trying on another pair of shoes at the back of the shop and sees your dilemma. She prepares to throw her purse to you.

If she does so, you can catch the purse, then walk round the other shopper and buy the shoes! At a pinch she could throw the purse ahead of the other shopper and "whilst it is in flight" you could nip around the other shopper, catch the purse and buy the shoes!

BUT, you must always remember that until the purse has "actually been thrown", it would be plain wrong for you to be in front of the othershopper and you would be OFFSIDE!

(Sadly, I still don't understand)

12 June 2006

getting into the spirit of this now...

In the true spirit of blogging, I have decided to review things I like. And things I don't, if I don't like them.

Things I like at the moment:

  • Sandi Thom "I wish I was a punk rocker (with flowers in my hair)" - great voice, could be a real summer hit I think.
  • José Gonzalez's album Veneer. The song Heartbeats from this album is the lovely guitary one on the Sony Bravia advert with the bouncy balls. Really good chill out music.
  • The West Wing. I am a newbie at this, having only just started watching it, but am slowly catching up by watching Phil's DVDs. I'm half wy through season 4, but keep seeing trailers for season 7 on More 4...
  • Holidays, and organising things for them. I'm off to Madeira in 2 weeks and have today sorted out my travel insurance and a hire car for 3 days of the week we're there. Exciting stuff.
  • My new camera: Casio Exilim ez750. I'm becoming a right camera geek, but it takes amazing photos (I take no credit for them!). Check out my flickr pages on the link to the right.
  • Birthdays: nuff said...

Things I don't like:
  • The heat, and there being no breeze. We have 2 fans and two open windows in my office, and all thats happening is that all the papers on my desk keep making a break for freedom.
  • Working when the weather is nice - it sucks.
  • Feeling ill. ME isn't much fun, especially not in the heat (see above) as you can't sleep.
  • Football fans with flags on their cars - it's not going to make them win!!

There, that's better, and I've used up some valuable time of the day, and it's almost home time!

On getting older...

Yes, this weekend I had a birthday, and not for the first time either!! My mother has taken to telling people I'm younger than I am, which is either because she is suffering from early onset Alzheimer's or because she doesn't think she's old enough to have a 23 year old daughter...

Thankfully my birthday fell on a weekend, since there can be little more depressing than working on your birthday. Unfortunately, it also fell on the same day as the first England match in the World Cup. Now, not being a football fan (in fact, I would describe myself as the opposite), this was more than slightly irritating. To combat football fever, I decided to organise the opposite of hot sweaty men in a pub: an afternoon in a spa! Anne Marie and I went off up to London to the Athenaeum Hotel & Apartments on Picadilly, and had a lovely afternoon being pampered! I found a cheapy deal on lastminute.com so for about £32 each we had a massage, a manicure and full use of the spa facilites! We skipped the gym, it being somewhat too hot, and lounged around in our bikinis and dressing gowns, mooching between the jacuzzi, the massage room and the very posh dressing room. It was a glorious way to spend the afternoon, and not a football hooligan in sight!

After lovely dinner with Phil at the Inn on the Lake in Godalming, on the Sunday I held a barbecue at my house. Little did I know how stressful hosting stuff is! So much running around and mingling! It was fun, although far too hot, and I got lots of lovely presents. There is a definite "travelling" theme in my presents, in that I got an Italy DK guide, a "Europe by Rail" book and a Greek Phrasebook (kalispera!), so I'm all set for my travels in Europe in August. The money from the aborted Kenya trip has just reached my account, so I'm almost back to where I started...Just need to hassle the flight people into giving me my money back and I'll be done. Quite weird really, but I'm really excited about going to Italy and Greece with AM and Caroline. Although, if it continues to be this hot..... definitely going to purchase a floppy straw hat!

08 June 2006

Another busy week...

Well, I didn't die in Newcastle (hoorah!).

Kate and I completed the Race for Life in a slightly less than respectable time, but never mind, at least we did it. I ran 1k, walked 1k, for the whole thing, thus running about 3k of the 5. The course was round Newcastle Racecourse in Gosforth, which we were initially pleased about as we assumed it would be flat... Sadly not, and the ground was really rocky and uneven to boot. At one point we all (all 4,000 of us...) had to cross a "bridge", or at least, a few planks of wood across a stream. Needless to say, this held up the proceedings some what, as you could only get 2 people on the bridge at one time... Anyway, we finished it, and got our medals at the end! Then it was back on the train to London, with a number of tremendously drunk people, one of whom fell asleep whilst clasping a glass of beer, which he proceeded to throw over the woman next to me...

As a consequence of my incredibly busy weekend (I was at Brownie Pack Holiday on the Friday night and Saturday morning), I was ill on Monday andTuesday, which at least gave me a chance to breathe, and sit out and enjoy the sunshine. It's amazing the properties of Vitamin D... But that's probably a blog all of its own. So yesterday I was back at work, still as boring as ever (my brain is atrophying as I type), but hey, its money, and it's only until September!

31 May 2006


Ho hum
It's been sometime since I've done this, and there really is no excuse. I suppose I've been busy, but as I have very little to say I assume this isn't the truth...

I've done very little rowing due to the torrential rain making the river unsafe. In theory I'm supposed to have been training for the Race for Life, but as I've been ill I've only managed to get out three times, all of which were fairly disastrous. But I've raised £400 so am off to Newcastle this weekend to do my best - even if I end up crawling round!

I've been to the cinema a couple of times, and saw"Mission Impossible: 3" and then "The Da Vinci Code". I can't really recommend either of them to be honest. But what has made me laugh is how many spin offs there have been from the Da Vinci Code - IT'S JUST A BOOK!

I was off work for a week, or rather, working from home, as my mother has had the unfortunateness to fall off her bike (oh yes...) and break her wrist! She was in plaster for a while, but now she's back in a splint. However, she still can't drive, work or do much else, though she is getting better at eating left handed! It's probably a good thing I was off work as I wasn't very well, and the doctor was his usual helpful self, by diagnosing me as "exhausted". Funny, you wouldn't expect that after not sleeping for 2 weeks... Anyway, basically I work all week and then spend as much time as humanly possible asleep, or else I feel dizzy and sick. It's great fun...

The play thoughts have not got much further, although I am going to try to set a date for the auditions this week. Anne Marie and I are planning a trip to Europe in August (instead of me going to Kenya), so auditioning early July will give me lots of time to start rehearsing before then, and then the end of August, and the whole of September to start polishing. I figure if we can put on Twelfth Night in 2 weeks, we can do a festival entry!

And that concludes this entry into my very boring life.... Stay tuned for more updates, although if I don't post again, I may have died in Newcastle!

17 May 2006

Paris 2006

Paris 2006
Originally uploaded by clareybella.
A happy shot from last week in Paris :-) (Shame that my bag is touching the tower, ruins the effect of the perspective somewhat!)

16 May 2006

Decisions, decisions

Right. I've spent the last 4 days trying to make a decision. People who know me know that I'm not very good at this. Maybe that's why its taken me four days to not really make my mind up. Maybe I should start at the beginning.

I am booked to go to Kenya from 4th August to 2nd September. I booked this last August, when I was incredibly bored of work etc. It sounded fun, 4 weeks teaching English, and I get a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate thrown in. Then I had a few bad patches, which sort of turned into one big bad patch. Then I went to Japan, on my own, for two weeks. Whilst I had fun, I was incredibly lonely. I had forgotten that when I'm left alone here, I tend to over think, and so I did the same in Japan. I came back and talked nineteen to the dozen for about a week, just to rid my brain of all my thoughts.

This got me to thinking about Kenya. I am potentially on my own for four weeks, in a completely strange and different environment. It would either me the best experience for me, ever, or it'll be horrible; it's a make or break situation.

There is also the money factor (isn't it always a factor?). I am off to UCL next year to do an MSc, which there is no funding for. So I am liable to pay full fees, of around £3000, plus rent, food, and general living costs (books etc). UCL, in their finance information, have estimated that I should budget around £9000 for the year (!?!?) Thus, it's going to be £12k for the year. This is money I do not have. It is possible that I can get a graduate loan, but I don't really want to get into more debt. It is also possible that I could live with Dad in Forest Hill, or with my mum at home, but I don't really want to do either of these things. They are last resorts.

Kenya is costing me £2000, ish. If I cancel, I lose my deposit (£150) and the cost of the TEFL course (£195). I also have to cancel my flights, and thus far am not sure how much I lose there (the stupid thing being that I've only just booked them). The balance is due on 6th June, and I don't have it at the moment. I recently paid off my overdraft and yet still seem to be dipping into it, and the balance will knock me right back to where I started.

And so the decision is thus: to go to Kenya or not? The way I'm looking at it at the moment, Kenya will still be there next year, when I've done my MSc, and hopefully sorted out my head a little more. My MSc, whilst horrendously bankruptable, should hopefully help me in the future. But I feel like I'm being stupid for passing up this opportunity, just cos I'm scared (and I could use the money). And I also think I'll go mad if I'm working from now until September. There is a possibility of doing a little bit of light travelling with Anne Marie in Europe, which would keep me sane at least. And there is the fact that I'm supposed to be doing this play for Ottershaw, and should probably keep August free for some rehearsals at some point!

Oh, I don't know what to do.

15 May 2006

I love Paris in the springtime

Yes, I've spent the last week in Paris. I was there from last Tuesday til Friday, it was amazing. I think we saw the whole of Paris in about 48 hours. On the Tuesday evening we had an aborted trip to the Musee d'Orsay (it was closed) and then a wander throught the Jardin de Tuilieries in the rain. Wednesday was still glum so we had a museum day, although we started at Notre Dame. We wandered around the church dodging tourists left right and centre, and proved my theory that its almost impossible to take a photo of Notre Dame without it being wonky, I don't know why!
Then we had a very French street cafe lunch, and then queued for ages at the Musee d'Orsay. I actually prefer this museum to the Louvre, but maybe that's cos I know more of the pictures and I'm a sucker for a Degas. After a quick Orangina in the cafe, we wandered through the Tuilierie again, stopping to be old people by the pond, before "doing" the Louvre. We followed the DK Top 10 Paris Guide, and managed the whole top 10 in an hour and a half! Thoroughly shattered we then wandered back to Gare de L'Est, after taking some beautiful sunset photos of the Pyramid and the Arc de Triopmhe du Carousel (see my flickr album).
Wednesday the weather was amazing. We started at the Arc de Triomphe, and then got my favourite metro journey across the Seine with a view of the Eiffel Tower. We joined the queue and 3 hours later (!) and quite sun burned we made it to the top. Unfortunatley it was quite hazy, but we still got some great photos. Back on terra firma we went back to the hotel for a quick shower, change of camera battery and sleep in my case, and then headed off to Monmatre. I'd not been before and was quite overwhelmed by Sacre Couer. It was a beautiful building, and stunning in the bright sunshine. We climbed the dome (look at how brave I was, all this height climbing!) and took more photos of Paris from above. We then wandered round Monmatre and managed not to get our pictures done by one of the many artists! Off then to the Dali museum, where we were told "you must be quick". No problem for us, the speed museumers!
At 6.30 we decided we should try to find somewhere to eat. By 9.30, we'd not found anywhere to eat!! But then we fell upon Chartier, which was an amazing restaurant in the Opera quarter, in a 1900s listed building, and yet suprisingly cheap! Then we ran to the Trocadero to watch the Eiffel Tower doing its hourly sparkly thing. We missed it by about 2 mins but stayed until midnight to see it. It was very pretty, and there are lots of nice photos....
And then, on Friday it was time to go home! Literally a whirlwind tour, but some amazing photos, and even better memories...Very loved up now!

08 May 2006

Exciting weekend news

Well, that maybe a little exaggeratory (if it's not word, it should be). My weekend wasn't all that exciting. It was fun, relaxing and enjoyable but not exciting as such.
It started on Friday afternoon in the blazing (17 degrees, ahem) sunshine, with a trip to the walk in centre in Woking. For the last few days I had been having problems with my asthma, either tight chestedness (coining all over the shop today) or palpitations. I decided that this probably wasn't good so went to the walk in centre after work. Not surprisingly they couldn't work out why I felt like that, because my blood oxygen level was fine, my peak flow was ok and my pulse apparently normal. So why did it feel like my heart was trying to make a break for it through my chest? They had no idea, but told me to come back if it got any worse. It hasn't got worse but it is still there...Hmm, oh well!
As I was in the area I went to Katherine's (Phil's sister) flat to help her pack up her flat. She's renting it out for a few months to get some money together, and has left lots of stuff in storage. I became "tape girl" and helped to bubble wrap the chairs together. All very exciting stuff, so exciting in fact that when I got back to Phil's for dinner, I just about made it through the meal before almost falling asleep at the dinner table!
P got up stupidly early to go and help Katherine move the now bubblewrapped items from her flat into the van, hired for the purpose of moving things from flat to storage. I went home to have a shower and get changed and then went back for lunch. Then it was off to the storage place in Cranleigh. And what a strange place it was! You hire a metal room (which come in various sizes), for which only you have the key. It's a great idea, but it was a little strange. You can definitely imagine an episode of Dr Who being filmed there!! In fact, I even managed to watch Dr Who this weekend, the first time in ages!
Sunday: lots of sleep in the morning, and then lunch at the Refectory in Milford. We were celebrating Phil and his Dad's birthdays, only a month or two late! The food was lovely, but I have never been in a restaurant for three hours before! Well, I have, but when I was drinking and we took a long time over our meal. It was incredibly slow service! And then in the evening we watched "The Worst Jobs in History" (soap making is minging), and then the Top 10 One Hit Wonders. So many songs I had completely forgotten about!!! Including Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen) and Chesney Hawkes' classic "I am the One and Only"! A real Durham anthem! Sadly I had to go home, so I have no idea who was No. 1!
So as you can see, it really wasn't exciting. But hey, I'm going to Paris tomorrow, so I don't care!!