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!