Monday, 28 December 2009

Early New Year's Deliberations

So, yet again, my new year's resolutions need to include learning the ability to stop guzzling wine like it is orange squash. Had a very fun evening at Andrew's last night, as he and Erika cooked for me, Charlie, Laura, Alex, Mum and Dad. The yummy fajitas were followed by a particularly amusing (aren't they always?) game of the hat game. My abilities were somewhat impeded by my intoxication.

So, after a fitfull night's sleep as my liver attempted to remove the poison from my bloodstream, Alex popped round for a run at 11 which literally jogged me into recovery. We kept it short, after all it has been a few months since I last ran. And the Wii Fit's verdict was not too bad after a few months of busyness, eating and not excercising - 10st 7lb.

So, it has been a lazy day, having a bath and watching films. Laura has gone out to surround herself with London's inimitable wonders. Charlie is doing his essay. I believe Mum and Dad are out again attacking the shops, and expect Andrew and Erika will be having a relaxing day together.

Tomorrow is Claridges and Karaoke. A good opportunity for me to practise my '2 glasses is plenty' technique.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Boxing Clever

Another cosy, yummy, fun day with the family. Got up fairly late to have a brief breakfast before going for a long walk around Brixton. Through Brockwell Park where children were playing with new toys, some cool kids with robust remote controlled cars, and some whingy kids with pointless plastic rubbish.

Then we wandered round to the Brixton windmill, my first viewing of what is an incredible echo of Victorian Britain in our back yard. It is so hidden, not even visible from the Windmill pub which bears its name. No wonder Alison loves it so much.

Then, after 2 hours of strolling, we wandered back to 206 to have a lovely mushroom risotto before going our separate ways. Andrew to Heathrow to pick up Erika T from her Christmas visit to Hungary, Robin and Marion to Redhill before going back to France.

Mum and Dad stayed back with me to indulgently watch 'Trading Places', as film that is both naughty and witty, also almost 30 years old now, whilst still perplexing me with the stock exchange futures market.

And now we have a bit of peace and quiet again ... I say again, because I presume we were peaceful at some point this year. It only really occured to me today that we have a full week off next week ... such joy! The possibilities are endless, Spa London? The V&A? Shopping on the Kings Road? Drinks in Bar de Musee? Little Fish has to write his essay, which I will help with, so it is even quite helpful if I am out of the house keeping out of his way.

And Laura comes to stay tomorrow, which will be great fun. A bit of time to catch up over a whole year ... a house still full of booze and food ... a 'to do' list that is both flexible and interesting ... be still my beating notebook!

Friday, 25 December 2009

Tidings of comfort and joy!

Have had a splendid Christmas Day, surrounded by family in our little flat in Brixton. The mulled wine, desert wine, red, white and beer flowed freely as we noshed upon the ducks, Alouitious and James, and played Monopoly (Dad and I declared ourselves joint winners to avoid further hours of torment and delaying of the Christmas tea).

Poppy and Max were delightful, presents were sweet, useful and compelling all at once. Walking is being saved till Boxing Day.

And, ladies and gentlemen, the Queen!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas Day!

How jolly!!

Met up with Mum, Dad, Robin, Marion, Charlie, Andrew and Rachel H from work in the pub for a snifter of mulled wine, swiftly followed by some gay and gleeful carol singing at St Martin's in the Field. We all puffed out our chests before launching into the 'Glooooooria'! A lovely church and an interesting service. Then we strolled on down to Pizza Express for a low maintinence dinner before heading home.

So, the presents and food are bought and waiting. The cooking planner is finally done. Chestnuts on a pre-roast setting. Now some well deserved hours of sleep before the full joy of Christmas sets in!

Merry Crimble :)

Monday, 21 December 2009

Oh the weather outside is frightful ...!

Ok, so it can't be too bad a day at work if you can play Bobby Darin's 'Let it snow' while the good white stuff is making the sky fluffy outside.

Katherine and Rich's wedding yesterday was very sweet and elegant, though what with few tube trains and a 1 and a half hour delay on the mainline track we almost didn't get there. But we did, and she looked absolutely beautiful in the surroundings of Fonmon Castle in south Wales, with a happy hubby at her side. Mr and Mrs Mackin are spending a quiet honeymoon and Christmas with their dog Poppy in a cottage in Cornwall, sounds delightful!
At least the late train meant that we should get a refund ... every cloud! But we were a bit sleepy getting back at 1am, Christmas seems to mean consecutive late nights at the moment.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Out and About in London Town

For those who know Charlie and I well, we are not recognised as being people who go out clubbing to bars in town of a weekend evening. So, tonight was a refreshing change as we went out to Islington to brave the cool night air. We first popped in to Veronica's, a collegues at FTF, who was hosting a mulled wine and merriment session at her house just off Essex Road.

We then pootled back to Upper Street to join Hannah Bunting, a B'ham Uni friend of Charlie's who we last saw in Tokyo (where she lives) when we were on our honeymoon.

So, a couple of drinks, much jolly chatting, pondering and reminiscing. And an early morning awaits us tomorrow as we are going to Katherine and Rich's wedding in South Wales, in what looks like a most beautiful and stately castle. Fabulous!


Much busyness

What a busy Christmassy week, finishing Christmas cards, working, partying ... all so tiring, staying up till 1:30am most nights. Saw 'Avatar' on Weds, a great film, though not as ideal as all that.

Work party this evening, a triumph of dancing and good food.

Hail to tomorrow morning's lie-in!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

No 'Authority'

So, Joe won the X-Factor, and takes a step into the heady and oh so temporary world of British celebrity. Fair dues, he was the best singer, but after a few weeks of steady corruption, the angelic smile may well turn into a naughty grin.

It is a magic formula to democratise the music industry live on tv every week. After all, that is what has made the Internet so popular. And, in a creative world with full democracy, there is no authority ... no authors ... how to find what is truly good amidst all the dross.

But on to more important things, spending a weekend in Spalding with my parents, Charlie, Matthew, Andrew and Erika T. Was as relaxing and pleasant as Christmas should be, with a full turkey dinner we were completely spoiled.

Lots to prepare this week in anticipation of Christmas. Cards to write, food to plan, and we are also going to see Avatar at the IMAX on Wednesday, after Charlie joins me for a bit of an informal work drinks and dinner ... should be lots of fun, as long as the relentless flow of work finally begins to stem a bit before Christmas starts in full.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

More Tiny Animals!

Who would have thought the Guardian would have so many column inches spare for such tiny animals?!?!

Looking forward to a Smithy Christmas this weekend. Only 10 working days left till proper Christmas, lots to do but having lots of fun planning food, making cookies etc.

Still enjoying having what seems like extra time, now I have finished my Marketing course for this term. Having done lots of jobs today I am indulging in the last of the season episode of Scrubs ... and maybe I will have a bath ... ahhhhhhh!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Have a Break, Have a Fortnight's Holiday ... I wish :)

So, today the news broke about Kit Kat in the UK converting to Fairtrade, and I am pleased that the resulting publicity has been braodly positive, tempered by realism.
It has been a lot of hard work, and we cannot underestimate or take for granted the renewed engagement we have with this global behemoth of a company. But having seen how much support cocoa farming in Cote d'Ivoire needs, and having been inspired to consider the higher questions of social justice and the people involved by Dr John Sentamu, you realise how much the partnerships involved in Fairtrade are needed. Not only to redistribute a fairer distribution of money to those at the bottom of the supply chain, but also to develop partnerships across the supply chain, leading to further transparency and trust ... not simple, and not quick, but the candle is lit.
To quote the Archbishop, when all the teeth chew together, you can eat meat. Don't be a single tooth!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

More brevity ... or should that be less brevity?

Off to Bonn for a couple of days tomorrow, then hopefully over to Birmingham to see newly engaged Miranda (and hopefully Jess and Ruth too!).

Busy busy busy!

Monday, 30 November 2009

Brevity ...

Exam tomorrow ... head full of stuff ... hope it doesn't leak out till 12:30 tomorrow (at the earliest).

Bed now.


Saturday, 28 November 2009


Sitting in the lounge, ostensibly putting together revision notes for my exam on Tuesday. Bjork's Vespertine in the background, which gives a chilled out, slightly festive flavour to the air. Lights on low, Charlie writing in the corner, kittens all snuggled up around us. It is cold, wet and uninviting outside, but our flat is warm, and a haven of contentment.

The revision is a bit behind schedule, as we have spent a day at the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum with Keith, Danni and little Mattie, who is now getting very big (18 months), and is just a delight! She is very quiet and good, well behaved and has excellent balance for walking. And running! It is lovely when you can walk along and she lets you hold her hand, while you point out all the animals both extinct and living, and she is fascinated by every light, sound and movement.

What a great way to spend a day. So why am I now thinking of lowering the tone by watching X-Factor?!?!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Like being 21 again

So, having pledged that I would be pushing back on work to ensure my sanity and immune system stay intact, it got to 7:30pm before I suggested to my colleague Dan that we have a swift half in the pub to mutually vent our spleens and relax. So now I have decided I am going to have a late one to get my assignment finished, hoping to do some final tailoring Tues and Weds evening before Friday's submission.

So I am attempting a late 20's version of the procedure I regularly went through when I was 21, i.e. staying up through the night in the computer labs, occassionally peeking at Transformer comic scans between hastily completing essays. The late 20's version involves tea (a lot of tea), a mousakka (in the oven as we speak, Sainsbury's Taste the Difference range) and likely some degree of chocolate as the evening/night draws on.

I look to the cats for some inspiration ... not so much. Oh well, best get on with it!

But before I finish, a quick note of gratitude for yet another glorious thanksgiving, with a special thanks to Theresa for giving me a colour treatment and a massage, both of which have contributed to my recovery. Demitris cooked a couple of beautiful ducks, and Theresa very kindly gave us a beautiful painting she created earlier in the year, which looks just fabulous in our lounge now.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

The Past and the Future

So, the snot is abating, and the congealing scum on my lungs is beginning to subside. The pile of tissues by my side is growing at a slower rate, and I am feeling less sorry for myself.

And I have been thinking. Thinking about the future, my career and my ambitions. The fact that 2009 has probably been my most ambitious year yet, does not mean that I have a particularly clear picture of where it will take me. And the confines of my wonderful yet taxing job, and the perplexingly infinite frustration it generates, supresses a creative urge that I feel has been missing for a few years. I look forward to Christmas as a time of rest and reflection, knowing full well that in order to have a sustainable sense of perspective I need to make every day balanced and calm, rather than hyping myself up to the next breathing space.

So, what is next for me? Can I keep learning and moving forward in my current role? Or is there something else, a flicker of realisation that there are bigger fish to fry, possibly writing, possibly something else even more different?

I look forward to my December of reflection. And in the meantime I hope this realisation that I need to transform the way I approach work and my own time stays.

Also, dear Norris managed to lock herself out of her flat, with Liam away in Malaysia, so she is staying with me overnight and has been looking after me very sweetly this evening, specifically through the medium of pizza and garlic bread.

Charlie has already gone to Brighton to his Mum's, and I am typically missing him, despite being only separated by hours ... this is where I pledge to be more attentive and appreciative when he is around ... when I get better, of course.

Thursday, 19 November 2009


Oh woe is me, for the second time in this blog's short life I am a sick bunny. What with the coughing and the sneezing and the general overload of facial mucus (steady!) I am sure I was super-welcome at my all day meeting today. Going in was the right thing to do, but starting to regret staying as I am now feeling the brunt.

You know? When every breath feels toxic, and people on the tube move so they don't have to sit near you, eyeing you with disgust as you clasp another sodden snotty tissue to your poor sore pink nosey.


So I am on a juice, carbs and paracetamol diet for the duration, somewhat challenging when I have a 6,000 word essay due in next week and a 3 hour exam in the following week. Ouch!

But after a busy and mildly stressful week I am hoping that, having made some progress moving things forward, my brain will relax, allowing my body to recover. When you wake up in the night realising something you forgot, and knowing that you would rather get up and get it done rather than try and sleep or write it down, you know you are (a) slightly more neurotic than usual and (b) having this neurosis heightened by snot overload.

So, perhaps now I can recover properly. With my body aching and face leaking, perhaps this is a message to rest.

We are at Theresa's (Charlie's Mum's) on Saturday for Thanksgiving ... hopefully I can be thankful for a speedy recovery.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Tiny Animals and the Brink of Immunity

I feel a bit like the hedgehog at the moment, feeling grumpy, quite small and wondering why someone has put me in an eggcup. Perhaps a metaphorical eggcup. Loving the tiny animals piece in the Guardian though ... inspired!

Feeling a bit coughing and headachy and big glands, hope it is not the Swine Influenza ... I am too busy to be a statistic in a pandemic. Can I show them my student card to get immunity?

Christmas seems to have infiltrated everywhere while we were up in the Lakes though. All reds, golds and green, advent calendars, wrapping, and mass advertising of unique gifts. Makes me think of the immortal Tom Lehrer Carol.

Back at work today, feeling full of wintry browns and long skirts. My hibernation instinct is really kicking in now, after all, it is the time of year when I turn into a small woodland creature and curl up in my duvet.

Maybe I should have saved up more of my annual leave.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Top 5 Top 5s

So, it has been a very relaxing Sunday after a busy Saturday. I stayed true to my lazy word, and watched High Fidelity last night. Am inspired, but possibly slightly too lazy, to compile endless top 5s ... such as ...

Top 5 Holidays
Top 5 Films
Top 5 Books
Top 5 Agatha Christies
Top 5 Sitcoms

... it could go on forever. Possibly a good plan to deliver with a glass of wine in hand over Christmas.

Back to work tomorrow. House is fairly tidy, washing done, and feeling jolly after a lovely roast dinner with Charlie, Andrew, Alex and Makeila.

Ho ho ho, bring on December!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Love and Affection

Not only one of my favourite Joan Armatrading songs but also the abiding feeling I am left with after Robin (Charlie's Dad) and Marion's wedding yesterday. The occassion was filled with such joy, the realisation of the happiness they have now found with each other. Such a personal day, with so much time and thought put into every attendee, every word said and every little finishing touch. Just lovely!

We spent a week up in the Lake District, detoxifying our lungs with the air, cleansing our eyes with the view and resetting our taste buds with the crystal water, which trickled down the hillside into our taps (miraculously avoiding any trace of sheep).

It was also lovely to have my parents up there too, who were on excellent form, especially taking out a gaggle of Sundts for lunch and a Jennings brewery visit in Cockermouth while I toiled on with my marketing assignment.

And it was marketing that got me up at 4:30 this morning, for my darling and ever-supportive husband to whisk me off to Penrith to catch the first train back to London for a day of marketing revision. Very worth it, if only to inject the basic concepts into my busy mind, while I finish off my assigment and wait for my inevitable weekend of cramming before the exam.

So, after an evening in with Kirsten of watching (wait for it) both X Factor AND Strictly Ballroom (no, my eyes aren't bleeding), I am looking forward to an indefinite lie-in tomorrow morning (get in!).

I might even have a bath now ... I might! On a Saturday night! You can stick your clubbing and your tequila slammers down my plughole!
Now, where's my rubber ducky ...

Saturday, 7 November 2009

On the Brink ...

One of those polarised days at work where the promise of a week off is so close, but you have to deliver 5 times the amount of work to ensure that everything keeps ticking along while you are away. There is a lot going on at the moment, and I was striving to get everything finished. Did a reasonably good job, though I won't know till Mon 16th if anybody disagrees :)

So, tomorrow we go to Spalding to stay overnight with Mum & Dad, then we all drive up to the Lake District for a week of hills, pristine lakes and valleys, and plenty of marketing homework. And Robin and Marion's wedding, which is the lovliest thought of all. I am looking forward to seeing the place 'close to heaven' that they speak about so much and love.

So, preparing to go away, with Kirsten coming round tomorrow to catsit. Halfway through tidying, packing and general assembling now ... must get on!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

S.A.D. and H.A.P.P.Y.

So, I have been like a bear with a sore head this week. Everything has been so busy and disconnected and, as some of my more astute colleague have reminded me, you can't always be a perfectionist when you have so much stuff to do. So I continue to strive for more than I can deliver, hopefully it will be worth the investment.
Another theory is that with a dark veil draping itself over London at 5pm, I am feeling the darkness inside my mind too. The world is closing down for winter, and my brain is losing the light touch of summer that helped me brush off the less important distractions, now leaving me grave and furrowed.

However, I am H.A.P.P.Y. for my wonderful talented husband, who visited the set of the short film he wrote this morning

He seemed almost surprised to find himself met by the cast, including Celia Imrie, Warren Clark and Richard E. Grant.

Seems it was worth getting up at 6am for!

Monday, 2 November 2009

The Simple Things

Back home after a lovely evening going out for drinks and a curry on Brick Lane with my colleagues. So rarely do we get to go out together as a group, it was great to relax and get to know people, especially the newer guys and gals. Again again!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

All Saints' Day ... #'I know where it's at'#

The day after another jaunty Halloween party.

Forced by a tantrum and mild claustrophobia to abandon my mummy costume, after the hundredth time trying to get my 'bandages' to stay on, it was quite a relaxed evening really. The cats seemed to enjoy their first Halloween, and were not put off by the people, the noise or the imaginative costumes.

So today has been a day of rest, a much needed self-indulgence, getting started on this year's Christmas card concept whilst watching movie magic in the form of Pirates, The Simpsons, and a sprinkle of Harry Potter for good measure. Ok, so I haven't acheived much, but never has being so unproductive been so satisfying.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Pratchett Revisited

There are some books that never leave you. I remember being quite small, and hanging on the words of anyone who would read me Fantastic Mr Fox. And I had and still do have a tendency to get hold of an author and read them dry, Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Secret Seven, and more recently P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster.

In my teens, this was Terry Pratchett all the way. Just before I discovered boys, and Hooper's Hooch, I was lost in a world of wizards, a Death (WHO SPOKE IN CAPITALS) and fantastic yet compelling characters. I am rereading a few of his books at the moment, starting with Guards Guards and Men at Arms (almost finished, so quick and gripping to read) and I might find time for Small Gods before marketing takes over my whole November. I didn't realise at the time, but these stories shaped my thoughts and values, embedding themselves in my creative consciousness. So much so, that rereading them now is like catching up with an old friend, even 15 years later.
Poignant, colloquial and clever, they celebrate the uniqueness of people and places by holding up a wobbly fairground mirror to reality.

And, as the icing on the cake for today's ponderances, my marketing exam is about ... Black & Decker! As it has been pointed out to me, with no preconceptions about the brand, I am forced to use the knowledge I have learned to prepare and get through the test ... blimey!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Lie in Wait

Two lie ins! Count them ... one, two ... this weekend. Pure bliss, with no appointments that couldn't be delayed for a short time. Ambling conversations, trampling cats, pondering over the last ten years and postulating over the next ten. I even went for my first run in a while, hard and now mildly painful, with a couple of sneaky reststops. Need to keep it up before the fattened goose (and the rest) starts the Christmas gluttony season.

Mum and Dad were over for the weekend, staying with Andrew as we were all getting together to meey Carl and Joy New, our distant Australian relatives. Now, let's get this right, my Dad's second cousin, as my Dad's grandmother's (Caroline Rosina Julia New) brother Frederick moved out to Australia. Was a lovely meal, followed by a walk around some of the more traditional sights of London, Westminster, Trafalgar Square and Buck House.

Today met up with Caroline and Nathan (back from Afghanistan and having a well deserved rest) and the South America crew. Picked up some remaining pieces of my fabulous bridesmaids ensemble for Marion and Robin's wedding (less than 3 weeks away now!), and crammed in a couple of vital hours marketing homework before meeting Norris, Fish and others in the Fire Station for a quick drink.

They had clearly had a fun day together, with face paints and fish stickers, strangely made me miss Laura a bit and think about how close Christmas is (when she is briefly back in the UK).

Have been suffering from nostalgiitis a bit, disappearing into thoughful dazes. Need to focus the mind on a Halloween costume for next week.


Thursday, 22 October 2009

Naughty Noughties are like the Sixties

Emma's theory for the day ... though actually I had this theory towards the beginning of the noughties too (though I have no proof, dammit).

The green conscience that has grown up through the nation, growing public action to express concern with the system and anger at companies (a la Nick Griffin on Question Time today). Boho chic, new funky festivals, allotments, all of these things seem to me to point towards the hippy heaven of the Sixties.

So does that mean we have neon flares and disco music to look forward to in the teenies??!?

Liam is brilliantly pointing us to look back over the last decade to everything we have achieved (or not, as the case may be), however this is also a chance to look forward. At the end of this upcoming decade we will be approaching 40, potentially with kids and an even bigger mortgage. My career will be in a different place, we may be living in a different place ... and a whole new ten years of adult life will be behind us.

All the wonderful experiences that await ... just imagine ...

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

More Doctored Photos

My gosh, the Matrix sequels are bad films. So to cheer you up, more photos of Matty's graduation.

I am doing all the work in this pic :)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Sticky Cartoon Violence

Having arrived home at around 8:30pm, and feeling warm and grateful after receiving some beautiful fragrant lillies from my Fish, we indulged over scampi and chips by watching a recording of when the maker of our favourite webcomic XKCD Randall Munroe went to Mountain View to speak to the Google crew.

It is both expressly complex and scientific, yet simultaneously logic-defyingly minimalist, beautiful and emotive. Tackling the balance between love and cleverness, affection and computer programming, dinosaurs and squirrels, it is a gentle nudge to go out and explore the fascinating questions of life with impunity.

Some favourites:

It seems to belong to the same school as Pixar of celebrating the power of the medium whilst championing the message. And we were not too surprised to find out the maker's first foray into comics was reading Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes, which touched us so much we included one of our favourites (the third panel from the end) in our wedding.

Monday, 19 October 2009


Phew ... another challenging day at work, knitting the woollen threads together. Unwrapping the tangles and darning the gaps where stitches have been dropped to ensure a strong and colourful garment. Dodgy craft analogies aside, I am once again exhausted and drained of all my will to do either Marketing homework (overdue) or writing my book (even more overdue, yet still pleased with my 18,000 word progress so far).

Was joyous to come home and play with the cats, even Max was bounding round the house after the red laser pointer, thought his momentum might take hin through a wall at one point. I have succumbed to an early night in bed in my 'jamas, and they are keeping me company before their daddy comes home to give them supper (as he is at Go club, conquering the world one minstrel at a time).

Just had a lovely chat with my Dad too, there is always something so reassuring about talking to parents when you have had a bad day at work. Unfortunately I think they bore the brunt a bit when I was finding P&G hard, however in my current job I do wonder if the inspiring highs make the pounding lows further to fall .

Moussaka in the oven, sweet purring playful kittens at my side, a jolly Fish soon on his way home to see me, the care of two parents and the unerring support of my direct family and in-laws; I am drained but both lucky and happy.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Sticky Backed Plastic

Spent a relaxing day at Erika's in Battersea, with Theresa, Judy (Dan's Mum) and Gilly (Dan's little sister), where we ate, drank and all worked together on assembling Erika and Dan's wedding invitations. I was awarded the special job of sticking on the fiddly silver words, and at about 5:30 I was pleased to announce that we had about 101 invitations all finished. Now all Erika and Dan have to do is decide who they want to receive them!

Met Charlie in the Hive on the way back, where he was frustrated and wrestling with some writers' block for his upcoming screenplay. For such a creative boy, he is very hard on himself when he is less than 110% productive.

And now I am in bed early, with two gentle and purring tabby cats reminding me that, despite the challenging schedule in store tomorrow, life is sweet, soft and furry, nothing to be scared of and everything to enjoy.

"Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life
Thus though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run."

To His Coy Mistress - Andrew Marvell

Saturday, 17 October 2009

To Infinithree and Beyond!

Okay, so even more great news for my Pixar obsession (recently fueled by the spectacular 'Up', when we went to see a preview with the director and writer Pete Docter present), there is a new trailer out for Toy Story 3!!
Joy ...

Toy ...

Doctor Smith!!

Was filled with whoops, pride, giggles and fun today as we gathered together as a Smithy family to celebrate the graduation of my brother Matthew, who was formally awarded his PhD today in Chichester. And as expected we all said 'Dr Smith' in a silly voice many times, as per the Muppets.

Chichester seems to be a very well-to-do town, with many swanky clothes and knick-knack shops, and also many charity shops which I didn't seem to have any time to frequent. Matty seemed to be in his element, getting many whoops and whistles when the Vice-Chancellor gave him a handshake, and even starting a conversation based on that very reception.
And having woken up at 7am this morning (on a Saturday? Unheard of!) we (Charlie, Alex, Andrew and I) have had a lovely lazy evening this evening in front of X-Factor, with mulled wine and Alex and Charlie escaping from the bad music by playing Scrabble. No really, the music was abysmal, what a shock! The real problem is being aware of the contestants now, so when I see them referred to when I glance at the Metro or sneak a look at the Entertainment pages of the BBC News website, I will have a context to place it in. Argh, I just don't have time to be caring about something as vacuous as X-Factor right now.

And now the boys have put on 8mm ... not my vote, so maybe I will upload some photos from today. Doff thy hat, Dr Smith!

Friday, 16 October 2009

Medium Rare

A long day at work, a couple of Proseccos in the Hive, and now bed in anticipation of Matty's PhD graduation tomorrow. My kingdom for a lie-in! Maybe Sunday ... :)

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Skin and Hair and Cheese

Ok, so what is skin made of?? During a momentary lapse of concentration today at work, I realised I didn't know. And hair ... like hair is made of keratin (I think) ... but where does that feature on the Periodic Table? Below Helium but to the left of Xenon and Neon (the coolest elements, except Kryptonite)?

Ok, so isn't hair (and skin?) made of protein. But what is that? Amino acids (GCSE Chemistry does stay with you somewhat)? Chains of ... well ... something. Is it Carbon?

Or maybe cheese ... I do eat a lot of cheese. Answers on a postcard please.

Poppy is destroying the beanbag, for no particular reason. I am frankly envious of her bursts of energy. Bound and bound and bound ... stop ... look round excitedly ... chase tail. What a life!

Another evening of Marketing, stakeholders (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer), legal contracts and Innocent Smoothies this evening.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Stretch Target

Feeling quite exhausted after my course this evening. You know that horrible feeling when your eyes pull themselves shut irresistibly, and you desperately want to pull together any last ounce of energy possible so your teacher doesn't see your head drop onto the desk like a brick.

It was, once again, fascinating to think about how companies vie for space in a cluttered world of products and services, that attempt to address and predict the population's every last whim. But there must still be gaps in the market, for example now the nights are drawing in, where is the man in fingerless gloves roasting chestnuts by the exit at Brixton tube station??!!

So today was a day of progress and frustration, like many others. The vision of opportunity seen through a net of unprioritisable priorities.

Now once again eating soup, today with Andrew and Charlie, who are contemplating the dream and nightmare that could be buying a massive house for a group of us to invest in. Big rewards, but big challenges. All I can say is that pictures like that on Right Move make my eyes go all dreamy.

Philosophical and Smiling in the Face of Defeat

It is 8 minutes past 1am, and I successfully negotiated the Tube before it shut off to ensure I made it home before the engineers, mice and other beings started their nighttime toil on the tracks.

So, I am not the winner of the 2009 IGD Leading Light Award. I feel reassured, with hindsight conveniently on my side, that Tom was a clear, confident frontrunner all along. And, although I am mildly grumpy and vengeful in defeat, he was both a humble and entertaining winner. In fact, I could rarely have hoped for better company during what can only be called the Oscars of the Food & Grocery Industry, with Kate Silverton on the mike and Alan Dedicoat providing the overly excitable narration to proceedings.

Caught up with some 'old friends', some important new opportunities and some entertaining individuals, which helped to bounce the evening along (as well as the great food, and sumptuous chocolate desert). And, despite the significant time invested, I don't regret applying. After all, how many other development organisations have ever been shortlisted for IGD awards?!?!

So ... onwards and upwards ... a great feeling of support from colleagues and friends ... and a karmic message to spend more time driving Fairtrade forward than dallying with silly awards.

Monday, 12 October 2009

A Whole Brie

Ploughing into work this morning, I allowed myself a slight lie in to mildly offset the ridiculous work I allowed to bother me so much on Friday in France. And yet again, little irritations continue to thwart my progress towards clarity and results.

So, am spending my one free evening this week doing little jobs, washing, cooking, some marketing homework, possibly watching a little Bill Bailey while I eat my soup, "Hey Asda, I ain't gonna be your bitch!"

Norris' Mum's courgette and brie soup recipe is still a blissful discovery, especially with the whole brie that was nestled amongst the cheese collection that followed us back from La Belle France. The pinch of chilli is currently warming my cockles as I psyche myself up to writing a PESTLE analysis of the Innocent company.

Jealous? I think you are!

I find out tomorrow night, having been shortlisted into the last 4, whether I have won the IGD Leading Light Award. I am quite looking forward to an evening of indulgent food and drink. Much scarcer (quite rightly) since entering the Charity sector, but very enjoyable when it does come along.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Les Petites Vacances

Just returned from visiting Robin and Marion in France, along with Charlie, Erika and Dan. We were spoiled rotten, as you will see from the spectacular dinner display shown below (this was after a few courses, some smashing wine and lots of exploring the newly refurbished annex of Geoff and Jacqui's house, a splended gallery with four poster bed and deep red poppy theme).

Robin's house has come on so far now, a true Roman villa. I think my logical mind has completely detached from the fact that he has built the whole thing, so I am not permenantly asking "so how did you do this bit? And this bit?" He and Marion are so excited about the wedding, on the brink of such a fun event. Roll on November!

I was very grumpy on Friday, exhausted from two nights of minimal sleep, along with travel and being at the end of my new blackberry (I have now found the off switch). But this meant that the freedom of Saturday was all the more sweet, watching Charlie climb trees, visiting the china shop, and selecting stinky cheeses to intoxicate Erika and Dan's suitcase on the way home.

The lifestyle out there is so wholesome, creative, relaxed and accepting, I can't help but aspire to its Zenlike peace. I do understand that there is a time and a place for all these things, but surely there is a middle ground between France and where we (and it seems most of our friends) are, where we work, toil and strive for limited recognition and reward. Perhaps it is worth a rethink, a healthy reality check. And, as Monday looms, being confident to push back on anything that simply doesn't feel right.