Friday, September 29, 2006

Chilli celebrity

Right now I am in the middle of making vats of chilli con carne for the Mexican Party at the rowing club tomorrow. I'm on my third batch now. People better bloody turn up. No one's actually bought a ticket yet. I've just been reserving them for people to pay on the night. Even if they don't come I think I'll make them pay. I'm also listening to latin music very loudly to get me in the mood! I'll probably be sick of it by tomorrow evening. Anyway, it's all coming together at last. Had a bit of a panic earlier in the week when only about ten tickets had been reserved, but we've got more than 30 now. Hurrah!

The celebrity part of the title is to do with my friend and her boyfriend. They're going to London tomorrow and wanted to have lunch at The Ivy (celeb restaurant extraordinaire!). They said they were very busy and she would have to go on their waiting list in case a table became available, could they take her name? She told them to take her boyfriend's name instead... Derren Brown!! (For those not in the know, Derren Brown is also a famous magician and illusionist person in the UK.) Someone from The Ivy called back a few hours later, apologising that they were on the waiting list, and now they have a table for two at 12.30pm tomorrow. Brilliant!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Travel Writers Wanted

Hurrah! I am a published travel writer. Well, sort of. It's just online. So actually it's like a blog really. But it's someone else's, and they've put my writing on there. So that's really cool! If you want to read it click here. It's about my time in Mozambique. Just about the place and the people - nothing about the work I was doing or anything like that. Quite exciting for me though.

Party On!

Friday: went for a lovely walk in Hope in the Peak District. Didn't go on the lovely walk we'd planned due to following signs to the wrong hill! But we had a very nice picnic at the top of Loose Hill, until a sheep decided to (literally) butt in and stole half of my friend's bread roll! In the evening we went to the Interval Bar at Sheffield Uni Union. It was Fresher's Week last week. I felt old. It was NINE years ago that I was a fresher at Sheffield Uni. Depressing.

Saturday: went shopping in Meadowhell and then went to a fabulous 21st birthday party (which also made me feel old!). It was for one of my (all gorgeous) cousins. Fantastic starry marquee, loads of champagne and wine, and lots of dancing. Here is a photo of me in my finest taken by my mother. As you can see, she is quite a photographer.

Sunday: not much. Slight headache. Drove home. Mum and dad gone to the States.

Monday: back to work - freelancing for three days a week. I don't think it'll be too bad. It's a bit dull, but the people are nice. I just can't believe they're paying me as much as they are for what I'm doing.

Tuesday: not working tomorrow. Must sort out other aspects of my life. Plus have a great idea for a diary...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Baggy & Tottie

These lovely doggies are Lottie (on the left, or on the right in the photo of them together) and Tag (on the right). Tag has since had a haircut.

Get Well Soon Hamster

Poor little Hamster. Richard Hammond, cute Top Gear presenter, had a mega mega crash yesterday. Possibly going up to 300mph in a jet car. He was critically ill last night, but now it's seriously ill, so I hope he is on the mend. Apparently he was conscious when they got him to hospital. Get Well Soon Hamster!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I'm a believer!

Just did one of those personality type tests. It was on Jobsite. According to the 15 question test, I am a BELIEVER. Which apparently means:

As a Believer you believe the world has almost infinite possibilities. You believe people should be pursuing their passions and not be caught up by what others say they should desire. Your entire life involves continuously having new experiences and learning from them. It is the challenge, the risk, the prospect of what you can achieve that drives you, rather than simply making money. You're a self-motivated individual driven by your passion and so need a job and environment with loose boundaries and maximum freedom.

Which I guess some of is kind of true.

Another matter... men. How am I going to meet any? I've been in Norfolk for four years now and have actually met one guy I fancied, and even him I wasn't that bothered about until he turned on the charm offensive and made me feel wanted, even if it was only for all of about a month. Then he got bored, or maybe I scared him off, or whatever. But he led me on for a very long time (coward). I'm totally over that whole 'thing' now. Thinking about it reasonably, we weren't even that well matched - he's all a bit too non-spontaneous, career-focused, scared of heights, allergic to seafood and wool, and doesn't seem to do foreplay for me. It's all his fault I liked him. So he can't complain, he brought it on himself. But he's still being a bit of an arse to be honest. We get (well, we did get) on really well as friends - lots to chat about, similar backgrounds - but he's just being a knobhead with no knob and still thinks I fancy him I reckon. He has to get over himself. Do I really want to be friends with someone like that? I probably shouldn't. But it's quite a small world around here and it would be easier to be friends than not. Plus I like being friendly.

He has a new girlfriend now (all of a sudden he's 'over' the ex - an excuse to me. So he's a liar too. Not that I'm bitter - I just haven't been able to vent at him at all cos he's too self-obsessed to see me!). She looks like Portia de Rossi. The blonde, skinny, lesbian who used to be in Ally Macbeal and now goes out with Ellen. Obviously she's not a lesbian. And she's not skinny, just slim and petit. And cliche of cliches - she's a cox at the rowing club (albeit still at uni, so young too). In fact, she's a lot of things he used to say he didn't like. Hypocrite as well! I do know her though. And she's all right. Very middle-class, mummy and daddy give her a Very nice allowance, doing a law degree but wants to go into fashion PR in London, they go on holiday to Rock for f**k's sake! I did see it coming a mile off. Ha! Predictable too!

Wow, I love having a blog. I can rant all I want and surely no one cares?!

Anyway, back to the man thing - I think I have to go to London. My cousin's just moved there and is currently dating three (very different) guys and loving it. I just looked on My Single Friend and there are some fit guys on there. Just can't reconcile myself to the whole internet dating thing yet. Possibly because at the moment I'm near a small city - people would know. Whereas London's huge and none of my best friends there are single so they wouldn't know/care. Hmmmm...


Today I am bored. I read an article in The Guardian on Saturday about being bored. It's a modern affliction. Well, ish. Some of the writing in the article was a bit poncy for me, but it was interesting, especially considering my current state of being-at-home-ness and having no job. Although I will be doing three days a week freelance PR for five weeks starting on Monday. I'm kind of looking forward to it. At least I won't have to be thinking of something to keep me busy, it'll be there for me on a plate.

I'm bored, because everyone else is busy. All my friends are busy. I was writing in my diary in Mozambique about how life goes on. People say they'll miss you, which is a nice thing to say. But generally they don't, because modern life is too busy. And you might have moments of boredom. But there's always something to do. And so life goes on. And you forget about people. Or at least momentarily. And it's never really the same again.

To completely distract from that moment of 'melancholy', here is another cute photo of Beetle.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Spooky Spooks

Ooh, MORE strife in the world - a government coup in Bangkok. A friend of mine is supposed to be going on holiday there in a month... Spooks (new series started on Sunday) was playing close to the bone again (storyline about a government coup in the UK). I still can't believe they killed Colin.


I am feeling quite virtuous right now... went for a 5k run, 10-minute ergo, 1-mile swim this evening! I really really need it though. I have put on over 6kg in the the last two months. It is depressing. I measured my waist this afternoon. It's increased in size by FOUR inches. How bad is that? I have to control my constant-throughout-the-day eating at home thing. And get back into serious exercising again. I am going to train for the British Indoor Rowing Championships. Mustn't forget to fill out the entry form actually... My last 2k ergo time is good enough to put me halfway up the lightweight women's field. Not that I'm lightweight at the moment.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fun with treadmills

On another note, this video is brilliant! I found it on You Tube the other day. And then realised it was an actual music video. Fantastic treadmill dancing choreography (apparently by a sister of one of the band members)! The band's called OK Go. The song's called Here It Goes Again. Brilliant!

What Is The World Coming To?

So, glancing at news headlines today there are major things going on in:

* Sudan - possibility of mass genocide if African Union troops pull out of the country and UN troops aren't allowed in. But already at least 200,000 people are estimated to have died and more than two million displaced during the three-year conflict.

* Iraq - same old stuff. Bombs, terrorists, suicide bombers, etc, etc.

* Afghanistan - same old stuff. Bombs, terrorists, suicide bombers, etc, etc.

* Somalia - bomb outside the parliament, but the president's not killed.

* Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Zimbabwe...

What's going on? Why does everyone seem set on killing people? Making people's lives a misery? Blah blah blah blah blah. And then you can go somewhere and be completely oblivious to all of it. And some people don't even care. But really there's just too much going on and too many people not thinking.

Friday, September 15, 2006

I like the way you mooooove!

Cool demo on the BioMotionLab website about how just by seeing a few points of a person's body lit up you can tell a lot about them. Interesting. A friend of mine is studying psychology (after doing ancient history first time around!) and told me about it. She's into the science of happiness. A very worthwhile thing to study I think. And I'm sure she'll write a best-selling self-help book before too long.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Fly so high up into the sky

Just heard from an old friend of mine I grew up with. She's in South Africa working as a drop pilot at a skydiving centre. She's one of those really cool people who just goes out and does stuff. I think that's so great. I'm trying to be more of a doer too. I think it just makes life more interesting. Who wants to be predictable? She's so lucky that she's found something that she loves doing though... flying. And it is lucky, as she didn't plan it. She worked at a small airfield near where we grew up and then just ended up learning how to fly in her lunch hour pretty much. Well, I guess luck and a sense of adventure and openness to trying to new things.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cookies and stuff

Today I have mostly been doing not much. I just made the most amazing banana milkshake ever. And have been pottering on the computer. But apart from that, zilcho (is that a real word? I doubt it).

Anyway, another recipe that I really like... Phoebe's Fabulous Oatmeal Raisin Cookies! I wanted to make oatmeal raisin cookies cos they're my favourite (at the moment) and I found this recipe in loads of places, including the blog a Spoonful of Sugar. I took the recipe from there. It's originally from 'Cooking with Friends' apparently. I made a couple of additions to the recipe.

Phoebe's Fabulous Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

175g butter
160g firmly packed light brown sugar
130g white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (and don't ever lick the spoon by mistake - it tastes disgusting!)
170g rolled oats
160g plain flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp bicardonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon (my addition)
A pinch of salt
200g raisins (or mix up the dried fruit for variations - I did raisins and dried cranberries the other day)
Milk to bind (also my addition)

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F, or bottom of top over in the Aga, or Gas Mark 5 apparently).

Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl mix up the oats, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt. Pour into the butter/sugar mixture and mix together. Then add the raisins. You might also need to add a bit of milk to make the mixture a bit more sticky.

Make walnut sized (ish) dough balls and put onto an ungreased baking sheet with 2" spaces between the balls.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet for a little while before transferring to a rack.

Mine were a little bit crunchy round the edges and quite soft in the middle and tasted just as good the next day. Yummy. Oh, and no photo again. I am rubbish. They did look a lot like the ones on a Spoonful of Sugar though. Honest.

Other stuff:
* Bracken and baby Beetle are still cute (Bracken is mum's fluffy lawnmower, Beetle is her first foal). Here's an arty photo of them...

* Lottie and Tag the wire-haired fox terriers are still cute (Tag is Lottie's mum, I think she's feeling her age a bit as we had to pull her out of the river the other day when we took them to cool off). Here's a picture of them at the river...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Chocolate chilli cake

I said I'd probably put some recipes on here, and here's the first one from a food blog called Chocolate & Zucchini. I'm helping to organise a Mexican Fiesta Party as a social for the rowing club. Actually, I've done most of the organising so far. Anyway, I wanted to do something a bit different for pudding, remembered having some chilli chocolate sometime, and did a Google search for chocolate chilli cake knowing that there's everything on the internet and sure enough up came a few recipes. This one appealed. I've made it twice now - once yesterday with cocoa powder instead of chocolate and quite mild chilli powder (ok, but not greatand there wasn't much of a kick from the chilli at all), and once today with scrummy organic chocolate and hotter chilli powder. It's actually really nice - a little bit gooey in the middle, you taste the chocolate and then your mouth starts to feel warm from the chilli! Here's the recipe...

Chocolate Chilli Cake

200g butter (I've been using normal butter, but apparently unsalted is better)
200g good-quality dark chocolate
250g sugar
5 eggs (at room temperature)
1 rounded tbsp self-raising flour
2 tsp chilli powder (quite strong chilli otherwise you won't taste it, and you can add a bit more)

I just used a greased loaf tin, or baking tray, but you could also do it in bun tins to make mini 'bites' as on Chocolate & Zucchini.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°c (400°F) or, if you're lucky enough to have a lovely Aga where you are (like I am at my mum and dad's house), just use the bottom of the top oven.

Melt the butter and the chocolate in a small pan over a low heat. Transfer into a mixing bowl, add the sugar, mix well with a wooden spoon and allow to cool a little bit. Add the eggs one by one, mixing well with the spoon after each addition. Add the self-raising flour and chilli powder and mix well.

Pour the mixture into whichever cakey tin you're using and put into the oven to bake for about ten minutes (you need to keep an eye on it though). The top should look cooked - there should be some spring-back - but not so well done that it's totally dried out! The inside should still be soft.

Turn out onto a rack to cool (unless in a baking tray - cut into pieces after it's cooled for a little bit and put the pieces on the rack)...

Chocolate & Zucchini lady says to refrigerate in a plastic container and take out an hour before serving, but nothing ever lasts that long in this house. I'll do that for the party though. I forgot to take a photo before we ate half of it, so I'll have to try and remember photograph the ones from the social... I also think I might serve the cake hot with creme fraiche or something like that.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Wanderer Returns

So, I've been away for a while and even though I know only about two or three people have ever read my blog I thought I'd write a little update on my life, just to practise my writing skills... or something.

Well I guess quite a lot has happened since I last wrote about ski instructors and online shops. I'm back at my parent's house. I have no job. The sun is shining.

To the no job thing - I quit in July. That's nearly four years in the same place. Not bad for me. Just felt like forcing myself to do something different - it was 'comfortable' there, but I wasn't really enjoying the work on most of my clients. Anyway, I quit (all very amicable) and went to Mozambique. For five weeks. Quite random, I know. I was right in the north in the Quirimbas National Park working on a fair trade eco-lodge. It was in a totally gorgeous location. Right on the Indian Ocean. I don't think I'll write about it all now, cos I'd be here for ages, but I worked Really hard. I had two days off in the whole time. BUT I did get to go diving, and visit Rolas Island and Ibo Island and meet some really nice and some really interesting people. I took loads of photos. This is one of my favourite ones...

I got back three weeks ago tomorrow. Then had three days in the UK before heading off to France for the Dragon Gold Cup in Douarnenez. Was a great week. AND we managed to come 30th in our last race (out of more than 100 boats), which is pretty good considering 20+ boats had professional crew on board and we had never sailed as a four before (it used to be 'illegal' - three crew only - but now you can do it if you're under the weight limit of 285kg). We were actually the first four-man crew in a Dragon Gold Cup!

There is a really cool island just off Douarnenez called Tristan Island. Well, there are two cool buildings and a lighthouse. I really want to buy it and do up the houses. They are crying out for refurbishment. I would LOVE to do it. Unfortunately, I'd probably need at least £1M to do it. But it would make a great hotel. So if someone reads this who has loads of money (and good taste), please please buy it and make it gorgeous.

So the thing now is... what to do next?! I seriously have no clue. I have business ideas coming out left, right and centre. But no direction. No experience. No real passion. It's difficult. Oh, and also no money. Mustn't forget that one. So at the moment, I keep coming up with ideas... and I've started my first film script (an adaptation of a chick lit book) just to see if I can do it... and I might have to do some freelance work... and I've realised I really like photography and baking. So don't be surprised if this blog morphs into a sort of foodie one. With photos.