Edinburgh
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Today: work then gym then PACKING again (or pretending to while surfing the web).
 
Here is the much-teased review of my Trip to Edinburgh. Much delayed as I got back last Monday and found myself in a veritable maelstrom of work. Busy busy busy. Last week I had a camera crew following me round to various meetings etc for an internal documentary my employer is making about what people here actually do. I am the only person in the organisation who does my particular job, so I think they think (optimistically) it will be of interest to others. They have finished filming now so I'm free to blog. Or work, whatever (!).
 
For the purposes of the filming I had to make a fake phone call, type a fake email, attend a fake meeting and proof read a fake press release, with a camera the size of a small car approx three feet away from my face. The "key takeaway" (/corpspeak) of this filming was the harsh realisation that I am not a natural on camera, as I had naively presumed. It seems that actually, in real life, I move with all the grace of a Thunderbird. My warm smile is a rictus grin. My flippy floppy shiny pantene hair looks like an unbrushed sloaney mess. As for the voiceover... Crikey, I sound just awful, like Minnie the Mouse doing a funeral reading. There go all my childhood dreams of becoming a Blue Peter presenter.
 
ANYWAY. On to more interesting matters - interesting to me, anyway. I had a fantastic weekend in Edinburgh with B. We arrived on Friday and spent the day wandering around to get a feel for the place. On Saturday we went up to the castle, St Giles's Cathedral and along the Royal Mile down to Holyrood Palace. Went out partying on Saturday night. Sunday we froze our nuts off in St Andrews and then went to see Slumdog Millionaire (awesome film BTW). And Monday was just more rambling round Edinburgh and a bit of souvenir shopping.
 
McHighlights were:
 
The people. Unfailingly charming, friendly and welcoming. Every single customer service experience, without exception, was a pleasure. I'm sure partly because people are a bit more welcoming to tourists in rainy January than in rammed August, but nonetheless - what a joy to be smiled at by taxi drivers and shop assistants and waiters and, well, everyone.
 
National Gallery of Scotland - adored it. My favourite was the main Renaissance section on the ground floor, particularly the Rubens and the infamous Titians. I love art galleries anyway, and this was pretty close to perfect. The collection was a nice mix of recognisable classics (The Feast of Herod, with Salome piercing the tongue of John the Baptist with her fork) and lesser known portraits of various unidentified Dutch merchants. We stopped in at the Turner watercolours exhibition too, which is only displayed in January each year in order to preserve the colours of the paintings. We had a gorgeous lunch in the cafe afterwards as well - goat's cheese tartlet with cress salad then banana bread with vanilla creme fraiche (me) and winter veg soup with chilli and creme fraiche then sticky toffee pud (B). YUM.
 
St Giles's Cathedral. Had a satisfyingly spiritual feel to it, like all good cathedrals. We particularly liked the Thistle chapel with its ornate carvings. This was Cutechapel #1 of the trip.
 
Edinburgh Castle, especially Cutechapel #2, Saint Margaret's Chapel. I would like to get married in here I think. It is 900 years old, and is tiny - just big enough for one's nearest and dearest. The stained glass is especially beautiful, all the more so for being so simple. The pic below is of the window at the end opposite the tiny sacristy, and shows William Wallace, aka Braveheart. You can just see his name in the bottom right (purple bit).
 
 
We did a bit of haggis/whisky/oatcake/fudge tasting at the Castle, which confirmed my love of the last three, but did not convert me to liking the first.
 
McNiggles (because it wouldn't be a Snoffles blog post without a niggle or two, whingey cow that I am):
 
Jenners. Was a bit disappointed by how standard-department-store this was. Same old Clinique/Clarins/Estee Lauder counters. Same old Linea concession. Slightly confusing layout in the manner of Jolly's in Bath. I did buy a cute baby gro thing for the soon-to-arrive baby of my friend R, but that was it. 
 
Lastminute.com (lastresort.com) losing our bloody hotel booking. Luckily the hotel (Apex International) was very nice and the staff extremely helpful so they soon had it sorted out.
 
Here are one or two more pics.
 
View from the top of the hill on Saturday (if you squint you can see the sea in the distance):
 
 
Edinburgh in the snow on Monday:
 
 
 
And hilariously named souvenir shop:
 


Finally, a top top top restaurant recommendation: http://www.restaurant-guide.com/outsider-restaurant-the.htm

SUCH a good dinner there and at great prices too. Go go go if you go.

All round - great trip, definitely going to go again, but this time with warmer, more waterproof shoes.

Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag and smile, smile, smile
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Today: work, then home to pack for moving.

Another very busy day at work. More shenanigans with the camera crew (I will explain this properly in my next post, too convoluted to go into). Then home to Evilcatatonichousemate studiously ignoring me while I packed up my stuff on the landing. She practically threw herself down the stairs at one point to avoid having to converse with me. So I poured a glass of milk over her bed. (JOKE.)

6 days to go, 6 days to go, 6 days to go-ho-hoooooo.

Haven't really done much packing considering I was supposed to be making an evening of it. Instead I have been re-loading my iPod, which mysteriously wiped itself last night. Bizarro, but a good excuse to trawl through all my music choices for the last 5 years and "regroup", as they say at work. Goodbye Avril Lavigne, hello Soulwax. How far I have come.

Still no Edinburgh update - must do that tomorrow.

Right, off to bed now for some verrrrymuchneeded beauty sleep. Zzzzzzzz.

SwimartlunchcomedinewithmetiredgrumpybabiesAAARGH
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Today: swimming, then Tate Modern to see the Rothko exhibition with friend Z, then late lunch with friend G and back to hers to watch Come Dine With Me marathon.

Bit of a trying day today. Had to wait 35 mins in the rain for my bus to the swimming pool, then got squashed at the Rothko as there were lots of other last-minute visitors before it closes at the beginning of Feb. Got stood up by one friend who was supposed to join us at the Tate but didn't, then my other friend was an hour late to meet me for Sunday lunch. >:(

All made worse by the fact that I was woken on the hour every hour throughout the night by Evilpersonifiedhousemate and her SIX noisyboy friends who stayed over last night (sans warning, naturellement). They were out when I got home at about ten, but they got home at about half one then stayed up with the TV on loud until about four, then took it in turns to slam doors, flush toilets, sneeze noisily outside my bedroom door etc etc until 7.15 when I gave up trying to sleep. I am so tired. SO TIRED.

This time in seven days I will be unpacking in my new, hopefully quiet, flat. Bringitonbringitonbringiton.

Had a lovely lunch out yesterday with my four boy-buddies from my old job. Lots of chat and jokes and nice wine. Feel very old all of a sudden: one is now a barrister; one's about to go to Harvard on an academic scholarship; one is planning a baby with his wife next year; and the other one's not far behind (anticipating wedding bells next year). I feel a little bit behind, being single with plans to stay put in London for now, recession permitting. But also completely freaked out at the prospect of marriage/babies. Aaaargh. Not for me, not yet. Havin far 2 much fun goin out wiv ma m8s.

Will update about Edinboro tomorrow, avec photos. Exciting stuff.

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Today: work then dinner with two friends from my old work, then home to pack for Edinburgh as I didn't get round to it last night.

Fleeting update to post a link to this very interesting article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7829114.stm

I think Nicholas Hytner must be reading my blog. Hello! *wave*

I heard you on the wireless back in '62
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Today: work then Pilates, then home to pack for Edinburgh

Time is zipping past at a rate of knots at the moment, largely because everything is so busy at work. Credit crunch my ass. Pah.

Had a nice weekend. Friday night was dinner out with B and her two boy mates (the other expected person didn't turn up). We went to the Young Vic for dinner - not at all bad, good value, and only a stone's throw from my flat which made it easy to lurch home afterwards. Plus they had lovely carafes in which to serve the wine. Always a fan of a good carafe. After dinner B had to go home, so the remaining three of us embarked upon a mini pub crawl of the Waterloo area, culminating in a magnificent karaoke performance in a sweaty old-man's pub. Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles. Wicked.

The next day I had lunch with my lovely friend K in Green Park and we wandered up New Bond Street, leche-ing les vitrines as the French say. We went into Smythson's and stroked the lovely stationery, then Penhaligon's to breathe in expensive perfume until we were dizzy. Then I trundled off to get my hair cut (just a trim, nothing drastic - I'm growing it out again).

In the evening I went out with my oldest pal G to Shoreditch. Was a bit of a random evening, involving batting away lots of sleazy men and a half an hour wait to get into the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen (one of my fave venues - if only for the freaky outfits you spot in there. Twenties tea dress? Check. Blue hair? Check. One shoe? Check.)

Anyway, we still had a great night and danced our little socks off. Then I stayed at hers, slept like a log-on-a-La-Z-Boy, and awoke to the enticing aroma of her cooking me a fry up. A-MA-ZING. We watched some crap telly, then went to the cinema to see Bride Wars (... I know. I'm not normally a romcom kinda gal but my brain was not working on Sunday).

Then home to a nice hot bath and an evening of avoiding Deathfacehousemate and her loud hilarious friend who took over the living room for the evening.

So far this week has been pretty quiet and exercise-filled - swim at Covent Garden pool aka biggest gay hangout ever on Monday, mammoth gym session last night. Pilates tonight if I get there in time. I'll have to pack for my Edinburgh weekend tonight, as I'm out tomorrow and the train is at 7.16am on Friday. GULP.

Best get back to the grindstone. Currently 42 items on my to-do list, of which approx. 41 are urgent. How my heart sings!

I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT EDINBURGH I CAN HARDLY WAIT.


Hamlet
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Today: work, singing lesson at lunchtime, then dinner with friend B and three others

Well, you'll be delighted and hugely relieved, I am sure, to learn that we did manage to get Hamlet tickets last night, against all the odds. It was a bit of a mission, involving two hours of queueueuueing in the cold (longer for my Mum), followed by frenzied negotiations with a guy selling his tickets, who I then frogmarched to the cashpoint on Shaftesbury Avenue. Then a sprint back to the theatre where we had to wait for the "latecomers entrance" :special: The tix weren't cheap either at £45 a pop. Plus I nearly had to rugby tackle an old man to the ground as he was trying to poach my tout. (Hmm, that sounds very wrong, somehow.)

BUT WE GOT IN and it was *so* worth it. The seats we ended up with were fantastic - Stalls row G - better than either of the other times I'd been to see it. You could see every nuance of expression, every bead of every costume, every fleck of spraying spit (and there were A Lot).

David Tennant was as brilliant as everyone says. I should say now that I'm not really a fan of Dr Who (not mad keen on aliens and frankly the Daleks scare me), and I've never particularly fancied DT or had any kind of special interest in him... but BOY has he got stage presence. The first sighting of him on the stage, sombre in black tie with his hair slicked back, was electrifying. Even though this was the third time I'd seen this production, and the second time with DT, his first soliloquy sent a shiver down my spine. And yes, I did just have to look up how to spell soliloquy. And no, I'm still not sure I've got it right. Anyway, he was marvellous. Kudos to the medical professionals who got him back on stage for the end of the run.

I enjoyed it every bit as much as I had previously - much more, in fact. Even sweeter because we so nearly didn't get in. Five minutes before curtain up I was still standing in the cold asking strangers/slightly weird Dr Who fans if they had any tickets to sell.

BY THE WAY, the correct response to this question, when asked by an obviously desperate theatre fan, is not "ohohohoho nooo, not likely, I bought my ticket weeks ago and I'm going to enjoy every minute of the performance." (The correct response is obviously: "yes, here, please take it. What's that? Money? I won't hear of it.")

There has been an incredible amount of hype about this production, and I have been intrigued by the number of fans who appear to flown thousands of miles to get to it (one lady I spoke to last night had come from Australia - combining the theatre trip with a holiday, but the main reason for coming was to see DT). There were also a vast number of people who had seen the production multiple times (including me), thereby depriving others of the pleasure. Strangely I don't feel that guilty about it. The quick and the dead - to quote.

Thought this article was interesting: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/dominccavendish/blog/2009/01/08/preserving_david_tennants_hamlet_for_posterity

I don't think you can ever get the full theatre experience from watching it on a screen. What would come close would be to film a performance from one of the seats in the theatre, in high definition, and watch it on a cinema screen, so that you see it in HD as if you'd been in the theatre yourself. But then - again - you'll never get that full experience, and sometimes the exclusivity of having the golden ticket is half the fun :)


New year's resolutions
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Today: work, lunch with two friends A and L, then meeting my Mum and queuing up to try and get Hamlet tickets.

I'm fairly busy at work at the moment with lots of new year announcements etc, and a couple of big projects coming up in February. I'm actually not finding it too hard to keep my head down at the moment. Maybe it's the New Year-new start feeling you always get in January.

Speaking of which, maybe I should come up with some NY resolutions.

A quick audit of my life reveals the following:

Work - not bad although could always do with a phat pay rise (likelihood of which stands at approx 0.000072%).
Family and friends - most of them are well, and all are being as lovely as ever.
Travel - trips to Edinburgh and Barcelona coming up, Thailand in April and possibly Ibiza in the summer, so basically Pretty Darn Good.
Home - absolutely dire. Evilhousemate's reign of terror continues unabated.
Health - could do with more sleep and fresh air, but that's always the case, and anyway that's what your retirement years are for.

Hmmm. I don't think any of these point blindingly to a NY resolution apart from "move house", which is a WIP.

OK here goes.

Pilates lessons. Bit of a cheat as I've already started (had my first one last night. Verdict: relaxing but cold. Must wear socks and jumper next time.)

Work harder in the morning. It always seems to take me ages to get going first thing, when all I want to do is faff about and get coffee, check personal emails, look at BBC news website for ages etc. This is then matched by a similar period of inactivity mid-afternoon. So I want to eliminate the morning slump and get busy as soon as I'm through the door.

Fritter away less money, and either save it or spend it on meaningful things instead. ie trips abroad instead of haircuts.

Do my washing at regular intervals instead of dirtying every item in my wardrobe and having to wear terrible outfit to work while everything else is in the wash.

That oughta do it I reckon.


Baby it's cold outside
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Today: coffee with new housemates, then walk to the South Bank, couple of hours in Foyle's, late lunch and walk home along the river

Very quiet weekend for me, as I can't seem to snap out of the Xmas habit of taking it eeeasy. Friday night after work I met my friend B for a coffee then mooched home for pizza and telly. On Saturday I had a (rare but awesome) bona fide duvet day complete with chocolate and DVDs, and today I finally managed to actually leave the house and get some fresh air.

Had coffee with my new housemates this morning - it went pretty well. I had only met one of them - the guy, JP - and today I met the girl, J. She's really nice and I think we'll get on well living together (...she says blithely. But PMA!). After our coffee I went and had another quick snoop round the new flat and it's just as luvverly as I'd remembered. Shiny wood floors and loads of light. There is a small wardrobe in my room too, which I'd forgotten about. Bonus!

I CAN'T WAIT TO MOVE IN. Only 27 days to go.

After that I marched down to the South Bank in Arctic temperatures, amusing myself somewhat by barging into the various couples strolling romantically/hogging the footpath along the river with arms intertwined. [/singlebitch.] Spent some nice time browsing the shelves in Foyle's but didn't buy anything. Too many books on the go already. Then I came home and am now preparing myself (both organisationally and mentally) for work tomorrow.

Evilhousemate is now back from skiing although we haven't collided yet. She has turned the heating off though. IT IS -5 OUTSIDE YOU REPTILIAN ICEQUEEN WEIRDO. I am typing in my bedroom and can practically see my breath. I have put my dressing gown on over my jeans/tights combo and woolly jumper and I Am Still Cold.

They've got a potential new tenant looking round tonight. Keep having to remind myself that it's in my own interests not to mutter "fly you fools!" at him/her. The current housemates' ad on gumtree, advertising my room, was pretty carefully worded.

Direct quote:

"If you’re looking for a very quiet and spotlessly clean place, then our flat is probably not for you ... Equally, one night might be very quiet; another night might be a little noisy because one of us gets home late. That being said, we’re always very considerate and try not to disturb each other."

Iiiiinnnnnteresting. Especially the last sentence, which, while true of Nicehousemate, is as far removed from reality as you can get for Princess Slam-a-lot. Very considerate my bum.

ANYWAY I will stop banging on about it now (until the next entry). TTFN!

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.
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Quick note. I have just realised that quite a significant proportion of the few blog posts I have made so far reference HANGOVERS. For the record, I am not an alcoholic and I do not have a drinking problem. Just wanted to be clear about that.


Drinking Problem
Tags:

Party, suffering, and a long ramble about Jonathan Creek
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Today: at work, resisting the urge to crawl under my desk for a nap.
 
GOOD MORNING ALL AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!
 
Ugh. Hope you enjoyed that exclamation mark; that's all the enthusiasm I will be mustering today. I am at work (ugh-ugh-ugh) and feeling very fragile after NYE. I went to a party at my friend A's house and crawled home at 9am, having not gone to bed. It was a fantastic party - loads of lovely people in their finery drinking champagne, then wine, then nice spirits, then disgusting neat shots of the leftover crap like Archers. We all watched the fireworks on't telly at midnight, everyone hugged everyone else, then we danced on for another eight hours. One of our friends was DJing and he did a sterling job, as always. What a great way to see in the new year.
 
Yesterday was spent on the sofa with my friend G, watching a Come Dine With Me marathon and eating random things from Costinflater like cheese n' beans on toast and Skittles, and then a curry in front of the new episode of - drum roll - Jonathan Creek.
 
Now, I should come clean here - I am a huge JC fan and I do actually own the DVD box set. Technically it belongs to my ex boyfriend but I won it in the divorce (NB not an actual divorce, just a messy split). ANYWAY the point is that I do love a bit of JC - the twists, the turns, the cheesy puns - and was mega mega excited about this Xmas special. It may be the fact that I was still feeling rough last night while watching it, but it didn't blow me away. I was about 50% satisfied I think.
 
Some observations:
 
Sheridan Smith as the new female sidekick. Hmmm. Not sure really. I think I preferred her to Carla Borego (sp? can't be bothered to check), who as a character was deeply deeply irritating, sort of like a Maddie Magellan Vista that everyone hates and can't get used to. SS was less irritating and more likeable. But still not a patch on the lovely MM I'm afraid. I wish Caroline Quentin would agree to do another one. Did she have some sort of fling-gone-wrong with Alan Davies that means she is now too embarrassed to return, I wonder? Maybe she got tired of wearing two-tone denim and maroon lippie. Or maybe she has just decided to move on from the mid nineties, unlike me.
 
Anyway, SS was ok apart from the horrific outfits she had on. I liked her hair. (/meaningfulanalysis)
 
Errrr what else. The plot. [SPOILERS.] It started out well - tale of a mansion with a haunted attic, with creepy painting on the wall, from which several people have inexplicably disappeared over the years. Cut to SS and her mate Mina in a car which breaks down late one stormy night on a lonely country road. They get rescued by this random Irish chap who takes them off to said mansion. The house's owner offers them a bed for the night. Followed by a really unconvincing scene in which Mina - who was a tad free & easy IMO - seduced the Irish fella but he lost interest halfway through, so she got in a strop and decided to just go to sleep in the attic. So, in a SHOCKING turn of events, she ends up disappearing too and somehow JC gets involved (not sure how, maybe I drifted off at that bit) and JC and SS work together to Uncover The Truth, a la Mulder and Scully.
 
[BIG SPOILER, CONSIDER YO BAD SELF WARNED].
 
The reason behind the disappearances was that the bath in the attic bathroom was on a system of pulleys and levers that drops the victim into a pool of water where they drown, then the bath pops up again completely empty, with no sign of where the person went. Ingenious! Slightly annoyingly though, JC didn't work this out right until the very end of the show, at just the moment that SS was getting into the Bath of Doom, just in time to save her.
 
Simultaneously one of the residents of the mansion is a magician with a bit of a temper who is going out with a pretty girl, who is later revealed to be cheating on him with the Irish bloke. The girl goes missing and it turns out he has bumped her off. I knew from the second he appeared on screen that he was going to be the culprit because he had A BEARD. And everyone knows that baddies can only be:
 
(1) - bearded.
(2) - British or possibly South African (usually when audience is primarily US-based).
(3) - wearing a coat made out of dalmatian skin.
 
As evilmagician was both (1) and (2) it was obvious from the get-go that he was going to be bad news really.
 
On the plus side... Alan Davies was on good form as was the blokey who plays Adam. We had some mildly funny banter about the 3D porn industry between Adam and big JC, although it was a bit "Carry On Sleuthing". Only one external shot of the windmill, from a distance - guess they couldn't get permission to film there this time.
 
The whole thing was pretty good but it really could have been fitted into an hour. It was as if David Renwick (err I mean the writer whose name I don't know because I'm not that sad) had written a one-hour special and then the Beeb had asked him to pad it to two hours. But don't think me ungrateful. I am very pleased to have JC back on our screens in all his slightly-grumpy, Converse-wearing, doesn't-he-look-different-from-when-he's-on-QI glory. 
 
OH MY GOD WHAT A GEEK I AM. I can't believe how much I have wittered on about this. This must be my longest blog post evah. That's how much I care about JC.
 
Anyway if my hungover ramblings haven't made any sense (gasp) you can see the proper BBC blurb about it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00gfk5y
 
and you can watch the actual episode on there for another week or so.
 
Quick househate update - Lovelyhousemate is at home, being lovely. Evilhousemate is off skiing somewhere. Fingers crossed for a massive avalanche no avalanches.

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