People. Urgh.

After attending the Annual Bloggers Bash on Saturday, The Bloke and I decided to stay overnight and travel back to Birmingham the following day. We’d got up, had breakfast, went to Chiswick House really early in the morning with Shelley as neither of them had seen it and then made our way back up to Euston to catch the train home. The Bloke surprised me with First Class tickets, and after the post-Royal-Wedding madness I was enormously grateful not to have to battle with my massive bag and the epic amounts of people all trying to get a seat. It was a real treat – something that we’ve only ever done once before on a different train service. We got ourselves settled and comfortable and I started writing up my Bash post on my phone with the intention of loading it up later. It had been a really nice morning, but I was shattered and looking forward to getting home. Continue reading

Advertisements

A Smile For £4.60

imageIt’s a muggy, dreary day and I’m on a train up to Manchester to spend the weekend with the family, as its my sister’s birthday. We’re off to the same place we went to for Mother’s Day, so I’ve got some lovely food waiting for me this afternoon, but rather selfishly I’m looking forward to catching up on some sleep.

Normally at this ridiculous time in a morning, the train is quiet. However, today I’ve been treated to a group of loud, obnoxious students who are returning home after a night out in Birmingham. It was clear from their conversation that they had deliberately stayed up all night and waited for the train because they didn’t want to pay a £15.00 taxi fare, and loudly shared with the rest of the carriage the tickets that they had bought and what a rip-off local taxi companies were, interspersed with how hard they have worked this week. Fascinating.

However, when the train manager came to check the tickets, it became obvious that they had got the wrong ones, and after a lengthy debate the conceded that they would all have to pay a further £4.60 each, which in total came to £27.60, nearly double what they would have had to pay for a taxi. They were obviously quite gutted about it, and while I almost felt sorry for them, I couldn’t help but smile to myself after listening to their obnoxious ramblings for the last twenty minutes.

I’m a bad person for finding this amusing.

What about you guys? How has your week been?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks and my Pinterest page: http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks

 

Hope For Change? Why I Voted Today

image

Is it more of a case of voting for the best of a bad bunch?

Politics was always an important issue in my childhood home. My father was a local councillor, lots of our family friends were local politicians and as soon as I turned eighteen it was insured that I was registered to vote. During my first General Election vote, I was marched to the Polling Station as soon as it opened.

I have voted in every election since, because I can. A hundred years ago, women fought and gave their lives so I could have the right to do so. I’m lucky to live in a democracy of sorts, and I truly believe that this is one of the only situations in life where my voice is considered to be as valued and as equal as everyone else’s, regardless of economic standing, race, religion and beliefs. Most importantly, I vote because the people that we elect do have the power to make a genuine difference to the lives that we lead, be it positive or negative, and I want to be able to have a say in that, however small my voice may be.

During the last election I unwittingly assisted the government in forming a coalition, the leader of the party that I voted for went back on everything that he had promised during his campaign, and during the last few years the Education Secretary for the coalition has single handedly been allowed to destroy the profession that I work in. The country is in a mess. Budget cuts has resulted in the closure of local councils, fewer police, NHS staff and resources, Bedroom Tax has forced thousands of people to leave their homes, there are hundreds of thousands of people living on the street while houses are left uninhabited, students are having to put themselves into thousands of pounds worth of debt to be able to go to university, and nearly a million people used food banks last year to support their families.

image

Even the kids are sick of hearing it…

This year, I faced a dilemma. I want someone to represent me that has an understanding of what real life is actually like. I want my government to have extensive experience and knowledge in the area that they are responsible for. I want to be told the truth in simple, straightforward sentences. I want someone that is strong, who is trustworthy, competent, and who genuinely has the interest of the British public at the forefront of everything that they do. Unfortunately, in my opinion, there isn’t a single party leader that demonstrates these qualities. Of all of the candidates, there isn’t one of them that I have respect for, or a faith in any of them that they will make a positive difference. For me, politics is more about words, image and one – upmanship rather than action. No question is ever answered directly, sentences littered with buzz words and statistics that are designed to confuse the subject have replaced a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. Nobody ever accepts responsibility or wants to be accountable for their actions, instead preferring to blame the opposition (or unbelievably, immigrants in the case of one party) for the fact that they are incompetent at their job.

The question is, how do you vote for someone that you believe to be the best of a bad bunch?

I always put time into being as knowledgeable as I can about the different party manifestos, but this time I have looked a little more closely at my local candidates and made my decision based upon that, as well as the big picture. I may not have faith, but I have hope – hope that my vote won’t be wasted, hope that things will change for the better.

Ultimately, and most importantly, I hope that British public take note from the Scottish Independence Referendum last year with their 85% turnout, and exercise their right to vote today…

 

A Beautiful Story To Make You Smile: There’s Still Hope For Humanity!

Axani and Gallagher in Bangkok

Axani and Gallagher in Bangkok

I hate watching the news. The world seems to be an increasingly violent and depressing place and each new day brings stories of cruelty, hatred and injustice that leave me feeling helpless and in despair of humanity. However, every so often I will see a story that reminds me that there are still wonderful people out there…

Last year, Canadian Jordan Axani and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Gallagher, booked a three week round-the-world vacation for the Christmas holidays, but then they broke up before the trip took place. However, instead of letting the spare ticket go to waste, Jordan turned to Reddit in an attempt to find another Canadian girl with the same name as his ex who was willing to join him. Asking for nothing in return, his criteria was simple:

1. Be sane, smart and (hopefully) interesting.

2. Have always wanted to travel, but maybe haven’t had the opportunity or cash to see much of the world.

3. Be named Elizabeth Gallagher and have a Canadian passport.

4. Be ready for a rather spontaneous life experience that will, one day, be an epic story that you’ll tell your kids.

5. Pay it forward. I’ve been lucky in life and this is me giving back to the universe. Do something similar today.

The story went viral, Axani received thousands of applications and the lucky recipient was a 23 year old student, Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher, from Nova Scotia. Gallagher, who has a boyfriend (apparently he wasn’t hugely impressed with her plans to spend Christmas with a complete stranger), initially thought the idea was a little crazy, but was quickly put at ease by Axani in a number of conversations over the phone. They met in the airport departure lounge at Toronto on 21st December and visited eight different places – New York, Milan, Venice, Prague, New Dehli, Khao Lak and Hong Kong, before returning on the 8th January. Because Axani stopped planning the trip further when he and his ex broke up, there were no hotel rooms booked, but when Marriott International heard about it, they provided separate rooms at each stop of their journey.

Paris

Paris

New York

New York

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

It seems that they developed a great friendship, joking on their return about Axani’s fear of heights and Gallagher’s frequent ability to get lost, they had a wonderful time and I’m pleased for them both.

However, the beauty of the story doesn’t stop there. Axani was inspired by incredibly touching message that he received from and eight year-old boy who was losing his sight and wanted to see the world before he lost his vision completely, and has now set up an charity organisation with his brother called A Ticket Forward to help people travel but don’t have the money.

What a wonderful story, created by a kind and generous person. Perhaps there is hope for humanity after all!

If you wish to make a donation to A Ticket Forward, simply click this link

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

The WordPress Community Experiment: The Answers!

In August I decided to do a little experiment involving members of the WordPress community. I asked a series of seven questions and invited anyone and everyone to respond, regardless of whether they followed Suzie81 Speaks or not. I had done a similar experiment the year before with great success, and as my community has grown since then I thought it would be an interesting way to get to know fellow bloggers. While I expected some sort of a response, I didn’t expect the enormity of the amount of answers I received, generating HUNDREDS of individual answers to my questions. In order for me to be able to include everyone, I have had to limit it to just one answer per blogger. I haven’t compiled it in order of preference, but I have tried to include an interesting answer from each person, complete with a link to their blog if it is still available. I think you’ll agree that the responses I received are emotive, witty and offer a small insight to the variety of bloggers that exist within the WordPress world.

It’s a lot of reading, but here is a pre-made blog party for you where you can go and check out all the blogs that participated.

Editors note: If I have accidentally missed you out, please let me know and I’ll link you asap!

ned-stark-blog
1. How did you create the title for your blog?

I thought of two iconic things from where I come from and where I live now ie Scotland and New Zealand, hence Thistles and Kiwis (Thistles and Kiwis)

The DMB song “Grey Street” described my life spectacularly at the time. (Georgia Mom)

It was the name of the website that I created during my Ph.D. (which I have quit since then). Originally it was Science Fiction, Media and Fandom, but evolved into Science Fiction, Transmedia and Fandom as I did more research work. Save for gender studies, it reflects my main fields of work as an independent researcher, writer and public speaker (Natacha Guyot)

It seems like everything I say is part of a bad conversation. So every post is Another Bad Conversation. (Another Bad Conversation)

Telling the Truth. It describes in three words what I’m doing in the blog. I’m telling the truth (for the first time) about how I was groomed to be a victim, how that affected me as a child, young adult, wife/mother and professional, and what it took to survive and thrive. (Telling the Truth)

I came up with the name while talking with people at work. They kept calling me Bitter Ben because of all the complaining I would do at work. They said I should start a blog about all things I was bitter about. The natural extension Ben’s Bitter Blog. (Ben’s Bitter Blog)

It’s based on a old episode of M*A*S*H (Apple Pie and Napalm)

Special Needs children are referred to as Exceptional, and I live in Delaware, so my blog is for all the Exceptional people in Delaware, children, teens and adults! (Exceptional Delaware)

My ex was stalking me on here.  I needed to come up with a name he wouldn’t associate with Kate.  My 11 year old son came up with the name FlippyZipFlop, and I decided to keep it.  Professional looking?  Absolutely not.  However, it makes him a part of my daily writing, so I’ll continue to keep it. (FlippyZipFlop)

peanuts-blogging-advice-770x433

2. What’s the one bit of blogging advice you would give to new bloggers?

Pace yourself in blogging. Set a schedule. You can write as much as you like, but you don’t have to post it all as you complete it unless it is a time sensitive subject. I border on burnout daily, hourly. (Ronovan Writes)

You won’t get 100,000 views on your first blog post. You will start off small, but regular, interesting posts, full of passion will generate traffic. You will meet other incredible bloggers too, there to support you and provide you with advice. (A Reflective Student)

Once you figure out what your theme is, you have to remember it each and every time you post. I can’t write about fashion and celebrity in my blog unless I can find a creative way to bring it back to health and Dr. Oz’s advice. (The “Whiz-ard” That is Dr. Oz)

Participate, participate, participate. In whatever you like and where your preferences go, from Weekly Photo Challenges, Daily ones, Writing ones, all sorts of challenges other bloggers do… You will find benefits are triple, you craft your talent and things you are passionate about, you meet other people who are interested in same stuff and others see your work. (Ivy Mosquito)

My advice would be to write with passion. Write about your passions, because if you’re not having fun writing, then you will feel burnt out quickly. Also, make sure to read as many blogs as possible. This will help you meet other bloggers and help you become a better blogger (Humyn)

Be true to yourself and don’t try to cater to others. (Richard Ankers  The Writings)

Blogging is about community, about sharing, and about learning. Enjoy the process and making new friends! (Writing Rachael Ritchley)

Just be yourself and don’t worry so much about the naysayers… If you put out genuine posts then stand behind them. (Valley Girl Gone Country)

Get a thick skin. In the infidelity blogs it’s dangerous. You show your pain and hurt and you get people who did the same things to other people, be they cheating spouses or their third parties, who come in and insult you or patronise you and try to make you feel you caused it, or you should do (insert self serving course that let’s them off the hook). Well, screw that. You have to be strong enough to stick to your voice and not be hurt by them. I’m sure trolls hurt bloggers even on less sensitive topics, so the thick skin is my best advice. (Writes Itself)

say-what

3. What is the strangest experience you’ve ever had?

Working at in Int’l border crossing and a naked man walked in and asked my supervisor for a cigarette and a light, then walked back out into the rain… We all just stared as each of us was speechless. (Annette Rochelle Aben)

When I worked in another city, I found out my “twin” (the one they say you always have) worked in the same building. For a year, we had fun taunting and fooling those who knew us. (Mary J. Melange)

Strange doesn’t really happen to me…stupid, yes, all the time, but not strange so much. The strangest thing that’s happened might be my mother picking out my husband nearly a decade before we got married. (Somber Scribbler)

Being knocked out by an electric potato peeler and waking up thinking I was in heaven because this beautiful lady was looking down at me. (Hugh’s Views and News)

The day my Father in Law asked me to do him a manicure and pedicure. He had never had one and saw me doing my own. It felt a bit odd and it did take me aback when he asked. He passed away that night, a heart attack in his sleep. I always wondered if he ‘knew’… (CeeJayKayFit)

During the last month of my pregnancy I was on full bedrest due to concerns about pre-eclempsia and it was the height of summer in the DC Metro area so the windows were shut tight with the AC on full blast.  During that last month periodically I would start to smell my grandmothers Snickerdoodles (which she made me every year for my birthday) or her perfume (Heaven Scent) – my grandmother had passed away a few years earlier.  My son, The Boy of Terror (BoT) talks about her now and about her snickerdoodles (Masala and Blarney)

It involved a sleepless night, Apples to Apples, some lab goggles, my eventual detainment and a supposed ban from WalMart nationwide. Try not to re-live it. (Permashift)

Being surrounded by the SBI and law enforcement and soldiers and things while innocently exploring a cooling tower at a nuclear power station. It turns out that just because the front gate is open does not mean that you’re welcome to visit. (This was before 9/11 or things would have probably been even stickier than they were.) (Nerd in the Brain)

I was 16 and some random guy proposed to me at the library. He also asked me if he could meet my father to ask for my hand in marriage. I just looked him up and down and walked away. Btw he wasn’t joking … (Nuuray)

I had taken a $20 bill, in singles, and left them all in a family Dollar store as  Random Act of Kindness. About a week later, a woman handed me a $20 dollar bill in the dressing room, in my yoga studio, saying – “You must have dropped this because there was no one else there.” Astoundingly weird! (Lavender Reflections)

On my blog or in life? In life, setting the garbage truck on fire is probably the strangest that my wife will let me talk about in public. It’s a long story so you gotta find that on my blog. (Parnassus Musings)

If we’re talking about overall, probably the time I was kidnapped, robbed, molested, tied up, and left for dead by 4 Guatemalans in the jungle in Belize on the first full day of my honeymoon. I wanted to go to DisneyWorld. (O Pie-oneers!) EDITORS NOTE: WHAT!!!!

 

7df85a0450bf5195abf05fcf846f83315483f8026ef89dd866a7e7660aa4417f

4. What is the best thing that anybody has ever said to you?

My boyfriend said to me once “We will both grow old and let’s face it, not look youthful and fabulous any more. But you have wonderful personality so you will always be the most beautiful person in the world to me.” (I Follow Islands)

I had a meeting with Dr. Dre about the possibility of his buying my bank robbery script. He told me, “You are one sick mother$%^&*” and that’s the coolest compliment I’ve ever received about my writing. And it was from Dr Dre! (The Return of the Modern Philosopher)

The executive director at work (large, worldwide organization) wrote the following statement on his well-read blog last year (about me managing the internal communications blog) — and he’d never done that before or after about anyone else. “… If you ever get the chance to meet Diane XX, please thank her and give her some feedback. She is amazing and we are lucky to have someone like her as a part of our team. Her enthusiasm and desire to help is second to none.” That had to be the high point of my working life! (Thoughts, Tips and Tales)

My mum. Just a few weeks before she died. I stayed over night with her in hospital and she woke up the next morning and said: “how lovely that I open my eyes and the first thing I see is you” (Carol’s Learning Curve) EDITORS NOTE: THIS MADE ME CRY.

I once went out with my version of The World’s Most Interesting Man and he said I reminded him of Ireland. This guy absolutely loved his trips to Ireland and he has been everywhere and went on to explain how I remind him of his favorite place. It was very, very smooth of him. So, I replied with well that sucks because I’m Scottish Welsh. (Winter Bayne)

”The world needs more people like you”, (my grandfather) (A Blonde Brain)

I have a husband who says lots of wonderful things—probably far more than I deserve. I think, though, that the day a student came in and told me that she got into nursing school and thanked me for helping her with her application was one of the best moments I’ve had—it was a moment of really seeing that what I do really and truly affects other people. (Part Time Monster)

My son telling me that he was finally feeling OK, months after his depression hit its lowest point last year. Being told “I love you”,  sincerely, by someone you love is also a nice thing to hear. (Not a Punk Rocker)

This is a toughy. One time before I got married to Mrs. Fearless Leader, her daughter (now MY little girl too) came up to me while I was washing dishes and asked, “Toby? Would you be my Daddy?” It’s pretty hard to top that. (Dumbass News)

November 22nd, 2009 @ 15:41:23

5. When presented with a time machine, which one time and place would you visit?

My teenage self to warn against making major life decision based on love for the wrong me (tenderness on the block)

Middle Europe at the end of the last Ice Age, right after the eruption of the Laacher See
volcano (Germany) 12900 years ago. (A Neat Street)

Piazza Maggiore in Bologna on VE Day at End of World War ll. (A.K.Andrew Writer’s Notebook)

Most definitely pioneer days. I’d be on one of those Conestoga wagons heading off for new adventures out West. (misterio press)

Any time during the life of Gene Kelly or Frank Sinatra. I absolutely adore them both and would worship the group that Gene Kelly walked on if he was still alive! (New Teacher Life)

I would go back and see The Beatles in concert in 1963 or 1964. I was too young to have seen them. (Vintage Rock)

I’d travel into the future to see if we ever terraform Mars. Then start quoting Total Recall; ”Are you crazy? I don’t even know anything about Mars!” (One Man’s Adventures in the Big Wide World)

I would go to a place near Moscow (Russia) to 1974 and play badminton with my dear friend Yury (he passed away in 1976 when he was only 42 years old). (Pursuit of Happiness)

I’m more of a “never look back” person. I try to live in the moment and learn from each experience. While it is tempting to ponder time travel to an early time in my own life, and maybe tweak a few things, I would refrain. You always have to go through the dark to get to the light. If I was thinking about it from a historical perspective, there are so many times I would love to visit, mostly during the 20th century. The world went through so many dramatic changes. It would be fascinating to experience things first hand. Specifically, I would visit the 1940s. Politics, war, fashion, music. It was an important time. (Steps Times Two)

04-baby-names-meme

6. If you had to pick a new first name, what would you choose?

Well, my first name is pretty cool. If I just had to change it, I’d go with Cesare and insist on the correct pronunciation. (Sourcerer)

Duke, because of a chance encounter I had with John ‘Duke’ Wayne which ended with him asking me to wear his nickname as a thank you for a service I was able to render him. (dukea98)

I’m named for my grandfather. There isn’t another name in the world I’d like better. (Old Road Apples)

I absolutely can’t think of any other first names I’d like because I’ve taught so many girls over the past 43 years and probably have memories of all of them. (How Can I Control My Class?)

Years ago, when I was working as a psychic, I was advised to be a one-name psychic and that Jennifer is not my name. I chose Rachael. After 14 years of not using that name, I am using it again. I truly am Rachael, not Jennifer. The name never suited me. Makes me think of a leggy blonde with biceps. Rachael is the Earth Goddess.  (A Little Fluff)

I’d like to have the first name Éilís which is Irish for my real name. It rhymes with ‘I wish’ when pronounced correctly. It’s unusual and a traditional link to my heritage. (Green Lizard’s Blog)

Probably the name of some literary character given that I named my daughter after the heroine in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. (Parent Your Business)

Hmmm, that’s a tough one. Maybe something like super or amazing or uncanny. Incredible, astonishing, spectacular…. well you get the point. I might even need a cool costume made of spandex. I would need to go on a workout binge first though. (JED’s Playhouse)

9c6ca3b849d9b04f86e09a88e592894a472700f7a03436cdb0948367426dd6cd
7. If you were a ‘B’ Movie, what would it be called?

Decent People Also Succeed. (ashokbhatia)

If it’s the 1950’s campy invader type, it’d probably be something like “Revenge of the Lab Wererat”.  If it could include late ’70s and ’80s sci-fi and comic book movies, it might be “Song of the Stars”. (the tao of jaklumen)

Close Encounters of a Would-Be Reporter! (Thoughts By Mello-Ello)

Frenzy of the Sleepless Zombie Mama vs Mutant Laundry Pile of Doom (Barb Taub)

The Day It All Went Weird. (Manchester Flick Chick)

Starship Captains Don’t Wear Dresses. When I was a kid, they said that would be the name of my biopic. (Things Matter)

Indecisive Decisiveness (though, that may run the potential of becoming an art film…) (Ecclectic Alli)

Estrogen Overload…I have four daughters who are 21, 20, 18 and 15. Good times!!! (greatsnaps, goodtimes and me)

“My Time Is Now” and its sequel “Damn, That Was Fun!” (Butterfly Sand)

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: A special thank you to Gene’O and his blogs, including Sourcerer Blog who posted all of the links onto a Pinterest board.

Interested in seeing all of the answers in full? Visit the original post here and read on!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @Suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

Image Credits

Game of Thrones: zipmeme

Peanuts: manovotny.com

Xibit: troll.me

Polar Bear: makeameme.com

Delorean: hdw.eweb4.com

Baby: currentbuzz.my

Futurama: quickmeme.com

Overheard Conversations

image

think.bigchief.it

Warning: adult (and stupid) content.

“Are you still with ____?’

A young man was smoking a cigarette with a group of his friends in the beer garden this evening. He was shivering in just his T Shirt and jeans in the cold wind, and he turned round to see a girl standing behind him. He seemed angry.

“What? Me?”

The girl took a step towards him and pointed at him.

“Yeah, are you still with ___?”

He obviously wasn’t in the mood for an argument, so he turned his back on her and ignored her.

Bad decision. She moved around so that she was facing him.

“I’ve lost all respect for you mate. You’re with ____ and now you’re messing about with that silly sl*g? You haven’t even seen her for months! Who do you think you are?”

My friend and I had stopped talking by this point, distracted by what was happening behind us. The woman stormed off. The man shrugged it off and laughed. They all went back inside and my friend and I continued our conversation. A few minutes later, the same man and an obviously drunk woman came outside. She had her arms tightly around his neck and I got the impression that he was a little uncomfortable and was trying to push her off.

“I love you. You’re beautiful. You’re a beautiful man. We’re meant to be together. I love you, I love you, I love you. I’m sorry I kicked you out. We’re meant to be together you and me. I’ve not seen you for four months. I’ve never loved anyone like you. You know what we’re going to do tonight? We’re going to go home and sh*g. I’m going to sh*g you like there’s no tomorrow. And then we can be together for the rest of our lives. Me and you. I’m sorry I kicked you out…”

She then started singing the chorus of Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ repeatedly. He went back inside and her friend came out to check that she was ok. The drunk girl carried on ranting.

“I can’t believe I’ve seen him again after all this time. I love him so much. I’ve been thinking about him all this time and now he’s here.” She then proceeded to share what she intended to do to him that evening. I’m quite an open person, but her graphic description even turned my stomach a little. She knocked her pint over, spilling beer everywhere and smashing the glass on the floor. They went back inside.

A few minutes later, the man and his friends returned.

“Are you going home with her tonight mate?”

The man laughed and took a drag from his cigarette.

“Well, I’m drunk and she’s up for it, so I might as well.” His friends laughed.

“Besides, she’s got nice t*ts.”

It may have been 4.30pm, but the dramatics can be found at any time of day or night at my local. Ah, love’s young dream. Unfortunately, I get the impression that it may not end quite how the girl (or the man’s girlfriend) is expecting. However, it’s still a better love story that Twilight.

Have you ever heard a conversation from different perspectives that made you smile?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog.

 

The End of a Lovely Week

I’m sitting on a train that is destined for Manchester as I’m spending the weekend with my mum. I haven’t seen her since my sister’s wedding at the beginning of the month and I’m looking forward to a few days of vegetating on her couch in my PJ’s and a duvet.

For once, I appeared to be reasonably organised, until Daisy (my diabetic cat) decided to have a hypo this morning… Cue the blood curve testing kit and a jar of honey – not what is needed at 7.30am with an unexplainable hangover. Luckily, her levels have gone back up and The Bloke is on standby over the next few hours to check on her.

image

I’ve got myself settled into my seat with everything that is necessary for a successful train journey – my phone, headphones, a playlist of 80’s rock anthems, charger, bottle of water and a cheese and onion pasty the size of my face (not exactly the healthiest breakfast I’ve ever eaten, but sometimes it has to be done). I’ve managed to drop half on it on my clothes as I seem to have the coordination skills of a two year old at this time in a morning, which is unfortunate as I am sitting across from a man that wouldn’t look out of place in a Hugo Boss advert. Gorgeous. He’s so pretty I could actually cry. I’m having to turn away before he realises that I’m gawking at him. I’m not the only one to notice him either – there’s a whole group of women (and a man) who have given him the eye as they boarded the train.

image

It’s almost the end of the holidays and I’ve had a great time. It was The Bloke’s birthday, for which I bought him the Lego Ghostbusters car (I loved his face when he opened it), met my friend for drinks, I went for several lovely meals, did a bit of shopping and met a group of bloggers – my social life has been more active this week than it has in months. I’m conscious of the fact that I still have some schoolwork that needs completing, but it shouldn’t take me more than a few hours.

My online adventures have also been great – my #SundayBlogShare Twitter party was a huge success and I’m looking forward to this week’s party, and I’ve had lots more views on individual posts because of it. If you’re around on Sunday, you’re more than welcome to participate – I’ll send out further details tomorrow…

Here’s to sleep… And lots of it!

What about you guys? How has your week been?

You can also find me on Twitter an Tumblr @suzie81blog

 

A Wedding To Remember

image

My youngest sister got married the other day. To say that we haven’t had the best relationship is an understatement, but the impending event has thankfully almost forced us to build some bridges over the last few months. I was anxious – I had only met her husband twice briefly since their relationship began and was feeling completely out of my comfort zone, but after months of stressing about imaginary scenarios and potential altercations I decided to simply buck up and get on with it.

I play in a string quartet and as a result have participated in hundreds of weddings over the years, but this one was organised better than any I have ever seen, to the point where the military could have learned a thing or two. By the time mum and I arrived at my sister’s house everything was almost finished – the hairdresser had done all the girls hair and was waiting for us, the bridesmaids were ready, the flowers and photographer had arrived and all my sister had to do was put on her dress, which was stunning. I lent her our grandmother’s eternity ring – she passed away a few years before my sister was born and this is the only thing that we have left of them. I had bought a beautiful new dress that flattered my figure and hid my various lumps and bumps. However, what I hadn’t taken into account were the tights that I had bought to wear underneath. Despite the fact that I had picked a size that I assumed would be more than comfortable, upon taking them out of the packet I realised they would be more suitable for an eight year old child, and the subsequent battle to squeeze myself into them has now made me consider a potential career change and become a contortionist. After much wrangling, sweating and swearing I emerged victorious, only to discover that I couldn’t breathe. I decided to keep them on as the dress looked beautiful – and who needs oxygen when a dress looks that good???

I sat through the service with my other sister’s new boyfriend, who I had met for the first time that day. I was impressed – he’s a lovely bloke who obviously dotes on my sister, he has a great job and was flying out the following morning to Madagascar, where he is spending six weeks doing marine biology (as you do), and I was really pleased with the effort that he made with the family, who can be extremely overwhelming for newcomers.

The service was lovely. I took the opportunity to take some photographs as my mum started to walk my sister down the aisle (who looked absolutely stunning) but then I turned my attention to the groom. The expression on his face was just wonderful – while I can’t claim to know him at all, by all accounts he’s a nice man, and that one look showed me everything I needed to know – he loves her, and she was so happy it almost appeared that she had to stop herself from grabbing him and jumping up and down there and then. The photographs afterwards were done quickly (again, with almost military precision) and the bridal party and groomsmen jumped into a minibus to go to the reception.

This was the part I had been dreading for the last eighteen months.

It was being held at a small venue where my sisters and I grew up. We spent our childhood walking the dog and playing in the fields surrounding it, referring to it as ‘The White House’ because of the colour of the building, and I haven’t been there since 2002. Circumstances meant that my mother moved away from the family home when I was at University, and so I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye – it’s been something that has plagued me ever since. Upon arrival it was the strangest feeling – everything was so familiar and instantly brought back a million memories. I broke down, just as the bride and groom were arriving in their beautiful Rolls Royce. Being the classy person that I am, I went and hid in a large patch of shrubbery and smoked a few cigarettes in my dress and heels until I had calmed down so they wouldn’t see me.

I got over myself and went inside. The reception was full of people that I hadn’t seen in years, namely my sister’s school friends and their families. It was surreal – the once rather loud children that I knew were now beautiful adults, with careers and some had families of their own.

It was one of the best receptions I have ever attended. The decor, the food, the atmosphere and the speeches were brilliant, and my sister had even organised a photo booth and a ferris wheel of sweets (candy for you non-Brits) for the guests. My sister and her new husband moved around the room and welcomed everyone, and I took the opportunity to get to know my new family-in-law a little. I was particularly enamoured with the groom’s nieces, who at the ages of 12 and 9 were two of the most intelligent and well-mannered little girls I’d ever met.

By 10.30pm I had eaten and drank my own body weight to the point where my dress had appeared to have shrunk, my feet hurt and I was tired, so my mother and I left. I had a huge sense of relief – relief that it had gone so well for them, that I had a lovely time, and relief that I could get out of my stupid tights, change into my jammies and actually breathe again.

It was certainly a day to remember, and it’s taught me a few things:

1. I need to stop worrying about potential scenarios and start living in the present a little more.

2. I need to move on and start getting to know the sister that I have now rather than the one I knew.

3. I need to stop underestimating exactly how large my bottom is when I am purchasing tights in the future.

I hope they had a good day and that they’re happy, and if the way that they looked at each other throughout the day is symbolic of the rest of their lives, I know they’re going to have a wonderful time…

What about you guys? Have you any funny wedding stories that you want to share?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

It’s a Small World. Sometimes, It’s a Little Too Small

Oh. Dear.

Oh. Dear.

After nearly a decade of working in the British Education System I have recently noticed just how many contacts I have made in my adventures, to the point where it is now a rare occurance when I don’t run into someone when I am out and about in my personal time.

I walked into the staff room a few days ago and was greeted by a visitor – a very attractive woman who was about the same age as me. I knew that I hadn’t met her before, but as I said hello there was something oddly familiar about her face, and I asked her what her name was. When she told me, an image of her smiling face in a photograph flashed before my eyes, and it clicked where I had seen her before. A very handsome friend from university (that I still occasionally play in a string quartet with) was in a relationship with her, and had promoted her picture many times across his Facebook page when she had made it to the finals of an acting competition, with the prize being a part in an Aussie soap. I got very excited at remembering this, and this was the conversation that followed.

Me: Did you have anything to do with Neighbours?

Her: (rather shocked expression) Erm… Yes. How do you know that?

Me: You’re M’s girlfriend! I went to Uni with him and I remember your face from the competition pictures he used to put up.

Her: (awkward expression) I was his girlfriend.

Me: Ah. Ok.

I quickly changed the subject. However, as I was in the middle of this conversation, I suddenly had a further flashback. That wasn’t the only reason why I knew her.

For my 30th birthday, I invited a large group of people to a party that was taking place at an 80’s themed nightclub. While it isn’t most of my friends favourite venue, to their credit they all turned up and threw themselves into drinking, dancing and general debauchery, and I was having a brilliant time. I had been surprised at several points throughout the night by good friends that I hadn’t expected to show, and half way through the night M arrived. I was really pleased to see him, as were lots of my female friends (he really is extremely attractive, I can’t emphasise this enough). One in particular thought he was lovely, and it was obvious that the feelings were mutual.

I don’t remember that much of the later part of the evening, but I do remember that there were lots of photographs taken, most of which appeared on Facebook over the next few days. I received a phone call from my friend, who told me that M had gone back to her house and spent the night. I was quite shocked with him – I knew that he had a long term girlfriend, but my friend had no idea. It was a douchy thing to do on his part…

I panicked a little in case his girlfriend found out and caused trouble for my friend, so I went onto M’s Facebook page, and through that, clicked onto his girlfriend’s page (the woman that was sitting in my staff room the other day) and promptly cyber-stalked her to see if anything revealing had appeared. She didn’t have any privacy settings, and so it was easy to navigate around it.

To make matters worse, I didn’t just click on her page on that day, I must have checked it out on several occasions over the next week. Nothing appeared to have surfaced after a while, and so I stopped, and haven’t thought about it since. Am I a bad person for not saying something? Yes, probably, but the news wouldn’t have been welcomed, she probably wouldn’t have believed me and my friend would have received unnecessary trouble. Her relationship was none of my business, despite the guilt that I always feel in those sorts of situations. I’ve learnt from experience that it is always best to mind your own business where possible.

When I remembered this, I blushed furiously, to the point where one of the other staff commented on the colour of my face. I didn’t say anything about what I remembered and I won’t – I don’t know the circumstances of their break-up, but I’m assuming that she must have eventually found out that, while he is actually a lovely bloke as a friend, he isn’t exactly boyfriend material. Yes, the world is a very small place. Sometimes, it’s a  little too small.