Sunday, 30 September 2007

2hr 56min plus a little

You can't get much more Geordie than the Great North Run.

So far, it's just a blur of impressions of colour and sound and smells, mixed with amazement that I did it. There was a lot of walking involved (I've no real idea what proportion, but will guess I ran 2/3 of the way) but I did it. And I have the medal, the t shirt, the sunburned shoulders and the aching legs and knees to prove it.

It was funny, though. It took me ages to get through from the finish line to get my goodie bag, return my chip, find the toilets, get to the marquee for my charity and meet my parents and D and pick up my bag. After that we had to get to my dad's car, stopping off for chips on the way (best tasting chips I've EVER eaten) and queue up for ages to get out.

I was OK for all of that, but once I got back home and onto my sofa, it suddenly all hit me and I started shaking violently, freezing cold. But judicious use of the space blanket, a bedspread and my mum's cardi soon warmed me up again.

I was about 15 feet away from Bobby Robson when he started the race (albeit outside the barriers). It was a buzz.

I have completely fallen in love with the Red Arrows. Although I'd love to know what their carbon footprint is.

And next year? I'll only do it if I can get my own place rather than a charity one. And I swear I'll try better.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

....still, (very expensive) tickets to see the Cure at Wembly Arena will cheer me up anytime.

They'd just better not do an Interpol on us......

Friday, 28 September 2007

*is exhausted*

*needs a month off*

*will have to make do with a week off after the great north run and one more (tough) week in work*

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

note to self

When both mentally and physically exhausted by all that's going on, lunch with friends and a trip after work to the Turkish Baths will work wonders.

It was all I could do when I was leaving to pick my bag up. My muscles had relaxed so much that it was a real effort.

I feel much better after today.
I'm just going to sit in a corner panicking, OK? Great North Run on Sunday, new Open University course starts Saturday, house insurance quotes to look for, I need to phone the hell that is Orange customer services and argue with them to get a MAC out of them (what does MAC stand for? Is the C code? Cause I want to say a MAC code but as I may have mentioned before, I really hate redundant acronyms. Anyway.), I have tons to do in work and I'm not in the office Wednesday or Friday, I need to book train tickets (three sets of) before the prices go up, I have piles of stuff 'to do' everywhere and I don't know what's in them, and did I mention the Great North Run on Sunday? So I'm supposed to be resting?

The bit that really scares me isn't the bits I remember. It's the bits that I don't.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

morning

I wake up, not knowing what time it is, wanting to go back asleep if at all possible. I know it's morning, but I also know that I'm a) exhausted and b) not going to get a lie in tomorrow either.

I'm just drifting off when a high pitched whine starts, suddenly giving way to a horrible, horrible grinding noise before stopping just as suddenly. I closed my eyes optimistically, waiting for my heartrate to slow. But just as I begin to relax, it starts again. I go to the window, lean out to try and pinpoint where it's coming from. No idea.

I get back in bed, try to relax. No joy. In the end I look at my clock. 8.45 on Saturday morning. Can't they wait half an hour, even fifteen minutes?

It doesn't stop.

I can't stand it any more. I grab my dressing gown, storm out of the house and follow the noise down the road. A few houses down I find a couple of guys sawing bricks with some kind of circular... thing. (Saw? I have no idea.)

The noise is overwhelming this close. I shout to try and get their attention but they don't hear. I have to wait til one of them turns round and spots me, puts his hand out to stop his colleague. The noise slows and stops, blessedly.

'It's not even nine o'clock on Saturday morning! I'm exhausted. I'm busy in the morning so I won't get a lie in tomorrow. My husband's exhausted after a hard week. Can't you wait even another half hour?'

They look kind of afraid. I don't think they're often confronted by batty-looking women in dressing gowns. They agree, probably to get rid of the crazy lady off the end of their drive. I thank them, slightly calmer and go back home, slip back into bed. D stirs, turn over.

'They're going to stop sawing bricks for half an hour or so' I announce.

'What?' he murmurs groggily.

He's slept through the entire noise.

Bastard.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

eyes down

I'd never been to play bingo before this week. I wasn't convinced I wanted to at all, to be honest. But I hadn't been out with the girls for a while and they'd organised the date round me, cause I'm not free much at the minute. So I dashed home after work and ate a quick tea before one of them picked me up.

We went to Gala Bingo at the MetroCentre. I hate the place with a passion, generally. But this wasn't too bad - I got lifts there and back and I didn't have to actually go in any shops, so I can't complain.

We joined, paid and were given a sheaf of booklets and coloured dabbers. The session was supposed to start at 7.30, but by the time we paid it was 7.05 and all the people who had been milling round outside had disappeared. We made our way into the hall. The caller had started reading out numbers already so we tried not to make a noise as we looked for a table - it was surprisingly full and we couldn't all sit together. It amazed me that so many people could be so utterly silent, utterly fixated on the singsong voice of the caller.

Luckily two of us had been before. They managed to figure out where we were up to and pass it on to the rest of us so we could start marking off numbers.

For the first few cards, it was all I could do to mark down every other number, but I got into the routine surprisingly quickly. It still took me quite a few games before I would have even noticed if I had a line. After a while, though, and against all expectations, I found I was enjoying myself. It's almost relaxing, sitting in silence, focussing on your card, running the dabber down the column of numbers til you find the one you're looking for.

I was sitting with A whose family play quite a lot. She was telling me that in her local bingo hall some people get bored and play with their card upside down to add to the challenge. Sounds insane to me.

And because none of us won so much as a penny, it didn't even feel like gambling. Strange but true. Twice I was just waiting for two numbers for a full house, but mostly I was sitting with boards half-completed when people called. It really is the luck of the draw. A was surprised how calm I stayed, telling me how her mum starts kicking everyone in the vicinity if she's even five numbers away. I didn't really think I'd win though, or even if I did, that I'd manage to call before the next number was read out - if you call even a second too late, your call is invalid and you've lost.

There was a false call at one point. I joined in with the horrified sucking in of breath. It was quite amusing, really.

D used to play bingo when he was younger. He was telling me before I left about how addictive it was. I don't think I'd get addicted, not even me with the addictive personality, but I could see myself going again. We're going to try all the local bingo halls, see if our luck is better at any of the other ones.

My dabber's sitting on the table next to me, waiting for its next outing.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

student life

When I was a fresher, fresher's week was fun. Lots of finding out about what societies were out there, learning to look after yourself, going out and having fun. Nights out, sure, but lots of other stuff going on in the day.

There never used to be girls standing round in long sleeved t shirts and what can only be described as knickers at my freshers' week, trying to entice people into bars. But that's what I saw walking past Luckies yesterday lunchtime. Loud music blaring out of large speakers. I guess the students are back.

Outside Tiger Tiger there are girls on rollerskates, giving out vouchers for a free soft drink when you order from their £3 lunch menu.

I know Newcastle has a reputation as a party city, and that's OK. I don't mind people having fun; I like people having fun. But I hate the fun being all about the scantily clad women, the drink, the clothes. About how much money you have. About lecture theatres being full of people in designer clothing, talking about how much debt they're in.

I hate the fact that when I first lived here, there were no strip clubs and now there are at least two. I do like the fact that there's no red light district here, even though I'm sure that that doesn't cut the amount of prostitution out there.


I wish I thought I could change it. But I don't really think I can.

Things change. Hopefully at some point the pendulum will swing back.

northern rock

There was a man at the bus stop this morning who had on a Northern Rock t shirt.

At least, that's what I thought at first glance. Turned out when I looked back that he actually had on a Newcastle shirt that I hadn't seen before. Newcastle are sponsored by Northern Rock, so the words are emblazoned across the front of most of the shirts you see around town. Although I still miss the good old days of the Blue Star when the brewery used to sponsor the football team.

And that, to me, answers at least partly why the hysteria that has affected the rest of the UK hasn't really affected the north east. This morning on Breakfast News they were showing the queues elsewhere in the country - then they cut to a branch in Newcastle and there wasn't a soul in sight. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen Northumberland Street so quiet. They claimed there had been some people around a few minutes earlier, but I wasn't convinced.

I went into town at lunch, walked past the same branch. Noone queuing outside. I walked past another branch, just out of curiosity. Noone more or less than usual. According to this article it has happened, but I can't believe it's any more than usual. All the talk in my office is of confusion, not understanding the panic in the rest of the country. I even wish I'd had some spare cash to buy some shares yesterday when the price fell so badly.

In short: the country has gone mad.

I don't agree with everything BW has to say about the situation, but she sums it up pretty darned well. Worth a read if you haven't already.

Trauma

I opened my wallet as I got to the cashpoint in Virgin. But there was a big gaping hole where my credit card should have been.

I thrust the CD at the guy behind the counter. 'I'm coming back for that, but I've lost my credit card', I explained. He nodded but any reply he made I didn't register at all. I must have looked completely panic stricken.

I half-ran out of the shop, making my way back towards Lush where I'd just spent £6 I could justify on shampoo and £4.40 I wouldn't justify at all on bath products. I checked my wallet compulsively as I retraced my footsteps, not wanting to get in there only to find out I'd just put it in the wrong slot. But as I went back in, asking breathlessly whether I'd left my credit card, the girl with the pink hair saw me and got her colleague to pass the card on to me from where they'd safely stashed it behind the counter.

It could only have been five minutes from leaving my card to getting back and picking it up again, but it was a long five minutes. They told me that they'd looked out onto the street as soon as they realised, trying to see where I'd gone, but I walk fast at lunchtimes to keep them as short as I can.

So thanks to the staff of Lush Newcastle. I didn't thank them properly, so I'm going to write and tell them how grateful I am.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

minor frustration

I just went for a run. Came back, measured it on google earth. 9.94 kilometers.

Wish I'd measured it before I went out. I'm sure I could have managed an extra 60 metres.

I'm quite impressed with myself in one way, but terrified in another. The Great North Run is now less than 2 weeks away, and I should be able to go twice that distance. Oh well; things conspired against me. If I need to walk to get to the end, I'll walk. It's all in aid of a good cause.

Anyway, I always seem incapable of training properly before I do a new distance of race. It's only after I realise I'm physically capable of running it that I seem mentally capable of preparing properly. This is contradictory and not sensible, and I hope I can change it with time, but for the minute it just seems to be how I work. Strange, eh?

In other news, I appear to have turned blogger German. I would like to publicly apologise for any inconvenience that this has caused anyone and offer to translate (or, errrm, ask my sister to translate anything anything that's beyond my capabilities) for anyone who doesn't speak German.

Although I'm hoping that the public apology sorts it out.

Blogger? I didn't mean to laugh at my sister for turning German.
1) I don't believe the McCanns did it, which apparently puts me in a minority, compared to people who vote on these things on the internet. Most people I have actually spoken to, though, seem to agree with me. Good on Richard Branson giving them £100,000 to help clear their names.

2) I don't care about Keira Knightley. She was great in The Hole, but now I just want her to go away. I don't dislike her personally, I'm just sick of all the hype.

3) I don't understand all the panicking about Northern Rock (although fair enough to the guy that wanted to withdraw £250k - I wouldn't want to risk *that* amount of money). In the unlikely event it collapses, you should get most of your money back anyway.

4) Colin McRae is dead. So sad for his wife and daughter.

This pretty much random post was brought to you by a quick late-night trek round the Times website.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Aren't dandelions and daisies supposed to stop flowering by now? Because they're both flowering on our front lawn.

The weather this year has been really messed up.

--

Did I mention that I lost my digital camera? I searched and searched but it's not in the house. After I threw a load of stuff out, and gave a load more to charidee. I'd even rather it went to the charity shop than just ended up in landfill somewhere. So I'm back to the crappy really old camera. Not impressed. Not impressed at all.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

like huge confetti

I was walking along to the bus stop after work when I saw a sheet of A4 paper lying on the floor. I looked closer; it was the front page of a CV. I paused, wondering what to do. Pick it up, or walk on by?

I picked it up. I didn't like to think that if I managed to drop my CV somewhere people would just leave it lying, waiting for the next identity thief to walk by. But then I noticed the next two copies. And the next. Eleven copies lay on the floor, complete with date of birth and contact details - mobile number, address, email. I stopped and picked them all up, half wishing I'd never started, wondering what the people passing by were thinking, noticing the tyre marks and footprints on some of the pages, tiny pebbles ground into the paper.

How on earth it got there I have no idea, but I can't help but wonder. Dropped unnoticed from a folder? Blown out of a car window? Grabbed and strewn everywhere by school bullies? And I want to know whether anyone else would have picked it up if I hadn't happened to walk past. Whether they would have just been stuck in the bin somewhere, just as handy for identity thieves.

I've put them in my shredding pile, I'll deal with them later.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

standing at the station

I don't get the metro very often any more.

It used to be my easiest means of transport from A to pretty much any letter of the alphabet, but house and job moves have meant that it's not so helpful for me any more. I do believe it's a shame. If you look at the map showing the zones, you can see that the metro leaves great chunks of the Tyne and Wear area uncovered. I'm in one of those areas that the metro isn't much use to.

Today, though, I needed to make a journey easiest served by the metro. I changed at Monument (one of the underground stations - most stations in the metro system are above ground), waited at Platform 3. Monument is the only station in the metro system with four platforms; Platforms 3 and 4 are relatively close to the surface but 1 and 2 are deeper and standing on 3 you can hear the deep shudder of the trains passing by beneath your feet.

I used to spend a lot of time waiting at Platform 3. I remember when there used to be digital clocks glowing red at the front of each station, and when they took them away. I still can't understand why, except to think that without clocks it's less obvious when trains are late. Shocking reasoning, if so.

The trains passing through Platform 3 have come from St James. That's the end of the line (or the beginning, if you prefer); if you watch the signs in the tunnel at you approach St James you can see the sign light up to tell the driver which platform you're going to and go to the correct door, saving, ooooh, seconds on your way out of the station. The drivers walk to the other end, get into the other cab, go back to Monument. It's only a couple of minutes' journey.

The sign at Monument saying that the train is due doesn't light up til the train leaves St James. D used to say that you couldn't hear the train coming til after the sign had flashed up, but I could, on quiet days.

I used to know exactly where to stand on each station to be closest to the exit when I got off the train. Not at every station, of course; just those I alighted at most often. I went to the wrong end of the train today and had to walk the full length of the platform at Monument to get to the stairs to get to Platform 3. Strange how you forget these things, things you didn't even need to think about, when you don't need them any more.


PS Still ridiculously busy, but glad I found five minutes to post between appointments. I wrote a list of all the people I need to email to arrange to meet up with at lunchtime. It's long. I'm going to be busy til the end of October at this rate. All I want is a night off where I don't spend it thinking about all the things I should be doing, but again, that might be a while in coming.

Monday, 10 September 2007

randomness

I've been running again. It was really, really difficult while I was recovering from being ill, but it was easy again today. I ran this morning before work; it was great to get out and run gently, no stress. I've never done it before, but I plan to do it again. Of course, I'm waaaaaaay behind schedule for the Great North Run, but let's not worry about that eh? I'm doing it for charideeee, and I have to pay the money whether I do it or not, so if necessary I will walk the entire way. It'll be fiiiiiiine....

New job is still going well. It's a very different environment in some ways, but very similar in others. And I'm trusted to get on with what I'm doing, which is fabber than I can say.

I need to fit about another two or three days into each week. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to manipulate time and/or space for this to happen, please share in the comments. Getting desperate, but I don't have money to build any really complicated machinery to make this happen.

I'm going to go and visit my sister in Europe in December. Yay!

This week is ridiculously busy, what with running clubs, cinema trips to see Run Fatbay Run, training sessions, doctors appointments, dentists appointments, Samaritans shifts, possibly starting yoga as I can't find a pilates class I can fit in, and cups of tea with friends. I might not have time to post again til the weekend, so just talk amongst yourselves (or visit some of the lovely people linked on the right, or trawl through my kinja for new reads. I'll be back as soon as I can....

Thursday, 6 September 2007

termtime

Ways I can tell that the schools are back round here:
  • I arrived at the bus stop 5 minutes earlier than yesterday and arrived at work 5 minutes later. Take that, gods of logic!
  • The crowds of children at the bus stop, talking tough and comparing members of the opposite sex
  • The fact that someone seems to have turned up the volume at the bus stop.
I hate it when the schools go back. It seems an age since they broke up and I get spoiled over the summer, hardly any time to get into town and the bus stop is a quiet refuge. It's jarring when suddenly they're everywhere again, impossible to ignore and exploding drinks cartons filled with dyed red water all over the back of my WHITE JEANS.

Generally speaking, I don't mind them too much. I'd rather they got all the boisterous behavour out of the way before they get to school so they can concentrate while they're there. But stamping on their drink carton about three feet away from me so the splashes hit the back of my legs? That might have coloured my opinion against them slightly.

Little bastards.

Ahem. I will calm down soon. As soon as the stains come out....

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

PSA

This probably isn't the most useful place to say so, but if anyone is wondering where Clare Boob Pencil has gone, she's here. The purpleocity site is down indefinitely and I think she's feeling lonely, so why not pop in and say hi? Oh and she's got a nice spangly new literary agent, so say congrats too!

(And thanks to Pierre L for letting me know where to find her!)

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

changes aplenty

I started a new job a little while ago. Yes, it's goodbye to the view and the centre of town. I'm now working in Jesmond, just outside the city centre. It's a little nearer home, a nice chunk more pay and new responsibilities. More things to learn, more seniority, new people to meet, and a good move for me, I think.

Today I went for a little explore at lunch. It's possible to go into town at lunch, but it's a bit of a walk away so I'm not tending to go in unless I actually need to. Instead, I walked up the road to see what was there. I like to get away from my desk at lunch and there's nowhere really in the new building to eat away from your desk, so I'm making an effort to get out before I eat. Today was sunny and warm, a perfect day to explore.

I thought I knew Jesmond fairly well, but today I discovered a section hidden away behind the metro line. An exclusive accessories boutique. A small deli called County Whey that has pickled quails eggs along with the smoked salmon sandwiches. A post office that had no queue at 12.30 - that's unheard of in Newcastle, and I would guess most places these days.

The houses are well cared for and probably cost a fortune. The streets were clean. But at the end of the main road is a sign saying '
straight on: motorway traffic only' and if you don't turn off you find yourself on the Central Motorway, a very short section of motorway that is terrifying if you've never travelled on it before (and pretty damned scary even if you know it well).

It's a really bizarre little place.

Monday, 3 September 2007

long meetings and quick drinks with friends and being a trainer after work...

...equals a rather tired b.

i'm telling myself i can do it all, and i think i can, but i'm going to need to remember to just sit down and do nothing every so often. otherwise, i'll be making myself ill.

all i need is a secretary to come round to mine and sort out all my paperwork so i can keep on top of it in future and i'll be sorted. i've never been one of those 'i could use a cleaner' person. keeping clean isn't that difficult for me. it's the paperwork i drown in, every time.

i should just trust d enough to delegate some of it to him. but that would mean giving up some of my control freak tendencies, eh?

i'm working on it....

Saturday, 1 September 2007

sunshine and people

It's been a glorious day today. Which wouldn't be so much of a problem, but I had to give up on my run before I'd finished because I just couldn't carry on in the heat. The Great North Run is 4 weeks tomorrow, and being ill a week or two back has really set back my training. I've lost a great deal of my fitness and I've moved from thinking about running the whole way to thinking it'll be run-walk. Not what I planned, but neither was the chest infection. I was going to do a 10m race next weekend, but seeing as I had to stop 3 miles into my 4 mile run today and walk the rest of the way home, I've had to accept that that isn't going to happen.

I was at West Jesmond metro before, waiting for a train to my friend's place. There was a girl on the platform, seemingly on the phone to a rather dim National Rail Enquiries operative who seemed to take an age to respond to her simple query about when the next train from Newcastle to Durham was.

As we got on the train, I noticed that the label on her top was out. It was a colourful top, one of those halternecks that also ties round your middle. She was facing away from me, but the label was pretty obvious, so I got her attention to let her know. She tucked it back in, joking that if it'd been designer she would have left it sticking out.

I got off the train before she did. I wanted to tell her to enjoy her night, but I wimped out. It's strange how in some ways I'm friendly and chatty, but in some situations I turn incredibly shy. On Tuesday I came across some people in work putting make up on in the ladies. I asked if they were going out and they told me they were going out for a meal. But instead of asking where, I skipped that step of the conversation and just said 'have a nice night'. I felt antsy as I left the loos, as if I'd bended the rules of socialising.

Maybe I just need to relax. But if anyone does have any tips beyond 'just take a deep breath and smile' then I'd be glad to hear them. I find it hard to believe people really do want to be friends with me, sometimes. And I think nerves are part of the reason why. When my friends came over for tapas the other week, I felt pressured to make sure the food was as good, the conversation as scintillating, the night was as much fun as when we'd eaten at theirs. And really, as long as everyone enjoys the food and company, does the comparison really matter?