Monday, 29 December 2008
Monday, 22 December 2008
And now I just read this (and coincidentally, I've read this and this in the last couple of weeks and really enjoyed both). And I remembered what a buzz it was, even though I wasn't really fit enough to do it. Even though it was horrible and torturous, too.
So I just preregistered so I get an email when the ballot opens. I don't want to do it for charity again this time; I love raising money, but it puts so much pressure on to raise a certain amount and to do the race, even if you're not really fit enough. But if I can get my own place, I'll be there like a shot. And if I don't get a place for that? There are other half marathons around. I'll get into one of them.
And I hope they run the North Tyneside 10k again for 2009. I missed the 2008 race for various reasons and 2009 will be the day after my birthday if it happens - but what the hey. I'll just run off my hangover. I've preregistered for the Great Women's Run in Sunderland too, and do you know what? There's a Valentines 10k at Gosforth Park in Newcastle on, you guessed it, Valentines Day. *goes off to register*
I really do seem to have found my mojo again. I've been clearing the house; dealing with things and filing and shredding. I've been running twice. I've baked. I've caught up on sleep owed. I sent an email yesterday that was nearly 6 months late - but who cares, I sent it and it was appreciated. I've been losing my taste for sugary food and craving the healthier stuff. I've not done any coursework yet, but that's coming.
I feel like life is doable again, finally.
I don't have any new year's resolutions yet. But I seem to be starting on them early this year.
(I said I wasn't going to post again before Christmas, didn't I? Ah well. I think this post deserved breaking that resolution!)
(I just read this, too, and it made me cry. David Almond is one of my favourite writers.)
Friday, 19 December 2008
I've managed to post all my christmas cards before the second class deadline. I made chocolately and biscuity goodness for work people in lieu of christmas cards. i have christmas presents for (nearly) everyone. We've been eating rather too many veggie burgers and oven chips and not enough fruit and veg, but we haven't had take out more than once in the last 6 weeks or so (and for a long time up [until maybe earlier this year] we had pizza delivered once a week at least).
D and I have been remarkably happy considering all the stressful and busy things that have been happening over the last 2 months or so.
But there's a huge list of things I haven't done. I've barely touched my coursework. I've not been running. In months. I've not transferred some money from a savings account to pay off my credit card. I've not paid a bill. I've not posted something that needs to get into the post today. And this is just scratching the surface.
I need to remember all the things I have managed to do.
I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas. I'll be back sometime in January I think.
Monday, 8 December 2008
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Friday we stayed in (although A and her boyfriend went out to celebrate another friend's birthday). My dad opened his presents and was thrilled. My parents were both pleased to see us all. Just after midnight we realised that we hadn't sung happy birthday; mum grabbed a cake and stuck some candles in and we sang. Dad blew out the candles, along with some others that were on a nearby table. We relit them. He blew them out again. We relit them. D blew them out. We relit them. I blew them out. Then we stopped and ate the cake.
Saturday D and I went shopping with S (D had decided at the last minute he needed new trousers for that evening). Later N and I went over to see my grandparents, who I don't get to see as often as I'd like to. I spent more time with my sisters (and their boyfriends). I made blutack heffalumps with S. I looked through old family photos and decided with my mum which ones should go on display.
And Saturday night there was a party for dad. It was supposed to be a surprise, but the cat had slipped out of the bag weeks before. I don't think he expected over thirty people squashed into the house, though. We saw relatives I've not seen in... months? years? Some people who used to work with dad turned up; he was excited to see them. Even though he only retired a few weeks ago. His birthday cake was gingerbread, with a model golf course on top. And there was lots of food. There always is.
The last people to go left just after 1am. Mum tried to wash up, but C wouldn't let her. One by one the nine of us sleeping at my parents' house went to bed. D and C and I were last up; we sat up chatting until well after 2am.
A few people called round on Sunday morning before they left to collect cars and have cups of tea. I studied an old map of Leeds from Saturday's Guardian with one of my cousins and vowed to myself to stay in closer touch with my relatives.
I drove over 300 miles through fog and cold and ice. (D wasn't feeling very well and didn't fancy driving.) I didn't do a stroke of work all weekend. I broke a glass and a glass bowl in the space of about 30 minutes on Sunday morning while clearing up.
It was a busy weekend, full of things to do and people to see. I didn't want to come home - even though by the time we left everyone else had already gone and we needed to leave so we could be back to work on Monday.
I had a fantastic time.
When we got home I put up our Christmas tree. I'm glad, finally, that it's nearly Christmas. That it's not long til I can see everyone again.
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
- i mean to remember the news about your family and ask you about it, but i will probably forget. (particularly horrible when it's the serious illness of a family member who is far, far away. i can't believe i forgot that one. i feel like a horrible friend)
- when i remember again (normally when i hear it mentioned in conversation with someone else) i will agonise about whether to ask, or whether this will make it too obvious i've forgotten up until now. i will hate myself for this
- i hate reality tv, and many other tv programmes. i hate it when you discuss them at length in front of me and will drift off into my own world until you've finished. especially if i've had a glass of wine. i don't speculate about lost or incessantly quote scrubs at you unless i know you're into them
- i usually look more normal than i really am. (particularly weird today was standing in the shop that used to be called kathmandu in my suit and heels, buying blue and purple nailvarnish and ankh earrings and listening to the first nine inch nails album before realising I really had to get back to work, and that i looked far too normal to be in there in the first place)
- i am torn between wanting to look more like i feel inside, and not wanting to make it difficult for me to progress in work
- i am jealous of some of my friends for managing to walk that line and still be successful in their chosen careers
- i wish i had a style all my own
- i'm sick of feeling like the poor relation
- i'm panicking inside about how little time there is. between now and the next course deadline. between now and christmas. between now and the time by which i should have done something with my life
but on the brighter side:
- i'm probably happier than i sound right now
- texting half a lyric to a friend and having her text back the end of the line in question cracks me up
- i don't mind hanging round on a freezing street corner for 20 minutes while i wait for a bus if it means i've had a great night out with friends
Monday, 24 November 2008
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
There were otters (smelly but cute), piranhas (slower than you'd think), seals (splashy; popular with the kids). Seahorses (amazing!) and Picasso fish (hilarious) and clownfish (Nemo!). Rays and lobsters and crabs. Turtles. (The woman in reception said the funniest thing was when they climbed onto the rocks and all on top of each other and then fall into the water.) Sharks. (Shaaaahks!)
When we walked past the python tank, someone was dangling a dead (or at least very sedate) rodent into the cage by its tail. D wouldn't let me stay and watch as he thought I was going to cry. I have to confess to a love of rodents (when an old friend's pet rat died I cried and cried) but I was mostly just fascinated. My sister watched, though, and apparently the snake wasn't hungry so they took it out again.
There were even bumblebee frogs. They were particularly cute.
For those with kids, they have fishy rubbing stations - basically brass rubbings of fish to do. I say they're aimed at kids... my 21 year old sis did some of them, and her 32 year old sis might even have done one ;o)
A friend had told me it's not very big so to take my time going round. We spent almost two hours looking at the fish and I could have spent longer. However my water-phobic husband had pretty much reached his limit.
He got a stuffed shark as his reward for being put through such torture.
It was fun. Recommended if you have time to kill at the coast.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Thursday, 6 November 2008
Nothing went wrong as such, but things just didn't come together and I couldn't get any of my jobs done in one go. I was bobbing round from one thing to the other, driving myself mad.
D usually picks me up at about 5.30pm. At 5.10pm I called him to let him know that I wasn't going to be ready and said I'd get the bus home. I thought I'd be finished just after 6pm and he didn't fancy hanging around in the cold and the dark and damp with fireworks going off all the time.
By the time I got finished it was 6.35pm. By the time I left the building it was 6.40pm - incidentally 40 minutes after I'm supposed to leave. I really didn't fancy standing at the bus stop, waiting God knows how long for a bus, but I comforted myself with the thought of left-over Chinese from the night before.
But when I got outside, there was our little car, D behind the wheel, listening to his new Cure CD (I popped into town to get it for him when it came out about 10 days ago and he hasn't stopped listening to it since) and waiting for me.
He'd been there for an hour.
I nearly died of shock. Then I nearly cried.
If it'd been me, I would've either called to say I was there and find out how long it was going to be, or given up and gone home long before.
I have the best husband in the universe.
Saturday, 1 November 2008
2. I'm doing NaNo. I'm GeordieWatcher over there if you are doing it and want to add me. I went to Starbucks in Borders today and wrote my first 600 or so words. Turns out it's already going in a slightly different direction than the one I'd originally half-thought, but that's no bad thing. In fact, I'm quite pleased with it. Just another 1,000 or so to write today.
3. I went out last night. It wasn't my best night out ever; I was exhausted after a stupidly busy week and submitting my TMA really, really close to the deadline. It was however muchos improved by a girl I have never seen before in my life, who tapped me on the shoulder when I was halfway through the six-people-deep queue and gestured for me to cut through the queue as her friend moved away from the bar - using her arm to hold the immensely large queue back. I have no idea who she was, but she really really cheered me up. Thanks random (and also beautiful) girl in Eclipse!
4. I'm doing a 10k for Cancer Research tomorrow. Unfortunately the three glasses of wine last night have had about the effect of six glasses (... to be fair, this might have something to do with the fact one of my friends poured some of her lager into my empty wine glass and I drank some, which probably didn't help) and my head is really bad. I'm not looking forward to it. Oh and did I mention I'm really unfit at the minute? And really shouldn't run 10K? Why am I such an idiot at times?
I am going to Wagamama afterwards though with D, my cousin and my cousin's girlfriend. That should be motivation enough. Right? Right?
5. The house is a tip. I really need to tidy up.
6. My email inbox is a tip. I really need to email people.
7. In my drunken haze of 'hey my goth makeup is really good, I should take some photos for facebook!' I took some photos of myself last night. I've been wondering where the extra half-stone I've put on since I stopped running has gone. It's not hit my legs and is only minimal on my tummy. Turns out it's sitting on my face.
You'd think I would have noticed this before; I should've, but when you see your face in the mirror every day it's harder to notice. I don't tend to care about looks either, but when you suddenly realise quite how much you've changed, well. That's a wake-up call. I don't do diets, but I do do eating healthily, and that's fallen by the wayside recently. Of course, when I run, I get to eat all manner of crap and still be healthy. That's my first option. I went for a run last Sunday and enjoyed it, for the first time in months. It was great.
Realising my face has suddenly turned fat? That's that extra bit of motivation to actually get out there and run off all the chips and fried egg sarnies and veggie burgers I've been eating recently. It's not really about the looks, but whatever makes me get out and do it. This works for me.
Thursday, 30 October 2008
If you're missing your B-fix, you can always pop over to newcastle daily photo. I'm managing to post there six days a week (Cassandra posts on Wednesdays) with the judicious use of the pre-post facility.
Otherwise, I'll be recovering from the TMA (tutor marked assignment)-writing frenzy over the weekend, and posting again from the beginning of next week. Hopefully.
(Cross posted on both blogs)
Monday, 20 October 2008
Sunday, 19 October 2008
1. Where is your mobile? Not sure
2. Where is your significant other? The lounge
3. Your hair colour? Brown; red
4. Your mother? Never still
5. Your father? Nearly retired
6. Your favorite thing? White wine
7. Your dream last night? Don't dream
8. Your dream/goal? Get published
9. The room you're in? My bedroom
10. Your hobby? Drinking wine
11. Your fear? Losing loved-ones (is that a cheat?)
12. Where do you want to be in six years? Home, happy
13. Where were you last night? At home
14. What you're not? Tidy. Slow.
15. One of your wish-list items? Enough money
16. Where you grew up? North West
17. The last thing you did? A363 exercise
18. What are you wearing? Big-necked top
19. Your TV? Second hand
20. Your pets? Occasional interlopers
21. Your computer? Compaq/Dell
22. Your mood? Not bad
23. Missing someone? My sisters
24. Your car? Shiny silver
25. Something you're not wearing? Thigh-high boots
26. Favourite shop? Waterstones, Borders
27. Your summer? Parisienne, Cumbrian
28. Love someone? Oh yes.
29. Your favorite color? Silver, Red
30. When was the last time you laughed? Earlier today
31. Last time you cried? Week-ago Friday
I think most people who do awards have had this already, so I will just tell you that some blogs I love are: Janette (for having goals), Caroline (for sharing her dreams), Lane (for being generally lovely), Jen (for being a fan of wine), Nik (for being amusing and coming to pub quizzes... Nik, not his blog) and of course the aforementioned lovely Leigh (for being lovely and knowing who I was when I didn't really know who she was!).
Friday, 17 October 2008
Thursday, 16 October 2008
It says that the further north men live, the more faecal bacteria can be found on their hands. In Newcastle, more than half the men's hands they tested were contaminated. And these were commuters, professional people (I assume but it seems reasonable from the article) that you might expect to, maybe, wash their hands after they use the toilet.
And the weirdest thing (or maybe the most unsurprising) was that it only applied to men. Not women. There was no north-south divide with women's hand cleanliness.
It makes me want to scrub my hands after every time I shake hands with a man.
Scrubs them with bleach.
Monday, 13 October 2008
On the way back, my eye was caught by electricity pylons, and suddenly I realised how long it is since I've seen a pylon. Since I've really looked at those huge complicated metal structures and really thought about how immense they are. How scary. Wondered if the cancer link really is true. Thanked my lucky stars that I don't live near any.
I had a whole post planned out in my head. About how you don't miss the things that you saw all the time in childhood until you see them again and realise how long it is since you last looked at one. About how it related to my recent post about belonging and how sometimes it's the little things that you don't even realise that you miss.
The next day we drove to Asda.
There, in the field behind my house, half way between us and the Asda superstore? Much less than a mile as the crow flies?
Please don't put me down for any tests of my observation skills, eh?
Sunday, 12 October 2008
Stolen from mysty twilight who I found through the blog widget.
It can be anything you want - good or bad - BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE.
When you're finished, post this little paragraph in your
LJblog and see what your friends come up with.
(go on. i DARES ya!)
Friday, 10 October 2008
When it was opened, it was the largest single-span bridge in the UK. Have a look at this article, too.
I don't think I'd known before that trams ran across the bridge until 1950. Neither did I know before reading the linked article that the north tower now has the largest inland breeding population of kittiwakes in the UK. It does explain why the bottom of the tower is covered in quite so much bird shit, though....
I also found this article from the 75th birthday of the bridge. The men who worked on constructing it worked 80 feet over the river without any safety harnesses or ropes. It's amazing that only one man died during its construction.
(Don't forget to check out the new blog. New post soon!)
Thursday, 9 October 2008
Saturday, 4 October 2008
Friday, 3 October 2008
I'm not a Geordie. I wasn't born here, so I never will be. One of my friends has lived here since he was four, sounds as Geordie as they come, but he's not a Geordie. (Strangely enough he identifies as Scottish, even though he's barely lived there.) So B the girl who didn't move here til she was in her mid 20s (18-21 aside) definitely doesn't count.
However, belonging is a different matter. I've written about this before, but I feel slightly different now. Now, I feel that maybe this place doesn't belong to me. But maybe that doesn't matter.
I wasn't born here - - but I had my formative years here.
My family isn't here - - but the family of the man I chose is - - my in-laws.
I don't have the accent of the place I was born - - I don't sound Geordie either (not even to those who don't live here), but some of the words have filtered into my lexicon.
I belong here, even if here doesn't belong to me.
Do you belong anywhere? If so, where? If no, are you OK with that?
Thursday, 2 October 2008
one of them is the fact that because the metro lines don't go straight from a to b, and because there are various offshoots of tunnels that aren't used by the passenger trains, when I'm in the city centre I'm never sure whether or not trains are rumbling past beneath my feet.
and when you look closely in the dark at the walls of the tunnels, you can sometimes see these dark offshoots. i'd love to be able to explore. with big lights and protective clothing, and weapons. just in case creatures or madmen haunt the darkness.
i love that the huge slope from the top of town (the haymarket end) to the bottom (central station and the quayside) means that the stretch of metro line running between south gosforth and central, the train station, starts outside and - even though it seems mostly flat - goes underground at jesmond. by haymarket (the next stop) the station has one of the longest escalators on the metro system. there's another long one at monument, but then - because the ground slopes away - one of the shortest at central. even though the ground drops away so steeply from central that the metro comes out and crosses the tyne very high over the river.
the fact that at haymarket, you turn left to go north and right to go south. at monument, you turn left to go south and right to go north, causing potential confusion for anyone who isn't concentrating (me, on more than one occasion).
i don't love everything. i hate the fact that they got rid of the cheery 'stand clear of the doors please!' and replaced it with a strangely-accented 'doors closing'. this was supposedly to make it clearer for non-english speakers, but i don't see how.
i don't love that i don't live near enough to use it to get into town. the bus system is pretty good, but it still gets stuck in traffic. the metro doesn't have that problem.
all in all, it's a pretty great system.
some photos are going onto flickr, if you're interested.
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
This place is home. This place is the view from my window. But now, this is where I write.
I need somewhere separate.
I also hope that those who shouted taunts to this poor kid, that those who had nothing better to do with their afternoons than film footage of him jumping off a building, never sleep peacefully again. I know that some people can be evil, that crowds can sometimes provide protection for saying and doing things that you'd never normally do. But I still can't believe what they did. And I'd rather live in a world where I find such things hard to believe than be able to expect them.
I didn't know the boy, but it still hurts that one of the last things he heard was people taunting him, telling him to jump. I know he made the choice; I understand informed consent, but who knows if they tipped him over the edge - almost literally.
update: Cas's comment about the lack of heroism these days reminded me of this equally tragic story. It makes me want to cry that the crowd turned on this man and killed him.
It was a homeless man and his girlfriend that Frank McGarahan was trying to protect. Not someone that he had to stand up for; a friend, a family member... a work colleague. Just someone who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He tried to help, and he died for it.
What the hell is wrong with our society?
Monday, 29 September 2008
6am doesn't exist on a Saturday, for me.
But I needed to catch a train at 7.30am. Meet up with another observant blogger at Durham (well, that was the plan anyway, although two southbound trains within five minutes from Durham station caused a small amount of confusion that ended with us meeting on Platform 4 at York). Change trains at York and meet my parents off the train for them to take us to Borders at Cheshire Oaks. And meet up with the very lovely Ms Smailes.
Yes, I went to Caroline' signing at Cheshire Oaks. I took cakes and erasers. One of them was even a lighthouse eraser. Me? Try and bribe people to make them *heart* me the most?
(It didn't work anyway. I think a certain t shirt may have stolen her heart....)
And for a certain other blogger, I post this photo and hope it makes you smile and that the roses were as lovely as you hoped:
I didn't talk to Caroline as much as I'd planned to as I didn't want to monopolise her conversation too much. But I did play with her children, and they are very lovely. And I did meet some very very very (one each!) lovely blog people. And I hope to meet them all again soon.
That night, I read my copy of Black Boxes until midnight when I reluctantly put it down, exhausted from the early start. As soon as I got on the train the next day, I started reading again. I ended up changing trains at York, sitting on Platform 5, finishing the book and crying openly. It's that good, and I'll post a review in a few days.
I came back full of enthusiasm for writing and full of gratitude for all my new friends.
Saturday, 27 September 2008
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Sunday, 21 September 2008
If so, anyway, pop on over to Sarah *G*'s place. She has a wii to raffle and tickets are only £2.
The raffle is in aid of Kidney Research UK. Sarah, mad as she is, is also running the London Marathon to raise much needed funds for this great charity as her daughter was born with one normal and one Multicystic Dysplastic Kidney. Clickety here for more information.
Click on over, buy a raffle ticket and wish Sarah all the very best of luck!
Saturday, 20 September 2008
(it's from lj, but i'm sure we can assume it just means people who read your blog, right?)
- The Trachtenberg Speed System of Mathematics, translated by Ann Cutler and Rudolph McShane (I started to work through this and loved it, but just didn't have the time to keep going. Maybe one day)
- Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, by Vendela Vida (beautiful. bleak. amazing)
- The Contortionist's Handbook, by Daniel Clevenger (chosen by D on the strength of the Chuck Palahniuk quote on the front: 'I swear to god this is the best book I have read in years'. In the end, I loved it; D wasn't so keen. It tempted me towards the dark side, but I stayed away.)
- Cleanskin, by Val McDermid. (Read it because it's great. Read it because of what you find out about tattoos and lymph nodes. Read it because it's short. Just read it.)
- Cheating slightly: Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen, by Garth Nix. Should be as popular as Harry Potter and the His Dark Materials trilogy. Loved it. I suspect it's not quite as popular as it should be because it centres around girls and women.
- Charlotte Sometimes, by Penelope Farmer. Yes, the book that inspired the Cure song. It's really good.
- The Taxi Driver's Daughter, by Julia Darling. Beautiful, and makes me sad that she died so young. What else could she have written.... (If I'm wrong about anything, I suspect it's this. Clare might have it.)
- The Half Life of Stars, by Louise Wener. Yes that Louise Wener.
- Strangers, by Taichi Yamada. I fell in love with the cover, and the book backed it up.
- The Origin of the World: Science and Fiction of the Vag1na, by Jelto Drenth. Bought after reading this review. It didn't let me down.
Have you read any of them? Go ahead, prove me wrong :o)
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
The tour I'd aimed for (9.45am Saturday) was fully booked, but someone didn't turn up, so they let me on anyway. I'd heard of it before (I'd half planned to go to a Val McDermid launch there at one point but missed it) but didn't know where it was - for some reason I thought it was the opposite end of Westgate Road to where it is. It's actually towards St Nicholas's Cathedral from the station, not towards Fenham.
Confusion notwithstanding, I found where I was going and joined the tour. At first I just stood and listened, but after only a couple of minutes I found myself scrabbling for my notebook and jotting down the most fascinating facts. And they were mostly fascinating.
The Society was formed in 1793, and the building was built in 1825. They own upwards of 155,000 books, but didn't keep a catalogue until 1893. After a party for the centenary of the Lit and Phil, a fire started. Noone knew how many books were lost as there was no record of what they owned.
If you're a member you can borrow books from 1860 onwards. I tremble with excitement at the mere idea.
The Hancock Museum was set up using a collection that had been bought by the Lit and Phil and housed in a small 'Newcastle Museum'. In the end, it outgrew the space available, and was moved to the site of the Hancock Museum, which was named such in 1890 after the naturalist John Hancock's death. Next year the museum will reopen as the Great North Museum. The Society of Antiquities was also started as part of the Lit and Phil.
And they have a Silent Room. How great is that?
Now I just need to find £65 to become a member....
Photos on flickr if you are interested.
Sunday, 14 September 2008
Turns out his partner has read Disraeli Avenue.
I realise it's unlikely, but if you're reading, say hi?
I've put photos on facebook for Caroline, but they will also be going onto flickr soon. Close to two hundred taken today. I've taken more photos in the last two days than I took in four days in Paris.
After that, I went back into Newcastle. Didn't end up doing Dance City; the timings didn't work out, unfortunately, and I've seen it before so I'm sure I can wait until next year. I went to Central Square and Central Square South, though; took photos of Vulcan and Reaching for the Stars outside. (I would never have found Reaching for the Stars without Mike and Cassandra, but I even told some people about it today.) If you ever get the chance to go into either of the buildings, do; Central Square has some amazing sculptures and some pictures of the construction of Vulcan, and Central Square South has some stairs that look like they are hovering in mid air. And a clock showing the time in New York. (I somehow don't think they mean this New York.) I just wish I could have taken photos inside of the buildings.
I really need to find some more of this street art.
After that, I dashed to Haymarket just in time to pick up the last tour of the Civic Centre this weekend. It was amazing. A building that is so ugly from some angles and so beautiful from others, as I said here.
I didn't end up going over to see my mother in law. We went to Asda and his grandma's instead. Was a nice day, but I can't believe it's work again tomorrow.
I can't believe how lucky I am to live in a place with so many wonderful things all around. I can't believe I have to wait a full year to see everything else.....
Thanks again for the heads up, Mike.
Saturday, 13 September 2008
So far this weekend, I've
- done a tour of the Literary and Philosophical Society (aka the Lit and Phil)
- looked round the Cathedral Church of St Nicholas and climbed the tower
- explored the Castle Keep
- visited Bessie Surtees' House
- been to Alderman Fenwick's House
- toured the Holy Jesus Hospital
- been shown round the old Newcastle Breweries' Offices
- looked round the Friends Meeting House in Jesmond.
I got home to D handing me a glass of fresh orange and a cup of tea and the smell of tea on the go. Just about to eat now. I love my hubby.
Tomorrow I plan to do Dance City, Central Square and Central Square South, the Civic Centre, and St Mary's Lighthouse. Then go to my mother-in-law's house for a meal, hopefully.
And that supposedly major protest in Newcastle city centre about the management of the football team? I didn't see or hear a thing of it.
If you're ever walking along the Quayside at night, it's worth stopping to watch the colours change.
Beyond the bridge, you can see the lights along the banks of the Tyne. To the left, the streetlights down the Quayside. To the right, the Baltic.
Newcastle is magical at night.
Friday, 12 September 2008
Now I have a huge huge list of things that I'd like to visit and see and do over the next two days. Literally seventeen places that I'd like to get to over two days. It's probably as well that I didn't look earlier, as if I had had time to actually book some of these things in advance... it probably would have been thirty or forty things. The insides of the Tyne Bridge? The Baltic? The Swing Bridge motor room? Jesmond Old Cemetery - including the catacombs under Newcastle? I can't believe I'm missing all these things!
And I've only looked at Gateshead, Newcastle and North Tyneside; if I'd let myself look at South Tyneside or Gateshead... well who knows where that would have ended.
Some of them I've seen before (Dance City; the Baltic) and some I could see anytime, although I'd maybe have to pay. But the lure of seeing these places for free... and the lure of getting into areas I'd not normally be able to get into... it's delicious.
I know it's rather late, but I'm going to list the things I want to do below. If you'd particularly recommend one, or if you think one will turn out to be rather dull... well let me know sooner rather than later. Because apparently I'll be out rather early in the morning.
- The Sage Gateshead (I think I'll leave this one off; you can go in anytime, right?)
- Alderman Fenwick's House
- Bessie Surtees' House
- The Biscuit Factory (I think I'll do this one some other time, too)
- Cathedral Church of St Nicholas
- Central Square and Central Square South
- Dance City (I've been here many times before, but just can't resist the idea of getting to see places that aren't usually open to the public)
- Castle Keep (I could go anytime, but it's freeeee!)
- Friends Meeting House
- Holy Jesus Hospital (I'm really keen to do this - but apparently it's only a couple of quid to do the guided tour normally, so maybe I'll leave this one out. But then there are parts open that aren't normally open. Aaargh!)
- Literary and Philosophical Society
- Newcastle Brewery Offices (a link defeated me for this)
- Newcastle Civic Centre
- St Mary's Lighthouse (I might leave this one out, just because it's only open in the mornings and it's the opposite way to nearly everything else. But... I kinda really want to, and not just because Cas really wants to see one right now.
Wednesday, 10 September 2008
Everyone I spoke to seemed miserable. Bemoaning the grey damp cold. The end of summer. The inevitable decline of the weather.
After work, I went out for tea.
I had a nice, albeit incredibly garlicky, meal with some old work colleagues. We went to El Torrerro on the Side.
The Side is a very slopy street. It was pouring with rain when we left. Streams were flowing down towards the river.
We laughed and splashed and sang our way back to the car park.
This was the view from my car window as I waited at the top of Dean Street to go home.
Saturday was even wetter. Rivers burst. Morpeth flooded. I wondered if our car was going to wash away.
This was taken this morning. Sunlight through the trees.
It was a beautiful autumnal morning.
I've been hearing rumours of an Indian summer.
I didn't believe them, not at first.
But maybe, after the sunshine this morning. Maybe I can.
And I can always hope.
Tuesday, 9 September 2008
I told some friends about it yesterday and my parents today. So I guess I'm public now. This blog is one thing; but a high-profile site like that, that is featured on the local BBC site? I kinda want the credit. Don't hate me.
Don't worry. I do still love blogging here, and the other site will never replace this.
Some more news. As of yesterday, I have started a trial period of flexible working (so Cally's comment was pretty close here). Still full time hours, but worked over a nine day fortnight. This gives me one day a fortnight to be at home and write, when it's quiet and peaceful. The first day is this Friday. I am so excited (I am living in a permanent state of excitement right now). It's good to feel that I'm taking a positive step in carving out space for writing.
If you're bored, why not go play with the new widget for Black Boxes? It's just over there to the right *points* and it's tons of fun.
Saturday, 6 September 2008
I'm the new contributor to Newcastle upon Tyne Daily Photo!
I'm really excited about it, and I'm looking forward to taking and posting many more photographs of the great city I live in.
(Sorry to keep you all in suspense. I didn't want to say before Cassandra had a chance to announce it.
It was fun watching you all guess, though!)
Thursday, 4 September 2008
But I am mean and not going to announce it yet. I'm going to go to the pub with some friends instead. I'm not sure when it's really official so will announce it as soon as I know.
Feel free to speculate in the comments if you'd like though!
(And no Cas, it's not that!)
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
And yet now, noone seems to know what the hell is going on. Is Keegan sacked? Newcastle deny it. Has he walked out? He doesn't seem to be saying, either way.
So far everyone seems to be supporting him. But if he doesn't step forward and say what the hell's going on soon, I doubt that will last much longer.
What I don't get is why Newcastle didn't scupper this rumour as soon as it started this morning. That's what makes me suspicious. If all in the garden was rosy, then I can't imagine they would have let the rumours take on the mantle of fact all day like this. Let the Newcastle fans make such a racket. (And don't these people have jobs? Seriously, every time something happens at the football team suddenly they are all outside St James' Park.)
I've said it before and I'll say it again, although the true football fans would find this sacrilegious. Sometimes I forget I'm not a Newcastle fan.
Monday, 1 September 2008
(c) B @ watchinggeordielife.blogspot.com. All rights reserved
The biro flew across the room and fell into the corner. Thomas considered letting the computer follow it, but at the last minute settled for kicking it instead. The box rattled in its nest at the bottom of the desk. It did nothing to alleviate his mood.
That bloody novel. He'd been working on it for nearly four years now and it was still barely half finished. So many times he'd decided to give it up. So many times he'd decided to go out and get a life, already. But every single time, it crept back into his mind. Bled into his subconscious like a wound that just wouldn't heal. And then - every. Single. Time - he picked up his pen once more, started making notes, writing details about his characters, and the words would flow.
For all of two days.
And then they would start to dry up once more.
Dust tickled his nose as he scrabbled round for his pen. This was getting ridiculous. He needed to put this stupid novel out of his mind, once and for all.
He would let his pen choose. It could be a pointer to help him decide whether he should try and struggle on, or, well. Whether he should give it up as a bad job, after all.
Thomas walked over to the cupboard where he kept his most treasured possessions. The picture of his parents, days before they died. The photo of him and Christie, laughing, suntanned, on holiday in Goa. How long ago it seemed now. He'd thought she was happy with him, that she'd enjoyed their holiday as much as he had. But on the last night it had all come out. How bored she'd been when he'd been spending his mornings writing. 'Nothing to do! The first few days were great, but...'
He shut his mind to the memories. This was not the time.
Thomas opened the cupboard, pulled out a polished dark wood box. His heartbeat quickened as he placed it reverentially on the floor. The pen went into the centre of the floor. He unplugged his computer mouse. That would be for the choice of carrying on. After some thought, he wriggled up into the loft and threw down his battered green suitcase. He needed that third choice, of running away.
He bowed his head and prayed to noone at all for the right answer.
Then Thomas spun the pen. It revolved half-heartedly a couple of times, then came to rest quicker than he'd expected.
It was pointing at the box.
"Thank Christ," he said aloud and jumped. His own voice reverberated in the still air.
He crawled over to the box, undid the latch. Opened the lid slowly, wondering at the contents.
The dull metal.
At last. He could say goodbye to this world. To the people who didn't take him seriously, didn't believe he could make it.
To the blasted novel.
As he pulled out the gun, he suddenly seemed to leave his body. To float up to the ceiling. He watched himself, detached, as he cradled the gun in his arms.
"This would make a great scene in my novel," he thought.
And he snapped back into his body. Grinning, he laid the gun back in the box, and walked back to the computer.
Maybe this time, he thought, it will be different.
OK, I know it's not the best story in the world, but it amused me to write and it got a laugh at the group. I hope you enjoy it too.
I've been looking for one for a while (I even emailed a load of writerly people I met at a Mslexia focus group to find out a) if there were any out there or b) if anyone was interested in setting one up) but not got anywhere.
But tonight I finally got to one.
It wasn't quite what I expected, though. I kinda thought that one of the points of joining a writers' group was to get feedback on what you've written. There was none of that. In fact, if I hadn't asked the leader, I don't think we would even have told each other our names (....! I was hoping to hear how long people had been going to the group, what their experience was, what they were interested in, but all we got was a list of names that I'll never remember as I have no details to hang them on). Instead, we were given details of this month's competition and two sheets of prompts; we wrote for 20 minutes or so from one of the prompts, then read out our stories. Afterwards, we could each read out something that we'd brought along, and the leader gave us a card with the website for the group on.
It didn't work.
I did enjoy it, don't get me wrong. But I'd expected something more.
Anyway. I quite liked what I came up with. So I thought I'd post it. I will put it in its own post though. Feel free to post feedback in the comments - or not. It's not something I've revised or edited at all, but I hope you enjoy it.
Saturday, 30 August 2008
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Everything You Ever Wanted by Rosalind Wyllie
I couldn't stop reading this.
Seriously. It's written in short chapters that race along at a rate of knots. Whenever I tried to stop reading, I would think 'oh, just another chapter'. Three hours later I'd still be there. When I finished, I just wanted there to be more.
It's 1991 and that bloody Bryan Adams song is everywhere. Tiggy and Scarlett both work at Mario's, a hostess club in Mayfair. Scarlett's got a plan; Tiggy's just coasting. Then their paths cross, with results that neither of them would have predicted.
I can't say everything I want to without giving away the ending. You'll have to buy it to find out!
It's a great book. Buy it from amazon, or get it with Being Normal by Stephen Shieber for just £10 direct from Tonto. It's a great deal!
Being Normal by Stephen Shieber
Another fab book (but then, if they weren't, I wouldn't bother telling you about them, would I?). This is a collection of short stories. Publishers say there is no market for short story collections. I say they're wrong. That if they only published short story collections and promoted them properly, they would outsell novels. I mean, why wouldn't they? If people have less and less time for hobbies, including reading, then surely short stories are the perfect answer. Dip in and out, depending on the time you have.
Anyway, I digress.
I tried to do a proper review at amazon. But what I really wanted to say was that I fell a little bit in love with Goth Boy of the title story, Being Normal. My jaw dropped open at A Public Display of Clairvoyance. My heart broke at Solitary Pursuits.
I cried at Don't Try This At Home.
I can't wait to see what either of these two authors come up with next.
Buy it from amazon or from Tonto (link above). But buy it. Buy both of them.
And finally, Disraeli Avenue by Caroline Smailes
I've already reviewed this book. I still think it's every bit as fantastic as I did back then. I have a printed-out copy from the ebook; I'm getting an exciting and incredibly rare paperback version; and I've already pre-ordered the hardback.
I'm not normally this obsessive.
To tell you why I care so much, I'll quote from the author herself.
"This novella will be published as a limited edition of 500 hardback books and all 500 books will be signed and numbered."
(Only 500! So don't hang about, OK?)
"The pre-order will be available direct from bluechrome at only £10 and this book will arrive before Christmas, being dispatched on December 01 2008 (the ideal Christmas present!). All books remaining after the pre-order will have an official release on January 15 2009 (the actual RRP will be £12.99).
(And it's cheaper if you order it now, too!)
"Most importantly, all profit from the sale of Disraeli Avenue will go to One in Four the organisation run for and by people who have experienced sexual abuse."
(And at the end of the day, this is the most important reason why you should buy it. And if you buy early, direct from bluechrome, more of the profits will go to One in Four.)
Please buy this excellent book. Please spread the word.
Thanks for reading.
Sunday, 24 August 2008
I've probably been out less than ten times since last October, until this weekend. And the times I have been out I've forced myself to keep on. Done 5k and then been dead on my feet. Not wanted to make the effort. Not been able to get myself back into a routine. I've put on fat around my stomach. Watched as D started an exercise routine and started to get fitter than me for the first time ever.
It only occurred to me a few weeks ago that what I need to do is give myself a break. To get back into the habit of going out three times a week, but just for short runs. To enjoy it. To realise that I need to build a solid base again. I've been out twice this weekend and will be out again tomorrow. And suddenly, I'm enjoying it again. I won't be able to run the whole Cancer Research 10k I'm doing on 7th September at Alnwick Castle, but who cares? I'll run as much as I can and walk the rest. I'll take my time and not make myself ill. I'll build my stamina back up over time.
The breakthrough in how to make myself write again still eludes me.
Things that might help:
- if we had a cleaner
- and a secretary to deal with all the paperwork
- and someone to list all the things on eBay that we don't want to throw out because 'they might be worth something'. Ha. Not if they're not listed, they're not.
- if i stopped being such a control-freak and got D to deal with some of the house stuff (house insurance, stuff like that)
- a half time job for full time pay
- an extra day a week to read on the books on my TBR list
- someone to sort out all my photos on the computer
I've applied for a nine-day fortnight in work, which might actually help. Full time hours, still, but a day clear every other week in a quiet house. But the rest? I'm drawing a blank.
And I hate myself for it.
I hate myself for being too scared to Just. Do. It.
But the only way around is to Just. Do. It.
So I will.
(I've added a counter-thing to firefox. Tells me how long this session has lasted. 24.50 so far. I really should go to bed. Tomorrow is another day, untainted by failure. I can do this.....)
Back soon for some book reviews.
Thursday, 21 August 2008
I now have another three signed books, another three friends on facebook (hopefully soon to be four), and have even somehow managed to hold onto the memories of the night even through the haze of wine that I ended up inhaling. Damned V making me laugh when I was drinking. I think it was starting on an empty stomach that was my first mistake. And I'm quite surprised that Nik and Christina didn't run away when they had the chance. V and I basically invited ourselves along for tea with them. They had the opportunity to run away when we went to the loo, but didn't. I'm not sure why. I would've.
Anyway. Roz has now been put in charge of planning all launches. If she ever wants to give up writing she'll have a great back-up career as a party planner....
Oh and the books are great too. Watch out for reviews, coming soon!
The other reason I dropped by was to tell my fellow A363-ers that not only is the coursebook now listed on amazon (you didn't hear it from me, OK?), but the course calendar is now available on the OUSA A363 forum. TMA dates! The second one is due in the Friday before Christmas. How sadistic are these people?
Oh well, at least my birthday's clear....
(Give me a few more days. I'm feeling much better now - having such a fab night out Tuesday really helped - but I still need a few more days off.)
Sunday, 17 August 2008
My youngest sis and her boyfriend came to visit this weekend. I'd only met him properly once before, but he's lovely, and the pair of them are so cute together. We went to Tynemouth, to the Priory and to Marshalls for fish and chips. Today we went to the Baltic before they left.
Normally I'm happy about where I live - I love it here and I can't imagine living back where I'm from.
Normally I don't feel like I'm missing out, being so far away from my family.
Right now, though, I do. I wish I could be closer to them all without leaving here.
I need a break. The internet is taking too much time and energy. I need a short holiday from it. Ten days or so. There's nothing wrong; I just need some space.
Hope everyone is doing well out there. See you soon.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
I'm tired and headachey and rather annoyed. I just spent 23 minutes on the phone to O2, trying to move from pay as you go to contract. I knew the phone I wanted and the deal; I just wanted to do it. Turns out the phone's only listed as pay as you go; it is available for contract but it's out of stock so the woman on the phone couldn't see it. I could go into the shop but would only get 125 texts instead of 250. In the end she checked the website's stock and told me it was in stock there so I would be able to either call that store in the morning or order it now. Well I've just been on the website and it's only listed as in stock as pay as you go there, too, and not as a free phone either - just as one you need to pay £49 for on pay bloody monthly. One of the reasons I wanted this sodding phone was because it's free on pay monthly!
For two pins right now I'd move to Orange. Except I don't want to move to Orange, I want to stay with O2.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Monday, 11 August 2008
I'm doing the Elswick Cup on Wednesday. Looking at the previous times there is a very good chance I will be last by about 10 minutes. I may decide before then not to bother..........
Will start posting properly again in the next few days.
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Likelihood of you being FEMALE is 31%
Likelihood of you being MALE is 69%
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
Back now, but still on leave for a while yet. It's great. Tea with friends tomorrow, a night in with friends and a hen night over the weekend, and two trips to the cinema to go before we're back at work (Dark Knight and X Files - I'm more looking forward to the X Files but that may change after D makes me watch Batman Begins).
Oh and I got my mark back for the open university creative writing course.
I got a distinction, ie a Level 1 pass.
I do not understand how. A few days before we went to Paris I opened up my ECA (ie the component that is 50% of my final mark) to start writing the next bit. When I reread, I was horrified that I'd submitted it - it was awful, to fresh eyes. I wasn't convinced it hadn't dragged my grade down to a Level 3 pass.
Since I found that out, I am writing again. And not just forcing out my hundred words. Writing, and thinking like a writer again. Letting the ideas raise to the surface. I have ideas galore, once more.
Funny how a little external verification of internal skill can make all the difference.
I have targets for what I want to do before I go back to work. I have targets for what I want to do before the next course starts.
I am good at this. I have the spark of inspiration, and I've been working on improving the technical side. It obviously showed, or I wouldn't have done so well.
I have to follow up with actually making submissions. And persevering when the going gets difficult.
(I've tagged this as 'lucky'. Not that I am lucky in my score. Just that I am lucky to be able to live this life. To be able to write, and have people who support me. To have friends and family who believe in me. And now, back to the writing, while D watches Dexter.)
Thursday, 31 July 2008
I used to know a guy. He'd lived here forever, or thereabouts. He lived in Shieldfield for quite a while. Yet whenever he got drunk, he'd get into a taxi and ask it to take him to Sheffield.
Not quite the same place.
When the taxi drivers queried it, he was always adamant that he wanted to go to Sheffield, not Shieldfield.
I was always surprised when he turned up. I'm amazed he never got stranded in Yorkshire.
(I've been in Paris for a few days. It was very hot. Had a great time.)
Monday, 28 July 2008
For the minute, here is a pic of the metro for Lane, who sounded excited about the metro in Newcastle in this post. It's a bit shy, so it's hiding in the trees:
Will see if I can find a braver one to get a shot of soon!
Sunday, 27 July 2008
On Friday, I went out with the express intention of not going clubbing, of just going out for a drink. But this time I went.
Confused? I was too.
I went out with M again. Her sisters were out, along with with some of her friends. I knew they were going out for some drinks first and then on to the World Headquarters, but I didn't fancy it. Anyway, I used to go to the Trent House years ago, the sister pub to the World HQ. I loved the Trent House, but I never managed to find the World HQ - something always went wrong when I planned to go there. So I thought that something would go wrong this time.
And it did, kinda. I planned to get the late night bus home, but I managed to miss the one I was going for and M and the rest were going to World HQ. There was an hour before the next bus, so I went in.
It wasn't what I expected at all. Good, but not what I expected. No flashy lights; just orange lights round the edges where the tables are and lights at the bar and the DJ pit. Just loads and loads of people, dancing on a crammed dance floor, and some others sitting round the edges.
We danced for the next 50 minutes, then I made a dash for the next bus - realising in the process that I was rather drunker than I'd thought. Still, I got home safely and managed to make and ate some oven chips before falling into bed just after 3am. D was fast asleep, bless 'im, after a hard night on the playstation.
It was a good night.
Thursday, 24 July 2008
I am on such a winning streak.
At the work quiz two weeks ago today (the day before I went to London for the Novel Racers meet), I had two raffle tickets; both won.
Last Saturday, at the barbecue I was at in Blaydon, I had one raffle ticket; it won.
Today I went to the bingo and won twice with a full house and my friend won with 2 lines; we came out with nearly twice as much as we went in with. (We decided the first time we went that we would split all winnings, but this was the first time that was put to the test; my friends were trying not to look too hopeful and were all genuinely excited for me, but they were so pleased when I said I would hold to our agreement and split!)
(On my second full house all my friend were watching my card and knew I was waiting for 18; I'd lost count so when it came up I didn't realise I'd won. They had to tell me to call. Luckily someone else had also called else I would've been too late.)
I am so winning Caroline's book and I am so winning Lucy's. And I am so winning the lottery this weekend too.
I am sooooo excited that I could scream. I had to hug all my friends on the way out.
I think we cracked the staff up, being so excited about our winnings. Anyone would have thought that we'd won hundreds each, not less than twenty quid. It was a fab night.
Edited to add a photo!
Edited again to add: if I win the jackpot on Saturday, the next novel racers meet is on me. If I win a tenner, maybe not......
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
I'm the opposite. Newcastle is so full of one way systems, of streets you can't turn down, that if you rely on driving then you will miss out on the obvious links. When I first moved here, I just understood the basics (Fenham to the west, Byker and Heaton to the east, Jesmond and Gosforth to the north, Gateshead on the other side of the river) but I quickly filled in the details over the time I was here. It's only a few months since we've had a car, so if I'd relied on that, it would have taken me a loooong time to learn the geography of Newcastle.
How do you learn these things? If you live in Newcastle, how did you work out its geography? (I suppose that question only works if you're not a native) If not, what's easiest where you live?
Tuesday, 22 July 2008
This lunchtime, I went into town. I met two friends at Starbucks. We sat outside and chatted, watched the world go by. Drank coffee so thick that the stirrers stood up in it.
The sun was shining. It was warm. Friends walked past and said hi. It was just what I needed.
I've realised that I don't make enough time for fun in my life. I'm trying to change that. Today lunch with friends. Thursday bingo. Time with D over the weekend and next week.
I hope the sun keeps shining.