Thursday, 31 December 2009

i just sorted out our budget. we're hundreds of pounds overspent this month.

i just posted on facebook 'how did christmas cost so much?'. but really i know. it's because i didn't have the energy or the strength to do my shopping in good time, so paid over the odds for stuff i could have got cheaper on the interweb. and because i bought more stuff for paul because a) i knew what he got for me and it cost a lot (he does do great christmas presents) and b) because i wanted to make up for what we've lost. he was (and is) the same. i know it doesn't work like that, but... what else can we do?

and it's because we've been coping by spending large amounts of money on things we don't need. books. cds. dvds. clothes. i know it's not healthy or sensible. but our baby died.

we're coping as best we can.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

snow

On Wednesday night last week, I posted on facebook that it was hailing really badly. The hailstones were bouncing off the ground outside. I was glad to be inside, in the warm, not needing to go anywhere.

That was the start.

On Thursday I went into town (for a dentists appointment, nothing festive). As I stood at the bus stop, waiting for my bus home, I updated my facebook status to say that the sky looked like snow. It had that yellowy cast that often means snow is on the way. Sure enough, just after I sent that message, white flakes started to fall, getting heavy by the time I got home.

It kept on snowing. On Friday I went to Jesmond for a christmas meal. The snow was still powdery and dry, mostly, but in places it was compact and icy, scary to walk on.

On Saturday it stopped. I went into town in the afternoon, desperate to get some last few things for Christmas (or so I thought... I still was buying yesterday). When I was in one shop in Eldon Square, one of the assistants turned to another and said 'I hope it's still snowing outside!'. I considered telling her that it wasn't snowing when I'd come in. That it was quite bad enough, anyway. But when I came out and walked along Blackett Bridge, I saw that outside it was snowing again. Heavily.

I'd never seen snow lying on Northumberland Street before then. It normally has so many people walking along that any snow gets trodden away sharpish.

Not that evening.

On Sunday, I think, it did not snow. But the snow was still lying on the ground. On roads that are normally gritted, too. All along the pavements, still powdery. Still dry. Not like snow is normally in this country once it's lying for the fourth day.

On Sunday night, the temperature in Newcastle fell to -6C.


On Monday morning, I got up for the winter solstice sunrise at the coast. The snow was still powdery in the early morning dark. It sparkled in the street lights as I walked.

It wasn't forecast to snow that day, but as I left the house the first few flakes were falling once more. It snowed constantly for at least an hour and a half. Then the sun shone, for the rest of the day. Bright white, reflecting a blinding glare from the snow.



That night the temperature was -6C again.

Tuesday it didn't snow. We weren't forecast any more snow, but the temperature wasn't forecast to rise high enough for it all to melt yet, either. In the main shopping streets in Newcastle there wasn't a trace, but round the edges, it was still there. If you looked.



Yesterday it didn't snow. The air was still bitter, the snow on the ground still thick and slippery in places, so I stayed at home, in the warm.

I've never known snow last this long in populated areas. No, not even here in the frozen wastes* of the North East. It's always been gone in a day or two, except maybe in a few isolated places. But this time, although the main roads might be clear, many of the minor ones that would normally have no trace of snow still have snow compacted under the weight of hundreds of cars. The pavements, dry and powdery for days - nothing like the grey slush snow in England turns to almost immediately - are still treacherous, still covered in frozen snow.
*Yes, I'm being ironic. It's not that bad here!

Today. Christmas Eve. The car wasn't iced up when I left to give D a lift to work first thing; just a thin layer of frost, easily scraped away. The snow on the ground had started to look thinner. I was sad. I didn't want a huge amount of snow, but it would be nice to have some on the ground on Christmas Day. But as I left the house to come into town on the bus, an hour or so later, it was raining. Cold, stinging rain, but rain none the less.

That's that, I thought.

It rained at the bus stop. It rained as I was ferried into town. But then, half way in, it started to look whiter. More like sleet.

Then the sleet turned to snow.

It turned back a couple of times. Just to keep me on my toes. But it snowed for a good 45 minutes or so. It was snowing as I started to type, sitting in Starbucks (...where else?). It's turning back to sleet right now. But I still hope that our garden will be white tomorrow morning.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and I thank you all for reading and for your support in this difficult time. It means the world.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

SANDS campaign

SANDS is the Stillbirth And Neonatal Death Charity.

NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, currently has four different documents that deal with people who have had a stillborn baby (clinical definition: a baby born dead after the 24th week of pregnancy). Each of those uses a slightly different wording about whether parents should be able to, or encouraged to, see and hold the baby after its birth. Some parents won't want to; that's fine, but some of the wording implies that parents should not be able to, even if they want to.

NICE has agreed to meet SANDS in the new year to discuss this. But SANDS obviously wants to demonstrate that there is support for parents to have this right.

Please sign this petition to call on NICE to clarify its guidelines so that parents who want to can use this right.

Thank you.

four weeks.

It was four weeks ago exactly. Four weeks ago that we had the midwife's appointment that ended up with us venturing up to the hospital, expecting everything to be fine. Knowing everything was fine.

Four weeks ago that we ended up in the scan room. Still not expecting anything to be wrong. But there was. There was.

It was only four weeks ago. How is it only four weeks ago?

How can four weeks have passed already?

Christmas day is exactly a month since it happened.

I'm kind of scared.

anger

The worst thing -

No. Not the worst thing. Everything about this is the worst thing.

One of the many worst things about this is the loss of time. The feeling that we've lost a year in the race* to have children. A year that, in my early thirties, I just don't have.

By the time it happens again, by the time I actually have a baby in my arms (pleasepleaseplease), I'll be pushing 35, if not actually 35. And no, that's not much different to the 34 years and one month I would have been if this baby had been destined to be born. But it does make a difference. '35' is that magic number when suddenly you're considered to be old, in childbearing terms.

It's just so frustrating.

I miss this baby so much. It seems crazy, to miss something that was only ever a potential baby. Something that was destined never to be.

But I'm angry with it too. For wasting my time.


*I know it's not a race. But this was the word that came out, and although I considered changing it, it felt like the right word.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I feel bad for being in the internet right now. For being able to blog and post photos and write, generally. Even when half of what I'm writing is about my miscarriage. About how crap it all is.

This really helped. There is no normal. There is no 'you should be feeling this'. 'You should be acting like this.' No one has said that I shouldn't be doing this. But I'm good at feeling that I'm doing something wrong.

I'm coping with this as best I can. And it really, really sucks. One of my friends said to me something along the lines of that I have to go through this - I can't just wake up and I'm all better. It's a process. A grieving process for someone I've never met. A grieving process for the person I wanted to be.

Talking online is part of that. For better or worse, it just is. It's part of who I am, what I do. I blog. I talk to friends via facebook, via email. Some days I meet friends for coffee and talk, and cry. Some days I write in my journal, and cry.

Some days I blog, and cry.

I can't explain it. But it helps.

Monday, 21 December 2009

It's official: Borders is closing

I'm sitting in Starbucks (in Borders) at Silverlink right now. They just killed the music for one of the staff to do an impromptu little blues-y type number about how the store is closing tomorrow and how there's 70-80% off everything. Everyone in the store (including the Starbucks staff) stopped to listen, and applauded him at the end.

I can't believe it's actually true. I may have sounded flippant on the photo site when I called this kicking me when I'm down - but I really do mean it. At times like these, you cling to the familiar, to comforts that help you feel better, and this place is one of those. I know I'll find familiar faces on the shelves - both people I don't know and people I do (and many more, but if I start linking everyone we'll be here all day). I know I can plug in my netbook and sit with a coffee and write, or just sit here and peoplewatch or read. It's one of the things we do at weekends - D browses (and picks up endless piles of books - if everyone spent here like we did this would not be happening. Is that good or bad?) while I sit upstairs with a coffee and write, until he comes and joins me and grins, trying to hide how many books he has behind his back.

That's not going to happen any more. Waterstones is good, don't get me wrong, but it's not the same. It means a trip into town, and there's not a coffee shop inside.

If I was rich, I would totally buy this one shop (maybe along with those on Team Valley and in York) and make it work. Somehow.

Goodbye Borders. Weekends won't be the same without you.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

A change of mind

I've changed my mind.

It's not October I want to go back to. It's the me I was that afternoon. The he that D was. Sitting in the assessment unit, bored as anything and hungry for our lunch.

Because we genuinely, truly, 100% believed that everything was OK. That the baby was just lying too low down to hear its heartbeat. It really hadn't occurred to us that anything could be wrong. Or, no - it had, but we'd discounted it. My midwife had said it was probably OK. The midwives at the unit didn't look worried. They seemed to be in no rush to get us in for the scan. Surely if there was any chance something was wrong they would have whisked us in by now. And anyway. We were way past 12 weeks. No pain. No bleeding. There was nothing wrong. How could there be?

I had considered sending D back to work when the midwife sent me to the hospital. I felt guilty for stopping him from going back - he had work to do! and everything was OK! - but he never considered not coming with me.

I don't know what I would have done without him.

I can't believe that, if (pleasegodno) we ever find ourselves in that situation again, we'll be able to believe that there is the slightest chance that everything is OK.

It's going to be hard.

Comments

Word verification has been switched on. I've been having to delete more and more spam comments and it's annoying me. I don't want to stop people from commenting anonymously (although noone ever does, really!) but if this doesn't stop them I will.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Fault

While delaying childbearing does increase the risk of miscarriage, it does not mean you deserve one. ...

It is worth remembering that women who delay childbearing usually do so in order to achieve a better balance in their lives. ... This benefits not only themselves, but their children; we may be at the lowest risk of miscarriage in our early 20s, but few of us would be the best mothers we could be at that age. Studies have shown that older mothers are likely to be more calm, relaxed, patient, and confident. They are also more likely to make time to enjoy their child, and are better at encouraging speech and independence in the child. ...

Whatever your reasons for waiting, they were the right reasons for you, and it is admirable to manage your life to try and achieve the best balance. While these chances may increase your risk of miscarriage, they do not mean you deserve one, or that you don't deserve children. And perhaps these same choices will make your home a happier one when you do become a mother.


This quote is taken from the book Avoiding Miscarriage by Susan Rousselot. It arrived in the post today and I read it from cover to cover as quickly as I could.

This quote in particular made me cry and cry.

I didn't even know how much guilt I was feeling about waiting until I'm in my thirties before trying. But it was the right choice for us. We weren't ready to take this step before now.

Rousselot wrote the book because it didn't exist when she needed it. When she couldn't find a publisher or an agent who was interested, she self-published it.

I'm still terrified that this will happen to me again. A book can't cure that. But I feel a tiny bit more positive now. That maybe even if this ends up happening to us again that I'll cope.

I still have a lot of grieving to do. For my own lost identity (I was going to be a mother; now I'm not. We were going to be a family of three; now we're not.) as well as for the baby we've lost. But I'm starting to feel that once the grief has started to ease, that we can take that chance. That we will be able to try again.

If you have concerns that you will have a miscarriage,
buy this book. If you've had a miscarriage and you're scared you'll have another, buy this book.

If you're a publisher or an agent, please contact Susan Rousselot. This book is well written and well presented and immensely important for the thousands and thousands of women out there who have suffered a miscarriage.


Wednesday, 9 December 2009

October wasn't all that long ago.

I keep thinking about that week we were off. I ate a lot to fight off queasiness, and we bought a car. Noone knew yet, except our families, and a couple of friends. It was still our secret.

We joked, talked, laughed about our baby.

Two weeks later, we saw - him? her? (it hurts that i'll never know) - on a scan. Tiny arms, legs, heart. Beating away. We went back to work, showed off our pics to our respective colleagues. We weren't quite at the 12 week mark, but we knew the odds were in our favour. Our risk of miscarriage less than 0.6%.

If the scan picks up a heartbeat and the baby appears to be the right size according to your dates, this can be very reassuring. Research has shown that if you see a heartbeat at 6 weeks of pregnancy, the chances of the pregnancy continuing are 78%. A heartbeat at 8 weeks increases the chance of a continuing pregnancy to 98% and at 10 weeks to 99.4%. So things could still go wrong, but as long as there is a heartbeat, the risk of miscarriage decreases as the weeks go by. (from here)


Ten days later. You left, but remained. It was another four whole weeks before we found out what had happened.

I want to go back.

I don't want you to be gone.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

I realise that many of you will already know by now but I've had some sad news... see the photo site for more details.

I can't believe I never announced it here. I thought I had plenty of time. It's hard to realise how fragile life can be.

(cross posted on non geordie writer)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Visitors, bands and new cars

I've had a great week. Even though I was back to work after a week off.

Loria came to stay with me on Wednesday for two nights. We hadn't seen each other for over eight years - since March 2001 when we met up in London and York. I've only been blogging here since March 2007, and before that I hadn't blogged for a while - but back in 2000-01 I was hugely active on the internet. I spent a hell of a lot of time on a Tori Amos forum and on a load of sites hosted at descending.net, and had a website at envy.nu/piecesofme and a blog-type-thing that's amazingly still out there. (Warning - it started out chatty and ended up political, just in case you're going to have a read.)

And Loria was visiting the UK. So we met up. And it was great. It wasn't like we'd never met before; it was like carrying on a conversation we just happened to have started by email. This isn't too surprising now, but back then - it was amazing.

We'd always said that sooner or later we'd meet up again. I've never had any money to go visit her, so Loria ended up getting over to visit me again. And again, it was just like carrying on that same conversation.

We went to see Editors on Wednesday night, and I took Thursday as leave and showed her round Newcastle. Grey Street, Monument, the Grainger Market, the Theatre Royal (where we had lunch), St James' Park, the Quayside, the Millennium Bridge... we spent hours wandering Newcastle. It was fab.

She left on Friday morning and I can't believe how fast the time went. I can't wait to see her again. I think maybe next time it's my turn to do the travelling :o)

And we got a new car on Wednesday too! New to us, not brand new, but still - a shiny new blue Ford Focus. We are temporarily a two-car family. It's a strange feeling.

How's your week been? Any exciting happenings?

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Just a warning for those in Newcastle

A girl in my office was fined £50 for dropping her cigarette butt on the pavement outside work the other day. The thing that scares me* about it is that they made her go into work and get some ID and, I think, said the fine would be increased if she didn't provide it.

What if you don't carry ID? Or cash? Or a cash card? What happens then?

I only have a very limited amount of sympathy - after all, Newcastle Council had a pretty big campaign a little while ago along the lines of 'however you dress it up it's still litter', featuring cigarette ends with lipstick or with green leopard print paper instead of the usual yellow end, stating that you could be fined £50 for dropping a cigarette end. And you shouldn't just drop them, anyway. It's nasty.

So be warned.

*not that I drop litter, but that's not the point.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Obsessions

Dammit. I've been tagged. And I hoped noone had noticed that I'd disappeared....

I think everyone in the world has already done this (I'm really out of the loop recently), so I won't tag anyone, but if you've been left out and kinda sad that noone has noticed - then consider this your tag.

My obsessions.... hmmmm.

1. Reading. D was fascinated when he first visited my parents' house by the number of books everywhere. He wasn't used to a culture where reading is encouraged. Now, he's a worse bibliophile than me (word used advisedly - he keeps every book he's ever read, whether he liked it or not. I realise that if we both did that sooner or later we'd have to start camping in the garden so the books could stay dry). But I love reading, and although I go through phases when I don't read so much, I'm still the girl who couldn't go upstairs in my parents' house without sitting down to read on the stairs.

2. Music. Nine Inch Nails. Placebo. They're my current obsessions, but it's music generally. I never go a day without listening to something - in my head if nothing else. At the minute I'm listening to a certain kind of music - but I do listen to quite a range. My main criteria is passion. You need to mean what you're singing. Watching Trent Reznor sing live - now there's a man who means it. I can't believe he's giving up playing live *sob*

3. Lost. So shoot me - they can't all be deep and meaningful! D and I are currently on The Great Lost Re-watch. We're half way through Season 3 and will finish the whole lot before the last season starts. I'm loving it. How the writers can take such a flawed bunch and make the viewers care SO MUCH about what the hell happens to them - I'm in awe. The acting is mostly flawless, the twists and turns of the story walk just this side of believable, the scenery, the way they can have similar things happen from finale to finale (things blowing up! Locke in a box! Ben stabbing someone!) and still make it different and believable - it's amazing.

4. Writing. This would normally go higher up on the list, but I've been on a bit of a break recently. After the hectic pace I was going at before, it's only natural; but it's still weird.

I've been writing since I was about 7 or 8, on and off. I've flirted with the idea of taking it seriously in the past, but only recently been really working at it with any amount of consistency.

In a week where I've been dealing with a lot of rejection it's hard to keep going, to think that I really do have something worth saying. But - I've got to keep trying. Better writers than me have suffered more rejection. I need to keep writing, to keep reading, to keep improving. To keep learning.

I've got to keep on.

5. Photography. I'm really missing this one at the mo. My camera broke yonks back, and I've only just got round to getting it sorted out (I've got so much on at the mo - it's been hard to keep up with everything). But I love taking pictures, I love creating a record of the things I see.

My photography course started a week or so back. I haven't started yet. Typical. But I'm going to, this weekend. I'm not a great photographer, just a keen amateur that's sometimes lucky. But I want to improve. And there's always the photo site to keep me working.

That was really hard!

I am enjoying blogging again though. See y'all again soon.

Friday, 9 October 2009

The Lego Men are no more :o(

D and I went into town yesterday. As we went past Haymarket along Percy Street, I let out a cry.

'The Lego Men have gone!'

I'm really disappointed. I know they were unpopular, and they were really expensive for what they were, and I know that I love the standard black railings with the castle motif -

- but -

the lego men! They were the only place in town you got something a bit different to separate the road from the pavement.

I still hope they make a comeback.

For a pic of what they looked like in the glory days, see here.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

disappearing acts

So, it's forever since I posted anything of substance, either here or on the writing blog, and I think it'll be a little while before I do still. Nothing's wrong, don't worry; I'm just having a ridiculously busy life at the mo, and I haven't got any energy left for this place. Or, indeed, for writing generally.

I'll be back. Hopefully soon. Just not yet.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

I'll be back soon.

Sorry. I didn't mean to disappear.

I'll be back soon. If nothing else, it's the Tyne and Wear Heritage Open Days this weekend - and I'll want to tell you about it all.

For the minute, though, go and read Mosh's latest blog post. And if there's something you want to do - DO IT NOW. Life is short. You might not be around to do it later.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Tyne and Wear Heritage Open Days - 2009

They are here! Thanks to Mike on the photo site for the heads up, as I'd managed to forget between being in work and getting home on Monday.

I am now driving myself entirely mental trying to work out what to see when. There's too much! And I don't have the annual leave to do everything :(

All the info is here. I'll be really miffed if anyone using that links gets on tours I want on and manage to miss. ;o)

Monday, 3 August 2009

In memorandum

I'd never been to St James' Park before today.

I'd been in for an event at my previous job, but that's not quite the same. I'd never been to a match, or into the stands. But at lunchtime I joined many, many people and made my way to the stadium.

I was a bit scared that I wouldn't know where to go. What to do. I needn't have worried. There were so many people there that all I needed to do was follow the crowds. I was amazed at how many people there were, even at lunchtime. Even in the summer holidays.

I've posted the pictures on flickr so I won't post any here. Instead, I'll say that it brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes to read the messages that people had written.

I hope that it's some small amount of comfort for Sir Bobby's family to know just how loved he was. Not just in Newcastle - not just in football - but universally.

I signed one of the books of condolences. I've never done that before. I wrote that football, the north east and the world in general are the poorer for his absence.

He will be sorely missed.

Make a donation to Sir Bobby's charity here.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Sadness.

Sir Bobby Robson has lost his fight with cancer.

Football in particular, and the world in general, are the poorer for it.

I found out on a train this morning. If I'd been on my own I would have shed a tear.

This article has some beautiful tributes.

That wedding video

I thought this was interesting. Because while watching that wedding video, I could not get out of my head the fact that Chris Brown (whose song is playing) beat up his girlfriend Rihanna.

It's particularly interesting, as D absolutely detests Michael Jackson. He believes the rumours were all true, and can't separate the art from the man (cf G@ry Glitter - how often do you hear one of his songs these days?). Whereas I can see them as different. (Although I do take on board that Glitter was found guilty and MJ wasn't.)

But not in the case of Chris Brown apparently.

Either way, I can't help wondering. Couldn't that couple have picked a song by a different artist?

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Holy Island

I was fascinated by this story on the BBC - particularly as we actually spent some time on Holy Island this week.

Basically, on average one car a month ignores the huge number of warning signs and doesn't bother to check the tide times before setting off to or from the island. The cars end up cutting out when they hit the rising water and the people are stranded and need to be winched to safety by helicopter. At a cost of around £4000 a time.

I checked the tide times before we left Newcastle. Twice. I knew for sure that we were driving over right in the middle of the safe period. And I knew we were leaving about 20 minutes before the safe period ended. And both times I had to stop myself from actually stopping to check the tide times where they are posted at each end of the Causeway - it was quite clear that it was safe.

So I don't understand what makes people take chances like that. It's not even people on their own - often there are children in the car. It's bad enough if you take chances with your own life - although I'd love to see people billed for their rescues if they have clearly been negligent - but why would you risk the lives of your children?

Having said that, I'd hate to see the Causeway raised, or a bridge built. The first time we visited the island, we stayed on while the tide came in and wandered round. The islanders are right - it's the thought of being cut off from the world that gives the island its magical quality. No ferries, no cars (where is there to drive on such a small island?) - just peace and quiet, maybe a drink or a meal in the pub. A walk in the solitude.

I'd highly recommend a visit there if you are ever in Northumberland. But don't say I didn't warn you about the safe crossing times.

More information on Holy Island from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Monday, 20 July 2009

In Lidl before.
D: Oh. Cilit Bang's half price.
B: You want to get some?
D: (after considering) Yeah, go on.

Our flat, a little later. D is reading a magazine I just bought.

D: Oooh, an article about turning into your Mum!
B: Go on then, let's hear the worst.
D: Starts reading out random suggestions, proving the inevitable, before coming to number 9, which reads: Cilit Bang's on offer... and you're genuinely quite excited. Puts his head in his hands
B: Oh my God!
D: It's true! I'm turning into your Mum.

Which is obviously far worse than me turning into my own Mum. I feel much better now.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Identity.

I used to be someone else.

But didn't everyone, really? People change. Things happen. Your clothes change, your hair, your taste in reading and music and even friends, sometimes. You can't remain the same forever.

I used to wear Doc Martens and ripped jeans. A leather jacket. I used to wear earrings like this in the three holes in one ear. I used to dye my hair black or red. I used to wear band t-shirts almost exclusively. (Ah, Metallica t-shirts, where did you go? Even though I don't really listen to them any more, I'd still like to see you one more time.)

The thing that makes me sad is that I don't even know when I stopped, or why. I can tell you when and why I stopped wearing makeup - and roughly when I started to again, albeit only occasionally. I can tell you when (near enough) and why I cut my hair really short (and nearly made my mum cry). I can tell you when and why I went veggie, when and why I stopped eating dairy (although noone ever really understands so I'd rather not get into it right now, thank you).

But when and why I stopped being that girl? I haven't got a clue.

It started to come back about three years back. I started going to see bands again. Got some band t-shirts. Started to dye my hair red again. But...

I still wasn't the same me. The old me.

But then. Eighteen months or so back I got back in touch with an old, old friend. One I haven't seen in years, who I've known since I was 16, or thereabouts (...so quite a while ago). She has cool parents, who have good taste in music and are pretty laid-back - but I introduced her to a certain band (who we both still obsess over now) and through that she ended up with her now-husband. And she still wears docs, and when she's not at work she still wears goth-inspired clothing, although I would class her (like I did myself back in the day) a "too-happy-to-be-a-goth".

We hadn't been in touch for years, before I saw her outside the Manchester Apollo after watching
that certain band in 2007. I'd suspected she might be there, and I suddenly realised how horribly much I missed her. We got back in touch; we've met up a few times since then. It's good to see her again.

And then she and I (and her husband) went to see
that certain band last Tuesday. And in preparation I put on a DVD last Sunday. And suddenly - quite, quite unexpectedly - I was throwing myself round my living room. And moshing.

I haven't moshed in years. Let alone at home on my own in the middle of a Sunday afternoon.

I was so excited to go and see the band. I was standing - two people back from the barrier by halfway through, and I stayed there til the bitter end. They were amazing. Excellent. Awe-inspiring. I was bouncing up and down on the way back to the car. My friend and I obsessed (mostly about Trent) all the way back to hers, where I stayed before coming back home on Wednesday morning.

I feel like I've suddenly rediscovered who I really am. I'm using all three of those holes in my ears again. I want some boots again. I even went to Kathmandu today. It's not that I want to reject everything I've done over the past few years - I can wear heels now, I can wear makeup or leave it off; I'm doing quite well for myself, really - but I need to incorporate the two together. I need to be me, again.

I'm quite happy with hole-free jeans though. Some things really are better left behind.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

A public service announcement

I love Nine Inch Nails.
And I love Trent Reznor. The guy is sex on a stick.
And I'm sad they are going away.
But they rocked last night in Manchester. They were amazing.

Edited to add this vid. It's from the gig I was at. I was too far to the left to touch him though. Oh well.... :o)


Friday, 3 July 2009

Friday night.

It's been pretty nice weather up here this week.

I haven't been enjoying it. Events have been conspiring against me, as they say. (They? Who are they?) On Monday my hayfever was joined by a cold. On Monday night they partied together in my brain, keeping me from sleeping; by Tuesday, I felt so grotty that I had to take the day off sick, which I was not happy about. I needed to go into the office first; I got the bus back home and the sun was glorious as I walked up my road.

But I didn't appreciate it. I drew my curtains, lay on the sofa and slept.

Wednesday I felt better, and the sun was scorching again. I made it into work, did as much as I could. I had the afternoon off, but by the time I left it was raining. There were stormy showers all afternoon as I wrote, first in the new library then Starbucks. In the evening we went to Asda. (What a thrilling life we lead.)

Yesterday was beautiful once more, but I was ensconced in work, unable to enjoy the sunshine. Today I worked well over ten hours, didn't leave work until well after seven. Not what I'd choose for a Friday. I barely beat the cleaners out of the building.

It was nearly eight by the time I got home. I had tea, watched Scrubs with D. Decompressed. By the time I decided that yes, I did want some wine, it was past ten. I drove to the supermarket, Sisters of Mercy on the stereo. Got my wine, left the store.

Breathed in the cold. It felt like forever since I'd been out in fresh air.

I drove towards the pregnant moon, hanging in front of me like a beacon. I left my CD off, opened the windows. Let the night in.

It felt good.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Taxi Driver

Seven fifty-five am. He's in the car next to me, gazing sadly sideways. You couldn't make him up; no one would believe such a stereotype still exists. Flat cap, grey hair visible underneath. Cigarette balanced carelessly between his fingers.

A Starbucks coffee is balanced incongruously on his dashboard.

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Michael Jackson is dead. Farrah Fawcett is dead. Jeebers - who's next? These things come in threes....

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I've been to the Hoppings twice now, Wednesday night and Thursday night. Watch out for photos Saturday and Sunday. I had a fab time.

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My first coffee morning post on Novel Racers will be up soon. I'm really nervous.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

I went out in Jesmond last night with some people from D's work. We left about 11pm, about the same time as J, D's favourite colleague (unfortunately, though, the night out was in her honour as she is leaving their work and the UK). So we offered her a lift home as she doesn't live too far from us.

With the whole 'leaving the country' thing, they have furniture they need to get rid of. We're interested in the bookshelves (of course!) so she asked if we wanted to pop in and have a look and we said yes (after that obligatory mind-reading things couples have to do where we looked at each other, each trying to figure out if the other really wanted to). We were barely in the door before her boyfriend had greeted us, asking if we wanted a cup of tea. After some more 'I will if you will' type shenanigans, we said yes.

So, sitting down with a cuppa, we first talked about books. J has really good taste in literature, and pointed me in the direction of some things I really have to look up (and I pointed her in the general direction of An Ungodly Child, amongst others - recently finished it and really enjoyed it, and I think J would too). Then she and D wandered off into discussion of films, and her boyfriend and I interjected random opinions every so often, some of which went down better than others - J and D are film buffs; J's boyfriend and I, well, aren't.

After a while, D sat forward and I realised it was probably time to make a move. As we left, I realised it was 1am. I can't remember the last time we just sat and chatted with friends like that, impromptu, until so late. It felt really good. Even if they are really young and kinda made me feel old ( I realised that a) he's younger than my little sis and b) it's now 15 years since I first started uni - aaargh!).

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We're going to the Hoppings with them next week, before they leave. I'm really looking forward to it.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

question.

How many of you have ex boyfriends/girlfriends as friends on facebook?

I have had three serious boyfriends before I got married to D. Two of them I'm friends with on fb (one of those doesn't actually ever log into his account, but I'm friends with his girlfriend and talk to her sometimes). The third I'm not, but I'm friends with his fiancée who he left me for. (.... yeah, don't ask me to explain how that happened. I can't.)

There is also the curious question of our best friend, who I had a very short-lived fling with when we first met. I don't count him as an ex - he's like my brother now, that would be too weird! - but D argued last night that he is.

Is that weird? Should I drop them?

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

someone take my credit card away?

so now this year, I'm going to see:
  • Nine Inch Nails (july)
  • Elbow (september)
  • Editors (october)
  • White Lies (november)
  • Placebo (december)
two in newcastle, three in manchester.

and then we are going to go bankrupt. at least i'll have the memories of my favourite bands to keep me company.....

i only wish i could afford to go and see Alice Cooper when he plays City Hall, too.....

and i kinda wish there was someone in august to make it every month for the last 6 months of the year! shoot me now....

Saturday, 13 June 2009

coming back

I didn't mean to wander off for so long.

Hope all is well with everyone. I've been busy. What with the end of my course, and then a family trip to Europe to visit my sister for my mum's birthday, and then writing going really well at the mo, and a frankly ridiculously busy social life at the mo (I've been out for a meal five times in the last four days!) - I haven't had much time for blogging. I have been keeping up the pics at Newcastle Daily Photo for those wanting a little piece of Newcastle, and I've been posting a little at non Geordie writer too, but I've been missing this place. I do see it as my main blog - the main piece of me, rather than 'being Newcastle' or 'being a writer' - so I'll be writing more soon.

It's good to be back. How are things with you? Any news?

(Oh - just in case you are interested, the meals out were at Scalinis [the Jesmond one], the Angel at Corbridge, Pizza Express, my friend C's house, and Peppy's in Heaton. If you want reviews of any, just shout. Although I don't think C's house is open to the general public - even though the food was fab!)

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Plug

The amazing Rachel Green has a fantastic competion going on on her blog right now. Comment on this post and if you're the lucky winner she'll send you a copy of Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Which I thought I'd read, but apparently haven't. But it's sitting on my bookshelf so I really should. Along with all the other books I haven't read yet.

And then you should go order Rachel's book, An Ungodly Child, which looks fab and I can't wait to read. I actually ordered it for myself today as a reward for handing in my final assignment. So what are you waiting for? Get clicking!

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Haymarket

I'm not sure how many people who come here actually live in Newcastle - but for those who do, Haymarket metro is now closed until 26th May. It will also close for the next three weekends after that. Trains are passing through, but not stopping there.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

cuteness

I know most of you won't share my utter adoration for all things Nine Inch Nails. But I had to share my utter love for all teh fluffiness that's going on round the band recently. First Trent Reznor falls in love and gets engaged (he's asking for RomCom recommendations on twitter for chrissakes!), then the crew find abandoned fluffy kittehs and ask for someone to adopt them.

Is all so cute! Everyone's coming over all hearts and flowers. Bless. But this still made me laugh.

Monday, 4 May 2009

restaurants

First, a quick shout out. I was in town today with D, and needed change for the car park. Only problem is that there are very few places near Dean Street car park that give change.

In desparation, I called into Prima Pizza Pasta, ready to pretend that that's where we were going to eat if they refused to give me change.

BUT - when I asked for change of a £5 note, they gave it to me, no problems, with big beaming smiles.

I haven't eaten there for a while - since my friend N's graduation last summer, in fact. But service like that makes me want to go back. Soon.

The place we went, the Red House, was unfortunately slightly more problematic - although still had helpful staff and tasty food.

It's normally me who causes problems when we go out. I'm vegetarian but there are other things I don't eat. The Red House is good as it links to Bob Trollop next door which is veggie - so D can eat meat and I can eat from a great selection of veggie food. At least that's the theory - I've had problems there before with 'vegan option available' selections turning up as non-vegan even after asking for the vegan one (I'm not vegan but eating as if I were is often easier than explaining what I do and don't eat and putting up with blank stares when I ask what contains what) and having to send it away and get a new version.

Still, today, my food was perfect. It was D's that was the problem. Which made a change...

There weren't any eggs. Or steak. And as they were two of the main parts of what he ordered, this was an issue.

The staff were really helpful, and refunded money we'd ended up overpaying and hadn't asked for back (35p isn't worth quibbling over but it's nice if someone comes over to give it you back). And I think that they ended up letting D order something that's usually only available on Sundays without a word, so top marks there. So well done to the staff... but to the kitchen: could you stock up better for the next bank holiday weekend? Thanks.

Question: I know that some people have no interest in Newcastle but read this blog anyway - and that some love Newcastle and read it for memories of life there. Are people interested in reviews or comments on restaurants and anything similar? I go out quite a bit, but don't want to bore people if they're not interested.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

the earth moves

I happened to phone my manager at 11.20BST today.

'Did you feel that? Just now?' he asked.

I didn't know what he was talking about.

'The building shook. My desk was rattling.'

I hadn't felt a thing.

But I work on the ground floor. He works on the top floor. And it turned out that nearly everyone on the top floor (and a couple of people elsewhere in the building) felt it. Their desks shook, computers rattled. And two, at least, have been through earthquakes before. They knew it was the same thing.

Down in my office, nothing had happened.

According to the BBC, the earthquake was in Ulverston. And felt as far away as 'Barrow, Kendal, Windermere, and as far south as Blackpool and Lytham St Annes'.

Ulverston to Lytham St Anne is 74 miles, according to multimap (by road admittedly - not that far as the crow flies). To Newcastle (again by road, not direct) is 127 miles.

WHY IS NOONE MENTIONING THAT IT WAS FELT IN NEWCASTLE TOO? I've commented on the BBC - still no mention. At least two of my work colleagues (signposted by me... I'm sad) have filled in the questionnaire on the British Geological Survey's website. And still it's not mentioned anywhere.

Was it really just my building???? Did noone else in Newcastle feel it?

I'm just glad there was at least one other person in my office to have been really quite miffed to miss it.

(and we're not talking about football. just in case you were wondering whether you should mention it. i've always hated rugby but maybe i could learn to love it?)

Friday, 10 April 2009

Sounds

Walking down my road just before, I heard a foghorn from a ship somewhere on the Tyne.

I love that I can hear such evocative sounds from where I live.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

memories

Today I went past a bus stop that I pass regularly. But something about the light, something about a girl standing there, something made me remember.

A morning, sometime in late winter or early spring 1997. Standing at that bus stop with D, after spending the night at his. Not that anything happened. We sat up nearly all night, talking with his friends and watching videos (ah, the olden days, before DVDs). During the course of the night, one of his friends told him that there were Cure t shirts being sold off for £1 in what was then Virgin, a deal that was still pretty impressive even in the 1990s. D was due to sign up for a college course the next morning, so decided to drop in at Virgin on the way.

At this point we were pretty much nocturnal. D, one of his friends (A, I think?) and I woke up after not enough sleep and made our way to the bus stop. The one I passed today.

The sun had not long since risen and the light was thin and white, highlighting trees and buildings. D blinked and looked up. 'Is it always this beautiful in the morning?' he asked.

I didn't know how to answer.

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I don't know why all these old memories are suddenly floating to the surface.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Anniversary

It's our fifth wedding anniversary today. Pop over to Newcastle upon Tyne daily photo for a special photo and post.

It's looking like a beautiful day....

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Memories

D and I first kissed in a club in Newcastle, on his birthday.

There's a whole backstory that I can't be bothered to tell right now. But outside the club, it was cold and raining and we were on our own. He put his hands in my pockets to keep them warm, and we both knew where it was going.

Inside the club, the friend who'd temporarily left to give someone else a lift home turned up again, but seeing what was going to happen and not wanting to get in the way, he disappeared sharpish.

That club, for those who were in Newcastle in the mid-late 90s, was the Riverside. The Riverside then went on to become Foundation; a different club, but that was OK, right?

We drove past the other day. It's now a Price Watch supermarket.

That makes me really, really sad.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

The Quayside

I went out for a meal with some friends last night to celebrate E and M getting engaged.


(the staircase)


We went to Rumpolis's. The building is under the Tyne Bridge, one of those huge old buildings that are a little ramshackle but all the better for it.






(the mosaic in the stairwell)

The food was pretty nice too. I can particularly recommend the tomato garlic bread.



(the mirror in the ladies' loos)



After I left, I noticed that the Millennium Bridge was lit up red for Comic Relief. I had wanted to get home quickly to do some work, but I couldn't resist walking along the Quayside to get some photos. (For the result, you'll have to check out the photo site tomorrow!)

As I walked back along, I saw a couple of groups of people taking photos of each other with the bridges in the background. The first three girls were holding out their camera to try and get them all; the second was a group of lads and lasses with one man stooping in front for the pic.

I offered to take pictures for them. They were all very grateful - in fact another girl in the second group passed her camera to me too, so I took two of them.

It's nice to do a good turn from time to time :o)

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edited to add: links updated round here. let me know if you find anything broken.

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edited again to add that I'm now updating my flickr photostream again if you're interested.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

signs

on the way to work the other week, i looked at the sign that tells you how many car parking spaces there are in different directions.

it told me that there were 2,850 spaces if you turned left, or 2,850 spaces if you went straight on.

it made me happy.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

one good turn?

I was standing at the bus stop when a woman walked up to me.

'Do you pay for your bus fares?'

I looked at her, nonplussed. 'I do... but I've got a day pass...'

'I've paid for a day pass and I don't need it any more.'

We looked at each other, unsure what to do.

'Give it here. I'll try and pass it on to someone else.'

She nodded, satisfied, and passed me the ticket, before striding off purposefully.

I waited, satisfied that I was going to be able to do someone a good turn.

But no one turned up at the bus stop before I got on.

There was no one at the bus stop when I got off.

There was one guy that arrived at the bus stop when I was waiting for the bus home. But he already had a ticket.

And there was a guy getting onto the bus as I got off, but he already had a pass.

And there was no one at the stop opposite.


I feel really cheated that by the time I got home, I had two day passes and I couldn't pass them on to anyone for trying.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Me.

I'm still alive.

I seem to have more followers than I did. I don't understand why, what with me not having updated in about 6 weeks. Ooops.

Someone's off work long-term sick, and the work is falling to me. To make it more interesting, her job currently consists of three half-time jobs, and mine currently consists of one full-time job. So that adds up to 2.5 jobs in 37 hours a week. 0.5 of that is being passed to someone else, but as with anything like that explaining to someone else all the ins and outs of a pretty complicated, exacting service takes time. I'm well aware that TPTB (The Powers That Be) aren't giving me as much work as they normally do, but I've still been feeling ill with the pressure.

There is a Plan. TPTB have a plan, but it won't kick in til April. I'm just very glad that I've got a week's leave coming up soon. I don't know if there's a plan for that week, but that's not my problem. Thank Cheeee-rist.

I'd like to thank Vix for listening to me stress. That's one of the things that's been helping me through.

I'll be posting again soon, hopefully, but probably not regularly for a while. We'll see.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

I've considered myself tagged.

Lane has posted the fourth picture in the fourth folder on her computer - it's worth clicking, they are great shots!

The fourth folder in my My Pictures folder is my 2005 folder. So here's the fourth pic in there:






Which didn't strike me as very exciting. It's a photo to demonstrate how flooded the back of our house gets when it rains really hard.



But the fourth picture in the fourth folder in the fourth folder! Now that's more interesting...

This was taken in the Isle of Man.

One of my great aunts, my grandma's sister, lived most of her adult life in the Isle of Man. When her husband died she moved back to England to be nearer her family. But her heart was always out on The Island.

Her husband had been buried (or maybe cremated, I'm not sure) out there. So it was agreed that my aunt's ashes would be taken out to the Island.

I only spent 24 hours there. The tiny plane that flew me out only got to about 15,000 feet before starting its decent. It was a strange journey. But my mum and dad, and my aunt and uncle, took me to different places on the Island. I really enjoyed visiting again.

I flew out on a Wednesday and returned on the Thursday. When I went back to work on the Friday, I felt like I'd had an entire week's leave. The air is different out there.

Until I saw this photo, I'd forgotten how much I wanted to go back.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Observation

As I drove over the roundabout, I saw flashing blue lights going down the Coast Road underneath at quite some speed.

'Flashies,' said D. 'Wonder what's happened.'

I took the slip road onto the Coast Road. Just before I joined the road itself, I noticed that the blue lights had slowed considerably or stopped and that a couple of cars not far ahead, while still moving, had their hazard lights on. 'Something's wrong,' I said. I could see cars coming up fast in my mirror so I switched my hazard lights on too and they slowed down. I stayed in the inside lane and kept my speed to about 30mph (the limit there is 70).

Before we got to the incident, I became aware of a car in the outside lane going at at least 70mph, probably more like 80 or 85.

In the dark.

Towards the back of the stationary police car.

It realised there was something going on just in time and braked, just about managing to get into my lane in front of me and carrying on.

The policeman was out of the car anyway and running towards some stationary cars ahead.

As we passed the police car, we saw a fox - a HUGE fox - lying in the road. A car at right angles to the road, its bonnet caved in. Two men standing on the side of the road, not looking as shaken as I would've had it been me. Another car, further forward; I'm not sure if that was involved or if it just stopped because it'd seen the accident.

It didn't look to have been too bad an accident, considering. It could have been a lot worse, if it hadn't been Sunday night. At rush hour, that would have been a multiple-car pile up (stopping distances don't seem to exist while driving to work on the Coast Road on a weekday morning).

But I can't help but wonder. If you're driving along a dual carriageway in the dark - and a police car passes you at speed - and then there are blue lights, not moving, in front of you - and all the cars around have their hazard warning lights on -

at what point DON'T you think 'hmmm, maybe something's wrong. Maybe I'd better slow down.'


If he'd slowed five seconds later, he wouldn't have stopped in time.

He might have swerved into me.

I'm not saying I'm a great driver; I'm not. Sometimes I'm impatient. Sometimes I'm careless. Everyone is. But I always make an effort to be a safe driver. I watch the road well ahead for possible risks. I use my hazard lights to warn other drivers of possible dangers. If I'm not sure what's going on, I slow down.

Some days I really bug D by telling him cars ahead are slowing down or have stopped. But I'd rather tell him when he might not have noticed than risk us having a crash.

I'm glad we're both OK and that the situation didn't get any worse. I was scared for a minute there.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Geordie-ish-ness

There hasn't been much Geordie-ness on here recently. This is to rectify that a little.

The word 'Carpets' on top of Storey's carpets has been replaced with the words 'I love u'. Who knew there were romantics in Byker? (Incidentally - this is where we got our bedroom carpet from. Yay!)

And if you'd like to see the best of 2008 from the photo site, click here to go to a gallery of my favourite shots from 2008. I tried to keep it to one a month, really I did, but I couldn't. Eighteen was the absolutely minimum I could manage, and I still left out some fantastic shots. Oh, and most of the shots are Cassandra's - only 12, 13, 16, 17 and 18 are mine.

(I have a course deadline Friday. Then it's D's birthday on Saturday. Once all that's out of the way... I have another deadline on 23rd Jan :os Once all that's out of the way, I hope to get back to blogging and commenting again. I'm better than I was a few months ago. But not much.)

Monday, 5 January 2009

Award!

So like a month ago the lovely leigh gave my blog an award. This has only happened maybe once before, and is very exciting. Unfortunately it happened when my mojo was still lurking undiscovered in my trainers, so I smiled a small smile to myself and... kept leigh's post unread in my google reader so I wouldn't forget.

And then felt really guilty for ages for not doing anything about it.

The Rules for receiving the above award are:
1. Copy and paste the rules and instructions into your post.
2. Post the award, and a link to the person who gave it to you.
3. Post five of your addictions.
4. Post five winners and link to them as well.
5. Inform your winners by commenting on their blogs.

I think pretty much everyone has had this award now, and I don't do 'you must pass this on to x people' games anyway, but if you haven't had this award I hereby give it to you.

My obsessions?
1) Facebook and blogs. try keeping me off the interweb for 24 hours and I'll get stressed as hell.
2) Nail polish. Silver and red and purple and blue and green and mmmmmmm.... it has to be exciting colours.
3) Val McDermid. And reading generally.
4) I debated for ages about whether to say writing. But as something that i like to do that makes my life happier and that i can obsess about, then i'm gonna say writing!
5) I will steal 'being on time' from Leigh - although more accurately, it's 'not being late'. My family was compulsively late when I was a kid, and I bloody hate it now. I am normally early for most things, although when it goes wrong I a) stress the hell out and b) tend to be very late.

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I'm happy I'm blogging again.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

2008 in review

Questions taken from Becky. Thanks Becky!

1. What has been your biggest achievement this year?

Getting a distinction in the Open University course. I'm still not sure how I managed it, but I'm really proud of myself.

2. What made you laugh most this year?
Mock the Week. And playing on Wii Fit.

3. What has been your favourite/most listened to piece of music this year?
The Slip by Nine Inch Nails. No contest. And it's a free download, people!

4. What was your best holiday this year?
Three days in Paris, then a trip to a caravan in Maryport. Glorious sunshine and two weeks to relax. It was amazing.

5. What new skill, if any, have you acquired this year?
Poetry! I never expected that.

6. What's your happiest/fondest memory of this year?
There have been quite a few, even though this year has been pretty stressful for large parts. Going to see The Cure in London for our wedding anniversary. Going to Paris and Carlisle. My dad's birthday.

7. What's the best book you've read this year?
Stephen King's On Writing. And Black Boxes by the lovely Caroline.

8. If you could spend next year as a film character, who would that be?
Trinity from the Matrix. COOLEST CHARACTER EVER.

9. What new hobby did you take up/old hobby did you reinstate this year?
I took over the majority of posting to Newcastle Daily Photo. I'm really proud of that and of the good response I've had. And I've rediscovered my love of baking. The respect I get in work is a great side effect :o)

10. What one thing would you really like to do next year?
Write. Move house to somewhere bigger. Make my fortune.

11. What has been your best discovery of this year?
Hovis Seed Sensations Rich and Roasted. I rue the day that someone introduced me to that stuff. Normal bread just isn't good enough any more.

12. What news story of this year has had the biggest impact on you/do you most remember?
The financial stuff. And the fiasco that Newcastle United has turned into.

13. What's the best film you've seen this year? (can be at the cinema or DVD etc)
I'm not sure. Maybe Juno? Oooh maybe Control or Joy Division. They were both excellent, heart-wrenching films.

14. What was your best buy this year?
My exciting black corduroy coat from Per Una at M&S! I also got a great new camera and a netbook but they were presents so don't count.

15. What has been your best day out this year?
Maybe the Blue Reef aquarium. That was fabulous! Also all the meetings with lovely blog-gers - especially at the Novel Racer meet (I don't have enough words to link you all!). I also have met some great people in my tutor group through my course.

16. Is there anywhere you'd like to visit next year?
Anywhere! I'm not fussy :o) Ok then - Holy Island. And my sister on the continent.

17. Name one thing you did this year that you'd like to do again.
Have my sister and her boyfriend to stay!

18. Who gave you the best advice this year?
Caroline. And my mum. And D. And Jen and Becky and all the other people who commented on my first TMA for the course.

19. What new skill would you like to acquire next year?
Improve the photographs. Improve the writing. I don't want to acquire any new skills; I want to concentrate on improving those I have already.

20. What was your favourite TV/radio programme of this year?
Scrubs and 24 - I've only come in on it at season 5 but am loving it, insanity and plot holes and all. The only other thing I really watch consistently is BBC Breakfast News, which helps me get ready for work every day.

Bonus question that I'd like to have been asked: Do you have any regrets? I regret having given up Samaritans. I wish it hadn't come to that. And I hope to go back sometime soon.