December 21, 2007

Pre-Christmas penny pinching

What a miserable git I am. It's a Friday night, and while everyone I know is out celebrating Christmas in one way or another, I'm staying in and studiously not spending money.

As an atheist, it's ridiculous to like Christmas as much as I do, but I really do love this season. I love that while it's cold and grey outside, town is lit up with decorations and people are getting dressed up and having fun together. I love the buzz in the office on the last few days before the holiday, I love the over-eating and I love getting to spend a good chunk of time with my family. But unfortunately, for about the fourth year running I have no funds to properly enjoy it all and am finding myself ducking out of social events for fear of going over budget... which makes me pretty poor company at the moment.

Don't get me wrong - I fully plan to go out on Christmas Eve, I've managed to buy what I think are decent presents without spending a fortune, and my closest friends and I are planning to share a cheap home-cooked meal tomorrow that will cost next to nothing. But it would be nice, just for once, to get to this point in the year without worrying about how I'll finance it.

Clearly, I either need a better-paid career, a wealthy benefactor or to stop moaning. And in the absence of millionaire friends or a job I would rather do for more money, I guess I should start thinking about a New Year's resolution to be a little more positive... so here's to some festive cheer and goodwill!

October 16, 2007

¡No hablo Espanol!

I've got behind on myself again, haven't I? It seems like it was at least a month ago that I was lazing by a swimming pool and overheating in the Spanish sun. It's hard to believe I haven't even been back in the country for two weeks, although I've secretly already started plotting my next break. Maybe next time I should try for a country where I can actually speak a bit of the language, for all the use my phrase book was (note to self: being able to use a phrase you looked up earlier that day does not mean you will be able to understand the reply). Embarrassing touristy point-and-hope-for-the-best conversations aside, it was mostly just good to have the time away from Cambridge to relax with Simon and some mates, and to not have to do anything if we didn't feel like it.

It feels now like I've been back at work forever. It's depressing to be driving home in the rain watching the dark creeping up, and to be having email conversations with my friends about Christmas - and what with my weekend duty and Simon's packed-out week of shows, it feels as though we've hardly seen each other at all in the last week. In fact, I think we need a holiday...

September 29, 2007

All Trucked out

Truck finally happened! After a two-month delay and the worst summer I can remember weather-wise, I was expecting good things, and I wasn't disappointed. Okay, so it wasn't the best line-up ever, and there were some bad bits - such as Simon managing to catch some sort of stomach bug that knocked him out for most of Saturday, but Truck still managed to be one of the highlights of my year so far.

Low points: Simon being ill; some odd timetabling decisions (Blood Red Shoes and Foals in the Trailer Park tent?) that led to Foals being pulled early Saturday evening; the irritating man who was shouting loudly while I was trying to sleep; having to get out of bed at 6am on Monday to peg the tent down again after the wind threatened to blow us away.

High points: Fonda 500 generally being ace and even managing to bring out the sun; opera in the pub on Sunday night; Foals being rescheduled and the audience getting a wee bit excited; the irritating man shouting "I am a stereotypical festival cunt!" loudly and thus redeeming himself partially; not having to sleep in the stewards' marquee after our tent stayed put.

More of the same again next year, please. Just without the illness.

I would also like to mention, mainly as a way of reminding myself in about six months' time, that I have my first hangover since about March after drinking more wine than I meant to yesterday. This is exactly why I stopped drinking much in the first place... lemonade for me tonight, then.

Tomorrow I will be mostly packing for a week in Spain. Spain! Where the sun is shining! Full report to follow.

August 26, 2007

The worst socialite ever

It is 10.30pm on Bank Holiday 'eve', and I have just returned from what was looking like a very good house party at the home of some very likeable people whose company I enjoy. Somehow I'm just not in the mood for being sociable, so I've made my excuses and disappeared, leaving me feeling slightly relieved but nonetheless fairly guilty.

However: I have wine, and chocolate, and the possibility of crap telly to see me through the rest of the evening. I may even try finishing the book I was reading, or writing something worth showing to somebody (well, it's worth a shot). Here's to long and lazy weekends...

July 30, 2007

Not recommended

Yesterday we cycled to Ely along the river bank. Doesn't that sound idyllic?

It's a BAD idea. The lovely towpath to Waterbeach was to blame; it lulled us into a false sense of security. Never cycle to Ely along the river bank. Walk it, yes (and expect it to take you most of the day, and take lots of water and food), but don't do what we did and take your bikes over all those stiles and along horrible bumpy ground that often can't be cycled on very easily. And if you must do it, make sure you at least wait until they've repaired the bit of railway track where the cycle network crosses it. There's nothing more dispiriting than standing on the wrong side of a 7ft fence with the cathedral on the horizon, looking a sign that says "Ely 2 miles" and realising you're going to have to take a 6-mile detour on an A road. In fact, if we'd researched it properly beforehand, we would have realised there's a much better route.

That said, the fens are absolutely beautiful, and it was quite something being out there in what feels like the middle of nowhere with all that sky to look at. If my camera wasn't playing up I would have had some amazing pictures. Maybe next time...

July 23, 2007

Floods, and refugee-Truck

Half of Oxfordshire is under water, along with several other bits of England. This makes it difficult to be quite so unreasonably annoyed about Truck being cancelled - other people have far worse problems to deal with at the moment, and besides, I really wouldn't want to try camping in a field swamped by more than a foot of water mixed with cow shit. And as another plus point, an alternative 'Truck' happened anyway, as a last-minute gig at Oxford Brookes student union.

So Simon and I decided to drive down to Oxford with some friends, cram into a Travelodge and watch some bands while eating Rotary Club bacon rolls. Truck staff were there in wellies and waterproof capes, and the barman with the fez and the golden wings served people perry. Frank Turner and Youthmovies were fab. The Brian Jonestown Massacre were okay-ish, but completely unworthy of the genius tag they have somehow ended up with. (Message for BJM: a decent riff played over and over again quickly goes from being pretty enjoyable to being pretty dull.) However. Much fun was had, and my weekend wasn't wasted - although with hindsight, we were lucky not to get caught in any flooding on the roads. I have also decided to head out to the rescheduled festival in September, so all in all I'm feeling much more upbeat. Plus: I still have the week off work. And we're not flooded.

July 20, 2007

Truck off

The bastard weather has ruined my favourite festival of the year. After a day of planning, buying food, making sure we had tents and wellies and all other things festival-like, we arrived home to find the Truck site is a washout and the organisers have postponed it until September. Boo!

To top it off, I may not be able to go on the rescheduled date as it would mean more precious time off work. And I don't have anything to do for the weekend. I'm thinking of getting in the car and heading to the driest place I can find tomorrow, just for the sake of it...

July 16, 2007

Move over, Felicity Kendal

We've got courgettes growing on our balcony. Despite having made it to the age of 28, I still find it fascinating that you can plant a seed in a pot of earth and it will eventually grow into a great big, prickly plant with enormous leaves, let alone that the prickly plant will then produce vegetables that I can eat. We also have tomatoes, which are still very tiny, and potatoes (we hope) and a plant that should grow butternut squash but hasn't yet.

The only problem is, I'm not sure there's enough room for us on the balcony any more...

July 12, 2007

Lazy and forgetful

Those are my two excuses for not having posted in a year. A year! In that time I have moved cities (back to my home town of Cambridge), passed my MA, started a new job, bought a 16-year-old car that has miraculously survived my driving (so far), and generally done all sorts of new and interesting things. None of which I can remember now, obviously.

Finding this blog again is a bit like turning up some old diary that I started when I was 12 years old and lost interest in two weeks later. Except this time I am going to try and start again... promise.

So: this week I have mostly been working lots, getting very excited about heading off to Truck festival in a little over a week, and trying to figure out whether I can persuade anyone with the knowledge to fit a second-hand car radio into my car, thus saving us having to drive to said festival in silence. I'm not sure I fancy my chances.