All entries for August 2006

August 31, 2006

Lazy Ros

There’s no getting round it – I’ve turned into one of those people who pays too much money for gym membership and then doesn’t go, enters long distance runs and then doesn’t train, flobs around eating stuff pretending that it’s just “carb loading”, and still thinks she’s an “athlete”.

In short, I am Jade Goody.

Jade GoodyOr rather, I haven’t trained enough to do the Windsor half-marathon on 24th September, so I’m going to pull out despite the waste of £24, and accept that two half marathons will have to suffice for one year.

I will be there to support Anna, Leonie, Jamie (?) and my dad though – all of whom are more committed to the practice of gazelle imitation than I am.


August 29, 2006

France to Spain to London to Zagreb

Sunday 20 August 2006

Been in France since Wednesday evening, staying in Ceret which is the town where my mum and Stephen have their studio apartment. This meant we had three full days before flying back to London Luton early (too, too, painfully early) this morning.

Besides wandering around Ceret itself and eating lots of stuff, we also visited Collioure, which is a small town on the coast, went to a tortoise sanctuary as well as a bird/wildlife reserve. Collioure is lovely, but very busy in August – still, at least it was warm unlike when I last visited in January 2003 (snow!). The tortoises were brilliant, especially the shagging ones with the "characteristic grunt". Disappointed with the bird reserve as didn't see any flamingos, but we did watch people kite surfing in the sea and along the beach.

Boats in CollioureMe and Adam in CollioureHumping tortoisesCatalan flags in the streets of CeretView from my mum and StephenKite surfingSaturday market in CeretHappy

Lots more photos online here

We also spent time in the Ceret art gallery, the musée d'art moderne, as well as looking around other private galleries in the town centre. Not to mention wandering around the Saturday market, eating out in the main square "Place des Neufs Jets" a couple of times, and eating chez ma mere et Stephen. It was a lovely few days and I'm feeling very close to Adam.

Today feels a bit like a bewildering yet lucid dream, from pulling open the shutters to discover it was still dark in the streets outside, the sun only beginning to rise above the foothills of the Pyrenees as we left our hotel room, the fuzzy blur of the drive to Girona airport (quite literally, as I was sans contact lenses), the two plane journeys, the brief time spent in Luton airport reminding us of the utter shiteness of Britain, meeting Mark and checking in for flight no. 2, the turbulence as we began our descent to Zagreb…

And then the pricey airport bus to the city centre, realising that we needed kuna (not euro) if we were to get anywhere, particularly if we were to get anywhere without getting ripped off, trying to figure out which direction to get the tram, where to get tram tickets, how to validate said tickets, whether we had got on the right tram anyway, where to get off, and why hadn't I printed out the map to our hostel in the first place?

Luckily we found the hostel without too much trouble, and the owner of the hostel was really helpful and even helped us order takeaway pizza and pivo. All of which slipped down a treat after a hot, cold, tiring, busy, confusing day which ended with me feeling somewhat helpless and disempowered by my inability to speak the language.

Bosnia tomorrow.


August 15, 2006

Bonce and Frasnia

aeroplaneAdam and I are off to France tomorrow to “meet the parents” (well my mum and Stephen) for a 3 day holiday in Ceret, after which we are flying back to Britain briefly before heading out to Zagreb on Sunday, getting a bus into Bosnia to Brcko on Monday morning.

This is assuming that the plane works properly and nothing untoward happens and we don’t miss our connection and I don’t get too drunk on triple vodkas.

Assuming all that, I am actually quite excited now, not least because I’m off work from 3pm tomorrow for almost 2 weeks until Tuesday 29th – more leave than I’ve had all year!

Having said that, I’ve really enjoyed the past few days in my new job despite the steep learning curve. Getting my head round the whole project (along with everything else vaguely relating to it in other govt departments) makes me feel slightly frazzled, but I’m currently enjoying my job to the extent where I’ve stopped daydreaming about becoming a teacher… for now anyway.

Last weekend was really good too – besides meeting Anna on Saturday at the Tate Britain, Adam came down to London on Saturday evening, and we went out for curry in Tooting Bec (the “new Brick Lane”?) at a south indian restaurant. Very very taken with south indian food… and it was cheap… we had the vegetarian set meal for 2 for £20 which was absolutely gorgeous, and there was so much food we couldn’t finish it all.

burekSunday we mooched – late brunch, trip to Sainsburys (always fun), before popping down to Elephant and Castle for a couple of hours to visit the Imperial War Museum with Rhiannon. I cooked fish red thai curry in the evening and we watched Delicatessen – now there’s a film I haven’t seen in a long time.

Now I must pack and get an early night. Yay for leave and holidays! (it had better be warmer in France/Bosnia than it is on this arctic wasteland). And I’m going to eat all the pies.


August 14, 2006

Elephant dung and monkey business

Anna and I went to the Tate Britain on Saturday, where I was very much taken with Chris Ofili's The Upper Room, a series of thirteen paintings of rhesus macaque monkeys that
glow as intensely as stained glass windows, shimmering with carnivalesque exuberence (and sparkly elephant turds!) while projecting ghost–like traces of the animals on to the floor before them.

Chris Ofili - The Upper Room

Ofili uses identical designs, based on an Andy Warhol print from the '50s, in twelve of the paintings. Yet although identical in fundamental design, the monkeys venerated in these twelve paintings each have twelve very distinct characters through the different colour palates that are employed in each. Some of the monkeys seem to have a playful character, but others are subversive, anarchic, even sinister.

Chris Ofili - The Upper RoomAt the end of the room in the thirteenth painting the Chief Monkey presides like a giant Buddha, resplendent in gold and dripping glitter – excessive, grotesque, simultaneously corporeal and spiritual.

The twelve toast him with their elephant dung goblets in the midst of the frenetic patterns and organic rhythms that boldly swirl and leap around them. A stark contrast to the cloistered calm of The Upper Room.


August 12, 2006

Do not exceed one teaspoon of red food colouring per 250g of icing

Here's Adam with the bus cake we made for Thomas' birthday party last month – luckily no one actually tried eating it given how liberal we were with the red food colouring (well you can't have a pink bus, except during the summer of the X12 last year):

Adam with bus cakeAdam with bus cake


Fin de semaine!*

Went out last night for someone's leaving do – meant to stay for just one drink after work but ended up leaving just before midnight instead – at least i DID make the last tube this time. Briefly went to watch a comedian who wasn't very funny; he was of the type that doesn't have anything original to say so just works his way round the audience systematically picking on people, a technique that quickly starts to wear thin. Luckily the person I was with protected me admirably by giving as good as he got, but we didn't stay for long. And at least it was free.

Didn't eat enough (one 50p sandwich from Benjys that was starting to curl up round the edges) so I got a bit tipsy, and started talking about my MA dissertation to some people I'd just met… it seemed relevant… at the time. Then i got stuck in the middle of a rowing (as in fighting not boats) couple all the way home on tube including someone i work with and had to try to persuade his girlfriend not to storm off and get on a train to Southampton.

Luckily I had the sense to make some tea when I got in so I'm not hungover today.

Yesterday was a really, really GOOD day, both at work and in the evening. I met lots of new people, and started organising a conference, and found out lots of useful info, and called people, and generally just didn't allow myself to be scared or anxious about anything. Which was refreshing.

Now I have to try to heave my lazy lumpen self out of bed, preferably make my legs perform a running motion for an hour or so around Clapham Common, before heading into town to meet Anna at the Tate Britain.

*as they say in Quebec


August 10, 2006

Lingo lunacy

I'm getting confused between my Bosnian (minimal), my Russian (terrible) and my Chinese (was once functional in that I could buy a portion of prawn egg fried rice and take a bus across Taipei but has now deteriorated to the level of the first two). My French is in a completely separate brain compartment – the rusty but can actually construct complete sentences if I put my mind to it section – but all the other bits of languages I once knew have morphed into a weird amalgamation of bits of phrases that are useful when talking to 5 years olds (things like "cat", "well done" and "2 beers please").

My brain just doesn't seem to be set up to deal with languages that well, despite supposedly having a degree in them. And my English is a bit dodgy too, come to think of it. I may give up trying to communicate with the outside world and instead express everything through the medium of gruntage.

Just been for drinks and Thai curry at The Railway with Thomas, Helen and Helen's friend Jenny. Followed by Helen's gorgeous "the secular equivalent of heaven" chocolate brownie and icecream, after which I waddled back to Clapham South for some sleep. Now roll on Friday and the weekend…


August 09, 2006

Bloggle

So this whole bloggaday project malarkey didn't work out too well, as I've just realised it's been a whole week since I last wrote anything. I blame this on my new job, my demanding boyfriend (:P), and my dull little life.

Had a good weekend though – it feels like a distant memory now, which is worrying given it's only been 3 days. Adam came down to London on Friday and we went to the Globe to see Under the Black Flag. Think Adam enjoyed it, but I couldn't concentrate on it for some reason – I'm not entirely sure why; I just wasn't in the mood for theatre. I love the Globe theatre though. This was the first time I'd been inside, so that was quite exciting. Next time I'm getting standing tickets though, esp for a comedy, because the audience in the yard looked like they were having more fun than I was. Or maybe I'm just a miserable git.

On Saturday we went to the London Wetlands Centre where we saw lots and lots and lots of ducks. There were other fancy birds there too, but the only ones I could recognise were ducks, geese, swans, coots etc. My favourite thing was watching the little fluffy ducklings swimming really hard to get down to the bottom of the pond before bobbing back up to the surface like corks.

Deer in Richmond ParkOn Sunday we went for a picnic in Richmond Park with Rhiannon, Thomas and Helen, where we scoffed lots of food and saw 2 different types of deer roaming around the park.

And then work happened… Which was fine. Wish I could stop feeling anxious though. And a little bit of wine–drinking and food–eating and gym–tripping and Bosnian–learning etc etc. as you might expect.

And that was a really dull blog entry. But my head hurts and I want to sleep now.


August 02, 2006

Zelim jesti burek

Not much to report today… spent most of it worrying about being stupid, trying to get my head around a whole new set of acronyms and poring over organograms trying to work out who's who in the different teams I'll be working with. Went to the gym this evening though, and ran properly for the first time in ages (6km). Just realised that it's 7 weeks till the Windsor half–marathon, and I need to train as I've been really slack for the past couple of months. Especially as I'm away for almost 2 weeks at the end of August.

Been ressurecting my dodgy Bosnian language skills for the past few days, and have now remembered how to count to 10 and learned some useful food items / social niceties. My self–taught language classes usually involve me muttering under my breath and trying to make up mini dialogues with myself on the tube. Really exciting dialogues that go something like this:

"3 eggs please."
"7 tomatoes?"
"No. 3 eggs. How much does it cost?"
"8 KM."
"Thank you. I like to eat pie. How are you?"
"I like cats."

I'm sure this will be very useful come August 20th.


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