Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Kart crazy

We had a great day out on Saturday for a friend’s 30th birthday. We went go-karting at a local track. I have never done it before and have an awful lot to learn about steering around sharp bends – very different form my normal drive to work.

We had about 5 hours of practice runs and races, mixed in with a stag group. I came 6th out my final group of 11, which is a lot better than I expected., there was some very dirty driving form the stags, especially one geriatric who was forever sneaking forward whenever there was a pause for safe recovery of errant vehicles.

The overalls and fumes added to a pretty sexy atmosphere. Tying the overalls around my waist during race breaks was particularly exciting (probably only for me!). I would definitely recommend karting to anyone and hopefully we will go again later in the year.

The day finished with a meal at a local restaurant. We had a private room booked, which was probably just as well considering the volume of some of the guests after a few bottles of wine. I think the birthday girl had a great day and it will definitely be a birthday to remember.

I don’t normally post pictures of myself (happily share details of my life, but always paranoid about adding my picture in case my bosses suspicions are confirmed!). Couldn’t resist this one though.



Friday, June 25, 2004

The House of Lords are a bunch of c**ts

The House of Lords has thrown a spanner in the works with the proposed Civil Partnership Bill. An amendment (Tory of course) to extend the rights to relationships such as long-term carers was backed by 148 to 130 in the House of Lords. This would mean that people caring for elderly parents would be offered the same protection. While I am not unsympathetic to their plight, it is a different issue.

The gay peer Lord Alli said: "This amendment is ill-conceived and does nothing other than undermine the purpose of the Bill.” I feel the sae way. The bill is now likely to return to the House of Commons to overturn the amendment and allow the Bill to proceed. I suppose I was optimistic when I expected this to go through unchallenged. There are still some crazies in the House of Lords like the former Ulster Unionist MP Lord Maginnis who said that the Bill was "dealing with couples who want to indulge in a relationship, which most likely involves unnatural sexual practices". Trusty old lunatic Baroness O'Cathain said "This Bill sends out a message that family relationships don't matter as much as same sex relationships - that same sex couples are given a higher status than family relationships.” Actually, I thought it sent out a message that same-sex couples are entitled to legal recognition of their relationships and should be offered some of the rights enjoyed by straight couples – but perhaps that is just me.

The Tory party has been pretty quiet about it. Rather than come out in support of equal rights they would rather keep quiet, let the Lords to their dirty work, and avoid alienating their old-school supporters.


*worth noting that I am obviously shy about writing 'cunts' and have to use some stars!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Farrell's penis 'too distracting'

If this story is true then Colin Farrell must be a very smug guy. Apparently, test audiences for his new film A Home At The End Of The World have been shocked at the size of his dick in a full-frontal scene. Studios say they will be cutting the scene to avoid distracting the audience (or to generate more publicity?). It sounds like a Jules et Jim kind of plot with a 2 guys and 1 girl love triangle. Farrell plays a bisexual guy who gets involved with the other 2 leads. Sounds pretty good. Farrell has asked that his scenes stay in the DVD release.

Haven't seen a screen grab yet - the best shot I can find is this. I've got to admit that he is pretty hot!


Update - Sorry - images removed - bandwith too large.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Upstairs and Downstairs

We have had the joiner in again to finish off some of the outstanding work on the house. He has now finished fitting the spindles to replace the hideous wrought iron panels that some moron had fitted in an attempt to remove any original features from the house.




It appears that a considerable amount of money will have been spent on having the wrought iron panels specifically made for the staircase. Money that could have been spent much more effectively! We have spent the last couple of weeks sourcing, sanding and painting the spindles in preparation for fitting. They are all in now and look great. We still need to touch them up and fit spacers below the banister, but it is a great improvement.




My partner’s parents and sister came to stay this weekend for a belated birthday weekend, so I am glad that this work has been done. With the new wall having been built, the re-plastering and the work in the garden it should look pretty different from the last time they were here. Just a shame that the mini heat wave we were experiencing has turned to stormy skies and driving rain.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Come frolic in my garden oh brave Knight

One of my birthday presents was a huge gardening encyclopaedia, which reflects the exponential rise in my interest in gardening this year. I had always enjoyed sitting in someone’s garden in the summer and even got as far as admiring a few plants, but I have never had any interest in gardening itself.

Since we bought the house last year I have undergone a transformation. As well as trying to fill the last few gaps in my DIY sticker album, (I only need a ratchet, 3 inch ply and the elusive pipe-wrench – I’ll swap you for a workbench and a tenon saw), I/we have found many a Saturday spent touring garden centres. We almost have too many plants in the back courtyard now. I try to see them every morning while I sip an espresso, have a fag and daydream that my office has burnt down. As soon as I get home I am outside to check their development, water, feed, prune and otherwise encourage them.

My favourites have to be the cherry tree that we bought as a stick a few weeks ago. It looked pathetic falling out of its pot and was little more than a few branches with no greenery. After my tender ministrations it has rewarded me with lots of new leaves and abundant flowers.



Another favourite is the sea holly. I have a bit of an affinity for coastal plants and assume that anything that can survive the sea, salt and wind of the British coastline should be safe in my hands. The holly has beautiful blue/purple colouring to the stems and flower heads and breaks up the lines of the ground level plants.



I would like to think that this new interest is just widening my experience of the world but I know it is one more step towards a comfortable retirement. I'll be booking my allotment soon!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Beckham's white pants

Is this just a paparazzi who got very lucky or this is cleverly planned to remind us why we loved Beckham before the affair allegations? Whatever...seeing Becks in his tight white pants is definitely worth seeing!



I'd like to see more of these shots. They remind me of me and my boyfirend taking some pictures with the digicam in Cuba a couple of years ago. The tan and the sun led to a bit of a photo-shoot (not to be reproduced here) - the whole thing works for me!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

What will the boss say?

Today I went to meet a director at a mental health trust where I used to work. There had been a discussion about a potential secondment which, given the current level of happiness with my current job, sounded like a very attractive opportunity.

The post would involve managing the mental health services for older people in the county and preparing a new strategic plan for the next 5 years. The secondment would be for 2 years, by which time the director hopes to have a new organisational structure in place including some assistant director posts.

The job would be a good combination of operational and strategic management and working in a patch that I know pretty well. The trust would support me through the second year of my MSc and match (or maybe improve) my current salary.

I am definitely interested and have said I will go away to talk it through with my partner. It won't be as fast paced as the current job - but that is exactly what I am looking for. It would still be hard work, but 12-hour days and weekend working are not the norm. I have worked with the director before and we talked through my aspirations, experience and training. She thinks I would do a good job and said I could start immediately if I wanted.

I thought I needed to move into an acute hospital for career progression. Having done it for 2 years I realise that the experience is not essential for a lot of jobs and that the expectations of staff are too high. I want a home life as well - and not just weekends.

So I will discuss it further with my boyfriend this evening - but I am pretty keen on it. Of course, the big problem will be asking my boss - I am pretty sure that a secondment will be refused - but maybe knowing I am looking will make her want to let me go? If they won't offer me a secondment then the director will probably advertise the job externally - I will still be able to apply, but so may a lot of other external candidates.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Birthday update


I have had a bit of a whirlwind few days since my birthday. We had a lovely meal at home in the garden on my birthday where I was bestowed with gifts from my boyfriend. He is real present buying fiend and can't stop himself buying too many things!

He got me the Buffy season 7 box set - so I can now start watching the whole series from episode 1 through to the end - although were we are going to find the time is another matter. He also got the Firefly series, which we haven't seen yet and it looks great. The highlight was an original film poster for Barbarella, which will look great framed once we get the dining room finished.

On Thursday we got the stud wall between the dining room and hallway re-built after re ripped out a hideous 70s glass partition. It has made the hallway darker but looks great. It was re-plastered on Friday and half the new spindles fitted to the staircase. We now have another 30 spindles to paint before the joiner returns this Friday. My partner's parents are coming to stay this weekend so we still have loads we want to get done before they arrive. It feels like we have spent the last six weeks doing DIY, getting the garden sorted and constant housework - oh that's right - we have!

On Saturday we had an evening out with friends for my birthday. We met for drinks at the Baltic bar and then on for a meal - it was great to catch up with everyone and I had a fantastic evening. One of the guests was a friend who is a local MEP. She was waiting for the outcomes of the Euro elections so hopefully that helped to take her mind of it. Unfortunately, she wasn't elected and will now be looking for another job. It must be very weird to have your job dependent upon the voting public. She lost (I think) as a symptom of the protest vote against labour, rather than as a consequence of how well she has delivered in the last parliamentary session. Her record in Europe has been great and it is a shame that the positive aspects of Europe are not more widely covered in the media.

So here I am again at work when I would much rather be at home painting, fitting blinds and other DIY tasks. I suppose the job is what pays for all of this. - so I best get on with it!

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Birthday!!

Today I am the grand old age of 33. Unfortunately, I am at work although I will be celebrating tonight and again at the weekend. My partner prepared a birthday breakfast while I was in the shower so we had some time in the garden this morning. He had got me my favourite cheddar and chive muffins from M&S, which is a perfect way to start the day. All the plants are coming into bloom as well so I was able to admire the sweet-peas and the cherry tree with the scent of mint and lavender in the air. Would have been ideal to spend a lazy morning there rather than be at work - but heigh ho!

We are having a meal at home tonight then off to meet our friends for a drink - we have just booked our summer holiday to Cuba with them, so there will be excitement all around.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Teenblogs:TNG?

Most of the blogs I read tend to be by gay men (UK and US), with some local northeast blogs and a few issue-specific ones e.g. technical, politics etc. I tend to read a lot more than are listed in blogroll (note to self: update this!) and can find myself spending hours following other blogger's links - sometimes you find some real gems.

I am sure that there must be whole blogging communities out there that I have never come across. Is there a soccer-mom blog-ring or a community of bloggers interested in sheet metal working, maybe there are hundreds of blogs for animal lovers that will never cross my path?

An article published on the BBC site today looked at teen-age blogs. I had assumed these would be all about homework, whether wristbands are still in fashion and homage to the latest pop ';craze'. (That obviously makes me sound as old as I will be on Wednesday - 37 - and subtle notification of impending birthday celebrations!)

Apparently lots of teenage boys and girls are using blogs and it is hard to spot the gender differences. US researcher David Huffaker's study of 70 blogs looked at blogs created amongst young people aged 13 to 16, across several well-known blog publishing sites.

He found that not only did teenage bloggers write a lot more than would be expected, they were also using the blogs as a form of "self-therapy". (Isn't that we all do?)

"Blogs are an area for self expression. It gives them a space to be candid or personal where they don't usually have."

"I thought at first it was about exhibitionism, but a less cynical view is that they are trying to meet a common human need of finding connection." Most of the blog posts were about their everyday lives, and what was happening in their school. About 67% used the facility that allowed them to comment on blog entries.

I suppose a lot of the above could be applied to lots of bloggers (including 'grown-ups') - I know I like the exhibitionist elements of sharing my thoughts, and the voyeuristic nature of observing others lives. We best watch out for this next generation of bloggers - they will soon be sharing their thoughts on dating, DIY and work. What will I have left to say then!

Friday, June 04, 2004

Chewing gum - how common?

Today I was stuck in a traffic jam and had a woman in the car alongside me chewing gum with her mouth open, just like a cow chewing the cud. Is it just me or is the widespread open-mouthed chewing of gum on the increase? I cannot stand it. It drives me insane. Insane I tell you!

I am particularly offended by women who look smart and well-groomed but betray their inherent slack-jawed natures by showing me their fillings and a moist lump of juicy fruit. Is it too much to ask that you close your mouth when you are chewing?

Don’t even get me started on the ones who ‘snap’ and ‘pop’ their gum all day - God help anyone in my office who starts this.


Thursday, June 03, 2004

Where do I go from here?

Just got back from a chat with my old CEO. Had an interesting discussion about future career paths and he gave me some good pointers for potential mentors around specific areas. My main difficulty is knowing what my end point is. I used to have quite clear aspirations and ambitions, but I am increasingly uncertain what my next move should be - all I know is I want out of here!

Interestingly, he also offered me a six month secondment to a deputy director role while they re-organise some structures. It would be back in mental health, which I previously worked in for 2 years and know the local networks, and would have some clear time-limited objectives. It would give me some breathing space to re-evaluate were I want to go as well as allowing me to get a taster for mental health again. It is a good organisation that pays more than just lip service to work-life-balance, and could lead to other opportunities. The main stumbling block would be whether my current organisation would allow me to go for six months. One problem is the workload in the department and I have a feeling that my boss would be pretty resistant to the idea. I have made an appointment with the director at the mental health trust to talk through what she is looking for and see how it could fit with my career plans. The if it fits I'll have the tricky conversation with my boss.

Techno test

I should be preparing for my meeting with my manager this afternoon, but instead I am setting up email blogging and photo posts! I will be adding picture posts this evening - if I am allowed to use the computer and not forced to watch Big brother!

My boss told me a couple of weeks ago that my output and attitude had deteriorated in the last few weeks. Partly true, and partly a reflection of how the impact of poorly managed change in the organisation has affected me. I have eaten a little humble pie and agreed to a degree that my output has slacked off a bit (although I am not returning to 50/60 hour weeks on a regular basis). Basically, I am pulling out the stops to get things done while I look around at other opportunities. I am off to see the CEO of another organisation this afternoon to talk through other opportunities.

With all that in mind I best get back to work!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Hospital, spindles and trees

After all the frantic preparation the weekend didn’t go ahead as planned. We had a great night out on Friday for a friend’s birthday at a great tapas bar and ended up getting in pretty late. We then got a call from my partner’s sister to say that their father had fallen from the attic and was in hospital. Not a great way to celebrate your 65th! We ended up cancelling the weekend and went up to the hospital the next day. He is at home now, but pretty battered and bruised. He has taught karate for about a thousand years and still teaches several times a week – I think the injuries could have been a lot worse if he wasn’t in such good shape. We will reschedule soon – but it can take a long time to fully recover from such a fall.

In the end we spent the weekend doing more DIY – it never ends. I fitted two ceiling lights, properly wired into new ceiling roses and without blowing any circuits. We then made a start on sanding and painting the new spindles for the carpenter next week. It seemed to make sense to have them painted before they were fitted. It is easier to touch up a few once they are in place than paint them all then. We got 23 done and then headed out to another store that had more in stock. We managed to come back with the remaining spindles AND a 10 foot olive tree AND a silver birch AND a plum tree AND a palm AND a cherry tree. Not what we had gone out for, but we couldn’t resist. We have been planting a lot of containers up while we get the rear courtyard sorted, but everything is low, so these trees really add some variety (and a little drama!). My parents are due in about 4 weeks, so I am hoping the spindles will be done, our missing wall built and all the trees planted. I predict another few weekends of DIY ahead.