Monday, 31 August 2009

A Hambleden Fete

It's been a weekend of busy-ness. So much busy. It's a warm up to next weekend and the beer festival (which I'm not so much looking forward to anymore...besides of course the visit from Lee). Highlights from the weekend include a few fly bys of a Spitfire and Mustang curtesy of a wedding at Huttons Farm and a visit from Leanne and John.

The fete wasn't so much a highlight. It was like a 'non event'.

The tug-of-war seemed to be the main event, and the Stag and Huntsman now has the trophy on display above the fireplace in the public bar.

Lea and John spent most of Sunday in the village. Once I'd finished work we got a chance to sit around, drink tea and catch up a bit. We also ate ice cream on the Dene at the fete.

That was nice.

Later, we went in to Marlow and had pizza at Francescos with some wine. Lovely pink wine.

Now I'm just debating what I should do tomorrow with a whole day to myself. I want to go to London, but I also want to sleep in late.

What will I do?

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Street art

After my late start yesterday, I was up this morning at half six, poaching eggs by seven and out of the pub by half seven walking up to the bus stop. A nice lady, I don't know who, stopped and picked me up and dropped me off outside the town hall in Henley. I missed my train and waited half an hour for the next one to Paddington.

At Shiplake this really pretty girl boarded (do you board a train?). I don't think she was English, or may have been, but she looked foreign. She was dark anyway with long dark hair, black tights and a long length pinky top (I immediately regretted my outfit, awesome as it was). She looked like she'd just climbed out of bed and sat there putting on her make up with this great big make up brush. I liked her less after she'd finished. Everyone looks better when they look like they just got out of bed.My first stop of the day was the Whitechapel Gallery, just outside of Aldgate East tube station. I spent a goodly while looking at the Elizabeth Peyton gallery. What I thought was pretty cool, was the picture of Pete and Wolfman, Pete with his customary cigarette, giving Wolfman a kiss...right next to the lovely charcoal of Princess Elizabeth walking to Westminster with Queen Mary. There was also another painting of Pete I really liked.
I didn't do particularly much in London today. I wandered about the streets taking photos of street art as I was inspired by Slinkachu. I found these (above and below) in Old Street.
The ones below are from Brick Lane. I think these are pretty awesome.
I spent the whole day walking around, mostly getting lost. It wouldn't have been a trip to London without a quick stop in Camden, where I bought myself a cool tweed hat to replace the one I gave to Lee. It was a day of (almost) sensible food choices too, for which I'm proud. The bagel at Paddington Station was delicious, I could probably have eaten two.

My legs have seized up and I'm hoping a hot bath and bed will fix me up in time for work in the morning. Next time - Shoreditch :) and hopefully more street art and more galleries.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Oh Sigh.

Sleeping in until just after twelve today hasn't done me any good. I've been sitting staring out of my bedroom window and drinking a cup of hot tea and letting my mind wander back.

I'm afraid it's resulted in a mini freak out. Not a freak out of epic proportions of the kind experienced a few years ago, but enough of a meltdown to leave me feeling bleurgh. I should never sleep in that late and then have time to think.

I thought of 1998. I thought of 1999. 2003 and 2004. Leanne and Noleen, Kerry and Andrew and me. Lotus Street and Bracken High. Alberton City. Candace and Gavin and guitars. The Doors, band tshirts and milky coffee in the morning. Smashing Pumpkins box sets, Wales and the post box. I miss the 16 year old us. I miss Leanne and Kerry and Noleen and Andrew and me.

I miss my mom and my dad and Yvonne, Arend, Martin and Ashley.

I miss Lee.

And I think I should just go back to sleep again.

Who loves the sun...

Four o' clock Monday morning came too quickly. That's when the first alarm went off, and continued going off for forty minutes before either of us woke up properly. Lee was out of here before five and it'll be another two weeks before I see him again. I felt as though I barely saw him this weekend. It went too fast, and I was too busy, and there was nothing I could do about it.

It was a weekend of The Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan, sneakily eaten bars of nutty chocolate, power naps, and a blow up behind the bar. I felt empowered for standing up for myself and storming into the kitchen to tell the head chef exactly how shitty I thought he was being, and then went on to tell Claire the same thing. Not that anything was resolved.

What a bunch of arseholes.

I slept in until after twelve today. I've done nothing but drink cups of tea and look through 'Little People n the City - The Street Art of Slinkachu'. My book I ordered off the internet arrived today. It's frightfully clever I think. It also makes me want to get the next train to Paddington and go wandering around the East End to look at the Street Art and the London folk go about their day on the public transport and on the streets.

I do love London.

I'm going to love Belfast too. Belfast is going to be awesome.

Friday, 21 August 2009

More kitchen times I'll miss

I was downstairs yesterday eve at six, Chris had the recipe book open to chocolate truffle cake and had the ingredients set out on my work counter. I started making the cake and while the base was in the oven, he told me to flip to another page and I started making a banana and chocolate cheese cake and then moved on to the banana cream profiteroles. We didn't get any food orders in, and just baked the whole evening. I felt so pleased with my nights work at half past nine when it was all finished.
My day started with me cooking breakfasts for the two Japanese women who are staying at the pub, I was finished early, did a few extra jobs around the pub and was finished for the rest of the day, or at least until six o' clock.

Claire had a stab at trying to get me to do more, but as it's become customary, I thought 'sod it' and went upstairs with a cup of tea and had a nap. Geesh, I reckon they've just about had it with me by now. Seriously, I don't start work at half past six in the morning just so that I can do more shitty jobs, I do it so I can get finished early.

And I always had such a good attitude and work ethic...

Flippen hell, if I were in the habit of profanities, I'd have said 'fuck it' already.

Just as well I never swear.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A four or so mile walk

I went downstairs for my breakfast and cup of tea this morning and overherad myself being talked about in rather annoyed tones. I smiled as I stirred the sugar in my tea, then went back to my room.

"The only thing in the world worse than being talked about, is not being talked about."

And it's true too.
After breakfasting I put on one of my new tops from last weeks crazy shopping spree in High Wycombe - the long white flow-y one with black and purple writing on it. It says "To the left, to the right, step it up, step it up, it's alright".


I decided to walk to Henley-on-Thames. It's around a four mile walk, that's like six and a half kilometers, which I guess isn't actually all that far. Nevermind.

It's a pretty walk, first across the fields of Hambleden Estate, over the lock and weir and then along the Thames and over the bridge into Henley. There were lots of people about, doing the same thing. Amongst them was a little family picnic-ing alongside the river...their little blonde girl in a pink tutu and chubby and dippled little thighs walking next me, following me on the path, grinning at me and chuckling when I smiled at her.

I found these ducks by Hambleden lock.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Baseless defiance!

I never used to have a problem with authority. In fact, my high school testimonial contained the line 'ready submission to authority'. I guess it was my naive belief that those in charge knew best (kind of like rock star and musician quotations are always right and deeply profound). Ha! But now I'm hearing the phrase 'just follow the rules Karen', like two or three times a day.

It's making me dig in my heels further and feel the return of that old kiddie stubbornness. I know it’s childish, but I can’t seem to help myself. Some people just tend to bring out the nasty and petty behaviour in me. I’m not even going to pretend like it’s justified!

I love this photo. I took it leaning out of the upstairs window one evening last week.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Kitchen times I'll miss

Thursday night in the kitchen was quiet with just a few orders steadily trickling in. Earlier in the week, Chris had been threatening us with talk of chocolate éclairs but nothing had come of it and I’d just been wondering what had ever happened to that plan when he asked again if I were ready for the éclairs. He made up the choux pastry while I weighed out the ingredients for the chocolate icing and prepared the custard cream in another bowl. By around half eight the food orders had all but totally stopped coming through and the choux pastry was ready to come out the oven. Chris had piped letters out of the pastry into mine and Abbies names with the left over pastry after making the more traditionally shaped éclairs and profiteroles. Once they’d cooled we played ‘countdown’ rearranging the letters into words, then devouring them.

I know I’ve moaned a lot these last few weeks about work and my frustrations (more to Lee than online) but moments like the above really do make work fun and I really will be sad to go away I think. Starting over again is always difficult even though it’s exciting and something I want to be doing. I said in an earlier post that I don’t feel as though I’ve made friends, but I take that back. There’re some awesome people here, and I shouldn’t let the ‘arseholes’ get me down.

So I’m just going to make the most of these last five or six weeks and then go off and begin my next adventure which will be by far the best one yet :)

More traditional shaped eclairs.

The chef and the bar maid
It says 'bin a bream'.

I have a whole lot more I need to write about...but very limited time. I have e-mails to reply to, blogs to follow, entries to write and books to read. Actually, I could do with a soak in a bath with a cup of tea too. But all of that tomorrow, because sadly, I have a Saturday night shift behind the bar to get through. Oh but if I were in the kitchen...(wistful sigh).

More photos from Nanny Mcphee

This is where I live...

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Starstruck in Hambleden

I’m playing with the idea of starting a new blog. Or just giving this one a total overhaul.

It needs it.

This week has flown by and I can’t believe it’s Thursday already. It’s been a week of happenings and the diversion with the filming really made a difference and helped motivate me in work a little. On Monday and Tuesday the film crew managed to transform Hambleden into this green ‘old world’ sort of village. You almost expected to see hobbits and faeries going about their business in the village green. The filming was on Wednesday and between the rehearsals and shots, I got to walk around the village, take lots of photos and talk with the security and crew.

I saw Emma Thompson, Maggie Ghyllenaal and Rhys Ifans. Rhys Ifans kindly let me take a photo of him and posed outside the pub for me. Maggie Gylenhaal is tall! And Lee fancies her ;)

The film crew were all in having a drink in the pub last night. I heard them from upstairs laughing and enjoying themselves. I suppose the ‘fun’ thing would have been to get dressed and join them.

Sod fun.

I had to be downstairs at seven o'clock cooking their breakfasts.

It’s mad how much work goes in to shooting just two or three scenes!The film people were in today, clearing up and getting the village back to how it was before they all came in. All that work for just one days worth of filming.

The film crew. I loved this dudes hair and am convinced he's been mistaken for one of those large microphones the gaffers use. A fluffier version of the one in the picture below.

Sneaky shots from the pub door. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Rhys Ifans.

They kept doing the same scene in front of the pub and the police lady, Claire and I were trying to figure out if Rhys was the 'baddie' or the hero. I decided he's the villan, mostly because I don't really fancy him (though I'm sure he's a wonderful guy...and funny too)

I’ve been reading this blog written by a so called ‘ugly’ bloke. It’s really entertaining and just excellent writing. He really lays his soul bare. I’d like to do the same thing, but I think for that level of honesty and sharing, you need to be anonymous. I’ve decided to stop reading the other blog. And also that other thing I read as well. Not for any moral reasons, just because I can’t anymore. I really do have more important things to focus on, and I guess it wasn’t healthy either. Not that I’ve ever been particularly concerned with preserving my mental health.

But I'm afraid that I must bed time at once or I'll be even more useless tomorrow in work than I had oringally planned on being :)

Do come back for more photos, you must just know that there're loads!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

The set of Nanny Mcphee (so far)

The film crew were in Hambleden early yesterday morning preparing the set of Nanny McPhee 2. I went downstairs and chatted a little with the security and prop people, took some pictures and then went back to bed because I was feeling infected and diseased still.

The village shop and Post Office yesterday morning before all of the turf had been laid out.

The cottages next to the shop have been turned into a 'home provisions' store and a general convenience store.
The garage has become a blacksmiths with a hay loft!
I went to the doctor this morning, 'cos when I woke up even my eyebrow piercing was gammy and bloody and infected looking. Not exactly attractive. I consoled myself by going to High Wycombe and did a serious bout of shopping. The sort of spree not seen probably since my first proper pay check back in 2001. I bought colourful tops, tights and underwear, and made space in my wardrobe by chucking out my old things. How very liberating :)

Monday, 10 August 2009

Keeps on getting better...

I’m just so darned happy right now. I’m excited and impatient and I don’t really know where to start! The weekend went by too quickly. It went even faster because on Saturday I was in bed with suspected swine flu.

It wasn’t swine flu, but some other sort of bug which left me with a nasty fever and achy muscles and joints and cry-y. By Sunday afternoon I was feeling much better and Lee and I went back to Francesco’s (that’s a fun thing to say) in Marlow for our lunch. We had a few hours together before he had to fly back home again, but I think we’re making better use of our time these days.

Work is pretty crappy right now, if truth be told. I’m not making the best of it, and my heart is not in it anymore. I suppose it does show, but I've become despondent with the long hours, pettiness and the extra shifts being squeezed out of me. I’ve become sickly and moany, whiney and irritable. Not exactly a joy to be around!

Anyway, all of this doesn’t relate to why or how I could be so damn happy as suggested in my opening line. And the title doesn’t seem to fit just yet either.

I am, however, happy. Joyously so. I couldn’t be any other way with all the plans going about now. Right now, even more so than Paris, I am excited about taking my Lee to South Africa in November. I’m excited about looking at, and getting a Belfast city centre apartment in November…and all this talk of diamond rings and travel has got me flippen excited too.

It's only August I have to get through, and after that, the exciting things begin. Anything can be tolerated if only for a few weeks.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Day off Tuesday

I slept in until almost eleven this morning. There was a message on my phone from my mom saying she'd been to the home affairs and all that they could find, after an hour of searching was my new passport. Sigh. How difficult is it to get a copy of two birth certificates and a marriage certificate? Surely, that is a pretty standard request at home affairs? Comparing with how smoothly things went getting a British birth certificate in January and how the system just worked in the French embassy to get a visa, I'm assuming that this is a major difference between first and third world countries.

Ah Africa.

I've spent my morning in my Jim Morrison tshirt and silky pj bottoms, face masking and dancing to Hermans Hermits. I've been dancing to HH since I was probably four or five years old. I remember Yvonne and I dancing in the lounge and singing along, enthusiastically and off key. Hermans Hermits was probably the beginning of my love affair with all things British. I remember staring at the old record cover and trying to decide which one of the boys I thought was the cutest. None of them actually. I loved their British accents and it made me think of far off London, mini skirts, black taxis and gorgeous old buildings. London in the sixties :)

Truly, if you're tired of London, you're tired of life.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Down and out in the Embassy offices

I got a lift to the train station in Henley this morning with Jed, the Irish bloke who sometimes drinks in the public bar. I was waiting outside the village shop by a quarter to nine, and, as promised, he came by and picked me up. I got in to Paddington with loads of time to spare and got straight on to the circle line to South Kensington...walked way further than I should have, turned around and found Cromwell Place right outside the tube station. Hmph. I queued up outside the French Embassy with a few others and was let in at half past eleven. I was inside from that time until around half past three. It wasn't awesome. I was grateful that I'd gone back upstairs before leaving Hambleden to grab George Orwell's 'Down and Out in Paris and London'. It's pretty good so far and is about exactly what the title says. I love reading about things like that, tough times, Paris, London, poverty...I only had £1.90 on me and couldn't afford a vending machine tea and something to eat. So I bought myself a huge bag of Haribo Starmix for the sugar content. I ended up eating the whole bag, just scoffing it all down while I waited in that dreadful room. By the time I got out of there, my vision was all skew and I was on a terrible sugar high which ended in me feeling sicky for the rest of the day. I went to Camden to try and cheer myself up but felt too dazed and out of it to shop. Plus, I realized I really need a girl friend to shop with. I'm a useless shopper. I ended up just buying an 'old man' hat for Lee on the High Street. Now I'm going to have to go back and get one for me too, because I've fallen in love with it.The French gave me a Schengen Visa eventually and now I can allow myself to get proper excited about my Paris trip at the end of September. Ooooh Paris!!