Monday, 30 March 2009

A sort of coming to terms

I feel as though things have finally come together. I know that they are actually rather far from together, but just having a plan, a goal, some idea of the future and how I want it to be makes everything just seem right. I'm together. I've finally accepted my face, my body (not so much my fatness), and the things that go on in my head. I'm no longer second guessing every emotion and every thought. I know the things that make me happy, and really, I know what I want, and it isn't what I thought I had wanted before. I'm revelling in the good times I've had and am having and know that more are coming. For once, I'm looking forward instead of backwards. I stopped looking back after returning to Milton Keynes from Wales. Since then, everything has been good, even the scary and uncertain times, and I knew I'd cope with whatever happened.

On a different note, the line up for the Reading and Leeds festivals have been announced this evening on Radio 1 and go along the lines of...Kings of Leon, Radiohead, Placebo, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Arctic Monkeys...just to name a few. Man, I want to go!! I can't afford it though, I can't justify that sort of money but if I weren't going home this week I'd be online right now booking my tickets and looking for cheap tents and camping gear. I'm hoping for a miracle.

Going home.

I should be off today, but I said I'd work until Wednesday afternoon and then I'm off to London and the airport. I'm excited and I'm nervous. Ten and a half months have gone so fast, and so much has happened. It can't be undone by two weeks back home, but I'm still weary. I've been so well, so strong...I'm afraid it all falls apart the moment I'm back in my old bedroom again, with all the familiar surroundings and old triggers.

My shelves are stacked with presents for my family; my room is clean and everything is ready for me to throw into a bag to take on the airplane. I have so much bloody stuff.

But, that is all for now.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Shopping, happiness and sunshine

I realized that today was probably the last day I had to go shopping before going home...I realized this at half past ten this morning. So, I threw on some clothes and set off down the fields to Mill End, missed the eleven o' clock bus and waited around for half an hour for the next bus going to High Wycombe. I wandered around the shops for ages and was starting to feel despondent about ever finding anything, so I ate two Thorntons truffle eggs, immediately felt like throwing up, but then started feeling a bit better once the sugar hit my blood stream. I put my ipod on shuffle, which I never do, and it threw out some pretty awesome tracks, which rather inspired me. I bought myself a cool black top at New Look from the kiddies department (yay for having the upper body size of a 9 year old boy), some purple nail polish and found a present for me ma. I got stopped outside Waterstones by some bloke who thought he knew me from an open mic night and then thought he'd randomly chat to strangers as it seemed to be going pretty well for him and he'd been inspired by our conversation about music and travel, and then I got back on the bus for Reading and hopped off at Marlow. Marlow rocks, just like the tunes on my ipod. I found presents for the kiddies and didn't yield to the temptation of KFC and had a 'veggie delight' at Subway instead. Yay for sensible food choices!

For those of you with short attention spans, that was it...that was my latest blog entry. There is nothing much more, but, my public has spoken and longer entries have been requested. Since I have a duty to my people and all that...I'll ramble on a bit and take up some space, I'll chuck in a few pictures too :)

A successful shopping trip in both High Wycombe and Marlow! Presents for the family and for me!!

A happy surprise in the post, a colourful letter including pretty poems for me :)
More happiness in the form of a poster torn out of a NME magazine, pretty Carl and Pete.

I'm so excited to be going home next week. I wasn't ready in January, emotionally or financially! But, after eleven months I think it's time; I have a few £'s in the bank, some new clothes, some new music, a broader mind (and waist line), presents and I cant wait to see my family and friends!! I'm so excited, I'm not even all that stressed about the impending 24 hour journey and overnight stay on hard Heathrow benches!I have so much to look forward to!!!

Monday, 23 March 2009

Some triviality on a day off.

Some pictures from Friday when I went to Turville with Clare. Turville is just a couple of miles from Hambleden and is where the Daffyd Thomas scenes in Little Britain are filmed as well as the windmill scenes in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was just a few hours between shifts, but we ate ice cream and walked around the village.

Turville and the Cobstone Windmill used in the filming of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang :)
The windmill from closer up.

After a lovely but busy weekend, I got a much deserved day off today. I was a total hero behind the bar yesterday, pouring drinks for hundreds of thirsty walkers and tourists, running about and smiling the whole day!

So today, after a little lie in, I got up and did some dull but necessary laundry, got my breakfast and made coffee for everyone in the kitchen, put on my wellies and took a walk up to Mill End and the bus stop. I had an uninspiring trip to Henley-on-Thames, where I walked into every shop that might possibly sell the touristy souvenir type presents I've been looking for to take home with me and found nothing. Looks as though it's boxes of Thorntons for everyone! I got back on the bus with only an NME magazine (purely for the Pete and Carl poster) and three Cadbury creme eggs. I got an uncomfortable ride back from the bus stop in a tractor and have spent the rest of the day messing about, munching on creme eggs and listening to my newly acquired music on my ipod.

I've wasted far too much time today, so I'm going to try and make the best of things, get into a bubbly bath with a book and another cup of tea and just switch everything off!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

St. Paddy's Day

I wasn't sure of what my plans were for Saint Patricks day until around half four yesterday afternoon. I knew I had to do something even if it was just sit in the bar and drink Guinness with the locals. Instead, (and thankfully) I was invited to the Fox and the Hound on Christmas Commons with Claire and Kirsty. While I was waiting for Kirsty to pick me up I had a head start with a pint of the black stuff in the public bar with Willie the old Irish bloke, some other Irish guy in a customary green shirt and Matt.

Kirsty and me. How cool are our hats?

Baileys in one hand and Guinness in the other...keeping with the Irish theme.

The night was spent chatting, giggling, getting up to date with the local gossip (which is always good) and drinking Guinness and Baileys. It wasn't a late night, for which I was grateful, and I was back at the Stag before midnight. My first stop was the kitchen (how wonderful it is to have a fully stocked fridge with tasty treats for me) and I heated up (the best) steak and ale pie, devoured it, and fell into bed.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Looking back a bit.

Time off is wonderful...although I'm kind of at a loss with what to do with it. When I'm working, I have all these ideas of other, more important things I could and should be doing with my time...and then I have it, and I'm not quite sure anymore. I lazed about in bed this morning, drank tea and breakfasted. I put on my cool and preppy new grey cardigan I bought in Camden, some shades ('tis a glorious sunny day) and went for a walk in the woods above the village. 'twere only a short walk, but it was lovely nonetheless.
I've been rereading my old entries, I went all the way back to January of last year. I wrote far more often of the things that plagued my mind back then. I guess coming here, I really resolved a lot of issues, and it's amazing how I've felt so remarkably well these last few months. It's a combination of things really, the freedom, the ease with which I get to see new places, meet cool new people. The abandoning of any silly ideas of reconciling a lost romance from my youth and moving on :)

It's been nice rehashing my last 11 months, where I've been, the things I've done...I've had some awesome times. Some of the things that stand out include time spent in Wales - all the emotional highs and lows, how beautiful Whitby is, long daily walks in the North Yorkshire Moors for seven weeks, been pleasantly surprised about how cool Liverpool is, drinking lots of Guinness in Belfast, the isolation of living on a farm in Cornwall for five weeks and the excitement of London.

I'm looking forward to all the cool things yet to come :)

Monday, 16 March 2009

Off exploring in the shires

I have two and a half days off work and I'm pretty pleased with how I've spent my time so far, 1 and a half days in. Yesterday after a crazy shift in the kitchen I ate my roast lunch in the Snug Bar with a shot of Baileys while everyone in the Public Bar was watching the rugby and been rowdy. I was threatend about using mobile broadband while the game was on, so I went and sat on the games field on a park bench and internetted for a little while by the river and the daffodils. I spent my evening in a hot and bubbly bath with a cup of tea and Nineteen Eighty Four which is excellent and I can't believe I'm reading it only now for the first time!

The bridge and the gate to the fields in Hambleden Estate.
Hambleden Estate in the direction of Mill End.
The Marlow suspension bridge.
Marlow is a lovely little town which is the home of the Rebellion Brewery. Rebellion IPA is rather popular at the Stag.
The Thames from the bridge.
The graveyard by the church and the Thames.
Marlow High Street. I'm so pleased I got off the bus and did a little exploring in Marlow. It's a gorgeous town filled with shops selling pretty things. It is apparently Buckinghamshire's 'best kept town'. I can believe it too :)
High Wycombe. I shopped up a storm at Eden. I was rather impressed...I mean, it's not Milton Keynes, but it had everything I needed...HMV, H&M, New Look, Waterstones, Joy...I was so excited to have found real shops so close to little, rural Hambleden!!
The railway bridge in High Wycombe.
Church Square...29 Miles to London, 25 Miles to Oxford.
A nice old man offered to take my picture...it would have been rude to say no :)

I got back to the pub with too much stuff. I need to take stock of what I've bought today...sigh, it probably would have been cheaper if I'd gone to London on my days off.

Friday, 13 March 2009

In the kitchen

It was quiet today and I was so bored I took photos of Andy's spotted dick. Apparently, it's not allowed to be called 'spotted dick' anymore and has to now be referred to as 'steamed current pudding', which isn't half as entertaining. It roused a few questions and raised a few eyebrows when I originally mentioned my intention to take pictures, but provided some amusement for me, for a little while at least.


















It was my first 'steamed current pudding', and so I felt it ought to be documented.


































Andy made me this amazing salmon dish for supper. He hasn't grasped the concept of small portions.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

London, this last time.

I wonder if I'll ever tire of the city? There's so much there to keep me amused and entertained, and keep me coming back for more :) These last days in London involved cheap eat as much as you like veggie curry in Angel, beer at Filthy McNasty's, unsuccessful shopping trips along Oxford Street and Camden markets, daffodils, and far too much time spent on trains.

It took up an entire morning getting my suitcase from Milton Keynes to London and my arms and back hurts from struggling with it for four hours...the actual journey was alright, even taking in on the tube was alright, the killing part was getting it down Holloway road and up the four or so flights of steps to the flat. Thankfully though, it is now done.

Yesterdays shifts were all spent in the kitchen, it wasn't particularly busy, I like that, been eased back in to work after trips to London. It was a day of excellent and sensible food choices ruined later by a bag of sweets from the Sweet Factory from Paddington Station which I'd tried to hide from myself but kept finding.

I've been setting up my room, making it mine and cosy. I've put my pictures of York and Liverpool above the fireplace, piled my books and cds onto shelves and found a mustard yellow comforter for my bed, very cheery :)

Now, I'm just going to settle down with 'Nineteen Eighty-Four', another cup of tea and wait for my next shift. I've dug out some easy listening in the form of John Mayer and it's making me feel sleepy and nostalgic...I may even have time for a nap...

Friday, 6 March 2009

Stuff, too much of it.

I'm tired. I never seem to know how to manage my time effectively and then end up napping, internetting or staring out my window trying to think of something. Just anything would do. Not necessarily even something profound; a clear and concise plan or idea would suffice. Writing to-do-lists in my mind and on paper just so that I remember the basics, like laundry, suitcases to be fetched and another chapter in my book to be read. I have presents to buy and that usually enjoyable task seems like a chore right now.

I'm tense. I'm thinking about too many things all at once and focusing on none of them. I have to prioritise and so, here is a list of things that are very important right now:
  • Sort out my enormous suitcase (why did I let myself be convinced that I'd need such a big bag??)
  • Shop for presents.
  • Get to Heathrow airport.
  • Apply for all necessary documents for my ancestral visa.
  • Have a jolly good holiday in what's left of the South African summer sunshine.
Hmmm. It seems so simple and I'm not really sure why I'm worrying. Once I get to London it'll all be okay.

Right...focus now Karen!!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Excitement!

I always have these great intentions to do things on my days off. I found myself contemplating a lovely walk in the woods on the Chiltern hills around Hambleden, got half way up a hill, thought better of it and decided to go have another nap, but on the way back I stopped off at the village store to pick up a tube of Munchies. It's a gorgeous sunny day today, and I really feel like I ought to be out there, soaking up some sunshine and joy...but I'm just not going to right now. There's always tomorrow, after all :)

Saint Marys of Hambleden (surely there's a more original name).
A view of the village from the fields on the way back from the bus stop.

So, I've booked my ticket back home, have a plan of action, to-do-lists and a cheery outlook on the next few months. YAY for good times :) I’m just brimming with excitement at the prospect of the next few weeks! I’m feeling recharged after a lazy day of sleep, Pete Doherty, puddings, many cups of tea and hot bubbly baths and books of prose.

I find myself thinking in exclamation marks and I have butterflies in my stomach and everything!!
Combining my hobby with my work. Real ales of the area.
The river.The shop.

Man, I'm smelling steak and think it's time to go downstairs and investigate the goings on in the kitchen...