Thursday, 18 December 2008

A land of mess and stress and bad smells.

I am in England again, quel surprise! But only for 3 weeks. Or thereabouts. But the tale of how I came to be in England deserves a telling as it was une grande drame!

I left Mount Holyoke at 9:50am on Tuesday morning, on a bus bound for Hampshire College. At Hampshire College I leapt off said bus and leapt onto another bus (actually there wasn't a huge amount of leaping as I was carrying a 24.8 kg suitcase plus a rucksackfull of books and a laptop case full of computery goodness.

The second bus took me to Northampton where I got off the bus and wandered for about 15 minutes until I arrived at the Peter Pan bus depot, which was NOT very easy to locate. It was now approximately 10.30am. I was due to catch the 11.35 bus to Springfield. When I arrived at the bus depot there was a sign informing me that my bus would probably be at least half an hour late. More likely to be an hour late. Oh thrills. The joys of missing my flight were starting to run around inside my Brian.

I also had the wondrous experience of watching a documentary about a plane crash while waiting for the bus. The side of the plane ripped off and people fell out and were mangled in the engine. It just so happens that I have never been particularly fond of flying, and this emission did nothing to calm my fears.

When the bus did arrive (only 10 minutes late!) we were all bundled on board by the driver who had not taken his happy pills, and we were off. There were about fifteen people on the bus, so I was able to take up lots of space and sit and panic about the fact that I was probably going to get lost in New York and not catch my flight and die etc.

When we arrived at Springfield, I was able to stay on the bus, and the same happened when we arrived in Hartford as well. So, alas, I stayed on the bus until we came to a stop in the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.

I then located the subway, and even managed to buy the right ticket and get on the right train, and wasn't mugged on the way, which surprised me. I sat on the train for most of my life (i.e. an hour) and then a nice person who understood my bemusedness told me when to get off. Which I did, bought a ticket for the AirTrain, and climbed aboard. There was a minor panic when someone told me that it wouldn't stop at my terminal, but it did. Panic over.

At the airport I had the privilege of being the awful person who has to rearrange their baggage at check-in because it was too heavy. A couple more of the beast books made their way into my hand luggage and I was set. I found my gate in the airport and collapsed in a large and bookish heap of death.

Our flight was delayed as they needed to move another plane away from the terminal and move ours in. We boarded the plane about an hour late. And then were fortunate enough to be able to sit on the plane for four hours while they de-iced it. I was fortunate enough to be seated next to someone with bad flatulence. After four hours of not really knowing what was going on, we left, and six hours later arrived in London.

During the flight I had such privileges as eating 'chicken' and pasta, i.e. cat and pasta. Also, I was able to experience losing all feeling in my backside, which was rather bizarre and unpleasant. I got off the plane, collected my suitcase and located Daddums. And then drove home and ate real food!!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things...

Life has continued since I last posted and the world and his aunty have had adventures. And they took me along.

However there were no shoes/ships/ceiling wax/cabbages/kings. Although It would have been nice, I would think. And I would say that pigs almost certainly do have wings.

But alas, back to my life of escapade after escapade.

Dastardly adventure number 1: Tacky Practice and the preparations for said adventure. Tacky practice is a rugby tradition that largely involves making an idiot of yourself. For some people, this is accompanied by copious amounts of alcohol. I am fortunate enough not to require any alcohol to make a complete and utter idiot of myself. The week before tacky practice, every senior on the team is entitled to making three demands of the rookies; these ranged from the provision of baked goods, being woken up in the morning, putting up banners telling the world how wonderful our rugby seniors are etc... I, being both a rookie (ish) and a senior got to see the best of both worlds. I was allowed one demand, but had to fulfill the demands of the other seniors. So... we expeditioned to Smith College, our rivals, and chalked 'MHC Rugby was here' all over their campus, and wore shirts that said 'Smith is so not cool'. We also put up posters of one of the other seniors telling the students of Smith how wonderful she is. Tacky practice happened on the Thursday, and the requirement is to dress as something tacky. I became a 'chav', a concept completely unbeknownst to these Americany folk. And I was pregnant for an evening. It was utterly fantastic. At tacky practice some demands were fulfilled, mine included. I demanded that the rookies arrived, taped together in a line by their ankles. They didn't quite meet the challenge, taking 15 minutes to walk about 1 foot, but it was fun watching. We also performed a beautifully choreographed dance to 'Wannabe' by the Spice Girls.

Dastardly Adventure number 2: Rugby banquet. My second adventure was also rugby related and happened the following day. The rugby banquet is also a bi-annual event which happens, and we all dress up nicely and eat and receive awards. NB: the awards are largely ridiculous, thus fitting in well with pretty much everything the rugby team does. My award was presented by El Capitan Margot Wade, and says on it: 'The Penguin Award; Too Legit de Quidt.' In summary, my shin splints make me run like a penguin and I am practically a real American now as I have been to the Seven Eleven.

Dastardly Adventure number 3: FEAST. This was possibly the best moment of my life so far. Or one of. Another aspect of my Americanness is that my life almost entirely revolves around food now. A night came along, much to general distress and peril, when we couldn't decide which dining hall to grace with our wondrous presence for dinner. By 'we' I mean the Fantastic Four: Emma, Christina, Moni and myself. So, we split up willy nilly and with gay abandon and went to different dining halls, used our meal swipes and collected large quantities of the coveted foods and took them away in 'To Go' containers, back to Buckland common room. We laid out a picnic rug and gorged ourselves and almost died from the amount of food. Foods consumed included: cheese tortellini, garlic cheese bread, chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, waffles with assorted toppings, omelettes, vegetable lo mein, fried rice, 40+ mini egg rolls (Tamar fetched us some more) and ice cream. And then we all groaned and lay on the floor and discussed the necessity of hibernation.

Dastardly Adventure number 4: Thanksgiving. I visited four different states in one day: Massachusetts, Conneticut, Maryland, Virginia. I went to see Liz, Virginia-Ann and family in Virginia. And had lunch with all the wonderful guidey-types that I met at SWInG in the summer. And it was wonderful. I experienced a real American Thanksgiving and Black Friday. AND on the way back to Baltimore to get the flight home, we visited Washington D.C. and went to the Natural History Museum. Fantastic. Plus I got to spend a few days playing with dogs and children. And ate a lot.

Dastardly Adventure number 5: Vespers. Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat... I didn't put a penny in the old man's hat. But I did sing a lot. We did three Vespers concerts - one in New York City and two in our very own Abbey Chapel on campus. They went well, and I got to go on an adventure to New York, and bought a penguin hat. AND, when we sang in Abbey Chapel I got to wear a rose pinned to my nun outfit because I am a senior-type thing. Or at least someone posing as a senior.

Dastardly Adventure number 6: Hot Chocolate Run. I ran 5km in aid of victims of domestic violence. I wore fleece-lined spandex and the penguin hat and it was fantastic. Sadly my shin splints let me down and I had to walk some of it, so it took me 35 mins and 35 seconds. We had magic computer chips attached to us to time when we crossed the start and the finish, and when we were done they gave us hot chocolate and oranges and cookies. And mugs. And there was a man wearing a penguin suit and he liked my hat. And then Mickey realised that she had lost her phone. She had left it in her registration pack, which had been thrown away, so I climbed into a dumpster and sorted through sacks of rubbish to locate her phone and wallet. And I am now a hero. And someone took a photo of me in the giant dustbin for a local newspaper. Strange.

Dastardly Adventure number 7: SNOW. There was snow. Not much, and it didn't last very long, but it happened. We saw from inside our sauna (the heating in my room is aggressively over-enthusiastic), and ran outside and screamed and danced at 12.30am. It was fantastic. The penguin came along for the ride.

And now exams are upon me and death is involved. Much work which I am not a fan of. But I got to write a play, which was enormous fun to write. It is about our futile existence, and what has become of the Fantastic Four now that winter is well and truly upon us. Basically, we sit indoors and don't do our homework. And talk about food. If I have time I may post extracts up here at some point.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Is this a Pinknose I see before me?

There is a new celebrity living in Buckland 418. His name is Pinknose. And he has his own bed.

There have been many adventures lately, which involve bed manoevring and the suchlike.

An unknown personnage in Abbey Hall bought their own bed a few weeks ago. I don't know why, but she did. Said bed sat outside her room in Abbey for two to three weeks. FacMan (Facilities Management) never came to collect the sad and lonely bed which was mourning for its lost owner. I happen to be tenant of a large single room which was devoid of furniture. No more.

I was aided and abetted in my michievous dealings by three trusty companions. We were able to transport first the bedframe and then the mattress in the lift/elevator in Abbey, carry it through the dining hall where people were still cleaning up from dinner and up in the lift/elevator in Buckland to the fourth floor. The bed is now assembled in my room as a useful sitting-on type thing. It is somewhat sofa-esque and was free. No complaints on that front. I even have very exciting spotty sheets on the bed which co-ordinate with the stripey sheets on my bed, and it is made up beautifully with my spare blankets.

This is not an unoccupied bed, however. I have a roommate, who had been inhabiting the space under my bed since I arrived in this beauteous country. Now my companion has a bed to himself. This wondrous creature who lives with me is named Pinknose. He is a hedgehog. Actually, that is a lie, in the same way that the geek cake is a lie. He is a hot water-bottle case resembling a hedgehog. With a pink nose. Hence the name Pinknose.

Pinknose has swiftly become a celebrity in the same way that Beaker is a celebrity. He is loved by all and has even featured on the Mount Holyoke Confessional, which is an anonymous forum where MHC students moan about how they looked at a boy and are now therefore pregnant. Pinknose is of course above such comments, and spends his days lazing about in his bed and warming up friends and neighbours with aches and pains and cold feet.

Friday, 31 October 2008

"Maurice...I have a plan!"

Maurice being coach, of course. We played rugby. Again. But this time it was a little more adventurous than usual.

There is this strange 'Friends and Family Weekend' malarkey that the Hamburgese folk favour, which involves the strange 'Friends and Family' folk visiting. And eating a lot. And there are even exciting adventures in which to partake. For example, my 'Friends and Family' joined the special and adventurous choir who sang with us Choralers at the concert on Saturday. And we sang a monstrous piece which nobody really understood. It was about birds and whatnot.

However, only taking on one very demanding activity in a day would be utterly unlike me, so I decided to attempt to play rugby as well as sing in a concert. Lawks a mercy. So the day happened somewhat like this:
8:30am - la famille arrives and we venture forth into the unknown a.k.a. Prospect for breakfast.
9:00am - back to my room for banking nonsense avec Vatikins. Also other dull businessy things.
11:00am - Friends and Family choir rehearsal.
11:30am - Rachel sneaks out of said rehearsal and runs super-speedily to the rugby pitch for warm ups and nonsense.
12:00pm - Kick off playing at Inside Centre because of my 'good hands' now turned to gimp because of the mysterious not-broken but yet unhappy thumb.
1:45pm - the most bizarre rugby match ever.
2:20pm - Rachel changes from rugby kit into hideous Chorale nun dress on side of rugby pitch. Still sweaty and disgusting.
2:40pm - arrive at Abbey Chapel to prepare for concert.
4:00pm - concert, Chamber Singers in particular were AMAZING.
7:00pm (ish) - collapse in a heap of death.
8:00pm - really awkward moment involving Choral director, head of music dept, accompanist etc in a restaurant. We left.
8:30pm - dinner at Judie's in Amherst.
10:00pm - SLEEP!

So more needs to be said about one of my escapades. The rugby. As it is the best thing ever. And now that the season is over I cry myself to sleep at night from the extreme and over-enthusiastic woe inflicted upon my tortured soul. Need. More. Rugby. Now.

I have played at inside centre (no. 12) once in my life before. It was probably my third game ever at the beginning of last year and I managed to break the opposing no. 12's fanny. Or so she said. Alas I was terrified this time, as I have issues with not knowing exactly where I am meant to be on the pitch at all times. But it was great fun and larks, and I managed to squish people repeatedly. Gimp thumb was made invincible by coach before the game (i.e. taped up specially). However, I wasn't making all the tackes against the big people. So Lola subbed for me and beat them all up for me. Which was fun to watch.

Then more adventures happened. The opposing team was already made up of two entirely separate teams, and our team was a mixture of A and B side players. So we mixed up even more, and switched shirts until there was a mix of all four teams on two new teams. And we played a truly mind-blowing game without really knowing what was going on a lot of the time. And I set up a try. And cried because I wasn't the one who scored, but at least I got the ball for approximately the third time this season.

Then after the first half I had to abandon ship, and I leapt over to the sidelines and did strange getting changed in public, trying to keep myself somewhat decent, and almost succeeding. And hopped off to Abbey Chapel to sing.

And now I must go eat dressed as a savage norseman.

Friday, 24 October 2008

I'm a little elfling, short and stout, here's my handle, here's my fuzzy pyjamas...

I am an elfling! Hurrah! As I didn't think that I would get to be one. Which made me sad inside. And I found out the secret of who my elf was.

Every year here the sophomores/second years are assigned a new student as their elfling, and this week have been leaving special gifts outside our rooms in the dead of night. So when I woke up each morning there was a surprise outside!

My gifts were mysteriously themed - largely including chocolate, pain-relievers and cold medicine. So I realised that my elf must be someone who knew me well...the mystery began.

In addition to the wonderful gifts there have been some creative advertisements taped to the walls in the corridors, on the stairs and in the bathrooms. These have been adapted for each of the elflings, so I had posters saying: 'I only have eyes for British Rachel'; 'I wish I was like British Rachel'.

AND I have magic jumping beans! I.e. seed pods with moth larvae in, and they move around! I have already lost one in my room somewhere...but I can hear it occassionally...I think it might be under the bed...

What my elf doesn't know is that I plan to send her gifts in return...when she least expects it!

Thursday, 9 October 2008


I have a secret. And I can't tell you about it because it is a secret. But I will anyway. To some small extent. And in a secretive manner. But you mustn't tell anyone else. OK?

On Tuesday afternoon, I had an adventure. After yoga with the rugby team on the rugby pitch I went to see the athletic trainer (who I really don't like, by the way). I then hobbled to dinner with the other Rachel, and when we had finished eating we decided that we were both significantly crippled that walking to the other side of campus was not something that we wanted to do. So we called PubSafe. For those who aren't in the in-crowd, that is Public Safety. And we begged them to come and collect us and drive us home. Which they did, by the way!

On arriving home I realised that I needed to collect a book from the library which had arrived on a merry adventure from Amherst, so I set off on an expedition with my hat and scarf as it is now about -47 outside. And on the way I collected my mail. Which included something which looked suspiciously like a ransom note. And told me to be in a certain place at a certain time (I can't disclose details, remember it's a SECRET!)

Being me, and possibly stupid, I went to said place at said time (in the black of night) and was only slightly terrified by what was going to happen to me. Turns out, I had been selected for a secret society!! I am not going to tell you about the society, other than that it is a copy of one from somewhere else, and I have dropped another hint somewhere else as well, I will leave you to figure it out for yourself!

It was amazing. And there was secret cheese and secret wine (which, of course, I couldn't drink being under-age and all that jazz). We sat in the dark, and felt thoroughly intellectual and special. And then my poor crippled self was carried down the stairs by an obliging friend.

We are trying to locate a cave for next week's meeting, any ideas anyone?

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Yurt and the Great Lakes

Who knows what a yurt is? If you don't I strongly suggest you find out right away. I may soon post a photo of our own, private MHC Yurt. As it is very special.

Today it rained. When I woke up, it was raining. When I got up, it was raining. When I had breakfast, it was raining. It rained ALL day. In a thoroughly un-English kind of way. I.e. very enthusiastically. No cynical rain falls in Massachusetts. It has been exiled.

As I still do not own an umbrella, exciting though this is, it means I need to don my very fetching 'rain pants' as the Americans call them, a.k.a. waterproof trousers. (Rain pants mean something very different to me, and I can't help giggling whenever 'pants' are mentioned. No, I never grew up.) So I put on my rain pants, and my non-waterproof shoes as I left my wellinga boots/wellygogs in Ye Olde Englande. And I went on an adventure to my classes.

When I got out of my classes, it was raining. Still.

Rugby training this afternoon was INDOORS!!! It seems that the folk on the other side of the pond don't approve of our signature British weather, which, if I'm honest, I am really enjoying because it makes me feel all at home. Fun and larks were had playing with 'El Beardo's' balls, and we ventured forth into the unknown. Dinner and then...


So we were told to 'dress to impress', but having just come straight from running around, dinner and adventures in rain pants I didn't have a chance to change. Which didn't actually matter in the least as it was dark. Like seventeen dark things. From dark land. At a dark festival.

To get to the yurt we had to cross the perillous 'West Lake', otherwise known as the new pond which has formed in the middle of Skinner Green due to all the water falling from the sky. In ropes. And all the cats. But not the dogs, we don't like those. On arriving in the Yurt, we were all delighted to discover that there were several more Great Lakes inside. Sitting on top of the carpets. So we huddled in the Yurt, and dwelt on our rugby love, and our rugby strengths and weaknesses. And I got the name of my new 'Big Sister'! Who is like my rugby mummy who will love and care for all my rugby needs. And I also have three rugby sisters who are her other babies from previous years. There was discussion of unicorns and paralysis, we did shouting and then we left.

And I did laundry.

And in 27 minutes my clothes will be clean and dry and then I can re-make my bed with clean sheets and sleep in it.

So that I can get up at 7:30am to check my emails to see whether the rugby match is here or in Vermont. And then hopefully go back to sleep.

But right now I have to go have stretchy time in the corridor. Or 'hallway'.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The girl who went up a hill and came down a mountain. And played rugby. And what not.

Today is MOUNTAIN DAY!! And for those not well aquainted with the bizarre traditions of Mount Holyoke, that means NO CLASSES! Woop! And we climbed the 'mountain'. A.k.a. a very small hill. Mountain day is not a fixed date, and no one knows for certain until the morning when it will fall. The bells ring at 8am, and everyone is sent an email. I did much enthusiastic sleeping (apart from Christina and Moni bashing on my door at some outrageous hour of the morning to inform me that today was mountain day) and finally got up at about 10am. We crawled to the bus stop at 11am, and then didn't all fit on the bus, so some of us had to wait for the next one. On arrival the entire hike took 25mins ish, and we were definitely NOT walking quickly.

At the top we ate ice cream with bean gum in it (and I told the bean story much to people's disgust). Then we took lots of photos and came back down again. Another escapade was almost over. We did extreme pushing and shoving to get on the bus, didn't fit and crammed lots of extra people onto seats without the driver noticing (I sat on the floor), and made our way home, sweet home.

We were naive enough to believe that purchasing food in Blanchard would be simple. But no. The world and his auntie, and his second cousin twice removed, and her sister's best friends' dog were all there. We ordered food and half an hour passed and still no munchies. So I cancelled my order and re-queued for a sandwich which the lady didn't know how to make. So I ended up eating something which was considering resembling a turkey club sandwich, but could have been anything really.

Drama over. It tasted good.

The second part of this entry should come first as it happened first, but I thought that I would mix things up a bit. It is all about the wonders of the best sport in the world, rugby. Which everyone should play. And when I launch my military coup to take over the world I shall make it the law that everyone must play rugby. And you are all welcome to join me in my political venture and may each carry a pointed stick. Or a bunch of loganberries.

But alas, forsooth and fulsaw... the rugby is fantastic, I am still not any good at it but am enjoying the stunning bruises and 'cleat' marks. That is what the crazy Americans call rugby boots. I am still trying to convince them that it is in fact our language and therefore I am infallible in all matters language-related. They are not buying it.

But anyway, I have been training and am having fun and larks with the shin splints and am being very wussy over the hard ground etc etc... We played Smith College on Saturday, and lost. But the 'B' side were amazing and put us to shame. And we buried our heads in the sand because we had got all the nature off and were almost as shocked as Melman.

BUT!!! I am super big and butch and scary because I did weight training with some of the crew team who are insane and train at 5:30am 6 days a week plus cardio and weights. But I managed to keep up, and only hurt a teeny bit today! Yesss! And now I have to go and do more rugby. Oh thrills and larks and all that fandango.

Oh, and most importantly our coach is called Eliza, and therefore I am questioning whether it is necessary to always speak to her in a cockney accent remnicent of 'Pygmalion'/'My Fair Lady'. And/or sing all the songs to her. And regularly ask: 'Eliza, where the devil are my slippers?'
And that is me making the tackle in the picture. As I am awesome. Or some such nonsense.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

R.I.P. Chlodwig von Hohenlohe-Schillingsfurst

There are stringent rules here about pets: aquatic pets are allowed but nothing else. So, when there was a man on the green outside the campus centre selling fish I leapt for joy and wiggled my nose. I purchased one of said fish, carefully selected for the beige gravel in the bowl. Those who know me well will be aware of my extreme fondness of all things beige. After having a discussion with the vendor about how I was a 'natural' girl and that is why I had not selected a bowl with flourescent pink gravel in, I set off back to my room.

The fish (male Siamese Fighting Fish) was named Prince Chlodwig von Hohenlohe-Schillingsfurst after the German chancellor 1894-1900. He was known by friends as Chloddy, and we were all very fond of him.

Chloddy's life was a short but precious one; he was loved by all, and spend three carefree days swimming about in his bowl before his own stupidity lead to his demise.

Fish are not known for their brains or their intelligence, and such was the case with dearest Chloddy: he was not blessed with powers of the mind.

I had every intention of buying a larger bowl or a tank for my new pet, but such an opportunity never arose. Poor Chlodwig's life was brought to a bitter end.

I arrived back in my room on Friday night after a very energetic rugby training session and was looking forward to some quality time with my newest friend and dependent. However, it was not to be. On arriving in my room I sought Chloddy's company, but he was nowhere to be found! I searched high and low within the bowl (this did not take an especially long time as the bowl is 6" in diameter). Chlodwig was found lying still on the work surface a mere 4 inches from his home. However, a small amount of poking revealed that he was, miraculously, still alive! And so I returned him to his bowl in the hope that the water would revive him.

Sadly, Chloddy lived only 24 hours more; he was limp and unhappy looking for the last part of his short life, floating around at an odd angle, not eating, and only showing signs of life when poked with a spoon.

When I arrived home on Saturday afternoon, Chlodvig was no more. He was an ex-parrot, he had passed on after pining for the fjords for a day.

His funeral was this evening, and a very sombre procession marched from Buckland to Mary Lyon's grave, and Chloddy was buried. Moving words were spoken, songs were sung, and we left our dear fish to rest in peace.

We will miss you, Chlodvig; good friend, dearest fish.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

And we've never been to Boston in the Fall...lalalalalalalalalalalala...

Ok, so two posts so close together is a little unnecessary, but here I am anyway as I don't know when I will next remember to write anything...

I HAVE been to Boston in the Fall! And it was INCREDIBLY humid and I pratically stuck to the pavement a.k.a. the 'sidewalk' in Hamburgese.

I knew all about the building with the gold dome by the time we arrived as the bus driver reminded us about it every 16 seconds from about 10mins outside of Boston. However I have no idea what it is called or what it is for. But that is where we had to meet, and I could find it again with no trouble!
We spent the day practising our Bostonian accents (yes, all us Brits were awful), in particular the word 'chowda' which the majority of us then ate for lunch.

We didn't visit the most eclectic locations in the city (actually just wandered aimlessly whilst trying to unstick ourselves from random objects such as benches, lampposts, each other...), but had a good time and in particular I enjoyed trying on 37 different hats, all of which looked 172% hideous on me. Except perhaps the gangsta one (I would like to think that I am gangsta, but in reality I am as far from it as possible. Except for possibly the Queen. But I think that she would probably still beat me in a rap-off).

Ok, onwards and upwards...

I have a massive bruise the size of my lower leg from falling over, and this is quite a novelty as I very rarely bruise and so I am taking every spare moment to poke it to see whether it still hurts. It does by the way. Just in case you were wondering. I have tried relaxing my kneecaps but it doesn't seem to make a huge amount of difference. The rugby is tres fab and marv etc etc... they are all lovely and not nearly as terrifying as they look from a distance! Although I may die from the extreme amounts of exercise: whoever decided that two hours of insane running around every day was a good idea is in fact a psycho. And I am going to hunt them down and have them for breakfast.

Singing today was great larks and I have learnt about some crazy flap of skin near my nose which apparently I can open and close as I choose and have been doing so unknowingly for years; who knew? Sounds slightly disgusting though. Anyway, it is all good until they ask me to wear one of these strange black dresses. With dress shoes. What in the name of Hitler's gigantic matching bra and panties are dress shoes? I realise that I am limited in the realms of appropriate attire, but I suspect that trainers (or sneakers as I am learning, although that sounds rather sinister and espionage-like) may not quite fit the bill. Shame.

After spending outrageous amounts of money on two books ($181 total) I feel the need to lie down and rest for a while, but not until I have had my free ice cream! They are sending us on a treasure hunt around the building to locate different bits of sundaes. Why they can't have it all in one room I don't know, but that is the crazy Americany-type folks for you.

Adieu and what not xx

Monday, 8 September 2008

Escapades with the Hamburgese...

Ok, so I haven't written anything since leaving the country. For a year. Crazy. So anyway, I left Billy Shakespeare-land for the Hills of the North a.k.a. Hamburger-a-gogo-land (for the uneducated amongst you, that is the USA). Opposite is a pic of where I live by the way, it is unreal. Soooooooo pretty.

Fun and larks were had along the way, including my eating an entire pig--albeit in two halves--in a single day. What can I say, these foreign loons, along with their obsession with undergarments, like to eat. A lot. No really, it is ridiculous and I may have gained three stone since being here. I feel like a whale already. It is FANTASTIC.

I am certainly enjoying my newfound status as a 'Senior', i.e. a fourth year student, which is somewhat comical to inform people of, as they look at me closely, and say: 'really?' It is always encouraging when people think you look about four years younger than you are. I am sure I will appreciate it more when I am fourty. Lets hope.

I have not as yet picked up any of these ridiculous words that the Hamburgese persist in using, but am greatly enjoying the many comments about the hills being alive with the sound of PANTS etc etc. I am sure you have no idea what I am talking about, but lets just say that it still takes me a minute to realise that the loons are in fact speaking about TROUSERS. Yes, those things that you wear to maintain dignity in public. Such exhibitionists.

I am taking a while to adjust to the feminist attitudes, and the male students who are allowed to graduate from an all-women's college as they were female when they enrolled. Moreover it is interesting to see photographs of girls wearing only their underwear displayed with great pride on their bedroom doors. It seems I have many things to get used to. I am understanding the need to exclaim about O'Reilly's pantyhose once in a while, but don't think I shall ever get used to the word 'panties'. There is something indescribably vulgar about it. I shan't do it.

I realise that my nonsensical ramblings are going on and on, and I apologise to anyone who is reading this expecting to come across:

a) something that makes sense

b) something of actual value/substance.

Just for the record, you won't find it here.

It is pretty, pretty, pretty, and I am dreadfully excited about 'Boston in the Fall' and all those malarkies, some of the leaves have abandoned their environmentally-conscious brothers and turned their backs on the valleys of the green etc, and are blushing profusely in the insane heat and humidity. And I still don't have a fan and thus may die from all this heat. If that is the case, I apologise to anyone who may be inconvenienced, and I hasten to add that it will, sadly, mean the end of my bizarre and nonsensical ramblings here.

My achievements thus can be listed in importance from one to ten (ok, so they're not all achievements, but I didn't know what else to call them):

1.) I have a fridge in my bedroom. It is super-cool (apologies for the awful pun) and I have put my 6 remaining bars of real chocolate in it.

2.) I have a bruise on my leg the size of my face from simply falling over. This is particularly exciting as I never bruise, and although the majority of this bruise is invisible there is a lump and it hurts when I stamp my foot. Cool, huh?

3.) I am no longer qualified to sing the refrain 'I've never been to Boston in the Fall' from the Pirates Who Don't Do Anything (Vegetales). I have, in fact, been to Boston in the Fall. What larks.

4.) I have played rugby. With a ball. And it was amazing.

5.) I managed to break my bed (deliberately) and re-attach the legs so that it now stands at about 4 feet tall and I have to jump to get into it.

6.) I auditioned my way into a choir with a song I have sung probably not more than three times before. Blagging is always the way forward.

7.) I wore a bib in a restaurant for most of the meal (I turned it into a wimple and then a do-rag for the remainder of the meal).

8.) The showers here ressemble something out of a space station. They are little moulded plastic pods inserted into the wall. With strange hand-rails.

9.) I went to Church and we held hands in a circle and sang. Bizarre, but strangely nice.

10.) I climbed half a 'mountain' in under half an hour. It turns out that the term 'mountain' is applied much more loosely here. It was, in fact, a small hill, but I still would like to claim the achievement of climbing a mountain up the 'difficult trail'.

And now I shall leave and simultaneously remove my foot from the drawer which it has managed to wedge itself in without my noticing.

Au revoir loons, until next time.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Consumed by fieldy-type things in an enthusiastically damp way

I just got back from ten days spent in a large field camping with 400 Girl Guides; fun: yes; relieved to be back: definitely. It was thoroughly exhausting in every way, shape and form etc etc...

The camp was called SWInG 2008, which stands for 'Surrey West International Gathering'. Hopefully the 2008 is fairly self-explanatory. This camp was, surprisingly, in Surrey. And it was--shock horror!--an international camp (!!) with Guides and Girl Scouts from all around the world. On our subcamp were girls and their respective leaders from Pakistan, Taiwan and Virginia, USA.

So apparently there are two of me, as my unpronounceably Belgian last name is excessively common and therefore I was assigned the jobs of two people. This worked particularly well when I was required to be in two separate places at the same time. For example, I was meant to spend one day at Thorpe Park supervising 30-odd 10-14 year olds, but at the same time was sitting on top of a large rock in the middle of a field supervising rock-climbing. Go figure. This would have been entirely impossible had it not been for my wonderfully accommodating fellow adulty-types, in particular fake-Guide Jayne (pretending to be a Guider for the week) who did a lot of 'Eddy Helping'.

But alas, forsooth and fulsaw...

We did eating.

And eating.

And more eating.

And in case we got hungry, some more eating.

Glenys, Queen of the Kitchen, a.k.a. head of the QM (quarter masters) team, decided that Jayne and I needed feeding up, and went all out for the rest of the week trying to cram more food into us. Just in case the two main courses weren't enough there were six puddings to follow (this was actually Jayne, not me, but I feel it demonstrates the point quite well).

There were two particularly notable moments during the camp which both need to be mentioned for comedy value, one because of its surprising success, and one because of catastrophic failure.

One would hope that, after 19 years on this planet I may have learnt what I am and am not capable of within a set time-frame. WRONG! Back in March Dee, our subcamp leader, asked me to design a gate for our subcamp which was called 'Stonehenge'. Sounds simple enough except that everyone takes the gates REALLY seriously. Which I knew. And like an idiot, despite being a full-time student and lunatic, and doing 700 extra activities, AND preparing for a year abroad next year, I agreed. Long before camp I wished I had said no. Our gate was a disaster in fact. I had bought 8 garden arches to represent the arches in Stonehenge. Sounds simple enough, and the instructions said: 'Just push the arch 14" into the ground'. Haha. Very funny. We got it in 3" and the wind was blowing so hard that it bent the arch right over, taking me out on the way. The metal bent and snapped, and I ended up with a large and attractive lump on my forehead. Great. We finally managed to find some way of getting the arches in the ground (miraculously) but couldn't cover them with plastic sheeting like I had intended as the wind then had a surface to push. Above is one of the attempts at covering the arches. Surprisingly, we decided against it!

On a more positive note, there was a big camp fire on the penultimate night of camp, to which every subcamp was invited. Wounded by our lack of gate prestige, we decided to go for something a bit different. All 60 members of the subcamp attended the campfire dressed as Ancient Britons in full costume, some with woad/war paint on their faces as well. We had sticks, and the piece-de-resistance was that to lead our procession we had procured a horse! Revered subcamp leader Dee, a.k.a. Boadicea, rode Midnight over to the campfire, much to the astonishment of every other camper, none of whom had come in costume! We looked fantastic!!

Anyhow, enough for now, perhaps I will post more camp stories later, maybe even the take of Hickory Dickory Dock and the high vis vests.

Ciao for now xx

Thursday, 10 July 2008


Ok, so it's not often that you have to face the ordeal of meeting your significant other's parents for the first time... In fact this was the first time I have ever had to do it, and had no idea what to do, how to behave, anything. And I am not a brave person, I am a worm.

As my friends all know, I am not a morning person. At all. So the prospect of getting on a train at half past nine at a WEEKEND did not appeal somehow. Added to the knowledge that Calv's brother and wife were coming to meet us from Wakefield. Now I'm all for meeting the family, but may suggest to others that meeting the WHOLE lot in one day only a month after the start of a relationship may be a little extreme. All went to plan as far as can be expected, I didn't do anything awful and we managed not to lose Grandma at all!

Then came a shortlived relief: we had to catch the train to Leamington Spa to Calvin's home, to meet the family there as they were driving home. I collapsed onto a train which took us to Doncaster, then changed for a train to Sheffield, then one to Birmingham and finally Royal Leamington Spa! On the train I had my first (and last) experience of the less-than-edible wonders of KFC. Never again. No really, feed me that and I will remove your limbs one by one. And eat those instead.

Ok, so I didn't die, and I'm sure the weekend was a very good idea and all; and I got to meet Georgina, one of the Sunday School kids who is a LEGEND; but really, why does his mum have to be so NICE? I just don't know how to respond to that?! She kept trying to do things for me!! Eeeek!

And we didn't fall in the canal and drown when rowing, but we got suspiciously close a few times... And Leamington Spa is so WHITE! Revolverrevolverrevolverrevolverrevolverrevolverrevolverrevolverrevolverrevolver...

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Two drowned rats

This is what the Hay Festival looked like. All week. But you've got to love the wellies...

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Like booky people; from booky land; on booky tablets; at a BOOKY FESTIVAL!!

YESSSS!! I went to the Hay Festival, and I bet you are all jealous! AND I heard Louise Rennison to whom I owe the title of this post, and my previous one, and I am sure also many future quotes!

What we learn from this experience: there are very few occassions when getting up at 4am is a good idea. Spending four hours on a train to Wales is sadly not one of them. But alas, it is easy to see this in the time it seemed...adventurous...!?

You would never guess (?!) but there are a few things which make me VERY neurotic. One of them is public transport. This makes it necessary to arrive at the station at least three hours before the train is due to leave. Well not quite, but not far off. And standing in the queue in Sainsbury's in Manchester Piccadilly train station when the train is due to leave in 10 minutes is not exactly the best time to have a conversation with me. Apologies to Megan who had to put up with my nonsense. And no, we didn't get left behind!

The festival was a success on all accounts, but there is one thing which cannot escape mention. That is, the colossal amount of MUD we came into contact with. In fact possibly the most mud I have ever met in one place in my life! Soooooooo exciting for me, a professed mud-lover, and I was leaping about in it willy-nilly and with gay abandon etc... But it of course led to the wholly necessary purchase of some thoroughly exciting spotty wellies which will likely make a comeback for SWInG and Momentum in the summer!

Not much else of significance to say about Hay, other than the fact that it is, of course, a festival about LITERATURE and not about HAY. As in, it is in Hay-on-Wye in lovely, rainy Wales. Having said that, I was within three miles of the river for a week without once coming into contact with it. But alas, I shall stop my nonsensical ramblings now!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

"I am very ugly and need to go to an ugly home."

The grand achievement of my day today has been coming to the realisation that an ugly home would be a very unfortunate place to live. I may even risk arrest and wear a balaclava in public to prevent such a turn of events. As of course I have one right here in my handbag...

The moral of this tale is that one hour of sleep is not really adequate to keep me in a state of coherence. In fact attempting to write this at 2:20am is probably no more intelligent. But being in the company of someone who is similarly sleep-deprived is a sure way to provide amusement for both parties. Especially when you make a spur-of-the-moment decision to spend the day in Leeds for no reason other than 'because we can'. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that Leeds is a wonderful place, but when you haven't been before and don't know what you are trying to find, alongside a case of vacuum cleaner syndrome, it doesn't make for the most productive explorations! Having said that, I had an incredible day, aided and abetted by a wonderful companion, who was right in saying that we would get back to York in time for a gospel choir concert!

And I feel it needs to be said that getting your wonderfully obliging boyfriend out of bed at 4:30am to escort you to hand in your essay is not a bad way to spend the wee sma's! Albeit a little surreal and disorientating.

However, I have conquered one impossibility in facing my fear of computers and all their friends and relations by setting up this page!! AND I did it ALL BY MYSELF! Very special and I feel that I deserve a reward. Ooooh biscuits...