Tuesday, 14 December 2010

All I want for Christmas is...


Sadly this post was written in full, and ready to be posted in cyberspace when something terrible happened. Madame le computeur had a malady, and fell down a hole. Therefore all my nonsensical ramblings of yesteryear are lost into the abyss of the interwebs. I shall attempt wildly to dredge the potato waffles from the back end of Brian, but I apologise if this post is even less coherent than usual.

Blame computers, they are the main weapon of all things terrible. And involve nearly as much crying and pain and death as kayaks. Almost, but not quite.

So, where have I been? I have been Out There In Him (or OTIH for those in the inner circle). And conveniently I did not get lost, nor was I eaten by angry leprechauns, which has enabled me to come home and tell you all about my many escapades.

Let's start at the very beginning: a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A, B, C; when you sing you begin early in the morning in a minibus on your way to the mysterious region known as the 'Midlands' in some indistinct place somewhere between the North and the South. Apparently people actually live there. We took some honey, and plenty of money,
wrapped up in a five pound note. And the mystical DisTIL team 2010/11, driven onwards by our fearless leader, a certain Jean-Claude van Damme. And we also took a superfluous James, for decorative purposes.

More specifically, the Peak District was our first point of call. As the name implies, there are peaks in the Peak District. There was also approximately eight feet of snow (or six inches for those who abhor the art of exaggeration). After saying hello to Sarah's breakfast at a petrol station, we made it to the peaks, and climbed one of them in the snow and ice. It is possible that there was a substantial amount of falling over, at least on my part. When I say we climbed a peak, what I really mean is a small hill with a crag on it, which was destination unknown. After some stunning photo opportunities and more falling over, we made it to the crag, and sent Simon and a James to set up at the top while the rest of us raved at the bottom.

Our three days of amazing taught me a very important life lesson: rock climbing in ice and snow is very often the opposite of what is good. This was first observed on our first day after I left three fingers behind on a layback half way up the crag. My remaining fingers--followed by the rest of me--decided to mutiny, and took me on an adventure otherwise known as falling. I did, however, discover a far superior use of my time, and that is standing half-way up a hill on a sunny day, looking out at the awesomeness that we live in; it was unusually white.

After a bit of scrambling around on boulders (largely unsuccessfully in my case), and an incredible sunset, we made our way back to the Batmobile, and headed up to the Lake District and the House of Josh, for a yummy dinner and a rave.

The following morning we arose bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and were shocked and appauled at the sight of Larry in a towel, because none of us had gone to bed with tails. We concluded that it must be something in the water up in the Lakes.

One of the 'best bits' of Adventure Plus is the ratio of mad to sensible (17:1). In fact, one might say that as an organisation, we are well beyond the valley of the mad and into the hill country of the clinically insane. For example, when faced with 6 inches of snow, the first suggestion is to climb every mountain, search high and low. More specifically, the Old Man Coniston. Did we have krampons, I hear you ask? No, we did not. Did we have walking poles? No, we did not. We had walking boots and some approximately waterproof clothing. Did we reach the summit of the Ancient Fellow? No, we did not. We did, however, thoroughly enjoy leaping face-first into snow drifts, along with inventing a vast array of daft games and some mediocre acrobatics. Result: an incredible day, but perhaps not exactly what we had anticipated. Much as I would like to claim first place in the bum sliding competition, I may have to step down and hand it to Rob, who wiped the floor with me. Almost literally.

After another night in the House of Josh (which interesting contained 0% Josh while we were there), we headed back to the mysterious no man's land that is the Peak District, to hug some more cold, damp rock, this time without any ropes to prevent falling and death. There was no death, but there was a small amount of falling, both whilst climbing the rock and whilst walking to and from the minibus. This time I managed to retain my few remaining fingers, but left behind my left kneecap as something for the rock to remember me by when it is feeling lonely.

And then there was the ride home, and some of us leapt, and some of us slept, and we arrived home safe and sound, with most of our limbs still attached.

Highlight of the three days: watching God conduct an entire symphony in the clouds. Just being Out There In Him without any other agenda was incredible, and we also had fun and larks talking about the Father, Son and Holy Goat over, around and under the dinner table. Thanks go to Jean-Claude and my new brother, for taking us on our merrie expedition, please may we go again soon?

And on that note, it's time for me to head off and feed the cauliflowers.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010


Well we were all thinking it, I figured I may as well say it. Or in this case write it.

For those who were wondering, this post is not in reference to any particular occurrence, just a general overflowing of amazement.

Tomorrow I am going on a REAL ADVENTURE! It might even be dastardly. I am going to the Lake District with work on a trip called Out There In Him. Basically we get to play and pray at the same time, and Monsieur le Rachel is SOOOOOOOO excited! God AND nature all at once--definitely an unbeatable combination. Just add cucumber and it can't be whisked. Not even at all.

To enhance the anticipation further still, three absolutely stunning pairs of fleece salopettes are accompanying us on our travels, to store the pokemon and the cabbages that we collect along the way.


Thursday, 2 December 2010

Have you ever seen a penguin come to tea?

Take a look at me; a penguin you will see.

I am currently a penguin for a number of reasons:
1.) Despite my abhorrence of all things cold, I seem to have taken up residence in the Antarctic.
2.) I am wearing a hat with a penguin on it because even the insides of houses in the Antarctic are cold.
3.) I spent all day today pretending to be Spiderman (in Antarctica) and now there are a few body parts which don't quite appreciate me as much as they did 12 hours ago.

Which, to some extent (in my warped mind), prompts the following question: have you ever been an Intrepid Explorer? Which largely seems to involve exploring things in an intre
pid manner. For example, on Tuesday (which coincidentally was supposed to be the coldest day of the week), I was an intrepid explorer. This was not entirely by choice, but as I am a well-behaved ostrich, I did as I was told. I was told to go kayaking and canoeing. In the snow and sub-zero temperatures. Now I don't know about you, but given the choice of say, staying inside in a nice warm office, or paddling around a pond, I would generally choose the pond. When the temperature is -5, occasionally I would prefer not to be an intrepid explorer. I realise that this is an unusual choice of mine, but sadly I am not always man enough for the Great Outdoors, and I have rare moments (i.e. most days between November and February) when I would rather not get frostbite. Fortunately, we weren't asked to do any rescuing in the pond in the freezing cold, and as a result I only lost two fingers to frostbite instead of the lot. I have them in a jar by my bed if anyone is interested in paying them a visit.

Other recent excitements have included tricky trail training and a bike ride with the lovely Jonny and Josh. Tricky trail may be one of the most exciting pieces of kit we own, as it is basically a playground for bikes, and a chance to relive my childhood. It also involved taking out a wooden pole with my face for added excitement. This wasn't especially comfortable,
and as a result I may not do it again. However, it did prove one very important thing: that I was cycling with gusto and a dishwasher tablet. In the afternoon we headed out into the wilderne
ss (the other side of Witney) for a bike ride/reconnoitre which included shouting at golfers and the occasional buffalo.

And, most importantly, today we went CLIMBINGCLIMBINGCLIMBING! At Oxford Brookes climbing centre thingum. I may no longer own hands, and my legs don't seem to do what I ask them to, but it was definitely worth it. The highlight of the day might have involved crash mats and rugby tackling, but the climbing was also splendiferous, if a little frustrating at times!

And of course there have been other exploits which have not been recorded, but that does not make them any less important. I just can't remember what any of them are at present. I
'm pretty sure they involved wolves and teapots, though.

Toodleoo, I must depart to shave my gerbil.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

In the back end of beyond!

The back end of beyond here refers to the past, not a place, sadly. By which I mean this post was written on the 29th day of October rather than the 17th November which it happens to be currently.

I’m sure that you will all be glad to know that absolutely no drowning has occurred since my last post. Obviously I am referring here to the last time that I wrote a blog, not any bugle/trumpet playing extravaganzas. This would be largely due to the fact that I am an hour and a half away from my trumpet, and daily mourn its absence in my life (i.e. every now and then I think that it would be nice to make a lot of noise and am unable to).

What has occurred instead, is BOB. BOB is both a person and an exciting adventure of the mountain biking variety. Along with my ragged bunch of compatriots, also known as the DisTIL team, we set forth into the opposite of the unknown (that would be the known), and did a British Offroad Biking course (BOB). The course ran out of our office for two days, and we chased it down the hill. We cycled and we played with bikes and we cycled some more. And some more. And we had very sore bottoms. And then we cycled some more. One could say that it was muchos funamondos, because it was. The only small fly in the ointment was the lack of Jonny, which required me to actually participate in the fixing of bicycles, not just the touching of them. However, I didn’t lose any fingers, and I only fell off once into a patch of stinging nettles. BOB was run by Bob, and his assistant Siggy, who unfortunately was not called Ziggy as we first thought. I am wholly of the opinion that Ziggy is a much better name, and it is a definite possibility that one day I will have a child/fish/turnip by that name.

In addition to BOB with Bob, there have been extraordinary fun and larks about the office. After the canoeing and death sessions last week, we had Friday as an admin day in the office to recover. I’m sure Sarah would agree that by far the best part of Friday was The Shelf. In a small corner of the Adventure Plus office is a secret hideout for all of our cleaning supplies. Actually it is neither secret nor a hideout because everyone at A+ knows where it is and it is the opposite of hiding, i.e. not hiding. In fact it can be seen from quite a long way away. Anyhoo, this shelf was about 92 feet high, and impossible for any normal-sized person to see what was on it. Even the extraordinarily tall amongst us (myself included, of course) were having difficulty. The result of this crisis was a Committee for the Relocation of The Shelf (CRTS). The committee consisted of two permanent members (myself and Sarah), and various temporary assistants (James, Ruth, Jonny, Jean-Claude). In one day we double-handedly moved The Shelf several inches closer to the ground, and in the process of replacing its contents, turned it into a haven of organisational bliss. All is now well with the world.

Amongst this week’s adventures are the pitching and fixing of tents (in which my role was minimal), the striking of tents (for the unenlightened, this means taking them down, not beating them), the packing up of tents after having repaired or replaced poles, sorting through and testing all of the camping equipment and arranging it in neat lines in the camping store, tidying and rearranging the bike store, pairing and counting cycling gloves, removing, testing and rearranging the entire contents of the stationery cabinet, moving the stationery cabinet, building a desk without instructions, and sending off paddling dry wear for repairs. This list is largely so that I can point at it and leap around when JL asks what we have been up to all week. The best part is that it doesn’t even include the time spent attempting to remove the light shade in the toilet, getting James to remove the light shade in the toilet, being told not to replace the light bulb after all and attempting to replace the light shade in the toilet. This sounds like a very simple escapade, but in fact it is not the case. The light shade is a very aggressive piece of equipment, and refused to budge even when attacked viciously with a screwdriver, a fork and a set of keys. It was stubborn to the extreme that the light fitting even threatened to fall out of the ceiling. Fortunately it did not, as there is no one living upstairs for me to rant at. I suppose that is largely a good thing as I am not sure that the roof of our office would be the best place for people to live. In fact it might be one of the worst places. Except for the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. Or maybe a volcano.

But alas, I must part before I set your pants on fire and bore the lies out of you.

P.S. Sadly, much drowning has occurred since the writing of this post. More about that soon...

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Gosh, Lawks a Mercy, Great Gadzooks etc!

ANOTHER POST? So soon?! I hear the astonished gasps from afar, and respond with little more than a resounding YES!! I am posting again. So soon. It is le fact. I am unsure whether it is because so much has happened that I feel a burning desire to write it all down before I lose it in the abyss of Brian, or whether it is because I can't think of anything better to do avec le free time. Possibly a conglomeration of the two.

But a lot has happened! There have been moments of CLIMBINGCLIMBINGCLIMBING... in Carterton for FREE! At a spectacular indoor wall, with all sorts of exciting routes and overhangs (yay). Also paddling in the extreme. The extreme that I am referring to is a combination of extreme frequency, extreme distances (or at least it felt like
it at times), extreme cold, and extreme fear. And a few other extremes. It is a distinct possibility that there is some extreme exaggeration going on, but I plan to continue as I enjoy the melodrama in the EXTREME. So there. Basically, we are not particularly good at le paddling. This is less (I hope) as a result of our incompetence and more as a result of our lack of experience. I.e. until this point there has been a minimal amount of contact between A+ DisTIL members and canoes/kayaks. So we have been making up for that in the last couple of weeks. Simples. Despite currently feeling as though I no longer possess such things as arms, I have enjoyed the whole escapade, largely. It has been amazing to get out in the big outdoors in boats, and having the opportunities to just soak it all in. But for one thing: DROWNING.

If you thought that the melodrama had reached its limit with EXTREME paddling, then
you were grossly mistaken. I plan to continue to extreme lengths. I am pretty sure that I am not alone in my dislike of drowning, and therefore I don't think that it is particularly unreasonable to object to being asked to do it often. Just to clarify, by drowning I am specifically referring to being upside down in a kayak and staying upside down in the water, still in the boat to be rescued instead of popping out of the boat and sticking your head out of the water to breathe. This is what we mad creatures refer to as an Eskimo rescue. I am unsure of how it relates to Eskimos in any way, unless they have a particular fondness for being pinned into a boat upside down with your head under water. Considering the temperature of the water where they live, I sincerely hope this is not true.

For those who don't have a lot of paddling experience, I would like to explain the awesomeness of canoeing; it is a sport which involves big boats which are difficult to tip, and impossible to get trapped in. This appeals to me because it minimises the risk of drowning. The slight down side is that we are required to paddle them solo, i.e. one person per canoe, which is a bit fiddly try
ing to go in a straight line, and it is considerably more challenging if you are not blessed with the biggest muscles in the world. As my hugeness is largely inner hugeness, canoeing can be a little exhausting. However, no drowning. Kayaking, on the other hand, is death on a stick. By which I mean there is a lot of drowning involved. The only sticks involved are the paddles, and the risk of impalement on one of those is minimal. Paddlewhacking on the other hand... Anyhow, in kayaking you are sitting inside a very small hole in a very small boat, and you are attached to the boat by approximately the worst thing in the world. It is called a spraydeck, and it means that unless you kick and flail a lot (or pull the handle at the front in the rare case of not panicking), you are stuck in the boat if it flips over. Which it does. A lot.

So, in summary: canoeing = ten tons of awesome but hard work; kayaking: death on a stick.

I am glad to announce that on our kayaking trip today, only two people ended up going for a swim, and this was as a result of being considerably more courageous than the rest of us and attempting high braces. Which are not connected in any way with orthodontistry or trouser retention. In case you were unsure at this time, I was not one of those brave people. If I could figure out how, I would avoid doing braces always. I am fairly sure this will not be possible. At all.

What I have missed out thus far, is the fact that I may or may not be a qualified first aider. The reason I don't know is that the instructor wouldn't tell us whether we had passed or not. It is le grand surprise. However, I know for a fact that he definitely does not have any stray hobnobs embedded in his arms. I don't know where Thomas is.

Seeing as it is now past my bedtime, I must depart in order for to do that thing what helps me to be the opposite of the state where I am not alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic on the morrow. In real people speak: I'm going to bed.


P.S. The photos are of the spare bed wedged between two walls, and of my very best impression of a gooseberry bush. Just in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Jean-Claude, something has bumped our wall...

Hello children, it was nice to meet you, now go away.

Those of you who know things about my life might be aware that I am currently residing in the land of cows. This would be a place otherwise known as the merrie land of Oxfordshire. More specifically, in Witney. As I have discovered since I knew about the move, the only thing that people know about Witne
y is that it is home to monsieur le Prime Minister, i.e. David Cameron. However, as he is currently hanging out in Downing Street, Londinium, we have not yet had the opportunity to rave together. Once he hears that I am waiting, he will be back like a shot I am certain.

However, in the meantime, I have better things to do than to sit upon this bottom of mine and ponder about co
ws. That is, in fact, because I have such a thing as ein JOB!! It is not a job in the conventional sense of the word, as I do not, in fact, get paid, but it is le grand fun. I spend some of my time learning about the great outdoors and the things one could do in it (and also doing them), some of my time teaching kiddies about all of that guff, and some of my time pretending to fix bikes. Which entails standing close to Jonny while he fixes bikes. And occasionally touching things.

An important part of this pretend job-esque thingum what I has, is the part where I'm not working. And instead am hanging out in the house of cool, i.e. The Crawley House. It is named such because it is in the village of Crawley, not because it--or its inhabitants--move
predominantly on their hands and knees. Highlights of my time in The Crawley House thus far largely seem to involve moving furniture, or wedging myself in fridges/doorways etc.

This may be a little confusing for some (or all) of the people not living in the house with me, so I shall explain a little. Since we have moved in, we have moved the bed in my room and broken the wheels off (which we promptly fixed), we have halved the height of the bed in the spare room, which includes getting it wedged between two walls whilst hunting for an appropriate allen key, AND dropping the mattress over the banister, destroying James' beautiful paintwork. In addition, we have entirely rearranged the living room, dismantled the sofa bed and relocated it to my room, moved the other sofa into Sarah's room, moved in two new sofas which were rather too large for the very narrow hallway and door. In the process
of moving in the two new sofas, we managed to wedge Rob into a corner between walls and a sofa. In addition to all of this, there has been various rearranging of drawer units, desks etc. If the career as an outdoor instructor fails, I can always fall back on my extensive furniture removal skills.

The reference to fridges and doorways is one which most certainly needs to be addressed. In The Crawley House, there is a challenge which has been set by previous Adventure P

lus tenants. This challenge is to navigate your way from the toilet in the upstairs bathroom to the one behind the utility room downstairs, without touching the floor. In other words, to climb from one corner of the house to the other. After a couple of attempts, I am proud to announce that this challenge has been completed by myself and Sarah, with Ruth getting to a very respectable half way on her first attempt. We are very proud of ourselves. The most challenging part was navigating between the fridge and the washing machine which required a very interesting manoeuvre into the door frame, and pushing off there until balanced between toes on the washing machine and shoulders on the doorpost. We welcome suggestions for any further challenges as appropriate.

Possibly worth mentioning before skipping merrily away, is the fact that I am now a qualified fencing and archery instructor, with nationally recognised qualifications (yay!), ap
proved for belaying on climbing sessions, and working towards my canoe and kayak level 1 coaching award. Busy, busy, busy! But it's a fantastic journey and I'm loving every minute (apart from maybe the part where Ruth and Sarah got lost on the way home from Sainsburys and I had no idea where they were for three hours. Fortunately, they were rescued by a very helpful and obliging monsieur le James, who brought them back to me with all of their limbs still attached!)

Those who are familiar with the name of my boss will be very quick to understand why he is now called 'Jean-Claude' in my head. I'm not sure when exactly the change happened in my Brian, but it does seem to be irreversable. Fortunately, so far he has chuckled and has not thrown any large objects when I accidentally call him that instead of his real name. I mention this now, because I have been incredibly blessed in regards to the people with whom I work; I am surrounded by an amazing group of people with a phenomenal energy and passion for serving God, and it's REALLY EXCITING!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Country roads take me home...

...To the place I belong.

This particular monkey of a blog monster is written on the behalf of a certain Monsieur le Lindley, after his comment about my general rubbishness with regards to keeping this updated. I must concede that given the multitude of dastardly adventures upon which I have embarked lately, he might be right. However, I would like to point out that to a certain extent these escapades have prevented me from having the time and sanity to record them.

The next concern is trying to recall all of the spiffingly-marvellous things which have be
fallen me of late.

I will begin on a certain Monday, a few months ago. It was, in fact, just another manic Monday. Several of my
readers will be familiar with the photographs from the day (there are MANY). Upon finishing our degrees, my beloved housemates and myself saw it particularly fitting that we visit a certain childrens' playground of which we were aware but had yet to visit. The outcome was a lot of startled parent
s and small people, and three very satisfied sort-of-e
x-students. If I could figure out how, I would post the video of Jayne making a spectacular entrance down a slide, followed by her headbutting the camera due to her overly-enthusiastic descent. All in all it was an excellent outing, probably in my top three highlights of the summer, up there with a trip to Co-op.

Possibly one of the most daring of my escapades of late involved a forray into the adult world of car hire. Yes, I know it is pretty overwhelming to imagine, but I am no
w starting to pretend to be a real grown up pusson. Avec le Megan and le Jayne, I went on an in-depth expedition of the Northern part of our beautiful nation of Mexico. We went forth into the unknown (in our lovely,
shinyshinyshinyshiny hire car),
and made it in three distinct pieces to the Umbria of the North. There was a suspicious absence of sleeping in a borrowed tent, a little bit of swimming in the North Sea (which nearly ended in death from frostbite on several counts) and the odd bit of poking. We poked high and low, including Bamburgh playground and castle, some public toilets and the Holy Island of Lindisfa
rne. Aidan seemed to be doing OK, so we left him well enough alone, and came home via the land of Go Ape! For anyone who is unfamiliar with Go Ape! it is basically a playground for big people. There are really big ladders, tunnels to crawl through, swings, and zip wires and all sorts.

Sadly, I don't have the dedication to my small collection of readers to write down detailled accounts of all of my adventures, so I have to skip over a few, including the time w
hen Jayne ate an entire two litre tub of ice cream in 45 minutes on live radio which was being broadcast from our house.

But I move ahead to the very beginning of probably the last long summer holiday of my life. It began incredibly well, with a collection of peculiar creatures squashed into a fairly small car, on their way to the Isle of Wight. It just so happens that I was one of those creatures. And I did actually know all of the others, they weren't just strangers that I picked up along the way. To recount all that we did over the course of a week might just take a week, so I will just include the highlights:
1. Trip to Co-op. Nuff said.
2. BEACH! With multitudinous beach toys including buckets, balls, bats, boards and a boat! We did manage to play with all of the toys over the course of the day, and the English Channel was far superior to the hypothermic North Sea.
3. Church at St. Catherine's with Graham the Great who thought we were from Sweden. (We weren't, by the way).
4. A visit to Vicky and Bert at Osbourne House.
5. The Needles Old Battery and Alum Bay. N.B. I am not including the chairlift in the list of highlights as it was almost as terrifying as being savaged by seagulls whilst eating fish and chips on the beach near Bamburgh Castle. I still retain my eyeballs, but it was a close call.

Obviously there were a lot of other magnificent moments, including the wonderful food, the rather peculiar company, and mine and Jayne's ability to wake up Megan with our collective snoring. Also, there were a lot of public toilets, which is a definite bonus.

Upon returning from the Isle of Wight, my life was thrown into disarray as my friends were from their mother's wombs untimely rip'd. Or something along those lines. I did that silly graduation thingumy, and visited the Brontes. Then there was an Ellen, and there was Brighton, and there was London, and there was the M25.
My most recent adventure, however, has been to the North, i.e. Carterton, near Oxford. I went on an expedition on a train, and was collected from the station by my soon-to-be-boss, to take me to Carterton Community College. I was not, in fact, going to college, but was going to play with lots of kiddies and to pretend to be one for a week. It seems that there are few things better than a week of kayaking, football, basketball, dressing up as a thug, and doing arts and crafts. Not necessarily all at once. We also had some fantastic conversations about God with the kiddiewinks, including all sorts about suffering, free will and the Holy Spirit. The food was incredible, the people were almost as crazy as me, and I got to sleep in a tent. Our theme/verse of the week was John 8:32: 'Then you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.' Life (or lice) just keeps getting better and better, seeing as I get to spend the whole of next year hanging out with the same crowd, doing much the same things. Feel free to quote this back to me when I am complaining about life-saving in a lake in January. I got back late last night, and am slowly returning to humanity, and may reappear in the real world sometime next week.

I appreciate that this is the first reference to the title of this blog post, but thought that it was a good note to end upon. After a very busy year I am home once again, both physically and spiritually, and very excited about it! In writing this I was reminded of a shopping bag from FatFace that I kept from a while ago. It turns out that I am not actually completely insane, as it did have writing on it, which fairly aptly sums up my view on life: 'Just living is not enough, I must have fresh air and freedom.'

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Life and Times of a Freebasin*

I am not, in actual fact, a basin of any variety, as that would be absurd. In fact, I am WOMAN, hear me roar. It is a distinct possibility that the roar is somewhat more akin to a high-pitched squeak, and that it is more of an in-my-head kind of a roar than an out loud one. But the combination of indoor plumbing and internal squeaking makes nothing less than a Free Woman. And that is what I am: a Free Woman of the first waters, to be precise. There is also a distinct possibility that I have been a Free Woman of the first waters for a substantial period of time, but the jury is still out on that one (and/or I am ashamed of my lack of dedication to the blogosphere and am not prepared to admit it).

There has been one significant (or less so) product of my Free Womanly wiles, and that is the creation of a diary of my summer. However, being in possession of a great deal of laziness has not helped this to develop in any substantial way, so that diary is still only a few days long. However, I will quote a choice excerpt:

Thursday 3rd June 2010:
It was barely 8 of the clock this morning, when the death monster also known as H.R.H. Princess Megan Carrot dragged two suffering weasels into the great outdoors. And then there was praying, with an all-too-pyjamad David for this weasel's liking. The prayer was international-flavoured and delicious. However, by far the most important and thoroughly top banana moment of the day was the going-outy part, carrying in our midst a picnic of kingly magnitude, i.e. a lot of food, not a large king, as those are not quite as edible, and they tend to appreciate the eating less...Buses and a library, followed by Mr Ponce Extraordinaire in the Treasurer's House, accompanied by an Emily (or Eeeeemily) , and Ambassador Ellen on behalf of the Hamburgese. Despite being poncy, Mr Ponce Extraordinaire had done marvellous things to the grand housey thing and there was merriment and cheer all around...A roaring success all around except for the fact that the Eeeeemily monster was most uncouth and badly-behaved and was googling me left, right and centre in a decidedly outrageous manner. It was wholly insubordinate and despicable, and she won't be invited next time unless she promises to behave herself. The Poncemeister did himself proud, and picnic part deux was consumed in his fab and marv garden before the return home.

This post was written on 20th June 2010 and then vanished into a thick ear, but alas, alack, alanky! It has been resurrected from the fiery depths and here it is! More to follow soon!

*Please understand that no discourtesy towards the Freemasons is intentional; after 21 years on this planet I am still without any understanding of who they are or what they do, the saucy minxes.

Friday, 16 April 2010

To the land of the free and the home of the brave!

That is where I have been. For three whole week-a-doodles! And I enjoyed myself SO MUCH, and met SO MANY wonderful people that I very nearly showed human emotion upon leaving. Not quite, but it was close.

While I enjoyed my new freedom and courage, I managed to have a wonderful collection of adventures. Which may or may not have largely involved a certain rugby team in all their glory.

My initial flight was somewhat uneventful, save for the epic hour-and-a-half queueing before getting onto the plane while EVERYONE had their hand luggage searched. I think that the woman checking my bag may have been a little confused about my age. She found my teddy in my bag (which does seem to suggest someone under the age of 94), and proceeded to jokingly refuse me entry to the plane until I produced a passport for said teddy. Since I had spent the previous hour standing in a line listening to every kind of complaint imaginable, I was not feeling as smiling and cheerful as I otherwise might have been, and as a result the response I gave her might not have been quite as cordial (substitute orange squash as appropriate) as it could have been.

To discuss all of my adventures and 'scapades in the greatest depth with Jonah and co. might take approximately 3,000 years, so instead I am going to briefly skim over most of them. I spent so many nights just thinking how you did me wrong and I grew strong...and I slept on your bedroom floor. This seemed to be something of a theme. Except without the wrongdoing, and instead a lot of rightdoing. And fetching me food and sneaking me into the dining halls when no one was looking. There were board games, there were Sangria Thursdays with singing and guitars and the amphitheatre in the middle of the night. And there was So. Much. Rugby.

Rugby certainly deserves its own paragraph, maybe even two, we'll just have to see how the first one goes. I had anticipated returning to a truly awful rugby team to watch them run around and drop balls on the floor for three weeks. And I was mistaken in so many ways. So many ways. For one, they let me train AND play matches with them which was fabulously useful because now I am the queen of fitness and scariness just in time for Roses. Also, they are no longer the most abominably awful thing in the universe! Perhaps that language is a bit strong, but it sounds so much more exciting than 'they weren't very good'. BUT...they are now! Enormously better than they used to be! Which I am pretty sure is owing to two things:

1. New coaching. From the fabulous Laura, and assisted by Adam. They 'don't take no nonsense' and really seem to know what they are talking about which is nice nice nice. And because Laura played in the back line she has re-vamped the whole attitude to the game, and included the concept of STRATEGY! Shock, horror! C'etait marveilleuse. Or somesuch.

2. Social probation! Rugby has cut socialling with alcohol completely this year and as a result: gone are the players who were only interested in the beer and obnoxious singing! Which means, a rugby team who actually have a chance of taking the game seriously once in a while. I am ecstatic.

After three weeks (and three different positions) I hope that I am a little bit better than when I left. I have one sad knee, but as I am SUPERRACHEL I am impervious to pain. And I can fly. So with any luck everything will re-learn to function in the next couple of weeks. I would be most grateful. Any York ruggers who are reading this, please don't tell on me. Obv there is nothing wrong at all.

Bien. So I have spoken about rugby and wine, but seem to be missing all of the talkies about my very epic roadtrips. One of the bestest things about returning to the fatherland was meeting NEW people. That is not people who are newly born, as they tend to be in hospitals rather than attending college. I was actually referring to people who I had never met before. Of whom there were many. For example, little Allie who (poor darling) thinks she is huger than me. Which, of course, is impossible considering how HUGE I am. Obv the hugest of the shopping centres. But we will let her keep pretending, eh? She can eat a pie if she would still like to be a puppy, I suppose. Also I have finally met the baby sister of my fake girlfriend at last, and she is a beast (quite appropriate considering that just this afternoon she will be on her way to the BEAST of the East which I am tragically excluded from, considering that I am now on the wrong side of a very large ocean). And then there were three. Amber was my road-trip buddy, and I had many an adventure in the back seat of her HUGE red truck with flames on. Including one particularly special outing to the dollar store which we left with the most attractive fake hair known to man, and also smelling rather too strongly of old ladies.

I am British. Which can mean one thing only: that I am obliged to write about the weather. Which was tres bon by the wayside. We even had one day where it was 32 degrees. That, of course, is in celcius, because I am British.

And what does hot weather call for? That's right, it sings a merrie song about sky juice. And it just so happens that at Mount Holyoke there is a lot of sky juice collected together in two places. These places are called Upper and Lower Lakes. And while Lower Lake contains hepatitis and the plague, Upper Lake seems to be relatively clean. And there is a dock sticking out into it. It does seem that a logical follow-on from running around in absurd temperatures would be to leap off said dock into said lake. So we did. Willy nilly and with gay abandon. It it was wunderbar. And then we had to sit through a very damp dinner. However, I still maintain that it was well worth it.

There is one significant occasion that cannot escape this blogination fo' sho'. And that would be my troublemaking adventures with a certain Miss Violent Violet. Violet needs a couple of mentions, actually, because she also fed me fish. Which I liked. A lot. At the time of these adventures I was sleeping in Violet's room. It came to evening and we had nothing with which to entertain ourselves. Sad times. So we plotted. The end result was two people dressed all in black, with tights on their heads. If you have never put tights on your head, it is difficult to explain just how absurd it looks. I highly recommend that you try it and look in a mirror. Anyway, we left the room so attired and proceeded to visit people. Most of them were a little surprised by our appearances. We even managed to persuade a sad and poorly Hannah stinky to join us on our mission possible. Which was fairly short-lived actually, and entailled putting a hat on the skeleton of the giant sloth in Clapp, and hanging a bra in its mouth. Both items of clothing were extracted from free bins. We also obtained a shirt which claimed, 'I think your tractor is sexy'. I have yet to understand this. The t-shirt has been saved for further havoc-wreaking in the not-too-distant future I hope. When I have located my camera cable, photos from our adventures will accompany this post. Until then you will have to imagine them.

Last but not least, was the flight home. A very wonderful Dumbleplunk assisted me in locating the bus station from whence I made my way to Boston Logan airport only 3 hours too early (which I suppose is infinitely better than three hours too late). My flight was on time, no problems etc. Dinner came round which was advertised as ginger chicken but upon opening the container turned out to be some sort of beef casserole. Pretty much the same thing, though. And then the man sitting next to me took it upon himself to tell me his life story. And that of each of his five children. I now know how old they all are, where they went to college, what they studied, who they married, where they live, what they do for a living and how many languages they speak. He was going to a business meeting in England, and was very excited about his afternoon off to visit a castle in Kent. I was so excited to hear this. ALL of this. And as a result I never saw the end of the film I was watching. Unsurprisingly, this man is not my new best friend. Perhaps we can just remain acquaintances for now? The kind of acquaintainces you want to hunt down and lock into a small, soundproof box. M'kay?

And alas I must depart to commune with the fishies, they are calling my name from afar.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

'The hippopotamus was no ignoramus, and sang her this sweet serenade...'

...I have never seen that much mud in my life. Not even once. Except maybe the time I fell over in the stagnant pond and lost a welly. Or when I went hunting for Mickey's shoe in the wonderous New Hampshire bog. OK, so I may have seen that much mud in my life. But I'm pretty sure I've never tried to play rugby in it before.

Yesterday I reached the pinnacle of my manhood. I have spent years of my life in the pursuit of all things big, butch and scary, and have been laughed at whenever I have claimed to be those things. NO MORE. Alas, I have left the land of the small and timid people to become one of the most fearsome, savage adventurers of the world. I might even explore the possibilities of become a Viking.

At about a quarter to two, one cloudy afternoon (yesterday, in fact), I donned my number 6 shirt (how peculiar) and ran fearsomely out onto the pitch. I then took great delight in smushing people much bigger than me. Repeatedly. And slipping over in scrums because of the absurdly-short (suck on that, Philip Larkin, I can use compound adjectives too!) studs in my children's boots. So perhaps I have a long way to go to be big, but I think that I definitely have butch and scary in the bag after my expedition to the dark side.

As far as I know, there aren't any photos from the match, but I would like to assure all of my readers that I can strike fear into the hearts of props the world about. Be afraid. And instead I have included a photo of what I would look like if I were a Viking. And had a beard.

To top it all off, after being fearsome I was awarded forward of the match. An honour that still seems absurd. A forward? Me? Are you sure? Hooray for trying out new things, and let that be a lesson to all the people who mocked me and told me I wasn't butch and scary enough. HA!

And now that I have had a chance to be both a blindside and an openside flanker, I can happily say that it isn't quite so bad after all. I may even try again one day. But it would be nice to have the chance to do something sneaky deaky with the ball every now and again.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

It's Christmas time, mistletoe and wine...

...children singing Christian rhyme. Or Megan, Rachel and Jayne salsa dancing with Nadia. Which is largely the same thing, I reckon.

About a week and a half ago (I'm not exactly sure of the dates), it was Christmas time at 20 Sussex Road. Sadly we roll a little behind the times, but it was fantabulous to stretch the wonders of the holiday season well into January.

Having celebrated the birthday of a certain Mrs. MFA Carrot in the last week of term, it was deemed that to avoid stealing the thunder of said personage, we would postpone our celebration of all things merry and delightful. Which was duly done. (It also provided a very necessary opportunity for certain unnamed, disorganised people to actually do the purchasing of Christmas pressies!)

In life, it seems to me, that there are some kinds of gifts that are better than all of the others. Of course amongst these are the gifts of love, joy, peace, patience... (see Galatians 5 for full details of last years anniversary card). But putting aside all things holy, I really like toys. And when I say I really like toys, I REALLY like toys. So as far as Christmas is concerned, all things stocking-related provide hours of entertainment. (Any donations to the retirement fund for the inhabitants of 20 Sussex Road are always appreciated...) And as we are poor, financially-challenged students, we took the Father Christmas route for our gifts for each other.

In case you are confused as to what this really means, I AM Father Christmas. Bringing peace and goodwill to all men (or was that the angels? Because I'm pretty sure I'm not one of those...) Anyway, I jiggled my belly and wiggled my nose for all (as did Megan and Jayne), and stocking presents appeared! We had a spectacular time, and ate turkey mole and spiced pound cake. For those who might be a little concerned, no moles were harmed in the filming of this programme. Of course my stocking was the bestest of the shopping complex, and included pirate candles, bubble gum that insults you in Shakespearian language, and all sorts of other wonderful surprises. Jayne got a dance with Nadia DVD, from which we were able to ascertain that although we are not very good at salsa dancing, neither is Nadia, which is a considerable encouragement.

As if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared, and we read the gospel according to Luke; we spent a wonderful evening together amidst fun, merriment and a loaf of cake with no legs. And a reasonable amount of raucous laughter.

Attached are a couple of photographs of our dastardly adventures and superfluous 'scapades; please take particular note of the Christmas tree fashioned from cardboard toilet roll tubes. Which had not been in the fridge.

I feel a terrifying attack of the waffle coming over me, but am reluctant to fetcher la vache until I have told the story of the CELEBRITY GUESTS who came over for lunch today. We were joined by none other than David and Jono of the Graveshifters show (University Radio York), of particular fame amongst the members of Vanbrugh CU for their Bible study-leading, toasty-making skills. In our very own house.

It might be the case that David and Jono have something of the Feathers about them, but we had a minor food crisis. It seems that although 5 loaves and two fish can feed 5,000, 36 sausages and half a bag of potatoes are not sufficient for 5 hungry students. A very mysterious thing happened. I have cooked sausages many times in my life before, and never have I been met with such a strange occurrence. Yes, when you cook them they shrink, but these sausages were so enthusiastic in their shrinkage--almost to the point of aggression--that when we took them out of the oven they were the size of cocktail sausages.

We did what any sane person would do in this situation: we ate a lot of cake. A LOT of cake. And once again, cake and custard saved the day. And I will forever be of the opinion that there are few things in life better than chocolate cake and Articulate in the same afternoon. Which I would like to point out was won by the girls. Due to their superior knowledge of bird life (in particular Chaffinches).

And now it is time for me to go and combat the mighty and evil forces of the claminator. That is all.

Monday, 1 February 2010

My housemate is a carrot

I am sorry to have to announce that a curious change has come over one Megan Frances Abigail. We spent a glorious weekend together in the cold and snow of Shropshire, with our other housemate Jayne Stinkypants. The food was wonderful (and if you've never seen anyone eat an entire bowl of sour cream by itself, it is pretty entertaining), the Bibley-talkey bits were excellent and we slept in a beautifully freezing cardboard house. At least I did. And we all know that you can't beat frostbite for making a weekend memorable.

So you can imagine my consternation when, upon our return, we retire to bed quite as we should be, and wake up quite as we shouldn't be. At least in Megan's case. I'm not sure what the medical term is for turning into a carrot in your sleep, but I reckon it's pretty serious.

What's worse is that now Jayne and I have the dilemma of what to do with her. It seems very heartless to eat one of your best friends, but similarly wasteful not to. And if we leave her too long she'll osmose and get all old and soggy. And if we put her in the back of a wardrobe somewhere in Cambridge I reckon she'll go runny at some point.

Feel free to contact me with any suggestions/recipe ideas as we mourn the sad loss of our friend.

In other news, there was snow. SNOW. In England. ENGLAND. What is the world coming to? And it wasn't piddly, fiddly little teeny-weeny-eeny-smeeny amounts of snow, it was great gadzooking monster amounts of snow. At least for England. Especially that fine suburban hub of Alton-en-le-wey. Apparently.

And what do all sensible English people do when it snows? They go 'boggan in their wellinga boots. Of course. Or tobogganing in their wellington boots if they have a little more self-respect. Preferably wearing the most absurd clothing they can find. In my case a full waterproof outfit belonging to my father. You can't beat flourescent orange trousers. Ever. Especially when the waistband stops just two inches below your armpits. Spectacular.

I decided to go 'boggan, but my adventures were somewhat more spectacular than most people's. I like to believe that this is because I have more imagination, but probably it is because I wear bigger knickers. We managed to develop a new and improved sledding technique, which involved three overgrown children (substitute adults where appropriate), lying one on top of the other on top of the other on top of the toboggan. And then taking the hill head-first alongside all of the other, less-adventurous inhabitants of Guildford.

This is not, however, the peak of the excitement! Which came when two girls, probably aged about 9 and 12, come bombing down the hill on their marvellously speedy-weedy 'boggan with metal runners. They see a group of people at the bottom of the hill and decide not to stop, not to change direction, not even to call out, just to keep going and see what happens. If you have never had a sledge go over your leg at full-speed, it is pretty surprising. Not the most comfortable moment of my life, but possibly worth it for the spectacular bruises and hard lump that is still in my leg.

Chuck the Pig is in fine form, as is Rachel, and three cheers for Merrie England.