Friday, 31 December 2010

Whipping Up A (Sand)Storm...

Every year, Sand Sculpting Australia whip up a real treat for Mornignton Peninsula residents with a display of creative prowess on the foreshore at Frankston Beach.  This year's theme was Creepy Crawlies so with some trepidation, we tip-toed quietly through the entrance to see what was in store.

Here's a run down of what we saw:


The Entrance (for what it's worth)

Flea Circus

Sewer Connection...

...and close up of Sewer Connection friend.
Boogie Man

Bed Bugs...don't let them bite!

The Exterminator...complete with plumber/builder's crack?!

Beetlemania

Lair of the Spider Queen...not for the faint-hearted!

The Hive...

...and close up of Bee Boy.  Aaaawwwww!

A Closer Look - under the magnifying glass

Enchanted Garden

Little Miss Muffet, looking a little Shrek-ish.

Alice and the Caterpillar

Roach Motel...


...and patrons enjoying a tinnie...


Ant Farm...an homage to Farmville on Facebook.

Frog Pile

and last but not least, the paparazzi in action...

(Big sister S is on the left and that's Lil Chicky on the right)

Pretty amazing huh?  All made from sand!


So there it is peeps - my last post for the year.  Thanks for coming along on the Gidday from the UK ride for 2010.  Let's make it a 'little bewdy' in 2011!

Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

A Boxing Day Test...

Well the sleeps are gone and I am on the other side of the world where the temperatures are high and the run rate is low...yes, it's Boxing Day in Melbourne!

After much eating, drinking and hysterical laughter with Lil Chicky and Company yesterday, I am now faced with the recovery phase of the Christmas period and am wondering about the following:

  • When will I have a proper sleep (out out damned jetlag!)
  • How much Aussie sun can a 7-years-long UK resident really stand (not used to that 'burn-y' sun any more and lasted about 45mins today);
  • How much more wine/turkey can I eat/drink; and
  • Are the number of books I will plough through here be a good barometer for the absolute best chilling out holiday ever?
Anyway peeps, I will do my best to keep you posted...presuming I can rouse myself out of the general lethargy and 'can't-be-bothered-ness' that appears to have taken hold.

Hope this side of Christmas finds you all replete with good food, great company...and maybe a little visit from the fat man...

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

6 Sleeps To Go...A Clear Path...

I woke up this morning dreading the fact I would have to trudge down the icy streets into Kingston to get my phone exchanged (long story). The radio told me (several times during my 2 hour semi-snoozing lie-in) that it was -4C, the high would be 1C and that we could expect more snow this afternoon.  Oh joy!

And then I opened the front blind to find that some kind soul had shovelled the snow from my front path! Bless...a little Christmas spirit right on my front doorstep.


I also saw a wicked snowman further down the street and found myself quite enjoying the crisp air on my face and the crunchy snow underfoot.  And just as I'm typing this, a squirrel has bounded along the railing and up into the tree, leaving a bit of a snow shower in his wake.

Sigh...I love Sundays!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Inspired By...Strictly Sparkle...

So Strictly Come Dancing is over for another year...no more ballroom frolics and latin antics (or should that be ballroom antics and latin frolics?) to fill my Saturday evenings with glamour and wistful longing...and every year there's a tiny part of me that wonders why I don't go back to it.  Obviously not at the level that these guys dance at...but that all-consuming obsessive passion that from the very first time, filled me with joy.

It makes me wonder what the next year will bring, where I will find the moments of joy and passion that seemed a little thin on the ground this year. 

There will be those small things like this week's 'snow' moments or great customer service (had a fab experience with John from Oyster Card this week).  And then there are the big changes - life as a single girl and an amazing new job to start in January - which whilst presenting some waters which have not been charted for a while, I have to admit are a little inviting.

In the meantime, there's a holiday to have and the small matter of a large gent in a red suit that may be popping in to sprinkle a little Christmas cheer.  And as life in 2010 has been a tough ride (for many people), a little more magic seems to me to be just 'the thing' for 2011.

So as there are only 13 days left in 2010, I've decided to look for a little extra sparkle every day to make sure I get plenty of practice for 2011...does welling up during the Strictly Final count?

ps...and on another matter, 1 week people, 1 week...that's 7 sleeps to go (just in case you missed the widget-thingy on my blog).  Hope you've been good this year!

pps...and congrats to Strictly winners Kara and Artem - you were my favourite!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

14 Sleeps To Go...A Christmas Tune...

I woke up during the week to one of my favourite Christmas songs and with only 14 sleeps to go, I thought it was time to get festive and share a Christmas tune.

Shakin' Stevens' Merry Christmas Everyone was released in 1985 (showing my age here), spent 11 weeks in the charts and was the Christmas Number One (way before all of this X Factor/Rage Against The Machine malarky). 

And it just makes me smile ...and quite frankly, want to have a little boogie...

Enjoy!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Inspired By...The Original Single Girl

I was catching up on reading last weekend's Times magazine (and listening to some Laura Branigan, but that's another story!) and I dipped into a column that I have not read for quite sometime - Things You Only Know If You're Single written by the fabulously single Hannah Betts.

(For those of you who don't know, I am, once again, a single girl - again, another story, and unrelated to Laura Branigan.)

Anyway, the topic of singledom was this - that "Elizabeth I was the original career single". Intrigued, I read on.

Betts includes some supporting quotes (which I will share here as if you want to read the column on-line for yourselves, The Times in their commercial wisdom, will now make you pay to read their stuff) such as,
"Better beggar woman and single than queen and married"
which, while I don't subscribe to being the marrying kind, seems a little blinkered and/or extreme; and one which is entirely up my street:
"I will have here but one mistress and no master"
There is a lot written about Elizabeth, her life and her reign during the Golden Age - a lot of which I've read.  But I was inspired to go-a-googling to see if I could find a statement that would sum up how much this frivolous yet wily and conservative political genius achieved during the 44 years of her reign...

When she ascended the throne in 1558, England was an impoverished country torn apart by religious squabbles. When she died at Richmond Palace on the 24th March 1603, England was one of the most powerful and prosperous countries in the world.  (http://www.elizabethi.org)/)
So the Virgin Queen pretty much rocked her world. But I have to admit, I don't think I'd have ever been prepared to forego potential sexual misadventures for it (be honest, would you?!!)...and let's face it, THAT horse bolted a long time ago.

But Betts is right - Elizabeth I is absolutely a true hero among 'lone ranger' icons.


ps...it's exactly 3 weeks 'til Christmas today...and while the beloved widget thingy (which is on my blog for those of you receiving this by email) is still marching festively towards the 25th, the advent calendar will be marking its annual pilgrimage towards the big day in a communal fashion on the office filing cupboard... 

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Did Somebody Mention Christmas?

Last we left things (see Lazy Saturday), I was bracing myself for a rather chilly foray into Kingston to run a couple of errands before heading over to A's for red wine (yes more), a home-cooked dinner and some girly telly. 

So I set out just after 4pm (you know, just after our 'sun' has gone down and it's, well...dark), crunching down the sporadically-gritted path to the bus stop, resolutely telling myself that a) it was not as cold as my nose was telling me it was, b) it was ok not to walk all they way into Kingston today because it was cold/it was dark/time didn't permit and c) that I would feel much better with these errands off the to-do list. 

And then I got into Kingston to find...

...the lights are up...
...the tree is out...
...and there's a gorgeous new old-fashioned sweet shop in Castle Street (where I spent about 20 minutes wondering around in child-like amazement).

Buoyed by all this festive cheer (and a reunion with my phone which seemed to go quite smoothly), I crunched on to A's who had promised an evening of home-cooked lasagne and mooching on the couch, curled up under blankets and just feeling all warm and toasty. 

I didn't think it could get any better, but it did... 

She was making lamingtons when I got there!

Eeeeeeeeeee (aka squeal of excitement)!
Delicious little chocolate-dipped, coconut-covered bundles of sponge-cake yumminess!

And not wanting to be rude, I had three...

I think Christmas may have come a little early (27 days actually) this year!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Lazy Saturday...

It's a been quiet Saturday so far, gratefully received after a 'big one' last weekend and a mid-week, impromptu 'red, red wine(s)' session which took me a good sleep on Thursday night to recover from but was hugely enlightening from a getting-to-know-my-workmates-more point of view.

My first on-line grocery shop arrived promptly and without any horrendous substitution errors. (Someone at work told me they ordered wine and got baguettes???  Now THAT would be disappointing!)  Sainsbury's Online may just become my new BFF.

So I'm tapping away here with some Kylie tunes in the background before I head out into the chilliness (yes, people, the snow coat is out!) to be reunited with my phone (it's been a looooong 3 weeks) and buy the Saturday edition of The Times. 

I love a lazy Saturday...

ps...only 28 days to go peeps...that's 4 weeks 'til we all talk turkey and dis' the fat man...the widget thingy never lies!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Fros 'n' Flares...

So Friday night saw me trekking cross-London to Borehamwood for a birthday-filled weekend.  Ostensibly it was all about my friend A's do on Saturday night but it all started a little earlier than I had thought it would with the news on Friday night that we would be popping in to a 1st birthday party on Saturday morning (said friend has a 10 month old boy and has been venturing into fields somewhat alien to a resolutely childless 41 year old). 

Many balloons, small people, and toys later, I emerged flushed with success at managing to have conversed amicably (with the adults) whilst riding complacently along the wave of ceaseless attention grabbing unique to the under-5s...and having quite enjoyed myself!

But really this weekend foray into the 'wilds' of North London was for my friend's 40th birthday bash on Saturday night, a 70s themed 'fros and flares' do at Ziloufs in Islington.  Now I'm not a huge fan of the whole fancy dress thing and funds being what they are (or aren't as the case may be!), I was forced to indulge in a great deal of frugal googling (70s fashion) and frantic imagining (what's in my wardrobe) to come up with 'the look':

Me 'n' the birthday girl...btw, I'm the one on the right...and that's actually someone's sequinned shirt in the background...

An hour in the mini-bus later, we found ourselves boogie-ing away to the funky sounds of Soulscape, enjoying some great cocktails and impressing the dining crowd with our general party spirit...needless to say it was a big night and a long mini-bus ride home with the remains of this on my lap...


So all that was left to do was remove the eyelashes and pour myself into my floor-level airbed (no falling out for this little black duck!).  And after a reasonably gentle recovery on Sunday morning, fuelled by flat diet Coke and a small bad-for-me snackette at the tube station (a chicken and mushroom pastry if you must know), I toddled my way back to South West London...

...wrapped myself in a blanket and finished the weekend off with cheese and tomato on toast!

Aaaah...perfect!

ps...the widget thingy says there's 33 sleeps til Santa comes...that's less than 5 weeks now people so chop, chop!  On with the preparations I say!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Adding Up The Small Things...

In my weekly peruse of Dr Alan Zimmerman's Tuesday Tip, I found another little pearl of wisdom I had to share...

"Bigness comes from doing many small things well. Individually, they are not very dramatic transactions. Together though, they add up."  Edward S. Finkelstein
Sounds like my life at the moment!

And with the widget thingy telling me that there's only 41 sleeps to Christmas, I am suspecting that unless I get cracking on a few small things, I may be faced with a rather large 'transaction' (aka meltdown) in a few weeks time...

Methinks it's time to get some skates on!

Friday, 12 November 2010

A Game Of Tag...You're It!

I got this game from a fellow blogger Ladaisi, via Seeded Buzz. Seemed like a fun thing to try and she wrote out the rules so beautifully that I couldn't help but leap in and 'have a crack' at it.  So, these are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.  Yep
2. Paste these rules on your blog post.  Yep
3. Respond to the following prompts (in bold).  Yep
4. Add a prompt of your own and answer it.  Yep no. 8
5. Tag a few other bloggers at the bottom of the post. Yep
6. Leave "Tagged You" notices on their blog/Facebook. Soon
7. Let the person who tagged you know when you've written the post. Before soon
------------------------------------------------------------
1) The best investment you ever made:
Travelling and books...both expand minds, possibilities and stomachs.

2) If you could’ve written any book, directed any movie, and composed any song, which three would you pick:
I would have written The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (such a gloriously unexpected surprise), directed The Devil Wears Prada (all those fab clothes...sigh), and written Born To Be Alive by Patrick Hernandez (showing my age a little here!)

3) Weirdest quirk:
My adoration of Alfie Bear...oh and a serious addiction to peanut butter...and cheese (although not together!)

4) One wish immediately granted:
Debts...gone!

5) Most expensive hobby:
Eating out...I just love great food (and wine) in great company! And it doesn't always come cheap...

6) An inexhaustible gift-card at which store:
Waitrose...there's that food thing again!

7) In another lifetime, you’d be:
A writer...although this life's not over yet...

8) The most famous/interesting member of your family tree:
Famous: Bernadette Devlin
Interesting: Bishop Ferdinand Hamer 

So I'm tagging:
Seen the Elephant, Marmite and Fluff, The Vegemite Wife, Clever Girl Goes Blog, Memoirs of a TSUNAMI Girl, Postcards From Across The Pond, Ham Life

So the game is afoot! And you are IT...

ps...If I haven't tagged you and you'd like to participate, don't be shy...jump on in! And if you are one of these annoyingly organised, OCD types and have done all your Christmas shopping, I could not think of a better way to while away the 43 days until the fat man in the red suit pops in...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Motivation Is An Inside Job...

One of the things that drops into my inbox each week is a newletter from Dr Alan Zimmerman, a motivational keynote speaker whose Tuesday Tip brings his thoughts on attitude, motivation, teamwork, communications and work relationships right into my mid week commute.

I have often been fascinated by this whole idea that the 'universe provides', that there is an energy in the universe that means if you do the things that move you in the direction you want to go in, the path seems to open up before you, signposts and all.

Those who know me well know that the last few weeks have been difficult to say the least and while the path is yet to materialise (it's just one step at a time at the mo'), this week's Tuesday Tip, Motivation Is An Inside Job, seemed to be a great signpost for the weeks and months ahead.

Dr Zimmerman starts by saying that no-one is 100% motivated 100% of the time (no really?), that external sources of motivation can not really be counted on ad infinitum (no sh*t Sherlock!), that the best source of motivation lies within ourselves (obviously!) and then goes on to provide some hints and tips on being your own motivational generator (which you can read for yourself by clicking here if you really want to). 

But that's not what inspired me to get tap-tap-tapping here at my front window.  His thoughts actually reminded me of something I heard 8-9 years ago from a course leader with Landmark Education:

When you take responsibility for your own happiness, others show up as a gift.
Think about it: imagine being able to generate your own happiness in spite of your circumstances.  Then others don't have to bear the burden of delivering happiness to you, all gift-wrapped with a big shiny bow.

I don't necessarily mean we need to be happy all the time (personally, and particularly right now, I would find that exhausting) but consider taking responsibility for all the feelings we have and not that they are caused by someone else. 

Powerful....and scary...stuff.  Because then there would be no-one else to blame...

...but me.

Damn!  Poor-me-ness has been foiled again.  Quick, get back under that duvet before I start waxing on about the buck stops here and all that malarky...

...even though it really does.

ps..just to leave you with something else a little motivational (or otherwise depending on your point of view)...the widget thingy says there are only 48 days til Christmas...

Bah Humbug!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Warrior Inside...

In catching up on some weekend newspaper reading this week, I was delighted to discover that the Hamer name is far-reaching...in fact much further reaching than I anticipated.

In The Times Magazine from two weeks ago, I came across this picture of a warrior from the Hamer tribe, one of the more successful tribes making their home in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia:


The men wear clay buns on their heads to signify that they have made a kill and a scar etched onto their chest for every life they've taken...this one's obviously new to the warrior game!

And not to be outdone the women of the Hamer tribe "dye their hair red with ochre and wear intricately beaded clothing"...


They also wear rings around their necks when married (step up from the finger perhaps?) with the number of rings denoting their ranking as first, second, third wife to their polygamous husbands. This woman is a Wife No 2.

Hmmm I thought.  Not sure about that...polygamy and all those layers and repressive 'signature' jewellery.  I would rather just imagine 'Mrs Hamer' tripping barefoot down a theatrically dusty catwalk during London's Fashion Week or maybe she could have a little sojourn Gok's Fashion Fix to bring her out from the shadows of her warrior husband and to get her to 'stop hiding under all those layers, girlfriend'.

Great hair though...

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Inspired By...Me!

Exciting news peeps...expatriate focussed website, Expat Focus, has published a little exposé on yours truly! 

So if you want to be inspired by...well...me, click here to read about my Expat Experience...

ps...ok so the picture is supposed to be 'inspiring' - not many words in a blog post looked really uninteresting...enjoy!

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Inspired By...The Optimal Optimist

In meandering around Seeded Buzz this afternoon, I came across the headline 'Why Leader Are Leaders'.  Part of me wanted to dive behind the comfortable couch and hide from yet another platitude about the mysteries of leadership but my curiosity got the better of me and I read on to experience this:

The irreducible essence of leadership is that leaders are people who live their deepest personal values without compromise, and they use those values to make life better for others- this is why people become leaders and why people follow leaders. -Stan Slap in "Bury My Heart in Conference Room B"
Wow!  I thought, I wonder where this came from (besides some dude in Conference Room B)?  And with a simple click I arrived at the blog of the Optimal Optimist, a twenty-something girl in Philadelphia out to make a difference.  And being up for a bit of difference-making myself, I read on to be reminded that:

"Smooth seas do not make for a skillful sailor." (African Proverb)

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

and my favourite:

"Life isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating yourself." (George Bernard Shaw)

So I'm going to take my 'deepest personal values', follow this one for a while and see where it takes me...

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Halloween Shmalloween...Missing A Trick

We've reached that time of the year when it really does seem that I missed something in choosing to up-sticks and plonk myself here in Ol' Blighty almost 7 years ago.

Back then, I was inspired by rich history, diverse and opinionated discussions with the locals (granted these were over a pint - them - and a few vinos - me), and being immersed in a centre-of-the-world economy and in-your-face multi-culturalism (would you believe that the catalyst for said move did actually say to me on our second meeting that Australians were really racist because he never saw any black people?  He lives...just!) 

And I am still charmed by that unique mix of inspiring and dispiriting weather in my new home - who can resist the joyful outdoorsy-ness of the English in celebration of any appearance of the sun or the crisp whiteness of an early morning, untrodden snowfall?  And I love being all tucked up inside feel snug and cosy on those grey drizzly days and wrapping myself up against the elements if I really must venture outdoors. But I digress...
Halloween icon

This weekend is Halloween.

Two years ago, we were graced with two batches of little monsters and being completely unprepared for this, were just lucky that the adults in attendance prevented any treat-less consequences being foisted upon us.

Last year I was prepared for the onslaught of local mini-ghouls, thinking that the trek up the hill on little legs would be nothing in the face of prospective treats - only to have no-one show up, forcing me to eat a whole bag of mini-Malteser packs and bemoan my ensuing nausea and mild chocolate headache.

So this year, I'm taking a stand. I have prepared nothing and tonight, shall keep my door firmly closed to all ghostly comers whilst I stay safely inside, watching telly on the couch and eating naughty snacks to appease my guilty conscience.

Mainly because I forgot.

However, my little Christmas countdown widget-thingy has reliably informed me that there are only 56 sleeps to go (just in case you were wondering). So I promise to be better prepared for that... 

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Universe Provides...Adding A Blog Page...

I have been racking my brains (and surfing the net like mad) trying to work out how to add more pages to my blog.  You see, I found out that you could add a menu bar across the top (which I did quite easily) and then thought to myself 'adding of a page must be a cinch!'

Well not really...I searched through what I thought were all the logical places, and then turned my attention to the not so logical places, followed by a menu by menu trawl through my 'blogger dashboard' and then finally a google search...to no avail.

But the power of the internet showed its stuff and thanks to fellow blogger Kate (Marmite and Fluff), I have today added my first extra page - The Great Bake-Off, where I promise to share all of the highs and lows of my baking journey.

ps...for those of you who want to check it out, visit my blog - http://www.giddayfromtheuk.blogspot.com/ and click on the The Great Bake-Off tab at the top - or you can just click here.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Promises, Promises...The Great Bake-Off

Every year on my birthday, apart from celebrating all that is fabulous (and modest, of course) about me, I am always inspired to embark on something new.  This might be a new experience, a new adventure or simply a new 'education' but there always seems to be a plethora of things I'd like to conquer - or at the very least have a crack at. 

So when I turned 41 back at the start of August (and realised that, yes I had left my thirties well and truly behind me), I made a little promise to myself that this year I would overcome my trepidation in an area that everyone else makes look effortlessly simple - baking.

I'm not talking about the type of baking to do with vegetables, burritos, fish or lasagne (although having never made one of these before, I might just sneak one in this year).  It's proper baking I mean to master - cakes, pies, tarts, muffins, loaves, biscuits - all that lovely old-fashioned, apron-clad cleverness that's absolutely meant for sharing (vs one-pot meals for one or two).

So this week, with a few days off and having been given 4 tins of pineapple pieces (a whole other story!), I decided that I would kill two birds with one stone and try a cake recipe that used canned pineapple...and after a small amount of fossicking on-line (Google, how I love thee!), I embarked on my first venture - Pineapple and Banana Loaf.

After much mashing, measuring, mixing and mulling over the batter-spotted recipe sheet, I got that beast into the oven and just over an hour later was rewarded with this:


There was a still-warm slice each for me 'n' J for dessert on Wednesday night and then my Ladies Who Lunch visitor, and baking friend extraordinaire, A polished off another couple of slices on Thursday, whilst making all the 'right' noises.  And the rest is going next door tonight to face the ultimate test - a couple of teenagers! 

But the reviews are good...and I have to say, I'm a little bit chuffed with myself!!

However timing will be of the essence in my future baking forays - after all, I cannot be expected to polish off 32 serves on my own - late at night, watching Mad Men, Desperate Housewives, Hells Kitchen or The Apprentice.  Otherwise next year's promise will be a cinch to select...mastering the discipline of Low Fat Diet & Exercise!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Sleeps To Go...

Just a quick update for all you planners and list makers out there:
  • There are only 78 sleeps to go until Christmas Day;
  • There are only 27 sleeps to go til we see S in Fawlty Towers on board the Hispaniola;
  • There are only 11 sleeps to go on the Lil Chicky Birthday Countdown; and
  • There are only 3 sleeps to go until I go back to work...
So I'm off to spend the afternoon with a good book in my favourite little reading spot...

View of my reading spot from my window
In the afternoon this gets a glorious couple of hours of gorgeous sunshine...so fingers crossed that the weather holds out!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Midlife...The Journey Continues...

Those of you who read Gidday from the UK on a fairly regular basis will know that I was recently inspired by an excerpt from freebie mag Stylist to invest my little Amazon birthday voucher in The Midlife Manual.

It's not a cover to cover read (like my commuting choices) but I'm dipping in and reading a few choice morsels every few nights before I go to sleep.  And I'm inspired to share a LOL moment with you.

There's a section on a Midlifer's 'Obsession With Lists Of Things To Do Before You Die'.  I have been an on-and-off list person so could relate to some of the 'most common' - make a will (oops!), have tea at the Ritz (done), write a novel (uuummmm!) and take a trip in a hot-air balloon (done - for birthday number 33).

But this was the LOL moment.  They mentioned that the author of '100 Things To Do Before You Die' (Dave Freeman if you must know) died at the age of 47.  Quite young you might say and having only visited about half the places on his own list. You'd think he would have departed this world in some grand adventuring fashion, skydiving over Everest or swimming the Amazon. But in actual fact he fell over at home - and hit his head!

I wonder which place on his list he was visiting?

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Frisson Folly...

I finished a rather cracking read during my commuting odyssey this week - Boyd Morrison's The Noah's Ark Quest.  It was full of all my favourite things in an unputdownable read - history, adventure, subterfuge and a will-they-or-won't-they-make-it race against time. Excellent material for absorbing oneself completely in a world divorced from the sopping brollies and damp humanity on the train this week.

And then it was spoiled.

Not completely but the brilliance of the ride was tarnished slightly by that most insidious of plot spoilers.

Romance, or for want of a better word, Chemistry...between the protagonists.

I'm not against a bit of frisson in my reading material.  In fact far from it.  But I like my frisson to be relevant to the plot whether it be those all time frisson classics, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice or a bit of chick-lit by the likes of Sophie Kinsella or Tasmina Perry.  And when I choose to read books like these, I'm choosing the chemistry, romance, and lust that they promise.

It seems to me that modern adventuring tales follow a 'formula' which features a 'ruggedly handsome' fella and a strong/intelligent (sometimes both) and  'beautiful' woman who spend most of the story either pretending there's no chemistry or avoiding acting on the it (as it would not be wise to distract themselves from the mission at hand).  Only to fall prey to each others charms after some near death incident...

Bo-o-o-o-oring. Bored bored bored bored bored!  Leave my action-packed thrillers alone guys!  If I want the rollercoaster excitement of Space Mountain, I don't want to be treated to an It's a Small World boat ride in the middle!

So I deducted half a star from my 5-star rating on WeRead for The Noah's Ark Quest...

Rant over...for now.


ps...only 17 sleeps to go on the Lil Chicky Birthday Countdown...

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sleeps To Go...Better Not Cry

I haven't seen any actual evidence of this whilst out and about myself but I have been reliably informed via email, facebook updates, blog posts and ads that Christmas has begun to cast its long shadow into the world again.

And as always, it just seemed too early to be right.  So I investigated further only to discover that there are in fact 90 days until the fat man in the red suit (or whatever your version is) comes to town.

My first thought was ugh!!!  Immediately followed by 'hmmmmm, how can I embrace this in a sustainable-til-Dec-25 yet ridiculously childish fashion?'

So the new look Gidday From The UK blog has a guest widget...an attempt to bring a little festive cheer to the shortening days and fallling temperatures and to chart that rollercoaster of feelings (eg. excitement, dismay and the somewhere in between) that relate to any impending time of Yule. 

I may even try a little earlybird planning to get on Santa's 'nice' list...


ps...you should also know that the Lil Chicky Birthday Countdown is also underway...only 23 sleeps to go Chicky!!!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Amazon...Delivering The Ultimate Thrill

I mentioned in a previous post that I'd been wondering what to spend some of my birthday money on and that I'd decided to invest in The Midlife Manual (plus a fab cookbook, but more about that later) via that portal of all things useful and wonderful, Amazon.co.uk.

Before I came to the UK, I was oblivious to the behemoth that is Amazon and it was only when I got the way the whole Wish List thing worked (and saw some of the terrifyingly large numbers on postage stickers from Australia) that I started to fall for its charms. It is quite simply the place to find everything...and collect a few Nectar points along the way (when one remembers to use their card!) and the Wish List is definitely the way to manage the tyranny of long distance gifting.

So on Thursday, Reception called to let me know that an Amazon parcel had been delivered for me.  I could not wait to get downstairs and I gleefully tore the cardboard strip down the package to reveal two books that:

a) I'd ordered online 6 days earlier; and
b) knew were coming because I'd received an email to say they had been despatched the day before.

No surprises.  No special gifts.  Just exactly what I'd ordered.

The voice in my head (you know, the one in sensible shoes) tutted softly in the background at my impatient voracity in tearing the package open right there in Reception, while the other voice (the one in the ridiculously fabulous stilettos), purred contentedly as I entered the lift again, cradling The Midlife Manual and Fast, Fresh and Green possessively to my chest.

What is it about receiving an Amazon parcel that provokes such unadulterated joy and pleasure?

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Standing Room Only...

One of the things that really struck me in moving over here was the whole low cost travel thing - you know the pay £20 to fight the hoards to get to a(n unallocated) seat only to find no room in the overhead compartments and a simply foul cup of coffee costs you an arm and a leg.

Bloody bonkas, I remember thinking, who would actually do this?

It would seem quite a lot (including me on the odd occasion). 

But I've seen everything now...

Called The Skyrider, one literally 'saddles up' for the duration of their inflight tenancy and enjoys just 23 inches of legroom - 7 inches LESS legroom than the average aircraft seat offers. That's shorter than 2 normal-sized rulers!

And apparently there's storage space....baaahaahaaa!

But I laughed the loudest at the quote from the manufacturer, Avio Interiors Group:


The seat...is like a saddle.  Cowboys ride eight hours on their horses during the day and still feel comfortable in the saddle.

Yeah right! I usually leave my chaps and spurs at home and anyway, have you seen the way those cowboys walk?

Here's what some others had to say...

Never say never...but really, would you pay for this?

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Have Your Two Cents Worth...

I've been thinking about updating my look for a while now so in honour of yesterday's 150th post, I've decided to give Gidday from the UK a bit of a makeover.

I really like the general look of this new template but have crashed and burned seriously on the getting the followers and networked blogs widgets happening and am not fond of the way that this template puts some things in CAPS so fingers crossed that I can get these sorted out!

I am also exploring some other interesting things to put in the margins.  (I have a feeling that margins is a distinctly un-blogg-y term so once you have stopped sniggering and being 'too cool for school' feel free to go right ahead and enlighten me as to what these side bits are called!)  So I am creating this unprecedented opportunity for my erstwhile Peanut Gallery to chuck their two cents worth in with:

  • Any good ideas you've seen?
  • Anything you'd particularly like to see?

Can't promise it'll turn up, blogger neophyte as I am, but I'll have a crack at it...promise!

Also, please be patient if things move around a bit while I play around and basically work out how to get things looking their best...


 

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A Blogger's Journey...

I've been blogging now for a couple of years (in fact this is post 150 - hurrah!)  It was a slow start as I wondered what on earth to write about and would anybody read it anyway.  But under the guise of sharing everyday thoughts and moments with my family and friends across the other side of the world, I set off...

Along the way, I've checked out a whole lot of blogs. I've followed some. Some remain on the list. Others have fallen by the wayside as I learnt what I loved to dip into each day (during my commute) or each week (when I have more time to ponder a post's particular point of view or wallow in it's sheer wit/wisdom).  As a result of my last post, I've even learned about The Archers (thanks to matthew_in_ham).

I've had 'were we separated at birth?' moments with fellow expats bloggers (Marmite and Fluff's Sarcasm for Sale produced one of these).  I think there's an unerring poignancy and recognition between people who've chosen a life away from family and childhood friends and as a result, I feel like I have a small but growing fellowship of like-minded souls.

I've even been interviewed on expat blog Seen The Elephant

Over the last little while, I've been been exploring this whole blogging community thing and have linked my blog to Networked Blogs on Facebook and a site called Expat Blogs.  It's opened up a whole world of other topics to have my say about.

My most recent discovery is a site called Seeded Buzz and I've just been dipping my first tentative toe into the water.  And I found a great post 'What has blogging taught you?' that inspired this one...

So what has blogging taught me?

...that the world is a big place...

...that there's something for everyone in it...

...that everyone loves an audience...

And that I love it!

So thanks to all of you who, through your fan-dom/ follower status/ comments/ secretly-reading-and-resisting-any-public-declaration-of-this, make up the Gidday from the UK peanut gallery and give me an audience. 

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Commuting Gems...The Midlife Manual...

Each weekend I buy the Saturday Times newspaper and each Monday I pack The Times Magazine into my handbag to while away my trip to work.  Reading is one of the true joys of commuting (vs driving) for me and I tend to move from magazines to books and back again (alongside my daily topup of free news and views in the Metro) as the week progresses.  Anyway, sometimes I find some gems...and it wasn't until last night's journey home that I dug out last weekend's magazine and read an extract from the book billed to be 'the funniest of the year', The Midlife Manual.

Having only just turned 41, I have not really considered myself to be mid-life (although in a purely literal and slightly morbid sense, 82 is not a bad innings).  And admittedly I didn't say 'Yes' to many of the statements in the opening questionnaire although 14. (Tired. Just really, really tired.) and 16. (And angry. Christ, where does that anger come from? Why did no one prepare you for it.) struck a bit of a chord.  But it was turning the page and reading the following list that had me nodding in vigorous agreement:

Things that pass for excitement these days

A double espresso
Amen to that - the ONLY way to end a great meal!

A new organic cafe opening on your high street
Is there really? I didn't hear about it. Oh no there's not? Well we definitely need one!

The arrival of the new Boden catalogue
And the discount vouchers contained therein.

Finishing Wolf Hall
I read the back cover of someone else's copy at work and I'm REALLY interested in reading this. Does this mean I am on the threshold rather than in the thick of mid-life?

A bountiful tomato harvest from your grow bag
Remember my 'news from the patch' exploits last year? Those tomatoes were so beautifully  sweet.

Ordering dessert
Another amen to that most holy of trios - cheesecake, pecan pie and tiramisu.

Successful erection of flat-pack furniture
Given that I have been doing this since my 20s, does this mean I was old before my time? Erk!

Being out in town after 11.30pm
...in the middle of winter and marvelling at the hordes of 'young people' wandering around wearing 'not very much'...it makes me feel colder/older just looking at them.

Finding out someone famous has moved in across the street from you
Rick Astley lives in the next street - does he still count as famous?

The fact there's an Argos iPhone app
I hate Argos.  Hate them, hate them, hate them (see earlier reference to anger). It's a long story from more than 5 years ago.  And I'm still hanging on to it.

Losing 2lb
The only upside in morning after hangovers (when did these get so hard?) and illness.  Water retention is such a curse!

Cupcakes
So sweet and pretty at first, like a 6 year old girl's birthday party. 
The cleanup afterwards though?  Not so great...lifetime on the hips and all that.

Beating a younger colleague at squash
I haven't done this - does that mean I am not yet mid-life (aka desparately clutching at straws)?

A racy storyline in the Archers
What is Archers please?

The first of the season's asparagus in your vegbox
Bless them - so tender and just perfect in a spring risotto.

Buggar me (in the Australian sense please!).  When did this happen?  And given I've ticked off most of these exciting things, I am now starting to wonder what's left...so I'm off before stocks run out - you can buy The Midlife Manual on Amazon too if you want...but stand in line, ok?  I got here first!

Note to JF:  I think this will be the best use of birthday Amazon voucher!  Thanks mate x