31 December 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... in 2008. How weird.
... reading 'The Da Vinci Code' by Dan Brown
... trying to find time to review 'Thank God it's Monday'
... working as of Wednesday :(
... having a sore throat if today's anything to go by
... making New Years Resolutions

I love that scrolling blog thing!!

I just love that little scrolling thing on the blogger.com home page that shows what blogs have just been updated, you can find some really random stuff that way - I've just discovered a blog from a fellow knitter through it! I've added it to my links (Yarn Jezebel) mainly to remind myself to have little look from time to time but feel free to look yourself!

This Year I have mostly been ...

... buying our first house - and loving it!
... jobhunting (not too successfully)
... mastering the art of crochet
... resurrecting my blog!
... trying to be good and green
... putting on weight (I know I lost a lot but I think over the year I probably put a lot more on, cumulatively speaking)
... learning to sing (ongoing process, probably will take another 70 years!)
... shopping in Next and charity shops
... reading books given as gifts - maybe next year I'll get round to borrowing them from the library!
... feeling cold and damp (think that sums up 2007 well!)

Let's see what 2008 consists of! Happy New Year to anyone who reads this!!

24 December 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS! Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this!

17 December 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... relaxing a little now that the bulk of my Christmas shopping is done
... tidying, cleaning and preparing for the mini-party that was postponed from yesterday to next weekend
... reading 'Thank God it's Monday' by Mark Greene
... working less. I have today off, plus tomorrow morning and Friday afternoon, yippee!
... watching a group of burly teenagers fling themselves about on a bouncy castle
... praying that we won't have to call an ambulance for said burly teenagers!
... buying last-minute pressies, food and ingredients for a Moroccan vegetable nut roast (my veggie turkey alternative, yum!)
... listening to Christmas songs
... feeling festive!

11 December 2007

200 word review: 'The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde' by Joseph Pearce

I was given ‘The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde’ at a time when I was developing an appreciation for his theatre work. I was fascinated by him, but just wasn’t interested in non-fiction at that stage. Now I’m older, with a longer attention span, I thought I’d have a read of this book. It’s slow to start but once I got past Wilde’s marriage it got into its stride.

For the first few chapters, I felt that Pearce was getting bogged down in detail; I understand the importance of discussing the work of Wilde’s influences and peers but at the end of the day readers will be more interested in Wilde than a bunch of authors nobody has heard of. Equally, I found Pearce’s lengthy refutation of other biographers’ claims that Wilde contracted syphilis a little off-focus and even self-indulgent. The biography is good – he doesn’t need to prove himself by discrediting other works!

That said, in later chapters Pearce really engages with the tragedy of Wilde’s life, especially drawing on his troubled walk of faith, and brings to life the struggles of this brilliant but confused man. A great read for Wilde fans; just persevere through the first few chapters!

10 December 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... doing panicked last minute shopping
... going back to work tomorrow having been off since Wednesday - boo hoo
... going to Leeds German market and thinking that Lincoln Christmas Market is 100 times better
... finishing 'The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde', picking out a new book and maybe getting round to posting a review!
... eating nuts
... drinking warm things, especially tea and hot Ribena

09 December 2007

Generous Journal: Seasonal Generosity

Well, Christmas is approaching and there a whole category on the Generous website given over to seasonal actions. I thought I'd go through them here and see which ones I think I should/could do:

  • Make your own greetings cards - now, I would do this, but we still have two bumper bargain boxes of cards to finish (does that make us sound cheap?!) I'm not really a card-giving type, and do think it's a waste of paper, but I know not everyone does so give cards anyway. I think next year I might have a stab at making them though.
  • Give a 'Just' gift at Christmas - I do try to find fairtrade goods for gifts, and have my eye on some Oxfam Unwrapped pressies, so I'll sign up for this one. It does feel cheeky giving money to charity then saying 'here's your present!' but my workmates did a similar thing for my birthday this year and it's the best birthday present I've had, so I'm going to do the same.
  • Christmas boxes for children - aargh, something I always mean to do but am never organised enough and now it's too late, the collection's been done at my church. The idea is to fill a shoebox full of gifts for a child in a Third World country. Really wish I'd got my act together and done it this year, maybe next year.
  • Resist over-consumption this Christmas - most of the suggestions in this action revolve around buying fewer presents, e.g. only buy for kids, Secret Santa and the like. Sorry, but isn't the idea of buying less for loved ones a little ungenerous??
  • Sort your Christmas gifts and see what you can pass on to someone else - again, seems a bit mean. Someone has been kind enough to give me a present and I just get rid? Although have to admit that sometimes, after a few months, I do decide to put unwanted gifts in the charity bag. But doing it in such a calculated way just seems ungrateful!!
  • Have a fair trade, ethical celerbation dinner - well, this one's out because we're having dinner at hubby's parents. But I will look into this in a few years time when we can't get away with scrounging off the folks any more!!
  • Pick n Mix ... Generous Christmas! - this involves doing four seasonal actions. Hmm, doesn't look like I'm going to get close, does it?
  • 'Buy a 'Crisis' Christmas pud and feed the homeless - again, I'm not the one buying the pud, or even cooking it, so this is out.
  • Give up something this Christmas - this involves giving up a treat for a month and giving the money saved to charity. Good idea, but my only real treats are chocolate and biscuits, which we'd buy anyway because of hubby's inordinately sweet tooth, and the thought of Christmas without chocolate or biscuits is rather depressing. So I'm going to have to wimp out on this count.
  • Give a life-changing book this Christmas - this action suggests giving someone the book '100 ways to make poverty history' by John Madeley. Hmm. Not only am I a little uncomfortable with being preachy with my nearest and dearest, I don't feel like I should give this book until I've read it myself, and I've only just heard of it!!
Sigh, I'm such a Scrooge, all those actions and I only sign up for one!! Maybe I'll do more next year.  In my defence, though, I will be saving as much paper as possible for re-use and may also use this year's received cards to make card to give next year.

Any other suggestions for how to make my Christmas more generous are very welcome!

03 December 2007

Theatre review: Peter and the Wolf

I occasionally do theatre reviews for a website and did one on 'Peter and the Wolf' (an Opera North project) last week. If you're interested, here's the link:



This Week I will mostly be ...

... still reading 'The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde'
... recovering from a cold
... going to see my mummy and going round Lincoln Christmas Market
... drinking plenty of fluids (part of the cold recovery programme)
... eating home-made caramel shortbread, yum!
... watching hubby fly around in a rally car (and praying he finishes in one piece!!)

26 November 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... reading 'The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde'
... going to see 'Peter and the Wolf' on Thursday
... eating. Just eating. I need insulation!!
... worrying about how few presents I've bought
... drinking warm drinks, particularly tea, hot squash and echinacea and cranberry tea (yucky but good for colds)

19 November 2007

The 200-word review: 'The Family Way' by Tony Parsons

As a typical married twentysomething female I am practically obsessed with children, and so naturally I was drawn to The Family Way. I was slightly cynical about a book dealing with motherhood written by a man, but that only intrigued me more. I quickly found that this isn’t just about motherhood; it’s about family and all the issues that come with it.

If you’re looking for a fluffy, cooing view of parenthood, this isn’t it. Parsons deals with the good, bad and ugly of family life – the story revolves around three girls abandoned by their mother as children, and their own complications as adults. There’s the infertile couple, the unintentional single mother and the woman convincing herself that her partner’s vasectomy is not a problem. Throw in endometriosis, pre-eclampsia and Caesareans, and there’s really not much else to discuss. Parsons portrays the female perspective surprisingly well, but also shows us the views of the men, so often left silent in works and debates about parenthood and family.

This book isn’t a literary classic, but it isn’t soppy pulp fiction either. It drifts between heart-warming sentimentality and gut-wrenching honesty, much like family life, I suppose. A must-read for other broody twentysomethings!

Generous Journal: Crisis!

Ok, I've been using the time excuse for too long - the reason for the lack of Generous Journal entries is that I'm in a massive rut. Yes, I am now adept at avoiding the dreaded plastic carrier bag. Yes, I am being careful not to waste water, electricity or any other resource. And yes, as ever, I'm still trying to shop ethically, be it Fairtrade goods, charity shop items or local produce. But now I'm stuck.

I have two choices: continue to develop my eco-warrior status or branch out into other forms of generosity. But I'm stumped for ideas either way. I don't want to focus on just one issue, but the thing about being green is that it is easier to think of things to do. Living ethically, supporting local people, general kindness - it's actually harder for me to know what to do in these areas.

My problem is I do things blindly, not really learning why it's so important. When talking about Fairtrade recently, a work colleague who had worked in parts of Africa told me that the Fairtrade movement is actually damaging the African economy and described it as 'a moral salve for the middle classes.' I wasn't won over by her arguments and wanted badly to argue back but I realised I didn't know as much about Fairtrade as I thought. I believe it is a good thing, but had no evidence to back this up when faced with her real life experience.

Basically, I'm having a generous crisis. I feel like I know nothing of the real issues behind my actions and could easily be doing more harm than good. But I've got so much to learn, where do I start?

This Week I will mostly be ...

... catching up on blogging!
... reading 'The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde'
... picking out Christmas presents
... eating rubbish because it's winter and I need the insulation
... wrapping up warm
... trying to plan interlogue for youth club before Thursday

13 November 2007


Just looked at my last few posts - why have I only had time for This Week posts? What is eating up my time so? Not even a Generous Journal entry in weeks! I suspect it is my evil job, for which I greatly apologise. But hey, if you want more posts - get me a better job!!

This Week I will mostly be ...

... not blogging. Work have banned us from personal internet use altogether (even in lunch hours) and I'm not in most evenings
... reading 'The Unmasking of Oscar Wilde' by Joseph Pearce
... trying to squeeze in reviewing 'The Family Way'
... sulking that three people leave work this week and they all started after me
... going to Meadowhall at the weekend
... longing for Friday

05 November 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... reading 'The Family Way'
... eating pomegranates (yum!)
... suffering from headaches again
... trying to get back into knitting
... Christmas shopping (yeah right!!)

02 November 2007

This Week I have mostly been ...

... Totally out of synch, sorry
... Reading 'The Family Way' by Tony Parsons
... eating chocolate and other comfort food
... suffering from fewer headaches since I got my new glasses
... waiting for a call that never came
... enjoying my new bathroom
... not knitting. Been too down to knit

28 October 2007

Generous Journal: Generous stuff I've done in the last fortnight

  • Bought 'The Big Issue In The North'
  • Bought from a charity shop - a black long-sleeved top for work
  • Avoided using carrier bags in a two-hour shopping stint yesterday (much to the annoyance of some shop assistants) and in the weekly shop today
  • Bought an organic cotton hoodie from Next - hopefully if enough peple choose to buy from that range they'll expand it
  • Bagged up an old mobile phone for donation - alas, haven't got round to positing it off yet ...
  • Started a new charity collection bag (currently containing 'Don Quixote' and a pair of shoes that I've accepted are un-wear-in-able)
Hmm, I kind of feel like a lot of the 'generous' things I do are a bit middle-class and money-orientated, can't help but feel like I could do more and I'm getting complacent. Could do with some inspiration really ... if anyone reads this and has such inspiration, feel free to comment, I like to be challenged!

24 October 2007

The 200-word review: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (trans. Edith Grossman)

Don Quixote is called the first modern novel, and many say it’s one of the greatest. I think many are saying that just to sound intelligent and hoping that nobody reads it. In its time it may have been great, but to my modern mind, this book is boring, repetitive and ludicrously long. A parody on chivalric novels, it could have achieved its ends in 100 pages rather than 940.

Don Quixote is a man who’s read too many chivalric novels and thinks he’s a knight errant. He appoints the village idiot, Sancho Panza, as his squire and goes in search of adventures. Most of these adventures feature increasingly beautiful blonde women and revolve around supposedly amusing incidences of mistaken identity, with Quixote believing inns are castles, windmills are giants and the aforementioned beautiful blondes are exotic princesses. None of the adventures are connected and the whole story is so disjointed I would often get to the end of a chapter wondering if there was any point in me reading it since it had no relevance. The second part, published twenty years after the first, is more cohesive and interesting, but it’s still not worth three months of my life!

23 October 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... hoping my new bathroom is finished soon so I can wash and pee and stuff
... feeling jealous that hubby is off work and I'm not
... buying new trousers (another pair bit the dust this weekend, not good)
... enjoying my Friday night off from youth club
... sulking that my job has made my eyes worse again but they still won't pay for my eye test

16 October 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... wishing I'd never started 'Don Quixote' as I'm still reading it!
... getting more headaches
... knitting more cupcakes
... arguing with hubby about whether they are cupcakes or buns
... looking forward to my new bathroom that's coming next week, woohoo!

14 October 2007

Generous Journal: Contradictions

There's an action on the Generous website called 'Try to shop local, organic, animal-friendly and Fairtrade.' I've not signed up yet as I've been trouble by a contradiction in this. We are encouraged to buy local foods to cut down on foodmiles, right? But then we're also encouraged to buy Fairtrade products, which by nature have a pretty high mileage. So what do I do? Eat bananas that are Fairtrade and thus support this system for reducing poverty and promoting economic equality in the third world, or do I buy local apples to cut down on carbon emissions and support local people? There's also the issue that few greengrocers stock Fairtrade fruit, which means I have to go to a supermarket.

This has got me thinking about other contradictions you can come across in trying to be generous. Here are a few:

* Voluntary Service Overseas is very laudible and hugely generous for obvious reasons. But how can you do it if, for instance, you've signed a flight pledge to say that, to reduce carbon emissions, you won't travel abroad by air?
* You go to the library to ensure that this valuable institution doesn't become obsolete, and also to reduce the number of books you buy and thus the amount of paper being used up. But what does this do to local bookshops, many of which are already struggling?
* Ethical banking is an area I looked into until I heard that certain well-known ethical banks rate pretty badly when it comes to looking after their staff. Should I go for a bank that may lend to dubious figures but treats its staff well, or one that treats its staff badly but won't use your money to fund the arms trade or other nasty stuff?

You see, I can recycle, turn the tap off when I'm brushing my teeth and be careful not to overfill my kettle, but go deeper and there are big questions that need answering. I'm not giving up, I'm just pausing for thought!

09 October 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... reading 'Don Quixote' STILL! Will I ever finish??
... suffering from headaches STILL!
... knitting more cupcakes
... singing random 70's songs
... watching 'Bringing Up Baby' tonight and getting all broody
... sleeping. Or attempting to.

04 October 2007

Ten Things I Hate about Christmas

1. The build-up - it's just October and Christmas stuff has been in the shops for weeks already. Who devotes three months of their life to Christmas preparations? Other than Santa of course
2. Family politics - when I was single and living at home it was so easy: Christmas dinner with Mum, go to see Dad in the evening, then see the extended family on Boxing Day. Now I have a husband and in-laws to consider too, and there's the juggling act of making sure me and my brothers will actually cross paths at some point. Arrgh!
3. Over-indulgence - we've all been there. It's the culinary climax of the year, you can't possibly refuse seconds. But then you end up watching repeats of 'The Two Ronnies' because you're too full even to lift the remote. Which brings me to ...
4. Rubbish Christmas TV - there's always a ridiculous soap wedding, a deluge of sitcom episodes even worse than usual, and then the obligatory films that everyone's heard of but nobody has ever actually managed to sit through
5. Novelty Christmas songs - Now let's get this straight, I'm not talking about Slade, Wizzard or any other Christmas-themed musical gems. I'm talking about the plethora of dreadful 'songs' (often covers) by cartoon characters or reality TV rejects. No time of year excuses that!!
6. Shopping for boys - Fact: Boys are horrible to shop for. Not only do I have a father and a husband, I have two brothers who also both have their birthdays around Christmas. That's six presents. Any inspiration? Otherwise they're all getting socks!!
7. The last day at work - the boss has said that you can go as soon as all the work is done. Which means everyone runs round like headless chickens, shouting at anyone who dares take a ten-minute lunch break and it takes you another hour to wind down from the stress anyway!!
8. Emotional blackmail - shops give you Christmas catalogues which convince you that you must buy everybody a gift, be it your family, your distant work colleagues, or even your pets! Sorry to break this to you, but even if you get him a little doggy Santa jacket, Rover still won't know that it's Christmas, or what Christmas even means!!
9. Christmas cards - I'm not really a card person. I just don't get it. You give someone
a card, they give you one back, ad infinitum. Wouldn't it be easier and less wasteful to just say "Merry Christmas!" and have done with it? Plus there's always that card you get on the last post day before Christmas from someone you've forgotten to send one to ...
10. The aftermath - at some point you must leave Christmas world and deal with the fairly useless food leftovers, the masses of wrapping paper, the presents you don't really want, need or have space for, and the fact that Christmas is basically the end of the year. Yes, another year has gone by, you've failed in your resolutions, you've gone nowhere in your career, it's cold and dark .... pass me those last chocolates!!

01 October 2007

This week I will mostly be ...

... reading 'Don Quixote' - still!!!
... suffering from headaches
... eating chocolate and drinking tea to allay said headaches (because ibuprofen doesn't work)
... perfecting the novelty cupcake pincushion
... watching 'Friends' repeats
... feeling cold and miserable that the year's nearly over

30 September 2007

Getting creative!

Here's a guilty pleasure of mine ... yes, I'm 23, I should be out partying, but I much prefer a bit of knitting and crochet! Here's a couple of my recent creations:

This is a shawl I made for my Mum for her birthday (although I liked it so much she almost didn't get it!) It's a crochet piece, and I got the pattern from 'Stich and Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker' by Debbie Stoller. It took me a couple of months but is probably the most beautiful thing I've made so far, so was definitely worth it.

This is a novelty pincushion, based on the pattern in 'One Skein' by Leigh Radford, but adapted to suit the yarns I have. I made this because I saw some knitted cupcake pincushions in Elle magazine priced at £12.50. I thought that was pretty stupid, since I know for a fact you could make them for under £1 each. This is the first I've made and needs a few adjustments, but I'm planning to make some to sell as quirky Christmas gifts - just need to perfect the pattern!


I got a hit from India this week - with no referring link! I know nobody in India so if you were that person, please leave a comment to say how you found me!!

Generous Journal: How to save a life

I've mentioned before in my journal that I started giving blood earlier this year. I gave my second donation on Tuesday so thought I'd write a little bit about it.

Giving money to charity is great, but money can't buy this resource - it's a different way of being generous, one that can directly save lives. One thing that really encouraged me is finding out I'm O rhesus positive, which can be used for anyone with a positive blood group - over 80% of people. My blood is pretty much guaranteed to be used to help  someone when they most need help. It doesn't take that long (was home within the hour on Tuesday) and isn't that painful.

If you're thinking of giving blood, here's a few tips:
* Don't be scared about the health checklist - this is a list of yes/no questions. I was really worried about putting yes for things like going to the doctor, but they're very understanding and in most situations can still accept your blood
* Eat plenty before - a mistake I made this time around which resulted in me going a bit dizzy after donating. I go straight from work so next time I'll take an extra sandwich to have on the train
* Drink loads - it helps replace the blood
* Be prepared to eat loads the next day - both times I've been absolutely ravenous the next day!
* Don't be scared of using your arm afterwards - it'll be sore but using it gently will help to reduce that. Just don't go weightlifting!

I really recommend giving blood if you're able - I was scared of it for years as I'm really squeamish, but it's really not that bad, promise!


Not been blogging much recently and for that I do apologise. Work's been very stressful so I've just been too tired to blog ... Will do better in future, promise!

24 September 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... Out of synch with my posts!
... reading 'Don Quixote' (halfway through now!)
... trying to decide what to make next
... comfort eating
... staying indoors if this horrible weather carries on

19 September 2007

Generous Journal: Why I like to Bag It Up!!

If you read my earlier journal entries you'll know that I've been trying to stop taking plastic carrier bags from shops. But why is this? Well, I'll let my new bag from Oxfam answer that question ...

Nuff said!

The 'bit wet' effect

I mentioned the 'bit wet effect' in my big rant on commuting. Here's some evidence. I left the house this morning and it was raining. By the time I got to the station it had pretty much stopped. However, trains were delayed by at least 20 minutes due to two train failures. Coincidence? I don't think so!!

17 September 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... reading 'Don Quixote' still
... sulking still (job no better)
... wishing my big brother luck in his first week of uni
... wishing my Mum a happy birthday on Wednesday and seeing her at the weekend (yay!)
... finishing a top-secret crochet project
... getting round to doing my Gernerous journal (was ill yesterday)

10 September 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... oh I don't know, probably sulking at the rubbishness of my life at the moment

09 September 2007

New link!

Check out the new link to 'Overheard Lines' I've put on the blog, this is one of the funniest blogs I've seen!

Generous Journal: Why I love volunteering

This week I lost my Friday nights again. I had six weeks over the summer of being able to go for a drink with my workmates, or stay in and watching Friday night TV. But now all that's come to an end. And the weird thing is I'm really glad about it!

So why have I lost my Friday nights? Well, during term time I help run the senior youth club at my church. We are open to children aged 14 or over, and have about 15-20 young people, mostly boys, who come along, play football or pool, or just have a gossip. We ply them with sweets and sugary drinks, and halfways through the session we sit them down and do a little talk. The talks are usually to do with Christianity as it's a church organisation, but we also try to encourage them to live well even if they don't believe in God. All this takes up a couple of hours of my time excluding travel to and from.

It doesn't sound like much really. People often ask, 'So what do you do with the kids?' and seem a bit disappointed when I say we just let them do what they want (within reason). But when we're driving back from youth club just after 10pm on a Friday night, and I see groups of teenagers hanging around on the street, that's when I see that what I'm doing does have a benefit. Youth club is somewhere safe they can come to, hang around with their friends and let off steam at the end of the week. They're in no danger and they're also not out worrying the neighbourhood (because I think often the presence of groups of teenagers on the street is threatening to residents even if they're not doing any harm).

So by being generous with my time I can contribute to the lives of these young people. What's more I enjoy it. Yeah, my workmates might be at the pub having a laugh, but the kids at youth club can be much funnier without the aid of alcohol! They're a great group, and never fail to make me smile. Plus our tuck shop is so cheap I can stock up on chocolate for the rest of the week!

So that's why I love volunteering. In fact, I feel more satisfied by those two hours on a Friday night than by a whole week at work!

03 September 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... accepting that I won't have the willpower to diet until I'm over the 10 stone mark anyway so I may as well pig out
... reading 'Don Quixote'
... crocheting like the wind having lost a week due to wrist injury
... wishing hubby luck for his first week back at school (as a teacher, that is, I'm not married to a schoolchild!!)
... drinking tea. Because it's great
... mourning the passing of the summer, even if it was horrendous

02 September 2007

Ten things I hate about Leeds

To mark my second anniversary of living in Leeds!!

1. The lingo - If you ask for a bun in a tearoom, you'll get a cupcake. Ask for directions and you might get directed down a ginnel or snicket. A pretty baby is a bonny babby. And you're not treated well, you're 'tretten' well. Eh?
2. The accent - Now I'm very aware that my regular readers have Leeds accents and I should point out that some of the strains of the Leeds accent are quite nice to listen to. But go to some parts of Leeds (I daren't mention which) and my word, it's like listening to nails scraping a blackboard!
3. The architecture - There are parts of Leeds that are beautiful. But go to the city centre and you'll see beautiful old buildings squashed between ugly 1980's office blocks, and there are so many 'funky' new apartment towers going up that soon all that glass will be necessary to create any semblance of natural light!
4. The size - I'm from Lincoln, which is a nice compact little city. Leeds however is ridiculously sprawling. The big disadvantage being that when you end up only seeing your friends at work or wherever else you met them because they live so far away that to pop round for a cuppa would mean about an hour's journey!
5. Kirkstall Road - otherwise known in our office as 'Kirkstall f***ing Road' (but of course I'm too polite to say that), when trains are down you can very easily spend at least an hour crawling along this betarmacced hell in a bus. And what have they done to help matters? Put one of the shortest and most pointless bus lanes on one of the quietest bits of the road!!
6. Train travel - I think I've covered that one before!
7. House prices - I recently read an article in the 'Lincolnshire Echo' my Mum gave me which was ranting about how average house prices in Lincoln are now a whopping £135,000. My goodness, if only!!! In February the average house price in Leeds was £167,485. Unless you're prepared to live somewhere rather dubious, you don't get much for your money up here.
8. The Loop - the name for the city centre's one way system. I'm not even a driver, but when hubby's desperately trying to escape the centre I do find myself thinking 'surely there was a more straightforward way of solving congestion problems?'
9. Hills - my legs were raised in one of the flattest counties in Britain. They are certainly not designed to climb practically vertical inclines just to get home in the evening.
10. The fact that, try as I might and in spite of the above, I actually secretly love Leeds. Don't tell anyone.

Generous Journal: Why green is generous

Now, you may have noticed from previous Generous Journal entries that a lot of my actions are to do with the environment. I'd started to worry about this because, while it's a good thing to be eco-friendly, can it really be classed as generous in the true meaning of the word? According to dictionary.com, 'generous' means:

1. liberal in giving or sharing; unselfish: a generous patron of the arts; a generous gift.
2. free from meanness or smallness of mind or character; magnanimous.
3. large; abundant; ample: a generous portion of pie.
4. rich or strong in flavor: a generous wine.
5. fertile; prolific: generous soil.

Now the first two definitions are what spring to mind for me. But what has that got to do with being green?

Well, on Thursday I went to a screening of Al Gore's documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth.' I really recommend it - it explains the science behind climate change and the effects of carbon really clearly. One thing Gore talks about in the documentary is that parts of Greenland and Antarctica are starting to melt. He said that if half of Greenland and half of West Antarctica were to melt (which is apparently a real possibility) this would cause flooding across all continents and displace 10 million people. Scary, isn't it?

This was what made me see that being green really is generous. How can I justify abusing the earth's resources at the expense of 10 million people? Do I really want my children and grandchildren to live in a world where the climate is out of control so that I can live more comfortably now? By making sure I keep my carbon footprint as small as possible now, I am going a tiny way towards making sure that the earth is shared properly and unselfishly; I am looking beyond my little world and being less small-minded.

I am going to try to do more generous stuff that's not related to the environment, but Thursday renewed my interest in being green and made me see that by doing so, I can be generous to everyone in the world, now and in the future. Which is a pretty cool thought!

28 August 2007

This week I will mostly be ...

... reading 'Don Quixote'
... dieting again :(
... enjoying my last free Friday for a while
... hoping my sore wrist recovers soon becuse the one-handed life is not for me
... preparing to go back to doing the washing up again once hubby is back at school

26 August 2007

250 word review: 'Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure' by Dave Gorman

I watched the DVD of this story before I read the book, and at first I was a bit worried because it seemed to be an almost direct transcript of the live stand-up show. However, if you’ve seen the show, this book is great for filling in the gaps, although the comedy doesn’t always come through quite as well as on the DVD.

The story is too complicated to summarise: let’s just say that instead of Dave Gorman growing up and writing a novel, he’s travelling the world meeting strangers. Anyone who read ‘Are You Dave Gorman?’ may think this is just a rehash of that caper, but the humour in this is far different despite the similarity of content. It has some surprisingly dark moments and is written with a lot of emotion, which seems unusual for a comedy book. I genuinely felt worried for him; this wasn’t an adventure he was doing with the idea of making money or furthering his career, in fact it’s the total opposite. Reading it feels akin to watching a car crash, but strangely enough it still manages to be funny and fascinating. He meets some bizarre people on his journey and a lot of the interest lies in his reactions towards them.

It’s a hard book to review (can you tell?) but definitely a good one to read. Still, text on paper could never be as funny as the live show. So get both!!*

*No commission was earned on this review. Honest.

Generous Journal - why charity shops rock

OK I've been a bit slack recently - what with going on holiday I didn't do my journal for two Sundays running. Terrible! I've also been too shattered to blog this week, let alone do much generous stuff. (I did however sign up to a new action on the Generous website - Sign up online to become an organ donor, which I did when I was 13 but I've been on to change my details at long last!) So I thought I'd do a feature on one generous thing I love doing - charity shopping!!

To demonstrate why I love it, take a look at the picture above. OK it's a holiday snap and not great for showing off the clothes, but in it I am wearing a fantastically comfortable cardigan which I think was about £4 from Cancer Research UK in Otley, a cute Mickey Mouse t-shirt which was £2.99 from Cancer Research UK in Ilkley, a very flattering (if a bit big) pair of jeans which were £4 from Mind in Otley and a belt to hold them up (you can't see it but it's grey with sequins on) which was 99pm from Oxfam in Otley. The picture encapsulates the three reasons I love charity shops: it's cheap (less than £12 for an outfit in this case), it benefits charity (I've technically donated to three charities in this picture alone!) and it means you get things that are a bit different because they're not currently on the high street. Add in the fact that it's also a form of recycling, and I think that proves that charity shopping rocks!!

If you're not convinced from the fashion point of view, check out my friend Fi's blog because she's a fellow charity shop addict but is far more stylish than me!!

20 August 2007

This week I will mostly be ...

... back at work (booooo)
... reading 'Don Quixote' (get used to it, this could take me til Christmas!!)
... finding time to post a review of 'Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure', a promotion for charity shop clothing and very possibly a big old rant about something or other (I feel it brewing!)
... looking forward to my former roomie Jo visiting this weekend
... taming the beast on my head (trans: getting a haircut)
... trying to eat healthily and exercise in a diet-avoidance plan having larded up good over my holiday

10 August 2007

Next week I will mostly be ...

... in Wales! So no posts for a while. Byeeeeeeeeeee!

08 August 2007

Jobs I've thought about doing so far this week

Cake decorator
Book shop owner
Craft shop owner
Knitting writer
Nurse (that one didn't last long)
Wedding planner
Cattery owner
Youth worker

Oh and I've also pondered doing an MA and having a baby earlier than planned! Anyone think I'm bored in my job?!

250 word review: 'Persuasion' by Jane Austen

Persuasion is one of Austen’s lesser known novels – everyone knows Lizzie Bennett, and most have heard of Emma Woodhouse and Margaret Dashwood. But what about Anne Elliot? I can see why this novel is less popular than others; it’s very difficult to get into and it takes a long time for anything in particular to happen. Nor is it a very well developed plot – a hint of intrigue fails to go anywhere and even the main love story is a bit rushed. Despite this, I loved it.

The plot is well suited to a modern chick-lit reader; Anne Elliot, past the first bloom of youth and unmarried, is brought into contact (through rambling circumstances) with Captain Wentworth, an old flame she was persuaded to abandon by her friend years before because he had no money. He’s now rich and still handsome, but resentful about the ‘break up’, so it looks like the flame has died. I read most of it wondering why Helen Fielding had chosen Pride and Prejudice as the model for Bridget Jones’s Diary when this story of an older singleton seems far more suited than that of some desirable teenager. It wasn’t until the end that I realised that The Edge of Reason is almost entirely based on Persuasion. Although at least poor Anne doesn’t get banged up in Thailand.

It’s not an easy read, but I’d recommend Persuasion for both lovers of the classics and of the chick-lit movement. Go on, try the original lit chick!

07 August 2007

Proof that it is a crazy world

I just read this news article:


The thing that really concerns me is this line: 'Dandy editor Craig Graham said: "Following extensive research, we discovered The Dandy readers were struggling to schedule a weekly comic into their hectic lives. They just didn't have enough time. "'

The Dandy readers? Aren't they about six years old? And they're already too busy?? What hope is there for the rest of us?!!!

06 August 2007

This week I will mostly be ...

... Reading 'Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure' and trying to find time to review 'Persuasion
... Watching programmes on the biggest TV I've ever owned (our old one went capput. The new one is truly enormous!)
... Exercising. Or at least thinking about it.
... Enjoying the last few days of being a colleague of the mighty Grievo
... Looking forward to my holiday in Wales with my family

Generous Journal 30/7/07 - 05/8/07

Not been particularly generous this week (other than avoiding carrier bags and recycling as usual) so I thought for this journal entry I'd reflect on the good things I already do without thinking about it. Let's see ...
- I drink only Fairtrade tea and eat only Fairtrade bananas. I'm also a huge fan of Divine and Green and Blacks chocolate
- I support public transport by taking the train to work
- I don't drive! While I know it's often necessary, cars do cause a lot of pollution so I decided it was best not to start driving until I really need to. It's a choice of ethics, not laziness, honest!
- I avoid holidays abroad. OK I went to Kefalonia last year, but that was my honeymoon! Planes = carbon emissions, so taking holidays in Britain is the greener option
- My husband and I give money to charity monthly
- I volunteer as a youth worker. I think this is very important as it gives the young people who come to our club on a Friday night a safe, dry, fairly warm place to meet up, so they're not out on the street worrying residents and putting themselves at risk
- I don't leave my phone charger plugged in when not in use. I do however overcharge my phone, need to work on that ...

So I was pretty generous already.But I always want to do better and be better, so hopefully I'll gradually add more habits to the list.

No journal next week as I'm off to Wales (see? No flights there!)

30 July 2007

This Week I shall mostly be ...

... recovering from Race for Life (not too achy!)
... trying to get 'Persuasion' finished - falling behind!
... hoping that now Rihanna is no longer number one the rain will STOP
... eating healthily ... occasionally ...
... going to Lincoln to wish my dad a happy birthday!
... counting the working days til I go on hols

29 July 2007

Generous Journal part ... something!

OK I've lost track of the 'parts' but on the plus side I've been pretty darn generous this week! Especially today when I participated in the Race for Life to raise money for Cancer Research UK (will post on that sometime this week) and donated three bags of stuff at the donation station - including a fair chunk of my 'Friends' video collection! Boohoo!

Other generous things I've done this week:
Bought fruit and vegetables from a local greengrocers
Started looking into ethical banking (or at least more ethical than my current bank!!)
Signed a petition to start charging tax on plastic bags - it's reduced use in Ireland by 90%
Bought a jigsaw from Oxfam - although I did also take a carrier bag from the over-eager shop assistant!!

Right, must keep this up for the next week ...

23 July 2007

This week I will mostly be ...

... Eating whatever I like in celebration of only putting a pound on since coming off the diet
... Reading 'Persuasion' still (finding it a bit hard to concentrate on!)
... Crocheting
... Sulking that hubby is off work
... Preparing for Race for Life on Sunday (unless it's rained off again!!)
... Jobhunting (still ...)

22 July 2007

Generous Journal part eight

Great news! Having requested a green bin back in April, it's finally arrived! (How ironic, some councils are charging to collect and reducing collection to encourage recycling, ours won't even give you the means to!) Anyway, now we can finally recycle again, hurrah!

In other generous news ... my attempts to have a generous day yesterday were, I believed, sabotaged by the hubby! We went to Otley, a nearby town with a good market and plenty of independent shops (in Guiseley there's not a great selection on account of the massive Morrison's in the centre of the town) and charity shops. We got veg from a greengrocers, fruit from a market stall because it looked nicer than the stuff in the greengrocers, and I got a belt, a cardigan and some work trousers from various charity shops.

BUT ... I'd managed to persuade hubby to go to an independent bookshop and pay out a bit more for his Harry Potter, but when we got there they were sold out. Not his fault, you say? Well, after other happenings, I'm suspicious. For instance while he went to the bucthers to get some bacon he asked me to go to Ainsley's to get bread. I was a bit confused but assumed there were no independent bakers around. Actually there are a few. As we walked on he suddenly said 'I suppose Ainsley's is a chain really.' Well, yeah!! Then, as I was buying my belt from Oxfam, hubby prodded me and pointed out some cheap knitting needles which I couldn't buy anyway as I don't know what sizes I need, and when I turned back the lady had put my belt in ... A PLASTIC BAG!!! NOOOOO! AND he bought Harry Potter from Morrisons for less than a fiver. Not happy.

My efforts to get someone to join Generous aren't going well, maybe because I'm rather shy of mentioning it ... I don't want to seem pushy or militant about it! Humph, must find a way of promoting the site without people thinking I'm scary ...

16 July 2007

This week I will mostly be

... Reading 'Persuasion' by Jane Austen
... Fending off the bout of sinusitis I can feel brewing in my skull
... Trying to get back into crocheting
... Making a list of jobs for hubby when he goes on summer hols next week
... Weighing myself to discover the damage caused by my post-diet bingeing
... Enjoying the last youth club for six weeks! Hurray!

15 July 2007

Generous Journal part seven

Victory on the bag front! Armed with my lovely flowery Next bag, I have confused shop assistants in Next (yes I am obsessed with that shop) and Boots this week by insisting they put my purchases in it. The girl in the Next shop actually asked if I wanted a carrier bag to put my bag in!?! I think she was very confused, bless her ...

Well, with 'Stop Taking Carrier Bags from Shops' on it's way to achievement, I've changed it's status from 'Currently focussing on' to 'still doing.' This means I can focus on another activity ... what shall it be? My two 'lapsed' actions are 'Perfect your Pasta' which I can't really focus on as I don't do the cooking (although hubby assures me that when he's not in a rush to get tea ready he does switch off the hob to let the pasta cook itself) and 'Get someone to join the Generous community.' Well, I managed to persuade hubby but that doesn't really count. If I can get just one more member then that would be good. So I've switched that to 'currently focussing on' and the pasta one to 'still doing' (even though technically hubby is doing that, not me). Now how to get a new recruit ...?

11 July 2007

250 word review: 'Shadowmancer' by GP Taylor

I got this book when it was first published because the Christian press went mad over it. Having finally read it, I can see why - it's so evangelistic, it borders on brainwashing! The story is about Thomas, an orphan living in a cave, his friend Kate who is abused at home and a mysterious African called Raphah, trying to find and protect a magical statue which bought by priest-turned -sorceror Demurral. They must overcome many hurdles and creatures to get hold of this statue and attempt to return it and Raphah to their homeland, as Demurral tries to overthrow God and take over the universe.

It’s a gripping story, full of the swordfights, monsters and magic you’d expect in a children’s novel. But not very far underneath it all it’s about the supremacy and love of God. Even as a Christian I found it rather heavy-handed. The statue is a Keruvim (cherubim), Raphah constantly talks of ‘Riathamus’ (Jesus), Thomas has a prophetic vision, and Bible verses are unsubtlely thrown in everywhere. I thought, “Well maybe it won’t be that obvious to a child,” but at points I knew I was kidding myself. I believe children should be taught about Christianity, but this book implies that it’s all about heroism, visions, supernatural fights and tangible closeness to God – which is a confusing and misleading message.

That said, this was a really good read, although the end was a bit rushed. But nobody knows how to end a book these days!

10 July 2007

Ten things I hate about my commute

1. Slow walkers - Picture the scene. You're running a little late. Your watch isn't very accurate so you don't know whether you'll catch the train. You speedwalk half a mile, turn into the narrow alleyway leading to the station and, oh, there's someone walking right in the middle, not allowing you past, at a frustratingly slow pace!

2. Day trippers on commuter trains - there they are in their jeans, planning their nice day out shopping, and saying 'oh look at all these people stood up, wouldn't you hate to do that every day?' Well there'd be fewer standing passengers if PEOPLE LIKE YOU WAITED UNTIL AFTER 9AM TO START SHOPPING!!!!

3. Seat hoggers - on my train, you get rows of three seats, facing each other. So what do you get? Two besuited middle-aged men in the window seats, two in the aisle seats, and two empty seats in between. And when they see more people coming on, do they move to allow you to sit easily in the aisle seat? No, you must push through the hard kneecaps if you dare to take a seat.

4. People having conversations really loudly on the train - I read on the train to and from work. It's my chance to escape from the fact that I'm either heading to a day of boredom or returning from one. So don't distract me from my escapism by talking about who walked into your hotel today!!

5. Annoying ringtones - Some I don't mind. But it's when it's a real tone of some awful song that only gets three bars in and gets stuck in your head for the rest of your day, and then is rammed home when the owner of such an irritating device keeps getting calls and hanging straight up. Just answer the phone and say, "Sorry I can't talk but there's a fellow commuter nearby who looks like she wants to kill me."

6. Unhelpful station announcements - "We are sorry to announce that the 0819 Northern service to Leeds is delayed." OK, well it's 0830 now, I'd spotted the delay, any idea when it'll bother to turn up?

7. Overexcited young people - One or two can be endearing. But when it's a gaggle of teenagers going to some school trip, and they think it's hilarious to shout 'tickets please' whenever the conductor passes through, now you're just taking the mick.

8. The 'bit wet' effect - OK fair enough, when the majority of Yorkshire was recently flooded, I could understand the cancellations. But surely we are a sophisticated enough nation to keep the trains running to schedule when it's just a normal amount of rain? Clearly not ...

9. Getting a bus - Usually linked to the 'bit wet' effect, which also makes buses run ridiculously slowly too. And you always, always end up sat near a smelly person.

10. Leeds station - I almost forgot, but it didn't entirely escape ... It's 8.40, I'm tired and probably a bit dizzy from being stood up or squashed between two businessmen, the last thing I need is to breathe in the stench from the various food outlets in Leeds station. Seriously, that smell can't come from anything edible. I'm never going near a Subway ever again.

09 July 2007

This week I will mostly be ...

... Eating what the heck I like!!
... Trying out Darcy Bussell's exercise book
... Finishing off 'Shadowmancer' and trying to choose another book
... Looking for jobs
... Sulking over my lack of Facebook at work

08 July 2007

Generous Journal part Six

I have victory! After trying to find a cheap bag that isn't from an evil shop (to find out which shops are evil, take a look at the Clean Up Fashion link on this blog) I gave up and went for a pricier option. It's from Next (my fave shop and quite ethical) and cost £8:

It's the bigger bag at the back. BUT two days later I was flicking through an old copy of Look magazine that my friend Fi (Shoegal) donated to me and discovered that accessorize are doing an even bigger and more ethical canvas shopper bag - at £5!! Unfortunately I can't find a picture to put on the blog, but I'm very annoyed at paying over the odds for the bag I did get! Oh well, I may just have to buy another bag, what a shame ... Anyway, the bag I did buy came in handy when yet again we forgot the big canvas bags we supposedly use when going to the supermarket, although we did take about three more carrier bags as a result of our forgetfulness.

On other generous news, I've signed up for another action - Put a Save-a-Flush device in your cistern - which will reduce the water used when we flush the loo. We've ordered said device from Yorkshire Water for free, and apparently lots of other water companies offer similar freebies, so if you're reading this, look into getting one yourself!! It's just a brick-type thing, nothing scary!

I also supported a loval library this week, well - I tried. Went to the local library on Saturday to get an exercise book only to find it shuts early on Saturdays. But hubby kindly got me some books from another library, so we supported one anyway!

So, pretty darn generous. I should keep this up!

02 July 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... Shifting that pesky last pound
... Trying to summon up the will to continue training for the postponed Race for Life
... Continuing to read 'Shadowmancer'
... hoping that our boiler is fixed soon so I can have a shower
... fantasising about all the foods I can eat next week if I finally finish my diet
... recovering from the start of a cold (I hope!)

01 July 2007

Generous Journal part five

I'm not doing very well on this ... the carrier bag boycott is proving more difficult than it sounds. I tried to find a decent sized tote bag to fold up and stick in my handbag when I go shopping but to no avail. What's worse, we went shopping yesterday and forgot our big canvas carrier, so had to take four carrier bags! Not very generous ... bag-finding efforts to be renewed this week.

Another matter foiling my generous efforts this week is the flipping weather. Today was supposed to be Race for Life day and I've raised loads of sponsorship money ... but because of the flooding earlier in the week and the forecast bad weather this weekend (which judging from my view from the living room window wasn't quite true) the race has been postponed to 29th July. This equally foils my plans to donate two bags full of books and clothes in the donation bins at the racetrack. I'm now not sure whether to hold onto these till the end of the month or to just find another charity shop.

Another matter of shame, linked to Race for Life ... I bought some rather hideous jogging bottoms from Asda yesterday, mainly because they were pink and white which was the 'colour scheme' of preference among my colleagues who are racing with me. However I've just been reading a report on Clean Up Fashion to say that Asda are among the worst clothing retailers for protecting their workers in other countries, particularly Bangladesh. I've not removed the tags from the said hideous item and will be returning them.

I think everyone should look at the Clean Up Fashion website to make an informed decision on where to shop - I am no longer going to shop for clothes in Primark, Asda, Tesco, Matalan or the Arcadia stores ever again having read this. So I am planning a bit of generosity by omission ... hmm, maybe a bit of active generosity is called for!!

26 June 2007

250 Word Review: 'Hearing Birds Fly' by Louisa Waugh

This book was a present from my brother I was was put off for ages by the subtitle ‘A Nomadic Year in Mongolia.’ I’m not the travelling type and previously couldn’t have pointed to Mongolia on a map. But surprisingly, I really got into Waugh’s account of her year as a teacher in Tsengel, a remote Western Mongolian village. It took a while, but her admission that she wasn’t the ‘roughing it’ type (like me!) made me warm to her.

The book balances Waugh’s personal story with the history of Mongolia and the people of the region well, and some of the facts I learned were very fascinating (although people I’ve told them to weren’t so interested – did you know Mongols drink tea with salt? Do you care? Didn’t think so!) It was humbling to hear how the people of Tsengel cope with barely any electricity, little money, terrible weather conditions and only bread and meat to eat. In a culture where we complain if there’s nothing on TV or the trains run late, reading the stories of real people who have next to nothing does make you value what you have. And these are real people, who go to discos, gossip in school canteens and fall in love. It’s so easy to forget these people exist, let alone have feelings.

I won’t be keeping this book to read again but I am glad I read it and would recommend to anyone, especially those interested in travel or Eastern Europe.

25 June 2007

Generous Journal part four

Oh dear, another vey ungenerous week! I keep forgetting to come out with carrier bags when I want to go shopping in my lunch hour, not good. Managed to acquire a WHSmiths and a Debenhams bag this week (the Debenhams bag is partly hubby's fault, we were shopping together). I also didn't give to or buy from any charity shops or buy a Big Issue. I'm sinking into a deep pit of wickedness and selfishness, deary me!

But this week I'm going to be good. If it'll stop raining I'll go out in my lunch and buy a tote bag to keep in my handbag for shopping, and I'm also doing Race for Life which is raising money for Cancer Research. But I've just realised I won't have much to write next week if I write everything now so I'll stop. There we are.

This week I will mostly be ...

... STILL dieting - I missed my target for the first time this week, noooo!
... trying to fit in jogging sessions
... sheltering from the rain
... reading 'Shadowmancer' and getting round to posting a review of 'Hearing Birds Fly'
... Racing for Life on Sunday!
... hoping July will be warmer and drier (dryer? more dry?) than June

18 June 2007

This week I will mostly be ...

... dieting, still (only 4 pounds to go now!)
... finishing off 'Hearing Birds Fly' and moving on to 'Shadowmancer' by GP Taylor
... trying to fit in Race for Life training
... going to the West Midlands to see friends
... celebrating our first wedding anniversary on sunday! Woohoo!

17 June 2007

Generous Journal Part Three

Umm ... not a very Generous week this week. I was forced to take a carrier bag from Clintons Cards (the crafty minx bagged up my cards behind the counter so I couldn't see her do it!) and, well, I haven't really done anything else good either to be honest. But I did get my Blood Donor card! Woo-hoo!

I'll try to have more to tell you next week, promise.

16 June 2007

The Big Concert!!

On Thursday I was in a concert which was the culmination of my two years at Leeds College of Music. The concert was for the Beginners and Intermediates n the Popular Singing evening classes, and as an Intermediate, it was my second concert, but no less scary than the first! To keep it brief I'm only going to talk about my fellow intermediates, who you can see in the picture above.

The first of our lot was Susan (far left, in the pink jacket) singing 'One Moment in Time'. Now I'm very proud of our Susan. Last year she was so nervous she only just got to the end of her song and had to stop a few times. But this year she sang beautifully, hitting notes I can only dream of, and with such confidence. It brought a tear to my eye!

Next up, Vivienne (white shirt, blue scarf) singing 'Patience'. I'm very close to Vivienne as she arrived early like me and took me home after classes so of course I thought she was ace! She's had trouble using her lower register but the low bits sounded great on the night and she also moved around which I know was a challenge for her.

Then there was Mhairi (far right, next to the speaker) singing 'Don't Wanna Miss a Thing'. She has a beautiful, warm voice and she brought a different quality to the song and made it very feminine. She also hit a note I know she struggled with, so well done to her!!

After a couple of beginners was Jane (white dress, yellow jacket) singing 'Fields of Gold'. Jane has a really pretty, 'tinkly' voice which really suited the song. I hate Sting but I liked her performance!!

Another few beginners, then Mel (next to Mhairi) with 'Walking after Midnight'. She struggled with the timing a little but sang well, and carried on to the end despite her nerves without any fuss.

Closing the first half was the fantastic Gil (just behind Vivienne in black) singing 'Diamonds are Girl's best Friend' wearing fur-trimmed black rubber gloves with 'diamond' rings on. She's always complained that she can't sing but she's a true entertainer with so much confidence, and too boot she actually can sing! I wish I could perform like her!

The first of us lot in the second half was Graham (the only bloke!) singing 'Behind Blue Eyes'. He's had problems with his voice all year through asthma but he sang the best I've heard him sing on the night and really got into the rock atmosphere of the song. He's got a brilliant storytelling, folksy voice and I hope he carries on singing.

Follwing Graham was 'Dancer Zoe' (black top, blue skirt) singing a song from a modern musical called 'Still Hurting'. This song was almost an epic in itself! Zoe gave a dramatic performance and did really well with the range of the song. A very brave choice of song.

After Tracy from the beginners I was up, and I was SO NERVOUS! (In case you don't know me, I'm the one with the specs in the grey top) I sang 'Black Horse and a Cherry Tree' which was a bit mean on the poor pianist and I felt quite sorry for him, I think I must have put an extra 'woo-hoo' in somewhere which threw him, I ended up singing the last part of the song a cappella which was a surprise, but I had a ball, did better than I thought I would (at least I think I did) and really wanted to get up again!

A few more beginners, then Kate (next to me in a black top with a brown scarf) with the brilliant 'I Just Wanna Make Love to You.' Kate is a real soul diva and she belted out the song brilliantly, I couldn't help dancing about in my chair! She was fantastic, even got pants thrown at her at the ned! (Well she did bring 'Rent-a-crowd' as she calls them!)

Closing the show was 'Actress Zoie' (beigey-brown halter top) with 'Pearl's a Singer'. I didn't know this song before I heard her sing it, but I love it now, and she sang it wonderfully, brinigng her acting skills into the performance. She's always had a very polished voice but that night she excelled herself.

Then we sang our group 'Your love keeps lifting me' which was great fun, I've loved preparing for that song mainly because Kate and I were given the main part in the chorus and we had such a laugh rehearsing together! It also made me really proud to be labelled a belter by Cara, our teacher (the one with her back to the photo), I went around telling everyone i knew, I've never been called a belter before! Wow! Anyway, it was a really fun end to the course!

So there we are, my last performance with that group of people, I'm going to miss them all and I hope to see them again soon.

11 June 2007

This week I will mostly be ...

... Dieting still (halfway there now!)
... Counting my steps (to make sure I'm doing enough in preparation for Race for Life)
... Continuing to read 'Hearing Birds Fly'
... Singing in our end-of-course concert on Thursday
... Preparing for a flat-warming on Saturday
... Trying to get more sponsors for Race For Life!

10 June 2007

Generous Journal - Second entry

Well, I said I'd keep a journal of my progress with the Generous website, so here's my second instalment. Not much to report on this week, although I've started a new action - keeping a generous journal! Haha, I'd forgotten that action was on the website! I also successfully turned down carrier bags at Boots and Morrisons, opting for, in the former case, a spare carrier bag I had in my hand bag, and in the latter, two sturdy canvas bags which are far better for carrying food in anyway as they won't split and you can get loads more in. I'm also still using mugs to measure out the water I need to put in the kettle - boils so much quicker that way!

A couple of things not on the website that ought to be:
- Buying 'The Big Issue'. I did that yesterday from a nice vendor in Ilkley and there were some very interesting articles about climate change, which everyone (including me) is obsessed with at the moment.
- Shopping at charity shops. As you will see on my first journal entry, the wesbsite does have an action for donating goods to charity shops, which is all very well and good but these things need to be bought in order for the shop to make money for their charity. Whilst in Ilkley yesterday I raided the charity shops and loved it - I got a Next t-shirt with a Mickey Mouse motif for £2.99, a jigsaw for £1.19, a Bill Bryson book for the hubby for £1.49 and - my favourite find - two lovely sleeveless t-shirts with silk trim for £1.25 each!! And they were new, donated from a clothes shop! I may post pictures of my finds to show just what you can get from a charity shop if you're persistent in looking!

So, a reasonably generous week. Let's see how I do next week ...!

04 June 2007

This week I will mostly be ...

... Stealing blog ideas from my friends (sorry Fi!)
... Reading 'Hearing Birds Fly' by Louisa Waugh
... Eating fruit and veg in an attempt to match last week's weight loss of 4lbs (yay!)
... Waiting in anticipation for some new wool to arrive
... Trying to get fit for Race for Life on July 1st
... Trying to get sponsors for said Race for life!

02 June 2007

My Generous Journal Part One

I'm a member of a website called 'A Year of Living Generously'. The link is http://generous.org.uk which I would add as a link to the blog but can't work out how. Anyone want to help me out on that? Anyway, it was set up originally as a small community of people posting ways of being more generous for a year, but word got out and it got bigger, and carried on after the first year.

I became a member after a woman at my old church in Reepham, Lincoln, gave out some leaflets during a a family service about a recent action added to the website. I thought it looked interesting and got totally hooked! Once you've signed up you can commit to actions and set your progress with them. It's full of great ideas to help the environment, other people, and the world in general. Here's the actions I've committed to so far ...

Stop taking carrier bags from shops - a self-explanatory one, my progress is marked as 'currently focussing on' as it's quite a new one. I'm having limited success, today I went to Argos and turned down a bag, but then went to a shoe shop and they bagged up my new trainers before I could protest!!

Give your unwanted/ unworn clothes to charity - again, self-explanatory, and something I've done since I was a young'un, so it's marked as 'Still Doing.' I currently have a bag of clothes in my bedroom ready to give away, as well as helping charity and recycling, it also makes more space for new things in my wardrobe!

More tea vicar? (Don't overfill your kettle) - This one's about making sure you only put as much water as you need in the kettle, saving electricity as it boils quicker. This one's also a 'Still Doing'. I find using a mug to pour in the water is a good way of doing this.

Get someone to join the Generous Community - This one I have as 'Lapsed' (oh the shame) because, apart from my husband, I haven't managed to persuade anyone to join. Although if you see this and join as a result, do let me know!

Perfect Your Pasta - This is an interesting one. Apparently, if you bring your pasta to the boil (or potatoes, veg etc), then cut the heat and put a lid on, the food will cook if you leave it for long enough. We tried it with pasta and it actually came out nicer. This one is also 'Lapsed' as I don't do the cooking in our house!!

Love Books? Join the Library - It's important to support libraries as a source of free literature and often internet access, as well as an important part of community life. This one I've marked as 'Done' although I've not borrowed anything on my new card yet because I'm still wading through years of unread birthday and Christmas presents!

Become a Blood Donor - Done! I did it for the first time a few weeks ago and was so proud of myself! This is something which everyone who is old and healthy enough should do, the knowledge that could well have saved a life is the best feeling you can get.

Unplug Your Chargers - Chargers still suck up electricity even when nothing's attached to them, so I always take mine out after charging. This one's a 'Done'.

Turn off the Tap when Brushing Your Teeth - last one, and another 'Done'. I've done this ever since I saw a cartoon on Sesame Street where a boy ran the tap and his pond outside emptied, with a scared looking fish trying to get to the water.

So there we are! I'll keep a journal every week of how I'm doing, new actions committed to, and hopefully a few people will be inspired to join!

01 June 2007

10 things that have changed since I posted last

1. I got a job as an administrator in May 2006 for a property search company, and unfortunately have not escaped from it yet
2. I moved from Beeston to Horsforth in June 2006
3. I got married in June 2006 (yippee!)
4. I moved onto the intermediate singing course at Leeds College of Music in September 2006
5. I got a bit bored of knitting and tried my hand at crochet
6. I got my nearly-bum-length hair cut off into a crop in March 2007
7. I bought a flat (with hubby of course) in Guiseley in April 2007
8. I started wearing glasses permanently
9. I put on weight through sedentary job, married comfort and not having to buy Value everything
10. I started a diet!

Like a Phoenix from the flames ...

I've decided to reclaim my blog! It's over a year since I posted and I now need a freaky Google account but hey, thought I'd drag it all up again!

Why, I hear you ask? (You being the people who, hopefully, read this, although I doubt many of you will!) Well, for the following reasons:

1. The recent discovery that my friend Fi has a blog (www.shoegalfi.blogspot.com) which reminded me that it was quite fun

2. The fact that I've just finished the two Bridget Jones books and find myself thinking in diary style, and what is a blog if not a type of diary?

3. I get flipping bored in my lunch hours because there's only so many times you can wander round Next, so I spend most lunch hours inside.

So, here it is! A new start! Now, I'd better check my profile is up to date, last time I posted I was unmarried and living in Beeston, now am married and have lived at two different addresses since then!