Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Becca Said Let's Get Moving!


So, here I am at WordPress! Reasons for the move – the structure of this place just seems a lot more smooth. Blogger was just stumbling more and more, from the fact that my wedding post-in-draft kept on freezing, to the amateurish widgets.
Also, I love the comments facility. I’ve realised thy the first thing to get me to unfollow a blog or Twitter account is the arrogant I-think-I’m-a-celeb kind of blogger who ignores direct questions and never responds to comments. I want to be able to actually reply to comments, rather than just feel like I’m posting at random!
Come and say hello - http://beccasaid.wordpress.com
Up next – the Big Day!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Friday Funny

The Twilight malarkey absolutely baffles me. I clearly must have reached old age, because I just don't find those boys attractive. Why aren't film stars as hot nowadays? Meanwhile the dialogue in the books reads like old-school Mills and Boon, where they describe everything with such bellyaching passion, and orgasms are described as soaring stars and rainbows. Ralph.

Anyway, I came across this chucklesome pic and hope that you enjoy:




Harsh!




(source)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A Year Ago, Part Two

Carrying on from A Year Ago, Part One -

The doctors decided that they were going to sedate rather than anaesthetise me - I've had a few operations before, but this was something new! The doctors told me that they'd probably have to intubate, just to be safe, and honestly I was quite scared. I have a horribly sensitive gag reflex - it's a standing joke that when I see things like bird or dog poo, or - thanks to living in studenty areas - the occasional pavement pizza, I struggle to keep my breakfast down.

I can only compare the procedure experience to some kind of Beatles music video - everything was pink and floaty, with lots of voices murmuring as if they were underwater. There was a lot of tugging at my face, and I remember them struggling to replace the drip and stabbing me repeatedly in the foot!

I came to in intensive care - while I'd been under, they'd struggled to get the tube down my throat, and had to perform an emergency tracheotomy. I am not certain if it's a reaction to sedatives, but I've always found waking up from surgery a distressing experience. I feel like all I want to do is cry and cry - and bless the poor nurses having to deal with me threatening to sign an AMA (discharge against medical advice) form if they didn't let me go. All this while being hooked up to a drip and numerous other devices, with a bit of plastic tubing holding the hole in my throat open, and two bags to collect the products of the surgical drains. What can I say, I'm dramatic when medicated.

Intensive care really lives up to its name. Anyone who thinks that we're hard done by with the NHS, think again - I'm talking at least one nurse per person, the whole time. My parents and Patrick were so impressed by the nurses - not only did they provide excellent care, but they kept everyone fully informed and just made the whole experience less crappy. The original plan was to keep me in intensive care for at least three days, but I was moved to a regular Ear, Nose and Throat ward after just one. All these years that I've spent being pissed off at my body, hating flabby belly and dimpled thighs, and it turns out that it's absolutely state-of-the-art when it comes to what really matters - keeping me alive and healthy.

I spent a further four days in the ward, but it felt like so much longer. My tube came out, and taking that first breath through my mouth again was the strangest feeling. If you start to swallow, try to take a breath in, and release the swallow to let the breath in, you'll feel something similar.

The weirdest thing of all was my complete loss of the ability to taste basic flavours. Patrick brought me Marmite sandwiches and marshmallows - I still couldn't open my mouth very wide, so I had to rip the marshmallows into small pieces to fit them into my mouth. Unfortunately, the marshmallows tasted of nothing but egg, and the sandwiches, well, nothing. I lost a stone and a half over the whole experience, simply due to getting bored of eating! It almost makes me wish that my sense of taste was something I could switch on and off - hovering at a post-wedding comfort weight of 195 lbs is not something I want to do for long.

Before they let me go home, they had to remove the surgical drains. Surgical drains are little bits of thin plastic, almost like an inch-long drinking straw flattened out, that they stitch in place at the site of infection, to encourage the pus (I warned you, didn't I?) to drain out of your body. They attached really attractive bags to collect what came out, as can be seen in this delightful picture:


I carried on with the Lucozade after I came off the drip, in an effort to get some calories in while I wasn't eating, and Patrick was horrified to notice one of the bags filling with an orange liquid. It turned out that, due to logistical complications, whatever was in my mouth was seeping out through the holes under my chin! Rather disgustingly, once the drains came out, I was able to squirt water from the holes. It would've been a great party trick, but alas! I am all healed up now.

Speaking of the drain removal - what an ordeal! The first came out fine, a junior doctor with far too much make-up snipped away all the stitches and pulled. The second one... Less so. She snipped the stitches and started to pull... And pull... And pull. Owwwww! You know the hideous scene from The Grudge (later parodied in some kind of Scary Movie) when the girl without a lower jaw appears? That's what I was thinking about. I was thinking that this Doogette Howser in false lashes and inch-thick foundation is about to rip my frickin' jaw out.

Thankfully I kicked up a bit of a fuss, because when a lovely nurse came to give it a try, she noticed an additional stitch that was still attached, and managed to sort it out. If that dreadful woman had continued pulling, I dread to think of the damage that could've been done. Maybe not as bad as this...


But still.

The nurses were awesome. Most were West African, a few were Eastern European, and fewer were English. I guess the X Factor generation thinks that nursing isn't glamourous enough, but really, what job is? To be as chipper and hard-working as those ladies were every day, in the face of so much sickness - not all of which is going to get any better - is pretty darn cool. There could be improvements to the banter - being told "free wax on the NHS" every time I had my bandages changed began to grate the more sensitive my poor skin became!

I took a further three weeks off work after coming home, and Patrick was just so good to me - keeping on top of the housework, buying me grapes that I would slice in half to eat (my jaw flexibility took some time to recover) and letting me take the best position of the sofa so that I could sleep with my torso upright. I honestly don't know what I would have done without him. If we were testing out the "in sickness and in health" vow in advance, he'd have passed with flying colours.


A strange thing about the healing process - they don't actually stitch up the tracheotomy site once they've taken out the tube; they just let the skin sit back together and heal itself. The skin on top of the site is quite thin, and I can feel the ridges of my trachea more clearly than at other points on my neck. That may sound weird, but I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to that sort of thing - I am fascinated by how we work. If it weren't for the pay, the hours and the six years of university, I'd have loved to be a doctor!

So, fast-forward to today. I have scars, but I'm amazed at how proud of them I am; how little I wanted them covered up on my wedding day. I am a non-smoker, and I honestly never thought I'd be able to say that. There's nothing quite like a morphine clicker to get you through nicotine cravings! Patrick is a non-smoker, too, so not only do I have the gift of life, but I have the gift of him by my side. 

I thank God for my sister-in-law - at what stage would most of us call for an ambulance for ourselves? I'd feel so foolish unless I could see blood. There's some nerve damage on the left-hand side of my face, and for a few months, the bone could be seen where the drain had been. All in all, I've been so lucky.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Leaning A Little To The Left

While lurking over at Cakes and Bunting, I came across http://www.theanycampaign.co.uk/ - a petition set up to allow weddings to take place outdoors. If you've ever drooled over American wedding blogs where people celebrate their nuptials overlooking beautiful landscapes, on the beach, or in their parents' back gardens, then you'll understand!




(source)


Please head over there and sign the petition - and while you're at it, go and visit Claire's blog!



Wandering

Today, I am guest posting for the lovely Fliss over at Any Other Wedding. If you haven't discovered this blog yet, do go and check it out - Fliss and Aisling discuss all things wedding, from a real-girl perspective!

Today's pic - one of my favourites from a solo-travelling sesh through Spain, France and Italy back in 2005. Cinque Terre is a beautiful area on the south coast at the top bit of the boot that is Italy. It was full of the most beautiful multi-coloured houses on the hillside, and this is the first time I thought "ooh, wouldn't it be cool to be able to take photographs?"

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A Year Ago, Part One

I know that I should be writing up my wedding about now, but I thought I'd deal with the ugly before I got started with the pretty. I must apologise to the squeamish, as I'm not holding back on the gory details.

On 7 August 2009, exactly one year before our wedding day, I was recovering at home from a wisdom tooth extraction. It had started off pretty normally for dental work - sleepy, swollen and making the most of the pretty, pink ibuprofen pills I'd been given. The extraction itself had been quite unpleasant, with the rude dentist actually yelling at me to open my mouth wider, and telling me not to be so stupid when I said I felt a sharp jab during the procedure, but it had been nice and quick, so I just grumbled to myself that thank heavens that was the last tooth that needed to be removed.

I'd summoned up the strength to walk to the tube station with Patrick, thinking that the fresh air and a bottle of Lucozade would make me feel better. Due to my inability to swallow, I hadn't been able to eat - nor barely drink - anything except for a plate of gnocchi the evening of the extraction, so I was starting to go a little crazy! I made it to the station, but took 30 minutes to walk the half mile back to our flat.

The swallowing thing began to get worse - I had to go to the bathroom every twenty minutes to spit out the saliva that gathered in my mouth. As I hadn't spoken since Wednesday night, I sent the dentist a slightly frantic email (specifying my inability to speak) with the general message of "is this normal?". No response. I forwarded the message again, with "Please can someone contact me. I'm starting to get really worried." Yeah - I'm really embarrassed about that now! They then started to call me - clever.

I decided enough was enough and texted my sister-in-law, asking her to take me to the hospital. She drove me to St George's, Tooting, where I used my handy notepad to explain my situation. An older couple sat opposite us were drinking delicious-looking bottled water and eating sweets, and just watching them actually made me cry - I was so thirsty and weak. I was sent to Radiology for an x-ray - I feel like a bit of a regular there, what with Patrick and his rugby injuries - and they tried to fit my swollen, Coulthardesque face into the machine, but to no avail.

They put in a drip to rehydrate me, but had a little trouble getting it in place, causing my sister-in-law to come over all queasy at the sight of my blood. The doctor came out and explained that the swelling was down to an infection, and that they were going to put in some drains to clear it out. Patrick arrived just in time to give me a last kiss before I headed off into surgery.

Today's photo - a pic of all the girlies at my hen do in April - a fab weekend!!



Coming up...

The surgery and the aftermath!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A Break, and What Next?

Wow, I've been off for a while! I must give sincerest thanks to those who are still checking in here - I've barely even had time to keep up with my favourite blogs lately, so I appreciate those who continue to read very much.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the direction this blog is going to take. I don't have a niche, or a particularly strong idea. I do, however, know that I'm really not a naturally happy-clappy person. Any efforts I may have made to emulate the feeling some of my favourite lifestyle blogs just haven't felt like my real voice, and the best responses I've received have been when I've been, well, a little bit rant-y.

So, instead of lifestyle, I'm going to just do *my* life - what I'm thinking about; what's happening here; what really gets me enthused, good or bad. There will also be full wedding and honeymoon reports - I have to share my extensive photo collection with someone and my disastrously slow laptop just isn't up to the challenge right now!

Massive thanks to Fliss at AnyOtherWedding for giving me that kick... And watch this space!

The picture? I'm a bit of an Americana-geek. Having my first Twinkie from a convenience tour in a small California town excited me more than it would most people.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

We're winding down for the wedding, now, but are still finding time to mess around in our friends' woods. I know it's terribly lazy, and I usually can't stand video-only posts. Note the fff---; yeah, that's me trying not to swear!


And just how cute are these? Random South American animals in the English countryside. Taken with Hipstamatic on the iPhone.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

My Favourite Song

I discovered this on the lovely Life of a Shopping Addict blog - a 30-day challenge for bloggers - and just had to give it a go! I will definitely not be able to keep this up day-to-day - I don't know if I mentioned, but I've kinda got plans on 7/8 ;) - but I plan to follow the programme over the next three months.

As Emma-the-shopping-addict rightly points out, it's pretty darn impossible to identify just one song that's your favourite! I tried the diplomatic approach and started with the most played and five-star rated on iTunes, and that gave me...


Wow. Really? I mean, I love that song so much, but I was amazed to learn that I listen to it more than any other! The entire soundtrack is fantastic, and this song has such a stomping beat that is perfect for running. There's definitely a satisfaction in being all serious-faced, clad in Dri-Fit and Polar, but listening to Disney soundtracks - and nobody knows what you're listening to!

It brings back wonderful memories of baby brother stomping around the house, mistakenly singing "Sandwiches" instead of "Savages". He's 17 now - I'm sure he appreciates my memories.

Somehow, though, that's not quite it. But I've got to commit to something. There are multiple issues that come with picking a favourite.

One is the memories attached. I will always retain a fondness of anything from Summer 1999 because of the sheer awesomeness of driving around in your best friend's car, getting your first weekend job, having your first boyfriend... Wait. Is it weird that I can still love a song that's so attached to such a moment in time? Or wrong, somehow? We're both blissfully engaged to other people, and are certainly not hankering after a romantic reunion, but the music-induced nostalgia always feels like something that ought to be put in a box in the attic.

Memories can often make us forget the meaning of a song and lead you to cause something that's angry or sad when you just don't feel that way. The Summer I spent in West Islip, NY with my cousins is brought back in a flash with Alanis Morissette's You Oughta Know. It was new to the US charts at the time, and my 13-year-old self was in teen-movie heaven as we attended pool parties where they showed old horror movies, drank beer and smoked cigarettes - just like on TV! Clueless was at the cinema; Hugh Grant was in a lot of trouble; and I didn't care that the song was so angry and sad - life was just cool.

Ever find a song that just feels like it's your song? Not the romantic kind - the just you kind. For me, Fiona Apple's Fast as You Can hit the nail on the head before I even heard it. I don't even remember how, but I saw the lyrics written down somewhere and it has always felt so fitting. I haven't got together the guts to tell *him* that - nor have I sought out the rest of her catalogue. I'm not sure why, really. The first part probably because he's almost completely succeeded at bringing me out of that mindset. The second part maybe because I don't want to be disappointed and find that it's all pretend and she uses singing about issues as a marketing technique.

One song that just feels like it's been there all the way along is probably the one that's my favourite - Rainy Night in Soho by The Pogues.


It has such a heart-warming, you-n-me-together-after-everything kind of feel to it. It's not sweet and romantic, but reminds me of that old sonnet where the poet says that his love really isn't that beautiful, but he loves her all the same. I am a big fan of their music in general, especially the ensemble nature of all the random instruments playing. They bring it out whenever they play live, and it's just as awesome (and I generally can't stand live music). It comes on the iPhone at the most random and perfect of moments, and I never seem to skip it. My Dad plays it whenever he's a bit drunk and then texts me to tell me he's done so, and I do the same back. It just makes me feel like listening to it, and that's all you can really ask of a favourite song!

So... Pic for the sake of it time. Wanna see my dress? Here it is...

Hahaha. I'm such a tease. But there it is - ready to go to the dry cleaners, because there are only ELEVEN days to go!

What's your favourite song and why? Are you about music, lyrics, or the whole package? Have you seen Music and Lyrics? Do you like live music?

Friday, 23 July 2010

What A Tangled Web

There is a lot of meanness on the web. I'm not talking about the random trolling I used to encounter on the Facebook feminist groups (weird guys who would respond to your every argument with "well, that's because you've been brainwashed to think that way"), I'm talking about the gathering together of like-minded people. "Huh?", you say? Let me explain.

There's an old adage that bullies were usually bullied themselves, and while this is easy to see in the school playground, it's not as obvious in real, grown-up life, until you start spending time on the internet. The web's ability to demarginalise those on the fringes of popular culture has created fun places to hang out and discover that you're not alone, whatever those people at school tried to tell you.

In the early days, those who spent time socialising online were a rare breed. You'd start to tell someone a funny story that you'd heard in a forum but stop yourself so you could quickly fabricate a non-geeky source so that they'd laugh at your story and not you. It made for an atmosphere I can only liken to the Gorgonites in Small Soldiers - a rag-tag bunch of slightly odd-looking people, but always friendly and welcoming.

Then, as online socialising exploded, cliques began to form. Now that you can find people who share your love of anything from West African philately to obscure Swedish electropop, anyone who has felt marginalised is able to pass on that lovely feeling to someone else. A new type of snobbery seems to be raising its ugly head as people fall over themselves to have a life that's "more unique" than anyone else's. FYI - I am aware that there is no more or less unique. There is unique or not. Unfortunately, this means that uniqueness takes you back to solitude, so people turn it into a sliding scale.

The wedding world is one of the worst. I've encountered - and quickly unsubscribed from - a number of wedding blogs that repeatedly sneer at the decision to wear a traditional wedding dress, get married in church, have a wedding cake -  the sort of thing that normo-type people might have at their weddings. A great way to let people know exactly who is not welcome. When a fabulously talented photographer's work was trolled recently, readers took the opportunity to reinforce the "we're such outsiders" label with such comments as "they probably just want a nice dollop of blandness and a side dish of same old same old". What kind of world do we live in where quality is not permitted to be commonplace?

Even if a blog is positive, it can occasionally attract a cliquey bride, whose description of her Big Day entails "we didn't want this... we didn't want that...", referring to all sorts of things that you can guarantee someone reading really wanted for their wedding day. There are practically competitions to see who can have the smallest wedding with the fewest attendants and the lowest budget, because clearly if you invite lots of people you're just trying to make up numbers and... the worst thing of all... "be something you're not". 

In two weeks time, I plan to brush my hair, put on a frickin' gorgeous dress and tell everybody in church just how much I love my man. That's not "me" - I'm a scruff; I'm such a nervous public speaker that I'm actually developing a stutter, and I never wear pale colours because I miss my mouth constantly. If someone is the same every other day as they are on their wedding day, then they're either a really exciting person, or it's a really boring wedding. I can just picture it - and now, Mr and Mrs C are now going to sit and watch Sons of Anarchy, while simultaneously IMDBing all the actors they sort-of recognise from somewhere else. (As an aside... Don't do that. Jackson is so hot until you realise he's actually English and that irritating boy with the mockney accent in Green Street. He has now left my fantasies forever).

Then there are the healthy/ethical foodies - the bloggers are the sweetest girls you will ever meet, but there are commenters who compete to be the most puritanical about their food. It conjures up in my mind the Two Ronnies and John Cleese sketch, only where John Cleese is the fruitarian, looking down on Ronnie Barker's vegan, who looks down on Ronnie Corbett's vegetarian.

Ever act like a bit of a slob when you're on holiday? One chap pipes up with "what a shame about your friends who eat dinner at 10pm, wake at noon, and eat pizza for breakfast... I feel sorry for them." No, really, don't. We love it.

I realise that I'm going to have to change my title to Becca Rants if I carry on down this vein much further, so I promise to perk up and live up to my original positivity purpose a bit better. In the meantime - I have resurrected my Twitter account! Please stop by and say hello - I am @littleacceb. Alternatively, leave your Twitter name below and I shall follow you!

Finally - I thought I'd share an old snap from Christmas 2004, of the place where my Dad currently is... Moraira, Spain. Lucky sod.


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Drunk People and Fire

Yes, they are a fantabulous combination. My story from Saturday night's party involves neither drunk people nor fire - that came later - but it explains the picture...
So... Some friends of ours are farmers and own some beautiful land on which they decided to build a little cabin for parties. The inaugural bash took place on Saturday with the instruction to bring some food and drink so everyone would just muck in, and involved a mixture of London people and locals. I'm still not sure where we fit as Patrick is a Londoner, and I'm a local, and we've both lived in each other's areas. I digress... So this is how it went down - 

Barbecue-tending male Londoner: What would you like?
Me: Ooh, is there a burger ready?
Barbecue-tending male Londoner: These lamb ones look like they're done.
Me: That sounds lovely!
Rude female Londoner: My friend made those by hand!
Me: That's fine - I'll just wait for one of the beef ones.
Rude female Londoner: [shrieking to her friend] Some random is trying to take our hand-made burgers!
Barbecue-tending male Londoner: [silent; looks embarrassed]

Really - why do people feel the need to be so rude? It's not even like it was a public event - it was a private party, so unless she thought that I'd somehow crashed a party in the middle of a field, she must have considered that we have friends in common. Baffled.

Anyway, running!
Did 5k yesterday, about which I am extremely pleased. It was super-roasty outside, but I remembered to take a water bottle with me. OMG - what a difference that makes! 

Lap #1 - 1.57 km, 13:10 minutes, 6.13 km/h
Lap #2 - 1.65km, 13.52 minutes, 7.09 km/h
Lap #3 - 1.67km, 12.00 minutes, 7.8 km/h

Total - 5.10km, 43.21 minutes, 6.99km/h

I don't know if I'm improving, or if the promise of pork tenderloin and butternut squash fajitas spurred me on! It might even be that my super-sexy pace maker was jogging just a few feet in front of me... But I'm not saying. After the run, he made me lift heavy weights in our snazzy home gym garage with weights bench and punch bag. I feel like Rocky Balboa, which is interesting, because Patrick looks kinda like Ivan Drago...
More good news - I have the new iMapMyRun app that lets me take pictures while I run without having to stop recording! To try out this week...

Friday, 16 July 2010

Type A or Type B?

Ok, ok, ok... I promise that random online quizzes won't continue to be a regular feature, but after reading Wife Lifey's post on Type A and Type B personalities, I just had to give this one a try. 

If you'd caught me at my Matilda-idolising stage, I'd have probably loved to be a Type A - I wanted to achieve; I wanted to be the best. My dream was to become a doctor at a hospital in Pittsburgh, because that's where all the poorly children on Newsround went to have amazing surgeries that would save their lives. I would discover a cure for lung cancer - "so that when you get it, I can cure you", I'd say to my Dunhill-scented parents. Along the way, I'd probably open a school for girls á la Mallory Towers with my best friend Sarah. Battling it out for first place in class was what I lived for.

Somewhere, it all went awry. I am not a doctor. University was a disaster - I struggled in class and really honed my exceptional skill of saying really, really inappropriate things when I'm nervous or intimidated. Chances are, if I've come across as a total a-hole to you at any stage, it's because I quite like you and hope to make you think well of me. Great, huh?

Since dropping out of university, I've sort of ambled through jobs, thankfully earning a so-far-beyond-useful professional qualification along the way. Seriously, I dread to think what my life would be like if I didn't have those four letters after my name. I have finally accepted that my heart just wasn't quite in the ambitious glass-ceiling lifestyle I felt I should be striving for. A couple of years in London mercifully ended in March, and I'm relishing the slowness of life.

I don't really know how to explain how wannabe-Matilda got lost along the way, but all I can think is that I just got too lazy. It turns out you can still have fun even if you're really quite average.

So... the results of the test - 0 means Type B personality; 100 means Type A. I got 52. Clearly Matilda's still battling, just a little. Their blurb...

"You seem to be in the middle between the Type A and Type B personality. In this case, the middle ground is good. Your attitude to life is more of the "smell the roses" kind and you know how and when to relax. Nonetheless, you realize that picking up a challenge and competing a little bit for your place in the sun can add some spice to your life. The equilibrium is important, so don't let your hostile, aggressive, and competitive alter ego take over too often. Generally, you are easy to be around, and people tend to feel relaxed and comfortable in your presence. Yours is a very healthy attitude towards life."

After being called a bit of a bimbo a few days ago, I feel quite relieved!

 As I don't like the "related posts" blank pics, here's a little eye candy. These are some gorgeous pups, one of which we are considering. Seriously, don't you just want to pick them all up and cuddle them at once?



What personality type do you think you are, and does the test say differently? What do you think of these online quizzes - are they potentially harmful, or just silly fun?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Ivory Brollies, Anyone?

According to legend, if it rains on St Swithin's Day, it will rain for the next forty days. This isn't just a folklore thing - there are scientific reasons that explain the superstition. Apparently, the position of the jet stream at this time of year means that weather suddenly becomes completely consistent for the next month or so. As I stare outside at the dreary, grey clouds, I have to remind myself of this gorgeous wedding and how fabulous those mean ol' clouds look.

Yes, the bottom of my perfect dress is likely to get muddy, and yes, we may be lumbered with a load of supposed-to-be-giant-but-actually-just-slightly-larger-than-usual games that haven't even been used, but sod it, we'll maintain that stiff upper lip and have a great time anyway. We are British after all - we've seen worse weather!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

City Life Or Country Life?

With enormous thanks to Melissa Nibbles: City Life Or Country Life?

So, I started to write this in Melissa's comment box but rambled on for so long that I thought I'd just write a post of my very own! I was drawn over to her blog after a shockingly risqué comment she made over on Healthy Living With Kelly made me laugh out loud!

Melissa sees both sides of the coin, but is more inclined to believe that city living is easier to do more healthily.

Interesting! In the UK, I'd say that it's very different - it's much easier to stay healthy in the countryside.

Yeah, we don't have the supercool Wholefoods-type places, but that's because there's a farm shop just down the road that has always been organic, even before it was trendy. We don't have to inhale car exhaust fumes *or* jump in the hedge, because there are footpaths and bridlepaths that we may follow. I can go out running by myself, because there isn't a gang of hoody-wearing "yoofs" on every corner, making me feel unsafe.

Cycling becomes a pleasure rather than a chore, because the disused railway lines across the country are slowly being turned into scenic cyclepaths. Smaller communities mean that things like recreational sports teams are more common - nothing motivates my beloved quite like training with his rugby pals twice a week. In London, they didn't have that cameraderie, so if he just ditched to stay home and watch tv, or his fitness levels weren't as good as they should be, nobody really cared. Now, he runs of his own accord, because he doesn't want to let the team down.

In the city, the work ethic is much more "macho" - staying as late as possible and boasting about how many hours one works. In the countryside, people just get the job done and we're home by 6 - plenty of time to be active and cook meals from scratch. Stress levels are lower because of this improved work-life balance. You are more likely to keep a pet - proven to be a great stress-reliver.

The best thing for my health about living in the countryside? Domino's Pizza don't deliver; and it's more effort to have after-work beers. Honestly - such a blessing.

Typealyzed!

This is probably extremely silly, but after I saw this on The Church Mouse blog, I had to give it a try.

Typealyzer says that I, as a blogger, am an Entertainer

"The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions."

I honestly don't know quite what to think. It seems that all the blogs I love are the same (weddings, lifestyle, wit and wisdom, design), or Doers (the healthy living ones), with only a minor interest in Thinkers (generally those of religious or political nature).

This really brought me back to school, if I'm honest. There were so many girls in my class who played the ditz in public, but were secretly working really hard and doing well. It used to drive me mad, because I was always competitive and didn't give a hoot if somebody wanted to call me a swot, so I didn't see why the other girls were playing up to their audience. Is this what I've been doing?

If you blog - what was your result? Do you think it was accurate?

Whether you blog or not - what do you think of girls dumbing down in front of the boys? Have you ever pretended to be a bit dappy?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Is Something Chasing Me?

Because that's the only time I ever run! Ok, this isn't really running, just a light jog, but this morning I got up, left the house at 6 and did 5k. I've been faffing around with Couch to 5k programmes for so long and getting absolutely nowhere, so I thought I'd take the advice of the title of my latest blog crush, and just Shut Up And Run!

I seem to have reasonable stamina at low levels of effort, so I figured I'm just going to focus for now on getting my 5k jog up to a reasonably respectable 5k run. To do this, I did 500m warmup, jogged for 2.5km, turned round and jogged back for 2.5km, then 500m cooldown. Simple enough! I suppose what I'm hoping for is to get to the stage where that feels really natural, and so I can push myself a bit further.

So... Here's the data! I'm not sure how exactly MapMyRun.com figures out what a lap is, but I haven't managed to find a better site for this purpose yet.

Lap # 1 - 1.70 km; 14.30 minutes; 6.84 km/h
Lap # 2 - 1.62 km; 12.23 minutes; 7.06 km/h
Lap # 3 - 1.66 km; 13.14 minutes; 6.91 km/h
Lap # 4 - 0.85 km; 07.58 minutes; 5.80 km/h

Total - 6.04 km; 52.51 minutes; 6.74 km/h

The route I take is absolutely beautiful - there's a canopy of trees that make it almost faerie glen-like. Once the new phone arrives (Carphone Warehouse rang to inform me that they believe that the delivery driver has stolen the one that I was due to pick up today...) I will be sure to take some pictures to share. Maybe even ones of my post workout face, á la Chocolate Covered Katie. Hmm... We shall see.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Our Boys

In all honesty, I'm a bit of a sentimental wuss most of the time - I used to cry like a baby when we sang Puff The Magic Dragon at prep school, because the thought of Jackie just growing up and forgetting about Puff devastated me. Don't tell me it's really about drugs, because I won't believe you! 

Toy Story struck a particular chord as I was an only child for seven years until my bright, shiny, space cadet sister came along. You'd have thought I need hospitalisation after watching Up and Marley & Me.

Unfortunately, it would appear that as the wedding gets closer, I'm getting worse. 

Yesterday, I was listening to Belinda Carlisle's Summer Rain. It's one of a group of songs from that era about a girl and boy being separated by life, but pledging to love each other anyway. All very cute and possibly a bit samey for some people's tastes. 

It only dawned on me a year or so ago that the word I wasn't hearing correctly was, in fact, "military". Now I'm a pacifist through and through, but something about the nature of the song changed for me when it became about a soldier going away to war and never coming back. I was a bawling mess and completely unable to sing along by the end. 

A friend's Facebook status comparing the plane bringing "our boys" home to rest with the plane bringing our embarrassing, overpaid, underperforming, adulterous football team home really socked it to me - our ideas of who we hold up in reverence are really skewed.

So, while I've never been anything but quietly pro-peace, I'm acknowledging my need to be a bit more supportive of those who go away and might never come back. We all want the same thing, after all - a happy, safe world.


Friday, 9 July 2010

How A-peel-ing!

Woohoo! My glycolic peel arrived at Boots, so I'm off to collect it at lunchtime. I know it won't be as effective as the salon ones, but I've done my research at The Beauty Brains and it ticks all the boxes! I'm not trying it out until Sunday, because - like a generation of women - I have been scarred by this episode of Sex and the City...

... And with the Stag/Hen Extravaganza tomorrow, I didn't want to risk it. I will post my reviews later!

Ooh, and exciting news - my boudoir photograph is winging its way to Mum's house as we speak!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Socks

I've been having cold feet. As the dust of planning settles, and everything falls into place, I've had time to think - to freak out a bit, and to realise the things that will never be. I'm never going to date a pop star; volunteer with the Red Cross; or be an FHM High Street Honey. Well, yeah, those things were probably never going to be anyway, but you know what I mean.

I did Economics GCSE, and we learnt about opportunity cost. Every choice we make means a road that we didn't take - something we missed out on. But, you know what? Every time I feel this happy, safe and loved, I realise that those choices are exactly what got me to this place, and I wouldn't change a thing. The opportunity cost is negligible.

In one month and one hour, I will be walking down the aisle, on the arm of my new husband, and the road I won't be taking will be far from my mind. Just thinking about the possibilities that lie ahead, and my best friend at my side warms my feet up no end.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Photography Gripes and Seeing Results!

One of my blogger faves - Nodakademic - posted this very informative post about what it's like to photograph a wedding.  Rather than totally hijack her post with my thoughts-in-general about the world of wedding photography, I thought I'd share over here!

Having watched our photographer in action at a wedding recently, I have no doubt that it's a physically and emotionally tiring job. He was wearing a pair of North Face-type shoes, which my fiancé (his friend) commented were rather scruffy for a wedding, until he started leaping almost ninja-like from rock, to bench, to bit of ruined castle, all to get the perfect shot, without getting in the way of anyone.

The niggle that I do have about wedding photography is why photographers aren't more straightforward with their charging methods. When someone quotes me £1500 for a fancy album that I don't want, or £3000 for the jpegs as they don't want the quality of their work to be compromised by cheap printing or online sharing, it's hard not to be really confused about what exactly the role of a wedding photographer is.

Our wedding is not a piece of art, it's a day from which we'd like visual mementoes, and we don't want to have to rely on friends/family members (like we would at a regular party) to give up their party time - so we hire a photographer. We want them to have photography skills, an inquisitive nature, and a keen eye for detail.

That's where the first issue arises - with the increased popularity of recreational photography, there are more and more alleged professionals popping up with no more skill than I have with a camera.

While the improved accessibility is wonderful, and competition is healthy, the fact that these lower-skilled photographers are charging as much as the good ones is just not on. We, the laymen, are not always equipt to make the best decision regarding photography - we may naively fall in love with the details of a wedding and confuse that with good photography; a good-looking couple can also sway us; and the number of photographers peddling tales of celebrity clients is amazing. I know it's all a case of caveat emptor, but the accountant in me is just crying out for industry regulation!

My dream photographer? Someone who says "I'm going to be with you for X hours; travelling for Y hours; processing for Z hours. My hourly rate for onsite work is £A; my hourly rate for travelling is £B and my hourly rate for processing work is £C." They then charge for products at cost plus mark-up, like a regular business does.

I'd be happy to pay a handsome hourly rate to get exactly what I want - nothing more, nothing less. Good photography is a great skill, and it should be rewarded - but an industry where there is such emotion attached - it is rare to hear a bride confess that the photographer had been "just ok" - and where repeat custom is almost non-existent, I'm not sure that fair rewards are being paid.

I'm currently in negotiations with a boudoir photography company (I shall report more later!) who charged £50 for an hour-long shoot including five minutes with a make-up artist, and one 5" by 7" print. The next level up is four 5" by 7" prints, for £250! Not only were there not four that I *loved*, but this is a gift for the groom - but having already bought him a beautiful watch, I'm really not planning on spending even more. We've got a wedding to pay for, after all! 

I offered them a further £75 for a second print - there are two that I love - but they declined, saying that they felt their packages provided good value. Um... Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't buying more than you want kind of go against the principles of good value? Sort of why I'm not allowed to fill my trolley with the 10p-a-punnet tomatoes that are just about to go off. 

So, I'm just sticking with one photo. For the cost they have incurred providing the photographer and the make-up artist, not to mention the overheads -  a pretty studio; hefty marketing; two reception staff - they are reaping a total of £50, simply because they didn't want to compromise. And for the baby bump picture I was planning in the future? I'll be looking elsewhere.

Couldn't just leave you without sharing a pic of my super-slummy lunch! Half a vegetarian lasagne from Sainsbury's; brussels sprouts and spring greens, all on a tasty corn tortilla with lashings of extra virgin olive oil. 


Here's a little story about EVOO, as the food bloggers call it: some time ago, I read an article in goodness-only-knows-what magazine, but a chef who said that you should never use EVOO for cooking, because it loses its flavour - only ever for dressings and such. It was one of those things like saying "hippopotami" or naming your child after a celebrity - people do it to appear refined, but actually show themselves to be less so than if they hadn't tried in the first place. Well... Ha! Mr Snooty Chef. Call me unrefined, but I think that EVOO tastes delicious when used in cooking, and I definitely notice that it tastes fruitier than normal olive oil.

As a result of this discovery, I have decided that any calories I have left over at the end of the day (according to my beloved MyNetDiary app) will be used in a big ol' drizzle of olive oil in my supper. It makes even the diet-iest of meals taste like a treat - and the presence of good fats means that my body isn't going to freak out that I'm eating less and exercising more.

So... I should probably share some of my results thus far - 




Whoop! The dotty line is what the scales say; the solid line is the TrueWeight smoothing out. And... The dress is fully zipping up!! Relief. Now I can just get back to slow and steady health-improvement.

As an aside - I apologise if anyone felt that my use of actual monetary figures was a little crass - I just felt that quantities were necessary to make the illustration. x

Friday, 2 July 2010

Farewell to the Skoda

It's official - the Storm Trooper has died. So-called for resembling the helmets worn by Chancellor Palpatine's Imperial Army, Patrick's beautiful, white Y-reg Skoda Fabia has failed its MOT, and with £300 worth of work needed to bring it up to acceptable standards, we have decided to stop throwing good money after bad, and just get rid.

I have therefore decided to bid the Storm Trooper a little farewell with this post.

I first encountered the car in August 2006, when I broke my ankle and Patrick very kindly offered to drive me round in return for help with a presentation he was planning to make. Just watching him parallel park was enough to make me fall head-over-heels in love - I never actually helped him with that presentation, but decided to cook him an amazing moussaka (he hates aubergines) and ply him with alcohol - the rest, as they say, is history!

It managed to carry us all the way to Cognac in April 2007, despite the snow in Versailles. And yes, that little tent was where we slept that night. I have never been so cold in my entire life. Patrick has never been so frightened that I was going to yell at him for encouraging me to camp!

When we moved to London that August, we managed to transport my two-seater Ikea Ektorp sofa bed (and those babies are HEAVY!) on the roof. It saved me hours and hours of time hanging out in somebody's armpit (i.e. using the London Underground) when I had to travel to such random places as Horsham and Chesham, where there are always branches of Waitrose and shops that sell Venetian masks, for work.

While I have resented its lack of air-conditioning, its extremely obnoxious alarm bleep, and the fact that it goes from 0-60 in approximately 4 minutes, it has been a good little car, and we will miss it. We will definitely have to spend part of the £350 that WeBuyAnyCar.com have offered on a drink to raise to its memory.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Star Wars-tastic!!

I came across two beyond-amazing picture posts relating to Star Wars this week. I *love* Star Wars so much, and love nothing more than chuckling away as the awesome Lou Mongello makes ridiculous Star Wars references all throughout his awesome podcast during WDW's Star Wars Weekends!

First up - to all the princess-haters out there, here's something gorgeous from Bonnie Burton's blog



... And as a girl who named her Ford Ka Kitty, I just adore these from Hello Wars on Etsy


Unfortunately, my plan to buy enough stickers to cover our white Skoda Fabia (aka the Storm Trooper) has fallen flat, as it has failed its MOT and will be sold to the highest bidder for parts... *sigh*

If you were to sign up to one of the fan legions, would it be...

c) Star Wars? Is that like Star Trek?

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Last Word

Leonard P. Matlovich's gravestone - Leonard was the first gay service member to fight the ban on gays in the United States military. It would be nice to say "what a long way society has come", but really, is Don't Ask, Don't Tell much better?


Monday, 14 June 2010

Ack... The Dress, and The Final Hour

So... I tried on the dress on Saturday, and it's about an inch away from doing up. Oh the horror! 54 days to go, and let's be serious - I've kind of known about this day for almost 18-months, now. *Sigh*

Sometimes I think that maybe I just prefer myself cuddly, but I know that's not true - when I got down to a still-considered-obese-by-the-health-industry 12 stone after a week in hospital last summer, I loved how slim I felt! So, the military "get Becca into her dress" operation has been stepped up a notch. I have officially sworn off alcohol for the next fortnight, and the gym sessions are going to have to be longer!

Yummy lentils, spring onions, red peppers and apple balsamic vinaigrette for supper last night!


Thursday, 10 June 2010

No Love for Mail2Blog

Well, what a disappointment! I carefully constructed my images-and-
text post, only for this silly function to delete most of the text...
Ah well, peeps - I'll update it when I'm in front of a computer
tomorrow!

Nighty night
Xx

Tasty, Healthy Food

I've subscribed to far too many healthy eating blogs lately, and they've inspired me to share my lunch with you!


Well, no, you can't have any, but the thought was there, at least.

I'm afraid to say that I'm a bit of a lettuce dodger, so what I tend to do is buy packs of vegetables intended for stir fries - cabbage, carrot strips and bean sprouts - and make a salad out of them instead. They're combined with my absolute diet staple - king prawns. There's something about the Co-Op ones; they're just so flavoursome.

Next layer is my favourite recent discovery - leek and alfalfa sprouts. They have just the right level of oniony pungency, without being so overpowering that you can't eat them at work! Also, some people do theorise that sprouting grains are magically good for you... Not sure if I buy it, but why not if they're tasty and cheap? All topped off with a tub of basic salsa. I've been having the most insane tomato cravings lately - thankfully they're a Weight Watchers *free* food, so I can snack on them as much as I like!

Want to see supper as well? Oh go on then...


Aubergines and mushrooms - Patrick hates them, so I'm dosing up while he's away - with asparagus in a tomatoey curry sauce. My favourite curry paste is Patak's Madras: it's so delicious. I've been known to put it in cheese toasties!


I added a bit of frozen chopped spinach to thicken out the sauce, and some frozen chopped green beans, just because they were there.

Pud, you say? Here it is!


One of the things I love about Waitrose is that they just stock nice things - even their economy versions of foods are ethically sourced, free range, British where possible... I love these frozen raspberries because they are delicious, and I can eat a tonne of them with minimal calorific damage. Yes, I am a greedy guts, and yes, I eat them frozen. I blended them once, making the most amazing sorbet, but it's too much like hard work, and it seemed like *everything* was pink!

So, with a healthy dose of Maldon Salt (oh come on - I'm over 300 days smoke-free, I've got to be allowed a vice!) I'm very pleased with my meals for today!


What are your absolute go-to diet foods? The ones that help you to feel like you're not depriving yourself!

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Things I have learnt today...

1. Men in white vans really love high heels!
2. Rain in June is super-depressing.
3. Spilling Lucozade down yourself will make your clothes crispy.
So, this is my first remote post using the email function! I hope it
works ok... Off for my singing lesson with lovely Jules - I'm planning
to be American Idol Experience-ready by June!

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Wonderful World of Wedding Blogs

We are in the thick of planning our wedding for August this year - terrifying how quickly it's sneaking up! - and the most useful tool throughout the process has been wedding blogs. In a world where publishers put out one magazine every two months for £5 a pop and more than half-fill them with adverts, the online community hits back and produces something, frankly better!

I stumbled upon this inspiring and heart-warming post on one of my favourite wedding blogs, Love My Dress and thought I'd share some of the sites (and their posts!) that are helping us make our wedding everything we dreamt it would be!

Savvy Chic Weddings - Becca in Wonderland

My dear friend, Steph was kind enough to put together a mood board for me on her wedding blog, which features all the style and sophistication of New England, along with so many excellent tips and hints on how to plan your big day!

Rock My Wedding - Sponsor... Liberty in Love Accessory Boutique

I have been searching high and low for the perfect necklace to complement my gorgeous, low-backed dress, and everything I found was just too flimsy or - let's face it - a little too Ivanka Trump's wedding budget rather than mine! Rock My Wedding introduced me to the gorgeous Liberty in Love website, where I fell head-over-heels for the Hayworth Vintage Necklace *sigh*.


Style Me Pretty

The Big Daddy of all wedding blogs, this American blog has inspiration in buckets - fully searchable, and oh-so-stylish. I couldn't possibly isolate one article, so I've just linked to the lovely Abby's page.


Happy reading!!