30 September 2011

Oh Dear.

I have problems with my hips, knees and ankles.
Nothing major but joint problems that can crap at times but I count myself among the lucky ones because it could be a lot worse. Some days I have to accept that rest is the only way to beat things and other days, I think 'sod it' and make my legs accept that there is a life I want to live and to belt up with their whingeing :-P

I was round my mum and stepdad's the other day for the evening and there was a family friend staying as well. This family friend is lovely and is pretty much a family member which is why I didn't blow my top when she came out with what she did.

The conversation came round to the boyfriend and how things were going quite well when this friend piped up with the following comment.

"Before you two started seeing each other it crossed my mind to introduce you to this lovely guy I know. He's got a lovely personality and the other thing is, he's thalidomide so you'd have something in common too and get on."

It was a 'did I just hear that right?' moment for me and I was a bit blindsided. This friend had had a couple of glasses of wine so maybe it makes sense to a person who is a bit tipsy but I have to say, even in my tipsy moments I've never thought "I know, the next person I meet needs to have issues too because then we'll get on!"

My reply was basically "Yes. If things don't work out then all I'll have to do is find somebody who also has joint issues and everything will be just dandy" *raised eyebrow*.

My issues don't define me. I am me and they are they are in the background rather than them being me with my personality in the background.
I don't bring it up unless people ask. I don't play on it. I don't miss out on things I know I can do and least of all do I consider myself disabled in the true sense of the word.

I've been told not to wear heels because the wear on my joints is not good.
I'm not going to stop wearing heels once in a while just because I'm a bit sore in my ankles the next day.

I've been told riding is a risk I should not take.
Crossing the road is a risk, it doesn't mean I don't do it.

I've been told that dancing the night away with my sister and stumbling in giggly and slightly drunk at 6am the next morning is not the wisest idea.
Not making the most of life is not the wisest idea so guess what? My late nights and early morning taxi rides home will continue until I reach the age where it is no longer acceptable.
Then I'll be a lady who lunches and enjoys sophisticated bars :-D.

I've been told that by the age of 18, I'd be wheelchair bound and to accept it.
Errr, no.
For as long as there is breath in my body that won't happen and no matter how many operations I need to prevent it, that will not change.

Life will not pass me by for the sake of a bit of pain here and there and the odd lecture from my consultant. He can lecture me all he likes, until he tells me that there could be serious consequences I will not change.
I'm not stupid, I don't take massively unecessary risks but I am buggered if I am going to look back on my life and think "I could have done more and enjoyed myself more. Why did I not do it?".

To anyone walking past me in the street it is not noticeable that I have problems which I am very thankful for because I refuse to be defined as 'the girl with the dodgy joints. Poor thing' but more 'the girl who is a bit of a muppet but does as she pleases and makes the most of life'.

By this friend's rationale then all black people should be together so they have something in common.
All short people should only be with other short people so they understand each other.
All blind people should only date other blind people because then they'll be sure to agree on everything.
Possibly a point when it comes to tea-drinkers, they should all be put in a big box and banished to the ends of the earth with their awful taste in hot beverages thrown after them :-P ;-P.

Possibly one of the best-intentioned but most insulting things I've ever had said to me.






27 September 2011

Win.



I have beaten Amazon and I am so proud of myself!


Two days ago my mp3 player decided to randomly switch itself off and remain off. Each time I went to switch it on, the screen stayed blank and the back heated up. This said very bad things to me and guttingly, when I checked the warranty it had expired two weeks ago. Sods Law!

After asking around a few friends as to what the problem might be, getting in touch with Creative Zen's customer services (crap. They seemed to think my problem was having trouble loading music on to it even though I explained the problem in three different emails in a step-by-step way that a six year old could have understood) and tracking down a techy friend of mine the general consensus was that my poor mp3 player was buggered. It's only just over a year old and shouldn't have given up the ghost so easily for the brand it is and the £80 it cost me to buy.

I was pretty peeved and had almost resigned myself to having to listen in excrutiating detail exactly what Chantelle and Wayne had got up to last Friday and being exposed to a wide range of sweary words that just aren't needed when my lovely techy friend informed me of this piece of legislation - 1999/44/EC.

After reading it thoroughly and properly, I prepared myself for battle with Amazon and this is how the conversation went:

Amazon Customer Service: Good afternoon madam, how may I help you today?

GND: Just over a year ago I bought an mp3 player from you and it has recently died and I don't feel this is reasonable considering the age, brand and cost of the mp3 player and the normal use it has had.

A.C.S: I am sorry madam but in this instance we are unable to help as it is beyond our one year warranty.

GND: Yes I realise that but I have in front of me the legislation 1999/44/EC that states I am entitled under EU ruling to have any electrical goods I purchase to be covered for two years.

A.C.S: I'm sorry madam that is incorrect and we can't help you.

GND: I'm sorry, I'm not willing to accept that as a reasonable answer, I think you can help me. It says in this legislation that if the seller is in the EU and the electrical goods are new and used under normal usage that I am entitled to an exchange, refund or replacement.

A.C.S: Madam, I have already told you we can't help you.

GND: In that case, could I speak to your management please?

GND gets placed on hold

Amazon Management: Good afternoon madam, what appears to be the problem?

GND: Hi, I don't know if you're aware of my issue but I would like a refund, replacement or repair of my mp3 player.

A.M: Madam it is out of the one year warranty and we cannot help you.

GND: Yes, this is what I was told earlier. I don't consider that a reasonable response as this is a law. Are you telling me that as a multi-million pound organisation you are willing to break the law of the country you are selling in? In this case, the U.K?

A.M: No madam but that isn't the issue here.

GND: I am afraid to say it is. Amazon UK is a selling in the UK. The UK is part of the EU. I am a UK citizen so therefore I am protected under EU ruling and this particular legislation states that I am entitled to a refund, repair or replacement from yourselves.

A.M: The mp3 player bought is out of stock now so we cannot replace.

GND: I am aware of that and I am happy for a refund or replacement.

A.M: I am sorry we can't do that. Is there anything else I can help you with?

GND: Yes. I would like your full name, the department you work in and a reference number for this telephone call. I would also like the full name and the department that the lady I spoke to earlier works in. I would also like the full name and address of Amazon's Customer Complaints department and if you've got it, the contact number and address for Watchdog UK and Trading Standards.

A.M: Slight pause. Madam, in this instance and as a gesture of our goodwill to you we would be happy to arrange a refund and courier collection of your damaged mp3 player. Please hold the line while I arrange for an email to be sent out to you detailing this and so that I can confirm you have received it.

GND: Thank you very much, that is most helpful of you.

A.M: *sarcasm* Is there anything else I can help you with madam?

GND: Yes please. I'd still like your and your colleague's full name and department you both work in should any future problems arise regarding this.

A.M: *extremely sarcastic reply of names and departments and a 'goodbye madam and have a wonderful day'*.
I'm fairly certain by this point that her wish of a wonderful day for me would be to end up with a bucket of paint tipped over my head and for a plague of locusts to be cursed on me!

Another good thing? On Amazon's customer service help page on their website, they call you and due to the way my mobile phone tarriff works, thanks to them I have an additional 65 minutes of credit. That was the total length of the call but oh my, it was 65 minutes well spent!




21 September 2011

Strike a Pose.


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I have some great friends in my life. I like to be the sort of friend I'd want to have and seem to have had that repaid by having a small but brilliant group of friends. I am known amongst my friends for being a listener and someone who can be trusted with secrets which I think is a trust to be valued and also somebody who can be relied upon for favours if they are needed.

Friends who know me will know I will avoid the camera lens at all costs. I am not a wallflower by anyone's standards but I really don't like the blatant posing a camera demands a lot of the time. When one of my very best friend's approached me last week asking a 'favour' of me, I wanted to know what the favour involved because I am wary of saying an outright 'yes' to favours without knowing what they entail. My friend duly explained what the favour would be and what it would involve and I have to say, I am in two minds.

He is a photography student and is doing something on his course that demands a certain style of photograph and his idea was to ask me if I'd pose in some corsets and burlesque type wear. He knows I have some fab corsets because he's been out with friends with me when I've been wearing them. He also knows I have a few pairs of the lace-up Victorian style boots, two tailcoats, a couple of velvet jackets, everything bar a top hat (I am saving for one but they are expensive) and apparently he can get his hands on one of those.
It isn't often at all that I am a bit speechless but I was on this occasion. I was assured by him they would be tasteful shots in black and white or sepia tones and classy shots.

I have spoken to the boyfriend about this who doesn't have a problem with it if I want to do it but that's where the problem is because although on the one hand it would be nice to have some proper photos that are well taken, classy and just something different, on the other hand it means posing in front of a camera and a friend in what is essentially underwear because he wants to go for the whole Victorian Lady/Burlesque look of suspender knickers (black satin briefs with proper inch-wide suspender straps so nothing that will be see-through once a camera zooms in!) stockings, boots, corset, coat and top hat.
It's hard enough to get me in a birthday picture. He wants the whole get-up and this is where I begin to get jittery because wearing a corset out with jeans and boots is not like parading around in your knickers and heels in one.

I do like the idea but I just don't know how I'd switch off from a lense zooming in on me. Anyway, he is going to show me where he wants the pictures taken which will be a studio and one outside location (private thank goodness!).

I am debating at the moment as I still have some thinking time but I am not a model, in build or confidence really.

To give me a bit of courage he has emailed me some sample shots of the sort of look he wants to go for and these are the ones I was sent:

This one is okay. In shadow and not giving away too much.

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This is also okay but not sure about the bum because these pictures will be going up in an exhibition at the college he is studying at.

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This is borderline and I don't really have the length of leg she does either!

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This is also quite nice. I particularly like the side-on shot though.

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If I do say yes and agree to do it he will owe me a bottle each of Jack Daniels and Pimms.

The large sizes!



18 September 2011

Horsing Around.

A friend and I went to Gatcombe yesterday for the Hunter Trials that were on there. It is known as 'Little Gatcombe' as it attracts all the big names but is much less busy and crowded than the main Gatcombe three day event. The weather was wonderful, sunny but with a slight breeze and lovely blue skies.

I am rather jealous of my friend as he managed to get some fab videos on his video camera. Certainly better than my photographs although I did get some beauties which I am pleased with. It did help that so many of the horses were so photogenic. We were lucky enough to be able to take in some great views and get an idea of the jumps on the cross country course because it is so much quieter than the official Gatcombe 3 day event that we got to walk round the cross country course :o).

I was in charge of sorting the food out and apparently, I am the Grand Master (Mistress?) at doing picnics!
My friend was shocked at how much I'd managed to pack and his words on opening were
"Nothing else to say except you are brilliant. Just bloody brilliant!".
It's a shame he then had to go and ruin by offering to get me a coffee and coming back with what I suspected was gnat's pee weak and pale coffee. It was only when I went to take a sip that an unfamiliar but disgusting smell hit my nostrils. My git of a friend decided he'd try and trick me in to drinking his tea and quietly videoing the reaction!
Luckily I didn't take a sip but that didn't stop him laughing at my disgust that he'd even think of doing that to me. In case you are in any doubt, I cannot stand tea. It is a vile thing to drink and my friend cannot understand my violent hate of the stuff. He would have understood if I'd been stupid enough to take a mouthful because it would have ended up being spat all over his shoes because I certainly would not have swallowed it. Disgusting stuff!


Anyway, here are a small selection of the 100-odd photographs I took, far more than I thought I'd taken! My estimate was about 30 photographs and it was only when I got home and loaded them on to my laptop that I saw there were 136 of them!


I was metres away from this lovely horse and rider when they came galloping past. They were a sight to behold.

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I absolutely love this photograph because although the sun is shining on horse and rider, the moody sky in the background just adds that something extra to the photograph.

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This grey was lovely and the juming style he had was absolutely fluid as you can see from this photograph.

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This photograph is one of the best I took I think. I love how by sheer luck, I managed to capture them both over the jump at the exact perfect second :o).

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All in all it was a fantastic day but tiring. After being up at 6.30am and out of the door by 9am, I then didn't get back until almost 8pm and had been walking around a fair bit during the day. Luckily my friend has an estate car so managed to park by the showjumping ring so we could sit in the boot and watch the showjumping from the ringside in comfort.




16 September 2011

Deafening Silence.


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As well as writing this blog, I read a few others. There are posts that have made me think differently, posts that have made me laugh, posts that have made me grateful for what I have and posts that have made me grateful that I've never been in the position of the person writing it. There are also a very small number of posts that have stuck in my head and brought a whole mix of emotions to the surface as I've read them.


This is one of those posts that made me think the latter.

For every one of you reading this who have sat back and spewed forth about how the police don't do their jobs properly, should do that, should put up and shut up, should get on with what they're paid for, should take it on the chin, should accept that being spoken to like something on the bottom of someone's shoe is part of the job, should be grateful they have a job, should stop being jobsworths, should stop this, that and the other and do more for their wage.
Those who think the police are there purely to be your mediator between petty squabbles.

Read the link above and think.
Think bloody hard about what you would have done and how you would have handled it. Because do you know what? Those who spout empty words about should have, could have and would have are probably the ones who wouldn't have the first clue about what to do in that situation except point at somebody else and demand help.


To those that do face these sorts of situations, 'thank you' seems an incredibly glib thing to say.


'It's not as simple as
How much you think you care
You would never know
When to take the hint
Broken glass aside
My feelings stay the same
Covered head to toe
In blood and fear and spite'.




15 September 2011

Rubbernecking.

For me to get anywhere from my flat I have to walk up a main-ish road. It's the main route in to and out of Gloucestershire. One way is in to town and the racecourse and beyond that, countryside and the other direction is out to Gloucestershire and beyond.

I was mooching along in my own world a bit last week and due to the time of day, the traffic was going at a bit of a snail's pace when all of a sudden, I became aware of a white van passing me. The reason I was so aware is because the man that was in the passenger side had his head looking at me as he was going past and as the van moved ahead of me, he swivelled his head so quick to look at me and smile that I am surprised it did not roll off his shoulders!

I know he was looking at me because I was the only one on the path at the time and the comment of "It's not often the front view matches up to a back view like that love!" as he stopped in the traffic gave it away somewhat.

I blushed. A lot. Even more so when I got to the crossing and who should be waiting at the lights but white van man himself with a smile and a wink as I checked the traffic had actually stopped.

I do not consider myself anything out of the ordinary. I have a nice figure and a nice face but nothing extraordinary but although this particular episode embarrassed me and made me laugh a bit, it also boosted my confidence slightly.
However, I don't know if this whole thing was down to the jeans I had on or whether this particular white van man was on his way to Specsavers ;o).

I have a friend who gets very offended at this sort of thing and sees it as men viewing women as objects. I don't have the same problem, so long as nothing offensive is said I consider it light-hearted fun.
It's a pity when I told her that she said I should have got the number from his van and reported him to his boss.
I am considering 'losing' this particular friend :-P. She needs to lighten up.

It made me laugh and brightened my afternoon a bit so I fail to see the problem :o).

13 September 2011

James.


I am a huge fan of James. I think they are a criminally under-appreciated band and unfortunately, got steamrollered out of the way by the likes of Oasis and similar. Although Oasis are good, they are not the calibre of James.


I am lucky enough to be going to see James in November. They are doing a run of performances with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Whether this is going to be a genius collaboration or not remains to be seen but personally, my thoughts are the former rather than the latter. The mark of a good band is when they are better live than they are recorded and James live up to this an more.

Here is one of my favourites.






9 September 2011

What Does Blogging Do For You?




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I suppose there are many answers to this question.
Personally, I blog as an outlet for stress, because I want to talk, because I enjoy reading what others have to say and I enjoy the comments I receive on my own blog.
Because news items interest me and invoke a strong opinion in me, I blog about the good times and I blog about the bad times. There are many readers who still comment here from the day I first started blogging.
There are new readers and comments appearing all the time.
I have seen favourite blogs
fade away and others grow from an acorn to an oak.

For me blogging is cathartic. I am nowhere near good enough to be a published writer but this little blog is my own world in which to write whatever I feel the need to and for the past four years that is exactly what I have done. Nobody is obliged to read it and if they do, they're certainly not obliged to comment but I have to say, comments are one of my favourite parts of blogging. It is good to hear others point of view and just the general interaction of funny, sad, happy, amusing and kind-hearted comments.

I have had many kind comments, many funny and amusing comments, many cheeky comments and the odd troll post (you know you've really arrived when you bring the trolls out of the ether). I've had emails of support, of questions, of genuine concern and of general friendly chatter.

After finding out and going through a particularly bad patch last year, a certain blogger (who shall remain nameless as he still has an active blog) left a comment for me that made me smile and lifted me a little from the depths of despair that I was feeling at the time.
When you think you are happy and your world comes crashing down around you, the smallest nice comment can raise you up a little.


That comment lead to an email pinging in to my inbox and after a couple of days thought, I replied. I didn't expect to get a reply or if I did, expected it to be the only one but to my surprise, each reply I sent gained another in return.

Eventually, after a couple of months of emailing, I took the decision to include my mobile number at the bottom of one email. At this point I really didn't expect to hear more, thinking this fellow blogger would realise he'd got in a bit too deep or put across his point wrongly but another surprise awaited me because the next day, I received a text from a number I did not recognise. Just a nice, friendly and sweet text.

After a week or so, the text lead to a phonecall. Just a short phonecall to say hello and have a quick chat. The general consensus was that I thought he sounded like a Northern Monkey and he thought I sounded like a Privately Educated Home Counties Darling!

There followed further texts and the odd phonecall, not as many as I'd like but the excuse was that he couldn't understand my Southern accent (the cheek!).

Eventually, after almost four months of emailing, texting and calling, a day was decided on for us to finally meet. There was still a lurking doubt in my mind that this apparently sweet and genuinely caring man may actually turn out to be an axe-murdering maniac and so I made it clear that the only place I was willing to meet was in a Tesco cafe.
Nobody can say I don't do things by the book! ;o)


To my surprise, the conversation flowed and there was a mutual attraction. He indeed came out with some rather cringy chat-up lines involving the words 'beautiful' 'stunning' 'exactly what I imagined' but his heart was in the right place.

We had a novel first date of which I'm not too sure I'll go in to more details other than it involved countryside, farm animals and a guadruple-horned goat!

More dates followed, not as often as either of us would like considering his shifts and the distance between us.
For a man to come off nights, sleep for an adequate amount of time and then travel a 350 mile round trip to see you makes you realise that what in the past appeared as effort made by others, pales in comparison to this.


He's been fortunate enough to not only meet my lovely dog but my gorgeous horse as well.
The view on him trying riding, just once, is a firm "
No. What if I end up like Christopher Reeve?"
All my protestations that this is highly unlikely fall on extremely deaf ears sadly.

The small gestures that really mean a lot did not wane although thankfully, the cringy chat-up lines did but nobody can say he didn't try!

Almost eleven months later, he decided I was nice enough to move in with and to ask to be stationed nearer to. I think it is safe to say he has shown his commitment.

Serious Grown-Up Stuff has been discussed but neither of us are in any great rush.

For now, we're both happy as we are and I can't really ask for more*.

So, that was the very unexpected but nice surprise blogging has brought me. This is a warning to all, be careful who you reply to on your blog comments because you never know where it might lead!



*He is still a pain in the arse. I could still quite happily tear his head off some days and he always likes to be in the right (even though he very rarely is!). He has made me despair, scream and collapse in giggles but he is only a man.
And no man is perfect.



However, most women are but that is another post for another day ;o)




8 September 2011

Arty.

My arty side is something that hasn't been seen on this blog. Considering I've been writing this blog for four years (four years!) now then I'm surprised that I haven't mentioned it properly as I draw a lot when I am in the right frame of mind to do so.

Although my flat isn't large, it does have a spacious living room that needs a few pictures to break up the starkness of the walls. I have settled on the Shabby Chic/Country Vintage style to decorate the flat in. Another post for another day will be all of my bargain finds for the flat on a tight budget, including a lovely etched vintage mirror on a chain for £2.99 from a local charity shop! As soon as I have batteries for my digital camera then my fellow girly bloggers will have some lovely pictures to look at here :o).
Anyway, back to the art.... As I am decorating in the vintage style then I quite liked the idea of a drawing of mine to go on one wall to add that personal touch. I don't profess to be the next big thing in the art world by any means, I draw for me because it makes me happy and I enjoy it. I have drawn pictures for friends before but am not good enough to make a living from it and find I need to be in a precise sort of mood to be able to allow the drawing to flow from my eyes, to my hands and down the pencil on to the paper. That is why it is purely a hobby.

However, this is the drawing I did for the living room and it is the first proper drawing I have done for a good year or so. Probably nearer two years. There are lots of little bits that I can see are wrong to my eye, mostly the shading on the underside of the neck that was difficult to get right as it was a very heavy shadow in the photograph and it really did look quite 'blocky' in the original photograph.

Having said that, I am pleased with the eyes, ears, muzzle and mane as they are all quite fiddly to do. Particularly the eyes as they are tend to be a big focus point of any drawing and the key to making a subject come alive on the paper :o).



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It's no Stubbs but I am quite pleased with it all the same. Wanted to tweak the neck detail a bit more and the ears were difficult to get depth at the base without ruining the drawing completely. This wasn't helped by the fact that it was a foal I was drawing and this foal was halfway through shedding it's baby coat and growing it's adult coat so it was difficult to get the depth and shade of the fluffy and almost textureless baby coat to blend in with the smooth, short texture of the adult coat. I'm not sure that has made too much sense but hopefully you understand what I mean :o).

Constructive crticism is always welcome but please be gentle!


3 September 2011

Mine! All Mine!

Regular readers of this blog will know I am a terrible corset and lingerie addict. I don't have an underwear drawer, I have an underwear chest of drawers.... I refuse to wear cheap and nasty nylon-type underwear so a lot of it is silk or similar.



Regular readers will also know that almost since this blog began, I have been hankering after the Emerald Green corset pictured in my sidebar. The problem is, that particular corset was almost £400 and was a limited edition so it was out of my reach. I was very particular about the style I wanted, the shade of green and the fact it had to be a proper corset and not just simply a corset-style top that is useless when it comes to shaping your body. I wanted steel boning, a waist-tape and a heavy cotton-drill lining to help with the support and shaping I would get from it. It also had to be affordable.

Well, here it is :o). Finally, it is mine!

Front of my beautiful corset.

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Back of my beautiful corset.

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Picture of the inner lining, complete with modesty panels both front and back. I hate it when corsets don't have modesty panels. It just doesn't look right in my opinion. The waist tape provides additional support and shaping and gives strength on the pressure points of the material when the corset is laced up.

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Detachable suspenders. I hate it when corsets come without the option to detach suspenders. I've had to cut them off before now and sew in a little loop to enable detachable ones to be added.

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It is safe to say that I adore my new corset :o). I just have to find somewhere to wear it now and show it off! :o).