Monday, 28 September 2009

Tip 18 - 28 lifetimes in a summer

Tip 18 - Don't over burden your lives with work you don't get paid for

This week I shall be mostly gallery-sitting. Otherwise known in the trade as 'invigilating'. Although I did think that was something people did at school exams. This doesn't feel quite the same but perhaps equally as boring.

Dearest blog followers, many many humble apologies for not having posted over the summer months. It has been a fairly hectic one with Hobbits on school holidays, trips to France and way too much work. Quite frankly I feel that I have aged at least 28 lifetimes over the past 10 weeks.
However, Hobbits are now back ensconced in their relative educational establishments (Medium Hobbit now having moved up to 'big school' or The Holy-land as it ought to be known since he visits on a daily basis still thick in the euphoria of freedoms, variety and being allowed to take mobile phone to school!)

This time of year in sunny Somerset, in which the Hobbit clan reside, it is Artweek! A fortnight (I know, I know report us to trade descriptions why don't you) during which the artists and galleries of said county open their doors and welcome all and sundry to peruse, criticize and hopefully purchase. For 2009 Artweek I agreed to organise and man (or should I say person) a gallery venue at a lovely local conference/cafe complex. Which is what i am currently doing. I am in my second week here and apart from having drunk copious amounts of coffee (thank you for keeping me awake with your wonderful cappuccino!) I wouldn't say it has been the most successful or profitable two weeks of my life. The concept being that I get commission on what I sell. Hmmmm, sounds excellent in principal, but in the current economic climate perhaps not the wisest of deals to have made. I wouldn't say the art is selling like hot cakes, a bit more like tepid porridge.

Oh well, at least it has given me a grand opportunity to partake in one of my favourite hobbies - People Watching! I have been quite staggered to see the variety of people that visit these types of events. And I feel really obliged - Dear Blog Reader - to tell you about some of my favourites.

One common group of art venue visitors is the lesser spotted middle aged lady. Often to be found in small groups, chirruping to themselves as they spend what appears to be hours closely inspecting the works of art but never actually purchasing anything. My particularly favourites (said in the loosest sense of the word) would be a group of three 'ladies' who visited last week and without exchanging any sort of pleasantries with me wandered aimlessly around the gallery for a great length of time commenting in tones of authority on the paintings. Comments including 'Well she's obviously used the wrong sort of paint as it has soaked into the canvas and gone all blurry' about a lovely piece of work by a very renowned Somerset artist known for her soft-focus interpretation of the landscape and also 'This one must have run out of paint because this bit (pokes wildly at canvas) is a bit blank'. Visitors like this I can do without!

A lesser common visitor would be 'The Family'. This to a point is a huge relief because (and I apologise in advance to any families of young children - I have been in this same situation with my boys so can't hardly complain) whenever parents with small children wander in I have some kind of icy cold descend over my heart and I spend the next few minutes, or however long they stay, in a state of constant anxiety. Parents of said young children are usually overheard saying things like 'Charlie, please don't touch that' or 'Rebecca, walk don't run, this is an art gallery you know' but then their attention reverts to the paintings, leaving Charlie and/or Rebecca to run, touch and cause me major heart failure.

Some visitors like to peruse in silence and some love to chat. I enjoy the chatters. Some stop for hours on end and join me for coffee. These ones i like. We indulge ourselves in random topics of conversation from the weather, to music to Brazilian art (of which I know very little). If I had more visitors like that I would very happily while away my days in the gallery. Come visit me more often!!

So here I am, for one more week, hoping to sell lots, earn myself a descent commission and looking forward to enjoying next weeks lay down in a darkened room to recover.

Quick plug for for whom I am working this week. Thank you for all your support in putting together this exhibition. I hope it turns out successful for all of us. So don't forget to come visit me at or visit our sister exhibition at where there are equal amounts of lovely artwork on offer.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Tip 17 - Second voyage to the bright lights!

Tip 17 - Do not underestimate the impact of cosmetic surgery on your social life

Did I ever tell you the story of when I got a new nose? No, well make yourselves comfortable and I'll begin.

The story begins with my second trip to the bright lights of London in a space of two weeks. A bit like buses, I don't go for months and then twice within about 7 days. Unfortunately on the second occasion it was not nearly as much fun as the first (despite the hours of VAT research I did on the last trip - please see previous blog post!) but far more 'life changing'.

Regular blog readers will already have heard all about the process of 'picking' my new nose so I won't bore you with the finer details but pick up from the point at which my pre-surgery preparations were meant to begin. Apparently one week before surgery, 'clients' (they are not called Patients, not sure why) are instructed to cease intake of all alcohol, aspirin, tobacco and other such pleasure in life. I'm by no means an alcoholic but ONE WEEK! Dear God. Nearly managed it!!

The night before the op Hubby Hobbit and I travelled nearer to the big city to stay with Grandad Hobbit. We couldn't possibly travel all the way to in one day living so far away as we do in the proper countryside. We might of got stuck behind a convoy of tractors, or a herd of cows or anything! Stayed the night in the relative comfort of relatives home and ceased intake of anything remotely solid or liquid at midnight.

Travelled on to posh sounding private hospital in the middle of very posh housing area of Highgate! Almost missed said private hospital as it was disguised as a posh house. Once inside it takes on almost tardis qualities and turns into enormous corridor threaded hospital. How they did that I have no idea but found the whole concept quite disconcerting.

Settled into lovely private room whose dimensions were astonishingly larger than dodgy Elephant and Castle hotel room from previous week. Then promptly sat around waiting until 3.30pm (!!!) before lovely nurses escorted me to anesthetic room where I burst into tears. This is not an unusual occurrence since I am utterly petrified of general anesthetics. Random thoughts of not waking up fill my mind and I was only slightly reassured by very odd foreign anaesthetist telling me stories of her own eyelift and liposuction surgery. Do you think staff get a discount? Might have to investigate that!

One and half hours later, battered, bruised and bleeding (sorry!) I was returned to lovely private room and waiting Hubby Hobbit complete with new nose, gorgeous blue plaster cast adorning face and blue padded plaster in slug like proportions hovering intently on upper lip. Mmmm, attractive!!

The first thing that kindly nurses do when you wake up, after offering greatly appreciated sips of cold water (I should tell you that this was the hottest day of the year so far and I had been starved of liquids for nearly 16 hours so had the most horrific dehydration headache on planet earth) is to 'encourage' you to force down extremely cold and nastily margarined toast. I have never quite worked this one out. Why should they do this? Surely ice cream or something equally as tasty would do the job far better. Answers on a postcard please.

Dinner followed but slug like plaster and lack of any taste buds whatsoever really precluded any appetite so didn't bother. Such as shame as private hospital food looks much more appetising than previously suffered NHS offerings!

I really am rambling on here, sorry!

Hubby Hobbit disappeared off home back to Grandad Hobbits and left me, remote control in hand to enjoy the rest of the evening on my own. Fortunately I had been allowed the comfort of a fan as it was extremely hot, to put it mildly. And since I was in central London, on the ground floor with strangely busy pathway alongside my room, I really couldn't leave the window open. I did hear afterwards that said fan was a luxury not allowed to other 'clients' on my corridor. Not sure what I had done to deserve the privilege but I ain't arguing.

My biggest comfort during my stay was, however, my newly acquired Blackberry. Otherwise known as the BB, the Blueberry or 'that bloody annoying buzzy thing', it was my lifeline to the outside world and kept me very well entertained that night and the following morning. I had some lovely messages and Tweets during the following hours and days which kept my spirits up and my sanity in place. I should thank fellow twitterers @Belle_lulu @coffeeplus @Jaxonthepc @PSB_xxx @feline9 @Neets68 for keeping me going and also @wardotron for the unlimited alternatives for the word 'Nose' he managed to come up with over a fortnight period.

Having to stay in the house, grounded, not allowed to drive or indeed not wanting to face the world for the following 7 days was pretty troublesome. Once again my army of lovely friends leapt into the brink delivering Hobbits to various locations and popping in with flowers, chocolate and DVD's to brighten my days.

The day of the grand unveiling arrived only 7 days after surgery and having the plaster cast removed proved to be a head spinning experience. Not from the delight of seeing the new me but more from the physical feint feeling I got when it was removed. They did warn it would happen but being my usual 'I'm made of sterner stuff' self I thought it would be fine. Fine it was not, head between knees and cold water required!

Still it's all over now. Bruising has just about disappeared, nose still slightly swollen, feeling and nasal breathing abilities not entirely returned but progress has been made.

If you're really bad I might just post the evidence!

Monday, 6 July 2009

Tip 16 - London twice in a week!

Tip 16 - Try not to arrange two trips away from the family in the same week (or at least if you do - have lots of lovely friends to pick up the childcare slack)

This blog really picks up from the last one, my train journey to the 'Big Smoke' two weeks ago when I went to the Charityfair conference in Whitehall.

I must confess that although the conference itself was all about finance issues and really productive if a little dull, I did have a fab time in London. There's something fascinating about London, particularly Whitehall area, to us country folk. Apart from the bloody tourists, which we in the West Country are well used to. Having said that, I did enjoy a good giggle watching the random things foreign tourists will take pictues of. I walked past the same red phone box a number of times whilst I was there and on each occasion a completely different set of tourists in vaguely similar poses having requisite photo taken.

Whitehall is full of politician types, PR's, PA's and miscellaneous suited and booted glued to their mobile phones. Being an avid people watcher myself I had a whale of a time sitting in St James Park eating my sarnies at lunchtime. Although could quite happily have done without the groups of school children playing 'tag' or some such ALL AROUND ME!!! Felt like I was in the middle of some strange shrieking and wailing ritual. Peace shattered so back to conference to talk VAT for several hours!! Mmmm, fun.

Returned home following evening on train, just about managed to stay awake all the way home with some sharp arm pinching and digging in of nails. Avoided going all the way to Plymouth which would have proven troublesome at gone midnight. Descended from train into one of the most horrible thunder, lightning and rain storms West Country has seen in a long time. Glad to be home but one of the scariest drives ever.

But I'm going off track a little. The testament to this blog must go to the wonderful women who support this working domestic goddess in her occasional jaunts to business type events. Who tirelessly scoop up small and medium hobbits from school and deposit them in the correct location. And of course to hubby hobbit who rallies, organises, feeds and waters hobbits, bobbit and the feline furries and still rings me to ask if all is well in smoky old 'Town'!

Have completely run out of time for tales of second trip to London of which more will follow tomorrow!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Tip 15 - Country Folk come to the Big Smoke - 1

Tip 15 - Don't get up at 5 am, it's way too early

So here I am stuck on a very early morning train off to London with no wireless (silly British Rail or whatever they call themselves these days) with little else to do until the man comes round with the cups of tea, for which I am desperate, other than to do what I should have done last week and write a lovely new blog piece. Having said that, since I can’t get wireless and am writing this in Word, I have no idea what I was writing when I last blogged so I’m going to go random.

Today’s adventure to the big smoke started way too early for my liking, involving rising from the comfort of my bed at 5 am. For those of you who know me, you will realise that this is not a time of the morning I am entirely used to. I am not known as an early morning person. One shower, one cup of tea, menagerie fed and watered and I hit the road, barely conscious.

Managed to get to the train on time, panic of being late avoided, took my seat and here I am, watching out of the window at the early morning dog walkers with their Dalmatians and Poodles looking on suspiciously at the train as it passes, seeing the enthusiastic joggers pounding the countryside and the delivery drivers getting the world ready for the day ahead.

Blimey, I’m sounding almost poetic! Must be the early morning air, something my body is so unused to it is having some strange allergic reaction. That combined with the slightly sleepy light headedness and lack of caffeine makes for an interesting concept in the morning. Maybe I should do this more often, ummm maybe not.

Going to get my head down for a quick snooze now and return imminently, perhaps with less inspiration and far less vocabulary but that is a risk I am prepared to take.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Tip 14 - Working or Twittering?

Tip 14 - Do I work or do I tweet? This is the question. (sorry that's not a tip today other than to suggest that bloggers perhaps need to be more decisive)

Well, its been a funny week so far.

Readers of earlier posts will know that this long suffering blogger is also a 'mature student', which I think is the polite way of putting it when someone of nearing 40 decides to rekindle their youth and return to university. Having said that, I can hardly say that studying accountancy is rekindling much youth in me. Rather the reverse. It makes me feel jolly old when the 18 year old young lady I sit next to corrects my addition and helps me out when I get stuck.

Anyway, exams are in full flow this week. One down, one tomorrow and last one next Tuesday, by which point I will be utterly frazzled and in need of a good lie down and a stiff gin and tonic or two.

The big question, revising or twittering, revising or twittering. It's a bit like Daddy or Chips? Although I never quite worked out what answer the advertisers wanted us to give in that instance. Anyway, so I have given up on both counts and blogged instead.

Summer holidays are looming and I am dreaming of luxury hotels in Paris. Oh yeah forgot, have kids, perhaps nice caravan half an hour away from the Sacre Coeur instead of overlooking it. But we might venture in to the big city and give the hobbits a taste of french cuisine, although they have made me promise that taste won't involve Snails, Frogs legs or Horse. No fun!!

What else is new. Suddenly and inexplicably have developed a desire to listen again to the music of my formative years. Have had to dig out the old INXS CD and delight in hearing dear old Michael again. I went to see them some years after my teens had well and truly ceased in Birminham, only short months before his tragic demise. I will never forget the evening for two reasons. One, I was pretty pregnant with my first hobbit which necessitated much sitting down during their set and the other was their live rendition of one of my favourite songs 'Never Tear Us Apart'. I can't listen to it now without it envoking memories of an utterly wasted but much enjoyed teenage, inclusive of angst and clearsil.

Perhaps listening to this sort of stuff is only going to remind me how old I am getting. Or maybe I can just close my eyes for a while and drift back to sunny days, cigarettes and alcohol.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Tip 13 - And the birthday party

Tip 13 - It is eminently not sensible for two 6 feet adults to attempt to sleep in a children's pop up day tent!

I must admit that I totally forgot in my last blog to tell you about the events surrounding Hubby Hobbits' best pals 40th birthday party. Having been reminded of events I feel it essential to pass on the details of this spectacular event.

The event in question fell slap bang in the middle of our Devon adventures during half term week but in view of the importance of said event we felt it advisable, nay imperative, that we attend.

I should explain. Birthday boy, Jock, and his lovely lady wife have been friends of mine and Hubby Hobbits' for many years. Since comparing bumps at what was humorously labelled 'Parent craft' classes and following each others lives since the birth of the bumps (which turned out incidentally to be both boys who are now and have been best friends since birth), they remain our best pals and the turning 40 of our friend Jock was not an event that could be missed.

So we hauled ourselves back from the peace of the Devon sunshine in an effort to be a double surprise at the already surprising birthday party. I should say it was even more surprising because Mrs Jock is not renounded for her secret keeping skills. She really wouldn't blame me for saying (and I really hope not.....please don't be offended Mrs Jock if you are reading this!!) but she has been the butt of much joshing over the years for her completely unintended 'putting her foot in it' as far as secrets are concerned. However, in this instance not only did she manage to keep the party and all the massive amounts of organisation it entailed a secret but also planned several other birthday surprises, including the visit of the entire clan from bonny Scotland on his actual birthday, go-carting the day after and rowing down the River Exe the day after the party (more of which later!!). More credit to her! We all feel totally reassured that our secrets are safe with her from now on.

Anyway I digress, Hubby and I arrived at the house, ahead of the main party to spring our surprise on our friend, only to find that unfortunately, unknowing of the party that lay ahead of him, he had already been the pub for 'one or two' with his clan and already slightly worse for wear was rather non plussed at our arrival. Offence wasn't taken.

More guests arrived and the evening wore one. Food and drink consumed in it's usual vast quantities and the summer sun shone.

Now to the crux of the story. Hubby and I had, in our infinite wisdom, decided, having deposited small and medium Hobbit on friendly auntie for the night, that we wouldn't accept Mr & Mrs Jock's kind invitation of a comfortable sitting room floor for our nights accommodation. Oh no, we thought it would be fun (for fun read pure insanity) to camp in their back garden. Fortunately the weather was kind to us. This was in no way any compensation as it turns out.

The only tent we could lay our hands on in our hurry that particular evening was one of the children's 2 man (HA!) play tents. I am sure you are aware of the variety of which I speak.... the kind that two six foot adults really shouldn't attempt to sleep in! But sleep, or attempt to sleep, in it we did. Much alcohol aided the process and turned the entire evening into general hilarity until about 6 in the morning at which time the inside of the tent, which probably isn't designed for actual sleeping in, was condensed up so much that it felt rather like sleeping in a sauna, only colder. In addition, cramp had set in and the possibilities of return to sleep with the birds, chickens and horse all making their presence felt was fairly remote. At this time wisdom took over and we did retire to the generously offered sitting room floor.

A couple of hours later we emerged to face the detritus of the party being professional cleaned up by Mrs Jock who was totally lacking in hangover.

The days activities, rowing or at least floating, down the River Exe ensued. Clan and assorted hangers on took their places in the two or four man boats with requisite reluctance and rowed their way down to the nearest public house where we all took solace for lunch, together with most of the populous of Exeter, it being a lovely sunny day and that is the only thing to do on a day like that.

The return rowing trip back up the river was slightly more ridiculous with several clan members having declined to re board the boats. Their replacements were smaller children with more enthusiasm than actual rowing ability. The members of each boat where adjusted so that Medium Hobbit, Master Jock and their other friend Cap'n Jack (all aged 11 incidentally) could row themselves round in circles for the remainder of the afternoon.

It should be said at this point that I successfully managed not to involve myself in the actual rowing process, choosing to excuse myself by offering to walk Bobbit along to the toe path and laugh in the general direction of the rowers at their efforts.

Birthday events came to a close with Mr & Mrs Jock taking a brief trip, without childer who parked themselves in our spare room for the period, to Cornwall for two days. The sun smiled on them and I believe they had a wonderful time.

All in all.....a classic and well orchestrated 40th birthday event. Mine...when it comes will be spent hiding in a darkened room, avoiding all and every contact with the outside world, continuing to convince myself that I am actually just 19 years old, which is what my brain remains to believe, and not the 40 years old that my body reminds me daily that I have become.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Tip 12 - And the need for a holiday

Tip 12 - When feeling at your most frazzled, take a refreshing holiday

Which is exactly what I did, and a jolly good one it was too. Went to Devon, lay around in the wonderful, and slightly surprising, half term sunshine, drank white wine at lunchtime, let the kids and the dog run riot and generally 'chilled out' with Hubby Hobbit and the smaller Hobbits.

Having not been on holiday with Bobbit before I was slightly concerned that having him around might restrict and frustrate our usual holiday routine but I am pleased to say that, typical Labrador that he is, show him the sea, a river or even a puddle and he is happy which kept him entertained for most of the week. The only minor cause for disturbance came when we attempted to take him to Exmouth Festival along with several thousand other people, mostly with dogs, at which point he thought he had gone to doggy sniffing heaven and pulled and pushed us around on the lead for more than an hour before we gave up and went to the solace of the caravan and the pool.

All in all the holiday was a grand success and I have returned, refreshed, invigorated and determined to work harder over the coming weeks.

This week has been pretty successful on the whole. Caught up with lots of work, of the boring but fairly well paid variety, and had a very good meeting with Lulu during which we got really focused on the business. If you didn't already know Lulu and I had this notion of working together, pooling our skills and those of other working mums with fantastic business skills but the lack of anyone who would give them a part time job for a decent wage, and forming a company providing business administration services.

We are pretty intent on this business which, if you know either of us, is a pretty startling achievement. Normally together we end up drinking coffee, twittering across the desk to each other and discussing the merits of various child restraining tools such as good old fashioned television, slightly more modern 'Club Penguin' (yes I know, it sooooo 2008!) and the newest variety of children entertainment... 'Go tidy your room and I'll give you a pound' which I find works wonders with mine.

Anyway I digress, Lulu and I finally completed the first version of the website (if you are interested in our new business activities please visit - I know, I know shameless self promotion but if I don't do it who will?) and thrashed out the business and marketing plans as well as putting dates in the diaries for a mountain of meetings. The business is coming on really well, we have our first clients already and are slowly getting our name around. It's amazing how dedicated we can be when required. I think it's maybe because we both really want this to work and are incredibly motivated people.

So if anyone knows of an organisation which needs business assistance you now know who to send them to.....(self promotion over now, I promise)

Other news from the Hobbit front.....

The now testicularly challenged Bobbit has finally stopped attempting to make babies with random assorted bits of furniture and Hobbit legs. This has come as quite some relief and I am slowly recovering from the bruises he inflicted in his more rampant moments!

Small and Medium Hobbits managed to survive their holidays without killing each other and have returned home with renewed determination and staggering creativity in the nature of implements in their assassination attempts. New to the top 10 this week would be the TV remote control, a school bag and the dog, although I think that one has been in the top 10 before and has just made a reentry this week following a blood thirsty episode on the trampoline.

Countdown has now begun to the grand Nose Job!! (please read Tip no 10: if you want to find out more) I would give this it's more technical term but its pretty gruesome I don't want to put you off your dinner! The op is scheduled for 30th June so maybe nearer the time I will be posting some 'Before' pictures so that after the op and recover I can post 'After' ones and you can all give me your professional opinions. Nice comments only please though....

Have spent this morning de-griming the house and so am planning to take Bobbit and assorted Hobbits off for lazy walk this afternoon, as long has it doesn't rain. After the minor blip during half term we appear to be back to the more traditional British summer with cloud coverage and rain imminent.

PS If anyone has any tips for how to make small males keep their bedrooms tidy I would be very pleased to hear them. Mine seem to be completely lacking in any skill in this department and I would be delighted if I could achieve even a small measure of success. Full acknowledgement will be made in the blog for successful tip-pery.