Monday, 30 June 2014

Childhood Memories: Not Always Worth Revisiting

Blackpool is "the UK's most popular seaside resort", and I remember visiting a number of times as a child. It was always kind of tacky and touristy, but held a certain charm and I always had fun. In fact, here's an old photo of me, my BFF, and my BFF's younger brother posing in front of the tower. Do you love my black shoes/white socks combo, and scrunched up face?
I always loved visiting the Pleasure Beach. Even when I was too scaredy cat to actually go on anything more adventurous than the carousel, I enjoyed having a wander around with my parents and would always beg them for some 2 pence pieces to put in the slot machines. Oh how I loved the slot machines!

I also visited a few times in my late teens and early 20s, when I was no longer a scaredy cat and would brave any ride that the Pleasure Beach wanted to throw at me. Boy had only been to Blackpool once in his life, and he had a broken arm at the time so didn't get to go on anything - and this fact has made me a little sad for him for the entire seven years of our relationship. So, now that we have our lovely car, we decided that this weekend we'd make the trip. I booked a nice cheap and cheerful B&B to stay in on Saturday night, and away we went!

Blackpool Pleasure Beach
I'd had an email from Blackpool Pleasure Beach with a discount code in for pre-booking wristbands, so instead of paying £29.99 each we paid £17. These days, you have to pay to enter the park even if you don't intend to go on anything, and there are security checks at the entrance. Also, pre-booking wristbands doesn't save you any time as you still have to queue with everyone else; there's no special line for collections.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Once we were inside, we quickly realised that BPB just doesn't quite cut it when compared with the modern standard of theme parks. My initial reaction was that it wasn't what it once was, but after thinking about it a little longer, I realised it's the opposite: it's exactly what it once was. Only more expensive and run down. Since my last visit, which must have been about 10 years ago, there have been very few changes. In some ways, that's nice - I got to ride most of my old favourites once again. But the park would definitely benefit from having direction signs and wait times displayed. Little things that seem to be present in any other theme park across the world are noticeably absent here - and we heard so many people mention it over the course of the day.

One of my absolute favourite rides at BPB is Valhalla. This was a must-do, even though it was quite a cool, cloudy day. The signs near the entrance state "You will get wet... You may get soaked" and they're not wrong! We did get pretty darned wet! Had it been a nice sunny day we would probably have gone on it more times, but one soaking was enough.
Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Probably the most famous ride at BPB is The Big One. When it first opened, it was the tallest and steepest rollercoaster in the world. 20 years on, it no longer holds those records - but everyone who visits BPB and is rollercoaster inclined wants to go on it. We queued for, oooh, ages, and we got right to the front of the line and even in the gate for the front seats... and the train approaching the station stopped. The other train that had just left the station (that we had just missed out on seats on) was nowhere to be seen from where we were. We continued to wait for another 20 minutes or so, until they announced that they were closing the ride. On one hand, we were disappointed to have missed out on riding it... but on the other hand, we were glad not to have just squeezed on to that last train out of the station - especially as on our way out we could see that it was stuck on the first climb and staff were having to help people walk down. By way of compensation, we were given a speedy pass to use on any ride of our choice, which we thought was a nice gesture.
The Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
At this point, we decided to get something to eat. The first place we happened upon was called Coasters, and I managed to bag us a table in the window that was made from an old waltzer car. I decided on chicken fajitas, and Boy went for beef burritos. I must admit, we were a little disappointed to be presented with this:
Not even a full tortilla wrap in there! Still, we ate it up - it wasn't awful, but it also wasn't very good - and got back to going on the rides. The Big One didn't reopen for the rest of the day, but we did manage to get on all the other coasters. One in particular stood out - Infusion - which is more recent than my last visit. This is a steel inverted rollercoaster, along the same lines as Nemesis at Alton Towers and Dragon Challenge at Universal Islands of Adventure, and is suspended entirely over water. When we were sitting waiting for it to start, I (rather foolishly, in hindsight) asked Boy if he felt like the rides were all tame after everything we'd gone on in Orlando - and he said yes. And then Infusion turned out to be pretty effing fast and vicious!

Overall, although we had a good time at BPB we agreed that if we'd paid full price we would have felt rather short-changed. The value for money just isn't great, and neither are the standards for the modern age. It really was like stepping into past, and paying a hefty price for doing so. I haven't even mentioned the cost of parking - Blackpool Council must be making an absolute fortune there! I don't think we'll be going back in a hurry. Or maybe ever.

On Sunday morning, before heading home we had a drive up the promenade to see the tower and the piers.
For some reason, the weather had obviously decided to play nice on Sunday morning - lots of blue sky and sunshine. It made Blackpool look that little bit nicer, but I am so glad we didn't venture out on Saturday night to see the state of it then. Blackpool is something of a Mecca for stag and hen parties, and general drunkenness - we were rudely awoken in the early hours by a couple in the room next to us having one hell of an argument which went on for hours, and it was obviously partly caused by alcohol.

This last picture is one I took as were getting near home. I've been wanting to visit this castle since I moved up here, but because it's not easy to get to without a car we haven't made it there yet. I'm sure we will soon though!
Raby Castle

How was your weekend?

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Thursday, 26 June 2014

We Are Not "So Lucky"

I've mentioned that Boy and I have decided that, this year, we're planning on having a Christmas to ourselves. No families, no obligations... Heck, no turkey and Brussels sprouts if we feel that way out (although I'm not sure how I feel about sacrificing Brussels sprouts. I love them)

The only way we can be sure of having a Christmas to ourselves is to be a long, long, long way away. We could try to stay at home and barricade ourselves in, but there would be sure to be some sort of "emergency" and that would be our plans ruined. So our plan is to go to Las Vegas for Christmas, and to New York for new year and Boy's birthday.

We've mentioned this to a few people, and we've had similar sort of responses. "That sounds amazing", "I'm so jealous", and my personal favourite "you're so lucky".

We are NOT "so lucky".

Luck has nothing to do with this. Luck isn't paying for our flights, accommodation and spending money. This will be expensive. But, unfortunately, it's something we feel the need to do.

How do you explain to people that Christmas is really tough to get through, never mind enjoy, when it's "all about the kids" and all you want is to have a child, and you can't? How do you make people realise that the constant reminders that, for another year, you have failed to reproduce, cut right through you over and over again?

How do you tell people that, had things worked out differently, you would be spending this Christmas and New Year counting down the last few days to your due date? That at the beginning of the year you were hopeful that your IVF cycle would make all your dreams come true, and that your days of wondering whether you'd ever have a baby to celebrate a first Christmas with were finally coming to an end?

How do you explain that this trip isn't a way of showing off, being indulgent, or trying to one-up others - it's a way of escaping the constant reminders, comments, and heartbreak? How do you describe the feeling of someone making insensitive comments to you, smashing and tearing your heart into tiny pieces, especially when that someone is a person you have confided in about what's really going on with you? How do you let people know that the truth is you'd much prefer not to have the option of travelling, of being thousands of miles from home; you'd give anything to be spending Christmas at home nursing your 38 weeks pregnant belly, putting your feet up because your ankles are swollen and complaining of sciatica?

We are not "so lucky". We are the exact opposite. And that's why we want to spend the holidays this year as far removed from reality as we possibly can.

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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Humpday Confessions

Some days, a little confession session is good for the soul. Or something like that. I've been meaning to link up with Kathy for, oh, I dunno, ages... And I'm finally getting to do it!

Vodka and Soda
So today, I would like to confess...

...I've been at work for 3.5 hours now, and spent maybe 30 minutes of that doing legit work stuff. There's hardly anybody in today, and most of the stuff I do need to do requires input from people that aren't here, so what am I supposed to do about that?

...I am struggling to think about anything else other than our plans to visit Las Vegas and New York over Christmas and New Year. I've barely even done any planning for Paris over the last couple of weeks, and it's only 6 weeks until we go.

...I am seriously considering bumping Luis Suarez up to the top spot on my "Footballers I Can't Stand" list. He's been at number 2 for quite a while, and the number 1 guy has held that position for even longer... But after his 2 goals against England, and the whole biting incident yesterday that preceded the goal that knocked Italy out (I had Italy in the work sweepstake, so there goes my chance at winning £50!) he's making a real case for himself to be promoted.

...speaking of the World Cup, my fantasy team has been diabolical. I obviously didn't put enough thought into picking my players.

...Series 2 of Nashville is really close to ending over here, and I'm really sad about it. I adore Nashville. It's not like there's no other TV I like to fill my time, but still... Sad face.

What are you confessing this week?

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Monday, 23 June 2014

That Was A Wicked Weekend!

Can you believe it’s Monday already? I sure can’t! This weekend has flown – but I guess that’s what happens when you have a jam-packed weekend full of fun, fun, fun!

Saturday was my mum’s birthday, so a few months ago when I noticed that Wicked was touring and would be in the city near where she lives on her birthday, it seemed like it was obviously meant to be that we would go. And so go we did. And it was amazing!

I only took one photo all day, because obviously you can’t take photos during the performance, and for the rest of the day while we were wandering round Leeds it just didn’t occur to me to try to take pictures. Even though the city centre has changed quite considerably since I moved away, I was too busy spending quality time with my mum. I didn’t even take any pictures of our meals!

It’s quite some time since I read the novel of Wicked that the musical is based on, but I still remembered it well enough to know that some details had been changed. In case you don’t know, I get awfully picky about adaptations from books and don’t always take it well when things are done differently! But I have to say, I really enjoyed it and I would definitely go see it again, should the opportunity present itself!

On Sunday I had another book adaptation kind of a day, as I went to see The Fault in Our Stars with Nicola. I’d been putting off reading it for quite a while, because after reading reviews on it on various blogs I was worried about being that weird girl on the train sobbing into her book – let’s face it, that’s never a good look. But when Jamie told me it was only sad near the end, and Nicola and I decided we’d go to see it, I knew I had to get over it and get it read. So I did, last weekend, in less than 24 hours. Much less.

Nicola and I have a very similar outlook on adaptations that stray from the original novel, but we both agreed that TFIOS stayed very true to the book and they did it really well. I don’t think there was one person in the cinema that kept it together. I’m glad we weren’t disappointed... Especially after we almost didn’t get to see it because whoever was in charge of pressing “play” in the cinema clearly forgot to do so, until someone went and reminded them 20 minutes later...!

Have you seen or read Wicked or The Fault in Our Stars? What did you think?

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Friday, 20 June 2014

It's Finally Friday!

I am SO happy Friday is here, for many reasons. Firstly, because it's Friday - who doesn't love Friday? Secondly, because I have fun stuff planned for this entire weekend. Yeah, that's right, fun stuff. Rare around these parts, so I'm very excited! Thirdly... Oh, I can't think of a third reason.

This week has been one of those weird weeks that has kinda flown but also been long and tiring... I know, that makes very little sense. Most mornings I've been awake sometime during the hour of 4, which is WAY too early and has left me feeling exhausted all week. The other night I was flat out before the end of the Spain v Chile game (for those of you half a world away, that means I was asleep by about 9.30pm). I made it to the end of the England game last night, but I'm not sure why I bothered.

This week has been our first full week of driving to the railway station on a morning instead of getting the bus. (I still haven't posted about our lovely new car, have I? Oops.) We previously thought this would mean we could possibly get up a little later on a morning, but we have quickly learned that, in fact, we need to get up earlier if we want to get a parking space at the station. Boooooooo. It is lovely to have the freedom to decide on a whim that we want to call at the supermarket on the way home though, we couldn't really do that before because all the supermarkets are out of town and would have meant a couple of extra bus journeys. So, yay for car!

So, as for the weekend ahead... Tomorrow is my mum's birthday, so I'm heading to Yorkshire and taking her to see Wicked at the theatre. I am mega excited; I've wanted to see it ever since it first arrived in London and so many people have told me it’s fantastic. On Sunday, the plan is to go see The Fault in Our Stars with Nicola, and after I finally took the plunge and read the book last weekend I will definitely be taking lots of tissues and expecting to bawl my eyes out. I think clear mascara might be on the menu on Sunday.

What are your plans for the coming weekend? Have a great one!

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Thursday, 19 June 2014

How I Procrastinate

Item #19 on my 101 in 1001 list is to write on 20 creative writing prompts. Today I am writing on prompt #108.

10 Things I Do When I Procrastinate

1. Browse things to do and places to go for upcoming trips I've got planned. At the moment, this is Paris. I can spend hours looking into shops, bars, restaurants, attractions, tours... And of course when I'm doing this I'm always looking into finding a good deal too!

2. Price up potential future trips. At the moment I'm quite regularly found on the likes of Expedia, eBookers, and various other travel sites comparing how much a holiday over Christmas and New Year might cost.

3. Play The Simpsons: Tapped Out. I am kind of addicted to this game. The problem I've got now is that I've got a whole ton of money and nothing to spend it on.

4. Watch TV or a movie. I think we probably all know I'm something of a telly addict. I have a lot of favourite shows, and I love sitting down and having a good ol' TV catch up.

5. Browse social media. I can spend ages on instagram (thank you, hashtags!), and obviously there's twitter and FB for some perusal.

6. Take the quizzes on Zimbio. Because, obviously, I absolutely need to know which transformer I am, and who my 80s movie boyfriend would be, and which character from Dirty Dancing/Titanic/Friends/Saved By The Bell I am.

7. Eat. This one is particularly prolific during working hours. Should I start looking at that set of requests, or should I hang fire a couple of minutes and eat a yogurt? Hmm. Yogurt.

8. Pinterest. Do I really need to expand on this?

9. Read. Be it blogs or a book, I like to read.

10. Click on random links on Wikipedia. Seriously, you can learn all kinds of things you had no idea you didn't know by doing this.

What do you do when you procrastinate?

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Wednesday, 18 June 2014

#TotalSocial - My 9 to 5

When two of your favourite bloggers join forces and host a link up, what's a girl to do? Join in, obviously! Sarah and Helene are hosting the #TotalSocial link up today (yay!) and the theme this month is My 9 to 5.

So, where will you find me during the day Monday to Friday? I've mentioned before that I work in the rail industry, but that's a very broad description - far broader than you can probably imagine to be honest. Until I began working in the industry I had absolutely no idea of the vast spectrum of roles and jobs that existed. I'm approaching 8 years of rail service now (wow, how did that happen?) and I've worked in a few different functions - I started in train planning and have also worked in finance - but these days I'm in maintenance.

The company I work for manages the entire nation's rail infrastructure (note: infrastructure. The amount of people that think the trains themselves are down to us astounds me - they're not. So if you're not happy with the condition of your trains or anything like that, don't come to me!), and this infrastructure is incredibly complex and requires regular maintenance in order to keep the trains running. There are 20,000 miles of track, and we also take care of structures, lineside equipment, vegetation... The list goes on. My role is mainly to plan and book access to the tracks so that the track staff can carry out their maintenance activities.

Obviously, this isn't quite as simple as it first sounds. That wouldn't be any fun now, would it? There are a whole host of rules, regulations and restrictions that have to be considered and complied with, and every section of track has a different set of these. There are also strict timescales, a ton of paperwork, and a whole host of meetings that go into the process.

Do I enjoy my job and find myself filled with job satisfaction? Honestly, not really. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate it... I just don't have any passion for it. My role within train planning I did have passion and pride in, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time doing that. Not every day, obviously; there were days I would be tearing my hair out and found my patience stretched to the limit, but I always did everything within my power to make the plan workable and reduce the risk of delays to customers. And, of course, that job led me to the man I would eventually marry...

So, in a nutshell, that's what I'm up to during my working day.
Helene in Between

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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

F is for Failure

Let's be honest, since I started over with this new blog I still haven't been overly present. Sure, I've thrown out a few posts - but nothing particularly substantial. Why?

I think, in truth, it's because I've been putting off writing the post that needs to be written. I know I need to get it out to enable me to move past it, but the process of doing just that is going to feel like yet another huge kick in the gut. Maybe I'm ready to face that now.

Those of you that have known me for a while will be aware that Boy and I spent March and April of this year caught up in the whirlwind that is an IVF cycle. Many of you also know by now that it was unsuccessful. What you probably don't know is just how much that broke me.

Before we started IVF, I tried to maintain a realistic, but carefully optimistic, approach. I hoped with everything I had that we would be lucky and it would work for us, but I was painfully aware that the statistics said there was a bigger chance that that wouldn't be the case. Approximately 70% of IVF cycles are unsuccessful, and as everyone I knew personally that had been through IVF had succeeded first time, I was terrified that we would be that couple who failed.

As the process went on, I allowed myself to feel more hopeful. I was responding excellently to the drugs, and when egg collection came around they managed to extract 17 eggs. 17! The next day, the embryologist called me and said 14 had fertilised - which was far better than we could have ever imagined. At this point, I really started believing that it just might work for us. Other couples we knew that had been through it had far less eggs and far less embryos than we did, and they succeeded. Why wouldn't we?

Even when we got to the day of transfer, and the embryologist had her pick of 6 blastocysts to return to my uterus, the numbers seemed to be working in our favour. Obviously we still needed a dash of good luck, but everything was looking so promising.

Imagine my sheer terror when, six days later, I found myself bleeding. Not much, and not for very long, but that was the moment hope left me. From then, it was just a waiting game. Of course I went home and did a test, and course when it was negative I tried to tell myself that it was still too early anyway, but deep down I knew. Our perfect little embryo hadn't implanted, and wouldn't be growing into a baby.

On the morning of Official Test Day, I did a ClearBlue Digital test at home before going into clinic for the blood test. I wanted to know for sure while the two of us were together; I didn't want to find out by phone call when I was alone. Not surprisingly, that test result contained those two awful words. Not pregnant.

Cruelly, that day was also the anniversary of my dad's funeral.

When you want something so badly, and all the way through the signs have been great, and then you fall at the last hurdle, you have all kinds of thoughts and questions. Why didn't it work? What did I do wrong? Why don't I get to be a mother? Will we ever have our own family? When will my heart stop breaking? When is enough enough? Why can't I give my husband the baby he deserves? Would he be better off with someone else? How will we get through this? Haven't we suffered enough already? What is the point of all this if the end result is the same? Is it worth it?

Seven weeks have passed since that day, and though I'm not bursting into tears every half hour now, I am still grieving the loss of our perfect little embryo. For most people who suffer an early loss like that naturally, they would probably never know they were carrying the possibility of a new life. I did, I knew. I saw it on screen. I watched as the nurse returned it to me through a catheter. What would seem, to those people who went through it naturally, like a simple late period, held so much more significance to me. I knew that somewhere along the way, the hopes and dreams of our baby were being lost too.

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Friday, 13 June 2014

World Cup: The Basics of Football

To a lot of us in this part of the world, the basic rules of football are ingrained in us from birth - whether we want them there or not. It is easily the most popular sport, with a lot of media coverage, and as a result even those who don't take much interest know something about what the game entails.

For some of you reading this, it's a sport that isn't all that popular where you are, and Sarah at Venus Trapped in Mars (the host of Fan Friday, duh) has been saying for ages that I should do a post with the basics. So, today I am going to do exactly that!

Learn the basic rules of the beautiful game
Image source

- A match is played in two halves of 45 minutes. Half time (the period between each half) lasts 15 minutes.

- Each team consists of eleven players on the pitch at any one time.

- The match is officiated by a referee and two linesmen (assistant referees). The linesmen assist the referee in making decisions such as offsides and goal kicks or throw ins. The referee acts as time keeper and is responsible for making the final decisions.

- Each team consists of a goalkeeper (the only player allowed to use their hands, and only within the confines of the box which marks the goal area), defenders (also known as full backs, left backs or right backs depending on their position), midfielders (may also be called wingers) and forwards (strikers).

- There are a number of ways of penalising unfair play. The offending team may find that their opponents are awarded a free kick, which means that they are allowed to take the kick with no form of defence or challenge against it. If a player commits a more serious offence, he may be issued with a yellow card, which is a stern warning. If a player is issued with two yellow cards over the course of a game, or commits a very serious offence, he may be given a red card and dismissed. This puts his team at a disadvantage as they have to play the rest of the game without their full contingent of players.

- A maximum of three substitutes may be used in any match. Before the game, the manager will choose which eleven players will start, and up to seven to sit "on the bench" as possible substitutes. Once a player on the pitch has been substituted, he cannot return to the field of play.

- The aim is to score goals by getting the ball past your opponent's goalkeeper and into the net. The whole ball must cross the line in order for it to count.

- If the ball goes out of play on the side lines, the opposing team to the last player to come in contact with it is given a throw in i.e. they throw the ball back on to the field of play. If it goes out of play behind the goal line, the return to play depends on who the ball last touched. If it comes off a defending player, the attacking team will be given a corner kick. If it comes off an attacking player, the defending team are awarded a goal kick.

- When the game being played is in a knockout tournament, if the score is level after 90 minutes of play, the game will go to extra time. This is played in two 15-minute halves.

- If, after the extra 30 minutes, the score is still level, the game goes to penalties. Initially, each team will take 5 penalties and if there is a leader at that point, that team wins. If the number of penalties scored is equal, then it becomes "sudden death" (and believe me, if your team is involved in this, it is soooo nerve-wracking!)

Now pay close attention to this last point, because this is important. For some reason, the offside rule is regarded as being complex, and it has been known for men to dismiss women's interest in football because they don't understand it. This is sexist, and above all it's just plain wrong. The offside rule is incredibly simple, and if you've mastered it then you're golden!

When the ball is passed to the attacking player in front of goal, there must be a member of the defending team (one who is not the goalkeeper) level or behind the attacking player. If the attacking player is in front of the last defender when the pass is played, he is deemed offside and if the ball goes into the net the goal will be disallowed, and the defending team will be given a free kick. If that's a little hazy, the BBC website has a good explanation of it here.

Venus Trapped in Mars

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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Things I'm Good At

Just to balance out the post of things I'm bad at, here are some things I'm not all that bad at!

Organising things
Travel itineraries, paperwork, meetings - if something needs organisation of some kind, I'm your girl! To some, it might seem that I go too far with my planning and preparation, but I just like to cover all my bases and be sure I've checked every available option.

At times, I can be really really really good at this. I have a lot of years of experience. At school, I was the kind of student who put off homework as long as possible. I always met my deadlines, but rather than make a start in good time and give myself ages to get things finished, I waited until almost the last minute.

Bargain hunting
"Sale" is one of my favourite words. I also quite like "offer" and "reduced". Obviously "free" is the best word of all, but - as we Yorkshire folk would say - you don't get owt for nowt these days. Except sometimes you do, and if there is an opportunity of free stuff then I'm there with bells on because it's rude not to when it's free, right? But anyway, I rock at sniffing out bargains and getting a good deal.

Making lists
Man, I love a list. Sometimes I even make a list of lists I need to make, and believe me that's one of the best things ever. I suppose this kind of goes back to the organisation thing.

Soaking up the sun
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I was made for a far more tropical climate. I love the sunshine and the heat. Gimme those things with a beach or a pool and I'm one happy chappy.

Winning music quizzes
This mainly applies for music from the 90s and 00s, but it does sometimes happen with other eras too. I was obsessed with music in my teens and I have a lot of obscure knowledge that comes in very handy - particularly when we're watching the TV quiz show Pointless and I always kick Boy's butt on the music questions. We used to play Buzz on the PS2 a lot and he quickly started refusing to play the music quiz because he always lost.

What are you good at?

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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Things I'm Bad At

Just for fun, here are a few things I am really, really bad at...

Eating well
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t eat terribly all the time. I’m quite good at eating salads and fruit, I hardly ever use salt, and I don’t have many encounters with carbonated soft drinks any more. But put a cake or chocolate bar in front of me and I’m powerless to defend myself. I just love desserts and anything like that.

Making decisions
Obviously this doesn’t apply to everything. Some decisions are easy. But others… I am terrible. Give me options, and we could be there all week.

I panic in open water. I wish I didn’t, and I wish I felt confident enough to try snorkelling and even scuba diving, but not being able to touch the bottom or a side terrifies me.

If someone upsets me really badly, I just can’t let it go. I know some people are of the opinion that life is too short to carry negativity around and that wrongdoings should be forgiven; however, my brain and my gut seem to be of the opinion that life is too short to surround myself with people who hurt me.

Keeping fit
I really need to work on this. Once upon a time, I was a skinny little thing who had a couple of really active jobs, and I used to go on nights out where I’d be dancing the night away for 6 hours a night, up to 4 nights a week. Then I got an office job, a long-ish distance boyfriend, and then a mortgage on a house hours away from my friends. Nights out stopped, so I spent my days sitting on my butt at a desk and my nights sitting on my butt in front of the TV.

Dealing with creepy crawlies
I really don’t like things with lots of legs. I don’t believe there’s a need for anything to have lots of legs. Or no legs, because I’m not a fan of worms and slugs and snails either. The worst is definitely 8 legs though.

Using the correct words
I realise this sounds a bit odd, but allow me to explain. Sometimes, when I’m trying to say something, the words I want just won’t come – so I substitute in other words. For example, I might say to Boy “I was watching (insert name of TV show) and thingymajiggy was in it who does the wotsit on that thingybob programme” Worryingly, he usually manages to decipher what I’m talking about.

What are you bad at?

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Friday, 6 June 2014

World Cup Fever Is Coming!

The FIFA World Cup finals take place every four years, and the 2014 tournament starts next Thursday, 12th June. Exciting!!

This year's competition is the 20th World Cup, and it is the second time that Brazil has acted as host. As hosts, Brazil gain automatic entry into the finals, and over the last 3 years the remaining 31 places were competed for by over 200 nations in the qualifying rounds.

The first stage of the World Cup finals sees the 32 teams divided into groups of four. Each nation will play against the other three nations in their group, and the teams who finish first and second within their group will proceed to the knockout rounds. We'll deal with that another day.

The groups look like this:

So, how does a team go about winning their group? I'm glad you asked. The whole point of football, basically, is to score more goals than your opposing team. I'm sure that's quite obvious. If your team wins, you are awarded three points. If the match finishes in a draw, each team gets one point. If your team loses, you get a great big zilch. Therefore the more games you win, the more points you get, and the higher up the table you finish.

So, does it really matter how many goals your team score, as long as they win? Another great question, and the answer is yes. Yes it does. Why? Because if two teams finish with the same amount of points, their rankings will be decided by 'goal difference' - that is, the team with the biggest difference in goals scored vs. goals conceded will be placed higher.

Say you had a table that looked like this:

Although Red and Green both finished with 7 points, after 2 wins and a draw each, Red had a far better goal difference and so they finished above Green.

The World Cup kicks off on Thursday, 9pm BST, with hosts Brazil playing Croatia. England have to wait until Saturday night to begin their campaign, playing Italy at 11pm BST. If you could muster up any positive vibes to send to England I'm sure we'd all appreciate it... Here's to 32 days of World Cup fever!

Will you be watching the World Cup? Who are you cheering for?
If you have any other football or World Cup questions, just let me know!

Venus Trapped in Mars
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Wednesday, 4 June 2014

20 Years Ago

I mentioned on Monday that this weekend I'm going to a concert this weekend, that is the 20th anniversary of my first boyband obsession. In honour of the occasion, I'm going to take a stroll down memory lane to that point in my life... (and promptly make myself feel uber old)

In 1994:
- I turned 11 in the summer.
- Boyzone hit the music charts. Ronan Keating became my first official crush. I was so going to marry him someday! Blond hair, blue eyes, Irish accent... Divine.

- The Lion King was released. Hakuna matata!
- Formula One driver Ayrton Senna was killed in an accident during the Grand Prix.
- Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president.
- The FIFA World Cup was held in the USA. England didn't qualify.
- The National Lottery was launched.
- Friends hit our screens for the first time. Not mine just yet, I was still a bit young... But this show would later kind of take over my life.
- I was hooked on Saved by the Bell, Sister Sister, Rugrats, The Animals of Farthing Wood, Fun House (seriously, one of the best kids shows EVER!), Round the Twist, California Dreams, and Byker Grove. Apparently I was a telly addict back then - some things never change!
- I was mega jealous of my BFF having the "Steam" album by East 17. She let me borrow it plenty though :)

What do you remember about 20 years ago?
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Monday, 2 June 2014

10 Things I'm Looking Forward To This Summer

I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that we're in June. Seriously, how did that happen? But, now that summer really is just round the corner, I thought I'd share some of the things we've got planned for this coming season.

10 Things I'm Looking Forward To This Summer

1. A Week In Paris
Well, just under a week actually. But what's a day between friends?! I'm excited to have lots of time to explore on this visit - our last trip two summers ago was only 3 days, and we spent one of those at Disney and one with Boy's friend, so we didn't get around everything. This time, we've already booked to go up the Eiffel Tower at night, and we plan to visit the zoo, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur... and a whole host of sporting grounds, because we like to do that when we go to big cities!

2. My Birthday
This kind of links in with number 1, as I will get a year older towards the end of our time in Paris. At this point, I can't tell you for sure what we'll do to mark that day - possibly a trip to Versailles, we'll see what happens - but what I can tell you is that it will definitely rain. No matter where I am in the world, it always rains on my birthday!

3. Having Our Own Car
Boy passed his driving test back in January, and since then we've either borrowed his mother's car or hired one as and when we've needed to. We decided last week to look into getting our own, and now all the documentation has been signed and sent off - so we're just waiting for a delivery date! That means that this summer, we'll have so many more options of places to go and things to do.

4. Seeing Wicked
I got tickets to see Wicked on tour on my mum's birthday, as a birthday gift to her. I love musical theatre, and Wicked is a show that I've wanted to see for a looooong time. When I found out it was touring, and that it was in the city nearest to my mum on the day of her birthday, it just felt like destiny was telling me something!

5. My Friend's Wedding
It feels like this is one wedding that has been a long time coming, probably because they've been engaged for about 6 years and this is actually the third wedding they've booked (a double booking and an unplanned pregnancy put a stop to the first two). I can't wait to see my lovely friend finally make her way down the aisle and marry the man she loves.

6. Seeing Rock Of Ages
As I said before, I love musical theatre. Boy and I also love a bit of classic rock. Combine the two, and that sounds like a good night out, does it not? I wanted to see Rock of Ages when it first came to London's West End, but we never quite got around to making the trip. The national tour is just to good an opportunity to miss though, especially when it's coming so close to our home!

7. Warmer Weather... and Sunshine
I don't like the cold. I don't like rain. I realise that, this being the UK and all, we'll probably still get both of those things throughout the summer - but a girl can hope that we'll have a few weeks of sunshine and heat!

8. Ice Creams
Ice cream is a diet staple of mine in summer. Whether it be in a tub or on a stick and coated in chocolate, I'm not fussy. But a trip or a day out doesn't count until there's ice cream, fact.

9. The World Cup
Unless you've been living under a rock, you must be aware that the world cup is very nearly upon us. A month of most menfolk wanting to stay up til all hours (in this time zone at least) and watch every game that is shown on TV. I have to say, having Brazil host it isn't my favourite thing because of the lateness of some of the games. Still, the world cup is the world cup and I'm sure I'll be gripped by the fever all the same!

10. Meeting a Fellow Blogger
This is a recent, but thoroughly exciting, development. The lovely Nicola Kirsty very kindly volunteered herself to come to a concert with me this weekend, and I can't wait to meet her! I was almost at the point of begging Boy to come with me to said concert, which is very much a trip down memory lane as it's my first boyband obsession who are celebrating their 20th anniversary. Boy would not have enjoyed it one bit, and so when Nicola said she'd come too I was so happy! Now I get to be there with someone who actually wants to be there, who knows the songs, and I get to meet her in real life - all at the same time! Awesome huh?

What are you looking forward to this summer? Let me know by leaving a comment, or blog about it and leave me the link :)

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Sunday, 1 June 2014

Sunday Social

It's a little while since I've done a Sunday Social, and as this will be the first one in my new space the questions this week are particularly relevant!

1. Introduce yourself and your blog to us

I'm Jenni, a 30-year-old English wife and wannabe mother. This blog is only a few days old, and I did a whole introductory post just this week, check it out!

2. What is your favourite form of Social Media and why?
Instagram is probably my favourite. I love looking at pictures!

3. What made you start a blog?

I started my first blog a couple of years ago now, and it was a place for me to vent my feelings about our struggles with fertility and our difficult journey of trying to become parents. Then, after a while, I just ran out of things to say - nothing changed, nothing was happening, so where do you go with that? So I started a new blog, one that I didn't fit into a particular niche with, I just blogged about anything. And then some things happened and I just fell off the blogging wagon, and when I was ready to climb back on I decided I wanted to start afresh. So here I am!

4. What do you feel the most meaningful/special post you've written is?

I've written some posts that are incredibly meaningful to me - the grief of losing my dad, the reality of IVF, and how it feels to be dropped from someone's life are just a few. I haven't yet moved all of my posts across here though, so I can't link them!

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