Sunday, 29 November 2009

Johnny Depp Cake

I went to a Johnny Depp and Jack Daniels Party the other night. It was fun. (The concept of matching initials parties started with Pumpkin Soup and Patrick Swayze).

The JD Party included Jammy Dodger Shooters (yum! Raspberry Liquer and Cream layered in a shot glass), "Johnny Dumplings" (actually chinese dumpling things but you've got to stick to the rules). My contribution was Johnny Depp cake:

It may look like chocolate cake, but it is actually rum and raisin chocolate cake! You may still be confused as to the relation with Johnny Depp, but see:
Rum - Johnny Depp, as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean was a bit of a fan of the rum
Raisin - He played Gilbert Grape in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and everyone knows raisins are made from grapes
Chocolate - How could I deny Willy Wonka chocolate? Plus he was in Chocolat (mmm Johnny Depp in chocolate)

If you want to make your very own Johnny Depp cake, the rough recipe I used is as follows (I used one off the internet but ended up changing a few things)

About 100g Raisins or dried fruit, roughly chopped
A good glug of Rum
175g unsalted butter
150g sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
225g Self Raising Flour
40g cocoa powder
150ml milk

Soak the raisins in the rum for a while (preferably a few hours)
Pre-heat the oven to 180C, grease and line a cake tin
Beat the butter and sugar until light, then gradually beat in the eggs
Fold in the rum and raisins
Sift together the cocoa powder and flour
Fold the flour mix and the milk alternately into the batter
Pour into the tin, smooth the top and bake for about an hour (until a knife comes out clean)
Leave in the tin for 15minutes then turn onto a rack to cool

For chocolate rum icing, melt about 100g dark chocolate, mix in 100g butter until melted
Then add 75g sifted icing sugar and 3tbsp rum
Ice the cake and enjoy:)
I also put chocolate sprinkles on top just because I had some in the cupboard.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


My fourth mitten is finally complete!

Mitten number one was meant for my granny but ended up the perfect size for me (and hence too small for the intended recipient - oops!)
Mitten one (pre-thumb)

Mitten number two (knit at a looser gauge) was perfect for my granny (yay!)
Mittens two and three - blocking.

Mitten number three was the same size as two but had the thumb the wrong way round the first time (argh) and had to be fixed.

Mitten number four was going to be too much for the wool I had left so some shifting round of colours make it a friend to number one, rather than an exact copy. Good enough for me, and so warm:)
Mittens one and four, complete!

I particularly like the contrasting pattern on the thumb, and the picot hem.

Pattern: Found at Tiffany Mittens by Sari
Wool: Rooster Almerino DK


I like libraries. I loved them as a child; being able to wander round amongst aisles and aisles of fascinating books and pick ones to take home for free!! I read avidly as a child and still adore the escapism books provide.

Unfortunately some librarians are evil minions of satan, incapable of allowing people to enjoy books. Do they think I'm going to corrupt the poor little books or something? I don't plan to involve them in book-burning or anything, I promise. Anyway, I had a bad experience with one library (well, two bad experiences actually, and I've only been in there twice), so it doesn't really surprise me how popular online book-retailers are.

Generic Online Book-Retailer:
  • Allows you to see a vast selection of potential options
  • Gives you other reader's reviews
  • Suggests other books you may like
  • Sends the books to your door and requires minimal human interaction
University Library:
  • Baffles you with a variety of options
  • Only gives information about the standard option
  • Apparently has a variety of different shelving systems (Dewey Decimal not good enough eh???)
  • Is inhabited by evil people who shout at you for being slightly confused
I've worked at the University for a few years now and never really considered getting books out (it's a lot further away than my local library and I mostly read fiction and knitting books). A little investigation showed that they had the score of some piano music I wanted to play (Metamorphosis, Philip Glass - the piece Starbuck plays in Battlestar Galactica) at the nice price of free (as opposed to about £30 online). Awesome. So, I registered with the library, looked up the information about how to get books out, great. Except of course sheet music is in some random corner of the library and not in the right place in the baffling subsection of freakish book-shelving (I like the Dewey Decimal system dammit). Eventually I found it and took it to the information desk to check out.

Unfortunately the person at the desk had no idea what she was supposed to do with sheet music. She finally found a piece of paper that I was maybe suppose to fill in, so I did. I got the sheet music home and realised she hadn't stamped the return date. No problem, I thought, it'll say on the online system! Of course, that would be too simple, no record that I have it out.... Generally it seems you get to keep books for a month so I tried to take it back after 3 weeks, just in case. Oh that it could be that simple.

I took it to the information desk and asked about the return date (you know, for future reference), the man at the desk proceeded to tell me off for not knowing the return date and said I should have remembered it from when I took it out. Given the person I dealt with was totally baffled by the concept of sheet music, she hadn't given me any indication of when to return it, she hadn't stamped the return date (there were a couple of recent return dates in it). I said this, and pointed out I had checked the online system. "Well of course it's not on the online system!" Err ok, I hadn't realised, it's the first book I've got out, I'm staff, not a student, so I didn't know. "It's not a book, it's a score!!!" Err, ok but what would the return date be for scores then? "The end of term, as always!!!!!" Err...but I don't know when the end of term is, I'm staff... He then seemed utterly baffled by the concept of wanting to return it early and found a scrap of paper and a pencil to write my name on. I think he's going to use it to hunt me down and kill me:/

Maybe I'll aim for illiteracy in future.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Things I Hate:

The Post Office
They currently have two parcels. I sent them a while ago. Unfortunately they haven't arrived. One was for my best friend in Japan. It contained a hat knitted to her specifications (and wool isn't cheap dammit), plus lots of tasty things. Post to Japan tends to take 2-3weeks. I think it's been a month so far...

Hat (ignore the zombie face, it's my first pompom for ages):

The second parcel was for my granny. A while ago I asked her if there was anything she'd like me to knit, she suggested mittens. I took my time as I wanted to make them perfect. I found a great pattern, found some lovely soft wool, took my time. The first mitten was a perfect fit for me - unfortunate as her hands are bigger. The second mitten seemed ideal so I knitted a third. D'oh, finished it off and realised the thumb was on backwards - unravelling and re-knitting was fiddly but worth it. Finally done, I decided to post them Special Delivery so I could track them, looked up the price and the details. £4.95 apparently, expensive but fair enough. Took them to the post office; "You can't track special delivery, that'll be £5.60 please." Err no, ok I'll just send it first class then. That was about a week ago...

Mittens (blocking, hence stuffed with placky bags):

Please, please royal mail, please get them safely to their destinations. I even bloody checked when the postal strikes were so I could avoid them:'(

Sunday, 1 November 2009


Oops, it seems to have been a month since my last post... Oh well, here are a few halloween treats.

Chocolate monster buns:

Pumpkin Jack:

And playing with matches:)

Coming soon, mittens!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009


Oslo was nice, sunny, warm and clean. Though exceedingly expensive. Most distressing was two take-away pizzas for £45. We did get two free bottle of juice with that and they were nice pizzas but still!

Norwegians seem to like statues and fountains in equal measure. It seemed we couldn't turn a corner or walk 50 metres without seeing one or the other (usually both). My favourite was this polar bear:

We went to a viking ship museum. They had three viking burial ships that had been buried over 1200years ago. Very strange to think that they had been sailed and rowed around oceans that long ago! There was even one that had been buried with two women on who were apparently queens or chieftans or something. It wasn't a warship but apparently a pleasure cruiser type thing:

We had a walk up near a ski-resort a short bus ride from Oslo. I'd be very tempted to go back in Winter to learn to snowboard:)

Friday, 18 September 2009


I'm on my last day of work before a week off. Huzzah! My first proper time off work for 2009... I've had a couple of days off so far but not been able to have a full week off. I can't wait. I'm seeing my family, going to Oslo for a few days and hopefully relaxing and knitting:)

I'm also really looking forward to Halloween. I always used to have a party when I was at school and university, but since moving to Edinburgh haven't really been able to. Our flat is too small for even a medium sized gathering, also very cream and rented so not ideal for fake blood and gore. Maybe I can persuade someone else to host one?? Either way I'm definitely going to make halloween cakes/buns/delectables!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Things that make me happy

I received a little parcel of joy from Japan a couple of days ago. I'll wait and write a post all about that though.

When I got home from work today, I had this waiting to greet me:

Also, sitting companionably on my desk all day, I had this little fellow who I knitted at the weekend:

(Pattern from Amigurumi Knits, Hansi Singh)

Friday, 11 September 2009

Cooking Celebrities

I like food, cooking, and all sorts of foodie programmes. I particularly like having cooking programmes to watch while eating my tea (dinner). Most of the time I don't actually make the recipes, but then I don't think the programme makers really mean people to. I think it's mostly entertainment, and that a lot of people perhaps watch these programmes as an alternative to making real food.

I'm currently watching the Jamie Oliver's American series. It's rather cheesy and he seems to have some sort of viagra obsession... It all looks quite nice but the food isn't really possible in a small Edinburgh flat. He mostly seems to be excited about the different methods of cooking food such as the cowboy "Dutch oven", basically but a cauldron in a fire, put stuff in it, put coals on top and leave it for several hours. Or alternatively get some big hunks of beef and cook them. That's not a recipe.

Delia Smith is a cook I've always quite admired. Her recipes tend to just work. I recently found her vegetarian recipe book in a charity shop recently and baked this cake:

The only problem I have with Delia, is her icing fetish. If I follow her recipes faithfully the cake is always very good (eg coffee and walnut above) but the icing is totally overpowering. This recipe included 250g of creme fraiche and 200g of fromage frais, plus sugar and coffee. It was a struggle balancing all of it on the cake! I also like that most of Delia's recipes are on her website -

Great British Menu is another food programme I've enjoyed in the past. The general idea is to get lots of michelin starred british chefs and have a cook-off until you have one from each region. Then make them compete to do the starter, fish course, main course, and pudding for a banquet. Most of the recipes ( ) are utterly insane and only really possible if you have an industrial size kitchen and about 10 lackeys. The winning puddings tend to be classics but done amazingly and are well worth the effort. I've made a custard tart (which involved 14 eggs or something crazy) and a treacle tart (a whole tin of golden syrup) and both were delicious. I don't even like custard or treacle tarts normally!

Last night I found out I'd missed the first in a new cookery series (thank you iplayer) by Nigel Slater. Nigel Slater is probably my favourite cook. He writes for the Guardian and just comes across as a really lovely guy. His new programme is about doing away with recipes. It is novel and delightful to find out I'm not the only one who makes stuff up while cooking, looking in the fridge and cupboards and deciding what to have. I follow recipes for puddings and cakes, but for savoury food, most of the time it just doesn't matter. I get ideas from recipes but I often can't be bothered spending time and money finding some exotic product when I have something similar in the cupboard.

It is incredibly refreshing to watch a programme that actually wants to give ideas and inspiration, rather than insisting you should measure everything to the gram and time everything to the minute. I'm definitely a fan of "Cook it til it's cooked".

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Local Riding

Scotland is really good for mountainbiking. The only problem is, people assume that if you live in Scotland, that means it's easy to go mountainbiking. Not necessarily. I live near the Pentland hills. But it's still nearly 4miles of road-riding to get there. There's a fair amount of variation in the Pentlands, being natural trails, but that does mean that with a lot of rain (remember this is Scotland so that's not uncommon) they can become somewhat swampy. There are parts that stay swampy even after lots of dry weather!

Anyway, I thought I'd share some examples of my local riding.

At the bottom of Puke Hill (because apparently if you don't vomit at the top you're not trying hard enough - this is a boy thing):

A reservoir (I can never remember which is which):

Some nice rooty singletrack with a reservoir on one side and sheep fields and hills on the other:

I will miss being able to cycle out to open(ish) country if we leave Edinburgh. Especially if we go to England with there lack of right to roam.

Monday, 31 August 2009


I often feel I should hate supermarkets and avoid shopping in them. But most of the time they have a good range of stuff and make life so much more convenient (and cheaper). However, it's not great when there are three or four supermarkets which each apparently stock some things that none of the others do. What to do? Some sort of supermarket rotation system? Or just do without?

Or maybe they do stock what I want, I just can't find it....

Shaky cheese. That parmesan stuff. Can't find it anywhere. I'm sure they stock it, but in what section? Not apparently in the cheese section, not in the pasta and sauces section, not anywhere I can find...

Muesli. Proper muesli, I'm not a fan of Swiss style muesli, it's a bit sickly with all the added sugar and powdered milk and stuff. Tesco does about 6 types of muesli, all Swiss style. Oh admittedly they do other sorts of muesli in really small, very expensive boxes. But given I live with another cyclist, small packets of muesli don't last long.

I'm not going to boycott Tesco for this. Just be slightly disappointed every time I try to buy cereal from them.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Unexpected Musicians and Pajamas

I went to a comedy show on Friday night. It had been recommended to us as "It's kind of a sketch show, it's a bit weird but you'll probably like it." So we went. The Pajama are two middle-aged blokes wearing pyjamas (though they spell it pajamas because they're american). The vague story is their holiday, they tell the tale of what they did and all the people they met on a train journey. This includes many strange characters including an invincible boy (who isn't actually invincible, he's a teenager), a dead girl, a psycho, some women, some punks (I think), a magician, some other people. It was impressively fast and skillful, and I liked the fact they occasionally stepped away from the script and hammed it up even more.

The thing I liked most though, was the backing music. Provided by a bloke (Kevin Hume) with a keyboard, two guitars and a triangle. He reminded me of Nick Drake crossed with Fionn Regan so I bought his album. It's lovely. Especially the love songs to insects.

Pajama men website (Kevin is for some reason, apparently trying to look like a young Bob Dylan, but never mind):

Kevin's myspace:

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Charity Bike Ride

I did a 103mile (I'd signed up for 100miles, they only said it was 103miles on the start line!) bicycle ride for charity a week ago. It was the furthest I've ever ridden but was mostly enjoyable. The weirdest thing has been the different reactions I've had from different groups of friends/relatives/colleagues/etc:

Cycling friends: You'll be fine, it's not that far as long as you eat enough and drink enough - admittedly one of my cycling friends had a couple of weeks earlier done a charity ride of about 800miles. She cycled London to Edinburgh, then back to London in just over 118hours. It made my 100miles seem somewhat less distressing!

Non-Cycling friends and relatives: Ooh, sounds tricky but I'm sure you'll do fine, you've done some training and ride your bike lots (erm, well, I had swine flu a week before, not sure that's the ideal training plan but never mind).

Work Colleagues: Goodness, surely that's impossible! You won't be able to walk for days!! What, you're planning to come to work the day after?? You must be some sort of super-human cycling demon!!!!!! Err....well not really, I can do 15miles quite happily to get places, not really considering it as a ride. I did a 50mile ride on my own whilst still coughing horrifically from swine flu and felt fine after (admittedly a bit tired, but my legs were fine). I forget that a lot of people don't do exercise at all.

My boss: What would you want to do that for? (Scornful look). I brought my medal to work to show my office buddies, my boss saw it and laughed at me for being proud of it. Humph!

The weather was nice and dry, and a pretty perfect temperature. The only problem was the strong winds that had been forecast for a week or so. Prediction of 25mph westerly winds with 40mph gusts. Meaning we would have a headwind from the halfway point onwards. It turned out that the first half of the ride was quite sheltered in valleys so we didn't even get a tailwind! The first half of the ride contained a scarily steep climb. Unfortunately there were lots of little, quite steep climbs first so me and my friend kept assuming we were on the big climb. Then going round a corner and seeing another hill in front of us. We finally found the steep bit and managed to keep going all the way, I was surprised and relieved that we didn't get overtaken (especially since I have gears unsuitable for big hills).

After lunch (pasta, tuna salad, crisps, chocolate bars etc - provided by the organisers, there were 4feed stops plus lunch) we hit the headwind, and the 20mile climb. Luckily we had cunningly set off at the same time as 4guys who looked like proper cyclists (full on lycra, road shoes, massive calves and no body fat) and managed to hang onto their back wheels for a while. At one point, one of them even dropped off the back and I managed to get him back up to his friends again. (I was very proud of myself, felt like a real cyclist!) Eventually the pace became too much for us and we couldn't keep up any longer. This section seemed to take forever, we had thought that each food stop was about 15-17miles apart. When we (finally) got to the next one and had a look at the map, it turned out it had actually been 25miles so no wonder it had taken longer than expected!

At the final feed stop, with 15miles to the finish, we realised we had set off 7hours previously. Having vaguely discussed times previously and decided that 8hours could be possibly attainable and suitably impressive, we went for it. The last few miles through the centre of York (on horrifically busy roads) were quite scary especially as the friend I rode with tends to get faster when angry - it was a bit of a struggle keeping up whenever he felt he'd been wronged by another road-user. Finally we made it to the finish, about 7hours 55minutes after starting! We must have spent over an hour at feed-stops in total so our average was probably just under 15mph! Since my usual average is about 12mph on much shorter rides, I was pretty chuffed.

We finished early enough in the afternoon that a leisurely shower and dinner could be enjoyed prior to getting the train back to Edinburgh. Finally got home about midnight. Getting up for work the next morning was a struggle! My legs were a bit tired and slightly stiff, but in general I was fine.

Who knows, maybe we'll do another one next year (though I'd rather not have to eat energy gels again, yick!)

Sunday, 9 August 2009


It's funny what being effectively housebound for a week will do. After spending the week sick with Swine Flu and only leaving the flat to stagger to the corner shop once we'd run out off food, even small excursions become exciting.

Several weeks earlier a friend had told me he was visiting Edinburgh this weekend and booked a slot to see me on the Saturday morning. The Farmer's Market is always exciting anyway but it wasn't until we got to Starbucks later on that I had a moment of hysterics. It's probably not even that funny to anyone else but I'd like to remind you that I'd been stuck with only a racking cough to keep me company for too long! Anyway, Starbucks these days always have some sort of merchandise counter thing. I don't know why coffee shops these days need their own gift shop but never mind, they had an array of different coffees, different drinking vessels and so on. This included a range of mugs with country and city names on.

The cities immortalised by a cheesy coffee mug were as follows:

And that was it. No Edinburgh mugs. In Edinburgh. I really don't see why anyone would travel to Edinburgh and think "I know what Auntie Susie would love, a Cardiff mug, awesome!!"

As it is August, Edinburgh is currently full of a million tourists who are confused by complicated things like roads and bus stops. I finally managed to get to my bus stop and joined the end of the queue. After a little while 4 little old ladies walked up. Two were frail, the other two were even more frail. I was at the end of the queue and let them through in front of me to the shelter seat. When the bus finally came there were a lot more people hanging around and I was a bit worried the ladies were either going to get separated or not get seats on the bus so I let them get on in front of me. Unfortunately as I'm polite, the rest of the crowd seemed to think they would get on in front of me too. When the last of the little old ladies grinned up at me, grabbed my hand and pulled me along with them:) Aww, it really made my day.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Cold Calling

Being off sick with the flu this week has reminded me how weird it feels to get phone calls on the landline! Pretty much all my friends only really contact me via internet or text (or phone my mobile if it's urgent). Parents phone the landline, but usually after 8pm (actually they usually email me but if the phone me I've got a good chance of guessing it's them).

Therefore if someone calls the landline during the day, I know they're usually trying to sell me stuff. The most confusing call I've had so far was apparently the NHS cold-calling to find babies...

A woman phoned and said her name, I muttered something in a confused way. She repeated her name and then said "the midwife". Ok I thought, a little odd, must be a wrong number. I told her my number and she was very insistent that yes that was the number she had and was the correct number for the person she was trying to call. Despite me denying there was anyone of the name she was asking after at our address she went on to say "What, you haven't had a baby? No-one there has had a baby?" Err no, it's just me and the boyfriend. I'm pretty sure I'd notice if either of us had had a baby. I'm still not convinced she believed me.

Saturday, 1 August 2009


You'd think cycling would be a cheap and healthy way to get around. I've generally found it fun as well. Until recently. Roadbike is still not fixed. I never realised trying to replace gear and brake cables could be so much hassle. First the internet retailer I ordered parts from didn't send me the outer for one type of cable so I asked them to send me it. Except they've sent me the wrong type of outer. I'm fed up of trying to get them to send me the right thing and decided to buy from a bike shop instead. Tried the biggest bike shop in Edinburgh. Wandering round for ages, I managed to find various brake kits and brake individual cabling parts, but not for gears. I asked one of the staffmembers, he stood looking at the display for a while and then decided that they didn't sell outer individually. They sell inners but not outers? Ok. So I asked for a kit, after a fair amount of dithering he said they probably didn't have any in stock (but didn't actually check on the system). I think asked about ferrules. He looked blank so I explained what he meant, then had to show him on a bike as he had no idea what I was on about. He wasn't sure if they sold them by which point I'd had enough.

I tried a different bike shop who did have gear kits but didn't sell the individual parts. So now I have one and a half sets of stuff to replace gear cabling for a lot more money than if I'd just bought the kit in the first place. Argh!

Also I hate the reactions people have to cyclists. I know some cyclists can be inconsiderate and break the rules of the road. That's because cyclists are actually human too. The thing is I'm a very polite, law-abiding cyclist, but since I'm small and female, I seem to get more of the anti-cyclist anger-venting. The other day I cycled to the pub. It was a Thursday evening about 9.30pm and starting to get dark. Since I'm a safety conscious cyclist I was wearing my helmet, high vis gilet and my bike lights were on. You'd think by the reaction I got that I was kicking puppies and assaulting grannies.

The pub is about 2miles away. The higlight of the trip was the car driver who wasn't paying attention to the road and nearly hit me. He did apologise though making him the nicest person on my trip.

The second person who reacted to me saw me cycling up the road (up as in up a reasonably steep hill) and pressed the button on the pedestrian crossing. Fair enough. Bit of a hassle starting on the hill but I wouldn't want pedestrians to get hit by cars. Except he stared at me, worked out in front of me, and then waited until the lights started flashing amber, then slowly sauntered off the road again. Now, being a polite, law abiding cyclist, I waited politely and so was inconvenienced. Whereas if I'd been a more aggressive cyclist, he wouldn't have bothered me at all as I would have just sped past him and ignore the red light. Bastard.

The third interaction I had with another road-user was a car full of 5 male youths. I was cycling along the road and the car shot past me and one of them yelled something. Now being idiots, they obviously didn't realise that shouting from a moving car makes them fairly unintelligible. Being Edinburgh, they had to stop at a red light about 20metres down the road and I casually cycled up alongside them. At which point they frantically wound their windows up again. Possibly sensible if I was large, male and agressive, but again I'm small and female and rather unlikely to take on a car full of stupid lads. I smiled at them politely. The window was wound down again and the passenger asked "Why are you riding a bike, why haven't you got a car". Now interestingly if the driver had said this it would have made a bit more sense. I didn't really fancy pointing out that he wasn't actually driving a car either, and that if I cycle, it means I'm actually allowed to drink alcohol in pubs.

The lights turned green and they shot off again. I was quite amused by cycling casually up to them again at the next 3 red lights.

*Sigh* People are idiots.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Bad Luck

If I believed in bad luck (which I don't, but "Lots of bad things happening coincidentally in a relatively short time period" just doesn't sound right) then I would think I was having a run of it at the moment. It seems every time I try to make my bike run better by cleaning it lovingly, or replacing worn parts with shiny new bits, something goes wrong.

I'm doing a 100mile bike ride for charity in (eep!!) just over 3 weeks. Ideally I would be riding my bike lots and generally training for a long ride. Unfortunately, my bike is now in pieces. First my chain went, this was soon replaced and all was well for a little while. Then I realised there was a scary patch of corrosion under the crown of the forks. I took it to the bike shop, one guy said it was probably because I was a student (I'm not a student, even if I was a student, are students particularly corrosive?), another one said "It'll probably be fine, just keep an eye on it". Gee thanks, actually I like my smile the way it is, my teeth might not be perfect but I'd rather they stay where they are rather than get scattered across the road due to fork-fail.

So, I thought well, if I'm replacing my forks I might as well replace my brakes too and brake and gear cables since they're all getting a bit corroded and old from 2winters of commuting on salted roads. Local bike shops didn't stock what I needed but handily there are a plethora of online shops happy to help. I ordered the bits I needed and waited in anticipation. The parcel arrived and looked suspiciously long... That would be because they had included some MTB bars I hadn't ordered. One piece of cable outer was missing, and so were the brakes. Bother.

Interestingly, on the invoice, underneath where it said "7 items", the packer had put "5items". Well yes, that's how many you packed. Unfortunately I did actually want 7items. Otherwise I wouldn't have ordered them.

I read through the online FAQ and wasn't entirely sure what to do (they have instructions for when you've ordered the wrong thing, ordered the wrong size, or if the thing you've ordered is broken - unfortunately they don't have instructions for what to do when they've sent you completely the wrong component) so I phoned the helpline. I was told that as the cable outer was missing, he could just send me some, but that as I wanted to swap the bars for brakes I would have to return the bars before they could send out the brakes. I thought this was a little odd but given how many times I'd had to give him the order number and explain what I was missing I was losing the will to complain.

I've sent back the bars (that I didn't order) and am now waiting on the brakes (that I have ordered and paid for). I should have got these a week ago but now it's looking like it'll be next week before they arrive, and then I'll have to find time to fix my bike up. By which time it will be less than 3weeks to the charity audax. Bugger.

In future I'd be very tempted to say nothing about the bars and just point out they hadn't sent me some of the things on the order. It looks like the whole thing would have been sorted much quicker and easier this way. And I wouldn't have had to pay postage to send their bars back!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


I went to the doctors yesterday to get a prescription. My appointment was booked for 5.40pm but I actually got seen at 6pm. This is not overly surprising, I once had an appointment at 9am and they were already running more than 20minutes late! Anyway, I got out of the appointment just after 6 to find that there was one more person waiting to be seen, and no receptionists... So anyway, I unlocked my bike and tried to walk out the big, automatic front doors. Except they were locked... Tried ringing the bell at reception... No answer, obviously receptionists don't care if they lock patients in as long as they get to go home promptly.

Eventually a cleaner appeared and let me out a back door. This involved going through a door marked "Staff members only" down a corridor not really wide enough for me and a bike, and out a fire exit.

It's the doctor I felt most sorry for, surely it's not appropriate to be locked in a surgery with a steadily reducing number of patients?

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Emergency Pastries

Don't you just hate it when you've got a meeting starting at 9am. Except you've arranged it (for your boss) so have to be there early. And it's somewhere, far, far away from where you normally work. Well fine, that's work for you. Until....your boss decides that the catering provided by the conference centre might not be of a suitable quality so there must be pastries just in case.

This is why I had to get a taxi at 7.45am to purchase emergency pastries. Of course the catering was even better than expected with a gorgeous array of dainty mini-pastries. It's a good job I have a bag full of cinnamon swirls and pecan plaits to make up for the frustration and lack of sleep!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Accidental Cycling

I'm going for a 100mile bicycle ride in just under 2months. My partner in crime is actually training so I thought I should too. I'd written up a cunning training plan (admittedly on a post-it note but I maintain it's still valid) starting with 30mile rides and gradually working up to 60mile rides.

Of course I didn't take into account that other people might be willing to go on rides with me. One of my friends said "Ooh there's a route I've been meaning to do!" Yeah, a route I've also been thinking about, but not expecting to see any time soon as it's 60miles through some fairly hilly terrain. Noone but me seemed to think this was a silly thing to do so I thought I might as well give it a go. I could always turn back if I was struggling...

It was surprisingly enjoyable. I forgotten how fun it is zooming along in the rain:) Admittedly usually I'm on a mountainbike so there aren't lorries thundering past at about 60mph but still! To begin with we had an hour of reasonable weather, then an hour of fairly heavy rain (not quite torrential but the sort of rain that gets you very wet). We got to Peebles and the sun came out, after that we had a pleasant couple of hours of quiet, gorgeous country roads up into the hills. The final hour was the hardest, we were getting back into Edinburgh but weren't entirely sure which part we'd end up in (following cycling routes can do this as you have to pay to see a map but can follow the signs for free!) We finally started seeing place names we recognised and a few miles later I was home.

The route was almost exactly 60miles and took about 5hours 20minutes including a couple of brief stops. Not bad since I thought I was totally unfit at the moment! Now I just need to do another 8 or so long, fastish rides and I'll be sorted:)

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Modern Women

So it seems I'm an old-fashioned shape.

There are occasionally articles bemoaning about how different women are now to the 50s (they only seem to concentrate on the shape, not jobs, status, salary etc. but ignore that for the moment).

Average British woman in 1951:
Height: 5'2
Bust: 37inches
Waist: 28inches
Hips: 39inches
Weight: 62kg

Modern British woman:
Height: 5'4
Bust: 38.5inches
Waist: 34inches
Hips: 40.5inches
Weight: 65kg

I am 5'2.5 35, 28, 38.5 and currently about 60kg (having put on about half a stone since starting a new job a year ago:/ ) so am pretty much and average 50s bodyshape. Sadly clothes no longer seem to be designed for people with a waist. I don't really care what "size" of clothes I wear, as long as they fit me and are comfortable then I'm happy. However I tend to have problems with trousers, and particularly jeans. If they're big enough to fit everywhere else, the waist gapes on all sides and just looks weird. 

So either I have to lose a couple of stone, and become a fashionable, un-curvy stick-type person. Or gain a couple of stone and try to ensure it all goes on my waist?

Maybe I should just wear more skirts and dresses, or only wear 50s clothes?

Monday, 8 June 2009

Cute knits

A couple of cute things I knitted. The wee mousey is for my beloved. The snail (now christened Mr. Cedric) is for my friend who is abandoning this land.

Saturday, 6 June 2009


I think music and the appreciation of music have changed a lot in the past few years. I like a lot of music and the only possible description of my tastes is "eclectic". When I was younger I would mostly listen to CDs or mixtapes. These days I mostly listen to music at my computer or on my ipod. Usually I listen on shuffle and just skip songs if they don't match my mood. The problem with this is that a lot of potentially awesome songs pass my by because I just don't give them time. If listening to an album repeatedly, it would probably be one of the less promoted songs that would stick with me. I miss that.

I don't really notice new music these days. I blame it on living places with bad radio reception. During my GCSEs and A Levels I revised listening to the radio (either Virgin or Classic FM, like I said, eclectic, one aimed at middle aged men, the other apparently aimed at retired people - based on the adverts). I enjoyed getting a musical education while working on my school education. When I went to university I was open to new music but, living in a concrete monstrosity for my first year, radios didn't work so well. I found out about lots of new music from friends (mostly punky stuff and guitary stuff I think - I'm not so good with genres).

Music advertising annoys me these days. It often seems the music industry is the deciding factor, rather than the actual musicians. Bands are plucked out of obscurity, made fashionable, teamed up with songwriters, image consultants etc. It just all seems so fake and prescribed. And then once they decide which song to make a hit, it is played everywhere pretty much constantly. This really puts me off.

These days I mostly buy older and older music - I'm going through a 70s punk phase at the moment - Ramones, Stiff Little Fingers etc. Older music just seems more valid somehow, back then it was about the music (and money, sex, drugs) rather than "Fame". The internet is good for this. Old albums are cheap and easy to get hold of most of the time.

The other side to the internet is the fact that individual songs can take hold and burrow their way into my brain. Sometimes a fairly simple song can become incredibly powerful with the addition of a video, or being able to look up the lyrics and background story. The internet is also good for people who create music because they love music for the sake of it. Talented people can share their skills for (effectively) free.

Some little things I like:

Mario Kart Love Song

Death Cab for Cutie, I will follow you into the dark

Radiohead, Creep

Nizlopi, JCB

Ben Folds, The Luckiest (sadly without a pretty video)

Actually looking for these links, it seems I only like songs with beautiful videos?

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Star Trek

Star Trek makes a lot more sense when the sound is working.

Our first trip to see Star Trek was last Wednesday. We went to our little local cinema, paid our money and went in. The sound seemed a little odd from the start but we just assumed it was meant to be like that to add atmosphere. It gradually worsened until the only thing that could be heard was the music. No voices. Quite disconcerting when there is obviously a lot of plot explanation and back-story elaboration going on and you have no idea what they are saying.

About 20minutes into the film it became obvious it wasn't going to improve despite a couple of people going to complain so we walked out. We did get our money back and a pair of complementary tickets but it was still annoying. Apparently they have an intermittent problem with the lazer that reads the sound. So the high and low bands were fine but the middle one (where most speech falls) wasn't.

We went to a different cinema last night to try again. Sadly this was a mainstream cinema, much more comfortable, much better sound and a much bigger screen. We'll use the complementary tickets but I don't know if we'll bother going back to the little local cinema again.

Star Trek was good but I felt somewhat confused in places despite having watched a lot of the TV serieseses when I was younger (about 12/13ish probably). For most of the film I thought the Romulans were just kind of queasy looking vulcans. Noone actually said they were different for ages. I kind of got the impression the film was made for more hardcore fans.

Also it seems that in the future, women aren't allowed to wear trousers. I just don't see the practicality of mini-skirts on a warspaceship. Surely with all the buffeting around and fighting people are going to see up it? And where do they keep their spare change? I didn't see any handbags!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Edinburgh Nocturne

This will have to be a short post as I'm going out shortly to watch Star Trek (hopefully we'll actually get to hear it this time too!!)

I went to the Edinburgh Nocturne on Saturday. I thought it was kind of false advertising actually given it finished about an hour before the sun went down so was more afternoonal than nocturnal. It was fun though. The circuit was somewhat insane. I have no idea how they managed to convince Edinburgh council that it would be a good idea to close of a few busy streets in the centre for a day so people could cycle quickly in circles. It was quite amusing seeing a variety of hen* and stag parties wandering into what is usually a Saturday night drunkard's paradise and being faced with crowds of happy cyclists.

The youth race was pretty frightening. Most of the entrants looked about 17 or 18 and like proper pros, but then a few couldn't have been more than 10 or 11. I wouldn't dare go that fast over cobbles on my roadbike never mind a race bike with anorexic tyres.

In most of the races it was really hard to tell who was winning. Each lap was about 2minutes for the fast guys so with the number of people racing it was quite hard to tell who was winning and who was being lapped. The Elite race, the Garmin team broke away fairly early on and stayed in front until the end. I only found out today that the winner was David Millar of Tour de France fame. Sadly his team mate got pushed to third by a valiant effort from someone or other on the last lap.

The most fun race was of course the folding bike race! The competitors started 30m away from their bikes. They had to run to their bikes, unfold them, then do 3laps of the course. And they were all wearing office attire:)

Sadly Rapha's gorgeous team outfits (black with flashes of pink) has made me want one of their caps. Not because they're the "performance headgear" and "the perfect addition to the well-dressed cyclist's wardrobe" but just cos they're pretty. They're also quite expensive. I bet they'd be awesome for clubbing though. Keep me cosy on my way home on the cold winter nights? Yes? Anyone convinced I need one?

*The most intriguing was a woman on her own, wandering about, obviously sober, looking for her friends. She was, "fit" is the only way to describe it. High white ribboned heels, white hotpants, a sailor-style top and sailor-style hat. Blimey. Less on show than the majority of the cyclists (lycra doesn't leave much to the imagination) but much more eye-catching!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


I don't really pay much attention to my appearance. This is probably obvious to anyone who sees me regularly. I generally try to look vaguely neat and tidy when I go to work or go out socially, however it is rare for me to wear make-up or do anything special with my hair.

Recently I had my hair cut. This happens about once a year when I'm fed up of it being really long and taking ages to wash and dry (by dry, I mean naturally, I have a hairdryer somewhere but it gets used on the bikes more than on my hair. Yes really). It is now short enough that it doesn't get in the way and still looks fairly neat, so I've been wearing it loose. It gets a bit of a brush at the start of the day, gets washed every couple of days and that's it.

Then something happened that made me notice my hair...someone said "Oh I like your hair like that, did you get it dyed?" I was quite taken aback, I've never really seriously considered dyeing my hair. The person went on to say "I really like the blonde streaks". I'm not entirely sure she believed me when I said it must just be the sunshine.

I now wonder whether everyone just assumes I dye my hair and is just too polite to mention it...

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Mistakes I Have Made

Everyone makes mistakes. Some mistakes cause vast economic/life-threatening disasters. I'm glad that I'm not a doctor, I think I'd be too concerned about the possibility of accidentally causing someone's death to actually do a good job. I am however, perfectly capable of making mistakes that don't affect anyone else but make life a little harder for myself.

Learn by my example and try not to do the following:

1. Forget to have dinner the night before cycling. 
Especially if it's with people you admire and don't want to look a fool in front of. Basically, I knew I was going cycling the next day but was busy doing lots of things, seeing lots of people, having fun. And kind of never got round to having dinner. I didn't really notice that I hadn't had dinner until about an hour into the ride, half-way up a big hill, when I realised I was severely lacking in energy. Oops.

2. Reading amusing things on the internet while lace knitting.
For those who don't know, lace knitting can be kind of complex, every row you do something different. If you lose a stitch in normal knitting it rapidly escapes and starts laddering. In lace knitting it does this too. Except it's very hard to work out where the stitches should be, or even if you've lost one. Basically you (well, I, don't know about people who are actually good at this) have to go back until the line before the dropped stitch has got to and re-knit. Simple enough, except that un-knitting lace one stitch at a time is a lot more time consuming than knitting it in the first place. So yes, don't knit lace unless you are alone and capable of concentrating.

3. Being an Admin Assistant.
Obviously Admin Assistants are all omniscient beings, put there to await your every question, help with your every need. Unfortunately they neglected to put this in the job description. Being an admin assistant, everyone will assume you spend the day drinking cups of tea, gossiping, general nothing useful. Therefore they will be quite happy to come in when they're bored, waiting for a meeting, or need something done that they can't be bothered to do themselves. 
Some examples:
"I'm having a meeting this afternoon, book me a room."
Yes, I could do this for you. Except it's not my job, in no way do I work for you, and oh yes, you have exactly the same permissions for the room-booking system.

"How do I get to the conference, is there transport?"
Right, so I'm not actually organising the conference. Plus I live and work in a different country to the conference centre. You live very near the conference centre and go there for meetings regularly. All I am going to do is google your local transport and send you a link. I feel that you could have done this yourself.

"Check the financial situation of this thing that isn't actually related to your job will you?"
Ok. But it would be easier if I had all the information and was aware of the expensive things you've asked other people to buy and didn't tell me about. So that when I realise we have several thousand pounds less than I expect I don't think I've gone mad and misplaced 10k. Because I haven't. Thankfully I've managed to find out who is actually meant to deal with this stuff and knows what the deal is, and it's hopefully not going to be a major issue. But you know, I wish I'd had all the information to begin with.

Oh, if you're interested, the lace pattern is:

The blog I was reading was:

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Job Applications

I sometimes wonder if it's just me that thinks, "I'm putting in a job application, maybe I should read over it, maybe spell check it, before sending it in". Today I have been reading 20-odd applications for a position. About half of them had glaring mistakes. 

Things that piss me off in applications:

Saying you have impeccable English. And then miss-spelling a lot of words. Of particular note were the two people who informed me their "Martial Status: Single" - what, you only fight alone? You're some sort of ninja perhaps? Also "I like to lean". That's very nice for you but I'm not sure it's appropriate for the post we have vacant.

Intimate information. Well done to your partner for getting a new job but I'm not entirely sure what the relevance is. Oh so you're married and your wife hasn't changed her surname and you don't have any children? Am I suppose to congratulate you on your support for feminism?

Clichés. "I'm flexible, and like to work hard and play hard, but I strive for a work/life balance". If you use clichés it tells me nothing other than the fact that you like clichés. This does not make me admire you.

Photographs. Please, please do not send me a photograph with your application. Especially if it is soft focus and cheesy. This scares me.

Document titles. Right, so it's not really a surprise that you're applying for other jobs. But saving your document as "Application 90" does not inspire me with hope that you are an amazing person. You are perhaps very determined and meticulous  but still, "Application" would be preferred.

Applying for the wrong thing. If you're going to include the job title in your cover letter and say how interesting the research sounds, make sure you put in the corresponding title. Not the title for another job you're applying for. No really, I will notice. Also, if the job advert says "Applicants are expected to have a PhD in a related area", this does not mean we are offering you a PhD. I know it says PhD, but you have to read the other words too.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Hair. And Dreams.

Following on from my last post, I utterly failed to get a haircut. I have been thinking I should get a haircut for about 4months now. The problem is, my hair is utterly inoffensive. If I didn't like it I would probably have gone for a haircut by now. The last time I got my hair cut short the hairdresser was shocked and appalled that someone would want *nice* hair cut *short*. She asked me about 4 times if I was *really* sure I wanted it cut. Well yes. Otherwise I wouldn't go to a hairdresser?

Plus I find going to the hairdressers quite stressful. They can't easily cut my hair if I'm wearing glasses. But if I'm not wearing glasses, how am I supposed to know what they're doing to my hair? Plus the whole personal space issue of not really liking people with sharp implements being within say 10metres of me unless I'm at least equally well-armed.

Maybe it's not so surprising my hair is currently long. Maybe I'll just wait until the Summer is really hot (yeah right) and then have it short again.

So...I've done psychology in the past so I know a bit about dreams. The whole different brainwaves, different types of sleep etc.
But what I don't know is why my dreams are the way they are. I don't always remember dreams but I do fairly often. Mostly (like other people seemingly) I forget them very quickly apart from a vague feeling. But sometimes, I have very vivid complex dreams that don't completely fade.

The other night I dreamt there had been some sort of cataclysmic event. I think war had broken out and people were panicking and trying to flee the area I was living in. I was with my boyfriend and we were trying to get some supplies together before escaping out into the countryside. Except I remember what I was thinking whilst searching for supplies. I went into a very posh chocolate shop and was thinking how annoying it was that the first time looting becomes acceptable I find a fabulous chocolate shop and shouldn't really waste my energy carrying it. I chose one box of chocolates and then went into the back of the shop where they had booze. Then spent a while trying to work out which spirit would be most suitable. Whisky or vodka, whisky or vodka. I was thinking whisky would probably be better for keeping our spirits up. But thought maybe vodka would be better for sterilising wounds. In the end I decided it was probably worth taking both just in case. And bottles would be useful for carrying water once the spirit runs out anyway. So, next thing to consider was transport. My boyfriend decided it was a great excuse to get a motorbike. I was of the opinion horses would be more suitable given they don't need petrol and are probably better at travelling cross country.
There was a fair bit more before and after but that was the most vivid part of the dream. And very bizarre. I can still remember how I felt, dithering in front of the booze.

As far as I'm aware, most people dream about people they know, places they've been, situations they have experienced. I seem to do the opposite. The majority of people in my dreams are as far as I can tell, entirely figments of my imagination. Very occasionally I will be with someone I know but that is quite rare. Last night I even took it to a new level. I bought my lunch from someone in a shop. And then saw them again at a prize ceremony (she was getting an award). She recognised me too so we had a chat. So I'll meet people I know from my dreams, in my dreams, but won't meet people I know in real life? Locations are usually entirely unrecognisable too. It's not that it's *my* home and just looks a bit funny, it's a totally different place.

Plus it turns out my dreams normally have a cinema rating of 15. Some violence but no blood on screen. Weird huh.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


It's funny, despite the fact I only started this blog for my own entertainment, I'm loathe to post in case it turns out boring. I have no expectations that anyone else will read this. But I keep thinking "No, that's not interesting enough to blog about". I'll just have to be more interesting!

Plans for tomorrow:
Investigate potential new career
Go to gym
Get a haircut
Magically transform into an interesting person?

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

First Post...

Well hello there. Whoever you are. And for whatever reason you're reading my blog.

I'm not entirely sure yet what I'm going to blog about so intend to blog about life, the universe, and everything until I decide. Current possibilities:
Other crafty stuff
Things I notice/read about that are interesting
Current Affairs
Other stuff that doesn't fit into the categories above

My main plan is just to blog about stuff that I'm interested in at the time. This may or may not bore/offend/interest you.