Tuesday, 31 July 2007


Just a quickie on the rest of the weekend, then I really ought to get back to some more work...
Joust was cancelled, due to a little spot of rain, and so Cherry and her husband, Ming, came over to our flat in order to give us our wedding outfits. Generally, poing poing poing poing poing poing poing poing poing poing poing poing poing poing poing.


Went a bit Kiki there...

The dress looks *amazing* - I am so happy with it. (and no photos until the wedding ;-) )

Plus the groom and best man looked pretty darn nifty in their outfits as well :-)

The flat hit max capacity with eight people perched on various items of furniture, and we also hit the max capacity for catering, but it was a fantastic afternoon :-D

Harry Potter

Finished in 3 1/2 hours over two sittings (one small waiting for the train on Friday, and one long session whilst hennaing my hair on Sunday). I shall give you my thoughts in the comments section of this post, as I don't want to accidentally spoil for anybody who might be passing through...

TV Programmes...

This week and last saw the last two episodes of Jekyll and the first two episodes of Heroes.
Wow! Second to last episode was fun - lots of in depth flashbacks. It did feel a little stretched out at times, and I was left with the feeling that they could have actually compressed it and added it to the final episode. However - I am so glad that they didn't! The final episode was fantastic - a brilliant build up at the beginning, and then kept me on my toes all the way through. Expected twists didn't happen, and (sometimes *very*) unexpected twists did! Very much enjoyed - I shall definitely be getting the DVD when it comes out.

An interesting start to the series. I'm glad that they ran the first two episodes back to back - I enjoyed the first episode, but it had such an introductory feel (obviously!) that it didn't leave me going "what next?" However, the second one *did*. The ending was explosive, and my jaw hit the floor! Some nice character twists, plus a few moments of complete "eeeuuuurghh!" and being grateful that I had already finished my supper! Shall watch this with interest - I am just hoping that it can sustain and increase the excitement throughout the 23(ish?) episodes - I still remember the disappointment as Lost tailed off into a soap, rather than an adventure series.

Saturday, 28 July 2007


I know I've not blogged for a while - sorry!

This week has been incredibly manic, mainly at work, but also in private life as well...

Firstly - the rain... We have been incredibly lucky in Bristol - we've managed to avoid the worst of the bad weather, but getting home on Friday night was a bit tricky. Not in the 10 hour journey that some people have had, but, for me, the half hour wait for a train to take me to Filton, after my train to Parkway vanished off the board with no announcement (and having to explain to the people who were already on the train that the reason for the hideous overcrowding was that this did appear to be the last train to leave Bristol Temple Meads!) However, I do have a lot of admiration for the platform staff at BTM - they were trying to cope with a lot of angry and upset people, without having any real information themselves, and they kept calm in the face of a lot of provocation! (I do imagine that I might have a different perspective on this if I'd had to join the queue that was stretching the whole length of platform 3 to get a chit that would then let me join the queue for a taxi...)

Saturday saw us having a lie-in for the first time in a while - very much needed - and then, in the late afternoon, heading out in glorious sunshine to Faringdon in Oxfordshire for Paul Cornell's birthday party. Now, given the weather (and the fact that my colleague's wife had called in the afternoon from Swindon to say that the M4 had been shut), we had contacted Paul to ask if Faringdon was ok and if the party was still on. All fine, we were reassured, he had even driven to Oxford and back that morning. Now, what Paul didn't know was that, although the road to Oxford was fine, there were a few puddles on the ground on the other roads leading to Faringdon. I had already done an internet search, and found that the direct route, going round Swindon, was right out (with 2 hour tail backs on the Saturday afternoon due to closed roads),but the M4 was still open. No worries, we could come off the M4 at Junction 14, and go via Wantage (which was still above water at that point), going across country from there (which was lucky, as the AA's non-motorway directions sent us through Tewkesbury...).

First part of the plan came off without any hitches whatsoever. A clear run along the M4, with a nice quick journey through and out the other side of Wantage. We then followed the AA directions, heading out through East and West Challow and towards Stanford in the Vale. Which is where we saw our first "real" flooding - there was a "no through" sign on the road going forwards, and a turning to the left that was about 1/4 foot deep. Now, any sensible travellers at that point would have turned round, and taken the long route to Abingdon and cut across there. But not us adventurous types in our highly rugged Fiat Punto. We were debating whether to ignore the sign (how bad could it be?), when a car came the other way (i.e. passing the no through sign), stopped and the window opened. The driver inside explained that the road was passable, and only flooded in four places. He then looked at the car and said "you might get your feet wet...". So, with this vote of confidence ringing in our ears, we decided to press on. Not long thereafter, we saw the water stretching across the road, and decided to try to get round the water by turning off towards Goosey (when I can figure out how to do it, I'm going to get Google Maps to show our twisting route...) This was our second mistake. As we turned off the A road and onto the twisty, high hedged B road, my aim (as map reader) was to get us round Stanford. Unfortunately, what I didn't register was that we were also following the line of the river Ock, which was now slightly larger than the little line that appeared on the map. When we came up to the first flood across the road, it didn't appear that deep, and we saw a junction ahead that looked like it would take us away from the worst of the flooding. So we forged on through (big splash!) and turned away from Charney Bassett (at this point we are heading further and further away from Faringdon...) The roads were getting smaller and twistier, and turning round points were getting fewer and further between. But, hardy souls that we are, we weren't going to let a spot of water trouble us, and kept going through floods that were getting deeper. The one that made me realise that I was actually getting quite scared was where we could see the current flowing across the road, and felt it buffeting the car. However, at this point, we didn't have any real option but to keep going and see if we could either find a spot where we could turn round without going onto a verge (most of which resembled swamps) or find some way of getting out of the floods. My aim on mapreading was to try to find a way of getting us to an A road, any A road, where, we believed, the roads would be in better condition, and we might even have diversions in place... However, there were a few little puddles that were in our way! We ended up following another car - a 4X4 - he would go through ahead, and then, when he reached the next dry point, we would start going through. Even watching him, it was very nerve wracking not being sure where the road would suddenly dip, and we'd have no choice but to swim! Unfortunately, this state of affairs came to an abrupt end when, at a bend in the road, he decided to turn round. It was at that point that we thought that if a 4x4 was having second thoughts about the depth of the water, then our little Fiat probably shouldn't attempt it. So, after he passed us (very helpfully stopping to give us directions to Uffington, where we could then cut up to Faringdon - we decided that we would not risk another cross-country run...), we got to his turning point, did a multiple pointer, and headed back through the floods. One of the puddles gave us a bit of a panic as the car slowed to an absolute crawl, and we had to give it lots of words of encouragement to get through the deepest bit. We ended up pretty much retracing our steps to Wantage, then up towards Abingdon, meaning to cut across to Kingston Bagpuize. But that road was cut off as well, and we decided not to risk it, particularly after seeing another diversion where a group of people were trying to work out how to get the tow-truck out of the floods... It was absolutely heart breaking going through some of these villages, and seeing the flooded bungalows and houses. It's very difficult for me to avoid flashbacks to when Wellesbourne flooded in 1998.

However, once we had got onto the main road to Oxford, bypassed the city, and then got onto the A420 down to Faringdon, it was suddenly plain sailing. We were even able to scoff at the few floods that we did have to drive through - why, you could see the white lines on the road - not deep at all!

Finally, only an hour later than we intended, we arrived in Faringdon, in the pouring rain. Fortunately, the owners of the lovely B&B that we stayed in (Livingston House) were very quick to let us in and show us to our room. (the Stephen King room - behind the door was a bookshelf containing a vast collection of (mainly) Stephen King books, apparantly belonging to the owner's son)

A quick change from John later, and we were back out down to the Portwell Bar where Paul's party was in full swing. It was a great evening - I had fully expected that I would spend a lot of the time sitting in the corner people watching, as I would know very few people there. Instead, not only did I recognise a lot of people from when we went to the Faringdon Arts Festival, but it was such an easy going atmosphere that we felt able to sit down and join in conversations. The evening passed in a haze of good company, thai curry and cider (and then a "cornetto" of red wine and a sip of the nicest rum and coke I have ever tried). We ended up getting back to the B&B just after 2. As breakfast was at 8-9, I had set the alarm for 8...

In fact, I actually woke up closer to 7, without too bad a headache. For some reason, my body decided that it had had enough sleep, and it wasn't going to let me doze for the alarm clock. So I picked up "The Stand", and managed to get nearly 200 pages into it before breakfast time (closer to 9 than 8...). Breakfast was just what I needed - cereal, toast, bacon, orange juice and coffee (the full English was available, and eagerly taken by John and the other two guests (also from Paul's party), but I have long since learned that my stomach can tolerate bacon after alcohol, but otherwise nothing cooked for breakfast! Then to the town triangle to meet up with Paul and the other survivors from the party. We had a great second breakfast, sat outside on the cobbled pavement, enjoying the warm (ish) air, the vague attempts of the sun to break through the clouds, the bell ringers, and the tractor taking various lambs to market. After a hot chocolate, with the most lurid marshmallows you could imagine, and another bacon sandwich, plus a good couple of hours of chatting, we decided to part and attempt the journey home. As we were going to be going via Oxford, Paul asked if we and another car could give a lift to a couple of bods who were needing to get the train home. Off we went, and, after searching for a useable road into Oxford, we discovered on arrival at the station that there were no trains running, and no alternative transport available. Fortunately for three of the folks that had been given lifts to the station, they lived in Bath, so we offered them a lift back on our way through to Bristol. The capacity of a Fiat Punto just about fits four adult males and one adult female, all slightly hungover...

All in all, a weekend to remember - fantastic fun, and the adventure made it all the more lasting :-)

Still to come - the rest of my week (I didn't think that Saturday would take up *this* much space - well done for getting to the bottom of it!), plus the story that is now a whole paragraph long.....

Friday, 20 July 2007


Tender deadline today. (3pm - email tender)
Business manager has been "working on it" for 2 weeks.
We get the documents at 4pm yesterday for proofreading.
We finish proofreading and correcting at 2.30
I get email together.
I suddenly think - I can't remember who the email is supposed to be addressed to, so open up the original document. Which states that the tender has to be laid out in a specific way.
Which the documents that BM gave me aren't.
It is now 2.45
Panic and call BM over to work out which bits in his docs are supposed to go where in *their* doc.
Get tender emailed out at 2.58....
(BM buys us chocolate to say sorry!)

Fortunately my lovely new person is shaping up fantastically - there is no way that I could have got this sorted without her! :-)

There is a story idea shaping in my head, but I haven't had time to get it on paper - it will come soon!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

What I did on my weekend...

The weeks are flashing by at the moment - it is rather scary to think that in 7 weeks' time, I will be Mrs Toon.
However, this weekend was a mixture of wedding preparation and taekwon do.
Saturday mid morning to early afternoon was spent at the Castle School in Thornbury desparately trying to stop my muscles going onto autopilot whilst doing my patterns, line work and step sparring in front of an examiner. The problem is that I've practiced these so much that my muscles know what they are doing without a huge amount of intervention from my brain - this does, however, lead to sloppy work (and the occasional complete "Huh?" moment as my brain wakes up and tries to remember what it is actually supposed to be doing!) However, the questions that I was asked were reasonably easy (not exactly what was on the sheet, but, as I'd been expecting that from the last grading, I'd memorised more than just the "You will be asked 4 out of these 10 questions" section)
So - I am now officially a yellow belt - 8th Kup and definitely off the bottom rungs of the ladder. At this point, I'm expected to be getting a good groundwork in the basics (the meaning of the yellow being "The ground from which the plant grows"), and probably shouldn't be still being muddled between side kick and turning kick...
So - after TKD, John took the car into town to drop off some books at Oxfam, and I killed people on Theme Hospital (yes, it's an old game. Yes, it isn't the best God game about, but I find it very relaxing, and can lose a good couple of hours in it without any trouble!)
Then, when he got back, we headed to Cribbs, John to buy some new trousers, and me to see what Per Una had to offer... (I *hate* clothes shopping with a passion. Even the thought of it gives me a headache. But for some reason, I love Per Una - it is my one fashion weakness. Fortunately, even though it is slightly on the pricey side, it isn't the most expensive shopping habit I could have!) I was very restrained in the end - after going into the changing rooms with a total of 8 items, I only came away with 2 - a new pair of linen trousers and a lovely Batik kaftan. So my hunter-gatherer instinct is assuaged for the time being :-)
Then home for my favourite butternut squash recipe (halved, brushed with oil, roasted in the oven for 40 mins, with slow fried veg, goat's cheese and parmesan breadcrumbs over the top), and Jekyll...
Now - I am one of the demographic that the BBC hates. Unless I have a really good motivation to watch TV, I don't, and my motivation severely dips if I don't watch a series regularly. Last week Jekyll was bumped for some small concert, and it felt like a big effort to sit down and concentrate for an hour, even though I was left bouncing on the edge of my seat at the end of the last episode. However, this episode was really worth the effort! It was all told in flashback, with about half an hour of "now" time passing. I am really enjoying this form of story telling - moving the current story on slowly, and letting us try to piece it all together. It definitely wouldn't be as fun being told in linear format. Some lovely lines, including the really cheeky "Are you my Daddy?" (and if you don't get it, then go and watch "The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances", also by Steve Moffat), and I am loving Gina Bellman as Claire Jackman - she really got to come into her own in this episode. And we are out next weekend, so I'm going to have to wait for the Replay on Sunday to see how this cliffhanger ends! (nice BBC didn't spoil edge-of-seat cliffhanger with a trailer - I was shocked!)
Sunday we had a lovely long lie in - they don't happen that often, so I tend to make the most of them (and then completely smash my sleeping patterns as a result!), and then off to Tortworth Court to meet with our wedding photographer. Tony Charnock (although his website isn't loading at the moment!) is a really nice, genuine guy. He was really helpful - getting us to think about things that we hadn't even considered (such as "What time will you be getting ready?"), and was really enthusiastic about the dress (he was dreading that I was going to say I was getting married in Ivory, which apparantly is a pain to try to get right in a photo!) He also showed us a number of different albums, including a book - i.e. you have your wedding photos vanity published into a really nice coffee table book! (I'm hoping that this will be on his website when it comes back up again - if so, I'll link to it...) Unfortunately, that option doubled the overall costs, and wasn't *really* justifiable! So we've gone for a lovely leather bound digital print option, (again, if the option becomes available on his website, I'll link to it...), where the layout isn't just photo;photo;photo - there are lots of overlays and backgrounds (difficult to explain!)
And then, Sunday evening was TKD again - this time a fitness evening, where we spent over an hour and a half (because Kerry lost track of the time!) doing skipping, stomach crunches, running and other circuit exercises. Great fun, but my legs are paying for it now - every time I stand up, my muscles have shortened by another inch!
Finally, back home for the sausages that wouldn't cook (15 minutes in the George Fornby grill, plus 10 minutes extra (after I cut them open and realised they were still pink), plus half an hour or so under the grill. John ate them, I didn't...), and a mild panic when I realised that the info on the wedding ceremony should have been with South Glos council two weeks ago... Fortunately, they let me fax the completed copy through today...

Friday, 13 July 2007

Honeymoon Excitement

I've just booked the hotel for the honeymoon - we are going to be staying for 6 nights at the First Hotel Marin in Bergen. (The photos on the website aren't as good as the ones on Expedia, but I can't link directly there, as Expedia wipes the search each time)

And the very nice lady in the Bergen Tourist Office pointed me towards the Fjord Pass people, where, for spending 120 NOK (approx £12 when the credit card commission is added), I managed to save approx £200 on the hotel costs! Not to be sniffed at, and the savings will almost cover the activities that we are going to do - the Royal Fjord Tour and the Hardanger Fjord Tour.

So I'm very excited now - the flights are booked, the hotel is booked, and I'm going to wait until after the 15th to book the tours and get the currency, as it will be a bit easier on the credit card and bank account!

How to embarrass yourself in three easy steps

...and one very hard one.

(1)Join queue for train
(2)Go to get onto train
(3)Miss train step completely. Fall down gap between train and platform. Hang by your arms from the train door, unable to gain a foothold to climb back up. Listen to everyone laughing...

Some kind soul on the platform eventually took pity on me and helped me back up, and, aside from a skinned knee, it was only my pride that was hurt.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

The scariness of Facebook

I've not been on Facebook *that* long - since Easter or thereabouts.

However, I now have 56 Friends on there. And only one of them I don't actually know (she had the same name as a primary school friend. Her photo was similiar (or how I thought she might look, given that the last time I saw her was over 10 years ago...). But I don't actually know her. However, it is a bit unnerving that
(a) I appear to be the only Jo Foster on there - there are lots of John / Joanne etc Fosters on there, but only one Jo;
(b) I've only added 5 or 6 of those friends myself. Everyone else has come and found me...

There are also three photos of me that I didn't add - one of me in the background at a student-theatre rehearsal; one of me doing a sack race at a company party (and I didn't fall over!); and one of me aged 10 in my primary school leavers' photo. I'm not sure which is scarier - that those photos exist and are online, or that I'm not actually that embarrassed by the photos (I think the one of me aged 10 is rather cute!)

But I'm enjoying the phenomena that is Facebook- I'm now in touch with people that I never thought I'd hear from again, and I'm hoping that the ease of writing on someone's "wall" or sending them a quick message will help me to stay in touch better than writing emails!

The people in my head

Inspired partly by Jekyll and partly by my own insanity...

There are too many people in my head for one brain to cope with. They bicker and argue worse than siblings on a wet day. And I never know who is going to look out of my eyes when the alarm clock goes off in the morning.
They split themselves into two groups, and but struggle between themselves for control.

The happy group...
There is the sensible, "Mumsy" one. She is the one that makes the lists and does the housework, and the one who tuts at the dirty carpet whenever any of the others ignores the mess.
There is the childish one. She's the one who makes me want to make an objection in weddings, to tell people what I really think of them. She's also the one who enjoys eating jelly snake sweets, who thinks that thunderstorms and downpours are great fun, and giggles at cartoons.
There is the one that is me at my most balanced. The one who makes the rational decisions, but who can also let of steam and have some fun.

The sad group...
There is the argumentative one. She is the most approachable of the sad group, but is also the one that, when not in contol, questions everything. She's the one who answers back and snaps.
There is the melancholy one. She's the one who takes the colour out of the days, who will take everything the wrong way. She spends all her time trying to stop the child from giggling.
Then there is the violent one. She doesn't come to the surface much, but usually follows on the heels of the argumentative one. She's the one who will hit the walls or hold the hot pan for too long. I'm scared of her.

They are all me, but they are all different.

Friday, 6 July 2007

Random Musings

Inspired by travelling down the motorway and the Dr Who programme guides I've been reading...

Time is a one way process. In the same way that we travel down a motorway, we live life in one direction. The speed of the journey depends on the driver - some people enjoy the speed and thrills of living life at 100mph, but they will reach their journey's end faster as well. Others are juggernauts, bulling their way through, intimidating the slower drivers who don't want to conform to the speed that the lorry is going. Slow drivers might seem to potter, but they get there in the end.
But what if, as on a motorway, we could see people coming the other way? Those who have already lived through what we are about to encounter? People who, unknowing of what they are doing, could give us a clue as to what lies ahead. We would have to be skilled at reading the signs - the lit headlamps and slowing windscreen wipers showing the storms ahead. Occasionally, one or two would be aware of us, and try to alert us, flashing their headlights to warn of the police speed checks.
And, once we became aware of the opposite flow, could we find a way to join them? To find the junctions and roundabouts to travel in the opposite direction? To rewind time and our journey to the beginning.

Thursday, 5 July 2007

July already...

Dr Who is over and done with - and the two parter went from being edge of my seat at the cliffhanger, to slumped back on the sofa, guessing correctly each cliche before it happened. Highly disappointed (and then with the news that bloody Catherine Tate is going to be back in the TARDIS next series. If the point of the companion is to be the face/voice of the audience, then it shows what RTD thinks of us all :-( I really enjoyed having an intelligent companion - one that I could actually relate to )

I have nothing more to say on the subject - these guys did it so much better.

In other news - had my coil fitted last week. Still hurting today, so the guys on the Lush Forum pointedly told me that I should get it checked out - apparantly a week isn't normal. So hours at the drs this morning, and then a trek to the hospital this afternoon, to be told that everything is fine. Which is a good thing.