Thursday 29 August 2013

"Up at the O2"

The last time I went to the O2 Arena I was doing the Shine Walk for Cancer Research in 2011.  A gruelling 13 miles (half a marathon) in the dark.  I'm still not sure why I decided to take this challenge on my own.  I mean don't get me wrong it's for a great cause, but I really didn't think it through.  If I remember rightly I had originally planned to do a 5km run but decided that was too easy and if I really wanted money from people I would have to do something more difficult.  That thought didn't sink in and if I'm honest (despite the fact that I can't walk for more than five minutes without getting blisters) I didn't think it would be that hard.  The walk started at 11pm and I was convinced I would be finished at 1 maybe 2am.  It was a laughably stupid thing to think.  I even did no training as I thought I would be fine.  I was so very, very wrong.  I believe it was closer to 4.30am when I came to the end of the walk, covered in blisters and hobbling towards the O2.  On a side note, if you ever decide to do a late walk on your own (I wouldn't recommend it, you need the moral of others) audio books are great.  I laughed (out loud) the whole way round listening to Michael McIntyre's book much to the bemusement of other walkers.  Anyway, I had nearly arrived back, the O2 was insight and I thought that finally I could sit down and more importantly sleep, but no.  To finish the walk you basically had to walk almost the entire circumference of the building to get your medal (I couldn't have cared less about my medal) and then once you had finished you had to walk all the way to your parked car and drive for an hour to get home!  I really wouldn't recommend driving at 5am having had no sleep.  It really isn't safe.  I can safely say I wasn't looking forward to seeing that dome again.

This time however it was going to be a bit different.  I wasn't going to walk the circumference of the dome (and London) I was going to walk the radius.  I was going to walk over the top of the dome.  I was going "Up at the O2".  I had no idea what I was letting myself in for but it seemed like a fun idea to walk over the Millennium Dome.   When you arrive you have to fill out a "Death Form" as I like to call it, which is for their insurance in case you fall off and die, or more likely injure yourself.  Then you are taken into a briefing room.  I felt like I was going to be launched into space what with all the equipment but sadly we were just going 52 meters above the ground.  There is then a very cringeworthy video about common sense health and safety crap that the majority of people are sensible enough to know without being told.  The guy being filmed tried to be funny but sadly his audience is far too British to seen to be laughing at the "Dad" jokes.  The only interesting thing I learnt was how much effort they put into building the dome to make it fit in with the Greenwich Time Zone thingy which it is apparently on.  This means that the dome is 365 meters in circumference (365 days in a year), 52 meters high (52 weeks in a year) and probably some other time related measurements that I can't remember.  Then I was told many-a-time to go to the toilet (I'm not 6!) but I listened anyway because I have the bladder of a mother (sorry).  You then put on your harness, jackety thing and special grippy shoes before you make the assent.  We had a guide that strangely learnt my name at the beginning and seemed very proud of this fact and so every time he spoke to me he used it.  At first I felt special, by the end I was a little bit weirded out.

It was quite a steep climb up and then down the other side but once you are up, the views of London are great.  I think the bit I enjoyed most was the ascension and the declension mainly because I could laugh at the ineptitude of my fellow climbers.  Having said that looking over a dusked London in clear skies was pretty special and at the end of our trip someone in Greenwich set off some fabulous fireworks to end our evening.

I would give the evening 4*s  especially as you can get cheap tickets for a mere £25 which I think is pretty reasonable.

Forget the crappy London Eye (no one has bothered talking my up it, so I assume it's crap) and face you fears to climb the Millennium Dome (sunset would be the ideal time) and go "Up at the O2".  I dare you.

Katie :)

Wednesday 28 August 2013

My Granddad's an Alien

I wrote a poem 'cos I'm cool like that.

My Granddad’s an Alien

He’s as tall as the sky
And as fat as the moon.
He’s got a great big nose
And four eyes just in case.
His teeth might look scary
But please don’t you worry,
He doesn’t eat people,
Just chairs and a table.
My Granddad’s an alien
Is yours not one too?

His feet are all hairy
They are big like a giant’s.
He’s as green as the grass
When he’s not feeling blue.
For my Granddad is sad
As he's covered in boils
From his head to his toe.
And my friends they all sing
“Your Granddad’s an alien
He’s not like you or me.”

But I want to tell them,
To sing in their faces,
“My Granddad is smelly
And farts all the time.
He blames it on Grandma
Or me and the dog
The farting is never
From my Granddad himself”

The truth about Granddad?
I’ll tell you a secret.
He may be an alien,
But that doesn’t mean
He's not like your Granddad.
He’s just as old and he's just as deaf.
My Granddad’s an alien
Is yours not one too?

Katie Shuster

Monday 26 August 2013

"I don't speak French!"

This was all I said on my four day trip to France/Paris!  I was going to the south of France for a wedding and decided to stop in Paris for a day and night.  Easy peasey you might think.  Well I thought so too, which was why I went on my own.  Sadly although most of it was easy,  I have managed to come up with a list of eight things not do when in Paris.

Eight things not to do in Paris

1.  Don't miss the eurostar train.  It's not hard, you are given a time and you arrive an hour early.  Sadly I was incapable of doing this.

2.  Don't when getting on the metro get you bag caught in the barriers, as this results in your bag being left on the wrong side of the barrier and you with no means of getting to it.

3.  Don't throw money at a bus driver when you don't understand him.

4.  Don't when buying a train ticket with a "man in a booth" think that when he says "That will be five sixty-five" think 'oh that's a strange to tell the time, maybe I've miss heard him and meant 5.55'.  I slowly realised that he was of course telling me the price of my train ticket. (In my defence it was 17.30 at the time so he could have been telling me the time. No?)

5.  Don't take a really really heavy bag and think you can float around paris wearing a fedora hat and long skirt.  What you will actually do is stumble around trying not to collapse under the shear weight of said bag.

6.  Don't walk in the wrong direction continually when trying to find a chic 'century old coffee shop' that after walking round in circles for an hour is closed and being refurbished.  This was also made worse by my bag (see number 5).

7.  Don't wear a skirt that is too long so you trip because you don't have enough hands to lift it up.  Also don't wear said skirt with its elasticated waist as the weight of bag and you stepping on the bottom with make your skirt move southwards as you fall to the ground. The whole chic-look is not great when you are a heap on the floor.

8.  Don't forget to take essential items such as knickers and tampons.

I also came up with a list of five cool/weird things in paris so that you don't think I'm a complete idiot and spent my time in paris in a heap on the floor with my skirt round my ankles.

Five cool/weird things in Paris

1.  Full string orchestra in the metro.

2.  Pianos in train stations for anyone to have a bash at.  There were some very good players and singers.

3.  Condom vending machines on street corners. (I obviously bought one at every street corner because I thought it would mean sex with random French men on street corners* - sadly it didn't). *this might not have actually happened.

4.  The old style train station in the village I spent the night at.

5.  The double decker trains.

As I said I did have a great time and below are some pictures what I took.

 The double decker train

 The old style train station

St Magdalene's church in Madeline (I think!)

Me in my fedora hat outside the church above

Cool Harry Potter style train

The pianos at the station

My first meal in paris (and more importantly my first glass of wine!)

A few from the wedding:

 Katie :)

Thursday 15 August 2013

Florence and the Douch Part 3.

Here is Part 1 and Part 2 incase you missed them, or want to recap...

Part 3

Florence began by standing where the audience should have been.

"Tonight on the show we have an unknown comedian trying to make it big.  I don't think she's going to get many laughs tonight is she ladies and gentlemen?"

She moved around and pretended to be all of the audience and shouted "No!" She then moved back to the centre of the audience to resume her role as the interviewer and flung her arms out and said "Let's start the show!"  Florence then turned around so that she could face her 'audience'.  She held up a big picture of Amber as a child with chocolate smeared over her face.

"Oh, oh, hello everyone. We have a cracking line up for you. Tonight on the show we have one of Britain's most well respected comedians, Amber Birch. Well, at least that's what I've been told to say. I've never heard of the girl!" Florence began to laugh. "Anyway let's bring some guests on. Ladies and gentlemen it's Ammmmberrr Birch!"

Amber walked in and waved to the audience.  Florence rushed over to Amber and gave her a big hug before ushering her to the sofa and sitting on her own swivel chair.

"So Amber, it's a pleasure to have you on our show.  I hope you didn't mind my little joke earlier?" Florence smiled and cocked her head backwards.

"Oh, no of course not. We are new on the block as they say."  Amber grinned at the 'audience' and crossed her legs awaiting the next question.

"Yes, you are.  So where is your delightful partner in crime, was she too busy to come this evening? Florence asked.

"Unfortunately my darling Florence is getting her arse bleached.  She has priorities that girl does!" 'Kerching' Amber thought.  That was quite a witty response.

"Right, right.  Ok.  Now, where did you two meet?  It was at school wasn't it.  You two didn't hit it off straight away did you?" Florence was starting to enjoy being the interviewer.  She wondered if Amber was going to mention the tray incident in her final year at school.  Or just go straight to when they first started making sketches together.

"Well, it's a bit embarrasing really.  Florence would kill me if I told you but we met...we met in the park one day.  We live quite close you see and I saw Florence in the corner of the park sitting on the floor.  I thought this was strange and she was all alone so I braved it and went over. " Florence looked thoroughly confused, whilst Amber was trying to stiffle her giggles. "I went over there and asked her if she was alright?  She told me she had had a bit of an accident.  I enquired as to the nature of the accident and all she could mutter was 'shit' and 'pants'.  She spoke again and this time the response was clearer.  'I've shat my pants' she cried.  'I can't move'.  I couldn't move either.  I just sat on the floor and burst into laughter.  It was frigging hilarious.  I always carry around spare pants for Florence just in case!"  Amber burst into laughter.

"I shat my pants did I? That's new?" A smile was starting to break on Florence's face and Amber laughter became infectious.  "Imagine if that actually happened? What on earth would you do?" Florence giggled back.

"Buy a nappy?" Amber was now rolling on the floor in fits of giggles and Florence was close behind her.

"Do they sell adults nappies?" Florence enquired.

"Of course they don't you dimwit." Amber retorted.

"But I think I need one now, I'm about to pee myself" As she said that, a little bit of wee did actually come out of Florence. "It's too late, it's happened. I've actually peed myself. Oh God, help me!" Amber and Florence laughed and laughed until they were red in the face and were in serious pain.  That was end of their practice interview.  They probably wished they'd tried harder before the first proper one came about.

The interviewer spoke quietly.  She had enquired about their name, Florence and the Douch, "Well Amber is a douch so it was obvious really and besides we both love Florence and the Machine so it was kind of a tribute to her" Florence answered.  She then went on to ask when they first met.  Amber took the reins and began to talk about their time at school.

"Well we didn't hit it off straight away.  In fact I'm not sure Florence knew who I was for most of the time at school.  Everyone knew who she was and how shit her life had had been whilst at the same time being the most popular girl at school.  I was impressed, don't get me wrong, but I think she kind of used her mother's death to her advantage." A flash of anger swept over Florence's face and she clenched her fingers shut. "I don't think she did it on purpose, but come on it certainly helped her popularity.  You know, I had shit going on myself, but no one cared about that".  Amber knew she should stop, but she couldn't.  She had never told anyone about this.

"What shit had you gone through then.  You've never told me." Florence hissed back.

"Well, that's because you've never asked.  No one ever did.  I'm just saying, you weren't the only one with shit going on back then.  You just liked to wear it on your sleeve, whereas I kept it hidden." Amber was really getting into this.

"I kept stuff hidden, you know I did." Florence was starting to tear up.

"What the abortion? Half the school knew about that.  I'm suprised your dad didn't find out and kick you out." Shit, thought Amber. I've gone too far. Shit, shit shit. Why did I say that? Why? "I'm sorry I didn't mean it.  Florence never had an abortion.  Please don't print that, it will kill her dad.  It's not true, I just made it up.  I was angry." Amber was pleading with the interviewer, but she knew the damage was already done.  Florence got up and stormed out of the door.  Amber saw her wipe tears off her cheek. "Please don't print that, I'm begging you.  Look I've got to go, but please, please I will do anything for you to not put that in the article.  Florence's dad has been through too much.  This lie will tear him apart."  Amber could say no more.  She ran after Florence but knew there was nothing she could say that could make this right again. Florence and the Douch was over before it had even started.  She was a total bitch and she hated herself.

The magazine printed the article with the bit about the abortion right at the top. "Florence had secret abortion that might lead to end of Florence and the Douch before it had even started".  It had been two weeks since Florence and Amber had spoken.  Two episodes of their show had gone out and it was a massive hit.  More and more people asked them to do interviews but until they spoke, this was not on the cards.

Amber knew she was in the wrong.  Florence had no idea what she'd been through and it wasn't her fault.  Amber had rung up Mr Brown, Florence's dad and apologised prefusely.  He hung up on her.  She tried again and again, but each time he put the phone down.

As the third week of silence loomed, Maureen decided that enough was enough.  She knew that these two idiots would make her a lot of money.  She was not, not, going to let them fall out and split up under her watch.  She devised a Parent Trap style meeting and practically locked them in a room, but not before she had a strong word with the pair of them.

"Amber, I don't want to sound like your teacher, or your mother, but I have never been more disappointed in you.  You have let me down, you have let Florence down, and most of all, you have let yourself down.  I don't know why you did what you did, but you obviously have a lot bottled up.  I want you to share with Florence whatever happened back at school.  You two have to get through this.  Everybody loves your show and they are going to want more and more and believe you me when I say this, they will get more if it is the last thing I do.  Now I'm going to go and get some coffee whilst you two sort this out.  Florence I know she hurt you, but try to be open to her reasoning, please." Maureen left the room without looking back.  She prayed to God they would work it out.  The girls were left in silence and just as the silence was about to consume them Florence took a deep breath and broke it.

"So. Why did you do it?" Florence spoke, trying not to convey any emotion.

"I don't know." Amber replied and immediately regretted her hostile tone. "I mean, I don't know why I did it then.  I snapped ok, and I'm sorry.  It's always been about you. You were the popular one, you had your life ruined when your mum died and you had that abortion.  You life was shit and yet you carried on, you pretended like nothing had happened."

"I didn't pretend like nothing had happened.  I had to get on with my life.  No one wants to be friends with the girl who keeps complaining about her life.  You may have hated me for being popular, hated me for dealing with my shit, but I had to.  Being popular when your life crumbles around you is horrible.  Everybody new my business.  Everyone wanted to give me their condolences, not because they cared, but because they knew.  I'm not saying being popular didn't have its perks, of course I'm not.  But don't blame my popularity, my way of dealing with my shit on what you did to me.  Dad was fucking heart broken."  Florence was angry and she was finding it more and more difficult to hold it back. "So why the fuck did you do it? What have I done to you that was so fucking terrible that made you want to ruin my life and ruin our career?" Florence couldn't contain the anger and screamed the last few words at Amber.

"I don't know." Amber whispered back.

"What?" Florence spat out her words.

"I said I don't fucking know." Amber tried to hold back the tears. "Look I am so fucking sorry for what I did.  I have regretted it every single day.  But you have to understand.  I had my own shit at school and I was jealous, ok, jealous of everyone feeling sorry for you. Yes your life was shit, but so was fucking mine and I have had to deal with it on my own.  People made jokes at school at it because they didn't know, they didn't mean to, but everytime it was like someone was stabbing my heart.  I couldn't tell my friends.  I couldn't even tell you." Amber was now sobbing.  She wiped makeup and tears off her face and left smudges under her eyes.  If they weren't having the biggest arguement of their lives right now, Amber and Florence would have laughed at this.  They would have laughed at the panda eyes until their sides ached.

Florence couldn't care less about Amber's panda eyes.  In fact she could barely look at Amber.  "What can't you tell?"  She said in the coldest voice she could muster.

Come back soon for Amber's big secret.

Katie :)


Firstly well done on going to collect the buggers.  It's not easy.  I remember 3 years ago (shit 3 years?!) I made the drive to school, alone.  I remember getting there and everyone was standing with their parents.  I tried to act cool about the whole thing.  "Oh who needs parents, I just gunna do this thing and get the hell out of there".  Secretly I was gutted.  My dad was at work and quite frankly I don't think it even occurred to him to be there and my mum, well my mum was dead so I'll admit it was a tad tricky for her to attend.

The good think about only getting three results is that I was pretty convinced I knew what my results where going to be.  A, B, C.  You get predictions and you normally do about as well as your AS results.  There were a few shocks in my year, but I'm friends with very clever A* people so there were no disasters for them.  But the whole results thing.  It really doesn't matter.

I know people keep going on about this, but it's true.  I have just graduated from uni and I have no idea what I want to do.  I am sat at home and I'm pretty certain university has hindered rather helped this.  Don't get me wrong, I loved most of my time at uni, but would I do it again? I'm not so sure... It's a hellava lot of money and everyone goes to uni now that you can no longer do it to stand out from the crowd.

The other thing which I think is cruel about the modern era (O dear I really am 80) is social networks.  If you don't get into uni or you don't get the results you were hoping for, you get to see everyone else's happy statuses about which uni they're going and how happy they are.  Just remember that only the people that are have done well have written those statuses.  There are loads of people out there just like you, that might not have done as well as they'd hoped.  I have one piece of advice for anyone out there, whether you did good or bad -

Everything happens for a reason.

This is my moto in life and it helps me get through a whole heap of shit.  Didn't get into uni? It doesn't matter, something even better will come up.  Got bad results? It doesn't matter, exams aren't for you.  Think about what you are good at and go for that.  Reach for stars!  (I'm not saying that it is going to be easy. I'm sat on a sofa completely freaking out about my future but I'm hoping that with a little help from God, something will happen and I will become the next Jennifer Saunders!)  Keep positive, or at least try to.

Katie :)

Tuesday 13 August 2013

The weather...

Here is the world's most dullest blog post...

Whilst deciding what to write about, I looked out of the window to see blue skies.  About ten minutes earlier it had been pissing it down so much so that it prompted me to tell everyone.  Now don’t start thinking that I’m a weirdo that goes around the house saying, “Ooh look, it’s raining”.  No, I am much more interesting that.  My conversation with my cousin went like this, “What have you done to the weather?” She looked at me before wandering off ignoring me.  Okay so I am a weather weirdo but we all are aren’t we?  It’s a British thing… 

It may be British, but that doesn’t make it right.  I find myself when the conversation stops to comment on the weather, “It’s rather chilly isn’t it” or “I’m really not enjoying this heat”.  This never works.  I never magically re-evoke a thrilling conversation.  In fact it normally results in people looking at me, vaguely agreeing with my comment and then walking off, because in fact what they are thinking is, ‘Of course I don’t like the fact that it is raining because you and I are both stood in the rain getting absolutely soaked you twerp!’

I still do it though, all the time and it is beginning to annoy me.  I hear myself and want to shrink into a ball as soon as the words have left my mouth.  So why do I do it?  Why do any of us do it?  Are our conversations in Britain so dull that they only thing we have in common is that fact that it is so cold you can see my nipples through my shirt today.  

I don’t actually have the answer but I do have a solution.  From now on, I am going to wear a random hat or bowtie or boxers on my head.  I am going to wear something that will undoubtedly provide a conversation starter that is not weather related.  

It won’t work though, we are all too British and even if I walked around naked no one would bat an eyelid.  

Katie :)

Sunday 11 August 2013

Fashionista? Pah!

So I'm really bad at the whole fashion thing.  I want to be good.  I really want to be good, but I'm not and here's why.

1. I'm lazy.  In my opinion the hour in the morning that some people spend doing hair, makeup and choosing their outfit would be better off sleeping.  Sleeping is superior to fashion.  End of.

2.  I have the world's most coveted body shape... apparently.  "Oh you're so lucky, boobs and hips and a tiny waist, it's what everyone wants".  No they don't.  Ok, well maybe you do, but high street fashion does not and therefore no clothes fit me.

3. I have zero confidence.  I see clothes that I think look great on people, bright colours, crop tops etc.  Would I wear them?  No.  What happens if I wear it wrong and end up looking like a total div?  No. (by the way I have serious issues with the whole crop top thing - the only people that look ok - not great, ok - are those with completely flat stomachs.  How many people do you know with a completely flat stomach? Not many I would suggest.  Therefore the crop top looks ok on very few people.  The fashion industry obviously doesn't care because it sells them to everyone.  I don't want to see people with muffin tops wearing crop tops.  I don't have the confidence to wear one, and I don't have the body to wear one.  England is getting fatter, yet fashion is catering to the thin 1%.  What is this?!)

So you see.  I am the kinda gal that likes to wear jeans and a plain top.  I have 2 maybe 3 pairs of shoes that I wear on a day to day basis (I have about 20 pairs that I never wear), but as I said I want to be good at fashion.  I look on websites and want to buy everything, I want it to fit me but it rarely does.  I want to throw on a skirt, top some chic boots and a fedora, shove on some bright red lippy and head out the door.  I want that, but life's a bitch, so I can't.

Before you wonder why on earth I'm blogging about this, hear me out.  Yesterday I dragged my friend (ok she dragged me.  Ok we dragged each other) to the local shopping centre to buy me a dress for a wedding I'm going to.  Relatively easy you may think?  No, you're wrong.  This wedding is in the south of France in August.  All of the summer clothes have been replaced with autumn ones, leaving no dresses for me to buy.  I came home empty handed.  I think I am just going to have some wear something I already have (sigh).

I do really like how I've done my hair though today.  I'm obsessed with braiding at the moment...

Before I go I wanted to share with you 2 things I'm really liking at the moment:

1. Mint nail varnish

2. This American shopping site with really really expensive dresses that I really really want!

Katie :)