Wednesday, January 31, 2007

No parents out there then?

That quiz question remains unanswered....

If James is 5, Edward is 3 and Henry is 2, who is 1?

And yes - there may be a clue in the picture :-)

I like this

story from John Allmark about a compensation claim.
My sister went for a meal at the home of her manager last night. She really really did not want to go. She says he is alright, but his wife is a stuck up cow, and is prone to making remarks like "My goodness! Do you really shop at Tesco's? How any one survive without Waitrose I really do not know."

Meals at their home practically come with price tags left on...."It really is worth playing that bit extra for organic fillet steak don't you think?"

So anyway, I think we can all share in my sister's delight last night when as her hostess came back in from the kitchen this woman sneezed violently and the sheer force of it sent her front tooth flying across the room where it landed in the potatoes lyonnaise.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I am lost for words

Sitting here.

Staring at the computer.

Awaiting inspiration.

Inspiration comes there none.

So I give up on what I am supposed to be doing and check the bloggers out.


(The teenage influence rubbing off there.)

Since last October ish I have been working on a portfolio type thingy to hopefully get a post qualification - errhh - qualification (Not a very snappy description there I am afraid). I was under the impression I had finished it but no. My manager has written a report about a piece of work I did that she observed. I found out today that I have to respond to what she has said and answer various set questions about it. For example, What would you have done differently to enhance your performance? (Performance enhancing drugs perhaps?)Well here's the thing. According to what is really a very pleasing report (I owe that woman)I wouldn't need to do anything differently as it would appear I did everything right. Only of course I can't say that - they want me to reflect, and they want me to learn from practice, but I have sat here bloody well reflecting on what a sodding waste of time all this is,and still can't think of a single damn thing I would have been able to do differently to enhance this particularly stunning piece of work. OK, so I have decided to start exaggerating just exactly how totally marvellous I was in this extra- ordinarily challenging piece of work.

Next question. What theories did you employ during this piece of practice? Short answer. None. Longer answer. None whatsoever.Again however, not quite the answer they are after. Normally I would be able to conjure up some total nonsense which is the kind of total nonsense I know they are looking for, but it has been a hectic kind of day and I am knackered, and my brain has left the building and I CAN NOT DO THIS!!!

But do it I must - by tomorrow.

I repeat..


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Normal service is resumed?

As in, we lost at home again today - However...

We lost 3-2 to the side currently second in the league, and in spite of having sold our leading scorer a couple of days ago to Wycombe Wanderers, we looked pretty good and I feel strangely optimistic about our chances of avoiding relegation.

I hate it when our matches are switched to a Sunday. Sunday football is All Wrong. Football matches take place at 3.00pm on a Saturday (except during the Three Day Week crisis in 1973? 74? - can't remember which year and can't be arsed to check it out, but do know that then we had matches on a Sunday during that energy crisis, but that was the only way we could rely on having the floodlights working. Homework done by candlelight - oh yes, I remember it well (ish). )

So why did we have to play on a Sunday? I can't blame Sky who frankly don't even know we exist except on the once in every thirty years occasion when we draw Man Utd in the FA Cup. I would blame the local rugby side, but they played at home yesterday at 5.45 or some other such daft time so it can't really be their fault...although every thing else is their fault - ( because I have a personal prejudice against them and I enjoy blaming them for everything from our kick off time to global warming : All rugby supporters drive 4x4's = FACT!!!) The only thing I can come up with for why we played on a Sunday is s clerical error...someone obviously typed in the wrong date on the tickets and so we got stuck with it. I wouldn't mind, but tomorrow at 7.00am when my alarm tells me I have to get up, but because I went to football only the previous afternoon my body clock tells me it is Sunday and I don't have to get up - I won't be happy.

Or at least I won't be happy until I remember it is Monday and Reidski is coming to see me Monday really ain't so bad!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

But on to far more important stuff

Before last night these were Millwall's last four results =

Won at home 4-0.
Won away 1-0.
Won at home 4-1.
Won away 4-1.

I was worried man!

But I did not need to be!

We won 3-0 against the league's form side.

What I keep trying to remind myself is that gloating is a most unattractive characteristic, so I will try not to mention over and over again to Reidski that we won, we won, we won, we won, we won.

Anyway, he said last night that he didn't care about that. All he cared about was that Scotland had beaten Canada at cricket and that was what was REALLY important. Ha bloody ha!

One law for them?

Religions I mean.

Yes - still banging on about them.

I agree with this bit -

The National Secular Society said that allowing an exemption for the Church would open the "floodgates for a never-ending series of demands".

What this could mean actually is that no Catholic will have a hope of adopting a child in the future because the Catholic agencies if they carry out their threat will close, and other adoption agencies will never be able to trust that Catholic applicants don't have discriminatory views towards gays and therefore would be unable to approve their applications.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Uncontroversial subjects - religion, sexism, racism

I am going to admit to being prejudiced.

I have a prejudice against religion.

Now I can certainly think of reasons why I would refuse to shake the hand of the head of the Metropolitan Police, but as a police officer not wanting to touch a man other than my husband seems a bit precious.

I am sorry but I can not be relaxed about stuff like this. This is the bloody twenty first century. Here is my dilemma.

Muslim women joining police force = Good Thing.

One at least of these Muslim women seemingly unable due to her faith to touch men = Bad Thing.

Women are still fighting for equality. We often have to prove we are not second class citizens/brainless idiots (delete as applicable). Top jobs are still overwhelmingly the preserve of men, and we still have a very long way to go to achieve true equality -For god's sake, men still look on patronisingly if I start talking about football "Bless! What does she know about 'The Man's Game'?" And then with one little news item we give the sexists ammunition to last them a decade. "They want to do our jobs?? They want to join the police force??? But they don't want to have to touch a man????"

My advice to this woman? Speaking as a feminist myself - "Get back in the kitchen." No, strike that last comment. Let's rethink. She could always become a nun I suppose? No nasty men there so that could be ideal. Although do I remember some kind of silly discriminatory rule there about having to be a Catholic or some other such nonsense? "I have the right to be a nun, but I reserve the right not to go to Mass as it against my faith."

I don't even want to go into what a field day it will give the BNP.

But it seems all is well on the policing front which is a great relief-

Sheikh Ibraham Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said people should not be alarmed by the officer's beliefs and that Muslim law "was not set in concrete".

He added: "If the officer is called to a male victim who has been shot, the laws go out of the window.

"If she has to resuscitate that dying person, Muslim law will then change and allow her all sorts of physical contact because a life is at risk and life is so precious.

So apparently religious laws are flexible.

You can make them up and adapt them to suit your personal circumstances....which presumably explains why so many of our most vicious politicians can tell us they are guided by their Christian beliefs.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Oh dear

First figure given after the team name is number of games played, second is goal difference and third is points gained. The only ones of any real interest are those highlighted although you may need to go quite a long way down the table to find them....

1 Scunthorpe 29 18 52
2 Bristol City 28 14 52
3 Nottm Forest 28 11 52
4 Oldham 28 21 49
5 Yeovil 28 11 48
6 Blackpool 28 13 47
7 Tranmere 29 10 46
8 Swansea 28 13 44
9 Doncaster 27 11 43
10 Carlisle 28 -5 39
11 Huddersfield 29 -7 37
12 Bradford 29 -1 36
13 Port Vale 28 -4 36
14 Crewe 28 -1 35
15 Gillingham 28 -13 35
16 Chesterfield 28 -1 34
17 Brighton 28 -7 34
18 Millwall 27 -2 33
19 Northampton 27 -6 32

20 Leyton Orient 28 -13 28
21 Bournemouth 29 -15 28
22 Cheltenham 29 -16 26
23 Rotherham 28 -3 24
24 Brentford 29 -28 22

Our match was postponed yesterday and for the first time this season Reidski's Millwall went above my beloved Cobblers - and we play each other on Tuesday.

It will be dark when we kick off so no starlings to bring us good fortune.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear and very many more oh dear's indeed.

That woman gets everywhere

Jade Goody I mean. I went to watch our village quiz last Friday (yes, that's how sad I am!). The last round in the quiz is an 'on the buzzer' style round with clues gradually helping uncover the answer. The question master started with 'British female'. The intellectual minds amongst us start running through female novelists, politicians, film stars etc.

'Born in south London.'
'Father died when she was young.'
'Mother injured in serious car accident'.

'Bloody hell' says I to my son who was (bizarrely) with me.

(there is a reason why both he and I were watching the village quiz that night - me because I mistakenly believed I was needed to read out some of the questions - he because he knew there was a good chance he would be bought some pints down the pub later)

'It's Jade Goody' says I.

And so it was. Shame I wasn't competing as that could have won my team six whole points. No, of course, when I am playing the answers are more likely to be some British female who was briefly an Under Secretary of State in 1963 and hasn't been heard of since. (Bitter? Yes.)

Only about ten pages about the Big Brother racism row in the Observer today - I wonder if The News of the World found space for any other story whatsoever?

But following the report of a conversation in the pub later that same evening I realise that sadly Ms Goody is far from alone in her extreme stupidity.

Someone asked the (horrible) pub landlord how he had enjoyed his recent holiday in Antigua. He replied, so I am very reliably informed - 'Well, it was alright but I wouldn't be in a hurry to go back there....too many blacks.'

What can you say in the face of such jaw dropping ignorance?

Nothing polite obviously.

To lighten the mood a puzzle for you all from our village quiz -

If James is 5, Edward is 3 and Henry is 2, who is 1? (Reidski is not allowed to give the answer to this one having been told it earlier today.)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Billy Elliot the musical trailer

Hey, it arrived - along with a friend who looked very similiar!

It only took You Tube 48 hours and I am sure you will agree was well worth the wait :-)

Friday, January 19, 2007

'You tube' aggro

I found a trailer for Billy Elliot and tried to send it here. In spite of various promises it hasn't turned up here. I dare not try again having seen what happened on Shooting Parrots site where You Tube posted the same clip for him five times - although having said that it was well worth a look here being on a topic that is both funny and something we can all identify with.

So anyway, if anyone would like to have a look at a wonderful trailer of a wonderful show it can be seen here.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fame part 2

The shining light that is Jade Goody has excelled herself hasn't she?

The Indian government gets involved as does Gordon Brown and I heard the Cabinet have been ordered to watch recordings the offending episodes.It's not often I feel sorry for Cabinet members but....

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I loved every minute of it

Billy Elliot that is.

It made me laugh, cry, and gasp with sheer astonishment at the dancing - especially that of the lad who played Billy.

The background to the story, set as it is in Easington, County Durham, as I guess everyone knows is the 1984 Miners' Strike. It is the more poignant seeing the fight to save the pits being enacted when we all know fully well what happened to our coal industry and those communities where coal mining had been the life blood of the community. I studied social and economic history when I was at Hull. I imagine this strike will be studied as a defining moment in our history for as long as the history of the 20th Century is studied. I start to feel old when I realise that anyone younger than about 25 will have no memories of this strike, when it seemed more like civil war was going on between the industrial north and the Tory government in the south than an industrial dispute. We decided that we should play our part and declared 'They shall not starve' and did some fund raising which was a bit of a pain on a wet Saturday morning in Wood Green but let's be honest - not as much as a pain as having no salary for a whole year when you never had much in the first place.

I also think the bitterness will continue for generations. The reason that for example Chesterfield football club hates Mansfield F.C. so much is far more than local rivalry - Chesterfield miners mostly stayed out - many Nottingham miners worked. Many supporters of other sides still chant at Mansfield fans - 'You're scabs -and you know you are.'

I remember huge rows with mates who though they supported the miners saw more quickly than I did that Scargill's tactics were a disaster. I couldn't bring myself to imagine the miners losing after such a struggle, but looking back I have to admit it wasn't exactly text book stuff on how to win an industrial dispute.....

No 1. Call strike when coal had been stockpiled and do so in March as it starts to get warmer and therefore the demand for coal will be lower.

No 2. No, on second thoughts - really don't want to revisit all that here.

Back to Billy who is the gifted working class kid with artistic ambitions seemingly beyond his reach - but he succeeds just as the miners lose their year old struggle (the moment when I started to weep for the second time last night).

I am not alone in being a soppy old sod by the way- according to Elton John in the programme when he left the premiere of the film in Cannes he says "I had to be helped up the aisle sobbing." Quite an image :-)

There is a helpful section in the programme by the way- aimed I imagine at Americans and Cockneys - under the heading 'Translation'. To fulfill a useful public education role I bring you the following words which may come in handy should you find yourself north of Middlesborough. ( Messalina, I am thinking of you. )

'Cannut' - Second syllable unstressed, means 'can't' as in 'I cannut bear it man.'

'Howay'- 'How-way' means 'come on' as in 'Howay, I want to show you something.

'Awa' - Pronounced 'hour', means 'over' as in 'Admittedly the sausages are a bit awa done'.

Ok - bored with that now.

So contrasting emotions at the end - sadness and regret for the mining communities and what their future will bring alongside exhilaration that Billy will escape all that and have a wonderful future.

I leave you with the lyrics of a little song sang in the show by some of the village kids to a well known tune:

'O my darling, O my darling
O my darling Heseltine.
You're a tosser, you're a wanker,
And you're just a Tory swine.'

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


we are seeing Billy Elliot and if it is any where near as good as friends of mine who have seen it say it is, then it is going to be amazing. My notoriously hard to please sister says it is the best show she has ever seen. I can't wait!


Great picture and caption from Darren

Monday, January 15, 2007


Well, that evil manipulative Charlie Stubbs has been done in by that evil manipulative Tracey Barlow.

Nice story line with little unexpected twists like Charlie not actually popping his clogs straight away leaving 'Our Tracey' (copyright Deidre Barlow)worried he would come round and tell the truth, and just now Tracey being charged when we all assumed she would be free to go. My personal highlight however was the moment when a hysterical Tracey is weeping and wailing in the Barlow's front room about how she has slain the man she loves, (cue many repetitions of 'Oh Tracey... love!' from a distraught Deidre)whilst the rest of the entire cast is outside on the street (should that be on The Street?) watching the police and ambulance and speculating on events, when the nosy and frankly poisonous Blanche (mother of Deidre, grand mother to Tracey - yes, I do know my Coronation street characters),
rushes downstairs in dressing gown and curlers to demand 'Have I missed summat?'

Sunday, January 14, 2007

That was the week that was

Well the really positive piece of news is that I have now gone an entire week without causing damage to any motor vehicle. I did however get my first ever parking ticket in spite of having purchased a ticket to pay to park. War has been declared between Jane and the London Borough of Camden on account of this offending ticket. I may be sad enough to return to that subject on another occasion. (Mental notes made by assorted visitors to give this blog a miss for the next several weeks at least.)

I went down to stay with Reidski on Thursday for a couple of nights. It was a year since we first met so we celebrated. I first fell for Reidski in February 2005 when I read this description of an accident he had had involving his son's scooter and a very steep hill. It was illogical and daft that I developed a crush on someone I had never met and was fairly unlikely to ever meet but develop a crush I did. This weekend we walked past the scene of that accident just never knows what life has in store but my life took a massive turn for the better the day I first met him. People who know him regularly make a point of telling me what a great guy he is and how much they love him, and all I can say is they are right. Enough before I embarrass him or me or both of us. Suffice to say we had a lovely time together.

I got back home in time for the football. I have not spoken much about football recently as quite honestly it has all been so depressing. We had a lovely man as a manager - John Gorman - from the start of the season. He got the players playing quite attractive football but what he could not get them to do was win - or even score a goal - at home. The atmosphere was bleak and I was at the 'Why I am I putting myself through this misery?' point en route to each match. What I really didn't want to do was critise John Gorman as he was clearly in mourning for his wife who had died of cancer this time last year, but it became increasingly obvious that in fact he should not have taken the job when he did as he was not mentally strong enough for it at the time. Anyway, he resigned shortly before Christmas and from what I have been told he was suffering with depression, especially coming up to his first Christmas without his wife,and the anniversary of her death. I sincerely hope he comes through this terrible time for him, and I wish him all the very best.

In came Stuart Grey - formerly with the likes of Villa, Southampton and Wolves. This was the first game I had seen with him in charge. I am VERY concerned. Does anyone know who I need to contact when I have reasonable grounds to believe a football team had been abducted by aliens from outer space and had their bodies taken over by said aliens? They looked like the same players I saw last time at Sixfields but there the similarity ends.

I witnessed a truly cracking game of football in which my side who had previously struggled to score one goal at home somehow managed to score three and could have had seven. At one point we were three nil up and relaxed. I have to emphasis the word 'relaxed' as we can never ever relax at Sixfields. Of course, conceding two goals in the last ten minutes did mean that the relaxation didn't last but was still nice at the time, although I guess we knew we would be alright when the starlings arrived again.

And I can't wait for the next home game .....Millwall Take 2. The previous game was abandoned because of torrential rain making the pitch unplayable whilst Millwall were leading 1-0. I missed it as I was in Lapland but erhh- my Millwall supporting bloke did have the 'pleasure'.

I have only been at one match that was abandoned. That was when we were winning 1-0 against a very good Huddersfield side. The winds that day were gale force and they started pulling off the advertising boards around the top of the stadium, prompting the away supporters to start singing 'Sixfields Stadium's falling down, falling down, falling down...' It was very dangerous and the match was stopped. We lost the rearranged game, but play again like we did yesterday and we really should win this rearranged game....I think my relationship can survive though, whatever the result on the 23rd January so it must be love!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Stupid cow - part 2.

I didn't think I could possibly write about this because I was so upset by it at the time but.....

As previously mentioned I wrote my poor car off on 5th January. It has just been taken away for scrap. It was emotional.

Anyway, a friend of mine who is in the privileged position of having a fleet of vehicles at her disposal lent me one of her cars. Really kind of her - she heard what I had done and that very evening turned up with this car which she said I could keep as long as I needed it.

Saturday I went down to see Reidski. I was very on edge driving what with having crashed the previous day, and not being in my own car. I met him in north London and drove across the river to his place. It was with relief that I parked safely outside his flat and I said something like 'Phew - made it in one piece.' He asked me if I was alright now, and lent over to give me a kiss. Now I am not saying the earth moved for me because of this kiss - but the car certainly did.

Seems the hand brake wasn't very tight on this car. Neither of us noticed the car was gently rolling down the hill until there was a bump - as the car came to a rest against the bumper of the car parked in front.

It was without doubt the worst moment I have had in Reidski's company by a thousand miles. I felt physically sick, my legs went to jelly, and I had to force myself to get out and see what I had done.

There was no damage to the other car but there is a scratch on my friend's which I shall have to sort out.

Just the two car accidents in two days then. I am doing well.

Monday, January 08, 2007

My liberal tendencies have their limits

173 days to go (see sidebar).

And I for one can't wait.

I've just been talking to a 16 year old girl who was telling me her New Year's Resolution is to give up smoking, but she is finding it really hard as she has smoked since she was 12. She has worked out she has spent over £2,000 on fags since then.

I hate smoking.

I hate the tobacco companies more.

I loved going in smoke free pubs in Scotland.

I will love going in smoke free pubs in England from 1st July this year.

Post script. I was expecting loads of abuse for this post, but so far at least you have all been very kind except for Manuel who suspects the forthcoming ban to be a Communist plot. He points out that Jesus smoked until the day he died, but I think that rather proves how bad smoking is for you. Anyway, this picture of Our Lord has been added especially for Manuel


So 'Celebrity' Big Brother is back and the only one I had heard of - Ken Russell - has left as he refused to wait hand and foot on Jade Goody, the former 'housemate' who didn't even win Big Brother 3 but is now back in the house where the others have to do everything for her seeing as how she is a real life proper celebrity, and is apparently worth 8 million pounds.

I used to see Big Brother. I admit to being terribly addicted to the first series with Nasty Nick and his scheming, and I remember seeing Jade enter the house because in discussions at work the following Monday I said to colleagues that if I ever came into contact with Jade Goody I would be forced to kill her. No one - repeat no one - should be allowed out if they are genuinely as stupid as she appears to be....'East Angular - that's abroad innit?'

I am obviously very privileged because I have seen the lovely Jade close up. She went out with a Cobblers player, Ryan Amoo....and came to the occasional match. I somehow failed to get her autograph. Not that he had more than about three games for us. From memory the first time he played he got himself sent off after 15 minutes for the most appalling foul I have ever seen one of our players commit, and should consider himself lucky he wasn't jailed for it. Jade said what she really liked about him was the fact that he was even thicker than she was. Sadly it did not last and we are unable to witness what someone thicker than Jade Goody is actually like as it is her latest boyfriend who has gone in the house with her. I read that this boyfriend would like Brad Pitt to play him in the film of his life. A film based on the life of a guy who shagged Jade Goody? Well why not? (If I have the choice I think I would go for Holly Hunt to play me. She does pathos so well.)

Why am I even bothering to write about this woman? Well looking at my bank statements this morning whilst at the same time hearing the radio talking about her 8 million pounds was mildly disheartening. I do wonder how I can explain to my kids the value of a good education when they turn on the tele and see people like her making a fortune for not even winning flaming Big Brother, but for being, and here I am struggling for a phrase which is not overly offensive - I'll go with educationally challenged.

Sociologists will have a field day with this latest twist from the Big Brother team. What on earth does it say about the society we live in?


I finally got my photos sorted out, but as there seem to be an inordinate number of me in my thermal long john's (yes, very amusing children) there won't be many posted on here. This one though is really typical of the scenery there. It was taken incidentally at about midday. Many of the ones taken as late as 2.00pm haven't come out very well due to the lack of day light.

A comment made by a very public sociologist reminded me that although we very rarely have significant snow falls in this part of the UK, when I was growing up round here not a year went by without at least one week of very heavy snow. I lived in a rather isolated village but my school was in town. At the first hint of snow those of us who lived off the beaten tracks would be allowed to leave early to ensure we could get a bus home. I can remember snow drifting so high up against the pub I lived in then that it covered the downstairs windows. I can count on one hand the number of days my kids have had off due to snow, even though they too travel to a village miles away for school.

Being in Lapland instantly transported me back to days spent as a kid playing in the snow - that almost forgotten experience where you place a cautious foot on newly fallen snow and promptly sink up to your knees.

Meanwhile, back in central England in January I have just been out in a t-shirt and wasn't cold.

What the F*** is going on with this climate of ours?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Accidents Will Happen*

Yes, it is safe to come out now, as the topic of My Trip To Lapland is practically erased from my memory having been totally eclipsed by events of yesterday and I have something else to talk about.

Thursday evening found me giving my 17 year old son who is about to embark on driving lessons the 'How easily accidents can happen' speech. Friday morning I booked his first lesson. Friday lunchtime I proceeded to demonstrate how easily accidents can happen.

I am driving along a road I know very well indeed chatting to a colleague. It is a straight road - no junctions for several miles in the direction I was headed. It is a 30 mile per hour speed limit and I was keeping to that. It wasn't raining. There is a lorry in front of me. I realise it has slowed right down, but that is OK, I start braking. I realise it has come to a complete halt - I know not why, but I am still not worried as I am aware and I am braking. I should have been worried as my brakes didn't stop as sharpish as I might have hoped and I go into the back of the stationary lorry which as we all know makes the accident completely and utterly My Fault. The lorry drives off into the sunset, completely oblivious to what has just occurred. I drive into the nearest lay by and survey the damage - which is extensive -and says in the clearest possible terms to me 'Jane, you stupid cow. You have just written this car off.'

Age of car + mileage + damage = write off. And when I called about my insurance, a man all the way away in a call centre in Scotland agreed it was a write off by the time I was halfway through describing the damage done to my poor car.

I knew that having done 180,000 plus miles the car could go at anytime, however, having spent nearly £400 I couldn't afford on a new exhaust and catalytic converter in December, but at the time being advised it should then last me for another year, I really could have done without writing the car off four weeks later.

So yesterday I saw the bank, rearranged various loans, and the upshot is I borrowed enough to buy a Y Reg Astra from my village garage. I should get it next Tuesday, and for the first time ever I will have a CD player in my car so I am quite excited about that.

I keep trying to explain to people how I felt when I saw what I had done. It was very strange. I didn't go to pieces or anything like that. I stayed quite calm and didn't shout at myself much as I deserved being shouted at. I think I was just kind of instantly resigned to the fact I had done something very stupid that could not be undone; I had no one to blame but myself (I hate it when that happens don't you?!); I had to sort out a new car as I can't do without one; and obviously number one feeling - overwhelming relief that no one had been hurt.

Oh sod it!

* Elvis Costello (with apologies for blatant rip off of Reidski's blog.)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Year

Your geography lesson for today. Here we have a map of central Lapland, and I stayed at Luosto which is about 1,000 miles further north than I ever expected to travel. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of a very good friend of mine, 13 of us celebrated our New Year in this incredible place.

This is a picture of the log cabin I stayed in (the one on the left of the picture).All the cabins had real fires, a sauna, the most comfortable beds EVER, and ours featured at no extra expense at least one very brazen mouse. My friend Anne who is not overly fond of mice was heard yelling 'Fuck off mouse!' at top volume from the next door cabin at 4.00 in the morning when she was sat on the loo and looked down to see a mouse at her feet. She described it later as 'not a good moment'.

Over the past few days I have been tobogganing, been on husky and reindeer rides, and coolest of all - bombing across the frozen wastes on one of these...

I kept thinking 'James Bond' - or at least I kept thinking that when I wasn't thinking 'Oh shit! HELP!' Like for example when the thing cuts out half way up a steep snowy hill...and then starts to slip backwards.

Cold I have discovered is all relative. It was mild by Laplandic standards - 10 degrees centigrade was as cold as it ever got, but we were all provided with fabulous snow suits and boots and never felt cold even when we were outside for six hours at a time. Most of the time though it hovered around freezing. At midnight Finnish time it was snowing, we were outside on the edge of a forest - drinking champagne and leaping around to 'Losing My Religion' - oh, and I was texting Reidski although he never received my message till 4.00 the following afternoon.

When I wasn't outside in the snow I was mostly having copious amounts of alcohol. Well, I believe it is compulsory out there - but if you should ever go there - take your own like we skinflints did. It is VERY expensive to buy there. Our group had quiz's in the evenings and although my team did eventually win the movie quiz I was drunk enough not to be able to remember the name 'Rick' of Casablanca fame without resorting to cheating ( my team members being 11 and 15 respectively were rather dependent on me to know that particular answer).

All in all, the most wonderful New Year experience. It even made going back to work just 8 hours after getting home worthwhile for every time anyone asked me if I did anything exciting over New Year. Why their eyes started to glaze over a mere hour and a half after they asked that question I really can't imagine????

I'm cultured me!

I need to download a disc so I can get pictures of Lapland on here. It is so beautiful there you keep thinking you have walked through a wardrobe and arrived in Narnia, and find that you expect to see Mr Tumnus hopping through the forest at any given moment. In the absence of any pictures though this is a 'What I did before I went to Lapland' information post.

After a lovely Thursday spent with Reidski I met my sister, daughter and niece at the London Coliseum for my very first ballet ever. I must have looked good on the train up there - best sparkly black dress worn with red sensibly warm but very unflattering walking jacket seeing as I was en route to Finland (yes, at least some of my family managed to remember their coat).

Anyway, the ballet was Alice in Wonderland. Very beautiful it was too, although it was a good job I knew the story cos there weren't too much in the way of talking ;-)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Not a Great Start.

I'm back!

LOADS to say about how wonderful and magical Lapland was but I will return to that later.

As a mother it is my responsibility to ensure my children are appropriately dressed when they leave the house. With regard to our trip to Lapland - that place north of the Arctic Circle where global warming or no global warming it was always likely to be quite cold at New Year - I had been making preparations for at least two weeks. I had plenty of gear as I do a fair bit of hill walking, my daughter was also pretty well equipped, but the boys had outgrown most of their stuff and I didn't want to buy any so I nagged the boys to ensure they borrowed thermals from friends. The thermals were duly obtained, but then I had another restless night before we left as J couldn't find his gloves. Thankfully these turned up before we left. I congratulated myself that my off spring would be properly dressed to deal with sub zero temperatures.

We arrived at the car park at Stansted airport at 6.15 in the morning. My lads had had a lift down to London the night before as I was already there with H. As we got the cases out the boot it suddenly started to rain. (Anyone who reads Reidski will know that the rain on Saturday in England was particularly bad. Ha ha! Unlucky dearest!.) Anyway I can not remember ever getting so wet so fast. We ran across to the bus which had thankfully just arrived and it can't have been more than 50 yards away from my car but we were absolutely drenched. My mascara had run all down my cheeks. My canvas handbag was still wet inside 15 hours later. I am trying to explain just exactly how hard it had rained...hard. I look at my poor soaked children. I look particularly hard at J. "J, where is your coat?" I ask - a reasonable question seeing as how he isn't wearing it. "I forget to get it out of P's car last night."

I had suffered a sleepless night when I was worried about him going to Lapland without his gloves. I had worried about obtaining thermals for him. The thought that he could travel north of the Arctic Circle without a coat had not even entered my wildest nightmares.

I was so angry I couldn't speak. I didn't trust myself to open my mouth.

It did not help that everyone else was killing themselves laughing.

Things could only improve after that somewhat inauspicious start to the trip.