Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jeans, Glorious Jeans. Suits, shmoots.

I recently bought three pairs of 'used' jeans on Ebay. I have to say, the word 'used' is sort of dirty. I think second hand would be better. 'Used' makes you think of ....well unsavoury things that I probably shouldn't mention. But anyhoo, I did my usual search for 'flared jeans' and 'wide leg jeans', as they no longer seem to exist in a 'new, un-used sense.' (Sadly, for me.) And I managed to find a few options.

So they arrived a day after each other and I think I'd paid £8.00 each for them (including shipping). The first ones to arrive were River Island, size 10, dark blue. And guess what? They just about fit but I couldn't pull them up enough because my thighs are mahoosive. So if I do ever wear them, we're talking dresses over the top and vests tucked in, as they ride so low there is definite danger of things being on display you don't want to be. (Knickers....you sickos.)

So then, the next pair arrive and I'm well excited because they are black flared cords, also size 10 and I haven't had black cords since uni and I'm giddy and..........They're about 2 inches from fastening around my huge waist. Bastards! Disappointment. Hatred of self and of course cursing of the cords.

But all was not lost. The third pair arrive, in a box. Yes, a box. I got jeans in a box. Very strange. And they were Next, size 10 and lo and behold they're too big. I mean they fit fine - they don't fall off or anything -  and are actually really baggy on me, but they are super dark blue and they have press studs on the pockets - anti-theft device - which I like. Sadly, they do look I'm saving space for man parts I don't have, but that problem can always be solved with a long top or more commonly if you're me, a dress over the top.

So, what should have been three successes, was sort of 1 and a half really. The cords are a no go. I contemplated having them as a target to work towards, but I haven't got that much determination anymore. Plus if I was thin enough to fit in those, everything else I own wouldn't fit and then I'd only have one pair of jeans that fit me. So I think I'll find a thin friend and pass them on. Ha ha. It is strange though that they were all supposed to be size 10 and yet 1 was no where near; 1 was half and half - owing to my huge thighs - and 1 was too big. No wonder women create complexes about themselves. One shop you're one size, another shop you're another. It's a mind fuck and a ball ache and pain in the god damn neck!

I think we should revert back to waist size and length size, like they do for men. It makes sense and then they will actually fit you right, instead of half hanging off, leaving enough room for additional crotchal appendages, or refusing to 'urch up. Or just plain refusing to meet in the middle and fasten. H and M do actually do waist and length which is great, the only problem being that they only do skin tight, painted on and boot cut. And we all know what a joke boot cut is. I tried some on and they were so skin tight I wondered what the hell the skin tight would look like. Is it too much to ask that there is a gap between the material and my legs????

I just can't exist under the microscope of skinny jeans. It would feel like I was on show, under scrutiny, being judged on the size and shape of my legs and all their contours and undulations. Nah. Not for me. I won't even wear leggings with a dress over. And when I wear my stretchy pants for jogging, I wear a skirt over the top. Paranoid android! I don't mind the stretchy ones that cling at the top but flare out a little at the bottom. Still, they no longer seem to be in operation either.

Sorry, I do apologise as I know this is the millionth time I've complained about this and it probably won't be the last. But I guess this is ranting at it's finest: repetitive ranting. If it pisses you off enough, you'll rant about it again and again. Ha ha.

I'll change the subject slightly. Where I teach later on today, I pass through a very law/solicitor influenced place and everyone wears a suit. I stroll through with jeans (not skinny ones, of course), a t-shirt and two massive bags of musical instruments. One of my bags says I heart NW5, the other is a rucksack with red stars on a black background. I really do brighten the place up, otherwise it's all grey and black suits, with matching briefcases and stuffy seriousness. No, I definitely add something to the air.

It just makes me so glad, when I walk around these places that I chose employment that would ensure I never had to wear a suit, or anything posh, or formal, or heaven forbid, heels. The idea of being that uncomfortable every day of your life. They don't get dress down Fridays or don't have to wear a tie Fridays. Part of me wonders what they would look like in a pair of vans and some jeans. Probably all wrong, like teachers when they go on a school trip and they try to get down with the kids. Nah, it's not happening. Or, they'd look as ridiculous as me wearing a suit and attempting to look professional. Ha ha. Ridiculous!

Still, I am so happy that I chose the path of eternal jeans and trainers. A path were pyjamas for most of the week are an acceptable working outfit and heels are forbidden, not least of all because I'm in the house 60% of the time, but also because carting around heavy musical equipment with heels on would make me even more crazy than I already am.

I worked as a children's party host and play centre supervisor and guess what I wore......Jeans and a t-shirt. Ta-da! I worked in a Costa coffee and wore black trousers, trainers and a Costa shirt. I worked in a nursery in Manchester wearing black trousers, trainers and a t-shirt. Then I worked at a nursery in London wearing whatever the feck I wanted but which shockingly consisted of jeans, a dress and trainers. Quality choice of employment. No suits, posh dresses that I wouldn't  be able to wear jeans under, heels or uncomfortable jackets with shoulder pads. And no briefcases but a beautiful red leather satchel. Man I make good decisions!!!!

Okay, so that was the quickest blog ever. I just wrote all that in about twenty minutes. A blog blur, where it just splurges out of you in one go. Awesome! If only I could project this feeling into my synopsis writing, it would be done in no time. Instead I ponder and panic and produce piles of steaming crap. Ah well. I'd better crack on with that. It isn't going to write itself. (Sadly. I mean how cool would that be? A synopsis that wrote itself. Pure bliss!)

Happy Tuesday everyone. It does appear the London sun is out, but the sky is so oddly white I'm not sure what is going on? Kids will be thinking, 'I thought the sky was supposed to be blue.' Me too, kids. Me too.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Post Wedding Exhaustion, Bouquet Transportation and Stripey Hair

*Huge exhaustive sigh* What a weekend. Wedding number two of my wedding packed year. From Friday: travelling there, rehearsing the main event, decorating the reception area, tying ribbons on all the order of services (135) and gluing together the seating plan. To Saturday: Hair, make-up, Bridesmaid duties, photos, hymn singing, attempting not to cry as they sign the register and partying the day away (with just a few bottles of champers and gin punch consumed....) .To Sunday: Tidying and sweeping and de-wedding the reception venue, to Mojitos and more amazing food and cake for the day after reception and the long journey home. It's official, they're married and I'm exhausted!

Congratulations of course to the new Mr and Mrs A, though I will inevitably have some issues with LA as I'm so used to LC. I'll get there eventually, I just can't deal with change and there's already been a lot of it this year, with plenty more to come.

Anyhoo, if this weekend has taught me anything, it's how much I've been in denial about my grey hairs. No, there are not just a few stray ones poking out of my parting. No, no. There are loads of them, infiltrating little bitches! And some of them are more silvery and they shine and shimmer, catching the light, making them even more obvious. Thanks for that. I also feel like I have to apologise for them at every turn, like I am somehow making the world more unpleasant for everyone by existing with my dead hairs. So, when the hairdresser had finished my braided up do, all I could see were the horrifically white/grey/shimmering threads and not the beautiful - I could never do it in a month of Sundays - hair do. Apologies also for that as it really was a great job done and my hair looked awesome. I guess I'm just destined to die my hair forever more.

This weekend has also taught me that being in the middle of nowhere in a tiny village, staying in a cute country Inn does not mean you'll be getting a quiet night's sleep. Oh no.Not when the bar beneath you becomes a freakin' club till about 2am. Really? Are you frickin' kidding me?

I wouldn't mind (though of course I do so that's not true) but it was in a residential area with lots of families. You'd think the locals would have something to say about it. Or maybe they just have quadruple glazing on the windows, as opposed to single glazing. It felt like the drunken youths outside were in the room with us. And even in London, a lot of the pubs have signs that say you can't drink outside after 11, to have respect for the neighbours and such. A courtesy they don't extend to in the country. Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep either night, but who needs sleep when you have three days of hard work and partying?????

Biggest discovery of the weekend had to be that I pull ridiculous faces when dancing. I hate to be serious and I hate photos, so I pull insane faces and then complain that I look shit on all the photos. I guess the only plus being that it's too dark to see the grey hairs and I don't appear to look fat on any of them. It's a small win, but I'll take it.

It was a fabulous wedding and of course the bride looked like a vision of heavenly perfection; the men smart and handsome in their suits and the guests a wash of colour and print, of prom dresses and fascinators. The bubbly bubbled and flowed much longer than anyone thought it would and thanks to the wonderful guys who kept coming round for the refills. I swear I'm hiring one for round here. "I just finished a chapter...hit me with a finger." (of bubbly, in my glass, you dirty, dirty people). The speeches were incredible! So funny and honest and rife with stories and love for the Bride and Groom. But of course, the best part by far was the first dance which was infiltrated by 12 of their friends (me included). Group dance!!!!! To 'Can you Feel It' Micheal Jackson. We had rehearsed for two weeks previous and we rocked the house! Best 1min 37secs ever! Watch out Youtube. We're going viral. Ha ha.

And so to my tip of the wedding: Bouquet transportation. I wanted to take my beautiful posy home with me, but of course didn't want the flowers to die, so Saturday night they sat in a mug of water in the hotel and then Sunday before checkout they were transferred to an empty cereal bag (from those tiny individual packs of cereal) with water in, which I tied with a bobble. Then to keep them remotely upright I placed them in the 'fruit and fibre' box and in the side pocket of my rucksack; where they stayed for the afternoon reception; the taxi ride to the station; the train journey back to London; the bus journey to Camden and the short walk home. And now they sit in a vase looking as wonderful (ish) as they did on Saturday.

So there you have it, the ultimate way to transport flowers. Though I didn't say they fell over a couple of times on the train and spilled water, but that's mainly because I thought they would sit better on the table of the train. It turns out I was wrong. After getting my jeaned leg soaked twice I told them off and put them back in the rucksack. *taps head* Not just a breeding ground for grey hairs.

And so it's back to normality. No nightclub beneath me. Double glazed windows. And another Wedding over. Here's to the Happy Couple as they saunter through 35 degree Tuscany on their honeymoon. And here's to a week of tax returns (damn self-employed me); researching agents; attempts at synopsis writing; plucking up the courage to send by book to T to read and productively fun music classes.

Over and out.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Salem by Day (24 Hours in Salem MA) The Sarky Traveller

It's that time again. It's time to speed to another US destination and see as much as humanly possible in the shortest space of time. From the lovely Los Angeles we take a rather large leap over to the East Coast and the little town of Salem in Massachusettes.

All The Sarky Traveller blogs now have a new home on thesarkytraveller.blogspot.com

You may have guessed it but we had one day in Salem and one day we were going to make the most of. It was the Saturday before Halloween and who knew what supernatural forces would be at work as we visited one of the most famous sites of the Witch trials and what feels like the mecca of all things Halloween.

At this point I do have to state that Autumn time (The Fall) is an amazing time to visit the East Coast in general, especially any or all of New England. Soaking in those fiery trees with their crimson, orange and yellow leaves is spectacular and of course October is host to my personal favourite holiday of the year (not that it's even a holiday) Halloween. For years it's been my dream to be in the States for All Hallows Eve and this year I got my wish.  

So, to make the most of our 24 hours in Salem, we took the red eye to Boston, hired a car and drove the mere 45 minutes to Salem, arriving at approximately 7am.

So at 7am, there isn't much going on but the parking is open and so are a few places for breakfast. We chose the cosy Taste of Thyme on Washington Street and thought it would be rude not to have pancakes. They were delicious. (NB: Taste of Thyme may or may not have changed to Medusa's Cafe by now.)

Feeling suitably fed, watered and warmed up we found a few things to do before everything opened and the bustle of Halloween weekend descended. It was kind of fun to see it deserted and then feel the vibe changing during the day as it filled with more people and the party atmosphere took over.

Salem is easily walkable and has a few little districts each with their own special feel and attractions. We headed off first to the Mcintire District which is a short walking tour of Sea Captains' homes and some of the oldest buildings in Salem. Many have been reconstructed or moved but this area retains a certain New England charm that definitely looks beautiful in the early morning sunshine. It's so picturesque and wonderfully quiet, yet only a stones throw from the insanity of the centre.

Heading back into the centre, check out the visitor's centre, interesting window displays and cool shop signs.

Haunted Happenings is the official Salem Halloween site (hauntedhappenings.org) and lists a whole month of activities throughout October. Events start being posted from August but there is always information on there all year round, so check it out before a visit, they have so much going on and not just in the few days surrounding Halloween. But the whole month! They really go all out. Man I wished I lived closer.

While the shops and museums were still waking up we wandered over to the Maritime district and Salem Harbour. There's plenty to see.

 The Salem Maritime National Historic Site can be visited in daily one hour tours and include Derby House, Custom House, and Friendship, the cargo vessel in Derby Wharf. We didn't bother with a tour just took some nice pictures (speed tourism) and then headed over to The House of Seven Gables which is a hugely famous site in Salem's history and American Literary history. Not only is it the oldest remaining wooden mansion in New England but it was also the stimulus for Nathanial Hawthorne's novel of the same name. You can get tours of the house which is actually really cool and there are secret staircases and a few surprises. There is of course a shop and a few other buildings to look around on site. 

If you have a sweet tooth why not swing by Ye Olde Pepper Companie for traditional sweets and confectionery, or in our case a really sticky cherry thing which exploded everywhere and left me sticking to stuff for ages. Yummy though! You may have to queue to get in. As with a lot of places in Salem, there are lots of people trying to get into a small place. 

We caught our first glimpse of The Hawthorn Hotel, which would be the setting for our ball later and is lush!
More on Hawthorn Hotel in the next blog: Salem by Night, chronicling the wonder of a Salem Halloween Ball.

Now, back to the centre of town. As you're walking around make sure you look out for some tip top decs (decorations). Some of the houses go all out and even some of the biking locals like to bring a certain brum brum to the festivities. Genius!

Attractions in the centre include The Salem Witch Museum; Peabody Essex Museum; The Old Town Hall; The Market and Essex Street Mall. Then of course there is the Old Burial Point Cemetery and The Witch Trials Memorial. Both absolute must sees. The Salem Witch Museum gets very busy so I suggest you go early and resign yourself to join the queue but also to expect not to make a tour until a while after you buy your tickets. We bought one for two hours in advance allowing us to comfortably wander around some more and get lunch too. There are two parts to the tour and they basically involve listening so it's not too strenuous and I guess part of the whole atmosphere. It's definitely worth the trip whilst you're there. 

In keeping with the Holiday spirit there was also a funfair on Salem Common, with rides and food and all things fun fun fun. Opting for a bit of quiet contemplation, we headed for The Burying Point. 

There's something so beautiful about these thin straight backed grave stones. It looks peaceful but when you turn the other way you are faced with people already dressed up and ready to party. I've honestly never seen so much colour and felt so much energy in a graveyard. 

The Witches Memorial should have been a beautifully haunting sight but actually upset me because of the way it was being used. People were sat on the stone slabs marking each of the accused and subsequently murdered innocents. And some people had left rubbish on them and all sorts. Someone had however left a flower. Thank you to that person.

Then we had enough time to head to the market and the main Essex street mall. (There is also a cinema in here.) Yes there are lots of kitschy shops (or tacky as we would say in Britain), but there is also lots of original art work, performers, home made treats and interesting souvenirs. Besides, sometimes, you've just gotta milk it. If your town is famous for witches, then bring out the witches! And it's such a breath of fresh air from towns that are all chains.

Salem is fantastic and yes I went at the most explosive time for them in terms of tourism and craziness, but most of the attractions are open all year round and can be visited and enjoyed any time. So if you happen to be holidaying in Boston, it's such a short and easy drive. It is also a great stop off on your way to other places such as Maine and other states in New England. You could easily make a weekend out of it if you had time but as a stop off for a day it is perfect. Lots to keep you busy. Plenty of inside things in case the weather isn't great and a really interesting little place. 

When I return it will be Salem by Night. Beware the Halloween Ball. The Goblins and Ghoulies are up to no good! But the party atmosphere is cranking and the costumes are immense!

The Sarky Traveller

P.S We love you Salem Massachusettes. (And I love writing the word Massachusettes....How many s's? How many t's. Love it!)