Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Welcome to this intrepid tale of joy and excitement, and much mirth and joy, and so on and so forth.  This tale centres on the gathering of two families, and the events that transpired during a Christmas meal.  But first, let me introduce the cast of this frivolous adventure.

Dramatis Personae:
Ariel: le me
Kyle: le brother
Sarah: le brother’s partner
Hayley: le Sarah’s sister
Sarah’s mom: le Sarah’s mom
Dad: le my dad
Mom: le my mom
Sarah’s dad: le Sarah’s dad

*It should be noted, at this point, that none of the parents have names, well of course they have real names in real life, but in this adventure, all parents shall be referred to as mom/dad.  Simply because it would be weird to call my mom and dad by their real names, and thus, in the interest of balance, Sarah’s mom and dad shall be referred to as ‘Sarah’s mom and dad’. 

I’m sure we are all familiar with the traditional Christmas cracker.  Two people engage in the act of savagely yanking each of the ends of the cracker, and lo and behold “CRACK” and out falls a paper Christmas hat (often in a pleasing shade of bright green, red or yellow) and the world’s worse useless items.  For last year’s Christmas, mom, dad and I, went up to Cambridge to Kyle and Sarah’s house for Christmas.  Sarah’s family was visiting from South Africa, so we had a big Christmas meal with all of us. 

The day progressed much as you would expect: open presents, squeal in delight at said presents, and progress to the Christmas day meal.  I shan’t go into much detail, but of course the food was delicious (how could it not be, we make fabulous lasagne).  And of course, the obligatory Christmas crackers were present.  At some point during the meal, the crackers were cracked, and we all donned our lovely Christmas hats, while some of us (i.e. me) looked in disgust at our useless cracker items (i.e. a tiny set of screwdrivers that could not possibly be of use to anyone but Thumbelina).  Some of us, however, received ingenious little problem solver thingies; basically just bits of metal wire twisted in such a way as to be impossible to separate.  Anyway, the emphasis here is on the paper hats…

At some point, once the meal had been consumed, mom and Sarah’s dad were cleaning in the kitchen, while the rest of us were still seated at the table, in various stages of Christmas laziness.  Dad however, was engrossed in trying to solve the problem solver thing.  Somehow, someone, somewhere, somehow, managed to get a paper Christmas hat perilously close to the flickering candle in the middle of the table.  As expected, the paper hat exploded in a ball of flames (…was set alight…).  I think Hayley or I were first to notice the fire ball of death blazing on the table, I just remember going “woah woah woah” (but with more emphasis). 
Sarah’s mom took one look at the fire ball and shrieked, while Sarah, ever the quick thinker, calmly stood and blew out the fireball like an oversized candle.  Of course, being made out of paper, the fireball wasn’t very substantial, so Sarah’s act of extinguishing the fire ball, promptly sent tiny flecks of paper ash in every direction, and of course, poor dad, who was sitting right in front of the fireball, peacefully engrossed in his problem solver, got a face full of ash.  Hayley and I also managed to NOT escape the wrath of Sarah’s fire ball extinguisher blast, and we too had little bits of ash rain down upon us.  Dad’s face of course, was priceless; the look of surprise and puzzlement, the problem solver clasped in his fingers, his face covered in (or rather sprinkled lightly with) ash.

And so ends this tale of Christmas and crackers and fireballs of death.  All who endured it lived happily to tell the tale, and Christmas was saved for all and everyone.  But more importantly, the pudding survived just fine.

**Due to the fallible nature of memory, the tale above may be prone to some alterations and artistic licensing.  But it was still pretty funny anyway. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Approaches to Literature

My official course name is "Psychology with English Literature", and I think that I have recently come to the conclusion that this is probably a pretty good choice. Dad and I were talking about it the other day, and he likened the majority of my fellow class mates to "wine snobs". With this phrase I do of course refer to the people who wrote the wine book that nan and grandad have (not the people who read it). Nan knows how much I love her wine book, it's like a neat list of the most ridiculous and hysterical writing known to man. "The wine has a fruity scent which is reminiscent of a warm summers eve with sprinkles of twig and oak leaf, and a faint undertone of grass mixed with a heady taste of earth." I mean sure, some of these things probably do make sense to the experienced wine connoisseur (do they Nan and Grandad?), but do you ever think that maybe sometimes they've gone a bit too far?

This is pretty much exactly what I experience every time I have an "Approaches to Literature" class. As I said to mom the other day, maybe the poet is saying what he's saying because it was just the basic facts of his surroundings. e.g. English teacher: "The use of the blue curtains in the poem clearly show a sadness withint the poet, and how he was in the midst of a meloncholic time in his life". Poet: "er... no... the curtains were just blue..." Don't get me wrong, I know that a lot of the meaning behind poetry is about the blue curtains representing sadness etc, etc, but I do sometimes feel like sometimes they're just making a whole lot of stuff up.

Of course I wouldn't dare say this to any english teacher (mom and aunty Ada just erase all that you've read from your memories), in fact when I did voice this opinion to a fellow student, all I got was a blank look and "yeah but that's what Uni is about..." So no, I won't be sharing this opinion with anyone else, thanks very much. Which brings me onto the second experience I have of my english class...

Today in class we were supposed to do group presentations on a biography of a poet. Of course being the studious student that I am I prepared amply for this presentation (and by that I mean that I read through the first two sections of the biography, got bored, and went outside to play in the snow with Lily), but of course I wouldn't have to worry because it was a group effort and that meant that I could just present the little part that I had done and everyone else could fill in the rest! Cue presentation in english class, and I found myself sitting all alone. By myself. ALONE. Yeah that's right, apparently everyone else in my group also got distracted by the snow and hadn't bothered to even turn up for the lecture.

Needless to say it was of extreme embarrassment to be sitting alone at a group of tables where all around me people were happily chatting in their little groups. Stupid people. Worse than this is of course when the lecturer notices me sitting on my own, gives me a quizzical look, and says "was it something you said", to which I obviously reply, "it must've been... maybe I also smell funny"... Shit... did that actually just come out of my mouth!!! Yes, it actually had. And yes the rest of the class did hear this, as they had now all turned to stare at me sitting all alone! Then the other lecturer (who doesn't know my name) says "all those who weren't here last week please join a group which is lacking in members"... a few moments of silence and of zero movement lead to this: "ahem... you boys there, go join... erm... that girl there at the back".

Awesome, so now not only was I completely alone and embarrassed, but I had also been singled out as the poor little reject, whose name the lecturer didn't even know! F.M.L. Of course with the addition of the other three rejects, it was all up to ME to provide them with all the info for the presentation. Which of course I didn't have. Damn you snow!

Fortuneately we were rescued last second by a late arriving group member who had the whole biography printed out. No, the presentation wasn't great, but after the whole debacle of being singled out and saying stupid things, I really couldn't have cared less. What I've learnt this week is that academic people don't get my warped sense of humour (no I don't actually smell you idiots!) nor do they think that the curtains "were just blue".

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Spoon Conundrum

How is it possible for a spoon to be a deadly weapon?! Well it is. In fact it is entirely possible, and if you are me, then it is also entirely likely to endure the wrath of the spoon. I have said this before, and I will say it again, I bruise like a soft peach. Right, so let me explain; about a week and a half ago, I was violently assualted by a spoon (and by that I mean I dropped it on my foot), so obviously the result was a slight reddening of the skin (and by that I mean a massive bruise that still hasn't gone away). I would simply like to know how on earth one can be injured so violently by a spoon of all things.

Unfortunatly I think I am one of those people who does stupid things, I know, it runs in the family - the "twig" and the "you think you know me but you don't" incidents come to mind, so actually anyway you look at it, there is no escaping this tendency to do stupid things. For me anyway. My ever growing list includes blinding myself by melting my eyelashes together (it's got a lot to do with too much mascara and a hot oven), talking to someone about "someone else" only to discover I'm describing this person to themself, and nearly strangling myself with my own scarf in an attempt to take it off too hurriedly, amongst MANY other things.

I have however developed quite the knack for looking like I meant to do something; like "yes, I did mean to run for the bus, dig in my bag for my purse, then stop, curse under my breath, turn on my heel and walk in the opposite direction", (turns out I'd left my purse at home). Or "yes I did mean to violently throw my phone across the floor to be left standing like a startled fish with silent earphones hanging out my ears". Or my most common one "yes I did mean to do a little pirouette leap on the pavement because I didn't see that car coming round the bend as I almost stepped out into the road...". See, I'm a natural.

My most annoying stupid thing, however, is apparently quite commonplace (I've heard it described by at least one comedian). That embarrassing moment when yout speak after a while of having not spoken, and your voice either comes out all weird and squeaky, or all scary and deep and croaky. Luckily, the British people in general are too conservative to point out that you've just made yourself look like a complete fool, so they just do that smiley head nod thing that people do when they're embarrassed for you.

So what I've learnt from all this stupidity is:

not to rush things (as I will either strangle myself, or throw a weeks worth of washing across the floor infront of complete strangers),

to pretend to be really confident when you do something embarrassing "yes I meant to walk in here, (realise I was in the wrong place) look at my phone like I've just remembered something and walk out",

and most of all, not to underestimate the danger of the common, household spoon.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Onslaught of Science

Right, so I guess that's week 1 done and dusted. Ok. Yes. Right. To be perfectly honest, I am beginning to fear the next two years, if the first week is anything to go by. I'm just clinging to the hope that it will get easier... Who am I kidding.

English Literature is a piece of cake, well I think it is, I have yet to recieve any feedback on any work I've done, but otherwise I have no complaints in that department. Evidently this is what I'm cut out for. But why live life on the safe side, so here I am, with an extensive knowledge of art and english, studying for a science degree. Yes, that's right, a science degree! Ok I've known from the very beginning that it was a science degree... I just didn't ever stop to consider that it would be this "science-y".

Textbook 1; a slip of a book, with a mere 700 or so pages (almost A3 pages I might add), and textbook 2; another slip of a book (okay less slippy and more booky...) with a hearty 400 odd pages. I am not so concerned by the number of pages, rather it's that I find myself having to "translate" every second sentence from science-y academic language to normal-people language. This is where mom and dad come into good use:

me - "please translate this sentence for me!"

dad - "oh, that just means that these little things are doing these jobs".

Well why didn't they just say that in the first place!

I did however manage the second chapter without much difficulty, which made me start thinking oh what was I even worried about, I'll get used to this! Only to discover that it was the whole SECTION I was supposed to be reading, not just one or two chapters. Insert panicked face... now.

I do think I jumped into the deep end without first checking I could swim (yeah I know, it's a really bad metaphor, but that's what it feels like!). But I am determined to be awesome at this whole university business. Also I am very determined (though less than I was before I knew what I was getting myself into) that I will be one of, if not, the best. Bring it on textbooks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Day 2 of actual Uni, (i.e. involving lectures and work) and I feel like a brilliant an attentive student! I've got myself organised with folders, dividers, sub-dividers, sub-sub-dividers and so on and so forth. Ok, so it's only day 2, and there isn't THAT much work to be done (I've tried actually, but it turns out the reading lists, etc, haven't even been put up yet! One step ahead to me!) I am determined however to be a brilliant and attentive student for the rest of my time here! That is of course unless I freeze to death or have a nervous breakdown due to the Hyena living downstairs.

Oh alright I won't actually freeze to death, but they should really invent heated umbrellas to keep you warm when walking from campus to campus... Especially when you arrive at a lecture only to be told it's been cancelled. Either tell me before I venture out in sub-zero temperatures with nothing more than a few dozen layers to keep me warm, or give me a heated umbrella! Still, I suppose I can survive the cold, it's the Hyena I've got to watch out for...

Earphones are a wonderful invention, not only can one enjoy one's preferred choice of music, but one can also block out annoying and irritating sounds. Top of the list is the Hyena, I would like to point out at this point that no, I am not living at a zoo, but the girl in the room below me must definitely have some Hyena blood in her... I have never heard a laugh quite so extraordinary... or quite so loud. Or both. Put together. To equal teeth grinding madness.

I might be able to retreat to the sanctity of my room, but apparently, APPARENTLY, even that is not meant to be. My radiator sounds like some kind of aquatic creature being murdered by some other vicious aquatic creature. *gurgle gurgle gurgle splutter gurgle.... GURGLE* yeah you get the picture. So thank goodness for earphones. Seriously.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Uni Day 1

The milk is fine, in case anyone was wondering. Oh but actually I don't suppose anyone was wondering, because I'm the only one that knows about the milk in the first place. Just to keep you updated, I apparently can't close mini fridge doors, as when I got back to my room last night, the door was in fact open. But the milk is fine. So all is well in the world.

So yes, I do have a mini fridge in my room! How exciting and grown up! Though I do kind of wish it was a self rrefilling one (like hotel fridges) because then I wouldn't have to worry about buying food... it is on my list of things to do! But they keep feeding me here, and I haven't had time yet! Yesterday after registration, I went on the "compulsory" library tour. Uhm... I was the only Psychology student there... so my tour lasted all of three seconds with the librarian going "Psychology books are down that aisle! Thanks for coming!" so off I went, leaving the numerous law students to their own devices.

Later in the evening was a "meet and greet", a torturous affair where they shove all the new and frightened students into one room and tell them to "mingle". As you can imagine I just stood in a darkened corner and hissed at anyone that approached me. I didn't really. But I felt like doing that... No-one chose to tell me that I would be extremely terrified these first few days, that in fact I would feel like a 6 year old starting primary school for the first time (except with better hair). But I persevered regardless, I DID mingle with some other children (this time I'm not joking, they are practically children, being the ripe age of 18). But it was a fine night in the end. Also, note to self, do not swing on frosted over children's swings, as this results in one's bum being very icy cold.

This morning was supposed to involve a tour around the town, but my bed was just too warm and cozy to get up for 9, so I lazed about for probably the last time in a while. I was informed later, however, that I would probably know the (little) town very well withint about a week, so I'm not too concerned on that note. Next was onto Milton Keynes for a day of shopping (uhm I thought this was a Uni... not a holiday camp!). My highlight of the day was the Xscape; a large indoor arena with various shops and restaurants, the main attraction of Xscape is the indoor ski-slope, think ice-skating with a twist. Yup, real (cold) snow, with ski-lift, snow boards and eveything else in between. I definitely want to try that!

After the ski-slope we went to see the Indoor Sky-diving. This of course looks super awesome and amazing. The indoor skydiving is just a massive veritcal wind tunnel that you float about in (it's a lot harder than it looks however). Also on the list of things I want to try! *Note to mom, both of the above are now on your "wild things" list. I'll be kind and accompany you on these hardships* http://www.xscape.co.uk/milton-keynes/

Now for a brief respite before it's onto the next item on the list (a night out in Oxford - please remember to dress warmly). Also, of course, time for a hearty meal of cereal for dinner (I WILL get round to shopping I promise!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Madness Hamsters

I'm not exactly sure when we started using the term "Madness Hamsters" to describe our charming pets, but it definitely does suit. Lily and Izzi could not be described as usual or normal pets, in fact I'm not sure they are even a dog and cat (respectively), but rather some weird hybrid of a variety of odd species.

Let's look at Lily first; a cross between a sausage dog and a Jack Russell, our first thought when we chose her was "what a perfect combination of energy and laziness". I think she got the worst traits of both. Lily often has urges to perform mad dashes, whereby she runs around (like a madness hamster) furiously, her tail tucked between her legs, her ears flapping wildly in the wind, her tongue lolling out her mouth like a pink flag and her eyes bulging out her head like some weird doll. It is ridiculously funny to watch, because as soon as you cut off her escape route (best done in the house, because the garden just results in this run going round and round until you - the viewer - are positively dizzy), Lily rolls over onto her back and does the "wiggle".
The "wiggle" is a new addition to her repetoire of madness, she lies on her bag and twists and wiggles like a strange little doggy worm, it is super cute. Lily has obviously realised the power of her wiggle, as she performs this neat little trick everytime she wants some food from the dining room table (no she doesn't get it, but it's fun to see her squirm). Lily, in this wiggle state, is of course irresistible to Izzi, who is quite possibly even more mad that Lily. Izzi sees this as the perfect oppurtunity to mock-attack the dog, and she (as any good cat would) goes straight for the juicy bits; i.e. the throat or the thighs.

I'm not entirely convinced that Izzi is 100% cat however, I strongly suspect that she has a bit of pigeon; she makes the most unusual, albeit toe-curlingly cute "cooing" noise instead of meowing - maybe she is onto a new and innovative method of pigeon baiting - either way it's not the kind of noise you expect to come from a cat. *Izzi, lying infront of the warm laptop, goes "krrr krrr krrr*. I also believe she may have a bit of squirrel-monkey in her, she certainly does a brilliant impression of a lolloping monkey when she runs, and she has the same kind of nervous twitchy tree climbing ability as squirrels.

I think growing up with a dog has influenced Izzi to become the cat/pigeon/squirrel-monkey that she is today. She sometimes adopts Lily's mad running, although her run usually involves wild leaps which startle both the viewer and the cat herself. Izzi's new favourite place in the garden (not counting the entirety of the garden itself where she performs these acrobatic and startling leaps), is the "vegetable garden", or what remains of it. Dad recently dug up the little wooden fence that surrounded the old veggie patch, and now the rectangular pen is just standing abandoned in the garden. Izzi of course loves this, as she now has her own play pen. She can often be found just sitting within the perimeter of the fence, surveying her territory, or watching the unsuspecting Lily, waiting for the oppurtune moment to attack.

These two furry little balls of madness make up for any craziness by just being so lovable and sweet (not all the time, but often enough for it to count), that you can't help but love them. Fuzzy little lap warmers with boundless love for their people, I am definitely going to miss seeing them everyday. I only hope mom and dad will survive the combined force of these two creatures without me to interfere...