Adventure #5: olympic tickets and peanut.

27 04 2011

Have you been gripped by Olympic fever? In a nut shell, I would say… nah not really. I mean, I did get a bit excited when I saw the countdown clock in Trafalgar Square one day when I went past it on the bus, but then I realised that really it’s just a digital clock… and my buzz wore off. This weekend, in a haze of bank holiday weekend boredom (week before pay day black hole and boyfriend working), I decided that actually I was gripped by some 2012 excitement and that I did in fact want to go, so I ventured onto the very orange and asymmetric looking Olympic website.

What is the difference between rhythmic and artistic gymnastics? What is the 10m spring board dive? All I wanted to know was which button press to see Tom Daley and Zara Phillips win a gold medal. I was always told you’ve got to be in it to win it, so I dived in filling up my basket to see the ponies in Greenwich Park, and the half naked men in the ‘aquatics’ centre, and to see how many times they manage to get a London Bus into the opening ceremony. I then looked at the total and it came out at £766… Was this normal? Does everyone just put in for loads – as for some reason I just assumed they would be ludicrously oversubscribed. Failing my rational mind, and fear of not being able to pay the rent should I win all my tickets, I quickly rang my Dad and asked what he would do, to which he responded ‘I’d call my Dad and ask him pay for them – which is what you’ve just done isn’t it?’

Watching BBC Breakfast this morning they described the aftermath of the ticket lottery system as an ‘Olympic Ticket Hangover’ which is the best way to describe it – It was fun at the time but the morning after it’s all a bit fuzzy and a nervous panic about what you actually did starts to set in.  I was greatly soothed by ‘Mary’ a fellow Olympic enthusiast, who has applied for £22,000 pounds worth of tickets.

Do you think the ticketing system for 2012 will win an award? It has so many plus points, like having to buy your tickets nearly a year in advance, you can only pay with a visa card, you get charged for your tickets and then there’s a 2 week wait till you find out what tickets you’ve actually won. Sound good? But don’t worry, the best bit is, if you want to sell you tickets back you can – just not until the buyback portal opens… sometime in January 2012. Lucky 2012 Olympic people who have millions of pounds of our money sitting in a bank earning interest for 6 months. Do you think that’s for the finishing touches to the car park?

Is it wrong that when it comes to the Olympics, I’m actually dreading it, and that all I can think about is that it’s going to be an absolute NIGHTMARE getting to work for the whole period?  Is it true they are dedicating a WHOLE LANE of London to travelling Olympic athletes and officials? All I can see is a whole month of MASSIVE commuter rage.

If you haven’t heard of the BBC Four TV comedy Twenty Twelve, you are missing out. It’s a spoof documentary about the ‘deliverance’ committee for the 2012 games and it’s brilliant. Here’s a clip from the first episode.

In other news I’ve only gone and got myself a little hamster! Boyfriend and I are now proud parents of a little baby girl hamster called Peanut. We named her Peanut for 2 reasons – 1) Boyfriend wouldn’t allow any cheesy girl names 2) she’s NUTS! If there was a hamster Olympics she would definitely be representing the UK in the climbing category (if there was one). After chewing her way out of the box on the journey home from the pet shop – we knew she was going to be a character…

Now, a Hamster Olympic Games Opening Ceremony – that I would pay to see.


Adventure #4: skiing and chocolate milkshakes.

26 03 2011

It takes no Sherlock Holmes to work out that if I’m blogging, I must have survived skiing!! Go me! Mum, Dad, boyfriend and I, all came back somewhat aged and achey, but we all made it through the week without serious injury. Well, physically… maybe not mentally!

Skiing lived up to everything I thought it would be: terrifying, exhausting, really hard, painful and the most amazing fun. I think I experienced a spectrum of all human emotions at some point during the week, everything from fear to elation. There were hundreds of hilarious moments but I’ve cherry picked a few key ones for your pleasure.

For those of you that don’t know my Dad, he’s hilarious. He’s also the clumsiest person I know, so basically it was like teaching an older 6ft 2 orangutang to ski (love you Dad). Our skiing instructor Franck, was possibly the most patient person I’ve ever met, and the craziest, but somehow he did it, and he managed to teach us all to ski. My Dad’s best moment was on the second day coming down the nursery slopes. Dad’s body seemed to freeze when faced with accumulating speed, so rather than attempting to stop or fall over, he just got faster and faster until he crashed into something or someone. So my favourite moment by far was when my Mum and I got to the top of the button lift and came off, and were prepring to pootle down the slope, when I looked round and said “Mum, isn’t that Dad over there?” and all we could see was Dad, hurtling at break neck speed across the slope, heading right for the button lifts… the best part of this was that he was going backwards. Right behind Dad trying to catch him up was Super Franck shouting “weight on the left, WEIGHT ON THE LEFT!” but I’m not sure that really made a difference when you’re skiing backwards… So moments later, Dad ploughs into the button lifts, taking out maybe 4 or 5 children and a few beginner adults, who will probably be too terrified to ever ski again.

Poor Dad, although, we all had our fair share of falls. I had a corker on the 3rd day which was a prequel to my mental and physical mid week breakdown, where I cried a lot and wanted to go home more than anything in the whole wide world. I fell most of the way down the last very steep part of a run, and clattered into a French family who were just chatting at the bottom of the hill. They weren’t very concerned I’d just slid on my arse the whole way down the run, they just proceeded to shout at me in French till I cried, but luckily it looked like I had my game face on as you can’t see tears behind my Ray-Bans (thank god!).

That night was a bad one. I’d had enough, I couldn’t ski as well as my bf, who was bloody brilliant (which really pissed me off), everything hurt, absolutely EVERYTHING (even smiling hurt), I was exhausted, and terrified of hurting myself. That evening I pretty much behaved like a tired and emotional toddler at a birthday party after no afternoon nap and too much cake. However, the next day I picked myself up, got my thermal underwear on, and all of a sudden I could SKI!!! It was a tremendous feeling to actually enjoy myself and relax into it a bit. Don’t get me wrong I was still petrified, but now it was fun!

Amongst my bf being ‘so good that he kept falling over when we were standing still’ because ‘it was just too slow for him’, my Mum getting altitude sickness and falling in love with Franck, and continuously taking me out by skiing into me 10 times a day, we had a lot of laughs and that was the most important thing. The funniest bit being when my bf and I ordered 2 chocolate milkshakes and the bill was 16 Euros!!!

Because he was by far the best skier I’m allowed to do this (he’ll probably kill me though) here is a little video for you of one my bf’s falls…

Did I enjoy the holiday? Well, I’m not sure I’d call it a holiday, more of an experience, and enjoy might not be quite the right word. BUT, I can’t wait to save up all my money and go again next year!!!

News on the hamster: hasn’t arrived yet, BUT I’ve found an awesome cage for it called ‘hamster heaven’ and I’m bidding for it on eBay – 1 day left and I’m winning! Now just got to get little hammy to go in it. Yippee!

Adventure #3: bean bags and tube rides.

26 02 2011

Afternoon all on this grey and rainy Saturday afternoon. Apologies for being so quiet lately, nothing super exciting has happened to share with you since my holiday, except a few rather embarrassing moments, which I thought you might like to hear.

Most of February has been taken up with my new job. I’ve settled in well (I hope!) and I’m really really enjoying it. Lots of lovely people, and it’s busy busy, so I feel like I’m back to my normal self. Working for a digital agency now, I headed off to my first social media conference, where I was ready to absorb all the social media secrets of the industry, and hear all about how Facebook & Twitter are one step nearer to taking over the world. The conference was only down the road from the office, and I like to walk from A to B in London (you know, breathe in the fresh fumey air and see the sights), but I left way too late, and ended up virtually running the 15 minute walk to Covent Garden. It was a very very windy day, and I was wearing a very very floaty dress, and if there were anymore Marilyn moments I would have been arrested for indecent exposure.

Anyway, I arrived with seconds to spare, windswept and out of breathe. “Don’t worry!” said the girl in killer red heels, supporting a pearly white smile and chic designer glasses, “you’re just in time, unfortunately there’s only bean bags left at the front, have a nice time!” “I’m sorry, did you just say, bean bags?” No time for questions as the lights dimmed and I scuttled down the aisle to the front, to find (to my horror) a neat little row of leather bean bags… Have you ever tried to sit through a 2 hour conference on a bean bag wearing a fairly short dress? Not only had I flashed half of London on the way there, I was now at serious risk of flashing the poor unsuspecting speakers lined up to share their trade secrets with us. Uh-oh.

The next couple of hours were spent locking my legs together and trying to look relaxed and comfortable. The best part was trying to get out of the bloody thing. Flash back to the Friends episode where Fat-Monica gets stuck in the bean bag… Even Jordan, drunk, with a short skirt and no pants on, getting out of a pink limo, would have looked more classy than me trying to get up. Only in marketing could you have ‘we’re so cool and relaxed we can chill out on bean bag’ seating at a conference. Oh marketing, how I’ve missed you so. It’s safe to say, I didn’t hang around for the post-conference drinks, not so much small talk to be made after flashing half your peers.

One final embarrassing moment to share with you… I’ve often laughed at people who fall over on the tube, or who stumble into someone, and think, serves you right for not holding on! But from now on, I’ll never laugh at any of these unfortunate incidents again, as I think I may have experienced the vengeful powers of Karma. I jumped onto the tube as the doors were closing on Friday morning at Elephant & Castle, slightly sleepy, but jolly as it was Friday (my favourite day of the week). As I arrived at my chosen seat, there was a Sport magazine on it, so I leant down to remove it before I sat down. This was at the exact moment the tube decided to pull away, sending me flying down the aisle. What felt like a million moments later, I promptly landed in the lap of an unsuspecting male commuter. My boyfriend can’t even give me a piggy back without cracking a few vertebrae, so let’s just say this poor bloke got a bit of shock. Whilst apologising profusely, trying to lever myself out of his lap, I proceeded to stamp on his foot, crumple his work papers he was reading, and spill my coffee on his very nice Mulberry-man-bag. The only way to recover from this hideous moment, was to get off at the next stop and wait for the next tube. I was late for work, but my dignity was mostly in tact.

On a final less embarrassing note, my boyfriend and I have decided to get an actual hamster! So, next blog I can introduce you! I’m hoping to get one that I can teach French, and go to Pilates with. Do you think I can get one at Harvey Nicks?

Adventure #2: wrist bands and invasions of personal space.

28 01 2011

Ola mon amigos! 1st fact of the day – they speak Spanish in the Dominican Republic.  2nd fact of the day… I definitely do not speak Espangol. Franglais however, I’m fluent in, but Spanish – No. I did however attempt a few jovial conversational quips with the barmen on holiday, but the vacant looks I received when it was their turn to speak, was a definite sign I should have stuck with ‘1 pina colada and 1 beer please’. I will attempt however to throw in a little Spanish here and there to demonstrate my blog has the potential for international status etc etc.

So, we had a muy bien time on hols. It was so lovely to see the beautiful sea and walk along the white sandy beaches. The flight was long, but worth it to step out into lovely weather and beautiful views. On arriving at the airport we were met by our tour operator who popped us on our mini bus and stuck his head through the window to explain a few things. In his lovely Caribbean accent he said “Now your transfer to the hotel will be about 5 minutes. But you have to understand, in the Dominican Republic, that’s about 20 – 25 minutes” And off we went to our hotel. The journey took 30 minutes.

The all inclusive holy grail.

At the hotel we got our ‘all inclusive’ wrist bands (beautifully bright orange so went with nothing I owned). I got used to the all inclusive way of life quite quickly, but there are definitely a distinct set of pros and cons. PRO: not having to pay for anything! It was lovely just walking up to the bar ordering a drink, no need for foreign currency or money or even a wallet, just order and go! Equally after dinner, no need to wait for the bill, just get up and go. Very nice. CON: Limited selection of items and queuing. Obviously there’s only a limited selection of things, which does get a little tedious after a while, but for a week, you manage – 2 weeks however would have been buffet food OVERLOAD.  Which brings me onto one of my main points of adventure #2… PEOPLE PUSHING IN.

When people say the British love to queue, I’ve always politely laughed at this and thought, yes there are quite a few things we queue for in life. However, post holiday I’ve realised, no, we’re just the only people who know the etiquette of queuing, and other nationalities are frankly just rude! So I’ve come up with few easy to follow tips for people who find it hard to stand patiently in a queue:

  1. Deal with it.
    Sometimes you have to queue. If you can see the end of the line AND you can see it’s moving, this is a good thing! Do not proceed to huff and puff, mutter under your breath, and make generally REALLY ANNOYING noises right behind me. You’ll get your egg white omelette in less than 3 minutes. Chill.
  2. Stand well back.
    Once you have taken up your place in the queue, do not stand SO CLOSE behind me so that A) I can feel you breathing as your smelly breath makes the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up and B) bump into me every 30 seconds as you start huffing and fidgeting. Do not touch me. Ever.
  3. Don’t push in.
    The most important rule of all. Just because I’m standing 2 feet away from the person in front (to avoid becoming their conjoined twin), doesn’t mean you can just push in front of me. That small space is a polite distance, NOT THE END OF THE QUEUE. More importantly, you know that’s the case, so don’t get pissed off when I kindly and politely point this out to you. Get to the back and follow points 1 & 2.
  4. Be polite.
    When you get to the front, after your short time in the queue, be polite to the person serving you. It’s not their fault you had to wait a little, and it’s not their fault you didn’t follow these simple steps, and consequently had a bad queuing experience.  Remember your manners.

Now, don’t feel these simple steps are only applicable for a buffet queue. They can be implemented in many queuing situations. For example: airport check-in, immigration or even at Starbucks. Also, adapted slightly with a little common sense, they can also be used for baggage reclaim. Mini high-fives to all of you who already follow these steps, or similar.

My legs never got much browner...

I’m not sure I would do an all inclusive holiday again, but we did have a nice time, and I did have a lovely relax and dipped my feet in the cool clear waters of the sea.

On returning back from holiday, I’ve just started a new job! So I’m currently in my first week trying not to make an idiot of myself and be super friendly, so no doubt my next adventure will be my new work related embarrassing
moment(s). Thank goodness January is nearly over. Yippeee. Hopefully the year will start to perk up a bit. After all, it’s only 37 days until my birthday.

Final fact of the day. It really is the Germans that reserve all the sun beds on the beach at silly o’clock, it’s not just a cultural stereotype or urban myth. It’s a fact. Hamsters in Germany are sold with a mini towel and alarm clock (battery not included).

Adventure #1: abandoned Christmas trees and a package holiday.

5 01 2011

Welcome to January everyone! Happy New Year to you all. Hands up who has got the January blues already? Mine is definitely brewing nicely. According to my terribly bad counting skills I think today is the 12th day of Christmas (it might be tomorrow), which means if you leave your decorations up any later than this day it will bring you bad luck for the rest of the year. Being very superstitious myself, last night I promptly took all the decorations off our little tree and packed them all away in their boxes ready for a nice long sleep. Jealousy suddenly came over me, and I wanted to be packed away in a nice little box until the festive season, ready to come out gleaming and to be admired by onlookers. Then I realised my January blues may be further advanced than I had first thought, as I’m sure being jealous of a Christmas decoration isn’t entirely normal…

Now, what to do with poor little naked Christmas tree? It wasn’t long ago I had such affection for it, and now I’m preparing to get rid of it. Poor little thing. Aren’t I lucky that Southwark council will take Christmas trees away with the garden waste collection! Excellent news. There is nothing more depressing than walking down your residential street on your way home after work, witnessing naked and withered abandoned Christmas trees lining the street, screaming at you CHRISTMAS IS OVER AND THE NEXT ONE ISN’T FOR AGES. Let’s hope I’ve interpreted the rather confusing council website correctly, and our little tree gets collected tomorrow for a trip to pine tree heaven, rather than abandoned tree hell. I’ll let you know what happens.

This year the terribly clever mathematicians have calculated that ‘Blue Monday’ this year will be 24 January.  19 days to go till we can all get on to thinking about even more depressing things, such as bloody Valentines day… sigh. So, in a super effort to beat the blues this year, for the first time ever we’re (boyfriend and I) are going on a last-minute, all-inclusive, package holiday!

Fancy a stroll along here? Yes please!

Just to make you all horribly jealous (but please keep reading…) we’re off to the Dominican Republic for a week! I can’t WAIT. Although, the package holiday has got off to a not so promising start… put it this way, I’m not staying where I originally wanted, or going on the dates I requested, I’m flying from Birmingham airport (!), and I’ve spoken to Rob from customer services so many times in 24 hours he now knows I’m a Pisces and my favourite hobby is eating out, and I know Rob is single living in Newcastle, and thinks he might be gay (but his parents don’t know). However, I’m a lucky girl to be going away for a week, so I keep looking at this picture and asking myself, ‘how bad can it be?’. I hope you’ll be looking forward to the post holiday write-up of the adventure? Can hamsters swim? How many cocktails can they drink in a row? The suspense is already killing me.

From where I’m sitting I can see the little Christmas tree all alone and cold outside in the rain… If it had eyes they would be puppy dogged shaped. I’m off to go and close the blinds before I go outside, bring it back in, and redecorate it ready for next year.

The birth of our friend the metropolitan hamster.

5 01 2011

Welcome friends of the Metropolitan Hamster to my inaugural post. It’s 2011, and I’ve decided it’s TTB (time to blog!). I’ve spent a long time considering what the subject of my blog might be, reading advice from fellow bloggers who strongly advise my content to be specific and ‘meeting someone’s needs’, however, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve decided (true to form) to ignore that advice, and write with freedom and honesty about my adventures.

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of adventure reads ‘an unusual and exciting or daring experience’. NB readers I will be using the common noun adventure loosely, as not all my stories will be of daring or unusual experiences, but how would we get through the routine of working life without the thought of an adventure every now and then? I hope, in some small way, my stories will bring a smile to your face or a feeling of solidarity in the obstacles we face in life (from raising awareness of world poverty to struggling onto the northern line during rush hour).  Also, you maybe wondering what on earth hamsters have to do with anything? But that’s for me to know (for now) and for you to find out…

For those of you that don’t know me, the metropolitan hamster is a 25 (soon to be 26 on the 6th March – I now expect and birthday message) year old girl from the home counties currently living in South East London with her boyfriend, asking herself very often: what the hell am I going to do with my life? Maybe this blog will help me figure it out…

Let the adventures begin.