Friday 28 September 2012

Cook dinner for my family for one whole week

As you may have noticed, the Hat has been made somewhat redundant for the past few weeks, as opportunities for firsts keep creeping up on me.

Getting ready to move for a new job has meant a couple of other ideas that were already in the Hat have become necessary (or at least much easier) to complete before their time of being picked out.

For example, I don’t think my family would have appreciated me cooking for them quite so much if they had to wait for me to drive the 60-odd miles to Ipswich every night after work before I even turned on the oven. Obviously, I would have had no problem at all with this, but, you know, I’m just selfless, always thinking of others, and we can’t all be like that.

So last week I dusted off my cook books and decided it was time I earned my keep. 

Hard at work

Tuesday 25 September 2012

10 things I learnt from this year's major sporting event.

Just in case you missed it, London hosted some sporting event this summer that was apparently a pretty big deal. Thank you, Government, taxpayers and private sector investors for spending billions to give me the opportunity to complete a first of attending a major sporting event. 

Something to do with this?

Those who know me are unlikely to describe me as sporty. And, as for watching it, I rarely see the point. I get bored before the half time whistle blows on any football match (why can’t they just decide the whole thing on penalties and do away with the other 90-odd minutes?).

But I really got into the Olympic and Paralympic games. And it didn’t even take much effort (on my part. Probably not so true of the athletes). So I was very glad that boyfriend Glenn talked me into buying tickets for the last evening of events of London 2012.

So, in an attempt to be succinct, and not to gush and waffle on about how brilliant it all was, here is my list of 10 things I have personally learnt from London 2012.

1. I can feel patriotic at times. Despite all my past ramblings on how patriotism is based on a completely arbitrary factor of the country you are born in, sometimes I do feel proud to live in this country. And it was not just seeing the success of the athletes that made me feel a twinge. But the Best of British soundtrack to the opening ceremony almost bought a tear to my eye. (See around 1hr 4mins and 30 secs for the start of the medley) 

2. The Paralympics classification system is not as complicated as it first seems. Especially when you have a mum who can explain it all to you. 

3. I really want to get fit. Watching the athletes achieve amazing feats with their super fit bodies was truly inspirational (and not quite as pervy on my part as that makes it sound). I am more envious of Jennifer Ennis’ washboard stomach than of any ridiculous fashion advert model such as this one from Kookai. (However, possessing the desire to get fit and actually making an effort to do it are two very different states of mind. I don’t think my lunchtime Zumba session is quite enough to turn me into an Olympic standard athlete.) 

4. I am terrible at doing ‘The Bolt’ (thought I would put this up here before you did, Glenn). 

There was a second attempt, but, to be honest, it wasn't much better!
5. Events on a national scale encourage a sense of camaraderie and get people in London to actually talk to each other. Even on the tube. The one resounding memory I will take from going to watch the Paralympic was the general atmosphere and sense of cheeriness. A few weeks after the games and this kind of talk already seems twee and ridiculous. But, for a few brief weeks Brits dropped their natural cynicism and it was actually like that. 

6. Boris dances in exactly the way you would imagine him to. 

7. Some moments can be draw droppingly amazing to watch, such as this, and this

8. That most national anthems sound pretty much the same. But it’s a shame Italy didn’t win more gold medals because theirs is much more jaunty. 

9. Ministers who attend national sporting events give the general population a unique opportunity to tell them exactly how they feel about their policies. 

10. I can get wrapped up in and enjoy sporting events. Obviously, when you’re sitting in a stadium with 80,000 other people who are all cheering along the athletes just a few hundred metres in front of you it is easy to get taken in by it all. But long before I actually made it to the Olympic Park I found myself screaming at the athletes on screen and jumping up and down when Team GB won gold. Something I have never really found myself doing in the past.

All for me
    So, in conclusion, I’m pretty sure the Olympic Games were held in London especially for my benefit (well, and maybe for the benefit of other people like me. People who aren’t really that into sport, but have been inspired to take a little bit more of an interest in it by the general brilliance of the Games. And people who like striking up random conversations on the tube without being branded a psycho).

    Wednesday 19 September 2012

    Visit a new country

    What springs to mind when you think of Amsterdam? Coffee shops and cannabis? The red light district? Or perhaps tulips and canals? For me, the one thing that jumps out as the defining feature of the trip there is the people.

    I could tell you all about sitting on a beach with Darth Vader, an astronaut and the Dutch Prime Minister (actual reality, not any drug induced hallucinations).* But obviously I know you would much rather me ramble on about how nice people are.

    Get out the way fellow tourists! I <3 amsterdam.
    Thanks to my personal photographer Chloe for the pics

    Monday 10 September 2012

    World Suicide Prevention Day

    From The CALMzone 

    Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I have been out all day but I didn't want to let it pass without a mention on here. 

    Suicide always seems to me like such a difficult thing to try and prevent. There is rarely only one cause. But the International Association for Suicide Prevention is doing all it can to try and help us to better understand what can be done to stop it from happening.

    Ultimately, there is only ever one person who can really prevent a suicide and that is the person considering it. But, if this is you, you can get help from others. You may be the one making that final decision, but there are many people around you who want to help. Call the Samaritans. Go and tell your family. Visit the doctor. Talk to a friend. Get medication or get your current medication reviewed. Ask to switch counsellors. Speak to CALM. Everybody has down times but you do not have to live with suicidal thoughts and the best solution does not involve acting on them. There is a way. There is always a way. 

    According to this site, it is actually World Suicide Prevent Week. And after reading stories of some people on Twitter who have attempted suicide, I thought it would be good to share some on here - evidence that, even if things seem bad, it can and will get better. 

    Reasons to Go On Living
    Spun Out
    Huffington Post
    Waking Up Alive

    + lots more on Twitter

    Monday 3 September 2012

    Harry Potter and the girls who never grew up

    Flying on a broomstick…

    Ok, I admit, this one was not on the original list but this is definitely a first for me. And while it is not technically flying, it’s as pretty close as you are ever going to get to it – there’s wind machines and everything. 

    If I'm going to embarrass myself by writing about it, I may as well go all
    out and give you pictorial evidence. And, yes, I was very excited to wear the gown. 

    I should probably warn you that I might suddenly switch to gushing teenage nerd girl mode while I tell you about my time at The Making of Harry Potter tour at the WB Studios near Watford. But please don’t turn away so quickly. I can assure you that this is not just a place for 25-year-old children who love HP but for film buff ‘kids’ of any age.