As a completely fabulous, proper weekend draws to a close, I’m once again pensive. In a good way. For the first time in I genuinely can’t remember how long, I am excited for Monday. The first week of the new job mostly involved meeting people, familiarising myself with the uni’s website and eating cake. But I am looking forward to being there, to the challenge of the first tasks I have, of getting to know my (perfectly lovely!) new colleagues, of discovering the campus and the surrounding areas, of spending the evenings of this week eating good food and making stock for fairs and the fabulous Tea & Sympathy boutique.
This weekend has comprised seeing the Ruby Slippers at the V&A, eating a ridiculous amount of food, catching up with fabulous friends, catching up with fabulous family and walking around in a state of wonder that I can be this happy in normal, everyday life. Read on for more…
So, having planned & booked this trip in January, we suddenly had freak sunshine for our week off. Woo yay! Monday morning, I headed for Oundle to find the others and the marina. Oundle is pronounced OWndle not OOndle. Obviously. (Obviously I am not a local!) Said hello slightly self-consciously – holiday was with Rob and his friends – I hadn’t met Andy & Gemma before (they live in Australia) and the first & only time I’d met James & Jo, I was dressed as a parrot in a corset (of course!) and had had a few too many jelly shots. Ahem. Anyway, it was lovely to meet them properly.
I’ll do a proper photo post/album when I’ve got my pics off the big camera, but in the meantime here are a few, in no particular order, that I’ve managed to persuade my phone to transfer…
Instagram of the bow of the boat – ultimate tranquility…
Watching a wrecked narrowboat be righted and towed away in Peterborough
We took a steam train ride on Wednesday while waiting for Jo to join us……and disembarked somewhere that felt a lot like Hogwarts!
View from my bedroom window on the last morning – it really is a gorgeous way to wake up!
It was fabulous and over much too soon – so good to really slow down, there is almost no signal out on the river, and I learned to do locks all over again, and ran over the roof, and tried to master my fear of jumping off the boat when there’s water between the boat and the side, and we cooked and drank and talked and read and took photos and drank some more and it was gorgeous. Also gave me time to have a proper think about life, the universe and everything (:P) and I’ve come home and started a huge spring clean. Which I think is a good thing!
We also managed to meet Jenny and Craig (from Team Allegro, when we were rallying with Rusty) for dinner on Wednesday night which was really nice, as I hadn’t seen them since September 🙂
More pics and such soon – I wish I was still there, I do not in any way want to go back to the real world tomorrow!
Just a really quick post this evening, I’ve spent the bank holiday weekend in Loughborough (where I went to uni between 2004 and 2008) with the girls I lived with there – we haven’t all been together for a ridiculously long time and yet we pinged magically back into our old ways and ease with each other… a mark of true friendship, I believe 🙂 We are muchly lucky to have each other!
Here is, L-R, Val, me and Mo…
And back in the doorway of the halls we met in, L-R Annie, me, Hols, Mo and Han.
I was nervous about going back to campus (although not of seeing the girls, obviously) and while it was lovely to see all our old haunts, I don’t feel any mad desire to go back. That was then, and this is now, and the future looks even more exciting 😀 However, we definitely need to all meet up more than once every few years, so we’ve now decided the May bank holiday will be our weekend to see each other every year, even if we don’t manage it in between times. Happy Carla.
Hope all your bank holidays were as successful and nostalgic and lovely!
Today was just another day at work… only it wasn’t at all, it turned out to be a glorious extravaganza of a day. The morning was quite average, apart from a delivery of a box of feather boas for burlesque class, which massively entertained my colleagues. My desk now looks like a very pink chicken has had a fight near it.
Then lunchtime approached and my two lovely friends Naomi and Wendy, who had been up to Liberty to meet the incomparable Dita Von Teese, came to have cake with me. I met them at St Pauls station and we popped across to Bea’s of Bloomsbury…
Wendy and I had red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and homemade lemonade:
Naomi had the most beautiful (and scrumptious) triple chocolate cake, with tea (of course!):
Having cooed over their Dita perfume and signed photographs and pictures with her, and had a thoroughly good gossip, we stopped to take a photo of these wonderful cake plates on the way:
and then they went off to the station and I went back to work. And shortly after that, I headed off to Bonhams to set up a work event. I was taking marketing materials with me so had a taxi drive me there, and spotted this little tailor’s shop, which I really think is straight out of Harry Potter and hopefully not visible to Muggles, halfway there…
Then on the way home from setting up I got this rather moody but lovely glimpse of the back of Harrods (which is in an area of London I usually avoid because it’s so busy!)
Finished off the day with a lovely long chat with Lou – and my first slice of bread for almost six weeks! (It was amazing – but I gave the rest of the loaf to my neighbour to avoid temptation, hehe!)
I am typing this on the train, sitting next to a woman with an ipad and an iphone. I feel a strange mixture of clunky (my laptop is ENORMOUS in comparison and I don’t have mobile broadband) and smug (I can type so much faster and more accurately than she can, mweeheehee).
The last few weeks have changed my life, overwhelmingly for the better. For various reasons I can’t talk about any of those reasons in detail, but one of the net results is that I have signed up for a season ticket loan for a train ticket, which means I’ll be at work for at least another year. This will give me time to get my finances straight and live my life a little without worrying so much about the future and what’s round the next corner (in the job and finances side of life, anyway).
Secondly, I have decided to put my shop plans on hold for the foreseeable future and concentrate on making things for fun and learning, rather than pressurising myself. The same with vintage homewares and clothing – I’ll buy them for me or for presents, and I’ll continue to research them and blog about my finds because I find them fascinating, but I need to remove the pressure for a while so I can focus on other things.
2012 contains, among other plans, my best friend’s wedding, my parents’ long awaited move into their new home and another rally, closely followed by a Canada trip to watch ice skating in early 2013, so now is not a good time to be starting up. Quite apart from the fact that although I know I’m capable of running a business, my finances are most definitely not, and I’m not sure I’m yet ready to sacrifice my social life in favour of it.
Thirdly, but possibly most importantly, after the weekend that’s just passed I am left with a feeling of happiness, peace, freedom and infinite possibility. My sense of self is fully restored and my inner pin up is well on her way to being part of my everyday life! Although I am never taking a train that far again – driving is SO much more fun and less hassle!
So I’m going to make the most of feeling like that, use the sense of purpose to get my flat and my life in order, and then focus on doing fun stuff… and blogging about it all, of course!
Sorry, this is somewhat of a stream-of-consciousness post, but it does feel good to write it down rather than just have it floating around in my head! A little part of me still can’t quite believe I’ve come this far and made this life for myself. When I look back to how I was four short years ago, and realise just how much I love my ‘new’ life… I wonder how the Carla I am now and the Carla I was then can possibly be the same person. I wouldn’t go back now if you paid me, I love who I’ve become and everything that I do. It’s amazing, empowering and really rather lovely. Ok, enough of the soppy crap now.
Right. Before you all throw up, I’m going to get off the train and go and make sausages and chips for dinner 🙂
Bit of a late post, but here goes…
So first of all, CAE stands for Camping Auto Extravaganza. Which should give you some idea of the type of event it is. Last year was the third, and my first. And the first time I’d met the majority of the club members, even though I’d spoken to them all online via the club forum.
In the intervening year, friendship and bant has developed and I now consider them all to be friends and some of them to be close friends.
I had Friday off to get ready and get there, and Brad suggested I join their convoy from Birchanger Green services. So I got there ridiculously early and sat and sunbathed and read a book in the sunshine (and had a sneaky KFC for lunch!) while I waited for him, Jim & Karine and Nigel to turn up.
(Can’t find a pic of my car in the car park )
As it happened the traffic was completely horrific so I had longer than planned to read and chill out, but eventually got a call saying they were there and to head off, and they’d catch me up. Knowing they were all in turboed cars, I did.
And spent the next 30 miles driving as slowly as I possibly dared, letting trucks overtake me and desperately looking in my mirrors for signs of MR2s coming over the horizon! Eventually decided to go off at a junction and over the roundabout to delay myself – got back on the sliproad and they all shot past me! But I beeped and they’d seen me so I caught up, and then the drive got fun! (the traffic was stil horrific and there was lots of stopping and starting, but it’s fun driving in convoy with friends. Jim & Karine livened up the journey by dropping back and chucking jelly babies at us – hit my car but not me, sadly, but the thought was there!
We arrived in Peterborough about 4ish I think, although I was so excited to be there I didn’t actually look at the time. The rest of the afternoon passed in a blur of chatting and hugging and catching up with people, it was so lovely to see old friends, and be introduced to new ones! It was also fantastic to finally meet the people behind the usernames I’d been chatting to for so long J
Michelle and Ian’s place is beautiful, with space for us all and beautifully put together both inside and out. The pool was warm, the hot tub was warmer and they had two BBQs and several fridges for all our drinks J and a BAR!
Friday night was spent munching takeaway, deciding on treasure hunt partners (for anyone curious, this is the closest we got to keys in a bowl, lol – just names in a hat for who drove and who navigated the next morning!) and then drinking, dancing, swimming (Anna and I got in the pool at stupid o clock) and talking. I even braved the hot tub. I drank far too much, to the point where I flashed my floozies (only a little bit!) for Rob and Russ (and Luke – who I then spent ages trying to convince I was normal. I hope I succeeded!) and had an unexpectedly fabulous time – much better than every time I go out clubbing and try hard to have fun. I think I eventually went to bed about 2am, and did that really annoying thing where you try to be quiet and make more noise than you would have done normally. Oops.
Saturday morning was a convoy of all of us, which definitely ranks among the most exhilarating experiences of my life – was such a kick to see so many roadsters and other toyotas all together, revel in the looks we got and know that every car contained a friend of mine J (yeah, I’m a sappy idiot, lol).
My Poppy is the car on the very far end 🙂
Then the treasure hunt was on, and we all met back at the house for a photoshoot and lunch. Look at the pretty cars…
(this pic courtesy of Luke Abbott – I failed to get a decent pic of all the cars together)
Took the opportunity to get a new profile pic too..
Saturday afternoon was really chilled, involving chatting, playing pool, reading magazines and in my case napping *blush*. I came back outside blinking at about 6ish and asked if I’d missed anything. Someone said ‘yeah, you’ve slept so long Amy Winehouse is dead’. Which obviously I dismissed as the usual bant. Then realised it was true and was actually quite sad!
The chilled vibe continued into the evening, only with added alcohol, and I remember sitting at one point by the pool, lit by candles, laughing at something ridiculous (I believe spiderman pants and a drawing of thongs and mankinis were involved) with some of my favourite people in the world and just being the happiest and most content I can remember for ages.
L-R Me, Rob, Wills
Hou in foreground, Anna and someone headless in background
Then we had dinner, then we drank and danced and talked some more, I dropped my duvet in a puddle, we realised it was actually quite cold and broke out the sleeping bags, and I continued drinking and got sleepier and sleepier. We had some ridiculous but wonderful conversational moments (and ahem, educational too) and I gave up trying to stay awake and went to bed somewhere between three and half three.
L-R – Jim, Luke, Wills, me, Beka, Karine, Brad
Anna and I having a silly moment in the hot tub
L-R Brad, Luke, Jim
L-R Jim, Brad, me, Beka
Sunday morning… was mostly full of people ambling around sleepily, talking about the weekend and their plans for getting home. We had an amazing full English breakfast, then people started to wander off. Which made me really sad, actually.
So we said our goodbyes and promised to get on facebook/keep in touch/do this again really soon, and then Anna and I went and spent the afternoon sat in a pub garden talking about how lovely it had been.
Returned home, helped my housemate pack some of her stuff, and then settled down to the flurry of photos, new friends, messages and comments on facebook. Turns out that this year, it’s not just me that’s soppily nostalgic about the weekend and would much rather it hadn’t ended. Everyone’s struggled to get back to reality this week. And I’d like to think that we’ll all stay friends for a very long time, having experienced it together. There’s not many groups of people I could have an entire weekend with without getting seriously cross with some of them at some stage. And I’ve never in my life met so many new friends at once!
Best. Meet. Ever.
And I really hope we do another big one before next CAE – I can’t wait a whole year to see these guys again!
*apologies to anyone reading this who went, my words and photos don’t do justice to how awesome it was.
**apologies to anyone reading this who didn’t go, who is probably bored senseless. But really – if you do one thing this year, buy a Toyota and join us next year!
So yesterday was super-stressful and today I just had loads to do… and then this evening after dinner I put my outdoor wheels onmy skates, put the roof down on the car, drove up to the train station and skated with headphones in for half an hour. Then sat in my car looking up at the sky and the gorgeous colours the dusk was making, and I felt the happiest and most content I have in several weeks 🙂
It really is the little things in life that make me happiest, I think.
(idiot me didn’t take a camera so will do my best to recreate the scene tomorrow evening when I get in from work…)