Friday, December 10, 2010

Peanut Butter On Toast

I'm a sucker for life's little pleasures at the minute. On Sunday me and Jakes cooked a Sunday dinner and invited a couple of people around to help us scran it. Unfortunately Dill couldn't make it so we set him aside a plate and sent it up to Belfast with Dr. D.

Sunday's are my new favourite day. I used to find Sunday's very lonely. I once went through a phase of convincing myself that the Sunday papers were a good way of killing an hour or two but my heart was never really in it. Now Sunday's are never lonely and there's always something to do, which is nothing, but relax and read magazines and watch Twin Peaks.

I went to visit Nellybert on my day off which, luckily, coincided with Granny Nelly's babysitting Martha day. I really love going home every couple of weeks and seeing mum and Bert and the dogs. Judy was super pleased to see me and even Bonnie seems to appreciate me more now that I'm gone. I took Martha in to see Pearlie and she entertained her by saying 'duck' a lot and pointing at her neck pillow and saying 'hat'. I had a couple of good cuddles with Freddy cat. He always makes sure that he gets some Hannah loving when I'm there and I'm pretty sure that, if Pearlie would let him, he'd make her his Hannah surrogate. She won't have it though. she hates him.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Snow Girl



Yesterday I was hanging out with this little snowgirl. Mum and I took her out to Granny's where it was a winter wonderland. This is the best snow I've seen in years. I'm not generally a big fan of it but it's hard not to smile when you see your gorgeous niece trying to walk in her snow suit and welly boots. An absolute delight!

I've had a few days off work and it was spent sorting the flat out, music-making and hanging out with my two favourite Martha's. I also spent a night out in Belfast where I ran into a girl I haven't seen for 10 years. This would have been a pleasure if it wasn't for the fact that the only thing I can remember about her is that she once said to me "You know, you would be pretty if you wore makeup". It annoyed me at the time but I'm not the sort of person to hold grudges. This time she mentioned again that I never wore make-up. Though at least this time she said I didn't need to.

I can't believe it's nearly Christmas. This time last year I had no time to even think about, juggling my 2 jobs and getting things sorted for S.America. In fact, all that nearly feels like a dream. This year I'm happy to relax and enjoy the thought of spending a lovely Christmas with all my family. And on that note I shall go, as I have things to do and dinner to make.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ballymena Ladyboy

Ballymena isn't a big place. It's the kind of place where everyone knows everyone to some extent, even if it's just recognising their faces. Sometimes it's a good thing because I like walking down the street and having people to stop and chat to. It can also be a bad thing too because everyone knows everyone's buisness. Luckily I haven't too much to hide or be ashamed of so I don't really mind people knowing my buisness.

I was at the pub last week and as I was leaving the girl's toilets and said hello to a girl I kind of know. Someone was standing outside waiting for her and this person said hello and asked me if I remembered them. I looked at their face and thought they looked vaguely familiar. They then proceeded to tell me that I had met them outside another bar and we'd been chatting and I asked them what their name was. When they said it was John, or Mark, or some other boy's name I asked them why they were pretending to be a boy. All of a sudden I had a flashback of this particular encounter and I did actually ask them why they were pretending to be a boy.

Having been reminded of this I looked at this guy and apologised profusely and then asked him if he was sure he was definitely a boy. To which, he/she replied that yes he definitely was a boy. I felt really bad but still not entirely convinced. And to be fair, there was absolutely nothing about him that suggested he was a girl, other than a fairly unbroken voice and soft, delicate features. Poor lad. I hope he's not too offended.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dill Tries Horlicks

We had a visit from a guy the other night. He's a shy fellow so I won't disclose his real name, I'll call him Dill. Dill's a great guy but he's got his quirks. He doesn't fall asleep to serene music or whale sounds like any normal person would, no, he likes to listen to repetitive white noise, like the sound of an electric drill, or the fuzziness of a T.V.

He was round playing a bit of geetar with Jakers. He's very good and we've told him he'd make an excellent teacher but he's negative about everything. And I mean everything. The only thing that makes Diil truly happy is food. He's a big lad at 6 foot eight and so he needs a lot of grub. He once ate so much at a Chinese all you can eat buffet that he was actually sick.

He was offered a cup of tea and a Curly Wurly at first and then later I wanted Horlicks and we gave him some of that too. He'd never had it before and thought it was maybe some kind of class A drug. We told him it was what old granny's drink before they go to bed. At first he liked it. He felt enveloped in the warm milky, malty goodness. But then he got half way through it and decided it was like drinking baby boke. Yeah, if baby's stomachs were lined with malt, which they're not. Anyway, I didn't let it put me off mine though.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Back To School and Bomb Scares

A couple of nights ago I had a dream that I woke up to a text from my friend saying "I'll meet you at school". I was running around wondering how it could be the first day of term again and feeling totally disorganised because all my school sgirts were either dirty or wrinkled (which is ironic because it never bothered me before going to school in a dirty, wrinkly shirt). Anyway, it took me a while to catch on that it wasn't just the summer holidays since I'd been to school, it was years. I recalled having gone to uni and couldn't figure out why I was going back to school. So I texted my friend back asking her why we were going to school. She replied back that we had to go for ESPN training. There's no such thing as ESPN training, it's a sports channel I'd been watching the Stoke Vs Liverpool match on ESPN some few nights before.

Last night, when I went to sleep, I must have traveled back in time about 40 years because I'd been in work, this morning, no longer than an hour when the manager from the shopping centre came into the shop telling us we had to close up and evacuate as there was a suspected bomb threat across the road in Poundstretcher. After 3 hours of drinking endless cups of coffee in a nearby pub (there wasn't much else we could do) we were allowed to open up again but they'd cordoned off the whole street and sent the Bomb Disposal Unit out. As I was walking towards the pub I bumped into Jakers who said he'd just got into work and was told to go down to Poundstretcher to get a cheap jar of coffee. They lost a sale there.

After the whole hoo-ha we went back to work and thought the rest of the day would fly in. It did but in a very annoying way. Why anyone ever has need of a 30 x 40 inch frame I do not know (apart from having a poster print and wanting it framed, which should be banned). Anyway, Danny asked me to help him frame it and it ended up being a complete disaster. Firstly, it was mounted. This isn't normally a problem but the aperture of the mount was the exact measurement of the print. Normally you'd have a bit of an overlap meaning there's no chance for gaps. We had to line the print up precisely and tape it down a bit. I had hoped the back of the frame would help flatten the print down but this frame's back was ever so slightly too big. Only by millimeteres but it was enough not to flatten the print, which really needed it because of the neat fit of the mount. We ended up with a print that gaped. No good. In the midst of trying out other things to help it the glass broke. Only a tiny bit from one of the corners but enough to completely ruin it. Luckily when I called the customer to explain she took it in good humour and laughed about all the mishaps. I'd have laughed too if it hadn't been such a ball ache. Roll on the weekend.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Busy Bee

I'm so busy these days that when I do sit down and relax I feel truly justified. I've stayed true to my word about embracing the land of T.V. The best thing about Sky is that you can record shows to watch at a later date. I am currently watching endless episodes of QI, Mock the Week, The Middle and Family Guy. Jakers hasn't got to watch as much Sci-Fi or wildlife documentaries as he had hoped but perhaps I'll get bored of T.V.

The reason I'm so busy is a combination of work and play. On Thursday night I met my workmate for drinks. I wasn't home that late but it was late enough for my mate to want me to get a taxi. I live ten minutes away from the pub but she said she didn't want me to get raped. I told her I'd be fine but her parting words to me were "you know that most people who get raped get raped up the bum!" I guess I must have been quite shocked by this revelation so I called Jakers and told him I was on my way home and if I wasn't back in 5 minutes to come looking for me.

I had a busy day on Friday as well . I spent the afternoon hanging out with Zoe and Martha. Martha is getting pretty used to me now and she makes it known that I am part of her clan. Very sweet. I then went round to a friend's house where we talked non-stop for 3 hours. This guy's hasn't been well for a long time but he's still an absolute ray of sunshine. When I was living at home I only saw this guy the very odd weekend. It's so nice to be within walking distance of calling in on him. We also had a few dudes round in the evening for music night. Though it was more like sitting around talking night than music night.

Then it was Saturday and work was super busy (but in a nice way, not a head-frying stressful way) and I went out with friends even though I felt I could sleep a marathon. I ended up having a lovely wee night and staying up late so when Sunday came round it was pure bliss waking up late and doing absolutely nothing. This is the life I've been longing for for quite some time now. I just wish that all the people I love and care about could feel as content as I do now. At the same time, I know how life is, swings and roundabouts. I'm just going to enjoy this feeling while it lasts.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Domestic Bliss

I'm back online and all broadbanded up. I've been living in the town with Jakers for just over a week and we have a little haven of media and entertainment and scented candles. We take it in turns to make dinner and I make us both a packed lunch every day for work. Right now it's domestic bliss though Jakers reckons I'll be bored by next week and he'll be cooking all the dinners and there'll be no sandwiches for lunch.

We also have the loan of a Wii for a wee while. I'd never played one before but am totally relishing in the delight of beating Jakers at bowling and boxing. Beginner's luck no doubt but i may as well enjoy the feeling while it lasts.

I like the handiness of everything. Getting home from work without buses, popping down to the shops on a Sunday. I have also purchased myself a hot water bottle complete with fluffy cover. The cover is so soft I can almost pretend that it's a warm fluffy kitten. A picture of Nellybert's pup Judy hangs proudly on the living room wall but I'm not sure Jakers will allow me to plaster the whole place in animal pictures. He probaby thinks it's girly enough with all the scented candles though he has been known to walk past the Yankee Candle shop informing his men friends that when it comes to scented candles it has to be Yankee.

Well, anyway, I'd love to blog all night but I'd get tired and folk would get bored. I think I'll just light a scented candle, light a little smoke and chillax for the rest of the evening.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Introuducing....




This handsome guy shares the same name as my boyfriend. My Jakers is way cuter though. I figured that I'd be mentioning him a lot more when I move in with him and referring to him as 'my boyfriend' would get pretty boring.

This day next week but will be my last night at Nellybert's. And then I will be a Townie. It looks like Tuesday night is going to be Music Night. Jakers has already got me a form for volunteering where he works and Tai Chi classes are held in Ahoghill on a Thursday night. There's nothing to ail me calling in on Zoe for half an hour after work the odd day. I used to live round the corner from Zoe and saw her maybe once a month. Shocking! But that was before she had baby Martha and I'm an auntie who's greedy for the baby cuddles.

The only real worry now is work and money and sure I'm too happy to be bothered worrying about that until I have to.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Embrace The T.V.

When I move in with my boyfriend we'll have broadband installed. It's like a legal requirement. And because there are so many good internet and tv packages we've decided to get Sky as well. It's been years since I've been interested in watching tv. I grew used to not having it through traveling and when you don't have it you don't miss it or need. it.

But, I have to say, I'm quite looking forward to becoming a bit of telly addict for now. I've spent so many years in my own head with no real outlet for escapism (except escape games and I'm starting to get bored with the formula) and so I don't even feel guilty about the fact that I'm gonna watch a lot of tv. In fact, I think it will be positively good for me. As long as that's not all I'm doing.

Anyway, I'm not moving in for another week or so but I'm already thinking about the tv shows I want to watch. I'm well into Meercat Manor. It's pretty heavy viewing sometimes as Meercats, despite being adorable, can be pretty brutal to each other. It's just their survival instinct but they're a lot more complex than you'd give them credit for. I also plan to get back into Neighbours. It's been s few years since I used to watch back to back episodes on the internet. And when I'd run out of the current series I started watching really old episodes of it. It will take me a while to get used to the characters but I believe Toadie's still in it and I'm hoping Dr. Karl and Susan are still kicking about. I also plan to watch a lot of comedy, new and old. I truly believe that a daily dose of laughter will have me in a state of euphoria. Of course, I'm pinning all my hopes and dreams on an evil, mind-numbing box, which isn't such a good thing, but it's gotta be better than a smack habit.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

B12 In The Bum

I was gonna post about being sick but it's not particularly enjoyable to write or read about so I won't bother. Except to say that my energy levels are at an all time low and I would probably benefit from a big dose of vitamin B12 in the bum. This is not a euphemism. Apparently vitamin B12 is all the rage amongst the celebs. I'm not sure that they need the injection in the bum but most of them are so skinny that they probably do.

The time has come for me to finally grow up and flee the nest. I'll be moving in with my boyfriend at the end of the month. It's the natural progression really considering we've been together for 2 and half years. Normally I stay with him at the weekends and a day during the week. This means carting my stuff to and fro in bags and I have done enough living out of rucksacks. It'll be nice to have just one permanent base. Also, I'll be living in the town which means I can put a lot of what I want to do into practice. No excuses now for not going swimming once a week. When I was 17 I asked my dad for some money to buy a swimming costume with the intention of swimming on a regular basis. It's now 11 years later and I still have the same swimsuit. I've only used it about 10 times.

Today I need to go into town and buy a few bits and pieces for the flat. I think it will take a while before it starts to feel like my own place but then I'm kinda used to that. Getting a few pictures up on the wall will be my number one priority. This shouldn't be a problem though considering where I work.

Monday, October 04, 2010

On The Up

I have no idea what I do with my time but there's never much of it left over for blogging. Then again, there's nothing much to blog about really. I'm hoping that will change soon.

Laughter is something that is greatly missing from my life. I do laugh, just not enough. So if anyone can recommend some good comedies for me to watch that would be great. I caught the tail end of a spoof movie the other night. I have no idea what it was but it was a piss take of when Tom Cruise went on the Oprah Winfrey show proclaiming his love for Katie Holmes. It was hilarious.

Work has been cut down to a 4 day week. Not just me but all the staff. Normally I'd be worried about this but I'm just looking forward to the extra day off. Also, if we meet targets we have the opportunity to earn a bonus, bulking our pay up to a normal 5 day week.

Well, anyway, that is all for now. I just know life is on the up again and when it is I'll enjoy writing more. Just bear with me.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Perfect Life

So I figured it was time I updated. Not that I have much to update. My life took a bit of a downward spiral. It wasn't one thing in particular but lots of things that eventually got on top of me no matter how much I tried to fight it. That was also part of the problem, trying to fight it when I had absolutely nothing left to fight with. Anyway, giving up is not an option. The only option is to deal with things accordingly.

So I've been thinking about what would be the perfect life for me. I don't mean a fairy tale life I mean real life. Firstly, I wouldn't live so far away from my boyfriend and friends. Though the countryside is beautiful and peaceful I can't help but feel isolated. I am a person who needs a lot of stimulation. The internet can only provide so much.

When I do eventually move into the town I plan to occupy my evenings much more constructively. For years I have had a yearning to learn T'ai Chi. I could start classes now but the travel back and forth between Ballymena and home would be tiresome and expensive. I'd also like to do some voluntary evening work to help me in my plight to become a social worker. Again, the travel holds me back.

Another thing missing from my life right now is making music with people. Playing geetar on my own is only fun to a certain degree. I miss jamming sessions. I miss the banter and craic. Living so far away is a bit of a deterrent for friends who do like to play.

Of course, if I could drive none of this would be a problem. But I can't. And though I plan to start it will be a long time before I have complete independence.

So, really, I'm not asking for much in life. Just a little patience 'til it all fits into place, which at times has felt like it never will. I have been unsure about the security of my job and though it's worked out well for me so far I don't like to count my eggs before they hatch.

So there we go. I am very much hoping that some day I'll have something funny to write about again. They do say that laughter is the best medicine.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Even Pearlie Likes Her



I guess it's about time I introduced the latest addition to the Nellybert clan. Her name is Judy and though she looks really cross in this picture she's really very cute. She's a bolshy one though. It took her no time to settle down and she has yet to learn the pecking order. Every human, cat and dog in the house is her plaything. The humans are dealing with the toilet training but I think Bonnie Dog will take it upon herself to teach the pup some manners.

She is very, very sweet. She lies on my lap and has a snooze every morning before work. She makes puppy groans when she stretches. She runs after Bonnie hanging off her tail, which Bonnie detests but it's funny all the same. And then there's the fact that she's gorgeous. She's chocolate brown with a white neck and paws and lovely blue eyes. And even Pearlie likes her so she must be good.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Meditating Buddha


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Originally uploaded by hootchinhannah
They have a lake in Retiro Park, Madrid where you can hire out rowboats. After a hectic few days a relaxing boat trip was just what we needed. We spotted a girl on dry land looking serene and calm. Just after I took this snap of her we saw another girl approaching from behind, creeping up on her. We watched in suspense waiting for the friend to pounce and make the girl jump. The moment came and we laughed as we secretly shared their joke. Then the waiting girl stood up to greet her (girl)friend and they indulged in a passionate kiss! Good on them says I. It's one of the things I love about photography though. If I hadn't explained the story behind this picture no one would have guessed that the meditating Buddha was waiting on her lesbian lover.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Dr. D, Mr. J And The Tale Of The Curs-ED Lighter



Mr J has somehow managed to be in possession of the infamous curs-ED lighter. In an attempt to get rid of it he offers his good frrind Dr. D a choice between the lighter and the beautiful blood stained geetar.

Haha The Curse Is On You Now Dr. D



Little does Dr. D know that by accepting the curs-ED lighter he has now fallen victim to an evil, wicked curse.

Mr J Plays The Blood Stained Geetar



Once Dr. D realises his fate he tries his hardest to give back the curs-ED lighter to Mr. J who tells him to piss off and gets back to his rendition of She's Electric by Oasis

Eat It



Dr. D is so desperate to get rid of the curs-ED lighter that he tries to force feed it to Mr. J.

Crucify Me



Dr. D has no choice but to accept his fate.

Awwww




The two friends share a tender moment before Dr. D falls into the clutches of evil.

The Madness Begins



It's too late for Dr. D now the evil has taken hold. He still finds time though to hang out with Jesus and see if he can light his cigarette with the fire in his eyes.

Cross Dressing Demon



Dr. D's soul has now been taken over by a cross dressing demon. Mr. J is sad to have lost a friend in Dr. D but he feels he's gained a new, more interesting friend in the cross dressing demon. A happy ending after all.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Holly Cat and Freddy Cat



Holly has a prime spot in the laundry basket. Freddy wants it.

Freddy The Green Eyed Monster



Freddy sniffs the laundry, an evil glint in his eye. Holly cat is getting nervous.

Evil Freddy



Freddy launches himself, Holly cat flees. The basket is Freddy;s.

Evil Evil Freddy



He sits on top of the basket like he's king of the castle.

Hmmm...Clean Clothes



Freddy starts to make himself comfortable.

Poor Holly Cat



Holly, raging, looks out the window. It's wet and miserable outside.

Time For A Nap



Bullying is tiring work, Freddy cat lays down for a snooze.

One Measly Towel



Holly contents herself with one solitary towel on the table.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Retail Therapy Works A Treat






I got the therapy I needed in the form of, some much needed, retail therapy. It was long overdue. I got myself a new digi camera. It's been a while since I've had one and I'd forgotten the joys of being trigger happy. Above our some sample pics from my camera. There's one of the Handsome Paddy boy, looking particularly handsome and one of Fish Face Freddy looking like an evil c**t but such a cute one. There's also one of Bert looking worn out from his week of hard work with Ben. Note the poised clarinet. I caught him mid-break. This could also be why he looks worn out. He just can't suss out how to play Fever properly. And then there's one of me. And any camera that can hide my spots and blemishes is a damn fine camera. So I'm happy. Trigger Happy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fly Free Wee Fly

I don't mind admitting that I only shower every other day. Obviously I wash every day but I don't like to wash my hair every day as it's a chore and once you start that caper with your hair it starts to need being washed every day. But the problem is that there are seven days in the week which kinda messes up my weekly regime. I don't know who invented the days of the week (probably them same dicks that invented numbers) but they clearly hadn't anticipated what life would be like in the year 2010 for a young twenty-something woman. So I propose we just do away with a day. Personally I would choose Tuesday, it's always dragged in for me and nobody ever remembers what they did on a Tuesday.

I rescued a fly from a spider's web. I don't really know why. I guess I just felt sorry for it and then I felt sorry for the spider too for setting it's dinner free. I used a stick to catch the web from under the fly's feet and the spider lunged out. Scared the hell outta me but then I felt a sense of happiness when I saw the fly fly free. I wonder if I need therapy?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Wee Bro

After however many years of blogging I decided I needed a new look. I think it sums up my general outlook on life at the minute. On the plus side though, I've inherited a temporary wee brother for a few days. He comes in the form of a Young Banjo. The youngest in fact.

We like him being here. He keeps Bert well at the hard work all day long. He came in and ate a hearty dinner and gave full compliments to the chef (Nelly) and told her she's a brilliant cook. He's out in the kitchen now, dutifully cutting up rhubarb for a crumble and because he's near the kettle he asked Nelly if she wanted a cup of tea or coffee. He apologised for talking over mum and I and he's only eleven years old. He is, without a doubt, an absolute wee star.

It's a shame we can't keep him.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Worried Chick Blues

Life is tough at the minute. I don't say that in a 'woe is me' kinda way but certain stresses and strains take their toll and eventually you end up cracking over the most inappropriate thing.

I'm worried. Worried about my Granny and even more worried about the fact that I don't see her as often as I'd like to. I ask every day how she is and I'm told that she's good, or ok, or not too bad. But the last 2 times I've seen her recently and she has not seemed to be ok. The last time she was dizzy and weak and had to lie down. The time before that she was emotionally preoccupied.

I'm also worried for my mum, who probably doesn't think I am but isn't it funny how worry can manifest itself? I'm worried because I know how much emotional and physical pressure she's under and I worry that my low mood and depression adds to that. So I try to keep it together but all that worry still niggles away.

I worry that this period of full time work will end in a matter of weeks and I'll be no closer to living independently like a 28 year old adult should be. I worry that I will never be financially stable enough to start my own family.

I worry that my relationship will suffer because I can't shake these blues and I feel guilty for not being that carefree fun-lovin' woman that I used to be for my guy. He by no means makes me feel this way and is nothing but a sweet, strong rock for me (kinda like yellow man but he's not yellow) and I'm pretty sure that if it wasn't for him I'd have fallen to pieces by now.

I can feel a wee song coming on here..... :(

Monday, June 28, 2010

La Senza Here I Come

When your boyfriend suggests that you should get some new bras I guess it's time to get some new bras. I guess he's sick of seeing the same old ones. It is true though, I do need some new bras. And jeans, jumpers, t.shirts etc. I haven't indulged in any new clothes since way before South America. Except for the dress I got for Katkins' wedding. And it's not exactly practical. I'd look well sitting in my local bar's smoking area (which is basically a cage) getting roaster burns in my pretty summer dress.

I'm hopefully gonna get a few week's full time work so bras are top of the list. A digital camera is second on the list. Once I have these in place my life will be complete. Ha!

Hmmmmmmmmm......not a lot else to say really. I just deleted a whole paragraph there about mexican travel sickness tablets. Damn my self-censorship, it's so boring.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Luck On The Dreen Road

There's a rabbit's foot lying up the Dreen road. I don't know where the rest of the rabbit is, probably in some critter's belly, but I know that rabbit feet are sold as good luck charms. I was thinking of picking it up and putting it in my pocket for a bit of the oul' gud luck.

I need some darkroom practice. That's the hard part of my job. Doing things in the darkroom. My boss was showing me how to change the paper when it runs out. He showed me first in the light so I'd know what I was doing. I understood perfectly. But it's a whole different ball game when you can't see what you're doing. It's also quite disconcerting that when you're in there, you can't open the door until you've finished what you're doing, otherwise you expose the paper or film to light, thus ruining it.

The Lovely Mel is home before she jets off to Ozland for goodness knows how long. I am only a little but jealous of her. I am more happy and excited for her as she has been dreaming of adventures for a while now. We'll be having a little shindig for her tomorrow night and it's only now, while writing this, that I realise how much I'm going to miss her. Even though she hasn't lived in Ballymena for years she was always home every couple of months. We'll miss her little visits and the rays of sunshine that she brings. But she's too good to be confined to Britain and she must go shine her rays on other people in other places.

Whilst on the subject of rays of sunshine and to conclude this disjointed blog post, the best bit of being back at work is, for sure, the fact that the shop is on route to Zoe's house form the town centre. This means that any time Zoe and baby Martha are up the toon, they walk past my shop and call in. I get to see my darling little niece's beautiful smiles so much more. And I get paid for it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Back

I'm back from Madrid, back from Katkins' wedding and back to work (only part time but it's better than nothing). Madrid was fantastic. Cocktails and Tapas are the way forward. My boy says: Mojito's? Yes please, Powdered whiskey? No thanks. Also, no thanks to rancid burgers but yes please to buying fresh bread and cheese and having a picnic in the Botanic Gardens. We walked a lot, laughed a lot, talked a lot, made some friends and on the last day we took a row boat out on the lake in the park. We went to the zoo, Real Madrid stadium and a couple of museums. We found the BEST sweetshop and delicious ice cream. We went clubbing with 2 guys who worked at our favourite bar. We climbed a million steps everyday to get to our hostel on the 6th floor, a hostel that was owned by the lead singer from ZZ Top.

So then it was time to leave Madrid and head to Norfolk for the lovely Katkins wedding. We stayed in cottages in the most beautiful English countryside. We took walks to the nearest village and ate delicious toffee tiffin at Tilly's. I nearly cried as my big sis walked down the aisle with my dad giving her away. I'm not really a romantic person but I think I was just so happy for her. I also cried during the speeches as mum read out a letter from my dear sweet granny who couldn't make it on the day.

So now it's back to butts. I didn't get the job I had the interview for but I'm back at my old job part time. I was asked if I wanted a few hours and although I'd rather have full time hours I think even working a bit will be good for my head. I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom. Especially when I'm not a mom. And on that note I think I should go see what I can rustle up for dinner.

Monday, May 31, 2010

She Loved Us All

On Friday we laid my Great Aunt Mary to rest. She was my grandfather's sister but she was also my Godmother. And as we said good bye to her on Friday a very silly and naive childhood memory came flooding back to me. I recall being slightly jealous of how good she was to my 2 sisters. Of course, she was just as good to me, more than good, but she was my Godmother not theirs! Of course, now that I am an adult I understand that things don't work that way. I never expressed my annoyance but I realise now that the reason she never treated me any differently to my sisters was because she was a good, kind woman with a heart of gold. And on the one hand I felt jealous but on the other hand I felt lucky that I had such a kind, caring Godmother. She loved us all and we were always in her thoughts.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dog Treats and Dresses

Well, it's been pretty quiet here in Hannah Land for a while. I say quiet but this isn't true. There's always a lot going on behind the scenes but nothing that's really bloggable.

I had a job interview today. I think it went reasonably well but I'm never one to set myself up for a fall. The fact is that there's one post and everyone's looking for work at the minute. It may well just boil down to someone having more experience. But you have to be in it to win as they say.

It's Bert's 50 plus one birthday tomorrow so I called in at the International shop down in Harryville and bought him a jar of pickled nonsense. He got some wine and biscuits too (in my head I'm saying bisk-wits because of that Fox's panda advert).

I also got some treats for the dogs and cats, a crossword puzzle book for Pearlie and some copies of an old photograph for mum. So that's the whole house sorted. I also went and got me a dress for Katy's wedding. I might end up bringing it back tomorrow though as the thought of even trying it on again, let alone wearing it out in public, is making me feel nervous. And cold.

This day next week me and my boy will be going to Madrid. Hooray!!! He's never been on a plane before and is a little scared. I have the perfect cure for that though. It's called whiskey ;) I have a feeling it's going to be a lovely wee trip away.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Finally Some Photos







I thought it was about time I got some pics of my time away. I would list all the different places they are but I'm feeling far too lackadaisical. I have more up on flickr and more to come but that's just a wee taster for now.

So, not a lot else to report really. I still haven't got myself an outfit for Katy's wedding. I still haven't booked accommodation for Madrid. I still don't have a job. I did get a (much needed) haircut. I have also, inadvertently, been training to become a housewife, which is silly really as I plan never to be a housewife. For two simple reasons; I will never have a house and I will never be a wife.

But, anyway, this post isn't about that it's about the photos of my trip away. I wish I'd taken so many more now. I thought I had all the time in the world though. Too much time. But there are quite a few that I'm proud of and it's nice to have some visual aids to remember my trip by.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

World's Largest Jigsaw


There was something I hadn't taken into consideration about the whole pole-dancing thing. Dancing around in skimpy underwear is not ideal for someone who is morbidly feared of the cold and would normally turn up for a day's work wearing, vest, t.shirt, sweater and coat. I naively thought that they'd have good heating in these strip joints but as mum pointed out, how else do they keep the lasses nipples so hard? So, back to the drawing board. Oh, if only I could draw.

I'd like to make the world's largest jigsaw and be part of a team that helps build it. The average jigsaw has 1000 pieces and measures approximately 28 inches by 20 inches. This leaves us with 36 pieces per row and 28 pieces per column. So, based on these calculations a 1,000,000 piece jigsaw would measure....

Ok, I actually tried to work that out with a calculator but I still can't get my head around it. But, basically, it would be a BIG jigsaw. A bigsaw if you like. The picture at the top is the image I've chosen for this jigsaw, mainly because I love cows but also because there's a lot of variation in the oolours which would make a massive jigsaw a bit easier to do. Yes, i have thought about this a little too much. I'm not mad I just have a lot of time on my hands at the minute.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Freddy's Foxy Friend

I'm glad I took a dander down the back lane today. Because if I didn't I wouldn't have seen two animals having a stand off. One was easily identified as Fat Face Freddy. The other animal, I presumed, was also a cat but when it looked up at me and ran off there was no mistaking that bushy tail for the tail of Fantastic Mr. Fox. So what were Freddy and the fox standing around chatting about?

Freddy: Feck off Foxy, I'm more ginger than you are!

Foxy: Are you feck Fat Face. You're more like a strawberry blond. Bet ye dye your hair too. I can see white on your belly.

Freddy: Look Foxy, not only am I more ginger but I am also a black belt in Catrate so you better keep your big foxy mouth shut or I'll hoof ye.

Foxy: Hahahahaha it's KARATE Fat Face and I bet the only belt you wear is a chastity belt. Everyone round these parts knows you have no balls! LOL

Freddy: Don't you LOL at me. I'll set my bear on you. Her name's Bonnie!

Foxy: Ha! Bonnie's not a bear she's a German Shepherd and I know for a fact she's soft as shite. wouldn't hurt a fly.

At which point I show up and Foxy runs away whilst Freddy laughs down his sleeve and then miaows at me like he's such a sweet innocent wee cat.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Drunk on Fudge

Edinburgh is gorgeous. I've seen a fair amount of cities in the past few months and, after Oaxaca, Edinburgh comes in a very close second. Mel and I amused ourselves with riverpath walks and exhibitions. We climbed Scot's Monument, which is an old gothic tower that gives stunning views across the city. It's pretty tough to get all the way to the top as you have to ascend, what feels like, a never ending spiral staircase that becomes so narrow on the top there's barely enough room for one person to squeeze by. So if the height of the tower doesn't make you dizzy the steps up definitely will.

We also indulged in many types of amazing fudge; mint, chocolate caramel, Belgian chocolate, 'special' fudge (unfortunately it wasn't special like I know special but it was damn delicious) and, my favourite, Turkish delight flavour fudge. Needless to say I was in Fudge Heaven. Though by morning time it was more like a fudge hangover. I also had my long awaited Papa John's pizza. Hmmmmm. I hear there's one in Belfast. I wonder if they do free delivery to Cullybackey?

But we didn't just sit around filling our big faces with fudge and pizza (though we did do a lot of that). We also had drinks by the river of Leith and went to the Camera Obscura, which is an exhibition of optical illusions and fun bits of gadgetry to play around with. All in all it was a lovely wee trip across the water and it was just nice to hang with Mel before she goes away to Australia for months on end.

Upon my arrival I was informed by mum that Expedia had been phoning me to inform me of a flight change from Peru to Madrid. Seeing as I'm not in Peru I thought there was little point in phoning them back but the guy on the phone said if I wasn't taking the flight I could get my money back. So I phoned back first thing yesterday morning and this has resulted in me being £300 richer. Today is my birthday so, thanks Expedia, what a lovely birthday present :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Easter Fun and Frolics

It's not that Ive been lazy about blogging I have genuinely had no time to update. I've been much too busy having fun y'see. The infamous Dirt Bird was over for Easter and, naturally, this involved serious amounts of drinking. Though I can't blame it all on her as I was drinking on nights she wasn't out as well. On Sunday night we all vacated Nellybert's for a good old game of "Throw Your Money Out The Window", otherwise known as Poker. I'd have won if he hadn't been for that pesky Bert. And Swisser and Dirt Bird and Danny and Marty. Robbin' bastards I tell ye!

So by Monday I was ready for a quiet night in but DJ Yoda was playing in Belfast and I had somehow managed to let someone make me think it was a good idea to go. It was actually and I had a goood night even though I was secretly hoping that the bus would leave for Belfast without me. I had just enough time to nurse an accumulative hangover on Tuesday, get showered and pack for the jaunt down to Dublin on Wednesday morning with Z and baby M.

We only spent a day and a half in Dublin but it was a lovely opportunity for me to spend time with my gorgeous niece. She now thinks that her auntie Hannah isn't a bad ould spud and she particularly likes the Boingy Song. In Dublin we visited the Dead Animal Exhibition which is a bit freaky if you don't like stuffed animals but really interesting all the same. We did a lot of ther nice stuff too but, for me, one of the most exciting things was enjoying a packet of Willy Wonka's crunchy Nerd Jelly Beans. I know Willy Wonka's a fictional character but I'd still like to marry him.

So then it was back to Ballymena for a ween o' hours before I made my way here, to Edinburgh, to visit my good friend the Lovely Mel. So far Edinburgh has been kind to me by basking me in sunshine and offering me the most delectable fudge but I'll write more about all that when I get home. For now the optical illusion exhibition is calling to us.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Be Cheerful

Max Ehrmann


Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.


Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.



I found a copy of this poem in my wardrobe. I had written it out in a letter for a friend but never got round to posting it. I'm kinda glad I didn't though as I'd have forgotten about it for another 10 years and it's too good a poem to be forgotten. I'm not a particularly religious person but that's why I like the line "Therefore, be at peace with God, Whatever you conceive Him to be". I guess I like it because it's good advice for life in general, especially the last line "Be cheerful, Strive to be happy".

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Boy's Got Bill Payer's Rights

I met the infamous Shovel Hands McKee on Friday night. His hands are huuuge, hence the name Shovel Hands McKee. I'm pretty sure that every time there's an eclipse it's because this guy is waving at his friends. Also, when we were leaving the pub on Friday night my boyfriend, who was a leetle beet drunken, pointed at a policeman and shouted out "Is that a real peeler?" to which I replied "I think the fact that he's wearing a uniform with POLICE written on it would suggest that, yes, he is a real peeler" I'm not sure why he thought there would be fake peelers hanging around on a Friday night but he does get silly notions when he's intoxicated. He was also proudly announcing to me that because he paid for electricity he had Bill Payer's Rights. This meant he was justified in turning the lights on and off repeatedly while I tried to sleep. Oh how I missed that drunken fool!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I Missed My Pub

Well, Ballymena hasn't changed much since I left. But that's how I wanted it to be. Just the same. It was lovely seeing my man for the first time in 7 weeks. I was so nervous about seeing him it felt like a first date, which we never really had before so that was a whole new experience. He had an assortment of malty treats waiting for me which, of course, included a Malteaster Bunny. I went to my local pub on Friday and caught up with a lot of friendly faces. If only I could have taken that pub, and the people in it, to South America! Everyone was glad to see me home safe and sound.

My time this week has been dedicated to building a set of drawers. The task itself was easy enough but it took me a couple of days because of extended breaks for drinking coffee with guests and babysitting Martha Amy. My beautiful niece seems to think I'm an alright person now and doesn't cry immediately after being placed in my arms. She has grown quite a bit since I last seen her and is at the stage where everything has to be looked at, felt and then put in her mouth to see how it tastes. Zoe, Martha and I have a trip to Dublin planned in April. I realised that there's so much of Ireland I want to see let alone the rest of the world.

Pearlie seems suitably pleased to have me back. I don't think I actually gave her time to miss me properly but she is pleased that I'm back all the same. The dogs are glad to have another feeder on hand. Bonnie isn't shy about letting me know that she's hungry. Neither are the cats. Fat Face Freddy spent my first night here lying at the bottom of my bed. He must have known that I'd missed him.

So all in all I'm glad to be home. All of a sudden the days are much shorter. I'm not worrying about what I can do to fill my time. I've got an application form for Student Support up at Queen's. I used to do this job in Stoke and I really loved it so if I could get a wee gig here, even if it's up in Belfast, I'd love it. It's kinda the wrong time of year because student's don't have much need for support worker's in the summer but if I can get my foot in the door for September it would be fine. I could get a temporary job for the summer doing whatever. I'm sure things will all fall into place for me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

After only 7 weeks away I've decided to go home. The truth is I wasn't really enjoying myself. Also, I feel too vulnerable traveling on my own. Men out here are predators. I feel like it's too easy for someone to take advantage of me. I've had a few scary experiences out here and the last one, in Lima, was the final straw. But it's not just that. I found myself continuously disappointed with the places I visited (with the exception of Oaxaca and Banos) and the people I met. I'm glad to be going home to people who know and love me.

I'm glad that I took a chance. I had such a burning desire to come here and I had to get it out of my system. And I have learnt a valuable lesson about myself, I am not cut out for being on my own. I have not been able to make anyone happy out here and therefore I can't be happy. I can't wait to get back to my darling boyfriend, to cuddle my darling cats and dogs, to help mum with the housework. I have also learnt that I do not suit unemployment. A day is too long when you've nothing to do. I need to be busy, I need to be useful, I need to be needed. So I don't regret my premature departure. I don't care that I have wasted a lot of money that I worked hard to get. The only thing that is important now is that I feel safe and happy. Maybe I will come back one day but not on my own. The good experiences I did have were tainted by the fact that I had no one to share them with.

Maybe a lot of people will think that I'm rash in my decision, that I should give it time and things will improve. The fact is rhat these 7 weeks have been the longest of my life. And that is only half the reason why I'm going home. I thought I was brave but I had no idea how uncomfortable I would feel by the men out here. A lone woman is an easy target. I know from the times I did spend with other people the men will largely ignore you. But everytime I was on my own I received unwanted attention. Even men who were meant to be in a position of trust. I woke up in the early hours of the morning to find a guy who worked at the hostel I was staying at had used a key to let himself into my room. If there had been even one other person sharing with me this wouldn't have happened. I was lucky, I told him sternly to leave and thankfully, after a while, he did. But it is scary to think what could have happened.

So for anyone who does feel like I'm making a mistake, believe me, I know myself better than anyone and I know in my heart that that this is the right decision. The more scared and vulnerable I feel out here the more of a target I am. And of course, I was warned about all the scary situations I could possibly face but I was naive and I had to find out for myself. For that, I'm proud of myself. That I never let anybody else's apprehensions put me off what I wanted to do. But I also know when I've had enough, and I've had enough. There's a reason why people say home, sweet home and that's exactly where I'm going.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sometimes Not Even The Sunshine Helps

This experience of travelling S.America is so different to my time in Thailand for several reasons. I guess the most significant is that in Thailand, because I was working, I was settled somewhere. I was also there with one of my best friends and there were several other teachers who became good friends. I had a chance to get to know and become close with some of the local Thai people because I wasn't moving on every few days. I had a support network. I was never too far from people who cared about me and who I could have a drink and share a laugh with.

Now that I'm travelling, and especially because I'm doing it alone, I feel disjointed. In one way it's liberating and in another it's isolating. I've had company but not with real friends, people who really know me. Normally I don't mind sitting in a bar on my own but now, sometimes, I feel like a poor, sad loser with no friends.

Another reason why this time is different is because when I went to Thailand I had just come out of a long, arduous relationship that was bad for my health both physically and emotionally. Thailand was my retreat from that. But this time I have left the person that I love for, what's starting to feel like, an eternity. While I admire us both, me for not letting anything get in the way of living my dream, and my man for giving me the freedom and trust to do what I want to do, it's hard being away from him for so long. It's only been a month and a half but the days are so long now that I'm not working. And even though we live in an age of modern technology I can't help but feel very far away. Mobile phones have not been working in my favour and Skype, though brilliant in theory, has proved to be very frustrating. Technology and I have never really had a harmonious relationship.

Another difference is the fact that I'm nothing more than a tourist, doing pretty much the same thing as every other tourist. Yes, it's an experience that's unique to me but in Thailand I was really immersed in the culture. I was part of their community and treated with respect and admiration. Over here I'm just another white face. Yes, I am welcomed but no, I'm not repsected or that well thought of. I know that in regards to this I should just get over myself but it is purely a symptom of having spent a bit too much time on my own recently, with too much time to think. I always said that the thing I was most worried about was being lonely and I was reassured by many that that wouldn't be the case. Now that it is I can't help but wonder what I'm doing wrong. It's not that I'm turning down opportunites of company or that potential company is shunning me, I just seem to have been moving in the wrong circles over the past week. I haven't seen anyone I could hang out with or, if I have, it's clear that they are part of their own wee niche that doesn't seem very welcoming.

I also know that this is probably a temporary thing and I'm sure that I will fall in with some people eventually but, until then, the days will seem long and dull living in my own head. Surely a dog for companionship would make all the doubt and lonliness disappear?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Taditional Ecuadorian Woman

This is a picture of an Ecuadorian woman in traditional clothing. The reason I'm posting it is because the woman remind me of Pearlie in her heyday. To be fair, This lady's costume is relatively tame. A lot of women wear even more shawls as layers and often wear checked aprons as well. I love the Ecuadorian hats though. i'd like to get one for Bert but as I've still a few months to go the chances of it getting squashed out of shape, or lost, are very high. Maybe I'll order him one from the internet when I get back.

I arrived in Cuenca yesterday evening and all I can say is that the scenery was delicious. Rolling, tumbling hills with little brooks and streams trickling down them. It really was gorgeous. If you have to be on a bus for 7 hours you might as well have something nice to look at. Cuenca is stunning as well. For a city. So I guess rather than sit here on the net i should probably go out and take some photos.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Time For Reflection

It's taken me a while to think about some of the differences between home and Mexico but I've had a few chilled days to myself. So here are some of the things I noticed:

If you're offering someone a cigarette it's considered rude to take the cigarette out of the pack and hand it to them. It's better to let them take the cigarette out of the pack themselves. I'd offered many Mexican people cigarettes by hand before 2 Oaxcan guys told me this so I don't think it's really that big a deal. Interesting though.

Shoe shining is still very much practiced in Mexico. I guess it's because the streets can be very dry and dusty and I think it's also a status thing. The rich buisnessmen couldn't possibly clean their own shoes!

Most Mexican dishes use all the same ingredients (tortillas, meat, cheese and beans) they just present them in a different way and give them different names.

Mexican people are very tactile, even when meeting someone for the first time they will hug you and give you a kiss on the cheek.

It is not uncommon to see older men lying on the street in broad daylight passed out drunk (or possibly dead).

Mexican policemen and government security guard are heavily armed with guns. Big massive guns.

As a general rule, Mexicans are very friendly and helpful. The downside to this, however, is if they don't the answer to something they will tell you anything. Hence me walking around the airport for 2 hours before I located my lost luggage!

Mexican people are always late, not by minutes but by hours. They will often use the traffic as an excuse, which, to be fair, is a valid excuse as the traffic is crazy in the city.

Mexican people are extremely noisy! There's no such thing as going for a 'quiet' drink as the bars are always playing extremely loud music. They also like to hoot and holler a lot, especially on public transport where they're often trying to sell CD's or snacks.

So that's about all I can think of just at the moment but I'm sure there are many more differences, and probably much more interesting ones but this is all my brain's allowing me to remember just at the minute.

I'm In Riobamba now and have treated myself to a private room in a hotel for a couple of nights. After sharing dorm rooms it's such a pleasure to have my own space and a TV. I watched all manner of nonsense last night just because I could. I don't normally watch a lot of TV at home but it is nice having access to it. Tomorrow I'm making my way down to Cuenca. There's supposed to be some good museums down there so I'll while away my time soaking up a little bit of culture!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sugar Overload

Yesterday was lovely. After I'd had a few cups of coffee and checked my emails I set off on a hike up one of the hills that overlooks Baños. It was more or less a Pixie Trail (I LOVE Pixie Trails!) but it was pretty steep. As I was stopping every 10 minutes to take a rest school kids were running up past me, one in his bare feet, but they all said 'Hola'. To be fair, they have youth on their side and I had the heat nd altitude against me. 3 workmen also stopped on their way down for a brief chat and to shake my hand. It's at those times I'm glad I've got even a little bit of Spanish so I can be polite and friendly back to the locals.

I was completely exhausted by the time I made it to the cafe at the top but the spectacular view and cold fruit juice was my reward. The juice was made from local fruit. It didn't specify what kind but it was lovely and refreshing.

I met a guy from San Francisco at the cafe so I had some company for the trek back down again. I was glad to be on my own on the way up though 'cos I like to take things at my own pace, which is generally slower than most people's. It was nice to have company on the way down though.

BaÑos is a great place for people with a sweet tooth. I bought a little box of confectionary that had cubes of a thick fruit jam-like substance and cubes of fudge. Well, I say fudge, it was like fudge but without the condensed milk.The lady also gave me a little free sample of the sugarcane, which is so sickeningly sweet not even I could finish it.

After my hike I indulged in the famous thermal baths that are rich in minerals and heated by the nearby Volcan Tungurahua (which has been spouting mushroom clouds of smoke at an alarming rate this past couple of days). I started off in the medium bath which was lovely and relaxing. Then I had a go in the super hot bath but could only stick it for 10 minutes. Even though the heat was uncomfortable it still felt like it was doing me a lot of good.

Afterwards I had a really healthy dinner of roasted onions, tomatoes and peppers with tortillas and salsa. That's the healthiest meal I've had after so long in Mexico eating cheese and drinking Oaxacan hot chocolate. After my dinner I had a cup of hot passion fruit juice mixed with alcoholic sugar cane. It was pleasant but not the kind of drink most people would enjoy, probably because of the sugar content.

I then went back my hostel feeling well-fed, well-exercised and well-relaxed, content to do a bit of reading before bed but ended up going out for drinks with some people and undoing all the good that I'd done to my body. I woke up this morning feeling horrific. I don't blame the beer or the rum, I blame the alcoholic sugarcane!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Quiet in Quito

So, El Tule. Though it's only about 13 km outside of Oaxaca Danny and I found it hard enough to get to as buses didn´t run and taxis only go to certain areas. We spent a good 45 minutes trying to figure it out and just as we were both about to give up I noticed a taxi that said 'El Tule' on the side. Yaaaay!! So in we jumped with 4 other people (that's how they taxi people around in Mexico, 3 in the back and 2 in the front, not including the driver!).

El Tule is only a small....hamlet I guess, or village, I'm not sure but as I said, the attraction was Old Granpa, an enormous 52 meter wide tree (El Arbol de Santa Maria) said to be the oldest living object in the world. ¨Tis also the largest tree in the world. I was suitably impressed with it's grandeur. To think what this tree has lived through is amazing! I was obviously amazed by all the archelogical ruins that I saw in Mexico but none of them paled in comparison to this mighty tree.

Anyway, the same day that I went to visit El Tule I had another encounter with The Oaxacan Poet. He asked me if I wanted to buy another poem for 4 peso. At first I said no and told him one poem was more special but he told me if he had 4 peso he could buy some lollipops to sell and he offered me his guitar to play while he wrote it. After he'd finished he asked me if I wanted to help him sell the lollies. I had an hour to kill before Danny was out of his lesson so I thought why not? Wewent to huge market and I was pleased to see that even the locals have trouble getting their bearings. Then we went back up to the Zocalo and pounced on as many people we could. My part to play was smiling and waving the lollipops and telling people they were delicious in Spanish. I just knew I wouldn't escape the whole trip without working a little bit!

I arrived in Quito, Ecuador last night. I had a good sleep and all I've managed to do so far is have a cup of coffee and find this internet place. I feel groggy from the sleep disruption (and possibly the altitude isn't helping) so I think I might just take it easy today. Not sure I'll stay too long in Quito as I want to head to Baños soon for some nice relaxing thermal baths. Awww, poor me and the life I live!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lost Cameras and Old Trees

A few nights ago, after Danny and I had been to Monte Alban, we went for a few drinks. We'd been to the cheap mezcal bar first and then headed to the Zocalo for a quiet beer. A few nights ago we were at the same bar at Zocalo. I'd been to the toilet and when I came back one of the bar guys was chatting to Danny. Danny asked me if I'd left my camera there and I said no. The guy was nearly sure it was one of us and looked rather puzzled. It was nice of him to ask and he said it was nice of us to be so honest.

The next day I'd planned to go to El Tule. Looked about the hostel room for my camera. Ah Feck!!! It was my camera!!! It had been missing for 3 days and I hadn't even noticed. What a fecking knob end I am. I went back to the bar and it was the guy's day off. I went back today and he was there and so was my camera and he couldn't believe it had been nearly a week and I'd only just noticed. As he pointed out, what would I have done if he hadn't said about it? I'd have had no idea where I'd lost it or that I'd even lost it. I'm blaming the heat of the sun rather than the strength of the mezcal.

We made it to El Tule today but I'll blog about it tomorrow 'cos the excitement of it all was just too much. The attraction at El Tule is a massive tree (52 metres wide) that is the oldest living and flourishing object in the world. It. Was. Awesome. But I've a soft spot for trees 'cos I'm a bit of an oul' hippie. Anyway, more of that tomorrow and the Oaxacan poet.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Different Kind Of Souvenir

One of the disadvantages of coming to a place like this (by a place like 'this' I mean somewhere that's high up on the tourist radar) is the fact that if you sit around trying to enjoy a relaxing coffee you are hounded by local people trying to sell you little trinkets and souvenirs. Though it's annoying I understand that these people are just trying to make a living. It's one thing saying no to the adults but it breaks my heart saying no to the endless streams of children, some as young as four, who should be playing, or sleeping or doing the things that children should be doing.

As well as this you have the beggars, some of them able-bodied but obviously very, very poor, many of them with severe physical disabilities who live in a culture where there is no infrastructure to provide then with the help and support they need. I can't help but feel like a mean person for constantly saying no but, for one, I have not come out here as a rich tourist, yes I am privelaged to have been able to afford a plane ticket and enough money that I don't have to work, but I also had to earn that privelage by working as many hours as I possibly could. Not only that but I can't buy too much because I'm carrying it all in my rucksack for the next few months. I have been discarding things rather than accumulating them.

I did, however, get an interesting offer from a couple of young musicians. I saw them walk by me at first. They ummed and aahed about whether or not to approach me and then one egged the other on. He said that he sold lollipops and poems but that he had no lollipops to sell. He offered to write me a poem in Sapnish, about whatever topic I chose, and he would translate it in Engliah for me. The part that swung it for me was I could pay however much or little as I wanted. He said he'd do it for 1 peso (about 5p) so I offered him 20 peso (about 1 pound). It was a much more interesting and personal offer than I'd had before. So I asked him to write a poem about a girl travelling alone. It also had to include something about a tree.

There and then he took out his notebook and pen and started to write. It took him about 10 minutes and when he'd finished he read it first in Spanish then translated it (loosely) into English. He'd obviously an idea about what I was looking for as the poem was a bout a girl who rejected the norms of society to to go on adventure to find out who she was. I know it's a bit cheesy but most poetry and it's topics are. I gave him the 20 peso and he gave me my poem. A piece of paper isn't going to weigh me down atall. More importantly, it's individual and unique to me. I have come away with a souvenir that's lightweight and hasn't been mass-produced like the endless streams of jewellery, hammocks and rugs.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

La Isla De Las Muñecas

I've been trying to upload a photo of some of these creepy dolls on the Island Of Dolls but it's not happening for me. I've tried including a link as well but technology out here is very much like everything else, it may do it but it may be tomorrow. So all I can do is advise you to take a look yourself on google images. It will only give you an idea though of how creepy this Island actually is.

So the story is about a man who lost his daughter to the canals. He put up these dolls as a tribute to her. Over the years the dolls have become rotten and decayed and the island has an even more eerie feel to it. It's honestly like something you'd read in a Stephen King novel. Danny had joked when we were that possibly one of the dolls was an actual real baby. There were also a group of men sat round a table drinking whiskey and smokng. We were all offered a drink and we all turned it down. I have a feeling if we'd accepted a drink that would have been the start of our own personal horror movie.

I should have done this story much more justice by reading a few things about it but the computer I'm on has just had a virus alert so I'll try and post this and write more at a later date.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Amazing Oaxaca

Danny and I missed the 4;00 bus to Oaxaca so ended up getting an overnight bus. We arrived at 7 in the morning exhausted with no hostels open to book into and no cafes open to get coffee. It didn't matter though because Oaxaca is so lovely I was just pleased to be here.

We wandered round for a bit then found a cafe and hostel. I only let myself sleep for a few hours as I didn't want to be awake all night so when we got up we did a bit of exploring. We wanted to find a market but instead of picking one of the closer, more touristy markets we found ourselvs at the massive one. I was still tired and wantd some nice fresh mango to much on. Unfortunately the lady doused it with chilli powder and salsa. It wasn't exactly unpleasant but I just wanted the sweet goodness and not some strange sugar chilli mixture.

Anyway, this particular market is so huge that once we entered I had a horrible feeling we were never gonna find our way out again. After we did finally emerge, I'm ashamed to say that I just wanted to go back up to the peaceful, but touristy, Zocalo. I knew I was just too tired to deal with the crazy hustle bustle.

Yesterday we went to Monte Alban, which hosts some ancient ruins of the Zapotecs. This place was stunning although the bus journey up was a little hairy. Actually, the bus journey down was worse. But we survived. Today we're taking it relatively easy but we do plan to hit the markets properly today. Even the massive crazy one. Oh, and we're on a mission to find amazing ice cream and sorbets. My life is just one big chore!!!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Esta No Para Mi

The area I´ve been staying in MC is called the Zona Rosa, meaning the Pink Zone. It is well known in Mexico as being the Gay area and there are many sex shops scattered all over the place.

Me and a friend had been having a few drinks and I suggested we went in to have a look at one of the sex shops. While we were there we both thought it'd be a good idea for my friend to buy his girlfriend a 'special' little present.

There was a woman giving us a bit of a hand (taking various vibrators out of the packaging and making us hold them). She kept asking me questions in Spanish, obviously assuming that me and my friend were a couple and we were shopping for me. I told her "Esta no para mi" (It´s not for me)and let my friend do all the dealing with her.

Once he'd picked out the present he took it to the cash desk to pay for. An older guy came over and his English was obviously pretty good. Just to reinforce that me and my friend were not a couple I said again "Esta no para mi....it's for his girlfriend". The guy was smiling and looking at me like he thought I was blatantly lying and it was for me and I was too embarassed to admit it so I ended up saying to him "I don't need one.....I have already" to which he laughed and looked like he finally believed that we weren´t a couple! It really didn't matter to him whether we were a couple or not but it's just funny the situation's I get myself into trying to prove a point!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Last Few Days In MC

So, only a few days left in the city but I'm so excited about hitting Oaxaca that I'm not sad about leaving. I've had a great time here. I've met so many people here that I haven't had a minute to myself. But it's been a lt of fun. I also booked my flight to Ecuador so I leave for S. America in less than 2 weeks. I had planned to travel through Central America but I don't think it was going to be cost or time effective. My dream was to come to S. America so I feel I've done the right thing in getting there sooner rather than later.

My time here hasn't so much been spent doing a lot of things but meeting a lot of people. There was JF and Jose, a Bulgarian girl, many Canadians, the Texan lawyer, a Norweigian lass and of course, Danny boy, who's coming to Oaxaca with me. I've been to the Zoo twice, climbed a pyramid and had a relaxing boat ride through Mexican canals that led to a La Isla de las Muñecas (Island of the dolls). I won{t write too much about the Island as it is most definitely worth a blog post all of it's own. It really is like something straight from a horror movie though.

I still haven't done this place justice in my writing but I'm hoping I'll have a bit more time when we head down South. My head's also a bit fuzzy at the minute from drinking mezcale last night, which is like my Mexican version of whiskey. Talking of whiskey though, we're going to try and find the Irish bar tonight. Danny met some Mexican guys on the plane journey that he'd like to meet up with as well because they were both very friendly and helpful. Danny's plane was 2 hours late and because I don't have my phone he had no way to let me know. I had to go back to the hostel because it was midnight but obviously I was worried about Danny. He'd explained to one of the guys and he was obviously worried about him too as he went back to the airport to see if Danny was still there. Fortunately another guy who worked at the information desk at the airport had phoned the hostel I was staying at and asked at reception if I was definitely there so Danny knew to get a taxi.

Anyway, I'm going to take Danny to the Centro Historico today because it'd be a shame for him not to see the Zocalo and The Grand Palace. And then we'll probably eat some tacos! I tend to do that most days!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I need Some Sleep

I was very grumpy last night. I've been sharing a dorm room with people that snore. When one person stops another person begins. I knew it wasn´t gonna be a bowl of peaches (I´m not sure where this saying has come from - my ass, probably) sharing dorm rooms but snoring has to be the most annoying, grating noise ever when you´re trying to get to sleep.

So because I couldn´t sleep I was thinking about my life when I get back home. I want a dog so bad but I'm beginning to think I´ll never be in a position to own my own mutt. This depressed me a lot. More than the thought of never having kids. I don´t want to be part of mainstream society anymore. I just want a hut in the forest. I want to pick my fruit for food and eat scrambled eggs all the time. I don´t want to work shitty jobs that supposedly "make the world go round". Whose world? It doesn´t feel like mine.

And I´m also sick of blogging. I´ve written better when I´ve had nothing to write about. I´m here in a totally different part of the world and I should be writing fascinating blog posts but I just can´t get my head together. I´m very tempted just to give up on it altogether. I don´t need to record my experiences. They´ll be safe in my head.

Monday, February 01, 2010

And I Will Always Love You

So Paris is meant to be the City of Romance. Hmmm....more like the city of bad smells. Piss and shit to be precise! I think there´s more romance in Mexico City. Well, romance on one hand, borderline porn on the other.

It´s not uncommon to see couples (both straight and gay) cuddling and kissing each other on the street, on park benches, at the bars. The reason being is that people live with their parents until quite late and, as they are predominantly Catholic, bring the partner home is not acceptable.

But people here are generally more affectionate anyway, with their lovers and their friends. It´s strange for me to hug complete strangers on the first time meeting them but that´s the Irish in me. And when in Rome...

It´s strange but it´s also very heart-warming. When you´re a million miles away from your friends and family it´s nice to have a bit of affection. But it´s the puppy love that I crave. I mean I miss the dogs. There are so many lovely dogs here and I want one!! Or maybe a whole pack.

My main fear before coming here was that I´d be lonely but I really haven´t had a chance to be. Í´d talk to a lampost if it would listen though. And sometimes I find they make the best listeners. But on that note, I have a day planned with A girl from Bulgaria so I shall leave it there for now. Though expect a clicjed post about the Swine Flu very soon.

Oh, if you´re wondering about the title of this post, it´s playing in this internet shop. How apt.And cheesy.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

¿Have I Really Only Been Gone 2 Weeks?

This week I have mostly been.....a Fag Hag. Last night I was at a gay bar called Lipstick. Yep, it´s a strange name for a gay bar. The guys that work at the bar don´t wear shirts and as I was waiting for my drink a Mexican guy said to me "I think you want to make sex with the bar man"! Hmmmm not as much as he did methinks!

Also, when I was at the university with Ike the other day (another gay Mexican - I know many!) he was explaining to me what his teacher was a doctor in. His explanation was: He is doctor of....hmmm....if you want to make big boobies!. A plastic surgeon was obviously the term he was looking for.

So while it has been a very gay week (both in sexual orientation and happiness) I´ve felt like I´ve really got to experience Mexican culture. More so than just eating the food and being here. Jose took me and JF to Coyoacan on Thirsday. The name comes from the Aztec meaning "Place of the Coyote" and it´s wear the house of the artist Frieda is. It´s such a different place compared to the area I´m staying in. Much more traditional, with cobbled streets and quaint wee houses. It was so relaxing compared to the hub of the Zona Rosa.

The evenings have been spent drinking Mezcale and having Mexican people try to teach me to dance Salsa. I knew I was terrible but they were very kind and told me it was good for my first effort. Today I have done very little. I didn´t sleep so good last night because 2 of the guys at my youth hostel are snorers so I´ll be happy to try to get an early night and be sleeping long before they start their god-awful nose racket.

Ah, I know I have so much more to write about but my head´s a bit fuzzy today from the Mezcale and Pina Coladas. There´s an Irish bar not too far from here I want to go to some night because they have Irish food. I don´t miss Irish food I´m just really curious to see what Mexicans class as "Irish food". Somehow I can´t really see an Ulster Fry being on the menu. I´ll let ye´s know.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Making Friends In Mexico

After the zoo yesterday I hooked up with a French-Canadian guy and a Mexican guy for some drinks. It was an interesting experience as we were communicating in 3 different languages. Mostly English though. But it was good because we were all helping each other learn. We also picked another Mexican guy on the street. This is because we were walking down the `Gay Bar` street and the French-Canadian locked eyes with this guy and love blossomed right there and then. Well, kind of.

It was a fun night though and the guy we picked up in the street called me Mexican!! I do so like to fit in with the locals. Although, it seems you can take the girl out of Ireland but you can`t take Ireland out of the girl, as I was shouting for more Tequila and everyone else was looking at me like I was crazy.

One of the things I like about talking to people from different places is the humour that goes along with it. Because our understanding of each other`s languages are pretty basic, jokes become pretty basic. I remember in Thailand when I went to pay for my Internet (which was only ever about 10 baht) and I`d ask how much it was and Ice would say "It is ten.....thousand baht". Last night we teased JFC (the French-Canadian) about eating Elk and he said, in Canada, they eat everything, cat, dog, babies! It`s a really silly thing to laugh about but when you can`t make really witty jokes it`s nice to laugh about something.

Now it`s time for me to get ready for a wee visit to some Botanical Gardens (yes mum, gardens!) The reason for this is I was invited by my friends from last night and it`s yet another opportunity for me to learn more Spanish and see a bit more of the city. Also, the plants at the garden are Homeopathic so it`s a little more interesting than just looking at a bunch of daisies!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Beats Belfast Zoo

Today I went to......the Zoo!!! I took my friend's advice and went early in the morning to avoid the crowds of people (it's free everyday so attracts a lot of visitors) and to make sure the animals weren't all hiding in the shade. I could easily go again though when Danny Boy gets here.

Being there reminded me of the last time I went to the zoo. Not only was it crappy old Belfast zoo but it was also in November and freezing. But, it was a surprise planned by my boy and even though it was wet and cold (Belfast Zoo is located half way up a mountain near enough) we had a lovely time. Especially because it was a surprise. I love animals and I love surprises.

Today it was the monkey's and the racoons that won my heart (only 'cos there were no meercats). But, I haven't been to many zoo's, it always breaks my heart to see a gorilla in captivity. I know I should feel the same way about all the animals but gorilla's always have such an air of sadness about them.

Yesterday I went to Parque Mexico. It's a quaint little place where dog-walkers and skateboarders hang out. I was a little hasty in saying all city's are the same. For one, Mexico is not a fast paced city. It's just too hot during the day for people to move fast. I love warm countries because I love street vendors. You can see what's on offer without going into the shop and feeling like you have to buy something. And I love the smell of all the fruit juice venodors on the street. Hmmm all that lovely fresh fruit. I'm away for a fruit shake. And then some beers.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Taking Things Easy

I still haven´t been to the zoo yet but yesterday was Sunday, the busiest day to go (so not much chance of actually seeing the animals) and today is Monday, where most things are closed. The shops and restaurants are all open but musuems and banks are closed. So tomorrow I'll get up bright and early and spend a nice day at the zoo and the park.

I really haven't been doing a whole lot but it's what I needed after the madness of Christmas and getting ready for my travels. I don't really feel like I should be doing anything. It's just nice to finally be here.

As far as cultural differences go, it's kinda hard to write about. I have always felt that city's are much the same all over the world. Mexico city obviously has it's differences but you are still never too far away from a Starbucks or McDonalds. It's certainly a different experience to when I went to Thailand. For a start, I was in a small city in Thailand that, despite the monkey's, didn't see a whole lot of tourists. So, when the locals saw a white face they would stare and shout 'Hello' and giggle with their friends. Obviously they´re much more used to tourists here and so I am ignored for the most part. Which suits me just fine. It's nice to be anonymous. You don't get that in a small town like Ballymena.

I am looking forward to making my way down south. I have plans to go to Oaxaca and San Cristobal De Las Casas before I cross the border to Guatemala. I would like to make a little beach trip though but I haven't decided where yet. Ah, that's the best part, having no real plans to stick to. It's always how I imagined travelling to be. Just ambling along and seing what happens. The reason I'm staying so long in Mexico City is 'cos I'm waiting for Danny Boy to get here and because I have some friends here.

Anyway, today I may go to Parque Mexico, which although is nowhere near as big as the park that houses the Zoo and museums, it is meant to be the nicest park in Mexico. I have always loved parks and just hanging out there to read will be pleasure enough for me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Miss My Boy!

I hate that! I was nearly just at the end of finishing a post and it got wiped. I don't really have the heart to sit and write it all again so I'll do it tomorrow. But what I will say is, even though I'm having a lovely time, I miss my boyfriend badly. It's not even been that long but I think it's more the fact that it will be a long time before I see him again. When I do finally see him though it will be in Madrid. The poor thing's never had a holiday abroad before and I fly from Peru to Madrid before flying to London. I thought it would be nice if I could meet him in a totally different city, where the sun will be shining and I should, hopefully, be half fluent in Spanish. Ah.....

Oh, because I've stopped over-indulging in a certain substance (I'll let your overactive imaginations guess what that substance might be) my dreams have returned and they are crraaazzzy. The first mad one I was doing a celebrity bush tucker trial and had to eat cut up chunks of human brain! I can alsmost sort of remember the taste now, kind of chemically. The other one I dreamt that my friend here fell out with me 'cos they were robbed and blamed me. I was going to have to leave Mexico because of it. And last night I dreamt that my friend from home was trying to get out of going to work by eating a worm. She said she could feel it wriggling inside her. So...yeh,Freud would have a field day I'm sure.

So tomorrow I'll try to re-write that blog post and finally get round to writing about my short time in NYC. Unitl then, buenos tardes mis amigos.

The First Proper Post From Abroad

So, the whole rucksack facade has been resolved, thankfully. It was a mission though. One of them situations where if I spoke the language it would have been sorted out pretty quickly but the language barrier just made everything 100 times more difficult.

But now it's sorted I've had a chance to actually start enjoying myself and seeing a bit of Mexico City. I went out for dinner with Chris, Melodie and Sarah on Thursday night and then we drank wine and played Uka at their apartment. The wine was delicious and Uka was very difficult. It's a card game with about 1 million rules. When they were explaining it to me they kept saying "oh, and just one more thing".

Today I went to the Zocalo. This is the famous square in Mexico city. One of the biggest in the world. Unfortunately they're doing a bit of refurbishment at the minute but the Catherdral was absolutley stunning.

Actually, maybe I should write a little about my time in New York. Well, the first day there it rained and because I was trying to do everything on the cheap it kind of limited me a little. The first thing I did do though was go and visit the St. Patrick's Cathedral. Good Catholic girl that I am.

My second day there was much better though. It was cold but the sun was shining so I walked to Central Park. If I ever go back to NY (which I kinda doubt) it'll be in the summer and I'd go with someone else. Having said that I ended up having a surprisingly pleasant night when I went to an Irish bar. One of the guy's who worked there was Irish and he was playing pool with his New Yorker friends. They asked me if I wanted to play so I spent the night hanging out with them drinking whiskey. One of them asked me why I chose that particular bar and I said I was outside and a guy came out for a smoke, so I asked him did they sell Jameson`s and he said yes. That was me sold. They found this hilarious though I'm not quite sure why.

It was a lovely night though and everyone wished me well on travels, told me to be careful, etc. etc. but they were all reaññy genuine, lovley people. That's one thing I'll give NY credit for. For a big city, people are really friendly and helpful.

So, now I'm in Mexico City and there's so much to do here and I'm in no particular rush. It's fantastic. Just ambling about at my own pace, soaking up the sun and culture. I'm staying in the Zona Rosa (Pink Zone) which is kinda like the red light district so there are many gay and lesbian bars and sex shops. And as such, there are more clothes shops for men than there are for women. I noticed this when I thought I would have to buy a whole new wardrobe.

Right, anyway, I guess I won't have anything to blog about if I don't get off my ass and go do something. Walking any distance here is tough though, not just because of the heat but because of the high altitude. Though the bonus of high altitude is that you get drunker quicker. (Un)fortunately for me, I'm Irish and probably would need to be at least 5 km above sea level for this to have any real affect. I'm hardcore me.