Is it summer yet?

 

Or did I miss it?

As you know, this is the time of year that I usually disappear to cooler climes. But I already live in cooler climes… although you’ve be forgiven for thinking that we’re somewhere near the equator today!

Plus disappearing off anywhere at the moment is a definite no-no. We were out earlier, giving the car its weekly run-out. Great excitement – we even had to fill up with petrol!

I need to get out more…

…says pretty much everyone at the moment.

Only we can’t.

Not everyone, everywhere, at any rate.

But if we can, we can, and if we can’t, we shouldn’t, so we don’t.

Huh?

Anyway!

And while we were queueing up to pay in one shop (because what else is anyone doing at the moment?), the cashier had to call “next please” a few times, and with increasing volume before the lady in front of us realised it was her turn to approach the till (with great caution, naturally).

Her response?

“Sorry! I was miles away.”

And I had to fight so hard to stop myself from replying “That’s probably the only traveling you’ll be doing for the next couple of months…”

You see, things are different here.

I know that in England, things are starting to relax a bit and humanity is starting to creep back outdoors and spread across the map again, with human-friendly places starting to re-open and folks starting to be able to congregate in a socially responsible manner but it’s different here. No creeping. No spreading. And definitely, definitely no congregating, no matter the levels of responsibility being shown.

So this year is going to be different.

Well, that’s an understatement, isn’t it?

This year, I’m staying put. But still disappearing, if only in the metaphysical sense. Because this year, I think that the world I’ll be running away from will probably end up on my doorstep.

Hello, over-excitable tourists. Hello, free-range grocklewuffs.

It should be a good summer. Should.

Stay safe. Be kind. Have fun.

I’ll probably speak to you again before I go off-grid. It’ll no doubt take me that long to find the grid.

Getting lost again

Remember that time when I got lost trying to find a newly opened shop?

Well, it happened again.

The getting lost bit, I mean.

And this time, I have nothing to blame but my own vampiric little self.

Vampires get easily distracted. You do know that, don’t you?

ADHD/OCD are as much a part of us as capes and widow’s peaks aren’t.

Suffering as I was from a bit of post-Christmas cabin fever, I decided on a little jolly to a town that’s only five minutes away by train. Let’s just call the place Llanbobl, shall we? Yes, vampires do feel the need to get out and about occasionally. Weird, eh?

I suppose it was different in the old days when you had acres of dilapidated castle to wander around. Or a village where you could move around freely at night because the villagers would have been fearfully tucked up (ooh, careful how you say that bit!) in their beds by then. Ah, the peace and quiet…

The last place I lived, it was more a case of police and riot.

I’m joking, of course – but only about the dilapidated castle and petrified locals. Those things aren’t real.

Well, they are, but in a different context.

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These days, anything dilapidated will either be razed to the ground (that’s never sounded right to me – how do you raze/raise something downwards?) to make way for offices, a shopping centre or so-called ‘affordable housing’.

And the terrified villagers? We have other things to suck the life out of you these days. Taxes… Online gambling… Reality tv…

But I’m rambling now.

Nothing New There, I hear you say. How well you know me.

Anyway, I’ve had my jolly little jaunt out to Llanbobl and it’s time to go home. I start marching to the station, knowing that I have a good fifteen minutes to wait when I get there. Great. No rush. I’ve got the furbaby a little treat (as I’d promised her), so she’ll be happy to see me whenever. Indeed, once she’s said an enthusiastic hello to me, the next thing she usually does is bury her head in my bag to see what I’ve brought her.
Next, I find an amazing shortcut which saves me another few minutes. Okay, so now I have twenty minutes to kill at the station but I have food, so that’ll keep me busy.

I get there and…

My train is running late. Indeed, the one that comes after it will have to share the same platform (as they come in from different directions). Some stations have even named their platforms ‘A’ and ‘B’ to accommodate this duality.

Yes, what is that with half platforms? In the town where I used to live, there is one platform that’s actually two. I think it might be platform 6/7. So, even though there’s only one train there,  because the doors are all automatic these days, if you get on the wrong side of the train, you then have to go all the way up the stairs, across and down to get onto the same train you would’ve been getting on anyway!

Anyway…

My train comes in. It’s a funky, old-fashioned train for a change and I jump on gratefully. It sets off.

In the opposite direction.

It turns out that my train was so late that the train after it has come in first. I should have checked a bit closer but the display board is doing that thing where it bounces between trains. Plus, my glasses are soaked, so I can’t see properly even if I tried to dry them off.

Trying not to panic, I explain to the guard my little vampire blonde moment and he’s an absolute sweetheart about it. Really helpful. What’s the first station I can jump off at and go back?

His face falls. This is the Heart Of Wales line. It visits all the otherwise inaccessible bits of Central Wales. If I get off anywhere, I could be waiting hours (in the rain) for the next train. The easiest thing, he says, is to stay on the train. He says he’s getting off at Llanwrtyd Wells, crossing the platform and grabbing the next train back. I can follow him. It’s the quickest way.

I’d heard of the town before. How long will it take? I ask.

Three hours.

Three.

Whole.

Hours.

So I’ve caught the wrong train home and am now somewhere in mid Wales, with only 1% on my phone!

What to do?

Luckily, it was actually very pleasant. But it was quite weird. Because I hadn’t brought my usual bag with me, I didn’t have a notebook and pen nor a charging cable for my phone. So I had three hours of doing literally nothing. On the way out, the scenery was lovely. All fields and farms and pretty little villages. On the way back, of course, it was pitch black but it was fun to look into people’s houses ha ha!

If you ever have to get lost in the middle of nowhere, I highly recommend this particular bit of nowhere. Every other station was Llan-something. Actually, scratch that. About every one in four stations wasn’t Llan-something. And there were some very pretty little stations, with some interesting details.

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But Heart of Wales?

Heart?

Wrong organ.

In the nicest possible way, I’d go for small intestine – winding and seems to go on forever. It was roughly a 100 mile round trip at final count!

All that apart, as I said to the lovely guard as we crossed the tracks, it was actually a rather nice day out in the end.

Have you ever been on the train, seen a splendid house and thought ‘what a beautiful house, I’d love to live there’ and then realised ‘hang on, the only way I’m able to see it is courtesy of  a dirty great train line at the bottom of the garden.’ So, no. I’m actually glad I don’t live there.

I was supposed to get home just after 3pm but ended up getting back sometime after 6pm. In fact, the hubster had gotten home, made a fuss of the furbaby and gone out for a run all before I arrived home. The treat I’d bought for the furball had by this time turned into a peace offering. She was nevertheless very pleased to see me.

And will I ever live this down?

Will I heck!


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Say no to the toe

A One of the things I love about autumn (as if there weren’t 1 million things already) is the return of shoes and boots to the general human populace. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, everyone will be putting their grim* feet away.

The thing is, you see, where we live now, September was still summer – just without the tourists and their grocklewuffs. Well, there were still tourists, but they’re mostly the silver surfer types. More interested in finding the nearest tea-room than taking over the beach and letting their feral offspring attempt a kind of sandcastled world domination.

(A partly rhetorical question – are all undisciplined ‘friendly’ free-range mutts called Olly or Milo? Please let me know if you have a well-behaved furbaby by one of these names. I’d genuinely love to know as I’m in danger of developing a neurotic reaction to the names.)

Anyway

October was where glorious autumn started kicking in. And by November, everyone could breathe a sigh of relief.

Footwear.

Back on topic.

The sandals and flip-flops have been put away for another year so we’re spared from the horrific sight of tangled toes and mangled toenails. I’m sorry, but putting sparkly nail varnish once a year on those otherwise totally neglected toe-talons does not make your fungal footsies ‘sandal-ready’.

*This is what I meant by grim, oh thou easily triggered masses. I meant feet that have been neglected and/or thoughtlessly warped and tormented for the sake of ‘fashion’.

The things humans do (or don’t do) to their feet…

I’ve heard of people who had toes amputated so they can fit into a particular brand of ultra-narrow designer shoes. Can you imagine what future anthropologists are going to say when they dig up these poor beggars?

As for me, I have hobbit feet. They are literally half as wide as they are long. And when I say literally, I literally mean literally. I’ve actually measured them. Very small and – as you can imagine by the ratio I’ve just given you – extremely wide. I usually end up having to get shoes two or possibly more sizes larger just to get all my toes in!

Now, I don’t know if that’s a vampire thing or not. All I know is that I suddenly have bouts of footy claustrophobia if there isn’t a good couple of centimetres/an inch of space at the front of my shoe.

I hate to say it, but I’m grateful that my parents made me wear boring, properly-fitted shoes as a child. My feet, though weird, are now actually quite cute (so I’ve been told). No bumps, no lumps, no twisted tootsies doing the foot equivalent of duck-facing. My toes do not photobomb each other. Wearing lace-ups to school was never going to end well. Let’s face it, I was going to get picked on, no matter what shoes I wore.

I remember when slip-on shoes were all the rage. I was finally given the option to go choose my own shoes. I bought them and proudly wore them on the Monday, only to get picked only for wearing ‘slippers’. Moccasins had, apparently gone out of fashion exactly  28 seconds after I bought them. Oh well.

Anyway, I’ll stop ranting and finish with a bit of advice I was once given by someone I worked with. It’s concerning good sleep and good shoes –

“Two things you should never scrimp on – decent shoes and a decent bed because you spend most of your life either on your feet or on your back.”

Well said.

Say no to the toe. Two hoots for the boots.

Happy Autumn!

When I used Google Maps, got lost, and met some nice people along the way

Actually, that’s pretty much the whole story – right there.

You’ve probably heard the saying  “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Well, in this case it was true.

Okay, so it wasn’t a step, it was a crack.

And it wasn’t actually a thousand miles – it just felt like it at the time.

Let me explain.

It all started with having chips for tea. I broke a tooth. Right there and then, I made an emergency appointment for the next day. I’d wanted an excuse to go into town – that wasn’t the one I expected. I get there. It’s over in 10 minutes. It’s a very common thing, apparently.

Being a vampire, I’m a bit paranoid about my teeth. There. I’ve finally admitted it. But another part of the vampire package is the empathy & being able to read people (hence the myth about us being mindreaders). That all leads to stress. And that leads to bruxism (that’s the fancy word for teeth grinding). It happens at night, so I can’t control it. This puts pressure on fillings, which in turn can pop the side of the tooth off. It hurts when it happens, but the pride is the thing most damaged.

I decide to make the most of my enforced trip out. Earlier that morning, I had some time to kill before I left for my emergency appointment. Where else can you successfully waste a few minutes, but on the internet? I had noticed on social media that a new vegan supermarket had opened in the same town (I’m sure I’ve told you how my vampire gastrointestinal tract throws a diva-like hissy fit over animal products). I decide to walk there after my appointment (as long as I’m not off my face again after the anaesthetic). Apparently, it’s only 10 minutes away from where the dentist is. I tried Google maps. He tells me it’s 40 minutes away.

(no anaesthetic was needed in the end)

Oh well, the walk will do me good and I’m sure the shop will be amazing when I get there.

I basically end up halfway back home. I follow the map rigorously. After over three-quarters of an hour walking, I reach an apparent hill. It seems Figs Road leads to Kumquat Hill, at the end of which is my destination. Now there’s a thing – Figs Road is a hill, but Kumquat Hill is actually a Road (how does that work?) Anyway, having gone up the road and along the hill, I find myself somewhere completely deserted.

Luckily, I hear two men at work. I ask them where such and such address is. At first, they weren’t sure but I told them the sort of thing that I was looking for. The younger one said the only one he knew of was this new vegan supermarket that was opening that day, to which I probably got a bit overexcited and exclaimed, “That’s it!” and then we got into a discussion about how much such a place was needed in the area.

I dropped into conversation the fact that a well-known celebrity vegan chef would be there later and a separate conversation ensued between the man and his older colleague as to who this celebrity actually was, and what he’d ‘been in’.

They then gave me the most amazing, clear instructions of how to get to this place which I duly did in about 10 minutes. And guess what? The place was amazing. It had everything imaginable in there. I told them my plight and they were very friendly – even offered to drive me back into town. I declined, determined to discover the correct route between there and the town centre. As long as you’re sure, hope to see you again. After my impulse purchases (I may have gone a little crazy), I decided to head back into town.

And guess what? (again)

The chap talking in the social media post had been correct. It was actually only about 10 minutes from the centre of town. I had indeed walked so far out of the way that I was in danger of being close enough to just walk back home instead of taking the train home. So glad I didn’t.

I went into the shop the following day with the hubster. The nice men I’d talked to the previous day had actually popped in! They’d mentioned bumping into me, and the chap in the shop had remembered me from the day before… Now that’s customer service!

And the moral of the story?

Be careful what you wish for.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Bad days and good days have one thing in common – they’re both only 24 hours long. And sometimes, you have to wait a bit for good to come out of the bad and sometimes, you don’t have to wait long at all.


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Time and tide wait for no vampire

Eight months.

Yikes.

Yeah… sorry.

I know I normally disappear about June or July and pop back up again in September or October.

This year was a bit different. The summer was rubbish, but then you knew that already.

We’ve moved again. Had to. Well, I say ‘again’, but it’s only ‘again’ for me. The hubster is swearing on any and everyone’s life that he’s never ever, ever (with extra ever) going to move again. It was a long and drawn-out process and one which was bereft of wifi.

Modern savagery, right?

How did we survive?!

I don’t know, but the trauma will no doubt last for a while. Just joking. But it was a nuisance.

I’ll just check my bank baI can’t.

No time to go food shopping, I’ll just do it onlidang.

Ooh, I need to email Bob abou- Gahhhhhhh!

#FirstWorldProblems, as they say.

Anyway, we’re here now. And I’m able to talk to you again. I’m really glad about that. I’ve missed you. I’ve missed talking to you.

Okay, at you then.

Blame the jet-speed brain again. That’s how eight months have gone by so fast. Or so slowly. I don’t really know which it is. Another weird thing about being a vampire – our (is there an ‘our‘, or is it just a ‘my‘? I don’t know…) sense of timing varies between brilliant or non-existent.

And when I say ‘varies‘ what I actually mean is – it’s one thing or the other, baby. No in-betweens for this puppy.

(Did I ever mention that my favourite clock runs anticlockwise? It’s so much easier to tell the time by it…)

So either

NASA could set the clocks on the Space Station by us/me.

or

I do everything now in a minute

Mind you, that second one’s more a Welsh thing than a vampire thing.

Historically, it could have been a vampire that named The Hundred Years’ War (116 years). Or The Thousand Days’ War (1130 days). Or The Thirty Days War (304 days)…

But not The Eighty Years’ War – that one actually did last eighty years.

I was walking back home with the hubster today after a little trot into town. I confused him. I often do. I mentioned something about a lady in a Burberry scarf walking on the other side of the street. She looked so smart.

Then about ten foot-dragging minutes later, with much reflection and cogitation on my part, I wondered aloud whether our dog was alright on her own (oh yes! That’s another bit of news – we have a little rescue dog now).

Did I say ten minutes?

Apparently it was less than a few seconds. The hubster was puzzled as to why I was so concerned whether Scarf Lady would need to be let out for a poo.

Yeah…

(((cringe)))

Til next time. Promise not to leave it eight months.

 


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Coldsore salad

Pardon the gross title. Heh heh heh…

Aaand I’m back! Happy autumn, everyone! I’ve been away, in hiding/hibernation/cold storage. I have to do this every year, just in case we have a decent summer here in Britain. It’s yet to happen, but I would hate to get caught out!

So, here I am, with more raves, rants, and seriously random health tips…

And I’m not the only one that’s back. The students have started reappearing in their case-dragging masses. Which means one thing: very, very late loud nights. Now, this really shouldn’t bother me, what with my being a nocturnal animal and all that. Sadly, just like humans, I still have bills, and those bills say that I have to be a diurnal animal (luckily, I love my job!). This means that (like a lot of humans) I have to sleep during the night.

This is made extremely difficult because I’m constantly being distracted by my animal loving side hearing what sounds like a hundred cats being strangled outside. Of course, it isn’t a hundred cats being strangled at all: it’s just a hundred drunken teenagers let off the leash for possibly the first time in their lives.

But you really know when the students are back when you’re in a supermarket and it takes six people to buy one chocolate bar. And then the following conversation ensues at the till:

A: I’ve only got 47p I need 79p. B, can you lend me the rest? I’ll pay you back later.

B: I’ve only got 20p on me but I still owe you £1.50 from last night so if I give you the 20p would that do for now?

C: I tell you what, B owes me £1.70 for that bottle of water, so if I give you the money, she can owe me.

A: Great, thank you!

C: Oh, but I only have a 50 pence coin on me at the moment… I know, if-

Just buy the wretched chocolate!!!

Then, to add to the externally imposed sleep deprivation, there’s the meteorologically based skin problems…

Sunburn: no problem. Eat loads of tomatoes; cover up, aloe vera for the unlucky bits.

And then there’s the real villain: cold sores. Now, I know most people get these during winter, but for me, when I get them, they’re triggered by sunlight. But here’s a little secret that the pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know about: Lysine.

Here comes the science bit…

Our DNA is made up of strands of four chemicals (called base pairs) holding hands: Adenine with Thymine, and Cytosine with Guanine. The only time they let go is when your body’s cells split to make new cells. Viruses like cold sores have their own twisty-windy thing called RNA, which is basically a cheap knock-off, using the pairs Adenine/Uracil and Guanine/Cytosine. Viruses con your body into replicating them instead of your own cells. So when your DNA unzips itself, ready to get all jiggy and replicatey, the viral string of RNA slips up in there and tricks your cells into making another one of it, rather than another body cell. Rather like when you go to make a cuppa and your lazy toad friend says “Hey, make me one while you’re there!”

So, in steps Lysine. It interrupts the process, acting in much the same way as a vet in the same room as a male dog and a big pair of scissors. Take this and it will stop them in their tracks. Until of course, you catch the next one!

Okay, so I’ve probably just lost any readers who are biologists with my simplifying and Everyday-ifying this. Oh well.

Just…. Trust me on this.

It’s good to be back.

 


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It’ll be fun. Honest.

Ding-dong-merrily-on-huh

And here we are, the first weekend of December. Everyone is getting ready for Christmas. Yes, including me. At least this year, nobody has asked me whether or not I celebrate Christmas. Of course I do! If nobody sees me braving the heaving consumerist hordes, it’s because I finished my Christmas shopping last month. Six months either side of Christmas and this town is crazy.

I did venture into town today though. Needs must. And I got the fright of my life while I was there.

I was walking through the shopping centre and I saw two raggedy groups of creatures at either end of the concourse, shambling mindlessly along. Suddenly a spark of recognition ignites on either side and they begin approaching each other intently, their feet shuffling, hideous mewling noises issuing from their stained mouths.

Others watch in horror as they edge closer and ever closer. The squealing meander seems to go on forever. They begin to raise their arms, reaching out as the others approach. Suddenly, the wailing rises to a high-pitched screeching as heavy-laden arms flail arhythmically and they all lump into one squealing tangle.

As it turned out, it wasn’t the Zombie Apocalypse after all. It was just a group of teenage girls greeting each other. Crisis averted. But it pays to be alert.

And that’s why I don’t go out much.

When I got back home, I seriously needed a drink. No, not wine, or anything like that. I don’t touch the stuff. Trust me, people who know me in real life say it’s probably best that I don’t drink. I’m not quite sure whether that’s an insult, a compliment, or just a very astute observation… So, to coin a phrase, “I never drink… wine.” Then again, I never drink tea or coffee either, but it just wouldn’t have the same punch to it. I bet you’re trying the phrase out in your head right now, aren’t you? And does it work? I’ll bet it doesn’t.

Obviously, actual blood is off the menu, but I do need an adequate substitute in order to restore the old energy quickly (yes, I do eat ‘proper food’, but sometimes an avocado salad just doesn’t hit the spot, know what I mean?)

So what are the choices? There’s that time, isn’t there, when you’re a child and you play dress-up as vampires (although I since found out that most little girls tend to dress up as princesses. Oops). Anyway, you dress up with your best frills and trills and use your mum’s best pillowcase for a cape and all you can find to drink is a certain blackcurrant squash as your ‘blood’ (Except I only ever had it as a holiday treat). And then, when you grow up a bit more, you get more creative and have tomato juice (yeeuch). And then, when you’re an actual adult, you’re allowed to pop Worcestershire sauce and a tot of vodka in (is that correct? Is that how you make a bloody Mary?). I hate tomato juice. *Shudder*. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful stuff, and all that lycopene is very handy for lessening the horrible burning effects of sunlight, but…

Anyway, I do have a delightful little pick-me-up. It’s one of my little secrets that I’ll let you in on. I call it my A+ juice (get it?!). You juice 1 beetroot, 3 or 4 chunks of broccoli, 5 or 6 curly kale leaves, ¼ of a pomegranate, 2 apples, ½ a lemon and a couple of sprigs of mint. It’s ‘bloody’ good, if you’ll pardon the pun/expression! Tastes wonderful and earthy, with a smack in the chops of pure sweetness. Seriously, try it.  Everything is in there for a reason. Look it up and you’ll find out why…. I’m now going to ‘juice up’ to get myself ready for the next phase…. Wrapping presents… Oh joy (to the world).

Happy Googling!

 

 


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