Thursday, 29 October 2009

Shoe special

Regular readers already know that I love shoes. It is possible for me to spend £500 on a pair of shoes and actually think it's good value for money - although let me reassure you that these shopping outings occur rarely. Especially now, when I have so many things to buy for Junior. Like high chairs. And Gro bags. And other stuff that is boring to buy but irritatingly expensive. But I digress. My point was that I love shoes.

Years ago, I decided that the days of buying cheap shoes was over. To clarify, by 'cheap' I mean shoes from the likes of Faith, Dolcis and New Look. The end finally came when I got slightly carried away with the idea that I could walk (and by this I mean, walk to the tube station, travel on the tube and then walk to my destination at the other end) in 5 inch heels. I could not. In an attempt to save my poor feet I popped in to the nearest shop, which happened to be Dorothy Perkins. I bought a pair of ballet flats for £30. A bargain - or so I thought. They cut my feet up so badly I had to resort to putting my 5 inchers back on - which I think says quite a lot about these supposedly comfortable flats. The shoes were so covered in blood I couldn't take them back and rant. So, I threw them in the bin and swore that I would never again buy cheap shoes. And I've stuck to that ever since.

However. This week I have again stepped over to the dark side. The point is, I cannot resist a bargain. These shoes were simply too good to miss:
It's hard to believe, but these shoes were just £22. That's right, £22. Our Friday treat takeaway costs more than that. So, I decided to chance it. They are available online from Peacocks - but I didn't trust the picture online - I wanted to see them in real life. I've never heard of this shop Peacocks, but, happy day, I found out that there is one very close to my house. In the shopping centre at Elephant & Castle. Which explains why I didn't know it existed - because I have never been inside this shopping centre. And with good reason. Westfield it is not. However, I hotfooted it through the centre, found the shop and tried on the shoes. They were definitely worth a go. So, today is their first outing. So far, so good - but then I've only been sitting at my desk, so they should pass that test. Lunch will be more interesting.

Whether these shoes last the distance remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure - these shoes are a definite bargain!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Happy Halloween

This year, I'm getting ridiculously excited about Halloween. Never before have I marked the 'holiday' (it's not really a holiday) in any way at all. Of course, when I was about ten, I did go out trick or treating with my brother and sister, but that's as far as it's ever gone. I can only attribute this excitement to having a child - there seems no other logical explanation for it.

We're even having a party on Saturday (although, admittedly, H won't be enjoying that. He'll be in bed). It will be a BBQ - not very happy about the forecast of rain, but we're English, so we won't let that stop us - and the pumpkins have already arrived. I've got two templates to attempt - a witch and some bats. Photos of these will follow, providing I manage to complete the lantern without ruining the whole thing. I'm going to make Halloween cupcakes (any excuse) and try and find some spooky sound effects to play.

Overall, I think it's going to be lots of fun. I haven't gone as far as decorations but who knows? If this is a success, maybe I'll get some next year...

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Flu-tastic - of the swine varity

It's been quite a while since my last post, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that I'd come to an unfortunate end on my bike, given my most recent updates. However, this is not the case. In fact, I've been struck down by the dreaded swine flu, which I've discovered is not pleasant at all. It's been ages since I've had any type of flu - we get the flu jab at work every year (it's a company benefit apparently - I bet I'm paying tax on that somewhere along the line) but this is a good reminder why I do it.

Now, I'm not usually one for going to the doctor - I generally feel I can take care of myself - but yesterday the final straw was reached when I couldn't actually get out of bed to go to the loo. Enough, I thought. I'm getting a doctor to come to me. Admittedly, I haven't done this in a long time - in fact, I've done it once, when I was 15 (so, technically, it was my mother who called out the doctor) because my appendix was in the process of bursting, so I figure that I'm due a call out - right? Wrong. I call my doctor's surgery, who inform me the doctor doesn't do home visits. If I'm concerned, I should call NHS Direct or go to A&E. Brilliant. What sound advice. I'd much rather head to St. Thomas' and wait for 19 hours to see a nurse - if I'm not dead before I go in, I definitely will be when I come out.

I was so desperate to get whatever drugs I needed to make this suffering go away, I practically crawled to my doctors - luckily it's not too far from my house. It was then that I noticed the opening hours for the surgery. I always knew they were pretty limited but 9-11am and 4-5.15pm? ARE YOU HAVING A LAUGH? What on earth are the doctors doing during the other five hours of the day if they're not making house calls? I remember reading somewhere that GPs have an average salary of £70,000. If I could get a job paying me £70k for doing just over three hours a day (except on Wednesdays, when they are closed in the afternoons, so it's only two hours that day) then I'd be a happy lady.

Don't get me wrong, I know people train for a long time to become doctors and I'm sure not all their patients are pleasant etc etc. It's a hard life. But how on earth can you justify only being open for 3 hours 15 minutes each day? Surely you need to be open longer than that to give people the opportunity to see you? Plus, I'm not sure I agree with the advice - 'Go to A&E'. With A&E departments being closed down all over the place, surely the ones that are left are already bursting at the seams with actual emergencies?

The surgery wants to be grateful I'm so knocked out with swine flu. If they thought I was rude on the phone yesterday, they want to see me in action when I'm actually feeling well... but then again, I suppose that's how they get away with it in the first place...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Road Rage

Finally, after what seems like months of waiting (it's only been weeks, but still), I got the call that my bike was ready. Well, actually, I called them but let's not get distracted by rants about the incompetent staff at Evans Cycles. If you'd like to hear more about that, then go here.

Like a child on Christmas morning, I hot footed it down to Spitalfields and collected my bike and all the paraphernalia I'd ordered to go with it - boring (but essential) things like lights and a lock, and the more interested stuff - like the wicker basket to go on the front so I can pretend it's a Pashley. The child seat for H (which cost almost as much as the bike) was also attached. It looks fantastic (see above picture for proof). But the question was: could I ride it?

Unfortunately, the answer is: no. There are various reasons for this:

1. Apparently, you have to be quite fit to actually ride a bike for more than two minutes. As I live more than two minutes away from my office, this is going to be a problem.

2. There is other traffic to contend with on the road. Not just the obvious things that might kill you - like bendy buses and lorries - but cars and other cyclists. Hell, even pedestrians are causing a problem.

3. Allegedly, London is full of cycle routes, dedicated only to the needs of cyclists. However, the location of such routes is a secret and therefore if you are not 'in the know' then you have to brave the roads (see 2 for reasons why this is bad).

One of my colleagues has told me that all London boroughs offer free cycle lessons for people that either live or work in London. My lesson is booked for this weekend. If I make it to the end of the week alive, I'm sure that it will be very beneficial. In the meantime, I'll persevere - after all, you can't just give up. That would be like admitting defeat!

Monday, 12 October 2009

On my bike...finally

It's been a manic week - hence the lack of posting. Both D and I have been exceptionally busy at work and this, combined with an entirely necessary week-long celebration of my birthday has meant a few things have slipped.

One of these 'things' was the arrival of my now long awaited bike. It was supposed to arrive three weeks ago, but the staff at Evans Cycles are totally and utterly incompetent. Usually, I would overcome such issues by taking control of the situation, but as other things took priority (like going to the theatre to see Les Miserables - which was excellent and a fantastic present), the result is that I'm still waiting for my bike.

Finally, finally, today I get a call informing me that the two items I ordered (a basket - well, it may not be a Pashley, but it is damn well going to look like one) and H's child helmet have arrived in stock. 'Brilliant,' I told the caller. 'And are you planning to put the basket on the bike as I requested?'. 'Errr, did you ask for that?' was the response. No, I felt like saying. No - I'd much rather bring everything home in pieces and attempt to put it together myself. Because attempt is the right word. Success wouldn't be the outcome. 'Yes I did,' I responded. So, after explaining for the 59th time that I want them to put everything on the bike, I told them I will be collecting it tomorrow.

The problem with this our Ride to Work scheme is that you're completely tied to this retailer - there is no choice and therefore no incentive for them to actually be any good. All this aside, however, I'm really excited to pick up my bike tomorrow. And I will get it tomorrow. If they haven't built it, I'll do it myself in the shop. That will scare them into action.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Christmas has come early

It's official: Christmas is well and truly here. This morning, I received my Christmas Gift Guide from Mothercare (I know, live the dream). I didn't open it. I do love Christmas, and so I thought I would save this treat for tonight.

Then, on my way into work, I popped into M&S to pick up some lunch. This organisation is based purely on need - the only thing close to my office is Pret a Manger, and the amount of mayonnaise they feature in all their sandwiches makes me gag. But I digress. So, as I wander in, I am greeted by a mix of Halloween goodies and yes, you've guessed it, a range of advent calendars and Christmas chocolates.

The final indication was waiting for me in my inbox when I logged in. John Lewis has sent me an email announcing that their Christmas shop is now open online (I assume they are also selling Christmas paraphernalia in their shops, but I haven't been to one in the past couple of days - so I couldn't swear to it). It's 6 October. Why not just be done with it, and make advent calendars start from 1 October? Then again, I suppose that would encourage the shops to start selling them July...

Christmas - only 79 days to go. Having said that, if you want your Christmas cards to arrive in time, given the Royal Mail's recent performance, you might need to send them out this week!