Thursday, 28 February 2008

Listen very carefully...

I've spent the better part of this morning cowering downstairs in the living room. No, it's not because of another earthquake. I am simply the victim of my own overactive imagination. I keep hearing things. Noises coming from the roof. Except they seem to be coming from inside the roof - the loft, attic or whatever you like to call it.

I woke up to these noises, these 100% definitely there noises! To start with I thought it was just a bird scrabbling about on the roof but then the noises started to get louder. Surely too loud for a mere bird on a roof. I started to get a bit freaked out. You know when you're alone in the house and you hear something strange, your mind goes into a sort of paranoid overdrive. It's a cat in the roof... no, a rat... no, the earthquake shook the chimney loose and it's about to fall on top of me... no, it's the hot water tank about to explode... gah!

However I couldn't very well stay downstairs all morning so I took my courage in both hands and went up to have a shower. I thought it was very brave of me considering the possibility that the roof might fall down at any moment and I'd be stuck butt-naked in a pile of rubble, unsure as to whether or not I wanted the fire service to come and rescue me or not.

Shower dealt with I had to go back to my room to get dressed. Cue a loud radio. Ah-ha - now I cannot hear you, you freaky noises! Up and dressed I leg it down the stairs and stay there. Unfortunately, our house is a pretty creaky one anyway. It's not actually that old - I think it was built about 30 years ago - but it just loves to creak, often in new and unexpected ways. So now, every little sound that I hear it make is confirmation of my worst fears. Although come to think of it, I'm now entirely sure what my worst fear is. I was most worried about some living thing being up there but actually it would be far worse if it was actually the house making all those noises. Hmmm... I probably shouldn't dwell on this any longer. Time to watch some TV at an unnecessarily high volume.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Oscar, England and delusions of grandeur.

I'm not one to brag but I'm pretty chuffed with the Oscar predictions that I made last month. Six out of eight ain't bad. It's also a lesser known Meatloaf song!

I've also been perusing all the red carpet piccies. I'm no fashionista mind, I just like looking at the pretty dresses! Giraffe-a-licious props to Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Garner who both looked gorgeous and prompted great feelings of jealousy within your favourite blogger.

Now onto more important matters... rugby! What a brilliant match on Saturday night and with the all important right result.
England finally put in a decent second half performance. More Giraffe-a-licious props to Richard Wigglesworth, Nick Easter and Jamie Noon in particular. Plus Mr W of course. If you don't know who I mean by that, then there's no hope for you.

The extent of my sporting activities this weekend amounted to watching the rugby and having a game of tennis on a Wii. Whilst fun to imagine myself teaching Maria Sharapova a lesson in the finer points of the game, the speed at which these exertions zapped my energy reserves combined with the pain in my arm and shoulder this morning mean that she's unlikely to be challenged in the near future. I'll just have to keep relying on Justine Henin to beat her. Hmmm... maybe I could help Justine out by giving her a few pointers? Do you think she's in the Yellow Pages?

Thursday, 21 February 2008

A crafty little project

My granny like tendencies have raised their ugly heads again this week. However this time it's not moaning about the state of the nation or making that 'this requires a lot of effort' noise when I get up from a chair. It's knitting. The most granny-ish pastime of them all.

Over the years I've attempted many different arts and crafts projects with limited success. Card-making, cross-stitching, jewellery-making and painting little boxes to name but a few. You wouldn't believe the amount of random craft odds and ends that are dotted around the house. My problem is that I'm just not creative enough. If I were a Mr Men character I'd be Little Miss Analytical. It's not in my nature to be creative. I'm all about analysing other peoples' creativity! To put it simply, after a few weeks at a certain craft I hit a brick wall. I just run out of ideas! Solution? I just move on to the next one!

Anyway, the current craft du jour is knitting. However I am hopeful that this one may last a little longer. Firstly because it actually has a purpose behind it and secondly because the creative element stretches only to my deciding which colours to use! I've recently become aware of a charity called Samaritan's Purse. They are a Christian charity that aim to spread the Gospel whilst supplying practical everyday items to victims of war, poverty, natural disasters etc. One of their projects is Operation Christmas Child. Supporters are encouraged to pack a shoe box with toys, stationary, hygiene items (e.g. toothbrushes, soap, hairbrushes) and other nice things for children around the world who need them. One of their ideas is for knitted woolly hats to go in the boxes. Hence, my knitting frenzy. And yes, I know it's a long time until Christmas but I'm not exactly a professional knitter so I thought it would make sense to make a start now!

If you'd like to join my knitting crusade then check out where you can download patterns in PDF format.

Altogether now..."Knit one, purl one, knit one, purl one..."

Monday, 18 February 2008

The week that will be

I've had one of those weeks that quite frankly I'm glad to see the back of. Various problems and stressful situations have marked it down as one to forget and so I'm more than happy to move on into the 'bound-to-be-much-better' week commencing Monday 18th February. Optimistic as I am, I see it going something like this:

Monday - write blog. Hear a knock at the door. It's the postman. Junk mail, junk mail, junk mail, ah an interesting letter. Dear Giraffe-a-licious... love your blog... blah blah blah... like to invite you to Buckingham Palace for a cup of tea... do say you'll come... love Liz.

Tuesday - spend a couple of hours in morning volunteering for Alzheimer's Society. Head home. Someone flags me down to asks for directions. It's David Tennant. So grateful for my help that he invites me to appear as his assistant in the next series of Doctor Who.

Wednesday - go for meal with friends in the evening. Waiter brings me wrong order. By way of an apology I can have my food for free. Plus, would madam like a Pina Colada on the house? Why yes, madam would.

Thursday - a nice restful day spoilt only by David Tennant's incessant phone calls.

Friday - Wake up and am miraculously cured of M.E. Hop on a plane to some far flung, exotic destination in celebration of miracle. Or see if I can nab some tickets to England v France. That's got the Jonny Wilkinson factor. Hmmmm.... decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

My funny Valentine

Valentine's Day tomorrow. Woop-de-doo. Can you tell that I'm single?

To be honest I take issue with the whole thing anyway but I promise that what follows is not some sort of bitter rant! No doubt I could deliver one if I so desired but I think it important that I do not indulge that side of myself!

Valentine's Day is the day when we are all told to be romantic. If we're told to be romantic, doesn't that rather negate the romance? Surely the romance of something is largely in the spontaneity of it? Who feels truly special when their other half buys them flowers or chocolates on Valentine's Day? It would be much better were they to choose some other day to express their love. Romance just isn't the same if it's been instigated by Clinton's Cards.

Of course I speak from vast experience. Ahem.

I'm in that strange position at the moment of not wanting to be in a relationship (too much hassle, demands on my time etc.) but wanting to know that there is one waiting somewhere around the corner for me. I have this recurring nightmare that I'm going to end up in a nursing home at 50 years old because my parents have kicked the bucket and I'm still not well enough to look after myself. A husband would solve that particular worry. From what I can gather, good husbands are pretty thin on the ground these days anyway and my (not self-imposed) stringent criteria aren't going to make finding one any easier.

Firstly, I'm a Christian and and the Bible tells me that I should only be going out with a guy that shares my beliefs. Wow - that pool of potential hubbys just shrunk quickly! Secondly, the chap needs to be able to deal with my illness (a lot easier said that done). Thirdly, somehow I'm going to have to come into contact with him (not easy when I generally travel the same distance from home as a particularly lazy tortoise travels in 24 hours). Once all those criteria are fulfilled we get down to the less important things - personality, sense of humour, the ability to actually get along with me...

Gah. Love, schmove. As a wise woman once said: "Love? I'd rather fall in chocolate."

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Brotherly love

Tennis post alert! Tennis post alert!

Tomorrow sees the start of Great Britain's Davis Cup tie against Argentina. For the first time in years we are back in the elite World Group and have been rewarded with one the most difficult ties that we could have drawn. Argentina have 11 players in the top 100, home advantage and the choice of surface. We have one top 100 player in the form of Andy Murray. To make matters worse, Murray withdrew from the tie last week, citing a knee injury that he was nervous of aggravating on the clay.

This leaves the loss of the tie as somewhat inevitable. Although I've been severely disappointed by the way that some of the press have approached the whole thing. Yes, barring a miracle the tie is over before it has even started, but we've got to give the guys playing some sort of support. If we show no faith in them at all then why should they have faith in themselves? The Davis Cup gives players like Jamie Baker a chance to step up and pitch himself against guys that he wouldn't usually have the opportunity to play. If that's not a motivation to play your best tennis and use the experience to head into the top 100, then I don't know what is.

Interestingly all the news today has been about a rift between Andy Murray and his doubles playing brother Jamie. Apparently Jamie is none too pleased about his little brother ducking out of the tie and hasn't spoken to him for a number of weeks! Considering their normally close relationship this is quite a big deal. The elder Murray is known for being far more relaxed and easy going than Andy and yet he evidently feels strongly about his brother's decision. It will be interesting to see how the 20-year-old reacts!

I'm always drawn to supporting people that have a strong relationship with a sibling. No doubt because my sister and I get on so well. We're best friends and I love to see that replicated in other brother and sister partnerships. It should go some way to explaining my desire to see Same Difference win X-Factor last year! I'm sure that Andy and Jamie will sort it all out soon enough. If they weren't so close in the first place then this disagreement wouldn't be such a big deal.

In the meantime - C'MON TEAM GB! You can take at least one match from them!

Monday, 4 February 2008

P...p...p...pick up a pancake

It's Shrove Tuesday tomorrow! That's Pancake Day to the less educated among us. Hurrah!

I'll admit it, I'm something of a pancake addict. In the Giraffe-a-licious household pancake consumption is not limited to merely Pancake Day. In fact, it has become something of a tradition for my sister and I to make a batch whenever our parents go away. As a result we do consider ourselves to be something in the way of conoisseurs when it comes to the humble pancake. Imagine my consternation when I read in the paper today that 1 in 5 of the British population didn't know that it was Shrove Tuesday tomorrow and that less than a third would definitely be making pancakes on that day.

So I call on you dear readers, to take up your frying pans and join the pancake cause. Say no to the stacked American forgeries and turn back to the classic, thin, big-as-a-dinner-plate variety! In order to inspire, I bring you some of the greatest pancake toppings/fillings ever tasted. All this in order to make your Pancake Day a day to remember!

1. Sometimes the simplest of toppings can be best eg. lemon juice and caster sugar or butter and sugar (take the pancake straight from the pan, spread some butter on it (must be butter, no margarine!), top with sugar).

2. Golden syrup. Use as a substitute for sugar. Works particularly well with orange juice (from an orange, not a carton!)

3. Fruit. Try blueberries and golden syrup. Or strawberries and chocolate spread.

4. Demerara sugar - used in combination with orange juice it gives a great texture.

5. Savoury, schmavoury - I'm all about the sweet stuff. If you absolutely have to have savoury then check out the BBC Food website ( Type 'pancakes' into their recipe finder and you'll be well away.

One final thing - try and eat them straight from the pan. If there is more than one of you eating then use the conveyor belt trick: Pancake 1 cooked, pancake 2 cooked whilst pancake 1 is topped, pancake 3 is cooked whilst pancake 1 is eaten and pancake 2 is topped, pancake 4 cooked whilst pancake 2 is eaten and pancake 3 topped...etc etc etc.