Wednesday, 28 March 2012

I suck at this

Once again I have to apologise for my long unexplained absence.  I'm a bad blogger!  But, in my defence, my to-do list has been rather jam packed recently.  Here, in no particular order, is a small excerpt:

- Make GP's appointment for pre-op tests.
- Find out whether I can claim incapacity benefit during my operation recovery period.
- Re-list ebay items that didn't sell.
- Learn how to build a bio-diesel processor (have you SEEN the price petrol is now?! This is MM's new project.)
- Learn how to build a house (Long story.  No, I'm not kidding.  More on that another time.)
- Pack for holiday in three weeks in South of France. (First holiday in years! Yay!) Weather could be anything, so must pack for all eventualities.  I'm going to help my Aunt build a house there.  This, believe it or not, is not at all connected to the point above.
- Develop Holga film.  Poor neglected little camera.
- Find out where to safely dispose of needles. For the meds I need to take after my op.  Not because my to-do list has driven me to drugs.  Although at times it's a close fought battle.  I joke, I joke.  Just say no, kids. 
- Stop downloading and reading the Hunger Game books on my Kindle so I can get some SLEEP!
- And last, but by no means least, wage un-holy war on Santander.

Oh Santander.  Everyone knows how appalling your customer service is, so I shouldn't be disappointed, shocked or totally OUTRAGED at how you're behaving.  I shouldn't.  But I am. 

I had my mortgage with Santander.  I sold the house on the 14th Feb 2012 (thanks to my magic rug!).  For whatever reason, Santander had failed to let my solicitors know the amount I needed to pay to pay off my mortgage so, on the day, in desperation, I rang Santander myself to find out.

Here is where it is important to point out that I am NOT a bank.  I do NOT have a computer in front of me giving me all the figures.  I am NOT to know whether I am given the right figure.  I have to trust Santander to give me the correct information.  The lesson here folks? DON'T trust Santander to give you the correct information.  Because they didn't.

Turns out I didn't pay enough back to clear the mortgage, because they told me the wrong amount.  Did they let me know this?  Hahahahahahaha.  No, of course not!!!

So, several weeks later in the middle of March, I suddenly find I have run out of money.  Where the hell has it all gone?  I'm not a particularly careless spender.  So I investigate.  Oh.  Hi Santander.  You're still taking mortgage payments by Direct Debit.  WTF?

I rang.  I politely asked them what the hell they thought they were doing?  It was now over a month since I had paid off the mortgage.  And it is only at this point that I find out that there is a shortfall.  Excuse me?  Why would that be?  Oh, right, because you screwed up.  And you now want me to pay?!  How the hell is that fair? 

Santander, I asked you specifically for a redemption amount.  And you gave me what you said was a redemption figure to pay.  I PAID IT!  I've done my bit.  Now hands off my dosh.  And you can give back the money you've taken as well.  I need it for luxuries like RENT!!

To cut a painfully long story short, as it stands, I don't have my money back.  Oh, and they want more now.  You know, coz they cocked up and so I should pay.  Isn't that how the world works?

To be fair, they did offer to make a gesture of goodwill.  I was listening... 

Santander: "We'll give you back the money we took from your account." 

Me: "Oh, well.  Thank you, that's very ki..."

Santander: "But." 

Me: "But?"

Santander: "But that money will still be owed on your mortgage account, so your solicitors will still have to pay off the full amount before we can sign off your mortgage.  So....we're not sure how you want to sort that out."

Me - something along the lines of:  "What fricking planet are you on?  Who do you think is going to have to pay my solicitors that money?!  The fricking fairies from the magical land of 'Delusional'??  No, funnily enough.  It's me.  So you want to give the money back to me "as a gesture of goodwill" so that I can pay it to my solicitors, so that they can pay it back to you?  In what cocking universe is that a "gesture of goodwill"?" 

I believe I then went on to use the word "farcical" and said that in no way did I accept their ridiculous 'gesture of goodwill' because it wasn't actually a gesture.  It was a joke. 

Because I was speaking to the complaints department by this point, my outrage was met with many soothing comments along the lines of, "I totally understand, madam" and "I can of course see your point, madam" and then they said they would escalate my complaint.  And I would receive a letter. 

Hopefully this time it will be sent to the address where I actually now live, and not to the house they know I sold months ago.  Which is where they sent all my other letters apparently.  Because, of course, that's the best way to reach me. Duh.

murderously yours,

firefly xxx

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Inappropriate content probably not suitable for my mother

There.  Now she can't say she wasn't warned.

So, I am a girl.  And, as a girl, I have from time to time, over the years, engaged in so called "girl talk."

And, as everyone knows, the scientific formula for girl talk is 10% gossip, 5% bitching and 80% sex talk.  What about the other 5%, you say?  Oh, that's alcohol.  This percentage can often be much much higher.

So it is merely inevitable that, over time, I have amassed an impressive collection of truly horrifying, hilarious and sometimes downright wrong sex stories.  And it seems a royal shame for all of these stories to be stuck inside my head (actually, at times it can be rather disturbing).  So I thought, "Hey Internet, time to share!"

Here's one of my favourites:

My uni housemate goes out to a party and meets a guy.  She thinks he's tall and cute, and they dance and drink the night away.

I imagine she then shyly invited him back for coffee, or used some other handy euphemism. (Actually, knowing her, she probably didn't bother with the euphemism!)  I can vouch for the tall and cute, because he had to run the gauntlet of my living room past a bunch of gawking, giggly girls (including me), as my housemate attempted to drag him to her room as quickly as possible. 

So next morning, noting the lack of cute, tall guys haunting our kitchen, we obviously enquired as to how her night went.  And here's where it gets good (or bad, depending who you are in this story!).

Firstly, it apparently turns out that being tall is no indication of anything else being in proportion.  Now, no judgement, but when you have deliberately chosen a tall guy with an end result in mind, it can be disappointing, I imagine, to discover that vital inches are missing.  So, considering that this guy was apparently almost inversely proportionate to his height in that area, their night of passion was already off to a bad start.

But then it sank to a whole new level.  He failed to rise to the occasion.  Strike number 2.  It's not looking good.  But maybe we can cut him some slack here (hehehe, bad pun), after all he had been drinking all night.  But then he put the nail in the coffin with this classic line:

"I'm sorry.  This doesn't usually happen to me.  But then I mostly sleep with guys."

Love it.

firefly xxx

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Inevitability is...

...your friend asking you to pick up two chocolate flake bars for her, and devouring one before even arriving at her house.


firefly xx

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


I went to yoga yesterday (some of you may remember that this is part of my brilliant "lying down" exercise plan).

I was struggling to do one of the positions, which often happens as my DDH (developmental dysplasia of the hips) causes problems and means I can't move in certain ways.

My yoga teacher told me that I was holding on to some emotion, most likely to do with my upcoming operation, and that it was seizing me up.  She's very good at this.  As someone pretty sceptical about spiritual aspects, I still can't help being impressed at how she has this incredible ability to poke and prod various bits of your body, and then tell you exactly what is going on in your head.

So later, I decided to have a think about it.  Explore my emotions surrounding my operation, so to speak. 

Up until then, if you'd asked me how I felt about my upcoming operation (17th May - make a note people) I guess I would have said I felt scared.  And since that's not a helpful emotion to me, my coping strategy has generally been just not to think about it. 

But I faced up and I thought about it, and thought about how I feel about everything I'm going to go through, and I realised that actually I was really angry about it all.  Really, REALLY angry! Which was unexpected. 

I was 'who the hell decided that I should have to go through all of this crap, anyway?' kind of angry.

When I talked to MM later that evening, I was still angry.  I was aware that there was no logical reason to be angry, or indeed anyone really to be angry at, but boy, oh boy, was I mad.

I know that there are people in this world with problems that make mine pale in comparison.  And actually, on most days, I appreciate that I am incredibly lucky just to be able to walk.  If I had been born maybe 50 years earlier, I could possibly have been in a wheelchair my whole life.

But yesterday, I didn't want to hear that.  MM tried to point this all out to me, and got an earful.  "WHO THE HELL DO THEY THINK THEY ARE TO DO THIS TO ME?!" I yelled.  "I wasn't even given a bloody CHOICE!"  "I didn't ask for this STUPID BROKEN body, and I don't want it.  I bloody don't.  I don't want to have to be dealing with any of this crap.  I'm out.  I choose NOT to have stupid, CRAPPY, broken hips.  I am DONE with this shit."   

Incidentally, in case the above is not clear, I was not angry with the doctors, or with my parents, or myself.  No, no.  I was angry with the UNIVERSE.  I have no idea who the "they" are that I was angry at, but boy I wanted to pound them into the ground.  Who chose to put me through this, huh? HUH?  Yeah, well they'd be sorry when I got my hands on them. 

"And, AND" I continued to MM, "They didn't even have the decency to make me 6 foot tall, did they?  Noooooo.  They take away my ability to wear high heels, like EVERY. OTHER. normal 26 year old girl gets to do, and just for FUN, they also made me 5 foot pissing 1!!  So I look 12 years old and completely stupid wearing flat shoes.  THAT'S JUST TAKING THE PISS, THAT IS!  Jeez!"

All this time, there had been silence on the other end of the phone.  MM was clearly a little stumped as to how to respond to this rant against the universe. 

But then, when I finally paused for breath, he said quietly, "But if you had been made 6 foot tall, I wouldn't be going out with you, would I?"

That shut me up.

It's all about perspective people. 

So thank you, universe, for not making me 6 foot tall, and thank you for MM.  I stand by all my other points though, ok?  OK???  Good.

firefly xx

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


Hmmph.  Just got home to discover that I left the lights on in my bedroom all day.

Some bloody eco-warrior I am, eh?  Muppet.

firefly x


Hmmm.  So, I'm still on my green living plan.  So far this has involved little more than turning lights and appliances off where possible.  This is because when I do something, I like to do it right.  Which means research.  Which, in this case, means complete and total confusion!!

My feelings towards being eco friendly are pretty straightforward.  I appreciate that the impact that I can have as an individual is practically non-existent.  However, if every individual did their bit, then the impact could be monumental.  So I choose to start with me.  Also, I accept who I am as a person.  And this person does not embrace the idea of a life of deprivation or dirt.  So I will not move to a mud hut, or give up washing or, indeed, give up my television!  However, if there are changes I can make to be more environmentally friendly, without having a seriously negative impact on my lifestyle, then I'm game.  I think that a lot of people would be more open to the idea of saving the environment if it was approached this way.  I also appreciate that serious environmentalists will consider this approach pathetic and useless.  But they can all hush up.  Because at least it's something.  At least I'm TRYING!  Believe me, if you'd met me 2 years ago, you'd be amazed that I am even open to the concept.  That's called progress, people. 

So there are a couple of things I decided straight away.  For instance, no more brand new clothes, unless eco friendly.  But preferably none at all.  This suits me fine.  HELLOOOOO charity shops.  Ebay.  Gumtree and Freecycle.  You name it.  :)  It's fun, I can feel good about it and it's also cheap.  Replacing light bulbs with long life ones is also a no brainer, although, admittedly I am waiting for the old ones to give out first.  And this is where things get tricky. There's a lot of mixed info out there.  Should I be throwing out the old light bulbs straight away (landfill issues there) and replacing?  But, as they are still working, that seems wasteful, which is another environmental no-no.  What about cleaning products?  As has conclusively been established on this blog already, I am no neat freak!  So I am happy to consider and try eco-friendly cleaning products as, even if they don't work as well (which is often their criticism), no doubt they will work well enough for me.  But two issues here, firstly being: how eco friendly is eco friendly enough? 

I have this issue with a lot of the stuff I'm coming across.  Take bamboo clothes for instance.  On the surface this is marketed as a eco friendly genius plan.  Bamboo is an incredibly sustainable source, with none of the issues that the cotton industry has.  It's soft and durable.  Yay!  Bamboo clothes get a tick.  But wait.  Do they though?  Look into it for more than 5 mins (I have. It was dull.) and you find that the production techniques and chemicals used to turn bamboo fibres into something that can be woven, are far FAR from ecologically friendly, nine times out of ten.  Bugger.  So you're back to square one.  

So applying this issue to the cleaning product thing again:  When a product SAYS it's eco friendly, I can't be sure whether it actually is, or whether it's a marketing tool to make me buy it and feel good.  And, unless I drastically develop my scientific knowledge to actually know the impact of all those long words on the back, I just can't know!  I am not a scientist.  I am a normal, conscientious person who would like to make the right choice.  Someone just tell me what it is!!!

My second issue on the cleaning product front is similar to the light bulb thing:  I now know that the cleaning products I use are doing massive harm to our environment and water systems.  Male fish are turning into female fish due to the mix of chemicals and hormones (probably from the pill) now washing around in our waterways.  It's true.  Google it!  Given that this is also our drinking water source, I find this insanely scary.  Can I fix it?  No.  But I would like to try and reduce the contribution that I am making towards it getting worse.  Especially since there are alternatives.  SO - no more nasty chemicals.  OK.  But what do I do with all the products I have left?  Use them up?  Seems to go against the new clean living plan, doesn't it?  Do I throw them away?  So they also end up in landfill and are still causing contamination.  Man, it's hard. 

So the whole thing is proving harder than I thought.  There is a serious dearth of true environmentally friendly alternatives out there.  Especially toiletries.  Environmentally friendly toothpaste anyone?!  Jeez.  Yes, they exist but frankly they look disgusting and I have serious doubts over whether some of them would work.  Plus, I can only get them over the Internet.  Which, again, is hardly the best way to buy toothpaste.  It's like it having its own personal chauffeur, when I can walk to Boots in my lunch break! (Side note: Toothpaste chauffeur = interesting new career idea.)

I think the moral of this story is that, currently, there is no perfect solution.  I can try my best but there will always be a compromise until more, truly eco friendly options, are made available on the high street and in mainstream stores. 

However, in an attempt not to add to the questions, but to try and provide some answers, I will let you know the best solutions I have found to my above problems.  I'm nothing if not helpful!

Clothes, towels, sheets etc:  Organic cotton currently seems to be the best choice.  That is, until bamboo starts being manufactured in a more environmentally friendly fashion.

Cleaning products:  A lot can be done with some baking soda/bicarbonate of soda and vinegar.  There are recipes ALL OVER the Internet on how to make your own cleaning products but I have not tried any yet.  I intend to, and I will let you know how it goes.  If you haven't all died of boredom by then, that is.  Failing that, I believe Ecover products are popular and widely available.  I have neither tried nor particularly researched them, but they are definitely better than your standard chemical brands, and seem an easy switch to make.  Also, I today came across a possible solution for my "use up or throw out" problem for chemical products.  Someone on a forum suggested giving them away to a cleaning company, on the basis that they will be using and buying them anyway.  Not a perfect solution, but at least something I guess.  I'm still considering which way to go.  I guess I just need to get over the hurdle of having wasted a load of money on all this stuff. Grrr.

And as for toothpaste, etc.:  Well, I'm putting together a mish-mash really.  I'm buying Aveeno moisturisers, which are naturally sourced and also make an effort as a company to be eco friendly and ethical in their manufacturing.  I believe Origins are also good.  I have also, today, discovered the haven that is Holland and Barrett!  Never having been particularly health conscious, I have never had the need to step foot in there before.  But guess what they sell?  Environmentally friendly toothpaste!  Or at least as environmentally friendly as I am likely to get.  Yay!  They also sell eco friendly shampoos, conditioners and face products.  I have to confess that I AM going to wait until my current products run out before experimenting with these.  I'm not made of money after all.  But I believe that I may have found some things I can introduce into our household without MM hitting the roof and acting like I'm making him wear a hair shirt.  Oh, and I bought a Mooncup.  It's a sanitary product and I'm not gonna be graphic about it.  Women, if you're interested, google it.  I am sceptical and unsure, but had to give it a go.  Especially when you find out that our beaches are strewn with washed up, used, sanitary products.  It's enough to make a girl go right off her organic cornflakes!!

carbon-neutrally yours,

firefly xx

P.S.  Organic cornflakes are DISGUSTING.  I am NOT recommending them in any way, shape or form.  Ick. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

I have the best friends

One of my best friends gave me this a little while ago:

"I baked something for you honey" she said.

Because I am a kind and appreciatiatve person, I replied, "But sweetie, your baking is crap!  Why, dear god why, would you give me something you've baked?!"

"I used ready made gingerbread dough" she said.  And I smiled.

This is what she made me:

They were really pretty.  And really yummy.

I love my friend dearly.  She makes me baked goods that don't taste like feet.  She rocks. :)

firefly x

Monday, 5 March 2012


Hey there little bloggie people of blog land.  I'm so sorry I abandoned you for so long.

I don't really know what happened, I just got all busy and that, and then MM came home and hogged the computer all weekend, so my poor little blog world got neglected.  I suck, I know.  I'll write loads now to make up for it and bore the pants off you.  You'll be longing for the days of silence. 

So anyway, what did you all get up to over the weekend?  Mine was quite busy, at least by my standards.

On Friday I went out to dinner with some friends (who aren't really friendly friendly friends, but more an extended group of people that I know by name, you know?  No?  Oh well, just me then).  I had a surprisingly good time, given I didn't really know any of them particularly well.  We went to Prezzo and boy were we LOUD!!! Luckily we were in a private room, but seriously, the moment we sat down, it seemed like a contest for who could shout the loudest.  My ears were ringing by the end.  Oh, and I won the contest ultimately.   Of course.  I always do.  If in doubt...shout! :)

I was also rocking my new(ish) dress I had bought from a local charity shop for £4.50.  If there's one thing I love about this recession (and let's be honest, there's not much) it's the fact that it is now a point of pride amongst girls as to how cheap you can buy a decent outfit.  I'll take your new flowery jumpsuit from Primark for £11.99 and raise you one second hand, but totally looks new, H&M dress from CancerResearch for £4.50!  Hell yeah, bitch.  (I don't speak like that by the way, before you all send hate mail.  But my fingers certainly type that way, and they do the talking on here. So 'ave it.  Punks.)

So, awesome dress, awesome food and funny people (at least from what I could make out of the conversation amongst all the shouting) = decent Friday night.  They were also really sweet and didn't make me chip in for the alcohol portion of the bill.  I wouldn't have minded, as I did have a glass of wine (just one as I was driving) but they wouldn't let me and 'bought me out' at the last minute.  I was strangely touched.  Generosity is surprisingly rare, especially amongst people you aren't that close to.

So....then Saturday.  I gardened.  If you read this and you know me, you just fell over from shock.  I'll wait while you collect yourself.  OK now?  Good. 

Yeah, I'm kinda on this healthy eating, saving money and (more recently) saving the planet kick.  It won't last long I'm sure.  My fads rarely do.  But in the meantime, I may do something horrific like blog about bamboo socks or some-such nonsense.  I ask that you bear with me during this difficult time.

So, given I live on a farm like property (read: lots and lots of outdoor space) with my mother who LOVES gardening, and since I resent giving my hard earned cash to the massive corporations who frankly need it less than me, I decided to have a stab at growing my own veg.  Actually, I decided this sometime last year.  Probably about the same time I decided to clear my desk.

[Quick update: my desk currently looks like this:

Yes, that's a robot at the front there.  What's your point?]

So, I finally had the motivation to garden and it happily coincided with a lovely sunny day.  After it had stopped raining of course.  So I went outside and whined at my mother to teach me to grow bountiful goodness, until she stopped what she was doing and showed me.  Then I asked how to garden without getting dirt under my fingernails and she gave me a look that suggested I may have been swapped at birth with another baby, and where, oh dear god where, was her real daughter.  Because my mum is the kind of gardener who thinks you're a sissy if you wear gloves, let alone worry about dirt under your fingernails.

So we got over that little speed bump and I started gardening.  I will now demonstrate the important steps to an enjoyable gardening experience:

1.  Watch Gok on Channel 4 until the rain stops.  Learn how to "Look Good Naked". 

2. Whine at experienced gardener that you don't know what you are doing or how to set anything up, until they give in and practically do everything for you.  Works best on a parent or close relative.

3.  Ensure that you have spent at least three-six months threatening to garden and demanding space from your poor mother/experienced gardener so that they have already done the hard work, and made you beautiful, well fertilised planting beds.  You then say, "Oh, you shouldn't have.  I would have done that.  Thank you".  Really, it's only polite, people.

4.  Put the kettle on the gas hob to boil. 

5.  Arrange yourself in a suitably sunny spot, and have seed trays and seeds nearby (brought to you by your mother, so you don't have to get up).

6.  Remember you have left the kettle boiling and dash inside.  Curse inwardly as other members of the family demand a brew and you realise you will need to refill the kettle with more water.  Put the refilled kettle back on the hob to boil.

7.  Plant seeds thinly in seed trays filled with suitable compost.  Wet compost first.  Do not forget Every. Single. Time. to do this. 

8.  Suddenly remember kettle is boiling and dash inside again.  Make cuppa's for all demanding and unreasonable family members, and one for yourself.

9.  Reposition yourself in the sun.  Slowly drink tea and wonder why you have never gardened before.  It's fabulous.

So that was my Saturday folks.

And on Sunday?  Well on Sunday it snowed.  WTF right?! So MM and I did nothing and chilled out.  Lovely jubbly.

green-fingeredly(?) yours,

firefly xxx