Wednesday, April 02, 2008

And so the week begins...

We had a fabulous weekend with our friends. It was a wonderful break. Their new house is just beautiful. I had a few scary moments going up to the first floor via a ladder as there are no stairs - and gazing out over the most incredible galleried landing with only three floor boards between me and the abyss – but it really was worth it for the lovely view. The back of the house is nearly all floor to ceiling windows looking out on two acres of prime Buckinghamshire countryside. It is going to be amazing when it is finished. It was really lovely to catch up with our friends as well.

We stayed in the Premier Inn at Milton Keynes. Normally I like a bit more luxury than that, but we knew we would only be in the hotel just to sleep so we decided to take the budget route. We took two rooms so Alex could have his own space and both were clean and relatively spacious (although I’m glad we weren’t all three of us in one room!) and we felt they were good value for money. Unfortunately, very early in the morning, one of the cooking staff managed to set the grill on fire in their kitchens downstairs, resulting in a rude awakening with the fire bell ringing. When we went downstairs, the receptionist said it was a false alarm, despite the fact there was very clearly smoke everywhere in the dining room, seeping out into the reception area. When Guy queried how it could be a false alarm when there was so much smoke, the receptionist insisted that “it” had been a fire on the grill but “it” had all been put out (since when do you have to “put out” a false alarm?). Of course, if you have a grill fire and an extractor fan system, there is a very real risk of the heat causing fire in the exhaust system beyond the actual site of the grill, but she could not understand that, and simply stood there keying in the code whenever the alarm went off again. Guy did point out the fire department should be called to check out the situation, but she did not seem to feel that was necessary. Not a very good advertisement for health and safety!! We were too nervous to sleep again, so went back up to the room and got ready to leave. This was the point at which Guy found the leaflet about Premier Inn’s “good night’s sleep guarantee”. Well, we had not had a good night’s sleep. It had been a very short sleep and a very rude awakening. So Guy went downstairs to query this with the receptionist, again pointing out to her the huge health and safety violations that she had made. We got a full refund for both rooms! So, kudos to Premier Inns for honouring their guarantee, but a bit of a worry about their health and safety procedures!!

Monday started off a very busy week. Alex was still writing “mock” GCSE exams and Guy was in the thick of things at work. As for me, I updated my website and then spent ages trying to get the house organised. I made quite a dent in the study. If I’m not careful, it will be neat, tidy and organised before long! I also did my first run outside with my personal trainer, Judith. I did quite well in the end, but isn’t it amazing how things can follow you your whole life, lying quietly dormant only to jump out and bite you on the ass when you least expect it? We started off with a brisk walk, and then Judith suggested I set the pace with a slow jog. So off we went…for about four minutes. Now I have worked myself up to the stage where I can run for twenty-five minutes without stopping, but suddenly I wasn’t in Berkshire anymore. I was ten years old and back at St Margaret’s School in Elora with the girls in my class jeering me as I struggled on one of the very long and hilly runs our gym teacher used to set us. (I was not an athletic sort at all, and by the end of these runs I would be gasping, much to the delight of the girls who used to bully me unmercifully. One time they even got behind me and started to push me up the last hill, laughing and jeering all the way.) Back in Berkshire again, I could not get my breath, the whole idea of running outside seemed insane and I was sure everyone was laughing at me. I was struggling so to breathe, I actually had to stop running! I was so cross with myself, but Judith was great and encouraged me to just relax and try again. So it was a success in the end, but what a lesson in the nonsense we all hang on to in our minds. Do I remember the compliments I used to get about my fantastic grades? Do I remember the fun times I had later on after I left St Margaret’s? Nope. I remember the gibes of a bunch of bullies. It’s daft, and the sad thing is, I know I’ve got a lot of work to do to make that distant, ghostly twenty-eight year old laughter go away. But I’ll be back out there with Judith again next week, and this time I’ll be ready for the ghostly bullies of the past with a mental list of positive qualities and achievements most of them would be hard pressed to match.

Today it was more cleaning – I’ve got to find a cleaner, I really do!! The house is too big for me to manage it alone. I did, however, discover a wonderful little tool on my new Sebo vacuum cleaner that allows me to dust the skirting boards without having to bend over or wipe them down. I was disproportionately pleased by this. Every once in a while there is a sign I am getting too wrapped up in the housework and I need to broaden my horizons. This was one of those signs. Luckily it was time to go to Pilates which was brilliant. I’m getting so much stronger, and between Pilates and personal training (plus a bit of work on my own), I’m looking more toned and getting some lovely definition in my muscles.

We had a bit of a shock tonight. We were happily toasting the nineteenth anniversary of the day Guy and I met with a nice glass of champagne when we noticed a great big splash of a puddle on our kitchen table. On closer examination we saw a very large wet patch in the ceiling. It was so bad that Guy has had to cancel a planned business trip to Ireland today and the plumbers are still trying to sort it all out, planning to come back tomorrow at 7am. I hate the damage water can do. It is so insidious, travelling undetected for great distances and causing such damage.

I’ll just have to concentrate on looking forward to the weekend, and the trip Guy and I are taking to Paris. Alex is going to spend the weekend with Guy’s parents and he is really excited about going to see them on his own. So please God we will all have a lovely weekend!

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