Monday, September 07, 2009

If a girl thinks you're in love with her and says she will marry you, you can't very well voice a preference for being dead in a ditch

It feels like a lot of time has passed since Thursday. This is one of the curses of having time off, it screws up your perception of how time passes for the rest of the working week. That's a small enough price to pay, I suppose.

I have had a most enjoyable, although very tiring weekend. Nic was giving a paper at a conference in Winchester so we decided to travel down together and try to make the trip not just work. I found Winchester very charming, although I am sure that the good weather contributed to that as well! Nic and I stayed in a bed and breakfast that we had booked relatively late on, and it was perfect. It was around the corner from the building Nic was giving his paper in, and it was only a short walk from the town centre. It was in a small family home, but it was so clean and bright and comfortable, and the owner really went out of his way to make us feel at home. It was one of the things that made the trip such a pleasure.

Winchester is gorgeous. It reminded me of Canterbury, for obvious reasons, but I think I liked it better thank I like Canterbury. It seemed to have a slightly slower pace. One of the nicest things Nic and I did was to wander through the grounds of the cathedral at night, which is something that we wouldn’t have been able to do in Canterbury. I won't bore you by listing all of the things that we did, but here are some the places we visited:

Buddy's Diner
Nic and I spent ages trying to find somewhere to eat. There are no shortages of restaurants in the city centre, but I had a notion I wanted to eat in a pub. Well, that didn't happen and instead we stumbled on Buddy's Diner, which was brilliant. I have a soft spot for American themed diners, and this one was excellent. They were playing the Monkees on the jukebox when we arrived, they had a drawing of Tony Curtis's star on the Hollywood walk of fame on the wall, and their bean burger was extremely tasty. It was lots of fun!

The Great Hall
Our host recommended we visit here, and it was on our route into the town centre. The main attraction is King Arthur's round table. I was a bit confused by the claims that it dated from 1247 because there is a massive tudor rose in the middle of it, but apparently it was repainted for Henry VIII (I am reserving judgement on this whole business, however) It hangs on the wall of the Great Hall, and on the other gable wall is a mural depicting the royal family tree, right down as far as Queen Victoria. There's not really a huge amount that you can do but it is worth a visit all the same!

We also visited two excellent pubs, The Wykeham Arms which is near the Cathedral, and The Corner House, which is on North Wall. They were very different but I loved them both. The Wykeham Arms won my heart because they don't play music, mobile phones aren’t allowed and you can order sausages at the bar for 50p each. Now that last one isn't much good to me, admittedly, but I admire it all the same. Also, a lot of the tables are old desks from the neighbouring college, which charmed me. The Corner House is a much more modern place, but it was somewhere that I thought I'd like to spend time in if I lived in Winchester. They have a weekly book group and a sewing circle, and free foreign language conversation lessons. Also, Nic enjoyed the Flower Pots bitter they had on tap.

Winchester is definitely a city I'd like to visit again. On Saturday, while Nic was at the conference, I amused myself by wandering around, knitting in the Cathedral gardens in the sunshine, and reading in the library. I was extremely tired by the time we got back to Leamington on Saturday evening but felt happy that we'd had such a pleasing adventure. I always enjoy visiting new places, and Nic and I usually manage to find somewhere exciting or fun or quirky to visit, and Winchester had these spots in abundance.

I seem to spend a lot of my time complaining about tiresome train journeys, so I won’t do that in this entry except to say that I spent the entire journey back up to Leamington being stared out by a really stressy Mancunican woman with a crew cut. I kept my eyes down on my knitting as far as I could! This morning I read this article in the Guardian about noise, and it made me think about my attitude towards noise. I found it quite reassuring that I am not alone! On my (now rather less frequent) commutes to London I had to give up sitting in the quiet carriage because it made it that much more stressful when someone was making noise. I find that I can cope with loud noises reasonably well, but there are some that wear away at me like water torture. They are:

• Electronic beeping of any kind. I can’t understand why everything must beep. On a recent journey I sat opposite someone who was writing a text message, which is fine except she had the keypad tone turned on so every letter made a beep. This is very irritating. My work laptop does the same thing unless I have the speakers muted. Every time I click on something there is an exaggerated electronic clicking sound, and it beeps loudly when an email comes in. I hate it! Electronic beeps and my aversion to them is one of the reasons why I don’t own a digital camera.
• Very loud car engines. Specifically, those being revved by the idiots driving very fast up Dale Street late at night.
• Leaf blowers, strimmers, lawnmowers (to a lesser extent) It is that whiny buzzing that I find so intrusive, although I will admit that these are probably a necessary evil (wet leaves are very slippery)
• The loud announcements over PA systems, especially at railway stations. Especially at New Street, where they are spaced less than 15 seconds apart.

I must conclude from this that I am not suitable for modern life. I was driven almost to distraction in the Folkestone branch of Asda by all of the noise I was subjected to – loud beeping from the floor cleaner, music over the PA system, an alarm constantly going off. It was horrible! I had been inclined to berate myself for my over-sensitivity to noise but the levels we are subjected to on a daily basis are intolerable. . It does make me feel stressed to wake up to the sound of the leaf strimmer, or to suffer through a train journey listening to someone’s mobile phone beeping and I am constantly amazed at (and envious of) the people who manage to be able to zone it out.

I think I should move on to something more positive now after that not-quite-rant. I had to rush out of the house this morning because, after having planned to work from home I discovered that our remote working system wasn’t working. I was feeling very tired and a bit stressed so I threw on an old (but comfortable) black dress and the black shoes Nic bought me a few months ago (the ones that prompted the extreme disgust of an elderly lady in Coventry marker) I don’t really like wearing black. I have a number of black dresses in the wardrobe, mostly quite formal ones. This one is fine, but I will wear something colourful tomorrow. But I had forgotten how much I love these shoes, so they have been making me feel cheerful all day. I am totally frivolous and, although I think I have a fairly rewarding inner life, my mood is definitely affected by extrinsic things like shoes and noise. The shoes are winning for now, though. And I’m going to get changed when I get home.

List of love
As mentioned - my shoes. Also, my new bag. I'm not ashamed to be happy about these material things.
Adrian Mole and The Weapons of Mass Destruction (A swan can break a man's arm, you know)
Halawi dates
Fry's Turkish Delight
Bertram Wooster
The last in the current series of New Tricks. Written by Roy Mitchell and a big improvement on the rest of the series.
Pickled onions
Bumerang (thanks C x)
Monica Dickens

List of loathe
IT issues, as always