Close your eyes...go on...do it.
Now inhale the wonderful aroma through your nostrils.
The wonderful smell of coffee reaches up and grabs hold of those senses, preparing your whole body for a wonderfully dreamily, creamily caffeine kick.
You put the rim of the cup to your mouth, preparing your taste buds for a hot, velvety, thick, rich tasting glug of coffee.
..."what in the world is this rubbish?" Declared my mother in a rather disgusted tone.
She rapidly wiped her mouth with the napkin.
"I asked for a latte, not a cup of froth!"
She used the spoon to search out her liquid before working herself up into a frothy lather.
I looked into her cup.
I understood completely.
In a well known department store in our home city of Sunderland, it seems quite adequate to serve a latte with less than a half of the cup filled with coffee (black) and over half of the cup filled with froth.
No, not milk...froth.
Yet, the price of this rip off was decidedly more expensive than a (full) cup of coffee with UHT milk provided.
My mother was more than insensed.
Having thought about this, I remember experiencing something similar somewhere else....sometime.
Is a latte really a translation of 'a cup of froth with a bit of a dreg of coffee in the bottom' (but we'll charge you more for it because it's got a Mediterranean name)?
Does this happen anywhere else in the country? Or are they playing on the gentle temperaments of us up north, figuring we'll accept any rotten crap that's flung our way? Watch out...I think we've had enough now. (And we know without tasting it if you've spat in it!)
Saturday, 16 August 2014
You may have heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge, as the trend sweeps the US, but will it break through the borders of the UK? The answer is YES!
The challenge is the brainchild of Boston College baseball player, Pete Frates, who now suffers from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) otherwise known as Motor Neurone Disease and is in aid of raising funds for the charity. The challenge is just as it says on the tin: pour a bucket of ice over your own head. Simples! Then nominate someone else to do it.
If this challenge proves too much for your dainty person, then a monetary donation (of $100/£100 to ALS) can bail you out, however, most people do the challenge and give a donation (of $10/£10) it is for charity after all.
So, initially, the challenge was accepted by Pete's Boston team mates, followed by the Red Sox team (which he was tipped to play for), however, more recently Justin Timberlake, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey took the icey buckets onto their barnets'. By all accounts, Barak Obama has also been nominated, but politely declined, offering the monetary donation instead.
Having watched some pretty extreme ice buckets from the warm comfort of my living room, I relaxed in the knowledge that I had some time before my name was thrown in the hat, as it hadn't seemed to have reached UK soil....then I noticed Darren Fletcher of Manchester United fame and Paul Scholes had stepped up to the drenching...oh-oh!
So, if you want to nominate me, I'll be....er....somewhere else...where there's no internet connection...or phone line...so, er... Who do I make the cheque payable to?...
follow me @katesvie
Friday, 15 August 2014
When people realise that I don't have a University qualification, because I didn't go, they jump to conclusions. They think I'm not intelligent enough to do a degree. I see them pull their shoulders back in an 'I'm superior to you' stance. They figure that I just strolled my way through my studies, not giving a monkey's if I passed or not.
I then have to go through my explanation of why I didn't go and why I'm so happy that I didn'tgo. It has nothing to do with a lack of intellect...at all.
Yesterday, I watched the news showing many, many snippets of students eagerly, nervously clutching the envelope bearing the results of their 'A'-Level results. Each student hoping upon hope that they would get the grades they need to gain access to the university of their choice- a university that would lead them down the road to their chosen career, where they would flourish and thrive as a Doctor/Lawyer/Business Tycoon.
All of the students had high, high hopes and excitement of their future.
I was one of those students once, hanging on to that envelope. But for me I was terrified to open it.
I wasn't caught in the excitement of leaving home. Leaving my family. Leaving my friends.
I didn't want to go. At all.
As a home body, I would have rather stayed at home and attended the local university.
Why didn't I?
Because I wanted to write. I wanted to go into copyrighting, editing, magazine writing etc. but unfortunately for me, my local university didn't offer anything that remotely covered that.
I would have to go further afield. Lancaster and York were the places I was targeted for.
As my pals excitedly ripped their envelopes open and screeched with delight "I got in! I got in!" we all jumped around and hugged and I grinned like an idiot for them. My heart plummeted. This was not me.
I had worked so hard during my studies. I had really enjoyed the subjects I'd read. But I was simply not ready for this next step.
I could hear those kids with the mobile phones (the posh, rich ones at the time!) telling 'mummy' and 'daddy' of their marvellous intellect, how it had been a walk in the park and that now, they were going to 'uni'.
I snuck away, sticking my unopened envelope into my bag, ramming it right to the bottom and waited for the bus, hoping it would get to me before the hoards of squealers did.
When I got home, I opened my envelope while my mam and dad were there.
I got the grades
I got into university.
After much ahh-ing and tea and chocolate and great big sob sniffles. My mam and dad had a good old chuckle at me.
"Dear me, girl! You don't have to go! It's not compulsory! Don't be so silly!" Mam huggles me and bestowed a box of tissues on me.
When I explained that I just didn't know what I wanted, that I really wanted to go in the direction of writing, but didn't want to leave home, we all agreed that a year out would be a really good decision, then I could reassess, and see how I felt, being another year older, and inevitably wiser.
Sighing with relief, I decided to get a job and see how it went.
Ironically, I began work at the local university. I loved it and it felt great making the new students', who were away from home, feel comfortable.
As the year went by, my dad's health deteriorated. I postponed my going to university again, and maintained my job, while doing hospital visits with my mam and dad.
As the years went by, I stayed in this situation. It was fine (other than my dad's health) and I was happy (and envied by my friends') earning money.
Some friends dropped out of university, devastated that their hopes and dreams were shattered.
Some friends are still studying (and probably will be to the end of their days!)
My dad passed away.
If I had gone to university, my course would have lasted 4 years. I would have left university and I would have only had 10 months with my dad before he died.
My decision not to go meant I had every day with my dad. I have all of those memories, which I wouldn't have had if I had gone away.
I haven't missed university at all and I'm right where I want to be in life: I write, I edit and I'm happy.
Sometimes things happen for a reason!
Friday, 18 July 2014
I was sitting, minding my own business in my car.
The queue we were in seemed never ending, and my rascal in the back was getting a little fidgety.
Oh no!, we weren't in gridlock, we were in a queue at the 'drive thru' of a popular fast food outlet. I won't state the variety of outlet due to legalities.
Something caught my eye in the car infront. There seemed to be a lot of activity going on. I focused and stared in through the back window, trying to make out what on earth was happening.
Then I made it out.
A rather rotund woman was trying to haul her heavy frame out of the front passenger seat. But instead of exiting through the door, she was facing towards the middle of the car.
What on earth?
I kept watching, rascal had also found the spectacle fascinating.
The woman hauled, hauled and hauled until she was turned towards the back seat, her backside pressed against the front windscreen.
She began to thrust her body through the terribly small gap between the drivers seat and the passengers seat. However, at that point, the driver began to inch forward, and halted as the assistant wandered towards them with his ordering machine.
The woman frantically pulled and pulled on the seats trying desperately to get herself through, but, as much as she tried, she was jammed stuck.
The driver wound down the window as the order taker arrived at the car, not raising his eyes, he asked for their order.
The mutterings were indecipherable until he asked the wedged woman to clarify what she wanted.
The young assistant glanced into the car and as he mentally took in the vast legging clad backside I witnessed a variety of expressions starting with 'what the...?!' To 'Is that a backside?' Then 'what the **** is she doing?' To 'does she need help?' He stammered, flapped his hand a little debating as to if he should reach on in there. He decided against all and stepped away from the vehicle as the driver drove on round to the payment point.
He was still staring at the back of the car with his jaw slack when it was my turn to place my order.
"Hi, can I take your order please?"
"Yes, I'd like a ticket to the viewing of how that woman is going to get out of that position" I smiled and the young lad chuckled shaking his head.
I placed the order and followed the wedged woman around to the collection point.
The driver pulled away and I waited behind to collect my order.
So what happened in the end?
As I left the drive thru, I caught sight of the driver, out of the car, pushing the woman with all of his might. She did eventually pop out of her jam. He opened the back passenger door and she rolled out. Standing up incredibly quickly she started on the driver (obviously her husband), shoving him while giving him a piece her mind, incredibly loudly.
Me? I had a very comfortable drive home and a tasty tea!
I was on a rare shopping trip recently, and not of the food variety!
I was looking forward to it so much, dolled up, heels on, purse in bag and child free....perfect.
Not interested in stopping for coffee, I hit the shops, clothes, clothes and a bit of make up...off I went.
Deciding to go it alone has it's negatives, but I wanted to concentrate on myself (seeing as it happens so rarely), I didn't want anyone taking my time (selfish- yes, I know).
So, anyway, into the first store I went and threw myself into the rails of clothes....literally.
Yes, it was drizzling a little and as I stepped onto their dazzlingly shiny clean floor (as I thought) I soon realised that it was a puddle...on tiling.
I skidded half the length of the shop before plunging, full speed into a rail of men's speedos. I'm talking the budgie smuggler type, not even nice swim shorts. To make it a little more embarrassing, the rail moved with me, making a loud groan as the wheels locked and screeched across the floor. It was Saturday. 11:00am...just to let you imagine how full the store was.
Ducking down, I tottered as best as I could out of the way and decided the best course of action was to leave the store and start again elsewhere.
Off I went.
I entered the next shop more discreetly. I wandered quietly amongst the clothes, minding my own business when I felt a nudge.
"Can you get that down please" I glanced to my left and saw an old lady, with a zimmerframe, eagerly glancing up, pointing. I looked in that direction and saw a bustier. A bit like those burlesque tops...get my drift? I almost asked what size she wanted, before simply doing what she asked and handed her the first one on the rail, before walking away.
I felt a nudge.
"I need an 18" said the woman. I looked at the woman, feeling a little irate, but, I walked back to the rail and looked for an 18
"Hmmm looks like they're out of that size, sorry" I smiled regretfully.
"When will they be getting them in?" She asked
I collared an assistant and left them together as I headed to the shoes.
Losing myself in the wonderful array of footwear, I sat down to try a shoe when I felt a nudge.
"I want to try this on" she sat next to me, her large rear pushing me off the seat as she lifted her foot in my direction.
She had to be kidding me...right?
She wanted me to take her orthopaedic shoe of her smelly foot and wrap a platform heeled, strappy espadrille onto it.
I slammed my shoe onto the floor and grabbed the assistant before beating a hasty retreat.
On leaving the store, I realised I'd left my handbag on the floor next to the seat where I was about to try the shoe.
I re entered the store. The woman was lazing back in the chair, while the poor sales assistant dealt with the footwear. There was my bag, right next to them.
I dashed in made my apologies as I grabbed my bag and ran.
Unfortunately, I fell foul of the damp floor once again at the entrance, and full steam ahead, slipped and fell right out of the door. Landing, full force on my bottom on the soaking pavement outside.
I was near to tears, but adamant that I was going to purchase something that day, I entered a department store.
I felt a little more calmed and decided that after a purchase, I was going to have a large hot chocolate...with chocolate cake.
My first half an hour in the store was much nicer. A lovely perusal, followed by a wonderful find. Taking a beautiful top into the changing room, I tried the top on. Gorgeous! I would buy it!
Taking the top off, it jammed. Trying to lift it over my head, both arms over my head, the top stuck at my shoulders. I pulled at the hem with my finger tips. Nothing.
The top was covering my shoulders, neck and head. My arms jammed solid next to my ears, reaching for the stars. I realised I hadn't loosened the button at the back of the neck. I tried to bend my elbows, to no avail.
I backed against the wall, feeling the blood draining out of my hands.
"Help" I mumbled.
Shrugging my shoulders, I tried to pull the top back on. It wasn't going to happen.
I started to feel a little claustrophobic. I thought about bumbling out of the changing cubicle to get help, but realised that I was in a department store, and currently my bra was exposed. I was not, under any circumstances leaving the cubicle like this.
I could just see my area through the weave of the material and grabbed the coat hanger with my hand. Twisting it round, I tried to hook the button bit towards my other hand. No go.
I really needed to get out of the top, which I was going off very quickly. I shrugged and pulled and shifted and grappled, bumped against the walls and eventually tore the shoulder of the top. The top gave way at one side and I slid it back on properly. However, I had pulled a muscle in my neck, which caused my head to tighten to my left shoulder.
Unbuttoning the top properly, I painfully removed it and pulled my comfy, familiar jumper on. I sat down carefully, trying to move my neck. I put the torn top on the hanger and checked the price.
The worst £65 I would ever pay. For a top, that having studied the rip,was totally ruined. But that's me, I had to buy it. Out I stumbled, breathing the air of the department store freely, rather than through material, my head veering to the left to compensate the pain.
I got to the cash desk where the woman scanned the top, looking at me as if I was insane.... Just don't go there...
I thanked her...can you believe it....I THANKED her for the stress I had gone through! And carried my bag through the store. Standing on the escalator to travel down, I felt a familiar nudge.
Turning round I saw the old woman.
"Can you hold my bag? My shopping is so heavy, I can't carry it to the bus stop"
The bus stop was the opposite direction to my car, and the woman had gone to town on clothes shopping, but, hey, my day couldn't get much worse, I might aswell help the poor woman out.
After all, it was the end of a disastrous trip, at least a little word of thanks would brighten my day.
The hot chocolate and cake? It turned into alcohol in the evening!
The shirt? Got fixed! I took it to a dry cleaner who did repairs and it looks fab.
My neck? Took three weeks to unhinge my nerve
The old woman? I took her to her bus stop, got her onto the bus with her shopping, and the bus left without a thanks or a pat on the arm.
Think I'll stick to housework!
Follow me on twitter @katesvie
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
We've all been there haven't we.
You're off out, time has gotten away from you and now it's a mad dash to get everyone sorted before you leave.
Well, it happened to me. I had a meeting one evening. I had my day sorted.
The morning was devoted to the rascals, the afternoon was devoted to the housework, while husband was devoted to the rascals. Once the housework was done, I was to prepare the rascals tea, bath them, into pjs, freshen up and dress myself before leaving quietly, while husband dutifully prepared supper and chased them off to bed at the relevant hours.
Yeah...that was the plan.
Happily ironing....no, there is so many things wrong with those words, let me start again.
Ironing, I happened to glance at the clock, and shrieked. I had lost an hour.
Considering my 'to do list' I slapped some sandwiches together, pink milk and shoved the fruit bowl next to their plates so that husband could grab a variation and create a fruit salad. I glanced at myself in the mirror, and decided that the next bulk of time would need to be making me look half decent.
Shower taken, hair straightened, make up applied, frock on. I halted at the heels when I realised rascals needed their bath.
Decision made, three in at once.
Water running, infacare in, while husband and I grappled with rascals and clothing. Three in the bath. Eventually.
All was back on track.
Stepping back to take a seat on the toilet lid (as you do) shock startled me as my behind went much further into the toilet bowl than I expected. Not only was the lid up, but the seat was too. My posh frock clad bottom was centimeters from the water in the u bend. And I was stuck.
My rascals got the giggles, water flailing in every direction as they clambered to catch a glance of their mother wedged in the toilet bowl.
I hollered out to my husband, who was in a 'who's pjs are where' mode. He strode into the bathroom in an exasperated manner, before creasing up in hysteria.
This was not good.
With a little help, and the background music of chuckles, I regained my demeanor, and began washing down the rascals...
...It was the figure that did it. A small, reasonably unoffensive figure. That each child wanted. The fighting began. As our youngest is not far off a baby, I grabbed rascal #3 to wrap up in a towel and begin the drying, that's when it went wrong. As I leaned in, one of the rascals (currently unidentified) obviously considered me another threat to their securing ownership of said figure and slam dunked a jug of water on my perfectly styled hair, ensuring, also, not one millimeter of make up would survive. (This child should be hired for the SAS- the aim was second to none!)
I slowly got to my feet, noticing the silence. Everyone looking at the bedraggled mother that had, for around three minutes, looked rather professional (if I do say so myself!).
With the water streaming down my back, I simply handed towel covered rascal #3 to husband, who took said child, while biting his lip hard. I'm sure I saw blood. He knew that there would be BIG trouble if so much as a snort came from him.
I left the bathroom and a quick glance at my watch told me I had fifteen minutes to get to my meeting.
Taking a deep breath, I shut the bedroom door, and got to work.
Thankfully, I made my meeting in time- I don't know how.
My rascals? They were sleeping soundly when I returned, and a large glass of wine was wating for me.
My dress? That went on a short holiday to the dry cleaner.
What did I wear? I turned up in my usual attire in the end- the trusty jeans and top and my quick dried frizz of a mop was pulled up in a ponytail. Still, it didn't matter, I came out of the meeting in a better position than I went in! Go figure!
Saturday, 28 June 2014
My husband and I were speaking about a good friend of ours, who's father was in a bad way. We had known him for many years, my husband, even longer than myself.
We were receiving daily updates from our friend, who had, along with his family, had been spending sleepless nights at the hospital in a bedside vigil. Expecting the worst at any time.
The text came one Sunday morning. We were having breakfast at the time, and discussing how awful a time the family were having, and how cruel life could be.
The text read:
'Had an awful night. Hospital all night. Dad in a really bad way. He was in so much pain and entirely incoherent. Whole family were called in to be with him. The staff on site did all they could, they were absolutely wonderful, but unfortunately'
That's where it stopped.
My husband and I looked at each other, sadness in our hearts for the family left behind. Debating whether to call, we decided a text would be better than interrupting the grief of a family spending time together so soon after the passing of a loved one. Between us, we quickly composed a text and sent it:
'So, so sorry to hear the awful news. We both send our condolences to you and your family. If there's anything we can do, let us know.'
We continued eating our breakfast in subdued silence, flicking aimlessly through the tabloid.
A couple of minutes later, the mobile chirped another text through to us.
We downed our cutlery, coffee cups and newspapers, and, adapting our grief ridden faces, we glued our heads together to read the response from the phone:
'Wot? He's not dead! Unfortunately, the consultant wasn't on site, but he came in on his night off, put my dad through a tricky op, and he's made good progress this morning! '
We looked at each other, mortified, my hand slapped across my mouth.
"Oh no! I can't believe we've done that!" I mumbled through closed fingers
"What are we going to say now?" My husband muttered
So, here went another compilation:
'Oh, really sorry about that mate...it was just the way your text was worded and ended! Well that's really good news then! We wish him all the best, and a speedy recovery!"
The moral of the story! Never jump to conclusions, and always wait a day (and a half to make sure) before responding to any text of this nature!
The friend? He's still a very good friend of the family, a fantastic support, and one we value greatly. A one in a million!