I've made a decision to start writing down my dreams again, and to keep on at it properly. I've done it on and off for the past 12 years, since I was in Year 10 at school, but for the past three years I've hardly written down any. It's a shame really, because I've always had a great interest in dreams (both my own and other people's), and I love reading back over ones I've written down in the past.

I'll only bother writing them down here if I think they're particularly interesting or significant, though I'll write them all down, in note form at least, in a notebook. Before I start writing down present ones, though (beginning with two I had last night), I think I'll write one now that I had last August, because it worried me quite a lot.

I dreamed I was lying on my back in bed, with both arms above my head on my pillow. I simply could not move them, and I realised it was because they were being held back by an evil spirit or thing! I struggled, trying over and over again to break free, but it was no use; I simply could not move my arms. I was absolutely terrified of this evil thing which I knew was by my head. It started whispering horrible things in my ear, and I think, though I'm not sure, that one of the things it said was "You're worthless". I tried shouting out "Help me, help me", hoping that my parents would overhear me and come and help, but all that would come out was my normal voice. I felt like I was about five years old, wishing my mum would come in and make me feel better. I was also saying "Let go of me, let go of me" to the evil thing. Luckily then I woke up, but I was still so petrified that I didn't even dare reach out a hand to pick up my phone to check the time, in case the evil spirit was still around, for a full ten minutes. I kept hearing a strange noise, too, which in that situation also frightened me.
Now as it turned out, in the morning the fire or burglar alarm's battery was found to be running low, and the strange recurring noise I'd heard during the night was the warning noise the alarm makes when that happens. But why on earth would I dream about a voice in my ear telling me that I'm worthless, or something very similar? I don't actually think I'm worthless, and nor do I think anyone else thinks that. Some people might say "It's only a dream, it means nothing", but I can't help but feel that it does mean something or reflect some aspect of my mind; I just don't know what.

Then I had one back in October where the window in my bedroom was open, and was bigger and higher up than in real life. I went to close it, and was lifted up towards it by some invisible evil force; terror struck my heart, and I said loudly "No, no, let go... help me, help me". I was trying to shout but I couldn't. Luckily just then I woke up, and found that like in the other dream above, I was lying flat on my back with both my arms on the pillow above my head. I was still saying "Help me" as I woke up.

I think it's time I kept a list of books I've read so far this year, and am reading at the moment. Every time I start a new one I'll post it on here. I got loads of books for Christmas and my birthday, and last year I also ordered myself lots from Amazon, and all this has resulted in a queue of books not just as long as my arm, but of both joined together with extra on top. Probably beween 30 and 40 books in total! I think it'll be interesting for me to look back on, in the future. So, here goes.

Books I'm reading at the moment;

'Wild Wales' by George Borrow
'Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes' & 'The Amateur Emigrant' by Robert Louis Stevenson

Book I've read so far this year;

'Islomania' by Thurston Clarke
'City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi' by William Dalrymple
'The Lusiads' by Luis Vaz de Camões
'Dark Star Safari' by Paul Theroux
'Coast to Coast' by Jan Morris
'The Motorcycle Diaries' by Ernesto 'Che' Guevara
'At Home: A Short History of Private Life' by Bill Bryson

All so far have been excellent!

(no subject)
I've been on Livejournal quite a lot of times since I last posted, but until now I always spent so long reading other people's responses to the 'question of the day' that by the time I'd finished, I didn't feel like posting on my own blog any more! I am determined to post more often from now on, though.

So much seems to have happened since my last post!

I went up to Manchester to stay with Dave from 18-22 December, and we did lots of nice things.
We drove to Chester for the day - we had a delicious and good value lunch at a Brazilian Churrascaria, looked round and took photos of the beautiful historic buildings in the town centre, visited the Grosvenor Museum, walked along the river for a bit, said hello to the famous clock (which is apparently the second-most photographed one in the UK, after Big Ben), and went into Chester Cathedral, though we had to leave the latter again pretty soon because they charged quite a lot for entry. I also bought some candyfloss at the Christmas market - I noticed a stall selling ostrich burgers and wished I could buy one (to see if it was as lovely as the one I had in Auckland a couple of years ago), but it was after lunch so I wasn't really hungry enough.
Apart from our Chester day trip, we also went into Manchester city centre and visited a couple of places that for some reason I had never actually been to before, despite having always wanted to; Chinatown and the Manchester Museum. Chinatown isn't that big, but I enjoyed wandering round the Oriental supermarkets, and bought a tin of sugar cane in syrup and a small block of palm sugar. I think with the palm sugar, I'll try pounding some up and sprinkling it onto pieces of fresh pineapple, before grilling it so that the sugar caramelises. We had lunch at Chinese restaurant, and aside from the quality of food, which was good, I could tell that it was an authentic restaurant (not just a tourist trap) by the fact that we were surrounded by tables of Chinese and other Oriental people who I assume are local to the Chinatown area. Well, I daresay some of them could have been tourists too, but still. No other Chinese restaurant I've been to in the UK had many other diners who didn't look white British. Another sign of authenticity was that although they did offer some typical dishes which you can get in any takeaway, they also had on the menu things like fish mouth soup and shark's fin soup. I was quite shocked to see the latter, to be honest.
Manchester Museum was very good, and amongst other things they had really interesting displays about weapons and traditional cultures from around the world. This included bows and arrows from Native American tribes and from Asia, an old English longbow, crossbows from Europe and Asia, shields and spears from Pacific islands and Africa, daggers and swords from Japan and other countries in Asia... They also had great big examples of tapu from Fiji and its equivalents from other Pacific islands. Both Dave and I have examples of tapu which we bought when we were in Fiji. Tapu is a form of artwork - painting onto a fibrous paper made from very closely woven strips from the inner bark of the mulberry tree. I think my tapu, a painting of the map of Fiji with a beautiful border round it and little pictures of sailing boats and a traditional kava bowl, was painted with ink. (Kava, by the way, is a drink made from the powdered root of the yaqona plant; it numbs the tongue and mouth and is a kind of sedative. It also tastes a lot like muddy water. It's drunk a lot both socially and in traditional ceremonies in many of the Pacific islands.)
On the same day as Chinatown and Manchester Museum, we went to the Museum of the Greater Manchester Police, because it sounded really interesting from what I could find about it online. However, when we got there we saw that it was only open on Tuesdays and within a short time frame. Exasperatingly, it was a Tuesday but we'd arrived only ten minutes after it had closed! Opening times wasn't something I'd been able to discover online.
That evening we had a drink at Sinclair's Oyster Bar in the city centre, which is a very old and historic pub, and has lots of lovely wooden panelling on the walls inside. We sat at a table next to a window looking out at Manchester's version of the London Eye and some Christmas market stalls set up nearby. We were having a great time, but then a group of three middle-aged men asked if they could sit at the same table - the place was very busy so there wasn't much room anywhere else. We said yes, but to be honest I had secretly wanted to say no, because now I felt a bit awkward. We couldn't say anything to each other without being overheard, and we couldnt snuggle up together because of them sitting opposite us. After ten minutes or so we finished our drinks and left, earlier than I had wanted to when we first went in.
On my last night in Manchester Dave's parents took us to a concert they go to every year; a Christmas one at Bridgewater Hall, by the Hallé Orchestra, Choir, Youth Choir and Children's Choir. Apart from Christmas carols, one of the pieces they played was the Troika from 'Lieutenant Kijé' - I love that piece. I loved the humour at the beginning of the second half, when the French horn section walked to their seats dressed in massive inflatable Santa suits!
Before we left for the concert that evening, I made Korean pancakes ('Hodduk') for everyone (Dave helped a bit too). I was trying to recreate the type of ones Dave and I ate and loved in Auckland back in 2009. The kind I loved the most in Auckland had melted cheese in the middle, but on this occasion I made ones with the traditional brown sugar and cinnammon filling instead. To make them, you mix up the dough and leave it to rise for an hour, before beating it down and then leaving it to rise again for another half an hour. Then you divide it up into pieces, flatten them, put a bit of the filling in the middle and make back up into balls. Stick them in a frying pan and press down with a spatula. Flip over after a couple of minutes or a bit longer depending on the size and thickness of the pancake. When both sides are lightly browned, they are ready to eat.

For Christmas the main thing my parents gave me was a Historic Royal Palaces membership for a year; this means that I can get into the Tower of London, Hampton Court, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and the Royal Banqueting House for free, and for however many times I want! So far I've been to the Tower of London and the Banqueting House. The Banqueting House was a disappointment overall (the painted ceiling is amazing, but that's all there is, and I was expecting there to be interesting stuff about the execution of Charles I.) The Tower of London was great though, exactly like I thought it would be. It was fun to play the tourist! I crossed Tower Bridge too, before I got to the actual tower, something I'd never actually done before. I'd always wanted to go to the Tower of London, but was always put off by the cost. Saw the Crown Jewels, the room where the Royal Menagerie was kept, the Royal Armouries, the carved graffiti left by prisoners from centuries ago, and lots of other things/ places. It was fascinating. I got lots of good photos, though my fingers hurt when taking them because although sunny, it was so extremely cold. When I go back again, I'll go on a Beefeater tour to see what it's like.
After I left the Tower I walked north to Brick Lane and bought some jalebi from one of the Bangladeshi sweetshops there. Those things are amongst my favourite sweets of all time, along with some melt-in-the-mouth Canadian maple sugar sweets in the shape of maple leaves, coffee creams, homemade bonfire toffee, and chocolate truffles. Jalebi are incredibly addictive, but unfortunately also very unhealthy!

The big news at New Year was that my sister Kate got engaged! The wedding's in May and Emma and I are bridesmaids. We got our dresses a few weeks ago, from the West End because there's much more choice there than in St Albans, but off the peg ones rather than otherwise.

Dave came down to visit the weekend before mine, Emma and Kate's birthday at the end of January. We, Emma and Mark went into London on the Sunday to see the Chinese New Year celebrations. (Kate and Andrew couldn't come because of an appointment with a wedding car person.) Unfortunately we arrived just too late for the parade, but we still had fun wandering around soaking in the atmosphere! After our wander around Chinatown we went on to Trafalgar Square for the official opening ceremony, but the place was so packed we couldn't realy get much of a view at all. I've never been in Trafalgar Square when it's been so crowded before. We did hear all the firecrackers that were set off at the start, though, and got a glimpse of some of the flashes from them. They sounded quite dramatic.
After a while we left and had lunch at the Brazilian churrascaria Dave and I went to after we'd seen the Royal Wedding celebrations at Pall Mall and outside Buckingham Palace last year. I'd been raving about the food there to Emma and Kate for months afterwards! It was just as good as the last time - I absolutely stuffed myself with various types of meat carved from the skewers, especially medium-rare topside, pepper and ribeye steak. It was all so delicious I simply had to have as much as I could!

Dave also came down last weekend. Unfortunately I had to work on the Saturday from 9-5, but in the evening we went out to an Indian restaurant. I'm not actually keen on curry or spicy food, so all I had was an egg paratha, a garlic naan bread and some vegetable fried rice. The latter two were delicious, and the paratha was nice too but by then I was too full to appreciate it properly! Dave really liked his chicken korma, too.
On the Sunday we had a Go Ape session at Wendover Woods in Buckinghamshire. This is an adventure thing where you get harnessed up and then climb up into the treetops and go down massive zip slides and climb from tree to tree over various forms of rope bridges. They also have a couple of 'Tarzan jumps' where you swing out on a rope and crash into large rope netting which you cling onto and climb up onto the next tree station above. We both had a really, really good time; I love things like this which get your adrenaline pumping!

One of those days...
It was 'one of those days' today, at work at any rate. I was doing a 7-3 shift. First of all I woke up to find that my cold, which had started mildly yesterday, had taken a big turn for the worse overnight. Then once I got out of the house, I'd already cycled for a couple of minutes along Hatfield Road when I suddenly realised I was wearing my trainers instead of my black work shoes, so I had to go back and change; then just as I entered the car park at work (I cycle through the car park to get to the bike shed) I collided with a supermarket trolley someone had left in the middle of the path - I had just turned a corner, but a little too sharply and at too fast a speed, so that even though I saw the trolley there, I couldn't stop in time. Luckily the bike was fine, and I escaped with only a small scrape across my stomach and a pain where my right middle finger joins the palm of my hand.
Then once I got into the bakery section I had to restock the cream cakes and other chilled bakery items section, which I don't mind doing at all in itself (in fact it was nice to walk into the chiller and cool down, having arrived at work quite hot and sweaty), only there were about five cages of stuff to put out whereas normally there's only three maximum, and so it took me longer than I wanted to get it out. I felt a bit stressed because I could see that the French sticks needed putting out once they'd cooled down enough, as well as the fresh croissants/ pain au chocolat/ cinnamon swirls etc., and the muffins and bagels and paninis needed bagging up and putting out (jobs I had to do), and I was already behind because of the chilled items taking so long to put out. 'D', one of my colleagues who was packing, was also stressed out because there was so much stuff to pack. When 'J' (one of the managers above the bakery manager) came in and made a comment about there not being much stuff on the shelves, 'D' just told her straight out that we were all going as fast as we could!
The rest of my shift went OK, until just as I was about to leave, when a middle-aged woman appeared and wanted a photo cake done. I was actually at the bread slicing machine, but the woman and my colleague 'I' were standing to the side of me so I got to see and hear what happened next. She said "I'm not sure if you'll be able to do it, it's quite a silly picture". "Well, so long as it's not copyrighted it should be OK" I piped up. She looked at me a bit coyly and said "Oh no, it's not copyrighted, it's just my husband being a bit silly." She took the photo from an envelope and showed it to 'I' - I craned to see, and she moved it in my direction. WHAT HAS BEEN SEEN CANNOT BE UNSEEN! It was a photo of an old man facing up to the camera, completely naked except for a mankini! 'I' had already told her that our photocake printer had broken down so we couldn't do any photocakes today anyway, which was true, and then after she showed us the photo he told her something else, but I didn't catch what he said. She wandered away happily though, so I think she must have been expecting her photo not to get printed anyway.

Writer's Block: Cornucopia of colors
What do you love about autumn?

The smell of autumn that you get on certain days, early in the morning when you step out of the door.

The smell of bonfire smoke in the air, and the squeals and crackles of fireworks in the distance and in front of us at our annual family Bonfire Night party. The vivid colours of fireworks exloding, and of the flames of the bonfire lighting up the darkness.

Dry fallen leaves. Even now, aged 26, I love jumping in a big pile of dry crispy colourful leaves at the side of a road, if there's nobody else around...

Once Bonfire Night is over, there's the knowledge that winter and Christmas will soon be here.

When I was in years 5 and 6 at junior school, I loved autumn because it was conker season. I loved playing conkers! (If anyone from outside Britain happens to read this, a conker is a type of nut, the seed/fruit of the horse chestnut tree.) Aside from the game itself, I loved the fact that usual barriers seemed to be lifted; so long as they had a conker on a string in their hand, then my shyness would temporarily disappear and I'd approach anyone asking for a game, even if they were a person from another year group I'd never spoken to before, or were a person I didn't usually like that much. And they'd accept with pleasure. People I'd never really spoken to much at all would ask me for a game. The general atmosphere was that anyone could ask anyone else for a game of conkers in conker season, and I loved that. I loved collecting conkers too.

I also loved collecting the apples from our big cooking apple tree in our back garden. I used to do it with my two sisters; it was so fun, whether you were one of the two who climbed up and picked, or the one on the ground catching the apples the other two threw down.

Happy today!
I played rugby today and I think it must rank as one of our best performances ever, despite only winning 6-5. This is because we had to play the whole match with only 14 players, and the opposition refused to drop one also so played with the full 15. The sporting thing to do would have been to drop one player to match numbers, but they chose not to. This made our eventual victory all the sweeter! Our fitness must be pretty good, to play the whole match with one player less than the opposition and still win. It was 0-0 at half time, and they scored a try in the far corner soon afterwards, but missed the conversion. Then they gave away a few penalties within kicking distance of their posts, and we successfully kicked two of them. Our play was a lot more structured than usual, sticking to a clear gameplan (usually we kind of forget about gameplans and just play what's in front of us.) I'm so proud of us at the moment, because I think we showed a tremendous amount of heart, and never gave up for a second.

Personally I think I had a good game - I got the ball quite a lot and managed to carry it a long way in contact before getting tackled down. Plus I managed to steal the ball a couple of times from opposition players on the ground after they'd been tackled. I felt good in the scrums, too, and in defence.

I have two injuries though. Five minutes before the end, I got handed off in the throat, and as I clung on to her to bring her down, some part of her crushed the inside of my thigh somehow. As I hit the ground my neck got strained, and then one of my teammates tackled her and she landed on top of me. I think my throat has been damaged internally, because I get an awful stabbing pain whenever I swallow anything - food, drink, my own saliva - and a slightly lesser one when I lift up my chin or turn my head to either side. I can pinpoint the exact spot under my jaw where it all stems from. There's no bruising on the outside. Hopefully it's just temporary... My neck hurts a bit but no more than it has for a couple of years now, and there's no bruising where my thigh got crushed but it's still really painful. Too bad I've got work tomorrow at 7am!

It turned out that one of the opposition today was a girl I played rugby with at uni in Swansea a few years ago! It was lovely to speak to her again, though it felt a bit strange to be playing against her rather than with her.

Then to top off the day, I arrived back home to a delicious venison stew, and Christmas pudding with cream! (We always make two Christmas puddings - the big one we have on Christmas Day, and the second slightly smaller one we save to have at some point during the rest of the year.) I spoke to Dave after dinner which was as lovely as always. I cannot wait until next weekend, when he's coming down here for our family Bonfire Night party!

Catching up
So these are a few things that I've done over the summer.

- Went to the last day of the 1st Test match of the series between England and India, at Lords. It was a historic Test because it was both the 2000th Test to take place and also I think the 100th between India and England. It only cost £20 to get in! It was the first time I'd seen a professional cricket match other than on TV or online. I had to queue for about an hour to get in, but obviously it was well worth it! England won by 196 runs, having managed to bowl India out for 261. There was a good atmosphere, but there was a stage when I was quite worried that India would manage to hold out for a draw. Every wicket we got I greeted with a sigh of relief.

- Notting Hill Carnival! I'd always wanted to see this, but had never made it until this year. It was brilliant - wonderful lively atmosphere and music, vividly colourful and imaginative costumes, and lovely food; I tried ackee & saltfish with dumplings for the first time, and it was great. I also had some jerk chicken, but although tender it was a bit too hot for my liking. I went with Emma and Mark, and I managed to get a lot of photos that I'm proud of. Before we arrived at Notting Hill we went into an Asian food store and I bought some delicious jalebis. The streets had tons of stalls outside shopfronts, selling 'White Stripe' beer. There were also stalls selling green coconuts which the stallholder hacked the top off and stuck a straw in for people to drink the coconut water from - I hadn't seen this since Dave and I were in Rio a coupe of years ago! That brought back memories... Some of the stalls also sold cocktails, both in normal glasses and in coconuts and pineapples! They were quite pricey though so we didn't get any (plus we didn't discover these stalls until we were already heading back.)
Aside from Notting Hill Carnival, Emma and I had come to visit the Notting Hill Travel Bookshop, which we had noticed from a newspaper article was closing down and selling all stock at 50%. However, obviously once we arrived there we realised that like all the other shops in the vicinity of the Carnival, it was closed. Plus we could see that nearly all the books had already gone anyway, so even if it had been open there wasn't much stock left to look at.

- Scottish road trip with Dave! We went for two weeks in August. I'll leave all the details for another post, but in brief, we went to Edinburgh, the Cairngorms, Culloden battlefield, Loch Ness, Fort William, Ben Nevis, the Isle of Mull, the Isle of Iona and Loch Lomond. It was so, so good to be back on the road! I'll put some of my photos up in another post.

- Operation. Keyhole surgery to remove a large cyst from my left ovary. It was successful, but nearly two months later I'm still getting exactly the same sort of pains in exactly the same area that I did before the operation! Which makes me worried that the cause of the pains wasn't the cyst at all, or was only partly due to it. Yet what else could it be, because I assume nothing untoward showed up in my blood tests, or they'd have mentioned it to me, and if there was anything that would have showed up on my ultrasound tests aside from the cyst, they'd have told me about that as well. I think I'll leave it for another couple of weeks, in case it's just my insides taking longer than usual to heal properly. If I'm still getting the pains after that then I'll go back to the doctor.

- I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago about another issue, namely that I was feeling terribly depressed a lot, and very emotional at odd moments. I still do feel depressed and flat quite often, in fact. He's put me on the waiting list for counselling, but it's a long list apparently so I'll be waiting for quite a while.

- The weekend after my operation I went with Dave to the engagement party of one of my best friends, R, and her fiance A, in Guildford. I've known them ever since I lived with R all the way through uni at Swansea. We had a great barbecue in their back garden and went on to a cocktail bar in town with a small dancefloor and a live pianist and singers. I really liked that place.

- I bought a bike and have been cycling to and from Hatfield for work instead of getting the bus. This has meant that I've already made up the cost of the bike plus helmet, combination lock & bike lights, due to the amount I've saved from not paying bus fares. I've also been cycling to and from rugby training every Monday and Wednesday, and today when I went to Westminster Lodge to go swimming (I swam lengths for an hour and a half), I cycled there and back along the old railway path. I even cycled to Redbourn and back for the two games of indoor cricket I've played so far this autumn (well, for the second one my Dad gave me a lift there, but I cycled back.)

- I've been following all of the Rugby World Cup. Luckily, because it was held in New Zealand it meant that in UK time the matches were held in the mornings - if they had been on in the afternoons or evenings then I'd have missed nearly all of them due to work and rugby. I also followed all of the the India - England Test and ODI cricket series.

Something to cheer me up a bit
I thought I'd make a list of my favourite smells, to cheer me up. So, in no particular order;

- Sorry to sound soppy here, but Dave. Wish I could bottle it up and take it around with me all day to sniff at odd moments.

- Cigarette smoke. I must be one of the very few non-smokers that actually likes the smell of cigarette smoke! I don't just like it, I love it. In fact, apart from my sisters I've never met any other non-smoker who likes it in the slightest. If I see someone smoking in the street near to me, I deliberately walk past where the smoke's going, just so I can get a sniff of it. Yet I've never smoked a cigarette before in my life, and all of my family are non-smokers too.

- Bonfire smoke. It instantly brings to mind Guy Fawke's Night. The primeval feeling I get when I'm staring at a bonfire in the dark; eating homemade toffee apples, and toasting marshmallows on skewers, at said bonfire; building up the bonfire when it gets low; feeling the heat of the fire on your face; watching fireworks in the crisp November air, wrapped up warm, sipping at mugs of delicious hot homemade soup and eating hot dogs and pizza made on French bread; bringing out the guy to throw on the bonfire; hearing the bangs and squeals of fireworks from other people's displays, and occasional catching a glimpse of the sparks.

- Incense smoke. It's so incredibly atmospheric! Such a delicious smell... I've always loved it, but since I got back from travelling it also reminds me of India, which makes it even more brilliant!

- Freshly cut grass. The ultimate smell of summertime!

- Old books. When I was at uni at Swansea, I used to go to the library and deliberately browse the shelves in the History and other departments, seeking out the oldest books I could find. The first thing I'd do after finding one was open it up and have a big sniff.

- The ink in the Times Magazine.

- Sketching pencils! I remember my housemates at Swansea laughing when I told them I loved this smell. I suppose it does sound a slightly odd.

- Cloves. One of the most Christmassy smells there are.

- Pine/ Spruce trees. Also a really Christmassy smell.

- Raw fish. I don't know why I love the smell so much, but I do. I love walking past the fish stall at the market in town!

- That smell you get sometimes when you leave the house quite early in the morning in September, October and November and the air just smells of autumn. I can't really describe it properly to be honest. I think it's the smell of the earth in the morning after it's rained a bit in the night, combined with the smell of fallen leaves.

- Freshly baked bread.

- Pizza. Every time I walk into town I pass by a Papa John's, and on the way back on the other side of the street I pass another pizza takeaway, and the smell drives me wild it's so good. It makes me want to walk in and order a large one and eat it all in one go, there and then. I never have bought any from either of them, though...

Really down :-(
I've ben enveloped in a grey cloud of depression today. I suppose staying inside for the majority of the day didn't help (no work today, or rugby.) I popped out to Morrisons to get some Diet Coke and a couple of tins of fruit and because I thought the sunshine would make me feel a bit better. On the way there I was just thinking about something one of the girls at rugby told me, about how New Zealand and Australia only let you have one of their year-long Working Visas if you're under 31, when I found myself saying to myself out loud "I just want to be free to wander the world". It was as if it had come straight from deep within me, from my unconscious, before my brain had time to take in what I was saying until I'd said it. The Voice Within had spoken. The seven- or eight-year-old who stuck her hand up and said "A wandering artist!", when asked as part of a group the 'what do you want to be when you grow up' question, is clearly still there within me.

It reminds me of a day a couple of weeks ago when I was sitting in the Travel section at Waterstones with a pile of travel guides next to me. This (plus looking at the Lonely Planet website, reading about various countries and looking at all the photos) is actually one of my favourite pastimes. I was looking at the photos in the Portugal Lonely Planet book, (for I find that Lonely Planet, along with Rough Guides, always seem to have the best photos) when I came across a very high aerial shot of a herd of deer running across a plain in one of Portugal's National Parks. Until then I had greatly enjoyed all of the other photos in various travel guides, felt extremely envious of people who were at those destinations now or had been in the past, and desperately wanted to be at them myself. But when I saw that photo, for some reason I was struck by a physical reaction so strong that I could not breath and my stomach flipped. It struck such a deep chord that all I could do was stare at it helplessly. It was more than just desperate longing, it was on a completely different level. I think it must be because the deer were obviously on the move, and I always want to be travelling onwards too; at the moment I feel completely stuck.

Feel like writing...
...and I have an awful lot to catch up on, so this will probably be a very long entry!

First of all, though, I want to post this link.


It's most of the entries that were sent in by members of the British public to the HIstory Matters website as part of the 'One Day in History' project, back in 2006. People were asked to write a diary/ blog entry of what they did on 17th October 2006, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. That way, a larger picture of everyday life in the early 21st century could be brought to life. I didn't hear about it at the time, so didn't do it myself, but I heard about it afterwards, and then suddenly remembered about the website now for some reason. Some people may think it's boring to read about other people's everyday life, but I don't. It's surprising how different many people's lives are from others, no matter how ordinary they think theirs are.

I had my operation on Tuesday 6th September - keyhole surgery to remove the cyst from my left ovary that has been there since at least Christmas. It was originally going to be at a hospital in Harpenden, on 8th September, but at the appointment I had with another specialist a week beforehand, he said that that was a mistake and he couldn't do it on the 8th. I had the choice of waiting until the end of October, or having it on the 6th at a hospital in Enfield. I went for the latter because I didn't want to wait around any longer.
Before I was put to sleep I warned the two anaesthetists about what happened the last time I had general anaesthetic. (This was ten years ago when I was in Year 10 at school and fractured my little finger in P.E.; because a chip had come off the bone I had to have two little screws put in to fasten it back on and also derotate my finger because it had got twisted round a bit.) When I came round from the anaesthetic, I was in such a daze that all I could see was the window on the other side of the room. I thought to myself "I think I'll just see if I can walk over to that window and look out", regarding it as a challenge. I didn't quite have tunnel vision but it was close. So I tried to get out of bed, but I felt something stopping me, so I tried to shove it out of the way.

I'll finish this entry tomorrow as I'm going to get up early to watch the Italy vs. USA Rugby World Cup match at 7.30.


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