Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Feel the Fear (and Go On Holiday)

Tom and I are shortly off on our hols. Our carbon footprint is tiny, more of a toe print actually, so I don’t feel guilty about that. In fact this is only our third package tour trip to the sun. Money, or rather the lack of it, has put the brakes on travelling and I still feel uneasy about taking off even on a cheap deal. But then I feel uneasy, full stop. Whilst Tom has been telling me, for years as it happens, that we need a proper break, I’ve been dragging my heels. We do, after all, live in a very beautiful part of the world and are both, engaged in fulfilling occupations but I accept the fact that I could get a tad too cosy here.

But, instead of looking forward to some time out in the sun, I found myself growing more apprehensive. Turning on the TV last week, having returned from the heaving metropolis of Carmarthen with some Matalan T-shirts, I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see a plane sprawled across Heathrow covered in foam. My concern is partly to do with being a complete and utter control freak (frankly I’d feel happier flying the plane myself, but I don’t suppose that would suit anyone else) but its also to do with the fact that when I go on holiday something goes wrong. Don’t believe me? Well, may I present the evidence…

All our friends are honeymooning on Corfu or Crete so Jay, the girls’ dad and I decide to be different and head for Morocco. We have no sooner touched down when Jay starts chucking up after a dodgy burger at Gatwick. He spends most of the next two days in the en-suite. On a tentative solo trip to see what’s beyond the hotel my pale, just-off-the plane skin, attracts every vendor in Tangier hoping to sell me something. I retreat back to our room and cry.

When Jay recovers we go on a day trip to Gibraltar. He gets bitten by a monkey.

Tangier sees rain for the first time in months.

On the penultimate evening we enjoy a ‘traditional’ Moroccan night with wonderful food. In the night the whole world drops out my bottom and I only just recover in time to catch the plane home.

Jay is interrogated at the airport by security guards who think he is carrying drugs. A ‘Midnight Express’ scenario threatens until they get bored and allow us to board.

Scene of the famous ‘ship wreck on the beach’ beauty stop. Also scene of Lily and I narrowly avoiding death by drowning.

Hurray! Tom and I head off for our first holiday together! We arrive at Kefalonia airport – my luggage does not. Na├»ve and experienced travellers that we are, we have not mixed cases and I have only the clothes I stand up in. The good news is the local shop sells clothes. The bad news is Susannah and Trinny wouldn’t be seen dead in them. I put on my new prison blue maternity tent for our evening meal and Tom tells me I look lovely. He later admits he is lying through his teeth but is too hungry to risk me having a paddy.

Joy of joys! My luggage turns up the next day in a strange new bag… that’s because my case has been run over by a tractor or an airplane! My clothes have arrived but are covered in suntan cream and oily wheel marks.

Tom has been very ill after a minor op has gone horribly wrong and he contracts MRSA. We book a cheap flight to the sun so his poor battered body can start to recover. I am nearly battered myself when I ask the little boy behind me not to kick my backside all the way to the Canaries and a Vinnie Jones-alike dad rears up and asks in not so many words what my problem is. Feel vindicated when he sits down and hisses at his son to ‘stop kicking the lady’.

See? Can you see why I’m entitled to worry? I have already fallen over this week, (after a night out at the West Wales Cruising Association and, no, not that kind of cruising and, no, I wasn’t drunk) so I’m hoping that going away with cuts and bruises to my right arm and leg and a dodgy back means that I’ve got my bad luck out the way before leaving. So long as I stay away from monkeys, big seas, Pit Bull Man, and my luggage doesn’t throw itself under a plane I’ll have a great time!

Hwyl fawr!

Sorry - no painting today. My computer is refusing to play...

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Two Golden Springs and a Sweet Pea Summer

Do you remember that Cyndi Lauper song, 'True Colours'?’ Well, Rose, Lily and I know what our true colours are now thanks to my lovely friend, Jill, who bought a colour consultation for the three of us as a rather special birthday present.
For the uninitiated the aim of a colour consultation is to simply to demonstrate what colours suit you best when it comes to choosing clothes and makeup. Jill, who always looks gorgeous, had been through the process herself and generously waved her magic wand for me and my daughters, known here as Lily and Rose. Now, it’s no secret that as a die-hard jeans and t-shirt girl whose default going-out colour is, er, black I’m clearly in need of help but would Lily and Rose, just starting out on their careers be offered advice that was relevant to them?

Last Saturday the three of us met up in Cardiff and trotted off to see our House of Colour consultant, the delightful Manon Davies, who in a snappy outfit of red and white gingham dress with a little black wrap top and Mary Janes was the best advert for her own skills.

We’d been asked to turn up without makeup so were all desperate to get off the street and into Manon’s consulting room at the top of her house. Wrapped in a white cape and headscarf staring at my reflection in a large mirror under the unforgiving morning light, however, I wasn’t so sure that I shouldn’t just forget about colour and ask for a paper bag. How was it possible to look so cadaverous whilst still breathing?

Manon began by establishing my skin tone, which took me to the ‘warm’ seasons of Autumn and Spring. From there she began the painstaking process of revealing which colours were best for me before completing the look with complimentary makeup. In many ways it’s easier to see the effects on someone else and as Lily and Rose took their turns I could see how dramatically the right colours showed off their beautiful eyes and enhanced their skin.

After a brilliant day of being thoroughly pampered by Manon, (yummy refreshments provided) we floated outside armed with advice booklets, leather wallets with fabric swatches in our individual colours to compare notes. Rose and I, whilst not quite from the Amy Winehouse school of eyeliner, are almost there so felt a bit naked but we all looked fresh and beaming with health which is probably more to the point!

The next day I decided to try out my new rules ie no black (only Winters look good in black!). Unfortunately this left me with two bin bags of black T-shirts and jumpers and not much else! Then I trotted into Cardigan, not known as the fashion capital, just to see how I would get on. I was amazed at how much easier shopping became once I’d eliminated all the black and the ‘wrong’ colours; normally I am a cr*p shopper, wandering round in a daze not knowing what to pick which takes ages.

Tom and I are shortly off for some cheap sunshine (it’s quite a bold step for us!) so I was really pleased to find a rail of last seasons summer clothes in one of the shops. In no time at all I picked up oatmeal cropped linen trousers (£4.99), a madras check cotton sundress in tangerine and yellow (£4) and a flared linen skirt in a really bold chocolate, orange and yellow print which would normally have scared the bejesus out of me. Not a bad start to my holiday wardrobe… although if it arrives in the same place as me it will be a miracle, but more about that next week!

And finally…
Yep, the word count is a bit static but I looked at my rewrite after Christmas and realised it just wouldn’t do so am currently rewriting the rewrite!

Hwyl fawr!

Painting is 'Blue Pool Mwnt' by Tom Tomos

Sunday, 6 January 2008

At Thirteen

A letter to my thirteen-year old self as tagged by Little Brown Dog. http://littlebrowndog-littlebrowndog.blogspot.com/

Congratulations, Kid!
You’ve found out you’ve got a good head on your shoulders; it’s already opened doors money can’t. Just as well really, because you’ll never be rich. Well, not in material terms anyway. So get used to the bargain basement clothes but take heart from the fact that the days of the hideous homemade numbers Mum forces on you are numbered. Going back to that head of yours; it’s a shame it’s obscured by a lunar landscape of acne, thick glasses and wires all over your teeth but things, as they say, will get better. People who get close enough not to care will say you have nice eyes… but I’m afraid that’s what’s known as cold comfort.

You’ve got a secret, haven’t you? You’re in love for the very first time. You know it’s love because you think you’re going to faint whenever you see the object of your desire. He’s a stable lad, of course, I mean who else do you see here in the heart of the racing industry? But he’s a cut above the usual stable rats, as your Gran calls them, who leer and wink at you from the back of their horses. His soft dark curls nestle in the nape of his neck, his blue eyes sparkle and he speaks to you kindly – like he does the horses, I expect. Whippet thin, he’s 24, wears tight velvet trousers on racing days and you think, poor spotty deluded child, that he might ask you to run away with him!

Actually, it’s not that much of a secret because you’re not exactly subtle. Even the family dog, Zorba, (Mum’s Greek period) a miniature dachshund, knows because every afternoon at the same time you wake the poor creature up from where he slumbers in front of the gas fire (lit or unlit) dreaming of worrying socks and chewing laces, to stick a lead on him just to drag him across the road to the stable gate. Whilst you are ‘nonchalantly’ hanging around waiting for the adored one to appear you are already worrying about how to let him down gently when he does ask you to run away with him. It’s nothing to do with sex, because you haven’t the faintest idea of what that might be about – it doesn’t even enter your head - but because you can see that the disadvantages are:
1. He lives in a hostel which doesn’t look very nice.
2. Mucking out horses is probably not a lucrative occupation.
3. He’s called Ron. It’s just not a very romantic name, is it?

In due course, my little beetroot-faced one, you will love and you will be loved, you will hurt and you will be hurt. On that subject, when you get dumped for the first time, a few years from now, Dad will find you crying downstairs in the middle of the night and say ‘Cheer up, Miss Chris, it will never be this bad again.’ Know that he is lying – he just wants you to stop crying. By the way, Dad is a very remote figure now, always working and often away from home but once you go to university you’ll form an unbreakable bond which will last all his life.

In a little while, when you’ve finished casually dragging Zorba up and down at the gate, you’ll go home and do your school work. Yes, kid, it’ll all work out, exams, university, ‘good’ jobs but ask yourself this… what do you really want to do? Learn to listen to that inner voice – it’ll save me a lot of bother further down the line!