My Sunshiny Life

{May 8, 2010}   Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

I don’t feel I can say I’ve been to Mexico – even though I have.  I haven’t seen the real Mexico.  I had preconceived notions of a dusty landscape, dotted with big, green cacti and a sombrero wearing Mexican man dozing in the shade on a rickety lawn chair.  I didn’t even see one cactus, nor a tumbleweed blowing down the middle of a dusty road. 

You won't find this scene in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a total tourist trap (with tourist prices).  The nightlife is garish and tacky, with 16 year olds dry humping all over town.  Serious frottage.  I knew I was out of my age range when I was staring at them and wondering if their parents knew what they were up to.

There wasn’t an awful lot to do in the area, unless you want to jump in a pool with the poor captive dolphins.  We decided to go snorkelling and again, my expectations were high, featuring turqoise water, neon fish and our little group happily discovering the joys of Mexican sea life.  ARRRRRRRCCCCH (sound of the needle coming off the nature lovers record).  Swap that idyllic scenario for a bunch of boats – far too close to the swimmers, oil slicks on the water and the smell of diesel permeating the air – making me feel incredibly seasick.  Yes, there were fish, but there were more people and we were all swimming on top of each other.   The frustration levels rose higher than the enjoyment levels, and after banging into the umpteenth person and telling a boat driver he was a moron for being so close to us I gave up.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I enjoyed my holiday and relaxed by the pool with my book every day, loving it.  The food was delicious (although not super cheap), as were the cocktails.  I had a blast spending time with my friends and meeting new friends. The weather was A.MAZING.  I missed the week that everyone spent in the gorgeous villa, although I did get to go there for dinner and Tequila tasting (yum!) and it was LOVELY. 

The villa where my friends stayed the week before I arrived

One Tequila

Two Tequila, three...

I had friends staying in a fabulous resort – check out that pool!  We pretty much had the place to ourselves and you can’t complain about life when you’re sitting poolside, cocktail in hand, reading, gossiping and sleeping.

Now that's a pool!

But was it the holiday I expected?  Not by a long shot.  I’d love to go back someday and discover the real Mexico, away from the resort areas.


{April 26, 2010}   Jodi Picoult Book Signing

I love Jodi Picoult, she is a writing wonder woman! Her stories are so intricately woven and her characters are so real that they make me feel like I know them – they’re close friends and I have a vested interest in their life and what happens to them.

I went to her book signing tonight and she read from her new book ‘House Rules.’  It was fabulous to hear the characters come to life from the writer who created them. 

There was a question and answer question afterwards and I noted these little gems down…  Please note that she was far more eloquent than my scribbled notes here portray her as being.  She was a charismatic, lovely and confident public speaker.  There were loads of gushy fans there, me included! 

What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

There are three things that you need to know

1) Write – don’t read about it, do it.  Get into the practice of writing everyday and let it come out. 

2)  Take a writing workshop course – it helps hone your editor

3) Start writing, if you think it’s crap then keep writing until you get to the end – force yourself and then you can fix it or scrap it.  It all builds confidence in your writing ability.

She said it’s always better to edit garbage than it is to edit an empty page and sometimes what she writes is garbage, but it’s still better than writing nothing.  You can’t fix an empty page.

When asked how she creates her characters and whether she bases them on people she knows, she explained that they pop up like mushrooms, full of flaws and deep set character traits.  She does however steal snippets of conversations from her friends and family.

Her favourite books are The Life of Pi and books written by Alice Hoffman.

She researches for about 3 months before she even starts putting pen to paper. 

Jodi knows the beginning and end of her books, but the middle can take her on routes that she didn’t quite expect the characters to go on.

The only book she ever scrapped was when she was writing away and kept hearing a voice in her head saying ‘the first time I disappeared I was 6 years old’.   The voice got louder and louder, until she just knew the book she was writing wasn’t for her and there was another book calling her. She sat down and wrote 40 pages straight – the start of the book ‘Vanishing Act’.

I was SO jealous that she gets these voices, as I get zip when I sit down quite frankly.  She said that she is like a schizophrenic who gets paid for hearing voices and describes herself as a conduit.  I want to be a conduit goddamit!

When asked if it bothered her about how the movie adaptation of her book ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ changed the ending, she diplomatically said that when you sell the rights to your book it’s like putting a baby up for adoption.  You hope that they go to great homes and are raised as you would want them to, but unfortunately some of them end up living with a pack of prostitutes.  Everyone laughed and she said that she was so happy she could be open about it now.

She would however sell another book as getting the movie ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ made opened up a whole new audience to all of her books.  Salem Falls has had a screenplay written, but the movie she’d most like to see made into a movie is ’19 Minutes’

I sat in the balcony at the Bloomsbury Theatre and had a ache in my chest as I listened to her speaking.  I want to be a writer so badly, but I’m not making the small efforts each day which are going to get me to my goal.  I’m going to use this as inspiration, and one day I’ll be up in front of a crowd of people talking about my latest creation.  But first I have to get off my ass and do my morning pages!

History was made today, as the first meeting of our unashamedly geeky book club took place in Highgate.  The book we’d been tasked to read was called 3 Cups of Tea, about Greg Mortenson – written by him and David Oliver Relin.

Out of the five of us in attendance the stats went something like this: 2 people read it totally, 1 person read half (that would be me, totally underestimating how fast a reader I am!), 1 person wikipedia’d it this morning and 1 read the back cover – but had other fabulous stories to share.

The book is a very interesting story about Greg Mortenson, a climber who got lost in the Himalayan mountain ranges and stumbled across a village that didn’t have a school.  He promised to help build them one, little realising at the time how profoundly this promise would affect his whole life.  He has whole heartedly devoted his life to building schools in Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan – and the book documents the adventures, challenges and triumphs he has had along the way.

An excellent first book for our fledgling club, and it prompted some discussion about how it made you feel like stepping outside your comfort zone, doing something that really matters in the world.  Leaving your mark, and making the world a better place through selfless acts of generosity.

Sassy had done herself proud on the organisational front, and we wouldn’t expect anything less from a seasoned project manager.  We got handouts containing insightful questions about the book.  There was a slide show with maps of the area in Pakistan, we saw pictures of the bridge he built (to get the school supplies across), and of  course of the schools that he built.  We sat there chatting, listening to Pakistani music, eating fabulous home made burgers and drinking delicious Himalayan tea – a milky sweet beverage, infused with cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and ginger. 

All we needed for total authenticity was a yak dung fireplace in the middle of the lounge, but Sassy’s landlord may have taken issue with that.

The next book club is in May and it’s my book choice, which is going to be Road to Nab End, by William Woodruff.  The theme for the food this time round will be British Picnic Fayre.  I’m going to be a little more organised, and will actually finish the book BEFORE the book club meeting.  Being realistic – I think I need to allow myself more than four hours to get through the whole thing!

{April 24, 2010}   People all over the world!

Get on the soul train!

Pimp Daddy and Soul Sister

I love a good fancy dress party and take every opportunity I get to don an afro wig and get on down groooooovy soul train style!  For one afrotastic night I was an albino soul sister.

DJ Soul Brother

Soul Daddy-O

Sherv, who doesn't let volcanic ash get in the way of a good party, and drove from Prague!

Happy Birthday Rose and Eddie, fabulous night, outrageous outfits and hundreds of photo opportunities!

‘May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.’

{April 21, 2010}   Colourful Camden

I spotted this guy in Camden recently.  He sits there all day in his deck chair and people pay a pound to take his photo – or get their photo taken with him. 

He was mid-sandwich when I took this shot, so I didn’t stop long to chat.  I did ask what that big bump in his arm is, and he said it’s an implant. 

Why someone would disfigure themselves to this extent makes me curious about them.  It’s very odd that he wants to sit there voluntarily as a freak show. 

After I left I wondered two things; I wonder how much he makes in a day and I’d like to know how he gets on with metal detectors at airports!

{April 19, 2010}   Things NOT to do on a date

Lessons for the man who I went on a date with recently.  Read and learn my friend.


Eat with your mouth open and then say that you’d spoken to your mother before the date and she’d reminded you to eat with your mouth closed.  You should have listened to your mother.


Say that you’d need an umbrella to sit opposite you at the dinner table at home, because right now you’re being polite.  When you’re at home you just go for it and shovel food in.  See previous note about listening to your mother.


Eat the whole endamame bean.  The skin is not meant to be eaten, but don’t worry you spat most of it out on the table as you were talking.


Discuss money.  I do not want to know how much you won in your recent poker game, how you sell comics on ebay to raise cash OR how much money you make as an extra on a film set.


Mention fart jokes.  Farts don’t exist on first dates.  In the world of first, second and third dates we like to think that neither of us ever have to do number 2’s, fart or burp.  It’s not sexy and this is the build up to sexy, work the illusion buddy!


Talk about your business failures.  It does not make you look like an attractive long term prospect.


Confide that you lost your sex drive for four years, but not to worry as you’ve got it back now. 


Tell me that you’ve been thinking about the date a lot and haven’t been able to concentrate on anything else.  Play it cool, be a little mysterious (I’m taking the mysterious point on for myself from now on too – ‘make like an onion’ is my new mantra – not that I’d ever be so uncool as to gush that I’d been thinking about them non-stop I’d like to add!)


Suggest that we don’t pay the tip as the food service was slow.  First dates are the only time you cannot mention bad service or complain about it.  You will look demanding and arrogant, or even worse cheap.  Save that for the fourth date.

The chance with me has passed, but if you take these words of advice on board maybe you’ll fare better on the next date.

I like shoes a LOT!  Not quite to the extent of Imelda, but I do have a sizeable shoe collection.  My favourite shoes are a relatively new addition to my wardrobe.  They’re House of Harlow Peeptoe Heels – snakeskin with a hint of gold. 

Unfortunately they didn’t rock the look I wanted the first time I wore them, as I didn’t take blister plasters out, and ended up with bright blue plasters on the back of my heels.  I looked like I was turning into a smurf, one little patch of skin at a time .

Then I found out about a new website called Upper Street and I was literally drooling as I browsed through.  A site where you can DESIGN your own shoes, yes, your very own creation!  Choose heel, sole, style, materials, colours – the works! 

What a bloody fantastic concept and one I will be embracing whole heartedly.  I haven’t ordered any yet, as I want to sit down and think my creation through, taking into account what I have/want/need in my wardrobe.  You can get yours here

{April 13, 2010}   Romance on the Radar

As part of my writing course you need to be quite honest with yourself about your life, feelings and emotions.  I did an exercise to assess how well balanced my life was, and the romance area was found wanting.

So being a resourceful 2010 kind of girl I looked to My Single Friend for some assistance in finding my Mr Perfect (not too much to ask surely!).  The first day has left me totally underwhelmed.  I’ve favourited a few guys (out of 60 odd pages I think I got 5 favourites!) and have had a few pages of guys favourite me, not one of them that I fancy. 

Then I got this email…

Right, well where to begin? firstly, I have to say your profile is so awesome!!! and i really mean that. Secondly, I had sent you an email and saved you on my fav list today, then when I went to check in, you had disappeared!
I couldn’t work it out, and its taken me ages to try and find you again on here. So I’m not sure if it was me pressing something, or the site? annnnnnnwaaaaaay now I have to remember everything I wrote before.

Ummmm, umm, how shall I put this? well what a cool profile intro from your friend Mrs J, it was so simple and too the point, I kinda liked that. Plus your picture had this nice warm smile, I think you can tell allot from a smile, and the eyes too, the eyes never lie…. I guess what i’m trying to say is that you seem to have this nice energy about you that makes you seem…. well, ‘alive’

I think i’m not going to ask the standard questions that all guys ask, its so contrived, so Im going to change that right now me thinks. Let me see now, ummmm, ok Little Miss Sunshine,

1. Do you like climbing trees?
2. What’s your fav quote?
3. What did you do yesterday?
4. Country girl, or city?
5. Hug or cuddle?
6. Open fire or central heating? (that’s so obvious lolololo)
7. Would you want to leave this planet with an alien to explore the galaxy?
8. Risk your life for a stranger? (hmmm tough one)
9. Quick, don’t think about it too much but what’s the first thing that makes you smile?
I bet your thinking ‘why 9 questions’? its my fav number that’s all.

Anyway I just wanted to say howdy really and keep this a brief email (although it seems its not that brief now is it? lol) …oh god I cant believe im actually doing this! yes yes yes I know, your thinking who’s this loon, so embarrassment over, think I’m going to shut up

Either way it would be really nice to hear from you when you have the chance, if not, not to worry. It really was a pleasure reading your profile Little Miss Sunshine. You take care, and stay safe out there too.
Take it easy

*Names changed to save embarrassment.

Honestly universe, if you sent me that as a laugh you succeeded.  If that is the start of would be suitors that you’ve got lined up for me, I sincerely hope you’re just warming up before the main act!

 Update: It seems that most of my friends thought this was quriky and cute.  Perhaps the photo was required for full effect, although the sprinkling of lol’s would be enough to turn me off without the photo to be honest!

{April 8, 2010}   iPad Mania

There was a buzz in our office today, with the long awaited arrival of the new Apple iPad.  We’d put our order into the States and had it sent by urgent courier.  The release date for the UK is rumoured to be the end of April, but we wanted ours NOW!

When the box was opened I got to witness something rather extraordinary.  This little digital tablet is so covetable that people were posing with it.  Yes, iPhones were whipped out so people could get their picture taken standing proudly with the iPad.

iPad ownership is a small club in the UK right now,  and I don’t think anyone is going to be deleting the message that says ‘sent from my iPad’ anytime soon.  It’s a badge of honour, an ode to exclusiveness.

So, the verdict on the thin slice of digital wonder you may ask?  It lives up to the hype, and then some.  The browser window is so clear and text is so easy to read.  Having just bought a new mini laptop (damn my impatience) I have to say that the iPad kicks everything else’s arse in terms of look, feel and usability. 

There are a few little drawbacks, like you can’t insert your camera memory card without an adaptor, or USB cable.  You can’t use more than one application at a time (although it will be available with release of operating system 4.0 in Autumn).  Having a docking station and wireless keyboard will be vital if you need to use it for typing documents, but the onscreen keyboard is responsive and easy to use for shorter emails.

Mmm, maybe I could use an iPad AND my new little netbook.  Justification totally in full force now, both of those combined still don’t equal an expensive laptop – so I’d STILL be saving money.  Justification over, decision made.

et cetera