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In amongst the chaos, turmoil and general upset that the unpronounceable Icelandic volcano has caused, a miracle has made itself known to me. It concerns Santiago the goldfish, a regular feature of posts throughout this blog’s lifespan.

Read the above link and you will know how Santiago came into my life. Read on and you will learn of the excitement I felt when he returned, and take a glance at this short post to see how I tried to make his life in our pond a more pleasurable one.  Finished reading? Then I will continue the tale.

After  uniting Santiago and Fatima, and after  a few days of synchronised swimming (which I obviously took as a sure-fire sign of love and fairytale endings) she started to chase him. Viciously.  He became elusive (and reclusive) and his golden glean was noticeably fading. She was a menace – maybe she was a boy-fish, after all, I cannot claim to be an expert in these aqua-matters. Well, eventually both disappeared; eaten by cats/herons/each other, so I sadly accepted that two months of no sightings in a small pond could only mean one thing.  And I am afraid that I am not here to tell you otherwise.

However (crikey, I was always told never to start a new paragraph with ‘however’ but, hell, I’m a rebel)…however, on Sunday I received yet another fateful call from my pond-gazing Mother to announce that we had a fish in our pond! A little spring clearance of water weeds and other detritus revealed, not only a frog and a newt (the first of the year), but a small goldfish with similar (but not identical) markings to Fatima…..it can only be their baby!

Praise King Triton, this is indeed a miracle!

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HEL of a good time

What a week, and it’s only Dienstag! Not only have I pretty much decided that I will probably, almost certainly, unless otherwise persuaded, climb Mt Kilimanjaro next year, but I have also taken my first steps towards swing-dancing goddess-dom and soft porn starlet, amongst a whole host of other adventures.

I knew it was going to be a good ‘un when Monday brought with it the delights of “persepolis”, an animated film about a girl growing up in Iran during the 70s and 80s.  Serious as this sounds (and was.  I cried, but no surprise there), it was one of the best things I have watched on my LoveFilm subscription.  It was also accompanied by a hearty chat to a long-lost friend, so things were looking pretty promising (I’ll ignore my dream about murderous Nigerian refugee soldiers for now).

Then today, despite waking up at what seemed like 4.30am, I have had a pretty productive day.  My housemate and I went to our first Lindy Hop / Swing dance class.  I admit that I was skeptical.  A room of old nostalgic couples reminiscing about their heydays didn’t seem like the ideal Tuesday evening activity (particularly when offered a night at Great Expectations, with cheap home made food and pool), but the love of the brass music spurred me on.  And what a good job too; it was great.  Yes there were a few oddities dotted around the room…the ages/genders of one or two were hard to make out at times, but we had fun and will certainly be continuing with our quest to become the rock n roll queens of Reading.  On returning home I was invited to the John Lewis Reading Bingo Night this Friday and got irrationally over-excited about it (I’ve never played bingo and there are some pretty cool prizes up for grabs).

So, as much as these activities raised my excitement levels, I needed to act my age and plan some fun of a different kind.  At this point my housemates decided we ought to write The Highway To HEL (very clever pun devised by me – Hannah, Emily and Lizzie…see what I did there?).  This is a list of all the things we want to do with our time in Reading, and consists of various activities from the fairly mundane (eating at the veggie Indian down the road) through the exciting (holding a Come Dine With Me week), to the downright stupid (Lizzie’s Reverse-a-day, where we basically get drunk at breakfast and then spend a day backwards until we end up reading the papers with coffee at 9pm).  Part of this list is our ‘HEL Yeah’ calendar.  Scoff ye not, this is going to be a best-seller.  Plans are underway for the three of us to create our very own 12 month calendar, complete with ‘tasteful’ nude shots of me in just my cycle helmet and Lizzie in her landlord’s toolbelt.  Watch this space.

So, as I retire to my attic room bed, I will sleep safe in the knowledge that, not only will this week bring much ‘sensible’ excitment (did I mention that I am going to my first Grown Up Wedding?) but the coming months will be filled with camping weekends, ’90s nights and trips to the ultimately chavvy Riley’s Snooker Hall…bring on The Highway To HEL!

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It’s good to talk

Today I got chatting to some marathon runners whilst on the tube on my way home.  Now, I do appreciate that it is not common practice to strike up casual chit-chat with people on the underground – heavens, some might even think it one of the most serious of social taboos – but they were from Ireland, so I thought it would be OK.  They first came on the carriage a couple of stops after me and I realised, by their kit-bags and ‘Dublin Marathon 2009’ T-shirts, that they must have run the London Marathon today.  For some reason this fascinated me.  Here was a group of middle aged men who had all just done the most incredible athletic feat, yet were now just chatting amongst themselves and casually leafing though the Sunday papers – it made me think about all the people I see every day on the tube, who just pass by, but may well have the most fantastic and unusual stories to relate, if only I was able to talk to them.

With this in mind, I unplugged my ears from the sounds of Stevie Wonder and decided to ask them if they really had just run the race (they loved it, but everyone else on the tube obviously thought I should have been certified then and there).  Anyway, it turns out that the man next to me had done it in a weelchair and had been racing since the age of 21 (a long time in his case). Then they all chipped in for a bit of the action and started offering me excersise tips and advice, as well as filling me in on the history of their nicknames etc (to be honest, they had such strong accents and were on such a high, a lot of my contribution was mere guess-work and nodding).  I left them a few stops later, bidding them farewell and good luck, as they were all of to race the Dublin Marathon tomorrow.  Madmen.  But I do wish it was more acceptable to talk to strangers.

On an aside note, I saw ‘State of Play’ today and, although it was a very long film, it really was excellent – I even thought Ben Affleck was good, and that’s saying summat.

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More toilet talk

There is some serious sh*t going down in my street.  Literally.  Following on from my rant about the dog that deposits the hairiest poos ever, today I saw them yet again…but they were white.  Now, from TV programmes and student ranger experience, I know that white plops are caused by the calcium in the bones of an animal’s diet.  This scares me.  Have I inadvertently uncovered a covert murder operation – a la Sweeny Tod but in dog-food style?  I’m actually wondering whether or not I should even post this, for fear that I will get found out and assiasinated in the night…

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Fatima

Not only has this Easter weekend been fabulous; various wonderful visitors, parties, wine and a truly excellent Easter egg hunt, I have also finally found a soulmate for my goldfish, Santiago.  Her name is Fatima and today I saw them courting in the pond.  You may or may not remember the story of Santiago, a goldfish rescued from a fair, presumed dead, who then proved his mettle by surviving the cold Winter and frozen waters of 2007/8 emerging as a massive, sheening, golden beauty.  Anyway, we decided that it was now time for this goldfish to become a man.  Metaphorically.

So, Saturday saw us head to Notcutts garden centre to pick out his betrothed, rather like an arranged marriage, if you will.  This is not actually her, but it looks just like her (apart from the freckle above her right fin):

Fatima

My work here is done and there’s now a lorra, lorra love going on in our pond.  Just call me Cilla.

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Losing my innocence

When something’s blog-worthy it’s simply down-right rude not to do it justice.  Such is the case with my adventure last night, which saw me loose my casino virginity. Admittedly, when I’d imagined my first time I had hoped it would be in Monaco with a handsome stranger, or during a booze-fueled, hedonistic 24 hours in Vegas, but it happened in Reading.  Life never turns out the way you expected though, does it?

Anyway, the location did not take away from the guilty thrill I experienced – in fact, I’d say that the seedy atmosphere simply enhanced my enjoyment.  We sat at the Roulette table and bets were placed.  I was too nervous to even contemplate participating yet, so I sat back on a padded plastic stool and watched the action like an eagle-eyed observer, ever classy with drink in hand.  A foreign gentleman asked me to suggest a number for him to bet on – this was it, I wasn’t dreaming; I was definitely a Bond girl.  The number came up and I knew my time had come.  He disappeared (thankfully) but I bought some chips (can you believe that they don’t give change?!) and my betting began.  With each spin of the wheel I waited with baited breath; I could almost smell the spice on the East African breeze as I imagined frittering away my winnings in the coming months.

The ball shot around in an exciting blur, it clattered as it slowed, the room was spinning and, suddenly, I was £2.50 up.  I was on a roll.  From that point on there was no stopping me – I was now a member of this institution and I would darn-well act like one.  Who cared if my paltry red chips were worth less than the (frankly disturbing) piles that others around the table were hoarding?  This was my night. And, sure enough, I doubled my investment and left the casino with a whopping extra £10 in my back pocket.  Not a bad end to a Saturday night at all – until I found out that my friend had made £85.  The kebabs were on him.

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Hairy dog logs

There’s a dog on my road which does really hairy poos.  Now, I am no expert in the study or faeces (animal or otherwise), but I do know that what you eat reflects what comes out.  Volunteering on a game reserve in Africa I was taught all about ‘scat’ and had to be tested on it so, although a few spot-tests and a game of ‘who can spit the impala poop the furthest’ does not make me an authority, I definitely know that if a dog was just eating Pedigree Chum, its poos would not be this hairy.  Even if it was a really furry dog and spent all day cleaning, it could not possibly ingest enough hair for its deposits to be as totally hairy as they are.  

Anyway, seeing as the poos are 80% fur they are fairly solid, so there is no excuse for its owner not to be picking them up.  Yuk.

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