I'll start with Friday. I had proposed (admittedly late) drinks after work for anyone who wanted to come, including work people, except all the people who would ordinarily come were inconveniently on leave, so in the end it was just Gaynor and I. We got to the pub first and then eventually Paul, Dan, Lloyd, Denise, Ben and Derek arrived.
Gaynor and I started the night on cider, as Wetherspoons are having a cider and real ale festival at the moment. I started with Green Goblin (the Wychwood Brewery cider) and then had a taste of the Cornish Rattler, which was nice. Then I noticed they were serving Jeremiah Weed with lemonade, so had a try of one of those and ended up sticking with it all night, as did everyone else! It's... very interesting, or to quote Derek, "That's peculiar!" - singles just taste of lemonade, doubles taste of tea. Very very weird indeed. I think between us we stole about six of the glasses - it comes served in a jam jar with a handle! - which wasn't as bad as everyone else apparently. Over the course of the week they'd had anywhere between 50 and 100 stolen (depending on which barmaid you spoke to) but to be fair, they are really cool...
I think we finally got home around 1.00am - the timestamped photos from Gaynor's camera definitely show we were still in the pub at half past midnight, so in fact it may have been later.
Next morning? JITTERS. I think we'd all forgotten that a tea-based liqueur would obviously be FULL OF CAFFEINE, so aside from waking up feeling still drunk I then proceeded to feel like I'd drunk seventeen cups of coffee for the next couple of hours, before the hangover finally kicked in...
Presents-wise: Paul got me a strange plush 'voodoo doll', which we can't decide is disturbing or cute, as well as books about Joss Whedon, Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd, full of geekalicious facts and photos. Forbidden Planet FTW. I also had a lengthy email from Eni explaining her present of Sunset Boulevard-related goodies, namely a mood theme, LJ layout and fic. FIC!!! I haven't had chance to implement the mood theme or layout yet (might have a play later) but I did read the fic eventually and it is AWESOME. I do owe Eni a proper feedbacky email, though, since I read it whilst still jittery / hungover and didn't really take it all in the first time. :D
Paul then spent all day in the kitchen cooking tapas for six people. :) Mum, David, Paul's mum and Lisa arrived around 6.00pm. My mum has given Paul and I a joint birthday present of some cash in an envelope which states, "Only to be used for theatre tickets!", so we're going to try and get back down to London in the new year and use it for something exciting, along with the theatre vouchers we already have. She also gave me a very strange little book of "wisdomosity", which I may have to post some quotes from at some point. Paul's mum got me season 1 of Glee on DVD, and Lisa got me the complete series of Duckula, which she had amusingly wrapped up in three layers of paper. :D
The tapas was very nice indeed. We went out to get all the ingredients on Thursday night and spent about £50, which was exceptionally reasonable for a meal for six people (especially considering tapas at Byzantium for four cost around £75, and we thought THAT was reasonable). I killed my hangover with some more wine (a bottle of Faustino VII rose - OM NOM), which I ended up sharing with Lisa even though she wasn't going to drink. My mum and David left around... 9 or 10ish, I think (I was already very drunk by that point) and Paul's mum and Lisa stayed a bit longer, until about midnight. I don't want to know how many bottles of wine we demolished between us, but I think I'd got through at least two on my own.
There are quite a few very blurred photographs on my phone that were taken at this time, as well as two pieces of paper on which I had scrawled affirmations of our drunkness and which was signed by all present. And also a doodle by Lisa of "drunk". It was all very random. Throughout all this I was saying how I was a high-functioning drunk, which did in fact turn out to be true because, when I knocked over my wine glass and spilled it all over the tablecloth, Lisa and I somehow managed to get it in the washing machine, put the liquid, softener and vanish tabs in the right compartments and turn it on without any problems. Heh.
I remember sitting on the bathroom floor just after I'd gone to bed because I felt sick and may well have briefly passed out whilst in there, but the nausea passed in the end and I managed to go to bed.
Needless to say, Sunday's hangover was frelling awful. As soon as I'd said to Paul that I was ready for some breakfast my stomach churned and sent me to the bathroom again (yes, I'd forgotten how disgusting bile tastes...) but after that I had a bit of a sleep and managed to eat my dinner of chicken soup.
All in all it was quite pleasant, despite the double-hangover.
After that Paul and I both had a week off work. The beginning of the week mostly involved doing nothing, going to Aldi, and watching Duckula, in my case anyway. I've got through the first two discs so far.
On Thursday we headed off to London for a couple of days. We navigated our way to the hotel, thus far the best we've found on the cheap and thankfully on the District Line so easy to reach from Victoria, scouted out the local area (more stuff than last time) and found some lunch in a nearby cafe, who were obliging enough to cook Paul a full English breakfast at 4.00pm. :P Then we went back to the hotel, had showers, got changed and headed out to show of choice for this year, Ghost Stories.
This is the brainchild of Jeremy Dyson (League of Gentlemen) and Andy Nyman (the other half of Derren Brown's brain), and is essentially a horror movie on stage. I'm not allowed to reveal too much but basically, it's presented like a lecture. Andy Nyman plays the parapsychology professor leading the lecture, telling the audience not to believe in ghost stories and how such things can often be explained away, except he then says he has heard three stories in his life which he cannot explain, which are then told to the audience by those who experienced them.
Of the three (again, I can't tell you or it'll ruin it) I think the second one scared me more, though they are all quite disturbing. All I will say is that the entire show is very clever. The inside of the theatre and the stairs leading to the stalls and circle are 'decorated', for want of a better word, in plastic sheeting, scrawled numbers and dim lights, the purpose of which is made apparent later. The first two stories involve the audience being blinded continually by a torch and car headlights respectively, so that you are squinting and blinking at the stage when the 'shocks' appear, making them horribly effective.
I think, however, it would have been more terrifying if not (as ever) for the annoying people talking all the way through. I got the impression the row behind us were students; and even though I was exceptionally glad that the row behind us DID fill up, just in case it had been deliberately left empty in order to have people jump out, I wish it had been full of older people. There was one bit, for example, where a voice emanated from the back of the auditorium. It made Paul jump, but because there had been so much noise coming from behind me anyway I barely noticed it had happened, or only realised it was part of the show when I noticed people's reactions.
Despite that, though, it was thoroughly enjoyable. I hope it tours; the actual theatrics seem easy enough to transport around the country and it's definitely worth a viewing. :)
After the show we went to our favourite Bistro for some dinner, then headed back to the hotel.
On Friday we didn't really have a plan, but got off the train at Embankment just because it made a change from going all the way to Piccadilly. We then found ourselves at Trafalgar Square and thus decided to have a look around the National Gallery. I took a few photographs at Trafalgar but the total haul for the weekend ended up being about 20 photos, despite my best intentions... Anyway, we managed to do about a quarter of the Gallery in an hour and a half and decided we'd do more the next time we came back, as we were both a bit cultured out by that point. Also, it was at this point that my right foot (i.e. the one I broke last year) started playing up.
During the walk around the gallery it did that thing where it felt like it wanted to 'crick', which it does sometimes when I've been walking a lot, except then it started to hurt consistently in the area of the break. We found a pub to sit down for a bit in the hope that would help, but over the course of the day it got progressively worse, so at about 2.30pm we went back to the hotel again. As we'd both got up early to have the hotel breakfast (cornflakes / toast) we were knackered so ended up having a nap for three hours. After which, my foot was still hurting when I walked on it.
We decided to stay local for dinner and went to an Italian restaurant we'd spotted that had any pasta / pizza for £6.00. This was after finding a 24-hour pharmacy and buying a tubi-grip for my ankle in a vain attempt to help it. The food was delicious, though, so the gamble did pay off, and the owner was a very exuberant and pleasant Italian man who had a picture of himself on the wall, presumably painted by a friend, where he was standing between Al Pacino and Robert de Niro a la The Godfather. There were also two very intriguing paintings recreating famous scenes with Marilyn Munroe in place of Jesus. My favourite was the 'Last Supper' one which had various other movie stars playing the disciples, such as James Dean, Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy. Bizarre but cool.
We subsequently spent Friday evening in the hotel room watching television, but at least there was something on...
Saturday I decided to brave the pain and we ventured out to Portobello Road market, which might not have been the best plan because it was rammed and thus my having to limp around people made things more difficult. We got about halfway down and then gave up so wandered back through the quieter streets of Kensington, boggling at the house prices. We got the tube a couple of stops down to Kensington Gardens and had a wander down there (houses straight out of a horror film there!) to the High Street, then tube-hopped back to Holborn where we knew there was a Wetherspoons where I could sit down for a bit.
We found lunch in the Cellar Bistro in the West End, which we discovered some time ago, and that killed a couple of hours before we started making our way back to collect the case and head to Victoria to go home.
I'm kind of annoyed, really. I intentionally wanted to go for three days this time to give us more time to do stuff and meet people, namely Jackie and Eni, and because my foot started playing up on Friday I was disinclined to do anything except hobble around feeling sorry for myself. I had really been looking forward to going, so was disappointed that my plans were scuppered. In fact, by Friday night I already wanted to go home and dreaded how we were going to kill eight hours on Saturday, as the coach wasn't until 6.00pm.
Needless to say, I am not at work this week. I managed, luckily, to get a GP appointment on Monday afternoon, and she suggested I keep it rested for a couple of days, apply ibuprofen gel three times a day and I am okay to go back to work shortly as long as I wear the ankle support and use the lift. I emailed work today to say I'd provisionally be back on Monday. Hopefully it won't be too bad, as it only hurts when I walk or stand for too long and I do spend most of the day sitting down, though my only worry is that it's my pedal foot and I don't know if that'll aggravate it. We shall see.
I think, sometimes, my body decides I need more time off work and merely breaks in response. I did feel shattered on Sunday despite the week off, so perhaps it's just as well.
In other, more positive news, TAX REFUND, BABY!!! Apparently for 2008-2009 I overpaid over a grand in tax! Considering I had to extend my overdraft again last month just in case I spent too much money in London, this little windfall is very much appreciated. In addition, I achieved my pay increment at work and should be getting a chunk of backpay tomorrow in my wages, which initially I was going to spend on an eye test and new lenses. Instead I'm going to use the tax refund to pay a chunk off the credit card and pay for the eye test, and hopefully spend the backpayment on something NICE for a change. :)
I anticipate something horrible will happen to me in due course when Fate realises she made a horrible error in judgement. But in the meantime, it's nice to have a bit of luck for once.
Also, I started watching Damages on Monday night and I'm about nine episodes in. Quite enjoying it, though I can't decide if Patty Hewes is pure genius or pure evil... Whichever it is, Glenn Close is sheer awesomeness incarnate, but we already knew that. :)
I think that'll do. :)