Sunday, 28 March 2010


It's amazing how something as simple as a bathroom makeover can open your eyes to all the possibilities of change by your own hand.

Maybe it’s the birthday I just had, or maybe it’s just the onset of Spring – which we have been told will last until a the snow comes this weekend, but I got a real kick out being creative, even if it is justwith a bathroom.

By the end of the three quotations, I had pretty much decided who I wanted to go with. No 1 D came with industry contacts, 15 years experience and the can do attitude in terms of my schedule I was looking.

Or would it be No 2, AR, with 5 years under his belt, a worried look on his face when I mentioned moving the toilet to make way for a bath (argh heaven…I can see it now scented candles, up to my neck in bubbles, sweet music playing in the background and….. that’s quite enough daydreaming from me).

Or would it be contestant, I mean BTB No 3, the younger pretender AM who took the plunge and set up his own business 2 years ago and hasn’t looked back!

So being a die hard bargain hunter, of course I went for no 1, who didn’t wince when I said he had 9 days to do everything. The great thing is D should be able to start, while C‘s away, which means I get to hog the bathroom for a few days before he comes back!

What struck me with all of these guys was their self determination, their very obvious drive and fundamental need to run their working lives their way Recently, I’ve kind of lost my way, seduced temporarily into becoming a wage slave again.

Security is all well and good, but if you can get that security doing what you love, then you have to go for it, no matter what the initial perceived cost may be.

That message applies doubly for you M ! If I can climb on the bus of uncertainty and somehow stay on it, even having taken a wrong turn, then you my talented friend should be driving it !

Friday, 26 March 2010

It's Raining Quotes

I confess I am more than a little addicted to the internet – well you have to be a little bit internet crazy to be a blogger in the first place, wouldn’t you?

With C’s denouncement of BTB ringing in my ears, I took the next appropriate action and logged our bathroom job online. I put the job on last night at midnight and this morning found I’d had 18 responses.

With military precision (checking out the ones with the nicest pictures on their sites) I shifted through the respondees’ profile, references and accredition, before narrowing them down to a magnificent seven, the first of which is due to inspect the bathroom tomorrow.

“Maybe you’ll find your very own Mr Handy”, said C, when I told him. “Who knows he might actually show up in a white van !”

“Or maybe we’ll just find another Bilbo” I said shrugging my shoulders. I have always lamented not knowing enough men who were good with their hands – I mean DIY skills.

When I was growing up, I thought it was great that rather than get a man in to do a job in the house, my Dad seemed to have the magical ability to fix anything from my first truck (a distant relative was convinced that I was a boy), to ensure that my Sindy doll’s head stayed firmly attached to her neck, despite my best efforts!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Bob the Builder

As predicted my interview with the builder proved a short and potentially very expensive one.

C had arrived home especially at my request and took up residence on the sofa with a paper, attempting to look as tough and burly as possible.

“I think we need to get our cover stories straight if he gets talking to us separately. Am I your live-in or other half? “ I laughed.

“C we getting a quote done by a builder, not being interrogated by the Secret Service. All you have to do is sit there and do what you’re doing, looking all moody after a tough day at work”. He smirked and carried on reading his paper

BTB arrived at 7:15 on the dot. He was exactly as I remembered him. A snowy white-haired man of hobbit like proportions (C’s words not mine “He looks just like Bilbo Baggins"),whose piercing blue eyes darted round my living room, as if he were seeing if there was any other jobs I might need or be persuaded to have done.

After throwing C an acknowledging combined head nod and raised eyebrow, BTB poked his head into the bathroom, before entering for a more through inspection.

“No change there you’ll be glad to hear BB, but I’m definitely going to have to charge you more, everything’s gone up you know since last year, and I would recommend you install a fan in there to deal with your moisture issues”.

I managed to hold back my laughter. As you all know innuendo and I are bosom buddies and it never seizes to amaze me how our use of language lends itself to cheeky double meanings at the most unlikely moments.

“I’ll get your quote done in the next 48 hours and pop it round to you. I am really busy, so when I can do it, it would be on the weekend, is that ok”

“ Perfect” I said steering him to the door.

“I don’t like him” said C, making one of his truly rare negative opinions. Apart from hating AH because she always looks so smug on BGT and loathing the MasterChef contestant who has so far cried all the way through the competition.

She made it to the quarter final last night and we are praying she gets knocked out. First because she is totally annoying and also because as any good tv producer knows, you want contestants to save their tears for the final, to complete that all important ‘contestant’s journey’ montage which always ends the show. Her montage will just be a tear fest !

“How can the price have gone up since Nov!" muttered C. "He just said nothing had changed, you still need the same job doing. No you’re going to have to get some more quotes done. He’s taking the piss!"

And with that final outburst, he stomped off to the kitchen to make us a cuppa. It was such a Dad moment from him, that of course I cracked up.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Builders and Beaus !

The weekend was a strange one – two days of running around doing stuff that you really don’t want to do – you know errands that you keep putting off. I found to my displeasure my favourite cobbler has gone out of business.

Also the little dry cleaner I've used for the last five years has been taken over by a surly father and daughter team.

Their combined cutomer service is so minimal, that having watched them ignore four customers in a row, I turned tail and left - if anyone knows of a good dry cleaner in Central London please let me know!.

Then I had a casting for a new builder. My bathroom which has stuttered and started so many times in the last three years, in its transition from dingy peach suite hell, to boutique hotel heaven that it has now hit epic proportions.

Walls and ceilings have been stripped, wiring has been done (three times!!) and now flooring and the installation of a delectable new suite are all that remain to be done, before the transformation can be deemed complete.

There’s something about builders when you open the door and during the course of the conversation they realise that you are a single female, which somehow always means you end up being charged a little bit more, usually because they don’t expect you to have any idea of price and what the specific requirements of the job are.

Over the space of three quotes, the sums quoted veered between £400 - £500 in difference for exactly the same job ! I have one more prospective builder due to ‘audition’ and this time F has agreed to be at my place when he arrives, so that this particular Bob the Builder doesn’t get the temptation to add a few more zeros onto his quote.

Sometimes you can be a little too honest. I always think my romantic reviews are fair, but I have just discovered there are those that might think otherwise and even be offended by my candour, which is entirely their pregative.

Mr Big has found out my alias (well it’s hardly top secret is it, especially with my picture plastered alongside it) read the blog and is annoyed. Very annoyed. So much so that we are no longer on speaking terms, well just polite phrases like ‘good morning’ and ‘thank you’

It’s a real shame, but looking back on what I wrote I didn’t put anything rude and more importantly unfair. He is short (it’s a fact!) he is massively successful, charming and therefore totally eligible as friend and then well who knows what else. I am sad I have upset him, but as they say that's the way the cookie crumbles.

While communication with Mr Big was going down in flames and another less candidate has come to the fore. For the past two weeks, I have been setting up various meetings for my current boss.

In the midst of these I’ve struck up a friendship with one of them. Ordinarily and having been burnt in the past, from the old ‘dating in the workplace’ moment, I would have run a mile, but as I leave my current employer on Friday and we are having coffee next week there’s no harm in that right?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Birthday Part 2

Three hours later and considerably poorer, I left the spa having been buffed, polished, scrubbed, massaged and rubbed so much that I glowed, which is almost unheard of for me.

Two double lattes and three phone calls (both Mr Big and Little Ms Matchmaker were running late) and I headed to the restaurant, where I sat alone waiting for them to arrive. A cheery Cuban waiter tried to raise my spirits with the offer of a complimentary drink, but instead I entertained myself with a bout of people watching.

I spotted three sugar daddies, complete with way, way too young trophy girlfriends and one cougar who looked like she couldn’t quite believe she was in the presence of such a young, beautiful boy (or should that be tender prey! ).

Trying my best not to stuff my face with entire contents of the bread basket, I decided that ‘grazing’ on some edame beans might do the trick. What should have been a discreet snack turned into mild carnage as my nervous hands lost control and I managed to misfire one bean from my mouth down my dress and two more to the adjacent table.

I had just finished fishing out the runaway edame bean down my dress, when Mr Big and Little Ms Matchmaker finally arrived in tandem, looking bashful and apologetic.

I gave Mr Big the once over. He was Austrian, short (well my height in heels!), sharp suited and wore glasses(apart from shaven heads, glasses are a big yes from me, on the right man of course!).

Mr Big took up residence beside me and between trying to attract the waiter’s attention, we chit-chatted. He was smart, charming, articulate, funny, with a cheeky little twinkle in his eye and unfortunately for me, was also suffering from a stinking cold.

He lasted for just over two hours, before he retired on a sicknote knockout (by this time his voice was pretty much gone and due to the appalling service of our waiter, he left without even tasting his much needed chicken soup!).

I really felt sorry for him. As we said goodbye, being the cheeky forthright minx that I am, I said I’d get his number and call him in the next few weeks. Before I had finished the sentence, he had slipped his card into to my hand and told me to make sure that I called.

When I got home there was an apologetic email confirming that he was no wimp and that the celebrations should reconvene next week when he was back on form. I smiled as I closed down my laptop. Arr the joy of the chase!

So did I like him? Yes, without the crunchy stomach feeling which I now know is no guarantee of how things will turn out. So it doesn’t matter how sensible I become (and those of you who have been following me since I started this blog will know, I was pretty silly and shallow when I started it)

I still want 'the real deal'. He doesn’t have to be 6ft, or loaded (would be nice, but is probably more trouble than its worth!) or picture perfect, he just has to be happy in himself and think that being with me isn’t a punishment.

Did I get what I wanted for my birthday. My big present…No ….but who knows what the rest of the year will bring !

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Birthday Part 1

Yes today is the day - My birthday! One of those big birthdays which we all think are super old when we are kids, but when we actually reach them we try to make them memorable.

My birthday started on a high with two cards from S and C, that C had left on my dining room table for me to find when I finally got up this morning.

I showered, got changed into my day to date dress and was just about to head out the door, when the phone rang. P calling from the US with a girlie dilemma. While listening to her, I continued putting on my foundation which went smoothly until I dropped the foundation on my cream living room carpet.

Several swear words and Vanish drenched scrubs later, the carpet appeared semi-decent and I headed out for lunch with M and L. Both were on great form and as we chatted and laughed, it occured to me that despite wasting all that energy dreading the day, I was actually having a good time.

After lunch I headed off to the day spa. Entering the sterile, heavily perfumed, whale music infused belly of spa land was heaven, until I hit the communal changing rooms. Faced by a sea of different sized women in various states of undress, I nipped to the loo to change and then headed off for my treatments.

Monday, 15 March 2010

First Contact

After a weekend of culture and hairdressing, going to work was supposed to be a breeze. The monotony of the day was interrupted by the news that Mr Big (Mr Big (because we all know what that represents to us Sex and the City devotees and dating queens) has to entertain some clients and will now only be making a guest appearance on my birthday.

Anticipating disappointment, I dropped him an email saying hi and saying we could raincheck if it was more convenient for him to meet up on another day. Smooth as silk he fired back a reply.

"Heard lots about you!! Looking forward to meeting you and celebrating your birthday with you! See you tomorrow!" Cheeky and a sense of humour....romance or not, I should have some fun.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Preparation Is Everything!

I have just returned from a marathon session of hair enhancement - New weave. New colour! Maximum glamour factor!!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

How To Date an Alpha Male!

Since the beginning of this year,a steady flow of new people have found their way into my life at just the right time. Just when I've found myself running out of steam or patience, something or someone has gently pushed me forward and helped me to keep going.

We all know what I wanted for my birthday - I'm not going to get it, but somebody up there has obviously noticed that I've been a good girl recently, because somehow with minimum effort from myself, I've bagged a date with a premier division - alpha male - millionaire - on my birthday!

Changing jobs has exposed me to yet more new people, one of whom has taken it upon themselves to act a a matchmaker for me. After just one after hours girlie chat, PM was able to list three eligible guys, including my very own Mr Big, that she thought would be right for me.

I've dated high net men before and I have to say it was tough going. Money as the saying goes, brings you choices and if you are a man with money, then you will never be short of female company.

"I'm not sure about it." I said surprising even myself, while remembering my holiday with R, who paid for everything and seemed to revel throughtout our relationship in reminding me how little I earned, and deemed me worthy of being given 'pocket money' during the holiday. I haven't date another rich boy since.

"Just for once petal, why don't you not analyse and agonise over something which could either be a bloody good time or maybe something more" said PM.

I am learning from the events of the year so far, listening to what other people say, might just be a good idea from time to time. I'll keep you all posted.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Following the Stars !

"Just continue putting one foot in front of the other today. If you spiral out too far into the future, you’re apt to get overwhelmed", so said my horoscope today. Never one to go against the cosmos I followed my instructions to the letter.

One of the best things about being freelance is the fact that if you want to leave you can just pack up and go. One of the worst things, is that because you aren't one of the regular cast of workers, you tend to end up overloaded with the tasks that other people don't want to do.

By lunchtime I had done three loads of expenses, for four overseas trips none of them being a simple hotel and dinner moment; then booked four travel requests.

By this time I was wondering whether my life could really can get any more thrilling. To relieve the tedium, I booked my birthday treat - nothing fancy just a few pampering treatments (when have you ever been able to resist the lure of a snowy white waffle dressing gown?)and a chance to have some quiet time.

The girls mentioned celebrating it, but one flick of my weave and deranged growl was enough to convince them that I don't want to be reminded, especially this year.

I've been fiercely observing my "three things I am glad for" mantra, but somehow it just isn't cutting it, because as you all know there is only one thing I wanted for my birthday, which sadly is not going to arrive gift-wrapped on my doorstep.

A gift on the doorstep was exactly what C was waiting for when I got home - his suitcase to be exact. C hasn't seen his suitcase since he was forcibly parted from it somewhere between Altanta and London Gatwick.

He has spent the last 24 hours on the phone trying to locate it, finally being told that it would be delievered to his doorstep by 3pm today. The disappointment in his face, mixed with sleep deprivation, when I showed up at 8pm; lasted two more torturous hours, before his suitcase arrived.

I have never seen a man more happy to hit the sack. I am hoping I will be equally excited at the end of next Tuesday, when this whole birthday crap will be over! Then I can put one foot in front of the other and not have to think about it again...until next year!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Happy Friday !

I am officially freelance and loving it!

I quite like the idea of being parachuted into an unfamiliar terrority with nothing, but the survival kit of my dynamo PA skills and a few beams of BB sunshine. Then there's all the fun of sussing people out and sparkling a little BB love on them. Yes I admit it. I have Tinkerbellitis !

My latest role is working for an IT guru MGH who is in every way the complete opposite of what I had grown accustomed to. He is focused, upfront, non-moody (every day!, sarcastic and above all actually thinks that I am pretty amazing at what I do.

Having your confidence trashed, when you are as self assured as I am (or thought I was) is quite a humbling experience and I hadn’t realised until recently, how I’d been affected by all the drama and emotions of the 'situation'.

I used to spend hours dissecting myself. I would nervously double-check everything. I would question myself about everything, from my work actions to my relationships with colleagues - All the time doubting my own sense of self belief.

I wasn’t actually even sure once I was ‘set free’ whether I would be able to pitch myself at someone else, with that same BB confidence I used to have.

At the end of my first week MGH thanked me for restoring order to his chaotic world (his regular assistant is away on maternity leave and she has been followed by a string of temps with varying degrees of competence),and generally being amazing!

How nice to hear daily positivity being associated with me and my work again. It’s reminded me of how cool it is to work with somebody who not only values my work, but thinks the fact that I show up good to go every day is a plus! Go BB! Go!

So at the moment, I am in the enviable position of waking up every day not dreading going to work. I don’t actually even know what’s going to happen before I get there. Every day is that different.

Aside from missing M and A every blooming day (well you would miss your right hand buddies too wouldn’t you?)- I feel like I’ve lucked out!

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t dropped like Alice into a weird and wild Wonderland, where joy and mischief dance through trees everyday. Trust me I already have one person here who bugs the hell out of me.

What drives me nuts about dealing with this person ? Try working with someone who issues 'daily commands', that aren’t quite complete and therefore require a string of supplemental clarification update emails.

The longest running command has so far resulted in 32 ”....and just one more thing you need to know” emails grrr……!

Despite this, my new role as the little white rabbit that everyone wants a piece of, you know elusive, super efficient, busy, but always on the ball and welcoming......suits me to a T !

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Retail Therapy

I nearly forgot to tell you all about my London Fashion Week experience that happened last Saturday and saved me from the birthday blues and what ifitis that so somehow manages to catch hold of me each year.

As every girl knows retail therapy is not just to help you get over some dodgy break-up it is an ongoing necessity and fundamental right for women everywhere.

When SG called me to say she has tickets for LFW, my pre-existing plans for that particular day were exd from my memory zone before I could click my fingers and snap my heels.

By lunchtime she hadn't call and my chance to hang out with the beautiful crowd seemed to have evaporated, so I took myself off to my local market in search of fruity hit. Just as my server had finished dropping my apples and oranges into to my trusty old lady shopper, SG called with the meeting point.

Faced with the prospect of binning my fruit, I took evasive fashionista action and headed to the nearest Primarche to find a bag that not only matched my outfit, but also hid my fruit !!

There are some accessories a diva can work at a fashion show, but a shopper full of fruit is not one of them!

When we arrived we were meet by a battery of wild, slightly crazed but gorgeous women, who despite being hemmed in by other equally enthusiastic women, couldn't be prevented from letting out a continuous flurry of whoops, squeals and squawks when finally getting their hands on much coveted purchases.

Before we arrived I asked SG how long the event lasted, included the fashion shows
"Closes at 10" she said, smiling that mischievous smile of hers, which always means she about do something naughty. On this occasion she just smacked her husband's credit card....Hard!

We finally left at 7pm and trust me it was way too early, but truly necessary for moi. After all you can't eat a pair of shoes can you?

Monday, 1 March 2010

G and Me !

G and I have agreed to stay friends much to my eternal relief. I have to be honest I felt a little pressured in our little transition from friends to whatever. A stream of disasters, plus the inevitable 'is it me?' led me to take a shot at something I knew in my hearts of hearts would't work....for me anyway.

Another one of those little lessons I seem to spend most of my life learning! In this instance however, no pain, no navel gazing woe is me crap, just another blooming note to self to trust my instincts more!

One Week On !

So I'll admit I've a wobble....a big one...I am now 15 days away from one of those super tricky birthdays and in the past week it's been gnarling away at me like some deranged caterpillar feasting on an oversized apple.

I expected so much more of myself by now....all the usuals...a great job, a finished house (my house has been a building site for about two years1), a little bb or two running round and hey even the real deal man.

It's not looking too good or that's what I thought until Saturday and one of those reaffirming days with friends which gives you that shot in the arm that you need, when self pity takes up residence, like some house guest that has outstayed their welcome.