Category Archives: Ridiculous Me

Scaling the Fences of Clapham

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IMG_3414.JPG So this story is just about as me as it gets. Unlucky me who always ends up in ridiculous situations, yep that’s the one. To be honest I haven’t found myself in too many palavas of late and I think my blog has been lacking content because of this. What is my life if not an endless string of poos on cars and kitchen failures? But this morning joy found herself in a bit of a pickle.

Having stayed the night at a friends house in clapham I had an easy journey the next day so decided to have a bit of a lie in. Unbeknownst to this, everyone else in the house left to go to work and (perfectly reasonably) double locked the front door. I then got up on my jolly way and attempted to leave the house to find myself well and truly locked in.

I tried calling everyone with no luck so I then searched the house for easy exits or balconies or any kind of way out. When that was a fail I searched the house for keys. And when that was a fail I went to examine the fence. Now this is a pretty damn high fence. At first examination I thought the only way over was into neighbours gardens and I didn’t quite fancy getting arrested. However on closer examination (standing on a chair and getting leaves stuck in my hair) I realised there was a way over the back into some kind of wall garden.

I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a climbing queen. When I was a youngster on family holidays I would be that weirdo who runs off to climb cliffs just for the lols. One time I got stuck up an Italian mountain and slipped all the way down almost plunging to my death until a random man saved me. Good old climbing related near-death-experiences and all that. So of course I couldn’t resist the chance to climb a fence and add some adventure to my Thursday morning. The bag went over first, but before I could get myself over I got a call from one of the girls saying ‘whatever you do DONT leave without locking the doors’. Oh yeah that’s what id forgotten, the back door. But my bag was already over. I could have just left it there until someone let me out but being the woman who loses every belonging possible I thought I would be semi-sensible and get it back over. So I hoiked myself over the fence, experiencing a cruel taste of freedom, and went back into the house. Many neighbours were out in their gardens smoking and probably thought I was the worst escapee ever. Who goes to the effort of climbing over a fence to then climb back into the place they escaped from?! Me apparently.

Then came the waiting game. Waiting for the landlord. When it turned out that she wasn’t in London, waiting for the estate agent to open. Waiting for the estate agent to look for keys in the slowest way possible. The estate agent being a bitch. ‘We can’t give you keys if you’re not a tenant so your friend is going to have to come home from work’ (insert bitchy whiny voice). Well thanks but no thanks, I’m going back over the fence. A lightbulb came through the idea of locking the door from the outside (the fact that I hadn’t thought of this already shows my utter lack of common sense). So off I went, door locked, up the fence and over the wall. Having already done this once I was a pro; I owned that fence. Go me.

I’m not sure if there really is a life lesson to learn from this story. Where there is a will there is a way? Fences are made for climbing over? Now I definitely sound like a burglar freak. I think the positive nature in which I viewed this incident shows that I crave ridiculous occurrences in my life and they are probably necessary. What’s a Thursday morning without a little problem solving and energetic fence scaling activity anyway?

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My Attempt At Not Being A Kitchen Failure

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428434_10152760803035251_1236947972_n As much as I love cooking and baking and good food and dinner parties and thinking about food ALL THE TIME, I’m not the biggest success in the kitchen. Sure, I’ve made some yummy dinners and my chocolate chip cookies are pretty damn fabulous, but for every cooking attempt that turns out okay I probably have ten fails. A few notable examples…

  • The red velvet cake that volcanoed all over the oven while I got distracted by the ‘oh it will only take 5 minutes’ survey man at the door. Thirty five minutes is not an acceptable amount of time to ask me what channel I watch the news on and ruin my cake.
  • That time I tried to empty the dishwasher hungover with a blanket over me, cracked a plate on the side, and gave up on life so left a pile of crockery in the middle of the kitchen floor.
  • The shepherds pie that we maybe accidentally dribbled in and then covered it up with 5 tablespoons of cinnamon so it tasted like Christmas.
  • The brookies… as inspired as my efforts were in combining two of the best desserts, these were just not good. Cookie + brownie = shit non-cake weirdly shaped thing.
  • The 3 plates and cafetiere I broke by repeatedly dropping things on them. Whoever gave me the cupboard above the draining board made a terrible mistake.
  • The time we spilt cereal everywhere and then smashed eggs on the floor.
  • The multiple multiple spillages caused by my clumsy self, never learning that if you place a bowl of soup on the arm of a chair with a throw on it and then sit down, it will fall on you.
  • The many oven gloves I’ve burnt on the hob, and saucepans I’ve melted.
  • The carbonara we made with yoghurt because some fancy recipe told us to and it curdled so we ate weird lumps of dairy produce with our pasta.

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Wow, there were more than I thought. You get the idea. I am probably the epitome of a kitchen failure. So as part of my ‘trying to be healthy’ thing (on the weekdays obvs, ain’t no stopping me inhaling dominos and curries after a night of wine and gin.. all the calories) I thought I would try deliciously Ella’s recipe for energy bites. Or as I like to call them, balls. Because that is what they are. And what’s a day at work without an innuendo about eating someone’s balls. The recipe involves some pricey ingredients (being healthy is no easy feat for someone who spends all the money on alcohols), but absolutely no cooking or baking at all. So basically no opportunity for me to fail. Famous last words..

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Having gathered my medjool dates, almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, ground flaxseed, coconut oil and cacao powder, I proceeded to combine said ingredients in the blender. Turns out our blender is an absolute pile of rubbish poo. No matter how I tried to manipulate it the damn blade just refused to blend my nuts. How rude of it. After much frustration I resorted to my backup plan, the hand blender. (I’m sure using a hand blender inside a blender is against all sorts of health and safety regulations but at this point I had no cares). This was even more of a disaster. I ended up spinning ingredients around so they flew out of the blender and into my hair. And across the entire kitchen. The result = I resorted to the old fashioned hands. Get stuck in there, that’s the way to do it. There may be many lumps of nuts still present, but they only add character. I ended up with ball shaped things with all the ingredients, therefore I am success.

You would think the endless amount of fails I perform in the kitchen would discourage me from cooking-related activity, but I just love food too much to let this put me off. The foods I make may look questionable but if the end result is edible, it’s probably worth the breakages and spillages and ridiculous antics that occur in the process.

An Unconventional Swim

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Recently myself and some friends have taken up swimming semi-regularly. Having toyed with many different types of exercise and failed on every account, I’ve been keen to find something that gives me a good workout but doesn’t feel much like working out. Running is too boring, the gym is too pretentious, bikram yoga is too intense, and anything that requires me to put on a video and exercise in my relax home time is just naat happening.

Swimming has so far been perfect. It’s refreshing (especially on a hangover day), it works all your muscles, and you get to have a good old chinwag in between lengths. Yes I said chinwag. Yes we are old ladies. I’ve begun to realise that the reason swimming is so enjoyable for us may be because we don’t swim in the conventional way that most do. On our trips to the pool we see people arrive, swim continuous lengths in the fast lane, and leave (except for that man who swims in a retard diagonal position EVERY TIME). Our experience is slightly different.

We arrive, splash around a bit to try and get over the shock of the unnaturally cold water, and then float in the middle of the pool for a good 20 minutes. During this time we will catch up on life’s events. More often than not a great song will start playing on swimming pool radio and so of course we will do a dance routine. This is a surprisingly hard feat when over half your body mass is under water. Let’s just say some of the dance moves don’t work as smoothly as they might normally (because normally we are smooth masters).

This sort of behaviour could be embarrassing in a public place where dancing is not a regular occurrence, especially whilst watched by many mothers waiting for their children to learn to swim. But we are simply in our element. I definitely saw the lifeguards clicking and dancing along last time. You know they love it.

After a sufficient amount of chill time, we might do a length or two. One of us will attempt to swim backwards so as to carry on chinwagging, most likely causing a crash. We will then take a breather at the other end of the pool where most people like to push off for their next length. We definitely never get in their way. Okay that’s a lie, last time a man dived over my head because he couldn’t be bothered to wait for me to move. I’d only been there for 10 minutes, god.

Occasionally we will get into a bit of a swimming streak (like, 4 lengths in a row, wow) but normally we will end up defying any kind of swimming system and annoy everyone swimming in the correct direction. All the swimming through a sea of men.

You could say that our version of ‘going for a swim’ might not be particularly productive. Could it actually be called exercise? I believe so. Our ratio of swim to chat/other-non-swim-activity might be unconventional, but we stay in that pool until our fingers are like wrinkly wrinkled things which means we must have done a justifiable amount of exercise. Unlike other exercise forms, the thought of going swimming doesn’t fill me with dread or make me want to rebel and eat 3 and a half bars of chocolate under a blanket on the sofa. We have a side order of fun with our exercise, and that’s definitely how it should be. Here I come bikini body.

Why It’s Always Better To Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

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735967_10151730904118262_1823412258_o Dancing is one of the best things you can do. I’m not even going to say ‘in my opinion’ because it’s basically a fact. And when I say dancing, I don’t mean edgy head bobbing or two-stepping. I mean full on, going for it, not caring what anyone thinks of you dancing. Imagine phoebe running in friends and apply that to a music situation.

We all have our standard go-to moves that come out after a beverage or two, and I’m not judging that. Those moves are a good starting point for a night of dancing. For example my move would be the hand-waves, and everyone knows it. A friend and I once compiled a dance routine of everyone’s go-to moves and realised we must look like a bunch of twats when we all start dancing together.

But that’s entirely the point. Dancing can’t be properly fun unless you forget about everyone besides your immediate circle and just get low and jiggy with it. My absolute favourite nights are those where the music goes from high to high and the dancing gets more and more hilarious. The nights where randomers join your dance circle just because you are the most fun dancers in that club, and don’t you know it. 1275403_10151730959333262_718236710_o For example, this weekend we attended two 80s nights. Of course 80s music demands ridiculous dancing and so we brought together the greased lightning routine, the Whitney Houston power ballad, and the mustang Sally air guitar floor slide to create an all-encompassing dancing extravaganza. If the music turned to hip hop then you might see us slut dropping and twerking to flo rida, crumping and hip thrusting to Beyoncé, and generally being the most gangsta dancers you have ever seen. Alternatively a slow emotional song could come on and we would end up interpretive dancing across the dance floor, running and flailing and probably throwing ourselves at people. 10431682_10204967412927488_5591170099969414282_n 1238075_10151808865941609_138532339_n

Personally I’ve always employed the ‘dance like nobody’s watching’ attitude, but this year we actually made it a New Years resolution. And with that, we took it one step further. We started choreographing dance routines to our favourite songs which we would then crack out on the dance floor. And the funny thing is, dancing like nobody’s watching actually means that everybody watches. Who would’ve thought? Our attempt to dance without caring what anyone thinks has now become ‘making everyone aware of what dorky dancers we are’. And I’m pretty happy with that. Watch, appreciate, and start dancing like nobody’s watching.

The Strange Life and Times of the Upchurch Household

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My upbringing was stranger than most. For starters, I was homeschooled until I was 10. You know those stereotypical homeschool freaks they show at the beginning of mean girls.. Yeah me. Okay so maybe I wasn’t a full blown freak, but hippie would definitely be the word. I wore all the colourful charity shop clothes going, ate little to no sugar and went on nature walks everyday. And it was great. Me and my sister could finish ‘school’ at 12pm and spend the rest of the day building dens in the garden or making up shows to perform to our parents and friends.

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It wasn’t just the homeschooling that made us hippies though, my parents brought many other weird and wonderful aspects to the Upchurch household. Being the generous caring people they are, our house was always open to anyone who needed it. We had ‘Mennonites’ from all around the world stay with us whilst they did their London tourist thing, sometimes as many as 12 people at once for weeks on end. My first boyfriend was a 9 year old American Mennonite (beautiful times ❤️). We also had a few of my parents’ more interesting friends staying for longer periods of time. You could never be entirely sure who you might find in the house on any given day, maybe a German family, maybe a homeless man..

But one of the most special traditions we had as a family, and one that has stayed with me to this day, was celebrating Jewish festivals. No, we are not Jewish. So why do we celebrate Jewish festivals? I really have no idea. All I know is that once you forget the whole being Jewish thing they are majorly fun. We would eat apples and honey on rosh hashana, build a tent in our garden out of sticks and leaves and eat under it for sukkot, have a family dinner with singing and dancing every Friday for Shabbat, and put on a massive meal with all of our friends every Easter time for Passover.

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This year my parents decided to go away in the campervan for the Easter weekend (of course we have a campervan) and I was slightly sad that we wouldn’t get to celebrate Passover. Then I realised I had been presented with a fabulous opportunity to do Passover my way… I love a regular dinner party more than most people so the idea of doing a Passover one was very exciting. We invited 12 friends, bought lamb and matzah and many wines, and got everyone round a table in their finest clothes (and Caribbean shirts). Generally in Passover one person reads out a script and everyone else takes it in turns to reply. So naturally we made the newbie to the group be the host. (He will probably never speak to us again now we have revealed how special we are). We then got everyone to eat parsley dipped in salt water, roasted eggs, horseradish and charoseth (a dutty looking mush made from apples nuts and wine).

Now usually Passover is quite a civilised affair, a few glasses of wine must be drunk whilst leaning to the left, but tipsy is the highest form of partay it would reach. However we decided to spice it up. Instead of using a drop of wine to represent each plague, we made everyone do a shot of wine. That’s 10 shots. Let’s just say some people were more than merry before dinner had been served…

In my typical kitchen failure fashion I gave the lamb 2 hours less than it should’ve had, meaning a dinner of potatoes and veg was served whilst we awaited lamb to cook itself. But boy was it damn fine when it was finally done. After all of the foods, the Passover tradition is for the child to search the house for the hidden matzah. With there being no children we sent the littlest of us off to look for unleavened bread whilst myself and a friend danced around the living room and sang Jewish songs ‘And the trees of the field shall clap their hands.. Lai lai lai lai lai’. People appreciated it, trust. For the entirety of the meal we had left an empty chair for Elijah in case he decided to turn up. He hadn’t up to this point, surprisingly enough, so we ran down the road shouting ‘ELIJAH’ for good measure. No luck. Maybe next year. In Jerusalem.

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After the whole Jewish palava was done and dusted the night turned into one of our standard Upchurch house parties. Parties have always been a legendary affair in the Upchurch household but they have evolved somewhat from the school days. Back when we were 17 we would drink all the Smirnoff ice and Caribbean twist, think we were hilariously drunk, jump on the trampoline and video each other. Don’t do any of that anymore. Now we drink all of the rum and strawpedos, get ridiculously drunk, throw eggs at each other on the trampoline, and take many videos. Okay wait.. Maybe our parties are still exactly the same. Just with the addition of a semi-civilised dinner, and the subtraction of chav gatecrashers. Thankfully this means that (usually) no windows or doors get broken. Even though the night ended with the usual dancing on the table and passing out on sofas, doing the Passover meal made it special. My parents may have brought us up in a different (some may say slightly crazy) way, but I’m so grateful they did. If only so I can freak my friends out by quoting Jewish phrases and forcing them to eat bitter herbs.

Shabbat shalom.

All I Want for Christmas is Christmas

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I’m a bit appalled with myself that I haven’t written anything on here about Christmas yet. Me, the person who is so Christmassy I started spreading Christmas cheer at work in early November. December is always so busy that aside from a general festive feeling I haven’t been able to do as many Christmassy activities as I would like. London is abundant with winter wonderlands, ice rinks, and Christmas markets so it’s a shame to miss out on all the opportunities for a mulled wine and a german sausage. I did have one sausage at the Southbank Christmas market along with a mulled cider which was very enjoyable. It’s already Christmas Eve tomorrow and there is now no more time for running around London attempting to tick off every exciting Christmas pop up there is. So I thought I’d formulate a list of MY favourite things about Christmas. They may not be entirely conventional but they are the things that give me that warm fuzzy elfy feeling:

Family

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Absolutely my favourite Christmas aspect is being with my family. Yes, cringe, but there’s something about having all of us together that brings out the crazy and wonderful and hilarious in us.

Christmas Eve

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Going to bed before midnight on Christmas Eve and pretending you don’t know there’s a stocking full of presents at the end of your bed and waking up ultra-early acting surprised. And opening said stockings all together before going downstairs to wake up the parents and open more presents. Yes, this may sound like the story of a 10-year-old child’s Christmas Eve, but it remains to this day the way we do it. Don’t know what all this talk about getting drunk at the pub is, I’ll be cosied up asleep before Santa comes.

Food

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Food, food and food. And alcohols. Smoked salmon and scrambled egg brunch, chocolate all day, more stuffing than meat, pigs in blankets, sprouts (has to be done), then Christmas pudding AND mince pie. Then food coma on the sofa (or more likely the floor). I see Baileys as a Christmas drink but after all the food the idea of creamy liquor is slightly sickening so we usually go for Disaronno in egg cups. And all the red wine, leading us to inevitably fall asleep in front of Downton Abbey.

Boxing Day Traditions

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The standard post-Christmas-food-belly walk, and the murder mystery dinner. I would imagine most families try to do some sort of outdoor activity on Boxing Day after a cabin-fever-inducing day of indulgence, and we are no exception. Generally we walk around Virginia Water (where they filmed the Harry Potter lake scene), take lots of splendid posey winter photos, and end with a hot chocolate in the pub. The day is almost always that perfect crisp, blue sky, chilly-but-cosy English weather which makes it all the more beaut. The murder mystery may be slightly less normal for a Boxing Day tradition but I think it’s a fabulous way to end the day; we dress up and pretend to be outrageous characters whilst eating even more food and accusing each other of murder. Jolly times.

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Board Games

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One of the main things I associate with Christmas is playing board games. My family are board game fanatics at the best of times so Christmastime is an excuse to play even more – standard games like Cranium and Pictionary, as well as not so standard ones like The Great Railway Game and Harry Potter Cluedo. Can we also just note the naked Santa in the background of this photo please.

Harry Potter

Speaking of Harry Potter, Harry Potter. The films may have almost nothing to do with Christmas (except for our favourite Ron-line: “pie?”) but being a Harry Potter loving household, the films are always on at Christmas time. And once we’ve watched one, we end up watching another and another until we realise it’s almost New Years and we should probably do something with our lives.

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Pie?

Pedestrian In Road: Slow Down

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As expected, life hasn’t slowed down in the slightest. My weekends are almost always jam packed and exhausting, and this weekend was certainly no exception. I went straight from work to a surprise “Welcome Home” gathering for my friend (which was a massive success, a rarity for our attempts at organising such things), and then straight to Cardiff for another Oxjam event. Now that I have a normal job I sadly had to be back in London for work on Monday so I left Cardiff Sunday evening, drained and dreading the rainy drive home. Little did I know the events of my weekend were far from over…

It’s been a while since I had a car-related adventure to report, and I put that down to the fact that dear old Alfred is now dead and gone and therefore has not been causing me any travel stresses. The new Peugeot (yet-to-be-named) had so far been remarkably reliable and all my journeys smooth sailing. Until now. I’m going to say the non-flashing petrol gauge was to blame, but really it was my over-tired and over-caffeinated state of mind that caused the engine to give out halfway down the M4. It was also my over-tired and over-caffeinated state of mind that caused me to have a mini breakdown when I realised the implications of this situation.

The first thing I did was call my father (still a kid at heart really) but after a few minutes of complaining about how unfair life is we both came to the realisation that there wasn’t much he could do in the way of rescuing me. This was a situation for which I had to man up and deal with myself. To be fair, I was pretty lucky in that the last service station was walking distance away. However at the time getting out of my car in the middle of the motorway and walking in the rain to fill up a can of petrol seemed like the worst thing in the world. Plus the fact that I was so tired I would probably fall asleep at the wheel after this adventure and kill myself. All happy Sunday evening thoughts.

Forty minutes later, a very wet and grumpy Joy returned to the car covered in petrol (didn’t quite master the whole filling up a petrol can thing), only to have the police drive up behind me 2 seconds later. The appearance of an unexpected pair of headlights scared me shitless and at the rate my brain cells were working that evening I was in no state to talk to anyone let alone angry policemen. I somehow managed to convey my situation and they proceeded to watch me fill up the car, start up and move off. And then followed me. It was only then that I noticed the signs all along the motorway saying “Pedestrian in Road: Slow Down 50”.  That was me. This was what my life had come to; not only had I ruined my own Sunday evening I had now disturbed everyone else’s peaceful Sunday drive home by forcing them to slow down.

Feeling very silly, I turned on Radio 1 to cheer me up only to find that Annie Mac was doing a “self-pity party” soundtrack. Couldn’t have been more fitting for me at that moment in time. So I decided to tweet the perils of my evening, joining in with some much deserved self-pitying. And lo and behold, a couple of depressing songs later, Annie Mac shared my tweet with the world (or the listening audience of Sunday evening radio 1) and added her own view on my situation – “slightly embarrassing situation there”. Yes Annie, yes it was. Such is the story of my life.

Because as much as I took the self pity stance on this, I really only had myself to blame for my embarrassment. I think I have to accept that the common denominator across all ridiculous occurrences in my life, is me. Until recently I could blame my ‘special’ car but now I just have to realise that I have an utter lack of common sense and this can land me in a pickle now and again. But it’s okay, because I got a mention on Radio 1. Every cloud has its silver lining, and optimism is always the outlook I will take no matter how many motorways I end up stranded on.