In the hood…and some thoughts on pants.

So I saw Robin Hood (on your recommendation)…and I thought it was pants.

It was all too plot heavy and full of Crowe trying to be as cool as he was in Gladiator but failing because: a) he’s older and less hot, and b) everyone now knows he’s a borderline nutjob so it just seemed like a bit desperate. Like watching the aging bachelor uncle try to dance with the bridesmaids at weddings. Painful. Plus, more of the haunting woman wailing music, flash backs in wierd grey technicolour, cheesy lines about lambs and limes, or lions, I don’t know, and tough-but-hearts-of-gold sidekicks. Bored now. And that ginger guy from ER was in it, with a bad Scottish accent and a bow and arrow and that just didn’t work AT ALL.

So, yeah, you’re wrong. Bygones.

Plus, there’s only one rightful Robin Hood, and his name rhymes with Levin Bostner. You know i’m right.

Now, about this washing. Dear oh, dear, oh dear. What a keffufle (is that how you spell that?). I remember the Straddling Bath washing stance well from my gap year, it is so undignified and really doesn’t work at all. Your clothes are just wet, and wrinkled, and still not exactly Persil fresh.

Anyhoo, I reckon it won’t be long before you won’t miss any of the home appliances of which you speak. Rich and I spent a tedious 15 minutes trying to fix the broken dishwasher at the weekend, and my washing machine makes the entire house shake when it’s on its spin cycle. And the oven’s light is broken. And the hoover keeps turning itself off. See, aint so grand over here either.

Except that I keep raking in the free shit, check out this latest haul…and that’s just HALF of it. Ah, good times.

But listen, dude. What else is happening? Where are you living now? When are you moving into the bachelorette pad with The Journalist? Have you started work now proper? Are you going trekking again? Have you been out boozing yet? Have you used your coffee mugs yet? Shall I send an emergency pants aid package via the Red Cross? I NEED MORE INFORMATION. Dammit.

Big love

Queenie xxxxxxxxxxx

Posted in Queenie Blogs | 8 Comments

Hand Washing 101

Always connected Queenie – great minds and all that.

You gave me one hellva a fright with the title of your last post, not to mention some of the content – who is this non-drinking, oat eating home body you talk of? Brace yourself for my leave in February because I WILL undo all your good work.

Woelf has already suggested that he has a) become richer and b) healthier since my departure, which can’t be true surely?  Not after I had laid such solid ground work for general bad behaviour … sob … You were supposed to supervise.  Explain yourself Queenie?

I’m still in a state of disbelief that people pay to have their feet nibbled by fish?!  Give me strength … I will require photographic evidence and full disclosure on this please.  Until such time I am convinced you are making it up to pull punters in for pampered, which BTW FYI I love but can’t look at without being aswash with envy.

It actually made me think of the little luxuries I miss – the sleeve on Starbucks coffee, Pret Croissants, traffic lights .. that work, and the more fundermental home appliances I now realise I would like to marry.

Not to be taken out of context, I absolutely love being back in Uganda, but while straddling the bath this morning covered in blue omo washing powder, I realised perhaps I have had too much ‘Kellogg’s’ and am not as African savvy as I once was …

As part of my interview P asked if I had had too much ‘Kellogg’s’.  As you can imagine I was somewhat taken aback and more than a little confused – had I missed some vital clinical study on the productive benefits of Kellogs vs.Weetabix or did P measure one’s ability in the work place by the food they ate … thorough, if a little weird.

Fortunately he went on to explain that living in London is essentially a luxury, with access to anything and everything you could possibly want and Africa, is not … in the conventional sense.

Only too true I found last night when I I was straddling the bath, trousers rolled up, hair pasted to face.  Why you might ask, and with good reason.  The answer – when rooting around the kitchen of my current digs at the office I realised there was no washing machine and having run out of pants, I would have to hand wash.

Somewhat of a foreign concept, but undeterred and feeling intrepid I headed out to the staff quarters to ask Sam if I could borrow a bucket and some washing powder. ‘Why?’ was his response, followed by shock, disbelief and utter horror as I explained my plan – as I left, after some reassurances that I was perfectly capable, with buckets balanced on my hip and washing powder in hand I’m sure I glimpsed a smirk …

They are as laid back when negotiating traffic - reassuring no?

High on my apparent practicality and obvious ability to adapt to any and all situations, I jumped on a boda boda (kamikaze style motorbikes that originally transported people between borders) to hot tail it to the supermarket for bleach (recommended by Sam for whiter than white) and a few supplies.

The traffic was absolute gridlock so in an effort to get through Boda man weaved  at break neck speed between three lanes of tightly packed land cruisers and then, faced with no alternative, hopped the curb and hoofed it down the sidewalk.

The driver responded to my muted squeals with a matter of fact ‘you are not used.  We make it’ and bumped us into a higher gear – nerves spent, I buried my head in his back and pulled in my knees for fear of losing them to an NGO bumper.

I managed to negotiate the supermarket despite the mismarked aisles (note to self for future reference washing powder is in the canned fruit aisle) only to be berated at check out for not having weighed my fruit – who knew?

I hopped a boda and headed home windswept and slightly traumatised.

This morning having soaked my laundry I rinsed, wrung out and hung my pants in the shower (I wasn’t about to put them on the communal line) and headed up to hang the rest to the mild amusement of the accounts department.

C stopped me in the corridor to confirm the rumours and when demonstrating my technique and the effort involved, burst into a loud cackle at the mad white girl with the laundry detergent – turns out it’s common practice for Sam to do it … you live and learn.

So in summary Queenie, hug your washing machine because I for one miss mine.

Big love, B xx

Posted in Beani Blogs | 5 Comments

Breaking News!! Shampers goes into administration…

I mean, like HOW much, could that be us?!!

Only joking! Though I expect it’s imminent. There aren’t enough half squiffy, well-spoken-but-vaguely-predatory business men in the world to make up for the dent in profits they’ve been experiencing since you sodded off to Ahhfrica and we stopped haemorraging our monthly salary into good Spanish wine, chilli squid and rib eye steak.

I havent actually been in there since you left. It’s too sad. In fact I’ve been being rather healthy and swimming a lot andrinking not a lot, and eating oats and stuff. It’s a new me, you wouldn’t recognise me.

I had actually been writing this on Wednesday morning (at the exact same time you were writing your post, connected much??!) So anyway, i’ve delayed it, because two posts in one day is more than anyone can manage.

Amazing to hear all about your trek and the incredible things you’ve seen and done, what a life to be living. I’m in awe and wonderment.

So, back in Blighty, much has stayed the same, Rich was enjoying work until some tool he’d placed backed out of the deal and he’s back to No Sales, which means he’s sad, and those puppy dog eyes just kill me everytime.

Check out the Spoondog Millionaire, just hanging out, keeping cool, man. Word. Mouse. Whatever.

Its getting ever colder here, even my fridge is colder. Spoony is still mad, she’s asleep on the sofa. See?

I’m working my two days at week in town and then enjoying working from home the rest. We’ve been to see friends in Cambridge and walked their dogs. They have two Rhodesian ridgebacks, which made me think about you in Uganda a lot. Sigh.

I’ve also been working on developing a beauty review/spa treatments site I’ve been tinkering with for a while, and finally got it properly up and running. www.pamperedpauper.wordpress.com. I’m getting some seriously interesting stuff through it too – this week I’m having my hair washed in chocolate, my feet nibbled by lots of tiny little fish, and my makeup srayed on with a spray gun. Such excellent randomness in this good city of ours. Oh and I bought a new mouse mat. It’s got black and white swirls. And, I think that’s you all caught up with the important news.

So, pleased you are happy and doing such amazing things, I can’t wait to Skype you and go through it all over a bottle of red.

Laters hunny

Queeniexxxxx

Posted in Queenie Blogs | 1 Comment

Virunga, Rwanda … And the Gorillas

Hey Queenie,

You little legend you!!  About bloody time you did your PhD.

Although not quite the standard setting for literary intellectuals (I’m thinking a library and Chesterfield wingbacks would be more appropriate), I think our favourite central London wine bar may have had more to do with your decision than my debunking to Ahhhfrica.

My last two years in London were punctuated with nights spent perched on stools, albeit precariously, propping up the bar at Shampers (and single handily doubling their turnover!!) talking books and authors.  Basis for any good thesis I reckon, ‘Rioja and Reading … Slurred’!

Anderton’s bottom really is very impressive and you can’t really blame Rich for eking what little enjoyment he can from what is essentially a chick flick – how is Geeeeeoooooorgeous Rich anyway?!

News from the Southern Hemisphere is that I’m now back in Kampala after an ass numbing, but totally fantastic 12 day tour of the Volcanoes Lodges … hair styling, nit picking and general frivolity with apes included.

We spent two nights in Kigali before heading up country to Virunga Lodge, which is a 3 and half hour drive from the city through spectacular scenery.  We did the whole 12 days in … wait for it … a combie … I shit you not!  We were like a dysfunctional girl group on tour, but without a stylist.

Virunga Lodge is named after a chain of volcanoes called the Virungas which run along the northern border of Rwanda and make up part of the Great Rift Valley.   There are eight Volcanoes altogether, but the most impressive are Nyiragongo, Gahinga and Sabyinyo, which literally translated means Old Man’s Teeth.

The drive to the lodge, while absolutely stunning is completely toe curling in the rainy season and had almost all of us cowering below window level – we resembled a group of Ostriches, bottoms high, heads buried!

It overlooks two fresh water lakes on either side and sits high at the end of a red ribbon of road that runs along the saddle of two mountains. The lodge is made up of eight bandas that cling to the side of the mountain and a main reception area with wrap around veranda and indoor log fire.  From the viewing deck you can see the three largest volcanoes, which disappear into the mist in the early evening only to reappear again with the moon.

Sales pitch much?!

We arrived late Thursday to some well watered guests and an ice cold beer (Papa they are still as good as ever).  Over a communal dinner a guest with staunch Texan accent recounted his recent trek, which involved being bitch slapped by a female Gorilla; she literally ran up behind him and slapped him on the ass!

SilverbackThis did not provide any comfort to ‘French’ who a) is an African virgin and therefore convinced she would in some way lose her life on this trip and b) doesn’t like animals … at all.  She and I were up early doors the next morning for our trek … the fear was palpable.

We trekked for 2 hours with ‘French’ turning a whiter shade of pale with every minute.  She was shaking by the time we had cameras poised for the first sighting, which inevitably turned out to be one of the biggest Silverbacks I’ve ever seen – couldn’t have been a cute cuddly baby could it, no the universe decided to scare the crap out of her with a monster sized ape!

I confess even I was a little clingy.  He sauntered out from nowhere forcing our group to scatter and under barked orders from the guide, fling ourselves in an Olympic fashion into the nearest bush.  He eyed us briefly with a distinct sense of satisfaction, now sprawled in trees and/or undergrowth, before flopping down near his brood, foot in tree, tummy in air and arms spread wide.

Once we’d regrouped and settled the guide suggested we move a little to get a better view.  While he glided over the vegetation like some sort of Shakespearean forest nymph in khaki I, pink faced and sweating, ended up waist deep in a fallen tree and subsequently unable to move without winch.  I decided it was best to stay put and readied my camera.

Turns out being trapped by a fallen tree with a group of curious youngsters is not an ideal situation – the view is great, but the proximity is not.  See you’re supposed to keep a minimum of 7 metres between you and it.  Trouble is when you’re stuck in a tree and the guide starts yelling to ‘keep the distance’ because said youngster is closing in for a hug, you’re torn between going in for a cuddle and peeing your pants.

I did my best to haul ass, but after several failed attempts and a lot of panting, the guide took matters into his own hands and dragged me with some force by my trousers.   I landed on top of him in a pile up … graceful it was not.

We spent an hour with the family, who number 21 and have a silverback and two blackbacks, and they are without doubt the most magnificent creatures I’ve ever seen.   They are so human in the way they interact with eachother and have a very dignified air … when Silverback is not farting like a trooper – it’s the vegetation you know.

I feel utterly privileged to have had witnessed the last remaining Mountain Gorillas in the world in the wild, and to have seen the care and attention given by the guides and trackers who protect them.

It was awe-inspiring.

Big love as always,

B x

Posted in Beani Blogs | 7 Comments

Date night, and other things…

Hi Beani,

I’m guessing you’re now hanging out with the gorillas, swapping hair styling tips, picking flies off each other, you know, same old, same old. Hope it is awesome. Pictures and details please. Soon. And I don’t want any excuses about being in the jungle, no access to electricity/internet, blah blah fishcakes.

So back in Blighty and it’s definitely autumn here. The weather’s been beautiful actually. Today the sky is bright blue, there’s a chill in the air, and that autumn smell – you know, kind of sweet and foresty. Anyway, it lovely. It’s my fave time of the year, I love it when the nights get colder, and the days are crisp and cold, and that smell my heating makes when I first turn it on. And then there’s Halloween, and bonfire night, and fireworks at Alexandra Palace,  and then Christmas which makes everything seem more fun.

So, now for some actual news. I’m not working today – which is handy because I am rather hungover (but more on that later). I’m not working cos i’ve cut my days at work down to two and half and i’m leaving at the end of October. Yay! It’s been pretty challenging there the last couple of months, and I know it’s not what I want to be doing, and if I stay any longer i’m just gonna get stuck in a job I really don’t like. I made the decision earlier this week, and I have to say part was inspired by you going, seeing you do something you’ve always wanted to. I saw a great quote the other day, “He who seeks dreams will dance into tomorrow, igniting passions and capturing hearts.”And while a little cheesy, it resonated with me on Monday morning. So I’m gonna spend this time really working on making my PhD a reality. I’m very excited.

So last night Rich and I went out. We’ve decided to make every Thursday ‘date night’. Oh yeah – it’s a classic for a reason. Just nice to have night during the week where we’re not worrying about cooking dinner, working late, watching bad TV, doing the ironing etc etc. So anyway, last night was our first date night and it was up to me to organise it. So we went for dinner first, at a cool pub in Belsize Park, and then went to the cinema to see Tamara Drewe at the awesome Everyman Cinema where you and I went once, sat in the big reclining armchairs and drank much wine. The film was kind of ok. Bit girly, funny in places. Though, actually, the only bit Rich really liked was the gratuitous hot pants shot of Gemma Arteton. (It ws quite impressive). And then I walked all the way home in heels. It hurt. As does my hangover.

So it’s scary movie and curry takeaway night here for us both, and then we’re fancy dess shopping on Sat morning, before meeting Woefey (and possibly Li) for lunch in Camden tomorrow.

And I think that’s you all caught up. Keep having the time of your life,

Big love

Queenie xxxx

Posted in Queenie Blogs | 5 Comments

Me and My Wheelie

Hey Queenie,

Now in Rwanda and Kigali is possibly the cleanest city I’ve seen in my life.  Aline (my French colleague) was basically apprehended at customs for carrying a plastic bag (they are literally banned) and I’m too terrified to smoke in case I’m rugby tackled to the floor by the Rwandan Army!

Our driver informed us that Rwandans our law abiding citizens and that there is no’ leaking on the streets’ (the expression had V and I leaking in the car with hysterics) or spitting, both of which will land you in jail.  That aside, it really is very beautiful.

Mama sent me a quote today – “If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough.”, which is very appropriate given I’ve now debunked to Ahhhfrica and am currently on safari with a wheelie Bag!

I felt like such an ass getting off the plane with a wheelie bag, dwarfed by V and Aline, both of whom have hard core I’m-in-Africa-and-completely-prepared rack sacks , but I figure that’s living on the edge baby, me and the wheelie.

I trek for Gorillas Thursday and was asked if I was taking the wheelie with me?!  I might as well wear a pair of jimmy Choos and a cocktail dress!  Fortunately I have my trusty rack sack for water, waterproof and respiratory equipment … I hear they can get you down by stretcher, which is thoroughly reassuring!

Oh and had the most entertaining conversation with the cash man in the Kampala office, who was so impressed that I remembered his name explained that it was very difficult to tell mazungus apart and the only way to distinguish them  was by size – I quote ‘Alex you are the big one (reinforced by appropriate hand gestures illustrating my expanded hips) and Vanessa, she is the small one’!!

Carol assures me it is a compliment and that I could most definitely secure a couple of goats while V is working in chickens.  Lucky me!

What the heck were we thinking with the hats?!!

Posted in Beani Blogs | 3 Comments

The big send off….

Hey Bean,

Stop press!

The pics from the weekend of debauchery and leaving dos are in. Thought you might enjoy them. So pleased to see in the ‘hat’ shots that I look like an escaped mental patient crashing a photo. Classy.

Oooh, and also great to hear an update from your Mama on how you’re doing – (folks, click here and scroll down to see it.)

Now then, on with the shame…

Wow, that was quite some send off. I’m just tired looking at it again.

Big love,

Queenie xxxx

Posted in Queenie Blogs | 3 Comments