Sunday, 29 November 2009

Tress Stress

I’ve been fooled into a false economy with my follicles.

Because I’ve been so busy lately (and trying to cut back on my spending) I opted to have my hair cut at a local salon, rather than my usual James Dun's House, where they throw in all kinds of lovely extras as part of the package.

The five minute journey - as opposed to travelling into the City Centre - and twenty pound less charge for a cut and blow dry was enough to have me tripping to the salon with the smug air of Cheryl Cole in the L’Oreal advert.

It was only after my hair had been washed that I realised I had made a mistake and as I wasn’t prepared to leg it back to the car with soaking wet hair, I had no choice but to sit it out. My sadistic side was refusing to let me leave anyway; it wanted to punish me for my lack of loyalty to Liam (my hairdresser).

To be fair, the haircut I left with isn’t that bad, but it took over two hours. Well, actually the haircut took about 15 minutes – the rest of the time was taken up by my snipper talking about himself, looking at himself in the mirror and fixing his own hair.

That episode has been more than enough to let me see that once you find the hairdresser of your dreams, you stick to them like the glue on your extensions.

So, how lucky am I to have opened a belated birthday card - dropped off last night by my lovely chum, Kirsty - and to have found a voucher for James Dun's House inside?

Sharpen up your scissors Liam, here I come!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Pants and Parrots

The lovely Liz is heading into hospital on Friday for her third (and hopefully final) spine operation and has had me laughing until it hurts with tales of her last two experiences.

Her first op was at the very top of her spine and in the hours following her return from theatre, she had the sneaking suspicion that something wasn’t quite right. Even in her post anaesthetic confusion, she could sense that something she’d definitely had before was no longer there.

It was only when the porter arrived with a trolley bearing her pants in a plastic bag that she realised why she felt so exposed.

She’s never got to the bottom (pardon the pun) of why their removal was in any way related to an operation so near her neck, but feels in this situation 'ignorance is bliss' and will remain ever grateful for that last minute wax she went for.

It was after her second operation though that she really thought she’d lost her mind.

During the night she was convinced that her medication wasn’t right and was so distressed that she kept pressing the buzzer for the nurse. After what must have seemed like the millionth time for the poor night-duty nurse, she marched into Liz’s room to demand quite why she was so certain that her medication was wrong.

Liz – crying and completely hysterical by this point – admitted that she was hallucinating and it was terrifying her.

“I can hear animals! Parrots, monkeys, all kinds of animals and it’s like being in the jungle!”

“That, Mrs Barrie”, replied the nurse in terse tones, “is because we are right next door to the zoo.”

Monday, 23 November 2009

Boom & Bust Banking - Part II

I wrote earlier about my banking boom (paying off my massive loan) and now I’m going to write about my bust.

Not the one that I religiously treat to Clarins gel each morning, although I have to admit that stuff works brilliantly…

No, I'm talking about a letter from our bank saying they were going to charge us £1 for every day that we used our arranged overdraft. As most of our direct debits are out within a few days of us being paid, we generally use our overdraft facility quite quickly and had worked out that the new scheme could cost us around £25 a month.

That's £25 too much, but a quick call to the bank told me I could eliminate the overdraft cost by switching to another account. That sounded like a much better plan, until they told me that I’d have to pay £12.50 a month for the privilege.

So, after nearly two decades, we are waving a fond farewell to the Bank of Scotland and phasing out our accounts over the next couple of months; as are most of my friends and colleagues who use the same bank.

£1 a day might not seem like a big deal, but in the current climate, it’s a pound that would be much happier placed in my pocket.

Friday, 13 November 2009

You Don't Look A Day Older...

I've come to the conclusion that if you don't officially celebrate your birthday, then you don't officially have to add another year on to your age.

Having missed my own 40th last year through ill health and having a very low key birthday this year through Kevin's ill health, I've decided to regress a little and it feels great!

And I can't be the only one doing it. By my calculations, Caprice was 33 for at least five years.

So Happy Birthday to me! Thirty nine again... and again... and again.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Boom & Bust Banking - Part I

I’ve been so preoccupied with playing nurse over the last few days, that a date I’d been waiting to celebrate for the last five years went by almost un-noticed.

That date was the 6th November and it marked the last installment of a hefty loan I had taken out to consolidate my credit card debts - and then like the true idiot I am, ran them all back up to their limit again.

In all honesty, I don’t know what I was expecting when that final payment was made.

A card from the bank congratulating me on my flawless repayment record?

A balloon in a box bearing the message “Well Done Debtor”?

A fly past from the Red Arrows?

None of those things happened, but I did give myself a little pat on the back and put the past five years of paying over £350 a month to that loan down as a lesson learned.

A very long and expensive lesson...

Monday, 9 November 2009

Me & Miss Jones

It’s been a busy week here at the House of Hall, with a poorly patient to look after (I’m delighted to report that he’s getting a little better and a little cheekier each day) and all of his visitors to keep fed and watered.

In between episodes of tea and sympathy, I’ve been going back to my old habit of logging on and reading the newspapers online.

Initially, I did it to stop spending money on magazines and papers that would lie unread for months before being tipped into the recycle bin, then I realised that as well as saving a small fortune, I was also saving a small forest by not wasting all that paper.

Anyway, last week, whilst having a browse through the Daily Mail, I saw that another shopaholic has held up her Gucci gloved hands and confessed to having fallen foul of debt.

Despite being the highest paid columnist in the UK - how, I wish I had her job - Liz Jones has admitted to around 150 thousand pounds worth of debt.

Liz Jones

Interestingly enough, she has adopted exactly the same technique I did before my shopping ban, which was to completely bury my head in the sand, ignore any mail that might be a bill, and refuse to add it all up and face the awful truth.

As I’m sure hundreds of other debt-busting bloggers will agree, the only way to tackle this is head on.

So, welcome to our world Liz and here is a little advice...

Hang on to the things you truly love, work out how you can survive without all the rest, then draw up an action plan to get your finances back on track and stick to it!

It’s the only way and it’ll be a rough ride without your retail therapy to see you through, but at the end, you might just become a better person for it.

Monday, 2 November 2009

African Queen

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Mother was heading off on the trip of a lifetime and that we’d bought her a journal to record every marvellous moment, but I hadn’t mentioned where she was going.

At the age of sixty six, she has decided to set off on a true African Adventure and flew out to the Gambia this morning.

She’ll be there for the next five weeks helping with the work of the Gambian Schools Trust.

She has assured me that she’ll do her best not to get eaten by a lion, but I think the most hair-raising part of her entire trip will have been her flight out of the UK this morning in some of the worst storms of the year.

While I can’t wait to see her pictures, I have the feeling that I may be the tiniest bit jealous of all that lovely sunshine.