Wednesday, 9 September 2015

In Which I Take a Trip to Ireland

So I'm in Ireland. Currently. My mum lives here. With a full time job I don't get to come anywhere near as much as I like but I reached the stage where I just needed a break. And then I got my new job so it's broken up my notice period nicely.

Where my mum lives is dreamy. It's so nice having the option to hop on a bus to Dublin but also just wander off into the countryside and stroke donkeys and spot hares.

Anyway, here are some activity and food highlights in photo form.

Firstly, the most important. The delicious. See photos above.

1. Froyo at Yogism. Lunch was far too long away, so our Dublin day involved brunch in Froyo form. Mine was pb, chocolate and plain, with an absolute array of amazing toppings. I think there were peanut butter cups, little bits of mint aero, sprinkles, white chocolate, bueno sauce.. and more. I just can't remember. I only went with a small and ran out of room which was probably for the best. You're charged based on weight and if you guess correctly, you get it free. A cute concept but tbh, probably impossible.

2. Chocolate flapjack. My mum is the best baker ever. And bakes cakes etc for a local coffee shop. This batch included a mixed seed flapjack, and this chocolate one. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was one of the best things I've ever tried. I have a bit of an obsession with flapjack anyway atm, but wow. Just wow. Sadly it was to sell so I didn't get anywhere near enough. Again though, probably for the best.

3. Double chocolate cheesecake at Avoca. I had planned to be healthy on our shopping trip since we have plenty of cake at home. I failed when I saw the options. We technically got 3 things to share between us, but each picked one and mainly ate our own. I'm such a fail.

4. Homemade brownies. My step dad makes the best brownies I have ever tasted in my entire life ever. I've been here 5 days and I think I've had 7. I ate a whole tub. They are INCREDIBLE. And I have an awful habit of feeling like I need to make the most of every opportunity of cake. I couldn't possibly leave without eating it all. Knowing it could have been in my mouth. So I have gone slightly wild on the home baking front. But oh my god, those brownies. You just don't understand. Words can't do them justice. JUST LOOK.

I actually want to get another one out but only because I'm a fat pig. I'm actually so full it hurts.

5. Millionaire's shortbread at KC Peaches. The food there was incredible; it really was. My sister said when she lived there they only had one store and that in the last year another 2 have popped up. Which says it all. It's basically just 'hiya, serve yourself'. But there was hot food, pasta, just every kind of salad in the world. It was dreamy. And oh my god, their cake. I managed to resist buying any because it wasn't long since the froyo, and I had a wildly large plate of carbs masquerading as salad but they were giving out samples of this millionaire's shortbread and I had 4 little pieces. It was dreamy. The girl at the counter was like 'please take more' so I guess they weren't selling because they were actually the size of my head. All of their cake options were, which definitely isn't a bad thing. The only bad thing about the place was that it was pretty busy, and the staff SWOOPED down on our table and cleared my plate the second I put my fork down, and while my sister was still eating. Which was a tad uncomfortable. Katy then bent down to pick her phone up that she'd dropped and they cleared her plate while we both had our eyes off the table for about 8 seconds. She hadn't finished, and they were too quick for us to object. But it was pretty great food, anyway.

6. My mum's jam sponge. Again, another beautiful and homemade delight. I've just a slice in fact, as they are quite small. Today I've only had a scone, a slice of that and a brownie. I've practically starved myself, cake wise. But look how beautiful it is. And the sponge is so firm yet simultaneously soft. I don't even know how that's possible, but it is. And it works oh so well.

I had every intention of being healthy today. Ergh, oh well.

2 week detox time. Kinda. I do have a lot of friends to see and alcohol to drink..

Now, activity highlights:-

1. The cute little post box at the end of our lane. I've fallen in love with what my mum calls 'the round walk', which is basically a 4 mile loop which involves walking down our lane, down through the village, and then back to meet the lane again at the other end. I've eaten so much cake that I'm having to desperately up my exercising. I did try the gym on my first day here but.. yeh. The less we say about that, the better. Let's just say it wasn't particularly well equipped. Or maintained. But I have resigned myself to a slight weight gain this week. I just fucking love cake.

2. Hippity's in Temple Bar. Me and my sister took a little outing to Dublin on Wednesday, just to wander round and drink a lot of coffee. This was one of the spots we settled at. The buses aren't exactly ideal when you live in the middle of nowhere, so we had a lot of time to kill. And that involved a lot of caffeine fuel.

3. Avoca, in Rathcoole. This place is a middle class shopper's DREAM. Fresh food, pies, mohair and lambs wool throws, every kind of bizarre & obscure health food/baking ingredient imaginable - it was dreamy. My mum had been looking for beetroot powder. I found cheesecake.

4. The Christmas display in Brown Thomas. I'm so glad summer is over. Autumn and Winter are everything, and Brown Thomas now have the majority of a whole floor dedicated to glittery and beautiful decorations. I CANT WAIT FOR CAROLS AND CANDLES AND LIGHTS.

5. Colourful buildings in Temple Bar. All of Dublin is beautiful, and one of my favourite places, but Temple Bar is definitely the most photo worthy. It's the kind of the vintage, quirky quarter. Lots of typically Irish bars, cute caf├ęs and antiquey, trinket shops.

6. 'The View'. The view of the valley down from our house and what's known to everyone as 'the view'. It's also one the round walk route. Ah, the Wicklow Mountains.

And there we have it. We're up bright and early in the morning to fly to Newcastle for a couple of days on a routine family visit. I feel like I should do the round walk again and punish myself for my cake sins but meh, it's getting dark. Might just pop the kettle down and watch Bake Off.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Office Politics: In Which I Learn a Valuable Life Lesson

"A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” 

- Roald Dahl, The Twits.

The above is one my favourite quotes. And I think it's true in reverse, too. It's not just something your mum says to make you feel better when people are mean; the people who make the petty, bitchy comments are the ones who look like the arseholes.

Nobody's perfect, obviously. And I'm definitely not. I've done and said stupid things in the heat of the moment/in arguments that I didn't mean and hated myself afterwards but, in general, I do really try my hardest to consider other people's feelings and just be NICE. So, when other people don't, it does catch me kinda off guard.

Without going into the ins and outs of it, on Monday one of my colleagues sent a really bitchy email about me to someone else in the company, and then forwarded it to the other 2 people in our department. There's only 4 of us. Unbeknownst to her, clearly, I have access to one of their emails from when I used to assist her on her days off and saw it come up. And was able to read it.

This woman is twice my age, and I have genuinely been nothing but nice to her. I talk to her all the time, we laugh, we get on etc etc. I actually thought we got on really well. But what she said was completely unnecessary and completely pointless. And from how the message was phrased, it really made me feel like people had been discussing me behind my back. And who knows, maybe they have.

I was actually pretty upset, but managed to hold it together until after 5 when I swiftly rang my dad to wail and explain the story. "She's jealous," was his simple response. "You're young and you're about to leave for an amazing new job. And she's staying there."

Whether that's true or not, and at the risk of sounding all 'holier than thou', I really just can't get my head around what would drive someone to do something so petty and pathetic just for the pure sake of it. Like, how can you be so friendly to someone's face and then turn on them in a heartbeat to score some bff points with someone else? I just don't get it. And, consequently, haven't really known how to act. Luckily, I have this week and I'm currently sat in a warm woolly fleece, drinking coffee in Ireland as I type. But for the rest of week, everything just felt so fake. I can't really hold grudges and, tbf, I'd only suffer myself if I sulked had noone to talk to. So I just got on with my work and chatted back merrily when anyone made conversation. Although no more of my cereal bars for you, mate.

But it's just really sad that this sort of thing still happens. And that I genuinely had no idea. I know other people who have had pretty negative experiences at work, especially with middle aged women. Who've been blanked, and literally spat at over nothing. So in comparison, I haven't had it too bad. But I really thought bitchiness and kinda, well, bullying, was something people grew out of. You're meant to hit 25 and be a total proper grown up; with all the maturity and all the answers. Right? But I'm 25 in about 6 weeks, and still feel like a kid whose managed to blag her way into a super cool grown up party and any minute now, someone is going to march over, snatch the beer out of my hand and shout NO, YOU, GET OUT. 

I suppose that's what being a grown up is. Everyone eventually reaches an age where they're like "right, time to be an adult now", and acts accordingly. Not doing all the things that are 'too young' etc etc are conscious, and reluctant, choices. Thinking everyone has it so sorted, when actually everyone else is doing exactly the same. Everyone is just playing at being a grown up, pretending we've got it down, and wearing the odd pair of sensible shoes because well, that's what people our age DO. And, occasionally, people slip up and their inner 14 year old comes out to play.

Anyway, I could confront it and maybe if I didn't only have 2 weeks left there, I would. But for now, I'm simply going to rise above it. I spent about 24 hours feelings shitty and incredulous, then suddenly woke up thinking "Hey, I've got something that someone else is actually envious of. I've got it pretty good." And instead of feeling sad and jaded, I felt positive. Yeh, I'm really happy and I'd like to share that happiness with the people around me, but we can't have it all. I feel a little bit worried that maybe my innocent excitement might have been wrongly interpreted as me rubbing it in people's faces and thinking I'm oh-so-superior, but all it was was just that - me being excited and not being able to keep it to myself. I know I haven't done anything wrong. And this lesson really, really makes me want to check my behaviour, read into everyone's actions, and start questioning whether any office friendships I have or am ever likely to make will be genuine.

But why the fuck should I??! If people want to gang up on the youngest and snipe behind her back, fucking let them. I'll be nice, and I'll be me. And people who make unwarranted and unnecessary comments can be the ones who need to questions their actions. And be left looking stupid.

CHIN UP. The end is nigh. Not everyone's going to have something nice to say, no matter how nice you are to them. It happens. It's probably going to happen again. But as long as I'm happy who I am and how I treat people, who the fuck cares. I'm going to eat a cheese scone now. [[insert blonde hand-waving emoji here]]