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The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there

I was almost tempted to do a full-on review of 2010, but have decided looking forward is a better idea. After all, as Hartley began his novel The Go-Between, "the past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

That's not to say that I'm completely ignoring 2010. I may not have achieved anything writing-wise, but I moved to London for a role with more responsibility, had three fabbity holidays in Dublin, Crete and Budapest, ate at lots of Michelin star and yummy restaurants, went to Leeds Fest, saw Legally Blonde, Sweet Charity, Oliver! and Sister Act on the West End, read 157 books, went to the cinema 41 times, and I made some fabulous new friends along the way. I had to say goodbye to my beloved car, Sulley, and I still owe money on the credit card but, all-in-all, it's been a pretty sweet year. I know I've been lucky.

But, Hartley is right. Part of life is to learn from your past so you don't repeat your mistakes. 2010 has been a huge learning curve for me and has proved that I'm strong enough to tackle anything, even if at times I felt at the depths of despair. 2010 has been the foundation year, so-to-speak, that will make a lot of things possible in 2011 and I for one am very excited to make those things happen! Here are my plans:
  • I want to find a fabbity new job that challenges me
  • I shall dedicate more time to writing and submitting my books
  • I hope to clear my credit card debt and build up some savings
  • I would like to move more central, hopefully with people I know and like
  • I'd like to visit 2 or 3 new countries
  • I want to take lots of photos with my fabbity new camera, see a few new musicals and tick off some more Michelin star restaurants
  • Finally, I will try not to over-analyse, be indecisive or unhappy, and I will surround myself with people who are worth it. I will remember that I cannot control everything, that nothing is a given, and that in life you make your own happy ending.
I think 2011 sounds like it could be pretty fabbity, don't you? {^_^} What have you learnt from 2010? What are your 2011 plans? xoxo

The Coca-Cola holiday mystery

The Coca-Cola "Holidays are coming" marks the start of the festive season for a lot of people. The iconic lorries making the delivery of Coke is currently in its 4th year of revival, but when did it begin? I can certainly remember seeing it as a child in the 1990s but I couldn't give you an exact date, such is the nature of childhood memory.

It was tweet asking just this that made me really want to know this answer. Sure, it's not a burning question, but it's one of those questions that will bug me until I get the answer. Getting that answer, you think, would be easy, what with Google knowing the answer to EVERYTHING... or so I thought.

Trawling through the search results, Google drew a blank... I know. It happens, sometimes... so I've heard... But I never thought Google would let *me* down! Not even poking around the Coca-Cola website could tell me, though I did learn that their "Always Coca-Cola" polar bear ad was first aired in 1993. Who cares about the bears! We want our lorries!

So, I did something I rarely do: I picked up the phone, and I dialled the Coca-Cola press office. Yes, such a massive internet search failure deserved this outlandish action... only I was thwarted once again. The lovely girl on the end of the phone informed me that they don't actually know when one of their biggest ad campaigns was first aired. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight...

So, if Coca-Cola don't know, who does? Luckily, she thought their PR agency, Lexis PR, who deals with the campaign would have the answer:

The original version of the iconic Holidays Are Coming ad first aired in the US on Thanksgiving Day 1995, before being rolled out in the UK that year. The current version first aired in 1997.

There you have it. Many thanks to Mel at Lexis PR for getting back to me. Hopefully now Google will throw up this blog post for all those people who may have this same burning question in the future (seriously, how can this *not* be out there on the interweb?!)

And, if you can't remember the ad, here it is for your enjoyment:

Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim

Whenever something bad happens to me, my friends will say to me:

Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim

Translated as: Be patient and tough; some day this pain will be useful to you. Actually, they don't say that Latin phrase to me (that would really be quite pretentious), but they do remind me that life experiences can make sweet book material... More importantly though, it can make you a better person (which, in turn, can make you a better writer. For the record, I'd prefer a happy life and to use my imagination to create book drama, ta very much).

I'm not a patient person - I want it all, I want it now is quite often how I (wrongly) view the world - but this year I'm definitely learning some patience and I'm learning to be tougher. That's because playing 'local' in London and being a local in London is a completely different ball game and a certain degree of toughness is definitely required to survive London life.

More importantly though than being patient and tough, I'm learning to be happy. I've had blips since I moved to London, but I can honestly say that I'm now happier in an overall sense than I have been all year.

Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim

I see that now. But I also see it's the people you surround yourself with that make a big difference. There's half a dozen people who have made the past 5 weeks not just bearable, not just tolerable, but actually enjoyable. Those people deserve thanks that I can't adequately express in words, but they have made all the difference.

Perfer et obdura, dolor hic tibi proderit olim

My recent pain has already been useful to me - in a short space of time, it's shown me what I'm made of and reiterated what I want to achieve and *can* achieve. 2010 has been a transitional year for me, but it's been worth it because I know it will make 2011 a definitive year.

What are you thoughts on your 2010? What are your hopes for 2011? xoxo

To top-up or not to top-up?

Not always, but sometimes, I can't resist commenting on 'hot' topics. (I probably should.) I did it for the UK General Election 2010 and today I'm going to blog my tuppence about the protest over the introduction of student top-up fees.

People are angry because the current government want to increase fees to potentially £9,000, though it's likely fees will be around £6,000 (bet the Americans wish fees were this cheap in the States! For the record, Harvard charges $35,568 a year). Those who take out student loans would start paying back these once they earn £21k, with various tiered interest rates applied to the loan amount (again, salary dependent). Because of riots happening on Millbank, a peaceful protest about this has overshadowed the reasons behind the protest.

I deliberately said "people are angry because the current government want to increase fees" because the trouble started with the past government. See, someone had the clever idea that they wanted to get 50% of young people into Higher Education. It all went a bit tits up when that recession hit in 2007. What goes up, must come down - the trouble with an intense graduate labour market, coupled with external factors like the recession, means a rift now exists. The rift is that graduates can't get 'graduate' jobs, with graduate unemployment now at its highest in 17 years. The market is over-saturated with people who have degrees but very little else to offer.

This has to make you stop and think: Is a degree really worth it, especially if you have to pay £6-9k on tuition alone to get a piece of paper that everyone else has? And yes, I'm generalising. There are some amazing students out there who work hard, achieve and do amazing non-degree activities whilst they are studying, but if you're not making yourself stand out in a vast crowd, do you think university is worth it? Really?

The problem is that for the past 13 years we've been told that we want young people in Higher Education. But if Higher Education was a right, there would be a law saying you have to stay on in education until 21/22 (country dependent). It's not a right, and it's not a necessity. As with anything in life, attitude is key. Look at Bill Gates. Steve Jobs. Roman Abramovich. Richard Branson. Phillip Green. All billionaires, all without that piece of paper. (And by the by, all men - I couldn't think of any women. Shameful!)

Arguments about tuition fees include that the increase will stop the 'working class' from being able to afford to go to university. That's like saying you can only start a business if you have money to begin with. Higher Education is not a right, it's an investment. And do you know what, there will always be people in this world that are richer than you, just as there will also be people who are poorer. If someone feels that they need to go to university to achieve their x, y or z ambitions, then it doesn't matter if the fees are 90p, £9k or £90k - they will take that risk and go. Just like someone with no capital will go to a bank for a start-up loan for their fabulous business idea. It's because they believe in their idea that they're willing to take that risk and pay out the hard cash in the hope that one day they'll make a pretty return - a degree is no different to this. It's not a guarantee of success, that boils down to the individual at the end of the day.

For those who want to go to university that badly, the fees will not deter them – they’ll see the fees as a mere stepping stone to get them across that pond. These are the people who will go on to achieve because they can see the bigger picture. But, we're all different - we all have different ponds and approaches to life. What I'm trying to say is, here's to all those people out there who want to be ambitious and successful, degree or no degree. I applaud you because you're willing to take that risk, see the bigger picture and strive for greatness. It shouldn't be a matter of an individual's money, it's a matter of an individual's attitude. That is all.

Cinema September - December 2010

Continuing from March - August 2010, here's my verdicts on films seen at the cinema between September to December 2010:

36. Cyrus - Seen on 21/09. 6/10
37. The Town - Seen on 19/10. Too long, but liked Affleck's accent. 6/10
38. Easy A - Seen on 22/10. Penn Badgley, yum! 7/10
39. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 - Seen on 22/11. 7/10
40. Monsters - Seen on 16/12. 7/10
41. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D - Seen on 30/12. 9/10

Goals update, 2010

Back in mid-December 2009, I was very efficient. I sat down and made a goals list for 2010 so I would start the New Year knowing exactly what I wanted to achieve. Except, it's now October 2010 and there's 3 months left of 2010 ... yep, looks like I'll be working very hard if I want to make sure that all those goals happen!

 It's easy to plan a year when you have a blank slate and life isn't there to get in the way. For example, my professional goals changed in February when I had my work appraisal and had it confirmed to me that there wasn't really anywhere for me to progress to where I was. That combined with a planned parental move (and the fact I was turning 25 so needed to start acting like a bit more of a grown-up) kick-started me to once more apply for London jobs. Let's face it, London's where I've always wanted to be, I've made no secret of that! Because of this, from March to August I was busy applying and interviewing for jobs, travelling back and forth, until finally I was offered the role I'm in now. On top of that, I was also back and forth at the weekends to see M, aka The Boy.

Sitting down last December 2009, I couldn't have predicted how busy my life would become in 2010. The only things I've achieved are from my 'Other Goals' - I've been to two new countries (three actually - Ireland, Greece and Hungary, with a possible 4th next month) and I've seen two musicals on the West End (OK, four: Legally Blonde, Sweet Charity and Sister Act - Oliver! next week makes it four). I've read more books than I should have done and I've not completed one writing goal. Oops.

I know I can't complete all my goals in the next 3 months. Well, maybe I could, but I don't think my writing would be of amazing quality if I did. I have work, gym sessions 2-3 times a week, an Italian class, chores, films to see with the wife and time to spend with M ... not to mention other friends, me time, and, of course, writing time. This is what I'm planning on achieving:

1. Re-work TROG submission package
2. Finish the first draft of Tabitha and edit it
3. Re-work Lottie alongside Tabitha edits (Tabitha is a spin-off of Lottie).
4. Package Lottie and Tabitha for submission
5. Depending on my mood at the time, start writing my crime/thriller book "Boudica's Attic" or chick-lit book "Impossibly Emily"

How are your 2010 goals proceeding? Or, is there anything you want to achieve by the end of the year? Let me know! xoxo

PS: This blog post was inspired by Liz Sara over at Dreaming in Grey Ta, Treacle! {^_^}

Customer complaint to ASOS

I have a confession to make, I like buying clothes. But, I'm not limited to mere clothes: I also like buying bags, shoes, hats, belts and so on. It always takes me forever and a day though to find a belt I truly love. After months of searching, I finally found said truly loved belt on ASOS - a French Connection belt that was half price, making it £25. Bargain!

However, the second time I wore the belt it snapped in two, threads hanging lose. Uh-oh... I got in touch with ASOS explaining that I had a faulty item and they told me to send it back to them so they would investigate: "Once your parcel has arrived and we have inspected the item we will contact you as soon as possible to advise further." That seemed fair, so off to the post office I went.

A week later I received an automatic email from ASOS informing me that my belt had been received and that I was to be refunded £5. When it comes to faulty goods, items are supposed to be repaired or replaced; if this isn't possible, as a last resort, you get a refund. Checking on the site, they had the belt in stock:

You can click on the image for a larger version of the image.

I wanted the belt exchanging, yet I was given a refund... What was even more strange is I was only refunded £5, not £25. Twelve emails later that spanned 5.5 hours, I finally got confirmation that I would be refunded the amount I paid for the item. (Initially, I was only offered 10% discount on my next order.)

Firstly, before I go into the nitty gritty, I do want to say that ASOS were prompt with their replies. They answered within two working hours, unlike River Island who took three days to answer a question I had. I can't fault ASOS on this.

What I can fault them on though is that my choice was taken away. I was initially told if I wanted to buy the belt again, I would have to reorder it at a cost of £25... With faulty goods, it's the retailer's responsibility to sort out the faulty product for you. Issuing a £5 refund and telling me I had to pay another £25 for the belt was not sorting this out. If I did do that I, effectively, would have paid £45 for the belt whilst everyone else paid £25!

I am pleased my issue was eventually resolved, but I'm not happy with ASOS' process. As a customer you are entitled to receive an item of "satisfactory" quality, one fit for purpose. It is the retailer's responsibility to sort this out for you if something goes wrong (unless, obviously, you bought direct from the manufacturer). This is usually a repair, a replacement, or a refund if no replacement is available.

I have to say, I've gone off the belt because of this so I won't be reordering it - the search is on for a new belt - but I have to urge you all, if you have an issue with something that you've bought, please exercise your rights and make the company you bought it from make things right. I still love ASOS, and will continue to use them, but I share this tale for those of you who have an issue like this and aren't sure how to resolve it. Remember, you are entitled to receive the product you have paid for - make sure you do!

Has anyone else had problems over items/services you've bought that haven't been up to scratch? Let me know and share your tales of retail woe! x

Exposed: I am content

For the first time since I moved to London two weeks ago, I feel happy and content. My room is sorted, I've joined the gym, and I'm slowly getting into a routine. I still need to look into a fun course to sign up to - something creative, methinks - and get my head completely around my new job, but I am getting there.

I've also had a fantastic time these past few days; dined at the yummy Rhodes W1 Restaurant on Thursday night, saw the fabbity Sister Act on Friday night, and I've just had a tourist weekend visiting the London Film Museum (don't bother, the only decent thing is the Charlie Chaplin exhibition) and getting some culture at the Tate Modern Exposed exhibition.

Which brings me to customer service - the wonderful thing about the web is that it gives you a voice to expose the good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes you use it to praise companies that have gone above and beyond - like the OECD when they helped me find some information I desperately needed - but sometimes you just have to tell it how it is and share unsatisfactory service. I'll be doing just that in the next few days.

Until then, tell me, how are you all feeling? Any exciting plans for the week ahead? xoxo

PS: I will be resuming blogging about my writing. I know I've been mostly talking about the professional side of life lately with my move to London, but I shall be more forthcoming about my pipe dream within the next week or so. {^_^}

Plans are like buses, or something like that

It's Thursday, which means I have the following options available to me:

1. Go to a Zumba class with work people, followed by drinks
2. Meet a friend from Yorks who is working in London today
3. Enjoy myself as a VIP at London Fashion Weekend kick-off
4. Dine at Michelin star Rhodes W1 Restaurant

Yes, London life is proving to be exciting and eventful! Option #4 wins, though I will admit I am disappointed to miss out on getting the VIP treatment at Somerset House. It's probably a good thing though that I'm staying away as you can buy designer goodies with up to 70% off... 70% off designer prices is still too much for me at the moment, but maybe if I'm lucky I won't have to pay for dinner. That's sort of like getting a designer discount!

The other thing happening today is I'm guest-blogging about finding time for your dreams; in my case, my writing dreams. Mosey on over and have a read. Happy Thursday, Treacles! xoxo

My Tweek

I saw this on... um, someone's blog, and thought it was kind of interesting: "My Tweek". Basically, it's your week summed up by your tweets. (I have no idea what happened to Thursday.)

Monday:

Morning Treacles. It's grey and rainy in my bit of London - looks suspiciously like Leeds! ;) New job begins at 10am. Fingers crossed!

I'd forgotten how much money it costs to stock a kitchen from scratch.

Met all my housemates now - I am living with two French girls and a French boy. Let's hope they're Anglophiles!

Instead of spending 15 mins in the morning cooking myself a bacon butty, I'm leaving 15 mins earlier to get one from work for 80p. Bargain!

Tuesday:

Excel is ruddy irritating.

Pretty much survived day #2 in new job - picking up a few more bits and pieces for my room after work to make it purty. :)

Am wondering if a knife would work instead of a screwdriver... Note to self: Always read small print to see if assemblage is required!

OK, it's 6 pieces of wood. How hard can this be to assemble?! I can do this. With my knife-screwdriver.

The knife-screwdriver does now work. Ah.

OK, this is going back. Have ordered a new laundry basket and this one really does require NO assembling!

Just been updating my LinkedIn profile. Tuesday nights aren't what they used to be (party nights).

Wednesday:

Hurrah, looks like I may be getting an assistant from October. I've only ever been in charge of myself - exciting!

Got 2 invites today to go out next Thursday - I already have plans. Typical! But they are amazing plans I already have. :)

I am at work. Wearing my glasses. :o The sky *is* falling Chicken Little

Not impressed. Belt I bought a few weeks ago from French Connection has snapped. Grrrr. Shoddy. And it was ruddy expensive too. COMPLAINING.

Friday:

Writing my Comms plan; still finding it quite strange being a project manager with a 'baby'.

Had a message from Marco Pierre White's asking me to confirm a dinner reservation tomorrow at 19.00... it's 19.30, and in a few weeks' time.

At The Ranelagh. In Bounds Green? Wood Green? Somewhere Green?

Fishfinger sandwich from the pub. :D

Saturday:

Going to see Sweet Charity today on the West End. {^_^} And it's my niece's birthday. I bought her a Jessie from Toy Story backpack.

It's started, seeing St Andreans on the tube. How can the 3-street effect happen in London? Howwww?!

This is the first time I've been in Central London as a resident, not a tourist. Giddy. (I know, bless. ;) )

Perfect seats for Sweet Charity: Stalls, 8 rows from the stage, smack bang in the middle. Happy face. I ruddy love musicals.

The couple behind me are arguing about something that happened to them in May 1964 ... Jeesh. Get over it already.

It's 18.16... and I've only just had my first cup of tea of the day! *dies*

Sweet Charity was good, but I'm ridiculously excited about Sister Act next week.

I'm a good person. So if I could just win £4 million or so on the lottery to buy my own place in London, that would be AWESOME SAUCE. Ta. x

Housemates are jabbering away in French. The only things I have been able to understand are "ca va?" and "Marks and Spencers"

The Pizza Express supermarket version of Pollo ad Astra definitely isn't as nice as the restaurant version. :(

Sunday:

Nephew and niece have cruelly been told by my brother that I live in London with The Queen. Those poor children.

I'm quite excited about joining the library; I might even join their Book Club. Ooh!

Happy face. Finally found a supermarket that sells my butter. It's the little things that make me :)

Heading to Covent Garden to catch up with my flatmate from uni. {^_^}

Waiting for my Yorkshire puddings to rise. Am making myself a mini Sunday roast. {^_^}

Call this a breakfast? http://ow.ly/2Gws1 Where's the hash browns?!

Moving, musicals and Michelin star restaurants!

Well, I'm here in London and now feeling a little less lost than I was on Saturday. Though, I have to say, I'm suffering from information and name overload, as is guaranteed in any new job! I'm sure in a few weeks time I'll be just fine though.

Where I'm living has it's pros and cons - I'm only a 7 minute walk away from work, but the area's not that fabulous. My room is OK, but the kitchen is tiny which I really don't like. It is cheap though and I deliberately picked a cheap, reasonable place so I can clear my credit card bills and build up some pennies. I'll never love this room, but at least I know it's not permanent because I plan to move more central in the new year (my job contract is only guaranteed until January/February 2011 and the likelihood is that my next job will be centrally-based). I may not be thrilled with where I am, but I can survive it in the grander scheme of things.

I still have a few more bits and pieces to buy this week for my room, and I also need to check out the gym, but I also have some fun things planned.

I've succumbed already and booked to see some musicals, my excuse being I've only seen Legally Blonde so far this year. ;) On Saturday I'll be seeing Sweet Charity, next week I'll be seeing Sister Act, and I'll also be seeing Oliver! in a few weeks time - exciting! I think I'll have practically seen everything on the West End once those are seen!

I'm dining at Rhodes W1 Restaurant next week - that's another Michelin star restaurant to cross off our list! I went to Tamarind last month and on the cards for October is one of Marco Pierre White's restaurants.

Any exciting plans coming up? Do tell! xoxo

Feeling lost

I'm feeling a little bit lost right now, sort of like I'm in no-man's-land. This morning I was in Dorset, now I'm in Yorkshire, and for an hour this morning I was in my flat in London.

Tomorrow afternoon I head back to London with more things - mainly my writing drafts, laptop and odds and ends - but part of me feels like I don't want to go. It's silly. I know I'll be fine when I get there, unpack, and make my room mine, but there is a small part of me that believes I could quite happily stay here.

But, I experienced the same thing when I first moved to Scotland for university - I really didn't want to go. There were tears, there were tantrums, but flash forward to six weeks before my first year had even finished and I was crying my eyes out at the thought of having to leave for the summer!

And, the thing is, this is completely different. I moved to St Andrews knowing no one; I'm moving to London where my boyfriend, best friend and lots of my friends live. I'm a lot more older and wiser than I was at 18 (supposingly) - am I wrong to feel apprehensive and a little lost? Probably, but right now that's how I feel. Roll on next weekend when I'm settled in and have survived my first week in my new job - I'm sure I'll scoff at these worries this time next week, I hope so anyway! xoxo

Leaving Leeds for London

Today is my last day at work in Leeds and given I am super duper efficient, I don't actually have anything to do in the office. At home, on the other hand, I could be boxing up my billions of book, de-cluttering and packing for my move to London tomorrow.

 Ah, my books. Given I have so many I'm happy that they can stay at the 'rents' house. But, the thought of having no books with me is daunting; then again, choosing my absolute favourites to take with me... that's truly daunting. I think I'm going to have to randomly grab a few from a pile of favourites.

It's still not sunk in that I'm going tomorrow and that I'll permanently be in London. I'll now no longer be a part-time girlfriend as the boy will be 20 minutes away, not 200 miles. I'll also be living in the same city as best friend from school and uni friends, but I'll be living in a space which has a kitchen that is seven times smaller than what I'm used to and a bedroom that's half the size... not to mention the fact I'll have to share a bathroom for the first time ever - meep!

However, one thing that I'm ecstatic about is my commute to work. I know, I know, the commute is what most Londoners complain of, but I'm not. That's because I walk out of my door, walk for 5 minutes and... I'm at work! Being able to walk to work in London is amazing and much better than the 90 minutes it currently takes me to get into Leeds on a morning!

The only downside to this is that I will be selling my beloved car Sulley who I've had since I was 17 - thankfully my 'rents will be taking care of this as I know I would not be able to hand over the keys to the new owner. It's silly though to keep a car in London so it's for the best.

One thing I'm really looking forward to is being able to resume writing. This year has mostly been spent job-hunting in the evening and spending weekends in London meaning I've had very little time to write. One of the first things I sorted out to take with me was my writing notebooks and drafts - I can't wait to get settled in and get writing (though I'm really not looking forward to actually moving everything).

What's the biggest move you've ever done? If you could only have your favourite books with you, which would you choose? xoxo

Leeds Festival 2010

Slightly belated post on my Saturday spent at Leeds Festival 2010, but I'm seriously burnt out at the moment with one thing and another. Sunglasses truly are fabulous at covering dark circles, though I wish I'd spotted this Cath Kidston pac-a-mac before the Festival to keep stylishly dry!

Conveniently for me, Bramham Park, where Leeds Festival is held, is a 20 minute drive from the 'rents house. It wasn't swampy, but I was ridiculously glad of my wellies as my feet were stamped upon quite a few times... Memo to self: Never be right at the front again for the headlining act!

Yes, we were at the front for Blink 182. Sounds marvellous in theory but in practice meant we were packed like sardines against the barrier whilst eejits pushed from the back to get... I have no idea where. Needless to say, after four or five songs fearing for our lives - wish that was an exaggeration - we pushed backwards and got some much needed space (and air) and were able to start enjoying Blink 182. Let me just say, Travis Barker is an INCREDIBLE drummer.

I'd been bashed about earlier in the day when Limp Bizkit played... Who knew that when the song Rollin' was played you were supposed to fling yourself sideways, backwards and use people as human trampolines to fling yourself upwards?! I certainly didn't as I was never a fan of them, but the crowd seemed to love Fred Durst and the gang.

As for the crowd surfers... I saw more of them splat on the floor than I did surf to the front. Memo to crowd surfers, who are usually men that are 6ft tall and 6ft wide: Crowd surfing during All Time Low, You Me At Six and Paramore is a bad idea as the front is packed with teenyboppers who will let you plummet because they cannot hold your weight! That also includes me by the way, which is why I ended up getting kicked in the head. Ouch.

Whereas I could just about cope with the idiots throwing liquid over the crowd - keeping all fingers crossed it wasn't something more sinister - the delightful people throwing still-lit cigarettes up in the crowd was quite possibly the most dangerous thing I saw. And, the thing is ten years ago - heck, five years ago - this sort of thing wouldn't have blipped on my radar... I must be getting old. (Or perhaps it just felt that way as the festival seemed to have a mean age of 16 years old.)

Now, I'm not saying I didn't have fun - I did - but there's no way I could survive a weekend of camping. I was wiped out from one day at Bramham Park, not to mention financially wiped out from the over-priced food vans, and I was glad to hop in my taxi to take me back to a comfy, dry bed!
I have to say though, I absolutely LOVED Weezer, who were definitely my favourite band of the day. They did some brilliant covers of Erasure's A Little Respect, MGMT's Kids Oracular and Lady Gaga's Poker Face (complete with blonde wig for Rivers Cuomo), but ended with (If You're Wondering If I Want You to) I Want You To and Buddy Holly, my two absolute favourite Weezer songs.



Whereas I am glad I went to see some pretty sweet bands play, I'm thinking the next time I go to a festival it would be really nice to be one of those special VIPs who get to watch from the side of the stage away from the crowds! How about you, what do you think to festivals? Which ones have you been to? x

2010 Reads, 101 -

Continuing on from my 2010 Reads 1-100, here's my 101 onwards list. I'll be updating this post throughout the year once I've read a book, whether it's a brand new read [B], a second-read [R] or a re-re-read [RR], and I'll add my ratings on Goodreads.

101. Bad Behaviour - Sheila O'Flanagan [B]
102. Love and Devotion - Erica James [B]
103. Dreaming of a Stranger - Sheila O'Flanagan [B]
104. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins [R]
105. Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins [R]
106. The Ghost - Robert Harris [B]
107. Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins [B]
108. The Carbon Diaries - Saci Lloyd [B]
109. Spotlight - Ilana Fox [B]
110. Last Night at Chateau Marmont - Lauren Weisberger [B]
111. Could it be Magic? - Melanie Rose [B]
112. Anybody Out There? - Marian Keyes [B]
113. Olivia's Luck - Catherine Alliot [B]
114. A Lesser Evil - Lesley Pearse [B]
115. All Because of You - Melissa Hill [B]
116. Taking Chances - Susan Lewis [B]
117. Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella [RR]
118. Shopaholic Abroad - Sophie Kinsella [RR]
119. Shopaholic Ties the Knot - Sophie Kinsella [RR]
120. Shopaholic and Sister - Sophie Kinsella [RR]
121. Shopaholic and Baby - Sophie Kinsella [RR]
122. Mini Shopaholic - Sophie Kinsella [B]
123. Twilight - Stephenie Meyer [RR]
124. New Moon - Stephenie Meyer [RR]
125. Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer [RR]
126. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey [B]
127. A Week in December - Sebastian Faulks [B]
128. Eat, Pray, Love - Elizabeth Gilbert [R]
129. Revenge - Sharon Osbourne [B] 
130. Crazy in Love - Chrissie Manby [B]
131. Take A Chance On Me - Jill Mansell [B]
132. The Promise of Happiness - Justin Cartwright [B]
133. Queen Camilla - Sue Townsend [B]
134. Thanks for the Memories - Cecelia Ahern [B]
135. Venus Envy - Louise Bagshawe [B]
136. For Your Eyes Only - Ian Fleming [B]
137. The Spy Who Loved Me - Ian Fleming [B]
138. Meltdown - Ben Elton [B]
139. Blind Faith - Ben Elton [B]
140. Ya-Yas in Bloom - Rebecca Wells [B]
141. Choke - Chuck Palahniuk [B]
142. You're The One That I Don't Want - Alexandra Potter [B]
143. Johnny Be Good - Paige Toon [R]
144. Breaking Dawn - Stephenie Meyer [RR]
145. Beatrix Potter - Linda Lear [B]
146. Enid Blyton: The Biography - Barbara Stoney [R]
147. Animal Farm - George Orwell [R]
148. Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift [R]
149. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - JK Rowling [RR]
150. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - JK Rowling [RR]
151. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling [RR]
152. The Distant Hours - Kate Morton [B]
153. Secrets and Lies - Jaishree Misra [B]
154. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks [R]
155. Remember Me? - Sophie Kinsella [R]
156. Entombed - Linda Fairstein [B]
157. Everyone Worth Knowing - Lauren Weisberger [RR]

Best reads of 2010 (so far)

Given I've now made the 100 books read this year landmark, I thought I'd recommend my favourite titles from 2010 (so far):
  • Enid Blyton: The Biography - Barbara Stoney
  • Under the Eagle - Simon Scarrow
  • One Day - David Nicholls
  • Ransom My Heart - Meg Cabot
  • The Carrie Diaries - Candace Bushnell
  • The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
  • Midnight Girls - Lulu Taylor
  • Bel-Ami - Guy de Maupassant
What have been your favourite reads so far this year? xoxo

Budapest, Day 4 and 5

Day four was a much more relaxed affair, starting with a river cruise down the Danube:

Cruising down the Danube
Parliament building
After we disembarked we went for lunch at Cyrano and both chose the unusually-named Mr Ghost Chow dish - it didn't taste unusual but it was definitely over-priced.

The Szechenyi Baths was our next port of call to soak up the sun and relax. With the temperature higher than it was when we first went, it was definitely far more crowded but still fantastic.
 

We grabbed dinner at the Basilica restaurant by St Stephen's and returned there the next day for breakfast before we looked inside St Stephen's. Each time we passed the outside of St Stephen's we were impressed by the sheer size of it; it was nice to find out it has an interior to match.

After our quick poke around, it was time to head to the airport. All-in-all, I had an amazing time had in Budapest, and I'll definitely be going back!

Have you been to Budapest? If not, which European cities do you recommend for my next adventure? x

Budapest, Day #3, Part II

At the top of Gellért Hill, you'll find the Citadel. At 235 metres high, you get an amazing view of the city.

Overlooking Buda Castle

Overlooking Pest from Buda

There's also the Liberty Statue at the top of the hill, which was erected in 1947 in remembrance of the liberation of Hungary. As it was the Soviets who liberated Hungary from the Nazis, the statue was inscribed with thanks to them. However, after the revolution against Communism, the inscription was changed:

To the memory of all of those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and success of Hungary.


After Gellért Hill we headed back over to the Pest side of the River Danube to have a look at the magnificent Parliament building. If you're an EU passport holder you can have a free tour, but unfortunately we didn't get time to do this. The exterior truly is magnificent though in all its Neo-Gothic splendour.

Opposite Parliament you'll find the Ethnographical Museum in the former Palace of Justice building:


As an Anthropologist I got really excited about this and insisted we went inside. Tickets are only 1000 HUF (about £3), but it was free entry when we got there - hurrah! There was an exhibition on how Hungarians perceive Finns, which involved a lot of Nokia phones. Randomly, Nokia used to make Wellington boots and tyres before they branched into telecommunications!


That evening we headed to the brilliant BOB (Bacardi Original Bar) for dinner where I had my yummiest meal in Budapest - an amazing rack of lamb, washed down with a gimlet.


Feeling very full and shattered after a day spent walking around in the blazing heat, we decided to end the day in the relaxing jacuzzi back at the hotel. It's what it's there for, right? x

Budapest, Day #3, Part I

The day started with a stroll around Váci Street, Budapest's shopping street, McDonald's for lunch (sometimes it just has to be done), and then it was time to board the bus for a sightseeing tour around Budapest. We chose the Hop On - Hop Off Tour, which was valid for 24 hours and also included a river cruise. Yes, it's a tourist bus but they are the best way of making sure you see everything that a city has to offer.

We stayed on the bus around Pest, going past the Great Synagogue (the largest in Europe) and the State Opera House, choosing to get off in Buda so we could get the Castle Hill Funicular up to Buda Castle.

Buda Castle is also known as the Royal Palace, and it was first completed in 1256. You can continue on the bus up to the Castle District, but the Funicular is cheap enough and a quicker way to get to the top - day three was ridiculously hot, so it was nice to get off the bus.

At the top there is a great view, though there's a slightly better view from Gellért Hill. The Castle District is full of amazing statues and buildings - no surprises there because *all* of Budapest seems to be incredibly scenic (and also full of history).

The Horse Wrangler Statue

Matthias Fountain

From the Castle District, it's a quick walk to the Old Town where you'll find the Fisherman's Bastion, a bronze statue of Stephen I of Hungary (the first King of Hungary and also patron saint of Hungary, kings, children who are dying, masons, stonecutters and bricklayers!).

There's also Matthias Church, which has a really interesting tiled roof. It's in this area I learnt how bargainous ice cream is over here, a mere 50p for a cone and scoop!

After our ice cream pit stop, it was time to get back on the bus to head to Gellért Hill...

Fisherman's Bastion and Statue of Stephen I

Little Black Dress books giveaway

I'm giving away two Little Black Dress books. Up for grabs are:


The Chalet Girl by Kate Lace and Singletini by Amanda Trimble.

To enter, leave a comment saying which book you'd like to win, as well as a method of contacting you if are one of the lucky winners (e-mail address, Twitter handle). You can enter regardless of where you are in the world, and the giveaway winners will be announced on Wednesday 1st September. Good luck!

Budapest, Day #2

Day two in Budapest was much better, and possibly my favourite day of our stay. We had looked into getting grand prix tickets as the Formula 1 race was on at the Hungaroring, but general admission tickets are the same price as Silverstone tickets and the circuit isn't as exciting. Instead, after having a mosey around the St Stephen's area, we went to Szechenyi Baths which is housed in the most gorgeous yellow Neo-Baroque complex.

Szechenyi Bath and Spa was the first thermal baths built on the Pest side of Budapest. Budapest, you see, is spilt by the River Danube into Buda and Pest. The Baths are located in the City Park area of the city (Városliget), which is easier to get to by tube, though we found that a taxi there worked out at only £2 more - bargain! My favourite pool was the outdoor thermal one, which has a lovely water temperature of 38°C. It's like swimming in a big, toasty bath!

After four hours there we headed to the Zoo, which is just across the road. As it had giraffes, it won my approval immediately. For 1990 HUF a ticket, it's quite good value.

Here's the thing to note about the currency, everything seems very expensive because of the numbers involved... 1990 HUF is only about £6.50 though. Although we referred to it as HUF, officially the currency is called the Forint.

At the Zoo, we had some Kürtőskalács, which is Hungary's oldest pastry. It's also quite tasty! We tried cinnamon, but you can get other flavours.

Afterwards we walked to the very impressive Heroes' Square, which is also in the City Park area. Construction began in 1886, but it wasn't completed until 1900, which is why part of it is known as the Millennium Memorial. Here you can also find the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Arts, though sadly we didn't get chance to visit either.

From the very impressive Heroes' Square, it's a short walk to Vajdahunyad Castle where you'll find the famous Statue of Anonymous. (If you touch his pen, you receive good luck; I found this out *after* we visited the statue!) There's also the Church of Ják here and several museums.

The Castle area is an interesting blend as the buildings are in four different architectural styles: Romanic, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. This is what I really loved about Budapest - there are so many different styles and it's all so pretty!

After a very long but amazing day, we ended the evening with dinner at the yummy MO restaurant, which is just near St Stephen's. x

Budapest, Day #1

I've just got back from Budapest, where I stayed at the amazingly located Alta Moda Fashion Hotel. It's situated just a few minutes walk away from St Stephen's Basilica, and about ten minutes away from Váci Street, Budapest's Oxford Street.

We had one of only ten Fashion Experience XL Rooms, though because the hotel only opened in May, we found (or didn't find, as the case was) a few things missing from the suite, including bedside lamp bulbs and the fireplace! But, the staff were very lovely and helpful and gave us a free breakfast as way of apology (definitely overpriced at €15 each, but fine for a freebie).

Our first day was a bit ruined as we had to get up at the crack of dawn to get to Heathrow and then our flight was delayed. By the time we got to the hotel it meant we'd pretty much spent the day travelling and waiting around.

Asking the concierge for a close-by, decent restaurant, they directed us to Nádor Borétterem, a traditional Hungarian restaurant with an extensive wine cellar. We didn't realise how close we were to St Stephen's and we have no idea why they sent us this way, other than to assume they have a 'friendly' connection with the restaurant. The food was OK and the interior nice enough, but it was definitely overpriced for what we had - a paprika pasta with chicken dish, and steak with the most ridiculously over-saturated garlic potatoes!

After our uneventful first day, at least we went to bed knowing that we still had plenty of time left to make the most of Budapest.

How to advertise a flat

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably learnt yesterday that I'm moving to London next month (hurrah!), which means I have to find somewhere to live. Merely searching for flats on the interweb is proving illuminating, let alone viewing them...

If you ever need to rent out your flat, make sure you follow my handy guide to charm your potential flat/housemates before they've even begun living with you!

1. Don't include any pictures with your advert. It's 2010, people. Really, there is no excuse. Yes, I understand that there's probably no pictures because the room is a dive, but I for one won't be coming to view your place without a picture. Do us all a favour and put some pictures up. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words.

2. Include pictures of the house/bathroom/kitchen/garden but none of the bedroom. This screams that you're offering out the box room. And only £700pcm - wow, bargain! If you can put a picture up of everything else, you can put a picture up of the bedroom.

3. Don't include the cost of bills. This one is quite annoying. Sure, some people give you the all-in cost, but then there are those who say "bills extra" but don't give you a ballpark figure. I've seen the monthly bill cost vary from as little as £40 a month to £150 a month - people need to know to be able to budget! FAIL.


4. "We have a massive TV and a huge chill-out area, complete with a set of decks."
I may want to go to a party at your house, but I don't want to live at the 24/7 party house, thank you very much. The thought of randomers dotted around sleeping off the night before and using the last of my milk to make themselves a cup of tea doesn't appeal. Next!

5. Use shoddy spellings and grammar. A typo or two is fine, we can all make msitakes [sic], but an advert punctuated (or not punctuated at all!) with mistakes is a no-no. If you can't string a sentence together, I seriously doubt your ability to make small talk beyond z-list celebrities when I bump into you in the kitchen.

6. "Females only." In some circumstances it is perfectly reasonable to advertise this. However, when you're a 40 year old man and you want a female between the ages of 18-25 to share your flat and use the excuse that "girls are cleaner", I start to think two things: Firstly, you probably expect your new tenant to clean up after you. Secondly, you're probably having visions of her cleaning up in a French maid's outfit. Let's face it, you're a perve hoping to score, aren't you?

7. "In a safe neighbourhood." By which you mean "safe" as in the street meaning of the word safe. That's right, your neighbourhood is pure turf warfare.

8. "You won't be disappointed if you view this room!" I think I'll always be disappointed. That is, unless you're offering me a huge bedroom with en-suite (separate shower and a Jacuzzi), dressing room and private kitchen, in a marvellous location, all for £50 pcm, including bills, and I have the rest of the house all to myself. No? Didn't think so.

9. "Mon-Fri ONLY" or "Weekend ONLY". Amazing. This flat looks nice, it's at a reasonable price... Oh wait, that's because I'm only allowed to live in it for part of the week. Next!

10. Don't include distances. How far away is the tube? The nearest bus stop? The supermarket? Don't forget you're trying to sell this flat to me - a little information would be nice.

And yes, I know all about the horrors of flat viewings... Expect a post on that joy soon enough! Is there anything I've missed though? What's irked you when you've been trying to find a place to live? Do share! xoxo

Travel: Crete

Crete is an odd holiday for me to write about because what started out as a lovely and relaxing holiday... well, it didn't end that way.

We stayed half board at the 5* Sensimar Royal Blue Resort & Spa and shared a private pool with another room. The hotel was located quite close to the village of Panormo, which is a tiny village (population: 400). There's not much to see or do there as we discovered when we boarded the "little train" and went to visit it. Still, we had planned on having a purely relaxing holiday so this wasn't too much of an issue for us.

I think what makes it difficult is that we really could have been anywhere - we didn't get a sense of Greece. When I think of Greece I think of the Acropolis, temples and beautiful churches. Crete is the birthplace of Zeus, but I didn't get a sense of history from the island only, dare I say it, some quite tacky tourism.

Take Rethymnon, for example. The buildings in the Old Town and the harbour are really picturesque - it's just a shame that most of the buildings seem to be home to tourist shops selling fake designer goods. I did manage to pick up a cute beach bag, some pretty hand-made glass coasters, plus the obligatory thimble (I collect them), but mostly all we could spy was junk.

As for the restaurants... We wanted to try Greek cuisine, but what we found were restaurants with identical, uninspiring menus *and* they were those ruddy awful picture menus. Which brings me to why the holiday ended badly. On the Sunday night, at a restaurant near the harbour in Rethymnon, I ate something dodgy and ended up spending my last day in bed with severe food poisoning. It made travelling home horrific, and then I ended up becoming dehydrated and was quite ill for a few days after we landed back in the UK - it really was a lousy holiday end.

But, I can't complain about the weather (mid 30s and no rain), the company (I went with my best friend from uni) or the hotel, but I would have liked to have got a sense of Greece whilst I was in Crete (and not have been poorly). Sadly, that didn't happen. What was more sad is that I barely managed to take any pictures because we had planned to take them on the last day... I didn't really want any reminders of me looking like death. But, at least I got a few which is more than I can say for my Dublin trip where the camera was on the wrong setting and I didn't get any!

What's the worst thing that's ever happened to you on holiday? Food poisoning? Lost luggage? Hotel not built? Let me know! xoxo

Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's

Last Monday, because I decided I wanted my last UK meal to be yummy before I jetted off to Crete, I dined at the wonderful Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, somewhere you can't really dine at *every* week. Makes sense, I mean there's Le Gavroche, Tom Aikens, Clos Maggiore, Yauatcha, The Ledbury, Wild Honey, McDonald's... we mustn't be limited in our eating choices!

Despite the restaurant losing its Michelin star this year, it was a delicious meal with faultless service, plus we enjoyed a spot of afternoon tea afterwards.

My starter was the Thai spiced tiger prawn ravioli and green bean salad, tarragon velouté. He had the mosaic of beef, foie gras and pistachio and asparagus salad. I may never be able to eat 'normal' ravioli again as the flavours were amazing and the ravioli shell was beautifully executed.


For the main course we both had the braised wild boar with ginger carrots, bok choy and pomme mousseline. You can't see the pomme mousseline as it's layered, but it was yummy, and the wild boar was spot-on. For dessert we both had the peanut parfait, cherry sorbet and roasted apricots.

I was a wee bit disappointed as the dark, white and caramel chocolate mousse, lime ice cream and chocolate madeleines option wasn't available; if it had have been, I would have been 100% delighted with the meal, but the peanut parfait was nice enough. All-in-all, a gorgeously tasty meal that saw me leaving London with a happy tummy.

What's the best meal you've ever had, and what's your favourite restaurant? x

Holiday reads

Over the past two weeks I've been placing mammoth Amazon orders. For my holiday reads, you understand. Not at all because I am a book-buying addict. Which is why my to-read pile now stands at 68 books. Oops.

The trouble is, I keep reading the books I bought for my holidays because they are the most appealing. This also happened when I was a child, so much so that my 'rents would have to confiscate my summer reads until it was time to go away.

So, what I need to do today is choose my books and take them down to London so I can't read them until I'm on holiday.

For my beach holiday in Crete, I'm thinking of reading:
  • A Summer Fling - Milly Johnson
  • Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Pictures of Lily - Paige Toon
  • The Ghost - Robert Harris

And for my city break in Budapest:
  • Bel-Ami - Guy de Maupassant
  • The Junior Officers' Reading Club - Patrick Hennessey
  • Midnight Girls - Lulu Taylor
Now, I just need to make sure that I *do* take them to London and I don't read them! Has anyone read any of these? What are your planned holiday reads, or what books are you looking forward to reading this summer? x

Other goals update

I thought I'd do a quick update on my 'other goals' seeing as I am taking a break from the writing goals at the moment.

#1 was to limit myself to 12 reads a month, which means by the end of June I shouldn't have read more than 60 books. I'm currently reading book 55, so I'm on track with this goal! However, I have been on a bit of a book-buying binge in the past week with my to-read pile standing at 70 books ... must stick to my limit!

#2 was to blog online at least 5 times a month. I know I haven't done this, but I am going to sneakily add up January - May's blog posts, which gives me a total 29 blog posts and that's on average more than 5 posts a month! ;)

#3 was for me to visit 2 new countries this year. In April I went to Ireland for the very first time and next month I'm going to Greece and a country yet to be decided! With Greece though this goal is achieved!

#4 was for me to see 2 West End musicals. I saw Legally Blonde in April, which was brilliant, and I'll definitely be going to see another musical soon. Now, all I need to do is decide between Sister Act and Sweet Charity!

If you made goals or resolutions for 2010, how are you doing in achieving them? x

Writing competition - The Terry Pratchett Prize

For all the writers, have you seen the announcement about The Terry Pratchett Prize? The winner will walk off with £20,000 and their book published! Ooh!

The deadline is 31st December 2010, and the submission has to be a book that hasn't been published between 80,000 and 150,000 words, along with a synopsis of less than 600 words.

As for the theme, Terry Pratchett has this to say:

Anywhere but here, anywhen but now. Which means we are after stories set on Earth, although it may be an Earth that might have been, or might yet be, one that has gone down a different leg of the famous trousers of time (see the illustration in almost every book about quantum theory).

We will be looking for books set at any time, perhaps today, perhaps in the Rome of today but in a world where 2000 years ago the crowd shouted for Jesus Christ to be spared, or where in 1962, John F Kennedy's game of chicken with the Russians went horribly wrong. It might be one day in the life of an ordinary person. It could be a love story, an old story, a war story, a story set in a world where Leonardo da Vinci turned out to be a lot better at Aeronautics. But it won't be a story about being in an alternate Earth because the people in an alternate Earth don't know that they are; after all, you don't.

But this might just be the start. The wonderful Peter Dickinson once wrote a book that could convince you that flying dragons might have existed on Earth. Perhaps in the seething mass of alternate worlds humanity didn't survive, or never evolved -- but other things did, and they would have seen the world in a different way. The possibilities are literally endless, but remember, it's all on Earth. Maybe the continents will be different and the climate unfamiliar, but the physics will be the same as ours. What goes up must come down, ants are ant-sized because if they were any bigger their legs wouldn't carry them. In short, the story must be theoretically possible on some version of the past, present or future of a planet Earth.


For full terms and conditions, see here. Good luck!

2010 Goals Update

I have to say, I started 2010 with the best intentions. I kicked off the year with a brilliant goals list for my writing and for the first few months of 2010 the achievement of these goals went well. I had it all figured out, and I figured it would be easy to stick to these goals.

But, unfortunately, real life took over - the professional side of life more than anything - and since the end of March I've been concentrating on finding a new job in London. I have been to London so many times in the past few months that I simply don't have the time to write at the moment - job hunting, applications, interview preparation and the interviews themselves are very time-consuming, not to mention most weekends I'm back to London to spend time with the boy. I'm also working longer hours than before and something has had to give temporarily - sadly, that something is my writing.

This is not me giving up on my books - I will still be submitting TROG, but I won't be working on anything new until I sort out a job in London. I have been very lucky to have been able to afford to spend a lot of time on my books in the past year or so, but turning 25 means I am now a grown-up and I have to rethink some of my priorities. I can't neglect my professional development any longer in favour of my pipe dream - I do know I *will* be published one day, but I sadly have no idea when that day will actually be. And, I have mentioned it several times before on here, I miss London, I want to go home, and the most important thing for me at the moment is to make this happen.

If you could give up your job to concentrate on a pipe dream, what pipe dream would you want to chase after? xoxo

Twitter power! The fabbity @OECD

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know sometimes I like to have a little moan. And yes, I know you're all reading that as I like to have a massive moan on Twitter. ;)

Yesterday at work I was a wee bit stressed out as I was solely in charge of the magazine, which is at the frantic last-minute, we're ridiculously-close to signing this off stage. I had pages and pages of amend notes, as well as stacks of proofs in front of me; I had copy to write (on space exploration and mountain climbing - not my two most knowledgeable subjects!), and I also had a 329 page hot-off-the-press document to read from the OECD  to update some article stats.

Now, I'm no stranger to Economics - two of my modules at University were 'Macroeconomics' and 'International Political Economy' - but after an hour of trying to find the general government net financial liabilities forecast (as a % of GDP) for 2010 for the US, Japan, the UK and the OECD total ... and not seeing it amongst the pages and pages of figures, I really was ready to cry.

So, I tweeted my frustrations. Like I do. And amazingly enough the OECD saw this and were able to explain why I couldn't find that stat (I wasn't been thick - the stat I need is in the statistical annex which won't be published until June 6th. A-ha!).

My frustration was replaced and I became very impressed with whoever looks after their Twitter account. Not only are they keeping an eye on the search queries for the OECD, they are following through and helping ordinary folk out. I say ordinary folk because the OECD, if you don't know, is an international organisation that brings together governments of various states committed to democracy and the market economy ... funnily enough, I'm neither a government member nor an economic player, other than my heavy contribution to the retail sector, that is. ;)

For me, this was an amazing and brilliant use of Twitter by an organisation that doesn't necessarily have to bother with everyday moaners like myself. Instances like this one is why I love Twitter - when people and companies get it right, it truly is an amazing thing to be a part of. Brilliant. {^_^} xoxo

EDIT 31/05/10 - Received this tweet today. Seriously. Impressed. Even more so than before.

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