Joe’s Yarns: an evening of stories

When I was little I loved stories. All kinds of stories. I loved reading them, writing them and listening to them. Hours and hours spent with my head in a book or on the early-80’s apple computer at school writing pages and pages and pages (and pages) of stories.

I remember both my Nans would tell us stories at night time if we were staying over. They’d either read from a book or make them up. The made up ones were the best. The Big Tractor and the Little Tractor was a particular favourite of mine, I loved the picture that was painted in my head of two little cartoon like pieces of farm machinery zooming around the countryside exploring and having adventures.

I still love stories. It *may* have been known for me to ask people I don’t know that well to “tell me a story”. It’s a great way to get to know people (and sometimes it’s because I’m tired and can’t be arsed to talk myself and love listening). It’s all about the chat.

And that’s how I ended up dragging BMF Nige to a storytelling night in Cheltenham last night. We’d not had a proper catch up since I got back and I’d spotted this thing on Facebook that looked interesting so we headed on down to a cafe called Smokey Joes just off the High Street in Cheltenham to see what the craic was.

Walking in I immediately wanted a milkshake (it’s a retro diner) but stuck to Wednesday Club tradition with red wine (I have totally forgotten my hangovers of the last 3 weekends of course) and walked through the back where we were greeted by Charlie, a giant white-bearded man with a hat and a booming voice who told us he was the compere for the eve.

Nige got seduced by the retro games machines and went off to play pac-man or something. I sat down and tried to figure out how to stop my phone from making a noise when I got a message, even though it was on silent. [Spoiler: it didn’t work]

The stories started. A storytelling evening is basically just someone sat on a stool with a microphone and telling a story. Funny, sad, wacky, odd, normal, your own, or someone else’s, it doesn’t matter. Tonight there was a theme “things aren’t always as they seem” but also a bit of a free for all. Kind of like an open mic night but without any singing or joke telling, the usual awkward silence followed Charlie’s opening gambit where, with the mic offered up to the room, no one dare go next. Until one person did. And then another, and another. I got up and spoke twice; a couple of stories about things from my bike trip in Chile. I think my favourite bit is when I was trying to tell my little story and my phone kept shouting out because I’d set up voice commands to unlock my phone. Yep, my phone thought I was talking to it through a microphone and despite the silent do not disturb mode, it joined in my talk with “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch what you said” in that OK Google voice. Honestly, we couldn’t get the bloody thing to shut up. Nige had to hide it on the floor under the table like a naughty dog in the end.

There were some great stories. All quite different, all told in a unique way and all engaging. Really nice to spend a couple of hours doing something pretty different. You don’t have to speak, but you can if you want.

Joe’s Yarns is held on the last Wednesday of each month at Smokey Joes. Next month is their year anniversary; I’ll definitely be going again. Give it a try if you’re Cheltenham way.




Solitary confinement.

I like to be alone, probably just as much as I like to be around other people. I am quite a sociable creature, but I also like (and need) time to myself. To just potter around or talk to myself or just chill out. Right now I’m sat on the roof of my building in the Spring sunshine writing this. And it’s beautiful. I can see the hills that surround Cheltenham and feel the sun on my face. The weather is so lovely I feel like I should be doing something. Getting out and about. Maybe a walk, maybe a run. Go out and see people.

But maybe, my brain tells me, maybe it’s just OK to do this. To stop and sit here outside instead. Maybe you don’t always have to be doing something. You’re already outside. You’ve spent the week doing silly amounts of burpees and running around in mud and flinging yourself over walls and tyres. Maybe it’s OK.

So I am.


Don’t drink and sit.

On bar stools that is. They’re high. They’re all right if you’re drinking water, or orange juice, or coke. But not beer, wine or anything alcoholic (or if you’re just naturally accident prone). Because, then there’s every chance you could fall off one.

Like I did.

Last Saturday.

Picture it: Mardi Gras weekend in Sydney. The day started well. Me and Jason went for a massive Aussie breakfast in Bondi, then got the train to Circular Quay (the place where the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are). A wander round The Rocks and a walk over the bridge later, it started to rain. By this time it was about 2pm I reckon, so we decided to go for a drink. The pub did jugs of beer. So, that’s what we drank. And we just kept going throughout the afternoon. Ahh, good old afternoon drinking sessions.

The unplanned ones are the best.

We had a ball. Chatting to loads of different people. I kept getting bought drinks by the random people I kept chatting to at the bar. People were trying to convince us that their mate was famous (he wasn’t). Lesbian hen parties wanted their picture taken with us. It was fun. Until, I fell. No idea how, or when, or what happened. Whether I just got off balance, got knocked by someone or what. Jason didn’t see it (just saw me in a crumpled heap on the floor). I don’t think I was that drunk, but yeah, I’d had a few. But, regardless of what happened, I messed up my elbow pretty bad and banged my knee.

But it wasn’t until the next day that everything started to hurt. My elbow looked the worse but actually isn’t that painful now. What is painful, is my ribs. I have no idea what I’ve done to them. Bruised, cracked or broken, I’m not sure. All I know is that my chest on my left side is agony, they’ve hurt since Sunday and they don’t seem to be getting much better. Any walking feels like I have an elephant on my chest poking my lung with a stick. I can’t walk up stairs very well because I get out of breath and then struggle to breathe as it hurts so much. I can’t straighten my back up because it all hurts. If I turn over in bed or get up from sitting down I get sharp shooting pains. I feel about 90 years old.

It’s not good. Mum, you probably shouldn’t show this blog post to Nan, she’ll only worry. In fact, maybe you shouldn’t read this one either. But I’m OK, really. I’m sure. Don’t worry.

But, I think I’m going to go and get checked out tomorrow. Just to be on the safe side, and also because I’m flying to New Zealand on Monday. Need to make sure I’m OK for that. I know there’s not a lot that can be done for ribs anyway, but would be good to just see what they say.

Yes, I know it was stupid. And yes, I know it’s my own fault. I’m not looking for sympathy, and I’m not excusing it, I’m just telling it how it is. I was irresponsible. I should know better, especially at my age. Yes, I know I shouldn’t have drunk so much. Maybe that caused it, maybe it didn’t, I don’t know. These things happen, I’m sure most people that go out drinking can relate to it (although maybe without the injury part).

It’s not big, and its not clever. But it happened. And I don’t do it that often. Sometimes it’s nice to have a blow out. Just not to be accompanied by accidents.


I’ll learn for next time. Maybe. And in the meantime, please don’t do what I did people. Because, I also missed Mardi Gras. Gutted.

Drink sensibly and responsibly. It’s the best way.

Edited 6th March to add : It turns out that after a day in A&E, a chest x-ray and having to wear a rather fetching hospital gown, I have broken a rib. No wonder it bloody hurt!!

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Work? What work?

It has been a busy weekendings so far. It’s already Sunday night and I’m sat watching the Grand Prix at my brother’s house thinking about the last few days and wondering where the chuff they’ve gone. Blink-and-you’d-miss-it.

Friday was my last day at work. My last day as an IT Project Manager. My last day working for the University of Lincoln. Technically I’m still employed until the 31st but in my head I’m now unemployed. No job. I’ve had a job since I was about 14 so it feels a bit weird. Just a bit like I’m on holiday and I’ll be going back at some point. Although it did hit me yesterday that I didn’t have to think in weekends and weeks any more. And that it didn’t matter when it might be nice weather because I’ll have chance to enjoy it however I want.

I had a brilliant last day. Did a bit of work and a had a last meeting in the morning, then two fab speeches from both my bosses. Although a bit embarrassing.  I like other people’s leaving speeches but when it’s your own its a bit different. I’m not that keen on being the centre of attention, especially when people have just said lots of nice things about me. Was wondering whether they were actually talking about the right person. After that we headed to the pub for a little lunchtime drink before finishing up a last few bits and saying goodbye to everyone who wasn’t going out later. Oh, and of course making sure the office window got updated:


Lots of people had asked for my blog address so I sent an email round to everyone before I left. I decided to add in a cheeky RickRoll to see who I could get. Don’t know what RickRolling is? Shame on you. Tis an internet phenomenon. Learn here. I got quite a few people, but I am most pleased with the reaction from my boss Matt. I wish I had caught it on camera. It was a classic. My work there was done; a most pleasant exit bow.

We then went and drank beer. Fun. Lots of people out; it was really nice to get to chat and say goodbye to everyone. I did get drunk; that was inevitable. BUT. I managed to stay a little bit sensible and call it a fairly early night, meaning only a small hangover on Saturday. Win.


As excited as I am to be starting a new adventure, I’m sad to be leaving the Uni. I’ve had some great times there and met some brill people. It’s been life changing. Literally. My life is very different now than when I joined. I’m very different. There are some special people there that have had an impact on my life and me in different ways and I’m very grateful to them. And I will miss them. A lot.

Leaving. Soon.

So leaving doo number 1 was last Saturday. I’m only just blogging about it now because I’m *just* about recovered. Yep, I had a bit to drink. Had to be done. Didn’t really think my hangover would last for two days though.

It was worth it though. Just. It was a most awesome night. I saw loads of my lovely mates who had all come out to bid me farewell, thank you, you wicked bunch of people that I’ve collected along the years. All different, all special. They say people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Some stay, some go. There was a mix of people there on Saturday. People I see most days, people I used to work with, people I currently work with, my best friends, school friends and people I’ve not seen for years. I am truly chuffed that I can call you all my friends.

Even though it’s the last time I’ll see most of them before I go, I didn’t feel sad. I guess it’s because to be in touch with someone nowadays doesn’t necessarily mean having to see them. The wonderful invention of the internet means that I can be in touch with you all throughout my year away. Just not in the flesh. I’ll be in the computer. It was probably also helped by copious amounts of alcohol and having a happy night.

Whether I’ll carry on feeling like this, I don’t know. I know there’s a couple of people I’ll miss seeing in person. I already miss one person and I’ve not even gone yet. I’ll just try to remember: don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

It was great catching up with a couple of people that I’ve not seen for quite a few years too. My old buddy Tara (we were the two T’s back as teenagers) who I’ve not seen since we were 18, and Vic who I went to school with who I’ve only seen a few times over the last few years. It was SO good to see them. Just a shame I won’t get to see them properly for another year now. When I get back ladies we will have that proper catch up 🙂


What a difference a year makes.

Last night was the Electric Bar and Restaurant’s 1st birthday party. A year ago we went to the launch party. It was very similar, although this time round the free bar wasn’t open as long (boo) but I got to eat more food (hurrah).

A year ago I ended the night on tequila slammers and a drunk taxi ride home in the early hours of the morning. This year I only had a couple of drinks and left early. Mainly because I had so much to do today I couldn’t face doing it with a hangover, and I’d had my fair share of alcohol last weekend.

What a difference a year makes; I fear I’ve become a bit sensible :O