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.

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Life after divorce.

Life after divorce (or a breakup). By the time you’re in your 30’s and having a relationship breakdown, marriage isn’t necessarily the default but chances are you’d got to a point in your relationship where you were the last ones in your friendship groups to tie the knot and both of you thought it was probably about time you spent thousands of ££ on a big party where you’d invite a load of people you probably won’t speak to 5 years on.

So, once you’ve paid out more thousands of ££ for solicitors to undo the bit that you signed before the big party, what do you do? Easy! Follow this guide* to getting through that breakup and starting life again (aka have a life crisis):

  1. Get your hair cut in a new and funky style by the junior stylist (because the divorce wiped you out and you cant afford the salon director any more). Exclaim “it’s fab! Just what I always wanted!” with hysterical gusto while crying silently inside and wondering what your head would look like shaved.
  2. Take up a sport. Doesn’t matter which one, just do something to help lose more weight in addition to the 3 stone you’ve already lost through stress and a diet of alcohol and biscuits.
  3. Shag someone at least 10 years younger than yourself. Just remember not to engage them in conversation. Unless of course you do actually care about Justin Bieber or Harry Styles’s hairdo.
  4. Go on Tinder and other online dating apps/websites. Spend a few days chatting to John from Peterborough because he’s the only person who has messaged you before you realise you don’t actually care about the steam engine show he went to at the weekend or how many cabbages he is growing. Realise you have lost all self respect and delete apps in a fit of self pity and loathing.
  5. Join an internet forum based on shared interests. Realise after a week you have not slept or showered or gone to work, but you do have thousands of new friends who ‘get you’.
  6. Wear short shorts. You’ve lost 3 stone through the breakup diet and realised you don’t give a fuck about anything any more.
  7. Do household chores without any resentment towards the lazy shit you used to live with. Realise you actually like housework. Skip around with the hoover like Mary Poppins! Get bored and fed up. Give up on housework and eat biscuits instead when you remember the mantra ‘fuck the fucking housework’.
  8. Eat pizza from the box. Because you can’t be arsed to wash a plate up and because your body is now craving carbs following the break up diet initial stages.
  9. Don’t get dressed for 2 days. No one will see you! No one will judge, not even Phil the Postman. And besides, he likes your onesie, he said so that time.
  10. Go to bed with your make up on. After all, you’ve given up dating after Peterborough John, so no one will see you in the morning. And besides, you’ve always admired the Absolutely Fabulous look.
  11. Go on a singles holiday. All your mates are still married or have kids so you have no friends left anyway, so why not join other desperate singles trying to appear like they’re just there for a holiday and not there to find someone else to marry to avoid being alone for the rest of their lives.
  12. Go on an activity holiday. You’ve given up on the singles holidays because Greg from Southampton mistook your ‘let’s have a nightcap’ drunken shout out in the bar for something completely different which then triggered an incident involving hotel security, a flannel, a bowler hat and some chocolate mousse. At least an activity holiday means you don’t have to pretend to be interested in Joanne’s stories from her time in the Accounting department at the local council because you’re too busy hanging off a rock the size of a pea on a cliff face while mentally chastising yourself for not making a will.
  13. Shag someone from work. If you really want to keep things amusing try either someone from your own department or your boss. Or your boss’s boss. This way meetings will be interesting as you’ll just be picturing them naked.
  14. Get a cat. Decide one cat isn’t enough. Get another one so they can occupy each other while you’re at work picturing your boss naked. Decide against getting another one because you realise you’re in danger of becoming crazy cat lady.
  15. Contemplate getting a dog because you read somewhere it’s a good way to meet people. Realise you probably can’t get a dog because you now have cats. Read about a cat cafe. Decide to visit one as an alternative way to meet people. End up just meeting lots of crazy cat women.
  16. Wonder how long your eggs have got left before they start shrivelling. Wonder about freezing them then realise how much that costs. Make a point of visiting friends with horrid children to put you off the idea of spawning.
  17. Rediscover (or discover) tequila slammers. Who knew how much fun some salt, a lemon and some incredibly foul tasting alcohol could be?
  18. Get hideously drunk at a wedding and behave inappropriately. Drink tequila slammers (because they’re fun, remember), fall over on the dance floor, fall off chairs, flash your knickers, kiss your friends uncle in front of the whole family including his children, leave your hand bag at the venue and make your friend homeless for the night, eat the whole cheeseboard even though you don’t like cheese and other things that you will never remember because you drank so much tequila. Just remember to mention you’re recently divorced/separated/single, because this may go some way to excusing your behaviour.
  19. Spunk £3000 on a bespoke, hand made in Italy, cream fabric sofa. Because your ex loved black leather.
  20. Spill red wine on sofa. Throw white wine on it. Clean it up as best you can. Realise it’s futile and that even if it cleaned up you’d probably just do it again. Go out and buy big cushions instead.
  21. Cry for 3 days solid. Realise you’re crying more over a sofa than your ex. Realise you’ve turned a corner.
  22. Try Zumba because Jill from Reception had a spare pass to the gym. Realise you have all the grace and finesse of a baby elephant but enjoy the hip wiggling and freestyle. Make friends with Claire and Sophie. Start going to fitness weekends at Butlins where you spend just as much time drinking Blossom Hill and dancing to 80’s tunes as you do going to Body Pump and Zumba.
  23. Eat bowls of broccoli for tea. Spice things up with a few chilli flakes every now and then. Pride yourself on this ‘quick’ tea that does not involve anything beige from a freezer. while overlooking the lack of other essential nutrients in this diet. Mention said meal to friends who then start inviting you round for dinner more in exchange for juicy gossip and scandal.
  24. Start to realise that life alone isn’t so bad. Ponder the thought that maybe you’ve had more fun in the last few months than you’ve had in a long time. Decide you’re in no hurry to get into another relationship, and that you and you alone are responsible for your own happiness.
  25. Book another activity holiday, this time with sky diving. Hope that Greg from Southampton is still banned from booking with the same travel company.

 

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*riseandshinepaps bears no responsibility to anyone following this (fictional, made up and completely tongue-in-cheek) guide and the characters above are completely fictional and bear no resemblance to anyone, living or dead (apart from 18. Yes, that was me. Oh, and 23.)

Day #135 14.05.16

Eurovision party time where the gin and tonics come in a glass as big as your head. Much fun watching the Grape Escape’s live streaming of the year’s annual cheesepopfest (which every year reminds me of Rachel Crownshaw and the time as teenagers we watched it when her parents had gone away where we were screaming at the TV cheering on Katrina and the waves alongside ringing Rob Cooling at various points in the evening).

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Day #58 27.02.16

The annual Zambia reunion (sadly minus the flakey Ciaran who screwed his dates up) took place today. No selfie sticks were used in the making of this picture. 

I was actually trying to lay across everyone as they said that would make a good picture, but I decided this one was actually better.

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Day #50 19.02.16

This weekend saw visitors from The Shire (Lincolnshire) in the form of Laura and Holly. Ditching the husbands and kids for the weekend they braved the motorway boredom on a Friday afternoon to come see me and have a night on the Cheltenham tiles. Before heading out to help break my Dry February spell there was a quick facetime to say night to the kiddywinks back home.

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Day #41 10.02.16

I love living in a flat for many reasons, but one of them is for the neighbours. You see them a lot more than if living on a street, and if you’re me, you see them a lot more than just in passing as you foist yourself on them and make them be your friend.

Shelley lives in the flat below me and we often pop into each other’s flats for a cup of tea or g&t and a catch up/laugh/put the world to rights. This was one of those times. But she doesn’t like having her picture taken much. But as people will realise (and old friends will remember from 2012 PAD) you don’t have a choice where photo a day is concerned. Hehe.

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Day #30 30.01.16

BMF. British Military Fitness. Basically circuits outside in a park, usually involving rolling around in the mud, come rain or shine. I started doing something similar in Lincoln 4 years ago when I realised that just running and badminton probably wasn’t enough and I should probably do some different type of exercise. Mainly to make my running better.

When I moved here to Chelts I was pretty stoked to see BMF were here. I signed up last year for two reasons: for a bit of a different fitness stuff to do, and also to make friends and meet people, as I’d only just moved here and didn’t know anyone apart from Rachel. Plus I’m not really keen on exercising inside. I like to be outside, preferably in green stuff.

And it delivered. I’ve met some cracking people and had such a laugh. It’s a great social bunch and we’ve done a lot of cool stuff last year and already so much booked this year. Mud runs, relay runs that kind of shizzle.

What I love about the weekend sessions is we roll around in mud being shouted at and beasted for an hour then all sit and drink tea and chat. When I’m not busy doing other stuff at the weekend I can’t think of a better way to spend the morning.

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2015. What a year eh?

Right so let’s just say this; I’m not going to go through everything that has happened in 2015 because: 1) it would take too long, 2) I can’t remember everything without looking at my diary, 3) I can’t be arsed and need to get to sleep soon as I have a 5.30am alarm call and 4) I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine (I’m currently staying in South Africa in the WINE region, COME ON…) and it’s taking all my energy to type properly.

BUT.

What I can say is that 2015 has been pretty fucking awesome. A bit of a rollercoaster at times, but hey, isn’t that just life?

On 2nd January 2015 I moved myself and my meagre belongings in a van (first time driving a big van, and 9 hours driving in one day, the same 3 hour route 3 FUCKING times, ouch) to a place called Cheltenham. I didn’t really know the place, and only knew one person there. I figured it would be an adventure and it seemed like a place I’d like to live, and it wasn’t Lincoln. I actually didn’t think much further that than. It had hills and outdoor stuff, that seemed like generally enough to pique my interest.

And it has lived up to it’s expectations. To be fair, I didn’t have many. I was just pleased to be living by myself again and having my own place. After 2 years of travelling around and staying with people, it became pretty damn important to have a front door I could shut on the world. And I did when I first moved, I didn’t want to talk to anyone new for a couple of months. I was actually quite happy to not be doing this but it got to about March and I figured I really should. And I did, and I’m glad I did. I finish this year thinking about all the people I have met along the way, and there’s a lot, and it’s been, well, interesting. And special. I made more friends than I maybe thought, and I’ve met some pretty amazing people.

Because people are what make the world go round. Before I went travelling I used to read travel blogs that would always say “it’s the people you meet”. And I wondered what they meant. But now I know. When I was travelling, I DID meet some incredible people, and they’re some of my best memories of my year away. And this year, it’s been the same. I’ve done some cool stuff, but I’ve also met some cool people. Them, and their stories, is what life is all about.

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my alone time (not to be confused with quiet time Donna, that’s different, although I obviously enjoy that too) and in fact, I really, really, really needed this bit of time right now where I’m travelling by myself and spending the majority of time alone. Yep, I love it and need it, and if I’ve been too busy and sociable I have to make sure I get some. 22 hours travelling to another country? YES – BLISS because I sit on a plane by myself and don’t have to speak to anyone. Yay.

But also I love people, I love being sociable. I love the more the merrier nights and bringing people together. I love a good chat, laugh and a beer. Standard.

So I guess I want to end 2015 saying a massive THANK YOU to everyone I know that touches my life in one way or another. And I think there’s a lot of people that maybe don’t realise they do. And I should tell them. Maybe not publicly here, or on Faceache or similar, but if there’s someone in your life that makes a difference, then tell them. I will be doing. You’ve made my 2015 special and brilliant.

I was looking to see what I posted last December but I didn’t write anything, I was having a blogging break if I remember. I did post in early February though. I even made some kind of plans and stuff to do in 2015. Ha, I’d totally forgotten those, and never looked back over them. Hmm, I didn’t get round to doing them all but I gave it a good crack. Some were a bit of pipe dream, and maybe stay on the list for next year. There’s some new stuff too. Should I write it down? Nah, I’ll leave it for later.

I end 2015 in South Africa; not somewhere I thought I’d be for a while (although I knew I’d be back, I kept the plug adaptor in the divorce settlement, haha) and spent New Years Eve taking a drive down to the coast and to the southernmost tip of Africa. Keeping my travelling itchy feet at bay for a little bit I hope, and getting some Africa sunsets. Not sure where I will end up in 2016 or what will happen but that’s all part of the adventure, and keeps my life interesting. I’ve got a few ideas but a year is a long time and a lot can change. So we’ll see.

I’m a change-anything-you’re-not-happy-with-any-time-you like person, but I do like the start of a new year to start some shit. Not resolutions as such, but just as good a time as any to punch the shit out of some stuff. This year, I start with the first few months dedicated to being healthier and getting fitter. I need to do some actual training for a bike ride I’m planning at Easter and if I don’t, then I’m going to suffer. So I better get my shizzle sorted. Anything else after that will be a bonus.

This is a bit of a rambly but short post, not quite with mega meaning or structure but I’m running out of time as I need to go to sleep as my alarm is going off tomorrow at 5.30am as I’m off on a big hike early to beat the fierce sun. This is probably the only year I’m starting as I mean to go on – healthy and not hungover!

But a couple of messages before I finish. Firstly, THANK YOU for reading. I write this blog mainly for myself as I just enjoy writing about whatever is in my head but if you like to read it then thanks, it means a lot. Two, the photo a day project is returning! Starting from tomorrow, I’ll post a picture a day. Might be a bit late over the next few days because of Africa wifi #TIA issues but they will be there. I did my last one in 2012 which for some reason a lot of people enjoyed. I suspect it’s because it was my first single year and so I did a lot of stuff and it was a bit all over the place. In a way I suspect this year might be a bit more settled/rounded although I actually probably do a lot more crazy/interesting stuff now.

Three, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Whether 2015 was amazing or shit for you, I wish you all the best in 2016. May you make it a year to remember. May it be filled with love, laughter and happiness. May you weather the storms with a smile and a laugh, and a determination that life will not beat you. Grab life by the balls and if you’re not sure about something, then maybe using my mantra will help:

Fuck it, do it.

Live life, don’t just exist. Don’t be scared to do anything, it’s never as bad as you think, and there are ALWAYS people looking out for you.

Go smash the shit out of life!!

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