Category Archives: friends

Our Fundraising Weekend

A little while ago I asked my Mam if I could raise some money for charity because I wanted to help people that don’t have as much money as us. image So I asked Aunty Lauren if she wanted to help and she was very excited. Me, Mam and Aunty Lauren came up with a big list of ideas and we decided on two things to do. The first thing was a sponsored walk from Blyth beach to St. Mary’s lighthouse which was my Mam’s idea. We did our sponsored walk yesterday and we walked about 7 miles in very very strong wind! At one point it was so windy that we were nearly blown into the sea! image image Before we even started walking, in the carpark at Blyth beach, a man in a big DFS truck stopped and put some money in our bucket! We also already had £156 in sponsors on our JustGiving page before we did the walk! Everyone was really generous and they were all saying good luck and well done. image The walk took us 1 hour and 45 minutes but that was with lots of toilet breaks at the pubs on the way! I also went to the public toilets next to the beach and they were ugly and horrible, but thats enough about the toilets! We had 10 grown ups and 5 children and the grown-ups complained more than the kids! My little cousin Jak is only 4 years old and he walked and ran the whole entire way! Weird and Funny Picture! When we got there we had some food and drinks and we bought an ice-cream, even though some of the grown-ups thought this was crazy because it was so cold and windy! image image image image But it was fine because me and my Uncle Liam kept warm next to the van attached to the ice-cream van, at one time we were sitting inside the door of the van! A few more people had stopped to give us money on the way because we had made special t-shirts with red nose faces and the red nose logo on the front and a “please sponsor us” message on the back.” When we got back everyone was very tired but we were excited about how much money we had made. We counted and we were up to about £310. A family friend even knocked on the door a little while after we got back, to give us some money! My Aunty Lauren and Jade snuggled up on the settee and had a sleep, while me and Aunty Caitlin let Kenzie do our make-up.image We made some tea and some cupcakes and then we had an early night to get ready for facepainting the next day. The second part of our fundraising was facepainting for children and grown ups at the Keel Row pub. image Once we had picked Sophie up we went to the pub and at first we were locked our because they weren’t open yet! But we were let in early and we got a table and sat down to wait for my Mam to come with the facepaints and the rest of our posters and things. When my Mam got there we set up everything on the table and people were starting to come in. We painted each others faces first. I did a silly red nose face on Aunty Lauren and made her whole face bright red! I got one done too, by Sophie. image image It took a while for the first person to come and get their face done so we just had fun painting each others faces. The first person to come over was a little girl who got a butterfly just like me! After that some of the men came to get theirs done and that was really funny! One got a pirate and then the other one asked for a pirate but his friends were sneaky and asked us to do Kermit the Frog instead, so that’s what me and Soohie did! He was surprised when he looked in the mirror. Everyone was very very geberous and even though not many people got their faces done, we still made about £120! image image There are still some sponsors which people have not been able to pay yet so we do not know our final, final total but we counted everything tonight and we have made £427.58!!!!!!!!!! That is so much more than we were expecting when we set our first target of £50! I feel really happy that we have made so much. From one little idea that I had it has spread and spread with people sharing and sharing it, from our friends to their friends to their friends. image Thank you very much everyone for sponsoring us. I’ve had a great weekend and I cant believe how much I’ve raised with everyones help. Thank you!

And thank you especially  to my Mam for helping with everything and making sure we didn’t forget anything, so everything could be perfect!

image The funniest part of the whole weekend was when my Dad let me paint his face as Raphael! I even painted his spiky hair (not that he has much)! image Thank you everyone! Love Nicole Barnes xxx

Lessons Learned Last Weekend

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am in equal measures too lazy, too stingey and too lazy, to spend much time on various health and beauty treatments. I’ve never had hair extensions, I can’t stand wearing fake nails, I gave up on false eyelashes after a few goes and I’ve never (no never!) used fake tan. Now you must understand I have nothing against any of these things, they all just require that little bit too much effort for someone quite as lazy as myself.

The one pamper treatment that I have always wanted though, but never gotten round to having (again, the laziness), was a proper massage and a facial. So when my frankly smashing bezzie mate announced last week (after trying quite hilariously for about an hour to keep it a secret) that she had booked a ‘treatment session’ for me, I was really quite chuffed! She had taken it upon herself to do this due to the high levels of stress and emotional instability that I had exhibited to her during our regular chats, in the few days prior.

Fast forward to me gingerly (love that word) stripping down to the waist and diving under a blanket thingy in a lovely-smelling little room with nice calming music and a – less calming – unlocked and inexplicably not even fully closed, door. Lots of hot stone and oil proceedings ensued when the lady returned, thankfully closing the door behind her, and I was pretty much having the time of my life. Massages are seriously good people! But you probably already knew that, I doubt it takes many people 24 years to get round to having one. Anyway I loved it, even if I did have to concentrate really quite hard for the first 5 minutes on not laughing out loud at the mental image of ho my face must look squidged through the little hole in the table, as seen from below. Or at memories of the Friends episode with Phoebe, Monica and those inappropriate noises. What can I say, I’m a very sophisticated individual.

Even I had to make an effort for my brother's wedding
Even I had to make an effort for my brother’s wedding

For the second half hour I had elected to have a facial, so after discussing my skin type and appropriate face masks for a few minutes, I awkwardly wriggled over onto my back and the lovely lady (she was very lovely, I don’t think I mentioned that yet) got to work on my mush. This second part was more of a chatty affair and she was, as I say, very lovely and fun to talk to. About half way through the facial regime came the face mask and once this was applied and doing it’s thing I was given a very relaxing and almost sleep inducing head massage (you’ll know if you follow this blog that dozing off is always a strong possibility for me in any sort of relaxation, or just any sitting down, situation).

Soon my normal-dry skin was sufficiently cleansed, scrubbed, moisturised, toned, sanded and polished (OK I may have made up a couple of those but you get the point) and I had re-dressed my top half under the blanket thingy somewhat in the style that we used to after swimming lessons in the little pool at middle school, all too aware that there was a room full of maniacally hormonal teenage lads on the other side of the door, who despite the teachers’ best efforts, weren’t always successfully kept on the other side of that door. I got dressed in this fashion because the lady had vacated the room and left the door ajar again. Weird. I realise of course that you’re probably sat there wondering exactly why I didn’t shut the door. Well with hindsight, I’m not really sure why I didn’t! I guess I was half worried that there was some little quirk with the door that meant it was prone to jamming and needed a skilled ‘knack’ to get it open again from the inside. So survival instinct and fear of embarrassment at having to bang on the door to be let out, prevented me from closing the door. At any rate, it simply didn’t present itself as a viable option at the time.

Anyway overall my hour’s session was most enjoyable. It was great to be pampered for a while and I felt nicely relaxed enough by the end to nod sleepily through the ‘aftercare’ instructions, which included advice to try to abstain from caffeine and alcohol for the rest of the day as either of these could cause headaches. Something about having given the lymphatic system a kick up the backside? Anyway I nodded sleepily and completely ignored this advice. Straight to Danielle’s for a cuppa it was, with a stop en route at the newsagents to pick up a bottle of wine to be had with dinner at our friends’ house in a few hours time.

Alas it turned out the lady knew her beans! After one cup of (fully caffeinated) tea the day started to take a bit of a downturn, in the shape of a steadily worsening headache. By the time we got to our friends’ house, well let’s just say it’s a good job all of the company were very close friends who’ve seen me at my worst long before now as I was not doing well at all! I had to start speaking more slowly than a stupid English tourist trying to communicate with a Spanish waiter, to ensure my mouth was saying the same words that my brain was thinking. It wasn’t too much longer before my right eye started to behave very much like an old TV that had lost signal in high winds. Next was the forehead-splitting headache and churning stomach. Then as quickly as it had started, it began to sidle away and within 3 hours start to finish, I had gone through an entire migraine cycle and come out the other end even chirpier than usual, in fact I couldn’t shut up and the wine started to look particularly attractive.

A couple of hours, a veritable banquet of homecooked food and a few glasses of wine later and I’d had a lovely night, a great catch up with some of my best friends in the world and some great conversation! This was 4 days ago now and my head has been quite achey in an on-off, annoying niggly type fashion since, which I’m really hoping is going to politely sod off pretty soon but overall, I’m all good!

Having read up on it since, head massage, if one is not used to it, apparently an bring on migraine attacks, which I can fully believe as this was the first one I’ve had in around 12 years!

So in summary:
– Back massages are ace!
– Although a head massage feels bloody great at the time, I will probably never ever ever be having one ever again
– Migraines are scary and they make me want to cry and get cuddles from Mammy
– My friends are by far the best that a whingey stresshead could ever ask for!

Most of my main ladies (with the exception of Nikki!)
Most of my main ladies (with the exception of Nikki-we need more photos all together!)

The Woes of Resting Bitch Face

So I’ve recently returned from a positively lovely weekend in Hertford visiting friends from Uni.

I traveled on the overnight National Express bus on Thursday, arriving almost without a hitch in Stevenage bus station at 7am on Friday. I was met there by Tamara – one of my housemates from first and second year – who had brought me the world’s most appreciated flask of hot, milky, sugary tea, ready for our connecting train to the beautiful Hertford. If there’s one thing you learn about each other whilst living together for two years at Uni, it’s how people like their tea! You drink a lot of that shit and you can’t be seen to be dodging putting-the-kettle-on duties. That is of course unless you’re me, as my cuppas are in many ways like snowflakes, fingerprints or a tiger’s stripes, i.e. no two cups of tea that I have ever made have been the same (in taste, colour, temperature, consistency). So I was practically begged not to make them.

In fact the first (and one of the last) times I offered to make a ’round’ of teas was in my first year of Uni and it really was a sight to behold. Although most people asked for them exactly the same we were able to spend 10 minutes once they were made arranging them in order of colour, from deepest brown to murky grey.

It’s just occurring to me now actually that it’s fairly fitting that I should meet Tamara at a bus stop after not seeing her for a few months. After all I actually met her for the first time, along with the rest of my 1st year adoptive flatmates, in the same place (a bus stop I mean, not specifically a bus stop in Stevenage – the original one was in Sunderland). It was the morning after my utterly disastrous first night out in our campus bar, where I made what you wouldn’t so much call friends, as mildly uncomfortable acquaintances whom for quite a while I harboured the desire to poke enthusiastically in the eyes. The 4 girls I went out with decided at around 1am that they didn’t want to wait any longer for a 6-seater taxi and got into a regular one, leaving me stood on my own without a clue of where I was. Anyway the next day, carrying on the theme from that gloriously Inbetweeners-esque episode, I was being the way cool guy that I always have been and heading to Uni to register on my lonesome, definitely contemplating in some dark recess of my mind calling Mammy and making her come get me; when I bumped into Becca, Fee, Sophie and Tamara, at the bus stop outside my halls. After a day that consisted of us registering then wandering aimlessly around town together struggling to understand each other’s accents, followed by the succession of rather messy nights out that comprised our Fresher’s Week, I promptly more or less moved into their flat, proceeding to use the room in my flat across the car park as a glorified (and expensive) wardrobe for the next 8 months. The rest, as they say, is history.

Anyway back to my journey, I say it went almost without a hitch because there was a bit of a dodgy 30 minutes there when we were stuck in traffic outside Milton Keynes (at 5:30am, these Southerners need to learn to go to sleep) and I was perilously close to missing my second bus from Milton Keynes to Stevenage. Thankfully I didn’t and was spared the joys of waiting in a cold and not entirely safe bus station for 4 hours, for another bus!

I’m happy to report, though, that my falling-asleep-in-public skills did come in very handy on this outgoing journey and I slept for a good few hours of it.

The return journey on Monday was a lot shorter and marginally more comfortable, which was much appreciated after a weekend during which the ratio of hours spent asleep and hours spent consuming alcohol was a very enjoyable one, but not without it’s negative consequences. I got the train from Hertford-Stevenage then Stevenage-Newcastle, followed by the Metro to Four Lane Ends and a lift home from there.

The first thing I learned from the weekend’s is that I desperately need to pass my driving test and invest in a car.

The second issue that was thrown into the limelight of my irritatingly over-active consciousness during all of this time spent on public transport, was my chronic Resting Bitch Face (RBF if you will).

Now I have been aware for a long while that I possess this affliction, so it’s not like I experienced some kind of awful epiphany whilst travelling over the weekend, about the fact that at any time when I am not actively talking to someone, smiling at something, or laughing, I tend to have – to use what I think is the most accurate and simplest description – a face-like-a-smacked-arse.

I already knew this.

The clues have always been there in the frankly unnecessary amount of times I am told by friends to smile, or – slightly but not much less often – asked if I’m OK.

I don’t know what causes this phenomenon and I know I’m not by any means the only one to experience it. I guess my face just likes to screw me over.

This is a classic example from many, many moons ago and an absolute favourite snap of mine, don’t I just look thrilled to be alive…

Resting Bitch Face (RBF) at it’s Absolute Best

Anyway, what I do know is that when you spend hours on end on your own on board public transport where there are strangers in the form of other passengers, this issue can be greatly highlighted.

I also have quite a tendency, owing to the aforementioned over-active brain and the amount of thinking that it insists on doing at all times, to stare off into the distance (or what I believe at the time is the distance) for often undetermined periods of time. Now the problem arises on occasions – and there have been many – when my eye line towards said distance happens to be inconveniently occupied by another human, or as in the following example, another passenger.

Basically what I’m saying is that when you’re sitting on a bus across from the same guy for 7 hours+ and you haven’t said hello or otherwise acknowledged him – because it’s an overnight bus and nobody wants to make small talk that will only serve to prevent themselves and others from being asleep – it comes as an unpleasant surprise when you find that said fellow passenger is looking at you uncomfortably out of the corner of their eye  – and realise that you’ve been staring straight at them, most likely looking vaguely angry, for who knows how long.

Happily this happened not long before I was able to escape from that bus and get on a different one, so I didn’t have to feel like a big weirdo for too long.

It’s no wonder really that even though I don’t think I’m too much of a social catastrophe most of the time – although I definitely do have my spectacularly embarrassing moments, much to the enjoyment of my closest friends – I can give off a not-so-agreeable first impression.

It’s not just the once that I’ve been told by a friend that when they first met me they thought I was anti-social, or not-so-diplomatically, “a bit ignorant.”

A few years ago when I worked at McDonald’s, some of my work mates broke the news that when I first started, they couldn’t believe that I was the daughter of Aileen, one of their favourite semi-regular customers, because Aileen was really nice!

I think the problem is that I’m shy and nervy when I first meet people but I don’t think that comes across, as I’m also really quite chatty and loud, pretty much at all times. And especially when I’m nervous, call it a defence mechanism. So mix that together with an accidentally constant Resting Bitch Face and you can see why I may not always an immediate hit!

And let’s face it, the high sarcasm levels don’t always help.

Basically, if I was a friends character I’d be Chandler, every time!