Friday, 24 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

Just to wish everyone a very merry Christmas:-)

Monday, 20 December 2010

My Hair Turned White!

It was minus 10 when I took Bar-Os to the paddock this morning. By the time I'd walked back home, my hair had frozen and the frosty, foggy atmosphere had turned it white. Brrrrrrrrrr.

There's a field not too far away that has a selection of horses and ponies on it. Yesterday there were several concerned looking RSPCA officers at the field. I have noticed that the horses are being fed; there's hay on the ground, but they aren't rugged up and there's no shelter for them.

I thought it a very ill considered statement a couple of weeks ago, when an RSPCA spokesperson said (on the news) that the Charity were tired of people calling them up to report horses in fields without rugs. The spokesperson said that this wasn't a problem because horses are capable of withstanding sub-zero temperatures. Well I beg to differ. Sure, they will withstand a frosty night of minus 1 or 2 without too much hardship, but the current weather is too harsh for many horses, particularly the older ones or the finer thoroughbred types. I suppose the RSPCA have shot themselves in the foot here because they can hardly prosecute people for following the Charity's own advice.

Bar-Os is very grumpy at the moment. He doesn't like the cold weather and he particularly doesn't like my woolly ski hat. As I approach the stable, he flattens his ears back and once I'm inside, battle commences. He's determined to grab the hat off my head and doesn't mind if he grasps a mouthful of hair at the same time. Barman stands looking through the kitchen window, laughing at the sight of it all. If I put both hands to my head, he grabs the zip on my jacket and yanks that down. If I take my hat off, calmness prevails, but it's bloody freezing. Oh, and he also doesn't like having the belly straps done up on his rug (I assume because they feel cold against his skin?). As I bend down to pull the straps through, he makes a grab for my bum, or even worse, the back of my knee. I'll be a battered and bruised wreck by the time the weather improves.

Still, I'm not complaining. At the end of July, I was told that he had 3 months to live. Here we are, 5 months later and he is such a lot better. His previously limp tail is regaining movement, he goes to the loo quite nicely too. It's just his bladder that is a little weak. I have to smear his 'bits' with petroleum jelly each day, as the drops of urine freeze to his skin and make him sore. It is slightly troubling that Bar-Os loves the warm flannel and subsequent smearing of Vaseline around his nether regions. Wonder what Freud would make of it all!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Application Form Avoidance and Bah Humbug

I really should be filling out an application form, but having read the person specification and all the associated jargon, I've lost momentum. It must be bad because I even vacuumed the house to avoid said form filling. On my travels with the vacuum cleaner, I accidentally came across a bag containing prezzies that Barman has bought me for Christmas. I know that I shouldn't have, but...

Ok, so it's the giving that counts, and I'm a very ungrateful person, but I do seem to get more than my fair share of crappy Chrimbo prezzies and my 'yes it's lovely' smile does take some doing at times. Barman and his family are particularly chronic prezzie choosers and I always undo their gifts first to get the disappointment/shock out of the way:-) Last year I thought that I'd play it safe and specify what I wanted - something simple, a fool proof prezzie - a nice plain white shirt with collar, size 10/12. I got a white shirt with frumpy frills down the front and a banded neck-line, it was very Miss Jean Brodie. Oh, and it was a size 18. I'm allergic to soap, always have been and received 2 bars from my mother-in-law (who said that Barman had told her I'd like some soap), and a 42 inch chest shirt? I once requested something nice and snugly. Big mistake. I received a pair of massive, white, thermal bloomers - the ones that come half way down the thigh - the 'yes they're lovely' smile was impossible to perform on that occasion. As was the case when Barman bought me a pair of size 18 jodphurs (there's a theme emerging here don't you think?) - I didn't speak to him all day and was even more furious when I took the jodphurs back to the shop and the assistant (who we know) informed me that she'd told Barman they were far too large for me, but he'd disagreed.

I knew that I shouldn't have peeked in the prezzie bag, but I was put on notice last week-end when Barman said "You are a 36D aren't you?". "In your dreams" said I! It reminded me of the time when Barman bought me some bright blue, very tarty, lacy undies, which were so stiff and starchy that they made my boobs itch incessantly - it was very embarassing, but at least I had an excuse to not wear them again.

There was also something very shiny in the prezzie bag, which on closer inspection turned out to be a pair of dodgy jim jams with pink bows on them? I'm quite certain that if I tried to get into bed with them on, I'd slide right out the other end. Fear not though, I have a cunning plan - I'll give them to Barman's mother next Christmas;-)

Oh well, at least I have plenty of time to practice my thankyou smile, I'll need to draw on all of my advocacy skills for the thankyou speech though.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

6 school buses, a church and a defibrillator, but no County Court

There are circa 150 residents in my village; many of whom live on the outskirts of the village in the farmhouses that scatter the local countryside. There are 6 children who are of school age in the village. We have 2 schools in nearby villages, one is an infant/junior school, the other a secondary school. So why do we have 6 school buses in a morning? The first one comes through the village at 7.30, followed at ten minute intervals by the other 5. What an utter waste of money. The buses do pick up children from neighbouring villages, but nevertheless, they are barely half full on a good day, and on a bad day (when parents drop the kids off on their way to work), there are only a handful of children on the buses. And why the early start; the junior school is only a mile and a half away. Bizarre.

My village has a nice little church. I would have gotten married in it, but the vicar (at that time) said I was a sinner (yes, I'd committed the ultimate sin, shacked up shamelessly with the boyfriend before tying the knot). Perhaps it comes as no surprise that the church has a very small congregation - about 4 or 5 on a busy day, 2 of which stand with their backs to the vicar for the duration of the services, because the vicar is a woman. Bizarre. And of course the church is always in need of funds, its most recent face-lift costing tens of thousands.

The village telephone box is to be purchased for a pound. Some villages make use of old telephone boxes by using them as tourist information booths, or book exchanges, or even mini newspaper kiosks. Ours is to house a defibrillator. The bus shelter is next door to the phone box. Of course the village children wouldn't dream of zapping one another with the defibrillator whilst waiting for the school bus... I'm going to be extra careful not to slip on my arse when taking Bar-Os to the paddock, I don't want an over zealous adolescent zapping me before I've had a chance to pick myself up from the un-gritted (more cut backs) road.

Which brings me onto the closure of the County Court situated in my local town. It's primarily a Magistrates Court, but has the add-on of a County Court. The Magistrates Court will remain, so I can't see how the closure will save any money in the long run. Still, if a phone box can be used as a mini heart attack centre, perhaps the few rooms set aside at the mags for County Court purposes could be utilised as a drop-in centre for DIY hip replacements. I reckon there'd be a call for it, what with all the un-gritted roads and pavements.

I would write a letter to my local MP about it all, but the nearest Post Office is now 5 miles away (more cut-backs) and what with petrol approaching £1.30 a litre, I just can't afford the travel costs to buy a stamp.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Life in the freezer

Christ it's been cold here; it was minus 11 the other morning when I took Bar-Os to the paddock. There's been no let up with the weather and although it hasn't snowed for a few days, the extreme cold has prevented the existing snow from melting and it's become extremely compact and slippery under foot. I have a self-filling water trough in the paddock, but it's been frozen solid for several days, so I have to take hot water down to the paddock in milk cartons to top up the ever freezing, temporary water bucket. For the first few days, Bar-Os was able to nuzzle the snow out the way to find himself some grass, but I'm now having to take hay down to the field, along with a buckets full of chaff and carrots to keep my boy's boiler stoked up.

All of this toing and froing has to be on foot because the lane leading to the paddock is snowed under. I resemble a sumo wrestler waddling through the village, what with all the layers of clothing - long sleeve tee shirt, shaggy fleece top, topped with another shaggy fleece top, topped with a fleece lined jacket, scarf, ski hat, thick gloves and a pair of Caterpillar fleece lined boots (steel toe caps and 'tractor tread' soles - what a sex goddess!). To think, I live in one of the most temperate parts of the Country, allegedly!

Bar-Os is a 'native breed' - made for withstanding the bitter cold, except no-one has told him that and he stands in the middle of the paddock squealing loudly at the sheer woefulness of it all. Wouldn't be quite so bad, but he's turned out in a thick winter rug and downs enough nourishing food to sink a battle ship. And he comes home at night to a stable full of soft, dry bedding and 4* room service. All of my horsey friends are fretting at how their horses have lost weight during the cold spell - Bar-Os is positively barrelesque; he swears this is an optical illusion and that the roundness effect is down to his fur standing on end. I'm not convinced.

My plan was to go Christmas shopping this week, but I've succumbed to the lure of the internet again and optimistically await the delivery of the cyber-prezzies. Somehow my cyber travels took a wrong turn and I have, for some unknown reason, taken delivery of a very nice Karen Millen coat? With my grunge lifestyle, God knows when I'll get a chance to wear it, but I convinced myself that it would be ideal for pupillage interviews (ever the optimist eh) and it was VASTLY reduced in the sale.

My Aunt died a few weeks back and I have spent much of today thinking about her. She moved to America many years ago, as did the rest of my Dad's family, but she would periodically come home to visit. As a kid I thought she was wonderful and glamorous. America was made for my Aunt - she was all boobs, belly and bum, and lived life in the fast lane, on credit cards for most of the time. I remember how expensive international phone calls were years ago, and what a carefully planned operation the Christmas day call to America would be. My parents would be working out what time it would be 'over there' and would time their call so as not to interfere with my Aunt's Christmas dinner. In recent years it has become so much easier and cheaper to keep in touch, and Dad would phone periodically to chat with his big sis. My Aunt had kept a secret from Dad, she had bowel cancer which had later spread to her bones. The last time Dad spoke to her, she had lost her appetite and was too weak to stand, but asked Dad to tell her daughter how to make beef stew and Yorkshire pudding. My Aunt died later that day, before she had a chance to savour some good old British grub. She had been an ardent supporter of native Indian rights and has been buried in a Red Indian reservation called Monkey Island. I'll miss her this Christmas.

Anyway, that's enough woe. I have applied for a couple of jobs. One is a conventional pupillage at the employed Bar, the other is a legal, public sector role with progressive training. The latter sounds an interesting job, with much of the work involving contentious property related litigation and regulatory enforcement. There are a few other pupillages that I shall be applying for in the New Year and I eagerly await filling in those lovely application forms:-(  A while back I applied for a mini-pupillage via email, following the consumption of (far) too much red wine. Much to my surprise and angst, I was successful in gaining a mini and spent the week dreading one of the barristers asking me an email related to question, to which I had no recollection penning whatsoever! Perhaps that is the winning formula and I should do all forthcoming applications post piss-up?

Friday, 26 November 2010

Where has all the money gone?

At the risk of sounding like one of those "in my day" boring old farts, I'm just wondering where the heck all of the money paid to the Government goes.

During my lifetime, the following money grasping methods spring to mind, although I'm sure there are far more:

  • VAT - introduced (I believe) in the 70's, initially at a rate of 10%. We are now facing another VAT rise to 20%. And we now pay VAT on home energy bills too (which used to be exempt from VAT);
  • MIRAS - this mortgage tax relief was done away with several years ago;
  • Free eye tests and free dental check-ups - done away with (apart from those on benefits) some years ago;
  • Having to pay to get money out of the bank - this is a clever little trick, given that most people have their wages paid straight into the bank (which incidentally swells the Bank of England's cashflow no end). I guess that most readers aren't aware that wages used to be paid in cash, in a little brown envelope with the edges of the notes neatly folded over the edge, so that the employee could check his money before opening the envelope;
  • Education - grants for university education are long gone. Ok, so going back 20 years, only 10% of school leavers went to uni, but nevertheless;
  • Parking - used to be free in most small towns. My local town now charges circa £1.20 an hour. There are 60 empty shops in the town centre, the town's Marks and Spencer are losing £1000 a day, due to the re-development of the nearby car-park (sold off for building). The M & S has a sizable food department and people just can't trundle their groceries across town to the car-park. I guess there will be 61 empty shops soon. My local town is just one of hundreds suffering the same hardship;
  • Amenities - my local town has no public toilets, there used to be three sites, but one by one the Council have closed them. A local hospital was sold off for building and the town has no public funded sports facilities. There is one sports centre two miles out of town, which is attached to a school. It was old and inadequate 20 years ago, it's dropping to bits and a joke now. Again, this is just one of many towns that are in rapid decline;
  • Housing - well, what can we say, the Government have washed their hands of it altogether really. This harks back to my recent post about section 106 agreements - most new housing developments have an obligation to provide a percentage of affordable housing (usually 15 - 20% or so). The building of new schools is often burdened on the developers too. Developers are often obliged to contribute sizeable sums to 'local' existing amenities too - ranging from public transport to parks and play areas;
  • Council tax - I don't imagine that there are many people who are better off since the abolition of rates some years ago. The extra revenue must equate to many, many millions;
I'm sure there are hundreds of other charges that equate to vast sums of money going into the Government's coffers, but just what the heck are they doing with all that money?

Friday, 19 November 2010

Work experience review

I've just finished my 2 weeks work experience at the planning consultancy and found it to be a most enjoyable. I'd somewhat naively thought that the role of a planning consultant was merely providing a service for those who can't be bothered to fill in planning applications, or for those who have been refused permission. Little did I know! The role is in fact very law orientated and is extremely complex at times, not least because of the different policies that each Council adopt.

The Consultancy have a number of clients who are large scale developers and the work that goes into preparing applications for large developments is enormous. Several other specialists are required to carry out surveys on various matters such as nature conservation, flooding and transport/traffic issues. By the time an application is ready to go before the Council, thousand's of hours have been put into preparing documentation. A planning refusal means that tens of thousands of pounds have been wasted. It's a costly business!

I have carried out a lot of research this week, and was very frustrated yesterday when I couldn't find any case law to shed light on a planning matter involving window openings. It was all the more embarrassing because the consultant who gave me the work isn't very trustful and tends to do all his own background preparation. The Consultancy's planning database wasn't a patch on Halsbury's, being very difficult to navigate and scant on information.

I went over to a local planning department yesterday to trace the planning history for a building plot that is the focus of a forthcoming application. The work is very dry at times and as a novice to planning, everything has taken me ages to research because I have little in the way of prior knowledge to use as a base to build upon. I had been warned beforehand that sometimes planning officers refuse to leave you alone to peruse the papers, and will sit closely watching each and every move. Thankfully, on this occasion no such close encounter arose and I was left to my own devices in a little grey cubicle, much like a Soho dirty rain mac client scrutinising the wares of a stripper.

Today I read through the case papers for a matter that is up for judicial review in the near future and was quite gleeful to notice that there were quite a few typos/grammatical errors in the statements of case. I hope that the Consultancy will keep to its word and invite me along to watch the case.

There were a couple of members of staff who I felt didn't quite take a shine to me. So I was somewhat surprised when one of them went out and bought some fancy cheeses and wine for my last lunch and the other one gave me a great big hug as I was leaving. Perhaps it was relief that they'd finally gotten rid of me:-)

Last week I felt exhausted each night because I was learning so much during the day, but this week I've had a little more energy. The 3 hours travelling each day was a bind, not least because I missed out on valuable Bar-Os spoiling time. Barman has been bringing him up home from the paddock each day and doing the feeding and mucking out etc. I have ensured that Bar-Os hasn't missed out on his daily massage and grooming routine, which takes me about an hour each evening. Horses are creatures of habit, and when Bar-Os was very poorly, I had to lace jam butties with his regular medication - the medication has ceased, but the jam butties have inexplicably remained. Each evening, last thing, I go out to the stable, give Bar-Os his butties and bed him down for the night. I was so tired on Wednesday night that Barman sent me off to bed early, promising to see to Bar-Os. I was awoken at 1am by an irate horse kicking his stable door, demanding that his slave attend to his needs (another jam butty) IMMEDIATELY. I still haven't been quite forgiven for this wanton equine neglect, but plan on grovelling for forgiveness this weekend.

So, I've learnt much about the nuts and bolts of planning and have gained an awful lot of experience in a short space of time. Time will tell whether the pupillage committees rate this pro bono activity, but I certainly do.

Oh, and I need to diet - it seems that office work doesn't burn off the calories like my day job. I admire Rumpole, but looking like him is taking things a bit too far:-)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Desk OCD and the Office Slob

I work from home quite a lot - my dining room is no longer, having been converted into a sort of office. The administrative side of my work (plenty of it) is a solitary affair and I'm used to doing my own thing. So this week's working in an open plan office, with others, has been a bit strange for me.

I got into work yesterday to find that my desk had been tidied by someone else (no-one owned up to it:-)) and the little calendar that was stuck on 27th October had been moved to the correct date. I would have changed it myself, but the desk belongs to another, who's away on a sabbatical, so I didn't feel comfortable moving anything. I thought that my desk was 'comfortable' - neither too messy, nor too neat, but it seems that it required a tidy up (oh dear). I was quite pleased that the plentiful supply of food crumbs had vanished from around my chair. I don't have time for breakfast in a morning, what with taking Bar-Os to the field and semi mucking out his stable, getting changed twice (transformation from a make-upless, 3 jumpered tramp to respectable, office apparelled lady), so tend to spend the day munching on a plentiful supply of butties and anything else I can get my hands on. I eat loads compared to the others, which is a bit shameful seeing as I'm the only female and about half the size of the others, but I suppose I burn off loads of calories what with my country-girl lifestyle. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it *oink*.

The 3 bosses were out of the office attending a business meeting yesterday. One of the bosses it seems has desk OCD - everything has to be at a PERFECT right angle, PARTICULARLY THE DESK LAMP. I am informed that a whole morning's work can be interrupted by the constant tiny shifting of THE DESK LAMP. So, a bit of 'while the cat's away' ensued and the boss' desk was re-arranged, with everything moved a few inches and the previously perfectly stacked documents shuffled about a bit. I expect said boss' face will resemble that of Edvard Munch's, The Scream, when he sees his desk first thing Monday morning:-) And no, it wasn't me who did the re-arranging.

I've learnt loads in my first week and am coming to realise that planning is a very complex issue, not least because each District Council has its own policies, which need to be scrutinised to ensure that planning applications satisfy those policies. I am currently working on a planning permission refusal, which dates back a few years. The client is thinking of re-submitting an application and my job is to compare the Planning Authority's policy from a few years back to current policy. I should have made greater progress, but by 3pm yesterday afternoon my brain had gone on strike and I couldn't concentrate on the finite details of the comparative policies. Neh mind, hopefully by Monday morning I shall be revitalised?

Next week I shall be drafting a S.106 agreement for a forthcoming planning application and have my ICSL Drafting manual at the ready. I feel very rusty on all things written and hope that it will all come back to me once I get cracking. It's for a fairly large project, so I hope not to make a complete arse of myself.

The firm have been anxiously awaiting a judicial review decision which came out on Wednesday. The litigation arose from the scrapping of Regional Spatial Strategies, which provide the blueprint for housing development and policy within Districts. Planning consultancy firms rely on these regional planning frameworks to support their applications for developments, so their revocation was somewhat worrying, particularly for major developments which have been months or years in the planning process. In the absence of reliance upon Regional Spatial Strategies, the power to grant or deny planning permission would have rested solely with the local councils.

So far I'm enjoying the work, but I do miss my own work too. I hadn't realised just how much I combine my day job with doing things around the house. Barman, who has been doing my job this week, hasn't quite gotten the knack, in fact he's done bugger-all. The wash basket has gone from 'could do with putting a load of washing in', to rival that of Widow Twankey's parlour. The house is a tip. There appears to have been no progress whatsoever on any paperwork and a 262 page document which I printed off last weekend hasn't been posted off, nor has the all important invoice been sent off. It would appear that we now work pro bono! There's another 200 page document which should have been completed Thursday or Friday, which seems to be still awaiting any attention whatsoever. We've run out of printer paper and ink too. The best of it is, Barman is completely oblivious to all of this 'I've done bugger-allness' and has gone off to watch some footy with a mate. Perhaps as well, as I could secretly throttle him. No prizes for guessing what my weekend will entail.

First things first though, I must re-arrange my desk lamp:-)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


Yesterday I started my fortnight of work experience at the Planning Consultancy. I got an overview of their work in the morning and also sat in on a meeting with two consultants and two engineers, who are to prepare detailed information regarding traffic control for a forthcoming planning application. I was given a brief introduction into S.106 applications (which I'd never heard of before) and read through a fairly hefty and somewhat tedious document on 'obligations'. I'll get shot for seeing it this way, but the long and the short of it is: if you have a planning application that's a bit dodgy, offer the Council a bung and the job's a good un. Of course it's all far more formal and transparent than that, but as a newcomer to planning law, it made me feel quite uncomfortable that in certain situations a controversial planning application can be eased along the process by the offer of certain pecuniary enticements. What a cynical old bag I am:-)

In the afternoon I did some reading into a matter that the Consultancy had taken on regarding a topic close to my heart - garden extensions. I have been carrying out research on this topic for some time and was very pleased to discover that my work to date is correct.

I also looked at some model S.106 agreements. The style of drafting used is very different to that taught during BVC and the complete absence of any punctuation, save for fullstops, makes the drafts difficult to follow. I read through some background information for an appeal against an enforcement notice that the Consultancy are dealing with. Later this week I shall be drafting part of the appeal and have been searching databases for policy that supports my section of the appeal (it's thin on the ground)! I came across a case that I'd encountered before on my BVC travels, but alas, on closer inspection it doesn't help me out.

I was rather hoping to impress the Planners with my research skills, but Council planning databases are not the easiest or quickest things to research, particularly when looking for historic applications. I imagine the Planners saying "nice enough woman, but she's a bit, you know, slooooow".

The Managing Director of the firm is very knowledgeable on planning law and also has a very firm grasp of public law/judicial review and procedure. He gave me a lift into work yesterday and the journey went very quickly due to the chatter about law (not sure it went quite so quickly for him:-)). The firm have a forthcoming judicial review hearing and I have been invited along to give submissions on behalf of the appellant watch.

I was quite concerned that my work experience with the Consultancy wouldn't give me much exposure to planning law, but the job is (thankfully) very heavy on law, particularly policy. Due to the vast nature of property law in general, there's always something new to learn about, even for those who have been in planning for many years. The downside of the work is that it can be very tedious and dry, but I had rather expected as much.

Keen to impress, I have brought some work home with me and have the job of trying to figure out how many houses have been built in a town over the last 10 years. Not the easiest task when the information is contained in a mish mash of Council documentation and statistics.

Well, they say that a change is as good as a rest, and I'm pleased to say that I fully agree with that adage. I've learnt such a lot in the 2 days that I've been with the firm and feel that the experience will add far more to my pupillage applications than a mere box ticking exercise.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


There is a saying that horses were born to make fools of men. I think that saying can be extended to horse vets too. Bar-Os has recently finished a course of anti-biotics for a bladder infection. Being a law student and all that (bit of an anorak when it comes to research), I have looked into Cauda Equina Syndrome and the associated paralysis that it causes. A common side effect is bladder weakness, with inability to empty the bladder fully, which leads to recurrent cystitis. I have a tube of dip-sticks to test Bar-Os’ urine for infection; they’re quite easy to use – dip one of em in pee, wait a bit, then compare the coloured squares to those on the side of the tube. On Friday I tested Bar-Os’ pee and it showed blood in the urine. I wasn’t exactly surprised as his urine was a very dark colour. I tested it again on Monday and it was still the same, so I rang and left a message for the vet.

Vet rang back whilst I was out and left a very condescending message on my answer-phone, explaining that the dip-sticks are very difficult to ‘read’ and that I would need to take a pee sample in. I should at this point explain that a normal reading on said dip-stick for no blood in urine is pale yellow. Bar-Os’ reading was top-end of the scale, showing a very clear, unequivocal dark green square. Vet also explained that the detailed urine analysis carried out one month ago showed no infection (in other words, I’m clearly a dip-stick who can’t read squares, or have Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy).

Anyway, when I test Bar-Os' urine at home, it’s not too difficult because he’s a bit dribbly and I only need a drop to wet the dip-stick. Vet however, wants a ‘proper’ urine sample taken in for him to dip-stick. Not too bad thought I, Bar-Os tends to pee when I first put him in the stable (nice clean bed, just begging to be urinated on). So, there I stood in the stable, in my anorak, with high viz (I have to lead him home on the road at dusk), complete with cheerful pom-pom hat and a plastic jug. I stood there for an hour, ever hopeful, pretending to be disinterested in Bar-Os' peeing apparatus. Bar-Os just kept eyeing me suspiciously. Can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday thought I (yes, that’s right, I’m 28 (again!)). The quest was fruitless, but undeterred I shall try again this evening.

Talking of being considered an idiot. I went to the Parish Council meeting on Monday. It was packed – there were 4 members of the public present. There I sat, patiently waiting for the ‘any other matters’ bit. Mr Pompous was in full swing. Resplendent in his (polyester) pin striped suit, he waxed lyrical about important matters such as the purchase of the village telephone box (£1), the Tidy Village Competition (we lost:-)), and the piece de resistance, the pot hole in the road on the outskirts of the village. It was at this point that Mr Pompous (who has a VERY posh accent) waved his arm theatrically at his vast audience and referred to us as ‘peasants’.

I should perhaps point out that Mr Pompous has form as long as your arm. He lives in a house which he says has a long sweeping drive, flagged with willow trees, a drawing room, a nursery, a morning room, as well as a snug and a lounge. Funny thing is, from the road (about 10ft away), it looks just like the other 2 bed bungalows that neighbour his property. Must be the bloody Tardis;-)

Mr Pompous just lerves the American that has purchased the Hall, so wasn’t too pleased when I brought up the nuisance caused by the fireworks. “No, you’re wrong, they’re not fireworks from the Hall, they’re from the Lodge” he said. I pointed out (through gritted teeth), that the Lodge is over a mile away, and the fireworks in question explode over the top of my house. Nope, he wouldn’t have it. Another ‘peasant’ said that she had an email from the American confirming the fireworks provenance. Mr Pompous then changed tack, saying that it wasn’t a matter for the Parish Council. “Well” said another ‘peasant’, “you were the ones that entered into the agreement with the American allowing 6 – 8 displays per year”. The childish response was that the fireworks are the ‘quiet’ ones that cause no noise and he knew that because he had never heard them.

I pointed out that there was a compromise to be had out of this – the Hall stands in substantial grounds with a lake, ideal as a firework backdrop, which is situated well away from the residential part of the village. Mr Pompous snorted that if I thought I could do anything, I’d better think again because Environmental Health wouldn’t entertain my complaint. Watch this effing space, thought I, whilst smiling at him serenely, in a village peasant sort of way.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

How to make myself attractive to chambers?

I thought that my pro bono efforts were ok, pretty good in fact. Two years in crime related pro bono, one in civil. But having failed to secure a pupillage this year, I must re-invent myself into something more attractive to chambers. To this end I'm going to work for a planning consultancy for a few weeks. They are a respected firm that have taken on some diverse projects over the years, some of them quite controversial. I know the MD from many years ago when he started the firm and sent him an email pleading for some help. Surprisingly he contacted me the following day with an offer (I think luck had something to play in this because they are about to lose a graduate member of staff, who is off on a sabatical).

It will be nice to have a change of scenery and routine for a while and I'm hoping to learn something of the nuts and bolts of planning. The MD is a poacher turned gamekeeper, having worked as a senior planning officer before setting up his own business many years ago. He's a nice chap too and has offered to drive me into work for the first day, so that I can suss out the best route. I just hope that my claims of making a fabulous cup of coffee weren't taken too seriously, or I could be out on my ear by the end of the first day.

So, if that lot fails, it's a case of investing in some industrial strength botox, industrial strength big (grab your flab and tuck it in) pants and a boob job.

Bar-Os had a visit from an equine physiotherapist yesterday. She started by massaging his neck and back - his response would rival that of Meg Ryan from THAT scene in When Harry Met Sally. However, his evident 'oh my God, that is sooooo good baby, do it summore' was rudely interupted when she started inflicting slaps. The startled look on his face set me off in a fit of giggles. S & M doesn't float my boy's boat it seems. No pain, no gain I guess?

Have a good weekend - ttfn.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

An explanation is required

Bar-Os' paddock is on the outskirts of the village, tucked away down a lane that is lined with hawthorn. It's quite peaceful down the lane and no-one walks there much. So, there I was, in the paddock 'sorting out' Bar-Os. I usually take him into the field shelter, but as he was settled by the fence, talking to the mare in the adjacent field, I decided not to disturb him. A bucket full of freshly 'picked' manure later, I turned to take said manure to the muck heap, when I noticed Raspberry Ripples walking UP the lane with her dog. So, that meant that she must have walked DOWN the lane a few moments earlier.

Oh dear thought I, an explanation is required. I sauntered over to the gate and casually mentioned that Bar-Os was poorly. "Aye" said Raspberry Ripples, "I saw you with your hand up his bum".

There's more...

The lane also has a slight bend in it, just before Bar-Os' paddock, which means that in Summertime, when the hedge is in full leaf, I can't see Bar-Os until I'm almost at his field. To let him know that I'm on my way down the lane I usually shout various terms of endearment to him. He whickers in return and (usually) makes his way to the gate to be brought home for the night. Anyway, on this particular occasion I shouted "Now then, you gorgeous big chap, you coming to bed?". At this point in time I was somewhat surprised to notice a man appearing from around the bend about 10 metres away. But the man was even more surprised than me, I could tell by the terrified look on his face. An explanation is required thought I. "I was talking to my horse" said I. Man looked even more worried and scuttled up the lane pronto. Funnily enough, I haven't seen him since.

On a more tasteful note, I'm missing law. I know, it's a sad confession, but having gotten sick of studying towards the end of BVC, two months or so on I'm missing my legal studies. Not that I'd want to go back to studying that is, but a pupillage would be an ideal antidote. Day job is busy, but I'm bored and restless and yearn to put my studies to good use.

The hotel at the back of my house had another very noisy firework display last weekend and to add insult to injury, they also set about burning a load of rubbish at the back of my house last Sunday. I got back home to discover my upstairs rooms full of smoke. Needless to say, they are now pissing me off upsetting me, and I intend to take matters further. The Environmental Health people have been a waste of time, "Fireworks don't constitute a statutory noise nuisance". My letter of response has, to date, been ignored, but I shall keep badgering them to do something. This is all avoidable, after all, the hotel stands in about 20 acres, much of the land is away from the village, so the fireworks could be set off away from the residential area. But worry not, the Village idjuts/Busybodies Parish Council are taking an interest and are having a meeting in November. Bet that's put the fear of God into the hoteliers;-)

It's more exciting than the Archers innit!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Not a wheelie bin, not a cat, but nearly

I am an eternal optimist and still have a scout around the paddock in the hope that Bar-Os has managed to right himself and is back to normal in the bum department. I do find the odd dropping or two and thought I'd spotted one in the field shelter. As I went with bucket and trowel to scoop up said dropping, I was somewhat startled by the fact that it moved! Upon closer inspection, said dropping was in fact a rather large hedgehog. As it was time to take Bar-Os home for the evening, I left the hedgehog where I'd found him, knowing that Bar-Os wouldn't accidentally tread on him.

The next day I found the same large hedgehog upside down in the hay partition of the field shelter and told Barman that it must have been poorly and had obviously crawled into the field shelter to die. Barman set about digging a hole in the paddock to bury the poor thing. He scooped up the corpse and put it next to the place where he was digging. Having now dug a decent sized, deep hole in which to place the hedgehog, Barman scooped the hedgehog onto the shovel, ready for the burial. Hedgehog wriggled his toes!

It would appear that the hedgehog had tried to climb onto a bale of hay, fell over backwards, got stuck and played dead when it heard us coming.


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Seemed like a good idea...

Best friend is getting married next week. The wedding has been organised on a shoe-string, so BF has set about being 'creative'. All the guests have to wear fancy dress, the theme being Hollywood movies. So far there are several Marilyn Monroe's, a Clint Eastwood, a Mary Poppins and muggins here is thinking of being Uma Thurman as she appeared in Pulp Fiction, with Barman as Vincent Vega/John Travolta.

It gets worse...

BF decided that the ladies are to do a dance routine. Ten of her favourite songs (all cheesy). I've just about cracked the first bit, but with nine left to master I'm in a panic, not least because my knees are creaking and my back aches:-) The Thriller section looks cool, but things go downhill fast and the Armand Van Helden section looks like something out of a very low budget porno. And as for the Footloose bit, it's a pitiful sight.

On a different note, I didn't hear back from the hoteliers regarding the fireworks, so following a very noisy firework display on Saturday night, I got in touch with Environmental Health. My previous dealings with the 'back of beyond' local authority haven't been at all worthwhile, so I fully expected a battle. I was pleasantly surprised! Having explained that Bar-Os has been poorly on several occasions and that the fireworks are but a stone's throw away from his stable and are terrifying him, the lady on the end of the phone said that a letter would be sent to the hotel forthwith and if things haven't improved in 28 days, I should get back in touch with the reference number provided and they will take matters further. I'm not holding my breath, but there's a glimmer of hope.

My parents haven't been so lucky with the local authority. Following a long running saga with the LA and a neighbour, over a previously unauthorised change of use of agricultural land to garden, the LA have granted retrospective planning consent, despite the neighbour's garden extension contravening much, if not all, of the region's policy on garden extensions. It looks as though the matter should have gone before the Planning Committee, but it didn't and was granted under delegated Planning Officer powers. As far as I know, the only avenue open to my parents is Judicial Review, and they just don't want the hassle and expense involved in the JR process. How frustrated I feel. Having spent 8 years studying law, there's nothing much I can do to help them. And even more annoying is the fact that some snotty woman at the LA wrote and told my parents that my carefully drafted letter was incorrect and Halsbury's Laws definition of 'agricultural land' was wrong.

Last Sunday I took Bar-Os on another trespassing expedition across a particularly large stubble field, got back home early evening, washed him down and sat in the garden supping coffee. Bar-Os was busy 'mowing' the garden (I know, but it's quite normal in the country, honest), when I saw a plume of thick, jet black smoke just over the hotel. There is a God thought I, then realised that the smoke was coming from further away, from the direction of my paddock! Barman went to investigate, only to find the Fire Brigade, many cars and several locals in situ. The locals had gone to rescue Bar-Os, bless em, not realising that he was munching away on my lawn (if you can call it that!), oblivious to all the fuss.

The owner of the field next to mine had decided to set fire to a couple of caravans which they used to use for storage. Following an early morning fright, when neighbour discovered half a dozen hungover teenagers squatting in one of the caravans, it was decided that the best thing to do was to get rid of them (the caravans that is:-)). Tell you what, looking at the large blackened area of grass where the fire took place, I reckon my neighbours got more than they bargained for when they struck the match.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Fraudulent and deaf, but chuffed!

Well, what can I say! Winner of the Best Design Blawggie, yay! Of course the brilliance and accolade is all mine, mine, mine Andro's, who gave Barmaid a much needed face lift earlier this year. Ta Andro, any chance you can also fix it for me to get a pupillage? Oh well, it was worth asking anyway:-)

Been a bit busy this week and haven't seen much news. Barman was talking to me and said "Have you heard the news about that vicar who's gonna burn a thousand grans this weekend?"
"No" said I, wondering where a vicar would find a thousand grans at such short notice; particularly ones willing to be burnt. It was only when I was listening to the radio earlier today that I realised I'd mis-heard Barman.

Thanks to everyone who voted for my blog, it's cheered me up no end. Have a good weekend.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

I don't very think so!

I'm busy over the next few weeks and will be working some funny hours, which has led to a dilemma. Big Boy's Bum. As you may have read in my previous posts, Bar-Os has partial paralysis of his rear end, so needs help in that department - help several times a day as it happens, because horses go about 8 - 12 times a day. Barman, who is secretly looking for a scive off work, has volunteered to 'do' Big Boy's Bum.

Yesterday got off to a poor start and I wasn't quite sure whether Barman was going to faint or not, and that was before we'd even got started! So today he decided to have another go.

Some of my favourite books are the James Herrriot vet stories, one of them is called If Only They Could Talk. Well let me tell you, the look on Bar-Os' face as Barman approached with sleeve rolled up, orange gloved and gelled up to the elbow, said it all -'I don't very think so buster'. There was much huffing and puffing on Barman's part, lots of soothing words from me (to Bar-Os of course:-)) and very little progress! Eventually I took over the reins, so to speak, more out of pity than anything else. I have a funny feeling that I won't be hanging up the lubrication gel just yet. Men eh!

In accordance with the vets advice, I have continued riding Bar-Os and he's in fine form, so much so that I mis-laid the brakes the other day. The fields are mostly clear of crops now and some of them haven't been ploughed yet, so I have been busy trespassing on the stubble fields and exploring new locations. A bit of new territory always gives Bar-Os a spring in his step and it's nice to see him enjoying himself. The faster exercise seems to help in the bum department too, as he's managing to go to the loo himself a few times a day.

So, that's enough about rectums! I haven't got a pupillage yet, but have a couple of applications outstanding. One is provincial and local, the other in London, both are entirely different to one another, but each look interesting. Having gotten through the Situational Judgement Test with the GLS, I went onto fail the following psychometric test thingy. It's obviously not my thing, as I failed the same type of test last year. I feel very thick!

I now have to sort out an email (which I've been meaning to do all week) to the hotel at the back of my house. The hotel featured on one of those trouble-shooting programmes last year and is owned by a pair of clueless, absentee, Americans. Having spent over £6m on the place, it stands mostly empty. The health spa is unfinished, the restaurant is unfinished, the kitchen is no larger than a decent domestic one, yet is meant to be able to cater for hundreds? The only activities which take place are weddings and parties, which are run by outside caterers and which brings me to the email. In their wisdom, the hoteliers offer firework displays, the 'industrial' ones that are loud, very loud, and are right at the back of Bar-Os' stable. Poor lad is terrified every weekend, refuses to eat or drink and then gets colic. I've had 2 weekend vet visits due to the said fireworks and am just about fed up with it all, not least the hefty bills that accompany the vet visits. So, I'm getting myself psyched up to rattle off a snotty letter and just hope that something will be done about it. A few other villagers with pets are also complaining, so I'm not alone in my plight, but it's very annoying that people can be so thoughtless about these things and have to be told time and again... I did stand and watch some Chinese lanterns going over, from the hotel, a few weeks back when the ground was dry and full of crops. I can't imagine that the local farmers will take lightly to those and I did notice one or two lanterns burning up and falling into the nearby fields. I can see an opening here, a Chinese lantern and firework litigation specialist, mm, bet there aren't many of those around!

Anyway, that's enough moaning from me, I'm going to clean the house have a kip and go for a hack later. What a gorgeous day:-)

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Pupillage Fairy and (non) Flying Pigs

As mentioned in my previous post, Bar-Os is poorly. His digestive system isn't working as well as it should and he's had a few bouts of mild colic. He's not really one to suffer in silence and stamps his feet if he needs 'the slave' (me) to attend - this has meant that I've had quite a few disturbed nights. On Wednesday night, I awoke at 1am to hear him stamping, did a quick check and went back to bed. At 4 am he was stamping his feet again, so I went back out, only to find that he was staring out of his window looking quite worried. I assumed that a local cat had startled him and thought nothing more of it. I gave him a jam butty laced with 'bute' pain-killer just in case he had a mild colic and crawled back to bed.

The next evening I was very tired. I thought I heard squealing at the back of Bar-Os' stable, but put it down to tiredness and an over active imagination on my part. On Friday, I went to get Bar-Os in from the paddock and lo and behold, there were 2 pigs munching away on a neighbours lawn. There was no-one else in sight and the pigs were making their way towards the road, so I decided to do the decent thing and try to get them to safety. Mmm, it would appear that pigs have a mind of their own and don't take lightly to being ushered around. Cars were passing by and the occupants were looking both bewildered and amused as I smiled sheepishly and shrugged my shoulders at the mayhem the porkies were causing. One driver scowled meanly at me and pursed his lips. "It's not my bloody fault; they're not mine" I said. Eventually the piggies made their way up a drive towards a crab apple tree, where they happily munched their way through the windfalls, pausing only to have a scrap amongst themselves over the spoils on offer. To be honest, I was quite relieved to discover that I wasn't going mad when I thought I'd heard squealing, and that the pigs had been going awol for several days on the trot (or should that be trotter). Poor Bar-Os must have woken from his slumber to see piggies parading past his stable and had stamped his feet for the slave to make them go away.

To date, I haven't managed to get a pupillage, but have sent off a few non-olpas applications; one to a chambers where I've recently done a mini-pupillage - time will tell whether they liked me or not. I have also gotten through to a second round on-line process for another pupillage and did an on-line test earlier today. Goodness me, 6 years of LLB, 2 years of BVC, and we still have to do tests to see if we are really fik or not. I'm entered for the 2012 Olympic Games for the Jumping Through Hoops competition. I must admit that when I finished BVC I was sick of the sight of law, but my interest in it has re-emerged and I really do want a pupillage; along with several thousand others unfortunately!

Day job is busy, which is just as well, as I seem to be keeping the vet in the style to which he has become accustomed. No matter how well I try to plan my finances, it always seems to be the case that the unexpected empties my bank account. Oh well, the weather has been lovely and I've much to be grateful for.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Sad Times

Oh well, I might as well tell you - Bar-Os is very ill.

He hasn't been 'right' for some time and I've made excuses not to ride him because I just felt that there was something that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Family members told me that I was worrying over nothing - his coat was shiny, his eyes bright, good appetite, no weight loss, no obvious signs of pain... But he was a little too well behaved for my liking, like he couldn't be quite bothered to be his usual cheeky self. Of course the warm weather seemed a likely cause of his laid back attitude and the flies have been awful this year...

He was well behaved with the farrier and there was no sign of the usual (effortless on Bar-Os' part) tug of war with the arrogant apprentice, who somehow thinks he's stronger than a horses back leg!

Anyway, following his breakfast last Thursday he went down with colic. I called the vet out and she tentatively diagnosed Cauda Equina Syndrome - it was something that she'd read about in the text books, but had never seen for herself. 2 more vets looked him over and it is more or less confirmed that he has CES. The second vet said that he'd seen 2 cases during his many years in practice, both fatal. The third vet seemed slightly more optimistic, but by no means certain that it won't get worse. The disease seems to often be caused by some other illness or infection and it kinda kicks in as an aftershock - it's a bit like M.E. I suppose, but causes paralysis of the 'rear end', along with lethargy. Spinal injury can also cause CES, but he's had no tumbles and the vet couldn't find any sore spots along his back. His blood count shows no raised white cell count, but he has a mild anaemia.

At the moment the paralysis hasn't spread to his back legs, but he has a limp tail, a weak bladder and can't pooh by himself (I have a plentiful supply of shoulder length disposable gloves and lubrication gel - I'll leave you to guess the rest). In order to save his dignity, we have told all of his equine friends that as a (putative) barrister's horse, he's far too posh to push.

Anyways, I'm sorry that this post couldn't be more entertaining, but it feels quite cathartic to share the worry.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Fly and Other Annoying Things

Today I have paperwork to catch up on, so I'm chained to the desk, which is all very well except a fly keeps buzzing around my face and landing on me. Grrrrrrrrrr.

Bar-Os had company last night, a racing pigeon nestled on his window sill and remained there for several hours resting. The two seemed to get along just fine. Barman decided that pigeon needed a drink, so took it a BUCKET of water, accompanied by a massive bowl full of wild bird seed. Pigeon glared at Barman and ignored his hospitality.

BVC seems ages ago. Most of what I learnt is forgotten. I thought this was an age thing, but all of my group share the same amnesia and even the most simple procedural matters are a mystery (Part Thirtywhat?).

As for pupillage, well, after a promising start, matters have taken a nose-dive and I am currently seeking Cilla's help for the Bar, Blind Date Competition:

"No, the fact that you can wheelbarrow 39 horse droppings across the paddock to the muck heap without fainting once will NOT impress Chambers, and will NOT show that you have the necessary drive and determination to succeed at the Bar".
Back to the drawing board on that bit of the form then?

"No, the fact that you won at poker and made Barman stand on the wall outside your house singing All Things Bright and Beautiful at FULL BLAST will NOT demonstrate your killer negotiation skills"
Back to the drawing board on that bit of the form then? (It was really funny though).

"No, no, no, NO, the fact that you are known to use double or even treble expletives, to express emotion does NOT demonstrate exceptional advocacy skills".
Back to the *$^£@?&!  %&*!!* drawing board on that bit of the form then?

On the plus side, my day-job is looking very busy for August through to October, which is just as well seeing as BVC drained my finances.

On a slightly dodgy note, I have taken somehow to looking at the local(ish) property auction listings and have somehow been formulating figures as to:
a) how I can afford to buy a property at auction, to do-up, when I'm skint;
b) how I can manage to turn a profit on said property when the market is well and truly *&%$£!.

p.s. Don't tell Barman about the last bit, he'll have a hissy fit.
p.p.s. Don't tell bank or anyone about the last bit, they'll have a hissy fit.


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Twas the night before...

...Christmas BVC results, and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse (well, except for Barman who's watching the footy).
The lucky mascots were hung by the pc with care,
In hope that the pupillage fairy would soon be there.

Bar-Os was nestled all snug in his bed,
Whilst visions of being a 'barrister's ors' danced in his head.
And Barmaid in her kerchief and Barman in his cap (well, we are yokels),

Had just settled down for a Summertime nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
Barmaid sprang from her bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window, she flew like a flash,
Tore open the IKEA curtains and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen dew,
Gave a lustre like diamonds, such a beautiful hue.
When, what to her wondering eyes should appear,

Not the pupillage fairy, but hope, consternation, anticipation and fear.

Monday, 24 May 2010

There it was gone

That’s it then. I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet.

Three lots of results to wait for – one in June, two in July.

After the Advanced Crime exam, I had a walk up to Ede and Ravenscroft and looked in the window. I will need to buy a shirt and bands for Call, but I’m not going to tempt fate and purchase them just yet. No harm in looking though.
The emotions were running a little high last week and on the train back home best friend rang and I’m ashamed to say that I sobbed. Not really sure why, but probably something to do with being tired. It was very embarrassing and I sat dabbing away tears and pretending to sneeze so that it looked like I had hay fever – I don’t think anyone on the crowded 5.30 was fooled!

Best wishes to everyone who has finished, or is about to finish BVC.
I wonder if we'll get any pupillage interviews?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

7 days and counting

I can't quite believe it. Just one more week and that's it! I have a busy week ahead of me preparing for the Advanced Criminal Litigation exam.

There is a pot of paint at the ready for next week, when I might just get around to painting the front door, which was sanded down last Autumn, but somehow never got finished. I hope that front doors don't have feelings, as every time I look at it I mutter "bloody mess". I'm sure if front door could speak, it would utter something quite similar in return:-)

There's also a stack of folders in the corner of the dining room that need sorting out - BVC makes for a lot of paperwork. I think a bigger bookcase is required.

Details for Call arrived a few days ago, so I have to sort out gown hire etc. I must also get around to doing some more dining!

I took Bar-Os out for a ride today. When I brought him in from the paddock he had a big insect bite on his belly, so I couldn't put the saddle on him because the girth would have rubbed against the bite. I had to ride bareback and by the time I'd finished, my legs ached so much that I struggled to dismount. I think the Spring grass has expanded his waistline a tad! Either that or I'm getting old!

Good luck to everyone on their final push towards the finishing line. I think we all deserve a pat on the back, or perhaps some new shoes.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

The Finishing Line(ish)

I'm on the last lot of SGS homework for BVC and it's taking ages. I should be far further on, but my brain has slowed down, somewhat prematurely, to a snail's pace.

This coming weekend is the last BVC study weekend, but I shall have to go back to 'school' towards the end of May for the Options exams. I'm hoping that my work rate speeds up a little for the last fortnight otherwise I shall be struggling.

I have mixed feelings about finishing BVC. On the one hand I'm more than ready for a break from study, on the other, I shall miss the friends that I've made during BVC and the camaraderie that exists within my group. Although I have mentioned this before, I cannot stress how lucky I've been to be part of a nice group. Various tutors along the way have said how nice my group was, but I took it all with a pinch of salt until witnessing at first hand the bitchiness and childish antics of some other groups. I don't suppose such behaviour has much effect on the written skills performance of a student, since most of it is completed away from class, but I'm almost certain that the effect on the oral skills could be quite dramatic. It's not that myself (and my group) haven't laughed at the faux pas of others, but the laughter is shared and open and without malice.

On a similar note, I had expected a good many of the barristers and judges that I have met during extra curricular activities to live up to the steriotypical Bar persona of arrogance and coldness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, quite a few of the barristers have chips on their shoulders, but that goes with the territory, and it is all very much tongue in cheek. Once the ice has been quickly broken, I have been met with kindness, patience, understanding and warmth.

Post BVC, I have a few irons in the fire that may come to something, or may not. Time will tell? For now I want to complete my studies and catch up on some work and play (and decorating!). A proper Summer would be nice, with that big yellow thing in the sky smiling down, but maybe that's asking for too much. Oh, and I'd also like a pupillage please.

Not too much too ask, is it? :-)

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Good Luck

Good Luck to all who are awaiting their BVC exam results today:-)

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Pupillage Applications

Well, I've done 7 of em so far, 5 more OLPAS to go, plus the non-OLPAS applications.

I've set out my application details differently this year and eagerly await Chambers falling over themselves to invite me to interview (well, a girl can always dream:-)).

This month's homework is very much on the back burner and I haven't even looked at it yet - not even a little peep! My day job's been busy and what with the above applications, there's been no time for BVC. Just as well this is the last month.

So, I've got 4 Options classes to prepare for (2 classes for each Option) and then I have just 2 weeks to prepare for the final 2 exams. And then that's it!

What comes after that little lot? Your guess is as good as mine at the moment. My day job needs some tlc, as does the house, the garden, Barman, friends, relatives, paperwork...

And how embarassing for poor Bar-Os! He's told all of his mates down the field that he's 'a barrister's ors' in a VERY LOUD voice, DAILY, and now he may have to capitulate on his somewhat premature statement of (non) fact. Suppose we could always emigrate and save the poor lad the shame of it all. Either that, or I take to walking him down to the paddock in a wig and gown each morning, just to keep up the pretence for a while longer:-)

The Olpasiformia Nervosa has not yet re-appeared and I feel strangely unconcerned about the whole pupillage thing this time around. Last year I got a little bit OTT with it all, not least because of the lovely Midlands Chambers that rejected me a total of 38 times. Needless to say, I gave them a miss this year:-) My view this time is that I've done my best, so what's meant to be will be.

Having had a very busy time last Summer, I didn't really get a break. I had a lot of catching up to do on my day job, plus I made an early start on Civil and Criminal Litigation, so that I could manage my workload a bit better. In retrospect, I should have taken a couple of weeks off from both work and study, because by the time September came, I was washed out. Anyway, I kept myself going on a diet of self-pity, coffee and chocolate and here I am, half a stone heavier and nearly at the end of BVC.

Just one question remains. What am I going to do when I grow up?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010


As you well know bloggers, I am extremely smitten with Bar-Os and like nothing more than a leisurely afternoon riding about the local highways, by-ways and bridleways, particularly when the weather is nice.

There is a particular ride that I am only able to do at certain times of year, due to the nature of the landscape. The ride starts out along a village lane, then across a farm track and down the side of a wood, before entering the side of a field for a few hundred metres and then comes the tricky bit. There is a grass track that runs between 2 hedgerows, but the track is only a couple of metres wide and is very boggy when there has been rain (hence I’m only able to ride along the track in good weather).

Anyway, the narrow track eventually opens out at the base of a very steep hill, which is flanked either side by trees that overhang the hill, giving it an enchanted forest kind of look. The hill path is nothing more than a dirt track, with the odd bit of rubble laid down to help with grip. Due to the extreme gradient, no-one ventures along there much because it’s very difficult to walk down (due to the slippery surface) and even more difficult to walk up because it’s just so steep. It is very peaceful and very beautiful.

Once you get to the top of the hill, there is a little narrow lane that is one of the most exclusive addresses in the county. There are only 4 houses along there, each worth double the amount of what a similar house anywhere else locally would fetch, but the village itself is extremely quaint and pretty, hence the high price tags.

I love riding down the lane because it gives me a chance to be extremely nosey. I have a bird’s eye view into the gardens and the houses beyond, which, needless to say, are all immaculately kept and very salubrious. One of the houses is substantially bigger than the rest and is owned by a barrister – obviously a very successful one at that.

So, anyway, I’m approaching the big barrister’s house, having a good old look over the wall at the topiary bushes and perfectly raked gravel driveway when I see the barrister wandering down the driveway. He comes to a stop at the edge of his drive and is looking to see where the clip-clop of hooves is coming from.

Upon approach to the barrister and being an amenable sort, I say to said barrister “Nice day”.

Barrister replies, “Nice arse”.

“Oh!” said I, somewhat taken aback by his somewhat forthright comment (but secretly triumphant that my obviously overwhelming sex appeal had driven him to say what was exactly on his mind).

Bar-Os and I sauntered past and we were now approaching the slippery road that leads off the lane, so I had to concentrate really hard on looking out and listening for traffic and my mind left the brief encounter that I had just had with the posh barrister.

Some time later, I was sat having a coffee and my mind returned to the conversation and there was something just not quite right. You see when the barrister said “nice arse” he wasn’t looking directly at me, but more at Bar-Os. Surely he wasn’t making a pass at Bar-Os? I mean, he is gorgeous and all that, but I don’t think for one minute he’d fall for a cheap one liner like that (unlike his mother, unless of course there was a packet of mints involved in the foreplay in which case he’s anybody’s).

The penny dropped a few minutes later – posh barrister – posh accent – “nice horse” is what he’d said.

Silly arse me!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Portal

I'm not exactly brimming over with enthusiasm at the prospect of pupillage applications, but I have made a start and filled in the first few bits of the PP form. Maybe this evening I'll have another stab at it and fill in a bit more. How ridiculous I feel, having submitted countless essays during LLB, many Opinions and other odds and sods during BVC, I still find myself at a loss for words when it comes to writing about myself. The less is more ethos with regard to PP applications is a blessing!

As yet, I haven't made a proper start on the Options homework, but intend to make some progress this week. ASBO's and Road Traffic Offences are this months topics for Advanced Criminal Litigation. There is still another 3 weeks or so to wait for the 5 exam results for Negotiation, Advocacy 2 & 3, Opinion Writing and Drafting and as always, the results are playing on my mind.

The BVC tidying up process continues and I have a couple of supervised court visits to complete. I did the other 2 unsupervised court visits fairly early on in the course, but somehow couldn't find time to do the supervised visits. I have also to sort out the feedback forms from my oral skills classes and copy them for inclusion in my Personal Development File, which has to be handed in at the next study weekend. There are some bits of Drafting to go in there too and a report on my pro bono work, along with mini write-ups on the 4 court visits undertaken.

Although I shall miss the study weekends and the friends that I have made during BVC, I can't wait to finish BVC and catch up on all the things that have been neglected for the past 2 years. The house needs some tlc and my day job has been neglected too, so I have plenty of tasks lined up for June and a mini pupillage to undertake too. I also hope to do some marshalling, which should have taken place last Christmas, but my Inn let me down.

So the gentle trot to the finishing line is more like a mad scramble, but that's BVC for you:-)

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Big Pants

The big day came and I felt mighty fine. The Advocacy 3 exam was upon me and I was well prepared, confident and ready to go. Got an early train so that I'd have plenty of time for delays and coffee and a final glance at the brief. So, 30 minutes before the oral exam I'm called into a room, given my last minute instructions, which were fairly predictable and everything was going exactly to plan. That is until 10 minutes before the oral exam when the nerves kicked in good and proper. I just couldn't get my breath and my mind blanked. I shuffled and re-shuffled my papers, looked at my notes, tried to do the deep breathing thing, but nothing worked.

Examiner came to collect me and I went into the room where I was to do the exam. Had a bit of a chat with the actor and the examiner before starting and luckily I calmed down a bit and managed to find my voice. I'm certain that it wasn't my best performance, but it wasn't my worst either. Time will tell?

Now it is a matter of waiting for the results.

On Saturday I had the Advanced Crime classes and although I hate to admit it, the module just isn't floating my boat at the moment. The first class covered abuse of process applications and the second class covered proceeds of crime and confiscation orders.

So, I just have 2 study weekends remaining, plus the final study weekend when I have the 2 options exams.

This week I intended to have a break from BVC, but brain thinks otherwise! On Sunday night I couldn't sleep and re-runs of the exam kept going through my head - then when I did finally get to sleep, I kept waking up in a panic because I was dreaming about sodding BVC. Yesterday I was really busy with my day job, so my mind was distracted from studies, but last night the dreams returned. I don't think I've ever dreamt about BVC before, but for the last 2 nights I've sat countless exams, encountered every random problem that could ever arise (as they do in dreams), had arguments with the witness, the examiner, other students, you name it, I dreamt about it.

I think that there is a bottle of single malt in the kitchen with my name on it for this evening's bedtime beverage. Strictly for medicinal purposes of course.

I suppose I ought to be thinking about OLPAS, but I'm not. Haven't done anything towards preparing for applications. Maybe tomorrow...