Friday, 28 October 2011

Photo Highlights.

Just some of the nice things I've been up to in the last couple of months. I really enjoyed the Summer holidays- not just because I was able to get away, but because we filled the other days with nice things. It was a good precedent to set, as it seems I've had the energy and luck to carry on with little treats and days out into the Autumn. We're just off out to town to have a peruse around the shops and a little bit of lunch. Hope you're enjoying your time off if you have any!

1: a trip on a little steam train. It took us to the pebbly seaside where we had a picnic and flew our kite.
2: A Venetian Fete. One of the winning carnival floats that we watched parade along the canal.
3: Jimi Hendrix, the homemade kite. The children bought the things they needed from the local shop with their Grandad, and spent a morning creating our flying machine.
4: Little Guy has his face painted at our day out with the Pirates.
5: Pretty coastal views.
6: Our Duck Tour in London. It was fantastic.
7:  A squirrel in St. James Park, London.
8: Mini P's Paddington Bear 3rd Birthday Party
9: My beautiful Missy Pickle, meeting a Mermaid.


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Daydream in Blue.

I've got lots to tell you, about recent things that have occured Here. I have a post part done- I'll try and get it on here soon! Its not that I think you're all sitting on the egde of your seats waiting for it, far from that, just that I'd like to spruce the place up a bit on my blog, cheer it up a little. It will be a post of positive things, nice doings and pleasant memories. I need those a bit at the moment,

I'm good at daydreaming. I suppose really, my daydreaming at the moment could also fall into the categories of sulking and worrying. Yes, I can do the wallowy woe-is-me bit, but its the 'action' or 'plan' part I'm a bit stinky at. But hey, if you can't write these musings out here then where else do they go? And hopefully once they're written and in some kind of coherant order, I might be able to sift through it and make sense of whats occuring- get it into perspective.

So life is still a bit poo really, and I'm not myself. I have painful headaches and regular nosebleeds- sinus problems I think, and problems sleeping. Its been like this for a couple of months. I'm off to the doctors again on Wednesday, I guess they might have some more ideas now that I've tried the current prescription and the symptoms remain.
What else? Well more trouble from the usual quarters, and I'm afraid its running me down. I'm finding that I'm fighting against becoming a sad little blob who mopes about in front of daytime TV, feeling blue and lack-lustre.

I haven't been seeing the fella as much as I'm used to, because work has gone all crazy again for him. Well... I have to admit that this concerns me, my inability to keep myself positive, without outside help, or, really, company. I've been all pro-'dating' and 'living apart' from the beginning. I don't think its because on every level I'm happy with the prospect of being a person who exists aside from her boyfriend, but its because I felt I needed to be able to deal with life myself, and for it to be the three of us- me, Pickle Missy and Little Guy, looking after each other. Thats why I wanted to do it. Its hard.

I was hoping that we were working towards the stage where one day we might decide to move in. If I can't look after my own happiness and wellbeing at this stage, I doubt that will be happening for a good while. Which is fine- I'm not being defensive- it is fine. I set myself the task if you like, of proving I could channel my inner Beyonce, and be self-sufficient, and I must do better at this before I can build a decent relationship with this man. It just happens that until we are together, living in the same place, I'll have to accept the weeks that we see so little of each other, because of the distance.
It would be all too easy to cheer up if he was here. In the absence of my besties, and my family, the children and he are all I have to make me smile. And the children do make me smile, but when they are at school and nursery, and when they are in bed, and when they are with their dad, I feel lonely as a lonely person in lonelytown... you get the idea.

How much easier it would be to re-boot myself, into some kind of emotionally-semi-functioning person, if I had a hug in the morning, or someone to eat with, to make it worth while cooking. I'd even be appreciative of someone's work uniform right now, to make sure that I, or he, was making a dent in the laundry pile. Stuff isn't getting done with any kind of efficiency... I guess it hasn't since the headaches, and less so since these Autumn Blues arrived.

Another root of my problem really, is boredom, and with my recent reunion with High School Friends, comes the realisation that I have very little to aim for in my life right now... dictated by upper limits that I can work in hours and salary... and it feels as though I have achieved very little for myself, in life... thus far.

No firm decisions to be made here, (they're not my forte!) just a few aims to consider:
-stand on my own two feet, overcome neccesity to rely on others for happiness (how on flibbing earth do I do this? No idea. Will let you know how it goes!)
- sleep and eat better, sort-out my own routine. I certainly wouldn't let my children behave like this, so I must set a better example
- have a re-think, and take advice about careers, house-moves and finances/cars. I really think its worth considering having new job to go to when my youngest is at school next September. It might have to be 'back to the drawing-board' on the careers thing. Now... what would I like to be when I grow up?


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Recent Doings.

Its been a long time since I was in a sensible enough routine to spend time on my blogging and reading of blogs. I'm hoping to overcome my recent problems and keep in touch with this place somehow, because its just the sort of place I like to be. So, 'hello' again, sweet readers! I'll drop by soon.

I've had horrible things to deal with in the Single Mummy Zone, and it came to a peak on Thursday, when the ex and a mediating officer rang me out of the blue, on my Birthday, to quibble childcare decisions, and just-as-worryingly, monetary issues (which were put to bed over two years ago). Its a real source of anguish actually, and I was upset that he chose to deliver the news of his most recent plot on that particular day. I'm being tied up in knots. My very real fear is that he wants me to end up with nothing. People that know my situation in greater detail will understand that I haven't overstated that, unfortunately.
Needless to say, with the emotion of the occasion, and my pathelogical dislike of most of my adulthood birthdays, (although I had intended to try and enjoy this one!) it was not a good thing. The day ended worse than it had began, and I was appreciative to all those that tried to improve things, but I decided to write it off! Better luck next year maybe.

I'm reminded of a little Monty Python clip here, something about bright sides of life... I'm trying, Eric!

''Lifes a piece of ***t, when you look at it!...''

So I probably should end on a high. I did have a nice weekend, and had a little birthday party on the Saturday, and a picnic on the Sunday. I was thoroughly spoilt, and had a good time ringing in my thirtieth, or twenty-tenth as the children call it, despite the nearness of tears on many occasions. It wasn't easy, but I was glad that I didn't cancel and take to my bed. I do have a lovely family, and a pretty fab boyfriend, and a couple of very true friends. It really helps.


And also, a special kinda girl wrote some lovely words earlier, please do pop by her blog if you haven't already- I promise it'll cheer you up! I hadn't seen the content of her post before I wrote this one, but I hope I haven't spread any gloom to her corner of Blogland! She sounds all sparkly and light and as though she has been relieved of a great weight. Good for her. Theres a positive thing.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Holiday, Part 2: Ibiza.

This was the indulgent part, after the music and camping at Cambridge in late July. I was persuaded by friends and family who were probably very fed up of me wearily dragging my problems about, and looking grey, to go abroad on a sunny package holiday. I did it! And it was just what I needed.

We went to Santa Eulalia, which is said to be a little overlooked, as people think that all of Ibiza is in the same mode. It was very nice! All cosy and warm and very very lovely. We never even heard a DJ or passed a club. Elvis and Tom Jones impersonators galore though! Lots of clear blue skies and deep blue seas, and we saw fish and lizards and cats and dogs. Everything was simple. And there was the choice of a lounge on the beach, or by the pool, or a little stroll to the marina, up through the hills or around the town. We didn't sit around too much, and just took it all in. I think I did let my guard down, and remembered how to relax- bliss.

The best part would be very hard to pin down, but I really enjoyed the off-road-rambles, and keeping to no particular timetable. The worst part is simpler to decide: my reaction to the pressure on the plane. I did have a piercing toothache, on the return journey from my last aeroplane-holiday when I was 16. Ouchy, but I assumed I'd been unlucky that time. Hmmm. It turns out that I am not a happy flyer, and was quite nervous for the whole experience. It didn't help that my body reacted again! This time I had terrible pressure behind my left eye socket.  (And the eye itself remained a little smaller than usual for the rest of the break! Attractive. Fully recovered now though.) Happily I was okay coming home again, so my unpleasant experiences remain at 50% for my flying journeys. But then so do my happier ones. Note to self: you have sinus issues!

 The view from the balcony.

It was lovely to laze about, and read my Agatha Christie novels, and be in my fella's company without having to try hard at anything. Quietness is ok, and so are late evenings talking lots about all sorts, and joint-effort-crosswords, and snuggly siestas.
We two seem to share an inclination to 'people-watch'. Does anybody else? I can't help myself! We saw some interesting characters. And this harmless little occupation kept us going during the 8 hours that we sat around the airport, waiting for our plane to be signed as 'safe' after engine work. Eye Spy soon petered out. Not a problem- we devised secret codes for when we saw a 'Typical Brit Abroad', or someone who looked like they had a name beginning with a particular given letter. We wondered what the people in the MacDonalds queue would order, and we took great delight in observing what fashionable people were wearing. We saw a lot of young ladies with high buns, so obviously we had to discreetly hum the Bod tune to each other to sound the alert...

Here Comes Aunt Flo.

This was a one-off-holiday really, but I feel very lucky to have been able to have a proper break. Lets think calm blue colours and keep those stress levels under control this time.


Blackberry Cake

I do love blackberries. And the best recipe I have for these little treasures-amongst-the-thorns, is this one. I needed to share it with you. Let me know if you get a chance to give it a try! I'll be collecting the last of the year's blackberries this afternoon, and making my third and final cake of the year. I'm almost completely certain you won't be disappointed.
Blackberry Cake.

8 oz self raising flour
4 oz margarine
4-6oz sugar
1 egg
2 large handfuls of blackberries

Grease a shallow tin. Mix the sugar, marg and flour together with your hands. When its ready (breadcrumb-y), add the egg, then stir in the blackberries- a few at a time.

 At this point, it will look like a complete failure: a little soggy perhaps, and an alarming colour. Don't panic!

Ahhhhh! No really, this is fine.

Pop it into the tin and cook quite gently (190 degrees-ish) for a while (45 minutes-ish). Its a little vague, because the cooking time varies with the amount of blackberries you add- ie, how wet the mixture is. But this isn't the sort of recipe to be worried about accuracy and measurements. This is where my mum and I differ- she goes for a few blackberries, for flavour, and I tend to chuck them all in, in the excitement, and keep vigil by the oven for a very long time- until a skewer comes out fairly clean. A little juicy squishyness is ok- as long as it has firmed a bit, and you're satisfied that the egg is cooked, and the cake is 'done'. Both of our cakes are lovely, but mine feels more decadent, and I will readily accept my mum's point that my version needs to be eaten quickly or refridgerated, and hers doesn't. Thats fine- they never last very long in my house anyway. She also keeps back 2oz of sugar to sprinkle on the top just before she bakes, so that she has a firm topping.

Yes, this is a loaf tin, but I think as lovely as it is to have a chunky 'slice' of cake, it is a bit 
of a bugger to get the cooking times right! Shallow tins are probably better.

Its especially lovely served warm, and also nicest if you can resist the urge to beat the mixture into oblivion- the plain cakey taste in amongst the blackberries- and the contrasts of colour between the two, (almost a marble effect) are one of the nicest aspects. Its also a good idea to keep some fruits back, and pop them in 'whole' once the mixture is in the tin, ready for the oven. Its such a fun cake! And perhaps all the nicer, as it is a seasonal one, and something to look forward to, just a couple of times a year. I can't take the credit for this recipe- it initially came from the very lovely Mrs ABC, who always provided the most popular cakes at the bakey Children's Society Sale back home.

Not a great photo! A little steamy, but yummy all the same.

Enjoy. Before the blackberry picking, I'm going to nurse my cold and rest my sinusy-head, which has lingered a week- which is the main cause of my absense this time! Sorry about that... I also need to talk nicely to my washing machine and my digi-box as they have both had a rebellious moment today. Things come in threes don't they... I'll let you know what breaks down next!


Sunday, 28 August 2011

Holiday, Part 1: Cambridge Folk Festival.

I love live music of all kinds, but I have a special little place for folk. It somehow makes me react in a happy way, every time. Thats what its all about, surely. I studied folk as often as possible during my degree and A Level, when there was free rein to prepare your own projects, and even where there wasn't but the essay title could be interpreted towards it! I soon became obsessed with the collection of it, by classical composers, (Vaughan Williams and Bela Bartok are the main ones) and how these 'songs of the people' (a middle class observation if ever I heard one... but true enough) spoke for the land from which they came, and became integral to their physical work (think sailors and shanties, and spirituals in America). Fascinating, rich stuff.
Events and day tickets to folk festivals were one of the highlights of my holidays when I was little. My Uncle is an avid fan, and he always seemed to be just back from, or just off-to somewhere. I used to love the names: Chippenham, Cropredy, Sidmouth (I remember going to this one with him). His bedroom at my Grandparent's house was full of LPs and tapes, and he would get in trouble for playing it all too loudly. I loved the diversity, and the energy of it all, and I really liked the atmosphere to the gigs I went to. It was time, this year, to return to the scene!

You know the wonderful thing about folk lovers, is that they are friendly, and laid back, and smiley. One of the performers remarked in a Sky Arts interview that I saw, that this was possibly the only festival where the crowd maintained their manners enough to stay within the white lines. So that transfers to the kinda people you end up striking up a conversation with, or camping next to. All of the staff were lovely too, and the main site was fab- there was a main stage, and two secondary ones (one for local bands and workshops) and just a 5 minute walk from all the billed stuff was a beautiful huge pond, and in a smallish tent was a little intimate venue where you could feel part of amazing busking-type stuff that you'd never come across. I was called The Den, and it was a lovely teepee, complete with living room features on stage, and rugs and cushions on the floor.

The Den

 Stage 2- Fiddle Workshop. This was early on in the festival- most people 
didn't arrive till the weekend. None of the site was this empty again!

 The Spooky Men's Chorale. As bizarre as it their name, but quite entertaining.

And the program was brilliant. I watched, amazed, as new acts were announced on the website, having conversations with said Uncle about all the things that he wanted me to see on his behalf, and looking everybody up on youtube. Traditional folky stuff galore, with some mainstream greats too, and acts you've probably heard of, on Jools Holland, and thought you might come across again, and recent successes in the folk arena who have managed to get mainstream recognition. Just a small taster:

The Secret Sisters,
Chris Wood,
Bellowhead, (Spiers and Boden also performed as a duo- fantastic!)
Kate Rusby,
Richard Thompson,
Peatbog Faeries,
Mary Chapin Carpenter,
Laura Marling,
Port Isaac's Fisherman's Friends.

Whoa! I think I saw all of those, or remained nearby with a Greek salad and an Old Rosie, so that I could diligently say to my Uncle that I'd 'heard them', even if it wasn't something that could drag me away from a well deserved and well-queued-for meal. So this is an interesting thing- the elements of traditional 'folk' up against more household names. The hardcore folkies who have been going for years (and they all tell me that this is something I will really want to return to), have quite a bit to choose from, and those who just want it all (um, like me) have all of the above, and the new unsigned or newly signed performers to dip into.

 lovely flags at our colourful campsite

The performance tent at our site- open mics each evening. We camped away from 
the main festival and took a short bus ride in each day. It was nice to be able to retreat a little from it all, but the idea of staying on the main site is very appealing.

Then there were the announcements on the bill that made me jump up and down. So inspirational and wonderful was their music on CD and on Radio 1s Live Lounge (an avid fan here, of that programme), that I couldn't wait to get there. I also felt the need to get to these gigs 90 minutes early or so, so that I could find a space near the stage: Frank Turner and Newton Faulkner were the headliners.

Folk? Actually, not strictly... but there is something about this type of singer-songwriter, and story teller, that has firm roots in a folky idea- strong rhythms, personal feelings and stories, stuff that communicates so well, and is original sounding. Frank Turner (who is flibbing fantastic), has a new (beautiful) album out to promote, and is described as more of a punk-folk performer, but he was there for all of the above reasons, and he looked humbled by our reception. He was almost apologetic in interview, concerned about the reaction he might get from people who had come to see folk, and he sang his unaccompanied song to try and get some votes, and even had a guy on a recorder for us, but he was great. We went to the festival with my fella's sister, and two of her work colleagues, one of whom was in his 60s, and 'here for the banjos and Morris Dancers'. He thought Frank was superb.

Newton Faulkner is a feat of multi-tasking, and every single part of him is about the music-making. He has mastered a particular style of rhythmic guitar playing which includes drumming on the side of the instrument, with hammer-ons, harmonics and regular melodic and chordal playing. Its much funner to listen to than the clnical description sounds! His hit single 'Dream Catch Me'  may be familiar, and it is hauntingly beautiful, but its only half of what he can do. I haven't included links so far- I highly reccomend you check Mr Frank, Laura Marling, and the Fishermen out, but you must listen to this:

I'm a bit of a fan, and there was a signing tent where I got my programme, and my Fella got his 
guitar signed. Other musicians were there too, but the queues were long, and you ended up missing 
great music standing there, so Newton's was the only one we collected. 

We were lucky enough to go to a guitar workshop with him, which was  informal and relaxed, and not heaving to begin with, so we had the pleasure of being able to sit near the stage. A big part of this festival is giving people a chance to see or become involved. (Its a fantastic place for children- willow weaving, flower garland making, traditional story telling, and so it goes on...) We stumbled upon a fiddle workshop too, but I was too much of a chicken to take my violin. I will next year... I think! Anywhoo, we all sat there, struck a little dum by all that we were seeing. Its not the sort of skills you can grab in a day or a few weeks, but its just really interesting to be given a tour of his guitar and set-up, and shown what happens where and how to put it together. He tunes his strings very differently to the traditional way, which is an interesting idea, and gives an insight into just how much thought and prep goes into his style. And he's hillarious! So at ease with a crowd, and spontaneous and fun. What a nice guy.

We went to a vocal workshop with the Fishermen too- fantastic! You may have come across this traditional Cornish singing group- the BBC did a programme recently, with that Gareth chap from The Choir, investigating shanties, and they were featured. I think they have commercials and bits in the offing too. Good on them. They're highly entertaining- fantastic banter, wonderful accents, ofcourse (made me miss my Cornish relatives, although I do still see my dad regularly... but you know what I mean...) and beautiful harmonies and performances. Their album is good, Little Guy loves it, but you lose a little tiny 10% of something in the recorded article- they're just superb live, with minimal accompaniament , and if you ever get a chance to go to Port Isaac, I do believe they have carried on their tradition of singing by the sea on a Friday evening, for the locals. I know of a lovely fellow blogger who may have been to one of their performances on their home turf recently- we'll have to see what she says about it!

Port Isaac's Fishermen's Friends.

Oh, its been so lovely to sit and reminisce, and go through my photos once more. It really is the type of festival you'd want to return to, especially if there is somebody on the bill you need to see, (Stornaway and Joan Armatrading have previously played) because its a great venue.

Willow-sculptures: chinese lanterns decorating the camp.

Street artists. We saw a few of these- you couldn't escape. Best to move along 
otherwise they approached you! A beautiful fox in the background.

Returning to my little ones and their cousin, who they were staying with. I came bearing gifts! 
Little Miss L is modelling her new watch, Little Guy has his bumblebee sun hat, and Pickle Missy, as she is the eldest,  is sporting the folk festival essential- a flower garland.

And the camping? I survived- hurrah!  The weather was very kind to us, and the camp-showers have been updated from the ones I was told about- no solar power for us! Just regular over-used get-them-while-they're-hot ones that can sustain a lovely temperature when they are largely un-used in the mid-afternoon. Oh I must just post these links, if you get a chance, and you like your traditional folk,  The Willows and Feis Rois Musicians were my favourite little discoveries of the weekend.


Saturday, 27 August 2011

Considering the reactions.

This evening, something occured which now seems a little stupid, but at the time seemed wholly upsetting. Isn't it odd how our reactions to things can be so diverse? Mine were- all in the space of a few hours. I've gone from one to the other tonight, having literally 'cooled down' in the process. Some will laugh when they read, (you can, don't feel guilty- I had a smile!) others will empathise, maybe somebody will be as outraged as I was initially. The interesting juxtaposition here is my initial reaction, with how I would have reacted a second and a third time- each different.

Imagine the scene if you will. This is like Poirot, but without the violence, happily, but also without the beautful period costumes, sadly.. I am at a loss for things to do, and I am avoiding paperwork, and okay its Friday night, which might be a friendly-kinda-rowdy in parts, but I might just go for a run... until I remember that I'm in my PJs. So instead, I'm in my garage, doing that thing I do, gently attacking something like this,

at about half speed, obviously.... (I'm still in the completely learning stage, and also, honestly, it says 'Allegro Molto', not 'Prestissississimo' or something. Whats the rush?)

And I can hear something, to my far right, outside. Although it has been raining lightly on and off since the afternoon, this isn't that kind of watery sound. It is another, unmistakable sound, and it is being sounded against my up-and-over door. I had heard people walk past already, probably between pubs, but hadn't realised that their convo had stopped, and somebody had paused just outside my property. What do I do? This is a bit like a sliding doors scenario- there is a small moment where my London 'walk-away' upbringing (where you don't even look partially intimidating people in the eye, let alone approach them), flickers up inside me, and then it goes. The more overwhelming urge is to go out there, interrupt him, and move them on, and probably, I envisage, they will run away fast, perhaps laughing.

So I go out there, catch him literally in the act, and shout 'What the hell are you doing?' His reaction? He chuckled, continued, and said 'I'm having a piss'. I retaliate: 'Stop it- *** off!' He says 'No'.

Now what? That wasn't what I was hoping would happen. I never expected him to carry on. This is the bit I have replayed in my head. In my updated version, I run in, dash into the back garden where a bucket of rainwater has been gathering, dash back out, and water him, liberally.
Then and there though, I really wanted to wipe the cheesy grin off his face- I was absolutely enraged. And he would hardly have expected it of me to retaliate physically, and it would have been so easy to do. Oh and I was angry- so upset and cross and shocked at the blatentness of it all.

Please note, I did *not* do this. I never touched him, guv.

So what I actually do, is look towards his two laughing mates, themselves the same sort of age and reasonable build, and quickly close the door. I hold the door shut, pushing myself up against it, trying to remember how to lock it without the key, because all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I felt incredibly vulnerable. There was nobody else outside to help me- none of the usual taxi drivers, who have been so supportive before, no neighbours, no other pub-goers.. and nobody else inside.

I did my good citizen thing, and made a very likely useless call to a local police switchboard. She diligently took down the description and the particulars, and on a positive note, it was a pleasure to deal with somebody who was totally efficient, and who put me at ease. Our taxes are going somewhere useful in their training I feel.

So the other oddity of situations like this, enraging ones, vulnerable ones,  bloody-good-shock ones, is that you can never get hold of anybody to chat too, to calm down about it. Nobody answered their phones when I came home from a routine abdo scan, with the news that I was unexpectedly a tiny bit pregnant 6 years ago, and nobody answered their phones (initially- bless the lovely friend that did come to my aid though,) when I had a bad shock and ran from someone and hurt my hand a while back- I just wanted to talk too fast for a loved one to understand, and cry down the phone for a bit. Similarly, nobody responded to texts this evening (I knew the parents were in, but didn't fancy worrying them).

I mentioned about the scale of anger- and my reactions if I had have dealt with it a second time that evening. It happened around 8.30, and around 9.00 I'd have done the bucket thing... in fact I sploshed some floor cleaner and water around the outside of the garage after my visitor, as you do... and left some water in the bucket by the front door just in case. He didn't show. Good- maybe the strong arm of the Friday Night Law did catch up with him before he hopped on his bus. Saddo.
By 10, I was beginning to smile about it. And I was a little taken aback by the actions of this feisty girl, all alone, protecting her property, and her Faure induced peace. Maybe she did the right thing, but at 10pm, I would have popped upstairs, closed the curtains and made myself a cuppa. Yes-the garage is where I escape from the world, into my own one, and to have somebody insult it like that was upsetting, but I was daft to confront them. Its also a pretty ridiculous thing to happen, that could probably only happen to me... hence the slight grin, its just my luck- and it is stupid!

I'm not sure what the end of the story is. I'm going to bed, and I'm going to stop mulling it over- maybe thats the conclusion. I feel lighter about it, by a bit, but my lovely evening was rudely broken. Its odd- I was abroad when the 'London' Riots, as they were referred to then, were going on. When it started spreading to other areas, I thought that that kind of behaviour was for cities, and that those sorts of thugs, with their beligerance and rulebreaking, and lawlessness, could never 'belong' where I live, with its rural charm and villagey-pride. They never did reach us, but now I realise that there isn't much of a boundary. People are people. Nobody rioted and put lives and livelihoods in danger outside my house tonight, but they weren't country mice either. I guess I've just realised that you only get away for so long, with living in peace, before somethng like this happens... even if I never thought that it was at all possible, in my beautiful Here.


PS- sorry for the subject matter, but I do like to share! ;) Thank you for reading my little blog, nice posts and sad ones. I mentioned my disappointment in my last post, at not being able to sit down yet,  and catch up here, and write those 'Dear Diary, I had a fab holiday' entries. But my weekend plans have changed, so I'm a little more likely to be able to catch up with my Bloggy World than I thought, give or take some paperwork. I'll be back soon, I hope, with happy tales from my Summer, plans for September, and maybe even a cake recipe too.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Just a Holiday note...

Hello! Its been such a long time, but I've been away, and at home with family since we last spoke, pretty much constantly. You could say, I've been busy being Home and Away. I want nothing better than a long sit down and a cuppa, and a large helping or some homemade blackberry cake, so that I can catch up on all that has been going on while I have been absent, presumed missing, from my little blog.
I'm looking forward to escaping for a while, from the housework and into some lovely posts, and finding some time to sit down and write a bit about my adventures too. It feels like much more than three weeks or so since I was here last.
I promised to fill you in on the festival, which I must do, and then of course there was the week abroad, and the return home to gather the beautiful small people up into my arms and squeeze tightly. I've been doing lots of that. Our camping trip this week has been postponed due to the rain, so I'll be thinking up more local things to do, (squeezing the last out of our holiday... as we seem to only have a tiny amount left), but whether it could top the day trips we took last week with my parents, and the makey-fun we got up to, I have yet to discover. I'll let you know.
We're back to London next week for a Duck Tour, then I guess we all go back to school... but lets not think about that yet. If I don't make it back, its because flying homemade kites took presidence!

Catch you soon.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Off we go again!

I came back yesterday from Cambridge Folk Festival, and it was awesome. I'll post about it when I get a chance. I have had a bit of work today, in amongst the organising and panicking... which will continue, with, hopefully, a little rest before we leave here at 3am in the morning for Santa Eulalia, Ibiza. I am so excited its actually hard to think. But theres lots to do. Life is all or nothing around here!

Have I remembered everything? Absolutely not.

See you soon!


Saturday, 30 July 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt- July 2011

I am smug, and, for a change, organised. This post has been set to publish while I'm on my hols. Get me!! I hope you enjoyed this month's list, I had fun, and managed to get some nice snaps with the purchase of a posh new digital camera, (bought with nectar points and early Birthday money). Yey!

Red White and Blue: a window display.

Strawberries: (home grown- yum!)

Ice cream (with sparkles and sprinkles!)

A flag: bunting around a local shop, that has been prettyfying the corner ever since the Royal Wedding.


Celebration: strawberry gateaux, for Pickle Missy's friend's birthday.


Flip Flops:

Stars: Christmas wrapping paper!


A kite: (sorry its not in the sky! This little pocket kite has been riding around in my handbag for about three weeks, waiting for the right weather...)

Something that makes you smile: I'll have to admit sadness and happiness mixed together when I see this little dedication, on a bench by the sea... but its the sweetest thing, and it fills me with positivity about living for the moment, and embracing the beautiful. Such wonderful words...


Friday, 15 July 2011

7 Things

Vicky, at Coffee and Milkies, kindly tagged me in her list of 7 things, a 'liebster award' type thingy. Thank you! I thought it was a while since I'd done one, although it took me a some time to come up with some entirely new information. It comes at just the right time, when my blogging is slowing down because I'm all end-of-termy, and consumed with trying to find childcare for September, so I'm not so inspired to sit and write as I'd like to be. Its not going too well just now, but I need something to turn up, for me to continue working... and in these circumstances where something needs to happen, I find that somethng unexpected usually does. So we'll see!

Here are my facts.

1) I had a few ideas about my career path when I was little, (chef and journalist spring to mind), although I never really was focused on 'that one job'...  But the first little dream that I told my parents of when I was small, was that I wanted to teach the violin, in a house in the country* and have lots of cats. I have achieved two thirds of this, despite it being the career route I didn't really want to take initially... Am I finally settled? Not really! :)

*NB I grew up in London: therefore all areas that weren't cities were termed 'country'! Locals may not think this is the countryside, but I'm convinced it is!

2) I hate olives, and coconut (although I like korma) and dislike nuts (although I love marzipan and praline)...

3) I have a completely irrational but severe fear of two particular creatures. Even the names upset me! It seriously encroaches on my ability to garden, and I thought I had it sussed, with a paved garden made entirely of pots. Not so. I'm desperate for my children to escape it, and it takes all my effort not to scream when I see one... and yes its bonkers but I've been battling it for a long time. Mind over matter... and more birds/ hedgehogs please!

4) I'm currently planning my Birthday Party, and a picnic gathering the day after, for my children's friends and families. Its making me smile, although I'm a little nervous. For some of my friends, its the first or second time they'll have been Here, and I'm not used to hosting. But I am having to think about lots of lovely cooking!

5) I don't have a coat that I like that much. In fact I don't think I've ever have had one that was entirey comfy in. What I have in my mind's eye when I go shopping is quite often entirely different to what I end up with! I'm not a natural shopper.

6) I have the most entertaining neighbours. Its a quiet road, despite a taxi rank, and the fact that my garden is next door to the pub's garden, but I do love a bit of 'hubbub'. I also love to take a glance out of the window when I'm washing up, and see the people opposite live out their colourful lives, and have noisy conversations/arguments about who finished the vodka. They're outgoing sorts, and cow outfits have been spied on the washing line...

7) I never used to like my middle name. I thought it was hideously old-fashioned, and I thought that, said together with my first name, I sounded like a ship. I still don't like it very much, and wouldn't choose it for myself, although my full name's meaning made sense to me as an angsty teen. And now, finding out that my parents named me after the year they were married in, I feel I need to accept it as part of the family history, and it sweetens it considerably.

I haven't tagged blogs individually, but please feel free to join in, if you have the time! Have a lovely weekend.


Sunday, 10 July 2011

TV Hits

I don't have a television that receives channels, as you may know. 'Whats the point in that?' you may ask yourself. I ask myself the same thing on a regular basis. I'm stuck in a digital contract without enough signal to watch it.

To be honest, I've managed so far, and its annoying, but I don't watch much tv anyway. I love my music, and I like to do 'things' with the children, rather than veg out in front of Peppa Pig, although they are indulged occasionally. I'm keen on cooking, and going out when time allows, and I can lose myself on Wikipedia of an evening, if I'm bored, (which I LOVE- seeing who is related to who, pressing links from one page to another, which I have termed my Wiki-Trail!!) the way others can in front of BBC1.
So I suppose, despite the money I'm paying for a service that they can't provide me with (after assuring me they could... grrr) its not a bad system. I get to cherry pick the things I want to watch, when I want to watch them (and lets not mention that you can do that too, with your fancy recording-boxes... that I have... that I can't use...its not important!)

I've been watching bits and pieces recently, without my evil telly, and here are my top TV Hits:

I love a good documentary, all the better if its slightly biographical- I am a little bit obsessed with people's dates, where they come from, which other famous people they met... (authors, artists, muses, musicians). Also, anything cultural, particularly if its based in France, is just my thing.  Enter Vincent Van Gogh, Painted in Words, with the fabulous Benedict Cumberbatch (BTW- what an actor?! Great in everything I've seen him in) as the tortured soul, that was the genius painter.

Its was bloody good- an excellent portrayal of the man, (she says, like she knew him!) using his own correspondance to his brother, and others, for the dialogue. Its a fascinating time in cultural history, and very sad, but very watchable.

Music is always an excellent idea, but with the Glastonbury shows, I missed so much, because when you can't see it live, its difficult to catch up on something as big as that- suddeny hour-long programmes filled with music eat into your evening (and iPlayer stuff is usually a free-time/ weekend activity for me). I watched what I could (watched being the word with live music), and didn't see half of what I wanted to really- still catching up, however Elbow were great, as I expected, and I enjoyed this band, Stornaway. The first song was a little bit folktastic, and that arrangement didn't live up to the album version, for me, but the second was truly beautiful.

Onwards. I have found something that I have put-by for tonight to watch. Its called Fake or Fortune, and I saw one a couple of weeks ago at my fella's, and it was good. I've only just noticed that others in the series have made it online. Now this kind of programme is worth the licence fee! I really enjoyed the Monet trail, and it was gritty, and interesting, and pretty powerful stuff, watching a couple try to get their painting recognised as genuine, with all sorts of hoops to jump through, in an antiquated system, (ha! literally...) that means that one powerful family have the final decision. Philip Mould and Fiona Bruce take us through it, and she is only mildly annoying, which is good...

 I love Miranda. That is all. Hurry up BBC and get this to the people that can't watch it when its broadcast!

I'm also kinda enjoying the 3-part series with Guy Chambers (of Robbie Williams 'Angel' fame), called Secrets Of The Pop Song, writing songs collaboratively, and plodding through potted history of pop genres. The first episode was a ballad, writing with the Rufus Wainright's ego, and his lovely voice too. The song turned out a little bit annoying, but it was fascinating to see the process. Part two was the project of writing a 'break-through' single for a new pop act, Tawiah and Mark Ronson. He was quite irritating too, but lets not knock the sound behind so many fantastic singles. Its The Noisettes in the part three, who I really like. Now I say 'kinda enjoying', because the whole process got me asking questions about creativity, and watching it in action, and the different processes it takes is interesting, but thinking about the power and money behind those that say 'you're gonna make it' and those who say 'you're not', and those who can drop aspiring musicians so quickly, is quite some food for thought. I find it hard not to think of them as slimy ruthless business men. Its quite unsettling. On a lighter note, Boy George has some really interesting things to say, rather eloquently... who'd have thought it?!

Remaining at number one for me, so to speak, is The Tudors.

I blogged about it once before, but it is good enough to blog about again. Oh dear Lord, what am I supposed to do without Henry and his multiple wives to play out their dramatic lives for me?!?! (And the very sexy Henry Cavill!) I have a soft spot for Jonathan Reece Meyers, (and can only hope he finds the strength to get himself back on track very quickly....) I fell in love with him in 'Bend it like Beckham', (with Keira Knightly, in equal measures- not a great storyline I don't think, but she was fabulous to watch) and was waiting for him to get a great role like this one. His very lovely blue-Hugo-Boss eyes catch me every time I walk past Superdrug.
'The Tudors' was a definate Hit for me: the drama, the costumes, the characters, the time-period, so full of rich interesting storylines. I drank them all up, on the BT box very thirstily, and then found that the naughty BBC iPlayer wasn't showing the last series, so I watched them online (legally, but in tantilisingly small chunks as you could only watch about an hour at a time). I finished a week or so ago, and there is a little Tudor size hole left in my life!! I'd love to see them all over again, and may need to invest in a box set at some stage.

And the 'misses'? I was very disappointed with Claudia Winkleman's new programme, King Of, much as I adore her. It was quite a pants set-up, and in their haste to get through the format, they lost alot of her natural humour. She's crazy and lovely, and I was so happy to see that she had her own show, but... no ta. It looks like the viewing figures back me up here.
Lee Mack's All Star Cast was also a bit cringeable. The episode that I watched, like 'King Of', had great guests (in fact, Sarah Millican was in both, and she's fabulous) but I wanted it to end for some reason, in the same way that I couldn't watch 'Noel's Houseparty' once I was old enough to realise that Mr. Blobby was really irritating!

What are your recent TV hits?...


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Are you proud of me?!...

This weekend is the first one that I've had by myself for ages.

I'm actually all alone.

There is nobody here apart from me.

And I have nothing specific to do.

And, unusually, I'm fine with that! This is one of my long-term struggles, to be 'Me', without being a mummy, or a girlfriend, or a daughter, or anything else. I seemed to lose confidence in that a long time ago, and it often feels awkward, unnatural, boring and lonely. The children are with their dad a weekend early, and the fella is at a festival, with lots of local acts, as well as Cast and The Streets. Jealous? Much? (No really- its raining and he's camping!) Its fine!

Plans? Not many. Eat toast, check. Catch up on things missed on the iPlayer, check. Tidy my bedroom and finish the laundry.... yeah, I'll get back to that one... I have decided after weeks of panicking about being Bikini-Beautiful (the holiday is looming) that some people aren't made for them, and that I don't have fat legs, they are quite short actually, compared to my body. So theres nothing I can do about that. This is also a step forward. More toast please!

He's texting me alot, with the 'wish you were heres' (whatever happened to the interdependant thing that we had going on?!) but he's with man-friends that he's known for a lifetime, and I think he needs to be there as 'himself'. I'm happy where I am, being 'Me', by myself.

Its a big step forward!


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt (Better-late-than-never!) for June

I mentioned the other day that I didn't manage to take part in this one... not strictly true- I hadn't completed by the time I wrote that post. But I then realised that there were only two more pictures to collect, so I decided to finish, rebelliously, late. If you haven't come across the Photo Scavenger Hunt, then this is the link you need. Such a lovely idea, and a great way to get in touch with new people. Its always good to see how bloggers interpret the list differently, and its a handy focus for photography when you're out and about.

[Please insert here the neccesary apologies for my camera dying (RIP little digicam!) and excuses about my mobile phone lens having a small scratch on it! Its actually takes a pretty decent photo considering, and I'm getting quite good at taking a shot with room to spare, so that I can crop-out the smudge later on!]

Here we go:

Tree Branches

A Farm Animal
I didn't get a chance to see a real one in June, but there are a wide selection to choose from at home. This is one of them, on Little Guy's book shelf.

A Childhood Memory
I used to love Sylvanians! And spent many hours looking over these little collector-leaflets that came with the animals, and the furniture, trying to remember all the names, and working out what I would like to get next. I was lucky enough to have the bakery, (Mr Brown Bear and his wife were too tall to come in through the door though- it bothered me!) and I saved and saved for the little house. The grey rabbits were my first family, and my favourites, and I liked the babies as they were in pocket-money range! TMI... probably...

A Wheel Trim
I was too slow to get a pic of my fella's motorbike, which came to stay for a week. Here is Pickle Missy's scooter wheel.

An Elephant
On my dressing table. I love him. He keeps my rings on his nose!

Architectural Detail
From a Baptist Church. This is around the back of the building, but I liked it as much as the finer ones near the front door. Sadly it looks out onto a loading bay and a public toilets, but its very pretty!

My newest summer discover: feta in oil, with chilli and pepper. Mmmmm...


My stair-window, at night.

Something beginning with 'Z'

Something with your town's name on it
From a tourism leaflet for the town. Sadly there are no tigers to be found, wandering down the high street, and I wouldn't have called the local animal park in 'our' area either (some artistic licence with the race track too!), but it makes a lovely central picture!

The View Right Outside Your Door

I took this on the Friday (after four days of road closure and tea-making... literally!) that they completed work on the resurfacing of my road. There was lots of excitement about the various machines that arrived, and Little Guy and I had fun watching.