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.


Monday, 4 July 2011

An Evening Concert.

This should also be subtitled:

'and a post in which it becomes more apparent what I do for a living!'

It seems to have been a while since I blogged! I've been a busy bee, and have also been a poorly bee, and also a bee who was unable to finish her Photo Scavenger Hunt, but theres always next month. I think I'm back into routine now.

Let me tell you about a lovely evening I had at the weekend. There was me, my fella, a nice warm evening walk up to a beautiful church, and this lady:

 Forget your Take That tickets- this was the place to be! (Jealous, much?!..) I couldnt quite believe what I was reading when I found out that Tasmin Little was due to play with John Lenehan at a nearby church, and assumed it would be too difficult for me to go. But somehow there were still tickets at the 11th hour, and I managed to convince my other half (not known for his classical music leanings) that this was not to be missed. We were there early, so as to get the best choice of seats in our ticket price. I was thrilled to be very near the stage. This was the programme:

 Fritz Kreisler - Praeludium and Allegro
J.S. Bach - Sonata in E major No. 3, BWV1016
Mozart - Sonata No 17 in C major, K296
Grieg - Sonata No. 2 in G major, Op 13
Tchaikovsky - Melodie from 'Souvenir d'un lieu cher'.
Bartok - Romanian Folk Dances.

What a treat! There was a time when my life was steeped in classical music, and, much as I always loved the radio, and the Top 40, (and later on, Britpop and Indie and grungie stuff of all descriptions), I spent my Saturday mornings in Orchestras, my Sunday afternoons in choir, and almost everyday after school was a different music-based commitment or lesson. After my studies, I had no real reason to live and breathe orchestral music, and I enjoyed escaping it all for a while. I then decided that I missed it, but after I moved, there was no real way of getting together with others to make music anymore, so I started to teach, and found new interests to occupy my evenings (notably staying at home with my small children!) But I'm an all-round music kinda girl, and will listen to anything, and this programme took me right back to the days when I could call myself a pretty good violinist.

The Kreisler was a particular treat- such a lovely way to open the concert, and a real indulgence of mine. Due to the concert venue, it was unavoidable to hear her warming-up, and this was the one she practised before she came in- it was interesting to hear how she went over the notes, played it through slightly un-easily, double-checked her fingering and tuning just as any other debut-soloist might... even though she's far from this! Ofcourse she just slipped into another mode, and there were no signs of nerves onstage, just pure wonderful music-making.

The Bach was also very beautiful, and it was a new listen for me, just like the Grieg, which I must look out for a recording of. Of course the Bartok was the biggest croud-pleaser. I myself have a very tenuous teacher-student connection with Bartok. Aside from the fact that I love him, and I based my dissertation on his piano works, he also taught my violin-teacher's proffessor. You see? He is my Great Great Teacher...! When a student of mine played some Bartok in her exam last year, I had to tell her that she was his Great Great Great pupil!

And the lady in question, seems lovely. 'How can you tell from a concert?' I hear you ask. Ah- I just can! It was a fairly intimate performance, and she connected with everybody there. She gave music, and took pleasure in it, and seemed to have a wonderful musical connection with her very fine pianist. They shared smiles and private jokes between themselves during the energetic passages, through raised eyebrows and nods of heads, and they had a passion for the programme. There was a small incident where she came to the stage without the correct music, (which only made me like her more!) and he hopped off to collect it for her, and she filled the time on the mic with ease, talking fondly about the Kreisler that she had just played, and praising John Lenehan for his support and help. She also smiled, and looked genuinely grateful for applause, making the effort to look around the audience, catching the eyes of those that she could, to thank them back.

As with any good classical concert, the encore was a little bit of something special. (I once had the pleasure of seeing Maxim Vengerov at the Barbican in London, who, the previous summer, had sprung onto the world stage doing some impressive violinistic gymnastics at the Proms. I was a tiny bit disappointed to witness a purely Beethoven and Mozart programme, and had to wait until the second encore for a flash of his famous virtuosic playing!) My fella seemed a little surprised that they walked on and off the stage after they completed the programme, to recieve two more bursts of applause and then sat down to give us something unscheduled! But it was worth the wait. It was their own take (ie- lots of flourishes and scales and trills, and lots of opportunity to see the pianist's genius) on Monti's Czardas. Fantastic.

And what could finish the evening off nicely? A little trip to the pub, and a chance gig by a fantastic singer-songwriter. There were lots of covers of good tunes, as well as his own material. He has one of those little boxes that Little Boots used, and Ed Sheeren has, where they record a few bars at a time, layering claps, chords, backing vocals as they go- it was amazing to see him use it live. Plenty of Newton Faulkner-like guitar techniques too. Watch out for him- he's called James Kirby. Utterly inspirational. I told you I liked all music!