Monday, 29 June 2009

pole dancing

I'm all in favour of a little bit of public art (public, NOT pubic, thank you) but the lady above is a conundrum on so many levels. Why orange? Why the netting? Why stand on a stick looking sad on Sunday morning? The ticket was running out on the car so we couldn't hang around to discover the answers but the performer, above, was part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival if you would like to find out more. I trust that no performing arts graduates were hurt in the making of this experience.

We had a marvellous weekend in Londinium. Two full days of visiting and sight-seeing of the like I haven't done for ages.
- The Tower of London (how those beefeaters must sweat in their skirts)
- an extended stroll around the city streets of Wapping (why do 12 year old boys have to have a better sense of direction than their parents? And why did we not listen?)
- a biblical hailstorm through the streets of New Cross
- lots of lovely eats and Glastonbury on the telly at S&Vs on Saturday night
- a Sunday morning trip to Greenwich (bereft of the Cutty Sark and most of the market)
- to the Tate on a catamaran
- a Hello Kitty shopping opportunity
- and back to Steve & Val's for a lovely barbecue before heading home through the crowds

I have very few photos from our trip that I deem suitable for this blog as I relented and gave J control of the Canon all weekend. We have approximately 440 shots of Canary Wharf and Tower Bridge and a few of HMS Belfast. J enjoyed himself. I now have stumps for fingers watching him swing my pictorial pride and joy around his neck for 48 hours.

I would like to wear these shoes to a garden party, preferably in Buckingham Palace, so if anyone can get me an invitation, please do so. They remind me of Henley and Wimbledon and Ascot - probably in the 1940s as they have quite clunky heels. I know I shouldn't put new shoes on funiture but I wanted them to look their best. I also like the fact that they are labelled ''Limited Edition' but cost £19.50.

I have a busy week coming up, including J's first proper parents evening at secondary school tonight. As I work at school, it's going to be odder than it would be anyway. I am sure all is well but as we only find out about school and lessons from what he tells us, it will be interesting to see if his perception matches those of his teachers.

Tuesday, I'm running my last family learning event and then Wednesday we have a network meeting where all the people who do a similar job to me across Wiltshire get together and, usually, get given several more pieces of work to do. It's quite near a well-stocked craft emporium so I often have a post-network art/craft spree to calm me down. Very therapeutic.

Thursday is haircut day and I want mine like the girl from the 'Go Ahead' adverts, choppy bob with short fringe. The hairdresser may advise me against this as I have a low hairline and a round face. It may make my head look rather lunch-box shaped. Hair grows. There needs to be a little experimentation in my life.

On the projectforty plan front - I am now half way through. Today is the beginning of Week 5. I have lost six pounds but, dear me, it's been a trial. Watching weight loss is so tedious. My greatest success, however, is the wearing of several items of clothing I haven't been able to get on for the last couple of years. I wouldn't say they are tiny size tens but, they are tops that are now sitting comfortably across my chest rather than gaping and gapping around buttons.

I've managed to crick my neck over the weekend but am determined to continue. With any luck, and the wind behind me, I'll manage to do the same over the next four weeks and lose almost a stone. I think that might do me then. I do enjoy feeling fitter and a little slimmer but, gracious, it's an effort. How do these skinny celebs do it? I suppose they have movie contracts as a motivation.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

totally tropical taste.....

I wish I liked mango. I don't - too slippery.

I wish I was able to peel fresh pineapples with aplomb. I can't.
Beautiful, warm, summer weather demands fluency with tropical fruit and vegetables. I have none.

I may have mentioned this before but I had my first encounter with broccolli, aged sixteen. I was brought up in Woolly-back country. There were no other vegetables apart from boiled cabbage and the occasional mushy pea.

Some people can dress salads beautifully and make leaves look like painterly strokes of variegated green-ness. My salads look like piles of vegetables.

Other people can make perfect dressing with just the right piquancy of sweet and sour, supporting the flavours of their beautifully arranged leaves. I can't.

Perhaps there is a course I can go on. I probably need a few days with Sarah Raven, she of the beautiful gardening boot and vastly stylish culinary and horticultural concern in Sussex (formerly of Gardner's World). I wish I knew her and I could absorb her talents simply by standing next to her.

I don't think she grows mangoes as they're neither indigenous, nor seasonal. They are chock-a-block stuffed with airmiles and that can be prohibitive. I know she grows rocket and glamorously named Italian beans as I have one of her many beautifully photographed books.

Do you think she manages all that growing and preparing and eating all by herself?

Something to ponder upon whilst I watch 'Celebrity Masterchef' in a couple of hours time.

And on another matter...does anyone else have a strange interest in Greg?

Oodyoorather? John or Greg.

Answers to this most inappropriate midweek question on a comment please. Apologies to my overseas visitors who may not know about these two culinary giants.

Monday, 22 June 2009

'sno place like dome

I would love to know the collective term for a gathering of snowdomes. They're not my favourite collectable but I never pass one without having a look.

Snowdomes look best en-masse. There is something rather sad about a singular snowdome unless it is enormous and stuffed full of snowflakes.

I saw these rather interesting 'pirate-skull' snowdomes on our Father's Day trip out yesterday. I have never seen a dome with a head inside and I wondered about the individual who conceived of such a fancy. Who designs these things? Who designs them and then takes them to the boss and says

'Hey, I know what would be great, a pirate-skull snowdome, they'll fly off the shelf at maritime visitor attractions.'

And then, who exactly gives the go-ahead and takes the designs to the manufacturers and says

'Hey, could you make me a pirate's skull, with bandana and eyepatch and then pop it into three different sizes of snowdome?'

And then, who are the hapless gift salesmen entrusted with the responsibility of putting these wares in front of the unsuspecting touring British public?

I suspect I'll never know.

STOP PRESS: No the chickens haven't laid an egg - don't be silly! They've come over all adolescent and are getting perilously close to getting laid themselves by our neighbour's cockerel. We need higher fences or shorter wings or probably both. I know it's nature but, dear oh dear, do they have to? At the bottom of the garden? Can't they just provide eggs and keep themselves to themselves? Apparently not.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

flowers, cannons and icecream

Every year, several gardens in our village are opened as part of the National Garden Scheme. The weekend is heralded by the arrival on Saturday lunchtime by men wearing panama hats and ladies in linen trousers, each wearing a distinctive yellow stickers.

The treat for the indigenous population is seeing our neighbour's gardens, each tweaked and more beautiful than last year. It is a chance to promenade and spend the afternoon celebrating our little corner of England.

I took some photographs of roses. I am unable to tell you what variety they are although I believe that most of them were supplied by David Austin Roses. I was also informed that this amazing company offers a bespoke service where you can send a plan of the site you wish to plant, its aspect and any of its peculiarities and they will kindly put together a planting plan and schedule of the most suitable scented roses. When our garden becomes a place of relaxation and tranquility instead of a place for non-laying chickens and football playing children, I will take the opportunity to create a room of roses, or an arbour, or an arch, just something beautiful.

I think I will have red, pink and cream roses but their main responsibility will be to flower throughout the season and deliver delicious scent.

In the meantime (and without smell-o-blog capability) here are a couple of the roses I saw yesterday.

And here is the seedhead of some angelica, in the most beautiful garden of all.

And here is my own shrub, wearing a small rose, hiding her beauty at SS Great Britain on our Father's Day outing earlier today.

Bristol was hugger-mugger with the Bristol Bicycle Ride, Banksy's exhibition at the City Gallery and a host of other events and attractions. Everyone came home happy. I got to go to the Arnolfini for 20 minutes and everyone got an ice cream.

A grand day out.

- my 'so-called' hens have not laid their first egg
- they have discovered an ability to fly over the fence
- they have been visited by our neighbour's cockerel
- any helpful suggestionsn will be gratefully received

- I have now, officially lost 5lbs
- it's the start of week 4 of this year's projectforty tomorrow
- this week, I am mostly going to concentrate on stamping out snacking

- projectforty's spring clean (do you like what I've done with the place?) will be followed by a few minor alterations of the content variety
- I have realised that my aspirations of multi-blog occupancy was over ambitious
- I will be bringing knit/craft/art postings back to projectforty and I will put the woefully neglected outpost of craftdelight to bed for a while

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

i love a downward trend....

As you know I'm weighing myself on the somewhat inconsistent wii fit contraption. I am pleased to report that I have lost another whole English lb (pound!). It's chucking it down with rain so there'll be no bike ride tonight although am pleased to report I managed a homeward bound swim at our local pool.

I feel Davina calling. I've borrowed one of her DVDs from a friend. I just need to clear out the playroom before I bounce about on a little kickboxing-fest.

I don't often visit the playroom. I don't even call it the playroom as our medium-sized children use it more now for playing console games and computering. Where's the play in that? It does need a bit of a makeover though. G has been re-arranging the bookshelves. Even though I don't go in there very often I like the books to be arranged how my inner alphabetical control freak likes them. I won't tell him. It will be a surprise!

I've been reading about the Kindle, Amazon's techy book-reader thingy. Does anyone know how it compares with others like the Sony one? I'm keen to give it a try but I get the feeling I can only order it from the States and I really don't want to get something that I won't be able to re-charge or use over here.

On a less technological note, I borrowed JA's 'P&P' from the school library today. It's the next classic on our book club list. I'm going to try my very hardest to give it a proper go. Daphne du Maurier got short shrift. Couldn't be bothered with the first wild, windswept paragraph. Far too dreary and soppy for my liking.

Am reading Sophie Dahl's 'Playing with the Grown-Ups' which I'm enjoying. I did a library trawl last week and also picked up a couple of titles by someone called Cotterill. I've never come across a name that rhymes with mine. They're about Laos.

Anyway...enough randometry.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

summer lovin',..

My involvement with our local village fete has been somewhat limited this year by my re-entry into the job market, my run of domestic upheaval (won't go into that again) and my determination to spend a little more time writing and creating. I can't do everything and I have had to be strict and remove myself from various committees and activities whilst practicing the mantra "I'm sorry, I've got so much on now, I don't think I can".

I helped at the fete and it was a wonderful occasion, as always. Almost everyone comes to the fete and it's great to see the gathering come together. As I understand it, the traditional date is the second Friday evening in June, from 6.30pm. It finishes at around nine and is, I believe, one of the most profitable two hours I've seen in motion.

All good fun and a slice of traditional British life down to the cider and the sausages and the chipped crockery donated to the white elephant stall.

Since my Friday night of altruism and community, my nose has run and my eyes have streamed. As I'm writing I can see the offending pollen bobbing about in the air, just waiting to drop onto my eyelashes. Unless my hayfever medication (which I've been taking since the beginning of May) kicks in, I'm going to have to stay indoors until September.

I've bought myself some short shorts in order to prepare the milk-bottles that are attached to my bottom for summer sunning on holiday in Turkey. I now have to remind myself not to wear wellies while gardening as this will result in brown thighs and knees, white shins and ankles. My ability to tan unevenly is unsurpassed but I must concentrate and, at least, attempt brown summer legs. If I don't lose any weight doing projectforty, at least they'll look slimmer if tanned.

Projectforty is going rather well. I've lost 3lbs over 2 weeks and am now doing the circuit every couple of days very early in the morning. Apart from the hayfever, I'm feeling fitter and brighter during the day. I'm convinced this is more to do with the smugness engendered by early morning exercise. Even if I eat half a packet of custard creams out of boredom, I can console myself that I'd biked for 40 minutes before the kids have woken up.

By the way: Cluck-ometer = 0 eggs. Bets are still being taken.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

school run photo story

It's easy to take small things for granted...especially the things we see every day

Calendula seedlings pop up in most unexpected places.
This is the first year the peonies I moved seven years ago have bloomed. I won't move peonies again.
The climbing rose that appears each year...

Above the tiny lavender plants I planted beneath them

The allotment, shared with my neighbour.

The bunting is all my own work...

Evidence of my pale green fingers.

The cause of my virulent plot-envy. The walk to school may be short but it's emotional.


Finished school work for the week and, if I say so myself, I have made some progress.

The village fete kicks off tomorrow night. I have white elephant responsibilities and still-purple toes. There must be someone looking over me.


I wore my asda trollop shoes to book club this week. They are the height of fashion and I saw them in Grazia magazine. 18 quid is not a high price to delude myself that I can still get away with such silliness. I'm not sure book club was the place for them. I wanted to try them out and to make sure they didn't rub (they did not). However, the bicycle riding was a challenge and I felt a little silly in them. I do like them though and have since found another ridiculous (and cheap) pair of shoes. I don't even want to wear these impulse-purchases every day. I just like to know that if I need to do a bit of street-walking I'll have the right equipment. A woman has to be prepared in these modern times. I think I'll do my next photo story on "inappropriate shoes for the over-40s" - pros and cons...


Sunday, 7 June 2009

must take photos

Taking pictures is the main casualty in my focus on being healthy and getting my body moving. I feel sad as I was enjoying the process and I'd just started to think about how I wanted to frame my compositions and visuals. Hey ho. Something's got to give but it does make the place look bare. A little too minimalistic in my view.

So...what's new? Well, I've done days 1-5 of projectforty2009. A random list of things what have happened:

- I've got more energy (until about 9pm when I collapse in bed with a book on my face)

- We watched 'Burn after Reading' (hilarious, I really mean it, Pitt & Clooney, completely bonkers).

- We watched 'Boy with the Striped Pyjamas' (simply upsetting)

- We watched 'Slumdog Millionaire', swiftly borrowed today by my neighbour (amazing, even on a smaller screen and in the living room)

- I went to the gym

- I went for a swim

- I did stretches and crunches and weights EVERY morning

- I've weeded and cherished every soggy seedling on the allotment (it feels that way, anyway)

- I've knitted one whole sweater for O (it's too big, but who's measuring)

- I've made a mess in my room, the one that everyone else seems to like being in

- I made cake and flapjacks (and did not lick bowls/spoons or spatulas)

- I've almost entirely eradicated non-meal snacking from my life

- I've drunk gallons of water and have slightly less rosy cheeks

- I've had a pedicure and have purple toes courtesy of my NBB (New Best Beautician) Jenny in Malmesbury

- I have proper eyebrows and eyelashes (why do eyebrows make so much difference?)

That sounds rather a lot. I'm must be due a slump, a hiatus (?), the complementary lull to this hyper-activity.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

moving swiftly on...

Have lost 3lbs since Monday. "Congrats" I hear you gasp! I fear this is due to the sensitivity of the wii. The batteries on our scales have long since been exhausted. I am too tight and too time-pressed to source the appropriate paracetomol-shaped variety. Therefore, I am reduced to measuring myself on the wii-fit.
It's a pernickety and sensitive object, much like myself. One day it says one thing and the next, it, well, says another, much like myself. It takes a while to get going, much like myself. It also tells me useless information, similar to my own tendency of imparting great and nonsensical facts to anyone who stands next to me for more than five minutes.
I also weighed myself on the scales at the gym this week. They are much better scales - they tell me I am half a stone lighter than the wii tells me I am. Perhaps I shall only weigh myself at the gym. Not only am I 7lbs missing, I'll also have to weigh myself a lot less as I don't go often enough, thereby reducing the risk of Minimal Weight Loss Misery Syndrome (MWLMS).
I voted today. That was fun. I wanted a copy of the ballot paper for the 17 European candidates to put on my fridge to help explain democracy to the kids. What a a farce - and who are all these people? I'm just glad I'm not Gordon Brown. I bet he won't get a wink of sleep tonight and that's not going to help his general demeanour. He's got to keep his strength up, poor man.
* work is finished for the week, on to knitting and the weekend. Have booked eyebrow shape, eyelash dye and pedicure for Saturday. I hear it's going to rain so I wanted to do something productive. At least my extremities will be improved - just the bit in between will need further attention!
Chicken update: no eggs as yet, pecking order established, I am becoming obsessed and find them weirdly yogic.

Monday, 1 June 2009

2, 4, 6, 8, who do we......

Numbers, statistics, data....these are the things by which we measure progress. I have thought long and hard about writing my vital statistics down on a piece of paper. The thought of exposing weight, girth and volume on the world-wide-webby is simply non-negotiable - even to my select and, I'm eternally grateful, supportive readers.
The hairs on my neck are standing on end at the thought of telling anyone that my waist is somewhat thicker than it needs to be or that the reason my feet are flat is the *&(^$ number of extra pounds I'm carrying.
Therefore, dear supportive reader, I've decided to do numbers in reverse order.
As this is Day 1, we are at zero and any pounds lost will be recorded, as will any inches.
It seems to me that inches are the big deal around here. I had a mild flirtation with the gym and its marvellous counting machines last year and found that although I felt rather smug and almost fantastic after sweating profusely one day and only sweating mildly the next, my desire for shrinkage was not met. Yes, I felt fitter and yes, there was a slight firming of the muscles but shrink I did not. I did not get smaller in the waist or thigh department, I merely replaced wobbliness with muscles of slightly less wobbliness.
I will not deny that firming and fittening up are likely to be pleasant by-products of the next 40 days but my main focus is to get a little smaller, particularly in the waist department. Middle aged spread is not a myth. It can, it seems, become a physical inevitability.
On another matter - I'm worried for Susan Boyle. I haven't read all the press but I feel sorry for her. She's clearly not made for the world of telly and celebrity and fame. I suspect she wishes she could go home and make it all stop.
On another, and final, matter - when do you think our new chickens will lay eggs? J has optimistically opted for 6th June, I'm going for 24th. Answers via the comments page please by 5th June. There might be a prize...