Sunday, 23 August 2015


Now that youngest son has reached the age of sixteen , I can feel this childhood slipping through my fingers like sand on a beach.

First it was the the big teddy bear clear out ( traumatic to put it mildly ) when youngest wanted to update his bedroom . I managed to secret a few of my favourites under my bed. The de-cluttering experts would have a fit and that woman who has written the Magic of De-cluttering or whatever its called ( don't pretend you don't know who I mean ) would be hyper-ventialting. They'd have us believe that if you haven't worn a clothes item in over a year, it's time to fling it out. So does the same apply to teddies? If they haven't been hugged in over 12 months it's curtains ?

The trouble is , every time I peer under the bed and see their beady little glass eyes peering out imploringly , I can't bring myself to suffocate  bag them up in a bin liner bound for the charity shop. We've already shipped out 3 carrier bag-fulls of soft toys and I had to get youngest to take them in to the shop, for fear I might attempt a last minute retrieval . I sat in the car and shed a little tear.

You see, bears are not just for Christmas in my view. I can remember buying each and everyone, the heartbreak of having to choose just one, leaving all the others on the shelf. I would have to look into all their hairy little faces and decide carefully which one was really meant to come home with me. It was usually a twisted ear or a wonky eye that would do it ... always a sucker for the under-dog. I can remember placing them on top of the boys' Christmas Santa sacks so that just their sweet floppy arms were dangling over the edge. Is it any wonder that I can't bear ( no pun intended) to part company ?

Last week, we lined them all up on bed and sealed their fate - stay or keep . How are you meant to make a decision like that ?

Jack the cat joined in , looking very smug at the back , knowing he was a keeper. See that wooly sheep in the middle foreground ? I bought that for eldest son ( 2nd Shepherd ) for his very first Nativity play. He wore the inevitable tea-towel on his head secured with a roped curtain tie-back and clutched his little 'sheepy-peep' toddling from one side of the stage to the other where all three shepherds seated themselves around the red and orange cellophane 'fire' .... and there he proceeded to roast it over the make-believe flames of what he thought looked like a BBQ ! Of course Shepherds one and three did likewise and they brought the house down, not literally but I wouldn't have put it past him. I was mortified at the time, thinking the other parents must have thought we indulged in a spot of live animal sacrificing at home and that the RSPCA would come knocking any minute. I can see the funny side of it now and much to his irritation I like to trot that story out from time to time. 

Then there's piggly wiggly - you can just see his curly tail sticking up at the back. His name had to be pronounced in a Tennessee drawl - don't ask me why - it was just what we did. You see they each have stories and memories attached - oh just spotted Hedwig's claw poking out. I've got to stop, I'm filling up.

So it didn't end there . Today I decided to clear out our enormous kitchen cupboard . We don't have many fitted kitchen units - it's all a bit free-style - we were way ahead of the trend. It started with the intention of clearing the top shelf to re-instate my cookery books which had ended up on another floor ( that's a whole other blog post ) but ended up with the Full Monty de-clutter ( yes Miss 'Magic of De- Cluttering', I can do it when the mood takes me ) which took around three hours. How many jars of honey can one family own and what's with my mustard fetish ?

So I ended this gargantuan task sorting through a huge enamel tin of paper cake cases. Most peeps will have a dozen or so but I seem to have acquired the National Collection. Time for some of them to go. Another tearful trauma. Much like the teddies, each one had a story . There were the Golden Jubilee street party red/white and blues, then there were eldest son's school Halloween party ones ( he was six and he's now twenty - do the maths ) and the chocolate truffle mini ones for the teachers last Christmas and the Easter bunny ones ... and the 8th Birthday party ones ... and .... and....

It was all a bit hopeless and I hadn't even started on the birthday candle-holders tin. Maybe I'll leave that for another day when I'm feeling stronger and go read a chapter of that wretched 'Life-changing Magic of chucking out everything that ever held a happy memory' book. I'm not converted ... yet.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Hey Little Magpie Blog post for August

Up on the Hey Little Magpie blog today - not one , not two , not three but FOUR layouts - been super busy this month. Sneak peeks below.

Please take a peak here and if you have time, leave a comment.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015


... or Great British Bake Off in case you've been living under a rock,  is back with a vengeance. Wednesday nights are now sacrosanct and the KitchenAid has been dusted off in honour although I don't think I'll be tackling a Madeira cake or a Black Forest Gateau any time soon.

I have decided to dress up in the style of the preceding episode's loser so this evening I will be sporting a natty little hat which I shall not remove for the entire evening even though I'll be indoors and am just off to the tattoo parlour for a quick all over with the ink injector. God help me if prison man ( Paul Hollywood / Richard Branson lookalike) burns his buns this week or I'll be having to grow a bread and have a sense of humour bypass op by next Wednesday.

Just wondering what our trainee anaesthetist might conjure up this week - possibly a spot of gas and air in his soufflé ?

Sunday, 26 July 2015

R.I.P Teddy

In honour of a life well lived.
 He was so well loved. 
 Rest in Peace Teddy.

1925 - 2015

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Moped Ted

My husband's father Teddy is a remarkable man. On the cusp of 90 and having lived the most extraordinary life, I realised this morning that with his wife Pam , sadly now deceased , between them they were responsible for bringing 3 children into the world , who themselves brought 8 children into the world between them who subsequently brought their own children into the world , numbering 6 in total plus another 2 on the way . That is a grand total of 3 children, 8 grandchildren and 8 great- grandchildren.

Not only is he possibly one of the kindest, most generous and selfless people I know , but he is also one of the most resilient and resourceful. He was still riding his moped into his 89th year hence the nickname Moped Ted.

Having survived Tuberculosis as a young adolescent , he went on to survive WWII in Britain through the 1940's , being rather unfairly called an 'alien' due to his Swiss nationality , putting out fires on London's rooftops as a Fire Warden.

His skills were revered as a film cameraman in the early 1950s,  joining Independent Television when it first started and rising through the creative ranks to become one of the best - loved and admired Lighting Directors at London Weekend Television. His retirement was well-earned but such was his reputation that he still continued to work into his seventies.

Of course behind every great man there is a tower of patient, resilient and supportive strength - the wife . Pam was equally adored by all that knew her and together they soldiered life's ups and downs as every stoic couple of their generation seems so capable of doing - A lesson to us all.

I feel very lucky to have had their love and support over the years since my marriage to their son David, especially as my own parents were tragically taken from me in my twenties. I can still remember the twinkle in Pam's eyes as she cheekily had a quick ciggie in the garden , a little merry from a large glass of sherry - both hers and my favourite tipple.

I am thinking of Teddy in his hospital bed as I write this and praying for a peaceful and dignified ending as he nears the end of his glorious life. What better legacy to leave than the admiration and affection of not one, not two, but three generations of offspring, all of whom have benefited so enormously, in ways they may even be yet to discover, from knowing this wonderful man.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

BEYOND excited !!!

Yes , I don't like to use a proliferation of exclamation marks but this warrants three.

I am BEOYND excited to the point that I'm going to have to invent a whole new word to describe my excitement.

On 27th September I will be singing ( alto ) Karl Jenkins' The Armed Man : A Mass for Peace with VfH ( voices for Hospices ) at Kempton Park in the presence of none other than the composer himself.

I can barely contain myself ! It is my favourite composition in the world, by the most talented composer and all in aid of one of the best causes in the world. Oh My ! Just ordered the score and I'm going to start practising straight away. Yippee !

Bargain hunting

I don't often go to Hobbycraft but it seemed rude not to stop in the other day as I was passing . Things have changed a little since the DoCrafts and Papermania only days. They now stock all sorts of good brands including one of my favourites - Little B. I adore these tiny 3mm wide washi tape rolls - gold on white .

Had to get one of each design as they were in the clearance section at half price as were the Thickers ( Kitten - one of my favourites ) , some eensy teensy Tim Holtz letter stickers and some vellum card inserts . You never know when they might come in handy ... maybe for Christmas cards, which stand about as much chance of being made as a snowflake's chance in hell !

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Are these people really grown-ups ?

Every now and then I go on Facebook . It takes me about 2 minutes to realise why I don't make a habit of it. The bragging season is upon us. Not content with boring us all with close-ups of the £4.35 cup of coffee they've just bought ( more fool them ) they've now moved on to bigger and better things. We're treated to an eyeful of some ludicrous cocktail they're sipping on the balcony of the sort of hotel they know full well that most people will never be able to afford in the kind of resort that has less to do with travelling but everything to do with bragging.

I used to know people like this. They were in my primary school, sitting at the front of the class with their hands raised higher than everybody else's shouting " Miss, Miss .... me Miss .... me ". They might as well have had NOTICE ME plastered on their foreheads. Facebook was invented for them. They've never really grown up. They have to tell the world that their holiday is bigger and better. They've had a modesty bypass and they're gonna tell the world about what a far superior time they're having than any of us.

The kind of post I love is ... bugger ... the washing machine has just packed up . Now that's real life and gains my utmost respect. Or maybe ... oops forgot to shave my bikini line - now that's more like it . This week I'd have posted ... how do I get rid of chin hair ... or .... why do mosquitos like me so much or even .... cat's just puked on freshly laundered duvet. Of course I'd then have had to take selfies with me and cat's puke or snap-chatted a few hundred disinterested morons or tweeted it to the masses or maybe I should just pretend that the duvet cover in question was a real silk,  2000 thread count, gold plated , Versace designed little number in a 10* billionaire's resort on the other side of the world . Nah ... not my style.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Hey Little Magpie - Blog Post for July

Some sneaks of my layouts using Studio Calico's Amelia collection for this months blog post for Hey Little Magpie - go take a look and if you like what you see... please leave a comment.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Proud Mum

Last week was a whirlwind of end of term activities . It always catches me out - I know it's coming but I never seem prepared. It didn't help that we were in the middle of a heatwave. For some bizarre reason I thought it would be nice to hold an impromptu celebratory party picnic on the school fields before Speech Day which turned out to be the hottest day of the century. I ended up lugging picnic tables, chairs, ice buckets, cool boxes, trays of canapés and some very heavy bottles of fizz from kitchen to car and then onto the playing fields whilst the ice melted and the canapes wilted and we all nearly died of heat exhaustion.

We then sat stuck to plastic chairs in a marquee whilst the Head of Sports delivered an hour long rundown of every school sporting acheivement from endurance kayaking to tiddlywinks ( I made that one up but we'd all nodded off in the heat by then ) and that was before the speeches had even begun.

BUT it was worth the wait . Whilst I wondered if I might introduce ' extreme picnic endurance' onto next year's sporting calendar , I heard the sound of youngest son's name being read aloud and saw him spring up onto the stage to collect the Senior School prize for Drama - bless all six foot of him .

Very proud Mum .

Friday, 26 June 2015

Hey Little Magpie Blog Post for June

Over on the Hey Little Magpie now - my blog post for June . If you like turquoise , I hope you'll like these.

A little teaser to tempt you over.

Calorie free treats

They look so good I could eat them.

I just ordered from Hey Little Magpie's site - couldn't resist at £2.99 a pop. What I love about their sale is that there's none of that up to ( in tiny print) 50% off - all of their sale items are at least 50%.

I love these Hero Arts Shadow Inks but only had a couple - time to remedy that by expanding my collection. My ink collection is complete ... for now .

Friday, 19 June 2015

Alien Exam Boards

Beginning to wonder if the people at the exam board OCR are really human ?

This morning's Physics GCSE paper bypassed most of the topics that might have proved useful and interesting to our future scientists.... Red Shift, Lunar and Solar Eclipses, the debate on the size of the universe, how to interpret ray diagrams ... and chose instead to ask about the relative merits of establishing contact with alien life form. Yes , that is what they asked.

I've got it ... the question setters at OCR have been invaded by aliens from outer space !

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Summertime .... and the weather is ....

..... freezing . Caught eldest teen putting the heating on the other day - don't blame him.

In anticipation of warmer weather I treated myself to a new bike . Oh my , I'm in love with it .

This may have something to do with its delicious mint ice cream colour or possibly the stylish leather saddle or even just the fact that its a joy to ride. I can see myself peddling through Bushy Park on a regular basis just to take it on a little outing. Beats walking a dog and I won't have to bag up any droppings - what's not to like ?

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Maths Exam - Here I come ...

... to all my wonderful GCSE maths students who are sitting their maths exam tomorrow

  • You have worked hard all year - you deserve all the success that is coming to you
  • Believe in your abilities , you are far cleverer than you think you are
  • Enjoy the experience ...  just think in years to come you will look back at this and marvel at how far you've come
  • Visualise success - see yourself opening that results envelope on the 20th August and picture the smile on your face
  • Get a good night's sleep 
  • Just imagine how good you're going to feel this time tomorrow
  • I have every faith in your ability - Carpe Diem - Seize the day !
  • You CAN do this
  • I am SO very proud of all of you

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Having trouble letting go ?

This one's for you . For all of you would-be de-clutterers having trouble letting go ...

I want it.
I must have it.
I have to posses it.

I own it.
I don’t use it.
I have debt from it.

It owns me.
It has changed me.
It steals time from me.

It blinded me.
It has taught me.
It has helped guide me.

I desire little.
I keep a little.
I am happier with little.

I miss little.
I stress over little.
I was transformed with little.

Of course .... easier read than done.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Weekend in the country

The photos say it all ... and as usual, there's always one with food in it ... well what would a weekend in the country be without a cream tea ?

Monday, 18 May 2015

Hey Little Magpie

I've been putting the Minc gold foiling machine through its paces over on the Hey Little Magpie blog . If you're tempted  go take a peek.

In anticipation of all my wonderful students passing their exams, I'll be making a few more of these cards. The gold foiling looks beautiful on the bottom line although it never photographs well. I must rig up some proper lighting next time.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Figuratively speaking

If I never see another Eng Lit GCSE text again, it will be too soon. That's a shame because the chosen texts have a lot to offer until , that is, you've had to pick them apart with a fine tooth comb for the purposes of passing a GCSE exam.

I've just read and re-read ( and read aloud ) youngest son's texts - his English Literature  exams are next week. The poetry anthology has been given the same treatment. It's been unpicked to within an inch of its literary life and every linguistic device has been identified in microscopic detail as if under investigation by a Scene of the Crime Officer . It truly takes the joy out of every word, sentence and paragraph ( list of threes) like a dementor sucking the joy out of a scene in a Harry Potter film (simile) . We've been fumbling around the footnotes ( alliteration )  of every poem for clues as if our lives depended on the evidence ( hyperbole) ..... I could go on .

I'm wondering if there's a better way to teach English. I know we have to encourage tomorrow's writer's to know their onions ( idiom ... no this is getting silly now ) and that the best way to appreciate the writer's art is to study the mechanics of writing but do we have to strip it down like a greasy engine ( ooh exciting - an extended metaphor ) or could we not just read books and talk about the power of words ( a touch of personification ? ) and their influence on us ? Just imagine a class full of year 11s coming in to school , talking about what they felt, imagined and experienced from what they'd just read . Books can truly mesmerise us ( metaphor - no STOP this now ) , change our lives, enrich and empower us but not if it puts young readers off for life.

I'm off to pour a large glass of wine having spent the afternoon dissecting the works of the ever cheerful ( irony ) Thomas Hardy . Enough faffing around trying to finesse the finer points of figurative language ( a spot of alliteration )  -  a nice robust red Rioja awaits ( yes ... you know what that is  ) .

Sunday, 10 May 2015

There are Thank You presents .....

... and then there are THANK YOU PRESENTS  and this falls into the latter category !

One of my most delightful pupils has just presented me with this chocolatey extravaganza which she made with her Mum. I am speechless with gratitude and looking for a hiding place from the boys who would devour this in one sitting. This amazing Mum has a company called Chocadoodle and she actually gets to do this for a living  as well as being a lovely Mum and having a full time job in education - I don't know how she does it .

For all those pupils sitting SATS exams next week - GOOD LUCK and just think of how wonderful next Friday will feel !

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Good Luck

.. to all those embarking on their first GCSE exam in one hours time - English Language.

Don't worry if you've got butterflies - that's a good thing . It comes from our hairy ancestors - the flight or fight adrenaline thing . It gears you up to do your best.

Visualise success - picture that results sheet with your name on it and that grade you've worked so hard to get.

I've been on an exam marking course for one of the major boards - believe me , the examiner is your friend - they're looking to give you marks - they want you to do well too.

Surround yourself with positive cheerful friends whilst waiting outside the exam from - don't listen to  the prophets of doom. "Be yourself , " as Oscar Wilde once said, "Everyone else is taken . "You CAN do this.

Think about when all of this is over - you're going to have one hell of a Summer ! Bring it on

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Every now and then ...

... your children do something that astonishes you - usually the naughty astonishment variety - I'm thinking of the day eldest brought a bottle of green food colouring into school . You would have thought it was St Patrick's day judging by the colour of his classmates' shirts as they emerged at the end of the day. Then there was the unfathomable reason as to why youngest might have thrown his school shoes onto the roof or the day eldest broke the pane of glass in the front door because he'd
 " forgotten his keys ".

But then there's the good astonishment variety , all too rare but all the more wonderful for it. Last night was one of those. I went to see youngest in his GCSE Drama performance at school in front of the examination officer and filmed - no pressure then. He hadn't let me practise his lines with him , had barred me from going anywhere near his group's rehearsals this weekend in our kitchen, forbidden me from looking at the script he wrote unaided.

I wasn't sure what to expect . You could have knocked me down with a feather when he chose to study Drama for GCSE. He'd always thought of acting as 'showing off '  - I knew what he meant. I'm one of those squirming in my seat when I have to watch over exaggerated shouty dramatic performances. So fast forward to 7.30 pm Thursday 29th April - a moment now indelibly etched on my conscious mind and one I will never forget .

Out he walks onto the stage, confident and self assured and delivers what I can only describe as a mind-blowingly powerful performance that left me stunned and sobbing in my seat. He played the part of a man suffering from mental illness on the brink of suicide. So compellingly believable was his performance that I had to stop myself from leaping onto the stage and wrestling the sleeping pills from his clenched fist. So caught up in the moment , a single tear slid down his cheek as he delivered his final line. I could barely breathe.

Watching his classmates hug and congratulate him as he walked off stage reduced me to a blubbering wreck. On the way home he told me how proud he was that he had done something well , adding the saddest footnote ... " I'm not very good at anything but it felt good to do well tonight ".

Oh my wonderful, beautiful boy. You will never realise how talented you are.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The best thing ....

... about finishing an hour long punishing Pilates class is the certain knowledge that you won't have to do it again for another 6 days and 23 hours. Am I supposed to be enjoying it or is it really supposed to be almost impossible?  Two wonky knees and a displaced shoulder doesn't help but I had hoped I might have crawled out with a certain glow of smug satisfaction at the very least .

Well at least my boys have found a practical use for the giant inflatable Pilates ball I bought - extreme volleyball in the garden.

Monday, 27 April 2015

How to help your dyslexic child through exams - Part 1

One of these days I'll write a book about this but in the meantime, here's what I've been doing for mine. This is second time around for me although my eldest was at a Special School at the time of his GCSEs and they were fully on board so my role was merely supportive. This time though , youngest is in mainstream school so there's more to do .

This is neither a prescriptive nor exhaustive list - just my suggestions which are working for us. I realise that for some, these may not be practical. I'm in the lucky position of working freelance so , although financially punitive, I am able to stand down work over the exam period. Do what you can and as much as you're able but don't beat yourself up . Just being around, feeding and re-assuring will go a long way to helping them through this tricky time.

  • Youngest son doesn't understand fully the passage of time - dyslexic children vary in their ability to appreciate how long things take , especially , if like mine , they're also dyspraxic. So I've downloaded a freebie calendar page for May and June ( the exam period for us ) which is available here . I've then cut it into strips and re-assembled it so that it looks like a horizontal timeline. This enables him to read from left to right and actually see each day pass rather than as a rectangular grid which can be confusing. Choose their favourite colour ( orange  = happy ! ) and mark up their actual exams . Not too much information and BOLD CAPITALS . The clearer the better . Only display one month at a time - 2 months can appear daunting.  Keep it Simple. Put it above their desk. Here's mine.

  • Clear your diary of unnecessary things but keep a sensible balance. Not always achievable especially if you work and have other children to take care of , just do what you can sensibly manage. Now's not the time to be away from home - you can live it up for the rest of the summer ! I went away in the middle of May for a weekend and I came home to find my son feeling dis-heartened and dis-oriented having wasted his time trying to revise but not really having stayed on task . Nor is it the time to be doing the whole world favours - so if someone asks you to invest your time or organise something that isn't vital just decline politely with " I'm sorry , I can't help you with that at the moment. "
  • Never under-estimate the power of re-assurance but don't just offer blanket platitudes like " You're doing fine". They know whether they are or not. Make it specific , more like " Well done, now you've got the first 10 chapters read we can tackle the second half "

  • Read to them or download texts from Audible if the titles are available. That's how we've tackled his English Literature text - The Siege by Helen Dunmore - a wonderful book but a bit of a Mount Everest for a dyslexic child.

  • Buy this ! I can't recommend it highly enough . If nothing else it made me feel better just helping him fill it in. We'd already drawn up revision timetables but they were slightly woolly . This very sensibly gets you to do a time budget and also encourages you to compile a rewards list - nothing helps motivation more than the promise of a Domino's Pizza at the end of the week. It also makes you get down to the nitty gritty of prioritising revision. Available from Amazon here and if you're  a Prime member it will arrive tomorrow. I've tried many with my students over the years and this one beats them all.

  •  Build in exercise breaks - a bike ride or a walk . Oxygen in the lungs gets the brain going and so does a glass of water - but if they're dyspraxic make sure it's nowhere near their open books - I speak from experience !
  • Stock up with healthy snacks . We subscribe to Graze boxes - worth their weight in gold at only £3.99 a pop ( the price of one posh coffee ) and they can be delivered weekly or however often you need them. 
  • Don't make them do revision cards unless you really think they're going to work . For a start my son can barely read his own hand-writing and it takes all his effort just to get the mechanics of writing going let alone learn from them. I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom but sometimes you have to do what work for you , not the other 90% of the population. I have bought these for maths and they're working well. 
  • Cook their favourite dinners . They don't need to be Masterchef quality - sometimes beans on toast is just what's needed and change the subject whilst they're eating . It's not the time to girl them on Shakespeare quotes !

I hope the above helps - I'm a Specialist Teacher for children with Special Educational Needs and I'm not sponsored to endorse any of the products I've mentioned above - they just work for us. That's all for now - part 2 to follow.  

Sunday, 26 April 2015

To breakfast ...

... or not to breakfast: that was the question:
Whether 'tis sensible to go for the 1pm performance at the Globe on an empty stomach and suffer
The tummy rumbling slings and arrows of outrageous hunger
Or to grab a bacon butty before the play began.

We opted for brekkie at a brand new hotel in town called the Mondrain . I had an ulterior motive - it was where I once worked for LWT in the entertainment department . We called it the Pink Palace and I loved every minute . Otherwise known as Sea Containers House , it's now been completely remodelled into a beautiful hotel. Well worth a peek , especially as they have a Curzon Cinema in house where you can bring in your Bloody Mary from the outrageously trendy bar to sip whilst you view the latest Art House movie. Beats a luminous blue slushy any day.

Breakfast, or rather Brunch as it was billed, was a fabulous affair - everything you could possibly imagine in a lavish buffet spread, best view in town of St Paul's and a ringside seat for the London Marathon whose runners were sweating their way along the embankment on the other side of the river whilst we scoffed our way through the French pastries.

Off then to the Globe for The Merchant of Venice . This was my idea of indelibly implanting the plot, characters and key quotes on youngest son's brain in time for his Eng Lit exam in a fortnight . Hope it works, although I fear he'll remember more about the pidgeon that pooped within a codpiece's width of us . If I were a pidgeon I think I'd opt for the Globe as my residence too . Richer pickings than the pavement-trodden MacDonalds fries elsewhere in the capital.

Last highlight of the day was renting a Boris bike for the ride back to Waterloo Station. Parting was such sweet sorrow but I feel we may be back before long if only for another shot at brunch.

Thursday, 23 April 2015


Quite by chance I spotted that Pentatonix are singing at the Hammersmith Apollo . Very excited to have got tickets - standing only sadly but I think I'll manage it - there aren't many groups I'd stand for over an hour for so I hope they're flattered .

In case you haven't heard them before , here's s snapshot on You Tube - called The Evolution of Music - a very clever montage through the ages.

Enjoy !

Friday, 17 April 2015

The Hard Problem

Went to theatre last night , well not strictly the theatre itself but our local cinema, where they were screening a live broadcast from the National Theatre of Tom Stoppard's play The Hard Problem. Hadn't read the reviews in advance as I didn't want to spoil it but was keen to see what he'd written after an absence of 9 years .

 I have a bit of a hard problem myself with theatre . I never understand why actors always say they prefer the intimacy of the stage compared to films. That's obviously from their perspective but for the audience I always feel as if I'm listening to a shouting match whenever I go to the theatre.

Always a worry when the opening scene is marginally less attractive than the popcorn you've just bought . Youngest son was happy enough with the bucket sized portion and the bladder-busting sized coke to accompany it . In fact I was surprised he was prepared to come with me but pleased , especially as my ulterior motive was to motivate him in time for his drama performance next week for his GCSE . I could never understand why he chose drama as a subject, always having thought in the past that acting was just showing off.

So , there we are , munching our way through fistfuls of sweet and salty ( why is it that I trough at popcorn like a pig at the cinema ? Think it may be because I think no-one can see me ) trying to de-cipher what the hell is going on as we'd stupidly arrived a few minutes late . It was when we got to the exchange that went something like  .... " why can a chair not believe it's a chair ? Because it doesn't know how to think " ... that I realised I wasn't going to engage with this play. It's the kind of conversation you have when drunk and so I must have a lot of those sorts of conversation. It didn't help that it was delivered in a phoney American accent that seemed to lapse into pseudo Irish every now and then.

That brings me to my next problem with theatre . I applaud the fact that they cast the actors based on suitability for the role but why do they then make them speak in phoney accents ? I think they all need to pass a GCSE in how to speak American ... for the entire duration of the play. It always ruins it for me . Not wanting to speak entirely gloomily about the play I did like the brain-like lighting sculpture that hung eerily above the stage, flickering every now and then, presumably to resemble the firing of synapses.

So, by about the half way mark , when the popcorn had dwindled to the impossibly hard kernels at the bottom of the box and the question of " Do I pee now or wait until the end " had crossed my mind at least twice , I realised that it was all dragging on again . A few more implausibilities reared their ugly heads , don't want to spoil it for you in case you go see it , which made the whole plot silly . And that's my next problem with theatre , you have to condense the whole shebang into a one hit wonder that lasts long enough to warrant the price of a ticket , divides neatly into two halves but doesn't induce bum-numbing anticipation of a G&T at half time. I'm such a philistine but I can't help it .

There was a lot of shouting again at the end and then the denouement where everyone sort of did or didn't live slightly happily ever after and everyone realised that the chair couldn't be a chair because it was a toothbrush and maybe it did have a brain after all.

As we tipped onto the pavement afterwards , I realised I didn't have that lovely life-changing feeling that you get from a good film, even it it does only last for the journey home. At least they don't have to shout all the time in films to be heard and providing it isn't a sequel or a prequel or whatever they call them these days , involves no CGI and isn't made in Hollywood , then give me a well scripted film , (preferably without box office banking celebrities ) any day. There we go - my Philistine qualities rising to the surface again.

On the bonus side at least there was no singing . Don't start me on musicals . If I were ever captured by the enemy, roped to a seat in front of a musical , I would confess everything and shop my own granny if I had one. And did youngest son enjoy it ? Well, I had to explain the philosophy versus psychology debate to him but bless him , he loved the popcorn.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


My Mac has gone into meltdown and I'm lost without it . This post is going to take forever as I'm typing on a mini keyboard from my iPad . The screen keeps disappearing and hideous ads keep popping up which I can't trace or delete or even find the virus to uninstall. Mac's are supposed to be virus free ( the computers that is ... not the burgers ) but this apparently is a myth . Now they tell me.

Anyway a quickie post to report back from Version Scrap - Oh my - what a delight - would recommend anyone to go . Just returned from a weekend trip there with my scrapping buddies. Everything is so refreshingly different to the tat that sometimes goes under the banner of so-called scrapbooking shows here in the UK . Not a peel-off in sight thankfully . Beautiful design , ingenious products , every stall a delight - beautifully presented with real pride and free little gifts , loads of make and takes ... and then there's the red wine and steak frites in the evening . I'll stop there and just show the pics.

So how much stash did I bring home ? Well just this little bag .... honest.

... and here's what it had inside...

love love love the teensy dies

Wooden stamps from a French company called Craft Origine - oh so beautiful and on sale too .

You can never have enough washi tape - check out the cool cats on top

Amazing stand selling such original buttons or rather badges

Couldn't resist these stamps and met the designer of the Art Stamp sets - Zorotte - may just have to check out her retreat.

Loved these people - Simply Graphic . Fr

And my lovely scrap buddies ... and a few new friends. Remember girls ... what happened in Paris stays in Paris !

Monday, 23 March 2015

Is it just me ....

... or does 99% of M&S womenswear look like a jumbled mess of cast-offs and polyester nightmares ?

I've just trawled through the entire tops and T shirts section and can't find a single item that would persuade me to even try it on let alone buy it.  My granny ( if I had one ) wouldn't be seen dead in most of it . There's a slug green shapeless top that looks like it's got a couple of bin bags glued on as pockets . Then there's the promisingly titled bird T shirt that looks like a couple of vultures are about to peck each-other's eyes out ... something called a tonal bubble hem something - goodness only knows what that's supposed to mean let alone look like.

If you click on the item it will show you a model wearing said item. I thought that might make them look a tad more appealing but judging by the bored look on their gormless faces , well their expressions speak volumes.

Can't find one single thing worth a second glance What are M&S playing at ?

Saturday, 14 March 2015

I've Been Framed

Head on over to the Hey Little Magpie blog where you can find my latest projects ....

A little teaser of a taster .....

... and if you feel so inclined , please leave a comment on the Hey Little Magpie blog - always appreciated !

Saturday, 14 February 2015

A Stitch in Time ...

... over on the Hey Little Magpie blog .

Please take a look at my February layouts for Hey Little Magpie using Amy Tan's Stitched collection.

Sneak peeks :

Thanks for looking !