During an idle moment I decided to check out vacancies at the BBC for no particular reason other than sheer curiosity . Having worked in TV for a couple of decades a while back, I wondered if it might tickle my fancy to go back to TV production. Regular income, like-minded colleagues, regular hours (ish) , creative ... what's not to like ?
A quick scroll through the Sits Vac informed me that I could apply to become a Data Migration Manager ( counting swallows ? ) , a Supplier Relationship Manager ( sounds saucy ) , a Talent Pool Sales Executive ( swimming's not my strong point ) , an Extendee ( no idea ) , a Cynorthwy -ydd y Cyfryngau ( apparently ) ... ah here's one I understand .... a Principal Viola ( player I assume not the actual instrument ) .
No actual jobs making TV programmes interestingly.
Sounds kinky I know . Second thought that comes to mind are those ghastly adds for personal injury claims. Well I'm not into kinky and I don't hold with this country's obsession with the blame culture BUT ... I now know whiplash is very real and very painful . Haven't been able to hold my head up all week without wincing . I was rear-ended by a speeding driver ... in my own road last Tuesday and I've been paying the price ever since. I didn't think the accident was to blame as I'd woken up with a headache anyway . However according to the doctor and the chiropractor ( both of whom are my new best friends ) a pre-existing headache just makes the symptoms of whiplash more severe . They are both utterly convinced that is what I have .
Can't begin to describe the gnawing pain . It's there , all day every day like a bad toothache times ten. Can't sleep , can't sit down , can't stand up , can't lie down without this awful pain. Everything seems to make it worse. Anyway , counting the hours ( 25.45 to be precise) until my next appointment with Mr Chiropractor and praying that treatment will provide some respite from this misery.
For all of you fellow whiplash sufferers out there - you have my sympathy.
.... over on the Hey Little Magpie blog tomorrow , my layouts for February . Guess what - they feature a lot of hearts and a lot of pink paper ... apart from the last one which is an antidote to the pinkness oF Valentines Day.
I listened entranced to Woman's Hour yesterday. It was a suitably New Yearish topic - de-cluttering. All you had to do was stop shopping and you'd be cured. I managed to do this for 22 hours , possibly a record for me. I generally hate Sales - they're usually bogus and lure you into buying something silly that you didn't want and don't need. However I only bought three little things and none of them were impulse purchases. Each of them I believe to beautiful and know to be useful , so William Morris would be proud of me. First up , something that satisfies not only my love of geometry but also earns its keep on my desk by holding my pencils. That's what I went into town to buy and that's what I came home with - and a snip at £2.40 from John Lewis. It's smoked glass and I just love it.
Then there was this ....
My husband bought me a beautiful copper dish designed and made in Scotland by The Just Slate Company for Christmas This little boxed beauty from the same company complements the dish and was reduced in the sale because the cheese knife was missing as you can see from what it says on the label. The lovely lady at the till said " Oh would you like the cheese knife to go with that ? They're out the back " I think the reason they were reduced was because of the missing knife, but bless her, she went and got one for me and popped it in the box at no extra charge !
And finally this . I'd coveted it before Christmas but not at full price. It was a snip at half price and I plan to fill it with guest toiletries and place it in the guest bedroom which has similar curtains and cushions as the design on the case. Love it when a scheme comes together .
So that's it for sale shopping . Don't think I'll be venturing near the shops again for a while .... famous last words of course.
... for girlfriends. Having spent the last 20 years stuffing stockings full of whoopee cushions, fake dog poo and mini plastic toilets full of glow-in-dark-slime ( not that all of these aren't hilarious ) , I finally get to buy gifts for my sons' girlfriends . Oh the joy of buying nail varnish sets, pretty purses to stuff with chocolate coins and sweet tubs of lip gloss ! Ahhh ... just packing up one for eldest son's girlfriend and youngest son is downstairs handing over his gifts to his new girlfriend , although he won't allow me to call her that !
So , this Christmas will be a little pink and frilly . Of course , my boys will still be getting the farting key rings and the rubber band guns - why change the habits of a lifetime ?
I also found these delightful books for my pupils - Penguin classics - a beautiful gift for anyone , beautifully produced and a delight in any stocking.
I also just have to show you a few photos I took at possibly the loveliest shops in the UK - Foxtail Lilly. Last weekend they held a Christmas Brocante Fair - which sadly I missed but I was able to take a few snaps just as the light was fading and the sun was setting over the Northamptonshire hills. The shop is filled with heavenly selections of flowers, all beautifully packaged and delightful vintage items, cards and gifts. You really could do all your Christmas shopping there . Go take a peek if you have a minute ... in fact make a minute !
... leaving my Christmas cards ( those that I still send - dwindling in number ) until the last possible posting date
.... never buying enough wrapping paper but not discovering this until Christmas Eve
... and being wooed by the ridiculous array of silly 'party food' from the supermarkets such as mini hot dogs ... what's the matter with a proper hot dog for goodness sake ?
There's something about the allure of the ad campaign that I fall victim to in a moment of weakness, the media hype about having the 'perfect Christmas and the seige mentality that must come from some neanderthal past gene of thinking that the shops will never be open again and what if we all starve ?
Sadly, there's something else that will never change and that is the tragic loss of life that arises from a senseless act of terrorism in the days leading up to Christmas that rocks us to our core and leaves us speechless with horror and disgust that any human could inflict such violence on another.
To see those children, who survived, pack their schoolbags on the following day, as an act of defiance against the evil perpetrators, is nothing short of heroic.
It puts the choosing of chipolatas into stark perspective and makes me feel idiotically stupid to even consider that Christmas is a chore when mothers across the other side of the world are burying their children.
So, this Christmas, I will be praying for an end to terrorism and counting my blessings that I have my children safe in my arms. That is really all that matters.
No , I'd never heard of it either but then that's because I'm an old fogey. There are 6 teenage boys downstairs wired up to about 4 computers/ game console thingys ( just proving my old fogey status there ) and assorted screens , headphones and I don't know what . It looks like NASA space control and they appear to be having fun , all the more surprising because they've hardly had an hours sleep . There are 3 ( empty ) KFC buckets in the bin and I've been supplying a seemingly endless conveyor belt of carbs since yesterday afternoon. The bacon buttes went down a storm this morning as did the mile high pile of triple chocolate chip cookies that just came out of the overn . I think there may be move to order in a pizza . Needles to say the fruit bowl has remained untouched.
Yes , it's end of term and I'm never happier than when youngest sons invites his mates round on the last day of school . It's good to know where they are and that they're in good company . Lomg may it continue .
Oh ... and LAN stands for Local Area Network apparently - something else to do with video games I guess. Still, it beats the sort of party that goes viral on Facebook and ends up with a wrecked house, a garden full of vomit and various attempts to smuggle in vodka in hip flasks. Thankfully youngest doesn't seem interested in those ..... yet.
... with Gossamer Blue's Christmas Collection. Loving the vibrant colours ... take a peek at the Hey Little Magpie blog to see my post for December . If you've no time to spare ( and let's face it - who does at this time ) then you'll like these speedy projects .
Thought I'd sit down and do a bit of quiet online shopping with a cup of coffee this morning , the first I've had off in I don't know how long and all hell's broken loose in cyberspace.
Yet another import from across the pond . Not enough that we now have to celebrate World Potato Day or buy Happy Second Cousin Twice Removed birthday cards or personalised M&Ms , now we're supposed to beat each other over the head for an outsized telly the size of a small horse ?
Don't we all have enough stuff to last a few lifetimes and beyond ? If I was a savvy retailer I'd skip the encouraging of histrionics and the mad mentality of queueing overnight for a steam mop or having to pre-warn the police that they may have a riot on their hands at dawn and just offer all shoppers who'd placed an order in the last week a 10% off discount any order placed online and be done with it.
And there are some retailers who've completely shot themselves in the foot . Apple for example are only offering deals to US shoppers. Nothing like feeling like you've been left out to encourage brand loyalty eh ?
So, despite the fact that we'd probably all secretly desire a wopchop telly that empties the dishwasher and puts the bins out to boot , let's try and boycott the nonsense and save ourselves a trip to A & E as a consequence of having a microwave fall on our heads from a great height at the feeding frenzy that was Asda this morning. Are you listening retail giants ?
I only wish I could say this was my husband painting the next room on our list to be decorated ... fat chance. He'll be watching the rugby in the other room with a beer in one hand and the sports section of the newspaper in the other.
I refer to this room as the black hole of Calcutta ( must go check out what that actually is , it's an expression I use quite a lot ) . It has no windows as it would have been the dining room but thanks to the kitchen tagged on to the back of the house, what were the French windows are now just doors onto the kitchen. It's been great for TV watching and playstation gaming but I find it disconcerting that you can barely see your hand when you stick it out in front of you . The boys have trodden a decade's worth of popcorn into the carpet , there are nasty unidentified stains hidden under a rug that's seen better days ... oh and a rogue fox that squeezed itself through our cat flap a few summers ago chewed its way through the purple ( yes purple what was I thinking) leather reclining sofa that no longer reclined. It all had to go and not before time.
So ... I have flooded the room with light adding an additional overhead track with 5 more LV spots, the usual assortment of flatpack furniture and a new sofa is on its way ( on the never never ) from DFS. The painters are downstairs now and the carpet will be fitted tomorrow. That's all my hard earned cash since the summer blown in the twinkling of an eye.
Cute little cast iron fireplace but it doesn't half get in the way and the chimney isn't working so it's ornamental only
Trust me to leave it until the last day of the month to upload photos of my layouts for the Hey Little Magpie blog post for September.
Products Used : Probably my all time favourite release - Crate Paper's Notes and Things - delicate , versatile and a gift to scrapbookers.
You almost wouldn't think they'd been made with papers from the same collection - that's how versatile they are. If you'd like more details then pop over to the Hey Little Magpie Blog - and please leave a comment - I'd really appreciate it .
I've just listened to a broadcast on Radio 4 where Paddy O'Connell was interviewing Professor Sir Al Aynsley-Green , the first Children's Commissioner for England . They talked about the emotional upheaval of bereavement in losing a parent at a young age. During the conversation, which was endearingly frank and honest, Paddy talked about how they can't hear the telephone ring in their house without fearing the worst . I felt as if I'd been struck by a thunderbolt of enlightenment. Blindingly obvious I realise , in fact so much so that it made me feel quite stupid. This must explain why in all these years I've been unable to hear phone ring without expecting news of a death or disaster. Both of my parents died suddenly , prematurely and unexpectedly. On both occasions I was notified by phone . Is it any wonder that I can't hear that ringtone without freezing with fear and all the more astonishing that I've reached the age of 56 without realising this ? This must account for why I never phone people, never answer the phone at home without letting it go to answer phone first and carry a mobile which is almost permanently out of charge, much to everyone's annoyance who has ever wanted to get hold of me. Electronic mail has been my godsend. So, to everyone who has been infuriated by my lack of response by telephone, you now know why. You can always send me an email.
I'm planning on taking youngest son up to the Design Museum on Sunday and thought I'd be a good London citizen and use public transport. You can tell where this going can't you ?
If the Thames is supposed to be the arterial waterway Boris would have us believe ... and as we live next to the Thames ... and the Design Museum is also next to the Thames ... it seemed to make sense to travel by water bus.
If we set off at lunchtime, it would be closed by the time we got there ... nearly 5 hours later. Think it may be quicker to walk.
It's always a joy to go to the supermarket ( in this case Tesco ) for groceries and end up with stationery in your trolley. All the more exhilarating because I got to whizz round in their mobility scooter which beats crutches any day. It felt a bit like Supermarket Sweep. Here's what I swept into the basket on my scooter and all for around £20 . Fabulous bargains.
The vintage Box Brownie is actually a pencil sharpener and the Sharpies were only £2 for a pack of five. I never know where all the Sharpies go in our house - I can never have too many.
I loved the colours of these notebooks with the doodled frames on the front . Those little penguins are also pencil sharpeners. My students will love those.
As eldest teen was raving it up at Reading Rock Festival and Husband was accompanying his elderly father on their annual pilgrimage to the Swiss Alps , I decided to take myself and youngest teen off for a two night mini break. Being on crutches and unable to drive any distance, the location had to be nearby and so this was how I hit upon a local Hilton Hotel about 3 miles down the road in the grounds of the very lovely Syon Park House.
Once you've climbed out of the car and lugged your bags up to your room, the location doesn't actually matter and as it peed permanently with rain for the 48 hours we were there , thank goodness we didn't opt for the seaside or, in fact, anywhere further than the ten minute drive it took.
I wasn't sure what to expect when we arrived to find an impossibly long Hummer limo parked at the entrance, a Full Monty Indian wedding complete with Bangra drummers in full swing and a large sign reading ' Jehovas Witness Convention in Session' taking pride of place in Reception ... oh and Fulham Football team expected at any moment. You really couldn't make it up.
The rather churlish man at the Reception desk took great delight in telling us that they were exceptionally busy, as if to inject a slight note of doom into our expectations and that we'd have to wait for our bags to be taken up to our room ... there are some bonus points to being on crutches and portering is at least one of them.
We decided to have a light (but very expensive) bite in the bar area, bizarrely called the Peacock Lounge which was incongruously furnished with pale blue (nice) and lurid purple (not so nice but I guess this was the peacock bit) upholstery, peppered with neon Andy Warhol prints and a smattering of arty farty art books.
A quick trip to the Spa followed, which although dark and underground, this barely mattered as it was chucking it down outside and we needed no reminder of the typical onslaught of Bank Holiday weather that blights this August weekend every year. More plush purple. I think Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen must have been let loose with a purple paint chart on the place. Every item of furniture was silver lacquered and mirrored to within an inch of its life.
Nice pool (a bit on the cool side), nice enough jacuzzi but also open to children which you don't expect at a Spa. I was hoping for more Papmpering than Pontins but hey. Incidentally why do all children scream these days or am I just getting older ? The stray band-aid poolside was a bit of a turn-off and left me wondering what fungal foot infection I might contract by the end of our stay.
I'd booked a pedicure and a facial. The former was OK but took too long and I didn't expect a wedge of loo roll stuffed between my toes to separate them - don't they have those foam rubber things for that ? No quick dry spray or top coat either, so the therapist suggested I wait another half an hour for my tootsies to dry - no thanks - too much of the LLB ( see named designer above ) factor is NOT a sight for sore eyes.
I also had a facial. Now I just don't get facials I'm SO not a spa bunny but every few years I think I might have changed and give it a go. Why would anyone want to lie prone under a ghastly purple velvet throw and have layer upon layer of lardy gunk smeared over their face by a complete stranger ? The back started to ache after the first half hour and I feared I might be captive for another hour (judging by the painfully slow pedicure experience) with that brain-numbing endless loop of Manuel and his Inca Pan Pipes music oozing out of the purple metallic wallpaper. Worse was to come as the pan pipes segued seamlessly into Amazonian Rainforest sound effects which only served to remind me that it was pissing down with rain outside and that I was bursting for the loo.
I'm hoping that another decade will pass before I'm tempted to try another spa by which time I'll have eradicated the whole athlete's foot , noodling whale song, plush purple palace decor experience and give it another go.
Dinner was eagerly anticipated and did not disappoint but at a price. It was called the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, so one felt obliged to eat steak but how mean to charge a piddling extra sum for a blob of Bernaise Sauce on the side. I hate that kind of thing. The restaurant walls were emblazoned with black and white photographic portraits of the moody chef in case you were left wondering who he was. A signed chef's jacket was encased in glass which made me giggle, as if he were a premiership football idol. In fact this prompted an impromptu game of spot the MPW portrait game and by the end of the evening we had counted no less than 37 ( also to be found in the lifts, toilets and every glass case on every landing). I half expected to find a pair of his underpants preserved in formaldehyde, Damien Hirst style , amongst the displays.
We asked for hot chocolate to end the meal but were told they had 'run out'. How bizarre, the same had happened at lunchtime when I'd ordered a glass of cider with lunch. Had the hotel been invaded by a plague of hot chocolate cider guzzling addicts the day before ? Never mind although after waiting twenty minutes to be told this, after my son had gone to bed, they offered to send up some hot milk to his room as I'd be unable to carry it myself being on crutches. This was unlikely to cut the mustard for my chocaholic boy but I accepted their offer. How galling therefore to find that £11 had been added to our bill for the privilege.
I feel guilty speaking badly of the place especially as most of the staff were friendly and cheerful, with the exception of the surly man in Reception. This grumpy individual also delighted in telling us that no we would not be able to access the in-room computer as promised in the blurb before we'd booked as there were no keyboards available. Try persuading a 15 year old teenager to come away for the weekend with his Mum to a hotel that has - YIKES - NO INTERNET !!! Apparently all the Jehovas Witnesses had nabbed them ... obviously contacting God's Kingdon via the Wi-Fi. No. he couldn't tell us if any of the 40 out on loan would be returned before our departure and no their IT chap was on holiday so couldn't advise. Wished we'd brought our own laptop but then when the Hilton Hotel tells you something is available, you tend to believe them.
I could bang on for another few pages and it must sound as if we had a ghastly time but actually it was still fun and restful despite the wall to wall MPW portrait gallery, the purple overkill, the absence of hot chocolate ( a heinous crime actually ) and My Grumpy on Reception, which just goes to show how tolerant and polite we are and determined to enjoy ourselves ... at any price.
Postscript : Having slept on it, I've now realised what the true meaning of a holiday, however short, actually is. It's so that we appreciate what we have in our own homes all along, a comfy bed, hot chocolate on tap and no sour faced man on Reception ,well, with the exception of husband of course.
I'm over the moon as all of my students have passed their English or Maths GCSEs despite their learning difficulties. I am OH SO proud of you all .
Made some congratulation cards on my Silhouette Cameo machine and they'll be whizzing off to the shiny red post box on the corner of our road any minute now.
In fact I want to wish every student who has achieved what they needed in their GCSE exams despite what Michael Gove has thrown at them.
We've all seen the photos of those whose grade results were bursting at the seams with A* grades. They've been snapped by the broadsheets jumping for joy and hugging their friends, safe in the knowledge that their abundance of academic riches will secure whatever option they choose to pursue next ... but I'm particularly and utterly exhilarated for those who scaled unimaginable mountains to achieve the ultimate reward - a pass in a subject which may have seemed insurmountable a few short months ago.
They are the real heroes - the students whose confidence has been continually challenged , the students who've felt they'll never amount to anything , the students who have been excluded from school for their challenging behaviour through no fault of their own, the students for whom the task of battling an uninvited learning difficulty must have felt like a Royal Marines Assault Course.
I wish them many many years of unbridled success because they are the young men and young women who really deserve our praise and heartfelt pride. A 'C' or a 'D' or an 'E' grade to a child who has never felt able to decipher the print in a textbook, who has never appeared on the roll-calls of honour or has never topped a league table has achieved more than all the A* grades put together.
Couldn't sleep last night - daunted at the prospect of grappling with Wordpress, with which I'm not familiar, in order to upload my very first post to the new Hey Little Magpie Blog. Needn't have worried as it was pretty straightforward in the end ( she says as nose grows long Pinnochio style ) .
Anyway , enough of all that. I think I'm allowed to post a peak or two on my own blog after it goes live, which was today , so here's a couple of pictures to whet your appetite.
But please pop on over to the Hey Little Magpie blog to see the rest of the pictures and do leave a comment if you can . There's a heap of talent in the Creative Team as you'll see from all of the members' posts and there will be a new post up every other day . A feast for the eyes !
... that I've been selected to join the brand new Design Team for Sarah's Cards , now known as Hey Little Magpie !
To say I"m thrilled would be stating it lightly but I can't think of a word to sum up how excited I am at the prospect of designing for THE best scrapbooking retail team out there - thank you Sarah and Lianne .
The Design Team are one talented bunch and I'm very proud to be a member. Watch this space for more news .
Err ... that would be money. Sad but true. The 'Experience' vouchers rarely get used , the book tokens are a non-starter and apparently iTunes vouchers are so last year . You might as well get them what they really really want and try as I might to choose , what to me, seems like a fun game for youngest teen ( 15 years old this year ) , somehow the Smurfs' Karaoke Hits or Pokemon Art Academy isn't going to hit the spot ( thank goodness).
So , rather than just dole out cash , I thought I'd make a money wallet. I found this one , called 3d Book of Money, in the Silhouette Cameo online store - by Jamie Cripps for 59p ( Design 52083).
Here's how it came together :
Black card stock seemed pretty cool for the base. The design is a pretty straightforward accordion- style mini book but the Cameo does it in a trice and every page is the same size whereas me and my trimmer wold probably come up with 4 slightly varying lengths which would look wonky when put together, especially as I probably wouldn't be able to find one of the 20 pairs of reading specs I've got scattered around the house.
Cut 4 of the page pockets and front panels - I chose one of my favourite woodgrain papers ( Pebbles - Fresh Goods - Come Again) score lines are done for you ( LOVE my Cameo ).
The backs are decorated with credit card sizes panels for which I chose a similar woodgrain paper in a lovely charcoal colour ( Basic Grey - Granola - Wholesome) . To be honest you hardly see these when the book comes together so you could skip this stage.
Then it's just a case of assembling the pockets by attaching to the accordion fold spine using strong double sided tape.
..and you end up with this.
I then cut some basic computer game geeky type shapes from my Cameo to embellish the fronts of each pocket ( Computer Mouse 9581 , Computer Monitor 14511 and Headphones 20233 ) in black card stock. Final touches - add money. A tip for those having a go at making one of these - the US design obviously is based on dollar notes . Tenners are bigger than dollars so you may want to adjust the height of the pockets to account for this . Mine just about fitted but only just.
Lastly assemble the slip cover that slots onto the end to keep it all in place . I made mine from the same Pebbles woodgrain paper . I then added a title cut from gold glitter POW (American Crafts) on the cover - GET YOUR GAME ON ( 42708 ).