Thursday, 23 April 2015

Pentatonix

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

Paris

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 !

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Curiouser and Curiouser

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.




Monday, 26 January 2015

Whiplash

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.


Thursday, 15 January 2015

Love is all we need ....

....  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.












Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Sales

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.



Saturday, 20 December 2014

Thank heavens ...

...  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 !











































Friday, 19 December 2014

Some things will never change ...



... 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.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

We're having a LAN party apparently

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.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Get Happy ...

... 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 .











Friday, 28 November 2014

Black Friday

What the blazes is all this about ?

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 ?



Friday, 24 October 2014

Work in Progress

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






I shall update you shortly. 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Hey Little Magpie - October Blog post

Come on over to the Hey Little Magpie blog for some Autumnal inspiration . Three new layouts using My Mind's Eye papers from the Jubilee Tangerine range.












Monday, 6 October 2014

Somebody stop me...

... I've just been online and ordered 2 boxes of Christmas crackers and a felt dove for the tree and it's only October.

It could have been worse , I nearly went for the life-sized polar bear.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Hey Little Magpie - September Blog post

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 .








The Blindingly Obvious

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.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Transport for London

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.

Friday, 29 August 2014

New Term ... New Stationery

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.