12 November 2007
Went to a kid's literary quiz this afternoon for work - manning a bookstall - but worked my way onto the authors table and joined in the quiz with them. We beat the kids. Oh yes, get us. We can beat children at quizzes about books. Actually there were kids there getting answers to really tough questions way before us - and in fact, getting the answers that we were never going to get! An amazing calibre of kids there working their way to the national finals. Lots of fun and always a pleasure to meet them thar proper people wot get published; Celia Rees, Gillian Cross, Mark Robson, Val Tyler & Linda Newberry.
Monty has run away from home 3 times this week. Me nerves are ajangle. Last time he ate (one presumes) through a leash to then scale the 7 foot walls of my back garden. First I knew of that particular escapade was the police ringing me while I was out with a bunch of fabsters at the weekend.
The noble rotters gathered on Saturday night for Alimal's birthday. It was ace :) In the afternoon, five of us played our usual 3 par 9 hole golf course which was a blast. Then in the evening, lots more of us got together chez Charlie. I particularly enjoyed getting to chat to people I 'know' but don't get to have proper conversations with that often.
Friday night I went to FNM (Friday Night Meeting) for the first time. It's a free meal for the homeless of Bedford and I went to help out where I could. Such an interesting evening. Very moving but lots of fun too. I suspect it won't be my last visit. Mini-me is doing a sponsored sleep out with a stack of other people in December to raise money for the Kings Arms Project who run FNM, a night shelter, a half way house and a stack of other services for the homeless. I will no doubt be getting back to you about that in the future. Watch this space!
26 September 2007
27 August 2007
hey, big brother read my blog 'cover to cover' once you know so i have to be cautious!
26 August 2007
A friend of mine, whilst at college, was asked by an American tourist where
she might find the baythroom. My friend replied, helpfully, that in England,
people called this the lavatory unless they were actually looking to have a full
body wash. The tourist came back with: do you hayve to be so paytronizing. My
friend replied: I think you'll find it's pronounced patronizing.
A great comment I found on the mighty palimp and it made me roar!!!
25 August 2007
I'd like to be squished down into a brick please and used to build an underwater recreation of Atlantis. Now why on earth did it take that long to think up such an idea?
3 August 2007
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set --
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone's place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotised by it,
Until they're absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink --
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK -- HE ONLY SEES!
'All right!' you'll cry. 'All right!' you'll say,
'But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!'
We'll answer this by asking you,
'What used the darling ones to do?'
How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:
THEY ... USED ... TO ... READ! They'd READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching 'round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it's Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There's Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They'll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start -- oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They'll grow so keen
They'll wonder what they'd ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
30 July 2007
Took a road trip with Alimal to help her sister move back to the UK. It was a lot of fun. Essentially we got to sit and talk to each other for two lots of 12 hours which, given our respective jobs, was a real treat to do so much catching up.
The aller was sharing our histories as punctuated by boyfriends. The retour was our histories by houses. A very interesting way to get to know your best friend. Again.
We also did our top 10 desert island discs which had a few surprises here and there.
Alimal managed to talk me out of doing a tiny detour via Luxembourg and Belgium (so I could get in a couple more countries on my check list). Also I wanted to show her Chantilly, where I lived, visit Thionville where a friend lives and ..... well, we had a ferry to catch so I had to make do with collecting another stamp in my passport.
Great to be able to speak so much French again with Marc, Fidele & Didier.
27 July 2007
Mini-me chose something he wanted to see at the theatre months ago and I had ordered tickets for Wednesday's production of 'Philistines' by Gorky. Wow. A really fantastic production with some amazing acting from the daughter and the father in particular. Best of all was the creme brulee in the interval...no no...i mean, best of all was seeing mini-me enjoying some proper theatre.
Another trip to CLWS in the evening which was ace though marked by the absence of General Pinotage. Wines of North-East Italy. The usual pattern of whites followed by reds and finishing with a dessert wine. If only I lived in London and didn't have to think about the train fares every time I signed up for the next evening. Now looking forward to wines of Albion!
Saw HP5 at the cinema and it was good to see the actors and actresses a few years older and their acting improving. Some very cool scenes. Lots of fun.
Last night the girls whooped the boys at Articulate in small group. As we were winning FOR THE FIRST TIME, the guys proposed we went round the board twice!!! We still beat 'em!
Today I'm meant to be playing golf with the Borrower but I can't get into contact with her :(
Later a gang of us are going to the High Ropes centre in Irthlingborough :)
26 July 2007
10 July 2007
And now for something completely different.
el lodger is going to teach me swahili. i stunned her by knowing one word of swahili. Bwana. It means 'sir' or similar term of respect to a man.
12 days to HP7 and then a weeks holiday to follow.......
...and now to go and pester mini-me for my dinner.
4 July 2007
Last night I had a fabulous 13.5 hours sleep which was long overdue.
27 June 2007
25 June 2007
A couple of Big Brother refuseniks have told me in the last month or so that they are still visiting here so I will try and keep things interesting.
I have a bike. I collected it today. Yes, gripping.
OK, move on. I have pumpkins growing in the back garden and my fennel is over 7 foot now. An interesting looking weed that i took the decision not to pull out at the beginning of the season is now about 6 foot tall and boasting some interesting flowers. The garden has become overgrown to such a delightful extent that i could hide behind the twisted willow and not be seen from 4 foot away.
However, a number of days later as I was out there with the hose pipe i heard NOISES from the garden that could only be our friendly infestation of rats. On balance I probably won't be crawling behind the willow again to prove how dense the undergrowth is.
Work continues undiminished as sickness and holiday strikes leaving me working all the hours the good lord sends. Hey ho. We have an event on the web site for this Saturday evening and if I haven't sold more tickets by tomorrow night you can all look forward to a personal summons arriving in your inboxes within 24 hours!
Church is fab, mini-me is too cool for words and this Botrytis Semillon Riverina Australian dessert wine from Tesco's finest range is a high 2. Mmm, I think I've got time for a second small glass before I go out to Villa Rosa for dinner with the planet's coolest friends.
a bientot mes amis.
4 June 2007
Given the fact that I have been trying to work out wines for a mere 5 months, it was somewhat nerve racking to sit with people who own their own wine companies, come from French wining families and drop into conversation that they have spent time working in South Africa for their Master of Wines certificate. I felt like the Philadelphia girl from some years back who tastes and says "lovely".
Of course that mostly wore off after a few glasses!
We tried Greenstone Chenin Blanc 2005 which I thought tasted a lot like white wine. Then we had 2 different Springfield Estate wines; Special Cuvee and Life from Stone. They had been harvested 2 days apart from each other last year and I was delighted to find that I could distinctly tell the difference between the two. Spurred on by the revelation that I might be able to get the hang of it and the relief of drinking something red, we moved on to a Beyerskloof Pinotage 2006 that made me feel a lot more at home. I have tried the 2005 you see. I dared a comment before the illustrious company and found I liked it more than most. It was damned with 'very commercial' which made me feel like a Tesco whore. Next was an atypical Pinotage by Allee Bleue that I also really liked. An intensely fruity, mocca chocolate wine that understandably made it into the top 10 Pinotages. Then we had the gorgeous Warwick Estate Trilogy 2004. This was less sweet and I rated it joint first with a later wine but I think it can only be bought from the Wine Society. Then we had a the Lammershoek Roulette which was warm, spicy and full bodied. Delicious. Next was the second of my joint top drinks of the night; Luddite Wine's Shiraz. Smoky and delicious. We finished with a dessert wine that was like pudding after a big roast dinner. Nederburg Wine's Noble Late Harvest 2003. Wow. It was like drinking honey. 90% Chenin Blanc, 10% Weisser Riesling. I have searched for this at Morrison's as I was told it could be bought there but to no avail so far.
It was a really good evening. I sat taking notes from the pro's all evening and learning new expressions and bits of information which keeps me happy whatever the subject. I've already signed up for another 2 evenings!
Current technological problems prevent me from showing you the pictures but they will get posted eventually.
The Chilford Hundred label (which needs some serious artwork) comes from the time when the land was divided up into hundred acre plots, giving enough space for an extended family to live self-sufficiently. It threw it down with rain all day so I saw precious little in the way of vines but we were shown round by a very enthusiastic lady who explained history of the winery and reason for the Anish Kapoor sculptures in the gardens!
I now have 2 estate bottled wines; a 2004 dry white & a 2003 medium white. I'm still unconvinced by sparkling wine but a chilled white I can appreciate now.
31 May 2007
23 May 2007
Back from my 1st annual managers conference. I felt ill the whole time I was away and left the free bar at half 12. Sober. Others were there for many hours more. I watched the hangovers downing coffee the next morning. After I'd had 9 hours sleep.
Conn Iggulden made it for me, I think. They should have allowed him to speak for longer. Very funny, engaging man. Louise Rennison was fabulously outrageous. Iain Banks was understated. John O'Farrell, Rory Bremner and others were there too.
The year's round up showed the marathon team who ran for Dyslexia Action and the comment that these were the best legs in the company!
I was caught on film during the day rejoicing in Man Utd's recent loss and was put up on the big screen with others who'd had odd questions sprung on them as they walked from one 'breakout' group to another, searching for water or a cool table to curl up under.
I asked for the vegetarian meal and was served sausages instead. I meant to thank the waiter for the best tasting veggie sausages I'd ever had but I missed him when he came to collect my plate!
Met a strange man with a strange picture of a strange dress and a table full of strange people looking for its wearer. Unnerving.
19 May 2007
I had to buy a posh frock for the annual conference gala dinner next week so I take this dress and cardigan thing into the cubicle. Unlike every other dress I've tried on all afternoon, this one feels like it's designed with a woman's body in mind as opposed to a barbie doll or Kitty from Arrested Development. It's red with white designs, boned top with halter neck, flared skirt a la 50's and comes to just below the knees. Now I'm not harping on about being a fatso here but I'm not as small as I used to be and I'm remarkably pleased with how well it hides my tummy. I step outside of the cubicle to look in a longer mirror and the attendants fall silent. I can see them staring behind me in the mirror. This is not awe. I turn round. 'What d'you think?' I ask tentatively. There is a long pause, I watch the window panes melt. Finally one of them says 'It's nice.' The other then swiftly chimes in 'It's a nice colour'. "Marvellous." They couldn't have been more obviously unimpressed if they'd actually pulled out sick bags and started synchronised vomiting.
I still bought it though!
Driving past it every day on the way home from work, I noticed a man at the window one time when I was pulled up outside waiting for the lights to change. He looked rather like Paul Auster which, naturally, piqued my interest. Also, once he was holding a pen which added to this ridiculous fascination with the place. (In person he looks more like Paul Auster might in a few years time) So anyway, one day as I sat at the lights he looked at me and waved which made me grin and wave back. This is sufficient proof to me that Paul Auster is living and writing in my town. So, I keep looking at this place each day and wondering what it is. I google it and it seems as though it's a wine bar that has live music. Only when I drive past it after dark one evening and I can see inside do I realise it's a must for the Chianti Club. So last night I took them there. They were slightly nervous, I think because my description made me sound like I was stalking a strange man on one of Bedford's nastier streets because he looked like someone who lives thousands of miles away but the place looks nice after dark. I should write for Lonely Planet, don't you think?
So we turn up and IT IS MAGICAL!! Paul, who we should now address as Charlie, welcomes us in with 'Hello girls, do we know you?' The place is on two levels with a quaint little set of steps up to the higher level. The bar itself is all antique dark wood making it feel like so many French bars I've been in. The wine bottles are ranged against the wall on a rack to rival anything I've seen before. The lights are all cut glass chandeliers, quite French Baroque. The walls are sparse but with some large pieces of art. The whole place is amazing shabby-chic.
Charlie comes to the table with an impressive wine list and asks us all where we work and tells us how wonderfully interesting we are. We are all immediately enamoured with this eccentric and endearing gentleman who may or may not be three sheets to the wind!
The choice of wine is happily deferred to myself and we start with a £16 bottle of South African Pintotage. It is excellent. The conversation and company, outstanding. We discuss everything. Charlie promises to come and talk to us about how it all started with a Hillman Imp. That never materialised but he was charming and quirky and everything a wine bar owner should be. We felt transported out of Bedford and that's worth every penny of wine! I found myself choosing a £25 bottle of Rioja Reserve that made us all 'oooh'. Really good.
We were one member down last night but it was the first evening for a new recruit. So the club's membership swells to 7.
The best moment of the evening was when Alimal arrived after FNM and Liz went to the door to show her where we were sitting, 'Oh, this is Charlie. Charlie could we have the wine list again please?' You have to have lived in Bedford for several years to know how funny and atypical such a scenario is!
On the way out we were all embraced and thanked so much for our custom and kind words - again, when does that ever happen? So I just said that next time he was sat at his window and waved to someone in a car he would know it was me. He was so touched. It really was just an exceptionally homely, friendly evening that must be repeated before long - next time with the A and Phillipe.
14 May 2007
This has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that I watched The Little Shop of Horrors last week.
6 May 2007
Last night The Chianti Club went out to the Cambridge Arts Cinema to watch Spiderman III. My deconstruction on the way back to the car was ridiculed but...but... a malaevolent meteor out of space landing right next to Spiderman as the basis for an entire film? I mean, even suspending disbelief that was left unexplained..... ok, ok I've done that one already!
(don't i know that guy on the right@?)This evening I had mexican dinner with MAJJ. We had fajitas and talked photography, magnetic fruit and how the Morrow family called my family riff raff and moved house because of how my brother and I fought / played together in the back garden!
And this evening, with mini-me back home after another gad about, we sat with home made popcorn and cinnamon sugar, watching the last of Arrested Development, series III.
4 May 2007
30 April 2007
Saturday evening I met one of my heroes. My favourite living poet, Tony Harrison.
He read his poetry and talked. It was an incredible evening. His words are so jam packed with truth and emotion. It was a stunning evening and I was euphoric to have heard him and been able to speak to him afterwards.
As you know, my moniker of kumquat comes from my favourite TH poem; 'A Kumquat for John Keats'. He read 'Bookends' that evening and the power of his voice was electrifying. I hope you appreciate it too;
Baked the day she suddenly dropped dead
we chew it slowly that last apple pie.
Shocked into sleeplessness you're scared of bed.
We never could talk much, and now don't try.
You're like book ends, the pair of you, she'd say,
Hog that grate, say nothing, sit, sleep, stare…
The 'scholar' me, you, worn out on poor pay,
only our silence made us seem a pair.
Not as good for staring in, blue gas,
too regular each bud, each yellow spike.
At night you need my company to pass
and she not here to tell us we're alike!
You're life's all shattered into smithereens.
Back in our silences and sullen looks,
for all the Scotch we drink, what's still between 's
not the thirty or so years, but books, books, books.
I had submitted close on 2k words that went down very well and i felt reet buoyed up...until Mole dropped his bombshell. They're moving. To Norfolk. By the end of the summer. But like I said, after I'd booed in the toilet and had wiped away most of the tears, "I never liked you anyway."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_for_Norfolk..... but I'm sure they know what they're doing.
29 April 2007
25 April 2007
il n'y a qu'un regle ici. interdit de parler d'ou je bosse parce qu'il ya des manageres qui lissent me mots. Apart ca, je serais tres contente si vous trouvez qq moments a repondre.
24 April 2007
23 April 2007
philip's medal seemed to suggest he had finished 27th but i may be putting a degree of spin on that. the main thing is he finished! as did a number of other venerable names...
No sign of the giant running bakewell tarts or the troupe of prisoners all chained together in this photo. This is Philip at 20.5 miles.
Just beyond 'the wall' and the pain has really begun to set in.
Good effort chaps.
Striking a pose of such effortless nonchalence after 26 miles takes some doing!
22 April 2007
Today I'm off down to London to see my first ever marathon take place. Having talked others into this hare brained scheme, I spectacularly failed to get a place leaving them to run on their own! I'm disappointed of course but I think relief is the greater emotion at the moment! So I shall be muscling my way through the 26 mile street party to try and get 5 seconds of shouting 'go team waterstones' or somesuch.
15 April 2007
11 April 2007
Well, I tell ye, given that it's GRAPES first and foremost, I don't think that's a bad stab at getting it right.
Anyway, I think it is the most unusual tasting grape I've had so far. This is a straight Pinotage without any other grapes and compared with other wines it is very ... savoury and full bodied. Rich and substantial. Very good.
10 April 2007
I was preparing a space for my new 'composter'. It's terrifically exciting. I have spurned current trends and have bought a plastic bin instead of a soho composter. (no such thing exists, I just mean something for 20 x the price of my plastic bin that does the same thing) I took an old BBQ fork, heated it on the gas and made breathing holes in the base and lower half. Hey presto, a composter with a lid. Ten quid - although in fact I didn't even pay because my Dad bought it for me! It's already got a heap of stuff in it and I feel strangely at one with the planet. Excluding rodents.
9 April 2007
So yesterday afternoon I went and set up camp at a site about 1/3 of the way over to my parents house. My tent is ace, the sun was shining and the promise of sleeping out with my hound made me a very happy girl.
I tried to get to sleep. It was very cold and Monty wanted to lie on my bed with me...which wouldn't have been a problem if I hadn't have been on a campbed that's about as wide and as forgiving as a bean pole.
Add to that the fact that over and above the bird song and general happy outdoor noises, the A14 thundered past at very close proximity. I felt like I was on the hard shoulder. But it's going to get less busy as the night draws on isn't it?
After lying awake for a long time, Monty decided he wanted to go outside for a bit. No problem. He is on an extended lead that I hook round my foot so that he has a decent circle to trot around before he comes back in.
this field had rabbits and Monty loves rabbits. He loves them so much he wants to run after every single one just to be friends. He does this at considerable speed. So just as I'm dropping off to sleep he shoots off after the aforementioned bunny, hooking the lead over the top of the tent as he goes. As the lead tightens it pulls down on both my collapsable tent and ankle causing me to go from sound asleep to having my leg torn out of bed, wrenched through the open door and the tent simultaneously collapsing on my head. This happened more than once.
I continued to persevere. I put on jeans and another 2 pairs of t-shirts and waited for the traffic to ease on the A14.
By 4:15 I was seriously toying with the idea of packing up and doing a runner. But this kumquat is made of tougher stuff! 15 minutes more of tougher stuff to be precise. By half four I was legging it to and from the car to chuck in all my stuff and get the blazes out of there. Even if my parents were still in bed when I arrived and Norfolk was covered in snow then at least the madness inducing roar of traffic would have stopped and I could be cold in quiet.
They were up and about and I went straight to bed when I arrived!
8 April 2007
4 April 2007
3 April 2007
The rooster and penguin are pics I took a couple of years ago at the zoo but I still think are worth showing.
In other news; I am getting almost zero reading time and I'm still on Amaniti's 2nd novel, 'Steal you Away.' Seems ok but not as good as his first, 'I'm not Scared.'
I have decided that Pinotage is a good grape and that you can judge a wine by it's label!
1 April 2007
20 March 2007
16 March 2007
15 March 2007
It's a cute little shop with about 2.3 members of staff there at any one time and occassionally less but it has a fun atmosphere and lots of things for me to get my teeth into.
First day at the new branch was stock take day. Deep joy!
2 March 2007
" The domain covers an area of 10,000 hectares which includes 248 km of linked pistes extending over an altitude range of 2,230m. The top station, Pic Blanc ( 3330m ) offers breathtaking views of the Alps including Mont Blanc, Mont Cervin and the Meije and on a clear day a fifth of France can be seen from this point.
The Alpe d'Huez slogan is L'ile au Soleil or Island of the Sun and this reputation is well deserved with almost all slopes south facing. The national meteorological office further confirms this with average figures of 300 sunshine days a year consisting of up to 7 1/2 per day in December and 11 per day in April. "
28 February 2007
27 February 2007
25 February 2007
A most extraordinary film I watched last night. Real brain food about socialisation and a host of moral questions.
21 February 2007
in other news i got to share the surprising delights of Isla Negra with the borrower and her computer generated boyfriend and Alimal this evening. Uncanny resemblance on the golf course.
to answer your "?", big dog, i'm liking ghostwritten. some parts are really gripping, others are very readable but not earth shattering. it will be interesting to see how the threads join up. i can see why you mixed it up with murakami. lots of similarities. well one or two maybe. if you need a prompt think of the cultural revolution, a ghost girl in a flat and a freaky terrorist religious group trying to purge the world!
20 February 2007
19 February 2007
17 February 2007
15 February 2007
Got home tonight and mini-me was planning dinner. he made me bacon pasta with spinach and pine nuts. he seems to have this uncanny knack of throwing something else in that just works. it was meant to have lemon but we didn't have any so he chucked in a couple of cap fulls of red wine vinegar - it went great with the bacon and gave the dish a bit of extra kick that the lemon would have. hmm.....if the animation doesn't work out for him ...!
i provided pudding and the evening's entertainment. a small chocolate easter egg each and an hour in front of planet earth!
i've already bought ingredients for the dinner he's making tomorrow! he laid the table with wine for me tonight so i'm looking forward to getting back from my late shift already :)
8 February 2007
4 February 2007
Well worth picking up. I finished it in the small hours. I need to write a review for it so will post here later.
Am in the depths of another 10 or so books to review for work. Kids fiction. Currently on 'Skulduggery Pleasant' which is fun for a 10 or 11 year old.
2 February 2007
29 January 2007
23 January 2007
21 January 2007
Enjoyed the twist of male/female roles and the psychological background to 007.
Was surprised at how much I enjoyed this film considering how much I've hated
James Bond in the past. Was it his vulnerability and possibility of failure or was
it the big blue eyes. I don't know!