Saturday, 29 December 2007
When the film started I had a sudden thought that a film with only one person in it may get a bit tedious. But that never happened. Terrifying - yes, tedious - no! Unbearable tension - yes, hohum factor - absolutely none!
Thursday, 27 December 2007
She then continued by elbowing the air to the side of her while she told her audience that they should be prepared to kick if necessary. This particular bit has now been removed, no doubt as a result of a flood of complaints (including mine), but the part in my first paragraph is still showing at intervals, and I do think it's irresponsible, rude and dangerous.
What sort of example is it setting for impressionable children who may be watching the show? And what sort of image is it giving the world of Britain and the British? Can't we expect the BBC, at the very least, to promote socially acceptable behaviour?
We had an amazing Christmas holiday. All the family were in one place at the same time. A truly rare occurance. We had Christmas Dinner at my youngest brother and his wife's house, and 25 people sat down to eat at one long table. My brother's wife cooked the entire meal almost single-handedly, a truly heroic feat, and an absolutely perfectly delicious result.
It was my oldest brother's 60th birthday on Christmas Day, and my mother had ordered a cake in the shape of a Christmas Tree, since she'd always made him a Christmas Tree cake when he was small. The resulting cake had four (4!) layers, each a different flavour, and was covered in white icing. There were candy shapes like decorations stuck all over it and an angel sitting on the top. There was one polar bear candle per decade, just so his lungs wouldn't be put under any strain when he came to blow them out. (Actually, the real reason was that there was some concern that the cake would catch fire if there were 60 lit candles on it.)
This picture was taken by my daughter, with her digital camera set at black and white. Hence the lack of colour. When I was her age it was so exciting (and expensive) to take colour photographs, because the norm was black and white and most people couldn't afford to take or develop colour pictures. Now we've gone full circle, and black and white photos are cool.
Wednesday, 26 December 2007
Monday, 24 December 2007
I just have the stockings to put together, and then I can leave all the rest to Santa.
Sunday, 23 December 2007
The Christmas tree is still undressed. Frantic decorations will be happening tomorrow morning before the Christmas Eve party at my house.
Time is flying!
Friday, 21 December 2007
Thursday, 20 December 2007
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Friday, 14 December 2007
Thursday, 13 December 2007
There was a cordoned off area with two bodyguards in suits at each end of it, and at the back of the area was a table at which Gordon Ramsay was signing his book. Much to my surprise the bodyguards were very friendly and showed me a good place to take photos from. So here it is:
He has got his own website, and you can find it here.
On my way home I caught Chris Evans' show again, and once again he did the 'How deep is, how deep is your snow, I really wanna know.....' segment, and spoke to someone in Dubai who runs an indoor 400 metre ski slope. Someone had to drill into the snow, and then measure it, and it came out at "45 centimetres of good snow". Their website is here.
Interestingly, on the top right hand corner of their opening web page, there is an ad for skiing in Lebanon. The thing about skiing in Dubai is the contrast between the extreme heat of the desert and the coldness of the ski dome. In Lebanon, nature provides this contrast for free. I can remember, in my youth, snow skiing in the mountains of Lebanon in the morning, and water skiing in Beirut in the afternoon, all on the same day! I do not exaggerate.
I would also like to point out that There Is A Ski Slope In Milton Keynes (with real snow), but this will be covered in another entry.
Believe it or not, I've never read a single one of his books, although I have been intending to do so for quite a while. He started writing when he was 13, and he's 59 now. He has averaged 2 books a year since 1983, which means he has published at least 46. In fact, there are 40 Discworld books and I counted another 13 listed on Wikipedia, plus a whole list of books to which he's contributed.
I think I'd better start reading them at the beginning and work my way through them chronologically. It's a huge undertaking, but I'm hoping I'll manage it. It should be a real treat.
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
The first article gives tips on how to stay safe while still enjoying the Holiday celebrations.
I used to think that if I went out and just had one glass of wine, I'd be consuming one unit of alcohol. Since doing the research on my articles, I've realised that this isn't necessarily the case. Wine can come in strengths that range from 7% to 14%. The bottle of red wine that I currently have open is 13.5%. The guidelines are based on a 125 ml glass of wine containing 8% alcohol. An equivalent amount of my wine would contain just under 1.7 units of alcohol! I've included the calculations in my second article.
Just click on the links to see the two articles.
Be safe this Christmas!
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
The web address she gave took me to a website selling gingerbread houses, but I googled Ice Hotel Lapland and I found it here. I'm not sure if it's the same Ice Hotel as that run by the lady Chris Evans was talking to, but how many Ice Hotels are there? It looks quite amazing, and not all the furniture is ice, especially in the bedrooms and dining room, but the bar is completely made of ice. Exploring the site, it seems that there is an Ice Bar in London, which is something worth following up I think.
Back to the Chris Evans show, it seems he and/or someone else had their passport photos returned by the passport office because the flash from the camera glinted off the glass in their specs. Someone wrote in suggesting that just for the picture they should have their passport photos taken wearing spectacle frames without any lenses. Problem solved! Now that's what I call thinking outside of the box.
I must say that I do enjoy listening to Chris Evans, he always makes me smile.
I went to Milton Keynes Midsummer Place Shopping Centre this afternoon. The light show was pretty fantastic.
But that wasn't all: I came across the famous Concrete Cows, grazing at the foot of an old oak tree around which the shopping area was built.
Around a corner is a mechanical clock, with a frog that blows bubbles on the hour. Children wait expectantly for the hour to strike. Here he is just before 6 pm.
When the minute hand touches 12, the frog moves, music tinkles, the frog opens his mouth and blows bubbles, and the fan unfurls until it forms a complete circle in the background. Then it all goes into reverse.
Click on a picture to enlarge.
Friday, 7 December 2007
But I do have a confession to make, I haven't yet written one single Christmas Card!
Last year I was so methodical. I spent a specific block of time each day until they were all written. This year I've decided to go for the Marathon approach. I'll dedicate a day within the next week, gather everything I need, and I'll start and keep going until they're all done. I won't mail a single one until every last one has been written, and then I'll mail them all together.
I'm not very good at finishing things, so if nobody gets a card from me this year, it'll mean I haven't finished them yet. There is some method behind my madness, though. The reason I'm not going to mail a single card until I've written them all is that it gives me time to decide whether I want to write a 'dear all' letter this year, and if so, who I'd like to send it to. If the cards are all done and in their unsealed envelopes, I can write, print off and add to any or all of them as the mood takes me.
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
Sunday, 2 December 2007
This statue, of a couple in conversation, in the Theatre Area, captured my imagination. I think it's cloak and dagger stuff, and they're plotting something secret. Notice the lit floor inside the circle of seats under the shelter.
This is Milton Keynes Theatre. The wooden construction in front of the theatre is a piece of art with a door at the bottom so that you can enter and climb to the top. The pink building to the left of the tower is an art gallery.
Tuesday, 27 November 2007
2. In memories, what was the best part of your Christmases past?
Waking up early as a very small child and creeping downstairs with my brother to see what was under the tree, and then trying to guess what was in the presents. Come to think of it, I still try and guess what's inside the presents.
3. Was Santa ever good to you? [describe how and what]
Always! Every year! But I think that the one present that stands out is the first Christmas I spent away from home when I was 9. My parents must have arranged with my aunt to get me a walking and talking doll. If I held the doll's hand and walked, her legs moved and she walked with me. Even though I missed being home, that stands out as one of the biggest surprises I ever got.
4. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or both?
Christmas Day, always. We all sit down together with cups of coffee or tea and take it in turns to open one present each. It's lovely, because you can really enjoy the whole process of unwrapping and discovering. One person gets the job of writing down who got what from whom, so that there are no awkward 'thank you for the um um um....' moments.
5. Is there something you make each and every year? [craft or recipe]
Not really. Sometimes I'll make a craft, sometimes I'll cook a recipe. Of course, the one constant is the Christmas Turkey.
6. What is your favorite five Christmas songs/hymns?
God Rest You Merry Gentlemen, We Three Kings, Good King Wenceslas, Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard On High. (I could go on, and I'm not even sure that I've got the titles right.)
7. Is there a new tradition for Christmas since your childhood days?
Each of the children get a personalised Christmas tree decoration. They've each had one since their first Christmas, and when they eventually have their own tree to decorate, they'll each have a unique set of decorations to start off with.
8. Describe one of your Christmas trips. [whether it's across town or across country]
We're planning to go to my brother's house for Christmas Day. He lives about one hour away by car. The road there meanders through windy roads and villages, and at one stage climbs uphill through a wood. It should be quite spectacular if we get a White Christmas, something that doesn't happen often here.
9. Do you have a special Christmas outfit to wear for the day?
Not yet, but I'm sure I will do by the time Christmas is here.
10. Have YOU or any of your family members sat on Santa's lap?
My kids always sat on Santa's lap when they were little.
11. What is/or will be on your Christmas tree this year?
All our family decorations. There are so many personalised ones for the children now, that there's little room left for anything else. We have an Angel at the top of the tree.
12. Do you/or have you decorated your yard for Christmas?
Just lights on a tree. Most of my decorations are indoors, but I do put icicle lights outside my front door.
You can find Hootin' Anni's Blog here .
Monday, 26 November 2007
I've noticed that the material is starting to get thin and small holes are appearing here and there, so thought I'd take pictures of it for posterity.
If you click a picture it will enlarge.
Sunday, 25 November 2007
Friday, 23 November 2007
Thursday, 22 November 2007
As is usual at these events, the Mobile Fish and Chip van arrived, and freshly made portions were handed around. While we enjoyed our meal the Quizmaster entertained us with questions selected from a book he was rifling through in a seemingly random way.
Most of the questions were pretty obscure, but we all had a guess at the answers. But one question flummoxed everybody. It was, "What is the meaning of pornology?" You can imagine the various guesses people made, but the Quizmaster assured us it had nothing to do with naughty pictures or the birds and bees. No connection with art, photography, filmmaking and any other thing we could think of.
We all gave up in the end, and he finally gave us the answer. "Pornology is the study of fruit!" (!!!!!!?)
Well I looked the word up, I searched the internet, I looked in every dictionary I could lay my hands on, and the word 'pornology', with that definition, didn't seem to exist anywhere. But I kept on looking and finally found the word 'pomology' - meaning, 'the study of fruit'.
Conclusion? Either the Quizmaster misread his book, or the book in question has a serious typo!
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
You couldn’t pick coins out of a purse easily when you’re wearing my pink gloves, but they’re utterly brilliant for driving a car on a cold day. There’s nothing worse than getting into a freezing cold car, putting your hands on a freezing cold steering wheel, and then trying to ignore the pain of freezing cold fingers as you’re driving.
My pink gloves do away with all of that pain. I keep them on the radiator just inside the door, and pick them up when I pick up my car keys. They’re toasty warm, and protect my hands from icy steering wheels until the car warms up enough for me to go bare-handed.
I’m almost tempted to go out and buy a new pair. In fact, I have been looking, but I haven’t found anything remotely resembling my pink gloves on sale anywhere. I wonder what I’ll find first, my old pair or a brand new pair in the shops!
If I do buy a new pair of gloves, I can almost guarantee I’ll find my old pink pair the very next day.
Friday, 16 November 2007
We decided we should try the Nepalese dishes on the menu, and they actually had, as a starter, a Nepalese Platter for four people to share. This contained Wo - a sort of meat and lentil patty (like a mini burger), and Mo Mo - a truly delicious dumpling filled with meat. Both the Wo and the Mo Mo had a really unusual, and very tasty, spicy sauce on them. Also in the Platter were chicken and lamb choylas which are a type of sizzler meat dish that's cooked with garlic and ginger, and which made me think of kebabs.
For the main course, we tried to stick with Nepalese dishes and had a good selection to share. The taste reminded me that one of the reasons why my husband and I had loved Kathmandu in Nepal was because the food there was so nice. We'd loved Nepal for a lot of other reasons too, the sights, the sounds, the people, the culture, the arts and the freedom.
When we'd visited Nepal (long long ago, before children) we'd been trekking, so the food we ate was pretty basic. But we had a day or two in Kathmandu at the start and end of the trek, and the meals we ate then were absolutely scrumptious. Eating at The Kathmandu Restaurant in Bristol brought all these memories flooding back!
Thursday, 15 November 2007
I went away to Spain for a week, and when I came back I got busy with other stuff. So I think I'll share some of my holiday photos.
A doorway in Marbella....
The sunset as seen from my hotel room..
A series of statues by Salvador Dali in Marbella...
These lead all the way down to the beach.
Loved Marbella, especially the old part of the town.
Check this out.
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
I went into Milton Keynes today, and the drive in was quite beautiful. The whole place is showing off it's autumn colours and it's truly spectacular. Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera with me, so I couldn't take a picture. All those H and V roads that Lenny Henry was complaining about are abundantly framed by varying shades of red, brown, green and yellow, and there's even some silver thrown in for good measure. It takes your breath away!
Sunday, 7 October 2007
I'm used to craft shows being pretty frantic places, but in fact this was busy but not crowded. It consisted of some outside stalls and then a series of large tents set out in a U shape with stalls on either side, so you started at one end of the U and finished at the other.
There were some really nice crafts on display, and it was great walking around looking at them and occasionally buying something that caught my fancy.
I can't think why it wasn't crowded. It was a pleasant semi-sunny day, and it was Saturday. Perhaps it's the credit squeeze having an affect on people's spending, or maybe it's just that odd time of year when summer is over and the Christmas shopping season hasn't quite started yet.
I didn't take any pictures. I was too busy looking around, and by the time I remembered I'd have had to start all over again from the beginning, and it was time to go home, so I didn't.
But on my way home I had to stop at a supermarket for some milk, and the carpark was packed, so I had to park in the furthest spot.
This is what I saw from my car.
I could empathise with that!
Friday, 5 October 2007
Luckily for us it was a warm and sunny day, so we were able to sit outside. The staff were friendly and helpful, and the menu gave us a choice of four dishes for each course. The food was delicious and the portions were generous. We pushed the boat out a bit though, because we topped it all with puddings and coffee and tea, which the pushed up the total cost of the meal. But it was worth it.
We had a look around Duns Tew, and went into the church on the principle that this is usually where you can find out about the village you're in. Sure enough, there was information inside, including a framed copy of the village's entry in the Doomsday Book.
You can check it out at: http://www.aboutbritain.com/towns/duns-tew.asp
Thursday, 4 October 2007
For months I've been hoping to hear one party or another tackle public transport. In his speech yesterday Mr. Cameron touched on the sad state of our railways, but then went on to talk about improving the road infrastructure. It seems logical to me that if you want to reduce carbon emissions it isn't enough to tax car drivers and airlines, because despite all the recent taxes, and the high cost of petrol, it's often still quicker and cheaper, if two or more people are travelling together, to drive rather than take the train. You're also assured of a seat, something you can't guarantee if you take a train.
I recently stopped in a motorway service area on the M1. The cafeteria had at least 4 groups of men in suits doing business. It was lunchtime, and they all had meals in front of them and laptops to the side or on their laps. Were some on their way to a conference, sharing transport and stopping for lunch and a quick confab? Were some using the service area as a halfway meeting point? Why weren't they letting the train take the strain?
If they had taken the train they could possibly have spent the whole journey preparing for whatever the purpose of their journey was. However, the only way they could guarantee seats at all would be to book them in advance, and the only way they could guarantee seats together would be to book them together in one transaction. And the cost of the journey would increase if they travelled during peak times, as it probably would if they were travelling on business. It would also multiply by the number of people travelling. By car the cost is pretty much the same regardless of time of day or numbers travelling, and of course the journey is door to door.
So why don't the political parties talk about making funds from carbon offsetting available for improving public transport? If public transport was cheaper, better managed, and a pleasanter experience, then perhaps people might feel more inclined to use it. It's also something that everyone would benefit from.
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
So far, I've really enjoyed it. There are about 15 people in the class, ranging in age between the twenties and the seventies, and only one man. The exercises are gentle and as easy as each individual needs them to be. Soft meditation-type music plays in the background, and the whole aura of the place is one of calm industry. The teacher leads and we follow. The session ends with a nice stretch and a period of relaxation and meditation.
I did a bit better in the first class than I did yesterday, mainly because of my sore arm and scratches and bruises after my dip in the stream.
Speaking of which I took the dog out on the same walk yesterday, and he definitely got quite excited when we were crossing the bridge over the stream, and tried to pull me down the footpath to the bank. Obviously remembering what fun he had last time he was there! But once bitten, twice shy, I stayed on the road and managed to complete the walk without incident.
Monday, 1 October 2007
But my seat was too far back for me to see his facial expressions, and that, coupled with an amplification system that had just a touch of the Railway station PA systems about it, sometimes made it quite difficult to understand what he was saying. Oh, and not forgetting the couple sitting in the row behind who laughed long and loud at every word that Lenny Henry uttered, whether or not he'd actually reached the punchline. I'd love to know what they were on.
I think I'd have enjoyed it more if we'd been one floor lower, and maybe slightly further forward. But not anywhere near the front row, since then there would be the danger of becoming a part of the show, although at times he did manage to involve the whole of the audience.
I am glad I went though. He is a legend, and I've wanted to see him live for ages, so that's one less thing to do before I die.
I hope he brings this show to the small screen, though, so that I can catch up on the facial expressions and soundtrack I might have missed. I've become used to having Sky Plus, and when I miss a joke I just rewind. I'd have loved to do that a couple of times yesterday.
Overall: a brilliant show, but I was too far away to get 100% out of it.
Sunday, 30 September 2007
He used to have one of those extending leads, but that broke, so he was on an ordinary lead, and I had to take the path down to the stream's edge to let him go in. We got to the bank of the stream, and he carefully licked the water, then moved down a bit further and licked the water again, and finally he moved further into the wood and seemed to find a place where the bank wasn't so steep, and I thought he would be going in there. So I leaned forward to give him some slack on the lead and he jumped, right across the stream, and pulled me into the water.
It was cold. Luckily I managed to keep my face out of the water, and I was still holding onto the lead, so I tried to climb out on the same side as the dog. He thought this was a wonderful game, and he started to lick my face and pushed me right back in. Eventually, I had to let go of his lead and tried to climb out of the other side, which I managed on the second attempt, but the only thing I had to hang onto was some brambles, so my hands were covered in small scratches and cuts.
I had to walk home dragging (or was it me who was dragged) the dog in squelchy wet trainers and soaked to the skin. Halfway home I realised that the reason my clothes seemed so heavy wasn't just because they were wet but also because both big pockets of my waterproof jacket were filled with water. I was not a happy camper. Blood was running down my hands from my scratches, and as soon as I got home I headed for a hot shower.
So that's why I had a tetanus booster.