Friday, 30 December 2011

Jungle Party Disaster!

Yesterday we threw a Jungle party for my oldest son (who is very nearly nine) and one of his friends. We arranged for a Jungley man (in a big hat) to bring an assortment of wild animals for the children to hold/stroke - while he talked about conservation and respect for the animals. Among other things, there was to be a six foot python, a tarantula, a baby meercat and a couple of parrots.
Only there wasn't to be... 
He didn't turn up. It dawned on us with agonising slowness that the jungley man wasn't just late - he wasn't coming. We were in a hall booked for three hours, surrounded by more than a dozen nine year olds - all looking at us expectantly. Aaaaargh!
So we played hide and seek and wink murder and tag and zombies and musical chairs. Then we played them all again. We organized a crap quiz and a mad game where they passed things to each other using only their chins. Then we fed them s-l-o-w-l-y on individual crisps and undercooked pizza and single chocolate fingers until they pleaded with us to stop.
And still there were hours left to fill.
Ironically, I'd run mad with the wild animal theme. There were animal masks for all the children, wild animals on the cups, plates, tablecloths and partybags. The only things there weren't, of course, were the animals themselves!

Spot the elephant with the crap party!
Oh, well. None of the children appeared to mind too much. And the JungleTalk man emailed us today to apologise for getting the day wrong. He invited the boys to come for tea and an animal encounter to make up for it.
Who knows, maybe this time next year I'll look back and laugh.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Spoils

I had a lovely lazy relaxing Christmas.
Husband cooked the turkey dinner (he likes doing it!) and all the various cousins, half brothers and in-laws called round to our house to say "Happy Christmas" and drink alcohol and swap gifts. This went on over the course of three days!
My best presents were comfy new slippers with birds on them...

And a bathroomful of fabulous goodies from L'Occitane...

And a giant slab of choc from my five year old...

Being aware of my reverence for the classics, my friend HH gave me this book about zombie attacks among the ladies of Longbourn. Elizabeth Bennet turns out to be a savage, remorseless killer who is easily able to best all Lady Catherine de Bourgh's highly-trained ninjas. It kept me sniggering childishly over Christmas!

I'd hinted among the family that I was in the mood for an Agatha Christie phase - so I was delighted to be presented with three new ones! Now that I've finished the zombie book, I'm going to curl up with lots of lovely new murders...

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

Made a quick Christmas trifle with the boys today.
My five year old plastered raspberry jam all over the sponges while my nine year old made the raspberry jelly. Then we all dropped the fresh raspberries in. After that we added gallons of custard and whipped cream. I think it could well be the sweetest thing ever created - even the pictures are making my teeth itch!

When I got up this morning I found that the kettle wasn't working - which was disappointing but at least it wasn't the boiler!
Luckily I had some vouchers for M&S so we drove out to the home store and allowed the five year old to choose a new kettle (bright red - looks like a fire extinguisher!) I also selected a new whisk, a set of measuring jugs and an array of tea towels. Then as we approached the till, I caught sight of this lampshade...

Whereupon I put everything back (apart from the kettle) and bought the lampshade instead.
 (I think it looks as if it could spin round and project flickering pictures onto the walls!) Later I'm going to curl up on the sofa with a good book and read by the light of the new lampshade and the Christmas tree lights - with a glass of something festive.

My choice of perfect Christmas comfort reading. My favourite is probably 'The Man in the Brown Suit'.

When the Man in the Brown Suit clasps the heroine around the neck and squeezes (while suggesting he might fling her dead body to the sharks) she simply laughs.
"What's your name?" he asked abruptly.
"Anne Beddingfeld."
"Does nothing frighten you, Anne Beddingfeld?"
"Oh, yes," I said, with an assumption of coolness I was far from feeling. "Wasps, sarcastic women, very young men, cockroaches and superior shop assistants."

There is also a fabulous character named Sir Eustace Pedler. This is an extract from his diary.
Thursday Night
Tomorrow we shall be going through Bechuanaland. The dust will be atrocious. Also at every station little Kafir children come and sell you quaint wooden animals that they carve themselves. Also mealie bowls and baskets. I am rather afraid that Mrs Blair may run amok. There is a primitive charm about these toys that I feel will appeal to her.
Friday Evening
As I feared. Mrs Blair and Anne have bought forty-nine wooden animals!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Mmm...late breakfast at the Cafe Rouge this morning.

Eggs benedicte with ham - and large americanos.


After that we went to see Sherlock Holmes 2 at the Screening Rooms.
I enjoyed it (love Stephen Fry!) But I'm not quite sure about the Screening Rooms - it feels kind of weird to sit there in the dark while waiters shuffle up and down the aisles muttering, "sorry...sorry...excuse me..."
The people in front of us were having afternoon tea - complete with china cups and tiny milk jugs. Others were having hot food and glasses of wine. We opted for pistachios and cokes - because that felt most natural for the cinema.
Maybe I just need to get used to it...

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Festive feathers

All the stylists at my hairdressers are currently wearing these feather hair extensions...

My good friend HH said that I should only have feathers in my hair if I was also wearing a ra-ra skirt and Doctor Marten boots with coloured laces.
But I ignored her and chose three red ones.
I'm already thinking of going back for a couple of blues in the new year!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas decorations

Sparkly sweets around the mirror in the hall...

(These are made of tissue paper - real ones wouldn't last long in our house!)

 Fairy lights and pine cones all along the mantelpiece...

Christmas in my nine year old's room...

Oooh - presents...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas gingerbread

I had a go at making Christmas tree biscuits for the boy's friends and teachers this year....

I mixed 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 2 teaspoons of ground ginger, 1/2 a cup of unsalted butter, 1 cup of light muscovado sugar, 3 tablespoons of golden syrup and an egg.

Then I threaded loops of cooking string through them and iced them. And by about midnight I was finished!
(Next year I'll probably go back to buying everyone soap or socks.)

I just posted a short story to Mslexia for their 2012 short story competition.

It's called 'Lilli-Lorena' and it's about a very mixed up, young actress. I tried to make it both funny and sad. It's about 1,700 words long and everyone in the writing group that I went to for a while said they liked it - apart from a retired PE teacher who told me it was far too long and I was taking up valuable teaching time by reading it out. (She also objected to any writing that mentioned sex, body parts or swearing - I disappointed her there too). So I'd like it to win some money if only to prove her wrong!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Ferryside and Greenway

Earlier this year I went to see Daphne du Maurier's house in Fowey and Agatha Christie's house at Dittisham...

They were both very beautiful and made the whole thing seem much more possible somehow.
So I mean to start with this blog...and end up with a house on the river.

Friday, 16 December 2011

I would like to be a writer...

It's the last day of school today and the whole family will be home for Christmas - so I won't get the opportunity for much writing until the new year. I don't want to forget how to do it, so my plan is to write bits and pieces on this blog until the holidays are over. Then I'll start work on an exciting new novel and perhaps attempt one or two short stories - and use this blog to record my progress.