Sunday, 24 February 2013

Warning - wedding post!

Not me, sadly - I got married ten years ago and on most days I'd make the same choice!

No, in two weeks from today my brother-in-law will be marrying his girlfriend of the last ten years, so the whole family is growing steadily more excited.

I have bought a crumply little viscose jacket from Ghost and a DKNY sequinned skirt that looks like a mermaids tail. Ok, ok, so they're second-hand - ahem, vintage! But I do have these brand new shoes from Dune...

I only visited the Dune website to sneak a peek at the bride's shoes and somehow came away having ordered these oxblood coloured heels that I thought looked a little bit Jazz-agey. When they arrived, they turned out to be so high that my entire foot slid down into the toe - like Cinderella's ugly sisters trying on the glass slipper - in reverse.

Oh, and the bride? She'll be wearing these shoes decorated with both sequins and crystals - but which still manage to be pretty classy-looking.

The boy's outfits arrived last week and are still in tissue paper. They include pristine chinos, woollen cricket sweaters and two pairs of palest grey converse. I think we're all aware these items will all be destroyed after a single outing!

Today, the husband has been working on his best man's speech, which features many useful tips he's learned from his own marriage, such as... "Ensure you never forget your forgetting it once." and "She also says I never listen to her...or something like that."
And so it goes on. But there'll be alcohol handy by this stage of the proceedings.

Yesterday we spent ages poring over the wedding list and decided to buy the happy couple some sort of kitchenalia/piece of modern art by Alessi (still not sure what it is - but guessing fruit bowl) After an hour of this, husband's brain had become so softened, he also ordered a pestle and mortar and a toasted sandwich maker for our own kitchen. Both of which are destined to be used only once, then put into a cobwebby cupboard.

Haircuts next week. I'm booked in on Monday for a cut, blowdry and 'fashion-colour'. The boys will be trimmed after school on Wednesday. Yep, I'm even managing to be excited about our wedding haicuts!

There will now follow lots of lovely swooshy wedding photos from the Lou, Boos and Shoes site - because that's the mood I'm in.
So deal with it!


Sunday, 10 February 2013

Sunday snowdrops

Perfect day really.
Unless you count the fact that it poured with rain...
Which I won't.

We started with a late and leisurely breakfast at the Cafe Rouge - coffee, apple juice, croissants, pastries, eggs Benedict, potatoes Lyonnaise, bacon and sausages, rounds of toast and french bread. In fact, the only thing on the menu we didn't order was muesli because - well, it's muesli, isn't it?

Then we went to the Roccocco gardens in Painswick to see the snowdrops.
In the driving rain.

There were lots of little summer house/gazebo-type buildings for us to explore and take shelter in. Which was lucky really - did I mention how much it rained?


There were also lots of weird and wonderful bits of sculpture hidden around the gardens...metal bullrushes in the lake...coloured tin flowers and butterflies...strange curling waterlilies in an ornamental pool and some giant conkers in the woods...

Ten-year-old came over all artistic and took hundreds of photographs from unlikely angles on his father's iphone. Since it was extremely muddy, slippy and slidey underfoot, with many lakes, ponds and ornamental pools, the husband remained in a state of iphone-anxiety all the way around.
To my annoyance, most of Ten-year-old's photos came out much better than my own - for which I'm blaming my inferior phone - pah!

Six-year-old was happy enough UNTIL we passed a small, sodden bear-thing which someone had dropped (probably on purpose). It had only one ear, hardly any eyes and a hole instead of a nose. It was green and mouldy and raggedy, but Six-year-old was upset about it having been left out in the rain. Husband and self assumed he must be joking.
Only he wasn't. He grew quieter and more fretful about the hideous, unloved bear-thing, the further away from it we walked. When we were about to leave - and about as far from the lost bear as it was possible for us to be - Six year old announced his intention of going back for it.
In the unabating rain.

So now there is an awful bear-thing going round and round in the washing machine - along with every mud-spattered item of clothing we wore today. Six-year-old is in a state of deep hypnosis, watching the bear-thing spin and waiting for the cycle to end - after all, the poor bear-thing has already been through so much - it wouldn't do to leave him in the wash any longer than necessary.
Later, I shall be required to sew the bear-thing a new face and ear *sigh*.

Bookwise, I've just finished (fighting my way through) The Casual Vacancy - and I have to say the going was tough! If it had been written by anyone other than JK Rowling, I think I might've given up before the end. Aargh - I just didn't care! Not about any of them!
The number of different viewpoints was dizzying. But maybe that wouldn't have mattered if I hadn't disliked them all so much. I hated that big fat man with his stupid hat. And I hated his awful wife who did nothing but smile and think about how much she despised everyone else. And I hated that big-breasted woman who liked the boy-band. And the uptight doctor. And I hated that crazy bald-headed deputy-head man. And his son - he was horrible. And the sadistic man. And his wife just for putting up with him. And I didn't much like the roughy-roughos from the Fields either. Who the hell was I supposed to be rooting for in this story?
But I wish I'd liked it.
Because I admire JK Rowling and everything she's achieved. (I even admire her for having a go at something so different!) Hopefully, there are lots of people who prefer their stories to be gritty and realistic who'll enjoy The Casual Vacancy. But for me, it was another one of those books that confirmed my preference for stories made of magic and mystery and romance.

Next up are Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things and Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes - which I've borrowed from my sister. So I seem to be heading in a decidedly sinister direction. I'm hoping for an antidote to The Casual Vacancy - which depressed me slightly.

Speaking of sinister stories - I've also just finished Sally Gardner's Maggot Moon, which I bought to read to the Ten-year-old. Ha, that was an error! I knew that it had won the Costa Childrens' Book Award, but had no idea exactly what age group it was aimed at. And I'm now guessing Older-Than-Ten.


First, there was a lot of swearing. I don't approve of editing or censoring books when I'm reading them to the boys - especially not prize-winning books. And the Ten-year-old is familiar with most swear words by now. So I ploughed onwards, reading the swear words as naturally as I was able and explaining about the text being written from an unhappy fifteen-year-old boy's perspective - so it was realistic that he should swear - and it was - um art and that. But frick-fracking hell! The Ten-year-old was beside himself with glee! And I felt like a forty-year-old who was trying to sound like fucking badass!
Ten-year-old was also a little uncertain about all the main character's family and friends being dragged off and never seen again. So I read on alone from around chapter twenty-five. And I was glad I did. After that, a little schoolboy was beaten to death by a teacher, who was then shot in the head. People had their tongues cut out and their fingers chopped off. They were beaten and starved and machine-gunned. And the swearing was as unabating as today's sodding rain!
I thought Maggot Moon was an extraordinary book and the writing was shockingly good. It was easy to see why it had won the Costa prize and I would recommend it to everyone.
Assuming that everyone was over fifteen or sixteen.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Of boys and beasts

While there's blood in his veins etc...

The six-year old has just discovered the Beast Quest books - I suppose it was only a matter of time. A few years ago, the ten year old borrowed them in order from the school library and we only had to spend money on some of the weirder editions such as Silver the wild terror - in which Elenna's wolf gets turned into a terrifying beast (Malvel's evil really does know no bounds!) or Grashkor the beast guard in which Elenna gets kidnapped by - that's right - Malvel again.
But the six year old's reading level isn't quite up to chapter books yet and the stories he's given at school have still got Biff, Chip and Kipper in them. Bah! Turns out there aren't nearly enough deadly beasts in the Oxford Reading Tree scheme!
So, on Sunday I took the boys to Waterstones with their pocket money and the six year old bought the first three beasts - Ferno, Sepron and Arcta. The ten year old wanted the latest Dirk Lloyd book, but when that turned out not to be in stock, he too succumbed to the lure of the glittery Can You Survive the Beast Quest? covers and bought Zepha and Vedra & Krimon.
The rest of Sunday was spend in drawing beasts, making beasts out of clay or pretending to fight beasts with plastic swords (Special thanks to the boys' older cousin for filling the house with plastic swords - cheers, bud!)
Anyway, I decided to go with the beast theme for yesterday's art club...

I love it when they take an idea and run off in an unexpected direction with it! So here is a free-standing Bart Simpson zombie mask-head-thing...

And two more terrifying beasts (the masks are pretty scary too!)...

As you can probably see there's a plentiful supply of black paper in the school art cupboard, so we also had a go at making Steampunk Silhouettes. I bought in the ten year old's desk lamp and shone it at each of their profiles while someone else drew around the resulting shadows on the wall. Then some of them added cog-wheel brains...

A few of them brought in their own hats for an even more magnificent effect - look...

There was no writing AT ALL today - it was a day of chores. My ironing pile was threatening to reach the ceiling, I had to go to the bank, pick up some shopping and clean the kitchen. Then, since the boys had invited friends home after school, I also decided to cook some real food instead of the usual frozen pizza.
Not a pizza in sight!
Ok - to be honest, I did buy a frozen pizza just to be on the safe side, but - hurrah! - they liked the pie.
Success pie
Of course, there'll probably be a pizza in this space again tomorrow...

I can't help wondering if proper published writers have to take entire days off work just to do chores.
(Yes, probably.)
I also made cute little boats out of melon slices and chocolate covered Mikado biscuits - which were devoured without anyone really noticing my craftsmanship. Served me right really - they were a step too far. I bet bloody Charles Dickens never wasted his writing time making melon boats!