Monday, 21 April 2014


I woke up this morning at about 7.30 am (on a Bank Holiday) with a shock. I think it was because my brain, in its sleepy mode, registered that the business exhibition where I will be presenting a giant poster and discussing my project (read: selling my wares) is in 3.5 weeks. Or 23 days. And I have a whole heap of work to do before I am ready. Oh...

The image below is quite an accurate representation of my expression:

And also an accurate representation of my bed hair. Oh... 

Thursday, 17 April 2014

1245 Sunflowers

There's all sorts of events happening up and down the country this year to commemorate the start of the First World War. And one of the nicest events, in my humble opinion, is happening right here in my very own town! 

1245 Sunflowers 

The name is in honour of the 1,245 war dead who came from Stockton on Tees, my hometown. From now, available across the town, are envelopes containing sunflower seeds and one name that your sunflower will honour. I picked mine up today and my sunflower is to remember Patrick Hearty. When all the flowers are tall and proud (hopefully!), on the weekend of 2nd-3rd August, people are invited to bring their sunflowers to the pretty Parish Gardens. Then, on 4th August which marks 100 years since Britain joined the war, there will be a tribute that will last for 1245 minutes, culminating in a community-led finale. I don't know any more detail than that as the website will update nearer to the time. 

I freely admit to being a bit of a wuss, but when I first read about this it really touched me. (Some) people in this town are fighting so hard to rebuild our reputation, despite media challenges like being named the worst town to live in England and the awful Benefits Street programme possibly being filmed here, and ideas like this that seem so simple fill me with joy. 

And I really love sunflowers, they're my most favourite flower. So I will grow my sunflowers with love and remembrance for people who seem so much braver than I think I could ever be. 

If anyone local wants to join in the seeds are available at these locations.  

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Spent a most delightful morning wandering the park with T and baby monkey (note: not an actual baby monkey, she is actually a human child, but we call her baby monkey to maintain big wide world internets anonymity). There was not a cloud in the bright blue sky, acres of green grass and daisies stretched around us, pretty lakes, and random totem poles. We sat outside in the sunshine, in short sleeves, soaking in the rays, drinking coffee and eating cheese scones. I can't think of a nicer way to spend a Tuesday morning. 


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Paper and screen

It's simply a novel about a guy who goes to college and becomes a teacher. But it's one of the most fascinating things you've ever come across 
- Tom Hanks.

I really couldn't have put it better myself. 'Stoner' by John Williams is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I don't think I've found myself as absorbed and totally moved by a book since 'Any Human Heart' by William Boyd. I suppose in a way they're quite similar in style, narrating a man's life and all its ups and downs, but done in such a way that you can't tear yourself away from it yet you don't want it to finish. Someone asked me if it was good last week and I found myself nodding frantically and I actually said "it's touched my soul". I don't even know what I meant by that but it just seemed the right thing to say. It really did touch me, so much. I felt quite bereft when I had finished as I knew I wouldn't be reading about Stoner anymore. I think it's safe to say it gets a highly recommended from me.

Touching of souls wasn't limited to paper this week, although this film was originally a book: 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas'. I read the little paragraph about it in the tv guide and I kind of knew what the story was about but I went ahead and watched it anyway. I can't say I'm glad as I was properly heartbroken by the end, but I am glad I watched it if you see what I mean. 

At the heart of the film was friendship, and I could never shake the sensation that in all my years of studying and reading about Nazi Germany it had honestly never occurred to me that of course, the people who ran those camps might have had children of their own. Who were innocent to what was going on around them and just wanted a friend to play with. I won't say what happens at the end in case anyone decides they want to go through a few tissues one night but I can still hear Vera Farmiga screaming Bruuuuuuunoooooo at the end *blood runs cold*  

I think maybe I need to lighten things up a bit. Anybody got any good comedy recommendations? 

Monday, 14 April 2014

Keep on moving

After months of planning, prepping, painting, primping, and preening today was finally the day. Today is the day our house has gone up for sale. Eeeeh, I can hardly believe it. I'm excited and nervous all at the same time and when I think about it, like seriously, I get little butterflies in my tummy. 

This house selling business is some strange malarkey these days. Property programmes throw a lot of buzz words around like neutralise, de-personalise, there's a whole lot of ise-ing going on. Over the past week or so we've done just that though, saying farewell to things (call it 'stuff') that make this house unique to us, and boxing them away. Packed away is the dalek that Fizz knitted for us and acts as a guiding beacon so that people visiting know it's our house, packed away is Roger the Tiger who lived on the staircase with his paw waiting out for a high five every time you pop upstairs, reduced dramatically are the cookbooks that I love so much, aprons packed away, colourful cushions replaced with more neutral's an odd sensation. I think maybe it's part of the process - make the house look like nothing like you choose to live in so that it's easier to let someone else have it. 

Walking round this morning it was very strange. Empty kind of. I know a lot of people live like this all the time, without 'stuff' and very neat and tidy but it's definitely not a true reflection of us! I took a couple of photos of upstairs so you can see a room in all its magnificent tidy glory (luckily I am not the photographer as the light is pretty rubbish):

On a side note, how cool is this vase? Cat helped me pick it out on Saturday, and I love it:

Thankfully the estate agent didn't open any cupboards so he didn't see the ironing pile tumble out as I opened one wardrobe door, and the still soggy towels from morning showers in the other. Turns out we're pretty good at hiding things. 

And now we just have to wait. And be hopeful that people will like our house and want to buy it. Then we have to find somewhere new to live, but that's a whole other blog post. Stay tuned...


Friday, 11 April 2014

Hello Spring... sure is good to see you my friend. 


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Day 10: #1800 Minutes

10 days in and 121 minutes down. I know it doesn't seem like very much, and I also know that I'm seriously going to have to up my game if I stand a chance of actually achieving the #1800 Minutes, but for me it's a good start. I've been motivated to do exercise, and even if it's only 20 minutes or so it's got to be better than 0 minutes, right? 

The truth of it is I'm actually enjoying it. Not in a yeah let's get pumped maaaaan type of way, but in a more sedate, hmmm even though my heart is pounding this is feeling good kind of way. The barre exercise DVD is really fun and I was chuffed today to be able to achieve a reverse plank, although there's a juvenile part of me that always ends up giggling at this kind of thing, mainly due to my bottom. My bottom is pretty big, I have ample booty, and whenever you have to do stuff like a reverse plank the people on the DVD are so elevated from the floor as they have teeny tiny bums, but me? Always grazing the carpet, no matter how high I lift. It's an equal blessing and curse, as I'm sure J-Lo would agree...

Oh and did I mention that today I had completed my exercises by 8.10. As in AM. Oh yeah, I was up and at 'em George Mcfadden. (Anyone who knows me well, knows that this is a serious accomplishment). Stay tuned for more exciting #1800 Minutes updates...