Sunday, 20 July 2014

Sunday Summary

Why, it feels like only yesterday I last posted ... well, close enough, it was Wednesday, and in all fairness I don't have too much to report four days later but routine is the mother of, well, something positive, probably, I'm sure.

Ergo, blog post for your deliberating pleasure.

This truncated week I have mostly been...

Participating a very short leg (an ankle, really) of the National Literacy Trust's Books About Town book benches tour. Work friends Evie, Katerina, Clare and I set out on Friday afternoon intending to take in the Riverside Trail (including the War Horse bench)

But I was slightly stymied by the oppressive heat (hottest day of the year on Friday, y'all -- a fact unbeknownst to me when I dressed in jeans that morning, like an eejit) and also a deadline -- I had a hot mate-date lined up with my best chum Natalie whom I hadn't seen in months and needed to make various train connections to meet her in Tunbridge Wells.

In short I was a little pot of heat and stress all afternoon which did not a great combination make for such an endeavour.


We did however manage to take in some lovely, lovely ice cream from Scoop in Shorts Gardens, Covent Garden:

{Chocolate fondant and cherry, as I recall... some ended up on Clare's leg. Best not to ask.}

before tracking down the Hercule Poirot bench in Bloomsbury Square Gardens:

{Tom Adams (artwork) Created by Mandii Pope}

as well as the James Bond stories bench (on which a young lady was perched, reading, and she was not moving for anyone -- not even four eager bookanistas clearly trying to take photos, hence the back of the bench photo here from me -- complete with back of the head shot of aforementioned loiterer):

{Artist: Freyja Dean}

And before time and heat took their toll, we also managed to pass Queen Square (near Russell Square) and pay a visit to the Jane Austen | Pride and Prejudice bench (Lizzy, here, looking uncannily like Jennifer Ehle, no?)

{Artist: Charlotte Brown}

I don't know as yet how many more benches the girls managed to view before the end of the day but in terms of taking the tour, I shall have to try again soon, especially as I want to see
this bench in particular:
{Girl Engrossed | designed by Andrea Joseph}

Celebrating friends Fiona and Bianka's upcoming nuptials with an afternoon tea 'hen party' at the glorious Nutfield Priory Hotel:

Ol' Crazy Eyes McGee celebrating the fact she's co-ordinated her jewellery with her beverage...

Tea included coffee, finger sandwiches (on, amongst others, beetroot bread! Delicious. I need to look up a recipe), scones with cream and jam, cakes, and...

orange posset in a mini Mason jar. Yes.

'Twas a splendid, civilised afternoon (just about!), complete with two very loved-up ladies, and some terrific anecdotes!

This was followed in similarly classy form* by a spot of karaoke with a good number of my Voicerox lovelies, many of us more or less forgetting all the discipline of the last ten months of rehearsal and just belting 'em out (The Whole of the Moon, anyone)?

* I only jest a little...

Still reading

It's very tempting to reread everything I covered at GCSE and A-Level -- my perspective on literature is inevitably different at 36 from 16 years old. I still don't necessarily grasp all the subtext and symbolism, but I can more fully appreciate the work of a great author.

Now, where did I put that copy of Of Mice and Men...?

Watching | Spaced

This series first aired in the late nineties and I'm only just cottoning on to its brilliance now via the magic of 4OD.

And it's just dawned on me that I've been watching the whole series out of sequence. Oh well. The strength of its brilliance lies in its being as comprehensive in isolation as in sequence. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

Oh and I think I love Brian a bit.

Weekly Weblinks

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic takes you to task on "Word Crimes" (from Blurred Lines -- a marvellous cover with the small hitch of the songwriter dropping in a term that is still considered derogatory in the UK regardless of how it's used in the US. This is your disclaimer alert.)

Until the next time... Tatty-bye!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Sunday Summary Monday Missive Whereyabeen? Wednesday

Hello to you and happy ... what day is it? Again I've lapsed in my duties as a Sunday Summarist << is that a thing?? And indeed a Monday Missivist. Again...

But there's good reason for that: general busyness. And a much, much, did I mention much?...-needed short holiday to recover from aforementioned general busyness.

So, this last two weeks, I have mostly been...

...Enjoying the vocal stylings of Rock Choir at Hever Castle (after a very edifying wander around the house and grounds -- for all his faults, our 'Henery' VIII was quite a romantic ol' sod, wasn't he, if the letter transcripts to Anne Boleyn were anything to go by...):


and simultaneously trying to recover from the Voicerox Choir concert the night before (Saturday 5th July, forever etched in my memory -- at least until next year).

It went well. Very well. (Truncated curtain call aside.) After months of rehearsal, frustration, more rehearsal, a little more frustration and a lot of hard work and a great need for FOCUS we pulled it off. So please do excuse the relative indulgence of this post. I'm still clinging on to the memories, y'all...

Photo by Anthony Gould-Davies

{Safe to say I was enjoying proceedings...}
Photo by Anthony Gould-Davies (cropped from original)

Our set list included interpretations of songs by a variety of artists and groups from the Trammps to the Beatles via Bruno Mars (Runaway Baby, anyone) with a splash of 10cc/I'm Not in Love thrown in for good measure -- this was our a cappella number -- the first time we've ever done something like this in a Voicerox concert. And I think we nailed it!

Photo by Anthony Gould-Davies
{Much respect -- and celebratory Battenbergs -- to all of us who took part}

It was a very musical weekend, all things considered, but two days on I was still suffering from what I gleefully termed a singover (a singing hangover... oh wait, you were there already, weren't you)

Sorry. What can I say?!

And incidentally, after a fashion, those dance moves I was fretting over didn't even matter. I just needed to work on owning the mic. Dancing -- if you can call it that! -- was secondary.


On the Costa Del... Kent. Y'know, for a break away from this:

you can't beat the good ol' English coastline.

Ma, Pa and I spent four-and-a-bit days decompressing in very sunny if breezy Lydd where we spent a week waaaay back in September 2012 (I suspect many of the photos I've taken are duplicates give or take an altered sunset angle).

This little sojourn looked a little something like this:

During this delectable downtime {OK, enough with the alliteration} I was mostly also (brace yourselves, friends)...


and reading...

and reading...

{my current read -- or more accurately, reread...}

A mixed bag, all in all (top of the heap preference-wise: H. E. Bates, bottom, Julian Barnes...) but, yea verily, finally I am back on track with the Goodreads Reading Challenge. GO ME!

Celebrating yet another birthday

...with a Giant Jaffa Cake, excellent curry in very excellent company, and some delicious lemon sole on the day itself, with ma and pa in the wondrous Britannia Inn on Dungeness.

...Heck. I'm 36.


Reminiscing (again)

This is me exactly ten years ago today, heading off to Brighton for a truly momentous night out. Just thought I'd share this as I'm feeling particularly reflective about my state of mind then, and now. But in a good way.

{Keeping it classy with a plastic cup of Archers Aqua on a railway station bench. Yep.}

More on that at a separate time, I think...


...that at least two of my friends share my love of this film:

{Staying Alive}

Girls, I respect you even more for this. Gnarf.

And now for...

Weekly Weblinks (just a couple this time)

Hoping usual SS service will resume this Sunday...!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Flashback Friday: Florence

This post first appeared on ye olde Amateur Eye blog in July 2008. As it's six years to the day that we flew home from Italy, it felt timely somehow to revisit Florence and friends...


Just a few shots from a holiday in Florence, Italy, around the city, plus visits to Fiesole, Siena and Pisa.

Some of these shots are experiments with the hallowed manual settings. Early days but - good practice.

1) Santo Spirito, Florence, at night

2) Moon over Florence

3) San Romolo, Fiesole

4) Il Campo, Siena

5) Alleyway, Siena

6) Passage to the Uffizi, Florence

7) Florentine sunset...

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Sunday Summary

Did ya miss me last week? Did ya?

No? OK, fair play to you. It's not all about me.

(Oh wait, it's my blog. 'Course it flipping is.)

See, the problem with me having 'committed' to write these Sunday Summaries is that sometimes I just have nothing to write.

{I love a gif that requires no subtitles.}
I know.

Shocking. Surely, I hear you all mutter at your blog feeds, she must have done something with her week worth warranting? She's young(ish)*, carefree(ish) and single -- surely she must be gadding about town in the manner of Carrie Bradshaw?

But really, no. Sometimes life gives you nothing of note to summarise, or as my mother and I often say, nothing strange nor startling. But that's OK. I've been keeping things lo-pro.

Anyway. This week has been slightly livelier so here we go!

This week I have mostly been...


Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List | Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Enjoyable but my goodness how self-centred is Naomi?! Two men named Bruce actively define themselves by the order in which they were dated by her. Get over yourself, girlfriend.

The Silver Sword | Ian Serraillier

Written shortly after the end of World War 2, this is raw, honest, and non-patronising to child readers. And uplifting. I owned this book as a child, and read it, but never 'got it' because my world was too small. Definitely one to appreciate as an adult.

And my current read: Louder than Words | Laura Jarratt 

So, yes, I am mostly reading YA/children's books (they boost my reading quota!) but I am of the firm belief that these are of no less value as reading material than adults' books.

Singin' and Dancin'

Next Saturday night, 150+ friends and I will be taking to the stage at the Hawth in Crawley for our annual Voicerox Choir performance.

Every year we spend September to June/July working up to this event. Since 2011 we've grown out of our local theatre in Redhill to this 800+-seater in Crawley and it's a one-night-only performance. (At the time of writing there are but 22 seats left to book!)

And I cannot wait. I love this choir, I love these people, and I love performing with them. Our musical director Mel coaxes professional-level performances out of all of us.

{Photo by Anthony Gould-Davies via}

For the last two years I've been functioning as a 'Deskette' with six other lovely members -- helping on the front admissions desk before rehearsals, from taking payments to ticking in all the members (I can nearly remember everyone's names now, nearly...) -- and our reward for this is to perform our own number in the show. With moves.

Last year we were the Spice Girls (who did we think we were...?), the year before, the girls were Bananarama and this year, we're ... so excited. And we just can't hide it.

I am struggling a little with my dance moves -- QB is not one of life's natural prancers -- but I think on the night we'll all be on so much adrenalin the moves will just... flow. I'm still trying to channel this chickadee:

rather than wigging out and executing this kinda move:

Rewatching | Stealing Beauty

Next Friday 4th July marks 6 years since my lovely clan and I set off for Florence to celebrate two 60th birthdays and one 30th.

I developed a hankering to see Florence after watching Stealing Beauty, and I still love the region -- and the film. And Jeremy Irons in the film. Somehow this translated into the decision to persuade my whole family we needed to go to Tuscany.

But more on that next weekend (once I've recovered from all the singing and shenanigans...)!

Stealing Beauty is the rather wondrous, dreamy tale of Lucy who travels to Tuscany to spend time with her late mother's friends and to find out who her real father is, as well as to discover first love. Made in 1996 it is only slightly dated now (see: Lucy bouncing up and down with a Discman in her hand, and the video footage of her on the plane at the beginning of the film) and it's still rather beautiful.

Here's the trailer:

Check out Design*Sponge for an aesthetic appreciation of the film.

Swimming Not swimming

Now, it's not that I've lost the love of the swim itself, I haven't. But I've lost the ability and scope to get into the pool and just swim without some numbskull blatantly disregarding pool etiquette and effectively bullying other swimmers out of the lanes.

Additionally, the timing of many of the open sessions appear to revolve around clubs and lessons, so oftentimes I can't even get into the pool until 9pm. It's too late and isn't working into my life routine as I would like it. #firstworldproblem

So I've made the rather sad decision to turn in my pool membership and only swim as an occasional pleasure. It does mean I am breaking one of my promises to myself, and I'm not quitting altogether, I'm just not making it a regular event any more. I was getting frustrated more than liberated, and that wasn't what the exercise was supposed to be about.

But all is not lost on the Get-QB-Moving Campaign Front because I have also mostly been...

Entering the London 2 Brighton 100k Challenge 2015

Yep -- I'm doing it!

These stumpy little legs will need to carry me the equivalent of two-and-a-bit MoonWalks** from deepest Richmond to brightest Brighton next May.

There is something deliciously solitary about walking that I love. It can be a social activity, and my walks with my work girls have been brilliantly social and edifying. But there is definitely something of the Harold Fry about me. I need to forge out my own pilgrimages and be alone with my thoughts.

It's an introvert thing. No, really.

This time I've chosen to walk for the MS Society (UK) -- I don't have a fundraising page set up yet (I do have about 10 months to raise £400 after all) but when I do, rest assured there will be a link. Thank you please.

Discovering the enjoyment potential of Champagne Cocktails

And Chambord, black raspberry liqueur. I like raspberries. I like Champagne. This marriage will last, babies.

{Here's to the art of toasting Fridays...}

Asterisk round-up: 

* Check out -- according to this site, today I am the age equivalent of Alfie Allen (who's apparently in Game of Thrones) + the offspring of Shaquille O'Neal.

Or, in old money, I'm 13,133 days old. Excellent stuff.

** 100k = 62.137119224 miles to be exact. Which works out as 2 x MoonWalks + 37% of a MoonWalk. Yep.

Weekly Weblinks

And now for the non-book related shenans:

And finally:

{via here}

Bye-zee-bye for now!