Sunday, 27 July 2014

Sunday Summary

This week, I have mostly been...

Reading | Strange Meeting by Susan Hill

Watching | The Fault in Our Stars

I loved the book. OK, I know, a lot of people loved the book.

And the film, I'm very pleased to report, is a loyal adaptation of John Green's novel. The casting is pretty much spot-on (especially rent-a-villain Willem Dafoe as Hazel's fallen hero, embittered writer van Houten), the feel of the film, the narrative voice, mirrors the novel, and the few moments of ever-so-slight movie mawkishness are balanced with exceptional honesty and complexity.

Wept like a child particularly at the scene where Hazel struggles up the steps of the Anne Frank house with her oxygen tank.

And in humorously stark contrast:

Checking out | the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer

I honestly don't know what to say about this other than... uhm, I'd be interested to see just how comical/cringeworthy/surprisingly insightful and multifaceted this film is in full. From an academic, film-critiquing perspective, of course.


Yes, my friends, I'm at it again.

It may be ten months away but for me it's certainly not too early to start training for the London 2 Brighton 100k Walking Challenge, for which I'm raising money for the MS Society.

I'm currently in the market for the best, inexpensive yet reliable fitness tracker/pedometer but in the meantime I've been using MapMyWalk to track my evening jaunts around the local area and will be trying to build up my distance and time week by week (so 100k doesn't come as a shock)! And I've had some beautiful evenings in which to train. I should probably stop, er, stopping to capture the scenery and work harder to build up my stamina but when the locale is this pretty, who can resist?

If you think you might like to sponsor me between now and April (the minimum sponsorship cut-off point) please kindly please visit my JustGiving page!

{Thank you!}

Camping | and revisiting the past at a work reunion

...It was in-tents.

Sorry. Couldn't resist.

It was actually not so intense: it was joyous and liberating, and terrific in a positive way to see so many faces from the past.

Only slightly mindboggling was the fact that it's been nearly eight years since I last worked with a lot of these gorgeous people. In some ways eight years feels like an eternity especially when it's marked by marriages and births of babies for a good number of my friends. I don't have those particular milestones by which to measure the time, but I like to think that the QB of 2006 is very different from the QB of 2014, and enough has happened in that time to stabilise me a bit.

I'm very grateful to the previous-workplace crowd that even though I underwent a huge meltdown during my time with them (or, as the nice doctor-man called it, anxiety depression) they still welcomed me back with huge hugs, fond reminiscences, and a lot of very strong Pimms.

As for the camping, well, the good thing is, I had a fabulous two-man tent to myself (thanks, sis). I haven't been camping since 2005 when I clocked up an hour's sleep in Finsbury Park during The Weekend to Breakthrough Breast Cancer. In both this instance and last night someone else put up my tent. I just lack the skillz, peeps: the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award was a loooooong time ago and I just don't do camping.

And I had a fabulous cockerel well within earshot, crowing on a regular basis from about 3.30am onwards. I clocked up about two hours' sleep so that was an improvement on my previous record. But it was, y'know, OK! I'd rather wake up to a cockerel than a bleating alarm clock any day.

That said, I was also particularly grateful for all the coffee, bacon and eggs laid on this morning by an assortment of truly lovely people.

Speaking of coffee...

Rediscovering | home-made espresso

By some quirk of coincidence, I received not one but two lovely little espresso cups for my birthday from different folk. So I thought I would honour their arrival by reteaching myself to make stove-top espresso in my swanky little Italian jug:

using this simple method:

Result: a very excitable (OK, OK, wired) QB and some darn fine coffee.

Weekly Weblinks (brace yourselves, readers, it's been a linky ol' week!)

Literary Linkage

Non-literary Linkage

{Photo by Krista Long}

Cheerio, chaps.

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...!