Sunday, 12 March 2017

Sunday Summary | Things are getting strange, I'm starting to worry // this could be a case for ...

Dear FOQ (especially Jess, because she came looking for a post last week and found nada)

Let me begin by wishing my cousin Abby a very happy 40th birthday! (She's in the midst of trying to set up a school these days; heaven knows where she finds the energy, quite frankly!) ๐ŸŽ‚๐ŸŽˆ๐Ÿ•ฏ๐ŸŽ‰


This fortnight, I have mostly been ...

Reading ๐Ÿ“–

1984. The number of days I will probably spend trying to read this book ...

But, appropriately given it's apparently Budget Season, also now reading:

Not convinced I have all the time the author seems to, to cut out coupons and subscribe to all the discount and cashback sites (especially given I've spent the last three weeks trying to unsubscribe from numerous lists I'd forgotten I'd even signed up to not to mention spending quite a long time on Live Chat with TalkTalk, so-named because you have to explain everything to them twice before they Get It) but hey.

I'll give it a go.

Watching ๐Ÿ‘€

... Seasons Five/Six.

The Logan Years.

I dislike what this smug little scummer has done to the Gilmore girls and the Lorory dynamic.

Look at all the tosses I give about Logan Huntzberger:

Preach, Mariah.

Still. The momentary lapse in Loreluke has been resolved (albeit temporarily because Lorelai is all about Lorelai and is about to break Luke's heart, again, the ๐Ÿ„) so I'm happy now.

Albeit temporarily.

Oh, Luke. You can be my filthy diner man any time.

... I really just wrote that, didn't I. #knowyouraudience

I also have increasing deals of affection for these two:



With the except of Logan (*spits into the dust*), the Sherman-Palladinos write really, really likeable, human, but likeable male characters.

I approve.

Discovering the Lady in Red ๐Ÿ”ด

No, fear ye not, I haven't been indoctrinated into the magic surrounding a certain Chris de Burgh classic (because I already have it on vinyl).

The Lady in Red is (in certain circles) a cocktail comprising – wait for it:
Babycham + Chambord + Apple juice + Soda water
It's the colour of an anaemic flamingo and it tastes sublime.

Trust me on this.

Fangirling ๐Ÿค“

Talking of ladies in red (or, spuriously, ladies who used to appear on telly sporting iconic red hair):

I was, my friends, in the presence of one GILLIAN freakin' ANDERSON on Friday night.

Let me say that once more:


(on whom I think it's fairly safe to say I've had what common parlance calls a girl-crush since, oh, my twenties. And if the turnout on Friday is anything to go by, I'm not alone in that.)

Friday was the launch-day of WOW (Women of the World), a three-day festival centred at the Southbank Centre (Evie, I hope you enjoyed your day of it too!):

celebrating, well, women of the world, and GA and her friend, broadcaster, writer and journalist Jennifer Nadel (who once stood for leadership of the Green Party, which gives her extra brownie points in my book) were speaking to the Southbank Centre's Artistic Director, Jude Kelly, about their book:

My copy arrived just in time on Friday (!); rather stupidly I'd preordered the paperback which was due to publish on 8th March so come 8th March I was somewhat peeved at its non-arrival 'til I reread the delivery information and realised I'd missed a little detail such as the year (2018). EPIC FAIL. So I hastily ordered the hardback. Which I hardly ever do because, monies.

Anyway, it was worth it. So worth it.

We... is not so much a book on feminism per se as it is a book on solidarity, about caring for ourselves then going out into the world and connecting, not competing, with other human beings. It is rooted in both women's personal life experiences but has a lot to offer any woman wanting to improve the situation they're in, and that we are in as human beings.

{Photo by @southbankcentre on Instagram}

Perhaps I should have been like the slightly bonkers – and wine-fuelled – woman (who got audibly huffy and rightfully so when two small boys in front of us were playing on their iPad and chatting during the discussion... ๐Ÿ˜ ) next to me and taken actual notes, but I wanted to be more 'present' and take it all in. What I took away from the discussion is largely that we need to be OK with ourselves and not try to attain any level of perfection, to speak out and admit that we are human and susceptible to fragility, and connect with other people – other women – who may need that same support network that we do.

It was evident that in spite of their respective careers in the public eye, both GA and Jennifer Nadel were quite private, self-aware people who seemed understandably uncomfortable with that level of public scrutiny although they were both smart and eloquent, and their own fragility and humanity was at the fore as they discussed their personal journeys and their reasons for writing the book.

After the talk, there was the opportunity to get our copies of the book signed, and I cannot describe the amount of excitable fangirling (and hyperventilation) going on around me over the mere idea of Gillian Anderson in the Building. I was out of the auditorium door quite quickly, and made it into the first of the queues into the anteroom to be further surrounded by squeaky fangirls (I managed to keep my composure, just...) in readiness for this:

followed by:

And while she was on a production line (the signing was only due to last an hour), when I said "Thank you" as she signed my book, she looked up and gave me a smile. She freakin' rocks. Girl-crush = justified.

(And she is absolutely tiny in person. Pocket-size.)

Celebrating ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿท๐Ÿ˜‹

... Pa QB's birthday and Early Mother's Day with lunch (all the lunch and no need for supper) at the newly refurbed Home Cottage, our go-to for great grub, with Sis and Sis' boyfriend. (And the parents, natch.) The Home Cottage is the only decent place to eat or drink in my lowly town but that's what makes it more special.

Two glasses of Chilean Merlot, pork belly in the most startlingly beautiful quince jelly:

and a delectable fruit crumble, later and I was fit for absolutely nothing else for the rest of the day (except napping and binge-watching Gg).

But 'twas so nice to catch up with La Famille. So much love in the room, as these photos will demonstrate...


Pinterest Pins of the Fortnight ๐Ÿ“Œ

Fortnightly Web Finds ๐Ÿ•ธ๐Ÿ”Ž


• (ish) The transcendent legacy of Buffy | Anthony Stewart Head for The Guardian

Also featured on: The Pool


• Man makes tiny hats for the toad that visits his porch | on The Dodo

{photograph by Chris Newsome via here

Nicole Kidman being all silly and goofy and human (because the whole commentary on the way she was clapping at the Oscars was just mean and unnecessary) | on YouTube | via Debra G

• Ode to women who wear their sports gear everywhere | by SkitBox on YouTube | via Georgina (I think?!)

• Everything looks better with a face on it | on The Lad Bible & YouTube | via Clarey McClareyson (thank you!)

On that note, I'm signing off but, have splendiferous fortnights, everyone.

qb xx

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sunday Summary | Love is a ring, the telephone ...

Dear FOQ ๐Ÿ™‹

This fortnight, I have mostly been ...

Reading ๐Ÿ“–

I really wanted to enjoy this more but there was a whacking great Coincidence towards the end of the book involving the eponymous Melody Black, who incidentally was not introduced into the story nearly early enough to make any great impact. Still, to his credit, Extence writes women very well and I still rate him as an author even if this novel lacked the emotional impact of The Universe versus Alex Woods.

Now onto:


But also still rocking out to:

I'll admit that this Girl from Tonbridge took Serious Umbrage (see what I did there?) at Freeman's discrediting of Love Actually (Love actually is all around, Hadley, mmmkay?).

And I can never watch John Hughes' Sixteen Candles in the same light again now that Freeman has rightly pointed out the seriously creepy date-rape undertones in the film ('perfect' but troubled and drunk It Girl Caroline is considered an object to be violated by both Jake, the hunky hero on campus, and the Geek). So awkward. So so awkward. I used to love Jake Ryan. (Well, Michael Schoeffling, anyway. Just look at that face:


*swoons like a giddy teen in no facet of real life ever*)

But Freeman scored all the points yet again by mentioning Return to Oz  as 'the true maverick's choice' when folk are asked for their favourite films.

We could have been great friends in the 80s, she and I.

Watching ๐Ÿ‘€

Oy with the Gilmore girls already!

And yes, I fully embrace the assertion that my binge-watching of This Series and This Series Only at One Time is probably symptomatic of something. Not sure what, but something.

My mummy says I'm special. ๐Ÿค“

So, Season 4 thoughts:
  • I do not have any time for Jason Stiles. He's a foul little man and Lorelai is a cotton-headed ninnymuggins for getting caught up with him just to spite her mother.
  • Both Lorelai and Rory need to reconsider that Not Everything is About Them.
  • Luke deserves so much more. I'd marry him (and not on a cruise, and not only for a day). And he could even wear that backwards baseball cap and invite Kiefer Sutherland to the wedding (a distraction I'd just have to deal with ๐Ÿ˜‰). I still would.
{The words every girl longs to hear.}
  • Paris is always a good idea.

  • Kelly Bishop Kills It in Every. Single. Episode. I properly love her. Emily Gilmore for President.
  • And no, I know. These characters aren't real. But I adore them anyway. Given a choice between The Real World and Stars Hollow at present, I know which I'd choose.
  • But only if I can also take Kirk home with me as a pet.

Getting published ๐Ÿ“—

 ... in Country Walking magazine (February edition).

With thanks to Anne C for her eagle-eyed spotting of both my and friend Ellen's names in print in the same magazine:

I shan't mention the fact I've had no time or energy for a big cahuna walk lately ... I'm such a fraud.

Going to see/hear ... ๐ŸŽน

The Derek Paravicini Quartet in Concert

[Oh, Blogger, you mammoth loser. In spite of my hitting the Save button every few minutes, this loseroid interface managed to lose everything I'd drafted from Friday night onwards. Including my original 'review' of this epic concert.]

I cannot even.

Anyway. My original review went along these lines:

Have you ever had expectations for an event, only to have them smashed and exceeded and cranked up to 11? The Derek Paravicini Quartet, comprised of Derek himself (on piano, and more about him in a moment), Ben Holder (a violinist par excellence), Ollie Howell (a drummer with exquisite sympathy for volume and timbre) and Hannah Davey on sultry jazzy vocals did that. Yep.

They blew me away. My Fitbit tally tripled from all the toe-tapping. And clapping. (Actually mostly the clapping. I should look into why it did that.)

This footage is not from the concert but was the opening number and gives you a good idea of the quality of performance throughout the evening:

Derek, who is blind and has autism, is a pianist with a rare relationship and symbiosis with the instrument that most musicians can only aspire to. He has a particular passion and talent for jazz, and his Joplin rags are so energetic you feel like you need a lie-down directly afterwards.

As a quartet, these four musicians, all uniquely talented in their own rights, are tight. They are sensitive to each other, and throughout the set they each stepped down to let one of the other musicians take the lead; and watching Derek and Ben play together with enormous passion and at great speed, it was a shock that actual steam didn't start rising from their instruments.

The requests part of the programme however, was Derek's opportunity to demonstrate his ability to play any piece as requested, and turn it on its head, improvise on the theme, then pare it back to its musical bones as if he had written the piece itself.


'Twas a pleasure to share the experience with: AJ (who kindly bought the tickets), Russ, Anne (second mention of the week!), Jill and Celia – and was also a Brucie Bonus to bump into 'The' Jude O'Connell during the interval.

Releasing the Rock Chick within* ๐ŸŽค

(*So that's what's been making me look like such a porker lately: the fact I've been carrying the essence of Patti Smith around with me. Not my penchant for doughnuts and fruit toast, noooo.)

{Food baby duly edited out because, vanity}
On Saturday night, keen to continue the theme of surrounding oneself with excellent music (and failing that, hitting up a social club and bringing the excellence with us), a small gang of us gathered for a night of karaoke.

Namecheck o'clock:

Alun (who did a rather magnificent turn with Man for all Seasons by Robbie Williams)

Dan (who gets money for nothing and his chicks for free)

(Our duet of Joyride by Roxette is possibly something we won't be reenacting any time soon. Very hard song to sing.)

Glenda (who completely owned True Colours)

and last but by no means least 'cos I'm working through the names alphabetically, innit?

Jos (who heard it through the grapevine ... how much longer will you be mine)

Me? I decided that pop and musicals are so passรฉ on the karaoke circuit and opted to channel my inner rock chick with a lil' bit o' Patti Smith Group, and Because the Night.

And actually I did not suck. Go me!

I might need to work on my rilly rilly high notes if I'm ever going to attempt Skunk Anansie, Brazen, again but hey, I've been workin' on my rock chick stance instead (whilst looking like I'm about to ride to glory on a frontrunner at the 2.15 at Newmarket – giddy up!):

{#Why don't you weeeeeeeeeee-eeeeeeeeep...??!#}

No Weblinks this week on account of having little to no time to Internet.

Oh, except for some online shopping, a complete reassignment/migration of nearly all my emails (!), an exciting near-future booking (all will be revealed in the next post ...) – and the occasional foray into Pinterest of course, ergo:

Pinterest Pins of the Fortnight ๐Ÿ“Œ

And ... that's about all we have time for this fortnight, folks.

Keep on keeping it real.

qb xx

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Sunday Summary | Lub Tropiana*

* I'll leave you to fathom out my HILARIOUS joke here.

Dear FOQ

This fortnight, I have mostly been ...

Reading ๐Ÿ“–

... and fi-hi-nally finishing:

{The Horse Witch | Sheila Fulton}
My educated verdict on the plot? The characters (of which there were too many)? The bloodshed ending? (Oops. Spoiler.)

I am now very happily simu-reading:


(Natalie, you may well have to read this!)

To my odd little mind, Guardian columnists will forevermore have to measure up to the splendiferocity of Lucy Mangan; however, I grow increasingly fond of Hadley Freeman. She tipped the scale in her favour with this book:

but Life Moves Pretty Fast, an homage to the impact of 80s films both good and not so great, is one of those books that already has me nodding in agreement and squealing as HF gives a massive nod to Cynthia "Penny in Dirty Dancing who used to be married to Richard Marx and no I'm still not over the whole them-splitting-up-and-him-remarrying thing" Rhodes in a footnote.

Watching ๐Ÿ“บ

Hmm. Can't remember. Probably this:

{Gilmore girls | Lauren Graham gives excellent cry-face.}

So I teared up at Rory's graduation as well. Judge away.

Oh but, ooh, the OITNB Series Five Teasing has begun with four months to wait:

I've had to have my fill since the end of S4 by fangirling over the actors' Instagrams {ahem} but, bring it.

Oh and this. Again.

{The Devil Wears Prada}

Hanging with these beauties

{Gaby and Nats, my gorgeous and wondrous galpals}

then hitting the shops with this one, after a highly sustaining brunch at 'Spoons:

{Fluffy friends at Jeremy's Home Store, Emporium of Awesome}
and being rudely stalked ...

... by POKแบพMON.

Partying like it's 2017

... and rocking up to two significant birthday celebrations in one day for friends-and-(former) neighbours Tilly (100 years old!) and Eve (60). I promise not to share the video of the performance of the birthday song we wrote for Eve, but trust me, it was West-End worthy.

(In the same way that the Spice Girls Musical was West End worthy.)

Joining the cult of Fitbit ๐Ÿ…

Oh yep.

I may have mocked those with the gadgets initially, but I was just jealous, I promise.

Fitbit will make me WALK, goshdarnit. Or, at least it will justify the walking I already do. Yeah. Exactly that.

{Purty thang.}
Check my stats, yo:

{The Beek is so impressed.}

Quite a significant amount of that was done yesterday, when I trotted through the snow:

to meet a quality bunch o' Lovelies – Charlie, Jenny and Jess – for breakfast. Why, just over two years ago to the month (sort of thing) I walked from Horley to home.

Yesterday I walked from home ... to Horley. In the sner. Did I mention the sner?

Exciting route:
Ditto the scenery:

but genuinely worth the trog to eat All the Food and chew All the Metaphorical Fat with the Lovelies. With thanks to Jess' Jacob for taking the photos for us when my selfie ability abandoned me.

{Charlie, Jenny and Jess}

Thus, today I have mostly been ...

Doing the Duvet Day Thing ๐Ÿ› (but also Cooking ๐Ÿฒ)

Nothing says weekend slobbery like putting a gammon joint in a slow cooker and letting it do meaty magic (ahem) while you catch up with two months of magazines and an overflowing in-tray. Whilst staying in pyjamas all freakin' day. 

At least I had a kanelbulle to see me through my backlog. Oh! And the truly, truly beautiful enamelware coffee pot by Mini Moderns, that came to me yesterday as a slightly belated birthday gift because it hasn't been in stock for over six months. (Thanks, R!)

{Look! So pretty!}


Charlie Kilborn: you will wish to look away for this portion of the blog. Trust me on this. I'll give you a holler by way of a kitten gif when it's OK to come back.

And finally, finally ... I have mostly been ...


It took me three weeks.

But I found it.

You can all rest easy now.

... The single life really is a hotbed of excitement on a daily basis.

OK, Charlie, it's safe to come back in.


Pinterest Pins of the Fortnight ๐Ÿ“Œ

{It's a Sunday thing}

Web Finds of the Fortnight Dim and Distant Recent Past ๐Ÿ•ธ⏰


Covering Trump the Reuters Way | here | via Monika S

Well, this little snippet from Facebook Trending would suggest their focus is elsewhere ๐Ÿ˜ :

{Integrity. Riiiiight.}
Dystopian fiction that reflects Trump's US | here | also via Monika S *updates "Want to Read" list on good reads*

• 'Think about the bigger picture': life lessons from successful women | on Guardian Weekend

{Meryl Streep | Photograph: Brigitte Lacombe | via here}
See also here for the full features and interviews with the women in the article.

• Hate your commute? Try these tricks to cheer yourself up! {It's not clickbait, I promise}| on BBC | via Search Press

{That ain't no stinky pasty! Commuters' Christmas Party | photo: Jason Sutherland-Rowe}

• Specially for Ma QB: TINY TINY THINGS! Tiny dioramas created by Japanese artist Tatsuya Tanaka | via BoredPanda | via workmate Juan | see also here

{Tatsuya Tanaka}

{Tatsuya Tanaka}

My mind is a tiny bit blown.

• Love that these women are covering 'Promise Me' on Holland's The Voice: definitely think the second singer's voice is more suited but the first singer brings something different to the table. And the harmony?! Whoa. Yes. | via Beverley Craven on FB

• Gaga sings the Superbowl | #fangirlingoverhere | on YouTube | via Jude

But no, I did not manage to get tickets to see La Gaga in October. ๐Ÿ˜ญ

Well, I could have done but, ain't nobody paying upwards of £80. I mean, she's epic and everything but this is a concert, not a deposit on a future home, after all (!).

Besides, I have events aplenty lined up for the next couple of months. Gaga will be back. (She'd better be.)

• 'It's sunny and safe': why Gilmore girls makes perfect comfort viewing | Abigail Radnor on Guardian Weekend


Despatches from a bad date | here | via Overheard in Waitrose on FB | Er, did either of these individuals even attempt to make conversation or were they both glued to their phones the whole time?!

Totes annoying: words that should be banned | Justin Myers for Guardian Weekend | May Myers never happen upon this blog, then: pretty sure a lot of these word-crimes have been committed here on qb over the years as I attempt to stay Down wiv da Kidz (rather than having to Adult, obvs).

{Illustration: Justin Gabbard}

Modern tribes: The office stoic | Catherine Bennett for Guardian Weekend | We all know the office martyr who would come in with bubonic plague rather than call in sick ...

• Warning: some Snapchat Face Swaps are actually Dark as Heck (thanks, Edd, for these treats! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ): here and here | links only because they're too scary to share as pictures on here. Yep.

These two might actually give you the heebs for life:

• I've been moderately successful with my cooking of late (touch wood); however, these still exist as proof that the kitchen is a dangerous place: Some of the worst kitchen fails | on Bored Panda

{To be fair, the pie was brutal to start with.}

Don't have nightmares; do sleep well.

qb xx