Tuesday 27 August 2013

Never, ever, ever...

 Linking up with Neely and friends

I used to be a total shoeholic. The brief period in my life when I had a flatmate was, I think, the only time I knew someone with a worse shoe habit than mine!

Husband (long before we were married) tried to instigate a strict "one pair in, one pair out" policy.

Part of my shoe-habit, I am sure, is due to my Mother's wonderful insistence that until the age of reason I wear 'sensible' shoes. I remember my first 'heels' which were in fact wedges... I nearly broke my ankle the first time out!

Since then glorious shoes have come and gone... wedges, mules, stilettos, kitten heel peep-toes and everything in between.

Last week I was shopping for some summer shoes (that aren't my bright pink flat sandles) to wear to a christening.I thought that perhaps my inability to walk unaided would not be hampered by some nice sturdy heeled shoes or some happily balancing wedges.Helping hands in the shoe shop proved otherwise. Floor and I were close to making contact at completely the wrong angle!

Never, ever, ever will I be able to walk around in elegant heels, show off my feet and complain about how much they hurt at the end of the night. Flat granny shoes for me only now on. My feet are bereft.

These are my 'movie star shoes'. I refuse to throw them away. I didn't buy them at first because they were quite expensive and I thought I wouldn't get enough use from them. Then I changed my mind, went back and bought them anyway. They make my feet feel like Marilyn Munroe. Due to my intransigent toes I can't even get my feet in them anymore... but I keep them still to remember the good old shoe days.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Sunday Social (64)

Sunday Social
Linking up with Ashley and Neely
1. What do you miss most about being a kid? 
Playing games. Lego. My Little Pony. StarWars (with my brother). All those imaginary worlds and adventures. 

2. Did you have a nickname growing up? What was it? 
Mostly just Tasha; sometimes 'Mac'. When I was very little my parents used to call me Pootle (as in 'The Flumps'). 

3. What was your favourite thing to do at recess? 
The sort of games you play in the playground... skipping (jump rope), hopscotch and 'It' (tag). 

4. What did you want to be when you grew up? 
An actress... a dancer... a teacher... the usual little girl things. 

5. Did you participate in any school activities? 
Very few. I tried the debating society once and didn't like it. I avoided sports altogether (I was rubbish at them). My only lasting one was the 'Animal House' where they bred rats and mice (for science classes) but we kept them as pets. I was also in the choir and the orchestra.
Me with some of those rats
Sign advertising our Choir Tour (France)
6. What is the funniest thing you did as a kid that your parents still remind you about? 
Both in the speech my brother gave at our wedding... the first day at our new house my brother and I broke out my mother's oil paints (we painted a lovely horse) but managed to ruin the carpet and the wall down the stairs with fingerprints of brown oil paint. When I was about three we had a mother and toddler group, and apparently the chaos outside led me to come in and warn my mother 'Don't go out there, it's pandemonium'. 

Thursday 22 August 2013

Clair de Lune

Google are celebrating the 151st anniversary of Claude Debussy's birth with a beautiful animation set to Clair de Lune.

If you missed it, check out the Doodle Archive.

Monday 19 August 2013

Feeling far above par, oh how lucky we are

The second week of our honeymoon involved a lot more of us being tourists about town. The weather wasn't getting any cooler and we learnt from some of the more exhausting days from the first week, so tempered our outings accordingly. (Again click on the photos to go and read about our days at the Occasional Tourist).

On Monday we demonstrated the importance (again) of knowing what is open on certain days of the week. Hot and humid and too long for the walks we undertook the tragically high-point of the day was our milkshakes in McDonald's at lunch.

Tuesday we took ourselves off to South Kensington and Exhibition Road. We chose the V&A as we'd both been to the other museums at some point. The V&A is huge and not a single day undertaking!

The next day we decided to go for somewhere air conditioned and took ourselves off to the movies and dinner!

After all this out and about we took a day at home and the Sofa of Sloth became our cinema, the microwave served popcorn and we caught up with the latest Die Hard movie which Husband had received for his birthday and had been waiting patiently to see!

Fully refreshed we ventured into town again to the Museum of London. A tube or train ride and travelling the right time of day a reasonable taxi fare later... the history of London laid out before you. If you're in the area take in the Barbican too the buildings and the high-walks are an experience.

Saturday was the two week anniversary of our wedding; and appropriately we were back where it all started. We went to the pub where we met and then off to the Valley to see the pre-season home friendly... and our brick that had last been laid!

Sunday was a day of rest, and Monday (the last day before I had to go back to work and the daily grind commenced again) we went to the Museum of London Docklands.

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Sunday 18 August 2013

Me and the violin

When I was about 14 or so and studying music one of our summer holiday assignments was a whole load of questions. These questions were actually a competition being sponsored by General Electric (GE) and not only did I do the assignment I entered the competition.

I was selected as one of the many winners; the prize being tickets to see Nigel Kennedy play Walton's Violin Concerto; preceded by attending the rehearsal session... all conducted by the mighty Sir Charles Groves. The YouTube clip is not that performance but it is that gorgeous piece.

And so began my love affair with the violin. Nigel Kennedy became my hero; and his recording of the Four Seasons my top version ever (and I had to write an essay comparing four versions at Uni so I now whereof I speak!). Some friends of mine recently heard him play at the 2013 Proms and I have already set me TiVo for the showing on TV next week.

Mine were Alus not Yamaha
My guitar
When I was seven I played (as many children do) the recorder (treble and alto). The recorder played well is beautiful; the recorder played half-heartedly... well it is better left alone. Around the same time I also started learning the classical guitar; something I never got very far with.

Age eleven my parents bought a second hand upright piano and six years of piano lessons began. I got as far as my ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal School of Music) Grade 5. I failed Grade 6 twice and decided that due to A-levels and other commitments that was me and the piano done. I continued Mto play and when I moved in with Husband (over a decade ago) I bought a Clavinova (electric piano) and continued to play.

My first piano teacher was also a guitar player; but the sort that strums chords to accompany signing. This use of the guitar I took to happily; as it was about this time I started my serious voice training.

All this time I wanted to play in an orchestra. I wanted to play the double bass; or at a push the cello. My parents were sensibly concerned about the continued enthusiasm of a 5' 3" teenager carting this large instruments about.

My violin is much shabbier than this
After seeing Nigel Kennedy I became determined that I should play the violin. Happily a neighbour of my grandmother was getting rid of his; and gifted it to me so no capital expenditure required.

I never became a talented violinist; I think the best we can go with is competent. I did play in my village orchestra and I did play in the school junior orchestra. I never was good enough for much beyond that and to fulfil my A-level requirements I ended up playing percussion in the school senior orchestra; something for which I had neither talent, enthusiasm or flair.

At other times I played the clarinet (badly) which I bought in a jumble sale and the mandolin banjo (like a banjo but with double strings). 

I kept up my music; spending a year doing a music degree before abandoning it for something more commercial.

Sadly now MS has taken my fingers from me; they no longer have strength or feeling which means I can't play the violin or guitar as I am unable to fret the strings. I can muddle through with the piano as long as it something slow and soothing like Satie's Gnossienne Nr 1.

More about me and music...

Sunday Social (63)

Sunday Social
Linking up with Ashley and Neely
1. What is something you've always wanted to do but are afraid of?
I don't really think there is anything. I'm pretty fearless - and have been lucky enough to do most things that I want to try. Things that are still on my 'bucket list' are there more because disability prevents me from doing them...
2. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I'll have just celebrated my 5th wedding anniversary! I hope otherwise that my life will be pretty much the same as it is now.
3. What are you looking forward to before the end of 2013?
Already happened! The big thing for 2013 was getting married! There are a few highlights left (although none so stunning as a wedding). There are two NFL games at Wembley; seeing a show at The Globe and a few more social get-togethers and tourist trips.
4. What are your hopes for your blog?
I'd love for it to get a bigger audience. More subscribers maybe - and occasionally (when I'm getting serious) to make a difference,
5. Do you always see yourself living in your current town/city?
For sure, I love being in London - so does my husband. I can't see anywhere else we'd want to go!

6. What is your morning routine?
Pull myself out of bed. Wander downstairs for tea and breakfast (washing first if it's a washing morning). Go back upstairs and find what I'm wearing; hair and make up, get dressed... sit and wait for my driver...

Monday 12 August 2013

How to not hate Sunday

From "The London Dark Teatime of the Soul" onwards Sunday has a bad reputation in our house. Husband and I generally do a good job of sleeping through chunks of it.

Today the secrets were uncovered. Get together with friends.

One of my little friends (one of the many to whom I'm fun-Aunty-Nat, or funny I'm never sure) was being christened. Church service followed by pub celebration. I renews acquaintances and made new ones. 

As that party broke up I hot footed it over to the other side of the River to meet some dear Twitter friends.

There was a glass of wine waiting with my name on it.

The only blot on a great day was the unexplained decision by Greenwich Council to dig up the bus station... again.

Bus a long walk down steps, taxi rank a route march away. I was with the Walker but still nearly had to crawl there with sit-stops every six feet.


Middle of the Night

Can't sleep, won't sleep? Did sleep but cold/heat/cat/pain woke you up? So tired you have entered a world beyond sleep? Hippothalmus ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothalamus )decides you only need 4 hours?

If my Twitter timeline is anything to go by this is a very common problem. 

Usually I wake up with cramps or spasms. Increasingly it is a failure to regulate temperature.

Sometimes it is the cat and his insistence of supplying a (loud) monologue of his nighttime activity.

Today it is the rare (and this is why it is rare) double meds dose. I kept the rule and took the 2nd dose before midday but it makes no odds.

Classic 'old lady who swallowed the fly'... or as The Verve put it; "Now the drugs don't work / They just make you worse".

Sunday 11 August 2013

Sunday Social (62)

Sunday Social
Linking up with Ashley and Neely
1. When you were little what did you want to be when you grew up?
I don't remember wanting to be anything until I was in my teens. Then I wanted to be an actress, I even had a subscription to 'The Stage' (UK equivalent of 'Variety') which my newsagent ordered just for me!

2. What was your favorite way to kill time as a kid?
Computers were in their infancy so that isn't where my tech obsession came from!  I was a reader. Big time. Lying on my bed reading at any available opportunity. 

3. When did you get your first cell phone?
I was in my early twenties. I had a clam-shell that broke 3 times in 6 months and then a BT (before they sold out to O2) brick. Well over 15 years!!

4. What is your favourite magazine to read?
These days, Good Housekeeping. I'm too old or too poor for all the other ones out there, or not celebrity obsessed enough!

5. What is the one random object people would be surprised to find in your purse?
A wooden pink hand fan! Not one with batteries a Victorian laser cut one, but bright pink!

Tuesday 6 August 2013

The Endless Lift

Since the start of June our lift has been out of service; it is being 'refurbished'. It was supposed to finish on 28th June, that became 5th July. I was away for most of July; I came back to work last week. Still out of service. The last date was Friday 2nd August. It still isn't working.

At least I'm only on the 3rd floor. I'd have given up if I was on the 5th floor!

Monday 5 August 2013

The Patio Project

Once upon a time there was a small unloved space outside our kitchen. Once upon a time (before I knew it) it was a greenhouse; all that is left is the dwarf wall that supported the frame and the concrete floor. Nobody went on it much as the back door was blocked and the key was MIA. It was blocked by a bench that nobody sat on.

It stayed like that for about three or four years.
Then the kitchen was re-organised, the keys were dug out of the bureau and the patio was accessible to the back of the house.

The first incarnation of the patio was close-spaced decking squares (hiding the plain and ugly concrete base). Decking was a good plan because it could be sawed easily to fit. It was a big hit with the frogs (they could get under at the back door and crawl between the supports). Unfortunately the laziness that is me and the garden meant that it was never treated and eventually the decking rotted away and needed replacing. Planks kept coming up making a trip hazard and more and more frogs and toads were deciding this could make a home (but not always finding their way back out again).

Incarnation two was unsatisfactory from the outset.

No close-boarded decking available in our price range.

The wide spacing meant a constant battle with weeds growing through the gaps.

It was done properly though. The old removed, the patio swept, the new laid and treated.

It did a job, but from the day we laid it I hated it.

And then came what I hope is the final incarnation. A total refurbishment; thanks mostly to kind wedding gifts. Now it looks like a patio should look... thanks to Husband and all his hard work!

The filth left behind
The miracle transformation

Sunday 4 August 2013

Honeymooners (at last alone)

After the excitement of the wedding we stayed at Apex London Wall Hotel (fantastic hotel). We had our first honeymoon day wandering around the City seeing a few of the better known sights.
(Click on the photos to go and read about our days at the Occasional Tourist).

On Monday we stayed at home; we had memories to gather and our wedding gift delivery from John Lewis to wait for.

Tuesday we stayed local and took a trip down to Greenwich to the Cutty Sark and the Old Royal Naval College.

Wednesday was my birthday (yes four days after our wedding, Husband's birthday is four days after mine!). So we had another day at home... there were some deliveries to deal with again and I had the new Tomb Raider for my Xbox (husband bought it for me, so he was fine with the temporary dessertion!).


Thursday and next stop, London Zoo. Lucky we had a late start and made for Baker Street as we'd both forgotten that the Ashes were starting the 2nd Test at Lords. 

Friday, after the exhaustion of the zoo we went to the British Music Experience at The O2, another local day out - delightfully air-conditioned.

Saturday was a grey and dismal day (although still warm enough) and we took a trip on the Clipper to the London Eye and back.

To round out our week it was Husband's birthday; so we spent our time on the sofa of sloth, watching the Hungarian Grand Prix; gathering our energies for Honeymoon week 2!

Sunday Social (61)

Sunday Social
Linking up with Ashley and Neely
1. What are 3 items you can't live without on a daily basis (water, food, shelter, and clothes don't count)?
Tech addict. My iPhone,  my iPad and my laptop. That pretty much keeps me in contact with everyone and everything.
2. What is your all time favourite book? Why?
So many! Gone With the Wind is my all time classic. I love the whole civilisation that is conjured and Scarlett O'Hara... I wanted to be her when I was about 12. Also when I finished reading the books I took with me to New York  I bought a copy (pre-Kindle days) and read it standing in queues for sights.
3. What is something you'd like to accomplish before the end of 2013?
I have lost sight of the rest of the year. We spent so much time focussing on and organising the wedding... I think being happy and spending more time with friends and family.
4. If you could go back and relive any year of your life which year would it be?
This one. Getting married and our honeymoon... I'd never get tired of that.

5. What do you wish people knew about you without you having to tell them?
I'd like people to know more about my MS. I'd like them to understand why sometimes I can't do all the things I'd like to; why I have to stop and rest; why sometimes I have to stay at home. I'd like them all to know it isn't them, it's me.