Tuesday 31 December 2013

2013 - I am Mrs

So, another year over... 

It's been an odd mix of stories that hit the headlines this year. 

Several former world leaders and politicians died; Margaret Thatcher, Hugo Chavez and Nelson Mandela.

Pope Benedict resigned (the first Pope to do so in 600 years) and was replaced (after much chimney watching) by Pope Francis.

Another frenzy of media watching was induced by the birth of Prince George, son of William and Kate and third in line to the throne. Simon McCoy (BBC reporter) became an internet sensation with his honest reporting from outside the hospital.

A meteor crashed to earth in Russia breaking thousands of windows in the process, and a helicopter hit some scaffolding attached to a tall building in London on a foggy morning killing the pilot and one person on the ground. In other news about tall buildings it was found that the 'Walkie-Talkie' one of the new crop of skyscrapers in the City of London reflect rays of sunlight to such an extent that damage was caused to cars.

There were some true horror stories; the explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon (leading to an extensively covered manhunt) and the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, startlingly close to home in Woolwich. The Boston manhunt was watched for several hours in this house on CNN as it was a Friday afternoon that our internet chose not to work, so I can personally vouch for the reporting of speculation on lack of facts. The Woolwich story was even stranger as shots of areas (where I have lived for over a decade) became unrecongnisable when shown from unfamilar angles. 

Boston had their moment of glory however, at the back end of the year when the Red Sox won the World Series. Husband being a Red Sox fan (I'm a Yankees fan) that was also huge news, at least in this house.

I have to thank 'Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2013', 'Charlie Brooker's 2013 Wipe' and some of Channel 5's countdown programmes for reminding me of the news this year. I missed a massive amount of it...

This year our personal story was our Wedding. Serious planning stepped up in the last six months before the wedding; flowers, cake, suit hire and of course the dress. My endlessley patient and organised mother drove me around all over the place to facilitate these tasks. I took Husband, his best man and my brother to the suit shop (handily near Waterloo in Borough) and had an excellent shopping trip to Lakeside (hadn't been there in decades) with my bridesmaids. Then there were of course the Hen Night and the Stag Do - both excellent outings for all concerned. Finally it was the big day; just as magical, amazing and wonderful as we could have hoped and imagined. Our two weeks honeymoon as tourists in London was amazing too, although we could have done without the heatwave!!!

So what will 2014 bring? I'll think about that tomorrow...

Monday 30 December 2013

What was top of the heap...

With a little help from Google Analytics these are the posts that got the most attention in 2013 (these are the posts that were written in 2013 - there are some old favourites that still beat these in the running):- 

1. We Got Married
http://www.london-calling-blog.co.uk/2013/07/we-got-married.html Two weeks after our Wedding, the honeymoon a heatwave in our memories and preparing to get back to work I took a little restrospective on the magical day that was our Wedding Day.

I attriubte some of the popularity of this post to friends and family who don't usually read the blog being passed the link by those who do!
2. All Types of Font
http://www.london-calling-blog.co.uk/2013/06/all-types-of-font.html I suppose the popularity of this post is fuled by the word font popping up in 'free font searches'?

I'm quite pleased to find this again, something that I lost when this computer had it's meltdown was my font collection. At least Laptop the Third still functions to be switched on and copied from eventually.
3. April Fools
http://www.london-calling-blog.co.uk/2013/04/april-fools.html It's always a hit and miss on an April Fools post. If it falls on a day I work I don't have time to trawl the net. If it falls on a weekend then there are less people at their desks to fabricate the jokes. This year it was a day I didn't work and a Monday; so there was quite a good haul.

I attribute the popularity to people who were at work wanting to catch up with what they had missed.
4. 2013 - New Year
http://www.london-calling-blog.co.uk/2013/01/2013-new-year.html This was my annual look forward to the new year. It follows a restrospective of the previous year on New Year's Eve.

I'm not really sure how this got so popular!

Perhaps some of the positive aims found an audience?!

Unlike the retrospective this is a very personal perspective.
5. Sunday Social (34)
http://www.london-calling-blog.co.uk/2013/01/sunday-social-34.html The 'Sunday Social' posts are part of a link-up I participate in.

The link-up is still going and into it's second year.

Popularity of the posts depends on the theme of the day and how early I manage to get my link up! An early start means a bigger audience, especially as the ladies who run it (Ashley and Neely) are both in America and so are lots of the other participants.

This post was a "things about you" post.
6. View from the Shard
http://www.london-calling-blog.co.uk/2013/02/view-from-shard.html I fairly famously have a geek-like obsession with tall buildings.

It started when I was in NYC (nearly 15 years ago, yikes!) and after going up the Empire State Building and the Twin Towers I saw an exhibition on sky-scrapers which included blueprints and all sorts of other information.

These days I will watch any documentary (there was a great one about the Shard) and collect articles and any other information.

If you get a chance, do go up the Shard, it is amazing.
7. Sunday Social (46)
Another in the Sunday Social series.

From shopping weaknesses to food and coffee!

I adore the photo of my shoes with the Jimmy Choo label which was in the bottom of a box from a department store (not even a shoe box!). My shoes were imposters for five minutes!
8. Sunday Social (60)
http://www.london-calling-blog.co.uk/2013/07/sunday-social-60.html Sunday Social again!

This one was all about food.

The link at the end of the article is to a recipe I use for vegetable soup.

I once wrote a guest post for another blog sharing this recipe and the matching post on my blog is the most read post ever!
9. Wedding Day
http://www.london-calling-blog.co.uk/2013/07/wedding-day.html I wrote this post at the crack of dawn on my wedding day using my iPad.

Apart from checking Twitter and Facebook and replying to good wishes that was the end of my internet on the big day.

Once I left the hotel I kept the phone in my little bag and didn't touch it until we arrived at our hotel at the end of the day.

Husband didn't think I'd be able to separate myself from technology for that long!
10. iOS7
http://www.london-calling-blog.co.uk/2013/09/ios7.html Popular no doubt because of the changes that iOS7 wrought to the Appleverse.

I was losing interest at the time, as despite Husband's convinction that I would cave and get another iPhone I was certain that this was the end for me and Apple.

I do still have an iPad, so I have a passing interest in the iOS but because my iPad doesn't have a sim card or internet connection other than WiFi a lot of the intricacies matter less from that point of view.

The last iOS update on the iPad did reset the message settings so for three days SMS went to the iPad if sent from an iPhone and not to my phone!!

Sunday 29 December 2013

Sunday Social (82)

Sunday Social

Linking up with Ashley and Neely

1. What is the best New Years Eve you've ever had? 
The best New Year's Eve is spent with family and/or friends. We used to often see my bridesmaid and her husband (before they mmoved out of London) which was always good fun... these days we hang out with MiL and the cat. Bubbles, party poppers and games - always good fun.

I should think one of the most unusual was probably the Millennium - I was down in Bristol with a huge crowd, and we ended the evening up on a hill watching fireworks.

2. Are you doing anything for NYE this year and if so what? 
Our now tradition, hanging out with Husband and MiL playing board games, drinking champagne, blowing bubbles at the cat and watching Jools Holland.

3. Name a book we should all read come January? 
Oh, the choices! 

If you want to make some lifestyle changes I recommend a short course in Mindfullness. I highly rate Mindfullness (how to stop worrying and start living?!)

Mindful Moments For Stressful Days: Simple Ways To Find Meaning And Happiness In Daily Life

4. What are your new year's resolutions? 
I never make them. I stopped in my early twenties when I worked out how quickly I broke them! I'm happy with my life right now so I don't need to change anythings :-)


Sunday 22 December 2013

Sunday Social (81)

Sunday Social

1. What is your favorite holiday season tradition?
I love our Christmas day. Up at the crack of dawn for gift giving with husband... dragging MiL out of bed for more gift giving... playing with the cat amongst boxes and wrapping paper (and trying ot keep him out of the Christmas tree). Christmas breakfast (scrambled egg with salmon and bucks fizz)... and then time to start making turkey and stuffing and all the rest for lunch - watching TV (Soccer Saturday Christmas Special)... after lunch it's time for naps and recharging for a nice finger buffet type dinner.

2. Do you have a certain holiday movie you watch more than others? If so what is it?

I think since I was introduced to 'Scrooged' by Husband it is probably that. Followed by 'It's a Wonderful Life'... finally 'Meet Me in St Louis' (only Christmas because of Judy Garland singing 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas').

3. Show us your favorite decoration or pinterest decoration you wish you could have.

These are mine which I bought today:-

Our little Artic and Antartic friends
Our football team run out to 'Red, Red Robin'
New York from B&Q last week (see songs)
Our Nativity scene; one a day from doors in the base
Larger penguin picked up today
London from last year, joined today by NYC
London from last year, joined by words today
Bought today, for our first Christmas as Man & Wife

4. What is your favorite holiday song?

I like the 'anti-christmas' songs; or at least the less popular ones. Having been in Sainsbury's this morning and heard all the top playlist I like mine even better!!


5. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
I hate Christmas Pudding which is the traditional desert in England. Cooked and boiled with love and care by maternal grandmother when we growing up, set on light with enthusiasm and zest by my father; but still stodgy and full of dried fruit. I like a good trifle - a sherry trifle to make up for the missing brandy from the pudding (well how else would you set it on light?!). I wish I could find a photo of my father carrying a flaming pudding!

6. What is on your wish list this year?

All sorts of bits and bobs from books to cosmetics to ornaments. I'd really like a relaxing, peaceful, healthy Christmas with Husband and family.

Sunday 15 December 2013

Sunday Social (80)

Sunday Social
Linking up with Ashley and Neeley again

1. What is your favorite Holiday Movie/TV Special?

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/?ref_=nv_sr_1http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/?ref_=nv_sr_1There are a couple of movies that really say 'Christmas' to me. 

The first one is "It's a Wonderful Life" - so classic that several comedy shows have done Christmas specials based on it. What's not to love? James Stewart (I will watch a movie just because he's in it), Clarence the Angel... we have a musical bear (he's an angel with wings) who plays Silent Night, he's called Clarence.

The other one, which we watch nearly every year, is Scrooged. A classic take on Dicken's "Christmas Carol" (which is one of two Dicken's books that I've finished) with the superb Bill Murray. It's the best film version (I think).

2. Do you do any volunteering during the holidays if so what? If not what would you do?

I wish I could say that I do, but no. If I did then I think that I would go and visit elderly people who don't have any family to be with, make sure they aren't lonely at such a family time of the year.

3. What is your favorite toy received as a child for the holidays?

Too long ago for me to remember! I know I was always thrilled though.

4. What was your must have item in high school for the holidays? 

I think it was usually a healthy supply of books. This was before cable TV, computers and video games.

5. What do you do on Christmas Eve? If you are Jewish what does your family do for Hanukkah?

Watch some TV, movies maybe. Get some rest before the craziness of Christmas Day! when I was a child we used to go to carols in the village square, a brass band and lanterns. Then we would go home, have some food and a rest before midnight mass. Another sleep and it was time to get up and go to the Christmas morning service.

Monday 9 December 2013

Amazing Grace

Google today are honouring the anniversary of the birthday of Grace Hopper an early female pioneer in the field of computer programming. 

I missed just over a week ago their delightful tribute for St Andrew's Day.

Santa on the train

Yesterday we had a next generation family outing. Next generation in as much as very much the sort of thing my cousins and I did with parents and grandparents and now we're doing it with my cousin's children and our parents!

We took ourselves off down into East Sussex, crossing the edge of Ashdown Forest (saying hello to Winnie-the-Pooh) and down to the Bluebell Railway (we missed Thomas the Tank Engine) to take the 'Santa Special'. My first-cousin-once-removed (more commonly referred to as my niece) is old enough to be utterly excited by the whole day; her younger brother at five months old not really old enough to appreciate the fun.

Sunrise on a Sunday morning is not a normal state of affairs for me... but an early start was required. My cousin (who is like a sister, two months older and spent so much time together growing up) picked me up with her sleeping son in the back of the car. We found our way down to East Grinstead and onwards to the station where we were picking up the train.

Recent miserable weather was nowhere to be seen, a beautiful crisp sunny winter day. The beautiful station building, the immaculately dressed staff and steam trains puffing in and out of the station were a great start. We had our own compartment on the train; my niece is a bit young to be impressed that it was like being on the Hogwarts Express. 

As soon as we were off we were provided with gingerbread (for the children) and mince-pies (for the adults). The next visitor was Santa Claus himself, accompanied by his elves; dropping off presents for the children.

At the next station we all disembarked for some old time entertainment. There was a Hall of Mirrors, some old time carnival games like ring toss; an organ playing music from roll of perforated paper and (my favourite) a stall selling hot chestnuts.

All too soon it was time to get back on the train and puff our way back to whence we came - refreshment provided on the return in the form of (amongst other things) Ginger Wine.

After a bit of shopping in the gift shop, and a turn on the carousel for my niece we were off to a nearby National Trust garden's cafe for lunch. The day ended driving through stunning sunsets back to the suburbs of South London.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Sunday Social (79)

Sunday Social
Linking up with Ashley and Neely again.

1. What is the wallpaper on your cell phone?
A City of London Dragon. I have Husband and I and our first dance at our wedding on the lock screen.

2. What do you keep beside your bed?
Besides my Lumie alarm clock? There's a fan for those 'thermostat is broken' days; a box of tissues, my Kindle (usually accompanied by my iPad and my phone), a manicure set and a box of Oreos.

3. What is your least favourite chore? 
I'm lucky. My Husband does most of the chores. I do hate ironing and washing up, but those are all him. I'm left with tidying up the bedroom and the Pink Room (both of which I detest).

4. If you could eliminate one thing from your daily routine, what would it be?
5am cat wake-up calls. Kidding, I love early morning kitten cuddles. Right now the lift at work is broken, so struggling up and down the stairs with my dodgy knees is killing. Usually it is just the chaos of trying to get ready for work in time and do all the things that I'm supposed to do, and finding all the things that have gone missing (usually my watch or my glasses, sometimes both).

5. What do you do to vent anger?
Listen to Rammstein very loudly. Or any music that comes off well loud. Some Wagner (which I don't generally like) or a good 'Dies Irae' (translates as 'Day of Wrath' or 'Day of Anger'). I also (unfortunately) pick arguments with people; bad (bad) habit and must stop.

6. What is your favourite holiday of the year and why?
Christmas. No contest. I like what the holiday represents. I like the sparkle and decorations. I like the carols and holiday songs. I like the food. I like spending time with friends and family. I like giving presents and sending cards. I like that we don't have to go to work for ten days. I don't even mind if it snows (as long as it doesn't mess with the seeing family bit).