Thursday, 28 August 2008

The best thing since sliced bread

Whilst blog hopping yesterday, I couldn't help noticing my name in pink writing, upon the blog of:
"What's all this about?" I thought to myself. "What have I done to deserve a mention on a fellow bloggers blog?" Well, it seems that little old me has won an award. An award for doing something which gives me immense pleasure - writing about the world according to me.
It can be a funny sort of world, the kind of world where cheese would be free, chocolate bars would triple in size and George Michael would be hopelessly in love with me, if I were to rule this world. Unfortunately I do not rule the world, so I'm afraid you have to pay for your cheese portions, one chocolate bar is never enough, and George is completely oblivious to my existence.
But hey, I'm getting side tracked with this world business. Oh and one last thing - if I was in charge, vineyards would grow in gardens and money would grow on trees. How handy would that be.
Moving on, I am honoured to receive this award from my fellow blogger, who truly deserves the award herself for her interesting and entertaining posts, and pictures, of life in her corner of the planet
By the way, my mum is still in awe of this blog business, the other day she said, "I can't believe people all over the world are commenting on my teapots, wait till I tell your Auntie Wendy!" My mother is still slightly daunted by technology but thinks blogging is one of the best things since sliced bread. And do you know what, I'm inclined to agree with her on this one.
Therefore, I would like to pass this award on to bloggers who I think are worthy of the award.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

The edge of Heaven

He's still got it! And in my eyes he never lost it. He may have put it on hold, other musicians were discovered and other musicians disappeared, while he took a step out of the limelight, with a few personal hick ups along the way. But in my life he was never far away from my CD player and any musical discussions (as friends, blogger friends, family and colleagues know only too well).
I have been lucky enough to see him perform three times in the last two years, after several, long years, of concert absence and the world questioning if he would ever tour again. But I never gave up hope of seeing him shaking those hips and singing those familiar words on the stage once more.
And Sunday night, my dreams and my prayers were answered, as I joined thousands of fans at Earls Court to see and hear George Michael entertain us.
My cousins and my friend Vikki are just as bonkers about George as I am, and we impatiently sat in our seats, clutching cameras, mobile phones and sweets, checking the stage every two minutes, willing him to appear.
He was nearly forty five minutes late. Finally, at last, the lights dimmed, the stage light up, and Georges voice could be heard above the screams. 'Waiting For The Day' was his first song of the evening.
"Good Evening London. It's good to be home," were his very words after his opening song, before he launched into 'Fast Love' and I think every single person in the venue stood up, arms waving and legs dancing. I could hardly contain my excitement.
For the next two hours with a,"Back in a thirty minutes," thirty minute break, hit after hit was belted out, in perfect pitch, with slick stage graphics to compliment. I managed to exhaust my voice, hands, arms and legs with my enthusiasm.
My personal favourites were played, 'I'm Your Man' and 'Everything She Wants' and many, many, songs that have stretched over the past twenty five years. He even played a cover version of 'Feeling Good' which will apparently be free to download on Christmas Day, and he gave us first hand, inside information, that a new single will be released this December. (It's going to be a good Christmas.)
The final part of the concert slowed down with the classic 'Careless Whisper'. The audience swayed and sang along, and I couldn't help thinking what an enormous buzz it must be to sit down and write meaningful lyrics one day, and then another day to hear thousands of people eagerly recite the words back to you. At one point, while he was taking a deep breath, composing himself for his next line, the audience still and hanging onto the electrifying atmosphere, someone shouted out, "I love you George!" No, it wasn't me. Honest!
I think it would be safe to say the night was a phenomenal success. George did not disappoint. His voice was outstanding, his energy and charisma were captivating.
I left Earls Court with a sore throat, ears ringing, palms stinging and legs aching. But it was worth every single second and I would do it all again. And again. And again. And again.

Pictures of the day:

Sunday 24th August 2008.

I'm trying to upload a video but it doesn't seem to be working. Any tips anyone?

Sunday, 24 August 2008

In the woods

So there I was, at ten am on a Sunday morning, with my camera and umbrella, waiting in the woods. I waited and I waited, luckily a friend waited with me, and then it became obvious that nobody else was coming.
Was I waiting in the right woods? Yep, this was definitely the correct woodland. The right time? Yes, I arrived ten minutes before the scheduled time. It must have been the rain which had kept everyone away. Well, the rest of the photography club may have stayed inside in their dry houses but I was at the woods and not going to miss a photo opportunity.
Off we walked, my friend and I, avoiding the puddles, our cardigans and jackets pulled closer for comfort. Who wants to be inside in the warm and dry, when there are woods to explore.

This way!

We bumped into the boating club by the river and stopped to chat. They were racing their boats in memory of a club member who had sadly passed away.

The ducks were watching the boats too, and hoping we had food.

Wild mushrooms.

Wild berries.

For the weary traveller.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

The hat of many occupations

Yesterday I was planning a peaceful day in the office, and looking forward to telling you all about (in my lunch hour, of course, I would never skive during working hours) the photography club which I visited Monday evening.
But you know what they say about the best laid plans, don't you - they never quite go according to plan. Yesterday was a fine example of this.
Unfortunately my not-so-new boss has strained the ligaments at the side of her spine (ouch), so after three telephone calls from her, I had to put my 'production controller / designer / production manager' hat on. Images had to be researched and downloaded from the Internet, word documents formatted into InDesign style sheets, logos collected and inserted, colour proofs printed for proofing purposes, and I barely had time to blink. Let alone blog. I even left the office at an unsociable hour, the cleaners were hoovering around my desk as I was switching my Mac off and wishing it good night. Usually I'm running out the door at the stroke of five thirty. Huh. So much for my peaceful day.
Today is not as busy, but busy enough thank you. However, I have managed to take some time out for my autumn vegetables and mild spices soup, and low fat cottage cheese with pineapple, on rivittas, and write about the shenanigans at the photography club. See how good I am to you?
Apparently the club is celebrating it's 72nd anniversary this year. It's held in a local hall and it's aim is to encourage the development and enjoyment of photography as a hobby. Sounds a great idea to me. Monday night was competition night between this club and a neighbouring club, which meant slides and prints were discussed and marked out of ten by a very important judge. With tea and biscuits at half time.
What a welcoming lot the members are, everyone was kind and friendly. Although I have to warn you that I'm not the most confident person when I meet new people, and I found my cheeks burning the colour of my jacket (bright red) when I was asked to stand up and introduce myself. Eek. I also found myself fantasising about upgrading my camera, finances will have to vastly improve, and wishing to visit exotic and intriguing places to capture many idyllic scenes.
But for now, my 7.1 mega pixels will have to do. Next meeting is in the woods 10am on Sunday. Expect lots of pictures of trees. And maybe I'll be wearing my photography hat.

Picture of the day:

My drinking hat.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Fifi And The Flower Tots

Seeing the world through a child's eye can be a magical, exciting experience. How new and fascinating everything can seem. And what a pity we have to grow up hey!
The theatre was my destination at the weekend, and Fifi And The Flower Tots was the name of the show I watched with my cousin and her kids. Smarties, Maltesers, Wine Gums, Chocolate Buttons, etc, etc, filled our laps, the sugar fuelling the atmosphere. And when the lights were dimmed, the music began to play, and a smiling Forget-Me-Not waved at the audience through a watering can, hundreds of children went crazy. Especially my cousins kids. Bouncing up and down in their chairs, waving furiously at the flower and screaming,"IT'S FIFI!"
Never has an adult dressed in dungarees and pink Wellington boots, with a flower for a face, caused such a reaction. I must admit, I was mesmerised by my cousins kids faces, they looked as if they were about to explode with happiness.
Fifi's friends joined the stage, Bumble the bumble bee, Slugsy the slug, Primrose the primrose, Violet the violet and Clarey the fairy, who had lost her magic wand. For the next couple of hours, with a few toilet breaks and a few telling offs for kicking the chairs in front in excitement (the kids were told off by the way, not me, I was well-behaved and sitting still), songs were sang, words were shouted and we all watched Fifi and her friends having a big adventure on the stage.
Yep, I clapped my hands and sang along to,"Sticky flower petals," and I couldn't help commenting to my cousin that it was sticky flower petals this week, and it will be George Michael lyrics next week. Only 6 days to go folks, but that will be another post!
I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon with the kids and Fifi And The Flower Tots, although I must admit to suffering from a noise inflicted headache once the show had ended. It was very, very loud in there. Well, the noise was probably to blame for the headache, but then again it could have been due to the mountains of sugar that I shovelled down my throat...

Pictures of the day:

Photography was not permitted inside the theatre, but here's a couple taken from the outside.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Music for the soul

I was driving along in my car the other day, listening to Virgin Radio (unfortunately the CD player is not working, due to Alicia's Attic stuck inside the machine), when Bob Marley's voice sang, "Don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be alright," through my speakers. I immediately cranked up the volume, joined in with the lyrics, and felt instantly uplifted.
Isn't it great how a song can make you feel like this. One minute you can be stressing about everything, the next minute you can be smiling and singing along to Bob Marley's voice, thinking life really aint that bad at all.
Can you imagine life without music? It wouldn't be the same would it. Parties without sound. Well, apart from the sound of the party guests chatter, but you can't dance and sing to conversation, can you. No concerts or festivals to attend. No iPods to distract you from your repetitive train journey or your repetitive walk. No radio or CD player in your car to sing along to and uplift your spirit.
In the Big Brother house (okay, I admit I've been catching snippets of it) strangers are thrown together in a house without television, books or music. But it's the music they seem to miss the most, and it's music that is often the reward for completing certain tasks. Up and down the house mates jump, squealing at the thought of songs. And when the songs are played, either through the loud speakers or personal head phones, you can hear and see the house mates exclaiming, "I love this one!" Even the reserved (if you can call BB contestants reserved) are singing, dancing, smiling and clapping. I can't imagine the reward of half an hour of Coronation Street, or reading a chapter in a book having this affect.
And I challenge anyone not to raise a smile when one of their favourite songs are played. Go on, think about one of your favourite songs. The artist, the lyrics, the rhythm. Perhaps it reminds you of a special time in your life. Now try to stop the corners of your mouth raising into a smile. Hard isn't it. And why shouldn't you smile, songs can be very powerful and healthy for the soul.
And wouldn't you agree it's tricky to differentiate your favourite song of all time. Too much choice! Too many happy memories maybe. Perhaps it's easier to break it down into your top 5. What would yours be?

After a tiny debate with myself, I have decided my top 5 are:

1. I knew you were waiting (for me) - George Michael and Aretha Franklin. Cor, I bet that surprised you, George appears in my top 5.
I adore this song. The voices, the lyrics. It also reminds me of a happy innocent time in my life, when I imagined singing this to my soul mate.
And guess what, I still imagine singing this to my soul mate!

2. Rolling Stones are one of my all time favourite bands. So many great tunes it's hard to pick a winner. Maybe Paint It Black or Mixed Emotions. Hmm, I think Paint It Black has a slightly better edge to it. I love the introduction music to this song.

3. Fleetwood Mac rule! Again, so many to choose from. I think I'll go with, You Can Go Your Own Way.

4. U2 - With Or Without You. An absolute classic in my eyes. Guaranteed you will hear me screeching along to this one.

5. This is harder than I thought. I'm also a fan of:
Oasis - Wonderwall.
Aretha Frankin - I Say A Little Prayer.
Simple Minds - Don't You Forget About Me.
Ocean Colour Scene - One For The Road.
Edie Brickell - What I Am.
Sleeper - What Do I Do Now?
All the Abba songs!
Wham! - Edge Of Heaven and I'm Your Man.

Shall I get back to you on my number 5? This could take a while...

In the mean time, don't be shy. I'm interested to hear your top 5, dear readers.

Picture of the day:

The Rose Garden.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The lazy rainy Sunday

Okay, I know it's Tuesday but this is the first opportunity I've had to write about my lazy rainy Sunday.
And the morning wasn't that lazy as I was up at a reasonable hour, with my friend, for a stroll around a local car boot sale.
It had the perfect combination of old and new. Flower stalls, sweet stalls, book stalls, music stalls. In fact, the stalls appeared to go on forever, stretching in front of us like stepping stones to an unknown world, waiting to be discovered and explored.

For the sweet toothed customer.

The smiley flower pots.

No, I'm not going to ask the seller if he can play George!

My kind of stall. I bought two books: 'The House At Riverton' by Kate Morton and Alexander McCall Smiths 'The Sunday Philosophy Club'.

Is that a black cloud I spy in the distance? That can only mean one thing.

The Union Jack flag was flapping in the wind, a stark reminder of how unpredictable the British weather can be. It was time to make a run for the car!

I arrived home with my purchases, bargain books and Cd's, glad to be out of the rain and wind. And there is something quite safe and cosy about being indoors, watching the rain splashing against the windows and the trees dancing in the breeze.
My over sized green cardigan was added for extra warmth, tea was made, and I pottered around the house listening to the sounds of Ocean Colour Scene, until I settled on the green arm-chair and curled up, ready to loose myself in my latest reading adventure.
Hooray for the lazy rainy Sunday!

Tea time.

Reading time.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

I've found it!

I've found it! It may have taken me a little while, but with a touch of patience and spot of perseverance, I am relived to inform you, I am in possession of it once again.
If you're thinking, "What the heck is she waffling on about now?" allow me to enlighten you. I have been reunited with my enthusiasm. Since returning to the office, after my annual leave, I have hunted high and low for it.
As suggested by a fellow blogger, I looked inside the stationery cupboard, just on the off chance I'd absent-mindledly placed it amongst the staples and A4 paper. Nope, I thought, shaking my head, no sign of it here.
I opened the cupboards in the kitchen, thinking it could be with the coffee mugs and soup bowls. I thought for one split second it was next to my favourite Eeyore (the donkey from Winnie the pooh) pink and grey mug. But it must have been a mirage. My enthusiasm was not in the kitchen cupboards.
I opened folders and drawers, and even searched under "e" in my filing system. I still couldn't put my hands on it.
My desk top was carefully scanned, and I rummaged through my CD archives. Alas I couldn't find anything which remotely resembled my enthusiasm. Just pdfs and other work related documents.
I even went to Salisbury's, in case it was lodged between the cinnamon bagels and the jam doughnuts. Nope, not here either. Inside the celebrity magazines perhaps? Stuck between a centre spread of a shoe advertisement? But no, it was not hiding inside a magazine.
I was tempted to ask the man at the ticket kiosk at the train station, or the man selling The Evening Standard at the newspaper stand, but one look at their faces told me they were having exactly the same problem. I suspected theirs had long gone, and I feared they wouldn't recognise it, even if it ran towards them and slapped the back of their heads. (Not a hard slap, but one to wake and shake them slightly).
So do you know what happened next? I stopped my search and gradually, bit by bit, it came back to me. Gently and politely my enthusiasm returned. One day I turned around and realised it was here. Hello enthusiasm. Oh my, it's good to have you back!

Picture of the day:

Have you seen her enthusiasm?

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The doctor will see you now

The avid reader of FPE will know all about my dizzy spells and my forthcoming doctors appointment. Well, today was the day that I visited the doctors to discuss the results of my blood test.
After panicking about the results, and then listening to the receptionist telling me not to panic but it seems from my notes that I am lacking B12, I can clarify the receptionist is correct. I have a B12 deficiency.
I feel slightly disappointed with my body I must admit, as I eat a healthy, balanced diet and I'm not one of these people who constantly chomp away on crisps and chips, declaring their hate for fruit and vegetables. Okay I may have the odd chocolate bar and slab of cheese, my two weaknesses, but after discussing my diet with the doctor it is clear that despite my efforts my body is not absorbing B12. Apparently, if I carry on missing this essential vitamin it could lead to pernicious anemia, and the consequences of this could be very dangerous, at one time fatal.
Therefore, for the next month I will have to participate in a B12 injection every week. Another blood test will be taken, my immune system monitored, and I could need further injections, every three months for the rest of my life. Phew. It's a darn good thing that I do not have a needle phobia, otherwise life could become very tricky.
However, I am warming to the idea of no dizzy spells, no energy slumps, a far superior memory and concentration span, and a general feeling of well-being. I could even turn into Superwoman, and inherit special super powers. X ray vision perhaps? The ability to fly around the planet in 5.5 seconds? Maybe I'll even dress in a red cloak and wear red knee high boots. Hmmm. Now there's a thought. You better watch out world, because here I come!

Picture of the day:

The spotty flower.

Monday, 4 August 2008

The invisible happy dust

The more weddings I attend, the more I am convinced my theory is correct. My theory is this - someone is sprinkling invisible happy dust over the guests. I haven't worked out who this someone is yet. Maybe it's an invisible guest? Or perhaps the best man or bridesmaid are responsible for the purchasing of the dust? While suit and dress fittings are carried out, the happy powder is purchased. Although I have been a bridesmaid three times and not purchased any myself. Could it be that while I was breathing in and looking away, another bridesmaid took it upon herself to collect this miracle powder?
For you have to admit, there is something about a wedding. It doesn't matter how awful your day / week / year has been, or how cynical you are towards two people exchanging vows to stay together forever, you can't help beaming at the bride and groom, and perhaps even wiping a little tear from your eye. As the day / evening progresses you find yourself merrily chatting away to random strangers, exchanging life stories. All shyness and grumpiness have been discarded with the champagne corks.
And when that music starts, despite having two left feet and the rhythm of an elephant sprayed with itching powder, you find yourself throwing all sorts of strange shapes to the sounds of Abba and Wham! and screaming the words at the top of your voice. Even if you're singing the wrong words and you're completely out of tune, it doesn't matter because the stranger next to you is doing the same. And you are allowed to do this, as you are at a wedding and the invisible happy dust has now covered the dance floor.
I suppose the free drink helps ones inhibitions and contributes to these feelings.
Saturday evening I had my fair share of happy dust. I continually beamed at the groom and the groom (yep, it was a same sex ceremony) in their matching kilts. I spoke to people I had never met before as if we'd known each other for years, telling them far too much information about myself and vice versa. I spun around on the dance floor until I felt giddy and sick, and very nearly fell over (my friend did). And the next day my throat was feeling very sore and sorry for itself due to all that singing / screaming and exchanging life stories.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and by the looks on the other guests faces, they too were having the time of their life.
We waved the happy couple off on their tractor at the end of the night. They were off to the woods to spend the night in a tent. How romantic!
My friend and I zig-zagged across a field back to her house, completely oblivious of the fact we were going the wrong way at one point, and that it was quite dangerous for two girls to be walking across a field in the pitch dark. My friend fell over again, I very nearly fell over again, and we got scratched and bitten all over the place. Plus the sheep scared the living daylights out of us. "I'm sure that sheep sounded human," I remember saying in a slightly nervous voice. But it was fine, as the invisible happy dust had yet to wear off.

Pictures of the day:

The home-made memory box and card.

The cake made of cheese. Delicious. I had a huge slice of this one.

The wedding cake.

Me posing.

Off on their tractor.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Splashes of rain at the company annual picnic

There are certain things in this wonderful life which you can guarantee. One of them being - it will always rain at the company annual picnic.
Despite days of continuous and glorious sunshine (us lucky Brits have actually experienced summer weather at summer time), as soon as the office traipsed to Regent's Park with carrier bags full of food and drink, ball games and high spirits, down came the rain.
If I was the gambling sort, I would have put money on 'splashes of rain at the company annual picnic'. It would have been a safe bet. Yep, I can picture my colleagues and I, in the bookies, with our slips of paper, all betting for rain at the annual picnic. "I've heard it's a sure thing," newcomers would say. "Oh the statistics are high for rain," us old timers would say.
Still, the weather may have dampened the grass but we tried not to let it dampen our spirits. What troupers we are! Sandwiches and crisps were gobbled, drinks were sipped, and the energetic workers played rounders and football.
As for me, I sang George Michael songs. One of the guys in the office is rather musical and sings in a band. He sat down beside me with his musical instrument, and predictably I asked if he could play George Michael. He could and he did. 'Faith' and 'Last Christmas' were played and sang, much to the bemusement of near by employees. "I bet you wish you'd never sat down beside me," I laughed. He then got up to eat and drink, never to be seen again.
I decided to help myself to a handful of sausage rolls and chat to my work collegue and friend regarding our weekend plans (you're allowed to do that on a Thursday without feeling you are wishing your life away - see 'What's the deal with Tuesday?' post). And then I decided to head home before another grey cloud erupted over the soggy food and drink. There's always next year. Although it's bound to rain again.

Pictures of the day:

Last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next day you gave it away...

Always come prepared.