28 March 2007

Well, I was bored with blue...

Ooh, it's gone all green, hip and urban. (That's green as in colour not as in eco-friendly. I don't know how you'd have an eco-friendly blog. Sponsored by Ecover? Or those folk who catch tuna on pieces of string by moonlight while humming merrily to passing dolphins?)

Lambs, daffodils, you get the picture?

Oh, spring has sprung, tra la laaaaaaa. Yes, it's been officially sunny for three days up here in the frozen north, so I think we can safely say it's spring. Yay! Lots more time outdoors (what do we have a balcony for, if not for swigging gin and tonics on?), and fewer cardigans. No bad thing, in my book. (Check out the link, and you'll see the most embarrassed male model ever, who is having to wear some delightful zip-up versions.)

Anyway, as you can tell, not much happening here today. A brief excursion into the delights of Newcastle to have M's feet measured (thankfully, the cute green boots still fit) and to purchase silly pink spotty sunglasses (thank you Primark for making my day when my small child stuck sunglasses on her head and said "coooool"). And that was about it. Bar a bit of meandering about outside on the balcony, drinking tea, tidying up and watering the plants. Oh, and making some fish chowder (sounds better than it actually tasted, although given that I've got the umpteenth cold of the year, most things are like cardboard at the moment). So not exactly high-flying, but rather satisfying none the less.

But don't worry, pop-pickers. I'm sure the obscure cultural adventures and terrible film reviews will continue in due course. I'm off to find an Easter egg...

25 March 2007

Arts Corner: Exploring film

I headed out to Byker last night, to the Star and Shadow Cinema, a fantastic volunteer-run project in the middle of an industrial bit of the city. They've built a cinema in an old warehouse, with a bar and performance space alongside, and now run a magnificent series of odd films - it must be the only place in the north east to be running a radical, political programme, including an Anarchist Film Festival.

It all sounds terribly right-on so far. But actually, it was lovely. Really warm, welcoming and friendly, although the smell of patchouli in the bar did take me back all the way to student land... I have no idea how they make any money though, given that there were about 20 people at the screening I went to - a film called 'Be Fruitful and Multiply', from the Jewish Film Festival.

It was all about a series of women in Brooklyn and Jerusalem who have large families (large in the Jewish context seems to be around 10-16 children), which must be a popular topic at the moment, given that Channel 5 screened '10 Kids and Counting' this week. Hey ho. We'll be back to Daily Mail-style screeching about the fertility crisis next.

23 March 2007

Arts (and Science) Corner: new stuff

I came across the most fascinating thing yesterday, while at a workshop about running a business in the creative industries (see, my life isn't all nappies. Honest.). Totally unrelated (it just happened to be in the venue they were using), but such a good idea - finally something useful being done with computers and new technology, rather than simply making a mobile phone thinner. It was rather nice to see something inspiring for once.

The venue we were at was the Culture Lab at Newcastle University (nice architecture, stripped wooden flooring - you can tell no undergrad student is going to be let within 500 miles of this place). It's developing an "ambient kitchen", which is embedded with computers and digital devices, so that it can aid those who require assistance with things like following a sequence (for example, the order in which you do things to make beans on toast). I guess it'd be really handy for people with dementia, or maybe learning disabilities (or maybe even stressed parents who get halfway through doing something and then forget why on earth they went to the fridge in the first place). We saw the kitchen under construction (rather joyously, the units are nothing fancy and are arriving from IKEA), with all the digital sensors being placed in the floor. Lots of ideas about bar codes, sensors and wireless technology, none of which I fully understood, but which sounded cool. Let's hope the finished product gets seen elsewhere - I'd love to know how they get on.

20 March 2007


Watching Red Nose Day last Friday (hey, I'm always renowned for my topical posts, me) I was struck by the fact that there seemed to have been an invasion of small pixie men. Stand up (on a box) David Tennant, Richard Hammond, Mark Owen et al. All fairly interchangeable, when you look closely (although I'd be worried if I ever came across Mark Owen wielding a sonic screwdriver, given that he tends to waggle his microphone about an awful lot and looks like he's going to poke Gary Barlow in the eye or somewhere equally painful at some point in the future. Or is that just wishful thinking?).

Anyway, what is itabout them that makes them popular? At the risk of sounding like my Nanna, I just don't get it. Is it the artful bed-hair (and no, Russell Brand, I darkly suspect that (a) you've overdone matters slightly and (b) you're about 2ft too tall)? The sparkly blue eyes? The short pixie legs (note, you never see Richard Hammond's shoes - are you sure they're not pointy green boots?)? Answers on a postcard please, to Confused of Gateshead.

15 March 2007


I like that word. And the way it feels. Especially when you think you can legitimately have a quiet bit of smugness for five or six minutes. I reckon that today I've cracked it, given that I've

  • made cheese, leek and potato pies for tea
  • done 8 months-worth of filing which had been hiding under the bed (why on earth do I have SO MANY PIECES OF PAPER???)
  • finally got round to dyeing my hair blonde again (boy, those roots were bad)
  • and read 'Hippos Go Berserk' and 'Dear Zoo' about 97 times (can you tell we're on an animal-fixation at the moment?)

Mind, I haven't managed to clean the kitchen floor, but you can't have everything. And anyway, that's just too frighteningly domestic, and making pie is Nigella-ish enough for one day.

13 March 2007

pee-pee teepees

This has to be the weirdest thing I have ever seen. Now I know it's common to try and flog new parents all sorts of stuff they never ever thought they would need, but really, a "pee-pee teepee"?? Hello? Are Americans really that gullible? I can't speak from direct experience of dealing with little boys, (mind, M was quite good at weeing everywhere) but wouldn't a tissue serve the same purpose?

I bet it was dreamed up by one of those terribly enthusiastic amateur entrepreneurs you see on Dragons' Den, with the light of evangelism for their product in their eyes. Run away, people. Very fast indeed. Particularly from anyone who describes a pee-pee teepee as "an ideal baby shower gift".

08 March 2007

Coffee, love?

So, you know how way way back in January, I said I was going to raise enough money on eBay to buy a proper coffee machine? Well, I'd love to report that I'd managed to sell £150 of stuff (in my dreams...) but rather more surprisingly, I've changed my mind. Doesn't happen often, I freely admit (I'm a determined sort of lady/woman/girl/hot mama). I got as far as £43.20 before caving in and buying a stove-top espresso maker to tide me over for a while.

But I'm hooked. It's the low-techness of it that I love - fill the bottom with water, add a scoop of coffee to the filter, screw in the top and then stick on the stove for five minutes, until the sound of bubbling coffee manifests. As far as I can tell, all that might go wrong is having to buy a new rubber seal at some point. Bargain.

06 March 2007

Arts Corner: Venus

Now this I rather liked. It was funny, sad, and creepy in equal measure. Although the soundtrack by Corinne Bailey Rae made it seem far too chickflick for my liking, and will probably date horribly. But Peter O'Toole was quite fantastic - he really does do creepy old lech better than anyone else. It's rather disconcerting just how cadaverous he can be, even in a suit...