30 August 2007

Go go go Joseph

Tuesday afternoon

Bored two-year-old prowls the living room. Suggest drawing pictures to keep her quiet for 10 minutes while I have a cup of tea. Get crayons out, small child decides to create a picture of 'the Joseph man' (curly black hair, multicoloured coat, big smile - every colour in the crayon box used). Cup of tea drunk, I label the aforementioned features, and have a bright idea.

Half an hour later

Picture encased in an envelope (small child beside herself at the thought of sticking stamps on), together with an SAE. Placed in the back of the tricycle with Ballerina Bear for the trip to the post box, 200 yards away. Twenty minutes later, operation complete.

Thursday morning

Suspiciously familiar envelope arrives through the door, bearing a signed photo of the lovely Lee Mead in his Joseph outfit. Small child runs round the living room shouting 'he's wearing a dreamcoat. It's got buttons!' Quite.

Thursday afternoon

Yet more requests to watch the 'coat song'. My 10-minute amusement strategy might have backfired somewhat.

web 2.0 update

or how to distill hours and hours of messing about into a short list:
  • Facebook - yeay! (but very addictive)
  • Linked In - great idea, a pain in the arse to use
  • MySpace - hideous design, great if you're a musician/actor/venue
  • Twitter - go not near. Like being at a very boring, drunken student party, only worse (see also Big Brother).
  • bebo - sorry, ran out of time and energy. There's only so many social networks you can have.

29 August 2007

At last!

Yes, it's finally arrived (with only a little swearing at the computer screen...). A proper website showcase thingy for the stuff wot I do. You know, being terribly elegant and sophisticated with words and that.


Go see. Report back.

28 August 2007

Does what it says on the tin

There was a really interesting article in the Guardian on Saturday by a guy named Neil Boorman, who had decided to ditch his obsession with brands by corralling his branded possessions in the middle of the street and burning them.

Slightly at the extreme end, I agree, but made me think, nonetheless. My immediate reaction was 'of course, I don't use any brands anyway, I'm too clever for all that marketing schtick', but when I actually sat down and thought about it, probably a good 75% of my things are branded...even if it's only Tesco rather than Versace. Most of the rest are things acquired from charity shops, inherited from relatives or generally found in a skip somewhere. It's remarkably hard to buy new stuff without branding, when you come to think about it.

I'm a bit of a flirt with brands - and to be honest that's mostly affected by (a) price and (b) what's on buy one get one free or special offer at the supermarket/clothes shop/wherever. There's a few exceptions foodwise:

but for most of the time I'm happy to shop about. Not sure if that makes me a marketer's dream - I'll look at anything as long as the price is right - or a disloyal nightmare.

24 August 2007

Handmade by artisan weavers by moonlight

Best ever line from a catalogue, for all the wrong reasons:

"Jo Wood Organics is an ultra-luxurious collection of organic bath and body care products, and a natural extension of Jo Wood's passionate commitment to organic living, both in her family's day-to-day life and on the road with husband, guitar legend and Rolling Stone, Ronnie Wood."

Say no more.

23 August 2007

Oh come on, ref!

Having spent yesterday evening in a pub in Jesmond watching the footie with some friends, I can now remember why I don't do it very often: (a) we're rubbish at football and (b) I'm rubbish at football, can't remember the rules and get very distracted by footballers' legs (Thierry Henry, why oh why have you gone to Barcelona?).

I'm a Burnley supporter really, mainly because my Dad and brother are such huge fans. I've been to all of about five professional football matches (all of them Burnley), which, although not many, does include a trip to the old-school Wembley (which was full of people wearing claret and blue and shouting abuse at the referee - magic!).

But that was all a long time ago. I've not watched England play since, ooh, 2004, I think. Can't even remember which competition it was. We lost on penalties, anyway. Quelle surprise. And I returned home stinking of beer and sweaty blokes - we'd been packed into the Centurion in central Newcastle, and of course every time England scored, everyone in the pub flung their arms in the air and hugged each other...only they were holding onto pints of beer at the time. It all became rather sticky.

There was none of that last night. In fact, the pub was a rather sedate, if smelly affair. I'd not been into one since the smoking ban, and boy, did it reek. Of sweaty feet, stale beer and Lynx for Men. Frankly, I preferred the smell of fags. But I suppose I'll live longer. Oh well.

21 August 2007

Car wash poetry

Home Car Wash
Have your car
Washed at your
Door step

Car wash £3.00
Valet £3.00
Lager car and
Vans £2.00
Will require to

No, not haiku, but a flyer through my door, which I am dying to take a red pen to. At the risk of sounding like I'm 80-odd, what on earth are they teaching them in English lessons these days?

17 August 2007

I know just how he feels...

You know how in Studio 60 Matt Perry's character, Matt Albie, is always counting down to the next show, with his doomsday digital clock ticking away? Well, in suburbia the countdown to a hip and trendy late night comedy show has been replaced with the countdown to teatime. Woo!

We all eat together now, which is great (Jamie Oliver would certainly approve), but some days I find myself dreaming of the pureed sludge, and how easy it was. No sooner have I made one tea, than I seem to start thinking about the next...and it's getting harder to come up with something different. Maybe I've just got stuck, and need to start perusing the cook books again. After all, I do have about 200 of them, and it's about time something other than a baking encyclopedia made it off the shelves.

This week, for example, we've had:

Friday: pasta with chilli/bolognese
Thursday: bacon, courgette, potato and cheese gratin (thank you Nigel - the Kitchen Diaries are saving my life at the moment)
Wednesday: sausage, lentil and tomato bake
Tuesday: chicken and courgette stir fry with rice
Monday: not sure I can even remember that far back. But there were probably tomatoes and courgettes in there somewhere.

Right, off to think about tomorrow...all suggestions welcome.

16 August 2007

More tea, vicar?

Ah, the delights of the office tea trolley. I suspect that everyone's getting maudlin about the thought of builder's tea, melted Penguins, packets of prawn cocktail crisps and those little manky two-packs of biscuits that you get in hotels. Mmmm.

Actually, I shouldn't be sarcastic about this, given that (a) I've never worked anywhere with a functioning tea trolley, and (b) I currently work from home and have permanent access to a coffee pot and chocolate biscuit stash (Choco Leibniz, since you ask). Sadly I have to go downstairs to access this, but you can't have everything.

While I'm not much cop with tea trolleys, I can tell you that the BBC canteens are every bit as odd as they're made out to be. The one in Newcastle used to do a very good line in Danish pastries on Fridays, and their tea/toast combo for breakfast was excellent. But when you pottered into a deserted canteen at 9pm to heat up your tea in the microwave, it was all a bit spooky.

14 August 2007

Ooh, telly!

By some miracle, I have actually managed to sit down and watch two telly programmes over the last couple of evenings, instead of pootling about online and wasting hours on social networking. I know Facebook's hip and trendy, but lordy, it isn't half time-consuming. Time which could be much better spent goggling in front of another box, obviously, rather than reading improving books, sorting my filing pile or painting the damn wardrobe doors, which still aren't finished.

Still, I've finally got round to watching the first episode of Heroes, which wasn't bad at all. Liked the concept, nice script and watchable characters. 45 minutes passed quite quickly, and I'll probably give the second episode a go.

Jamie at Home, however, will be staying firmly in the box, although I'll probably buy the book because the recipes were excellent. Great lad, Jamie Oliver, it's just a shame he's so irritating on tv. Nice website though - and thorough, with stuff on YouTube, Facebook, MySpace...someone knows their marketing onions, that's for sure.

13 August 2007

The vagaries of the toddler brain

A warning: if you take your two-year-old to see a fantastic art exhibition, do not expect them to wax lyrical over ghostly mirrors, echoing dungeons or balancing teacups. Instead, you'll discover that the major incident of the day, recounted ad nauseam, was that our friend ran out of snacks for his two kids.

11 August 2007

Smoke and mirrors

Saturday, 10.30am. Small child running riot around the bedroom, demanding Andrew Lloyd Webber songs (note to other parents: whatever you do, never let your child watch programmes like Any Dream Will Do. It just leads to rack and ruin, and a small child who can sing "Joseph's coat was elegant, the cut was fine" at the age of 2).

What's a harassed set of parents to do? Head off into Northumberland, that's what, in a Triumph Dolomite SE, which as it only has a radio means we can avoid the inevitable demands for songs about Jellicle cats (that's the thing about Lloyd Webber musicals, one thing seems to lead to another...).

We spent the day at Belsay Hall in Northumberland which is hosting the Picture House exhibition. It's the usual mix of stunning (UnitedVisualArtists, Geraldine Pilgrim, antony with William Basinski), thought-provoking, and plain odd (Belsayland) installations, set in an abandoned Grecian-style mansion. It's a beautiful building, and the pieces mostly enhance the setting. And some are just fun - I loved UnitedVisualArtists Hereafter mirror, which showed the room with images of past objects and previous visitors layered with a time-delayed ghost of yourself moving around - hard to describe, but wonderful to watch. M had a ball, spinning around and watching herself spookily appear on the screen.

10 August 2007

Pregancy delights

It's not often I agree with Lauren Laverne, but she's written a really nice article on the odd situation you find yourself in while pregnant. For me, the thing that really stood out was the need total strangers felt to comment on my appearance and the potential name and gender of child. In a world where hardly anyone makes eye contact on the street, it was quite weird to suddenly be accosted by random people, some of whom appeared to be more in touch with reality than others.

07 August 2007

Arts Corner: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Well, Harry Potter 5 belonged to Imelda Staunton, didn't it really, in her perfect pink suit. Everyone else was allowed just enough time to say hello and advance the plot a fraction, but she rather stole the show.

And I loved the kittens.

06 August 2007

Things to do on a sunny weekend

After a weekend away in North Yorkshire, I can thoroughly recommend the following for entertaining a 2-year-old:

  • Helmsley Walled Garden (their new Secret Garden has a swing, there's lots of apples to look at and be prevented from eating, and best of all there's a fountain in the middle in the shape of a small boy cuddling a giant fish)
  • The Moors National Park Centre, Danby (the huge playground has a slide with a house on top, there's a great bird hide in the middle of a woodland that you can scare all known birds away from and the teashop does really good fairy cakes)
  • Hutton le Hole (the Ryedale Folk Museum has sheep! and pigs! and chickens! and the odd rabbit! and best of all the freezing cold village stream is very good for paddling and making parents get their feet wet)

And the ham sandwiches are pretty good, wherever you go...

03 August 2007

HP continued...

Dark Forces vanquished.


Broom safely in cupboard.


No snakes on the premises.


Normal service is resumed.

01 August 2007

HP. No, not the sauce.

Off out to see a film shortly - will report back on the delights of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

It's been a bit of an HP week, actually - I finally succumbed and bought HP7 in Sainsburys, and have been hooked ever since. It's taken me a while to get up to speed (if J K Rowling will leave two years between books, what does she expect? I've had a baby, moved house, discovered the delights of very strong coffee and proofread god knows how many words since then) but I'm really enjoying it. Characterisation isn't her strong point, and she uses a few too many basic adjectives for my liking, but boy can that girl produce a good plot. I'm currently in Gringotts, and can't for the life of me see how to get out.