31 March 2008


Don't get me started on the perniciousness of pink.

"It felt like I'd woken up in some kind of one-party state (led by Barbie, naturally); a pink dystopia, and no one has even noticed."

It's not that I don't like the colour - hell, I've got a pink jumper, a couple of pink t-shirts and a fair selection of pink underwear...it's just that I think my two-year-old daughter should have a choice of colours to wear. Go into any high street shop or supermarket and everywhere it's pink sparkly fairy princesses with unicorns in tow (how on earth did they creep in?). And as Eleanor Bailey points out, even the clothes that aren't pink have pink flowers or sequins cluttering up the margins.

I've done the best I can - bought 'boys' colours, rummaged in charity shops for things from the 1970s and 80s and scavenged from friends. I refuse to spend a fortune I haven't got in Petit Bateau or Boden (as an aside, if you want to see Boden's latest range in all its finery just go to the Alnwick Garden on a Sunday - it's so wall-to-wall middle-class children, it's hilarious), and I shouldn't have to.

What's even more evil is that pink isn't confined to clothing. Anything aimed at girls, from 1 month upwards seems to only come in the colour pink. Pink books, decor, jigsaws, stickers...you name it, it's pink, floral and sparkly.

The upshot is, you might as well have a permanent sign round your neck that says "I'm a girl, aren't I pretty?" I really don't want that for my daughter - I want her to grow up thinking about other stuff, not just what she looks like. I'm all for celebrating your feminine side, but honestly, give me a break.

28 March 2008

Paint it...white

The decorating marathon continues.

The deep red Baroque hallway is no longer quite so red - in fact, it's pretty much white, and awaiting a final coat of off-white.

The 2ft frieze in the living room, with the decoration artfully picked out in yellow, is gradually going...white. The equally disturbing dining room frieze in blue will no doubt meet a similar fate.

I might be happy in around the year 2012 when I have whitewashed the house top to bottom. Either that or I'll need to move to Alaska so I can get my white fix year-round.

21 March 2008

Women and the web

Interesting article in the Guardian today about websites aimed at women. Apparently "women's websites offering intelligent content are booming, thanks to their appeal to those who feel patronised by glossy magazines".

Sadly, only in the States, to judge by the sites namechecked in the article, although there's an honourable mention for The Lipster (which I shall be checking out - although on first glance it's all a bit too music-related for me) and Dollymix.tv (yet more celeb stuff).

Over here, it seems to be all parent-related - mumsnet, Netmums et al. Maybe it's just me being bolshy, but I've never felt the need to go anywhere near any of that sort of stuff. I spend so much of my life dealing with a two-year-old - why would I want to talk about kids in my time off?

To be honest, I don't feel the need to spend much time on websites 'aimed at women' either. Fashion bores me to tears (although I can occasionally get excited about handbags), and I'll admit to having the odd glance through Heat in the supermarket, but celeb news leaves me cold. I'm not sure the opportunity to read about 'other women's lifestyles' would drive me wild with excitement either. I get news, comment and pop culture enough from the Guardian and Google News, and the blogs I read fill in the rest.

In fact, that's what I like about the web - you don't have to go to just one site and be forcefed their viewpoint (or read whatever they have decided 'intelligent' women should be reading), you can pick and choose what you read, watch and listen to. And the random connections that lead you through the blogosphere or via an odd set of websites throw up all sorts of things that you might never see otherwise, and make it far more fun.

Rant over. Back to work.

16 March 2008

Utterly bonkers, but brilliant

I've just come across this, in a random issue of Building Magazine (don't ask, I read some odd things for work...). It's called Hotel Monument, and is an installation planned for Grey's Monument in Newcastle, with a single hotel room at the top (complete with the lovely Earl Grey, who normally looks like this, and will be looming above you somewhat as you sleep).

When can I make a reservation?

Update: lots more info here

13 March 2008

A random selection of items

1. Granola to die for (I currently have a predilection for American-style pancakes, but this just might be my next obsession). Gorgeous photos on the rest of the site too.

2. The world's most inventive recycling site (love the story about the newspaper house).

3. Next instalment on the mag project - this week it's The Crack.

Right, back to work.

12 March 2008

oh no, I am working, honest

Always yearned for one of those shop assistant jobs where you float around folding up clothes, looking surly and avoiding the customers? Then this is for you - a handy guide to folding up t-shirts.

I've just gone and practised folding up several t-shirts, and I'm now pathetically excited. I really must get back to work...

11 March 2008

Oh, this and that

Over on the mag project, a review of the March issue of Olive magazine.

Back here in the suburban wilderness, we've given up remonstrating with the washing machine, and have ordered a replacement from John Lewis. The garden's a little more tidy, and the spring clean (apart from anything requiring laundering) moves on apace - I have managed to find a duster (although not actually use it).

Have I bored you into submission yet?

06 March 2008

Gadget hell

My appliances hate me.

Over the past month, my dishwasher gave up the ghost, my laptop decided that it would disable half its memory, my phone line thought it would be fun to sound like I'm making calls in a howling, crackling gale, and yesterday the washing machine decided to protest at being used daily for the last year and a half (I suspect it had an easier life during the reign of the last owners, a gay couple in their late 50s) and refused to budge any further than the cold water fill cycle.

Some of these problems have been easily (but not cheaply) rectified. We have a shiny new dishwasher, complete with labels on the controls and an instruction manual (both missing from the last, nameless, 15-year-old model - we'd been washing our plates on cycle 1 of 6 ever since we moved in, without ever having a clue as to what it actually did).

We have new memory in the laptop, meaning you can actually open Word, Excel and the internet all at the same time without the screen freezing. Which is a bonus.

The telephone line turned out to be water in the cable box outside (rather worrying, but that's the cable company's problem not mine), and was fixed within 12 hours by Virgin Media, in a remarkable display of efficiency.

The washing machine is sitting malevolently in the corner of the kitchen while we decide what action to take. I've suggested hitting it with a big stick, a la Basil Fawlty, although that's mainly for the purposes of making me feel better, rather than actually repairing the thing.

04 March 2008

the mag project

is now live. For a whole year, I promise to studiously review every magazine-type item I read.

Go here for the first issue. More will be forthcoming...

03 March 2008

Possibly the best thing I've ever found

I know, it doesn't look much here, mainly because I had 0.3 seconds to take a photo as it's some ridiculous hour and I should be in bed.

But trust me, this is really exciting - it's an original set of rubber stamps from Clarks in Leeds. A whole alphabet (in fact, two whole alphabets, in large and small sizes), a shedful of numbers, and some rather natty "finest quality", "special value", "per tin" and "per bottle" stamps.

I don't often fall in love with things in shops, but this leaped out at me when I was wandering round RE in Corbridge, shouting "buy me, buy me" extremely loudly.

I had no choice - I love lettering and fonts, so my credit card was in my hand before you could say Helvetica. Sadly, these are Times Roman, rather than my usual choice of sans serif, but you can't have everything. I'm guessing from the box that the set is probably 1950s/60s (it has to be pre-decimalisation), but if anyone can shed any light on the matter, or share some typesetting tips, do pipe up.