27 April 2008

Books, books and more books - or how to set up a publishing company

Simply inspirational.

(and she makes me want to head straight for the library)

26 April 2008

Incongruity

M hops round excitedly, wearing a very pink party dress (passed on from a friend who was a bridesmaid) and glitzy tiara and clip on earrings (thank you, Grandma), ready to go to a five-year-old's birthday party in a castle. (We'll leave aside the disastrous princess overtones for now, suffice it to say it won't be happening again for a while...)

"I really really like Jimi Hendrix", she says.

That's my girl.

25 April 2008

Ooh, I've come over all techie

This post is brought to you by Facebook...I thought I'd try out a new method of blogging. Allegedly, if I type this in my Blog it application, it will magically appear on View from Nappy Mountain.

Woo.

I've yet to work out whether it's actually going to be any use or not - the interface is pretty basic compared to Blogger's WSIWYG, so I'm guessing you should really use it for posting the odd quick status update, rather than long and meaningful posts that you don't want to disappear into the ether.

Which is what I do all the time (long and meaningful posts, obv, not the disappearing lark), not write meandering nonsense that goes nowhere.

On that note, over and out.

UPDATE: It worked! Wheee!! I'll probably use it twice, and then never remember it ever again...

Ramblings about gardens

I love the idea of guerrilla gardening which the Guardian's picked up on today - there's so much waste ground or dull grassy roundabouts that could be made beautiful with a few bulbs or flowers. Maybe I should get a few packets of seed, throw them about and see what happens...

Mind, in Gateshead, the council is really proactive about its gardening. True, it specialises in 'municipal', with serried ranks of brightly coloured flowers, but it's none the worse for that. I love the oddities that turn up like the random daffodils outside the Springfield Hotel. More hanging baskets would be lovely (but I guess the watering requirements are rather high).

Speaking of which, it's time for me to get a handle on my garden. Lots of veg planted (runner beans, sugar snap peas, broad beans, tomatoes, courgettes, potatoes, swiss chard); lots more to go - spring onions, carrots, salad...it's amazing what you can get into a few containers/baskets.

I'm also attempting to turn our balcony into a sensory experience with bamboo and grasses - it could all get quite noisy as the force 9 gales swoosh past down the hill.

23 April 2008

It's a beautiful evening...

...and for the first time this year we've sat in the garden with a glass of wine/beer after work. Marvellous. Roll on the summer.

20 April 2008

IKEA hack


Or how to make a bookcase for your child's room out of four wooden storage boxes... Solves the problem of how to deal with outsize children's books (everything seems to be A4 high and a funny width these days) in one fell swoop.

Cost - about £23. It's expandable as they grow taller, and isn't the ubiquitous Billy bookcase. Job done.

16 April 2008

Wisdom beyond their years

Overhead in the pedestrian street outside my house - three little girls (about 7 or 8-years-old) were playing with their bicycles, and chasing each other up and down.

"Now, you be posh totty, I'll be an emo, and you can be a charver...."

Which begs the question, how exactly does one ride a bicycle if one is posh totty?

Leaving aside such complications, it's nice to see that aspirations in Gateshead are as high as usual...

Knit one, purl seven

I'm currently in the middle of knitting a new bag (both sides and one strap finished, since you ask). It's navy blue, with a blue stripy lining. No doubt I'll post a picture when it's finally finished (don't hold your breath).

But I think I may be missing a trick. Bags, schmags. What you really need to make is:
The mind boggles. Back to the bag.

UPDATE: Ooh, check this - the Museum of Kitschy Stiches. I haven't laughed so much in a long time.

13 April 2008

Outdoor feasts

Actually, while I'm on the subject of picnics, let's quote Elizabeth David:

"Picnic addicts seem to be roughly divided between those who frankly make elaborate preparations and leave nothing to chance, and those others whose organisation is no less complicated but who are more deceitful and pretend that everything will be obtained on the spot and cooked over a woodcutter's fire, conveniently to hand; and there are even those, according to Richard Jefferies, who wisely take the precaution of visiting the site of their intended picnic some days beforehand and there burying the champagne."

It might be time to read Of Pageants and Picnics again - today's was good (chicken, potatoes and salad, followed by chewy banana flapjacks), but there was definitely no buried champagne. Maybe next week.

I do tend towards the leaving-nothing-to-chance school of thought (don't ever go camping with me - it needs a pantechnicon to shift the equipment). I can't bear the idea of being in the middle of nowhere with nothing to eat. Partly that's a consequence of carting around a toddler and usually requiring a bagful of pacifying snacks, but there must be an inbuilt fear of famine somewhere. Blame the Eastern European genes.

Hills and scones - what more could you want?

We went on a spectacular journey to Cragside today (made slightly nerve-wracking by the Triumph Dolomite SE deciding that it wasn't going to play nice, and losing power whilst making worryingly loud noises).

There's something about seeing hills that makes my heart leap - and today the view across the tops to the Cheviot, all covered with snow in the sunshine was just bliss. There was moorland for miles around, with the odd pheasant wandering about (some still slightly squashed by the roadside), and hundreds of sheep and lambs pottering about in their fields.

Of course, being an urban girl at heart, I sped past in the car straight to the National Trust property with tearooms, rather than going for an actual walk.

Said property, Cragside, was spectacular as always. It really is a beautiful house, but, sadly, with not a huge amount to amuse a two-year-old raring to climb up and down boulders outside. The sauna/plunge bath was fun, as was the kitchen complete with mouse and mousetrap on the floor, but it was always just a bit too crowded. Rather more fun was had outside, spotting the tallest Douglas fir in Europe, clambering about in the rock garden, and eating fantastic scones in the courtyard tea room in the sunshine.

We also had one of the chilliest picnics in living memory, and have decided that the summer starts here. From now on, we shall have a picnic or barbeque every weekend until the autumn.

Right, that's doomed the summer to rain, hail and sleet. Anything else I can jinx?

08 April 2008

Step back in time

It's strange how the smell of something can bring back such vivid memories.

It was the dill today that did it - the smell reminded me of going to the Polish Club in Blackpool with my Grandad, years ago, when I'd be about 8 or 9. We all went for lunch - and I do remember there being chips, which was a great highlight when you were brought up in a 1970s health food house like I was (Mum was way ahead of her time). I couldn't tell you what else we had, but the place (actually called the White Eagle Club) smelled foreign - a fragrant mix of dill, cigarette smoke and hair pomade.

Of blogs and travel

Blogged to death? Sadly, I think not. Despite my best efforts, this seems to be my first post in April - eek. Blame too much work, people staying (it's just rude to wander off and start blogging, I always feel), and the delights of attempting to work out a summer holiday.

Actually, that's taken up most of my spare time over the last week. You'd have thought it would be easy to arrange a trip to France for two weeks, especially when you don't have to find any accommodation, and you've resolved the 'how do we get there?' argument (trains win).

But no. For a start, you can't book a through trip from London to Bordeaux on Eurostar until three months before your return date. So, Sunday comes round, and the final dates become available. I spend three hours trying to work out the timetables, come up with a variety of prices, and coordinate UK trains with French ones. So long, it seems, that by the end of the evening all the cheap tickets have gone, and we're faced with paying an extra £50. Much swearing.

Still, it's only £250. Not a bad price for getting 2 people (plus a small, free person) several thousand miles. Unlike the cheapest rail price that I can currently find for travelling from Newcastle to London (£200). Much swearing again. It seems that not all the tickets for UK travel have been released yet - and I now seem to need a crystal ball to predict when that might happen. We live in hope.

Anyway, we attempt to book the Eurostar tickets, only to discover that the RailEurope website crashes when you use Firefox (more swearing). A delightful evening all round.

Only bettered by attempting to book a cattery the following morning, and discovering the only one with vacancies was charging £11 a day for the privilege. I love my cat, I really do, but £11 a day is ridiculous. Are they watching wall-to-wall Sky Movies and being handfed free-range chicken for this price?

Only car hire left to fix. I await imminent disaster.