31 October 2010


Actually, not quite as spooky as this (taken at the Science Museum in London). The lightbox tables in the cafe are really weird.

22 October 2010

Mildred Hubble, eat your heart out

It was spooky dressing up day at school today if you were in the reception class. The playground was hilarious - small witches, pumpkins, skeletons and vampires everywhere you turned. But what I found a bit sad was the fact that all the costumes were obviously bought, and really elaborate. I don't remember this as a kid at all - when we had to do Halloween costumes for school or Brownies they were all homemade - you were a ghost in a sheet, or a witch with a black cape and a paper hat. I know people don't have as much time these days, but it's a bit sad that the ingenuity has been lost.

And anyway, we didn't have the requisite £10 spare to spend in Sainsbury's or in Tesco. So M went as Mildred Hubble (from the fantastic Worst Witch book), in decidedly homemade attire. To follow our example, you'll need:
  • some school shoes
  • stripy tights (these are M's school tights)
  • a grownup long-sleeved black top (this one used to be Orb's, before it shrank in the wash. We later customised it with some gold star stickers)
  • a red sash (this one is a piece of ribbon I was bought for the Jubilee in 1977 - it's red with white and blue stripes! It's amazing what you can hoard for 33 years...)
  • a witch's hat (I caved on this one, and bought it for £1.99 in Sainsbury's - I figured a paper one probably wouldn't survive a day at school)
Total cost: £1.99. Total time to make: about 10 minutes, by the time we'd found all the bits and pieces in various wardrobes and boxes. Bargain.

20 October 2010

Cat in a lunchbox

This is what greeted me at 5am yesterday morning, as I blearily lurched around the kitchen before catching the early train to London. Little blighter...what you can't see is that she's actually sat on M's lunch, as well!

15 October 2010

A busy week

On Tuesday, I made some rash and wild predictions about how I would get to the allotment this week. Sadly, that just hasn't happened yet. But all is not lost. While procrastinating, I've found these eclectic yet edifying links:

12 October 2010

Gardening ahoy!

It's a funny old thing being a freelancer. Sometimes you're stuffed with work - so much so that you end up working all hours and juggling six projects. Other times you're much quieter - and then the guilt kicks in that you should be doing more, along with panic that nobody will employ you ever again. There doesn't seem to be a happy medium.

I'm currently in a slightly quieter period. For once, it's nice - finally I have a clean(ish) house, I don't have to work every evening, and I get to spend some time with M when she comes home from school.

Look - I even got out into the garden in the sunshine, and cleared back the undergrowth!

Later this week I may even get to visit my sadly neglected allotment and cut back the chard mountain, in between the school run, cleaning the house, the laundry and ballet lessons. Actually, I might go back to work for a rest...

07 October 2010

On yer bike

This week has been all about the bicycles.

First, M learned to ride her new Islabike without stabilisers - and proudly tootled off into Dalby Forest on her first foray off-road. We've been really impressed by the Islabike - it's incredibly light and easy to pedal, and the child-sized grips and brakes are excellent. We were also really impressed by the grin on the small child as she finally 'got' it, and zoomed off through the puddles...

Next, Orb and I decided to find a bike each too - on the grounds that M's new-found enthusiasm for two wheels should be encouraged, and that it would help us all get out and about in the fresh air at weekends.

However, it's quite a while since we've done this cycling lark. I last had wheels at university - an ancient road bike that I painted bright green, which gradually had all its useful bits like panniers and bike lights nicked. Bike theft was rampant in Cambridge - you never knew if the thing would still be there when you came back from the library or teetered out from the pub. Everyone used to turn up to lectures carrying enormous bags - not of books, but bike saddles, clip off lights and baskets.

Orb, meanwhile, sold his bike as a teenager to buy his acoustic bass...so hasn't cycled for years either. In a burst of poetic justice, he's put his Kurzweil piano on eBay to top up the bicycle fund (hopefully his bike will weigh a darn sight less than Wilma).

Anyway, after a lot of research, we picked out the ones we liked. I ended up with a second-hand mountain bike (a Trek 3700 since you ask) from eBay, which has 21 gears. Given my last bike had three, this might be overkill, although I'm quite looking forward to the prospect of hurtling down and up a few hills. I suspect I'll be shouting "wheeeeee" as I head downwards, which may not be quite the done thing...

We shoehorned my bike into the back of our car to bring home (never try this in an Audi A2, folks). Orb's hybrid, however, arrived in the post today in possibly the largest cardboard box I've seen for some time, with a rather harassed courier man staggering under the weight. Once he's assembled it, it will be excellent, but for the moment it's in the corner of the dining room in about 300 pieces. I can recognise the pedals and wheels, but that's about the limit of my bike mechanic skills.

Now all we need to find is a couple of helmets, and a means of transporting the bikes. Central Gateshead really isn't conducive to cycling with a small child, so we're thinking forests, parks...in fact, countryside of any description. Whether we can actually remember how to ride the damn things, remains to be seen...