Tuesday, 30 June 2009

A Little Heartbreaker...

There's been a little absence in my life over the past few days.

What with lots of to-ing and fro-ing between my place and J's over the weekend, we decided to let Alfie Bear have a play date/sleepover at J's with a few of his little friends.
This was on Sunday and I have not seen him since.

Today I received this photo, showing Alfie having a lovely time with all his new friends...

(That's Alfie in the red hat and scarf)
J tells me that Alfie promises to come home tonight but how can I can compete with never-ending storytime? I'm heartbroken to be usurped so easily.

Motherhood is a thankless task....

Monday, 29 June 2009

Muscles & A Minor Heatwave...

A miracle has happened...London is having a summer! Not only that but this week will represent a veritable heatwave for Ol' Blighty with temps forecast at 33C for the quarter finals at Wimbledon on Wednesday. And let me tell you, it's sticky, sticky, sticky...a good burst of rain would certainly freshen things up no end although moaning about the weather would make me sound dangerously British so please take note - I am merely 'suggesting' a rain dance...and purely for the benefit of my veggie patch...

J is at Wimbledon today being entertained by not only the action on Centre Court but also in the air-conditioned confines of The Gatsby Club (so he told me when he rang earlier today from the Champagne Reception...green-with-envy is not my best colour...), leaving me to limp around in the heat after a gruelling gym session yesterday morning.

You see, I decided that I needed to add a bit more variety into my weekday Esporta exploits and, having availed myself of a freebie personal training voucher, decided to put myself into someone else's hands for an hour on a Sunday morning. I thought I managed quite well during the session and, apart from feeling unbelievably tired at about 6pm yesterday and a few minor groans this morning when I woke up, was pleased that the aftermath was at least bearable...that is until I got up, and walked around, stretching and squatting to get to things on various shelves in the kitchen. Ouch!

There are those muscles up the sides of your thighs and the ones at the front just above your knees, not to mention my upper arms (all over) and my 'glutes' - if I don't move things are fine but just a tiny shift is enough for any or all of these to send me a little reminder that they are there...and not best pleased at being woken after such a long period of inactivity!

I promised my friend A that we would walk in Richmond Park for an hour this arvo - but shhh. Please don't chuckle too loudly (at the very least cover your gleeful grin with your hand) or my legs may just go on out strike or demonstrate vigorously in protest - and who knows how much that will hurt!

Friday, 26 June 2009

The Hunt For The Perfect Job...

Gidday chaps...sorry to be a bit quiet over the last few days...

This week has seen me take a brief sojourn back to my student days, getting up REALLY early to go to a course EVERY day (that's 5 days in a row and I am out of practice!) and well, whilst my body got really tired, my head got REALLY full. Too full, in fact, to get anything out that was remotely sensible and/or spelt correctly (enough for you to recognise the gist anyway). You see, I have just finished an intensive, week-long course to get my Prince2 Practitioner accreditation.

A what? I hear you ask...

Prince2 is a formal accreditation for Project Management practitioners and as I've done so much change and project management during my career, I thought it might be a good idea to get the badge to go with the experience and then add Project Management opportunities into my 'Hunt-For-The-Perfect-Job'.

I have not done exams since I left uni (we did two this week, sitting the final one this morning) and I'd forgotten that quiet, unspeakable stress, that tight knot in your stomach and that nervous intake of breath that occurs just before you read that very first question - hoping and praying that the answer will be blindly obvious and that all the swotting you did will pay off.

The good news is that, when I turned the paper over and started to read, it made sense. And at the end of the exam - excluding a few random thoughts like 'What if I filled in the answer sheets upside down/the wrong way?' and 'What if I am not the clever clogs I think I am and don't know as much as I thought?' - I felt confident enough that I passed.

The bad news is...I won't find out for 4-6 weeks.

Hrrruuumph...I hate waiting...

Sunday, 21 June 2009

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of...

In honour of J's daughter turning 16 last month, we decided to treat her to a trip to the ballet - not just any ballet but the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden - as she has danced for years (and years) but has never been to see the 'real thing'.
So Friday night we got ourselves a little glammed up to see the final performance of the triple bill, Jewels. Notwithstanding the climbing of the 193 steps at Covent Garden tube station (rather than waiting with the hordes for the lift) - a feat I am not at all keen to repeat - A & I had time to start the evening with a 'drink at the bar' of a rather lovely restaurant in Floral St, with A enjoying a foamy cafe latte and me, a well-deserved (or so I thought) G&T.
J joined us then for a back stage tour before the performance - A's cousin/J's nephew is a First Artist with the Royal Ballet so he (L) walked us past rehearsal studios, break out areas, opera sets and a rack of tutus so unbelievably tiny before leading us onto the stage...
Looking out into the empty auditorium was an amazing feeling and despite the fact none of we numpties thought to take a picture, the experience of it will stay with me for a long time to come.
Anyway, on with the show...in three distinct parts: Emeralds, a traditional take on English ballet, Rubies, a contemporary piece showing the impact of the arrival of the New York Ballet style (mine & J's personal fave) and then Diamonds, a beautiful, elegant ending incorporating the style of the Russian ballet (the one L appeared in and A's fave). A quick supper afterwards and we were on the second to last tube home - quite a successful night all round.
I just have this to say...
...I stood on the empty stage at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden...
It's the stuff dreams are made of!

Friday, 19 June 2009


We watched a great dvd last night - Defiance. It's based on the true story of the Bielski brothers who hid and led almost 1200 Jews through the Belarusan forests away from the Nazis during WWII. Whilst it starts slowly, as the forest community takes shape and everyone finds their new place, so does the film and themes like 'an eye for an eye' vs 'turn the other cheek', and the cost of life itself play over and over again. At the end of the film, the notes say that the two older Bielski brothers went to New York and continued to work together for more than 30 years - and that today, there are tens of thousands of Bielski descendents around the world.

I still find it difficult to believe that the horror of the Holocaust went on unabated for so long and that there are people around the world who actually don't believe that it happened at all. We were fortunate enough during high school to meet a Holocaust survivor and when I remember his stories and the dignity with which he valued his life and honoured his beliefs, I still feel moved.

But what was so inspiring about the movie is the community that was created - where everyone participated and worked and received the same reward and recognition of their part in return - and the courage of these people to believe and to act when Tuvia Bielski led them away from the familiarity of their ghetto to a life 'worth fighting for' - both frightening in different ways but perhaps the unknown more so. Watch this movie and I reckon it will raise questions about humanity - including your own.

You can click on the blog title to view the trailer for yourself.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Aussie Boy Made Good...

There has been much mooning and dreamy talk about Robert Pattison (Twilight) and Chris Pine (Star Trek, The Princess Diaries 2) over recent weeks, and while that's all well & good, I want to add one of my own - Simon Baker.

Young Simon (Baker-Denny) first came to my attention in Aussie Soap E Street in 1989 and like a fine, fine red wine, has simply improved with age. Even playing bad boy Christian Thompson in The Devil Wears Prada did not divert me and with twinkling eyes and 'ever-so-naughty' smiles abounding in his current lead role as Patrick Jane in the Mentalist, is it any wonder that the baddies always crumble...I know I would...sigh!!!!!

ps...he's quite a good actor too, no really he is...truly!
pps...I learned today that he is only 2 days older than me, making him a fellow Leo/Rooster - surely his wife and three children can't compete with that?
ppps...J has Keira Knightley to go weak-knee-d about - so by my calculations, we are even...

Sunday, 14 June 2009

News From The Patch: Report Card June 09

For those of you who follow this blog regularly, you will have already read about the great 'Strawberry Picking & Sticky Fingers' incident but I thought it was time to update you on all of my little (and not-so-little) one's progress in the Veggie Garden nirvana that is Windmill Rise. I am delighted to report great news on most fronts:
  • All salad leaves and herbs are thriving and supporting numerous weekend bbqs in partnership with organic tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers & celery from my local veg-box deliveries. Special mention goes to the four remaining pearl lettuces (is there a plural for the word 'lettuce'?) that, in spite of an unpromising start, have managed to commandeer a small plot of soil next to the rocket/mizuna...well done chaps!
  • Tomatoes and courgettes are flowering and so we are eagerly awaiting the appearance of the fruit (which, based on the strawberry 'lifecycle' I have seen, should follow soon). Also, all tomato plants have grown taller than their stakes and I am debating whether to leave well enough alone or venture in with loftier support structures...hmmm a tough call...

    • The dwarf french beans have...well, little dwarf french bean flowers budding! This is quite exciting given that these were off to a slower start than the others in the class. Slow and steady eh kids?
      • And the strawbs - my lovely strawbs - have been unphased by earlier nefarious activities and, exhibiting true British 'stiff upper lip', are continuing to fruit, fruit, fruit. I have already picked another two ripe-and-'reddy's (geddit?) and am monitoring the dozens of green ones daily to ensure that I nip any future strawberry poaching in the bud!
      Unfortunately, this has been a challenging period for my champion runner beans. They may have run 'wildly' up the bamboo frame to begin with but in the last week, the poor little blighters have been hit hard by an attack of both green fly and black fly. Spraying seems to have brought the infestation to a halt so I will take extra care to monitor them in the next little while and hopefully we will have better news from these guys next time. Snails are also finding selected pots quite homely (who knows why the fussy buggars choose only one of the dwarf french bean pots and not the other) and, much to my chagrin, I have resorted to laying snail & slug pellets...

      Anyhow, that's all from the patch this month...I hope such promising progress continues unabated and that next report finds me with more little successes to report!

      Saturday, 13 June 2009

      Finding the words...

      Since I began this blog, the highs I have shared have been punctuated with a few lows, both my own and those of people close to me...and with news of two further burglaries and one impending 'passing away' in the last 4 days, I feel quite lost for words...but, in flicking through a magazine yesterday, I did find the following quote...take what you will from it but it moved me, and I wanted to share it...

      "Every one of us is called upon, probably many times, to start a new life.
      A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job...
      And onward full tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore.
      To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another - that is surely the basic instinct...
      Crying out: High tide!
      Time to move out into the glorious debris.
      Time to take this life for what it is"

      Barbara Kingsolver, from High Tide in Tucson

      Wednesday, 10 June 2009

      All Hail Valley Girl...

      As most of you know, I am quite new to blogging having only really taken it up in earnest from March this year. One of the things that always fascinated me was how people find each others blogs and comment - I follow about half a dozen blogs at the moment (which I have discovered though all sorts of means) and I have always wondered what it would be like to have people comment on my blog. Blogger 'pundits' have always said that it takes a while and you just have to keep sending your stuff 'out there' (whilst figuratively patting me on the head like I am a small, impatient child)...

      But today it happened to me!

      Imagine my joy to login in this morning and find a Comment Moderation email. With great excitement, I clicked on 'YES' to publish and I am pleased to announce that my first Gidday From The UK comment has appeared!

      All Hail Valley Girl!

      Monday, 8 June 2009

      Strawberry Fields & Sticky Fingers

      So I am here wondering what to write about today...deliberating over a review of the Star Trek movie I saw last night or the AMAZING chocolate-caramel cheesecake at Frankie & Benny's afterwards (will these hips EVER be thin???) Or perhaps a vent about the non-collection of my recycling AGAIN. Maybe a little pre-sojourn into my busy week ahead...

      But it's all being eclipsed by one thing...


      Not just any strawberry either. My very first one to go all red and be ripe for picking...how bloody rude!

      I've been monitoring the progress of two particular strawbs, waiting for the perfect moment for picking them so that J and I could share the sweet taste of [strawberry] success together. It was all planned for the weekend...and when I went out to pick them, this one was gone.

      Crushed (not unlike a strawberry daiquiri - at least when you've finished and you are trying to suck more from the dregs at the bottom of the glass), I plucked the remaining one from the bush and took it inside, cut it in half and sadly offered to share it...strawberry scrumptiousness indeed!

      I have been thinking about the likely culprits - who do you think got their sticky 'paws' all over my strawbs? Could it be the neighbour two doors down, outwardly supportive of my gardening exploits but with a deeper desire to poach the fruit of my labours? What about the local wildlife - maybe it was an ambush conducted under cover of night by Bob the badger (J tells me he's been seen lurking in the area) or a raid by a posse of Windmill Rise squirrels or one of those well-bred, well-fed, Kingston foxes, breaking cover from their usual stomping ground amongst the bin sheds.

      But someone in particular has been looking rather pleased with himself of late and I'm beginning to suspect that maybe the culprit is closer to home...

      So what's this all about Alfie?

      Saturday, 6 June 2009

      Everyday YAYs...

      It's been an interesting few days for me with plenty of new conversations to have around my next opportunity (you know, the one where I'm not a lady of leisure any more?) I also wore my fabulous new fuschia jacket for the first time this week (a bargain Florence and Fred find) and got lots of great comments on it...and tried another new hairdresser (despite initial raptures, the last cut turned out to be far too unmanageable to look always-fabulous) which has gone much better. So a good week for me all round...

      But is there something in the air...a weird moon or something? Because things in my friends' worlds have not been so great. Discovering news of one's ectopic pregnancy yesterday and then finding out this morning that another had been burgled earlier this week while she, hubby and kids were asleep was just...shocking. I can't think of any other word to describe how I felt. I mean in a logical sense, I know that crap stuff happens to good people and all that but these terrible things happening to these wonderful strong women friends of mine just seemed so out of the blue and almost too much to ask anyone to deal with - one with a betrayal of her body and the other, a violation of her home.

      You might think that this makes my 'good news' week seem trivial in comparison. But it made me think how important it is to pay attention to all the great little moments in life - a bit like eating a really juicy slice of watermelon, savouring each bite and letting the juice run down your chin - so that when things are 'out of season' the wonderful snatches of everyday are the things that get us through. So this is me sending out some of my everyday 'YAY!s' into the world and hoping it gets us all through...

      Tuesday, 2 June 2009

      A Windy City...

      They are building the world's largest offshore windfarm...in the Thames Estuary off the Kent coast...and all I have to say is


      Okay well maybe I have a bit more to say. I have been an advocate of alternative energy production methods for a little while now - actually since I attended a talk at The Melbourne Writers Festival about 8 years ago that revealed that solar panels on the roof of the Victoria Market generated energy equivalent to powering a number of the surrounding suburbs...and 'Joe Public' seemed to know nothing about it! Whilst some reports of late seem to claim that the UK has an abundance of fossil fuel which could continue to support current methods of energy generation, it's not renewable and it will run out - maybe not in our time but certainly at some time.

      Anyway, I am really thrilled to hear about this project - and Friends of the Earth say that it could be generating power in time for the 2012 Olympics. Now that's a result that will no doubt fuel a few Olympic-sized PR dreams...

      And there's News from the Patch: The strawbs are almost ready for picking - a couple are almost all red and I can't wait to actually taste one that I have grown...stay tuned for some 'summerberry' snaps soon...