Sunday, 31 May 2009

never under-estimate teddy bears

Elder son's girlfriend has just finished her finals. She has come through the euphoria, is now in the sleep-for-a-week phase, and soon wil be catching up on fun things to do. Apparently various bears - hers and her friends' - are planning a teddy bears picnic.

This reminded me of the Yorkshire church which, a few years ago, made plans for their usual teddy bears picnic. (I understand the bears did a bit of fund-raising on these occasions.) But that year, the bears explained to the organisers that they wanted to do something different this time, something more exciting than a picnic. What they really really really wanted to do, please, was abseiling. From the church tower, please. So they did. They had a great day, raised money, and got their pictures in the paper. My bears thoroughly approve, and I think would like to have a go themselves.

More on bears as the week goes on.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

highs and lows

I haven't posted anything for a while because I was in London last week with my great friend Daphne, the wise, generous-hearted, unflappable and easy to be with Daphne, who kept me calm and sane by coming with me on my London trip. There were colleagues to meet, Hamleys to visit, and Chelsea Flower Show to soak up. In between times we dipped in and out of the V and A, the National Gallery, the British Library, and Kensington Gardens. By the time I came back I'd topped up my reserves with the Wilton Diptych (didn't know about that until Daphne told me), lots of Italian paintings, Monet, the Lindisfarne Gospels, stained glass, sculpture, carvings, roses, delphiniums, sweet peas, the perfume garden, the Laurent Perrier garden, the Cancer Care garden, the little courtyard gardens, enough life and colour to top me up for months. (And I bought a hedgehog puppet. Not for me, of course.)

Things you may need to know.

The National and the V and A are the best places to go for cake.

They search your bags at places like that. But only on the way in. As a good Northumbrian, the only reason I didn't try to take the Lindisfarne Gospels home is that my case was too full.

Which brings us to the low. Newcastle went down for the first time in sixteen years. Geordie Pride is hurting badly. Hardly surprising, when they don't allow a manager to stay long enough to write his name over the door.

We'll be back.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


I don't do mornings. Perhaps I'm meant to run on American time, because everything kicks in a few hours late. On Wednesday, I had a trip to Oxford and decided to do it all in one day. There was a bit of panic on Tuesday as a headache moved in, but, joy! only a headache, nasty and couldn't take the hint that it wasn't wanted, but a headache, not a migraine. (Oh, help, I'm turning into one of those people who talks about her ailments. Zip it, woman.)

As I was saying, I told younger son to drag me out of bed in the morning and shove me on to the early train, the one he gets to work. It was a three trains each way journey, and I had a long time to wait at a main line station with a shopping precinct. I don't wear make up much, but a face like mine needs all the help it can get. I really like Beauty Without Cruelty but can't get it locally, so I bought a Body Shop lippy on the station.

Getting on to train number three, I found the lens had popped out of my glasses. I don't need them for most purposes, but for reading and such I do, and there was no way I could get through the day without any, so as soon as I got to Oxford (having a little time before my meeting), I looked for a chemist where I could by some cheapies. I fell into a pharmacist's shop establised in 1732 (or something) which is now a chemists/department store/treasure trove. Bought my reading glasses and - as it was a drizzly day and my early morning brain doesn't look for umbrellas - a sweet little lightweight pretty umbrella.

Meeting was excellent, positive, and that very important chance to sit down with an editor, discuss exactly what you both want in a book, and get to know each other. Two women bringing books to life over a pot of tea at the Randolph hotel. All very positive.

I still had some time before my train left and intended to go to the Ashmolean, but it was closed for refurbishment or something (they never consulted me.) I wandered down instead, strolled around the courtyard of the Bodleian and found myself in their beautiful little shop. There to my great surprise and joy I found a Hoffnung CD, including the wonderful monologue about the bricks. I've been trying for years to get that for my husband. I also found time to pop into a Waterstones, introduce myself and sign some hamster books, and go back to the wonderful little chemist, where I discovered tht they had - yes! Beauty Without Cruelty.

I'm not materialistic, really. But I arrived home on the right side of midnight with a lippy, a BWC mascara, a sweet little umbrella, a Hoffnung CD, and a very good feeling about work in progress.

And a headache. But the headache went, and the rest are still there.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

'er again

Ever sincer 'er 'ad 'er 'eadache, she's been scurrying about trying to get caught up with 'er stories and stuff. And 'er garden, of course. Every time a tulip pops open, 'er gets ecstatic. But, respect, as they say. 'Er's not so bad.

She was clearing out a lot of dead stuff from the rockery and finding there's gaps where gaps aren't meant to be, and talking about getting some traily flowers or summat to put in them. You know what that means. She'll drag 'im off to some plant nursery somewhere and they'll come back with 'alf the 'Anging Gardens of Babylon in the boot. Anyway, when 'er was doing all this clearing, she says 'Hello, Gnome,', as she does, and then she says, 'Would you like a change of scene?' Picked me up by me'at without so much as excuse me, or by your leave, and turns me round.

Now, it were a great liberty for 'er to take, but when I got over the shock I was pleasantly surprised. All my years in this garden I've been looking at the same blooming cotoneaster. Now I find there's purple traily things, and a tree or two, and for the first time in my life I can see that river instead of just hearing it glug.

She come out last week, said 'Good morning' and took a good look at me. 'you're smiling' says 'er. 'When you were the other way round, I couldn't see your smile.' That's cos I didn't have nothing to smile about, missus, and no more would you if you spent all year watching a shrub that don't do nothing.

Dunno what the snail thinks. Don't suppose 'e's noticed yet.