Thursday, 31 July 2008

3bt: Haircuts, chasing paper, curry explosion

Took the boys for haircuts, Matt decided he wants a long, curly pony tail like one of his little friends. Luckily it isn’t long enough yet and the hairdresser managed to persuade him away from the idea.

Dropped a post it note from my notebook as I was wandering across the car park, the kids were rolling up as I chased it around in the wind.

Due to visitors, we were running a little late for cricket, so I had to give Matt a microwave ready meal. Now, I’m no domestic goddess but even I can’t overcook a microwave meal, surely. Matt was convinced I hadn’t done it for long enough though, so I had to put it in again. The first minute was fine, bubbling happily, then I got bored and wandered away - came back to an explosion of curry. He had Ravioli instead.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

3bt: One week in and counting …

Taking the boys clothes shopping - and arriving home all in one piece. On the way, hearing ‘Planet Earth’ , them for the first time, me for the first time in years (yep, it’s in the loft). Dig that nifty bass riff; John Taylor was heavily influenced by Bernard Edwards, if I recall, which could explain why it appealed to me so much .

Excellent customer service experience from the Uni of Kent Centre for Learning - friendly, helpful and efficient. A real pleasure to do business with.

Just finished reading Charlaine Harris’s ‘Club Dead’, a Sookie Stackhouse Vampire Mystery - great fun. If you’re a Buffy/Angel fan, give it a try.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Cirque Surreal

First impression on phoning up for information was impressive - straight through to a person who advised all the prices and that a side circle family ticket would work out best, £27 for three of us, Brad off playing cricket instead and not too fussed. However, second impression on calling to actually book, not so good. Queuing for ages, when finally through, the family ticket had jumped to £46.50 for the side circle, including the £1.50 booking fee per ticket! So we ended up in the even cheaper seats, the rear circle. But it’s acrobatics and stuff isn’t it, who aren’t going to stay still at the front of the ring. At just 1 hour 40 minutes including a 20 minute break, it’d better be good or I shall be extremely miffed with colleagues at work who were so enthusiastic about it.

Maybe it was the intense heat, maybe the ticket office had put me in a bad mood or maybe I’m just getting old - but I wasn’t overly impressed with the first half. The ‘hysterically funny’ clown I’d heard about was more like a less funny Mr Bean, with a bald head and white face. Frankly, I’d have been happy with a custard pie and ladder routine. I’m all for surreal provided it entertains me and /or makes me laugh but there seemed to be a lot of posey walking around and the initial bit of acrobatics was on the ordinary side. And then of course, came Captain Jack and the drain pipes (I didn’t ask). Like I said, we’re in the cheap seats but at the front with nothing in front of us. Until they took up residence there neatly blocking the previously excellent view of the ring! The act on at the time might have been good; I wouldn’t know.

The second half picked up though and thankfully, the best acts were those taking place in the air, on ropes, trapeze and, worth the admission price alone, The Wheel of Death or the Human Hamsters as I called them - real heart-in-the-mouth time. Back on the ground, there was a very impressive young man who juggled five footballs, whose co-ordination was incredible; forget patting your head and rubbing your tummy, try spinning a ball on the index finger of each hand whilst playing keepy uppy! Even Cap’n Jack had his moment with a bit of extreme yo-yoing; could’ve fetched himself a nasty injury had he got distracted. The gymnasts strength and suppleness was incredible, a tiny man balancing a woman in full arabesque in block ballet shoes - on his right shoulder muscle! Most unflattering costumes though, since the Emperor wore his new suit for a walkabout. Similarly, the lady on the single trapeze appeared quite blasé about twisting in mid air to catch the swing with her legs, and our clown also showed that the traditional kind of humour is sometimes more effective, calling on some audience participation to great effect. The acrobats came back and this time showed their full range which left you gasping: One guy must have done twenty side somersaults around that ring, without missing a beat. But back to the Hamster men - bottom row, 2nd left in the pics - that contraption was thirty foot up in the air, spinning vertically and they’re running around the outside! And not a safety net in sight!

Friday, 25 July 2008

Off the scale …

Reports are coming in from around the country of earth tremors shaking the foundations of many properties - Champagne Manors in particular seemed to be most affected. The reasons for this seemed shrouded in secrecy, until my spy at the local Champagne Manor confirmed there took place the unveiling of a new GethPic, courtesy of those lovely people at ‘Heat’ magazine.

From the same photo shoot as the ‘Dirty Man in Chains’ portfolio, the portrait cannot be aired in public unless the following Health and Saftey conditions are met: A) Be sitting down B) Make sure a responsible adult is nearby with a bucket of ice and some oxygen. C) Ensure an ample supply of Galaxy.

Are you ready for this?

*THUD*

Thursday, 24 July 2008

3bt: Kid’s names, welcome breeze, see it to believe it!

Laughing out loud at a report on the radio: A nine year old girl in New Zealand has been granted permission to legally change her name from, wait for it - ‘Tallulah does the hula from Hawaii‘. Whatever her parents were on, I hope it’s been confiscated. The judge also found someone called: ‘Number sixteen bus shelter‘. And I was told I couldn’t call Matt ‘Ayrton’ because “he’s got to live with it.”

Sitting on the verandah, eating leftover lemon sole goujons dipped in mayonnaise and being fanned by a light breeze.

This is amazing. I personally wouldn’t have had the patience to set it up.
video

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Sportsnight

Shooting: At the European Championships in Cyprus, Steve Scott won two medals - double trap gold and a silver in the team event, with Tim Kneale and Stevan Walton.

Athletics: Montell Douglas broke Kathy Cooke’s long standing British women's 100m record at a meeting in Loughborough on Thursday, clocking 11.05 seconds. This seals her spot in the individual event in Beijing as well as her relay place.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

3bt: Mad dancing, crash team racing, birds jamming

Just beating Matt on Crash Team Racing - 'Mystery Caves' - I'm normally useless on that one, always getting burnt!

Matt and me dancing madly round his bedroom to 'Dancin' a Catchy Rhythm', just before tucking him in for the night.

All quiet now, except for three little birds, jammin' in the trees. And 'Sidewinder' playing!

Reasons to believe Shakespeare really did write the plays what he wrote!



I’ve finally finished reading Bill Bryon’s biography on our greatest writer and thought I’d share a few observations.

That one picture we all see of Shakespeare whenever he’s mentioned, might not actually be him!

Philip Henslow, proprietor of the Rose and Fortune Theatre, had listed as a prop an invisibility cloak!

Admission prices to the theatre were tiered back then, as now:
A penny to stand
A penny more to sit
A penny more to sit on a cushion
The money was dropped into a box and taken to a special room for counting - the box office!


Bill Bryson effectively sabotages the case of those who claim Shakespeare was really Bacon, or Oxford, or Marlowe, dropping the claimants one by one through the trapdoor in their arguments, mainly because none of them had a shred of evidence about anything! Or were mad. Or the person they claimed was Shakespeare was actually dead before all the plays were written! Read it and next time someone tries to diss Will, quote like mad!


Shakespeare invented these words, amongst around 800 still in use today: dwindle; hereditary; excellent; barefaced and leapfrog. And the following phrases: play fast and loose; vanish into thin air; flesh and blood; and, my personal favourite - blinking idiot. In an argument with hubby, who’s a philistine when it comes to the Bard - he finished the rant against our greatest playwright with “ …blah blah blah a foregone conclusion!” And guess who invented that particular little beauty? I rested my case!

Monday, 21 July 2008

Medway Dinghy Regatta

We gave Matt the choice: Music or boats? So (as we suspected) we ended up at the Regatta, where Brad was helping out, the last of his volunteering duties on the Sportsleader course. Not many in the way of spectators, this is very much a participant sport and surprisingly not as costly as you may think: Wilsonian have a free tryout day during the summer and it’s also possible to join a crew to sample different classes before you buy your own. A family orientated club, with children as young a six catered for, costs are kept low by the members themselves running the club voluntarily.

Hubby was impressed with the bitter on offer; Rochester Ale, brewed in Chatham Dockyard, very light and golden in colour, met his strict taste bud code, honed down the years on IPA and Smooth. Saw Brad washing the floor in the clubhouse - you see, it’s times like this I really need that camera, I must make it a habit to take it everywhere.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

3bt: The things they say …

Grandad told Matt to keep the boxes his toy cars come in, because “they’ll be worth a fortune someday.”
So I explain: “But you can’t play with the cars, you have to keep them in the boxes to sell them.”
He won’t have it; he’s convinced that the boxes on their own sell for a fortune. We’re in for a long night. Thanks Dad!

Matt also decided this week that he wanted to be a vegetarian - but would still eat meat, if that’s ok!
More explaining: “Erm, that kind of defeats the object.”
“Why?”
Another long night!

“You’re going out again?!
Outrageous I know, two nights out in one week! What kind of a mother am I?

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Boogie Woogie Wonderland






Another night of musical reverie, another Italian restaurant, another toe tapping, handclapping experience; that was Jools Holland at Rochester Castle Gardens. The sun may not have been shining but the threatened deluge stayed away and Jools is the perfect host; easy going, light hearted banter set against a stonking musical tour-de-force in the olde worlde setting.

I live so close and yet this is the first time I’ve come along to see Jools - it won’t be the last. Pure entertainment from start to finish. So uplifting, how I’ve missed live gigs. There was a time Hammersmith Odeon charged me rent and there was also the Lyceum, The Venue, Dominion - I was always somewhere uptown at concerts. My New Year’s resolution was to hear more live music and I’m not doing too bad so far, albeit on a more local level.

Jools’s brother Christopher warmed us all up - he sounds so like Jools when he’s talking (I actually thought it was him at first) however, when he sings it’s less gravelly but just as effective - check out this here link to sample some of his tunes. (I liked the little I heard of ‘Love is the Answer' - very soulful sounding, reminded me of Earth, Wind and Fire - scroll down past the picture.) I’ll be looking out for his gigs.

A supreme performance from Ruby Turner as always; Marc Almond hadn’t changed a bit (except for a little bit of tummy). Still sounding good on a big band stylee ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye‘ complete with sax break. As you can imagine, ‘Tainted Love’ was well received and quite possibly heard all the way up the A2 to Dartford!

We found the perfect spot for next year; I’m not telling you where though, in case you come along and pinch it! Find your own! There’s a Pimms bar and a creperie if you want to spoil yourself, or you can settle for the usual burger/chips combo. Don Vincenzo’s in the High Street was my stop off point beforehand, I felt quite decadent eating out two nights on the trot. *Note to self: bring a hamper and cushions and get in earlier* Fold up chairs are supplied by the organisers, very thoughtful of them, although some people appeared to have transported the entire contents of their garden, which is why you need to arrive early!

Another practical point is - the tickets aren’t numbered, so you can organise a big group without having to book a pile of tickets all in one go - I’m planning my ‘Big Night Out’ already for next year!


Thursday, 17 July 2008

3bt - decisions, scattyworrying, food!

Thumbing through a few of the new adult education brochures over a large cappucino with Marilyn - scriptwriting - singing - Egyptology - what to do, what to do? We want to go for the scriptwriting but what if it's cancelled after three weeks again like last year, it's too late to join in something else.

Marion called me as I'm rushing around readying myself for 'Hairspray'. "We're running late, we'll drive to the theatre instead of meeting the coach."
"Okidoke," I say and dutifully pass on the message. Then spend the entire journey worrying that I imagined it and I've left her and Terry wondering where the coach is! Never been so glad to see someone.

We arrive in time to have some food! Yay! And there's a tiny little bistro where the coach dropped us off, so in we go. They specialise in a quick service for theatre goers and very tasty too.

HAIRSPRAY, Shaftesbury Theatre.

It’s bright, very bright! Wear sunglasses. I felt like I’d been shrunk and dropped into a packet of Dolly Mixtures! It’s a also an entertaining, fun night out, with awesome vocal talent on show, not just from the leads. With a serious underlying message there’s no preaching but instead some terrific cheeky lines that had us all ROTFLourAO! It appeared to be group booking night and we in the audience couldn’t contain ourselves, whopping and jumping out of our seats on occasion. Just the curtain going up for Part 2 brought about a major Gonzo impression from the conductor, which pretty much tipped us all over the edge.
And great to see Nicky Hambleton Jones has a more worthwhile purpose than just ‘Ten Years Younger’, as the delightful Penny undergoes a makeover at the end! See pics 6 (before) and 18 (after, 2nd from left!)

For a taster of what to expect in the show click here and view the video.

I also found a video blog for behind the scenes with the cast, for your enjoyment. Aren't I good to you?

Sunday, 13 July 2008

London 2012’s Inspire Programme

To coincide with the Olympics, the cultural Olympiad will run from 26th - 28th September 2008 to the end of the 2012 Paralympic Games. It has been created to inspire the UK’s young people to use culture and creativity to fulfil their potential. Underpinned by the core values of ‘Welcoming the World’ ‘Inspiring Young People’ and ‘Delivering a Legacy’, there will be an eight minute handover from Beijing to London on 24th August and this will be marked by events around the country. Among the confirmed cultural events will be the Shakespeare Society presenting ‘Shakespeare Now!’, the Arts Council’s ‘Artists Taking The Lead’ and ‘2012 Sound’ in conjunction with BBC Music.

For community and charity projects, the ‘Inspire Mark’ is a brand family, a first for any Games. Recognising non commercial projects and events rather than individuals it can be included in publicity, and is a variation on the Olympic Logo. Visit www.london2012.com/beinspired to see if you and your group can benefit.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

3bt: You couldn’t make it up, thrill seeking, it’s really a jazz thing.

Actually, you can make it up, to great effect, on the Thread for Lazy Journalists My contribution is on page 15. And now page 16 also! (Update 20/7/08 - this thread appears to have disappeared! I don't know why but will advise as soon as I do!) Update 22/7 -it's back!

“I’m taking one day at a time,” commented Scattyjan, “a thread of this magnitude requires careful attention. Too much of a good thing can make your eyes go funny,” she added, unscrewing the Optrex bottle.

The exhilaration of sliding down the longest toboggan run in England. Just as we crested the top out came the sun, lighting up the North Downs and a tiny rabbit popped its head up next to us, before darting away again. Trust me, it's faster than it looks!

Taking hubby’s car keys to work with me this morning - I’d dropped him and his friends off at the pub last night and put them in my bag when I came in. Received The ‘Scatty-by-name-scatty-by-nature’ Lecture and then thought: Hang on, he should be bloomin’ grateful I dropped him off!

‘Our Creative talent: building local voluntary and amateur arts participation.’

The plan of action was to hear a few opening speeches from representatives of interested bodies, followed by breakout sessions and finally, a panel discussion, where members of the audience had free reign to quiz the panel. Think ‘The Friday Night Project’, but less comfortable!

Mark Robinson, Executive Director of Arts Council England, North East, was very entertaining, as was Robin Simpson, Chief Exec of the Voluntary Arts Network, who incorporated a surprising twist on the Wizard of Oz to great effect. Feargal Sharkey (who some of you of a certain age may remember - he didn’t bring his perfect cousin with him) is now the Chief Executive of British Music Rights, an umbrella organisation representing the interests of composers, songwriters, music publishers and their collecting societies. He spoke with passion; it had to come from his good heart, since he had no speech, not expecting the full auditorium before him: “Music is inherent and built on spontaneity.” (Did you see what I did there?)

Amongst the speakers was supposed to be David Lammy, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Skills (Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills) – ie. the bloke in charge of adult learning; he was ‘called away on urgent parliamentary business’. He had, however, had the foresight to pre- record a speech! Maybe he did it there, on the hoof, maybe not.

To hear what they had to say click here.

Did you Know: Arts and Creative industries contribute to the economy more than many other areas altogether, almost as much as the Financial Service industries. Speculate to accumulate, eh, Mr Lammy?

Friday, 11 July 2008

3bt: No longer a technophobe!



Remember the pink lilies in the lilac pot? Their petals have been decimated by the wind and the rain, however, as you can see, the white lilies in the blue pot are more than making up for it.

Brad bought a digital camera which I have purloined for my own use and this is my first effort. I need to practice because I'm off to see Jools Holland next week, in the glorious surroundings of Rochester Castle. Anyway, I lined up this shot and - the battery went dead. Grrr, how long does that take to charge then, I ask him. "Mum," he says, rolling his eyes, "it takes double A's." And I even transferred it to the pc myself! Woohoo! Technophobe, moi? Not any more!


And Woohoo again: Target acquired! No more shelling out fivers to Weight Watchers - such a good incentive. I’m actually half a pound under target. That’s got to be worth a Ripple, hasn’t it? And a Pimms!

Talking of Brad, he picked up Matt’s fast food freebie Indiana Jones toy and almost fell over with fright as he pushed back the lid, unprepared as he was for the plastic scarab beetle that popped out. Wuss.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Edutainment Evening Launch

It was lovely to meet fellow case studies Penelope, Gil, Stanley and the author of Edutainment, Paul Devlin from Voluntary Arts England. Finding that Penelope and I have mutual acquaintances and with emails being fired back and forth between myself and Paul in the run up to the launch, we were immediately all at ease and chatting like old friends.

The evening began with performances from an excellent school group playing the bongos and a drama group – one girl was the spit of Cate Blanchett as Galadriel. The New Music Collective from Godalming College, treated us to some beautiful singing. So pure; sometimes, you don’t need any instruments.

The final group fired up a couple of kitchen sinks, two coke cans and kitchen utensils! Creativity in music needn’t cost much. I wish I could name check them all; unfortunately there was no programme for the evening event.

There followed an interview with Professor John Benyon by Susanna Reid from BBC Breakfast news. And a lot of what was said needed saying; John champions Life- long Adult Learning. There’s a huge benefit countrywide, not least because it’s proven that older people retain their faculties for longer if they keep their brains active; keeping fit equals being less of a burden on the state and stops loneliness and depression setting in. Or, as he put it: “Put them in an art class, you’ll keep them out of hospital.” They’ll be more from John under the conference posting proper, where you’ll be able to listen to the panel discussion.

Highlight of the evening entertainment for me was the Dan Swana Trio an unexpected pleasure to hear a few jazzy favourites to finish off the evening, while I finished off the Pimms. I asked what the trio were called and was told “just Dan and his mates”. Slight understatement, when you check out the website! Dan’s whole life is dedicated to music, not just his own but his involvement with youth groups, theatre and teaching, as well as playing with the likes of Branford Marsalis and touring with Swing Out Sister . And he has a Double Bass that, in my very humble opinion, is a masterpiece of contemporary art! I really must buy a decent camera phone.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Sportsnight

Archery World Championships: Nichola Simpson won the women's compound silver medal and earned a place at the World Cup Grand Final in Lausanne in September.

Canoeing: Tim Brabants won two silver medals in the 3rd World Cup event of the year in the 500m and 1000m K1 (kayak single), whilst in the K1 200m events Lucy Wainwright won bronze.

Not a lot to report this week, I'm guessing most participants are gearing up for the Olympics. Only 30 days to go; I hope they've all got their gas masks!

Monday, 7 July 2008

VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!

Forget General Elections, Big Brother and yes, even Strictly! This is the single most important vote of your life: Evict Coffee flavour Revels!

It’s coffee versus orange, there’ll be a replacement: Mint? Turkish Delight? Coconut? Mmm …as long as Bertie Bott isn’t Flavour Master, we can dig in without fear of the unladylike gagging that erupts when biting into a coffee one.

There is one drawback though - the kids will want to share. They avoid them at the moment with more vigour than Alistair Darling dodging lorry drivers.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Credit where it’s due

I don’t normally talk about the sports that receive a lot of media exposure, but I have to say that two triumphs fully deserve my attention this weekend.

“I’ll take her down …”

Brilliant - 14 year old Brit
Laura Robson, winning the Girls Wimbledon Title. That was her answer to “How do you fancy taking on the likes of Venus Williams?” Unfazed, enjoying every minute. Let’s hope they don’t ruin her with distractions and she doesn’t forget the ethos that brought her to this position. Smashing sense of humour too, check her interviews if you haven’t seen them - that quote above was one of the best.

“Hee hee hee hee!”

Lewis Hamilton’s excited giggle on the radio to his team, after a stirling performance at Silverstone. Expressed more than any words uttered by the ‘armchair experts!’

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Footie AGM, school sportsday, owl's well that ends well.

I think that not only have I volunteered to be 'Press and Publicity Officer' for Rochester BVFC (as they'll shortly be known - remind me to amend it) I may also have inadvertently become Events Manager too. Hubby's already mumbling on about "there's no housework getting done as it is ..."

Matt brought his relay team home to victory, storming through from last to first. And what a dip to the line. Bless him, he thought it was a bar instead of a ribbon and didn't want to hurt himself! It wasn't enough for his house 'Oak', to win overall but it made my day to see his face when they gave him the winners ticket. And it didn't rain! And, I took the day off work, being advised that I still have 8.8 hours left. Which, when you consider I only had 9.3 hours left before, is brill! (I do work longer than one and a half hours a day, honest).

Laying awake in the dark, there's a very insisitent owl calling loudly and clearly: Who who who? Who who who? Finally, he receives an answering call.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Away Days



I’ve been to the launch of ‘Edutainment’ and the National Conference that coincided with the DCMS/Arts Council publication of ‘Our Creative Talent: The voluntary and amateur arts in England.’ I’m not going to tell you everything in this one post though. I’ll break it down into manageable chunks, just like I do with those woofing great big bars of Galaxy …first off though, a few observations noted along the way.

Hubby suggested driving in with him, which meant he did the school run with me. “No wonder you’re always running out of time,” he grumbles, “you’re still in the playground gossiping with the other mums for ten minutes after they’ve gone in…” I correct him: That’s not gossiping, that’s honing our communications skills!

At a cross roads in Romford there’s a man on his balcony in just his pants, gearing up for the hottest day of the year, as it was. He thinks he can’t be seen (I hope so anyway) since he’s doing squats and toe touching *My eyes! My eyes!* Thank the stars it’s frosted glass.

On the train to Liverpool Street, we pass through Stratford - and a wave of nostalgia kicks in. The Two Puddings was a favourite haunt - I wonder if it‘s still there or been swallowed up by all the development?

A sign in Moorgate says: ‘Moorgate escalator works‘. It’s pinned to boards fencing in the escalator, which doesn’t!

I don’t do public transport and certainly not ever with a small suitcase. Think Brodie in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ - you know, where Indy says: He’ll blend in, disappear, he speaks a hundred languages, knows all the local customs …and then you cut to Brodie, meandering around, totally tourist. I finally suss out that to get through the barriers without the case sticking, it’s best to push it through first.

I arrive way too early at the Travelodge and decide to take a dummy run along to the Barbican - and oh, what joy: Hello, Farringdons! Books and cd’s, I could quite happily stay rummaging in here all day. I come away with a small square but extremely thick book ‘Jazz: The Complete Story.’ And ‘Songlines’ Magazine, which I’ve never seen before.
Stopping at M&S on the way back, I’ve a Brie, grape and cranberry sarnie, an M&S twix, pomegranate and raspberry juice, a Pink Lady apple, some sour cream and chive low fat crinkles and now have my feet up on a very comfy bed, watching the tennis, sampling the jazz book. I could get used to this.