Sunday, 14 February 2016

Life Changes - But Change is Never A Bad Thing

So exactly how does one get back into blogging after such a long time.  A time which has seen so many changes in my life, our lives.  Jamie is now almost 16 and what a wonderful young man he is - and towering over his Mum by about 14 inches these days!!    My life is a constant round of planning and prep, teaching and marking as I have been a full time Business Studies teacher for some time now!  After time spent teaching in one of Her Majesty's establishments which I loved, I now teach at a FE college about 30 minutes drive from home.  It supplies a never ending source of work, stress, and satisfaction and usually leaves me exhausted by the end of the day.

Binnie is still my very spoilt girl and she has two new(ish) sources of companionship or annoyance depending upon the day or hour - Tiggy (Antigone) and Izzy (Inmene).  Tiggy is all mine and Izzy all Jamie's thankfully, although I usually get the job of cleaning up or fixing what she has broken.  They are cute and sweet and two bags of trouble too.

So with my career now there is much less time for the flowers etc but I am likely to be blogging much more about what is happening in the world and on a whole range of subjects which might just interest me on any given day.


Sunday, 9 June 2013

Les Miserables - Queen's Theatre, London

In April, during Easter break, Jamie and I had a day out in London and more of the daytime in a later blog (Tate Modern, Lichtenstein Retrospective and a yummy late lunch) but in the evening we headed to The Queen's Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue (just off Leicester Square and slap bang in the middle of China town - if you are heading that way there are loads of Chinese restaurants doing buffet meals for great prices (for London) near all of the theatres).  We had been lucky and had great weather until we reached Leicester Square when it began raining so we headed to Costa for a quick coffee until the doors opened. 

Les Mis has been my own favourite musical for some considerable time and saw it in London at least 14 years ago as it was LBJ (life before Jamie) when Mike fell asleep! (Rolls my eyes skyward!).  Jamie has become addicted since seeing the film (which we have seen a couple of times at the cinema and a couple now the DVD has arrived!!).  Jamie was uber uber excited and once doors opened we headed straight into the queue for memorabilia where Jamie was eager to get his hands on a hot chocolate mug and we got a poster and couple of other bits.

Word of warning - if you are in upper seating try to go to the loo before you get up there as there is limited toilet facilities higher up but other than that we had a great view of the stage from our seats.

What can you say about Les Mis - the music is the best bit, the tunes themselves can have me a quivering wreck, the lyrics are amazing, and the dramatisation is brilliant.  The whole performance was wonderful, no real names in it but it didn't matter a jot, well one an actor from Coronation Street who was playing Madame Thenadier.  The real joy of the whole evening for me, outside of seeing the wonderful musical again was to see Jamie's reactions at certain points, when he saw how they dramatised certain parts of the story, such as One Day More and Javert's Suicide, I was watching his reaction and he was enthralled throughout.

One of the best bits was getting near the end was to hear all of the sniffing of people trying to hold it together, they didn't and neither did we, a lady behind us pointed out that my face was covered in mascara but who cared it was fantastic.  Jamie loved it, he got out of the show everything that I had hoped he would and what a wonderful day and evening we had had - a total joyful experience.

Expensive - yes but worth every single penny!!

Reading challenge 4/20 - currently reading on Kindle TBC and in print TBC, War and Peace stalled at 10%

The Woman in Black - MK Theatre

Beware spoilers!

It has been quite some time but more of that in a subsequent blog .......  Jamie got the opportunity to see The Woman in Black with his drama group, which left me a little put out, as we had planned to see it ourselves.  So rather than miss out, and be running backwards and forwards to the theatre in Mum's taxi, I got myself a ticket and watched it too, although well away from Jamie and his drama group, much to eveyone's relief!!

Having read the book and watched the film, seeing how they were going to interpret the book on stage was intriguing, especially as it turned out there were only two actors in the production (well 3 if you count the WiB herself).  Sadly as with midweek regional theatre the theatre itself was well over half empty and with tickets at £30 for the circle maybe it would make good business sense to reduce the cost of tickets to try to attract more bums on seats.

Overall it was an enjoyable evening, and the story is retold via Arthur Kipps getting some help from an actor to learn how to tell his story to his family in his later years.  The actor guides him through retelling his story and the two characters replay the vital moments from the story and they did it well.  All of the atmosphere is built from the interaction of the actors, sound, lighting and menace that is built up.  There are one or two moments which make you jump in the production and it was a faithful retelling of the book- more so than the film especially with the ending of the play which sends you hope with just a little feeling of unease at the possible prospect of seeing the WiB. 

Sue Reading challenge 4/20 - currently reading on Kindle Tower of TBC and in print TBC/War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy stalled at 10%

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Merlin - The Ending

Really sad that the BBC Merlin series has come to an end and split over whether it should have ended or not.  From one perspective the story has pretty much reached its natural conclusion and followed the accepted stories to that conclusion, and there was a same again feeling to some of the stories especially Morgana who became increasingly unbelievable.  The other side is that there were other issues which could and needed to be explored further especially relating to Arthur, Merlin and magic.  I do feel the BBC have let the viewers down rushing to conclude this show prematurely and ought to have brought it to a better and more thought out conclusion than Merlin walking near Glastonbury Tor (?) in the present day with no explanation.
King Arthur and Merlin
I am also angry that they choose to broadcast the ending on Christmas Eve when so many children would have been watching.  I can say, with no shame, that Jamie and I were sat crying our eyes out to it on Christmas Eve.  We are looking forward to working our way through the whole 5 series again at some point - I think Jamie is hoping to get them on DVD for his birthday but overall I feel let down by the BBC.

Jamie was so upset he contacted the BBC and has finally had a response from them today which is below

Thanks for contacting us regarding BBC One’s ‘Merlin’ broadcast on 24 December.

We apologise for the delay in replying. We realise that our correspondents appreciate a quick response and we’re sorry that you had to wait on this occasion.

We’re also sorry you were disappointed about how the two part finale of ‘Merlin’ concluded.

Please be assured concerns about this issue were raised with the programme production team.

The first part focussed on Morgana and Mordred's plan to destroy Camelot's army at Camlann and the subsequent battle. As the relationship between Merlin and Arthur had been the core to the whole series we decided this should be the case for the second part of the finale as well. You may not agree with how we told the final piece of the story but we tried to stay as true to the end of the Arthurian myth as possible, whilst providing viewers with the opportunity to see Arthur accept Merlin for who he really is. The time jump at the end showed that Merlin was still protecting Arthur and awaiting the moment of his return.

Over five series ‘Merlin’ has evolved and grown to be a huge favourite with the audience and we're all very grateful to the viewers for their support.

I am sad to see the end of the TV series as it has ranked amongst one of the best shows on BBC for some time.


Monday, 7 January 2013

All Great Plans ....

So as with all great plans - you have to have a back up plan! - well the year hasn't quite kicked off as planned but we're hoping it means we get stuff out of the way at the beginning and it isn't setting a precedent.  So here am I putting off heading to bed as I have a serious chest infection (antibiotics etc) and a odious cough which ramps itself up for bedtime.  Jamie has a flu like illness and has had a raging temperature which has affected both appetite and xbox interest - both very strong indicators that he is ill.  He has also been very sweet and quiet so totally confirming any diagnosis a doctor could give.

We are thankfully on the road to improvement now although it may take another couple of days of TLC and terrible daytime TV before either of us is really back to being a happy bunny.  Yet as they say every cloud and I have almost lost my voice and am struggling to speak so everything is not all bad as Mike has confirmed!!  So fingers crossed this is our bad dose for the year and we are restored to health and vitality very soon!!



Thursday, 3 January 2013

40 Bags in 40 Days

I'm a great fan of Pintrest these days and love checking in to see what are the latest new pins - what tips and tricks are there to explore, what amazing colour or clothing combinations are there to have a look at, or just look at some pictures of my favourite places.  One pin that has caught my eye recently and which feeds into the new year spring cleaning bug which hits about this time of year is the 40 bags in 40 days which is basically finding 40 spaces in the house which need a de-clutter and working through them in 40 days.  So being someone who loves decluttering (I'm not quite sure how it gets that way as I have been on a minimalist kick for a little while now but anyway!) this really caught my attention so  I am now happy to get on with this as a great pre-spring clean project.  Below is one of the templates for the list from the website above which I'm using as my template.  I'll add my list in shortly and update as the project progresses!



The Secret Garden

We always venture off to see the Christmas production at The Stables in Wavendon (a great venue for those who haven't every been check out its website and see who is  coming in the next few months, they have such an eclectic mix - fingers crossed we'll be off to see Midge Ure later in the year).  This year it was The Secret Garden an adaption by Proteus Theatre Co of the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  The Christmas plays at The Stables are always so innovative, usually a small cast who use music and puppets so creatively that you don't even notice there may be only 4 or 5 in the group.

The production was good with really creative use being made of a very simple set and costume adjustments rather than changes.  All the acting was very competently carried out and you believed the story which was very faithful to the book.  I particularly like the use of shadow drawing to tell Mary Lennox's back story and how she became an orphan in India.  Of course the story was condensed and I really hope it inspired some to go away and read the book in full as it's such a wonderful story.

I loved the accents too, lots of broad Yorkshire (!!) and loads of references and descriptions of the Moors so it was all good there, Jamie saw the production twice coming earlier in the run with school, so keeping him engaged for two shows gives an indication of the quality.

A very enjoyable afternoon.


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