Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The Hills Are Alive - The Sound of Music - Milton Keynes Theatre

On Tuesday evening, we all went to see the Sound of Music starring Connie Fisher and Michael Praed (from Dynasty!). It was very enjoyable indeed. All the performances were incredibly good and even Mike enjoyed it - he has a habit of falling asleep at the theatre!

Of course all the songs were there Climb Ev'ry Mountain, My Favourite Things, Do-Re-Mi (which Jamie and I sing in the car quite often!) and my favourite Edelweiss.

I was very impressed with the way they portrayed the political events in the story and brought a sense of menace from the Nazi's, and the way the audience became the audience at the music festival. The set worked well and the costumes were colourful and looked spot on.

It was interesting to see Michael Praed, Prince Michael of Moldova from Dynasty (I used to love it!!!!) and I was impressed by his singing , I always used to love him in Robin Hood too. Connie Fisher, well she was good, but not for me outstanding, a very solid and workmanlike performance, but for me she appeared to lack charisma.

The children on the other hand were absolutely wonderful, the stage really did light up when they came on, they were funny, brilliant at their roles and sang wonderfully. For me they were totally magical and were the highlight of the show.

Overall a very enjoyable evening.




Reading challenge 9/16 - currently reading Lovers and Players by Jackie Collins

Spandex Waistcoats or Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet at the LG Arena (NEC as was), Birmingham - Sunday25th October

This was our first visit to the NEC since Metallica in March and our first look at the revamped arena, and we were suitably impressed with the arena itself. It has an airport lounge like entrance hall, very spacious and a range of food and drink vendors with everything from fish and chips and pie and mash to champagne, wine and cheese, and almost everything in between, so everyone is catered for. The jacket potatoes at the NEC were always pretty good and I can confirm they are still as good, Mike had a burger which seemed pretty substantial too. Whilst the prices were more than the high street they were not exhorbitant as both came with a drink and we had change from a tenner.

The main problem we found was that as you always expect at the NEC you have to park somewhere over near Coventry and get the bus service to the arena, and pay £8.00 for the priveledge too. The buses used to drop you right outside the arena but now they drop you well away from the arena itself and now you access the arena from the new entrance which is a 10 plus minute walk to and from where the buses drop you. Plus we were not told where the buses would pick us up so after the concert lots of people were looking for the buses. We found this strange as a road runs alongside the arena but that seemed to be solely for taxi's and a new corporate area.

So overall great new entrance and catering, but serious issues with the parking.

Now for the concert, some pictures and the set list below. I have always liked what Spandau did in the 80's so I'm loathed to say really that it didn't travel. It was for me just a little bit too much style over substance, I guess it always was, but these days I am looking for a little more from music and especially live peformances. Tony Hadley sang well, Gary Kemp appeared to have rediscovered his London accent, Steve Norman looked amazing and Martin Kemp was the crowd favourite, probably a few of the many many ladies in the audience were Eastenders fans! I have seen a lot of 80's music this year and this concert was not up with the best of them, but I am pleased to say I have seen Spandau Ballet. Sad but true, so true ....!!

The Photos (pleased with some of these)

Great to hear those early ones from the New Romantic days, like the new single too, bit dull mid set, picked up again with Through the Barricades. Would have liked to have known the DJ pre their set was Rusty Egan before the end of the show!

The Setlist

To Cut A Long Story Short
The Freeze
Highly Strung
Only When You Leave
I'll Fly For You
How Many Lies
She Loved Like Diamond
Once More
Round and Round
Man in Chains
With the Pride
Through the Barricades
Paint Me Down
Chant No1
Fight for Ourselves




Reading challenge 9/16 - currently reading Lovers and Players by Jackie Collins
Jamie's Reading challenge 10/12 - currently reading Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull by James Luceno
SLYMI - 1/52

Friars Again - Stiff Little Fingers, Penetration and The Disco Students

Mostly photos* again for this one - it's Friars time again. For a detailed review of the gig and loads and loads of photos check out the Friars website at

It was back into Friars mode again today as it was the second gig in the Friars comeback. Still feeling a little yucky I wasn't looking forward to it, but as it turned out I had a good time even if I didn't get to see too much of the bands!

The souvenir edition of The New Roxette for the event ... well worth checking out their website too at

Mike headed over in the afternoon to catch up with some friends and get some shots for the website. The guest list organisation was so much better this time with our Access All Areas passes ready and waiting for us - sorry, but I still love wearing them. What does it get you - well for Mike who needs to be here there and everywhere it does help. But this time the best thing it did was missing the loo queue and getting onto the balcony, sadly it didn't help with the queue at the bar!!

Almost ready to go ...

We caught up with all of the brilliant people Mike has met through Friars and heard about some of the aggro from the afternoon, which was just starting as Mike left. Punks will be punks - well no as there were some very punk looking people who were shall we say middle aged and who were very friendly.

Again the best aspect of the whole event was the atmosphere and the reunions. To say it is moving when you see people who haven't seen each other in 20 plus years, who have been brought together by music, is an understatement. It is hard to explain how much joy, enthusiasm, camaraderie, fun, pleasure there was and people were just having a cracking good time. Check out BucksTV as they have a feature on it too, the way people talk about Friars it almost brings a tear to the eyes -

Some well known punks, back in the day!!

Mike and I were busy on the Membership desk with another Sue and her brother and there were even more people joining this time, largely because the event was sold out. I had my photo taken by 2 young chaps who thought it was a bit of an event getting their Friars membership cards, I guess that encapsulates it all really enthusiasm for live music and a fantastic atmosphere to watch the music.

Sadly I missed The Disco Students set entirely being on the Membership Desk, but Mike said it went down very well and Simon Cheetham was pleased to receive his Friars Award. They also have a single out at the moment "I Met My Girlfriend At a Friars Gig" with David Stopps doing his intro! check them out at - you may spot a resemblance to some of the Friars artwork too.

Penetration were next....

singer Pauline Murray, one of the leading ladies of punk ....

Mike presenting Penetration with their Friars Award - Pauline was totally bowled over by it ....

Here she is with it in the dressing room

Oh NO! They've let him loose with the microphone again!!

David Stopps surprised Mike with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work on the website, well deserved too, if I may say so. He is in very good company artists such as Genesis have also been awarded this, there are not too many of them around!
Jake Burns cutting the cake with Sarah Woods it's baker - doesn't it look fab ....

mmm ... and tasted good too!

Ally McMordie from SLF ....

Jake Burns, looking slightly different to my memory, but still sounding exactly the same, well apart from his bad cold, chest, flu type thing which caused them to have to pull a couple of gig either side of Friars, but I suspect it would have taken a lot for them to miss that one, it plays an important part in SLF history. Hanx for the memory!

What else can I say, well perhaps only what I overheard a punter saying, "It's just like the old days" and everybody loved it. So what now, only a few weeks to recover and then its Kid Creole and the Coconuts and China Crisis - we are moving into the 80's for that one!




Reading challenge 9/16 - currently reading Lovers and Players by Jackie Collins
Jamie's Reading challenge 10/12 - currently reading Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull by James Luceno
SLYMI - 1/52
* some are mine, some courtesy of him indoors website - don't forget to check the website out at

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

College Week 5 - This Week was Good!

The best week at college so far .....


Here is my hand tied which I hate, although the wrapping is good, everything looks to be in the wrong place for me and I seem to have a line of foliage through the arrangement. Not happy with that one. Taking photos of the work and then looking back at them is a wonderful way to assess the design as so often you can pick up on something with the camera lens that you cannot with your eye, so I find it a great learning tool.

Student Council

On Monday I attended the Student Council, along with D, one of the younger students on the course. I felt being on the Council would be a good way to get some of the issues which we are finding a bit of a pain aired, and it was. I can't believe how much I have changed over the past couple of years. Going to a meeting and speaking out in front of 40+ people would have crippled me but now, hey I go say my piece and that is that. I aired the issues that were bugging some of us oldies in the class, such as parking, council tax letters, lack of mature student provision or activities amongst others. So now I am waiting for the next meeting , next half term to get feedback on the points which I raised. It was an interesting experience.


By Tuesday I was not feeling too well and was struggling with the cold that Mike has had for a couple of weeks, well until it developed into swollen glands, chest infection and other bits, he is still not too well now. I haven't been anywhere near as ill as Mike and ensured I got into college, even if I wasn't firing on all cylinders, so to speak! I am pretty disappointed with my symmetrical arrangements too, not a good one, didn't flow at all so think it is really pants. I will have to try a lot harder with the next one! It even looks worse in the photo than it did in reality!! Poor shape, uneven colour mixture, dominant foliage etc etc, I won't go on.


Very pleased with this one though and think it looks pretty good, a couple of things to improve on but it was a first attempt and signed off at first attempt too. I would want more colour contrast if possible, and I would put the main flowers in with some string to guide me to keep a straight line, which I think may make the arrangement look just that little bit better. None of us were very happy with the size of the Akito roses this week. They looked beautiful but were just too small and didn't have the impact that they should have done, they were not powerful enough to be the focal point.

Managed to drag Jamie away from a computer long enough for him to do a jigsaw, hooray!




Reading challenge 9/16 - currently reading Lovers and Players by Jackie Collins
Jamie's Reading challenge 10/12 - currently reading Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull by James Luceno
SLYMI - 1/52

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Saturday and Sunday - Cricket and Funerals and Flowers

After all of the usual stuff, the weekend was taken up watching some cricket and working on the funeral unit of my Floristry Course.

I had thought I may not like that aspect of the course, but actually I am really enjoying it and finding the work involved in the funeral tributes very therapeutic, relaxing or whatever word is appropriate. There are two styles to funeral work the loose style and the based style. Once you have grasped the style of the design and the technique to put it together then you just have to change the size or shape of tribute and the rest is concentration and hoping the design flows. I often feel that once you start a design, it just comes together, it all flows very naturally and then sometimes, less often thankfully it just doesn't and no matter where you place a flower or bit of foliage it just never seems right. The designs which flow are brilliant and fun and those which don't, well you just have to work that bit harder to get them right.

The loose styles are the single and double ended spray, open wreath, loose posy pad and cross which we have done so far and I particularly like the sprays and crosses, as someone said in class you get into the zone and just put the thing together. So this weekend I typed up a lot of my class notes and put together some information for the assignment I will have to complete on this unit later in the year. I am pleased with the progress made on this unit now and I suspect a lot of the techniques used will move onto the wedding unit too. At college we made the double ended spray and I brought it home and put it in the bay window, but a funeral double ended spray is the same design as a wedding top table arrangement.

I am looking forward to having a go at a chaplet in this unit, as I think they look particularly tasteful, although of course as a Florist, personal taste has to stay out of it. I still feel my work flows better if I like the design and colour scheme but I guess that is the same with any job or work, or anything really, you do the things you enjoy with more passion than the things you don't.

And just a word here about Stephen Gately, it was very sad to hear of his death as he seemed to be such a nice and talented guy. We never saw him on stage, but he seemed to have found a niche outside of his boy band persona and would have gone on to greater roles too, I suspect. Whilst never been an out and out Boyzone fan, I certainly enjoyed my fair share of their music I have found this so much more of a shock than MJ, perhaps because of his age. I also was appalled with the sections I read from the Jan Moir column and felt her comments were extremely unpleasant and to me went beyond anything which should have been written at that juncture. She is of course entitled to her opinion, although I don't share it, and there is a time and place for it, but that was not it. And the funeral was very moving as I was listening to it whilst working on some flower arrangements and the music was beautiful.




Reading challenge 9/16 - currently reading Lovers and Players by Jackie Collins
Jamie's Reading challenge 10/12 - currently reading Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull by James Luceno
SLYMI - 1/52

Firework Fiends and Foes

One of the things I truly hate about this time of year are the fireworks, well not actually the fireworks I love those and the fun they can bring - what is more fun than letting a few fireworks off or watching the organised displays which can be magnificent. The cold, the sparklers, the colours, the oohs and aahs, the hot soup and sausage sandwiches when you get back inside, that is all lovely. And I have some really fond memories of bonfires and fireworks in my childhood and hope we have managed to give Jamie a taste of that, even if we can't have bonfires anymore.

No what I hate is the irresponsible way some people behave when the shops start selling fireworks. As we are now approaching that time I know before long we are going to be bombarded. I am happy to hear them on the right occasions, as it can be such fun but do we need them night after night, and sometimes even in daylight.

My passionate hatred of the irresponsible behaviour comes from two aspects, one being an animal owner, I happily accept that on the night itself and often the Saturdays either side we are going to get the parities, so be it, we can accommodate that. Make sure the cat flap is locked and the cat is in, make sure the TV is on a little louder or there is music playing to drown out most of the noise. I'm a Jack Russell owner so I know she is going to bark and make a fuss, she sees it as her job to warn us and she is probably scared herself. But it is the night after night repetition of a couple of fireworks (and well really they are not that are they - they are either bangers or screechers for want of a better description).

And I know I am not alone as a pet owner who has to suffer their animals being distressed by the thoughtless behaviour of others. Perhaps the only time I am content that Mika and Nelson are no longer here is around Bonfire Night, as they both got highly distressed in their own way. Mika would go mad to get into the garden and bark and bark and bark, running from one side of the garden to the other because of the noise. Nelson on the other hand was utterly terrified and would be sick, wet himself with fear and the only place he could be was sat on my knee and even then he was distressed.

The other reason I hate it is our Asbo neighbour who thinks its fun to let a few fireworks off at any time day or night in the weeks leading up to BN and then on the night itself well he likes to start just as everyone else is finishing. This pattern was started by the brainless father, and continued by both Asbo sons, the mother even joins in. They are a family loathed by all who live around them and we are all waiting for the onslaught to start again, well I'm writing this blog as he has started already and we have had one pack of screechers things already.

And all of these people who cause such a nuisance to those people who live around them and the animals who share their lives, do we think they know what we are celebrating on Bonfire Night. I doubt it and perhaps I should give it its proper name Guy Fawkes Night. Perhaps the retailers and manufacturers need to think about their responsibility too. Fireworks seems to have got bigger and bigger and bigger, moving away from the colour and fun to being totally ostentatious, although maybe the credit crunch may stop the excesses we have seen locally in some years.

I am not even going to discuss Halloween! We thankfully will be well out of the way on Halloween as we have tickets to see the delicious Mr Barrowman in La Cage Aux Folles in London on that evening and we are looking forward to it very much indeed - we are currently deciding what to do in London for the rest of the day - Westminster Abbey maybe part of the plan.




Reading challenge 9/16 - currently reading Lovers and Players by Jackie Collins
Jamie's Reading challenge 10/12 - currently reading Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull by James Luceno
SLYMI - 1/52

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Thursday - A Bit of a Catch Up

Time for a bit of a catch up as lots of things have been going on, too much happening but not too much time to blog about them. I've been pretty busy with college stuff, as expected. So not too much chat just some pictures to reflect bits and pieces that have been happening.

A picture of Jamie with his gold award from school, he has been working very hard in Maths and this was his reward, well done Jamie, if he continues to work hard and stays on the top table for Maths up to half term he is in line for another award too, an xbox game he is very keen to get!

Some floristry pictures too - some arrangements and practices I have done with flowers from our wedding anniversary and ones I have brought home from college.

This was a go at a spiral posy, which Janet had shown us at college, rather than the flowers being placed around the posy in a traditional style (see below where each flower has a very particular place to be in the design) they are spiralled around, a more flowing design, a more contemporary style of all round posy, I like this style very much, a potential Christmas design here I think.

Akito roses in a very simple line arrangement in one of my fave dishes for this arrangement, they are a beautiful and elegant variety of rose, but do bruise very easily.

Mine own design here a mass arrangement of roses, lovely for a simple supper arrangement, easy to do and effective.

Some of the flowers I brought home from college, we get to take home everything we have left on a Wednesday to use and practice with over the weekend. Can you see the pittosporum tenufolium, this is a big big favourite amongst all of us floristry girls now, it is so versatile and pretty and works so so well with Akito roses as the white in the variegated variety matches the roses and it just seems to make all the other foliage 'pop' with an added vibrancy.

Above is a single flower in cello wrap with a not too bad bow, they are not easy to make from scratch, you have to develop your own technique.

A flat backed bouquet with a nice bow, this is missing it's tissue paper but I was practicing sealing this one and am pleased with the result. I now want to have a go at a really really really big one!

A single flower in kraft paper (yes that is the proper spelling - it's a special type of paper!) with a pretty bow, the bow always has to be in proportion to the flowers!! This one is really pleasing.

The spiralling stems on my hand tied (not trimmed down yet) but really pleased with these. If I can get it to stand I usually dance around the kitchen, as that is the test for a hand-tied - does it stand!!!!

Quite tight at the top end, but I like this look, more like a bridal bouquet I suppose than the hand-tied you would buy as a gift, this is just a practice one and had all the flowers I had to hand in so the colours are not important - but you can see the pittosporum in the centre, are you loving it yet? I managed to hold quite a few stems in my hand and was pleased with that - hand tieds make you use different muscles in your hands I may end up with an arm wrestlers grip - ha ha!!

Not sure if I have mentioned but I got my PTLLS certificate through and I passed at the higher level - Level 4 - hooray!! So I am pleased to bits with that, I now need to start thinking about getting a couple of hours teaching which is really really exciting. I need to have a chat with someone soon about that and see what I need to do and where I need to go and who I need to speak to I guess.

I have also been watching a little bit of cricket the 20:20 championships in India and I am cheering on New South Wales, well Brett Lee plays for them, so why not.




Reading challenge 9/16 - currently reading Lovers and Players by Jackie Collins
Jamie's Reading challenge 10/12 - currently reading Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull by James Luceno
SLYMI - 1/52
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