Monday, 23 August 2010

End of Year 5 and Some Other Odds and Ends!!

I cannot believe it!! Jamie has now ended Year 5 and he has only one more year left in Junior school - where has the time gone!!  I had many many things planned for the last week of term so that everything was neat and tidy and all of the jobs were out of the way but as always life comes along!!    So it is goodbye to the burgundy jumpers and hello to the black of Year 6 - some more name tapes to be added!!

I was planning to head off for my monthly crop but I got hit with a stomach problem which in the end caused me problems for a couple of weeks.  It's a condition I've had on and off for a long time but it hadn't really bothered me too much for some time, but it hit me with a vengeance - so I never got to my crop and spent about 4 days just sleeping.  I managed to walk to school but until Thursday that was a struggle too.  When I was awake I spent the time watching daytime TV and as Mike said - "You must be ill to sit and watch that!!" and how right he was.

Daytime TV can provide a great service to a great many people but it could be a little more interesting than just a diet of antique and house hunting programmes, I am only talking about BBC as I didn't even venture onto ITV and their daytime output.  I could never be ill enough for that!!  My silver lining was that I was ill after I finished college and not during as that may have caused a lot more problems!!  But I am hunky dory again so all is good!!

So we have embarked on the summer holidays with the usual late morning starts - lots of playing with friends for Jamie and we are having a few days out and short breaks here and there and just some time to come down from the very hectic year we have all just had!!  The summer holidays seem very short this year and it is unlikely we will be able to get away for a proper holiday due to other commitments but there is still plenty of fun to be had and I am looking forward to having Jamie at home full time!


Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Wind in the Willows Starring Jamie!!

Jamie has been attending drama classes on a Saturday morning since September and having lots and lots of fun at the end of the third term all 3 age groups got together to put on a performance of Wind in the Willows.  Jamie was to be the Chief Weasel, the chief bad guy!!  It was a good part to get as there is always lots of fun to be had when playing the baddie!!

I wasn't allowed to take any photos and have yet to order them from the official photographer but I will get around to it - I must put it on my to do list but it was a brilliant afternoon.

The kids were totally brilliant and there were outstanding performances from each and every one of them - with one just a bit more outstanding than the rest!!  (Well I am going to say that - I'm his Mummy!!)

Jamie had to wear black leggings and a black T shirt and he got to wear a crown and sit on the big wooden throne as the king.  We had some fun finding him some leggings and found some ladies ones at Tesco - which he loved wearing as they were so comfortable - but I better not tell anyone that!!

Jamie had his speech, rallying his weasels in Toad Hall and he had a big fight too when they all came to oust the weasels - it was jolly good fun.  And the best bit of all - all of the children really enjoyed themselves and you could see and then hear from them afterwards what a totally brilliant time they had all had.

Well done to everyone and to Katie the teacher too, and an extra special WELL DONE to Jamie!!!!!

Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure

Flower Arranging A Step by Step Guide

I have over the past few months watched quite a few flower arranging and floristry DVD's and I would highly recommend this DVD  especially for the beginner as it takes the viewer through some of the basic techniques needed to create some of the very basic designs which form the building blocks for almost every other design.  It also covers some basic introductory steps such as how to soak oasis, tape oasis into the container and condition flowers such as roses and gerbera.

The DVD covers a line arrangement, a round posy style arrangement, oval dinner party arrangement, symmetrical (or triangle) and L shaped (asymmetrical) style arrangements.  The DVD also uses lots of home grown foliage so attempting the designs should not be too expensive for the beginner or for those just wanting to have a go.  The DVD would be an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to take up this fantastic hobby or who may be thinking of signing up for a flower arranging course.

I also learnt a couple of things from the DVD too, such as how to open an iris which is tight in bud and a couple of techniques which differ from how I was taught, but it is always useful to try out other ideas.  The introduction to each project gives a list of flowers and foliage required which is always very useful.  I think this would be a really useful starting point or as an addition to flower arranging classes. 

Flower Arranging A Step by Step Guide DVD - Duke Video March 2009 - running time approx 70 minutes


Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure

Saturday, 21 August 2010

NAFAS Show Harrogate - Part 3 - Miniature - Effervescent

Here goes for the next batch of NAFAS Annual Show photos from the class entitled Effervescent, again any missing are due to my poor photography, an odd comment here or there from me and as always in awe of the talent and ideas that come from each and every design.

This class is also the petite class which means all of these arrangements are no more than 4 inches tall and that makes these designs even more awe inspiring.  Miniature or petite designs should adhere to exactly the same elements and principles of design as larger arrangements and all parts of the design need to be in scale and harmony.  A miniature/petite design should look like a scaled down version of a larger design.  Every part of the design needs to be thought about carefully from the container, the flowers and foliage through to the scissors used and how to place the stems into the foam or medium.  After care too, how are you going to water a small arrangement?

To create a beautiful arrangement at a 'regular' size can very often be challenging enough but to do that in miniature is a real challenge and to do them as beautifully and creatively as the designs below is a real achievement.

I love the fluid design of the base which suits the arrangement perfectly and is in proportion to the height of the design and the mixture of a very traditional arrangement with the addition of the acetate(?) cones which gives it a modern twist and highlights the title of the class.

This design has a futuristic feel to it, almost representative of a space satellite or a moonscape, there is a great mixture of textures in the arrangement which emphasise the category and the use of the glass base adds to the whole reflective nature of the design.

This design really does effervesce out of its foliage base and was created by a designer who entered from Pakistan, The Floral Art Society of Pakistan which goes to show this wonderful hobby extends throughout the world and across many boundaries.

Here the design uses a piece of driftwood which shows that the designs can incorporate any aspect of larger designs as long as they in scale and proportion to the design, and the base adds to the movement within the design.  I like the shimmering effect, it gives an impression of a piece of coral, you can almost feel as though you're underwater looking at this design.

A nice all round arrangement here in a monochromatic colour scheme, the designer has gone for a bit of bling too and echoed the shape of the arrangement in the diamante on the base.

I really like the base of this design, can't remember if it was slate or leaves but either way it achieves a distinctive look.  I also like the use of Equisetum hyemale (snake grass) which is a wonderful foliage to work with as it so versatile and can be used to achieve interesting shapes in arrangements when bent at angles.  Again a bit of bling in this arrangement too creates an overall interesting modern looking arrangement.

I love the shapes and movement of this design and another piece of brilliantly shaped wood.  My concern with this design is the lack of covering on the base, perhaps the designer wanted a wooden base to match the wood but I would have preferred to see that covered for me it seriously detracts from the design, which is a hug shame as this could have been stunning for me.

Bling again and another all around and I love the look of the container in this design.  In this design the flowers and foliage are the dominant element.

This design is lovely and refreshing because it doesn't use gypsophilia.  Choosing which foliage and flowers to use in miniature designs must be quite difficult because you really need to use the who flower or leaf.  I will need to check whether you can manipulate petals etc, as I believe it is preferred that you use the whole flower or floret (smaller blooms which make up a larger flower such as a hyacinth).  The mixture of lighter and darker wood adds to the movement in the design, there is lots of texture and the bling works so well.  I'm not sure what the flower is but the small amount of foliage at the base works and brings the plant materials through the whole design.

I really like this design too (with the exception of the silver foil), but there is a lot of work in this piece.  I love the movement which bursts from the top of the design and the pipping of the flowers (I think they may be molucella (Bells of Ireland) and each floret has been threaded to achieve the result which is lovely).  Pink and lime green is always a lovely colour combination and I like the variety in the foliage it brings texture and colour variation which works, although not sure about the purple. 

An entirely different design again which gives an old fashioned flower arranging feel about it as well as the genie appearing out of the lamp at the panto!! 

This reminds me of fireworks and sparklers so it is meeting the class title very well, nicely done again.

This appeals (it would its lime green!!) but also it uses one of my favourite sundries the medalino and it has a really interesting shape with lots of movement.  The plaiting of the leaves must have taken some time and looks very very neat, but otherwise quite a simple design of repetition, which I feel can always be very effective.

I like this one too, as they have used a glass bell as the base of the design and arranged around and on top, which shows there are no boundaries to what you can use.  I like the line of roses which establishes the strong central line in the design.

A different style of design again, and more dark and mysterious - it looks a bit like a sea creature opening out to catch its prey!

More gypsophilia in this design but used in a totally different way, and I like the use of CD's as the base of this design against the black background works very well.  Two separate arrangements which are linked togehter well and look like they just flow into each other.

This was lovely but my photo is very poor, but really like the look of this design, cone shapes were very big at this year's show!

A very traditional looking arrangement and very nicely done, the colour harmonies work well together, I struggle to get a good shape with this style of design at normal size yet achievieng it at 4 inches is something to be amazed at.  I really don't envy the judges having to pick a winner out of all of those!

Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

NAFAS Show Harrogate - Part 2 - A Page From History

Here are another batch of photos from the Nafas show in Harrogate.  This time it is the A Page from History class, with just a few comments here and there from me.  One of the areas which always fills me with wonder is the wonderful variety of topics that competitors choose to adopt, and how they can interpret the same title in so many different and unusual ways, I am often filled with awe and envy at the ideas they have come up with. 

Again if any from this class are missing it is because of the quality of my photography and all comments are just my own opinions.  This was a much larger space to fill and I think everyone has created amazing interpretations of the title.  A couple of these photos I cannot remember the name of the design but here goes ......

DNA - the double helix - nice to see science brought into floral arrangement.

D-Day - a lovely interpretation of the theme, down to the helmet made from leaves, lots of textures and ideas in this one

Queen Elizabeth I - I loved this one, a wonderful interpretation, but sadly not a prize winner

Sadly I can't remember the name of this one! but a very interesting looking arrangement

Wars of the Roses (I think) I really like this one too, an interesting theme to pick, but very appropriate whilst in the heart of Yorkshire

Florence Nightingale - a lovely arrangement (I bought a stand very similar to these at the show too!) just a few varieties of  of flowers put together very well.  Have you spotted the lamp at the back of the arrangement.

This may have been Capt Cook and the discovery of Australia or it may have been something to do with Tahiti - sadly I cannot remember.

Bonnie Prince Charlie and The Scottish Rebellion,can you spot the tartan and the tartan colours in the design?

I could be totally wrong but I think this maybe Manchu Pichu (if this is your design and I have got it wrong I am so sorry!!), I love the wood and the different textures and the flowers hidden away at the back in the rain forest!!

One of my favourites, The Suffragettes and it was a wonderful interpretation of the theme, using their colours.  The flowers are beautiful - totally - the most amazing colour anthurium (I can't tell you what colour as they aren't in my identification book!) and some lovely roses and the prado pino dianthus - it is simply a stunning colour combination and those colours against the iron railings - I just love it

78 Derngate Northants - the Charles Rennie Mackintosh House, again a wonderful theme to choose and a lot of work and thought has gone into this design.

VE Day again another really interesting interpretation and a very traditional looking arrangement.

Galileo - another of my favourites because of its modern styling and interesting use of shape and texture, I also like the use the wire in this design and science in floral arrangement again!!

I cannot remember the title of this one, but not sure about the black candles but they are co-ordinated well with the very dark anthurium.

An obvious theme for this one and nicely interpreted, I may have done more with the basing but it was mossed from memory so lots of work involved there.

I think this may have been Captain Cook or Tahiti but I am not sure.  I loved this one, with its use of exotic flowers and such a variety of textures there is interest throughout this design for me.  I would have liked to have seen all of the mechanics hidden but I am being very picky - I love it!!

There are lots more photos still to come which I will get loaded in due course........


Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure

Film Reviews - Shrek Forever, Toy Story 3 and Eclipse

Caution as there may be some spoilers if you haven't already seen the films!!

Due to college getting to the cinema has been a bit more intermittent than is our norm but we have been catching up with a few of the latest releases.

Shrek Forever After (or was this Shrek 3D part II!!)

I am not yet convinced about the whole 3D phenomenon and wonder if plot is being compromised for action in 3D - although the plot in Shrek was not a bad one - what would have happened if Shrek had never rescued Fiona - how would the lives of the gang turned out.  Well it turns out that Far Far Away would have been taken over by Rumplestiltskin and his evil witch cronies and that all ogres were outlawed, Fiona became the leader of a gang of Robin Hood like ogres trying to free the country from Rumple's evil clutches, and Donkey didn't know who Shrek was. 

A typical fairy story plot with all of the usual characters from the previous films, Shrek is bored with the hum drum of everyday life and makes a deal with Rumplestiltskin for a day of excitement but as a result he looses everything.  The highlight of the film is Puss in Boots who has let himself go a bit, no longer the handsome daredevil but a real  pampered lap cat, fat from lots of food and milk.  This is of course a fairy story so we know how it will end but a good fun film nevertheless.

Toy Story 3

The long awaited follow up and again it was a good fun film and poignant at times too.  Andy is now grown up, the toys, those who have survived, are left in a box in Andy's bedroom unplayed with and Andy is now heading off to college.  The  favourite toys are to be packed up and placed in the attic, as Woody says for Andy's children, others to the local nursery school but a mix up leads to them heading out with the trash.  They survive and all end up at the nursery where they meet some new friends, but are they as friendly as they seem?  Sindy is delighted because she meets her soul mate Ken!!

The toys then have lots of adventures trying to get back to Andy before he heads off to college as he has planned to take Woody with him, there are one of two quite hair raising moments.  Of course it all ends well, but it also ends and it is kind of happy and kind of sad too, but a really enjoyable film.  I was pretty tired when we went to see it - and I have been know to nod off during some of these films but it kept me awake.  Jamie thought it was the best of the 3, perhaps because its the first one he's seen at the cinema, but all round a good film.

Eclipse (The Twilight Saga)

My favourite of the 3 films in this review, but not really surprising on that score.  Again more of the same, Bella is in trouble, Edward and Jake try to help her, lots of action in this one and possibly the darkest of the 3 Twilight films so far.  For me it's a no brainer I'd take Jake over Edward any day but then Bella is Bella!!

There are some interesting themes raised in this story about the nature of love, morality etc, but I prefer to look at it as a straightforward vampire, love story.  As I haven't read any of the books yet, it was interesting to get some of the characters back stories and find out how  they came to be part of the Cullen clan. 

An enjoyable film!!  I don't know how old Taylor Lautner is but I know it is so wrong but what a handsome boy - but please for us olders can he keep his shirt on a bit more - no what am I saying keep the shirt off!!!
Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure

Book Review - A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle

Beware spoilers!!!

I have had this book for ages and ages and finally got around to reading it and found it quite difficult to put down at times, which is usually the sign of a good book!  And it was!  I have enjoyed lots of Roddy Doyle's  books and looking on Amazon have several to catch up on too.

This book was set in Ireland from around 1900 to 1922 and tell the story of Henry Smart from his birth to the age of 20 and boy does he pack a lot into those few years.  Henry is born into the absolute poverty of Dublin circa 1900, families living in one room, maybe 1 child in 4 surviving infancy, squalor, rats, illness and eviction accompany Henry's family life of no money and no prospects.

Henry's mother disappears from the story early and we don't know what happens to her, Henry returns to the family home and she has gone, as there are two more installments of this story perhaps there is more to come on that part of the story.  Henry was named by his father after the already dead son of the couple and from that moment when Henry is only a few days old his mother appears to resent him having that name.  Henry becomes a street kid, almost feral and learns all the tricks of living in Dublin and surviving on the streets.

His father is a bouncer at a Dublin brothel and the best thing he teaches Henry is how to escape from the police, "the rozzers" through Dublin's sewer and river system and the only thing he gives him is his wooden leg which Henry carries with him.  He again disappears quite early, killed on the instruction of the mysterious Mr Gandon who owns the brothel.  And then from the age of 4 Henry is pretty much on his own on the streets, he is joined on his adventures by his younger brother Victor.  They briefly find sanctuary in a church school with the teacher Miss O'Shea but that again doesn't last long.  Victor's cough (consumption) eventually takes him as it did so many of the children and Henry is truly on his own.

Henry meets James Connolly and is in the GPO in Easter 1916 as a 14 year old, it is here he meets again Miss O'Shea and their real story starts.  Henry during the next 6 years meets and is involved with all the major figures in Irish history and plays his very own special part in it, with the help of his father's leg.  I have a long standing interest in Michael Collins and he is here in the book too, Henry is part of his gang who ride around Dublin on bikes killing British secret service agents and policemen during the war of independence.

Henry eventually rides around Ireland on his bike training groups of young volunteers for the struggle for freedom and finds his Miss O'Shea again.  And after all of that it is hard to believe when the book finishes Henry is only 20.  For much of the book Henry is not very questioning of the reasons he is given for doing the things he does, the murders, the training but eventually he begins to question and begins to see parallels with his father's life.  Henry's longest running relationship is with his grandmother who is obssessed with reading books written by women and Henry uses the books he steals for her as currency to find out about his father, the mysterious Dolly Oblong and Alfie Gandon.

The book is of course well written, the characters vibrant and alive, it is gritty and violent but Henry is an engaging character charming both within the book and to read about.  Roddy Doyle shows the squalor of Dublin, the city of 2 halves the affluent Anglo-Irish and the Irish, we catch glimpses of the history of Ireland through Henry's eyes and it was very easy to picture this boy against the back drop of the Dublin that I know today. 

A very enjoyable read, and I will look forward to reading the remaining two installments of Henry's story.

 Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Book Review - Songbird by Josephine Cox

Caution there may be spoilers!

This was another hand on - so not a book I would have normally picked up of the shelf to read myself, but that is not a bad thing as you can often discover some interesting new authors in this way, ones which you become totally addicted to and totally loyal to.

Sadly with this book it wasn't going to happen.  I am not sure if this is what is generally referred to as 'chick-lit' or not but it is not my normal genre of choice, in one line, a slightly more up-market grittier version of a Mills and Boon? 

The book is about Maddy a night club singer, pregnant and involved with the crime lord who owns the club where she sings and a brute of a man.  Denying his paternity he abuses Maddy and steals the singer from a neighbouring club bringing down the wrath of another local crime boss.  After her lucky escape from an evening or murder and mayhem and blaming Maddy for his woes he sets out to find her and punish her for his problems. 

The story tells of Maddy's journey to find safety and security for both her and her child, which she does with the help and sometimes hindrance of a number of people, some of whom have her best interests at heart and some who don't.

The ending of the had a few too many coincidences to bring about the denouement, which was not wholly satisfactory in my opinion, but the book was well written and the characters well drawn if a little naive in some cases.  What I really enjoyed about the book was the parts set in and around Bedford, mentioning some places I was familiar with which added a degree or two of interest to the book.  The book was also set in Blackpool, but a Blackpool of some time ago when it was the stag and hen haven of today!

From reading some other reviews of the book it appears this may not be one of her best titles, but sadly when you are disappointed with your first foray into an author's output then you can be quite reluctant to give another one a go.  It may be that if this genre is your thing you will enjoy this book immensely, not dreadful but not one I am likely to return to.


Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure

Friday Fill-Ins

1. Life is always throwing new challenges and the odd curved ball but I probably wouldn't have it any other way.

2. And because of that you really do just have to keep going.

3. My last text message (or IM) ended in these three words:                                                           , nothing at all because I don't text!!
4. Something vegetarian is what I'm thinking about for dinner sometime soon.

5. On the 1st day of August I will almost be another year older, and on the 2nd of August I will!!

6. I love that Jamie is always so lively and energetic.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to chillin out, tomorrow my plans include chillin out and Sunday, I want to chill out!!



Reading challenge 13/16 - currently reading If I Was by Midge Ure

Jamie At Cub Camp

Jamie was off at cub camp for the weekend and here are some pictures of what he was getting up to - he had a brilliant time and it was his first time sleeping in a tent!!  Rather him than me!!

At least they had some shelter if they needed it but the weather was good all weekend.  They never seem to go short of food when they are away!!

The theme of the weekend was Circus and they were learning lots of circus skills and just generally having a great time.  Jamie managed to stand on a nail but he was fine, no harm done and no Dr's required!!

Eating again!!

The final two pictures are from Jamie's day at Gilwell which is cub HQ (I think!) - looks like he was having a good time too!

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