Tuesdaying

Right now, I am mostly…

Trying : I’m trying to get away with the fact that I should have written this yesterday, but didn’t get around to it. I’m almost trying to get back into the swing of blogging. Sometimes my blogging well dries up because of a major life event, and sometimes it’s just because I can’t find any words to write. This time it was the latter – I have posts I want to write, I just haven’t had any motivation to write them. I think that’s OK though; no big announcements about coming and going, just a gentle re-entry. I’m going to try and be a better blogger in July.

Walking : We’ve recently moved offices, and where we used to work was perfect was a lunchtime walk. We were concerned that the new environs wouldn’t afford the same lunchtime pleasures, but the surroundings are lovely, and weirdly, lunchtimes seem to last longer! Last week we took three dogs out with us, none of which belonged to anyone walking, and had a lovely ramble!

Ticking : I ticked off a 33 Before 33 item at the weekend, and anyone who follows me on Instagram or Twitter will know which one it was, but there will be a post to follow for those who don’t!

Visiting : I went to Bournemouth on Sunday, completing the tri-fecta of British cities beginning with B that I’ve visited in the last few months for work, without seeing much of the city at all! I got to see a bit of the beach, and the inside of the Pavilion, but it was nice, and I’d like to go back. The journey there was blissful, taking just over three hours; the jouney back was hellish, taking over five. Gah!

Watching : Again, I need to seriously pull my finger out and do some blogging about the films I have watched recently, but needless to say, I have long since passed my 52 goal, and I’m hoping to hit 100 by the end of the year!

Celebrating : I went out on Saturday night to celebrate my lovely friend Lucy’s birthday, and I had a lovely time. This was down to a) spending time with my lovely work friends, and b) feeling as though I looked good when I left the house. This is such an unusual feeling for me that I feel it needs celebrating. I actually said the words “I look fierce” which is such a ridiculous thing for me to say, but I felt great!

Accepting : I recently accepted a request to be a bridesmaid (not the greatest syntax in that sentence, but I had to work it round an -ing word!), for the seventh time. I know, right. Seven times a bridesmaid, you have to be joking if you think you’re ever getting married. I’m pretty sure that’s how that saying goes. I’m excited though; it’s for my niece (I know), and it’s happening in warmer climes!

Reading : A reading round-up is well overdue, as I missed my May roundup. Again, a blog post will follow, but I’ve been really enjoying the books I’ve been reading lately. I am almost certainly not going to reach the 75 goal that I set myself every year, but I’m pretty zen about that at the moment (ask me again in December!).

Receiving : I bought my first ever Lucky Dip Club box last month, and I was very excited when it arrived on Friday. Anything advertised as having a Dinosaur Disco theme was always going to get my vote, and I wasn’t disappointed. I love my T-Rex necklace the most, though I’m very taken with the dinosaur tape too!

Writing : I’m not much of a poet, but I do enjoy using words to throw together a poem every now and again. To go along with my Twitter Poetry (using my @ replies to make a poem), I’ve just started writing Predictive Poetry – using predictive text to throw together a poem. See above for my first one!

Enjoying : I wondered along to an exhibition at the London Museum Docklands last week when I was in London; Soldiers and Suffragettes. It displays the photography of Christina Bloom, generally considered to be the UK’s first female press photographer. It’s really interesting – she photographed mainly soldiers and suffragettes (obviously), as well as high society and royalty. Definitely worth a look if you get a chance!

I Watched That 011

The One I Love

I chanced upon this on an alternative Netflix earlier this year, so I’m really pleased that it has popped up on UK Netflix now. It’s an odd film, telling the story of a couple, Ethan and Sophie, who head off on a weekend away at a secluded beach house to try and save their marriage. What follows is odd, but entirely engaging. I’m a big fan of Mark Duplass anyway, and will watch just about anything with which he is involved, but I’d definitely recommend this.

Big Hero 6

Films like Big Hero 6 are a good reason why I love having an Cineworld Unlimited card. I might not have seen this had I not; I missed the likes of Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph at the cinema, so I’m really pleased that I got to see Big Hero 6. It was such a lot of fun, and was classic Disney in so many ways, while feeling completely modern and suitable for a 2015 audience. I want my very own Baymax now.

Selma

I’d been excited about Selma since I heard about it; American History and I have a long and loving history, and I’ve studied Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights moments of the 1960s. David Oyelowo plays King at a very specific point in his life; the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1964. The filmmakers didn’t have the rights to the actual speeches that King gave, but the alternatives are powerful and stirring, and Oyelowo’s performance is as good as you have heard it is. It made me cry, and this is a rare occasion when it was actual tears of sadness and fear, rather than tears of joy. The scenes on the Edmund Pettus Bridge are truly harrowing.

School of Rock

I had actually watched most of School of Rock years ago, but had never got to the end, so I thought it was finally time to watch it! I liked it a lot, of course; I can find Jack Black annoying at times, but it depends what he’s doing, and he’s on fine form here. There’s not an awful lot to say about it, given that pretty much everyone in the entire world has seen it, but it’s one I’d definitely watch again.

The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride is a film that I know I should have watched before now; it had somehow passed me by for all these years, but I’ve never heard anyone say a bad thing about it! I finally settled down to watch it on a Sunday afternoon, and I just loved it. I hadn’t realised that there was a framing device, and I really liked that aspect, and then I really liked the story – romantic, funny, action-packed – it has it all!

How to Train Your Dragon

Everyone I’ve ever spoken to about How to Train Your Dragon seems to have loved it more than me. I thought it was OK, but I just liked it. I think maybe it didn’t quite have my full attention, and that might be the reason for my lukewarm reaction to it, but I’m not sure. For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s an animated film about a young man who lives on an island where dragons terrorise the residents by stealing livestock. Hiccup, the young man in question, manages to train the dragon, and the film follows his attempts to do that, along with his attempts to convince his father, and the rest of the island, that dragons aren’t all bad. Perfectly fine, but not really something I feel the need to shout about!

Book Review ~ All Together Now by Gill Hornby

The Bridgeford Community Choir has been a fixture in the small town for decades, but as this story starts, there’s a small crisis brewing. The recruitment drive hasn’t been particularly fruitful, with most inhabitants of the village preferring to politely acknowledge the choir without engaging with them at all, and one of their most stalwart members suffering a life-threatening car crash at the start of the novel. The renaissance of the singing group begins with new members Tracey and Bennett, who have previously spent most of their time in Bridgeford avoiding contact with the locals.

All Together Now is a well observed, gentle comedy. If it was a film, it would be one of those films that was aimed squarely at a middle aged/elderly audience, like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, or Quartet. There’s nothing wrong with that at all; gentle comedy is fine, and despite being neither middle aged nor elderly, I enjoyed the pace of the book.

The story really revolves around Tracey, a woman who is approaching middle age with a grown-up son who finally seems ready to fly the nest. Tracey isn’t altogether happy with this, but when it becomes inevitable, she reluctantly entangles herself with the choir. If Tracey was a real person in my life, I think I would be quite irritated by her. She’s one of those people who wants to be seen as thoroughly alternative (she wouldn’t be a Radio 2 listener, for sure), and those kind of people aren’t my favourites. But it’s clear that she uses that image to hide her past, which she is keen to ensure is never revealed, and ultimately she turns out to be slightly more endearing than she appears to be at the start of the story.

The characters are actually well written; if the pace of the novel is slightly pedestrian, the characters are easy to identify with, and in the case of Bennet’s ex-wife, Sue, to thoroughly hate. It doesn’t take a genius to work out the direction the plot is heading, but that’s not a huge problem; it’s not about the conclusion itself, but how you get there. It’s not easy to get over-excited about All Together Now, because I don’t believe it’s a book that gets over-excited about itself, but it’s a perfectly nice read, and describes village life to a tee.

All Together Now by Gill Hornby
First published: 4th June 2015
ISBN: 9780316234740
Little Brown UK
Review copy provided by publisher

33 Before 33 ~ Visit Cambridge or Bristol

When I put this on my 33 Before 33 list, I thought Bristol was a pipe dream. Although it’s totally doable in a day from where I live, it’s quite far, and would more than justify an overnight stay – something I don’t have a lot of spare money for. I assumed that Cambridge would be the city that would allow me to tick this one off, and that’s the reason I lumped them together, so I could actually have a fair shot at completing an item.

But then a work trip came up, and it became clear that I was going to visit Bristol without seeing an awful lot of Bristol! It still counts as a win for me, though, especially as I loved the tiny little part that I did see!

I spent two whole days by the harbour, at an exhibition. I know Bristol isn’t a huge city, but I know it’s bigger than what I managed to see of it! Having said that; I loved this part of Bristol. It was so pretty, and cool, and while I know the spring sunshine makes a huge difference in how you see a place, I really did like it, and I’d love to go back.

6. Visit Cambridge or Bristol

Sourced Locally Fortnight

Sourced Locally Fortnight is a two-week celebration at the East of England Co-op that does exactly what you think it does: it celebrates locally sourced food and drink The aim is to show how amazing local farmers, butchers, brewers and bakers are, and to make buying local food as easy as possible. At a time when many people are concerned with their carbon footprint and where their food comes from, it’s good to know that there is a place where you can shop and worry less about that sort of thing (if you’re in the East of England, that is!).

I was provided with some vouchers so I could shop at an East of England Co-op, and sample some of the local produce that was on offer. I never do a ‘big’ shop at a Co-op, as I find it a bit more expensive than the other supermarkets, so it was fun to take a look and see what I was missing!

I shopped in the middle of the Sourced Locally fortnight, so there were a couple of displays in store with a great selection of food and drink. I hadn’t realised what a selection there would be, to be honest, expecting it to be mainly fruit and vegetables. On the display as soon as I entered the store, there was jam, pasta, apple juice, tea, coffee, cakes, cookies – so much stuff! I had to be careful not to spend everything I had just on this display!

In the end, I was pretty pleased with my selection. I got pasta, pasta sauce, ice cream, vinegar, tomato sauce, strawberries, jam, salt, steak, coleslaw, potatoes and loads more! I really wanted to get some Wilkins & Sons jam, because Tiptree Jam Factory is a favourite, and I also wanted some Maldon Sea Salt, because I spend so much time in Maldon. Everything else was very local, of course – the potatoes were from a farm that is very, very close to where I work!

Because I had all this yumminess, I had to make something nice for dinner, so I had steak, potatoes, carrots, parsnips and sweetcorn. The steak and potatoes were the Sourced Locally items, and they were just delicious! And then I just had to eat some Rossi’s ice cream for dessert. That was never going to last long in my freezer.

I’m really pleased with everything I got with my voucers, but I have to say that ultimately, I can’t afford to shop like this for myself. The items are good quality, and taste amazing, and the price refelcts that. Unfortunately, I’m not in a position to regularly shop at those prices, but I’m pleased that I’ve had my eyes opened to the vast range of food and drink that are available from local sources, and I think I’ll be going back to stock up on certain things (the steak for a start!).

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