It’s snowing!

If you live anywhere outside London you’ll laugh at our delight here, but it’s finally snowing here in Bexley!  Hurrah!  We must have had six, maybe even seven minutes of white stuff falling from the sky this morning.

Millie and Amber have been out in the muddy back garden, ostensibly to help me clean out the chickens, but actually to spin around, sing Let It Go and scream with delight. 🙂

Sorry, neighbours.

Technical difficulties #2

That even better feeling when, after you’ve mostly fixed your broken website, but then come down with flu and spend most of the day in bed, asleep, but when you wake up realise you haven’t received a single email today because something-something hand-wavey domain issues hocus-pocus jiggery-pokery magic Internet things.

That’s when you discover it’s possible to post retrospectively on WordPress, and realise it’s probably time to bite that bullet and copy all your old website over to WordPress.

Manually.

Technical difficulties

bemusedThat feeling when you notice your old website has vanished and you contact your host about it and they throw a lot of jargon at you which you bravely try to follow but it’s been a few years since you had anything to do with domains and hosting and you’ve completely forgotten everything you ever learned about them, which was pretty boring and esoteric anyway, but now you’ve even forgotten what your password or username was, let alone which Nameservers you used or where the domain was pointing to, and you follow the instructions you’re given and nothing seems to happen so you wonder if maybe you need to wait for the changes to filter through.

Or not.

Parents’ evening

Parents’ evening was a pain when I was at school: my parents would come out generally pleased, but always, it seemed, with a caveat: Could do better.

To be fair, they were probably right. I applied myself only to “interesting things” – which, fortunately, covered a lot of things – developing a voracious magpie reading habit from a young age, which has never failed to make life – and conversation – more interesting over the years.

My love of interesting things hasn’t served me quite so well at work, where I still struggle to understand how anyone can be an accountant or get excited about sales figures. Why would you dedicate your short life to that sort of thing when there are so many fascinating and amazing things going on in the universe?

Anyway. This was supposed to be about the girls’ parents’ evening last night, not mine.

Millie got a glowing report, and the hard work she puts in (rather unlike her father!) is paying dividends, as the teacher told us she’s moved up to the middle of the class in maths and remains well above average in her reading ability and writing.

She was also curious about Millie’s premature birth, having noticed (as have we) that her delicate features seem often to be a marker for prematurity; so we told the by now well-rehearsed story of birth three months early, weighing just 1lb 7oz, etc., and Millie chipped in with the detail that when she was born her head and body would fit in my open hand. 🙂

Amber’s report was more nuanced – and the girls weren’t allowed in the classroom with us.  Her teachers told us that Amber needed to concentrate more, to learn to plan her work, to work on the layout, that she was in too much of a rush.

And…that was pretty much it.

I only realised afterwards, we came away assuming that Amber’s still doing fine (except for her tendency to rush headlong into things and barrel through them) but without actually knowing that was the case.

Big Brizzle Birthday Banger!

Thali Cafe, Bristol
At the Thali Cafe, Bristol

My birthday celebrations went on tour this year: a weekend of fun, food and friends in the lovely city of Bristol!

Thanks to my parents, for coming to London and looking after the girls – three girls, as they bought my niece Izzy with them. And thanks to Conny and Caroline, who graciously let twelve of us surly Londoners scuff up their beautiful homes for three days. 🙂

We arrived slightly later than planned on Friday afternoon, after our train ground to a halt upon leaving Paddington Station.  The driver came on the tannoy and asked to speak to the train manager  – never a good sign – after a signaller reported “something” on the back of the train.

Speculation was rife that it might be a stowaway, but it wasn’t.  More like an unclosed hatch or something.

So, we limped into Reading Station around the time we had been due to blaze into Bristol Temple Meads.  Still, at least we got a seat. 🙂

In Bristol, 20 of us took over the upstairs of the delicious Thali Cafe in Totterdown, London folks catching up with their Bristol brethren – some of whom we hadn’t seen in quite a while.  Curry and drinks flowed, and there was much laughter, which carried on at the pub just down the road.  I could probably have done without that second bottle of champagne, to be honest, but we Londoners have our profligate reputation to maintain. 😉

On the bridge in Bristol
On the bridge in Bristol

The next morning, we took a walk into the centre, planning on some lunch, sightseeing, crazy golf, shopping, and a few more drinks.  Unfortunately, the combination of cold, the after-effects of the previous night and the fact that I’m now 43 years of age left myself and a few others needing a nap.

So, we had a nap to ensure we were raring to go for a night at The Lanes – and some karaoke… Ohh, the karaoke!

Some of my male friends were aghast that I wanted to do karaoke.

Liz sings the blues
Liz sings the blues

As someone who really enjoys singing, but usually only ever at home (I’m even a little embarrassed to sing in front of the girls!) I really wanted to give it a go, and I’m so glad I did.

Locked in a room with 12 crazy women, all belting out tunes like there’s no tomorrow – there’s something incredibly cathartic and liberating about it. I can understand not liking karaoke yourself, but the idea of me doing it seemed to literally astonish a few people.

I ignored them, ignored a nagging cough and blocked nose, and had ENORMOUS fun singing anything and everything that came up on the screen.  The two hours we booked went by in a fabulous flash, and the rest of the evening felt a little low-key by comparison.

Table football
Table football

There was dancing and bowling and bands, but I mostly spent the evening catching up with dear old friends – interspersed with a bit of ass-kicking at the table football, er, table.

Eventually, we went back to Conny’s house to talk and laugh a whole lot more, laughing at Luthfa’s endless story about…well, I forget, and singing along to Bond themes. 🙂

Sunday took a bit of organising to get everyone up and in the same place for glorious Full English, but we managed it just in time before heading up the M4 back to London, courtesy of our driver, Liz, who took us all the way home in style.

The crowning touch of the weekend was pulling into our street to find Millie, Amber and Izzy all there, eagerly waiting us, resplendent in various gowns and perhaps a surfeit of makeup. 😉

It was, all in all, the perfect 43rd birthday.

Huge thanks to absolutely everyone who made the journey with me, who put me up, arranged entertainment for me, fed me, sang with me, laughed with me, made me smile and generally made me a tiny bit sad to return home.

You guys are ace! 😀

It’s so exciting

“Daddy,” Amber whispered, as I gave her a kiss good night, “it’s SO exciting!”  And she gave me a big hug

“Is it?” I replied.  “What is?”

“Well,” she began, taking a deep breath, “first of all, tomorrow is my school trip, and we’re going on a coach!” (actually, she has been on a school trip on a coach before…)

“Wow – no more ‘school trips’ to the woods behind our house,” I smiled. “Where are you – oh, of course, you’re going to the Fire Brigade Museum, aren’t you?”

“Yes!” And I got another hug.

“I’d quite like to go there,” I said, “you’ll have to tell me what it’s like.”

“But even better than that, it’s only one day until Izzy is coming to stay!”

“Grampy says your cousin is even more excited than you are, she’s… Wait a minute – one day?  She’s coming Friday evening. Today’s Wednesday.”

Getting serious about her maths, little fingers were called into play.  “Today is finished, so that doesn’t count; there’s tomorrow, one day, and the next day she’s coming!  I can’t wait to see Izzy!”

“And Nanny and Grampy?” I prompted.

“It’s only one day until Izzy is coming!”

XKCD technically
Technically…

“Well, technically…” I began -and then remembered this comic from just a couple a of days earlier.

And I smiled, laughed and agreed.

Shakespeare!

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

I had a very late introduction to Shakespeare – which might seem odd for someone with a Master’s degree in Literature. We didn’t study Shakespeare at secondary school, and when I was younger my dad judged him to be a load of old rubbish.

So, there was no Shakespeare in my life until the age of 16, while studying A-level English (it was Richard II, still one of my favourite Shakespeare plays). I’m not a Shakespeare groupie. I enjoy many of his plays and am amazed by his contributions to the English language and its literature; but for various reasons I still think he got lucky in being pronounced Greatest Writer The World Has Ever Known.

Regardless of all that, Millie is practicing for a part in a school play about ShakespeareNot a Shakespeare play, but more like Shakespeare In Love – a play about the man. So, we visited the Globe Theatre yesterday. Not to see a play (that might be a bit much for a nine-year-old to sit through) but to get a feel for Shakespeare, his work, his background, and quite why he’s considered The Greatest Writer The World Has Ever Known.

The Globe Theatre in LondonAmber’s doing a project on the Black Death/Great Fire of London, so the Lovely Melanie went with her to the Museum of London. Millie and I left them at Bank station and headed across the river to the Globe. After a quick, freezing lunch on the side of the Thames we were glad to get indoors – just in time for the next tour…which was outside! Doh!

It’s not cheap for a 40-minute tour, but it is worth every penny. The cheerful young guide showing us around positively glowed with enthusiasm for her subject. I kept checking that Millie wasn’t getting bored or cold (because, at her age, I probably would have been), but she was fascinated, too.  Indoors, after the tour, we filled in a computerised feedback form together, and Millie was so enthusiastic I kept pausing to check she wasn’t simply being nice (Millie, rather like me, lives in horror of being unintentionally rude to people).

No, she was just being honest: we both agreed the exhibition wasn’t as interesting as the tour, that it was worth the money and we’d definitely recommend it to some people, but not others (*cough*Grampy*cough*).

Despite looking at every single item they sold in the gift shop, we didn’t buy anything (although, we did splurge on some Friends of Shakespeare’s Globe wristbands for a pound). Finally, we sat (in the warm…) and watched some ladies training in theatrical fencing for another 30 minutes, before heading back over the Millennium Bridge, onto the DLR to Bank and home on the train.

It was a lovely day out, just the two of us. A lady and her young daughter sat next to us on the DLR, the daughter being regaled with compliments on her cleverness. Yeah, I thought to myself, well, I’ve just taken my daughter to the Globe – and she loved it!

20150118_152016Looking over at my own clever daughter, she was looking out the window with my woolly hat pulled completely down over her face.

No, honestly, I thought to the lady with the clever daughter, Damn it, we’ve been to the Globe and learned about Shakespeare and…everything…!