Thursday, 28 January 2010

Who's in charge?

'I can't believe you've lost that charger!' I yell at my nine year son.
'I haven't!' he yells back. 'I just don't know where it is.'
'You have lost it,' I continue, 'it's not in the kitchen drawer and it's not in the lounge either. I've ransacked all the rooms downstairs.'
'So?' he says with a pout. 'I just won't use that phone any more.'
I have to push my eyes back into their sockets. 'Not use it any more?' I echo.
With a tilt of his chin, my son nods and shrugs nonchalently.
Eyes firmly replaced, I count to ten. 'That phone was expensive,' I hiss through gritted teeth. 'Now you will go and search that bombsite bedroom of yours until you find it.'
'Huh!' he huffs loudly before stomping off, only to return minutes later claiming he has searched all over and not a charger to be found.

The following morning with son at school and still no hope of charging his wretched phone, I pull out my laptop case which has been sitting neglected for a few days. Reaching inside I pull out my laptop. Plus the missing phone charger. I consider telling my boy that it was his fault anyway, that he must have slipped it in there when I wasn't looking, that sounds a good idea so I wait for school to finish.
'I found your charger,' I tell him as soon as I see him.
He looks at me, half-relieved, half-nervous. 'Where?'
I remember what I thought I would tell him - that it was his fault. I look at his cute little face and tell him...the truth.

Feather I do adore thee

My feather cape from ASOS Black arrived today. Unable to buy this on ASOS I managed to track one down on ebay and swooped upon rather rapidly. It is absolutely gorgeous and will fit completely with what I have in mind. At the moment my mannequin is modelling it rather well but I am going to have to swipe it back from her because I am afraid that she may actually look better in it than I.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Second Year

My husband and I have been married for two years and to celebrate our anniversary we booked a three-day break. The hotel we decided on was Elmers Court Hotel, part of the Macdonald Hotels and Resorts chain. We have previously stayed at another of theirs called Botley Park, which is near to Southampton and thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. The main Elmers Court Hotel building is an impressive manor house dating from the 1800’s and boasts a fine restaurant, Tudor bar, family restaurant and comfortable grounds with views over the Solent and has two pools plus other gym equipment that I am sure would have been great fun if only I hadn’t been too lazy to use it. Staff were accommodating, efficient and friendly as we had expected and the room we stayed in was spacious and comfortable. Ducks quacked and waddled throughout the grounds, ensuring that they were noticed just in case a treat fell their way. The whole resort exuded an air of calm and sitting on the terrace outside of the Tudor bar on our first night, we took full advantage of this and happily shared a chilled bottle of sparkling wine. The second night we dined in the restaurant and were served three fantastic courses, this was on top of the plate of appetisers with ‘pre-dinner drinks’, and finished the night off with some more chilled wine on the terrace.

We visited the Isle of Wight, the ferry terminal to The Wight Link being only a one minute drive from the car park of the hotel (it really was; we timed it being the saddo’s that we are). Unfortunately the only connection available for the journey across to the Isle of Wight was at 6.45am and this meant I had to drag my normally lazy body out of bed at 5.30am to be ready in time. The ferry was relatively empty on the crossing over and there were not many cars on the road on the Isle by the time our wheels touched down upon them. The bonus was that we were able to park in a free car park that probably would have been bursting to capacity later in the day and trundle to a view point at Tennyson's Monument. It was so quiet that we could hear the sheep bleating in a distant field and luckily no-one was around to witness my continual complaining as I tackled the ascent to the top of the hill. The view was beautiful, albeit slightly hazy, but in all honesty I was simply glad to be able to rest from the gruelling uphill climb. It wasn’t really very steep, just really really early and at such an hour, I would normally have been lazing with breakfast and a trashy magazine.

From Tennyson’s Monument we drove to a car park near St. Catherine’s Oratory and trundled through a field of cows, yet another uphill climb. St.Catherine’s Oratory stood on top of the hill, surrounded by cows and calves, the Oratory striking a surprising resemblance to a rocket. Being rather a wimp I persuaded my husband that we did not need to study the structure at close proximity, in truth I didn’t fancy wading through the herd in case they felt we were a threat to their young, charged us and made me scream.

Following this we stopped at Appuldurcombe House and marvelled at the exquisite English Baroque facade that remains of this grand country house. It is hard to believe that there are only three rooms structurally intact behind this impressive, extensively ornamental shell. The rooms themselves having been subject to restoration work. Appuldurcombe had been abandoned in 1909 and was occupied during both the World Wars, falling foul to a nearby land-mine in 1943 which added to its decaying state and led towards the remains as they appear today. Being able to visit the house early was a bonus, throughout our visit we only encountered one other person, leaving before a school visit was due.

Then there was Carisbrooke Castle with its fortified gatehouse and history of housing a Royal prisoner. Charles I was held at Carisbrooke for some time after his defeat by Parliament, Carisbrooke being the last of his ‘prisons’ before leaving for Whitehall and his execution. With many other historical connections, which are interesting, the thing that interested me the most at this castle had to be the Carisbrooke Donkeys. Such a shame that they were not in accessible stroking distance. Carisbrooke was busier than Appuldurcombe, there were numerous groups of school children of varying ages and, if a peaceful visit is favoured, it would be prudent to arrive early or off-peak for we were unable to walk the entirety of the Wall-Walk due to the groups occupying a vast majority, un-movingly but this did not impair our visit to this fine castle.

Next came the Osborne estate with its Italianate design and extensive grounds. The house, as it appears today, created for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, was constructed primarily as a seaside family home. Queen Victoria used the house for some fifty plus years and the planting in the grounds were designed by Prince Albert. The house is truly magnificent with sumptuous furniture, ornate ceilings and works of art. I do enjoy walking around historic buildings but felt the experience was somewhat marred by the presence of an overwhelming number of visitors and would love to return one day, in a less busy season, to be able to appreciate the true beauty of the house without being jostled, herded or slowed to a deathly pace. The grounds offered more room to breathe and we walked some twenty minutes to the Swiss Cottage that was built for Queen Victoria’s children. It was here that the children would spend their time while the Queen entertained at the main house and also here that they stored their own collections. The Cottage had a housekeeper and apparently the children also came to the Swiss Cottage to learn how to keep a house. When the children's collections grew too large for the Swiss Cottage another building was erected for them, the Swiss Museum. They also had their own mini play-fort with a drawbridge, I know that my own son would love to have such a play-thing although our back garden is a tiny bit smaller than the Osborne Estate so, regrettably, not an option.

We returned from the Isle of Wight to our hotel and spent our last night dining, drinking wine and relaxing. I would definitely recommend the Isle of Wight to anyone who has not been, it has a lot to offer, even if only to see Osborne and the other historical sites but it would be a crime not to appreciate the Isle’s coastal beauty and natural attraction.

This could be Heaven or this could be Hell

Half term seemed to descend upon me rather unexpectedly last week. I never recall having as many holidays when I was at school, there never seemed anywhere near enough! So, I thought, what to do with a whole week of entertaining my son? Take dog to the park every day; should fill at least an hour…hmmm definitely need to think of a little bit more to do. Watch a film that my son has been dying to see; great that was two hours sorted. But what should I plan to do with the remainder of the week? Can I squeeze some writing in? Certainly, if I can tune out of the ‘MUM!’ calls, ‘Can I have?’ questions, ‘The dog’s …’ screams and ‘What are we doing today?’ daily ten thousand times per day question. It’s strange that when I have a whole ‘free’ week I don’t mind if I can only write for an hour a day, but take the option of free-writing away and I am grumpy, frustrated and sometimes feel the urge to stamp my feet like a small child who has just been refused a lollipop.

But the plus side was that I was able to spend time with my son when he wasn’t grumpy, frustrated or stamping his feet because he’d spent all day at school/clubs/cricket training. It was lovely wandering around the park with the dog on a long lead and chatting to my boy, well it was once my son had stopped complaining about how boring it is to walk, how he wanted to play on his computer games instead, how unfair it was that I was making him come out with me. By the second day, I think he really got into the swing of it and, shock horror, actually started to enjoy accompanying me.

We also visited one of my son’s favourite wildlife parks. There’s goats to pet, deer too if they’re feeling so inclined. The little goat kids were really endearing, they were my son’s favourite, he loved it that they are still at the size to be able to squeeze out of their enclosure and come right up to you! Of course, I had to stroke them first. Just to make sure that they wouldn’t bite him or anything, that was the only reason. Yeah right, I hear my son scoff in the background. There were baby prairie dogs that were the size of Russian dwarf hamsters and walking through their enclosure, I willed my son not to accidentally step on one.

Then there was the usual reading, drawing and playing in the back garden that my son loves to do, but only if he has chosen to do one of the aforementioned activities himself. If I tell him to get off the computer games and out in the back garden, I am often met with ‘That’s waaayyyy unfair!’ or ‘I’m just gonna sit on the step and do nothing then!’ to which I find myself responding by telling him that I never had computer games like that when I was his age (there was Acorn but that really wasn’t the same), nor did I even have a TV in my bedroom let alone the four computer games consoles, video and dvd player, stereo (okay, I did have a stereo!) until I realise that I sound rather like the nagging mother that I swore I’d never be! And I’m only 29 years old, for heaven’s sake; it’s hardly like I grew up in the middle ages.

The park was particularly empty one day during that half term and the sun shone on as we frolicked (the dog, I hasten to add) through the grass and trees. Right there and then, I remembered how it felt to walk with my own parents around that same park with our dog that we’d had when I was a young girl. I just hope that my son will remember such times and decide that it really wasn’t complete hell; going for a walk with his mother.

To Wig or Not To Wig

Magazines, newspapers, billboards, where ever I look there are images of models with luscious locks taunting me from their vantage point. Whether the hair in question is long, short, blonde, dark or highly coiffed, they all have one thing in common. Shine. Yes, there are probably a mass of lights reflected upon their tresses, and yes they have probably been styled by the hottest and most in demand hairstylist. Even though I know this, I still suffer from hair-envy.

My own hair is of shoulder length and never seems to grow. This may be due to the amount of extreme styling it has had to suffer throughout its life. I have still yet to achieve the perfect shade of white-blonde that I so desire without my hair burning to a frazzle and sticking up in an odd clump-like style (ashamedly I once dyed my hair so much that a section broke off to an actual inch of its life).

Having suffered since my teens with hair that if allowed to dry naturally turns into a blonde fuzz bomb, I decided that it was time for a change. Did I want to have it cut into some funky style that I knew that I would tire of within a few weeks? No, I decided the only way to go was long. Having looked into permanent hair extensions, human and synthetic, I decided that in this current economic climate it was just not possible for me to splurge on such an ongoing expense, I opted for the clip-in variety. I’ve used clip-in human hair extensions for a number of years but although these are relatively quick to apply, they do require some practise and perseverance to discreetly hide the clips. I still love my clip-in extensions and have several variations in colour for when the mood strikes me, I bought a huge 4ft weft and sewed in my own clips, dyed the hair and it now resembles my own in colour. But on the downside I find that the clips leave me with a headache after wearing for more than a few hours, so the clip-ins are relegated to evening out only use.

Then I stumbled across wigs. Ha, I thought, they won’t look any better than the ones I’ve worn occasionally for Halloween parties. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They are now available with a realistic skin-top and use a revolutionary fibre from Japan that is supposed to closely resemble human hair. The pictures I saw on the internet did indeed look very realistic so I ordered one. The one I ordered was completely different from my own hair, long, wavy and multi-tonal brunette in colour. When it arrived, I carefully unwrapped and dubiously tried it on, expecting to look rather foolish. It surprised me with how it actually looked. I hurried out into the kitchen to slap on some make-up. Yes, I keep my make-up in my bottom kitchen drawer as I have no room for it in my bedroom or bathroom, maybe a sign I have too much. Once my face was suitably prepped, I pinned up my own hair and donned my new style. Hurriedly, I posed and pouted with my camera phone and sent a picture to my husband. I was so impressed with it that I wore it to my local pub that evening, the landlord even commented that he thought my husband was with another woman.

I’ve since ordered another three since my first foray into wigdom and couldn’t love them more. They offer a quick style change and are not uncomfortable to wear. I have two darker ones, both curled, one strawberry platinum mix straight and one white and straight. I can throw one on and have instant long, styled hair that is shiny and light upon head. It’s not that I am following a celebrity trend, indeed I was not even aware this was a rapidly growing trend until I typed in ‘wigs’ on the internet and read a few news blogs, I simply love change and experimenting with my look, while having fun at the same time.

For me, I have decided to wig, well for now at least.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Timmy's Lost His Tommy

I had two guinea pigs, Timmy and Tommy, who have lived together since I brought them home from the pet store. Admittedly, they squabbled over their food, if one had something in his mouth the other one wanted it, even if he was already eating the same. At the rustle of a bag, the opening of the fridge door, or the sound of a voice at that time they knew was dinner time, they would both be at the edge of their outdoor enclosure – wheeting their little heads off.
One evening, Tommy did not seem himself. He was fluffed up and sleepy and I guessed that maybe he wouldn’t last very long. Timmy kept snuffling him, perhaps trying to coax the other into action.
The following morning, I hurried to the enclosure to check and Tommy had indeed passed through the night in a sleep from which he would not wake. Standing at the window, indicating to my husband that Tommy had died I felt absurdly sad. Sure, he was only a guinea pig; it wasn’t like the dog had died. But as I realised I would never see his little ginger-furred-face look at me again; I blubbed. Tommy was duly boxed and buried in the garden, a plant to mark his final resting place.
Timmy, now alone for the first time in his life, sniffed the floor where his room-mate had once slept and laid there for quite some time. Now he has to make do with looking through the fence to the other side of his enclosure, where Oscar the rabbit spends her days. But I doubt anything will fill the Tommy-shaped gap left behind in his life.

Desperately Seeking Dress

I need to buy a dress for an early summer wedding plus one to wear for an occasion further into the summer. So, I thought, simple solution would be to buy one dress for both occasions as there is little chance of the same people being at both. Great idea but simple? Absolutely not. I have been looking for months for a suitable dress. Not too short, not too bright, not too stunning, not too frumpy, a flattering shape but not revealing or too tight, one without a floral print (I don’t do patterns), not too low cut on the cleavage area. I even ordered a couple from my usual catalogue which looked absolutely stunning on the models on the website.
Eagerly I awaited their arrival and as soon as they did, I had the packaging off in 30 seconds flat. I doubt a piranha could have de-skinned them as quick as I. The first one had a fantastic bubble-hem skirt and high neck top. Once on, it made me appear as if I were an eighties shoulder-pad-loving- woman-who- lunches, not there is anything wrong with that; I love the eighties, but the thing that really miffed me was that dress was actually sleeveless. The second dress had gorgeous beading detail under the bust, but was far too low, I mean my cleavage does not end at my navel so do I seriously want a dress that makes me look as if I am in need of industrial scaffolding? And the skirt part of it…well there’s not much I can say on that except boring with a capital B.
As I feared, it will be back to the local shopping centre for a dress-trawl. I do not hold much hope considering I have looked there many, many times before. I’ve even resorted to wading my way through items on an online auction site, but still not a dress for me in sight.
It’s not like I don’t have plenty of gorgeous dresses in my collection – I do, full on vintage eighties, glamorous full-length (a complete no-no at any wedding other than your own, unless you are part of the bridal party), full skirted fifties style, sexy short evening dresses, sparkly disco but, unfortunately, not a wedding appropriate one do I own.
Maybe I’ll have to dust off the sewing machine and make my own…hmmm I’ve never been any good at reading instructions which means the design would certainly be ‘unique’.