Thursday, 30 May 2013

Dancing at Lughnasa

Last night we went to see Brian Friel's 1990 play, Dancing at Lughnasa at the Royal and Derngate in Northampton.
In 1987, Brian Friel was walking in London with fellow playwright Tom Kilroy and they noticed some people sleeping rough. They were speculating about what the lives of the people must have been like before they ended up on the street, and Friel remarked that he had two maiden aunts who had ended up as vagrants in London - Kilroy suggested there would be a story in this. What resulted was Dancing at Lughnasa.
This play is the story of the five Mundy sisters, who live together in rural Donegal. All of them just past the prime of their youth, all unmarried, and their parents dead. There's Kate, a pious school teacher; Maggie, who loves to joke and riddle, and smoke her Woodbines; Agnes, who cooks for everyone and is the fastest knitter in Ballybeg, and who, along with Rose makes 'glove money' by selling what she makes. Rose is a child-woman, seemingly learning disabled, and at risk of licentious behaviour if not kept in check by her sisters... and lastly, there's Christina, who despite being unmarried has a seven-year old boy by a man she still loves, but is too worldy wise to ever trust completely. The story is narrated by the boy, now grown up, and he speaks as he remembers, though the boy he was is invisible on the stage.
The Lughnasa is a pagan festival of late summer, going into the harvest time, and the boy, Michael Evans, remembers that summer of 1936 with bittersweet memories of his aunts laughing and dancing to their radio, but also their sadness. Things turn sour as his uncle, Father Jack, returns from Africa in disgrace for having 'turned native', and this begins a chain of events that turn the sisters' lives upside down.
The Mundy sisters dance like crazy

The plot may seem uncomplicated, but this is a play that focuses on the characters, which are whole and real and you are completely emotionally involved in what happens to them. The style of narration adds layers of depth and understanding; empathy and alienation effects pulling your emotions this way and that. The conflicts between the sisters' characters are beautifully subtle, requiring excellent performances, which the women actors all provide. In particular, I loved Caroline Lennon's Maggie, and Sarah Corbett as Rose - they were great characters. Father Jack didn't seem to share his sisters' Irish accents, which puzzled me, but perhaps that was the effect of spending a few years in Africa?  All in all, though, this was a superb production.
Top Date Night?

Absolutely! And dinner was also very tasty, and we had a lovely drink afterwards too.

How Frugal?

Still in 'could do better' territory. Let's see how we did:

1. Cheap tickets. Pretty good here, tickets were again less than half the cheapest price for us with special preview arrangements. Win!
2. Taking bottled water/pop. Fail... so we bought pre-theatre drinks and interval drinks too.
3. Walking to the venue - and back! Win! No cost here.
4. Choose an awkward mid-run weeknight so not tempted to follow the cast back to the pub for post-gig drinks. Fail - a massive one... OH bumped into an old work colleague at the theatre and hastily arranged a potential meet up in the Wig and Pen after the show. The fella didn't turn up, so we needn't have gone in. But we did, and OH went all goggle-eyed at the sweetie-like selection of whiskies on offer, and ordered one that cost £7.50! (:-0)
5. Either have a slow-cooker meal ready for after the show. Or have just one post-gig drink, maybe. A bit of a fail... we realised we couldn't wait that long to eat, or the rest of the audience would have been shushing our stomachs! So we had our evening meal at The Cordwainer - 2 meals for £6.29. OH had steak and kidney pudding with chips, peas and gravy, and I had chilli con carne with rice, tortilla chips and sour cream. Filling and very nice. With that real ale and cider was £2.15 a pint, so that was a bargain, but other drinks throughout the night came to a lot more!

Meal + a drink + theatre had the potential to cost as little as £21 for the pair of us. We clearly persuade each other to transgress. Looking at the positives, we could have spent more and didn't have to and had a lovely time. However... we can't afford this. Even as a bargain. And I'm learning of other 'can't refuse' social occasions that we also can't afford and I don't know what to do. The answer is to say, sorry we can't go... but I fear it won't be easy. I fear causing upset. But something must be done.

Oh dear...

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Beautiful Delapre and a Minor Crisis

What a gorgeous Bank Holiday Weekend that was - I hope you had fantastic weather wherever you are.

I missed quite a lot of the weekend due to travelling home on the 'red-eye' and trying to sort out my sleep patterns on Saturday. It didn't work - I'm still knackered. But Sunday was going to be all about me and my new hubby, spending time together in the UK - at last!

This blog was going to be full of great pictures I took of one of the best weekends I have ever shared with OH. Instead, I'm going to have to borrow once again.

Boots on, we walked to the abbey in plenty of time for our 3pm tour.

Delapre is a Grade 2 listed building, dating from Tudor times saved from the bulldozers by Joan Wake and converted into a records office in the sixties and seventies. It is a beautiful work of decayed - but recovering - splendour, in need of a cash injection to bring it up to the state of what you might expect a tourist attraction to be. At the moment, just a small amount of renovation work is possible, and the building is partially occupied by tenants who pay a peppercorn rent to help prevent vandalism. Some of the rooms cannot be accessed for reasons of health and safety, and other rooms are full of storage clutter, but beneath the dust and grime is a really beautiful building.

A paper ceiling rose in the salon, bearing the Bouverie coat of arms and motto: my country is dear to me, but liberty more precious. Here is the motto on a stained glass window on the north-facing stairs:

28dayslater blog has pictures of some of the oldest parts of the house. Here, the cloister candle crevices, dating from when the building was a nunnery. I don't know how old these are but the nunnery was built in 1145.

...and a Tudor doorway:

In the small beer cellar, a window was once a doorway that probably led into the chapel of the nunnery where the body of Queen Eleanor was laid to rest overnight en route to London. King Edward 1, who had loved her dearly, erected a cross at every stopping point for the funeral cortege, and Northampton's is one of just 3 remaining in the country from the original 12; although ours does not have a top anymore.

We learned quite a bit that was new to us, had an excellent time, and it was all free. Still, by showing potential funders that there's a potential audience for this kind of local tourism, the Friends of Delapre Abbey hope to show potential investors that it's worth investing in - so just by going along, we were helping out, which is nice to know.

After the tour, OH and I spread out our picnic blanket on the South Lawn, and spent some time watching horses trek along the bridle path in the ha ha, as swifts flitted overhead. I had brought along a picnic of provencal vegetable pasties, with crudités and tomato salsa - all homemade by me that morning. For pud, I made 'mock apricot tarts' - using up some of the carrot jam from Iran I bought from a deli on Wellingborough road last year. Very yummy! All was washed down with dandelion and burdock. Very 1940s! Sort of...

We then strolled through the beautiful gardens and woodland, down to the lake, where we spent some time watching waterskiers (and kneeboarders), and cooing over the cute goslings and ducklings over the other end, away from the noisy boats. I had some great pictures. *Sigh*

We ambled home at a leisurely pace, through Beckets Park, where I took a picture of Thomas á Becket's Well.

...and alas, that was the last time I saw my phone.

We were nearly home, walking through yet another park, this time The Racecourse, when some friends enjoying the sunshine invited us to join them, and we stayed chatting for ages, then had a curry from the cheap balti all the students go to (yes, should have gone home then), but got home still fairly early, and I fell asleep on the sofa. It wasn't until later I realised my phone was gone. We searched all the way up to to Becket's Park by torchlight, to no avail.

Alas, I had no insurance (EDIT: silver lining - I find I'm actually covered by my bank account. Cool beans! Let's see how things go...), and worse, had not got round to backing up the videos I took on honeymoon of OH swimming with dolphins (Definitely lost these). Whether it got pickpocketed or just lost, I had to accept I would probably not see it again, so it got reported, the SIM blocked and the phone blacklisted.

I've had a short, sharp shock into becoming more aware of phone/data security and preservation, and may blog my findings another time. But, what I have now got is an additional expense, as I had to make a decision about how to best replace my lost phone. I considered early upgrade and second hand with a replacement SIM (very expensive/merely expensive lump sum replacement funds involved). In the end I decided to run a cheap parallel contract, which will cost me an additional £17 for 3 months, reduce to an additional £12 for 15 months after that, and then go right down to £17 only for the rest of the new contract. Further research shows me I may have been able to haggle more data for that price, but I'm happy with the results... I would have been happier had we found my phone, but never mind.

I will still try the police again in a couple of days to see if my phone has been handed in. It's still worth doing.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

A Cool Thing From USA

I'm back from my travels, having caught an overnight flight, landing at 10 this morning. I'm very spaced and woozy and have had to have a bit of a kip this afternoon, but I've made myself get up and about, or I'll ruin my whole weekend with crap sleeping patterns.

I did manage to get out one of the nights while I was in New Jersey, and went to a sports bar where I got to order a burger 'medium rare' - I thought it would be lush, but it was very so-so. I have to say, not a patch on our local Buddies diner-style restaurants here in Northampton!

If I had a few more days in New Jersey, I would have liked to go visit the newly opened boardwalks down on the shore. Of course, I'm a huge fan of a certain TV show set on the Jersey shoreline... nope, not Jersey Shores - my IQ is in triple, not single figures, thank you. I meant this sweet bit of moonshine:

 New Jersey was of course hit very hard by Hurricane Sandy last year. I've heard stories about the storm surge being so huge that trains got derailed and picked up by the water, to be deposited on the highway half a mile away. The media is showing the face of optimism, as coastal businesses hope to get NJ families to celebrate Memorial weekend locally, and tourists to visit the shores to spend a bit of much needed cash.

I'm also a bit sad I missed the cicadas. When I have said I wanted to see them, people think I'm mad. But they are just coming out now around the East Coast, and they won't be seen again for another seventeen years. I won't put any pictures in case anyone gets freaked out by bugs, but they are weird.

So, not too many photos to show you. I was intrigued by the mystery of grown-over buildings on a road featuring hotels and offices that isn't on some sat navs, it's so new.

I was also a bit shocked to learn I've gained about 4 pounds this week, despite eating mainly Lean Cuisines. Mind, I suppose breakfasts like this don't help...
I only had giant waffles the one day - honest!
And despite not being able to travel to New York this time, my colleagues mad sure I came away with a souvenir.
Now, you might not guess what that is at first look, but it's a model of the Chrysler Building and it's very, very, very cool.

Behold - my very first thing made using a 3D printer! My colleague made it just for me.

It's extremely light, and you can see how the printer has applied the layers of plastic, printing round and round, like you might crochet something, which is quite apt for a home-crafted object!

So, that's my cool thing.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Day Without Storms

It has been an absolutely gorgeous day in New Jersey, blue of sky and still fresh from the recent rain. As I left the office, where the aircon had necessitated the wearing of a cardie all day, temperatures were approximately 25 degrees centigrade, akin to the weather we had in Malta last week. We were expecting thunderstorms, but so far none have happened. It thundered last time I was here, and it was absolutely crazy!

So, it looks like mid-America really has taken the brunt of the bad weather, and my heart goes out to the devastated families in Oklahoma. So many people have died, and an awful lot of them are children, as two elementary schools got ripped apart by a  mile-wide tornado. It's all over the news here. So sad...

I've also been keeping up with friends on Facebook, and I've been greatly cheered up by various messages I've had. I am a sad and lonely old soul, missing my new hubbie very much, and needing to think on all the positive things we have planned together for when I go home.

It will also be the first of our seriously frugal post-honeymoon outings, so I'm planning to go here.

This is Delapre Abbey, a seventeenth century house in a large wooded parkland setting, with beautiful walled gardens to the rear, and a delightful tea room (which sells excellent tea and cake!). I've been lucky enough to go inside to visit friends who have lived there, and despite  it having been run as council offices in the last century, a lot of it is still quite well-preserved... considering. There has been a religious dwelling on the site since 1145, so there's lots of history to the site as you can imagine.

I have my own history with the place as the Bardic Picnic has been held in the gardens every year since 2009, and it was at the first of these that I became Northampton's first official Bard. Plus, it's just a beautiful place to be - for the architecture, the natural scenery, and for the community spirit that is in abundance here. The Friends of Delapre keep the place going, organising volunteers for the tea room and running various events throughout the year. And one such event is this weekend!

I'm hoping the sun will shine for a walk round the gardens.
May 25th and 26th - Local and Community History Weekend 12 noon to 4pm
Join local history groups and societies at Delapre Abbey - exhibitions and displays, guided tours of the Abbey, special architectural and battlefield walks. To book tours in advance please call 01604214614 or email leaving your name, day and time (tours from 12 noon to 4 pm on the hour) and contact number.
Doesn't that sound excellent?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

An American Adventure!

Hello to everyone, and welcome to my new readers, too!

I'm currently installed in my hotel room in New Jersey, having set off on my adventures once again, just three very short days after returning from my honeymoon. I'm missing my new husband very much, but needs must.

Never mind... I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to see new places,even if there's not terribly much to see. I won't be able to travel to New York, like I did the last time I was here, as I landed very late last night and needed to recover from jetlag today to be fresh and ready for the week - today being my only free day.

So, impressions of NJ so far...

Right now, it's very similar to the UK weatherwise... a bit wet and damp, so not ideal walking weather. I still risked it.

Now, I've been here before, and already knew that the streets around office and hotel estates are not geared up for walkers. There are hardly any sidewalks. However, I'm in a budget hotel that doesn't do evening meals. There are nearby Pizza Huts and Taco Bells and a Subway. Apart from that, there's microwaveable pizza and snacks available from the lobby (there's a fridge and microwave in the room). Now, I love my chocolate and stuff... but the prospect of not eating properly for a few days is daunting to say the least. I need my fruit and veg!

So I thought I'd see if I could walk to the nearest shops.

Alas - Sai's Supermarket was shut down.

I knew there was a Stop and Shop on Eastern Avenue, but I got as far as Cedar Grove Lane before the traffic got too busy for an eccentric pedestrian like me to continue. There were splatted Canada geese and deers on the roadside (saw the deer as I went to push the button on the crosswalk - bloody made me jump!), so what chance might I have stood?

Not much to see en route apart from housing estates.

Back at the hotel, the receptionist gave me directions to a grocery/pharmacy that was easier to get to. Still missing sidewalks, but it cheered me up.

New Jersey is the Garden State, and it is indeed pretty. The air was fresh and clean smelling, and I walked by an abundance of fir trees, sycamore and birch, and the sound of birds chirping away high in the canopy.

 However, when I got to the store, I felt down once again, as the only 'food' available was either frozen Lean Cuisines, tinned soup, crackers, crisps, nuts and sweets, or dehydrated mac and cheese.

It almost made me regret chucking this out of my hotel fridge...

In case you can't see what that is, it's breast milk. But the provenance is clear at least - made by Andrea on 30th April.

Breast may be best, but I've replaced it with semi-skimmed.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Honeymoon on a Budget??? My Week in Malta

My new hubby would never have forgiven me if I'd try to go for a budget break for our honeymoon... but I do have some tips for anyone who is considering going to Malta, so buckle up for the adventure, romance and sunshine of this beautiful Mediterranean island.

First of all, may I say this has been an amazing break for us. Malta is beautiful, and at this time of year, it's not unbearably hot. The locals say it isn't summer yet, but I had to take care not to burn.

We stayed in the coastal town of Sliema.

This was recommended as it is quieter than neighbouring capital Valetta and the bustling St Julian's, but still in easy reach of most places. There is a new, modern shopping centre, lots of seafront cafes, and a great place to go swimming in the sea.

We went on lots of trips... to Valetta. Here is the most beautiful cathedral - St John's.

We also drank in The Pub - where Oliver Reed died. To be honest, it was a bit depressing, but I put that down to it being empty, near afternoon closing and Enigma being played in the background.

We visited the beautiful fishing harbour of Marsaxlokk. There is a market here everyday, but there's a really big one on Sundays.

...we bought and ate some of those sweets!

We walked to the prehistoric caves at Ghar Dalam. Here, many animal bones have been found which show how nanism (species of animals evolving into giant or dwarf versions) occurred as a result of the land bridge between Malta, Sicily and Europe disappearing. OH was thrilled at the prospect of tiny elephants!


And we went on a bus tour, stopping at the ancient medieval cities of Mdina and Rabat to explore the catacombs and WWII shelters under St Pauls.

We passed through Mosta - where the rotunda of the church is the 3rd largest unsupported dome in the world.

A bomb fell through the roof in the war, while people were inside praying. It didn't go off, and the congregation thought it was a miracle. After the war, the German bomber returned to the town to apologise and the town forgave him.

From there we went on to visit Golden Bay on the North-West coast - one of the few sandy beaches in Gozo. OH had a go at bodyboarding there. The waves were immense!

For his birthday, OH achieved a life's ambition and swam with dolphins.

It's not something I really agree with, but it made him very happy.

We also went on a booked excursion to a medieval banquet. The food was edible, the wine drinkable, and the 'play' that was put on was just that... as a medieval re-enactor, OH was a bit disappointed by the lame sword choreography. The whole thing was a bit Disneyfied. But the thing as whole was excellent fun, and the performances really good.

At one point they asked for volunteers to be made into knights by the Grand Master. We didn't realise those 'volunteers' had already been picked, but OH put his hand up, and the MC said, "Sorry, Madam, we're only picking men." When she realised her mistake, she was mortified! So, he got to be knighted after all.. as they hurriedly found him something appropriate to wear.
Yep - the one in the middle not wearing a black cloak with a Maltese cross.

We also tried scuba diving - I got as far as the sea and saw the seabed and a fish underwater after our pool session, but found the gear too claustrophobic and could feel panic setting in, so I didn't do much. OH was off though, chasing scorpion fish and all sorts!  (Note - really, don't chase those...)

So, those who expect us not to see the sights, just because it was our honeymoon, sorry to disappoint. Why travel all that way if you're not going to make the most of what a new place has to offer?

So, if you're planning a trip to Malta yourself, here are my tips:

Get Advice

Malta is a popular destination, so speak to friends who have been there already and they will be bound to be able to recommend places to stay and go. We got advice from a former inhabitant about which town and which hotel we might like. As it happened, we were fairly young for the average clientele of our hotel, but the location was perfect, the room was great, the facilities excellent. And the food! As we went half-board, we were glad the food was top notch.

Read up too. Before we went, we got  several guides from the library and read up on the history to decide the sort of thing we wanted to do there. We also bought a Marco Polo guide to take with us, using vouchers we were given as gifts. This was really useful.

Don't Drive

Really, life is too precious!  We saw several near-accidents every day as the driving is a bit cut-throat. Parking is nigh on impossible in some of the small towns too. Just take the bus... they are all run by Arriva, are comfy, air-conditioned and regular and you can get pretty much most places by bus. A week's pass will cost you €12.60, and will get you everywhere.


Heritage Malta run a scheme whereby you can see several of the island's top museums for €20. The pass gets you into The Museum of Archeology, the Armoury and State Rooms in the Grand Master's Palace, Fort St Elmo's War Museum and the National Museum of Fine Arts   - all in Valetta. We have heard that some of the more expensive multi-site tickets may not be worth the extra, as some of the museums don't have much to them.

Bear the Weather in Mind

Boat trips won't run on windy days as the sea gets too choppy, so if you do score a free harbour cruise from your bus tour at Sliema Ferries, try to take it as early as you can so you don't miss out. Or you can hang around the harbour and see if anyone passing has a ticket they can't use to spare...
Also, sun hats and sun cream are essential. We both used a children's factor 50 water resistant one from Nivea which cost £3.90 from ASDA. Don't be fooled into thinking you won't tan, or you need a special one for adults.

Grab the Opportunity

 Scuba diving is relatively cheap to try in Malta. For two of us, a taster session was just €60 from Aquarrigo. It just gets expensive if you want to qualify for a deep dive.

 It's free to...

  • Take in the sights at Marsaxlokk and just wander around.
  • Visit the Upper Barracca Gardens in Valetta, and they are beautiful too. Just don't be tempted to go down the lift there. There's nothing at the bottom, and they charge you a euro to get back up. Go just before noon, and you can watch the saluting battery be fired.
  • Swim in the sea. Most of the lidos belong to the hotels, and in high season they may check you are a resident, but then again they may not. But those beautiful lidos are just sea water anyway. There are steps all around the bay in Sliema allowing access to the sea very easily.
  • Go rockpooling. Guaranteed, you've never seen so many varieties of sea creature in the rock pools at home! A sort of mini scuba diving, if you like.
  • Go for a run along the beautiful promenade between St Julien's and Sliema. This is very popular with joggers.
  •  Use the play parks - there's some great play equipment for kids. But if you're a grown up, there are outdoor gyms by the seafront in Sliema, so you can play too!
  • Go panning for salt, along some of Malta's famous salt pans.
  • Go snorkling - we took our own equipment bought from Sports Direct dirt cheap.
Free Money

Yes, free money! When you arrive at the airport, you may be passed a form from the Malta tourism authority. If you fill it in and take it to their office in Valetta at the end of your holiday, they will give you a cheque for €20, which you need to cash there and then. Make sure you do so in the morning, as the banks close their desks in the afternoon.

And, I'm not suggesting you do this, but you could try scamming the scammers, like we did. An hour of our time, a sob story and an Oscar-winning performance on my part, and we got another €20 promised to us by a timeshare salesman, and they got nothing from us whatsoever! These people rely on the romance of Malta, your desire for escape and your lack of quick maths and observation skills. Really, you can offer me a holiday in Australia? But there's no photo of the accommodation...mmmmh
I love Malta - the sun, the history and culture and warmth of the place. I love the food and wine!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

My Steampunk (ish) Wedding

Wow, am I one lucky girl!

I'm grabbing ten minutes while my new hubby catches up with watching the Grand Prix from the weekend. I like it too, but I can't sit and watch much TV for long periods unless for a film; I get restless.

We've got so much to do now we're back from honeymoon, but my burdens have been greatly eased by the amazing generosity of my friends and family who have helped out so much. My cats have been well looked after while we were away, and the friend who came to feed them has even tidied the kitchen for us (lesson here is, getting married, getting ready for a honeymoon and finishing editorial work are all things that require a Time Lord's intervention to be done at the same time, never mind being tidy about it). I am truly grateful!

I'm also nibbling away at one of my wedding pressies - a few delightful and very yummy moustache biscuits from a box made by  Emma B's Cakery.

I have talented and wonderful friends in abundance... I wasn't going to have a hen do this year, but my matron of honour, Kim, got together with a few friends and organised a wonderful trip round 78 Derngate for me on the day before my wedding. 78 Derngate is a wonderfully preserved arts and crafts house, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. George Bernard Shaw stayed there once, in a very busy room. The hostess apologised for the jarring patterns, saying she feared he wouldn't sleep, to which Mr Shaw told her he always slept with his eyes closed. What a card!

Then, we had a mad hatters tea party in the cafe, with an abundance of Pimms, champagne, tea and chai, cakes and sandwiches. It was an elegant affair.

It was even attended by Queen Victoria in  mouse form...

On the day of the wedding, Kim and my friend Sam came over to help me get ready. They did an excellent job and I scrubbed up quite decently. But more than that, they kept me going all morning with their support.

Also in the morning, my flower lady, Anne of The Flower Stylist came over to deliver my flowers. I can heartily recommend her work. She's kind, warm and creative, and her prices are very reasonable too! Here is what she did for me:

And here are the posies for my little bridesmaids.

My brother, James, drove me to the wedding venue with the girls, but we were told to go away as we were ridiculously early. To the car then, to groove to New Order for a bit.

Finally, it was time for the ceremony. Inside the guests were all grooving away to The Eagles' "Journey of the Sorceror" (Theme to Hitchikers' Guide to the Galaxy), and I got ready to go in with my dad.

My entrance music was the beautiful  "O Mio Babbino Caro" by Puccini, as sung by Katherine Jenkins. Yep - a Doctor Who connection.Why not? I love the song.

I don't think I stopped shaking all through the ceremony. It was all so lovely! Kim read from Peter Pan, chapter 3, which I chose because the characters are just children at heart; flawed, argumentative, but ultimately saved by each others' love. Sam read the Tattoo poem by Neil Gaiman.

I will write in words of fire. 
I will write them on your skin. 
I will write about desire. 
Write beginnings, write of sin. 
You're the book I love the best, 
your skin only holds my truth, 
you will be a palimpsest 
lines of age rewriting youth. 
You will not burn upon the pyre. 
Or be buried on the shelf. 
You're my letter to desire: 
And you'll never read yourself. 
I will trace each word and comma 
As the final dusk descends, 
You're my tale of dreams and drama, 
Let us find out how it ends.
We signed the register while Murray Gold's "The Wedding of River Song" played.
 And then we were man and wife! Exit to Peatbog Faeries, "Folk Police".

And I'm sure you will agree, our wedding was a stylish and bohemian thing...

People did say they thought we looked fantastic. Well, they did, until they saw the cake. And then it was all about the cake.

Isn't that an amazing cake?!! Claire Tong is one talented woman. She makes very delicious cakes with fine sugarwork. she makes lots of craft items too, and acts in plays to boot!

Yes - she's thinking of doing this professionally. Good, hey? I can put in a word, if you like ;P (EDIT: Sadly, Claire is not thinking of going pro after all...)

The hat decoration on the cake matches the buttonholes and other featherwork worn by OH and our retinue as made by our friend, Tamsyn Payne, who is a costume designer (as well as about a hundred other creative things, all of which she is brilliant at).

My OH looked very dapper, but thought he'd swap clothes with our friend Andrew Reid for our first dance to Muse.

We also had entertainment from magician Al Rudge. My little nephew really enjoyed his nail trick! I can't seem to find any pics at the moment, so if anyone has any, please let me know. In fact, I've been cheeky and grabbed a few from my friends on Facebook, but I'm hoping you'll let me keep copies for my personal albums.

And music came from the amazing Jordan Reyne, who was so good, she made my dad cry!

Finally, we discoed the night away to the tunes of Kill Whitey DJs Dan and Lauren, who made an excellent start with "Doctoring the Tardis" (KLF) followed by "Can You Dig IT?" (PWEI) and carried on from there.

I am knackered just writing this lot up. Think you'll have to wait a bit for the honeymoon follow-up. Dodgy photos a-go-go!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Yippee Kayay - Dye: Hard!!!

I  went to an event last night and dressed quite glam for the occasion (for me) in a sparkly dress I got from a swishing party. That's a party where you take along clothes or accessories that are decent but no longer your thing, and swap them for something that is. I'm afraid I don't have pics... mind, I'm kind of ashamed of my hair! I have dyed it Raspberry Rebel ahead of my wedding, but my hair is rubbish at taking dye, and 2 boxes have left a lot of hair still brown. So another 2 boxes have been acquired... all in all my hair will have cost £15 to colour.

If you're wondering why I don't just go to the hairdressers, I must admit that they slightly scare me,  and not just because I have to put my hand in my pocket. I don't know why it is, but I turn into  a mouse and can't say what I want to them. I've only been a few times, and most visits have just been awful. In the past, hairdressers have insisted on giving me perms I didn't ask for, fringes I didn't ask for, stupid one inch layers, left perming solution on my hair so long that it burned my hair and all broke off, and several times, after I've gone in with my several years' growth of untouched hair, they've gone a bit scissor-crazy and just cut off far too much. I've also been massively underquoted as professionals have encountered my dye-resistant hair and had to charge me for additional boxes and time.

So, pics only when it looks decent.

Here's something that has worked: a friend has treated me to some false nails and helped me apply them:

Girly hands!

I must admit, things  are a bit trickier to do with nails like this, but they do look fab.