Sunday, July 26, 2009


Dartmoor is a landscape that makes sense in grey, windy conditions.

Dartmoor with a mother in a wheelchair in grey, windy conditions makes less sense.

Ah well the hotel was fabulous as ever and the staff are so friendly and accommodating that despite the vagaries of the British summer we manage to have a good time and hopefully it gave the folks a bit of a break, which is after all the main point of the exercise.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Shoe-shaped and Bristol Fashion

Spending a weekend in Bristol with the lovely C, en route to Dartmoor has become an annual event.

It may have started as a break in the long drive south of a Friday night, but just because this year I’m adopting the more environmentally responsible option of train travel, is no reason to mess with tradition.

Obviously something in the universal planning scheme of things screwed up somewhere as clearly we’re supposed to live in the same city. Snatched weekends like this are a small step in righting that wrong.

Other traditions have crept in over the years: sitting up far too late gossiping, eating out at fab restaurants and, well, shopping.

This year we find Cribbs in excellent sales mode and snag numerous bargains.

C buys the most gorgeous pair of shoes I’ve seen in a long time (pink with a flash of grey on the heel - total loveliness) and I snag a seriously reduced pair of grey heels that will be fab for wearing with shift dress at work and best of all...a pair of my favouritest shoes in the world ever, in another colour, half-price.

But all this is by-the-by (or even buy-the-buy), the main highlight of the weekend is spending time together.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hair today

Eldest adopted niece will shortly be turning 18. Where does the time go? I can date the time when I first properly got to know her as it was her last year before starting high school.

The reason I know this is because of the following (by now apocryphal) tale:

Over that year or so I’d become increasingly good friends with her parents (and now count my blessings regularly to consider them some of the best sorts of friends one could ever hope for). At some point in this year they decided it would be hilarious to get their three girls to start referring to me as “Aunty 1iz who we love lots and lots”, in the mistaken belief that my lack of desire to have my own children, combined with my vocal dislike of kids squawking in public, signified a general dislike of children and therefore the opportunity on their part, for good sport.

In reality, the former condition is a dislike of the 24/7 thing – I quite like other people’s kids as long as I can give them back after a few hours, and the latter is I believe a crime that should be levelled at the parents not the brats, sorry I mean children, in question.

Sure I may from time to time ponder about whether "Children Farms" are the way forward...but I'm only partly serious.

Being “Aunty 1iz”, who they love lots and lots, let’s not forget) is actually good fun and my three adopted nieces each delight me in their own uniquely different ways.

Come the summer of that fateful year, the eldest, K, was allowed to come to Greenbelt and in the course of the week spent a degree of time with her Aunty 1iz (WSLLaL). We got on great – she’s ace to spend time with.

On the final day I get her enraged father on the phone, demanding to know “what have you done?”.

I, entirely genuinely, explain that I know not of what he speaks.

His response: “K has dyed her hair red to be like Aunty 1iz. It won’t wash out and she starts high school this week!”.

I can only reaffirm my innocence in the matter and suggest that this might be what is called “having the last laugh”.

So that dates it I guess. Seven years down the line and K is turning 18.

Aunty 1iz (who has come to love all three of them lots and lots) is now at a loss as to what to buy K for a birthday present.

In passing conversation, her mother relates that K wants to “go blonde” for her 18th party. I suck my teeth and observe that given she’s been dying it darker of late she needs to be careful and to make sure she doesn’t go for a cheap salon.

Her mother replies that what K would ideally like would be to use Aunty 1iz’s colourist, but this of course comes with a decidedly “working adult” price tag.

An idea was born and two birds were slain with one stone this afternoon as K joined me in enjoying the artistic mastery of my colourist S.

It feels like an appropriate present, a coming full circle, a coming of age ritual. Grown up hair care for a young woman who has grown up so beautifully.

Still we’re both also still young at heart…as can be witnessed by our giggling as we go for a few post-hair cocktails in Zinc (well her ID says she’s 26 after all ;-) ).

Shopping, hair, K texts to her boy - living the dream.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Sometimes it's easy to forget about the hidden treasures that exist on your doorstep; or in this case, my office doorstep.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Olive Kitteridge - Elizabeth Strout

I suppose it took me a while to get used to the fact that the title of this book is a bit misleading. Olive is little more than a bit-player in many of the stories that make up the chapters of this book.

Whether it’s a film or a book or whatever, our expectations going in often play a large part in determining how we receive a piece of art.

Go to see a film with high expectations and you’re often disappointed; whereas go with little or no preconceptions and films can surprise you and seem to extend far beyond their expected levels of achievement.

At first, the novel’s failure to match the expectations raised in me by the title, were a frustration, but by the end it had beguiled me.