Friday, May 29, 2009

Who wants to wear heels anyway?

A Housewife in Her New Modern Kitchen (1957)

For the past couple of weeks, I've been going to work again. No, I didn't grow tired of playing the happy housewife, and I'm still as committed as ever to sitting out the economic crisis. It's just that a friend needed someone to cover while she took emergency leave, I was available, and so I temporarily joined the fast lane.

I struggled a little to get organised on the first morning - too much to do in such a short period of time: wake up, have shower, style hair, put make up on, dress in suit and work heels. I had to skip breakfast to fit everything else in. I'm sure I used to be better at this...

The work was quite interesting and it was nice to earn a bit of money. The office was practically next door to a cinema, and I went in a few times after work (State of Play was particularly good).

I was knackered by the end of each day, which surprised me, as the work was much less taxing than my last job. I guess one gets used to the easy lifestyle after a while. My worst gripe, however, is that I From wearing heels. Who would have thought that was possible? I mean blisters at the back of the foot, sure. But blisters under the toes? All ten of them? What are the chances?

I've come to the conclusion that this work thing is wildly overrated. I'm definitely not ready for it. So back to the kitchen it is. It doesn't pay, but at least I can wear flip flops.

I guess I should be thankful it's not 1957.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

All is revealed

Since you guys were asking about the kiwi & lime juice I posted about yesterday, I fished the carton out of the recycling bin and had a look at the ingredients list. Here's what I found out:

It contains (quote) Water, Juice Concentrates of: Lime - Apple - Orange, Sugar, Natural Stabiliser: Gum Arabic, Nature Identical Flavours of: Kiwi - Gooseberry - Lime, Natural Colours: Betacarotene, Brilliant Blue.

It is made by Saudi food company Al Rabie and according to their website it's not as popular a flavour as orange, but it's more popular than apple.

I don't know what kind of "natural" colour brilliant blue is, or why there is no actual kiwi in kiwi & lime juice. I'm sure the guys in Brussels would have something to say about that. Tut tut.

Still, it tasted really good.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Kiwi and lime

This is the last of the kiwi & lime juice I brought back from Dubai. How can something so green taste quite so good?

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Reader out on DVD

You may remember that I told you about The Reader last February, when I watched it. Yesterday I saw this poster advertising the DVD and thought I'd post it as a reminder. If you didn't watch The Reader on the big screen, do pick up the DVD. Oscars wins and nominations aside, this was one of the best films of last year and it's well worth seeing. And yes, there's lots more to it than seeing Kate Winslett naked, irrespective of what the promo shots might have you think.

I have now also read the book by Bernhard Schlink that the film is based on. According to Wikipedia (fountain of all knowledge on the internet) The Reader became the first German novel to top the New York Times bestseller list, and Oprah Winfrey made it a selection of her book club in 1999. All I'll say is, I'm not surprised - it's one of the best books I've ever read. Highly recommended.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Well, obviously, anyone remotely interested in the result will already know that Alexander Rybak won the 54th Eurovision song contest for Norway, but I figured it deserved a mention on the blog too. The song is pleasant enough, with a nice beat that makes you want to jump up and dance, and was supported on stage by two blonde Norwegian backing singers (female, of course) and Frikar's impressive acrobatic choreography. Not sure all this justifies the landslide victory it got, but hey, that's what marketing's for, eh?

As for the rest of the participants, this is a sample of what was on offer:

The biggest WOW moment of the evening was Dita von Teese's appearance alongside Oscar Loya who sang Miss Kiss Kiss Bang for Germany. I mean, just look at that waist!! Apparently, Dita's costume on the night was slightly more demure than her outfit at the dress rehearsal after she was reportedly told to cover up by the EBU, which runs Eurovision, because it was unsuitable for a family audience.

Patricia Kaas, one of the most successful French-speaking singers in the world, represented France, and gave us a glimpse of what Eurovision used to be like.

Estonia's was one of the best songs of the competition, and deserved better than 6th place. Beautiful staging too, with no gimmicks.

Very unlike their neighbouring Ukraine, who have a reputation for going completely mad on stage - year after year.

Ditto Azerbaijan, who came 3rd with a very energetic tune sung by AySel & Arash.

Denmark's song was written by Ronan Keating and sung by a Ronan Keating look-and-sound-alike. Spooky.

Armenia was one of the countries that embraced the ethnic look. Apparently, singers Inga & Anush are often mistaken for twins. I wonder why.

Malta was once again represented by Chiara. Beautiful voice, but the song was fairly nondescript and didn't do well.

Iceland on the other hand, did really well with a beautiful ballad sang by the beautiful Yohanna with the beautiful 80's bridesmaid's dress. Disney princesses eat your hearts out.

Sweden took a risk that didn't quite pay off with opera singer Malena Ernman. A beautiful song and fab staging, it deserved to do better than it did.

Last but not least, our very own Jade Ewen belts it out while Andrew Lloyd Webber looks on in admiration (or perhaps it's a side effect of the botox).

The end result looked like this:

1. Norway
2. Iceland
3. Azerbaijan
4. Turkey
5. United Kingdom (near the top at last)
6. Estonia
7. Greece (go Sakis!)
8. France
9. Bosnia & Herzegovina
10. Armenia
11. Russia
12. Ukraine
13. Denmark
14. Moldova
15. Portugal
16. Israel
17. Albania
18. Croatia
19. Romania
20. Germany
21. Sweden
22. Malta
23. Lithuania
24. Spain
25. Finland

Next stop Oslo or Bergen, this time next year!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Eurovision is upon us

Yep, it's that time of year again. The two semi-finals took place earlier this week, and we now know the 20 countries (Greece amongst them - yey!) that will join the "Big 4" and hosts Russia at the final. Later tonight, an estimated 105 million viewers will tune in to watch and vote for their favourite act. Not bad going for a lightweight competition that's been taking place for over 50 years already.

I'm very excited about the Greek entry this year. Sakis Rouvas is well known and much loved in Greece, a great performer and easy on the eye too. My personal claim to fame is that my friend Alex used to go to school with Sakis back in Corfu. I know it's not much, but hey, it's better than the six degrees of separation, and way better than anything my friends can claim (well, apart from Georgia, but she doesn't count as she works in the music industry and has an unfair advantage).

The countries participating in this year's final are: Lithuania, Israel, France, Sweden, Croatia, Portugal, Iceland, Greece, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Moldova, Malta, Estonia, Denmark, Germany, Turkey, Albania, Norway, Ukraine, Romania, UK, Finland and Spain. Last year the winner was Russia (also this year's host - I bet they're gutted about their bad timing, economic crisis and all), and before that it was Serbia, Finland, Greece, Ukraine, Turkey and so on. Seems like the winners come from all over Europe, despite accusations of "political voting" - made primarily, but not exclusively, by the Big Four, who effectively buy their way into the final every year. Ahem.

Still, this year will be different, as each country's public vote will be moderated by a jury vote. We'll know the new system has worked when France comes first. OK, that was a joke. If France wins I'll eat my hat. Norway is supposed to be this year's hot favourite. The song isn't quite my cup of tea, but to be honest, in the current economic climate, it's only fair that a rich country wins. I reckon they're in with a chance too - their song is upbeat and its placement at the final should work in their favour. I personally quite like Denmark and Estonia, and Sweden is fast growing on me too.

But most of all, I like Sakis. Please forgive the shameless plug. I draw the line at publishing his semi-nude (very artistic) photos that my friend Kathy mailed me the other day, so count your blessings.

Good luck to all the participating countries and may the best man (or, indeed, woman) win!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's not a cottage, it's...

...a signal box on the side of the railway line, somewhere in East Sussex - presumably not far from Rye.

A signal box is where the signal man used to manually operate levers and handles so that various pieces of equipment were set in the required position for each train that passed. The raised design also provided the signalman with a good view of the railway under his control. These days, signal changes are managed remotely, so no idea what the signal boxes are used as, but there are several dotted around South East England, and I reckon this is one of the prettiest.

If you're a railway enthusiast, you can read (a lot) more about the Rye signal box here and about signal boxes in general on Wikipedia. Apparently, signal boxes are called signal cabins in Ireland, interlocking towers in the US and postes d'aiguillage (literally "shunting stations") in French.

Never let it be said that blogging isn't educational.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Maypole dancing

The children in last Wordless Wednesday's photo were getting ready to do a maypole dance. This photo shows them in action.

It wasn't the most intricate dancing I've seen, but they deserve full credit for showing even a tiny amount of enthusiasm considering it was raining at the time. Nothing like a May day should be - but exactly like most Maydays are in the UK.

This is a short video I took, which shows them weaving the ribbons one way, then undoing them. They were rather pleased with themselves when they finished and got a round of applause.

Personally, I think the lady in the middle holding the pole steady deserved the biggest praise. That was a task and a half!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

A new blog

This is a quick post to let you know that I've created a sister blog to this one, mainly to publish photos with very little text - ideal for days such as today, when I'm rushed off my feet.

The blog location is:

I'm planning to post the same Wordless Wednesday photos as I do here, with more photos either side, usually representing what I've been up to on each day. It might become an electronic photo diary, or somewhere to dump photos that aren't special enough to be dressed with words, or perhaps it'll turn out to be an interesting blog in its own right.

Either way, this will continue to be my main blog, but I thought I'd mention the new one in case anyone has a particular interest in amateur photography.

(Well, you never know).

Friday, May 01, 2009

Good news at last

In the midst of economic gloom and swine flu panic, the Met Office's much awaited summer forecast is, quite literally, a ray of sunshine.

For the UK and much of northern Europe rainfall is likely to be near or below average. A repeat of the wet summers of 2007 and 2008 is unlikely. Temperatures are likely to be above average.

After two consecutive very wet and lukewarm summers, things are looking up this year. Hallelujah!