It’s been a while ….

I’ve missed a couple of Six on Saturdays and haven’t seemed to find the time to write any other time for a while, so I thought I’d use some of the bank holiday to write a quick catch up on the last couple of weeks.

My new love of Lego continues. I succumbed to ordering 4 Privet Drive, the house that Harry Potter lives in with Aunt Petunia, Uncle Vernon and Dudley and it’s fab. You can make Hogwarts letters come flying out of the fireplace like they do in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Ron’s blue Ford Anglia really does pull Harry’s bedroom window out as it does when Ron, Fred and George come to rescue Harry in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. You can even open up the side of the house to see inside the cupboard under the stairs which was Harry’s bedroom until he went to Hogwarts.

I also treated myself to a newly released set – Winnie the Pooh’s house in the Hundred Acre Forest.

The attention to detail is fantastic. Pooh bear can sit on the log outside his house and inside he can look in the mirror when he can do his stoutness exercises and obviously there are honey (hunny!) pots galore.

I’m super excited that Lego have just announced some new Harry Potter sets being released on 1st June. I’ve already ordered the Hogsmeade set which includes the Three Broomsticks pub and Honeydukes sweet shop, but I can feel a couple more purchases coming on!! Honestly, we need a bigger house so I can have a Lego room.

We could also do with a teddy bear room! I treated myself to a new bear called Theo last weekend when I went to Webbs garden centre.

He’s currently living on our bed. I did buy some lottery tickets this past weekend thinking that we could see if our neighbour would consider selling us his house so we could make a Lego room and a teddy bear room and a gym. We did win, but I don’t think he’d sell it to us for £30!

My actual reason for going to Webbs was to choose some plants to go in Granny’s pots that I inherited. I tried to choose plants that either had a relevant name or that I thought Granny would like.

On the left of these first three pots is poppy Beauty of Livermere which I thought Granny would like. She was a very cheery person so the bright red of a poppy seems appropriate. She was also born between the wars so a poppy is relevant. In the middle is a fuchsia. My Grandad loved fuchsias and they remind me of visiting them both when I was a child. This fuchsia is one of six that arrived from QVC. Unfortunately they’d been tipped upside down by Hermes so I’m trying my hardest to help them recover. I’ve put a little fairy in the pot with this one, which was the worst hit, to watch over it. On the right is a patio rose called Sweet Memories.

On the other side of my raised bed we have, on the left, hebe Golden Pixie. Granny had a hebe in her front border which she told me someone reversed their car into. In the middle is geum Pink Petticoats which, again, I thought Granny would like. Finally on the right is polemonium Stairway to Heaven with obvious relevance.

I love how they look arranged around my raised bed, with the two lily pots at the head.

I also bought this rose …

… because it’s called Sheila’s Perfume – Granny was called Sheila. I haven’t decided where this is going to go yet.

While I was planting these up, I spotted some movement out of the corner of my eye so I went to investigate, and found this friendly little robin.

Now I know it’s not unusual to see a robin whilst you’re gardening, but I’ve never had one let me get this close and for so long. It really seemed interested in what I was doing. My Mum said it was my Grandad popping in to see what I’d done with his pots. They were his and Granny’s when he was still with us, and he was the gardener really, Granny maintained them after he’d gone, and now I’m going to continue doing that.

I also inherited this stool which makes me think of Granny and Grandad every morning when I get up.

It’s been around for the whole of my life, and I remember sitting on it when I was small enough to do so! It came from Kenya when my Great Uncle (Granny’s brother) was working there. It’s not worth anything to anyone else, but to me it’s priceless.

I’ve been doing quite a bit of crochet too. I finished my Picnic on the Beach blanket which was a cal (crochet along) by Coastal Crochet.

And I’ve made quite a bit of progress on my D’Histoire Naturelle blanket which is a Scheepjes cal.

I should now be doing the next cal which is the Picnic by the River cal also designed by Coastal Crochet, but for Little Box of Crochet. However, I’m being patient with that one because I’m busy crocheting something else which I can’t tell you about in case the intended recipient reads this!

Moving back to the garden, and it’s coming back to life slowly but surely. Everything seems to be taking longer this year, probably because it’s been so cold and dry. Here’s a collage of colour for you – Welsh poppy, geum Totally Tangerine, pieris in full on show off mode, honesty and two different erysimums.

Finally, I’ll end with some pics of our visit to Hoo Farm last week. We’ve been here a few times and it’s always a good day out. They have lots of animals, and many of them are rescues or old animals that are living out their last days in peace. They’ve also added a walk through dinosaur section called Hoo-rassic World since our last visit which was fun.

Right, I’m off to do some more speed crocheting as the decidedly autumn weather outside has put the kibosh on anything outdoorsy!

A whole new generation

Last Sunday hubby and I headed over to Worcester to my Dad’s house. We always look forward to a trip to Worcester, but this weekend was destined to be even more special because we were going to meet the newest addition to our clan. My youngest brother and my sister-in-law have become parents! How exciting!

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Isn’t she beautiful? This is the first time my hubby has held a baby for seventeen years, and hence the first time I’ve seen the phenomenon! If I was troubled by the ticking of my biological clock this probably would’ve advanced it a few hours (I’m not – someone forgot to wind it up!) He did a pretty good job of it, she slept like, well, a baby, perfectly happy in his arms.

I chartered my ship in quite the opposite direction, and it was the right navigation for me, but there is something so special about welcoming a new little life into the family, and I did so enjoy little baby cuddles.

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My hair looks weird! No idea what happened there (I’m going to the hairdressers tomorrow, all will be rectified). I’m sure I don’t normally look this old either, I blame the comparison with the youngest recruit! Anyhow, I’m not the important one in the picture.

Also meeting baby E for the first time was my oldest (but still younger than me, as most people are these days!) brother, my other sister-in-law and their little girl, my other niece, V. V is absolutely delightful! Like, really, heart-miss-a-beat amazing! I’m annoyed that I left without taking any photos of her, so I’ve pinched one that someone else took.

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There were lots of giggles caused by some of the completely innocent things that little V said (very eloquently I must add because she’s a very bright little girl – must run in the family 😉) but by far my favourite was when she addressed hubby as Aunty Colin. Brilliant!

I’m so glad that my Dad and C are Grandparents twice over because to see them with their two Granddaughters is really special, and they are so obviously relishing their new roles. Just look at how Dad’s looking at V above. Makes me feel really nostalgic because I can remember him looking at me just like that (not that he doesn’t still, but, you know, I’m a bit too big to hang out with him in a den these days!)

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Again, this isn’t my photo (hope it’s ok that I’ve used it) but I just love it. I almost feel like I can remember being held like this in those very arms. My earliest memory is at eighteen months old so I think what I’m probably half remembering is one of my brothers being held like this, or maybe one of my younger cousins.

I’m aware that I’ve used the word ‘special’ a few times in this post, and normally I’d go back and replace some instances with synonyms to avoid repetition, but I’m not going to on this occasion because special is the right word in every case. I know the weekend was very special for everyone, and I’m so glad we could be there. I’m a very proud Aunty (as is my hubby!)

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A couple of trips to the theatre

Gosh, isn’t January taking its time? I saw a meme on Facebook this morning that said  ‘it literally feels like 74th January!’ Now, I’ll ignore my internal linguistic Juliet Bravo who wants to remove the incorrect use of ‘literally’ because it feels so true that it almost is literally! At least it was pay day yesterday and I was finally able to order the jumper I’ve been drooling over on the Oasis website for the last fortnight!

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Shopping makes me happy, and when I don’t even need to leave the house to do it …. even better! Aren’t these lovely summery colours? I have something of a long love affair with stars. I had one tattooed on my shoulder at the age of nineteen. You can imagine my delight when this month’s Little Box of Crochet arrived this week covered in beautiful stars.

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The contents make something starrily gorgeous too, but I’ll show you that once it’s done (which will be some time away since I still have November and December’s boxes to finish, plus I’m halfway through a baby blanket for my new niece, Emmeline, and am fully ensconced in the Attic24 CAL – here’s a quick sneak peak of my progress as modelled by my lovely Tink).

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Anyway, on to today’s topic, theatre trips, and controversially I’m going to tell you about the second (most recent one) first.

He’s behind you! Oh no he’s not! Pantomime! One of my favourite people got tickets for her Mum, my Dad, her friend and I to go and see Peter Pan at the Birmingham Hippodrome. We’ve been looking forward to this for months, and it finally came around this week.

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I obviously don’t have many photos because it’s generally frowned on to take pics at the theatre, but I managed to snap this one at the beginning. I just love the whole, well, pantomime of it. All the booing, the campness and the innuendo that all the kids laugh at but have no idea why!

Peter Pan was played by Jaymi Hensley who was on the X Factor back when it was still worth watching and he had a cracking voice. Meera Syal played a mermaid. I don’t remember a mermaid in Peter Pan, but it’s an awfully long time since I read it. Queue lots of fishy jokes and Goodness Gracious Me references. Captain Hook was originally Jimmy Osmond, but sadly he was taken ill early in the run (get well soon Jimmy) and was replaced by Darren Day. I didn’t have a particularly high opinion of Darren Day (possibly owing to the media reporting his various infidelities at length during my youth) but good on him for stepping in and, actually, he was fab! Very funny. Finally, there was Matt Slack as Smee. He is the glue that holds the whole thing together. He’s a regular having been in the Birmingham Hippodrome pantomime for the last six years (and confirmed for Christmas 2019 too).

I saw the panto last year too, and I noticed that some of the scenes are rewritten and updated each year, but they’re so funny that it still works. There’s a scene where several of the characters sing in a round including actions which result in Smee being bashed over the head with a frying pan or poked in the derrière with a poker and another where a tongue twister gets added to and embellished until it’s practically impossible to get through without accidentally slipping out a rude word. Hilarious, and actually very difficult for the actors. There’s also always someone that ends up falling through a trap door!

The script is obviously updated regularly to reflect current affairs. There were references to Brexit (obviously!) and the Duke of Edinburgh’s driving exploits and Theresa May (Theresa may what?) Without having seen it twice, it’s hard to tell whether some of it is ad-libbed or not. If it is, then it’s even more clever. We all spent a significant amount of the time belly laughing, and personally, given the trials of work at the moment, and the political uncertainty, and, let’s face it, January, I really appreciated the diversion. A good laugh is good for the soul.

Something that is also good for the soul is this ……

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….. Practically Perfect in Every Way!

I adore Mary Poppins! Always have, always will. If I’m poorly, one of my go to ‘feeling sorry for myself’ indulgences is watching Julie Andrews fly in with with her umbrella to sort out the Banks family. Given my alliegence to the 1964 original, my initial reaction to the news that a new Mary Poppins film was being made was abject horror (I still can’t bring myself to watch the remake of Pete’s Dragon!) but once I’d breathed in and out of a paper bag a few times and googled it, I realised it wasn’t a remake, but a sequel. Hmmmm, thought I, that, I think, is ok! From thence onwards I let out a little squeal of excitement whenever I saw a trailer for it. Emily Blunt, on initial viewing, seemed practically perfect in every way for the part of Mary Poppins.

On Christmas Eve, I excitedly rushed away from work once I was allowed to escape, and met my sister-in-law and our lovely friend to go and see the new film. I had learnt several weeks earlier than said lovely friend had never seen the original, and once in the cinema, it also transpired that my sister-in-law hadn’t seen much beyond supercallifragilisticexpialidocious either! Honestly, if I hadn’t been concerned about missing the start this may have had me reaching for that paper bag again.

The premise of the story is that Jane and Michael are all grown up. Jane is single and has rather inherited her mother’s activist tendencies. Michael has been recently widowed leaving him to care for his three children. He still lives at 17 Cherry Tree Lane with the children but, as a struggling artist, has received notification that the house will be repossessed if he can’t make the next payment on a loan by the deadline. Jane realises that their father left them shares in the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank where he worked. All they need to do is find the share certificate and present it to the bank in time to save the day.

Obviously, it transpires that it is not as easy as it sounds, so enter Mary Poppins to save the day! My initial feelings about Emily Blunt were bang on! I can’t think of anyone who could have emulated the great Ms Andrews any better. She had the mannerisms and quirks spot on. Jane was also exactly as I would have imagined her to grow up. Michael, not so much, he just didn’t look quite right and he had lost the cheeky zest he had in the original (although I guess that comes from being widowed and having bailiffs pound on your door).

 

The film has completely its own story, but there are nods and references to the original scattered throughout it. Upon seeing Mary Poppins for the first time, Michael’s mouth falls open to which, those of us who are in the thousands of views of the original, could easily predict that Mary Poppins’ response would have to be ‘close your mouth Michael, we are still not a codfish’ (she doesn’t disappoint). It’s done very cleverly though so you won’t miss out if you haven’t seen the original (how, how, how?) rather your viewing is simply enhanced if you have. I think I probably smiled with nostalgic glee the whole way through, so incredibly happy that they’d managed to capture the original magic and rework it.

I won’t say too much and ruin the surprise for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, but integral to the story is a Bert-like character who helps to keep the story moving (in doing some research I’ve just discovered a theory that Mary Poppins was Bert’s nanny – mind officially blown), there’s a scene which is the partner to the chalk drawing scene in the original, an updated version of the part where they have a tea party on the ceiling with Uncle Albert, an alternative to the rooftop chim chiminey dance, and these fellas are still hopping around.

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Dick Van Dyke even makes a cameo appearance towards the end!

It essentially follows the same format as the original. For devotees such as myself who could be in the original if only they could learn to fly, you can almost predict roughly what kind of scene is coming. This may sound like a bad thing, after all, who wants a predictable film, but the storyline keeps you guessing, it’s just the format that’s familiar which just adds to the magic and the nostalgia.

I don’t think I’m giving too much away by saying that all’s well that ends well. The ending is brilliantly tied up with something that happens in the original. I won’t tell you what, but it has to do with this!

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Well, I must finish, there’s some housework that won’t do itself, however, continuing the theme, ‘for every job that must be done, there is an element of fun, you find the fun, and, snap, the job’s a game!’

Goodbye Mary Poppins. Don’t stay away too long.