Monday, May 26, 2008

Rainy Weekend

The hubby has been working in London all weekend - blech. James and I had a fun Saturday - the weather was glorious and we went to the Little Orchard Railway, which John had found on the web. So cute. It's a random model railway built in the guy's back yard. Train geeks are lunatics, truly.

I'd missed bell ringing on Friday night - the logistics of picking up the boys from their various places and feeding them etc was too much for me. I took James with me on Sunday morning, and figured that he'd be fine to sit and play his Nintendo DS while I rang. Every time I looked over at him, he was watching the ringing and ignoring his DS. Here he is, chiming the bell at the end. He said that he really liked it and he wants to learn to ring. He's a little small to start on the Stowmarket bells, but he'll be fine in a year or two. Another one, hooked!

Since the weather yesterday and today has been so completely appalling, we went to see the new Indiana Jones yesterday. It was insanely campy but very entertaining. It was the perfect rainy-afternoon popcorn movie. As I was on my own on Saturday night, James and I went to Blockbuster in the afternoon. I rented Enchanted, which several people had recommended but I hadn't gotten around to watching. I loved it - it was a really clever combo of Disney send-up/Disney love letter/New York love letter movie. Fab.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Back to Reality

My Mom left on Wednesday morning to go back to NY, and things returned to normal around here. I think it's partly because hubby has been working crazy hours this week, but the house feels completely empty and really lonely. Every time I look at something, I think, "Oh, Mom and I [fill in the blank]..that was great!" I watered our plants out in the back yard and had another pang of missing her. It's weird - I'm HOME but I'm definitely more homesick than I've been in ages (and more homesick than I've been after going back to NY). I think it's because we spent the 5 days just hanging out and having a blast, which we never get to do when I'm in NY - I'm always running from place to place.

I'll take some pictures of the garden this weekend - I really want to have some good before-and-after shots for when the plants get a bit bigger.

Oh, and this article about blogging and oversharing in the New York Times was fascinating. I've always been an oversharer, and I guess this is just another place to do it. I don't have hundreds of readers, though...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mom's here!

This has been a busy week! We went to Birmingham on Thursday to get my Indefinite Leave To Remain for the UK. I'm now officially allowed to come and go as I please, stay as long as I want, and even go on welfare. Woohoo! There were a lot of steps (tests, other visas, PILES of paperwork, and we're £950 lighter), but it's such a relief to be here and have the happy little piece of paper in my passport that says 'indefinite leave to remain'.

Then, Friday morning, my mom arrived for a 5-day whirlwind trip. We've been having a fantastic time - lots of gardening and touristing and eating curries and cream teas and fish & chips and pub food.

The original purpose of the trip was to come to the Bury Bach Choir's concert on Saturday night - we performed the Verdi Requiem to a packed house in the Bury Cathedral (over 700 people - we sold out!). The concert was the best we've done - I was so glad that both mom and John were there.

Here's Aldeburgh, where we went yesterday.

On the way home, we went to Helmingham Hall again - we loved the gardens so much we had to show them to Mom. She's a fan now, too. I loved these dwarf irises - so pretty.

She's here for two more days - I think we're going to go on a countryside guided walk today and do some more planting in the garden. We've mentally redesigned our garden about 400 times - we're having so much fun with it. It'll eventually settle (and we'll actually purchase the plants and put them in)!

This drop of water was caught in the leaves at the garden center we found nearby. The plants all looked really healthy and they were so much cheaper than the chain stores. Granted, the place is pretty well hidden away, but we'll be going back for more!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Gardens & more gardens

We've had a very outdoorsy weekend - Saturday morning we dug out some grass from the borders of the garden and around the compost bin and completely wore ourselves out by midday! The tomatoes and courgettes are quite happy to be in dirt as opposed to the too-hot greenhouse.

John got called into work yesterday afternoon, so James and I had a rip-roaring game of Risk. He won, in about 2 hours. I was pretty impressed - all of a sudden he had Europe and Africa and I had a tenuous grip on Australia, South America, and part of North America. Hmm.

Here's my lone soldier on an entirely gray (with some auxiliary blue because he ran out of gray men) board.

We then went to Earl Stonham for our first lawn-bowling lesson with some bell friends of mine. It was really fun and I could see all three of us getting addicted to it. I took some pictures of James but they're on my phone and refuse to make their way to the computer. Bah.

Today we finished off the gardening, had the in-laws for lunch, and then made our way to the open garden day at Helmingham Hall, which John found on the web somewhere. It was about half an hour away but seemed like it was on a different planet. The gardens were spectacular.

I loved this tennis court - it was surrounded by a meadow and had these great trellises around the netting supports. Exactly as I will have it if I ever own a stately home!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Review: The Art Thief

I went to college with Noah Charney, the author of The Art Thief. I met him when I was a freshman and he was a sophomore. He lived in the Coburn 6-man with 4 other people (2 of whom are now married and just had a baby). I ended up living in the same suite (although not the same room) the following year. We had a lot of mutual friends, and I used to hang out in his room and we'd do our homework together, sitting on his bed & listening to music. He still has my blue fleece blanket, btw.

We kind of lost touch after my freshman year (he went abroad to London when he was a junior and then when he came back his senior year I was in Paris for the first semester). A few months ago I noticed this article in the NYT magazine. Then I read about him again in the Colby magazine. Apparently he's 'invented' the field of scholarly study to solve art theft, and is now the world's foremost authority. He's also written a novel. I wasn't sure what I'd think of it - the reviews on Amazon were...erm...crap.

The writing style is exceedingly verbose - if it weren't by someone I know I don't think I'd have read past the first few pages. Why use one adjective when 6 will do? I kept reading bits out to John, prefaced by "Oh my God, you won't believe THIS sentence!"

Overall, though, much as a part of me wanted to, I didn't hate it. Despite all the adjectives and the somewhat hackneyed writing, the twist at the end was kinda clever and I may even admit to having enjoyed it. I feel like a bit of a numpty for not spotting the twist earlier, but still.

Oh, and if you check his bio on, it mentions his punk band, The Jump Into. I have their debut (and only) CD, bought from the bass player (who I dated in college, another claim to fame...) It kind of sucks, but what can you do?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Loooong weekend

We've had a long weekend and it's been super-relaxing. It's been warm and sunny, and we even fired up the grill!

Saturday, we went to Bury in the morning and picked up some foam seat cushion forms for our new garden chairs (thanks Mom & Dad!). The woman at the market stall was funny - she'd obviously seen what she thought was 'my type' before.

"Now, luv, if you run in to any trouble or need any help, just bring the foam and your fabric back next weekend and we'll make up the cushions for you."

Not THIS crafter. I spread out the fabric, used the foam inserts (that had already been cut to size) as my patterns, and off I went. AND I put zippers in. Granted, the zippers aren't going to win any prizes, but I think the cushions look really good. They also make our pre-existing hand-me-down garden chairs look like they're part of the v. posh new set.

Here they are, in action, this afternoon (with the two spare cushions on the table). I'm going to make a tablecloth and some napkins with the rest of the fabric, and perhaps a shirt for John if there's any leftover. :)

Sunday we went to Rougham Airfield for the Large Model Aircraft show. They were incredible - they are remote-control aircraft that seem to be oblivious to the laws of physics.

This wasn't a crash landing - it had skidded to a halt and then just...tipped...over.

We stopped on the way back at a nursery near Thurston, where we bought some plants for our hanging basket. Here they are, in situ.
Today was v.chill - I put together the rest of the paperwork for my next visa application and then sat in the garden and read my book. Civilized.

And one more's our zucchini, in flower:

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Verdi Birdie

At work yesterday, we were having a meeting when suddenly this little guy wanted to join us. He couldn't really see us, since the windows are kind of mirrored on the outside, so he was quite happily hopping around and looking at us. The picture's kind of crap, since I took it through the window and there was stuff in the way.

We decided he needed a name. As he's a green finch, it had to be Verdi!