Sunday, 29 November 2009

Ever got...

...more than you bargained for? Today we were at the Museum of Welsh Life in St Fagans, near Cardiff, which is a lovely place full of old houses and shops, with some interesting exhibitions a good restaurant cafe for Sunday lunch and a coffee cafe for - well - coffee.

It also happens to be half way between us and the rest of the world and has the benefit of being free to enter (with £3 car parking fee). So we tend to stop off there on the way back from Devon and meet other relatives there too for a half-way meet up day out thing. Today it was the big swap of birthday and Christmas presents between us (Rosie's six on Wednesday), and Brian's sister Laura (who catches me up in age on Thursday), her chap JB and Bri's Ma.

It rained as usual and we walked around the houses from blazing fireplace to fireplace, stopping off to buy the fabulous bread from the bakery (that alone is worth the £3 parking fee). Then we found ourselves in the school room with me explaining to my mother-in-law that the cane was invented for naughty children like her. The volunteer, meanwhile, headed outside to look at the leaden skies.

"Mae'n bwrw glaw iawn*," I remarked in my best Welsh accent, without thinking.

"Blah blah blah blah blah," he said.

"Erm..." I replied (I only paid attention in Welsh classes to the lessons on the weather, food and shopping). I sidled away grinning like an idiot, pretending that the hood of my raincoat was so thick I couldn't hear him.

He followed me out of the door. "Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah," he said in a friendly Welsh way.

I grinned helplessly and sidled along the path wondering whether to make a run for it or stay and admit my ignorance and work out how the hell to say: "I'm sorry I don't actually speak much Welsh" in Welsh/English/Wenglish (and risk him thinking I had been taking the Micky).

I'm ashamed to say that I chose the former. I blush. Memo to self: Either brush up on one's Welsh or stick to bloody English. (Or make sure that one's bilingual children are in the vicinity to do the talking).

Meanwhile Brian was having a similar moment chatting up another of the locals. His charm had an immediate effect and she was soon declaring her undying love for him. But, heartbreaker (and married man) that he is, he immediately abandoned her. As he heartlessly walked away her cries of love became more and more desperate.

video

Okay, so she was a pig. Brian speaks pig better than I speak Welsh. Actually he speaks Welsh better than I speak Welsh (and English come to that). The pig, meanwhile, was noisily oinking her love for him across the open spaces of St Fagans.

Sometimes I wonder if we should be allowed out...

* It's raining good. (Pronounced: Mine boo roo glow.)

Saturday, 28 November 2009

NaNoWriMo

50,194

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Normal service will shortly be resumed...

Things are a little busy here at the moment. I'm NaNoWriMoing for a start and that is proving more difficult than in previous years as I'm working three days a week. Actually I'm beginning to resent work because it eats so much into the time I used to spend day dreaming and not doing very much. I miss that time.

This past week, for example. Last Saturday I dragged myself out for a 6.5 mile run, which turned out to be a big paddle through deep floods (18 inches at their deepest) and more of a battle with the elements than flinging along like a gazelle.

Sunday saw me on a long-planned shopping trip to Cardiff with friend Jo and NO CHILDREN. Utter bliss. We wandered relatively aimlessly looking at lots of stuff and the new John Lewis and we had oodles of noodles in Wagamamma for lunch. A perfect non-pressurised shopping day without the usual: Mummeeeee I'm bored can we go to the Disney shop NOW?

On Monday I worked while the girls were at school. At 3pm I pick them up and then somehow there is suddenly such a lot to be done. I wrote my NaNo daily word total whilst watching FlashForward in the evening.

Tuesday saw me off to Newport for a lovely coffee with ChrisH for a chat about running and writing and other such interesting stuff. That left the afternoon for actual writing, rather than talking about it.

Wednesday? Work again and other Stuff and more words for NaNo.

Thursday was Christmas and birthday shopping in Carmarthen. December is riddled with present opportunities. Brian had to go back to the car three times with the various bags of booty.

Friday was working again. How astonishingly fast these weeks fly.

Saturday was a combination of a splashy run along flooded roads again (even deeper than last week) and searching on the internet for reasons to convince Brian that changing the CR-V to an ancient Land Rover Discovery would be an excellent idea. I'm still working on that one!

Last night was NaNo catch-up night. Three hours of writing until the wee small hours while everyone else snored in bed. Now it's Sunday again, I have four loads of washing to deal with, a mountain of ironing and another day's worth of NaNo words. And now I must dash - I can hear my children neighing at the guinea pigs.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Catching up

October was such a busy month - actually the rest of the year is shaping up to pass by in a total blur - and I haven't had time to write all the blogs I've wanted to, so here's a bit of a catch up.

Half term wasn't all films - we were out and about too. One visit was to Anna Ryder Richardson's Manor House Wildlife Park near Tenby. We've been following the development of this place since a celeb moved in and eventually curiosity got the better of us and we went for a look. Star of the show was Lisa the Gibbon swinging effortlessly up into the very tips of the trees. We sort of 'got' what Anna R. R. is about having been - she's into conservation and keeping the animals as 'free' as possible. It's a nice place and well worth a visit.

We spent Halloween at the National Botanic Garden of Wales. I've lost count how many times we've been there this year. This time we found the tardis in the Great Glasshouse. The next Dr Who episode The Waters of Mars was filmed there and I - I mean the kids - can't wait to see it.

H7 and R5 found that their witches costumes blended in nicely with the autumnal colours in the garden.

We were very taken with this greenhouse made out of plastic bottles. It was really warm inside. I don't often drink anything out of a plastic bottle, though, so I can't see us making one.

Back at home H7 and R5 got ready to trick or treat Granny in the Annexe, who was suitably 'scared'.

Bonfire night was a bit of a wash out as H7 was poorly. We did have a firework or two in the garden the following night, but it was raining. Much more fun was a spot of brightdancing - two big glow sticks and a long shutter speed (10 seconds) on the camera.


Happy days!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

When will we ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
 
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
 
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
 
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
 
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?
 
by Pete Seeger

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Half term film festival


We had a half term film festival last week. The weather was iffy and, between Halloween themed dances and other things the occasional space popped up in which we could watch a film in its entirety rather than in bite-sized installments bounded by dinner and bedtime.

First on the menu was Mamma Mia - a riot of ABBA fun which we've watched hundreds of times already. H7 and R5 know it word by word and either watch it sing-a-long or song by song, again with the words on the screen. They dance and sing to it too - but adults are banned.

Next up was Monsters Inc on Blu-ray. We had it on DVD originally and it's always been a huge favourite. I didn't think Blu-ray would make a difference to this one, but again it surprised me. The bit where they are flying through the air on the doors is utterly brilliant. R5 still hides her eyes at the scary beginning too.

I thought Monsters was going to be our Halloween movie this year, but it was trumped by Snow White. I haven't seen it for ages but, again on Blu-ray in a special diamond edition, it proved me wrong. It has the best witch, complete with wart and cackle and a really spooky running-through- the-woods-rather-than-being-killed-by-the-hunter bit.

Snow White is 'the one that started it all' , hand-animated and - by today's standards - very low tech. Blu-ray brings this 1937 film bang up to date with clear sounds and sharp pictures and we all loved it. I bet you can remember all the songs: Whistle While You Work, Some Day My Prince Will Come... Ah, memories.

Blu-ray discs have masses of capacity compared to DVD and this one has the best game I've ever found. It's a jewellery catching game where you use the remote to move Grumpy's truck, catch gems and score points. I began with 160, H7 followed with zero and R5 got 80. Of course there were tears! H7 had another go and improved to 120. I managed a lack-lustre 120 and R5 topped the whole thing off by scoring 1,320. More tears and tantrums (but only from me).

The last film of the week was Up in 3D at Theatr Mwldan. It was Disney-Pixar at its very best. The hero is an old man called Karl who is widowed and ends up in court on an assault charge. It doesn't sound a promising start does it! But Karl attaches balloons to his house and floats it off to Venezuela. A stowaway is adventure scout Russel and when they land they encounter a colourful bird called Kevin and a dog called Doug who can talk via his collar. (Squirrel!) We cried and we laughed and, of course, there's a happy ending.

And the best thing of all? A trailer for Toy Story 3! It was, when buying Toy Story 2, I thought that I really should have children of my own to give me some excuse for this love of Disney and my massive collection of videos, so I did (eventually). I can't wait to see Toy Story 3 (out 2010) with them.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

NaNoWriMo

Well it's started again. Another November, another month of novel-writing. This will be my third, hopefully I'll finish again and maybe, one day, I'll write something good!

So far I've written 1,779 words - you have to write at least 1,667 words every day to get to 50,000 by November 30th. It's a good start considering that until I actually sat down at my lovely new laptop and started typing, I had no idea what I was going to write. One of that characters from last time came to my rescue. (If in doubt, write what you know.)

Where does it go from here? Who knows! How will it end? I dunno that either! It's a bit like running really. A half marathon is one step followed by another and then another and you just keep doing that until you get to the end. When you start you don't know what is going to happen in the middle, at mile 10 or at the end.

NaNoWriMo is just that: One word, followed by another and then another, until the end.