Sunday, November 30, 2014

And that's a wrap!

It is hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. - Kurt Vonnegut 

OMGYOUGUYS. MYBLOWRIMO IS FINISHED. I have written every day during the month of November. How about that. I feel like a mother effing CHAMP. It has been fantastic, fulfilling, and exhausting in equal measure, and I can say one thing for sure on the other side: I’m really glad I did it. Sheer desperation on some days caused me to expand in new directions and while some of them were total cheats, some of them were also okay. Now I feel like I can keep this space free from personal expectation and just be IN it, like a weird little room, part gentlemen’s-lounge, part Japanese-cat-cafe, part padded-cell. WELCOME TO MY WORLD.

If you've been reading all month, then ICANTTHANKYOUENOUGH. If you did, you have to leave me a comment below and I will show my appreciation by sending you a personalised doodle. And NO, you don't have a choice, and YES, it may be dirty.

I'll see you next time I come into my little space, and hope you're here with me!

Big hugs and lots of love,

Saturday, November 29, 2014

On Black Friday, Buenos Aires, and Christmas Decorations

I believe in poetry as a way of surviving the emotional chaos, spiritual confusions, and traumatic events that come with being alive. - Gregory Orr 

OMGYOUGUYS. Can we unpack the loaded gun that is Black Friday for a second? I was seeing post after post about the vileness of it yesterday and - since I was scrolling at a pace -  just assumed they were all coming from US friends, because I don't know ANYbody back home who likes the practice, and I've been seeing articles and discourses on the issue for years.

Then I looked more closely. These posts were coming from the UK. You can't even tell I capitalised that, but I did. THE UK. Talk about embarrassing. I mean, I get (while still being disappointed) why it exists in America - everyone has Friday off because of Thanksgiving, and shopping and movies seem to go hand-in-hand - but in Great Britain? Why? It's just a FRIDAY. In the middle of NOWHERE. And now there are viral videos and ugly posts on the topic and everyone is mentally stabbing America because Obviously We Are the Root of All Evil and the whole thing has distressed me to the point that I need poetry to express how I feel. So here is my Black Friday Haiku*:

Black Friday madness
Now USA look like jerks
I need more turkey

Ah. Feeling better now. Kyle's right, poetry IS therapeutic.

On a happier note, today is the day I'm putting up the Christmas decorations! I always do this the day after Thanksgiving, ever since I went shopping with Emma Watson. This year's decorations are MEGA. Check out everything I'm putting up: 

This is gonna take me all day. 

I'm doing an abridged version of Christmas this year for the main reason that we won't actually BE here for much of December, so why lug all the boxes down from the attic for only two short weeks of joyeux noel? That is just SAD. Also, a lot of work, and I'm lazy. But get this: we're going to Argentina! WHAM. Sit back. 

I've been meaning to post on this for a while, but it never quite fit so now I'm just gonna shoehorn it in. We're going to Argentina! For a little over two weeks in December.** Does anyone have any recommendations? Places to eat, drink, shop, stay? We're going to be hitting Buenos Aires, Salta and Cafayate, and Iguazu Falls. Buenos Aires itself is pretty covered since we're staying with our friends Vik and Pablo, The CoolestCouple. in Argentina (RIGHT NOW: check out their awesome business), but the rest we're pretty much going in blind and under-researched so YAY! How ideal is that. TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW.

Okay, I really should go do some research. Also, take my weekly shower. Also, put up all those decorations. What a day this is turning out to be! Happy Saturday to you all!

Big hugs and lots of love,

*You're lucky it wasn't a limerick.
**Don't rob us. We've totally hired a guard dog who knows how to feed himself and use a gun. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

On friends, pies, and all over London

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. - Emerson

OMGYOUGUYS. I had big plans for the blog today. It was going to be my Thanksgiving Day Special. I was gonna post sexy sexy food photos and all sorts of heart-warming feel-goodery and basically just be THANKSGIVING WHAT!, but at the rate I'm going, we won't be eating until ten so this will just not happen. 

So let's talk about other things that have made me thankful this week! That will be totally close to London-food-photography and crackling fireplaces in an evocative, thought-provoking romantic-holiday-abroad post.

First thing that made me happy this week: running into good friends randomly, turning a Big City into a Small One. This happened yesterday, when I was running around looking for pie and en route stopped at a pub to drop something off. And I kid you not, it doesn't matter how on-the-go you think you are: when you see these faces, your day is derailed in an instant:
I mean, HONESTLY. Just LOOK at them. 

On the left is Pip's dad who was in town visiting and the reason they were out in the middle of the day. He speaks approximately 9.75 languages, which explains so much about Pip. Next we have Rich, who can not only (successfully) do ANY accent, but also communicates with such physical theatrics that he's got to be one of the best story-tellers on the planet, seriously missing a career on stage and screen. Then we have Pip herself: brainiac, cook, humorist, and creative, who has now written four novels, the latest in only two short weeks. And these are my FRIENDS. How is THAT for Thanksgiving.

The second thing I'm thankful for: crazy wonderful London. Look at this sign I ran across while continuing my pie hunt after Pip-n-Rich Fun Times: a local pub celebrating Thanksgiving by being thankful for . . . American things?
I know this list makes ME proud.
Also, the question mark after the NFL. Well played, sir.

And last but not least: I FOUND AN APPLE PIE. It was super gourmet, but totally worth the splurge:
Hey, look! Food photography! And I thought it wouldn't happen. 

Oooh! Timers! It's Go Time! I hope you have all had an equally lovely week so far, and talk to you tomorrow!

Big hugs and lots of love,

Thursday, November 27, 2014

It's Thanksgiving!

My wealth is not possession but enjoyment.  - Henry David Thoreau

OMGYOUGUYS. HAPPY THANKSGIVING! I love Thanksgiving too much. All the food, all the warmth, all the gratitude consciousness . . . it is a wonderful thing.  I won't be celebrating until tomorrow, but let me tell you, when Roast Death Chicken goes in and that veg is prepped, there will a celeBRATion. I may even turn on Netflix Fireplace episode 2. That's how effing atmospheric it's going to get.

I hope you all enjoy your day with family and friends and eat turkey until your pants pop and you go into a food coma and get to doze on the couch with football on in the background and it's all full of fuzzy warmth and later when you're eating leftover-turkey-and-cranberry-sauce-sandwiches there are games at the table and so much pie that-- OMG I FORGOT THE PIE. Gotta go.

Big hugs and lots of love,

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Get the Smell of Christmas in Your Home!

Youguys, like, how common is food poisoning REALLY? I mean, let's say hypothetically I came downstairs this morning and found that my fridge door had been hanging open all night - that little sliver of orange light in the darkness - do you think it's probably still okay to drink this milk I've got in front of me? And the bird I got to roast for Thanksgiving: it won't kill me, will it, from a few hours at room temperature? I ask because IF THIS HYPOTHETICALLY HAD HAPPENED, I'm totally planning on pretending it didn't because I DON'T WANT TO BUY A NEW BIRD. *chugging milk, furtively shutting door*


Speaking of the holiday season, my mother-in-law Betty gave me the following household tip when I was in Scotland last weekend. Apparently all I have to do is simmer the below on the stove 'to get the smell of Christmas' in my home. Sounds to me like Betty wants me to make mulled wine:
If I must, Betty. If I must.

Sidebar: I once threw a Robbie Burns party and simmered some cinnamon sticks in a pot of water on the stove to make the flat smell good and everybody who came into the house thought I was cooking and oohed and ahhed and I was like, 'Oh, yeah, been slaving all day. Cinnamon stick?'

I should really throw more parties.

And last but not least: I'm in the home stretch with my manuscript! 
Big hugs and lots of love,

*What better thing to be thankful for than a healthy bout of food poisoning to lose those holiday pounds! 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Plastic kills, Mom.

Youguys, This Is The Day. The day I prove what proofreading stuff I'm made of. The day I am going to read for twelve straight hours and YEAH, I JUST GOT PRESCRIBED GLASSES, WHAT'S YOUR POINT.

I am going to leave you with Happy Tidbits today in lieu of a proper post. I hope this is cool. If not, GET YOUR OWN BLOG.

Tidbit One, a snippet of a greater story: my sister has blogged about the differences in my nieces, and while the post in its entirety is great, those differences can really be summed up with this single interaction:
The Younger One: [trying to eat a candy cane without taking off the wrapper]
The Older One, alerting my sister: Plastic kills, Mom.

Tidbit Two: Hedgehogs Muffins:


Tidbit Three, from my favourite tumblr. Captions theirs:



The internet wins again! Now if you'll excuse me, I've got brain cells to fry.

Big hugs and lots of love,

Monday, November 24, 2014

A word after a word after a word is power. - Margaret Atwood

I think it's safe to say Margaret Atwood has never read my blog.

Youguys, it is officially Deadline Week. My last manuscript is due at the end of this week and because of the wonderful wedding-weekend I just had, I am approximately two days behind schedule. This means I have to make the next three days look like five days. Luckily I can bend space and time so this shouldn't be a problem, but here's what will not be happening this week as a result:

Huffpo'ing, buzzfeeding, funny-or-dying, or jezebelling.
Making homemade hot sauce with the millions of chilis from my recently-deceased chili plants.
Getting dressed.
Acting anything like a normal human.

You may notice blogging is not on this list. Because darnit, this is MYBLOWRIMO and I am going to finish what I started. Though I'm not saying it's gonna be good, or that we're going to be wrapping it up on a high note.

Hey, look! A picture!

When in doubt, throw in a picture of a cathedral. People will think you're classy.

Okay, it is officially Go Time. Wish me luck!

Big hugs and lots of love,

Sunday, November 23, 2014

On weddings, boathouses, and yet more graveyards

A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved. - Kurt Vonnegut

HOLYCOWYOUGUYS. Can we talk about yesterday's wedding for a minute? Only a minute. I can't imagine this would be interesting to anybody who wasn't there.*

First, the bride:
RIGHT! Meet Anne: famous for ball-busting, straight-talking, and having legs a mile long. Ugh.

Second, the weather. Scotland in the autumn is riDICulous:
It's honestly enough to turn your stomach.

Third, Glasgow Cathedral:
For the best Gothic ceremony a marriage can buy. Goats optional.

This morning we took a walk to the Loch Lomond boathouse because the air was crisp and clear and also we gained twenty pounds after eating for five hours straight last night and also they had a little restaurant serving coffee and also, how could you resist this?:
Motto: Making People Punch Themselves in the Face Since 1968.

It turns out half the London crew had the same idea. It's like we're all friends for a reason. Behold, the Ladies of Sporting Hackney**:
 This isn't all of them, of course. The others were no doubt in more sensible places, like bed. This is Maria the Intellect, Marie the Edge, and Louise the Style. Just wait until you meet the Comedy, the Party, and the Class***.

It's how we roll.

After we got back to Barrhead, we took a walk to visit Alan's aunt and uncle and had to pass a graveyard to get there and I kid you not:
THIS ROLLED RIGHT IN. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. It's like they know I know. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find a cross made of garlic. Our trip back to London isn't going to protect itself. 

Big hugs and lots of love,

*I say this only because I would totally tune out anybody who wanted to tell me a wedding story. Please. Start with the traffic you encountered on the way there. I've got all day.

**Sporting Hackney: the London football team that binds our group like so much spilled whisky on a parquet dance floor.  

***This is you, Rachael. Once you're in, you can never get out.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously. - Peter Ustinov

Do you guys know the number one google search that directs people to my blog? It's the source of a TON of traffic. An ALARMING ton, because it's - are you ready for this? - ZOO PORN. I KNOW. I don't even know WHAT* those people are hoping to find, but imagine how disappointed they must be when they arrive on this post and there's only, like, some post-coital zebras smoking cigarettes.

In other news, look what we found sitting on the bed when we landed at Frank and Betty's yesterday: these cookbooks from Alan's sister Marie! They're a housewarming gift for the French house because MARIE KNOWS.** They fill me with warm fuzzies because it is exactly these sorts of additions that will turn it from a nice getaway into a real home-away-from-home. Check this out:

Do you love Floyd as much as I do? I'm already glad I have this, because I never knew one should do their cooking in a tux in France and I could have really embarrassed myself. 

Okay, off we go! A wedding in three hours and this bathrobe is going to look ridiculous if I don't at least add a flower.

Big hugs and lots of love,

*I mean, I can guess, but I DON'T WANT TO.
**The best places for heart-stabbing.

Friday, November 21, 2014

On Glasgow, an impending wedding, and a lazy Friday night

Y'all. I am so sleepy right now. This is why I should only blog at six in the morning; anytime after two and I am as functional as a roly-poly under the prodding finger of a six year old.

Guess what! We're in Glasgow right now. We came up for a wedding, with the added bonus of catching family. It promises to be a beautiful affair: Glasgow Cathedral followed by Cameron House on Loch Lomond. It also promises to be wicked fun: the groom's bringing the Irish, the bride's bringing the Scottish, and the London crowd's bringing the crazy. I'm gonna take loads of photos. (Or none. It's tough to say. Don't PRESSURE me, Sharona!)

Speaking of, here are some pictures from Glasgow today!

We met Alan's favourite* brother Ken and his wife Maureen for lunch! They are lovely company because - as Alan put it just this morning - when you're with them, they're present

I'm currently blogging from the living room and Alan just turned on Ocean's 11 and I forgot how good it was and right now I'm pretending like I can multi-task but it's obviously not true because I haven't typed in five minutes. This is clearly the end of today's activity.

I hope you're having a great weekend!

Big hugs and lots of love,

*Alan has three brothers, so this should stir things up. Cheers!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

If Water is the Essence of Moisture, then Will is the Essence of Time

I mean, time for me, I can make it go slow or fast, however I please, and that’s how I know it doesn’t exist. - Willow Smith

Willow has totally got a point, youguys. Like right now, I'm going to post photos from an adventure that happened TWO WEEKS AGO, but I'm going to act like it was THIS week for the sake of relevancy, and that's how I know time doesn't exist. 

So, recently* a girlfriend and I were trying to make plans to catch up because we hadn't seen each other since her birthday many moons ago and a reunion was long overdue. We were debating the merits of visiting a haunted pub when she had the idea for bingo. BINGOYOUGUYS. BINGO. Obviously, I was immediately on board. Then she sent me the following information. JUST WHEN I THOUGHT IT COULDN'T GET BETTER:
    "[It's] at the oh so multi-cultural and slightly edgy Elephant & Castle shopping centre. It will be full of African women sucking their teeth, Polish people eating cabbage and Colombians tapping their feet to salsa tunes. I went for a recce the other day and it is a fantastically parallel universe of London. Do you like the sound of it?"

This is outside the shopping centre:

World's Most Literal Design Interpretation of Elephant & Castle. The artist they commissioned just nailed it.

This is where we ate the promised Polish food:

I know, right! You totally thought it was going to be full of plastic tables and florescent lighting. Instead it's full of HIPSTERS. It has been discovered. In the grimmest shopping centre that London has to offer, after-hours when everything is shuttered down and you think surely if you stick around, they'll find your body in one of those urns in the morning, there's this place, a beacon of light and hope and good smells. It was so so tasty. Sidebar: Polish food has got to be the most unphotogenic food ever. I tried taking a photo of the pancakes covered with gravy and I don't even want to talk about how it looked. Also, all the food is the colour of nothing, the colour of soviet-tenement-beige. And it doesn't even MATTER because HOLY PIEROGIES, BATMAN. GET IN ME. 

This is us before we went in to play, holding our new member forms so they would let us in. We are now** official members of the Palace Games Club! 

Don't be jealous of our coolness. I know it's intimidating.

Now to get down to the meat of things: THE BINGO. First off, can I tell you how difficult it was to take any pictures? They do NOT want that, people. Anytime I'd even REMOTELY hold my phone up, I'd instantly get tackled by a host of staff members: 'what was that?' 'what'd you do?' 'did you take a photo?' 'let me see the photo you took,' 'delete the photo you took,' 'oh, you didn't take a photo? okay.' Absolute denial (even while clearly holding a camera) generally satisfied them, at which point they'd smooth down each other's ruffled feathers and get back to wandering listlessly around. 

This was so worth the battle.

EVERYwhere you'd see these little slips crammed into the machines. TO SAVE THEM. 

I pulled one out (right before getting tackled again) and IT'S A REAL SAVE SLIP. It's not a bunch of old ladies cramming wads of tissue in there. 

Needless to say, I got no photos of the actual bingo room (the vultures!) but I DID manage to sneak a recording of the guy doing the number call. Can you believe that VOICE? So hypnotic. So very, very unbelievably hypnotic.***

I want to go to bed every night listening to this guy read numbers.

Needless to say, we'll totally be returning. Especially now that we're *cough* members. It's only a matter of time until we win big now that we've got all these slips.

I leave you with this original Bingo Haiku, created with real British Bingo Lingo:

Lucky musty hive
And Grandma's getting fisty
Oh Dirty Gertie

The first person to tell me in the comments the numbers I've just called is totally getting a prize.****

Big hugs and lots of love,

*A month ago, three weeks ago, yesterday - who can say? So is the nature of time.

**Or not now. Again, time. Also, the guy who took our cards said his 'machine was down' - I'm sure he meant computer and wasn't making this up at all - therefore he couldn't process our membership forms at that moment, but he would TOTALLY get to it. I'm sure my card will arrive in the mail any day now.

***This is the sound of time disappearing.

****I'm not saying it's a good prize. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

On midnight visitors and the path not taken

There are things which must cause you to lose your reason or you have none to lose. - Gotthold Lessing

OMGYOUGUYS. So the Mike Fletcher Trio was great. There was high hat action all over the place - we're talking brushes, paradiddles, the WORKS - which nearly pushed Alan over the scatting edge. It was a great way to end our foray in the London Jazz Festival. (Yes, we ended our week's foray on Tuesday. What do we look like, animals?) OOOH! And I got an autographed CD! A pre-release of their January album, so this is special special stuff.* Also, do you know how hard it is to track down three jazz musicians to get their signatures? It is like herding CATS. (See what I did there?) *slapping table in satisfaction*

That moment when you discover something sticky on your keyboard and spend ten minutes scrubbing it off with your juicer's toothbrush.

So the doorbell rang at 2:30 this morning. Our buzzer's tone is a little swing tune which always makes me boogie when I hear it, but that's in the middle of the day at normal o'clock. In the middle of the night WHO IS PLAYING MUSIC! I actually thought it was my alarm clock at first and started groping around my nightstand because PLEASE DEAR GOD SNOOZE SNOOZE SNOOZE WHERE ARE YOU PHONE BE QUIET.

Then it buzzes again. Now the sound cuts through my brain fog and I hear it for what it is. THE MOTHER EFFING DOORBELL. As I throw the covers off, I grab my phone to check it. We've told friends in the past that if they ever get stranded in London and it's too late for them to travel home, they're welcome to our guest room (we live pretty central-ish), but that offer hasn't really been taken up in a while what with all of us getting older and more responsible. However, there are no messages on my phone, no requests to crash over, no 'I'm downstairs' texts. This is clearly not one of ours.

I am prepared to head down the stairs and give someone a new reason to live (namely, a brush with death) when Alan rouses and decides to get all Glaswegian on the matter. I don't know if Glaswegian Ferocity is a well-known thing Stateside, but here, It Is Known. Glaswegians are the heavy-handed mafioso dockworkers of Old World New York. Glaswegians are the scarred boxers of South Africa. Glaswegians are NOT someone anyone wants to mess with. When Alan turns on his Glaswegian, it's a total Hulk moment and you're all Where'd-Mark-Ruffalo-Go and I'm-Not-Replacing-That-Shirt and then I'm-Just-Gonna-Scoot-Over-Here. Nobody wants to be caught in those crosshairs. [Separate but related note: if Alan is woken abruptly - in any situation, by anyone, anytime - he wakes in Full Weegie** and you will get five seconds of bluster before he figures out what's happening. It is funny. Don't do it.]

Now, cue Alan, at 2:30 in the morning, hanging out of our third-floor bedroom window:

Alan: HEY!
Guy on Sidewalk: [probably already walking away, which is clearly unacceptable.]
Alan: HEY!
Guy: Oh, hey! Sorry! I'm looking for Christina!
Alan, in Glaswegian: WHAT, MAN! WHAT!
[Note: I can hear the guy no problem. He is looking for Christina.]
Guy: Christina! So sorry! Christina used to live here. Is Christina still here?
Me, deciding to translate, lest this continue all night: Alan! Tell him Christina doesn't live here!
Guy: Okay! So sorry!

Alan promptly passed out again while I laughed a little inside: that guy got the wrong house on so many levels. Also, no way Alan was awake for any of that.

Speaking of getting it wrong: last night CityMapper wanted me to get to the jazz show by WALKING THROUGH THIS GRAVEYARD:

That's a HELL no, CityMapper. Like I don't want to keep my soul.

It turned out to be irrelevant anyway, though, because the gates were chained up. It turns out they lock them every night at dark. Alan says it's to keep trouble out, but I think we all know better.

Right now I have a haggis defrosting in the kitchen sink and it's bobbing around in the hot water like it's looking for a boat to play with and won't rest until it finds one. Simmer DOWN, haggis!

Well. It's safe to say I think this is me done for the day. 

Big hugs and lots of love,

*I'm pretty much they'll sell it to anybody who wants it.

**This is a (usually) affectionate term for someone who comes from Glasgow. I think it is used to make them seem more cuddly. LIKE WE DON'T KNOW BETTER.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

And we're going back for seconds!

I have always been of the opinion that consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. - Oscar Wilde

If we take Oscar Wilde's quote to heart, then OMGYOUGUYS those jazz musicians last night must be the most imaginative people on the PLANET. The opening duo played what I like to call 'Cacophony Jazz.' Cacophony Jazz is best defined by its tones of 'Screaming Cat' and 'Dying Chicken,' accompanied by 'Wailing Kangaroo.' By the end of their half hour of screeching, our group was green around the gills. I struggled with my own fight-or-flight-response to curl up under the table and fall asleep.*

Before I go any farther, I should describe our foursome in attendance: we had Alan, who - when he thinks he is going to hear jazz - makes this sound that I WOULD call scatting, except it's nothing but high hat. Then there's Peter - who I met when I worked for Abi - a guy who terrifically wears his scarf as though it is the last scarf on earth and decorates with wild abandon, and his partner, the Brazilian Roberto, who would seem to be the most-equipped for this scene if it weren't for the fact that he's so gentle he makes lambs look like violent predators. We've all become friends because they also have a place in France, relatively near ours, and the four of us can get together and fling our scarves around and throw our noses into the air while discussing the apPALling state of the French antiques market**. They are also the ones who introduced us to our Kiwi builder and his French wife***. So we love them. But, needless to say, we are not the audience for this concert. We are Philistines.

We've only just recovered from the opening set when the main act takes the stage. The venue is now full, standing-room only. Here comes my drummer. I'm feeling good. IT'S HIM IT'S HIM. We're digging in. *rubbing hands together, shifting weight in hard wooden chair, leaning forward* Then a homeless guy comes out and sits at the piano. Followed by a janitor who grabs the cello. The three of them are fantastically indifferent to their own performance - in fact, they may not have even noticed there was an audience: the homeless guy clearly rolled out of bed and shrugged, 'smells clean enough' before rubbing his beard into disarray and stumbling out into the harsh light of day, the janitor looked for all the world like someone you'd spill your guts to over a pint of cask ale in the city, and Our Drummer is wearing a stripey shirt with all sorts of white and blue and red like the world's sweetest patriot. They are totally unlike the Cacophony Duo, who were both dressed head-to-toe in black and played in the dark.

Now youguys, I'm not gonna lie: I wouldn't buy this recording. I wouldn't even seek it out on Spotify. It was madcap chaos - part Cacophony Jazz, part WHOAOAOAOAOAO Jazz. But I will say this: these guys were INSANE PLAYERS. The homeless guy - we found out later out he's Italian, which made all the sense in the world - was so into his piano that he literally CLIMBED INTO his piano. He played the strings as much as the keys. The cellist - middle-aged, wearing a rooster tee shirt - looked like he was trying to kill his instrument. He played the top, the bottom, the underside of the strings; he made it scream with his bow before hammering it with his fists. I have never seen hands move as fast as his did, and I've been pickpocketed in Madrid. And then of course Tatsu (I feel we're close enough I can call him that) played the drums, in the sense that he took a whole bunch of stuff and threw it, rubbed it, and scraped it across them, producing sounds that were wonderfully, wildly unnatural.

It was awesome. To watch. It will take days for my brain to quit bleeding.

In other news: we've got another show tonight! This one is the Mike Fletcher Trio at the Barbican. I hope - at least for Alan's sake - there's some high hat action.

Big hugs and lots of love,

*My body likes to deal with extreme stress by passing out, which makes me wicked vicious in a fight.

**We know nothing about the state of the French antiques market.

***Natalie and I can only communicate in pantomimes and charades, but she has got a face so expressive that she could tell the story of the Odyssey and not leave a detail out. We have no problems conversing.

Monday, November 17, 2014

On jazz, sushi, and glitter galore

OMGYOUGUYS. We are going to keep it snappy today because I have to leave in T-minus-30 minutes for JAZZ FESTIVAL FUN TIMES! This is the night that Tatsuhisa Yamamoto is playing at Cafe Oto and I am so excited I can barely contain myself. What on earth will I wear. WHAT ON EARTH.

And for our pre-show dinner - hold on to your seats! - we're going to try that New Hawaiian place in Dalston. I KNOW! HAWAIIAN FOOD AND THEN JAZZ. JAPANESE JAZZ. I think we all see where this is going.*

This is not where we are going.** This is Carnaby Street and their Christmas decorations, because OF COURSE headphones and sunglasses. Do you remember the year Carnaby did the Holiday Solar System? I want to shake the hands of their design team; they are just getting better and better.

I hope you have a wonderful Monday night! 

Big hugs and lots of love,

*Putting on my Murakami hat, prepping novel
**Although it does seem strangely fitting.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

On houseguests, butter, and family love

Conversation with our weekend's houseguest*:

Wing: My mum didn't believe that I wasn't coming here empty-handed.
Me: What do you mean?
Wing: She asked, 'Are you sure you are bringing them something??' I said, 'Yes! I have chocolates!' and she said, 'Take them this.'
Me: Butter? Your mom sent me butter?
Wing: Um. No. Open it!
YOUGUYS IT'S LIKE CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY. Her mom made almond cookies!! And while technically the container says, 'I can't believe it's not butter,' I wholly believe there is nothing in these cookies BUT butter. They are like heaven. Alan and I have eaten nearly all of them, which just goes to show you why I don't keep sweet things in the house. WING, YOU WICKED THING. 

Here is another Wing Highlight for you, which will tell you everything you need to know about why we're friends: we spent our Saturday morning piled up in bed like puppies, clutching our coffees, watching Gilmore Girls together on the laptop. It turns out Wing is a crazy fan, too! (Of Gilmore Girls. AND coffee.) It turns out when she was writing her thesis at Oxford, GG was her afternoon break. Isn't that lovely? A and I didn't go to Oxford but I like to think our experience of GG is very similar. 

And last but not least, on this dark, wet Sunday, while the smell of Alan's slow-cooker chilli scents the lamp-lit air and the dishwasher hums and a manuscript awaits, a trip down SF-Memory Lane courtesy of one of my favourite photo-takers


Big hugs and lots of love,

*I just realised, looking at the date on that post, that this weekend was basically OUR THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, WING! I will totally have a present** for you next time I see you!

**It may or may not be an empty butter container. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

CARROTS, right?

"It smells like a wet snowsuit. It's that kind of weird musty . . . then it's like, 'Let me make that a part of me.'" - Leslie Goshko, on eating celery

Okay, so for some reason blogger won't embed this video (I had this problem with a Funny or Die clip last week - does anybody know what I could be doing wrong?) but youguys have to watch this hilarious 'Americans Try Vegetables for the First Time' video. It will make you race straight over to Whole Foods.

Also, if it's wrong to be falling asleep at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night, then I don't want to be right. I've got a book and a phone full of funny funny tumblrs, which are my two favourite ways to unwind in an evening. Between this and my tylenol p.m., I just don't know if it gets better.

I love youguys, I hope your weekend is going well!

Lots of hugs,

Friday, November 14, 2014

One more Chester pic and I swear I'm done

Sure I'm not funny anymore, but there's more to life than making shallow, fairly obvious observations. - Seinfeld

OMGYOUGUYS. It is Friday. Friday came. I know we were all a bit worried about that possibility on Monday, but THE EARTH KEPT ROTATING. And now we're all winners.

Hey! My veg peeler is still missing. Just in case you wondered. My mom says it's probably buried in a pile of peels which I could TOTALLY see happening, but this means that it would now be somewhere in the depths of my compost bin, and youguys, that is not a place I want to go digging.

I'll bet you're super glad you came to my blog today.

You want to see another picture I took in Chester on Wednesday but didn't add to yesterday's blog because it was already insanely long and probably took your computer six minutes to load because of all the images?


I KNOW. I am not even making this up. It's an entire Friends-themed cafe! TV show posters on the wall. Giant flat screens showing episodes on a running loop. Big squishy velvet couches and armchairs in bright colours. It was AWESOME. I nearly tinkled myself. My only regret was that I didn't have time to stop in and have a giant cappuccino while exchanging casual witticisms with fellow patrons.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend planned! Wing is visiting AND it's the start of the jazz festival so there is just all sorts of joy potential over here.

Big hugs and lots of love,

Thursday, November 13, 2014

On Chester and a Whole Lot of Walls and Gates

The man who lets himself be bored is even more contemptible than the bore. - Samuel Butler

I once read this interview with Haruki Murakami in which he said that to write, one must be physically strong. Because there is a door one must open to go into the Other Room, the writing-headspace. And if you aren't physically strong enough to open this door, then you won't be able to do it. What a wacky and beautiful idea. That guy is nuts. 

Speaking of wacky and beautiful, my vegetable peeler is missing. I thought you guys should know that. I use it daily so I know exactly where it should be but now it's not there. Then I started looking in other places it may have gone - the bottom of the dishwasher, the dish towel drawer, the basket of potatoes - and it is SERIOUSLY nowhere to be found. It's not even in the microwave, which is where I once found a coffee mug hiding out. When a veg peeler does a runner, what chance do the rest of us have? 

In other news, CHESTER!

 This black-and-white architecture is famous and has some historical significance but I can't remember what it was and I'm too lazy to look it up Yeah. The shopping area is called The Rows and if you look closely, you can see that there's an upstairs sidewalk lined with shops in addition to the usual ground-level storefronts. Also, there are British men in tweed caps. They don't even cost extra.

This is the Eastgate Clock! Apparently it is the second-most photographed clock in the UK after Big Ben. WILDCHESTERFACTS. 

Now for the fun part: my walk along the City Wall! Youguys, I can't say enough about doing it in November. It's cold and wet and your nose will run and OH THE MISERY WILL MAKE YOU FEEL ALIVE. Also, alone:

So very, very alone.

WOLF GATE! So - here's some almost-proper history - this was originally called Wolf Gate but then in the middle of some bit it got changed to Peppergate, and during that time - and I mean ages ago - a girl used this gate to elope with 'a common draper' and her dad was so mad he made them start locking it at night which led to a local saying 'when the daughter is stolen, shut the Peppergate,' which is basically 'closing the stable door after the horse has fled', but I have to tell you, I didn't hear any locals using it. 
And now Peppergate is back to being called Wolf Gate again! Also part of this structure is called Newgate. So it has, like, three names. Awesome.

This is a photo of Hugh Lupus, or 'Hugh the Wolf,' their first emperor. His banner makes me laugh, because WHAT KIND OF WOLF IS THAT?! I'll bet he totally had a pet pit bull and was all, 'Who's going to call me on it? I'M THE EMPEROR.'

The Goblin Tower! Sort of. More like a tower built on TOP of Goblin Tower and called Pemberton's Parlour.

Okay, so I have occasionally been accused of showing life as a giant bowl of cherries viewed through rose-coloured glasses, and also mixing metaphors, leading to the impression that my life is full of travel and those travels are Perfect and Romantic and Thrilling and That Can All Be Misleading*. So let's show some Real Pictures for a minute:

This is what Pemberton's Parlour / the Goblin Tower actually looks like right now. 
I don't think the scaffolding has any historical merit, but I could be wrong. You know me and history.

Sometimes you look over the city wall and instead of seeing parks and canals and rivers, there is sexy sexy road.

And sexy sexy construction sites.



A Cathedral!
A Cathedral!

Town Hall!
Also, there's that moment you pass Town Hall and realise you are missing the Magical Tree Lighting Ceremony by ONE DAY.

You know when you're in a beautiful, enchanting city, maybe Florence, maybe Brooklyn, and there's a Market and you go to check it out and you're so glad you did because it's full of charming charmingness, with lovely local produce like tomatoes that look like flying saucers, or freshly-baked baguettes, or eighteen different kinds of cheeses and olives and honeys and jams and also maybe there's some handicrafts, like some beautiful silk scarves or cozy woolen throws or little clay pots and OH THE YEARNING TO SHOP HERE ALWAYS! 

And then you go to Chester's Town Market:
A cozy concrete warehouse where you can fulfill your heart's desire for wrapping paper, rabbit hutches, one-pound dvd's and yarn, all under one roof. There was even sign indicating a Toe Nail Clipping Service! I KNOW. I want this to be my local shop, too.

Though I have to admit the haberdashery was fantastic. I DARE YOU NOT TO FIND THE BUTTON YOU NEED HERE.

I saw a sign next to the River Dee warning of 'marauding Welshmen,' a possibility which initially terrified me until I saw that they're still training their children to be legionnaires. So we're fine.

This is the Commonhall St. Social which has been open exactly a week today and LOOK HOW PRECIOUS IT IS. Those cushions are made from coffee sacks they actually had their coffee delivered in. I nearly punched myself in the face.

This food was not enjoyed at the Commonhall, though their menu looked great. I  was directed to The Brewery Tap for proper moreish British food. And I was not disappointed: the white bean and rosemary soup and Welsh rarebit were perfect.

And it looks so appetizing!

That was about when I passed out from exhaustion and started the walk back to the train station. Chester threw out one last leaving gift on my way: 

Sunset on a canal, with birds. I KNOW.

Big hugs and lots of love,

*It IS Perfect and Romantic and Thrilling, jerks.