Sunday, 11 February 2018

Sunday Summary | I hear the mission bells above ...

Dear FOQ

You know when you do All the Things (although none of them are especially blogworthy), then stop, have a second's rest, then get ill?


Apparently the universe doth decree that I Do Not Deserve to Rest and Thus Punishest Me With Lurg.

Harrumph, is all I can say to that.

Anyway. In between being a brave little soldier (OK, not so much) and finally battling the aforementioned Lurg but then surfacing to battle my way through All the Work (and no, I had not one day off, that's how much of a little martyr I am!) I have also mostly been ...

Reading πŸ“•

{Little Women}
Watching πŸ“Ί


Strange how all the most iconic Friends moments took place in the first few series, and how it takes a little while now to work out who the audience is cheering for when the cameos rock up (because many are very much of the time).

{You remember Brooke Shields, right?}

Oh but look, here's Big Boo from Orange is the New Black, chatting up Phoebe at Carol and Susan's wedding!

The first episode, the pilot, was surprisingly bitty and oddly frustrating but three seasons in and it has really hit its stride.

And Ross, could you be more of a tool, really?


If you're of A Certain Age and perhaps even read Beverly Cleary's series of Ramona Quimby books as a child, you may remember this Canadian miniseries which I do believe may have run on Saturday or Sunday mornings back in the Eighties.

Ma QB recently discovered that some genius individual known only as Knuckles Dragging has uploaded much of the series on to YouTube (we had two or three episodes on tape back in the day) so I've been reliving my far-gone youth in the manner of a contemporary binge-watcher.

It's a treat, it really is.

Derry Girls

This, I discovered by overhearing the near-hysterical conversations of my workmates discussing the series so I duly downloaded it on to the All4 app. No regrets.

It's brilliant. Very silly, very surreal and brilliant. And as it's set during the Nineties and based on teenage girls at that time, it's very identifiable for those of that Certain Age (except when it isn't and is just hilarious) and the characters are superbly drawn.

Oh but SPOILER ALERT, the last scenes of the last episode of this first series will floor you.

Writing ✍

Although with slightly less regularity this past fortnight: train journeys are for dozing ...

I do aim to rectify that once life settles down a bit, with a stolen hour or so in Costa after church before heading home to do all the things I should have been doing instead of sitting in Costa like a pretentious hipster-type, writing.

Bouncing 🐰

You remember way back when (four weeks ago) I had decided that I was too unfit for a trampoline fitness class and was hunting down a more traditional trampoline class?

I found one, y'all!

Hurrah for Google, and for local gymnastics and trampolining club Springfit for letting me in and letting me bounce proper-like.

Monday nights are now 'bouncy-bouncy' nights, and I'm working my way through the Grades.

Oh look, here's my proud little face after achieving my Grade 3 on the first week.

Cooking πŸ˜‹πŸ₯˜

Although with less regularity than I ought, even now.

However, I made a couple of new recipe book purchases at the beginning of the year. You'll see a theme here:

{Fewer. Four ingredients or fewer. Tut tut.}

Yes, I do like a simple recipe for which I don't have to spend hours sourcing sixty-four obscure ingredients (ergo a complete avoidance of anything Yotam Ottolenghi comes up with – Ottolenghi? Ottolengthyshoppinglist more like).

I'm dabbling in both of these books, with the occasional interspersion of a recipe from one of these two Miguel Barclay titles:


but it never ceases to be a pleasure to have the oven on, and a home-cooked dinner to sit down to on a Sunday night. Tonight I'm making a stew. Yep. Stew for the dinner win!

{Jamie's Herby Chicken Tray Bake. It's not Jamie's ... it's mine!}
Plus, yay, leftovers for lunches!

{Meal planning in progress}

Having some comparatively low-keys evening out πŸ·πŸ•πŸŸ

... firstly with this one, last Friday night! (Who I don't think needs an introduction any more!)

Both of us (and friend Emma who would have joined us had she not also been stricken with Lurg) had been stymied by Disease all week so our original plans of painting the town red were shelved and instead we tinged it a pastel-pink (I was going to say 'green' but that's just gross).

I arrived at the company flat (laden with the most cumberbatchsome shopping bag, like, ever)

and settled in for a while as Natalie was waylaid, but I managed to fill the time with the penultimate episode of Derry Girls, crisps and a cheeky mini Prosecco (really could have done with a bigger bottle, truth be told) before Natalie rocked up and the party proper got started. (By that I mean we ate a bowl of prawn crackers and watched music videos whilst putting the world bang to rights.)

We drank a lil' bit, posed a big lot ... then staggered into town, giggling like maniacs, for a slap-up meal.

By that I mean a garlic bread pizza starter. Because neither of us was really in the mood for anything more extravagant. And only Natalie and I could spend quality time dolling up and posing ... to go to Prezzo and share a starter washed down with water, then come home again. Via the corner shop to buy a small bottle of Sinex for my poor bunged-up conk.

Good times.


It was a lovely low-key night and exactly what our poor Lurg-wearied selves needed after a long week.

{Warm-up drinkie whilst awaiting the Ginger One}

{Killing time with Snapchat and excellent hair

{Waiting for our starter, looking comparatively sophis'}

{Yeah, we're really quite hungry now ...}
Oh! Oh! Posey McPose-Face video insert alert! You're welcome.

{Waiting for 'er to wake up}

{Still waiting ... This is a quality look, amiright?}
In the morning we wandered back into Tunbridge Wells and, being classy an' ting, decided to take our brunch in Tuck-In again. Natalie had some magnificent scrambly eggs, and I had a poshed-up bacon sandwich, and we took advantage of the solitude upstairs to take some super-flattering photographs of each other (as you'll have witnessed on the little compilation video).

We then did our statutory trog around the shops, namely the charity shops and Jeremy's Home Store as standard.

I found some vinyl gems in the charity shops. Gems, I tell thee:

The following evening I did my best to stave off any further manifestations of Lurg by trotting up (and down?) to That Thar London Town (up to London Bridge, down to Tooting) to help Ms Evie celebrate a Significant Birthday.

{Wine while u wait ...}

Of course once the near-fully assembled company had ... assembled (at the rather gorgeous Trafalgar Arms on the High Street) we were having such a giggle that there was no actual time to take photos so, my readers, you'll just have to be content with these, evidence if there were any that I Went to London and Survived and What's More All my Train Journeys were Blissful.

{Going underground, going underground ...}
What is this insanity, I ask you?

Anyway, big ups due to three fifths of the Foyles Goyls present: birthday gal Evie (of course), Katerina and Eloise, and an honorary big-up to Kerrie.

Pinterest Pins of the Week πŸ“Œ

Fortnightly Web Finds πŸ•ΈπŸ”

Serious 😐

• The amazing Ms Evie took the TfL to task on Twitter earlier this week after this poorly judged, sexist 'joke' appeared on a travel information board at Colliers Wood:

{Photo by Evie}
Ugh. Humour is all well and good but way to undermine the whole #Vote100 movement. TfL = Twerps for Life.

3 Difficult Things about Being a Single Introvert | on Introvert, Dear

And on the flipside:

10 Reasons Why It's Great Being a Single Introvert | also on Introvert, Dear

Although I will say this article translates at times as, all partners are scary and overbearing and will leech your monies and your time, so do read it with a tiny pinch of salt. Or don't. I'm not the boss of you. You do you.

Photographer reverses the roles on sexist advertisements | on Braincharm | Some of the originals are hideous. | via Nerds with Vaginas on Facebook

{by Eli Rezkalla; via here}

Natalie, remember last week we were wondering what happened to Jessie J?

• Here she is, in Japan (!) and sounding flippin' epic:

What a babe.  | With thanks to Glenda!

This next article falls slightly between the rails of Serious and Silly so I'm prescribing a new category:

Somewhere In-Between πŸ˜•πŸ˜ΆπŸŒ

• Judging Books by their Covers: Five publishing design cliches | on BBC Arts

{via here}
Silly 🀑

• This is insane. Candy or Not Candy: a Japanese game show. Bite into an object: is it chocolate or sugar ... or not?

With thanks to Edd; and especially for Emily, this iconic moment as a gif:

• Also via Edd: Bollywood plus Brazilian metal = awesome. Also insane.

• Haven't had the chance to share one of these little sparkly jewels for a long time but: Musicless Music Video | Daddy Cool by Boney M | Mario Wienerroither on YouTube

Google Translate Sings ... | Havana by Camila Cabello | Malinda Kathleen Reese on YouTube

Sweet 🍬🐢

• Squirrel Winter Olympics | on Bored Panda | via Ali

The beautiful friendship between a dog and an owl | also on Bored Panda | via Evie

{Photograph: Tanja Brandt}


Footnote πŸ‘£

As I'm sure you'll have noticed, the regularity with which I'm blogging these days is sporadic at best. I'm attempting to keep to a fortnightly post schedule but sometimes life and general energy levels intervene and I can muster absolutely no enthusiasm to post.

But! When I do summon said energy, I'll try to make those posts as replete as is humanly possible when one is a battered husk at the end of the working week.


See you again in a fortnight or so, then!

qb xx

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Summary Seems to Be the Hardest Word ...

Dear FOQ

It's another epic no-show from me, I'm afraid. Although if you like, I could give you a potted summary (tautology?) of my week by way of explanation:
Church Social Committee Meeting
Collapse with Mac and Cheese Pizza and Much Prosecco

none of which sadly lends itself to a particularly whimsical, photographic embellishment.


Let's have another go next week ...

qb xx

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Sunday Summary | I'm wicked and I'm lazy*

* but you know what, lazy is OK sometimes. You don't have to do All the Things. 

Especially if this past week was your first full week in work for, oh, let's say six or so weeks, and you're spent with all the Thinking and the Doing.

QB gives you permission to ... not. Just don't.

Dear FOQ

How are we all faring in this bold new era? Broken all your resolutions yet? Smashed the patriarchy? Seized the day? Carpe'd the heck out of the diem?

And if not, why not?

This fortnight, I have mostly been ...

Reading πŸ“–

I confess, I'm BB again.

Between Books.

I'm a bad, bad, BB bibliophile. (Although I have just worked through a pile of back-issue Guardian Weekend magazines the size of a small child.)

But I'm ...

Writing ✍

Anywhere. At any time.

(Except when the train's swaying, jolting movement kick-starts a delightful wave of nausea and then I'm just sitting there with my eyes closed hoping it goes away in a minute.)


In the pub.

On the train.

In Costa.

Sometimes in the Pumpkin Cafe as well. (I don't discriminate.)

Am I absolved from my non-reading yet?

Watching πŸ“Ί


on Netflix

and observing with interest the ever-evolving hair narratives of the cast.

Especially Chandler and his long-short-long-short mullet. Bless.

Yes, Friends, watched with the benefits of hindsight or by enlightened millennials (who I'm sure all pooh-pooh the Kardashians), is flawed.

But it's a beacon of a less-enlightened time.

And it reminds me of Friday nights at home with Ma QB and Sis, and a cheeky Wispa bar after a long week inside the torture-chamber that was school.

And as for the comic timing, could it have been any more superb?

Dead Poets Society

How have I gone this long in life without watching this film?

And how have I suffered through all those seasons of Robert Sean Leonard as drippy Dr Wilson in House when I could have been initiated with his stellar performance in DPS – and his cheekbones which are arguably sharp enough to slice cheese?

{Why, Dr Wilson ... you're beautiful.}
And let us not forget beautiful awkward teenage Ethan Hawke.

Bouncing πŸ‡

and achieving neither of these fails, you'll be pleased to hear.

On the first Thursday of the new year, I decided to fulfil an ambition of returning to trampolining.

I used to go to a Saturday morning class as a youngster (largely, I believe, so Ma and Pa QB didn't have to haul annoying infant QB round Sainsbury's), and took a couple of classes at school until the popular girls decided they couldn't be bothered to spot me and I think I may have either fallen off completely or come something of a cropper.

Either way, that was probably the last time I trampolined properly with the exception of one or two segues onto a bouncy castle, and onto Brighton Pier in June 2006 with Natalie and our friend Alice who was visiting from New Zealand:

Oh and, celebrating my thirtieth bouncing on Cousin Julie's girls' trampoline. That was epic.

Anyway. I digress. I love a bounce. I love a trampoline. I used to be able to do all sorts of bouncy spinny forward-rolly things on them. But of course with age comes Fear and the inevitable Decrepit-ness.

I attended a Trampoline Fitness Class.

I am not fit.

One needs to be fit to attend a fitness class.

The Harwoodian frame is not built for sprinting.

{The anti-QB. Oh, stop showing off.}

I'm sure if I stuck with it I'd spend less time gasping "I'm going to diiiiiiiie" and more time achieving stuff but I think it might take a while for the nausea to dissipate ...

But my word, the bouncing bits, the seat drops, the star jumps, they were so much fun.

... Can I just do a whole class of jumping without the scary fitness bits?

Catching up ... πŸ‘©πŸ‘©πŸ•

with this bastion of loveliness:

for diarising and general gossip-mongering. And garlic-bread-pizza-with-caramelised-onions-on-it.

We've got all our mate-dates pencilled ink until June. At least. Result!

(And we can sync our Google Calendars now, don'tcha know.)

Pinterest Pins of the Fortnight πŸ“Œ

Fortnightly Web Finds πŸ•ΈπŸ”Ž

(for those fortnights when I have the chance to curate a couple of links)

Serious πŸ˜

• How to stop your job taking over your life | Harriet Minter on The Pool
• Let’s break the “new year, new me” trend and remind ourselves we rock | Amy Jones on The Pool

Silly 🀑

• Google Translate Sings ... The Circle of Life | Malinda Kathleen Reese on YouTube

Until the next ... stay you.

qb xx

Sunday, 31 December 2017

A Quirky New Year to you all!

Dear FOQ

It wouldn't be New Year's Eve without a little Contemplative Missive from me, now, would it.

I'll keep this brief, anyway, as I'm sure you're all heading off out to parties and shenanigania while I'm basically rocking this look again

in front of this film again:

{Strictly Ballroom}

(and demanding that Ma QB show me her paso doble! Show!)

and wanting to head for bed around this time again:

Eh. Why change the habits of a near-lifetime? NYE is overrated anyway.

This week, I have mostly been ...

Reading πŸ“•

and finishing

{Spellbook of the Lost and Found | MoΓ―ra Fowley-Doyle

While I love Fowley-Doyle's offbeat and poetic writing style I'm afraid I struggled to keep track of, and therefore care about, a cast of characters who seemed interchangeable, and who all seemed to have very similar, and overtly thematic, names: Holly. Hazel. Rowan. Rose. Ivy. Olive. Ash.

And by the end, where a crucial fact about the characters was revealed, I was even more confused, to the point whereby I skim-read the last couple of chapters as I couldn't invest enough in the story. (Sorry, Evie.)

Watching πŸ“Ί

Oh, so much.


Little Women

{via here}
I was not convinced by Meg (too young, not vain enough and no real connection with Brooke until he proposed) and Emily Watson still seems a little too young to be Marmee but Jo and Amy were both very well characterised, and even drippy, sickly Beth was a little more convincing than usual (and I must admit to getting a little misty-eyed over Marmee's admission to Jo that she never made any plans for marriage and children for Beth ...).

And Angela Lansbury as Aunt March? Yaaaas.

However I don't remember Laurie lusting after Jo for as long as he did. Perhaps a re-read of the novel is due?

The Miniaturist

This was such a beautifully filmed and delicately handled adaptation – down to the creepiness of the characters and the appearance of the miniatures themselves.

Absolutely now want to visit Amsterdam.

Though sadly I fear wearing a teal silk cape whilst milling around the city might not be de rigueur any more. Shame.


Wonderful. Very much a Disney formula but all the more magical for it.

Beauty and the Beast

Brilliantly done. Emma Watson is a born Disney hero (even if she puts the emphasis in the wrong place pronouncing Maman).

And Emma Thompson is a worthy successor to Dame Lansbury as Mrs Potts.

Though, couldn't help thinking the iconic ballroom scene was more beautifully executed in the original animation. Stickler? Maybe.

Celebrating Christmas πŸŽ…

in the QB Stylee:

{Drivin' home for Christmas via the Bletchingley Arms for lunch, plus beer, wine and
a mocktail for Ma}

{Unsubtle demands for supper were being made ...}

{The Christmas Tree, festooned to the strains
of Bing, Dean and Wailing Mahalia}

{The hallway of QB Heights, Senior Division. Oddly reminiscent
of the runways at Gatwick ...}
{Kicking off Christmas Day hijinks the QB Way: with Bucks Fizz
mid-morning and overindulgence on the lebkucken.
The Fish represents the Absent Sister.}

{Snoozing Father as Standard.}

{Dressed up for dinner. And yes, I have a
constellation on my face.}

{This year's crackers came with novelty
photo props ...}

{Throwback to the days when Pa QB rocked
a pipe ...}

{Making insane faces is my FAVOURITE.}

OK, that's enough of that, I think.

{Tonbridge Castle and the river looking splendid}

I'll be the first to admit it's been a delightfully hermit-y Christmas

{I've dun did lots of writing!}
with the equally lovely exception of visiting friends Justine, Phil and Ellie on Christmas Eve; the Brazier clan on Christmas morning; and meeting cousin Tim and partner Conor on Boxing Day in the One Caff in Tonbridge that was Actually Open (Nero for the WIN)!

Sis and Ceri rocked up for Christmas Mark II on Thursday (I think? What day even is it?). Cue more gift-giving, drink-drinking, poo-flinging (don't ask) and quizzes wherever we could find them.

{So Spesh.} 
{Working our way through the Only Connect quiz book ...}

{During a rather unsuccessful attempt at casting app quizzes to the telly.
Sis is not impressed.}

{Triv. Guaranteed to cause at least a tiny amount of controversy.}

And so that was Christmas.

Only another 51 weeks till we do it all over again!

Resolving πŸ“†

... not to resolve (at least not publicly).

Now, at this time of year, it is usually customary for me to review my year in some way, shape or form, and see how much I've achieved, and how much I haven't.

This year, I can tell you without looking at last year's 'typographical infographic' that I've not achieved much of what I resolved to do this time last year.

(Let's have a look at it anyway.)

Perhaps I should feel bad that I've actually broken promises I made to myself ...

But I don't. And y'know what? That's OK.

I've said it before on this blog quite recently (all the thanks to Jos for giving me a virtual fist-bump/high five over my proclamations) and I'll say it once again since it bears repeating (that sounds familiar ... is it a lyric or just a cliche?): there is absolutely no benefit, I've discovered, after thirty-nine and a bit years on this 'ere planet, in putting extraneous pressure on oneself on the basis of one list made on one New Year's Eve to accomplish a whole chunk o' things, some of which are beyond my control to achieve.

I haven't been abroad this year (promise 4).

But I have been to Hope Cove (promise number 5):

and I've been to Hertfordshire (twice!) to spend quality time with Cousin Jo:

and to Dungeness because that's how we Harwoods roll.

I haven't read fifty books (promise 1).

I've read seventeen this year.

And I've been writing The Novel with increased dedication and investment (promise 3).

Furthermore ...

I've tried to devote more time to meeting up with those delicious friends and relatives who actively pursue meeting-up opportunities. To those friends, and absent ones, I dedicate this montage:

Disclaimer: the song in this video is supposed to be out of copyright so I'll apologise if you end up with ads because of my idiocy. Eh.

I've braved London town and 'met' Actual Gillian Anderson.

I've sung and recorded with my Lovelies at Abbey Road:

{Photo courtesy of Voicerox Music/MM}

None of these things were On The List.

Yet these have been keynote moments of 2017 and worth mentioning once again.

And at times, I've got through this year the only way I know how and once in a while stepped back and thought, nope, I need a lie-in and a duvet day and everything else needs to wait.

It's not a bad thing to make plans and resolutions.

And it's not a bad thing when life intercedes to stop you from ticking off a few tick-boxes.

So maybe I'm cultivating a more casual list of Plans and Resolutions, Intentions and Goals somewhere but rather than put it out in the world I'm keeping it a secret so if I don't achieve all of those things I don't feel the need to publicly flagellate myself yet again.

Makes sense.

Pinterest Pins of the Week πŸ“Œ

And on that note, I wish you all a very Happy New Year.

(I mean, 2018 can't suck any more than the last couple of years, really, can it?)

qb xx

PS I hope you're enjoying the fireworks display!