Sunday, 12 February 2017

Sunday Summary | Lub Tropiana*

* I'll leave you to fathom out my HILARIOUS joke here.

Dear FOQ

This fortnight, I have mostly been ...

Reading 📖

... and fi-hi-nally finishing:

{The Horse Witch | Sheila Fulton}
My educated verdict on the plot? The characters (of which there were too many)? The bloodshed ending? (Oops. Spoiler.)

I am now very happily simu-reading:


(Natalie, you may well have to read this!)

To my odd little mind, Guardian columnists will forevermore have to measure up to the splendiferocity of Lucy Mangan; however, I grow increasingly fond of Hadley Freeman. She tipped the scale in her favour with this book:

but Life Moves Pretty Fast, an homage to the impact of 80s films both good and not so great, is one of those books that already has me nodding in agreement and squealing as HF gives a massive nod to Cynthia "Penny in Dirty Dancing who used to be married to Richard Marx and no I'm still not over the whole them-splitting-up-and-him-remarrying thing" Rhodes in a footnote.

Watching 📺

Hmm. Can't remember. Probably this:

{Gilmore girls | Lauren Graham gives excellent cry-face.}

So I teared up at Rory's graduation as well. Judge away.

Oh but, ooh, the OITNB Series Five Teasing has begun with four months to wait:

I've had to have my fill since the end of S4 by fangirling over the actors' Instagrams {ahem} but, bring it.

Oh and this. Again.

{The Devil Wears Prada}

Hanging with these beauties

{Gaby and Nats, my gorgeous and wondrous galpals}

then hitting the shops with this one, after a highly sustaining brunch at 'Spoons:

{Fluffy friends at Jeremy's Home Store, Emporium of Awesome}
and being rudely stalked ...

... by POKẾMON.

Partying like it's 2017

... and rocking up to two significant birthday celebrations in one day for friends-and-(former) neighbours Tilly (100 years old!) and Eve (60). I promise not to share the video of the performance of the birthday song we wrote for Eve, but trust me, it was West-End worthy.

(In the same way that the Spice Girls Musical was West End worthy.)

Joining the cult of Fitbit 🏅

Oh yep.

I may have mocked those with the gadgets initially, but I was just jealous, I promise.

Fitbit will make me WALK, goshdarnit. Or, at least it will justify the walking I already do. Yeah. Exactly that.

{Purty thang.}
Check my stats, yo:

{The Beek is so impressed.}

Quite a significant amount of that was done yesterday, when I trotted through the snow:

to meet a quality bunch o' Lovelies – Charlie, Jenny and Jess – for breakfast. Why, just over two years ago to the month (sort of thing) I walked from Horley to home.

Yesterday I walked from home ... to Horley. In the sner. Did I mention the sner?

Exciting route:
Ditto the scenery:

but genuinely worth the trog to eat All the Food and chew All the Metaphorical Fat with the Lovelies. With thanks to Jess' Jacob for taking the photos for us when my selfie ability abandoned me.

{Charlie, Jenny and Jess}

Thus, today I have mostly been ...

Doing the Duvet Day Thing 🛏 (but also Cooking 🍲)

Nothing says weekend slobbery like putting a gammon joint in a slow cooker and letting it do meaty magic (ahem) while you catch up with two months of magazines and an overflowing in-tray. Whilst staying in pyjamas all freakin' day. 

At least I had a kanelbulle to see me through my backlog. Oh! And the truly, truly beautiful enamelware coffee pot by Mini Moderns, that came to me yesterday as a slightly belated birthday gift because it hasn't been in stock for over six months. (Thanks, R!)

{Look! So pretty!}


Charlie Kilborn: you will wish to look away for this portion of the blog. Trust me on this. I'll give you a holler by way of a kitten gif when it's OK to come back.

And finally, finally ... I have mostly been ...


It took me three weeks.

But I found it.

You can all rest easy now.

... The single life really is a hotbed of excitement on a daily basis.

OK, Charlie, it's safe to come back in.


Pinterest Pins of the Fortnight 📌

{It's a Sunday thing}

Web Finds of the Fortnight Dim and Distant Recent Past 🕸⏰


Covering Trump the Reuters Way | here | via Monika S

Well, this little snippet from Facebook Trending would suggest their focus is elsewhere 😠:

{Integrity. Riiiiight.}
Dystopian fiction that reflects Trump's US | here | also via Monika S *updates "Want to Read" list on good reads*

• 'Think about the bigger picture': life lessons from successful women | on Guardian Weekend

{Meryl Streep | Photograph: Brigitte Lacombe | via here}
See also here for the full features and interviews with the women in the article.

• Hate your commute? Try these tricks to cheer yourself up! {It's not clickbait, I promise}| on BBC | via Search Press

{That ain't no stinky pasty! Commuters' Christmas Party | photo: Jason Sutherland-Rowe}

• Specially for Ma QB: TINY TINY THINGS! Tiny dioramas created by Japanese artist Tatsuya Tanaka | via BoredPanda | via workmate Juan | see also here

{Tatsuya Tanaka}

{Tatsuya Tanaka}

My mind is a tiny bit blown.

• Love that these women are covering 'Promise Me' on Holland's The Voice: definitely think the second singer's voice is more suited but the first singer brings something different to the table. And the harmony?! Whoa. Yes. | via Beverley Craven on FB

• Gaga sings the Superbowl | #fangirlingoverhere | on YouTube | via Jude

But no, I did not manage to get tickets to see La Gaga in October. 😭

Well, I could have done but, ain't nobody paying upwards of £80. I mean, she's epic and everything but this is a concert, not a deposit on a future home, after all (!).

Besides, I have events aplenty lined up for the next couple of months. Gaga will be back. (She'd better be.)

• 'It's sunny and safe': why Gilmore girls makes perfect comfort viewing | Abigail Radnor on Guardian Weekend


Despatches from a bad date | here | via Overheard in Waitrose on FB | Er, did either of these individuals even attempt to make conversation or were they both glued to their phones the whole time?!

Totes annoying: words that should be banned | Justin Myers for Guardian Weekend | May Myers never happen upon this blog, then: pretty sure a lot of these word-crimes have been committed here on qb over the years as I attempt to stay Down wiv da Kidz (rather than having to Adult, obvs).

{Illustration: Justin Gabbard}

Modern tribes: The office stoic | Catherine Bennett for Guardian Weekend | We all know the office martyr who would come in with bubonic plague rather than call in sick ...

• Warning: some Snapchat Face Swaps are actually Dark as Heck (thanks, Edd, for these treats! 😱): here and here | links only because they're too scary to share as pictures on here. Yep.

These two might actually give you the heebs for life:

• I've been moderately successful with my cooking of late (touch wood); however, these still exist as proof that the kitchen is a dangerous place: Some of the worst kitchen fails | on Bored Panda

{To be fair, the pie was brutal to start with.}

Don't have nightmares; do sleep well.

qb xx

Monday, 30 January 2017

Sunday Summary | I hear babies cry; I watch them grow. They'll learn much more than I'll ever know.

Dear FOQ

This fortnight, in between despairing over the state of the world and the dispiriting, counter-intuitive behaviour of our 'leaders', I have mostly been ...

Reading 🕮

I'm going to have to start simu-reading something else to take the edge off. The narrative description is all well and good but I could not care less about any of the (many, oddly-named) characters, none of whom seem as though their names belong in Iron-Age Scotland. Hakos? Arax? Greek, surely. Mhorged? Welsh. Amiright?

All the other character names sound like retching noises and I cannot get down with that.

Luth. Dearg. Magh. Bleugh. (OK; I made one of those up.)

I do however have these three beauts lined up for near-future reading:

so all is not lost, though The Horse Witch has held me up by two books already in my promise to read fifty books this year. 

Darn you, Horse Witch.

Watching 📺

{Gilmore girls}

The Goldbergs (with thanks to Natalie for turning me on to this rather wonderful and very funny series, with all of its offbeat 1980s references and Wendi McLendon-Covey [of Bridesmaids] who is just wondrous).

Walking 👣

Putting aside for a moment the fact I am already woefully behind target for hitting 1,000 miles (I'm blaming Southern Railway because I can), I've clocked up a couple of fairly decent distances over the last couple of weekends (not that they've made the blindest bit of difference really 😭).

And have I got some stories to tell.

Well, strictly speaking only two, and one of them's a bit dull but this is my blog so I shall tell it anyhow.

So, last Sunday, midst the frost and the wintry weather (and that blinding sun that will take out your corneas if you dare look straight at it), I headed off to follow a route suggested to me by Map My Walk's Route Genius.


Not so genius after all, as it turns out.

Y'know when you hear those stories of people falling foul of their SatNavs and ending up in a canal wondering why they turned left just because the SatNav told them to and common sense decreed they should go straight on ...?

Let me show you a little picture of the route recommended to me by Route Genius:

Pay close attention to that little region highlighted (at the 3-mile point).

Now, let me show you another little picture – this being the route I actually took:

Notice that little dangly bit at the bottom?

That's not a path.


It's a path according to the Genius.

But not according to local bylaws.

Or in fact the man with the big ginger beard who met me half way down the path with a shotgun over his shoulder* and directed me back whence I came.

Darn you, Route Genius. And darn me too for not using what we call a Real Map.

* In all fairness, no shots were fired or had been fired, and I suspect Ginger Beardy Man was off out to blast some clay pigeons. And it might not have been a shotgun anyway.

Made for a good anecdote though, right? 

And he was very polite.


Here are some fairly pedestrian (!) photos of the walk for your enjoyment. More shots of lakes than anything else, to be fair.

{Check out the ice on the lake. Not quite enough for skating. Sadly.}

{So darn cool. Always.}

And yesterday, though fatigued I was by the tiring nature of daily life:

and by the sheer pressure of knowing I'm about 50 miles behind on the ol' 1000 mile target (it's OK, perhaps I'll just fit in a couple of MoonWalks between now and December)

I hauled myself out on The Grimmest Most Grim Day of Grimmitude for a 7-mile walk taking in part of a prescribed 3½ mile walk extracted from this veritable tome:

published in 2002, when The Grumpy Mole in Brockham was the Dukes Head... imagine my confusion in trying to find a pub that no longer exists (and admittedly hasn't been the Dukes Head since, oh ... 2010.

Egads. This week's lesson learned/Note to Self interlude: refer to walking guidebooks that are ever so slightly more in date. You know it makes sense, you idiot sandwich.

As is my wont (shout-out to Fiona and Bianka in remembrance of that walk almost two years ago), this gentle 6/7-miler from Dorking to Brockham and on to Reigate turned into a 10-miler.

A very wet and dark 10-miler at that.

But there were some definite highlights.

1) Dorking to Brockham ...


2) Brockham to Betchworth ...

Ooh now, does this church look familiar?

How about now?

Shall I give you a clue? (Pardon the language... she says, excusing a film from 20 years ago.)

Why yes, that's the church in 'Stoke Clandon, Somerset' where Angus and Laura get married in the first of the Four Weddings!

(In real life it's St Michael's, Betchworth.)

Splendid, I thought. What did you think?

3) Betchworth to Reigate ...

Notice how dark it's getting in this shot of the golf club and windmill?

That was just the beginning of the last leg.

Turns out all the lanes around Reigate triple in length when it rains. Yeah. Flanchford? Clayhall? Slipshatch? Park Lane East? All of them. Endless.

And it's always best to check your headlight batteries haven't died before you're on a dark, sodden lane, in the rain, trying to work out how to get back to civilisation (the twinkly lights of Rahgate did give me a clue as to my destination, admittedly).

I admit, I toyed several times with the idea of putting out a holler on FB for a kindly friend with a car and a bin bag for me to sit on to come and pick me up, but that's not my style.

Did I surrender?

And on approach into Reigate did I decide, "sod this for a game of soldiers" and hotfoot it to the station (and therein wait for 40 minutes for the next train)?



'Cos I'm hardcore.

Oh, c'mon, this is a thing, right? Jo? Right? Right. Thank you.

(And also my dinner would have burned if I'd waited for the train so just as well I didn't.)

... That was the other story.

'Twas really not that jazzy, I admit.

Cooking 🍲

WARNING: Vegetarian friends should avert their eyes until I post a gif of a flamingo to let you know it's safe to return ...

1) Duck crown | from This Book, now my go-to source book for easy and unpretentious SC recipes:

{this bargain bad boy came from here}

And yes, I am a two-SC household now, friends. Colour me indoctrinated:

Of course, that crown should have been individual legs but does my local Sainsbury's stock anything above an acceptable level? Does it 'eck. Pudding rice? Pudding rice? Anyone?


{Me, hitting up Sainso every weekend #panic}

2) Slow Cooker Beef Stew with Dumplings

Well, nothing says "welcome home from your walk through the wet wilderness" like beef stew: I may have overcooked the beef a teeny bit (I halved the recipe but didn't reduce the cooking time) but it was still darn good.


OK, vegetarian friends, you can come back now!

Meeting up 🙋

... with the awesome Foyles Goyls; and yes, I was brave enough to Go Up to London on a Weekday Evening (even though it still irks me when People in London Stop in the Middle of the Pavement for No Good Reason).

I even got home OK. Took for, like, ever but that's only because I bypassed the level of hell known commonly as East Croydon.

So worth it to spend time with my favourite feminist icons. And eat cake. And buy a book. Because, Foyles.

Scaling Everest ... 🗻

... Spice, forever my favourite curry emporium, with this group of lovelies from St Matt's (a group previously known as SoNIC – but that's a bit youthy now considering most of us are in our thirties, lalala...):

Big-ups due to: Fleur, Ellen, AJ, Rosalind, Matt (honorary gent), Angie, Cassie and Julie.

Pinterest Pins of the Fortnight 📌

And ... that's it for now.

I'm parking Web Finds of the Fortnight 🕸 until such a time as I have more capacity to curate them. I have links; I just haven't the inclination to list them all, this time round. 😴

On that note, go forth and be all fabulous and stuff. ⭐

qb xx