Sunday, 16 July 2017

Sunday Summary | 16 [39] today and up for fun ...

Dear FOQ

How are we all? Fabulous? Good? Average? Muddling along?

This fortnight, I have mostly been ...

Reading πŸ“•

Watching πŸ“Ί

• The Handmaid's Tale

which I may have omitted from last fortnight's post. W'evs.

Episode 7 was a huge disappointment; while it answered a lot of questions about what had happened to June's husband, Luke, after June was taken to Gilead, so, so much of it was filmed in low light that it was near-impossible to see what was happening and, er, care.


• Before I Fall

... I'd got this confused with If I Stay. Rookie error but if these YA films/adaptations will be titled identically and focus on ridiculously beautiful-yet-surprisingly deep teenagers in car accidents how the heck do we discern? Observe:


You see my dilemma? OK, they're probably not that alike but it was Saturday night, and Netflix, and I'd had wine, and ...

Before I Fall did have the added bonus of wonderful Jennifer Beals, though, so that was nice.

• Me Before You

I watched this with some reluctance after reading the book back in October, because, adaptations almost always come with fifty shades of disappointment but I was pleasantly surprised by how well this one translated.

I'll admit I found Emilia Clarke as Lou too hammy to begin with what with her over-emphatic brow and girly voice, but she'd calmed down by the end of the film and it was completely legitimate that she and Will (hello Sam Claflin and his killer dimples) should fall for each other. I do wish they'd explained why she'd stayed in her hometown though; they left that unanswered question hanging somewhat when it had been explained at length in the book.

Oh, and Norgstar, you'll appreciate this: it took me half an hour to place 'Nathan' (on the right there)

as Brax from Home and Away:

but I got there! #onlyfiveaussieactorsintheworld

Listening πŸ‘‚πŸŽΆ

... to a lot of Max Richter's compositions again. I rediscovered Max Richter on Spotify after remembering that it was his music on Stereomood that got the novel up and running in the first place during a particularly productive NaNoWriMo month some years ago. (Update: it was four years ago. Gads. I should really put my foot on the ol' novel accelerator.)

But, sweet mother of chocolate, I could write a novel the length of War and Peace just listening to his works. Genius. (The novel won't be that long. Trust me. I'm already trying to work out how much of the lingering first chapter I actually need.)

Writing ✍

Did I mention the whole writing-again phenomenon (doo doooo do-doo doo)? Heck, I'll just mention it again.

Holi-staying* in Style 🌴😎

Bear with me for this little rundown; it ain't so little.

QB's Holi-stay (*because we're British; we don't take vacations, we take holidays and thus, our punny derivatives on such expressions really ought to reflect this) began on Friday evening:

... OK, sorry, no, it truly began at lunchtime on Friday with all the pizza:

{See this? This is my sweet 'n' sour pizza. You can't have none.}
and continued in the evening when I rocked on down to the Hometown to take in Rock Choir supporting Complete Madness (yes, that's a tribute band; they're quite good but when you've seen the real thing you maintain a certain level of snobbery about the whole thing).

Sadly, despite this being Ma QB's rock choir, Ma QB had absented herself due to feeling poorly. However, the choir (even without Ma QB to bolster the sound) did sound good, there were some great new numbers and few solos so the choir sang mostly together, which is when they are strongest.

And here's most of Shut up and Dance with a random cameo by family friend Graham, and me talking in the background and not quite sure where to point the phone.

Having reserved around six picnic chairs for people in a small plot surrounded by thousands of other folk, we were later joined by Lynn, Jan, Eve, Sarah and Dave (Barn Dance aficionados) in time for Complete Madness, and so we couldn't really depart early as vaguely planned.

Complete Madness was testament to the fact there is only one way to dance to ska and that's to jiggle yer wobbly bits. (Also, once you've heard one ska/two-tone/Madness track you really have heard them all although I have a fondness, as many do, for It Must Be Love.)


Superb family BBQ shenanigans at Casa de Cousin Julie, with the Harwood/Warrior side of the clan while cousin Mark and his family were over from New Zealand (they'd very kindly brought some pretty favourable weather with them).

Having trawled through my collection of photos it would transpire it's been ten years since the last get-together that I remember, when the youngsters were still in single figures and not the scarily grown-up-and-tres-sophisticated teenagers they are now! Weep weep!


Chilled on Sunday.


Dear diary. Today I exceeded my 12k step target by trogging from the doctors' surgery (whole vial of blood, gone, but apparently I am in tiptop health so that's nice) then on to the dentist:

for a minor ticking-off over slackitude with the flossing sticks, and then finally on to Rahgate for the most amazing massage and facial treatment (known as the Cloud 9, should you ever wish to request it) at Luminis.


My Fitbit, that judgmental piece o' tech, buzzed loudly at me from the dressing-table around 9.30 to remind me what a lazy slacker I was; and after that it was nigh-on impossible to get back to bed so much of Tuesday was dedicated to the dissemination and dethroning of Pinterest (see below) oh but also the novel writing, oh yeah, babies, I am a writer because I do the writing and the putting down of the words from my brain and yes I occasionally get distracted by firming up details and taking too seriously the marriage of reality and fiction such as, for instance, if a person were to walk from a fictional rendering of Kingsbridge, Devon, to a fictional coastal village that may or may not be based on Hope Cove (it is) how long would it take, and is it a practical undertaking? (Just under two hours and ... oh, come on, QB, of course it's near-impractical on those narrow country lanes but this is fiction; make it so.) 

I does the writing ergo I is writer.


After a lovely breakfast at local hipster haunt West Central with friend R, I headed on down to Brighton for a Mosey, a Wander and a Pootle around the Laines (street art and epic window displays being the primary focus, it transpired):

{Sass & Belle: emporium of llamas, flamingos, pineapples and nautical goodies}
and then on to the Pier for the obligatory fish scampi and chips:

{Don't worry. These weren't my chips. As if I'd be so clumsy ...}

before watching (though regrettably not boarding) the rides (too many bags on my person to leave unaccompanied; besides it's no fun to scream "I'm going to diiiiiiiie" on your own – Clare L, I totally need you there for that!).

By some miracle I managed not to spend all my money in Snooper's Paradise (none, in fact but had I not been there alone they would have relieved me of at least £3 for the vintage photobooth); instead I bought enamel kitchenware (!) in Bert's Homestore, and then in Utility (which is working up the ranks to be among my top three shops in Brighton); and of course I had to pop in on Mr Magpie to stock up on my print block letters. Numerals, this time, actually; 7 and 8. Also came away with a hyphen and an apostrophe as an added gift from the shop owner. I do love complementary punctuation.

The 'day' trip ended as is my wont with a very brief paddle in the sea (it was a lil' choppy but I am nothing if not a hardy Harwood).

{Resting Beach Face}

I had an actual

and did not haul my slack derriere out of bed until gone ten.

I did however manage to get dressed, and head to the church for Lunchtime Music, and it was definitely worth leaving the flat for.

Pianist Yoko Ono

{Completely not this woman}
[I'd get bored of the Beatles jokes too, I'm sure]

played a recital comprising Brahms, Debussy, Chopin, lesser-known Polish composer Paderewski, and Haydn, and it was pure unadulterated escapism. (Even with the sirens blaring down the road.)

Here's an older video of Yoko warming up and playing before a concert in Eastbourne:



Gotta get down on Friday:

Everybody's looking forward to the weekend:



The plan was to head up town for the annual pub crawl with my old workmates but the Ruddy Blasted Fecking Overtime Ban Doth Decree that No Trains Shall Run Directly to Cla'am; nay verily thou must change at East Croydon (aka one of Dante's original Circles of Hell) ... That kyboshed that plan. I just cannot even with the stress and the changing and the onward journeys.

(Sorry, former workmates; I'm such a bailer.)

However, I made up for my Day of Doing Little in the evening by beginning the birthday celebrations with drinks (many drinks, all the drinks ...) starting at the Home Cottage and ending up in another pub at the other end of town (which seems like a good idea when you're getting there, and proves more of a challenge getting home).

In residence were bestie Natalie, Jos, Steve and Paul, and many shenanigans were indulged involving a jukebox and a lot of hiphop, some epic moves, some Patti Smith, maybe some Wrecking Ball as well ... and apple sourz.


Good times, though, many, many good times. And so many dubious photographs that I can't just reproduce them in the usual linear fashion; nay, kindly watch the following strange little video montage. (Also, I literally cannot caption all of the photos. Some make nooooo sense.)

With thanks to Natalie and Jos for the majority of these photos. I could discern who took which ones individually but ... you want this post this Sunday not in a month's time, amiright?


{Megan F, you've inspired this little insert!}
OK, I'll stop that now.

Yesterday done be my birthday.
I done get old again.

So in the manner of the elderly, I finally dragged my aged carcass out of bed just after nine, washed off last night's makeup in the shower, then decided it was a good idea to accept a video call from Ma and Pa QB whilst draped only in a towel and looking haggard as. Still. It being a celebration of my day of birth during which I was in a fairly primitive state, I'm pretty sure they've seen worse. It was lovely, anyway, to be sung to.

It was another fairly low-key day marked with the superbitude of a lunch spent with some more of my Lovelies: Charlie, Al, Jess, Jacob and Mimi, Alun and Chris at CΓ΄te in Rahgate.

I was, may I say, spoiled absolutely rotten, from the amazing gifts from my girlies to the complementary Kir Royale and the crΓͺpes (with birthday candle!) from the staff. Way to make a girl feel special and not in the usual way!

{Photo by Charlie}

{Photo by the suspect oddity on the right there}

{Birthday crΓͺpes!}

{Me posse}

Oh and yes. You may notice that my hair has turned a particular shade of

But fear ye not. Regardless of what product I rinse through my barnet (totally not to hide the grey or anything) I will always be at heart a Quirky Brunette.

A relief to Charlie, I know, who bought me amongst other delectable things The. Most. Amazing little makeup bag emblazoned with the very words (aka my Title): Quirky Brunette. πŸ’—

Pinterest Pins of the Fortnight πŸ“ŒπŸ˜ 

Pinterest, you are on the naughty step with me and no mistake.

Points of grievance:
πŸ“Œ  I've now discovered (with all the free time that a holi-stay allows) I can no longer share pins with my Pinning friends on the browser version of the app.
πŸ“Œ  I can no longer organise my boards alphabetically (although to be fair I could only do so through an unofficial Chrome extension but if Pinterest officially offered this useful function instead of the utterly redundant Try Aidan Turner's Face option then I wouldn't have had to resort to such behaviour).
πŸ“Œ  And in trying to migrate my pins (and there were about 4,000 before I started streamlining; I'm now down to the mid-hundreds) from the Liked Pins board I Did Not Ask For (because, yep, I want the Like button back) in order to clear up any duplication, it transpires that the Big Brother of Pinterest puts a limit on the number of pins you can delete or move in one go because apparently, my friends, that's a spammy thing to do.
πŸ“Œ  Plus, they are so above themselves now that they're a commercial success (😑) that they do not feel it necessary to respond to users' tweets or comments on their Facebook page about the app's diminishing and infuriating functionality. Nor do they canvass the opinions of their casual users when introducing all these new functions that only seem to benefit commercial partners, not the crafters and creatives (and the fans of Aidan Turner's Face) that made the site the success it is in the first place.

So by way of rebellion ... no Pins this fortnight because I'm too annoyed with them to romanticise the whole Pinning experience.

That'll learn them.

This rant was brought to you by #firstworldproblems

Fortnightly Web Finds πŸ•ΈπŸ”Ž


• Why do we still insist on calling women "Miss" or "Mrs"? | on The Pool | Apparently "Ms" has negative connotations. I just like that it sounds like a bee buzzing. Mzzzzz. [FYR: not my real reason for taking Ms in case you're all thinking I'm off my gourd.]

Overcoming envy | also on The Pool | Yeah, let's see how this goes, shall we...?

• For all the bad news we're fed, good news is magical. Family saved from drowning by human chain | on Sky News | via ... oh pants, just deleted the source link, but it might have been Cheryl Strayed of 'Wild' fame ...

• Love these children, singing 'How Far I'll Go' from Moana (one of them is wondrous Glenda's niece):


Baby flamingo tries to be an adult; it's too much! Too much of cute! | on Bored Panda | with thanks to Jim of Jo-and-Jim for the heads-up on this!

• Southern (o hai my NEMESIS) have Done Something Right by putting fifteen-year-old work experience student Eddie in charge of Twitter | via Lad Bible | Almost** makes me wish I'd been working so I'd have cause to Tweet this wonderful young man. Although I'd probably have to ask him something about trains to test his mettle, not dogs in jeans. (**I said 'almost' ...)

• Meanwhile, also on Twitter, chanteuse and very darkly hilarious Alison Moyet tries to find the component of offence in all jokes tweeted to her to prove a point. She's very sweary at times but this made me laugh solidly for quite a while:

• Google Translate Sings ... Mary Poppins | on YouTube | via Matt H | The original concept; no Anne Hathaway this time:


Well, that's all for now, folks.

Ma QB and I are off down to the seaside:

{So much more than just a power station, Charlie!}
for a couple of days (so expect some more deliciously bleak shots of lighthouses, shingle and Derek Jarman's cottage).

Until then ...

Stay gold.

qb xx

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Sunday Summary | Bye Bye Fisticuffs*

Dear FOQ

Hope we're all well and enjoying our Sundays. Somehow I've managed to construct a  lengthy post out of a fairly quiet fortnight.

Do I get a prize for that?


This fortnight, I have mostly been ...

Writing ✍

And by writing I do mean making copious, copious backstory notes on the elusive Novel.

I do believe there is a quote out there in the Pinterest-o-sphere along the lines of Overplanning kills magic; well, that may be true but there's nothing worse than reading through your work at a later date and tripping over a plot hole or anomaly that you didn't foresee.

I need to be fully ensconced in the world myself before I recreate it in writing for anyone else (theoretically speaking); I need to know the backstory before I can allude to it.

The struggle of constructing plausible fiction is real, y'all!

But on the plus side ... I am teaching myself to assuage the inevitable daily Southern-Rail-restricted-timetable-based-RAGE

{Patsy had just found out that she had over an hour to wait
at Tonbridge station for the next service home due to a shortage
of train crew ...}
by reminding myself that any delay means more time to scribble random statements about the story in my lil' notebook.

So that's nice.

Reading πŸ“š

... in between the frenzied novel-note-making:

{The Handmaid's Tale | Margaret Atwood}
and finishing:

{Walking Away | Simon Armitage}
whilst sitting out in the park this very afternoon, with my 99 Flake (newsagent edition) and playlist of summer tunes.

(And yes. I had suncream on.)

Watching πŸ‘€πŸ“Ί

The Handmaid's Tale

which just gets darker and darker by the week.

Also watching

... this documentary film: Enlighten Us {trailer via CNN}.

... I hear you ask.


Well, FOQ, here's the why.

About three years ago I read this book:

{Tragedy in Sedona | Connie Joy}
which has, in part, instructed the development of one of the characters in that novel it's taking me for, like, ever to write.

{It's actually not. Writing well is the hard part.}

Since I've resurrected said novel, my curiosity about the story of James Ray has resurrected itself as well, and I fell down a Research Rabbit-hole:

{Illustration: Tom Gauld | via here}

that resulted in me discovering the documentary on Netflix, no less.

{Screengrab via Netflix}
It makes for sobering viewing. Ray is charismatic, all right (well, he was, before his prison sentence; now he comes across as pathetic and deluded in a much more public way than in the footage from before 2009); but he can often turn, shouting down his audience, telling them they're talking nonsense; and there is a cold, dead look behind his eyes especially at the end of the documentary that quite frankly gives me the almighty wiggins:

(and his teeth are much-too-white to be trusted ...)

His propensity to turn the deaths of three of his devotees in one of his sweat lodges into 'an accident' which 'happened to him' is cloying and downright offensive. At times he admits responsibility; at other times he tries to spin the deaths of those three people into a 'learning experience', and his performances at his events post-prison are borderline embarrassing – for Ray himself but also for all the people still determined to follow his teachings in spite of his fall from glory.

One does wonder about the mental fragility and the downright gullibility of the people who looked, or even still now, look to him for guidance, paid him extortionate amounts of money for his courses and then allowed him to push them to their physical limits, and beyond, all in the pursuit of emotional development.

Scary. But a fascinating character study.

... Is that an awful thing to say?

Also watching:

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List

which is based on this YA novel by Rachel Cohn and David "Literary Leviathan" Levithan, which I read way back when.

{Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List | Rachel Cohn & David Levithan}
The film is actually highly enjoyable, even though the character of Naomi is just as self-absorbed and arrogant as in the book (newsflash, Nomes, it's really, really not all about you; stop exercising your 'beautiful girl privileges' and taking what you think you're entitled to because of said privilege, you callous little girl). The soundtrack is pretty great, too; all a little edgy and young.

Oh and I have also been watching:

Blue Jasmine

Because, Cate Blanchett and my goodness she is eerie as heck in this film. (Good-eerie, of course.)

Listening πŸ‘‚πŸŽΆ

... to a lot, and I mean a lot, of 90s dance:

Tearing up the dance floor and showing the Youff of Crawley how it's done πŸ‘΅πŸ’ƒ

... with this one:

who proposed that we go clubbing, at the same hot spot we used to tear up back in the day.

{Then: Diva/Ikon. Now: Moka}

It's less a hot spot now, more a dodgy warm patch in spite of its impressive decor.

Things didn't kick off on the dance floor until gone midnight (and we'd been there a while before that, me throwing back this rather magnificent cocktail in a jar: seriously, Crawley, are you hipster now?!):

{I see what you did there. You punned. I approve.}
And when the DJ was giving shouts out to clubbers celebrating their nineteenth birthdays we sort of knew this was not the place for us.
DJ: Happy nineteenth birthday to Shanaeeeee!
Me: Egads, I'm the age equivalent of 
two nineteen year-olds

Plus, the DJ was clearly sleeping through the all-crucial class in DJ school that teaches one how to, er, well, mix and find the freakin' beat. 

Correct me if I'm wrong but surely even mashed-up songs are supposed to blend seamlessly and not crash into each other like teenagers on Dodgems under the influence of too many Panda pops [other forms of legalised aspartame are available].

The noise, and the quest to find the beat. ... I don't remember clubbing being such hard work when we woz young. And by the by, if you start shouting "all the single ladies!" over a song (notably this one, right, Natalie?:

*aka the "Bye Bye Fisticuffs" song, if you're as astute at mishearing lyrics as I am)

people are going to expect ... Single Ladies up next.

 Not so much.

But. All that aside, it was a great, great laugh and the posing opportunities along made it worth our while. As did the morning fry-up.

Here be some photographic visual aids (most taken by Natalie, one or two by me):
{"You'll find me in the club ... or the station car park, w'evs."}

{for when you don't understand the rituals and sartorial choices of the Young}

{We may have a collective age of 78 but by George we're still adorbs enough
to warrant an official Club Photo.}

{The kettle's on so don't be long, mon cher ...}

{Restorative fry-up}
 And before I segue onto the next item on the agenda, may I give my bestest of best friends a massive thank-you shout-out for teaching me the Secret of the Selfie?

{Word to the wise: this is not the secret.}

I am of course still trying to work it in my favour but I have the tools. I just have to use them for good. Right?

Plotting and planning πŸ“…

Now. By the next time you read this 'ere blog, I shall have celebrated yet another birthday. 

Probably in this sort of manner:

Why yes, I am soon to be of the age 39. Which is slightly sobering because, hello, single, childless, still not finished that Novel, etc etc.

And yes, I should stop measuring the achievements and status of my life against everyone else's and hello, check out my rack:

{Medal rack; it's a medal rack, people}
But, to that end, and in the spirit of marking achievement, I am in the process of constructing a list I'm titling 40 for 40.

This will comprise 40 things to do during my 'forty' year (so, in the lead-up to 40 – from a day after my birthday this year to the day before my 41st, giving me plenty of time to achieve all the things!).

And here's where you come in, my lovely readers, my FOQ.

I am up to 23 items at the last count and no, I shan't divulge what they are quite yet.

I am looking for inspiration for the outstanding 17 items.

So, I ask you, dear FOQ:

Is there anything you've done, or anywhere you've been, that has proven a pivotal moment in your life?  
If you've passed a notable chronological milestone in your life and chosen to mark it in a similar way ... how did you do it, and would you recommend it?

Please send your thoughts to me via email at or if you have a Google account and can comment on the blog, please do that!

Nobody's commented for months.

I feel bereft.

Pinterest Pins of the Fortnight πŸ“Œ

Side note: Pinterest removed its Like button.

Do I not Like that.

What I Like is pictures of flamingos, images of how my life might be if I ever buy a house and decorate it entirely in palm tree wallpaper and Eames rockers; inspirational quotes, and Aidan Turner's lovely face.

{o hai}

Do I not Like "Promoted Pin: Expensive sofas promoted by Sofas4U on Pinterest".

I also do not Like the new "Set yourself a reminder to try this later" option.

I can't exactly remind myself to Try Aidan Turner's Lovely Face at a given time, now, can I?

Much as I'd love to.

It's nonsensical, is what it is.

Sort it out, Pinterest; you used to have integrity. Grr.

Right. Moving swiftly on ...

Fortnightly Web Finds πŸ•ΈπŸ”Ž


Audrey Tautou, photographer | on NYTimes | via Emily

Flatpack food prep | A genius idea by IKEA for reluctant cooks | on The Daily Quicky


• Love this InspiroBot site which generates meaningless (though occasionally profound) inspirational quotes at the click of a button:

{via here | with thanks to Edd}
• When your favourite song comes on | on YouTube | thanks to Juan for this treat; I wept laughing at this. Twice.

• This is just bonkers! | Orange is the New Snack | OITNB parody on Sesame Street | on YouTube | with thanks to Cloee C

I love the Red puppet.

• The latest Musicless Music Video by Mario Wienerroither is perhaps less snorfle-worthy than previous but worth watching just by virtue of the way Bowie and Mercury's voices are somehow singled out. | on YouTube

(Side note: I really miss David Bowie.)


And, in the words of an onion-seller, that's shallot.

See you in a couple of weeks for more blognanigans. Keep cool. Wear. Sunscreen.

qb xx