Sunday, 4 October 2015

Sunday Summary

Friends of Quirky ...

At half nine on Friday night, having been drafting the blog almost every evening since last flippin' Monday, I managed to delete the whole draft in the process of trying to import a photo.

{I know, Dawn-from-Buffy, how was that even possible!?}
And it was EPIC. Long. A challenger to Lord of the Rings. With loads of photos. And loads of links. LOADS!

{Peanuts' Lucy van Pelt | my new animated soul sister}

So, apologies if the reconstruction is not quite as fulsome as you would hope after two weeks' absence. Sometimes, my own idiocy startles me.

{It startles John Cusack too.}

BOTHER. (Or words to that effect.)
Oh well. Here goes with the reconstruction (!)


First of all, sending much love and thanks to Natalie and to Norgstar for their supportive messages this week: knowing you two have my back has made a huge difference. Now, if only I could get you to meet!

Also, big break-a-legs due to Jos (and to Amber too, obvs, aka the one on stage -- sure you will rock your performance, and I'm sorry I'm feeling too, er, introvert to come and see you. Next time though.). Jos -- I'm still gutted the world will not witness you channelling Salt and/or Pepa but one day ...

And a big hug to Charlie because she's Charlie and she's one of the only reasons I've even bothered rewriting all this, so you'd better flippin' read it now, lady! ;-)


These last two and a bit weeks, I have mostly been...



I'm struggling to equate Caradelawotsit and her amazing performing eyebrows in the forthcoming film with the book's Margo at the moment:

but then I also struggled to equate Anne Hathaway with Fantine in Les Mis, and that turned out rather pleasingly, so maybe I'll suspend my judgment until after I've seen the film ...


Gilmore girls

It almost makes me wish I'd accidentally got pregnant at sixteen and single-handedly raised a quippy, bookish daughter in a quaint small town. Almost.

And here, for Ma QB, are the opening credits for you to sing along to. In harmony, please.

I also started getting into Grace and Frankie last weekend while staying with Jo -- but this week being what it was, I've not watched any more. I've got a lot of time for Sam Waterston's eyebrows, though.


I repeat, I cut my own fringe. And it did not go horrifically wrong.

No this is not considerably noteworthy but if you've ever seen me wield scissors/any sharp object you'll understand why this was quite an accomplishment. (Also, if you knew me in 1983, you'll know why self-styled fringes have been taboo for thirty-two years. Yes, FOQ, a classmate cut my fringe. With kiddie scissors. Imagine the artistry! I do like to think I have more skill at 37 than she did age 5 though ...)

{I'm happy on the inside}
Hurrah for Pinterest/YouTube tutorials!

It really was that easy.

All right, let's move on.


... yet another quirky yet potentially hard-to-sustain initiative for the month. Ladies, gents, girls, boys, I give you:

That's Chuck-tober, during which I get rid of one thing a day for the month. Household waste and recycling doesn't count. And every day something has to come out of a different room in the house (except the bathroom, which does need an epic waste-round-up so we'll discredit that).

So far, the Chuck-tober tally consists of:

Oct 1: filter jug (kitchen)
Oct 2: DVD (living room)
Oct 3: magazine file (bedroom)
Oct 4: set of IKEA hooks, unopened (from the 'man'-cupboard in the hallway)


... the wedding of my lovely former colleague Leah and her long-time man Nick, in what was possibly the most hipster-heavy venue in Southwark. Oh the beards! The moustaches! The nerd specs! The quirky band that seemed to have been teleported in from the 1940s! The moshing to Suede at the end of the night!

No photos, oddly, from me -- too busy chatting (or trying to chat but not actually hearing about 80% of any conversation!). Still. Lovely evening. Glorious sausage rolls, incidentally.


And now for the part that has absorbed most of my week just by attempting to capture it all ...

On Friday 18th September, I took a train ...

{Not this one}
another train ...

{Not this one either}
a bus ...

{Pretty sure this wasn't our bus ...}

and a taxi to glorious Hope Cove:
along with my little buddy Norgstar, for three and a bit days of (almost entirely unplugged) holiday/weekend revelry.

We walked, we wrote, we ate (out, such luxury!) ... we snapped, we posed, we napped (or, she napped, I caught up on my reading and yet I'm still a gazillion books behind my 50-book target, grr), and had a lovely relaxing time all in all!

{Look at our happy train faces!}

We stayed in Ma QB's lovely friend's scrumptious cottage not five minutes from The Actual Sea, and were greeted upon arrival by this rather magnificent sight (oh and the sunshine too, of course):

{PROSECCO! Thanks, Jilly!}
{Norgstar getting her walnut-whip-and-tea-vibe on}
We settled, then went for a wander around the village so I could show Norgstar the sights. Nowhere does evening light quite like Hope Cove (to my mind anyway). The morning light's not bad either.

{Happy QB | Photo by Norgstar}

{Panorama #1 of a few | Look how pretty it is! | Click to view in full splendour}

We ate out on our first evening at the fairly-newly-refurbished café-bar, The Cove: Norgstar opted for mussels and I went for the more traditional fish 'n' chips, followed by a rather epic chocolate brownie. 

I like to think it soaked up the bottle of Prosecco we'd drunk that afternoon while putting the world to rights on the bench outside the cottage. Hope we weren't too raucous ...

As ever when I could probably do with a lie-in but the thrall of the sea is too great, I was up with the lark the following morning (or, less prosaically, the seagull) and decided to carpe the heck out of that diem and wander down to the seafront to catch a bit o' early-morning colour on the pallid cheeks.

Needless to say it was alarming to spot a pile of men's clothes and shoes on the lower sea wall; I was just about to contemplate leaping in on a rescue mission (talk about life imitating art: I've been trying to craft this novel about a sea rescue for years) when I spotted this view in the distance:

Yep. There was a man open-swimming. In wetsuit, goggles, the lot! Props to him.

Back at the cottage I made a keg of coffee and awaited the awakening of Lady Norgstar so we could head out for a spot of breakfast.

{I gots ma happy face on -- feed me now, please?}
We found ourselves on the rather splendid sun-trap balcony of the also-fairly-newly-refurbished Hope & Anchor pub/hotel and restaurant, which offered a delightful (if quite upmarket-price-wise) breakfast.

{Photo by Norgstar}
{This temple of obscenity is indeed a stack of pancakes with bacon
and maple syrup, yep | all the noms}
As we walked back to the cottage to ready ourselves for a walk (to work off that stack o' pancakes) we were fortunate enough to see the life boat on the water, on a mission -- the independently-financed life boat is a huge asset to Hope Cove, so it was great (if of course daunting!) to see it in action.

It wasn't out searching for open-water swimmers; it was however going after an unmanned dinghy and a fisherman in trouble away from his craft:

Norgstar and I put on our walking shoes and headed up to Bolt Tail, the beautiful, treacherous end of the universe, and one of my favourite places to be for a bit of inspiration, life-affirmation (and photography).

{Panorama #2 | Oh but the view demands a panorama, right? | Click to view in more glory}

I had my film camera with me, loaded with expired film (hence the grainier pictures in this selection -- I do think film has a certain finesse that digital never will, however), and I did rather exploit an entire film on Bolt Tail; I've spared you most of those shots here but take it from me, the views are just remarkable!

Back on ground-level, we bought sandwiches and water for lunch and ate on the beach, where it was as warm, if not warmer, than a day in July.

And QB being QB, I couldn't resist a paddle:

{First obligatory feet-in-water shot of the weekend}

{Walking back to the cottage, we spied this anachronistic bus, running
tours as part of a vintage weekend celebration}

I'd picked up this rather wondrous (if maybe too American?) box set from Waterstone's before I left:

{by Chronicle Books}

and that afternoon, we spent a good hour free-writing, using the 'lolly stick' cues for inspiration.

It was a great exercise for reopening that creative-writing side of the brain, especially for me for whom it has been vastly underused of late:

{"and ... then ... the ... magic ... camel ... flew ... away.
The ... end ..." | Photo by Norgstar}
Norgstar went for a little nap afterwards, and I caught up with my reading; we were back on lively form in time that evening to walk back into the centre of the village for pre-dinner drinks, but first catching the first ebbs of the notorious Hope Cove sunset.


{Norgstar enjoying a cheeky Spanish beer. You can
take the girl out of Spain ...}

Of course, shame of shames, while we were enjoying the sunset, the cut-off for our planned takeaway* had been and gone (*the takeaway place transpired to be closed for the season anyway) so we "had" to stay and eat out uh-gain at the Hope & Anchor for their dinner menu. Pity, eh?

I enjoyed the Harwoodian staple of Ham, Egg and Chips (I am my father's daughter) while the ever-daring Norgstar tucked into a half-lobster. A lob, if you will.

It was PDG. Pretty Darn Good. The H&A was still very busy even off-season, but that's always encouraging! I do love a bit of village-living.

We endeavoured to do some more free writing back at the house but there were a few prohibitive factors:
{Wine. Cannot write after/with wine.
Not constructively anyway. We gave up.
Photo by Norgstar. PJs by Primark ...}
In spite of food, wine, and the excitement and revelry of the previous night (all right, we were much better behaved but it was holiday-time, and that messes with my brain), I was back up again early the next morning, for a walk into the village to the one shop-cum-post office-cum-bakery to pick up warm rations for the morning.

I took advantage of the best light of the morning for some shadowy-shady shots looking back towards Bolt Tail and onto the caves (we didn't get around to exploring those but maybe next time!).

{Continental breakfast, ma'am? Complete with edifying literature, natch}

After coercing poor sleepy Norgstar out of the cottage with croissants/pains au choc and tea/coffee, we then readied ourselves for another walk (get us!), this time to South Milton and Thurlestone.

{15 minutes in ... ;-))
So maybe there was no blazing sunshine on the Sunday but the air was still warm, and the views still just a little bit marvellous.

{Spot Thurlestone Rock!}

We had a lovely sit-down on the beach, and watched more local loonies swimming in the sea (I was a little regretful not to have brought my own cossie with me ... south-eastern softie):

{Photo by Norgstar}

I had another paddle though:

then we took a little trek behind the dunes to forage for food -- and lo! We found the beachhouse café.

{Photo by Norgstar}
{Photo by Norgstar}

The beachhouse was busy and it took quite a while for our food to come but boy did we appreciate it when it rocked up! An older couple sat next to us, and we chatted to them for a while, before paying up and beginning the walk back to Hope.

{We's so bootiful!} 
After another restorative rest for Norgstar and more book-reading for me, we were off out again for our obligatory cream tea at the Cottage Hotel, which boasts excellent views, and only a flippin' ship's cabin embedded inside! The cabin was built up from the restored timbers of the wreck of the Herzogin Cecilie, which ran aground near Hope Cove in 1936 [source]. 

Norgstar, Nautical Fanatic that she is, was in her element!

{Porthole shot by Norgstar}
Naturally, we took to the terrace for our cream tea. Because we're glamorous, exotic and hedonistic like that.
{You can't stay by the sea without a cream tea!}
Alas, we didn't opt for Prosecco this time round but next time!

{Panorama #3 | Because, well, why wouldn't you? | Click to view up close and personal}
We sauntered back onto the sand afterwards and while Norgstar channelled the spirit of fine whisky and chilled on the rocks, I did the what-comes-naturally:

What? No I did not spray-paint the likeness of Harry Webb onto timeless rocks! That was all done post-production, I'll have you know.

No, what I did was ...

{... paddle! | Photo by Norgstar}

and take more photos to capture the rocks, the sea and the light, or, as I also like to call them, things that feed my soul with happiness. {Getting all schmaltzy now.}

{#Norg on the rocks ... ain't no surprise#}

We returned to The Cove that night, which was super-quiet, for our last-night dinner out; I had pink Prosecco, and enormous flippin' fishcakes!

(Norgstar had a salad. I think. I can't find photos to verify. ... What do you mean, I didn't Instagram our every meal?! NO! WAIT! STOP PRESS! The good lady has since informed me she was in fact noshing down on some fish 'n' chips. Most probably. -- qb)

Our time in HC went by much too quickly, and I was losing my wig the following morning trying to get the cottage tidied and locked up before Trevor the Taxi arrived at 9.50 to pick us up (he was early which made me wig out even more!) but I think a revisit ought to be on the cards before too long.

Then, on Friday 25th, with the laundry whipped, barely dry, from the rack, I was off on my travels again, this time on another three trains (not including my morning journey of two trains into Shepherd's Bush), which I think you can imagine without the use of gifs ... oh, what the heck:

this time oop north (all right, oop Midlands) to Shropshire:

to visit friend and former teacher Jo (of Brighton-visit fame of yore). Jo is currently living near Wellington, and in close proximity to some inspirational woodland:

{One of a handful of stone seats
in a well-manicured clearing}

complete with a rather glorious little lake, and who doesn't like a lake?! We took a leisurely walk around on the Saturday, trying to work out where the best light was, and trying to glean photographic inspiration.

After lunch, I put myself at the willing mercy of Jo and our combined makeup collections. Jo is putting on a production of A Christmas Carol at her school, and I was more than happy to be her practice model for a ghostly and ethereal makeover inspired by Pinterest (though, mostly ghostly -- I do not possess the youth and requisite sylph-like-ness to be truly ethereal. Plus, I lack the whole Being Tilda Swinton thing. Sadly).

{Photo by Tim Walker | via here}
And, if you were wondering what QB might look like in 70 years' time (!), here's a sobering glimpse.

When I am an old ghoul, I shall wear purple ... (to paraphrase Jenny Joseph):

{Photo by Jo}
{Photo by Jo}

{Don't have nightmares ... | Photo by Jo}
{Outtake -- how to get talc out of one's hair! | Photo by Jo}

We then moved on to a more futuristic, surrealist, David-Bowie-Aladdin-Sane vibe, also inspired by shots we'd compiled on Pinterest:

{above photos via here and here // not original sources}

{Photo by Jo}

As the above photo will attest, while the outcome was a lot of fun (those blue eyebrows belong on the face of the future, people -- and fyi that electric blue comes courtesy of an eyeshadow pencil from NYC cosmetics @ Superdrug:

{pencil is shown far right | photo from here}

should you want to replicate this look), it wasn't working in a natural setting.

We needed something more clinical, more surreal, something like ...

{Photo by Jo}
a mirror backdrop.
{Photo by Jo}

{Photo by Jo}
{Photo by Jo}
Having scrubbed the face, and part of my own face, off with brute force, I then took to the camera to take some shots of my own, notably more quotidian than Jo's, of my host herself:

The following morning, bright and (maybe a leettle too) early (I was not feeling my usual ebullient morning-person self, that's fo' sho'), we headed back out to the woods with three mirrors in tow, as yer do, to experiment with light and reflections within nature.

The light was magnificent, but the magic only really truly happened (I think) when we discovered this hollowed-out tree ... (also, I think the coffee finally kicked in about then, and I woke up and upped my photography game.)

We also took more photos around the lake, trying to emulate the spirit (but not the minxy eroticism -- pretty sure the anglers wouldn't have banked on this view from their jetties ...) of photos such as this:

{via here // not original source}
but the light may have been a little too bright for the reflection shots we needed**. Still, Jo captured these two, which I love. But not in a narcissistic way, you understand.

(**Plus, all that coffee had kicked in and, well, you don't need to know the biological implications.)

Pinterest Pin of the Week

{I hear ya, Lucy...}

Weekly Web Finds

Oh yes ... I had some Finds.

I had three weeks' worth of flippin' Finds.

... I lost most of them.


It's quite all right though, as most of you lovelies skim them anyway. ;-)

All that remains is:

  • this excellent clip of John Rutter on the importance of choral singing (thanks to Charlie):

  • this mind-blowingly beautiful cover of song-of-the-week Hold Back the River by this group, M.O., (also, thanks to Charlie):

  • Oh! This absolutely stomach-achingly brilliant Musicless Music Video to Dancing in the Street.

(Hello and welcome to this week's instalment of "Padding your blog posts with excess adjectives" with me, QB ...)

Sorry about that little interlude.

Watch 'em all, I tell thee -- but only the decent ones created by a chap called Mario Wienerroither -- anything else is a poor imitation:

{That's clearly the Overground: our struggles have been realised}

  • Need this in my future:

{with thanks to Angie B}
And finally ... these.

  • PUG PUPPIES. So much of cute. Too much of cute.

Well, it looks like I managed to restore much of the lengthiness in spite of Friday night's uber-glitch. Excellent.

Will try to restore some semblance of normality in time for next week ... we'll see. We shall see.

qb xx

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