Discover my sagas and cosy crimes

Monday, September 26, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Books I read on my holidays

I've just returned from summer holidays here and while whiling away the hours by the pool, got through some cracking books, as below.

Below Stairs, by Margaret Powell.
A 1968 autobiography of a woman who worked as a kitchen-maid and then a cook in service in the UK during the 1930s and 40s. The book's been re-released on the success of TV shows like Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs and is well worth a read.  Very good indeed, I'd give it 8/10.

Mary Ann in Autumn, by Armistead Maupin.
What's to say? If you're a fan of the Tales of the City books, like me, you'll love it, and it'll have you in tears at least once.
Excellent. Unmissable. 10/10.

Zero History, by William Gibson
Another cracking novel from the man who termed the word 'cyberspace'.  Who wouldn't want to be the coolest heroine in a novel this century, Hollis Henry?  Wonderful, 9/10.

Player One, by Douglas Coupland
Interesting, intriguing and it makes you think.  Another good one from Coupland.  Very good indeed, 8/10.

Reelin' Back The Years, by Mark Radcliffe
Good and enjoyable but sometimes a bit anoraky about the music - I skipped pages of Genesis and Yes.  Otherwise a great read, easy.  7/10

Friday, September 23, 2011

What I did on my holidays

Spent the first day back from holiday drinking lashings of tea (because they don't make it properly over there) and catching up with Coronation Street.  Oh, and uploading the holiday photos to flickr for public consumption. 

Have a look at them here.

Lost in translation

Just back from a wonderful two week holiday in Spain. The resort we stay in is robustly Spanish, with only approx. 5% of the visitors being English, so it's little surprise that restaurant and cafe menus aren't translated into English.  It's half the fun of the holiday sitting over a vino tinto or cerveza trying to decipher the Spanish menu into English with the help of a dictionary.  But some of the cafes do try to make an effort and in one of the very few that had the menu in English, we came across this rather odd translation.  Well, it's not really odd as the English word for the Spanish "pijama" is indeed, "pyjama". And so if anyone knows what Pjyama With Cream actually tastes like, I'd love to find out!

And this second picture was taken for the very simple reason that Farton is a funny word in English. Well, it made me laugh and of course I had to try one. I can therefore confirm that a Farton is a soft, sweet, stick of pastry that you poke in your horchata.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Stags and Hens at South Shields Customs House

To The Customs House at South Shields last night to see Willy Russell's comedy, Stags and Hens.  It's a cracking venue, can't recommend it highly enough and had dinner before the show in the Bistro, which was ace. An excellent night out and my first chance to see canny lass Corinne Kilvington acting on stage as Maureen.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Wedding makeover: Bobbi Brown vs Boots

When you're a woman of a certain age (and by you, I mean me) and you hardly ever wear make up, knowing you're going to be photographed and gawped at for a whole day next month finally propelled me into the make-up artist's chair for what they call a make-over. I call it slapping on a load of gunge and trying to grin and bear it, but whatever floats your boat. Call it what you will.

So, makeover number 1 - which I've blogged about here.
One of the professional make-up artists on a TV show I'm familiar with advised me to go to Bobbi Brown.  I'd heard of them, so that was a start.  I schlepped over to Newcastle with my sister in law for moral support and to look after my handbag. Well, you never know. The make-up artist was the same age as me, so that was a promising start, and to be fair, she didn't once try the hard sell, which I was expecting.

She explained in clear and easy terms what she was going to do, what she was doing, and what she'd done. She encouraged me to hold and use the mirror to see exactly what was happening every step of the way. She concealed things that needing hiding, corrected things that were deemed wrong, and laid a wonderful base of mortar and cement for the colour to go on the top. I was impressed but also, I looked somewhat blank.

Ok, so she'd taken away the redness from that bit on the end of my nose that's always, always red. But she'd also taken away any colour in my cheeks. I was a blank slate ready for the colour to go on. And go on it did. I had red rosy cheeks, which we had to tone down as I felt like I looked like an Aunt Sally doll. But the best bit of the makeover was the way she did my eyes, all smokey and grey with black eyeliner in places I've never worn it before. With lips all done, I was ready after about almost an hour. My sister in law kept nodding encouragingly and the final effect was rather lovely, I have to admit.

But after I'd slid off the chair and done a bit of shopping, the heavy foundation started to 'melt' and every time I caught sight of myself in a mirror in the shopping centre, all I could see was a drag queen looking right back, and by 'eck, she wasn't happy.
The make-up came off as soon as I got hom. Or at least, I tried to take it off but the eyes wouldn't change. The mascara remained, the eye-liner stuck and it was mid-day of the following day when I finally felt like I had a clean face.

I'm not knocking Bobbi Brown, I just don't think it was the right kind of make-up for my kind of skin and for the kind of look that I had in mind. The make-up artist was excellent and I was very impressed with her knowledge, caring attitude and expertise.  And another good thing about Bobbi Brown, which I shall most definitely be using, is their YouTube How-To videos.

Makeover number 2

Walked into Boots this morning to be met by a very young woman at the No. 7 counter who looked like she was fresh out of school. But boy, did she know her stuff.

I told her what I wanted and that I was familiar with No. 7 cosmetics as I'd used them all my life and that all I wanted was her advice on colours I should use.  I was hoping to cut and run without having to suffer another makeover all over again. But she really was good, encouraging me to sit down and giving me the full going over. I was putty in her hands. She brushed, she painted, she put stuff on, all stuff that I've used before in the past, that I knew worked for me from a brand that that had covered up my spots and blemishes, painted my face since 1978.

She choose my colours carefully, and the end result was a much more natural look than I'd had at Bobbi Brown. It was still slightly heavier than I would have liked but at least I know what to put where now, what colours to use, what to do when. The plan now is to practice with all my new toys - yes, I did end up buying the make-up and brushes, spending more in one transaction today than I've spent on make-up in the last 12 months.  And with practice comes perfection, which isn't the look I'm aiming for on my wedding day. I just want to look like a really nice me.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Coronation Street Weekly Update, September 5 2011

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week there was carnage on the cobbles.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Nigel Slater

I've blogged about Nigel Slater before and I'm about to blog about him again.  His spinach and mushroom lasagne has proved to be a dream, easy to make and delicious to eat. And for someone like me who isn't that great in the kitchen, he even tells you when to expect black smoke to billow from the pan so you know you're actually not doing something wrong, the food's supposed to do exactly that. 

Nigel Slater, eh? If he didn't already exist, you'd have to create him.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Lipstick, powder and paint

I had my first ever make-over today.  Not one to usually wear make-up, I found the experience unusual, to say the least. And although it was done by a professional in an upmarket make-up concession of an upmarket department store, I still came out feeling that I looked like a drag queen on speed. Which wasn't really the look I was aiming for.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In

To the flicks this week to see the new Pedro Almodovar film, The Skin I Live In.  I'm a  huge fan of Almodovar and have seen all of his films either at the cinema or on DVD.  The new film is fantastic, absolutely wonderful and I can't rate it highly enough. My lovely man has blogged about Almodovar on his own blog here and it's most definitely worth a read.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Toots and the Maytals at Newcastle 02 Academy

To the Newcastle 02 Academy last night to see Toots and The Maytals. Cracking gig but my gig etiquette is cruelly outdated.

So, gig go-ers, just what is the etiquette here? You're at a gig enjoying yourself, dancing your socks off and singing along and some person right in front of you decides to take pictures on their phone and puts their phone right slap bang in your line of vision so all you can see is their phone and not the gig for a few minutes.

Is this normal and to be expected at gigs these days or is it ok to move their arm and phone out of the way and say 'Oi! I can't see' - which is what I bloody well did?! 

Or am I just turning into a grumpy old woman?  Answers on a postcard, please.
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