Wednesday, 16 February 2011


One of the houses behind us has security lights borrowed from Guantanamo Bay; they have had lots of trees cut down including a beautiful (evergreen) holly tree and suddenly we are no longer shielded from interrogation! From 5.30pm these lights pierce through all our curtains/blinds (with white, blackout linings) flashing on and off right through the night as any creature (neighbours tell us the 'Lighthouse' family have 3 cats!) moves through their garden. Our guests screech with fright and drop their sherry on the kitchen table in surprise as the searchlights flash on; we leap awake at 5-6.0 a.m. as nocturnal felines come home? By breakfast our Weetabix and porridge (good for the heart provided you don't experience cardiac arrest as a result of the Gestapo beams) are highlighted as flashers flick on and off. H1 has been round to chat but they claim none of this happens; my little, basic, pink camera does not do these 'alien-heralding' lights justice......

We have been advised of legal letters but we get on so well with all our lovely neighbours at the front, that I really don't want to go to the letter stage- but I am scared to go round to knock on their door! However dark circles on us all dictate that I must pluck up courage at some point. Oh heck!

The show must go on!

I am green with envy! Bijou Raconteur has married her (new) job with her writing.... but then I don't work at my writing really- not even a night class... and someone told me my blog was a bit bland- really? I try not to be too controversial and try not to point the finger at too many people personally incase I get a nasty rebound but the comment has made me think.

A week of POSH rehearsals then performances followed by the after-show party has drained us all; returning the hall to a thousand times cleaner than the one our inclusive drama group inherited , was rewarded by an evening 'Putting on the Ritz'; Anton (du Beke) and Erin (Boag) from 'Strictly Come Dancing' strutted at the Sage; so eyecatching and glitzy with shakers, movers, crooners, big band, costumes and ballroom.

(Talking of crooners - click on him to see my robin singing his heart out? Oh the joy of a garden in spring!)

I have been so looked after recently. H1 and I met up with friends at Corbridge but first J. fed us a B&B best English brunch to fortify us before the walk- of course we popped in for crumpets at Cafe 6 in the market place later- as always, purely in the interests of supporting rural economy! Duty calls....

S. entertained us in a large and lovely group of friends for a magnificent lunch; I really must think about doing more entertaining. I seem to make the same meals all the time now.... and when I think of all the entertaining I used to do....

I was able to wear my best frock (well a long gown which hid the figure) at St. James' Park on Thursday night for the Rag Ball... Northumbria Rag has passed all previous years with £27,000 raised for charity this year.

I have experimented with a dry, sunless, shaded patch of soil and planted a climber (dead?), a clematis (looking poorly when I last saw it!) snowdrops and a skimmia; my skimmia and snowdrops have flowered! Nothing else has ever survived the arid conditions but of late I have thrown bowls of washing up water over the patch .....

We don't venture 'south of the water' often but friends arranged a meet in Weardale; today made me wonder why we don't head for 'the Land of Prince Bishops' more often! The glorious February sunshine absorbed just a little of the clarts; my boots have been scrubbed in order to excavate them from 2 inches of mudcake ; we plodged much of the time but breathing deep revives me a little after so many sleepless nights.

(Doubleclick on the photo and see if you can find the heron!)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

News flash!

An orange Northumbria RAG balloon has been found in Germany! Email says it was found just north of Berlin; didn't I say the wind would have it over Europe by teatime!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

John 'Jack' Simpson Kirkpatrick

I deliberately set up a new post for this comment as I would like people to find it! My glass is always optimistically half full and never half empty!

The Ladies have walked from ferry and Metro stations in South Shields towards Ocean Road, the park, the Leas and Souter Lighthouse so many times... and each time in the pedestrian precinct I have stopped to read the citation on the statue of the Man with the Donkey; John Simpson has always intrigued me so when I saw a play entitled by the same name at the Custom House I booked.

He is a son of South Shields but one of Australia's national heroes; a bit of a lad who as a kid worked with donkeys on the sands at Shields.... he joined the merchant navy to get a job & send money home; Jack Kirkpatrick jumped ship in Australia where he worked for some years then , thinking he might get back to Blighty via the ANZAC forces, he joined a medical corps under the name of John Simpson (his mother's maiden name) and ended up in the hell that was Gallipoli. He and a donkey he found (Duffy) plied the cliffs bringing wounded Empire (including British, Australian, Indian, and New Zealand) soldiers down to the safety of the beach via places like Shrapnel Alley; he and Duffy carried the wounded for several weeks, night and day and with disregard for his own safety. Eventually he was machine gunned down. He is buried in Turkey.

There have been several attempts to get him a British V.C and/or an Australian V.C. but these have been thwarted.

I wonder is he taught about in Oz schools as they say? Apparently there are statues to 'The Man with the Donkey' in several Australian cities?

This is a great story and a brilliant production. I commend it and recommend it to you. The food in the Green Room was very good too.


We have lift off!

We watched hundreds of orange balloons bristling with tags, fly off in the wind from Northumbria University's two campuses to mark the beginning of RAG week; the balloons are collecting money for 'Raising And Giving' to 3 charities chosen by the students; today (& for the rest of the week) the RAG teams have been out on the streets and St James' Park football crowds.

I know it sounds soppy but my friends are wonderful when they rally round to support in cash or kind.

Newcastle United played the most exciting game against Arsenal drawing 4-4 after the most embarrassing start- Arsenal were 4 goals up in the first 26 minutes but what a second half!

Better than a gym workout!

....and cheaper too!

I have leaf-raked up 20 bags of beech leaves from the garden borders; I love it! I have spent 3 days in the garden dragging from border to lawn then scraping up copper-hued, crispy ,crunchy leaves and moss and stuffing umpteen of the hundreds of unused (but 'please use me for other things if you can not leave out the following items for our collection') charity bags then taking them to the recycling centre's 'garden waste' skip- they will be compost for the city soon!

My hard work has been rewarded by a revelation of all sorts of green spears peeping up above the soil under the carpet of leaves.

I have finished 'Blood Royal' by Vanora Bennett and the lives of Catherine de Valois and Owain Tudor shall be returned to H. soon; now I have started on Mary, Queen of Scots in Phillippa Gregory's 'The Other Queen'- a Christmas gift from H1.

After hoary, cold days we have had 'blue skies shining at me' in both garden and on the Ladies when we promenaded above the Long Sands at Tynemouth/Whitley Bay. Now we reckon we are getting the backlash of Queensland's cyclone as winds have brought down fences and branches. I hope I have not been premature in presuming winter is over and my birds no longer need blanketed borders and warm water in the bird bath!

H1 and I have been to see 'Black Swan'; all my days doing ballet and dragging him along to see dance.... (he disliked the white ballets but enjoyed 'The Nutcracker', 'Coppelia' and in particular loved (and laughed at)the Trocadero Ballet Company)...... but neither of us liked this film. Are we so oldfashioned that we find explicit sex scenes indiscreet and unnecessary?

I was invited to a wedding fayre at the Arena- such fun but such an eyeopener! 25 year old, size 8 models in outfits for 'Mother of the Bride'!! Honesty!?