Wednesday, 25 July 2012

My daughter, the queen

Well, wife of Zeus in the school play, anyway.

Regular readers may remember that I have made a LOT of costumes for school plays over the years. This year I made tunics for 15 villagers in the Christmas nativity so when Tall Small came home with a request for just one costume, I was very pleased. Particularly when I read that as Hera, it was suggested she wear a full length gold dress and a tiara. Just the kind of challenge I enjoyed and while I did have to buy the gold fabric (and let me tell you, cheap gold satiny stuff is the very devil to sew) I already had everything I needed to make her tiara. One very pleasurable evening's work produced this:

And another evening of sewing resulted in the full costume.

I was very pleased with this outfit, as was my lovely daughter, though I wasn't prepared for how grown up she would look with her crown on and her hair loose - and I also wasn't expecting her to be singing in a little group of 4, or doing a small dance. She had told me "she only had 4 lines" - talk about modesty!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Shhhh tickety, tickety dum

We have had the best evening in a long time. Weeks ago we saw adverts for a travelling open air production of The Railway Children to be performed by Heartbreak Productions at Wimpole Hall, our local National Trust house. I put off buying tickets, and thought I had made the right decision earlier in the week when the rain was sheeting down and parts of our village (including the school) flooded - which just Doesn't Happen in this part of East Anglia. My mood was as dark as the clouds overhead and frankly I just wanted to stay in bed and hide under the covers. The end of term school barbecue was postponed because nobody felt like sitting for three hours on a damp blanket shaking a fist at the sky and cursing.

But then today dawned bright and sunny and we decided that, blow it all, we were going to have an adventure. We packed a picnic. We set off early to Wimpole and joined a long queue and worried that we might not get in ... but we did. And oh, I am so glad we did.

I have strong memories of seeing the Railway Children on film as a child, and  I have read it to my children and played them the audio version on long summer car journeys but nothing comes close to the experience of seeing it on stage. The few glimpses I had of the audience on the other side of the station platform showed they were just as spellbound as we were. The set was astonishingly clever, the cast were funny and touching, and the audience joined in with making train noises, holding up bunting and at one point donating part of their picnics as presents for Mr Perks' birthday - my shy little girls jumping up eagerly to give away their chocolate swiss rolls with the rest.  As the night grew darker and the birds finally quietened down, the stage shone in the darkness of the garden while Bobbie uttered the heartbreaking "Oh, my Daddy, my Daddy!"; small children were clutched tightly in the arms of their parents and many of us could be spotted wiping away tears.

If the Heartbreak Productions tour comes anywhere near you I urge you to go along. If you were ever a child, and if you have even half a heart, you will have a magical evening.

Friday, 20 July 2012

The Monster Factory

Our house has been renamed by my daughters' classmates. It's nothing to do with the behaviour of my little angels. No, it's as a result of the bright idea I had to make pocket money treats for my stall at the school fair this summer. At Christmas I was asked over and over whether I had anything for 50p, and I didn't - my jewellery is reasonably priced (well, I think so) but it's not that cheap!

But I did have a big box of fimo, and I had been crocheting monsters as presents for a few of their friends so I thought, well, why not make clay monsters? They were cheap, easy and quick to make and I sold about 25 of them in short order. It's never going to make me rich but it covered the cost of the clay.

And that's when I made the fatal mistake of offering to make custom monsters - choose the colour, choose the expression. I seriously underestimated the imagination of your average 10 year old:

The most complex one so far has a purple mohican, curly green eyebrows, sunglasses and a peace necklace. Apparently his name is Cha Ching.

I still have a series of 6 to make for my elder daughter's best friend. And then the monster factory is CLOSED for the summer!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Our moment to shine?

So, the Olympic torch finally made its way to Cambridge this weekend. We decided that really, since we haven't got any Olympics tickets, this was our only chance to feel connected and we would go in to see it. This required elaborate, carefully timed planning as the girls had choir in the morning, then Tall Small had a party in the afternoon and we knew that roads would be closed and we'd have a half hour walk from our parking place into town. I was panicking, I will admit it.

In the end though, the gods of skin-of-your-teeth timings were smiling on us and we arrived at a soggy Parker's Piece in time to take up places right at the barrier where the torch would pass us. And we waited, and waited, and waited some more. Initially the girls were incredulous "We're really going to stand here for an hour and a half?!" but as the excitement levels (and crowds) grew they became happier, and there were just enough interesting people wandering up and down the path to keep them engaged.

The Coca Cola bus in the distance.

Then bang on time, the parade came along and before we knew it the torchbearer was running past us and we were all cheering. Unfortunately both our cameras chose that moment to have epic failures, and the best shot we have is this one: 

Come back! The hand holding the phone is mine. Sadly it turns out I wasn't actually videoing it ...

We did see the beacon being lit, and then after some more dancing about and flailing in the mud the flame was transferred into its little holding lantern and taken off to bed. And that was that. On the way back to the car I spotted the coach it was going to be travelling off in, and whipped out my poor old phone, which is more or less steam powered and by the time it had started a park & ride bus was in the way ...

But we have pictures in our heads, and memories that will last for years; and it taught us all the lesson to look at life through your eyes, not just through the lens of a camera because you can't predict the crucial moment it will let you down! 

Monday, 2 July 2012

Pink and blue

Yesterday dawned bright and clear in Cambridge - barely a cloud in the sky but not too hot. Pretty much a perfect day for which I was grateful and so were Tall and Tiny Small - we were Racing for Life! This was my fourth year, Tall's third and Tiny's second, and we had hats and water and suncream at the ready.

Waiting patiently for the off along with everyone else

I should come clean and admit that we were walking - I don't run, not even for buses, so I always turn up in walking shoes and make no pretence at athleticism - but that's OK, there's always a huge cohort of walkers. Tiny Small jogged a bit - she would have happily run the whole thing. I have no idea where she gets that from. At one point we met a lady in a wheelchair who was fighting her way over the bridge in Kings College, needing only the smallest assistance from many willing hands to get over the steep hump and across the rumpled up floor matting -  the point is, anyone can do it (well, unless they're a man), and it is an event like no other - astonishingly emotional, supportive, and very worthwhile because it can only be the very rare, very fortunate person who hasn't lost someone they know and love to cancer, or know someone who is currently fighting it. 

The route through Cambridge is beautiful - it's a lovely city anyway and when you are ambling along with 7500 women, children and the odd dog dressed in a pink tutu it's hard to beat it. We all had our faces painted and wore our medals with pride for most of the day. We're planning to do it again next year - will you?

The fence at the end where people pin their back signs - lists of the people they are racing to support, or in whose memory they have raced. It would take a stronger person than me to remain composed at the sight.

And in other news: frustratingly, my keyboard seems to be packing up one key at a time. The full stop is very unresponsive, and the d key is not much happier, which with my blog name is a bit of a pain ...