strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
OK, last meme entry. And again, although Boxing Day was awful, thankfully Christmas Day itself was all right, so I can describe it fairly normally.

I actually began Christmas Day at my sister's house in Warwick, because she had invited me and her old sixth-form friend Duncan over for the evening to keep up our old tradition of toasting in Christmas together at midnight. We had a lovely evening of canapés, drinks and chat, and did our little toast together at midnight (me with raspbery and cranberry juice), even though we were all yawning by that stage. Then Duncan and I bid them goodnight and headed off in my car, under a bright starry sky and taking care to avoid the (very few) other cars and people whom we saw pursuing their own rather drunken-looking paths home. I crept quietly into my parents' house with the benefit of much practice acquired during my teenage clubbing years, and sank into bed.

The next morning, we all got up, had breakfast, got ready and headed back over again to my sister's house in Warwick for Christmas Day itself. We arrived around 11am, and sat down with a round of coffee while we showered Eloise with presents. She is one and a half now, and has very definitely become a little girl rather than a baby:

Eloise


She also genuinely manages to get even cuter every time I see her. The picture doesn't begin to capture that, because so much of it is about her lovely smiling animated face and her increasingly eloquent chatter, and nor does it even really show off the growing mass of blonde curls hiding at the back of her head. But I hope it gives some idea at least.

Eloise's presents )

Christmas dinner )

Adult presents and Christmas TV )

A decent day all told - and a jolly good thing too, given what followed. :-/

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strange_complex: (Sebastian boozes)
I get the impression it is more of a north American than an English thing. Our trans-Atlantic cousins' equivalent to mulled wine, I suppose. In fact, the only time I can recall actually drinking any was at a Christmas party hosted by the lovely [livejournal.com profile] redkitty23, who is indeed American. It seemed OK, but I haven't felt inspired to track any down since.

In the course of a quick Google to remind myself of what is in it, though, I stumbled across something called the Eggnog Riot, which was apparently sparked off in 1826 after some hot-blooded young cadets smuggled whiskey for making eggnog into an American Military Academy. I do feel that knowledge like that ought to be shared.

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strange_complex: (Me Art Deco)
Three years ago, I had just moved into my current house, and jointly celebrated that event and my 31st birthday with a 1920s and '30s-themed housewarming party. Lots of my friends and colleagues came along, as did some of the cheekier neighbourhood cats, and a marvellous time indeed was had.

This year, I decided it was time for a similar celebration to mark my 34th birthday (which is actually on Monday this year), but this time based around a barbecue and without the period theme. 'Cos dressing up is fun, but you can't do the same thing every time. A man turned up from Sainsbury's with eight boxes full of STUFF at 10 o'clock on Saturday morning, and I sprang into action - chopping vegetables, marinading meat, threading things onto skewers and (most importantly) mixing cocktails!

The weather looked decidedly shady for most of the day, but thankfully around 3pm rays of sunshine started to appear, and by the time my first few guests arrived the skies were blue and almost cloudless. My colleague's children ran around the garden while we got the barbecues going (two of them, because they were only diddy ones), and began grilling the first few burgers. And after that everything became a bit of a blur as people arrived, and handed me presents and cards, and I whirled around the place making sure everyone had drinks and introducing people to each other and so forth. But it was a very nice blur! I just have a kind of vague general impression of being surrounded by lovely people all being witty and sociable and exciting and beautiful all around me, and lots of hugs and laughter and (though I say it myself) delicious food and so forth.

Around 9ish it began drizzling a little, but that was OK really, as most people had finished with the barbecues by then, so we just carried on the party inside. An interesting spontaneous gender division occurred, as most of the ladies present ended up in the kitchen discussing various types of relationships, while most of the gentlemen were in the dining room discussing joke websites. But hey - both rooms seemed to be having an awesomely good time, so that is fine. Then around 11ish most of the further-flung guests decided it was about time they started their journeys home, so the scene shifted again to a more intimate gathering of myself, [livejournal.com profile] ant_girl, [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan and [livejournal.com profile] planet_andy, chilling out in the lounge discussing serial killers for another hour or so.

And now this morning, here I am browsing through last night's photos, eating delicious Belgian chocolates which somebody gave me and generally basking in the afterglow of a most excellent evening. Many thanks to everyone who came, and especially those who helped keep an eye on the barbecue, which I could not really have managed on my own alongside meeting and greeting everyone and generally being the charming hostess. I'm slightly delicate today, and unlikely to move terribly far from the sofa, but it was definitely all worth it. Give me another three years, and I might be ready to do it again... ;-)

Photos follow under the cut )

Oh, and if anyone wants the recipe for the marsala peaches we had, and on which I got several compliments, Delia is your lady. I shall be enjoying the few which were left over with my lunch today. :-)

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Weekending

Sunday, 18 July 2010 22:03
strange_complex: (Cities Esteban butterfly)
I've had a very lovely weekend, centred around a visit from my old chum [livejournal.com profile] hollyione (aka Amy), her very-nearly-six-year-old daughter Holly and her partner Pete. It's always nice to have guests, as it provides a great excuse to go off and do fun local things which you don't normally bother with on your own, and it's especially nice when those guests are such congenial people to have around. Amy, Pete and I seemed to spend most of our time joking, laughing and sharing our enjoyment of the various things we went to see and do, while Holly was extremely well-behaved - and of course also full of laughter, high-spirits and funny observations in the way that six-year-old children usually are.

Our main excursion was to the National Media Museum in Bradford - the same place that I go to for the Fantastic Films Weekend, but this time in its everyday capacity as a museum. I've looked around the exhibits a bit while there previously for the festivals, but they're more extensive than I'd realised, and really well-designed for children. We played vintage video and arcade games, looked at televisions, video recorders and cameras from the earliest days of TV to the present day, played around in a mock-television studio, pretended to read the news, messed around with strange mirrors and lighting effects, and watched an episode of Mr. Benn together - a nostalgia trip for the three adults, but a new discovery for Holly. Amy was amazed that it was all available to visit for free, and she was right - we're very lucky to have it.

Being out with a child certainly makes you see things in a different way )

Afterwards we wandered through a surprisingly sunny Bradford, where the locals were out and about enjoying a street market and a vintage car rally, and where Amy bought Prosecco while Pete was given a free two-minute Indian head massage. Then we returned home for dinner and a local cinema trip to see Shrek Forever After, which I shall write up separately, and which Holly seemed to enjoy. And today we indulged ourselves in the charity shops of Headingley, had a nice lunch together and walked home past some Scottish country dancers strutting their stuff at a school fête, before my guests had to pile themselves in the car and hit the road for the journey back home to Bristol.

I should add that in the evenings while little Holly slumbered upstairs, we adults settled down with Prosecco and G&Ts to enjoy some more grown-up activities. Well... slightly more grown-up, anyway. We played a few rounds of Eat Poop You Cat, for which I owe a huge debt to [livejournal.com profile] whatifoundthere for alerting me to the game's existence. Unlike her, I can't scan our efforts, because my scanner is currently bust, but I can tell you that we collectively managed to transform the simple phrase "Highway to Hell" into the sentence, "You can listen to great music along the road to hell, but the reception on your car radio may be affected by lightning storms", and also "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" (Amy's contribution, not mine!) into "Dog punt atom mother".

We also watched a couple of episodes of Blake's 7 - though unfortunately not starting with the first one, which would have been the most logical for me, as it was missing from Amy's box-set. That meant that it took me a while to tune in to the characters, but by the end of the second episode I'd definitely warmed to Cally, Jenna, Avon and Vila (for rather different reasons in each case). I also appreciated the way that the stories didn't always end neatly or happily in the same way that they do on Doctor Who (not that I dislike that in Who - but it's nice to see a different approach). I've still got a lot of Doctor Who to watch (and write up for that matter), but I'm definitely up for some more Blake's 7 at some point.

So, yes - a great weekend. I'm a bit physically tired now, but mentally refreshed and ready to face the week. Wonder if that will last into tomorrow morning? ;-)

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May morning

Monday, 1 May 2006 07:58
strange_complex: (Wicker Man sunset)
We totally made it through the night: me and Spiky Neil playing Worms and Puzzle Bobble, and then [livejournal.com profile] oxfordgirl joining us for the ritual viewing of The Wicker Man, and by then it was 4am and time to start phoning people like [livejournal.com profile] redkitty23 and [livejournal.com profile] stompyboots to chivvy them up and out for meeting at the tower.

It rained, but the freshness was perfect, and we walked in clutching sprigs of cherry blossom, me feeling more alive and alert than I think I've ever felt on May morning before, despite having been in such a state of extreme tiredness on Saturday that I was seriously afraid I was about to suffer internal organ failure or something.

And we had the best spot ever, right at the base, and when the Hymnus Eucharisticus rang out, I gazed up through the rain at the impossibly looming tower, held my blossom aloft and felt the hush and the still and the awakening summer all around me, and remembered all the previous times and the powerful magic of the morning and cried softly to think I might never be there again.

And then it was a damp picnic and dancers in the Radcliffe Camera Square, and some guy taking pictures of me and [livejournal.com profile] oxfordgirl laughing and waving our blossoms, and a physical manifestation of Apollo, and champagne and free hot chocolate and giggling at the extreme spaced-outness of [livejournal.com profile] stompyboots, [livejournal.com profile] edling and Cat WINOLJ.

And then it was home, and crash and burn, and my fingers feel like putty now on the keyboard. I think I may possibly need to sleep for a very long time, very, very soon.

But I'm so glad I did it, because I LOVE OXFORD. And it tears my heart to think I must leave it all behind. :(

This post brought to you by sleep deprivation and Piper Heidseick champagne.

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