Andy and the Owls

So, staycationing.

So, Monday saw us heading into Birmingham for the day.

I say “we”, I actually mean youngest child, one of her friends and myself.

Oldest child heard the words “art gallery” and refused to leave his bedroom.

He still remembers our pre-Christmas trip to the Tate Modern

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Youngest child on the other hand was tremendously excited by the whole thing.image

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Boing.

And yes,  she was hyped up like this for the whole trip.

I slept well that night.

We headed to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for their “Love is Enough” exhibition.

Focussing on Andy Warhol and William Morris.

I would have included a photo but Copyright issues mean photography wasn’t allowed.

It’s an interesting exhibition but the exhibits are a bit sparse and I’m not convinced that there are enough parallels between the artists for it to be completely successful

But, it was interesting to see the works ‘in the flesh’

And Warhol is always a hit with the kids

I’m not really a huge fan myself, but I found with this exhibition that I really liked his line drawings

Especially Young Man With Heart

Birmingham is also currently being invaded by giant owl sculptures.

Random or what?

There is an Owl Trail, should you wish to track them all down

But we were happy just admiring the ones we stumbled across

Particularly Ozzy Osbourne’s slightly sinister gothic one.

Add in chocolate pizza (yes really) at Ask, and bubble tea for the journey home

and it was actually a rather nice day out.

Sun, sea and sand? Pah, who needs ’em?

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Memory and a Mystery

I’m surrounded by stuff at the moment.

Stuff from simultaneously decorating (& swapping)  2 childrens bedrooms.

Where did all this rubbish carefully chosen and looked after stuff come from?   I swear I haven’t seen most of it before.

Stuff from school as everything they have produced this year is spewed out of their classrooms and into the house.

And stuff that just seems to grow and accumulate of its own accord.

I cant move for stuff.

But

When Mum died and I had to clear out her room,  there was very little stuff left.

A big part of her Alzheimers was paranoia coupled with the irresistible compulsion to destroy her own property.

Letters

Clothing

Photos

Jewellery

All the stuff that she had tended for years,  that had lovingly been moved with her from place to place

Gone

And you know what?

It’s absolutely fine

At the end of the day it’s just stuff.  Stuff that was tied up with her story and her memories.   Not so much mine.

Except.

In her wardrobe

One item that stayed pristine.

Clean.

Not attacked by scissors

Or bleach

Or

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vinegar and lemon

I would guess  this was from the late 50s or early 60s.  I certainly never saw her wear it.

But the fact that this survived and was cherished when everything else was lost speaks volumes

An

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d it will be cherished still.

Even if it is just stuff.

Vroom

Happy Mothering Sunday!

Yesterday oldest child finally had his first driving lesson.

At 13.

They grow up so quickly these days don’t they?  🙂

But this was a birthday present.

Yep, the chance to hurtle through woods, plunge into bogs and scare passing paintballers.

In a 4×4 automatic LandRover.

Possibly the best present a 13year old boy could receive.  Ever.

Or so he said afterwards.

Before hand?



Slightly nervous.  🙂

The cars are all less than 18months old





Because that’s their life expectancy with 11-17 years old screaming around the track in first gear.

I didn’t ask about the life expectancy of the driving instructors.

I also didn’t realise that Andrew, Rosie and myself would be shoehorned into the back of the 4×4 to experience the drive with Jacob.

Otherwise I might have looked for a knitting experience for him instead.



See how nervous he looks there?  That’s nothing compared to how nervous the three of us in the back were looking.



But it was great fun.

Really.

And Jacob was remarkably self-possessed and good at handling the car.

Not distracted at all by the screams from the back.



He’s still not driving my mini though.

Reprieve

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It feels like spring is just about here.

Without winter really having shown its face at all.

A few frosty mornings.

A sprinkling of snow.

But already bulbs are staring to push through, and curling leaf buds appearing on some of the hardier (foolhardy) trees.

A dry day on Friday and we took our chance to explore close to home.

The beautiful Warwickshire countryside

Along country lanes

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Picking up a companion for part of the way

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Stopping at Chesterton church

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And pondering a “fixer-upper”

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A good day.

Endings

There are no “good” diseases.

But I think Alzheimer’s is one of the cruelest.

It doesn’t just attack the body

It eats away the essence of a person as well

Bit by bit

Pernicious.

Mum suffered with Alzheimer’s for several years.

But she fought it all the way.

Even when it was making her fight me, or her Carers, or Medical staff, or other patients.

Even at the end when she was fighting to say “I love you”.

But yesterday, it finally won.

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Ay Caramba

Youngest child has a new topic to research for school.

Mexico and the Aztecs.

Unfortunately, the opportunities for field trips to bring this particular topic alive are somewhat limited here in the depths of the Midlands.

And after spending several hours with her doing ‘research’ on Google, -which seemed to involve looking at countless pictures of guinea pigs wearing sombreros (yes, really), something a bit more hands-on and rewarding was needed.

If only to stop me prising my own eyeballs out…

So what is Mexico famous for?

Chocolate

And what better educational thing to attempt on a blustery January Sunday afternoon that Mexican hot chocolate?

Pour 500ml of milk into a pan and add 100g of grated plain chocolate, 2 tsp of vanilla essence and 1 tsp of honey.

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Heat the chocolatey, milky mixture – but do not boil.

Mix 1 tbsp of corn flour with 4tbsp cold water.

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When the chocolate has melted into the milk add the cornflour mixture to the pan and stir vigorously

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Once the chocolate has started to thicken, pour into mugs, sprinkle cinnamon on top and serve.

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And if you happen to have a Flake handy to dunk in the thick, hot, chocolatey gloop, well then, even better 🙂

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Yummy and educational.

Well the Aztecs did believe that chocolate was a gift from the god of knowledge, and who are we to argue?

🙂

Begin Again

Happy New Year!

The last few weeks have been a whirl of activities with family and friends.

Something had to give.

Which is why it’s been so quiet on the blog for the last month.

But I feel a renewed need to witter, a resolve to do more writing.

So here we are again 🙂

A few days before Christmas we took the kids to London.

It was my birthday treat so they had to do stuff that I wanted to do

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You can see how impressed oldest child was with my choices.

We started by dragging them around encouraging them to appreciate modern art at the Tate Modern.

The space is amazing.

The art was…..thought provoking? Conversation making? Interesting?

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I did like this guy. Very 1950s B movie.

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Weirdly I really liked this piece too.

Once a goth always a goth 🙂

Breakfast in the Tate Modern cafe overlooking the Thames was pretty good too

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And no impaled birds in sight.

We froze on the millennium footbridge, but it is a great spot to get a view over the cityscape

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I love how that photo is bookended by the Shard and the Globe 🙂

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Crepe time.

Just before I metamorphosed into Cousin It

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We were going to go into St Pauls but at £40 for a family ticket just to get in the building we decided that particular piece of cultural education would have to wait for another time.

Don’t get me started on money lenders and traders in the Temple.

Or how the Tate Modern, just over the bridge, was offering world class art for free.

Season of good will and all that 🙂

Then a matinee performance of Cats.

I know.

But Nicole Scherzinger as Grizabella?

Fabulous.

I went in a cynic. Stayed that way for the first 20 minutes. And then came out the other side absolutely amazed at the strength, range and beauty of her voice.

You go girl!

Birthday tea at the Vietcafe.

And a walk up Oxford Street

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There is something about London at this time of year that is just magical.

Party

We invited 35 friends to the grand kitchen unveiling at the weekend.

Only, the weekend before this one? the kitchen wasn’t actually quite ready to be unveiled.

And neither was the living room, which we decided to start redecorating a couple of weeks ago.

Because that’s a great thing to do when you’ve got masses of guests due to come to the house very soon.

So it’s been a bit of a whirlwind of nailing, sawing, painting and papering over the last ten days.

But I think we made it.

Just.

Or at least we were able to strategically place furniture in front of the bits that weren’t quite finished.

I think we got away with it.

Maybe 🙂

So Saturday was party day. A whirl of cooking and baking

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Triple layer Mississippi Mud Cake

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White chocolate and strawberry cheesecake.

And a lot more that I was too flappy to take photos of.

Squawk.

I make a very convincing headless chicken 🙂