Thursday, 25 April 2013

Window(sill) Of Opportunity

Some of the goodies from the USA.
More, in detail, to come!
Z xx

Monday, 22 April 2013

Goodbye To Another Rock Goddess
I only knew the band name and the song, but The Telegraph has reported the death of Chrissy Amphlett, the Divinyls lead singer.
At the young(-ish) age of 53, the age I will be this year, it sort of brings you up with a start. She had breast cancer and due to also having MS could not have radiation treatment. Life can be bloody cruel.
But, oh, that voice and that song. Takes me back, and as it plays on repeat as I type this it brings a smile to my face.
There is a great article from this blog too!
Enjoy the video.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

He's My (American) Man

He's travelled a return journey of 26 miles, twice, on public transport, to pick up some make-up brushes that I wanted and aren't available over here, (but only this week there's been blurb that they're going be released in the UK on 20 May).
He's gone into Victoria's Secrets and bought me lotions and potions.
He's trawled round various places to find certain magazines.
He's been to Hell and back when my depression was at its' worst.

And he comes home from Norfolk, Virginia on Tuesday.
Z xx

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Record Store Day 2013

Vintage Vixen wrote that her partner, Jon, would sit in their kitchen and contemplate the 'Girl on a Motorcycle' poster, from the film of the same name starring Marianne Faithful.
The book of the film, although with a different cover, was in the middle of the display  of paperbacks when I once again visited the Record Store.
Tucked between Bruce Lee and the David Bowie Story, Marianne Faithful stood like a leather-clad jewel in the crown.
But my eye was on a different prize. Jayne Mansfield's 'Wild, Wild World', which I thought would not only be a good read, but the cover would also make a great T-shirt. I asked the Record Store owner if I could take a photograph of the book display, because it looked so good.
"Of course you can", he replied. " A lot of people don't bother to ask."
The owner seemed a lot more upbeat than on my previous visit. It was good to see him. Wearing a dark velvet jacket, he was busy cataloguing singles as the '13th Floor Elevators' played in the background. He smiled as I said I would take the Jayne Mansfield book.  
"Not many people know who Jayne Mansfield was these days", he said. The opening credits to 'The Girl Can't Help It 'came to mind, but I just smiled back.
"I see that you've sold that copy of 'Aladdin' by Cliff Richard and the Shadows" I said, having looked through the 'Soundtrack Section.'
"I may've put it in the 'Cliff  Richard Section'" he replied, retrieving it in an instant.
"I've got to take that" I said.

I left with a copy of  'Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp' ( a mono recording of a pantomime performed at The London Palladium, for which 'the Shads' wrote the music) and a paperback full of Hollywood glamour about a woman with a heart-shaped swimming pool.
I'm not sure if Jayne Mansfield's 'Wild, Wild World' has made it onto Kindle yet?
As for the vinyl...I can't wait to hear Side 2, Track 4, 'Genie With the Light Brown Lamp.'

A Guest Blogger Post from Mr B

Friday, 19 April 2013


A great picture, summing up a great time!
Thanks, Pearl.
Z xx

Thursday, 18 April 2013

What A Difference A Year Makes

This was the blossom tree outside the dentists' on the 21 March last year. It was barely in bud this week!
This is the view from the other window, overlooking a doctors' surgery. But of more note is all the positive words that are written on the window. I like my dentists. The dentist is great and the dental nurses are jolly. I've been going here for probably 10 years and most of the staff have been there all that time. A sign of a 'happy ship', I think.
So, I have a much happier mouth now, thank goodness! No need for an anaesthetic jab, so no numbness or dribbling messiness!
An added bonus on the same day - Pearl was passing through Northampton. After a quick phone call, I shot out of the house to meet her at the railway station for a quick coffee and a gab. She has lots of exciting things happening; not my place to spill the beans but pop over to her Facebook page or Blog to find out what's happening.
As she was about to go I mentioned once again I hadn't taken any pictures, (too busy gassing!), and Pearl took a quickie on her phone. I haven't seen it properly, so I'm not sure how well it came out. I nearly always look like shite in group photos, well, most photos, so who knows!
I thought the weather was too good to be true and sure enough I had to dash out in hailstones to rescue my washing this afternoon! The TV weather girl is on as I type...drier, brighter, a bit cloudy. Covers just about every base then!!
What's it doing in your neck of the woods?
Z xx

Monday, 15 April 2013

'ooops!' Reader Be Warned...

This time last week I was 'recovering' from having my 'noo-nie',  (TOWIE-speak for 'lady garden' or whatever you prefer to call it!), examined. Well, to be precise, my bladder was checked out with a camera. I mean, how bloomin' clever is that? Should have asked if it could be filmed and then I could have uploaded it to my blog/youtube/everywhere and got a thousand hits!!!!
Forget the Tena Lady 'ooops' moments; I am fed up of wearing a pad the size of a small island and still have to change my lower half of clothing and wash the cushion covers. And sometimes I don't even know it's happening!!!  Aarrrrgh!
available from Amazon, here
I have done the Kegel exercise since I was a young 'un, when me and my mum used to religiously follow Richard Hittleman  (with the amazing Lyn Marshall), doing yoga on the telly (I even have his book).  So, having ascertained there is nothing wrong, (phew!), I have gone with the recommendation of my surgeon and invested in 'Vaginal Cones'! I won't go into an explanation of what they are, sure you can work it out for yourselves, but he gives them a big thumbs up(!), so I'll give them a go. I tried them out when they arrived and wasn't keen, but I think it was a bit too soon after the 'exploration'! There is also a new drug out that he thinks may do the job. He said it is possible that I have got used to the one I am on, as this was brilliant at first and then again when the dosage was upped, but it cannot be upped any higher! So, menopause?, nerves?, Heaven knows, but hopefully, improvement will occur. Or it might just all settle down again of its' own accord. Who knows?? 
So, anyway, that's the bottom half sorted out, so to speak!
Still need to go back to the hospital for repeat blood tests as the last ones weren't 'fresh' enough! No, I don't understand that either, particularly as I saw the nurse who did it take them to the lab straight away. How much 'fresher' can I make it? (Maybe he stopped off for a 3 course meal on the way???)
Back to the dentist tomorrow, for the final stage of my root canal treatment, thank goodness. Hoping that the antibiotic has done its' job, but going by the taste that keeps 'appearing' in my mouth, I am not so sure! Afterwards, I'm gonna treat myself to a trip to the Co-op near there for some yummy food stuff. Coriander and lime chicken, anyone?

Friday, 12 April 2013

Birmingham Royal Ballet set for a big change of scenery - Birmingham Culture - Life & Leisure from @birminghampost

 Birmingham Royal Ballet is off to America to perform and fly the flag for the city. Roz Laws discovers just what it takes to send a £1m show Stateside.

Technicians at Birmingham Royal Ballet load lorries with sets for Coppelia 

Technicians at Birmingham Royal Ballet load lorries with sets for Coppelia

For all the muscles that flex so impressively on stage, many more have been hard at work behind the scenes to bring a ballet to an audience.
And it takes even more effort if the ballet is being performed in Norfolk, Virginia, and you have to get 110 people and 2,000 items across the Atlantic.
It’s all elegance and beauty on stage, but it starts in the less than glamorous surroundings of an industrial estate in north Birmingham.
In a huge warehouse, men are loading scenery on to a 40ft long truck, with one of three containers to be shipped to America.
They will contain costumes, sets, backdrops, props, sound equipment, lighting, wigs, shoes, make-up, portable ballet barres, physiotherapy equipment and wardrobe equipment like steamers, irons, washing powder and sewing boxes.
In one container alone are 196 costumes on 31 rails, 215 pairs of boots and 10 wicker baskets of wigs and headdresses.
They will take up to three weeks to make the journey by sea freight and overland, allowing for customs clearances.
The items are all for the ballet Coppelia, which will be performed at the Virginia Arts Festival in Norfolk, US. It’s the Birmingham Royal Ballet’s third visit to the festival, which this time they are headlining.
Peter Wright’s Coppelia, an ever-popular enchanting celebration of love featuring magic and a living doll, will be danced three times from April 19 at Chrysler Hall. Dancers will also perform in schools to bring ballet to a whole new audience as part of BRB’s education work. 
The Coppelia costumes are stored in Dudley, in a climate controlled environment at a constant temperature.
But the scenery and props are stored in a anonymous-looking warehouse in north Birmingham, into which they expanded in 2000. I find a group of burly men loading the ‘flattage’ – large flat pieces of scenery. Some are beautifully painted but some are plain black. These will be used to create a false proscenium arch, a black frame downstage.
In the middle of the vast space, hanging from a ceiling that’s 30 feet high, is the ‘flown cherub dressing’ which comes down at the end of Act Three of Coppelia.
The warehouse is a treasure trove of props and objects, like an old, fabric covered chair from Sylvia that’s officially ‘dead’ – no longer needed in the production – but which isn’t really, because they never get rid of anything. Recycling is the buzzword here, so it might have another life in another show.
Over here is a large bell used in the Coppelia wedding scene, over there are parts of a garden set and the doll’s chair.
On a case is written Japanese calligraphy which means ‘This way up, do not tip’.
Doug Nicholson, head of scenic presentation, explains: “Because we don’t throw anything away, we are running out of space again. We are fortunate that most of our ballets are successful, so we need huge areas in which to store all the scenery and props for more than 100 productions.”
It’s not as if they are gathering dust, waiting for the next time BRB brings them out of storage to perform them. Far from it, as companies around the world hire them out at a ballpark cost of around £40,000.
Technicians at Birmingham Royal Ballet load lorries with sets for Coppelia
They use their own dancers but the production is very much a BRB one and an increasingly source of revenue for the company. They even fly Birmingham staff out to help out with tricky technical details – senior lighting technician Chris Hooley is on his way to Atlanta where Carmina Burana is being performed.
“They have a different voltage in the States,” he explains. “They run at half the voltage, which means lights appear dimmer. Sometimes that’s the effect we want but at other times we need huge transformers to up the voltage.”
This year alone, the National Ballet of Japan is hiring Take Five, Penguin Cafe and E=MC², and the Sarasota Ballet of Florida is staging La Fille Mal Gardee.
Four containers full of Romeo and Juliet scenery and costumes have been to Korea and are due to go to the Queensland Ballet in Australia and Uruguay next year.

Romeo and Juliet is a Kenneth MacMillan ballet, first performed by Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev in 1965. The choreographer was artistic director of the Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet, the forerunner of BRB, which was actually performing his Romeo and Juliet at its home at the Birmingham Hippodrome on the night he died in 1992.
Doug says: “Our Romeo and Juliet is especially popular abroad. We have other ballets like Checkmate which go back to the 1940s. We have ballets that other companies don’t have and our stock of British repetoire is unique.
“We have acclaimed Peter Wright productions of Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty, as well as Coppelia.
“Our current artistic director, David Bintley, is becoming a very sought-after choreographer so we’re increasingly hiring out his productions like Carmina Burana and Penguin Cafe.”
This version of Coppelia, first performed by BRB at the Hippodrome in 1995, has been to Japan six times and Germany twice.
It’s a £1 million production, including all the costumes, so everything has to be carefully looked after and constantly repaired.
BRB take their own cushioned dance floor with them, loaded last on to the trucks so it comes off first. They also ship their own ballet barres, as the company has daily classes. Normally in studios they would be against the wall, but on tour they hold the classes in the middle of the stage.
The dancers are expecting a warm welcome in Norfolk, where arts lovers are particularly impressed by the Royal in the BRB’s name. Having the Queen as a patron doesn’t do them any harm, while they also carry the City of Birmingham name across the world.
* Coppelia is also performed at Birmingham Hippodrome from June 4-8. For tickets ring 0844 338 5000 or go to

Friday, 5 April 2013

a... b... (s)... c

A nasty, smelly, pus-y abscess in my mouth.
Still, with 2 trips to the dentist in one week (eek!), and another booked for 10 days time, for final root canal work (double eek!), along with another course of antibiotics and everything should then be back to being rosy in the old mouth department! 
For all people seem to really baulk at root canal work, the worst bit for me is having the X-ray taken; that horrible, hard plastic holder that you have to bite on, that really makes my gum hurt! So, if a dentist should say 'root canal' to you I wouldn't run to the hills. This is my second time in about a year, so I DO know what I'm talking about!!
Beautiful sunny Tuesday
But, it did also mean 2 trips to the lovely café in Abington Park, where the Fair was held, (that I didn't get to).
Overcast Thursday
Mr B had 'time off in lieu' so was with me on both trips, so that was fantastic. But what a difference 24 hours makes.
chilly billy
First outing of the creepers, which were the comfiest footwear imaginable!
Mr B is back at work today but has the weekend off, (hurrah!), and is flying out to Washington soon, to go to an Arts Festival in Norfolk, Virginia. OK for some, eh?
Must take up the jeans he wants...they've been hanging around forever, so, that's my job for the weekend.  What have you got planned? Let me know!
Z xx