England expects that every man will do his duty
Packed full of nuts, Sev really satisfies
If everybody looked the same, we'd get tired of looking at each other
Windows to my world
Don't paint the town red
Assume you owned a house in a populated residential area (where lots of people are going to see it). If you were free to paint it any color you wanted, which would you choose? Would you go for traditional, fun, wild? What do you think people would assume about you by your choice?
When I first saw this question I thought they were referencing the red and white striped house
from a few months ago. Then I remembered that it'll have been written by an American who has probably never even heard about that story, but who lives in a country where painting your house is perfectly normal.
We were, as far as I'm concerned, lucky to be able to buy a house which doesn't require painting. There's no render on our house at all, it's all bare brick. Whew. I think one house we looked at was part rendered - we live on a pretty typical 90s estate with a mixture of house designs and maybe 5% of them have some or all of upstairs rendered. Partly I can't be doing with the hassle, but also I just don't like how it looks. White looks pretty against red or reddish brick, until it gets grubby at which point it just looks bad. Round here a lot seem to pick a 'sandstone' colour which I think looks bloody awful. And those seem to be the only colours you get. I know when we were buying masonry paint (not for the outside, but to paint inside our garage which had bare breeze block walls) your choices were basically white, off white, sandstone... and then I think deep red, green and blue. No idea why those three! (Fwiw I'm sure our garage at the old house had a red floor.)
We got lucky. I think our house is quite pretty, for a 90s estate. In fact it's one of the reasons we picked it - some of the houses here are really oddly unbalanced. We've got a mix of yellow and pinkish brick, with terracotta detailing. (One of the things I like about this estate - they used a number of colours of bricks even within a single street, so the houses look more varied.)
That said, if I lived in a country where they make houses from wood... Hmm. I was very much charmed by all the colourful houses we saw in New England last autumn. In fact, there was one in particular in Boston, just down from the Bunker Hill Monument as I recall, which I thought was stunning. To the point that it strengthened my resolve to bring similar colours into our bedroom. Seriously. I can't find a picture now, but it was dark grey with white trim, and some light grey too. It was so striking.
But I think it would look silly on my typical English brick house.
When there's big news on, I do hate not being at work. I feel so disconnected without access to Wires, Network talkback and other magical systems we have to keep across things.
I normally try to work the overnight shift on elections, and did indeed volunteer to do so this year. But as there isn't one this year (the first result for our region came in at 4am, so you can understand why) I'm at home. At least I'm not on the shift starting at 7am so I am able to stay up and watch. (Not going to lie, 5 years ago I still stayed up despite having to be in to output a programme at 9am!)
So I'm doing my best to stay across it all at home instead:
It'll have to do.
And as I upload that photo my constituency is being announced on the radio... Only 70 minutes later than it was expected. Yay, I can go to bed now. (Not that it was in doubt or anything.) I mean, I'm taking the laptop to bed with my earphones, but I think at this point I'll drop down to only one source. Maybe ;0)
So much universe, and so little time
Here's to many more
Our New Year's Eve tradition is to cook a nice meal, pop the telly on (generally Graham Norton's New Year's Eve show and then Jools Holland's Hootenanny) and do a jigsaw puzzle. Generally the full 1000 pieces in one night.
We're seriously hardcore, is what I'm saying.
I realised earlier that this is, hopefully, the first of very many such New Year's Eves in our lovely house. I hope in 5, in 10, maybe even in 20 years we'll still be sitting here (hopefully not on the same sofa) doing a jigsaw and seeing in the new year in our own, low-key but meaningful way. It's a tradition we sort of stumbled into accidentally but it's us and we love it.
I hope whatever you're doing, you're doing something you love with your loved ones tonight.
My constant soundtrack
At work we sometimes have to play trails out for our local audience - both before/after the news and in random junctions throughout the day. Generally they're for one of our regional programmes or for local radio, or ahead of the Olympic Torch Relay we played ones advertising when it was coming to our patch. In the run up to a sporting cup final, the relevant regions can expect to play the trail for it a lot of extra times because obviously the event's of more interest there than elsewhere.
And sometimes we run trails to emphasise that certain dramas have been made in the North. (As a rule of thumb, the further you get from London, the lower approval ratings for the BBC are. A lot has been done to combat this - on the grander end of the scale, the mass-movement of departments from London to Salford, on the smaller end of the scale, we run the odd 40" trail saying "oh hey, we're totally filming things Where You Live". The first one, in my opinion, was rather unfortunately full of gritty dramas which did little other than reinforce the stereotype that it's grim up North, but it has improved since then.)
So anyway at the moment we're upweighting (yes, really) the trail for a programme called Remember Me. As a consequence, I'm seeing it a LOT. Which means that I keep getting Scarborough Fair stuck in my head. Which is no bad thing, though the trail does irritate me because they take the music out for a bit, and when they bring it back it's not in the right place but my brain tries to fill the gap in every. single. time. Mrrr. (Unfortunately the 20" version we're playing doesn't appear to be on Youtube, just the 40"
- which I'm not sure I've ever seen Txed. The song's jump is less annoying in this one.)
And when I don't have that stuck in my head, I have another song. I recently changed a frequently used password to be based upon lyrics from one of my all-time favourite songs. So every time I log in, the song gets stuck in my head. Good job I picked a song I adore.
What a difference a decade makes
10 years ago yesterday (or tomorrow, depending how you look at it) Guido flew to Helsinki to visit me for the weekend.
When I first floated the idea, he said he had no leave left. I had done my research though, and knew the 1st of November (a handy Monday) gave him a long weekend. Then he said no cheap airlines flew Fri-Sun, and the flag carriers would be too expensive. And I'd done that research too, and pointed out that Finnair was only around €100 (those were the days!) So, his defeatism beaten by my logic, he agreed to visit.
(If we have kids, we're going to have to very carefully retcon our origin story to remove some of my more stalkery moments.)
My parents had been visiting in the week running up to his visit. In Dad's Father of the Bride speech he said that it had been clear to them how much more excited I was by Guido's imminent arrival than by their present presence.
It was, I think, that weekend that I fell in love.
Some couples will always have Paris. We'll always have Helsinki.
Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome, zu NYC, au NYC, to NYC
So what did you do with your day today Emma?
Oh, you went to see the Sam Mendes version of Cabaret, starring Alan Cumming, which you've wanted to see for over a decade and thought you would never get the chance to without a time machine set to the 1990s?
Well, I suppose that must have been awesome?
(Why yes, yes it was.)
Ok by me in America
Hi America! I'm in your country, eating your ridiculously calorific food!
On Wednesday we're going WHALE WATCHING :0D So excited! We had dismissed the idea as being too expensive, and the guarantees you'll see something as not good enough (what use is a free trip in the next three years when you live 5000 miles away). But our hotel here in Boston had a load of vouchers for money off the different ones, so we've picked the one which works best (and their guarantee, if you don't see a whale, is that you have a lifetime to come back - which I imagine we'll do in a couple of decades) and we didn't have any plans for Wednesday beyond "pick up car, meander up Maine coast, reach motel in Bangor at sensible hour". Eeeee, whales! And maybe dolphins too!
We're in Boston now, then we've got about a week trundling through New England, then we're getting the train to New York (New York!) This whole trip is new for Guido, he's only been to the states once - in 2006 - and that to the west coast. For me it's a bit of a retread of my very first holiday here way back in 1993, so I don't remember stuff too well anyway. And New York is virtually new to me - I've been there twice, 94 and 99, but the first was a day trip and the second was whilst we had a long stopover in Newark, so I've never really seen the city properly. So much to do, only 4 and a bit days to do it in! (We were hoping to see my cousin, who currently lives in Brooklyn, but he's back in Europe right now! He's been in Paris, and then I think he'll be in London whilst we're in New York. Bloody typical.)
And then we're getting the train to Washington, which will be new for both of us. We've accidentally ended up with 4 days there (it was meant to be three, but then we picked a 2200 flight out so we've defacto got a fourth) but I'm sure we'll manage to fill it. There's a SPY MUSEUM.
I'm also currently enjoying this bizarre sensation called "being up and awake in the morning" thanks to the timezone change. I hope it will last, though I suspect not. I'm sure within a few days my body will revert to its natural desire to sleep 0200-1100, alas. But we've learnt our lessons from the honeymoon - don't overdo it in the early days. We were out until midnight, or nearly, every day for the first week. And I ended up exhausted and difficult to work with for the rest of the holiday. So this time we're not trying to cram quite so much in in the hopes that I can sustain early mornings for the whole three weeks.
It helps that it gets dark so early here, and so quickly (it's dark at 7!!) We worked out last night that the latitude of Boston is the same as about halfway between Florence and Rome (Washington will be even worse, it's about the same as Lisbon). So the difference between Hull and Boston is about the same as Hull and Skellefteå - the northernmost point I've ever been to, where it doesn't get dark around midsummer. So it stands to reason that it would be so dramatically different here to what I'm used to. But it's still weird. (The light nights were why we overdid it in Helsinki and St Petersburg - it never got dark, so the temptation to keep walking and see more was strong. We went over a week without seeing darkness, and even that first darkness was actually caused by poor weather.)
Anyway, that was a very rambley way of saying HI AMERICA! Today we're going to Harvard and MIT to pretend that we could have gone to uni there. (Who am I kidding, Guido probably could have got into MIT.)
Never such innocence, never before or since
Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;
And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day;
And the countryside not caring
The place-names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheats' restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;
Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word--the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.
Why I've been very scarce for quite a while now...
We bought a house :0D