27 Sep 2011

Fun with Me - hiking/climbing and general silliness in Chamonix

I know that you all like a good laugh and plus you know that I'm a wimp when it comes to heights. Anyway, here are some pictures of me looking pretty stupid (but mostly) having a good time on holiday in Chamonix.

First of all, climbing in Les Gaillands:

Faffing around at the bottom putting my shoes on...

Getting started....

Almost there!

Finishing and rewarding self with hot chocolate + cake. Sorry about the helmet hair also!

Some more pictures where I don't look too sweaty....

Yes, I realise in this last one i look like I'm going to the bathroom. But I'm not.
I did just however, have a candy bar, hence the expression of extreme ecstasy!

That's all for now - just one more photo essay in this series for you guys - trees and other green stuff. Then no more mountains for awhile I promise :)

Thank you and goodnight

Stupidgirl has left the building

25 Sep 2011

A Headfull of Dust Bunnies - Top 10 Comforting Things

Firstly, sorry to Evelyn Waugh. Terrible paraphrasing with today's blog post title.

Anyway, I am feeling very sleepy today. Not sure why really. I've had a busy week and yesterday went to a baby shower and then to stay with a friend and then straight to another friend's house. On the plus side I've not cooked for myself this weekend. On the achievement side I have taken the Northern Line from Finchley Central to Balham (that's 21 stops folks). On the minus side, I am now very, very sleepy. So I am attempting to write a blog post mainly governed by what I would like to do for the rest of the day. In fact I think this is a general list for stuff that's good on sundays or any day when you're mildly sick/tired/hungover/it's raining/you feel sad.

Top 10 Comforting Things

1) A Hot Drink
I guess a british first choice would be tea. But really this covers anything from hot soup to hot chocolate to coffee with a big splosh of Baileys or whisky or other simillar alcohol. THe only thing that you can't have is espresso. That's not relaxing or comforting.

2) A Hot Bath
Just as it says. Preferably with bubbles and a glass of wine. And fluffy towels warming on the radiator. The best combination for this is when you've had a long hard day at work and it's dark + cold (and possibly raining/sleeting/snowing/foggy) outside. Instructions for this should be - walk in door, fling bags + keys aside, start bath running + add bubbles, pour wine, drink wine, strip off, pour more wine, grab book + pjs + bathrobe, put pjs/bathrobe/towel on radiator, step in bath, drink wine, read book. For *at least* 30 minutes. Top up wine and hot bath water as necessary. Be sure to drink the wine + bath in the other water - not the other way around.

3) Clean Sheets
You know, when you put clean sheets on the bed. And you fluff up the pillows and duvet. And you get in and it's crisp and lovely. Blissssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

4) A Good Book
This can be entirely up to you but if I'm feeling sleepy/tired/sick I like to settle down with a really fat chick lit or YA novel. Or a nice easy crime thriller. Something I can really get into and relax with - so I don't have to work too hard figuring out the plot or looking up big words :) My perfect authors for this include Adele Parks, Marian Keyes, Elizabeth Berg and Richard Montenari.

22 Sep 2011

It's Not Me, It's Not My Family - Lyric Day

A great song with a serious undertone to it this week, Zombie from The Cranberries:

I've always loved this song as it's got a great riff and is a bit grungier than most of The Cranberries' other stuff. It's also a very sad song though, there are clear references throughout the song to the the troubles in Northern Ireland "It's the same old theme since 1916". The song as a whole is about the killing of two children in an IRA bombing in Warrington in 1993. It's clear that the song is referencing the fact that civilians get caught up in this terrible and long war (ending in 1998).

Anyway, here's the lyrics for you:

"Another head hangs lowly,
Child is slowly taken.
And the violence caused such silence,
Who are we mistaken?

But you see, it's not me, it's not my family.
In your head, in your head they are fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs,
And their bombs and their guns.
In your head, in your head, they are crying...

In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,
In your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, dou, dou, dou, dou, dou...

Another mother's breakin',
Heart is taking over.
When the vi'lence causes silence,
We must be mistaken.

It's the same old theme since nineteen-sixteen.
In your head, in your head they're still fighting,
With their tanks and their bombs,
And their bombs and their guns.
In your head, in your head, they are dying...

In your head, in your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie,
Hey, hey, hey. What's in your head,
In your head,
Zombie, zombie, zombie?
Hey, hey, hey, hey, oh, oh, oh,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, hey, oh, ya, ya-a..."

Thank you and goodnight

Stupidgirl has left the building

20 Sep 2011

Fun with Mountains - Our Holiday in Chamonix pt 1

As per this post and um, this post, you might have noticed that we went to Chamonix in September! Husbando commandeered the camera and proceeded to take an impressive 369 pictures in one week. After much weeding out of photos of me having a hissy fit, wonky angles and thumb over lens scenarios, I have boiled down the pictures into 3 lovely photo essays for you all. This first one is mainly pictures of the mountains themselves.....

Makes you want to go right now doesn't it :)

Thank you and goodnight

Stupidgirl has left the building

19 Sep 2011

Becky's Book Review #8 - Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Title: Sarah's Key/ Elle s'appellait Sarah
Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
Rating: 4/5
Genre: Modern + historical fiction/holocaust

General Description:
This is one of the tougher books I've read recently - and it was quite a harrowing movie as well. This review will predominantly cover the book but I've also written a little section on the movie also.

The novel covers the events of the Vel D'Hiv - in July 1942 around 7,500 Parisian Jews were rounded up and held in the Velodrome D'Hiv for 5 days with no food, water or toilets before being sent to the death camps. Of this figure, 4000 were children. The French government organised and were complicit in this - under orders from the Nazis. There wasn't a public apology until 1995.

Split between modern day with an American journalist covering the Vel D'Hiv and 1942, the book focuses on a little girl called Sarah who is taken to the Vel D'Hiv with her family. Unfortunately when the police came to round everyone up, she'd locked her little brother in their toy cupboard believing they were coming back + she could let him out. After the Vel D'Hiv she is taken to the camps along with all the other Jews. The story is her journey to get back to her brother. Back to modern day, the journalist is uncovering personal ties to Sarah and her story that she could never have expected.

It sounds wrong to say that I enjoyed this book but I did. I couldn't put it down. Firstly, it was very educational, I'd never heard of the Vel D'Hiv before, despite the fact that I'm Jewish and know a bit about the holocaust. I enjoyed the flick back to modern times also, although Julie (the journalist)'s marriage breakdown was not directly relative to the story - it just seemed to contrast all the liberty we take for granted with the terrible separation of Sarah from her parents at the camps. 

18 Sep 2011

Looking Lived In - Top 10 Things That Make Me Smile

I hope you're all having an *awesome* sunday - or whatever day of the week it is when you're reading this! We've had a quiet one here, I have done TONS of cooking in some attempt to ensure we eat something other than cereal, takeaway or chips. I have made a ginormous chicken + chorizo casserole and a `proper` bolognaise sauce that has been cooking for around 5 hours now mmmmmmm.

Today's top 10 was inspired by the utterly inspirational Bangs and A Bun blog and this post. I've been a bit wordier than her, but I've not written 50 things, just 10 :) Hope you enjoy! Oh and be sure to follow B&AB - she rocks.

Top 10 Things That Make Me Smile

1) Dogs
Just generally but most specifically when they chase rabbits in their sleep, wag their tails when they lie down, their sheer enjoyment for the most mundane of activities (an ear scratch, a cuddle, a random smell) but mostly for their general silliness - like these cute airedales!

2) General animal silliness
Animals can be pretty funny generally. Especially when they are small and excitable, such as in this video or this one of Cookie The Baby Penguin (the last 10 seconds are the cutest thing I have seen in my life, I defy you not to laugh let alone smile!)

3) Guys With Flowers
When you see guys walking along with huge bunches of flowers - especially on Mother's Day - it's really cute! 

4) Random Acts of Kindness
When people give up seats on public transport, give someone change for the bus, help someone across the road, carry heavy luggage and are just unexpectedly nice to a complete stranger, this makes me smile. Like the nice man at South Ken tube who carried my suitcase up the stairs for me :)

16 Sep 2011

Ketchup Post - What I've Been Up To Since...Awhile Anyway

So, I've posted quite a bit this week and last but I was a bit erratic during August - lots of stuff to talk about.
Anyway I thought you'd like a list of stuff I've read, listened to and watched as well as places I've been to - and places I've eaten + drunk at. It's a very short post because I've had a very busy week but I hope it gives you a snapshot of what I've been up to.

Here you go:

Books I Have Read
What The Nanny Saw - Fiona Neill - review to come
Left Neglected - Lisa Genova - review to come

Movies I Have Watched
The Eagle - based on the book, The Eagle of the Ninth - this was well worth watching. The cinematography was awesome - here is a still to prove it:

Red Riding Hood - unfortunately, or perhaps unsurprisingly to some, this was diabolical.
Sarah's Key - amazing + incredibly moving, I'll be covering this in a book review of the book of the same name in the next couple of weeks.

Music I Have Listened To:
Snow Patrol - check this post
Counting Crows - very retro I know :) Mainly their newer stuff though, rather than AAEA
Nirvana - also retro
Pearl Jam - ditto
Rage Against the Machine - ditto
Journey - just because
Lady Gaga - because she has taken over my brain

Places I Have Been
Wales (well that was the end of July)

Places I Have Eaten
Le Percolateur - very yummy food indeed!

Places I Have Drunk
Dr Ink

And that's it for now - am dashing off to a karaoke session (as ever...) but I'll be properly back over the weekend I promise. Have a lovely evening everyone.

Thank you and goodnight

Stupidgirl has left the building

14 Sep 2011

Switching Round - Word of the Week

(Perception n: becoming aware of something/The process, act, or faculty of perceiving. Ety: late 15c., "receiving, collection," from L. perceptionem Meaning "intuitive or direct recognition of some innate quality" is from 1827)

Okay, I'm about halfway up a rock face. The ground is approx 12-15 metres below me and I've got around another 6-8 metres to climb. After that climb I have to abseil half way down to a small ledge and wait for husbando to join me. Then I have to use various gadgets to pull down the rope, re-attach it to me, husbando and the rock and then abseil down again. But in the meantime, there's those remaining metres of rock to climb.

Graded at around a 3/4 in the book - well within my capability - the climb is closer to a 5+, something I've just mastered climbing inside, without the added complexity of more than one pitch and knowing I've got to abseil down after. The foot and hand holds are tiny pinches mainly, and my nails (and nerves) are shredded. Although you can can't see my face, I'm crying and tearfully sniffling my way up, inch by inch. After what seems like several millennia, I finish the climb and make it to the ledge husbando is on.

"Well done!" he beams at me. I am not impressed "That was so fucking scary" I am snivelling but he insists on taking a picture. "Didn't you see me crying?"

"What?! No, I didn't. You climbed that really well. There was a lady at the bottom taking pictures of you all the way up, seriously."

I think my facial expression reads WTVF. "Are you sure? Wasn't she taking pictures of the kids?" There are a bunch of them below me, climbing at what I am sure is at vastly higher grade and with a great deal less fuss.

"No, she was taking pictures of YOU because YOU climb really well".


Huh, even several weeks later, now, my brain is just starting to compute this. Right, it says to me, you think that you're crap and you were crying, but some lady, who couldn't see your face, thought that you climb well and took pictures to prove it. Is this what perception is all about? 

13 Sep 2011

Becky's Book Review #7 - How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

Title: How To Be A Woman
Author: Caitlin Moran
Rating: 4/5 for humour, 2/5 for content
Genre: Cultural/social studies

Note - today's book review is going to be a little bit different. Firstly I'll give you an overview of the book and then my opinion of it. I'm also going to follow up this review with a post about my opinion on some of the topics Moran covers. I really look forward to your comments at the end....

Book Overview
Caitlin Moran - a regular Times/Guardian columnist and paid up member of the British Twitterati- has written a modern feminist's handbook which aims to do exactly as per the title - how to be a woman. Following Moran's experiences of everything from porn to pubic hair, menstruation to abortion, we learn how it seems Moran thinks we should be women in the 21st century. This is a humourous call to arms aimed squarely at Generations X + Y......or is it?

12 Sep 2011

When The Night Has Come - Lyric Day

Today's lyric day is dedicated to all those all over the world affected by 9/11. Yesterday I wasn't sure how I felt or even if it was appropriate to write something in memoriam. So I had this song planned for a lyric day - and it always reminds me of the States - so it seemed like a fitting tribute. That's all I need or want to say. Take care of yourselves folks.

Stand By Me - Ben E. King

"When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we'll see
No I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won't cry, I won't cry, no I won't shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

And darlin', darlin', stand by me, oh stand by me
Stand by me, stand by me, stand by me-e, yeah

Whenever you're in trouble won't you stand by me, oh now now stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me

Darlin', darlin', stand by me-e, stand by me
Oh stand by me, stand by me, stand by me"

Thank you and goodnight

Stupidgirl has left the building

11 Sep 2011

Video Killed The Radio Star - Top 10 Music Videos

I've not done a proper top 10 in aaaaaaaaaaages, not since this one I think. So today I thought I'd come back with a, er, bang - My Top 10 Music Videos! It's been, unsurprisingly, tough to narrow down the list as I do love a good music video. Where would we be without MTV and all the other music channels it spawned? Although it's not on the list, I have to give credit to Dire Straits here - Money For Nothing was the first music video shown on MTV, way back in August 1987 (crikey that's 24 years ago.....)

The list is a real mix of stuff - some pop, some metal, some dance, some rock. I've literally picked the first videos that spring to mind but at the end of the post is also a list of the best suggestions that came up on Twitter/Facebook when I asked for your favourite vids.

My Top 10 Music Videos - in no particular order...

1) November Rain - Guns 'n' Roses
Awesome video - great wedding dress, great guitar solo, and just generally a very unintentionally funny video. It's clearly a great song too, which makes all the difference.

2) Smack My Bitch Up - The Prodigy
Er, if you're of a sensitive nature, look away now. This video has won several polls for the most offensive video ever, was banned for years and just generally caused stacks of controversy as did the song/song title itself! Personally I think it's a great song + video and I don't think it's misogynistic at all, rather I like the way it subverts certain stereotypes. I often wonder if the video would have been so shocking if it had had a different protagonist. However if you'd rather not watch the video (I wouldn't if you're not sure!), scroll down to the very bottom of this post - and I've put a little precis in for you.

It makes into this list for being a great video because of the production and direction and the fabulous imagery - you feel like you're part of it! It's also interesting to note that the video was directed by Jonas Akerlund - who has done several Lady Gaga videos including Telephone and Paparazzi.

3) Like A Prayer - Madonna
Interestingly, another controversial video when it came out - but it's a wonderful video. I like the way Madonna goes to great lengths to tell a story - even though the lyrics of the song are utterly bizarre (is it about sex or religion - or both?)  Madonna, witnessing a murder, flees to a church for sanctuary and then has a bizarre dream about having sex with a saint (possibly Jesus?) Anyway the Vatican banned this video - rather understandably - given the extensive Catholic/religious imagery. It's incredibly famous song and video - I've seen Madonna perform it live and it was AMAZING.

7 Sep 2011

Light Out, Light Out - Lyric Day

On Monday evening me and my poorly ankle (torn ligament) went off to meet my mum for a "secret" Snow Patrol gig at the Shepherds Bush Empire. Mum is a big fan of SP - she's seen them 4 times and I've seen them 3 times. (skip to the bottom if you want to check out a couple of videos I took at the gig)

I think SP create mixed feelings about their music - unfairly so I would say, as Run was just played so much, everywhere and even copied by Leona Lewis. Additionally, Open Your Eyes and Chasing Cars seemed to be used on every blimmin advert and TV show on telly. So they kind of made SP really mainstream and poppy when actually they're a bit grittier than that.

I was surprised to learn that SP have been going for over 15 years actually - first formed by Gary Lightbody at uni in 1994 - but they only hit the big time with Run. Which is an awesome song. All the haters out there, really, you have to admit it's a great song - I bet you have a little sing-a-long to it when you're on your own!! Anyway, the rest of their stuff is worth a listen to - particularly Chocolate and Spitting Games.

I first listened to Final Straw loads when one of my best friends moved to Australia for a year and all the tracks really remind me of her! I also saw SP support U2 at Croke Park in Dublin and they were pretty awesome - even in the pissing rain to a half empty stadium. The stuff on the new album that they played on Monday was pretty good - a couple of love songs that were a little too much for me but some of the other stuff sounded really intriguing - Fallen Empires in particular - which even managed a touch of drum'n'bass. (Mum was a bit perturbed at this juncture!!).

So anyway, today's Lyric Day song is, unsurprisingly, Run. It's a gorgeous song - I've chosen a live version because it's amazing to hear 1000's of people singing along! And also because the official vevo version on youtube cuts the song off before the end - weirdly.....

On monday night, Gary came on stage with just a guitar and sang the first two verses. He then walked off stage and the entire place sang the whole song to him. It was so incredibly beautiful and I was so glad to be part of it. Here are the lyrics:

"I'll sing it one last time for you
Then we really have to go
You've been the only thing that's right
In all I've done

And I can barely look at you
But every single time I do
I know we'll make it anywhere
Away from here

Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear

Louder louder
And we'll run for our lives
I can hardly speak I understand
Why you can't raise your voice to say

To think I might not see those eyes
Makes it so hard not to cry
And as we say our long goodbye
I nearly do

Light up...

Slower slower
We don't have time for that
All I want is to find an easier way
To get out of our little heads

Have heart my dear
We're bound to be afraid
Even if it's just for a few days
Making up for all this mess"
Thank you and good night,

Stupidgirl has left the building

PS Here are a couple of videos I took at the gig

PPS Cheryl, this blog post is for you lovely!

4 Sep 2011

Fear and Flying - My Holidays Part 2

In lieu of a proper Top 10 List today, I have just naughtily split the top 10 between yesterday's post and today's as er, it's a bit long! But you do sort of get a mini photo essay *and* a video. Not of me.

Anyway, in case you missed it, I spent the last week in Chamonix in the Alps....if you've not been before, it looks a bit like this:

Anyway, back to the list, I did a lot of reading whilst I was away (because of the spraining-of-ankle debacle)....

5) The Books
My very lovely parents-in-law got me a kindle for my birthday. Now I was quite averse to the idea of a kindle when they first came on the scene but I can now assure you that in resting ankle type situations and killing two hours at Geneva airport and general reading on mountain situations, they come in very handy. As I certainly could not have fitted all the following books I read into my hand luggage:

  • The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly -  awesome read, couldn't put it down. (thriller) 5/5
  • How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran - also awesome, will be a doing a whole separate post on it (feminism) 5/5
  • Last Train From Liguria by Christine Dwyer Hickey - slow start but gripping (historical) 4/5
  • Hollywood Sinners by Victoria Fox - pure bonkbuster trash, loved it! 4/5
  • That Summer In Ischia by Penny Feeney - a bit disappointing tbh (general fiction) 2/5
  • Shopaholic Takes Manhattan/And Sister/Ties the Knot/And Baby by Sophie Kinsella - i've read all these before, decent chicklit and exactly what my poorly ankle needed 4/5
6) The Paragliding
At the top of the Planpraz cable car, rough opposite the Aiguille du Midi, all the (crazy) paragliders jump off the mountain side. It's bloody awesome/terrifying watching them. I can't decide if I want to have a go at some point or not. Anyway, here are a couple of pics and also a video of them taking flight!

3 Sep 2011

Fear and Flying - My Holidays Part 1

Sorry for bastardizing the classic Erica Jong novel title but it seems particularly apt for this post on my holidays and generally the last couple of weeks. I wanted to pop in and say hi to you all before a proper blog post and photo essay on the holiday later this week. Anyway, I'm a bit tired and literally just back from Geneva as of two hours ago, so on with the post!

1) First, a picture.....

This was the view from my sunlounger. Yes, that *is* Mont Blanc up there, behind the Aiguille de Midi and some other tall pointy things. I really should draw some little arrows in to show you which is which. But I might get it wrong eeeep. Anyway I was on a sun lounger because of....

2) The Injury
I fell off a mountain.

Well to be more accurate, I tripped on a mountain path when I was going too fast down it after husbando threatening to catch him up and tickle him. Sexy as that sounds, it was wasn't quite as sexy as going ass over tit and spraining my ankle. Fuck me does that hurt!
I'm glad there's no photographic evidence of me, face down in the dirt, screaming. Not a good look. I feel I should point out that a) I fell over on the safest part of the hike and not the bit with the precipitous drop - if I'd fallen there, I'd be writing this from beyond the grave and also b) I then had to walk back down the mountain for 2.5 hours on said ankle.