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Wednesday, 31 December 2008

My niece Amy's 21st birthday celebration!




It only seems like yesterday, but 21 years has gone by since my niece Amy was born. And what a grand lass she has turned out to be.

Family and friends celebrated last night with Amy, and we enjoyed a great party. For those who couldn't make it due to this nasty winter flu virus, you missed one hell of a night.

In true family tradition the party had a theme - Cowboys & Indians. Amy was a very pretty Pocahontas, I was Shania Twain, and Sat Nav was Calamity Jane.

We ate, drank and were merry. We did some line-dancing, well . . . we had to really, didn't we?!
We also did a brilliant Ooops Upside Your Head . . . and my sister and I did some amazing Greek dancing to Zorba the Greek - complete with plate smashing. Well, they were paper plates actually, so it was more like flying saucers, but you get my drift ;-)

I was very pleased to meet Chloe, a friend of Amy's and a fan of Beautiful Strangers.

Happy 21st Birthday Amy xxxxxx

Monday, 8 December 2008

Masham Musical Society 2008 Annual Concert


On Saturday night I had the pleasure of attending Masham Musical Society's Annual Concert. The concert was billed as Now and Then.


This year they had a new conductor Mr. Jonathon Heitler and a new accompanist Mr. Anthony Rudd. Not only that, but they also had four new members. One was Sat Nav (Gloria) who had been practicing not only at rehearsals, but also at home for weeks. Of course she had me singing along too. We Gathered Lilacs in the kitchen, Ruled Britannia regularly. Razzle Dazzled Katie (our horse) in the stable, and were sure our neighbours were wondering Why Must The Show Go On? But they must have been relieved to hear that Christmas is Coming.


But seriously . . . that should give you some idea of the content of the night.

I wish I had taken my Union flag to wave when they sang Rule Britannia, but never daunted Brian and I waved our programmes ;-)

Their performance was absolutely fabulous! If you were in the audience you should Consider Yourself very lucky indeed.
And I'm not just saying that because Sat Nav made her debut with the society - it's true!

Congratulations and well done to everyone.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Beyonce and her hairy armpits.

I simply couldn't let this one go by without a comment.

Why on earth were people so shocked and horrified because Beyonce hadn't shaved her armpits?

Maybe she hadn't shaved for a reason. There are important lymph glands in the armpit, maybe she had a medical reason for not shaving. And if she didn't, surely it's up to her whether she shaves or not.

What if every woman in the world had hairy armpits, and one celebrity shaved? Would the media then photograph the shaven armpit? No! I don't think so.

Why should a fuzz create such a buzz?

The Prisoner of Zenda

On Tuesday North Country Theatre came to Fearby Village Hall and transformed it into Ruritania.

You might ask why.

They came to perform Nobby Dimon's ingenious adaptation of The Prisoner of Zenda - a novel by Anthony Hope.

It was billed as 'An hilarious ripping yarn of swashbuckling romance' and it was right on the button.

The cast:
Rudolph Rassendyll - Josh Boyd-Rochford
Melbecks, Col Sapt & others - Nobby Dimon
Rose, Lady Burlesdon, Antoinette de Mauban - Vivienne Garnett
Lord Burlesdon, Kind Rudolf of Ruritania, Rupert of Hentzau - Simon Kirk
Heidi, Princess Flavia - Victoria Brazier

Audience participation is always a big part of North Country Theatre productions, and tonight was no exception. We were asked to show our support by choosing either a red or a black flag to wave at the appropriate times. I was a royalist so waved a red flag. Sat Nav (Gloria) waved a black flag in support of Black Michael (who incidentally was a puppet) . . . you had to be there! We also had a line to remember and this made us very much a part of the action.

The audience were in fits of laughter when the improvised horses appeared and galloped around the hall. And there were loud oohs and aahs during the sword fencing scene, which was extremely cleverly done.

This is the third production I have seen by North Country Theatre, and already I am looking forward to the next one.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Masham Players present Darling Mr. London






I am not a particular fan of farces but when Masham Players played to an almost full house on Thursday 20th November 2008 with their autumn production Darling Mr. London - a farce by Anthony Marriott and Bob Grant - directed by Brian Howard Gregg, this one really gripped me.

The stage set was perfect. It had so many doors I was left wondering how on earth the cast managed to remember which way to turn!
This was a fast-paced play well acted that had the audience laughing long and loud.

It was set in the home of Edward Hawkins and was full of over-the-top characters, absurd situations and mistaken identities.



The situations in this case arrive at the home of Edward Hawkins in the form of Miss Europhone contestants looking for their darling Mr. London. Edward valiantly tries to hide them and the truth from his wife Rose. Throw in a curate who thinks the pompous brother-in-law is a secret drinker, who thinks the curate is a secret drinker. Lock mother-in-law in the loo. And there you are. A wonderfully funny situation.


I must congratulate the cast on their expertise in French, Italian and German.

The cast included some familiar faces: Kathy Boyer, Richard Bailey, Jonathan Trenholme, Kathryn Carter, Jackie Jones, Jill Davies, Ron Smith and two new players Sue Smith (wife of Ron) and Helen Kennedy.

It was a very enjoyable night and the evening was perfectly rounded off with a supper included in the ticket price.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Cherish - Macmillan Charity Fundraiser

Last night I put on my glad rags and headed up north to the Slug and Lettuce in Durham City. They were holding another fundraiser. This time it was for the Macmillan Nurses.

This charity is close to my heart because I know how hard Macmillan nurses work, and how vitally important their work is.

The entertainment for the evening was provided by the fabulous, and fashionable, Miss Kitty Lit-teur. Miss Kitty is very supportive of the Cherish fundraisers. I was delighted that this time you included your brilliant Shirley Bassey routine complete with your dancers fresh back from the cruise liner. Hope they enjoyed life on the ocean waves.

Sat Nav (Gloria) couldn't make it this time ;-( she had to look after Katie (our horse) as there was to be a fireworks display close by, and Katie is scared of fireworks! So she stayed at home with her.

So, my niece came with me, and once inside we met up with Ken (Kitty's son, and my dancing partner) and Rolly (Kitty's partner).

Karaoke is part of this fun night, and there were plenty of singers keen to take the stage. Well done all of you for taking part. It takes guts to get up there and strut your stuff.

Sheila from Brandon - I promised you a mention - sang 'Lipstick On Your Collar'. You were a great sport, and it was good to meet you.

Ken you were right - it was a 'Kind of Magic' and you sang just for me like you promised. Thanks ;-)

It must have been good music because my niece was actually dancing with me. Where's the video camera when you want one?
Usually she says I show her up, and pretends she's not related.
Can you believe that?
No - I thought not ;-)

Abigail it was good to see you again, next time I expect to see you dancing ;-)

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Mercury - Queen Tribute Band - Rocks Masham




'We will, we will, Rock You', and you did guys.

You are 'The Champions' my friends.





What a super show Sat Nav and I went to see last night. It was the first time we'd seen this brilliant band . . . but it won't be the last. Even Sat Nav was up on her feet dancing, and that takes some motivation ;-) Ouch!

Mercury absolutely rocked Masham. Fantastic, brilliant, terrific musicality. I could go on and on. Lee you even look like Freddie - an uncanny likeness. Thanks for letting me wear your crown. Gosh! Isn't it heavy!

The band played to a full house, and we all got down and dirty. The atmosphere was electric. My feet are still sore, probably due to the fact that I wore heels to dance. Will I never learn?

Sorry you only got one piece of cake Andy, but the band ate it all. It wasn't me - honest. I only had two pieces ;-)

Shaun, you've done it again. You always bring the best tribute bands to Masham.

To book Mercury, or to check out Shaun's other 'top' tribute bands visit
www.johnny7.co.uk

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Siegfried and Roy Tribute at the London Palladium 28th September 2008




Thanks to my lovely and talented friend Diana S. Zimmerman, Gloria and I were invited to the Siegfried & Roy Tribute Night at the London Palladium to launch MagiCares The Magic Charity.
Diana, the first MagiCare Trustee, is the author of Kandide www.kandide.com and the Secret of the Mists, and a highly respected magician.
The atmosphere in The Palladium was electric. During the show the legends, Siegfried & Roy, were formally introduced by Lynette Chappell, the original 'Evil Queen' and naturally received a standing ovation. www.siegfriedandroy.com
Siegfried and Roy are Honorary Trustees of MagiCares. www.magicares.com

It is impossible to pay tribute to our entertainers who were, without exception, absolutely fabulous. Our host and MC for the evening was the incomparable Jeff Hobson. We - and by we I mean the entire audience which included Dame Shirley Bassey, the Arsenal Football team, and Ali Bongo - were spell-bound as world-class entertainers from around the world took to the stage.

Our sensational performers were:
Kalin & Jinger - stars of the Magic Underground in Reno,
The Great Tomsoni & Co from Poland,
Luis De Matos, Portugal's TV Magic Star,
Vik & Fabrini direct from the 'Crazy Horse' in Paris,
Wally Eastwood 'The man with the fastest hands on earth'
The unique artistry of Norm Nielsen,
Ben Stone who wrote and sang 'When Magic Cares, Miracles Happen'
The Post Modern Magic of Jason Byrne,
Raymond Crowe Star of the Royal Variety Show,
From Australia - The Sensational Soul Mystique.

AND the brilliant musicians of The MagiCares Big Band and their Musical Director Ian MacGregor.

Video extracts, and messages from Sir Anthony Hopkins, Cher and Steve Wynn were shown on a huge screen between performances.

Congratulations to Paul Stone, Executive Producer for bringing this fabulous event to the stage, and to Director, Anthony Van Laast MBE.
Free programmes were placed on every seat. Each contained an envelope for donations. We thought this was a brilliant idea.
The charity DebRA was the main beneficiary of the event, but supporters, carers and patients from several charities were there. www.debra.org.uk
DebRA supports children with EB (epidermolysis bullosa) a dreadful genetic condition that means skin isn't properly attached.

Siegfried & Roy have, for more than 20 years, been committed to the conservation and care of the Royal White Tigers and White Lions bringing them back from the edge of extinction, ultimately saving the species. They have generously given their time and resources to help animals and children.

During an interesting conversation with Siegfried he told me about the orphanage in Romania he and Roy had set up. And he was interested to hear about the fund raising events Gloria and I do for BOS (the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation). These guys certainly have big hearts, and a true love for animals.

The VIP party after the show was fabulous. You could say full of magic - it was certainly full of magicians. We had the pleasure of meeting the legendary Ali Bongo, who is the President of the Magic Circle.

Ruth, my friend's daughter (whose wedding I blogged about recently, and who lives in London) called in to the hotel to see us on Tuesday morning for a coffee and a catch-up. Before we returned home to a wet and windy Yorkshire we enjoyed spending time with Ingrid, a long-time friend of Siegfried & Roy.

We made some new friends.
Cynthia - it was a pleasure to meet and spend time with you. Hope we're all able to meet up again soon. Maybe in New York.
Ingrid - can't wait to see some of your photos.
And Arlene, may the 'vibrations' be with you.
Paul - thanks for the invite to Vegas!

My biggest 'thank you' goes to my good friend Diana for including us in this memorable occasion :-)

Photographs.
Gloria, Diana and Ellen
Siegfried and Ellen
Ellen and Raymond Crowe

Friday, 26 September 2008

HRH The Princess Royal's visit to County Durham CSI Unit



Today I was privileged to attend the opening of the new CSI Unit at Harperley Hall in County Durham by HRH The Princess Royal.

My best friend Anita Atkinson, editor of the Weardale Gazette was presented to Her Royal Highness. Anita told the Princess that she was the first Royal to visit Weardale for 700 years.

Anita has a huge collection of Royal memorabilia, and has been in the Guinness Book of Records with her collection.

Despite early morning fog delaying the The Princess Royals arrival, the sun broke through and we enjoyed a summer-like day. And what a super buffet was served.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Murder Mystery, Magical Gardens and Music...

Sunday was Sat Nav's (Gloria's) birthday, and this year she'd decided on something completely different - a Murder Mystery night.
Parts were allocated well beforehand and there was no cheating by us reading the clues/script before the night. Honest!
All party guests really entered into the spirit of the game and thanks to Kathy's Catering (Kathy have you ever come across Davinia's Catering at all? Sat Nav thinks that you and your assistant Judy should set up in the catering business) we ate extremely well.
The scene was set for Casablanca 1942 and it was a hard murder to solve. Only one guest got it right, or was it 2 - can't remember exactly too much champagne!

On Monday we spent an interesting afternoon in a magical garden where we had to solve clues, and riddles and try to avoid the water hazards lol!!! There was a labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises. The temple of the underworld, the eye of the needle, a huge pyramid made of translucent glass, paths and passages that lead nowhere, and extraordinary statues.
I opened a door and a skeleton nearly jumped out ...and I thought there is obviously a staff shortage here if they have to rely on the skeleton staff!
Talking trees, a little boy statue that peed on you, dragons and dungeons. Harry Potter and his friends would love this place.
We were in Forbidden Corner www.theforbiddencorner.co.uk with some of our friends - a great place to go. But we needed a place to meet up beforehand, and what better place than the Brymor Ice Cream Parlour www.brymordairy.co.uk. Ice cream par excellence!
We had to be agile on our feet here, not because the ice cream was cold, but because the wasps wanted some as well.
forbidden corner, north yorkshire,

Last night (Tuesday) we headed up to Darlington Civic Theatre www.darlingtonarts.co.uk to the opening night of Dancing Queen billed as All Singing, All dancing, Biggest 70s Party Ever!
We met up with my sister, my niece and my sister's friend. The show started with Abba hits, and then moved on to The Bee Gees, Village People and more. It had an exciting cast of twenty singers and dancers. It was a full scale dance party, with dazzling costumes, outrageous choreography (how on earth the dancers managed to do some of those leg positions I'll never know) and amazing musical arrangements. We were all encouraged to sing along and dance in the aisles, and yes...I did sing - very loudly lol !!!

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Cherish Fundraiser at the Slug and Lettuce - Durham

On 31st July Sat Nav and I attended another Cherish fun charity night at the Slug and Lettuce in Durham. We were greeted at the door by Brian and guess what...a red carpet was rolled out! I just love to see a red carpet when I make my entrance ;-)

Miss Kitty Lit-teur gave a terrific performance, complete with dazzling costumes, and unique repartee. I was a little disappointed Miss Kitty that you didn't do your fabulous Shirley Bassey routine this time, apparently your dancers were away working on a cruise liner, next time eh!.
But hey...Miss Kitty's Cher was absolutely captivating.

The night raised £777.40 for The Butterwick Hospice. Nearly doubling the amount raised at the last event.

Well done Abigail and Hazel.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

A match made in Pinewood Studios



HISTORY FLASHBACK loosely taken from Ruth's script.
Ruth and Pedro met over a bacon buttie in the canteen at Pinewood Studios in 2001 when they both worked on the hallmark mini series - Dinotopia. Ruth as a trainee supervisor and Pedro as a visual effects artist.

Now...Ruth is a much sort after script supervisor and has worked on Dalziel and Pascoe, Wire in the Blood, Silent Witness and Bad Girls etc.

Pedro has 3 Emmy awards under his belt; he has worked on Casino Royale, 2 of the Harry Potter films, and Die Another Day (with Ruth).
I could go on and on, but I want to tell you about their wedding, but first let me just say Beat;root! Pedro is the drummer with this brilliant band.

SCENE 1 EXT.
A1 NORTHBOUND. RAINING, DULL, AND CHOKED WITH TRAFFIC
Sat Nav and I set off to go up north for Ruth and Pedro's wedding. Plan A: I would take my wedding outfit with me and change at my niece's house when I collected her, then we would all go to the wedding together.
A1 traffic almost at a standstill - seriously delayed.
Plan B: Traffic delay too serious to go to niece's. Sat Nav called her on mobile and told her to make her own way to the wedding venue. We needed to find somewhere for me to change en route. Toronto Lodge Hotel open, swept into car park, grabbed bags, ran through rain into hotel, quickly explained our predicament, angel of mercy on reception offered me somewhere to change (thanks angel).

SCENE 2 EXT. WEDDING VENUE
A BIT LATER...STILL DULL, BUT STOPPED RAINING
Arrived at wedding venue with 5 minutes to spare before start of ceremony - or so we thought. Impressive marquees set out for event. Very original and personal. We wondered why the other guests weren't already seated. Brides aunt informs us that the wedding is actually at 2.30pm and not 2pm...so we are actually half an hour early. Should have checked the invite!

SCENE 3 EXT.
Stanhope Silver Band played a selection of tunes while guests were being seated. Very original seating - hay bales covered in Calico.
The bridal procession arrived, led by the vicar as the Portuguese Choir sang Here Comes The Bride.
The film and sound crew were unobtrusively dotted around the entire site in different vantage points.
Ruth shone and looked radiant on her fathers arm. She wore a beautiful fitted cream lace wedding dress, complete with sparkly bits. Her three bridesmaids wore dresses in deep purple. The service didn't actually follow the Order of Service that we were given, and there was lots of good natured laughing and applause throughout, like when it was discovered the rings hadn't been unfastened from the ring cushion, and when suddenly at the end of the service Anita (Ruth's mum and my best friend) stood up and shouted 'we haven't sang the last hymn'! Everybody laughed and cheered. We sang the last hymn, and the Portuguese Choir sang Alleluia' from The Sound of Music...again ;-)

SCENE 4 EXT. DULL BUT DRY
The ceremony over we followed the bride and groom down through the meadow towards the main marquee passing 'the chimney sweep' on the way (a good luck tradition and a great photo opportunity for wedding guests).

SCENE 5 INT. MAIN MARQUEE SET OUT IN WEDDING STYLE WITH DANCE FLOOR
With her special personal touch Ruth had gone as far as displaying photograph trees as unique table centerpieces showing photographs relevant to the guests sitting there. After congratulating our special bride and groom we were offered Pimms.
Food, touching wedding speeches, champagne toasts and fabulous entertainment.
We enjoyed a truly spectacular wedding, met some wonderful people, and made some great new friends.
We had the pleasure of music from Pedro and his band Beat;root. And we all enjoyed Pedro's surprise from his new wife when Ruth and some of her family and friends took to the dance floor with their fun interpretation of the Vote For Pedro dance complete with fab Vote For Pedro t-shirts (there is a video on my youtube sites).

SCENE 6 IT'S AFTER MIDNIGHT, A1 SOUTHBOUND TORRENTIAL RAIN
We are going home, but I am struggling to see because the rain is so heavy the wipers simply can't take it.
Bizarrely somebody switches the rain off and Sat Nav gazes up at the sky and asks me 'Did you see that blue flash of light?'
'No,' says I.
'There it is again!'
'How much champagne have you had?'

Thank you Ruth and Pedro...we were proud to be a part of your perfect day.
May the sun always shine on you both :-)

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Aliens - do they exist?



Aliens - what is an alien? Or UFO?
I watched a tv programme last night about UFO's that set me wondering.

How can the sceptics say that we are the only human species in the universe?.....after all there are millions of planets. We are here, so why can't there be other people living on another earth-like planet?

And if some people HAVE been abducted by aliens...why aren't they believed?
I was abducted once in my sleep by a beautiful woman...and when I woke up it was Sat Nav lol !!!

But seriously. Why would the government want to keep such things a secret? They say they don't want to cause a panic. I wouldn't panic, and neither would millions of other people. We have a right to know what goes on in our skies - our skies - not the governments skies....OURS.

I would love to meet an alien from another planet.
I might have done so already, and yet been totally unaware of it. Come to think of it...so might you.

Just because people say they have seen strange things in the skies it doesn't mean they are mad.

I am lucky to live in a rural area so have beautiful clear diamond studded night skies to gaze up at. I can enjoy the planets and stars just by tilting my head back and lifting my eyes.

We do see lights that we can't identify. Most times it's a plane, but other times...who knows? It's a case of now you see it - now you don't!
Occasionally we see a very bright star that stands alone...it's not the North Star...and then it just disappears. So is it a star? Is it an alien space ship popping in for a short visit...or is it Google Earth???? Who knows?

I've added two photographs to this blog. I took them myself. One during the day and the other on a full moon around midnight - yes, I know that's the witching hour, but we'd been out to a party and no...I don't drink alcohol.

It wasn't until I looked on my comp at the full moon photo that I could see what looked like a face to the left of the moon. Spooky, or what?

Can you see it? ...............or, am I one of those mad people lol!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The Last Night of the Proms

Last night Sat Nav and I went to Darlington Civic Theatre www.darlingtonarts.co.uk to see The British Philharmonic Orchestra perform The Last Night of the Proms. Conducted by Alistair Lilley (now... I have something very important - and impressive - to share with you.... I am proud to tell you that my great-uncle used to conduct this very Orchestra - see, I knew you'd be impressed!) and lead by Alison White.
They were absolutely brilliant. Jeni Bern and Andrew Forbes Lane were the Soloists, and Mark Langley the Presenter. So with this line up you can guess that we were in for a special treat.

The theatre was full to the brim, but alas unlike some, we had forgotten to take our flags with us!
This meant that we couldn't join in :-(
But the clever theatre staff were prepared and during the interval Sat Nav discovered that suitable flags were on sale at the sweetie kiosk. Naturally she rushed off to buy a couple so we could join in and wave to our hearts content. Which we did, and Sat Nav usually very conservative waved her flag with the best of them!

Now, let me tell you about the fabulous music....well, where to start?.... we enjoyed selections from The Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, Mary Poppins, and Grease - with the soloists dressed in 70's gear for Grease.
Sat Nav was in raptures with the medley from My Fair Lady - her absolute favourite film.

We were soothed with gentle tones, totally relaxed, but then they played the Dr Who theme with terrific verve and what came next was a bit of a shock.
We were sitting at the end of the front row of the dress circle next to the right hand box, (yes, you do need to know this) when I was deafened by a scary familiar voice booming out from said box...it was a dalek... and it was shouting as plain as day 'exterminate!!!....exterminate!!!'
I couldn't believe it, - what a ploy and what a shock. The entire audience re-acted....It was brilliant.
Recovered, I told myself - don't be silly there can't possibly be daleks in here - can there? lol!!!

We enjoyed the company of two lovely ladies throughout the concert, Mave and her friend Marjorie from Northallerton. Mave is something of a celebrity - although retired she taught theatrical makeup and her students have gone on to great things. Thanks Mave for giving me your programme :-)

And thanks to the British Philharmonic for giving us such a treat...I know that I've said this before, but I'm going to say this again, IF YOU GET THE CHANCE - GO AND SEE THEM!
Whoops! Nearly forgot...Sat Nav and I are now officailly Promenarders ;-)

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Fiction

The definition of fiction in the Collins Gem dictionary = prose, literary works of the imagination; invented statement or story - fictional, fictitious, not genuine, false; imaginary; assumed.

Now this makes me ask why do some reviewers of 'fiction' criticize the fact that the stories are imaginary, and/or unbelievable? Surely this is what fiction is all about, taking the reader into another place. Certainly the imaginary part is, although a lot of characteristics, events, places, and emotions are real. The fictitious story that weaves through all of the above is invented by the writer - born in the writers imagination.

But let's stop and think for a second...what about Dracula, and the numerous vampire stories that abound today? What about werewolves, and zombies? Do some readers expect to meet a zombie in the supermarket?
Perhaps some reviewers know more than us writers of fiction do. Perhaps their next door neighbour sleeps in a coffin in the cellar and only comes out at night wearing a black cloak and flashing his pearly whites, and exercises his werewolf before going to work at the blood bank!
If this is the case then I would like to know!

Which takes me back to unbelievable situations, and characters.
Well, I'll bet you've all said at least once in your lifetime, "I never thought I would find myself in a situation like that. It was unbelievable."
I rest my case.

Fictional characters are a magic and heady mix of a writers imagination. They can, and will do totally unexpected things. It all adds to the character's flavour.
Every reader will react differently to a books characters, they will love some and hate some, and just accept some. If strong emotion is generated then the writer has created a successful character. Some reviewers will react and think, oh god that character could be me! Another might think, I could write better than that. In my experience this type of reviewer has usually never written more than a shopping list.

Some reviewers favour certain authors (don't we all?).
I enjoy reading James Herbert, Sat Nav loves reading Jilly Cooper. But we don't criticize other authors just because these are our current top favourites.
I read lots of fiction and non-fiction. Some I like, and some I don't. It's all down to personal taste.
If someone asks my opinion on a book I always give the positive points as I see them, never the negative. Even if I didn't particularly enjoy the book I do this, because how do I know that the person asking my opinion will not think it's the best thing they've ever read? Again, it's personal taste.

So all you fiction writers out there, keep writing...you are all brilliant!

Sunday, 25 May 2008

'Oh What a Night' - Darlington Civic Theatre

Last night Sat Nav and I went to see Kid Creole (without his coconuts) at Darlington Civic Theatre in a show called 'Oh What A Night!'

We were to meet up with my sister and her friend. We were traveling to the theatre from different directions.... Sat Nav and I heading North while my sister and her friend headed South. We were to meet in the middle, at Darlington.
Sis and friend had decided to have a meal before the show, so when we arrived I phoned her. They were in the Indian restaurant beside the theatre and were told that if they presented their show tickets then they would receive a 10% discount!

I could see the Indian restaurant as we walked towards the ticket office. After collecting our tickets we came out of said Ticket Office and went into the restaurant. Or so we thought!

I looked around and couldn't see my sister anywhere.
A waitress said 'would you like to come this way' I said 'yes, but I'm looking for my sister'. By that time a waiter carrying pizza's walk past us - strange in an Indian restaurant - the penny should have dropped then really. By that time everyone had turned to look at us, probably wondering why we were looking so blank.

I said to the waitress 'is this the Indian restaurant' she said 'no this is the Italian....the Indian Restaurant is next door' lol!!!
How embarrassing is that?

In my defence even though they are next door to each other they do appear to merge into one.. lol!!! That's my excuse anyway...

So we eventually found my sister and her friend enjoying a curry next door in the Indian Restaurant, and they got their 10% off. And the very nice guy in the Indian restaurant brought Sat Nav and I a couple of After Eight mints. How sweet is that ?

On with the show.....The curtain went up at 8pm and the audience were on their feet and dancing in the aisles from then on.

Kid Creole (without his coconuts) but with some great dancers, absolutely rocked. I just love 70s disco music. Now...I know that some may call me sad, but I don't care....you can't beat it.

Here's a taste of the tunes, Celebration, We Are Family, Young Hearts Run Free, Oh What A Night, YMCA and I Will Survive, that we - the audience - took over......bloody marvelous.

The show had a fab finale with terrific audience participation. I doubt if Darlington Civic has rocked so enthusiastically before.....not since The Rocky Horror Show, at least!

That's two nights we've had out on the trot and we are 'in the doghouse' with our lovely dog for leaving him twice!!! Just to make us feel extra guilty he has refused to eat all of his breakfast this morning :-(
He'll have to have lots of special attention today to get us back into his good books. In true doggy fashion he is extremely good at making us feel guilty.....

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Cherish - Charity Fundraiser.

Cherish and Miss Kitty Lit-teur - a fun night!
Last Thursday night I was invited to attend a charity bash at the Slug and Lettuce in Durham. The night was billed as 'Cherish'. All proceeds went to the Butterwick Hospice to help them to look after terminally ill children. I gladly donated a signed copy of my novel Beautiful Strangers to their fund raising efforts.

Luckily I was able to attend, so Sat Nav (Gloria) and I set off up the A1 to County Durham.

Well, I have to tell you something unbelievable...Sat Nav failed me that night! I know you won't believe me, but it's true! I wouldn't care, but I lived in County Durham for years, yet couldn't find my way to The Slug and Lettuce in the city centre. lol!!!

Happily we were rescued from going round and round the roundabouts!
How??????..... I can hear you all shouting!

Well, my niece Amy was on hand because she'd decided to join us and share our night out. A quick distress call to her and she guided us in. All I can say is thank goodness for mobile phones, & Sat Nav - you're sacked! Ouch!

All of the staff at the Slug and Lettuce are courteous and friendly - without exception.
Hazel (deputy manager) who invited me, and Abigail (Manager) were charming, and ensured we were enjoying our evening.

The cabaret and hostess for the evening was billed as Miss Kitty Lit-teur, one of the North East's top Drag Queens. We were in for a treat.......and a helluva surprise!

Why? Well let me tell you. Miss Kitty is one of our long lost friends. Of course there was no chance to catch up properly, it was a brief hello and on with the show.

The show was spectacular! The costumes absolutely fabulous, and the audience participation went down a storm.

Of course I was dancing as usual. Only this time I had a terrific toy boy to dance with. Kenneth - what an absolute charmer you are........
and just like your Dad - a terrific mover ;-)

It was great to see Rolly, another special old friend. Catch up soon Rolly, eh?

Now if you want to see Miss Kitty then visit her website for dates and venues. I do believe she is coming back to Durham in a month's time at the Slug and Lettuce. Check out the websites.

http://www.slugandlettuce.co.uk/durham


I'm sorry I don't have any pics to show you. I forgot my camera :-(

Well done to the organizers for a great evening, and for raising £400.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Mammograms!

Let me get straight to the point!.......When you reach a certain age here in the UK you receive an invitation to go for a mammogram, which is brilliant.

However, when I received my invitation I wasn't sure whether or not it was something I wanted to accept. Why not?

Well, let me tell you why...

Last week I read an article in a book about alternatives to HRT. The book is written by a UK doctor. It said having mammograms increases the risk of cancer because the 'powerful X-ray' can trigger/cause breast cancer. This is one hell of a statement. So it was a dilemma for me to make a decision as to whether or not to have a mammogram as my mother and cousin both died from breast cancer. What was I to do?

My GP was totally understanding. She rang me last Friday, and we had a long discussion during which she urged me to go and have the mammogram.

After due consideration...I went - this morning.

But I did not go empty handed. I actually took my book along with me and showed it to the radiographers who just about hit the roof when they read the piece. They too were understanding and took the time to explain that a mammogram involves only a tiny dose of radiation - they are not regarded as powerful as stated in the book - so the risk to your health is, in fact, small.
Following an interesting, and enlightening conversation, I went ahead with the mammogram.

The book is very negative about mammograms (but I think it's nutrition advice is good) and it would have been very easy for me to cancel the appointment. So the moral of this story is...if you have any doubts talk to your GP before you rush out and cancel your appointment.

For obvious reasons there are no pics or video of this procedure ;-)
But it didn't hurt a bit.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Saturday Night Fever!





Saturday night's alright for dancing!

Johnny7 and Chad Valli - who just happen to be friends of ours - put on fabulous fun 70's disco's.

Last Saturday night they invited us to join them at The Station Hotel in Northallerton for a party night. So we did!

Fancy dress was optional - but as most of you know already I always like to join in the spirit of things ;-)

We had a great night! Good music, good company, great dancing and the proprietor of The Station Hotel was charming. He said he'd never seen anything like it! On reflection I'm not quite sure how to take that remark - but he was smiling and invited us back ;-)

Sounds too good to be true? Well take a look at the pics, and see for yourself.

No prizes for guessing who I went as ;-)

Friday, 4 April 2008

Norman the Gnome goes Gnoming - we think!

The weather has been kind to us in the past few days in the UK, so you can understand that we’ve spent some time in the garden...not actually doing anything practical, of course, but making lots of plans for the coming summer.

Our favourite place to stand and plan is beside the pond, next to Norman, one of our gnomes.

We love Norman and always tell him what’s going to be happening in the garden over the summer. Yesterday was no exception. We told him about the apple tree that’s going to be planted for Katie our horse, and the additional lavender plants that are coming.

So....can you imagine our horror when, this morning, we looked out and saw that Norman was missing!!!!

At first we thought he had toppled into the pond. But no! In his usual place something white glinted in the early sunshine. I rushed outside to check things out and there it was....a brief message scrawled on an envelope...it was so simple...he’s always been a gnome of few words, always preferring to listen.

Photobucket
Well... the little blighter was certainly listening to us yesterday, because as well as discussing the garden we talked about the weather, especially the awful wintry forecast that we’d heard on ITV for the coming weekend.

So...as we see it....It’s all down to Bob Johnson’s wintry weather forecast! (He’s the local ITV weather man) he’s our fave forecaster. Obviously Norman’s taken Bob’s forecast to heart and gone to find some sunshine!

We are so worried. Our Norman’s gone off somewhere - BUT WHERE???

Gone Gnoming - that was all his note said. BUT his little gnome passport that he keeps under the gooseberry bush is missing! So he could be heading anywhere in the world.........


If you think that you might have seen Norman, then do please let us know. Take a good look at his photograph - we don’t want any mistakes!

Photobucket


His friends are worried sick, and it looks like they might set out to find him.
Oh dear, then what will we do?

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Masham Players - The Bolt Hole




As you know I love my amateur dramatics. And last night I was usherette and ice cream seller for my local am. dram. society, Masham Players, in North Yorkshire.

The second the curtain went up on the brilliant set the audience knew they were in for a treat. And we were off on a journey of laughs.

The new director, Susan Rouse, did a cracking job with her casting and they did her proud.

Marjorie Tate, Julie Prescott and Gill Davies played the parts of the three elderly sisters (Joanna and Tessa Hamshaw and May Jones) who inherit an isolated property in the middle of Dartmoor (The Bolt Hole).
The chemistry between these three actors was a joy to watch, and they captivated the audience from the word go.
The sisters are looking forward to peace and quiet after living in London, but things don't turn out as they imagined when guests drop in and become almost part of the family. Complications arise when their niece visits, bringing her fiance, who just happens to be a Detective Inspector. You might guess that the 'guests' are not as innocent as they should be. There were lots of laughs in this comedy which was acted well with great timing (very important) and gusto. They deserve a pat on the back.

The cast and crew work long and hard to bring these productions to fruition. It takes hours to build the set, hours of rehearsals, hours on admin and advertising, and it's all voluntary. The Thursday night audience was treated to a supper courtesy of the Players and all of this puts demands on busy lifestyles.

The new cast members did a great job - I know from personal experience just how hard it is to learn lines and then deliver them convincingly. Well done!

However, I have to say that the entire cast were brilliant. In my opinion they were a credit to Susan's casting and direction. She is no stranger to treading the boards herself being an accomplished actress. She should be proud of her 'Director' debut.
I think she may have found it a bit weird though having to direct her mother (Marjorie Tate) who played the somewhat dizzy sister May :-)

I really enjoyed this play - it made me laugh. I think it was great choice.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Rock and Roll meets Physiotherapy!

I'd been looking forward to seeing this band for weeks, and to catching up with Andy and Shaun. And as you might already know I love to put on my dancing shoes and make an exhibition of myself.

However...I've had a slight hitch as a couple of days previously I was attacked by the wind!

Again, it's no secret that my daily chores include cleaning up after our lovely Katie (horse) - and I'm a proper little Trojan because I do this in all weathers.
For those of you who are familiar with picking up after horses you will know the tools of the trade. For those who are not I'll try to describe them.... a rake that's hard to describe, but very light, and a scoop that resembles a hood on a stick.

I was working away, I'd emptied several scoops into the wheelbarrow in the field, and was carefully picking my way back through the mud into the top paddock when whooooosh...the wind howled around the corner and picked up the scoop - and me - with such force that I became a kite!
I was momentarily swept off my feet in what seemed like slow motion then dumped down hard right onto a boulder. Would you believe I was surrounded by grass, and mud, but I had to bang my hip on the only sodding boulder!

It didn't hurt at the time, so I got up, laughed about it, and carried on. The wind tried to get me again, but I was ahead of it. It wasn't going to catch me out a second time.
Katie looked somewhat amused by it all - but didn't come to offer any help, but did leave me another deposit!

Yesterday was a different story. I was in pain aaaaaarrrrrrrgggghhhhhh!
But...I was determined I wasn't going to let it spoil my dancing, and it didn't...I had waited too long to see this band.

T-Rex had a support group, so we got an unexpected treat.
And I say treat because you don't always know what you're going to get with a support band. But this group rocked!
They are called 'Helter Skelter'. I understand they come from Huddersfield...look out for them, they deserve bigger things. In fact they could have carried the night.

The Town Hall was packed, standing room only. So, I had to keep dancing to give my hip some physiotherapy. Naturally the T-Rex Tribute band were great.

I nearly forgot to tell you, our friend Brian (my Fling it Here, Fling it There co-star) had been pressured into local village hall duties. Of course being the good friend that I am, I rang his mobile phone and let him here the music. Within fifteen minutes Brian appeared in the doorway with a big smile on his face.

During the interval we all enjoyed yummy chocolate cake courtesy of Andy.
Thanks Andy! It was delicious.

Needless to say I am suffering today with my hip, and am in agony sat here typing this! But it was well worth it ;-)

Monday, 18 February 2008

Countryside Pursuits!

Full Moon or Uranus?
I wasn't sure whether I should tell you about this........but I will 'cos it was funny.

Yesterday, while Sat Nav and I were out for a walk with our dog Jack, we came across a walker who was stood looking at his map. He had just climbed over the style from a field and was standing in the grass close to the roadside.

We knew he was not alone, that he had a female companion with him, because we'd seen them walking across the field towards the style. Plus, they were wearing bright red jackets, so couldn't really be missed.

It's not unusual for us to see lots of walkers around here, and they are invariably chatty. This guy was no exception. As soon as we were alongside of him, he spoke and deliberately engaged us in conversation. He left us no alternative but to stop and chat, and being the polite pair that we are, we did just that.

His female companion did not appear over the style though, but stayed behind the hedgerow - which I thought was a bit odd.

I soon found out why!

Remember, it's winter here in England, and the hedgerow is very thin - actually skeleton thin!

While we were discussing the delights of the warm weather, something attracted my attention through the hedge. There was a flash. I couldn't believe my eyes...why was I seeing a full moon in the middle of the day?...the female (who was still behind the hedgerow with her back to me) suddenly pulled down her trousers, and YES, you've got it - she proceeded to have a pee!!! But did she know that she was doing it in full view for all to see?????
Somehow I don't think so ;-)

I snook a glance at Sat Nav and her expression said it all! Then I had a tremendous urge to cover Jack's eyes lol!!!

Meanwhile, said man is still rabbiting on seemingly oblivious to the fact that his companion is relieving herself not three feet away lol!

How I kept a straight face I'll never know - needless to say Sat Nav and I couldn't look at each other until we were well out of earshot!

Now I know what the term 'Ring around Uranus' means lol!!!

Hope this little tale brightens your day!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Masham Players Spring Production 2008

Our spring play for 2008 is the gentle comedy "The Bolt Hole" by Langton
Smith. This is a three act play set in an isolated farm house on Dartmoor
and has a cast of four women and five men.

The reading for the play was held in January and was well attended. Since
then rehearsals have been progressing steadily with a good deal of fun and
laughter. In addition to 'old hands' we are pleased to welcome a new
producer, Susan Rouse, plus four newcomers to the Masham stage.

We wish them all the best and feel sure that they will all enjoy their first experience of "treading the boards" at the Town Hall . . . and we all know what that feels like ;-)

Venue: The Town Hall, Masham, North Yorkshire.
Performance dates: March 13th, 14th, and 15th.
Curtain up at 7.30pm. sharp!
Tickets on sale from Marsden Pharmacy, Market Place, Masham, during normal business hours.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Blood Pressure!

Well . . . I have been back to my GP for my results today.

You will all be delighted to learn that my heart is beating just as it should. My bad cholesterol level isn't too high; I just need to keep a watchful eye on my diet. The muffins are still off limits though ;-(

As for the smoking . . . well, I will try my very best to stop!

There is one little irritation that needs some attention - no, not Gloria (or Sat Nav as some of you will know her) . . . how could you all think that lol!!!
It seems my blood pressure is misbehaving, and very soon I will have to use a monitor for a week. And then yet another visit to my doctors . . . but what chance do I stand when they insist on playing such awful music in the waiting room! Bring on the rest and relaxation cd's PLEASE!

Monday, 11 February 2008

Life's a Beach!

To celebrate the sunshine and a special date in our personal calender Sat Nav (Gloria) and I decided to have an away day. Because we live in the heart of the countryside we thought it would be nice to go to the beach for a change. Sat Nav had a yearning to see the sea. So we packed the car, told our dog Jack that he was in for a treat, and headed off to Filey.

As you probably know things never go as smoothly as one would wish in our camp! Our journeys are legendary.
Yesterday, Sat Nav was on good form until we reached a roundabout complete with diversion signs, that we hadn't seen until we were ready to come off the roundabout at the wrong exit. Sat Nav got in a flap when I said, 'a trip to the opticians might be in order!'

What followed was a very interesting and totally bloody confusing detour, zig zagging through an industrial estate, a large housing estate, ending up in a Morrisons petrol station.

Sat Nav went in to ask for help and the extremely kind and helpful cashier who used to live in Filey gave her perfect directions to get us back on course. A big THANK YOU is in order here.

We arrived at Filey expecting to see a deserted beach and a handful of people. Despite the sunshine it's still winter. So you can imagine our total shock to see that the world and his wife were there, complete with a nation of dogs and hardly a parking space to be found.

Of course we did find one because I always believe that I will and set out to join the throng.

We enjoyed a walk along the beach, were intrigued by the sculptured cliffs and the happy holiday atmosphere. Jack wanted to be everywhere at once, and he couldn't understand why this big puddle could move. Although he's not one for getting his feet wet in normal circumstances, he was desperate to take a closer look at the North Sea and tried to take me with him ;-)




You'll be pleased to know that our journey home was without hiccups. And, as with all of the best story's, we drove off into the most beautiful sunset you can imagine.

All-in-all a truly special day - although at one point I was on the verge of sacking Sat Nav!

One more thing. Beware! Inflation hits Filey - make a note that the middle 'attended' toilets will cost you 40p for a pee!!!!!!!! So if you need to go, don't go here!

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Book Review

Beautiful Strangers book review by Victoria Oldham Victoria Oldham has written an interesting review on my novel Beautiful Strangers, that I hope you will find the time to read.

You can link to it Victoria's review

Victoria is herself an accomplished writer, and several of her articles appear on Suite 101. Check her out - you will not be disappointed.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

A horse with a sense of humour . . .



and a passion for water.

A lot of horses don't like water. In fact some positively freak out if they have to go through it. Not ours!

Yesterday and today have been two of the wettest days we've had this year, and our home field is absolutely sodden. So, our horse Katie, who loves water - and mud - decided to play in her new pond!
She was a Grey Mare and now looks more like Black Beauty lol!
Thank goodness she was wearing her best winter coat so that she wasn't completely black.

The land falls away from the house down the valley, just gently, but enough so that we can't actually see the ground in a far corner of Katie's home field from our windows. What we hadn't realized was that the rain had collected in this corner giving Katie something she's probably always wanted - a really deep paddling pool.

The first we knew about it was when we saw her trying to dig a hole in that corner - or so we thought - what she was actually doing was splashing like hell and having a whale of a time.
As a result said lovely winter coat is soaked and so is she.
After a really good splash about she was totally giddy and rocketed up the field bucking for joy.
What can we say, except . . . there's life in the old mare yet?! Or, is she just completely crackers?!
Happily, we can say both ;-)

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Ruth Atkinson - Women of Windlestone

From one of my November 2007 blogs came an interesting discovery.

This particular blog was about my childhood friend Anita's birthday. Remember on her birthday she was presenting on Bishopfm Radio and we surprised her with a visit? On that day her daughter Ruth Atkinson was guesting on the show to talk about her film/documentary entitled 'Women of Windlestone'. Ruth researched, directed and produced the film herself and, it seems, Ruth uncovered a Government secret that had been kept for 60 years.

Windlestone Hall, in County Durham, was originally built and owned by the Eden family. It is now empty and in need of some TLC.
Well . . . it seems as a direct result of this particular blog . . . a descendant of the Eden family contacted Anita regarding Ruth's film.
This is quite a coincidence and it just goes to prove, yet again, the power of the internet and blogging.

Ruth is a well respected script supervisor. She will be jetting off to the Middle East next week on behalf of the BBC. You can check her out on IMDb.

All the best Ruth.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Low-energy light bulbs.

It was interesting, and depressing, to read the article in Saturday's Daily Mail January 5th by Jenny Hope their medical correspondent.

The heading read Low-energy light bulbs can damage your skin and the first line read ENERGY-SAVING light bulbs can be bad for your skin, doctors are warning.

The article went on to say several other things including a quote from Doctor Colin Holden president of the BAD who said, 'It is important that patients with photo sensitive skin are allowed to use lights that don't exacerbate their condition. Photo sensitive eruptions range from disabling eczema-like reactions, to light sensitivities that can lead to skin cancer.'

The article urges the government to allow incandescent light bulbs to be available for these people as, according to Andrew Langford of the Skin Care Campaign, incandescent light bulbs are the only source of electric light suitable for many thousands of people with light-sensitive conditions.

Apparently these Low-energy light bulbs also cause eye irritation, blurred vision, Migraine and dizziness.

This is affecting me and I couldn't understand why. Now I know. I found out a couple of years ago when I consulted a GP/Homeopath for something entirely different. He told me then that I was sensitive to fluorescent lights. At the time I didn't realize that Low-energy light bulbs came into that category so promptly changed all of our light bulbs thinking I was doing the right thing. I wonder how many other people have done the same? Today I went out and bought two ordinary light bulbs and was surprised to find another customer doing the same thing while expressing the same concerns - she too had read the article.

I did use the Government's recommended energy bulbs with the ESR logo - not cheap rubbish.
I will eventually replace all of our energy light bulbs!

I hope the Government take on board the seriousness of the Daily Mail's report. They complain about the high cost of the NHS so lets hope they don't make it higher by ignoring these health warnings. After all, they banned smoking in public places. I think this is worse because you can't see the nasty energy coming from light bulbs. And, of course in winter it's worse - because you need to have the lights on more.

Now I will get off my soapbox.

I would appreciate your thoughts about this and would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year 2008


Hope your new year celebrations went with a bang, and that you're not nursing hangovers today.

Sat Nav and I boogied our way from 2007 into 2008 with only brief interruptions to refill our glasses. Sat Nav is nursing a G&T hangover today, whereas I am not because I only had one glass of Whisky - that was for you Cynn!


We sang and danced to Abba, Shirley Bassey, Shania Twain, Madonna and Olivia Newton-John. Sat Nav's rendition of Don't Cry for me Argentina has to be heard to be appreciated lol! And guess what? She videod me singing Mamma Mia, and not only that, she wants me to upload it for you all to see. Hmmm . . . I'm not so sure lol!
She is very persuasive . . . but what do you think I should do?

Here's wishing you all a healthy, happy and musical 2008.