Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dear John...The Gala Event

Yes, it's true! The day after last week's failed attempt to see Dear John, I received an e-mail from LoveFilm telling me that I had won their Dear John competition...a ticket to the Gala Screening...PLUS a Q&A with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried after the movie! So not only do I get to see the movie (finally!), I get to meet the stars up close. I didn't mention it earlier, in case I couldn't get there for some reason and then that would have been a really boring post!

After I had arranged another early afternoon off work, I made the trip into the city for the second time today (I had taken the kids to The Transport Museum this morning), to the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square and arrived a whole hour early, happy to stand in the cold and the rain, until they opened the doors at 6.00pm.

I managed to get a seat four rows from the front and without giving too much away, the movie was brilliant (better than the book, especially at the end...that's all I'll say!).

As the credits were rolling, out came Channing and Amanda for the Q&A session that lasted about half an hour. Can I just be all girly and teenager-y (?) for a minute? Yes? OK. Guess what?? Channing walked right past me and in one of my photos (above) he is looking right at me!! He is just yummy!

OK. Back to acting my age now! It was a great night out and you just have to see the movie.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

I had to work this afternoon so, after church, I took the kids to Kew Bridge Steam Museum...which, to my surprise, actually turned out to be a fun day out for all!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dear John...The Non-Event

I bet you thought my next post would be about how great it was to see Dear John in the city on Tuesday night, right?

Well, I didn't get to see it at all! My whole house (both bosses and me...strangely the kids are fine) have been struck down with gastro since Monday, a fact that not only ruined my whole night out on Tuesday, but is now in it's third day and I've had enough. And, now I'll have to wait until April to see Dear John at the movies...but not for free!

The only upside of having been confined to the house, has been some quality DVD-watching time (New Moon was out on Monday!), but even all the old movies are getting a bit boring now.

I'm looking forward to the weekend and being able to get out of the house...oh, and maybe eat a meal too!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

Umm...I didn't actually go anywhere today (other than Sainsbury's), so here's an old pic from early days in London.

Spring flowers in Regents Park.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dear John...The Movie

Turns out that I don't have to wait until April to see Dear John at the movies because....


And on a facebook competition, can you believe it?

And who says I never win anything? Oh! Because it's usually true.

Hang on. Will there be red carpet? Will I need to buy a new dress, shoes, handbag? Maybe not, but I think a box of tissues may be in order.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunday Snapshots

Today was the St Patrick's Day Parade in London...La Fheile Padraig!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dear John

I have just finished reading the book "Dear John" by Nicholas Sparks.

I should have known what to expect since he also wrote "The Notebook" (I haven't read the book but the movie left me reeling for days after and I have only ever watched it once).

The first I heard of "Dear John", the movie, was that a few of my friends on facebook had seen it, loved it, and since I discovered that it stars Channing Tatum (if you don't know who he is, check him out. You won't be sorry!), I knew this would be one to see. But, after finding out that it's not on here until April, I did something I don't usually do...I deliberately read the book first.

I don't want to give away any spoilers on purpose but in case I do, I won't be upset if you stop reading this post right now!

After working my way through almost a whole box of tissues, I got to the end of the book. I learned that I am a lover of the fairytale. If it was up to me, every story would have a happy ending...or at least the ending that I want!

So, if you're looking for a good read and you don't mind a book that will make you cry so much that you'll never be able to read it on the bus, then I can recommend this one. I just hope the movie can live up to it.

But if not, I really don't mind. Two hours spend watching Channing Tatum on the big screen will be worth every penny of the 9 pound ticket price!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Not your average day at the office

OK. So I am determined to write more often, even if it's about nothing. Apologies in advance.

I have been thinking lately that all I seem to say about my new career makes it sound like a walk in the park (no pun intended!). But it's actually exhausting and sometimes draining work.

The average day might consist of a 7.30am start to help get the kids ready for school, making sure that smocks are on, sports bags contain sports gear and not a princess dress, teeth are cleaned, shoes are on (and on the right feet), kitchen is cleaned up after the breakfast chaos and coats put on and zipped up. Then it's out the door, remembering to lock up behind us and into the car, making sure that all items actually get from the front door to the car, both kids are strapped in and have sufficient reading material for the journey to school. Trust me, searching for just the right tractor book is not something I want to do at the last minute!

Next comes the actual journey to school which can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour, depending on London traffic, the whole time being filled with the eternal "why ?" questions and "What does that sign say? The one with the thing? We just drove past it! What did it SAY??", while trying to concentrate on the road.

Arriving at the first school, it's out of the car for both, trying to keep an eye on 4-year-old, while his sister runs screaming around the yard with all her fellow 6 year old classmates and me chatting politely to the other mums and nannies at the gate. Then it's 8.45am, the eldest is safely in her classroom, then it's back in the car for me and 4-year-old, in the mad dash to his the total opposite direction!

Ding-ding: round two, with more screaming and chatting (by the kids and nannies, respectively...although sometimes this can be the other way around!) and then both kids are in class and I have some peace until lunch time.

The first school pick up I usually do on foot, which is a good 30 minutes from home, but it's a nice walk...if it's not raining! The walk home is usually through the woods, where we can collect anything from sticks to bunches of wild chives. Back home for a hot lunch, possibly a playdate, a walk/scooter ride to the park or to feed the ducks or just trains, trains and more trains! Not forgetting to clean up the kitchen, load the dishwasher or empty the rubbish, as required.

Before I know it, it's time for School Pick Up #2, in the car this time. 4-year-old usually falls asleep straight away and I use the time waiting for the school gate to open as my lunch break and the chance to read a few pages of a book. 6-year-old collected, it's time to head home, to the library or to ballet, depending on the day (and the mood!), afternoon snack is served and then it's play until dinner time (after I've cleaned up the kitchen, loaded yet more stuff into the dishwasher, tidied away the contents of the school bags and helped with any homework).

While I'm cooking dinner, the kids usually play or might watch a bit of TV. The eating of dinner can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour, depending on what it is and the mood...again! Then it's time for bath, pyjamas to be put on, teeth cleaned, clothes for tomorrow sorted out, water for the bedside table refreshed, stories chosen and read and finally cuddles and tucking the kids into bed.

While they slip off into dreamland, I'm back down in the kitchen, loading the rest of the dishes into the dishwasher, cleaning the kitchen and emptying the rubbish, as required.

It makes me tired just reading all of that. My full appreciation goes out to all the mums and nannies who have been doing this for a lot longer than I have.

But with all the running around and constant questions, you have the moments that make it all worth while. Yesterday, 4-year-old said to me, after finishing his dinner: "I really like you. I think I'm going to keep you forever".

No one ever said that to me at the office!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunday Snapshot (and a little bit more!)

Today was one of those gorgeous winter-sunshine days that London turns on every now and then purely, I believe, just to prove to the rest of the world that they can have blue skies here. Still bitterly cold, though!

After church this morning, I wandered down Piccadilly to Fortnum and Mason where, if I had a spare 15 pounds, I could have purchased an oven-baked tarantula direct from Cambodia (True! I wouldn't lie to you about something like that!). Choosing to pass on the cooked creepy-crawlies, the scorpion vodka (sadly, also true!) and chocolate-coated ants (true, again!) on offer in their foodhall (think I'll stick with Harrods from now on!), I headed back out to the street, made my way past The Ritz Hotel, through Green Park, past Buckingham Palace, down The Mall and back to the tube station at Embankment.

Londoners and tourists alike were out enjoying the sunshine that you could actually feel, at the same time as the Arctic winds all the way to your bones.

It was such a great day out that I am choosing to block out all memory of my journey home, consisting of two trains and one over-crowded, slow-as-a-week-of-wet-Sundays bus, filled with noisy teenagers...


Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Piece of Home

Assuming that it was going to be a wet day (I really need to stop listening to weather forecasts here!), I headed out to Westfield London on this lovely sunny day.

Which was good thing because the place was very quiet. I have missed mall shopping since being in the UK and there is a lot to be said for being able to do all your shopping under one roof. High Street shopping was a novelty for me when I first arrived and after battling Oxford Street on one-too-many manic Sunday afternoons, being back in familiar surrounds was a treat.

Although the shops are different, I could have been at any Westfield back home, and that is something I need right now. Not that I have had too much homesickness, but just little things have set me off lately. It started about 2 weeks ago when my skype connection cut out in the middle of calling home for my niece's 11th birthday, then one night this week, while cooking sausages I discovered that simple tongs are just something that the greater British public does not seem to feel a need for. See? Little things.

But that seems to have passed now and I'm sure it will hit me again later on. Just one of the "joys" of being an expat, I guess.

It was nice to be out of suburbia too. I feel like I have been stuck here the last couple of weeks, up to my elbows in baked beans on toast, school runs, birthday parties and play-dates.

I feel much refreshed after my little piece of home today (I wish I had some Tim Tams, though!) and may just head back into the city tomorrow. Must remember to check TFL for travel updates and line closures after I foolishly jumped on my usual bus today, without checking online first, and found my line closed...on a Saturday! I made it eventually, after a very long bus trip, and if that's the worst that happens to me on public transport in London, I figure I'm doing OK.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

This is where I spent my Sunday - at a disco party with 20 six-year-olds.