Edward Explores: Bars, beaches and many tasty treats

Edward February at bar

Those of you who follow the adventures of my intrepid teddy bear, Edward, will be aware that he enjoys the occasional pudding. This past month has therefore been a good one for him. It has included: a birthday celebration lasting an entire weekend, a few days away on the Devon coast, and Valentines Day. Although he understands why some eschew the latter event, Edward’s heart holds enough love for everyone and he has enjoyed the sweet treats made available to mark each of these various occasions.

The birthday bearer opted to eat out at a local pub to mark her special day. Naturally, Edward was invited to join the attendees. He was somewhat concerned when the kind waitress delivered the order placed, and then relieved when his food finally arrived at the table.

Edward February with chips Edward February with pie

Edward February with pudding2  Edward February with pudding1

The next day was the actual birthday so a cake was made. Edward sampled the first slice and declared it delicious. He wondered if it contained carrot because the newly aged bearer is a vegetarian.

Edward February with birthday cake  Edward February eating cake

With the weather set fair for the time of year it was decided that a trip away was in order. It is quite some time since Edward visited Devon so this is where he was taken. He stayed in a rather nice hotel that understood the need for stocking the room and its fridge with welcoming treats.

Edward February on Torquay bed  Edward February with Torquay treats

Edward enjoyed drinks by the fire and a selection of sweets with coffee each evening.

Edward February with gin  Edward February with sweets

Days were spent exploring the blustery coastline. As well as walks, Edward took a bus ride and found a shop selling tasty ice-cream cones. On his return to the hotel he was pleased to find his biscuit supply replenished.

Edward February by beach  Edward February on bus

Edward February with giant ice cream  Edward February with biscuits

Dinner at the hotel was quite a quirky experience. Live piano music was played on a baby grand that turned out to be electric. Singers were accompanied by a recorded soundtrack with volume intruding on conversation. The food was, however, much to Edward’s liking, although the menu remained sadly unchanged throughout his stay. He also regretted not packing more changes of clothing as he always prefers to feel suitably dressed – and dapper – for every occasion.

Edward February with pudding5  Edward February with pudding3  Edward February with pudding4

On the final day Edward came across some welcome signs of spring. It may still be regularly cold and a tad damp but the promise of better weather is cheering.

Edward February by spring flowers

As mentioned earlier, Edward likes to mark Valentine’s Day. He made a banoffee pie for his bearers, and they made a coffee and walnut cake for him.

Edward February with banoffee  Edward February with coffee cake

Edward hopes that all his readers have a bear to hug, and that they enjoy the unconditional love offered by a teddy.

He and Elizabeth were recently spotted planning another party for later in the year. And Edward is already making plans for his next exciting adventure…

Edward February with Elizabeth

Crashing a party in reverse

This post was written for the Remember the Time Blog Hop, hosted by The Waiting. This month we are asked to remember the time we got into trouble with the law.

Remember the Time Blog Hop at notthehardestpart.com

I got my first, and hopefully only ever, enforced ride in a police patrol car as a result of the fallout from a party that I didn’t even attend. These were the consequences of that night of mayhem: a dressing down from the upholders of law and order; an eviction notice from my landlord; a summons to explain myself to the university authorities; having to admit to my parents that I had moved out and screwed up. In the end I could put all but one of these behind me.

No matter how well prepared a young person may feel when they first leave the parental home, there are certain life lessons that will only be learned through experience. It is important to know how to budget wisely for rent, food and transport when income is meagre. Limited cooking skills need to be honed when a thrifty but nutritious meal must be planned for and prepared every day. Even though one is free to throw a party without permission and a plethora of rules, it is still wise not to invite an entire pub full of inebriated strangers back to your new gaff after hours.

I had taken a room in a large house located in the streets behind my university. It was the summer and most students had left the city so I had the place to myself. The landlord owned a number of properties which he let out on an annual basis, room by room. As is typical of student accommodation, they were basic and run down. The house I moved into was also filthy. Bags full of rubbish had been left in the kitchen by the previous occupants and large, black insects scurried between them, feasting on the contents. As I lay in bed at night I was petrified to hear mice scratching under the furniture in my room. However, I had finally achieved freedom and convinced myself that this made the discomfort worthwhile.

I decided to have a few friends round for a house-warming, arranging to meet them in a pub down town. Even then I was nervous about how successfully I could host such an event. The big, old house seemed so bare and I was unsure how many people would wish to join me. My circle of friends was in flux and many of those I knew were away for the summer months anyway. I cannot recall why I had thought this gathering would be a fun thing to do.

Only a few of my friends turned up at the pub. As I nursed my drinks and accepted more I began to worry about how cavernous the house would seem, how unfestive the atmosphere would be. When last orders were called the solution came to me: here I was, rocking in a pub filled with happy people, I would invite them all.

I suspect that my friends were a little concerned when I announced my plans to the assembled company, but I was not to be dissuaded. We made our way back to the house and I surveyed the attendees who had rowdily followed. So many strangers, and the young man I had really wanted to be there still absent. As I had done many times in the past, I decided that this party wasn’t for me and left, somehow forgetting in the fuzz of alcohol that this was not how one typically acted as host. In my head I wished to be with my crush, not here, so set off across town to find him. I told no one of my plans.

The medics accommodation was silent and still as one would expect at that time of night. There was no reply when I knocked on his door, I hadn’t considered that he may be elsewhere. My befuddled brain reasoned that he would likely be back soon, so I sat down in his doorway to wait. I fell asleep.

At around 5am he returned, rather shocked to find his stalker blocking the way. On waking I realised two things: this was a really embarrassing situation for which I had no explanation that I was willing to admit; it was daylight and I had missed my own party. Leaving my crush to come to whatever conclusions he wished, I bid him farewell and made my way back onto the streets. I realised that I was not wearing any shoes and had no idea why.

I had only walked a short distance when the police patrol pulled up alongside me. That the policeman knew my name worried me so much that I could not fully register what he was telling me, only that I was required to get in the car. Once ensconced in the back they kindly suggested taking me to my parents house, which in my estimation was akin to driving me to my execution. It seemed that my friends at the party had reported me missing to the policemen who had been called to the house by neighbours, concerned about a loud and lively event that appeared to be getting out of hand.

Later that morning, with a hangover that should have been punishment enough for any misdemeanour, I had to face my angry landlord who had been called by the police in the wee small hours. He was not interested in anything I had to say and informed me that I had twenty-four hours to leave the place. This meant that I had to call my parents anyway, as I had nowhere else to go. In my estimation I could sink no lower.

Perhaps amazingly, when the drunken bodies had slept off their excesses and left, there was no damage to the bare property. Neighbours were appeased and no charges were pressed. The police, who reappeared to give me a strict talking down, seemed to relent when they saw my misery. I guess sometimes it helped that I was a young, slim, blond female who could find her manners when she had to.

I felt horribly guilty, foolish and decidedly ill. I spent the day packing up my few possessions and cleaning the place from top to bottom, an act that resulted in my landlord subsequently returning the month in advance rent that I had paid along with my deposit. He withdrew the formal complaint that he had lodged with the university authorities and told them that I was a lovely young girl but needed to choose my friends more wisely. The university satisfied itself of my contrition and let the matter go.

To this day I have no idea who attended that party or how it went. I was married and with kids before I hosted another big gathering at my home. Other experiences from that night I have not repeated: sleeping in a doorway; losing my shoes; stalking a crush. No matter how law abiding I may consider myself to be, I will still feel nervous if I ever find myself being observed by the boys in blue on patrol.

 

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Time for reflection

I sat down yesterday to write this post and stopped. I needed time to reflect on the myriad of thoughts and feelings that were swirling around inside me. The past few days have been quite different to the life I normally lead. Different in a mostly good way but with a few challenges, my reaction to which I needed time to process. Yesterday I was running on very little sleep and I needed to know that it wasn’t this that was clouding my vision.

I had set myself a number of goals early last week, some of which included submitting a few pieces of writing to various sites. With my other commitments I ended up on Friday needing to either abandon these plans or sit down quietly for several hours to catch up. I chose the latter.

I am not normally so disciplined when writing but I enjoyed the exercise and submitted the pieces as planned. I then had to step away from my computer to rearrange our house for a party my daughter was hosting on Saturday night. She did most of the cleaning and tidying herself but I needed to move some furniture around and get ahead of the family tasks that I would not have the chance to accomplish over the weekend.

Our family room and kitchen provided the main party space.

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Our lounge was turned into a massive bed with mattresses, duvets and blankets covering as much of the floor as we could manage.

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It was a fabulous party. Seventeen teenagers attended meaning that we had twenty in the house. It was loud but happy and all seemed to have a lot of fun. My daughter had billed it an All Night Marvel Movie Marathon and little sleep was had by any of us. Between films (they watched five in total) they played pool, listened to music and had those serious discussions that intelligent teenagers excel at. In the background I was producing as much food as I could get through my oven, plating it and clearing debris.

To protect the innocent I will not be posting any of the during or after photos. Suffice to say there was no damage but a lot of mess to clear up. My husband took over kitchen duties in the morning to produce a late breakfast fry up and by the afternoon we were able to cut the enormous cake that my younger son and I had made the previous day.

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All in all, a successful twenty-four hours and one very happy daughter.

Now, as anyone who follows my blog regularly will know, I have grown very uncomfortable with social situations in the past few years. I was therefore particularly pleased that I got through this weekend without any panic attacks, and I surprised myself by enjoying the whole event. I physically hurt yesterday evening from lack of sleep but it was worth it.

Having delivered the last of the party goers to the train station late afternoon I was glad to put my feet up and see how my submitted stories had been received. I was aware that there was a discussion brewing on one of the sites but had not had time to consider a response to this as carefully as I would have liked. On another site my story was receiving very mixed reviews.

As a writer it is hard for me to critique my own work. In my head I will have all the background to each character along with the reasoning behind their behaviour. Getting this down using only necessary words can be tricky, it is the skill of the trade. Often my reader’s interpretations will be unexpected.

One of the stories I submitted received some very positive feedback. It also bombed in the voting; it was on this site that the discussion brewed. Other writers noted that the number of reads their story clocked up was around a quarter of the total votes cast. Clearly not all voters read every story as instructed. There was speculation that followers voted for those whose writing they knew and liked without reading the other submissions. It was pointed out that the rules were the same for everyone so, whilst this may not be ideal, it was not unfair.

I hope that the increased interest in this weekly challenge does not wane and that the relaxed and friendly atmosphere on the site can be maintained. I understand why the discussion happened. It can be disheartening to submit a story and have it ignored by so many. However, the quality of the writing is high and all feedback is useful. I do wonder about entering each week but I enjoy writing the stories and welcome the readers I get.

On the second site I discovered a different state of affairs. The story I had submitted was receiving lots of views and trending. It was also generating a lot of negative comments. Some readers liked it but quite a few considered it poorly written, sloppily punctuated and one even described it as incoherent.

Naturally I feel happier with positive feedback than negative. However, all feedback is useful and I was grateful that readers had taken the time to explain the aspects of my writing that they felt were weak. I will take all of their comments on board. I smiled wryly to myself though that the apparently badly written story ranked better than the supposedly well written one in the challenges to which they were submitted.

I will never make it as a writer if I allow myself to become too sensitive to criticism. To improve I need to keep practising and to work on the shortcomings highlighted by readers. I will try to produce another couple of stories this week, I will not give up just because I submitted a story that was not well received by all.

As a novice writer it feels as though I have reached another milestone on my journey. Now I need to get my house in order. Fun though the party was, I may take some time to fully recover.

Hype and choice

What is it that makes something fun? The 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who was much hyped, drawing fans and those with just a passing interest together into anticipation of a big event. Perhaps some had rose coloured, childhood memories of the show; others may have believed that this episode was going to be as truly special as the build up made out. I suspect a fair few will have watched it just so that they didn’t feel they were missing out on something that would subsequently be discussed. The potential for disappointment was high.

And now there are those who are complaining; I do not understand why they feel so hard done by. This is a kids television show. Sure, it has a lot of fans of all ages, but it is still a kids show. Did the kids enjoy it? Mine certainly did, and I thought it was well done.

The true fans will watch it and watch it again and again, seeking out the myriad of potential meanings, the nuances, the references to plot lines from episodes past and potential for future development. They will discuss and dissect on their forums and blogs, exchanging theories and guessing at what may be to come. They will probably enjoy this subsequent activity at least as much as watching the episode itself.

When an event is hyped it can be hard to ignore but we do have that choice. I have no interest in sport so, when the Olympics came to nearby London, I took no notice. I was happy to see friend’s delight as they obtained tickets to even the obscure events just to be a part of it all. They talked of a once in a lifetime opportunity, not to be missed. I chose to miss it because I had no interest; there were some who saw this as a flaw in me, they felt I should be supporting those who had worked so hard to get there.

I can understand the benefits from such events. It is like a huge party, a chance for sharing with strangers as well as friends. It is not obligatory to take part though. I would not wish to rain on anybody’s parade but sometimes I simply do not wish to attend. Those who have worked so hard to get there will have devoted a large chunk of their lives to doing so. I question how worthwhile that is, to devote so much time and effort to a transitory achievement. Of course I can see that it is an achievement. Going for that goal is their choice, just as it is the spectator’s choice to cheer them on, and mine to let it all pass me by.

My daughter went to the cinema with friends last night to watch The Day of the Doctor. It was an excuse for an enjoyable night out. As a family we chose to get involved in the build up, following the many interviews and trailers, watching several of the shows made specially, before the main episode aired. We enjoyed being a part of this. Having such fun is good, however insignificant an event may be in the grand scheme of things.

We are each free to choose which parties we attend. I have no interest in royal weddings, anniversaries or babies. I have no interest in sport, televised competitions or reality shows. I wish the people involved no ill will, but do not wish to join in, even when their celebrations are hyped and prove popular.

When a TV show or a film franchise offers an excuse to create a virtual gathering then I may decide to join that. It is a little bit of light hearted distraction from the routine of life, nothing serious. Whether or not the episode or film itself is any good is almost irrelevant if the build up and taking part is enjoyed.

Events of substance can bring us down. The serious matters to be considered in the world around can exhaust and depress as they are so hard to influence and change. From time to time getting involved in something frivolous can be a good thing, but I will not take these things too seriously. I will not complain of disappointment if a much hyped event that I chose to take notice of does not deliver whatever it was that I expected.

I wonder what the next big thing will be and if it will capture my imagination and draw me in. It can be enjoyable to join in the excitement with those who are like minded. Fun, but not important, not obligatory.

I will not criticise this Doctor or that Doctor for not portraying the character as I may wish. The show works because each reincarnation is different, and each has it’s own loyal following. Some episodes may be stronger than others but the franchise remains popular, there are still plenty who enjoy it. Isn’t that what entertainment is all about?

To those who feel let down that Doctor Who is not as they would wish remember, you can choose not to pay attention.

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And so Cinderella went to the ball

My sixteen year old daughter has spent this afternoon preparing for her school prom. Her beautiful dress was bought months ago at a discount store; the accessories have been cobbled together from bits and pieces that either she or I already owned; the transport would have been a decorated trailer with straw bales and ribbons, organised by friends, but this became impractical when the weather turned seriously wet and windy; they will now arrive in parent’s cars. She has done her own make up and requested that I help with her hair. As neither of us has any expertise in this area, I can only hope that we have created a look that will be in some way acceptable for such an event.

I dislike this sort of ostentation with a passion. If it were marketed as a simple party then I would question the timing (GCSE exams start in earnest next week) but could shrug my shoulders and let it go. If it were a Leaver’s Do; a chance for classmates to enjoy a final get together before heading their separate ways; then I could understand the significance. However, most of the two hundred plus students attending will return to school next week to sit their GCSE’s, and be back next year to prepare for ‘A’ levels. In my mind it is an expensive, American import that does not fit with the structure of British schooling where there is no high school graduation. It is an extravagant excuse for the cool kids to flaunt and compete in the dress and beauty stakes.

I am blessed to have a very beautiful daughter. Not only is she gorgeous on the outside but she is independent, original and sassy in her thinking. Not for her the dyed blonde hair, fake tan and must have, fashion clothing. If her hair needs a wash or her legs need a wax then it is probably because she was too engrossed in her writing to think about such fripperies. If the way she looks raises negative comments then she considers such concerns to be other people’s problems. Whose business but hers is it what she looks like? Loki is her hero: ‘I do what I want!’

When she announced in the New Year that she wanted to go to prom I was a little taken aback. She generally eschews crowds, unless at a rock concert, and complains bitterly about the banal music played too loudly at disco’s, where she prefers to stand at the back drinking tea with a few close friends. Prom, with it’s pretty dresses and prettified girls (who could look so lovely without the spurious interventions), seemed the antithesis of what she would consider to be a fun night out.

Having recently cleared out her bedroom and unceremoniously dumped everything pink in favour of black, I was curious to see what sort of dress she would wish to wear. The one she found looks amazing on her, but is so different to her normal look. Still feeling a bit bah humbug about the whole event I refused to fund any purchases beyond the normal cost of a dress (kudos to her for finding a suitable garment in this price range) and the entrance ticket. Being the girl that she is, she managed to beg or borrow all that she didn’t already own and to blag a lift with some friends who had already organised their transport. Whilst I admire her resourcefulness, I am still surprised that she has chosen to attend.

Nevertheless, I helped her to get ready and provided the taxi service to get her to the required meeting point near the expensive venue where the prom is to be held. I sincerely hope that she and her friends have a fabulous evening. I think it is ridiculous that her school promotes this sort of endeavour, but am aware that there are many who find the prospect exciting and who have poured hundreds of pounds into their preparation. Perhaps my daughter wishes to witness the extravagance as much as take part; I guess even I am looking forward to seeing the photographs that she has promised to take.

For the sake of all those who are making the effort to create a memorable event, I hope that the forecast heavy rain and high winds take a break to allow for the arrivals; the competition for transport originality is often amusing if preposterous. After the anticipation, it would be such a shame if the dream of looking like a prince or princess for a night were washed and blown away by the weather before the festivities could even begin; I do not wish to see anyone’s reverie ruined.

For my daughter though, I do not believe that she has too high expectations for the evening and regards it as an excuse to party with friends. From what she has told me, many of those at her table are well grounded about the whole rigmarole; they will hopefully be able to enjoy a laugh together however it goes. I have no issue with my daughter thinking differently to me and wishing to attend. She looked stunning done up in her finery; I hope she has a ball.

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