Sunday, July 29, 2007

Gardens galore

I had a lovely weekend visiting my aunt and uncle, and on Saturday we went to Hampton Court Palace.

If you ever go, make sure to visit the Tilting Yard Café. We sat out on their patio in the glorious sunshine, surrounded by trees and ate lovely sandwiches, fresh lemonade (actual lemonade, not Sprite which is what the Brits call lemonade) and a delicious brownie.

After our lunch, we walked from garden to garden all the way around the outside of the palace. Each section of garden was distinct and it seemed that behind every wall there was a completely new garden to see. There were manicured yew trees, stunning flower beds, a "Great Vine" and naked people statues. My favourite outdoor feature was the two pond gardens that visitors can't walk through. You had to poke your head in through little viewing holes in the tall border hedge.

Inside the palace, we went on a tour with a lady in costume who told us a ghost story about King Henry VIII's fifth wife (beheaded for having an affair). Then we walked around the kitchens which had been set up to look as it would have in the early 1500s. There were several rooms, all necessary to feed the 500+ people that would dine at court, hoping to catch favour with the king.

The first room we saw was the butchery. Please note the blood stains spattered on the wall. Gotta love that authenticity.

The weather was very kind to us, and I think I might have even got a little colour on my pale cheeks. Hooray for summer!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The book of the year has arrived!

No, not that book.

This book!

What's it about, you ask? You mean you haven't heard of it? You missed the huge media blitz? The street parties? The countdowns? Well, okay, then... I'll tell you:
My Sister the Vampire #1: Switched is the beginning of a faboo new book series. It's a little bit of Parent Trap, a lot of Sweet Valley High and a dose of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

This book is very, very close to my heart. It's one of my babies, and it's the project I am most proud to be involved in at my work.

So, please, if you live in the USA and you like me even just a little bit, buy a copy of this book. Go to your local bookstore and ask for it. If they don't have it, gasp and say that you heard it was going to be the next big thing, and they should order five copies.

If you don't like bookstores, you can still buy it.
Here's an Amazon link: Buy this book!
Here's a B&N link: Buy this book!

I promise you a fun and funny read, and lots of gratitude for you support.

Buy one for you; buy one for a friend. Or just buy one to prop up your wonky table. I'm going for numbers here, people.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Off to the ballet... school

I'm very excited. Tomorrow, Neil and I are going to The Royal Ballet School end of year performance at the Royal Opera House. It's a showcase of all the students at the Lower and Upper Schools (ages 11-18, I think) coming together in a variety of performances to show off how fabulous the talent of the school is.

I went to the same show last year for free (hooray!) because I worked on a series my company helped produce in conjunction with the school called, as you might imagine, The Royal Ballet School Diaries. Because we worked very closely with the Marketing Director at the school, we were taken on a backstage tour of the Royal Opera House, got to watch the rehearsal the day before the matinee and also the actual performance. Fascinating stuff.

This time, I'll be an anonymous spectator, but I'm really interested in seeing some of the girls that I’ve become fans of. You see, for the book covers, we got to use actual RBS students as models.

I'm a big fan of "Lara", real name Ruth Bailey.

She's won the Young British Dancer of the Year award, at a very young age as well as other awards and solos. I remember speaking with the photographer who took the pictures for the covers. He wasn't surprised how well she was doing because he was amazed that someone of her age could perform such a difficult leap so precisely, and well enough for the photo to win approval by the very discerning head of the school.

I'm hoping to see her again tomorrow, still shining like a star.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Done a runner

This whole tenant situation was a bit tense this past week. After last weekend, when the tenancy expired and the tenants refused to leave, we geared up for an all out war of paperwork in the courts. But after getting a whole lot of attitude from the !£$%^&* tenants, they said that they would leave on Friday.

Once we foud out that filing paperwork at the court would cost us £150 ($300) we decided to hold off to see if the would actually leave on Friday without a fight.

When I called on Thursday to arrange a check out time, Friday had become Saturday, and I saw before me a future filled with this same phone conversation over and over again. However, he finally agreed to a concrete time on Saturday. It was a good sign.

We drove down to Eastbourne, about an hour and a half away from us, and at the appointed time we rang the bell. No one answered. We went upstairs and rang the bell. Still no answer. We let ourselves in and the flat was empty: they had "done a runner" as the Brits would say.

Plus side: they are gone.
Minus side: we have no forwarding address and they owe us money.


But at least we didn't have to go to court, which would not have been entertaining.
What was entertaining, however, was the lady on the other end of the National Landlord's Associate advice line, who got more incensed at the situation than I was. She encouraged me to write a letter to the tenant's father decribing ourselves as honest people just trying to get by and the "disgusting behaviour" of the tenants. Clearly, she is a woman who loves her job. And I must say, I am tempted to take her advice.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Everything but the kitchen sink

Well, our kitchen is transformed, but we're still not quite up and running.

The sink is in but not connected. None of the complicated looking white plastic pieces are in place yet. And the cabinets aren't screwed to the wall either. (We've also got tiling and painting to do.) But this is the general idea…

We are still doing our dishes in the bathtub. I can just hear myself now talking to my children, echoing all the newlywed home improvement tales my parents told me. I'll say in my shaky, old woman voice: we didn’t have a couch when we moved into our first home – we didn’t even have a television. And we had to wash our dishes in the bathtub. So don’t complain to me about having to unload the dishwasher, ya little so and so!

There is currently no time table for kitchen sink completion, but I'm sure my husband is sick of me nagging. So, it won't be long. In fact… it's 11:30pm and poor husband is working on it as I type.