Summer 2019 - Part II

The highlight of this week has to be the Hazelnut-Chocolate Ice Cream Cheesecake recipe from the BBC Good Food, which LittleBit and I made. It's super simple to make, although it takes a while to set in the freezer, and slice it into very, very small portions, because it's very sweet.

This week I have finally finished reading Madame Bovary. I'm afraid I gave up on the French version, my French used to be much better than this, and I thought that maybe I wasn't enjoying it because I was having to check so many words... nope, turns out, that as influential, and progressive as this was when it was taken to a French court on an obscenity trial, it turns out that I just don't like modern realist narratives. I am glad I've read it, it was genuinely the first time a female protagonist had been portrayed that way, raw, honest, flawed. The depictions of adultery nearly got it banned, they were very new to literature. But we're not meant to like the characters, any of them. The Doctor, from his first entrance into the school room, is a bit of a let down. Emma, lives in a dream, and, worse than anything else, she's a terrible mother, which still now in 2019, seems to be the worst thing it's possible to say about a woman, but it does make you detest her, the ambivalence to her own child. It turns out that I'm shallow. I need to be able to at least relate to the characters, to like them a little bit, and unlike when I read East of Hounslow, when I had very little in common with the protagonist, but I couldn't help liking him, and willing him to succeed, even when his aims were the polar opposite of mine. With Emma, I felt disassociated, I didn't really care whether she succeeded or not, up until the very end, and even then, I was interested in the outcome, I didn't massively have a preference either way.

If you haven't read it, it's definitely worth a read, in French if it's up to it, a translation if not. And I'm aware that I didn't like it because of me, not because of the writing, which is descriptive, and flows well, so don't be put off because I didn't like it. If you like things that are a bit Bridget Jones without the comedy, you'll adore Madame Bovary, and there's a whole genre dedicated to this kind of novel, so there are people out there who will love this.

We spent most of last weekend binge watching films, mostly those we want to introduce to LittleBit, including Waynes World, which she didn't want to watch initially, but howled laughing at (Waynes World 2 is on in the next couple of weeks, so we've set it to tape, I don't even remember it, so no idea what Little Bit will make of it), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which we've seen before and knew she likes, Green Lantern, I know it was panned, but we liked it, Speed 2: Cruise Control it was as bad as I remembered, but the child loved it.

I went to the cinema with my Mum to see the Andre Rieu concert from Maastricht, Shall We Dance. It's the first one we've been to without my Nan, who passed away earlier this year, and we really enjoyed it, even though we were a bit teary in parts knowing she isn't here to share it with us. If you haven't seen an Andre Rieu concert before, they're on Sky Arts quite a lot, it's not what you'd expect from a classical music orchestra - they laugh and joke, they tap dance on top of grand pianos and in this years concert, we enjoyed renditions of YMCA, In The Navy and Go West, amongst other music, there's fireworks, there's dancing in the aisles, and dancers in wheelchairs. It's hugely fun, and I am looking forward to seeing him and his Johann Strauss Orchestra perform live again at soon!

We also went to the cinema to see the new Fast and Furious film Hobbs and Shaw, which was a fun action movie, and I'll be honest, the cars felt shoehorned in most of the way through and it was near the end before there was any nos and we nodded to ourselves like "oh, yeah, it's a Fast and Furious film." However, if you just enjoy it as a fun action film, it's pretty good, although suspend your disbelief before you go in.

And I finally finished binge watching Band of Brothers. It had been re-shown on a random channel recently, and I'd taped it, but for some reason, ep 9 wasn't caught, so I had to buy it on Amazon Prime Video, but I'm glad that I did. It was one of the more harrowing episodes, but I am really glad that I watched it. I loved the bits at the start and the end of each episode that tied it into the real soldiers of Easy Company, and I'm just sorry it's taken me so long to watch it.

Out of necessity, rather than desire, but after Astrid (my old car) was diagnosed as terminal after a break down the other week, she's off to the Garage in the Great Beyond (I was assured, by the lovely chap at the garage that she'll be recycled into a champagne cooler at a fancy hotel) so we had to buy a replacement car. I should be excited by the whole new car thing, but I'm not used to her yet, and whilst she has many bells and whistles that Astrid didn't have, so far, I don't think she handles as well as Astrid did, and I already miss the ability to go round a bend in the wet at the speed limit without sliding even with the traction control on... I think I turned Astrid's traction control on once in ten years, and that was on the last limp to be sent to her final destination because she was terminally poorly. I also, and don't tell the new car this, don't think she's as pretty as Astrid was, but she's my car now, for at least the next two years, so I'd best get used to her! Does kind of ruin the whole, "Frugal" thing I was hoping to do for this week too. However, I also think that it will make being frugal more important going forwards!

We have also splurged on new cat feeders, because Talyn, who I love dearly, is in need of a heathy
eating plan, but Neko, is not, although he could do with stopping Talyn eating his share of the food! So, we've got cat feeders that work with the microchip to only let a single cat eat out of it, so we can provide different food to each cat. However, they take some getting used to. So, we've set them up, just open for now, so they can get used to eating out of them, which they have been doing, although it'll take a couple of weeks for them to be up and running properly, so I'll report back at some point, but the do look awfully futuristic! Beloved likened them to the tail of The Orville. They seem to be easy to clean, have space for both food and water in each one, take up more space than the old ones, and take 4 x C batteries each! Hopefully the batteries will last a long, long time! Fingers crossed that these work!

The Chocolate and Hazelnut Ice Cream Cheesecake shown at the top. LittleBit was the lead on this, and it was very good, but please, please, be sparing when serving and use small portions, because it's very, very, sweet! However, it may be a Christmas special in future.

We enjoyed a long weekend away with family, and had decent weather. The kids saw Morris Men, possibly for the first time, and our niece loved the bells on their clogs.

We enjoyed a jaunt round Blackpool Zoo (I didn't take my camera, so phone photos only, sorry) but we especially enjoyed the dinosaur safari, and the mini farm with donkeys, shetland ponies, sheep, pigs, alpacas, rabbits and guinea pigs. Being members at Chester, we forget how expensive a trip to the zoo is, but the kids enjoyed it and we think we saw most of Blackpool zoo in the day. It reminded me how much we enjoy Edinburgh zoo too, so we must go and visit the pandas again while they're still there!

And LittleBit has started a gymnastics class! She's wanted to for a long time, but we've struggled with time with her other clubs, but, we have found a local club that's been strongly recommended, held in a local primary school (that she can walk to after she gets home on the school bus), and on a night she currently has free! She did so well in her first lesson that the coach asked her where she'd trained before (she hasn't). She's still got a long way to go, but she was learning back flicks (which are different to back flips apparently) and back walk overs on her first go! She already adores her coach, and can't wait to go back next week! I fully expect this to be as all encompassing as her other clubs, as she does tend to go all in for things. However, it's almost the end of the cricket season, only a few weeks still to go, and then she'll switch back to doing karate twice a week as winter nets is on a different night (that doesn't clash with gymnastics either, luckily)! However, she is likely to be dropping swimming lessons soon. It's getting harder to encourage her to go, and she can swim, better than I can. While we were away, there was a pool in the hotel, and she managed two consecutive lengths (non-stop) although she hates the proper turns, and she demonstrated a length of butterfly! I think the only people who swim butterfly are competitive swimmers! According to the online portal, she's 3% away from her next level, so I'd like her to at least get to that before she gives up.


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