Sunday, November 21, 2010

All Quiet on the Western Front

My husband and I have always shared a passion for history - particularly both world wars. Last night we watched "All Quiet on the Western Front." I'd read the book years ago and had never seen the movie. Even though it was made in 1930, the brutal images were so distressing that at times I couldn't watch it. Maybe it was because the memory of the First World War was still vivid in the minds of the creators and carried the message of "never again" or perhaps it was seeing the carnage on the fields of northern France, we knew another war would come just nine years later and all those brave souls had died in vain.
All I know is that my grandfather fought on the Western Front in the trenches. He survived physically, but not mentally. He came home deaf and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - in those days, it was called "Shell Shock." I never knew him, since he passed away before I was born but I'll not forget him.
Often, my boss will call in for messages if he's traveling and I usually reply "All quiet on the Western Front." It's said in an absent-minded way yet in that moment, my grandfather's shadow crosses my heart.
Photo from left to right: Dad, Grandma, Mum and Granddad.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another Royal Wedding

As a true monarchist and lover of all things Royal (yes, I know, some members of the Royal Family leave a lot to be desired) - I was thrilled to hear about the upcoming nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton today.  Our family are die hard Royals. As a teenager, Dad's favorite program was Til Death Us Do Part so the fact that Kate is a "commoner" is not going down well. It's rather like being a Muggle at Hogwarts.

I also got a bit choked up about Prince William giving his beloved Princess Diana's engagement ring and saying that it was his way of including his mum in their happiness. Then ... someone at the office said that was a bit creepy. 
I don't think so. My own wedding band is vintage - worn by a happy couple who got married in 1929. Hopefully they lived long, joyful lives - it's certainly brought me great happiness. So far. 
Even so, I don't know if the British people will embrace this royal wedding with as much enthusiasm as Princess Diana's and good old Fergie. Those were the days ...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Breath of Fresh Air

Okay. You'd probably think I was lying but I have not been in the outdoors since August - and that was in England. Up until this morning, the only time I breathe in the fresh air and feel the Californian sun on my face ... is walking to my car. The weather has been so glorious that I was determined to go for a hike in Franklin Canyon TODAY!
Franklin Canyon is my favorite local trail. It's only a ten minute drive from our apartment which is right in the middle of Los Angeles. Not many people realize that there are pockets of mountain trails dotted throughout the City.
I took this photo from my BlackBerry. The weird thing in the middle is a reservoir but I've never seen so much as a puddle in it.

Sometimes it's so easy to get insular and not make time for Nature. Sometimes I forget I grew up in the English countryside but today, just for an hour, I remembered how important it is to have those moments away from weekend household errands, my computer and endless deadlines.

What about you? How do you recharge your batteries?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Perfect Saturday Night --

It doesn't happen that often anymore - but a perfect Saturday night for me is having time to cook. The weekdays are so busy that even though my husband and I are sticklers for freshly cooked organic produce, our evening meals are a little dull. We need to be able to whip something up in forty-five minutes or less. But ... at the weekend, I have the luxury of making some yummy things. My favorite chefs these days are Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. I also love the Barefoot Contessa. I'm afraid I'm not an experimental cook. I envy people who can throw in a bit of this and a bit of that without measuring a single thing. I sometimes go wild and add in an extra herb, but on the whole - whatever imagination I have goes into creating puzzles for Vicky Hill to figure out.

What about you? Do you have to follow a recipe or can you be throw caution to the winds?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Seriously ... does Mr. Suleman think I was born yesterday?

So ... this was the first email in my in-box this morning ...

Hello Mr. Williams sister,
We received email this morning from Mr John Williams who said that he is your brother,he said we should stop contacting you as you had car accident and on sick bed. And as such your fund should be wired to him via his bank account in New York City. We need to get your approval for the release of the fund to your brother asap.You can reply also via:

Best Regards,

Alhaji Hassan Suleman.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Memories in a Digital Age!

It’s been a strange time. Where did October go and now, November is upon us—and it’s only weeks until the holidays. I’m not ready for the end of the first decade! 

My sister’s big birthday is coming up and my daughter wanted some photographs. I got out my old school trunk of neatly organized photo albums. As I poured through them and was instantly transported back through time. Those memories were tangible. I could feel them. I was back there—as a young girl at the beach with her Cindy doll (I’m British – Barbie was regarded as a bit of a tart), holding my first dog Snuffles at age 8 (who had just thrown up on my coat), a disastrous camping expedition in the Girl Guides where I was told off for sticking a wooden stick in a cowpat, a wild time in Cardiff as a rookie reporter with friends who, now I’ve seen their laughing faces again, I’m determined to track down. My daughter’s first steps 26 years ago, wonderful memories of Africa and endless, endless photos of my first ever trip to Disneyland (what was I thinking?) 

I could go on and on but what struck me most was that these past five years I’ve kept all my memories on iPhoto. If I do look at them, it’s more of a quick skim. I don’t relive the memory at all. It’s not the same as leafing through dusty albums, each page promising a surprise. I’ve also noticed that I take dozens of photos with digital cameras because the bad ones can be erased. Yes, I’m making myself sound old, but there was something magical about getting your photos back from the developer to see how—and in my case, if—they came out. 

What about you? Do you still keep photo albums or are you an iPhoto fan? Do you think a part of our memory is erased too in the Digital Age? 

Photo: Christmas 1977