calove and the kids met me at the airport on Thursday, and it felt good to be coming home with them again. 'Home' -- yes, I think of calove's as home away from home now, and it's all her fault: she definitely is the hostess with the mostest as far as I'm concerned. Hospitable to a fault, hers is a wonderful family that don't stand on ceremony -- and so, to my everlasting shame, I let the f-word slip during a particulary intense round of Junior Monopoly. Cass, if your children suddenly start to slide into foulmouthed behaviour and you wonder where on earth they might have picked up such a word: blame me! And I am truly sorry for it.
The next day, Cass and I went to Bluewater; and despite my best intentions, within 10 minutes of arriving, I had bought my first pair of shoes since being back on English soil again. Brown/bronze high heels that I can't wear at present, but give it a month or two and I should be alright...I despair of me sometimes. Monsoon's new collection proved disappointing, and Hobbs seems to specialise in unhemmed skirts, so apart from the shoes I only bought a new pair of jeans from The Gap, which is fast becoming one of my favourite stores for basics -- just as well there isn't one anywhere near me.
We'd gone to Bluewater to raid the Hello Kitty store on bogwitch's behalf, seeing as it was her birthday that weekend. We were looking for a naked Kitty that we could turn into a Goth,and picked up a few more bits and pieces that we thought fit the theme. We had lunch at a tapas bar, but the sight of a Krispy Kreme earlier had made us curious as to how these BtVS-endorsed doughnuts compared to the usual supermarket-bought ones, and so we headed over there on our way back to the car. And they were handing out free samples! Hot and fresh, these glazed originals tasted simply divine, and so Cass got a dozen assorted ones to take home...they put in one extra, and gave us each another hot, fluffy, glazed original for the road. I swear, if that Krispy Kreme were around the corner from me now, I'd be tempted to take up permanent residence there.
On Saturday, Cass and I took the children for a walk in the country, and later went into Edenbridge where we discovered a new deli had opened its doors that very day. After lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon at Barden Lake, where there were quite a few people, geese and ducks around even if it was freezing.
Sunday came around, and it was bogwitch's birthday. We met her and hesadevil for lunch in Islington's Bierodrome. It was presents all round: the Hello Kitty that Cass had painstakingly customized by hand the night before was much admired and cooed over by the assembled party and its new owner; while we were all much taken with our beautifully printed out copies of Twelve Days that Boggy had prepared for us. hesadevil further surprised me by giving me a lovely lavender soap and shoe keyring as a belated Xmas present, and a bottle of Witch Hazel to help in the speedy recovery of my ankle.
And again, despite my best intentions, on our way to catch the tube from Angel, I somehow managed to walk straight into a fantastic bargain on a pair of white fluffy boots, that are totally impractical as they don't offer any support to my ankles at all and won't keep my feet all nice and warm in wintertime because the material is kind of thin, but would you have been able to say no to a pair of boots marked down from £120 to £14.95? Of course, that meant that for the rest of the evening, I had to carry a great big pink Whistles' shoebox with me, but I've never been noted for my ability to think ahead.
There was an icy cold wind blowing along the Embankment so we dropped in for coffee somewhere and after having lost the worst of the chill, bravely went out into the freezing night again to get to the Old Vic to see Sir Ian McKellen in the role of the Widow Twankey in this season's most acclaimed production of Aladdin.
What can I say? It was my first pantomime ever, and I. Loved. It. I was enthralled from the moment Roger Allen, who played the baddie whose name I can't remember (and played him to perfection), strode on stage. Joe McFadden was wonderful as a Glaswegian Aladdin, and Maureen Lipman appeared as Dim Sum, the Widow Twankey's wishy washy. And then, when the Widow came on...words fail me. It was absolutely marvelous. Ian McKellen went through at least 12 costume changes and he looked fabulous in all of them. Great legs! We were in the stalls, 7th row from the front, and had a brilliant view of the stage. The sets were gorgeous, the topical jokes more than funny, and the cast seemed to be having such fun themselves. Since it was an evening performance (the very last of the season, too), there were very few children in the audience, but there were one or two and at one point, when Aladdin was in the cave, one of the kids shouted out to him that he should rub the lamp. At first, Aladdin took no notice, but when the 2nd call came, decided to throw out the script and go with it. It worked out beautifully.
Of course, I totally got carried away. Next to me, however, there were 3 ladies who clearly refused to get into the spirit of the thing. I wouldn't normally have minded; only...at one point, Dim Sum threw some chocolates into the audience. One of these came hurtling straight towards me, and landed on my wrist. Unfortunately, I was too slow in securing it and the sour old bat next to me grabbed it and wouldn't relinquish her prize...for not participating in the panto at all. Grrrr!
Still, it was a marvelous experience and I so hope we can do it again next year.
This morning, Cass copied her Maroon 5 album for me (she's totally convinced me of the merit of this particular CD while I was over there) and then we drove into Tunbridge Wells for elevenses. She then dropped me off at Gatwick and I had an uneventful journey home, with the surprise of snow when I emerged from the station.
ETA: forgot to mention -- Kevin Spacey was in the audience, just a few seats away from us...and Cass thinks I'm daft, but I definitely thought Dim Sum had the hots for the Widow. I almost expected there to be a double wedding at the end...but there wasn't. :-(
Anyway, here they are: