what happens when you try to arrange a wedding in five weeks

Last year I suggested we actually do it some time. I was on a beach, he was in the pub
Last year I suggested we actually do it some time. I was on a beach, he was in the pub

I have been with The Man for nearly 10 years. He has been threatening to marry me for many of those years. However, having been married three times already between us, it’s never been a priority. The fact that he has out-lasted both my previous marraiges put together has also lessened the need.

But about six weeks ago, I realised that my driving license had expired (check yours guys – I had no idea!), and it was in my previous married name. So, I was going to have to change my name on it.

I made the comment that “I wasn’t going to chnage my name on it now, just to change it again in a coouple of years time”, and with that, we went to the registry office and booked “The first Saturday available”. Which was last Saturday.

The Girl has been obsessed with us getting married eventually, and has mentioned it at least three times a week – even more so after her dad remarried. So, we obviously wanted her there, but apart from that, I’m not particularly into weddings, and I don’t like dressing up, and everything just seemed like too much fuss and bother. However, I LOVE a party!  I was in a quandry as to what to do.

So, I asked a wonderfully skilled friend if he would make our rings, to make it more personal and unique.  Him and his partner were the first outside our family to know.  Then, we finally relented and said family and closest friends could come along.  However, in ordeer to keep the amount of wedding chat to a minimum, I only told the girl 6 days beforehand when I had to take her out to get a dress!


I booked the ‘wedding breakfast’ in the back room at the Village Kitchen – Hanna and the team couldn’t have been more accommodating, and we gave the kitchen a resounding round of applause on the day.  Do check it out some time guys if you haven’t already – we had nothing but great comments from people.


The party had to be over the Rose & Crown, and I decided to get a karaoke and a photo booth. The wonderful people of Open Booths were amazing, and it really was a highlight of the evening – I highly recommend getting a photo booth for some brilliant memorable pics of your loved ones, and the Open Booth gives you so much more scope for merriment.


But then the other highlight was our cake.

After seeing a Wizard of Oz cake that he’d made for his neice, I asked my lovely friend Darren if he would be interested in making me an anti-wedding cake that was Walthamstow themed. He jumped at the chance and the conspiring began.  Originally, I had asked for me & The Man sitting on top of a pile of abandoned mattri (Walthamstow is famous for its abandoned mattresses, don’t ya know?) but it became so much more than that. It features our favourite places, our cats, The Girl, Warren Sreet station where we met (even though it’s obviously not Walthamstow where we were both living at the time), panda bowl man, pigeons. It was an absolute work of art. A showstopper – made clear by the amount of time people took taking photos of it when we brought it out. I can’t thank Darren enough!


All in all, given the amount of time I had to do it in, I think it was a bloody good day, and I am so grateful to every single person who came and shared our day. I wouldn’t have had it any other way – certainly not with months of stress and planning!

e17 storywalk

As part of the Words Over Waltham Forest literary festival currently being held, there was an E17 Storywalk event yesterday.

Over two hours an audience visited six venues in Walthamstow and at each they heard a short story created especially to feature the place where they were standing, read out by the story’s author.  the walk was free, but voluntary donations of a suggested £5 were collected for Lloyd Park Children’s Centre.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the authors unfortunately dropped out, and I was aksed whether I’d be interested in taking their place. Rather nervously, I agreed – my reasons at the time purely being to help the group out (of which I only knew one) rather than for myself.

The venue that I was given was Lot One Ten – a curious little antique shop less than five minutes walk from my flat.  Due to current personal time constraints, I literally had about three to four hours to write my story, which I did last Saturday.  So, that was the main obstacle out of the way.

However, the thought of reading my own work out to a group of strangers absolutely terrified me. I tried it out on my lovely mate – but I know he would have said it was good even if he thought it was crap!  I didn’t get a wink of sleep the night before, and woke up a bit sniffly, which didn’t help at all.

It also didn’t help that the others reading their stories out were all ‘writers’ – unlike me!

Filled with trepidation, I wandered down to the library where the walk was due to start.

Reading my story, with the other writers, my venue and the poster

The authors and venues were:

Each group had about 20 in the audience – and it was especially cosy on my one – but we fit everyone in.

The other five stories were fantastic, and I think we all relaxed after the morning group as the readings felt even stronger the second time round.

Poor Ken gave himself the short straw as his was the only outdoors venue. The first time round we were ambushed by a drunk piss-drenched Polish guy who demanded a tenner off the group to make him leave us alone. Luckily he was convinced to leave us alone without getting a tenner!  I’d like to think that it enhanced the colourful atmosphere of Ken’s story.  The scond time round it started raining pretty heavily and the wind really picked up – literally JUST for the time that Ken was reading.

All other readings were pretty uneventful in comparison!

I hope that anyone who did come enjoyed it – unexpectedly, once I’d resigned myself to the fact that I was actally there and just had to get on with it, I really, really enjoyed myself. And I met a great bunch of people, which helps! I’d totally be up for something like that again.

Paekakariki Press are printing a booklet featuring all six stories in the next 2-3 weeks, which some of our audience have already ordered. I’m very excited about this as I see it as my first instance of being ‘published’.

I must say, although he originally got me into this, I couldnt have done it without Simon’s help. He waded in and helped edit my brain-dump first draft and was brilliant at it!

So, despite my fears, it was a brilliant experience – what next?!!?

guffaw comedy club, rose & crown, e17

Guffaw Comedy Club 070313
Guffaw Comedy Club 7th  March 13

When I heard that Arthur Smith was going to be appearing at my very very local pub a couple of months ago, I bagged me and The Man a couple of tickets immediately.

I have been to a few of the gigs put on by lovely compere Susan Murray as part of the Guffaw Comedy Club at Ye Olde Rose & Crown Theatre Pub – and I have seen some great stuff, including Richard Herring TWICE!

Susan Murray was on especially sparkling good form (perhaps because it was her birthday and her parents were in the audience – although we never heard/saw any evidence of said parents, so perhaps they were made up!).

Next was Grainne Maguire – Irish (obviously), self-deprecating, unique, extremely likeable, and ‘not very rude’ as she kept pointing out.  She actually had the audience in the palm of her hand, expertly playing us until we were almost weeping with laughter – a class act!

It seemed like there was going to be an Irish invasion, as next up was Rory O’Hanlon. Unfortunately, as it is now a week ago, I can’t remember much about Rory, which is rather embarrassing – but I know that he was very amusing.

Canadian Ryan Cull made a rather brief appearance next, and as happens often with foreign acts, he pointed out the funny things about us Brits – which is always completely hilarious.  He had a ready smile, and was quite cute – and he was only on for about 15 minutes…he couldn’t go wrong really, could he?

Finally, it was time for the main attraction, the wonderful grumpy old man that IS Arthur Smith – the Night Mayor of Balham (luckily I’d recently had my shots, so couldn’t catch anything from this particular specimen from South of the river!)  I have a real soft spot for Mr Smith (ooer) – grumpy old man he may be, he’s never ‘nasty’, and he’s got that voice, that wonderful gravelly voice.  Not only do a listen to that voice almost every night when I go to bed (he does the continuity for the Comedy Zone on Radio 7…10 til midnight – yeah, OK they now call it 4Extra, but it will alwyas be Radio 7 to me!) but I was once fortunate enough to talk to the man himself on the phone – back in about 1994. Oh how gooey I went at the sound of that voice!

Arthur was a wonderful mix of observations and old favourites chucked in for the kitsch factor.

I have to say, every single one of them hit the spot and made for a fantastic evening where I sniggered, chuckled and indeed guffawed happily.

I believe Stuart Lee and Richard Herring are due to appear in the summer, so we’ll be looking out for those!

e17 book clubs – more needed?

ImageYou might have noticed that I post quite a lot of book reviews.  I also post whether I have read the book as it was chosen as part of our E17 Book Club.  I think that this has provoked quite a lot of publicity for our book club as I have received many requests over the last year or so by people who would like to join.

We are obviously a rather literary lot in Walthamstow!

Turnover of members of our book club is rather low indeed – we ‘allowed’ a couple of newbies in when one member left in September, but the number of people asking to join and being turned away is growing weekly.

There are other Book Clubs that I know of in Walthamstow, one that meets at The Mill, the Reading Group that meets at Walthamstow Library and Forest Book Group who meet in Peking Chef.

I am sure that there are probably others, and if you know of them please do let me know.

However, my point for this post was to suggest that maybe someone sets up another Book Club (or two!) in Walthamstow – there are obviously enough people interested to fill them (we have found that about 10 people at any one meeting is kind of the upper limit…and about 14 on the list tends to get 8-10 each meeting).

I have quite a large number of people ‘in my archives’, so, if anyone wanted to set something up, I would be happy to get back in touch with peopel that had contacted me in the past and asked to be put on our waiting list to see if they would like to join.

So, come on, is someone going to stand up to the mark and say “YES! *I* will start organising a new book club in Walthamstow!”.

(PS – we now have no idea who ‘runs’ our book club…once you get a few meetings out the way, the members kind of look after it as one.)

***UPDATE*** Someone has kindly taken on the mantle of setting up a new book club, which will meet once a month at The Chequers.  Let me know if you would like more details.

Also, as per Jenny’s comment below, there is a book club set up that meets in The Castle once a month!

We really, really are a well-read bunch in E17!

world book night success 2013

Yay! I get to give out free books again!
Yay! I get to give out free books again!

I am very excited to have received the email above from the organisers of World Book Night.  For some reason, because I was successful last year when I gave out 20 copies of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman (which was my first choice as it is one of the best books EVER!), I thought that it would be weighted against me and my application wouldn’t get through for this year.

I have to admit to not being quite as excited by the shortlist this year as I had last year, and I wondered what had happened to all the ones I had voted for, but The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness is definitely a book that I voted for through the whole process, and as you can see, it was my number one choice (you can see my review of it here).

I was a little wary at first as this is the first book in a series of three AND considered a ‘young adult’ book, but then I thought that was what would make it perfect to get people reading even more that don’t necessarily read usually.

I will probably be foisting them on random people in the Rose & Crown like I did last year, but if you are in Walthamstow, and would be interested in reading this, let me know and I will reserve you one of the 20 copies!

Roll on Tuesday 23rd April!

tasty fried wedding

This wonderfully designed poster is up in my local chicken shop, that gourmet extravaganza ‘Tasty Chicken ‘N’ Pizza’.

What more could you want at your wedding?

I have many friends who are trying to convince me (VERY unsuccessfully) to get married in Vegas – but why the hell would I do that when I could have such amazing catering for my wedding right in Walthamstow?!

(Note:  I realise it’s probably just a poster for a separate catering business, but come on – it’s amusing!!)
The wonderful Tasty Chicken 'N' Pizza in all its glory. Honestly - they're absolutely fine as chicken shops go - The Girl likes them!

secondhand book sale – rose & crown, e17

OK – totally out of character for my blog, but this is a shameless plug for a used book sale to raise money for the RNIB that a friend of mine is organising as part of their ‘Read for RNIB‘ campaign.

This is going to take place in the Red Room at Ye Olde Rose & Crown pub on Tuesday 11th October from 5pm – 9pm.  If you’re in or around Walthamstow and love reading, please do come along and show your support (I will be helping out on the night – whta more incentive do you need?!) 😉

e17 art trail (part 2)

Further to my very brief forray onto the E17 Art Trail on Friday, on Saturday I decided to go down to the library to hear some of the artists talking about the works that they have on display there.

We started off with the Knit A Year project, and saw Jay actually finish her last stitches.

The final stitches are cast

You can see her blog here, capturing a year in her life with lots of photos of the yarn she’s used and where she did her knitting. We all wondered what she was going to do next. “Sit down and have a cup of tea”.

Next we moved on to Peter Kyte’s display of photos of Walthamstow Market as he explained the world he sees through his camera lens and gave a talk about how he frames and structures his photos.

Peter Kyte shows his thought on producing an interesting photo

Next we went out into the foyer where Ron Bowman is exhibiting his latest watercolours showcasing “London: It’s places and people”. I stupidly didn’t take any photos of the woork he has on display – but do go and have a look!

Ron gives us a quick demonstration

Even better, he gave us some tips and a quick demonstration, saying “Absolutely anyone can do watercolours – you should give it a try!”.  I beg to differ, I have no creative ability at all!

Next we went to the stairs where Mark Burton and Katherine Green are showing photos of local voluntary and community organisations “Voluntary Action in Waltham Forest“.  I have to admit, this was the exhibition I had mainly wanted to hear the talk for.  I had seen some of Mark’s work before and was once again looking forward to hearing his thoughts and experiences as hearing him talk adds SO much to the actual photos.

Katherine Green talks us through her photos

I had already seen some of Katherine’s work hanging in the Waltham Forest Credit Union and she really manages to get in amongst her subjects and capture some amazing very ‘personal’ shots.

Mark Burton tells the story behind his photos

What I found particularly interesting was that Mark’s photos were about a special day arranged by the Women’s Interfaith Network where women of different faiths spent a day visiting each other’s places of worship.  This was an amazing story, and people kept pointing out how unusual it was to have so many people of different faiths and backgrounds together in that way – and yet as I looked at everyone sitting on the stairs listening, there was such a wide range of races, colours and (obviously) faiths sitting together praising the work!

After that, we went upstairs to where Amanda Doidge was showing some of her experimental ceramic work – this was a piece about Socrates – and it was fantastic hearing her thinking behind the piece, and the process that she went through to create it.

Amanda Doidge explaining her Socrates piece

It really brought the whole thing to life – and even sparked a discussion about Socrates!

Then we were back downstairs to hear from Eliana Parra Rodriguez and her love of colour which has moved her to create some gorgeous colourful abstract pieces.

Eliana and a couple of her pieces

It was great to hear her explain so enthusiastically about how colour moves her, and how the colours she uses are dictated by her moods.

We ended at the bottom of the stairs where we saw the works of Tayyaba (I hope I have spelled her name correctly!  I will have to check today), and her mix of paintings from her home and from the UK – showing great contrasts.

Tabbyah explains her processes and feelings behind her work

It was a great way to spend more than 2 hours, and I think it added so much to our appreciation of the work and experience.  This is one of the greatest things about the Art Trail – it isn’t just about goign around and looking at a few pictures and things, it’s a chance to actually meet the creative people in our community. Loving it!  Now that The Girl is back home, we will be goign around a few places today!

e17 art trail (part 1)

Arty farty Stow!

As I mentioned before, this is going to be my first year going around the E17 Art Trail.  I am very excited about this, although the sheer volume of exhibits is a little daunting!  Where do I start.

It actually officially started yesterday and will go on until Sunday – but yesterday I was at work all day and then out in the evening (I will post about the fabulousness of THAT later!).  However, I still managed to see a couple of things – that’s the beauty of the art trail, if you live in Walthamstow, then there is always something you can pop to see just around the corner!

On my way to work, I managed to see most of the Poetry Trail.  This really is ingenious — in Walthamstow, it is often a point of annoyance that there are simply SO many estate agents on Hoe Street – particularly between the station and the top of the market.  The Poetry Trail though has embarced this fact, and the majority of the estate agents have handed over prime ‘selling space’ for the period – disaplying poems in some of the holders where they usually show the house particulars in the window!

Poems in Churchills, Central & Strettons!

How cool is that?  I think it’s a brilliant idea – and fairplay to the estate agents – I think there are about 10 of them taking part.  There are poems by members of the Forest Poets, but also by 6 and 7 year olds from local primary schools.  And I have to say, THIS one was my absolute favourite.

Love this poem!

And then on my way home, I went into Le Delice to check out Martin’s underwater photos as I had been really looking forward to seeing them!  They are out the back in the ‘Moroccan Room’, so make sure that you go back there if you’re out and about. (I’m actually posting this in Delice now, and a couple oand their two young kids have just gone back there and the kids LOVED them!!)

Award-winning photos
They're looking great in-situ!

I am not sure what else I am going to do today – I want to go to Emma & Steve‘s launch party, and I am thinking of going to the talk in the library this afternoon.  It’s all just so busy, and I have had an exceptionally long, tiring week!  Wish me luck!!

walthamstow short film club

Last night's running order

A couple of years ago, me & a couple of mates went to three or four screenings of short films at The Rose & Crown pub.  We saw some really great films there, and we were quite disappointed when the monthly event just seemed to stop (we were never quite sure why).

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to read this blog post by someone I know and realised that they were once again short films (I have to admit, I don’t know whether it’s the same people hosting it or not – it could well be someone completely different).

So, me and a friend went along last night to see what it was like.

Instead of being in the old, sticky, stinky room above the pub that has been done up as a theatre (where I have seen a few things), it is now held in The Red Room (which is no longer red) which is nice enough, but a bit noisy and very small.  That helped make it feel rather crowded, even though there were less than 20 of us!

Most of the people there were actually involved in the production of the various films, so I did make a point of saying that we would be their audience 😀

As before, there was a huge variety of films, but I have to say the quality was far better than it used to be!

There was animation,  humour, documentary, drama, arty – a whole range of different styles…definitely something for everyone.  We got to vote for our favourite at the end and both my friend and I discovered that we’d voted for the same one – The Cable, a documentary piece about a 50 year old zip wire in Colombia 1300ft over the Rio Negro used by villagers that takes them 27-30 seconds to complete and saves them walking 2 hours to the next town.

It was amazing – and happened to have been produced by someone who I met while volunteering at the Respite Centre!  You can see more on the wire here, including a documentary that was NOWHERE near as good as the one we saw last night, but unfortunately I don’t have a link for 😦

At £3.50 entry including a bag of popcorn and/or sweets and a chance to meet the film-makers, it was a brilliant evening’s entertainment.  I can’t wait for the next one, and just hope it doesn’t get TOO crowded!

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