Could this really be happening??

To add to the list of firsts in my last post, it is entirely possible that I might be having a child free holiday in a couple of weeks. This will be the first time I’ve had a holiday without children since my son was born, almost 12 years ago. In fact, I’ve never been without children around for a significant amount of time. My husband and I had an overnight stay at a hotel for our tenth anniversary a couple of years ago, but we didn’t leave until after lunch and got back just before lunch, so it was less than 24 hours, wonderful though those few hours were.

My husband wanted to send me away somewhere sunny, but the reality was that for our budget (which is not lavish), there wasn’t really anything worth doing. His ideal was a beach holiday with plenty of sun, but in February, the temperatures in the places we could afford for me to go to averaged around 16 degrees, which is nice, but not really lie on a beach all day reading nice.

In the end, I decided to go and stay at the same hotel my husband and I were at for a mid week break, leaving on Monday and coming back on Friday. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that his car isn’t big enough for all the children but he was worried about me driving his car, so it needed to be somewhere easy to get to (this place is about half an hour’s drive away). Another is that it has a spa attached, so I could get a massage during the week and I can use the pool and sauna every day, which is pretty cool. A third is that if the household falls to pieces without me, they can come and get me.

And it’s a nice hotel in a nice location in an area I wouldn’t mind living in. The weather might not be great, but I can stay in bed reading if I like before meandering down to the pool. I can write my novel in the afternoon (I am banned from work per se, but I can write my own material). I can swim three times a day if I want. The restaurant is nice and there’s a bar so I can stay on site without too much hassle.

All in all, pretty ideal for someone who enjoys her own company and wouldn’t mind a bit of peace and quiet.

I had hoped to get over to Bluestone for one of their midweek breaks, but aside from the transport costs, their cheap deals weren’t available on the right dates. Maybe later in the year…

Who’d have thought it?

The first month of 2015 is virtually over and already this year is shaping up to be a year of firsts. My first novel is due for release in less than a month, so obviously I’m really excited about that. I’m hard at work on the second one and I absolutely love the concept, so I’m hoping I can do it justice.

I just spent an evening with my older children at the swimming pool and for the first time ever, I sat on the side while they had fun with their friends. I’ve waited almost 12 years to do that. My oldest son just asked me whether I was bored and I had to break the news to him that he’s just not boring. I’ve never been bored when I’ve been out with my children. I had my colouring (and I’m really loving the picture I’m working on right now), I got to chat to them whenever they wanted and I had a break from having to deal with the general squabbles that come from when you have five children. It was bliss! Besides, I went swimming with the younger two at lunchtime, so I’d already had my time in the pool. Funnily enough, all the children that live on the terrace in front of our house were there, so there were plenty of fun games to be had.

We’ve also instituted a weekly science afternoon with a friend who’s just taken her youngest out of school. He’s a lovely lad and an absolute sweetheart, so it’s always good to see him and having someone come round means that we actually will do the experiments rather than mean to do them and then have something come up…

We decided to start with chemical reactions, since that’s what my son’s been studying, and we made universal indicator by boiling cabbage. While that was going on, we did pictures out of lemon juice and soaked paper in milk (it was meant to be to show how bicarb of soda could neutralise the smell through a chemical reaction), but everything took forever to dry, so the only experiment we were able to do was using the indicator to pour into different liquids to show whether they were acid or alkali. Despite the abysmal failure of the other experiments, it worked surprisingly well. Who’d have thought it?

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Finally, I’ve been working on improving my Elance profile in a bid to take my freelance writing career up to the next level and so far it seems to be working. I’ve just accepted an extremely interesting job that’s right up my alley, but isn’t something I ever thought I’d be able to do (I can’t go into details, but I’d heard of the client and this has the potential to be massive) and I have another potential client discussing various projects with me. Maybe nothing will come of it, but I’m still enjoying looking at my options and seeing what’s out there, because it’s all exciting.

I’ve also seen a fair few movies as well (surprise!). It wasn’t until I started writing reviews for this blog that I realised just how many films I go to see and I have outstanding reviews to write for three movies. Let’s just say for now that Kingsman is as awesome as you think it’s going to be, and if you’re still there for the secret scene, please stay in your seat rather than stand up with your coat half on blocking the person behind you’s view… And Ex Machina is just stunning. The kind of film that would be slow moving with a different director, but isn’t. Even better, I was the only person there, so I had an enormous screen all to myself with no distractions or interruptions. I have now learned that the best times to see films are late on a Monday and Saturday (it started at 11.15, so I didn’t get home until almost 2, but it was well worth it!).

Hope you’re all having a good weekend. My oldest is having a sleepover with his best friend, so the house is going to be strangely quiet…

Film review: Birdman

I could feel the resentment coming off the staff in waves when I walked into the cinema on Monday and when I realised that I was the only person there, I could understand why, since they were going to have to stay open just for little old me. However, I couldn’t help but be happy that I could enjoy the film without worrying about other people talking or eating noisily.

I’d debated between seeing Birdman and The Woman in Black 2, but I figured that the sequel wasn’t going to have anything new to offer me I hadn’t seen before (and probably done better), so Birdman it was, especially since it has had such good reviews.

It’s not a film that’s going to appeal to everyone. The way that it’s shot, you feel as though you’re in a theatre watching the backstage goings on, right up there with the cast and crew, rather than watching in a movie. It’s very arty and terribly luvvy and if you’re not familiar with that world or don’t like those kinds of characters, you’ll hate it.

That said, I absolutely loved it. I can completely understand why it’s received so many nominations and deservedly so. It’s a stellar cast, revolving around Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomson, a washed up actor looking to stage his comeback in an adaptation of a short story by Raymond Carver that he wrote himself and is also directing. He’s invested everything in this and as the film progresses, you get a real feel for his increasing desperation that the play is a hit, his one crowning moment in a life filled with bad decisions and broken relationships.

Thomson is haunted by Birdman, a superhero character who looks remarkably similar to Keaton’s Batman. His career failure can be traced down to his decision not to return for a fourth film in what was a highly successful franchise and now Birdman mocks his every move, taunting him and adding to the intensity.

The standout performance for me was Edward Norton. In a field of outstanding actors, his depiction of the alcoholic actor of the moment, Mike Shiner was fantastic, his pretentious demands to rework the play to suit his preferences clearly a demonstration of the power he has to make or break a play.

Keaton’s already taken home the Golden Globe and it’s going to be interesting seeing how this fares at the Academy Awards up against the other big nomination draw, The Grand Budapest Hotel, which I also loved. Both films deserve the prize, but it remains to be seen which will take home the Best Film – if either of them do.

4 out of 5 stars

If you liked this, you’ll also like The Grand Budapest Hotel