Tuesday, 27 August 2019

USA 2019 road trip (from Florida to Texas)

Houston, Texas
August 27th 2019

We have been in the USA for 11 days now. This is probably our most spontaneous holiday ever. So I wanted a quiet summer boating on the Thames. I didn’t know we’d be here till two+ weeks ago when we learned Mike had to be in the US for a week for work. I said, “there goes our summer.” “Why don’t you come then?” He asked. I didn’t want to at first but I was enticed when he said we could go to a shrine that’s in my bucket list, so that’s one thing I’m looking forward to!

We slowly made our way here from Florida to Alabama to Mississippi to Louisiana, and now Texas, passing through small towns as much as we could.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder USA road trip Mississippi River New Orleans, Mark Twain
Tom and Huck having a cold drink along the Mississippi River on a hot summer’s day, with downtown New Orleans in the distance (perhaps only one of us is being overly emotional about this experience 😂. I.Love.Rivers. and so ‘meeting’ this iconic one is very significant to me. But I’m sure she’ll remember this when she starts reading Mark Twain or anything connected to this river).

Check out my Instagram page for more photos from this trip!

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Friday, 26 July 2019

Mike and mini-Mike, part 2

From Catherine Batac Walder's blog gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Bekonscot, family, childhood, childhood memories, children, toys
So my daughter and some friends I showed this collage to thought that they were looking at only one person. On the left are of Mike’s from (I guess) 1980, and on the right are of our little boy from a month ago. Same teddy bear, though! The story is that, I showed H those pics of his dad, then I thought I could show him the teddy in real life. Imagine the look on his face when I brought the teddy out! Then I told him we could (recreate) copy his daddy’s photos. He’s maybe a year older than Mike was in the photos and he was really cooperative. Swipe to picture 2 for a comparison of Mike and our daughter around the same age, taken in the same place (Bekonscot), more than three decades apart.


From Catherine Batac Walder's blog gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Bekonscot, family, childhood, childhood memories, children, toys

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Thursday, 20 June 2019

M, age 8, 'Gypsy Fiddle'

This one signed up, of her own accord, for a talent show at their school. Not sure when it’s happening but we’re practising anyway (her friend is supposedly dancing to this)! Apologies as she said she couldn't hear the backing. Also, it's more difficult to play outdoors, I guess.


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Thursday, 23 May 2019

Old baby things = fabric flower pot

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder sewing, fabric flower pot, children, home, family, Singergaslighthouse.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder sewing, fabric flower pot, children, home, family, Singergaslighthouse.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder sewing, fabric flower pot, children, home, family, SingerMay our home of created objects tell you the story of our lives. I made this flower pot a few years ago from M’s baby stuff (muslin, onesie, and even one of her mittens, among other things). The pot is now stained with water, especially the top part so I decided to cover the top and the back with M’s old flowery blouse. There’s no method in my sewing, I just imagine I’m Alexander McQueen, snipping here and there. *** Mike is away again this week, one of those days when I just feel completely exhausted — cleared M’s room so we could finally put up the swing we’d promised her years ago then did some gardening in the afternoon. The little boy and I collected M and our friend’s son from school, asked them to just stay in the garden as it’s all messy inside (iron board in the sitting room, sewing machine and materials on the dining table). Cooked dinner, put H in bed, told M she could watch ‘Murder, she wrote’ and go to bed after (8pm) as anyway it’s the start of their half-term break tomorrow. Went out to get the rest of my washing and as I was about to put the refuse bin out for collection tomorrow, I came across two of our neighbour’s chickens just chilling and going for a walk in our garden. I managed to shoo one back into their garden then knocked on their door as I couldn’t get the other cheeky one so all in all, interesting end of the day, chasing a chicken in our garden with two other grown-ups (felt like deja vu as this happened a few times before). 

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Saturday, 13 April 2019

Life in The Shire

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder The Shire, The Lord of the Rings, Berkshire, England, books, films, J.R.R. Tolkien, countryside, wildlife, English literatureSaw all three "The Lord of the Rings" films with my eight-year-old. We finished "The Return of the King" last night. I checked my diary -- the first and only time I saw this film was when it came out in 2003, 16 years ago. But I'll always remember Sam and Frodo's longing to return to the Shire whilst on their extraordinary journey. Hobbiton must be great, but whenever I see these things around me, I am reminded that I am in Berkshire (one of 'em 'shires), a breathing, heaving Shire, the England of my English literature, and I am forever grateful. 

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder The Shire, The Lord of the Rings, Berkshire, England, books, films, J.R.R. Tolkien, countryside, wildlife, English literaturePhotos from yesterday afternoon, lovely post-lunch walk to the lake that is a two-minute drive/15-minute walk from our house. I'm a sucker for picnics so we had our desserts there, too. We circled the lake and saw different types of wildlife, including a heron (I always see them by the river Thames, first time here -- it was VERY quiet. I love the quietness of our river/lake and woods walks, you will always hear yourself think). To our left is a stream (above photo), unseen to our right is the lake. It's spring break and Mike is working from home so he joined us, it's nice to get fresh air even just for an hour or so. Or till the kids get a bit cheeky and run ahead and just disappear through the winding paths.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder The Shire, The Lord of the Rings, Berkshire, England, books, films, J.R.R. Tolkien, countryside, wildlife, English literature
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder The Shire, The Lord of the Rings, Berkshire, England, books, films, J.R.R. Tolkien, countryside, wildlife, English literature
Our life in the 'shire. If you like nature, silence
and inspiration, it can't get any better than
this. :)



















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Monday, 11 March 2019

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

gaslightstories.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder Hello, Universe Erin Entrada Kelly Arlington Row Bibury
A beautiful book captured in Bibury, one of the most beautiful villages
in England
In autumn, we were in the Cotswolds for the Cheltenham Literature Festival (in which I met Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell, yay). I brought Hello, Universe and photographed it amongst the chocolate-box cottages in Arlington Row. We are always in between bedtime books so it does take a while to get through the pile. Some two weeks or so ago, my eight-year-old said she was getting tired of Harry Potter (oh, no). We've been reading The Order of the Phoenix and having watched all the Potter films by the time she was four, there was really no excitement anymore to get to the end. I chose Hello, Universe as it seemed like a short read, and a short read it was, only because our usual 10-minute bedtime reading sometimes extended to up to 45 minutes as we couldn't put the book down. My daughter and I usually take turns reading books aloud, well, mostly myself, and I don't mind because children and young adult fiction will always be two of my favourite genre. M also said that she loves how I read in the voices/expressions of the characters -- I think I'll forever be in my early teens.

Where do I start? Such a well-deserved Newbery, and belated congratulations to author Erin Entrada Kelly! The story itself is not fantastical but there is that feel to it, I guess because of the unique traits of the well-drawn characters that we began to care for as though they were real and the setting itself seemed magical (I'm obsessed about wells me-self). One could argue that Ruby might have been the character representing the make-believe side of the story, but it was clear that she was embedded in Virgilio's subconscious and only appeared when he was in deep trouble, someone he could speak to down there in the lonely darkness, in the same manner that Valencia often spoke to St. Rene in her loneliness.

I could list the feelings that this book has evoked in me, but what I liked the most about it is it is too funny and I couldn't count the number of times M and I stopped reading just so we could giggle about what we just read. We both agreed that Gen is our favourite character, we've seen her many times before, that little sister talking too much, asking too many questions, dragging her pink jump rope and just stealing the show overall. My daughter also couldn't stop laughing when the points of view shifted and Valencia was referred to as 'Just Renee.' She asked me if it was really written like that the first time I read the name to her and she didn't believe me but no wonder, Valencia herself nearly forgot she gave a 'fake just-in-case name.' I showed her proof that they really call her 'Just Renee' in some chapters because that's her alias and M giggled some more. The shifting points of view actually works here, too -- I couldn't tell you how many times I wrote short stories in different points of views and this style has always been edited out, but I am aware that it does work better in longer works. Admittedly, towards the end I was more excited about the scenes with Valencia, Kaori and Gen than the one with Virgil. "They're more fun," I told M. "Yes, because they're all girls," said M, expressing girl power!

This is simply a beautiful book written for children, no violence and just a testimony that a book could sound exciting, tough and cool without the use of expletives. I couldn't think of a better ending, either. I couldn't think of anything I don't like. Okay, not a big deal, really, maybe the twin trope? It won't hurt to have twins in a story (Rowling is the most guilty), but why do they always seem to do things in unison? Why should one be where the other one is? I guess I'm guilty of it in real life; my daughter has twin classmates and to their mum, I always ask, 'how are the twins?' as if they don't have a separate identity. As much as I try to correct myself, I guess how we deal with twins in books somehow mirrors real life.

Some of our favourite lines, it's been a while since I've done this, I used to write pages and pages of quotes from books I've just read (the pages below are based on the paperback copy).

167 - "Parents had a way of getting in the middle of things and screwing everything up."

(My eight-year-old went 'sometimes' and it reminded me of one of our jokes in secondary school, 'this studying gets in the way of peer groups.')

183 - "Your destiny is to live in a well?" (too funny and just proves true fighters like Virgilio can make light of every bad situation).

236 - "Could you read lips from far away if you had binoculars or a telescope?" (Best line from Gen!)

309 - love Valencia's thoughts, especially when she looks into the future and imagines the rope rescuing another kid.

My daughter asked me if I know a similar book. She's never been to the Philippines but I said I think she'll also enjoy Candy Gourlay's Tall Story, and she would probably relate more to that one as it is set in the Philippines and here in England. But she has already decided upon seeing Miss Kelly's other books in the inside back cover. My daughter said she'd like to read The Land of Forgotten Girls next and today, I bought it online.

gaslightstories.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder Hello, Universe Erin Entrada Kelly Valencia Cathedral Spain
Valencia, Spain. December, 2006.
***
I couldn't stop thinking of Valencia's name and how Virgil's Lola told her it's like Valencia in Spain. And Valencia thought she'd like to see the Cathedral in Valencia someday. Had I read this book in my youth, I'd probably start dreaming of visiting Valencia, and knowing that, as a small-town girl from the Philippines, I'd never get to see the place. Now that I'm older, I feel the luck of being on the other side -- that of someone reading something and recalling my experience of that place. I dug this old photo of me in front of the Valencia Cathedral back in December 2006 (right photo). This was during the Portuguese leg of my two-year European scholarship fresh from the Philippines and my then future husband drove all the way from England, passing France and Spain, to pick me up from Portugal for Christmas. We drove through Spain, France, Belgium and The Netherlands on our way back to the UK. I also remember that this was the same trip when I asked Mike to take me to Patio de los Naranjos (Orange tree courtyard) in Seville, Spain, after reading about it in Jostein Gaarder's The Orange Girl (I sent a pic of my trip to Jostein - I met him in Oslo the previous year - to which he excitedly replied, 'So nice to see you in Patio de los Naranjos!')

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Thursday, 28 February 2019

Dear M and H

Catherine Batac Walder gaslighthouse.blogspot.com siblings, family, England, childhood, childhood memories, Welford Park
They spend so much time together that once a dog person, H has turned into a cat person, too, like his sister.
Catherine Batac Walder gaslighthouse.blogspot.com siblings, family, England, childhood, childhood memories, Welford Park
I've always loved the film 'An American Tail.' Now I just
tear up every time I watch that scene when older sister
Tanya and younger brother Fievel sing 'Somewhere out
there.'
It is a joy to wake up to the noise of these two playing together (they do play nicely together in the mornings, for some reason). Some days, we know it's because M wakes the little boy up and when the first 'hello' whilst peeking in his bedroom door doesn't work, she stomps around the hallway, pretending to walk. Then I get a whisper from H to ask me where something is. Mike says the sister actually sent H over to wake me up as if she knew she'd be in trouble if she did it herself. 'Sometimes having a brother or sister is nice,' I told the husband, who is an only child, and he readily agrees.

I know that they're bound to do naughty things together, such as when my younger brother (my only sibling) and I, as young children, wanted to print T-shirts and used the wood paint in the shed, thinking we can use just any paint!
***
I'm old enough to understand that what matters to me may not necessarily matter to other people, and vice-versa, but it is my personal joy to see you two grow up in the England as I know it in my English literature (and history), the -Shire(s), the Austens, the railways, the Thames, the Victorians, and so on. But above all else, you two make me think that there is no such thing as a special place, what there is, are moments between people, and I'm glad that together, you make even the mundane a memory to cherish, whether it's just by reading or role-playing (how the Bronte siblings whiled away their time) -- and please, may our lives stay this ordinary. You won't have to venture farther or wait for weekends and half-terms to go for sleepovers or midnight feasts, having each other from childhood means you will have each have a constant companion till you leave the nest. Hope you'll remain this close as you get older and will learn from, and will always be there for, each other.

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Friday, 11 January 2019

Hand-me-downs, recycling, role-playing and our little everyday

Some of M's clothes are hand-me-downs from a friend's daughter. My mother thinks it’ll be good for her - she wouldn't really say the exact science behind this, but that it’ll be good for M's attitude or something. If people comment that M is wearing a pretty dress and if it happens to be a hand-me-down, I mention that it belonged to a friend's daughter and I guess it’s why one of M’s classmate’s mum didn’t hesitate to ask if I'd like her daughter’s old Rainbows uniform for M’s use before. I'm guessing some people won't even ask to give you used items, thinking it might be offensive. M says it’s like recycling. As an aside, when I praised her for walking to school, she said she wouldn’t want to be driven to school as it won’t be good for the environment. It’s also that age when she just finds every animal very cute. There were a few times when she hinted not wanting to eat meat, but I told her she could be vegetarian or vegan when she is able to cook her own food, as right now I’m already stressed out cooking even though I have everything at my disposal.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder recycling, hand-me-down, Road Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes AndersonI like pretty things but I don’t tend to get too attached (a large chunk of our used clothing/items go to charity). Well, except maybe for the clothes that my aunt had made for me, for their sentimental value. I usually buy clothes for the kids -- if I need to -- off-season (i.e., winter clothes bought during spring, for the next winter, when everything is just a fraction of the full price). When my son was born, my daughter also started getting neutral-colour waterproofs, wellies, trainers, etc. something that could be passed on to the little boy later (I guess it's my way of being reasonable when I have to unreasonably spend on other things - it will work out all right when things are balanced). Got this pretty pink coat for M (left photo) online last spring, it's for a 10-year-old. It's from a store in Paris. I saw it and thought it looked like one of my coats so we could have the same :) I watched it the way a hawk watches its prey till it went on sale. M wants to wear it already. The arms are still very long, but oversize looks good on her, too.
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder recycling, hand-me-down, Road Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson
Mr. Fox’s study, the original set from Wes Anderson’s
production of Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009).

Watched ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ (2009) again over the holidays, this time with the little boy. The script is for grown-ups (like the hilarious lines ‘Are you cussing with me? No, you cussing with me? Don’t cussing point at me! You can cuss yourself’) but Wes Anderson, you are fantastic because every shot made my a three-year-old giggle in delight. Throwback to the Roald Dahl Museum, that's Mr. Fox’s study, the original set from Anderson’s production. The details of Dahl’s writing hut were recreated for the film.



When you begin to hope that your children are like (Bronte) prodigies, role-playing for lack of things to do in the English (semi) countryside... You also imagine them switching their roles like it was no big deal, the way Philip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly switched roles as brothers in Sam Shepard’s Broadway production of True West, when you couldn’t imagine one actor playing the other. In the two videos below, M, age 8 and H, age 3, are alternating between the roles of the wolf and the pig. :)


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Wednesday, 26 December 2018

A taste of 'real' Guinness at home


Catherine Batac Walder gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Guinness, surger, Irish, beer
Catherine Batac Walder gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Guinness, surger, Irish, beer
It's been years since we bought cans for our Guinness surger (or surgers, it used to come free with the cans).  Heard the approval of a few true Irishmen that this Guinness via the surger is just as good as the Guinness we buy in pubs in Ireland. I'm not a drinker at all, but wouldn't mind tasting anything that's Irish.





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Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Video: M, age 8, playing jingle bells (violin and piano)

Practising Jingle Bells on the violin.

Please excuse the dark piano vid. M started learning the piano three months ago. She's currently learning how to use her left hand (didn't use it in the video above).

Got this tree the year H was born. Retired his old penguin mittens to the tree, he now prefers his race car gloves anyway. Other decor in the left photo: a small chocolate Baileys bottle, a sample of the drink that came with a bottle of Baileys we'd bought years ago. (I.love.Baileys. Or anything Irish, really). Another decor made by M at a friend's house last Thursday; a lot of our decor were ones she'd made over the years since nursery.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com, Catherine Batac Walder,music, violin, piano, Jingle Bells, Christmas, Christmas tree, children, familygaslighthouse.blogspot.com, Catherine Batac Walder,music, violin, piano, Jingle Bells, Christmas, Christmas tree, children, family

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Saturday, 1 December 2018

"At Your Feet" by August Green

Heard this song out of the blue, I haven't done a background research; it seems it's a newish release but I thought the lyrics were beautiful words to a son or daughter. I lent my headset to my daughter for her to listen to it and she thought it was a beautiful song, too.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Catherine Batac Walder song, music, August Green, At your feet, children, family, lyrics, Christmas, Christmas tree
M, age 8, December 2018
"At Your Feet" by August Green
Oooh, Vienna. Oooh, Vienna.

I hope you stay out of trouble
Not completely, but enough
So that you learn but you don't get hurt
I hope you get to surround yourself
with people that encourage you
and always share their kind of words
Make sure you dare to imagine
Dream up your own fairytales
Your little havens where you'll go sometimes
When the world is dull or sad
Or doesn't seem to make sense
It's good to have a little place to hide
Now this earth is at your feet
This ground is yours to walk
Songs and colours, friends to meet
Get out there to explore
Come on, Vienna oooh, Vienna.
And when you need me to be there
I will do my part and listen to your words
From first to last I vow to keep all your secrets
If you empty your heart
I'll dry your tears and I'll share your laughs
Put your stones and bricks in my arms
I will carry them with pride
Some extra weight will do me no harm
I have none to give but love and time
Now this earth is at your feet
This ground is yours to walk
Songs and colours, friends to meet
Get out there to explore
Come on, Vienna oooh, Vienna. 


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Saturday, 3 November 2018

H, age 3, "reading" The Gruffalo

Apologies if you hardly understand any word, but still I'm pleased with this boy. He was very late in talking, but now, he tries his very best to speak. He got bored waiting for me to start reading and to my surprise, he began reading himself. I asked him to start over so I could film it. We read this book to him when he was much smaller, and only started reading it again two or three times recently. I was surprised at how much he remembers.


Just some pictures...
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child, Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler, children, children's book, Gruffalo Trail, Alice Holt Forest, Swinley Forest
Little M following the Gruffalo trail at Alice Holt Forest,
Summer 2014
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child, Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler, children, children's book, Gruffalo Trail, Alice Holt Forest, Swinley Forest
Back to Alice Holt Forest, January 2018 


gaslighthouse.blogspot.com The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child, Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler, children, children's book, Gruffalo Trail, Alice Holt Forest, Swinley Forest
H in a Gruffalo hoodie, Swinley Forest (January, 2018),
where part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 
was filmed.



gaslighthouse.blogspot.com The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child, Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler, children, children's book, Gruffalo Trail, Alice Holt Forest, Swinley Forest
H 'meeting' the Gruffalo's Child, January 2018




















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Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Seven Sisters and "Atonement"

The magnificent Seven Sisters chalk cliffs are an iconic image located on one of Britain's finest unspoilt coastlines. Immediately after watching the film “Atonement” in 2007, based on Ian McEwan's book, we visited the White Cliffs of Dover thinking they were the cliffs seen in the film. 

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Seven Sisters cliffs, Atonement, Ian Mcewan, film, book, travel, James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Enduring Love, first edition

As it turned out, the final sequence was shot in Seven Sisters, with Robbie and Cecilia’s (portrayed by James McAvoy and Keira Knightley) ‘cottage’ behind me here (above photo). By comparison, Dover’s strategic location, large town and huge port mean defences have been fitted to protect them. As a result, Dover’s cliffs often become dirty and overgrown. The Seven Sisters meanwhile are allowed to erode naturally.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Seven Sisters cliffs, Atonement, Ian Mcewan, film, book, travel, James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Enduring Love, first edition
That final sequence in ‘Atonement’ with Robbie and Cecilia playing in the waves 
(right where mini-me and I are in this photo) always makes me cry. 

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Seven Sisters cliffs, Atonement, Ian Mcewan, film, book, travel, James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Enduring Love, first edition

In love with this photo - with Mike and the kids seen in the distance. I didn’t have McEwan’s ‘Atonement’ with me but his earlier work, ‘Enduring Love’ might well have been the title of Robbie and Cecilia’s happy ending, right on this beach where the river meets the sea, the breathtaking Seven Sisters, and their cottage to my right. This hardback copy of ‘Enduring Love’ (First Edition, Second Impression) was signed in person by Mr. McEwan during the Oxford Literary Festival ’09.

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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

In Search of the Stairs in Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”

How lucky that there is no place in England that is more than 70 miles from the sea! I find this both amazing and amusing as I've always thought that I was an island girl but growing up, it took a lot of effort to get to the nearest beach. We didn't go on a big trip this summer as my husband started with a new job and after a week of travelling on the Coast, we went home and he started work the very next day (he's been to California two times, Dubai, New Jersey and New York since). Still, who needs to get on a plane when on your doorstep are the unspoilt British coastlines, the Mary Rose, the Jurassic Coast, etc. all those places we visited that are easily accessible from home (e.g., Portsmouth is an hour away; the farthest is Lyme Regis at two+ hours). 

We seriously considered a job opportunity for the husband in California. We would like for the kids to grow up in England, so an opportunity like that to arise when they're still very young was tempting. We thought three years would be enough, just for them to acquire the self-confidence of American kids when we return home. My aunt lives in Fremont, some 30-minute away from where we thought of moving. She helped raise me and having done everything on my own since moving to England, I just thought it'd be nice to get some kind of support and help, for a change. In the end, hubby received a much better offer for a role based here.

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Jane Austen, Persuasion, family, Lyme Regis,The Cobb, Fine Books and Collections, writing, travel, children, Dorset, Jurassic Coast
These steps called Granny’s Teeth on the Cobb in Lyme Regis are the most popular candidate from where Louisa Musgrove fell in Jane Austen’s novel “Persuasion.” My little adventurous girl also climbed them but anyway, it was easier to go up than down! 

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Jane Austen, Persuasion, family, Lyme Regis,The Cobb, Fine Books and Collections, writing, travel, children, Dorset, Jurassic Coast
 Standing on the end of the Cobb on a good day very 
unlike the weather in that popular scene with Meryl 
Streep dressed in black in "The French Lieutenant’s 
Woman." 
Another late post of my literary travel article for Fine Books & Collections. "A walk along the famous Cobb, the wall that protects the harbour, must be high on the list of anyone visiting Lyme Regis. The town is known for the fossils found in the cliffs and beaches, which are part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site. I was one of the many whose main purpose of visiting was not to search for fossils, but to see the stairs from where Louisa Musgrove fell in Jane Austen’s novel, Persuasion. But there were others before me, most notably, Lord Tennyson, who walked nine miles from Bridport to Lyme in 1867, and when he called upon his friend, fellow poet Francis Palgrave, he refused all refreshment, demanded to be taken to the Cobb, and commanded, “show me the steps from which Louisa Musgrove fell.” You could read the full article over here In Search of the Stairs in Jane Austen’s “Persuasion

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Wednesday, 22 August 2018

M, age 7, singing the theme from Pokemon

This was M singing the theme from 'Pokemon,' of all things, a view of Chesil Beach behind her (which I wanted to see because of Ian McEwan's novel 'On Chesil Beach'). From Chesil, we drove to Portland to get a good view of the beach. 
The next video is also M singing the same song in what she calls her American accent (she’s not taking the mickey, just trying to copy the accent in shows like 'My Little Pony' and such). You could tell she's much more confident when her face is hidden.
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Thursday, 16 August 2018

'48 locks and counting,' my second article in Practical Boat Owner

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Practical Boat Owner, writing, Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K Jerome, boating, River Thames, Berkshire, books, British, fiction, Great Britain

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Practical Boat Owner, writing, Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K Jerome, boating, River Thames, Berkshire, books, British, fiction, Great BritainA bit late, but here goes - one of my favourite books from the Victorian Era is Jerome K Jerome's Three Men in a Boat (1889), it's one of the funniest, wittiest books you'll ever come across. I’ve read this book a number of times. Practical Boat Owner (PBO) magazine here published in their Summer 2018 issue my piece about boating, Jerome and the river Thames (for those who are not from England: it is pronounced ‘Tems,’ just one of those words here that might leave you scratching your head as to why). PBO is Britain’s biggest-selling boating magazine, I’ve written for them before, about boating on the English Channel. Formerly by IPC Media, they're now being published by Time Inc / Meredith. 

Can't help but feel giddy that one of my photos fills an entire page. Or how big my name was printed as though I'm a sort of Jerome K Jerome or river lock expert (I don't mind either!). Our beloved boat is the beautiful white and green sportsboat in this right photo -- it's currently on the coast. The ocean, speedboats and very young children don’t go well together and to be honest, I'm very much a river person me-self. I grew up in a town which name literally translates to "mouth of the river," I guess I can't escape that!

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Practical Boat Owner, writing, Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K Jerome, boating, River Thames, Berkshire, books, British, fiction, Great BritainI wish I could say something profound or life-changing other than the end goal of my reading had always been travel. These two always went together and back when I didn't have resources to travel, I read so much to make up for it. Even with my writing, travel was always the end goal, I guess it's the reason why I don't have enough motivation to write these last few years, because of all the travelling, instead of just dreaming about it on paper. To see these places I only read about in books is such a dream come true. Over the years, I also got to document my own adventures by writing about them in international publications, both print and online. I still miss fiction-writing, though. There is a short fantasy story of mine called 'Swallowing Saturday' published on Expanded Horizons, an online speculative fiction magazine, in December 2013 (my second story with them). It is my love letter to the River Thames and to all mothers who are away from their children. It's also a sort of companion piece to this Practical Boat Owner 'locks' travel article. “Pacita received the invitation to Elvie’s wedding on the day her five-year-old swallowed Saturday for a fifth week in a row.” It’s still available to read if you click on here.
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com Practical Boat Owner, writing, Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K Jerome, boating, River Thames, Berkshire, books, British, fiction, Great Britain

That weird, exhilarating feeling when one of your life’s greatest desires is happening to you: to write stories on a boat. (old photo). 

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Thursday, 19 July 2018

M at a Puppet Show (apparently a first in her Victorian school)

gaslighthouse.blogspot.com puppet show, Victorian school, school, art, The Lonely Goatherd, The Sound of Music, childhood, childhood memoriesOh to be seven and be a part of a puppet show! While we were waiting for the show, the final project of Years 1 and 2, to begin, Mrs. E asked Mrs. M who has worked in the school for 27 years if she's seen a puppet show performed in this school. Mrs. M said no, this was the first time ever that the kids would have a puppet show, as far as she was aware. I couldn't believe all the work they had put into creating this, and only during the last few months - M's school has again surpassed itself. The kids made their own puppets (M is holding hers here), they also wrote their own poems and music. And when the kids performed, they knew their lines by heart, even if their faces were not seen. M has always wanted to be a part of a puppet show -- I guess it's from watching 'The Lonely Goatherd' in 'The Sound of Music' since she was tiny, and this is another dream come true for her. Whilst we try our best to make her experience everything, whether it's by travel abroad or a water play at the lake or a little trip to the playground, it's the school and the clubs she's part of that make up for all the things we wouldn't/couldn't do with her. (Say, I won't even make her try sparklers, remembering horror mix-ups in factories in the Phils -- I'm funny that way -- but she did it when she was a Rainbow).
gaslighthouse.blogspot.com puppet show, Victorian school, school, art, The Lonely Goatherd, The Sound of Music, childhood, childhood memoriesgaslighthouse.blogspot.com puppet show, Victorian school, school, art, The Lonely Goatherd, The Sound of Music, childhood, childhood memories

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Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Alfred Hitchcock's Stories to be read with the door locked

Alfred Hitchcock, mystery, books, anthology, Stories to be read with the door locked, Roald Dahl, Tales of the Unexpected, gaslighthouse.blogspot.com
Last Sunday at a miniature railway fun day out in our local area. This track is great; the trees cooled us down on a hot sunny day. Love our semi-rural life here in Berks, never boring and monotonous with all the surrounding lakes, trails and railways (big or small). The Thames is a bonus, too. Just couldn't get enough of the Home Counties! I wish Yorkshire was nearby. Sigh.

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My husband gave this book to me many years ago after I'd finished another Hitchcock volume, Stories to be read with the lights on that I got from his grandad's library and thoroughly enjoyed. I read this book immediately after receiving it, very rare these days. These are stories compiled from different publications printed from the '40s - '70s (Ellery Queen, Weird Tales etc), I really love the mystery stories from that era. Roald Dahl's "Royal Jelly" is in this collection - his works for grown-ups are just as good as his children's books. I guess Dahl is from the Home Counties himself, having lived in nearby Great Missenden (Bucks) from 1954 till his death in 1990. I saw an adaptation of 'Royal Jelly' in Tales of the Unexpected (via youtube). Excellent show, not sure if it was shown in the Philippines (I would have been too little to remember).

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Friday, 29 June 2018

Frogmore House and Gardens Open Day


Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Royal Wedding 2018, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Windsor Castle, Frogmore House and Gardens, Open Day, Royal Wedding reception, Berkshire, The Long WalkThe last several weeks have been busy but I'll try to do some quick posts soon, probably some photo diaries. First among the series was our visit to Frogmore House and Gardens early this month.  We didn't go to Windsor during the months leading to the Royal Wedding, but there were still remnants of it, bunting still up and there was just a general celebratory feel.

(left) Prebooked our garden tickets online; one could buy the house tickets in person, just outside the house. there was a queue to get in in the morning and it was less busy in the afternoon, obviously most visitors thought the same thing, to get there as early as they could!
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Royal Wedding 2018, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Windsor Castle, Frogmore House and Gardens, Open Day, Royal Wedding reception, Berkshire, The Long Walk
Frogmore House was where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now Duke and Duchess of Sussex, had their wedding reception last May and where the couple also had their engagement photo shoot last December. The place holds charity days for three days every year. We are very lucky to live close by. I went with my boys - requested for the husband to take the day off. We were there from 10:30 to 16.30, exploring the house and gardens. Too bad photography wasn't allowed inside the house. My favourite was Queen Mary's Flower Room - her collection of silk (artificial) flowers from the 19th century preserved in glass domes. There was also a room of paintings by Queen Victoria's children. She's my favourite Queen, I just love anything Victorian.



Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Royal Wedding 2018, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Windsor Castle, Frogmore House and Gardens, Open Day, Royal Wedding reception, Berkshire, The Long Walk

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Royal Wedding 2018, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Windsor Castle, Frogmore House and Gardens, Open Day, Royal Wedding reception, Berkshire, The Long Walk

We weren't being naughty, we were allowed to drive past the Windsor Castle gate and then on the Long Walk to get to Frogmore House, we really were! And of course, I had to photograph this as it's not everyday that you get to drive on the Long Walk. Otherwise they'll call it The Long Drive, wouldn't they? My late-father-in law used to walk his dog here everyday. From the Castle gate to the foot of the statue of King George III (The Copper Horse) is 2.64 miles each way. When I showed the photo to the little girl who couldn't come because it was a school day, she said, "it looks just like A Road to me." Oh sour grapes. Though can't blame her I guess, as her photo scootering to the Castle (right) is more stunning. H has got to have a picture in the car (below), as well, and please excuse the baking soda marks on his belt. (I use baking soda to mask off the smell when he gets car sick, though vacuuming and wipes don’t seem to be enough to get rid of the marks). M chose her next stage car seat that’s seen here, which means the little boy will have a pink car seat in the future.Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Royal Wedding 2018, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Windsor Castle, Frogmore House and Gardens, Open Day, Royal Wedding reception, Berkshire, The Long Walk

We had a picnic and explored the gardens some more in the afternoon. One thing I didn't expect was finding the graves of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, side by side, under a tree (photo below). I was fascinated with their story when I was a young girl, that time thinking that a man abdicating the throne to be with the woman he loved was the most romantic story of all. Of course, years later I would learn that there was more to their story than that, and it wasn't as romantic as I thought it was.

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Royal Wedding 2018, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Windsor Castle, Frogmore House and Gardens, Open Day, Royal Wedding reception, Berkshire, The Long Walk

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