Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Bear Called Paddington

I was delighted to finally make my acquaintance with Paddington this month. It's hard to believe that I could have missed such an enduring cultural icon in my own childhood. But I did. But I'm making up for lost time now. 

A Bear Called Paddington is a delightful book, and Paddington Bear is truly worthy of his cult status. One warm summer day Paddington turns up on Paddington Station (clearly where he gets his name) with a tag round his neck, an old, battered suitcase and a jar of marmalade, mostly eaten.

Paddington emigrated from "Darkest Peru" after his Aunt Lucy had to go into a home for retired bears. Paddington goes home with the Brown family, and so begins a series of delightful, charming stories. I really enjoyed A Bear Called Paddington. Simple tales, of a naughty bear who gets into mischief each chapter. He always has sticky whiskers and it's easy to see why these have delighted children for decades. I’m quite sure my son would have enjoyed this as a read aloud book when he was young. 

Michael Bond didn't intend to write a book when he doodled in 1958, but ten days later the first of many Paddington books was written. Paddington was inspired to some extent by the children evacuated from London during WWII.

"When I was small, I had memories of children being evacuated from London with a label around their necks and all their possessions in a suitcase, and this became part of Paddington as well".

After laughing myself stupid at the trailer
I'll be seeing Paddington next week

I caught up with Paddington Bear at Paddington Station last year.

Statue by Marcus Cornish
after Peggy Fortnum's illustrations

He even has his own shop
Sadly not open before our
early morning train to Cardiff


Saturday, 20 December 2014

A Melbourne Christmas

I was in Melbourne recently for a week. There were  Christmas decorations everywhere. The City of Melbourne have done a fabulous job this year.

There was even a guide to the decorations, and activities. 

Christmas Square
Swanston St

The Christmas Projection on Melbourne Town Hall was definitely a highlight. I caught the whole show twice on different nights. 

It was enchanting. 

See the official video here. It's pretty cool. 

In Sydney David Jones has the big Christmas window display. In Melbourne it's the Myers Christmas Windows that are the big drawcard- huge lines day and night to see the themed windows. This year is the 59th year- an adaptation of Maria Modugno's Santa Claus and the Three Bears.

Antler sellers were everywhere.

 Lots of shops made a seasonal display.

A tree of thongs.
Surf Dive and Ski Bourke St

PollonFlowers in Flinders Lane is always
whimsical and creative no matter the season
Disco Christmas balls
Harrolds, Collins St
Melbourne Town Hall wreath
A giant snow dome at the Sofitel Melbourne

At the entrance to Dymocks in Collins St

Crown Casino had a huge animatronic Christmas display. I only got to see a part of the show, but it's much less crowded than the windows at Myers. And no queue.

But nothing says Merry Christmas Melbourne
like Cookie Monster playing
Christmas Carols on the bagpipes.
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Sunday, 14 December 2014

Pig the Pug

Little kids aren't very good at sharing. And neither are fat little pugs called Pig.

Pig won't share his toys with sweet little Trevor the sausage dog.

Of course Pig learns his lesson in a very fun way.

Pig the Pug is the most recent wonderful picture book from the considerable talents of Aaron Blabey. He has written many quirky and original picture books. One of Aaron's other recent books The Brothers Quibble has been selected for next years National Simultaneous Storytime to be held on May 27 2015.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Popping Down to the Shops - Coop Zurich

Wandering Zurich on our first afternoon we found The Coop- which was an incredible international supermarket experience.

We saw these guys everywhere.
I'm not really sure what they are.

I was not expecting a self service fried food bar
in the supermarket

There was chocolate everywhere in Switzerland.

Walls of it
Much of it was Lindt. 

Pretty boxes of it. 

You can pick your own
Sadly it seems I don't like Marc de Champagne

 They have tie dyed eggs!

The coloured eggs are cooked, ready to eat for picnics!

Hmm, um. No thanks. 

Tempting, but no room in the suitcase. 

Even Swiss pegs are cool. 

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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Miss Rumphius

Miss Rumphius is a famous book. Released in 1982 it won the 1983 American Book Award for Children's Books (sharing the award with William Stieg's Doctor De Soto). It has enjoyed an ongoing popularity, and love. It is still in print. Miss Rumphius placed 13th in the SLJ Top 100 Picture Books 2012. And yet I still didn't manage to hear of it until much more recently in Buzzfeed's list of 37 Children's Books that Changed Your Life. I'd read or heard of pretty much all of the other books and authors. I'd never heard of Miss Rumphius or Barbara Cooney. Online I went, and pretty soon Miss Rumphius was landing at my door, which is quite apt as it turns out.

Miss Rumphius is a gorgeous book and tells the story of Miss Alice Rumphius, an old, old lady when we first meet her. Of course she hasn't always been old, and she has lived a wonderful life. Growing up with her grandfather she painted the sky in his paintings and sits on his knee each night to hear his stories of faraway places. Soon Alice is making her own plans.

"When I grow up, I too will go to faraway places, and when I grow old, I too will live beside the sea."
But Alice's grandfather is wise and tells her that

"You must do something to make the world more beautiful,"

An admirable aim. You don't need to wait to make your life more beautiful- grab a copy of Miss Rumphius and make it more beautiful now. And maybe we all should plant some lupins too. 

I think Miss Rumphius has been to the
South Island of New Zealand...

Monday, 1 December 2014

My Old Lady

I hadn't heard of My Old Lady before I saw a print ad in the newspaper. I saw it merely as a new Maggie Smith movie. She's made several lovely films in the past few years including The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Quartet. So, I thought it might be nice to go along. Then Mr Wicker told me it was set in Paris. Naturally, I went along ASAP.

And naturally, Paris doesn't disappoint. Filmed completely on site in Paris, I thought My Old Lady was better as Paris porn than as a movie really. If I wasn't quite so obsessed with reading every street sign and working out if I'd been in that particular park/cafe/street then I might not have enjoyed it quite so much.

Kevin Kline plays Jim Gold, a somewhat hapless thrice married, thrice divorced New Yorker who is left an apartment in Paris in his father's will. And don't we all want that to happen? There is a catch however, the French have a particularly arcane form of sale, called a viager, where you can buy a property for a reduced price, and the former owner will continue to reside in the property for the rest of their life, while the new owner makes ongoing payments to the former owner. No, I hadn't heard of it before this either. Naturally, Jim Gold arrives wanting to sell the apartment immediately, and obviously the occupants aren't that keen. Of course, Maggie Smith, plays the elderly tennant, and the delightful Kristin Scott Thomas is her daughter, Chloe.

Rather unusually they gave quite a specific address as the location of the apartment in question, 13, Rue de Payenne 75003. Which was rather exciting as it was very near where we stayed in Paris last month, and I spent many pleasurable hours wandering about the general area. Paris has famously beautiful doors, and if you leave them open even briefly someone with a camera and a blog will stickybeak. The location has a fascinating history. I do wonder if the work being done was filming?

Actually if you watch the trailer
you really don't need to see the film

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