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Friday 23 July 2010

Out of Office Autoreply

Thank you for visiting The Sardine Tin.

Unfortunately, I am now out of the office with little or no access to this blog while I take a much-anticipated and (hopefully) well-deserved break. As I couldn't be bothered to schedule posts or arrange guest posters, feel free to poke around in the archives if you like, or just disappear and come back in a couple of weeks.


Wednesday 21 July 2010

Quick Plug For A Good Cause

This is just a very quick post to point you in the direction of something called the "Mona Lisa Million" being worked on by Dave at Mister Good Guy. This is a project that is trying to combine Website Promotion with supporting good causes. At the moment Dave has a limited number of free spaces going for anyone that would like to link their website, so if this is something that interests you, head over to Mona Lisa to check it out, where it is all explained much better than I could do! 

Tuesday 20 July 2010

The Gallery - A Novel Idea

This week's Gallery Theme by Tara over at Sticky Fingers is "A Novel Idea". To quote Tara:

"A photograph which you think represents a favourite book or novel or even children's tale."

My chosen book this week: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, as it was a particular favourite of mine when I was a child. 

We are lucky enough to live relatively close to Bowood House, which every year opens up its "Rhododendron Walk" for a limited period only. We went for the first time a few weeks ago, and it really did feel like a secret garden, as there were very few people there at all (we hardly saw a soul), with lots of lovely nooks and crannies - great for playing hide and seek in. 

Sunday 18 July 2010

RIP My Teenage Crush

DD1 and I were "enjoying" High School Musical over the weekend. I must confess, while I thought the film was harmless enough, it wouldn't normally be something I would choose to watch again. In some ways this surprised me a little. I'm normally a sucker for anything vaguely inappropriately too young for me. I have terrible taste in TV and films.

Don't get me wrong - I love a good documentary as much as the next pseudo-intellectual, and I do consider myself a bit of a current affairs junkie (I'm sure there's another post somewhere about my strange crush on John Humphrys, but this is not it), but I do like nothing more than watching a bit of trash that doesn't tax my mind too much.

However, I was a little sad to find that the male lead in HSM, a certain Zac Efron actually did nothing for me. I mean, look at him:

From a purely objective point of view I can see why millions of pre-pubescent girls swoon at the mere mention of his name. If I was twenty years younger I would probably be doing the same. Heck, if I were even ten years younger I would maybe secretly think he was a tad dishy.

The thing is, since having children of my own I just can't see teenage boys quite in the same way any more. I know you will tell me that most of the actors who play these sort of roles are normally considerably older than the boys they portray on screen (Efron, apparently is 22 - the actors who play some of the lead roles in Glee, for example, are also well into their mid- to late-20s).

This does concern me somewhat. Traditionally it is fair to say that I have generally gone for older men. There comes a point though, where this starts to limit the "laminated list" somewhat. After all, despite seemingly getting better with age, even George Clooney will eventually start to lose his looks, and I don't think I am quite ready to look at Mick Jagger in quite that way yet...

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Sparks of Uncreativeness

I haven't been feeling very creative recently.

The blog posts have dried up a little (certainly in comparison to a couple of weeks ago!). Mainly this is down to the fact that work has been ridiculously busy and I therefore have less thinking time. However, even at work my lack of creativity has been noticeable. I have a couple of things I have needed to do that, whilst not really a full-flung artistic extravaganza, are what I would vaguely class as "more creative than normal" - i.e. involving having to think about words and images.

I happened to catch a snippet of a programme on Radio4 last week called Grayson Perry on Creativity and Imagination. Sadly for some reason this is not available as a "listen again" option on the Radio4 website, and I therefore only have the few minutes I caught to go on. It essentially seemed to be a list of what he considered myths about Creativity and the creative process. The gist of his argument seemed to be that artistic creativity was neither easy nor particularly exciting (a lot of the creative process being "dull and repetitive" once the original idea had struck).

To quote from a synopsis of the programme:
"Grayson wants to (...) show how creativity isn't a mystery, but at the same time it isn't necessarily easily accessible."

I can see the argument that says that if it was easy, there would be thousands of great works of art by millions of people. However, what I didn't agree with was the inference that you somehow had to be special to be creative.*

A lot of the joy in writing this blog is not necessarily down to the fact that I have some kind of strange idea that I am going to get discovered for my fantastic writing - I have no such delusions. I have come to terms with the fact that I am never going to be a "creative genius". I can't take a decent photograph to save my life. My work will never appear in a great gallery or library. I do believe, however, that in their own way everyone can be creative.

You only have to look at the joy with which small children scribble their way through life, drawing everyone and everything with complete abandon. Why is this something that seems to be drummed out of us as we go through life, discouraged and disillusioned by both internal and external critics?

I would loveto rediscover some of that joy of experimenting, of letting myself go with something just to see what happens. Whether real life will really let me remains to be seen.

See full size image

*Obviously I am making a big assumption that this was how the argument was going to pan out - as I said, I was unable to listen to the whole of the programme, so may well have got the wrong end of the stick. Feel free to correct me if you heard it!

Thursday 8 July 2010

Who Loves Ya, Ruby Woo?

I am finally a grown-up. I have bought a red lipstick.

I actually bought it a while ago at Heathrow on my last trip out to Dubai, and have worn it the grand total of twice since then. This to me is completely irrelevant, for a red lipstick is something I have been hankering after for a long time. It is one of those iconic things that women are "supposed to have", like the perfect LBD (little black dress, for any men reading), the perfect pair of jeans, the perfect white shirt, a signature fragrance.... Apparently it's a STAPLE.

Despite the fact that I regularly wear make-up, I like to think I don't wear huge quantities of it - a slick of mascara, maybe a smudge of eyeshadow if I am trying to impress. I almost never wear lipstick, yet I possess quite a few in varying shades of nude, plus one or two bolder colours that seemed like a good idea at the time. And now - finally - red.

In my dreams, I suppose I imagined that I would wear red lipstick and look like a 1940s Hollywood siren. In reality, I only hope I don't end up looking like a little girl that has been playing with grandma's make-up.

I admit it - the lady on the MAC counter at Heathrow knew exactly what to say; "I prefer this one on you, it makes your eyes look really blue".


I must be a marketing manager's wet dream when it comes to lotions and potions. I am seduced by pretty packaging and promises of unbelievable results. Fake tan that doesn't streak, dry shampoo that gives your hair that "freshly washed" look, eye cream that de-puffs and de-bags, cellulite creams, nail hardener, foot polisher, hair remover... the list is almost endless. All these things lanquish half used in a cupboard somewhere.

Not all women are like this. However, from purely personal experience I think there are probably more women this applies to than would like to admit it - even women that class themselves as "low-maintenance" when it comes to beauty products.

Are we really all shallow creatures that can be bought with a promise? Or is it just me?

After all - it's only a bit of coloured grease.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

The Gallery - Holidays

Images of childhood holidays...

...and somewhere I am taking my own children for the very first time this year.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

I Need to Get Out More

Conversation with one of the builders doing our garage earlier today.

Him: Sorry to bother you, don't suppose I can borrow a spoon please?
Me: Yes, sure - just a teaspoon?
Him: Yes, I just need it to eat my tin of sardines.

Cue hysterical laughter from myself and puzzled look from him.

Clearly, my online persona is taking over.

Monday 5 July 2010

Just Wondering...

1) Why I bother having a window cleaner coming to clean the outside of my windows when the inside is so filthy you can't see out anyway.
2) How the greenfly got onto the basil plant in the kitchen
3) Why I can't get rid of the headache I've had for the last three days
4) How much each strawberry from our strawberry plants has cost us (answer: approx. £1.20)
5) Why I booked a whole day off tomorrow for DD1's Sport's Day and what I am going to do with myself in the afternoon?!
6) How I am ever going to write a coherent blog post again after being so in awe of all the fabulous ones that were read out at Cybermummy!

Friday 2 July 2010


Nose Kiss by markfftang.

I won't bore you with how excited I am to be attending my first ever blogger conference - Cybermummy - tomorrow. I think I've done that enough. However, it has got me thinking about the etiquette of greeting people in Britain - especially those you have never met.

In Germany, it is customary to greet people with a strong handshake. The more Mediterranean cultures go in for kissing - although even this is not necessarily standardised. Even in France it differs by region as to whether the norm is four kisses or two. I am told the Polish compromise with three. Eskimoes rub noses (or is that one of these horrible stereotypical myths?)

What, however, do the British do? Some friends I hug. Others like to go in for air kissing (differing numbers thereof). Some very good friends are not really the kissy type at all and are merely greeted with a cheery "hello".

Trying to remember who likes to do what - for want of a better phrase - can be a bit of a minefield. Invariably it all descends into an awkward shuffle, much blushing and apologies.

Maybe that's the answer. If you meet an English person, just greet them by saying Sorry.

Just Ignore - Messing with Technology

Trying out mobile blogging
What can POSSIBLY go wrong?!

Thursday 1 July 2010

The Alternative Boden Catalogue

The Wonderful Dulwichmum is in the process of creating an "Alternative" Boden Catalogue. Some excellent contributions so far - go and check out her blog for the hilarious original inspiration.

Here is my little effort:

Herringbone Blazer
Tarquin wears jacket in "Bad Phallic Symbolism".
Likes: Jazz hands, Crochet and Being called Tara at weekends

Saskia wears dress in "Leaves left over from the hedge she was dragged backwards through"
Likes: Tarquin's cigar. 'Fnar, 'fnar

Don't Mention the War

This post was originally drafted earlier in the week, but I didn't quite get around to finishing it. I had considered discarding it, as it is no longer really immediately topical, but in the end decided to go ahead anyway, as I am interested in other people's thoughts on this.


There was apparently some kind of minor football match on Sunday.

England vs. Germany.

For various reasons we did not actually watch it, although under normal circumstances I would have done. In the end, I don't think I really missed much anyway. It sounds like a 3 hour drive across country listening to an audio CD of "Harry and the Dinosaurs" on a continuous loop was definitely a better way to spend the afternoon.

No matter what the score or the performance of the England team, I never relish these particular games. The so-called "grudge" match. The two enemies. Following the game, the usual comments were made on Twitter reminding people of "Two Wars and One World Cup".

Let's take a step back here. Aforementioned World Cup victory was over 40 years ago. Germany have won the World Cup twice since then (three times in total). They have been runners-up four times in total. I think maybe that trumps one win, and er... no second places. Frankly, crowing about 1966 is an embarrassment in this context (although please don't get me wrong, I am as pleased as anyone that England won the World Cup at least once, even if sadly it hasn't been in my lifetime). However, there's nothing wrong with a bit of friendly sporting rivalry - local teams do it to each other all the time. This isn't my main bone of contention.

What does make me uncomfortable, however, is the references to the Second World War that get trotted out every time the England Germany game takes place. Am I the only one that doesn't consider a war in which millions of people died horrible, gruesome deaths something to really be treated this lightly in association with football? It is, after all - believe it or not - only a game.

I grew up and went to school in Germany, and still have a lot of friends, and even family living there. I like to think I know a little bit more than the average man on the Clapham omnibus about Germany and the Germans. I think the main reaction amongst them to the way the English harp on about the war is a certain sadness. They don't really "get" it. The main reaction from a German is probably incomprehension. It's not because they want to - or can - forget it, however, for them it is not really a joking matter, and I personally feel the same way.

Finally, I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of Germans consider the fact that Hitler was defeated as a good thing. Rubbing in their faces the fact that "they lost" is therefore not actually that effective as taunts go...

Am I being overly sensitive on this subject? Should I just lighten up a bit, as it's no more than a harmless bit of fun?

Or is it time for us to just get over it?

P.S. - I even know some Germans who quite like Fawlty Towers - any excuse to add this one - totally excruciating.


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