The Seven Year Hitch

photobThat’s right, seven years since Sarah and I got married at Newland Hall in Essex at 12.30pm.

It all started with the proposal in Central Park in New York on New Years Day, I did it in view of Essex House as it seemed quite fitting, it would be easy to pinpoint the ’roundabout’ spot in future and also meant I wouldn’t be proposing outside where John Lennon go shot dead! All very important things to remember.

The date hadn’t always been 23/3/08 and in fact this was third time lucky for organising it as our  first venue burnt down. Sarah told me over the phone at work when I exclaimed in a sonic boomed  “you have got to be shitting me!”

She wasn’t shitting me at all, still, that’s what wedding insurance is for and that had to be the best £40 ever spent and I believe we are still used as an example at my mum’ work as she works in insurance.

photo3The second date was pushed back when my mum became seriously ill (she’s fine now thanks) , which leaves us with our eventual date, Easter Sunday and it snowed…so you could say it was a nice day for a white wedding.

photo2It was a day full of fun, laughter and lots of fond memories. Alas, we look at those pictures and already there are those who are no longer with us but they will forever be a part of our memories of that special day.

We have a lovely montage of images from that day in a frame above our fireplace in the living room and it is something we still look at every day and so does Isabelle.


I think she’s mostly perplexed that she isn’t in the pictures and can’t quite believe that we hadn’t invited her along as everyone else seems to be there. Iz often names people in the pictures.

Iz invited herself along on Christmas Eve the following year, well that was when she announced that she’d be crashing at our place the next August.

photo5And when she did arrive five days early – it just so happened to be on the anniversary of the day when Sarah and I first met (I did some Bagpuss impressions that time but left them out of the delivery room).

Isabelle was also born straight after Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol, which also just so happened to be our wedding song. Spooky!

photohBack at the wedding we took everyone by surprise as we’d been having dance lesson in secret and did not tell a soul,  so when it came to our first dance we at least had a couple of nifty moves between us. It was a rhumba and after that we could finally relax and have our first proper drinks and let our hair down, which including Sarah and maid of honour, Rachael, wallrolling (don’t ask) to Eye of The Tiger an requesting and astonishingly getting Atmosphere by Russ Abbott (don’t ask again).

Talking of music we had a harpist for the pre-ceremony and ceremony itself with Sarah coming down the aisle to ‘She’. I didn’t turn round, having forgot the protocol, which Sarah reminds me on a frequent basis.

photo1In retrospect perhaps I should have requested Don’t Turn Around by Aswad in the evening?

We also chose the songs that got played by our harpist whilst we waited, so it was nice to hear our personally selected hits that ranged from Nobody Does It Better (got to have a bit of Bond) and Everything I Do I Do It For You (got to have a bit of Robin Hood/Bryan) and it was like playing a giant version of name that tune for the guests. It all sounded very lovely and wa the perfect soundtrack to the perfect day.

photofIn my speech I quoted the immoral lines of one Ferris Bueller saying that “life moves pretty fast and if you don’t stop and take a look it can pass you by.”

That’s what I was doing in that moment, taking in my beautiful wife, my mum and dad, Sarah’s mum and dad, our families and friends who had travelled from all over the UK – as far a Cornwall, Nottinghamshire and South Wales – to be there to celebrate with us. In retrospect it was like that moment was passing by in bullet time.

And life does seem to have moved by pretty fast (and furious and full of fun) in those passing years.

Happy anniversary Sarah x


P-Iz-za Express for Mother’s Day

IMG_2492Okay, so we weren’t able to get into Pizza Express until 6pm but that only made it all the more exciting for Iz (and us) as it would be dark when we arrived so would feel like we were going out out rather than popping in during the day.

It took us a while longer to get there though as Iz insisted we weren’t able to stand on any cracks in the pavement…and then she was tired of walking so I ended up carrying her.

Still, we made it on time  and settled down for a pizza (or pasta) the Mother’s Day action.

Pizza Express has always been great with us right from Iz being in her pushchair and it’s a real child-friendly restaurant.

Sarah enjoyed her free glass of prosecco before moving onto a bottle of rosé, with Iz savouring the bubbles of a different kind in her rare Coke.

IMG_2494Iz plumped for some dough balls as starter, whilst Sarah and I had a deliciously stringy cheesed Melanzanine (or perhaps as better described in the menu as a mini al forno dish of layered aubergine, passata, mozzarella, garlic, basil and Gran Moravia cheese

That was followed by a small  margherita for Iz and two Romana pizzas that practically enveloped our entire table which came complete with own pizza cutter so we could slice away merrily of our own accord.

Between courses Iz was merrily colouring away in a Sofia The First colouring book we’d brought along and she even found time for some role play with one of the serviettes – to be fair she had been watching Ghostbusters earlier that day.

IMG_2499Iz loved her dessert, an ice-cream sundae but easily took her greatest pleasure from drinking her bambinoccino, even scooping out the bottom of her cup with a spoon to ensure she got…each…and…every…mouthful.

It spluttered a little at the end with them running out of the honeycomb cheesecake we were after – perhaps if they weren’t quite so long between clearing our plates between courses we might have been in with a fighting chance – and then when we received substitute cheesecakes from the list they were served in still warm dishes – the blob of ice-cream was like it was filmed melting in time lapse.

IMG_2500Hardest hit of all though was Iz who was really looking forward to giving Sarah her free Mother’s Day card – we’d asked for it earlier to no avail.

Plucky Iz chirped up and asked again before we left – it was obviously important to her – but they had run out, even though she got everything else in her pack.

Iz may have made Sarah a card at school, written and drawn in one we’d got her but she was really looking forward to completing the trilogy and writing another card for our special evening out.

Sure the food had been nice but that final flurry of faux pas – I know they’d been busy all day but i’d expect the same choice and quality of service…and Mother’s Day card availability – made pizza express seem a bit sloppy (giuseppe).

Iz was still lamenting her missing card on her way to school the next morning. More d’oh! Balls than dough balls.

Iz is ‘the hooded Newman’ on World Book Day

IMG_2486Every day is pretty much World Book Day in our house as we all love a good book, especially Isabelle.

Iz was excited to learn that at school they were able to go dressed up as their favourite character from a book, off her own back (with absolutely no direction from me) she chose Robin Hood.

Heralding from not just Nottinghamshire, but just outside Sherwood Forest*, and having once worked at The World of Robin Hood tourist attraction and starred as the hooded man himself in my final project film at uni I was more than a little pleased.

She has a sword but we’ve wisely kept that at home and staff at school applauded her for  not dressing up as a princess as she rocked up to breakfast club where she joined Captain America, Luke Skywalker, Tigger, a Zombie Ballerina (?) and Paddington…not sure he was eating marmalade sandwiches though.

Iz likes her Disney’s Robin hood film, and she’s shown her affinity for the outlaw from the very beginning, from aping his actions to that all important first visit to Sherwood Forest.

Robin Hood is back!
Robin Hood is back!

She had no chance really to be fair, but with that that love of Robin Hood proudly passed down (I blame my mum) perhaps I’ll have to pen a sequel to my own film, perhaps this time something like Robin Hood’s Daughter?

She’d be joining that great pantheon of Robin Hoods from Errol Flynn to Kevin Costner, Sean Connery to Michael Praed and er Keith Chegwin. Find out more about past screen Robin Hoods in my article ‘Hood do you think you are?’.

Either way she’ll always be our Princess of Thieves.

*On holiday my dad always said that we lived in Sherwood Forest which always made it sound like we lived in the actual trees or something!


photoIz has been enjoying playing The Voice app, I say playing, she basically likes pressing it all the time, even before they sing a single note.

She’s like the anti-Will.I.Am, rather than waiting until the last possible moment she is in there as fast as she can.

Unsurprisingly her team filled up very quickly, only time will tell if there is method in her maddening fastest finger first strategy.

I guess she is just seeing the positive in everyone, one person she appears to see the positive in is Ricky Wilson, I think she and Sarah would press for him every time if they could.

Iz is as likely to turn for liking their clothes as she is for their singing ability, for example this evening she merrily pressed her turn button after liking a male contestants earrings.

If Iz turn, turn, turned anymore she’d be a member of The Byrds. No doubt Tom Jones has met them as well!

The Amazing Spider-Dog

download (1)So, Spidey is getting a(nother) reboot and is crossing over into the Marvel universe with Captain America and Iron Man in Civil War.

That certainly gets the spider-sense tingling and it also looks like it’s goodnight Andrew Garfield. So who next?

Well Garfield may have played Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel, but this time it could be less of a cat-namesake (tenuous lasagna loving cat reference) and more of a canine one vieing for the role, sort of.

You can forget Spider-Pig, bid farewell Krypto the superdog and utter goodbyes to Underdog (loved the poster though)…there is a new super mutt in town!

Turns out Missy has taken a liking to my Spider-Man dressing gown (alas it comes minus web slingers), so I guess if she’s Spider-Dog then her alter ego must be Peter Barker?

img_1608Not sure there is much need for a superhero dog that can sleep all day (she’s like a cat dog so perhaps she is more mutant superhero) and sense cheese being opened miles away though!

Like Superman she has her Achilles heel in the form of a bark button – touch a certain part of her back and watch her go – and chocolate. She once searched and destroyed two regular Lindt chocolate bunnies (they were only identifiable  from their remaining bells) which saw her turn the shade of the Green Goblin.

photoStill, she’ll always be a superdog to Isabelle, especially with Iz in her head essentially being Penny and Missy as Bolt,  from the film of the same name.

You can hear her now asking Missy to Bolt bark (back to that bark button again) or giving her the command to zoom zoom when she is on her scooter. But most of all, just like Penny and Bolt, they are best of friends and always have been.


The Eager Sanction

Isabelle has always had something of a glint in her eye, today she has something of a Clint in her eye, echoing Eastwood’s mountain climbing role in 70s thriller The Eiger Sanction.

photo (1)It was the first time she had wanted to ‘bring on the wall’  which she took to scaling with no bother at all at The Fun Factory.

She was like Fred Ward in Remo: Unarmed and Dangerous when he scales the scaffold-laden Statue of Liberty with the speed she made her ascent, next week she’ll be trying the whole running on water trick.

Although I don’t think she does too bad a Nicholas Hammond era Spider-Man impression either.

photo - Copy spider-man-672x372It’s all a far cry from when my and my brother were little and took a whole morning to ‘climb’ the stairs, complete with packed lunch, numerous slips for dramatic tension and the odd avalanche of our cuddly toys (big dog and donkey were so big they if they hit you right they’d sweep you to the bottom of the stairs aka certain death). Think Touching the Void with toys.

Perhaps Iz and I will spend an evening traversing our stairs one day after school, we’ll probably have mountain goat Missy along for the ride as well.

Booked to the Future

2015, okay so the self-lacing trainers aren’t with us yet, nor is Jaws 19 or those shocking pink hoverboards, but this year doesn’t just mark the year that Back to the Future Part 2 ‘happens’ it also marks the 30th anniversary of the original. Talk about heavy!

bttf_einstein_019It doesn’t seem five minutes, never mind five years since we were celebrating 25 years of the original Robert Zemeckis classic, yet here we are. What was great then was that I was able to complete my original quad cinema movie poster collection with the re-release poster joining the original release Parts 2 and 3 posters which, like the films themselves, neatly riffed on the iconic original.

The 25th anniversary also saw the film head back into cinemas for a limited time, all cleaned up and looking amazing on the big screen, I’d missed it during its original run and caught it for the first time when it premiered on TV at Christmas and from the wall of ticking clocks was hooked.

marty-mcfly-johnny-b-goodeSeeing it on the big screen after so many years of it on the small screen was a complete revelation and you really haven’t seen films like Back to the Future until you’ve seen them on the big screen, read my original 25th anniversary Back to the Future review here, but for the 30th anniversary we are going back…back to an even bigger experience.

This time we are heading to the Royal Albert Hall for a screening with a live orchestra playing the fantastically rousing Alan Silvestri score as the film unfolds, merging performance and cinema, and for me, delivering a far more vivid experience than the likes of the secret cinema offerings last year.

The Royal Albert Hall experience is part of a wider cinematic music bill, which also sees the venue play host to live performances and screenings of The Godfather, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Titanic, the latter conducted by composer James Horner.

20130306-005558It will be our first time to the Royal Albert Hall, which will be amazing in itself but the real treat will be when on that screen we see the vastness of space give way to the rotating Universal globe as Steven Spielberg presents a Robert Zemeckis film…and the ticking clocks begin as we await the conductor’s  baton to be raised.


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