Something from the weekend…. Time Banking, Singin’ in the Rain and welcoming a new arrival

Well that was an eventful weekend! Whilst we knew we had a bit going on, it turned out much busier than we’d planned, but all the more fun for it!

On Friday evening we went for a somewhat impromptu meal out…. some old friends of Adam’s family  had come over from Seattle and so a big bunch of us met up for a curry and catch up. It was great to meet such lovely people and to natter the evening away over a yummy meal! It was home fairly early though as I had to be up quite early for work on Saturday….

I’ve been working with North Herts Centre for Voluntary Service for a couple of months now, helping out with their events programme. On Saturday we launched the new Stevenage Time Bank at an event to introduce the concept to the local community. Time Banking is a great way to volunteer….it’s free to join and you can give as much time as you like, and totally flexibly, then you get an hour back to spend how you like for every hour you give! It’s a fantastic way to build communities, and has been working really well in North Herts for a while now….people might give an hour a week walking someone’s dog, then spend their saved up hours on getting help fixing up their garden for example. The event had a great turn out, including the Mayor of Stevenage who was very positive about the project. We signed up a good few new members and got lots of people thinking about how they can get involved.

At the Stevenage Time Bank Launch

Shortly after my return home from the event I had a call from the local Greyhound Rescue who we’d recently fostered for…. as you may remember we took on a gorgeous pup called Cooper as a foster hound, but then I got so upset after we found him a ‘forever home’ that we decided we’d just have to adopt rather than foster! We’ve been looking for the perfect pooch since, and were due to meet a couple of girl greyhounds on Sunday morning, but when our homing officer (Cheryl) called on Saturday she dropped a bit of a bombshell! It turns out that Cooper’s new home hadn’t worked out, so he was coming back to the Rescue and Cheryl wanted to give us first refusal to either foster him again or adopt him!

Apparently he’d been a bit too playful with his new home’s existing greyhound, and wasn’t reading her signals to back off, so she would snap at him, which was worrying his new owners. So, we had a tricky decision to make quite fast, whether to take Cooper back and give him all the training he needs to be able to socialise better, or go ahead and meet the girls on Sunday morning. I was convinced it was fate….that timing-wise he had just become available again as we were looking to adopt our forever hound….so we decided to have Cooper back (on a foster basis to begin with and see how he gets on, then hopefuly adopt him) and I began to get excited about his arrival!

We made our way into London on Saturday evening, as we’d booked tickets to the screening of Singin’ in the Rain at the Royal Albert Hall as a birthday gift for Adam’s Mum. Adam had found and booked a meal at a little Moroccan restaurant near the Hall at South Kensington, so we made our way there first and were delighted to find the wonderfully quaint Cous Cous Darna. We were served the most delicious meal, with excellent service and in wonderful surroundings…. Adam and I often feel short-changed when ordering vegetarian meals, but our Vegetarian Tagine and Vegetable Cous Cous were amazing, as was the Moroccan wine we had along side, and the Moroccan mint and orange blossom tea we had in lieu of pudding (too stuffed!).

Zinc table top at Cous Cous Darna

Amazing Vegetable Tagine at Cous Cous Darna

After the meal, we took the walk along to the Royal Albert Hall…I never fail to be impressed by the stunning building as we approach! The performance was actually a 60th Anniversary screening of the newly re-mastered film ‘Singin’ in the Rain‘, accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by Neil Thomson. The score has been painstakingly pieced back together by John Wilson, who was commissioned by MGM to reconstruct the lost orchestrations of all their major musicals including High Society, Singin’ in the Rain, The Band Wagon and An American in Paris.

The ever-impressive Royal Albert Hall

The result was just phenomenal, as Wilson had completely brought back to life the film’s iconic soundtrack, which was played live against the re-mastered film on the big screen with the original vocals and dialog intact.The evening was introduced by Patricia Ward Kelly, wife of the film’s star Gene Kelly….we were all laughing and also brought to tears by her lovely introduction, as she regaled us with amusing stories from the film-making, quashed rumors, and told us how much she wished Gene was there to see what we were about to experience. I sobbed in fact through most of the film….it was just magical to hear the score performed live alongside the film. The event was a special two-night only anniversary celebration, but I’d very much recommend your seeing it if it’s ever done again.

The big screen!

On Sunday morning we had what was perhaps our last lie in! We heard in the morning that Cheryl was collecting Cooper at lunch time, so he would be with us by the early afternoon! I began beavering away to get the house ready for him…hiding cleaning products and plumping up the dog beds! Then at about 2pm he arrived!

Arthur waiting for Cooper’s return!

Cheryl says that he clearly remembered the house, as she pretended to walk past but he pushed his way through the gate, and his tail wagged madly as he came up to the front door! He quickly settled back in, and nestled into his bed (his favourite place, second only to the sofa!). I took him into the garden for a bit, but he was most happy when we all snuggled up on the sofa, where I read one of Cesar Milan’s books about puppy training.

It was a bit of a mission to get him outside into the snowy cold for his afternoon walk, but he was very well behaved whilst out and did us proud as we met other dogs out walking. Once home, he got a visit from his Grandma Liz (!), Adam’s Mum, and she cooked dinner for us before having a nice long cuddle with him back on the sofa. Cooper was sorry to see her go back home to her own dogs Newton and Piper, but he’ll get to meet them again soon anyway.

Contented hound

Adam and I spent the rest of the evening slobbing on the sofa, with a very content hound curled up next to us! We started to watch The 10th Kingdom, which I’m yet to really buy into….Adam says I have to give it time, but at the minute I’m struggling!

Bed time was pretty successful, and Cooper soon remembered our routine and settled down nicely on his bed without trespassing on our own bed! And so I went to sleep very content indeed after a fun-packed weekend, and with our new family member at home too!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend too!

Ems x

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