Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


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Liveblogging the ECHO Awards

11.04pm: Wladimir Klitschko here to give a lifetime achievement award to the Scorpions for selling 75 million records, 60 albums, 300 songs, and being the most successful German rock band ever. The Scorpion medley is brilliant! Some real rock at last, and a great way to end the evening.

10.53pm: At last, here’s Depeche Mode, with their new single “Wrong”. Nice twangy keyboards, and clashing chords. Great song, great performance, worth staying up for.

10.48pm: Best Female Artist Rock/Pop National … oh, sorry I must have dropped off. Stephanie Heinzmann.

10.44pm: Razorlight sings and your correspondent is still not moved. (Did I mention that Barbara Schoenemeyer is now wearing her sixth outfit? Go Barbara! Rock those wardrobe changes.)

10.36pm: Best Artist Rock/Pop National … Would the rocker in the house please stand up? And it’s Udo Lindenberg, this time without the astronaut suit, but wearing some fab tracky bots.

10.27pm: 2008 was the year of female pop stars, apparently. Amy, Amy, Duffy, Leona, Katy. Here’s lovely little Katy now with ANOTHER FREAKIN’ BALLAD. Would someone rock for me please?! Is it so much to ask?

10.17pm: German star Helene Fischer sings while wearing a very large mermaid. I am hating the song. Can I go to bed now? Oh no, I can’t she’s getting an award, for … Best Deutsche Schlager and Best German Newcomer. Very sincere and fluent speech.

10.12pm: 2009 Critic’s Prize goes to Peter Fox. Bless, he’s brought his beer with him.

10.03pm: Best International Newcomer is … Amy MacDonald! And she’s wearing wet-look leggings, and trying to speak German which is too cute with her Scottish accent. And now she’s singing “This is the Life”, which is, frankly, the best song of the evening so far. Worth staying awake for.

9.55pm: 2008 was the year of the comeback: Grace Jones, Britney Spears, AC/DC, Metallica and German pop icon Udo Lindenberg. Here’s the lovely Udo now wearing an astronaut suit that my son would give his Weetabix for. Full marks to the costume designer. I especially like the way the helmet keeps tipping forward so that poor old Udo can’t look out. Ooh! Space chicks! Got to have a bit of tin foil. This song is called Woddy Woddy Wodka. I’m not joking. It’s so awful, it’s good, and the audience LOVE it.

9.52pm: Video clip to Kid Rock wearing fun fur and receiving an award for … Best Song of the Year.

9.44pm: Silbermond! Some real rocking, at last. This should keep me awake. Err, no, somewhat underwhelming song.

9.38pm: Some girls in dirndls give awards for the best folk music. Big, big category here in Germany, of little interest to the rest of the world. And the winner is … the Kastelruther Spatzen!!! Nearly fell off my seat there. Did you notice?

9.31pm: Surprisingly cool song from Alex Swings Oscar Sings – Germany’s entrant in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

9.25pm: Mourning my lost copy. It was witty, I tell you. Now the award for Hip Hop Urban. It’s gone to Peter Fox, newcomer from Berlin whose album Stadtaffe has gone platinum in Germany.

9.15pm: Some slick boys in suits up to present an award for the Most Successful Jazz something something something National. And the winner is … Til Brönner, who is apparently Germany’s most well-known jazz export. Hmm. Who’da thunk it? Very smooth acceptance speech. Nice-looking fella.

ACHTUNG! WordPress just swallowed an hour’s worth of insightful commentary. I may have lost the will to live. Or I’ll just crack the tequila I was saving for Depeche Mode.

8.15pm: Barbara Schoeneberger wearing an interestingly ruched purple dress that recalls the Eighties. Oliver Pocher has my heart, and not just because of his name. So cute, and funny too. U2 performing a song from their new album “Line on the Horizon”. Their first performance in Germany for ten years. The usual big visuals and Bono, sorry to say it, gurning.

8.10pm: News very boring. Salami sticks finished.

7.55pm: Lionel Richie wearing a glittery coat on the red carpet. Paul Potts and Mrs Potts looking puzzled. Depeche Mode looking cold. It’s chilly in Berlin tonight.

7pm: Tonight I’m covering the ECHO Awards – Germany’s answer to the Grammys and the Brits – for Buzzine from the comfort of my own sofa. I thought I’d live blog it for my entertainment and for the three of you who might just be with me. If you are in Germany, feel free to watch it on Die Erste and chime in. First off, some background reading. See the big names performing tonight: U2, Depeche Mode, Razorlight, Amy MacDonald, Katy Perry, Die Toten Hosen, Silbermond. Up for awards are the likes of Coldplay, Amy Winehouse, Duffy, REM, Rosenstolz and Jack Johnson (quiver!). Then, to set the scene: Your correspondent eats last night’s leftovers and some salad at a wonderful local establishment called The Dining-Room (original, non?). She then proceeds, paparazzi snapping, to the sofa. Tonight she is wearing pants in a delicate grey melange, paired with a black sweater and accessorized with a giant pink blanket and Falke hiking socks, cleverly marked “R” and “L” just in case she drinks too much mineral water and forgets. Now that she is following a hardcore low-carb regime in order to preserve her figure, your correspondent will be snacking on salami sticks, macadamia nuts and olives. Later on, she may break loose and have a chai. You never know. Hold onto your seats, readers! This could get very exciting.


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Writing From Home

I love being a Hollywood correspondent! Here’s one I wrote yesterday, while cooking sausages for my kids’ lunch.

Meanwhile, it dawned on me that I have been working on my novel for a year now. It all started when I took myself on an artist’s date to Heidelberg last January, sat in a cafe and wrote the first three pages. Now I have 80,000 words and am still going strong. I am not sure how much more I am going to write in this first draft, but I sense the end is nigh – a raft of crises are happening to my protagonists and the resolution (or not) is pending.

For those of you writers who have moved onto your second drafts, do you have any tips? Do you take a break from the manuscript and think it over, or do you just dive right in? Do you work through it according to categories, or do you go chapter-by-chapter?

And do you have any means to treat the slight sick high-wire feeling of anticipation as you approach the end, or will lots of whisky do it?


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Tales From The Web

Number Five, February 2009

The Things to Make You Smile, But In An Ironic Way, Edition

I don’t know about you, but for me January has been long, dark and slightly depressing. There have been protracted bouts of cancelling the car, I have read 11 eleven books (always a sign), my kids keep coming home from school with infectious illnesses which they pass on to other members of the family and a bad thing happened to some people I love. Being Ms Glass Half-Full, I have to admit there have been good things – I’ve got a new client, and a new writing gig which I can soon tell you about, a cheque which was lost in the post was kindly re-issued, Barack Obama was inaugurated and we’ve re-jigged things in the family routine to allow me more writing time. But somehow, the gloom has prevailed.

Now that it is a new month, and we had a great day yesterday celebrating a ninth birthday at the ice-rink, I am ready for perky. I’m ready for sunny. I’m ready to be amused. It is my self-appointed duty today to introduce you to some funny stuff.

I do love the Germans, and I also love laughing at them. Since some of my dear German friends read my blog, I have to avoid being too brutal. But this guy pulls no punches – he’s got the Germans down. His blog is called Ich werde ein Berliner, and is written in the same style as the now-famous Stuff White People Like: each post is part of a catalogue explaining the Germans. I especially like these on Christmas, cafes and Irony.

I have a blog crush on the Crabmommy. I am not a huge fan of Mommyblogs generally, but Ms Crabster has subverted the genre and produced something cutting, funny and dare I say it, ironic. Her manifesto is thus:

On this website I will never:
*speak of the enchanting constant joy and transformative wonderment of motherhood
*dispense little nuggets about what my child has taught me
*tell any mom to stop and smell the diapers “because it all goes by in the blink of an eye”
*make jokes about bowel movements and baby body fluids (because it’s not my thing and it can be found abundantly elsewhere)
*use the word “miracle”
*count my blessings
*chart my child’s developmental milestones
*seem to be in a good or grateful mood
*be mean about my friends or family because they’ll get me back

If you trawl through her archives, you can watch her craft toys from tampons, mock Gwyneth Paltrow and post embarrassing photographs of herself during her South African schooldays. But the ultimate post, and the one which converted me to a die-hard fan, is this one which starts: “Barack Obama is a great man, but frankly I voted for him because he is hot.” Go and read it, and see her justification for voting with your eyes. (If you are moved to comment, tell her I sent you and maybe, just maybe she’ll come and visit me so that we can share our Barack Obama crush and our weird South African past.)

Laura, aka Ms Honey Pie Horse, is consistently funny about many things: living in Germany, being married to a German and explaining things – including God and sex – to your children. For me her post on spa terrorism is a tour de force.

PaddyK, an Irishman living in Sweden, is the ultimate Internet snarkster, and has been oft-quoted in TFTW. Paddy has recently started an expat blog carnival, in which I have taken part, and through which I found Po, the spindrifting South African sea monkey. Po has drifted as far as England, where she likes, as is tradition in that country, to take the mickey. All her posts are funny, but see these two: Smallish Britten and Smallish Britten – unleashed. Watch out for the emperor in his new clothes, and then come back and agree with me on the sheer brilliance. Po, you deserve plaudits.

Ms Waffle, formerly of Belgium but now back in Ireland, mines a rich seam of humour, particularly with regard to raising three small children and working fulltime. I have long been, and still remain, a fan.

I don’t know if any of you have noticed, but the sub-theme of this Smiling/Ironically edition is Barack Obama. I may have mentioned that I am more than slightly enamoured of the Prez. A couple of nights I ago, I dreamt that I met him at a party and was able to advise him on his South African policy. He was deeply grateful. I have had discussions with friends as to the source of my crush and we agree that Barack is of a similar type to my husband: tall, skinny and intellectual, but with a twinkle in his eye. However, my friend Diane woke up to find that her own husband had actually turned into Obama. See what happens here.

The last post is nothing about humour, but it is the best blog post I have read this year – and that is saying a LAWT, since me, I go for quality – and I need to share it with you. Ian is a Canadian expat living in Germany and this year, when the canals froze in Holland, he drove 500 kms to go skating on the ice. 10 Things I Learned About Skating in Holland embodies everything that is good about blogging: great writing, a glimpse into a world unknown and superb visuals. Ian, I wish that National Geographic would pick up your post, publish it and pay you wads of cash. You deserve it.

On that note, I leave you, hopefully amused, uplifted and, most essentially,  fully equipped with the essential skill of how to order coffee in Germany and drink it in the most ironic fashion. Latte machiato, God forbid!

Yours sincerely

Little Ms Sunshine


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Tales from The Web: The Endorphin Edition

It’s been a long time since my last edition of Tales from The Web. Things have got in the way, like writing a novel and developing a gym habit. I have discovered that an endorphin high from 45 minutes on the cross-trainer lasts a whole lot longer than the endorphin high from eating a 100 gram bar of Milka. Gym is my new drug of choice, and like any addict I get really crabby when I don’t get my fix. This week I’ve sick kids and have only been able to go twice, which has made me bad-tempered and irritable. My family have been practically forcing chocolate on me. “Eat this, Mummy! Eat this and smile again!”

As a form of virtual chocolate, I offer you the March edition of Tales from the Web. Consider it endorphins packaged especially for you, as feel-good as spring lambs gambolling in acid-green fields. And if that doesn’t constitute happiness for you, then imagine you’ve just come off the treadmill, all wobbly-legged and trembly, and you’re floating out of the gym on a cloud of hormone. Feels good, doesn’t it?

Let’s start with eye candy. I bookmarked this in December, but these cakes could be Easter cakes too. The blogger African Vanielje is a chef, baker extraordinaire, photographer and writer. Take a look at her Truly Remarkable Once a Year Cakes and wish you were a friend of hers with a birthday just around the corner.

I love the Wallace Stevens quote BlogLily has as her blog tag: “It must give pleasure”. On days when I’ve felt like posting something gloomy, self-reflective and sad, I remember BlogLily’s mantra. I do think it is a good one. I have chosen a classic BL post for your delectation here. It comes from her visit to London earlier this year, where she soaked up a lot of theatre. Apparently in London in January, “it was pouring plays about sex”. Have fun reading Is Eros All?

Now we all know that sex can lead to babies, and babies, though delicious, bring a host of unexpected complications with them. Next up is a post written in response to a desperate plea. I saved it because I was taken with the thoughtfulness and kindness that went into shaping the response, and because I was once that parent, with a co-sleeping, breast-feeding baby who didn’t want to sleep unless using me as a dummy. I know the desperation that went into that original email, and I would have welcomed the same kind of non-judgmental kindness that Bluemilk exhibits here in trying to find a solution. I include this in the March Tales from The Web: The Endorphin Edition because I want to show that the blogosphere can be a good place, not just a snarkfest.

The lovely Anna is trying to work herself out of a job. Her three boys are growing up, and her resolution for this year is to mother them less so that they can learn the life-skills they will need when they leave home. I am a big fan of her blog The End of Motherhood where she is documenting this process with her great sense of humour. The post I’m linking to today is not about parenting teenagers, but is a tip for raising smaller kids. It’s what she calls “a secret sauce for parenting young children” and you can read about it here. Fifteen minutes a day to stop tantrums and reconnect with your child. That’s feel-good isn’t it?

I can always rely on Emily to make me laugh. In this post she talks about how, although she loves writing, she goes through the five stages of grief when she has write a half-page introduction to her company’s maths catalogue. As a procrastinator, I can relate. Read it, then go forth and complete all your admin. You’ll be so glad you did.

Ian is funny. But that’s no surprise since he’s Emily’s brother. Check out his Geekfield’s Guide to English Literature, a hand-drawn compendium of English literature from Beowulf to Dan Brown. Who thought graphic text books could be so much fun?

Helen was considering giving up writing, but then she needed the loo. Read how The Most Inspirational Toilet in Sydney gave her her writing mojo back. Could I have one in Heidelberg please?

For all-around chickeny cuteness, go and check out Mandarine’s new tenants, the Orpingtons. We had bantams as children, and they caused us no end of happiness. Unfortunately, they didn’t last long, because the suburbs of Pietermaritzburg were a cut-throat place even then, and they were taken out by a hardened gang of vervet monkeys. However, that’s not going to happen to Mandarine’s chickens because (a) they live in France, and (b) they have a lovely house. Oh, and if you read French, which I can if I try really, really hard, you can read Mandarine’s new blog where he details his attempt to farm a garden big enough to feed his whole family. (Which means he one day may have to sacrifice an Orpington, but we’re not thinking about that yet.)

That’s the Endorphin Edition for now. If I don’t get to the gym soon, I’m going to have to eat one of these:


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Tales from The Web

There’s a frenzy of writing on the Web this month. The GloBlos are posting daily (a trial for me, I have to admit, but I’m grittily hanging in there by my teeth) and the NaNos are writing 1,667 words of their novel a day, and some crazies are doing both. There are 6,068 people doing GloBlo at last count and over 60,000 writing novels. One of the best things about GloBlo is making new friends (hi, Alida!). Another great thing, as Reed and Aphra pointed out, is hitting that Randomizer button and indulging in a lovely long blog surf. Unfortunately, some blogs are awful. But the Web is democratic, so if you come across something that sends your apostrophe alert button zinging, rings your bad grammar bells, plays music so loudly that you spill your coffee, or muses about things you don’t feel like musing about like belly button lint (Dooce, j’accuse) or whippets or the face of God seen in a kiwi, you can move right on.

In the interests of quality and good writing, here are some great posts that I have tripped over during my Webby peregrinations this month.

A sad and beautiful tale of art, love and rightful belongings from the irresistable Bindi at ePossums. Don’t read it without immediate access to a hankie.

No Impact Man tells astonished parents ways in which he entertains his small daughter without television and DVD. Read it and wonder at his patience, dedication and energy. I know this is the way it should be and I admire him.

A story from the Noble Savage about how her Noble Husband has blossomed into fatherhood. It’s also about love and the surprise of just when you think you know everything about someone, they show you that you don’t.

One German tradition we enjoy is the St Martin Lantern Festival, where kids make their own lanterns and then wander around town in the dark singing lantern songs. This time we repaired back to kindergarten for more singing, a small show (Daisy had a “very important” role as a tree) and some cake and Gluehwein. In her delightful post Halloween Lantern Walk, Anthromama describes how the Waldorf/Steiner tradition is far closer to the German style of celebrating St Martin than it is to Halloween itself.

Vanielje Kitchen celebrates mothers, grandmothers and time spent in the kitchen with them in her lovely post Apples and Thyme. I always love reading about food, but in this post I particularly relate to the weird admixture of African and European that has informed who she has become.

Something I’ve come to love in Germany is seasonal eating (though it took a while to cut the emotional and umbilical connection to British supermarkets where you can get anything you want, any time of year). In another foodie post, Kit writes nostalgically about Italian food and seasons. She shows that Italian food is not tied as strongly to trends in cuisine as it is to seasons. I dare you not to feel hungry as you read this post.

The very wise Mandarine is solidly blogging his absurd ideas throughout November. Each post is a gem, if you can understand it. Here is an excellent post on establishing a centennal warranty on all buildings. The idea is that no building should be built to last less than 100 years. It’s also a celebration of ancient buildings that have stood for centuries.

Watch Ms Marmite insult a colonel in the US Navy in this hilarious post.

A word from our fashion correspondent Maggie, writing as a Dedicated Follower of Fashion who is up to here with expensive knitwear that doesn’t last. Marc Jacobs, look out, Maggie’s on your case.

I’d like to introduce you to a literary experiment that is open to the masses. I’ve tried my hand at it once or twice. It’s called Your Messages. Writers Lynne Rees and Sarah Salway describe the initial Messages project thus:

When we started the Messages Project in 2003, it was all about our shared passion for writing and the creative process. We devised a simple formula over coffee one day. Using email, we would exchange 300 ‘messages’ of exactly 300 words, with each one returned within a time limit of 72 hours. Links between each message were made with words, themes, character, form, or even mood. The project took eighteen months to complete and the original Messages was published in July 2006.

Now, in November, the literary twosome are posting daily messages on their blog for others to respond to. The best 30 responses will be published in a booklet next year, and the proceeds will go to charity. Go forth and write messages!

Seeing it’s almost the silly season, here’s something fun, courtesy of Dewey: LOLinate your blog. This is what Charlotte’s Web looks like LOLinated. I wuz not prodigy!


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Tales From the Web

Number 2, October 2007

Welcome to Tales From the Web. This is the second edition of my magazine, where I select my favourite posts from the around this lovely Web that interlaces us all. I have no editorial policy except that I select things that amuse and delight me, and I presume that, since we are friends, they will delight you too. If they don’t, then go away and read I Can Has Cheezburger – which I love – or Perez Hilton – who I love too. This is a place to celebrate writing; funny, beautiful, insightful, clever, uplifting writing. No cats in hats or celebrities’ nethers here.

One of the things I’ve learnt since I started blogging is that good bloggers support each other, sometimes by commenting, sometimes by just turning up and sometimes by pointing out what a good job someone has done. I tend to have my favourites, but I’m always looking for new writers who inspire. If you come across a talent, please tell me! If you have a talent, please tell me! I’m chasing the delicious tidbits and I want to snare them in my web.

Of as today, my magazine has a name: Tales from the Web. The name was donated by Helen (of A Was Alarmed fame) and for her trouble she wins a box of Belgian chocolates. Unlike this magazine, the chocolates will not be virtual.

So here’s this month’s round-up, in no particular order of preference. If you like a post, go and tell the author. It’s call blog love and it’s good. Enjoy!

Eve, of The Third Eve, is a writer I’ve recently discovered. I’m fascinated by many of the topics she tackles, but recently she has been posting about the challenge of raising boys in a society that no longer tolerates the unique boy energy and wants to medicate it into oblivion. Here’s a snippet:

I’m no expert on boys but I do know that many boys do not fit in. Some manage their oddness by becoming leaders; others manage it by being kicked out of school; others are medicated into oblivion. I have friends whose brilliant son reacted to stressors in their family life (stressors created and denied by the parents, but obvious to nearly everyone else) by developing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). So many times, bright, sensitive boys develop symptoms in response to the environment–a sort of personal early warning system that functions to tell grownups to slow down. Their symptoms are labeled and ignored in the name of Education. Or Medicine. Or Science.

Read more of Eve’s post here: Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Watcha Gonna Do?

Please read Courtney’s beautiful post on growing more like her mother – When did this happen? – which celebrates her surprise discovery, but questions why families tend to pigeonhole their members.

Amity, who blogs at Noble Savage, is another writer I’m just getting to know. I feel we have something in common – we are both expats, stay-at-home mothers with a fiendish writing habit, and married to British men. Her latest post contains not only complete surprise that, despite having just moved into a new house which she is busy redecorating, she appears to be hosting two parties this weekend, but also a seriously dirty coffee mug. Take a look here. Believe me, it’s worth it.

How is it possible for a ballerina to become an engineer? Lia tells us how, in her post Naivete and Tenaciousness. I know Lia, and it never ceases to fascinate me that she has had these two disparate careers. I believe that she’s training for a third career now, but I’ll let her reveal what it is in her own good time.

Not on Facebook yet? Here are Ian in Hamburg’s tips for trying to persuade/beg/stalk people to become your Facebook friends: How To Get Back in Touch.

Ms Healing Magic Hands went into her labyrinth to do a healing and peace meditation and came out angry. She’s very angry at George Bush, not only because she has a son in service, but because she believes he understands “neither liberty, patriotism, nor humanity”. Read her post here.

I’m a bit of a fangirl when it comes to poet and essayist Kyran Pittman’s blog Notes to Self. Every post is a jewel. She says she strives for quality over quantity, which is a great goal, one which the IntraWeb could adopt to good effect. First, make yourself a cup or tea or coffee, then pick a post (any post) and enter her world. You’ll be so glad you did.

Amy Winehouse might not be going to rehab (no, no, no) but YogaMum and I are. Read her brilliant post Rehab for Busy Moms and see if you wouldn’t want come along.

Befriend a new blogger! My friend K (who I can now officially out as Kerry, seeing she’s done so herself) bravely offered herself up a victim to come on Charlotte’s Very Busy Tour of Berlin. She’s back from Berlin and blogging, about having twins, what it means to be married to the step-parent of one’s own children and a very inspiring photography course. Visit K at Kerry’s Khaos.

Now for the fashion pages of my magazine. Do you have a geek in your life? Or perhaps you are one? My dearly beloved has started a new blog focusing on that oxymoron Geek Chic. Take a look and see what well-dressed geeks are, or should be, wearing today: Dedicated Follower of Fashion.


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My Fantasy Magazine

Imagine I am an editor. I edit an online magazine, and have full responsibility for selecting the content. My job is to scan the web, focusing mainly on blogs, and choose what I consider to be the best writing on a broad variety of topics for publication in my magazine. My focus is often women’s issues and women’s writing, because that is what interests me, but I frequently publish articles by men. The scope of my magazine is wide-ranging, and changes from month to month, according to what I discover and what delights me. I publish witty, acerbic, moving articles and above all I prize excellent writing. My magazine has no editorial policy, no editorial board and no mysterious benefactor who insists on one article per month on Ferraris or fine wines. All decisions are mine and mine alone. I eschew product placement and advertorials (no Mauritian spa visits for me), fundamentalism and intolerance, sexism and racism, anything overly scatalogical or profane (unless it supports the aim of the article).

My magazine is one of the fastest growing sites on the web, with visitors flocking in their daily thousands to read my selection of the month’s best content. I am not Huffington or Dooce, but somewhere in-between – sometimes polemical, sometimes strident, usually funny and always entertaining. If you like to think, you like to be amused, you like to know what the good writers out there are saying, then my magazine is where you come. I save you the hassle of trawling through millions of mediocre blogs to point out, for your reading pleasure, the very best writing the web has to offer.

Welcome to my first edition. One day when my magazine is famous and my mortgage is being paid as I lie in bed, file my nails and eat Belgian chocolates for breakfast, you will be able to say you were one of my first readers. Quite likely you will also be one of my first contributors (see below).

The first edition focuses on quality. I want to show you the best writing I have found on the web in the last few weeks. I want to share with you articles and posts that have me laugh and think, but above all, that have delighted me with their unswerving dedication to beautiful words.

Let me introduce our first piece. It’s written by Emily of Telecommuter Talk, a blogger who is consistently witty and thoughtful. She deserves to be famous (or at least well-read) because her writing is fabulous. Her article is called The Wives of Others, and it celebrates friendship between women, men and their wives.

The next article is by Litlove, one of the most erudite bloggers writing today (and she will still be writing tomorrow). Every post is a jewel, every post is challenging. In the one I have selected from her recent oeuvre, Litlove veers away from literature to delight us with her insights into learning The Tango.

In many ways, I am a modern woman, except in that I loathe my mobile phone. It sits in my bag “for emergencies”, but usually the battery is empty. I loathe the loudness, the rudeness and the global inability to make proper arrangements (“call me when you get here and then I’ll tell you where we are”) that make up the mobile phone culture. I’d like to arrange a Put Down Your Mobile Phone ceremony, where all addicts could return their phones to their local police stations and life could become a little slower and a little more peaceful. (Don’t try to take my broadband away, though.) Here is a provocative piece from Kerryn, of the always-excellent White Thoughts blog, called Who Died to Make Your Mobile Phone?

No edition is complete without a diatribe. A few days ago, the wonderful Wendz was having a very bad day. She took it out on the blogosphere in a post called The Blog Commandments. I have to say I agree with every single one of the rules that have been handed down to us by Wendz, and find myself muttering “Not too many widgets” as I do the kindergarten run.

There needs to be food. Food is essential. My favourite food blogger and fellow South African is Jeanne of Cook sister! Her posts are well-written and well-researched, and her photographs are beautiful. So add an atmosphere of elegance and glamour to this month’s edition, and to make us feel cosmopolitan, here is her review of London restaurant Yauatcha.

Irish-but-living-in-Sweden blogger Paddy_K comments on the oddities of his adoptive country. He writes well, and amusingly, about politics and pop culture. Please enjoy this piece on a new Swedish phenomenon: Gothic Lolitas. Please also note that if I were fifteen now, this is definitely how I would be dressing.

Somewhere in the blogosphere lives the Queen of the Absurd, the ProblemChildBride. She tells a shaggy sheep story like no other. Currently residing in WeirdyBeardsville, USA, the PCB hails from Scotland where, apparently, one knows a thing or two about sheep. I have selected a wonderful post of hers for your delectation. It’s not about sheep, but about bears. Look here and admire as PCB and family Play to the Sitting-Room.

I have just finished reading Vikram Seth’s Two Lives, a poignant memoir of his great-uncle and aunt. As I read it, it made me think of marriage, loyalty and love. In her review of The Post-Birthday World, Diana writes with wonderful clarity about the book, and her experience of reading it. This experience highlights her feelings about her husband and her marriage in unexpected ways. It’s a delightful post.

Another blogger whose writing I love is Courtney of The Public, The Private and Everything In Between. Her prose is lush and evocative, whether she’s writing about organic vegetables, views from the lake or politics. Here she writes the Reasons You May Not Give If Don’t Want Hillary for President.

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I do hope you enjoyed the first edition of the Charlotte’s Web magazine. In conclusion, I would like to introduce a competition: the magazine needs a name – something witty and quirky that encapsulates the catholic and eclectic nature of my new publication. I will send a box of Belgian chocolates to whoever can come up with the best one. Leave your suggestion in the comments. I will contact the winner by email.