Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Wednesday Wind Up; A Good Week for David.

A slightly different wind up today; the big event of my life this week has revolved around this, my handsome and funny eldest son.

On Tuesday he celebrated his 18th birthday. I'm pleased to say he decided to celebrate by wearing his deerstalker to school, then to Anchor Boys where he was happy to be sung to and cake-laden.
And a family meal out.

This is my Mum with him. She wanted to get him cuff-links, or a watch, but which young man nowadays wears cuff-links or watches when they have t shirts and phones? So I said was there any thing else.

She thought for a while and then offered him her fountain pen set, a 1950's gold plated Parker pen. What else would you give an aspiring writer but a really good pen to sign the multi-million pound book deal?

Which reminds me, I must check my lottery ticket tonight. It was a roll-over, so I treated myself to a lucky dip.

 The Gang. David, Peter, Sarah and James. My four best loved people in the entire world. Possibly the only people I would willingly share Crispy Duck in Pancakes with.

 The extra person is Michael. He's the boys eldest male cousin and their hero since they were born.

 And tonight the Master Baker has been at work, with a bundt tin and a jar of chocolate frosting. She sent her father out for extra Skittles and Smarties. Well worth it, though. The cake has not lasted past one night.

 Happy Birthday, Handsome. You don't half look like your Grandad. (and by all accounts am beginning to be a lot more like him in behaviour; he's getting cheeky!)

So, no real round up. I'm reading Return of The Native now (just downloaded it) and still working on a blue blanket. Soon I'll be able to take photos in the evening.  Still watching Game of Thrones, and doing very little else if I can help it. And, for a little light relief, this is the list of reasons for admission to a mental asylum in mid-19th Century USA. My friend posted it for me on Facebook. Wonder which criterion she thinks I'd count under?

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Wednesday Wind Up...

On time for once!

What am I reading this week?
Claire Tomalin's biography of Hardy. In small bits.

And to go with that, The Hand of Ethelberta. It's a lesser-known Hardy, probably because it's not his rural idyll style, but a comedy of manners about a young girl who, having been a governess and married to the son of the house before being widowed and taken care of by her Mother in Law, finds herself without an obvious means of support and has to live with her natural family in a London town house, with her family acting as her servants while she tells stories and decides which titled character she might marry. I am enjoying it; there are some humorous moments.

What have I watched this week?
Game of Thrones series 1. We only watch this when Mr K is out of the house, because the blood and guts don't suit him (and the sex is very in your face as well. I don't want to go giving him ideas if I can help it). Tonight he's out at a meeting, so we may well start series 2.

The Man in the High Castle. On Amazon Prime. A very well-made series in which the USA has been split between Japan and the Nazi state. I'm watching that alone, so only when I clean the kitchen or sit on my bed alone. I need to introduce this to Mr Kneale. He'd really enjoy this, the alternative history novel is one of his favourite genres.

Amelie. It was my comfort watching on Sunday as I lay and felt dismal. I am much better now, but I think   I should watch this more often any way.

Where have I been this week?
Monday last I went to the WI fun quiz. I went last year and had tremendous fun, winning the Rainford heat with the WowPower team and then waiting a few weeks to discover we had won the NWF (North West Federation) fun  quiz overall.

We were defending champions last week and we won again. Added to my Chase win, it's a real confidence boost. I'm hoping that the WI magazine, WI Life, will feature me either next month or the month after. Exciting! It would be my first experience of being in a magazine as more than a letter on the letter page!

How has my spending gone this week?
Not bad. The children have birthdays coming up so I've been getting a couple of bits towards those, but otherwise my big expense this week was a TV series on Amazon, which was a Valentine present anyway.

What are my WIPs this week?
Sarah's blanket. I have a crocheted bag that needs a handle and lining, but it's waiting patiently for me to decide whether I want to set a zip into the side for a pocket or not.

Any Other Business?
No. It's a quiet week.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

January Reads....

I've never done a round up of books monthly begore, but a couple of the blogs I follow have done one and it seems like a good thing to do as a way to record my life and living (as well as being an easy way to fill a blogpost every month). So here goes for January.

I started this year by picking up Claire Tomalin's biography of Hardy, The Kindle edition link is here; Thomas Hardy: The Time-torn Man and the hardback link; Thomas Hardy: The Time-torn Man. I've read a few Hardy novels and the title drew my attention (I think as I was watching Sherlock, actually, and browsing for a new read.) Hardy is interesting, a young man from Dorset who goes to London and makes money writing about Dorset (his fictional Wessex). He's an enigma, and I am glad to be reading his story.
But I never just take the easy path. As I was reading, and it got to the point when he published his first novel a strange challenge presented itself. How about if I broke off from the biography to read the novel? Under The Greenwood Tree is a Hardy I haven't read, and I don't like having a gap in my classics reading. So I figured out that, especially since the books are free on Kindle anyway, I might as well follow his life and his oeuvre at the same time.

So my second book in January was Under the Greenwood Tree, or, the Mellstock quire; a rural painting of the Dutch school. It was quaint, rather than classic, but it did have some comedy value. What struck me reading it was how little happened in the book. I'm used to Jude or Tess or any of the Hardy characters and storylines that would sit very nicely in Eastenders or Coronation Street. Under The Greenwood Tree was soft, and hardly raised my pulse. It was actually cutely romantic, where the biggest problem is which suitor the village school teacher will choose. I did, however, enjoy the domestic details of the choir and their buildings. As you can see from the rather rough picture above, there was a BBC version in 2005. I can't see we wouldn't have watched it, so that makes this seem doubly forgettable. I'm glad I read it, would recommend it as a good starter classic for a young romantic girl, but I won't bother reading it again.

Lest you think I don't like Hardy, let me move on. His second novel was Far from the Madding Crowd. I was convinced I'd read this at some time in the past. After all I know the characters' names, the farming background and the plot, with Bathsheba Everdene being wooed left right and centre.... I almost decided to leave it, and to move on but in the interests of reading the whole Hardy work cycle in order I decided to read EVERY NOVEL as I came to it. I settled down with a cup of tea, expecting to meet a familiar phrase soon, but as I started the novel it became clear that I have NEVER read it. Woe betide me!! Is this another case of a book I have bought/borrowed/stolen from the library and never read? Whatever.
I enjoyed this book a lot more. Perhaps in response to the slow plot (non existent plot) of Greenwood Tree, this one has a plot structure that twists and turns. I'm thinking this is because of the fact that FFTMC was published in serial form in 1874 so every chapter needs a cliff hanger. You can, now, hear the 'dum-dum-dum-tum-dummy' beat of the Eastenders music and a storyline that has it all, almost. Pregnant disgraced girl? Tick. Fire that wipes out a hopeful future? Check. Drowning to escape debt and a loveless marriage? Yip, that too. And a handsome, self-effacing hero with a headstrong, wilful heroine. And one of the best quotes from the Vicar of Dibley. I read it in my limited reading time before bed and, yes, it took mt the week, but that was the week with quizzes, WI and illness in, so that's not bad.

Two and a half books in a month is pretty slow going, but that is two classics. They do read slower, I find. And this is a long term challenge.

I could tell you my new Hardy, begun on Saturday, but I'm not halfway through so I think I'd be cheating to count it as a January read. Although, I'm sure I must have read more books this month.....

Yes! I knew it. I checked my Goodreads account. It says that this year I have also read Doctor Sleep: Shining Book 2 (The Shining) by Stephen King and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. I think I was reading these during the Christmas holidays (and books read then are out of ordinary time, so don't count) I did enjoy them both, especially the Stephen King.

Well, that sounds better now then, doesn't it? I must go now. I'll blog about February's reads in about 4 weeks time!

Monday, 1 February 2016

A Day of Grace

I am not allowed into school today because my last blast of.... well, I won't say.... was on Saturday and we are under strict orders at school to let 48 hours pass before returning. Yet, apart from a slight muscle ache and tiredness I feel fine.
So today is a day of grace, a day when I am home (never alone now, of course) with no illness tying me to chair or bed and no responsibility. I could spend the time cleaning, or visiting my Mum, or catching up on a thousand thousand homey responsibilities. I could offer to sort out business affairs for Peter, or find out details about the new office, the carpets, the blinds......

But I am not going to do that. I'm taking a mental health day. I am going to drink chai, to watch something (possibly Outlander on Amazon TV) and to do no more than gentle sifting and sorting. I may bake biscotti this afternoon as a treat, or pootle quietly around the kitchen to make a stew. But this morning I am sorting out my many boxes of magazine pictures; I have them dating back to 2008 it appears, so perhaps this, my day of grace, would be an ideal opportunity to sieve and select the picture sthat still speak to me. It's about every one in ten from when I ripped them out. Mostly living rooms and kitchens, and I can see that my tastes have tightened up in the 8 years the pictures have sat, unloved and unnecessary in my file boxes. I will cull and cut and trim  this morning and then, early this afternoon, I will stick them into my A4 books. As long as I have a gluestick, of course.