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Archive Entries for October 2008

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Friday October 31, 2008

All Hallow's Eve

Somehow I need to make my own personal acknowledgement of a friend that I have not seen since I was at school. Over the past couple of days I have been reminded of a lot of people I have not thought of for years. I'm sure I have better photos than this one, but on reflection this is the most appropriate. Here are some of the lads, (the ones who could sing), who still keep in touch with one another - all in costume for HMS Pinafore (just in case you think I went to a rather odd school).


Lots of fun ...but life can play hard tricks.

Posted on October 31, 2008 at 11:50 AM. Category: Friends.

Books in October

  • The Lincoln Lawyer Michael Connelly [Read by Michael Brandon]
    LincolnLawyer.jpg Having already read this book "on the page", I listened to it as a talking book; it was just as enjoyable second time around - and I could knit at the same time... Now I am suitably prepared for for Connelly's next book which features the same hero - and I must say I am looking forward to this. I feel warmly towards Michael Haller - I wonder if he shares more, or fewer, characteristics with the author than Harry Bosch?**

    **Colin Dexter said that you cannot help writing a certain amount of your own views and tastes into your characters: "like me, he, [Morse], is diabetic, an atheist, and a lover of music and art". But also admitted that it was not true of all characteristics and I thought I heard in an interview that Dexter himself does not like beer - though I am sure I have seen film of Dexter (apparently) enjoying a pint.
    It amuses me that, (judging by the publicity photos in the books), when physically describing Bosch, Connelly could be describing himself - and I notice this is also true of MC Beaton describing Agatha Raisin.

  • Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came M C Beaton
    FloodsCame.jpg Continuing my reading of the series in which Agatha gains a new (dishy) next door neighbour, and her aristocratic friend gains and loses a wife.
    Small exchanges between Agatha and the vicar's wife never fail to amuse me:
    Agatha: "... [middle-aged] men let themselves go."
    Mrs Bloxby: "Not necessarily. Look at my husband. Alf's in good shape."
    Agatha thought of the vicar - grey-haired, glasses, scholarly, slightly stooped - and reflected that love was indeed blind.

  • Death Message Mark Billingham [Read by Paul Thornley]
    DeathMessage.jpg Here we find Thorne, in the latest novel in the series, settling down to some kind of domestic life - the only sort that 2 working detectives can share; however, there is even talk of fatherhood, so it must be serious.
    As in the previous book, there is, I am relieved to say, much less of a perverted mind at work; you are made to go along with Thorne and have sympathy with the killer, and thus accept Thorne's rather strange choice of rough justice.
    I note that Billingham's next work departs from the Thorne series - maybe getting too bogged down with the threat of all that domesticity on the horizon. Time for a change.

Posted on October 31, 2008 at 8:57 AM. Category: Books of the Month.

Tuesday October 28, 2008


They all fell off my Bramley apple tree - so I have a mini apple mountain.
We are resigned to our fate of putting on pounds through eating extra apple desserts; it's tough but someone has to do it.

Apple Betty is new to me and this chocolate version was suggested to me by Tony. I found it a bit too sweet, though it might depend on how sweet your apples are. Next time I might try adding a little lemon or lime juice to the apple layer, and using less sugar and syrup in the topping.
Some traditional versions of this pudding use alternate layers of crumbs and apple.

Chocolate Apple Betty


(serves 3 - or 2 greedy people)

  • 1lb Bramley apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into large chunks
  • 1oz butter
  • 2oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1½oz light soft brown sugar
  • 2oz dark chocolate*, roughly chopped
  • 1½oz butter, melted
  • 1 heaped tablespoon golden syrup

* Choose a good quality chocolate here, as the flavour is very evident.


  1. Mix the crumbs, sugar and chocolate. I blend them each separately in a food processor to get the right degree of "chopping" and then mix them all together.
  2. Cook the apple pieces for a few minutes with the ounce of butter melted in 1 tablespoon of water over a moderate heat. When the apples are just turning soft and far from mushy, put them in the baking dish.
  3. Cover with the crumb mixture.
  4. Mix the melted butter and the golden syrup then pour it over the crumb topping, making certain to soak it all.
  5. Bake in the oven at 190 degrees C or Gas Mark 5 for 30-35 minutes until the apple is soft and the topping is crunchy.

Delicious served with cream or ice cream.

Posted on October 28, 2008 at 10:54 AM. Category: Kitchen and food.

Friday October 24, 2008

A Pretty Big Dog


Rob and I spent the evening at Richmond Theatre for a version of the Hound of the Baskervilles, with Peter Egan and Philip Franks. This cast, (and my love of Sherlock Holmes), meant I was thoroughly looking forward to it - but really it was.... not very good. I am left thinking I cannot put my finger on why, as the cast was strong and the staging interesting - Rob's brief synopsis was poor direction and tacky set. During the first Act, I noticed Rob was asleep - normally my reaction to this would be to crossly wake him up - but I thought 'no - it's just not worth it - he probably needs his sleep more than this ...'

It was not so bad that I wish I had not gone. There were some interesting aspects of the staging which used projection and gauze techniques to try and create the rather challenging backdrops, since the book's plot revolves around the moor and Grimpen Mire. But for all that, it was not good. I was left with the impression that the staging and tiny cast were adapted more for a fringe production than a mainstream theatrical tour. The projection of the turning pages of the novel were a delight - but only for the first few minutes - after which it became a rather tedious artifice.

I see that it had the same director as "The Woman in Black", which I saw in the West End some time ago - this was also a Victorian-style gothic horror story from the 1983 novel, by Susan Hill. The staging was similar - sharing the same type of challenging external scenes - but "better" I would say.

The Hound has a website for the Tour - which I would say is better than production (!) - and I feel I must offer here some previous reviews of this production:

  • ''One of the cleverest piece of theatre you will ever see'' [British Theatre Guide]
  • ''Excellent. Highly enjoyable'' [Daily Telegraph]
  • ''Fiendishly clever'' [Spectator]
  • ''Gripping theatricality'' [Sunday Express]
  • ''The most stunning theatrical production of the year. Takes your breath away'' [The Stage]
Maybe they were just having an off night... but I am left to wonder if we saw the same play!

Posted on October 24, 2008 at 11:57 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Sunday October 19, 2008


SupremesPoster.jpg Lyn and I finally arranged our outing to the V&A to see the Supremes exhibition - we had been promising it to ourselves since May (before it opened) and just made it before it closed (today).

We enjoyed it as much as we expected - I learned a lot - and it struck me that even though I know what was happening in America at the time of the emergence of Motown, it is not possible to really understand how it was for them. It was similar environment in England, but not the same, and I was too young to understand. Indeed I vividly remember seeing my first black bus conductor during a trip to London when I was about 5 years old - I was utterly fascinated (he was very understanding, and chatted to me for a bit.).

In addition to what we saw, they had family events and sessions offering, for example, "Motown Moves" (which I think we would have loved) which examined "the iconic choreography of Motown moves - from hand gestures to simple dance moves, exploring how the 'look' of Motown evolved".

We saw how these young women evolved from the Primettes ... to the Supremes.


The stars of the show were, of course, the costumes. The ones shown above were by Michael Travis - a striking 1960s black and white pattern - all in sequins - spectacular for television. His designs were notably flamboyant and included the famous 'Butterfly' dresses, which were even more lovely to see close up. The "wings" were diaphanous patterned fabric, somewhat besequinned, but the shaped dresses were entirely covered with sequins, forming the same fabric pattern.
See the extended entry.


Most of the outfits of the period were lavish with beading and thousands of sequins (sewn by hand) and costing between one and two thousand dollars each in the 1960s ($13-26,000 at today's prices).

Posted on October 19, 2008 at 4:00 PM. Category: Days Out.

Friday October 10, 2008

Alexandra Palace Knitting and Stitchery Show 2008

This entry is a little late but here we are at last at the Knitting and Stitchery Show.


The entrance exhibit this year was a knitted coral reef that everyone could contribute to - you could knit something while you were there and hand it in to be added to the "organic" entity.


Here's my attempt to capture the whole reef - there's a popup to try and give you a better idea - but it was really lovely - showing both skill and artistry.

Our first item of the day was a "fusing fabric" workshop, which involves burning translucent coloured synthetics to make patchwork "art", using soldering irons. I enjoyed it a lot - not sure I will be investing in a new craft but I may join Sheila one day and have another go using her equipment.


Then we were off to visit our favourite stalls - I purchased some grey tweed Aran from Texere Yarns, some silk and cashmere in sea greens and blues, buttons to match, and some beads for my next River Rock scarf. More of these in future entries, no doubt.

1 Texere Yarns

2 Black Hills (UK)

3 Sailors Society Hats

4 Sailors Fancy

5 Heritage Jars

6 Helping Hand

7 Young Designers

8 Young Designers

Posted on October 10, 2008 at 6:17 PM. Category: Knitting.

Tuesday October 7, 2008

Twenty One Today

(Cheating a bit as the party was on George's birthday rather than Deborah's).


"...your Father says you can do as you like, so shout hip hip...."
Hang on.... what were they thinking?!

Posted on October 7, 2008 at 5:04 PM. Category: Red Letter Days.

Saturday October 4, 2008


This is what I've been up to. There have been major, and in some cases unwise, eBay purchases - but more of that another time - and they have led me to really begin to pull together Narvik. This pattern immediately struck me as one suitable for a hand spinning project, but that was really an artistic judgement and not a practical one (ie it looks like a homespun ethnic jumper).


It does have some ideal qualities - it's mostly rectangles - which can be easily adapted to suit whatever wool weight you end up spinning- but it is written for a chunky wool, and I find it hard to control my spinning to any consistent thickness - I am hoping that this might improve with experience.

Posted on October 4, 2008 at 8:47 AM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.