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Archive Entries for June 2013

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Sunday June 30, 2013

Books in June

  • The Sacred Stone by the Medieval Murderers [read by James Saxon] BOM-TheSacredStone.jpg
    Another collection of short stories by the Medieval Murderers who are authors (and performers); you can read more about them here.
    I do like the idea of a themed collection of stories - this theme concerns the fate of a fragment of an asteroid ( or some such..) with holy powers attributed to it by its owners through the ages - and I enjoyed this set more than House of Shadows; I did like some of the stories more than others but I'm not prepared to say which ones! They might be used as a guide to the quality of an author's solo works - but I am not sure because short story writing is an art in itself and not necessarily a good indicator of all writing in different forms.

    • Prologue: Greenland, 1067: by Susanna Gregory
      In which the stone is discovered by a band of hunters
    • Act 1: Welsh Border, 1103: by Simon Beaufort
      In which the stone causes a rift between Church and State
    • Act 2: North Devon, 1236: by Bernard Knight
      In which the stone is invoked to heal a manor lord's sick wife
    • Act 3: Norwich, 1241: by Karen Maitland
      In which the stone is acquired by a Jewish merchant
    • Act 4: Oxford, 1272: by Ian Morson
      In which the stone finds its way to King Henry's bedchamber
    • Act 5: London & Jersey, 1606: by Philip Gooden
      In which the stone plays a part in the kidnap of Nick Revill
    • Epilogue: Present Day
      In which the stone resurfaces

  • The Voice of the Violin and Rounding the Mark by Andrea Camilleri
    [translated by Stephen Sartarelli and read by Daniel Philpott]
    BOM-VoiceOfTheViolin.jpg BOM-RoundingTheMark.jpg I've been listening to these in the car - and how wonderful they are. Daniel Philpott is a great reader - and somehow manages to get plausible accents and jokes even spoken in English (with credit also due to the translator of course).
    I have seen the TV adaptations and can't really find that they left much out (from memory). However, when I watched the TV version of the Terracotta Dog I found a lot seemed to be missing - and I found a web review where the reader said a later novel was not a patch on the previous one (Terracotta Dog) - and I am thinking that these later novels are perhaps getting a little slimmer - and thus are more suited - or perfect - for adaptations. Add to that, throughout his career Camilleri has studied and worked as a director and screenwriter, so clearly has an excellent eye for visual and dramatic interpretations.

  • The Teahouse Detective - The de Genneville Peerage by Baroness Orczy [Radio Play] BOM-TheTeahouseDetective.jpg
    A BBC Radio 4 series adapted from a series of short stories written by Baroness Orczy between 1901 and 1925.
    The original book called The Old Man In the Corner is about an unnamed armchair detective who examines and solves crimes while sitting in the corner of a genteel London tea-room in conversation with a female journalist ("Polly").
    8 stories were adapted and broadcast in 1998 and 2000 featuring Bernard Hepton as the eponymous hero - I managed to catch only one of them (recently rebroadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra) thanks to the vagueries of BBC iPlayer.

  • The Serpent's Back by Ian Rankin [Radio Play] BOM-TheSerpentsBack.jpg.jpg
    This appears as a short story in Beggars Banquet but this version is a radio play written by Rankin and broadcast first in 1995. It's a black comedy set in 18th-century Edinburgh.
    "Mr Cullender, a resourceful caddie and manservant, searches for a double murderer in the seething Old Town of Edinburgh."
    Directed in Edinburgh by Patrick Rayner with Alexander Morton, Richard Greenwood, Norman Maclean, Paul Young, Kern Falconer, Wendy Seager, Tom Smith, Liam Brennan, Michael Elder, Simon Scott, Sheila Donald and Steven McNicoll.
    Sadly I missed the second play with the same character: The Third Gentleman.

  • Thorndyke, Forensic Investigator by R Austin Freeman
    [adapted for Radio 4 Extra and read by Jim Norton] ] BOM-Thorndyke.jpg.jpg
    Dr John Evelyn Thorndyke (pretty clearly) bears direct comparison with Sherlock Holmes - given the dates, 1907-1942, and his methods - and though he is focussing on physical evidence, in truth, Holmes is much the same ("give me data"). In addition, Thorndyke is described as tall, athletic, handsome, and clever, yet unmarried, and his friend and foil, Christopher Jervis, acts as narrator.
    The 9 adaptations are 15 minutes each and seemed a little stark or lacking in warmth when compared with Doyle's stories. It is possible that the style of the full novels may lend themselves better to a more rounded and less brusque manner of dealing with a plot.

Posted on June 30, 2013 at 1:23 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Saturday June 29, 2013



When I got home I had a surprise parcel waiting for me with a delightful cotton top Alison has knitted for me. I had to put it on immediately of course - and it looks great I think.
It's the Regatta Tee by Olga Casey.

Posted on June 29, 2013 at 6:34 PM. Category: Knitting.

Shugborough Estate


Despite buying a two-day ticket for Woolfest (they deserve it - it's not an expensive event) I did not feel the need to return today; I was ready to go at 9 and would have had to wait an hour for it to open. So I headed straight off home.
As usual, I looked for a National Trust property to look at on the way back and hit on Shugborough - the (former) family seat of the Earls of Lichfield.

There was one miscalculation in that they were hosting a food festival - so it was very busy getting on to the property - but once in I had a lovely time (though I did not have time to visit the festival).

As well as the rest of the house which has been open to the public ever since it was donated to the NT in 1960, they have recently opened Patrick Lichfield's private apartments, as he died in 2005, and they were interesting - but I did not feel very at ease - for me he is almost a peer (no pun intended), dying at only 66 years of age - the swinging 60s are still quite tangible and it seemed like an invasion of privacy, poking around his bedroom. (Emotions that I do not feel looking at the apartments of long-dead Kings.).
I did enjoy his study though - it was more like I had been invited in and was sufficiently "lived in" and comfortable that it seemed that he might join me at any moment. [In fact maybe that was the issue with the bedrooms and so on - it seemed like he might join me at any moment and ask me what the devil I was doing there - thus wholly inappropriate!]

The gardens were great too - due to the way it was gifted to the NT and then leased to Staffordshire County Council, it has remained a working estate (again I passed on some of the additional attractions of the farm/rare breeds and so on due to time as well as because they were all additional charges beyond my NT membership - but it's clear you could spend a very varied day out here).

Posted on June 29, 2013 at 3:15 PM. Category: Days Out.

Friday June 28, 2013

Woolfest 2013


Back at Woolfest again this year for an indulgent time all to myself. The weather was not as appalling as last year, but it did rain once again.... My first two visits must have been a fluke.

My first act was to check out my pennant - and here it is (centre of photo below) - still in place. My second act was to check out Spindlers2 and buy .... just perhaps a couple of things from them .... ahem...


Other than that I did not come away weighted down with purchases in general. A couple of small gifts and a membership of the rare breeds trust in hand - plus a small bag of alpaca from the fleece sale.
I bought some cashmere and silk fibre from Knitwitches - their yarns are wonderful - "seriously gorgeous" in fact. There was a bit of a distraction on their stand while I was there as Eirwen had just discovered that she had lost one of her sample shawls (presumably to a despicable thief - need I say more) - words fail me really...
No specific pattern for it yet except I know I want to make a shawl - actually I wanted to make a navy shoulder shawl as I seem to be short of one such on this trip - however I find the colourway I have purchased, called "Nightshade" (I was thinking "night"), is more purple (they were thinking "plant").

In the evening, I joined Carol and Pete (the Spindlers2) plus friends for a meal at the Bitter End in Cockermouth - a really good end to the day in nice relaxing company.

And after that.... it was back to the dear old Derwent Bank where I managed to get a room again this year. There have been a few changes since I was last here - probably on balance to the good - certainly more commercial. A little cafe has opened which is a nice addition, meaning you can get food throughout the day - plus you can book your evening meal viably before 6 rather than the preceding day - which was tricky for late arrivals. They threatened me with an Internet connection - but it didn't quite work out for me on the day (!) - and then just as I was wondering how to spend my first quiet evening, (yesterday), I did a double take when I noticed that my room had a television - so I was able to watch Wimbledon - perfect.


Posted on June 28, 2013 at 1:12 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Saturday June 15, 2013

DIY Pin Loom


Carried away with the concept of Pin Looms, I decided that the major thing stopping me making one was a general inability to work successfully with wood. While buying a picture frame, I noticed there were square picture frames available that, (I thought), with the mere addition of a few nails, I could make into a pin loom myself.
The result was as above.

I was aware of a number of factors as I tried this out, and the main problem was, as I suspected, I did crack the wood - I plan to address this with a rework, but I wanted to show what happened here - and for the moment the loom does work fine as it is.


A number of the Guild members also tried it today, and they also cracked the frames, and gave up, However, everyone liked the weaving idea and went home with the intention of getting their husbands to make the wooden square out of a harder wood.

I should mention that I am completely aware that all the materials and method were not ideal, but I stuck with it with the following considerations:

  • the materials** were cheap and fairly easily commercially available;
  • the nails are much too heavy duty for the flimsy pin frame - but you need them to be fairly tough to sustain the weaving;
  • upholstery tacks have rather too large heads;
  • the heads of these nails are a little too big but you do need something to stop the yarn slipping off, so panel pins are not really ideal either;
  • you could drill pilot holes to stop the nails cracking the wood - but then you need to be really careful to keep the drill properly upright, which is not easy without a support - and suddenly it's a manufacturing activity not a simple bit of craft.
  • This is little sample of my weavings made into a cover for a microwavable hot pad. Don't be put off - my colour choices are not so good, plus the camera has picked up the inconsistencies - one of which is due to my sewing the square in with the "wrong" side exposed where I have threaded in the ends!


    ** The materials were: a 4 inch square Box Frame from Wilkinsons (currently available at half price), and 64 x 25mm round head nails, which were spaced evenly along the centre line at about a quarter of an inch apart, 17 nails from corner to corner on each side.
    A couple of tips are - it is more essential to keep the nails in a straight line than it is to worry about the spacing being very precise, try blunting the nails before hammering in, which is a technique to avoid cracking the wood, and when finished, mark each alternate nail with a spot of coloured paint or nail varnish - it helps when using the loom.

    Posted on June 15, 2013 at 7:37 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.