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Archive Entries for August 2013

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Saturday August 31, 2013

Books in August

  • Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum BOM-DontLookBack.jpg
    My first venture into an Inspector Sejer book, and it delighted me from the first - having not so much a surprise ending as a surprise beginning. And I can't say more without spoiling the surprise (beginning).
    The end was pretty good as well - one of those simple solutions where there was all the evidence given to you but still a "whodunnit" nonetheless.
    I have seen mixed reviews about lack of characterisation, which may be true, but I felt it was a good detective story.

  • Drawing Conclusions by Donna Leon BOM-DrawingConclusions.jpg
    I'm a great fan of Donna Leon and I enjoyed this book - but the ending really surprised me. Not in terms of the plot but in terms of abruptness. I thought the last chapter must have been missing. Having said that - it was more "arty" to end as she does but I felt I needed some cosy rounding off - after all that hard work investigating and so on. - which makes me feel rather dull-witted!

  • Fifth Witness by by Michael Connelly [read by John Chancer] BOM-FifthWitness.jpg
    What can I say? Another great read.
    Maybe a bit heavy on the courtroom detail - the whole plot turning on courtroom tactics, but .... can't stop myself using banal prose like "really good".
    There is also a wonderful twist at the end - again all the evidence there before you, but not seen until the author chooses.

  • Busy Body by M C Beaton [read by Penelope Keith] BOM-BusyBody.jpg
    Another cheerful book with all our old friends present and correct.
    We start and end with the Carsley Ladies (joint meeting); like the village itself, it's a real caricature - but - as is often the case - utterly recognisable for anyone living in a village or belonging to any kind of club or society.
    Hating to admit it but I do empathise with Agatha's complicated relationships with her male friends, and her constant search for the perfect man. However, unlike Agatha, I am convinced that when you meet an appealing and yet unattached man of mature years that it is no accident that he is unattached. Not implying a sinister reason - but there will be a reason.

  • Bone Bed by Patricia Cornwell BOM-BoneBed.jpg
    I'm all Scapetta-ed out.
    Well - not really of course.
    We are back into more conventional mad serial killer territory here and back in my comfort zone. Well "not really" to that one as well - but I prefer the politics, anti-Scarpetta conspiracies, and military involvement to be incidental to the plot and not fundamental to it.
    So this offering much more to my taste.
    I found it most interesting to see an interview with Cornwell on ITV's "Crime Thriller Club". The latter is little more than a publicity blurb for the awards of the same name but lots of fun with Mark Billingham in full support for the "this prestigeous" (!) event.

  • PhilipJackson.jpg From BBC Radio 4 Extra I enjoyed recordings of a dramatisation of Terry Pratchett's Night Watch with Philip Jackson* as Sam Vimes, and an original dramatisation of Laurie King's The Beekeeper's Apprentice with James Fox as a very appropriate Sherlock - still sharp but perhaps a little weary.
    * ...Philip Jackson who will always be Inspector Japp to me - and yet what a really skilled actor he is. I have seen him in many roles outside Poirot, (in which he was brilliant - aided by a delightful script "swipe me!"), and he is always utterly convincing with no distracting shades of Japp peeping through.

Posted on August 31, 2013 at 2:48 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Monday August 26, 2013

Bird

BabyFlycatcher1.jpg

This is just impossibly cute isn't it?
It appeared on the bakehouse doorstep just after George stepped inside. It was totally mesmerised and appeared to be unable to move to the degree it seemed to us that it might have fallen out of a nest - however, I think it was in the process of fledging. We stepped back and forth over it, and when we were away from it, it cried pitifully - and we could hear again what seemed to be responses from possibly its parents. But they never appeared.

I can't really identify it but on thinking about the birds we see around, I am wondering if it's a baby spotted flycatcher. It's the beak that gives it away a bit. Having looked at the web I find it looks just like this little chap captured on You tube - and the description of the robust flying sounds very similar.

BabyFlycatcher2.jpg

Finally, it fluttered straight up from the step into the nearby apple tree - quite a tough call. There, we watched it sitting and moving - calling all the time. On this basis I think it has probably made it through OK.

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 5:53 PM. Category: France.

Sunday August 25, 2013

Top Cat

TopCat1.jpg

Our second week in France and the weather just as promising as our last visit. Again I spent most of my time in the Bakehouse, painting - and <drum roll and excitement> putting the doors on the kitchen wall cupboards.
However, before all that - we arrived on the overnight ferry, and on our way through one of the local villages at the crack of dawn, we saw a sign advertising a vide grenier - so we went. And I found this wonderful cat - he's a wooden money box, which is not obvious. He looks a bit grubby in the photo but he cleaned up well. I love him.

TopCat2.jpg

Here is more of Peter's handiwork - and these shelves and their background is mainly what will occupy me in the Bakehouse this week.

BakehouseShelves1.jpg

Posted on August 25, 2013 at 10:14 AM. Category: France.

Sunday August 18, 2013

Haslemere

PoshYarn.jpg

Today I went to see Sara (in her new house), little Florence, Rich, and her parents. Actually, I did not spend too much time socialising as we went out walking "downtown" (and it's a lovely town - Rob and I considered moving there when we left Chichester). We visited the allotments, where her Father has two plots (he gave me tips on growing sweet peas - I have managed a single bloom so far - planted them too late or course. See below.)

SweetPea.jpg

Anyway - despite wonderful weather and a lovely setting - I took not a single photo - hence the inclusion of my humble bloom above.
However, I did manage to come away with a simply wonderfully generous gift - so its photo graces the head of this page. Beautiful laceweight Posh Yarn - spent rest of day looking for that special project for it.

[This was my first major outing in my "new" mini - it's lovely - and as a source of entertainment it never ceases. Firstly, as it's a company car, they scared me by informing me that it has a Telematics system installed - to check my driving; turns out that this was not true after all - I am relieved to say. After that, the car scared me by cutting the engine while I was waiting at traffic, and appearing to leave the rear doors unlocked despite central locking. All working as designed it seems - an energy saving concept and a proximity key - I really must read the manual! The latter gave us hours if fun while George kept saying "no - it is locked" and then I kept opening it - not realising it was due to my having the key in my hand at the time.]

Posted on August 18, 2013 at 7:50 PM. Category: Friends.

Saturday August 17, 2013

Horticulture

Hydrangea1.jpg

So...while I was living it up at the button workshop, Jennie had entered my hydrangeas in the local horticultural society flower show on my behalf. And they won! Second prize - which is less than I deserve since the idea and execution were all down to Jennie. [Now I feel like part of the plot of Downton Abbey.].

Certificates.jpg

Anyway - as I have mentioned before - the hydrangeas here are lovely.
Nothing to do with me - all down to them - and now, Jennie.

Hydrangea2.jpg

Posted on August 17, 2013 at 5:08 PM. Category: The Garden.

More buttons

ButtonWorks2.jpg

Felicity ran another (different) workshop for the Guild on making buttons - in fact she is so oversubscribed we are having to run another one next month.

ButtonWorks1.jpg

One of the types (made using a similar sausage techniques to that which we used last time) produces imitation wooden buttons - which, as we observed, can look more like wood than wood itself. (More wood fakery).

ButtonWorks3.jpg

Two new techniques were making buttons using air-drying clay painted with an acrylic varnish, and making resin buttons. Felicity brought Adam along (a trained chemist) to manage the two-part resin. They had to compromise on the resin they used as they needed it to be dry within a couple of hours in order to suit the workshop environment. This had several effects - one of which was that Adam was torn between saying: "don't panic - just pour slowly and carefully into the moulds" and: "hurry up...it's all setting...". Another effect is that there were a lot of bubbles caught in the button, which does not have to be the case with a slower setting material; the latter might be easier to handle if one were doing it at home.

Posted on August 17, 2013 at 4:29 PM. Category: Crafts.

Sunday August 11, 2013

Faking it

We've managed two stays in France this August and I spent most of the time working on the bakehouse, where is was lovely and cool despite the humidity.

BakehouseLoft1.jpg

Here's the progress upstairs, where I have completed the painting and laid most of the floor - with some help from Peter. The flooring is a laminate (sorry) in "rustic oak" - it met the criteria of being robust and not costing an arm and a leg - I also painted the pine beams in "chêne classique" - a very light varnish/stain which proved surprisingly easy to use, and produced a good result - the beams are now also rustic oak....

BakehouseLoft2.jpg

Peter has subsequently completed the job, doing the tricky bit under the boiler and making a splendid edging for around the trap door. This last part was a pretty awkward space to work in - no mean feat for a chap of normal size, so I am particularly grateful.

Blackcurrants2.jpg

The weather has been a delight this summer so when I was not working I was in the garden soaking up the sun (well - in a hammock in the shade of the trees). This has been a bumper year for currants so we spent a good few hours picking, cleaning, eating, and storing. (Blackcurrant fool made with Greek yoghurt.... mmmmmm)

Currants1.jpg

Posted on August 11, 2013 at 9:00 AM. Category: France.