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Archive Entries for May 2015

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Saturday May 30, 2015

Books in May

  • The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper FfordeBOM-TheWomanWhoDiedALot.jpg
    It's a very long time since I read my last Thursday Next novel*, by which time I was becoming tired of them. However this one seems substantially better - or I have left a long enough gap to become re-interested.
    The plot is complex and entertaining (as usual) all the way through - and well worth reading. If I have any comment - apart from "haha that was hilarious" - I do feel that the ends of the books can lack the high qualities of the rest of the story. There's nothing actually wrong with the endings - they are usually happy and well-rounded - just that with this type of book I think his style is cramped by having to provide such an end, even though I am glad he does - I hate unresolved endings.
    *I am guessing this may have been Something Rotten and I skipped a few books before this one.

  • The Bones Beneath by Mark Billingham
    Great book as usual.
    For me personally there was a "but". I did not really enjoy the Shakespearian-like tragedy of the story. You just knew.... everyone's fate was inevitable from the opening paragraph.
    I suppose every Holmes needs his Moriarty, and for some reason every detective needs to be flawed. However I have never been able to empathise much with Thorne and his flaws - he seems a bit like Noddy - destined to carry on making mistakes and not learning.
    Mark puts a lot of emphasis on the location used for this book (and maybe I do not like Thorne out of London) - he suggests in the author's notes and throughout the book how excellent it would be for a holiday; but having read this book I would not be so keen on a visit - despite the obvious beauty and peace of the place (and the events described are of course fictional).
    [I took this in bookBook format to read on holiday - and I must say I missed the sound of Mark reading his own work...]

  • Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel [read by Simon Vance]BOM-BringUpTheBodies.jpg
    I saw the TV adaptation of Mantels first two novels - and it was excellent. So excellent that listening to this second book almost seemed superfluous - all the characters came to me as depicted. Of course there is a lot more detail, and I did note that (unlike the TV drama) we are prepared somewhat for the third novel and what we know to be Cromwell's ultimate fate.

  • The Lost Prophecies by the Medieval Murderers [read by Paul Matthews] BOM-TheLostProphecies.jpg
    Another collection of short stories by the Medieval Murderers who are authors (and performers); you can read more about them here.
    A mysterious book of prophecies written by a sixth century Irish monk has puzzled scholars through the ages. The Black Book of Bran* is said to have predicted the Black Death and the Gunpowder Plot. It is even said to foresee the Day of Judgement.
    • Prologue: Kerry, October 574, by Bernard Knight
      In which the book is created.
    • Act 1: Exeter, February 1196, by Bernard Knight
      In which Crowner John confounds a band of treasure-hunters.
    • Act 2: Crimea, 1272, by Ian Morson
      In which Nick Zuliani dices with death in a Russian blizzard.
    • Act 3: Westminster, 7th July 1325 by Michael Jecks
      In which Keeper Sir Baldwin and Bailiff Simon Puttock investigate murder most foul in the abbey crypt.
    • Act 4: Cambridge, November 1357,by Susanna Gregory
      In which Matthew Bartholomew and Brother Michael become embroiled in a bloodthirsty college feud.
    • Act 5: Shoreditch and Warwick, 1608, by Philip Gooden
      In which player Nick Revill receives a letter from a mysterious uncle.
    • Epilogue: Yorkshire, March 2135, by C. J. Sansom
      In which we confront the Day of Judgement.
    [* Does this sound like an early text predicting the perils of a future era of high fibre dieting?]

  • ALightOnTheRoadToWoodstock.jpg A Light on the Road to Woodstock
    I have not read this short story before; it explains how Cadfael came back from the Holy Land as a soldier and ended up joining the abbey at Shrewsbury
    Adapted from the books by Ellis Peters and read on Radio 4 extra by Nigel Anthony.
    "Returning from the Crusades to a country he hardly recognises, Brother Cadfael finds intrigue and deception almost as soon as he lands in the court of his master Roger Mauduit."

Posted on May 30, 2015 at 7:03 PM. Category: Books of the Month.

Sunday May 24, 2015



This is a pretty pink rose in France that I have been trying to propagate - I am fearful for its future with all the building work.
I took 5 cuttings following advice on the web (and I can tell you they have subsequently all expired!). Last year, I took about 8 cuttings from various French roses, which included the pink one. Of those cuttings, two plants have survived - and I was absolutely convinced they are the robust red rose at the front of the cottage. Thus, I planted one in the garden in England and gave one to Rob. And now, after all, I am completely astonished to see a distinctly pink bud making an appearance in my garden.
So... result! I suppose...
[I have yet to find out what colour Rob's rose is].


Later news from June: both Rob's and my rose cuttings have turned out to be pink after all that. Pretty amusing as I was so convinced they were the large red one...

Posted on May 24, 2015 at 9:23 AM. Category: France.

Wednesday May 20, 2015



The men from EDF came and moved our electricity box to the outside of the house. I think we can safely say it was a success as we still seem to have power. [Peter did lots of preparation inside, and then swapped some cables etc - so well done him].



Posted on May 20, 2015 at 9:04 AM. Category: France.

Wednesday May 6, 2015

Workshows remembered.


"This exhibition displays some of the practical work achieved by students of the courses over the 30 years that it has been my privilege to teach in this college." - Rob Muller

This evening I joined Rob for the grand opening of his very own exhibition at Croydon College. He has been building up and preparing for this event for over year, collating hundreds of photographs of his students' work, (plus other memorabilia), collected throughout his teaching career.


As you might expect, a large number of former students from all eras joined him, creating a wonderful atmosphere, as many of them were meeting up with each other for the first time since their days at the college. They also wandered around the new (and old) college classrooms reminiscing about their time there.


Since the exhibition, many former students have got in touch with Rob on Facebook - and if you want to look at a rather better set of photos - Rob is posting Workshow pictures on his facebook page - a photo a day.


Here's the full text of Rob's words for the exhibition hand-out:

I joined the staff in the Theatre Department at Croydon College in April 1985, just in time to help mount the Spring Term exhibition of second-year students' work that had come to be called Workshow. Individual students had chosen costumes, portions of a setting, or large props from their designs, completed in the previous term to be realised to full scale. Lighting students designed the lighting for each piece in the hall and the production team undertook the responsibility of technically presenting the exhibition to the public for a week in March. I was staggered at the scale and ambition of this exercise - and these students were only half way through their three-year sandwich HND course.
In the summer term, these same second-year students became a production team collaborating with a performance company to mount a new contemporary ballet at the Secombe Centre Theatre in Sutton. They designed and constructed setting, costumes and lighting. My role as lighting and production tutor was to support these realised productions.
Over the next two years, while I undertook an in-house Cert Ed, I was heavily involved in rewriting the course for BTEC validation. This successful course ran until the mid 90's, firmly establishing Croydon College's reputation for producing theatre design students with very strong practical skills.
In the late 80's, the department gained a lecture room, which was converted into a second venue named "The Peter Jackman Studio Theatre" (in commemoration of a talented lighting student, who helped design the space).
Workshows were finally phased out in the mid to late 90's as the course was revalidated as BA and Foundation Degree courses and the emphasis shifted to end-of-year degree shows.
In the early 2000's, a parallel digital film degree course was established and, after completing an MA in Computer Arts, I started teaching camera and editing on this course as well as lighting and production on the Theatre courses. In 2010, sadly, the Theatre course was discontinued and all the department's resources were concentrated on the current film-making courses.
This exhibition displays some of the practical work achieved by students of the courses over the 30 years that it has been my privilege to teach in this college.

Posted on May 6, 2015 at 10:27 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Monday May 4, 2015



Baby Scott arrived 3 weeks early - so she is 2 weeks old already (and impossibly cute). Her parents are .... well.... thrilled, delighted, proud... all that stuff.

[I feel more knitting coming on - in my bumper wool frenzy before Christmas, I acquired (accidentally) quite a lot of white 3ply...]

Posted on May 4, 2015 at 6:16 PM. Category: Friends.

Sunday May 3, 2015



The wisteria in France was positively overwhelming - in both colour, size of blooms, and perfume. I saw the sun glinting through the branches overhanging the door - it's a nice enough photo but does not quite capture the moment.
I am pleased that my cutting the poor thing back to the wood does not seem to have slowed it down much - that part is in full leaf now and the section I left alone has burst into these heavy blossoms - it's always been a lovely plant but this year seems exceptional. [... and by the time we left a couple of days later, the strong winds had blown huge amounts of petals clean away...].


Posted on May 3, 2015 at 6:23 PM. Category: France.