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Archive Entries for July 2016

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Sunday July 31, 2016

Books in July

  • The Original Inspector George Gently Collection by Alan Hunter
    BOM-InspectorGeorgeGentlyCollection.jpg My colleague Tony recommended I try these and I did find them enjoyable. Quite different from the TV series - it's hard to imagine book-Gently as any other than an old man - however I don't think that's actually true it's just that the era is the 1960s and I was a child then so all adult detectives were going to be avuncular old men [No Hiding Place with Raymond Francis etc]. In truth I suppose TV-Gently in the shape of Martin Shaw* is in fact an old man - he just doesn't seem to be for one of my age now! This is the first two stories in one edition Gently Does It and Gently by the Shore - there is also an omnibus available with the first 4 books. Hunter makes a statement at the start of the book that the stories are not meant to be "whodunnits" so don't complain.... In fact I found them quite intriguing enough for all that.

    * I recently saw Martin Shaw as Dalgliesh in the first of the two PD James stories he recorded around 2003. I thought it was excellent even though I was keen on Roy Marsden in the role. The two stories are connected so it made sense to make them of a piece in this way. [Frustratingly missed the second one - hopefully not too long before another repeat even though they were screened at 2 am.....].

  • Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama [translated by Jonathan Lloyd-Davies]
    BOM-SixFour.jpg A totally fascinating book - not only a good thriller with an interesting and very (I feel) Japanese explanation of the mystery at the end, but also seemingly a real insight into Japanese life. Throughout, the hero has a very sad personal situation to deal with and I was sorry that (like in real life) was not resolved. However, a lot of the story is very political, and maybe simply a "police procedural" but it's made so much more interesting to me because it is written by a Japanese person, not from an outsider's view. I suppose it may not relate to real policing any more than any other stories I read ("you've got 24 hours to solve it or you're off the case") but I loved all the incidental social interactions showing the paramount importance of manners, respect, and not losing face. I did think that I would have trouble getting to grips with the different characters - I am a lazy reader and my eye skates over names; there was a pretty big cast list with a predominance of names starting with M closely followed by Y - but in fact I managed quite well.
    I was alerted to this book by the iKnit Book Group (first Tuesday of every month) - too late to meet with them by the time I'd read it sadly - and I never seem to have the time to get up there..... maybe one day....
    [PS Helen thought the title might be a football score - it isn't]

  • The Blue Afternoon by William Boyd
    BOM-TheBlueAfternoon.jpg This was an impulse purchase ex-Surrey library (3 for 2 - how could I resist?).
    I always like this author and I'm not sure why I don't read more. I guess they are always a little too poignantly sad overall. However, with this one, (as ever), I was totally gripped by the writing and the plot. Even in the opening chapters I was totally heartbroken (or maybe sick with frustration) alongside our heroine - an architect - as a wonderful building is destroyed out of sheer malice and spite. And that's only the set up to the real tale....

  • Aftermath by Peter Turnbull [read by ]
    BOM-Aftermath.jpg OK I may have said before - not my favourite author - so... why? Well, terrible enough that I read the first one of his books by mistake (Peter Lovesey/Peter Tremayne) - but I did the same thing AGAIN this time. More excusable though - I selected two Peter Robinson talking books to keep me amused on my trip to Cambridge - and in one choice I was correct but I quickly discerned that this Aftermath was the right title but not the right author!
    Unfortunately I found it as dire as ever and never got as far as listening to the actual DCI Banks story until I got home. [And after all that, the murderers were not brought to justice! How bad is that? really!].

  • When the Devil Drives by Christopher Brookmyre [read by Sarah
    BOM-WhenTheDevilDrives.jpg Finally got round to listening to the 2nd book in this trilogy - the middle one - I read them out of order. Again another author I really like, although I think maybe these books about Jasmine Sharp may not be his dramatically strongest or most side-splittingly funny.
    Several days after having listenend to the epilogue - where things were wrapped up - I realised what the last sentence ("she was not her sister") actually meant. I had imagined it meant not the same character as her sister instead of which it was (clearly even if not to me) literal.
    Now you will have to read it...

  • NoelCowardMystery.jpg A Bullet at Balmain's - A Noel Coward Mystery
    Marcy Kahan's Noel Coward playing the sleuth in post-Liberation Paris, this time. It's 1948 and Coward is in Paris to play the lead in his own play 'Present Laughter' - in French - which is amusing enugh of itself. Add in haute couture, existentialism, jazz . . .
    Stars Malcolm Sinclair as Noel Coward, with Eleanor Bron and Tam Williams as his devoted staff.

Posted on July 31, 2016 at 11:57 PM. Category: Books of the Month.



We went to see Startrek Beyond in 3D. First visit to the iMax. Excellent.

Posted on July 31, 2016 at 10:30 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Saturday July 30, 2016

Houghton House

...and Fibre East

On the way back from Cambridge, I diverted to Flitwick to go to Fibre East, which was quite as pleasing as I had been led to believe.
Some of the Guild were also there (day trip) and I had lunch with Kate and Georgia.
I'm afraid I did succumb to an "anonymous" fleece from the sheep rescue centre. [I started processing it immediately but it's a long job - fine and with a lovely sheen but also a lot of lanolin!]

I noticed an enticing brown sign in the vicinity and was further diverted to visit Houghton House. I knew nothing about the house and so was quite surprised to find it to be a deserted ruin.


Originally commissioned by Mary Herbert, Dowager Countess of Pembroke in 1615 on land granted to her by James I (r.1603-25), it underwent many changes by its various owners until 1794 when it was ordered to be dismantled by the 5th Duke of Bedford. The ruins survived as a garden feature in the grounds of nearby Ampthill Park, and it is now administered as an ancient monument by English Heritage.
Truly a wonderful chance find.

Posted on July 30, 2016 at 3:20 PM. Category: Days Out.



More fun pictures experienced vicariously as usual courtesy of Rob.
This year he even found the wonderful knitting lady - and the weather was kind for a change.


Posted on July 30, 2016 at 7:06 AM. Category: Art and Culture.

Friday July 29, 2016

End of Term


Well having been so focused all week it certainly felt like end of term. Here we all are on our final day.
I can thoroughly recommend this school to any one (who wants to do a class obviously); it is extremely well run, teaching, facilities, and catering were excellent ...and my comrades were very nice too which always helps.

Posted on July 29, 2016 at 2:51 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Wednesday July 27, 2016

Cambridge Tour


This evening Anna took a couple of us on a tour of the colleges. The last time I was there must have been in 1978 with a friend who had studied there, and I remember little of it. It was a lovely evening and rounded off with a delightful meal at the Punter

Posted on July 27, 2016 at 9:32 PM. Category: Days Out.

Monday July 25, 2016

Cottenham Summer School

Months ago I signed up for what has turned out to be the most wonderful course "Weaving on a Four Shaft Loom". Far too much to discuss but below is an album of photos of our work during the week.

Posted on July 25, 2016 at 8:41 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Sunday July 24, 2016

Tour de Fleece - sprint to finish


Stage 21: Chantilly - Paris, 113km (70.2 miles)

My two 2-ply skeins completed.
.... and Froomey did it....
.... and I set off for Cambridge and my next week's adventure.

Posted on July 24, 2016 at 7:54 AM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Saturday July 23, 2016

Tour de Fleece - tired but chasing hard


Stage 20: Megeve - Morzine, 146km (90.7 miles)

We spent a lovely hot day at the Leigh Summer Show - still madly spinning....

Posted on July 23, 2016 at 7:53 AM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Friday July 22, 2016

Tour de Fleece - strong breakaway


Stage 19: Albertville - Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc, 146km (90.7 miles)

Further distractions as Rob came over to practice pitching his new tent (WOMAD...).

Posted on July 22, 2016 at 7:48 AM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Sunday July 17, 2016

Tour de Fleece - one of the hardest days


Stage 15: Bourg-en-Bresse - Culoz, 160km (99.4 miles)

On to the next bobbin....

Posted on July 17, 2016 at 7:40 AM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Saturday July 16, 2016

Tour de Fleece - a day to recover


Stage 14: Montelimar - Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux, 208.5km (129.6 miles)

Today was a Guild meeting full of personal spinning challenges - all to the accompaniment of the cycling viewed on the iPad close by for inspiration.
The winners had the dubious pleasure of being photographed in one of G's T-shirts. [Or the Maillot Jaune as we liked to think of it].


Posted on July 16, 2016 at 7:39 AM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Thursday July 14, 2016

Tour de Fleece - Bastille Day - legendary ascent


Stage 12: Montpellier - Mont Ventoux, 184km (114.3 miles)

Bastille Day and I ordered another two skeins of the yarn so I can make a two ply of the colours.

Posted on July 14, 2016 at 7:35 AM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Wednesday July 13, 2016

Lepage at the Barbican


This has to be one of the best things I have seen for a very long time. I might say possibly "ever" but how can one compare all pieces of theatre? I was expecting that it might be overly arty, but - unlike the recent dance piece I saw - it was very accessible with a relatively simple theme (a broken heart) - just beautifully and innovatively staged. Unfortunately it was only on for a week at the Barbican and this seems to have been the last venue in the tour.

The actual title of the piece is Needles and Opium but I didn't want to get any unsavoury characters excited by using it as a title. Originally inspired by the life of Jean Cocteau, the restaged version introduced Miles Davis. This piece in the Guardian tells you more about Lepage and his work.

Posted on July 13, 2016 at 9:34 AM. Category: Art and Culture.

Saturday July 9, 2016

Hampton Court Flower Show


George and I went to Hampton Court this year - a rather spur of the moment decision. The couple above clothed from head to toe in hedging completely fascinated me - we were both amazed at how hot they must have been - I was a bit late in snapping them unfortunately.
I spotted them while looking at this conceptual garden - I liked it a lot but the photo I managed to take is not actually showing it very well - the cut outs revealed an inner core. Called simply "Why?" it was sponsored by Rolawn Ltd, designed by Tony Smith and built by Hortus Infinitus. It "depicts the complexity and wonder of the universe and human brain", apparently, but very impressive whatever the inspiration.


Overall quite a pleasing day out - George's verdict "it wasn't as bad as I expected" (!) and he was able to take his new car for a trip out. I was going to go large on buying plants but only managed 2 clematis (and even then had trouble finding a spot for them in the garden when I got back) - all the roses I wanted (For Your Eyes Only, Birthday Girl) had sold out - all my own roses currently have black spot so maybe no bad thing to delay planting new ones.

Posted on July 9, 2016 at 5:10 PM. Category: The Garden.

Thursday July 7, 2016

Tour de Fleece - a little lumpy


Stage 6: Arpajon-sur-Cere - Montauban, 190.5km (118.4 miles)

Well the cycling may be lumpy but luckily my spinning is not...

Posted on July 7, 2016 at 7:21 AM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Wednesday July 6, 2016



Had a rather hectic evening out at Sadlers Wells with my sister - who had spent most of the day battling with traffic. We both found it a rather extraordinary evening of dance.

Barbarians is a trilogy by Hofesh Shechter: three wildly different takes on intimacy, passion and the banality of love - apparently - not wholly clear but that did not really matter.

Revealing his choreography at its most elegant and intimate, the barbarians in love opens the evening. Six white-clad figures move as one to the strains of an ecclesiastic baroque score. This world is soon exploded when innocence is lost, and its trance-like dup-step grooves transition into the final piece, a darkly emotional duet.

Posted on July 6, 2016 at 11:36 PM. Category: Art and Culture.

Tour de Fleece - we hit the hills


Stage 5: Limoges - Le Lioran, 213.5km (132.7 miles)

Finished first bobbin and on to the second skein in a lighter natural colour with a different mix: Blue Faced Leicester (40%), Merino (40%), and Silk (40%).

Posted on July 6, 2016 at 7:20 AM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Tuesday July 5, 2016

Tour de Fleece - chance of crosswinds


Stage 4: Saumur - Limoges, 237.5km (147.6 miles)

I had a bit of a distraction today as a lovely parcel arrived from P&M woolcraft.
I have lusted after a vintage Louet like this for years and discovered while at Woolfest that the company had issued a "limited edition" of them for their anniversary. Suppliers were allowed just a few of them each and P&M had one. They are not cheap but I thought that my fidelity to the idea probably warranted my buying a wheel new for a change.
My expectations of the wheel - for all its expense and newness - were not high. Louet have always produced budget wheels. However it spins beautifully and I am delighted with it - and it is even signed with the edition number - delightful marketing idea eh?

Posted on July 5, 2016 at 2:08 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Saturday July 2, 2016

Tour de Fleece - riding up the coast


Stage 1: Mont-Saint-Michel - Utah Beach, 188km (116.8 miles).

I bought the fibre at Woolfest - it's a mix of Blue Faced Leicester (40%), Merino (40%), and Bamboo (40%) from Art Fibres. I have a second skein in a lighter natural colour with a different mix: Blue Faced Leicester (40%), Merino (40%), and Silk (40%).
I am finding my first skein difficult to spin - my conclusion is that it's the bamboo I do not like. I had a roving from Alison (in black and I am guessing it's the same fibre in this mix giving the dark colour) and I really did not enjoy the experience of spinning it. Thus not sure if I will make it to the second skein during the Tour.


Posted on July 2, 2016 at 6:59 AM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.