Sunday February 5, 2017
It's all in the preparation....
As I have not touched the dyes since we did the last class - which turns out to be 5 years ago (!) - I dyed two blanks at home, using steaming to fix instead of a microwave. Last time we used pure merino, and so I also wanted to check out the 25% nylon blend. I used the dyes I had already mixed up from back then and astonishingly it all worked fine; some of the solutions had gone a little granular. [Nevertheless, I shall be mixing fresh dye for the class].
I took both blanks and knitted the start of a sample sock for demonstration purposes. What interested me mostly was that I thought I liked the blue blank the best. I thought I was getting tired once I got to do the red one and rather rushed it. However, for the resulting sock, I think the red one is much nicer. I think it is the very bright blue, and the way it interacts with the white that is the mistake in the colour combination.
Wednesday February 1, 2017
My sister suggested another 'birthday treat' and we visited Sir John Soane's House - now a museum. He was one of those interesting eccentrics who collected wonderful items - some exceedingly rare - such that after his death his property was retained, restored and expanded to make the museum.
It was most famous to me for housing the Rakes Progress - but it seems you have to be on a guided tour in order to be allowed to see it - and the timing or even existence of the tours seemed to be akin to the description of the eponymous Three Men (not yet in the boat) trying to find the right train out of Waterloo - so we did not... (see it), though the 4 paintings of the Humours of an Election were on display. Several items seemed to be absent from the collection at the time we visited - but then entry is free so one can hardly complain.
We then went for lunch in China Town, which was great, although sadly the restaurant we had planned to visit had disappeared from the area in the 20 years since we last went there (!).
Tuesday January 31, 2017
Books in January
- The China Thrillers by Peter May [read by Simon Vance]
There was a change of narrator for the next (and final) three books.
There are many comments on line from readers constantly asking Peter May to write more books about Margaret and Li Yan, and I can see why. Since he was not expecting to end the series after 6 books, the characters remain with a story still to be told.
He writes about how the books came about here, and in the comments he points out that these books were written over 10 years ago and summarises the situation:
All these years later I have no appetite for going back to China and updating myself on the changes that have taken place since the series concluded. I was witness to an intense period of change in which the old and new Chinas were still doing battle with each other. I think the new China has won that particular scrap, and much that made the old China fascinating has gone. Like the country itself, I have moved on.
For all that, a short story The Ghost Marriage written for a French magazine has recently been published in English, and follows the characters later on in their history.
- Dr Finlay's Casebook by A J Cronin
A collection of the famous stories set in and around the fictional Scottish town of Levenford and village of Tannochbrae during the inter-war years. The stories are heart-warming, funny and touching, albeit obviously rather dated and non-PC.
Dr Finlay's Casebook is an omnibus including Adventures of a Black Bag and Dr Finlay of Tannochbrae.
One thing that I did notice was that some of the stories did not seem to be self-consistent, especially with respect to Finlay's love life. That may just be as it is (like Sherlock Holmes stories) or it may be that being collections of short stories they are not presented in the right chronological order.
- Paul Temple and the Sullivan Mystery by Francis Durbridge
A thrilling case that takes Paul and Steve to exotic Egypt,
This is a "new" (2006) eight-part BBC recording of a lost archive Paul Temple mystery, starring Crawford Logan and Gerda Stevenson.
They inhabit a sophisticated, well-dressed world of chilled cocktails and fast cars, where the women are chic and the men still wear cravats. And where Sir Graham Forbes of Scotland Yard always needs Pauls help with a tricky case. [By Timothy!].
Saturday January 28, 2017
So this was a treat I booked for myself - an afternoon of craft learning macrame - which I have longed to try ever since 1976. It's actually much simpler than I thought - in so far as, like knitting, you only have to learn 2 stitches and you know the whole thing (in theory!).
The class was very friendly - run by the London Craft Club in a space provided at the Museum of London - and this was the result (a small thing but mine own.... YES it is supposed to look like that...):
This was the 1970s magazine article that inspired me all those years ago, but sadly I had very little imagination at that time so failed to just go ahead and "do it".
I finished my excellent day by going out with a team of 5 fellow quizzers to a fish and chip supper and charity quiz run by the Tadworth Children's Trust.
We did not win... :o(
Sunday January 22, 2017
It seems I am set fair for a week of birthday treats - and this is the first.
Rob has joined the Wetlands Trust and had such a great time he thought I needed to go too - I thought this was a trip to the Docklands area but in fact it is quite local in Barnes. One key thing was to go "while the Lego birds were still on display" which resulted in some photos that look at first glance to be very pixelated until you remember what they are.
I saw several life birds - and after being shown a Jack Snipe through a spotting scope from one hide, I proudly managed to find one (or "the same one") myself through my own glasses from another. We saw a couple of standard Snipe, which I have to admit is also a life bird. There were 2 bitterns but photos are of the "take my word for it that's a bittern" variety.
The Wetlands also boast a pair of otters from Asia which are a great attraction at feeding time (and being from warmer climes, really did not like putting their paws in the water!).
We had to co-ordinate the day out with the weather, and we were lucky to have a really fine day - cold but very sunny and most importantly without the bitter wind.
We rounded the day out by eating pasta at Jamie's in Richmond.
Saturday December 31, 2016
Books in December
- Coffin Road by Peter May
While waiting for the final book in the Enzo series (Cast Iron - out January) I was inspired to read his latest book. It was excellent of course. Enough said.
It seems to have taken me a while to realise but looking back I see that a lot of his novels have "eco" themes - they run all through the China novels, and appear strongly in this one. I do find that I can fail to recognise an author's main interest or genre, which I guess is because often the first book I read is outside their "norm".
- Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
A collection of nine short stories (which Atwood explains need to be called tales) - the first 3 being loosely linked.
Tales that reveal the grotesque, delightfully wicked facets of humanity - and largely focussed on "old folk":
- Dark Lady
- Lusus naturae
- The freeze-dried groom
- I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth
- The Dead Hand Loves You
- Stone Mattress
- Torching the Dusties
- The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly
Well we all love Harry so well done for Connelly persevering with the character just for our sakes when realistically he should be long retired. We already saw him leave the PD (sadly on a low) at the end of the last book, but he is still involved in upholding truth, justice, and his own personal American way.
I am not sure Connelly can take his old characters now, but I understand the next book introduces new ones - we just have to learn to love them as much....
- Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
Snowfall brings a train to a halt near the village of Hemmersby. Several passengers take shelter in a deserted country house, where the fire has been lit and the table laid for tea - but no one is at home.
A British Library Crime Classic from 1937 reissued in 2014.
'The horror on the train, great though it may turn out to be, will not compare with the horror that exists here, in this house.'
- A Cool Head by Ian Rankin [read by Peter Forbes]
Gravy worked in the graveyard - hence the name. He was having a normal day until his friend Benjy turned up in a car Gravy didn't recognise. Benjy had a bullet hole in his chest, but lived just long enough to ask Gravy to hide him and look after his gun. Gravy had looked after things for Benjy before, but never a gun.
- Christmas: Five on Brexit Island, and the Pride and Puddings
These were some terrific Christmas gifts.
I am guessing after the issue of Ladybird books "for grown ups" - designed to appeal to exactly my age group - the excursion into Famous Five in a similar format was a natural progression. A fun idea and pretty well executed - and on a matter dear to my heart.
The history of puddings by Regula Ysewijn is .... well what can I say?! Perfick!.
An abridged reading by Adjoa Andoh for Book at Bedtime. This took me back to my teenage years when I first read this Daphne Du Maurier historical novel (loaned to me by my friend Elaine). I do remember thinking it was a great read but hearing it again I can only think it was because teenage girls in general like romantic fiction. I also did not properly remember how it ended - and apart from anything else I believe it is known for its unusual ending. At the time it was suggested to me that it was a "sequel" to Jamaica Inn, (which I did not read until many years later), but I found no evidence of that either by reviewers or in the text - I think it is simply one of "the four Cornish novels".
The Cinderella Killer
A job in Panto seems the perfect way to spend the Christmas season for Charles, but the cast of Cinderella are a motley crew from reality TV and Charles finds himself having to explain the traditions of Panto to their baffled American star whose career is on a downward trajectory. It's not long before the slapstick makes way for a murder.
Bill Nighy as the weak willed, and clearly attractive hero, Charles Paris. Based on Simon Brett's novel, once again brilliantly adapted by Jeremy Front, and directed by Sally Avens.
Friday December 16, 2016
Tis the season.
This had mixed reviews but I think only because you have to be of the right mind set to enjoy it. That's not an elitist remark, but it's just like many forms of humour that are both loathed and also have huge cult following. I think the main complaint was that it was not "about anything" - which was (more than) fine if that's what you were expecting.
I enjoyed it hugely and the icy wasteland of a set was fantastic.
"Kookily compelling." Daily Telegraph