Hi Folks, we're back from a great week's camping in south Devon - a much needed break. The weather was kind to us - no rain, and we we staying on a great campsite with a particularly good shaded pitch, which meant the tent didn't get excessively hot during the day. Eden loves camping - she thinks the tent is hilarious and enjoys running in and out, as well as having plenty of room to run around on the grass outside. We were within walking distance of the beach at Dawlish Warren, so spent many happy hours down there making sandcastles etc. The sea was a bit cold for Eden, but I enjoyed a good few swims - the water not so cold once you got used to it. To be honest I felt I was duty bound to swim and "make the most of it" regardless of the sea temperature! I'm glad I did though. We also really enjoyed trips to Shaldon Zoo, Canonteign Falls and Dawlish. So nice just to have a "slow" week and just enjoy one another's company.
Finished a few books recently. I realised I'd forgotten to mention a book I read the other day - Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. He's one of my favourite authors of recent times, so when I spotted one of his books that I hadn't read in the clearance section in Waterstones for 50p I couldn't resist. As usual, it's an excellent read - amusing and absorbing. I hear he's got a new book out soon so will have to get that on order from the library. Another 50p bargain that I got at the same time and read while camping was Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe's Havoc - interesting to read having read Mark Urban's history of the 95th Rifles the other day. You can't really go wrong with any of the titles in the Sharpe series. A book I'd got from the library the other day and also finished while camping was Mary and John Gribbin's Flower Hunters - a history of eleven lesser known botanists of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries who explored the outer reaches of the (then) known world to bring back plants for medicine, knowledge, and latterly to feed the Victorians' love of orchids and rhododendrons! An excellent and fascinating read - if a slightly girly title!
Saturday, September 03, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
So yesterday I mentioned that I was some way down on my usual book tally this year - mainly due to the stresses of the house move, I was so wound up for a few months at the beginning of the year I couldn't concentrate to read any books. Anyway, having finished all the massive Song of Ice and Fire tomes, I've turned to some shorter books to get my count up (although most books are shorter than the George RR Martin ones!).
The other week in the Big Issue magazine there was a really interesting article about William Golding's less well known second novel The Inheritors, which sounded really interesting. So I duly reserved a copy from the library and have finished it over the weekend. It's quite a poignant story - Golding imagines what it might have been like for the Neanderthals to encounter homo sapiens, and writes from the Neanderthal point of view. I won't go into the details, but I came away feeling sad for them, not being able to compete with the (slightly evil) "modern" men. I heard that Golding was interested in the problem of evil, which is clearly a major theme in his most famous work Lord of the Flies. It's also a theme in the inheritors, with the Neanderthals painted as (relatively) simple but loving and honest, who are attracted, confused and afraid of the more complicated and aggressive homo sapiens. I'm glad I read it.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
I'm pleased that this last week's been much quieter than the week before - no more riots. Mixed weather, but no flooding here in the Midlands - unlike our old stomping grounds in the south which have suffered from flash flooding!! Things have gone downhill I think since we left - not just flooding but lots of public sector strikes, not least the binmen!! Glad we moved!
Checking back, I've only read 9 books so far this year - so some way behind last year. Of those 9 books though, 5 have been massive George RR Martin books.. speaking of which I've whizzed through the very latest book A Dance with Dragons (first borrower from the library, always a good feeling). Fantastic (and shocking) plot development - but I wish he'd stop killing my fave characters off!! (and I didn't even see it coming - left me speechless!). I was on a bit of a mission to finish it - firstly because as a 1000 page hardback book it was really heavy in my bag when running to and from the station in the mornings, secondly because there were loads of people waiting to borrow it after me from the library, and thirdly because I've already got two other books from the library to read..
Eden's been potty training this week, and has been doing great. Really proud of her. Looking forward to going family camping soon too.. will keep you posted..
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Hi folks, the news here in Blighty this week has been all about the terrible riots that have caused masses of damage around the country. Here in Birmingham we were hard hit - my office is right in the city centre (fortunately on the second floor), but there was loads of damage close by, starting literally opposite where the shop had all its windows smashed. All pretty scary, and there's probably no definitive answer as to why they occurred, but certainly a large part of it seems to be wanton criminality and vandalism - not a great advert for our society.
I was in London on Tuesday, and there was a huge police presence as I walked back to Euston station - hundreds of police officers around, slightly unnerving.
However, all seems to be back to normal now which is good, but we're all left counting the cost - some people have lost loved ones, their homes, their livelihoods.
Apart from being glued to the 24hour news channels, we've had a fairly normal week - happily where we live is far enough from the trouble. While I was waiting for the latest George RR Martin novel to become free at the library, I read Mark Urban's Rifles - the excellent history of the 95th Rifles - a crack unit in Wellington's army during the Napoleonic Wars era. I've read quite a bit of naval histories of that time (Nelson's era as well), but anyone who's read the Sharpe novels or seen their dramatisations will know about the 95th -Sharpe is famously one of the green jackets. A fascinating and quite quick read - especially compared to the giant tomes of the Song of Ice and Fires series I am reading - the current volume is over 900 pages long.
Busy week at work, then yesterday morning Kate and I took a car load of our stuff to the local car boot sale to sell - we'd had a big clear out on Friday night. The morning was a success and we made over £140 - going towards the decking we're going to get done in the back garden.
Sunday, August 07, 2011
Hi Folks, it's raining outside (anyone spot the song reference??) and it's time for a long overdue blog post. June and July have really sped by! We're doing well, feeling more and more settled in our new home and still just glad to be up here. We've done lots of work in the back garden, which is now turfed, and have planted lots of flowers in the front garden borders too. Our courgette plants have been mega-productive over the last few weeks so we've had lots of courgette based meals - in fact friends who we've had over for dinner must think we're obsessed with them!!
Kate won me an mp3 player the other week, so some days on my train journeys I've been able to listen to music now. In the meantime I've been working my way through George R R Martin's excellent Song of Ice and Fire series - all mammoth tomes of 600 + pages. Anyway, for completeness, they are A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords (parts 1 and 2), and a Feast for Crows - the latest book in the series has only just come out but I've just borrowed it from the library.. in the meantime I'm just finishing a book about Wellington's elite rifle unit in the Napolionic Wars.
The other day we went to see the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (cbso) perform an evening of John Williams film scores, which was amazing - and even better because it was another of Kate's competition wins (the last thing I won was tickets to BBC's Gardeners World Live at the NEC in June, which was also great). Part of the competition win was also a £50 voucher for a posh restaurant, but we saved that for another night and went and saw Harry Potter in 3D at the cinema afterwards which was also amazing.
Still having a few frustrations with my rides to the station - having got a replacement bike after its the theft, that subsequently got vandalised at the station the other day too. So whilst I'm taking the issue of cycle security up with the train station operator I'm running to the station again. Now that the farmers have ploughed the fields near us, it's also been easier to got for runs at the weekend across the fields - although some of the paths are still quite overgrown with stinging nettles and thistles.. which punish my legs a bit!
Oh, since my last post we've got a new ginger kitten - George. He's lots of fun, has far too much energy, and I'm pleased to say that he's getting on very well with our other cat Flo. Eden loves them both and has just this week started to carry George around for cuddles - he's very patient with her!
Well that's about it for now! Catch up in a few months.. or hopefully sooner!
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Hello everyone, been a hectic couple of months since my last post in March. We finally moved house on 31st March which was a massive relief, despite some last minute hiccups from our nasty mortgage provider. Having moved, we've had so much to do on the house we've hardly had a spare moment. The house was in a poor state, having been unoccupied for at least 6 months and poorly cared for for the last 7 years before that. So we've had to redecorate from top to bottom, install central heating, install double glazing, rip out the old kitchen, chip out the nasty vinyl kitchen floor, lay lovely new tiles in the kitchen, install a new kitchen, put down carpets, dig over the front garden, turf the front garden, dig over the back garden, put up the shed in the back garden, board the loft, mend the stairs, treat the upstairs floorboards for woodworm - and on and on.. in the meantime we stayed with Kate's parents for Eden's sake, since the house was most definitely not toddler proof!
Anyway, 7 weeks after the move we have finally been able to properly move in and have now been in a week. Such a relief, but still lots to do - kitchen needs the work surfaces installing and sink plumbing in, spare bedroom needs decorating, back garden needs turfing, and lots more besides.
I've been getting used to working in a city (rather than working in the New Forest). Cycling to the station has been good, despite the hills, although my bike was nicked last Friday so that was a bit of a setback. So far this week I've been running to and from the station. It's been good to have some reading time on the train journey - in the lead up to the move I'd been so stressed out that I'd hardly been able to read for a couple of months. Anyway, I've obviously relaxed enough to read again and have read A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin (absolutely excellent - got the next book in the series reserved from the library), and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez which wasn't what I expected at all and had a highly unexpected (and disappointing) end. Picked up 4 books for £2 from Waterstones last week in their clearance, so have plenty of material to keep me going on the commute.
Tuesday lunchtimes I've been relishing the "Tuesday Talks" at Birmingham Cathedral, which I've found to be scholarly and thought-provoking. Currently they are doing a series on "double listening" - listening both to God and to the needs of our culture.
So that's about it! Eden has grown into a bubbly 18month old and has loved staying with her Grandma and Grandad and seeing her Great Grandad so often!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Hi Folks - didn't realise I hadn't blogged since January! Sorry about that. A special hello to readers in Seattle :)
Since my last post we've been inching towards finally moving to the West Midlands. We're not quite there yet, but we're nearly there, and hopefully we will exchange contracts soon. It's been a bit frustrating to be honest, taking longer than we feel it should have! But hopefully all's well that ends well.
For the past couple of weeks we were visiting Kate's sister and her husband in Naples, Florida, which was an amazing time. Not only was Eden brilliant on the flights, but we just had such a good time hanging out and doing exciting things like visiting Seaworld and visiting the Everglades. It was good timing too, because things were getting critical with our house move and we'd have been climbing the walls and tearing our hair out in frustration if we'd been at home. Just a relief to be away from it all to be honest.
Because of all the goings on with our move I've not been able to read any books for a couple of months - just been highly agitated so haven't been able to concentrate :(
Anyway, we'd appreciate your prayers for us to finally seal the deal with our house sale and purchase and for the move to go smoothly and quickly.
Will post again soon, hopefully after we have finally moved!