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shewhomust

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Riding the wave [Dec. 14th, 2017|12:16 pm]
shewhomust
For the last few days I have felt as if I were surfing just ahead of a breaking wave, managing each day to do those things that absolutely had to be done, but never reaching those tasks I simply wanted to complete. I know nothing about surfing, and have no idea whether this is a valid image, but that's how I feel. Now we are on the train, and so is our luggage, and if the breaker is crashing on the sand behind us, it's too late to worry about it. Our suitcase contains wrapping paper as well as unwrapped gifts, and cards to be written for the people we will see while we are away. No doubt we have forgotten things, but the only one we've identified is the pass-code for the wifi, and that can be solved by paying for it (annoying but not serious). All will be well.

Next task on the list, comment on the City of Durham Neighbourhood Plan...

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Are we nearly there yet? [Dec. 12th, 2017|09:11 pm]
shewhomust
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On Thursday morning we take the train to London for our pre-Christmas visit: not a particularly early train, but I don't want to leave more than the last of the packing until Thursday morning.

I had hoped by now to have sent at least the overseas Christmas cards, and the gifts which need to be posted. Failing that, to have them wrapped and ready to go to the post. So that will be tomorrow's task. Also tomorrow, we have booked for Gail-Nina's Christmas lecture at the Lit & Phil, on Cinderella:
While modern variations may question the happy ending and dismiss the moral, 'Cinderella' remains one of the key story-types of our culture. What could offer a more heart-warming prelude to Christmas than a closer look at the original rags-to-riches narrative enshrined in fairy tales and movies, panto and opera? It's not all just big frocks and charming princes, however - like most traditional tales this one casts some darker shadows, raising questions about rank, love and identity (not to mention shoes.) This richly illustrated talk discusses the roots and variant versions of the tale, symbolic and social interpretations and its wide dissemination as book, drama, image, metaphor and even postcard.

which should be fun. If we go to town by train, I can renew my railcard, which managed to expire without my noticing. Then home in time for the pub quiz. Can we do all this? Who knows?

We are outside the snowpocalypse zone, but snow has fallen, and has been lying around. [personal profile] durham_rambler has been out this evening, and reports that the weather is improving. I am assuming that I will be brave enough to leave the house tomorrow - but we all know I'm a terrible wimp really.

Where did today go? A few days ago [personal profile] durham_rambler reminded a number of our clients that they might want us to send out newsletters before Christmas, and several of them have taken us up on that.

And I have baked a Christmas cake. Technically I have baked two, as the mixture filled two loaf tins, but I persist in regarding it as one cake in two tins. For the record, this quantity, which is what I was aiming for, achieved by adjusting the usual mashup to half quantities on Jane Grigson's recipe, and increasing the Maggie's Farm recipe by not very much - an ounce or so all round. I used mostly spelt flour plus some hazelnut flour, and left out the ground almonds (deliberately; but I've just realised I also left out the nutmeg, which was an accident). After two hours in the oven at mark 3 it smelled done, and I had a look, and stabbed it with a skewer and how do you tell if a rich fruit cake is cooked or nor? But I decided it might be, took it out and poured brandy on its wounds. The house smells of cake, which is very pleasant. It feels self-indulgent, to bake a Christmas cake instead of a pudding (and it definitely is either/or: I'm up for cooking either of them from scratch, but not both) but I enjoy bought pudding almost as much as home made, which isn't true of cake.

So, no, not nearly there yet. Never mind. Bed time.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Caution: shelving in progress [Dec. 10th, 2017|06:45 pm]
shewhomust
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We have now reached the point where all the books which a) we can find and b) belong on the new shelves have been shelved. Also, work has been suspended in the interests of making the room fit to accommodate D. and [personal profile] valydiarosada who will be sleeping in it tomorrow night. But this is how it looks so far:


Shelfie


The window wall is symmetrical, so there's another set of shelves off the picture to the left, but otherwise you can see the whole thing. There's enough length of shelving to accommodate all the books which were previously on a variety of bookshelves in that room, as there should be, and room for more, which makes a pleasant change: SF to the left, crime fiction to the right and general fiction in between. The bookcase which used to be in the alcove is now squeezed in between the cupboard and the dresser, and contains a variety of biography, memoirs, essays and a few volumes of history which might as well go there for the time being.

I'm pleased with how it looks, and with the details of the top and base. Only one complaint: We discussed how high the shelves should be, and I said that every shelf needed to be tall enough to take every book - not big picture books, but normal hardbacks, as I'd be mixing hardbacks and paperbacks on every shelf. By the time he came to make the shelves (a couple of months later), the carpenter had forgotten this, and made the top two shelves smaller, to make the best use of the space. I understand the logic, but it means running two alphabetical sequences, the smaller books on the top two shelves, and the larger ones below, until they merge - and right now we aren't so desperate to maximise space that this seems worthwhile. Maybe I'll see things differently in a year or so, as the shelves fill up...

It is a joy to be reunited with many favourite books which have been inaccessible in boxes for the last year or so. Also, I have found a copy of The Dean's Watch.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Possibly... [Dec. 9th, 2017|03:33 pm]
shewhomust
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English Heritage send me promotional e-mails about their holiday cottages, and today's spotlights 'cottage of the month', the Prior's Lodge at Mount Grace Priory. Attractions include:
Meet the famous priory stoats who inhabit the passages under Mount Grace and are possibly the best-known colony of stoats in Yorkshire and even the British Isles...

I admit, it's tempting...

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Noises off [Dec. 7th, 2017|10:14 am]
shewhomust
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Exciting noises are coming up to the attic from next floor down, where two carpenters are fitting bookshelves in the spare room.

We have been waiting such a long time for this. It took us forever to find someone who was actually prepared to quote for the job: the joiner recommended by friends who visited, measured, asked supplementary questions and then vanished, the workshop who expressed willingness to call but could not do the job within the year... Then we found the Carpenters House, and they were very positive: yes, they could certainly do the job before Christmas, and indeed before the overnight guests who are scheduled to require the spare bed - well, next week, as it happens. We were in their order book, and all was well, and then time slipped, as time does, and I was on the verge of saying that maybe we'd better reschedule, what with visitors and us going to London and then Christmas...

Then they called and said they'd be here on Friday (tomorrow) and we started moving furniture and getting ready. and they called again and said, how about Thursday...

And now work is in progress. Such excitement.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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The man on the train [Dec. 6th, 2017|12:45 pm]
shewhomust
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The Guardian reports the death of Johnny Hallyday. They seem a bit bemused by his standing in France, and evidently feel that there is something faintly absurd about being 'the French Elvis'. And no doubt there is, but then, when you think about the later life of the American Elvis, Johnny Hallyday never became that absurd. The news story quotes Emmanuel Macron's tweet that "On a tous en nous quelque chose de Johnny," but for some reason the French president has chosen to link to a song other than the one he is alluding to. I'm not a fan of stadium rock, but can't resist Quelque chose de Tennessee. YouTube offers a choice of versions, and I am tempted by this duet with songwriter Michel Berger, but opted in the end for this one:



It's immensely sentimental, and I don't suppose the America it depicts has ever existed outside the cinema, but it feels sincere. There's an echo of the same persona in Patrice Leconte's casting of Johnny Hallyday opposite Jean Rochefort in L'homme du train, in which he more than held his own.

Not so much the French Elvis, in fact, as the French Johnny Cash.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Elizabeth Goudge: The Little White Horse [Dec. 3rd, 2017|06:11 pm]
shewhomust
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I think of The Little White Horse as a book to which people have a great emotional attachment, a book they speak of as something special, magical: other people, that is, not me. I read it long ago, possibly even as a child, too long ago anyway to remember when it was I first read it. What I do remember is thinking well, that was all right, but what was the fuss about? One or two touches of real magic - the little white horse, half glimpsed in the darkness, stayed with me from that otherwise forgotten reading - but it didn't become part of my world.

I have just re-read it, and my first reaction was no, I still don't get it. But a quick poke ariund the internet suggests I may be looking for the wrong qualities. Two interesting reviews (Maev Kennedy in The Guardian and Mari Ness at Tor.com) place it within a series on comfort reading. My own choice of comfort reading is Peter Wimsey and the Chalet School, but I can see how The Little White Horse might work.

This would be the point at which to insert a cut, signifying that from here on I will assume you know the book, and / or don't mind hearing how it ends. Also, it's getting quite long.Collapse )

In short, I found much to enjoy, to be entertained by and to puzzle over - but still not to love.



footnotesCollapse )

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Not quite December [Nov. 30th, 2017|12:03 pm]
shewhomust
..but the illuminated reindeer have appeared on the North Road roundabout, there is Christmas music in the shops, and the snow is settling. Yesterday we were peering out of the window, trying to decide whether the stuff falling from the sky was sleet or snow, but today there is no doubt, big white flakes in the sky and a thick blanket on the roofs opposite Ialso on my skylights).

We had already decided not to go swimming this afternoon ([personal profile] durham_rambler is expecting a delivery). What will tomorrow bring?

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Two sunny days [Nov. 26th, 2017|08:49 pm]
shewhomust
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Yesterday morning was cold but bright, and we decided to walk to the restaurant for our lunch date. The shortest way (also the way with most steps) is through the park:

Mystery man


The headless statue is a bit of a mystery, as no-one knows where it came from or who it represents - but that's another story.

Today we went into Newcastle for the annual Open Studios event in the Ouseburn. I managed to buy one or two Christmas presents - not many, but at least I have now started the Christmas shopping. S. joined us, and we had much to talk about, as it has been too long since we saw her. We lunched at the City Farm, and I took this photograph from their doorstep:

Sunxhine in the Ouseburn


It wasn't until I saw the two photo together that I realised: it's all about the trees!

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Lumiere: The Peninsula [Nov. 25th, 2017|08:11 pm]
shewhomust
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On the first day of Lumiere - Thursday ten days ago, but who's counting? - we reckoned that things were just going to get busier as the weekend progressed, and that today was therefore our best option for visiting what were likely to be the most popular items, in the centre of town. This was the area which was entrance by ticket only in the early evening, so we ate first and then headed in to town just after the gates opened. The first thing we saw - and we stepped into St Margaret's churchyard for a distant preview - was the moon:

Our Moon


This is the closer view, as it looked down over entrance point and railings of Framwelgate Bridge. Hannah Fox's 'Our Moon' is a digitally generated face projected onto the Castle wall: four faces in all, a different one for each night of the festival, and each one composed from the scanned faces of a number of local people, whose moving expressions drove the movements of the moon face. All of which seems over elaborate - and why create an incentive to revisit that part of the festival which you know will be oversubscribed, instead of encourage visitors to explore more widely? But I liked the way I caught sight of the face from different points in the city, and came to respond to it as a friendly presence.

There's more...Collapse )

But as we walked home past the allotments, there was one last glimpse of Our Moon.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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