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shewhomust

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Silent posting [Nov. 11th, 2019|11:02 am]
shewhomust
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Remembrance Day photo of the year.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Looking ahead [Nov. 8th, 2019|02:57 pm]
shewhomust
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Once Halloween is past, you can no longer put off thinking about Christmas. I'm not saying this is a good thing, but it is the case. We have booked railway tickets to London (we may have mislaid them already, but that's a whole other story); we have fixed several engagements for things to do while we are there (quite apart from the Carol Evening which is the purpose of our visit). I have ordered Christmas cards online. This all feels premature.

D. is with us for a few days. He is here for a conference on Bronze Age archaeology, which is the only looking back element of this post. While he is here, we are making plans for next summer: we have already booked a week on Lindisfarne for midsummer, and a few days in fancy surroundings in Scotland to celebrate D.'s significant birthday in August. Now we are looking for somewhere on the Isle of Bute to recover from that excitement. This too feels - not premature exactly, because we know what we want to do, so let's organise accommodation while we still have some choice: but my inner voice is still saying what, already?.

Further ahead, and altogether more speculatively, the Guardian's Travel section has a feature on Nantes. We usually avoid big cities (which is why, if I'm remembering correctly, we have never been to Nantes, though we may have driven round the bypass!) but I liked the idea of art installations in the Loire estuary: you can admire them, it seems, from a cruise between Nantes and Saint Nazaire (Saint Nazaire is the tein town of Sunderland). The article also tells me that the Machines de l'Île, of which I had heard, are based on an island (a post-industrial island) in Nantes. And of course, there's muscadet...

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Five things make a week in autumn [Nov. 3rd, 2019|04:55 pm]
shewhomust
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  • Is it really only a week ago that J. came to dinner? We had a lot of catching up to do: we'd been to Kendal, and to Hartlepool, and she'd been to Madeira which is even more impressive. Her home improvements rumble on, but we seem to have missed the drama surrounding the replacement of the conservatory roof. And replacement of her kitchen is about to start...


  • There were roast sweet potatoes for dinner. There were other things, too, but the remains of the sweet potato went into the next loaf of bread. I decided not to worry about the smoky paprika with which I had Seasoned them, even though it is quite hot, and that was a good decision, because you couldn't taste it in the finished loaf. You couldn't taste the sweet potato, either, but it does affect the texture of the crumb, making it looser and more open. Of course, this is partly because, although I tried to adjust proportions of flour and liquid to allow for the potato, the dough was still quite wet and sticky. Not worth roasting a sweet potato specially, but certainly worth erring on the side of generosity if you are roasting some. As if that weren't always the case.


  • I spent the afternoon of Hallowe'en at a conference on antisocial behaviour organised by the Parish Council: this seemed appropriate. The police were keen to tell us what they are doing to tackle drunken and aggressive behaviour in the streets, especially around the Bus Station, and it sounds as if there is a genuine problem, and they are doing their best to deal with it. But what all the local residents attending wanted to know was, what could they do about late nhight nise in the streets, and why had they discontinued their clampdown on noise from house parties? A certain amount of light was shed on this, which was helpful. The University had been invited to send a speaker, and declined: the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience) was present in the audience.


  • We did not leave the European Union on October 31st: that's something to celebrate. I opened a bottle of wine: "European wine!" specified [personal profile] durham_rambler. Od course. We had a Greek white, from the Wine Society.


  • The household at the top of the seize any excuse for fireworks, so naturally we were under fire last night. Were fireworks always this noisy? My childhood memories of firework parties have almost no soundtrack: there were bangers, I suppose, but we weren't allowed them, and maybe some of the fountain things made a sort of whooshing sound... Anyway, at least I could watch last night's fireworks taking off (I may have missed their more spectacular effects, because of the angle of my viewpoint), which made the noises less alarming.


This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Breakfast surprise [Oct. 30th, 2019|12:13 pm]
shewhomust
The view from our kitchen window is of a wooded hillside (it's actually the railway embankment, but easier on the eye than that suggests). Some mornings the low sun on the trees is dramatic, especially against a dark sky: [personal profile] durham_rambler commented that this was one of those mornings. Standing by the sink, closer to the window, I looked out, and could see what he couldn't: an arc of rainbow. And then, looking again, realised that I could see the whole bow, positioned as if by design to span my entire view.

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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It's all part of my autumn almanac [Oct. 28th, 2019|09:14 pm]
shewhomust
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  • When the vegetable stall appears at the Farmers' Market, you know it's autumn: the farm doesn't produce any summer vegetables, but once summer is over the couple appear with their muddy celeriac, and their wonderful tasty carrots. In less goof news from the Farmers' Market, the man from whom I buy my beef tells me he plans to retire at the end of the year. I will miss him.


  • The swimming pool has reopened after being closed all summer for repairs. It's good to be back: we've been swimming in Chester-le-Street, but Durham pool is not only nearer,it has practical advantages: the changing rooms don't get so wet underfoot, they don't play the radio, the pool is bigger and brighter. There's a big picture window at the deep end, looking out onto trees, which is always a joy but particularly at this time of year. As I swam this afternoon the foliage faded from flaming gold to rusty embers, until the trees were darker than the sky beyond, and it was time to go.


  • The six geese who live on the mud bank under Pennyferry Bridge are still there. "They're not a-laying, though," says [personal profile] durham_rambler, and they don't seem to have any young this year. But given all the building work in progress on either side of the river, I'm just pleased to see that they are still there.


  • This was our first visit to the pool since last Monday. We aim to swim twice a week, but it can be quite a challenge to fit it in to [personal profile] durham_rambler's schedule. Last week he spent three days at the Examination in Public on the County Plan, which has been so long in preparation I can hardly believe it's really happening.


  • Also long-awaited, the work at the station is now complete, and the underpass to the far (northbound) platform has reopened to traffic. During the work, access was on foot only, and by a longer, more up-and-down route. So it's goof to be back to normal. But despite all the work they've been doing with the shiny purple panels and the big colour photographs, it's still a long dark underpass under the railway line.


This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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October songs [Oct. 27th, 2019|05:13 pm]
shewhomust
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We spent last weekend at the Hartlepool Folk Festival, driving down in the morning and back late at night: it's a half hour drive, so that worked well. Events are shared between two venues: evening concerts in the Borough Hall on the Headland (currently heavily scaffolded, but no doubt it will be splendid when it's finished), while the daytime festival fills the National Museum of the Royal Navy:

On the quayside I


HMS Tricomalee is a genuine early nineteenth century frigate, and the dock itself is also original, but the surrounding buildings are pastiche, a perfect little toytown port, with plenty of rooms for concerts and sessions, and a coffee shop in the corner.

Yes, but what about the music?Collapse )

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Another weekend, another festival [Oct. 18th, 2019|06:01 pm]
shewhomust
I have been in the habit of grumbling that not only does the Lakes Comics Festival occur during Durham's Book Festival, it also falls the same weekend as Hartlepool Folk Festival. This has become so habitual that I almost failed to realise that this year it is not the case! We have booked ourselves weekend passes: we won't stay over, but we will commute. So this evening we are off to Hartlepool...

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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While I've been away... [Oct. 15th, 2019|08:15 pm]
shewhomust
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... my computer seems to have forgotten about the card reader I use to transfer photos from my camera to my desktop (and thence to the internet). Now when I plug it in, it tells me that this drive must be formatted before I can use it. I'm sure I can find a workaround: via my notebook, possibly? Or it might respond to [personal profile] durham_rambler speaking to it severely, bot not tonight, as he is at a meeting. So tonight I will do something else...

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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A damp Sunday [Oct. 13th, 2019|03:29 pm]
shewhomust
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Where yesterday's programme had been full of hard choices, interesting events overlapping each other, today's was, if anything, on the sparse side. This is partly a function of my own tastes, of course, a considered choice not to attend things that were on offer. Making allowance for that, and despite Peter Kessler's opening remark that the festival was bigger, with more guests, than ever before, it felt less rich, less abundant. I enjoyed everything I did, and I certainly seem to have bought more books than usual, but I've also had more time to pause between sessions. Of course, if the sun were shining (or even if it just wasn't raining) I'd be enjoying having time to explore the town...

We had time before the morning's first event to call in at the Clocktower, where I surprised myself by buying two books from Myriad as well as one by Myfanwy Tristam and Zara Slattery (hooray!). Neither of the Myriad books was by Darryl Cunningham, who we were about to hear talking about billionaires, at a panel titled Visible Invisible: a neat device to bring together the secret manipulators of the world with the hidden history of lesbians, as represented by Kate Charlesworth. I'm not sure the two really fitted together, but Bryan Talbot chaired as even-handedly as he could. I'm looking forward to reading Kate's memoir / history, and to seeing whether the family likeness to Bryan's Alice in Sunderland (suggested by the slideshow) really exists.

In the break before our next panel, we returned to the International Marketplace: having already bought books here yesterday from the Belgian artists I'd been listening to, I was quite restrained - well, comparatively!

Finally, the writers' panel: and the first panel which actually behaved as a panel, in the the participants talked among themselves, and there was actual conversation. Participants were Garth Ennis, Rob Williams and Si Spurrier. Garth Ennis is the only one of three whose work I have read, and not very much of it. He deals mostly in material that is too brutal for me to enjoy - respect, yes, enjoy, no - which I occasionally regret, because I love his quiet moments, the conversations between his characters. I thought it would be interesting to hear what he had to say, and it was. Si Spurrier I knew by name, Rob Williams not at all, and while I didn't come away with the urge to buy their work, I did think it would be worth checking the library.

So far, so good. There was one more thing I wanted to see, a project called Next Frame, which invited artists to look at works in the Abbots Hall Art Gallery as if they were the first frame of a comic, and to supply the next panel: this took place yesterday, and the work was to be on show until three o' clock today. We put aside thoughts of a leisurely Sunday lunch, and after a quick sandwich set off for the Abbots Hall in the rain, to find it closed, and with no indication that it might ever have intended to be open. Later, we asked about this at the Clocktower, where by chance the organiser was in conversation with the volunteer we asked, and so was able to apologise: he had not realised when he scheduled the event that the current exhibition having ended, the Gallery would not be open on Sunday. The suggestion that this fact could have been publicised seemed to surprise him, but he agreed that it might have been an idea. Meanwhile, we went to the Tom of Finland exhibition, which was what it was: though the effect of a large number of (almost exclusively) black and white images, regular in size and therefore in arrangement, in a white exhibition space was paradoxically chaste.

On a brighter day I might have lingered in town and explored more of the Windows Trail, but not today. I liked this window, though, only just down the hill from our cottage:

Which came first?


Which came first, the monster or the egg?

This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.
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Being Belgian [Oct. 12th, 2019|07:55 pm]
shewhomust
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We started the day with a panel on banned books - comics censorship in the 21st century. Waiting outside, I fell into conversation with a lady dressed in a black suit, complete with black lace wings and a silver badge: she explained that she was role-playing a character from a comic by a friend of hers, about a retired fairy godmother who joins the Vancouver police force as a detective. If I had had my wits about me, I would have asked if I could photograph her (and the copy of the book she showed me): but I didn't, so there is only this verbal record, and a note that the book might be worth a look, if I came across it. The panel itself brought together five interesting speakers, any one of whom I would cheerfully have listened to at greater length, but who somehow never added up to more than the sum of their parts. Charles Brownstein of the CBLDF was a polished and sympathetic speaker, and Elyon's, a Cameroonian working in Congo Brazzaville, brought a different perspective to the question.

We had just time for a little shopping before our next events: the Oxfam bookshop, where I found a copy of Astérix en Corse, and Page 45 for less random purchases. The [personal profile] durham_rambler stuck with Plan A, and went to the launch of Rain, and I headed back to the Brewery to hear Benoît Peeters talking about Belgian comics from Hergé to Brecht Evens. This fell into the inevitable trap, was too leisurely talking about Hergé and ran out of time to consider the more recent and less internationally known artists: I was going to say I would have liked to hear more about Brecht Evens, and that remains true, but I'm embarrassed to see a familiar cover on his website: did I actually order one of his books from my comics supplier, and is it in a to-be-read pile somewhere? Takeaway fact: the use of the term ligne clair to describe Hergé's style originates with Joost Swarte, in Dutch, so we really ought to be talking about klare lijn.

Lunch was enabled by the Flemish government:

Real Belgian Fries</cite>


I think a chip van is an excellent form of cultural outreach. I was next to Duncan Fegredo in the queue, and was tempted to squee at him: the Graphic Novels Reading Group is currently revisiting some Vertigo titles (there is a Post in Progress on this subject) and I have just enjoyed rereading Enigma. But never come between a man and his chips...

After lunch I went to two separate panels titled Belgian is Best, in which first Paul Gravett and then Alex Fitch attempted to wrangle some sort of coherence from a disparate bunch of creators. Alex Fitch was slightly the more successful of the two, in that he had gained a degree of control over the slide show: we still had a selection of images from the featured artists in constant rotation, but at least now they could call on him to stop! there! no, back!.. Even so, I came away from both panels thinking I could probably match image to artist for about 60% of the slides. Paul Gravett's task was complicated by the inclusion of one artist who required an interpreter, but then Alex Fitch had one who hadn't asked for an interpreter and probably needed one. In addition, this being Belgium, it wasn't always clear what each artist's original language was: I was grateful to Joris Vermassen for commenting, very late in the panel, that he had had to come to England to meet fellow professionals from as small a country as Belgium, and launching us at last into a conversation about that fractured culture.

And that, bar a little book buying in the International Marketplace, and a visit to Booths to buy chili for dinner, was that.

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