Happy Christmas!

Kathyh Merlin BC xmas
Just dropping in to wish everyone a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS

I still have presents to wrap, we're supposed to be going out briefly this evening then we're off to my brother's tomorrow for Christmas lunch. There will be 15 of us there plus one manic dog and a cat that generally ignores everyone. The dog is entirely capable, when in the right mood, of eating the entire Christmas dinner so I'm hoping he won't be able to get at it. On Boxing Day it will be rather quieter as we're only entertaining my mum. Hope everyone has a wonderful time.

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Alarums and Excursions

Kathyh Buffy slayer
It's been a bit of a mixed week!

We had a lovely outing on Saturday to hear Bach's Christmas Oratorio sung in the beautiful chapel of the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich and on Sunday we went for Christmas drinks with some friends. Both of these things improved my missing Christmas spirit greatly, though this year is obviously going to be the year I leave everything to the last minute!

Unfortunately at 1am on Tuesday morning J woke up and said "what's that noise?" as we could hear a rather loud hum coming from outside. When he looked out of the window he was more than a little alarmed to see the road swarming with firemen and then he spotted smoke. The roof of a house only four doors down from us had caught fire and was blazing rather spectacularly. As the houses down our road are terraced this was a bit worrying for us, but far more so for the people who lived either side. One of the houses belongs to our neighbour P who is suffering from terminal cancer. I never thought I'd say it was lucky he is in a hospice being assessed at the moment, but on this occasion it actually was. His sister and nephew who have been looking after him brilliantly were in the house and were told to leave quite quickly. Fortunately the fire didn't spread and they were eventually allowed back in but it took over two hours for the fire to be fully out and their house has suffered water damage. The roof of the house that was on fire has completely gone and only a few joists are left. That house was rented so I don't know the occupants and I'm not totally sympathetic as the guy living there at the moment was arrested after the fireman found cannabis plants. I suspect one of the heaters he was using to grow them caught fire and that's what caused the blaze!

We were a bit tired on Tuesday morning as we didn't get back to bed again until 4am but we'd been planning to go to the British Library to see the exhibition Terror and Wonder: the Gothic Imagination and decided we wouldn't let a mostly sleepless night stop us. We were very glad we went as the exhibition was fascinating. It traced the history of the Gothic tradition through literature and later film and television starting with Horace Walpole in the 18th century and moving on through to more modern authors like Neil Gaiman. It was full of fascinating objects including John Dee's spirit mirror and the travelling library of Sir Julius Caesar (a kind of 17th century version of the Kindle) from the collections of Horace Walpole; editions of his novel The Castle of Otranto; letters from Thomas Chatterton and various editions of Gothic novels like The Monk by Matthew Lewis and The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe (I'd have liked to have known more about her). Obviously the notorious evening at the Villa Diodati featured largely with pages from Mary Shelley's manuscript of Frankenstein, with corrections by Percy Shelley, and a letter from Byron to his publisher denying reports of orgies and saying they'd been put about by that "scoundrel Southey". The novels satirised by Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey were on display which was fun as they really did look like potboilers. The exhibition then moved on to look at Dickens's use of the Gothic and the Gothic elements in the novels of the Bronte sisters, complete with part of the manuscript of Jane Eyre (and no wonder Charlotte had bad eyesight as her handwriting was minuscule). There were examples of Victorian Penny Dreadfuls and most disturbing of all a letter that may have been from the real Jack the Ripper. Moving forward in time there were film posters and scripts, items showing the development of Dracula and rather amusingly a vampire slaying kit borrowed from the Royal Armouries. We were quite entertained to think that the Queen might need her own personal vampire slayer. Everything was brought right up to date with photos from a recent Gothic weekend at Whitby so it was fascinating to see how something that had originally reflected 18th century concerns was still going strong in the 21st century. It was all very interesting, particularly the earlier parts about the development of Gothic, and we both enjoyed it a lot.

Now to go and have hysterics about all the things I haven't done for Christmas and ponder whether any more of our neighbours are growing cannabis in their attics.

Back to the Book Meme again

Kathyh reading
A bit late due to socialising yesterday!

What I Just Finished Reading

Dissolution by C.J. Sansom. First in a series of novels about hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake during the latter years of Henry VIII. Matthew and his assistant Mark are sent to investigate a murder in a monastery marked for dissolution and through this the author paints a very believable and balanced portrait of the monastic world in England on the eve of its destruction. Very atmospheric and with a fascinating solution to the mystery. A very involving read and I'll be raiding my mum's bookshelves for the rest in the series.

Fated by Benedict Jacka. As recommended to me ages ago by gillo I think (I get round to recommendations eventually). Enjoyable first book in urban fantasy series set in London. The protagonist Alex Verus is a seer which is an interesting magical talent to have, though not always as helpful as it might appear. The story rattled along and the lead character and his world were interesting enough to make me definitely want to read more. It was also fun to play spot the references to other fantasy worlds and series!

What I'm Reading Now

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan. Told by the heroine this is the story of a pioneering naturalist of the Victorian Era. The catch is it is set in a fantasy world which only seems analogous to our own because the natural history studied is that of dragons. The world may be different but the problems faced by Isabella the heroine are very much the same as those of women of that era and the way she is beginning to learn to strike out on her own is very enjoyable to read. So far it's absolutely delightful and I will be dashing out to buy the next book in the series.

That's three new series I've started out on in one post. Oh dear!

What I'm Reading Next

It will have to be a physical book not an ebook in order to clear the heap of books that seem to have appeared in our sitting room, but beyond that I have no idea. Does anyone else have book elves that turn one book put down on the floor into a pile of at least 10 books that you don't remember buying or is it just me?

Finally Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate and Happy Thursday to those who don't.

Living the high life

Kathyh Giles tea
As I've been so bad about updating recently I thought I'd resort to my old favourite - bullet points. This week I have...


  • Found myself the unofficial photographer at the secret wedding of very old friends and been one of the witnesses. J and I were the only other people there so we were very honoured. It was all very romantic in a very low-key and unfussy way.



  • Had lunch 28 floors up in the air as part of the secret wedding celebrations. The view was spectacular

    14.11.14 007



  • Been to a Word Theatre event at a theatre in London I didn't even know existed. This was really fascinating with the actors (John Schwab, Sarah Alexander, Alastair Mackenzie, MyAnna Buring and Olivia Williams) alone on stage reading stories by T.C. Boyle, Agatha Christie, Joyce Carol Oates and William Trevor with some saxophone accompaniment from Derek Nash. With so few outside distractions the performances and the words made the stories come alive brilliantly. Olivia Williams, reading William Trevor's very creepy story Gilbert's Mother, brought the character to life before our eyes and raised the hairs on the back of my neck. It was a very immersive and powerful evening and a totally different type of theatrical experience. We both loved it.



  • Yesterday I went with ghost_guessed to see the Late Turner exhibition at the Tate. This was a wonderful overview of Turner's later works, both his larger oil paintings and his smaller, stunning watercolours. Some of the pictures were very familiar and others were quite new to me. Turner painted a wide range of subjects from views of Venice to scenes of whaling, but my favourites were his beautiful watercolours of Switzerland and his amazing seascapes, encompassing calm sea at sunrise to being in the eye of the storm. Not everything worked for me and at times I could see why his comtemporaries thought he had become a little odd, but when it did work his art was an incredible fusion of colour and light.



Hopefully, the book meme will be back next week!

"Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red"

Kathyh Tolkien pattern
As today is the day the final poppy is placed in the commemorative installation "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red" before it is taken down I thought I'd share the photos I took on two visits in September and then last week. The installation consists of 888,246 hand-made ceramic poppies planted in the moat of the Tower of London, each one representing a British and Commonwealth soldier killed in World War I.

In September there weren't so many poppies as they've been planted gradually since July

Sep 5.9.14

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There have been a lot of arguments about the poppies, whether they are too pretty, whether they should be kept permanently etc, but I can only say that I thought that though they were beautiful their implications were terrible. Every single poppy represents a life lost in World War I. There are no words for that.

Finally, the meme again!

Kathyh Merlin BJ1
I'm making myself do this just to make an entry. I'm still reading LJ, but I'm finding it harder and harder to post as I seem to have less and less time to do so!

What I Just Finished Reading

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling. Enjoyable first novel in a new mystery series by J.K. Rowling. Her detective Cormoran Strike is an interesting character and I particularly liked his temporary secretary Robin. The mystery is intriguing and the author brings the dead girl to life with all her faults and virtues. The setting of present day London is well done and the passages involving pursuit by the paparazzi ring particularly true. On the downside I wish an editor had dissuaded the author from attempting to write dialect phonetically as it never really works. That aside I'm looking forward to reading the second novel in the series.

Having also listened to the audiobook read by Robert Glenister I can really recommend it as he brings all the character voices to vivid life. The part about the paparazzi actually comes over more vividly on audio than it does on the page and I love the hint of Cornish he gives Cormoran. Also the dialects work better!

Death on the Downs by Simon Brett. When we were on holiday on the Isle of Wight I thought we were staying in a book free zone until on (fortunately) our last day we came across Babushka Books. Apart from the fact that the proprietor was quite young this was a bookshop that could have come straight out of the pages of a mystery novel, so I felt I had to buy one. Simon Brett is the author of the Charles Paris series, perhaps better known on radio than it is on the page as Charles Paris is memorably played by Bill Nighy, but this novel comes from the Fethering series set in Sussex. The protagonist is Carole Seddon, a 50-something woman who has taken early retirement and is adjusting to a quieter life. She is becoming cautiously friendly with her next-door-neighbour Jude, a much more outgoing character than Carole, and they are brought closer together by curiosity about a murder case. It was nice to read a story based round two slightly older women and their developing friendship and Simon Brett takes some neat potshots at the types who live in a village in Sussex. Having two amateur detectives investigate a case has some problems for series set in the present day, but the enjoyment in this book derives more from the characters than the plot. This was the second in the series and though I wasn't knocked out by it it was an entertaining read. Definitely what Americans would call an English cozy.

What I'm Reading Now

Dissolution by C.J. Sansom. It occurred to me that though I've read Sovereign, the third in this series, I've never actually read the first two. As I generally like to read series in order I thought I'd remedy that deficiency, so ransacked my mum's house for my dad's copy of Dissolution. It's a bit bittersweet reading a series he enjoyed when he's not around to read the latest Shardlake novel but apart from that I'm enjoying it a lot.

What I'm Reading Next

Who knows. Certainly not me.

I haven't been very active fannishly recently but I was awestruck by the sheer number of fics that sb_fag_ends managed to produce for their Zombie Uprising challenge. There's a full list here.

And finally there was this. Just for me as I'm sure most interested people will have seen it but I couldn't resist the chance to drool again at the hotness that is Bradley James.

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Films, films...

Kathyh film oz
Sorry no book meme this week as I had to go round to my mother's to wait for some fish (don't ask). Have my promised films we saw at the London Film Festival list instead. As they are mostly quite obscure (can't afford the big gala film showings) this is probably only of interest to me so behind the cut they go.

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We really had a good time watching all these films and it was very interesting to go and see films with very few preconceptions about them. It was also great to see large cinemas so well attended by audiences of all ages. Even with no gala showings it was still an exciting and enjoyable experience.

An anniversary and a meme

Kathyh film oz
I meant to post yesterday to say that it was my 11th LJ anniversary but we've been having a great time going to the London Film Festival and my eyes were giving out on me! I can't believe it's been 11 years but it's been fantastic, mostly thanks to all the wonderful people I've met through LJ. My life wouldn't be the same without you all. Thanks everybody :)

Sorry I haven't been around so much recently but there is a lot going on in RL at the moment. All good things, but I don't have as much time as I did. Hopefully everything will settle down a bit more soon but in the meantime here is the book meme. I'll put it behind the cut because I haven't done it for a while, so it's longer than usual.

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We're off to another film this afternoon. Apparently there are 248 films shown over 12 days at the London Film Festival and though we're only managing 7 in 9 days it still seems quite a marathon. We've deliberately avoided the big films that are going to be easily seen anyway but I will make a film round-up post at the end just in case anyone is interested.

Home again...again

Kathyh Giles tea
We're back from our second holiday in three weeks. We went to the exotic destination of the Isle of Wight this time and had a lovely time in a very comfortable cottage complete with ridiculously gorgeous weather. The only downside was that I had absolutely no internet access so I am behind with everything. Do tell me if anything exciting has been happening and I will try to catch up. I hope I'll be around a bit more regularly now but as we're about to start the Great House Declutter I'm not sure about that. The only downside of staying in a tidy and pristine cottage is that it made us notice the mess in our own house much more. Also a diet of crab sandwiches and Victorian cream teas do not help in losing weight so the diet starts now too.

In case anyone is wondering what a Victorian cream tea looks like...

Isle of Wight 2014 101

It was between two of us but a diet is very necessary...for both of us!

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Home again...briefly

Kathyh Merlin Arthur 2
We're back from part one of our holiday but will soon be moving on to part two. I don't know if I mentioned that J and I couldn't agree on where to go so we decided to agree to differ and go to both places. We have so far had a lovely holiday in Devon where we accidentally coincided with an Agatha Christie Festival and ended up sharing a vintage bus with Hercule Poirot, which was slightly surreal. We have also had a brief glimpse of the hotel that inspired Fawlty Towers, made a quick visit to a town reputedly twinned with Narnia, fallen in love with a more nautical Devon town and visited the harbour which must be the crustacean version of the Dignitas clinic as they all go there to die! At the same time as all of this some friends were cruising the Mediterranean and my brother and sister-in-law were getting drunk in gazing at the Bay of Naples, but I must admit I wouldn't have swapped either of them for eating a breakfast bap in a beach cafe on the English Riviera!

Now on to our next destination...

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Dashing in and dashing out again

Kathyh Merlin Arthur 2
Sorry I haven't been around much. Very busy at the moment and likely to continue to be for the forseeable future.

First the book meme.

I Just Finished Reading

The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. Fascinating and compelling account of the events of August 1914 covering the outbreak of World War I and continuing through the battles and fast moving military action of the first month of the war. Even though obviously I knew the outcome, at times this read like a thriller as events moved on so quickly. The loss of life was horrendous but the author's writing style and sharp pen portraits of some of the people involved meant there were glimpses of humour amidst the inevitable tragedy. It was quite hard to realise that a war that became so static on the Western Front was originally one of extraordinary speed as the huge armies of Germany and France moved to confront each other. I got a bit bogged down in some of the military manoeuvres, particularly on the Russian Front, but overall Barbara Tuchman made a brilliant job of explaining this complex and difficult history.

For a complete change of tempo, though I couldn't quite get away from World War I, I've also just read

Dying in the Wool by Frances Brody. An enjoyable first novel in a mystery series set in the early 1920s featuring Kate Shackleton, who has taken to searching out missing persons since her husband went missing in World War I. I enjoyed this quite a bit though I felt the ending was rather rushed. Good characters and an interesting heroine with an intriguing backstory.

What I'm Reading Now

I'm trying to decide what to take on holiday with me so I haven't come to a firm decision. Ideally I ought to use only my Kindle, but I can't resist an actual book as well. What to choose from the teetering piles is the question.

Amidst lots of other activities I've also tracked down some more BookBenches. In fact J and I have done three of the four trails and have only got to finish the Bloomsbury one, but I haven't uploaded all my photos so these are just of one bench. It's one of my favourites.

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As we're about to go on holiday that's probably going to be all from me until about the middle of October! I'll try and read along when I can but have a good time while I'm away everybody.

Books About Town

Kathyh Giles ook
No Book Meme this week as I'm still immersed in The Guns of August so have some BookBenches instead. To promote reading and literacy Books About Town have put a series of BookBenches celebrating authors in four trails around London. It's partly to entertain kids in the school holidays but it's fun for adults as well. I've only done the Riverside Trail which involved the entertaining spectacle of various people clutching printed out maps asking passers by if they'd "seen the Gruffalo". Have some photos.

Obviously the Shakespeare bench is in front of the Globe

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In other news last night we were lucky enough to go and see The Crucible by Arthur Miller at the Old Vic, very imaginatively directed by Yael Farber. It stars Richard Armitage as John Proctor, but all of the cast are terrific in what was a very intense evening. It is a terrifying play as it takes apart all the small actions that led to the legal reign of terror that were the witch persecutions in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. Although it was based on the Salem Witch trials the play was written during the McCarthy era in America and obviously refers to that, but it has very scary relevance today as church and state joined together to persecute anyone disagreeing with them. The original accusations of witchcraft were made by a gang of teenage girls led by Abigail Williams, who had a grudge against John Proctor's wife for dismissing her due to a sexual liaison between Abigail and John. From big grudges to small ones the powerless and aggrieved teenage girls wove a climate of hysteria that permeated the town. The strongest scene of all for me was in the courtroom where it became obvious that anybody taking a stand against them was in danger of being charged with witchcraft themselves. The moments when the girls pretended to see the devil really raised the hairs on the back of my neck as they moved together in crazed unison.

The intensity was accentuated by being performed in the round, with the Old Vic undergoing an amazing and very effective transformation from its normal proscenium arch stage. The set was completely bare apart from some chairs and props taken on and off but the subtly disturbing music and the lighting, which made everything seem shadowy and terrifying, underlined the fact that this was a world where darkness was very close. Richard Armitage was very powerful as guilt-ridden John Proctor though I did think he shouted too much at times, as did everyone else. Though he was very good it was really an ensemble cast from Samantha Colley, making her professional stage debut playing Abigail Williams, to William Gaunt as Giles Corey whose half joking remarks about his wife reading books led to both her death and his, to Adrian Schiller as Rev. John Hale, who helped to start the events in motion and then desperately regretted what he had done, everyone was very impressive.

My only real criticism, apart from the shouting which made some of the dialogue a little unclear at times, was the fact that I thought there was a little too much stage business which made a long evening longer. I wouldn't have wanted to go without shirtless Richard Armitage but there was about five minutes of his wife cooking a meal before he came home. It's probably in the original stage directions but it did feel like padding. The length of the show made the interval quite short, which given the inadequate provision of ladies loos in the Old Vic was a bit of a problem. Let's just say there were some men who were quite startled to see women coming out of the gents as time ran out!

Just to add to the unsettling nature of the evening August 19th was the anniversary of John Proctor's death, which was a rather spooky coincidence.

Oops

Kathyh Methos
I've just noticed that I haven't updated for ages. I haven't dropped off the planet, just been quite busy and a bit allergic to summer. Unfortunately I do mean that as hot, humid weather and my skin do not go well together. It's no accident that the slightly fresher weather has made me suddenly notice I haven't updated recently!

First the book meme

I Just Finished Reading

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. Reading this book is an extraordinarily immersive experience, almost like being at the court of Henry VIII seeing the fall of Anne Boleyn through the eyes of his chief minister Thomas Cromwell. Henry wants Anne gone and it is Cromwell's job to see she goes or fall himself. How he goes about building a case against her composed of gossip and innuendo is fascinating and terrifying. The more sympathetic Cromwell of "Wolf Hall" is giving way to a darker man who does what he must to please the increasingly volatile Henry. One of the ways in which Hilary Mantel's historical novels excel is by showing the might have beens of history, what the people of the time feared could happen instead of what we know did happen. Henry's tournament accident is easily forgotten now but it throws a sharp light on the chaos that might have ensued if Henry had died suddenly and why he was so desperate for a male heir. Compulsively readable book which I read slowly to make the experience last longer.

What I'm Reading Now

The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman. It seemed like a good idea to read this classic account of the beginnings of World War I now and I'm finding the book very interesting. I read A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman years ago so I knew The Guns of August would be very readable and the whole period and characters involved are really coming alive. Tragic and fascinating.

What I'm Reading Next

Not a clue, but I might give World War I a break!

In between wishing my skin would stop itching I have actually been quite busy.

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TV wise the only things we seem to be watching are history and art documentaries and Inspector Montalbano which washes over me in flood of Sicilian language and excitable Sicilian Italian. I'm also watching the beginning of the first series of Arrow having already watched the second half of Series 2. It's a long time since I've watched a show so out of order but it's great fun to watch the team come together. Some interesting characters and John Barrowman as a slimy baddie...what's not to love.

I've also rewatched the first episode of Highlander for killabeez rewatch and am awash with nostalgia. It holds up surprisingly well though I remember the first few episodes of Season 1 as being awful.

And that's it from me for the moment. I'm going to be pretty busy for the rest of the month and away for a large chunk of September but I'll try and drop in when I can.

Noisy night

Kathyh summer flower
I think the inhabitants of large parts of the UK and Ireland now know what the god Thor thinks of Marvel's decision to make him a woman! Apparently there were over 3000 lightning flashes recorded between midnight and 6am.

There are some good photos of the lightning here and the usual warnings about hot weather in summer!

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What I'm Reading Wednesday

Kathyh Giles tea
I don't seem to have done this for a while. I would have done it last week but last Wednesday I was in London having a very jolly lunch with archaeologist_d and camelittle and then on Thursday I was having a less jolly time at the optician. My short-sightedness is actually getting better, which ought to be a good thing, but isn't as it means I need new glasses. I had the choice of three pairs of expensive glasses or one pair of very expensive glasses. I've gone for the most expensive option as I didn't fancy changing glasses all the time but...ouch! Anyway, back to the meme.

What I Just Finished Reading

Young Titan: The Making of Winston Churchill by Michael Sheldon. This is not a book I would ever have thought to read if I hadn't been lent it by my cousin. As it turned out I found it very interesting. The book covers the less well-known period of Churchill's life between 1901 and 1915 when he was an aspiring and later very successful politician up until the disaster of Gallipoli. I knew very little about Churchill's life at this time and found this entertainingly written book fascinating. The author paints a well-rounded picture of Churchill, both endearing and annoying, with all his arrogance, exuberance and massive energy. The book does a good job of explaining the politics of the time, though the author possibly takes Churchill a bit too much at his own estimation. It's particularly strong on Churchill's relationships with women, from his mother Jennie to Asquith's daughter Violet (later Violet Bonham Carter, grandmother of Helena) and his eventual wife Clementine. It made me want to find out more about all these people and the Edwardian period in general.

What I'm Reading Now

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. I've just torn myself away from the 16th century to write this entry as I'm finding Bring Up the Bodies just as immersive as I found Wolf Hall. It feels a leaner book and less stylistically difficult than Wolf Hall and it's fascinating to watch Cromwell, at the point I've reached, start to consider moving against Anne Boleyn.

What I'm Reading Next

It could be The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman, which seems appropriate, or it could be Now All Roads Lead to France by Matthew Hollis or it could be something completely different like an Agatha Christie. Who knows, I don't!

Hever Castle and Gardens

Kathyh Merlin Arthur 2
I have finally got my act together and uploaded my photos from Hever Castle so here is the promised picspam.

Hever Castle is famous for being the childhood home of Anne Boleyn but it was massively restored in the early 20th century by William Waldorf Astor so not that much is original from Anne's day, but it is a very attractive place to visit. There is also a very nice pub opposite the entrance to the grounds which may have influenced our decision to go there :) The pub is called the King Henry VIII and he plays a major part in the decorative scheme with his image even appearing on the carpets so I can now say I've trodden on him.

Hever Castle is set in glorious grounds. We had been here years ago with my mother-in-law but neither John nor I remembered the gardens as being so extensive. We would have come with her in May, so maybe they look better in June as we can't quite work out why we didn't see so much with Ma-in-Law, who was very keen on gardens. Anyway on with the picspam.

Approaching Hever Castle (and yes, that is a topiary pig in the foreground)

June 2014 011

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Vid rec

Kathyh Giles tea
killabeez recced this and I'm going to do so too because I was a puddle of goo after watching it. A beautiful tribute to all the warmth and companionship of Star Trek in all its forms.



Feedback to the vidder here.

Thanks so much

Kathyh Merlin ASH
Thanks so much to everyone for all the very kind birthday good wishes. I had a really lovely day as for once the weather behaved itself (when your birthday always falls in Wimbledon fortnight that isn't usually a given *g*). For the last few years we've gone away for a couple of days around my birthday but as the rest of the family minus the dog, who is going into kennels, and Nephew M, going into whatever the teenage boy version of kennels is, are decamping to Glastonbury (pun unintentional) I didn't really want to leave my mother entirely on her own.

I originally thought it would be nice to go to the coast but in the end decided that Hever Castle would be a good place to visit as we haven't been there for years. It was an excellent decision as completely by chance they were having a Hever In Bloom festival. This meant all the rooms in the castle were full of beautiful flower displays so faded tapestries, old (and not so old) panelling, antique furniture and portraits were fantastically set off by an explosion of colour and the scent of lilies and roses. It was glorious but sadly you aren't allowed to take photos in the castle. I took plenty in the gardens but haven't uploaded them yet though a picspam is threatened.

The gardens were looking their absolute best too and were greatly enlivened by a water maze. I've never seen one before and thought at first it was easy until I realised, the wet way, that if you stepped on the wrong paving stone it activated jets of water. Great fun on a warm day though possibly not so great on a cool one.

We also had a really excellent pub lunch, cake, tea, and wine (lots of). It was such a terrific day that when we got home I was too tired to put the computer on, but it was lovely to come online this morning and see the notes, cards and virtual gifts. Thanks so much to all <333

An everyday story of country folk

Kathyh Giles tea
This is just for me really. I have woken up to the Today programme on Radio 4 for more years than I care to remember and usually it's a litany of gloom, doom and despondency, but occasionally they cover something more cheery. As I used to work in radio it had particular resonance for me to hear that one man has been creating his own radio soap opera for 40 years. He's written it, acted all the parts and done all the technical stuff entirely alone which is pretty amazing. Move over Ambridge, this is Acrebury!

(For the record I stopped listening to The Archers when they killed Nigel. It was a very freeing to end a 25 year habit!)

I also learnt on the Today programme this morning that it is the 100th anniversary of the poem Adlestrop by Edward Thomas. As it's the perfect poem for a warm June day here is his widow Helen reading it.

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Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside

Kathyh Merlin Arthur 2
In lieu of the Book meme this week have a brief picspam. We decided to go away last weekend in order to make up for having been backwards and forwards to Lincolnshire so often recently. Neither of us can quite remember what gave us the idea of Broadstairs in Kent but it turned out to be a good choice. It's within very easy reach of London (and would have been even quicker to get there if we hadn't been too cheap to pay the extra train fare for the Javelin), was somewhere neither of us had ever been and it was just a pleasant place to relax. I can quite see why Charles Dickens liked it so much.

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