Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Book Challenge - Hemingway's Chair

Now that I am taking part in the Book challenge (see earlier post) I feel as though I should be reviewing the books that I am reading.

So...I have finished one - Hemingway's Chair. I have been reading it during work breaks as it is the only way I can get myself to read something that perhaps I am not that keen on as if I have nothing else to read then I HAVE to read what I have got. Of course, if I get into it, then I read it at home too (usually just before bed so that I end up turning the lights out too late!).

Anyway - I am not sure that I enjoyed Hemingway's Chair. It was an intriguing read, that's for sure, if I hadn't liked it at all then I would not have even finished it!

Michael Palin tells the fictional story of an assistant postmaster with a bit of a fixation on Hemingway and if you are expecting a bit of a funny story from Michael Palin then you are looking in the wrong place as this little book is not humourous at all.

Instead we get to see what happens when the Post Office management is replaced and the assistant gets involved in all sorts of shenanigans, revealing the depth of his connection with Hemingway. I wont give away any detail, but the ending of the story was somewhat strange, the whole build up to the conclusion of the story seemed a bit contrived to me, which is why I didn't really enjoy the book.

If nothing else, the story does show that Palin himself knows quite a bit about Hemingway, in fact, he wrote another book - Michael Palin's Hemingway Adventure - which is a travelogue following in the footsteps of Hemingway. (I haven't read this, but get the feeling that I would enjoy this more than the book that I have just read!)

Thursday, 22 November 2007


When I first started blogging I was quite unaware of the meme phenomenon on the internet. This is not quite the same as the idea of a meme as coined by Richard Dawkins in that it is something that is almost naturally picked up by everyone, for instance - a catchy tune that everyone picks up from the last person that hummed it!

But anyway, the meme thing on the internet is different, particularly in connection with blogging. Here it starts with someone listing, say, their five favourite animals and then asking five people to list their favourite animals and listing (or linking to) on the original blog that started it all. Some people just open it up to anyone who reads the blog, others ask certain people.

Of course, the memes themselves have grown into something a bit more complex in that some people are asking questions and then sending those questions out into the ether! I think that is it a good way of getting to dig a bit deeper into just who the person behind the blog is!

There are so many memes out there that I think that I will start doing a monthly meme, I will find one I fancy and then jump on the bandwagon!! If nothing else, it will probably fill a gap where I think that I have done absolutely nothing and therefore have absolutely nothing to say!!

This month's meme I found at Melody's Reading Corner and it's all about reading! So, here goes - it is probably going to make this the longest post I have done so far!!

1. Do you remember learning to read? How old were you? I don't actually remember NOT reading! I must have been taught somewhen, but either my early memory is a bit holey or I am just so very much a reader that "not reading" just does not occur to me!!

2. What do you find most challenging to read? I would love to read the classics, but just do not find them at all appealing. I keep thinking that my reading should be a bit more erudite, but give me a novel any day!

3. What are your library habits? It comes and goes, I can go for months without visiting the public library (I would started to say "library" - but that would mean that I don't go to work!! ha ha!) and then I suddenly decide to go to the library and usually end up getting about eight books out at any one time and then eventually get to a point when the stock in the library no longer appeals (it boggles the mind that some days I seem incapable of finding anything to read in a room FULL of books!).

4. Have your library habits changed since you were younger? I don't think so....I remember visiting the library as a child and getting lots of books out, as a teenager it wasn't quite so important, like I said above - it comes and goes!

5. How has blogging changed your reading life? It didn't at first, but the more I blog and the more I search out other blogs, the more I get ideas for reading - just today I joined the "From the Stacks" challenge (see post below!). I have also come across other blogs like Melody's Reading Corner and BooksPlease that give me lots of ideas and impetus to read books that I would not normally read. So, I am hoping that blogging will continue to change my reading life!

6. What percentage of your books do you get from: new book stores, second hand book stores, the library, online exchange sites, online retailers, other? Heck what a question, do you want precise percentages?! ;-) As much as my bank manager would rather not know - I buy most of my books from new book stores (70%) , but I also use charity shops a lot (10%), the library (10%), online retailers (5%) and other (5%) and I have to say that those figures are totally guesstimates, so....shrugs!? I never use online exchange sites - I do have a membership (somewhere) of BookCrossing, but I just can't bring myself to abandon a book of mine! Even when it comes to charity shops, I only tend to give back what I originally bought from there!

7. How often do you read a book and NOT review it in your blog? What are your reasons for not blogging about books? ALWAYS - I never write reviews, if only because it has not occurred to me to do so! If I think about it, what would I say? I have never reviewed a fiction book (have reviewed a couple of non-fiction for my professional journal) and am not quite sure how I'd go about it!

8. What are your pet peeves about ways people abuse books? Dogearing pages? Reading in the bath? I am afraid that I do all of the above (have yet to drop a book in the bath though!) I am terrible - will even crack the spine in order to hold the book and read into the corners, will leave the book facedown! So, I don't think that I can really get snooty about what other people do! I am off the opinion that if they are your books than you can do what you like, however, working in a library as I do, it does annoy me when I find that people have written inside books, particularly when they have filled in answers to revision books!! As we are a lending library, other people need the benefit of those books too!!

9. Do you ever read for pleasure at work? Yes, at lunch time, if, on the rare occasions, I forget to bring a book, I get twitchy and have to go and buy a magazine (the books in my library are not exactly for pleasure!) as I just cannot not have something to read!

10. When you give people books as gifts, how do you decide what to give them? Now that I think about it, I rarely give fiction for gifts, but will often give non-fiction according to what they are interested in. I think that part of the pleasure of reading is choosing what to read, so giving a book seems to me to take some of that away.

So, there you go - ten questions on reading!! And if you would like to do these questions yourself - duly consider yourself tagged and go and do the questions, but do let me know about them so that I can see what your answers are!!

Book Challenge

Anyone who knows me will know that I read far far too much, although I would argue that this is just not possible! ;-)

However, I do occasionally find that I have piles of books waiting to be read, generally because I have forgotten that I have them, or because if I don't read them as soon as I have bought them, they get consigned to the shelves to languish until I decide that perhaps I had better read them!

Well - no more - I have just joined a reading challenge - you can find out more about it the "From the Stacks" challenge here. The point is to pick five books that you have bought and have just never gotten around to reading, then you have to read them between the 1st November and 30th January.

Anyhow my list is as follows:
  1. Sword of God by Chris Kuzneski blogged it here

  2. Dancing with Eva by Alan Judd blogged it here

  3. Hemingway's Chair by Michael Palin blogged it here

  4. Woman in White by Wilkie Collins blogged it here

  5. A wedding in December by Anita Shreve blogged it here

Tuesday, 20 November 2007


Blogs abound, there are simply thousands of them on the internet, but I want to talk about one, just one....I found it the other day and it suits my Christmas mania very nicely.

It is Santa's blog! Yes, believe it or not, he blogs! Santa is relatively new to blogs as he has only been blogging for just over two years - this will be his third Christmas; and I strongly recommend that you take it a look and make sure that you are on the right side of the naughty and nice list!

However Santa is having problems this year - the Elves are on strike - does this sound familiar?! It clearly seems to be the year for striking, although I am sure that Santa will do his best to make sure that we all get our presents!!


I bet this lorry driver doesn't know how many people he made smile this morning!!

The flat-trailer of his lorry was empty so you actually see the back of the cab and it had something written on it, it said something like this
429 horses pull this lorry, plus one wonkey donkey

I am still smiling now! ;-)

Monday, 19 November 2007


Winter nights always make me think of the way Pops used to start a story "it was a dark and stormy night..." It makes me smile even now as I always used to fall for his sneaky joke! It goes something like this

"It was a dark and stormy night, and there were three men in a cave; one man turned to the other and said .....It was a dark and stormy night...."

I fell for it every single time because I was always keen to hear another story from Pops as he was a good story teller. In the end though, I got wise to him!!

Anyway, that wasn't actually the point of this post, the point was to complain about how dark it gets, I was driving along the road at about 4:30pm and wondering just when did it get dark before 5pm!! It's no wonder people get depressed in the winter with dark morning and darker evenings!

Having said that, for the most part I quite like dark evenings as I can draw the curtains, light the candles (away from the curtains mind you!), make a cup of tea and just snuggle up with the cat - preferably with a good book in my hand!! And that was precisely what I did yesterday - I even had the TV turned off and Clannad playing in the background - it was bliss.

Of course, Dad will say that the best evenings are when we have come home from walking the dog and the wind is beginning to get up, but we are snug in the house with the fire going and lots of tea and toast to be had. (it goes without saying that the wet and somewhat smelly dog stays in the kitchen!!)

The best thing about winter though, has to be Christmas! As you may have gathered from previous posts, I am a bit of a Christmas nutter! I love the whole thing - the run up to Christmas with the present buying (although that can get a bit stressful!), making Christmas cards, making crackers, putting up the tree and all the rest of it.

I never tire of it, I do get a bit fed up when I start seeing Christmas stuff in the shops in August, but I get into the swing of it all by the end of November when I have usually already got a few presents tucked away in the house and am beginning to think about what design to use for my Christmas cards. I even begin to work out which Carol concerts or services I can go do; and this year I am going to a doozy of a concert - this one is Carols by Candlelight at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Ann, Trish and I are going on Sunday 23rd December, as near as Christmas as we could get it!! I have never been to a concert at the Albert Hall and so I am really looking forward to it, if I am not in the mood for Christmas by then (unlikely I know!) then this should do it for me!! ;-)

Friday, 16 November 2007


What is it about days like today...I feel as though I have left my patience at home with the cat (who actually happens to be roaming the neighbourhood today!).

Every little thing is rubbing me up the wrong way today, it feels as though everything is going wrong - photocopier jams, printer jams, stapler jams, student can't upload her essay, IT can't fix a "page not displayed" message and I am just waiting for the next thing to make me go ARRRGHHHH.

It is odd how sometimes all those problems just roll off my back and I am bouncing from one thing to the next quite determined to fix it all so that everything runs as smoothly as it can. Unfortunately today is not one of those days, I will be happier when I get home and shut the door on everything tonight!! Light a few candles, pick up a good book and curl up with the cat when she decides to come in from the cold, which, knowing her will be as soon as I get home.

Still at least it is Friday, and I must just tell myself to get a grip! ;-)

Wednesday, 14 November 2007


Blooming petrol! I have just filled my car - about two years (or even a year) ago it cost me about £24 to fill the tank, now it takes me £30!

I am quite certain that the tank hasn't suddenly expanded to give me more space to put petrol in, but I didn't think that it would get quite so expensive; and the thing is that my car has a fairly small tank, so goodness knows how much it costs to fill up a bigger car!!

Yes, yes, I know that I should take the bus or use my bike perhaps, but it would take me an hour by bike to get to work; and the buses aren't ideal either as I'd have to take one into town and then one back out again! It's true - the car is simply far more convenient, I can pop to the shops on the way home, drop a colleague home if they need a lift, collect that Christmas present from the depot, and all manner of things!

I suppose that if I'd never had a car then I would simply be used to the alternative methods of transport, but as I do have a car, I do take it for granted and just don't know how I'd manage without it!!

It's a silly idea, but I can quite see that as oil reserves run out and if we can't find suitable methods of powering cars then we'd all start using the horse and buggy again! You know it makes sense! ;-)

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

As useful as....

....a chocolate teapot! I am quite sure that many of you have heard of this particular witty statement!

Well...just how useful is a chocolate teapot?

Someone has actually carried out research!! Visit plokta online to find out more!

It is a rather amusing post that goes to show that a chocolate teapot is, as expected, quite useless!! ;-)

Yes, I do realise that the information is about six years old and that someone may have carried out further research, but it just goes to show that you never quite know what is lurking within the depths of the internet, indeed, there is a particular website that I have enjoyed browsing and is called Pimp That Snack where people create extra large versions of the real thing and is quite funny - again a perfect example of the weird and wonderful things that abound!!

Monday, 12 November 2007


I need to dig up my driving gloves from whichever pile I have consigned them to - it was COLD this morning!

Anyway, the reason that I couldn't go to Montezuma's last weekend is because I was in Cambridgeshire visiting people! Namely, Andy, Marielle and my rambunctious nephew Tom and gorgeous niece Emily!

It was a very nice, family, weekend; and by that I mean, we didn't do anything out of the ordinary, just enjoyed the weekend - Andy and I took the children to Tesco's while Marielle blitzed the house, we all went to the park on Saturday afternoon, drove to a forest on Sunday afternoon and just enjoyed. Marielle was out babysitting on Saturday evening, so Andy and I watched The Brother's Grimm once Tom and Emily were in bed - like I said, just a simple weekend.

I got another birthday present though! It is a biscuit barrel in the shape of a bus! Andy did say that it was a funky gift! I already have a biscuit tin, so I am going to use this for sweeties!

Thursday, 8 November 2007


Clearly it is way too early to begin talking about Christmas and I apologise to those who would rather not start thinking about Christmas until Christmas Eve!! ;-)

But, I had to tell you all about my day in London. I have just got back from a rather long day at the Spirit of Christmas fair that is held every year in Olympia. It is quite a nice fair - a real mix of stalls that hold clothes, smellies, toys, decorations, food, etc, etc! I don't go every year because it can get expensive, but I went this year and had a good time just browsing amongst the stalls.

Dad turned up too! He had said that he might come and that we'd try and meet for a cup of tea if he did, but as Dad had left to the last minute, I was not sure that he would arrive. Well, I was standing at a stall buying some candles when my phone buzzed, so I checked it for messages, only to see that Dad was calling...because I don't use the phone as most people might, I thought that Dad had made a mistake and so I cut him off!!! About two minutes later, he was calling again, so I grabbed the nearest nice looking lady and asked her to translate for me!!

To cut a short story shorter, he was in Olympia and looking for me! So, we met, I told him off for calling me, and we went and had a cup of tea! As it turned out, he didn't text me because of the way his phone ask's you to tick a persons name before sending the message, which isn't particularly intuitive, so I let him off!! ;-)

We had a nice day, just wandering around. Unfortunately I did not buy any christmas presents! Which kind of defeats the point of such a day, but I did get a few things for meself! A lovely pair of gorgeously smelling candles, a funky spotty hen doorstop, a purple canvas bag that seems to hold everything, and finally, an advent calendar from Montezuma's - my absolute favourite chocolate shop in Chichester that I was pleased to spot at the fair!! (I have just discovered that they now have a shop in Newbury - a mere half an hour from me!! Guess where I am going the weekend after next!!)

Unfortanately, the end of the day wasn't quite so good. I duly managed to get myself to Paddington in plenty of time to catch the train home, but there were lots of delays and cancellations! The ironic thing is that the electronic display boards now tell you why a train may be late or cancelled. The train that I had a reservation on was cancelled due to a mechanical fault and the train that I eventually caught was delayed because they were waiting for a member of staff!!! Anyway, I did eventually get home and am now about to go to bed!

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


Yay! It's my birthday!
It is a shame really that birthdays just don't have the same level of excitement as they did when we were children! It is almost just another day when you still have to get up and go to work, although I am not working this evening so I will be able to put my feet up!

I suppose I could have taken the day off, but I am saving all my leave for March when I go to Australia, so I think that is a very good reason for not having the day off. Even though much of the excitement has gone, it doesn't mean I can't still enjoy the presents! I remember writing thank you letters as a child and the letter would usually include a list of presents received. Now that I think about it, it seems such a show-off thing to do - "look at all the presents I got, aren't I lucky!"

Nevertheless, I shall list the presents that I got this year!! A pair of heeled brown boots from Mum and Dad, an audiobook of the first Harry Potter book from Matt, a Ravensburger Christmas jigsaw from Ben (I am NOT an old biddy thank you!), some bath smellies from Trish (plus a Librarian peanut!), some lovely vanilla candles and holders from Ann, Nicola and Bridget! Thanks to everybody of course!

Monday, 5 November 2007

Parental visit!

My folk visited me this weekend and as usual, I had a frantic few hours of making sure that the house was spick and span! It seems to me that there are a few hotspots in the house that never stay tidy - you'd think that it would be easy to stay nice and tidy, but no, I am one of those people that have to work at it!

Anyway, we had a nice weekend - there was a bit of sticky moment though when Mum and Dad gave me my birthday present! Mum said that she loved it, but thought that I might not as it was one of those things that really does depend on individual taste! It was a little figurine of a country girl and.....I am afraid that it was just not to my taste! Fortunately Mum and Dad were kind enough to agree that Mum would have the figurine and they'd get me another present! Thanks Mum and Dad!

Present giving is nearly always wrought with tension - will they like it? - will it fit? - is it suitable? - will it end up in the nearest charity shop? Obviously there are times when you just can't go wrong - usually when the recipient has been quite specific about what they want! Still, for the most part present hunting can be enjoyable - I have a few ideas for this Christmas!

Anyway, Mum, Dad and I had a good weekend - we went shopping on Saturday at the nearest outlet centre! Got some boots for a present! Bought some DVDs, bought a steamer thing - we tried it out on Sunday - it did chicken, potatoes, carrots and broccoli very well!

Saturday evening was a bit of an adventure! I should explain - I won a £50 voucher for an Italian restaurant and so we had booked a table! You never quite know what a restaurant is going to be like do you! I am pleased to say that our fears were groundless - we had a slap-up three course meal for £20 - I had garlic bread, pepperoni pizza, and profiteroles - all very typical of me!! Mum had a salad, a risotto, and creme brule; Dad had king prawns, tagliatelle, and a typical Italian ice-cream that I just can't think of the name for.

Sunday was nice and quiet, Mum and Dad left at about 3pm after our dinner from the steamer, I was impressed with it and will be using it again, particularly it was so easy. I then spent the afternoon watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the Johnny Depp version), which was rather peculiar - quite dark film for all that it is meant to be for children! Although it is quite dark film, some people believe that is closer to the intent of the book than the earlier film made in 1971. Still, I thought it was an odd film. Anyhow, I have written enough today, so I shall stop!!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Traffic control

On the motorway there is nothing more effective at traffic control than a police car cruising along quite happily in the slow lane!! There was one on the M4 this morning and I just have to admit that I do find it quite amusing to see the moment when a whole bunch of drivers have just spotted this police car - all the brake lights come on!!

Then everyone sits there doing the speed limit that they should be doing, but as soon as the police car starts flashing blue lights and speeds off to wherever it needs to go, everyone pretty quickly starts to speed up again!!

It just goes to show that if people think that they can get away with something then they will certainly try, but as soon as they think that they might get caught then they pretend that they are as good as gold and would never even dream of going faster than they should! ;-)

If you've never seen that police car = brake lights phenomenon then it is worth looking out for - it makes me smile every time!

Thursday, 1 November 2007


Murder committed last night! Oh the horror! It would appear that the cat had some fun last night.

When I woke up this morning, I had no inkling of the carnage that awaited me downstairs! There were feathers all over the hallway, not to mention all the other unsavoury bits that come with ornithologicide, or would that be ornithicide - I shouldn't really be making up words now!

It was not pleasant, still I suppose that it is one of the hazards of cat ownership. So as you might guess, I was cleaning up early this morning - ewgh! I think that my nose will remain all wrinkled in disgust for quite some time!