Saturday, April 28, 2007

The view from here

I've managed to add a photo to the heading, showing the view from the front of our house. As I type this I look out over the field, now covered in buttercups to the cottage at the far side.

At last I've managed (with D's help) to add lots of links as well as the photo to the blog.

By the way we felt the earthquake here, even though we're miles away from Kent!

Man United win again!

This afternoon's Premiership game between Man Utd and Everton ended in a resounding win for Utd 4-2. After a discouraging start Utd drew level and then forged ahead with goals from John O'Shea, Phil Neville, although now "playing" for Everton, Wayne Rooney and Chris Eagles.

Utd are now certainly favourites for the title.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Winchester, Jane Austen and Books

This is God Begot House in Winchester where D and I had coffee. The front is a modern restoration but the rest of the house, now a restaurant and coffee shop, is 16th century - a wonderful ceiling in the restaurant upstairs. There is so much to see in Winchester, spanning several centuries. Opposite God Begot House is the Old Guildhall(now a bank) largely rebuilt in 1713 and further down the High Street is the 15th century Buttercross.
We went in the City Museum on Minster Street, which is free entry and tells the history of Winchester from the Roman times onwards. As we wanted to spend much of our day in the Cathedral we didn't do the Museum justice and would like to go back to look at it properly some time.
From the Musuem it's just a short walk to the Cathedral and we were ages in there looking round. One of the guides was just starting a tour which we joined and I'm sure we got so much more information from him than if we had just gone round on our own using the Cathedral brochure. It's so difficult trying to read and look at the same time.


For more information go to http://www.winchester-cathedral.org.uk/friends/



Jane Austen is buried in the Cathedral and we walked round to see the house where she lived for the last six weeks of her life and where she died on 18 July 1817. I have read most of her books and Pride and Prejudice has been my favourite since I was about 12 after seeing a BBC production then and reading my mother's copy of the book.


There is an excellent bookshop just down the road from Jane Austen's house and I just had to go in and browse.
I was really pleased to find copies of Jane Austen's Lady Susan, Margaret Forster's Daphne Du Maurier, both of which I've been wanting to read for a while now. As I said I've read most of Jane Austen and this was one I didn't know about until I read of it on A Work in Progress and both Margaret Forster and Du Maurier are also favourite authors. D found Tolkien's The Children of Hurin which we'll both read. I first read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings years ago when I was at Library School in Manchester when it was the book to read. The films just haven't lived up to my expectations, apart from Gandalf that is, but I think films are always a let down if I've read the book first.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Norton Park Hotel work in progress

Last weekend we visited Norton Park, a QHotel, near Winchester. Although we knew building work was being done at the hotel we were surprised to find it was essentially a building site.





Our room was in this block, quite near the carpark, but a long way from reception and the restaurant. This block is the furthest away from the main part of the hotel, which is reached by walking round the rest of the unfinished areas.






















And reception, the bar and restaurant could only be reached by going down these steps - not for the faint hearted or the disabled.
The good parts of our stay were that the room we had was good, even if the view was of yet more construction work; the food was good; the staff were friendly and welcoming - particularly Basia on reception; and the leisure facilities were also good - particularly the sauna.






The old original manor house is still there, but this is also some distance from the restaurant and reception.
If we go there again, I think we'd prefer to stay in this older part of the hotel and only go when it is all finished.



Winchester is about 10 minutes drive away and is well worth a visit. More in the next post.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Decisions

What to read next? Three new books arrived this morning from Amazon - Body Surfing and On Chesil Beach to add to this pile of some of the books waiting to be read. Other books waiting to be read include numerous library books, which I have to keep renewing and may have to return unread. The third book is Rick Stein's Guide to the food heroes of Britain, which I ordered thinking it was his Food Heroes recipes. Anyway it's interesting, having info on local suppliers that were unknown to me.

I started Body Parts a while back and stopped when other books demanded to be read. The jacket blurb says it's about exploring writers' lives in connection with their works and includes essays on Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Bowen and one entitled "Reading in Bed, which I'm known to do. Shall I pick this up again, or read The Thirteenth Tale? I've read both good and bad reviews of this and resisted buying it for some while now, but when I saw it in the local coffee shop as a BookCrossing book I just had to take it home to see what all the fuss was about.

Shall I opt for The Poe Shadow, seeking to solve the mystery of Poe's death. A while ago I read The American Boy by Andrew Taylor, which was about Poe as a boy at school in England and The Poe Shadow could be a good follow up and then of course I could continue by reading Poe's own Tales of Mystery and Imagination?

Or maybe I'll go for some non-fiction with A N Wilson's After the Victorians: the world our parents knew, another tempting read - the blurb on the back says it "is utterly compelling - erudite, intelligent and wise. Essential reading." It certainly won't be a quick read with over 500 pages, plus notes and a massive bibliography.

Or it could be the new Anita Shreve, or Ian McEwan - both favourite authors of mine, or Tracy Chevalier or Sarah Dunn - both unknown to me.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Now I have more time to stand and stare and read

I've been meaning to write more, both in this blog and in other writing, but somehow there's always something else to do. Well, now I have time during the day and I will write. But, before that, yesterday was another sunny day, though cool out of the sun - there was no wind and it was perfect for a short walk. So D and I went off down the lane to a footpath crossing the fields for a gentle stroll. The views were clear and we could see for miles. We only went a short walk as we're both somewhat unfit and took it easy, which was good as we saw and heard so much more than if we were striding out.

One thing in particular was impressive - along by the lake at the back of the local hotel in a small group of trees two pairs of herons are building nests at the top of two tall trees, over looking the lake. We stood and watched as one heron flew back and forth with twigs for the other in the nest to put in place, with much conversation between the two.

This made me remember that I have a CD to identify birdsong, which I must listen to. Before that, a short visit to the BBC website on our return to listen to birds such as blackbird, robin, great tit and wren made me realise how ignorant I am about birdsong. At least I can now recognise the robin who visits our garden regularly without having to see him.

Back to books - I'm in a 'what shall I read next' phase, as each book I start seems to be wrong. I recently finished Hallucinating Foucault by Patricia Duncker, which I read through almost in one go. It's about madness/sanity and the reader/writer relationship amongst other things and is really good, one of the better books I've read this year. I'd just finished Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard, which also concerns madness and last night I picked up Keeping Faith by Jodie Picault, which at the start seems also to be about madness - perhaps a bit too much of one theme at the moment - I'll look for something else more cheerful. At present I'm reading Charles Kingsley's Water-Babies; I think the version I read as a child was not this one - a 'watered-down' version maybe. Also ongoing are Persuasion by Jane Austen (a re-read, first read at school of A Level) and Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris, which has now taken preference over the others.