June 22, 2012

Too much time?

You know that moment where you realise you have too much time on your hands? I'm there.

The number one song on my birthday. I also have a suspicion I danced to this when I was many years younger.

This was the number one somewhere when my Dad was born.

For my Mum; (I hate to say it, but this song really is shit, so how it got to number one, I don't know)

For my Sister;

For my Brother in Law;

and my Niece,


And even though its Sesame Street, this is cute and kids should know this song.

I love Elmo!

For Sarah. Remember that New Year's party where we were so drunk we got footage of you doing this dance?

I like to move it move it

Remember how we all thought these were an ugly brother, his ugly sister and a non-gender specific little person;

I think I liked the melting Barbies best;


June 15, 2012

York - Day 2

(This post relates to March, hence some of the timing conventions will seem strange).

It rained a little overnight. This didn't stop the various groups of people cruising past the the pubs and restaurants around the area I stayed. I didn't hang around long in the morning. I made sure I had everything packed and headed around to the Castle Museum I had stumbled across yesterday.

I paid the £9 entry fee and started exploring. I liked that the museum had a clearly directed traffic flow in place. Made it easier and in some regards, safer. The first few rooms are set up in representations of various rooms, commonly found in Yorkshire (and probably the UK). These range from a moorlands cottage to a 17th C. dinning room. Very old fashioned museological style but still nicely presented.

© Glaciations of the World
The next section I didn't care for  as it seems out of place for the rest of the museum. Plus you can see vacuums and other cleaners, toilet paper etc. anywhere.

© Glaciations of the World
The farming section was interesting, and I know Grandad would have loved it. Pat the Giant stood out but then re really is only living up to his name.

© Glaciations of the World
My favourite part was Kirkgate St, where the museum is attempting to re-create a Victorian street. It will be amazing once they get it all done. I quite like that while I was there, they were working on an undertakers.

© Glaciations of the World

© Glaciations of the World
I came back out into the still grey day and decided to head straight for the Jorvik Centre. As I followed the signs, I came across Fairfax House. Fairfax House boasts it is the finest Georgian town house in England. Parting with another £6 I entered one of the most beautiful houses I've ever been to.

Image Source
The house was originally the winter home of the Viscount Fairfax. Its interior was designed by Yorks most distinguished architect, John Carr. In the 20th C. the house was adapted as a cinema and dance hall, with one of the ceilings being painted blood red.

This room was the dance hall and the ceiling has now been cleaned of the red, which was a similar colour to the walls.Image Source 
In the renovated bedrooms there are four chairs, collected by Noel Terry, whose collection fits out the entire house. These four chairs have had their seats covered with 17th C. tapestries that were discovered, stored in an attic, of an elderly lady. The needle work is amazingly detailed.

The house itself, when in the hands of the Viscount, was intended as the dowry for his only living daughter, Anne. Anne, however, never married.

The Viscount died in 1772 and the house passed through the hands of private owners, became a gentlemen's club in the 19th C. and then offices. It was requisitioned for military use in WWI and was transformed into the entertainments mentioned, in 1919. The cinema had a seating capacity of 1000, which means much of the 18th C. domestic quarters and service areas were lost.

By 1982 the house had fallen into disrepair so the York City Civic Trust stepped into save the building.

The Jorvik Viking Centre was one of the places I was most looking forward to seeing in York. Another £9 later and a terrible smelling entrance, I made my way into the exhibition area.

Image Source

On entering, the air is hot and stuffy. There appear to be too many people even though this isn't the case. The floor is clear and sits over what could be either the original or placticised remains of the ancient floor. Around the walls are video displays and bare bones cabinets with finds. The labeling is either to vague or filled with far too much information. The lighting is low, lower than it needs to be for what it is illuminating. (Please note, this is just my opinion).

To get into the next section it seems the only way to do it is via an air-lift which, slowly wends its way through a viking village. The female narrator talks you through the various areas of the village, introducing the various motorized mannequins. For me, the ride was slow and potentially awkward for anyone with mobility issues or any kind of claustrophobia. Plus, the smell was slowly getting worse and I was beginning to feel quite sick.

In the next section, there was a school group. The noise was terrible. It also meant that viewing any of the interactive exhibits was almost impossible. For the few I managed to experience, I was quite impressed and I enjoyed having the chance to play. The staff also seemed better placed to deal with the children. I'm in my 30s now and I don't need to have object and ideas explained to me as though I am 13.

I would like to go back to the Jorvik centre as I think it is worth a second viewing. I'm just not looking forward to the smell.

Having seen the main things on my list and having almost run out of ready cash, I decided I would just wander around and see what I found.

I came across a little church called St Martin-le-Grand. Most of it dates back to the 15th C. but it was largely destroyed by fire and in air raids in 1942.

Image Source
I particularly liked the message just inside the door;

This is the way of peace:
Overcome evil with good,
and falsehood with truth,
and hatred with love.

If you yourself are at peace,
then there is at least
some peace in the world.

Go home
and love your family

I headed back into the Museum Gardens where I had first started wandering.

© Glaciations of the World

© Glaciations of the World

Time in York was drawing to a close. I headed back to the station, collected my ticket, got a coffee and read my book until I boarded the train.

45 minutes later I reached Shipley and headed to my hotel for the night.

Book Reviews: The Thirteenth Tale & The Weird Sisters

The Thirteenth TaleThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was November. Although it was not yet late, the sky was dark when I turned into Laundress Passage.

I can't explain it but from these opening words, I was hooked. I devoured this book in a mere few hours (spread over a couple of days) and wanted it to run longer.

There are a few problems with the writing, the speech of the characters is a little stilted in areas and some of the emotions attached to the book are assumptive of the readers own, previously experienced, emotions. Luckily, having a sister, it wasn't too hard to imagine what the sisters in this book were dealing with. Sisters can be annoying but you wouldn't want to be without them.

I read a couple of reviews of this book before I finished. One guy wrote that he had listened to the book on a drive with his wife and that he had hated it. Margaret, the main character, he writes, was "continuously fainting". What book he was reading though, I cannot say, as this is in no way ye olde bodice ripper.

If you are looking for a story that is just a story, without swearing, without violence, without having that dirty taste left in your mouth, then this is for you. It is nice to read a nice book even if you can guess the end.

The Weird SistersThe Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is no problem a library can't solve.

This is so true!

The first thing I do when moving somewhere new is seek out the local library, make sure I have the relevant paperwork and get myself a library card.

I have to say I loved this book. It is by no means life changing but it will burrow itself into your heart and never leave. At least that is my hope.

Of all the three sisters, I could identify with each of them in some way. Rose, the oldest, who had to look after everyone. Bean, the middle child who moved away to the big city but comes home (don't read to much into that) and Cordie, the baby, who just wants to roam and explore without staying anywhere to long.

This book doesn't fall into the old tried and true traps that can be the downfall of some books. And regardless of some reviews, writing they couldn't follow the story because of the anonymous narrator, it is not difficult. The narrator is by no means anonymous. The story is told by all three of them. I found it easy to imagine all three of them, in maybe their 60s, gathered around a kitchen table, cups of tea or coffee near elbows, as they, together, wrote the story of their home comings and leavings and their mothers illness.

This book is beautiful. You should read it.

June 02, 2012

The Somnambulist & The Clothes on Their Backs

The SomnambulistThe Somnambulist by Essie Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I put off reading this book for such a long time I started to get annoyed with myself. One because I brought it in a huge state of excitement and it was sitting on the bookshelf and two, because everywhere I turned, someone else was reading it, finishing it and raving about it. 

From the first few pages I was hooked. I knew I wasn't supposed to like Maud but that I should like all the Wilton's group and Phoebe. Nathaniel and his Lady wife seemed almost to good to be true, but I wanted them to be. I didn't particularly like Joesph and I think I missed the point where he turned from the flirt from the to the bastard. I think that needed to be a bit clearer, but I was reading on the tube, so your attention is never brilliant in those circumstances.

I liked the happy ending. It was lovely to have something nice happen, even though it was bittersweet. The thing I loved was the complete escape the book offered.

It turns out though there were three reasons I held off reading The Somnambulist. The third is that I read it so quickly, that I reached the end before I was ready. Thankfully, Essie has a new book out soon, and this time around, I'm not going to put off the reading of it. 

The Clothes On Their BacksThe Clothes On Their Backs by Linda Grant
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I don't like writing negative reviews. This time I have to.

From the opening page I had issues with the style and the stilted dialogue. I decided to give it a chance but at page 106 and only 39% read, I have declared defeat.

The main character, Vivian, is underdeveloped and unlikable. Her parents are unrealistic shadows of people. Her first husband dies from an accident that evokes no feelings of sympathy. Vivian then goes in search of her mysterious uncle who is banned from her parents flat and her life. A slum lord with a jail term behind him, he has the most potential to be a decent character.

Some readers will disagree with me and that's fine. We all have to read what we like. This book, for me, is very similar to Zadie Smith's "White Teeth", which I also didn't like. I don't mind contemporary fiction but I find it to be lazy writing when the author assumes a modern setting is enough to keep a reader interested. There is such a wealth of fiction out there that this falls very short for me.