Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Book 12 of 2012: Tolkien A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings

Book twelve is Tolkien: A Look Behind The Lord Of The Rings, by Lin Carter (although my version is the updated edition with extra bits by Adam Roberts). I'd been looking to reading this book as it was one of the last one of the books about Tolkien on my bookshelf. I've had it for ages, having bought it in a charity shop at the same time that I managed to pick up a very old single volume copy of Lord of the Rings (so old it doesn't have any appendices in the back).

Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed by it.

The book was originally published in the sixties, but it was obviously republished and updated to take advantage of the Lord of the Rings interest following the films. Once again, it was intending to look at Tolkien's inspirations, which I suppose could have been a point against it from the start as I have read rather a lot about this recently. But that didn't really bother me, it's kind of nice to read things from a different perspective.

What did bother me was that it was written by someone who is supposed to be very knowledgeable about the subject, so presumably is a bit of a fan of Lord of the Rings, but mid way through they described Eowyn as Theoden's daughter. I realise this is probably a bit of a minor thing to pick at (for those who don't know, Eowyn is Theoden's niece, she is referred to as his sister-daughter but this is just another term for niece, the fact that Theoden's only child has died is a bit of a plot point), but the problem is, if you're going to tout yourself as a reliable source, you kind of need to make sure you've got your facts right. There was also a bit of confusion in the bit that discussed how Smeagol came by the Ring.

The thing that bugged me more about the fact that I spotted the mistakes was that there were vast sections of the book talking about ancient texts and documents, which gave summaries of what they were about, which I have never read. Once I found the mistakes in Lord of the Rings I couldn't help but doubt what the author was telling me about the other texts, which was frustrating.

Regarding the other texts that were mentioned, I couldn't always see exactly what influence they had on The Lord of the Rings. Aside from the fact that they were examples of texts which were part of our literary history which when all added together helped to lead Tolkien to write the way he did. I felt like it was a book of summaries about other texts, which I couldn't really be sure I could trust because of the gross errors in the bits that I was familiar with.

There were also four whole chapters taken up giving a detailed summary of what happened in The Hobbit and the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings, which felt rather redundant. I understand that someone might be reading it never having read the books before, but it can kind of be assumed that they'll have a passing knowledge of them. I'm not saying it shouldn't have had any summary, but four whole chapters of the book was a little bit of overkill.

I feel like I'm doing nothing but picking holes in the book, but looking back, I can't really think of much positive about it. I wouldn't say I really disliked it, but I don't feel like I got anything out of it. I think I would like to read it without the updated bits because I felt like I could pick those out (one particular paragraph seemed to contradict something mentioned earlier, presumably because it was tacked on afterwards without amending the earlier bit). I wonder if the earlier edition would have been more to my liking.

I'm glad I've read it, because it's been hanging around for ages, but I can't say I'm in any great hurry to revisit it, which is a bit of a shame as it was something I was looking forward to. It's so annoying when I feel like that about books.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Book 11 of 2012: Deadly Decisions

This morning I got my time booked off work ready for my little operation (woo hoo). That means I can stop stressing about that and go back to stressing about someone's going to be cutting holes in my stomach and sticking things in them.

I do have to admit, while I was at work today I actually read that little leaflet again, the one that came with my letter. I'm quite glad that I decided to take two days off work afterwards because apparently after having had my general anaesthetic I'm not allowed to drive, operate heavy machinery, boil a kettle, or sign important legal documents. I realise that there's probably a very good reason for that, but it's still slightly amusing.

Anyway, on to the book I read. That would be Deadly Decisions by Kathy Reichs. This is the third in the series of Temperance Brennan books (and this is probably my third or fourth reread of it). My copy looks something like this:
The problem I've been finding with rereading these books is that I know what happens at the end. Normally this isn't a problem with a book. In fact, the books that I regularly reread (like Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter books and The Time Traveler's Wife) are because I know what happens. It's like a comfort blanket, or going to visit a favourite holiday spot. You don't have to think so hard, sometimes you do spot something which you've never seen before, but mostly it's just retreading old ground.

When you're reading crime novels, mysteries, thrillers, whodunnits, whatever, for the first time, you've got all the build up to find out what the twist in the end will be. When you're rreading them, you already know what's happened. Or worse, you remember bits of what happened, you remember who did it, but not how or something like that.

I always find that rereading books like this makes me read them slower. There's not the sense of urgency to figure it out, and you know more-or-less how it's going to end. I've noticed with my reread of the Kathy Reichs books it's taken me a bit longer than it normally would (when I first got them I read one a day for three days, then went back to Waterstones to buy the next three).

With this one, I couldn't remember as much of the story, so I think that made it a little easier to read. I remembered things that would happen, but I didn't remember when or why, so that bit kind of surprised me. I couldn't remember exactly why the murders were committed, so again, that spurred me on. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series a bit more now because I was worried that I wasn't enjoying them as much as I did in past.

I do have to admit that I do find myself skim reading some sections, the bits which detail things like blood spatter analysis (which having read this book once, and watched numerous episodes of CSI and the like, I pretty much get when they start talking about it). I'm sure that's just me, I like that I can read it, without having to read it really really closely, so I get the jist of what's being said there. Kathy Reichs has a habit of going into massive detail on things, which probably could have been more glossed over without spoiling the story at all.

The book did have some good, funny little one liners as well. That's something which Kathy Reichs does well, little comments which Tempe is thinking to herself and things. They're usually similar to the sorts of things I think myself, so I guess I can relate there.
"Cars and vans lined the highway, and reporters assaulted us in English and French. Ignoring them in both languages, we rolled past the cameras and mikes, identified ourselves to the officer on guard, and slipped through the gates."
Page 77

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sorting My Schedule & Project 365+1 Day 57

Looks like I've solved the scheduling problem. Of course, it was something really obvious and simple (it's also something which I swear I checked before I switched to the new Blogger interface, so hopefully that's it sorted this time). Basically I've been set to the wrong time zone, so it has been scheduling posts, but eight hours later than I was planning for them to posted.

Oh well, alls well that ends well. Hopefully it won't go shifting me back in time again any time soon.

And as well as getting that sorted. I've also had my letter come through from the hospital. It's dated the 23rd, so they obviously got it sorted the day after we phoned them. It's just as well that we did, because if it had come any later, it would have caused problems.
Day 57: A Long-Expected Letter
It's come with a leaflet explaining the things that I wanted to know. Helpful little things like don't bring large amounts of money with you (presumably bribing the staff is frowned upon), you can bring your own dressing gown or they'll lend you one (I'm inclined to borrow one of theirs considering I rarely wear mine and I'd be worried about messing it up there and not having it for when I get back), and that you should have a responsible adult there for you that night (not sure where we're going to get one of those at such short notice ;-D).

Actually getting the letter makes it seem a little bit more scary and real. I've had a couple of operations under local anaesthetic before (once to remove 2.5" of wood from my leg and once to fix a ganglion in my wrist). Speaking to a friend earlier today I realised exactly what it is that kind of freaks me out about it (aside from the fact that someone's going to be y'know, rummaging around in my insides); it's the fact that I'll be going to sleep in one place and waking up in another.

I've had sleep-walking episodes in the past (one particularly memorable one involved managing to get from a top bunk bed to a bottom one, whilst my ankle was in a cast, have no idea how I managed it!) and I hate that disorientating feeling when you come round somewhere which definitely isn't the place where you went to sleep. I don't think it'll be very nice to experience that alongside the pain and discomfort following the operation.

And hopefully I'll get some information about what's going on inside me. I'm really hoping that they'll be able to tell me something right away, rather than saying "you'll hear from us next week" because I really want to know what we're up against.

So you'll have to excuse me getting slightly freaked out over the next couple of weeks. I'm trying to strike the right balance between too much Googling (so you read every horror story) and not enough (so you go in without thinking to ask any of the right questions).

Project 365+1 Days 50 - 56

I'm being really organised with my photos this week. Most days I've put off taking my picture until the very last minute which has produced some... interesting results. We've been stopping with my in-laws while my father-in-law gets his knee fixed, so most photos have been snapped in our room while we've been getting ready for bed.

We brought a load of damp laundry with us, which saved time in packing. We had a week's worth of clothes right there. The plan was to be back home once my father-in-law was out of hospital, but due to delays and complications we've been here a bit longer so mid-way through the week we had to go home and grab more supplies.
Day 50: Ready For Work
All of our clothes are still spread between the laundry basket and the backpack that we brought with us. Mr. Click did do some emergency laundry earlier in the week because I somehow managed to miscalculate the underwear situation and things were getting a bit desperate.

I also finally cracked into the Rolos that Mr. Click put in my Christmas stocking. He got me a lovely personalised pack, which I had been planning to eat (and photograph) on Valentine's Day. He kept putting them in my lunchbox for work and by Monday I cracked and finally decided to pig them all... but not before taking a photo for posterity.
Day 51: My Last Rolo
Chocolate was also the theme for the day on Tuesday. I'd been craving it all day (and had done a very good job of resisting the vending machine at work), but I hinted that when Mr. Click went out for his band practice, he might like to bring back a treat.

He didn't disappoint me.
Day 52: More Chocolate
He actually had the foresight to bring back two bars. One of which we pigged out on while we watched TV that evening and the second we polished off together last night. And just typing this out just now and looking at the pictures I took is making me crave it again. Thankfully I still have those last three Rolos in the bedroom, I shall have to go and tidy those up.

I've been continuing with the origami folding as well. Not so well unfortunately. The pig has me beaten. One of the guys at work brought me some proper origami paper this week and having looked at it I've decided that I need to make some flowers to decorate my work desk with (at the moment I have about a hundred cranes).
Day 53: Lotus Blossom
I took another last minute photo of the little flower that I made. It would definitely look nice with proper coloured paper, in the white it just looks like a piece of folded white paper. I couldn't get it right when I was trying it at work the following day though, so I'll have to have another go once I've reminded myself how I did it.

As part of my Project 365+1 I've been trying to get some good photos of our girls. After my success with my random pointing and clicking in Bell's direction last week, I was hoping for something similar this week. It's really not very easy. They're such little clowns, even Bell doesn't sit still for long once the top of the cage is opened. Ivy is scared of the camera and Carol moves too quickly to catch in a picture (instead I have lots of insane close-ups, bits of her bum, or tail, or ears).
Day 54: Fish Supper
Holly, on the other hand, well she was easily bribed with a bit of fish. She was perfectly happy for me to point the loud clicky thing at her, as long as she was allowed to pig out a bit. I'll have to post the twenty or so photos that I had to take in order to get this one half-way reasonable one which is actually in focus. There's one where Carol is so close to the lens that she's just a pig-shaped blur, and several of Bell being a goof (and one of Ivy looking like I'm about to eat her).

The girls have been rather spoilt while we've been staying here. We always give them leftovers, but with an extra two people in the house, there've been rather more leftovers than usual. Last night we had one of my favourites, these really big meaty lamb burgers. The smell from them cooking in the kitchen sent the girls wild, so we had to make sure that they didn't miss out.
Day 55: Spoilt bRats
They truly are spoilt brats. They were climbing the bars trying to get to this as soon as we brought it into the room. I should probably add that they don't get treats like this all the time (although to look at Holly, you'd never believe me), they always fail to be impressed with rat nougats after a big treat like this.
Day 56: Highland Health
And of course, because this has been a week of hospital appointments and the like (and I needed a picture to illustrate yesterday's blog entry), I thought a shot of the letter I'd received from the NHS would be suitable for yesterday's picture. I actually think it's probably the best one of the week so far. I must try harder next week.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Appointments & Letters

It looks as though updating myself to the new Blogger interface has solved my scheduled posting problems. Of course, I didn't get online on Thursday, then when I checked my blog on Friday I couldn't remember whether there was a post scheduled that should have been posted (there was, it had). Anyway, that makes me happy because I can go back to writing up book review posts for whenever I'm not going to have an internet connection, and save the interesting (hah) real-life posts for when I do.

The last fortnight has been one hospital-related event after another. Starting with my appointment on the 13th, then the following Friday when my father-in-law went in for his knee replacement surgery (which he had on the 18th).

Mr. Click collected him from hospital on Wednesday and yesterday the district nurse didn't like the look of his knee, so Mr. Click's had to dash over to the hospital on the mainland with him for a check up with an orthopedic consultant to make sure everything is still okay.
Unfortunately not the letter I'm waiting for
Meanwhile, I'm still waiting to hear about my surgery. It's been pencilled in for the 12th of March, which is a Monday, which means I'll need to take time off. And as it's a medical appointment, if I want to get the time off authorised properly, I need proof from the hospital. Like a letter. Which I'm still waiting for.

Of course, I could book the time off as a holiday, which I'll be doing for the day or two afterwards anyway for recovery. But I'm not wanting to book time off and then get a letter saying it'll be the following week, so have to go through the hassle of rearranging the time off.

So we phoned on Wednesday, just to check, figuring it's been a week and a half, perhaps the letter has gotten lost in the post (especially as Royal Mail has been a bit lax about our mail redirection since we moved). Apparently the surgery is still on, we should get a letter, they would call us back if there was a problem, if not we should assume it'll still be on the 12th.

Which is good to know, but still doesn't solve the problem of the fact that I don't actually have the date of my surgery in writing. And that I don't have any information about it, like the essentials, things like do I need to fast (and how long for), where I need to go, what I need to bring, if I need to do anything (or not do anything) before I go.

Coupled with the fact that in the weeks leading up to and since my hospital appointment, my body as started doing some interesting new weird and random things, I'm getting more and more keen to get checked out. I think actually having the appointment has made me all the more impatient to actually get things moving now.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Book 10 of 2012: The Perfect Storm

For some reason, Blogger's scheduled posts option isn't working for me at the moment. I've been merrily scheduling posts all week (even though I've known that I'm going to be around to update on the evenings, it's nice to be organised) and then coming along each evening and having to upload them myself anyway.
Googling hasn't solved the problem, it seems like the last time people had similar problems it was summer last year. I've tried updating the Blogger interface, so we'll see whether or not that helps at all.
Anyway, onto my next book of the year; The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. Of course I've seen the film, many years ago, and loved it for years. I was aware that it was based on a book (a friend who came to visit read it when she came across on the ferry many years ago, much to the amusement of the other passengers), and I've always wanted to read it, but I've never gotten around to it.
Then I bought a set of books called 'Stranger Than Fiction...' from The Book People, which are all stories about real people and events, but which are, funnily enough, stranger than fiction. They are all beautiful books. The covers are really pretty (which always makes a book nice to look at).
Seen here on top of my OU course books
This book was more the sort of thing I had been expecting Longitude to be. It was all based on fact, there was a lot of factual information packed into the story, but there was speculation there which posed events as they might have been. It was very well done, especially considering that when it was written in 1997, it wasn't that long since the actual storm itself and by writing the book Junger was going to be opening wounds that were barely healed for the family and friends of the lost men.

I really enjoyed it. If I hadn't been quite so busy working on my OU, I probably would have finished it much quicker. Although it had a lot of information about weather and boating terms (which when compared to the similar aspects of Longitude which detailed sailing and how clocks were made/used which I found quite boring), but it was all explained in a really interesting way. It was written in a slightly more 'literary' style (totally borrowing from my course here) which meant that even though there were technical terms which might have bogged it down, they were almost poetic in places and described using quotes from people who had experienced the events themselves.

One thing which might ordinarily have annoyed me, but which really didn't, was the switches in tenses through the book. As it was dealing with events that had happened, specutlation on what might have happened, as well as memories, there as some shifting between present and past tense. I did become aware of it somewhere around the first couple of chapters of the book, and sort of noted that it wasn't bugging me, probably because it felt like a very natural way to move between the past and present.

Obviously, having seen the film, I knew how the book would end, but there were differences. I was surprised at how little focus there was on the crew of the Andrea Gail. The main focus of the film is obviously on the men and the events on the boat before and during the storm. In the book Junger spends a lot of time explaining that it's not possible to know what happened, but that other people who have been in similar situations and survived have experiences this. It's a very respectful way of handling what happened.

I found it really sad in places, which was kind of expected, given the subject matter. It was also kind of creepy; there's a lot of superstitions surrounding fishing (and sailing in general). The dreams that family members had following the loss of the boat were heartbreaking.

I really did enjoy this book and I'm so glad that I've read it. I'd definitely recommend it, though maybe not to someone who's got to travel by boat regularly. I don't think I could have done it when I was having to commute off the island everyday.
"The body could be likened to a crew that resorts to increasingly desperate measures to keep their vessel afloat. Eventually the last wire has shorted out, the last bit of decking has settled under the water. Tyne, Pierre, Sullivan, Moran, Murphy, and Shatford are dead."
Page 146

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Book 9 of 2012: The Last Hero

Once again, I've skipped a book. Book 8 of 2012 is another of the book tree books, so I'll recap and review that once the 'tree' has finished so as not to spoil the surprse for anyone who is going to be reading it in the next few months.
Book 9 was the 27th in the series of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books: The Last Hero. I did get a copy of this signed when I met Terry Pratchett many years ago. The copy I read this time around actually has a few more pictures in it than the previous copy I'd seen.
"The place where the story happened was a world on the back of four elephants perched on the shell of a giant turtle. That's the advantage of space. It's big enough to hold practically anything, and so, eventually, it does."
Page 5
Although I'd flicked through it before to look at the pictures, I've never actually sat and read it before. I'd actually hoped to read it sooner in the month, but the one thing that goes against it is that it's hardly a portable book. I couldn't fit it in my bag, so I couldn't take it to work to read in my breaks.

Then again, it wouldn't be anywhere near as beautiful in a small copy and it did make for a brilliantly quick read. I started reading it in the afternoon on a Saturday and finished it the following morning. I probably would have finished it sooner if it was just a straightforward short story/novella, but the pictures need to be looked at.

"'It killed Old Vincent the Ripper,' said Boy Willie. 'He choked to death on a concubine.
There was no sound but the hiss of snow in the fire and a number of people thinking fast.
'I think you mean cucumber,' said the bard."
Page 55
I honestly wish that every Discworld book could be illustrated in this way. Paul Kidby does a fantastic job of capturing the images of Discworld. They are so detailed and almost realistic. There are a couple that I would love to get framed and pin up because they are just that good, I'd love to look at them all the time.

I mean, seriously:
"'We ought to release the fire boats first, sir,' said Carrot.
'Silly me, yes,' said Leonard. 'I'd forget my own head if it wasn't held on with bones and skin and things!"
Page 99
I also love the little parodies of space travel. It's the classic Discworld sense of humour which I love. There were so many quotes that it made it really hard (once again) to pick just a handful of favourites. Thankfully it was shorter than most of the stories, so I didn't have quite as much choice.
"On the Kite, the situation was being 'workshopped'. This is the means by which people who don't know anything get together to pool their ignorance."
Page 122
The main story is of course the story of the band of heroes (who are all rather elderly, but they don't see why that should be a problem) who are planning to 'return' the fire to the gods, but there's also the substory of Vetinari's plan to stop it happening which involves a foray into space travel. It's the perfect story for illustration, as much as I wish that all of the series could be illustrated (I know, it would cost a fortune to do them all) it needs to give the illustrator plenty of material to work with and a longer book would probably offer a bit too much.
"'Poor chap. It's affecting his mind,' Carrot leaned forward. 'We ought to get him home as soon as possible. What's the usual direction? "second star to the left and straight on 'til morning"?'
'I think that may very probably be the stupidest piece of astronavigation ever suggested,' said Rincewind."
Page 173

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Book 7 of 2012: St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised By Wolves

Jen over at HTV has restarted the book club (which was originally started several years ago but which fizzled out in the last year) and St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves is the first of the resurrected club's books.

Unfortunately my local library (and every other library in the area) refused to acknowledge its existence. Thankfully Jen sent me her copy to borrow (I love that the internet has introduced me to some brilliant friends who are willing to send books 400 miles away so I don't miss out).
The first thing that sucked me into this book has to be the cover. I mean, look at it, it's beautiful. How can you resist a book that looks like this? I mean, it's all very well to say that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but one that looks like this has a lot to live up to.

And it did.

With books that are being recommended, either through the book club or one of the trees, I try to avoid reading the blurbs or anything about them online. At least until I get to the end of the book, then I check them out to see whether I agree with them. It's probably one of those weird little quirks, but it helps me to avoid forming opinions beforehand.

So it caught me as a bit of a surprise that this was a collection of short stories, I wasn't sure what to expect, so when I saw the list of story titles I realised I'd been expecting an ordinary novel. I'm so glad that it wasn't just one long story. I don't think any of the stories would have benefitted from being longer, they were just long enough to draw you in, get you well and truly into it and then wrap up. You wanted more, but the stories were complete enough... if that makes sense.

I would have loved to have been able to read this all in one sitting. In fact, if I'd started it at the weekend, I would have just sat in bed and refused to move until I was done. Unfortunately I started it on a Tuesday night and then had to stop reading (because it was a work night) and take it to work with me the following day. I caught snippets of it in my breaks and finished it at last in bed that night, so it is a wonderfully quick read.

The one downside to reading it this way is that I had to stop and start a couple of times during a couple of the stories and I would have been better off taking breaks at the end of the stories. They were really intriguing with little links between the stories and these little elements of magic-realism that went completely unexplained, but the stories were complete little units in themselves.

The way it was written reminded me a lot of Kate Atkinson's Not The End Of The World , another book club book which I fell in love with several years ago. There were similar little fantastical elements in it as well as the links between each of the stories. As with that one, I liked to spot the links between them all.

My very favourite story of the bunch was without a doubt Haunting Olivia. The story of two boys whose younger sister drifted out to sea, and who find a scuba mask allowing them to see ghosts underwater, so try to find her. It's quite sad and I just loved the way it was written.

I also liked the title story, St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised By Wolves. I'd been looking forward to reading it from the start and it didn't disappoint. It follows the girls from were-families who are taken in to a convent and taught to become humans. It was another one with a touch of sadness to it, but there's also a strong sense of humour throughout the whole story and the two balance each other out well.

There were a few which were a little bit weird, like the first one Ava Wrestles The Alligator. But I wouldn't say I disliked them, I think I just needed give myself time to get the swing of the how the book was written. Even the ones which were a bit on the strange side were beautifully written, poignant and had that same humourous streak to them.

I'm definitely going to have to get hold of a copy for myself at some point because it's a lovely book that deserves a reread. I desperately wanted to recommend it to everyone at work, but it's one of those books that I'm hesitant to suggest to others in case they don't love it as much as I do. Then again, writing out a review like this will probably do more for it than my gushing "I'm reading this incredible book, it's weird and amazing and I don't want to put it down" that I came out with to my friends.
"I loved Olivia. But that doesn't mean I didn't recognise that she was one weird little kid. She used to suffer these intense bouts of homesickness in her own bedroom. When she was very small, she would wake up tearing at her bedspread and shrieking, "I wanna go home! I wanna go home!" Which was distressing to all of us, of course, because she was home."
Page 35

Monday, 20 February 2012

Book 6 of 2012: The Road To Middle-earth

Being the huge Lord of the Rings fan that I am, I've taken it upon myself to read more about Tolkien and his influences. Quite conveniently, I already have a vast collection of books about Tolkien and his influences, most of which I've dipped into over the years, but never actually sat down to read from cover to cover.
At the end of last year I read Tolkien's biography and his Letters. Book 6 of this year was The Road to Middle-earth: How J. R. R. Tolkien created a new mythology by T.A. Shippey. It's one of the several that I'd dipped into in the past, but it's always seemed a bit too academic to just sit and read for fun.

I found it much more interesting that I was expecting it to. At first glance it had looked a little bit dry and dusty, but it was really interesting. In fact, there were bits of it, dealing with old languages and Tolkien's influences in that respect, which seemed quite relevant to the linguistics course that I'm doing. I wish I'd marked the pages while I was reading it because I think some of them could be used in future essays.

I did struggle to get into it a little at the beginning. The end, too, was a little heavy going and I did find myself scanning ahead to later pages to see whether it was going to continue in the same vein for a long time. The middle bit was wonderful though. I got through it really quickly, mainly because I didn't want to put it down.

My main complaint with this book, perhaps other editions are better (mine is different to the one pictured above), is that it needs some serious editing. There were some pretty obvious typos that should have been caught, not just minor things either, some really bad things like half a sentence being printed twice at the end of a paragraph.

Shippey makes really valid and interesting points, but he has a very round-about way of saying things. He's clearly really knowledgeable about what he's writing about but some paragraphs and sentences sound rather clumsy. I know I'm hardly one to talk, but as I was reading, I was mentally correcting some sentences to make them sound 'right' in my head.

Despite this, it was a really worthwhile read, one which I would recommend to anyone interested in Tolkien's influences and how The Lord of the Rings came into being.

"It is hard not to think that he saw himself (perhaps only at times) as Firiel, Farmer Maggot and Frodo, 'Looney' and eventually Smith - a mortal deserted by the immortals and barred from their company. He no longer imagined himself rejoining his own creations after death, like Niggle; he felt they were lost, like the Silmarils."
Page 251

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Project 365+1 Days 43 - 49

Yep, photo project is still going strong. I'm quite impressed at how I'm doing so far actually. I think the last time I seriously tried doing it a couple of years ago, I ran out of steam around March. I've kind of hit that point now where I know I need to be taking a photo at some point during the day and in the morning I start planning what it might be of, even if I know I won't be taking it until later.

Accord to the 365 Project site, I'm now 13% of the way through the project. Which is pretty good going, if you ask me.

And on to this week's photos. I'll start off by making everyone jealous of the spectacular scenery where I live:
Day 43: Night Rolls In
Last Sunday there was a fantastic sunset, we watched the sky changing colour outside my in-laws' windows and I decided that I'd have to stick my shoes on and nip outside to get a quick photo. The clouds slowly drew across the sky and it went through a range of purple, orange, pink and blue. Kind of reminded me of one of the pieces in Fantasia.

The following day, as I said in my previous post, I was off for a hospital appointment and some shopping. We do a big food shop once a month, before we go we take stock of what we've got left, make a list of what we want to have that coming month, then make a list and work out roughly what it'll come to. And only then do we actually go to the shops and buy the stuff.

Considering the last time we'd been shopping was before Christmas, our cupboards were getting pretty bare. So it was very nice when we got home from our long shopping trip, unloaded the car and made them look like this:
Day 44: Stocked Shelves
It's amazing how much food we can actually squeeze into our kitchen. Everything that we bought should keep us going for another month or so. Mr. Click always does a really good job of rustling something together on an evening for our tea, and he didn't disappoint on Valentine's Day (not that we'd actually planned anything).

I had intended to take a photo of our Valentine's Day meal, but it was late, and I was starving, and it just smelled so damn good, that by the time I remembered, it kind of looked like this:
Day 45: Empty Plates
Moments before this photo was taken, there were two plates full of Chinese stirfry with noodles, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, bean sprouts and water chestnuts. It was very tasty.

This week I also spent a lot of time working on my assignment. My reward, I had told myself, would be to install The Sims 3 on my laptop and play it once I finished. After a week of doodling house designs that I wanted to make on bits of paper (instead of actually getting on with the things I should have been doing), my assignment was more or less complete and I went to dig out The Sims 3.

Except it was nowhere to be found. It looks as though, in the process of moving house, it got left behind. After searching the cupboard with all the computer and games console stuff; the last couple of boxes which we're still in the process of unpacking and organising; the cupboard and boxes which we knew it wasn't in but checked anyway just in case; we were forced to admit that perhaps we didn't have it any more.

So Mr. Click ordered me a replacement copy, which arrived on Wednesday. Of course by the time it arrived I was busy with other things and didn't have time to get it set up on my computer (until Friday, when I wasted several hours creating a little mini-version of myself and Mr. Click). But I took a photo of it, celebrate its arrival.
Day 46: A New Game
It's been an age since I last played The Sims and I swear this edition of the game is slightly different to the one I had when it first came out. There are some features that I either had turned off before, or which were never there to start with. I spent a good chunk of the day yesterday playing with it, making my sims have loads of children (and trying to cure the resulting nervous breakdowns). At some point I'll put the World Advntures expansion pack on too, then everyone can have a holiday. I have far too much love for this game.

It's been a bit of a week for new things really. New clothes for Mr. Click, new foods for the cupboard, new game for me and then a big treat on Thursday; the new washing machine... or Bertie the Beko as my Mum-in-Law has christened it.
Day 47: Bertie
Bertie is a 6kg, A+ standard washing machine and I was so thrilled to get it all set up. As I said before, we'd been putting off getting it for months and months, it's so nice just to be able to toss all our laundry in and have spun well when we get it out, so all we need to do is hang it up. I'm sure Mr. Click appreciates not having to wring stuff out any more (and we can wash our jeans at home now). A definite improvement.

We did have to find a new home for all of our lemonade as well as the rat litter and food that formerly occupied the space where Bertie now lives. Luckily Mr. Click took better care of it than I did. My solution was to stick the lemonade on top of the counter (neither safe nor attractive). But Bertie is slim enough for there to be room down the side for the two airers we use for drying stuff indoors.

Of course, if you're going to have a washing machine, you're also going to need a laundry basket. Mr. Click picked ours up earlier in the week and I'd shoved it in the cupboard upstairs. When he reorganised the lemonade, it made space just above the washing machine, alongside the washing powder, so now we've got a little laundry station in our back room. It makes me feel so grown up to be getting excited about things like this, hehe.
Day 48: Lots of Laundry
And there's the results of our first two loads in the machine. My Father-in-Law had his knee replacement surgery yesterday, so we've temporarily (rats and all) moved in with my Mum-in-Law, so we took the soggy washing with us (many because it saved on packing clean clothes, into a bag, everything we might want to wear is in this basket... plus some tea towels).

Father-in-Law's surgey went well and although he's in pain, he's come through it well. We're just waiting to find out how his physiotherapy goes today and hopefully by tomorrow we'll have an idea of when he'll be coming out.

As I said, we brought the rats with us and I spent a good part of yesterday playing on The Sims, so I wasn't sure what I'd select as my photo for the day. Sometimes it's the days when you don't know what you'll use that turn out the best, and I have fallen in love with yesterday's photo.

Our bizarre little girlie!rats normally all snuggle up together in their little hammock, but for some reason, since we've brought them here, they've started curling up in the (empty) litter tray together. The best I can think of is that they're getting warmer than usual all in the hammock and so are retreating to another spot to cool down. Whatever the reason, when I went through to our room to pick up my camera to post the photo of the practically tropical temperatures last Monday, I saw two sleepy little rats curled in the hammock and decided to go for it as my photo of the day.

Unfortunately, the moment I turned the camera on, the little darlings woke up and started clambering all over. And the camera kept on focusing on the bars, rather than the rats (or covering the rats with blurry stripes from the bars). So I opened the cage, stuck the camera in and rattled off about ten shots in quick succession, not able to see how they would look.

There were some awful pictures, but there were a couple that weren't too bad. And this has to be my new favourite:
Day 49: Peek-a-Bell
That's my cute little Bell rat. She's becoming quite the camera hog (she can also be seen in a previous photo from this month, examining my OU text books). I'm hoping I can repeat the success with this photo and take some of my other girls, it might be easier to get some in this way because when we've got them out, they just want to be held and cuddled.

And so that's me for another week (photowise at least). I'm hoping to carry on getting caught up on the reviews of the books I've been reading so far this year (just started book number 16 of the year this morning, so I'm no so far behind).

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Double Figures!

Had a little trip off the island on Monday. Mostly because I had a hospital appointment (more on that later), but also because our cupboards were looking a little bare (considering we hadn't done a proper shop since well before Christmas).

As my appointment wasn't until after lunch, we headed off early, did all the food shopping in one go beforehand and then spend some time before lunch indulging in some retail therapy. Impressively, I didn't actually buy very much (aside from a Kathy Reichs book that I'm planning on reading at some point in the future). I'd had big plans for a trip to HMV, so was more than slightly disappointed to discover it's closed down in the shopping centre, as have the two game shops I wanted to visit.

But the all-you-can-eat buffet is still there, so I wasn't too sad.

I had been a bit unsure of what to wear that day as well. As you can see, I needn't have worried:
Bad blurry photo is bad and blurry (it was either this or the one which shows that our dashboard is REALLY dusty)
It was actually 11 seconds before I took this photo, but we were moving at the time and all of those ones came out even blurrier!

And then there was the hospital appointment. I wasn't expecting things to move too quickly there, considering the fact that it's taken a year (one way and another) to get to the referral point (not entirely the NHS's fault, I hasten to add - I had a blood test taken in February last year during which they tested everything apart from the thing the doctor had asked them to test for, stuff happened and I couldn't get it rescheduled until October last year, when they repeated the process... exactly as before and once again tested everything apart from the main test the doctor had ordered. Got it right the third time, and the results came back all normal, which is why I then got the referral because despite what my blood says, things don't seem to be normal). Phew!

The doctor was fantastic, he quite literally wrote down everything I mentioned (right down to my aversion to tomatoes and my lanolin allergy). I'd say that most of the appointment was me telling him stuff and him writing them down.

Then came the cracker. He wants to operate on me! Under general anaesthetic! I think the look on my face probably told him what I thought to that. Apparently there is a non-surgical option but that's not as reliable, and also the surgical route means that if there's anything minor causing the problem, they might be able to fix it while they're in there; non-surgical could mean that they would still need to go in to a) find the problem and b) fix something if they find it.

The other shocker was that he wants me in next month, I'm just waiting for my referral so I can get the time booked off work. Earlier in the week I was kind of freaked by it, but I've spoken to a couple of people who've had the same thing done and I'm feeling a bit more at peace with it all now. I'm sure I'll flip-flop between the two feelings between now and next month.

The other big thing we did this week was bought a washing machine.

When we moved into our house we bought a fridge (with mini freezer) and were given a cooker, but the washing machine was something we decided we could live without.

And we did.

And it was easy in the summer, getting stuff done by hand. And then there's the local laundrette and my in-laws who let us borrow their machine as well. So we saved up our pennies and planned to get one in November... but then it was coming up to Christmas and the car needed its MOT, so we put it off, and we spent a lot of Christmas with my in-laws, so again, there wasn't as much point getting something we weren't going to use.

January began with a powercut and again, we post-poned the purching of the washing machine, just a little bit longer.

By February we'd got the money set aside and decided that we should hurry up and go for it before we spent it one something else. Which turned out to be a very good decision as one of our local electrical shops decided to have a sale, meaning that our £250 budget stretched much further than we'd planned it to. Plus delivery was free.

So my photo of the day for Thursday (which I should get posted tomorrow) is of our brand new shiny washing machine.

I think quite possibly the best thing about it is the spin feature. When you get used to having things washed by hand (thank you, Mr. Click) they have to be hung up in the bath to drip-dry before you can think about hanging them beside a heater (unless you don't mind puddles on the kitchen floor). Thursday night the laundry came out damp and by the morning it was virtually dry (and the kitchen floor wasn't even damp).

I'm just a little bit in love.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Book 5 of 2012: Death Du Jour

Having decided to lay off the fantasy books a little bit this year, I've restocked my bookshelf with crime books. This has led to a reread of the Kathy Reichs Temperance Brennan series. I read the first one towards the end of last year and I'm continuing to make my way through them.
The second book in the series is Death Du Jour and I first read it in about two days when I was travelling to and from Uni many years ago. I came to the books after the TV series and love them both separately. I've read most of the series before, bar the last three which I've either not owned until recently, or did own but was holding off rereading until I could reread the whole series.
This photo actually shows the space where this book should be on my bookshelf.
One of my favourite things about these books is the cliffhanger endings to the chapters. They build up to some shocking revelation, only to hold it back until the next chapter. And most of the time it's not on the first page of the new chapter, so you can't just turn over and take a glance before you put the book down for the night. It's impossible to just read one chapter because invariably something happens, or some piece of evidence comes in, and 'just one more' becomes several more and one for luck.

Normally I sail through these books quite quickly, however I've noticed with both this one and Deja Dead, I've been reading much slower. I think it's largely because this is about my third or fourth reading of them and I already know who did it. That's the main problem with rereading crime books. You know more than the characters do and it's frustrating.

I love the fact that these books are a little bit dated now in terms of the technology available. Tempe (the narrator) explains things like the University email system and having mobile phones is a novelty. Of course, my other love is the Tempe/Ryan romance. I remember getting to page 257 the first time I read the book just as I was pulling into the train station and rushing to finish it before I had to put it away. I am such a hopeless shipper.

It's a bit tricky to find quotes in the book though. They're just not the sort of books that lend themselves to being readily quoteable. They're good reading material for a few nights and are generally a quick read. Plus they're small and fit nicely into my bag to take to work.
"I turned to face him, to pull the plug, and our eyes met. Ryan hesitated a moment, then cupped my face in both his hands and pressed his lips to mine."
Page 257

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Book 4 of 2012: Longitude

Continuing with my catch up of reading material for the year so far, book number four was Longitude by Dava Sobel. I picked up this one a while ago as part of a set from The Book People, comprising of ten books that are 'Stranger Than Fiction'. They're about people from all over the world in all sorts of situations; the first two being The Naked Civil Servant and Reading Lolita in Tehran which I read last year.

Longitude is the third in the series and is about John Harrison who invented a clock which could be used to determine Longitude on voyages across the sea. It's honestly not the sort of thing that I would normally pick up, I've not read a great deal of non-fiction in recent years and this was more of a non-fiction book than a historical novel.
I was honestly expecting something a little more 'fictionalised' than what this proved to be. It was interesting, but it was in all honesty just a sort of report on what happened and how. As interesting as it was, the blurb on the back had it packaged as some sort of thriller filled with intrigue and political rivalry, which it kind of did, but not what I had expected.

In the introduction to my copy it explained that this book came into being after the author wrote an article on the same topic for a magazine and was told that she should expand on it in a book. The book never really seemed to shake off the article-y feel. I would have expected to find this sort of a story in a Sunday paper supplement, rather than packaged between the pages of a paperback.

The author herself also pointed out that there were a number of people with the same names. It was tricky at times to keep track of them all and it wasn't helped by the way that the story seemed to jump back and forth between one time period and another. It made it terribly confusing at times.

One aspect of the book that I did enjoy was the little quotes at the chapter headings, each linked in some way to the subject of Longitude or time. They all fitted in quite neatly and I liked coming to the start of a chapter to see what the next quote would be.

Having read this one, I don't feel like I'll be rushing to search out any more books by the same author, it was an interesting read. Perhaps if I was more interested in sea travel, or clocks, or inventors it might have appealled to me a little more. As it is, I felt a bit cheated between the promise on the cover and the contents of the book.

It was a nice short, quick little read (which I was kind of grateful for) but I do think that it would make a great subject for an episode of Doctor Who...
"With his marine clocks, John Harrison tested the waters of space-time. He succeeded, against all odds, in using the fourth-temporal-dimension to link points on the three-dimensional globe. He wrested the world's whereabouts from the stars, and locked the secret in a pocket watch."
Page 175

Monday, 13 February 2012

Book 3 of 2012: Thief of Time

Yes, I know, I've not made a post on Book 2 of 2012, that's because I'm part of a book club (organised by the amazing Jen) which sends the books around to the various members and you never know which one you'll get next. This year it's a book and film adaptation 'tree' and I'm not wanting to spoil the upcoming books for anyone who's involved and wants to be surprised. I'll catch up with those ones later.

I'm currently onto my twelfth book of the year, so not doing too badly on my target to read fewer books. I clocked in a massive 145 last year, this year I'm taking my time and going a little steadier on them. Which is nice. Also about 100 of those books last year were pure fantasy, I'm trying to break away from that a little this year (slightly unsuccessfully, I think), but that didn't stop me from selecting Terry Pratchett's Thief of Time as my third book of the year.

Before I started reading this, I was sure I'd already read it. Of course, I was mistaken, this one was entirely new for me. As I've been working through all the Discworld books (in order) I've been coming across lots that I've either read before (but largely forgotten the plots of) or had started but for whatever reason never finished. I've now hit a point where most of the books that I will be reading, will be rereads (because I read them as they came out), which makes me a little bit sad because there's really nothing like reading a Terry Pratchett book for the first time and was nice to know that there were loads that I was yet to discover.

"'Scuse me,' said the raven, 'but how come Miss Ogg became Mrs Ogg? Sounds like a bit of rural arrangement, if you catch my meaning.'
WITCHES ARE MATRILINEAL, said Death. THEY FIND IT MUCH EASIER TO CHANGE MEN THAN TO CHANGE NAMES."
Page 22

I'll admit that this one did get a little bit confusing in places. I invariably get confused at one point or another during a Discworld book, but if I relax and go with the flow, the little tangles work themselves out in the end. The fact that this one was dealing with time travel and [spoiler] two people who were actually one [end of spoiler] kind of meant that getting confused somewhere along the way was to be expected.

I was thrilled to discover that this book featured Susan, Death's granddaughter. I'm a major fan of Susan and I love how she's progressed a little bit in each book (now she's a teacher, rather than a governness). I would have loved to have been in her class at school, I'm sure.

I always find it amusing that the Sky adaptation of Hogfather as totally changed the way I picture her. Michelle Dockery is just how I see Susan now, I can't help it. I know when I read Soul Music for the first time I had a definitely mental picture of what Susan looked like. Unfortunately, I've now completely lost that in place of Michelle Dockery's version of Susan, not that it's a bad change, of course.

"'Algebra? said Madam Frout, perforce staring at her own bosom, which no-one else had ever done. 'But that's too difficult for seven-year-olds!'
'Yes, but I didn't tell them that and so far they haven't found out,' said Susan."
Page 120

It was also good to learn more about The History Monks. There have been mentions of them before, but it was good to finally learn more about them. In true Terry Pratchett style there's a lot of information about them. It helps to make it all seem that little bit more real, or at least, as real as things get on a world carried through space on the backs of four elephants standing on a turtle.
"There is a way of playing certain musical instruments that is called 'circular breathing', devised to allow people to play the didgeridoo or the bagpipes without actually imploding or being sucked down the tube. 'Slicing time' was very much the same, except time was substituted for air, and it was a lot quieter."
Page 174

At the beginning of the book, I was expecting to find the bits with The Auditors a bit tiresome. They always annoy me in Hogfather. I realise that it's kind of the point of them but I was hoping that I'd seen the last of them then. They actually grew on me in Thief of Time though, I kind of felt sorry for them in the end. But it does prove that chocolate is the solution to all of life's problems.

One of the only problems I have when reading Terry Pratchett books is selecting the quotes to write up in my book journal. I allow myself five per book (unless I can make my writing teeny tiny enough to squeeze in a sixth) and sometimes I only manage four, especially if some of the quotes are a bit on the long side. With the Discworld books sometimes I end up with less purely because I can't decide between several different quotes and it seems fairly to not take any of them, rather than elevate one to a higher status than the others. So I decided to include all four of my favourite quotes in this entry, because it was too difficult to choose.
"'Are you actually human?'
"Hah! As human as you are. I won't say I haven't got a few skeletons in the family closet, though.'
There was something about the way she said it...
'That wasn't just a figure of speech, was it?' said Lobsang flatly."
Page 307

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Project 365+1 Days 36 - 42

Earlier today I tried to get all of this week's photos uploaded to Flickr, but for some reason it wouldn't let me log in so I'll have to have a mass uploading session later in the week.

I quite like using my Project 365+1 photos to summarise my week, so I decided to make a collage of all of the January pictures. Hopefully I can do something similar for each month so I've got all of the pictures in twelve little groups.
My month in pictures
And onto the photos from this week...

Sunday I found myself craving chocolate. So when Mr. Click went out on an errand, I hinted that some chocolate might be a welcome treat. 'Hint' is maybe a little bit too subtle, I probably said something more along the lines of "I've been craving chocolate all week and I really, REALLY, think you should buy some before you think of coming home" but you know, whatever.

Either way, my hinting clearly worked:
Day 36: Double Chocolate
I should probably add here that they weren't both for me, and I do still have a significant lump of mine left because I'm not that much of a piggy.

Monday evening was largely spent ploughing on with the OU work I needed to be doing for my assignment. After noticing the colour-coding system going on with my course books I decided that I should also select my reading material to suit as well, okay, maybe it was just the next book on my obsessive-compulsively organised bookshelf. Whatever the reason, I started on The Perfect Storm, a book I'd been planning to read for several years.
Day 37: Odd One Out
So I snapped a picture of my rather impressive stack of books. I have to say that the green one in the middle (beneath the DVD case) is actually pretty good for a set course text. I've spent this week reading it in my lunch breaks at work and underlining copious amounts of it in pencil to reference in my assignment. Much better than the set text assigned for the first half of this course.

Another of my Day Zero Projects has been to buy some wool with the intention of actually making something with it (rather than spending an obscene amount on a 'good deal' and then stuffing it in a box because there's not enough of it to make anything worth making). In order to complete this task I thought I had better clear out some of the wool that I've had sitting in the spare bedroom in a big old double duvet box.

This thing was massive, about 2ft by 1ft and I was convinced that it was only about half-full with wool, surely the rest of the space in there was taken up by random junk, I could never have accumulated that much wool. Turns out, I had.
Day 38: A Big Tangle
And this is just a fraction of it! My new plan is to get knitting and use some of it up. I'm also ripping out a bunch of random things that I've started and lost the patterns for. Anything which looks too useless may get bundled up and eBayed or something. My weekend plans for a future weekend are going to include weighing and measuring just how much I've got before sorting it all into boxes and bags for easier storage. Fun!

As I said, a large portion of this week has been spent studying in one form or another. It's not always been easy, especially when your pets decide to help:
Day 39: Hitting The Books
This is Bell, deeply engrossed in my set book which I had been making notes on shortly before she decided to help. Holly and Ivy both enjoy 'helping' me keep track of my pens, while Carol likes to nibble the edges of the pages to show how far I've gotten through the book. (Who needs bookmarks when you've got rats?) On a related note, the girls are getting much better at being photographed, Ivy is a bit nervous of the flash (and they all get a bit jumpy at the sound of my DSLR) but this makes me happy because they're all so cute, I'm hoping I can get some nice photos of them all soon.

It was one of those weeks where at times I was reaching for something to photograph for 365+1. Mainly because most of my time this week has been spent working on my OU stuff. We get home in the evening, I pull out the books, we get the girls out and watch Spooks. Not really very many options for photos.
Day 40: Book and Brooch
But I'm still trying to find something that actually relates to the day in one way or another. For example, Day 40 is a photo of the book that Mr. Click got and was about to start reading that night (which he did virtually as soon as I finished using it for my photo). Perched on top of it is a little brooch that a friend gave me earlier that day. I used to collect all sorts of butterfly jewellery (most of which I still have but no longer wear), I'm thinking this one will look nice on my denim jacket which I normally wear through the summer months.

Day 41: A Blank Page
I finally made a start on actually writing my assignment out, beyond the ever-so-helpful notes. In preparation for it, I put off the actually writing of the first draft for as long as I could, I spent the whole evening stalling - rereading bits of the course books, making extra notes, taking an hour long super hot bath and then taking photos of all my stuff ready to go. Once I actually started it, it was relatively painless and by the time I gave it up for the night I was only 600 words away from the end.

I'm still yet to type it out, edit it and come up with a fitting conclusion, as well as changing my placeholder references such as "[Someone] says blah blah blah [ref p.31]" which makes sense in my notes but isn't particularly academic in its general formation. I'm ever-so-slightly paranoid that one day I'm going to forget to correct these bits and will submit the wrong version of the assignment.

And yesterday was just lovely. Up and out the house for a Red Cross meeting, we picked up pizza for lunch as a little treat and then headed home for a film and to fill up. Then a bit of OU work (the final 600 words of the aforementioned assignment). By the evening we'd watched another film and spent an age with the girls running around the sofa with us. We were craving a bit of hot chocolate but hadn't bothered picking any milk up while were were out earlier in the day, so Mr. Click improvised with a wartime equivalent made with the powdered milk we use for breadmaking. It wasn't bad at all.
Day 42: Wartime Hot Chocolate
This week is set to be fun. There's a day off work and a shopping trip tomorrow, I'm quite looking forward to that, even if I have had to go for a hospital appointment as well. I'm on one of my favourite shifts at work and I'm getting my assignment finished for submission on Thursday (so expect some more OU snaps during the coming Project 365+1 bunch). I also have coursework to do for the course I'm doing at work, thankfully there's not a lot left to be done so I'll get that done once I've finished my OU stuff.

And my father-in-law is off for his knee replacement surgery at the weekend as well. So it's going to be a busy week all round.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Project 365+1 Days 29 - 35

This week has seen a break in the bad weather (there have actually been whole days when it hasn't rained!) and also a bit more daylight in the evenings (which does make taking photos easier, that is, if you've not got your camera left on the wrong setting).
Day 29: All Academic
On Sunday we managed to get Mr. Click's assignment submitted. He'd done most of it the day before, so we spent a bit of time polishing it off and making sure all that his references were in order. I have to admit, I'm a little bit jealous. My course is all about linguistics and what makes language use creative (which I find fascinating and will geekily talk about for hours), but his is music based which means he gets to make reference to interesting things like the Lord of the Rings special features and Disney's Fantasia.

I took advantage of the extra few minutes of daylight on Monday to take a photo of the view out of our front door as it was one of the suggested 365 prompts I'd collected. I didn't switch the settings on the camera so the white balance was a little bit off and there was only really one which was salvageable as my photo for the day.
Day 30: Out The Front Door
These were the trees that we watched bending right over during the bad weather a month ago. I'm amazed that they're still standing now. Unfortunately the picture I took of the Big House through the trees, all lit up and looking creepy, didn't come out right, so I'll have to save that one for another day.

This week we also got a resolution to a little problem we'd been having with British Gas. They had sent us a gas bill, which was fair enough, except for the fact that it was about eleven times what we pay each month for our gas (with a company which isn't actually British Gas) and the gas metre they were getting their readings from was apparently located in North Yorkshire.

Day 31: Final Balance
I also decided to mirror the photo I'd taken out the front door by grabbing one which was (almost) the view out the back door. Once again, I still had the camera on the wrong setting, but it didn't come out too badly this time.
Day 32: In The Garden
This is also pretty much the view we have of this tree when we're in the bathroom. I've been noticing how blue the sky looks and the contrast of the branches since way back before Christmas (when my camera was feeling poorly and I couldn't actually get a photo of it) so I'm glad that I've finally managed to grab a picture of it.

This week I've also managed to tick off another two of my things to do on my Day Zero Project. The first of which was to pay back my Father-in-law the money that I'd owed him. Discounting the thousands of pounds of student loans I owe, I'm now pretty much debt free. ;-)
Day 33: 1000 Cranes
Relearning how to fold origami cranes was another thing I was able to tick off. I used to be able to do them years ago and then was disappointed to discover that it was something I'd forgotten when I reattempted it recently. So I stuck it on my list figuring it would be something easy to do. A bit of fiddling with some paper (and a bit of googling) reminded me of what needed to be done.

Of course I then spent my free time at work folding smaller and smaller cranes from little scraps of paper. I can see this becoming an obsession.

That day we drove home from work the 'long way' so that I could try and get a picture of the sunset. I could picture the reds and oranges lighting the snow over Arran. Unfortunately we didn't get there in time (and I still hadn't realised that I had the wrong white balance settings on my camera) so I had to settle for something a little bluer.
Day 34: Sunset Over Arran
I'm hoping that we might repeat the trip in the next couple of weeks so I can see if I can get a better picture, so I really hope that snow sticks around for a while.

And yesterday, well, I had big plans for going for a walk, but that was foiled in part by the weather (which did not inspire me to go out at all) and the fact that I was nice and cosy in my jammies. I spent most of the day reading because the next book on my list was The Last Hero which is a little bit too large to take to work (or anywhere really).

I did spend a bit of time studying though, which is probably just as well considering I've got an assignment due in next week. It suddenly occurred to me that the course books have been cleverly colour-coded to match the colours of the set books on the course. I forget exactly what I had planned to take my photo of yesterday, but I was so amazed by this clever colour-coding, that I went for a photo of that instead.
Day 35: Colour-coded
And plans for this week? Well, I'm working on this assignment, I'm looking forward to a day off work the week after (even if part of the reason for a day off is for a hospital appointment) and I've already gotten my next half dozen books lined up for reading. We're also onto our last series (that we own) of Spooks, so I foresee a shopping trip in my future, along with the washing machine that we're planning to pick up soon as well.

Oh yes, it's going to be an exciting week in the Click-household.