Thursday, 23 August 2012

Book 59 of 2012: The Emigrants

When I saw the list of required reading for my OU literature course that I'm due to start at the end of next month, I have to admit, I was a little nervous. Instead I've been pleasantly surprised; I'm not sure if I was expecting a bunch of dusty old novels or hidden messages that I was supposed to decipher, but thus far I've enjoyed the books I've read.

The last one I read was The Emigrants by W. G. Sebald; tells the stories of four Jewish emigrants during the last century. It's little more than a snapshot into their lives as the author knew them but you do get an interesting glimpse of the people and their lives, and by association, the author's life as well.

Excuse the cold & flu capsules and just look at the book cover ;-)
I quite enjoyed this book. I've always enjoyed learning about the lives of other people, especially people from different cultures and countries and this ticked that box. It was also interesting to see how those people adjusted from life in their original country to the country that they moved to and I liked how the author was linked to the people.

It was a very quick read. I read it in less than three days which surprised me. It's an average-sized book but the print was larger than other books I've read recently. It's also peppered with photographs which broke up the story a little. I was a little disappointed by the lack of captions to the photos, some were of people but I couldn't tell who was who. I realise that the photos were a bit of a bonus but I think if you're going to put them there, you might as well explain who the people are.

Based on what I'd read about this book beforehand I was expecting the four individual stories to cross paths somehow. I kept on looking out for mentions of the others during the first three and then was expecting them all to come together at the end of the fourth, which obviously wasn't the case. I suppose that's because those are the sorts of stories that I'm used to, and in a way they were all interlinked through the relationship with the author. But it did feel rather like four short narratives rather than one long narrative focusing on different people.

There was a certain poetic element to the text which I enjoyed, which I think helped me to read it so quickly. The author was also very good at describing the scenes so that I could picture it well, even without the photos. I will admit that when I was reading the first part of the book it took me a while to realise that the events were taking place in Germany. I can't help but wonder how the translation compares to the original German.

I'm curious to see how this will be tackled in my course. I've only got a few more weeks to wait before it starts and I'm hoping to get my coursebooks soon so I can start investigating exactly what's going to be covered. Looking at it from a perspective of my last course, it made me realise that you have to appreciate where the author is coming from when the book is written. Without knowledge of what live was like for Jews during the 20th Century a large portion of this book probably would lose its impact.

"Memory, he added in a postscript, often strikes me as a kind of dumbness. It makes one's head heavy and giddy, as if one were not looking back down the receding perspectives of time but rather down on the earth from a great height, from one of those towers whose tops are lost to view in the clouds."Page 145


Just a quick entry to say

Mr Click has officially finished his OU course, passed it and has graduated so he gets to add BA (Open) after his name.

Well done John, now put that hood away somewhere safe, I'll be wanting it in two years time. ;-)

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Book 58 of 2012: Contrition

I have fallen a little behind in the last few weeks, incredibly my last book review post was almost a month ago! So now I'm trying to get caught back up. I can't believe how far behind I've gotten on things but I'm slowly clawing my way back into a routine.

Anyway, book 58 of the year was a free review copy of Contrition by Robert E. Hirsch which I read as an ebook on my Kindle. It's set in a small town in America where a monk discovers the body of a young girl brutally murdered in their attic. The detective responsible for the case is having flashbacks to a previous case he worked, also involving a murdered child, and it seems that the culprit may not be of this world.

I wasn't quite sure whether or not this would be my kind of a story, I mean, I like a good thriller/mystery/crime novel but I wasn't sure what I would make of the religious element. I've got a passing understanding of Catholicism but beyond what I've picked up from friends, books and TV I'm in the dark. I will admit that there were some elements of the religious aspect which were lost on me, but it was all fairly well set up so that you didn't have to absolutely understand the religion to follow the story.

It was a good story on the whole and pretty creepy in places. However I did find it a little bit convoluted at times. Two of the key characters, Tristan and Malik, have a pretty long history together but it took me a little while to figure out exactly who or what they were. I think part of this was because I wasn't sure what genre to pigeon-hole this one under, once I started getting into the book I realised that the genre didn't really matter and I just kind of went with the flow of it.

I did think that the ending was a bit rushed. It was difficult for me to follow exactly what was happening. Also, most of the way through the book there was sufficient description for me to build a picture of the scene in my mind - as an aside, I'm not sure how many other people do this, but when I read I frequently get a perfect picture of the place I'm reading about in my mind, and if I pick up a book I've read before I'm immediately taken back to that same place I pictured the first time around - but towards the end I couldn't picture things so well which led to a bit of confusion for me.

I liked the story and it was an interesting concept, kind of blending religion, horror and fantasy alongside crime. It's certainly not something I would have chosen to read had I seen it on the shelves of a bookshop, but I enjoyed it for the most part.

"It is often said that time heals the wound... and too often forgotten that nature leaves a scar so the injury may never be forgotten."Location 54

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Project 365+1: Days 226 - 231

I've got more or less caught up with myself this last week. For the first time in about six weeks I've not had a million and one things to do, I've been settled into a good routine for work, we've not had people visiting, a hundred different places to go and I've been sort of organised. This has been quite nice.

Day 226: Boxset
After our Lord of the Rings marathon at the weekend we finally got to start watching Band of Brothers, which we've had on blu ray almost as long as we've been married (so almost three years). It's one of my favourite TV series though I have to admit, I've only seen it once and Mr Click hasn't seen it at all.

For years he's had a book of music from various TV series, one of which was the Band of Brothers theme music. I love the music for this series, it makes my chest go all tight. It's such a brilliant series and it's made all the more poignant by the fact that it's not just characters, these were real people. I'll try not to say too much about it here because I'm planning a review post when we finish it (which shouldn't be too long because we're already halfway through the series just now).

The boxset is beautiful though, it's in a tin and the sleeve pulls out like this, on one side there's this fantastic picture and the other side the six blu rays. We've got a similar set for The Pacific which we'll hopefully be watching in the next couple of weeks.

Day 227: Tree Cutting In Progress
I may have mentioned (once or twice) that we had a pretty severe storm at the beginning of the year which led to rather a lot of trees blown over around the island. Considering that a large portion of the estate we live on comprises of woodland, there were a lot of trees down here. These have been gradually been cleared over the last few months, beginning with the ones which were either blocking the roads or otherwise ever-so-slightly dangerous (such as the ones leaning over a road and the only thing that was holding them up were other trees).

While I was walking Tara after work the other day we came across a sign telling us that 'Tree Cutting was in Progress' and found lots of big chunks of tree beside the road. This was one of those chunks. The photo doesn't really do it justice, it was almost as tall as I am and there were a couple of these beside the road. If a lump of tree can be photogenic, this one was, it looked quite pretty with the ivy and plants growing around it.

Day 228: Asking Very Nicely
This is Tara asking for a biscuit, you can tell how much she wants something based on how high her paws go. Obviously, she really wanted this one, if she was any more desperate for this biscuit she would have done her kind of jumping thing where she gives both paws as tried not to fall over. It's quite funny, but hurts if she catches you with her claws.

You can also tell that she's being offered something yummy because she's licking her lips. I have no idea when she started doing this, but if you're offering food for her and it's taking a while to get it, she sits there licking her lips. She has such a long tongue, hehe!

Day 229: Bye Bye Brambles
A few weeks back I noticed that there was a bramble bush slowly creeping its way across the garden, of course to deal with it we needed some snippers and gardening gloves, neither of which we had at that time. Then when we did have what we needed the weather turned and I decided to hold off doing anything about the brambles until we had a dry spell. Unfortunately the brambles quite enjoyed the wet and sunny weather and sort of exploded, so it became a slightly larger job than we had previously anticipated.

But they're all gone now (more or less). You can still see the endy bits of some of them above. I also cleared all the stinging nettles along the fence as well; I was very glad of the gardening gloves, believe me!

At the same time I started clearing some of the gunk that had accumulated at the bottom of a down pipe. I had noticed this black stuff at the bottom of the pipe before and thought it was part of the pipe, but on closer inspection discovered it was old mouldy leaves. Using the hoe I scraped away what I could and hoped that with the next heavy rainfall the rest of the blockage would be forced down until we could clear some more away and gradually we'd be able to clear it ourselves.

Well, yesterday I went out and noticed that there was a little pile of leaf mould at the bottom of the pipe again, so I took the hoe and tried scraping it away. It came away followed by a little trickle of water which I was quite pleased about so it was obviously working. The trickle was followed by a squelchy sort of noise and this semi-liquid ooze came out. I scraped that away and then there was a sort of popping noise. Mouldy old leaf flew across the garden, water gushed everywhere and my trousers got soaked. It took about ten minutes for all the water to drain away but at least the pipe is clear now. Just be grateful I didn't take a photo of the leaf ooze for my picture of the day.

Day 230: Graduation!
Mr Click officially got his degree with the OU the other week. Unfortunately the nearest graduation ceremony with the Open University this year is in Manchester which would be rather expensive as we'd have to travel down there and stop at least one night. The only other option would be to wait until next year for the Edinburgh graduation ceremony, but that would be a bit of a delay so since he's already officially graduated from the course, we decided to just go ahead and get photos taken locally by a professional photographer.

We found the gown on eBay and had hoped to get the hood from the same seller but it had been misplaced so we did a bit of hunting and found the correct hood in OU colours elsewhere online. The fact that we've bought these is good because I'll be able to reuse it when I graduate (hopefully) in a couple of years time, saving us a bit of money on the rental costs.

I couldn't go along to the photographer to see Mr Click getting his photos taken because I was working, so when we got home he got all dressed up for me so I could see what he would look like. I'm hoping to be able to post a copy of the official photo some time next week (once we've got it in the paper of course).

Oh, and see the scroll, I made that. Amazing what you can do with some cream card and a bit of ribbon. ;-)

Day 230: Highland Games
And so we come to yesterday, which was our Highland Games. It's been some time since I last went to one, I've certainly not been in the last eight years. Now that I'm in the Red Cross I get to go along and do first aid there so no excuse for missing them now. We pulled the afternoon duty at the games and so toddled along after lunch to do our bit. It was a lovely warm sunny day (with plenty of wasps *shudder*).

When we were walking across from the car park to the area where it was all taking place, past all the tartan and tents I couldn't help but nudge Mr Click and whisper "it's just like Brave". It was. There were all the traditional sports, Highland Dancers, and lots and lots of Pipe Bands. Our first aid tent was right next door to the area where the Pipers waiting to go out were lining up and practicing which meant that I had a constant stream of pipe music drifting past.

It was a very good atmosphere though I suspect that some people have been suffering for it today, both alcohol after effects and sunburn. I caught the sun across my face so I've got a lovely pink nose and cheeks. I love events like this; despite being born in England, I moved when I was fourteen so in the next couple of years I will have spent over half my life in Scotland. I definitely feel more drawn to Scotland than to England (despite my pesky English accent sticking around). I felt very proud to live here yesterday, it's nice to think that gatherings like that have been taking place for hundreds of years. Even the sky was feeling patriotic.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Tales of the Unexpected

For the last couple of months we've been working our way through Tales Of The Unexpected on DVD. I discovered this series during one of the HTV book trees, it had been selected by one of the girls during the 'Short Story Tree' and not long afterwards I spotted the DVD boxset in HMV.A little while later we received some money as a late wedding/first anniversary present and decided to put it towards some entertainment for ourselves. And having enjoyed the stories, we hunted down the DVD boxset.

The boxset comprises of all 112 episodes, spread across 19 discs. When we started it seemed like a pretty formidable task. I thought that we'd still be watching them come Christmas; however the episodes tend towards around twenty-four minutes long so we could usually watch one while we were eating out tea and maybe another afterwards - occasionally we'd stretch to three if Tara was asleep and not getting near the time for her walk.

The series originally aired between 1979 and 1988; earlier episodes were introduced by Roald Dahl and many were based on his original stories, some of the later ones were inspired by W. Somerset Maugham. I'm fairly certain that there were some other well-known names in there also, as well as one penned by someone who won a competition to write a storyline for the series as well.

It's not a continuous series, each episode is a stand-alone in its own right (though the character of Mr Botibol crops up in two of the stories, the second of the two appears to be a prequel to the first judging by the ending of the first). Some are American-made, while the others are British. I tend to prefer the British ones to the American ones; the American ones seem to have a bigger budget but I tended to find them a little more obvious than the British ones.

One of my favourite things while watching this series has been trying to guess what the twist would be. When Mr Click and I were first going out we watched a series called Thriller which operates on a similar premise (though I believe those were longer episodes) and aired in the mid-seventies. I'll have to admit that I wasn't particularly impressed with Thriller, the stories there seemed to go on a little bit longer than they needed to (I often complained that when they got to a good place for them to finish they'd then go on for another fifteen or twenty minutes).

I was always very pleased watching Tales of the Unexpected because I frequently was able to figure out the ending, but occasionally I'd get one that would catch me off guard. It was good fun speculating with Mr Click and trying to work out whether we were right. Sometimes the twists were a little out-there but they ranged from the macabre (a landlady who honed her taxidermy skills on her tenants) to the heart-warming (an illiterate man who was forced out of his position at the local church and so becomes a wealthy businessman instead).

It's also good fun spotting all the famous actors; most of them famous at the time of the series being made, but some who obviously weren't so well-known at the time it was made. Mr Click was pleased to spot both John Mills and Hayley Mills, but there's also Derek Jacobi, Brian Blessed, Michael Gambon, Judy Geeson and Joss Ackland. There were also some of those moments where we recognised people but it took a while before we could place them; I spent best part of an episode wondering whether or not the bank manager in it was Radar from M*A*S*H* (it was! but I had to wait for the end credits to double-check it was Gary Burghoff) and not to mention wondering who that familiar young man in another episode was, before having a head-slap moment as it dawned on me that it was a very young Bilbo Baggins, none other than Ian Holm!

Overall I've really enjoyed this series. There have only been a handful of episodes which I didn't totally enjoy, some that were a little bit out-there or which I struggled to follow. I was a little bit worried that it was going to be very like Thriller, but if anything it was exactly what Thriller should have been. It's going to be tidied away into a cupboard at home shortly, but it's definitely one that I'd like to revisit in the future, maybe in a few years time so that the stories aren't too familiar in my mind. In the meanwhile we found a big copy of Roald Dahl short stories which include Tales of the Unexpected when we went to Dunoon to get Tara, so it's on the bookcase awaiting my attention.

The next series that we plan to watch is Band Of Brothers followed closely by The Pacific. The former we got with Amazon vouchers we received when we got married, the latter I received a voucher which we used toward The Pacific in HMV. Although they're two separate series we intend to watch them one after the other as they'd both produced by the same people and set during the same time period.

I've seen Band of Brothers before and it amazed me. It's such a fantastic, moving series; it's very upsetting in places (particularly the episode dealing with the liberation of a concentration camp), but I'd really recommend it. But I'll save my thoughts on it just now until we've watched it and then I can review it then.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


I intended to write a post about seeing Brave in our local cinema last weekend. But I put it off and now another week has gone by and it seems I'm just now getting around to it. Please excuse my tardiness, and watch out, there may be spoilers ahead.

As I've probably mentioned before, we have a tiny little cinema. We normally get films weeks (or even months) after the bigger cinemas have had them, this is because they get the film reel first and then we get it when they're done (so in the past we've had films where bits have blipped out, sound quality hasn't been great or, in the case of the last Sherlock Holmes film, there's a strange clicking sound all the way through). Getting a film at roughly the same time as the rest of the country is a bit of a big deal so you can probably understand why I was determined to get tickets.

Living in Scotland, as soon as I heard about Brave I was a little bit excited. I'm a massive Disney Pixar film though of all the more recent offerings I've only seen a few in the cinema. I did get off to the mainland when Toy Story 3 came out so I could see it in 3D, but other than that, mostly it's on DVD when they come out.

Our little cinema had gone all out in the decoration. Normally we just have a poster for the upcoming film but this time there was a massive display, one of the women in costume as Merida and Brave bunting. It looked good, it's one of the little things that you miss out on when you don't get to go to big cinemas. They made a real effort and it looked really really good. From what I heard of the night before we went (the Friday night premier) the kids had a really good time (and the adults did too).

Of course it wouldn't be a Disney Pixar movie without the short before hand. This one did not disappoint, it was a lovely little movie called 'La Luna'. It featured a little boy, out in a boat called La Luna with his father and grandfather and apparently learning the family trade.

The clue to their profession is in the name of the boat. They're cleaners, but of a different sort. The little boy is trying to copy both of the older men, but in true Disney fashion, he finds his own way to work.

And then there's Brave itself. I. LOVED. It. It felt like a really Disney-ish film, I felt more Disney than Pixar in this one. It was in the same sort of vein as the original Disney Princess films; Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Disney film, but I think Merida may be in a position to challenge Belle (Belle's got the fantastic library but Merida has a bow and arrow).

Merida is a Scottish Princess, as a young child her father gives her a bow and arrow and she grows up into an independent young woman who wants nothing more than to decide her own destiny. Perfect, except her mother has already pretty much got her destiny mapped out for her; she's a princess and must marry the firstborn son of one of the neighbouring clans. Merida is not particularly impressed by this.

After running away she meets a witch and buys a spell. And being a Disney movie, this obviously backfires for her. Resulting in her mother becoming a bear (therein lies the original movie title: The Bow and the Bear). Unfortunately for Queen Elinor, Merida's father lost his leg to a bear when Merida was a small child and so King Fergus isn't particularly fond of them. Merida and her mother undergo a bit of a journey, learning to appreciate each other and see things through the other's eyes, before the magic spell can be undone.

The plot was a little bit obvious, I could see what was going to happen before it happened, but that didn't spoil it for me. In fact, at one point it reminded me of Shrek (the Witch blatantly lives in Shrek's house and has been taking lessons from the Fairy Godmother). The story, while a little bit predictable, is good and follows the familiar Disney pattern - it's all about being true to yourself and others.

I was pleased that there were so many Scottish voices in this film. It would have been so easy for Disney to go the route of having non-Scottish actors attempting Scottish accents. Sitting in a cinema in Scotland, it sounded so natural. I love that Kelly Macdonald voices Merida. She's an excellent actress and I think she really brought Merida to life.

There was a lot of play on typical Scottish stereotypes. Honestly, to begin with I was a little worried that it would sort of fall flat when it played in Scotland, but it didn't. There was the classic Scotsmen-don't-wear-anything-under-their-kilts; there was a guy speaking Dorric who comes out with a great unintelligible babble and ends it with 'ken?'; the queen instructs Merida, telling her that 'a princess disnae...' do whatever it is that Merida is doing at that time.

As good as the film is, it's made by the music and scenery. That's what brings the feel of Scotland to life in the film. When we walked Tara that evening through the estate we were surrounded by the trees and foliage that we'd seen in the film. It probably sounds funny, but they'd got the lighting just right; it looked just the way it looks in real life. And then there was the music too. They played the soundtrack before the film started and I'm going to have to get a copy of that for myself.

So, to sum up. It's a brilliant film, go and see it. I'm really looking forward to it coming out on blu-ray because I can't wait to see it again.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Project 365+1: Days 218 - 225

I've had another busy week at work and we've had a family friend up visiting us so I've not had much time for getting stuff done online. Most of my free time has been spent reading Lord of the Rings on my Kindle because I hate taking longer than a week to read a book (and I'd been reading this for three!) so despite nice weather I've not actually been up and out much. Though I did have Friday off this week so we took my mum-in-law and the visiting family friend off the island for a little day trip.

Oh, and we watched all three Lord of the Rings films; Friday night and then all day Saturday. My idea of a good weekend.

Most of my photos this week have been taken on my phone. I have no idea how this happened because I did take quite a few photos with my camera, it just seems that the ones I like best are the blurry/grainy iPhone ones rather than some of the other sharper ones. I must try harder to take some nice photos this week, especially if we have more nice sunny weather (though in order to do this I should probably remember to charge my camera battery otherwise I won't get many photos at all).

Day 218: Almost Done
This is my knitting as it stood on Sunday afternoon. The scarf that I had been knitting since the very beginning of the year was finally finished somewhere around 10pm last Sunday night. The fact that the first three photos of the week feature my knitting should probably give you some idea of exactly what I've been spending my time doing.

Of course, the scarf isn't done just yet. I still have to weave in the ends (and there are a lot of ends needing to be woven in, this scarf reminded me exactly why I don't like knitting stripes!) and also find the fingerless gloves I made, sew them up and weave in the stripey ends too. But then I'll have a matching set, just in time for next Christmas!

Day 219: A Big Mess
Having successfuly completed my scarf I moved on to a pattern I've been wanting to do for ages. I love the Tom Paxton song 'Englebert the Elephant' and for ages I've had this cute looking elephant pattern. I figured I would start on that next. Looking through the pattern I couldn't find anything that was beyond me, it looked simple enough.

It wasn't. The pattern called for double-pointed needles, which wasn't a problem, I've worked with those before, but generally at the end of a pattern, like a hat, when it becomes too tight to work in the round on circular needles. It was also asking me to cast on such a small number of stitches that a combination of the needle size and wool thickness sought to defeat me.

Not wanting to be deterred, I rewrote the pattern to knit flat, and all seemed to be going well... until my circular needle came undone and I lost half the stitches. At which point I through the lot down and took this picture, before sending Mr Click out to walk Tara so I could give it another go in peace. ;-)

Day 220: New Project
And so I kept on trying and managed to get this far (I've taken a break from it the last few days because I'm debating putting what I've got onto double-pointed needles to see if I can finish it off in the round now I've got it started because adapting the pattern to work flat is now getting a bit complicated).

This picture sums up one of the things I love about my Kindle. I can sit with it on my lap in bed, and knit whilst I read. No awkward bookmarks, clips or creased bits of duvet trying to hold the book open on the right page. No rereading the same paragraph three times because you keep glancing up from your knitting at the same place each time. Just whip the font size up a bit and prop it on your knees; knitting and reading, all I need to help me sleep soundly. (Here would be a good place to add that yesterday in a gap during out Lord of the Rings marathon film session, I volunteered to wash up while Mr Click walked Tara purely so I could read while I washed up. Good times.)

Day 221: Pocket Trumpet
One of the things I promised my husband was that when he got his degree, I'd get him a pocket trumpet. Now I didn't really have much of an idea of what one of these was, except that it was a sort of smaller version of a regular trumpet. Thankfully it's not too small, it's more compact though, the tubes for it are coiled much tighter than on any of his other instruments (though this picture doesn't really show it too well).

He's been practicing like crazy with it since it arrived, looking all cute in its little tiny case. It looks and sounds impressive and he's impressed me by playing the theme song from 'Band of Brothers' which is the next series we're due to watch since having finished with 'Tales of the Unexpected'. It's a piece of music which I love so I'm pleased to hear him playing it, and it sounds very good on his new pocket trumpet.
Day 222: Letter Writing
This week I had another letter from my friend Iona, so I spent Thursday evening penning a reply to it. This time I successfully wrote in large enough writing to make what I was saying actually visible without the need of a microscope, unfortunately I still waffled on for two sides of a card and two and a half sheets of writing paper.

Finally got around to posting it this morning though, so Iona will have a nice and waffly letter to look forward to this week. I've said it before but I really do like writing letters, there's something nice about having something handwritten and addressed to you pop through the door.

Day 223: Refreshment
We took my mum-in-law and our family friend off for a little charity-shopping trip on Friday and along the way stopped for some refreshments. When I asked for a hot chocolate with cream, I wasn't quite expecting this.

It was a very good day. For one thing on the way there I read a good chunk of The Lord of the Rings, but was too tired to read on the way back; we also found three DVDs that we wanted (Cold Mountain, Bridget Jones's Diary and Notting Hill) and we each got a new top as well. All in all, a pretty successful day.

Day 224: Trilogy
This is the blu-ray box set that Mr Click (well, the girlie!rats and Tara) got me for my birthday. We had a marathon session on Friday night, then all day Saturday watching all three films (when we started I still had a little way to go of Return of the King on my Kindle, though I finished it before the end of the film).

Friday night we started late, having ended up having tea at my in-laws' house but still managed to watch the whole film and make it to bed by midnight. Saturday morning the rats were started to head towards whiffy territory so we cleaned them out (or rather, Mr Click cleaned them out while I shredded their paper and tried to figure out how to fix the shredder), vacuumed (Mr Click again), dusted (mostly me) and dragged washing outside to dry on the airer in the lovely hot hot sun.

I don't understand why they had to split the films across two discs on the blu-ray if blu-ray can hold more data than DVD, but it was quite convenient on Saturday. We watched the first half of 'The Two Towers', had lunch, second half, walked Tara and washed up, first half of 'The Return of the King', had tea, second half, walked Tara and went to bed. Couldn't have timed it better. And as always, now I've finished the book, I'm ready to go back to the beginning and start again (but I'm trying to control myself). I've still got all the blu-ray special features to watch though...

Day 225: One of these things...
I don't normally post any photos taken on the Sunday I'm writing this blog entry, but I don't think I'll take a more interesting one today so this'll be the one. Yesterday there was a wedding taking place on the estate and Mr Click told me about this sign. I was pleased to spot it on our walk this morning, see if you can spot the sign that doesn't quite belong...

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Project 365+1: Days 211 - 217

I've been a bit under the weather this week and kind of busy to boot, so unfortunately no real blog posts recently. Going to get all caught up during my long weekend (and Lord of the Rings marathon) next week though, so look out for something a bit more constructive then.

Day 211: Shift Change
This week we've had the start of a new shift pattern at work and it's been a bit of an adjustment but I'm looking forward to having more Fridays off which is what I'm now going to be getting. It does also mean more Saturdays on, the first of which was just yesterday. I don't mind it too much, as I said it gives me more long weekends, it's just going to take a bit of getting used to - I'm paranoid I'm going to show up at work at the wrong time, or try to leave too early!

Day 212: Watched
At some point in the last week or so Tara has managed to set the alam on my watch. I needed a watch so that it was easier for me to tell when I was due back at my desk during my breaks and this one has fulfilled that purpose perfectly. Since getting it I've put the instructions for its various functions away in a drawer somewhere and now I can't find them to unset the alarm.

You might well ask how Tara managed to do this considering she's a dog and is somewhat lacking in the opposable thumbs department. Well, when she's on the lead I slip it over my wrist and sometimes she pulls and presses on the buttons. Now I've pressed every conceivable combination of buttons and so far have only succeeded in changing the number of minutes past 8pm that the beepy little alarm goes off. I suspect that I will be unable to solve this problem until I've found the instructions, but after that I'll keep if somewhere safe because no doubt she'll do it again in the future!

Day 213: Correspondence
I got an unexpected, but lovely letter from my friend Iona earlier in the week (on the same day that HMRC sent me three virtually identical letters, economical). I love writing letters and so delighted in picking a nice card out, as you can see, my writing is kind of teeny tiny, though not quite teeny tiny enough to fit it all in to the card. I had to break out the colourful writing paper to finish it off.

It's so nice to get post that isn't junk mail or bills or bank statements (which you shouldn't be getting anyway since you keep asking the bank to go paperless). The only problem is, I always think of things I'd like to say minutes after sealing the envelope. Oh well, more excuse for writing another one. ;-)

Day 214: Past Halfway
Back at the beginning of the year I included a snap of this scarf which I had been working on since just after Christmas (I think). I cut my knitting teeth on scarf-knitting; it was what inspired me to learn to knit (a friend at University showed up with a scarf she'd knitted herself and I thought 'if she can do that then so can I' but I'm yet to actually get around to making the one I intended to when I first decided to learn), my brother and husband both benefitted from my beginners attempts at scarf-making, but I've been promising one for myself for years.

But I find scarves can get a bit boring. This one has a lacey sort of bit in it which means that you can't really sit and mindlessly knit, you have to keep concentrating on it. I've been thinking about knitting a little elephant for ages (well, years to be precise) but I've made a deal with myself to finish everything I start so I keep on putting it off. But when I realised that I was actually around the halfway mark of this scarf I decided to pull it out and get it done.

I'm almost there right now. If I don't spend too long online today then I might actually get it finished tonight. And I'm really looking forward to cracking out the elephant pattern, I've already christened him Englebert and he will be all blue and squishy. ^_^

Day 215: Out The Window
This is the view out of one of our bedroom windows looking over into the paddock area out the back of the holiday home next door. It's always nice when there are people staying there with kids or dogs (or both) so this patch of grass gets used, otherwise it's just the birds out there, or other wildlife (as you can see below).

Day 216: Hodgeheg
When Tara and I got back from our walk on Friday morning I spotted a little dark patch in the paddock bit of the holiday home next door. At first I thought it was just a toy or something that had been left out overnight, then it moved and I realised that it was something alive.

I guessed that it was a hedgehog so dashed in with Tara, took her lead off and abandoned her in the living room (telling her not to eat any of my socks while she was there), grabbed my camera, switched to the longer lens so I could get a better picture and rushed back outside. I was totally paranoid that it would disappear out of sight but it was still there and I got a couple of good shots of it ambling around the grass before I decided I should probably check back inside and make sure that Tara wasn't getting up to any mischief.

Day 217: Brave
And yesterday we went to see Brave in our local cinema. Our local cinema only has 90 seats and there wasn't a single empty one left. There were easily more adults there than children and everyone was having a whale of a time. If you get the chance, see this film with a Scottish audience, I loved the atmosphere you could practically feel everyone agreeing with bits and finding things funny that I'm not sure everyone else would have found quite as funny.

I'm also a little bit in love with Merida. I'm trying not to say too much because I want to do a proper review post for it but let's just say, I think I might have a new favourite Disney Pixar princess. Belle's always been my favourite because she's got that fantastic library and loves to read, but Merida has a bow and arrow!

I'll shut up about it now, but for one thing. The scenery was incredible. The bits in the woods looked a lot like the estate where I live. It was so real and beautiful and funny too. Can't wait to see it again.