Thursday, 31 December 2009

Break of Day - Finished

Probably my final finish of 2009, this design was from New Stitches #45

New Free Design ...


Go here to get the pattern... more free patterns to follow

Monday, 28 December 2009

There'll be a new finish soon...

Break of day is almost done. I am aiming to get this done tomorrow though that may go by the wayside as tomorrow is Catherine's birthday.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

I've been working on a new project

with a certain someone.... More details to follow but I am finally back to do something I really enjoyed before!

Monday, 2 November 2009

I've had four finishes recently and will be

uploading pics soon (except one which is a secret surprise). It feels good to be back to stitching after so long and my list of projects in progress has gone down!!!

I have only 11 WISPs now - the list can be at found on the right hand side of the blog.

so I decided to start another new project (part of a gift for for someone so it will have to remain a secret)

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Fall Reading Challenge: Read a book about senses, a book about emotions and a book about memories

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A disturbing book. Central is the disintegration of society when the vast majority of the population lost their sight and how man must adapt to such a violent change in circumstance.

View all my reviews >>

Points for this book: none yet, part of a 3 book task
Points so far: 195

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Fall Reading Challenge: Read a book with the word devil, witch, vampire, zombie or werewolf in the title

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The concept of this book fascinated me and I was interested to see if the execution was deft or clumsy. In parts it is very clumsy but that doesn't stop it being very funny. Overall though I prefer the real P & P and Austen's mastery of subtle and ironic comedy.

Nice to see the not so likeable characters in the story get their just deserts though!

View all my reviews >>

Points for this book: 25
Points so far: 195

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Fall Reading Challenge: Listen to an audio book whilst exercising

She by H. Rider Haggard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Listened to this rather than read it but found it another interesting member of the Victorian gothic/horror/fantasy genre that is still popular today. Couldn't get over quite how much the Victorian explorers of deepest darkest Africa spent either eating or sleeping!!!!

Lots of familiar literary devices though it seemed as if the author tired of the book and the journey home was accomplished with barely a description or a thought.

View all my reviews >>

Points this book: 15
Points so far: 170

Fall Reading Challenge: Read an Alternate History Novel

Fatherland by Robert Harris

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As an alternative Europe goes, I preferred the one we got in which Hitler did commit suicide in a bunker in Berlin when he realised there was no escape. I like the way Robert Harris created an alternate cold war and thought this book very subtle in that it didn't diversify from the real historical events in a traumatic way just gently changed direction. The images of a Germany in the 1960s still under National Socialism were disturbing: The quantity and variety of uniforms, the control of the media, the control of the people using the methods of a police state.

View all my reviews >>

Points this book: 15
Points to date: 155

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Fall Reading Challenge: Read a Christian Fiction Book

The Shack by William P. Young

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm not sure what to make of this book, I thought the story was contrived and not that well written but it certainly tugged at emotional heartstrings. I don't think it added to my knowledge of Christianity in anyway, nor did it encourage me to explore my faith any further.

I am sure there are much better books out there for the purpose this book suggests itself.

View all my reviews >>

Points from this book: 20
Total points to date: 140

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Fall Reading Challenge: Read one of the Seasonal Book Challenge Group Reads

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The book is funny, and having just seen the movie adaptation which is in places very different, I have to say this is one movie of a book that didn't disappoint me. Julia Child fascinated me when I saw her cooking show even though I was too young (and not living in the US) to see it when it originally aired - she was a heroine for quirky women and as i grow older i want to be quirkier too!

Read this if you love food...

View all my reviews >>

And the pearls were my "car bomb when you least it expect it in a movie because that wasn't in the book" moment ;)

Points for this book: 20
Points to date: 120

Monday, 14 September 2009

Fall Reading Challenge: Read a book about a democratically elected leader and write a review of their administration (500+ pages)

John Major The Autobiography by John Major

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was a long read but fascinating for me to go back over the Major government as it was the first one I could have voted for and so I was more politically aware than I was previously.

I do remember that John Major had a very bad press often, and reading the autobiography I sometimes struggled to work out why. He was never a dramatic politician, normally conciliatory and forced to be more so by the Euro-sceptic faction in the Conservative party.

I have greater respect for him as a Prime Minister now than I did at the time.

Though it is said to be a revealing autobiography he conveniently does not mention the four year affair with Edwina Currie that came to light in her memoirs later in 2002

Achievements of John Major's Ministry

Highest popular vote ever recorded by a political party in a British General Election (though this resulted in a lower majority)
Citizen's Charter
Ratification of the Maastricht Treaty with opt-outs on the single currency and the social chapter
The National Lottery
Worked towards peace in Bosnia
Much of the groundwork for the Good Friday Agreement was done under the Major government
Economic recovery following the recession of 1989

Biggest Scandal of John Major's Ministry

Cash for questions which took down several prominent MPs including the now infamous Neil Hamilton

total 785 pages

View all my reviews >>

Points for this book: 25
Points to date: 100

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Fall Reading Challenge: Read a book with prophecy in the title or as a theme

The Prophecy of the Gems: Three Girls, Three Stones, One Destiny by Flavia Bujor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Really this deserves to be a 3½ but it's isn't a 4 star book so I've left it at 3. It was written when the author was 12 and published when she was 14! There was much about this book I liked but I think it needed a little polishing, the world she created didn't seem complete (or perhaps that parts of it didn't emerge until it was convenient for the story) however it was an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more of her work.

View all my reviews >>

Points earned with this book: 25
Points to date: 75

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Fall Reading Challenge: Read a book written in the last ten years and made into a movie in the last five. Compare the book & movie.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I read this for the 2009 Fall Challenge here on Goodreads. The task was to compare the book to the movie and I have to say that the movie missed out some key facts/plot devices that were critical to the ending of the book. So whilst the movie was a predictable suspense/action movie (I knew there was going to a be a car bomb and that doesn't appear in the book) but despite the flat characterization in the book that gave the actors little to play with it was a watchable movie that cracked on at a pace.

I was disappointed that we didn't find out who the Camarlengo's father was (we do in the book) and that the man who becomes Pope is different to the book.

All in all I preferred the book to the movie but it was a close call

View all my reviews >>

Points earned with this book: 25
Points to date: 50

Fall Reading Challenge: Read a book with a positive gay or lesbian character

Task 25.3

The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this book though I found the style of writing unusual. It wasn't quite a stream of consciousness novel but it seemed to be written from the perspective of "the voice in your head"

The ending was an unexpected twist but a fascinating story. I have learnt much about the 1920s and the beginnings of the emancipation of women in Europe.

Points earned with this book: 25
Points to date: 25

View all my reviews >>

Fall Reading Challenge

This one runs from Sept 1st to Nov 30th

1. Read a book that has the word son, daughter, kid(s), child or children the title
2. Read a book that has an apple on the cover OR in the title
3. Read a novel where the main character is at sea OR a non-fiction book about sea travel
4. Read a book where the main character is adopted OR adopts OR a non-fiction book related to adoption
5. Re-read a book you were required to read at school and compare notes
6. Read a novel that has an adjective in the title that relates to Halloween
7. Read a book that relates to the thing you are most thankful for
8. Read a book that has more than two authors, not a compilation of short stories
9. Read a coming of age novel OR a novel where the main character is a senior citizen
10. Read a novel where one or more characters travel back in time

1. Read a book first published between 1936 and 1959
2. Read a novel with a character who suffers from an addiction OR a non-fiction book about addiction
3. Read a book with the word bear or bears in the title OR a collection of children's stories OR several children's books (not YA)
4. Read a book written by an author from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico or Chile OR a book that takes place in one of those countries OR a non-fiction book about them
5. Read a book written by a German author OR set in Germany OR a non-fiction book about Germany
6. Read a book written by a Native American author OR with a main character who is Native American OR a non-fiction book about Native Americans
7. Read a novel about heroes, heroines, superheroes, superheroines, OR an auto/biography of your personal hero/heroine
8. Visit the Random Word Generator website and then read a book whose title contains the 9th, 10th, or 11th word you come to pedestrian, have, transit.
9. Read a novel set in the US Civil War
10. Read a book that has the word cat(s) in the title OR a picture of a cat(s) on the cover

1. Pick 1 of these 3 tasks
  • Read two books that contain the same preposition in their title
  • Read two book that contain words that are homophones
  • Read a book whose title contains a verb and another with it's participle.

2. Read an Alternative Historical Novel and post a review stating if you think things would be better with the author's version of history and why
3. Pick 2 of these 4 tasks

  • Add up the number of letters in your first and last names and read a book written by an author whose name contains the same number of letters (12)
  • Subtract the number of letters found in your whole name (18) from your age (37) and read a book with that many letters or words in the title (19)
  • Multiply your age by the number of letters in your whole name (37 * 18) and read a book with +/- 25 pages (641-691)
  • Divide the year you were born by your age and then read a book that is that number in a series (1972/37 = 53)

4. Read a science fiction novel and watch a film about science OR read a non-fiction book about science and watch a science fiction film
5. Read two books that were originally published in the same foreign language

6. Pick 1 of 3 tasks

  • Read a book about an artist or art history and go to a museum to view or create art
  • Read a play and see a production of it live or on film
  • Read a book with a type of music in the title and listen to a CD or attend a concert of that type.

7. Listen to an audiobook while exercising OR read a book written by or about an athlete and participate or watch the same type of sporting event
8. Read two books that take place in countries that correspond to your initials

9. Read a book with the word home or work in the title and design a homework assignment that relates to that book
10. Read a book with a teacher as the main character OR a word with the root “teach” in the title AND a book with a student as the main character or with a word with root “study” in the title


1. MOST IMPROVED PLAYER – JULIE KS – Read a Christian fiction book.

2. ROOKIE OF THE SEASON - ERIN - Read 3 Books That Begin With A,B,C Or Any Three Consecutive Letters In The Alphabet (each book 100+)
3. GROUP READ - Read One Of The 3 Group Reads


1. NICOLE'S TASK – NICOLE OH'S TASK - Read ONE fiction book and ONE poetry book that have a word that rhymes in each title. (350+ pages of which 50+ poetry)
2. DONNA JO'S TASK – Find two authors who are related by blood or marriage and read a book by each
3. WENDY'S TASK – Read a book with a positive gay or lesbian character.
4. CANDACE'S TASK – Read a book that was written within the last ten years and made into a movie in the last five. Compare the book and movie

5. JANICE'S TASK – Read a book with fortune or prophecy in the title OR that features fortune telling, prophecy or predictions OR has a fortune teller as a main character

6. BJ ROSE'S TASK – Read a book about a democratically elected President or Prime Minister (500+ pages), post a short review of major accomplishments and biggest scandal of the administration (include number of pages read)

7. CINDY'S TASK - Read Three Books

  • One With A One Word Title
  • The Second With A Two Word Title
  • And The Third With A Three Word Title.

8. CAIT'S TASK – Read 3 books

  • A name of a person in the title
  • A name of a place in the title
  • An object in the title

9. DIANE'S TASK – Read a self-improvement or self-help book AND read a book in which the main character undergoes a significant positive change in his or her life as a result of self-improvement
10. SAM'S TASK – Read a book with one of the following in the title: devil, witch, vampire, zombie or werewolf

1. ROSEANN'S TASK – Read a book that is related to your current profession AND a book that is related to your dream job


1. TBD

For this challenge there are a total of 690 points available and I'd like to see if I can get more than 400 again

Monday, 31 August 2009

Summer Reading Challenge: Do the Goodreads Trivia Quiz and read the first book you come to but haven't yet read.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There was lots about this book that I didn't like in the characters and their actions but the book itself is a wonderfully written epic of unrequited love spanning more than 50 years. I didn't relate particularly to either of the main protagonists, Fermina Daza or Florentino Ariza. Fermina was spoilt and stubborn, often at her own expense, Florentino was insipid and pathetic, a mummy's boy.

That being said I was transported to turn of the century Columbia by the atmospheric writing and the emotions were portrayed in a believable way.

View all my reviews >>

This brings my final total to 405 points, I just scraped past my personal target of 400 points. The new challenge starts tomorrow and I am raring to go!

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Hunting Dragon...


An afternoon stroll in Pamber Forest Nature reserve proved rewarding with glimpses of three dragonflies.

The first two were probably Emperor Dragonflies based on their size - approx 3" or so long and colouring. The first one was bright blue with a clearly green thorax, and a few feet away was another large dragon fly which seemed greener but was just as large (these were a male and female)

These are not my pics, i wouldn't even get a blur using my phone camera, but they do show a male Emperor dragonfly (top) and female (below)

The third dragonfly of the day was seen at a dried up pond deep into the forest, was smaller than the first two and green and black. It was identified as a Southern Hawker, mostly by it's curious character, it came right up to us, flew around us even touching us at some point and this is apparently common for this species!

The Living Rainforest

A trip not so far away to a place called The Living Rainforest at Hampstead Norreys, just north of Newbury.

An Emerald Tree Boa

A pitcher plant (this is a carnivorous plant)

One of two toucans at the Living Rainforest, both rescued from the pet trade and having suffered malnutrition before their arrival have badly cracked beaks that will never improve :(

This curious critter was an Agouti

Spot the red-crested touraco...

Some gorgeous plants that I just loved the colouring of, it really was this vivid.

And these flowers as they were a heady mix of magenta, red and orange.

And a chinese water dragon.

There were lots more beautiful plants and animals there but my phone camera is just not up to the job of taking pictures, especially if something is moving.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Summer Reading Challenge: Read a book that hasn't been made into a movie and make a cast list

The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was a quick read, the atmosphere created allowed you to sink into it and the characters drew you in. The little "future" snippets on some of the characters was interesting, it made them more real. Almost an epilogue that has been broken up and interspersed into the writing at a later date.

It was an intriguing look at life in Weimar Germany, the instability that created National Socialism, the intense poverty and social breakdown.

View all my reviews >>

Lilly - Sandra Bullock
Hanne - Gwyneth Paltrow
Sister August - Meryl Streep
Eva - Jessica Alba
Stefan the Uhlan - Brad Pitt
Kurt - Rupert Everett
Ilya - Eric Bana

(the cast list was mostly based on physical attributes)

Total points to date: 390

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Summer Reading Challenge: Read a book outside (more than 100 pages)

Fruits Basket, Volume 2 by Natsuki Takaya

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I got confused as to which character was which as I found this a bit jumpy nonetheless it is a great story with some fabulous funny and heartfelt parts in it. I also love that the central character is a strong female. I may have to buy #3 to find out what happens next...

View all my reviews >>

Points to date: 375

Monday, 24 August 2009

Summer Reading Challenge: Read a book that takes place in or about your dream vacation spot and post an itinerary

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Brutality, heartbreak, mystery, poverty, despair and a city suffering at the hands of a dictator, this book has the makings of a film noir. As I was reading the foggy scenes on Avenue Tibidabo I was picturing an atmospheric black and white scene from a '50s movie. A fabulous book about a love of books, family, your country and just about love.

View all my reviews >>

In order to complete this task I had to make an itinery. The book is set in Barcelona, a town with a fabulous history and my trip would have to include some of the things mentioned in this book.

  • Plaça d'Espanya, at the foot of Montjuic where there were public hangings.
  • A trip to Montjuic Castle for a view over Barcelona followed by a ride on the cable car to Barceloneta. Fermin was held in Montjuic castle in the book.
  • A ride on the Tramvia Blue - used by Daniel Sempere to reach Avenue Tibidabo followed by a trip on the Funicular railway to Tibidabo
  • Tibidabo - for the awesome views, the observatory and the funfair.
  • The Gaudi buildings (the main reason Barcelona is on my list of places to visit) - La Pedrera, Güell Park & Sagrada Família
  • A walk up and down Las Ramblas, mostly populated by tourists, artists, performers and flower sellers
  • Two days at least wandering around the Cuitat Vella (Old City) - visiting the Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, Cathedral Plaça de la Seu, Plaça Sant Felip Neri, Santa Maria del Pi followed by Carrer Petritxol for a hot chocolate.
  • More Gaudi architecture at Casa Batllo and finally a quieter day spent either at L'Aquarium or on the beach at Barceloneta.

Current points total: 360

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Summer Reading Challenge: Roseann's Task - Read a book about books and a book mentioned in the book about books and compare/review.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
this book shows Nabokov's genius for words and wordplay, even more effective given his first language was Russian, English not even being his second language. Despite the subject matter there are definite comedic moments and perhaps that's why this novel is seen as subversive.

Do I feel sorry for Humbert Humbert, no, not at all.... but then I don't feel sorry for Dolores either.

Perhaps in the end both got what they deserved, Humbert ending up in custody and Lolita a dull and mundane life with a boring husband.

View all my reviews >>

And for the comparison to "Reading Lolita in Tehran" - I thought that Azar Nafisi and her students concentrated too much on the morality of the book, immersed in a culture where moral judgements are far more important than they are in the West, whereas I loved watching the characterization, the wordplay and delighting in the quirkiness of Nabokov when he made mundane things seem different. I thought the disintegration of Humbert into a paranoid and anxious man was beautifully written. I didn't think I would have sympathy or like the main protagonists so set out to read this book for the story.

Points to date: 345

Charlie's big splash...

what started out as a gentle summer walk along the Kennet & Avon canal (between two pubs, the Butt Inn and the Rowbarge and back again) turned into a bit of an adventure when Charlie the Westie decided that canal water tasted good and it didn't look that deep!

Fortunately he remembered doggie paddle and was hauled out looking rather sorry for himself and a little warier from that point on.

I didn't take any pics of the walk today (I should have it was quite beautiful) but here's the route walked (almost 4½ miles)

Also spotted were some black-winged dragon flies - I have only seen those with clear wings so far and lots of butterflies.

With a little research I discovered they were male Banded Demoiselles - and stunning they were though none of those I saw would sit still enough for a photo like this one!!!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Something I've been thinking about for a few years

and finally got around to getting done today

37 and still rebelling, wonder what work will think about it (I have next week off on annual leave so gives me time to be able to talk properly, the first bar is longer to allow for swelling and has given me a bit of a lisp)

And the first close up pic of my new shorter hair cut though it's looking a little wind blown in this pic

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Summer Reading Challenge: Tina's Task - read a book that takes place in WW2

Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are few books that provoke such an emotional response in me as this one did. The story of Oskar Schindler, of the huge risks and financial costs of his actions in World War II, the gratitude of his Jewish "prisoners" and the anti-climax of his life after World War II are beautifully crafted in this novel-style biography by Thomas Keneally.

View all my reviews >>

points total to date: 295

Friday, 14 August 2009

Summer Reading Challenge: Roseann's Task - Read a book about books and a book mentioned in the book about books and compare/review.

Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books by Azar Nafisi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was not an easy read though it may have been worth it for the little bits of information about life in Iran which I knew very little of. It was a dry book and much more in the style of literary criticism than memoir.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, 10 August 2009

Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door 08-08-2009

On the way home it was decided to visit Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, two places of interest on the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Panoramic view of Lulworth, showing the narrow gap in the Limestone and Purbeck Stone that has opened up much wider as the water hit the softer rocks behind.

View looking down into the Stair Hole next to Lulworth Cove. This is a new cove forming in the same way as Lulworth but much younger. At the far side you can see the vertical rock strata as the tectonic plates have pushed together.

More views of the Stair Hole, the eagle eyed amongst you may spot a daredevil or two climbing the rock face ready to jump into the waters below.

Splash of danger-seeking teenager jumping off cliff face! Luckily both surfaced without coming to major harm.

The Stair Hole showing another of the breakthrough points.

Man O'War Bay looking down from the clifftop. This bay is on the East side of Durdle Door. The name is a local one, the official one is St. Oswald's Bay, I wonder what the history is behind this place? Either way it looked an idyllic spot to anchor a yacht and have a beach barbecue.

Man O'War Rocks marking the entrance to Man O'War Bay

Durdle Door from the clifftop.

After a steep climb down a chalky path (with lots of loose chalk making it quite treacherous for those who were wearing flip-flops... my trainers felt much safer) we came to some steps down to either beach and a view of the old path that lead to the top of Durdle Door but is now closed to the public due to erosion and the risk of falling/rock slides.

Halfway down the stairs looking to Man O'War Bay

Looking West into the sunset at Durdle Door

Salty the Old Sea Dog not finding his sea legs when the waves got a little brisk. Look closely and you'll see he's actually scowling in disgust at getting dunking.

Looking East at the cliff face of Durdle Door, the specks on the top are people who can't read signs that say "Danger -No Access Due to Erosion"

Durdle Door.

Durdle Door with an itinerant tourist scrambling his way to the end.

He poses in triumph when he got to the end and shouted "Hey" I didn't wait to see if he made it back from there, there was a steep lot of stairs and cliff path to be climbed and home was beckoning.

Related Posts with Thumbnails