Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Girl, Sister, Wife - Relatively Random Reading

"Three books for £1" said the sign in Barnardo's, Salisbury the other week. And I sawe one I had been recommended to read, and a second which looked...worthy, and a third which looked fun . So, all in a good cause, I handed over my pound.
GIRL - "The Girl on the Train" which somebody or other [Steph? Liz?] mentioned months ago. It came out in 2015 and was made into a film with Emily Blunt [pictured on the cover] a year later.
I have not seen the film*
Basic plot - the girl [Rachel] goes to London every day on the train, passing the house where she once lived. Her ex-husband and new wife live there now. She watches them, and their neighbours, and creates stories about their lives. Then one day she witnesses something shocking... 
I wasn't 100% convinced - although I enjoyed it more than 'Gone Girl' which has many similar themes. Too many of the usual missing girl/angry divorcee/depressed alcoholic tropes. But it would be a good book to while away a train journey. ***
*The film has not had good reviews-Emily Blunt, the only Brit actor, is allegedly the one who holds the movie together. I cannot see [a] how it would translate well into a Stateside setting [b] how they manage to cast Emily [slim, attractive etc] in the part described [frequently] as overweight, and looking the worse for drink.
SISTER - Mrs Luther and her sisters- Women in the Reformation. At school we had to do a project on a historical character. I chose Martin Luther - but struggled to find out much about his wife Catherine [no internet back in the 60's, and our little library in town wasn't much help] So this looked like a useful tome to find out more about his 'Kate'. Despite the title of the book, the dear lady barely manages twelve pages. 
"Women have made crucial contributions to the life of the Church from New Testament times onwards, but the Reformation saw an explosion in their involvement. Having benefited alongside their brothers from the Renaissance's emphasis on learning, and with the increasing casting aside of the belief that they were intellectually inferior, women learned to read in ever increasing numbers - and many wanted to read the Bible. They started to interpret Scripture for themselves - which put them on a collision course with the Church." says one reviewer. I found this book a little disappointing. I will attempt to read it again in the depths of winter, and see if it has improved with keeping! I rate it just ** [I should say that this book gave no indication of ever having been opened and read right through. It was utterly pristine. Maybe that was why it was in the CS...]
WIFE -101 Things for the housewife to do, 1949  This is a reprint of a book which came out almost 70 years ago, written by a married couple,  Lillie B and Arther C Horth. Intriguing ideas and activities for the housewife in the aftermath of WW2. Many practical [but now totally outdated] tips about laundry, housecleaning, furniture, and leisure activities. A surprising number of manufacturers sent contributions to this useful 'vade mecum'In the authors' preface, many of these are acknowledged- Heals, Liberty's, Electrolux, Hoover, Brillo...plus the Women's League of Health and Beauty and Harbutt's Plasticene!
Not much about cookery- food was still on ration- but practical advice for mending saucepans [presumably the ones you hadn't sent off to be melted down to make Spitfire!] An alarmingly overstocked refrigerator is pictured on p65 "economical to run, it requires a tiny gas flame, there are no moving parts, and therefore permanent silence, and no radio interference" Perhaps I should follow the advice about massages to prevent a double chin. This book is indeed great fun to read. The foreword says it is part of a series which began in the 1920s. I'd love to find a copy of '101 things for a boy to make'.
For the sheer enjoyment, fascinating illustrations and wonderfully archaic terms ["fomentations and poultices" sounds like a Terry Pratchett curse] I give this *****.

If you can learn to lift your ribs right out of your waist, and to let them expand outwards and inwards when breathing, you will soon develop that "upward buoyant poise" which is the secret of grace and which would bring less drudgery and more joy to the daily dusting, bedmaking, picture straightening, and all the dozens of things which go towards making your home beautiful'.
With such wonderful advice as this, who needs Mrs Hinch on Instagram?

Monday, 17 September 2018

Restore And Repair

The cover of this issue of 'the simple things' caught my eye. Not enough to make me go out and buy a copy...but I did think "Ooh, I could have provided an assortment of spools like that!

Restoring and repairing are tasks which bring so much satisfaction to Bob and myself. The newly repaired bedframe is a case in point - phrases like "I can't believe how much stronger this feels now!" and "Maybe I should replace the bar on your side, Ang..." indicate his [justifiable] pleasure in that repair.
I've just embarked on a restoration project for a friend- photos will follow once it is complete, but I am truly getting such a kick out of it.
Listening to  "Rule Britannia!" recently I was pondering on that final verse about "The Muses still with freedom found, shall to thy happy coast repair" ... and my mind wandered to the North Norfolk Coast [my 'happy coast'] and the serious coastal erosion there, and efforts being made to protect that beautiful area.
But I'm aware that James Thomson, who wrote the lyrics for RB, probably didn't mean that sort of repair. He meant repair in the sense of 'return to'.
I looked up the definition of repair- there are two different meanings
  1. repair; to make good the damage, or to put right an unwelcome situation
  2. repair; to go to a place [frequently or habitually, often in company]
The first repair come from the Latin 'reparare' to make ready, the second from the Latin 'repatriare', to return to one's country.
So this could lead to someone asking "I say, shall we repair to Brighton and repair the West Pier, old chap?"
restore is defined as 'to return, repair or renovate to the original state' [from the Latin restaurare to rebuild or restore - hence restaurant, where you are restored through the provision of food] Somehow "Restore and Repair" sounds so much more upmarket than "Make Do And Mend",  doesn't it?

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Seing The Big Picture

We've just started doing The Bible Course on Sunday nights at UCF. It's really very good. 
Produced by The Bible Society it is an informative and enjoyable way to see how the Bible is constructed - the "big picture" of how it all fits together.
There's the Old and New Testaments - each made up of a library of individual books, 66 in total.
The clever logo [above] is a diagram of the way the books are ordered. On the left is a circle, representing the tree in the Garden of Eden in Genesis, right at the beginning. On the right, another circle, representing the Tree of Life  in the book of Revelation, at the end of Scripture. In between come books of history, poetry, the stories of Jesus, the letters Paul wrote to the churches, etc. 
It is presented in an intelligent, thought provoking way [we watch the video, and discuss things around tables in small groups] Everybody has their own handbook too. 
Folk seemed to enjoy Session One [there are eight in total - we're doing a couple a month, to finish just before Christmas] 
It's full of all sorts of information, and accessible to all, whether or not you know anything about the Bible. Stuff for new readers, and for oldies like me who've been studying for over half a century. I'd really recommend it!
This one minute video explains it beautifully

Saturday, 15 September 2018

I Love Manchester!

The more I visit, the more I discover about this great city. Steph and Gaz are building their life there, and it does seem to have a lot to offer. But this week I learned something else...in Sweden, and a few other countries, Manchester is the name they give to corduroy fabric.
 According to quirky fashion historian, Amber Butchart, corduroy developed in the 18th century from 'fustian', which was a heavy cotton twill weave cloth, from before Tudor times. The mills in Manchester produced yards of it, as it became a durable workwear fabric for the poor folk during the Industrial Revolution.
And at the other end of the social scale, this warm cloth became popular with country gents - their cord trousers and caps were a perfect foil for their tweed jackets.
Two years ago, the catwalk trends were all about cord, and somehow [according to AB] there was rather a surplus among the clothing manufacturers. So cord is very much back in vogue [and in Vogue] this autumn. 
I'm clearly ahead of the trend here. A few weeks ago, I picked up a brown cord pinafore dress in a CS for £3 [I found a picture of one just like it on the net - £15 on eBay!] Its very 1960's. I'm sure Twiggy had one like this! [this may even be that dress, who knows]
But it is warm, looks good alone or over a long sleeved top, and it has pockets.
I just love a dress which has somewhere for my hanky, my keys and my phone!
And I just love Manchester - the city and the cloth!

Friday, 14 September 2018

And So To Bed...

We have an IKEA Malm bed. The frame is 12 years old and the mattress was bought a few months back. It's a Euro King Size - slightly longer than UK King Size. We are very fond of our bed.
But on Tuesday morning, disaster struck! We'd discussed our Day Off plans on Monday night, as usual.

"Shall we go to IKEA?" "No. There's nothing we need, and it's daft just to go for breakfast" So we made other plans. 
Tuesday 7am, I made a cup of tea, and then we got up and dressed, ready to go out. Bob sat on the bed to lace his shoes.
There was an almighty crack, and his side of the bed collapsed. 
The side rail had broken at both ends. Bedding and mattress were shifted, tools fetched from garage, and broken section removed. 
Then off to IKEA with piece of wood. We had breakfast, then went to customer services. 

Unfortunately they couldn't supply us with  replacement rail, for all sorts of reasons. So we came back via Christchurch and bought a piece of wood from the wood yard. And my very clever husband spent the rest of his day off making a new rail. 
Here it is clamped together while the glue dries. 
He does look pleased with himself [and so he should!] £18 for a bit of wood is much better than buying a new bed. 

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Happisburgh Happiness?

People who know about that place in Norfolk know it is pronounce Haze-borough. So should the post title be Hazeborough Haziness, or Happy'sBorough Happyness? I have no idea. The RNLI there are determined to keep people happy and safe- and 4 years ago this week, they unveiled a warning painted on the slipway
Two years ago , sadly, a gentleman sailed nearby who hadn't put the 'think or sink' mantra into practice.
In October 2016 John Favell set out to sail from Hull to Canvey Island, and got into difficulties near Cart Gap, part of the Happisburgh coastline.
His boat [on which he lived] ran onto the groyne - and although he managed to struggle to shore, the boat was embedded and could not be retrieved. Locals had alerted the RNLI, who found Mr Favell, mercifully without serious injury. They drained the 25 ton yacht's fuel to prevent pollution - but it had to be left stranded.
Mr Favell said he regretted not calling for help sooner, when his engine lost power and the boat started drifting. He'd not realised he was so close to the RNLI station at Cart Gap. The boat was eventually buffeted to bits by the waves. Locals were brilliant- he was given free accommodation at the local pub, and folk rallied round and arranged a fundraiser for him. Most people will be unaware of this sorry saga - until now. 
A gifted Norfolk photographer, Chris Herring went along the coast [he lives less than 20 miles away] and took pictures of the stricken boat. And this week, his picture "Fighting to the last" showing the 42 foot 'Mithril' being claimed by the waves, has won an award. The Shipwrecked Mariners' Society charity holds an annual contest for the best pictures illustrating Britains relationship with the sea. Chris won the"Ships and Wrecks" Category with this amazing picture
The sea looks as if it is boiling as the boat is dying. What an amazing picture!
You can see the other winning photos from other categories here
If you are thinking ahead about gifts- Chris has some fine photographs [and photography courses] available on his website
And the SMS offers cards and calendars [this picture will be on the 2020 calendar] here. Personally I think their Ship's Cat teatowel [printed by Seasalt] is great fun. 
All this is a good reminder that the sea is mighty powerful and we should never take it for granted. JFK had a plaque on his desk when he occupied the Oval Office in the White House.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Golden Memories

I have been a bridesmaid just twice - for my two cousins Carol and Hazel, the daughters of my Mum's brother Leslie. The first of them to marry was Hazel, and that was 50 years ago today. I can't find a photo sadly - it was a real 1960s event. We had satin empire line dresses, and my hair was back-combed and lacquered to within an inch of its life!
This is a very similar Simplicity pattern [it may be the same one Auntie Edie used to make our dresses, I'm not sure] our dresses were pink, and my hair was styled just like the bride in the picture.
Only one of my six "Spooner family" aunts is still alive - but they were all there that day, in their wedding outfits from C&A, and frothy hats from British Home Stores.Hazel and Terry still live a few miles from where they grew up, their sons are married and they enjoy being grandparents. I've not seen them for about five years.
I wish them a really happy day. 
I decided to embroider a card, and got a bit carried away with beading... 
Fifty years of happy marriage is something to celebrate, isn't it?