Category Archives: 2013

Inspiration for the year ahead, Sir Ken Robinson talking about creativity

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Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

24 Hours in Bristol, making the finals

I forgot to post that I was a finalist in the 24 hours in Bristol photography competition. This was my shortlisted entry:

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“Warehouses on the Welsh Back” taken between 4am and 5am.

Who feeds Bristol and what can we do about it?

Did you know that 10 in 35 Bristol wards don’t have a greengrocer? According to where you live in the city, this may or may not surprise you. I live in the city centre and while I hear of people selling fresh fruit and vegetables in the Bear Pit on Pero’s Bridge and on North Street, I can’t think of a single dedicated greengrocer near me. People in Brislington and Lockleaze have none while those in Westbury-on-Trym have four.

Nationally, 75% of food retail is controlled by four companies, collectively known as ‘the Big Four’ and in the city centre there is evidence that there is a higher concentration of supermarkets than in other parts of the country. The big consequence of this is that some people, usually in the poorer parts of the city, have little choice as to where to buy their food (see reports below).

Here are two reports which provide some more information about Bristol food and retail: Bristol Good Food Plan (2013) and Who Feeds Bristol? (2011)

The Bristol Good Food Plan was published by the Bristol Food Policy Council which was launched in March, 2011, at the Bristol Food Conference. It was based on a key recommendation from the Who Feeds Bristol report written by Joy Carey. Bristol is the first city in the UK to have a Food Policy Council.

We now also have a plan about what to do. Stay tuned.

 
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Cable knit scarf with country tweed wool

I have started my new knitting project with a speckly and silky wool called Country Tweed. I bought the wool in a few different colours and this is the one I’m using now.

My previous project was a handbag based on a Nordic pattern.

Nordic handbag

I used a round needle and had to carry a notebook with me everywhere to keep track of my rows.

It was lots of fun but a bit fiddly so I’d been looking for a project where I could just knit.

Well I’ve almost found it. I can mostly just knit once I get the hang of it all.

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There are only 16 steps to this pattern and it includes the bonus of a new knitting skill which I’ve wanted to try for a while – cable knitting.

The pattern I’m using is the Basketweave Cable Scarf but on 4mm needles (or number 4 needles, I can’t remember).

I had already cast on 40 stitches and knit one row of k2, p2 (knit x 2, purl x 2) so I kept that and added two stitches to the knit parts.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, Sebastian Faulks – a review

With a return to life anticipated nearly as much as Buffy’s, Jeeves and Wooster sprung back to action this month with a new adventure written by Sebastian Faulks  nearly 40 years afters creator P.G. Wodehouse’s death.

Due to a series of extenuating circumstances, Bertie Wooster, recently returned from a very pleasurable sojourn in Cannes, finds himself at the home of Sir Henry Hackwood. Bertie is, of course, familiar with the set-up at a country house. He can always rely on Jeeves, his loyal butler to have packed the correct number of trousers and is a natural at cocktail hour. But this time, it is Jeeves who can be found in the drawing room, while Bertie finds himself below stairs.

Those familiar with Jeeves’ and Wooster’s adventures will quickly find themselves in familiar territory as crazy caper follows seemingly clever but bizarrely amusing Wooster logic in a head-long rush into amusement. The humorous and wittily fast-paced writing for which Wodehouse was well-known is reprised quite elegantly in this revival by Faulks. The PG Wodehouse estate chose brilliantly in asking him to do the writing which the new author calls a tribute.

There is a slightly greater depth to Bertie which comes as no surprise from the author of Birdsong and On Green Dolphin Street. Jeeves is a dash muted and more in the background but not entirely noticeably so. Faulks’s influence seems to disappear entirely when in the most active parts of the story and it takes some remembering to realise that this is not the original author. Wodehouse was a prolific writer in life and Jeeves and Wooster have featured in many adventures. This could fit in and blend among any of them.

The writing borrows its style easily from the gloriously rich descriptions of which Wodehouse was well-known. Full of adjectives and words so round in the mouth that they make you want to spit them out as they are too big to chew. For example, see the description of Bertie’s friend Woody, below:

His features might best be described as craggy, with the old beak pretty prominent, the eyes on the hooded side and the hair generally in need of ten minutes in the barber’s chair, but the opposite sex were drawn to his scruffy figure as moths to the last candle before wax rationing.

This is a most splendid and entertaining story and it makes me sad and hopeful at the same time. I want the Wodehouse adventures to remain never-ending and can only hope Faulks picks up the mantle once again.

Jeeves and the Wedding Bells is undoubtedly my favourite book of the year so far.

My cardigan has arrived and it’s not from a shop

My new winter cardigan has arrived and just in time. It is warm, it is lovely and it is in just the right colours for me. I can’t remember how much it cost, I think I used about seven balls of Rico Melange wool at between £3 and £3.99 each so around £30.

The colour is not exactly as was intended. I still have a lot to learn about how colour and texture translates from wool to knitted product. Mine turned out stripy-ish while the picture calls for a more speckled design. I’m not too fussed though. I love my cardigan and it’s warm and for the first time in ever, I created it myself.

cosmo-cardigan I used this pattern from Vogue Knitting and the red-green version of this wool from Budget Wools in Cheltenham and Deramores and spent the last four months knitting, unpicking, resewing, and then doing it again and again.  A lot of that time  was on the train during my commute and watching Golden Girls.

It was a lovely time.

I still need to find four buttons and tidy up those hanging threads. I will do the latter, probably, through YouTube. That’s where I found most of the solutions to my problems.

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I’m not trying to be artistic, the light was a bit tricky. How does one take a good picture of a cardigan?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My cardigan is a little wonky here and there but it’s very wonderful and my first attempt at a big project.

Details of my next project, a Scandinavian patterned handbag, coming up soon.

One Step Too Far, Tina Seskis

One Step Too Far

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The description from the publishers

An apparently happy marriage. A beautiful son. A lovely home. So what makes identical twin Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life? How will she survive? And what is the date that looms, threatening to force her to confront her past? No-one has ever guessed her secret. Will you?

What I thought
This book reads quickly but not particularly pleasantly. There is a casual, young voice that leans towards annoyingly immature rather than depressed and desperate.

Seskis is more focussed on tell rather than show: Emily has moved into a new flat, sharing with random strangers and this is how she describes a girl she just met : “I love Angel. She is kind and speechlessly pretty and gets away with everything.”

Our protagonist extrapolated this information after meeting this character very briefly and much of the book uses this kind of shallow reasoning. I couldnt’ read past about 15%.

Another part which read straight out of a teen fantasy book was Emily meeting a man once and then two months later after they had both apparently been pining for each other she instigated his visit to her house where they consummated their mad love.

I had no interest in the character or her story. I thought the story creation was poor and decided to stop reading not long after I started.

To my amazement, Seskis has another book out for publication. I’ll be giving it a miss. To be fair to the author, I didn’t really want to write this review as the book was certainly not written in a style that I would prefer. The packaging and promotion was a bit misleading. I did however read this free of charge from the publisher on NetGalley so felt it was only fair to provide some feedback. There have been 532 reviews on Amazon.co.uk and it has scored very highly (I have no idea why).

Some useful and lovely book-blog links

Let Me Be Frank

One of the most pleasant pieces I’ve read recently is this post called Appearing In Public by Let Me Be Frank.

Author Sarah Laing writes “I am going to be talking with three grand dames of NZ literature – Stephanie Johnson, Charlotte Grimshaw and Paula Green.”

First Lines

The literary journal First Lines takes submissions of works from 300 to 3000 (ish) words and pays on publication. The only restriction is you have to start your piece with the first line they supply.

Read further for information.

The Best Sunday Roasts in Bristol

Looking for the best Sunday roast in Bristol is probably one of the loveliest past-times but it’s not really a Summery sunny-day kind of activity. For a while we used to go to the St Werburgh’s Sunday roast pop-up which not only made for a good walk from the city centre but was one of the most excellent Sunday roasts around. When that stopped operating a few months ago we tried a few different places but then forgot all about it when summer kicked in.

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Mid-August can be the hottest part of the year in some countries but not for us. I think we could handle a roast again. The criteria are a little tough, an excellent meal, space for the little one and close enough to walk there.

1. Town House, Whiteladies Road:

We’ve eaten there many times and even though it was never for a roast, I know they serve award-winning Sunday roasts. On the negative side, there’s not much for M to do there and the outside part is right on the road.

2. The Old Bookshop, North Street:

The veggie roast includes a Heidi Pieminister pie and we had one of our best roasts there last winter. It was very crowded though and again, had little for M to do and little space to run around.

3. No 1 Harbourside, Bordeaux Quay:

Very good food that looks so stylish, I’m always surprised that it’s available in a sparse looking place with such a casual atmosphere. A big ‘maybe’ of a choice.

4. The Pumphouse
I’ve never been but the outside terrace looks on to the Floating Harbour, the food is meant to be superb and it’s close by.

5. The Hope and Anchor, Jacob’s Wells Road
Perfect location with a wonderful and surprisingly huge beer garden. Last time we were there though (over a year ago) the vegetables were more washed-out than fresh and vibrant and none of it was particularly inspiring. There’s a great space for M to run around though. Do we go and hope that it’s all somehow, magically changed? It is a rather lovely and cosy pub.

Where else serves Sunday roasts?

Bordeaux Quay, Grain Barge, Glassboat, The Gallimaufry, the Rose of Denmark, The Victoria Park (Windmill Hill) …

Any suggestions?

Update

We ended up going to the Hope & Anchor which turned out to be a great choice. The day was warmish and sunny and the beer garden was wonderful for my daughter to explore. There were three veggie options and I went for the Butternut Squash, Leek and Coconut Bake which looks a bit awful in the picture but was lovely to eat. My daughter’s dad’s roast beef was a bit too gravy-heavy but the location made up for it.

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My glass of house wine was a Sauvignon Blanc and there are three sizes. It was a lovely choice.

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Didn’t You Do Well

Possibly the most perfect cup of coffee this year.

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Park Row, Bristol

http://www.bristol-culture.com/2013/03/26/didnt-you-do-well/
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