‘The old year now away is fled, the new year it is entered;
...
Lord bless us all, and so I end:
God send us a happy new year!’

Thank you to everyone who visits here and chats with me. May you have a happy, healthy and peaceful new year.


Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars, Miranda Emmerson
Will be reviewed January
Mystery in White, J Jefferson Farjeon
The Crime at the ‘Noah’s Ark’, Molly Thynne
All Balls and Glitter. My Life by Craig Revel Horwood
The Week Before Christmas , Freda C Bond
High Rising , Angela Thirkell
Christmas at High Rising , Angela Thirkell
The Late Scholar, Jill Paton Walsh
The Girl Before, J P Delaney
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Christmas at Nettleford, Malcolm Saville
The House on Bellevue Gardens, Rachel Hore
Murder of a Lady A Scottish Mystery, Anthony Wynne
The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Jenny Colgan
reviews and books of the year )
Yay for Val McDermid, the star of this year’s Christmas University Challenge. Wasn’t she great? I really must read her books.

Rather less Yay for To Walk Alone, the programme about the Brontës which I was looking forward to. I thought two hours rather long and only lasted one. Shot in the dark and inaudible apart from Jonathan Pryce, who is a real Actor. I never have liked Charlotte Brontë but if I’d previously had a favourable view, this programme would have changed it. OK, her life wasn’t a bundle of laughs but that grim face (plus the fact that I couldn’t understand a word she said)! Didn’t they ever smile?


This should have been posted two days ago but LJ wasn’t playing. We’ve had a series of foggy and frosty mornings, very beautiful, which remind me so much of this favourite Tunnicliiffe illustration from the Ladybird book What to Look for in Winter.
As soon as it’s daylight, I’m able to enjoy what has become a daily treat: watching long-tailed tits on the bird feeder. There are always six of them, never a singleton. They all cling on to the feeder at once, tails wagging busily. Then at some unknown (to us) signal, they all fly away at once, only to return moments later. It’s a charming sight. When they’ve finished, the blue tits have a go. I’m surprisingly pleased by this.
LJ *still* hasn't sorted out its many problems.


A postcard sent from the US to the UK in December 1919.


Yesterday evening I caught up with Nigella Lawson’s programme about Anna del Conte, The Cook who Changed our Lives. Anna del Conte is ninety one and still cooking! Her book The Gastronomy of Italy influenced countless chefs yet she has never become a household name.

Portrait of Pasta (see above) is dated 1976, which must be when I bought it. Half the book is a history of pasta and instructions on how to cook it; the other half, recipes. These begin with ‘Recipes from the Past’. My copy has many pencilled annotations where I’ve commented on recipes I tried and I see that one was the old Roman dish ‘Horace’s chickpea, laganelli and leek soup.’ There’s a bookmark for Bucatini alla Carbonara.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara became a very popular dish in Italy after the second world war. This is presumably because it was loved by the Allied Troops since it combines their old favorites (sic) bacon and eggs.’
I seem to remember that a bean and pasta dish was a favourite during our vegetarian phase. Over the years I amassed quite a library of cookery books. There have been many purges but I’ve always held on to Portrait of Pasta.

By the end of the TV programme we didn’t really know much more about Anna del Conte. I’m grateful to her for her excellent, totally reliable recipes and glad she’s getting public recognition.


Finished just in time. The yarn is Hollyberry by West Yorkshire Spinners.


Every year I fall for it; every single year. I get this feeling that Christmas isn’t really Christmas without the special edition of the Radio Times so I waste my money on something I will never finish reading before it’s out of date. It does contain some useful heads ups though: To Walk Invisible looks good. It’s a drama about the Brontës by Sally Wainwright, who is also the writer behind Last Tango in Halifax.

I’ve already mentioned the autumn edition of The Scribbler. I’ve now answered all the quiz questions I can manage off the top of my head so have some research to do. Just the kind of thing I enjoy.

The surprise this year is Country Life. It’s years since I bought a copy (expensive luxury) but was tempted by this issue. I’m glad I was. I’ve enjoyed reading about the amazing ‘grown’ furniture of Gavin Munro and how to look after the free range Cairngorm reindeer herd. If you look at the page, do spend enough time there to see the beautiful changing pictures at the top. The CL authors are all people who can actually write, which makes a nice change. The history of Gloucester Cathedral, the art of gilding and angels in art also pleased me, as did the always amusing Kit Hesketh-Harvey. The photography throughout is stunning. As for the advertisements for fine art, fine jewellery, fine furniture and other impossible luxuries, you can of course drool or ignore them completely, as you wish.

picture BBC

The first episode of the Christmas two-parter was shown yesterday and some viewers may be confused.
explanation and massive spoiler )


The Week Before Christmas by Freda C Bond is the second of four books about the Carol family, which I mentioned briefly here. The cover and black & white drawings are by Mays, who illustrated Noel Streatfeild’s Curtain Up and many of the Jennings books.

The four Carol children live with their parents in a smart London flat, with ‘Posset’ as they call her, coming in every day to do the work. How agreeable. At the start of the Christmas holidays the younger children, Squibs and Tony, fear that things will be dull until Christmas. Instead, in the week of the title they find themselves hunting for their mother’s stolen ring, tracking a missing child, getting on the trail of turkey rustlers and befriending a nice refugee family. Tony’s life is busy as he has a good singing voice and is very involved with the local church choir. He takes religion seriously as does older sister Susan, who goes to a boarding school run by Anglican nuns. You can tell what sort of girl she is when she takes a liking to a girl they meet, thinking, ‘I bet she’d make a wizard prefect.’ Lawrence is also at boarding school and turning into a languid, arrogant public schoolboy. At home with his family he becomes quite human and as keen on adventures and planning a Christmas charade as the rest of them.

From the jacket blurb: What we especially like about Freda Bond’s books is that they are happy stories about real-life people, who manage to have adventures in their everyday comings and goings. Her children and grown-ups alike are lovable and natural – the sort of folk who might live next door to you. If your neighbour happened to be a famous actress, that is. As far as I’m concerned, the Carols need never have any adventures at all; I like just to read about their daily lives in post-war London.
Angela Thirkell and more )


Outside the front door. It looks better IRL.


One of today’s Kindle deals (again!) is The President’s Hat, which I reviewed here. It’s a really charming book.


Not me, I hope, but the characters in two Christmas mysteries I’ve just read back to back. Mystery in White I bought in a charity shop a while ago and saved for Christmas. Until I read the introduction to the book, I hadn’t realised that J Jefferson was the brother of the more famous Eleanor. When I posted a review of another BLCC book on Amazon, saying it was the worst I’d read, someone commented on the lines of, ‘You think that’s bad! Try Mystery in White and read my review.’ I didn’t bother with his review but I have to agree that the book was disappointing. When a train becomes stuck in snow, a group of travellers make a break for it and find an apparently welcoming house, with fires blazing and tea laid. But there’s no one at home. The ill-assorted characters decide they have no alternative but to trespass and make themselves comfortable. One of their number is a psychical researcher and immediately detects ‘horror’ in the house. What that is, you have to read the book to find out. There are two solutions, one found by the stranded ones and the other by the police. Which is correct?
two more )
I spent the whole of today writing Christmas cards. Phew. This year I made more cards than I needed and had to decide which card was best suited to each recipient. So yesterday evening I spread the whole lot over the table and assigned them individually with Post-it notes. That certainly made today’s task easier. I could have taken a photo but then some of you might see which card you’re getting:-) Some I was sorry to part with and one I like so much I’m keeping it as a decoration.

I decided a while ago that instead of using labels on the envelopes I would write each by hand, as it’s a more personal touch. I’m glad I do this because it reminds me of the wondrousness of place names. There’s something of the Shipping Forecast about them: Aberchirder, Badshot Lea, Berwick upon Tweed, Church Crookham, Green Bottom, Long Crichel. I sit at my table and travel around the British Isles. That’s romantic.

The person getting this one never sees my journal.


*A Romance of a Christmas Card is a story by Kate Douglas Wiggin, mentioned here. ISTR it's a free book.


I know I’ve used that quote before but I love it and it seems particularly appropriate just now. It’s been so murky here I’ve needed lights on in the car and in the house all day long. I might just as well have kept the curtains drawn. About half an hour ago I had reason to step outside and was struck by the beauty and profusion of the winter jasmine. It’s quite tightly clipped all around a window and positively shone in the gloom. Earlier, being vexed by things, I didn’t even notice it but then it lifted my spirits and I hope it does yours. Happy St Nicholas' Day.


I was complaining recently about the big, fierce birds eating all the food I put out. Today, a robin was feeding the whole time I was enjoying a cup of coffee. Yes, I know he's almost invisible but it's proof.
When not nipping out for a paper and gossiping with neighbours, I’m listening to Sounds of the Sixties. Tim Rice is standing in again for Brian Matthew, who is ill. There’s no better stand-in than Sir Tim because no one knows more about pop history than he does but I’m worried about Brian because he’s eighty eight. If another legend of my youth leaves us this year I shall be distraught.

I was thinking about how, in my early teens, I would listen regularly to Brian Matthew on Saturday Club. Those were the days when The Beatles might appear on the show, larking about and playing live. In these days of stadium rock and tickets for big name concerts at £80.00 a pop, it’s hard to believe how accessible the big names were in those days. The Beatles and other bands famously appeared on variety bills in small theatres even after they’d become well known. When I was a student, the band booked for the weekly Union dance might be Cream. Seems incredible, doesn’t it? Ah, some of you were born too late.:-)
RIP Andrew Sachs. There was much more to him than Fawlty Towers but it’s what he’ll always be remembered for. ‘I know nothing’ is his most famous line, from the episode with wonderful Joan Sanderson as the grumpy deaf woman (Communication Problems). I’m also fond of ‘she go crazy’ (The Psychiatrist) and the scene where he climbs into a laundry basket, saying, ‘I stay here, is nice’ (The Kipper and the Corpse). Timeless.

Profile

callmemadam

January 2017

S M T W T F S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031    

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Aug. 19th, 2017 11:16 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios