Friday, 27 February 2015

Birds in Selsey.

A few weeks ago we visited old friends in Selsey, apart from the wonderful hot tub in their garden we found spoonbills, a first for me, and this time avocets and yellow hammers. I've seen avocets in Namibia, but never here although it seems they're often here. We should see even more birds since the new wetland area has been flooded.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Ebola virus disease

Ebola is mostly out of the news and forgotten, but this video gives a rather different perspective on not dying from it,The-Ebola-survivors-saving-lives is sad and heartwarming at the same time. It was one of the links on the FutureLearn Ebola MOOC.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Laura M.A.

Laura's now successfully completed her MA, they all had a wonderful show in Islington, her pictures are amazing, but as I might be a little biased you can look at them for yourselves. Have a wander round some more of her art, it's all so detailed.
To celebrate all the many hours of hard work they've put in, I made a cake for the family day yesterday. It's the first time for ages I've had a really big one to do, all the classic illustrations of course, and a little nod to Laura.

She's made some lovely friends there, sadly none locally, so I wish them all the very best for the future in their various corners of Europe. Fjords and Giants Causeway here I come!

Monday, 12 January 2015

Busy with books!

My lack of posts make me look really lazy, but I'm really not:
Fiona McFarlane: The Night Guest had spectacular reviews but I didn't think it lived up to the hype. After rather a slow start it had some brilliant descriptions of the confusion and fears of a frail old lady, but the denouement was sadly predictable, but not entirely believable as the presumably intelligent sons also made no checks on the mysterious appearance of Frida.
Betty Smith: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, is the only successful novel by its American author. It’s over 600 pages with no adventure or real story, just the growing up of a variably poor second generation family. Brilliant characterisations and surprisingly un-dated in the anguishes of a normal family.
Gavin Frances: Empire Antarctica. I can never resist true travel stories, add the author being a doctor in a remote Antarctic base with the Rosey-connection and a very poetic style of writing and you have a guaranteed winner. Excellent, and evocative of a tempting place I’ll probably never see.
Rob Manning & William L Simon: Mars Rover Curiosity. A bit geeky, but an interesting account of the run up to Curiosity landing on Mars. I’d no idea there was so much in-fighting, penny-pinching and politics, I thought the science would be hard enough.
Sue Monk Kidd: The Secret Life of Bees is the tale of a white girl who escapes her father’s tyranny with her black servant/nanny by way of prison for involvement in race riots and hospital when Rosaleen is beaten up by the police. A small picture of a Black Madonna leads to some truth about Lily’s dead Mother. Heart-warming and beautifully written. Many lively characters.
S J Watson: Before I go to Sleep. I was surprised to find that SJ Watson is a man, a sensitive accout of a lady with amnesia waking each morning with no idea who she is, or the man in bed with her. All is not quite as it seems as the twisted plot unfurls.. The end leaves you wondering, but gripping until then.
Maurice Herzog: Annapurna is the classic tale of the successful 1951 French expedition to Annapurna, the first 8,000m peak to be climbed. Nepal was barely opened to foreigners, all needed special permission and the only way in was by rail to the India-Nepal border, a short stretch of road then walk with porters from there, including 10s of tons of luggage. The few miles of road in the Kathmandu Valley had a couple of dozen cars brought in the same way. Maps were primitive, old and inaccurate with huge valleys and mountains in the wrong place. No Google Earth! Considerable time was spent even finding the beast. Two of the party made it to the top, but at a terrible price, the loss of many digits, and barely got down  alive. The treatments for frostbite were interesting: beat the life back into limbs with rope whips, if that fails intra-arterial lignocaine or acetyl choline.
A good tale for anyone interested in Nepal, trekking, climbing or people. It suffered a little from too-literal translation from the French in a few places.

Malala Yousafzai: I am Malala, inspiring account of life in the beautiful Swat valley leading up to the Taliban rule, and after they were apparently ousted. Such normal girls in such a difficult situation. Ends after her near miraculous recovery and exile with her whole family to the UK.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Back again.

I grovel with apologies to all the people who looked for progress on New Year's Eve, I've been lazy. I didn't even have to do the Christmas lunch, Amy sorted that out, Duck with all trimmings. Laura took a day out from her MA to join us, hand-in day is this Monday so all wish her luck. R finished his OU degree, got a first of course, so we'll do lots of travelling before he starts on a Masters too. I'm the only one in the family with only one qualification.