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Helen
Blithe Spirit
minniemoll
To everyone! I've had the best part of a bottle of wine, and am feeling very mellow. Or something.
Revue 3 or Write
minniemoll
For alltheleaves and callmemadam, who wanted photos....

The dress that turned into a skirtCollapse )

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Present Laughter: accomplished accomplished

Revue 9 or Write
minniemoll
Yesterday the sun did shine, so I jumped in the car and headed for Jervaulx Abbey, being on something of an abbey kick at the moment. This one's onwed privately, and is much more the picturesque ruin in the garden that I imagine Rievaulx was before English Heritage got their hands on it and sterilised it - there are plants growing on bits of it, and shrubs inbetween, and whilst it was all a bit autumnal, I imagine it will be beautiful in the spring. But yesterday wasn't bad for November, the sky was blue and the sun was warm, although there was a chill wind. But it was a perfect day for wandering round old stones, and being a Monday there were only a couple more people there, I stayed for ages just enjoying the peace and quiet.



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Revue 4 or Write
minniemoll
It didn't take me long to decide that I was indeed going to play truant from my desk this morning, especially once I remembered that my English Heritage card would get me into any number of heaps of stones in the area for nothing. So I drove up fifteen miles of windy country lanes to Helmsley, and then about two miles north to Rievaulx Abbey. This was the main Cistercian Abbey in the north of England, and at its peak housed 800 men, although by the time Henry VIII arrived there were only 22 men left, they must have rattled around rather, as it must have been huge when it was complete.

There was a free audio guide, but it was narrated as though by a monk of the later days, which I found both irritating and patronising, as well as hugely uninformative. The information panels only served to show an illustration as to how the area may have looked in its prime, and to tell you which button to press for more monkish thoughts - I think the idea is for you to spend another £4 on the guidebook if you want anything aimed at an intelligence higher than that of a small child. The information centre was similarly child-centred.

But the beauty of the buildings and the surroundings surpassed all this, and the sun shone.



As usual, I took lots of photos. Here are some of them....Collapse )

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Revue 9 or Write
minniemoll
The AA routeplanner I printed out to guide me to Bath said that the journey would take just over four hours, I thought that this seemed a little over optimistic, but a combination of clear roads and good weather meant that it was indeed the case, although I did add on half an hour for a lunch break. I found the house we'd rented at the first attempt, thankfully, and met the housekeeper there for a quick tour. The house was lovely, mostly very modern, with the bizarre exception of the single bedroom, which was full of old dark furniture - the rest was very Ikea. It was a topsy turvy house, with the living room, kitchen and one bedroom upstairs, and the bathroom, laundry room and the other bedroom downstairs, which took a little getting used to, but there was plenty of space, which was just as well given the speed with which we filled it with our many belongings and purchases. I'd definitely recommend the house to anyone looking to stay in Bath, it was £500 for the week, and had a twin and a single bedroom.

The house was on Sydney Mews, just over the river from the town centre, to get into town we crossed the Pulteney Bridge, which had dinky little shops all along both sides. The day I arrived the weather was beautiful and warm (I wandered around all afternoon wearing a t-shirt, despite it being October), so as soon as the housekeeper left I shot into town to look round and stretch my legs. And visit bookshops, natch.

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Revue 3 or Write
minniemoll
Packed. Ready. Off.

Back in a week.

Present Laughter: rushed rushed

Revue 2 or Write
minniemoll
I'm off to Bath in the morning, having spent the week since getting home from Cumbria rushing round like an idiot sorting out the stuff I took with me last week, cleaning and tidying the house ready for my parents to come and house/cat sit, and packing to go away again, enlivened by the fact that since we're going to be self-catering, I have had to think of different things to take from the usual, principally food, as it seemed easier to buy the basics at Tesco here than to search for one in Bath. There are a Waitrose and a Sainsbury's in the town centre there, but I didn't fancy lugging milk, ribena, etc back through town, although I will go and pick up some pizza tomorrow afternoon before I pick up kerrilouise and rosealare from the station.

I'm not looking forward to the drive down, as I suspect it will give me a headache (indeed I can feel one coming on just thinking about it) but I'm sure it will be fine. I have an AA route plan printed out, along with ones for everywhere else we might concievably want to go (I was bored at work today), so I should be okay getting there. I'm aiming to leave by nine, but I have several last minute things to do before leaving, including packing the car, so it might be a bit later. But I do want to beat the worst of the Friday traffic (kerrilouise suspects that I really want to get there in time to whizz round the bookshops/charity shops before they arrive, this may also be true).

We have a fairly full schedule, including the Children's Book Fair on Saturday, at which we're meeting ankaret, a visit to Cleeve Abbey, a trip to Bristol and Get Knitted, a visit to Ann and Clarissa and their books and cats, and a day in Bath itself. I don't think I've forgotten anything!

Now I'm off to bed, I was supposed to go half an hour ago, but I've been trying to burn some cds for the car - sadly for some reason the laptop isn't playing, so unless I can make it work in the morning, I'll have to make do with the ones I already have. I don't like taking originals, I tend to fling them round the car when changing them on the move, but a couple may sneak in....

Oh, and the book I bought on Monday arrived today, it is very pretty (and shiny! It has very unusual gold boards), and may just sneak onto my bookshelves. Unless I find anything more desirable and affordable in Bath.
Revue 6 or Write
minniemoll
Oh the perils of the interweb. An email landed in my inbox from abebooks, offering various overpriced Chalet School books, and a hardback copy of Dorita Fairlie Bruce's The School in the Woods, for the low (!) price of £80 (the only other two hardback copies on there are nudging £400), I dithered for about two minutes, then my credit card came out and the deal was done. Now I just have to hope that the bookseller doesn't cancel the order. And if my finances aren't up to paying for it when the credit card bill comes in, I can always stick it on ebay, hopefully for a profit. But I'd really like to keep it.

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Present Laughter: worried poor

Revue 3 or Write
minniemoll
I'm not good at routine when it comes to housework, but one of the few things I can usually manage is a couple of hours of tidying on a Sunday morning whilst listening to Michael Parkinson on Radio 2. So imagine my outrage this morning when I switch on five minutes late to hear the late and unlamented tones of Kenny Everett. Kenny Everett! In Parkie's slot! The rest of the day is all wrong too, it seems to be their birthday. But that's no excuse for depriving me of Parkie's dulcet tones and my weekly dose of news and culture. Boo hiss.

So instead of tidying, cleaning etc, I sat back down on the sofa with my laptop and read lj. widgetfox was talking about the Boden catalogue, and I decided to visit their website to request a copy. I clicked in the title box, as you do, and almost fell off the sofa laughing at the list of titles from which I can choose. I'm torn between The Marchioness of, The Hon Mrs and The Vicountess, but I may just settle for Princess....

Hey ho, back down to earth and off to find a suitable cd to accompany me as I defrost the freezer.

Present Laughter: amused amused

Revue 6 or Write
minniemoll

On Wednesday we drove to Buttermere and walked round the lake. It's about five miles round, mostly flat although there are a few ups and downs on the road side of the lake, it would have been very pleasant if a cold wind hadn't suddenly arrived, which blew in our faces all the way back.



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Revue 2 or Write
minniemoll
Coming into work for one day on a Friday after arriving home from holiday at going up for nine o'clock the night before was just such a bad idea. I'm tired and irritable, ready to fight with my own shadow, and counting the minutes till five o'clock. Tomorrow I'm going to have a very quiet day, to get my head back together before spending three days getting ready to go to Bath, and cleaning and tidying as my parents are cat/house-sitting whilst I'm away.

I have managed to ring the housekeeper for the house in Bath, to tell her when I'll be arriving next Friday, as per instructions on the confirmation letter, her advice was to ring her when I arrive... And she said that she could tell where I was ringing from by my Yorkshire accent, perhaps all Northern accents sound the same to southerners.

I've also wrestled with Amazon - I had two cards waiting for me when I arrived home last night, from the Home Delivery Network. There was no tracking number on either card, and the number on the card had been changed by hand from an 0870 number to an 0844 number, which was unobtainable. The HDNL website was completely useless, so I used Amazon's ring back service, which worked well until it came to actually speaking to someone, as their operators appear to be in America but not of American origin, so they speak broken American English (I spoke to two, the first one was cut off, not sure if it was their fault or my mobile). They told me to ring the 0870 number which had been crossed out, then the second one emailed HDNL for me, and apparently the parcel will arrive on Monday. I'm not holding my breath.

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Conversation Place: work
Present Laughter: irritated irritated

Revue 7 or Write
minniemoll



More photosCollapse )

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Revue 15 or Write
minniemoll
Photos, mostly of flowersCollapse )

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Write
minniemoll
I've been terribly bad at updating lately, largely due to the fact that I have eighteen squillion posts stacked up inside my head, but they all require photos, and the effort of actually downloading them from the camera, editing them, uploading them and then putting them into a post in a logical order is just that step too far at the moment. And I really want to write about things that happened last week and the week before before I write about today, so the backlog gets bigger and nothing gets written. But tonight I will bite the bullet and ignore the past.

Day out in NewcastleCollapse )

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Present Laughter: exhausted exhausted

Revue 3 or Write
minniemoll

The day started off well, I got up in time to go car booting, and whilst I didn't find that elusive copy of Joy's New Adventure in a dj, I didn't do too badly. I'm pleased with a pretty annual (School Stories for Girls) which has a Josephine Elder story I've never seen before in it (Guide Isabella) - in all too familiar form, the authors aren't credited on the contents page, so I'm glad I flicked through it.

Then back here to pack a couple of parcels and take them to the post office, completely forgetting that the first of the month is car tax day, with associated queues at the post office - this one was round the shop, out the door and half way down the road. I'd been energetic and gone on my bike, so I went straight past and on into town, feeling very virtuous at getting so much exercise. I didn't linger in town, it would only have involved spending money and/or killing several tourists for being dense, so I came home again. But my legs aren't used to doing so much cycling all at once (okay, it's not very much, but I'm out of condition), and now I'm exhausted, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the day. The sun's come out too - how did it know I was exercising at the time? Perhaps I'll sit down for an hour and get my breath back, then attempt to get some books listed. Or wash up. Or something.

Write
minniemoll

An ebay seller, who insisted on sending some very cheap paperbacks by first class recorded delivery, even though I asked her for the cheapest postage (okay, it was after I'd bought them, so I paid up) has just sent me this email -

HI, Royal Mail tried to deliver your item on Saturday 11/08/07. Please contact them to arrange another delivery date.

Well, actually, the little red card through my door was a clue, and I have had parcels before, and know what to do with them. Funny that. I am very tempted to respond in a similarly patronising manner, but am venting here instead....

Although if, as I suspect, she has massively overcharged me for postage, my feedback will reflect that. And the patronising attitude may well be mentioned.

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Present Laughter: irritated irritated

Revue 7 or Write
minniemoll
Via white_hart, blog a Penguin Classic. Sign up, agree to write a review within six weeks, and they'll send you a free random Penguin classic (they tell you via email which one you've been given).

I was a bit dubious in case I was allocated something desparately intellectual about Greeks or Romans, which may have been good for me but perhaps too much of a good thing, but they must know me, as I've been allocated The Collected Dorothy Parker. Sadly I do already have a copy, but I'm hoping that this may be a new edition with different writings in it, mine being about 15 years old.

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Conversation Place: work
Present Laughter: bored bored

Revue 2 or Write
minniemoll
I've been reading. This probably doesn't sound like an unusual activity for me to engage in, given that I live in a house full of books, but lately I've got out of the habit somehow, and whilst I've read the first chapter or two of a few books, they haven't grabbed me and have been abandoned with just the corner of a newspaper to show the point at which I gave up.

But a few weeks ago, I was at my parents, and I spotted a book which I'm sure I must have bought - it didn't fit in at all with Mum's usual chicklit fare and Jilly Coopers. It was Shadow Baby, by Margaret Forster, a writer with whom I've had an uneasy relationship over the years. I've enjoyed some of her books, especially her biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and its companion piece, Lady's Maid, as well as some of her earlier fiction, especially Private Papers. But The Memory Box disappointed, seeming to promise more than it delivered, and I completed failed to realise that Diary of an Ordinary Woman was a work of fiction until the very end, when I nearly hurled it across the room, I was so cross. But that reaction demonstrates the power of her writing, and Shadow Baby engaged me to a similar degree. Although I did realise that this one was fiction, so it escaped my rage.

It's the story of two girls who are abandoned by their mothers as babies, Evie in 1887, and Shona in 1956. The narrative switches between the girls for several chapters, then between their mothers for a few more, then back to the girls, but it was Evie and her mother Leah who really came to life for me, and it wasn't until I found a nice hardback of Hidden Lives in a charity shop (glossing over the fact that on arriving home I found a pristine paperback on my bookshelves....) that I realised why. Evie and Leah's story is based firmly on the mysterious story of Forster's own grandmother, with the missing parts of her grandmother's story filled in - the reason for Leah's abandonment of Evie was one of few parts of Shadow Baby which grated, perhaps because the rest seemed so true, and now I realised why - Forster's family never found out the truth of her grandmother's missing years and mysterious daughter. But I thoroughly enjoyed both books, and despite having several more dotted about which I've either never read or read so long ago I've forgotten them, I had to go straight to Amazon and order more.

Whilst on Amazon, I ordered a couple of books by Adele Geras - Made in Heaven and Facing the Light. I've heard both mentioned in glowing terms on various book blogs recently, and decided to give them a go. Well. I enjoyed them both, but I'm not raving about them, I'm afraid. The stories seemed to meander about, with huge amounts of padding and long descriptive passages I could have lived without. The two family secrets in Facing the Light were glaringly obvious from very early on - I kept thinking that it was all too obvious, and that there would be a twist, but sadly not. And Made in Heaven just made me even more determined never to have a big wedding. Ever. Even if it does all turn out (predictably!) well in the end. They were both pleasant reads, and I've ordered Hester's Story and the new one, the name of which escapes me, I'm just thinking perhaps I'm missing something, given that others seem to have enjoyed them much more than me. But it would be a very dull world if we were all the same, and other such platitudes.

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Write
minniemoll
kerrilouise has come to stay with me, so after spending several days running round like a lunatic trying to get the house into something even vaguely approaching order, we're now spending time running round like lunatics trying to see as many places as possible in a week. Yesterday we went to the Castle Museum in York, which is much better when it isn't full of tourists who've only come in because it's raining, especially when two of the children (who were quite old enough to know better) were blowing aimlessly into recorders all the way round. Then we climbed up Clifford's Tower, largely because it was next door and we both have English Heritage cards, but frankly the best bit was the view from the top of the walls. The blow up gift shop in the middle was a bit bizarre though.

But today was much more exciting - we went to Chatsworth. I've been before, but it was when Ray was ill, and we rushed round rather and I didn't remember much about it. The weather was almost certainly better than today though. But we managed to have a lovely time, even though the routeplanner and Kerri's satnav both took us through Sheffield, which I suspected would be a mistake, as indeed it was. I've seen it, and I don't want to see it again. We came home via Chesterfield, which was much easier. Although we managed to miss the famous spire completely, being too busy trying to read road signs that were completely covered by trees. The inevitable photosCollapse )

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minniemoll

Outside my front door there is a slightly bizarre planter fashioned by the previous owner out of two plastic planters and some cement, which is now falling off. Occasionally I plant flowers in it, but its under the porch so doesn't get any rain, and given my complete inability to remember to water it, it's usually full of dusty soil. But occasionally something much more amusing grows in it.....

Look what my garden grows!Collapse )

I bought a new frockCollapse )

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Revue 9 or Write