Friday, 29 April 2016

Home Fires Theme Song

Home Fires is a dramatic series (OK, soap) set in a Cheshire village during WWII. The main characters are members of the Women's Institute, which is why I started watching it. Now in the second series I'm not sure it has much to do with the WI any longer but, too late, I'm hooked.

No idea if it is available in the US yet but if it comes to your area I recommend watching it, at least once. In the meantime, enjoy the theme song.


It's written by Samuel Sim. The artists are vocalists Heather Cairncross, Ioanna Forbes L'Estrange, Rachel Weston and Grace Davidson. Chris Richards (clarinet), Ileana Ruhemann (flute) and Caroline Dale (cello).

This music has grabbed me almost as much as the TV show.

Monday, 25 April 2016

This Year's Stack

Inspired several years ago by LR at Magnificent or Egregious, I started posting about the books I got for Christmas. I'd meant to do so back in January and so set them up and snapped a photo, then another that was a bit straighter. The only two photos I took in January 2016. Amazing.

So here they are:

The Sustainable Fashion Handbook, Sandy Black. Haven't read it yet. I'm hoping it will inspire me as much as a book I saw everywhere a few years ago, but can't find now. It was about how clothing designers were finding ways to reuse textiles or design for zero waste. 

An Historical, Environmental and Cultural Atlas of County Donegal, Jim MacLaughlin and Sean Beattie. A wonderful book that covers so much I feel I've already been to Donegal. I admit to skipping the chapters about glaciers and geology; I simply don't have the vocabulary to understand it. But I read every other word from front to back, making frequent reference to the map showing towns. If I manage to keep at this blogging lark I'll no doubt have more to say about this!

Women in my Rose Garden, Ann Chapman. Started on this but wasn't grabbed. Will have another go. I think I thought I would learn something practical about roses, but my initial impression is that it is a collection of stories about the women for whom roses were named. 

Quilted Bags and Totes, Denise Clayson. A gift from Vivien! I've not tried quilting yet, but I think it would be an interesting addition to the scrappy bags I love to make.

Sew Useful, Debby Shore. This got passed around the craft group one evening and I snapped a photo so I could put it on my wishlist. Several projects in there I want to try.

Snobbery, Joseph Epstein. Dipped into this but haven't found it fascinating. As far as I read I didn't learn anything new about the class system in America. Will go at it again, but I'm thinking it holds not even a matchstick compared with Paul Fussell's book.

The Hands-On Home, Erica Strauss. I've long enjoyed Erica's blog, Northwest Edible Life. I latched onto this thinking that gardening in Seattle might be similar to here in NorthEast England. That may or may not be true. Having read through this book several times, what I've worked out that is NOT similar is my supply of energy. I was never the homesteader type to begin with, but there are still any number of great ideas in here - and it's not just a repeat of her blog as far as I can tell, which is impressive.

Gardening for a Lifetime, Sydney Eddison. I was hoping there would be some magic solution to my laziness / ignorance / dislike of cold / increasing age. This is more a book about her specific garden and about all the paid and volunteer helpers she had over the years. I gleaned two ideas from this. One is to plant bushes, not flowers. The other was a specific recommendation for plants that have great colours year round. I will be looking out for that. And I've got the name and number of a friend's gardener.

Fabric Flowers, Kate Haxell. This is another book that went around the craft group. Not sure I'll manage to make any flowers, but perhaps this is an idea for our WI craft group. Will have to have a go.

Flapper, Joshua Zeitz. A fabulous book about not just 'flappers' but women of the early 19th century, a snapshot of social history. I felt as though I was reading about my maternal Grandmother, who was an enigma to anyone who knew her. Bill enjoyed reading this book as well.

Gregor the Overlander series, Suzanne Collins. Since I totally love the Hunger Games series I decided to try these other books. I never thought I would enjoy a book whose characters were rats, cockroaches and other species I generally avoid, but I did. And so did Bill. 

The Snowball - Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Alice Schroeder. A very large book, but incredibly readable. I enjoyed the book because it was about mid-America during my lifetime and it opened my eyes to any number of financial goings on that never blipped my radar at the time. The short version is that Buffett owes his success to having a hateful mother and being extremely boring.

The Secret Rooms, Catherine Bailey. About the Dukes of Rutland, in particular the 9th one who lived around the time of WWI. I'd not ever caught up with the Rutlands (or realised that Belvoir Castle is pronounced Beaver). I had seen the present Duchess of Rutland on the telly with Alan Titchmarsh (a gardner whose made it big) about the landscape of Belvoir. I liked it a lot for the history and the time period, for its despicable / pathetic / mysterious characters, and the insight into how the writer worked on this book. Bill enjoyed it as well, though he got quite exasperated with some of the characters. Sometimes having a hateful mother can be one's downfall as well as one's saviour.

The Pauper's Homemaking Book, Jocasta Innes. Haven't read this yet, but I shall shortly. Simon gave me this for Christmas but reminded me it was on my Amazon wishlist so I shouldn't be insulted. I just laughed at him. I doubt Bill's kids will ever understand the concept of tightwaddery.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo. I've been curious about this for a while, having read snippets from other blogs, etc. I felt as though I were visiting another culture, her outlook is so different to mine. There are some good ideas in here about folding things in drawers...things that don't wrinkle that is. I don't really wish to anthropomorphize my possessions and I'm not sure I understand her definition of 'joy'. I agree that a lot of paper work bring the opposite of anyone's idea of joy, but throwing it all away is a catastrophically bad idea and I hope no one is foolish enough to follow that advice. I plan to make a few notes and then pass the book along so it can bring 'joy' to someone else.

Aprons and Silver Spoons, Mollie Moran. I read this even before 2015 was over and really enjoyed it. Whether I needed to own it is perhaps another question. Our libraries have downsized in recent years, selling off much of the stock that would have interested me. I've bought books for £1 that I don't really have space for because I didn't want to see them disappear before I'd had a chance to read them. I will pick this one up again and if I enjoy it as much the second time, it stays. Otherwise I need the space. I don't remember many of the details, but remember I pictured Rose Leslie, the actress who played Gwen the housemaid-who-became-a-secretary in Downton Abbey.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Remembering My Dad

Several people have remarked to me (IRL) that I've not written much here lately. I always say I've not quit, I just have other stuff to do. I didn't get much feedback from readers here and while I do post mainly for my own amusement, it got a little lonely at times. Facebook is far easier than blogging for social contact. However, I don't want to stop my habit of remembering my loved ones here and Facebook doesn't seem appropriate for the sort of brain dump I do here; not to mention it's impossible to find things there once they drift off your screen. Anyhow... 

On this occasion of my Dad's birthday I've pulled out some photos that seem quite unlike him to me. It's not just that they were taken before I was born, it's the hat. By the time I came along he didn't wear them any more. I think we've lost something with the demise of regular hat-wearing.  

I never saw him wear vests either. I think they're called waistcoats over here; a vest refers to the undershirt my grandpa wore, sort of like a tank top. My dad never wore that sort of vest when I knew him, but he always liked loud neckties, as you can see here.

I like these photos because he looks happy and relaxed. I'm guessing they were taken up north in Minnesota (because of the big lake) so this will have been in the late 1940s. 

I think this last picture is my favourite. It shows one of his characteristic expressions. 

Happy Birthday, Daddy. Long gone but never forgotten.