About Me

Llantwit Major, Wales, United Kingdom
I am mother, librarian, avid reader, sf fan, writer (unpubished), singer(amateur), animal lover, needlewoman.

Monday, May 25, 2009

On holiday soon

We are in mad packing mode.

B is packing up his whole house as the removal men are moving his stuff from one College house to another while we are on holiday, so his whole house is FULL of boxes. Today we also packed to go on holiday which seemed to involve a lot of ironing on both our parts.

We have finery to wear for the wedding on Saturday, we have picnic stuff, we have camping chairs, table and stove for the picnics, walking boots, food and things as we are staying in cottages - luckily B has a big car, it seems an awful lot for a fortnight really.

I have no idea if we have any internet access so the blog will go by the board for the next few weeks I expect, but there should be lots of nice photos in a couple of weeks.

Fingers crossed for fine weather for the wedding!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

OOh - a sunny day!

Today has been warm and sunny. It is as though the weather realised the wintery stuff it has been dishing up the last couple of weeks is all wrong and has relented to give some sunshine. It may be a false promise, but it is lovely while it lasts.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dinner not quite as planned

Yesterday was bookclub. This is a group of 6 of us who have been getting together once a month to swap books A couple of years ago the nibbles grew and we became a bookclub who had dinner, taking turns cooking. Last night was my turn, and I had planned what I was going to cook, but...

I got my days mixed up.

I came home, cooked my own meal, then Nicky came home and said 'didn't I have book club?' and I said no. Then I thought - what is the date? Then - oops.

A quick dash to the supermarket got most (but not all) of the ingredients for the starter and main course (someone else does the pudding). So Adam cleaned the kitchen and Nic vacuumed while I was at the supermarket, then Nic laid the table and things while I began cooking. She did the bruscetta (easy option starter) while I did the rest.

It was ok. The salmon should have been done in filo pastry but neither supermarket had any so I had to cook it in baking parchment which doesn't have the same effect. They had no fresh chillies either so I had to use dried and misjudged the amount so the rice was hotter than it should have been, however my audience was understanding and the pud was nice.

Oh well, can't win them all.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Moving furniture

B and I went down to the cottage in Pembrokeshire, and on Saturday measured up the sitting room to see if we could fit the boudoir piano in. It is 145cm wide and 140 long so we found lots of places to put it, which means that we then moved the sofas and chairs around to see how it would look. The desk was standing in for the piano and did quite a nice job, so we sat in various places seeing how it would be, and really like the new layout, it is very cosy.

B managed to get the grass cut despite the rain, because there was also a strong wind which dried the grass out enough to cut it, though it was a bit blustery out there when he was doing it. However the difference it made was huge, as it transformed the cottage from looking really scruffy to looking very pleasant again.

Our next door neighbour at the cottage was an elderly man called Ray, who unfortunately took poorly around Christmas, and has had to go into a nursing home, so his house has gone up for sale. it is sad, isn't it. His daughter used to live in the village but died a few years ago from cancer, and his son works in Portugal so has been ordering his groceries from Tescos online from there for the last couple of years, but Ray couldn't cope any more on his own, even with help from other neighbours. Unfortunately his son's UK home is in Shropshire so he has had Ray moved nearer there so people can't visit from Llandeloy. It is sad.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Star Trek

We went to see the Star Trek film yesterday (Spoiler alert!!!!! - don't read on if you haven't seen it and plan to)

I have been a died in the wool Trekkie from day one, and the fact that it wasn't on BBC Wales when I was in Aberystwyth was a disaster of no small proportions. It is tricky to take something which has been going since 1966 and has millions of very keen fans who probably know all the details in more depth than is actually good for them.

when the studios made Star Trek Enterprise I was unable to watch it because they created a prequel series which drove a horse and cart through the storylines which had gone through 3 different series, inventing new aliens, and generally making a nonsense of the history of the world created. It created a lot of fuss among people who objected to that.

I wondered how this film would manage because it has gone to the young Kirk and Spock and them getting together on the Enterprise, and at the beginning I did think - no they have that wrong, that isn't how it happened. But then... they have done something really clever by creating a time loop which has created an alternative history. The original Star Trek series has its plot lines going forward but the new film has its own plotlines in the alternative world which the timeloop has created, and it also means that they can go on making more films using these characters in this alternative timeline without in the least infringing on the original series. It is really clever and very well done.

The casting was good too - the actors playing Kirk and Spock (esp Spock) were excellent, and so even when you have the young Spock talking to the original Spock they are both very believable.
The other cast members work well especially Simon Pegg as Scotty.

I really enjoyed it, much more than I thought I would, but it won't mean a lot to anyone who hasn't watched the original Star Trek.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Concert went ok

The Saturday concert went ok, not great, but ok. Oddly I wrote a blog about it yesterday which seems to have vanished into the ether. We had a nice barbeque afterwards at Tom's house so the whole day was really pleasant.

Brian is moving house with College so the weekend was spent by him packing, and Sunday I gave a hand, and today I have brought back a car full of boxes and bubble wrap to assist.

My slug traps caught some slugs which was good, so I have poured more beer into them and hope to get more.

Other than that - nothing much happening

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Das Lied von der Erde

We had a very spontaneous outing last night. At 6pm I looked at the St David's Hall programme and discovered that Mahler's 'Das Lied von der Erde" was being performed - we thought it was on Saturday when we couldn't go. So two quick changes and 2 cheese sandwiches (eaten in the car) later, we were in Cardiff at the concert.

The first half was Beethoven's 4th which I don't know very well. He wrote a big symphony then a small one, and this is sandwiched between the Eroica and the 5th, which are pretty big and imposing neighbours to contend with. It was charming, inventive, light, very melodic, but doesn't engage the deep emotions that the 2 either side do.

After the interval the orchestra doubled in size, with the addition of some unusual instruments like a contra bassoon and 5 french horns, 2 harps and celeste. I'd never heard this piece before. Mahler had a deep superstition about writing his 9th symphony because no one since Beethoven had completed a 9th symphony, they had all died. So he didn't call it a 9th symphony, even though that is really what it is. It isn't symphonic in structure, having more than 4 movements and those movements not taking the usual symphonic structure. It is a setting of 6 Chinese poems translated into German, sung by tenor and contralto (can be a baritone but we had a contralto), and each poem is a different movement. It was absolutely stunning. We weren't actually seated in the best place because we were in one of the upper tiers so the soloists voices were being overcome by the orchestra when the orchestra really let rip, whereas had we been in the stalls i think the sound balance would have been better. Even so it was an experience.

Some of the movements are light and cheerful, but overall the words and the music are a farewell to life, and the final movement, which is very long, takes you through a range of sounds and emotions with the contra bassoon sounding like a musical foghorn with the very quiet singing , the french horns right at the bottom of their register, the flute, the clarinet, the piccolo all at various times playing duets with the singer. Then at the end the celeste plays with the really quiet singing of the contralto, and creates a complete stillness which lasted for nearly a minute after they finished playing, and the applause began. It was wonderful.

Music is extraordinary in its power to create that. How does something so dynamic as music, which is all about movement in one way or another create a sense of stillness, of stasis?

It was a fantastic concert.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Concerted effort

I still haven't caught many slugs, but the rats haven't been too noisy here. However Kate's rats are more than making up for it as one decided to die in her toilet pipes so the plumber had to come and remove the toilet to enable Carl to remove the maggot laden corpse. Then his friends moved back into the attic. The ratcatcher told her that last year he was getting a couple of calls a week from farmers at this time of year, now he is getting 50 calls a week from Swindon alone. They have poison resistant vermin. UGH.

On a less rodent laden subject, we are singing tomorrow.

This particular 'we' is the St Donats Chamber Choir, of which I am a long term member. We are a small acapella choir singing mostly renaissance music Which is fine. Unfortunately we agreed to sing at a fund raising day on Saturday. it is unfortunate because our conductor can't be there, so we are singing without her. It promises to be very ... very risky. I am not looking forward to it. Tom (person involved with the fundraiser) is hosting a barbeque afterwards, but as I am driving I can't drink, which is sad because I think I might need a drink after this one.

Oh dear. Fingers crossed - very firmly crossed.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cat and rats

I have put rat poison in the drawers in the kitchen for the mice, and will renew the poison in the attic later. Yesterday I dug holes in the garden and put tins with beer in to attract and drown slugs. I have a couple but hope to get more. My killer instinct is clearly working overtime here.

While browsing the tv channels I have come across a film of Cat Stevens 1976 tour. I used to love Cat Stevens, and listening to him brings back all sorts of memories. When this film was made I was 23, younger than my youngest child is now. 1976 was the heatwave summer and we went camping. We were living near Liverpool then, but came to St Davids in Pembrokeshire for a week of our holiday where the temperatures soared up to 96F and Mike got mild sunstroke. Later in that year we met up with lots of family in Norfolk at the end of August, and didn't roll the groundsheet properly, so the following morning woke up to discover our airbed was in a lake as the groundsheet had carefully funnelled all the torrential rain into the tent. We paddled out and dried off in the parental caravan, during the day we made a bonfire and prepared for a barbq, but it began to rain again. However there were far too many of us to get into the caravan so we put on cagouls, got umbrellas and had the barbq in the rain. The pictures still bring that weekend vividly to life. The Mike and I went to York and it turned really cold, so we spent the whole evening in the pub (not great hardship), then put on every garment we possessed to try to get warm enough to sleep when we got back to the tent. A holiday of extremes.

I wonder what Cat Stevens feels when he looks back on that period of his life, or when he hears a song from his pop career, now that he is such a serious religious person. It must be like looking at a stranger, not at yourself. Even I, who haven't really changed much, look back at my 23 year old self with a sense of wonder, curiosity, and occassionally with a tinge of regret. He is now singing Sad Lisa, which takes me back to the sitting room of my parent's house. It is like opening a photograph album - music can lift you up and transport you to the place, the mood, the time when you heard it, or when it had an impact on you. It bypasses the rational part of your brain and memory and takes you elsewhere with no effort. You may not always like all the music of your past but it has power over you.

The other odd thing is that St David's is now our nearest town when we are at Brian's cottage. It is where we usually go for groceries, to have a coffee etc. One of our frequent walks takes us past the campsite which Mike and I stayed in. 23 years later. That 23 year old me would never have guessed. It is very circular in a way, and St David's is such a small place, and so far away from the places I have lived and worked to have such a significance. I find it curious and the natural desire to make patterns of life, even when life is actually random, makes me try to see more in it than coincidence, but coincidence it is.Or not - who can tell.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tiddly pom

I am a bit tiddly, as we had more than one glass of wine with dinner. We have discussed the pros and cons of religious belief, and moved on to the nature of friendship, and ended up on the economics of horse purchasing.

I am incensed by the fact that the slugs have eaten all the lobelia I have planted, that I have a mouse in the kitchen which has eaten my apron, and that the rats are back in the attic even though I have put down lots of rat poison and it is spring and they should be outside by now.

I have been to see the new Cardiff library which is lovely, and well worth a picture or two, but I forgot to take my camera, so I have no pictures, though if you put it in Google I expect some will come up.

I have finished getting my outfit for my nephew's wedding, though I now have a choice of 4 tops and will need assistance deciding which one to wear.

I have cleared out those clothes which live in your drawer and you cannot wear because they are too small/have a stain on the front/look manky because they are so old.

I am now sitting doing this and watchin QI which I do enjoy.

I have given up on the Morag Joss book I am reading and moved on to another one of the Dagger in the library books because I got bored with the Morag Joss. I have also got the talking book of the last Harry Potter book which I have started listening to in the car and am thoroughly enjoying it. I am getting fixated on Stephen Fry as he does HP talking books, QI, and was also on Bones last week.

This is drivel. Blame the wine.