Monday 30 January 2012

Monday's musings

The toilet seat in the downstairs cloakroom has just broken. (I'll spare you a picture!) We have had to buy a new one. Why? Because a washer – hardly bigger than this letter O – has broken and the screw which holds it on has corroded too much to be removable. So an otherwise perfect wooden toilet seat is consigned to the scrapheap. This is the third item in recent weeks that has had to be scrapped because of the failure of some tiny part or other. I do wish manufacturers would put as much effort into making the little bits as they do into the prettiness and complexity of their products.

Here's another creation with a design fault. It's a wonderful thing – a striker that creates a spark and can start a fire in any circumstances. But the handle is too small and holding it is made even more awkward by the positioning of the chain through the middle. Such a little thing and so easy to have got it right.

(Photo from the web - no copyright details known)

Having commented on books versus films the other day I did something most unusual and watched the start of a TV series of the book 'Birdsong' (ranked 10/10 in my book blog). I was curious to see if they could make it half as excellent as the book and to my surprise it was very good, not least because of the presence of Clémence Poésy as Isabelle. I appreciate beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder but in my view she is extremely attractive.

I am not sure how lucky we are to have fruit and vegetables all year round nowadays. It makes recipe planning a lot easier but I miss the anticipation of things coming into season. As children we used to look forward to the days of early July when the first West Country strawberries would arrive here on Merseyside. Mum's birthday in mid-July would often be celebrated with Scottish strawberries or those from the local Lydiate fields. Nowadays we can have strawberries all year round and they have lost a lot of their excitement and exotic feel.

And finally, a question. Why do we blokes get asked questions to which there is no sensible answer? After making a very weird statement the other day Partner-who-drinks-tea asked “Does that sound stupid?” Can anyone tell me what the appropriate acceptable answer might be?

Saturday 28 January 2012

Saturday Speculations...

Our local library was eventually rescued after attempts to close it in December 2008. Now it's under threat again. Wirral Council is proposing to turn it into a One-stop-shop for Council services. Out will go librarians and in will come customer service personnel. Out will go folk to receive your books and stamp them out and in will come machines. This will undoubtedly lead to a drop in usage. This will then give THEM the excuse to close it... One should know better than to fight the inevitable but I shall.

A lovely moment on the BBC Children's programme Newsround. One of the presenters said “When you think of extinction your mind might go to do-dos”. Oops. She pronounced it doo-doos as opposed to doh-dohs. My mind doesn't often go to doo-doos though it sounds like a good children’s word for a trip to the toilet!

Football again dominated my day - this time it was Liverpool knocking Manchester United (our arch rivals) out of the F.A. Cup. What a marvellous week for the club and its fans.

I haven't won the lottery this week but I did win in December – a total of £8.10p. Not quite the fortune I was hoping for. Partner-who-drinks-tea often contemplates what she would do with a large win but I rarely bother. It did occur to me the other day that one thing I would do (after I had hired an odd job man to save me all the horrible D-I-Y tasks) was buy a house with a large enough room for my library. I would then try to find a copy of every book I have ever read – at least, those that I can remember. (I've been reading Audrey Niffenegger's 'The Night Bookmobile').

There would be two complete sets of paperback Agatha Christies (the Pan and Fontana ones), hardback Billy Bunter books, Alistair MacLeans (in the leather-backed Heron series), beautiful Beatrix Potters, hardback Nigel Tranters and paperback P G Wodehouse sets, Black Beauty (in a red binding) and Man Booker Prize winners. What fun it would be collecting them and trying to find editions with the same covers or bindings.

One wall would be devoted to those books I haven't read but which are either an integral part of my library at the moment (like the New Naturalist series which, in all honesty, I am unlikely ever to read in full)or are on my To Be Read list.

In the middle of the room would be a series of waist high stands with my favourite books open at some suitable place or displaying their covers It might be a favourite illustration or a beloved piece of text. I would change these display books once a week. If you want to visit, entrance will be free. Alternatively, you might like to create your own in your mind – which is about as real as mine is ever likely to get!

Thursday 26 January 2012

A Thursday Toddle around Scriptor's Mind

Irrespective of whether it's a frosty, placid morning or a wet one with a battering gale our resident Robin sings his little heart out before dawn each morning. He parks himself inside the hedge adjacent to the conservatory window and burbles and chirps contentedly. Since we have our first cup(s) of tea in the conservatory it's a lovely sound and almost makes up for getting up in the dark.

The BBC have decided, as part of their cuts, to axe the best programmes they have - “Something for the Weekend” and some of their Formula One coverage. “Something for the Weekend” finishes in March and I'm very sad. Simon Rimmer's recipes are among the best, easiest and most cleverly explained on TV and I shall miss the Sunday morning banter between Louise Redknapp, Tim Lovejoy and him. I shall also miss their gadget round-up in which they look at some of the latest gadgets on the market – from the wonderful to the truly wacky. This week's included a cookie catcher.  That's both wonderful and wacky.

If you dunk your biscuits the cookie catcher will ensure you don't end up with biscuity tea if you leave it in too long. It can also be used to retrieve tea bags – a great little idea.   I like dunking ginger nuts but some people allegedly like dunking digestive biscuits and hobnobs.  If you are one of those folk I have to be honest and say the one word that comes to my mind - weird!!  Who would dunk a digestive?

What I hadn't realised until I looked for a cookie-catcher image was that those paper fortune-tellers that we made as children – or were subjected to by our girl friends – were also called cookie catchers. I know we didn't call them that as children because the word cookie didn't enter my vocabulary until the 80s when my girls started watching television and one of them asked me what a 'girl scout cookie' was. We didn't have Google in those days so I had to ask their mother. To me a biscuit was a biscuit and it will always remain so!

Talking of biscuits, I have managed to acquire some coconut rings.  What happened to them?  They were once the most popular and cheapest of the biscuits in our UK supermarkets and then all of a sudden they disappeared.  It's been about eighteen months since that happened but now they are back.  Hooray.  (And P.S. I don't dunk coconut rings either).

The third issue of We Love This Book has just arrived (not long after the second one, which was decidedly late – teething troubles, I presume). I can strongly recommend it. Anyone who doesn't get a TLS weekly or a regular Sunday paper with book reviews can catch up with what is going on in the book world as well as enjoying some good articles at the same time. I have now acquired another long list of books I want to read.  That's really the last thing I needed.  I don't normally bother with short stories in a magazine but Sophie Hannah's 'Something Untoward' was brilliant.

P.S. I haven't been paid to advertise We Love This Book (or the cookie catcher). I thought I'd mention that since so many blogs nowadays are just an excuse for advertising. Not that I blame folk for trying to make money however they can in these hard times. Good luck to them, I say.

Roy of the Rovers - aka Steven Gerrard

Son-who-watches-films and I were delighted to see King Kenny (aka manager Kenny Dalgleish),Captain Fantastic (aka Steven Gerrard) and the tireless Craig Bellamy pull Liverpool F.C. through to the Final of the Carling Cup.

They will meet Cardiff at Wembley on February 29th. Craig is from Cardiff but I don't think that will stop him celebrating if he scores again.

Apart from a slight but momentarily worrying health crisis in the family – not me for a change – which seems to be over for the moment there hasn't been much else to report.

I'm still without my laptop so I blogged this using mind power - are you impressed??

Tuesday 24 January 2012

My Films

One of the series I am reading at the moment is the Inheritance Series by Christopher Paolini. It began with the novel 'Eragon'. It's at times like this I'm glad I don't watch films – with the occasional rare exception (I watched 'Breakfast at Tiffany’s' and 'You've got Mail' again at Christmas!) . There was a film of 'Eragon' in 2006 and I think that people who read a book after seeing a film must have their view of the book quite slanted by the characters and plot of the film. Not only are the characters often different from how one might have imagined them on one's own but also the plot is often varied by the screenwriters.

These are the exceptions – the films I have watched and, in some cases, would happily watch again and again:

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Dead Poets' Society
Easy Rider
Forrest Gump
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Good Morning, Vietnam
Grand Prix
The Graduate
Groundhog Day
The Hours
Lord of the Rings (after I'd read the books twice)

Love Actually
My Fair Lady
Pretty Woman
Shakespeare in Love

What Women Want
You've Got Mail

Chinese proverbs and other wisdom

(Written on Jo's laptop)

A bridge never crossed is a life never lived. Traditional

He who asks is a fool for five minutes. But he who does not ask remains a fool forever. Traditional

Do not forget to take your wife when you move house. Traditional

There is no greater happiness than freedom from worry,and there is no greater wealth than contentment. Lao Zi, Spring and Autumn Period

A man has only one death. Sima Qian, Han Dynasty

During his lifetime, an individual should devote his efforts to create happiness and to enjoy it, and also to keep it in store in society so that individuals of the future may also enjoy it, one generation doing the same for next and so on unto infinity. - Chen Duxiu, Republican Period

Life is but a smile on the lips of death. Li Zhinfa, People's Republic

Once a word is spoken four horses cannot drag it back. Ouyang Xiu, Song Dynasty

By using bronze as a mirror, you can adjust your clothes and hat. By using history as a mirror, you can know the rise and fall of empires. By using man as a mirror, you can know your virtues and errors. Tai Cong, Tang Dynasty

How do you know what the fish think? You're not a fish. Hui Zi, Warring States period

One night I was a butterfly, fluttering happily around. Then I awoke, and I found that I was a man. But what am I in truth? A man who dreams he is a butterfly, or a butterfly who dreams he is a man? Zhuang Zi, Warring States Period

Whilst the last one is my favourite it is closely followed by  'Do not forget to take your wife when you move house'.

Monday 23 January 2012

Happy Chinese New Year

 (Written on Jo's laptop)

Chinese New Year begins according to the Chinese calendar which consists of both Gregorian and lunar-solar calendar systems. Because the track of the new moon changes from year to year, Chinese New Year can begin anytime between late January and mid-February. 

New Year 2012 is January 23rd and the animal for the year is the Dragon.

To learn all about the Dragon personality go to this page.

The Chinese Dragon is a mythological symbol that represents fertility, immortality and happiness. What’s more, it’s also know to symbolize procreation and activity. Dating as far back as 3000 BC, many looked to Chinese Dragons to keep evil spirits at bay. When you are visiting any Chinese city, you’ll come face-to-face with mystical, powerful dragons who are proudly displayed on ancient monuments, and stone pillars of Chinese temples.

All over the city, you’ll find Chinese Dragons depicted as playing with a thunder ball or a pearl in addition to be embroidered on gorgeous gold and silk tapestries. And that’s not all. Chinese generals wear these dragons on their uniforms and they were the once the imperial emblem of Chinese Emperors. During ancient times, the dragon was considered the most sacred of all animals. The Chinese Dragon meaning is also one of divine ruler of the sea, the river and the lakes. The Chinese refer to themselves as Descendents of the Dragon”Long De Chuan Ren.”

The Year of the Dragon is considered the year of luck because a part of the Chinese Dragon meaning is good fortune in the areas of health, wealth and living a long, prosperous life. It is believed that anyone who holds an emblem of this divine mythical animal will be protected and safe. This all important ancient symbol is respected and beloved by the Chinese people
If you want to know what animal sign you are see the chart below.  

The Ox is sometimes also known as the Buffalo, the Rabbit as the Cat and the Sheep as the Goat.

I’m a boring Buffalo or Ox.  What are you?

Saturday 21 January 2012

Cannot (never mind 'Do Not') Resuscitate

(Written on the laptop of Partner-who-loves-tea)

O.K., smile everyone. Laugh if you will. Or “Tut, tut,” at how my article about the great God DataTransfer was blasphemous. I don't mind how you react. I won't be able to read your comments yet awhile. My laptop has stopped working. It won't produce a boot signal at all. It's dead. Kaput. Mort. Strongly resembles an ER ward in a power cut. Not a single light or bleep. Cannot (never mind 'Do Not') Resuscitate.

Partner-who-loves-tea thinks that it's hilarious in the light of my diatribe against DataTransfer. I think she should be struck off her therapy registers. Where is the empathy? What happened to 'So how do you feel about this?' It's all she can do to stop the tears of hilarity from streaming down her cheeks.

It probably doesn't help that I've just finished reading Sarah Winman's wonderful novel “When God was a Rabbit”.

Anyone want a twelve month old laptop with no signs of life? And an ex-partner, ditto, which is what will happen if she doesn't stop saying, 'Sorry,' hiccup, giggle, 'can't help it!'

I know. I broke the Seventh Commandment and took “the name of the Lord thy God in vain”. Sorry to both Him and HIM but I suppose it's too late for that....

Friday 20 January 2012


I am reading a number of books on my Kindle. As a result I no longer have page numbers and, more importantly, I have no total number of pages. The ability to vary the size of the font (and, in my case, use a big one to make it easier on my double vision problem) means the number of 'pages' can vary enormously - even if one could count them. I wanted to add up my number of pages read in 2012 and future years but how to do it. Any suggestions?

Thursday 19 January 2012


I knew He would get His own back as soon as I posted my rant against DataTransfer! Look what happened when I went to see who had posted anything lately...

He is obviously omniscient - and it didn't take him long to respond!


GB managed to leave two comments on someone's blog the other day and then asked how that happened! "GB," I wrote, "it's a computer - that's how it happened! Never question the workings of the God 'DataTransfer'." Similarly, when a blog post of mine was three days in the arriving on my blog DataTransfer had been meddling again. He had changed my scheduled blog posting to a 'draft'. This is something He has a habit of doing just to annoy me. I check that a posting is scheduled - and it is - and when it doesn't appear I find He turned it back into a 'draft'.

GB being a bit of an atheist may not believe in DataTransfer but I’m sure He exists. Of course, He could be a She depending upon which sex you consider to be the more devious.

Another of His latest tricks is to take you to the bottom of the page of comments when you visit certain blogs (Adrian’s and Phil’s for example). I say ‘take you’ but needless to say what He does to one visitor He may not do to another. He is quite choosy who He picks on at times. And He sure as Hell picks on me! If I knew of a way of killing a God I’d give it a go. I understand Baldur was killed by a dart made of mistletoe but that presupposes you can find the God in the first place. These immortals tend to hide on tops of mountains and my climbing days are over. Similarly, giving DataTransfer a mortal-turning drink would require finding Him.

I tried Yahoo Answers to see if they could help and came up with this by Earthtojoe (with acknowledgements to Philip Pullman).

Step 1: Create a knife which can cut through the fabric of the universe at the subatomic level.

Step 2: Use the knife to make openings in the aether through which you can enter parallel earths. Scour all possible worlds for the physical manifestation of the deity who is your quarry. He/She has to be somewhere. Look for a clouded mountain - they'll probably be found at the summit, relaxing atop a gilded throne, surrounded by angel-servants waving palm leaves and bearing grapes.

Step 3: Get close. Stab frantically. When the God/Goddess has fallen, turn the blade on His or Her minions - let them know who's boss before they try to take advantage of the resulting power vacuum.

Step 4: Usurp throne, commence autocratic rule of Heaven and earth.

That seems a bit drastic but I may be forced to do it if He doesn't lay off me.

At the top of the posting I showed an image of DataTransfer as many people might picture Him. A sort of Michaelangelo creation who meddles in things.

Alternatively He could be a Thor-like figure who brings His hammer or lightning down on random particles of information as they spin through the universe.

A further alternative came up when I put ‘Image of God’ into Google:-

If you were to dig a hole 300 feet straight down from the charming French village of Crozet you’d come upon a ‘garishly lit tunnel ten feet in diameter which curves away into the distance, interrupted every few miles by lofty chambers crammed with heavy steel structures, cables, pipes, wires, magnets, tubes, shafts, catwalks, and enigmatic gizmos.’ (Joel Achenbach) This is the Large Hadron Collider which aims to solve the mystery of how the Universe was formed and whodunit. A bit like a mechanical Miss Marple. Now this is far more like how I envisage DataTransfer.

In medieval times anyone who upset the Gods needed to do something to avert the Evil Eye. In case my having this go at DataTransfer causes Him to worsen his attacks on me I shall put this apotropaic symbol on my laptop lid.

It’s a Gorgoneion – the Head of Medusa - used to ward off evil. You are welcome to use it and see if it works but I’m not offering any money-back guarantees…

(Written on Thursday 19th January 2012 but if it doesn’t appear on my Blog until 2013 you’ll know I really have upset Him.)

Sunday 15 January 2012

What I read in 2011

If you want to know what I read in 2011 and which books received the Scriptor Senex Awards please visit my Book Blog. I'd love to know what the best book you read in 2011 was.

Saturday 14 January 2012

What I’m reading

Normally I would post this on my Book Blog but I thought it might be of general interest as well so I put it here.

I’m never just reading one book at a time.  I usually have half a dozen on the go – partly so that there is a different one for each mood and partly because each time I get a new book I can’t resist dipping into it.  At the moment I have a lot more than half a dozen - I blame the Kindle for that!  Here is what I am exploring at the moment.

Firstly there are some on the Kindle:-
The Bed-Book of Happiness, Being a Colligation or Assemblage of Cheerful Writings brought together from many quarters into this one compass for the diversion, distraction, and delight of those who lie abed, - a friend to the invalid, a companion to the sleepless, an excuse to the tired, by Harold Begbie, 1914.
“It is worth,” said Dr Johnson, “ a thousand pounds a year to have the habit of looking on the bright side of things.” And Harold Begbie explores English literature to provide diverting little stories and extracts.  It’s a real ‘dip-into’ book and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
Death by Darjeeling (A Tea Mystery) by Laura Childs I always have to have at least one cosy crime on the go!
The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth.  I came across this when I heard an extract on Radio 4.  It’s a hilarious look at etymology of a wide variety of words.  An essential read for anyone who loves the English language.
Blandings Castle and Elsewhere by P G Wodehouse. My easy-reading when I can’t get to sleep and need something that doesn’t need any great thought to enjoy.  The usual Wodehouse humour.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.  I am only just starting this.  I recently read ‘The Moonstone’ and ‘No Name’.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  Another that I’m only just beginning.

‘Real’ Books (i.e., paperbacks and hardbacks)
Eldest by, Christopher Paolini.  I’m thoroughly enjoying this fantasy novel – the follow up to Eragon in The Inheritance Cycle which I’ve just finished..
The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain.  I started this months ago and lost interest but I’m sure I’ll get around to finishing it one day.  What I read I did enjoy so I’m not sure why I put it down.  It’s a sort of 19th century version of a Bill Bryson travel book.  Very funny but, needless to say, not politically correct by modern day standards.
Fifth Chinese Daughter by Jade Snow Wong.  Another one that I started but put down and my bookmark is stuck in page 154.  It’s a great story of a Chinese girl being brought up in a Chinese household in the USA and her attempts to reconcile the two very different cultures.
The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon.  Written a thousand years ago by a lady at the Japanese court it’s a fun book to dip into on sleepless nights.
The Victorians by Jeremy Paxman.  Britain through the paintings of the age. 
Green men and White Swans by Jacqueline Simpson.  The folklore of British Pub names.
Engleby by Sebastian Faulks.  I had just started this when Eragon came along so it got put to one side.

The Oxford Concise Companion to English Literature by Margaret Drabble and Jenny StringerSee my blog entry from Wednesday.

Victorian London Street Life in Historic Photos by John Thomson, 1877.  Thid better than most similar books as it delves quite deeply into the background of each of the photos, describing London street life as it was in the 1870s. 

Lost for Words by John Humphreys.  A look at the English language and how it has been mangled in recent times.  I picked up this book by the famous BBC presenter in a charity shop the other day.  A real gem.
Do you read a load of books at the same time?  And what are you reading now (yes, Monica, listening to audio-books counts!).

Friday 13 January 2012

A few funnies for your Friday –

Firstly, thanks to Canadian Chickadee for a quote of the day and the ultimate computing question:-

Quote for the day: "I don't believe in astrology. I'm a Sagittarius. We're sceptical."-- Arthur C. Clarke

If I'm supposed to back up my discs, how do I put my computer in reverse???

Then there’s one of the best lines from an episode of ‘Bargain Hunt’. At the beginning of the programme Tim Wonnacott asks the members of each couple what they collect. On this episode the woman mentioned what she collected and when the husband was asked he responded “The receipts from what she collects!” Oh, how I can identify with that!

Whenever I think of the past, it brings back so many memories.

I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.

A child can go only so far in life without potty training. It is not mere coincidence that six of the last seven Prime Ministers were potty trained….

After a year in therapy, my psychiatrist said to me, 'Maybe life isn't for everyone.' -- Larry Brown

I don't have an attitude problem. You have a perception problem.

My wife said I never listen to her. At least I think that's what she said.

I don't do drugs anymore 'cause I find I get the same effect just by standing up really fast. 

I intend to live forever -- so far, so good.

And some questions with no sensible answer:-

Why is it called lipstick if you can still move your lips?

Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?

How many weeks are there in a light year?

If Barbie's so popular, why do you have to buy all her friends?

If space is a vacuum, who changes the bags?

If swimming is good for your shape, then why do the whales look the way they do?

If tin whistles are made out of tin, what do they make fog horns out of?

If white wine goes with fish, do white grapes go with sushi?

and a really corny one for my librarian friends -
Did Noah keep his bees in archives?

Thursday 12 January 2012

A Haiku for the inhabitants of Frog End

Here's a Haiku for Daughter-who-takes-photos (author of Rambles from Frog End which is the name of their home) and Son-in-law-and-friend-who-loves-otters which I found on Ruby's blog:-

Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

The old pond;
a frog jumps in —
the sound of the water.

This Haiku was written by Matsuo Bashô (1644-1694) and this page has 31 translations of it. It is probably the most famous poem in Japan, and after three hundred and more years of repetition, it has, understandably, become a little stale for Japanese people. But the scope for some brilliant translations continues here in English. Many more versions can be found in Hiroaki Sato’s One Hundred Frogs (Weatherhill, 1995), which includes over 100 translations plus a number of adaptations and parodies.

My favourites are:-

The ancient pond
A frog leaps in
The sound of the water.

The old pond,
A frog jumps in:

Old pond
leap — splash
a frog.

old pond
a frog in-leaping


Wednesday 11 January 2012

A lengthy ramble through my life...

So what is happening in the Scriptor household at the moment?

Partner-sho-loves-tea has been consuming large quantites of the stuff as she has worked every day of the Christmas 'break' - marking essays, creating student handbooks, seeing clients, etc. The only time she hasn't been working is when she's been cooking. She and Son-who-watches-films cooked the Christmas dinner and an excellent job they made of it. And now the students and clients are back at the Centre and life is back to normal for her.

My health has gradually improved over the Christmas period and I feel quite reasonable at the moment.

Needless to say I've been catching up on my reading and am thoroughly enjoying four volume Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini which I can recomment to any fantasy adventure fans. I am reading that in 'real books' but the Kindle is becoming ever more popular with me. Apart from the advantage of being able to use a larger font when my eyes are bad it is so convenient to have so many books to choose from at any one time according to my mood. I've always been one to read quite a few books at the same time but with the Kindle that has increased. My favourite on the Kindle at the moment is the Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth. Anyone who loves delving into the English language will enjoy that.

The other book I'm reading is a Christmas present from Helen and Ian. It will take me about four years to complete! Perhaps I should explain the reason for that... The history of it goes back to 1970/2 when I read the Oxford Concise Dictionary of English Literature. I read all 600 pages aznd it took me nearly two years to complete because my objective was to learn its contents as I went along. I had to put fablon on the covers because I was wearing it out.

Now I'm reading the 5,000 entries in the Oxford Companion to English Literature. entries for this guide to all aspects of English Literature have been carefully selected from Margaret Drabble's renowned Oxford Companion to English Literature. It includes character entries and plot summaries, literary movements, critics, and critical theories, literary societies, periodicals, libraries, copyright, censorship, coffee houses, actors and actresses, printers, publishers, booksellers, and private presses. Author biographies are provided covering novelists, dramatists, poets, historians, philosophers, scholars, critics, editors and journalists. This edition covers topics once regarded as non-literary such as detective stories, science fiction, children's stories, and comic strips, as well as important movements and critical theories. It encompasses English and American literature and commonwealth, African, Caribbean, and Indian literature written in English.

At the same time I have gone back to the Concise Dictionary (which was published in 1939) because it has lots of classical stuff that the new Concise Companion lacks. I reckon that devoting proper attention to them will take me about four years but it should be good for training my memory and keeping Alzheimer's at bay.

The final act of loft sorting took place this week as we dropped off three boxes of books, a couple of bin bags of clothing and another box of odds and ends at one of the local charity shops. To celebrate I called in at the library and looked at the books on the sale table there - I was very restrained and only bought three.

Son-who-watches-films is in the process of clearing out his den with a view to putting down a new carpet and (if we can persuade him) re-decorating it.

Food-loving-Daughter and Son-in-law-who-cooks called in on Boxing Day and great fun was had as she assembled and coaxed a tune out of her present - a shehnai. The shehnai, shahnai, shenai or mangal vadya, is an aerophonic (wind) instrument, a double reed conical oboe, common in North India, West India and Pakistan, made out of wood, with a metal flare bell at the end. Its sound is thought to create and maintain a sense of auspiciousness and sanctity and, as a result, is widely used during marriages, processions, and in temples of West India, although it is also played in concerts. This tube-like instrument gradually broadens towards the lower end. It usually has between six and nine holes. It employs two sets of double reeds, making it a quadruple reed woodwind. So now you know!

Daughter-who-takes-photos and Son-in-law-and-friend-who-loves-otters came for a couple of days after New Year and it was good to catch up with their news though blogs and regular e-mails mean I generally know what's happening in their lives. Tomorrow I'll be blogging a Haiku for them.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

A Mallard feather

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