Friday, October 30, 2009

Antiques (not necessarily) for everyone

Dave's been working all the hours lately so for once he gave himself the afternoon off and we buzzed over to the National Exhibition Centre since we'd got a free ticket for the regular 'Antiques for Everyone' fair. We've been a couple of times before and always enjoy poking round the stalls, finding things that we remember our parents or grandparents having, and exclaiming at some of the many beautiful objects on display. We've never before been even remotely tempted to buy anything, though, not least because the prices have been shocking. Not so much antiques for everyone, as antiques for anyone who's rich, filthy rich or stinking.

Today, for the first time, we actually *gasp* bought something. And not just one item, but two. First we found an adorable little brooch in the shape of a lizard, that I thought might be perfect for my mother-in-law for Christmas, and then I treated myself to a vintage hat pin. Neither item was expensive to start with, and in both cases the dealers were happy to give us a small discount on the ticket price, so we feel comfortable we haven't been cheated.

Some of the prices were still ridiculous, though. I fell in love with a stunning silver (coloured) Art Nouveau mantel clock... until I read the ticket, and found it was priced at... wait for it... £12,000.


Still antiques for the mostly rich and filthy rich, methinks.

But it was fun, and we did get in free...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Those London photos...

I realised I'd completely forgotten to post any pictures from our recent trip to London, so here without further ado are a selection of the best:

One of the art installations on the famous (and usually empty) fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. As part of Anthony Gormley's One and Other project, a different person took to the plinth every hour, 24 hours a day, for several weeks:

A tranquil scene in the pouring rain at the Barbican Centre:

No, it's not the countryside, just a surprisingly pastoral scene in St James's Park early one morning:

Feeding the squirrels in St James's Park; as you can see from the next picture, some of them are VERY tame:

New reviews of 'I Do'

The charity gltb anthology 'I Do' has had a couple of very nice reviews recently. Alternative-Read have posted a good overall review of the whole collection, as well as comments on one or two of the longer stories.

And Dark Diva Reviews has a really detailed review, not just of the overall collection but of each individual story into the bargain. Including, I might add, a very nice comment about my story Salad Days.

Such a realistic portrait of a relationship after the new has worn off, but before the deep seated trust has established itself.

If you like the sound of the anthology and would like to order a copy for yourself or a loved one (Christmas is only just around the corner after all *grin*), then pop along to the dedicated page at my website for more details on how and where to buy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book review: 'Wizard's First Rule' by Terry Goodkind

This is the book (or one of 'em) that the recent tv series 'Legend of the Seeker' was based on. The series was a jolly wheeze and on the strength of enjoying the double helping each week I treated myself to the book a few weeks ago. I finally finished it last night but have very mixed feelings.

The story was great - a real page turner. I liked most of the characters, who were warm and sympthetic and less one-dimensional than many fantasy genre characters. And I really enjoyed some of the mind-stretching philosophy Goodkind wove into the story, where nothing was quite what it seemed and good wasn't always 100% better than evil. It really made you think.

But oh dear! The style! For the most part it's terribly, terribly basic, of the 'she did this, he said that' variety, and so repetitive I found myself skim-reading huge chunks. The hero, Richard, would be holding an internal argument with himself while tracking through a forest, and forty pages on he was still have the same internal argument with himself in the same forest. Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit, but not by much.

This is an example of what I mean, but it's not the only bit. There's more. Lots, lots more. Three more paragraphs of this argument alone, and another seven hundred pages in the book....

But what was wrong with taking the sword? What could it hurt to have its help? Wouldn't it be foolish to turn down any assistance? Apparently the sword could be put to any use its owner wanted, so why not use it in the way he wanted? He didn't have to become an assassin, or anything else. He could use it to help them, that was all. That was all that was needed, or wanted; no more.

The cynic in me can't help thinking that it's very easy to write a 100,000 word book if you repeat every idea/sentence eight times in slightly varying ways.

Would I read another book in the series? Unless anyone can convince me that Goodkind has changed his style and tidied up his English, probably not. Which is a shame as it's basically a great story...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Adventures in the capital city

We're just back from a few days in London, staying at a hotel near Buckingham Palace courtesty of Dave's 'frequent nights' points scheme. Had to delay our departure by a day thanks to my flu, but we still managed three days and had a great time. Highlights this time include a morning lurking in the National Gallery (filled to bursting with amazing works of art and best of all, it's free), another morning in the Museum of Docklands (absolutely fascinating, could have done with at least a day to see everything) and a guided tour of the Barbican Centre from one of my friends, who has links there. The latter was particularly interesting because you so rarely get to see the private 'face' of public spaces; behind the concert hall/library/gallery complex there are apartments, gardens, lakes, and every facility you could possibly think of. Not to mention a section of the old city walls, plonked in the middle of all that 1960s concrete.

Pictures to follow; as usual I'm having problems coaxing them off my camera - the connector software is up the spout and I'm having to improvise!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Library membership opened up

Great news for readers and booklovers in the UK: membership of public libraries has now been opened up so you can, in the words of this BBC website article, 'Borrow a book wherever you are'.

In the past, you've had to register at each local authority to use the library services within their patch. If you went on holiday to a different area, you couldn't use the lending library to take books out, unless you registered there too. For somewhere you visited often that might just about be worthwhile, but if you were only visiting for a week it hardly seemed worth the effort.

But now, as long as you have a valid library card from any local authority, you can borrow books from any other library in the country. The only (slight) downside is that you have to return the books to the place you borrowed them from. I can see why they've insisted on that (otherwise library staff would spend half their lives chasing books from one end of the country to the other) but it might get a tad expensive in postage if I borrow books on holiday and can't finish reading them by the end of the week....

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Ugh - flu

Apologies for the long silence; I've been laid low with a really nasty bout of flu for the last week. Hopefully I'm over the worst now, but the stairs to my study are still something of a challenge so I may not be around quite as much as usual.

And whoever said swine flu was 'relatively mild' wants to think again. It's only mild in relation to bubonic plague. Trust me.