30 November 2011 23:53
This is what the sea at St Andrews looked like when we were there on Saturday, I took this photo around about 3.30 and an hour later it was completely dark. That’s what I hate about winter. I’m so looking forward to the winter solstice! Considering it was such a wild day the sea looked amazingly calm as it rolled in.
This is what is left of St Andrews Cathedral. It’s quite difficult to take digital photos in a gale as you and the camera tend to get blown about. The cathedral stands above the sea and has been battered by the wind for about 1000 years. After the reformation it fell into disuse so the locals would have taken as much of the stone as they could for building purposes as usual. Well, you can’t blame them for recycling.
And this is St Andrews Castle, I have to admit that I took this one earlier in the year when the sky was blue. There are some great photos of the castle here, if you’re interested in seeing some more of it.
In no time at all it was a dark and stormy night – but that’s for another blogpost!
29 November 2011 23:32
We had intended going to Edinburgh on Saturday to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia but the weather has been terrible for about a week now with howling gales and I didn’t fancy going over the road bridge. It was closed to high sided vehicles which means that our wee car would be buffeted about on the bridge – scary!
So eventually we ended up in St Andrews, just to get out of the house really. I have a horrible feeling that we’ll be battening down the hatches soon when the ice and snow get here so we might as well go out while we still can.
This window sign amused me. Surely only in Scotland would a barber try to get your custom by offering you free whisky. Mind you, I think it’s a brilliant idea because not only will they probably get more customers – they’ll also be less likely to complain if they don’t like the haircut – because of course they’ll be ‘half-cut’ or semi drunk!
The long things in the window are golf clubs – well it is St Andrews!
28 November 2011 13:33
Manna From Hades is the first book by Carola Dunn which I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. Although it was first published in 2009, the book is set in Cornwall of the late 1960s or 70s, as the author spent a lot of her time there when she was growing up. She has definitely captured that atmosphere.
Eleanor Trewynn has spent a lot of her life living abroad as she and her husband spent their working lives helping those less fortunate in far flung countries. Now that she is retired and she is a widow she is living in a small Cornish village, having just had enough money to buy a small house, the ground floor of which she has turned into a charity shop, while upstairs she has her home.
Whilst gathering donations for the shop Eleanor discovers a small case full of jewellery amongst the clothing but has no idea who donated it, and so begins a mystery! I’m not going to say any more about the storyline as I don’t want to spoil it for people!
This is an entertaining sort of easy reading book which harks back to the time when female detectives were a rare thing and women weren’t allowed to wear trousers to work. Something which I’m sure people can hardly believe nowadays but until the equality of the sexes laws came about in the mid 1970s that is what life was like for women.
It says on the front cover A Cornish Mystery and that was one of the reasons I chose this book because if a book is set in Cornwall then it’s a plus for me. I just realised recently that the Malory Towers series by Enid Blyton is set in Cornwall and I loved those books so they probably kick started my love for Cornwall, long before I ever managed to visit the place – and I wasn’t disappointed when I eventually got there.
Anyway, I’m keen to read more of Carola Dunn’s books, even if they don’t have a Cornish setting. Although Dunn was born and raised in England she now lives in the US – Oregon I believe.
My thanks to Jo at The Book Jotter who encouraged me to start reading Dunn’s books, although Jo hasn’t read this one yet.
25 November 2011 23:42
I bought this wee paperback book from a local second-hand bookshop which has sadly closed down now – such is the way of the world. I used to love browsing in it and almost always found at least one treasure to take home.
Anton Chekov had quite a short life, being only 44 when he died and he had no idea that people would still be reading his work over 100 years after his death. He thought his work would be read for only seven years after his death, how wrong he was! Obviously he’s better known for his plays but this book of his early short stories is well worth reading. It’s sad to think that he was already ill with the tuberculosis which eventually killed him when he was writing them.
The stories are:
At Sea – A Sailor’s Story
Ninochka – A Love Story
A Cure for Drinking
The Jailer Jailed
The Dance Pianist
Marriage in Ten or Fifteen Years
The House with the Mansard
Some of the stories are very short indeed, just four pages or so whilst the one called Three Years is very long, I would call it a novella really as it’s ninety pages long.
Anton Chekov wrote about the lives of the peasants of Russia, the grim reality, which didn’t always go down well with those in authority but I’m glad that he gave us this peek into the lives of ordinary Russians, although it can be a bit grim, but life was grim for all ordinary people in the 1880s which is when these stories were written.
Once again, I have to say that it’s thanks to The Classics Circuit that I read this book. Until its Russian literature tour I had only read modern Russian literature, and not much of that either.
25 November 2011 00:15
One of the places which I definitely wanted to visit on our recent road trip south was Stamford. For some reason I thought that it was where the BBC filmed Cranford but I was wrong, it was Middlemarch which was filmed in Stamford. It’s about 100 miles north of London but somehow seems much further away.
It’s a lovely place actually, not very big shop-wise but it has a lot of independent shops and it’s all very quaint. I wanted to take a photo of these buildings near the town centre because the wee white one in the middle was leaning every way it possibly could – backwards, forwards and from side to side – all at the same time!
There were some quite grand looking buildings in the town but somehow I’m always drawn to the wee quaint ones which ordinary people will have lived in for centuries. We tried to get into this antiques shop, the lights were on, but nobody was at home!
I don’t think a town is a proper town unless it has a river running through it and this one is very scenic.
Swans and all! Although I have to admit that this is as close as I like to get to swans. They might look very elegant but in my experience the males are very bad tempered. There’s a particularly nasty one at Linlithgow Loch which just lives to hiss at you.
During all our visits down south we had no problems with parking, we usually managed to park legally and for free and very close to the town centres. At Stamford we were about a three minute walk from the town. It’s such a change for us because all of the towns in Scotland have seem to have pay and display car parks or parking meters. The local councils just don’t understand that it really puts people off visiting their towns if they have to worry about the expense of parking tickets and feeding meters then it doesn’t make for an enjoyable experience. No wonder our high streets are dying on their feet!
23 November 2011 12:14
I don’t know about you, but I often miss TV programmes which I would definitely have watched, if only I had looked at the TV schedules. So at 10.30 last night I realised that I had missed a BBC documentary about John Steinbeck and luckily I had time to watch it on the iPlayer this morning because if I don’t view it quickly then I won’t get around to it at all. Voice of America with Melvyn Bragg will be fascinating to anyone interested in John Steinbeck’s work or American history.
I looked it up on You Tube TV and according to that, there are ways of watching it if you can’t view it through the iPlayer. It’s well worth giving it a go anyway!
22 November 2011 23:11
When one of our friends in Cambridge suggested that we should visit Ely we thought we might as well do it. I hadn’t realised that we were so close to Ely, for some reason I seem to recall that the place was regarded as the back end of beyond when I lived in the south of England. I really don’t know why because it’s close to Cambridge, I was going to say and civilisation, but really it’s fairly civilised itself!
Driving into the town we saw signs to Oliver Cromwell‘s house. I don’t know if I ever knew that he had lived in Ely – if so I obviously blocked it out as it was a surprise to me. He lived there for ten years. Cromwell is on my mental list of despicable characters from history so I didn’t bother to actually go into his home which is a very short walk from the town.
I think that this wee house is much nicer though and it’s very close to Cromwell’s. I think the windows are nicer and I’m fairly sure that it can’t have been lived in by anyone as horrible as Cromwell so it’ll have a better atmosphere! It strikes me that it would be really easy to transform all of these old houses into cross stitches. I might do something like that in the future.
The cathedral is undergoing building work at the moment, which ancient building isn’t, I ask myself?
All in all I really liked Ely, it doesn’t feel as well off and salubrious as Saffron Walden but it’s a friendly place with nice buildings and shops and a wee bit of a market.
18 November 2011 23:59
In case you don’t know who Grant Stott is – he’s a DJ on the local radio station, Radio Forth which is based in Edinburgh. I found him singing his version of Sinatra’s That’s Life on You Tube. I think it’s quite funny and you can get a wee glimpse of some places in, and people from Fife too.