From the Guardian Review

Eric Ravilious Train Landscape

In Saturday’s Guardian Review section Michael Prodger wrote about Eric Ravilious who was a World War 2 war artist who didn’t survive the conflict. You can read the article here. I’ve always loved his art but all I have of his is a Wedgwood dinner plate which was designed by him. Prodger seems to think that Ravilious’s paintings of England were of a place which never really existed but the Train Landscape above brings back memories for me of sitting in a train compartment exactly like that one, going to visit an aunt in Sussex. The only difference is that the chalk figure picked out on the hillside was the Long Man of Wilmington, not a horse. You can see more work by Ravilious here.

Sarah Crompton writes about Poldark, old and new, here.

And if you’re interested in Orson Welles and particularly Citizen Kane you might be interested in reading this article by Peter Bradshaw.

Poldark and the burglar alarm

I know that some fans of the original Poldark series have decided to give the new adaptation a complete swerve, but I decided to watch it for the glimpses of Cornwall, more than anything else. It’s a 600 mile journey from Fife, so it’s not handy for me. I’ve only had one holiday in Cornwall, and it rained most of the time! But I do love it there, especially that green colour of the edges of the sea which I’ve never seen anywhere else. And I have spied that green shade in the background in quite a few scenes.

Poldark - BBC adaptation showing burglar alarm

But I must admit that I’m mainly watching the new Poldark for nit-picking purposes because I loved the first series so much I didn’t think it could be improved. So I have been sitting grumbling about the gangliness of the new Demelza who is about the same height as Ross and the foppishness of George Warleggan who was supposed to be rather rough looking as befitted his more plebeian antecedents and who was so well played by the sadly now late Ralph Bates. Ralph Bates as George Warleggan

George Warleggan and Ross Poldark were forever having fights of the fisticuffs variety and the new Warleggan looks like he couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag.

I live in hope of this series getting better but I somehow doubt it will as they have made such glaring mistakes as having a burglar alarm in full view on a building, as can be seen in the first photo above. Oh dearie me!

The Guardian Review

I’ve been so busy over the weekend and yesterday that it wasn’t until this morning that I had time to sit down and read Saturday’s Guardian review. I thought I would share a few of my favourite articles, just in case you haven’t seen them.

Perfect Wives in Ideal Homes: The Story of Women in the 1950s by Virginia Nicholson was reviewed by Tessa Hadley here.

Top turrets. Gothic or fairytale castles are everywhere in fiction. Jessamy Taylor chooses 10 favourite fortresses. You can read it here. My favourite real Castle is Stirling Castle but I’ll have to think about fictional ones.

There’s a new exhibition on at the V&A of Alexander McQueen’s designs. You can read about it here. I’d love to go to London to visit several exhibitions but the thought of actually staying in London is more than I can contemplate, oh for that beam me back to my own bed at night gadget!

And finally, Poldark by Patrick Gale which you can read here.

I managed to watch Poldark yesterday on the iplayer. I’m one who loved the original series and then adored the books and I wasn’t impressed with the new choice of actor to play the part of Ross Poldark, nor did I think that the choice of the new Demelza was up to much, for one thing she’s far too tall, just not waif-like as she should be. I’m usually a big fan of Phil Davis of (shake me up Judy fame) but for me he doesn’t cut it as Judd, he and Prudie are far too clean looking, you could just about smell the original Judd through the TV, and the Phil Davis grumbling isn’t a patch on the original. I also don’t think they’re being historically accurate as a lot of folding paper money was being waved about, but I’m sure that the story begins before paper money was introduced, Winston Graham made a point of writing about that in one of the books.

I’ll continue to watch it though, because I love Cornwall, but I’m not even sure about that, I don’t think that all of the filming was done in Cornwall, which is a shame as the buildings there are so like Scottish buildings, grey and solid stone. Buildings in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire are just not going to look right. I’ve no doubt though that there’ll be a whole new generation of fans, many of whom will name their first son Ross – just as before.

Angharad Rees and Poldark

Jack got to the Guardian before I did this morning – as usual – and when he reached the obituary page he said, Angharad Rees has died. I was/am really sad about that, I thought she was a great actress who never seemed to get the fame which she should have. It’s as the red-haired, fiery Demelza in Poldark which most of us will remember her. You can read her obituary here.

The BBC aired the Poldark series in 1975-77 and it was wildly popular. Set in Cornwall (I’d watch anything set there I think) just after the American War of Independence. Poldark was based on the books by Winston Graham, who had been a history teacher before taking to writing, he was a rattling good storyteller and as a bonus, his books are factually accurate too.

I first read the novels years ago and re-read them all not all that long ago, they were still real page-turners so if you haven’t read them you might want to try them out. I know that Evee loved the books too as she has mentioned in the past how she raced through them while she was going through a terrible time in hospital. Did you watch the TV programme too Evee? Half the female population seemed to fancy Robin Ellis (Ross) while the other half were all for George Warleggan (Ralph Bates).

Poor Angharad, she was 63 but she’ll always be Demelza to me. What’s going on up there? Yesterday it was the actor Simon Ward who popped off. Who’s the third one going to be?

Flights of Fancy

I’ve got into the habit of paying calls to favourite blogs late at night, just before I get ready for bed. You do this at your peril because it can be really bad for your sleep pattern. Sometimes an interesting post just grabs a hold of your brain and you can’t stop it from wandering around. This happened to me the other night when I read this post from Karen at Books and Chocolate.

Before I knew it I heard the clock downstairs striking twice and I don’t know when I actually did get to sleep. The upshot of that is this list of places I would like to visit, or books I would like to be in. Karen, I hope you don’t mind me ‘nicking’ the idea.

1. I would have loved to have been a woman lucky enough to escape to the small mediaeval Italian castle, San Salvatore, which features in The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.

2. Cornwall. I wanted to visit Cornwall for years after reading Rebecca as a young thing and eventually did get around to it. Many Cornish books later, it’s Winston Graham’s Poldark books which, set in Napoleonic times, I would love to be able visit. Minus the “morbid sore throat” obviously.

3. In a punt on the Isis at Oxford during the Brideshead Revisited era. It would have to be a gorgeous day for a picnic and ideally Aloysius the bear would be my companion – he doesn’t have a big appetite and he is teetotal!

4. On a Mississippi riverboat with Mark Twain as my companion and the smell of good cigars.

I found this riverboat photograph on Wikipedia and almost swallowed my tongue in surprise, (honestly) when I read that the Delta Queen was built in Dumbarton, the town I grew up in. I love the internet!

5. In Neverland telling stories to the “lost boys” and giving out lots of “thimbles”. (I’ve obviously got empty nest syndrome.) Sadly, few people read the original Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.

6. In Newfoundland around about the Quoyle’s Cove area, as featured in The Shipping News by Annie Proulx. Lots of warm clothing required.

7. An inhabitant of Tilling in the Mapp and Lucia books by E.F. Benson. I would love to contribute to the gossip.

In reality, we have a little list of places which we hope to visit one day and we are working our way through it.

1. Stratford upon Avon. To see the sights and whichever play they have on at the theatre there.

2. The City of Bath. I know that Jane Austen wasn’t keen on the place but I would love to walk in her footsteps and visit The Pump Rooms and generally soak up the Georgian atmosphere.

3. Derbyshire. For Jane Austen reasons again.

4. Norway. Ideally on a ship so we could sail up a fjord. I did this when I was 12 and remember it as being magical.

5. A certain French farmhouse in Normandy again, close to the D- Day landing beaches.

6. Cornwall again, especially the atmospheric Tintagel area which is steeped in King Arthur lore.

7. American Civil War areas. I’ve been interested in the subject for a long time and have the Ken Burns film with that great character Shelby Foote. This isn’t likely to happen as I don’t want to fly or have to go through all the security stuff. Still waiting for that “Beam me up Scottie” thingy.

I could go on for a long time, especially with the book ones, but seven seems like a good number to stop at.

I’ve just realised that I forgot to mention The Orient Express, minus a murder of course.

If anybody would like to share their ‘wish to visit lists’ with me, please leave a comment or a link to your post on the subject.