I’m Back

I’m dusting off my blog because I may use it for an upcoming Read-A-Thon.

I cannot believe the last time I wrote here was in February, what a failing on my part! But where has that time gone?

I’ve been working a lot in the garden, this being the first full year I’ve had the greenhouse, so, to make up for so few entries, I’ll post some photos instead….

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So, that’s about all for now, but I’ll try not to be so long in updating next time, especially if I do have a go at the Read-A-Thon.

A Thing For Bowie And King

Back again for another long-overdue attempt at a journal entry. I really don’t mean to leave it so long between writings, but somehow it always happens. I thinks it’s because there’s not that much new to report.

Am still very much into all things David Bowie and am getting quite a collection of his albums now. I was really surprised to find out my boss is actually a massive fan. We were talking about his music, and the albums I’ve got, and he offered to loan me his copies of some of the ones I don’t have yet. Of all the things I expected, bonding with C over David Bowie was actually pretty low down the list! It makes me smile, thinking about it, because we’ve not really had that much common ground before. I’m pretty envious that he’s been to a fair few Bowie concerts (is it concerts, or gigs? I have no idea?!) over the years.
The album I’m listening to at the moment is Diamond Dogs. I love it. I read that some of the songs were intended for a musical version of 1984, but that it never happened. I think that’s a great shame, because the songs are so good, I’m sure there would have been a place for a show like that. Still, at least we get the, on this album. It’s also made me think I really should get around to reading 1984, because I’ve had it sitting on my shelves for years and yet I never seem to get around to it.

I read two really good books. The first was Police by Jo Nesbo. The latest in the Harry Hole series picks up after Phantom, which was a bit confusing because over here the first book in the series, The Bat, was released in between Phantom and Police, so it’s been a very long time since I read Phantom and I couldn’t recall it all that well.
That didn’t take away from my enjoyment of Police though and I was soon totally engrossed in it. Police are being murdered at the scenes of old unsolved crimes, and Harry Hole has to take on the role of investigator again to help catch the killer before any more murders are committed. It’s fast paced, and keeps you guessing until almost the very end.

The second book I really enjoyed was Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. I recently read The Shining, in preparation for this sequel, and was glad that I did. I think you could probably read Doctor Sleep without having read The Shining first, but I do think you get a better understanding of Dan and how he’s been affected by his childhood, which also gives the ending a little more impact. I won’t say more because I don’t want to give anything away. It’s a good read.

Am still on a Stephen King season, having now started reading The Dark tower. I read the first book, The gunslinger, about a year ago. I don’t know why I didn’t carry on with the series then, I suppose I got sidetracked with something else, but anyway, I decided to reread the Gunslinger before moving on. I’m now reading The Drawing Of The Three. I’m really enjoying reading how Roland and Eddie first meet, and Odetta/Detta is an interesting character too.

I’ve packed up most of my garden things now, for the winter. I’m looking forward to getting started with my next lot of seed planting, because now I have the greenhouse and everything is there ready and waiting, I’ll have much more time in which to grow my plants. I was very late starting this year, having to get the garden sorted out before I could get my greenhouse. Still, what I did grow turned out okay and gave me some confidence about what I’m doing.

Aside

I’m back for a bit more writing, as it seems a while since I last wrote anything.

I’ve been out in the garden again, mostly just digging out the plants which are dying off and tidying up for the end of the season. It seems to have flown by, but that’s because I was late in getting my greenhouse and getting started. Next time I will start planting my seeds nice and early, give them longer to get established.
I’ve also taken down some of my solar lights, because the days are getting shorter now, and the weather is worse, so they’re not really charging up enough anymore. If they come on at all it’s only very briefly.

I was talking to a lady I work with, and apparently her dad used to grow cacti. She said they were quite easy to grow, and I’ve seen some seeds, so I might get a pack and have a go at those too next time.
She also said her dad grew bonsai trees, and had quite a collection of them, which I was interested in as dad has decided he’d like a bonsai tree. I wanted to know if they were easy to care for, which she assures me they are, so it looks like that might be the next addition to the plant collection.

I had a good trip to the library at the weekend, and got the new Dexter novel, which I’m reading now, Dexter’s Final Cut. It’s good so far. I also got the new Jo Nesbo, Police, which I’ll read next. I requested Doctor Sleep by Stephen King as well, but that one hadn’t arrived, which is probably a good thing because all these books have other requests on them, so I won’t be able to renew them, and there is no way I could get through three books in three weeks, not at the pace I’m reading at the moment.

I got another couple of David Bowie albums too – The Platinum Collection and Hunky Dory. It’s funny, some of the songs on Platinum Collection I’m finding myself thinking ‘I had no idea he sung that’. The song I’ve got on repeat at the moment is Absolute Beginners. I love it.

I’ve started watching Hannibal. It’s really good, but I’m trying not to look up anything about it on the internet because the series has already finished to no doubt there will be spoilers all over the place, and I always manage to spoil myself. Am also trying to avoid spoilers for the last series of Dexter, which I’m waiting for on dvd.

And that’s about it, I think, for now!

I Have Too Much To Talk About!

I think the days for sitting out in the garden are going to be few and far between now as Autumn is due, so I’m taking advantage of this lovely afternoon to sit out and write this. It’s becoming my outdoor blog but I’ll keep updating even when the good weather is gone.

Not much to report on the garden front at the moment. Well, quite a lot is in bloom, and the corner garden looks nice and colourful, so that’s good.

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To balance the good, my Black Eyed Susan appears to be dying off. I don’t know if I’ve done something wrong or if its an annual plant which has reached the end if the season. The label didn’t say. It’s a shame as its been a really nice plant.
Also, the tomatoes are not ripening at all. There are plenty of them, but they’re all green. A friend has suggested putting something red into the greenhouse with them, but I have a feeling this will turn out to be an old wives tale. We shall see…

I watched Cloud Atlas the other night. At almost 3 hours I thought it had better be good, to hold my attention.
Within minutes of starting it I thought to myself “this will be going off soon, I don’t think I can stick it much longer”. It was really confusing, jumping from one story to another as each plot was established, and for a time I didn’t have a clue what was going on.
I stuck with it a little longer, and at some point I became hooked. I was totally engrossed in it. What a brilliant film! And the soundtrack is lovely too.
I loved it so much I’ve now dug out my copy of the book, which for some reason I never got around to reading before now, and I’m going to start it. Once I’ve read the book I think I’ll watch the film again, because its so complicated that it would probably benefit from a second viewing. Also, when the credits went up and it showed which roles each actor had played, I couldn’t believe some of them I’d missed.

I wrote the above a while ago and just rewatched the film. By the end I was in tears! I can’t recall it being so sad the first time around! I definitely got more from seeing it again; even though I knew what was going to happen it obviously still had a massive impression.

I also watched Labyrinth last week, starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly. I’m sure I must have seen the film years ago, during my childhood, because I could remember some of it. I don’t think I ever had such a love for it as I did for The Neverending Story, The Goonies or The Addams Family – those were the childhood films I watched repeatedly.
This time round though – loved it. I love the story, and how charismatic was David Bowie as Jareth?!? I loved the ballroom scene – he had on 10 times more makeup than I would wear myself and yet looked so handsome. The music is brilliant too, from the instrumentals to the songs Bowie wrote and sang. I can’t think of many songs quite as romantic as As The World Falls Down, and Magic Dance is a real feel-good song.
Jareth and Sarah remind me Christine and the Phantom, from Phantom Of The Opera, which is another of my great loves (the stage version, not so much the film), so I suppose it was always going to appeal to me. I’ve even been reading fan fiction based in the film, which usually means I feel like writing something myself. Maybe…

I have so much more to write about, but this is starting to get a bit too long, so I think I’ll save it for another time, hopefully another warm afternoon spent in the garden!

Peace And Quiet… Sometimes

Outside in the garden once more.
I love this newfound hobby of mine.
Working outside with the seeds/plants is not only great in itself, it provides some lovely quiet time, although that’s not been the case so much recently as the woman who lives next door has taken to bellowing at the husband/dog/kids at full pelt at least once every day, and it always seems to happen when I’m out and about. She’s so loud you can’t help but hear, and it always seems to be about nothing at all. I wonder if she realises a good portion of the street can hear her carrying on all the time.

Anyway, back to the garden…
I’ve potted on my pansies. I’m really hopeful that they’ll grow well, because they’re the only thing I actually went out and bought.
Everything I’ve grown from seed is from packs I’ve been given, or found at work (we have gardening magazines which sometimes come with free seed packs). I thought I’d try them all because I didn’t really know what I was doing so, because they were all freebies, it wouldn’t matter if it all turned out badly, but the pansies, they’re different. I chose them specially, and want to make a good attempt with them.

The tomato plants are coming along nicely now. A friend came over and I think he despaired that I’d let the plants become unruly. He cut them back for me and now they’re doing much better. We will have a crop of tomatoes yet!! The cucumbers are also doing really well. I hope all this stuff tastes good when it finally comes round to eating them.

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My cornflowers, well, what to say? They’ve grown, there’s no denying it; they’re almost taking over my little rockery, big spindly things which are all foliage and very few flowers at present. If they don’t start flowering soon I’ll pull them out and put something new in there instead. They’re overshadowing everything else at the moment.

It’s All In The Past

Another glorious garden afternoon. We’re having an uncharacteristic heatwave at the moment, so it’s nice to sit out.
It’s been so hot though that I’ve invested in some moveable shelving that I can stand outside the greenhouse, because my poor seedlings have been suffering in this heat. Still, I shouldn’t complain; it’ll be pouring with rain soon enough, no doubt.

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I’ve also had to extend my trellis for the black eyed Susan, as to growing wild, getting too tall for what I put in originally. It’s going to be huge!! I sort of hope it doesn’t grow all the way to the top of this new layer because I don’t fancy climbing up there to train the vines!

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I’ve been trying to read, but can’t seem to settle to it today, so I thought I’d write something instead.

I’ve been trying to find out about my family history.
It’s an interesting pursuit, but also incredibly frustrating at times.
When you’re close enough to the present that relatives can remember and verify your findings it’s smooth enough, but the further back you get, the more confusing it can become, and in some cases I’m totally lost as I have no idea some of the people I’ve found even existed, never mind who they married and when.
I’ve found out quite a lot. I’m over 100 years back on part of the family tree, and have found so many names and dates that almost feel as if I know these people. I ask my nan, and then seem amazed when she can’t tell me anything, before I recall that it’s all way before her time!
I’ve hit a stumbling block now. I found a marriage for one of my great-great aunts, and I found her family on the census, living with her husband’s sister, but after that they vanish.
A man with his name, born in the right place, and with a daughter the right name and age appears on a later census, but his age doesn’t quite match, and they’re in a place many many miles away from where they started. Also, his wife isn’t my great-great aunt.
I did wonder if she’d died. This search revealed a death of someone of the correct name, but the age was out by two years. I don’t know if I’m totally wrong in what I’m finding or if discrepancies like that do occur. With a death I wouldn’t have thought it likely, as deaths are registered pretty quickly.
I don’t really know where to go from there. I have a friend who is into this kind of thing, so I might ask his advice.

A Sunny Afternoon

Seems like ages since my last update.

I finished a really good book, The Passage by Justin Cronin. It’s been compared to The Stand by Stephen King. Much as I do love Stephen King, I’d say The Passage is the better of the two books. For me, The Stand got to a point where it petered out. The Captain Trips outbreak was more scary than anything that came afterwards, and made up the better part of the book. I did enjoy it, but sometimes it seemed overly long.
The Passage retained my interest throughout, and left me anxious to get on with the sequel, The Twelve, as soon as I can. It’s a book of two halves, literally. The first sees the creation of the Twelve, criminals given a virus which is supposed to make them super-human soldiers. It doesn’t go as hoped and they become ‘virals’; vampire-like creatures who escape containment and wreak havoc. Part one ends with carnage as the virals escape into the world.
Part two takes place years after these events, when life as we know it is no more, and a small colony of humans try to survive, not knowing whether they are the only ones left. There are some really good characters in this section of the book, and I can’t wait to see how their stories develop in the next book.

Now I’m reading book 2 in The Wheel Of Time series, The Great Hunt. After that I’m wondering whether for something totally different I should try either Fifty Shades Of Grey or Bared To You. I’ve heard mixed comments about Fifty; one friend hated it and didn’t even bother to finish it, another enjoyed it but wouldn’t read the rest, and my auntie was so engrossed with it she burned the dinner because she couldn’t tear herself away from it!! I’ve never heard any comments about Bared To You.
After that its back to some Stephen King. I’m going to read The Shining because there’s a sequel out quite soon, and I also want to read Under The Dome as it’s been made into a tv series.

The garden project is complete now. My little rockery area was transformed from that messy nothingness into this…

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I’ve added some of the plants I’ve grown from seed there as well. I’m loving watching them grow, because when I started out I had no idea what I was doing and was doubtful I’d have any success.
I’ve transplanted my pansies into small trays as well. When they’re bigger I’m going to put them into tubs to add a bit of colour to the garden. I was looking at the seed packet and was surprised to see they’re hardy perennials. I always thought pansies were annuals.

The weather is glorious at the moment, so it’s nice being able to sit out relaxing and appreciating the garden, although there are still plenty of jobs to do.
My cat has taken to relaxing in the greenhouse during the day. He’s mad; it gets up to 35 degrees in there at times. It doesn’t seem to bother him though. I get him out and as soon as his paws hit the floor he just goes straight back in there and curls up again.

I think that’s about all for now. Am going to enjoy this sunshine while it lasts.

Broadcasting Live From My Back Garden

There’s life in the seed trays!! Some of them at least are starting to germinate. I really hope the others do too. I’ve added some catnip seeds, which I think will drive my cat wild judging on his reaction to just being near the seeds, and some pansies, because I’ve always liked them.

Here’s what I bought for the patio area

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And

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Tomorrow I’m getting some mini fencing, and I’ve put my solar lights in as well, which look really nice.

Whilst dealing with all this outdoors work I’ve started a new project. We had trees in a small corner garden, but the harsh winter killed them off, so I’ve been chopping away at them, and am finally getting to the end, which is a good job because its exhausting work. I’ve decided to turn this patch into a rockery. It’s still very much in the early stages, but hopefully I can get on with it while the weather is nice. Think I’ll get some more figures and solar lights for this patch as well. Like I said, it’s very much early stages. In fact, this is what it currently looks like…

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BIG mess!!

The Greenhouse Project Reaches Completion

THE GREENHOUSE IS COMPLETE!!!

What a project it turned out to be! Putting the glass in turned into a major event, not least when overnight, for no apparent reason at all, a panel cracked. We had a couple of spares, but, wouldn’t you know it, we cracked those too, trying to get them in place. The upside of all this; we now know where to buy replacement panes for a reasonable price.
We ran out of fixing clips as well, so couldn’t complete the glazing until they sent another pack out. In the end though it was all complete, and all that’s left to do is the planting…

…which I have started. Am eagerly watching for any signs of life from my seed trays. I don’t know whether I’ll have any success because it’s a little late to be starting, but all the seeds I’ve used have been freebies anyway, so it doesn’t matter too much. It’s all going to be a bit experimental at this stage, as all this is totally new to me.

I bought my figures for the patio – a dragon, a gnome and a hedgehog. I’ve also bought some solar lights and I want a little fence for the edge of the slabs. The man is coming to do the paving tomorrow, so it really is almost finished now, just in time for summer.
I’ll post some photos once everything is done.

I bought a new cross stitch kit. I really don’t need any more, I probably already have more than I’ll ever have time to do, but I couldn’t resist…

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I’m going to try and resist starting this one until my latest work is finished, because I have so many projects that I start but never get round to finishing.

The Ongoing Saga

The Greenhouse Project is an ongoing saga, mainly because we’re racing against the weather to try and get it done. Just when you think we’re in for a nice spring-like day, I wake up to thick fog and pouring rain, and so the delay goes on.

When we do actually get a few good hours in, it’s coming along quite well. I am one for not reading instructions properly, I just go racing ahead, and that’s been to my cost during this project, because a couple of times we’ve had to go back and rectify mistakes. It’s all part of the fun though!!

The framework is complete anyway, so if the good weather ever returns the next thing is to fix the base down then start putting the glass in.
I can’t wait for it to be finished so I can start growing my own plants.
I know I’m probably a bit late this time really, but I’m still going to try.

I want some figures for the patio area outside the greenhouse, so now my wish list is becoming full of gnomes and dragons (!!!!). I can’t decide which to buy. Gnomes and dragons, whoever would have thought it?

I finally watched the Les Miserables movie. I never got to see it at the cinema, but I’ve seen the stage show quite a few times, both on tour and in London, so I thought the movie would have a lot to live up to….

And it REALLY did. I loved it. Now’s the time to mention there’ll probably be spoilers from this point on, just in case anyone hasn’t seen the film yet.
I’d read some pretty scathing criticisms about some of the singing, but I didn’t think anyone stood out as really bad, I actually thought it was pretty well cast, and the way certain songs are rearranged seems to have greater impact, such as Fantine’s I Dreamed A Dream being after she’s resorted to selling her hair, her teeth and becoming a prostitute. It was so sad.
I also loved the scene Do You Hear The People Sing, because on the stage they go from Red and Black straight into the next song, and it’s not clear that anything has changed, whereas in the film they go out into the funeral procession and all the trouble starts from there.
One of my favourite and saddest moments of the show is after the battle, when everyone is dead, the barricade turns to reveal Enjolras and Gavroche, lying dead, as the instrumental plays. That was gone from the film, instead Javert returns, finds Gavroche dead and removes a medal from his own jacket to pin on the dead boy’s top. That made me cry.
Another surprise – I thought Eddie Redmayne was great as Marius. He made the character far more likeable, and even heroic. I’ve never liked his love story with Cosette on stage, it seemed too soppy, but in the film you get it, the fact that he’s traumatised by seeing his friends massacred, and overcome with guilt that he survived. It’s Cosette’s simplicity and sweetness which seems to help him through his turmoil.
By the end I was sobbing away, having enjoyed every moment of the film.

I downloaded the soundtrack as well, because the orchestration is gorgeous. It’s strange, to hear something you’re so familiar with sounding so new.

So, now I’ve seen the movie and the show, it’s made me wonder whether I should read the book?

Onto reading, The Passage is on hold because the library sent my copy of Inferno by Dan Brown and I know there’ll be a massive request list for it so I’d better get on with it. I haven’t read that much yet, but what I have read I’ve enjoyed. I did get to a certain point and just thought… OH…MY…GOD!!!! Not going to say any more, because I can’t without giving away big spoilers.

Am still waiting for The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan. The library have ordered a new copy so I keep checking to see whether it’s available yet. I have more than enough to keep me going though. I also reserved The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. I’ve never read any of her books before, so not sure what to expect, but the write up of this book sounded like something that might interest me, so I’ll give it a go.