Monday, December 31, 2012


Belated Happy Christmas!  This is a little LED colour-changing Christmas tree from a Secret Santa swap which made me inordinately pleased this Christmas, attached to the top of my monitor at work - its plugging into the USB port was particularly fine.


Not sure if I'm staying up until midnight or not tonight as I've had a stomach bug the last couple of days which has wiped me out somewhat.  I was going to round up the knitting projects for 2012 this evening, but a couple haven't yet been handed over, so they'll get done before Twelfth Night...

I make the same perpetual resolutions re: procrastination, stash reduction, weight loss, physical activity and productivity all the time - it doesn't need a new year for that.  And it still feels a little too much like the old year until around Candlemas when the light begins to return in earnest - a new diary doesn't really make a New Year round here; BST is more likely to help with that.

But I have decided to Have more fun in 2013.  And have formulated a couple of modest and, I hope, entirely do-able proposals to try and achieve that.

  • Watch more films.  I have seen a pathetically small number of feature films or series over the last couple of years - my LoveFilm subscription is ridiculously under-used, and I have loads of DVDs I've bought or been given which haven't been watched yet.  I do enjoy watching films, too.  So I'm aiming for one full-length feature or the equivalent number of series episodes a week.  This will involve being more organised about food, too, on my "cinema evening", which is always good.
  • Go to more stuff.  I've been to a couple of plays and a few exhibitions this year, but not as many as I would have with some sort of museum/theatre buddy - anyone based in London who might be up for a late evening at the National Gallery/NPG, a trip to the South Bank or similar?  Let me know (liz at lizmarley dot co dot uk).  Likewise anyone in Cambridge who'd like to go to more at the ADC or the Corpus Playroom, both of which have some great stuff going on.
  • Knit with more people.  Particularly in the winter, but for the whole of this year which has been more stressful than usual at work, I've a tendency to become somewhat hermit-like, and that's also meant I've missed important things happening in friends' lives.  I've been along to all the Cambridge meetings I can get to (there's one fewer of those a month), but I've chickened out at the last minute from too many London-based meetings I know I'd enjoy once I got there.  To assist with this, I've also signed up for SkipNorth (yay!!) for the first time in 5 years.
And slightly more difficult, but I need to do it:
  •   Reclaim the garden (again). This may not seem like "have more fun", but I know that the garden oppresses me when it's horrible and gives me joy when it's lovely or even just going in the right direction, so I just need to buckle down to it and spend some time in there every weekend, even if it's only a few minutes.
So - what would you like to do more of in 2013?  Let me know....

2012 books, #106-109

The neon rain, by James Lee Burke. London: Phoenix, 2005.  Originally published 1989.

The first of the Dave Robicheaux novels; going back to start the series from the beginning as there are a lot of these.  After two years sober, Dave has a serious falling off the wagon, including assaulting a fellow officer (who quite frankly deserved it), and is suspended from the police.  He's still fascinated with the murder of a young black girl found in the Louisiana swamps though, and is determined to carry on the investigation despite death threats.  This is immensely readable and quite moving at times.

Not dead yet, by Peter James. London: Macmillan, 2012.

Roy Grace is anticipating the birth of his child when a body is found, badly decomposed, at a local chicken farm.  Meanwhile a global superstar is coming to Brighton to play the part of Maria Fitzherbert in a new biopic of George III.  As the seemingly disparate cases seem determined to come together, Grace and temporarily-promoted Glenn Branson investigate.  Meanwhile, someone is threatening Grace's partner Cleo. This rattles along, but I always have difficulty with books containing celebrities because building up the back-story is always a bit clumsy; and I don't like the way James is taking the long-running personal side-plot in this one.

Claws, by Stephen Booth. Kindle edition.

This is a short story featuring Dale Cooper and a tale of egg-stealing and the illegal poaching of birds of prey.  A lovely crunchy little snippet of a story I really enjoyed on the train up to the North East for Christmas and well worth the 99p.

Harry Potter and the order of the phoenix, by J K Rowling [audiobook]. Read by Stephen Fry. Bristol: Cover to Cover, 2003.

Somehow, even though it's not exactly a happy book, this was the right thing to be listening to at Christmas, maybe because Stephen Fry's reading is so very warm.  The length of time it takes to get to Hogwarts in the first place is still irritating, as are Harry's tantrums at the beginning, but as ever I spot different things each time I listen to one of these readings...

That's the end of this year's book round-up - except to say that the Evening Standard totally agreed with me on the unsuitability of Tom Cruise to play Jack Reacher, for exactly the same reasons...  I shall now, finally, shut up on the subject.

Happy reading in 2013, all.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2012 books, #101-105

Harry Potter and the goblet of fire, by J K Rowling [audiobook]. Read by Stephen Fry.  Bath: Cover to Cover, 2001.

Another very enjoyable listen, although for the first time the ending slightly irked me.  I hadn't really clocked before that the real drama finishes about two hours before the end of this audiobook, and after that it's politics and a lot of scene-setting for book 5.  This makes it a bit flat just at the end...  But as ever there are some wonderful ideas in this book, and it was well worth listening to again, particularly as Stephen Fry is the perfect voice both for the book and for a chilly autumn weekend.

Kisscut, by Karin Slaughter [audiobook]. Read by Kelly Culpin. [S.l.] : Chivers, 2003.

Disturbing from start to finish.  A teenage girl is shot dead in the parking lot of a local skating rink, and is carrying a rucksack which turns out to contain parts of a dismembered baby.  What might have been a single personal tragedy turns into a much wider horror in a small town.  Sara Linton, the local paediatrician, and her ex-husband Geoff Tolliver, the chief of police, investigate.  This really does cover some quite horrible issues, and it's done very well.

The secret scripture, by Sebastian Barry. London: Faber, 2009.

Roseanne McNulty may be a hundred years old; nobody knows.  She lives in the Roscommon mental hospital to which she was committed as a young woman; but "care in the community" is taking over, the building is becoming increasingly decrepit, and psychiatrist Dr Grene must decide where his patients must go, and discover why they were committed.  Both are, unknown to the other, writing their own narratives of their lives, and gradually the picture of Roseanne's life, and Dr Grene's place in it, is revealed.  I found this book difficult to get into for the first few dozen pages (got sidetracked by the Dante reference on the first page); but it's a quick and moving read after that.

Black dog, by Stephen Booth [audiobook]. Read by Christopher Kay.  Rearsby, Leics.: WF Howes, 2005.

The first of the Ben Cooper/Diane Fry books; I've read a few of these, but this one was particularly interesting because now I know why there was so much animosity between them in the following ones.  I wasn't massively impressed by the plot of this one, to be honest - there just wasn't enough thrown to the reader for a decent guess at the killer - but the character development was enough to keep me listening.  Christopher Kay is a decent reader, if a little over-precise at times...

Whispers under ground, by Ben Aaronovitch. London: Gollancz, 2012.

Possibly the most enjoyable book I've read this year - this is just a beauty of a book, but you need to read the first two (Rivers of London  and Moon over Soho) first to understand what's going on.  I suppose it qualifies as SF; it has humour, some genuinely scary bits, but mostly it's brilliant because it's talking about London right now, Crossrail works, Oyster cards, etc., all mixed with some serious magic.  And then some lovely digressions which aren't really digressions:

The media response to unusual weather is as ritualised and predictable as the stages of grief.  First comes denial: "I can't believe there's so much snow." Then anger: "Why can't I drive my car, why are the trains not running?"  Then blame: "Why haven't the local authorities gritted the roads, where are the snow ploughs and how come the Canadians can deal with this and we can't?"  This last stage goes on the longest and tends to trail off into a mumbled grumbling background moan, enlivened by occasional "Asylum Seekers Ate My Snowplough" headlines from the Daily Mail, that continues until the weather clears up.

I like the way the severe facial disfigurement of one character is handled; the way none of the "normal" authorities want to deal with magical occurrences and just write them out of their reports; and the small asides about policing:

I'd given her a Moleskine reporter-style notebook that looks almost exactly the kind of black notebook that everyone thinks the police use, only we don't. And even if we did, we'd be much too cheap to buy Moleskines - we'd get them from Niceday instead."

Working in London is probably an advantage for this book.  Reading about a body being discovered on Platform 3 at Baker Street a few days before Christmas is considerably spookier if you're actually sitting on Platform 3 at Baker Street a few days before Christmas reading the book.... 

I probably need to shut up about how excellent this book is and just tell you to get hold of a copy of it, or the first one if you haven't read it, and get stuck in.  One more quote though, from the end - British DC talking to FBI agent:

"I won't use the word closure if you don't", I said.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Companion piece

Franklin has blogged his Cambridge Find.  I knew he'd do it in inimitable style, and I'm so glad Cambridge hoarded that book and revealed it at just the right time...

This is (yes, librarian digression here) a private sector version of Ranganathan*'s five library laws in action

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader his [or her] book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader [thank you, Ms Haunted Bookshop]
  5. The library is a growing organism [I'm sure F would agree]

Here is Man with Book.


We used the time to have a look at the Corpus Clock and the Mill Pond and call in on the knitters who were still around at the Cambridge KTog before heading back to the station.

* Yes, I'm linking to Wikipedia; where is ?

Thursday, December 06, 2012


Well, a bit later than a Monday post, but the score stands as it did on Monday... and I'm still not feeling very Christmassy; mainly because I still really don't know what I'm getting for immediate family and this is becoming a bit oppressive...!

On the list to be knitted for Christmas: 14 +1 (end-of-November birthday)
Cast on: 12 (-1 and +1 as I started again with one thing)
Cast off: 11 (+2)
Finished (blocked, labelled): 11 (+4)

One of the Things Finished was the most complicated thing I've knitted this Christmas; a pic (it's for my Mam; Dad, I'm trusting she'll be as uninterested as usual in this blog stuff... and apologies for the quality of the photo; can't remember the last time I saw adequate natural light!)


My ex-colleague Gill, who retired last year, came in for lunch and carols with the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army today (I'd love to link to them directly but I'm blocked at every turn!)...  and it was lovely to see her.

The village has dressed itself for Christmas; and as ever, I love the beauty and simplicity of that one strand of bulbs.  It's just bunged a really nice necklace on and gone to greet the season.


Saturday, December 01, 2012

Knitting in Knorwich

The picture from yesterday was taken standing outside The Forum in Norwich.  The Forum was built as a result of the horrible, catastrophic 1994 fire at Norwich Central Library (read this article if you love books; it's glorious) after which the old building had to be demolished.  The new one is, to my mind, somewhat nicer.


They were putting in the Christmas trees yesterday, complete with fake snow.


There was a craft show going on in the ground floor (which also houses the tourist information office and the entrance to the local BBC radio and TV stations); and couldn't help noticing that this year's Christmas decorations had a somewhat knitty flavour.


forum4 - Copy

All was revealed with an information board (slightly heavy on the commas, but actually informative!)

forum5 - Copy

All power to your elbows/wrists/fingers, Norfolk Knitters!

Another new development the Knitters of Norfolk will doubtless be happy about is a new yarn shop in the city centre, to join the very good stall on the market but catering for a different customer.  Popped in for a look after a tip-off from Sadie (who has just finished a gorgeous Kindle cover)...

It's on St Giles Street, which is just behind the Civic Centre.  I didn't want to stand opposite and fire a camera through the windows so here's an oblique shot...

craftyewe - Copy

Things I noticed, other than that it's a nice, modern, Ravelry-savvy sort of place:

  • Jo Sharp yarns, three or four of them
  • Schoeller & Stahl Limbo (not the long-colour-change version but the solid colours).  They also had some of the lovely small balls of S&S baby yarn Sarah has at the Sheep Shop in Cambridge.
  • John Arbon yarns - the Knit by Numbers DK and the alpaca sock yarn.  They have a fair selection of the colours but not all.
  • Manos lace and the aran-weight one, in a small selection of colours.
  • Pony accessories.
  • Another make of baby wool I hadn't seen before, with patterns etc. - nice colours
They had other stock too, but I was just about shopped out by then; just picked up a skein of the Knit by Numbers I think will make a nice Christmas gift, had a brief chat with the very nice person behind the counter and wandered off for the bus.

Oh, and another shop I'm always happy to see is still alive and well, and celebrating 41 years in Norwich:

headshop - Copy

They advertise themselves as "the oldest headshop in Norwich" - and they're still doing Spiritual Sky Patchouli incense in the maximum-strength version...