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Showing posts from May, 2008

The Not Garden

On which low, and probably not original note, this is a whinge. I've been reading quite a few blogs lately in which people describe their lovely gardens, and particularly their prowess with their vegetables. Then, yesterday, en route to nag a child, I half heard Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall say on tv "Vegetable growing is easy," which prompted me to regress several decades and sneer "Oh yeah?" in a thoroughly teenage manner. Vegetables need TIME, Hugh, and time is what I don't have (actually I suppose the figure I had before children, enough brain cells to keep all the balls in the air and a first edition of Primrose Cumming's Deep Sea Horse are a few more things I don't have, but that is bye the bye).

I have mentioned my veg garden before, and skirted round the subject of my approach to veg. I have given you a bit of a hint with the picture of the radishes, but now here is the full and horrible truth.

It might be a side effect of modern life, or it …

Amazon, Gawd bless it

Non book dealers probably don't know about Sheppards, who publish a directory in which most dealers appear. We get a weekly newsletter from them about the latest shenanigans in the book dealing world, and this little nugget appeared in the latest edition:

News came in tonight that The Long Riders' Guild Press, publisher of Horse Travel Books, the largest treasure-trove of equestrian exploration wisdom ever seen has some 300 titles in print. The royalties from many titles are donated to worthy causes and the company is proud to be a pioneer with the new Print-On-Demand (POD) technology. A few weeks ago The Long Riders' Guild Press became one of the victims of an unprecedented bid to seize control by Amazon. The Long Riders' Guild Press is determined to fight this as Amazon's move may well cause many publishers to disappear.
You might wonder what on earth Amazon could possibly want with a niche publisher - after all, Amazon sell the books on their site anyway, don'…

Books for the younger element

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Having said I'd finished with books for primary age children, I was looking for something I'd lost in the office and found this cache of books for the youngest readers: to be fair, they're also books for reading aloud.


When my own children were small I was very, very keen to indoctrinate them about that noble creature, The Horse, through literature, but I was doomed to disappointment on many fronts: there were dogs (Spot), cats (Mog) and of course engines; (I think there is a stage that most mothers of boys reach: the theme tune for Thomas the Tank Engine starts, and they twitch) but horse books I failed to find, until Berlie Doherty's Snowy was published. I loved this story of a barge horse, and thought I was doing a good and subtle job in making sure it was well to the fore in the pile of books we always read, until my daughter turned to me and said "Mummy, I don't want to read about that horse any more."


Things have moved on in the ten years since I wa…

The Zeitgeist

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is not something I am normally part of. I am in the vanguard of nothing: certainly not fashion. Or the current hot read. But, inadvertently, I am suddenly doing something fashionable.

My husband bought Country Life yesterday. I used to read Country Life avidly - well, to be more accurate, I would drool over the house advertisements avidly, if one can drool avidly. I think I did. However, living in our own country house, albeit on a much smaller and far less grand scale than the usual Country Life effort, has completely cured me of coveting other people's listed beauties. No longer do I think, "Oooh, how lovely," when I look at something's Elizabethan brickwork, or its ornate drain hoppers. Now I just feel grateful that it is not me that has to look after those acres of roof, cough up thousands for guttering, or do battle with ancient wiring which last saw an electrician in the 1920s, let alone the acres of gravel path, the lawns, the fences, the hedges......
But back…

The Garden

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My poor garden gets very little time in this blog (reflecting I suppose the amount of time it has spent on it: not enough.) Normally in summer I am out there planning what to do next, shifting things and trying to outwit the slugs and snails, but this season I am stuck in the house, decorating. This is because we have decided to move to be nearer the children's school, which is 20 miles away. In theory, we then won't be using as much petrol taxi-ing them backwards and forwards; they will be nearer to their friends: they are neither of them alas country children so it seems fairly pointless having all this when it's not used. The ultimate plan is to move back out to the country in a few years when they've finished school: to a nice small cottage with a hefty acreage. One day I'll plant my orchard.....

But back to the decorating. As a dedicated watcher of Location, Location, Location etc I know everything should be pale, but I am so, so, so bored of neutrality. The n…

Radio 4: Saturday Live

Yes, it was me giving my all on the beauty of the hardback book, and I'm sorry I didn't let everyone know! If you want to listen (and have a few, a very few moments of the Black Beauty tune - can't think why they put that in) then it's here, at least for the next 7 days.

The Pony Mad Princess & Katy's Exmoor

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The titles in this blog are, for once, not ones I'm going to be rude about. These were the best of the UK pony books for the 8-10s (in our opinion, at any rate, and I must there was a little difference in what we thought about each book!)


Diana Kimpton: Princess Ellie to the Rescue
Usborne, 2004 £3.99


Diana Kimpton's website

Series of, so far, 13 books
This was another title whose cover straightaway said "Turn away. This is not for you." Whilst quite a step up from the pastel kitsch of The Secret Unicorn, it's still girly. No other word for it. Girly. And girly was what I thought I was going to get.
However, I didn't. This was my favourite of the books for the younger element, though not Miranda’s: “OK,” was as far as she got. Maybe she felt it was a bit young for her: I didn't do very well when I tried to prise more out of her. For me, it was straightforward and witty, and a well-written story of a princess trying to be normal. Ironically, given the bad…

H M Peel to be republished

You'll have to wait until 2009 (though at the rate this year seems to be going, it'll fly by), but at last, Hazel's books are going to be available again. The first two will be Easter the Showjumper and Night Storm the Flat Racer.

Fidra Books (of course) are the ones who are bringing Hazel back to us. Here's the link.

The Internal Debate: the Resolution

Dutiful me: Shoes!

Book me: Book.

Northampton Borough Council: Parking Ticket.

Oh. My. God.

Thanks, of a rather shaky, sort go to Juxtabook for this one. If you go to the Penguin Classics site, you too can register for a free Penguin Classic, the only minor catch being that you have to review it on their blog within 6 weeks of getting it.

Oooh, I thought. Free is always good, and free books are always better. If I am really spectacularly lucky, I might get Dickens' Dombey and Son which I don't appear to have, and neither does any book shop around here. I might even get one of the Greek and Latin authors, whom I almost certainly would have read already, which would make the reviewing task a bit easier. There are hundreds of things I would like to get.

No. I have "The Sickness Unto Death," by Kierkegaard. I looked it up in the hope that though complex (Kierkegaard's concept of despair) it might be short, but no. 265 pages. Blimey. I have not read anything even remotely similar since I tried and failed to read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship

Oh the excitement....

Soon, very soon, I will be living in a registered heritage asset. Aren't I lucky? I used to live in a building, a listed building, but soon it will be a registered heritage asset.

Margaret Hodge, the blessed Margaret, inspired mangler of the English language (or at least nodder through of an underling's work) was taxed about this a couple of weeks ago on Radio 4. She laughed. "Oh, we'll soon get used to it," she said. Why should we? Why should we have to put up with this pompous waste of words? For a start, it's lazy. Australia already uses the term heritage asset, so instead of trying to think of something less clunky, our civil servants simply lifted the term, and then debased it still further by strapping "registered" onto it.

It is not just ugliness that riles me. My children are used to me leaping up and down when I find mistakes in writing (I have the excuse that one of my other businesses is proof-reading). The thing that drives me to ap…