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Showing posts from July, 2008

Does anyone remember when books were infectious?

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Carrying on from my last post, I started replying to the comments but went galloping off down so many side alleys I thought I'd just post and have done with it.

I won't take my Penguin classic with me, though if I did, I'm sure I could find reasons for its sudden and tragic disappearance, preventing me reviewing it. The main one, I think, is its potential as a source of infection. Oops! There it goes - drowned under a pool of antiseptic hand wash.

Every now and then I get elderly library books in stock, with a list of firm instructions in the front (none of this openness, let the toddlers drool on the books stuff here) in which you are firmly told not to turn down page corners, mark the books and that you MUST let the library staff know if the book has been in contact with anyone who has an infectious disease.

As I am looking for displacement activity in a strenuous effort to try and avoid finishing my tax return (nearly there but I am finding it so hard to make the effort…

Books to read in hospital

I'm trying frantically to get my desk (and my mind) clear before Thursday 24th, as I am then, in theory, due to go into hospital to have my nose mended. I am only in overnight (again in theory) but I have a dilemma - what do I take in to read?

I am halfway through Rosy Thornton's Hearts and Minds, for which many thanks to Juliet. I am thoroughly enjoying this portrait of the poisonous politicking of student and staff, but I fear I will have finished it before Thursday, and I know I don't have the discipline to leave the book alone now I've got my teeth into it.

On my bedside table is the very unfinished The Blair Years, which is not quite the thing when you are on your bed of pain and want your mind taken off life, rather than being so irritated you burst your stitches. I keep picking this up, reading a few pages and then putting it down again, so desperate with the longing to give all the major characters a sharp slap that I can go no further.

I don't want to take…

The School Sponsored Walk

Miles walked = 12
Blisters = 7
Sensible shoes worn = 0

Well done daughter - you made it!

Trixie and the Dream Pony of Doom

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Trixie and the Dream Pony of Doom by Ros Asquith
Harper Collins, £4.99


It's such a marvellous title, isn't it? The Dream Pony of Doooooooom. I could not resist the title, and so, along with a load of other things it made its way across the Atlantic to me via Book Closeouts (though that said, it is actually a British book). I had a lot of fun before the book arrived conjuring up scenarios for The Dream Pony of Doom. Was it a Connemara fresh from Ireland, with a liking for the mystical? Or a sadly clumsy Shetland? Or maybe a literate pony convinced it was the next Cassandra?


Well no, and no, and no.
It really isn't a pony book in the classic sense: this title is part of a series about Trixie, who is badged as "your bestest friend ever", and her adventures. The book could just as easily be the Dream Kitten of Doom: the pony's a vehicle for the story. Trixie is desperate to have a pony, and hopes her grandma will win a television quiz and buy her that pony. It d…

Marks and Spencer

Marks & Spencer has been in Kettering for as long as I can remember, and it's never changed much. Apart from the knicker department, I usually walk on, on, on through the clothes part. The colours are over-bright, the styles look dire on the mannequins - and they're thin, so what on earth will they look like on me? - and nothing looks as if it much wants to be put with anything else.

However, last week, I was whizzing past Marks & Sparks after an unsuccessful quest to find running shoes (I decided I didn't want to wait for the assistants to finish their conversation) and I spotted a coral scoop neck top. Aha! I thought. I like that, and it's cheap. So, in I sailed, to be faced with a display of scoop neck tops. There they were: bright blue, bright green and sundry other colours, but not a single coral. Stopped in my tracks, I had a quick glance at the other side of the shop. Nope. Racks of A-line skirts, displayed in that fetching frontways-on method Marks &…

Michael Morpurgo: War Horse

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It's been a shamefully long time since I did a review. My fellow reviewer will not be contributing to this. I made the fatal mistake of buying her the first two Georgia Nicholson books, and so all hope was lost as far as horsey book reviewing went. Added to that, she is now off in Germany on her school trip, wildly excited as this is the first time she has been Abroad. She was so full of whoomph she managed to get up effortlessly at 3.00 am on Wednesday so we could get to Kettering in time for the 4.15 am start. Although I am definitely a lark, and usually wake at 5.00 am at this time of year, 3.00 am was pushing it a little, particularly as I didn't sleep well, being too petrified of oversleeping and missing the off..... despite having own mobile, son's and husband's all set for a 3.00 am alarm call.


When son did this trip (though it was France in his case) one of his friends did miss the coach, and so his mother chased it down the M1 before finally catching up at a …

Manners maketh the Pony Club. Or not.

I get asked to donate prizes and vouchers to various horsey organisations and I'm generally pretty happy to oblige. Recently, a certain branch of the Pony Club (who shall remain nameless, but they are not local to me) and Equine Market Watch asked me for prizes.

So, always wanting to encourage the younger entry, and having a lot of time for EMW, I wrote off to both saying yes, of course I would help. Had a lovely message from EMW. Nothing from the Pony Club.

The message from EMW was so kind, I in fact sent them two books rather than the one I'd originally promised, for which I had a lovely thank you letter, and they've been nothing but kind and helpful ever since.

I sent the book off to the Pony Club, and I have heard nothing back. Not a word. I'm prepared to believe they didn't get my email, but the book hasn't been returned to me, so I presume it's there. This may sound rather sour, but if you're supposed to be encouraging the younger entry, teaching…

The Labours of Matilda

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We didn't have an egg yesterday from our super-reliable hen, Matilda. I think this is why:


She was saving herself for this epic effort on the left. In the middle is one of her normal eggs, and to the right is one of the bantam's. Fortunately she seems none the worse for the experience, and shot out of the stable as enthusiastically as normal to tuck into the remains of son's lunch. Ouch.

And the winners are....

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Of course I had forgotten all about this, but thanks to the wonders of Microsoft Outlook, which popped up a reminder, I have artfully hand-torn pieces of paper, scribbled on them, shuffled them about a bit, and here are the results:



and



I hope you enjoy the books. Robin, I have your address so will post off to you asap. Elaine - could you please email me your address? The email address is enquiries[at]janebadgerbooks[dot]co[dot]uk

The lavender's beautiful, but there are no bees.

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A bit flattened from all the rain, but valiantly flowering on. I think if I had my time again I'd go for a less purple and more, yes, lavender shade, but I love the hedge anyway.








One thing I have noticed this year is the dreadful decrease in the number of bees on the lavender. Usually when I walk down the path I am surrounded by them. There must be less than half the usual amount this year.

Whether it's varroa mite, colony collapse disorder, our love of the mobile phone or something else, we need our bees. I have many of the plants that bees love: comfrey by the yard, rosemary, groves of foxgloves and of course the lavender, and if I haven't got bees, then who on earth has?



The British Beekeepers' Association is running a campaign to persuade the Government to fund an £8 million research programme. So far it has refused, despite the fact that without bees, we would have none of the crops that rely on bees for pollination: no apples, pears, strawberries, peas or beans,…

Equine Market Watch Open Day

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The Equine Market Watch charity has three sanctuaries in Powys, Herefordshire and Shropshire. It campaigns on issues of horse welfare, against indiscriminate breeding, and takes equines in need into sanctuaries to rehabilitate them and place them in approved loan homes. As a policy they don’t buy from markets unless it is clear that there is a pony who is so distressed it cannot in all conscience be left there. Most of EMW's residents are signed over due to their owners' inability to cope, for a variety of reasons. The charity’s motto is “We will NEVER look away”. The picture shows Louis, rescued from an abusive home. You can meet him at the Open Day.





The Sanctuaries are being pushed by the credit crunch: prices are going up and donations are going down, so their Open Day is vital. The Shropshire Branch is running the Open Day on Saturday 9th August with Richard Maxwell. I know about this as they asked me if I'd like a trade stall on the day - as I won't long be out of…

BAFAB week - again

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Well, BAFAB (Buy a Friend a Book) week is nearly over, and you can tell I'm playing catch-up. So, my offerings are sparkling new copies of Joanna Cannan's We Met Our Cousins, and Monica Edwards' No Entry. To win one, you will need to add a comment to this blog entry.
The Joannan Cannan is one of her earliest children's stories, and involves a prim London brother and sister clashing head on with their Highland cousins, who scorn shoes and prissiness. It's told with detachment and humour, and reflects Joanna Cannan's Highland holidays escaping from the Oxford academia that governed her own childhood.


The Monica Edwards is part of her Romney Marsh series, and in it Foot and Mouth hits the Marsh. I don't find this as easy to read as once I did, having experienced the worry of foot and mouth though thankfully not the disease itself, but as ever with Monica Edwards, it is an excellent read, and you get the usual GGB extras with it: a preface by the author's dau…

Life, Casts and Proms

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Apologies to everyone who's been visiting the blog and wondered about my silence. Life has been even more manic than usual, so blogging, along with many other things has had to take a back seat. Instead, time has been eaten by visits to the hospital for me and daugher - who is now, hurrah! hurrah! out of her cast. The nurse asked her if she wanted to keep it. She is only too glad, I think, to get rid of it, especially now there was no more room to draw on it and it was therefore of no interest at all. The consultant told her firmly to avoid PE and all contact sport for another 3 weeks. We both nodded wisely, knowing full well that she has her Modern dance exam this Sunday, and no intention whatsoever of not doing it.

I've also been slaving away producing the long, long overdue postal catalogue on pony books. For anyone who usually reads what is on the website, don't worry, you aren't missing anything. The poor postal people are just very behind having a look at the new…