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Showing posts from March, 2011

Self publishing

New readers might wonder why I have the little box warning off the self-published.  This review and book are absolutely nothing to do with me, but the whole thing's a classic example of how not to respond to a review.

Janet Rising: Interview

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Regular readers of this blog will know that I like Janet Rising's Pony Whisperer series.  Janet, who besides being a writer is the current Editor of Pony Magazine, kindly agreed to do an interview for the site, and here it is.  





When did you first get the horsy bug?
I have always had the horsy bug – it’s more a disease. I am the only one in my family to be so afflicted and I have no idea where it came from – it must have skipped a couple of generations. As a child I had hundreds of model ponies of various sizes (still stashed away in my loft), I drew, wrote about and dreamed ponies, galloped around the garden and rushed out to feed the rag-and-bone man’s horse whenever it clip-clopped along our road. I had no hope of getting a pony of my own but it didn’t stop me being involved with horses. I loved horses so much, it hurt. I’m still fascinated by all equines, and no time seems wasted looking at and learning about them.
Fortunately we lived in a suburb in Essex on the edge of the gree…

Snippets

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Elizabeth Taylor, star of the film of National Velvet, died on 23rd March.  I bet Velvet would have turned up 15 minutes late to her own funeral too (though possibly  not for the same reasons).

I just can't get into cupcakes; just TOO sweet, but I am happy to drool over Rachael's chocolate brownie recipe.

Something to read that is not a pony book: Juxtabook reviews  The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley.

Thanks to Rosemary Hall for telling me about Bartabas, who has only just swum across my ken, despite the fact If Wishes Were Ponies has been to see it.


And another thank you to Rosemary Hall for this:  get the Barney the Boat Dog experience:  try horseboating for an hour or two.

Lastly, thanks to the fact I spent this afternoon finishing off the very large box of Jelly Babies left over from Christmas (someone had to) I can tell you that Jelly Babies were originally known as Peace Babies, as they were introduced to commemorate the end of the First World Wa…

Oooh, it's a man

Yesterday my hens had a new experience.  A friend has a lot of hens, and two of her cockerels had attacked each other and had to be separated.  I will take one, I said.  Although it might be a short visit, because my Black Rocks are terrible thugs.

The theory behind having Mr Cockerel was that he would keep the girls in check, so that when I get my late Christmas present hens (hopefully next week) I will not have to spend months keeping them separate so that the Black Rocks do not try to kill them.  My original plan was to put Mr C in the stable and keep him shut in until night and then bung him in with the girls.  I warned my neighbour we had him, and trotted off back to work in my nice thick stone walled house, well insulated from sound.  A couple of hours later I went out into the garden, and there, floating effortlessly over the couple of hundred yards between him and me was Mr C, cockadoodling.  Every 10 seconds.  After frantic consultation with my friend, we decided that Mr C sh…

Pony Club Camp

Maybe today's Pony Club members will have to do a five hour ride to camp if petrol prices keep going up, like the members of the Wimbledon Pony Club, who rode down to Bagshot in Surrey for their summer camp in 1953.

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You can imagine that Noel and Henry and Major Holbrooke are in there somewhere.

The horse in war

Horses were bombed in the war too; this picture, of Doreen Mason, land girl, and the horse Spitfire, was taken in August 1941, and is part of the Imperial War Museum image collection.  Spitfire was a victim of the Blitz which flattened much of London docklands, and was evacuated to Essex.  He was left unmanageable by his experiences, but Doreen succeeded in overcoming his fears.

Many thanks to Rosemary Hall for telling me about this image.

When Arabs were Arabs

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Many thanks to Fiona for telling me about this clip, which I'd never seen. It's another from the glorious repository of the period horse that is British Pathé. The clip opens with some of Lady Wentworth's Arabians, moves through the 1939 Derby, Ascot and the Grand National, and ends with a marvellous montage of sunlit working and other horses.

The Suffolk Punch

Susanna Forrest, on If Wishes Were Ponies, posted a piece about sidesaddle on British Pathé.  For those who haven't come across British Pathé before, this was a news service who produced cinema newsreels (and, it seems, anything they thought someone might be interested in) for transmission before the main feature film started.  The site is an absolute treasure trove, and I found this lovely clip of a Country Show at Ipswich during World War One, when the War Office sent "300 overseas farmer-soldiers" to see the show.

Those are proper horses.

For Follyfoot fans

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Goodness, this makes me feel beyond old.  Follyfoot, the tv serial, is 40 this year.  The programme was absolutely essential viewing for any pony mad child of the 1970s, with the glamorous Steve and Dora and of course all those horses.


This book has been written by Jane Royston, who was Horse Manager on the series for four years.  If you are yearning to find out what has become of the actors, there are interviews with many of them.  There's also an episode-by-epidode listing and background information from cast and crew.  The book's out in May, and will cost £14.99.  There's no publisher listed on the info I have.

Things I do people would rather I didn't

There is a thread over on one of the parenting websites at the moment about things your nearest and dearest do which drive you bats, unreasonably so.  Some of this is sobering reading, as many of the things that annoy, I actually do. I


have hundreds of books on the go, all at the same time, leave them over the entire house and get miffed when they are moved.  And grumble that I cannot find them.  And grumble I do not know what to read.never, ever get up from a sofa and even consider sorting the cushions outalways use the same knife for butter and jam and leave jammy marks on the butter.  I know this is irritating, and I then spend ages scraping the jammy bits off the butter with my buttery/jammy knife.  It would be far, far quicker just to use a spoon for the jam in the first place, but I never do.  Got ticked off by Our Vicar as a child for the sin of Using The Same Knife For Everything, and think I have been in a state of rebellion ever sinceam very, very bad at putting tops back on …

A bookshelf for the cat who has everything

Have a look here.

From Tall Stories Books via Twitter.

Trit trot

Frankly I prefer Lady Gaga's efforts to these mere pretenders.

Thank you to Susanna Forrest, Karen Krizanovich and Twitter for that.

Review: Linda Newbery - Barney the Boat Dog. And the log jam effect

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Linda Newbery - Barney the Boat Dog
Usborne, £4.99

Linda Newbery's website

Thank you to Usborne for sending me a copy of this book.


I 'll get the log jam stuff out of the way first:  this is nothing to do with the Linda Newbery book.  I don't know if other people experience this, but every now and then I get asked to do something that I find tremendously difficult.  The thing in question was to read a self-published book.  I very soon ground to a halt with this book, because it was absolutely not my sort of thing.  The book then sat there like a toad on the review shelf, glaring at me, whilst all around it other books to be reviewed piled up.  I do like to review stuff as it comes in, rather than do the short stuff first (for obvious reasons), or the stuff I like (for further obvious reasons).  Although you might not believe it, I try and apply some sort of a system to life.

So, there I was, every now and then casting sideways glances at the toad book, and then busily getting…

Was it what they expected?

Thanks to Rachael from Tales from the Village for this idea.  If you have analytics on your site, which I do, you can track what searches people used to find you.  I've often cast a cursory look at the keywords people have used, but boy have I been missing a trick.

I wonder why anyone would want to know about Chilprufe children's vests, a nightmare I remember vividly from my youth.  Those I think must have been the woollen vests Ann Derry's mother forced her to take on a pony trek in Jill's Gymkhana.  Ann buried them in a hedge.

There was a rather sad search on "nobody loves me enough to buy me a unicorn", which poster must have become all the sadder if they read some of my more trenchant posts on the subject of the unicorn.

Hopefully the people who searched for Black Beauty, far and away the most popular route to this blog, were a bit happier with what they found.  Goodness knows I've done enough posts on the subject.

I am intrigued by the person who se…

The Young Entry (or at least some of them)

I’ve recently read a few books by very young writers.  Normally this is a genre I avoid like the plague.  Colonel C E G Hope, later editor of Pony Magazine, wrote when he was working for Riding: “I find that I have to overcome a certain, no doubt unreasonable, prejudice when dealing with books by children...”  I have a lot of sympathy for Colonel Hope’s point of view.  Once I made the mistake of reviewing a book written by a child, a review which I thought was basically sympathetic, but oh goodness, the flack I received for daring to say something even slightly negative (which I did, I admit, about the book’s editors).  That was the first, and only, blog piece I have ever taken down.  I have learned my lesson, and intend not to touch with a bargepole anything written by the young today.
Colonel Hope had a good deal to contend with in avoiding the book written by the child: they were not exactly uncommon in the 1930s, which is when this set of books was published.  Alison Haymonds, writ…

Running out of bookshelf space?

Afternoon walk

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Amazing autumn light yesterday on my dog walk.  I have been quite bad about taking the camera with me over the past months, mainly because dog walking done in the pitch dark doesn't offer a lot of scope for photography.  Well, it might if I really got to grips with the interior workings of my camera, but I haven't.

I wanted to photograph the lichens and frost blasted leaves before they are covered up by Spring.



I want to go back and get a better, less hurried look at the amazing patterns on this tree.  I was so struck by it I forgot to look and see if it was elder or hawthorn, and as tree spotting is not amongst my skills, can't alas tell from the photo.

Lords and Ladies (or Jack in the Hedge) is already lurking at the foot of the hedges.  I was cheered to see the nettle sprouting too further along.  It will no doubt get me later in the season.  It always does.

It was too cold for the pigs, whose paddock is out of the sun.  I completely saw their point by the time we got to th…

World Book Night

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And the winner is.....

Pullein-Thompson Archive!




I'll get the book off to you asap.

A life of grime

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which is a heading I wish I'd thought of, but I didn't.  After my post of gloom on Tuesday, I thought I should post something more cheery, but inspiration there has been none, until today (and before I launch in, thank you very much to the people who have written to me, actual real proper letters, to say how much they enjoy my blog.  I am very touched.  Thank you.)

Earlier this week, when posting out an order to one of the very kind people who ordered from me this week (and thank you VERY MUCH to them too), I explained that the book might take a while as US customs are being a tad picky at the moment.  Never mind, she said.  The book won't go off, unlike some German sausage she ordered from Wisconscin which was delayed by snowstorms and was a very questionable parcel by the time it arrived.

I'd earlier been reading one of the UK parenting forums on revolting things you have found in your house, and behold, a whole rich topic of filth and general grime has come into bein…

Bookselling - how it is for me

Here's a truism for you: attempting to browbeat your customers by making them feel guilty for shopping elsewhere is a surefire way to make sure they carry on shopping elsewhere.   No one likes to shop somewhere you feel obligated: that's not the sort of relationship we have with shops.  I like to shop in places which make me feel good, not one where I buy something; anything, out of duty and then scurry out, feeling the accusatory eye of the owner upon me.
But what do you, the shopkeeper, do when things are bad; so bad that you can see the writing on your bank manager's wall and none of it is positive?  When you provide services by the plenty that people happily use and like, but which aren't paid for?  When despite all those said services and added value, your core business is not actually making you any money?  I commend the Wood Green Bookshop for coming out and saying OUCH - we are in danger.  It's the great big elephant in the bookselling room at the moment I&#…

World Book Night

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World Book Night is almost upon us (March 5th -apologies for leaving this salient piece of information out before.) I don't have any of the set books to give away, and don't actually know anybody who has either locally, but never mind.  Nothing to stop me giving away a book.  So, I will be giving away:



I reviewed this a couple of years back.  I've re read it since, and it more than stood up to it.

 Please add your name to the comments below and I will do a draw on World Book Night.