Sunday, 29 March 2020

March reading

Some of this month's books have been a very mixed bag. The Ben Macintyre biography of Gordievsky was a book group choice. I didn't enjoy it although others found it exciting.
I thought that it was depressing that mankind chooses to spend so much time and energy in negativity and paranoia. 
A friend lent me this curious little autobiography by a descendant of the Victorian artist Holman Hunt. It describes her childhood, being shunted between two very different grandmothers. I found the result rather fey.

This was a traveling library choice. I say 'choice' but there is actually very little on the shelves that appeals. The main advantage is that we can order books. As I've mentioned before, the van stops right outside our house and provides a great service. 'The Dress' concept was interesting and well plotted, of a dress being owned, or borrowed, by a variety of women.
The book that I absolutely LOVED was the follow on to 'Olive Kitteridge'. The same format was followed in 'Olive Again' of  linked stories in which Olive featured to a greater or lesser extent. The characterisation throughout this book is wonderful.

Who knows when the libraries will reopen. I picked two large print books when they were last in the village, chosen only because they are easier to see when I'm reading in bed at night. I suspect that they are both tosh and I'll put them to one side in annoyance before I've got very far. Never mind, the house is full of books and the next few months will be a good time to re-read many of my favourites. Elizabeth Bowen, Elizabeth Taylor, possibly Miss Austin!
(What is it about the name Elizabeth? Three of them, all wonderful writers.)
Keep safe, keep well, and tuck yourself up with a good book!

Monday, 17 February 2020

Visible Monday - bargain Boden.

Every other year the mail order clothing firm, Boden, holds a warehouse sale at the local show ground. In the past I've been with my friend, Janet, arriving when the sale first opens in the morning. It has been like taking part in a rugby scrum. This time we decided to be more lady-like and saunter in after lunch. Janet is a demon shopper, she used to work in the fashion industry and can work at speed through a mound of unlikely looking clothing like a truffle hound and pull out a bargain. She is also good at restraining me from making an ill-judged purchase with the mere lift of an eyebrow so she's a great person to go shopping with. I'm not in need of any clothes and for the last few years have been trying to buy as little as possible so I wasn't intending to buy anything for myself, but thought I would just take a look at the women's clothes while I was there. I was on the hunt for  children's wear, age 3 to 4yrs for my grandson who is growing up quickly.
It was very quiet when we arrived and the clothes remaining on the tables looked  unpromising, they had been well picked over. Had we made a big mistake by being so late? An organiser told us that in the morning women had descended like locusts and grabbed armfuls of clothes and had been busy photographing them. Individuals had bought so many items that it was suspected they were to be sold on later for a profit.
I managed to find some moleskin trousers and a lovely jumper for the boy, by which time Janet had decked herself out in a very natty jumpsuit. Dresses were £20. Janet gave me something crumpled and white to try on.
Cotton dress and with petticoat, pockets, scalloped hem and armholes.
My size, UK 12. What's not to like!

While in the changing room I saw someone wearing this pink shirtwaister, the only size left was UK16. "Try it on," said the expert. 100% cotton, pockets, button through, LOTS of room! It looks rather '40's/50's utility - just the thing for my sort of lifestyle!
 So we came home happy.

I'm sharing with Patti's Visible Monday at She is talking about tuxedos/jackets. I've got a summery Boden jacket from several years back (bought full price!) that I usually wear with jeans. Perhaps it will go with the white dress. Though I'm going to have to wait until the weather warms and we've finished with storms!

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Reading list

Our January book group choice was, 'Leonard and Hungry Paul'. We had been looking for a humorous book after discussing a few too many angst-ridden novels, but this one did little for me, although the opening line made me laugh.
Leonard was raised by his mother alone with cheerfully concealed difficulty, his father having died tragically during childbirth.
It is about two friends who are the opposite of today's youthful obsession with fame and looks. I found Hungry Paul downright annoying. Interestingly,  however, the book provided a really long and lively discussion about present day society.
The book group choice for this month is Robert Graves', 'Goodbye to all That', his biography spanning the period from childhood until his departure from Britain after serving in the First World War.
This was a re-read for me and I was able to study it a little more objectively than the first time around, some years ago. What a strong sense of privilege his writing contains, along with descriptions of battle that demonstrate what a stupid waste of life armed conflict is.
I referenced Grave's 'Greek Myths' while reading Pat Barker's, 'The Silence of the Girls'. I enjoyed that book very much and as a result have borrowed, 'Toby's Room' from the travelling library. It is set in the First World War,  covering the same period as the Graves biography, and it mixes real and imaginary characters from the Slade School of Art, which is an added interest for me.
Pat Barker's main area of interest is that of war, but fleshed out with good characterisation.
I've just finished the first of Ferranti's quartet of Neapolitan novels. It's the story of two girls growing up in 1950's Naples. I found it took a while to get going and could have benefited from some crisper editing, but once the large cast of characters had settled into place I enjoyed the read and shall seek out the next book. (It reminded me of my holidays in Italy in the fifties, men walking past and talking to me and pinching my bottom - and my father being absolutely furious!)

Friday, 7 February 2020

More waistcoats!

My current love affair with waistcoats continues, so I was delighted to find some excellent examples on display at the Man and Boy exhibition at Tennant's Auction house in Leyburn.


My father spoke of being 'britched'  at the age of twelve. This was when he moved from wearing the short trousers of childhood and moved into long pants. I don't recall him telling me that anyone had put coins in his pockets!
This French-made outfit is so beautiful with its variety of stripes and buttons and embroidered waistcoat. Lots going on and yet the effect remains quietly and elegantly understated.
I like that the original owners of some of these garments is known. Master Baines must have been a very good little boy as his white pants are in excellent condition. No tree climbing for him!

Pupils in Bristol still wear an outfit that resembles this York Blue Coat school uniform.
But the state-funded school outfit in corduroy looks far more comfortable.

What great names - any bloggers out there who consider themselves Mashers or Swells?

A good talk promised for the 15th, not to mention cake!  Sadly I'll no longer be in the Dales to attend.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Little Women

We've been to see the latest film version of  'Little Women' and I loved everything about it. We had made a trip to Concord a couple of decades ago when we were both still working. It could be described more accurately as a pilgrimage because Himself is a great fan of the writings of Henry Thoreau and wanted to visit Walden Pond.
The site of Thoreau's hut.

He has copies of all Thoreau's work, including two hefty journals. I'm not as keen and say that the journals are useful only to stand on when I need to reach for something on a high shelf. We each followed our own interests while in Concord, so Himself looked around the house where Emerson lived and I went to see the home of Louisa M Alcott and her family. It was a lovely experience.
The holiday had been memorable so we were eager to see what had been translated onto the screen. The colour of the March house was the same as the Alcott's and the beauty of the area well captured.
I loved the clothes - all the fabrics, socks, pants, shawls, petticoats - and Jo's waistcoats! I've looked out the waistcoats in my wardrobe and now I want to wear them with BIG skirts and natty little jackets. This brown velvet one is about thirty years old and as good as new
although the back could do with an iron!
I noticed that the living room wallpaper in the film was a William Morris design, the same one, as it happens, that we have on our bedroom walls. I wouldn't have thought that an English wallpaper would have been used over the pond at that time. Anybody know? Some of the landscape shots were absolutely beautiful. I loved the book as a young girl and  couldn't believe that Jo didn't want to marry Laurie! In the film she marries a very desirable young man, not the middle-aged character described in the novel - yeh!