Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Exhibitions

This week I've dodged the hailstones and high winds by going into town to look at a couple of exhibitions. They could not have been more different. At the Victoria Gallery in Bath they are showing an amazing collection of photographs, a profoundly disturbing assemblage of images, many of them very well known.The background information was fascinating; two versions of Russian soldiers, the initial untouched print displayed above the one that was used, where plumes of smoke had been added to the sky for dramatic effect and the second watch on the soldier's wrist blocked out so that there could be no suspicion of looting!
The stories that the photos captured were heart-rending and when I came to the final image I reflected that virtually all this tragedy has taken place in my own lifetime and still continues. Carnage on the streets of London today. How strange that many of these photos can also be described as beautiful. One example is of a soldier during the Irish troubles photographed in closeup behind his shield. The shield is battered, scratched and scored so that the very large print appears marked in a painterly fashion. Another photograph, printed on a massive scale, is surely a vision of hell, soldiers caught in the instant of an exploding mine. The whole surface is a whirlwind of moving fragments. This exhibition is a must see if you are anywhere near Bath.
From there I walked up the street (clinging on to my brolly) to

to see
Quite a difference! People having fun, being silly, enjoying life. The detail above is from a painting of a country wedding. Once again the background information was very interesting and helpful, with a family tree to sort out which  Bruegel I was looking at! I was surprised that a painting on display of tulip gardens had once been owned by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Rossetti.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Libraries

This week I'm joining Barbara, the hostess of Tuesday Intros, with a book of short stories that I chose from our travelling library. It's a service that is very much under threat as councils try to make their money stretch. Ali Smith's book is her plea for the continuation of a library service that is free to all.
This is the information on the flyleaf.

The stories are interspaced with reflections from a variety of people on the value of libraries.
The book opens with
Here's a true story. Simon, my editor, and I had been meeting to talk about how to put together this book you're reading right now. We set off on a short walk across central London to his office to photocopy some stories I'd brought with me.
Just off Covent Garden we saw a building with the word LIBRARY above its doors.
It didn't look like a library. It looked like a fancy shop.
What do you think it is? Simon said.
Let's see, I said.
We crossed the road and went in.
Everything inside was painted black. There was a little vestibule and in it a woman was standing behind a high reception desk. She smiled a hello. Further in, ahead of us, I could just glimpse some people sitting at a table and we could hear from behind a thin partition wall the sounds of people drinking and talking.
Hello, we said. Is this a library?
The woman lost her smile.
No, she said.

The travelling library stops right outside our garden gate. I've always joked that as long as I'm able to stagger down the garden path as an old lady to select my books then I shall be alright. Now there is a very real risk that the library will no longer exist before ever I get to the staggering stage!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Tuesday Intros.

I've just finished reading this book by the popular English playwright and novelist, Michael Frayn. It's the answer to a request from his daughters to know something about his childhood and gives a warm portrait of his father whilst describing his own journey from child to adult. I think the first chapters suffer from information that the family may well find riveting  but that is frankly rather boring for other readers. Biographies and autobiographies are fascinating for what they leave out and this book is no exception, too much information one minute, then gliding over situations that would fascinate the next.
Here is the opening page.
If you've read any of his novels or seen his plays then it may be of interest to you.
Joining up with Barbara who hosts Tuesday Intros.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Visible Monday - well wrapped up.

Today was somewhat more visible than usual for we were out to lunch with friends to celebrate Himself's birthday. After a murky start to the day the sun eventually broke through. We are lucky to have a good place to eat in the village where we live and arrived on the dot of one in time to greet our friends.
Although the sun was shining it was cold and we were well wrapped up for the short walk up the hill, woollen jumper under woollen dress, tights, boots, big pink pashmina, warm coat. Yup, that's winter in Blighty folks! (This is a grey coat, the camera is playing tricks with the colour. And I'm not going to get a haircut until the weather warms up!))
We had a lovely time, lots of chat, good food.
I had fish stew.
Himself had presents.                       
A long, long skinny scarf from me with fox terriers decorating each end to remind us of much missed Bella and Maisie. From our friends a fancy shirt and a card, staying with the dog theme, of one of Steve's paintings, 'Swimming Dog.'
Here is my outfit to share with Visible Monday.
Cowl neck wool jumper from Jaeger
wool dress from Hobbs
boots so old I can't remember where they are from!
I looked in my 2016 diary to calculate how much money I'd spent on clothing throughout the year. I'd started out last January with the intention of buying as little as possible and told myself that for any item I bought I would give away an existing piece. I'm pleased with the result. I spent a total of £138. Each item was a sale purchase and included a sun hat, suede flats, crops, a funnel neck jumper and a chambray dress. If something irresistible comes along this year then I shan't feel too guilty about buying it!

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Tuesday Intros: London Fog.

 
I'm just getting back into the routine of things after the holiday celebrations, so it's good to join Barbara, the hostess of Tuesday Intros, with the opening lines of a book that I've just finished reading. I chose it from the library because I liked the cover and thought, ah, yes, I know all about London rain, I've padded about with it dripping down my neck often enough!

I'd never heard of the author but discovered that she's written a number of books featuring the central character, Josephine Tey.  What did I think of it? Far too over researched for my taste. I'm confident that all the period details were accurate but they slowed the story down and caused me to be uninvolved in the story line.
Just goes to show, you can't tell a book from it's cover!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Tuesday Intros, a Christmas theme.

I'm joining Barbara, the hostess of Tuesday Intros, with a book set at Christmas time. Rosaleen's four children return to the west coast of Ireland for a final family Christmas in the home she is going to sell. The back cover blurb describes her as, 'a woman who doesn't quite know how to love her children.'


I've yet to start the book and I'm not too sure how cheerful it's going to be for this festive season. Wishing you a very Happy Christmas, with your stocking bulging with at least one good book!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Tuesday Intros.

I'm joining Barbara, who hosts the Tuesday book event, with a novel by Mark Haddon about family members who take a week's holiday in a rented house in Wales.
It took me a while to get into the rhythm of the story. The opening page isn't too promising, but on the strength of his first book, which I had enjoyed, I kept reading. Each chapter is another day in the week's holiday.
Each character in the book gets their fair share of attention - some are more deserving than others!
We are lucky to have two really good independent bookshops in my nearest city and I've been there today to buy Christmas presents. I can't tell you what I've bought because family members look at the blog. Both shops feel like Aladdin's cave. I'll take my camera along next time and photograph them for you.