Tuesday, 19 November 2013


Feeling rather miserable today - As some of you know, I'm trying to move house at the moment. I'd found a house I liked, and had an offer accepted, and have been doing all the admin stuff, getting a survey, and searches etc. and was hoping we'd be ready to exchange in the next couple of weeks.

This afternoon, I got a call from the agents to say the sellers are pulling out. All very vague as to why - there'd been no sign of any problems, and as far as I can tell they are taking it off the market altogether (despite not actually living there right now)

So - two months down the line I need to start looking all over again.

Very depressing.

The really frustrating part is that there was, until last week, another propert in the same area and for a very similar price, which seems to have found a buyer in the last few days, so that's no longer an option.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

A Wet Weekend

I spent this weekend in Devon, at my parent's house (although not actually visiting them, as they are not there) It was relaxing, and I enjoyed the weekend, although I should have liked a little less rain.

On Saturday morning, I went (via a rather roundabout route) to the seaside. The roundabout route was because of one road closure - I knew this, and went so far as to check an actual paper map before setting off. However, I didn't know that there were also some other roads which were also closed but which (presumably because they were smaller roads, and had been closed for ages so anyone relevant, such as local people, already knew about them) there were no signs about. So my journey involved rather more in the way of detours than I'd planned.  But given I had no timetable to stick to  and the scenery is pretty, so it was not really a hardship.

It was a grey day, with intermittent drizzle, but it wasn't too cold, so  enjoyed a walk along the beach.

There were a few surfers (although I think the surf must have been a bit disappointing) but other than the occasional dog-walker I had the beach pretty much to myself.

I spent some time peering into rock-pools, where there were lots of sea-anemones, and snails, and tiny little shrimpy things. I also found lots of shells - tiny, red-gold scallop shells, and mussels, and fingernail shells.

Further down the beach, beyond the rocks, it was sandy, and the lack of people meant that the patterns left by the outgoing tide were undisturbed, and beautiful.

On Sunday, it was much greyer and damper, so I enjoyed a nice long lie-in (It was disappointing not to have my parents there, as usually, when I visit, one of them brings me a cup of tea in the morning, provided I stay in bed long enough)

A little later, when the rain stopped, I went for a walk near the village - it was rather muddy and damp, but very pretty!

I then went through the woods - the path was mostly mud, covered with a thick layer of beech leaves and mast.

There was also the occasional fallen tree, and the woods themselves were a contrast of green and gold and black, as some trees had lost more of their leaves than others.

The walk ended with a climb up a steep, sheep-filled field. Which came as a bit of a surprise to me, as I'd forgotten the last bit of the walk!

And it started to rain once again, just as i got back to the house, which gave me a good excuse for sitting inside and reading Terry Pratchett for a bit, before heading home.

All in all, a very nice, low-key weekend.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Music, and a Quest for Sustenance

I was delighted when I found out that Bath would be one of the calling points on the European leg of Marian Call's 'Postcard' Tour - I love her music, and had a fantastic time when she played at my house last year.

The show was on Wednesday - it was a long day, but fun!

The show was at the Friends Meeting House in Bath, which I don't think I've ever been in before, despite having lived here so long. We were down in the half-basement, which quickly filled up. It was good to see Marian and Scott again, and to see Tamzin (who came to the house concert) and one or two other familiar faces.

You won't be surprised to learn that I had a thoroughly enjoyable time - Marian played lots of old favourites, including 'Good Morning, Moon', 'Dear Mr Darcy' and 'The Avocado Song', and also sang songs from her new album, 'Sketchbook'. I particularly liked 'Elementary' (Which is about St George, and the dragon, with a soupcon of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock) and 'Paper and Pen' , a love-song to real, non-e-mail.

Scott played some of his songs, and, of course, there was audience participation with 'It's good to have Jayne on your side'

So much fun. (and Marian's was *not* the only Jayne hat in the hall, I noticed..) As this was part of the Post card tour, we all also got a lucky-dip postcard from Marian's mail bag (mine was written in Germany) and wrote and decorated cards to put back in the bag, for other fans to draw, or have posted to them.

After the show, a bunch of us helped to pick up in the hall, then headed out to look for food, for hungry musicians. Bath let us down rather - the pub we started with had stopped serving (which was a shame, as it looked really nice). So we went to an Indian Restaurant where, after ordering drinks, we found that they would not allow us to order light snacks - it was full meals or nothing, and as not everyone wanted to eat, we left.. (seems shortsighted of the restaurant - they weren't busy, and factoring in the drinks being bought they'd have been up on the deal even if not all of us had full meals..)

So, out into the dark Bath streets once again, on an increasingly desperate quest for food, which ended in a kebab shop, followed (after some sneaky, very quiet eating in the reception of Scott and Marian's hotel) by cocktails and conversation at Circo, where the conversation was wide-ranging (who knew how much entertainment could be had from a recitation of English place names?)

It was very late when I got back home, but I would not have missed it for anything, and do hope that we can continue to lure arian and Scott over here on a regular basis.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Thor: The Dark World (WARNING: some mild Spoilers!)

They've just built a new cinema in the town centre, which means I can now go to see films on impulse, rather than having to actually plan ahead, and on Sunday afternoon I decided to wander down there to see 'Thor: The Dark World' , because, well, why not?

I haven't actually seen 'Thor', although I have seen 'Avengers Assemble' and frankly, felt that anything with Tom Hiddleston's 'Loki' in it would be worth seeing!

And it was. Lots of  CGI, of course, lots of fighting, not quite enough Loki (when is there ever enough Loki?) plenty of humour. (I do like that the current crop of Marvel films don't take themselves too seriously).

I enjoyed the London based settings. I have to say that Sir Christopher Wren had excellent forethought, when he built the Royal Hospital at Greenwich to withstand alien invasion so well...

There were some minor annoyances -the tube scene - I mean, dammit, they were filming in London for months and no-one checked a tube map? (As those who know me know, I have all the sense of direction and navigational ability of a concussed kitten, and even *I* know the tube map better than that...) On a more serious note, I was a little disappointed in the Darcy character, who played into the 'geeky, socially inept woman' trope. And Jane Foster, despite being a highly qualified scientist, seems to spend a lot of the film moping over a man (well, demi-god) and/or waiting to be rescued, which is a little disappointing.

In terms of plot, I thought the Aether was a bit too much like the Star Trek reboot 'red matter' - Inexplicable, Evil Red Gloop, and there seemed to be a bit of a plot hole- how come the Dark Elves have technology equal to, or better than that of Asgard, given they've been asleep for 5,000 years? especially as Asgard have been fighting quite a few battles in the meantime, so presumably have been honing their weapons tech.

However, despite all these issues, I did very much enjoy the film, and I'm glad I went. I may even get around to watching the first film, now. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

Day to Day stuff

So, no exciting theatre trips or writers this week. In fact, the week started badly as I must have eaten something which disagreed with me, and since then it seems to have been nothing but rain and work, and work and rain.

And I'm working this Saturday, too.

I spent most of today on a course. I was pleasantly surprised with parts of it - if anyone had told me that Trusts could be made interesting (especially in the dead hour immediately after lunch) I would have mocked them mercilessly, but apparently it is possible. Of course, it may not be relevant unless I suddenly start to have lots of multi-millionaires wandering into my office, but still. If they do, I shall now feel more prepared.

Other parts were . . more what one expects of a CPD course..

This weekend I expect to be doing such thrilling things as raking up dead leaves, vacuuming the house and trying to organise my financial documents and shred the stuff which I don't need to keep.

So - not a lot in the way of excitement or bloggable activities.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Swans and Stuff in Stratford Upon Avon

As I was in Stratford upon Avon to see Richard II (or to see David Tennant, or to see friends, depending upon how you care to look at it), I was able also to spend some time wandering around the town.

The hotel my friend and I stayed at, is, at least in part, a Tudor building. It is immediately next to New Place (the site of the house Shakespeare bought when he became successful, and where he died)
Our Room.

Many of the rooms, as well as having numbers, have names, for various Shakespeare plays and characters.

We were a little worried when we saw our room...

I was relieved that pies weren't on the room service menu. and to be fair, our room was perfectly pleasant, and not, apparently, one of the haunted rooms which the hotel has (we did book on a cheapish deal. Perhaps they charge extra for the ghosts.)

In the morning we wandered around the town a little.
Swan Fountain
I really liked this sculpture - it was put up in 1996 to celebrate 800 years since the grant of the town's rights as market town.
The Swans of Avon
There were lots of real swans on the river, too.

Later, on my way home, I went via Mary Arden's house (in fact at least 2 houses, with a working farm)
Farmhouse at Mary Arden's house
Quite apart from the Shakespearean connection, it really is a town with more than its fair share of lovely buildings, both in and just outside the town.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Richard II

Back in March, when we saw that David Tennant would be playing Richard II at the RSC, some friends and I decided to book tickets, as what could be better that Shakespeare, David Tennant and friends?

The performance we had tickets for was yesterday evening, at the Royal Shakespeare theatre in Stratford Upon Avon.

I booked the whole day off work, and drive up in the morning, so 3 of us were able to meet up and have lunch, and then spend most of the afternoon (joined by the other two members of the party) catching up with one another's news, before a very nice pre-theatre dinner.

And then, the main event!

The Theatre
It was excellent. David Tennant as Richard II was superb, but the cast over all  was very strong - David Tennant is obviously the headline star but this is not a one man show - I was particularly impressed by Nigel Lindsay (Bolingbroke/Henry IV), who is presented as a blunt, plain-speaking man, a warrior, who does come over as, initially, seeking to recover his inheritance rather than to usurp the throne.

Unlike the other men in the play, who appear initially in mail, with swords, Richard is a regal, but frail-looking figure with long hair (Which takes a little getting used to) and long, formal robes - making a clear visual contrast between him and his courtiers.

I think Tennant is strongest in the later scenes in the play, as he loses his grip on his Kingdom. Richard does not come across as a likeable character - even in defeat, he is sarcastic, taunting Bolingbroke.

Michael Pennington's John of Gaunt was excellent - as the only other production of Richard II I have seen is the 'Hollow Crown' TV version, in which Patrick Stewart played Gaunt, so Pennington had a lot to live up to. And he did.

And a special mention is due to Oliver Rix (Aumerle), close to, and loving the King, but ultimately murdering him.
Picture from RSC website and (c) RSC
The only issue I had with the production was with some of the staging - there was a gantry at the back of the stage - we were a little worried that Richard and Aumerle were going to fall off, then later, during Act III Scene III, as Richard appears on the walls of Flint Castle - unfortunately, from our seats in the circle, the King was (apart from his ankles) wholly invisible. The ankles were very regal, but I cannot help but think that being able to see Mr Tennant in the full glory of his gold-embroidered robes might have been more impressive still. It seems a poor choice to have a critical scene in the play invisible to even part of the audience. But other than that, it was a superb production!

The Stratford and London runs are both, I believe, sold out, but the show is going to be broadcast live on 13th November. I recommend it.

Fun fact. On Friday morning, I heard David Tennant talking, on the radio, about a ring which was worn by Ian Richardson when he played Richard II, and given, by his widow, to David Tennant. 
Last night, he dropped it. Perhaps he has smaller fingers.