Photo an Hour #15

Saturday was the day I picked for October’s Photo an Hour. I am so glad that I have managed to keep up with doing one a month, because it means I get to cross off a 32 Before 32 item after next month. I have been so terrible this year with my birthday list that it’s nice to know that I’ll have achieved at least one more!


10am ~ I woke up late, because I was staying at my niece’s house, and she has the best blinds and curtains that block out all the light! I can’t remember the last time I woke up at 9.30, but I stayed in bed for a while and read my book!

11am ~ I toddled along to the library, because it has just reopened after a month of being closed for refurbishments. It’s still the smallest library in the world but it now has self-service machines. I picked up a couple of new books, even though I have enough at home to keep me going for years.


12pm ~ Reading in the bath. When I took this photo, I realised it meant that the first three photos of the day were centred around books, but that’s not an unusual Saturday morning for me! You’ll notice that it’s a different book from the one I was reading first thing, and that’s because I got this one from the library, and I have a tendency to start books as soon as I pick them up!

1pm ~ Doing some makeup and having a cup of tea. I got abuse from various members of my family on Facebook for the colour of my tea, because apparently it resembles warm milk rather than tea. I answered my critics as I usually do, with protests of YOU DON’T HAVE TO DRINK IT! Also, it had a filter on it.


2pm ~ Another item on my 32 Before 32 list is to learn to play chess. It’s been on various lists in the past, and I’ve never bothered to do anything about it. But Jen offered to teach me before we went out for the afternoon, and it turned out to be easier to pick up than I thought. It’s just a case of practicing and learning to think a couple of moves ahead. I can’t cross it off yet, but hopefully I will be able to before too long!

3pm ~ Jen and I left to pick up V and head to Anna’s, and halfway there, Jen realised she had forgotten her phone. After a fair amount of swearing, we headed back to hers to pick it up, and I took this photo of the wing mirror of her car. It made me laugh because I realised that I had caught Jen sprinting up her drive.


4pm ~ I struggled with a four o’clock photo, because we were just hanging around at Anna’s waiting to go out. I snapped this one because V was reading it!

5pm ~ Sing-a-longa Frozen! We were really excited to go, but the reality was a lot of children making a lot of noise. You expect this sort of thing at a Sing-a-longa event, but there aren’t usually this many children. Obviously we were expecting that, because it was Frozen on a Saturday afternoon, but I did think that lots of little girls dressed as princesses running up and down the aisles could have been avoided. Obviously it was amazing fun to sing along to Let it Go though.


8pm ~ No photos at 6 or 7pm, because we were watching the film, but by eight (or thereabouts) we were out and heading back to Anna’s for pizza. I took this while Hannah popped to the shop, and I had to retune the radio to Radio 2 to take the photo! What a loser!

9pm ~ I couldn’t think of a thing to take a photo of, because our pizza hadn’t arrived and we were just sitting around chatting. So I decided on the Face Game with Anna. Always a winner.

I wasn’t entirely happy with my photos this time round, mainly because I slept late, had to miss two hours out, and felt that many of the photos were taken in a rush! But they’ll do!

As ever, I encouraged friends, family and fellow bloggers to join in with me, and many of them did!

♥ Kim took part on Instagram
♥ Josie from Tales From the Finch’s Beak took part on Instagram
♥ Saskia took part on Instagram
♥ Rachael from Dear Ms Leigh took part on Twitter and on her blog
♥ Bev from Confuzzledom took part on her blog
♥ Hazel from World of Joy took part on her blog
♥ Laura Jade from Love Live Laugh took part on her blog
♥ The Girl from Just Me took part on her blog
♥ Sharon from Sunshine and Celandines took part on Instagram and on her blog
♥ Louise from Duck in a Dress took part on Instagram and on her blog

That’s a lot of people, maybe the most ever! I love seeing everyone’s photos, so I always hope to have lots of people joining in, and then I rely on Louisa to remember the date when I forget and very kindly remind people that the date is imminent. She’s a star!

Next month’s Photo an Hour will take place on Saturday 8th November, just in time to get it done for my birthday! Let me know if you’ll be joining in!

Things I Have Learned This Week 004

Things That Would Be Helpful in a Pub Quiz

♥ The oldest zoo in the world is located in the ground of Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. It dates back to 1752.

♥ Thor Heyerdahl was a Norwegian ethnographer (study of people and cultures) and adventurer. He sailed across the Pacific Ocean in a raft he built by hand, called Kon-Tiki.

♥ Blackbeard’s real name was Edward Teach, or Edward Thatch.

♥ The Struve Geodetic Arc is a chain of survey triangulations that starts in Norway and stretches for 2820km to the Black Sea. The survey was the designed to help establish the exact size of the planet.

♥ From east to west, Hawaii is the widest US state, but it would fit inside Texas around forty times.

♥ The term Spandau Ballet refers to the twitching that would occur to the bodies of people hanged at Spandau prison. The band Spandau Ballet used it when it was seen written on a toilet wall and decided on as a good name for a band.

Things That Wouldn’t Be Helpful in a Pub Quiz

♥ The rules of chess aren’t as hard to learn as I had assumed.

♥ Watching clips of old Neighbours characters dying is not a bad way to spend a Saturday night with your besties.

♥ It’s a month until my birthday, and the chances of me completing more than a couple more of my 32 Before 32 list are minimal.

♥ When Mark Kermode retweets you, you get a lot of replies and favourites and retweets.

Book Review ~ The BFG by Roald Dahl

The BFG is one of those books that I had always almost assumed that I had read, without really ever thinking about. We have always had a copy in the house, and it’s Roald Dahl, so I must have read it, surely? Only when I saw that it had been published in 1982, and therefore would count towards my challenge of reading ten books from the year I was born, I realised that I hadn’t read it.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for 32 years and don’t know the story of The BFG, it starts with a little girl called Sophie who is kidnapped from her bedroom in an orphanage by a giant. Never having seen a giant before, Sophie is obviously terrified, but it soon transpires that she has had the good luck to be captured by the only Big Friendly Giant that there is. The rest of the giants are child-eating monsters, going out every night to gobble up children all over the world, and Sophie and the BFG concoct a plan to stop them.

The first thing to say is that like most British people of a certain age, I’ve always considered myself a huge Roald Dahl fan. I read Matilda at a young age, and like many bookish children, it really struck a chord. I didn’t have an awful childhood like Matilda, but I did love books, and I loved how much she loved books. We read the likes of George’s Marvellous Medicine and James and the Giant Peach at school, and I read Going Solo as an adult and I loved it. So I fully expected to love The BFG, and I was ultimately a little underwhelmed by it.

It can be hard to judge a book that was written for children when reading it as an adult. Particularly when I didn’t read it and love it as a child, and so have no nostalgia for it. Ultimately I think that I would have found it entertaining and funny as a child, and I think it’s probably still going to appeal to children today. But reading it as an adult didn’t hold that same appeal to me. I found myself getting slightly irritated at the language that the BFG used because he didn’t know the right words. Again, I know this would have amused me as a child, but as an adult, it didn’t.

I liked the descriptions of how children across the world tasted, depending on which country they came from. I particularly liked the description of English children.

I is very fond of English school-children. They has a nice inky-books flavour.

The climax of the book sees Sophie and the BFG convincing the Queen that giants are real, and that something has to be done about the barbaric ones. This part of the book is problematic to me, but mainly because I’m reading a thirty-year old book in 2014. I’m not one of these people that thinks that Adventures of Huckleberry Finn should be banned because of the amount of times a racial slur is used. The word isn’t acceptable now, but it was in common usage then, and the book is an important book about slavery. But The BFG has a lot to say about the leaders of the world when the Queen decides she needs some help, and it’s not all good. The ‘Sultan of Baghdad’ chops people’s heads off “like you are chopping parsley”, don’t you know? I understand that an author could write such a thing in the early 80s and get away with it, but it was no more right then than it is now, and as we’re more sensitive to causing offence these days, is it fine to just read something like that and say “Oh, it was a different time!”, especially bearing in mind that we are reading these things to our children? There’s also the description of the Big Friendly Giant compared to the child-eating giants. Children might not necessarily pick up on it, but it’s clear to any adult that the difference between them is that the BFG has pale skin, and the others have dark skin.

There’s no denying that Roald Dahl has an amazing imagination, and that he created worlds for children to escape into and fall in love with. His particular talent, I think, is taking ordinary children from the ordinary world, and placing them in magical and mystical situations. The BFG certainly fulfils this, but for me, as a 21st century adult, there was too much I didn’t like about it, and I think if I ever had children, I’d probably think twice about sharing this particular Dahl classic with them.

The BFG by Roald Dahl
First published: 1982
ISBN: 9780141311371
Puffin Books
Own copy

Four down, six to go on number one of 32 Before 32 – read ten books from 1982.


Right now, I am mostly…

Listening : I bought the Pride soundtrack, after some deliberation, and I’m so glad I did. it’s such a lot of fun, and despite only having had it for a day, I’ve already danced around my living room several times to various tracks. it’s also making me want to go to and see it again. I don’t think I can wait for the DVD!

Completing : Last night, having watched Silent Running on Netflix, I completed my goal to watch 52 films in 52 weeks. It’s the earliest I’ve managed it since I started challenging myself in 2012, so I’m contemplating setting myself the challenge of 100 films next year. It might be a bit ambitious though!

Eating : Last week Hannah excitedly said to me, “I’ve got you a present!” and then gave me a bag of these chocolates. They were dairy-free, having come from VegFest UK the previous weekend, but they tasted fine to me, despite her worries. They were a bit like cheap advent calendar chocolate, which isn’t the nicest in the world, but it’s chocolate, so who cares? Anyway, the most exciting thing was that they were shaped like characters from Doctor Who and Star Wars! I forgot that they were in my bag, so they melted slightly, and Yoda’s ear fell off, but that doesn’t detract from how amazing they are.

Helping : I helped out with a Girlguiding trip on Saturday, with Anna. Sometimes they don’t have enough adults for things, and because I’m a truly wonderful person, I do my best to help out. This time it was the Big Gig at Wembley, a concert held specifically for Girl Guides at which we saw such luminaries as Neon Jungle, Kingsland Road, Union J and Mike Dignam. I’ve never heard of them either, but to counteract all of them, we saw Diversity and Little Mix (also Stacey Solomon). I love Little Mix, so I was pretty excited, and I even had a little dance, taking care not to embarrass any of the children, of course! (Apologies for the terrible iPhone concert photography!)

Travelling : I uploaded two photos of the A12 to Instagram this week, giving the false impression that I have spent a lot of time on it recently. I haven’t, no more than usual, but the sky always seems more lovely on a long road, so I took a couple of snaps.

The Bookish Side of Life #3

If you know me but at all, you’ll know that there are two things I love (almost) more than anything: books, and Radio 2. Today, those two things collide in spectacular fashion, as the best radio station in the world (ever) celebrates Radio 2 Book Club Day.

For us bookworms, we don’t have the pleasure of seeing our favourite hobby discussed on television very much. There will be the odd documentary, and a season of programmes if it happens to be the anniversary of a prominent author, but there’s no regular programme where books are reviewed and discussed, or authors interviewed. One of my favourite programmes of recent years was My Life in Books, which ran for two series, and featured various well known people talking about the books that have influenced their lives. It was such a novelty to watch a show that featured people talking passionately about the books that they love, but the last episode aired in March 2012, and aside from repeats, it doesn’t seem as though it will be coming back.

~ Photo by Janaina C. Falklewicz on Flickr ~

So, we have to turn to the radio to get our bookish fix. Luckily, BBC Radio have obviously realised that people like hearing authors talking about their books, and other people talking about the books they love, and so there’s rather a lot of choice. The Radio 2 Book Club takes place on the Drive Time show every other week, and features the team discussing a new book with the author, and a selection of listeners’ comments. (I keep hoping to get picked as a reviewer, but I’m still waiting.) The featured writers vary from experienced authors with a large bibliography to explore (John Boyne, Jo Nesbo and Robert Harris, for example), to exciting debut novelists. I’ve recently reviewed The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker, and We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride, both of which were Radio 2 Book Club choices, and both of which I loved.

Radio 4 is also committed to regular programmes about books, with Bookclub with James Naughtie, and Open Book with Mariella Frostrup. I don’t listen to either as often as I should, but a huge archive of episodes are available for both shows, and I have plans to download some to listen to on the bus. I expect my ‘Want to Read’ list to go through the roof! There’s also the Book at Bedtime and Book of the Week, which have featured some crackers in the past, and are definitely responsible for many items on that aforementioned list.

So, as I mentioned, today is Radio 2 Book Club Day. There’s stuff going on all day: a ‘battle of the bards’ was on Chris Evans this morning, Jeremy Vine has Howard Jacobson in to contribute to the ‘What Makes Us Human’ series (you should catch up on some of the previous speakers if you haven’t heard them already). Then Simon Mayo’s Drivetime show is coming live from Cheltenham Literature Festival (somewhere I am determined to go sometime!) with David Nicholls, Michael Rosen, Rachel Joyce and Charlie Higson. Bookworms everywhere can rejoice!

As you can see, Radio 2 and Radio 4 have us covered pretty well between them with all things books. I’m sure I’m not alone in my love of hearing people talk passionately about books. I love finding out about the best new books that are on their way, and I love discovering classics that have shaped people’s reading and writing habits. And everyone knows that radio is better than television anyway.

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