smallhobbit: (Default)
I wouldn't normally see two different productions of the same play within the space of two months - inevitably the two will be compared, and anyway there are lots of other plays out there.  But on this occasion it was inevitable.  I had already booked to see Greg Hicks when Antic Disposition announced their new tour.  We really enjoyed their production of Henry V last year, and I would have looked at seeing them again anyway, but since they were once more in Gloucester Cathedral I had to go.

The play was performed in the choir and right at the edge of the presbytery - the doors at either end providing entrances.  There was very little in the way of props, two thrones at one end, some boxes to give added height occasionally at the other, but their absence didn't matter.  Again it was in modern dress, suits for the most part, formal army dress for Richard on his coronation, battle dress for the battle.  The parts of the two young princes were played by two of the female actors, who also played two of the queens, so smart outfits as queens, torn jeans as princes.

Richard, played by Toby Manley, was excellent as the manipulative future king.  At one point, after his wooing of Anne he turned round smiling broadly at the audience.  I was smiling broadly too and he grinned at me.  We were sitting in the front seats of the choir.

There was plenty of engagement with the audience.  In anticipation of the young Prince Edward's arrival in London, Catesby handed out flags to wave.  I was slightly disappointed SM was given one and I wasn't - but he waved his furiously at the right moment.

One of the things I particularly liked was that as the various characters were killed they would take their place at one end of the space as silent witnesses to the following action.  The characters alternated, so it didn't become overcrowded, but I felt it was particularly effective.

Apart from the young princes, there were a number of other actors who had two roles, but it wasn't noticeable and without looking at the programme I wouldn't have been aware of who was who.  In particular one actor played both Rivers and Richmond and I would never have realised.

It was a really good production, very different from the last one I'd seen, and one I'd recommend.

Gloucester Cathedral )
It's taken from the Organ Loft.  We were sat about half way down at the front on the right.
smallhobbit: (Guy)
The more astute among you will possibly realise I rather like Richard Armitage.  Even the guy at work who transferred all my phone details to my new phone probably knows this, although he may not realise who it is.

So, recently RA did the voice for one of the characters on Castlevania, an anime of a computer game thingy on Netflix.  I do not like anime, I don't play computer games and I don't have Netflix.  But ...  It turned out with Netflix you get a one month free trial before having to start paying - so there was nothing lost.  And there were only four episodes of about 20-25 minutes each, which meant I could space them out nicely over four days.  Or in fact, watch all four in an evening.  Much to my surprise I enjoyed it, and am now looking forward to the new season next year.  Yes, there is a lot of swearing, and blood and gore (but if I can sit in the front row for Titus Andronicus I can cope), but in fact it was fun.

RA has also been in a film called Pilgrimage.  At first I wasn't going to watch it (lots more violence and unpleasantness) but the premise sounded interesting, and the question of the role of religion in the lives of the people is one I'm interested in.  So, when [personal profile] vix_spes  said she'd got a copy of the DVD for £7 from Sainsbury's I nipped into one on my way to work - and it went through the till for a fiver.  It's an interesting film, which I might watch again.  A proportion of the film is in Irish or French, and the subtitles weren't very easy to see - or at least not from my position behind the ironing board (no guilt whatsoever to watching a DVD during the day if I'm doing the ironing!) but I was taken with it.  And not just because of Raymond de Merville.

And I'm still waiting for Berlin Station to make it to Netflix UK!
smallhobbit: (Thorin)
I took part in the Multi-Fandom Drabble Exchange on AO3, which was great fun.  It worked on the same basis as any exchange, with the ficlets all being drabbles.  So nice and quick, with the possibility of writing treats and generally enjoying yourself.

I was very fortunate in receiving one gift and three treats.  One of my requests had been for The Hobbit, Thorin Oakenshield/Bilbo Baggins, and I received my gift Growing Things, plus two treats, For You and Gems of the Garden.  In addition I received Heatwave, a Forever treat.

I wrote a Life on Mars drabble Beware of Gene Bearing Drinks and a Call The Midwife pinch hit Speak Through the Earthquake, Wind and Fire.  And then two treats, an anthropomorfic knitting drabble Fair Isle and another Call the Midwife drabble Learning from the Television.

The Drabble Exchange was new for me, but I've also recently taken part again in Not Prime Time, which is an exchange for medium sized fandoms, which are too big for Yuletide, but don't tend to have their own exchanges.

I received a Forever fic as a gift, Acts of Kindness and unaware of it managed to write a treat for my author in the same fandom: Abe's Bet.  My own assignment was once more Call the Midwife, Even on Holiday.  And lastly there was an irresistible Spooks Adam Carter/Lucas North prompt, which produced Under Surveillance.  I chose to write a slightly different take on Adam and Lucas first working together, although somehow the final outcome may be similar.
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Faithful readers of this blog will know that sometime last month I asked if anyone wanted to ask me something.  Most of you already know far more about me than is strictly necessary, but [personal profile] aome  asked how I got involved with Brownies in the first place.

The simple answer, which is probably the same for three-quarters of leaders, is because the daughter's Guide Unit needed help.  But there's more to why I'm still involved.

To begin at the very beginning:  The daughter was always a very enthusiastic guiding member.  She began Rainbows a little above the minimum age, but the first time she went she came home asking if I could sponsor her, could she go to an event, and when did she get her uniform.  When she moved onto Brownies she had the option of joining two trips at the end of the summer term, or waiting until the autumn - there was no question, she was going on the trips.  And so onto Guides - one week there and she's signed up for camp the following month.

So when her unit were in desperate need of help, I wanted to make sure she could continue with something she enjoyed.  I started as a Unit Helper, but was persuaded to take the qualification and become an Assistant Leader.  And inevitably the leader moved with her husband, and I took the final part of the qualification to become the Unit Leader.  The daughter got older and moved onto Explorer Scouts.

Time passed, and my Assistant Leader could no longer help.  The daughter took GCSEs and started college, where she was residential.  We needed to pay for the accommodation which meant I needed to find a full-time job (I had worked part-time whilst the kids were growing up.)  So with less time and less help I did one further term as Unit Leader, but then was forced to close the unit.

I still wanted to do 'something' and having had involvement with the Scouts whilst the daughter was there, I went to help with a Beaver Scout unit.  It turned out that Scouting wasn't for me.  So after a couple of terms I stopped.

And enquired at the village Brownie pack whether I could be of assistance.  I knew the leaders from my time with the Guides, and had helped them with the annual London trip and on other odd occasions.  Strangely enough, it turned out that an experienced pair of hands would be very welcome.  So I completed the group specific part of the qualification, so I could lead Brownies.  Then, when one of the Brownie leaders proposed starting a new Guide Unit in the nearby town I offered to help and provide experience of the Guide programme.  So for two terms I was doing both Brownies and Guides.  (By that point I had changed job again and was working slightly less hours).

Then, when we moved to Gloucester, I asked one of my current Brownie Leaders if she knew a pack I could join.  She recommended the one I'm at now, which was ideal because it suited my style of leadership.  So, 14 years later, I'm still involved as a Brownie leader.
smallhobbit: (Lestrade trio)
I was discussing this theme on Twitter with [personal profile] loz  and said I had sufficient thoughts that I would write a blog post.  And then promptly didn't - in part because that was the day I then went to see Titus Andronicus, which isn't condusive to such thoughts.  But now it's come up again as the Trope for the Day on [community profile] ushobwri  and [personal profile] brumeier  has asked for our thoughts.  So no escape.

It's not a trope I'm that keen on, partly because two of the fandoms I belong to seem desperate to make it happen.  Yes, one is Sherlock (principally the BBC version) and also Lewis.  If that's the way you like things that's fine, I'm not saying it's wrong at all, just that it doesn't appeal to me.  I have come across too many fics where the writer has contrived to bring the two together and suddenly it's wonderful.  There are times when remaining as friends would be perfectly acceptable.

So where does that leave me, and my most written pairings?  Which isn't to say I don't write other pairings for gift fics or for friends, but here I'm concentrating on my favourites.

My first fandom was Life on Mars - the UK version.  And the classic Sam/Gene.  They snark, they argue, they get to know each other better, and the relationship begins.  Now it may be my age, or my outlook, but I don't see that the relationship has to immediately include sex, but this is more than just friends.

Onto BBC's Sherlock.  I don't see Sherlock/John.  John/Greg yes - they see each other in a professional context and realise they want to get to know each other better.  For me it's fairly quick.  I'm currently not writing this pairing.  Sherlock/Stanley Hopkins - again a professional interest moves on to something deeper quite quickly - of course, this is Hopkins of the Met River Police, entirely my own creation based on ACD's Hopkins.

ACD Sherlock Holmes - Nothing will ever take Mary Morstan/John Watson away from me.  This post-hiatus Holmes/Watson is one of my few real friends to lovers, but as the relationship is described only in the Sussex Retirement 'verse it all happened in the past, so doesn't really count as a trope.  Watson reflects on the relationship in the first in the series A Quiet Retirement.

So to Lewis.  I liked Laura Hobson/Robbie Lewis, until the series seemed to spoil it for me.  In Oxford Tales I have Lewis and Hathaway working together and then moving in together, but there's never any description of how it happens.

Two of my other fandoms are both rare pairs.  Adam Carter/Lucas North in Spooks - there's a spark between them from early on, it takes time to catch light because Lucas is mentally scarred, but it's more slow burn than friends to lovers (some might say I'm being pedantic, but they both know what's happening).  And Guy/Much in Robin Hood (BBC) - in my world there's an instant attraction, and since I'm the only one who writes it, I can claim it's the only interpretation ;)

So no, as a trope friends to lovers doesn't particularly appeal.  Friday's Trope of the Day on [community profile] ushobwri  is Established Relationships and I shall be sharing my thoughts there ;)
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Sad, in that we will be losing some Brownies who've made a real contribution to the pack.  However, I have no problem with having a break ;)

Last week we made code breakers, which proved yet again the simplest things will provide a challenge.  How, when Brown Owl has drawn the circle for you to cut out, does your disc turn out half the size it should be?  But with the expected help for the youngest girls nearly everyone managed to write and decode a message.  The Brownie who we know has difficulties was carefully colouring in her code breaker, but not attempting to write a message.  I suspect she really didn't understand the idea, so I went to help her and we agreed she'd write an important message for her mother to decode.  Mum was happy to try when I told her when she picked her daughter up.  The message was indeed important "I like ice cream".

This week we finished with games, active games and quieter games interspersed, as it had been a hot day.  We asked each of the three girls who were leaving to choose a game, which meant we played Port & Starboard, Wink Murder, and The Colour Game.  Followed by Screech Owl Says as we still had some time.  We then finished with an enrollment, before going home for the holidays.

We shall most certainly miss our leavers.  One Brownie has been with us since she was just 7 and has been very enthusiastic and helpful; she was made Sixer of a six which for nearly two years hadn't worked well together and really turned them round.  One Brownie had transferred over when her previous pack closed, and only spent a year with us, but again has really added to the pack.  Her mother brought each of the leaders a bottle of wine as a thank you, which was very kind, and totally unexpected.  And our final Brownie has been really committed to us, even though at times she's had less support from her family - it was her younger sister who was enrolled, and mum, another sister, and mum's partner all came to the enrollment.  Which was proof of how they must value what we do.

I wrote before that Brown Owl wants to stand down.  With no sign of anyone coming to help she will continue, because she doesn't want the pack to fold.  Various people came up to ask us when she was leaving, which shows they had read the magazine article I'd written.  Unfortunately no-one also volunteered to help.  I've just put a post on Facebook, under the "Spotted in XYZ" section, which has produced three people who say they're interested.  We shall see.  Meanwhile, I've just arranged for us to visit the Police Control Centre early next term - so many things I wouldn't get to do if I didn't go to Brownies ;)
smallhobbit: (Default)
Since removing "Read more and widely" from my goals from the year, I seem to have slipped in the amount I've read.  This is partly because I no longer feel obliged to keep up with my goals, but also because the last few books I've read haven't been of the 'I'll just finish the chapter, ooh look, it ended on a cliffhanger, need to know what happens next' type.  Hopefully this will improve now, because I'm also behind on my Goodreads Reading Challenge, which is Not Good.

A Brief History of Norway by John Midgaard

I knew very little about Norway's history and the subject itself was interesting, but the book was originally published in 1963, and my edition dated from 1982.  It read like a dry school textbook from my school days.  The best part was having read about the Vikings and then visiting the Museum in York and seeing some of their artefacts.

You have breath for no more than 99 words.  What would they be?  collected by Liz Gray

The idea behind this book is very interesting.  What would you say if you only had 99 words (at most) to say it?  Some of the contributors were profound, others much less so.  I read it prior to beginning one of my Twelve Challenges, which I've recently started: Ninety-nine Words and which I will be continuing throughout this month.  I suspect I may get more from putting the words in my characters' mouths than I did from some of the entries.

Blood of Tyrants by Naomi Novik

Book 8 of the Temeraire series, and for me a real disappointment.  I found it dragged and I missed the interaction with the officers and dragons who had been such a major part of previous books.  Not only that, but whereas in earlier books my competency kink was very satisfied, here Lawrence and Temeraire were forever battling incompetence.  There is one book left of the series.  I had originally anticipated finishing the series this summer, but it looks more like sometime this autumn.
smallhobbit: (Default)
I hadn't originally planned to see the RSC's production of Titus Andronicus - it's really not a play you want to see too often, but when I learned they had cast David Troughton in the title role I decided I would go after all.  SM declined - he had come with me on the previous occasion, and as I said, it's not a play you see regularly.  On that occasion Stephen Boxer had been in the lead role, so I was interested to see how the two actors compared.  (I've seen them both as Gloucester in King Lear).  I find it quite hard to remember the last performance, but looking back it was nearly four years ago when we saw it.

It was a really good production.  It always feels slightly wrong to say I enjoyed the play, but I did.  David Troughton has an amazing ability to bring in the humour which acts as such a strong contrast to the horrendous events which are being portrayed.  It was a strong cast overall.  I was particularly taken with Patrick Drury, who plays Titus' brother Marcus.  Of the 20 in the cast, 13 are in their RSC debut season, and I would certainly be very happy to see any of them again.

It's a modern dress production and in fact feels quite up to date.  The themes of the play all seem very relevant to life today, even if the outworkings aren't as physical.  Once more the musicians were excellent, and the music adds to the play.  Even at one point having four trombonists marching on the stage (three trombonists are credited in the programme, I am assuming the trumpeter doubled up for this role).

The set is extremely well done.  At one end is the Capitol and the seat of power, enclosed by wire meshing, and very cut-off from the rest of humanity.  In the centre of the main stage (it's a thrust stage) a square section descends and ascends and thus provides for all the necessary stage furniture, which is limited to the small space.  This means that everything is merely a prop for the action, rather than dominating it.

As a play, Titus Andronicus is never going to be one that's much recommended, but I would certainly commend the production.  So, if you want to see every single Shakespeare play, this might be one way of doing so.
smallhobbit: (Holmes Watson train)
Last week, when I was burbling on about needing topics to write about, [personal profile] nagi_schwarz  asked when did I start getting into ACD Holmes, reading, writing or both.  To give it a proper answer clearly needed a post of its own.

I don't remember when I first read some of the Holmes stories, no doubt some time back in my dim and distant youth.  Sherlock Holmes is part of our culture.  I can use Holmes' references in my 'talks in the sermon slot' without it seeming strange.  I can remember watching many of the Granada Holmes programmes - which inevitably get repeated on a semi-regular basis.  And yes, I can normally identify the case within a minute when the television gets switched on partway through an episode.

I can, however, pinpoint when I first wrote ACD Holmes, being August 2011.  I had gone to the first London Sherlock (BBC) picnic and one of those present, Amy, told me about [community profile] sherlock60  so I reread the story and wrote my first 60.  That was towards the beginning of Round 1.  For Round 2 I wrote The Ocelot Tales - each 60 being 'written' by an animal involved in the story, or plausibly within the story.  The Ocelot had made his first appearance in The Veiled Lodger in Round 1.  Mouselet, and her love of Inspector Stanley Hopkins, turned up in Round 2.  [personal profile] scfrankles  took over for Round 3, with my assistance, and I wrote a variety of 60s, often picking up on the cases Watson mentions at the beginning but never gives any details.  Round 4 I wrote articles for The Marylebone Monthly Illustrated, edited by the Ocelot, sub-editor the Sloth.  And now we are drawing to the end of Round 5, for which I've written The Private Journal of Dr Watson, which is being serialised in the MMI.  At the end of this round [personal profile] scfrankles  and I will hand the reins over to [personal profile] alafaye  and take a back seat.

In the meantime we also set up [community profile] holmes_minor  as a ACD Holmes community for ficlets of no more than 500 words, plus other fun activities.  This will be continuing with its monthly prompt, a monthly activity, and Frankles has assured me Mrs Hudson will be bringing her poetry corner over there.

Plus, whilst this has been going on, I have written various other fics in the Holmesian canon.  I've got 113 listed on AO3!  Some have been humour, for example the series At The Drop of A Deerstalker, Tales from the Broom Cupboard, and Ferret Tales (part of The Ocelot Collection).  I still enjoy writing casefics, as well as Sussex Retirement, which is a rather more gentle look at Holmes and Watson in retirement.  And I'm pleased with A Study in Recuperation, which is set in 1918 and brings Watson to work in a recuperation home for wounded officers, where he meets two of his former companions.

In summary, nearly six years ago I wrote 60 words, which have led onto very many more, and not just words, but friends as well.

And lastly, because the MMI has many contributors, including Inky Quill, may I recommend his June entry, as transcribed by Okapi.


Jun. 25th, 2017 09:34 pm
smallhobbit: (Default)
Anne-Marie Duff in a play at the National Theatre - sounds good to me.  It sounded good to SM too, so we booked a night at a Travelodge for after and looked forward to it.  Since we were going to the matinée, and since SM only works Friday mornings at the moment we decided we'd go up the night before which would make it less of a rush, and I booked another Travelodge - in Teddington.  Do not stay there - I have just sent off a complaint.  If it wasn't for the fact we've never had problems before (odd hiccups, but they've always been resolved, and the one time that wasn't possible we instantly got a voucher for our next stay) we wouldn't use them again.  Richmond was fine the second night.

But I digress.  Common is a new play by DC Moore.  It's set in the 1810s at the height of the enclosure act, and Mary (Anne-Marie Duff) has returned to her home village after years away.  Mary is not what she initially seems - and even by the end of the play it's not clear what her role truly is.  And that is part of the problem with the play.  Although there are lots of different things happening, the play seems one paced and at times somewhat improbable.  The improbability would be okay if the play truly had a fantastical layer, but this is supposed to be very earthy and therefore, by implication, realistic.

The lighting is very atmospheric, and the music fits well with the action.  But I was neither swept up in the plot, or invested in Mary or any of the other characters.  As the play progressed, Mary felt more like a super-woman, with inexplicable abilities, which again didn't settle with where the play seemed to be going.  A play can take its audience in unexpected directions, but there needs to be reasoning as to why things happen (however bizarre the reasons may be) and we felt it failed.

The reviews have been mostly 2* (the Guardian awarded 3*, but liked the way it didn't make sense, calling it exciting, I beg to differ), but Anne-Marie Duff was good and did justice to Mary (the faults were in the characterisation, not the acting), and since we had £15 Travelex tickets I won't complain.  I'm glad we went - and we enjoyed our weekend away - but I wouldn't particularly recommend the play.
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
Last week was badge night.  We had a special badge tester in - an ex-guider - to do a lot of the testing, and we picked up a few.  We were all, including our tester, extremely impressed with the variety of badges the Brownies had chosen, and the standard they achieved.  Just so you know what a Brownie can do, with a little help at home, here's the full list: Booklover, Cook (more buns, colourfully iced), Fire Safety (which last week proved very appropriate), Sport (Football - most of it signed off by her coach, I did the final clause), Brownie Skills, Home Skills, Hostess (2 of, cups of tea for all leaders), Craft (3 of), Designer, Friend to Animals (she's adopted a cheetah - the toy version came in), and Wildlife Explorer.

And this week we all worked for our World Traveller badge.  Once their passports had been issued, the Brownies were divided into three groups (one of the sixes was split to join the other three sixes) to tackle three tasks (aka badge clauses).  The first task was to play Kim's Game, which is where a selection of items are laid on a tray, and the girls had to remember and list them afterwards.  There were a selection of souvenirs from various countries, together with cookery and guide books; one of my dragons and Edel Lion came to help.  The Brownies individually listed what they could remember and then each group combined their list to see if they'd remembered everything.  Each group managed 15 out of the 17 items, which is good.  Strangely, they all forgot the suntan lotion.

The next task was a quiz identifying which countries the international car registration marks related to.  I had chosen all European countries, some easier than others, including GBZ for our recent transfer from Gibraltar.  Two of the groups managed quite well, with some surprises as to who knew what.  One group floundered, but Brown Owl was there to assist.

The final task gave each girl a cardboard doll to colour with the correct uniform for a Brownie (or the equivalent) from around the world.  My flist, as ever, turned up trumps, so I had details from Ireland, France, Switzerland, USA, Canada and Australia for them to choose from.  On the back of the doll they wrote the country, the date when GirlGuiding started there, and what they would be called if they were guiding in that country.  For a simple task it was really popular and there were several requests to take the dolls home, which all of them did.

Lastly, they went into their two language groups, and after a quick revision, the French speakers and the Spanish speakrs faced each other, counted from one to ten, said Hello, Thank you, and Goodbye.  And a number of them looked pleased at what they'd remembered.

For each completed task they received a stamp on the back of their passports.  And with four stamps they all received a badge.  They then went home with badge, passport and doll, together with their individual badges for the week before.

World traveller
smallhobbit: (Sloth)
 I've started this blogpost a couple of times, but couldn't decide what to ramble about.

Should I talk about spending my hard-earned cash (I'm getting a new phone, because shiny and on offer; and we're getting the gas boiler replaced)?  I could mention a little about my grandfathers and father and other relatives.  Maybe I could mutter about Dreamwidth, but really I've said most of it before.

I don't even have any memes lined up to do.

So instead I'm throwing it open to you, dear flist.  Is there anything you'd like to know about me?  Ask away, and I'll attempt to answer in the comments.  Or if I've got lots to say on the subject then I might even give it a post of its own.

ETA: I've just found a [community profile] holmestice  treat written for me, which is brilliant.  If you haven't seen it already, do take a look: The Case of the Six Marmalades

2nd ETA: Title changed in case anyone did.

smallhobbit: (Edel Lion)
SM has been off doing a singing workshop today, leaving me at home with nothing particularly pressing.  I have however been reasonably productive!

Apart that is from the usual puttering around on the internet, catching up with emails/LJ comments/fic reading, and the washing - which has dried nicely and is waiting for me to bring it in!

I have thought about the 'talk in the sermon slot' I'm doing next month and got an idea of where I'm going with it.  Have also thought about the talk for tomorrow's Combined Family Praise Fathers' (and Others') Day service.

I have written part of the chapter two of my Gen Bingo fic.  This is the one which follows on from Master Baggins the Baker's Son.  I have vague ideas, which are changing as I write, but so far I'm pleased with the way it's going.  Incidentally, Master Baggins is my most kudos fic for 2017, and my top five kudos fics this year are all The Hobbit and Bagginshield.

I have done the edits for my Not Prime Time exchange fic, with many thanks to [personal profile] thewhitelily  for her hard work in beta-ing it and saying 'this needs another sentence of explanation/reaction'.  All very true - I particularly appreciate her help, since it was a fandom she doesn't know.

I have booked tickets for a play.  This is put on by a new company Elliot & Harper Productions at London's Wyndhams Theatre.  The play Heisenberg will star Anne-Marie Duff (the reason for booking) and Kenneth Cranham.  The company are the ones who will also be putting on a play directed by Yael Harper, in which there are rumours Richard Armitage will star.  But ignoring that possibility for the moment SM and I are going between Christmas and New Year, and having a couple of days in London as well, which should be good.  I can see the run up to Christmas being busy, and learning from Easter, having a proper break afterwards seems like a good idea.

And lastly, apart of course from writing this blog post, I have ordered the Active Kids equipment for the Sainsbury's vouchers we collected.  It was quite difficult to decide what to get, but in the end we're having an earth ball - a ball with a map of the world printed on it, which should be good both for games and when we talk about Brownies around the world.  They also do gardening equipment, so I've ordered a set of small plant pots and saucers which we can use for a craft/gift/activity.  And with the remaining vouchers I selected a stop watch - we've been using a phone as a timer, but this would be easier - and a couple of food containers, which we can use for general storage.  Not a bad haul at all.

Hope your're all having a good weekend too!
smallhobbit: (Default)
Two months since I set my goals for 2017/18 so time to see what progress has been made.

Goal No 1 - Write all the things

Wordage wise I remain on target, which is good.  I wrote slightly less in April, but picked up again in May.  And I've discovered AUs, of which up to now I've only written the occasional one.  Yes, I know the Ocelot Tales are AUs, but since Holmes and Watson remain more or less in character I don't class this as a pure AU.  Similarly Sussex Retirement, although not their actual retirement, is an extension of the characters' lives.  But since I've signed up to [community profile] whatif_au  apart from the inevitable Hobbit fic for 'Everyone Lives' AU, I've written a western AU (again for the Hobbit) and a soulmark AU (Spooks).

I have managed to add some more badges for [community profile] fan_flashworks  including the Unimaginable, which means I've written for every challenge for the past three years - yay!

Goal No 2 - A Monthly Pastoral Assitant Post

This I am doing, and there is another one scheduled to be written at the end of this month.  I'm pleased I'm committed to doing this, as it is keeping track of what and how much I'm involved in, otherwise I think I would assume I wasn't doing very much.

Goal No 3 - Try Twelve New Things

Two down, ten to go.  I've roughly sketched out what I shall try when, so the more craft based challenges will be spread out over the autumn/winter, rather than concentrated in three months.

I'm currently reading the book mentioned by DebrisWoman "You have breathe for no more than 99 words.  What would they be?"  My intention, as a writing exercise, is to take a number of the characters I write and let them write their 99 (or less) words.  If there's anyone you would particularly like to see, please let me know.
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
So, back at Brownies for the last few weeks before the summer holidays.  We have a slightly smaller pack at the moment, having lost two Brownies and we don't take new ones on for these weeks, as it's not worth it.  One Brownie was the one with the impossible mother; the other we were sorry to see go, but understood why.  She's gone to join Cubs with her twin brother - which will make life easier for the mother, because both groups meet at about the same time, but in different locations.

We began work on the World Traveller badge yesterday.  It's a relative easy badge, but should be quite enjoyable.  It's one of the badges where you choose five activities from a long list, so with a little bit of adapting we can have a couple of fun evenings while earning a badge.

First things first - I had designed a simple passport for them to complete, with their name on the front, and inside was a space for them to draw a picture of themselves and fill in some details.  Since this was a special Brownie passport, instead of their address they had to include their six and which Brownie pack they belong to.  On the back there is space for stamps.  These will be applied when they complete the activities in a couple of week's time.  Although simple, this kept them happily occupied for quite a while.

One of the other sections of the badge requires them to count from one to ten and say hello, goodbye and thank you, in a foreign language.  Most of the older girls learn a language at school and French predominates.  A few learn Spanish and we have a new transferee who has recently arrived from Gibraltar.  So we split the girls into two groups and helped them practise.  Then they formed two lines, facing each other, to demonstrate their French and Spanish.  Again they enjoyed themselves, and looked pleased at what they had achieved.

Au revoir   and   Adios


Jun. 7th, 2017 09:01 pm
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I had promised the pansies they could have their own post, so here they are, sitting proudly in their pots:
Pansies and more )
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This was suggested by [personal profile] complicatedlight  as something different to do when in London.

Initially, the opening times looked not to be promising for this one, but then I realised we were coming up to London, and because it was half term we would be leaving after midday, rather than late afternoon, so I suggested to SM that we go.  As an aside, I also got to travel on a tube line I'd never been on before: the Waterloo and City Line.  (It only shuttles between Waterloo and Bank, so not generally of any use).

Dennis Severs House is in Folgate Street, not far from Liverpool Street Station.  There are various rooms, which are set out as if the family who lived there have just left for a few minutes.  It was originally occupied by a family of Huguenot silk-weavers, who arrived there in 1724.  The visitor walks through the house in silence, moving from room to room, beginning in the basement.  As they move through the house time moves on, so that the top floor is set at the time of William IV's death, when Victoria came to the throne.

It's a very interesting concept.  Obviously the articles in the room cannot be handled, but for me there was a strong wish to do so.  I also felt drawn to sit on the chairs and therefore take part more fully in the scene.  The idea being the visitor experiences the scene as if they had just dropped into the house.

The average visit length is 45 minutes, we spent 75 there, taking our time, looking at everything.  SM was very taken with it.  I enjoyed it, but felt very much an observer, rather than a participant, one step outside what I think was the intention.  But it was well worth visiting, and if anyone is looking for something different to do in London, I can recommend it.

Richard III

Jun. 4th, 2017 04:40 pm
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As soon as I heard Greg Hicks was going to be in Richard III I knew I had to see it.  Then SM talked about going to another singy thing (Vivaldi's Gloria) and suggested we stay overnight so he could be at Trafalgar Square by 10am.  So it seemed like an ideal opportunity to combine the two.

It turned out to be an even better idea.  The play was at the Arcola Theatre, which is in Dalston in east London, and thus the other side of London from us.  It also didn't finish until nearly 6pm (starting quite late for a matinée at 3pm) so getting a train home would have been a rush (we drove up instead).  A combination of bus from almost outside our Travelodge at Kew Bridge and London Overground meant the travel - although nearly an hour - was simple.

But to the play.  I am so very pleased I got to see it.  I went with a friend, and whilst we agreed the emphasis on Richard's disability was extreme and not entirely necessary, Greg Hicks performance was excellent.  He's an extremely physical actor - not in the leaping all over the stage sense, but in conveying much by subtle body movements.  He brought out the laughs, with a performance which showed Richard as very self-aware of exactly what he was doing.  And he dominated the stage, not denying the other actors, but in demonstrating that he was where the real power was held.  And when he spoke, a slight emphasis on certain words and the audience knew exactly what he was thinking.

The supporting cast were good too.  I was particularly taken with Matthew Sim as Catesby, icy and completely in control of himself.  However, I was not convinced with the way some of the characters were doubled up.  Having the same actor play Clarence and Stanley, while another played Rivers and Blunt was rather a jolt - especially when towards the end in one scene they are talking with Richmond as his supporters, and in the very next scene they appear before Richard as he dreams of those he's killed.  But that's a minor criticism.

The Arcola theatre is small, giving an intimate setting, and we were in the second row on one side, so had an excellent view and felt drawn in to the performance.  It's modern dress, but of no specific time, which I felt worked very well.

In conclusion, I'm delighted I got to see Greg Hicks on stage again.

More York

May. 29th, 2017 11:29 am
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Many thanks to those of you who liked yesterday's post about our trip to York - but you didn't think you'd escape that lightly did you?  Because there's more ...

More York )


May. 28th, 2017 03:32 pm
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We had an excellent couple of days in York.  There is a very good park and ride system, so we didn't have the hassle of driving into the centre of the city, coping with the one way system and finding anywhere to park.

York )


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