smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-09-18 09:41 pm
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A Shipping Meme (Part One)

which I have pinched from [personal profile] verdande_mi  and like them I'm only answering the questions I want to answer.

Questions 1 to 20 )
smallhobbit: (screech owl)
2017-09-15 11:37 am
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Right, we're back!

Screech Owl is back at Brownies - as is Brown Owl.  Sparkly Owl is on holiday far away in the sunshine.

I've just been reading my entry for this time last year, when we had masses of Brownies - this time, for reasons I will explain below, we have far fewer to start with.  We had 12 due to come back, and slightly to our surprise, 11 did - there's usually a few drop out over the summer.  The only one who didn't come had been erratic last term - she has other activities after school, and her grandmother can't always get her to us.  In addition she's probably only got one more term with us until she's 10, so they may have decided it's easier if she stops now.

Sadly, despite initial interest, we have no new offers of help, so we shall carry on.  It seems to be a widespread problem.  On the other hand, there are new girls wanting to join.  We had two start yesterday - a third had found a place in another pack at a more suitable time.  That's fair enough - we have a further seven (I think) who are old enough to join now and will be invited to start in a couple of week's time.

We played various games - our normal opening night activity.  A number of the girls were very excitable, which meant I had to be stricter in enforcing the rules than I would normally be.  With some of the Brownies' help I pointed out we have rules to make it safe to play (if half the runners go the opposite way round the circle from the other half, there will be an accident) and to make it fair to all.  And, of course, there is the ultimate rule "If Screech Owl says you're out, you're out!"

We stacked in the cupboard all the goodies we got from collecting Sainsbury's Active Kids vouchers:

At the front is a ball (yet to be blown up) in the shape of a globe - handy for both games and when we talk about different countries.  There's a stop watch; enough plant pots and saucers for everybody (either for growing seeds, or for table decorations); and two storage boxes (for pens, rubbers, etc).

Next week we're off to visit the local Police Headquarters.  They can only take 15 girls at a time, which is why we restricted how many new Brownies could start at the beginning of term.
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-09-12 06:32 pm
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Book Review Year 3 No 3

I've read quite a few books recently, which is why this is a slightly longer review than normal - I was going to do it last week, but was close to finishing two of the books, so I thought I'd wait.

The Minitiarist by Jessie Burton

There's been a lot said about this book, so I thought I'd give it a go.  They even had a copy in our local library (which I reserved and collected two days' later to save getting dressed to go to the library).  I quite enjoyed it, but I wasn't taken by it as much as other people seem to have been.  And the central premise of the story, that of the dolls' house, for me didn't work as I'd hoped.  I'll be interested to see what others of my flist thought.

Ovid by David Wishart

A mystery set in ancient Rome, recommended by someone in my flist.  The mystery was quite interesting and the setting was reasonably entertaining.  This is the first in a series - I may read more, but there's plenty else on my 'to read' list at the moment.

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

The witches aren't my favourite of Pratchett's characters, but I enjoyed the story.  And even if not my favourite in the Discworld series, they're still better than some things I've read, so I shall certainly be reading more.

Aunt Dimity and the Duke by Nancy Atherton

A present from [personal profile] aome  I was totally taken in by the story, suspecting characters I really didn't want to suspect, but happy at the outcome.  It was definitely responsible for one or two late nights, as I had to read 'just one more chapter'.  A series I shall most certainly continue with.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Really worth reading.  Sad, obviously, and graphic, but an excellent description of the first world war from the viewpoint of the German trenches.  The daughter and I are going on a tour of some of the battlefields next April.

The Wine of Angels by Phil Rickman

Recommended by several of my friends: a mystery featuring a female vicar in a parish in Herefordshire, close to Leominster which we visited last month.  It sounded great, but to my mind, too long, too convoluted and I was tempted to give up and take it back to the library part way through.  I battled on, but won't be reading the next in the series.

As ever, I shall be interested to read any thoughts anyone has - the fact I didn't enjoy a book doesn't mean it's badly written, just not my thing.
smallhobbit: (John Sherlock trouble)
2017-09-10 03:22 pm
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Meme Answers (Part 2)

Here is the second part of the Meme Answers Post.  Part 1.  This time all answers are BBC Sherlock.

Meme answers part two )
smallhobbit: (Holmes umbrella)
2017-09-08 03:23 pm
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Meme Answers (Part 1)

Last month I set one of those 15 characters memes (whereby I listed 15 characters and my flist suggested questions based up character numbers).  There were quite a number of questions, so I've decided to split the answers into two parts.  This is particularly useful because I cheated slightly and used both ACD and BBC versions of the Sherlock Holmes characters.  Today's answers are all ACD Holmes.  Part 2 will be posted on Sunday.
Meme answers part one )
smallhobbit: (butterfly)
2017-09-06 08:10 pm
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Croft Castle Flowers

As promised, here are some of the flowers we saw at Croft Castle:
flowers )
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-08-27 05:59 pm
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Days Out: Part Three

And so we come to the last of our days out.  I wanted to see both Berrington Hall and Croft Castle, which are close to each other near Leominster.  Since this is a ninety minute drive SM suggested we do both but stay somewhere overnight, which we leave us enough time to enjoy looking round both places.  It would also feel like a proper end of summer trip.  So we stayed overnight in Leominster.

Croft Castle )

Berrington Hall )
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-08-23 08:03 pm
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Museums and Galleries

I've shared my various theatre experiences, plus the beautiful Sky Garden, but I also managed to visit one museum and two galleries.

London )
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-08-22 06:24 pm
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Challenge No 4: Sky Garden

This was [personal profile] complicatedlight  second suggestion of something different to do in London.
Sky Garden )
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-08-21 07:08 pm
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A new play at the Almeida Theatre, starring Ben Whishaw, promised so much.  I went to the last preview, opening night being on the Friday.  Which meant I could read and compare the reviews with my own thoughts over the weekend.

For once I agree with the reviewers, which in this case is sad because most of them are lukewarm.  Whishaw was good, but for me the material wasn't.  The plot had some very deep and important points to make, but laboured them badly.  In writing the advice is to show not tell - and there were a lot of words, discussing the theme.  For me, one of the most telling moments was towards the end of the play, when two of the characters who haven't met previously meet up and share an important moment, and the audience finally gets to see how they feel, rather than being told how they feel.

Most of the play is separate scenes, which have little to connect them, rather like illustrations of separate points.  And Whishaw's character has good intentions, and speaks out against violence, but never seems to have anything to lose.

I have friends who are going to see the play, so I shall be interested to read their reactions.  Otherwise, if you're tossing up whether to see this or something else, I would recommend trying the other.
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-08-20 08:35 pm
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Jesus Christ Superstar & Ophelia: Madness (in blue)

Two separate productions - I saw the first Wednesday evening and the other Friday evening.

Jesus Christ Superstar )


Ophelia: Madness (in Blue) )
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-08-19 10:13 pm
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An American in Paris

This is the first of my posts from my trip to London.

I normally go to one musical when I come up to London for my summer break, and having heard Gershwin's music in a concert we went to in February I thought this looked promising.  And it turned out to be the best performance I went to on my trip.

Performed in the Dominion Theatre, it was a traditional West End musical, although in fact it's a new musical, first performed in 2014 and had its UK premiere only a couple of months ago.  The music, of course, was excellent, played by a thirteen piece orchestra.

The staging was brilliant, so many scenes, conjured up apparently effortlessly.  The costumes were wonderful - I was especially taken with the ballet costumes for the show within a show.

I hadn't realised how much ballet there was.  I had expected lots of tap dancing, and there was one memorable number which was tap, but there was lots of ballet - not the very complicated solos and duets found in traditional ballet, but beautifully executed ensemble pieces (which are my preferences anyway).

There is a story, which is straightforward, but has surprising depth.  It is a real feel-good production, in which I was caught up in the action and the dance.  It does exactly what it sets out to do - entertain, but not in a trite way.

The programmes are quite expensive - £8 - so I didn't buy one on the day.  Instead, two days later I was back in the area and went in and bought one as a souvenir, because it's a performance I want to be able to look back on.  So, if this is a genre you like, I thoroughly recommend it.
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-08-12 08:01 pm
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Days Out: Part Two

Yesterday we went to Chipping Camden, which is a traditional (and rather touristy) small Cotswold town:

Chipping Camden and Court Barn )
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-08-10 05:46 pm
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Revisiting a Meme or Two

I'm having a few days away next week, but in the meantime it's fairly quiet, so I thought I revisit a couple of memes:

15 characters ).

AO3 meme )
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-08-08 09:39 pm

One Third of the Way through the Year

 Because my goal setting year begins in the middle of April.  There is, like most things in my life, logic to it - just not anyone else's logic.

Goal No 1 - Write all the things

I'm up to 110,000 for the year, which, considering two years ago I was happy with an annual figure of 120,000 is good going.  It also means there's something in the bank if I slow down for any reason in the latter part of the year.

Apart from my regular writing, I've written for Not Prime Time (including a pinch hit and treats), and also written a pinch hit for the Rare Male Slash Exchange.  I've also finished my second Gen Prompt Bingo with the second part of Happy Families, my Hobbit AU.

I also wrote a ficlet for Fan Flashworks 'Glass' Challenge A Handful of Beads which again is The Hobbit.  It's now my second most kudos fic this year - not bad for 538 words.

And speaking of Fan Flashworks, I have earned three more badges:


Goal No 2 - Write a monthly pastoral assistant post

I am continuing with this, and still finding it helpful to reflect on the month.

Goal No 3 - Try twelve new things

I have done three so far, and the fourth is booked.  I've also been sent the material for number five by the lovely Debriswoman. And I will be starting that next month.  I was going to say when it was cooler, but we're not exactly mid-heatwave at the moment.
smallhobbit: (Edel Lion)
2017-08-04 09:26 pm
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Days Out: Part One

A couple of months ago the Art Fund had an offer whereby for £10 you could have a taster card which lasted three months.  This card gives free entry (or half price) to a number of museums, art galleries, and stately homes.  So I thought why not?  This would be a chance to visit a few places I'd not been to, and get in free to things when I'm in London.
Nature in Art and Dyrham Park )
smallhobbit: (JWP 2016)
2017-07-30 04:07 pm

Watson's Woes: July Writing Prompts and Other Things

To my utter surprise, I have written every single prompt for this year's JWP (okay, technically there are two more to do at this point, but I'm not stopping now).  Normally I only write for the prompts which appeal, but this time I was over half way through before I found something I was less keen on, and by that time I wasn't going to miss out.

This time I've decided to write all my entries (bar one) as chapters of two seperate fics, one ACD canon and one BBC Sherlock.

The Adventures of Dr J H Watson (ACD) 22 chapters, includes appearances by the Ocelot, the Sloth, the Ferret and Mouselet, as well as Inspector Stanley Hopkins' nanny

John Watson's Summer (BBC) 8 chapters, includes Inspector Stanley Hopkins of the River Police and a ghost.

In addition, one ficlet didn't fit into the above and is therefore only on [community profile] watsons_woes .  It's the obligatory kill Watson every year drabble:

Telegram (ACD) 100 words.  This is notable in particular for [personal profile] scfrankles  wonderful comment.


In other writing news, I've finished posting Master Oakenshield the Goldsmith's Son, which is the second in my modern Hobbit AU series "Happy Families".  I have some ideas for a third fic, but that won't be happening for a while.

My Hobbit fics continue to dominate this year's kudos list, but to my great surprise Ninety-nine Words has crept into fifth place.  I suspect this is because it's multi-fandom, but considering the subject content I'm still rather amazed.
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-07-28 12:33 pm
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Book Review Year 3 No 2

Three weeks after posting my last review I have another one.  The last few books have been much quicker to read - hooray.

The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan

A few months ago an American site (I don't remember which one) had a challenge to read the first few pages of certain books and earn points which would be converted into books for children in underprivileged areas.  The books were divided into 5, 10, 15 and 20 minute reads.  A five minute read earned one point, ten minutes two, etc.  It was a quiet day at work - I managed to read a lot of the 5 minute suggestions.  And amongst them were a couple of books which I wanted to read more of.  It turned out this particular book was available within our county library system, so I reserved a copy.  Two and a half months later my reservation was top of the list.

I really enjoyed the book.  It's set in Kent early in WWII.  The men have been called up and the vicar is planning on disbanding the church choir, until the women say they're perfectly able to sing, and what the village needs is something positive.  The story is told by four of the women in the form of letters and diary entries, which gives a number of different viewpoints.  There's a strong plot, with a number of strong women, some of whom begin as quite meek and mild, but gain strength through various events.  There's drama, there's romance, there were a few late nights when I had to know what happened next.  Thoroughly recommended.

Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton

[personal profile] aome  recommended this book.  I wasn't sure, since it's written by an American, but set in the Cotswolds.  However, the protagonist is American so, although there were some things which jarred they made sense because the book is written in first person.  Again I enjoyed it.  It's a light read, but entertaining and I read it quickly.  Also, there's a stuffed pink rabbit called Reginald, who reminds me of the daughter's stuffed pink rabbit called Chewed Ears who you can only tell which way he's facing because of the name tape sewn into the back of his neck.

There are a lot more in the series, and I'm looking forward to reading them.

ETA: the very lovely [personal profile] aome has just sent me the next two books in the series, so I'm really looking forward to reading them :)

The Cheltenham Square Mystery by John Bude

This is another of the British Library of Crime Classics.  One of the main suppliers at work offers a monthly quiz.  You read their latest online leaflet, answer a number of questions correctly, and get a go on a roulette wheel with a 50/50 chance of winning.  I've done it four times and won twice - both times a £10 voucher which I've converted to Waterstone's online tokens.  Waterstone's deliver for free if you spend £20.  So I ordered Little Master Dickens A Christmas Carol for my granddaughter for Christmas; a children's book The Tudors: Kings, Queens, Scribes (and Ferrets), which is good fun; and this book because it's a detective story set locally.

It's not the best.  The Detective Superintendent seems particularly slow and I was shouting at him from halfway through the book - clearly they lacked an amateur detective to solve the crime in half the time.  But there were plenty of local references which I enjoyed and I read it quickly enough.  I shall pass the book onto my mother - it'll keep her entertained for a little while.

And now I'm back on target for my Goodreads Reading Challenge.
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-07-24 06:33 pm
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Challenge No 3: 99 words

Debriswoman recommended You have breath for no more than 99 words.  What would they be? collected by Liz Gray, and suggested this as a writing challenge.  So this month I have been writing 99 words for some of my characters.

It quickly became apparent the characters I would write had to be those for who I have written series, so that I could really get inside their heads.  I frequently write say, John Watson, both in BBC Sherlock and ACD Sherlock Holmes, but each time there may be subtle differences.  Whereas taking the Watson in Sussex Retirement I had a far greater idea of how he would think.  This also served to narrow down the characters I would choose.

I had decided to include the gang from the Marylebone Monthly Illustrated really as a bit of light relief.  Only when I came to write the first of them, the Ocelot, I came across the Editor with very strong views, and found myself writing one of the most dour of the entries.

None of the characters explicitely contradict my own views.  This might be a fault in a writer, but I think if I'm investing the time in a character to write a series then I want to be in agreement with them.  This is, after all, a hobby rather than a career.

The last chapter, which I have just posted, is my own 99 words, for I felt it was appropriate to leave a little bit of myself there too.

It's been a fascinating challenge, nothing like I expected when I started, and totally worthwhile doing, so thank you Debriswoman

99 words
smallhobbit: (Default)
2017-07-22 01:47 pm
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Richard III

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.