Saturday, 25 January 2014

Quite a Lot of Books.

I've been busy with books recently.

These are new here. The top two, "Flea Market Style" and "Granny Squares", were Christmas presents. They're both quite nice - not fantastic or special in any way, just fairly nice examples of their genre (I do like interiors and crochet books). The Nigel Slater "Tender Vol II" book was a mere £1 from a charity shop.  I already have Vol I so was pleased to find the second one. It's a beautiful book and there are some lovely photos inside. I've only read the introduction so far and I am already inspired to grow more fruit in the garden. I may even get round to using the recipes one day... The bottom two books; "Decorate Workshop" and "Gardenalia", were TKMaxx bargains. I'm enjoying the "Decorate Workshop" book especially. I have to admit that with interiors books it's more about the pictures than the text, once you've actually read one, there's no need to ever read another one! This follows a slightly different format to other interiors books, but the pictures are still the best bit. Gardenalia could do with more pictures and less text...
Excerpt from "Decorate Workshop".

 Excerpt from "Decorate Workshop".

 Excerpt from "Gardenalia".

 Excerpt from "Tednder Vol II".
Over the Christmas holidays, in addition to having the 4000 word essay to write (which I submitted with a few hours to spare, hurrah!), we also had a book chain assignment to complete. This involved reading ten children's books which were to be linked in some (fairly random!) way. Five were to be for older primary school children, and five for younger primary school children. My chain began with The Kite Rider which I'd found in a charity shop and had initially bought for my daughter to read. This linked (via a kite theme) to The Kites are Flying which linked (via Michael Morpurgo) to Private Peaceful, etc, you can see the gist of it all on the poster above which I made. The last book in the chain is The King of Capri by Jeanette Winterson and illustrated by Jane Ray. I wanted to include this one as it made the chain continuous and it was a good excuse to buy another Jane Ray book. I have to confess that this is the one book I hadn't actually read before doing my poster. I had ordered it from an ebay seller but it didn't arrive in time so my blurb is derived from amazon reviews! Had I read it I would have reviewed it slightly differently. I like the illustrations and most of the story but don't like how it ends. Anyway, it's still a good excuse for including some more of Jane Ray's lovely paintings on my blog...

The last two illustrations are actually from "The Happy Prince" which is another recent Jane Ray aquisition, this time from a charity shop.

You can see I'm building up quite a collection. Initially I started buying them for A, but she's not terribly fussed about them, so they're kept in the living room bookcase now for all to enjoy.

I have selected "Children's Literature" as my optional class at university. I thought it would be interesting and useful to find out from the "experts" which new authors and books are recommended for children, my own knowledge being rather dated (authors I particularly remember liking as a child include Joan Aiken, Nina Bawden, Noel Streatfield, Leon Garfield, Nina Beachcroft...)

So here is another pile of new-to-me books (the whole lot cost less than £15 via ebay - I decided to buy rather than borrow as my children will be able to read them later too). These were all recomended either by the tutor or by my other classmates, many of whom are English grads as the literature we're going to be looking at is for children aged around 8 - 15 so is applicable to both primary and secondary PGDE students. I've already read "Wolf" and found it an exciting and enjoyable read.   

And today I took some "stuff" to the charity shop and came away with these, £3 the lot (the deal is 4 children's books for £1). How many can I read before my next teaching placement (when life goes a bit mad and time is in very short supply). I only have a week...

Sunday, 19 January 2014

I Spy Blue Sky...

More January outdoor scenes. This time with no rain, and even some blue sky. All taken this afternoon during a visit to Calderglen country park.

I liked this little cottage on the hillside overlooking the park.

Pretty leaves.

The cottage again.

Horseshoe falls, hoping I don't drop my camera (I have no wrist strap).

 An ash tree.

Cottage and ash tree together.

 Bird detail from play park, and blue sky!

N making his way through the rope tunnel in the play park.

More of the iron bird sculpture.

Now we're off to the zoo...

 An Australian zebra finch.

Meer cats.


 Love birds, a welcome splash of cheerful colour.

There were quite a few other creatures in the zoo, including a Scottish wildcat. He was pacing round his pen and seemed rather unsettled. Much as I enjoyed seeing the animals and birds up close, I did feel a little uncomfortable about their loss of freedom and habitat.

Next, a walk in the woods...

Bare branches silhouetted against the sky.

Pretty patterns in sawn logs. It was only when I was writing this post and was looking up information on ash trees that I realised that this is probably the trunk of a young ash tree affected by the chalara fungus (ash die back). I see from the map on the website that it has been recorded at Calderglen park, and from the map it look like the fungus is now affecting ash trees across the whole of the UK to varying degrees. Rather sad.

Beech leaves.

 More branches.

 Always nice to look up.

 Yay, umbellifers for a photo.

 And another pair, with towerblocks in the distance.

We were following the yellow path. At the beginning A was very grumpy and complained of sore legs, tiredness, boredom, etc. We started playing I spy and miraculously that kept her going through the whole walk and was later declared her favourite part of the day. Simple pleasures...

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Saturday Morning Bike Ride

My first bike ride, I think, since starting my PGDE back in August. Let's go!

I set off after nine. The weather isn't great -we've been having rather a murky January. 

A favourite view across fields to some trees. Due to the poor light, trees seemed to be the best things to photograph; I think because their dark, bare branches contrast well with the grey skies. Cue some tree photos...

The horse chestnut tree at the top of the hill.

An ash tree (distinguishable by its many bunches of keys) further down the hill.

Two "other" trees at the corner, I'll need to revisit them once they're in leaf to see what they are.

Nearly at the loch now and some canada geese fly past before landing in a nearby field.

 A shot of the bike down by the loch.

More canada geese.

 A grey view of the loch. You can just make out the geese in front of the little island.

A little later and the geese are past the island. It's also started raining.

Now I've moved further along the path. There are a few bullrushes along the banks of the loch, and the four geese are still visible! I decide, despite the rain, to keep going, at least as far as the castle...


I like the birds perched in the branches of the little tree growing out the top of the castle.

 Then I go just a little bit further. I like these tracks and gates, seen today with added sheep.

A gloomy view down to the loch. Now I'm starting to feel wet from the rain so decide it's time to turn back towards home.

 Back past the castle.

And past the folly.

I covered around 12 miles so not a very long ride. The first part of my route took me up a long, steep hill and I had to stop half way up to catch my breath. Prior to my six month cycling break I was able to cycle up the hill without stopping so I have lost some of my fitness. The rest of the ride was fine as I did deliberately pick a fairly flat route, just because I knew I'd probably struggle a little with the hills. Please don't think I'm complaining about hills! I think they add more interest to a cycle ride, especially once you've done the climb and get to free wheel down the other side. Such fun! You get more varied and better views too. Cycling always on the flat would, I think, be a little monotonous. However, the roads here aren't overly hilly unlike in some parts of the UK. It's been a while since I visited the south west, but I remember the roads in parts Cornwall were almost constantly rising and falling - they didn't go terribly high but they were quite steep and as soon as you were over one hill another one began... 


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