Reading matters……

Ill-Keep-You-Safe-262x400.jpgAnother of F.’s books, I just got in first again. Peter May is a Crime writer, but for the greater part of this book I wondered where this was going in terms of a Crime plot. It seemed more ‘Welcome to the island of Harris – we’ll tell you some things you didn’t know about this special place’. Well it certainly is special. But I couldn’t help thinking all along that my son had spent a week there with his school pal who comes from Harris and he has always said ‘Never again’. What a dispiriting place it seems. So, the plot. The two protagonists own a company that makes an upmarket alternative to Harris Tweed, one of them is blown up by a car bomb in Paris. There is a desultory search for the perpetrators. Some off-beam characters are drawn as possible suspects and then, right at the end, and as obvious as obvious can be, the partner turns out not to have been blown up after all. Weak. I would say so. I was thoroughly disappointed at the end and rather glad to get onto something else.

Sarah Langford’s ‘In Your Defence’ is one of those brilliant books that keep you up at9781784163082.jpg night, that you don’t want to put down, you don’t want to end, and which teaches you so much you didn’t know. Whilst it was her love of words that inspired her to take up the law, Sarah took an unprivileged, unconventional route that however stood her in good stead and made her determined to succeed in what is still a profession full of privilege and some bias against women. However this story is not about her it is very much about her clients, and in particular 11 clients in 11 different cases which she outlines in some detail. Each case starts with the location of the trial (changed along with personal details to protect clients’ anonymity) and a tiny note on the law involved in the particular case. These get your mind racing before you know anything about the case.  Sarah then takes us through each story from start to finish. All of the cases are to do with Family or Criminal Law. And wow how you get involved. Of course her job is to represent clients whether she believes them innocent or guilty, and to us looking in from the outside, this in itself poses incredible moral dilemmas. But, as she says herself,  “Life is not binary,” “There is very rarely a situation where there is no other version of the story.” Intricate points of Law are explained in notes at the end of the book. The cases range from a woman charged with conspiracy after a burglary, and a young man accused of assaulting three police officers during an arrest that leaves him with cuts and bruises on his hand, ribs and head to a child whose views are, unusually, taken into account in deciding which of his divorced parents he should live with. You come away feeling battered, hugely impressed with the Judges and Barristers involved, and scandalised by how little someone like Sarah is rewarded for the efforts she puts in. A thrilling book.

A visit to a medieval abbey…….

20190125_130152 copy.jpgTorre Abbey in Torquay was our destination in January last year but we were very much looking forward to returning. Two buses and an interesting enough journey in the daytime. Then a short walk through a delightful park to get there….20190125_125953.jpegThe thirteenth century gatehouse is a fitting  introduction to this originally medieval abbey complex…..20190125_133324 copy.jpg and inside there is a fascinating exhibit about the stone used in the building and where it came from….a lot of it from the nearby headland.20190125_133352 copy.jpg20190125_151337 copy.jpg20190125_133403 copy.jpgAlthough the abbey was developed into a residence after the Dissolution, the first thing you see is the medieval undercroft which is very atmospheric.20190125_133720 copy.jpgOnce inside we visited the chapel which we did not see last time. The  chapel exhibits an unusual ‘barrel vault’ ceiling dating from the 15th century. Prior to being converted into a chapel by the Cary family it used to be the Guest Hall. 20190125_135706 copy.jpgWe also saw inside the gatehouse with an original knocker on the medieval door, 20190125_140010 copy.jpgand we could clearly see how the abbey buildings had to have a defensive purpose – in fact a licence to crenellate (erect fortified defences) was granted by Edward III in 1348. 20190125_141750 copy.jpgWhat really astounded us was the thickness of the walls, easily six feet, and amongst the deepest I have ever seen.20190125_140827 copy.jpgThe Thrupp Collection draws art lovers from all over the country, as it’s the most extensive collection from the studio of a Victorian sculptor. It includes statues, busts and bronzes as well as plaster reliefs. Magnificent………20190125_140621.jpgand I liked the furniture panels by him which reflect a George Herbert poem (I studied Herbert as one of the Metaphysical Poets at school).20190125_140714 copy.jpeg20190125_140700 copy.jpegProceeding, we were diverted very briefly by an exhibition called Torbay Rocks which was memorabilia, mainly posters, from the 60’s and 70’s music scene. It didn’t really have much interest for me I’m afraid.20190125_141612 copy.jpegI mentioned last visit the superb way in which the museum puts together how art is made……with artists’ sketchbooks……20190125_141957_002 copy.jpeg and before and after like this plaster cast with its bronze finished article. The standard of the museum’s displays is exceptionally high and never patronising.20190125_142558 copy.jpg20190125_142604 copy.jpgI do like this watercolour of Torquay with its castle on the hill. This was knocked down in the 60’s. Architects and town planners in the 60’s and 70’s have a lot to answer for! This painting also shows the hilly terrain on which Torquay spreads itself out. In fact it is built on 7 hills – just like Rome!20190125_142112 copy.jpegThe abbey is a real maze over several floors and without a plan you never know where you will find yourself next, but throughout there are paintings everywhere.20190125_144117 copy.jpg Here rather a nice marine oil…….20190125_142301 copy.jpegI knew nothing of Torquay Pottery but it was widely made in its day……’‘Torquay Pottery’ has become the generic term covering the numerous potteries that made Art Pottery and later souvenir/household pottery, from around 1860 until the late 20th century, mainly using local sources of red Devon clay. These potteries were based within about 5 miles of Torquay, in Devon, but also include a few other West Country potteries which copied the Torquay style. They were usually established by craftsmen who had learnt or practised their skills in Torquay.’ Some made for the tourist market…….20190125_142420 copy.jpgand some for the more genteel collectors….20190125_145354 copy.jpgThis time there was a display by local photographers in one room…the tobacconists with skeleton shopkeeper was amusing,20190125_142723 copy.jpgand this disused quarry at Llanberis was spectacular…being reclaimed by Nature already…..20190125_142827 copy.jpgThere is plenty to maintain your interest everywhere including some of the rooms used by the Cary family which owned and occupied the house from 1662 to 1930. 20190125_143429 copy.jpegBurne-Jones was one of the most influential and successful artists of his time and supported the ideals of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He is credited with single-handedly reviving the medieval tradition of stained glass in the United Kingdom. Torre has some good examples but only one original.20190125_143622 copy.jpgAs elsewhere, not all Torre Abbey’s collections can be displayed in its galleries. The Behind the Scenes Gallery on the first floor was interesting as it houses a number of paintings on a racking system. This allows visitors to see how paintings are stored and gives access to some great paintings.20190125_143245 copy.jpgAfter having our fill of culture we wandered out into the extensive ruined sections of the original abbey……20190125_151226 copy.jpg20190125_151255 copy.jpg 20190125_151305 copy.jpgthrough the gardens…..20190125_152036 copy.jpgand to the palm house which is always good when it’s raining….20190125_151515_001 copy.jpg20190125_151529 copy.jpg20190125_151544 copy.jpg20190125_151630 copy.jpgand just as we were exiting the grounds I noticed the door to the ‘Spanish Barn’ was ajar. I had asked about this building and was told it was only open when exhibitions were in there……luckily someone was preparing for one and didn’t mind us having a quick look.20190125_152419 copy.jpgRather than wait for our bus in the cold we went into the Grand Hotel for a pint for me, and tea for F. Good hotels  – this is 4 star – are always a good bet for the odd drink as you have luxury surroundings for the price of the drink. The brasserie menu looked good too. We could spot the bus passing on its way into Torquay and knew then when we would have to leave the hotel to catch it on its way back. A nice end to a very good day.20190125_153550 copy.jpeg

 

Reading matters…….

51YNGSmcaXL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg‘Thomas Cromwell : the untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant‘ by Tracy Borman is a splendid history of the man and his times. It is amazing, and indeed reassuring how closely all of this ‘real’ history follows Hilary Mantel’s novels. As with all well written and researched histories Tracy’s book flows, and is almost like a Crime novel in that you want to keep turning the pages to see what happens next. And believe me a lot does happen. Cromwell, who I studied at school and Uni as a great administrator is a man of his times. A great administrator yes, but also a philosopher, a well-read man of huge intelligence, a deeply religious man, a brutal and cunning and ruthless but loyal politician who right up to his last few days in the Tower knew how to manipulate the King and his Council, many of whom looked down upon a man risen from the gutter just as they had looked down upon his predecessor Wolsey a butcher’s son. It is no wonder that King Henry lived to regret his decision to cut off his head. As I say, this biography is absolutely compelling reading. The only little criticism I can make is that Tracy Borman, when no other sources are left to her, is willing to use the same ambassadors’ letters home (the Venetian and Spanish ambassadors particular) that she criticises in another breath as being difficult to give too much credence to. Having said that, I so much enjoyed getting to know Thomas Cromwell, and didn’t want the book (or his life!) to end………

Rummaging around in a WHS remainder shop in Plymouth (I hadn’t realised they existed), we found a couple of  books which were extremely good value. So I bought a9780007950096_1.jpg new copy of the hardback ‘The Complete Great British Railway Journeys’ priced at £40 for just £4. Amazing! The book is a compilation of ‘Great British Railway Journeys’ and ‘Great Victorian Railway Journeys’ and based on the very enjoyable BBC programmes fronted by Michael Portillo with those names. It is really for dipping into but I read it straight through, over a few weeks admittedly, and really loved all the insight into the ‘history, landscape and people of Britain’ that it gave. Partly a reflection of how much things have changed since the publication of Bradshaw’s Guide to the lines in question, but also a celebration of how much has survived and the progress that has been made, I found such a lot to interest me and so many references to subjects new to me. From the Victorian find of the Bronze Age Gristhorpe man, still on display in Scarborough, to the Preston cotton mill riots (I was born there, opposite a cotton mill) and the establishment of the Temperance Movement in Preston, I was surprised at my lack of knowledge. Great, and very satisfying, to remedy a few gaps.

51PZw3NJuxL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgWith her Christmas present of a National Book Token, F. bought 4 books when we were out the other day and I have already finished one of them. In truth it didn’t take me long. It was so good. It was the kind of book you would walk around the house reading not wanting to put it down. I rationed myself to bedtime reading mainly, and there followed a few nights of reading till well past 1am. ‘Dead If You Don’t’ is the book in question and the author Peter James stand at the pinnacle of Crime writing. His DS Superintendent Roy Grace novels are set in Brighton where he lives, and where he has astonishing contacts with the Police and others and which means all the procedural stuff is spot-on. This one is about a kidnapping and about the Albanian criminal fraternity living in Brighton. It is also about many other things including the corruption of wealth, the dangers of gambling, and of course about the personal interactions of Grace with family and friends. It is taut, well written and exciting. Can you praise a Crime novel more?

Opera, cinema and historic Plymouth….

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This weekend to an unknown (to us) Met opera at Vue cinema in Plymouth. The thing about this particular opera for us was that there were absolutely no tunes or melodies throughout. Everything seemed like speech that was sung in one plane as it were. Yes, the singing yet again was admirable and amazing in its power and intensity, but the plot was light and, as I say, no tunes to be hummed on the way home. Not at all memorable. The divas get huge praise in the press however.

Adriana Lecouvreur unfolds in Paris in 1730. The setting reflects a nostalgia for the Rococo era that swept over Europe and the Americas around the turn of the last century when Cilea was composing, evident in other operas (for instance, Puccini’s Manon Lescaut) and in architecture.785x590_adriana4.jpg

ACT I

Paris, 1730. Backstage at the Comédie-Française, the director Michonnet and the company prepare for performance, in which both Adriana Lecouvreur and her rival, Mademoiselle Duclos, will appear. The Prince of Bouillon and the Abbé de Chazeuil enter, looking for Duclos, who is the prince’s mistress. They encounter Adriana and compliment her, but she says that she is merely the servant of the creative spirit (“Io son l’umile ancella”). The Prince hears that Duclos is writing a letter to someone and arranges to have it intercepted. Left alone with Adriana, Michonnet confesses his love to her, only to be told that she is in love with Maurizio, whom she believes to be an officer in the service of the Count of Saxony. Maurizio enters, declaring his love for Adriana (“La dolcissima effigie”), and the two arrange to meet after the performance. Adriana gives him a bouquet of violets as a pledge of her love. During the performance, the prince intercepts the letter from Duclos, in which she asks for a meeting with Maurizio, who is in fact the Count of Saxony himself. He is to meet her later that evening at the villa where the prince has installed her. Determined to expose his seemingly unfaithful mistress, the prince arranges a party at the villa for this same night. Unknown to him, Duclos has written the letter on behalf of the Princess of Bouillon who was having an affair with Maurizio. Maurizio, receiving the letter, decides to meet the princess who has helped him pursue his political ambitions. He sends a note to Adriana to cancel their appointment. Adriana is upset, but when the prince invites her to the party and tells her that the Prince of Saxony will be one of the guests, she accepts in the hope of furthering her lover’s career.

 

ACT II

The princess anxiously awaits Maurizio at the villa (“Acerba voluttà”). When he appears she notices the violets and immediately suspects another woman but he quickly claims they are a gift for her. Grateful for her help at court, he reluctantly admits that he no longer loves her (“L’anima ho stanca”). The princess hides when her husband and the Abbé suddenly arrive, congratulating Maurizio on his latest conquest, who they think is Duclos. Adriana appears. She is astounded to learn that the Count of Saxony is Maurizio himself but forgives his deception. When Michonnet enters looking for Duclos, Adriana assumes that Maurizio has come to the villa for a secret rendezvous with her. He assures her that the woman hiding next door is not Duclos. His meeting with her, he says, was purely political and they must arrange for her escape. Trusting him, Adriana agrees. In the ensuing confusion, neither Adriana nor the princess recognize each other, but by the few words that are spoken each woman realizes that the other is in love with Maurizio. Adriana is determined to discover the identity of her rival, but the princess escapes, dropping a bracelet that Michonnet picks up and hands to Adriana.

 

ACT III

As preparations are under way for a party at her palace, the princess wonders who her rival might be. Guests arrive, among them Michonnet and Adriana. The princess recognizes Adriana’s voice as that of the woman who helped her escape. Her suspicions are confirmed when she pretends Maurizio has been wounded in a duel and Adriana almost faints. She recovers quickly, however, when Maurizio enters uninjured and entertains the guests with tales of his military exploits (“Il russo Mencikoff”). During the performance of a ballet, the princess and Adriana confront each other, in growing recognition that they are rivals. The princess mentions the violets, and Adriana in turn produces the bracelet, which the prince identifies as his wife’s. To distract attention, the princess suggests that Adriana should recite a monologue. Adriana chooses a passage from Racine’s Phèdre, in which the heroine denounces sinners and adulterous women, and aims her performance directly at the princess. The princess is determined to have her revenge.

 

ACT IV

Adriana has retired from the stage, devastated by the loss of Maurizio. Members of her theater company visit her on her birthday, bringing presents and trying to persuade her to return. Adriana is especially moved by Michonnet’s gift: the jewellery she had once pawned to secure Maurizio’s release from prison. A box is delivered, labeled “from Maurizio.” When Adriana opens it, she finds the faded bouquet of violets she had once given him and understands it as a sign that their love is at an end (“Poveri fiori”). She kisses the flowers, then throws them into the fire. Moments later, Maurizio arrives, summoned by Michonnet. He apologizes and asks Adriana to marry him. She joyfully accepts but suddenly turns pale. Michonnet and Maurizio realize that the violets were sent by the princess and had been poisoned by her. Adriana dies in Maurizio’s arms (“Ecco la luce”).

 

Before going to Vue we had a bit of time to kill so, for a coffee and exploration, we drove to the Royal William Yard which we had not visited before. It was a revelation………20190112_161929.jpg…………..an historic piece of Plymouth restored with sensitivity but very grand. Constructed between 1825 and 1831, Royal William Yard is in fact considered to be one of the most important groups of historic military buildings in Britain and the largest collection of Grade I Listed military buildings in Europe. Pretty impressive credentials.20190112_162004.jpegDescribed as the grandest of the royal victualling yards, ‘in its externally largely unaltered state it remains today one of the most magnificent industrial monuments in the country’. Released by the MOD as recently as 1992, Urban Splash have transformed the buildings into mixed-use restaurants, shops and flats, and it is all pretty special, although you do get the impression that it is not as well-visited as it ought to be.20190112_164837.jpg20190112_164854.jpg20190112_165209.jpg20190112_165501.jpg20190112_165621.jpg20190112_165759.jpegBistrot Pierre where we had our coffee was pretty good too, an excellent looking menu, and they have just opened two of the buildings across the square as hotel rooms. They look swish.20190112_164721.jpegYesterday back to Vue Plymouth this time to see the film ‘Stan and Ollie’. Steve Coogan as Stan and John C. Reilly as Ollie were absolutely brilliant and with oodles of preparation took to their parts with perfection. ‘Stan & Ollie’ tells the story of how Laurel and Hardy, with their golden age long behind them, embark upon a tour of the music halls of Britain and Ireland in 1953.
Despite the stresses of the tour, past resentments coming back to light, and Hardy’s failing health, the show must go on: in the end, their love of performing – and of each other – ensures that they secure their place in the hearts of the public. It’s about love, passion and comedy. You come out of the cinema just loving their humour but at the same time feeling for them….when up becomes down it’s tragic to see. For once all the five star reviews are thoroughly deserved. If you get chance, watch it…….1353.jpg

Reading Matters….

the-daughter-of-time-7.jpgDuring our recent visit to Edinburgh I found this ‘The Daughter of Time’ on my daughter’s shelves. I had already read it but was anxious to do so again as I got terrific enjoyment the first time. I don’t think by any stretch of the imagination you could call Tey a great writer….I have read other of her titles and been immensely disappointed, but this is something else. A detective recovering in hospital, flat on his back most of the time, comes across, amongst the gifts friends and colleagues have been bringing in, a portrait of Richard III. He asks himself…is this the face of a man who could commit the murder of his two nephews in the Tower, an event heinous even then. His detective brain starts whirling and he is soon loaded down with serious histories, copies of documents and more trying to sift the evidence looking for clues as to who did actually ‘commission’ the murders. A brilliant tapestry of the times is woven as he refuses to accept the history written by the winners, in other words the Tudors, unless there is factual back-up. Although a Lancastrian myself, and a historian, I have always had a soft spot for Richard III and thought him ill-used by History. Although this is a novel it grips as real history always does. My two favourite subjects, History and Detectives, and this is part History/part Detective. I really couldn’t ask for more.

Since we had a leak in the new roof in the conservatory I have had to move a lot of Unknown.jpegthings out of there, including many books. Noticing one of these, ‘Shakespeare’s Restless World’ I picked it up and started idly leafing through it. I saw immediately that this was only part-read so I resolved to start again. I am so glad I did. It is so well-produced with clear text and beautiful images, and so well-written by ex-Director of The British Museum Neil MacGregor, that it is sheer pleasure. Neil has chosen 20 objects (not only from the BM) to illustrate various aspects of what Shakespeare’s world was really like. These range from the failed attempts of James I to put together a joint flag for the Great Britain he wanted to be a reality, to a woollen apprentice’s cap in absolutely remarkable condition, to a pedlar’s trunk complete with contents, to a brass-handled iron fork lost at the Rose Theatre, the ownership of which was a sign of absolute sophistication. And he uses the objects to telling effect, delving deeply into the full range of Shakespeare’s work. So, my other favourite subject History/Shakespeare is well catered for in this splendid book.

hamlet-arden-shakespeare.jpegWhich leads me on to saying that, having aroused my interest in WS once again, I could not forgo the immediate and absolute pleasure of reading again for the umpteenth time the play ‘Hamlet’ which for me represents the height of literary achievement. It was something I studied in great detail for ‘A’ levels. I have seen the play a few times. I have seen a couple of films. For me it never palls. I read this time round the Arden edition which has copious footnotes and explanatory material, but I must admit that I am easily distracted by these and actually found all of this tiresome as the Editor Harold Jenkins seemed to be engaged a lot of the time in scoring points off previous editors and commentators. Hamlet is too good for this. Best just to read it straight through and make your own sense of it.

A Glorious January Day…

Having just seen an episode of Flog It! from Mount Edgcumbe, and as it was such a nice day that is where we headed. The views on the coast road come from left and right….in this lay-by Plymouth is over the Sound to our left and to the right is Tregantle fort which had its red flag out signifying live shooting.20190109_121607.jpg20190109_121652.jpgSometimes you believe you are surrounded by a landscape of water with the sea on one side and numerous creeks and inlets to the side, in front and behind…20190109_122616.jpgWe started off at the bottom end of the Edgcumbe estate with a drink in front of the fire at the Edgcumbe Arms. This then steeled us to face the cold but beautiful day.20190109_130534.jpgFirst stop the Orangery…20190109_131135.jpgWe then made our way along the coastal edge of the estate taking in various temples and follies….20190109_131517.jpgOne of the gun batteries showed how strategically placed Edgcumbe is – looking out over Plymouth Hoe, and one of the many very good information boards showed the location of an amazing number of shipwrecks in this part of the Sound. I would have thought that when you had made these waters you were safe – but apparently not!20190109_132038.jpgThe path took us through various parts of the garden which we hadn’t seen before…20190109_132315.jpg20190109_132735.jpegand we noticed our first burst of Camellias….20190109_133755.jpgThis is ‘Milton’s Temple, c. 1755 – a circular Ionian temple, with a plaque inscribed with lines from the poem Paradise Lost, “overhead up grew, Insuperable heights of loftiest shade…..” John Milton, (1608–1674)’.20190109_134103.jpeg20190109_134357.jpeg20190109_134609.jpegThe walk was not without its efforts, but all very worthwhile and we saw very few people indeed which was good.20190109_140208.jpgI intended to climb this folly I think for the views but on approaching it I noted some very serious snogging going on at the top level, so I left well alone!20190109_141133.jpeg20190109_141323.jpgFrom here I tried out my panorama mode….not too bad……20190109_141615 2.jpegand it was just past here that we noted that the grounds do contain the National Camellia Collection….what a cheering sight on this winter’s day……..20190109_142213.jpeg20190109_142330.jpg20190109_142539.jpg20190109_142653.jpgBack at the house we visited the Stables area where all the trades used to be located – the blacksmith, wood turner and so on, all the buildings now used by independent crafts people……20190109_143450.jpg20190109_144027.jpegThe house itself is not open until April….20190109_144304.jpeg20190109_144322.jpgWe made our way back to the car along a splendid avenue of trees……..20190109_144935_001.jpgDays like this, cold and clear, remind us of winter days in York……they should be enjoyed to the full.

A Something and Nothing Walk……

20190107_122715.jpgLooking at our local map we saw that there was a potential new walk from Duloe, the next village to us. It did have some rather sharp contour lines, but looked promising. There are no public footpath walks from St Keyne, our village, which is a shame, although we do constantly walk along the lanes. Anyhow, off we set. First of all there were some rather lovely catkins decorating a few trees at the start of the walk. Then, after crossing the dry bed of a little stream….20190107_122924.jpgwe walked through an orchard which belongs to Cornish Orchards well-known now throughout the country for their cider and other drinks. We must return when the blossom is out, and then later see the apples themselves (maybe a bit of scrumping?). 20190107_122948.jpgWe descended sharply to the valley bottom through Duchy land to a little hamlet of holiday cottages. Unfortunately as we reached the road……. 20190107_124541.jpg…….someone yet again had blighted the landscape with uncaring dumping of litter. Who are these people? Well, on the way back up to Duloe on the lanes I noted a discarded outer of Carling Lager, and scattered for a mile or so along the hedgerow I counted about 10 cans of Carling. Idiots all these people.20190107_130525.jpgThere was a rather nice cottage on the way up which had a lovely rustic gateway which added to the view…..I do so like the gates and stiles and crossing points you see on country walks and often take pictures showing the huge differences in regional styles (not a pun!). I really would like to write a booklet for the Shire series of esoteric books. One day, perhaps.20190107_131356.jpg20190107_131550.jpgWe noted some wildflowers in bloom, and when we had finished our walk I drove to the edge of Duloe……. 20190107_131448.jpgto take a picture of a clump of daffodils that have been in flower since December…..this bank where they are is full of daffodils in Spring, so I am frankly amazed at this one clump with no sign whatsoever of any others….perhaps a very early variety anyhow.20190107_140349.jpgOther things are blossoming at this time in Cornwall…here a camellia and…… 20190101_130546.jpg….in our own garden this azalea has been in flower since at least early December, probably November.20190101_155343.jpgWell, we did our 8000 steps, but I don’t think we’ll be in too much of a hurry to do the walk again. It was a little uninspiring……

From a new beach to Nansledan, a Cornish Vision of the Prince of Wales…

We were off to call at some of the beaches on the North coast which we know well, and headed for Newquay. Just outside, and by accident, we came upon Nansledan. Nansledan is an extension to the Cornish coastal town of Newquay on Duchy of Cornwall land that embodies the principles of architecture and urban planning championed by HRH The Prince of Wales at Poundbury. These views from our car give a good idea of what it is like still under construction. Basically it uses local materials and local construction methods using local labour to create a charming self-contained community. Not everyone likes the architectural ideas of  HRH, but we certainly do. Fascinating.20190102_132436.jpg20190102_132543.jpgLeaving the outskirts of Newquay, we had another chance find – Lusty Glaze beach ‘which is situated in a natural ampitheatre of 200ft high cliffs. Smaller than its more expansive neighbours The beach benefits from a degree of shelter from the prevailing wind. Although privately owned the beach is fully open to the public at no cost.

Lusty Glaze is home to an adventure centre with activities such as climbing and abseiling, bungee jumping, surfing and other watersports offered. The beach management also organise a number of events throughout the summer.

Located at the northern end of Newquay Bay Lusty Glaze joins up with the adjoining Tolcarne beach at lower tides and can be accessed this way. The alternative is via a steep path consisting of 368 steps leading down from the clifftop. Despite this, the beach is very family oriented with facilities including a creche.’ It looked just great, and the 368 steps well worth the effort. Another time!20190102_133255.jpeg20190102_133518.jpgHaving looked at a number of familiar beaches, we decided not to start a walk on any because it was the point of high tide and walking distances were very circumscribed. Instead we took a long almost deserted road to a NT carpark at Trevose Head. We noted this down as an excellent place for some future picnic. In Summer you can access beaches at Booby’s Bay and Mother Ivy’s…we will return.1264412.jpg 20190102_143739.jpeg20190102_143824.jpg20190102_143839.jpg20190102_144008.jpgThe sea around the headland had that beautiful green-blue colour which is so reminiscent of say the South of France even though not a particularly nice day.20190102_143858.jpegRequiring toilet facilities we adjourned to nearby Padstow where I thought we might get a glimpse of their Christmas lights. The town was surprisingly busy.20190102_152402.jpeg20190102_152408.jpgWe did our usual walk up the hill to the War Memorial and then down to St George’s Cove. Normally you can walk much further around the headland here but as it was high tide – not. We really should consult our tide tables more often!20190102_154412.jpeg

Reading matters….

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So, Dame Stella Rimington. Joined MI5 in1968 and worked in all the main fields of the Service before being appointed D-G, the first woman to hold the post, in 1992. Does her life experience lead to her novels being excellent representations of what the Sevice does? It surely does. Her books are bang up-to-date. Each theme she tackles is sparklingly relevant to what is happening in the world today. In fact her Liz Carlyle novels are frightening in their relevance. In quick succession I read ‘Rip Tide’, ‘Close Call’ and ‘Breaking Cover’, all excellent reads, all unputdownable. The back stories about family and love life are credible (and presumably like the plots based on real life), and the stories themselves are exciting in the extreme. Do read them. You will not be disappointed. The fact that I read all three without any interruption and F. is doing the 51MxbEeDujL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgsame speaks volumes. Having finished my trilogy I moved on to ‘The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye’ which I have to say was one of the most boring reads I have had for a long long time. Stieg Larsson’s original books were sensational and have been made into excellent films of course, but this…..considering it is supposed to be a thriller there was not one iota of excitement in all of its too many pages. if this is the best that can be done the franchise has certainly had its day. I won’t bore myself any more by talking of the plot….there wasn’t one!

71x1YeoiE1L.jpgOver Christmas I happened to mention to my son-in-law the novel that Julian Barnes put together based on how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle took up the case of a Birmingham half-caste solicitor George Edalji who was imprisoned as the guilty party in the so-called Great Wyrley Outrages where animals were savaged in the Midlands locality where he lived. A shocking miscarriage of justice about which Conan Doyle created a huge fuss in real life is subsumed in a gripping story which relates the development of the two main characters into the people they were and then their inter-reaction. A literary masterpiece, shortlisted for the Booker, it should surely have won. Anyway I shall be posting it off to Nasar and hope he enjoys it as much as I did for the second time.

Christmas 2018 in Edinburgh……

East coast, as we remembered from our time in York, crisp days, blue skies and cold…hat, scarf, gloves weather. It is always good to visit Edinburgh but I do despair how, despite being very much a capital city, and with more than its fair share of historic and beautiful buildings, it is still rough round the edges. Litter everywhere, puke, overflowing bins, what a society we are! Anyhow it’s lovely to see the progress on Katherine and Nasar’s house (and Aiisha’s of course). New stair carpet running up through their 3 floors with brass carpet rods just ties the whole house together in a stylish way. Our first stop was a children’s library to swop books. One of the nicest….20181222_103255_008.jpg20181222_103309.jpg20181222_102859.jpgand then on to a special story-telling which was very well done and captivating almost to the end…..the only dodgy bit was that in one of the stories small presents were pulled from a sock for a few children, but at the end of the story they were collected back…mean!20181222_110254.jpegA bit of shopping in town, and a chance to admire fine buildings…20181222_124627.jpg20181222_133914.jpegA busy day was completed at the Commonwealth Swimming Pool for a Christmas party and adventures in the soft-play area….20181222_142539.jpg20181222_144524.jpgThe next day we had a very nice stroll down through New Town to Stockbridge, an area I like very much for its ‘village’ atmosphere and shops. 20181223_123058.jpg20181223_123112.jpg20181223_125617.jpeg20181223_125823.jpgthe backs of the big houses are mews converted to rather interesting dwellings…20181223_125906.jpg20181223_130117.jpgOur task was to buy some fresh fish from the excellent fishmonger which I was to use for sole with beurre noisette. Lunch in the local Deli was great.20181223_133049.jpgOn Christmas Eve we went to the Princess Gardens fair which always has a nice family atmosphere, unlike some fairs I could mention…20181224_110848.jpg20181224_110926.jpg20181224_111756.jpeg20181224_114222.jpg20181224_115651.jpgChristmas Day was excellent (and busy). I think it took two of us sometimes three of us about 3 hours to erect the Playmobil hospital…still that’s what parents and grandparents are for…..20181225_113916.jpg20181225_113918.jpg20181225_131028_003.jpg20181225_131039.jpg20181225_131052.jpgbut there were lots of other presents too, so many that Nasar negotiated an agreement whereby quite a lot of existing toys had to be put on one side for Charity before the new ones could be put away!20181225_172625.jpg20181225_172633.jpg20181225_172642.jpg20181225_172645.jpg20181225_093437.jpg20181225_094016.jpgNasar’s favourite toy, and mine, was the remote control car which could run on walls and ceilings as well as the floor……20181225_094131.jpg20181225_094138.jpgAfter Christmas and Boxing Day it is always good to get out and about, here on The Meadows where Aiisha demonstrated how good a cyclist she is now…20181227_120357.jpg20181227_120418.jpg20181227_120900.jpg20181227_121346.jpgA little friend from Nursery whom we met by chance made the play area doubly enjoyable. The Meadows is a terrific facility to have on your own doorstep with everything including a golf course and a lovely cafe/deli where we had coffees and, for me, a small Portuguese tart.20181227_125746.jpeg20181227_125854.jpg20181227_130935.jpgWhat a nice Christmas….