28 September 2016

Netflix

I have discovered Netflix, when I say discovered I mean I have known about it for a while but have only just started watching. Over the last few weeks, in between reading, having a nightmare with an en-suite in my dolls house! (will be posting about that later), and my birthday celebrations, I have been binge watching and I've had a string of love affairs!

First there was Will in "The Good Wife", handsome, debonair, thoughtful, oh how I envied Alicia, played by Emmy award winner Julianna Margulies, she got to kiss him so many times. I first saw her in the excellent unmissable "ER" playing alongside another of my "on-screen" love affairs George Clooney as Dr Doug Ross, she got to kiss him many times too! Oh happy days, I never missed an episode of ER and was distraught when it ended. I've watched many re-runs and could watch it forever. It's not on Netflix though.

Then came "Suits" and the dashing, suave, cool Harvey, played by Gabriel Macht. Bit of a bad boy, but I always seemed to be drawn to the bad ones!

Next up was "Stranger Things", not something you would immediately associate with a love affair, but I found Chief Hopper played by David Harbour very attractive not just in looks but as the character as well. 

"Hustle" was my next binge watch. I didn't have a love affair with any of the characters, I just liked the programme.
  
I've watched every episode of  "Spooks", I love it. There are a couple that I would have a liaison with, Tom Quinn played by Matthew Mcfadyen is dishy, and the brooding Lucas North played by dashing Richard Armitage is gorgeous, but my one and only love has always been Harry Pearce played by Peter Firth, Harry is my man! There's just something about the character.

Unfortunately Grey's Anatomy isn't on Netflix, I had two heart-throbs in that, Dr Owen Hunt played by Kevin McKidd and Jackson Avery played by Jesse Williams, he has the most gorgeous blue eyes I have ever seen.

I'm currently watching the second season of Fargo and Patrick Wilson is very handsome as Minnesota State Trooper Lou Solverson. Ted Danson looks good too. It has some gruesome scenes, and, like the first season I find myself laughing at most inappropriate moments, like during the chopping up of a dead body to feed it through an industrial mincer, and fingers go flying off in all directions! Sometimes I think I ought to worry about myself, but does anyone else do the same? Do you find mirth in the gruesome? Perhaps its the way in which it is written. I think Noah Hawley is a very skillful screenwriter. 

18 September 2016

Buster's Diary

Our walks are slightly better now that the weather is a little cooler, SL is still wearing shorts though, well knee length ones, she doesn't want to scare the horses! Despite going out earlier it was getting uncomfortably hot by the time we were on our way back. 

Whenever we did this particular route Rufus would collapse in the shade of a tree and refuse to move.



There he is, at the top of the black arrow. SL and I would get further round this bend before he decided to catch up with us!



The crops have been gathered




the acorns are appearing


and these, we don't know what they are.


One of our walks takes us along this lane



keeping an eye out for the ducks


across a field and through this opening, which SL says always feels as if she's in Narnia, 
walking through a wardrobe, wondering what's on the other side



cool and shady is on the other side.  


and then opens out above a fishing lake. 


Guess what? Rufus and I have discovered a liking for blackberries


When SL was helping a fellow dog walker pick some I started eating them straight from the branches. 




Rufus wasn't sure at first, SL was picking them for him 


but after watching me he soon got the hang of it.



One day last week Rufus had an encounter with something. He had gone through the stile, I was just going through when he ran off barking, then he yelped. I chased after him and SL followed, but she didn't see another animal.   


There was a cut in the corner of his mouth. SL thought it might have been a stoat, we also have mink in the area. She heard later from a reliable source that a domestic cat had been seen in remote areas. Whatever it was it must have had sharp teeth to inflict such a deep wound, and probably had to stand up on its rear legs to reach his mouth.


And finally 



video

Rufus having fun in a puddle. 

Part of this field has become very waterlogged after the farmer did some work in a field above it. 



Then he decided to lie down to cool off! 


Look at the state of him.

Needless to say he had to be hosed down when we got home!
We avoid this field now!


Hope you've enjoyed my latest diary entry.

Have a good week


10 September 2016

A Good Read

Red Lotus by Pai Kit Fai

Full of Chinese villains, English heroes and brave virtuous women, this is a sprawling family saga of three generations of women. 

Yip Mann, an elderly spice farmer, purchases fifteen-year-old Pai-Ling, as his concubine in the hope of producing sons. Pai-Ling has lotus feet and is beautiful but to Yip Mann’s dismay she delivers a worthless daughter. Yip Mann snatches the new born baby and goes to bury her in the paddy fields where he has buried his previous daughters. In a desperate bid to save her daughter Pai Ling throws herself out of the window and falls to her death. As Yipp Mann approaches the paddy fields a fox fairy appears, being superstitious and illiterate he is scared of the dreaded fox fairy and sees it as a sign to let the baby live. She is named Li-Xia – Beautiful One – by her father, not because of any fondness for her but because he thinks the name, along with her lotus feet, will fetch a higher price in the market when she is sold. But Li-Xia has inherited the fighting spirit of her rebellious mother, and with a little help from the compassionate Number Three wife of her father she escapes the crippling bandages. She knows from a young age that her feet will be her freedom. Against great odds she teaches herself to read her mother’s diary.

Sold off to a silk merchant, after many adventures and defiances she is saved from near death by a young English sea captain. Though they find great love and happiness together, it is short lived. Li-Xia becomes the victim of dynastic rivalry and a hostile society. She dies giving birth to her daughter Su Sing (Little Star). Su Sing’s journey takes her from the remote mountain refuges of interior China to the pre-world war I Macao and Hong Kong. Until the age of twelve she is raised by an elderly Taoist Sage Master To, who is master of the White Crane. He names her Red Lotus and teaches her everything he knows. After he is killed she begins a quest to find the father she never knew and to reclaim her birthright.

This is a beautifully written moving story, very sad in places and occasionally a tad twee. Nevertheless it's a compelling read, I was absorbed by the fates of the women, and China's turbulent history. I thoroughly enjoyed it


5 September 2016

Dolls House No. 2

Lighting

Off the shelf dolls houses usually have pre-drilled holes in the ceilings of each room, anything else has to be done the best way possible. Drilling holes in the backs of the rooms is straightforward but I wanted to put downlights in the kitchen and bathroom, not straightforward. A standard size drill just won't fit into a dolls house size room! You can buy small hand drills but I'm not sure how effective they are. A builder friend and all round good guy loaned me this neat device. 

A flexible shaft extension

One end fits into the end of the drill

and the drill bit fits into the other end

"voila" the bendy cable fits into any small space

Allowing me to drill holes for the down lights in the kitchen and bathroom.
I then bought some small eyelets from Hobbycraft, job done.
The wiring wasn't quite so simple!!

I used  grain of wheat bulbs, ready made wiring fitted with a tiny bulb. (The writing isn't anything to do with the lighting, it's for the flooring). The lights that go through the holes nearest the back, and the ones that go through the middle holes have wires that are long enough to fit the bulbs into the eyelets and reach from the eyelets, across the floor, through a hole to the back and into a socket,


but the wires for the lights for the front of the room weren't long enough so I had to do some joining. 


Because it was such a fiddly job I used this lid to keep my tools and the tiny wires in
so that each time I dropped something I could see where it fell!

I joined each wire separately and then taped the two firmly together

Now I have my downlights in the kitchen and bathroom.


29 August 2016

A Good Read

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger 

When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her American nieces, twins Julia and Valentina. The girls had never met their English aunt, they only knew that their mother was a twin, and Elspeth was her sister. Julia and Valentina are fairly normal teenagers with an abnormally intense attachment to one another, and very little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cosy home in the suburbs of Chicago. 

The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery, and soon get to know some of the other residents: Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin's devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. 

As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt's neighbours, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including, perhaps their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old apartment and life behind. 

Niffenegger weaves a captivating story about love and identity, secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life -even after death. 
I thoroughly enjoyed it, well written, good characters and a good story. I thought Valentina’s talk of suicide was somewhat contrived but nevertheless the plot worked.

19 August 2016

All Sorts

brrrr I've just changed into a long sleeved t-shirt having suddenly felt a little chilly. I have been sitting reading for a while though, inactivity usually lowers my body temperature, need a sandwich and a cup of coffee to warm me up. Sandwich and coffee prepared and already I'm feeling warmer.

I made an effort to get up early this morning to take the dogs out because my car was being collected sometime after 9am for a recall inspection. We had the best of the weather as it has been raining gently ever since. I was hoping to do some gardening today but I'm pleased with the rain as my garden has been looking very dry, the lawn even has a few chasms in it - only small ones! I hope it clears up as I have two plants that have been in their pots for weeks, they are screaming to be in the garden as their roots need to expand beyond the confines of the pots.

I regularly wear jewellery - rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, but I've never been a huge fan of charm bracelets, I have a gold coloured chunky one that I wear in winter and the rest are just smallish wrist adornments. Two of my friends have Pandora charm bracelets, one a silver one with loads of charms on it, and the other a simple band with just 3 rose gold clips on it. For a while now I have wanted to own one, it's not that they're out of my price range just something I never got round to buying, until yesterday. We have a brand new Pandora shop in town, so no excuses now, off I went and bought this.




ok, so its not Cartier or Faberge but I love it, and I will love it even more when it has some pretty patterned charms on it. Pandora gift vouchers will now be on on my pressie lists :-)

I feel very sad about the demise of Bhs and all those people, who, in a few weeks will be out of work. Our store looked forlorn, huge signs advertising closing down bargains, the windows full of rubbish. I went in but then thought no, I'm not going to put any more money into, in my opinion, that odious little mans already ample offshore bank account. He must be the most reviled man in the country at the moment.


Does anyone have a foolproof cure for chocolate addiction?  This is my current favourite. 


I know, I should employ willpower and self control. I don't like Oreo biscuits but when it comes to this, I just devour it like a thing possessed. Over the years I have hoped that maybe I would be sick from chocolate binging and that would end my addiction, but I guess I will just have to cope with it.

My car is back and all is good.

The rain has stopped, the ground is nice and soft, perfect for re-homing my plants.

Thank you for reading, take care and have a good weekend.



16 August 2016

A Good Read

The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan


Pearl has a secret which she keeps from her mother Winnie, and Winnie has her own long kept secrets about her past and the confusing circumstances of Pearl’s birth. Fate intervenes in the form of Helen Kwong, Winnie’s so called sister-in-law, who believes she is dying and must unburden herself of all falsehoods before she flies off to heaven. Unfortunately unburdening herself would mean exposing Winnie’s secrets and thus having to expose the truth to her daughter. But truth comes in many guises, depending on who is telling the tale.... 
The story takes us back to 1920's Shanghai, through WW2 and the harrowing events leading to Winnie’s arrival in America in 1949. It’s a story of lost innocence, tragedy and survival, but most of all the endurance of hope, love and friendship. 

As well as achingly sad this is a mesmerising story, with wonderful strong characters, and a dramatic backdrop for the events of China during WW2 – the Japanese invaders, the Kuomintang, the Communists, all struggling for control and leaving a swath of destruction in people’s lives, relationships & families. 

Weaving together China’s epic tragedy with her characters’ predicaments Amy Tan has created an engaging read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

7 August 2016

August Already

It's that time of year again


 the wheat and barley have turned golden









the blackberries have flowered and fruits are appearing 


and, most important at this time of year


Buster has had his first application of this to prevent this


On our walk the other morning I saw this, or rather I smelt it before seeing it. It smells lovely, like a honeysuckle. I don't know what it is, and because of where it is I'm guessing it's a wild plant but I've taken a stem and will harvest some seeds and try to grow it in my garden. It might be rampant and take over!!



27 July 2016

Great Comp and Riverhill Gardens

Oh dear, It's ages since I posted anything, I seem to be very busy or very lazy! I love the hot weather but as I get older I need regular rests in the shade! 

In June I visited the horticultural gem that is Great Comp. Kent is a very pretty county with lots of interesting places to visit, and Great Comp is described as one its finest gardens. The gardens surround a picturesque 17th century grade II listed farmhouse. The house is built of lime-washed brick with stone dressings, and blocked up brick windows on the building's sides suggest a Tudor origin to the house. The interior features early 17th century panelling and a late 17th century staircase. The stables have been converted into the Old Dairy Tearoom. 

When Roderick and Joyce Cameron purchased the historic house in 1957 they decided to turn the grounds into a garden, beginning with 4.5 acres and later extending to 7 acres. They built an Italian garden, adding handmade follies to create extra interest, using sand and stone from the garden itself. These 'ruins' are an important part of Great Comp, creating a focal point for exploring the gardens. A trio of classical urns, dubbed the 'Longleat Urn', 'Pope's Urn', and the 'Doulton Urn' act as focal points to emphasise points of view.



A quiet corner

A quirky gargoyle






Central sweeping lawns are bordered with lush planting schemes of over 30 varieties of magnolias, crocosmias, dahlias and salvias. 



Great Comp specialise in salvias, they have one of the finest collections in Britain.


The magnolias and rhododendrons are underplanted with large swathes of bulbs and hellebores. A woodland area, with winding trails leads through beautifully planted trees and shrubs. Tucked away in a quiet corner is the hydrangea glade which at the time of my visit was just green, it would look stunning now. The thing is with all these lovely gardens, to fully appreciate them you need to visit at various times of the year.




Both formal and informal areas make careful use of statues and romantic follies to add interest.






What a lovely place to call home




Time for a healthy ham salad followed by a scrumptious cream tea!! Needed to maintain my energy levels for the next garden visit. 

Riverhill Himalayan Garden is an historic, listed hillside garden, a very imaginative garden where you can build a den, discover secret pathways and even spot a Yeti. Six generations of the Rogers family have lived at Riverhill and it remains a private home today. 
The gardens are delightful and on a clear day the views are incredible. After wandering around the extensive gardens you can browse in the shop or indulge in more delicious cake and coffee -  can you see a pattern forming? I don't spend all my time eating cake, honest, only on days out! :-)


It was a warm day and a fairly steep incline up to the viewpoint


(no Yetis up here)



but worth it for the pretty wild flower meadow 



magnificent views to the Weald of Kent 


rare an ancient trees, and a fledgling maze that I couldn't get to the centre of!! I mean, look, you can see over the top of the hedges, and I still couldn't find the centre!!



The gardens are renowned for carpets of bluebells in the woodland in early Spring, and a spectacular array of rhododendrons and azaleas in late Spring


Formal gardens


Modern Sculptures



a water feature and a beautifully manicured lawn.


the rose walk

It was about now that it started to rain very slightly 
so we made our way to the cafe for a cup of coffee and cake before departing.

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