A Few Loose Ends

The Queen Elizabeth medallion I used to illustrate yesterday’s post had sold by the time I got to work.

Elizabeth I Souvenir Medallion

Elizabeth I Souvenir Medallion

This is the magic of eBay.

We had another seven parcels to pack, and, in the morning, a crowd of customers. For the second day in a row we were delayed in our parcel packing by actual people coming into the shop. Though we couldn’t do without eBay customers, it’s always nice to have people to talk to.

In the afternoon the rush subsided and we had time to add a few more medallions to our eBay shop.

The medallion in the Featured Image commemorates Sir Christopher Wren and features part of his memorial inscription around the edge, though the original is in Latin – LECTOR SI MONUMENTUM REQUIRIS CIRCUMSPICE. I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with Latin – I’d like to be good at it, as it’s always been the sign of an accomplished gentleman, but apart from showing off and reading gravestones I’m not sure how much use it is.

The two bronze medallions have a common obverse and two different reverses for the opening of the new magistrates’ courts in Nottingham and Mansfield.

According to the date on them, they are now 23 years old. I remember when they were made. It was quite a big event at the time – new Nottinghamshire commemorative medallions. It’s strange how time passes.

 

Book Review – Library Lost – Laurie Graves

Library Lost (The Great Library Series Book 2) by [Graves, Laurie]

 

Just before Christmas I bought the Kindle version of Library Lost by Laurie Graves.  I then, as I often do, mislaid the Kindle, and didn’t actually start reading it until the New Year.

They say the second one of anything is difficult. You have second season syndrome in sport, difficult second albums and, in this case, the difficult second book. The main problem, as I see it, with Library Lost, is that you have to reintroduce the basics of the previous book as the story leads on from that.

This is important to people who are starting with the second book, and for people like me who have poor memories. The trap awaiting the unwary author is the temptation to drop in slabs of boring explanation. Mrs Graves avoids this trap. (Did you see what I did there? I’m pretending not to know her so I seem more professional).

If I have any criticism, it would be that the action could have started a few pages sooner. When it did start it was excellent.

I’m a little torn on the treatment of death. I know it’s YA fiction, but death (and there are a few deaths as the plot develops), seems to be glossed over,and this does tend to trivialise it.

Apart from that, the book is simply too short. I was completely engrossed in the story when I noticed that the percentages were whizzing by and suddenly, mid-story…

…I’m now waiting for Book 3.

Having said that, I’d rather to books stayed short and to the point instead of becoming bloated monsters like the Harry Potter books. But then, as I have said before, Laurie Graves is better than J K Rowling. The fact that she isn’t as rich or famous simply highlights the fact that life is unfair.

Excellent book, well written, gripping, plenty of character and action. I enjoyed it.

It’s possible I might have enjoyed it more if it had talking badgers, but I suppose you can’t have everything.

 

 

 

Hard Day at the Shop

Obviously “hard” is a comparative term. Six hours sitting in a heated shop packing parcels and chatting to customers is not hard compared to some of my previous jobs, and they weren’t hard compared to working on a trawler or building skyscrapers.

However, from starting to finishing, there was scarcely a moment when we didn’t have a customer in, often two or three at a time.  We sold quite a lot in the morning, spent over £1,000 buying during the afternoon and ended up selling some more. We did all this with just two people as the boss was off at the York Coin Fair. We often have busy days when he’s away.

Souvenir Medal Castle Rising Norfolk

Souvenir Medal Castle Rising Norfolk

This is one of the medallions we put on eBay. At this sort of magnification you can clearly see  the reflection of my camera and a large quantity of dust. It’s not a stunning level of professionalism is it?

Southwell Minster Souvenir Medallion

Southwell Minster Souvenir Medallion

I see we’ve already sold seven items on eBay, so we will have to get a move on, as the Post Office closes at noon.

Another 100 Day Challenge – Haiku

It’s Day 100 of the Haiku Challenge.

I now have over 1,000 haiku of indeterminate quality. Some of them aren’t haiku, some are senyru. Some are more like fragments, or notes. And many of them are merely bad.

Having taken all that into consideration, was it worth it?

Undoubtedly. I’ve learned a lot from the experience, including that in any 100 day challenge you are going to come to hate what you are doing. Whether this holds true for my new challenge remains to be seen.

I first came up with the idea from reading this this post whilst browsing the net for haiku-related posts. I then moved on to reading this article, which is a lot more ambitious.

My “rules”, garnered from the article, were simple. Ten haiku a day for 100 days, avoiding too much censorship and writing extra to catch up if I couldn’t manage ten one day. As the article admitted that experienced writers were only getting one good haiku out of ten or twenty attempts I felt justified in taking a laid back attitude.

So, what did I learn?

Well, I became more fluent in my writing and found ideas came more easily.

I became addicted to writing and couldn’t rest if I didn’t write at least ten a day. Apart from the days I needed a rest, because there were several days where I hated haiku so badly that I couldn’t write one. That did happen a couple of times, but I soon got over it after a day off.

I also ran out of nature several times. Despite becoming more observant and making better notes as time went on, I found I was struggling with enough nature observations to keep myself going. You don’t see much nature when you are just driving through town to work and back, and magpies and bare branches are simply not enough to feed a heavy haiku habit.

Towards the end of the time I noticed I was writing three line poems with the rhythms and vocabulary of haiku.

That last point is quite important. I started with a lot of long words and details which aren’t really needed in haiku. A three syllable word in a haiku, remember, is three thirteenths of the syllables needed for a modern haiku (seventeen is now considered old-fashioned). Three thirteenths of a sonnet is near enough three lines, so you can see how condensed a haiku is, and why you can’t waste a single syllable.

That was probably the most important thing I learned.

Now, it’s time to take Number Two Son to work.

Over the next few weeks I will do some rewriting and may show you a few poems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tearoom Tour – Number 1 – Thoresby Park

I’ve been meaning to start a Tearoom Tour of Britain, with a target of 100 in the year. Julia has indicated disbelief in my ability to do this (citing logistical difficulties rather than my lack of capacity for cream teas).

Rather than put a number to it, I’m going to start and see where we end up.

Today we went to Thoresby in Sherwood Forest. It’s not the best of the grand houses in the forest but it’s free and the service is a lot better in the cafe than the off-hand, rude, inefficient and useless service encountered at Clumber. Clumber is a better attraction in general, though expensive if you aren’t a member of the National Trust. But the cafe at Thoresby is a lot better. You may have formed that idea after reading my comments on the disgracefully bad, lamentable, terrible, rotten service at the Clumber cafe.

That’s why we won’t be rejoining the National Trust this year. We aren’t saying we won’t rejoin in the future, but for the next year or two their surly waiting staff will have cost them money.

Anyway, back to Thoresby. We didn’t have much time so we had a quick snack – I had the cream tea, Julia had the toasted teacake and we both had plenty of tea. Very palatable, served efficiently by pleasant staff and in nice bright surroundings, There was no time to look round the courtyard, which is partially closed for the winter, but we have done before, and it is worth a visit.

The downside – the scones seem a bit regular and industrial, rather than home made, but they were still good.

I’m happy to recommend Thoresby to anyone. £8.90, in case you are interested.

To be fair, I’m happy to recommend Clumber to anyone who wants grudging, slow, inefficient service in a dingy room, but it’s a niche market. It’s also slightly more expensive, as I recall, but you do get a free snarl and a long wait thrown in as extras.

 

 

Day 101

To be accurate, it’s really only day 75 because I missed a day. While I’m on a roll I’m going to go for the extra 25 and make it a genuine 100.

That’s probably all I need to say about that. From tomorrow I’ll stop rattling on about targets and just get on with it.

I have a few things to do and then I’m going to set to work listing suitable subjects for future posts.

The morning started with sunlight streaming into the living room and dazzling me. An hour later it has now gone grey and the temperature has dropped significantly.

That will do for now – I’m feeling a bit slow due to the pain in my face and Julia needs to go out.

Here are some cheery photos.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 100!

Finally – day 100 in the posting challenge!

(Well, really day 99 out of 100, but as I’ve averaged over a post a day I’m allowing myself to claim it as completed.)

I’m treating it in a suitably low-key sort of way and celebrated by having a tooth extracted. It wasn’t particularly enjoyable, but it could have been worse. Next time I have a celebration I may stick with the traditional cake-based version.

They gave me a form to fill in afterwards, asking how likely I was to recommend them to a family member. It’s difficult to give a useful answer to that, as I’m not likely to recommend that any member of my family spends half an hour in the dentist’s chair with pliers and power tools in their mouth.

So, what have I learned from my 100 days of posting?

Tricky…

I’ve learned that it’s possible to run out of things to say, and that photos of flowers and cute animals are an acceptable substitute. I’ve also learned that you can grow to hate blogging at times, and that setting a target makes you more likely to do things.

However, I knew that.

I suppose the main thing I’ve learned is that it is possible to set myself a long-term writing target and stick to it. That’s not always been the case in the past.

I also need to list subjects for posts and write some in advance.

That, I think, is about it.

Now, what should I do tomorrow?