Monthly Archives: Dec 2018

Book Review – Sharing Our Horizon

 

Sharing our Horizon: A Journey Through the Scottish Highlands with Two Adopted Whippets by [Tran, Xenia]

(Cover photo taken from Amazon)

Paperback: 84 pages

Publisher: Holistic Linguistics (30 Sept. 2018)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1916470424

ISBN-13: 978-1916470422

Paperback: £9.99    Kindle: £5.99

Written by Xenia Tran, who may be better known to users of WordPress as the author of Whippet Wisdom.

First, a disclaimer – my Kindle only does black and white so I can’t tell you what the pictures look like in colour. They are good, dynamic shots in monochrome, so I expect they will be as good or better in colour.

There are 59 poems in this book, which makes it a proper collection, with an identity and a life of its own. A lot of the books I’ve bought recently have been a bit sparse to say the least and have failed to pass this test.

My initial reaction on reading the book was that the haibun and longer poems were the best parts and the haiku were, surprisingly, trailing behind. I’ve re-read the book twice and revised my opinion slightly – I still think the haibun and the longer poems (up to 44 words) are the best of the book but the haiku are looking a lot better now.

I think this was probably a case of it being easy to overlook haiku when there are more substantial pieces to read, and when you are keen to read it to the end and see what it contains. A slower re-reading gives the haiku more chance to work on the reader. To be fair the real point is that I should read more slowly, rather than that the haiku are at fault.

So there you go, a good read and much better than the average offering. I’m looking forward to the next book now.

There is more information here if you want it.

A Tale of Two Kings

Four years ago I went to the opening of a Great War display at Nottingham Castle. I was there as a guest of one of my gardening customers, as I don’t normally move in such circles. There were several people I knew there, including two local historians and someone who works as a volunteer in the regimental museum. One of them said to me that I was looking very much like a King.

Image result for henry viii

Henry VIII

“What,” I said, “Henry VIII?”

With my ginger beard and regal looks, I have in the past been likened to Henry VIII, though I would like to point out I have no intention of obtaining a divorce or expelling the Church of Rome from the UK.

“No,” he said, “the other one…the bald one…Edward VII.”

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Edward VII, or Edward I if you are Scottish

I had to admit, after a few seconds of thinking, that I do look a lot like Edward VII. Considering his somewhat loose morals there is, I suppose, a distant chance of me being in line to the throne.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is what Edward VII would look like if he had less ermine and more Cotton Traders shirts. And no comb.

Time is, as they say, a great wrecker.

Thoughts and Stories

It was lighter when I left work tonight, which made me feel better.  I was also feeling happy because two of yesterday’s medallions (Sir  Francis Drake and Grace Kelly) sold overnight. They are now on their way to the customer.

I then started entering more items on eBay. We set ourselves the target of having 1,000 items of stock when I started in the shop, which looked like a big jump from the 600 we then had listed. When you consider the number we’ve sold, we must have entered around 2,000 items to get to this figure.

Here are some of the bits that went on today.

Masonic Past Master's Jewel - Heaton Lodge, Bolton, Lancashire

Masonic Past Master’s Jewel – Heaton Lodge, Bolton, Lancashire

RAOB Jewels Lord Balcarres Lodge, Chorley, Lancashire

RAOB Jewels Lord Balcarres Lodge, Chorley, Lancashire

People collect Freemasons regalia keenly, and though there are collectors for Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (otherwise known as RAOB or Buffs) it isn’t collected quite as keenly. They are both mysteries to me, though they are popular with many people. There are other friendly societies such as the Oddfellows, Druids and Foresters, but their regalia is not so common. Many of them were set up to provide health and insurance benefits for members in the days before the welfare state.

The last bit is a locket with pictures of two Great War soldiers in it – probably brothers, or maybe father and son. It’s had quite a lot of wear and I suspect there is quite a story behind it.  We bought it with a Green Howards cap badge but the vendor didn’t know anything about the history. It’s frightening how quickly families forget.

As a man who is interested in the past, it can be an interesting job.

We’re closed until the 2nd January now, but as that is my day off I have four days of leisure stretching ahead of me. I wonder what I should do to fill the time…

A Few Medallions

I put a few medallions on eBay today. That’s the trouble with selling things – you need to keep putting things on to replace them.

They aren’t the greatest medallions, but they aren’t the worst I’ve ever pictured, as reular readers will be able to confirm.

 

Of course, not all subjects are equally interesting. Unless you are really into decorative lighting, or Olympia, or 1989…

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A medallion of niche interest

Just a Quick Post

We’ve just had the traditional turkey stew with dumplings. Julia made it while I was asleep in front of the TV. A good wife truly does have a price above rubies. After that we had Christmas pudding – we’ve been pacing ourselves.

Today in the shop we had quite a few customers plus a dozen parcels to send out, so it was busy enough to prevent boredom but not busy enough to be frantic.

All three of us ended up serving several times, which is a sign of reasonable customer throughput.

We also bought a collection of coins and medallions and some sovereigns, so it was lively in both directions.

I’m off to take Number Two Son to work in a minute and won’t have a lot of time when I get back (at about 11.15) so, having snoozed and eaten my way through the evening, I’m posting this quickly to keep up with the posting challenge.

I think this is day 82 of the posting challenge as I started it a few days before the haiku challenge.

Finally, for now, I’m suffering from my arthritic finger again. After following Tootlepedal’s advice to pull it and wiggle it I can report that it is considerably improved, despite the counter-intuitive nature of the treatment.

That’s all for now. See you later.

Haiku Challenge – Day 79 – Just 3 Weeks Left!

I’ve been plugging away at it for 79 days now, and have written well over 800 haiku, spread between three notebooks – upstairs, downstairs and in the car. You can’t afford to waste inspiration, and I’ve often done the daily ten whilst waiting in the car for Julia.

As a result I swear my brain is getting bigger and I’m beginning to resemble the Mekon.

Image result for mekon

(Image purloined from http://www.dandare.org.uk)

Well, not in all respects, I’m not clean-shaven and I don’t sit in a levitating lifeboat. I will probably have to start eating fish to power all this extra grey matter.

In terms of enthusiasm I’ve moved from being happy with my newly developed facility for haiku writing, to being addicted, to hating them and back to happiness.

In terms of quality, I’m embarrassed to admit that 775 of the 800 I’ve written are not very good. On the other hand, the remaining 25 are better than anything I’d written before I started the challenge, so it has done some good.

There is an editor on one of the magazine websites who is very critical of people who write haiku in “industrial quantities”. That’s me he’s talking about. At one time I was depressed at the thought, but now I’m happy with it, as I have definitely improved despite my “industrial” approach.

It’s hurt at times but I think the learning has been good for me in the end. I got myself back into writing by buying a diary and writing something every day for a year (which I nearly accomplished) but the high intensity of ten a day for 100 days is a much more intense learning experience.

Of course, telling people about it to ensure it happened was a good idea, as I’d have given up weeks ago if it wasn’t for that.

I’d also make sure there was plenty of nature to see – 100 haiku featuring fallen or brown leaves can be a bit wearing. If I ever do this again I’ll choose a different time of year and do more walking.

The other thing I would suggest is that you should keep your haiku properly filed or indexed. I have 800 free range haiku and no prospect of ever getting them sorted.

That’s it for now – the next news on this will be in 21 days.