Monday, 28 November 2011

BBC Land Girls - Series 3 - Review

Oooooh weeeeeeeee!! I cannot tell you how excited I was to be able to return to Pasture Farm recently and back into the lives of the Land Girls. I liked  Series 1.  I fell in love with  Series 2 

So -  Imagine my delight when a third instalment graced my (catch-up) screen.

I really feel that, although this show is aired at what I like to call "Little Old Lady Nap Time" -  a slot usually reserved for re-runs of things such as Midsomer Murders (ack) or Dr Quinn Medicine Woman (mm mm mmmmm Sully. What?), there is something about it that makes me smile and want to watch.

This stint of the show did not disappoint. I just wish there were more than 5 episodes.

Characters have returned and been expanded, new ones have been added. The lovable Finch is still hapless and, well, lovable. The hateful Mrs Gulliver is as caustic as ever and, well, hateful. I can't help shouting obscenities at her from my sofa.

My bestest ever character, Connie Carter, is there with bells and bows on, which pleased me no end. 

I feel that there was certainly more grit added to this run, which is exactly what I thought was missing in series 1. Yes, not everything is correct, but then again, it is not a historical documentary. It is a drama. A drama that, to me, has enough research sprinkled into it to keep my attention.

A dungaree-wearing 7/10!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Floral Skirtings - outfit post

Why is it, that sometimes, with no thinking or planning, hair and outfit seem to flutter together? I would love to say that this happens to me on a regular basis, but, 9 times out of 10 you will find me standing in front of the wardrobe / mirror / The Beard foul-mouthed, flustered and flummoxed. 

A sunny Sunday, back in the weird Autumn-Summer season we had in the UK, I decided upon the below. And I really liked it. Plus, on account of cat-sitting a chums spectacular Cat-ula, I had a garden to ponce about posing in.

In this picture I looked at the sky. It was blue.

In this picture I did my impression of a Puffa-Fish.


And in this one I am looking off into the middle distance wondering what to think about. I decided on chocolate. Natch.

I do love a multi season outfit and I think this skirt (£3 charity shop -  win) and my minty cardy will work just as nicely with boots, or thick tights and brogues for the colder weather.

But, knowing me, I shall relegate it, forget about it and end up flustered and flummoxed once more.

And, of course, foul mouthed.


Monday, 21 November 2011

WW1 Vacance l'Histoire - Jour Trois

So, ready for more? I shall try to keep my rambling to a minimum, but this post encompasses a fine museum, a trek into the middle of a field, the laying of a very special wreath and the newest cemetery in France.

Hold on to your eggs.... Here we go....   

The weather was glorious on our third day, just as we were finishing our stint in France and heading off to Belgium. Typical.  The Madonna and Child atop the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Brebieres in Albert, was in all her shiny, golden glory. Hit by a shell in 1915, badly damaged and near collapse, legend had it that whoever made the Golden Virgin fall would lose the war.

Lovely and scorchio it may have been, but being Brits after all - we were thankful of the cool chasms of The Somme Museum, situated beneath the Basilica. This vast network of tunnels deep beneath the town's streets served as shelter for the townsfolk during WW2.

It was mighty cold down there if I am honest (yeah -  I know.. too hot.. too cold.. too whingey) but I enjoyed the museum for the abundance of artifacts that it has on display.

It did amaze me what seems to have been rounded up and kept for posterity. All of it is well displayed and the information boards are, well, informative, both for the knowledgeable and beginners. A perfect combination.

The museum is also home to some fabulous trench art. The attention to detail that has gone into every piece is clearly visible and one of my favourite pieces is below. Although many of the artifacts, such as this, have been donated, there is rarely any back story to read  -  which I feel is a bit of a shame.

There are also real, touchable items on display. These barbed wire supports, for example, gave an eerie reminder of the battlefields. This would be behind glass in the UK -  so it was unusual to be able to get up close to something like this.

Thankfully, what is behind glass are these mannequins. Certainly not the worst I have ever seen, but some of them were quite comical in their unintentional way. Pretty much like every mock up I have ever seen then. That said, these sorts of things do have their place and are the best way to display uniforms.

The thing that struck me most, aside from the trench art, was the store room of artifacts that just seemed to have been dumped into one of the alcoves. I like the way that they have just been left there, with no write ups and no glass, just some railings. I think this pile speaks for itself.

And, like all museums I have ever visited, you exit through the gift shop. Now, last year, I bought a piece of trench art. I had no idea that this sort of thing was on sale. So, this year, bearing the aforementioned in mind, I returned with plenty of cash. But, alas, there was not much to be had. I did buy one piece, for about £30 - but I had been prepared to buy a lot more. It would seem that this sort of thing is in short supply now, possibly bought up by other tourists or perhaps museums.

We said Au Revior to Albert, jumped in the car and made our way towards Ieper, Belgium -  aka Ypres or Wipers. But, this being a go-see-do-stuff kind of trip, there were always things to do along the way. And this part specifically involved Gramps.

On our first trip, Pops had put in a lot of work finding out information about Gramps, were he was based, where he was killed and -  where his trench would have been.

He found all this out, and, armed with a compass, some maps and the old triangulation one two -  we drove into the middle of a field, via a farmers track. When I say the middle of a field, I do mean literally the middle.

We went back this year to show Mum and The Beard, and like my visit to Arras, the emotion involved was no less. No sound except the wind in the grass and the birds flitting about. Being there, in the middle of a field, it is hard to imagine men having dug and lived in trenches that can still clearly be seen from aerial shots of the landscape.

From here we headed into the small village of Noreuil. This is the where the limited war diaries that we have place Gramps, on the day of his death. The village has a small Australian Cemetery that contains 2 British, unknown graves. 

As Gramps was killed in this village, we figure, chances are, one of them might actually be him. Obviously we have no proof, but, as a family, we choose to believe that it might be true. And as such, we lay a wreath. 

As there are 2 graves, I laid my wreath (again -  prepared by Dad -  he's good ain't he) at the same place as last year and my Mum placed hers at the other.

Noreuil is a very quiet place which has many a field, with many a poppy. So, I decided to snatch one for my diary. I am pleased I took a photo of it, as by the time we reached the hotel in Ypres, it had turned a deep red.

Last stop for the day was the new cemetery at Pheasant Wood which is the resting place of 250 British and Australian soldiers who died in The Battle of Fromelles.

On a visit to the Imperial War Museum last year, I was lucky enough to see a small exhibit  telling the tale of the burial plots, how they were discovered, the artifacts that were recovered (including a return pass to a soldiers home country of Australia) and the building and interring of these lost, but not forgotten, men.  

The rain had started to come down in earnest by this point, and I did consider rushing back to the car. I am glad that I decided to walk around the whole thing, because had I not, I would have missed the below grave stone. The interesting thing about Pheasant Wood is that, due to the time that has passed and now that the confusion of the time is over, more information has been found out about the men involved. And as such, more personal details have been included by the relatives. Such as nick names, personal messages from children, or simple poems.

The last leg of the journey was taken over by a quick kip in the back of the car and some re-reading of Testament of Youth, before we arrived in Ypres. We decamped to our rooms, I ate more Kinder Schokobons than I care to admit and I suffered an episode of "Rosemary & Thyme" -  but, somehow, ended up watching it until the end.

We then met for dinner at a lovely restaurant called Poppy's (very popular with tourists, reasonably priced & proper scrummy) and then headed up to The Menin Gate for the 8pm ceremony.  

On the way back we went past an artist's stall. A certain gentleman called Soren Hawkes. Par and me met him last year and ended up chatting to him quite a bit on both nights we were in Ypres. We both bought some prints and bade our goodbyes. I went back to have a peek this year to see if he had any new work and was handed this.......

This is an original, made to measure, just for me pencil drawing, which my Dad had arranged. Of the direct line from Gramps to me. Featured are my G-Grandad, in his ARP WW2 uniform, my Nan (aka Glam), my Mar and me.

Needless to say, I burst into tears. Which my Dad was filming. Notice how I chose to omit the offending live image sobfest from this post.

If you are interested in Soren Hawkes' work -  please have a peek over at his website -  Passchendaele Prints

That's all for our third installment.

Ta-ra's for nows!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Zig 'n' Zag jumper - outfit post

No  -  nothing to do with the Big Breakfast puppets circa 1995. Although -  if you need reminding -  or in fact introducing to them if you are from outside the UK -  here is a link to their song.

Yes. Song.

I picked this jumper  - although I use that terminology lightly as it is practically see-through - up in Brighton at one of the many vintage shops in the area. I forget which. But I do know that it cost me a purse-ripping £5. A quick wash, which it really did need, and I was off.

Teamed with a trusty tan belt, I grew to really like this outfit. Nice and smart, but decidedly retro looking for the office, I thought.

Add in one of my if-I-ever-loose-them-I-SHALL-openly-weep rose hair pin thingys and I am done.

I have stopped dealing with the faff of rolls recently and am opting more for a Veronica Lake look. Well, sorta. Much less effort. Quick brush out, bit of pomade ( I favour Black&Whites, from Boots if in the UK -  smells delish and really works) and a pin.


Over and Oooot for now chum and chumettes!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Centenaries, Scott & Poppy Donations - on Ice

Isn't it odd where 100 years can go?  And so quickly?

Perhaps, because I read so many blummin' books or am thinking about history a lot, I feel like the Centenaries that are on the horizon have whizzed into view? I feel the events to be far closer in time to me than they actually are. When I work out how long ago something was, it usually results in my mouth agog and copious bonce scratching with a distinct look of "Eh?" on my chops.

The first Centenary hot-stepping it into view is Captain Scott's excursion to Antarctica. Well. Not so much hot stepping as fox-trotting freezing.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

What a wondrous middle name. Known as Con to his friends, he and 12 others, plus plenty of Ponies and a pack of dogs entered into a race of national pride and international prowess in 1911 by attempting to be the first people to reach the South Pole.

In a journey that took months just to reach the base camp, battling fierce storms, carrying more equipment than you could shake a stick at and armed with only compass for guidance and previous knowledge from a prior trip in 1904, they headed off into the jolly cold, but mesmerising stunning Antarctic.

Trekking for days in smaller teams, with the final expedition headcount to be decided, they trudged on towards their goal. Finally, Scott decided who the final team of 5 would be.

The competition was fierce against the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, accompanied by his own human and canine team.

 Team Amundsen set off with 52 dogs, returned with 11 and left a tent for shelter, some supplies and a letter to the King of Norway, stating the Norwegian team's claim on the pole, 33 days before Team Scott even arrived. Amundsen had kindly asked Scott to deliver the letter. 

Upon the now defeated return journey, exhaustion coupled with starvation and a severe depletion in supplies -  the team's health began to fail. Frostbite, falling injuries and with a mighty drop in morale - the team made their final camp.

There is some confusion over what actually happened out there, mere miles from one of their supply depots, which could have possibly saved them. A lot of what is known is taken from Scott's diary.  Not long after one of the team had perished and another left the camp tent advising  "I am just going outside and I may be some time..." Scott made one final entry on 29th March 1912:-  

"Every day we have been ready to start for our depot 11 miles away, but outside the door of the tent it remains a scene of whirling drift. I do not think we can hope for any better things now. We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker, of course, and the end cannot be far. It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more. R. Scott. For God's sake look after our people!"

Death of Robert Falcon Scott

It was not until after the winter had passed that the search party were able to begin looking for their bodies. On 12th November 1912 the last of Team Scott were found, frozen, in their tent. 

They were buried in a cairn of ice blocks. The cross atop was made from a pair of skis. 

They only ever located the sleeping bag of the man who "went for a wander".

100 years past. 

Now. The Poppy Royal British Legion  Donation part. 

We all know, at least here in the UK, that today is Armistice / Poppy Day. And to raise money for such a fabulously worthy cause, in my humble, the brother of a dear friend is retracing the steps of Scott. Not only a Centenary voyage, but a fundraiser too. 

History and Charity. Huzzah!

There are 2 teams of 3 -  one team following Amundsen's route and the other, Scott's. All are serving soldiers. Mark has, himself raised £28,000 doing the expedition before. I am sure he is doing this one with his eyes closed, then.

The team aim to raise £500,000 this time. You can follow them on Twitter @Race_tothe_Pole. 

There is also the Official Centenary Race Page where you can see video updates and the like. 

Now, good readers. I very rarely ask directly for cash -  but if you feel so inclined & could spare a spot of change in aid of a worthy cause  - you can donate safely and quickly via their Just Giving Page 

And it is a race, so ...

Come on Mark  - 
trudge man! TRUDGE!!!

Over and Oooot!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Goodbye to All That - Robert Graves - Book Review

In 1929 Robert Graves went to live abroad permanently, vowing 'never to make England my home again'. This is his superb account of his life up until that 'bitter leave-taking': from his childhood and desperately unhappy school days at Charterhouse, to his time serving as a young officer in the First World War that was to haunt him throughout his life.

It also contains memorable encounters with fellow writers and poets, including Siegfried Sassoon and Thomas Hardy, and covers his increasingly unhappy marriage to Nancy Nicholson. Goodbye to All That, with its vivid, harrowing descriptions of the Western Front, is a classic war document, and also has immense value as one of the most candid self-portraits of an artist ever written.

Now. Call me stupid (please, only whisper it), but had not heard of this book until my recent trip to Belgium. It was proudly displayed in the front of a shop selling various trench artifacts. I had, of course, heard of the phrase, much like I have heard "..all quiet on the western front..." -  but had not really thought much more beyond that. Proof that I am still learning about these things (is it possible to ever stop?) and that these phrases have become synonomous with this historical event, drifting into our psyche.

So, I began, And I have to admit, I fell a little bit in love with his style of writing. It is easy to have a misconception that a writer of his generation could be, well, all classical about it. Thankfully, Robert Graves writes almost as though you were just sitting in a pub listening to him. Which makes it very easy to relate to him.

There is a certain amount of honesty in his recollections -  from his early childhood, to the point he decided to leave England. His sexuality and his strained marriage are alluded to, but nothing is given as much time as his experiences in the trenches. Which is just as well, as this is the reason I was reading it. But, background always has it's place -  it helps me connect with the author.

But, just like someone telling you a tale in your local boozer, some elements have to be taken with a pinch of salt. On first publiscation, there was a bit of a furore over those in the public eye who were featured. Outcry that Graves' recollection's were fabricated and exaggerated. So -  just like most pub yarns then. 

There are always certain embellishments when it comes to repeating a story. So, I shall make allowences for any that there may be. This did not alter my admiration for the frank account of what Graves witnessed and remembers.

The only downside to it, is the last few chapters. It does trail off a bit, but I persevered.

History is only as good as the historian, and I am happy to sit back and let this story envelop me.

A 6/10 from me.


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