Thursday, 24 December 2009

Twas the Night Before Christmas, And My House Smelt of Orange Polenta Cake

It has been snowing like you would not believe in the past five days.  I've never seen snow this early - it usually comes at the end of January for a couple of weeks, and its just beautiful to look out on the garden which is as white as white as can be.  

Horse care has been more of a challenge - trying to convince a healthy, raring to go half-ton horse that he needs to stay in his stable for the duration for his own safety is not at all easy...he's been out in the field in the snow a little but our livery-yard owners have decided its too dangerous to put horses out because of the ice that follows the snow for the moment, so we are all confined to out stables (well, ok - the horses are - the owners can come and go as they please I guess) - I've been taking Merlin for walks, letting him run and roll in the indoor riding school and today I gave him a massage.  I wouldn't mind someone do all that for me!  He seems to be ok, and hopefully the snow and ice won't last too long.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Goodbye Borders....Why Its Such a Bad Thing

The bookseller's chain Borders has gone into administration and is unlikely to be open many more days - I visited a few days ago and it looked like it had been ram-raided - with about six things left on the shelves.   I read an article in a newspaper claiming  the people of the UK just didn't get the whole thing with Borders - that it was a product of the 'Friends' TV Series era - where people sat around drinking coffee whilst choosing books and that we in the UK just never got the concept.  I can tell you if my relationship with Borders had been repeated up and down the country, they would be thriving. 

It seems, said the newspaper article, that the people in 'Friends' moved away, grew up, and started using Amazon.  But I do find this sad.  Even as an enthusiastic owner of a Sony E-Reader I could never have given up my paper book habit, and I never left the store without purchasing several books (and I mean several each time) - I LOVED the fact that I could go up to Starbucks on the mezzanine floor and that I could lug a pile of books up there too and I could sit and decide what I'd buy.  As I said, I never left without buying something. 

Let It Snow...A Horse Owner's Perspective

Its the first time in years I can remember seeing snow pre-Christmas - I looked out the window last night and yikes, its snowing!   Is it snowing specially to make a point to all those people holed up in Copenhagen right now?   It looks so beautiful, so clean and so amazing and it was tempting to wrap a big blanket round myself and huddle round the fire with egg-nog (to be honest, I've never had egg nog, so being English it would probably be tea...?)

But then I remember that beautiful horse of mine and my conscience prods me into life - brrrr --

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

New Car!!!!!!

Well, I finally took delivery of my 'new' car (well, OK, its a used new car, but its new to me!) - I was sooooo glad to get rid of that old lemon!! 

Tempered with the happiness of having a new car though was the dreadful experience of dealing with the car dealership - I have to tell you, I hate the haggling, the 'horse trading' and the downright sneaky dirty tricks they try to pull to get you to part with even MORE money - want your paintwork protected?  How about paying a fortune for wheel insurance?  No?  Then try the three months free warranty - oh, OK, thanks so much.  But you can extend your warranty by twelve months for '£X' - oh - OK - so that'll be '£X' for 15 months will it? - its still twelve months - so WHERE did my free three months go exactly?.  Yeah.  You got it.  It never existed.

Currently Reading...

This is what I am currently reading...
The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice; this was a happy accident - .  it jumped off the shelf in a book-shop.   I have started this series out of sequence as it is one of a large series, but I plan on reading the others - vampire books are not usually a genre that appeal to me one iota, but this is fun; the central character Lestat (who as you might surmise is a vampire) should be an unappealing and hideous character but as a reader, I found myself liking him very much; the first book in the series is 'Interview with the Vampire' which I plan on sinking my teeth into as soon as possible...
The Horse Dancer by JoJo Moyes - a young girl lives with her Grandfather, who was a  long time ago a member of the elite French 'cadre noir' - a bit like the Spanish School of Riding but in France.   She lives on the wrong side of the tracks in a rough part of London and the one bright part of her life is her horse Boo; with her Grandfather she has been working on haute ecole movements with the horse which will one day, he hopes, give her a way out of the rough environment.   The grandfather has a stroke and the girl ends up in care...believing that she will have the horse taken off her, she chooses to conceal it which causes her terrible problems.  A lot of difficulties ensue for the carers and the child, which culminates with the child riding to France to try to show the Cadre Noir her horse; there is a second story going on about the carers, and a couple of others about the characters in the story so its not 'just' a horse-and-a-girl type book.   Even if you are not into horses, this is one of those wonderful tales that would be excellent for both adults and older children.  The result is unexpected, poignant, but ultimately positive. 

Art Journals & Creative Healing (Restoring the Spirit through Self-Expression) by Sharon Soneff and Mindy Caliguire - even had I been able to buy this as an E-book I wouldn't have done so, because this sort of book has to be read, handled and enjoyed - I toy with journal-keeping on a sort of wistful basis most of the time - its basically creative diary keeping, or a process of working through an event or an emotion or a way of keeping an art-based journal on whatever subject you choose.  Its a great idea, and I have lots of ideas for working on a variety of subjects...I'll occasionally start one and then other creative stuff will come along and push it aside and I feel ashamed of my pathetic efforts to keep up with it.  Journal keeping doesn't really have rules other than  you actually have to write it and keep up with it....and as good as my intentions are, I just cannot seem to do that.   The process though, when I do put effort in is rewarding and I have (in theory, at least, at various stages of being worked on) several which focus on my animals, my work, and so on.  This book's title is self-explanatory...the scope of the work and the subjects is inspiring.   I always feel that my journals should be more beautiful but the process is designed for the writer/author to work through that subject and not for the books to be open to the scrutiny of others.  In this book though, we do get to scrutinise the journal-keeping work of others...the book is full of advice and inspiration, so perhaps this one will make me put some work into the process.

The House on The Strand by Daphne du Maurier - it comes as a surprise to me how accessible and readable du Maurier's work is when I have not picked up one of her books for a while.  Considering her work was written a relatively long time ago, I sometimes fall into the trap of imagining it to be stuffy and stiff.   Not so.  She produced a lot of other work besides her most high profile books, Jamaica Inn and Rebecca, which are fabulous reads.   The House on the Strand is a story of drug-induced time-travel - which sounds a bit weird but is an original and inventive bit of storytelling with great atmosphere.   I loved this one; I plan on re-reading Rebecca and Jamaica Inn as soon as I can find the time. 

No, Really, I'm Not Actually Dead....

I apologise for having been so neglectful of my Blog of late.   We got off to a good start and then in the last month, well, you know when you realise you haven't done something for a while then it just gets harder and harder to do the thing you haven't done?  Its like ringing a friend you haven't spoken to for ages - all of a sudden for no particular reason you think its all going to be awkward.  And it rarely is.  I can speak from experience here because I once lost touch with a friend for ten years.  But during those ten years I still thought of her as my best friend.  OK, I know that's weird. 

Anyway....what's been happening?  Well apparently its Christmas.  I have to be honest, I hate Christmas.  I have this belief that we should be nice to each other all year round, not just because its a particular time of year.  I loathe the way we