Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Hen Shuffle: a Shuffleathon 2007 review

I'm going with the standby reviewing format of track by track. This is not least because at first glance I've not heard of most of the artistes, let alone the songs. That's brilliant as I always like to find new stuff.

With a cracking drum intro, the Hen Shuffle kicks off with a real bang - and a clear statement of intent. "I've done all the dumb things". That would be Australian icon Paul Kelly's work. I'm in quite an upbeat mood from this and a fairly self-reflecting and defiant one too.

We then move onto a slower paced but equally percussion driven track with "That's When I think of you" by 1927. Hmmm. I'm beginning to spot another trend here: there's a distinct antipodean flavour to these tracks! Hey, that's well cool given that this house of Rullsenberg and Roberts has considerable links with the southern hemisphere via Neil's family in NZ and so many friends in Australia.

Right: we now have a piano introduced track - and here comes that cracking percussion again! Woo-hoo! And more than that, this has the sort of lyrics that I just feel SOOOO in-tune with. "I will not go quietly": now doesn't that title just ooze Rullsenberg bolshie-ness!? So with a big hands in the air whoop, I hereby declare that this Southern hemisphere inflected collection is hitting the spot. This track will certainly get airplay in the house on a VERY regular basis. Well done Whitlams.

Onto the next and the pace keeps upward with a mid-tempo, cymbal crack sentiment. There's a real sense of being jollied along here with some carefully thought-through selections. Even with the (male) perspective on life, there's something so affirming about the tunes and lyrics that you can't help but be swept along. So thank you Custard for your "Girls like that".

And now as we start towards the middle zone, there's a definite slowing of pace and its here that we get the softer familiar voices of Savage Garden: with lyrics speaking more directly to a female recipient, we have the tenderness of "Crash and Burn". I certainly think I know of several people who will appreciate these lines:
When you feel all alone
And the world has turned its back on you
Give me a moment please
To tame your wild wild heart

Let me be the one you call
If you jump I'll break your fall
Lift you up and fly away with you into the night
If you need to fall apart
I can mend a broken heart
If you need to crash then crash and burn
You're not alone
Keeping that tone of offering one's self to the beloved, we have the even gentler musical constructions of Crowded House: "Fall at your feet". Again, there is the echo of an offer of caring attention that may not go anywhere but where the love is given in endless hope of something more. Yeah, we have all seen that...

Opening with soft guitar plucking under quirkily half-sung/spoken lyrics, later picking up a slow percussive beat, we now take a very different route. And then we get some jazzy trumpet playing come in: oooh, this is kinda funky! So I get introduced to yet another new band in The Cat Empire and their uplifting "The Crowd". Very nice indeed!

It's a long way in but there it is: a female voice. Welcome Missy Higgins with "Ten Days"! This reminds me very much of someone else but I can't quite make the link - there's elements of the voice of Raissa but not quite. But there's a lovely strings interlude here and everyone here knows how I'm a sucker for the use of strings in pop music.

Again, it's a mid-to-slow paced burner with Hunter and Collectors' "Throw Your Arms Around me" (video here). Again there is the familiar and reasurring drive of a percussive sound and yet another melancholic desire in the lyrics. Overall, I get a sense of longing from this collection - a defiance but also deeply romantic character, acutely aware of relationships, change, unrequited emotions... Of course, that may not be the case at all - hell I have a real penchant for the same... hmm, that may not actually refute my interpertation...

Moving on, we next have a soothing electronica shuffling track by George "Breathe in Now". I especially like the female voice of Katie Noonan. Hmmm: that's throwing my iTunes as I have two other tracks by a band called George from the Pickled Egg collection Jar. Let's just try that out: yep, that voice sounds familiar! Yeah! Brilliant: I already have something by these people.

And so we come to the final track: John Williamson's "True Blue" - a more than heart on sleeve and wryly humoured pean to Australian-ness.

So how has this collection been received in the Rullsenberg house? Very well. Pretty much all the tracks on here will get good rotational airplay, with perhaps only the Missy Higgins track striking a less than fully memorable bullseye. But I can definitely say that the Whitlams track will be well-circulating in recommendations and I'll also be following up on artistes to get more of their work.

Thank you Suburban Hen. A big hit!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Shuffleathon 2007 - sent and received!

Well, I now know that despite the best efforts of a delayed UK postal service, the CD I sent in for Swiss Toni's Shuffleathon 2007 has been received. [There's a regularly updated table at the end of this post].

And now I get home and find my gift CD also safely arrived! Hurrah!

A review will be duly posted when I've had chance to fully the goody bag sent to me!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hak Mao blog birthday

Happy birthday snappy cat...

My Black Country boys

Cloud had a bit of moment of joy reading friend Nick's post about the Black Country accent... (Nick has since done a follow up post on the topic).

It's worth directing you to them: enjoy!

Brief Film Review: Little Miss Sunshine

After a year of badgering by various fans of Little Miss Sunshine, we finally got around to watching it. I needed something life affirming, something funny but moving. I got it in bucketloads.

What a completely charming piece of work... I know it wasn't to everyone's taste (Emma: that's you!) but for me and Cloud it was a perfect film for a Monday night in late October.

Brief comedy review: Sean Hughes, Nottingham Playhouse - Saturday 20 October 2007

Sean Hughes current tour seems to be having a rather erratic impact.

All I can say is that I did laugh a lot, but he did tread dangerously close to some unfunny territory, the audience was VERY hard labour indeed for a comic, and I was really glad I wasn't sat closer to the front.

Brief update: health

Currently I am:

  • exhausted

  • have coldsores

  • have back pain

  • find lunchbreaks are a novelty

  • starting work closer to my usual time/finishing nearly on-time, but all this now means is that I'm actually getting further behind in my workload
Anyone think that my job needs to be made permanently funded and that we need more staff?

Friday, October 19, 2007

More Doctor Who fan phrasebook material: Keith Topping has been busy again

Courtesy (of course) of the good people of Behind the Sofa*, comes this gem from Keith Topping. You remember last time? More of the brilliantly hilarious same people...

"And now on BBC one, more time-travelling adventures with Doctor Who. Record the whole series."
The schedulers will be arsing about with the start time over the course of the next month or so.

"Right now on BBC THREE, it's more of the Doctor..."
We've finally worn a hole in our tapes of "Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please".

Russell, just leave and cancel the new series NOW!
Yes, I spent the last sixteen years bitching and moaning, protesting outside the BBC and threatening to chain myself to their railings, writing angry letters to Points of View, plotting ways to firebomb Michael Grade's house and get away with it, smashing my TV set with a hammer on the front page of the tabloids, releasing unlistenable protest records and begging on my knees for someone to please, please, please, pretty please bring back Doctor Who, only to suddenly change my mind as soon as the show becomes popular again with people who are aren't me.

RTD can't write for toffee.
Uh-huh, I really did just suggest that one of the most respected writer/producers that British television has produced in two decades can't write because I - wretched done-nothing berk that I am - didn't like an example of his work.

RTD needs to quit!!!
I don't like his episodes. Even though a lot of people do. But I think I'm special and important, so I think the show should be written to my exact specifications.

And this one especially for MediumRob...
Murray Gold's music is too loud/intrusive/generally awful.
Ah, I remember Deadly Dudley Simpson with such fondness.

*Yes, I have no doubt that the Behind the Sofa design team have deliberately chosen the backdrop as the most anti-current Who fan-base pic imaginable...

They're still the bee's knees of funniness though...

OK Computer play

OK Computer - a Radio Four Friday play.

By Joel Horwood, Chris Perkins, Al Smith and Chris Thorpe.

A celebration of Radiohead's seminal 1997 album OK Computer which draws on themes from each of its 12 tracks.

A man wakes up in a hospital in Berlin. He has no memory of who he is, or where he comes from. Once the details of his life are recovered, he is repatriated to Britain and into his former life. But he is haunted by the suspicion that this is not his real life at all.

Paul ...... Tom Brooke
Sarah ...... Liz White
Helen ...... Federay Holmes
Owen ...... Pieter Lawman
Boss ...... Chris Thorpe

Producer Lu Kemp.

Cloud reckons its quite good...

Gig review: The Decemberists at Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton 5 October 2007

Sorry for the lateness of this.

Setlist: approximate
Crane Wife 3
The Island: Come and See; The Landlord's Daughter; You'll Not Feel the Drowning
The Gymnast, High Above the Ground
Yankee Bayonet
[Impromptu version of 'You are my Sunshine' and a folk song (sorry, unclear what it was) for reasons to be explained]
Crane Wife 1
As I Rise
Shankhill Butchers
O Valencia!
The Chimbly Sweep
The Perfect Crime #2
Sons & Daughters

Reviews can also be found here and here.

Photo by Rullsenberg: The Decemberists, Wulfrun Hall, Wolves 5 Oct2007

Photo by Rullsenberg: The Decemberists, Wulfrun Hall, Wolves 5 Oct2007
[Apologies for the awful shaky camera work here - my pixels are poorly]

Anyway, this was a rather odd gig. As those who were hoping to see later gigs on the tour will now know and will be grinding their teeth at, post-this gig, the tour was cancelled. You see, lead singer Colin got a bad case of the Wolverhampton curry tummy (or so it seems) and really was on struggling form for the Wolves gig. Consequently, they've subsequently pulled the tour. Methinks that they won't be back in Wolves for a while.

That's a shame since against the odds he and the band turned in a fine performance, in a gloriously intimate venue, albeit one that seemed to miss certain expectations of the audience. Many wanted material from Picareque (me: I would have died and gone to heaven if they had played something from Picaresqueties, especially either Bandit Queen or their wonderful cover of the Joanna Newsom track Bridges and Balloons with its invocation of Cair Paravel). But what they did was grand: and we did get some older tracks from Castaways and Cutouts and from Her Majesty, The Decemberists which alongside the dominant material from The Crane Wife were beautifully played and conveyed to the crowd. I still choked up at O Valencia! ("and your frame went limp in my arms") and Jenny Conlee did some seriously prog-rock gesturing as she played the keyboards with gusto.

Overall, not the grand experience we might have hoped for, but a definite confirmation of their wonderful music. Sorry EineKleineRob, especially after I think it was us who introduced you to them.

If you ever get to Friday and need a lift...

...just check out the lovely E at Joe's place. She really is an unbeatable provider of smiles and delight in the world.

Somehow the world always feels better after looking at E pics...

A reminder that good things come to those who wait...

Billy recently praised the lovely Marie's book, "Gods Behaving Badly" which, if you haven't already read it should be on your 'to buy and read' list!

[PS the link on Marie is to her new open blog rather than Struggling Author which is members only].

PS Sorry MediumRob

I think you got the short end of my long absence from blogging as you have just been inflicted with multiple comments from me! Trust me Medium readers, he does have other commenters!!

What would your child say if...

... they were given some of these books on Xmas day to 'encourage them to grow up rich'...?

Hat tip to John for this disturbing gem...

Sapphire and Steel - follow this up!

Anna asked a very reasonable question and got the best sort of answer(s) possible.

Yes: Sapphire and Steel IS worth watching

It's on my to-buy list!

Dressing David Tennant

Not, actually of course (because you know that's not the way round I'd want to do things), but I have to say that when I first followed Anna's link to this, my initial thought was 'why does it have non-removable boxer shorts?'

I am, without doubt, lost, irredeemably lost...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Things I know today that I didn't know yesterday

I missed Matt_C's birthday. Forshame.

I missed Paul Evans putting Stapleford on the blogging map via his Normblog profile.

I learned that there really are some very strange people in the world.

I learned that film makers can subvert distribution difficulties made worse by bigots.

I also discovered that after way too long away from MediumRob's wonderful blog that he has a new 'quick comments' facility that wasn't there on my last visit (which will age how long it has been since I last formally visited). There will be precisely ZERO prizes for anyone who guesses which of the quick comments on offer made me laugh aloud....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Film Review: 3:10 to Yuma

Of course, the likelihood is that by now this year's remake of 3:10 to Yuma has long since departed the few cinemas where it had its brief run.

That's a real shame because in truth it's actually rather a good film, with much to commend and lots that I enjoyed.

Sure, it stars Russell Crowe and I know for some of you that may not be an incentive. However, it certainly WAS an incentive for Lisette [and, ahem, for me: hey, what can I say? Crowe with an added layer of floppy hair (even if not quite 'The Quick and the Dead' excess) pushes my buttons somewhat...]

So, yes, Crowe; but also Bale. Now come on, that HAS to be a good call. Bale is at least interesting in what he does, and can turn in a beautifully nuanced performance easily even in below par movies (which this wasn't I must add). In recent years, we have had The Machinist, which is at the very least a fascinating film.

Crowe, Bale: what else do we have?

Well, there's the basis of a very fine movie with it picking up a good starting point. I know the original film, and though this is different, it has the right echoes of such a classic Western period (even if the original isn't quite the classic some have tried to claim it to be). The different ages of the protaganists between the films - they 'feel' much older in the 1950s version - adds a different dynamic to the narrative.

It's worth noting that despite a somewhat low-key response to the remake, reviews have been largely very positive: check out the Rotten Tomotoes site for a good overview. Many films do not get such a keen response across so many reviewers.

For me, there were several factors that raised the level of pleasure I could take from this film:
  • the cast - not just the fabulous leads, who each turn in neat performances showing off their best skills (wounded, conflicted heroism for Bale; seductive arrogant violence-beneath-the-surface for Crowe), but also the supporting cast, including a lovely turn from Alan Tudyk (well appreciated as Wash in Serenity/Firefly), an almost unrecognisable Peter Fonda, and an appropraitely terrifying turn from Ben Foster.

  • the cinematography and setting - used to full effect, locations and cinematography come together well here under the control of Phedon Papmicheal (an unlikely figure for such good work given much on his resume). Then again, can you go wrong with such landscape?

  • the music - the score is lovely. Plenty of shades of pilfering the historical repetoire of Morricone's scores for Leone, but that can't be a bad thing. There are some truly uplifting and heart-racing sequences in the film, made even more powerful by the music.

Ultimately, this was a thoroughly emotional and gripping story with fine performances and a grand pace. It probably won't win any/many awards but for an overall feel, it probably deserves some.

If you've missed it, consider it a good rental/purchase on DVD. I'll certainly be watching it again, especially as I missed out taking Cloud to see it.

Wonga's link to Bravia bunnies and more

Awesome link Monsieur Wonga; hope your server shift is going okay.

This has made my day: and given that currently my days are pretty endlessly frustrating amounts of "oh-my-lawdy-I-can't-keep-up" it was MUCH needed.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Delayed post: Book reviews: "The Raw Shark Texts" and "Book Lover"

Two very different books but heopfully reviewing together will make sense!

The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall
It's rather telling that just as the website for the book (above link) is full of the same tricksiness as the book, so too it inspires other equally tricksy sites, alongside some positive reviews.

For me, I enjoyed this book in the same way I enjoyed - and continue to enjoy re-reading - Danielewski's "House of Leaves".

Just as I like The Princess Bride for its tricksiness of fairytale telling (even as it lovingly recreates a similar narrative), so too I can really enjoy intentionally tricksy texts like Hall's Raw Shark Texts and Danielewski's astonishing debut novel.

The Raw Shark Texts has at its heart a range of sci-fi ideas and movies, alongside obvious Moby Dick and Jaws references: but alongside the typographic visual stunts there is both an intriguing exploration of self and a very traditional love story. I couldn't ask for more.

Book Lover by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack
In apparently complete contrast< I now bring you a brief review of Book Lover, a book being largely sold as 'chick lit', although actually it's a lot smarter than that (and its partly why these two books go better together than you may at first think).

A trawl through the reviews on Amazon alone makes it clear that whilst there is a light edge to the tale, as a fictional working of the topic of 'books about books' it was obviously going to appeal to me. Woven throughout are references to books and their writers, readers and subjects: Dora (our supposed heroine - though she is far from likeable) is a book addict, and as any book addict knows, we can know and recognise our own kind in an instance.

Perhaps what also enabled me to enjoy the book is hinted at in its original US title: 'Literacy and Longing in L.A.'. No surprise to find I read this in the wake of our holiday to LA so at least some of the references meant something to me (indeed, it was wonderful to be able to visualise some of the locales).

Taking the story of a world-weary rich kid who wants love to be something more than real life seems to throw at her, who wants the intellectual stimulation that so arouses her senses, it would be easy to tire of her spoiled attitudes and excess lifestyle. But as we realise that she can and does have a heart - and that not all that can seem wonderful IS wonderful - we follow her story with increased interest just as she links her own to her favourite classic narratives.

There's a nice list of refs at the end (and the end of the story DOESN'T neatly wrap up everything as you might expect). Like The Raw Shark Texts, it is knowing of its tricksiness in referencing literature, even as it provides a romp of a chick lit read. Again, a thoroughly enjoyable read.

The Princess Bride

Finally got Cloud to watch The Princess Bride: for years I knew of it (both the book and the film) and had had Lisette raving of its joys, then a couple of years ago she got it on DVD during one of our summer weekends at aunties and we indulged in its brilliance. Now Neil finally knows what we are on about.

It is just SUCH a lovely film: clever and knowing and yet so old-fashioned too. And hopefully a good set-up for seeing Stardust soon.

Its no good: I'm just way too behind with things!

Its all spiralling out of control!

I've just spent an hour or so trying to catch up on a load of fan fic, I've written two posts and realised that I have to upload pics for several others, I've got Cloud downstairs sneezing like Sneezy of the 7 dwarfs (with a corresponding dread fear from me that I may come down with his cold - something my boss would be less than chuffed about since we're so stretched at work presently), and I'm still guilting a little at having taken a day away from house and work stuff - let alone online activities - to go to Lincoln yesterday.

FYI we went to Mrs Miggin's Pie Shop Brown's Pie Shop and Restaurant, Reader's Rest bookshop (got the Buffy book of the SunnyDale High year book!!!) and went to a Vintage clothes fair where Cloud impressed a stallholder by encouraging me TO buy more clothes. I picked up a very fetching gold/orange brocaded jacket and dress [stunning, but needs to be worn as separates rather than as a pair!] and a very lovely once-I-had-tried-it-on-I-had-to-buy-it blue lace 1930s dress with a lace jacket.

It's similar - but not the same as - this image here. When Cloud lets me have the pics he took of me wearing it, I'll post it here.

Soon I will be off to watch The Princess Bride with Cloud. I'll try and keep up and catch up folks but stay with me - I'm aware I don't want to let those I read down but there just aren't enough hours in the day at the mo!

Nudge me with emails if you need to.


Once upon a time there were some very belated posts about a holiday - and here is the end...

You had:
Part One - London
Part Two - London to LA
Part Three - LA
Part Four (a) - New Zealand (which took readers up to the train to Picton for a visit up to Wellington)

And then you kinda had Part Four (b) - New Zealand (which started to take you through the Wellington trip...)

And then things kinda faded... hmm. Sorry 'bout that.

So here to make up for that fading holiday review, is a shorter than hoped but finally completed review of the rest of the holiday.

Wellington, back to Christchurch, back to LA, back to old Blighty...

Alongside the joys of Cuba Street we also took great pleasure in visiting Te Papa, the National Museum of New Zealand and of the harbour in which it is situated. But it was definitely to Cuba Street we kept returning: with its grafitti murals and excellent restaurants, it was too much fun to miss. Especially when walking from it at night, we were able to see most of the progression of the lunar eclipse (sadly, at precisely the moment when the moon went dusky red with the eclipse, a thundering amount of cloud emerged and completely obliterated any further viewing of the hidden moon... shame).

Next day I once more braved the rip-tide between Wellington and the Marlborough Sounds and was grateful to reach sight of Picton (even if we were delayed by having to let the sister ferry depart harbour).

Back on dry land, we dozed our way back home to Oxford and the waiting pick-up of Neil's parents. We subsequently enjoyed several more days: eating at Cust's Cafe 72 (after which we saw a brief Nor'wester blow in); a trip up on the Christchurch Gondola (from which were these spectacular views [oops, not sure what that last one is doing there!]); a walk around Ferrymead Heritage Park where we enjoyed viewing historical properties and strange views; followed by beautiful sunsets; views of Art Deco Christchurch and some stunning clouds; more astonishing sunsets; saw a public artwork about dyslexia; saw lambs; and finally saw the first spot of really bad weather all holiday in New Zealand on the day we left.

After that it was a flight to Auckland and another 12 hour haul to LA (this was our plane as seen just after we had landed in LA: heat and sun!), where thanks to datelines we landed before we had took off from NZ... very confusing!

We trotted off to El Segundo (where thankfully Neil did not leave his wallet) and the tram network and back on to Hollywood, catching some filming whilst there. Neil stood by the feet of hero Walter Matthau outside Grauman's at night, and we then took in a brief visit to the bar at the top of the LAX Radisson hotel, offering great views of the airport and surrounding area lights and light sculptures.

What we really only discovered on waking the next day was that just prior to arrival, LA had had a rather tricky period of hot weather: well over 100 degree heat, and up to 110/120 in the hills... So with glee we felt quite pleased it was 'only' going to be about 75-80 degrees as we left LAX and took ourselves on our promised trip to the Getty Centre. However, minus a car this trip was easier said than done (and no, frankly I would not have made Neil drive that city even if he had wanted to!). For the first part of the journey we were fine: we took the Line 2 bus out along Sunset Boulevard and enjoyed passing sights such as the Viper Room (RIP River), bits of Bel Air, Beverley Hills and UCLA. But then we got to the point where we had to change buses. Trouble brewed as the road system routes (which way are we facing!?) completely defeated us for over an hour...

We were tantilisingly within sight, but couldn't get to it!

Finally, by luck rather than judgement we saw the bus coming and got on it and a few short mins later were at the entrance to the Getty.


The mono-rail ride up alone was amazing: the sights once there were breathtaking. With the Getty munificence, it's all free - the art, the architecture, the gardens and of course the views.

So although it had been pretty tough to get to, it was sure worth it. Especially on such a beautiful day. I'd definitely like to go back to spend more time there - even if Cloudy Neil does tease it should be on a Getty Fellowship!

Post-Getty, it was just perfect for a trip down to Santa Monica and the promenade where we piled more books into our bags, strolled about, ate at a Greek Taverna and had a fabulously entertaining taxi ride back with an Armenian driver berating the state of the US economic system and the horrors of corruption in eastern Europe.

After that and some sleep it was packing all the way: we had left the UK with one large holdall (which didn't) and a moderate sized hardcase (which had leaked). We'd already bought ANOTHER hard case (to compensate for any problems we amy have with the old hard case. But all our books and t-shirts and other joys had left us cramped already without the 2nd LA trip purchases. So off we trotted to TJ Maxx (TK Maxx to UK readers) and bought ANOTHER suitcase.

En route we had to pass under the flight paths of the incoming flights (sadly I couldn't quite capture the sign complaining 'No LAX expansion' on the Airport Office Center building just as a plane passed overhead): this was a weird experience especially when you consider this shot of a passing plane was taken with NO ZOOM WHATSOEVER!!! Yes, it WAS that low...

Homeward bound, we lost sight of the LA coast and of the outskirts of Las Vegas (howdy Joe!), and of the wilds of the rocky inland areas of the USA and finally hit sight of the UK shores where we enjoyed a calm descent over the Lakes and Blackpool and the fluffy cotton ball clouds of the UK.

It had been a grand holiday.

George's holiday in the lake district (aka is there such a thing as too much rain?)

George provides some fabulous pictures and write-ups of his trip to the lakes last month, which culminated in the stop-over in Nottingham...

Fabulous stuff - and you even get to see Neil, me and G with Robin Hood himself!

Delayed posts: Hardwick Hall and Willesley Woods 16 September 2007

On Sunday 16 September 2007, Cloudy and Neil and I decided to have a day out. Well, we thought we deserved it.

We headed up the M1 to Hardwick Hall ("more glass than wall"), a local National Trust property we had often driven past - usually on the way to Sheffield - and of which we had frequently said "we really should go there".

Well, it was a good day with plenty of sun and some pretty clouds so we paid up our parking fee and then went to pay our entrance costs...

Hmmm, actually, this would work out better for us if we actually JOINED the National Trust: not only would we get in free/park free for the rest of the year but we would also today get a free cream tea each (which seemed a nice additional treat for the day).

So we signed up and now we are members of the NT. How very middle-class of us!

It was a fabulous and fascinating place to visit: the 'New' Hall, the one Bess of Hardwick is best known for is indeed an astonishing building. Even - or sometimes especially - where refurbishment is still taking place, it is historically interesting. For an art/architectural historian (me) it has some real treats with its images and tapestries especially, and there's plenty of quirks in its tales: e.g. the long gallery tapestries were actually made for someone else and the dog images of the previous person's emblem were over-sewn with antlers to make the Hardwick crest!

Bess, rich enough to challenge Queen Elizabeth herself for wealth, was an astute climber of the social ladder: four husbands and good management of her wealth assured her of that. (Cloud did suggest that her 'looking after her husbands' including some judicious portions of arsenic!)

Photo by Rullsenberg: Neil at Hardwick Hall, Sept 16 2007

We were also able to take advantage of the co-running of the 'Old' Hall by the NT and English Heritage to get free entry there too: the Old Hall was in use still when one of the old Dukes of Devonshire decided he really wanted to look out on a ruin (this being the 17th/18th century moment where ruins were deemed beautiful things to look at). So despite servants still leaving there, he simply decided to strategically demolish parts of it to create his new vista: nice.

Photo by Rullsenberg: Old Hardwick Hall, Sept 16 2007

Despite it being late in the day, after leaving Hardwick I really wanted to head down the motorway and visit Willesley Wood, where Lisette kindly planted us some trees last year. So in fading light we got lost in the wilds of Leicestershire and eventually found the newly planted trees of Willesley.

Photo by Rullsenberg: Neil at Hardwick Hall, Sept 16 2007

All in all, a very nice way to spend the day...

EineKleineRob: congratulations on your performance in Rebus...

... but how did you get up the tree?

Both me and Cloud took one look at John Stahl as Andrew McCleod in Friday night's Rebus episode and we both thought "EineKleineRob's an actor?!"

Friday, October 12, 2007

On the Qs

Bless him, just as I only get a fleeting chance to read a few blogs, Paul Fuzz comes up with a gem!

Q awards - take your bow for pointlessness: you've been Fuzzed.

Start your day with a click

Apparantly, there just aren't enough clicks happening at the Breast Cancer Site to provide free screenings.

Go on, click.

And also consider the Child Health, Literacy, Rainforest and Animal Welfare clicks...

Everything is accessible via the Hunger Site.

On the new armed forces memorial

It's just a thought, and maybe it says more about how my mind works. I was listening to Radio 4 discussing the new armed forces memorial being opened today in Alrewas, Staffordshire...

They said it was for all those killed since 1948 (this is confirmed here).

I couldn't help think "why 1948?" when WWII ended in 1945...

I'm just acutely aware of my mother's cousin who died near Haifa between the years of 1945 and 1948, as did many others...

Would that be an inconvenient commemoration?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

How come no one told me about my apostrofly?

I've had an apostrofly sitting in Marie's Struggling Author blog listing which read - till just now - "member's only".

I am mortified and have changed it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday

Hey, look, given my erratic postings - and postal strikes - I thought I should say it to myself!

Hopefully at the weekend I will be able to spend most of my time online catching up with the HUGE backlog of posts I owe - now including our visit to see The Decemberists at Wolverhampton.

Cheers to all and I will TRY and get onto bloglines or better still each of your blogs to review your remarks!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Yoko's poem for John

John Lennon would have been 67 today.

As an aside, is anyone else listening to the narrative that started on R4 yesterday (on at 7.45pm after Front Row) about a man's reaction to the death of John Lennon and the man's relationships after finding out about the death?

A state of being rubbish

I know, I KNOW!

If you knew the state of the inside of my head, you'd be worried.

That outside of my head - house building stuff, work - is even worse, does not make for a very coherent or blog checking Lisa Rullsenberg...


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Marie's new blog

The Woman Who Talked too Much.

It's as good as ever and is OPEN.


And against her better judgements, she rather undoes her own efforts to NOT make it include refs to DT or Doctor Who by mentioning latter in sentence 3 of her first post.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Apologies: my working life feels like constant fire-fighting at present and my attentiveness to things at home (blogging, emailing etc) is sliding away from me.

Stay with me folks. I will aim to resume normal service - whatever that is! - ASAP.

In the meantime, I at least feel 'happy' that I think I have something suitably put together for the Shuffleathon. I just have to burn and make it. And post it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Defining "physical exertion"

From the BBC:
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also known as ME, is a condition with a diverse range of symptoms but particularly characterised by profound muscle fatigue after physical exertion.
To say it's a lot more complicated than that would be an understatement - not least for defining and naming the illness. I'd also remark that, for some, 'exertion' can equate to 'filling a kettle with water and putting it on to boil': that rather puts that definition of physical exertion into a different category than, say, running up a flight of stairs.

I try not to get cranky about these issues, but for anyone experiencing ME, the shorthand of the BBC article would certainly have irked. And when the Communications Manager for Action for ME spoke up, I can't help but hear a typeface for irony/sarcasm in her voice:
Heather Walker, Communications Manager, Action for ME, said: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if eating chocolate every day could alleviate the symptoms of chronic illness?

"If it were that easy, there would not be 250,000 people in the UK today whose lives are being been devastated by ME."