The WIP report – April 2016

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It feels like I haven’t done that much crafting this month, although in reality I’ve probably actually done slightly more than normal. My poor diamond hex quilt was largely ignored for most of the month, with the completion and attachment of the pink diamond and the start of a new one, only done in the last few days. I am really liking though, that with the attachment of the pink diamond, the quilt top is now three columns wide, so I’m starting to see more what the finished thing will eventually look like.

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I spent a large chunk of the month finishing my multicoloured pattern embroidery, that was a lot of fun. I have plans for the finished piece of fabric but I need to get my brain in gear and actually do it.

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I had finished my pattern embroidery just before I was going to take Boy Lacer to a programming club, this involves a lot of sitting around and I didn’t have any other portable craft project to take with me (I know that my diamond hex quilt project is theoretically highly portable but I seem not to be the sort of EPP-er who makes up loads of pieces in advance and then sews them together, I’m a make up just a few pieces at a time, sew them together, then make up more and so on and so on, which makes it less of a portable craft, as I don’t want to take all my fabrics out with me). So I dug out a rather old piece of knitting to take, which is just a load of random stripes made out of cheerfully bright coloured wool. I haven’t touched this project in ages, my knitting mojo seems to have vanished. I had originally intended to make a knitted cushion with these stripes but I think looking at the width now, it might be a bit of a small knitted cushion, then I thought about just making a scarf but then I thought at the rate I was going, global warming would have truly rendered scarves unnecessary by the time I finished it. So I don’t know what I’m going to do with this piece of knitting, just enjoy the bright colours on the rare occasions I knit it, I guess.

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Without an embroidery project on the go (and my long term cross stitch projects still not seeming that interesting), I had to start another one, especially as Sublime Stitching has just released the cutest series of pillow border patterns. I plan to stitch all four, so won’t blog about it properly until they’re all complete, but I’ve just completed the first one, this is it, hanging up to dry after I washed the Sulky Solvy off.

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I have also just started a birthday present (a much smaller cross stitch, so it should be manageable), so *sssh* it’s a secret.

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I have been very very remiss with my drawing practice this month and I’m still working through March’s #cbdrawady (at a pace even a snail would be ashamed of). This is my latest effort, I had got confused for a bit, of course purses in the US are what we call bags in the UK.

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I have also been doing some more colouring, I absolutely love the Liberty colouring book, it was so relaxing watching the colours slowly spread across the page and I also love Tombow pens because other than the orange, which leaches through a little bit, the other colours don’t show up on the other side of the page!

Next month I need to finish that birthday present, embroider more pillowcases, do more diamond hex quilt, try and get my bum in gear to do something with the embroidered fabric I made, make some pyjamas, some trousers and a bag and I must, must, must, start drawing more regularly again.

Jonathan Dark or The Evidence of Ghosts

Jonathan Dark or The Evidence Of GhostsJonathan Dark or The Evidence Of Ghosts by A.K. Benedict

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took a little while for me to fall into total book love with Jonathan Dark Or The Evidence Of Ghosts but oh I was lapping it up by the end, definitely my favourite book of the year so far. It’s the second book by AK Benedict and I am desperate for her to write more, she creates these fantastical but believable worlds, where the extraordinary lurks just below the surface of the ordinary and she creates characters which make you just desperate to read more books about their adventures.

Benedict’s first book was set in Cambridge and involved time travel, this one is set in London and umm involves ghosts. Jonathan Dark is one of those depressed coppers with a miserable love life, he has been investigating the murder of a woman who had previously been stalked, for some time but with not much success, when it becomes clear that the stalker has another victim in his sights, Maria. Maria is an archeologist by profession, mudlark by hobby and she permanently wears a scarf around her eyes. Maria, born blind, had an operation that allowed her to see but she rejected it, preferring to live in the rich world of sound, smell, texture and taste but is she risking her life by still not taking the mask off, even when she knows she’s being stalked? The stalker is as creepy as anything, a far more well rounded and therefore more sinister villain, than the villain of Benedict’s first book, who was a bit pantomime-ish. I also particularly liked how some of the stalker’s thoughts were echoed in the scenes where Dark thinks about his separated from wife. Also I liked how you really are kept guessing right to the almost end about who the stalker actually is.

And of course there’s the ghosts, it’s quite handy when investigating murders to be able to talk to the victims, although Dark doesn’t know that at first. He moves next door to a funeral parlour and he becomes friends with Frank, who runs the business. There was a really poignant subplot involving the ghosts, which was really an interesting metaphor for depression I think. There’s also a much bigger sub plot about a sinister ring of influential people. Benedict ties all these strands together really well, it was great to read a story that was a bit more complex than some of the stuff I’ve been reading recently, yet still a really enjoyable read.

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5 things I liked this week -29.4.16

1. Getting closer to getting a date for my big op, I’ve been given two possible dates but it depends on whether an additional surgeon is available.

2. I’m trying to get back into listening to more music, I really love The Lumineers new album, it’s one of those albums where it feels comfortably familiar and good after even only one listen.

3. Continuing in the trying to get back into listening to more music theme, I really like Beyonce’s new album too. That’s not on Spotify (yet, presumably), so I actually bought in on iTunes (the shock of it, actually purchasing music😉 ). My favourite track definitely has to be Daddy Lessons , with Don’t Hurt Yourself (the one featuring Jack White), a close second but I love all of them.

4. Game of Thrones is back! Yay mad Kermit arms flail! I love how even after all the speculation since the last episode of the last series, the latest episode still keeps us guessing over the fate of Jon Snow. Certain people dismiss Game of Thrones as tits and dragons but nope, it’s definitely a show (and of course book series) that makes you think.

5. Girl Lacer is currently in a Carneige book group, so she’s reading the more senior books in the short list and although I haven’t read any of the books yet (I want to!), I love talking to her about books and how passionate she is about them.

The Ashes of London

The Ashes of LondonThe Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Ashes of London was fascinating, set in 1666, opening with The Great Fire of London, it follows Cat and Marwood, both grown children of Fifth Monarchists, a group that had been influential in the Civil War. With the monarchy only relatively recently back on the throne, there is some disgruntlement at the people who had executed the King’s father, most other people who had been involved in the Civil War had been officially pardoned but not the men who were directly involved in the king’s execution. Cat’s father is a fugitive, whilst Marwood’s father has been released from prison, his wits shattered. Cat lives with her wealthy and respectable uncle and step-aunt, whilst Marwood works as a clerk in Whitehall. When a body is found in the burnt out ruins of St. Paul’s, Marwood is brought in to help investigate. Meanwhile, Cat faces the prospect of marriage to a man she doesn’t love.

I loved how Taylor bought 1666 London to life, giving a window onto what it must have been like for Londoners, during and after the Great Fire. I remember learning about The Fire of London in school, just like everyone else, like where it started and why it spread but I had never really stopped to think about the people. I presume The Ashes of London is well researched, it certainly felt like it. I loved how despite this great big firestorm, many parts of London were still going about their business, having dinner parties and the like and how they’d even go and watch it. I found it fascinating the descriptions of the refugees afterwards followed by the work that started afterwards to clear and rebuild the city. How everyone was petrified by fire afterwards. I loved how so many of the street names in the story, are streets that I know today.

This is the first in a series and I am now desperate for more. It has been compared to the Shardlake books and I can see the comparison, I love the Shardlake books but actually I think this is even better, with a more complicated, satisfying plot. I would definitely recommend.

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Nonsuch

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On the way to another appointment (I truly am the professional patient), I stopped off at Nonsuch Park. I had allowed myself enough time to get to my appointment assuming bad traffic and amazingly there wasn’t any, hence the stop off. I’d never been to Nonsuch before but had heard of it many times in history books and historical novels, as one of King Henry VIII’s hunting lodges and I had always liked the sound of the name, so I went and had a look.

 

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Nonsuch Mansion, not to be confused with Nonsuch Palace, which according to Wikipedia was pulled down by Charles II’s mistress and the materials sold to pay off gambling debts

 

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The gardens around the mansion were on the smallish side but nice, there was a covered plant walkway which smelt divine.

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And also a small wooded area.

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There’s also a nice looking park around the mansion but I didn’t really have time to explore that. It was definitely nice to go and have a walk around a part of London I hadn’t seen before.

5 things I liked this week – 22.4.16

1. NASA really is trying to grow potatoes on Mars.

2. Catching a Heathrow Express bus on the way home from an appointment in Surrey. Okay it’s the little things but getting on a bus heading to Heathrow, sitting next to tourists taking last minute photos of our appalling weather and our even worse traffic, even if I get off it before it gets there, is the closest I’m going to get to a holiday, let alone a holiday abroad, for a long time. It also helps that the Express bus only has 5 stops before I’m home, unlike the gazillion torturous stops the bus I normally take takes. I’d take the Express more often but it’s not that frequent.

3. Quiet Play patterns are so good I’m almost tempted to learn how to paper piece.

 

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Geometric Squirrel from Quiet Play

 

4. A very excited Girl Lacer on hearing that I’ve just bought tickets for her to see her favourite group for her birthday.

5. Getting off the bus (on another day), quite a few stops early because the traffic was virtually at a stand still and walking the rest of the way by the river. It was a glorious day and a bit of the river I’ve never walked along before, so I spotted quite a few nice looking bars that would be worth a try. So thank you traffic jam!

The Beauty of Murder

The Beauty of MurderThe Beauty of Murder by A.K. Benedict

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

AK Benedict is purported to be the next Ben Aaronovitch and the publishers seem to be encouraging this (obviously) with a book cover rather similar to the Rivers of London books (the audiobook cover anyway – not pictured here). I can definitely see the similarity (beyond the book covers), although actually I think The Beauty of Murder is actually a bit deeper. The Beauty of Murder is about a newly arrived Cambridge academic, Stephen Killigan, who discovers a body which then disappears. Killigan studies metaphysics, so in the chapters from his viewpoint expect lots of deep thinking but his character does have a rather nice way with words. The villain of the piece though is much less well rounded and he veers very close to pantomime villain territory. The villain’s sidekick is not much better. I did like the policewoman character, Jane, though and she goes through an interesting side story.

I really liked the premise behind the story (it’s one of those fantastical ideas you’d really wish was actually true) and the ending was written in a way that you could definitely imagine some more stories with these characters, so I hope there will be. It’s a little worrying that Benedict’s next book (which I’ll definitely be reading soon), seems to feature completely different characters, so more Killigan please!

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