Monthly Archives: March 2009

WBD witch

Not me. It’s Winnie to the Rescue, which is two stories; Itchy Witchy and Winnie’s Book Day (clever use of the letters WBD).

Soon after I joined Facebook, Korky Paul popped up as a potential friend, but I had never heard of him. (Sorry, Korky!) Weird name, but one mustn’t be prejudiced. Somewhat unusual face, too, but who am I to talk? Anyway, we seemed to share a lot of Facebook friends, so he was worth investigating. I found that Korky does have a conventional name and a more conventional face, too.

Winnie the Witch

And now my WBD purchases have provided me with a Korky book about a witch, which is clearly my kind of thing. Itchy Witchy reminded me of Horrid Henry and the head lice, except here it’s fleas on cats that jump all over the place. Winnie’s Book Day is all about exploding libraries, I think, and the magic that can be found inside books. Well, we knew that!

According to Korky’s comment on Facebook, this WBD book is doing well.

A blog visit

It was an internet kind of weekend, if you don’t count the hotel which was unable to connect me to it. “Has madam ever used her laptop before, and has she gone on the internet in the past?’ Well, you tell me! Do you reckon I have enough internet experience after two years of boring you stiff?

Take away the internet, and I probably would have had to help the Resident IT Consultant mow the grass, instead of basking in the German spring sunshine. As it was, I was close to entering a competition with Lowebrow on our respective domestic dust levels at the very moment the Resident IT Consultant removed the dust I was about to boast about, from the chandelier. 

We both agreed that we waste a lot of time on the internet. But it brought us together, and many other valuable connections would also have remained unconnected. We spent a whole afternoon talking books and writing, and if there had been no plane to catch, we’d still be at it. 

Coming from a bilingual household, it was good to visit another, with a different mix of languages. I still don’t think it’s impolite to speak the ‘other’ language in front of people, and I quite liked being allowed to listen to German without having to try and speak it.

And it’s very useful to have found someone who wants the books I’m finished with. My suitcase very nearly burst with books, and that was before we added the Cheddar. Also fun to find a mother more forgetful than myself at times. Fancy asking your son if he takes sugar!

On the other hand, I’ve already forgotten if Gypsy is an English speaking dog or a German speaking one.

Culture goes to Köln

Darjeeling with Roger Whittaker

Today – what’s left of it. Hotels who fail in the internet access department are not my most favourite ones… – you just have to head over to Culture for her review of the Roger Whittaker concert in Köln. She and Daughter worked very hard all Saturday, what with the Chocolate Museum, having tea with Roger and then going to the concert.

But when you think about it; someone has to.

Ten Stations

There’s less to count these days, but I still do it. Whenever I leave a train, or a bus, and especially planes and airport lounges and the like. I count the bags and the people I brought with me. Luckily we only had the one suitcase the time Offspring and I had to jump off a train into a field in the dark in southern Sweden, and Son was big enough to look after it, while I hauled Daughter.

We had a few more items to count, the year the Resident IT Consultant took it upon himself to be in hospital at the wrong end of Sweden, when it was time to leave the country. After sympathising for a couple of days the ghastly witch decided to leave without him, which meant rather more luggage than intended. ‘I’ll pick you up at the airport said neighbour PS’, but I don’t think he had contemplated quite how to move me and Offspring and ten bags/cases through the barricaded-off bit where only taxis could go.

On the cover of WBD book Ten Stations by Jenny Valentine, it says ‘Remember to take all your family when leaving the train…’ Obviously they don’t, or there wouldn’t be a story to tell. It’s a great tale, about losing Grandad and little brother on a ten station tube journey.

Great Bear tube map

It’s Lucas from Finding Violet Park, and his sister, who do the losing. Ironic, when you consider the pains he took to look after the urn with Violet’s ashes in the first book. Not only is it good to re-visit former book characters, but it’s an enlightening story on family ties.

Loved their alternate tube map by Simon Patterson, travelling between Peter Fonda and Arthur Schopenhauer (Camden Town to South Kensington).


I have noticed that other book bloggers photograph the new books that plop through their letterboxes and post the photos on their blogs. However good they look, I’ve never had the urge, much. But there is always a first time, and I’ll blame this on that instinct to browse forever in stationery shops, drooling over notebooks and other wonderful must-haves.

When I enthused ‘a little’ about Debi Gliori’s velvet book covers recently, the lovely Lauren from Random stepped in, and sent me two velvet wonders. I thought the purple one I already owned was nicer than anything else, but just look at that blue and turquoise!

Velvet by Debi Gliori

I had barely caught my breath when, lo and behold, the red and green and black (are you thinking chocolate, now?) velvet arrived, courtesy of Debi herself. I haven’t photographed the signed pages, because if you could see how great they look you’d just be so jealous.

Will be carrying the books around as accessories to match my clothes in future.

I expect the stories inside the covers will be quite good, too.

Old style magic

‘The badger sent me’, says Linnet’s friend Petroc by way of explanation, when he turns up unexpectedly in the middle of Lucy Coats’s book Hootcat Hill. I just can’t resist a line like that.

Linnet discovers to her surprise that she is the Maiden Guardian, and that her village Wyrmesbury is about to be devoured by a previously dormant monster, unless she steps in and does courageous stuff with magic she didn’t even know she possessed.

So far in life Linnet has had few friends, apart from Petroc, and she is bullied at school. Her parents don’t pay as much attention to her as she’d like, and they hardly notice when she has her first lessons in magic, staying out late at night.

This is a lovely book, which reminded me a little of Jonathan Stroud’s Buried Fire. It also made me think of Alan Garner. It has a timeless feel to it, which is welcome, when so many books are defined by the point in time when they were written. Hootcat Hill could have been written longer ago than last year when it was first published, and I hope that means its appeal will last a long time.

Lucy has borrowed freely from ‘existing’ myths and our own world, while setting her story in another world, and changing facts and names ever so slightly. It’s modern and seemingly normal, while also being totally new and different. And it’s nice with a heroine who giggles and makes inappropriate jokes while trying to impress the creatures she meets en route on her rescue mission.

Have to wonder how Lucy could base her character Gilla on me, though?


I was ready to moan the other day about the second coming of GCSEs, but had no time, as I was busy with someone’s GCSEs. I was also far too ready to ridicule the Guardian for their front page headline about the poor parents who don’t make it into the school of their choice. It’s the children who go to school. The parents only push for the ‘right one’.

But as I was saying, that might have been premature, since I’m now hard at work for someone’s exams. German is no easier 35 years after I left school, but I will still look over homework and indicate if I’m happy or not.

And now, a few days later, I have been doing Art. Or rather, I’ve been finding flowers (it is March) for the Art exam. That’s not cheating, I promise. But it’s work. We are allergic to flowers of most kinds, so have a basement full of fakes. They come out in a vaguely seasonal order each year, except for today when they came out all at once to be photographed.

While that took place I searched through iPhoto for flower pictures, and a surprising number of them come with world famous authors attached. I’m sure that doesn’t matter. In the exam you may well find a purple author, or similar. Purple prose. No, maybe not.

Pictures. Flowers. Art.

Tired parent. But at least I did get into the school of Offspring’s choice. No, they did.