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Showing posts from 2008

Christmas Eve

The Flying Frenchman - Olympia 2008

If anything cried out to be televised; it must be this.



and some brilliant photographs here.

Sussex Carol

Olympia 2008

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Saturday

Daughter and I are going to Olympia today with friends, hurrah, but this does of course mean that I will miss, oh sob, the Strictly Final. Just hope our video recorder, which is prone to fits of temperament, does the job. I am such a sad soul I actually spent time considering whether to get one of those DVD recorder machines. Once I'd seen how much they were, in view of the vast plumber's bill that just thudded through the door after what I hope is the last of our adventures with our anarchic water system, I rapidly gave up that idea.

Lisa to win - I love the way that girl has fought her way through.

A Christmas Carol

I love singing carols, but after a bit I start to long for something that isn't the same old round of O Little Town, The First Nowell and Silent Night, much though I love them. I think this is beautifully sung.

Hallelujah

My daughter has alas now stopped watching Strictly Come Dancing with me, as all her friends watch X Factor. So, after SCD had finished (I have my priorities right) I watched the X Factor final with her - not something I think I'll repeat. Is it obligatory for everyone to cry? And did no-one think it might have been kinder to point out to Eoghan that he had a few tuning issues? The whole experience felt quite unreal - I felt as though I was sitting in a swirling sea of souped up emotion. I did wonder quite why everything felt so hyper. Is it because the contestants are living the only dream that most of the audience have, in which case I can see why things were so fervid; though it's a dreadful comment on British society if the only thing most of our young have to look forward to is the dim possibility of appearing on X Factor - one which will rapidly recede as soon as they're past their mid twenties, and what then?

I do hope whoever made the decision to parade a freak show…

Food miles?

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This is one of our eggs (actually to be entirely accurate it is one of Matilda's. She is our hybrid hen, and an excellent layer, unlike the bantams, who spend the winter glaring malevolently at weather they don't like - most of it - and not laying a thing.)



I shut the hens up just before the light goes; the time obviously moves, but for the past few weeks it's been at about a quarter to four. I go out and shut the hens up and then go and collect my infants from the station. I usually collect the daily egg at the same time. I have tried stowing it in various places before I go (top of the compost heap; inside the pig sty; nestling in the ivy on the gate post), but then always forget it. So, I shove it in my bag and off it goes to the station, and duly does the seven mile round trip. So far I've managed not to crush the egg in my bag, or let an incautious child sit on it.

I don't think it's quite what's meant by food miles. I prefer to think of it as a l…

Christmas Recommendations

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I'm sure that unlike me, you have already sorted out all your Christmas presents. I never have by this point of the year. I think though that I perform a useful social service, as everyone who asks me (and there are a lot of them) "Are you ready for Christmas yet?" can feel smug/superior/relieved/worried on my behalf/thankful they are not me. I'm sort of like the slovens in How Clean is Your House? However bad you are, you're not as bad as me.

Anyway, here is a quick round up of horse and pony books that I'd recommend for Christmas: all in print. There are other pony books I've enjoyed over the year, but these are the best of the best. The American author Jessie Haas had some wonderful books; not only are they beautifully written, they also come as hardbacks, with dustjackets, so make a rather more permanent gift than paperbacks. It's almost impossible now to find a British pony book which appears in hardback, so grab this:

The Jigsaw Pony
Aimed at newl…

Nature? What's that?

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Thanks to Juliet for her post on the stripping out of words from the Oxford Junior Dictionary - a horror which had passed me by. The humble primrose, along with allotment, catkin, blackberry, and even Gawd help us, dandelion and conker - two things you'd think would be familiar to even the most urban, have gone, along with many others.

I can't say I'm hugely surprised. I live in a rural-ish village, surrounded by fields, and with large woods a short walk away, and the ignorance our children have about the natural world astounds me. This summer I took our church youth group round the churchyard to see what flowers were growing, and once they'd got past buttercups and daisies they had not the remotest idea what anything was. They were very interested to learn, and amazed that I knew so many names (a childhood devoted to Enid Blyton's Nature Books saw to that, as well as the good old nature table at school).





Schools have to shoulder a fair amount of blame for opting…

Oliver Postgate

RIP. Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin's creations were a huge part of my childhood. My sister and I can still talk Clanger (though my husband alas never has really appreciated the one I bought him a few Christmases ago, which when pressed in the tummy says "Ooh, uh uh, uh uh uh uh uh uh," which I heard on a programme about OP actually translated as "Oh, **** it, the bloody thing's broken again." Figures.) I still like it though, as does my daughter, and every now and then we release him from his cupboard and let him speak. The Clanger I mean, not my husband.

One of the very first things OH and I bought together was a Noggin the Nog video, which we still have, though it must be, gasp, at least 20 years old now. Gosh. The children loved it too. I can really appreciate now, watching it again, how masterful it was: the atmospheric music, and the effective and utterly unflashy animation, but most of all the story.

Frost

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A cold and spiky world. Dog and I like not coming back covered with mud (particularly as the hole in my wellie is getting larger, not smaller.) Made the latest of a whole series of mental notes to go and get a new pair on the way back from the station.





Let's Not Fight This Christmas

Glow of quiet local pride here, as the choir is Masquerade, which is a wonderful children's choir local to us. Several of the my two's friends are in it, but the choir alas is so fleeting in the video we haven't managed to track them down yet....

I like this song (but then I always did like Squeeze).


Website news

My site has been a tad unreliable of late. It's a victim of its own success, as there are now far more people wanting to use it than my provider can cope with without charging me a fortune. So, I'm now changing webhosts to one which will give me unlimited bandwidth, in the hope that it will be able to cope with the ever-increasing traffic to the site. I've started the process (already spent a good long while on the phone with customer support...) but I'm told it can take up to 72 hours for the world's isps to recognise the change, so there might still be a bit of disruption here and there.

BUT - I hope the change will mean everyone can access the site, whenever they want. Fingers and everything else are crossed, as whenever I make any sort of IT change, something unexpected always, always happens. Maybe, this time, it will be good something.

The joy of an old house

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I have mixed feelings about our house. I love its history, its quirkiness and the sense of being one in a long line of people who've lived there. I do like looking at things, like the carved panelling that has mysteriously ended up lining the boiler cupboard, and wondering "Why?"
One thing I have had to learn, after living most of my life in houses no one else wanted to, is the ability to stick my hands over my eyes and go "LA LA LA LA LA I'm not looking," as the sheer enormity of what needs doing threatens to overwhelm us. Taking on a "project" when you have scadloads of money is one thing, but doing it when you don't, and your income is, as mine is, unpredictable, is daft. However much your surveyor might like to say that x, x, and x are urgent and y and y could certainly do with being done within the year, we know full well the limitations of what our income is, and so nod wisely and mentally stretch the period of works to years, not months…

Who benefits from the credit crunch?

Our dog. We don't have the heating on much here anyway, but even less so now. I am permanently buttoned into my ancient Barbour bodywarmer. And the dog, who is a warm sort of creature, is now allowed on the sofas so she can keep us warm. Not quite, "It's a little chilly, so I've put another dog on your bed," but I'm sure it won't be long.

Have had a stinking cold all week, and I'm now off to join dog on the sofa, drink hot chocolate and nurse my woes. Have a lovely weekend.

Well....

another posting from the far shores of equine weirdness, though I have to say despite the obvious continuity issues, I rather like this. I'd rather look at him than our Katie any day.



And I want those boots.

Six things about me

I was tagged last week by Frances over at France and the Unknown, so here, a bit late, are the results! I don't usually tag people but if anyone wants to pick this up on their own blog, and reveal six things about themselves, feel free.

1. I was a runner up in the Daily Mail (actually it could have been Daily Mirror but I can't find my copy of the book in which the results where published to check) children's poetry competition when I was 11. I wrote a poem about my grandmother, who was torn between being miffed at my not very flattering portrait of her, and pride at my brief national celebrity.

2. I last fell off a horse into a ploughed field. The horse was standing still at the time. Dear Tess, alas now PTS, and I careered across a ploughed field, and I had one of those moments when I lose all physical co-ordination, and just sat there thinking "OOH I am NOT in control here." Anyway, Tess stopped of her own accord, and I sat there for a few seconds and the…

A round of applause for my mother

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Who I don't imagine will be reading this unless she's suddenly developed an addiction to internet cafés!

I get a lot of messages from people who are looking to re-build their collections after they either "grew up" and chucked out their collections themselves, or as seems to happen rather more often, had their collections ruthlessly downsized by their mothers. As an aside, I do notice that fathers do not appear to do this. Presumably they either a. don't care b. don't notice the house is disappearing under books or c. prefer to leave such tricky decisions to mothers.
I must now say my own mother did not chuck out my pony book collection of immensely tatty paperbacks, and it still survives. Mum nobly held on to it for a good 10 years after I'd left home, asking occasionally through gritted teeth, "Are you sure you can't fit those books in yet?", at which point I would say "NO, I can't possibly - you've got far more space," in …

A bit of Ruby Ferguson news

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There is now a Facebook Ruby Ferguson group for discussion of all things Jill. It's been started by John Rees, and it's here. (And thanks for the link, to Vanessa from Fidra. I whipped it off her blog having been totally incapable of working out how to find it after John rang me to ask if I minded if he linked to the website).




Eek - I might actually have to join Facebook now. I have held off until now because I've heard how addictive it is and I know what I'm like, but can I resist the appeal of Jill? I don't think I can.

And the winner is...

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Anne Bullen's A Pony to School.



I think Anne Bullen was supreme at catching the wish fulfilment element of pony books. Her ponies are not 100% as ponies are, but they certainly are as they canter through your dreams; breedy, kindly and oh so noble. Her Cascade in Wish for a Pony was my childhood dream of bliss, as was Daybreak in I Wanted a Pony. I wonder if that's why she's won out over artists who are arguably technically more accomplished? I know that when I voted in the rounds coming up to the final that the emotional pull of several of the dustjackets won out over the technical expertise of others.
Lionel Edwards is one who I think lost out because of this. In the initial round of over 60 books, there were 13 of his titles, with Anne Bullen having 8 and Sam Savitt, Sheila Rose and Peter Biegel (a Lionel Edwards pupil with a very similar style) following on behind with 3 each. There's absolutely no element of fantasy whatsoever in Lionel Edwards' style: he gives …

Fitting back into life

I'm always amazed by the sheer effort of extracting myself from my life for even a week, but we're now back, having had an excellent week, and I have now downloaded my emails. This has reminded me that I now of course have to lever myself back into my life..... Even after I'd deleted the 250+ spam, I still have 262 emails to deal with.

So, if you've emailed me over the past week, please be patient. It is going to take me a time to get through the backlog.

Is it just me?

Or is Peggy Woolley THE most irritating character in The Archers? It must have been such fun though, for the scriptwriters, when it came to writing the scene where Lillian tells the hospital-bound Peggy that her Alzheimer's sufferer husband Jack has gone to a respite home.

I would have been rubbing my hands with glee at the thought of writing that scene. In all the years I've been listening to The Archers I've always found Peggy utterly infuriating though she has had a few moments of humanity every now and then with her grandchildren, and of course with Jack. However, half the fun of writing for a soap must be in hitting listeners round the face with the big wet slap that is a devastating return to teeth grindingly irritating form, after you've spent some time building up the character's more positive side. (And of course show the pantomime villain Matt in a rather better light at the same time.) Boy, did they do a good job.

In between wanting to throw something at t…

The magic of scrambled egg

Today, had a day off - not a book in sight. Well, that's not true, because at lunch I spotted a large bookcase full of books, which of course I had to inspect, and did see some Andrew Lang Fairy books as well as several paperback Pullein-Thompsons. But I digress.

I went to a cookery demonstration by Sophie Grigson today, thanks to a kind friend who couldn't go so gave me her ticket. SG is excellent value, and sitting watching someone else cook and then test the results is certainly my idea of a good time, so I thoroughly enjoyed the day.

One of the dishes SG cooked was lemon scrambled egg. During the demo, she described how she made this first for a boyfriend when she was about 19. "Now," she said. "If you are going to make scrambled eggs properly, though slowly, you will do it in a double boiler." This she said, she never actually did herself, save for on the first morning at said new boyfriend's flat, when she lovingly made him scrambled eggs…

That jab...

I don't tend to get The Times until rather late at night when OH returns home, and as it never occurs to me to look at the online version, as I like the good old fashioned feel of paper, I tend to be a bit late in commenting on the day's events. Actually I very rarely comment on them in this blog, not because I have nothing to say but because I think it is probably kinder not to expose you to the wide range of my opinions (my family would agree here.)

However, I am breaking ranks about the Cervical Cancer jab. My children go to a church school, and my daughter has just had the jab. She brought home screeds of paper, and I had to sign the usual paper giving permission. "Not everyone's parents, are," she told me. "Why not?" I asked (rather meanly, actually, as I had a pretty good idea.) "Not sure," she said. "Some people's parents don't approve but I'm not sure why." "Because they think you'll charge off an…

Peter Clover: The Sheltie Books

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Sheltie Leads the Way
Penguin
(not in print but easily available on Amazon)
and
Sheltie Finds a Friend
Penguin
(not in print but easily available on Amazon)

Peter Clover's website
There is very little out there for the very young pony fan starting to read for themselves. The Sheltie books are then a very rare animal: not only are they aimed at the younger reader; there’s more than one. Quite a lot more than one in fact: the series now numbers 24 (though not all by any means are still in print).

The series fulfils one of the key requirements for a young reader: it is set in a constant and easily understandable framework. Emma owns Sheltie, a Shetland pony. She lives with her younger brother Joshua, and her Mum and Dad. And they have adventures. And that is pretty much it: but Peter Clover has created a good and believable world. Unlike the Lauren Brooke ponies in Chestnut Hill, Sheltie is created with the right amount of credible detail. In the opening of Sheltie Finds a Friend , he …

Urghhh. Arghhh. Again.

Little blogging this week as I have been head down trying to wrest order from chaos and catalogue all the pony books I've bought recently, as well as do all the other things I'm supposed to. (Though at least, unlike my friend Charlotte, I am not wrestling with accounts). I've done the catalogue anyway, at last, and it'll be on line on Wednesday 15th October. I hope. Some computing blip or other always rears its head whenever I need to do a catalogue so I wait with interest to see what the current one will be.

Further to my post about the Booker, I have bought The Northern Clemency (described this week on R4 as a page turner) - well, I haven't turned the pages so fast I've finished it, but I'm chugging on. What I hadn't realised was that it was set in Sheffield; not quite the time I was there, but a little before, though I will get to where I was as I go on through the book, if you see what I mean. It's very odd to read about Broomhill and reme…

Flap, flap

flapperty flap. Flapperty flapperty flap.

Good grief.

You know those cutesome baby clothes with ears? This is what happens when they grow up.

Thanks Susanna for that (maybe having the same difficulty working on Friday pm as me?)

The Chestnut Hill Wordle

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You can tell I'm having a bit of difficulty getting down to work this afternoon can't you? Thanks to Juxtabook for the heads up on this. I did a wordle on part of my Chestnut Hill review, and here it is:
If you fancy a worldle, this is the link.

The Sorted Books Challenge

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Many thanks to Juliet over at Musings for letting me know about this one. What you need to do is pluck various books from your shelves and connect them. Here's the official thing, which I hope is written tongue in cheek as my interpretation of it is considerably less august:



'The Sorted Books project began in 1993 years ago and is ongoing. The project has taken place in many different places over the years, ranging form private homes to specialized public book collections. The process is the same in every case: culling through a collection of books, pulling particular titles, and eventually grouping the books into clusters so that the titles can be read in sequence, from top to bottom. The final results are shown either as photographs of the book clusters or as the actual stacks themselves, shown on the shelves of the library they were drawn from. Taken as a whole, the clusters from each sorting aim to examine that particular library's focus, idiosyncrasies, and inconsisten…

Lauren Brooke: Chestnut Hill

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Chestnut Hill: Playing for Keeps
Scholastic, £4.99


A series of (so far) 8 books
Scholastic's Chestnut Hill website



Having tackled the emotional swirl that is Heartland, I thought I might as well do Chestnut Hill next. Chestnut Hill is a different series by "Lauren Brooke" based at a girls' boarding school in America. Its heroines are a quartet of girls: Lani, Malory, Dylan and Honey, and the series follows them through the school. In this story, Lani is under threat of having to leave the school as her poor report has made her parents think she's riding at the expense of her school work.


This new(ish) series is aimed at a younger readership than Heartland. The protagonists are in Year 8, which I imagine is the same as the English one, so are aged 12-13. Those few years make a huge difference, as the emotional tempests we get in Heartland seem pretty much absent.


Heartland meets teenage fantasies of struggling against the world; Chestnut Hill addresses fantasies of …

Lauren Brooke: Heartland

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Lauren Brooke: Heartland 1 - Coming Home
Scholastic - £4.49



Lauren Brooke's website

Heartland series - 25 books, including specials


Oh dear. Is this worse than telling a toddler Father Christmas doesn't exist? Daughter and I were talking about Lauren Brooke, whose Chestnut Hill series is on special offer in the book leaflet she had from school. "Ah," I said, in passing. "Lauren Brooke doesn't exist, of course. She's three different writers." "WHAT??" said daughter. "But how can she have a website? Is she real and then there are other people who write the books?" "Well no," I said. "There's nothing unusual about it - publishers have an idea and then go and get someone, or several someones, to write it. Like Lucy Daniels. Masses of people have written the Animal Ark books."

Intake of breath from daughter. "You mean... you mean... there's no Lucy Daniels?" Me, looking anxious now: "No. I…

Have I read a Booker Prize nomination?

I'm not sure that I ever have - I've certainly read books by Booker nominees, but not, I think, a title which has been shortlisted. I certainly, beyond a shadow of a doubt, have read none of this year's nominees.

So, in an attempt to broaden my limited intellectual horizons, there's a poll on the Ibooknet blog so you can suggest which Booker nomination I should read. I have a source of supply, I have a flicker of interest: I just need your advice now on what to choose.

The Deportment Girdle

I mentioned this in my blog post on theIbooknet blog; but I think a full explanation of its glories is probably better off here.


I never did win a Deportment Girdle in my entire school career - and yes, it really was called a Deportment Girdle. It was a crimson sash, worn tied around the waist. To a scruffy, scrawny, eleven year old, drowned in an enormous gym tunic, it seemed that all the more glamorous members of the school wore them, sashaying around the corridors, distant goddesses. 
Deportment girdles were just one of a range of school prizes. Northamptonshire, where I went to school in the 1970s, was late to embrace the comprehensive movement, and so having passed the eleven plus, I went to Kettering High School, a grammar school with a prize giving structure probably unchanged for decades. We did have other prizes besides the deportment girdle: there were form prizes, and subject prizes for the upper school, as well as colours for sporting achievement. That is, until we went comp…

Kierkegaard

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He's in there. Somewhere.


Lady of Leisure

Today I had a full plan for the day. I was going to clean the kitchen, hoover the stairs, ebay some more of the vast amount of junk we need to shift; try and get near enough to the garden to plant some spinach; get down the wood pile....

But none of it is done. I sat down on the sofa, put my feet up, and watched Burghley, texting dear son to come home and walk dog (he did).

Cor. BRILLIANT round from William Fox-Pitt (though why did the BBC cut the round off two jumps early?) on Tamarillo - just amazing to see, and of the young riders I was really impressed by Sara Squires and Angus Smales. Loved the commentary by Ian Stark too, and his female counterpart - who was she? Missed the very beginning but I thought she did a grand job. Far, far preferred them to Mike Tucker, who always sounds as if he should be commentating on racing.

K M Peyton: Minna's Quest

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K M Peyton: Minna's Quest
Usborne, 2007, £5.99

K M Peyton's website
More bibliographical detail


Despite what you might be thinking, I have not forgotten my quest to scan the heights (or indeed the depths) of modern ponybookdom, and this is my latest. Alas my fellow reviewer has fallen by the wayside, though I am not too sad about this, as she has been distracted by Antonia Forest, one of my absolute favourite children's authors. Oh joy! Oh rapture! I rescued Autumn Term from a school library sell off and gave it to her, not expecting she would read it, as my track record for persuading her to read things I like is frankly, dismal. However, she trotted downstairs earlier in the week to ask if I had any more by AF? My joy was unrestrained (and for those who are interested, yes I do!)
Still, on to what this blog post is supposed to be about: K M Peyton's Minna's Quest. I came to this book with very high hopes: K M Peyton is one of my favourite authors. She has written pr…

Katie Price: the human face of the horse

Or something like that. KP has been much in the equestrian news lately, whether it's because China White wouldn't let her in to the polo (their tent, at least), or because she's going to be appearing at the Horse of the Year Show as the subject of a dressage lesson, or because of the (oh oh oh I am LONGING to say something smartarse here but I won't because really, I don't need to) new equestrian wear range she's designed.

However, she is now going to be the face of "Hoof", which wants to challenge the idea that eventing doesn't really fit into London (a point of view which I have some sympathy with) and which also, much more laudably, wants to encourage London children to ride. Here's Hoof's website.

I think this is an excellent idea, though I'm not sure how realistic it is. I can see that having an accessible person like KP to promote riding will do more to reach people who wouldn't normally think of riding than say, Zara Philli…

Helen Griffiths

Every now and then I happen across an author who completely blows me away, and oh, the joy when I find out that the book I've read is by no means all - all those lovely things still to be read. Antonia Forest was one such, a few years ago, when I read her Autumn Term, and Helen Griffiths is now another.
One advantage of being unable to do much of any practical use over the past couple of weeks while my knee has been out of action is that I've been able to catch up on my to be read pile. To be accurate, the TBR pile is not a pile; it fills several boxes and is a fluid thing, often governed by whether or not I've sold a particular book.
But, prompted by the fact someone from whom I bought a large collection of books said this one always made her cry, I picked up The Wild Heart.
and was completely and utterly hooked. Helen Griffiths does not write conventional pony books: all her horse stories are set in the Spanish speaking world, and are very far from girl-gets-pony: they…

The revenge of the barn

I was finally starting to feel ok after my op, and had been out for my first run. We then ordered a skip so we could clear the rubble of ages out of the barn (and we had a lot of rubble - we are terrors for hanging on to odd bits of wood just in case. This is all very well, and we have occasionally used bits, and the chicken wire store came in very handy when the chickens arrived, but even we realise that you can go too far.)

So, we ruthlessly hurled all sorts of odd bits and pieces on to the skip - well, when I say hurled, with the price of skips these days we arranged carefully making the best use of the horribly expensive space - until we came to a particularly hideous, battered but solid 1930s mahogany sideboard. I have had this horror in my sights for years, and had meant to arm son and friends with crowbars and let them get on with it, but of course had not got round to it. Husband, although not fond of the foul sideboard, felt it had a future.

We discussed this, as you do, and …

Well done USA!

Blogging has been a bit sporadic: school holidays have eaten up my time. They always do, and it always takes me by surprise, every single time.

Still, I have found enough time to watch the showjumping. Excellent course building, and brilliant performances by the USA, and in particular Canada, with only 3 team members and therefore no discard score.

Of course the UK were also down to three after John Whittaker's Peppermill had a stiff back, but you would have thought from listening to the British commentating on the event on BBC that this was the sole reason we didn't do that well.

Well, Canada only had three and they still managed to finish in silver medal position.

And huge congratulations too to Mara Yamauchi, who came 6th in the Women's Marathon. Whilst on the subject of Olympic gripes, the huha over Paula Radcliffe in the Marathon makes me cross; not so much the huha itself; it's more the way Mara Yamauchi is relegated to a brief mention, or a distant boxed off paragr…

Not a lot in common

My daughter and I, as I said in my previous post, don't really share my passion for horses. Daughter and I don't share a few other things, either. We just spent a while in front of the You Tube, trying to find some musical ground we had in common, for surely there must be some?

Daugher likes Rihanna. Don't terribly mind Rihanna myself, but want to say to her and to most R&B singers, and actually quite a few others now I think of it: "For goodness' sake put some clothes on woman!"

Which is not a problem for this next lot, unless baggy yellow shorts really do it for you. Daughter and I watched this, and we are far, far apart on this one. I love it: I think it's fun, and sounds sunny, which as I am typing this in yet another bout of pouring rain, does it for me. Daughter thinks it's one of the worst things she's ever heard.

Oh wow, Kristina

What an amazing Olympics she had. She so deserved her medal: fantastic riding on all three sections. I'm glad Hinrich and Marius won - I do love that horse. And what a gripping final.

My daughter, who is getting progressively more anti-horse with each passing week (can't imagine why, when she has my example to follow), was curled up elsewhere in the room when I turned the showjumping on. "You're mad," she informed me, witheringly, as I groaned my way through Mary King's round, crouched there with my head in my hands, barely able to look as she went down that final line. However, the excitement got to even her, and she joined me, hanging in front of the telly, actually keen to see what happened.

I did love Ian "Voodoo" Stark's commentating. Everytime he said something about another team's rider, crash went a fence, and although he was a tad partisan, he made me laugh. And of course I was not sitting there myself, guiltily wavering betwe…

Urghhh. Arghhh.

Am not at my bright mental best today, husband and self having set the alarm for 1.00 am to watch the cross country. All of it, in its entirety. Despite now feeling like the little ghoul at the end of Buffy who staggers across the screen going "urgghh, arghhh," it was worth it.

Mary King nearly finished me off entirely when she had an interesting take off at the Pagoda fences, but goodness, did she do well. So impressive, as were the Germans (lovely Marius) and am only sorry that Lucinda Fredericks on Headley Britannia didn't do better. It's on BBC here.

Intend to sever all human contact when the showjumping is on (which is, I can guarantee, when my family will think to themselves. "Ooh. Horses on tv. That reminds me. Haven't spoken to Jane in ages. Must ring! Now!", and also when my children will develop crises of mind-boggling intensity which must be dealt with NOW - where are their trainers, most like.) Shall retreat behind my own Chinese w…

Amazon - an update

I posted a few months ago about Amazon's attempt to take over the POD (print on demand) market. Booklocker filed an anti-trust suit against Amazon. Things have now become rather heated: Amazon filed a motion to dismiss, and Booklocker then filed a counter motion. You can read a summary of the arguments here. The motion will be ruled on after Labor Day, which is 1 September 2008.

The POD market is not the only one Amazon has its eyes on. It has now (subject to closing conditions) bought ABE. The Advanced Book Exchange is an internet site bringing together antiquarian and other booksellers to sell books. ABE is a very long way indeed from being perfect, but it was at least independent of Amazon. I've blogged at length about this new development, and its possible impact on booksellers on the Ibooknet blog.

There are small, independent organisations of booksellers out there: Ibooknet is one. As well as providing a site for selling books, we also promote each member's individua…

War Horse now booking

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here. I am so excited. I have booked tickets, though have no idea if any of my nearest and dearest will want to come with me. I do not care. I am going no matter what.

Europe's Kill Buyers

I am a keen devotee of America's Fugly Horses blog, which aims to expose duff horse ownership and breeding practices. Through that blog, I have learned quite a lot about American slaughter practices. It is no longer legal to slaughter horses for human consumption in America; but there is still a market, and slaughter for human consumption is still legal in Canada and Mexico, so horses are bought in bulk by the kill buyers and have to endure long trips across the border to slaughter.

Unfortunately we here in Europe are really no better. Around 100,000 horses across Europe are sold for meat. As around 84% are slaughtered in Italy, they can face journeys of up to 5 days before death. There have been, since January 2007, extensive regulations governing how horses should be transported. They are supposed to have 24 hours' rest for every 24 hours of travel. They are supposed to be watered every 8 hours, and if necessary fed. They should have enough room, and should be fit to travel: …