Saturday, May 30, 2009

Birthday Wishes

- to my dear mother, who celebrates her birthday today.

Many Years, Mum ! Glad you had a great day !
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More Stavros Flatley

More from Stavros and his son....


and this time I have spelt it correctly, LOL.

Enjoy !
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Basil

Basil at his favourite occupation, chewing branches from the shrubs :-)

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The Tortoise And The Dog

Shot in our back garden this afternoon :-)

Laughter courtesy of DD1, 3, and 4.....

Click on the picture to play the video ......





I's a coming to get you !
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Busy Reading....



This was a really interesting read, by a Northerner, about the real "Up North". If your only knowledge of the North is from watching Coronation Street or Emmerdale Farm, the reality is very different. I thoroughly enjoyed it but was disappointed that the binding was in poor condition for a gently handled - albeit second-hand - paperback.







The Gordon Ramsey book.
What can I say ??

I have several of his recipe books, and have enjoyed some of his TV shows despite the constant barrage of the "f" word used as an adjective. I read the first part of this book and gave up in disgust. I simply refuse to waste any more of my time reading about someone who could betray his boss by having an affair with his wife, and subsequently regards it as a slightly OTT teenaged prank for which he need show no real remorse. I wouldn't bother reading it, if I were you.




My copy of "The Cloister Walk", by the poetess Kathleen Norris, is in imminent danger of falling apart from such frequent re-reading.

How did a small-town Presbyterian end up becoming an oblate of a large RC monastery ? Read it and find out. It is a loving look at the life of a Benedictine community and its oblates, and how her life has been changed as a result.

A lovely but very thought-provoking book, which tackles some very hard questions about RC spirituality and liturgical life during the twentieth century.


I have read more, but as it has been mainly comfort reading of childhood favourites, I thought I would spare you boredom of ramblings about the Abbey School books :-)
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Clematis



Only two flowers so far, but this clematis, which appeared as if by magic in our garden last year,is simply lovely :-)
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We Have Apples !



Despite the cold weather delaying the bees being around to pollinate, this is one of the many baby apples growing on our tree at the moment :-)
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Roaring With Laughter........

............at the antics of a wonderful Greek/English father and son dancing duo, who perform a hilarious spoof of Michael Flately's Riverdance.

Good humoured silliness from Stavros Flately !
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Menologion Resource !

Updated to add :
After dialogue with the parish priest of St Nectarios, it transpires that only December to May are currently completed and availabe for download now. The rest will be completed by him in due course. What a wonderful undertaking to make freely available to us all - God grant him Many Years !!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



If anyone else would like their own Menologion booklets with Troparia and Kontakia for the Saints of each day, these are available in a month by month booklet format, ready for home printing, here.

I have just printed out all of May :-)
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Foiled Again

As today is DD3's 11th birthday, we were planning to take her out for the day as a special treat.

First, the car decided to play up, refusing to start, so it has had to go into the garage to be serviced today. We didn't fancy driving a hundred miles on a day -out trip to end up stranded there overnight....
Ho hum.

Secondly, the weather is atrocious here. We have had torrential rain for hours, high winds and it is generally cold and unpleasant - and that is *in* the house !! So it wouldn't be much fun being out walking in that. Even the dog didn't want to hang around in the garden .....now that has to be a first !!

We are just chilling, lounging and sufferin' at the moment.

DD3 was thrilled with her present of all 15 of Caroline Lawrence's Roman Mysteries books and a learn to play the guitar book, amongst others :-)

DD4 is busy making another surprise craft present for her adored big sister, with a little help from me on some tricky "cutting out with scissors" bits.

Me ? Well, I am just taking advantage of the unplanned peace and quiet to do a spot of blogging...... such a rarity for me, LOL !
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Brother Update

For you dear souls who have been praying for my brother----

He is recovering well from the nasty chest infection that has so far taken five days of IV antibiotics to kick into touch. Last night he was sitting up in bed and taking notice :-) and had even been out of bed walking with the physiotherapists.
We are waiting for him to be seen by the Consultant, most likely today, for further news on what they have planned for him. He even has arm exerciser thingies strapped to his bed so he can build up his arm muscle strength, LOL.
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A Year In 40 Seconds....

This is truly wonderful.......

One year in 40 seconds from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.




and also a long version, in two minutes !

One year in two minutes from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.





Wouldn't it be great if somone did the same for the Liturgical Year ?
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Trompe L'Oeil

I really love seeing good trompe l'oeil paintings, but this artist really is outstanding !

For loads of his amazing outdoor visual illusions, wander over here.......
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

St Cuthbert

Matushka Donna Farley has a wonderful blog all about St Cuthbert and her forthcoming book about the Saint !

Go visit and enjoy!
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Saturday, May 23, 2009

On Prayer

An excellent quote from the Benedictine nun, Sister Joan Chittister:

Prayer, Benedictine spirituality demonstrates, is not a matter of mood.
To pray only when we feel like it is more to seek consolation than risk conversion. To pray only when it suits us is to want God on our terms.
To pray only when it is convenient is to make the God-life a very low priority in a list of beter opportunities.
To pray only when it feels good is to court total emptiness when we most need to be filled.
The hard fact is that nobody finds time for prayer. The time must be taken.

There will always be something more pressing to do, something more important to be about than the apparently fruitless, empty act of prayer. But when that attitude takes over, we have begun the last trip down a very short road because, without prayer, the energy for the rest of life runs down. The fuel runs out.

We become our own worst enemies: we call ourselves too tired and too busy to pray when, in reality, we are too tired and too busy not to pray..........
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Be Afraid

about this article in The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

Followers of religions will not be allowed to act in accordance with their doctrinal beliefs if the said beliefs happen to clash with the politically correct ideologies of the ruling Labour Party here in the UK.

It all gets ushered in quietly and cumulatively, and then one day we will all wake up and realise we have no rights even to our own thoughts in the privacy of our own minds.

If that isn't a scary though, I do not know what is.

I leave you with a quotation from Dante :

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality”.
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Just When Things Were Looking More Hopeful

........and my brother was having a really good week health-wise, he has suddenly gone down with a rip-roaring chest infection requiring industrial-strength IV antibiotics, and in his own words, he "feels crap".

Sigh. He looked pretty rough when I saw him last night. My mother has gone in this afternoon to visit him, so I am waiting for her to get back to get the latest updates.

We have had a house full today, as DD 1 and 2 plus DD2's lovely boyfriend Rob have come to visit. Wednesday was DoomHamster's 23rd birthday, which she postponed to today so she could come over and be reunited with all her sisters to celebrate. And eat birthday cake, of course ! Next Wednesday will be my sunshine DD3's 11th birthday. Many Years to them both :-)

Where does the time go to ?
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For Shame Revisited

Thank you for all your comments about my post "For Shame", which have been duly read, marked, learned and inwardly digested.

What riles me most about the whole scenario was the fact that in an allegedly RC educational establishment, a devout RC priest who was obedient to his Church's teachings was deliberately prevented from publically expressing those teachings in accordance with his conscience and indeed his duty with regard to his pastoral role in the RC Church.

What, precisely did the soi-disant authorities at Notre Dame have to fear or to lose by allowing Fr Weslin to make his views known ? Why would a devout pro-life RC priest be excluded from setting foot on a RC college campus ? Fr Weslin's views were and remain the official views of the RC Church to this day and would certainly be blessed and endorsed by the current Pope.

Unlike the beliefs of the Notre Dame authorities, obviously............
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Knitted Wonders

It is impossible to do this project justice in words; you need to go to the web page and see the photos of a whole English village recreated over many years by "ladies who knit".

It made my day when I saw it !
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For Shame !

I am indebted to Fr Tim Finigan, parish priest of the RC Church of Our Lady of the Rosary in Blackfen, UK, for showing this video clip on his blog, which is how I found out about the situation.
The commentary below the clip is my own.






I wept to see an 80 year old priest, Fr Norman Weslin, clearly stating his pro-life beliefs and being arrested and removed from the Campus of Notre Dame RC College for protesting against the ideologies espoused by the President and upholding the pro-life teachings of the RC Church in which he was ordained and which he serves.

Whatever happened to free speech in America ? We know that freedom of speech effectively ceased to exist in the UK several years ago, but I am appalled to see that America is falling into the same trap.

Lord have mercy......and richly bless Fr Norman and all who try to protect the unborn through prayer and peaceful protest.
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Happy St Brendan's Day !

Today is the Feast of St Brendan the Navigator :-)

May 16th
Troparion (Tone 4)
The Divine Likeness has been perfected in thee, O holy Father Brendan, for taking up the Cross thou hast followed Christ, and by thy deeds thou hast taught us to disdain the flesh for it passes away, but to cultivate the soul for it is immortal: wherefore, O holy father, thy spirit rejoices with the Angels.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Holy Father Brendan pray for us !

An outline of his life can be found here
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Friday, May 15, 2009

The Monastery

Back in 2005 I watched an interesting documentary series in which the RC Benedictine Abbey at Worth opened its doors not only to a tv crew but also a group of men of widely disparate backgrounds to see what - if anything - Benedictine monasticism could offer them.

The answer was a very great deal indeed......but this is an 18-parter, so be prepared :-)

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"Ostrov" online !

The wonderful movie "Ostrov" is online on YouTube, complete with English subtitles.

It is listed in 12 parts; the first part can be found here:-







Enjoy......
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Which Star Trek Character Are You ?

UPDATED to add:-

I am really rather disappointed. I would much rather have been Worf :-)

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Your results:
You are Deanna Troi
































Deanna Troi
100%
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
100%
James T. Kirk (Captain)
70%
Chekov
70%
Uhura
70%
Beverly Crusher
70%
Geordi LaForge
70%
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
60%
Jean-Luc Picard
60%
Spock
50%
Worf
50%
Mr. Scott
40%
Mr. Sulu
40%
Data
40%
Will Riker
40%
You are a caring and loving individual.
You understand people's emotions and
you are able to comfort and counsel them.


Click here to take the "Which Star Trek character am I?" quiz...

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oh Dear

We had a pretty fraught morning.

Frankly, if I wore makeup, today would have been a complete *waste* of makeup.

Started about 4am when DD4 woke up with bad dreams.
Having slept badly myself, I couldn't be bothered to crawl out of bed, tuck her back up in her own room etc etc. So I gave in and tucked her up in my bed.
In all fairness she went straight back to sleep. I didn't. Not for a long time. And my alarm goes off at 6.30am....


Cue the rise of the Zombie Monster.

I lay in bed and read my emails on my web book...then DD3 got up and cuddled into bed whilst I physically got up and got dressed. Of course, DD4 then woke up rather earlier and grumpier than she would have done if left to her own devices, as her sister is a grade A wriggly worm.


Came downstairs, let the dog out in the garden, tidied up, made packed lunch for DD3's schoolbag. Called to DD4 to get dressed, which she did very quickly. DD3, uncharacteristically, dawdled and delayed and dragged her feet.

Cue much shouting from me.

DD4 asking me repeatedly would be be able to get to school early ? Reassured her that yes, we would get to school in good time for her to have time to play in the yard before the bell rang.

Huh.

DD4 all dressed, coat on, backpack on back. Where, oh where, is DD3?

Shout upstairs several times. Wonder if neighbours will start hammering on the wall to complain about all the shouting.

No answer.

Storm upstairs like an avenging fury, to find DD3 mostly dressed, hair still unbrushed, sitting on her bed LISTENING TO HER MP3 PLAYER.

Aaaaaaaggggghhh.

Scream for her to get a move on, it is nearly 8.30 and we should have left at 8.25. Howls of indignant protests from her. It wasn't her fault she wasn't ready:-(

Come downstairs.

DD4 decides she needs to go the toilet again. She goes upstairs, DD3 comes downstairs.

All present and correct by the door ready to go out at 8.33am. Heave sigh of relief. If we gallop, we will not actually be late.

Deal with sulking children all the walk to school.

To one child : No, you won't have time to play. No, it is not my fault.

To the other : You should not be lisening to your MP3 player till you are completely and utterly ready for school, including having brushed your hair and put your shoes and coat on !!!

Feel frazzled and fed up. Try to explain why they need to do the important things first.

Get to school just as second bell is ringing. Kiss the aforesaid children, tell them I do love them, and wish them both a good day. Children run like the blazes down the path but make it into the class lines just in time.

Heave sigh of relief. We made it.

I hate days which start with niggling and silly things which cause so much hassle. I hate shouting at my lovely girls.

Came home and read this on a blog:

"The book I’m currently reading about Confession has named being unpunctual (that is, late) as wrong because – I hadn’t thought of it this way before – you then place others in near occasion of sin because your late-ness induces others to grumbling. Not that the others are necessarily justified in grumbling, mind, but..yeah. "

From Puella's blog
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Oh dear. Perhaps I should have not spent time on the internet this morning and instead made sure the girls *were* well on the way to being ready, instead of just anticipating they would be, like they are normally.......

So I guess it was my fault after all, as much as theirs, and possibly far more than theirs................. if I had left reading my emails etc till after I had taken them to school, I would have been on top of what they were doing rather than leaving them to their own devices, and the day would not have started with sadness. Come to think of it, I did not even greet them with "Christ is risen!" this morning.

Plenty of fodder here for Confession, I think. And yes, it was mostly my fault - I need to remember to do the important things first !







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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Done So Far Today....

in no particular order:

prayed

prepared breakfast

washed breakfast dishes

dusted all downstairs rooms

vacuumed all the downstairs rooms and hall

done one load of washing and hung it on the line to dry in the garden

prepared and cooked Sunday Lunch

washed the dishes again

checked my email and Bloglines account

tidied up

nagged the girls to do their homework

ironed all the school uniform for the week and DH's work shirts

done a little light reading

uploaded photos from my camera to the 'puter

sorted the chest freezer

And felt guilty about the things I haven't yet done.

How has your day been ?
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Waiting To Be Read.....



There are only thirteen books, though one of them - "Artisan Bread" - shouldn't really be in there because it has been looked at in order to start one batch of dough :-)

I do have another book by my bed which is waiting to be read for the first time too :-)
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Saturday, May 09, 2009

R.L. Stevenson





I was really looking forward to reading this treasury of three books. Everything else by RL Stevenson I have ever read I have really enjoyed; maybe I was just in the wrong mood or frame of mind to do this book justice. I may leave it a year or two and give it another try, to see if I can be a little more dispassionate about it......

"An Inland Voyage" was his first ever book, detailing a canoe journey through some rivers in Belgium and France. I found it pedestrian and verbose, not to mention really rather dull.

The rather more famous "Travels With a Donkey" did at least have the benefit of humour and some rather spectacular places to write about as he travelled through the Cevennes with Modestine the donkey.
Of particluar interest was his interaction with a Trappist monk who was most concerned for the salvation of Stevenson's Calvinistic Protestant Church of Scotland soul......but RLS's unabashed disdain throughout the book for much of what he deemed Catholic superstition made me realise how far apart much of Protestantism is from Catholicism, let alone Orthodoxy, and it is really rather sad to see some fellow believers in Christ treated with such contempt.

I wouldn't say I enjoyed that book, either, but the worst was yet to come in the third book, "The Silverado Squatters", where RLS and his wife spend a rather uncoventional honeymoon in the wine-growing regions of California.

To say that I read the chapter about the Jews he met on his travels with sadness would be an understatemnt. He fell into all the stereotypical snide comments about Jews and usury that you would expect from someone of his age and prejudices, and it upset me greatly. I know we should not judge the prejudices of a distant age with our own "enlightened" eyes, but I found it hard to enjoy the admittedly lovely descriptions of the Californian scenery after that.

RLS would almost certainly be convicted of inciting racial/religious hatred if he were to be publishing these books for the first time in the UK now.

To be honest, I would not bother reading this compilation. Has anyone else read any of the stories? Should I give them another try later on ?
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Owning Up !





What can I say !
I saw the documentary of "Supersize Me" when it was first released on dvd, and enjoyed it. This book was a serendipitous find in a charity shop, and has been read both myself and DD3, so it was 30p well-spent :-)

Mnay of the criticisms levelled at the big M corporation are now redundant, in Britain at least, where many of the nutritional issues have been successfully addressed and resolved, to my stringent standards at least.
Needless to say, it provoked many interesting discussions about healthy eating, advertising and corporate policy-making with DD3 !

Disclaimer: In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit to the following:-

We went to the big M's this morning to use up no fewer than seven free food "wins" from the recent Monopoly game promotion. Eaten today by DH and I for a combined breakfast and lunch were:
2 Oats-so simple porridges
2 Cappuccinos
2 Cheeseburgers
1 Apple Pie (given to the young ones to share)


Plus a Happy Meal each for DD3 and 4.

I know. I should be ashamed.......
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"The Wisdom Of The Body"



The sequel to "How we die" is even more absorbing and nowhere near as heart-rending. It covers the whole spectrum of human life from conception to old age, from health to illness and discusses each body system throughly, with some absorbing case histories of remarkable people and remarkable recoveries from illnesses.

I re-read this book regularly, and particularly enjoy the author's attempts to make sense of the discrepancy between his Orthodox Jewish upbringing and the inculcations of respectful agnosticism during medical school.
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"How We Die"



This book, by eminent American surgeon Sherwin Nuland, is a classic and a treasure.

I had my first copy for several years, then decided that I didn't really need it and donated it to the local Public Library. Needless to say, within a few weeks I was regretting that decision and kept looking for a replacement copy. This one is definitely staying in my house, and has been for several years now :-)

Warning :Do NOT read it if you or anyone you love has a serous or terminal illness, as parts of it may be incredibly distressing.

If you want an honest and objective detailed medical analysis of the processes of death made accessible to a lay audience, this is a gripping albeit spine-chilling book.
It covers suicide, murder, degenerative physical and mental illnesses as well as cancer and heart disease in uneasy but compelling detail.

It is a useful book to bear in mind if you are wishing to be mindful of the ever-present nearness of Death..........
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"Home and Dry In Normandy"




I do have a great fondness for books about Brits deciding to pack up and move to foreign climes to set up home, meeting all sorts of interesting people and having adventures all the way.
A form of escapism, I know, but I often find myself garnering nuggets of information which may conceivably come in useful one day, or so I try to convince myself of some benefit to my escapist reading.....

This one I picked up in a charity shop last week, and read it with great enthusiasm at first. The opening two chapters were really funny and well-written, but by the middle of the book, with endless anecdotes about fishing (yawn) , re-stocking their mill-pond(yawn), I began to be reluctant to spend any more time reading the book, when my "waiting to be read" pile is reaching Leaning Tower of Pisa proportions.


I persevered, and the last few chapters really did redeem themselves, with a very poignant denouement to the love-hate relationship the author had with his neighbour, Rene. Their friendship survived several nasty blows and recriminatory episodes, and the book ended fairly happily.

It wasn't a total waste of a read, but if you are not utterly captivated by fishing, it may not be the book for you........
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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

From The Fathers

From the Sayings of St Augustine:-

"'If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you do not like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.'"
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My Godmother

UPDATE:

I am delighted to be able to say that my Godmother is improving, is feeling better and may be home by the middle of the week. Thank you all for your kind prayers !
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My beloved godmother, Presvytera Cacilia, is seriously ill in hospital.
Please, please pray for her, and for all her family.

She is an amazing Christian lady who is an inspiration and an example not only to me and my family, but also to our parish.

Placing her under the protection of the Most Holy Theotokos, and asking the intercessions of St Cecilia, Sts Cosmas and Damian, St John the Wonderworker and Father Seraphim of Platina.........
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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Sad Sights

Waiting with my young ones in the school playground this morning, I was taken aback to see a family I know who seem to be having problems.

The parents arrived in seperate cars, one child in each. The youngest child was standing with her Mum, at one end of the playground, and the oldest with her Dad at the farthest end of the playground.
Neither parent would look at each other, both seemed very unhappy compared to their normal demeanour and the children also looked very unhappy. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife :-(

There are now very few children left in DD3's class who actually have both parents living under the same roof as a family unit, and I just felt so desperately sad to see this family under such strain.

God grant them comfort, strength, grace and peace.

Lord have mercy.
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Sunday, May 03, 2009

See The Roman Catacombs !

Well, the Catacomb of St Domitilla, at least :-)




Text-based site here.
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Ranting

I am currently reading "Deeper" to DD3 as our bedtime reading, and I am sadly disappointed.

We read the first book, "Tunnels", and apart from the occasional "bl**dy" which I verbally edited out, the book was pretty good.

The sequel is much darker in every sense, and I take seriously grave exception to the young teenage protagonists using "Christ" as an expletive. Obviously I continue to edit out these instances, but I am annoyed enough that once I have finished reading the book to DD3, it will not be made accessible to her for independent reading for a good long while. It is currently marketed as 11+, with fourteen year old "heroes".

Why do authors think it is hip and cool to blaspheme in this way ? Would they dare do it to another religion's revered figures ? Why is it okay to blaspheme?
Is this the language that the authors themselves use in everyday conversation?

The authors of "Tunnels" and "Deeper" have written in prose which is otherwise a delight to read, with extended, meaningful and eloquent, often now regarded by the modern press as almost archaic, language.

Why do they have to ruin it with pointless, unnecessary blasphemy which does not serve any plot device or characterisation at all ? I know I am ranting, but it has ruined what would be otherwise a good read. I would expect writing for children to be of a higher standard than dragging everything down to the lowest common denominator obscene chav-speak.

I am extremely glad we did not approve these books for purchase for our primary school Library..........


Rant over :-)
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The Apple Tree

My apple tree is still in blossom, with loads more new buds growing each day.
I cajoled
begged
pleaded
implored
uhm ...... persuaded DH to get out the saw and drastically prune back another enormous, straggling tree which was completely overshadowing and physically crushing my poor apple tree about a week ago, and the normally short-lived blossom time just seems to have extended and extended, to my absolute delight :-)

I think I have a happy apple tree !
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