Sunday, October 23, 2011

Recently Read

Yes, I know, it is way overdue :-)

I love all the books written by Lady Winifred Fortescue; living in Provence between the wars, she depicts a different world to our own. Not always idyllic, but delightful books nevertheless.

The Don Camillo books are real comfort reads for me. Thoughtful, delightful and always funny with an undercurrent of  great depth.

Having borrowed this from the Library, I was pleased to get a hardback copy of my own from the Thrift shop for 50p :-)

Last Man Down was a very interesting account of one firegighter's experience of 9/11, but it smacked a little too much of the author blowing his own trumpet for my tastes. I have the utmost respect for  all firefighters and would be pleased to buy this guy a drink, but I wouldn't want to spend the evening in his company.......

Body Trauma is essential reading for anyone writing a story which involves injuries, accidents or Emergency Care.  Gruesome and gripping in equal measure. Be warned !

I really enjoyed Holiday SOS. It was a last minute "Quick, grab a book to read and check it out before the Library shuts" decision, and was really absorbing reading. The author is a doctor who medi-vacs injured or ill people from all over the world back to the UK, on behalf of medical insurance companies. It was a side of medicine I had never encountered, and it was really interesting.

All David Crystal's books are good, but this one really captured my imagination. He traces the development of the English language from its very earliest times, and it is a large, closely-printed and  scholarly tome. I enjoyed every single page but found that I could only manage five or six pages a day before it felt as if my brain would explode with all the information; consequently it has taken me months to read, but it was well worth it !

I had some vague recollection of having read an article about the restoration of the gardens at Heligan, in Cornwall, many years ago, and was so pleased to pick up this signed copy at - you guessed it - my favourite Thrift shop ! I didn't realise that the author, who was the deus ex machina behind restoring Heligan is also the same person who conceived and brought to fruition the amazing Eden Project !

Laughable Latin is exactly what it says, a great miscellany of useful phrases translated into Latin. After all, doesn't everyone need to be able to say "I'd like to order twenty peacocks for my banquet tomorrow and one hundred snails gorged on milk?"  - Viginti pavones et centum limaces satiatas lacte pro convivio cras reservare cupio ?

The Whitby Witches series are marketed as children's books, but quite frankly are wasted on anything less than a teenager. Scary, creepy and so sad, they have been perennial favourites in our family for the last fifteen years,  and I do hope they all come back into print soon.

This was an audio book from the Library, which I took out in great anticipation. I have read  five of the Falco books and enjoyed them all, but despite repeated attempts, I could not stick this book beyond Disc two, and  returned it to the Library. The story lacked coherence as an audio book, but I will give it a try in hardcopy form in the future.

This was a charity shop find, but the illustrations weren't brilliantly reproduced and it could have been such a good book if they had......lots of really useful information.

I borrowed this from the Library, and gave up after a hundred pages. it bored me to tears, which was a shame as I love Woman's Hour on Radio 4 !

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Hamster Chronicles, Part The Second

Saturday evening:

I have had a satisfactory day. I have explored my cage and all its facilities, re-arranging things to my complete satisfaction and am now plotting world domination resting quietly, or so my unsuspecting humans believe. I have had a huge amount of fuss, praise and attention showered upon me, particularly by my owner's  older sister, who looks at me with a slightly wistful air. I think she may be fertile ground for my next subliminal whispering campaign.........

Sunday morning:


There is a great deal of activity going on downstairs. I do so hope my humans don't think that this is acceptable behaviour for a Sunday morning; I have had a busy night playing on my hamster wheel and gnawing on my see-saw and I do need my rest.

There have been many conversations going on amongst the humans; it transpires that my hard work last night has paid dividends. The slightly older child has expressed an interest in having a hamster too, and the male parental unit has been having a long discussion with the female parental unit. I have had my back legs crossed, which did raise a curious glance from my owner, who was concerned that I hadn't yet worked out where I was to "do my business".  Sigh. I could do with a partner in crime, not a widdle, thank you very much......

Patient negotiations and promises of good behaviour have been successfully completed, I overheard one of the humans say that they will be going to the pet store when it opens at 11.00am in order to get new suction pads for my water bottle and also get the other child a hamster of her very own. I cannot believe how easy this has been......even the female parental unit has been saying how cute I am, and wondering why didn't they get hamsters before. She too may be a willing convert to The Cause one day !

The house is quiet. The humans must be just about arriving at the pet store now, waiting for it to open. I do hope they are able to sort out my water bottle suction pads, as the water dish they have given me, though satisfactory, does tend to end up with bits of my sawdust bedding floating in it, which is not much fun to drink.......

12 midday.
I hear the noise of a key in the front door lock, and some excited voices. There is someone saying something about "a wretched creature trying to eat her way out of the carrying box."
What on earth is going on ?

Ah. All is revealed. The female parental unit and the biggest child are holding a box which appears to have unnaturally large air holes  in it..... and now another rodent is emerging. There are shouts of  "Open up the new cage before she escapes!"

and they only just manage to get the box in the cage before my fellow hamster emerges. There has been some collateral damage...... fellow hamster has foolishly and rashly bitten the hand that will be feeding her, which is never, ever a Good Thing to do.

This is Margo, the bloodthirsty vampire hamster with whom I shall have to share the house and the humans. Do not be deceived by the sweet innocence she shows in the picture below..... she is a fearsome warrior indeed.

The moment her cage grille is lifted, she is ready for action and attempting to escape. I presume this is for world domination purposes, as we seem to have the whole household under our spell - apart from the female parental unit, who uttered some very uncouth words after Margo had bitten her.

P.S. They did sort out my water bottle. All is well in my little hamstery universe!!
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Monday, October 03, 2011

The Hamster Chronicles, Part The First.

Thursday night:

Send subliminal messages to the youngest daughter along the lines of "Yes, you really do want a cute, adorable, sweet little hamster for your forthcoming birthday. Make sure you really stress this to your loving parents, preferably repeatedly over the next 24 hours......"

Friday night:

It worked! The child has made ardent representations to her parents, promising that she will dutifully and lovingly care for the intended hamster, including cleaning out the cage at least once a week. The parents are weakening.  We will infiltrate this household; I am confident of success !

Saturday morning:

The child has woken up bright and early, asking what time they can all go to the pet shop to "look at" cages and hamsters. The parental units have stressed that there is no guarantee that  hamsters will be bought today, despite the quivering lower lip and tear-filled eyes of the aforesaid youngest child. It is turning into a family outing; we have an added chance of success as Mrs DoomHamster is accompanying them on the excursion, and we all know how obsessed she is with hamsters.....

The entire family has been processed through the decontamination showers to make sure they do not bring any noxious odours or germs to the pet emporium. This is looking very promising indeed.

What ?
 They are not going straight to the pet shop? Do they think this is some sort of day-trip, with these plans of going to The Big M's for  the bizarrely named "Happy Meal" ? These parental units really do need to get their priorities straightened out. I can see I will have to lick them into shape pretty smartly once I become Numero Uno...

They are in the car, en route to their feeding stop. I will be able to see them eating from my pet shop, and will be sending subliminal messages to encourage them to bolt their food as quickly as possible. At least there is not a queue in the fast food place......

They have entered my building. The smallest child has dragged most of her siblings to look at all the hamsters while the parental units look at the price of the cages.
Rats !  there is a major technical hitch; the lower life-forms (AKA gerbils and Russian dwarf hamsters) are on the lowest two tiers of cages, and therefore at perfect eye level for the youngest child... we are stuck on the top shelf and SHE CANNOT SEE HOW WONDERFUL WE ARE !
Semd loud messages to taller members of the party.... ah, that's better, they have lifted her up so she can see how fluffy, adorable  and  megalomanic  cute we Syrian hamsters really are.
She seems to be weakening; now we just need to convince the parental units, who for some inexplicable reason, remain somewhat sceptical.....

Bother. The shop assistant has warned them that they will only be able to keep one of us in a cage because we  are likely to murder maim kill destroy  fight.  How can we achieve world domination if we can only have one hamster per household ? We may need to have alternative plans.....

I have been chosen !  I am currently in a cardboard carrying tube whilst the male parental unit is paying the bill, and I am on my way to my new home. Little do they know what awaits them......

I am safely ensconced in my palatial new home. I must say, it is a vast improvement over the last domicile. I have a spacious  perspex  and pink plastic cage, a wooden see-saw, my own little house,  a ramp, a platform, and best of all, at last I have a Hamster Wheel !

 I even have a  name; the youngest child has called me Charlotte.  It is a sweet and demure name, lulling them into a false sense of security - hahahhaaha.

There appears to some sort of technical hitch... apparently the rubber sucker pads to affix my water bottle to the outside of the cage are missing, which will necessitate a  return trip to the store, though that won't be today. I have been given a sturdy dish of water  instead.
I can live with that.......

To Be Continued.......
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