Saturday, 24 March 2012

A bit of craft

I made some of these little lavender-filled strawberries for a charity lunch and they were very popular. The original pattern came from Selvedge magazine, (issue No 31, Nov/Dec 2009)but I've seen a variation in Mollie Makes magazine (issue No 2, June 2011) and also in Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts, although these latter are designed as pincushions. I filled mine with home-grown lavender from the large bush in my front garden. The lavender bush also supplies the wherwithal to make these lavender pottles, which I tuck into drawers to help scent the contents and protect against the increasingly voracious clothes-moths.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Catching up

I know its now March, but not having blogged for a while, ( have been catching up with gardening and so on),  it's time for a catch-up. So what have I been reading recently? Julian Barnes The Sense of an Ending is a slight book , physically, but its impact is much greater than its size, although I do feel ambiguous towards it. A story about memory of the past and how events are remembered by others as well as oneself. Tony , retired  from his somewhat dull job, is recalling events from his schooldays, and particularly one incident in which one of his schoolmates hung himself after getting a girl pregnant. At university, a fellow schoolmate, Adrian, talented and clever, goes out with Tony's girlfriend Veronica and later kills himself. Although I didn't particularly like any of the characters in this book, yet I felt some sympathy for them and the positions they found themselves in. I think the clue is in the section where Tony writes that " we are all damaged" and goes on to expound about how people cope with the damage that life inflicts on us in different ways. When we discussed The Sense of an Ending at a recent Book Club meeting, the talk was concentrated for almost the whole of the meeting on this book , instead of wandering off on to a variety of vaguely associated subjects, as often  happens.
A couple of reads seen through the eyes of ten year old boys followed on from each other. The first was Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman. I liked Harri Opuku, recently arrived in Peckham, together with his older sister Lydia and mother, father and baby sister Agnes left behind in Ghana. Harri is at school where his best friend has ginger hair, his would-be young girlfriend blonde, so the atmosphere of racism is present, along with, increasingly, violence. Gangs, a schoolmate called Killa, the death of an older boy in a seemingly random stabbing all lead to a growing sense of menace in Harri's life especially when he and his ginger-haired friend Dean decide to play detective na d find out who killed the stabbed boy. The pigeon which Harri feeds and which he looks after and by which feels he is watched over is also an important character in the book.

Annabel Pitcher's debut novel, My Sister lives on the Mantelpiece is narrated by ten-year old Jamie, who has moved to the lake District with his Dad and older sister Jasmine to make a fresh start, after their Mum left, and after sister Rose has died., killed by a terrorist bomb. While Dad has difficulties in moving on, Jamie has difficulty in remembering Rose, as was only five when she died. Jasmine and Jamie try to support each other and their father, while also trying to deal with the changes in their own lives - new schools, different friends to find, how to cope with bullying, racism and the absence of their mother. Ultimately this story is one of hope, as despite a particularly mad idea of Jamie's, life does begin to change for the better.

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