Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Winnie the Pooh

It's Winnie the Pooh day - or, the day on which (in 1882) the author of the eponymous tales A.A.Milne was born. Here he is, looking very typically author-ish:


Which can't have been his normal pose, can it? I mean, Winnie the Pooh - as well as being such utterly charming, captivating children's literature - contains in such a little space so much love and fun and wisdom that I can't imagine A.A.Milne as anything other than a sort of cross between Peter Pan, Lewis Carroll and Plato. And a lot more fun than Plato.

So, let's raise a jar (of honey) and remember some of his best lines, shall we?




























Have you got a favourite Winnie-the-Pooh quote?


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Love the Sales?

It's that time again, and if you love the sales you'll love Love the Sales - the site that brings the best bargains from all the big names, brands and stores together and where every day is sale day.

Here are a just a few examples of their current largesse:


And that's just for starters. The site is full of all manner of things from electronics, household goods, furniture, outdoor goods as well as a clothing range no High Street store could ever stock. And all to be browsed from the comfort of your own home.

I have a confession. I hate sale shopping. (I don't much like non-sale shopping if truth be told!) But I love a bargain. So sites like Love the Sales are my idea of heaven - all the discount, none of the discontent.

See you at the (Love the) Sales!

This post comes via Love the Sales

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The cup that cheers

It's International Tea Day. No, I didn't know there was such a thing, either. But now I do it occurs to me, sitting here sipping my morning cuppa, that the humble char is actually quite significant. As an emblem of Britishness.

Our love of tea virtually defines us. We drink gallons of the stuff. There's a song about 'stopping for tea' and the tea-break has been a source of comfort to workers and strife for employers for centuries.

But that blend of leaves infused in boiling water is a lot less British than you think. Tea can be 'China' or 'Indian' yet grown in Sri Lanka or Kenya. There's not a lot British about that!

Or is there? Because at the end of the day that's what defines us as a nation, isn't it? Whether it's language (those terms like entrepreneur that the French haven't got a word for Mr President) or saints (Google St George if you don't know where he came from) or clothes or food (our national dish? chicken tikka masala, apparently) we seem to specialise in taking what's best from other cultures and celebrating and assimilating it.

We don't threaten to build walls. That was the Romans. (Ok, we voted Brexit but I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that was about Brussels bureaucracy than bolstering our borders.) 

Britain traditionally seems to have made a virtue of diversity, not unity.

And long may it continue.

Cheers!




Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Christmas book review

I do love small presses. They take risks. They bring things out that aren't just tired re-workings of an old 'success'. And one of my favourites at the moment is the excellent Valley Press. Based in Scarborough, Valley has brought out a wonderfully diverse range of poetry and prose over the past year, including this fabulously funny poetry collection - Lucky Dip by Catherine Boddy. If your copy of Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes is looking tired and if the kids can recite A.A.Milne's 'Now We Are Six' from memory, get them this as a stocking-filler.


I've been teaching Classics this term, as in epic poems from the classical era. I've been teaching myself first, then the class. And it's worked largely because I've found two wonderfully fresh and vivid translations of first the Iliad, then the Aeneid, both by the late Robert Fagles. They're not the 'set texts' as prescribed by the exam board. So (obviously) we've been studying the 'boring' books in class. But these first-rate versions are what you need to bring the ancient texts to life, and they come complete with fabulous introductions making it crystal clear what's happening. You can even buy a collection that includes the Odyssey, too. They don't write 'em like this anymore!



Tales out of School by Jeannette Ellwood is a wonderfully heart-warming collection of stories based on the author's own experience of teaching in a small village school in the Chilterns. As anyone who's ever worked in education knows, the classroom and its cast of characters - teachers, pupils, parents - is an abundant source of humour. But creating a well-turned tale from such day-to-day anecdotes is an art and Jeannette Ellwood has it in spades. Think Gervaise Phinn or James Herriot but in Hertfordshire.


And finally... my latest book might not be out yet (it's currently being crowdfunded by Unbound) but you can still buy a gift pledge if you want to. That way you get Christmas presents sorted both for this year AND the next (when the book will - mirabile dictu - be in their hands).

Oh, and I'll send them the certificate, too. After all, you've got enough to do at this time of year. Haven't you?


Thursday, 1 December 2016

Advent bin-men

It's the season of Advent once again and here, in our Advent calendar, come the bin-men...

 

What did you find behind the little door today?!
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