Sunday, 26 May 2013

2013 Reading Part 3

Another 8 books have been devoured - helped by a holiday which we have just returned from - more news about that shortly no doubt - wading through not only my photos but the 1400+ that David took... Enough material there for around 350 blog posts...

Anyway - on to the books!

First up was the first of the Bernard Cornwell books on Thomas of Hookton, the English archer whose career through the Hundred Years War (presumably not all of it...) we are about to embark on. Once again there is a new book out and I wanted to remind myself of the story so far. Another two books to go before I can read the new one! In this, Thomas whilst fighting on the English side, he finds a French girl and both an ally and an enemy on the French side who are related to him.

The first of Jasper Fforde's hilarious Thursday Next novels. This is good, but the series really gets motoring with the next one. Set in their own world, this book only tinkers with the idea that book characters can find something else to do when they are not actually being read by anyone.

One of my Dad's sci-fi collection, I loved this as a teenager for obvious reasons, but the story is a good one also!

Julian, Dick, George and Anne, not forgetting Timmy the dog, go off on a hike for a long weekend solving not just any old jewellery heist but finding a haul of royal jewels hidden at the bottom of a lake. Enid Blyton's books are full of jolly farmers' wives always ready to cut up countless loaves to make sandwiches and bands of ruthless, totally stupid criminals. Dick... don't do that... it's not nice and it's not clever...

A new author to me and a previously unread series about King Arthur (please see shameless self-promotion of my own King Arthur book in the left side panel...) This rather concentrates on Guinevere's part in the proceedings and the bloodthirsty bits are mainly missing or sanitised. It was a good story, but perhaps aimed at the female persuasion maybe. I might be tempted to read the next but probably only if every other of my favourite authors pop their clogs unexpectedly and new books dry up.

Again, an author new to me - I spotted this one in some promotional stuff sent by the publisher of my Blackpool book (see left side panel for shameless self-promotion) and found it choc full of stuff I didn't know. There's not a great deal of countries out there that we haven't invaded at some time or other, though some we have entered only to help the population fight off other invaders. This is a simple A-Z list with some bare details about each one, so a little episodic - if that is an actual word...

The third Elizabethan murder mystery starring the exiled Italian heretic Giordano Bruno. In this he goes off to Canterbury to try to clear the name of a woman he had once loved. Once there however he finds himself embroiled in yet more murders and a plot to restore the Catholic faith to England. Number four in the series is due out next year. I'll be waiting...

I recently downloaded the entire Sherlock Holmes works to my kindle for absolutely nothing, free and gratis, putting even the Pound Shop to shame... This is the first of those vintage tomes and introduces the reader to the know-it-all Holmes and his sidekick Watson - not as bumbling as you might imagine from some of the films. You forgive Holmes his foibles and for being good at everything as he is just a touch entertaining along the way! He solved the mystery too...

I seem to have loaded the Kindle with enough books to get me through the next year or so... I haven't forgotten the other series I started and haven't finished but have gone off at a few tangents instead this time. I'm sure we will return to the likes of Sudden and the Wheel of Time etc...

Thursday, 16 May 2013

1960s Rochdale Photography Shop

The other day I introduced my great-uncle Percy Alston. He owned and ran a photographic shop on Spotland Road in Rochdale in the 1960s.

Last night I came across a photograph he took of the interior and counter. Behind the counter are films and boxes of photographic paper. On the left are boxes of either cine films or audio tapes. The magazine Movie Maker and another Cine related magazine are on sale from the stand on top of the counter.

The above shot shows Spotland Road, Rochdale, but unfortunately not the shop exterior. I'd guess at somewhere around 1963, but am happy for someone to tell me otherwise.

Uncle Percy sold tape recorders in the shop and I have a couple of tapes that he must have used when demonstrating machines to potential customers. Using a microphone to record his own voice he counts up from one to ten and then says "This is a recording made on the Grundig tape recorder. Any background noise you can hear is made by traffic passing by outside the window..." A canny lad, my great-uncle!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Singing In The Rain at Witton Park

Today we played at Witton Park in Blackburn. I think it would be true to say that the weather could have been kinder! But we managed to attract a good sized audience at least during the early afternoon before the rain really set in.

We had gone armed with some bin liners to put over the speakers and we managed to stay dry by playing from inside the entrance to one of the old stables around the courtyard.

And we had a bit of help when we took on the Take That song, The Flood!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Percy and Elsie Alston

Introducing my Great Uncle and Aunt. Auntie Elsie was my paternal Grandmother's sister. Her husband Percy was a sub-mariner during World War One and went on to own and run a camera shop on Spotland Road in Rochdale. They unfortunately never had any children and both died within a fairly short time of each other some time in the 1970s.

A while ago a collection of colour slides and a few black and white negatives came into my possession and I've only today started to look at them. Uncle Percy was an enthusiast. He stocked and used both still and cine cameras in his shop and was commissioned more than once to produce films of coach tours on the Continent, which he and Elsie did by taking their saloon car across to Europe and then following the route of the coach, arriving in time to shoot footage of the coach approaching and then disembarking its passengers. I have a couple of these films on 16mm stock and some old Zonophone reel tapes of Austrian music that he used to accompany them during promotional showings of the films by the coach companies.

Above left Percy and Elsie are seen with Elsie's mother, my Great-Grandmother. Few of these photographs are labelled (we don't do it do we?) so I've no idea where many of them are.

So this introduces them. I'll be bringing more photos from their collection to the blog every now and then - though perhaps the photos of my Great Uncle in his seventies, nude in the garden at their bungalow near Morecambe might stay private and unscanned... They did make me grin though as I always remember him as a fun character!

Aberystwyth Evening

This week included a trip to Wales for work, starting on Tuesday evening as I arrived in Aberystwyth on the west coast.

It must have been about the - oh, let's see - the first mild day of the year... I dumped my bags in the hotel and set off to look for somewhere to eat, no coat, hat, mittens or anything!

It was quite pleasant to walk along the promenade - Marine Terrace, they call it there. The pier juts out into Cardigan Bay and I passed by, seeing the unmistakeable walls of a castle in the distance.

Just before the castle was an impressive building that turned out to be the Old College of the university. This had been built as a hotel but the owner had problems and sold it to the then University College of Wales in the 1860s. A most impressive building with a tower and three-panelled frieze. I suspect the crazy golf course is more for the benefit of holidaymakers in the town rather than the students, but you never know!

Two dragons stand guard over the doorway, perhaps as a warning to students. One is named "Error" and the other "Darkness". A trifle harsh perhaps... do we not learn from mistakes? Anyway I had occasion to visit the new campus of today's Aberystwyth University the following day and managed to run a workshop for university and college managers without being shrivelled up by dragon fire!

Large versions of the photos: seafront, pier, crazy golf and old college, old college, error (the dragon - there's not an error in my page!!!), darkness (such a temptation to link to a totally black image, but I resisted and you will see the dragon!)

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