Friday, 24 August 2012

A Day Out on Brownsea Island and Enid Blyton

 This week, when the sun was shining, and it wasn't pouring with rain, we went to Brownsea Island in Dorset, although there was low cloud and drizzle on the way and we nearly turned round and went home again!
I'm so glad we didn't, as you can see, it turned out to be a beautiful day.
I love Brownsea Island so much because it reminds me of the Mediterranean coast with blue sea sparkling through the dark pine trees.
In 1907, it was the site of the first Boy Scout camp and Scouts were still arriving, girls as well as boys in these enlightened times, some with rucksacks almost as big as themselves in the little ferry which sails every half an hour from Sandbanks.
The island belongs to the National Trust, and is one of the last refuges for the Red Squirrel, and one raced by me so fast that I ended up with a very grainy photo, not good enough to post here.

 There are several narrow little beaches, where waves lap over caramel covered pebbles, and I could imagine the Famous Five landing a rowing boat and setting out on a great adventure.

I used to love the Famous Five books, and any book with Enid Blyton on the cover is irresistible.  (I bought the Barbara Stoney biography on a trip to Enid's former home, Old Thatch near Bourne End, a couple of years ago.) So I was excited to find Enid Blyton and her enchantment with Dorset by Dr Andrew Norman in the National Trust shop.*
It focuses on the Famous Five books and their setting in Dorset, especially the Swanage and Corfe Castle area, with lots of detailed information about the region in Enid's time and before. However, the most interesting fact for me is that Brownsea Island features as Whispering Island in Five Have a Mystery to Solve. Definitely one for my bookshelf!

*The pictures and text behind the book in the photo are from another source about Enid Blyton and are just there to make up the picture.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

the Last Letter from your Lover by Jojo Moyes should NOT be made into a movie!

the Last Letter from your Lover by Jojo Moyes should NOT be made into a movie! Not that I think anyone is planning to at the moment. But if they are, it should be made into a television drama serial instead, so we can sit back and enjoy every emotional romantic moment and precious detail all over again, (with a box of man-size tissues) rather than squash it into an hour an a half.
The Daily Telegraph calls it 'An utterly absorbing and blissfully romantic read', and I would totally agree.
It is the story of two women, Ellie, a reporter in 2003, who is in love with an unobtainable married man, and Jennifer, in 1960, married to an eminent businessman, but who has a secret lover.
Jojo draws the characters and their time so well, rather in the style of Daphne du Maurier. I can see Jennifer as an elegant woman, trapped in the conventions of the lingering post war period, when all women could do in her situation was to literally keep calm and carry on, that is, of course, until they have to make a choice and risk having the scandal of their failed marriage spread all over the papers.
Ellie is a modern woman with her own job and flat, but the choices for her have not got any easier over the years. The Last Letter is the thing that binds these two women together towards a dramatic conclusion.

I've only read one of her other books and that was The Ship of Brides. I lent it to someone going on a trip to Australia and never got it back, so they must have loved it as much as me!
Have you read any of Jojo's books?

PS It is interesting how there is more than one cover design for her books. I wonder why?

Sunday, 12 August 2012

I've been watching the London Olympics!

Way back in 1976, a girl at work told me that she was going to take the next two weeks off to watch the Montreal Olympics. I thought that she was mad. . .
But as I write, I'm waiting for the Closing Ceremony, and I'm rather sad that this wonderful fortnight is over.
It was so compulsive: I even watched Nicola Adams win her gold medal at boxing, something I wouldn't normally do, but amazingly, she was the first woman to win that gold medal and she was British!
Earlier in the Games, Clare Balding did a report on women in the Olympics. I'd always taken it for granted that women could compete against men equally, and I was amazed that the heroine of my childhood, Mary Rand, who got a gold for long jump in the 1964 Games, was the first British female to win one in a field and track event.
Of course, I didn't see every event, but I did get tickets for the Dressage at Greenwich Park, as you can see. I learnt quite a lot about it as I watched, and joined in the celebrations when Team GB won their section.
All the 2012 volunteers were fantastic, greeting us when we arrived, and sending us on our way at the end, not to mention answering any questions cheerfully.
The great thing about having the Olympics in Britain is that everyone has been talking about it from that fantastic Opening Ceremony onwards. It's been rather like Christmas without all the shopping and presents.
What has been your favourite London 2012 moment?

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick is a really good read.

I was lucky enough to buy The Cornish House at the RNA Conference at Penrith and get it signed by Liz Fenwick and I've really enjoyed reading it.
The characters are drawn so well:  Maddie who has been widowed and is bringing up her stepdaughter, Hannah, has a guilty secret which kept me guessing until nearly the end. Hannah, having lost her father who died and her mother who walked out, is understandably the teenager from hell, and I wondered if Liz actually knew such a girl, but I hope not! Then there is the gorgeous Mark who Maddie is not sure about, and the charming Gunnar for love interest, not to mention her new Cornish friend, Tamsin, urging her on to make the right decisions. Of course, there is the house itself which belonged to Maddie's aunt, and the secret that it hides until Maddie and Hannah discover the answer. All in all it is a fabulous summer read, or indeed for any time of the year.
What is your favourite book about Cornwall?