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I have just realised that my blog has been hacked and I apologise for the non-Eyeshoot related posts.
I shall do what I can to stop it happening again.
I have been keeping a list of the books I read each year for some time as an aide memoir to myself as I find it so easy to forget what I’ve read and when and am enjoy looking back over my reading from the previous year. I have a particular soft spot for reading multiple books by the same author and love long series of books.
1 – Smiley’s People – Jan 14th in Cuba
2 – Death at Pemberley by PD James (Jan 15th in Cuba)
3 – At Home by Bill Bryson (Jan 18th in Cuba)
4 – The Secret Pilgrim by John Le Carre (8th Feb)
5. The Readbreast by Jo Nesbo (21 feb)
6. Fall of Giants by Ken Follet (march 30)
7. Gallows View by Peter Robinson (April 11th)
8. The Hunger Games (April 15)
9. The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler (April 29)
10. Catching Fire (may 10)
11. Mockingjay (May 17)
12. A Dedicated Man by Peter Robinson (May 27)
13. Shark’s fin and Sichuan Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop (May 28)
14. A Necessary End Peter Robinson (June 13)
15. The Song of Achilles (June 16)
16. Heresy by SJ Parris
17. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audry Niffenegger (July 22)
18. Restless by William Boyd (Aug 11)
19. The Pyramid by Henning Mankell (aug 18)
20. Past Reason Hated by Peter Robinson (30 Aug)
21. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovich (6 Sept in Crete)
22. The Prisoner of Heaven by (Carlos Ruiz Zafon Crete 10 Sept)
23. Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovich (14 Sept ,Crete and home).
24. Prophesy by SJ Parris (Oct 1st)
25. Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant (oct 19)
26. The Litigators by John Grisham (Oct 28)
27. Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovich (Nov 14)
28. Sacrilege by SJ Parris (Dec 4)
29. Cold is the Grave by Peter Robinson (Dec 19)
Some thoughts on my year’s reading – high and low points.
I was disappointed in The Fall of Giants by Ken Follett as I had so enjoyed his earlier Pillars of the Earth books, I found it to be dull, plodding and seemingly aimed at a somewhat dim audience. Very obvious things were explained in an irritatingly simple way and I found it just annoyed me throughout despite the potentially thrilling length and breadth of the story. I hate to be let down by a much-anticipated book. I won’t be reading the next in the series.
Bill Bryson’s ‘At Home’s was fantastic! For a book chock full of facts it was surprisingly readable and I found myself ploughing through it with great pleasure on my sun lounger in Cuba boring my mother with a non-stop stream of information about everything from early ice production to rat infestations as she tried to get on with her own reading material. I’m a long time fan of Bill’s, but this book was very special indeed.
I succumbed to the Hunger Games trilogy early in the year and really enjoyed the somewhat glum view of a dystopian future – very original and creative (a new genre for me so not sure how original it really was) and I read them in pretty quick succession on my Kindle with great pleasure. I have yet to see the film.
Peter Robinson DCI Banks books – I have acquired a stack of paperbacks from my dad and have enjoyed reading them after seeing several of the stories on the TV during the year. It’s been interesting to read the early ones (starting in the 80s I think) and noting the vast amount of alcohol consumed by almost all levels of the police force in Eastvale – it’s a miracle that they managed to solve anything at all and catch any bad guys without crashing their cars and dying of liver failure. Too many together was a bit draining, but I think dad has some more for me which I shall look forward to reading in 2013.
The Song of Achilles was simply wonderful! I was never a fan of the Greek myths and struggled with them at school and quite happily ignored them completely until I fancied reading this book on my trip to Crete in June as it seemed pleasingly appropriate to do so. I am very glad that I did as I found it impossible to put down and read it in its entirety on my journey home. It was one of those books which lingers pleasingly in the mind for some time after completions.
The Rivers of London trilogy by Ben Aaronovich was my star find of the year. Initially attracted by an eye-catching cover in the bookshop I devoured the first book in Crete in September and promptly read the next two in the series. A curious mix of Harry Potter meets Sherlock Holmes meets a London guide-book they tell the story of a magical PC working in the magical department of the Met. Police, there’s all sorts of strange goings on in this secret world but it’s so soundly rooted in ‘real’ London that it manages to be totally convincing. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
The Giordano Bruno books by SJ Parris have pleased and irritated me in pretty much equal measure – I’ve been trying to fill a Shardlake shaped hole and Bruno seems to sort of do the job and he is growing on me book by book.
I have loved all the ScandiNoir stuff on television and read three books of the genre from last year – The Redbreast and The Hypnotist were both particularly grim with some moments of levity but the Pyramid by Henning Mankell was very good and it was an interesting insight into the enigmatic Wallander. I shall not be investigating any further books by the authors of the first two books! Mind you, I did love the Millennium Trilogy so shall not necessarily abandon the genre all together.
A special prize for the worst book of the year goes to John Grisham’s The Litigators which I bought after hearing a glowingly reviewed on the normally reliable ‘A Good Read’ on Radio 4. It was so grim that I had to keep on reading to see when it would suddenly turn into the book I had heard such glowing reviews about. It didn’t happen and I shall happily never read another Grisham novel.
I’ve just found out that Society6 have turned all of the images in my shop there into throw pillows – how brilliant!
They range in size from 16×16 to 20×20″ and I think they look fantastic, I may well get some for myself.
Here’s a shot of a selection of the whole range which is now available and the one which I fell for straight away:
While browsing Pinterest in front of the telly last night, my eye was caught by some very interesting pins. They took the form of a beautiful photograph and along side it, colour swatches inspired by the colour palette of the photograph. The effect is surprisingly beautiful and fascinating. After a few more clicks, I found myself on the website where the image originated – Design Seeds which is the creation of Jessica Colaluca, a lifetime colour obsessive and principle designer/owner of Seed Design Consultancy LLC. I would urge anyone with a visual bone in their body to click the link and have a look at her site.
The idea is that Jessica showcases a particularly lovely photo and then extracts the key colours in the palette ‘by hand’ i.e not using an automated tool to do the job (there are plenty of those available, but the results are somewhat dull and flat compared to the results on this site).
(See the original on the Design Seeds site here)
One of the most fun features is the ‘search by colour value‘ page where you can mix your own RGB colour using sliders and then see what Jessica has come up with for that precise colour! I searched for a blue reminiscent of some of my favourite Moroccan photographs and this was the result – not Morocco, but China or Japan instead (sorry but my knowledge of such languages is non-existent!) and I love the picture and the resulting colour swatches, they’re spot on. Jessica doesn’t take the photos herself, but buys them from various on-line sources and tweaks them in Photoshop until they look just right and then does here colour extraction thing.
(See the original on the Design Seeds site here)
If you want even more than the website offers, there is an impressive range of books (papery and e) available on Blurb.
It’s another epic batch of Daily Food, I don’t seem to have managed to get my act together with a posting schedule for this project!
From the top:
Lunch at home.
Turkey and courgette cakes with tomato sauce.
Steamed scrambled egg and tomato – working lunch at Sainsbury’s somewhere.
Fabulous and greedy antipasti platter with friends at Carluccio’s on Olympic Opening Ceremony night.
Peter’s sister’s birthday cake.
Lunch at home.
Lunch at home.
Fabulous Welsh Black beef rib for dad’s birthday lunch. Sadly I overcooked it.
Leftover roast beef stir-fry.
Working lunch on the road.
BBQ at home with friends – mackerel, prawns, courgette salad and couscous with herbs.
Leftover mackerel from BBQ with chickpea salad and herby yoghurt.
Supper out with friends at Greens vegetarian. Falafel with giant couscous and nigella flatbread.
Lunch at home.
Cup of tea.
Chicken Tikka at Al Faisals.
Ice cream wafer sandwich at Tescos – working lunch treat.
Fishy weekend lunch at home.
Roast big mushrooms, roast veg, salad and chips for lunch at Albert’s Didsbury with friends.
Sunday lunch starters at mum’s.
Lunch at home.
BBQ booze on the terrace for supper.
Stirfried prawns for supper.
Gravadlax at IKEA.
Home made spag bol.
Delicious ham and salad at Katsouris Deli on Pride Parade day with friends.
Vietnamese chicken salad for friends over for lunch.
Burger at the Diner at Salt’s Mill, Saltaire.
Porridge and tea for breakfast.
Lunch at home.
Working lunch at Tescos in Litherland, Liverpool. Sitting outside on a bench in the sun!
Chicken kebab at Sultan’s with friends on Friday night.
Daily Food 21/365
This was one of the delights for our breakfast at the bizarre hotel in Trinidad where we spent the night. The breakfast buffet was massive and consisted of largely inedible food. I had two extra hard boiled eggs, which, luckily for me, is just how I like them and then we had the luxury of some honey which was a treat that we thoroughly enjoyed!
Daily Food 22/365
This rather sad meal was eaten as we rather sadly waited for our two hour delayed flight home from Havana airport. It actually tasted much better than it looks because the cheese (which we harvested from the lunch buffet at the hotel before leaving for the airport) was a miracle. The miracle being that it was real, European cheese, tasting something like Parmesan. It was served as a beautiful, whole massive cheese with the top removed for us to help ourselves. We took a massive quantity as we knew that it would be like nectar on the flight home. As we were delayed for two hours, we gave in to our hunger and started to eat our minimalist picnic while seated at the bar in the departure lounge. Our final meal in Cuba!
Daily Food 23/365
What a difference a few hours and several thousand miles makes! This was our lunch in First Class on the Euston to Manchester train as we headed home. We were famished after our seemingly endless journey (Havana overnight to Gatwick, train to Euston then train home) and took full advantage of the ‘free’ refreshments available to us. The two large, chilled glasses of (fairly average) white wine could have been the finest vintage and even the rather strange sandwiches (Rare roast beef with horseradish and creme fraiche and white Stilton with fruit and port chutney) tasted very yummy where normally we would have been rather critical of their blandness!
…so I’ve been prompted to make a post on my rather under-used blog. Needless to say, I have made various resolutions centered about my online existence and within that naturally is my website and this little blog. I shall post more next year and the reason I can be so sure about that is that I shall be embarking upon another photo a day project. Last years is (thank goodness) drawing to a close too as I started on 01-01-11 with my photo a day/colour a month project which I called ‘Eyeshoot 365‘ it was over on Blogger as I didn’t have this blog up and running then and while I have got very used to Blogger as I’ve been using it for years, I am really looking forward to my new project happening here, on my lovely WordPress hosted blog. But more of that new project on 01-01-12.
Xmas was very nice for us, it’s always generally low key with more food than parties – we are a greedy lot! Xmas day was at my mum’s and there were six of us plus the entertaining new feline in the family. Like all families, we have our traditional routines on Xmas day, here’s what we do. Arrive at mum’s at about 1.00, consume plenty of fizz which washes down the smoked salmon on rye bread and the home made sausage rolls (the only time of the year when I eat them), while the eating and drinking is going on we distribute the gifts and dive in. While all this is going on finishing touches to the main meal are underway in the kitchen. We ate spectacularly tasty Welsh Black Beef ribs from the splendid farmer/butcher Brian Thomas over in Anglesey, all 6.5kg of it, a decent chunk of which is still in my fridge! The beef came with the usual trimmings and was followed by first of all Christmas pudding for those who like it (I don’t), then telly (Ratatouille then The Gruffalo’s Child both which were brilliant) somewhere in the middle of all that we enjoyed Jamie Oliver’s mince pies then some more television, then my pudding, fallen chocolate soufflé with prunes and rum accompanied by Doctor Who in the final bout of Xmas day tv. Then we all staggered home. Presents were jolly good this year with from dad some Chanel No5 and a nice wodge of cash, from mum my holiday to Cuba in a few days, ‘Curry Easy by Madhur Jaffrey’ some hand cream and a nose clip to go with my snorkel for Cuba! From Peter an iTunes card, POPA for my new iPhone (which I’m going to collect any minute now from the Apple Store) which looks like great fun and I can’t wait to try out, Pring’s Photographer’s Miscellany and some very important chocolate reindeer! We were suitably knackered by the time we arrived home at about 8.30 and not a morsel of food nor drink passed our lips for the rest of the evening. Here’s how some of it looked:
The next catering event is New Years Eve the plans for which have changed just today. I was going to host supper for six of us, but two dropped out and now the four remaining shall be going to friends (the seafood feast friends) who shall host. I will be cooking a delicious fish pie for 12 people and donating the magnum of Champagne we received for a wedding present. So off to the fish market in a minute and to collect my shiny new iPhone. Happy new year’s eve to you all and I’ll be back very soon!
I confess and hang my head in shame as I realise how long it has been since my last fascinating post on my blog, it was all about polenta and perhaps I just couldn’t think of anything to follow on from that!
I have not been dead, in bed or drunk for the time of my blogging absence. I have been busy. Here’s what I’ve been busy doing:
Regaining the use of my dining room as my husband and sons move from their office in said dining room to the Northern Quarter in Manchester
Moving my office from upstairs to downstairs
Planning a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale (30% off everything here)
Finding Kate Bush’s new album irritating
Enjoying the start of The Killing II
Deleting all the episodes of Glee and The Tudors which I had lot the will to watch from my irritating DVR
Coped with a broken fridge and had it fixed
Made challah with a Rabbis wife
Went to Holland on a shoot
Sold 17 things through my Etsy shop
Went to a funeral
Had a Champagne afternoon tea in at Odfellows in Chester
Had lunch at Betty’s in Harrogate (actually at Harlow Carr RHS Garden)
Started a new job
Went for a run along the River Mersey
Went to seven yoga classes
Met my Etsy friends at the Manchester Craft Centre
Cooked supper for friends, cooked supper for my mum, cooked lunch for friends, cooked 8kg of mussels for a birthday supper and cooked lots more as well
Watched Julia’s Eyes
So, there you go, I have been busy but unispired to write about any of it. But I am now a reforemd blogger and shall dutifully update my blog.
I went for a short run in my local park on Saturday morning, it’s called Alexandra Park and is one of those massive Victorian parks which you find in cities in the UK. These parks must have been fantastic in their prime with all of the beautiful flower beds, mature trees, playing fields and the obligatory duck pond. Now they are usually somewhat down at heel as Alexandra Park certainly is. There are not really any flowers, there are certainly some very impressive trees including a lovely line avenue running the length of the park, the duck pond is there and well occupied with foul, but it scummy and scruffy; the community centre is horrible looking, I certainly wouldn’t want to go there and the stone drinking fountain doesn’t work. It’s a shame really. There’s one such park in Huddersfield, Beaumont Park which has just been beautifully restored to it’s former glory with a miniature railway, fabulous stone work, a bandstand, cascades, a conservatory tea room and so on. Anyway, on Saturday I found a great mural on the wall of the community centre building which caught my eye and gave me an excuse to stand still for a few minutes to get my breath back and to shoot a few snaps on my phone with the new version of the Instamatic Ap.
What an amazing sunset tonight! Looking from our terrace over towards the cemetery. I don’t usually have much luck with sunset pictures but this one worked fine. No editing done, straight out of the camera!