21 May, 2017

NGS in Headington

We had a lovely afternoon today visiting the gardens that were open in Old Headington for the National Garden Scheme.

Old Headington is a beautiful part of Oxford that used to be a village in its own right. It is full of very attractive stone-built houses and quiet, winding streets, and it is particularly appealing since it is just a stone's throw from the hugely busy and congested new Headington.

We saw several gardens -- some large and some small, but all very pretty. The NGS is a really great way of getting ideas for improving your own garden through looking at all the things that others have done.

We had tea at Ruskin College, which was very pleasant -- brownies, scones and cookies at just £1 a piece! We finished off by popping into St Andrew's Church in Old Headington, which has an interesting history and is very beautiful.

09 May, 2017

Different Class

I recently finished reading "Different Class" by Joanne Harris, which I really enjoyed.

This is  a dark novel that takes place in St Oswald's, a grammar school in North Yorkshire. The main protagonist is Roy Straitley, who has taught Latin at the school for his entire career, and is now nearing retirement. The book flips between 1981 and 2005 and centres on a disturbing set of events that took place at the school in 1981, exploring the way in which they impinge upon the present (2005). One boy, Johnny Harrington, is centre stage throughout -- first as a pupil at the school and then returning twenty years later as the new 'superhead' whose mission is to bring St Oswald's back from the brink.

The plot is tense and twists and turns throughout. It is only at the very end of the book that you fully understand what happened all those years ago -- and, more importantly, who was responsible.

Harris' prose is a pleasure to read -- tightly crafted, funny and very intelligent.

If you're looking for a book that is both gripping and thought-provoking, I would highly recommend this one.

Junk in the loft

At the weekend, we started on a task that we've been meaning to do for a while -- tidy the loft. Over the space of twelve years in this house, we've put things up there without thinking too hard (we may need them again at some point in the future, you never know...) and so the space has been getting fuller and fuller.

We did a first pass and removed quite a few things -- old baby clothes, cardboard boxes, broken lamps and lampshades, old rugs that had seen better days. But the funniest thing was that we brought down seven (yes, seven!) child car seats. These were for various ages -- full baby seat, toddler seats, booster cushions -- and were used in our two cars for our two children, but it still seemed like a ridiculous number. And, what's more, it's not the total number that we owned -- we got rid of one or two a few years ago!

Things are definitely looking clearer in the loft, but we still haven't finished the job -- we'll do a second pass next weekend. Hopefully we won't find any more car seats lurking up there, though!