Old tune

30 November, 2011

My mother used to sing this tune for me when I was tiny. I like this recording.

Jane Eyre film – Dreadful! :(

22 November, 2011

I watched the new adaptation of Jane Eyre this afternoon: directed by Cary Fukunaga and starring Mia Wasikowska as Jane, and Michael Fassbender as Rochester.

Jane Eyre has long shared top honours in my list of all-time favourite books, but I’ve seen and heard the beginnings of so many disappointing audio and video adaptations over the course of the 36 years since I first read it that I don’t normally even dip into them any more. I thought I’d give this one a try, though, because Andrew Davies did such a fantastic job with Pride & Prejudice (the Colin Firth version) that I know these things can be done well, and it would be such a thrill to see my fave book brought magically to life on the screen.

Anyway, and IMO… it’s absolutely DREADFUL! I don’t know what sort of reviews it’s had–I’ll have a look when I’ve written this–but I found it entirely devoid of even the slightest spark of passion. The music was gloomy and downbeat and positively depressing, and the whole thing sounded more like a recitation spoken in grey monotone than an attempt on the part of any of the actors to inhabit the characters drawn so vividly by Charlotte Bronte.

Most of the important plot events were present, but it felt to me as though they’d simply been strung together by somebody ticking off a list, without any attempt to develop the characters, illustrate their thoughts and feelings or–ultimately–to show how or why Jane and Rochester fell in love. Love develops gradually, on a foundation of shared experiences. It doesn’t spring up in a vacuum! This, on the other hand, felt like a sprint from first meeting to proposal, closely followed by dashed hopes and, finally, reconciliation–Phew!!!–and all the while the characters slouched around with grim expressions looking as though they’d not experienced a moment of happiness in their lives.

Had I not read the book I’d have had not one iota of interest in or sympathy for the characters, and I’d certainly have been left wondering why on earth people have loved this story since it was first published more than 150 years ago.

Can it really be impossible to bring Jane Eyre properly to life on the screen? I live in hope that Andrew Davies might still take a stab at it, but time seems to be ticking away 😦

Settling in

17 November, 2011

Butter and bread-warming alcove

Back in the day, my wee cottage would have had what today I’d regard as an uber-sophisticated oveny/firey thing in the sitting room. Sometime in the last 100 years or so they were regarded as old and difficult and awkward to clean, and so it’s been removed. Sigh…

Still, today I’ve begun to take steps to make the best that I can out of what currently exists in the chimney breast, which is a cute little wood and coal burning stove with a stone fireplace. I’ve been making bread for a few weeks, but the house has been so cold that the dough has been taking many hours to rise. I know a slow rise produces a better taste but hey… I’m impatient!

Today I lit the stove for the first time myself, and I was so delighted with the results that I’ve ordered a coal bunker and 5 bags of coal, and they’re due to be delivered tomorrow. Today I’ve been using logs. In the meantime I’ve made a little platform for the bowl in which I let my dough rise and the pan in which the loaves prove, and (now that the loaves are in the oven) it occurred to me that this might be a perfect place to keep my butter dish, since attempting to spread the butter on my bread has been more than a challenge, chilled, as it’s been, to near freezing point.

Scrummy loaf!

Interesting Addendum

16 November, 2011

I nipped over to the pub this evening, and stopped for a chat with a couple who have a whippet/lurcher that Piglet sometimes talks to.

I told them of our interesting experience a few nights ago at the passage, and they told me that sometimes Lucy, their dog, refuses to enter the passage at night…

*cue spooky music*

The plot thickens! 🙂

Ooooh! Strange, and rather creepy…

13 November, 2011

Anyone who’s read my blog or website for a while has probably noticed that I’m fascinated by ghosties and ghoulies and all things supernatural. I’ve never knowingly seen a ghost but I believe they exist, and I believe that animals are sensitive to them. When I moved to this old cottage a few months ago I took great comfort in the fact that neither Piglet nor Puss-Puss showed any sign of nervousness, and the three of us have slept happily together in the dark attic ever since.

Over the years I’ve done a fair bit of walking alone in darkness in isolated places, when I’ve been keeping to a schedule and have had to reach Place X by the end of the day in order to be able to complete a walk by a particular date. I’ve learned to just take a deep breath, remain calm and press on. It occurred to me not long after acquiring Piglet, though, that on such occasions she might be able to function as a sort of mobile ghost (or nutter) detector. It was a comforting thought, and I’ve had an interesting time over the last three years walking her through graveyards and spooky-looking places, wondering whether she might stop and bark at something that I was unable to see. She’s never done anything of the sort, though, until earlier this evening…

In our village there’s a little walk that Piglet and I sometimes take if we want a short stroll before we get into our pyjamas. Approached from this side it takes us up a short hill, and then along a dark, ancient passage. The ground to the left of the passage drops to the river, and to the right is sparsely wooded hillside. Both sides are bounded by a mixture of old railings and stone walls. At the other end of the passage–a distance of no more than a couple of hundred yards–is a bridge, and after crossing the bridge we generally turn left and descend along a narrow, winding road past a couple of cottages and some allotments to the village, and make our way back home. The whole thing takes no more than 10 minutes, or possibly 15 if Piglet finds a lot of interesting things to sniff at in the undergrowth. I’m told that in the distant past villagers used the passage as a short-cut to the mill at which many of them worked.

This evening Piglet and I made our way as usual through the village, and climbed the little hill. We arrived at the passage and I entered it, passing an old bollard which blocks entry to any person daft enough to try to take a car up there. I was listening to an audiobook, and so I wasn’t aware that Piglet wasn’t following until a tug on her extending lead alerted me to the fact that she’d stopped moving. I imagined she’d just stopped to sniff at something, but when I turned round I saw that she was standing next to the wall at the entrance to the passage looking over at me. I pulled, but she braced her legs against the ground and refused to move forward. I was very surprised, as I’d been out all afternoon with friends and I’d expected Piglet to be desperate for a walk. I pulled a little harder, but Piglet refused to be budged. As far as I could see there was nothing there that could have spooked her. I was wearing a head torch, because the ground along the passage is quite uneven and can be hazardous in the dark. I switched the torch on and peered into the gloom, but there was nothing to be seen.

I didn’t want to drag Piglet along, and so I turned round and we went back down the hill. Piglet was immediately happy again, and dashed along ahead of me. I was very curious about what had caused her to stop, though, and so I decided that we’d approach the passage from the other direction in order to see what would happen. We walked through the village, turned right after the bottom bridge and began to make our way up the road that leads to the upper bridge and the passage. Piglet was still rushing on ahead, but by then I was a little spooked myself. It wasn’t late, but it was very dark. I switched the torch on again but it made virtually no impression on the inky blackness. Everywhere seemed much quieter than usual, and as we grew closer to the bridge I felt my cunning plan grow less appealing by the second. Eventually I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and wimped out. Piglet and I turned round again, and set off for home.

A few minutes later we once again passed the road that leads up the little hill to the start of the passage, and I decided to try it again. There are street lights in that part of the village, and so I wasn’t as frightened as I had been when passing the dark and shadowy allotments a few minutes earlier. Once again Piglet trotted happily up the hill behind me, but again she stopped as she approached the bollard and refused to go any further, despite a couple of tugs on her lead. I gave up at that point, and we went home.

I’d love to know why it was that Piglet refused to enter the passage this evening. I realise there may well have been an entirely rational explanation, but I’m hard-pressed to see what it might have been. We’ve walked that passage by day and by night, both alone and accompanied by friends, and Piglet has never shown even the slightest hesitation. In fact, she’s never shown any hesitation anywhere, ever, until this evening. Could some animal have left a scent that disturbed her? Possibly, but if she’s capable of being disturbed by animal scents then it seems odd that it’s never happened before: she’s out and about in the woods and fields every day. I dunno…

I do know, though, that an elderly woman who lives in the village told me that she regularly walked her dog through the churchyard, until her husband died. Her husband was buried in the churchyard, and from that date onwards the dog adamantly refused to go in. Piglet and I walked through the churchyard on our way through the village this evening, and all Piglet was interested in there was the possibility of rabbits.

Spookeeee… 🙂

Spelling Bee Intervieweee

9 November, 2011