Reads to Discover

We’ve had a really busy Summer catching up with family and friends. We firstly spent some time in Devon and Dorset. Catching up with Family and seeing the wonderful graduate show at Arts University Bournemouth where my brother in law David displayed his excellent architectural and interactive model of Docklands. We thought that this would be a great model for display for a museum such as the Museum of London. David also showed us around the campus and this is a really nice university as it offers creative courses only (right up our street of course) and so valuable today. We saw lots of the modelling exhibits, photography, make up including prosthetics, illustration, animations, graphic design, costume and textile design. We put up some of the photos of these on our Instagram feed. Which you can access here

Later on we visited Poole to go to the first and original Lush shop Also we had a lovely dinner at Pizza Express. It poured with rain though so we couldn’t wander around much as we forgot an umbrella! We did however park in an interesting car park that named each level from a list of bizarre animals. We were on level C which was Camel parking!

We also paid a visit to Lyme Regis and bought a few fossils. It was absolutely baking the day we went and I caught a bit of heatstroke so we didn’t actually go fossil hunting like we had intended but maybe next time. We also bought some flour from their working watermill to make some bread with. We had a tour of this last time we went to Lyme and it was really interesting, would recommend it if you are in that part of the country.

In Lyme we visited blank”>Cafe Aroma for lunch which is excellent and has loads of Veggie and Gluten free options. If you are intending to visit this area (and are interested in fossils) then read Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. This is an excellent book that explores the life of Mary Anning and the early history of fossil hunting. Before I read this, I knew next to nothing about Mary Anning but was really enthused to learn more about her life after reading this book and think it is especially great that she was one of the pioneers of fossil and dinosaur discovery, as she found the first complete specimens of Plesiosaur and Ichthyosaur and a rare Pterosaur! I have loved dinosaurs since a child visiting the Natural History Museum and have a few as ornaments in the house!

Whilst on holiday I was able to catch up on my holiday reading stack. I have a varied Summer reading list to say the least of it! I first read Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase which seemed appropriate as it was set in Cornwall! I also read The Stepmother: A gripping psychological thriller with a killer twist which is a great read  and subverts stories such as Snow White, Bluebeard and Rebecca.

Before my holiday I read Claire McGowan’s Paula MacGuire detective books start with The Lost (Paula Maguire 1) (Paula Mcguire 1) McGowan’s books are set in a (post Friday Agreement) Northern Ireland border town. This was a part of history that I didn’t know an awful lot about but do remember as a child living under terrorism but not at all to the extent that people in Northern Ireland did. I visited Manchester in 1997, (a year after the Arndale Centre bomb) and remember a vast section of the Arndale centre being boarded up inside. McGowan has created one of the most realistic and interesting female characters in crime fiction. I learnt more about the troubles from her books than I have before and she also effectively explores the enduring emotional impact that all of the long complicated history of incidents, politics and religion has on its’ population.

Back at home I read the captivating Nelly Dean by Alison Case. This is a reworking of Wuthering Heights from the point of view of the original narrator housekeeper, Nelly Dean. She narrates this tale once again to Mr Lockwood but from her own point of view of her life. This makes an interesting revisionist assessment of Hindley especially as he is painted as an outright villain in the original. Heathcliff and Cathy are seen in a different light, Cathy especially as a manipulative tease and a selfish and spoiled brat essentially and Heathcliff as a sap blinded by his love and devotion for her. Of course this goes against the normal understanding of the text but is interesting it develops fully the character of Nelly from just a simple servant in the original to a fully formed woman. Nelly has a complicated history and relationship with the Earnshaws and a juicy secret is revealed at the end to further complicate this complex reinterpretation of a classic text.

I have also been reading Benjamin Markovits You Don’t Have To Live Like This which is a story about Robert Jones a flailing academic who is brought in by an old university friend Robert Jones (a Wall street guy) to help regenerate Detroit and make it an attractive place for investors to buy into. This is an epic novel examining the historical and current web of relationships between the characters but also the extreme complexity of urban regeneration when it is handled largely by people from outside the area coming in and making sweeping changes without real knowledge of the communities that they are working with.

I am currently reading a few excellent books that are due out in September that I can’t wait to update you on! Plus, I am also currently reading a number of ARCs that are to be published later on in the year so I will report on these when I am allowed to!  Hopefully you’ve had a fun Summer too and enjoyed yourself whether you had micro-adventures near home or went away.


Summer Adventures Macro and Micro!

This summer I’ve been up to quite a lot and I’d like to share my journeys and discoveries with you! In July I went to Weymouth in Dorset which is a seaside town (it was brilliant). We went to the beach and we saw a lot of stones and rocks and shells, which we’d never seen before! We also swam in the sea which (after it had heated up), was very warm! My first trip was very sunny and warm and getting ice-cream was a daily routine.

One of my other trips was to see my aunt and uncle in Yorkshire. I had a lot of fun relaxing and going to the peaceful town but one of my most exciting trips was to Bronte Parsonage to see the Bronte sisters’ house where they wrote their famous novels! It was beautiful and just down the road was a small village where there was a lot of shops and they were all vintage and inside and some Rose & Co were like they would’ve been when they lived there!

I also had fun visiting Leeds and going to the Leeds Corn Exchange which is a beautiful building and has lots of interesting shops that sell unusual gifts!

We also watched a couple of films in Yorkshire: Back to The Future Trilogy [DVD] [1985] and Groundhog Day (Collector’s Edition) [DVD] [2002] Groundhog Day was my favourite I thought it was really funny and my favourite part was when comedy character Ned Ryerson says “Watch out for that step, it’s a doooozy!”

I hope you enjoyed my post this month and hope nobody got sunburnt on their trips away?

Two great places to discover!

This month I will be discussing another couple of interesting, cultural places in Portugal: the town of Miranda do Corvo and Juromenha Castle.

Miranda do Corvo

Miranda do Corvo, or Miranda for short is a historic town located in central Portugal. The town has some modern developments, yet it still keeps much of its history. The town hall and square have a distinctly old Portuguese colonial style, which really reminded me of old buildings in south america which have taken their style from Portugal and Spain. One of the highlights of the town was seeing a statue of Jesus that had a likeness to the Cristo Redento (Christ the Redeemer) statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil which is famous the world over. The statue seems to be scaled down from the Brazilian one, yet it still can be seen overlooking the town and shows the influences which art deco style has had on both sides of the Atlantic. Walking up to the statue is interesting as there are many tiles in the wall that tell the story of Jesus, showing the biblical story as you walk up. The statue itself is located near a church and cemetery which still is in use to this day, highlighting the importance of these traditions to the people of Miranda. Another highlight is the yearly carnival that takes place in which the people celebrate the history of the town. I was lucky enough to be there when it was on and is quite a spectacle to see!

Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Cristo Redentor, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Jesus Statue, Miranda do Corvo
Jesus Statue, Miranda do Corvo, Portugal

Jourmenha Castle

Jourmenha Castle is situated next to the Guadiana River, which borders Spain. The site has a very rich history that spans almost two thousand years. The original walls are Roman in origin, showing how the Romans influenced this area. The castle was of key strategic importance as it overlooks Spain and the town of Jourmenha itself. The town was for a long time inhabited by the moors, these being the muslim settlers who came originally from north Africa. This was then taken over by the Portuguese in 1167 then in 1191 the moors took the town back until Portugal re took the town in 1242 with who it has remained with ever since. The castle was rebuilt with the latest defensive design in the 17th Century. By the 20th Century the castle was considered of historical significance and had great restoration work between 1950 and 1996. The site is a great place to visit and is especially interesting to see where different cultures influenced the site so is well worth a look if you are nearby!

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Approach to Jourmenha Castle

‘Gardens’ as a Voyage into Nature

Sometimes the natural world can give gardening a run for it’s money. From lakes to woods and even fields of wild flowers all can be man made and yet all can be found in nature.

An unusual but very special place that springs to mind are the fields over the Guadiana River across from Juromenha Castle.

Juromenha Castle

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The Entrance to Juromenha

Juromenha Castle in Juromenha (South Eastern Portugal) is an old abandoned castle that overlooks the Guadiana River and the border with Spain. The castle itself is impressive with large imposing walls and an iconic bell tower. However it’s the views across the river that steals the show.

Over the river the farm fields of Spain make for a breath taking sight with golden fields and rolling hills. It is perhaps a fine example of the imitation of nature albeit accidental that for centuries gardeners and garden designers have fervently pursued.

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View across the Guadiana River

The location is rather quiet and considered part of the rural tourism of Portugal. As the site is rich in history and has stunning views it is well worth a visit if you are travelling in and around the area.

Discovery Island!

Journey to the Isle of Wight

Grace IOW beach photo 1

As our current theme is ‘Journeys and Discoveries’ I thought I’d talk about my school residential trip to the Isle of Wight. We spent five days here and packed a lot in! By the time we had finished we had walked the equivalent of a half marathon over the entire week!

Firstly I’d like to talk about what we did that I enjoyed the most. I particularly enjoyed when we went to Dinosaur Isle and discovered new fossils! I also loved it when we went to the museum and learnt about all the different dinosaurs and how their bones are identified.

Grace IOW dinosaur skull

We were lucky enough to also make a lot of visits to the beach. I enjoyed all the beach visits as the weather was always lovely. We even learnt how to surf and body-board!

We also went to the theatre to do a theatre workshop and to watch a production called ‘Fangtastic.’

As well as completing all of the activities above we also managed to pack in a visit to Shanklin Chine, Robin Hill Country Park and HMS Victory in Portsmouth.

My whole trip was amazing and I learnt a lot of new things that I didn’t know before. I would like to go back there one day.