A week in verbs (2)

This is one of those weeks where I’m not really sure where I’ve spent my time. So for my week in verbs I:

  • gardened. This was mostly of the sorting out garden rubbish variety, but it was nice to enjoy some evening sunshine and spend some time with the plants.
  • continued the gardening theme and went to the cinema to see A Little Chaos, about landscape gardening in 17th century France. Certainly not the best film, nevertheless I rather enjoyed it and the costumes were fabulous. Disappointingly little actual gardening though, especially from the official film  of National Gardening Week (yes really).
  • read Swimming Home by Deborah Levy. It took me a while to get into (and it isn’t a long book), but does contain some beautiful prose. I haven’t been able to decide on a next book though.
  • watched Hinterland. I’d heard that a new episode had been shown in Wales over Easter and so was pleased to discover it as availble more widely on iPlayer. I don’t think I can think of another series where the scenery is so breathtaking but unremittingly bleak; almost everything is in a (picturesque) state of decay.  Watch it before it goes away!
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Review: The Hard Problem by Tom Stoppard (NT Live)

By the time I found out that there was a new Stoppard play at the National Theatre it was about to open and the run was already sold out (not really surprising given it was also staged in the smallest NT auditorium). so when I saw that it was being live streamed and was on at my local cinema, it was too good an opportunity to pass up.

The play itself
The play centres around Hilary, a theistic (I assume Christian) psychologist interested in the eponymous Hard Problem of explaining human consciousness. We first see her as an undergraduate and follow her life through the prism of her career over a decade or so. Although the themes are undeniably interesting, overall I was left troubled by its depiction of research methods (I know, I should leave my work at home!). Some of this is entirely attributable to the requirements of staging a play, so while it jarred at the time I can let it go. There were other areas though where what was presented barely scratched the surface. They may not be black and white, but I felt their handling produced a shade of grey that is at odds with accepted scientific conduct. This isn’t to say that this wasn’t a realistic portrayal of actual practice, more that from the evidence in the play only you would have no way of knowing one way or the other.

The experience
I wasn’t sure what it would be like to see a play on the big screen, but it was much better than I expected; in fact I found myself thinking this play would work well as a TV drama (but would I have thought that if I’d seen the play at the theatre, or was this a consequence of seeing a filmed version?). I think the intimacy of the production and the size of the cast was a factor here – as the action was quite focussed, it suited focused camera-work. But credit to the filming director, who I think did an excellent job.

Random thoughts

  • It is weird not to clap at the end of a play.
  • Rufus Sewell (who was not in the cast but was in an introductory film) is very easy on the eye.
  • I should listen to Bach more often.

Overall verdict
I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to see this, and particularly with the original cast in the original staging, but my overriding impression is one of unease. Still, it is good to be made to think.

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Inspired by Lucy in the Clouds, here’s my week in verbs. I have:

  • painted my toenails in preparation for going swimming.
  • been swimming to try out my new swimsuit.
  • planted some primroses in my garden.
  • watched The Hard Problem, the latest Tom Stoppard play, in my local cinema.
  • read a book (this is more exciting than it sounds, as my reading mojo has been missing of late): Things I Don’t Want to Know by Deborah Levy. I now want to follow it up by reading Why I Write by George Orwell (to which is is apparently a response) and Swimming Home (also by Deborah Levy, though a novel rather than an autobiographical essay). I own both, but neither were on the train with me and Miss Ranskill Comes Home (Barbara Euphan Todd) was, so I read that.
  • walked on the beach to listen to the waves and in the woods to look at the bluebells.

It feels like quite a productive week.

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End of November review

I think it’s reasonably safe to say that blogging every day in November has been a big fail.

On the other hand, I did manage to finish the crocheted coast blanket (final ends sewn in this afternoon) and the the BSJ (ends sewn in and buttons sewn on this morning). I even managed to make a baby hat in the same yarn to match the jacket (I just hope it’s actually a baby-sized hat – it looks quite large). So I’m calling that a success.  (I’ll try to post some photos, but first I need to take them, and the light is not the best to show them off.)

Over the past month, it’s become apparent that I like the idea of blogging but I don’t make the time actually to do it, so when it comes to choosing how I spend my time it’s clearly not something I prioritise.  On the other hand, it has spurred me to do things I might not have done otherwise, so I’d have something to blog about (even if I ended up not bloggin about it). And to be frank, the knitting on the BSJ would have been done but it probably would still be in a button-less state.  That theory hasn’t always worked as well as I’d have liked though (there were a few knitting projects that have been languishing in an unfinished state for a while that I’d hoped I’d get done so I could post the finished items. Sadly it seems that I really do hate sewing things up.

And despite the general lack of blog posts, I don’t think that the end of November will be the end of the blog. But I won’t be making any promises for when I’ll be blogging next!

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Not giving up

So much for blogging every day in November…

While I have not been blogging, I have been quite busy doing other things. I managed to follow up my gym session with another, and another, and actually managed three trips a week for the past two weeks. And while I went back to the beginning of couch to 5k for the third time, it’s definitely easier this time and I’m actually almost enjoying running on a treadmill (lighter spectacles makes such a big difference!) For the moment I’m enjoying going back to old  gym/running mixes, but I think I’m going to find some new music to help keep the motivation going. Any suggestions for good music to exercise to?

I also managed a trip to London, where I squeezed in a trip the Natural History Museum (probably my favourite building) and the dinosaurs (but my goodness, SOOOOO busy. I did manage to say hello to the Sequoia though), the Tate Britain for the Turner Prize exhbition (polite verdict: if I’d had to pay entry – I have Tate membership – I would have felt ripped off), and the National Gallery for the Late Rembrandt exhibition (which was MUCH better) and a rather lovely afternoon tea, with scones, cream and homemade jam. The Rembrandts were much lighter and brighter than I’d expected, by the lack of greens and blues is notable. I can’t help but wonder how different they  looked when they were new.

I’ve also made good progress on my knitting and crocheting projects. In fact, thanks to the train journey to and from London, the BSJ is done barring a couple of ends to sew in and buttons to sew on; I even have the buttons:

Cute little buttons

Cute little buttons. And some sock yarn, because it was only £1 a ball

I only need 5 buttons, so I’ve got to select which combination works best. The blanket is also nearly done, I just need to doing some neatening up of the edge try to stop the border from curling.

Hopefully I’ll find a better balance between doing things that I can blog about and blogging about them over the coming week.

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Work in progress Wedn… um Thursday

Yesterday evening didn’t quite work out as I’d planned so sorry that this post is a day later than intended.

Anyway, moving on, what is this heap of soft, grey loveliness?

Firth o' Forth knitting in progress

Lovely soft grey lace knitting in alpaca/merino yarn

It’s my in-progress knit, Firth o’ Forth by Kate Davies, a long-line, loose-fitting cardigan with a lace pattern inspired by oysters. It’s knitted in an absolutely lovely yarn, Great British Yarns Yomper Laceweight, a 70% merino, 30% alpaca blend that’s just delightfully soft and very enjoyable to knit with (though winding the three skeins into balls wasn’t quite so fun). I started it in the summer and it made a great holiday travel knit, lots of knitting for not much volume or weight, and I have knitted a lot of the body. However, I hit a bit of a snag when it came to dividing for the armholes when I couldn’t get the stitch counts to add up, but I’ve decided how to proceed. Unfortunately I’ve somewhat lost my momentum and other projects have moved in to fill the void. I do really want to be able to wear it this winter though, which means that I need to get back to work on it before I forget what I’m doing!

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Off the couch

I decided to go to the gym today. It’s been along enough that I’m not sure how long it has been, but I haven’t been for months. Anyway, enough was enough and I found myself actually looking forward to it. I knew I needed to ease myself in, and thought a gentle start would be to go back to the beginning of Couch to 5k (where the aim is to go from couch potato to running 5km over 9 weeks; I downloaded the NHS podcasts, which are free). It feels like I’m back to square one, but at least I’m back…

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