Friday, 29 June 2012

Air-crash model

Following on from the war weekend we attended on Sunday, I visited my friend (who's husband organised the event) and she showed me a project that her son had created for school which was inspired by the air-crash in the field in Hunsworth during the war.  It was so impressive, I thought I would share it with you all here:

This fabulous model was made by Liam Wright, age 13.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Dark Winter by David Mark

Just finished this excellent book having bought a signed copy at the Author Event in York arranged as part of the Theakstons Crime on Tour, where I met David Mark (along with Stephen Dunne and Peter Robinson - their books are to follow).

It was so refreshing to read about a detective who did not have huge problems in his personal life (be it drink or divorce) but still had a complex personality and back story.  I was pleased that he is more believable because he loves his wife and wants to catch the bad guy (whilst aiming to stay the good guy).  The premise was excellent - a serial killer in Hull who is picking off sole survivors of tragedies - and did not disappoint, especially when we got to really get inside the killers motivation.  I loved the writing style and the fact that it was set in Hull (and around Grimsby, Yorkshire etc.) - having been there, it's not hard to imagine this - which is all the more enjoyable for a Yorkshire lass.  I had guessed who the killer was, but I think this says more about me (and my addiction to serial killers in books, tv, film - but not real life, you will be relieved to hear, unless you count my own serial killer novel in progress that is - I think I just know when and how to look for the peripheral character) than a fault in the plotting.  I really love the character of Aector McAvoy and look forward to reading David's next novel.  David is on twitter should you wish to check him out @davidmarkwriter

Moving on to Stephen's novel next, will keep you posted.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Cleckheaton Writers Group challenge

Neil set a writing challenge for the writers group at the last meeting and here is my story:


It had been his seat for years and no-one was going to take it from him.  He’d sat in its comforting softness for over two-thirds of his life and Alan considered that fact made it his.  He had forgotten the times he’d had to tell some young upstart that they couldn’t sit there,

“The place is almost empty,” they’d whine and he had his usual answer ready and waiting, trembling on his whiskered lips,

“Then you won’t have any trouble finding another one then, will you?” he’d say, swallowing the smile as he watched them trudge over to another seat. 

This was his sanctuary, his one constant in a world that had changed beyond anything he remembered and he would fight with all that he had to keep things here the same.

“Brewery wants to close some of its establishments,” Ian had told him over his second pint, “build some kind of new-fangled wine bar or hairdressers or something.”

“Like this town needs more hairdressers or beauticians,” Alan had sympathised and he had meant it.  He didn’t hold with this obsession with looks.  If people spent more time concentrating on working, then the country wouldn’t be in the state it was in today.

“You won’t let them will you though?” he asked, trying not to let his feelings colour his voice,

“No, I’m going to the meeting though, going to give them a piece of my mind,” he’d muttered whilst wiping a pint mug clean with his cloth, “numbers might be down, but we’re not out.”  Alan hoped he meant it; he wasn’t convinced that Ian didn’t suffer from all mouth and no trousers. 

“I could come with you Ian, show them that this is a cornerstone of our community,” he’d suggested, wanting to be sure that the right thing was said at the meeting, but he’d had none of it.

“Don’t worry mate, it’s only talk, nothings decided yet.”

And he hadn’t worried, until he had seen the lad with his tape measure.  Well, he said lad, but he was built more like a strong oak and was nearly as tall and when he’d told him to work around him (he wasn’t moving, it was his seat and if the lad wanted to measure, he could find a way to do it without disturbing his pint) at least he’d had the decency to do so without too much fuss.  But when he’d asked Ian what they were measuring for, he had mumbled something about ‘interior design’ and disappeared off to do the barrels, even though Alan knew the delivery wasn’t due for another hour, so he’d watched and waited.  He ruminated as he watched the lad move around the room, measuring and taking notes.  He knew that he was one of the very few regulars during the day and that numbers had dwindled on an evening too, but that’s because some of them had stopped coming when Ian had decided that the turns weren’t up to scratch.  He’d been right too, none of them were proper singers and some of them lasses, well, their outfits were indecent and anyway THAT wasn’t entertainment.  He’d downed his pint and, taking his monogrammed glass with him, followed them.  They’d gone to the office and knowing that it was unoccupied (he knew the cleaner didn’t come until 5) he had slipped into the ladies, knowing he would be able to hear every word.

“Can’t believe it’s the last time I’ll be locking up,” he’d heard Ian tell the lad and Alan had felt a heavy weight settle on his chest, but he wasn’t having that though, if Ian thought it was going to be that easy he would be mistaken.

“Got any plans for your retirement?” that must have been the lad and suddenly Alan had felt better, he known what he could do, he could stage a sit-in.  They couldn’t shut a pub if it had still got an occupant.

“Thought I might go to visit my sister in Spain and then see what comes,” Ian had stated with some finality.

“How you going to break it to that chap then?”

Alan knew that he’d meant him, but he wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of allowing him to tell him.  He didn’t deserve it, but he was going to thank him when he single-handedly saved his pub.

He’d watched as they’d exited the office and went back to the lounge.  Ian had smiled as he’d seen the empty table, relieved that he hadn’t had to face him, but the lad had had him check the loos before locking up.

“Yeah, I guess he could be in there,” and Alan had watched as he’d trudged dejectedly to the gents, only to see his face wreath with smiles when it became apparent that it was unoccupied.  He’d watched as they’d left, secure in the knowledge that he had nothing to go home to and that there was a spare set of keys hanging in the galley kitchen that he could use if he had to.

He’d pulled page after page of paper from the files in the office and then sat in his seat coming up with plan after plan, waiting patiently for them to come back, so that he could put them into action. 

He wasn’t sure how long it had been, but he heard the keys move in the locks and watched as the lad came in with two decorators in tow.  It was the same lad, tall as ever, but this time he had a tie on and it aged him somehow.  It surprised him that he must be a boss man; he hadn’t seemed like it at their first meeting. 

Alan sat calmly in his seat and waited for them to ask him to move.  They would have to paint around him if they thought they could change his pub with him in it.  They must have been working to a tight schedule, because none of them even looked at him, let alone spoke to him as they moved around the room putting down their equipment then looking and listening to the lad explain the drawing in his hand.

“I think we should start with the smaller rooms guys,” the lad told them and one of the decorators disappeared out of the room.  Before too long he came barrelling back into the room,

“Er boss, I think you ought to come and look at this,” he looked pale and seemed to be trembling; Alan smiled, maybe they had seen what he had done to the office?  His plan was going to work without him even having to raise his voice. 

But they weren’t headed towards the office; they veered left and entered the ladies loos.

“Oh my God,” he heard the lad exclaim and Alan’s curiosity was now too much for him, he hadn’t done anything to the ladies loos.  He came in just as the second decorator threw up into the sink and watched confused as the lad begin to dial his tiny little phone. 

“Police I think, er no, not an ambulance, I think he is way past that.” 

Alan peered around the statuesque figure of the lad to look down between the first cubicle and the wall where something was lodged.  It was hard to tell what it was, but he thought he could just about make out clothing and something glinting in the blurry ray of sunlight from the tiny window.  It was a monogrammed pint glass.

 The challenge was this: A local man, in his local pub, but he's been dead for two weeks, why?

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Help the Heroes War Reenactment weekend

We attended the War Weekend today despite the inclement weather.  Unfortunately due to the aforementioned weather, over half of the vehicles were not in attendance, but those that were, really had a true-to-life reenactment.  There was so much rain and mud that the trenches they had dug, so that attendees could 'go over the top' like in the Somme, were probably as realistic as it was possible to get them.  My lad was very pleased to attend, as he just got back from his school trip to Dordogne in time to have a look before the event closed.  I really hope that this event runs again and that this time the weather is on our side.

Yesterday evening we went to our good friends Jeff and Lisa's for a meal and once again, Lisa made a fantastic trio of dishes.  We started with spicy turkish lamb parcels, followed by lemon chicken and the most amazing papaya, mango and passion fruit pavlova, delicious.  I have been so lucky with my evening meals this weekend, that my home-made chicken makhani curry wasn't quite in the same league :)

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Yorkshire Life July 2012 edition

Well, the article on the Cleckheaton Writers Group is in the Yorkshire Life that's on sale now.  We are mentioned on page 130, but the article starts on page 128 (thought I'd let you know this so you know where to find it when you buy a copy:).

My husband and I went to The White Hart at Pool-in-Wharfedale last night for our wedding anniversary (19 years if you can believe that) and we had the most delicious meal.  I had crayfish tail salad with mango, avacado and pomegranate and he had whitebait to start.  I had the most delicious dish I have ever had for my main course - scallops with butternut squash puree and black pudding - it was absolutely amazing and looked like a work of art on a plate.  He had Seabass with a crayfish and crab risotto and then we both had summer fruits and bilberry eton mess for dessert.  To accompany this, we had a yummy bottle of Paco and Lola white wine, which was on offer at half price because we had picked from the specials menu (this is a Friday night offer, other offers are available for Wednesdays and Thursdays) - so good, we took a picture of the label so we can buy it again.  If you are ever near Pool-in-Wharfedale and are feeling peckish, you won't be disappointed if you eat there, trust me.  In fact, make a special journey just to do so.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Women in literature

I was appalled to read in Writing Magazine today (July edition) that when Charlotte Bronte wrote to British poet Robert Southey, asking for his thoughts on whether she could be a successful writer, he replied:

'Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be.  The more she is engaged in her proper duties, the less leisure she will have for it, even as an accomplishment and recreation.  To those duties you have not yet been called, and when you are, you will be less eager for celebrity.'
(From Jon Winokur's Advice to Writers, 1999)

Thank goodness times have moved on and, may I say, who is more remembered for their writing?  I bet that if he could see things now, he would wish that he could be an nth as much of a 'celebrity' as she is.  Her writing has influenced writers for many a year and long may it continue.  She may have been ahead of her time, but I think it can safely be said, that he was not.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Let me in review

Hired the blu-ray Let Me In this weekend and it was fantastic.  Chloe Grace Moretz (Hit girl in Kick Ass) was as excellent in this movie as she was in Kick Ass and she put more meaning into one of her silences than some actresses put into their monologues.  Kodi Smit-McPhee was eerie in his role as a bullied school-boy from a broken home who befriends the nice new girl to the neighbourhood.  It is hard to decide who is weirder of the two, but when he discovers that she is anything but the girl nextdoor, things start to really get interesting.  It really did 'redefine horror' (as it boasts on the cover) and although I have had the original Swedish film (that Hollywood remade into this blockbuster) Let The Right One In recommended more highly than this version, I thoroughly enjoyed it - not to mention that it was good to get a vampire who wasn't smouldering.  5 out of 5.

Because this put me in the supernatural vibe, I thought I would share an extract of my science fiction tale 'Children of Abraham.'

The tracking device was still active.  The light flickering gave Blake the reason he needed to keep going.  Until now he had been convinced that it was over, but the device had been set to trigger once he had left the building and even if he was dead, it would have to mean that someone was moving the body.  If they were moving the body to the morgue, why were they moving it at night?

He got dressed silently.  The black polo-neck and jeans perfect for the job in hand.  As he slipped out of the room, he exhaled a relieved breath that he had managed the job without waking Frankie.  It was over a week since she had slept properly and he knew that she would probably give him Hell for not waking her.  It was a task he must see through alone.  It wasn’t that he was detached from the situation, just that his mind was trained to deal with the facts.  Frankie could only deal with emotion.  He had to ensure that no distractions could stop him.  He needed to locate the device.  Once he did that, the answers would follow.  He stopped briefly to pick up his keys but walking to the car whilst putting on his coat was automatic.  The only thing his mind was working on fully was finding the truth.  As the car pulled away from the kerb, he was already keying in the numbers.  The computer screen engaged.  He knew which direction to go.  The pale light from the moon filtered through the windows and gave the screen a bluish glow.  A strange thought occurred to him.  The eerie glow reminded him of Dr Abraham’s eyes. 

He shook the thought from his head and headed out of town.  He was almost upon the woods when he realised where he was.  The backwater held a lot of memories.  This had been the scene of one of his worse cases, the copse where all those bodies had been found.  No-one had been near the place in years, too many things that people associated with it.  It was years ago, but things like that never get forgotten.  Maybe that was why they had chosen this location, because nobody wanted to come anywhere near.

There was only one parked car in the spaces provided.  It was a Bentley Continental.  Why would anyone bring a car like that?  Something wasn’t right here and Blake unconsciously reached for his gun.

The trees blocked most of the light from the moon.  It was treacherous going as he headed into the woods.  He had to go slowly so that the branches and leaves would not give him away.  He thought he imagined shapes in the shadows and noises close by.  It felt like someone knew he was here.  Should he have come alone?  It was too late now; the flickering light told him that he had almost reached his goal.

There, in a small clearing, was an abandoned house.  It looked half-derelict, but he knew that someone was in there.  Someone had moved the body, the tracker never lied. 

He flattened his body against the wall and inched towards the grimy window.  The only sound was his breath in the cold air.  As he peered into the window he caught a glimpse of dark shadows within.  Whoever it was, he was not alone. 

Blake judged the light and decided that his shadow would not project into the room.  Carefully he looked again.  There were four of them.  Four tall and thin shapes around a table with a holdall placed in the centre.  A cold thought entered into his heart, slowing the beat.  Was the tracking device in that bag?  Why would they bury the body here?  An ordinary funeral wouldn’t arouse suspicion. 

He leaned in closer trying to see what was in the bag.  That was when it happened.  A small branch snapped under his weight.  The four shadows turned towards the window.  He was held static under their gaze.  Their eyes: the glow seemed to steal right into his bones, a numbness spread over his limbs.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Friends with Kids review

My husband and I went to the preview of Friends with Kids at the Showcase cinema last night, thanks to the good folks at showfilmfirst.  Sadly, this film was exactly what I expected.  The storyline, if the meandering lack of real events could be described as that, went nowhere and it was very predictable, but not in a good way.  It must have been the vision of the writer, director and main actress, because Jennifer Westfeldt was responsible for all three and to be fair, her acting as the main character Julie, was one of the more believable performances.  Very few of the characters were likable, especially Jon Hamm as Ben and a worryingly bony-kneed Megan Fox who played MJ.  The film smacked of people who didn't have kids themeselves and who resented their friends that did.  Although it did have a few funny scenes, most felt convoluted and only a couple of them felt believable, notably the ones involving Maya Rudolph (best known for Bridesmaids) as Leslie and Chris O'Dowd (also Bridesmaids) as Alex.  Jennifer and Adam Scott (who played main male lead Jason) did their best with the script, but the whole thing did feel rather like being forced to spend time with people you don't like.  I give it 2 out of 10 for trying to be progressive, but sadly, failing.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Fast Girls film review

My hubby and I went to a preview of Fast Girls at the Xscape Cineworld last night thanks to the good folks at SeeFilmFirst.  Fast Girls is the new Brit movie starring Lenora Crichlow (best known as Annie in BBC3's excellent Being Human) who plays Shania Andrews, a 200m runner who lives in a tower block with her Auntie, who has taken her and her sister in after the death of her mother. She is training to qualify for the World Athletics Championships and beat her middle-class rival Lisa, who is following in the footsteps of her overbearing gold medal-winning father.  When Shania qualifies for team GB, she meets Tommy the coach (Noel Clarke of BBC1's epic Dr Who - who also co-wrote the screenplay) and Carl the physiotherapist (played by Bradley James, King Arthur from BBC1's Merlin) and is asked to join the relay team.  What follows is a 'Bend it like Beckham for Athletics' but you can't help but get caught up with rooting for them.  In fact, it really makes you look forward to the 2012 Olympics which, I suspect, was the aim all along.  I particularly liked the emphasis on the pusy parent living vicariously through his daughter and that Shania's family were only interested in her sport once she started to win, as this was the most believable aspect of the film.  All in all, I really enjoyed this easy-to-watch film and I give it 4 out of 5.

Tomorrow night I have preview tickets to see Friends with Kids and a review of this film will be posted soon.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Cleckheaton Writers Group meeting 11/6/12

An excellent meeting tonight.  D has finished her first draft of her childrens novel TSC which is a fantastic achievement.  She has written over 80k words and now is going to leave it alone for a while, before going back to it and editing.  I told the other members the details of the Manchester Children's Book Festival and N & D agreed that it would be great to go and see Phillip Pullman on the 5th of July.  We just need to check out train schedules to make sure we get there in plenty of time and purchase tickets.  I shared chapter six and seven of my YA fantasy Thorde with the members and it was well received.  I am really pleased that they are enjoying the first person perspective and the plotlines.  I am determined to keep going until first draft before succumbing to editing (I do have a tendency to start editing and not finishing) or starting/moving on to something else.  N set the group a challenge to write a piece for the next meeting with the remit of 'Local guy in his local pub, but he's been dead for weeks, why?'  N is thinking of going with a zombie theme, D a ghost theme and I might give vampires a go (or not as the muse takes me).  Maybe I'll even post it here in a fortnight.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Wonderful weekend of sport

What a fabulous weekend of sport we have to enjoy.  First, on Friday, we had the first two matches of the Euro 2012 tournament, yesterday we had the Womens Final of Roland Garros and the surprising matches of Denmark v Netherlands and Germany v Portugal.  Today we have two more Euro matches and the Mens Final of Roland Garros, which I am watching at the moment.  Tomorrow brings England's first match and once the Euro 2012 winners have been established, we have the excitement of Wimbledon and The Olympics.  If only we could get some improvement in the weather, this would be a fine Summer of Sport indeed.  Fingers crossed for weather like we had a couple of weekends ago and maybe, if we all send this wish out into the cosmos, it could come true.  To help in this, I thought I would post some more pictures from our weekend of Summer:

Oh no, what have I done, now it's raining for the tennis Final ;)

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Womens Tennis Final, Hebden Bridge Arts Festival & Competitions

Just finished watching the Womens Final of the Roland Garros and really enjoyed it.  I think Sharapova was always going to win, but Sara Errani did really fight.  Thank goodness she has the doubles win to console her.

I thought I would list the details of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival which is on 30 June - 8 July 2012 for anyone who wishes to attend:

Saturday 30 June at Hebden Bridge Library, 7.30pm - Gabi Hinsliff
Sunday 1 July at Hebden Bridge Library, 1pm - Kate Summerscale
Sunday 1 July at Stubbing Way, 8pm - Kate Fox's Poetry Slam
Monday 2 July at Little Theatre, 7.30pm - New Blood: five first-time novellists talk about their journey to publication
Thursday 4 July at Stubbing Way, 8pm - Penned In: true-life crime writers Erwin James and Noel 'the razor' Smith talk about writing their way out of jail
Friday 5 July at St Michael's Church Hall, Mytholmroyd, 8pm - Award winning author Jon McGregor talks about his new short story collection

For full details see

Also found these two writing competitions:

The Ether Sci-fi and Fantasy Writing iPad Contest  Deadline 14 June 2012
Sci-fi and fantasy stories of 3k words or less, see

The Short Story Competition  Deadline 15 September 2012
1-5k words short stories, submit to

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Crime on Tour event, York

I attended the Theakstons Crime on Tour event in York last night (thanks to my free pair of tickets won via twitter) and it was an excellent evening.  Bestselling author Peter Robinson introduced new authors David Moore and Steven Dunne:

David has been a journalist since the age of 17, first with his local paper, then on to the Telegraph and the Yorkshire Post.  He admitted that so much luck is involved in getting the manuscript to the right person at the right time and even though he got an agent a couple of years ago, it wasn't until they separated and he got a new agent, that the new agent got a multi-house fight for the right to publish (this, a week after he had been told that it was too 'dark' to publish).  His book 'The Dark Winter' is the first in a series and is now being sold all over the world.

Steven is a part-time teacher and 'The Reaper' was his first book.  He had no publication deal and no agent, even though the advice is to get an agent and then a publisher, so he self-published.  He loved American literature and then British crime and he had spent 4 years trying to get 'The Reaper' published before self-publishing and selling it in Waterstones in Derby and then further extended out.  He sent them to a publisher and got his first publishing deal through his novel 'The Disciple.'  He has since changed publisher and 'Diety' is his new book with his new publisher Headline.

Peter Robinson admitted that he sent his first sample chapters and outline out without giving away the ending (everyone laughed because this is a no-no), but he was asked to send the whole novel and 6 months later, he had already written the sequel.  He had to go to the publishers in Toronto in January/February and he got the offer for 2 books.  His first book was published in 1987 and now he is with Constable. 

All the authors agreed that if you don't have a success with your first 2 or 3 books, then a publisher is unlikely to take more on and that Ebooks are changing everything, as this is an opportunity for authors not published to get their work out there, but that the quality is not guaranteed to be there.

David felt that Ebooks somewhat devalue the craft when authors give away their books for £1.99, but that some have used this platform to gain a traditional publishing deal.  Peter felt that this also has drawbacks for the author, as publishers used to be happy with a book a year as the deal, but now expect 2 books a year or short stories to give away. 

The floor was opened up to questions and David was asked why he had set his novel in Hull.  He said that it felt natural to him as he had worked there when the murder rate was high and had attended endless murder trials as a journalist.  He felt that there was room within that to craft a story, as he could drop a serial killer in Hull and it would be realistic, even if it gave cause for the Tourism Board to moan!  Steven said that he had found the opposite in Derby as residents are happy that it is possible to have a serial killer in Derby for D. I. Brook to capture.

David said that he had lived in Hull for a long time, but now lived in Lincolnshire, but still had ties to Hull as his daughter goes to school there.  Steven said that he was happy that Stephen Booth was the only other writer in Derbyshire.  He explained again that 'The Reaper' had been self-published, but that he had been picked up by Harper Collins through the 'slushpile' site.  They had changed the cover, reproduced it and sold it around the world.  'Diety' is his first novel for Headline, but the 4th book in the series (all of which can be read as stand alone books), as the others are 1 and 2 of a trilogy.  There are plans for the third in the trilogy, but he's not sure when, because of the change in publisher.

When asked how they had decided on their main characters, David explained that McAvoy had started off as a minor character in another book and David had decided that all his characters were horrid and different shades of ghastly apart from this minor character, who happened to be a big scotsman, so he became the likeable protagonist.  In one night he got exactly who he was and how he would react in certain situations and now when he writes of him, he knows exactly what to do.  Steven had produced D. I. Brook by picking things up from other books and jettisoning things he didn't like.  He had a hint of the Sherlock Holmes figure as he enjoys the mystery and the chase, but no police politics.  There is also a bit of Philip Marlowe as well, in that he was the superstar detective fallen from grace and stuck in the middle of nowhere.

Asked whether they would like to see their books adapted for TV, David admitted that part of him does think that'll be great, but he sees nothing wrong with this media (i.e. reading the book), but that it does seem to be the path now for most crime fiction.  Peter enlarged the point by saying that he had written 20 Banks novels before he was approached for the TV adaptation, but that he had no control over the format or actors.  For example, he did not see Stephen Tompkinson as Banks as he is too tall for a start off, but the actor did come and talk to him about the character when Peter was in Tampa, Florida, as the actor wanted a more serious dramatic role.  Peter gets to read the scripts and make a few complaints (apparently Stephen Tompkinson had made similar ones too, so is really getting the character now) but he does ask for more costumes and more Yorkshire scenery.

David said that he thought that the best adaptation ever was The Shawshank Redemption, but now there seem to be too many writers on TV working on one script.  Peter agreed and admitted there was not a lot of money in it.  Americans don't pick from novels like the British do, e.g. he felt that Ed McBain was ripped off by shows like Hill Street Blues, but never got a penny.  David admitted that Damian Lewis (of excellent series Homeland) had been sent a copy of ''The Dark Winter.'  Peter thought it was strange that Damian Lewis was also considered for Banks, as was Rupert Graves, but that Sky wanted to do it with Ross Kemp!  Neil Pearson reads the audiobooks and Peter likes him as Banks, but agrees that although they can work with editors to help them, ultimately it is their book, but with TV you can't do that.

Then David read the prologue to 'The Dark Winter' (the best bit in his opinion!) which really captured the essence of Hull and Steven read the first three pages and explained that 'Deity' is the search for immortality or celebrity by young people.

The event came to a close as attendees could then purchase books by the authors and get them signed.  I am now the proud owner of signed copies of 'The Dark Winter', 'Diety' and 'Before the Poison.'  Should you wish to find out more aobut these authors, or things discussed in this review, please feel free to click on the links below:

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Winning Crime tickets and DVD reviews

Yesterday I received a tweet from Theakstons Crime to tell me that I had won a pair of tickets to their Crime on Tour in York tonight at 6.30pm in the Explore York Library and Learning Centre.  Peter Robinson will introduce David Mark and Steven Dunne and I am very excited at the prospect of attending.

We watched The Vow, The Rum Diary and 2012 on DVD and I thought I would share with you a potted review of each:

The Vow is a story based on true events about a happily-married couple who are involved in a car crash, resulting in the wife suffering a head trauma.  She forgets the previous few years, including meeting and marrying her husband.  Needless to say, it is a tearjerker and you really feel for the husband and begin to loather her family and ex-fiance for interferring and helping ruin her happy relationship.  I think it can safely be said that this film is firmly in the 'girlie' category, but not just for adults as my daughter and her friends saw it at the cinema and loved it.

The Rum Diary is a different prospect entirely.  I would say it is a man's movie and this even though Johnny Depp is the main character!  The storyline is so disjointed that I think the characters on screen weren't the only ones getting help from the bottle and the drugs, but again it is based on true-life events.  The only scene I can say I enjoyed was the one where they were driving the vandalised car using the back seat and his friend to reach the pedals.  I was very disappointed as having read the blurb and seeing that the film was based on the life of a writer, I thought I would enjoy it.

We watched 2012 on our new blu-ray player (yes, that's right, we finally decided to join the 21st century) and I really did notice the difference.  2012 is probably the perfect film for watching a blu-ray for the first time.  The effects on-screen of the earthquakes, tsunami-ravaged cities and lava flows were spectacular and who cares if the storyline was unbelievable - the whole world was being destroyed, yet the has-been writer, a russian mobsters' sons and a small dog manage to survive!  It felt like the longest film I have watched in a while, but it was a rollercoaster of action.  I recommend.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Beck Stanza Stone

Yesterday we decided to go for a lovely family walk at Ilkley Moor to find the Beck Stanza Stone.  We followed the map and found the stream easily enough, but the map only really gets you to the bridge over the stream and the Stanza Stone is further upstream and there is no actual path to it.  Once we had split up (there were four of us) and searched up and downstream by clambering over unsteady terrain, my husband managed to locate it.  It is indeed very evocative and perfectly placed in a turn of the beck.  The water flows around it, gently emphasising the imagery of the poem and foam builds up behind it, lending it a magical quality.  It was perfect weather for the walk as it wasn't too hot, too cold or rainy and my children really enjoyed the challenge of having to find it.  We have decided that the next occasion that we have free time and kind weather, we will work our way through finding all the rest of them.  We are so incredibly lucky to have such natural beauty within driving distance and I hope that the Stanza Stones will be there to find for many generations to come.

In order to help my followers find the Stone, I am posting some pictures of the journey:

Download a free Stanza Stone Poetry Trail Guide at and visit the six Stanza Stones for yourself

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Woman in Black

The kids were out overnight at a birthday sleepover, so we decided to hire some DVDs from Blockbuster last night.  After watching The Voice we decided to start with The Woman in Black.  Daniel Radcliffe was excellent throughout (at no point did I get shades of HP) and I think it can safely be said that the film was carried on his character alone.  It was a fine example of an old-school thriller and I was unsurprised to see that, as it was a Hammer film, it reminded me of my childhood watching Hammer House of Horror at my Grandparents house on a Saturday night.  All the usual stuff was there - the scary music, the shadowy scenery and the build up of knowing something was going to pop-up but not being sure when, so that when it does you JUMP.  I was suitably scared of the ominous presence of the woman in black, but the various murdered children were the ones that really had me hiding behind the pillow.  I had guessed the ending, but I loved that it left you wondering whether the woman in black had done it to carry on being vengeful or to give Mr Tipps back his family, like he had given her hers.  Ten out of ten.......roll on The Rum Diary and The Vow (we've also hired MI: Ghost Protocol, but as you have seen from my previous blog, I have already seen it).