Women More Likely Than Men To Consider Country Houses And Castles As Important

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This is fascinating.
I’m not surprised that the North -East, where I was brought up, scores highest for interest in local heritage as there is such a strong sense of pride in being from the north-East, both culturally and in emotional ties.
The split between male and female interests tends to suggest that work and home divisions persist – it could be summed up as “men like pubs, sport and industry , while women like homes and castleas”. Is this part of the Downton effect?

The Historic England Blog

We recently calculated that an amazing 99.3% of people in England live within a mile of a listed building or site – heritage is literally all around us. So, inspired by this fact, we commissioned YouGov to ask people across England what they really think about heritage. Here’s the pick of the bunch:

The most commonly-valued parts of England’s historic environment are country houses and castles (70%), closely followed by monuments and memorials (67%), and ancient archaeological sites (66%). A substantial amount of people also think places of worship (52%), maritime history, like wrecks and submarines (48%), parks and gardens (45%), railway stations, bridges and tunnels (37%), shipyards and factories (30%) to be important parts of heritage too.

Chart v3

The split between what men and women think about heritage makes for interesting reading. Men are more likely to consider industrial heritage to be important and worth preserving (32% male, 27% female)…

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Reading as Therapy

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A friend sent me a newly launched list of “Mood Boosting Books” last week. The blurb says:

Research shows that reading improves mental wellbeing and reduces stress by 67%. The Reading Agency worked with BBC Headroom and nine UK reading groups in 2011 to create a list of mood enhancing books. These titles were endorsed by Charley Baker, Lecturer in Mental Health at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy at the University of Nottingham. Public libraries throughout the UK promoted this list in 2012.

Of the 27 recommendedbooks I’ve read 6, so there’s plenty of scope for me to improve my mood. However, when I’m in need of easy, comfortable reading I return to my old favourites, crime, mystery and thrillers. A quick look at “In the Library” shows that every book I’ve read this year to date fits those categories.  From the full-on violence and black humour of Stuart MacBride’s Aberdonian police procedurals to the biting satire of Sebastian Foulks on 21st century London in “A Week in December” it’s crime, violence, mystery and chills.

The strange thing is I feel comforted by this type of reading, it takes me back to a pattern started in childhood with Leon Garfield, Robert Louis Stevenson and early forays into Ian Fleming. However, I will give mood-boosting reads a chance, although from the one’s I’ve already read mood-boosting = humour an dliterary humour is a curious thing.

Here’s the full list, with those I’ve already read in BOLD:

The Beach Café by Lucy Diamond

Being Human by Neil Astley

The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee

Couch Fiction by Philippa Perry

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord

Life According to Lubka by Laurie Graham

Life with the Lid Off by Nicola Hodgkinson

A Little History of the World by E. H. Gombrich

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Men at Work by Mike Gayle

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

A Spot of Bother byMark Haddon

Tackling Life by Charlie Oatway

That Awkward Age by Roger McGough

To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell

Trouble on the Heath by Terry Jones

A Winter Book byTove Jansson

Stop What You’re Doing and Read This – Various contributors

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

Waterlog by Roger Deakin

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Little Things

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This morning I have banged my head on the garage door, tripped up going up stairs, had yet another run-in with my boss over prioritisation of work and burnt my lunch. However, I don’t regret burning lunch one bit because of the reason for my distraction.

I decided I could top up a bird-feeder while lunch was cooking – I had plenty of time, but as I was fastening the feeder back onto the tree two long-tailed tits flew into the buddleia about six feet away. So imagine me, standing next to the tree, arms raised up, frozen so as not to scare them off.

Well, it worked as one of them decided to fly into the tree less than two foot away from me for a quick peck at a fat ball.

That minute, watching that little bird in close up, makes up for all this morning’s mishaps and I didn’t mind at all that lunch was frazzled.

Big Garden Birdwatch 2012

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I prepared properly this year and filled up the bird feeders. The birds get pretty well fed around here, so they are quite happy to go elsewhere if your offerings don’t please them.

No excuses this year

The turnout wasn’t too bad at all:
Blackbird             2
Blue tit                  3
Collared dove      1
Dunnock              1
Goldfinch             2
Great tit                2
House sparrow   4
Long-tailed tit     3
Robin                   1
Wood pigeon       2
Flying in at the last minute,  was 1 great spotted woodpecker. This was taken last summer, so I’m pleased it’s still around


There were a few surprises – no greenfinches, but they haven’t all disappeared or died off, as I saw some in early January. The jay and green woodpecker which have been around for the last two years haven’t made an appearance for some time, but the biggest surprise was  not a single starling.

New year, new blog.

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From Livejournal 2nd Feb 2012:

I haven’t posted seriously here, or anywhere else, since early 2009.

Things happened: car crash, whiplash, Sleep apnoea, CPAP, long-term sickness, mother with Alzheimer’s, work issues, possible job loss, sudden death, more work issues, depression, more work issues…

There you go 2009 – to 2012 in two lines.

LJ seems to have been hacked, blocked, and is slowly sinking. I’m now contributing to its decline.

In an effort to bring some focus to my life (ha) I’m trying to blog again, but I’m moving. I’ve been able to export my LJ, so it also acts as an archive.

To WordPress 30th Jan 2012:

I’m running away from the sinking ship that is LiveJournal and bringing my baggage with me.

2012 may be a new me, the old me, or, heaven forfend, more of the current me.  My good intentions are to write things down rather than letting them sprawl untidily around me.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, but here goes.

How It Is

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o1. Make a list of 5 things you can see without getting up.
Exercise bike, fruit bowl, magazine, Christmas presents, seascape

02. How do you style your hair?
Taking more time and products than appearance would suggest.

03. What are you wearing now?
Sweatpants, long sleeved top, socks, glasses

04. What’s your occupation?
Battlefield clearance: after the battle I bayonet the wounded.

05. What do you hear right now?
Birdsong, John Martyn

06. What’s your favorite guilty pleasure treat?
Dr Who boxsets, manzanilla sherry and roasted salted almonds

07. Are you hungry?
No – I’ve had dinner

08. Write the first word that comes to mind.

09. Dog person or cat person?
Both – but it’s a long time since I had a dog.

10. What song is currently stuck in your head?
“Your Baby has gone down the plughole” – a music hall song that came up in conversation today.

11. What was the last thing you bought?
Fruit and vegetables

12. If you could afford to go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Big Sur, San Francisco and Northern California

13. Where do you see yourself in 5 minutes?
In the kitchen making a cup of tea.

14. Last book you read?
Ask Alice – DJ Taylor was last night’s read, but I have 4 books on the go at the moment.

15. What are you doing this weekend?
Visiting my family in County Durham.

16. If you could play any musical instrument, which one would you play?

17. How are you?
Tired and jaded.

18. What are you doing tomorrow?
Finishing fieldwork and starting to construct a report and having highlights in my hair at the end of the day.

19. What are you looking forward to the most?
My next holiday.

Happy Birthday Scatz

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I hope you have a relaxing day

A mere cat?

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 Seen on a friend’s FB  this brings a smile to my face and the music is charming  too.


If you see this post a poem

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Carol Anne Duffy, the Poet Laureate asked fellow poets to bear witness to the matters of war last summer as the Iraq enquiry approached and the war in Afghanistan escalated.  This touched me.

In Times of Peace

by John Agard

That finger – index to be exact –
so used to a trigger’s warmth
how will it begin to deal with skin
that threatens only to embrace?

Those feet, so at home in heavy boots
and stepping over bodies –
how will they cope with a bubble bath
when foam is all there is for ambush?

And what of hearts in times of peace?
Will war-worn hearts grow sluggish
like Valentine roses wilting
without the adrenalin of a bullet’s blood-rush?

When the dust of peace has settled on a nation,
how will human arms handle the death of weapons?
And what of ears, are ears so tuned to sirens
that the closing of wings causes a tremor?

As for eyes, are eyes ready for the soft dance
of a butterfly’s bootless invasion?

Books Read in 2009

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 I’m keeping to an average of more than one book a week ; 1.5 this year.
My book of the year came very early "A Thousand Spendid Suns" by Khalid Hosseini, read in January for my bookgroup. Nothing exceeded the strong emotions and tears this book generated.

Books Read in 2009
1. One Good Turn – Kate Atkinson (9)
2. The Night Watch – Sara Waters (8)
3. A Grave Man – David Roberts
4. Grumpy Old Women – Judith Holder
4. A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khalid Hosseini(Ethelreaders)(10)
5. Mary Reilly – Valerie Martin
6. At Your Own Risk – Derek Jarman
7. Affinity – Sara Waters (9)
8. The Child in Time – Ian McEwan
9. Last of the Late Developers – Peter Wyton
10. Edward Trencom’s Nose – Giles Milton
11. The Reader – Bernhard Schlink (9)
12. The Other Side of the Bridge – Mary Lawson(8)
13. David Golder – Irene Nemirovsky (9)
14. Wonder Boys – Michael Chabon (8)
15. The Coffin Dancer – Jeffery Deaver
16. Not the End of the World – Christopher Brookmyre (8)
17. Stories from your family tree – Ruth Symes
18. Boiling a Frog – Christopher Brookmyre (9)
19. 31 Songs – Nick Hornby
20. How to Talk to a Widower – Jonathan Tropper (Ethelreaders)
21. C – John Diamond (9)
22. In a Dry Season – Peter Robinson
23. The Stone Monkey – Jeffrey Deaver
24. The Front – Patricia Cornwell
25. State of Happiness – Stella Duffy
26. Extreme Motherhood – Jackie Clune
27. At the Stroke of Madness – Alex Kava
28. Bloodlines – Fiona Mountain
29. Without Consent – Georgie Hale
30. Emma – Jane Austen
31. Be My Enemy – Christopher Brookmyre (7)
32. Like – Ali Smith (8)
33. Something to Fall Back On – Maureen Lipman (didn’t finish)
34.Why Don’t Penguins Feet Freeze – New Scientist
35. Last Chance to See – Douglas Adams & Mark Carwardine
36. Charlotte Gray -Sebastian Faulks (re-read for Ethelreaders)
37. The Water Clock – Jim Kelly
38. The Fire Baby – Jim Kelly
39. Dare to be a Daniel – Tony Benn (library)
40. Firmin – Sam Savage
41. Feel – Chris Heath
42. Fatland – Greg Critser
43. Why do people hate America- Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies
44. Ghostwalk – Rebecca Stott(Ethelreaders)(10)
45. A Snowball in Hell – Christopher Brookmyre (8)(library)
46. The Road Home – Rose Tremain (library)
47. One of Us -Melissa Benn
48. The Dead Heart -Douglas Kennedy (library)
48. Scapegallows – Carol Birch (library)
49. The Righteous Men – Sam Bourne
50. A Line in the Sand – Gerald Seymour
51. The Empty Chair – Jeffery Deaver
52. The Mortal Sickness – Andrew Taylor
53. The Twelfth Card – Jeffery Deaver
54. The Last Sorcerer – Michael White(library)
55. Blinded – Stephen White
56. The Colour – Rose Tremain (Ethelreaders)
57. The Cold Moon – Jeffery Deaver
58. Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem – Peter Ackroyd (10)
59. The Suspicions of Mr Whicher – Kate Summerscale (8)
60. The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein – Peter Ackroyd (library)(9)
61. The Stranger House – Reginald Hill(10)
62. The Innocent – Harlen Coben
63. Losing You – Nicci French(9)
64. Murder Most Fab – Julian Clary (library)
65. The Truth – Terry Pratchett
66. R is for Richochet – Sue Grafton(library)
67. Past Imperfect – Julian Fellowes( Ethelreaders)
68. The Blackpool Highflyer – Andrew Martin
69. The Other Hand – Chris Cleave(Ethelreaders)(8)
70. Linger Awhile – Russell Hoban (library) (8)
71. Expecting Someone Taller – Tom Holt
72, The Outcast – Sadie Jones( Ethelreaders) (8)
73. Silk – Allessandro Barrico (8)
74. Ye Gods – Tom Holt
75. Crack Down – Val McDermid
76. A Touch of Frost – RD Wingfield (7)
77. To War in Spain(Penguin 60) – Laurie Lee (10)
78. Little Black Book of Stories – A.S. Byatt (8)

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