Monday, 27 April 2015

Let's Play in May!

May is nearly here, and with it comes Brighton Festival and Brighton Fringe!

Last year, I went to several free events and exhibitions that were happening as part of Brighton Festival/Fringe, and also went to a ticketed comedy/music show.

I might have gone to more, but due to lack of organisation, I didn't find out about any of the events until it was too late to buy tickets.

This year I am far more organised! I've got tickets to several plays, and plan to head into Brighton for some of the free events too, especially art exhibitions.

Here are my plans so far:

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A History of Gods and Royalty

Once again I have beavered away at my ongoing reading goal, achieving my monthly target of three books just a few days ago.

This month's trio of novels were similar in that they related to history, religion and royalty, but my impressions - and therefore my ratings - varied greatly...

Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles - Margaret George (2/5)
I picked up this book because I'd previously read Margaret George's The Autobiography of Henry VIII, and loved it. Also I knew little of Mary Queen of Scots, and like historical fiction, so it seemed a good choice.

For the plot of this book, you need only look at the historical records of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots--this tome follows her birth, her life growing up in France, her return to Scotland as Queen and subsequent escapes from plots and imprisonment, until she finally winds up a prisoner in England, upon the orders of Queen Elizabeth I. And of course, the book also follows the events that led to Mary's inevitable execution.

Perhaps having read another of Margaret George's books set my hopes too high for this one, as I was a little disappointed by it. Or maybe it's that I didn't find Mary's life interesting another. The Mary within the books was stubborn, or perhaps naive and ill-informed, too self-righteous and altogether annoying--though not as annoying as John Knox! Portrayed as a manipulative preacher with fanaticism that bordered on madness, I hoped that each of his appearances within this book would be his last.

I found that this book went through fits and starts of holding my attention. It took me quite a few chapters to truly get into the story as I found little interest in Mary's early years and life in France. For a while, I was riveted by the storyline, then again bored by it, and then captivated once again.

The latter part of the book, about Mary's exile (and imprisonment) in England, started off promising but ended up tedious, as Mary was moved here and there whilst Queen Elizabeth evaded the matter of her lords and advisors pushing for Mary's execution. Of course, the fact that Mary was executed eventually is no surprise - being historical fact, after all - but I wound up just wishing Elizabeth would behead her and get on with it!

This book is probably more interesting to someone with a greater interest in Mary Queen of Scots than I have.

I won't read this book again, but if you like long tales about royals of the past, this one may be your cup of tea.

I also totally recommend Margaret George's The Autobiography of Henry VIII (which Ionce wrote about on my other blog, here).

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Halos in the Sky (Whitby Trip Part 3: Abbey and Church)

It was a cold and windy day when my friend Sara and I went to Whitby. After warming ourselves with food and tea, and meandering around the shops, we went to Whitby Abbey, the town's most famous landmark.

Despite the cold and wind, the weather was also clear and sunny! When we reached the abbey, I realised the sun had a 'halo', which is a phenomenon that happens when light interacts with ice crystals in the air. (Wikipedia page)
I got a couple of great shots of this, the best one being at the top of this post.

Along with the abbey, we wandered around the grounds of the Church of Saint Mary, which also sits upon the cliffs, close to the abbey.

To reach the church and abbey required walking up 199 age-worn steps. It's such a task that there are benches on the way up, so visitors can stop and take a breather! The steps are wide, with railings either side to help people on their way. There are grooves worn into the steps, from the footfall of countless people who have walked upon them! I found it was easier to walk straight up the middle, taking the steps two at a time. Then again, I do have long legs and good balance ;)
The view from the steps was great, and if they hadn't been so busy I might have stopped to take more photographs than the one of the church, above. But I digress. On with the pictures!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Whitby Trip (Part 2: The Food!)

A few days ago, I posted about some of the things I saw when my friend Sara and I went on a trip to Whitby. Including a squirrel on a motorbike.

This post is about the food!

The Cabin Cafe, just across the road from the station car park, was our first port of call. We were freezing and starving, and big mugs of tea and sausage baps had never been more of a welcoming sight!
I didn't get any pictures of our food because we both scoffed it as soon as it reached the table, so you'll have to take my word for it that, simple as a sausage in a bread roll is, it was damn tasty.
Our tea was served in brightly-coloured 'Moshi Monsters' mugs, the perfect size for wrapping chilled fingers around. The cafe has a friendly and comfortable atmosphere. It also had some really cute Easter baskets in the window!
Would definitely go back to this one. Those sausage baps were yummy.

Our second stop for sustenance was at Marie Antoinette's, which we went to on the way back from a windy walk around Whitby abbey.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Whitby Trip (Part 1, Including a Squirrel on a Motorbike)

As I blogged previously, I recently went on a day trip to Whitby with my friend Sara.
Our journey took us through the North Yorkshire moors, which looked rugged and stunning beneath the cold blue skies!

This post is part 1, focused on Whitby town, but we also went to Whitby Abbey and ate in a couple of great cafes, which I'll write about in separate posts.

Something that really stood out to me in Whitby was the number of independent shops. Spread through winding and narrow streets we found sweet shops, jewellers (selling Whitby Jet, of course), gift shops, clothing shops, and plenty of fish and chip shops! I loved the window display for the tiny chocolatier's, above. We went in to have a look and it smelt delicious, too! :)

Pre-Easter Trip!

Some may remember that last April, I went to visit a friend in Scunthorpe, and we ended up going to S-con (Scunthorpe's very own annual anime event) and Lincoln.
This year I visited Sara again for the purposes of S-con and Adventures in Northern Towns.

This time around the town in question was Whitby, which is a couple of hours drive from Scunthorpe, so it was a long day.
I'll write a couple of posts about Whitby as I took loads of pictures at the abbey, some in the town, and we also ate in a few places, so I want to blog about those separately.
Once again this trip helped towards some goals...
36. Eat/drink in 30 new places
39. Explore 30 towns/cities/villages
48. Visit 5 different counties
Hurrah, progress!  

As for S-con itself, it was laid back and fun; once again I helped Sara on the Bring and Buy, and this time I sold stuff! I made £30, which just about covered my travel costs. Result!