Monday, June 29, 2009

A few things that are not connected at all

I've now got stuck into my first fiction book for months - it is A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book and, despite guessing - correctly I think - who is going to be pairing up with whom over its 630 pages of a family saga, it is a good read (despite an over-abundance of metaphors). One Guardian review said it had been over-researched, that Byatt had put too much of a factual nature into it (it covers Edwardian/Great War times), but that sort of book suits me fine. It would be too much of a jump to go straight from OU course books to trivial fiction. I enjoyed an earlier novel of hers - the Booker winner Possession and I hope this is going to be as good.

We recently wanted to give someone a present and this particular person has everything she could possibly want. We decided in the end to get her some memory lane sweets - to remind her of her childhood. We settled on cinder toffee, space dust, flying saucers and sticky fudgy stuff called Chelsea Woppers. Saturday evening saw us all trying out the contents which were tremendous - if you are stuck on what to buy someone, for a silly present you could do a lot worse than go to here and order a retro box of sweets. Better still - make sure you are around when it is opened and look very interestedly at the contents.

You all know that I am a Byron nut and I recently found out that sometime at the end of July Rupert Everett is going to be presenting a two-part documentary for Channel 4 on Byron. I hope it is going to be good. I've never seen the BBC two part drama on His Lordship - the one with Jonny Lee Miller that was meant to be good. What a shame us expats can't access these 'watch it again' sites online.

A little while ago I blogged about the fact that I would be having an OU gap year. However, due to the generosity of Mr FF, this now looks increasingly unlikely. Despite the vast cost of the OU courses for people outside the UK it looks quite probable that I will be continuing my studies come September. I have my eye on this new course and it will be a pleasure to read Grimm's fairy tales as part of my studies. It will be my first Level 3 course (the hardest level) and I feel quite excited about it all.

The dog photo at the top is of Misty, one of our two bichons, after she fell into the canal where she goes for her daily walk. Mr FF was away (he would have had to be - he is much more careful than to let this happen) and Mr FF's ma and I were the dog walkers, talking away and not paying careful attention. We suddenly noticed that we were one dog short and after a little search saw a little white head happily swimming along beside us. The thing is that now she is always trying to get back into the water and it really is not a good look for white lapdogs. As a compromise I'm looking into buying a kiddie paddling pool for the back garden - she can swim round and round and I'll soak my hot little feet.


Lulu LaBonne said...

I love that image - Misty paddling around your feet in the pool.

Lucky you, being able to continue with the OU after September, it sounds like you're getting a lot out of it.

Nora Johnson said...

Congratulations on being able to continue with the course! Lovely post as always too.
PS Have same problem accessing your site - connection breaks! Very strange!

Cynthia said...

Oh your little white bichons is a cutie pie, and I love your gift idea. I hope I get to see the Byron documentary...probably later when it's available on DVD.
As for your continuing the OU course-great news. You will be posting on Grimm's fairy tales? I enjoy the inside story on these ever evolving tales.

I gave you an award over at Oasis Writing Link (OWL) blog, dear Ms. FF, as you are a treasure.

Btw I noticed that you posted a photo of your flower fronted beautiful. I think a pool in the back for Misty and your "hot little feet" is an excellent idea. Maybe I should get one too, only I'm afraid the puppies would chew it to bits...I need a puppy-proof pool. Visit me soon, Mrs. French Fancy <3

Steve said...

Oh wow - space dust! Now that takes me back. I may to search for "rhubard and custard" now...

A Super Dilettante said...

Poor Misty! She looks so cute even if she is covered with mud in the canal. I adore Rupert Everett (esp. Another Country). He looks so dashing and well bred! It's fantastic that he'll be presenting a programme on Byron. Let me know what you think when you see it. I don't have a TV at home so I miss a good educational programme like this. I wish I had the skill for attention to details that A S Byatt has. She created this extraordinary world. Every page, I was so impressed with her knowledge in decorative arts, the costumes that Pre-Raphalite brothers used in paintings and William Morris's socialist ideas.

Have you seen a film adaptation of Possession? I was horrified by the poor acting. Someone needs to tell Gwyneth Paltrow that because she can mimic British accent and wear ruff around her neck doesn't make her a good actress!

LadyFi said...

What fun swimming in the canal! Oscar runs off to our lake all the time now that it is boiling hot.

And what an interesting course - Children's Lit. Lucky you!

Contemporary Troubadour said...

That OU course sounds wonderful! I've been collecting all the books from my childhood that made strong impressions on me -- I am very curious what your course will have to say about trends in children's literature. Part of the reason I'm seeking out my old favorites is because I'm wary of the stuff out there for kids now. For some reason, a lot of it just doesn't seem as good, but maybe that's because the sampling I got to use as a middle school teacher a few years ago wasn't representative.

Carol said...

Those sweets are a brilliant idea for a present!! I adored space dust when I was a kid :-)

Hehehe, I love the idea of you sitting in your garden, glass of wine in hand, feet in a paddling pool with your bichons swimming around!!

Congratulations on starting the new course...It looks fab!!

C x

Jennysmith said...

super dog, FF, really beautiful.

Glad you're reading some fiction now.

Are those sweets Hope & Greenwoods? I got some kids I looked after a big box of them - with the flying saucers and everything. Didn't get a single thank you. Took the taste of 'em away from me then somehow.

I bet your pal was so much better than that. xxxx

Anonymous said...

I'm happy for you that you will be continuing with your studies. Once you have momentum it's sad to lose it. Cute puppy pics.

willow said... the little cutie's muddy feet!

Reasons to be Cheerful 1,2,3 said...

Great news re. the course. Better enjoy the summer reading whilst you can!

Veggie Carrie said...

Poor Misty! She's so sweet. When Sky gets muddy her black fur must conceal the dirt, but little Misty is the wrong colour for mud.

Mama said...

yum flying saucers with the sherbet inside brings back memories. So happy you are going to study again, I bet Misty will love a pool of her own. I want to see that documentary on Byron, sounds good, will have to do some digging see if it's on over here or on the web. have a happy week, it's suddenly quiet here now that my sister is on her way back across the pond, hugs, Kathy.

Blu said...

OOPS French fancy, you must take care at the canal. Best wishes Blu x

Ayak said...

Oh that sounds like a really interesting course!

I like the idea of feet soaking in paddling pool...just what I need at the moment.

Ann said...

The Scottish version FF, when I go back to Glasgow.

Toasted Tea cakes, Dolly mixtures, Lucky Tatties, Frying pan lollies, everything your greedy little stomach wants so badly, Shrimps, liquorish sticks, enough Ann, behave.

What a guy Mr FF is.

At least your dog swam, I had to jump in and rescue mine, he was tangled in weeds and reeds, then we could not get out because the river wall was over 7 feet and very slippery, long story, a Swedish guy with a beautiful crisp white shirt rescued us, me passing my dog to him, and then he holding my arms while I climbed up, his shirt was not white anymore, all was well that ended well, thank goodness.

claire p said...

Glad you can continue witht the study. Level three, oww, scary indeed. But good fun, I loved mine.
Like the idea of the paddling pool, must sort Jamie's out, cool feet would be very nice.

French Fancy said...

Lulu - I have been known to talk a lot about buying things and then never get round to it I'm hoping the paddling pool will get purchased though - but if she decides not to swim in it I'll get very cross - it might be too clean for her, after her dirty dip.

Nora - isn't it odd how some blogs are always dodgy either to connect with or to stay connected.

Cynthia - there are loads of good books on the Children's Literature course. I love the Pullman trilogy and Northern Lights - the first of them- is a featured book.

Steve - I used to like bitter cherries - oh and pineapple chunks

ASD - how sophisticated not having a television. I think of you sitting in the evening relaxing to the sound of musical symphonies and concertos.

Ladyfi - the thing is that when we've gone to beaches neither of the bichons have shown the slightest interest in the sea. But I guess just as people change so do dogs

Contem Troub - this is a course that is classed as suitable for librarians and teachers as well as general Humanity students. You probably know how they are going to structure the course, in view of your past experience. I think it will be good but there are two or three other level 3 courses that I'm very interested in as well. Oh well, I've got time

Carol - about a year ago when we had a meal at our favourite restaurant the chef put space dust in one of the desserts - it was fabulous. I bet it would go well with ice cream

Jen - I don't know who actually makes the sweeets for 'A Quarter Of'. I love kids' sweets

Clarity said...

Oh Byron - true there was something magnetic about someone so talented.

That course sounds marvelous, what a good husband you have? I hope you enjoy it, although from what I've noticed - not easy; I remember scribbling a quick essay for a friend who started an OU Lit course - not cheating mind, it was only supposed to be a "guideline", intensive stuff.

Do take care and if the dog wants to get dirty, let it be a dog :)

French Fancy said...

Mr WO - I hope it all works out okay - we're 95% certain that I'll be able to go ahead with the course

willow - Misty was so happy with herself and Poppy ran at her barking and barking in a telling off sort of way (I know I know - anthropomorphism here)

Reasons - this Byatt is going to take me months to read.

Carrie - the biggest drawback with little white dogs - everything shows

Mama - it must be with mixed feelings that you wave off family and friends. It's always nice for it to be back to normal but sad to have loved ones go

Blu - now she has done it once we really have to watch her. Lucky Mr FF is so fast on his feet - he has stopped her going in on a few occasions now

Ayak - the only drawback with a brand new OU course is that the workload has not yet been established. It's not until it has been running a few times they alter or reduce the students' course work

Ann - wow, a Swedish hero. Fancy him risking a pristine white shirt. I never knew if Misty could swim but Mr FF kept saying that all dogs could - if the water is not sodden with reeds and weeds as with your poor unlucky dogs.


claire - yes, get a pool for Jamie - he'd love it whereas I think our dogs might just use it to chase around

Clarity - Byron's talent was phenomenal - he could scribble out verse after verse in a day - all at the same top standard

cheshire wife said...

Misty probably did not fall into the canal. She more than likely dived in for a refeshing swim.

Ann said...

Aye hen, sweeties.

bindu said...

That's funny - about your little dog quietly slipping into the water and swimming along. :)

Val Erde said...

Coo... 630 quid to study childrens books - eek! That's a lot of dosh! I'd rather live with my memories and read the odd new one, meself! But good luck to you (really) if ou do it!

I have been wanting to get some sweeties from 'a quarter of' for... a long long time.I remember emailing them years ago to ask if they'd take a cheque and getting a lovely - and rapid - reponse from them. They do have some very tempting goodies..

Sorry I've not been around here (or facebook) much...!

French Fancy said...

cheshire wife - I think you are spot on. One minute she was there - and then nothing - and we never even heard a splash

Ann - ((sweeties)) I love sweets

bindu - she looked so funny I couldn't be cross

Val - if only it were £630. That is the fee for UK residents. For us in Contintental Europe it is £1510!!

Phil Lowe said...

A long while ago (late 1980s) I went to stay with a German family in Berlin and the day before I arrived my friend's sister's little dog decide to run headlong towards the Berlin Canal and forgot to stop at the edge. I imagine this action cartoon style but one moment it was mid air paw s a waggling and the next there was a doggy 'splosh'. The owner went into panic mode and lept into the canal to save the dog - forgetting she herself couldn't swim! Luckily a passing cyclist rescued them both. I stayed with that family for three weeks and heard the story about three hundred times - in high pitched panicky German.Ach meine arme hundlein war ins kanal wasser gefallen! Liebe Gott!

Ann said...

Phil, I can swim, the problem being, I could not see my dog, he was in the reeds somewhere, he must have stunned himself because there was no movement, the problem with jumping in the river was the fact it was about nearly 8 feet from bank to river, and when I landed, the water came to about a foot above my ankles, which were sinking into the mud, found my beloved dog, and got him out of the reeds, he had a look on his face as if to say, " what the heck just happened to me ", then came the biggest problem, trying to get a 55 lb dog up an nearly 8 foot slippery bank that had nothing to hold onto, and I am 5 ft 4, thankfully the pristine white shirted Swede, rescued us, I held my dog above my arms, and he did the rest.

He told me he had seen me take my sandals off, and jump into the river, he was a good distance away, and ran to save me, he thought I had jumped into the river deliberately, he was very relieved when he saw my muddy dog, being held by an even muddier me, I had tripped over some reeds, and the river and I, came face to face.

The dog and I came home, I looked like a swamp creature, trailing water, mud and reeds everywhere, Mr Ann just fell about laughing, he was on the phone to his friend, and relaying my story, when it was mentioned that I had actually jumped into the river, I could hear the friend laughing all the way from England.

We don't go near that part of the river anymore, I was very grateful to the lovely Swede, and could not thank him enough.

Bet that was fun listening to the story for 3 weeks, mine was over and done with in a day.

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea.

Relax, read what you want, enjoy the summer and start again refreshed in the Autumn.

You deserve it,


French Fancy said...

Phil - so you can do the old sprecken Deutsche as well as parleying - you've got the gift mate - honestly. Of course if it had happened when you'd been staying with the family I know you would have jumped in to save the dog, I just know it.

Oh Ann - when you mentioned this to me before I thought what a scene it all must have made - but how scared you must have been for you dog and with no thought for yourself. I can't believe Mr Ann laughed - Mr FF would have been devastated to see me looking like that - I'd then have burst into tears and he would have been lovely - he'd never have laughed (boo to Mr Ann) (hurrah for you knight in Swedish armour)

NWBD - I am so enjoying reading the Byatt now, I've really got into it. I am busy though in the daytime software testing - good for the brain cells as well.

the fly in the web said...

I hope you don't mind but I would like to pass on a NENO award for positive blogging.
Your blog really picks me up

Ann said...

You are right about Mr Ann, off to get myself a divorce, and run away with the crisp shirted Swede FF.

Lane said...

Aw, bless her little muddy legs. Did she have a bath?