Friday, 7 August 2015

'Of shoes and ships and sealing wax...'

Actually this post is about none of the things in the title - but like the Walrus's list of conversational topics, it's a bit of a mish-mash. I've been back and forth to various places over the last few weeks, and there are a smattering of things I'd like to share.

The first visit was to my niece in London. We ate a lot of cake, but in between pursuing this very important piece of reearch, we went to see an exhibition of paintings at Dulwich Picture Gallery, by Eric Ravilious, who was an official war artist in the Second World War. His paintings are water colours, but  they're very unlike most water colours. He is fascinated by the juxtaposition of landscape and man-made, particularly industrial objects, but also paints the most intriguing interiors. He uses small, precise brushstrokes to create the most wonderful luminosity in skies and seas, and finds beauty in places of no obvious loveliness, such as war offices and submarine interiors. For more about him, please see this post by Lydia Syson.

There is a rather sweet little coda to this. My niece was carrying her nine week old baby son in a sling, and he was the subject of many admiring glances. One elderly gentleman stopped and smiled. 'The best thing in the whole exhibition,' he said quietly.

Dangerous Work at Low Tide
My niece also has a two year old whose birthday I had missed, so we went to the very wonderful children's bookshop in Herne Hill, Tales on Moon Lane. My great-nephew likes buses and trains, and he likes things that rhyme. I found this book by Michael Rosen. I can't do a proper review of it, because I only had a speedy look through in the bookshop before handing it over - but apparently it went down an absolute storm with Ben. That Michael Rosen will clearly go far, as will his illustrator, Gillian Taylor.

My niece also recommended some detective novels to me. They're by Anya Lipska. Set in London, they're about an unlikely crime-fighting duo - a small, blonde policewoman called Natalie Kershaw, and a Polish fixer/investigator called Janusz Kiszka. They'tr terrific - clever plots, funny, and with great characters - beside the two mains, there's Oskar, Kiszka's loyal, wisecracking but slightly ineffectual best friend. I've read all three - the first is Where The Devil Can't Go - and my only complaint is that the last one finishes with a heartbreaking hint of what could happen next - and probably a lengthy wait till the next book. Sigh.

I read the last of these books in Dorset, where we went for a few days and walked on the Jurassic cliffs and sat on the Jurassic shore. Here are some pictures. It was lovely. Enjoy your summer, wherever you are!

Above and below: looking east from Thorncombe Beacon

Looking west towards Lyme Regis



  1. Thank you for the post. I like the mish- mash!

  2. Sniff! It's winter where I am - and following the coldest July(winter July) in 20 years. Still, the jonquils are sprouting in my mother's garden and I've spotted the first daffodils. And wattle... Lovely photos of the sweeping cliffs, though. And the books sound great. :-) Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thank you, Mystica! Ah, but Sue, you've got it all to come - all the promise of spring!

  4. True! And it never gets as cold here as it does in England. ;-)