Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Lacock Abbey

As I walked home across pavements that had been turned into small rivers, while the wind tried to make an impromptu balaclava of my hair, my thoughts turned longingly to the glorious summer of 2013 (which I really hope can be recreated this year)...

In June 2013 my mum and I visited the lovely village of Lacock in Wiltshire and its great house, Lacock Abbey, a National Trust property. Lacock Abbey is a country house made up of an interesting jumble of architectural styles, built on the foundations of a nunnery! You can definitely sense its medieval past while wandering around the cloisters.

Lacock Abbey was also where bits of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were filmed, so of course that made me even more excited to visit!

It only got better when I found out  this place was the home of William Henry Fox Talbot, who created the first photo negative in 1839...can I move in please?

This place was so beautiful and the weather was so perfect that choosing which photos to share was incredibly hard. I was planning to do a second post on the village of Lacock, but I might have to do a third one on the inside of the house itself as well, there were so many interesting things!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

War Books Wishlist

Is it weird to want enough books centred on World War I to be able to devote an entire wishlist to it? This isn't even all of them! I've always been fascinated by the first half of the 20th century, especially World Wars I and II; so much so that my best friend from secondary school used to say that all I read was war books! I don't know exactly why I find that era so interesting - I think it's a combination of the radical change the wars brought about (especially for women) and the romantic idea of a different, more earnest time with simpler lives and (sometimes misguided) unquestioning patriotism. Doing a WWI literature module for English Lit A Level only fuelled this little obsession, and so considering 2014 is the centenary of the beginning of the First World War I thought sharing some books on the topic would be appropriate!

The Eye In The Door and The Ghost Road are the sequels to one I read for my English Lit A Level, Regeneration, a book I would definitely recommend to anyone! It's about a group of soldiers in 1918 at Craiglockhart War Hospital and their army psychiatrist, and it's a really fascinating exploration of the damage of war on the psyche. I've heard that the rest of the trilogy is equally good, so maybe I'll finally get around to reading it this year...

Wake - Five Days in November, 1920: As the body of the Unknown Soldier makes its way home from the fields of Northern France, three women are dealing with loss in their own way: Hettie, who dances for sixpence a waltz at the Hammersmith Palais; Evelyn, who toils at a job in the pensions office, and Ada, a housewife who is beset by visions of her dead son. One day a young man comes to her door. He carries with him a wartime mystery that will bind these women together and will both mend and tear their hearts. A portrait of three intertwining lives caught at the faultline between empire and modernity, Wake captures the beginnings of a new era, and the day the mood of the nation changed for ever.

The Lie - Set during and just after the First World War, The Lie is an enthralling, heart-wrenching novel of love, memory and devastating loss by one of the UK's most acclaimed storytellers. Cornwall, 1920, early spring. A young man stands on a headland, looking out to sea. He is back from the war, homeless and without family. Behind him lie the mud, barbed-wire entanglements and terror of the trenches. Behind him is also the most intense relationship of his life. Daniel has survived, but the horror and passion of the past seem more real than the quiet fields around him. He is about to step into the unknown. But will he ever be able to escape the terrible, unforeseen consequences of a lie?

Public Schools and The Great War - The book examines the impact which the Great War had on the Public Schools and the sacrificial contribution made to the victory which came in 1918. The war consumed about a fifth of all the public schoolboys who fought, while the survivors were scarred by the loss of so many friends. Based largely on source material from school archives and histories, it moves from the naive excitement of the summer of 1914 to the many moving stories that emerge from the carnage of the Western Front. It looks at school life in those war years, boys with their futures on hold and the prospect of death always very close, Headmasters and staff devastated by the loss of so many young lives.

So those are my top five books I'd like to read to commemorate the centenary; anyone out there got any other recommendations?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Guildford Farmers' Market

Today me and my boyfriend Michael had the day off work and so (after a glorious lie-in) we went to the Guildford Farmers' Market, which runs on the first Tuesday of every month, 10:30am-3:30pm.

Thankfully it was a rather nice day, if a bit windy!

We had to fuel up first at Muffin Break (fast becoming an obligatory stop during any trip into town) with lattes and an orange choc chip muffin for me (above) and a mixed berry one for him. I was a bit dubious at first as oranges aren't my favourite fruit, but I like trying a new flavour every time I go - and actually I think this was possibly my favourite one yet!

We had a wander up the high street looking at everything before making any purchases, and being tempted by these 'Cajun Fries' (sweet potato fries with Cajun seasoning) and garlic mayonnaise from one of the stalls. They were certainly worth buying, even though I was still full from the muffin - sweet potato fries are delicious anyway, but these ones in particular were beyond wonderful! I normally don't like my sweet potato fries with mayonnaise, but the garlic complimented the Cajun seasoning perfectly.

Bottom Row: Anila's Sweet Mango Chutney, Twineham Grange Full-flavoured Hard Cheese, Harvey's Poultry Farm's Turkey, Garlic & Chilli Sausages, Nut Knowle Farm's Wealden Goat's Cheese

And this is what we ended up buying! We tried everything except the pasta and sausages before purchasing; I'm very excited to try the sausages and more of the goat's cheese. Our entire fridge now smells enticingly of the wonderful garlic and chilli combination of the sausages and the goat's cheese had a lovely strong flavour that I think will go well with the pasta. My favourite purchase would have to be the Very Cherry though; it tasted wonderfully fruity and of real cherries, not the artificial flavouring you so often get with commercial cherry drinks, and the makers recommend it paired with Amaretto or Champagne, both drinks I also love!

All in all I would definitely recommend Guildford Farmers' Market for tasty treats that are a bit off the beaten track; so get down there next time if you can!

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