The Grand Budapest Hotel

This film is an absolute joy to watch. We saw it when it was first screened and I chose it as my Christmas DVD for watching over the Christmas period. What I enjoyed was its sheer theatricality. So often films concentrate on the long lingering shots so you can read the minds of the characters, or else, there is gut-wrenching reality. But here there was theatre. There was pathos, humanity in all its forms, from the noble to the greedy. Heroes and psychopaths. And a window onto a world that was about to disappear forever, the grand central Europe, where the fabulous Austro-Hungarian empire was about to be annihilated by Hitler, the final boot being put in by Stalin.

The central character is the hotel's concierge, Monsieur Gustave, played by Ralph Fiennes and the story is told through the eyes of his young protégé, Zero, played by Tony Revolori.

If you have not yet seen the film, do put it on your must-see list. You will not be disappointed.

Prayers for Peace on Remembrance Sunday


Today is Remembrance Sunday

We remember all those who have fallen in war, and also the deaths of countless men, women and children who have died because of war.

We pray for those, whose lives are devastated by war,

For the communities torn apart by enemy action, for the children orphaned by war


Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, comfort those who mourn

Lord hear us

Today is Remembrance Sunday

And yet the drumbeat of war grows ever louder in this troubled world, the drumbeat that is fuelled by greed and ideology and the lust for power.

We pray for all the communities that are caught up in these terrible conflicts, for Christians, Muslims and people of other faiths. We pray for those who work to bring peace to these regions


Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, may your light shine in our world,

Lord hear us


We pray for a time when civilians are no longer legitimate targets,

For an end to terrorist activity,

For an end to suicide bombings


Christ Prince of Peace,

Hear our prayer


We pray for the politicians and other leaders in the world who hold the keys to war. We pray that their hearts may be open to working for peace and justice in our world


Christ Prince of Peace,

Hear our prayer

The King and Queen in Wisley Gardens

Today we went to see the King and Queen at Wisley. And there they were, bethroned in splendid majesty, holding court at the head of the Canal. Serene, timeless, unchanging, a fairy-tale couple in a fairy-tale world.

Henry Moore’s sculpture came to Wisley Gardens in February this year, on loan until the end of September. And now there is a stay of execution, the loan has been extended “due to popular demand”. Of course it would be lovely if this work of art could find a permanent home at Wisley. Great gardens need great sculpture, and the garden at Wisley could be a really great garden for the whole human being, a place of beauty and for education. The RHS would answer that Wisley Gardens is a place for education, this is their focus, they campaign for school gardening, Wisley Gardens hosts a Clore learning space. Their remit is education, to pass on skills and knowledge and the love of gardening. This is not education for the soul, but for the mind and the body. Not for the soul.

Great art brings transcendence. Great art lifts our experience to a different plane, so we become a different type of human being. Great art is about our humanity. Great art places us on Dover beach, and demands that we call back the ebbing tide, so once more the sea of faith surrounds us.

And so, the King and Queen sit in state at Wisley and remind us of who we are, men and women, women and men, at once part of, and transcending nature.


Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold

Henry Moore Foundation

Veg Box Diaries (1)

Thursday 26 June

Meat box:

  • Chicken Thighs
  • Gammon steaks
  • Venison

Veg Box (small)

  • Potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Bunch carrots
  • Broad beans
  • Broccoli

There is one thing about having a veg box – you have to eat vegetables. And because veg box vegetables are

  1. So expensive
  2. Organic

You feel obliged to use these vegetables and not throw them away.

Other veg this week (mostly from Sainsbury’s

  • Sweet corn
  • Baking potatoes
  • Avocado
  • Butternut squash
  • Mushrooms
  • Courgettes
  • Asparagus




Sweet corn followed by pasta with fresh tomato and Madeira sauce


Sticky maple gammon steak served with roast carrots, sweet corn and broccoli and potatoes


Saffron risotto with veg (asparagus, courgette, broad beans, carrot)


Salad followed by chicken curry (chicken thighs, carrots, butternut squash


Salad followed by chicken curry with Bombay potaoes


Salad followed by mushroom omelette and potato wedges

Knitting socks

I had avoided sock knitting – until now. And I am now a convert to this strange pastime, converted by the enticing balls of sock yarn that are available.


My first pair was in Aran weight wool. Great to knit – really quick – but too chunky for almost all my shoes. They do make really great bed socks, although denim blue is not really my choice of colour for bed-socks.

Having mastered the techniques I then moved on to knitting socks in 4 ply sock yarn. The yarn I chose was Drops Fabel, the multi-coloured variety. Great to knot with but I found the resulting socks need to be washed using fabric conditioner in the final rinse to soften them up. Hand knitted socked should have a cosy, soft foot feel.

I found a simple pattern for top down socks and discovered that the sock consists of 4 main areas:

  • Cuff
    • Top of leg
    • leg
  • Heel
    • Heel flap
    • Heel turn
  • Gusset
    • Pick up stitches from heel
    • Gusset
  • Foot
    • Instep
    • Toe

Although lots of patterns call for double pointed needles, it is much easier to use circular needles and the magic loop method. This way you can arrange things so that the front/upper section of top the sock is one half and the bottom/back section is on the other half of the circular needle.

Reading and knitting – multitasking

A latte, an eReader, one sock finished and the second a work in progress.

Unless the pattern is very intricate, knitting lends itself to multitasking. Here is my eReader (Sony not a Kindle) set up on a table. I use a stand which was designed for an iPad. Supporting the reader like this lends itself to fast knitting and reading.

Perhaps the most distractive activity when knitting is being in conversation. This is where the mistakes creep in.



How many recipes?

According to the Waitrose magazine, Waitrose Kitchen (January 2013), the average Brit knows 10 recipes off by heart. Which I suppose is not too bad. Take my husband. He can make porridge, omelette, boil potatoes for 20 minutes and make toast. And follow the instructions of ready meals. In the days when we ate beef burgers, he could cook beef burgers as well.

The problem with such a statistic is that it does not define what is a recipe. Is beans on toast a recipe? Does this include cakes and scones? Does this include using ready made sauces and puff pastry? Does it include variations on a theme?

From what I can see, there are some basic cooking techniques. Recipes are these techniques with different ingredient lists. Risotto for instance. The survey claims that 3 out of 10 people can make a risotto. Actually, I use a pressure cooker for this – saves the standing around and the end result is good. But you can make mushroom risotto, asparagus risotto, chicken risotto – different recipes?

I make several types of cake – one basic recipe (a Victoria sponge recipe). I make soup – the ingredients are the different, but the method the same. I make stew – one method and different ingredients.

Windows 8 installation

What ever possessed me I ask myself. Normally I am very cautious about installing new operating systems. But I was lured by the £24.99 offer for Windows 8 Pro.

My excuse is that my PC was running slow – mainly because the hard-drive was cluttered. But then operating system could also do with a refresh. So I cleared by hard-drive and downloaded Windows 8.

Having done this I then discovered that I needed to purchase a memory stick to store the downloaded operating system – a trip into town fixed this. Having backed up all my data, there was no reason not to proceed – so I did.


The installation was easy enough. And then I logged on.

My network drives were in accessible. The printer do not work – and what was worse, my mouse (a Logitech trackball) did not function well.

A week later, I have solved many of the problems by:

Creating a new user profile based on my computer on my NAS. Forget about all the complex stuff I found on line. To connect to a NAS you need a username and password. Windows 8 , instead of using the log in name, uses your computer name. The only difficult thing is remembering the IP address of the server and the admin user name and password.

Roving drivers and reinstalling with the latest drivers. I had a few problems with the HP printer driver.

Outstanding issues

Adobe reader –I might look for an alternative.


Its OK but it would be better to install on a more modern PC with a Windows 8 mouse or trackpad.

Lymington hails Ben Ainslie

Tuesday 11 September 2012

It is 5pm in Lymington. We are standing by the side of the road in the High Street waiting to see the Ben Ainslie bus. Beside us are two little boys. Both boys are here with their mums and younger siblings. One has his face painted as a Union Jack. Both boys are very excited.

We wait – the crowd is beginning to grow. The boys are attracting media interest from the reporters and camera men wandering up and down the high street. Some stop to interview the boys.

A cheer goes up – the post van is beside the Ben Ainslie postbox. A few minutes early I put my postcards in to the postbox – and never have I found a post box so full – I was concerned that my cards would fall out.

Still we wait. The news ripples through – the bus has left the hospital, then the bus is at The Avenue. A few minutes later, the bus is in St Thomas’s Street. The cavalcade is coming. Now much longer now. And then, coming out of the sunshine, cresting the brow of the hill is the bus. A cheer goes up as the open topped bus inches its way down the hill.

Everyone cheers, the flags are waved, the bus inches forward – the excitement is intense. As the bus moves towards the end of the High Street and its destination, we join the throng following the bus. Now the road is a sea of people following the bus – a few unfortunate drivers have been unwise enough to try to follow the bus downhill and are now marooned in the sea of people.

Somehow Ben gets off the bus which has stopped outside his house and opposite the famous postbox. Even more amazingly he has made it across the road to the Henri Lloyd Sailing Store. Someone cries “three cheers for Ben” and the crowd roars “hip hip hooray”. The hero has been welcomed home.