Archive for April, 2011

Watched ‘Barchester Chronicles’

Posted in period drama, Watched it with tags , , , , , , , , on April 30, 2011 by echostains

I have never read an Anthony Trollope book, and I know there are many of them.  I have however seen the series ‘The Way we Live Now’ starring David Suchet and greatly enjoyed it.  So when I spotted ‘The Barchester Chronicles‘ DVD I was quite looking forward to watching it.  The series was first shown in 1982 and is an adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s first two Barchester novels (The Warden and Barchester Towers).

The stars are Susan Hampshire, Donald Pleasence as Mr Harding (a central character), a very young Alan Rickman as adversary Obadiah Slope and Geraldine McEwan as Mrs Proudie the Bishops wife. 

 The plot centres around a zealous Mr John Bold an over zealous young reformer, discovering that the unworldly Mr Harding is in receipt of a very good wage for doing next to nothing takes it upon himself to point this out to Mr Harding, who is by turn horrified and mortified as he really has no idea about financial matters.  The newspapers get hold of this story and life for Mr Harding, from that point on, becomes intolerable.

I found this series a slow burner and didn’t think that I would like it, but the appearance of the slimy slithery Mr Slope (a kind of evangelical Uriah Heep with an eye for the ladies and not at all ‘umble’) played mesmerisingly by a very young Alan Rickman really livens up the series.  Slope  foolishly makes the mistake of making an enemy of the weak Bishops wife Mrs Proudy – and pays for it!  Mrs Proudy (Geraldine McEwan) and Mr Slope provide a lot of comedy.  The love interest is provided by Mr Hardings daughter Eleanor Bold.

The series was filmed in and around Peterborough Cathedral and on a BAFTA in 1982 for Design.

See here for full cast and nominations

Images and further plot details from here

Dear Reader – I read them

Posted in Dear Reader I read it! Book reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 23, 2011 by echostains
what I’m reading at the moment

I really must catch up with reviews of all the books and films I have seen!  The list is long, and although I do find myself taking notes (on the films) there never seems to be enough time to write it all down.  So, in a nutshell here’s a pile of books which I have read this year alone and which I SHALL review!

The English Ghost by Peter Ackroyd

The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossman

Murderous Manchester by John J Eddieston

Shirley by Charlotte Bronte

The Hireling by L.P. Hartley

Grayson PerryPortrait of the artist as a young girl by Wendy Jones

The Shrouded Wall by Susan Howatch

Lancashire – Where Women die of Love by Charles Nevin

My Fault by Billy Childish (reading at the moment)

Some of these books aren’t finished though and I can’t review them until they are.  Somewhere, I have acquired the habit of starting one book then after a few chapters, acquiring another book which I also start.  Depending on which book is the most interesting – well, that’s the book will get finished at the time. 


 When I am in between any new books being bought, then these unfinished books will come out.  The difficulty in the continuation of reading them lies in my memory of what they were about in the first place!  What I mean is that although I can remember what the book is about, to actually get engaged or immersed in the book means retracing my steps and starting yet again, at the beginning!  There are several books this has happened to (Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel is one of them)  The list above shows  just a few of the books I have read lately and some of these are re reads.

Images from here and here and here

Poetry Challenge ‘Favorite (or least favorite Things)

Posted in ALL MY POETRY CHALLENGES with tags , , , on April 18, 2011 by echostains

This poetry challenge is based upon a poem (well a bit of tomfoolery) I wrote ages ago and forgot about.  But the idea for the challenge was inspired by Jesssica’s Japes wonderful poem ‘My Least Favorite things’.  The challenge is simple – just write a poem to the tune/rhythm of the song from ‘The Sound of Music inspired by your favorite or least favorite things.  To start you off, here’s the first bit of the Julie Andrews version.  In case you don’t know how it goes – here it is on video.

My Favorite Things (From The Sound of Music)

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things!

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things!

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eye lashes
Silver white winters that melt into spring
These are a few of my favorite things!

When the dog bites, when the bee stings
When I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember
my favorite things
and then I don’t feel so bad!

(Lyrics from here)

OK here’s my version……

Priests in white dresses
With black satin lashes
Rogan Josh curry
In splishes and splashes
Old folks that croak
When they;re trying to sing
These are a few of my favorite things

Figs and leaves soap and Lush bath ballistic
People who bounce and remain optimistic
Sober striped wasps that fly past and don’t sting
These are a few of my favorite things
When the shoes pinch and the roots show
When I’m seeing red
I always remember my favorite things
And then toddle off to bed

©Lynda M Roberts 2010

How to enter

 Write your poem and link it to Bookstains (and a mention).  You can include the button if you want.  All poems are themed so make sure that your poem is appropriate for the Bookstains  Poetry challenge if you are also entering it in a challenge elsewhere. 

For example; ideally Van Gogh would relate to that artist and his life or his paintings in some way and Favorite things would be set to the tune ;Favorite things.

In return for linking with me I will put your poem on Bookstains, mentioning your site and Tweeting your poem.  I will also promote your poem at the end of any post I write on my art based blog echostains.

All poems  will be copyrighted to you of course.

The poems can be in any form including Haiku.  They can be as serious or as humorous as you like.  One liners shall not be accepted 😀

Thanks to  for the video

Here is the post which inspired the challenge – it’s from the delightful Jessica’s Japes – a blog filled with witty poetry and prose.  Always a delight to visit!

Raindrops on dry hair and whiskers on granny
Dull boring lectures and warm lager bubbly
Soppy and gossipy girlfriend who clings
These are a few of my least favourite things

Cream colored knickers and burnt peach turnovers
Cheesy ringtones and cold pizza leftovers
Old bra strap which at the worst moment pings
These are a few of my least favourite things

Slim girls in cute dresses with model like wiggles
Red spots that sprout on my nose and brown freckles
Dark hairy hunks who bore me in evenings
These are a few of my least favourite things

When the cat purrs
When the bird sings
When I’m in a fine mood
I simply remember my least favourite things
And then I don’t feel so good!

© Jessica D’Angelo 2011

Our next contribution comes from Adam Dustus of The Dustus Blog, Novelist, Poet and Graphic artist – a great site for poetry, prose and poetry challenges – and it’s all to be found HERE!  Here’s his very original take on the challenge:-

My Favorite Things  Sounds Like Life

Imagine an author rejected by agents
Piles of manuscripts rot in the basement
Trying to capture what’s lost through no means
Sounds like life music through lines that he dreams

Expressing emotions through vectors and color
Writing too much ’cause he can’t find a lover
Many see Jesus as resurrecting
Sounds like life music through lines that he dreams

Breakdowns through trauma; forever seems fleeting
Bombardment of images won’t equal feeling
Being original is poetry
Sounds like life music through lines that he dreams

And when the avalanche comes down
As our carnival leaves town
We still search for a reason through time…
Exhaling sad sorrow
Don’t cry for tomorrow
Sing onto death
Sounds like life

(repeat ad nauseam)

©Adam Dustus 2011

The next poem is from Olivia from Olivia’s In-Mind Whirls She has several blogs full of poetry and writings –  always worth a visit!

What I love about these challenges are poets different interpretations.  We are all so unique and this really shows when it comes to poetry (which makes it all the more interesting I think) Our next poem comes from Kavita whose wonderfully creative blog ‘How I write, is mine – How you read, is yours’ is well worth visiting!

Tough Weakners

White butter clouds
hanging oh so playfully
From silver chords
wound ’round sky’s own old pulley
Azure heavens
crisp and pure as can be
Kissed and nudged
by weightless zephyrs on sea

Caramel swirls
of a sweet salted delight
Set off alarms,
sizzle and make me feel light
Milk chocolate layers
that melt on my tongue
From moody
dungeons back now I have sprung

Voice so rich
like deep bass amidst clamor
Eyes that pierce
right through my heart’s hard armor
Dense shadows
of lashes dark, curled and long
And trembling
transparent like some frail song

If I can do
I sure will do
All that’s in my power…
To blow a few bubbles and indulge myself
In this warm sinful shower

©Kavita 2011

Here’s a gorgeous soothing poem by Stephanie who has started a lovely poetry blog ‘The Attic’ which promises to be a great hit – so please check it out 🙂

I’m Leaving for Dreams

Curled on the blanket with tucked teddy Turtle
sung wailsome worry and back breaking hurdle
time is undone under silver moonbeams
this is the moment I’m leaving for dreams.

Eyes bright with fervor and passionate longing
heart beating harder and whispers imploring
when slipping under the warm bubbling stream
this is the moment I’m leaving for dreams.

When I go dreaming, relief’s that I’m leaving
walking on clouds to the soft steady breathing
granting, the silence invites me to scream
still it’s the moment I’m leaving for dreams.

When the head aches, when the heart breaks
when the day is done
I simply remember
I’m leaving for dreams
and then I don’t feel so sad.

©2011 Stephanie McManus

Happy Birthday Seamus Heaney!

Posted in Inspiring poetry with tags , , , , , on April 13, 2011 by echostains

Today is the birthday of Irish poet Seamus Heaney (b. 1939  Northern Ireland) Born into  a farming family, Heaney went to the Queens University of Belfast where he studied English Literature and the English Language.  He was to graduate in 1961 with a first class honours degree.  It was during this time that he became interested in poetry.  His head master Micheal Mac Laverty was a writer and he introduced Heaney to Patrick Kavanagh’s poetry, encouraging the young  Heaney to publish his own poetry in 1962.

 In 1963 Heaney became a lecturer at St Joseph’s Teacher Training College in Belfast.  Phillip Hobsbaum who was then an English lecturer at Queens University noticed him and as he had already set up a  young poets group in London which was proving successful,  Hobsbaum then set up a poets group in Belfast where he was to  include Heaney, Derek Mahon and Micheal Longley.  Heaneys’  long and interesting career can be read here.  He has received many prizes for his poetry (including the T.S. Eliot Prize (2006) and the Nobel Prize in Literature (1995) and two Whitbread prizes (1996 and 1999).  He is regarded as an elder statesman of poetry.  His work sells very well –  two-thirds of sales for the work of living poets in the UK are for Heaney’s poetry.

The poem ‘When all the others were away’ (featured above) is about a treasured memory the poet has of his mother.  Sometimes the quite simple everyday things in life turn out to be the most treasured – and the most poignant.

Another earthy poem by Heaney is simply called ‘Digging’ and is about the poet’s father.  Heaney has also wrote poems about the Bog men (see my Bog men posts over on Echostains)   Bog Bodies speak beyond the grave, Preserved in Time – Otzi the Iceman, More Bog Bodies –  Ireland, Preserved in Time – Peruvian Mummies,  More Bodies from the Bog – Grauballe Man,


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Seamus Heaney

Poem from Seamus Heaney website with thanks!

Video by  thanks!

More about Heaney and his poems here

‘Things are gonna get worse’ – So now you know

Posted in Inspiring poetry with tags , on April 7, 2011 by echostains

Just when I think that things just have to get better, and they couldn’t possibly be any worse along comes the Salford bard John Cooper Clarke with his ‘Things are gonna get worse poem’.  This poem puts it all into hilarious perspective 😀  Love this man’s poetry!