Monday, 31 July 2017

The Incredible World of Spy-Fi [books]

How do you feel about spy gadgets? I have a love-hate relationship with them, because when they're put in a TV programme or film and used well, they really enhance the action, but some of the later Bond films - the Pierce Brosnan ones, especially - feel as though the makers picked a few double-entendre names, a selection of locations, and some really silly gadgets (invisible car, anyone?) and then tried to cobble a story around them somehow.

Danny Biederman, on the other hand, is a man who really likes his fictional spy gadgets, because everything in this book is in his personal collection, which he was invited to put in a private exhibition for the CIA. The actual CIA.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

In which I fail at pub, but win at shopping

The interior of the White Bear pub, Devizes
Inside the White Bear, Devizes
Yesterday Mr Robot and I decided to go on an Awfully Big Pubventure. Since our butcher closed its Trowbridge branch, we've been driving over to Devizes most Saturdays. Devizes is home to Wadworth's brewery, and there are some really nice looking pubs there. Instead of driving, yesterday we got the bus, with the aim of also sampling a few beers.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

A lovely parcel from Miss Magpie

Earlier this week I got a parcel note put through my door. Something was at the Post Office, waiting for me to sign for it. "How odd," I thought, "I'm sure I haven't bought anything." (I did buy a pair of cherry red patent loafers while on deadline, but they were delivered to Mr Robot's office, and turned out to be too narrow so they've already been returned.)

Yesterday I picked the parcel up, and it was a box of goodies from Gisela, who blogs over at Miss Magpie's Musings. She'd mentioned having some of the British Library republished vintage crime novels, and as she wouldn't read them again, said she'd pass them on to me. I'd completely forgotten, so it was a lovely surprise. Two - The Z Murders and Thirteen Guests - are by J Jefferson Farjeon. I wasn't so keen on Farjeon's Mystery In White, so it'll be interesting to see if these are better.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Homunculus - James P Blaylock [books]

See the words 'steampunk legend' below the author's name? Usually I'd get annoyed by this sort of thing, but in this case it's justified. Unusually compared to other subcultures, such as punk or goth, steampunk has its roots in literature, and three men in particular: K W Jeter, Tim Powers, and James Blaylock. Since then, and since the mid-noughties in particular, the subculture has grown, and there's been a real explosion in the number of stories written within this genre. Possibly the most surprising thing about Homunculus is how many of the cliches of modern steampunk aren't present.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Beam Me Back, Scotty at the Museum of Brands

Yesterday Mr Robot and I went to London as our Twitter chum Emily was running her supperclub. She and her sister Amy cook Burmese food as The Rangoon Sisters, and we wanted to support them, and to enjoy some Burmese food we didn't have to cook ourselves. Because we got into London early with time to kill, I looked round to see if any interesting exhibitions were on, and discovered the Museum of Brands had one called 'Beam Me Back, Scotty'.

You might not have heard of the Museum of Brands. It's not one of the big national collections, it's the work of one man, Robert Opie. If you've an interest in old adverts, watch programmes like Back in Time for Dinner, or watch many other retro programmes, you'll have seen products from the Opie Collection. I suppose you could sum the collection up as 'things people buy'. Food in tins and packets. Toys. Cosmetics. And it's fascinating and lovely, because as nice as grand country houses are, for most of us, our history is on the shelves at the Museum of Brands.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Mumbai booked! And other travel plans

A toy robot
Note to self: pack robot
Yes, Mr Robot and I have booked a hotel for the Mumbai leg of our trip to India next year. And the Kolkata one, for that matter. When we book hotels, location is always our primary concern: I’d rather have somewhere less luxurious if it’s not far from the sights, because I don’t fancy walking miles or taking the bus to get where I want to be every day, but if the location I want is pricy, so be it. So we’ve ended up with one pretty cheap place in Kolkata, not far from BBD Bagh, and one rather expensive one in Mumbai, not far from the Gateway to India (though, as Mr Robot pointed out, it’s no more expensive than a hotel in London. And Vix, I know you read that last sentence in horror!). 

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Art deco glasses

Capricious beings, the charity shop gods. I popped into a few yesterday hoping for clothes, and did they deliver clothes? Of course not. Nor bags, shoes or even brooches.

What they did deliver is a quartet of 1930s glasses. I found a photo of an identical set of three plus a matching jug on Pinterest. It would be nice to have the jug too, but four glasses are generally more usable than three and I already have lots of jugs.

I'm rather pleased with this set. I've always loved jazz age homewares, and glasses aren't common finds.

All hail the charity shop gods!

Friday, 7 July 2017

Not shopping in the sales

Damn you, High Street. I'd been umming and ah-ing over whether to buy the 60s-feeling Seurat top from Fever, and then I missed the fact that their sale had started and now it's sold out. Gah. It would have been perfect with my navy trousers.

On the other hand, a number of other brands have sales on and I'm refusing to buy anything at all as now I'm going to the gym regularly, I'm really hoping I'll be able to wear some more of my genuine vintage soon. If I can't wear the summer dresses before summer's gone, I've got at least two suits that will be perfect for autumn and winter. I've never worn one, a beautiful late 40s/early 50s 'Cooltimer' by Printzess. It's the one on the left. Look at those curved pockets! That's the seller's original photo (I bought it from the excellent Soulrust on Etsy); needless to say I'll fill it out more than the mannequin does. And let's not talk about beige not being my colour. I've waited so long to wear that suit, I'm going to wear it even if I do look blah. A colourful blouse and jewellery will do the trick, I'm sure.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Hoorah for July

A tabby cat in front of a fuchsia bush
Thanks for your nice comments to my last post. Mum is loads better, and is now out of Critical Care, though she's still in hospital on a regular ward as she still needs an oxygen mask. It was good to go to Norfolk to see her, and to see she's recovering. Her chap, Brian, is taking good care of the house as well as the farm, so she can relax and get well. As she's a keen Harry potter fan I bought her a Harry Potter charm bracelet and three charms - the Hogwarts letter, the sorting hat, and a Gryffindor house badge. Gryffindor is her favourite house, and I reckon she belongs there.

Both cats repaid our absence by losing their collars as soon as we came home. Ziggy has a beige thing instead of his nice polkadot one seen in the photo (taken shortly before he got all the way up on the roof and started messing around on next-door's chimney pots), and Pippin has a blue camouflage one that doesn't suit her at all. I'm hoping for a nice wander round the chazzas this weekend, but will have to fit in a trip to the pet shop to find more appropriate collars for the little beasts.