Monday, 30 December 2013

Pen and Ink Panorama

This is possibly my favourite view in Aberdeen. The Denburn valley, looking towards the rear of Belmont Street over Union Terrace Gardens.

Such a wonderful variety of buildings, reminds me of Edinburgh's Old Town. The Denburn valley used to be a river (the Den Burn or stream). C18th development created high level streets on bridges, so the top parts of the buildings are posh shops and the lower parts storage and warehousing. The burn was taken underground and replaced by the railway in the C19th and that was replaced by a road in the 1960s. Later, one side of the bridge on the right was built over with a shopping centre, destroying the view and reducing all underneath to stygian gloom. Aberdeen town planners, you did it again. I am hoping that the latest brainwave, to fill in the Victorian park and valley with a state of the art modern centre won't go ahead, as it would cut at two or three bottom floors off what you can see here, as well as destroying a lovely and much needed green space in the city centre. Anyway, we all know about that one.

I was struggling to get the buildings in the right order, with only fragmentary views to work from, so I had to do a bit of cut and paste here also. I don't think it detracts from it too much.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Blog Biog

My reading project for 2014 takes me out of my comfort zone. A biography/autobiography/book of letters/diary a month on famous or inspirational women.

I always associate biography with either huge, self aggrandising tomes, celebrity memoirs of people I have never heard of or gung-ho war stories. None of which I like. Also no agony memoirs. What kind of sick person reads those anyway?

I have sometimes tried to read books in this vein, but my last attempt was Churchill's autobiography which moved at a snails pace and has about a million volumes. I did, however, enjoy some of Antonia Fraser's biographies, especially the one on the six wives of Henry VIII.

I'm not sure what I am looking for though, which will make this an interesting experiment. I want things which are an entertaining read, but moving and worthwhile too.

Suggestions to start me off appreciated although I may be browsing my local library section too.

Friday, 20 December 2013

In Traffic Jams

I am often stuck in traffic on my way to work. Which can get me angry and frustrated. But then I try to relax and look around. (Put handbrake and neutral on first, I did once roll into someones bumper while looking at a winnebago...)

This week, I was mostly stuck outside this lovely building. Angusfield House was built in 1904 as a home, then became a school in the 1930s and then a residential home.

The house is unusual for Aberdeen in that its style is a very chunky and muscular Queen Anne, on a very grand scale. Most of Aberdeen is Classical or Gothic.

I also loved the Christmassy look of the lit windows which reminded me of an advent calender.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Book of the month December

Book of December is the novel A Thousand  Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.

I won't go into too much detail here as this book is so widely known and admired. It is a story of women living in Afghanistan at the time of  the overthrow of the Soviet backed regime by the Mujjahadeen. Or however you spell it.

The book is very exciting, unbearably moving, enraging and fascinating in terms of understanding these thorny  political issues.

An interesting counterpoint to Homeland which I read earlier.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

This Year in Review

This year has been, or felt like, quite a full year.

Important things happened such as my brother Tim marrying the lovely Maria. We went to their wonderful wedding in St Louis, followed by a week in the fascinating city of Chicago. My Mum also got married to her partner, who is a terrific bloke and this is very happy news.

Personally, I had a year of some achievement. I ran a 10k for the first time, learned how to use a sewing machine (running up three skirts and a dress) and started selling prints of my watercolour paintings.

On the minus side, I came down with a horrible chest infection which re-started my asthma. However, this is improving and I hope to be doing some proper running again next year, with races.

Work-wise, one of the stately homes where I work was restored and re-opened to the public after many years of closure and deterioration, which was fantastic. It made the years of creeping round a dark, freezing building with a two-way radio worthwhile!

Projects... I am still blogging and painting and reading, as well as sewing and knitting. Book recommendations always appreciated.

I think next year will be a year of re-think. A re-boot maybe. It's also my Fortieth...