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This LJ blog now contains mostly ramblings on life, the world and everything.  I aim to post five times a fortnight.

My fics can be found here The Small Hobbit on AO3 and currently major on Sherlock (BBC), Sherlock Holmes (ACD canon) and Lewis (TV).  My other popular fandoms include Spooks (MI5) and Robin Hood (BBC).

New Activities/Writing - Month Six

There will be new activities, but they won't be until the end of the month when we're going to Budapest.  Expect lots of photos at the beginning of November!

So this is basically a writing post with promise of photos to come!

Posted, but waiting for reveal are Choose Your Own Adventure, [community profile] stageoffools and [personal profile] spook_me 

New writing includes [community profile] story_works picture prompts, for which I took five pictures and wove them into a werewolf!Lucas Spooks story: How To Wind Up Harry Pearce In Five Easy Lessons[community profile] watsons_woes is having a Spooktacular with a prompt a week, which I'm writing as a chaptered fic, Sally Donovan (BBC Sherlock)/Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, Hopkins as ghosts (ACD Holmes) The 120 Year Old Mystery which will be completed this coming week.  And continuing the Spooky theme [community profile] whatif_au are having their annual Supernatural challenge, for which I wrote The Ghostly Brothers Meredith.  (Sherlock BBC)

I've written two double drabbles for [community profile] lewis_challenge Fright Fest, but they aren't posted yet,  similarly the double drabble for [community profile] hp_halloween  In addition, I've been watching ITV's Sanditon and was moved to write a couple of drabbles: Disapporbation and Loyalties.  And lastly, not particularly new writing, but I do have a soft spot for Tigger Holmes Tigger Holmes and the Case of the Ruby Slippers.


Completing the Feel Good badge

Last week the unit leader had a family engagement, which left me to run the activity.  We were looking at the idea of personal space and how it was important to keep one's personal space.  So the Brownies took it in turns with small groups of moving up to each other and when they got within the personal space of the other Brownie she would say 'Pop' as her personal bubble was broken and then they'd swap over.  The final activity involved them again in their small groups filling up a 'waiting room' with two rows of chairs pushed close together.  Many of them agreed how it made them feel uncomfortable being forced to sit close to each other.  I was particularly pleased as one of the younger girls was able to say that no only was it important to maintain your own personal space, but that you should be careful about pushing your way into someone else's.

This week, The Daughter (TD) had come down for a few days, as she was doing a C1 driving course (she passed her test this morning).  So I persuaded her to come to Brownies with me.  We looked at the skills builder for the week, which none of us were that impressed with and she made some suggestions.  The unit leader asked her if she'd like to lead some of it, and TD said yes, she'd do it.  The leader assured her she didn't have to, but she was quite happy, looked at what was required and once the meeting was underway got the Brownies organised.  They took to her immediately, and really enjoyed the whole activity, including the two games she ran at the end.

All of which meant we could take a step back and watch what was happening.  That way we could assess who was joining in and whether there were any particular issues without being actively involved in getting them to do things.  One girl, who we have had problems with, was basically 'I'm not doing things with them if they don't do it my way', and we were able to see the others in her six trying to get her involved.  That attitude won't get her very far.  On the plus side, our newest girl, who is deaf, was joining in even more this week and clearly very happy.

TD is a natural with the girls, and because the topic was based around being active, it suited her ideally.  As her mother, I was delighted with how well it went, and wish I had her abilities!

All the girls who had been every week this term finished their Feel Good badge.





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I shall have finished two FutureLearn courses next week, so I will post about them then, but in the meantime I've reached the halfway point in my cross stitch, and I felt that deserved a post to itself!

I'm quite impressed with how fast I've been progressing recently.  There's no guarantee this will continue, and we're away for a week at the end of the month so nothing will be done then, but now I can be reasonably hopeful I shall finish before the end of next year.

cross stitchCollapse )


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Half Year Goal Report

There hasn't seemed much reason to write goal updates this year, but since I'm six months in, I suppose it won't hurt.

Goal No 1 - Continue to write all the things

I've been pleased with the way this has been going.  I shall be doing October's summary in the next couple of weeks, but in the meantime I'm delighted to say I've earned my 121st badge with [community profile] fan_flashworks and with that all the badges I particularly wanted to work for.  Also, my word count has gone back up, so I should hit the 150,000 for the year, which at one point I thought I wouldn't make.  At the end of September I was just over 117,500, so 5,000 in hand.


Goal No 2 - Actually do some artwork

Much as I'd love to, my brain is such that if there isn't a time regularly scheduled in, it's just not going to happen.  I tried saying I'd do a quick drawing at weekends when I had nothing else booked, but that time tends to get swallowed by writing.  (Or Brownie preparation etc etc).  Doing a class would possibly be the answer, but there's no way I want any more regular commitments at the moment either.  I feel slightly frustrated, but maybe I'll come up with an idea for next year.


Goal No 3 - Write two progress blogs each month

This has been a success.  I've found it helpful to record the courses I've been following in FutureLearn, as well as posting pics of my cross stitch.  As with many things, writing about them gives me the opportunity to look back and see how far I've come.  As expected, there have been less specifically new things, although we continue to visit new places which all counts.


So, onwards and upwards!

Theatre Roundup 2018/19

I won't be going to any more plays until next month, so here is my annual theatre roundup:

Nov 2018   Troilus and Cressida   Royal Shakespeare Theatre     
Nov 2018   Aladdin   Prince Edward Theatre
Nov 2018   The Wipers Times   Arts Theatre
Nov 2018   War Horse   Lyttelton Theatre (National)
Dec 2018   Swan Lake (Matthew Bourne)   Sadler’s Wells
Dec 2018   Pinter 5 (The Room; Victoria Station; Family Voices)   Pinter Theatre   (Rupert Graves)
Jan 2019   Caroline or Change   Playhouse Theatre
Jan 2019   Violet   Charing Cross Theatre
Feb 2019   Timon of Athens   Royal Shakespeare Theatre – The Swan Theatre
Feb 2019   La Boheme  Coliseum (English National Opera)
Feb 2019   Company   Gielgud Theatre
Jun 2019   Joseph & His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat   Palladium
July 2019   The Provoked Wife   Royal Shakespeare Theatre – Swan Theatre   (Jonathan Slinger)
July 2019   Present Laughter   Old Vic   (Andrew Scott)
July 2019   Rutherford and Son   Lyttelton Theatre (National)   (Sam Troughton, Roger Allam)
Aug 2019   Blues in the Night   Kiln Theatre   (Sharon D Clarke)
Aug 2019   The Night of the Iguana   Noel Coward Theatre
Aug 2019   Bitter Wheat   Garrick Theatre
Aug 2019   Romeo & Juliet (Matthew Bourne)   Sadler’s Wells

Only 19 productions this year, which is down on my usual total.  And quite often I've seen more than one thing in a weekend, making the most of the opportunity.

Two Shakespeare plays, both ones I hadn't seen before, so added to my list.  Only two more to go.  I suppose Romeo & Juliet could be included within the Shakespeare list as well.  Around one-quarter were new plays.

As usual most of the plays were in London - I went to four theatres I'd not been to before - and the other three were in Stratford.  I hadn't realised we hadn't been to anything locally this year.  I've been able to see some of my favourite actors again, including Andrew Scott and also saw Rupert Graves on the stage for the first time (hooray!)

Looking at the list, my favourites would be Romeo & Juliet (amazing ballet), Present Laughter (an awesome Andrew Scott) and Rutherford and Son (fascinating plot, great scenery, excellent acting).

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Brownies Be Well

We're continuing to work hard on the Brownies Be Well theme, with the intention those who come every week will be entitled to their badge at the end of term - we're allowing a couple of weeks for different activities.

Last week we began with 'Strike a Pose' which aims to show how body language is important.  So if you adopt a confident stance you will feel more confident.  It worked to a point, with the individual girls acting a set emotion which had to be guessed by another girl.  Some of the emotions were quite similar, so we did our normal 'making helpful suggestions' especially for the quieter, shyer Brownies.  After which they learnt how best to approach a dog and how to show a dog you don't wish to play with it.  They enjoyed taking it in turns to be dogs.

This week was 'Build it with Food' which showed which nutrients were needed to build a healthy body.  Whilst they knew some of them, items like magnesium were completely beyond many of them.  After which they did some boxing moves.  Flamingo, ex-army, gave a very clear demonstration.  I started to join in, but I'm a southpaw and they were using their right arms, so it would only be confusing.

We do a combination of Skills Builders and Unit Meeting Activities.  The Skills Builders are set at two levels for Brownies, and we do Level 3 which is why body language and food nutrients were probably above our youngest girls.  Theoretically we should run both levels, but that's impossible with 24 Brownies and 3 leaders.

But the girls continue to enjoy themselves so they must be getting something from it.

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The Meme I Do Every Year

I've done this meme for the last three years, so I thought I'd do it again.  I've included the figures for 206-2018 in brackets for comparison.

Total works to date (this is 13 months after the last time I did it) 825 [692, 543, 400].

What's your first and second most common work rating?
General: 532 [430, 320, 223]
Teen & Up: 290 [259, 217, 171]
Nothing's changed there.

How many fics have you written in each relationship category?
Gen: 422 [346, 264, 191]
M/M: 368 [315, 247, 181]
F/M: 38 [33, 30, 25]
Other: 3 [3, 2, 2]
F/F: 1 [1, 1, 0]
Again this year there are slightly more Gen, but often my characters could be in a relationship but that isn't relevant to the plot.

What are your top four fandoms by number?
Sherlock (BBC): 215 [192, 176, 156]
Sherlock Holmes (ACD): 212 [173, 121, 79]
Spooks: 109 [87, 60, 32]
Lewis: 60 [54, 48,45]
Still waiting for ACD Holmes to exceed BBC Sherlock.  I am trying to broaden my writing, but at the same time it can be easier to work within a known fandom when tackling a different genre.

Who are your top six characters?
Sherlock Holmes: 339 [290, 234, 184]  (ACD 172, BBC 167)
John Watson: 316 [267, 217,167]  (ACD 172, BBC 144)
(Greg) Lestrade: 209 [187, 172, 147]  (ACD 56, BBC 154)
Lucas North: 107 [85, 59, ?]
Stanley Hopkins: 88 [76, 61, ?]  (ACD 48, BBC 40)
Mrs Hudson: 86 [75, 60, 49]  (ACD 52, BBC 34)
This year I decided to include the breakdown between the two Sherlock Holmes fandoms.  So technically my top two characters are tied in being ACD Holmes and Watson, followed by their BBC counterparts with Lestrade coming between Sherlock and John.

And top six relationships?
Adam Carter/Lucas North: 62 [51, 29, ?]
Sherlock Holmes/John Watson: 56 [47, 37, 25]  (ACD 40, BBC 16)
Sherlock Holmes/Stanley Hopkins: 42 [34, 28, 18]  (ACD 8, BBC 34)
John Watson/(Greg) Lestrade: 33 [32, 32]  (ACD 12, BBC 21)
Bilbo Baggins/Thorin Oakenshield: 27 [23, ?, ?]
Guy of Gisborne/Much: 25 [25, 20, ?]
Probably the most interesting answer and one which shows clearly my lack of interest in writing relationship fics.  Adam and Lucas I adore together.  Holmes and Watson are very much a retirement era couple, although in case fics they may be in a relationship I don't write about it.  And Sherlock and Stanley relies on my own interpretation of Stanley Hopkins based on the ACD version, before BBC introduced Stella Hopkins.



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Book Review Year 5 No 8

I've read a number of books in the last couple of months, of varying depths.

Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

The third in the Industrial Revolution Discworld series.  A work colleague passed this onto me.  It was okay, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the others in the series.  Maybe because it's not set in Ankh-Morpokh so there's much more world building, rather than colouring of the world which has already been built.  There's very little interplay with established characters, which for me is one of the joys of the Discworld books.


A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

This was a book I'd been meaning to read for some time and finally got around to it.  It's set during the Italian campaigns in WWI, and based on Hemingway's own experiences.  I had high hopes of it, but was not impressed.  The central character Frederic Henry is incredibly self-centred, very little about the war is mentioned, and I finished it simply because I was determined to do so and it had to go back to the library.


Aunt Dimity, Vampire Hunter by Nancy Atherton

Continuing my summer of easy reads, this was also from the library.  I enjoyed it and thought the denouement was well done and quite thoughtful.  My only bugbear is that Lori Shepherd's five year old twins are only in school part-time, as are all their friends.  In a country where children start school as rising fives (the academic year in which they have their fifth birthday), why is no-one in the typical Cotwold village querying this?


The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards

A history of the foundation of the Detection Club in 1930, by the authors who were known as the writers of the Golden Age: Anthony Berkeley  and Dorothy L Sayers, together with Agatha Christie.  [personal profile] stonepicnicking_okapi mentioned it to me, saying she'd skipped the bits about authors she didn't recognise.  I found it rather tedious and overlong, and far too fawning about the founders.  I'd have liked to learn a bit more about some of the other authors, who I'd come across elsewhere, but they seemed to have managed to keep their private lives rather more to themselves.  I battled through it and returned it to the library.


Colour Scheme by Ngaio Marsh

Inevitably, having reserved a number of books they all arrived at once.  I enjoyed this book, featuring Roderick Alleyn, and thought the solution clever.  However, it was based on a completely erroneous premise which rather spoiled it.


Motives for Murder by various authors

I sometimes read anthologies of short stories by the Golden Age authors, and feel that a number of them could be improved on.  So I was interested to find in the library a recent anthology of similar stories published in 2016.  Like the earlier anthologies, there were some good stories, and some which I wasn't convinced by.  I would certainly say the overall standard hasn't changed.


The Lie by Helen Dunbar

Recommended by byslantedlight and set just after WWI, it's the story of a young man who returns from the war clearly suffering from shell shock.  He tries to rebuild his life just outside the village he had lived in before he'd gone to war, but one event (key to the plot) has a significant result.  Daniel's descriptions of both the actions in the war and how he tries to cope afterwards are beautifully written.  Inevitably sad, it's a book I would recommend.


Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh

This was the book I managed to walk out of the library with, through the detectors and take home, only to realise the system hadn't checked it out.  (I took it and The Lie out at the same time.)  Apparently books in the community libraries don't have the relevant magnetic strip.  I enjoyed it anyway.


I've now completed my Goodreads Challenge for 2019: 42 books in total.

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Continuing Activities - Month Five

Over the past six weeks I've completed three more FutureLearn courses.  I keep telling myself to do one course at a time, but when two run which are both equally interesting I'm unable to choose.

The first was The Scottish Highland Clans: Origins, Decline and Transformation, run by Glasgow University.  It was a subject I knew nothing about and now feel a little more knowledgeable.  Interesting, but not something I expect to pursue.  This was followed by Peterloo to the Pankhursts: Radicalisation and Reform in the Nineteenth Century by Royal Holloway College.  It tied in with being 200 years after the Peterloo Massacre.  Lots of worthwhile information, and I'm glad I followed the course.  I find the lecturers from Royal Holloway hard to engage with, they're very dry, but there was someone from the Parliamentary Archives and another from the People's History Museum in Manchester, who were far better presenters.

The last course was The Living Picture Craze: An Introduction to Victorian Film by the British Film Institute (BFI).  The films themselves were interesting, but I didn't find it as inspiring as I'd hoped.  As yet I haven't managed to use the subject in a Holmes ficlet, but no doubt that will come.  But there was the wonderful opportunity of creating a playbill on behalf of the Ferret.  (Here)

I continue to cross stitch, and am now up to the halfway mark for the right hand half:

 





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