Monday, 30 December 2013

E-Readers & Libraries

Gosh, another blog entry!  They're coming in thick & fast now. Can you tell I'm not back at work yet?

We used to open the libraries between Boxing day & New Years Eve, but now we don't. Basically, we are down to so few staff, it's cheaper to give the libraries the same time off as the rest of the council, and save on heating costs.

It will mean a hugely busy day when we open, though!

Which brings me on to e-readers. Although quite a few of the library staff have Kindles & Kobos, I have resisted.
But I've always thought the often heard phrase that e-readers will be the death of libraries is flawed, on the basis that if that was the case, charity shop books would have had the same effect years ago.

True, we get people coming in saying they don't use the library now they have a Kindle. But we also get more and more saying they can't afford to buy e-books, and they are very easy to click and buy, and are returning to the library.

Yes, there are hundreds of titles to download on Amazon for 99p, but those 99p's quickly add up when you read two or three books a week. Some of our library customers get through more than that, and they want the new releases. The best selling titles by their favourite authors, and they won't get them any cheaper than the hardback version.

A while back we had a power cut that lasted two days. (Amazingly we haven't had any during the recent storms). I mentioned to my other half that I could see the advantage of the Kindle paperwhite, with it's backlight. As long as it's charged, reading in the dark is no problem.






Turn That Light Off!



He offered to buy me one, and I grabbed the opportunity.

So here are my thoughts.


Yes, it's easy to read the larger print with the good light that is effective in sunlight as well as indoors. I've got a case that automatically turns it off when I close it, and finds my place when I open it.

As a friend of mine said, it's easy to read while you're eating or drinking. You don't have a fiddly page to turn, just a touch of the screen.

But I like to see how thick a book is before I start, and have a quick scan through. I'm not too keen on dialogue written in regional dialects, etc. For that reason I still find it much easier to look for a book I would enjoy by scanning the library shelves. My colleagues have agreed with me here.

It's also nice to read a book then pass it on. Easy with a real book. Not quite legal with a Kindle, if you see what I mean!
(Easier with other e-readers, though)

Our library service has been looking into offering e-books to download free for a while. They download on your e-reader and are automatically removed after the 3 week loan. There is a limit to how many copies are available to download, just like real library books. This will be a free service, but it's not happened yet.
However, once I had my Kindle I logged in to my parents library service, registered, got e-mailed my card number and easily got on to their e-reader catalogue, which was great!

There was a long list of e-readers compatible with it. Lots and lots....I didn't know there were so many.

No Kindle, though!


Kindle belongs at a book selling company. They don't want you reading the latest best sellers for free! Strangely Kobo, which is owned by W.H.Smith, has no such restrictions.

I wish I had known this before I bought it, but still. I have downloaded some freebies, but I would just say they're OK when you don't have much else to read.

But what I do like is sitting in front of my stove, with just the lights from the flames and the Christmas tree, while the wind blows and rain hits the window, reading from the light of the Kindle.






And while we still get people telling us there won't be libraries in the future, we just remind them. Libraries were built to provide free reading. Now they also provide free Internet for those who cannot afford it at home. In the small branch I work in we have free reading groups, singing groups, art groups, knitting groups, coffee mornings, free help with the new on line benefit system....plus additional events held throughout the year like author visits and fund-raising tea parties.
I would recommend checking out your local library service online and see what you can get, free!

ps I like a bit of British crime & have just finished The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith (J.K Rowling).
It's a good read!





Saturday, 28 December 2013

Brighstone Downs

The Isle of Wight is diamond-shaped. Running from the left tip to the middle is a ridge of chalk hills, known as the Back of the Wight. The nearest to me is Brighstone Downs, less than 10 minutes drive away.

I fancied a good, brisk walk today, and so it was there I went.




 It was lovely and sunny climbing up. One of those walks when I wished I had a little dog running along.



This is the view looking south....

 









 and to the east...the village of Brighstone lies below the Downs.














At the top I can see the Longstone, and a lovely old barn that I can remember from my childhood visits to the island years ago. Amazingly, it's still a barn and not a luxury holiday home conversion.









A glimpse through Brighstone Forest, looking north, and the Solent with the mainland in the distance.











The highest point, from the top of a medieval barrow.






Suddenly a mass of dark cloud came in from the west. This is the Needles, the most western tip of the island.






 Just time to take a few pictures of the north-westerly edge of the Island







 Then back down the hill again, I managed to get to the car park as big drops of rain started to fall and the wind picked up. It's a lovely place to walk. The photos make it look like I was the only one there, but there were quite a few walkers with very excited dogs, probably free to get out in the short-lived sun for a change.

Back home for a coffee and hot turkey baguette!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Hagar

This is Hagar, my neighbour's young cat. He runs everywhere. He leaps through the cat flap, scoffs all the cat food and leaps out again.
Sometimes he grabs Kitty by the neck in very rough play, gets hissed at and shouted at, and runs off again.

My cats gaze in awe or disinterest at the Christmas tree. Not Hagar.
He runs in, swipes at the lower baubles, bashes them across the room then runs out again.

This morning I caught him having a rare snooze in front of our stove. Not for long, though. Those dangling baubles were just too much temptation.





Friday, 13 December 2013

Winchester Christmas Market

I love a Christmas market!
Here's some photos from Winchester.








Jane Austin is buried in the cathedral
























I only get a couple of ornaments,but it was lovely just wandering round having a look.





Monday, 9 December 2013

Christmas Decorations - tasteful or tacky?

At this time of year you can't help coming across photos of other people's beautiful decorations. A real tree, holly, ivy, fir cones, things made from them and twinkling with tiny, white lights.
How traditional and tastful it all looks! How creative some people are with what nature offers. Bring it all indoors, in the spirit of the season!

With that in mind, I attempted to make the most basic of traditional decorations, the Christmas Wreath.


Smudge was present to offer advice.
























I used twigs of fir and bay leaves, then went on the hunt for holly. I couldn't find any, so after lunch I walked along the lanes in the hope of finding some red berries.
What has happened to all the red berries round here? Surely the birds haven't had them all?
Eventually I found the odd rose hip, some ivy berries and oak apples. I also got some teasles for another naturally tasteful display.








I didn't have a nice, red ribbon so a silver one had to do.



Looks OK, tied together with bronze ribbons.

What did Smudge think?



"She's doing something stupid, again."




So, I quite enjoyed myself messing about in the winter sunshine. There's even some roses coming out......






But I have to admit, I do like a bit of colour and tinsel. Here are two of my favourite Christmas decorations....



This lovely robin I bought from our library craft fare last year , 



It's obvious why I love this over-sized bauble! Just couldn't resist! My tree is overloaded with colour and shiny things, and this year I even have Santa and his reindeer lighting up the window!

It's all about Christmas, whatever your taste.



Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Feline Friends ?

My cats are all strays, different ages and from very different backgrounds. Kitty and Smudge were obviously unwanted pets. After all they have been through, they still kept their trust of people.

Some people.

Rolly was most likely one of a group of well cared for farm cats from the farm up the road, while Whiskers was pure feral, wild and untrusting, competitive and sometimes aggressive to the others.

This is as close as the boys get, the first feed of the day. Kitty has hers well away from the boys.




They don't snuggle up together. In fact, they all have different sleeping areas, and won't even share the settee. They are possessive about their beds, and if another cat 'contaminates' them by trespassing, that's that. The bed is no good any more unless the imposter's smell is removed by the washing machine.

One bed is an exception, however. It's a small, tartan, oval cushion on one end of our long kitchen table.

(Yes, it's on the table. Those with a nervous fear of infection by cat germs look away now. The table is long. There are only two humans living here. We only need one half of the table. The cushion rests at the other end, next to the window and gaining warmth from a heater beneath the table.)

Whiskers loves to sleep on the cushion in the winter, when the heater is on. Kitty sleeps on it during the night. Rolly sleeps on it when the sun shines through the window and he doesn't feel like going out.

It is the only thing in the house the cats will happily share, and this morning it was vacant. I turned round, and there was Smudge, giving it a go for the first time.
Out of all the cats, Smudge has the most comfy and large bed of his own, but he wanted to try the cushion for a while. Not long. Not even long enough for Whiskers to notice. But long enough for this photo.





He's been living with us for six months now. We've had notice that the derelict holiday centre over the road, where he was struggling to survive, is to be demolished soon and a new one built in it's place, complete with restaurant, indoor pool and gym. 
I'm so glad I caught him when I did, and he's such a content and peaceful addition to the clan.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

October Roses

My lovely pink rose bush flowers all through summer, then I cut off all the dying blooms and another load of buds appears, but with October being so mild, the blooms seem to have lasted longer than ever this year.
What a welcome sight just outside my door!



Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Sunny Days!

At this time of the year, you have to make the most of every warm and sunny day, and luckily for me I am not at work this week, so have been making the most of long, unseasonally warm Autumn walks.
I love the colours this season creates, and so much I would like to take home with me.....


Like this bouquet of berries...

and these.....









and maybe this....



and a couple of these......



not to mention, this....


or these Canada geese that flew over....


Thank goodness for photographs, so we can bring the outdoors in.

Views from the top of Samber Hill, just behind my house...

 My house in the distance



 Looking West




Looking East



On the whole, a lovely, sunny, Autumn day.....







And another little Autumn scene I made for a customer... a little, wooden wall plaque of a Wren





The sun we had today wasn't forcast last night. Let's hope they don't forcast it again, tomorrow!