caz963: (Default)
You know how, sometimes, you see or read or listen to something that really makes an impression on you? So much so that it stays with you long after you first encountered it?

Back in 1985/6, I picked up a book - completely randomly, and because I thought it sounded interesting - by a British author called Stella Riley. It was historical fiction, which is my literary drug of choice and has been since I was eleven years old - and was set during the English Civil war. It's all based on fact, and many of the characters in the book existed, although the two protagonists in the romance that runs throughout it are fictional.

Anyway. I enjoyed the book so much, that I went looking for more by this author. Sadly, I found only one other title (this time set in the Restoration) but devoured it and loved it as well. Even more disappointing was the fact that she seemed to have stopped writing altogether, which I thought was a great shame. Over the next few years, both books became "comfort" reads - you know the sort of thing; you want to read something undemanding and familiar but good so you're not disappointed in your choice, especially if you're reading something to cheer you up a bit.

Somewhere along the way however, my paperback copies of both books disappeared. I don't know when or how - I can only assume during a house move (and I did plenty of those in the early 90s - divorce has that effect!) or something similar - but I always remembered those stories fondly and more recently, would occasionally check Amazon to see if there were any second-hand copies around so I could read them again. There were copies - but they were on the pricey side. I also discovered that Stella Riley had penned another four or five books, but they were even harder to get hold of and even more expensive.

The fact that, over twenty-five years later, I would still occasionally put her name into the search box at Amazon shows what an impression her writing made on me (either that, or I'm just a saddo - take your pick!) - and imagine my joy when, earlier this year, I discovered not only that she had revised and republished one of those very titles I had lost in ebook form, The Marigold Chain, but that she was revising all her novels with the same intention!

Yes - I was one very happy Caz :D

What all this is leading up to is that today, Stella Riley has published the book that started it all off for me, which is called A Splendid Defiance. That makes four of her titles that are now available as ebooks, and she is planning to republish her remaining backlist next year.

If you like historical fiction laced with romance and adventure; if you like incredibly well-written stories that feature memorable characters and excellent dialogue - I can't recommend her novels highly enough. If you're looking for something good to read over the weekend, you could do a lot worse than check them out.

ETA I reviewed the new edition here yesterday, and today, the author has written a blog post about how it came about.


And if anyone reading this needs more convincing, Stella is a fellow West Wing fan. Nuff sed :-)
caz963: (Much Ado 3)
I've seen this around a few LJs, but I stole this particular version from [livejournal.com profile] chloris67

not too many surprises here, I suspect! )
caz963: (Eleven ACC)
Well, I confess I wasn't expecting much, so I wasn't all that disappointed.

Oh, who am I kidding - I was disappointed anyway :(

Read more... )
caz963: (Christmas twinkling stars)
Phew! So that's it for another year. I had a lovely Christmas with the family. My brother and s-i-l came up on Christmas morning and stayed over, which delighted the kids :) -much food has been cooked and eaten, and Santa brought lots of great prezzies. I now have a Kindle, thanks to Mr Caz and the kids, and today is the first chance I've had to really play with it and load it up with stuff. I've got quite a large collection of ebooks on the PC and laptop, so first of all, I had to sort out which ones are bloody DRM and then find a way to strip it off so I could convert them and then load them onto the Kindle. I've done it, but it took me a while to find a way that didn't involve paying for several different format converters. I'm only doing stuff I've already paid for, but even that's probably illegal. IDK.

We've not watched a lot of telly, so I've got a bit of a backlog on the Sky+ to catch up with! We did watch DW (more on that in another post), but I've got Downton, The Borrowers and several other things recorded, which I hope to get to this week. I completely forgot about Ab Fab on Christmas Day - but thankfully, it's on again this week, so I'll watch it them. I've never really been one to complain about repeats, so that's okay :-) I also watched the first part of Great Expectations earlier on, and thought it was pretty good. Ray Winstone as Magwitch is pretty much perfect casting and I thought Gillian Anderson was brilliant. Her portrayal of Miss Haversham as a rather ethereal creature (and the way she was lit and photographed, too) worked really well so that the signs of the steeliness and unpleasantness of her true nature underneath were excellently contrasted. Also, all credit to her for being willing to look such a fright! My one criticism so far though, is that the chap playing the lead looks a little too much like Justin Bieber (or some such teen-idol) for comfort!

So, now I'm making yummy leftover recipes and am planning to do very little for the rest of the week! I know the shops are open more or less all the time these days, but I don't like food-shopping after Christmas, so I tend to shop for the week when I do the Christmas shop.

I've not been around LJ all that much, but I know that their latest (so-called) upgrade has upset a lot of people. My membership is due in the spring, so I'll see how things go and make a decision as to whether I stay here or move permanently to DW at that point. I do already have a DW, and I use the same moniker there as here, so if you've already got one, or have recently set up a DW, do look me up and add me, or whatever the hell they call it over there!
caz963: (Christmas candle and star)
We appear to be over the worst of the lurgy (fingers crossed!)

Presents are wrapped, shopping is done, recipe books and foodie websites have been trawled for recipes and Mr Caz has worshipped at the shrine of Nigella :) (several times!)

We've gone for a Norfolk Bronze turkey this year; the butcher reckons that once we've tasted one, we'll never want anything else at Christmas. Well, yeah, he would say that because they're more expensive than 'regular' turkeys, but that view has been endorsed by many of the telly chefs we've been watching over the last couple of weeks, so what the hell!

Rather than cooking it whole this year, we're going to do a Gordon-effing-Ramsay and cook the legs and crown separately. I asked the butcher to bone the legs, which are then going to be stuffed and rolled; that should reduce the cooking time considerably. I'll probably still put some stuffing in the neck, but if there's not room, I'm going to make a stuffing "roll" - wrap it in bacon and foil and then bake it in the oven.

I also found a tip about roast potatoes in a magazine somewhere and earlier in the week, I par-boiled them, then when they were still steaming, I roughed 'em up, coated them in a mixture of seasoned flour and semolina, left them to cool and then froze them. Just to make sure they weren't going to taste horrible on Christmas day - naff roasties would ruin things, wouldn't it? - I tried some yesterday and they were fab. Lovely and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. I've done more or less the same thing with the parsnips, although they're coated in a mixture of seasoned flour and grated parmesan.

It'll be nice not to be buried in a mound of vegetable peelings on Christmas morning! Other accompaniments will be orange-glazed carrots and creamed cabbage with bacon and cream.

(Chop and fry an onion, then add about 3 or 4 chopped up rashers of smoked bacon. In a big pan or wok, add as much shredded savoy cabbage as you want, put in 6 tablespoons of water and stir fry the cabbage. When it's almost cooked, add the onions, bacon and seasoning. Add 4 or 5 tablespoons of cream (whatever you've got), stir it all in and then serve.)

Tomorrow, we'll put all the other bits of the turkey and left-over bones to good use by making a stock for the gravy.

Boxing-day menus are already in my head; they always include bubble and squeak made with leftover veg and Creamed Turkey en Croute - one of Delia's recipies that I've been making for the last 20 years. (Sadly, I can't find the recipe on line, but if anyone wants it, just holler!) I'm also going to make some spicy sweet potato rosti - I stumbled across the recipe the other day and they're lovely and incredibly simple. You need about 450g of grated sweet potato - leave it in a caulinder for about 10 mins before you use it. Then mix 60g of flour with a teaspoon of caster sugar, a teaspoon of brown sugar, a teaspoon of curry powder and a teaspoon of cumin. I'm going to double the amount of cumin I use next time and maybe add some ginger - you can do whatever you like, really. Then add 120ml of milk and an egg to the flour mixture and mix it to a batter. Add the sweet potato and mix well. Then heat some oil in a pan and put in spoonfuls of the mixture; flatten with the back of the spoon and cook until crispy. Then turn the rosti over and cook the other side.

And now I'm getting hungry. Lunch time!
caz963: (Eight)
I didn't get around to posting anything about the second of Big Finish's audios featuring Eight and Mary Shelley, so as the third has just been released, I thought I might as well kill two birds with one stone.

spoilers ahoy for both stories )

Fic help?

Dec. 15th, 2011 02:11 pm
caz963: (Donna UW)
I need to make up a reasonably authentic sounding name for a chemical which appears in the fic I'm currently writing. It's a major plot point, although it will only get one or two namechecks. I'm utterly rubbish at making up scientific gobbledeygook, so if anyone's got any ideas or knows of a comm for this sort of thing, I'd be grateful for the pointer.
caz963: (DW Ten PiC grin)
I'm poking around the internet when I should be doing other stuff. I missed this first time around, and it's hilarious.

caz963: (R2D2)
I picked up this blog post the other day from one of the people I follow on Twitter. It's by a teacher in the US, but to be honest, I got about half way through reading it before I realised the blogger wasn't talking about the way that teachers are viewed in the UK.

He/she says that some people have asked why he/she often says that teachers are used as scapegoats on which to heap the blame for all society's ills. So many of the articles I've read in the news media recently keep reinforcing this idea as we're continually fed the idea that there are too many underperforming teachers, and too many underperforming schools. No doubt there are some. But I can honestly say that in all the schools I've worked in since I qualified - and they've all been tough schools - the staff is, on the whole, incredibly hard-working and dedicated.

Add to these misconceptions that there is a new chief of Ofsted who believes that a Principal or Head is "doing something right" if someone tells them that staff morale is at an all time low - and you can't wonder at the fact that a recent survey conducted by the NASUWT stated that around 50% of teachers want out, and the only thing that's keeping them where they are is the fact that the economy has gone down the toilet and there are no jobs out there.

Woot!

Dec. 11th, 2011 12:13 am
caz963: (HH dancing romans)
Just picked up an email from Cazlet #2's flute teacher to say that she got 130 marks in her exam, which is a distinction :)

She'll be dead chuffed when we tell her in the morning.


Posted via m.livejournal.com.

caz963: (father jack)
What the hell is it with drivers and mini-roundabouts? They work the same as normal-sized roundabouts - they're just smaller!

In the 14 mile round trip to and from Tesco's this morning, I encountered no less than three idiots who clearly have no idea how to use them.

The first one not only drove over the top of the mini-roundabout when turning right at it, they cut the corner so severely, that they almost ended up hitting me as I was sitting waiting at the give-way lines. Another one just didn't bother checking whether there was any traffic coming from his right and drove straight across, completely oblivious of the fact that I had right of way and was already moving, and the third gave way to me, as he should have done, but obviously had no idea of what sort of speed I was doing (it was a tight turn so I was probably doing under 20mph) and shot out almost before I'd passed him, narrowly missing me.

(The other favourite idiocy is where someone who should have right of way just sits there waiting for something to happen - so rather than sit there all day, you have to move off before they do).

These are the times when I'm convinced that decent drivers must have some sort of a sixth sense. Incidents like this happen to me - and I'm sure to many people - every day, and I know that if it wasn't for the fact that at least I've got my wits about me, I'd have been involved in loads accidents by now,

Now, I'll readily admit I'm not someone who takes a great deal of notice of speed limits sometimes, and I don't always give the smoothest of rides to my passangers. I have no problem with the proposal to increase the speed limit on motorways. But ALL the problems I experienced today happened because people were driving too fast. Mini-roundabouts are just that - mini! And often, they're in truly stupid places; there's one I navigate regularly at a junction where the road actually narrows around the roundabout, so there's not much room for manouevre and to turn right, you almost have to be on a right-hand lock. But it's perfectly simple to do if you're doing the right speed.

Grrrrr...
caz963: (CJ oh no)
[Error: unknown template qotd]

To be honest, I'm not 100% sure. And these days, people can be allergic to so many things, that it's almost impossible to find out without incredibly extensive testing!

atchoooo! )
caz963: (ten donna library)
It's been ages since I committed fic!

Disclaimers: Not mine. Auntie’s. Although if David Tennant wants to come round to argue the point, I’d have no objections!

Characters: Tenth Doctor, Donna Noble

Rating: PG

Category: Introspection, missing scenes, angst, large dollops of UST and a bit of romance.

Spoilers: Set throughout S4, so it’s full of ‘em if you haven’t seen it! (Plus the odd, tiny reference to a couple of my own fics)

A/N: I can’t lay claim to any recognisable dialogue – that’s down to people far more talented than I.

Believe it or not, this was actually the first Ten and Donna fic I ever started to write, so it's had a gestation period somewhat akin to that of an elephant!

Unbetaed, but with grateful thanks to [livejournal.com profile] canterlevi for her continual encouragement. As usual, I proof-read myself, so any mistakes are mine.

What is it about them and kitchens?
caz963: (belle)
Cazlet #2 did her flute exam today. She said it went "perfectly" and wanted to go back in and do it all over again, which I suppose is a good thing!

Results in 10-14 days, but I know she's passed. I'll be surprised if she doesn't get a merit (120/150) at the very least, and I'm expecting a distinction! (130/150)
caz963: (Fringe - Peter red)
Fringe question )
caz963: (Grammar)
An entry by someone on my f-list reminded me that I wanted to post something about the public sector workers' strike that's taking place on Wednesday this week.
On the soap-box )
caz963: (Autumn misty bench)
I think this is the first time for about the last six years, that I feel as though Christmas isn't creeping up on me. Usually, there's so much to do at school, that I seem to live from week to week by numbers, rather than actually realising the date so that it's suddenly the end of term and Christmas is just a few days away.

But not being at work right now means I've had time to do stuff at a more leisurely pace, like making the cake, puddings, mincemeat and various pickles. I've actually enjoyed doing it all rather than seen it as something I need to get done NOW or I won't have the time to do it at all.

There is, however, one thing I still have to do and I want to pick the brains of my super-intelligent f-list. Christmas cards. I said last year that I really would rather stop sending cards to people just for the sake of it - and come on, we all do it, send cards to people we don't otherwise think about all year! - and give the money I'd have spent on the cards and postage (plus a bit) to charity.

I'd still send a card to close family and friends, but I really want to cut down on the rest. For one thing, writing makes my RSI flare up, and for another, it's so bloody time-consuming.

But how do I go about this? I know that some of the people on my list have an email address, so I could send an ecard and then explain that I'm donating money instead, but what about those that don't, or whose addys I don't know? Or am I just being an enormous Humbug! and should just shut up and get on with it?

Any ideas?
caz963: (Autumn misty bench)
Yeah, I'm fiddling about with my layout again, and no, it's not finished yet, so I know it looks a bit odd.

But I'm too tired to fiddle with any more CSS tonight :(
caz963: (Autumn asters and butterfly)
Bonjour - je suis revenue de France!

there are some big pictures under here! )
caz963: (DW allons-y)
Je vais voyager en France à demain :-)

I have to get up at stupid o'clock in the morning, but I'd rather that than get stuck queueing to get over the Dartford Bridge - and I'll have time for a quick nap once we're on the Eurotunnel train.

Behave yourselves while I'm gone. À bientôt!

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