Discover my sagas and cosy crimes

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Books I read on my jollies 2015

Back from a lovely holiday overseas and here's a quick run down of the books I read while I was away.
Lynn Barber, A curious career.  I've always enjoyed journalist Lynn Barber's interviews and when I saw an unused and unread version of this book for sale in a charity shop for a song I snapped it up. I read it on the plane journey to our holiday destination. Devoured every word.  10/10.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.  This book was recommended to me by someone who described it to me in such a way that I knew it would be right up my street. I was right. I loved the story and couldn't put it down. It cracked along at a great pace.  I do hope it's made into a film. 10/10.

Please, Mister Postman by Alan Johnson. This is the 2nd instalment of Alan Johnson's autobiography, the first version I read earlier this year.  A delight. 8/10.

Despite a promising write-up on the back of the book and some decent prose inside, I gave up on this book after a few pages. It felt cliched and I wish I'd never bought it. It's gone to a charity shop already. 0/10.
I love Douglas Kennedy books - but I hate the covers. The covers of all of his books have women on the front of them that make his work look like the worst kind of chick-lit in a Mills and Boon style. His stories are immense, powerful, they race along at a great pace and you can't wait to turn the page.  Why his publisher keeps insisting on such terrible book covers, that have absolutely nothing to do with the content and the story, I'll just never understand.  Another great story from a master story-teller. 9/10.
I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Heritage pubs of Sunderland

To the Tyne and Wear Heritage Open Days event for the second time this week.  Earlier we had visited the Mayor's chamber at the local council - you can read about that here and see some pictures too. 

This time it was a vintage bus pub crawl around heritage pubs of Sunderland that we joined.  Well, as you can see from the above picture, the vintage bus didn't arrive, unless the vintage was circa 2014. A slight disappointment but nothing that would spoil the afternoon.

Dun Cow exterior

Dun Cow interior
Pub 1 - The Dun Cow (1901)
After lunch in The Dun Cow, we had a look around upstairs with our guide Ron from the Sunderland Antiquarian Society. There was a good group of approx 30 of us on the tour, a friendly mix of men and women and we were off to a good start.  Rightly listed in CAMRA's good beer guide.

Mountain Daisy exterior

Mountain Daisy interior
Pub 2 - The Mountain Daisy (1901)
A proper drinking palace, built for working men, and decorated in some style too. There are mosaic floors in the Buffet Room (which my brother uncovered in the late 1990s when my cousin ran the pub); tiled walls, and tons of stained glass including one stained glass window with a Mackem motto.  Beautiful interior and one that holds special memories for me as my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in the function room upstairs.  One of the older ladies on the tour pointed to a boarded up cupboard in the pub and told me it was the original snug. Her mother used to go in there, it seated six and was an area for women only.

Kings Arms exterior

Kings Arms interior
Pub 3 - Kings Arms (1834)
Lovely little boozer down by the river. Our tour guide had some old maps of the area which were fascinating to look at.  Another pub rightly included in the CAMRA good beer guide.

Saltgrass exterior

Saltgrass interior
Pub 4 - The Saltgrass
Another pub right on the river in what had once been the docking area for ships coming in with esparto grass which was used in Sunderland to make paper in the papermills.

Butcher's Arms exterior

The 'death house' door on the right hand side, steps leading down to the river Wear

Pub 5 - The Butcher's Arms (1724)
The oldest pub in Sunderland.  It has been called the Black Bull and the Clarendon in the past but a butcher has recently taken it over and renamed it.  Full of history but lacking in charm and the beer was rank. Our tour guide told us all about the 'death house' underneath the pub which had at one time been the Bull Lane Brewery.  The 'death house' was so called as it was used to store dead bodies found washed up in the river. It was cheaper to store the bodies on that side of the river than the other side!

Pub 6 - Hearts of Oak (1710)
This was the oldest residential building in Sunderland, which has been converted into a pub.

And then it was all over. We were taken back into the city centre on our, er, vintage bus and dropped off outside the William Jameson Weatherspoons.  Although this wasn't on our heritage tour, we popped in for a final drink as it was the home of the mighty Binns store. Gone but never forgotton.

I have uploaded tons of photos from the day to my flickr account - you can have a look here.
I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Inside the Mayor's chamber

This week is Tyne and Wear Heritage Open Days week. And in this special week, you can go and have a nosey around buildings and areas that the public usually can't get into.  Today was one of those days and it was off to the Mayor's chamber at the local council for a good neb.

It felt as if we had peeked under the curtain just like in the Wizard of Oz.  The Wizard, I mean the Mayor, was even there to meet and talk to our group, along with his good lady wife.

First stop was the Mayor's parlour, which was like a first-class airport lounge. Or, how I'd imagine a first-class airport lounge would look like. Lots of plush sofas, comfy chairs, nice things to look at, great views from the windows.  From there, an ante-room was filled with gifts from visitors but my eye was taken with these very old, very big books of minutes of Council meetings.   The photo gives no idea of scale, but those books were approx. one foot high.

Then the to the Mayor's dining room. With its 1970s chandeliers and polished silverware, it was very formal. Not my cup of tea and if I had to go for dinner there I'd be terrified of using the wrong fork.

The Mayoral robes which are as heavy as the Mayor said they would be.

And the Mayor's meeting room with obligatory signed Sunderland AFC shirts.

I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Badge of pride

All through my working life I resisted, as far as I possibly could, wearing a name badge or stringing a company pass round my neck.  I've sometimes had to tie a security pass to my waistband, but that's as far as I would allow myself to be labelled.

The paid office work I have done in the past is just something I have done. It was never, ever, what I was. 

But this... this is different. It's an honour to be doing the voluntary work I'm currently doing. And although I don't have to wear my volunteer badge while I'm doing what I'm doing, I wear it anyway, and with pride too.
I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Corrie weekly update - sitting soft with Sally

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week on Corrie,  Sally got stuck.
I'm on twitter @flaming_nora
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