Thursday, 20 August 2009


We've had some enjoyable days out over the summer holidays. One of nicest local places to visit is Southwold, which is about 30 miles from our home. Unfortunately the East Anglian roads north of Ipswich leave a lot to be desired in terms of speed from A to B and that 30 mile trip takes a good [or should that be "bad"] hour. However it is worth the tedious drive behind drivers who we assume have never dared ventured beyond 3rd gear.

Southwold is a delightful and genteel resort on the Suffolk coast. Nothing is brash or garish, just a beautiful restored pier selling tasteful sounvenirs, gaily painted beachhuts lining a promenade behind a sandy beach and a photogenic white lighthouse.
Here are two photos taken from the pier [click on them to enlarge] - the first photo is looking south towards the town:

the second photo is looking north over beach huts and the beach:

Here is a view from the southern part of the beach looking back towards the pier:

In one of the estate agent's windows we saw a beach hut advertised for sale by sealed bids with a guide price of £50,000. Further down the coast at Walton and Clacton they can't shift them at £5,000! Mind you, £50k for a wooden hut with no running water ain't cheap is it?

Southwold is a delightful place for a day out or even a weekend away. Unfortunately it is well off the beaten track unless you happen to live in East Anglia so for those of you who don't, I hope you enjoy the photos.

By this stage though you are probably wondering why the header to this post refers to "going to pieces"? Well, as we wandered through the town passed the lighthouse I saw a sign on a church hall "The world's largest commercial jigsaw puzzle - 24,000 pieces". Intrigued we went inside to have a look. Earlier this year they assembled this enormous jigsaw puzzle measuring about 14ft by 5ft. Apparently they did it in a record time and will be officially in the Guinness Book of Records. The jigsaw puzzle was only on view for two days so we were fortunate to call by at the right time. Here is a photo of the jigsaw puzzle:

The photo doesn't do justice to the detail and vivid colours. As it is a commercial jigsaw puzzle you could buy one yourself to make up - if you had both the space, a large enough table and a phenomenal amount of patience. Here's a link if you fancy buying it (for US$280) and that link has a much better photo of the jigsaw puzzle on it.

Friday, 7 August 2009


It has been quite a few years now since I first took the plunge. It was in Stansted Airport. I was wandering around WH Smith bookshop looking for something new to read (which is just as well as they don't sell used books!). You can tell how long ago it was by the fact that the book I had in mind wasn't at that stage in the adult book section but was instead just in the kiddies section. And it had a very childish looking cover. However I was intrigued so I picked it up and took it to the pay counter. I must have looked a trifle uncomfortable buying a children's book. The person serving me looked at me and said "you'll enjoy that, its a great read". So, before all the hysteria and hype, I read my first Harry Potter book. And I was hooked!

So why am I writing this now? Well I've just spent a thoroughly enjoyable few days rereading the Harry Potter 6 and 7 novels. I've enjoyed them more the second time of reading than the first - and I really enjoyed them the first time round. I was prompted to reread them after reading film reviews of the latest Harry Potter film. Despite being a great fan of the books I've only seen one of the films (the first one) and I was disappointed with it. The magical fantasies and wizardry images that seem so real and believable inside one's mind whilst reading the books instead seem rather ridiculous on the big screen. Is it just me? I can imagine someone flying on a broomstick or doing magic with a wand quite sensibly in my head but on the screen it just looks well...rather ridiculous.

But back to the books. I cannot praise too highly the cleverness and complexity of the plot and how everything fits so neatly together over 3,000 pages and 7 novels. I just sit back in total wonder and amazement at how JK Rowling can have ever been so inspired as to create this story. The characters, the imagery, the humour, the drama, the whole magical world that is Harry Potter.

You may be wondering why I just reread HP 6 and 7 rather than start again at the beginning. Well having read the film reviews I was tempted to go along and see the new film of the 6th novel so I thought that before going along I would reread the book of that film. Having got quickly through book 6 I just had to go on and reread book 7. Previously, on first reading them I had had to wait a full year between those two books. Perhaps reading them back-to-back is the reason for my even greater enjoyment the second time round?

Having read them again and finally this morning putting down HP7 on completion, I realised that there was no way that I could spoil the fantastic imagery I had in my head by going to see the film.

If you are Harry Potter fans I'd really like your take on how you think the books and films compare. I'm interested to know if my regular readers are fans or whether the whole thing leaves any of you cold. And finally, if despite the hype and hysteria over the years, you've never read the books then I do thoroughly recommend them to you. There is a world of difference from the earlier books to the later ones but together they make up a story that is truly in a class of its own.