Holiday Reading ’09

23 08 2009

It’s been quiet because I’ve been on holiday and the Internet connection I thought the hotel had was knackered. I don’t think it did me any harm. There won’t be any travelogue style blogs after this trip because it was largely about having a rest and so I rarely went further than the pool or the gym.

For me that means reading. I got through these books:

Why does E=MC²? By Brian Cox & Jeff Forsham
The Reader By Bernhard Schlink and translated by Carol Brown Janeway
Outliers By Malcolm Gladwell
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Tales by H.P.Lovecraft (Ed. S.T.Joshi)
Public Enemies by Bryan Burrough

And I’m currently chowing down on Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts.

Reviews will percolate out over the next week or so.

What’s your summer reading?


11 08 2009

Last night I tried the Cayenne Pepper home remedy for sore throats.

The idea is pretty simple: boil some water, add a teaspoon of Cayenne pepper, gargle and repeat. Lots of people online claim this has worked, although I noted just before starting that all negative reports were dismissed as not having stuck with it for long enough – not a particularly scientific rebuttal.

The resulting broth is not the most inviting.

I gargled this for as long as I could stomach it and can report that mild tingling of the tongue is probably understating the effect of the Cayenne – if you don’t like spice don’t try this. Also: closing of eyes while gargling is pretty much essential as only a small amount in the eye produces a lot of discomfort. I speak from experience. It goes without saying the taste is vile.

After effects: aside from the eye not a great deal. As I stumbled through the kitchen, clutching my former optic nerves, it did occur to me that perhaps the cure involved a worse injury to distract from the soreness of the throat. The gargling helped remove the gunk from my throat but, to be honest, hot water on its own will do this – if gargled – and so I couldn’t say I noticed a difference. My chilli seemed to have more of an effect.

Anyway, I repeated the experiment this morning, just to be sure, and it just made me feel ill.

Tonight I will be trying Soy Sauce and Lime.

Don’t try this at home…

10 08 2009

I still have a lingering head cold/sore throat.

No, it’s not swine flu: I have no fever and nothing aches except my throat. However I am finding it all rather tiresome now and with my holiday fast approaching I don’t really want to go to spend my week off feeling like some one is ice skating down my throat.

And so, for your delectation and amusement, I shall be trying a natural remedy each day until this thing goes and report the results here.

First up, in a few hours, the Cayenne pepper gargle.

I will probably regret this.

Sunny afternoon

8 08 2009

Long time no blog.

It all got a little bit frantic around chez Beynon. What have I been up to?

Well, last weekend was spent in Wales with family. I’ve been trying to get back fairly regularly since my niece came along as it’s nice to see how they’re getting along and to get to be the cool mad uncle for a bit. My sister in Sydney can’t manage trips back regularly but does something similar via Skype; it is the height of cuteness to see my niece waving at the computer saying hiya. I digress. We were home for a garden party with my aunt and I am relieved to say the weather gods smiled on us with the traditional Welsh rain (none of your crappy London drizzle) clearing for the afternoon. It was good to see everyone.

Writing wise, things have begun to improve. Realising that I had got myself into a terrible funk, rather than concentrating on any large projects I just picked one of my short story ideas off my ideas list and started writing. I’ve been plugging away at that short story for the last couple of weeks, refusing to beat myself up for not doing enough as long as I did a little, until – this afternoon – I finished an editable draft. It was good to do something new, it was fun to not worry too much about the end result or hitting a word target and was a useful distraction from the day job.

A wise Irishman once told me, when I bemoaned how difficult I found it to write at volume when I was working, that you only have so much room in your head to think about things. The point being you need to allow yourself enough downtime to create or it won’t happen. It’s been a painful lesson but it’s true and, probably, reflects why posting here has been at a much lower volume.

I’m just glad I’m writing again.

Reading wise I am, as expected, working my way through Bleak House. I’m enjoying the structural departure from the other Dickens’ pieces I have read (not as many as I should) but I think perhaps I should have opted for a paperback rather than an e-book. It’s not that the experience is poor but there are little problems like eyestrain and sunlight which make it a less enjoyable experience. I’m also picking through some more of Future Bristol which I have been dipping into for some time starting with writers I know and working my way through to others. It’s all solid work and great to see a city other than London being used as a backdrop.

I have a short holiday planned soon and so blogging is likely to be infrequent for a few weeks before ramping up again come September. That said you can be sure not to miss anything by signing up to the RSS feed, if you wish. And my more frivolous, and frequent, observations can be followed via Twitter.

Hope you’re enjoying this afternoon’s sun as much as I am.