La Belle Sauvage – A Watery Adventure

Philip Pullman’s latest The Book of Dust trilogy come after a long period, 17 years after the original His Dark Materials epic story was released, along with all the  controversies and praise that it brought with it. And it’s not surprising really – there’s layers of complex ideas about theology, science, magic and just great story-telling which makes it so much more than a children’s story. Having said, that, when Pullman announced this latest prequel-slash-sequel trilogy, starting with La Belle Sauvage, I knew I’d have to re-read the first books before I could get started on this one because I wanted to get a sense of context to follow on from.

I’m glad I did re-read it all – there’s a lot of things I had forgotten about (is it just me, or are there just some books out there which are different with every reading? Sign of a good book, I say). There’s also a lot of technological, science-y and theological things which I’m sure went over my head when I read it as a 13-year-old, and which made a lot more sense to me now after reading HDM. It’s fascinating to see how many strands which make up the whole story; the idea of dark matter and Dust, of love, of the concept of dæmons and soul as well as the more biblical side to it all (whether literal or metaphorical) which entwine to stand together behind the vibrant character of Lyra Belacqua and her dæmon.

So one of the first things I would say is if you don’t remember the HDM trilogy, I’d recommend a read – you could read La Belle Sauvage to start off with (as it is a prequel, technically) but things make a lot more sense when reading the His Dark Materials trilogy first. The story of La Belle Sauvage follows a young protagonist a lot like the first trilogy, and set in ‘Lyra’s Oxford’ – plucky young Malcolm and his dæmon Asta, caught up in espionage, secrets and the oppression of the authoritarian Church and its oppressive rules. For the first time, we see the mechanisms behind the events leading to Lyra’s adventures, as well as creating an interesting back story to a few familiar characters.

Malcolm is a young, intelligent, curious boy who helps his parents at their tavern, has adventures on his boats, is friends with the local nuns and scholars. Things begin to change when he hears about the nuns looking after a baby named Lyra Belacqua, and when he sees a strange man drop a message on the ground, only to pick it up and get mixed up with a whirlwind of secrets and shady characters.

I won’t give too much away, but I will say that although the start of the story drags on a little, it is still a good read. I can see that the author didn’t want to make it too similar to Lyra’s adventures in HDM, and that details are need to establish a different story, but it felt a little stale at times . Malcolm and his life at school, working in the tavern with his parents and sailing his little boat seems a little too ‘Boys’ Own’ style at times, and there were a few parts which dragged a little.

Contrastly, just as the first half drags, there is a flood introduced to the story which requires Malcolm and his boat (sounds biblical at all?), the second half is almost chaotic and slightly confusing at times. Malcolm discovers a lot of new, fantastic things and worlds which almost feel hallucinogenic and pretty surreal, with several characters which feel like they came out of fairy tales – but in the context of the larger story, it is a hint at the idea of alternative worlds and the idea of magic.

What makes Pullman’s stories work are that they are cleverly written, and the characters are interesting. There’s no annoying obvious ‘mysteries’ (which we all guess pages before) and there’s enough of the fantasy to keep us gripped to the pages. Reading La Belle Sauvage felt like a nice throwback to my younger years, and it was interesting to be back in Lyra’s Oxford, with new characters and more intrigue. It’s certainly readable for adults, and this start to the new trilogy is certainly noticeably darker and violent, to emphasis how terrifying this world can be. Malcolm is pretty likeable in the story, although I will admit that I am a little worried that Pullman is tempted to re-write a couple of things to make them fit conveniently into HDM. Some characters such as Lord Asriel and Mrs Coulter, both strong characters feel a little less charismatic however – however i have heard one argument that this could be because we are seeing them from Malcolm’s perspective.

Despite the slightly messy second half of the story (which was interesting despite it being a little crazy) I am looking forward to the next installment of this trilogy though. I love books which do world-building well, and especially it will be interesting because it seems that Lyra herself will be continuing her adventures as an adult – and it will certainly be interesting to see if she crosses over to our world ever again!

Balmy Evenings at Camden Lock

The hubster and I were wandering around London town a few days ago, and found ourselves in this peaceful spot, the beautiful river bank alongside Camden Lock, with serene floating boats moored at the edge against pretty cafes and restaurants. We managed to make the most of the warm evening and enjoy the gorgeous view for a while (until we got hungry and ran off to have a meal!)

I love finding spots like these around London which don’t feel like London – serene, beautiful spots which take you away from the ordinary moments and give a little peace for the day to think about things : )

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Transition

I know, I know, I’ve disappeared a little from blogging, but I’m still around, fear  not! I’ve been immersing myself in classic films and long books to enjoy a little time to myself and it’s nice not to have a little nagging pressure of worrying about cooking, tidying, working or tip-tapping away on my keyboard (until the weekend’s over and it’s back to work!)

Today’s weekly photo challenge is ‘transition’ – be it the general phasing of one thing to another, or a general progression as you learn more to go higher. It made me think of two things, firstly, the beautiful blues and greens of the clear waters in Greece when my husband and I visited in the summer, secondly, about my own journey with writing and the idea of ‘going with the flow’.

I won’t bore you with a philosophical rant (and it probably wouldn’t make sense!) but I’m loving the idea of writing and seeing where I go with it, as well as travelling to new places and seeing where we end up. I’m sure this will always remain an ongoing thing with me, and something to always explore, but it’s also something to interpret and re-interpret – progression, transition and the journey it takes us on.

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Serenity is…

...standing by the the colour blue, looking for fishies, enjoying the salty breeze on your face and looking at ships glowing as they sail by.

I’ve been completely unable to switch on my computer this past week, either because I’ve finished work late, only to rush home and have to do some house chores, or end up shopping for lipsticks and chocolate cake groceries and milk and stuff. Which usually means that I have around an hour before bed and not much time to switch a computer on.

So I’m making the most of a lazy weekend (which consisted a marathon watch of season 1 of Broadchurch, home-made popcorn and some geeky online gaming – that one’s my husband, not me) and making sure I managed to sit down with my computer and catch up on reading, browsing and photos!

Here’s one of my favourites, my husband and I managed to get a free spot on the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey, where the fishing trade is a popular one, and makes for a beautiful view as well. We tried our hand at it for a few minutes before giving up, but it was worth stopping for just to see the boats sailing by, the smell of freshly-caught-and-cooked fish along the pier, and the amazing stillness when you sit for a while and watch the blue ripples.

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Throwback Thursday: Invisible Pirates at Lulworth Cove

I’ve been a little out of the picture lately, but I do have lots to post about! In the meantime, enoy this favourite memory of mine, when we visited Lulworth Cove which was a beautiful, peaceful place with amazingly blue water. We didn’t see any pirates, but the place did remind me of old Enid Blyton books where the heroes hid behind cliffs watching pirates using coves to hide their stash. Or something.

I’ve made you want to go read an Enid Blyton book now, haven’t I?

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We Love Miniatures <3: Tiny Perfume Bottles

This is  not so much my collection, than my elder sister’s, which she has had for quite a few years. I’m sure you already know how much I love my miniatures, so this is a beautiful collection to post about (I had a lot of fun taking pictures of these!)

A lot of these are well-known and recognisable brands (like the Jean Paul Gaultier body perfume and Chanel bottles!) which my sister has had for years, and which she has collected over the years. I remember her having a handful of these all the way back from when she was a teenager (particularly because I remember trying to draw some bottles for my Art projects at school!) and it’s amazing that they’ve been kept in such amazing condition.

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I’ve tried to show the whole collection here, although I don’t think I quite managed to get all them in one single shot. I love the different shapes and sizes of these bottles – there’s beautifully delicate bottle lids, pretty coloured perfume concoctions and some very artistic bottle shapes, all of which looked , well, pretty cool together.

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These are just a few of the beautiful shapes of the miniature bottles, I also . The Amirage bottle below is one of the oldest bottles that I remember (one of the selected few for my art homework at school!) which I’ve always loved because of the pretty lid and because of the curves in it.

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And if you don’t believe me about the bottles being miniature (because you can’t always tell in pictures!) here’s some of the baby bottles with the mama bottles to compare sizes!

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I love the lovely bottles in this collection, it’s made me want to collect pretty little glass things (although I won’t because they’ll probably break and also because I have nowhere to put them). It’s also put me in a whimsical mood because I’ve just finished reading a book about a glass-make (with magic power, so not that realistic), but I’m fascinated by the deep rich colours of the glass bottles. And of course, they make beautiful miniatures which look very photogenic!

Credit to my sister for lending this collection to me – it’s made me inspired to find more collections!

Fishies and Jellyfishies at Sea Life London Aquarium

We visited the Sea Life London Aquarium a few days ago with all of the nieces and nephews (toddlers, babies and big kids all!) to look at lots of fish, sharks and jellyfishes.  I won’t say too much except to say that we had a lot of fun (the baby nieces had great fun squishing their faces at the glass and squealing at the fish) and that we ended up having nandos afterwards. I’ll let the photos do the talking about all the pretty fishes we saw (we didn’t find Nemo though!)

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Cold Lakes and Sunny Skies

It may be sunny, but don’t be deceived by those bright yellow rays – it’s nearly 4 degrees outside and we’re all shivering away. Didn’t stop a bunch of students ‘studying’ out on the grass, which I thought made an interesting view (across the small canal that I was on the other side of).

It’s unlikely I’ll be seeing much greenery in the next few weeks, nor will I be visiting any parks any time soon, so here’s something to capture the very last of autumny-summer, especially now winter is really setting in!

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A Daisy in Three Stages

I like this idea of splitting a single picture into three (or more), to give it an interesting effect – like this one, which lets us focus on different parts of the same flower. While this is only a quick effect which was created on my mobile, I like the idea of mixing two or three images together in one photograph – a bit like a collage perhaps. I’m wondering how else I can play around with this, with various colours and themes – although for now, I’ll probably keep it simple and see what works!

Presenting…a daisy in three stages : )

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Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

I couldn’t decide which pictures to use for this challenge, but settled on these ones because Bournemouth and Durdle’s Door are one of my favourite places in England!

Here’s one picture which I loved, that I took of a more panoramic view of the beautiful Durdle’s Door and the surrounding waters:
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This is a close-up of the same landmark, with a focus on the pebbles and sand, which feels a bit more quirky to me, and shows how big ‘Durdle’s Door’ is.

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And here are both images side by side – which really illustrates how one scene or object can be photographed in several different ways and angles, and still look unique! Definitely something to try for yourself, I say – and maybe to play around with sizes and colours too, perhaps!

Which angles do you prefer? I think I like the landscape, panoramic style one : )

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