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HaydninVienna (Richard) calls for another round ...

The Green Dragon

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Edited: Jul 19, 4:13am Top

I think it's time for a new topic, since I seem to have solved the image-posting problem (thanks to YouKneek for suggesting Imgur).

These are the images I was trying to post in the last thread, plus a couple of extra ones.

The roof of the foyer of the national Gallery of Canada:

Torso, from The Rock Drill, by Jacob Epstein (National Gallery of Canada):

I took this pic because I'd been reading the Wikipedia page on the Vorticist and sometime Nazi sympathiser Percy Wyndham Lewis, and an image of that sculptuure is on that page.
ETA Now I'm puzzled. I looked at that Wikipedia page and the image isn't there. Epstein certainly had an association with the Vorticists, briefly, but he isn't even mentioned on that page. Moreover, the original is said to be in the Tate in London. But I had certainly seen a pic of the piece before seeing it in Ottawa, I just don't know where.

Portrait (by John Singer Sargent) of Joseph Joachim, the great 19-th century violinist and friend of Brahms:

The Roundhouse, Toronto, including an old Canadian National steam locomotive:

(as you can see, there's a way to go yet before this is a proper museum)

View out of my window at Chateau Laurier, Ottawa (stayed here for a night just to give The Kid a thrill):

View from the outdoor bistro at Chateau Laurier:

A previous occupant of my room at the Nicholas Street Jail Hostel:

Oscar Peterson:

This is supposed to be a temple bell (Royal Ontario Museum), but guess what it really is in disguise (Hint: Exterminate! Exterminate!):

Niagara (including The Kid):

Jul 19, 4:24am Top

Great pictures.

Jul 19, 5:17am Top

Thanks Peter. The best view of the Roundhouse is actually from CN Tower, as seen here. I saw that view but like a mug didn't take a photo of it.

Jul 19, 6:14am Top

>1 haydninvienna: Is that locomotive a Mountain type? If so, it shares its wheel arrangement (4-8-2) with dear old Wesley of the Umgeni Steam Railway, who is evidently somewhat smaller than the Canadian behemoth.

Jul 19, 6:36am Top

>1 haydninvienna: Great pictures. I’m glad Imgur worked for you.

Jul 19, 8:05am Top

>4 hfglen: I wasn't canny enough to get anything when I took the pictures (being at the time in urgent need of beer), but according to the Toronto Railway Historical Association's website:
No. 6213 was built in August 1942 by the Montreal Locomotive Works. It was part of an order of 35 identical locomotives built for the Canadian National Railways during World War II. It is a U-2 class Northern-type steam locomotive with a 4-8-4 wheel arrangement and was used to haul both passenger and freight trains well over a million miles during its 17-year career based in locations that ranged from Halifax on the east coast to the prairies of Saskatchewan.

The web page page for no. 6213 gives its location as "Exhibition Park, some two kilometres west of the John St. roundhouse". The Association home page correctly shows it at the Roundhouse.

I discover that 6213 has her own Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_National_6213!

Jul 19, 8:11am Top

Wonderful! I can see all, and the resolution is excellent! Your daughter is lovely.

Jul 19, 10:04am Top

I posted this one in the old thread but I like the joke enough that I'm going to inflict it on you all again.

Jul 19, 10:12am Top

>7 clamairy: Thanks Clam, from myself and Laura.

Jul 19, 12:31pm Top

>8 haydninvienna: Hopefully there will be a few more extensions. :-)

Edited: Jul 19, 12:41pm Top

>10 pgmcc: I thought I saw that Boris wanted to suspend parliament. Didn't that sort of behaviour get Charles I a rather drastic haircut?

And that's probably close enough to the edge of Pub rules that we had better stop right there.

Jul 19, 10:01pm Top

Terrific photos! Looks like a great trip with a lovely companion.

Jul 20, 3:25am Top

Thanks MrsLee, from both of us.

Jul 20, 3:38am Top

A bit of actual reading on my supposed DNBR weekend: Adventures in Immediate Irreality by Max Blecher. This was the token Romanian book I bought in Cărturești Carusel. I have to admit, I have no idea what to make of it. The narrator seems to have no shell between himself and "reality", and he seems never certain of what "reality" actually is. Reminiscent of Anna Kavan in a kind of way, except that in Adventures in Immediate Irreality almost nothing actually happens. Not a book for action fans then. I'm not sorry I read it, but it was only 100 pages or so. I will say though that the Introduction, by Andrei Codescu, was an interesting exercise in non-explanation: I found that every single word was an English word, and the sentences were put together in a grammatical English way, but the whole conveyed almost no meaning to me: "colourless green ideas sleep furiously", perhaps. Obviously I'm not smart enough for this.

Edited: Jul 21, 1:58am Top

A bit more DNBR reading: I finally took up and finished Soulless. This is the first in a series called "The Parasol Protectorate", set in an alt-history version of Victorian London. English society has managed to more or less integrate the Undead—basically vampires and werewolves, although there are ghosts and a golem as well. Alexia Tarabotti is a preternatural—that is, if she touches one of the Undead, the touched party becomes human for as long as the touch lasts. She is the daughter of an English woman and an Italian who died before the story starts, and her mother has remarried a wealthy Englishman. Her mother and stepfather have two other daughters, Alexia's half-sisters.

What I liked:
A decent take on a Victorian alt-history and how the Undead fit into English government and society. A reasonable model for the internal politics of the two main kinds of Undead
Even though I think the book suffers from Austenitis (that is, attempting to emulate Pride and Prejudice), I thought the verbal sparring between Alexia and Lord Maccon was well enough done (not "rapier-like" but good enough).
Some quite well done action (in the ordinary sense, not hanky-panky, for which see below).

What I didn't like:
I mentioned before that I wasn't seeing the rapier-like wit and I'm still not. ETA Ms Carriger depends quite a bit on polysyllabic humour; some people find that amusing, apparently. She also gives her characters absurd names: "Loontwill"? "Floote"? Seriously? Maybe this is Dickensitis, as in "Charles Dickens did it so I can too". But Dickens' made-up names are usually plausible—"Pickwick" sounds almost like a real name, and "Twist" is close to "Twiss", which is a real name.
I think that Ms Carriger could have used a decent copy-editor. One that jumped out at me: "Lord Maccon interrupted them all by issuing forth a series of orders, which, with only minor dissembling, the assembled gentlemen took in hand" (p 340). Dissembling ("to put on a false appearance: conceal facts, intentions, or feelings under some pretence") should probably have been dissent, which would also have avoided the clash of dissembling and assembled.
A lot of description of clothes and interior decoration. These people are rich, rich, rich, I get that. But I could have done with less.
A lot of description of Alexia's parents' and sisters' social views, part of the Austenitis.
I thought the plot was a bit thin, basically not much more than an excuse to get Alexia and Lord Maccon introduced to us and together, and get Alexia the interesting job that she is offered at the end, which will be what the subsequent books are about

What I'm not committing myself about:
A surprising amount of the book is taken up with the efforts of Lord Maccon and Ms Tarabotti to do, or avoid doing, what comes naturally, and the complications that spring from him being a werewolf and her being a preternatural. It gets pretty physical and detailed. I'm not going to buy an argument over this, particularly given that the author is a woman and the description is from Ms Tarabotti's point of view.

I probably sound like a curmudgeon in places. Well, I really find it hard to understand the chorus of praise for this book. But overall, I liked it well enough that I wouldn't avoid the next book in the series, although I probably wouldn't work too hard to find it either.

Edited: Jul 23, 4:39pm Top

Well now. I’ve mentioned another Adventure in prospect. I’m now (it’s 11:30 pm Tuesday here) in the lounge at Doha Airport waiting to board a flight to Helsinki. My wife will join me there tomorrow, and on Thursday we train to Savonlinna in the far east of Finland. You can almost spit into Russia from there. In Savonlinna there is a well preserved 14th century castle, Olavinlinna, in which an opera festival is held every year. Basically they just put a roof over the castle courtyard and some seats, and use the rear of the courtyard as part of the set. This will be the 4th year we’ve been. This year we are seeing Mozart’s “Abduction from the Seraglio” on Thursday night and Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville” on Friday. Saturday back to Helsinki and Sunday off to Australia.
This visit to Finland won’t allow for much book shopping but inshallah I can visit Academic Books in Helsinki tomorrow. It’s close to our hotel at least.
I have some books in my luggage, even a Flavia in the backpack, but I’m scared that if I start reading now I’ll fall asleep and miss my flight.

Jul 24, 6:58am Top

I’m now in the hotel in Helsinki. I went out to Suomenlinna this morning—beautiful day, the place looked gorgeous. Pics to follow. pgmcc really needs to investigate it on his next secret mission. Who knows what he may turn up? Prospect of some decent beer at least. I had a post written on the phone but it seems to have disappeared into the ether.

The point of that post was that I went to Academic Books this morning and spared myself the horror of a no-bookbuying visit. They were having a 4 for the price of 3 promotion and I ended up with:
The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley
The Story of Kullervo by J R R Tolkien
and because I’m in Finland
The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi
and just for giggles and because I love them
Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson.

I bought The Fractal Prince by Rajaniemi a few years ago in the same shop. The cover of that is gorgeous but weird and the book made even less sense. Maybe I should read it again.
Anyway now I’m waiting for my wife. Last time she was stuck on the tarmac at Heathrow for about five hours in a broken aeroplane. This time she’s just delayed a bit, which is not unusual out of Heathrow. I’m having a rest so might read a bit of Moomintroll.

Jul 24, 7:27am Top

Enjoy your Finnish adventure. I shall take your advice about Suomenlinna on advisement.

I note your proximity to Russia with interest.

Jul 24, 7:43am Top

I hope you have a great time in Finland. Enjoy the operas!

Jul 24, 8:16am Top

Wow, that sounds like such a great place. Enjoy!

Jul 24, 8:49am Top

>17 haydninvienna: You're on another adventure! Enjoy.

>18 pgmcc: I hope you're keeping detailed notes. Encrypted, even.

Jul 24, 11:57am Top

>21 clamairy: Attending a concert indeed. Sounds like a cover story to me. Meet up with his controller, or he is a controller meeting up with his agents.

Oops! He met me when he was attending a concert in Dublin.

Jul 25, 6:02am Top

OK, so, very late to anything as this only is the second time I brought out the laptop in the past 12 days... on Bovington (your previous thread) - yes, the one in England. I'll check Monkey World.
We go by public transport when in the UK as no one of us wants to drive on the wrong side of the road. We're in danger of getting run over every time we cross a road (and all bus stops seems to be on the wrong side, too, lol) so driving is not high on the to do list ;-)

I hope you're enjoying your stay in Helsinki. Have you read Summerland? I enjoyed Hannu Rajaniemi's Jean de Flambeur books, but haven't gotten around to that one yet.
I found his fantasy quite quirky!

Jul 27, 2:47pm Top

Here I am again, in Finland now. I’ve been in Helsinki and Savonlinna, in the latter in a hotel with no internet and a phone with an apparently deceased SIM card. I’ve seen some comments about heat in Europe. We had temps in the high 20s in Finland and people are complaining! My wife doesn’t handle heat at all well and found it particularly trying.

Opera in the castle! First one was Rossini’s The Barber of Seville which was fabulous. You got the message that we were in for some laughs when the overture was played by 2 orchestras—the real one in the pit and a mock one miming on the stage. The mock one culminated in a kind of seated can-can by a couple of exceedingly attractive young lady bassoonists. Figaro in tight trousers and a punk hairdo. Rosina a couple of flashes nude except for bikini knickers. The performance as a whole energetic and the whole lot of them obviously having a whale of a good time, and communicating it. Savonlinna tends to treat the comedies fairly lightly but the performances are first class.

Second night was Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. This was less successful. It was an even hotter night and my wife got distressed to the point that we had to leave at interval. But although the performances were fine technically the spark wasn’t there. Maybe it was just the heat but something was lacking, especially after the Barber the night before.

After that we went down to a restaurant in Savonlinna town which we go to every year and encountered a young waiter who wanted to know all about Australia. We’re not hard to recognise on first hearing.

Tonight we were in a soul food restaurant in Helsinki. Sounds weird but really no weirder than a Japanese or Thai one, and there are both of those in Helsinki. The food was good although I have no idea how “authentic” it was, and really don’t much care. Encountered another waiter who wanted to talk about Australia, and about Canadian ice wine.

In the course of a hot morning while my wife was hiding from the heat I read A Red Herring Without Mustard By Alan Bradley. Flavia is just as terrifying as ever.

Savonlinna has one bookshop which I browsed in, but found nothing of interest in English.

I’ll post some pics of Savonlinna the town and Olavinlinna the castle when I can.

Edited: Jul 28, 8:05am Top

>23 Busifer: see above re Finland. I love the place to bits, but this hasn’t been the happiest visit. I went out to Suomenlinna on Wednesday morning and it was just as beautiful as ever, but too hot to walk around much.

We feel much the same about driving on the “wrong” side in Europe, but I live in a left-hand-drive country. Rather than being helpful it’s just confusing. I never know where I am.

We are now at Helsinki airport on the way to Perth. I started The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle this morning. So far I’m just confused.

ETA re Hannu Rajaniemi: I went into Academic Books looking for The Quantum Thief, which I don’t have, but it was out of stock. I didn’t know about Summerland but will investigate.

Jul 28, 5:01pm Top

>23 Busifer:, >25 haydninvienna: Ouch. I just got hit by the ricochet. I am now looking for a copy of The Quantum Thief too.

Jul 28, 8:56pm Top

We are now in Hong Kong Airport waiting for a flight to Perth. I had The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in my carry-on bag and have read both of them.

Flavia is still Flavia and is just as terrifying. She is wonderful as fiction, but as a real child she really would be frightening.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle tells me one reason I’m not a writer. I could never keep all the threads straight. It’s far more complex than anything I ever have to do in my professional life, in which the aim is simplicity. As one of the quoted reviews says, it’s an astonishing debut. The question is, of course, what on earth is he going to do next?

>26 -pilgrim-: Academic Books just said that The Quantum Thief was out of stock, rather than unavailable, so it shouldn’t be impossible to get.

Jul 30, 2:57am Top

We are now in Cable Beach Resort at Broome. It’s a series of cabins around central facilities, and the wildlife visit. We have 4 kangaroos outside now staying out of the afternoon sun.

Hugh: I’ve already seen a couple of small baobab trees. Pictures to come.

Jul 30, 5:16am Top

>28 haydninvienna: In Oz? Wild? Then they're Boabs, Adansonia gregorii -- IMHO much more special and harder to find. The Little Prince wasn't entirely wrong in treating (African) baobabs as weeds on his home planet.

Jul 30, 8:14am Top

We are in a very nice, quite expensive resort in Broome and have a problem I have never encountered before in a hotel.



There is a frog in our toilet bowl. Quite a big frog. I have phoned reception and they assured me they will have him removed harmlessly.

Update. The guy showed up and commented that he was scared of frogs, but by then the frog had crawled up under the S-bend. So I flushed it and hoped that would send him out.

Jul 30, 8:36am Top

>29 hfglen: I don’t think the boabs are wild but they probably still are A. gregorii. What do you need to see pics of to identify them—leaves, flowers, seed pods, bark?

Jul 30, 1:50pm Top

>30 haydninvienna: Sweet cheeses! That is a new one to me!

...by then the frog had crawled up under the S-bend. So I flushed it and hoped that would send him out.

But, well... then didn't you kill it by flushing it? :o(

Jul 30, 2:29pm Top

>31 haydninvienna: Leaves and flowers would help tremendously. Pods and bark tend to be the same for all baobabs. Many thanks.

Edited: Jul 31, 5:43am Top

>32 clamairy: I hope not. There’s an air space just above the s-bend, otherwise he couldn’t have got into the bowl in the first place. I hope and believe that all that happened was that he ended up back where he started.

I gather that one of my relatives in Brisbane gets frogs in the toilet fairly regularly. There has to be an open-air path into the toilet for the frog to get there to start with.

>33 hfglen: I’ve spotted one flower on one of the boabs, and what looks like an inflorescence on another. It looks like the broad-leaved ones have large single white or cream flowers and short fat rounded pods, and the narrow leaved ones have a fine spray of small yellow flowers and long thin pods. A tour guide who took us around today said that one species was a Madagascar species imported by Lord McAlpine when he was developing the resort.

ETA re the frog: I’m not scared of frogs but if I had scooped him out, what would I then have done with him? Also, the risk of hurting him.

Jul 31, 8:03am Top

We have another frog, only not in the toilet. This one was sitting in the middle of the wardrobe floor. So I picked him up as carefully as I could and put him outside, under the cabin. Hopefully it will be cool there and safe from birds.

Jul 31, 8:23am Top

As long as they don't try to share your bed you should be good.

Jul 31, 10:50am Top

>35 haydninvienna: Maybe they just want a quick kiss. You weren't a princess in another life, perchance?

Jul 31, 3:56pm Top

Aug 1, 12:30am Top

Perhaps this is a new technique of spying? Have you mentioned the frogs to your contact?

Aug 1, 5:17am Top

>37 AHS-Wolfy: after the The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, which I read last week, I’d just about believe it.

>39 MrsLee:. Can’t be. They didn’t know the passwords.

Aug 1, 6:50am Top

In the lounge at Perth Airport facing a bookless flight, I bought Infinite Powers by Steven Strogatz, which was the only book that WH Smith had that I didn’t have already and felt like reading. I have been fascinated by mathematics ever since high school, despite finding it beyond me. I doubt that Strogatz is going to make a mathematician out of me, after Ian Stewart and Rudy Rucker and Alex Bellos and Douglas Hofstadter and Eugenia Cheng and probably others have failed, but I try anyway.

I’ve actually started reading Strogatz’s book. Up to chapter 6, I actually do understand it.

Aug 1, 8:22am Top

I mentioned in my last thread that I was going to places where books were not sold, earning a shocked face from 2wonderY. I can now confirm that Broome is not such a place. In Kimberley Books this morning I bought
How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
A Pirate of Exquisite Mind by Diana and Michael Preston
King of the Australian Coast edited by Marsden Hordern.

A Pirate of Exquisite Mind is about William Dampier, a former pirate who was exploring the western coast of the Australian continent almost a century before James Cook arrived on the eastern shore. The back blurb describes him as one of England’s forgotten heroes, but I clearly remember him from my high school history courses in the early 1960s.

Broome is a fascinating place. It’s the winter (dry) season now, and the temperatures are in the low to mid 30s but the air is dry. Summer (wet) season begins in a couple of months, and Broome becomes more or less of a ghost town as the tourists disappear. That’s also the cyclone season. I first visited Broome in February 1987, and the climate was for me then uniquely unpleasant: temperatures in the mid to high 30s (95 and up for those used to Fahrenheit) with humidity approaching 100%.

Broome now is an export centre for cattle and a support base for the offshore oil and gas industry, but for more than a century its wealth depended on pearls. Terrifying: the “fishing” was done by a man in a heavy canvas suit, with heavy boots and a helmet, supplied with air down a pipe by men furiously hand-pumping an air pump on the deck of the pearling lugger. It was hard and very dangerous work. Many divers died, and no doubt many more were crippled by the “bends”. It all fell apart when a Japanese named Mikimoto invented the process of culturing pearls. Broome is still a major centre of the pearling industry, but “no more Japanese diver, no more little brown man”, to misquote a line from the Australian poet “Banjo” Paterson. (You can read the poem here: https://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/paterson-a-b-banjo/the-pearl-diver-000400... ).

If you walk down Dampier (see? Not quite forgotten) Terrace in Broome, you can see how much Broome still runs on pearls. The pearl dealers are all along both sides. Millions of dollars worth of pearls being sold from what look almost like sheds. And the biggest dealer, Paspaley Pearls, isn’t even in that street.

And the sunsets!

For anyone who feels able to stand it, here’s some Aussie country music: Neil Murray singing “Good Light In Broome”: https://youtu.be/6cf18mM7kCw.

Aug 4, 1:56am Top

We are now in Sydney. While DW was chilling this afternoon, I visited 3 bookshops.

Dymocks in George Street produced Summerland by Hannu Rajaniemi

The Kinokuniya shop, also in George Street, produced The Quantum Thief, also by Rajaniemi; and Abbey’s, in York Street, produced I Am Half-Sick of Shadows—yup, another Flavia.

Aug 6, 10:03pm Top

What great travels! Thanks for the pictures.

Edited: Aug 8, 2:42am Top

>44 Karlstar: Thanks. Pics of Finland, Broome and Nabiac to come, when I get back to a computer. As of now, I’m in the world’s least luxurious motel and I finished reading Infinite Powers this afternoon. I suggested in #41 that Professor Strogatz probably wouldn’t make a mathematician of me, and he didn’t, but the book would be a useful intro to calculus for anyone who had to study it formally without ever having been exposed to it—if such a person exists. (Edited to fix touchstone.)

Off to Port Macquarie and slightly more salubrious quarters tomorrow morning.

Edited: Aug 8, 2:40am Top

We are now in Port Macquarie in the more salubrious quarters, but have company again. There was one of these: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_water_dragon#/media/File:Eastern_Water_... beside the swimming pool. Not afraid of the people around it at all.

It might not be green but it is a dragon. (Edited to get the right subspecies.)

Aug 9, 6:22am Top

Finished The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi and Preincarnate by Shaun Micallef. I now need to read The Fractal Prince by Rajaniemi again—it might make sense now.

Micallef’s novella is a bit like a distillation of his TV sketch shows. Anarchic, full of jokes, but will really not advance the art of fiction by much. Still, an acceptable time-passer of the same general kind as Robert Rankin, and (perhaps mercifully) fairly short. It may be worth mentioning that it seems now to be available only as an e-book formatted for the reader app from Booktopia, the Australian online bookseller.

Which reminds me that this afternoon I packed up 6 of the books that I either had read or didn’t expect to read on what’s left of this Adventure, and posted them to myself in England. For 6 books, total weight under 3kg, the postage was A$75 or thereabouts. Ouch.

Aug 11, 11:55pm Top

Woohoo! The Pub is back in business! Things went a bit quiet there for a couple of days. I was wondering if the ale had run out or something. In the world of another great Australian poet, Slim Dusty:

There’s nothing so lonesome, morbid or drear
Than to stand in the bar
Of a pub with no beer.

Anyway. Port Macquarie was pleasant enough, and we had the companion by the pool mentioned above. Now I’m off the chain at my sister in law’s place on Bribie Island near Brisbane.

Waiting for me were
The Mine of Eternal Spring by my former colleague Alan Pierce
A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty
The Image of a Drawn Sword by Jocelyn Brooke.

A quick visit to the Bribie Island Book Exchange produced
Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovich
Half-Sick of Shadows by David Logan (which I bought partly on the strength of the coincidence of title with one of the Flavia stories, and partly on the strength of a recommendation by Sir Pterry on the cover)
The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud. (This turns out to be the second of the Bartimeus series. Please series publishers, give me an indication of which book in a series I’m looking at.)

Aug 12, 4:44pm Top

Going back somewhat in time - aren't some Australian frogs venomous to humans? I guess that would be a reason to be scared of frogs and toads, but in Sweden it would make no sense.
That someone could be afraid of frogs surprised me.

Aug 12, 5:06pm Top

>49 Busifer: I know Australia is supposed to be the land where everything is trying to kill you, but it’s not true (at least if you ignore the snakes and spiders on land and the venomous fish, sea snakes and jellyfish in the water). No venomous frogs. (Cane toads are another matter, but they haven’t got to Broome yet.) I think the guy must have just been a wuss.

Aug 12, 5:15pm Top

>50 haydninvienna: A wuss indeed!

It's hard to ignore the snakes and the spiders and the fish and the sea snakes and the jellyfish when you're, like me, from a place were one snake and one plant and a couple of mushrooms are as dangerous as it gets (ignoring the ones that aren't venomous or poisonous but would rather kill you by eating or attacking you, so I can see your point, heh).

Aug 12, 11:58pm Top

>46 haydninvienna: love the water dragon!

Aug 14, 5:31am Top

>52 NorthernStar: They’re kind of cute. You might notice that a good many of the pictures in the Wikipedia article on them were taken in the Brisbane botanical gardens. I can personally vouch for them being everywhere in those gardens.

Final book purchase for this Adventure: The Quite Nice and Fairly Accurate Good Omens Script Book. I finished this between Sydney and Hong Kong. As you would expect, it follows the original novel pretty closely, but adds Gaiman’s thoughts and reflections as he wrote the script.

Edited: Aug 14, 5:36am Top

And a thought for hfglen: my sister in law has a boab tree pod that was carved with a turtle design for her by a a young Aboriginal man in Broome on her trip right around the continent three years ago. (At the age of 68, she drove a motor home around Australia—tough lady.) Picture to follow.

Aug 14, 9:03am Top

>53 haydninvienna: I don't often buy that kind of book but has actually contemplated getting that one. Was it fun and/or meaningful, as in adding insights or dimensions, or just to make time go during fx a flight?

Aug 14, 4:49pm Top

>55 Busifer: To be honest, I bought it at least partly because it was the only thing on my Wishlist that the shop actually had. It made the time pass pleasantly enough on the flight, but I’m not sure that Gaiman’s comments on what worked and what didn’t, and what had to be cut for budgetary reasons, justify the price. Gaiman’s intro shows that he and Sir Pterry were still best mates right up till Sir Pterry’s death.

It was on my Wishlist because of this post https://www.librarything.com/topic/305661#6850878 by bragan. I haven’t seen the show, incidentally. I will have to find out if I can stream it here.

Aug 14, 6:02pm Top

>56 haydninvienna: IIRC, Gaiman's introduction to A Slip of the Keyboard, as well as some of the articles therein, was very illuminating about their relationship.

And I really do recommend the show. One of the rare occasions when, IMO, the adaptation is better than the original.

Aug 15, 3:56am Top

>56 haydninvienna: The BBC will be airing Good Omens in the autumn, so you might be able to catch it then.

Aug 15, 6:08am Top

>57 -pilgrim-: I have A Slip of the Keyboard and you're right, Gaiman's introduction sheds a good deal of light on some points in Sir Pterry's books, and on their relationship as well.

Aug 15, 8:09am Top

I happen to think that both the book and the show is very good. The show is more up to date with present times - the book was written in the late 80's, if I remember correctly, so no widespread use of commercial mobile phones or internet, and so on.

Aug 15, 11:30am Top

I've just watched the trailer on my Mac at home in Doha. Now I know one thing I'll be doing over the weekend.

Aug 16, 1:34am Top

Well, another Adventure is over. I saw one and a half operas, bought 17 books (counting the 3 that were waiting for me in Brisbane, mentioned in https://www.librarything.com/topic/304548#6870110, but not counting 3 more that are now waiting for me in Bicester), visited 8 cities and towns (visit = stay overnight in), and encountered some adventurous wildlife. All good clean fun. I'm getting the pictures sorted out now and some of them will appear later today. But one morsel I will pass on now just so I don't forget it later: I mentioned in #42 that I bought a book about the 17th century navigator William Dampier, who seems to be regularly described as "forgotten", although I remember him from high school. Now I find that he has another claim to fame: as a food writer. While browsing Atlas Obscura when I should have been working, I found this article.

Aug 16, 5:06am Top

And now the pictures.

I've been banging on a bit about Suomenlinna. It's very hard to convey in a few pictures how beautiful the place is, but here are my best attempts.


And a rock and a tree (a linden, I think):


It fascinates me how, all across Helsinki, the hard rock is so close to the surface.

Aug 16, 5:10am Top

Next, on to Savonlinna.

This is the castle through the train window. I always look for this view as the train gets close to Savonlinna.

and the castle from the causeway back to Savonlinna town:

Aug 16, 5:17am Top

Savonlinna itself is pretty nice. Here is the little street leading down towards the castle:

and this is the view across the lake from the spa-hotel:

and the marina at sunset:

I snapped the second picture at the sound of bagpipes. Although you can't see it in the picture, the fellow with his back to the camera was playing bagpipes as his mate rowed.

Aug 16, 5:24am Top

Broome from the air (north to the left):

Broome was where things got interesting wildlife-wise.

Here are the frogs:


ands the kangaroos around our bungalow:


Aug 16, 5:37am Top

>63 haydninvienna: Small-leaved Linden, Tilia cordata, as ever was. The European Linden (Tilia × europaea) I first thought of is common further south (London, France etc.); it has asymmetric leaf bases and tufts of hairs in the angles of leaf veins.

Aug 16, 5:46am Top

Thanks for the pictures. It is no surprise that Savonlinna castle looks just like it did when I visited, in 1996.

I love the green frog. Ours are more like this -

Aug 16, 6:00am Top

>68 Busifer: Cute frog!

Now for Hugh's especial benefit, some baobab trees. There seemed to be 2 kinds: this one:

Aug 16, 6:02am Top

And this one:

Aug 16, 6:06am Top

And here is the carved boab pod:

with Marcia's hands for scale.

Aug 16, 6:10am Top

For connoisseurs of small towns, here is the World's Least Luxurious Motel with our rented Subaru at the door:

and a general view of Nabiac (there isn't much more of it than this):

Aug 16, 6:21am Top

And I said we encountered some adventurous wildlife. Here is the actual water dragon mentioned in #46:

At Marcia's house there were some fairly adventurous magpies (the Australian magpie, which is not the same as the European bird of the same name). This is a young one:


(same bird, same glass and same chair). The bird seems to be a juvenile, not yet having its adult plumage. There were 2 of them, same apparent age. And here's Mum coming to see what the kids were up to:

Australian magpies adapted well to living around people, and are generally reasonably fearless, but I've never seen one this bold before! Marcia doesn't feed them but it's not unlikely that someone in the neighbourhood does.

Aug 16, 6:44am Top

Love the frogs but I wouldn't want them in the toilet! The carved baobab pod is lovely, as are the trees themselves. Thanks for allowing us to travel vicariously with you!

Aug 16, 7:22am Top

>74 Sakerfalcon: Thanks, my pleasure. Incidentally, "boab" in #71 wasn't a mistake: that's what the native Australian species is usually called in Oz. As Hugh will tell us, there are about 10 species of baobab, 1 of which is native to Australia. I think the one with the large flower in #69 is the Australian species. That was the only flower on that tree as far as I could tell.

Aug 16, 8:02am Top

Ah! The one in >69 haydninvienna: is an Australian Boab, to be sure. But the tree in >70 haydninvienna: isn't related at all: it's Moringa drouhardii from Madagascar. About all it shares is the swollen trunk. But any minute now I'm going to beg copies of the pictures in #70, as I have a suspicion I may need them in the foreseeable future.

Aug 16, 12:18pm Top

>76 hfglen: That explains something. I remember you saying that pods were fairly generic. The tree in #70 had pods but they were long and thin, very unlike the round pods on #69. I was told that the tree in #70 had been brought in from Madagascar, but not specifically that it was a baobab.

If you want copies of the pictures, you could download them from my Imgur page—I’ll give you the link. All the pictures were taken at Cable Beach Resort at Broome between 30 July and 1 August just past.

Aug 16, 2:28pm Top

Well of course Moringa pods are long and thin, or possibly dagger-shaped. Many thanks, I shall copy the pictures probably only on Sunday -- it's Railway day tomorrow!

Aug 16, 3:07pm Top

And as I promised in #61, I've watched the Good Omens series. Aren't David Tennant and Michael Sheen wonderful, separately and together!

Aug 16, 3:30pm Top

>73 haydninvienna: That water dragon is incredibly cute.

Aug 17, 1:54am Top

>80 -pilgrim-: as I mentioned above, there are lots of them in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. One afternoon many years ago, when the kids were still small, I was in Brisbane with them and they were grumpy and cranky and I was looking for something to do so I drove up to the gardens (on a hill a little away from the centre of town) and got them walking around there. They started spotting water dragons and it turned into a game. The dragons showed no fear--probably they are well used to people, since the gardens are a popular picnic spot.

Edited: Aug 17, 2:13am Top

Something I forgot in all the excitement over wildlife. Here is the unusual vehicle that we did a tour of Broome in:

It's a Harley-Davidson front end mated to some sort of 1930s-vintage Ford, with a custom body and interior. I didn't get to explore the engineering details. The interior is pretty comfortable but not surprisingly it's pretty noisy. Still an interesting way to tour the town and the local points of interest. We sat in the rumble seat at the back of the cabin:

Aug 17, 8:50am Top

how bizarre.

Aug 17, 11:14am Top

Great photos, and narrative. Thank you for letting us share in your adventures!

Edited: Aug 19, 2:01am Top

>83 Bookmarque: Absolutely. It's supposed to be unique in Australia and possibly the world.

>84 MrsLee: My pleasure!

You may have noticed that I go back to Bicester in England pretty frequently. My wife lives there and we own a house there. I also happen to be a huge fan of the online comic xkcd, and have Randall Munroe's first book, What If?. He has a new book, How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems, out shortly. He is doing a book tour to promote it and will be in Oxford, about 10 miles from Bicester, on 11 October, which conveniently is a Friday. So I bought 2 tickets and a book package.

As an example of the advice: how to shoot down a drone by having a world champion tennis player hit balls at it.

Edited to fix touchstone.

Edited again to add: read his introduction here. Maybe there's hope for our species yet.

Aug 19, 6:23am Top

>75 haydninvienna: The new Randall Munroe book was already on my wishlist. Now it goes to the top having read that blog post. Hope you enjoy the signing; I am very envious!

Aug 19, 9:27am Top

>85 haydninvienna: Thank you, I enjoyed those links.

Aug 19, 3:37pm Top

>79 haydninvienna: They are! I think they are delightful, as is the show. It's not often that I feel that the show or film do the book justice, but in this case I do, wholeheartedly.
Tennant and Sheen are perfectly cast, and the script carefully updated to the 21st century. I missed some things from the book, of course, but not every written scene work on screen, and I respect the choices that Gaiman made.
All in all well done!

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