Friday, 27 July 2012

Friday Five: Picture Books

Children's author Margaret Mahy died earlier this week. Her books are beloved by millions, and many are the tributes pouring in, from adults saying how much they had loved her tales when they were young. I'm sure many of them still do. I do.

This led me to think about my favourite picture books from when I was a child. I decided not to include those by Beatrix Potter or Dr Seuss, as they should have a category in their own right. Neither am I including fairy tales. And they have to be the books that I loved then and still do, so recent favourites (such as Hairy Maclary, Jolly Tall, Six Dinner Sid, Winnie the Witch or Wombat Stew) can't count either.

I love the story of Ferdinand the Bull, but this was my brother's favourite, apparently, so to chose that would be cheating. I'm sure my mother will correct me or add any I have missed out that I used to enjoy, although maybe I don't like them so much any more? Some tastes change as we get older, but not all.

5 Favourite Picture Books:
  1. A Lion in the Meadow - Margaret Mahy
  2. The Tiger Who Came to Tea - Judith Kerr
  3. The Story About Ping - Marjorie Flack
  4. The Story of Little Black Sambo - Helen Bannerman
  5. The Very Humgry Caterpillar - Eric Carle

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A Bridge Too Far

The Olympics have not yet even begun and already the non-British media coverage is annoying me. Perhaps the British press will be equally appalling in the weeks to come, but for the moment let me just point something out.

There are 24 bridges across the Thames in London; the first one was built by the Romans between the City of London and Southwark. It was wooden and there were many vaiations on it, which burned down, collapsed and slid into the mud. There is some evidence that this is the basis for the nursery rhyme, London Bridge is Falling Down.

A stone bridge was built in 1176 and was lined with shops - the most famous bridge in the country at the time. Fires, floods and other natural and non-natural disasters all took their toll and many bridges were built on this site. In 1973 the present London Bridge was erected. It looks like this:

As part of the lead-up to the Olympics, the ring logo has appeared on Tower Bridge, one bridge downstream from London Bridge. Tower Bridge was built between 1886-94 and looks like this:

London Bridge was bought by an American in 1967 and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Both the buyer and the vendor vehemently deny the popular rumour that he actually thought he was buying Tower Bridge. The mistake is common, but no less annoying for all that.

Monday, 23 July 2012

My Newest Favourite Thing: Team Sky

Wow! What a team. What a performance. What a commitment! I've heard people say that they are boring - clearly these people know nothing about cycling and are probably the same people that say that Spain are boring at football. It's a team sport. And what a sport. These guys are supreme athletes. I'm speechless. All aboard the Sky Train!

And I know I've banged on about Cavendish before, but he is truely remarkable, so I will again. The acceleration is incredible, and to win on the Champs Elysees for the fourth time in a row, is a stunning achievement. He'll always have Paris.

And Bradley Wiggins... what can I say? A fabulous and worthy winner. A great winning speech - 'It's time to draw the raffle numbers' - and a passion and to commitment to the sport. Yes, I'm patriotic and yes, it's wonderful to see a British rider win Le Tour. But it's even more amazing to see the yellow jersey lead out the World Champion in the final sprint. The Sky Train has been brilliant. Every rider has pedalled his socks off and I love it all.
And the Olympic road race is in less than a week's time. At the last Olympics I was suffering slightly from dual nationality syndrome. No such dilemmas this time. You go boys; bring it home!