Sunday, 30 August 2009

Eagle Day

You'll be pleased to hear that I am now actually on the books I've read over this summer. I'm only, oh, about thirty odd behind. Still, here goes.

Eagle Day is the second book in the Henderson Boys series (the new one by Robert Muchamoore, which kinda shows how Cherub came into being). Once again, the characters are fantastic and completely believable. I love Henderson, he's a great character and this one really gives you an insight into his personality, as well as the children he finds himself inadvertently looking after. Asked by the government to find out about Adler Tag, the planned invasion of England, and help to sabotage it, he brings the children with him. A brilliant book, which I'd really recommend, even if you're not really a teenager (although I would agree with the 'not suitable for younger readers' on the back). Let's face it, I'm seventeen, and as you can see from my blog I'm a pretty enthusiastic reader of adult books, but this is one series I can't see myself ever not following (I've just ordered the newest Cherub book from Amazon :D). So yeh, if you missed The Escape, don't worry this one would still make perfect sense. I'm still not sure whether you read these or the Cherub ones first, but I don't suppose it really matters. Chronologically, this is the first, but they're miles apart in terms of dates and none of the characters are the same.


This was the book of the month at a library, so I figured I'd pick it up and see if it was any good. It was. Here's the blurb, I think it does a pretty good job of summing up the story...

Ex-Flying Squad cop Jake Moore's career was cut short by a bullet; ten years on, he runs a game fishing business that is about to go to the wall. But old habits die hard, and when cerebral Mombasa detective Daniel Jouma - seemingly the only good policeman in a city where corruption is king - asks for his help in solving a baffling murder case, he cannot help but become involved. The mangled body of a street criminal has been washed up on the beach and a fishing boat skipper and his bait boy have blown up in the water. When Jake and Jouma look closer, they discover that not only are the murders linked, but the conspiracy surrounding them stretches far beyond the reaches of Africa - and has deadly implications for everyone concerned. This gripping crime thriller strips away Kenya's tourist glitz and exposes the country's dark and treacherous underbelly beneath.

What it fails to tell you is how well created the characters are, and how realistic the atmosphere feels. While I was looking up the blurb I discovered it's the first book in a series, and now I'm gonna have to go find the next one :D. So yeh, a great book, one that I highly recommend.

Saturday, 29 August 2009


It was my 17th birthday on Wednesday (must go change my profile). I was at the Museum of Lancashire in the morning, helping out with the craft, and then as I was getting ready to go, the staff gave me a present: a huge plant! It kinda has to live downstairs cos I have no room in my bedroom, but it's pretty awesome. Then in the afternoon I went into town to meet up with Rhea and Naomi. It was great to see them again and get chance to talk to them, cos I haven't seen either since Rhea's birthday party, which was ages ago. We went shopping, but the only thing I bought was paint :D. I needed some model paint (not got round to using it yet, but it's for a biplane). Naomi came back for tea too, and that was great fun. So I had a really awesome day.

I can't help but look back on my birthday last year and marvel at how far God's brought me and my family. Last year, my mum was in hospital unable to eat, at the start of what turned into a five week stretch. I came home from the Lake District where I'd been on holiday with the guys from Fresh Manna who at that point I scarcely knew, and I went to my Aunty Lynne's for tea, because my Dad was having to cook but he's not the most fantastic cook of all time. Had a clarinet lesson, and then went to see my mum in hospital. Since then, my mum's come home (finally), and she's starting to get a lot better--certainly she's improved tremendously on that although she still gets tired. My Dad's lost his job. I've done a whole year at college, and managed to get 6 A's at AS, and made loads of new friends. I've got to know the people in my youth group a lot better. I've volunteered at the Museum of Lancashire and had a great time doing that. And you know what? God is still looking out for me, so who knows what this next year's going to bring?

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


Went to Camelot this morning, after I'd played my clarinet and James had done his tenor horn. I had a bit of time to write before we left, I'm quite pleased with what I ended up with. I went on the Whirlwind, a spinning rollercoaster, it's pretty good. Didn't spin as much as the last time I went on though, least, I don't think it did. It threw it down while we were there though, so we went home kinda early. Spent the afternoon reading, and went to Bamber Bridge library, and my clarinet lesson. And that was about it. My day.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Monday 27th July

We went up to the RAF Museum in Cosford on this day. Mum stayed in the caravan, cos she was feeling a bit off colour, but James, Dad and I went up. It was a bit off a drive, but it's a fantastic museum. If you're ever anywhere near, you really should go take a look. It's not just all aeroplanes either. Well, there are a heck of a lot of aeroplanes, ranging in size from this tiny little man-carrying kite used by u-boats in the Second World War right up to a mammoth transport plane, the three V bombers (Victor, Vulcan and Valiant), a Pave Low helicopter which only came out of Afghanistan last year... The Cold War gallery is amazing. For a start, it's in a pretty noticeable building. For seconds, inside is an amazing selection of aircraft (that's where the V bombers live), integrated with displays explaining different aspects of the Cold War, from MAD (mutually assured destruction), CND, the Berlin Airlift (looking at it, that has got to be one of the most spectacular aerial operations ever. The sheer quantities they were taking in! And the number of aircraft--one would land ever 90 seconds at the height of the airlift!), the differences between East and West, and so on. There were a couple of tanks and cars mingled in with the aircraft too.

If the Cold War gallery isn't enough reason for you to visit, there's a brilliant hands on exhibit called Fun 'n' Flight, which shows the practicalities of all the various aspects of flying. I didn't go in this time, it was pretty busy, but my brother did and he definitely enjoyed themselves. There's also a brilliant collection of Second World War aircraft, all with nice labels telling you what they were etc, and information about the particular craft on display. They had an example of the only jet-propelled aircraft ever used operationally. It looked pretty cute, but apparently was tricky to fly and liable to explode due to the volatile nature of the fuel... They had a Spitfire of course--everywhere seems to have them for some reason ;), and a development of the Lancaster Bomber which is virtually identical apart from the fact it's bigger. Then there's an incredible display of model aircraft. Actually, there's two displays of them, in different places (I'm sure there was only one the last time we went, presumably the collection did what my own is doing and kinda grew). It's great because it lets you see the aircraft that you no longer get to see such as the old biplanes etc which being made from wood and canvas were not exactly easy to preserve, and you can see how they look like in comparison to other ones. Quite impressive.

Dungeon, Fire and Sword

This book is a history of the Knights Templar, made popular by recent films/books which rather dramatise their existence. It also carries a lot of information about the Crusades, and cannot be described as anything other than a substantial piece of non-fiction. Fascinating, and I desperately wanted to know what happened to the Templars at the end, which it explained well. I don't think it helped that I entered with absolutely no knowledge whatsoever about this aspect of history, other than the vague references in Robin Hood. It was very interesting to learn about how the order started. A bunch of knights wanted to dedicate themselves to protecting the pilgrims heading for Jerusalem, in a manner similar to the monastic orders. This was a rather radical step to take: pledging themselves to individual poverty (the order owned all the wealth, and made sure that all their knights were fully equipped--a rather expensive proposition as they needed two horses, armour, etc), chastity and service. It traces the activities of the order through all the intrigues in the Holy Land, right up to the point where, expelled militarily from the land, forced to retire to their own places in various countries, devoid of the purpose for which they had come about, they were brought down. If you've the time to read it, and an interest in finding out what they were really like, I'd really recommend it. Full of intrigue and action, it reads almost like a novel, albeit a rather chunky one. I'm amazed at the wealth of information that the author's been able to assemble to be honest.

Denmark and Norway 1940 - Hitler's Boldest Operation

Another Osprey book, in the campaign series, and it was fascinating. The operation describes is a little known 'incident' shortly before the evacuation at Dunkirk, and it seems to have been rather overshadowed by its successor. I've seen it described as the 'practice' for Operation Dynamo (the evacuation of Dunkirk). Hitler, encouraged by one of his generals, started to feel a bit nervous about Norway. If the Allies took it over, they could effectively trap him in, and, though not a primary concern at the moment because the USSR was still part of the non-aggression pact, it would open a trade route through to Russia. So he decided upon a pre-emptive invasion, and set things in motion for the capture of these two neutral states (he took over Denmark in order to link in to Norway). He set up a puppet government in Norway under a guy called Quisling, which is where we get the word quisling from, meaning a traitorous git, basically. He used elite mountain troops, and though Britain tried to stop him, the counter operation was something of a fiasco. Well written, if somewhat dry, it serves as a good introduction to the campaign, and left me with something of an interest in finding out more. The explanations of what happened etc were very well done, and I must admit I think I prefer the Campaign series to the Essential History ones (both published by Osprey, and available in e-book format, although I read them normally).

Painting Plates

I was at the museum again today, and the lady with two rather demanding children was there again. One of them asked if she could have my example, which I hadn't even finished at that point, and then she wanted the photo frame I'd made on Friday. Was I being mean to say no? I don't think so--she was making her own anyway. I rather wish I hadn't made that one on Friday to be honest. I mean, it was good fun and all, but then these two girls (same ones) wanted to make identical ones, and it had taken me long enough, and lets be fair, I'm sixteen, I'm gonna find stuff like that a lot more easy than a kid half my age. So I then had to help them make theirs, draw pictures for them, etc. It turned out that theirs were about half my work and half their own. Thankfully today I sat myself on another table and was 'helping' (I admit it, I was mostly just making my own and laughing with the grownups), and so I didn't have to deal with them too much. I don't think I could cope as a primary school teacher. In fact, I know I couldn't.

It was pretty good fun though. And I'm quite chuffed with my plate. It looks pretty good, although it did take rather a long time. I also now look like I have quite a nasty rash, but it is, in fact, just red paint from washing out the pots.

Met Simon in Preston this morning very briefly, to pass on a coding book. Congratulations to him having now done his uni work and finished it all off, after something of a panic last night. Prayer works. I also went to the library--took three books back, got out another three :D. I really must catch up with these book reviews, I'm about forty behind or something ridiculous like that.

Friday, 21 August 2009


I got my AS results yesterday. Went into college again for the first time since the holidays, and got to see everyone. Well, almost everyone at any rate. I got 6 A's (English Language, English Lit, History, Maths, Sociology and Critical Thinking)... So I was pretty chuffed, as you can imagine :D.

We went out in the evening to celebrate. All the way up to Dave's Chippy, cos I love fish and chips. And we went via Blackburn Library, cos, well, you know what I'm like about libraries. Blackburn library's pretty good to be honest, I recokon it's better than the Harris (which isn't exactly difficult, but y' know). Just a shame it's in Blackburn... :( . Anyway, had yummy fish and chips and onion rings for tea, and am still somewhat full up on them now.

Museum of Lancashire

Yeh, I'm way behind with letting you all know what I got up to over my holidays, so I figure I'll just start from here with the whole what I've been doing thing. As of Monday last week, I've been volunteering at the Museum of Lancashire, doing 2 and a half days a week. It's great fun, and I'm learning a lot about how museums are run. For example, I had no idea about the amount of work involved in keeping the museum tidy (I blame messy kids--and adults--for leaving the stuff in the boxes all screwed up etc). The Victorian Schoolroom's the worst if someone's left it in a state, because there's so much in there. Last week, I went in and four of the pinafores were knotted at the back, all the slates needed wiping as did the blackboard, the slate pencils were on the floor, etc. Anyway, it's not too bad. I've been helping more with the activities recently, helping people with getting paint, cleaning up, showing them what to do, etc.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Napoleonic Wars (1) - The Rise of the Emporer 1805-1807

This was about the military campaigns, but I found it a little difficult to follow because I know virtually nothing about the French Revolution. It was, however, quite interesting as it describes how Napoleon was able to crush the huge empires that surrounded him. I was able to follow the actual fighting quite clearly, but the whys of the fighting were not quite as detailed in explanation. To be fair, it's a military history, so you don't expect there to be much detail with regard to that. I think the best part of these books is that they give you a detailed description of one soldier, not necessarily a very significant one either. So yeh, it's a pretty good overview of the military side, but there's not a huge quantity of detail. I have to admit, that though it has plenty of rather nice maps, I'm not the greatest lover of maps...

God's Fury, England's Fire

This was a book on the Civil War, and it was fascinating. I read most of it on the way down to Oxford and back for a history trip to look round the university. It was brilliantly engaging, and instead of just focussing on the major events, it looked at the smaller ones that surrounded them, at the individuals who took part. It also looked a lot at the social impacts, rather than just the campaigns. I think perhaps the most interesting thing about it for me was the description of the explosion of printed material that took place with the effective end of censorship. All the pamphlets and petitions! It makes our society look rather pathetic with regard to letting people know about what's going on. It was also the birth of the newspaper, as people were desparate to find out what was happening (understandable in the midst of a Civil War...), but not all of the stuff out there was reliable. So these newsbooks started up that claimed to tell the truth. A very interesting book, if rather long and with quite small print. If you don't mind the small print though, it's a good book.

Sundday 26th July

Well, this was the day we moved to Birmingham. When we got there, I just wanted to stay in and read, especially once it started raining. My parents and brother went off to the transport museum round the corner, then because it was raining when my mum came back (she got tired), she insisted I went round with raincoats for my dad and James. Found James, but couldn't find my dad--apparently he'd gone home pretty much the same time I arrived. I didn't find it all that interesting to be honest--old busses really aren't my thing. But if you fancy seeing a bunch of old busses and milk carts and whatever, it is quite an impressive collection. Anyway, I gave James his coat and wandered back to the van. James did not come back for ages, so Dad went round to rescue him. Apparently, he had the bright idea of sitting on a little kids chair. And my brother is not exactly a little kid--he's bigger than me (not too difficult I admit). So the chair kinda collapsed. He went up to my dad and said 'my bum hurts' or words to that effect. Couldn't help but laugh when I heard the story...

Thursday, 6 August 2009

The Bourne Identity

Wow! This book was good! I really need to work out what the next one in the series is. It's got great action scenes, and wonderful chases etc. I guess people are probably familiar with the plot from the films, but I wasn't, so I think that entitles me to say a bit about it. Jason Bourne wakes up with no idea who he is, where he came from, or what he's done to wind up being rescued from the ocean. He starts, however, to discover frightening secrets from his past when he determines to find out. His only clue is a numbered bank account. And the fact that he finds himself disturbingly good at fighting people...

He grabs a woman to use as a hostage during an attempt by the police to snatch him, and finds himself on the run, from both authorities and from a mysterious assassin. All the evidence he can find points to them being competitors.

I'd highly recommend this book. Never seen the film, but I bet it's not a patch on this. Film's rarely are.

Saturday 25th July

We stopped in the caravan in the morning, mainly cos Mum had a cold and she wasn't feeling so good. So we figured to head up to Birmingham instead of down to Bristol like we'd originally planned the next day. So we sat about and read/watched tv/ did some of the distance learning course I'm doing on the Old Testament. We went into Cheltenham in the evening, because Mum wanted to go to a garden. And plus we'd seen this ace model shop, but I hadn't had a chance to go in, so naturally I had to persuade my parents that would be a good idea. I've finished my massive helicopter see, so I need a new challenge, and my birthday's coming up. After much looking around, I settled on a Dakota, which comes complete with stand and paints and glue and brushes (definite bonus as my brushes are rather tatty now). It's about a hundred pieces--for obvious reasons I don't have the box here to tell you exactly. Looks good fun at any rate.

We had a nosey round the parks and that which Mum wanted to do, stopped in one for a drink, and that was about it for our last day in Cheltenham. Oh, we packed stuff away a bit in the evening too, ready for departure the next day.

The English Civil Wars: 1642-1651

This is a good intro to the military side of the Civil Wars. It deals briefly with the reasons for the conflict, but these books are about military history (another Osprey Essential Histories one), and so you don't really expect to have too much detail with regard to the why. As I started out with absolutely no idea of what happened, why, or anything like that (the only thing I can remember doing at school with regard to the English Civil War was colouring in pictures of cavaliers and roundheads--although I wasn't even sure which one was which side), anything was news to me. I enjoyed reading this actually, it was very good for an overview of the campaigning, it talked about the Battle of Preston, which was quite fun because there's a restaurant not far from us in which apparently Cromwell stayed during the battle, and it talked about the military reasons for the failure of the king. I have still, however, to work out what happened afterwards and why. It seemed to end a little abruptly, but to be fair, once the campaigns have ended and the war is won, military history is a bit unnecessary.

Friday 24th July

Today we went to the Mechanical Music Museum. It was awesome! It also constitutes my earliest memory--I must've been about two the last time we went, but I can remember bits of it. I also remembered a doll shop opposite, and my parents were kinda stunned. So was I really. But I do remember going in there.

Anyway, if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend you head to this museum. It's fascinating! It doesn't look like much, I have to admit, it's all in two rooms, and one of the rooms is a shop. But the museum room is stuffed full of, well, mechanical music. It ranges from amazing boxes that you can open up, wind up, and they play fantastic music using pins and a metal comb. And the boxes are pretty stunning in themselves, before you even start playing the music from them. Then there were ones that were in effect record players with a load of little bits that got pushed down by the 'record' and played a tune. And then, and these were my favourites, they had three machines that would have been in a pub. They were early jukeboxes, and they were fantastic. They played music off a giant disk, but there was no electricity in them at all. They had bells and a xylophone type thing and drums and all sorts. Quite incredible. Then there were the gramophones and phonographs. Same principle behind each, but the gramophone used a disk while the phonograph used a cylinder (and worked better because it didn't have to change speed depending on where on the disk it was). But gramophones ended up becoming the accepted version, and now it doesn't matter that we use disks which are strictly speaking not as good, because we've got microchips that tell the CD/DVD player how fast to go using pies. There were also automatons, which were quite impressive. They were basically things that wound up and did stuff (danced, sung, popped out of cans etc).

We went to the town nearby after that (sorry, can't remember which it was at this particular moment, I'm not good with names), and had a bit of a wander round. Quite fun. Got lunch from Tesco (we know how to live it up, don't we!), and yeh, that was about it for Friday.

Another 12 Miles

Yesterday was pretty good. Spent the morning doing very little, apart from reading and doing one or two chores. Then I cycled all the way to Bethany in one go, and didn't even get off my bike to go up the big hill on London Road, so I was quite chuffed with myself. Took me 35 minutes to get there, which is probably similar to what the buses would take, depending on whether or not they lined up nicely (which they don't often). And then I got home in 21 minutes. Which means I was doing an average speed of about 18 mph coming home, despite having to stop a couple of times and nearly getting crushed between a car and a bus. The bus had stopped in front of me (I was going a lot faster than the bus was taking, I caught up to it), and there was not a whole lot of space to get round the outside, because there was traffic coming. But I figured there was space enough for a bike, so I tootled up in front of this car that was peering round the corner, and started to go round the side. At that point, the car decided to join in the fun and started going round the bus. I don't think he can have seen me, because I had about an inch either side of me, and nearly got turned into a sandwich :(. But I'm here and safe.

We had Aunty Lynne and Uncle Mike and Esther and Granddad Derek and Anne round last night for a bit of a party, because it's Aunty Lynne's birthday today, and Granddad's soon too. So we had prawn cocktail (I made the sauce, it turned out really good and it was dead easy). Then we had ham and onion sauce. The onion sauce is my favourite--I'm less fussed about the ham. And we had American biscuits too, and cake. Yum. So, twas good fun. And then Aunty Lynne came back with a saxophone which I'm borrowing over the summer, to have a go at teaching myself. Unfortunately, she sorta forgot the music books, so although I've had a bit of a go at guessing how to do the notes (I play clarinet already, so I have a bit of an idea of how it goes), I don't know what any of them actually are... It's hard, cos you don't blow so hard into it, so I kept blowing too hard and making it squeak (which is not so easy on a clarinet).