Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Boleyn Inheritance

The Boleyn Inheritance is not the first of Philippa Gregory's books I've read. But right now, after finishing it a couple of days ago, it's my favourite.

In this one, the focus shifts to Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, and Jane Boleyn, wife of George and sister-in-law to Anne Boleyn.

Each chapter is told by each of the three women, as their story unfolds.

Anne of Cleves comes across as a thoughtful young woman, with a lot more wits about her than realised by the court.

And even Katherine Howard is not as stupid as everybody thinks. Unfortunately for her, she is young, 14 at the start of the story, and not 17 when she faces death by beheading, and she doesn't see the plotting that goes on at court behind her back.

Jane Boleyn is the more complex of the three characters. She betrayed her husband and sister-in-law when she became a witness against them, accusing them of sleeping together so that Anne Boleyn could become pregnant and give the king the son he so desperately wanted. At the start of this book, we find Jane brought back to court by her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, chief manipulator, who is portayed as using the women of the family to bring riches and advancement to the Howard family.

This is historical fiction of course, but I was surprised to find in Wikipedia that some of the detail was historically accurate. Like the fact that Katherine Howard, imprisoned in the Tower of London, practised putting her head on the block while awaiting her execution.

Philippa Gregory doesn't take us into the thoughts of the male protagonists, and they don't come out good. Henry VIII appears as a fat monster, with a festering leg wound that smells almost worse than his constant farts. I'm still watching my box set of the Tudors - I've reached the point where Henry has annulled his marriage to Anne of Cleves and is about to marry Katherine Howard. But Jonathan Rhys Meyers is still as good looking as ever. Maybe he's not a method actor, or maybe he just couldn't put on the weight. But he does portray the utter selfishness and self-absorption of the King beautifully.

Given the choice between the TV series and the books, I'd pick the books, but they do complement each other very well, it has to be said.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Siobhan Ryan, 12 May, stripy black and white dress, black jacket

I thought I had missed this one again on the RTE Player, but thankfully it was still there. Siobhan Ryan was wearing a striking stripy black and white dress with a slimming black band on the side. But again, with a jacket over it, which doesn't work for me! I would love to see the dress without a jacket please!!

Jean Byrne - 17 May - new yellow dress

At long last, a new dress for Jean. And it's gorgeous on her, draping beautifully.
PS: You can't really see her ring on this photo but it was quite a knuckle duster!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Paper is a new App I found for my iPad. It's like a lovely little sketchbook you carry with you everywhere. The app is free, but you have to pay for extra pens and tools - they are so lovely you won't be able to resist, though!!

Here is a little sketch I did yesterday (I'm looking at fat-burning exercises, in case you're wondering!):

I have plenty of actual sketchbooks, but I don't tend to carry them with me, so I don't use them as much as I should. Hopefully this new app will help me get back into drawing and sketching. Something I'm not very good at!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Siobhan Ryan, 10 May, Black dress

Funny shape, this black dress that Siobhan Ryan was wearing last night. But it strangely suits her.

The Marvel Avengers

I love everything written by Joss Whedon - Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly are two of my all-time TV favourites. He's the main reason I picked Marvel's The Avengers for a movie outing last weekend, despite the fact that it was only available in 3D in our local cinema. But the dreaded headache didn't materialise, so I can't say that 3D gives me headaches anymore, since I've gone to two 3D movies in my life and one gave me a headache (Avatar) and one didn't (The Avengers).

In many ways, The Avengers is typical blockbuster fare - big muscles, big baddies, the world is at risk, a strong sexy female character, big monsters, big explosions, New York is being attacked, ... You get the picture. And it took a little while to get going - the scene needs to be set of course for bringing together all these unique heroes - Captain America, the Black Widow, Iron Man, Thor, Hawk Eye, and Hulk. But once it gets going, it goes at a mad pace, and the one-liners are flying non-stop.

Not sure what the little 8-year-old girl in the row in front of us made of it, though. I think she was mostly bored, but her dad (who most likely was the one who really wanted to see the movie) kept her quiet with soft drinks and pop corn, so everybody was happy.

I said I love everything by Joss Whedon - Am I ready for the Cabin in the Woods though?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hanneke van Ryswyk

Went to the launch of Hanneke van Ryswyk's "Archipelagos" exhibition at the Olivier Cornet Gallery last night. Beautiful luminous work - acrylics on board never looked so ethereal. Also on show are monotype prints - very striking too, although on a much smaller scale.

Interesting introduction by Jeremy Hill of the Norman Gallery - with references to Bruce Chatwin's The Songlines and aboriginal paintings from Papunya. It's all about the view from above, from a plane, a satellite or your mind's eye.

Pictures don't do the work justice - the textures and luminosity are out of this world. Drop in to the Olivier Cornet Gallery - you won't be disappointed.


Described as "that rare place where crime fiction and literature coincide, Sister, by Rosamund Lupton, is the beautiful, yet chilling, story of Beatrice, a young woman who comes back to London when her sister Tess disappears suddenly. Everybody has given up on finding Tess alive, but she keeps on investigating. I couldn't put it down.

Siobhan Ryan - 1 May - Purple jacket

Can't find the Six One News clip from the 1st of May on the RTE Player - I thought they kept programs on the system for 21 days? Anyways, Siobhan Ryan was wearing a purple jacket that day - nice as it was, I'm a bit worried that she's been put under pressure to cover her arms? Or maybe it's just cold on the set? But I didn't think the jacket went well with the dress - it looked a bit thrown together at the last minute, which is not Siobhan's usual style!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Used plenty of paper over the weekend, but nothing worth framing. I'll have one more go and then I'll move on,whether it works out or not. Colours are indigo, prussian blue and madder brown, with a touch of yellow ochre in one of them.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

M1-5 - The second Passenger

This is probably the best of all the watercolour doodles I painted at the weekend. I used Hahnemuehle Cornwall 450gsm Panorama block (20x50cm) rough. It's a strong paper, with a lovely canvas texture, producing unusual effects with watercolour paint.

Saturday, May 05, 2012


It started well - an all-action, spy, political, thriller, all set within 24 hours, each episode an hour long, showing the events in real time.

But 24 just didn't work - we've just finished watching the First Season (I know, I know, we're 10 years behind the rest of the world!) and I don't know what the fuss was all about.

OK, plenty of significant characters, even innocents, are killed off, so I can't accuse it of being too sugary sweet, far from it. But my problem with it is that it's just not plausible. Too much time spent hugging and telling one another of their love, but not enough wondering how they're going to escape from the deadly trap they're in. And being the teenage daughter of a special agent certainly makes Kim a brave young woman and a silly teenager all at once. And the baddies have no problem killing off extras on the set, but when it comes to actually killing their targets, they constantly waste time and tie them up and take them prisoner instead of shooting straight for the head/heart. And security agents constantly walk into traps all by themselves - and nobody back at base ever wonders why they're not reporting on their status. And, let's face it, Jack Bauer is completely invincible, so I don't know why the baddies keep on trying.

And the mole - don't get me started about the mole - so well hidden that it's only 3 hours before the end that his/her identity is revealed - and their behaviour for the last 21 hours was completely inconsistent with that of an active mole.

Having read the summary of the following 7 Seasons in Wikipedia, I really don't think I'll be able to watch any more.

Plenty of twists and action (Jack Bauer's wife and daughter face death 3 times in 24 hours, Palmer, twice; as for Jack, I've stopped counting) but not enough attention to realistic detail for me. Maybe we've come to expect a lot more from our television in the last 10 years? Or am I missing something?

Friday, May 04, 2012

Bus trips from Nice

Nice's bus and tram network is quite extensive, and so easy to use (but then again, I speak French, so of course I would find it easy).

And so cheap. Apart from the airport bus, for which you will pay €4, all bus and tram trips carry a fare of €1. Actually, the €4 fare for the airport is a day ticket, so keep your ticket if you're arriving early. But from what I could gather, the day ticket does not apply to Monaco. If you go to the Lignes d'Azur office on Place Masséna, they will give you a map of the area covered by the day ticket..

So we made good use of those buses - we went to St Paul de Vence (Bus number 400, about 45 minutes, every 45 minutes it would seem) and to Menton (via Monaco) - bus 100 leaves Nice every 15 minutes or so - now that journey took 2 hours, due to road works around Cap d'Ail, but once we got a seat, we didn't mind - the view was wonderful, as the road follows the coast for most of the way.

As it turns out, both buses currently leave from the same area, on opposite sides of the road, at the JC Bermond stop, which is a small road at the town end of this strange building that looks like an abandoned car park with plants hanging from the higher levels (the Google Satellite view shows a racing track - go figure?)

View Larger Map

Be prepared to fight your way onto the bus - the 100 bus was very busy, 2 buses were filled in no time at all. The French don't understand the concept of queuing, and I think they resent all those tourists swarming onto their beloved public transport. We did end up standing for a good half hour on the way to Menton - not very pleasant, but we survived, just glad it wasn't mid-summer. And some of the drivers seem to ignore all the rules - talking on their mobile phones while driving and chatting to the passengers standing near the entrance. But the roads were good, and our journeys were by and large smooth.