Archive for the 'Culture' Category

I read kids’ books, not just Harry Potter but Percy Jackson and more…many more

People are often amazed when I tell them that I like reading books for children.  In fact someone asked me recently how could I even have time for reading at all.  Actually the answers to the two questions are related.

It is partly true to say that I have been reading lots of kids books over the past 4-5 years or so in order to recommend them to my own children.  My eldest son is almost 12, he has been turned from a reluctant read to quite enthusiastic once he found the right books: Harry Potter, Diary of the Wimpy Kid and Percy Jackson, BTW.

When do I get the time being a working mum and with loads of “projects” on the go?  In fact, there is lots of hanging around involved with children so it is very handy to have a little kindle to pull out of the bag for a few minutes here and there.  I do become gripped by some stories that I end up reading late at night.

But why kids books?

I have heard suggestions of a quick and easy read that can be done and dusted in a few hours with out being too taxing – but that is ladies describing Mills and Boon – not my cup of tea at all.

GOOD kids books are certainly not simplistic – not in terms of their story or the language used.  In fact I am full of admiration for those who write them really well. Witty dialogue, lots of light humour, gripping stories with suspense and twisting turning plots.

It was December 2000 when I read my first Harry Potter book, which was actually the first children’s book I had read in almost twenty years, since I was at school.  I actually read all four that were published at that point and I was hooked.  As so many other adults know JKR is an exceptionally gifted writer and story teller.  Actually it is hard to read anything else after that without feeling you are reading something not quite as good.

Kid’s literature (for age 9+) does not equate to simplistic stories or childish writing.  The books may be just as complex in story line and language as those for adults.  In fact, I would say the MAIN thing (possibly the only thing) that makes it different is the age of the central characters, they are children or teenagers not adults.  That in turn leads on to other really good things about books for children – no sex! no swearing! minimal romance.  I’m not interested in reading about romance but it is OK if it is a minor sub-plot.  The romance in Harry Potter was quite enough for me.

We all know loads of adults have read Harry Potter but did you know there are loads of adults reading kids books these days.  Actually it estimated that something like half the books published for Young Adults (age 12-17) are actually bought specifically by adults to read themselves.  So there are loads of people like me!

Some of the books for children that I’m pleased I have read include (in no particular order) and that I intend to read more by the same author when possible:

  • all of the Percy Jackson & Kane Chronicles books by Rick Riordan
  • The Hunted by Alex Shearer
  • The Hunger Games trilogy by S Collins
  • The Misfits by James Howe
  • The Glass Collector by Anna-Perera
  • The Bone Magician F.E.Higgins
  • books by Morris Gleitzman

I am coming to the conclusion that for me:

  • A well written book with young people as the main protagonists is perhaps a way of reminding me of when I was younger with my whole life and endless possibilities in front of me and I like that.
  • I like the optimism and humour in the books I enjoy (yes there was not enough humour in the Hunger Games – I’m glad I read it, I did not say I think it is perfect).
  • I read escapist books taking me into a different world, sometimes science fiction or fantasy but not always.

Shelfie – what do your book shelves look like?

I am fascinated to see other people’s book shelves so here is some of mine.
I am about to write a blog about the things I read but here is the photo first.


Now what i can tell you about this image is that I like my books generally grouped in themes. Mr TP has some sort of OCD problem so it tortures him to see books on their sides on top of the others. They should all be standing very neatly and perhaps in alphabetical order.

When I say OCD problem, it is no problem to him, he knows how he wants things to look. I am the one with the problem, I have to live with him and his funny ways! I’m happy with my shelves looking like this and MY books are arranged in a sensible order that I understand. It works – I know where to find any particular book and I do not need to remember the name of the author.

Despite having a small library at home I do try to get rid of books frequently, so you can see on my shelves there really are just the very best and the classics that one would want to read or refer to time and time again (and a few I haven’t read or am only half way through or just can’t decide whether I want to keep them or not…).

We saw the Musical Rent at the Margate Theatre Royal

last night and what a good show it was.  Well worth the £10 per seat.

It is described as an amateur production but many of the young people in the show are extremely talented, have trained in performing arts and are likely to make careers on the stage.  If you are thinking about it, do go see it:

The show moved me to tears.  But then I have known an Angel.

Two disappointments – the sound is not great at the Theatre Royal and that the theatre was so empty.

I think there are a lot of places to go out in Thanet every night of the week – Theatres and cinemas as well as other stuff to do – but a limited thanet population with limited funds.

Finally, I was wondering if I could take my 10 year old son to see Rent.  a part of the story is about drug abuse and HIV.  Having seen this production I would be happy to take a child of 10+ to see it.  There was nothing too explicit only implied, the music and dancing was great and I think what he didn’t understand he just would not have noticed.

What are the Toilets Like at Margate’s Turner Contemporary Art Gallery!

There was a lot of things I liked about the gallery especially the work exhibits by artists  Conrad Shawcross and by Ellen Henry, the spectacular view as you leave the building and the Cafe area.  The toilets, however, leave a lot to be desired.  You can read many reviews of the gallery and the opening exhibition so i thought I’d focus on something different.

If I had visited the Gallery with Mr Tara Plumbing we would have discussed the quality of the fixtures and fittings and whether everything was level. As I visited it with my children I didn’t really have the time to look at the finer details just the big picture.   The space given over to toilet habits is too small.  I didn’t count how many cubicles were in the ladies, perhaps four, but the cramped area outside of the cubicles leaves no space for people passing.  How impractical in what is expected to be a very busy space if the projected visitor numbers are accurate.  With so few toilets there can easily be a queue and with little children it was difficult to move.  In fact, after doing the toilet thing it was so cramped and noisy I did not even wash my hands!  I thought I had some sanitising hand gel on my person but instead I went into the baby changing room to attend to hygiene needs.

It was hard enough with little children, how is an adult to use the toilets if they are carry a baby in some sort of baby carry contraption or in a pushchair?  You could not reasonably get a buggy in there so there would be no alternative but to join the queue for the one and only loo for disabled people.  I did not look in there but it must be big enough.  There is a baby changing room, as I said, what a shame they did not put a toilet or two in there to make it a family room.  Or simply give over just a little bit more space to the toilets to make adequate public facilities.


Toilets aside there was one other feature of the building which I feel compelled to mention, going up to the first floor.  There was a fantastic lift which is great for wheelchair users and pram pushers, can take up to 100 people, but the stairs were narrow and steep, almost as narrow as a domestic stair case.  What were they thinking?  That the public are getting so fat and lazy that very few will ever use the stairs? I am not sure if there is a secret staircase behind a fire door because I can not believe this one stair case would be suitable for rapid evacuation.

There are lots of things to like about the Art Gallery.  The galleries are nice spaces, the sea views are lovely.  The view over Margate as you leave was very well planned and the outside space for beverage consumption reminds me of London’s Southbank, which is good for me but not everyone’s cup of tea.

The gallery is small.  It is a gallery for Kent and would not have a wider catchment area.  I will be totally amazed if I hear of visitors travelling from the greater London area or anywhere beyond Kent specifically and only because of this gallery.

Just adding some photos of the gents from Michael Child.  When we went we took our camera but it had no memory disc in it!  Anyone wanting to see all there is to see except the ladies toilets should click on the links from Michael’s blog, Thanet on Line, about the Turner Gallery.

Michael has also taken photo’s of all the works of Art along Ramsgate’s Wall.  This is another free exhibition! To view you just need to visit the Main Sands.


Funny Plumbing Comedy on Radio 4

If you like words and clever, funny comdey, trust me and listen to this before it is too late, only 6 days left!  I mention it specifically because there is a whole lot about moving a boiler and visit from the plumber.

it is Tom Wrigglesworth Open Letters on Radio 4, thursday evening episode 2 (10 Feb 2011).  Starts by taking about utility companies and call centres.  about the medness of buying electric from the gas company and that how can they be competing when we get the same thing!

Great subjects but original really funny stuff with the climax of the show being about how a small plumbing issue can result in a Plumber from a Mario game bringing the house down.  I laughed out loud and will be listening again.

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