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w/e 2019-09-01

We’ve been on holiday in Herefordshire for the past ten days or so, and have been more fortunate with the weather than the same time last year. It’s been a gorgeous, quiet and relaxing stay although I haven’t quite been able to shake the “I should be doing something” feeling.

Photo of mist in  Grey Valley
Mist in Grey Valley, Herefordshire (1)

On Tuesday, having no car but plenty of time, we took the weekly bus to Abergavenny, which takes over an hour to work its way the 11½ as-the-crow-flies miles. Although it’s slow the journey is pleasant, and not only because of the views of rolling countryside and the Black Mountains. We were probably the youngest passengers on the bus, the others making their regular journey to do a shop and have lunch before catching the one bus back home at 2pm. They all knew each other (a chorus of “Hello Carol!” as she got on) and knew the way better than the first-time-on-this-route driver (“There’ll be someone waiting at the stop just round this bend… there she is!”, “Go up here and then turn round at the council estate”).

Abergavenny was nice enough and we’d already identified a place for lunch and coffee that suited our metropolitan demographic, Bean & Bread, which was tasty. Next time we’ll give the other likely option, Fig Tree Espresso, a go. The other highlight was Broadleaf Books — it’s been some time since I was in a proper secondhand bookshop (as opposed to the fairly mundane selections found in charity shops) and I should do it more. Like father, like son.

If you’re not following @samuelpepys or or reading the website then may I remind you that within hours of this post going live it will be 2nd September 1666 for this iteration of Mr Pepys, which is when things suddenly, er, heat up for him and London.

We watched season one of Big Little Lies which I knew nothing about beforehand and it was very good. The various relationships and their plots would have been interesting anyway but the knowledge (from the beginning) that someone had died, possibly killed by someone else, added an extra ominous layer over everything. It’s been a while since I felt so tense watching a show. Not quite The Shield levels of tension — that’s probably the most stressful telly I’ve watched — but still more than I’d have expected from these storylines. Nicely constructed.

Good performances all round, too, with Laura Dern’s Renata maybe my favourite for the range of emotions and states she showed. Reese Witherspoon was good too — Madeline could so easily have been a one-dimensional and overbearing annoyance but she had a self-awareness and depth that she wouldn’t in many shows. I’m looking forward to watching season two especially as that’s directed by Andrea Arnold.

We also got through season four of Justified which continues to be good fun. I felt it lacked a big, main characterful baddy, like Robert Quarles or Mags Bennett from previous seasons, who were so good, but I guess the hunt for Drew Thompson made this storyline more of a “whoisit” than a “defeat the baddy”. It’s still very, very male-dominated, but Abby Miller as Ellen May was good.

Photo of mist in  Grey Valley
Mist in Grey Valley, Herefordshire (2)

I read The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West which was good, brief, and an easy read (which always surprises me with old books — this is from 1939 — but it probably shouldn’t). I’d understood it was all about old Hollywood, although the film industry is mainly background to the story.

I also read Design as Art by Bruno Munari which I guess is a brilliant classic? Some of it’s very dated, understandably. Some of it’s still very relevant — there are probably some great quotes in it for people putting together presentations about user-centred design. And it’s probably a great source of ideas for simple exercises for art students. Also, thumbs up for, I think, saying there are probably enough different chair designs now (in 1966).

I haven’t posted any favourite questions from Ask MetaFilter for a while (although there have been a couple in my links) so here are some from the past couple of months:

It’s September! Which, even if you’re not attending or working in education is the real start of a new year – January makes too much fuss about its whole New Year thing. And the financial new year is just crazy. September is the real new year. So, have a great year. A new start. Everything’s fine, and I can’t see how 2019/20 can possibly go wrong!

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