The Three Hostages by John Buchan
The Three Hostages by John Buchan is the fourth instalment in the Richard Hannay Stories, and deals with his adventures after World War 1.
Set seven years after The Thirty-Nine Steps, it pits Hannay against a charismatic rising star of the political firmament, Dominick Medina.
The three hostages of the title are the victims of an international conspiracy, with Medina at its centre, to hypnotise members of the families of important public figures and then manipulate them for criminal ends.
In this story he is joined by some familiar faces, notably his feisty wife Mary, and the Scottish laird, adventurer and master of disguise, Sandy Arbuthnot. When Hannay is first asked to help find the hostages, the only clue as to their whereabouts lies in some cryptic lines of verse which the malefactors have left dangling tantalisingly in front of their pursuers. Hannay is forced to wrestle with obscure classical and literary references in order to track them down and the recollection of an equally arcane Latin quotation overheard by Sandy finally leads to Medina.
To get to this end Hannay has to allow himself to seemingly become taken over by Medina, as he tries to use his mind bending tricks to gain control of his subjects.
A very enjoyable book and certainly as good as the first three, though probably not as well known. This was book 33 week 23 fiction 31 (9 on audio) non fiction 2
This blog is all about our choice of free November wallpaper at www.fullersfolio.co.uk
Autumn Coloured Oak Leaves
Living out here in the country in the North Tyne it is easy to tell what time of year it is by just looking around. The first frost have had a go at the trees and the green pigment starts to fade turning the green leaves to their glorious autumn colours.
We have some images taken of previous years that we thought would make a good wallpaper for the month.
Russet coloured Sycamore Leaves
This year at the time of writing the colours are just on the turn but needs a couple more weeks of drying cooler weather to get that all important colour pallet.
November Wallpaper, with Calendar
The roads all around the North Tyne and over into Scotland are lined with a rich blanket of trees that come together making these glorious patchworks of colour – just perfect for a dull November day.
We hope you like our choice, and hopefully we have included all common screen size combinations, so you can enjoy it too.
This is a book review on the book Faith Hope Love & Everything in Between, which I have been reading over the last few days. What an amazing book, there are gems and nuggets of brilliance on nearly every page. Though it was very readable, I did not want to hurry it in case I forgot something, so I limited myself to a chapter a day.
The whole theme of the book is that Life is a Journey and not a destination with a stop at the end. It is how we make the Life's journey is the key. Mick helps give understanding to some of the great mysteries in life, and encourages a trust in God along the whole of the journey.
Out of the many gems that I picked up as I read the book was the one that as a Christian we should be like lighthouses. Lighthouses are seen and recognised, in the daylight they are normally in a visible position, and at night time they shine a light out. It is a passive action, they are just going about their normal role and others view them, recognise and respect them for what they are.
So this is a real challenge – do others recognise me as a lighthouse?
The book used up to date research and data to expand, challenge and provoke thought on the various themes it covers, to expand on the idea that life is a journey that we are all travelling along. A handbook for living the Christian life.
All in all a very good book which helps develop a closer relationship with God and others, one that could be highly recommended. This was book 32 week 22 fiction 20 (9 on audio) non fiction 2
The Pool of Bethesda
This is a blog article referring to John's Gospel chapter 5 -
At the time of writing this it is in the news that Pope Benedict XVI has named seven new saints, one of which is Kateri Tekakwitha. Now I have never heard of Kateri Tekakwitha before but the web tells me that she lived in the 17th Century, and impressed missionaries with her deep spirituality. It is claimed that she was involved in the miraculous healing of a Native American child, being ravaged by a flesh eating bacterium.
I don't have any problems with the miracle, but I do believe that it was God who performed the healing, working through Kateri Tekakwitha, much in the same way He has worked through humans all down through the years.
If we go back 2000 years or so there was a pool in Jerusalem, which had the reputation that people were healed if they were in the water when it stirred. It is recorded that lots of disabled people used to lie around the pool waiting for the waters to stir.
One such invalid was waiting by the pool when Jesus came along. The invalid did not know who Jesus was and asked Him if he would help him get into the water. Jesus then asks him if he wants to get well?
The invalid gives an excuse as to why he can't get into the pool, and Jesus then just tells him to “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” The invalid did this and was cured.....Amazing.
All through the ages it is recorded that people have been miraculously healed but the key is not the miraculous healing but as Jesus says here
“It’s urgent that you listen carefully to this: Anyone here who believes what I am saying right now and aligns himself with the Father, who has in fact put me in charge, has at this very moment the real, lasting life and is no longer condemned to be an outsider. This person has taken a giant step from the world of the dead to the world of the living.” John 5:24 (The message)
You can read more about this amazing chapter of John's Gospel – chapter 5 in our home group notes on the chapter.
Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace
This is my blog review of the book Ben-Hur by Lew Wallace, which I listened to as an audio book.
I listened to this as a librivox recording, and it was a mega book, just under 24 hours of listening whilst in the car. It has occupied many thousand miles of travelling over the last couple of months in the car.
“Ben-Hur is a story of two very different heroes. Judah Ben-Hur, a prince of Jerusalem, is involved in an accident to the Roman procurator which is taken to be intentional. He is seized and sent to the fleet as a galley-slave, while his family is imprisoned and the family goods confiscated. When Ben-Hur saves the fleet captain from drowning after his ship is sunk in a fight with pirates, that officer adopts him as son and heir. With Roman training, Ben-Hur distinguishes himself in the arena and the palistrae and appears to be on the way to high military command. With the help of a faithful family retainer and a generous Arab sheik, Ben-Hur is enabled to take part in a widely touted chariot race, where one of the other charioteers is the boyhood friend who connived to punish him for the accident and split his estate. That rival is crippled, financially and bodily, in a no-holds-barred race. Ben-Hur turns his attention to the prophesied King of the Jews, when through the sheik he meets Balthasar, one of the Three Wise Men, and hears of the child born years ago. Will Ben-Hur be the general who brings victories to the King, and finally liberates Israel from the oppressive Roman yoke? In his quest for the answer, Ben-Hur seeks out the Nazarene, now rumoured to be The Messiah.”
This book is an amazing example of Victorian literature, and contrasts with current literature. Around 80-90% of the text is description or theorising, with just the remainder being plot and story. At times this could be very frustrating, having listened to it for an hour and the story has not moved on at all. All very different to the film of the same name that I remember from my youth, which was very dramatic.
Still all in all an enjoyable experience, and certainly makes the miles pass by when sitting on the motorway. This was book 31 week 21 (9 on audio) non fiction 1
Amazing Spiders Webs
For this blog article on the story behind the image, we will be considering the amazing spiders webs I was able to capture the other week.
Spiders Web Vibrating on Car Door
This one in the car door handle, is amazing
Spiders Web on Wooden Fence
On one of the few and far between days, when it was sunny and fine in the morning during September, we were able to capture these images. The midges were still around and evidently the spiders were having their pre-winter feasting as they had managed to build webs everywhere.
Water droplets on Spiders Web
Not only had they built webs between the fence posts,
Water Droplets on Spiders Web
they also had built them on the gate
Spiders Webs around Gutter
and all around the guttering.
Though the most amazing ones were those on the car. We did not notice the one shown above on the passenger handle until moving off, which then gave this amazing image as the threads of the web vibrate due to the cars engine. Spiders do have quite amazing building skills and strength of materials.
Flight of Eagles by Jack Higgins
This is my review for the Flight of Eagles by Jack Higgins - I love the cover of this book – it says “Jack Higgins the world's master thriller writer” - so modest. The story is about two twin brothers, born in the United States, but find themselves as on opposite sides during the second world war.
They were both pilots, and both aces, Max for the Luftwaffe and Harry for the RAF to start with then the American Air force.
By a strange twist of fate they find themselves together again in the final part of the war, and one has to save the other. The other key character in the story is Tarquin the bear, who travels around with them and is rescued repeatedly and ties the whole thing together.
This was an enjoyable book, with enough twists in it along the way to keep my interest. This was book 30 week 21 (8 on audio) non fiction 1
Cataloguing and Tagging Images
This is a post on the process I have gone through to catalogue and tag my images. Instead of focusing on a few specific images I thought it would be good to reflect on how the cataloguing of the images has been changed on our site over the last 6 months.
Initially the images were catalogued by name, but when we came to having a series of sunsets calling them sunset and sunset #1 etc .. sunset #5 etc things began to get a bit confusing.
So we changed to giving the images reference numbers. Initially the reference number was allocated randomly, as they were added to the system. This is fine for a computer, but not really much good for humans.
Say the images have ref 100 (Landscape Collection), 101 (Plants Collection), 102 (Human Collection), 103 (Plants Collection) .. 159 (Landscape Collection), 160.. etc. The trouble with this was that now a human has no idea that image 159 comes after image 100 and rapidly caused considerable confusion.
So it was decided to allocate 1000 values to the left of the decimal and 9999 to the right to each collection type, as a reference. Potentially allowing 19999 images per collection!! This should more than cover future needs.
Having worked out a reference system that was fit for purpose as the saying goes. The aim was to add this to the system. Rather than having it in a data base, it was decided to use an XML data file, as it is lightweight and easy to store and handle data. Each web page reads the small XML data file and extracts all the relevant data required about that specific image, or image collection, or tag, location, date taken etc. In fact anything relevant can be stored against the reference in the XML file and read by the web page so long as it knows what it is looking for.
Scottish Flag in the Sky
Whilst doing this at the same time I was committed to having a certain number of pages up and running by a specific date. This lead to a dilemma as it was quicker to put up the simple pages that did not need all the XML data, for example the tag and location data. So in the end around 140 pages went up without the complete XML data.
Having met the deadline, all the new pages from then on have full XML data and I am now going back and adding the extra data for the pages that went up without it.
Sycamore Gap Hadrians Wall
Now as around a third of the images have a full data compliment added we have made live the page where they can be selected by tag
Of course this now raises a further dilemma as I need to go back and add the extra data for all the images that did not get the full deal first time round, and offset that against adding new images, like these latest images, which is a far more enjoyable activity. I have set myself a task of doing so many each week, with the aim of trying to be complete by the end of the year. We shall see if I make it. (Also this could well mean that my sunset names change, but we will have to wait and see until I get to them)
There is a field behind our house that is used by the local farmer for keeping sheep. During the non summer months the farmer feeds them, driving up in his vehicle parking it by the wall and putting the feed into the feeding troughs. Fairly quickly the sheep get used to the noise of a vehicle, being related to the provision of food and coming running across the field towards the feeding troughs thinking there is food.
Sometimes mistakenly one or more of the sheep mistake our car engine for the farmers, and starts to run towards their feeding troughs. As soon as one starts to run across the field the others follow, even though there is no sign of the farmer. They all stand around waiting for the non existent food. Not that this has anything to do with the book, but is quite amusing to watch.
This book won the Man Booker Prize in 2010 and has 4 sides of quotes about how good it is at the front of the book “Full of wit warmth intelligence ….” So I thought it must be good and enjoyable.
I found reading it like trying to walk through treacle, maybe my mind set is not in tune with the authors, nor all the reviewers quoted but I did not find it funny. In fact I found it boring, as shame really as I was looking forward to reading it.
That was book 29 week 20 (8 on audio) non fiction 1
Too embarrassed to move
Recently I had an accident. I sneezed and dropped the large tin of white gloss paint that I was holding. It landed on its corner and sploshed white paint all over the place – the floor and wall, and over me. I then spent the next hour cleaning up the mess.
People often recount nightmarish type dreams where they have been too embarrassed to move, as maybe they have spilled food or drink all down themselves, upsetting their fine clothes, and thinking that onlookers may laugh at them. Of course sometimes this is not a dream and people just want to avoid others due to gossip, or shame that they may be feeling. And this is not something that just applies to our society. It has gone on throughout time.
The water cooler discussions have replaced the discussions at the well side. Everyone needs water and everyone used to gather together at the well, to pass on news and gossip, that is unless you were the social outcast of the time.
We read about such an outcast in Johns Gospel chapter 4 the account of the Samaritan woman.
She is getting water from the well in the noonday sun. The hottest part of the day, when everyone is normally in the shade. Jesus approaches her and asks her for a drink. She is taken aback and asks, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.) John 4 v9
Jesus replies “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.” John 4 v10
She then goes on to ask Jesus, where is he going to get this water from as he does not have a bucket. Jesus says to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.” John 4 v13-14
She then goes on to ask Jesus for this water, but Jesus says that she should go and get her husband, and then he will give it to her. She replies “I have no husband,”
“That’s nicely put: ‘I have no husband.’ You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now isn’t even your husband. You spoke the truth there, sure enough.” John 4 v17-18
So that is why she was at the well at noon time. Afraid of the well-side gossip and avoiding that she meets Jesus and He offers her the gift of the everlasting water of life.
It is then recorded that Jesus goes on to say in v23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”
You can read more about this amazing chapter of John's Gospel – chapter 4 in our home group notes on the chapter.
Dyslexic doodles on photography, food (growing, cooking & of course eating), faith and other fascinating things. This is a personal blog expressing my views.