Posted by: billpurdue | May 10, 2008

7 Fun with Architecture, a light hearted classic, Warsop Vale and more

Well, the good weather is with us at last and it’s great to sit out in the garden with a good book – though I did feel that I should be mowing the lawn or varnishing the garden seat and I have been tempted to just doze off! In spite of all that, I have been looking at a variety of books, new and old in the past week….


Adventurous Mr Cruickshank

I’m really enjoying the series of programmes on BBC2 with Dan Cruickshank called “Adventures in Architecture”. I was very keen to see the book that goes with the series and I wasn’t disappointed. Dan Cruickshank’s Adventures in Architecture (1) is just right for either dipping into or reading from cover to cover. Like the TV series there are 8 themes – Dreams, Beauty, Pleasure, etc. – in which the buildings are grouped, but curiously some of the places Dan visits in the TV series don’t come under the same categories in the book, but that doesn’t really matter. I first saw the book the day after the episode in which Dan visits Kazakhstan and wanted to read more about his experiences at the capital city, but in spite of the 288 pages, there is not nearly enough space for Dan to relate all that happened during his visits to different parts of the world. On the TV, Dan is seen tucking into a traditional Kazakhstan dish of sheep’s head and something that looked too disgusting to mention, but he doesn’t write about this in the book.  That is not meant as a criticism – the book has a very entertaining text and it’s packed with colour photos. I’m tempted to buy it.


Sailing up the River

I’m sure I’ve read Three Men in Boat(2) by Jerome K Jerome before, but it was a very long time ago, so that’s what I’ve been reading this week. For those unfamiliar with this title, it’s a humorous account of a holiday by rowing boat up the River Thames in the late 19th Century. Whilst it appears to be a work of fiction it was originally written as true account (and not intended as a humorous book) based on the actual experiences of three friends – Jerome the author, Harris and George, not forgetting the dog, Montmorency. The tale of the trials and tribulations of their boating holiday has many diversions mixed in with it – Jerome is constantly going off at a tangent relating lots of humorous experiences that he keeps being reminded of, waxing lyrical about the beauty of the river, or just reflecting on life, the universe and everything.  At first I found these frequent diversions a little irritating, but I soon got used to them as they blended in very well with the main narrative. It’s a great book for summer reading. The book was so successful that Jerome brought out Three Men on the Bummel (2) which I haven’t read, but I expect is equally entertaining. It’s usually found in the same volume as Three Men in Boat. Find out more about Jerome K Jerome by clicking here or going to the Bookrags website.


A colliery village no more

Warsop Vale is a small village that owes its existence to coal mining in North Nottinghamshire. It was built by the Staveley Coal and Iron Company shortly after the sinking of Warsop Main Colliery in 1893. The pit closed in 1989 and by the year 2000 the village was described as semi-derelict. Now, thanks to several agencies getting together with local councils, many homes are being refurbished and new ones are being built. Before these recent developments two members of the fledgling Warsop Vale Local History Society got together to produce The Hundred Year History of Warsop Vale and Warsop Main Colliery(3), a well researched account of the rise and fall of a village with a strong community spirit. This was followed about a year later by Memories of Warsop Vale and Warsop Main Colliery(4). Both books are A4 in size and contain many well reproduced photographs, considering the books are not printed on art paper. At £4.95 each, both books are extremely good value and will no doubt be treasured by anyone with any connection at all to Warsop Vale today or in the past. For more information log on to the Warsop Vale Local History Society website, which has details of how to obtain both publications.


I’m trying to read …

Occasionally I like to read science fiction. I picked up the latest by Iain M Banks – Matter (5)recently, but haven’t got very far with it. The blurb describes Banks as the writer who has turned science fiction on its head. To me this is a work of science fantasy, rather than true sci-fi. I’m going to persevere with it for a while longer, but I’m put off by the glossary and lists of characters and species at the back of the book. If I have to keep referring to a list, I’m going to lose interest. It might help if I read the previous books in the “Culture” series. For a more balanced view, go to the Guardian Books web pages.


Join a library during the Year of Reading

The Year of Reading people have launched a sort of “universal” application form for library membership. You can download it from the Year of Reading website as pdf document, but if you don’t want to use up all the coloured ink when printing it out, it might be best to use the official forms freely available at all local libraries – don’t forget to take some form of I.D. with you which includes your name and current address.

(1)   Dan Cruickshank’s Adventures in Architecture. Orion Books £20  9780297844440

(2)   Three Men in a Boat and Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K Jerome.  Penguin Classics £8.99      9780140437508  (other editions also available I think)

(3)   The Hundred Year History of Warsop Vale and Warsop Main Colliery (1889 – 1989) by Maeve Calvert and Terry White.  £4.95  0953854302

(4)    Memories of Warsop Vale & Warsop Main Colliery by the Warsop Vale Local History Society. £4.95  0953854310

(5)   Matter  by Iain M Banks.  Orbit   £18.99  9781841494173





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