When I was a child I found it easy to remember things: faces, names, tiny details of insignificant events, many of which I can still recall fifty years later. Learning French and German vocabulary at school came quite naturally – often I only needed to see the word once for it to stick in my memory.
But how very different things are now! It’s a struggle to remember faces and places and there’s absolutely no chance of remembering a name, date or appointment details. As for foreign languages (which I still enjoy studying): I have to work so hard to remember any new vocabulary that I find it quite discouraging to even try.
I’ve read that the human brain is limitless, that its capacity to store data is huge, and that our brains don’t necessarily perform worse as we get older, but they may be better at some things and worse at others. For instance, although it becomes harder to store new information, our long-term memory actually improves as the years go by. Maybe we just need to try new ways of remembering new things. So I’ve done some research, asked around and come up with a list of methods that can be used to improve memory recall. Continue reading
We’re now entering a major present-buying period for many people, but of course we buy presents for all kinds of people for many different reasons. This list may provide some helpful suggestions, whatever the occasion and whoever you’re buying for.
I first became interested in W.H. Davies (1871-1940), the author of The Autobiography of a Supertramp, when I was writing a blog entry on his poem which begins, “What is this life if, full of care,we have no time to stand and stare?”. You can read this most relaxed of poems and the blog entry here.
While scratching around to find some information about the man behind the poem, I was interested enough by what I read of his personality and life to want to read his autobiography. Even the title of it sounds quite modern and inviting to a twenty-first century reader, despite being written in the very early years of the twentieth century. Interestingly, much of the book also reads like something written more recently.
Last week it was the twentieth anniversary of the day my dad died: inevitably a time for looking back, but also for pondering on what’s happened between then and now. So much has gone on in the family – the kids have grown up and married; a grandchild has been born – but it also struck me just how much in my daily life involves things Dad would know nothing about. Here are just a few:
What do we envisage when we hear someone called a “very creative person”? Possibly we assume that he or she is a gifted artist or composer, or someone whose home is filled with beautifully hand-crafted objects. Maybe it sounds like this is someone we should be in awe of. Then we might compare ourselves –inevitably unfavourably , telling ourselves that we just couldn’t hope to compete , that we’re “not that creative”.
But creativity has nothing to do with competition. The etymology of the word “create” is connected with the idea of giving life – of producing something where nothing existed before. Beyond this, it has the sense of being able to transcend traditional ideas to produce something original and imaginative. In other words, to come up with something a bit different.Continue reading
Apparently some people don’t like coriander (known as Cilantro in North America)! I find that hard to believe. There’s even a website for people who hate it! How could anyone possibly hate the fragrant, distinctive flavour coriander brings to so many dishes.?Though, if overdone, I suppose maybe it can be a bit insistent at times.
Anyway, for those of us who do cherish a pot of coriander on the kitchen windowsill, here are 10 tasty ways to enjoy it: Continue reading
Because he was one of the greatest novelists who ever lived. His novels feature really ingenious plotting; a vast range of exceptionally colourful and memorable characters of all kinds – many of them eccentric and humorous (although there are some great villains too); interesting insights into life and human nature; many funny episodes; a breath-taking prose style; memorable expressions and witty comments.
Traditionally, Dickens is not seen as an easy read, and in some ways he isn’t. Unfortunately, though, many people have been introduced to Dickens at school when they were too young to understand his prose style and this has had the effect of turning them off Dickens for life. Because children are quite familiar with simplified versions of stories such as Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations, there is a mistaken perception that these books were written for children, but they remain very much adult novels. The original full-length versions are far too dificult for children yet, if you return to Dickens’s books as an adult, you’ll find them much more readable than they were when you were fourteen!
Nevertheless, it’s worth bearing in mind that in the twenty-first century we’re saturated with instant messages and easy readability, but Dickens does have to be worked at a bit – not something we’re used to. But if you’ve never managed to enjoy Dickens before but you’re prepared to make the effort now, he more than repays the toil you put in .
There are many hidden corners of London and the longer I live near this great city the more I find to inform and entertain me. What’s more, many of the treasures which London has to offer are free if you know where to look.
One treasure of a place which I discovered recently is the Wallace collection museum, tucked away just behind busy Bond Street. This house once belonged to the Marquesses of Hertford who, over several generations during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries made it their life’s work to collect beautiful and interesting works of art, porcelain, weapons, armour and furniture amongst other things.
With all the interest in World War One at the moment, I thought it was an opportune moment to review some of the great writing about this war. Although consulting factual sources and documentaries will give us the facts, it is reading well-written personal accounts, novels and poetry which helps us see into the hearts and minds of those who had first-hand experience of this terrible conflict. Continue reading
Many of us think we know what buildings there are of interest in our area and we’ve probably visited all the best-known ones. Then, when we encounter a new part of the country, we follow the hordes of tourists to the likes of Stonehenge or the Tower of London or the Roman baths or wherever screams loudest at us from the racks of gaudy tourist leaflets.
But, if we take the trouble to read up on some more detailed information or, better still, to talk to the locals or the experts, we can often be rewarded with finding somewhere really special which not everyone knows about. Continue reading