Building a snow fort (thank you Kevin for the caption)

The opportunities for gardening topics about which we can write this week are minimal – it’s -21C outside and falling with a 24+ hour snow storm starting … so instead we offer a couple of short pieces that we hope will be of some interest. After all, man cannot live by gardening alone.

Actually, there is one small gardening thing to mention – friends in the UK have sent us photographs of snowdrops, aconites, daffodils (albeit those only in Cornwall),  and flowering quince. Ah well, only three months to go and we can enjoy them too.

First, a little something to amuse:

Your report of the discovery of a first edition of The Importance of Being Ernest (‘Wild generosity gives Oxfam shop a £650 boost’) omits the highly relevant fact that it was found in a handbag,

Letter in The Guardian, 2007

Something for the long, cold evenings

  • Where are Hogwarts, Bleak House and the 100 Aker Wood?
  • Do you know where Postman Pat, Trumpton, Fireman Sam and Thomas the Tank Engine are set?

I know that a lot of the readers of this journal are, like us, constant readers and, what’s more, enjoy many of the sort of authors that we enjoy. Recently we came across a map put together with not inconsiderable effort, we guess, that comprises a map of the United Kingdom with the precise locations of all those wonderful fictional towns, villages and counties that the nation’s authors have created down the years.

It truly is something to pour over one evening – quite fascinating. In fact just the thing for a weekend lie this one when we are snowed in by the first big dump of the winter. In the UK I believe you have a cold snap at the moment too so here’s a day to fill a couple of hours.

It truly is something to pore over one evening – quite fascinating. In fact just the thing for a weekend lie this one when we are snowed in by the first big dump of the winter. In the UK I believe you have a cold snap at the moment too so here’s something to fill a couple of hours during the day.

** There is also a spreadsheet associated with it if you go to the website (see below for link) that gives the textual source from which each of the many, many places originated.

Flaxborough, Barchester, Fenchurch St. Paul, the Isle of Sodor, Borchester and Ambridge, Manderley, Middlemarch, Lochdubh, Tannochbrae,   Hogwarts and “The Castle of Aaaaarrrrggghh” are just some of the places you will now be able to visit.

Spend some time with it … there’s more to be known at whence you can buy a version to hang on your wall if you like.

Classical Music Streaming

Mostly we listen to classical music, occasionally some jazz but classical for the most part. Although we have a fine selection built up over the years on CDs we have, like everyone nowadays, been happily streamed our music from Spotify for a couple of years now but have recently been test-driving an alternative source which we have now switched to IDAGIO, a German company. We are very pleased and can recommend it to you if you enjoy this sort of music … you can check them out (and get a 14 day free trial) at To quote from their own description, they offer:

Streaming, reinvented for classical music

Audio streaming is becoming the predominant way of listening to music. But the well-known all-genre services are pop-driven, and their structure only allows for three search categories: song, artist, and album. Classical music is available on these major streaming services, but the criteria that make classical music so special – composer, work, conductor, orchestra, soloist, and more – are missing from the structure. For this reason, classical music lovers who use these services struggle with a lack of user-friendliness and search options as well as confusing and sometimes incorrect search results. Musicians and their recordings can thus only be found with difficulty or not at all, drastically reducing visibility for classical musicians on these platforms.

At IDAGIO, we have developed a proprietary data model and our own unique technological solution to structure and display classical music in a clear, clean way. That is why users, musicians, and labels alike affirm that IDAGIO has developed the very best interface for classical music.

They even stream in lossless format if your equipment can handle it, but you can listen in whatever format you choose. Just $9.99 a month and a vast catalogue.

Check them out.

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