Posted in books, Events

World Book Day

imageThis years World Book Day takes place Thursday 5 March 2015. The event has been running across the UK and Ireland since 1995 and is sponspored by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. It is the local manifestation of World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days). On World Book Day, every child in full-time education in the UK is given a voucher to be spent on books. The Day was first celebrated in 1995 in the United Kingdom. The original, global World Book Day event is generally observed on 23 April However In the United Kingdom, World Book Day is held annually on the first Thursday in March instead, to avoid the established international 23 April date which clashes with Easter school holidays, and St George’s Day

The United Kingdom’s own version of World Book Day was launched at the Globe Theatre in London, when Several million schoolchildren in Great Britain were given a GB£1 special World Book Day Book Token (€1.50 in Ireland) which could be redeemed against any book in any UK bookshop. A specially created WBD anthology priced at £1 (€1.50 in Ireland) was also published. All World Book Day point of sale and the £1 book carried the special World Book Day logo to help unify the initiative through all outlets.Since then, World Book Day UK has followed a similar pattern, gradually growing each year to encompass more initiatives, such as Spread The Word, Quick Reads Initiative and Books for Hospitals. Every year, the number of children receiving a World Book Day Book Token has increased. In 2000, instead of a single £1 special anthology, four separate £1 books were published, covering a wider age-range. Since then, each year has seen a new set of special £1 books published.

In 2006, World Book Day began its support of and association with the Quick Reads initiative for adult emergent readers.In 2007, World Book Day celebrated its 10th anniversary with the publication of 10 £1 books. Since then every child in full-time education in the UK and Ireland is entitled to receive a £1 World Book day Book token every year. They can swap their WBD token for one of specially-produced £1 WBD books or they can get £1 off a full-price book or audio book. In 2007, the Spread the Word promotion was revamped into an on-line book group featuring a number of adult books suitable for book Groups. A short list of 10 titles was announced on 1 February 2008, and the winning book, was Boy A by Jonathan Trigell. World Book Day 2008 was declared by The Bookseller magazine to be more successful than any previous World Book Day. World Book Day has been billed as The Biggest Book Show on Earth and is celebrated with a variety of events in schools and libraries, including a festival hosted by Tony Robinson, presenter and author of the Weird World of Wonders series, who gave advice on how to start writing.

Past speakers have included Anthony Horowitz, author of the popular Alex Rider series, who discussed how to create suspense and plant clues,(House of Silk is a great novel) Horrid Henry writer Francesca Simon demonstrated how to bring characters to life, meanwhile Lauren Child, creator of Charlie and Lola and Clarice Bean series, hosted a talk on how to develop characters while Cathy Cassidy, two time winner of the prestigious ‘Queen of Teen Awards’, explained how to structure a story. For budding illustrators there was also advice from Shirley Hughes OBE on where to start plus tips on drawing animal characters from Guy Parker-Rees, whose Giraffes Can’t Dance and Spookyrumpus have made him one of the bestselling illustrators in the country. There was also a free book making workshop for kids at the National Print Museum, Dublin and a meet-the-authors event with Annabel Pitcher (author of My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece) and Michael Stewart (King Crow) at Wakefield Library and Museum.

In addition The “Big Book” opened outside John Rylands Library in Deansgate, Manchester and gave people the opportunity to share their stories. In the past WHSmith has had signings with favourite authors, including Henry Winkler and Ros Asquith. A large number of schools and libraries also organised their own events, ranging from murder mysteries, author visits and sponsored readathons to dressing up as favourite book characters and literature quizzes.

Posted in books

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

I would like to read Nora Webster by Colm Toibin. The novel is set during the late 1960’s in Wexford, and Ballyconnigar, South East Ireland, and features a fiercely independent and sometimes difficult, widow and mother of four Nora Webster who has recently lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who was her salvation and who rescued her from the stifling world she was born into.

Wounded and self-centred from grief and the need to provide for her family, at first Nora struggles to be attentive to her children, who are coping with their own difficult loss and has little idea what they are going through. Fiona was in Dublin in teacher’s school, Aine was at boarding school,and her two sons, Donal and Conor, at local school. The boys had spent the past two months with her Aunt Josie. The relatives and townspeople had all visited as part of the mourning process, and now Nora was on her own and faced with the real world, and a small pension.

The novel follows Nora’s journey in the three years following Maurice’s death from her perspective. At first she feels trapped by her circumstances, but she sees a glimmer of hope and gradually finds her way clear from the deepest of grief, through her love of music and singing. She starts anew and decides to sell their seaside home at Cush and accepts the offer of a poorly paid office job in the firm where she worked as a young woman and gradually she begins to engage with her children, friends and relatives as she rebuilds her life and makes an unexpected discovery.

Posted in locomotives, steam locomotives, Trains

Severn Valley Railway wins Heritage Site of the Year Award 2015

Stanier5mt Mogul 42968
Stanier5mt Mogul 42968

The Severn Valley Railway Has won the prestigious BBC Countryfile Magazine Heritage Site of the Year award 2015 after being shortlisted as one of the UK’s top historic gems by the BBC’s Countryfile Magazine in January. The Severn Valley Railway was among five famous UK tourist attractions shortlisted in the ’Heritage Site of the Year’ category, and were up against stiff competition from some of the UK’s most famous tourism hotspots, including London’s Imperial War Museum, Georgian estate Kew Palace, Welsh architectural wonder Portmeirion and the mystical, pre-historic stone circle at Avebury.

The shortlist was chosen by television presenter Jules Hudson, widely recognised as the face of many BBC lifestyle and history series including Escape to the Country, Britain’s Empty Homes, Britain’s Heritage Heroes and, Countryfile. A life-long history lover, he praised the SVR’s Heritage Skills Training Academy, one of a range of projects funded by the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust, saying the Railway has a “fantastic conservation element to it, running an apprenticeship scheme for young engineers in order to keep the traditional skills alive” and it is the dedication and hard work of the Railway’s working members, volunteers, shareholders and charitable trust supporters, that make the Severn Valley Railway the National Gem it is. Hudson added “Travelling by steam train is also a wonderful way to see the spectacular surrounding countryside.” The Severn Valley Railway will be featured in the May issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine

Posted in music

Roland “Boon” Gould (Level 42)

Roland Gould, English Guitarist with English pop rock and jazz-funk band Level 42 was Born MArch 4 1955. The band had a number of worldwide and UK hits during the 1980s and 1990s & gained fame for their high-calibre musicianship—in particular that of Mark King, whose percussive slap-bass guitar technique provided the driving groove of many of the band’s hits. The band are also known for the combination of King’s lead vocals and keyboard player Mike Lindup’s falsetto backing vocals and were formed after Mark King and the Gould brothers (Phil and Rowland) played together in various bands during their teenage years. Phil Gould went on to study at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he met keyboard player Mike Lindup in a percussion course. Both musicians found that they shared musical heroes: Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett and Jan Hammer. Boon Gould also playing bass guitar and saxophone and Lindup doubling on keyboards and drums. Mark King was primarily a drummer, but also played guitar. The developing band (at this point, entirely an instrumental act) took the name Level 42 and settled on a working line-up of King (bass guitar, percussion), Lindup (keyboards, percussion), Boon Gould (guitar, saxophone) and Phil Gould (drums).In 1981 they released their first single, “Love Games”, which became a Top 40 hit. then cut their critically acclaimed, self-titled debut album, which was an immediate success throughout Europe. The band quickly established themselves as concert favourites, taking advantage of the high performance skills of all four members. Polydor capitalised on the band’s success by releasing a second album, The Early Tapes later in the same year.

This was a compilation of material and is also known by an alternate name, Strategy. In 1982 Level 42 released their third album The Pursuit of Accidents. This was a further development of the Level 42 formula, maintaining their instrumental jazz-funk skills and styling but also experimenting further with pop songs, singles from the album were “Weave Your Spell” and “The Chinese Way”. A fourth album, Standing in the Light, was released in 1983 It was less experimental and jazzy than previous releases & provided them with their first UK Top Ten hit The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up). The 1984 album True Colours veered stylistically between funk, power pop, mid-tempo rock and moody ballads & yielded the singles “The Chant Has Begun” and “Hot Water”.

During the same year, Mark King released his first solo album Influences on which he played the majority of the instruments (with a guest appearance by Aswad’s Drummie Zeb, and with Lindup guesting on additional keyboards).The next studio album, World Machine, was released in 1985 gaining positive reviews from critics. By this time, the band had moved on from their original pure jazz-funk sound towards a much more mainstream pop/R’n’B sound, with King’s bass and Lindup and Badarou’s chugging keyboards serving as templates for smart pop songs such as “Something About You” and “Leaving Me Now”. The “Lessons in Love” single arrived in early 1986—a song that would soon appear on 1987′s Running in the Family album. The song was a massive international hit and became the band’s biggest seller.Keeping up the momentum, the band played at the Prince’s Trust concert in July 1987, with Eric Clapton standing in on lead guitar for a performance of Running in the Family.

During 1987, both Phil Gould and Roland Gould left Level 42. The next album Staring at the Sun was released in 1988. Sadly During 1989, Alan Murphy contracted pneumonia, which was complicated by the fact that he was already suffering from AIDS. His decline was rapid, and he died on 19 October 1989. This was a huge shock to the band, who had not known of Murphy’s condition and who had grown so fond of him that they stated at the time that they “could not replace Alan.”Devastated, Level 42 took a year off to regroup and rethink. In 1990 they released their next album, Guaranteed which was well received by American music critics, who appreciated the group’s musicianship and regarded it as Level 42′s most musically sophisticated work to date. In early 1993, Gary Husband left Level 42 and in 1994 it was announced that Level 42 would be disbanding permanently following their concert commitments.

Having been a very successful live and studio band in the 1980s, Level 42′s commercial profile diminished during the early 1990s following a series of personnel changes and musical shifts. After disbanding in 1994, the band reformed in 2001. Their most successful single was “Lessons in Love”, which reached number three on the UK Singles Chart, and number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, upon its release in 1986.

Posted in music

Chris Squire (Yes,XYZ, Conspiracy)

YFFHChris Squire, the current Guitarist with Progressive Rock Bands YES, XYZ ( ex Yes Zeppelin) AND CONSPIRACY was born 4 March 1948. Yes achieved worldwide success with their progressive music, mystical lyrics, elaborate album art, live stage sets and symphonic style of rock music. They are regarded as one of the pioneers of the progressive genre. They were Formed in 1968 by Jon Anderson and Bill Bruford and released two albums together but began to enjoy success after the release of The Yes Album and Fragile,which featured new arrivals Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman. They achieved further success with the albums Close to the Edge and Tales from Topographic Oceans. Wakeman was replaced by Patrick Moraz, who played on Relayer (1974). Wakeman returned on Going for the One (1977) and Tormato (1978). Anderson and Wakeman left the group due to musical differences amongst the band in 1980, and both went on to pursue solo careers. Their replacements, Trevor Horn and Steve Downes, featured on Drama (1980) and its supporting tour before disbanding in 1981. Howe and Downes went to form Asia.

Yes_Wonderous+StoriesYes reformed in 1982 after Squire and White were joined by the returning Jon Anderson and T0ny Kaye, with the addition of guitarist Trevor Rabin. They adopted a pop rock sound and released the number one single “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and 90125 (1983), their best-selling album to date, followed by Big Generator (1987). Anderson left and co-formed the side project Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe with the named members in 1989. Following a legal battle amongst both Yes groups, they formed an eight-man band to perform on Union (1991) and its supporting tour. Rabin and Kaye featured on Talk (1994) before leaving, while Wakeman and Howe returned with Keys to Ascension (1996) and Keys to Ascension 2 (1997). Wakeman wasthen replaced by Igor Khoroshev, who was featured on Open Your Eyes (1997) and The Ladder (1999) along with guitarist Billy Sherwood. The release of Magnification (2001) marked the first album since 1970 to feature an orchestra.

In 2002, Wakeman returned for the band’s 35th anniversary tour. The band ceased to tour in 2004, partly due to health concerns regarding Anderson and Wakeman. Following a hiatus, Yes restarted in 2008 with keyboardist Oliver Wakeman and singer Benoît David. After the release of Fly from Here (2011), which saw Downes returning on keyboards, David was replaced by Jon Davison, lead singer of progressive rock band Glass Hammer, on vocals. The band’s current line-up consists of singer Jon Davison, bassist Chris Squire,guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White, and keyboardist Geoff Downes, and they continue to perform to this day, more than 40 years since their formation.