Bill Bryson's At Home

At Home: A Short History of Private LifeAt Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my current companion in the car on audio book. My daughter, who is 19 and a huge history buff, thought it was going to be dreadful, but Bryson’s dry wit is keeping us both entertained. So far I am not loving it as much as I did “A Walk In The Woods” or “Notes From A Small Island”, but it is still excellent.

My New Toy

I can never be without a toy for long. And by toy I really mean a car. Without something to tinker with, I am just not happy. And ever since the age of about 19 that toy has really had to be British. Once you get British cars in your blood, they never come out. Kind of like stains. Maybe it comes from inhaling a combination of Castrol oil and brake fluid along with rust. Don’t know, but I have the sickness bad. And, beyond just being British, I am addicted to MGs. Yes, I have MG hats, shirts, belts, key rings, posters, book, glasses, toys, and much more. Even an official MG dart board. (Me making my wife take time out from our English vacation to visit Abingdon, the birthplace of MGS, and the Heritage Motor Museum is an entirely different story.)

Anyway, back to the task at hand. MG Midget 1973Because of this addiction and because no one had the foresight to ban me from searching Craigslist, I am now the owner of a 1973 MG Midget that is in need of a wee bit of restoration. Although according to my friend Pat Stuckart, “saying this car needs a bit of work is like saying the Titanic needed a bit of buoyancy.” Some friend he is!

I have posted one picture of the car here, but if you click on that picture you can go to the full site I have about the car. Yes, another odd addiction of mine is making websites for anything that I get my hands on. If you would like to see it directly, just go to my MG Midget Page.

So, now you know what I will be doing in my rare “off moments” for the next few months. Or maybe years. I am still convinced that it is not as bad as it looks. Which in and of itself is a really good thing! But also, while my wife and her friends adopt stray dogs and protect them from pounds and being put down, I do the same thing for ailing British cars. I just can’t stand to see a car with any chance of life be parted out, sent to the junkyard, or worse yet set to the crusher. It just kills me a bit somewhere inside. Of course, again, that could be the chemicals and rust having their way with me.

Book Search – Vale Of The White Horse

In case anyone knows where I can get one, I am currently looking for a book. It is titled “In Search Of a Dream: The Life and Work of Roye England” and was edited by Stephen Williams.

Published by Wild Swan Press in the UK, this book tells the story of the life and work of a remarkable man whose ambition was to capture a portrait of 1930s rural England that was fast disappearing and to preserve it in miniature form – in a model village of hitherto unimagined accuracy and detail, complete within a landscape of fields and woodlands and with a representation of the main line of the GWR running through the scene.

The inspiration for this dream-like project was the once-beautiful Vale of White Horse, which Roye first visited soon after his arrival in England in 1925, and which he subsequently made both his physical and spiritual home.

Out of enterprise grew the world-famous Pendon Museum of Miniature Landscape and Transport that Roye established at Long Wittenham, Oxfordshire, from 1954.

The story, which is semi-autobiographical, is not a history of Pendon per se. The book also presents one man’s reflections upon the changing world in which he lived; of the despoliation of the countryside (as Roye saw it) in the name of ‘progress’; of the heyday of steam railways and the eventual demise of steam-hauled services; of greater matters too.

If you know where I can get a copy of this book, please let me know!

To Be In London

I have no idea why, but there is something about the holiday season that always makes me wistful to be in London. The really odd thing is that I have only been there once and that was in the Spring, so I have absolutely no idea what London is actually like in December. But I want to be there none-the-less.

Maybe it is from seeing and reading Dickens’ A Christmas Carol too many times. hornby triang railwaysOr maybe it is my love of trains and model railways that seems to be easier to exercise this time of year. I have visions of shop windows, or at least Hamleys or Harrods, filled with toy steam trains, big dolls, and overstuffed teddy bears. By the way, if you are a toy fan and ever get the chance to visit Hamleys, you absolutely must. Floor upon floor upon floor of every type, size, and age toy you can imagine.

For now, at least, I will remain here in Charleston though. That is really not so bad seeing as the weather is mild, my family is here, and the Charleston Place Hotel downtown has a great train setup. What is more, my son is starting to show a real interest in model trains, so maybe sometime in the future we will be able to bring them out more than just the few weeks around the holidays.

Still though, it would be nice to be in London. To take the tube into the city from a nice bed and breakfast. To stroll the streets and take in the sites and sounds. And of course, to visit the toy stores.

What do you want for Christmas?

I am just wondering what you want for Christmas? Not necessarily some big item like a television or a diamond ring, but what is it that if you could have anything and weren’t afraid to be laughed at that you would ask for? Remember when you were a kid and you would freely state that you wanted a pony, or a train, or a spaceship? And remember how, every once in a while, you got what you asked for even if it wasn’t it the exact detail of your request?

Maybe you asked for a spaceship and you got a LEGO set to build one. Or maybe you ask for a pony and got a play set with a pony and other little animals. Or who knows, maybe you actually got a pony? Yes, there are those times when you actually get exactly what you ask for. So, be careful that what you ask for is really what you want!

As for me, what I really want is a trip to England. I would love to go back for a week or even a few days. Problem is that right now there is no way I can afford the ticket and the hotel. I keep trying to find a way, but nothing has reared its head yet.

But that is me, and the question here is about you. So, what do you want? Really, what do you want?

Christmas Wishes