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Putting Up Roots, by Charles Sheffield

Second paragraph of third chapter:
Even so, Josh didn't have high hopes when they finally reached the dining room. He was used to carryout meals, or eating on the run in fast-food places, because his mother was always rushing off somewhere or too busy rehearsing or studying parts to do any cooking. Uncle Ryan said that Aunt Stacy was a great cook, but it was obvious that he was totally bowled over by his new wife. He probably thought that everything she did was great, no matter how bad it was. In any case, it didn't seem possible that the reality could live up to the aromas.
This is a YA book taken from the template of Heinlein's Tunnel In the Sky; a group of young people are stuck on a planet together and have to make the best of it. I had acquired it because the viewpoint character is charged also with looking after his autistic cousin, who turns out to have magical rapport with the local aliens (yep, Disability Superpower); together they unravel the deadly plot of the evil capitalists (apology for spoilers). It's harmless enough, not great literature. You can get it here.

This was both my most popular unread book acquired in 2010, and the shortest unread book acquired that year. Next on both lists is 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem: A Poem for Every Week of the Year, by Ruth Padel.

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Second paragraph of third chapter (on The Shakespeare Code):
Firsts and Lasts To disentangle the whole story from various tie-in works and three previous broadcast stories, it's simplest to say that this is the first time Shakespeare has met the Doctor, rather than the other way around. (We'll elaborate later.)
Second paragraph of essay accompanying third chapter ("Why Does Britain's History Look So Different These Days?"):
Rather than just making a big thing of a character coming from Africa and being allowed to answer the phones on a starship, in "The Tenth Planet" (4.2), the minor character of Williams – written as Welsh – was cast so that Earl Cameron could go into space as part of a vision of 1980s life where race was irrelevant.That his co-pilot was an Australian called "Bluey" (all Australian characters who weren't called "Digger" or "Bruce" have that name) and where an Italian character is introduced singing La Donna i [sic] Mobile and shouting "Mama Mia! Bellissima" on sighting Polly's legs in the Antarctic blizzard need not detain us. The script has its lazy stereotypes, as is usual in anything Kit Pedler wrote, an attempt to limn a future where scientists are an international fellowhood.
I've been taking a break from bookblogging, as you may have noticed, so the time has come to clear the backlog. I'm saving my thoughts on the new Doctor Who season for a bit later (in summary, I'm pretty happy so far), but here's a look back over a decade ago now, the 8th in a series of exhaustive commentaries on the history of Doctor Who. (See previous write-ups of volumes 1, 2, 3, 3 revised, 4, 5, 6 and 7.) This concentrates purely on the 2007 series (the one with Freema Agyeman as Martha Jones), starting with the 2006 Christmas special (The Runaway Bride) and finishing with Time Crash, the 2007 Christmas special (Voyage of the Damned) and the animated Infinite Quest. Counting (arguably) three two-parters and not counting Time Crash, at 340 pages that's about 26 pages per story; Counting The Infinite Quest as a single episode, and including Time Crash this time, it's 21 pages per episode. Compare with less than nine pages per story in Volume 4 and a shade over two per episode in Volume 2.

This is the season that includes my personal favourite episode of New Who (the Hugo-winning Blink), Paul Cornell's excellent two-parter based on his own novel (also a Hugo finalist), and the return of the Master in the shape of first Sir Derek Jaobi and then John Simm. David Tennant then encounters his future father-in-law Peter Davison in the first multi-Doctor story of the new era. The low points are the awful two-part Dalek story and the final episode's failure to deliver on the buildup of the two previous ones. It also has to be said that Martha's character arc is not the most elegantly executed (though, come on, at least she doesn't get sent to stay on Sir Charles' country estate), though I rate Freema Agyeman very highly indeed.

I wrote about these stories both at the time they were first broadcast (The Runaway Bride, Smith and Jones, The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock, Daleks in Manhattan, Evolution of the Daleks, The Lazarus Experiment, 42, Blink, Utopia, The Sound of Drums, Last of the Time Lords, Time Crash, Voyage of the Damned) and again when I did my rewatch in 2013 (The Runaway Bride, first half of main season, second half plus Infinite Quest, Time Crash, Voyage of the Damned). In general, Wood and Ail's assessment of the stories is pretty similar to mine - they are even tougher than I am on the Dalek one, saw more in The Infinite Quest than I did, and perhaps less enthusiastic about the high points than I am. As usual, the commentary is pretty brutal about the Things That Don't make Sense plot-wise, but normally sympathetic to the constraints of production (grim accounts of David Tennant struggling with a heavy cold but still putting in long days and night shoots).

There's surprisingly little exploration of the roots of individual stories, a strength of earlier volumes, but I did gain a new appreciation for the extent to which Paul Cornell draws on Neil Gaiman. The big gap here is that Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures were already well under way, and it's a bit tricky to analyse Tennant-era Who without bringing them into the mix as well. However, the accompanying essays as usual are well worth the cover price in their own right, tackling inter alia New Who's (or at least RTD's) approach to race and sexuality as displayed on screen, and also a fascinating piece about the online extras.

My usual gripe, magnified this time: 65 endnotes (I hate endnotes), including two numbered 14, the first of which is located between notes 7 and 8, so that it's not at all clear what text it is referring to.

I haven't yet read any of the Black Archive books (and am frankly a bit intimidated by them), but I still think the About Time series is the standard by which other critiques of Who should be judged. You can get this one here.

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Monday reading

Current
Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson
Doctor Who: The Widow’s Curse, ed. Tom Spilsbury

Last books finished
Seychelles: The Saga of a Small Nation Navigating the Cross-Currents of a Big World, by Sir James Mancham
The Sound of his Horn, by Sarban
Sodom and Gomorrah, by Marcel Proust
Larque on the Wing, by Nancy Springer

Next books
The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells
Earth Girl, by Janet Edwards
The Vampire’s Curse, by Mags Halliday

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Election results in Oud-Heverlee

From the Vlaanderen Kiest website...



PartyVotes%SeatsChange
N-VA2,19928.4%7+1
CD&V1,90324.6%6+1
Groen1,81923.5%5+2
Open Vld1,00713.0%2+2
sp.a-plus81310.5%1-1
7.741100%21


If sp.a had got three more votes, they would have got the last seat instead of CD&V, so the balance between them would have been 5 to 2 instead of 6 to 1.

So all three parties in the ruling coalition gained seats, in fact to the point that any two of them can now form a coalition excluding the third. I imagine that the deal will be done this evening over a pintje or two.

Dreams of a Life (2011)

I had been intrigued by this film since I first read Carol Morley's 2011 Guardian article about making it. In 2006, housing officials making a repossession order broke into a London flat to make a grim discovery: the skeleton of its tenant, propped on the sofa, surrounded by Christmas presents with the television still on. Joyce Vincent had died in 2003, and nobody had noticed. Morley set out to tell her story, advertising in hopes of finding friends and relatives who might help her to understand what had happened. This film is the result.


The story is a simple enough one. Joyce had had a normal enough background, parents from Grenada, born in 1965 in London always lived there, had an unremarkable professional admin career but dabbled in the music business (one boyfriend, Alistair Abrahams, is a moderately successful music promoter who introduced her to Gil Scott-Heron and, I'm not making this up, Nelson Mandela; she once had dinner with Stevie Wonder). And in 2001 it all came to a halt; she dropped out of her City job, spent some time (how much? not clear) at a refuge for domestic abuse victims, checked into hospital a few weeks before her death giving her bank manager as her next of kin (her bank manager), and then was not seen alive again.

The film cuts between interviews with people who knew Joyce, and were shocked to realise that she had dropped out of their lives so rapidly, and scenes from her life re-enacted by Zawe Ashton (as an adult) and Alix Luka-Cain (as a child). Both are very good in their roles. (Zawe Ashton also played Journey Blue in the 2014 Doctor Who episode Into the Dalek. This seems to be Alix Luka-Cain's only screen role known to IMDB.)

The star of the film is Martin Lister, Joyce's ex-boyfriend who stayed friends with her long after their relationship ended, and who obviously struggles with the fact that when she dropped out of his life completely in 2003, it wasn't because she had decided to move on but because she was dead. Lynne Featherstone, who was the local MP, provides a sort of official narrative to the extent that that is possible. Joyce's family declined to participate. (One has to wonder: who were the wrapped but unsent Christmas presents for? And what about the bank manager?)

There are flaws in the piece. We linger perhaps a bit too much with Zawe Ashton as Joyce singing. The reconstruction of her family life is of course speculative. We linger a bit too eagerly on the repossession of the flat and Joyce's last moments intercut with the forensic examination of her belongings (all of course also reconstructed). There's a bit too much of the "she was there for three years!" when in fact it seems to have been just over two, fom December 2003 to January 2006. But the central theme is immensely powerful: loneliness and death, two things which we all fear. Joyce seems to have chosen to live alone; there are conflicting versions of why she left her last professional job; there's a general agreement that in her final years she moved around so much that even those who thought they were her closest friends lost touch, though they welcomed her when she did make contact.

The final shot of the film is tremendously moving - after 90 minutes of Ashton and Luka-Cain playing Joyce, Carol Morley found her in four seconds of footage from the Nelson Mandela concert in 1990, when she would have been 25 or so. We catch her in the crowd and then we have a brief glimpse of her face; all that's left of a vibrant person who touched a lot of people's lives and then fell out of them. Do watch it. Though you will cry.

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Voting time in Belgium

Municipal elections take place every six years in Belgium - an unusually long term by European standards (though NB Irish local councils had seven-year terms in 1960-67 and 1967-74, and an eight-year term from 1934 to 1942). The appointed day is actually tomorrow - very sensibly, Belgians vote on Sundays, between 8am and 3pm; voting is compulsory, unless you have a good excuse. Non-Belgians who have taken the trouble to enrol on the electoral register must also vote. (We have been Belgian since 2008 anyway.)

In our commune, there are 21 local councillors, and five parties are standing full lists of candidates. I don't know what the total number of voters is, but last time we had a turnout of 7,713, more than 1% of the voters are actually on the ballot paper. In 2012 we had a major shift of power, as the outgoing mayor lost his bid for a seventh six-year term (yes, he had had the job since local government was reorganised in 1976) to a coalition of the New Flemish Alliance (NVA), Christian Democrats (CD&V) and the Greens (Groen); with the former mayor's coalition of residents (Fusiebelangen) and Socialists (SP.A) in opposition. The main Liberal party, Open VLD, had never actually stood for elections here, it being understood that the mayor's coalition included a lot of their activists. (It's worth noting that the Belgian liberals are somewhat to the right of liberals in the UK, Canada or the US; and that the Flemish Christian Democrats are to the left of the German CDU/CSU and other European People's Party members.)

This year, Open VLD are standing in their own right for the first time, and the mayor's Fusiebelangen coaltiion has disintegrated. So my choice is between Liberals (Open VLD), New Flemish Alliance (NVA), Christian Democrats (CD&V), Greens (Groen) and Socialists (SP.A). Well, we can rule one of those out immediately. NVA are a hard right party who don't like immigrants and have been responsible for ramping up xenophobic rhetoric. They don't want votes from people like me, and I have barely skimmed their election literature. Their participation in the coalition at local level raises questions for me also about the Christian Democrats and Greens. (Of course, the same can be said of the Liberals at Belgian federal and Flemish regional level, and the Socialists have also been in coalitions with NVA in the past; but my interest here is to hold the local parties accountable.)

I contacted the other four parties to ask two or three questions on the local issues that I particularly care about. First, about public transport provision - I am a regular commuter from here to Brussels, my journey takes a minimum of 80 minutes each way, and I often get fed up with the lack of options to get home quickly and safely later in the evening. Second, our local branch of the library was closed by the current council's ruling coalition, and library facilities centralised at the civic centre 2 km away - I personally regret this, as it was nice to have library facilities nearby on a Saturday, particularly for F when he was younger, but I asked each party if they felt the move had been a success. And third, I asked CD&V and Groen how a foreigner like me can feel comfortable voting for a party that has gone into coalition with the xenophobic NVA. I wrote in English but made it clear that I would be happy with responses in Dutch, and I'm not using linguistic competence as a criterion for my vote. Responses received in Dutch are Google-translated to English below.

In reverse order of my preference, the answers were:

CD&V:

Public transport:
As a small community influencing the schedule of train or bus is nearly impossible. The city aldermen for CD&V have more than once tried to convince De Lijn to provide such connection from Oud-Heverlee to Haasrode, for now without succes. The answer of De Lijn is that if the community of Oud-Heverlee pays more than 200k€/year they will provide the offer, that is hardly a satisfying offer.
Library: no answer.

Coalition:
We would like to stay in a future coalition. For us that can change and it doesn't need to be the same coalition. However, we do need a stable majority. Up to the other parties to show their value and if we're lucky will accept their offer to participate in a new coalition. I personnally don't feel the same presence on the xenophobic area in the local party as there is on the national playing field.
Comment: Lack of answer on library disappointing. No real attempt to reassure me on NVA. Only public transport issue mentioned is the east-west bus connection (which is fair enough, it's a big issue for the commune, but I wouldn't use it myself), and basically no action is promised because they've tried it all before and it hasn't worked.

Further comment: One of the CD&V candidates did score brownie points by sending a handwritten note complimenting me on this blog post.

SP.A:

Transport:
in general better coordinate the bus and train connections, as well as coordination with school start and end times;
at de Lijn and at TEC to insist on improving public transport from Blanden and Haasrode to Leuven and vice versa, by making the transport more direct (eg via the Naamse steenweg) and on a better bus offer. Even after 7 pm and at the weekend;
the provision of better bus connections to Vaalbeek (town hall, library) and a bus connection to the De Kouter project;
the conclusion of an agreement with De Lijn around an improved third party payer scheme to offer the residents a cheaper round-trip ticket at events or to give a discount when purchasing a Lijnkaart (municipality card) with which you can enter a certain area. to travel. This municipality pass is for sale at presale points in the municipality concerned;
negotiate with De Lijn to allow the existing student bus pass, with which students can make use of buses all year round in and around Leuven, also for students living in Oud-Heverlee;
to urge the road authorities to improve the traffic flow (flow traffic for the buses so that they arrive on time) and more capacity for bus connections to schools;
at the higher authorities to insist on improving the reception infrastructure of the two train stations (eg secure bicycle parking places, the number of bicycle thefts is still too high).
Library: No answer.

Coalition: Not asked.

Comment: This reply reached me yesterday, two days before the election. I had emailed the local lead candidate at the same time as the others, on 26 August, over six weeks ago, and joked with him at the Dorpfeest on 2 September that I looked forward to his reply. Eventually I got a handwritten note asking me to send my message again to a different email address - I had used the one on the party website, but clearly it hadn't reached him. The transport policy proposals are all fine, but I'm unimpressed by the mode of engagement. Again, no comment on the library.

Groen:

Public transport:
Especially in Haasrode and Blanden there is still a lot of growth margin for public transport. We want a faster and more frequent bus connection with Leuven, by driving the bus over the Naamsesteenweg. You can also rely on us to strengthen for the current train offer and bus offer, and to improve the transfer possibilities. Think of better bicycle parking at stations, Park & ​​Ride possibilities, .....
Library:
a successful operation. We have looked intensively at how we can use municipal buildings as well as possible. The free space of the former libraries in Oud-Heverlee and Sint-Joris-Weert is now used intensively by the music school. The new library provides more life in the Roosenberg. We want to make this site a real cultural hub in the municipality.
Coalition:
At the national level, we indeed have very different points of view, for example about migration. At local level we have been able to cooperate properly with each other, although of course we also encounter different views on mobility and climate, for example. Politics wants to say for us: to enter into dialogue with as many people and opinions as possible. In that sense, we do not veto NVA.
Comment: Interesting defence of the library move. Again, not reassuring on NVA. Generally nice on transport, but not so great on the specifics for us train travellers - the problem with bicycle parking at the two railway stations is not capacity but theft, and it's difficult to see how a park and ride scheme could become relevant given our geography; each of our villages is effectively already a large park and ride zone.

Open VLD:

Transport:
Public transport in Oud-Heverlee must improve. Here is a selection of the measures that Open-VLD wants to put forward:
- Extend Line 5 from Vaalbeek to Zoet Water so that the inhabitants of Oud-Heverlee and Sint-Joris-Weert can reach the town hall by bus.
- Extension of timetable line 5 so that Haasrode, Blanden and Vaalbeek are also served until 22:00 in the evening.
- More familiarity with the timetables and more and better bicycle parking at all stops.

There are quite a few problems with public transport in Oud-Heverlee. There is a lack of good train and bus connections at weekends, to reach Zoet Water and the villages. The state of facilities at and around the stations can be much better. There are no bus connections from the station in Oud-Heverlee to the residential areas Vaalbeek, Blanden and Haasrode, and Zoet Water. There is no bus transport between the east and west sides of the municipality. There is no bus connection between the Zoet Water and Vaalbeek. This means that the residents of Oud-Heverlee and Sint-Joris-Weert do not have a direct regular bus line available to reach the town hall in Vaalbeek. After 19.00 there are no more buses from Leuven to Haasrode Blanden and Vaalbeek.

Better bus connections in the evening and at weekends are an absolute must. There must be dialogue with De Lijn to improve public transport in Oud-Heverlee, especially at night and during the weekend. It must also be investigated to set up a full bus connection on the East-West axis (line 5 continues from Vaalbeek to Zoet Water).
Library:
Combining the different small libraries of Sint-Joris-Weert with that of Oud-Heverlee was not a bad idea. Financial means are limited and their use should be optimised. The issue at stake is, however, that the libraries should be easily accessible also with public transport. Luckily there is the bus 337 that relies Sint-Joris-Weert with Leuven and there is a bus stop at the Zoet Water not far from where the library is located. However, the library can not be reached by public transport from Vaalbeek/Blanden/Haasrode bringing us back to our point of public transport.
Coalition: Not asked.

Comment: Interesting defence of the library decision - and this from a party that was not even represented in the council when the decision was taken. Much the same points on public transport but I like the specific mention of trains at the weekends. Replied on 27 August to a message sent on 26 August, which indiciates a welcome enthusiasm. (Groen replied on 29 August, CD&V on 24 September.)

So, in conclusion I think Open VLD have my vote this time around.

We also have provincial elections tomorrow, for those of us outside Brussels. I have searched in vain for an explanation of what the Belgian provinces actually do. (NB this is the Flemish Brabant level - the regions such as Flanders have very real powers.) I am tempted to spoil my ballot (cast a blank vote), as I don't really know what I'm voting for. But I know what I'm voting against, which is NVA and the extremist Vlaams Belang (who have a list of candidates for the province but not for our municipality), so I guess I'll probably vote Open VLD at provincial level as well.

Incidentally, I had not realised that for municipal councils in Belgium, the Imperiali method rather than the D'Hondt method is used to allocate seats - in other words, parties' votes are divided not 1, 2, 3, 4, 5..., but 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3... - this is very deliberately to discriminate against small parties, and explains why in our last elections, Groen got only 3 seats out of 21, and NVA got 6 seats, though Groen had more than two-thirds as many votes as NVA (so most systems would have given them 4 and 5 seats respectively). Marquis Pierre Imperiali des Princes de Francavilla, the Belgian senator who gave his name to the Imperiali method, would have been pleased.

Edited to add: I'm grateful to Tim over on Facebook, who explains:
The provinces in Flanders have lost significant parts of their competences earlier this year. Person-related matters (welfare, sport, culture, youth) went to the regional and/or local level. So they are now left with stuff like maintaining provincial roads and provincial parks (e.g. Provinciedomein Kessel-Lo or Bokrijk in Limburg), emergency contingency planning, and tourism. They also play a role when it comes to agriculture and energy policy.

N-VA and Open VLD wanted to abolish the provinces (in Flanders, as provinces fall under the regional government), claiming it is a superfluous subdivision. CD&V blocked the abolition, claiming that there is a real need to have a proper link between the region and the local level, and to assist smaller towns with e.g. waste collection, supporting the local economy, renewable energy etc.). So the compromise was to downsize the province (e.g. number of provincial representatives is being cut by half, the number of executive offices per province goes down from 6 to 4)
I must say that inclines me to feel that they should be abolished (Kessel-Lo and Bokrijk could as easily be run by Flanders or the municipalities), and since there's no way I'm voting NVA, I may as well stick with Open VLD for my provincial vote.

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Monday reading

Current
Seychelles: The Saga of a Small Nation Navigating the Cross-Currents of a Big World, by Sir James Mancham
Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson
Sodom and Gomorrah, by Marcel Proust

Last books finished
Here’s My Card, by Bob Popyk
Ringworld, by Larry Niven
Doctor Who: The Women Who Lived - Tales for Future Time Lords, by Christel Dee and Simon Guerrier

Next books
The Sound of his Horn, by Sarban
Larque on the Wing, by Nancy Springer
The Vampire’s Curse, by Mags Halliday

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Wedding anniversary weekend

Today is our 25th wedding anniversary!

We celebrated last weekend by going to Riga.


I think Latvia was the EU country about which I knew least before we went there. Riga is a pretty city on the Baltic, with some lovely old architecture dating from the time when it was the biggest city in the Swedish empire.



The opera house, where Wagner worked and where the Flying Dutchman was on. We didn't go inside.


The cityscape views were taken from the impressive spire of St Peter's Church:


Inside, there is a spacious nave and also art in the aisles.


This includes a rather impressive Resurrection of Christ by Imants Lancmanis:


The other big church in Riga is the Cathedral, which has some gorgeous baroque twiddly bits (organ and pulpit) and a twelfth-century font (lower left).


The unspectacular outside masks some lovely cloisters.


We didn't make it across the river to the National Library, where in fact there was a conference on where I knew several of the attendees.


The grand covered market was orignally constructed as Zeppelin hangars. Looks impressive from the outside:


But practical inside.


Saturday happened to be the day of the annual Michaelmas market outside the cathedral: cue lots of amusingly shaped vegetable displays.


And a choir of little girls singing.


It was raining miserably but these honey-sellers were gamely sticking to their festive headgear.


Latvia has parliamentary elections this coming Saturday; there were posters up everywhere for the different parties, and we spotted this campaigning stall. They offered us literature but we said we were tourists.


The Latvian language is Indo-European, and closely related to Lithuanian. From the warning poster in St Peter's Church, I checked the origin of the word "bērns", meaning child, and it is indeed related to the Scots word "bairn".


Most public signage is just in Latvian, but English and Russian are also used. It was not always thus - for centuries, the German-speaking community was dominant. A plaque in St Peter's Church commemorates two visits from Kings of Sweden in different centuries and different languages.


There are a number of historical and art museums in Riga; we went only to the National History Museum, which had a very interesting display about Latvia's century since its first declaration of independence, representing a lot of the conflicting narratives about the early years, the Ulmanis dictatorship, and the Soviet regime including also the Nazi occupation. We learned a lot, but the only picture I thought to take was this poster for the first ever Latvian feature film, "I'm Leaving for the War" (1920):


As always, there is lots of public art. This head is on display in the cathedral cloisters, but is reckoned to be pre-Christian (which is rather later in Latvia than in other parts of Europe).


It inspired this imitation in a nearby square.


This is a memorial to the Riga-born photographer Philippe Halsmann, who famously got his subjects (including Richard Nixon and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor) to jump.


This is a memorial to the barricades of 1991.


The most iconic structure in Riga is the Latvian Freedom Monument, which I photographed against a tremendously stormy sky. The inscription at the bottom is Tēvzemei un Brīvībai, For Fatherland and Freedom. Little did we know that as we enjoyed ourselves in Latvia, the UK's Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was about to make himself look really stupid by comparing the European Union to the Soviet Union. In Latvia, they can tell the difference, as the Latvian ambassador to the UK pointed out.


Quick notes on where we stayed and ate.
Accommodation: Pullman Riga Old Town, Jēkaba iela 24, very comfortable, should have brought swimming costumes to enjoy the pool.
Friday tea: Golden Coffee, Kungu iela 7/9, beside St Peter's Church, standard Russian/western bistro, friendly service
Friday dinner: Zviedru Vārti, Aldaru iela 11, right next to the Swedish gate which gives it its name, good traditional fare.
Saturday lunch: We tried the Vertigo Bar, but it doesn't actually do food, and ended up in the sumptuous restaurant of the Metropole Hotel, Aspazijas Bulvaris 36/38.
Saturday dinner: Milda, Kungu iela 8, a bit further along from Golden Coffee, lovely traditional food.
Sunday morning: went looking for Cafe Osiris, recommended in the Guardian, but could not find it. Went back to Golden Coffee in the end.
Sunday lunch: Alaverdi, Grēcinieku iela 8, Georgian food which to be honest was a bit too heavy after the weekend we had had.

We also went to a concert in the VEF Concert Hall, featuring a Latvian choir and whirling dervishes. To be honest it was not all that exciting. But given Latvia's history, sometimes not being all that exciting is a good thing.

Not sure if I would rush back for tourism - two days is probably enough for Riga - but it was great to celebrate our 25 years of marriage, and we had a very good time over the whole weekend. 

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Monday reading

Current
Ringworld, by Larry Niven
Seychelles: The Saga of a Small Nation Navigating the Cross-Currents of a Big World, by Sir James Mancham
Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson
Sodom and Gomorrah, by Marcel Proust

Last books finished
Brewing Justice, by Daniel Jaffee
Missing Adventures, ed. Rebecca Levene
Putting Up Roots, by Charles Sheffield
Riga: Berlitz Pocket Guide

Next books
The Sound of his Horn, by Sarban
Larque on the Wing, by Nancy Springer
The Vampire’s Curse, by Mags Halliday

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September books

Non-fiction: 5 (YTD 42)
Byzantium, by Judith Herrin
Who I Am, by Peter Townshend
About Time vol 8: 2007, Series 3, by Tat Wood and Dorothy Ail
Brewing Justice, by Daniel Jaffee
Riga: Berlitz Pocket Guide, by Martins Zaprauskis


Fiction (non-sf): 2 (YTD 24)
The Lost Weekend, by Charles L. Jackson
The Guermantes Way, by Marcel Proust


Poetry 1 (YTD 4)
Glory For Me, by MacKinlay Kantor


sf (non-Who): 9 (YTD 97)
Finn Family Moomintroll, by Tove Jansson
Moominland Midwinter, by Tove Jansson
Vurt, by Jeff Noon
Moominsummer Madness, by Tove Jansson
The Ginger Star, by Leigh Brackett
Moominpappa at Sea, by Tove Jansson
The Beast Master, by André Norton
Lord of Thunder, by André Norton

Putting Up Roots, by Charles Sheffield


Doctor Who, etc: 2 (YTD 29)
Doctor Who: The Visual Dictionary, by Neil Corry, Jacqueline Rayner, Andrew Darling, Kerrie Dougherty, David John and Simon Beecroft
Missing Adventures, ed. Rebecca Levene


Comics: 1 (YTD 22)
Dark Satanic Mills, by Marcus Sedgwick, Julian Sedgwick, John Higgins and Marc Olivent


~5,200 pages (YTD ~57,300)
11/20 (YTD 90/221) by non-male writers (Herrin, Ail, Jansson x 4, Brackett, Norton x 2, Rayner/Dougherty, Levene)
0/20 (YTD 23/221) by PoC
6/20 (YTD 18/221) reread (The Guermantes Way, four Moomin books, The Beast Master)

Reading now
Ringworld, by Larry Niven
Seychelles: The Saga of a Small Nation Navigating the Cross-Currents of a Big World, by Sir James Mancham
Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson

Coming soon (perhaps):
The Sound of his Horn, by Sarban
Larque on the Wing, by Nancy Springer
The Cloud Roads, by Martha Wells
Earth Girl, by Janet Edwards
Retour sur Aldébaran, tome 1, by Leo
Baptism in Blood, by Jane Haddam
Hybrid, by Shaun Hutson
Hardwired, by Walter Jon Williams
Burr, by Gore Vidal
51 Ways of Looking at a Poem, by Ruth Padel
The Stone Book Quartet, by Alan Garner
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon
The Name of This Book Is Secret, by Pseudonymous Bosch
A Cold Day in Hell, by Alan Grant
Factfulness, by Hans Rosling
Fanny Hill, by John Cleland
Sodom and Gomorrah, by Marcel Proust
“The Queen of Air and Darkness”, by Poul Anderson
Grimm Tales: For Young and Old, by Philip Pullman
And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini
Bernice Summerfield and the Vampire Curse, by Mags L Halliday

My tweets

  • Sat, 12:56: RT @PatricKielty: Dear @BorisJohnson, There is no better Brexit when it comes to the Good Friday Agreement and Northern Ireland. As you st…
  • Sat, 15:10: RT @BalkanInsight: 🇲🇰 From then to now: Since Macedonia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, it has been a long road to tomorrow's…
  • Sat, 16:05: The Banality of Brett Kavanaugh https://t.co/EfNfEuF2vt The arrogance of entitlement.
  • Sun, 08:32: Best of luck to all my friends in Macedonia today - hoping for a good result.
  • Sun, 10:45: RT @notesuponnotes: In honour of the 100th anniversary of the premiere of Holst's Planets, I give you the moment the classical record indus…
  • Sun, 11:40: RT @MichaelDHiggins: I am asking for your support on October 26th. All my life I have campaigned, argued and fought for a real Republic. Th…

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My tweets

My tweets

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