Whether you are a complete newbie, or just out of practise, we have some great resources to help you get back to the gym. An easy-to-follow session to get you going. This Workout for Beginners… More
This week we have Richard from Brompton Library who is reviewing Seamus Heaney’s collection of poems, Opened Ground.
I can thoroughly recommend any collection of poems by Seamus Heaney and there are many in digital form to choose from on the Cloud Library. Selected poems 1966-1975 was my first introduction to the poet many years ago. These poems have a strong connection with the land and the country. The language has a tactile quality that brings you cheek by jowl with the sensuality of nature.
Interestingly, many people during the early stages of lockdown in London, commented on the sudden pleasure of seeing nature more clearly: the burst of colour (early Spring), noticing many animal species compared with pre-lockdown and hearing more varied bird sounds etc.
Heaney’s Gifts of Rain from Opened Ground, floods the senses with its use of monosyllabic Anglo-Saxon words that capture the tactile feel of a straw-footed mammal on the mud and the sounds and smells of the river Moyola bursting its banks near Heaney’s hometown. The relationship of the worker to the land is pictured in the brush-stroke of a line: ‘A man wading lost fields breaks the pane of flood: a flower of mud- water blooms up to his reflection.’ Many of the poems dwell on this relationship of the people with the land such as The Tollund Man and Bog Queen, poems based on Bronze aged cadavers that have been preserved in the peat bogs of northern Europe capture this intimacy between the people and the land through bold imagery and rich use of metaphor: ‘my body was braille for the creeping influences.’ In addition to these themes is a concern with the political situation that dominated his landscape during these formative years. There is a great selection of his work to be found here on cloudLibrary:
New Selected Poems 1988 – 2013
District and Circle
Death of a Naturalist
If you would like to read any of these works of Seamus Heaney, they are available here from our cloudLibrary. All you need is your Kensington and Chelsea Library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry, just click here to join.
This week we are talking about running. The benefits of Cardiovascular exercise are numerous, from enhancing mood to strengthening bones, it’s something we should all try to fit into our lives. Here are some resources to help you get started.
Taking up running can seem like a scary prospect, especially if you feel out of shape or unfit. This NHS Couch to 5K will help you gradually work up towards running 5K in just 9 weeks.
Even if you have never run before, follow this straightforward plan for beginners to run 5K without stopping in just eight weeks.
The Fat Girls Guide to Running is the world’s only running resource and support website specifically designed to cater for larger women. They don’t mind how you describe yourself, large, plus-size, overweight, curvy, chunky, voluptuous or simply FAT, the message is the same, if you want to run you should be able to and you should be able to have safe and positive experiences while doing so. Click here to find out more. You can even join hundreds of plus-size runners in their monthly virtual 5K.
Julie is the plus-sized marathon runner from East London behind the global Too Fat to Run? movement which helps women survive and thrive in the sport of running. This talk encourages women to ditch the diets and their fear of judgement and instead focus on true health and happiness, and living a life full of adventure.
This week’s Book of the Week is The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway was born on the 21st July 1899, this week marking his 121st birthday. We have put together a list of similar titles for you to look through and enjoy.
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
The Patel family decide to sell their zoo in India and sail to Canada with a few remaining animals. Suddenly, tragedy strikes in the form of a horrendous storm, leaving the Patel’s son Pi as the sole human survivor. However, Pi is not alone in the ocean; a fearsome Bengal tiger has also survived the storm. The pair must learn to trust one another over the coming months if they are to last their voyage.
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald’s most famous work, The Great Gatsby, has been heralded as a modern American classic. When young and impressionable Nick moves in next door to extravagant millionaire Gatsby, he is drawn into a series of events leading to catastrophic consequences. Gatsby spares no expense in his attempts to win over childhood love Daisy, now married to old-money brute Tom Buchanan, and Nick can only bear witness to his friend’s downfall.
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
Originally written in Portuguese, The Alchemist has become an international bestseller. It is an allegorical novel, following the life of an Andalusian shepherd named Santiago who dreams of finding treasure in the pyramids of Egypt. Believing his dream to be prophetic, Santiago journeys to Egypt to seek his fortune. There, he experiences love, loss, and adventure in a powerful and moving tale.
If Beale Street Could Talk, by James Baldwin
Set in Harlem in the 1970’s, Baldwin’s classic is a love story following the lives of Fonny, a sculptor, and Tish, the book’s narrator. When Fonny is falsely accused of rape, Tish, 19 and pregnant, must help their families win justice for her lover. Past and present mingle to form a passionate and powerful novel, widely regarded as an essential read for our time.
All of these books are available to download from our cloudLibrary here. All you need is a RBKC library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry, just click here – it’s completely free to join and use our resources.
At Kensington Central Library, we are fortunate in having the largest special collection of biographies in the country (and possibly further afield!) – 85,000 volumes of published biographical material: biography, autobiography, collections of letters, diaries, journals and speeches.
We are delighted to have reopened the library, and it is possible for you to borrow books from the Biography Collection once again (as our regular readers will know, the collection is never open for direct browsing access to the public, but all except our most fragile books may be borrowed). To minimise staff trips to the store while our one-way system is in place, we have organised timed collections of books. These will take place at 12pm and 5pm Monday to Friday, and at 12pm and 4pm on Saturdays. Please email your requests to email@example.com
With the social distancing measures we are currently taking in the library, it won’t be possible to have our normal monthly display of books from the collection. In this blog I will have a fortnightly look at a book, and will sometimes take the opportunity to showcase (virtually!) one of our most interesting, quirky or unusual volumes. I will also feature a cover and an inscription. In every post I’ll include an extract of the biography of someone who lived in Kensington or Chelsea at some point – see if you can identify the person! Hope you enjoy it.
Claudia, Kensington Central Library
Biography of the Week
Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography
By Zora Neale Hurston
“I have been in Sorrow’s kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows with a harp and a sword in my hands.”
When I first discovered Zora Neale Hurston’s writing in my early 20s, I was bowled over – the copy of her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God I borrowed from Hammersmith Library opened up a world where poetic images tumbled and glittered like fragments of foil in a kaleidoscope, moving so quickly that I often had to revisit sentences to savour the impact. But the writing was never self-conscious or showy, and Hurston’s underlying voice was perfectly controlled, generous and vital, sharp as a scalpel. The power and inventiveness of her metaphors was such that I still remember some of them all these years later.
In 1942, at the same time as E. B. White was writing the essays we looked at last time, Hurston published Dust Tracks on a Road, her autobiography. By this time, aged nearly 50, Hurston was a giant of the African American literary and scholarly scene, not only a writer of fiction but a leading anthropologist of African-American and Caribbean folklore.
She was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, the explosion of African-American creativity which produced ground breaking art, literature, culture and commentary, centred on Harlem in the 1920s, but in later years she received less and less attention and had faded into the realms of forgotten writers by the time she died in 1960. Opinion had been divided about her use of dialect in her novels – some felt it was a crude caricature of the speech patterns of her community, which risked feeding into racist stereotypes; others believed it was a way of celebrating the poetic cadences of the American South and exploring the way language enriches and subverts. Her later work looked at class and gender and how they shaped the lives of disadvantaged women, both black and white.
In 1975, the writer Alice Walker led the way to a rediscovery of her work, which was rightfully placed at the forefront of American literature. In the 80s, the publisher Virago which was dedicated to making unjustly neglected out-of-print women writers available brought her autobiography out in a British edition, which is the one we have. Hurston brings the same sparkling prose to her own life story, the story of a woman finding her inimitable voice against all the odds presented by poverty and racism. It resonates with her energy and genius, and I found it no easier to put down than that novel I first read 30 years ago.
The covers of our books can be wonderful examples of particular fashions in graphic design. And it’s always intriguing finding inscriptions in books – some are dedications by the author, some are intimate messages commemorating the giving of a gift. This week’s cover and inscription are from the same book – Memoir of Edwin Bainbridge by Thomas Darlington, published by Morgan and Scott in 1888. Bainbridge, aged 22, was one of the 120 victims of the eruption of Mount Tarawera, on the North Island of New Zealand, on 10th June 1886. He had been travelling the world, and died at his hotel. His old school friend Darlington set about interviewing everyone who had known him to present this tribute to his life and heroic death (survivors of the eruption remembered him leading prayers to comfort and fortify them).
The binding is an elaborate one very typical of the period, with gilt lettering and a detailed image of Tarawera. The inscription inside reads “To dear Willie on his fifth birthday, July 2nd 1889. G. B. Saltash”. It seems extraordinary to us that such a sombre book should have been presented to a five-year-old. Presumably G. S. Saltash considered it a duty to inspire little Wille with the austere example of the classic ideal of Victorian manhood that Darlington evokes – self-sacrificing, valiant in the face of danger, pious and athletic. We recognise this type as a quintessential Victorian idea, and a key component of the triumphalist mythology of Empire. I feel rather sorry for poor Willie – I can’t help thinking he might have preferred one of the colourful illustrated books of nursery rhymes or fairy tales that were popular at the time.
The last extract describing the life of a resident of Kensington was from Queen Victoria by E. Gordon Browne, published in 1915. Victoria always emphasised the simplicity of her upbringing, and Browne quotes her as saying:
“I was brought up very simply—never had a room to myself till I was nearly grown up—always slept in my mother’s room till I came to the throne.”
Can you identify the subject of the following extract? (A clue: it’s an artist and it’s the late nineteeth century).
“In his garden he had a motley collection of animals, peacocks, armadilloes, the wombat, woodchuck, or Canadian marmot, and other outlandish creatures, including the famous zebu.”
Lola can’t imagine a world where she will ever eat tomatoes, carrots, peas, fishfingers or mashed potato. Will her brother Charlie’s stories help Lola to change her mind?
Make your day a Book Themed Day!
A Book Themed Day is an awesome way of bringing stories to life – especially when it comes to mealtimes. The Happy Mummy site suggests creating some delicious tomato-themed dishes with your child here. The bruschetta looks particularly appealing!
Make a vegetable–themed superhero cape
Charlie uses his imagination to encourage Lola to eat different food – in a similar spirit, here is another imaginative way to celebrate vegetables.
Grilled veggie skewers
Kids love getting involved in creating veggie kebabs – and building these colourful skewers might broaden their vegetable horizons.
Charlie and Lola paper dolls
The traditional activity of making paper dolls gets the Charlie and Lola treatment. Have a go at making your own over here.
This is a very cute project for Lola fans and a great opportunity to showcase their colouring skills.
Our book of the week, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, tells the story of an unlucky fisherman in Cuba fighting hunger and the elements while in a three day battle with a large Atlantic blue marlin in an attempt to reverse the curse on his fishing. The novel won Hemingway the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and was cited as one of the reasons he won the 1954 Nobel Prize.
We were inspired this story to try a classic Cuban recipe Pescado en Escabeche which translates to pickled fish. We tested out a recipe that doesn’t call for pickling the fish for 24 hours but instead creates a vinegar sauce that can be poured over the fish. Continue reading “Let’s make escabeche”
In this week’s books we love, Marion from Chelsea is reviewing On the Trail of Wolves where Philippa Forrester finds out what it’s like to live among wolves. Her second review is the new novel by Malcolm Galdwell, Talking to Strangers, where he explores how easy it is to misread people and the damaging consequences of doing so. Over to Marion… Continue reading “Books we love”
If the last few weeks have taught us anything it is that we should be lifting black voices, authors, artists, etc every day of the year, not just when there’s a protest or when it is Black History Month. With that in mind we searched through our online catalogue to find the best in black literature and over the next few weeks we’ll be highlighting different genres from non-fiction to Young Adult.
This week we’ve chosen four classic books that have stood the test of time and continue to be read and read again by literature lovers. Filled with complicated characters experiencing the full spectrum of emotion these books are rich and timeless. Continue reading “Celebrating black voices in literature – classics”
Gardening involves fresh air, exercise and being outside, close to nature and in the elements. Being in the garden can have great health benefits so we have collected a range of articles and videos to inspire you. Have a look at the resources below to find out the proven benefits that gardening can have on your health and wellbeing.
Continue reading “Gardening and Wellbeing”
Our Book of the Week this week is Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, which is an historical novel centred around the French Revolution. We have collated some more historical novels dealing with a number of different time periods for you to browse through and enjoy! Continue reading “Recommended Reads”