Monday, February 20, 2017

Round One, The Barfing on His Brogues Bracket

Welcome to the main event Betties! Today marks the first day of voting in our Epic Quest to find The One, True Betty. Competition will be heated (but civil) and voting will close next Monday when I post the winners of this round and choose another bracket to vote on.

Again, here are our loose guidelines: Vote with any criteria you want but only vote once--either on the FB page or here in the comments. When voting, you should lead the comment with your votes so that it should (pretty please) look like this:

"Caroline's Waterloo
The Fortunes of Franscesca
The Little Dragon

I chose these books because I like donkeys and because I find 'dragon' an adorable nickname..."

and not this:

Caroline's Waterloo seems better than An Independent Woman but I'm not super sure so I just went with it. TFoF is just a fun name but then, so was the book it was going up against ('Polly')...

As always, feel free to lobby for your favorites as that is a huge part of the fun and you're welcome to lobby loud and long before casting your own votes.

Here's a link to the Uncrushable Jersey Dress reviews if anyone needs a bit of a refresher on plots. And please, please don't feel you can't vote if you haven't read everything. You're welcome to vote or not vote on any of the match-ups.

The last rule is that we have fun with this! Betties, I introduce you to The Barfing on His Brogues Bracket.

Vote away!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

March Madness Redux

We add a picture of a hot man to each one of these because we will soon need some soothing.
Go in peace, Betties.
Yes. We are doing this. Hopefully, I have sorted myself out a little better than the last time we attempted to figure out which Betty Book reigns supreme.

For one thing, I am using a spreadsheet which should help and I've broken The Canon into four brackets for ease of voting:

First, I want to make sure that everyone can access these brackets and in a few days we'll start voting on just one of them. I'm not planning on moving at too harried a pace (I'll put a new bracket up on Monday and close voting on the following Monday). I expect I'll post a link to our reviews page so that people can get a refresher if some of the titles are lost to the mists of your memory.

Your criteria for voting is up each individual Betty and I expect a lot of lobbying and persuasion to happen in the comments section here and, more probably, on the Facebook page. When you vote your comment should look like this, in that you post your winners:

Caroline's Waterloo
A Small Slice of Summer
Never the Time and the Place
etc., etc.

Comments about why you chose what you chose can go at the end. It's easier for me to sort out the votes when they're alone and clean-looking.

Remember, the first round should be pretty painless--I've tried to match books written from different eras--but it only gets harder as the days go on.

Let me know in these comments if it's complicated or something needs explaining or revising. Again, this post is not for VOTING on. We're giving a head's up and asking for feedback.

I'm excited to do this!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Getting Around to the Second Installment of "The Founding Bettys Take Europe"

I am the worst blogger ever. The holiday season came upon me like a large wave upon a small dinghy. What can I say? It swamped me.

From Chawton, deep in Jane Austen-land, our plucky band travelled to Hampton Court Palace. Truly, I wish we had saved this to be the very last thing we visited it because I am in love with HCP. Like, If I were a small, rural manor house run along economical lines but needing a new roof overhaul, HCP would be my pin-up. I would drop my handkerchief and faint into its arms in the hopes of being ruined and wed.
Hampton Court Palace, you great, gorgeous pile.
One of the things I noticed since we did both France and England, is that England has a huge sense of humor about its historical sites, having great affection for them but not taking it so seriously. (England seems also VASTLY more interested in managing their tourists--telling people what they are looking at and the significance thereof in the language of their choice.) The official audio guide to HCP didn't confirm that the ghost of Katherine Howard haunted a specific hall of HCP, it only confirmed that more fainting fits happen in that hall than anywhere else on the grounds and left one to draw conclusions. That is JUST the sort of dishy innuendo I like.

Pledge Two learning about British Escandelo!
The people who are hired to stand around in rooms making sure no one makes off with historical panelling or artfully displayed armory are also fascinating if one has the nerve, as I had, to ask them to tell you the best thing they ever saw at the castle. One fellow didn't answer that it was historical reenactments or the sun glinting just so off antique glass but the vision of a toadying director bowing so low during the visit of a minor royal that he fell straight into the mud. Excellent, England. Way to be awesome.

Only one of several massive open fireplaces. This one was converted into a toilet room and then back. The wonders of home renovation!
Of particular interest to me on the visit through the palace was the kitchens. Here I learned about Grace and Favour apartments (which I knew of before. I just didn't know it was still going on for very old pensioners.) As we stood in the kitchens, the costumed docent told us in an off-hand way that Lord Baden-Powell and his wife lived (in kind of sketchy circumstances) right there in the old kitchens. My Cub Scout Den Mother heart grew two sizes that day.

They left Lady Baden-Powell's stove. Looks like an Aga.
Another semi-hot adventuring type that lived at HCP was Earnest Shackleton.
A seven on the street. A ten when you know he crossed hundred of miles in an open boat with rudimentary navigation tools.

The last thing we did at HCP was run through the maze giggling as though we were being chased by sexy sea-captain privateers with designs upon our petticoats. We only had fifteen minutes. It was the only way.

Hotness ahoy!
After this we forged onward to London. One of the first stops was Liberty of London. Let me tell you, Bettys. The prints may have a homespun quality but that is in no way reflective of the price/yard. I sucked in my breath and took a picture.
Do you want to send your children to college or do you want to make them look cute?
We took many a train in London and collected one of the toss-away daily papers. I cannot tell you what a delight they are to me. The abiding lesson from England is that these people can laugh at just about anything.
This is a surprisingly old-fashioned column. I have read newspapers from the mid-1800s with the same stuff. I wonder if it ever works. What a tale to tell. 

My last assorted thoughts on this leg of the trip, before we move on, are about food. The hardest part of travel is finding food you love and can't get back home. For instance:

The whole of the Harrod's food hall. It's like outrageous mating plumage but on a salmon mousse...
M&S Rhubarb and Custard Drops (WIN), Orange with Bits (Okay?), Walker's Smokey Bacon Crisps (WIN), Veggie Wine Gums and plain old Wine Gums (We didn't try them but I can't think why veggie wine gums exist and can't imagine they would be an improvement on plain old wine gums. Someone needs to try them and tell me.)

Until next time, Betties!

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Founding Betties in Bath (and Lesser Environs)

 The Founding Betties returned from London and Paris (and just the smallest slice of Iceland comprising the tarmac and the terminal and some pretty swanky toilets) a couple of weeks ago and I have been meaning to post a little about our time there for you.

To begin with I must comment on a subject of intense interest: the weather. It was glorious in England. Our umbrellas came out for 30 seconds in Trafalgar Square before we popped under a colonnade. In Paris the rain was more like four good hours (and much colder). But if you consider that we were there for two weeks in October, this is astonishingly good luck.

Betty Keira is behind the camera.
Betty Debbie and her Mijnheer, Pledge Two
and Doting Aunt are in front of it.
Pledge Two and I landed and went straight to Bath to meet Betty Debbie and her Mijnheer. My favorite thing about Bath was seeing all the places Captain Wentworth had snogged or gazed with RDD-like intensity at Aramin--uh...I mean, Anne Elliot.

The scene of the snogging
Landing in Bath was lovely but there was all that jetlag to work out and the Marks & Spencer Cafe was just the place. Cheap, plain food that any Neels-ian heroine would recognize at once. Chicken and leek pie, jacket potatoes, massive mugs of hot chocolate...

No undies were purchased at this time.
My other favorite thing was Roland the Tour Guide Who Became Justifiably Agitated Over 70s Architecture.
In my head, Roland populates a small village with a really beautiful Norman church. His role is to pester everyone about funds to replace the roof or the bell and to offer one knowing comment to Araminta about her interest in the new doctor. Because he was so helpful, the RBD coughs up the money and the church is restored to its former glory just in time for the wedding.

We stayed in a cottage in a village called Midsomer Norton and the roads were shocking. I mean it. I could handle the driving on the left side of the road (not me driving, thank heavens. I was busy praying.) much better than roundabouts that looked nothing like roundabouts and roads going through small towns that just turned into one lane affairs. Dear England, you convinced me that I am not up for driving on your surfaces. Kudos to all who are.

From Bath we went to Chawton, last home of Jane Austen. The most precious things I took from that location are the belief that Jane was a genius, this gif of Pledge Two in the Regency dress-up clothes,
"Mr. Darcy is worth HOW many pounds per annum?"

..., and this view. I dare anyone not to think romantic thoughts while tucked in the little wilderness at the side of the house.
Lizzie discovered the yew hedge at her back.
Darcy's look told her he wasn't going to extricate her.
Indeed, he seemed intent on pressing her into it.

I was determined to purchase a Tatler and a Daily Mail while in England (not knowing yet that in London they hand out really basic newspapers morning and evening at the Metro) and was not disappointed. British tabloid/news writing is better than American writing hands down (The Great Betty would not be surprised to hear). It's dishy without being idiotic. The Tatler, in particular, was fantastic and I wish I had discovered a huge stack of back issues in the corner of a musty Oxfam shop to squirrel away in my luggage.
Louisa was asked by the photographer to "think of something serious".
So she tried to remember that time she almost poisoned the Twins.

More installments to follow...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Cruise to a Medical Emergency

I was driving Pledge Five off to preschool this morning and was listening to the news on the radio about a man bleeding internally on a cruise ship off the coast of Washington State. The Coast Guard had to retrieve him* and deliver him safely to a hospital in Port Angeles.

Of course, I thought of my favorite nurse-aboard book, "Never While the Grass Grows" and the drama therein. It's not all handing out doses against sea-sickness and sunburn, fending off the drunken hands of boozy passengers. No. Sometimes an ectopic pregnancy is operated on whilst feelings of love are discovered.
"Love....exciting and new...We're semi-staffed....for emergency surgeries on you!"

Here's hoping that over the agonized yelps of a patient in peril, the medical crew of Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas had a little time to pitch some woo, as the kids say.

*The most interesting part of the radio broadcast (that the article doesn't even bother about) was when they talked about how the helicopter DOESN'T LAND on the cruise ship. It sends a rescue diver down with a basket and the diver (assuming he hasn't had to jump in the water for any dramatic reason) helps the person in the basket and away they go. If they asked me to do that I would just:  

"I'm fine internally bleeding."

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Happy Bettysday!

As I type, Bettysday commemorations are happening all over the globe with various of our Betties minding young children, curling up with a favorite book, partaking of tea or a lavish dessert tray.

My own celebrations are smaller this year. I folded a mountain of laundry and turned out several cupboards (the Mijnheer thought my backside was splendid as he saw me working, I am sure) and will take some flowers and chocolate to a friend who is celebrating her own birthday.

As I worked, I was watching the program Very British Problems and I leave it to our British Betties to tell me if it's accurate at all. A man was being interviewed and I had a full-on Dawning Realization. Well, not a full-on one. That's reserved for Mijnheer van Voorhees. But it was adjacent. It was Betty-idealization At First Sight.  

Meet Nigel Havers. Well, don't really meet him. The wiki article tells me he's a fan of, if you take my meaning. (We can't have everything, Betties!) But he is undeniably RBD material. Graying hair, broad shoulders, perfect accent. Check. Check. Check.

It's not much but it's my only gift to you. Let's raise a glass of tea, take a bite of scone and bless the day Betty was born!
"Darling girl, You've left me standing on this sidewalk for long enough.
Do let's go in so the net curtains will stop their infernal twitching."


Saturday, September 10, 2016

What's on TV?

TV does not figure prominently in The Canon. It feels like the only time we see them is at Professor Baron de Werd van den Platz ter Brant's ancestral pile. It's often tucked furtively away like a girlie mag in the small sitting room Araminta is expected to make her own in the coming weeks and months of her loveless marriage of convenience.

TV is something she might watch after wrestling with difficult Dutch verb conjugation, already consulted Mrs. Jolly about dinner menus and is waiting for her husband to come home. From a surgery? From driving to Belgium? From taking her sister, Nefarious Model, out?

The programs on offer never seem interesting. And I don't see the new baroness indulging in more exciting fare like my current TV obsession Stranger Things. (That is, as they say, another book. The only gorgons in Betty Neels novels are peppery night nurses.)  

(Actually, in the interest of honesty they share a bit more: Casseroles, a loveless marriage, bicycles, romantic yearning, working in a grocery store, teenaged hooligans, resourceful heroines, missing children, a plain best friend to the pretty one who really deserves a great love story...Oh my gosh, Betties. Oh my gosh.)

I digress. I was thinking of what might be enjoyed by the Baroness when she figures out the whole thing. Here is Betty Keira's Well-Bred Baroness Programming Guide:

Netflix has Martin Clunes: Heavy Horsepower. I really enjoyed it. The baroness needs to understand the massive Friesians on her new husband's country estate.

Singin' in the Rain. Oh. A musical. How diverting. (My 13-year-old was watching it last night and said of the meet-cute when Gene Kelly jumps from a tram into the passenger seat of Debbie Reynolds elderly car "That must be the best meeting in film." And then when Lena Lamont (a Veronica. Boo. Hiss.) comes to blackmail the owner of the studio into making Kathy dub ALL her films, she said, "Some people just want to watch the world burn.")    

Persuasion (1995). A tasteful remake of a well-loved classic sure to keep the baroness hopeful that her own wayward romance will find its own happy ending. In the mean time, Ciaran Hinds will not at all hurt the eyes.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi For the cooks in The Canon (Florina of The Great Lemonade Caper, Kate with her improbably small 100 pounds of seed money) they will appreciate the skill and beauty of a dish well-executed. For the nurses, they will recall that handsy houseman who tried to feed them on Asian food and then get familiar. Olivia wonders when her own husband will try to get familiar...

Antiques Roadshow UK Araminta, being tossed out of her ancestral home by an evil brother/step-mother/cousin with only her mother's old work basket and a papier mache table to show for her years of hard work tending a crotchety and ill man, will enjoy the idea that if things get really dire, maybe there's money in some of Mama's old things.

Hop to it Betties, we need a full complement of programming so that the baroness doesn't become so frustrated by her husband's continual absences that she is tempted to take off in her Loveless Mini to a hiding place so secret she already told him about it. (cough*The Blue Pool*cough)