Friday, February 11, 2011

Once again, it looks like Sweden can already kiss its chances goodbye in the Eurovision Song Contest.  They've already eliminated the best song in the running, Oh My God by Le Kid.  If the catchy song doesn't hook you, surely the dancing licorice allsorts will:


But no, I'm sure when the winning song has been chosen, I'll once again shake my head and ask, "Does anyone in Sweden ever WATCH the program to see the sort of songs that actually end up winning?" 

Why do they do this to me every year?  Oh well, there's always 2012 . . .

Friday, February 4, 2011

Win an iPad with Classic FM’s Hall of Fame 2011

Have your say in the definitive poll of classical music tastes. Tell us which composers have inspired you this year and you could win an Apple iPad or three runner-up prizes of shopping vouchers worth £100 each.

Will Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending top the poll for a fifth year? Or might it even be Mozart who had no less than a staggering 20 works in last year’s poll? Or will it be Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 which topped the Ultimate Hall of Fame in January?

So if your choice is a Beethoven, Brahms or Busoni then let us know. Let the battle commence!

All you need to do is visit http://www.classicfmhalloffame.co.uk/ to vote for your top three pieces of classical music.

Simply type the details of the piece of music or composer you'd like to vote for in the box and select from the list of thousands of pieces. If your favourite isn't listed just follow the instructions to type it in manually.

Listen as we reveal this year’s brand new Top 300, in association with NS&I, across the Easter weekend from 22-25 April 2011.

Online voting closes at 23:59 on Friday 11 February 2011. The Competition is open to residents of the UK and Northern Ireland aged 18 or over only.

Need a few suggestions to jog your memory? Why don't you browse our recent Ultimate Hall Of Fame chart?

Classic FM broadcasts across the UK on 100 – 102 FM, digital radio, digital TV and online at classicfm.com

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thanks to everyone who entered to win the Merlin Complete Second Season DVD from BBC.  The winner, chosen by random.org, was:

Jon Trouten 

The winner has been notified.  Thanks again to all who entered, and watch for more giveaways in the future!
Conor Grennan portrays himself as something of a slacker in the book Little Princes. After graduating from college and working in Europe for a while, he decides to spend a year traveling around the world. Nearing the end of his trip, he imagines the wonderful bragging rights he'll gain if he spends a few months volunteering with orphans in Nepal. He plays out scenes in his head in which rapt audiences of friends and family are regaled with stories of his selflessness and generosity of spirit. In other words, he had no idea what the project would involve.


In 2004 he arrives at the Little Princes orphanage in Kathmandu, Nepal to spend 2 months volunteering. At the time, there was a civil war going on in the country between forces loyal to the king and Maoist rebels. This made travel and other situations in the country unpredictable and dangerous.


Conor soon realizes that he is out of his depth with the children. He has no experience in dealing with small people, and no idea of how to pass the time. There were 18 children there when he arrived. The children were very friendly, running out to jump on him as he walked up the path to the building. He soon grew accustomed to their exuberance and was even able to tell them apart after a while!


Conor leaves the country to continue his travels after his 2 months are up, but by that time he is interested in returning to visit the children again. While doing his second tour of duty at the orphanage, he makes a horrifying discovery: most of the children aren't orphans. When the war broke out, child traffickers moved in to rural areas and offered to take the children to schools in the city where they would be safe and receive an education. Many impoverished parents sold what few possessions they had to send their children into safety. Little did they realize that the traffickers often abandoned the children, and that they would most likely never see their children again. The children at the Little Princes home are taken care of and go to school, but Conor and his fellow volunteers soon discover 7 additional children who have been abandoned in the capital. They are living in extreme poverty after having been dumped with a poor woman who cannot support them. Conor frantically calls other Western child welfare agencies who are operating in the capital, and is finally able to find a place for all 7 children. He visits the children and tells them that someone will be coming soon to take them to a safe place where they will live with other children and attend school.


At this time, Conor returns to the United States and intends to get on with his life. Not long after his return, he receives an email from the lady who was to pick up the 7 children: they have disappeared. The child trafficker who abandoned them has had word that people are interested in them, so he removes the children again. Conor feels an overwhelming sense of guilt because he'd promised the children that someone would be coming to take them away to a safe place, and instead they were taken by a very dangerous person.


Once again Conor returns to Nepal, this time with the main focus of his trip being to find the missing 7 children. While there, he also vows to visit the home region of the Little Princes children and find out how many of the parents are still alive. The rest of the book is taken up with his efforts to locate the parents, find the missing children, and, eventually, to start his own children's home.


The book is very heart-warming. It's very interesting to read about a country that is fairly unknown to most people. I had no idea that such horrible things were happening to the children in that country. There is an interesting article from 2007 about Conor's journey in The University of Virginia Magazine. He has also started an organization, Next Generation Nepal, which attempts to reunite the trafficked children with their parents.


I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of the book from Harper Collins and was very moved by the story. The book won't be released until February, but I hope everyone will look for it then.


Final Verdict for Little Princes: Four Gherkins, for being an enlightening and thought-provoking look at a major problem in a remote country

About Me

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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The Gherkin Scale

5gherkinsb Brilliant!

4gherkinsb Good, innit?

3gherkinsb Fair to middlin'

2gherkinsb Has some good points

1gherkin Oi! Wot you playin' at?

0gherkins3Don't be givin' me evils!

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