Neil Who?: Shilly-Shalling: Olympic Park May 2014.

I'm beginning this week with a book review. This splendid and enchanting book by Neil Gaiman was my reading for the last week and I really enjoyed it.

Is it a book for children?  Yes.

Is it a book for adults?     Yes.

Can adults read this book to children?     Yes.

Could children read this book to adults?   Yes.

So what we have here is a book for all purposes, Mr. Gaiman has pulled off the trick of being an adult, but  able to assume  the mind of a child.  Each day I battle with the twin ' enemies ' of reality and maturity and try to ignore both of them.

Quoting Neil's words from the book (p150 )
    " I'm going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside    either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age ( 7 ) . The truth is there are no grown-ups. "

This is a fantasy/reality story of a seven year old boy growing up in rural Sussex, who meets with various people, who are not what they they seem, in his dream-like  childhood.

Mr Gaiman is a cross between Roald Dahl and Douglas Adams (top company indeed). He quietly engages the reader, evoking memories from our past times  and brings us slowly back to the present day.


One thing though, I'm sure the author's name is really Neil Caiman, because he keeps snapping at my mind!


We all use phrases from time to time; without necessarily knowing their origin. Therefore I thought, I would introduce the odd phrase on an occasional basis. 
Let's start with " Shilly-Shally "



To dither and be undecided.


As is often the case with reduplicated word pairs, there is one word here that had a prior meaning while the other was added for effect. The usual sense of the question 'shall I' supplied the meaning, with 'shill I' the reduplication. The meaning is really just the same as 'shall I, shall I not?'
The phrase was originally to go shill-I shall-I or, to stand at shill-I shall-I. William Congreve's The way of the world, 1700, is the earliest record of the term in that original spelling:
"I don't stand shill I, shall I, then; if I say't, I'll do't."
The first record we have of it that uses our currently accepted spelling is from just a little later. Sir Richard Steele's The tender husband, or the accomplish'd fools, a comedy, 1703, includes:
"I'm for marrying her at once - Why should I stand shilly-shally, like a Country Bumpkin?"


In September 2012, D, and daughter L. visited the site of the London Olympics. Then because of re-construction, we couldn't actually walk into the grounds. Read that blog  entry here:

So last Wednesday ( 7 / 5 ) the three of us made a return visit; knowing that the park was partly open to the public..

The first building of note was the Aquatics Centre. As with all the construction, a beautifully designed feature.

The River Lea provided water-ways to give balance to the emerging parklands.

The pavements were wide, attractive,  fringed by trees and bushes  and possessed an ideal springy walking surface.

Everywhere we noticed enterprise and invention, Above you can see part of an adventure area, making the park a family orientated affair.

The park is very much work in progress and as time passes, more colour will be on display.

The highlight of our visit was a visit to the Velodrome. We were able to get free access to this venue and once inside we sat down and watched the cyclists flying around the track.

A very satisfying visit to the park, which I'm sure will become a major tourist attraction in the future.


I'm leaving you this week with this picture taken in Twickenham last Tuesday ( 7 / 5 ) overlooking Eel Pie Island.

Eel Pie is a small residential island in the Thames. Access is by boat,  or over the above bridge.

If you look closely, you will see two men pushing  and one pulling a barrow containing building material over the bridge. It gives a new meaning to home improvements.

From Wednesday next week the weather starts to get warmer. We're getting there!

Cheerio for now,


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