I’m still finding hard to settle down to write a book review. So here is a post about something else. As well as word puzzles I also love doing jigsaw puzzles. I don’t normally do one at this time of year but I just fancied doing one during the lockdown. It’s of Bamburgh Castle, a castle on the northeast coast of England, by the village of Bamburgh in Northumberland – one of my favourite castles.
Sorting the pieces:
I started off doing the outside pieces and then the horizon line right across the middle. Then Heidi decided to look at what I was doing and plonked herself down on it and went to sleep for a little while.
I’d done both of these Ravensburger puzzles before and put them back in their plastic bags inside the box, but I hadn’t sealed the bags and the pieces had got a bit muddled up. After I’d sorted them out this one was complete.
But there are two pieces missing from this one – and I can’t find them anywhere!
They are based on paintings by Alexander Sheridan, who was born in Cape Town and moved with his family when he was five back to Scotland. He has lived in New Zealand, India and Singapore. After his wife died he moved back to London with his young son. He met his second wife whilst hiking in the Outer Hebrides and then set up home on a farm near Ipswich, where he paints landscapes. (Information taken from the box.)
I’ve been spending some of my reading time doing jigsaws. I began in January whilst I was reading The Pattern in the Carpet: A Personal History With Jigsaws by Margaret Drabble. Jigsaws are good for you – doing them renews the brain cells, and because they have no verbal content they exercise a different part of the brain, bringing different neurons and dendrites into play.
I began with a Thomas Kinkade jigsaw: Sunday Evening Sleigh Ride (1,000 pieces):
Then a Ravensburger puzzle of 500 pieces – much easier to do – of a thatched cottage:
Finally, A Bird’s Eye View, a House of Puzzles jigsaw, 1000 pieces, some are varied shapes, making it a bit different from the other jigsaws – this jigsaw has a piece missing!
You can see the different shapes (and the space for the missing piece) in the photo below:
This book is not a memoir, although parts of it may look like a memoir. Nor is it a history of the jigsaw puzzle, although that it was what it was once meant to be. It is a hybrid. … This book started off as small history of the jigsaw, but it has spiralled off in other directions and now I am not sure what it is.
It is not the book she meant to write and it is not the book I expected to read. I enjoyed parts of immensely – those parts about her childhood, and life at Bryn, her grandparents’ house in Long Bennington and about her beloved Aunt Phyl (Phyllis Boor) and of course those parts about jigsaws, both personal and historical, about mosaics (looking at them as a form of jigsaw), the history of children’s games and puzzles and amusements. She does ‘spiral off in other directions’ which meant in parts it lacks a clear structure in a sort of ‘stream of conciousness’ style, particularly in her reminiscences and nostalgia about life (reproduced in some jigsaws) in a rural community that no longer exists.
I noted down a few points she made about jigsaws:
jigsaws renew the brain cells – that’s good! (page 66)
putting away a finished jigsaw can be a sad moment – I agree and usually leave mine for a while before dismantling them. These days I take a photo. (page 94)
because they have no verbal content they exercise a different part of the brain, bringing different neurons and dendrites into play. (that’s good too) (page 122)
some people disapprove of jigsaws, some of knitting, of card games and other activities and artistic traits. (page 187)
jigsaws maybe connected with depression and used as time-killers, filling empty days and evenings (page 242)
people can be addicted to jigsaws (page 244)
doing a jigsaw is like creating order out of chaos (page 245)
jigsaws reproducing works of art helps you learn about art (pages 250-1)
jigsaws as metaphors and simile are everywhere eg wikipedia etc (page 267)
And, of course, reading this book has made me get out a jigsaw to do. This is a Thomas Kinkade jigsaw: Sunday Evening Sleigh Ride (1,000 pieces).
I don’t think I’m a jigsaw addict, in the same way as I am a book addict, after all I do just a few jigsaws now and then, whereas reading is a constant and I feel lost if I don’t have a book on the go. And you may have noticed (from the side bar) that I am not currently reading a book! Time to find the next one to read …
I began this jigsaw over 3 weeks ago (see this post) – it’s taken me that long to finish it. I like to start a jigsaw and finish the edges before getting to the main part, but there were a few pieces that just wouldn’t fit – hence the gaps round the edge.I began by doing the blue pieces, followed by the orange/ red ones and then filled in the gaps, leaving (inevitably for me) the dark pieces.
And still some of the outside pieces seemed not to fit. Until finally I found where they all went.
It’s a beautiful picture, but it was quite a difficult puzzle to do, mainly because of its shape and size – portrait, 50 x 70 cm, which meant leaning over the bottom half to do the top, as I do jigsaws on the floor! But because it’s a Ravensburger 1,000 piece puzzle all the pieces are individually shaped and fit together perfectly – they only interlock together in the right places.
By this time last year I’d read about twice as many books as I have this year. One reason is the length of books I’ve been reading, but another reason is that I’ve been doing a jigsaw. I enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles and once I’ve got started on one I find it simply addictive – and I’m often surprised at the length of time it can take me.
Just as I have a backlog of books waiting to be read, I have a backlog of jigsaws and I bought this one, Northumberland Castles when we first moved to the county three years ago. I put it to one side at the time, busy settling in the house and promptly forgot about it, until recently. I finished it last weekend:
This puzzle shows from top left, looking at the photo, Dunstanburgh Castle (which we have yet to visit), Bamburgh Castle (see this post), second row from the left, Alnwick Castle (see this post), Lindisfarne (one of my favourite little castles – see this post), then Warkworth Castle (we have visited but I’ve not written a post yet) bottom row again from the left Chillingworth Castle (not visited this one), and Norham Castle, right on the Scottish Border (see this post).
I use a PuzzleKaddy to do the jigsaw. It folds away keeping the pieces held together and has a carrying handle. When I’m not doing the puzzle I fold up the board and slide it under the sofa out of the way.
I also use a Jigsafe to hold the pieces. This is a series of nesting boxes. I think the idea is to sort the pieces by colour. Each tray has a separate cardboard base so that you can do small sections and then slide them complete onto the jigsaw board. I don’t actually do that very much but use the trays just to hold the pieces, as shown in the photo below where I’ve sorted the pieces for the next jigsaw I’m doing. I separated the side pieces into the smallest box and just put the rest in the boxes as they came to my hand. Heidi was very interested!
My first entry for ABC Wednesday was J and I choseJigsaw. I’d just got the pieces out ready to do it:
It’s a beautiful picture of Little Langdale in the Lake District. It’s also a very difficult puzzle partly because so many of the pieces are so similar in colour. Often a puzzle like this has to be done by matching the shapes of the pieces but what is so frustrating in this puzzle is that so many of them will fit together but they aren’t quite right and I end up with pieces that just won’t fit anywhere. The grass was bad enough and I know I’ve not got the pieces all in the right places because I have one green piece left and it won’t fit into the one remaining space. The sky is even worse.
It is UNFINISHED.
Also UNFINISHEDis another U – namely Ulysses by James Joyce. Back in January I was full of determination to read this book, but so far I’ve only managed a few pages. It will certainly remain unfinished this year – maybe next year will be my Ulysses year, maybe not. It’s a daunting book because of its sheer length and reputation as a difficult book. It would probably help if I read it alongside Declan Kiberd’s book Ulysses and Us. I love the cover of this book, showing Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses.
More variations on the letter U can be found on the ABC Wednesday site
Last week I found the ABC Wednesday meme, which was started by Mrs. Denise Nesbitt, and people from all over the world come together to play and share their entries. Each week word(s) beginning with the designated letter are selected and illustrated through a photo, poem or prose. This week is the letter J.
J is for Jigsaw
As well as reading I also enjoy doing jigsaws and I’ve just started doing this one:
Eventually it will look like this. It’s a view of Little Langdale in the Lake District.