A Big Challenge

Those of you who know me, as well as those of you who have bothered to read the About Me page will notice that I like books.  Indeed, my post entitled Groundhog Day mentions my ordering a book about Cambridge University Library.  Anyway, with that thought in mind, and by looking through my travel bucket list, I realised that although the country of Bhutan fascinates me, and in spite of my trawling wikipedia relentlessly for Bhutanese topics, I still know very little about this most enigmatic and isolated of countries.

You can imagine my delight when I came across a book (published 2008) that reviews said was very comprehensive, and full of information about this country.  Not only that, but it was written by a former Bhutanese diplomat, and so ought to be pretty accurate (and is endorsed by the Queen Mother of Bhutan).  Should be a decent read then, but where to buy it?

It was at this point that it got a bit tricky, because it seems like you can’t buy it.  “I shall find it in the UL!”, I thought.  They don’t have it either.  The same story applies to the British Library (which boasts 150,000,000 items in its collection).  I even bit the bullet and checked the Bodleian Library (but luckily it’s not there either).

After an exhaustive search (Blackwells, Waterstones, various Hay-on-Wye establishments, etc.), I elected to hunt down the publisher.  However, they don’t have a website.

My next desperate attempt was to have a look on WorldCat, which is a catalogue of the collections of libraries from all over the world.  The three nearest (and only) public libraries that have a copy of this book are in New York, Washington D.C., and Singapore.  However, they all have it down as reference only.

After a lot of digging around, (and I mean a LOT), finally I tracked down one new copy for sale.  There is only one on the whole internet it seems.  A shop in the US is selling it.  So, there are two options.  Either, pay lots more money than I’d normally be willing to for a book, or write to the publisher in Thimphu by post (as there’s no website/email address, or even a fax) to see if they’d sell me one?  Hmmm, I’ll need to have a think about it.

A Pretty Quiet Day

First of all, the Prince of Cambridge now has a name. Woo!  He’s now Prince George, which means (assuming that Prince Charles takes George as his regnal name – as being known as King Charles III would probably lead to comparisons between the first two Kings Charles, who were rather controversial to say the least), that he’ll boost the number of Kings George up to eight (putting it as joint most popular, along with Edward and Henry).  However, one could argue that Edward is the most popular, as there were three Kings Edward prior to the Battle of Hastings in 1066 (after which the numbers start, as does modern English history).  In chronological order, these Kings were: Edward the Elder (reigned 899-924); Saint Edward the Martyr (reigned 975-978); and Saint Edward the Confessor (reigned 1042-1066). In a way it would have been cool for him to have been named after one of the ancient Kings of England, although I somehow doubt that we’ll have another King Æðalstan (the first King who unified the whole of England in 927, after trashing the Vikings up in the North – reigned 924-927 (Wessex), and 927-939 (England)). (See previous Special Edition entitled “Old Letters (or the Four “Billy No Mates” of the Alphabet)” for information on those old letters if you’re unsure). Anyway, that Saxon history lesson out of the way, what have I been up to?  Well, yesterday I visited the sulphide plant, where the vast majority of the mined copper ore gets sent (in diggers carrying 300 tonnes each).  They dump it in a pile, and it gets crushed and processed to make a sort of powder/paste of 30% copper (which gets sent by road to a smelter elsewhere).  There was a huge amount of heavy machinery (such as a 15 metre high giant rock crushing machine), and it was very interesting.  The afternoon was quite quiet, but one of my colleagues popped in and asked if I was scared of snakes.  I replied that I wasn’t, so he duly dumped a small lizard into my hand (who had been caught outside, and was now named María).  It was very small, and pretty sweet, and after taking some photos, we released it back outside. Apparently their natural predators around here are tarantulas which is rather sad (but luckily, the tarantulas aren’t really about during the winter). 

María the lizard

María the lizard

Today is pretty quiet, and I’m on my own in the office this afternoon, as everyone else is at a first aid course.

Special Edition: An Historic Day

It’s been an exciting day, but of course now, the wait is over.  I am of course referring to the birth of HRH the new Prince.  I’m probably in the same boat as the rest of the UK (and the Commonwealth Realms, Crown Dependencies, and British Overseas Territories), in that I’ve been keeping a very close eye on the live news feed (radio and TV etc. are all blocked on the company internet), waiting to see whether we’ll have a future King or Queen after HRH The Duke of Cambridge.  Anyway, it’s jolly good news indeed, and congratulations must go to the Duke and Duchess!  There’s no news on the name front yet, but if I were to bet, I’d go for George.

God save the future King!

Dorset Bound

I’d arranged to go and visit my paternal grandparents today with my father, as I’ve not seen them since Christmas, and would not get the chance to see them again until after I’m back from Chile at the very earliest.  Anyway, it was lovely to see them both, and we had a good lunch, followed by generic conversation, and plenty of interesting stories about my various ancestors (including one who got questioned by the police after a case of mistaken identity between him and a terrorist).

On the way back, we stopped off at the Rufus Stone.  This is a monument in the New Forest (established 1079) to King William II (reigned 1087-1100), who was “accidentally” shot dead whilst on a hunting expedition in 1100.