Thursday, 16 October 2014

October's Rambles

Well, after days of heavy grey clouds like these, of rain, and wind, then more rain... when the ditches and small rivers that you find around this area are full to the brim almost... when the plants in the garden are all beginning to blacken and die back and even the seed heads of the tall grass looks a bit manky ... well, it's lovely to see a bit of this ...

blue skies appearing again. Not for long though, soon the grey engulfs the blue, the warm sun hides away, and you're left wondering should you bring the washing in or not?

The peonies have been cut back, the remains of the sweet peas and runner bean plants all taken down, chopped up and put in the composting bin. There is still some colour from marigolds, nigella, cranesbill, and the scarlet geraniums in pots aren't ready to give up flowering just yet. So maybe still a couple of weeks or so of colour, then it will quieten down until the bursts of colour from all the bulbs.

For now, though with the sun shining, it's lovely and warm, and perfect for a stroll round the estate, as one friend describes her morning walk round her tiny plot. Here are a few shots of ours, this afternoon....

Sorry, but I'm no good at this mosaic lark!

The garden is something that always gives me pleasure, no matter what the weather.

Other things that have given me pleasure this week.....

My knitting, which goes slowly, even though it's a very simple two row chevron pattern. But it's in four ply, the balls - grey and purple - never seem to get any smaller! But I have finished a crochet lap blanket for the old people's home. Something I do every couple of years or so is take a pile of lap blankets, sometimes scarves and fingerless gloves, a shawl or two maybe, all knitted or crocheted, to one of the old people's homes in the area. This one is a grey bland building, of Sixties construction I would estimate, whereas the others within a five mile radius are not purpose built, but converted out of lovely, characterful for the most part, large (and very large) private homes. So I feel a bit sorry for the folk living in this boring looking one, even though they have quite a nice garden and lovely staff. So I finished this....

sorry it's a bit blurry. I'll put this away in the cupboard, with the two shawls I've done over the summer, until such time as I have a decent amount to take, next year definitely.

My reading always gives me pleasure, and I've read some great books recently. These will appear on the next posting, all about October's reading, but one I can't recommend highly enough is 'Daughter', by Jane Shemlit. Picked up on a whim in the supermarket, as opposed to my careful choosing on Amazon et al, this book was one I couldn't put down. It had me gripped from page one, right to the very end, and is a book I know I will read again. If you come across it, give it a try.

What has definitely not pleased me this week was the old misogynist behind us in the queue at the supermarket yesterday, who in a loud voice proclaimed all the ails of the world, and this country in particular, were down to women, that amongst other things, the government had gone to pot since women were elected (Really?). He was in his seventies I should think, dressed in beige polyester from head to trainered feet. His wife, fluffed up  blonde hair and a dress two generations too young for her, simpering and laughing at him. I felt like smacking him, and the till lady looked far from pleased, her colour going from English rose pink to let me at him red. He really was offensive, thought he was so funny. I won't bother recording or repeating all the other things he said, some of which were directed at his silly wife who thought he was being kind. My other half was amazed that I had kept quiet. Normally I would have said something but to be honest, I was so fuming I really couldn't think of where to start!

So there you have my rambles for this month. Hope this finds you all well and able to enjoy some autumn sunshine wherever you are too.

Thanks for visiting, and please do leave a comment if you can.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

September reading

Once again linking up with Laura over at Circle of Pine Trees and her 'Year in Books' - such a great idea, I've already tried books/authors I might otherwise never have noticed or known about.

First on my list is 'The Knot' by Mark Watson. Dominic is an enthusiastic snapper as a child who grows up to be a photographer of people, especially weddings. But he carries a dirty little secret that would appal everyone - if it came out. 

Next is 'Quarter Past Two on a Wednesday Afternoon' by Linda Newbery. This is the time and day when teenage Rose aged 18, disappeared. Leaving her friends, family, all in total shock. For twenty years her younger sister Anna holds the thought that Rose is alive and one day she'll find her. Will she find her and will it be more revealing than she thought? Like the previous book, a brilliant debut novel.

'The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap' by Wendy Welch is non-fiction, the story of Wendy and her husband who had a dream to open a bookshop. So they do, and whilst the idea of a cosy bookshop, chairs by the fire and so on is appealing, the reality of creating such a shop, and in the town they chose, was very different and there were times when they were close to giving up. But they persevered and now the shop thrives. I chose this book because I collect books about or novels set in, bookshops, and also because Big Stone Gap is where one of my favourite authors, Adriana Trigiani set her novels.

Nina Stibbe's 'Man at the Helm', is her first work of fiction following the success of her previous autobiographical work 'Love, Nina'. This is the story of Lizzie, who with her little brother and big sister leave the family home with their mother when their parents separate. It becomes clear that their mother is useless at the parenting lark alone, and so they devise a plan to find her a man, they make a 'man list' to find a man to be at the helm and make everything all right again. One by one prospective candidates are ticked off the list until the right one finds them, unexpectedly, without any help or interference from them.

'Delicious' by Ruth Reichl is just that, a delicious read. Billie leaves California for New York to work as a writer, and ends up on the foodie magazine, Delicious. When the magazine closes she is the only staff member left to work in the old building, answering complaints and queries from readers. And it is whilst she is doing this she discovers the letters of Lulu Swan, a young girl, and it is reading about this young girl and her life, how she copes with adversity that has a profound effect on Billie and how she lives her own life, how she copes with her fears. 

'Eleanor and Park' by Rainbow Rowell...  is the story of young, first love. At times it's hearbreakingly sad at the end, and the ending itself... well, you make of it what you will. But the reading of the story of these two young people in their mid-teens, brings back memories of how it felt to be young, and in love. The pain, the ecstatic highs and very miserable lows too. Good read. It's actually classed as young adult fiction, but it can be read by anyone of any age. Even an oldie like me, still able to remember those feelings.

I also read, on my Kindle, 'Elizabeth is Missing' by Emma Healey, a sometimes upsetting novel about living with dementia. Maud is forgetful, goes out and forgets why, has lots of scribbled notes she keeps in her pockets, none of  which make any sense to her when she finds them. But she's certain of one thing; that her friend Elizabeth is missing. So she looks for her all the time. Whilst her short term memory isn't good, she can remember her teenage years and the people who were a part of her life. Well-written, and starkly brings home the reality of what dementia feels like.

I am in the middle of a short course in women's studies, having just finished the first part which is about women's roles in WWII. The two books below are ones I've had since they were published almost twenty years ago, both filled with facts and personal remembrances of that period in our history. It's amazing to think that despite what some of the women were doing - driving tanks, flying aircraft, working on the land, running British Restaurants, doing the dangerous, smelly, noisy work in Ammunitions factories, even parachuting into occupied France as spies -  many of them felt second class, as if their efforts weren't as valid, or valuable, as the work the men did. Yet it has been well documented that without the effort of these women, nearly half a million of them in military service and 6.5 million in civilian war work, it's possible that we wouldn't have been able to put up the fight we did.

So there you have my books for last month. Now autumn is almost upon us, leaves are falling rapidly off the birch trees in my back garden, Christmas magazines are on sale in the shops alongside Hallowe'en costumes and pumpkins. Lots more time for reading hopefully.

Thanks for dropping by.