SandDune’s Retirement Reads - Part 2

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SandDune’s Retirement Reads - Part 2

Editat: feb. 9, 8:42am

Welcome to my second thread of 2021, and to my tenth year doing the 75 Book Challenge. I'm a 59 year old accountant and, after spending most of my career in the City of London, I as until very recently the Finance Manager of a local charity which provides support to children and adults with learning disabilities. But 2021 will be a year of change as I retired on 22nd January, and my husband (aka Mr SandDune) started working part-time from January onwards with a view to retiring completely in the summer. We live about thirty miles north of London although retirement may take us elsewhere in the U.K. Our 21 year old son (aka J) is now at the University of Lancaster in the North of England studying History, well he’s actually studying from home at the moment but hopes to go back next month, lockdown permitting. There's also our 9 year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Daisy, who tends to feature prominently in my threads.

I'm originally from Wales rather than England, so I do have an interest in all things Welsh (although I can't speak the language - at least only a few words) and I tend to get huffy if people call me English rather than Welsh! I read mainly literary fiction, classics, science-fiction and fantasy, but I have been trying (and enjoying) some crime fiction. As far as non-fiction goes I’m interested in a number of topics in particular books about the environment and nature.

In 2020 I struggled with my reading (for the obvious reasons) and read a lot fewer books than normal, and more of those were a fairly easy read.

All my family are avid readers. J has inherited a love of reading science-fiction and fantasy from me and a love of reading history from Mr SandDune so our books are increasingly shared. I read hardbacks, paperbacks, on kindle and listen to audio books particularly when driving or walking the dog. Apart from reading I love travelling, eating out, and going to the theatre, most of which have been curtailed in 2020 again for the obvious reasons. I'm getting more and more concerned about environmental issues and I have been quite involved in campaigning on climate change.

During 2020 I got a lot of pleasure from looking at the birds in my garden, so I thought for 2021 I’d start my threads with pictures of some of the garden birds that are regular visitors. Actually the bird I’ve chosen for this thread is the kingfisher, which isn’t found in my garden at all. But for weeks our local paper has been full of kingfisher pictures, as two of them have taken up residence in town, and one of those is frequently to be found conveniently right in the middle of town perching on the railings of a (currently closed) restaurant which overlooks the river. Jacob and his girlfriend, who walk along the river on a fairly frequent basis, have seen one or other of them several times, but despite a couple of attempts we had missed seeing them until yesterday. And then yesterday we were there at exactly the right time and it was sitting outside its restaurant just 20 feet away from us.


From Thomas Bewick’s A History of British Birds:

And in real life:

Editat: feb. 8, 4:56pm

Five star books from past years:

H is for Hawk Helen MacDonald
The Curse of Chalion Lois McMaster Bujold

The Salt Path Raynor Winn
Wilding Isabella Tree
Mothering Sunday Graham Swift

City of Bohane Kevin Barry
Educated: A Memoir Tara Westover
Frederica Georgette Heyer

1984 George Orwell
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
Persuasion Jane Austen
The Outrun Amy Liptrot
Lincoln in the Bardo George Saunders
Just William Richmal Crompton

The Shepherd’s Life James Rebanks
Gilead Marilynne Robinson

The Spire William Golding
Girl in the Dark: A Memoir Anna Lyndsey
The Remains of the Day Kazuo Ishiguro

The Lowland Jhumpa Lahiri
The Wall Marlen Haushofer
Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
Selected Stories Katherine Mansfield
Framley Parsonage Anthony Trollope

The Garden of Evening Mists Tan Twan Eng
Tooth and Claw Jo Walton
Barchester Towers Anthony Trollope
Northanger Abbey Jane Austen
The Ocean at the End of the Lane Neil Gaiman
Suite Francaise Irene Nemirovsky
Salvage the Bones Jesmyn Ward

Among Others Jo Walton
The Arrival Shaun Tan
The Tale of Peter Rabbit Beatrix Potter
The Uncommon Reader Alan Bennett
Railsea China Mieville

Editat: abr. 13, 4:47pm

Books read in 2021:

1. Piranesi Susanna Clarke *****
2. Back to Nature: How to Love Life —and Save It Chris Packham & Megan McCubbin ****
3. The Magician’s Nephew C.S. Lewis *****
4. Lolly Willowes Sylvia Townsend Warner ***1/2
5. Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns Kerry Hudson ***
6. Windsor Knot S.J. Bennett **
7. The Inheritors William Golding ****
8. The Goblin Emperor Katherine Addison ****
9. Peace Talks Tim Finch ***1/2
10. The Accidental Ali Smith ***
11. The Pride of Chanur C.J. Cherryh ****
12. Paladin of Souls Lois McMaster Bujold ****
13. The Less Dead Denise Mina **1/2
14. Night Waking Sarah Moss ****1/2
15. The Mermaid of Black Conch ****1/2

Films watched in 2021:

1. Clueless ****
2. When Harry Met Sally ***1/2
3. Bringing Up Baby ****
4. Patrick (Belgium) (Flemish/French) ***1/2
5. Ex Machina ****
6. Hot Fuzz ****
7. You’ve got Mail **1/2
8. News of the World *****
9. Pan’s Labyrinth ****1/2 (Spanish)
10. The Mole Agent **** (Spanish)

Editat: març 22, 3:57pm

Plans for 2021:

I belong to a RL (well, via Zoom these days) book club and we meet monthly (except January & August).

February: The Windsor Knot Sophia Bennett
March: The Accidental Ali Smith
April Night Waking Sarah Moss
May Hamnet Maggie O’Farrell
June Motherwell: A Girlhood Deborah Orr
July Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm Isabella Tree

We will also be reading the Costa novel shortlist over the first couple of months of the year:

Piranesi Susanna Clarke
Peace Talks Tim Finch
The Less Dead Denise Mina

The Mermaid of Black Conch Monique Roffey

feb. 8, 4:55pm

Happy new thread Rhian my dear.

feb. 8, 5:11pm

Happy new thread, Rhian!

feb. 8, 5:31pm

Hi Rhian, I like those two photos of the Kingfishers. The historical and the more recent IRL colour photograph. You must have a lovely, serene town to have a kingfisher resident for the time being.

Your first thread sure whipped by to fullness incredibly fast, didn't it?

feb. 8, 5:33pm

Happy New Thread, Rhian. I am looking forward to seeing what birds you post from your backyard. I am a big fan, of our kingfisher, the Belted Kingfisher, which can be found year round as long as there is a moving water source.

feb. 8, 6:06pm

Hi Rhian. Happy new thread. Your RL book club selections look like they are good ones for the rest of the year.

feb. 8, 6:40pm

Happy new thread!

feb. 8, 6:48pm

Happy new thread, Rhian.

>1 SandDune: We have some kingfishers near. I rarely have a good look at them, most times it is just a blurr of orange and blue flying by very fast.

feb. 8, 8:07pm

Happy new thread!

feb. 8, 10:19pm

Happy new thread Rhian!

>1 SandDune: That reminds me; as I was driving just last week, I saw a flash of turquoise in the bushes which must have been a kingfisher. Unfortunately I couldn’t stop to look properly.

feb. 9, 12:39am

Happy new thread Rhian. I enjoyed reading your list of 5 star books--I think I only quickly skimmed them on your first thread. There are quite a few that are favorites of mine too, including some that I think don't get enough attention, like The Lowland.

And I like the idea of listing movies watched.

Editat: feb. 9, 3:50am

>8 SandyAMcPherson: This is the only photo I could find of where the kingfisher can usually be found, but it is from some years ago. It’s usually found on the railings (now belonging to a restaurant) that can be seen on the right hand of the small river cutting that can be seen in the middle of the picture. And now on the left where the blue hoardings can be seen are further blocks of flats with a Wetherspoons pub underneath. And then immediately behind is a busy road. And it’s also next to the spot where little children feed the ducks. So it’s not that serene! But the kingfisher seems to like it.

>9 msf59: Mark, those who know about this sort of thing say that the kingfishers will move on by the breeding season, but they have been pretty while they have been here and have given some pleasure over a difficult winter. They are both females apparently, so they will need to find some males.

>10 BLBera: Yes there look to be some really good selections there.

>6 johnsimpson: >7 MickyFine: >11 quondame: >13 drneutron: Hi John, Micky, Susan, Jim. Thanks everyone!

feb. 9, 4:01am

>14 humouress: I wonder if it was the same species? I was surprised to find when I looked it up the the common kingfisher has a huge range and is found in large parts of Asia.

>15 AnneDC: I culled a couple of 5 star reads when, in retrospect, the book hadn’t really stayed with me over time. But mainly my view of them has been pretty constant. I’ve started to record films as we have been having a film night once a week during lockdown and watched a wider variety than we would usually, so it seemed nice to keep a record of them.

feb. 9, 8:20am

Happy new thread, Rhian.

Your post >1 SandDune: needs just a little tweak editing wise. xx

feb. 9, 9:00am

Happy new thread, Rhian!

feb. 9, 5:48pm

>18 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul - have corrected it.

>19 katiekrug: Welcome Katie!

feb. 9, 9:35pm

>17 SandDune: It's possible. I've often caught quick glimpses of something that looks a lot like the weaver birds we used to see in Africa.

But I couldn't guess what type of kingfisher it was that I saw that day; all I saw was the distinctive turquoise of its wings as it was flapping into the bushes. I wonder why it was that low to the ground? Usually they're perched up high unless they're flying over water.

feb. 9, 10:04pm

And now - I mean just right now - I saw those turquoise wings glide past.

My study faces the houses across the road and behind them, there's a strip of 'jungle' between us and the expressway where I can see flashes of colour as birds fly through (as well as larger disturbances in the branches as - presumably - monkeys jump around). Unfortunately, my eyesight isn't as good as it once was; this last year especially it's been more fuzzy, what with more time spent playing games on my iPad. I've often though of going for a tromp around there, but the thought of possible snakes puts me off.

feb. 10, 7:14am

>21 humouress: >22 humouress: I’d be more worried about the spiders! I know logically snakes are (in the main) more dangerous, but I haven’t got that automatic fear of them that I have of spiders. With snakes I’m more in the ‘I want to get closer to see the snake’ category!

feb. 10, 7:27am

I have not been doing much reading this last week as I have been finishing my crochet blanket, from the kit that Mr SandDune got me for Christmas. It’s quite a basic pattern, but being as I last crocheted something when I was 10 or 11 and couldn’t remember how to do it at all, I’m actually very pleased with it!

feb. 10, 7:43am

>24 SandDune: that's lovely, Rhian! Is each square crocheted individually and then joined together, or do you work this as one big piece?

feb. 10, 8:29am

>16 SandDune: Thanks so much for the photo. It was a reality check! I had a much more pastoral image in my mind. Funny how the mind does that, almost without reason. Wishful thinking on my part, I expect.

feb. 10, 9:04am

>25 lauralkeet: Each square is crocheted individually and then crocheted together. I found that very therapeutic, as I could easily do one square an evening when watching TV, so there was a continual sense of achievement when I finished each one. I am not sure that I have ever actually made anything crocheted before, although I know that my aunt taught me to do it when I was 10 or 11 or so. And so I think I might have got confused with the pattern if it hadn’t been for YouTube - I don’t recall ever actually reading a crochet pattern before - as I couldn’t visualise what I was supposed to do. And I also got a little confused with the way the pattern had dealt with the difference between U.S. and British terminology. But (with the help of YouTube) I got there in the end. I have some wool left (although the actual pattern is finished) and there might be enough for another row of squares, so I might make it a bit bigger.

Editat: feb. 10, 9:12am

>26 SandyAMcPherson: I had a much more pastoral image in my mind. I wondered if you might be thinking that! That’s why everyone has got so excited about the kingfishers - they really are in the middle of town. Which admittedly is quieter than normal because of COVID but there still are a fair few people about. Our local paper did a whole double spread of kingfisher photos a few weeks ago in its nature section.

And actually thinking about it there are also some canal boats along the river at that spot too, as the river is navigable up to that point.

feb. 10, 9:41am

>27 SandDune: the difference between U.S. and British terminology.
Oh yes, been there. I received a lovely book on Fair Isle knitting as a gift, and it was the UK edition so some of the terminology is different. Most notably, the US term "gauge" means the same as the UK term "tension," and is a measure of the desired stitches per in/cm. In the US, "tension" refers to how loose/tight/even you're knitting in general -- more about appearance than measurement. Fortunately this is not a difficult translation to make, and I even knew to expect it but for some reason the first mention of "tension" confused me for a brief second.


I also wanted to mention my husband is now reading and enjoying Wilding, and it's on my TBR as well. We hope to apply what we learn to our new place.

feb. 10, 9:47am

>24 SandDune: Oh, that's nice! Grandma squares, I'm assuming? I started crocheting a grandma square blanket about 10 years ago but never finished (I realised I'm not a grandma square blanket kind of person) and have recently been working on re-using that yarn to make socks and wrist warmers.

feb. 10, 11:23am

>24 SandDune: That's lovely Rhian. I don't think I've ever crocheted anything.

feb. 10, 11:37am

Hi, Rhian! Love the pictures of the kingfisher and of your handsome blanket - Granny Squares in my neck of the woods! I can crochet - in my young years I made a lace-like tablecloth, also in squares, for my mother. Crocheting hurts my hand though. I never learned to relax as well as I did with knitting.
I also love your lists of 5-star reads. You remind me of many great books that I have on hand, unread. I'm trying!

Editat: feb. 10, 1:50pm

>23 SandDune: Well, when we lived in the UK, I felt similarly because - should I ever have run up against a snake, it was fairly unlikely to be poisonous. I’ve even held a baby python (there were four of us holding him and even though I was just holding a section, he was so heavy; they’re just pure muscle). There’s a small field 5 minutes up the road (large, by Singapore standards) where I’ve taken Jasper for a walk once or twice - until I was told that, especially as we’re near the reservoirs, there was a high likelihood of snakes such as cobras hiding in the grass.

I used to be scared of all spiders until I sat down one day and had a long think about why and now I’m fine with the small money spiders. However, the golden orb spider in Sydney spins large webs and I’m not so keen on them - though I’m a lot less nervous about them since I found out they’re not harmful to people.

>24 SandDune: Very nice. Although I’ll admire it from a distance since I never managed to get to grips with wool crafts. I do have a hook rug around somewhere that needs finishing, however.

feb. 10, 2:08pm

Love the blanket. It's a lovely time of year to be making something warm and comforting like that. Are you tempted to do more?

feb. 10, 2:09pm

>29 lauralkeet: British crochet and U.S. crochet uses completely different terminology, so treble crochet in the U.K. is double crochet in the U.S. which in itself isn’t too bad as long as you know about the difference. But the pattern tried to combine both terminologies on one pattern, and the way they did it was quite confusing, especially for beginners.

I’m glad your husband is enjoying Wilding. Before lockdown I really wanted to go on one of their safaris where they tell you all about the rewilding process, but of course that was never going to happen in 2020, or even 2021 the way things are going.

>30 PawsforThought: >32 LizzieD: They are granny squares here as well. I’ve decided that they are exactly my sort of thing. I’d like to make another granny square blanket now, but with slightly more complicated motifs, now I have got to grips with the basics.

>31 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline!

>33 humouress: I can see what you mean, but I did zoology at University and I’ve always really liked reptiles.

feb. 10, 2:14pm

>34 charl08: I am - I have promised Jacob a blanket for his Uni room. He is a great one for cozy blankets, well, cozy things in general. I was looking at him the other day and thinking that his hair looked different, and trying to work out why it looked different as he couldn’t have had it cut with all the barbers being shut. Then I realised that what was different was that I could actually see his hair, as he virtually always wears some sort of woolly hat, indoors as well as out.

feb. 10, 4:22pm

>35 SandDune: The crochet terminology issue reminds me of the issue with Swedish billions vs. English-speaking billions (and the rest of the world?) - a Swedish billion (biljon) is 1 followed by 12 zeros, not 1 followed by 9 zeros like in English-speaking countries.

Hooray for more grandma square blankets for you! They're fun to make.
And Jacob clearly has good taste if he's fond of cozy things - there are few things better!

feb. 10, 4:28pm

Yesterday was Jacob’s 21st birthday. It obviously wasn’t the birthday he wanted as he couldn’t celebrate with friends, but I think he had a nice time. As well as the obligatory books, we bought him a very large Lego set which should keep him going for the remainder of lockdown. And we ordered a takeaway lunch from our favourite local cafe: pancakes with maple syrup and blueberries for him, smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel for me, and ham and pickle sandwiches for Mr SandDune. And then the obligatory slices of cake (coffee and walnut, carrot, and raspberry pavlova respectively.) And we’d had snow the day before so it was snowy enough for him to meet up with his girlfriend and go sledging. And then Macaroni Cheese (Jamie Oliver’s recipe) for our evening meal, as requested by Jacob. And later on we watched Hot Fuzz, one of his favourite films, which is very silly, but funny.

I was supposed to go for my annual CT scan today for them to look at my lungs, but unfortunately their machine has broken down so I have to go on Saturday instead. The hospital has installed a mobile scanning vehicle in their car park, I assume to reduce the number of people actually going into the hospital, which seems like a good idea. My original appointment was for 6.20pm and because of COVID precautions you had to call them up when you arrived and then wait in your car until they were ready for you. And being as it was forecast to be -5°C tonight (hugely cold for around here - apparently the coldest night for years) I wasn’t altogether looking forward to it. But Saturday is supposed to be a bit warmer, so that will be better.

feb. 10, 4:32pm

>37 PawsforThought: An English billion used to be 1,000,000,000,000 as well and 1,000,000,000 was an American billion. I don’t know when it changed, but we definitely use the 9 zeros version now. To be fair having a word for a thousand million probably seems more useful.

feb. 10, 4:37pm

>39 SandDune: We do have a word for a thousand million - miljard. And that system continues upwards miljon-miljard-biljon-biljard-triljon-triljard-etc. (going up by three zeros each time). Not that they're used much, aside from kids' nonsense rhymes and descriptions of Jeff Bezos.

feb. 10, 4:42pm

>40 PawsforThought: That’s very logical.

feb. 10, 5:25pm

>38 SandDune: Belated birthday wishes to Jacob. You tried to make the best of it, in these unusual time.
Good luck for your scan on Saturday.

>40 PawsforThought: It is the same here.

feb. 10, 8:27pm

Your crocheted blanket turned out beautifully, Rhian. All the squares are so even.

Happy 21st birthday to Jacob.

Good luck with your scan.

feb. 11, 12:40am

Happy 21st birthday Jacob!

feb. 11, 11:41am

Your crochet blanket is beautiful, Rhian. I'm currently doing a corner-to-corner crochet blanket, which I like since there's no joining of squares. However, I will have a bunch of ends to weave in.

Glad to hear the birthday celebrations were enjoyable.

feb. 11, 2:58pm

Happy newish thread, Rhian. Your blanket is impressive. YouTube is such a help, isn't it?

feb. 11, 3:29pm

>42 FAMeulstee: >43 BLBera: >44 humouress: Thanks for the birthday wishes! He had a nice day I think.

>45 MickyFine: I actually preferred the square joining to the end weaving. But those diagonal blankets look nice too.

>46 Familyhistorian: I think YouTube is indispensable. I suppose in the past everyone would have learned this sort of thing from older female relatives. Well, I suppose I did originally, but it was a very long time ago and the particular older female relative who taught me (my Aunty Jennie, my absolutely favourite aunt) has been dead twenty years now.

feb. 13, 12:37pm

Feel good read from yesterday was this article from The Guardian about Scotland’s gritters.

I did know that Scotland gave all their gritters names, and that you could track them all, but had sort of forgotten. Here they all are trundling round the country:

My favourite gritter names:

Lord Coldemort
You’re a Blizzard, Harry
Sweet Child of Brine
Han Snow-Lo

feb. 13, 3:23pm

>48 SandDune: A Fine and Pleasant interlude with Scottish humour.

feb. 13, 4:55pm

8. The Goblin Emperor Katherine Addison ****

Eighteen year old Maia is the youngest son of the Emperor of the Ethuveraz. The child of a political marriage, and ignored since birth by his father, ever since his mother’s death when Maia was eight he has been exiled to the remote hunting lodge of Edonomee, under the guardianship of the harsh and uncaring Setharis. But when the airship Wisdom of Choharo carrying his father and brothers crashes, Maia is left as the heir to the Imperial throne, a position which he neither wants nor is trained for. But there are many other people at the Untheileneise Court who do not want to see Maia as the new Emperor, for Maia is half-goblin, a race who are regarded with suspicion by the pure-bred elves who rule the Ethuveraz.

In Maia we have a genuinely nice main character, who tries throughout to do the right thing. This is a slow burner of a novel, as Maia navigates his way through the politics and intrigues of the Untheilenaise Court, but it’s worth persevering with.

One thing I would have changed about the book is the sheer complexity of the honorifics and naming conventions used. More than once I was left slightly confused at to the identity of a character, only to realise that I had encountered them before, just with a different version of their name. But otherwise a great read.

feb. 13, 6:26pm

>48 SandDune: that's fantastic. The names are funny in and of themselves, but seeing them on a tracker somehow makes it 100% better.

feb. 13, 10:04pm

>38 SandDune: My goodness 21 already! Give him a hug from us.

Hope the scan goes well. x

>39 SandDune: Probably useful in Indonesia where the Rupiah is something like 15,000 to the sterling.

feb. 14, 10:54am

>49 SandyAMcPherson: >51 lauralkeet: They are funny aren’t they? I imagine all these little Scottish children ticking off the different gritters they have seen.

>50 SandDune: Hi Paul, it’s so amazing how quickly they grow isn’t it? Doesn’t seem like yesterday he was a baby!

feb. 14, 12:07pm

This morning we were talking about our top 10 TV drama series. After much deliberation, here are mine:

1. The Sopranos (US)
2. The Wire (US)
3. Battlestar Galactica (US)
4. Borgen (Denmark)
5. The Killing (Denmark)
6. Spiral (France)
7. The Man in the High Castle (US)
8. Gomorrah (Italy)
9. Deadwood (US)
10. Good Omens (U.K.)

Only one British TV programme interestingly. Mr SandDune had MadMen as his number one but si haven’t seen that.

feb. 14, 1:57pm

So much on your LAST thread!

Jo Walton -- Such a wonderful quote! I think another problem is that readers don't make the jump to looking at the consistency within the world the author is building in fantasy -- they keep trying to make it work with our reality (such as it is!)

Time Team -- chuckled at your husband loathing Sir Tony. He is a lot to take -- although I have accepted his enthusiasm as 100% genuine. He's willing to get in a bog and thrash around, whingeing a little, but getting whatever he's been asked to do done.

Maybe I missed the mention here but you know of the movie The Dig with Ralph Fiennes? I just saw a thing about it yesterday and I think we will watch it tonight. Looks wonderful.

Birds - I love the bird count. Right now we have chickadees and more chickadees, but luckily I adore them. Then ravens -- they live on a nearby cliff across the valley (imaginatively named Raven Ridge) so they fly over every day carrying on in Ravenspeak. The occasional somewhat hard to identify hawk (this year we think we have an immature red tail) lurking around trying to be subtle (failing). On a lucky day we'll see an owl (barred usually) or a woodpecker. Our blue jays have been largely absent this winter, but until recently it was so relatively mild and not all that snowy, everyone figures they've been scattered around not using feeders much, but I expect they will return soon and birds from further north will start showing up in the next month. Can't wait.

Vermont is rolling out the vaccines with the usual Vermont style care, building the framework, ramping up slowly. I expect that by the end of April, the vaccines will be open to everyone who wants one. I hope to be in the next batch (over 65 but not 70!) in the next couple of weeks.

Your blanket looks wonderful! Our cats are mad for the crochet blankets, who knows why.

I'm glad you liked The Goblin Emperor too -- I have that waiting in the wings.

Sorry this is so long, had a lot of catching up to do.

feb. 14, 2:22pm

>55 sibylline: Funnily after thinking about our top TV dramas we moved on to looking at what we did want to watch next, and The Dig was on that list. Sutton Hoo is not too far from here, maybe 1 1/2 hours drive, and I’ve been there several times. All the real gold stuff is in the British Museum but they’ve got an interesting museum there with replicas, and you can walk around all the burial mounds. Two other things that we want to watch are The West Wing, which I have never seen (and which I couldn’t bear to even consider watching when Trump was in the White House) and Our Friends in the North, which is a U.K. drama from 1996 which The Guardian rates number 3 on its all time list (at least they did back in 2010 when they published the list).

We don’t get ravens, although they have been seen locally. We are right on the eastern border of where they are found in England, although they are expanding their range eastwards. I would so like to have a woodpecker visit the garden. My friend who lives 5 minutes walk away gets woodpeckers in her garden, so I don’t see why we shouldn’t get one. Our trees aren’t any smaller than her trees! I have seen a sparrowhawk in the garden, and a kestrel (I think), as well as a red kite flying over head. When I was growing up red kites were so rare, that I still find it amazing that I can see one over my suburban garden.

From tomorrow we are now vaccinating the 65-70 age groups apparently, and the vaccination process is proceeding at pace. Best of luck with getting your vaccine.

feb. 14, 2:48pm

Today we went to Hatfield Forest for a dog walk. It’s about as far as I feel comfortable going with the current lockdown arrangements, and we would be going there more often but parking (restricted because of lockdown) has to be booked in advance, and it’s very difficult to get a car parking space at the moment. It’s an old medieval hunting forest consisting of wooded areas and more open rides. Usually we keep Daisy on the lead in the more wooded areas, as if she gets one sniff of deer she’s off, but we’ve always thought the more open rides were safe enough, as usually the deer avoid them when people are around. But we had a lucky escape today. We’d come out of a wood into the widest ride, and both me and Mr SandDune were just thinking that we could let Daisy off the lead, when three fallow deer crossed the open space just in front of us. If she’d have been off the lead she’d have been after them like a shot and it would have been ages before we’d have retrieved her.

It was a perfect day for a walk. It’s been very cold here for the last week or so, and everything has frozen up, but this morning it was just fractionally warmer, but not warm enough to melt the ice. It’s supposed to be considerably warmer next week, so in a day or two the paths will be like a quagmire again (it’s been a very wet winter), but this morning was just right.

The smaller lake at the forest was completely frozen over, which doesn’t happen very often here (although it’s not altogether clear from this photo):

And we found a very prolific mistletoe tree:

feb. 14, 4:48pm

Looks like a lovely walk, Rhian, and I can imagine your relief after the close call with Daisy. We enjoyed The Dig and I hope you do as well.

feb. 14, 8:28pm

>57 SandDune: I didn't know there was such a thing as a Mistletoe tree....lovely!

feb. 14, 8:38pm

>54 SandDune: Yikes, I must have a think about that one! Problem is it will probably be skewed by recent viewing. Some old classic series do deserve a mention though:

Boys from the Blackstuff
Auf Wiedersehn, Pet
The Onedin Line
The Brothers

being some older British series that are still memorable to me.

Of new series, I would have to include Ertugrul : Resurrection, Money Heist and Ozark as three Netflix series I adore.

Sharpe and
Outlander make up my initial ten. Embarrassed secret : I haven't seen The Sopranos.

Editat: feb. 15, 4:42am

>58 lauralkeet: Usually Daisy is pretty well behaved and her recall is reasonable, but she has got a bit of a thing about deer. And there are around 150 fallow deer in Hatfield forest as well as even more muntjac deer, which is enough for her to often pick up their scent. You never see them in herds though, like you do in Richmond Park or somewhere like that, you tend to get fleeting glimpses as they pass from one piece of woodland to another. So she has to stay on the lead. There are also frequently cows, but she finds cows quite scary, so doesn’t bother them.

>59 Whisper1:. It isn’t really a ‘mistletoe tree’ just a random tree with a lot of mistletoe on it. But there was so much it looked to have taken over the whole tree.

>60 PaulCranswick: Very few of my choices were British, and I think one reason is that British TV series these days are much shorter and so it’s difficult to get much character development. One of the best things I’ve seen recently was A Very English Scandal, but that was only 3 episodes, so doesn’t quite fit in the same category. A lot of the British series that The Guardian had on its list were from the 1980’s and 90’s. Things like Smiley’s People, The Singing Detective and Boys from the Blackstuff, but I don’t remember them well enough to put them on my list now.

Here’s The Guardian’s original list from 2010:

And their newer list for the 21st Century:

We’ve only recently watched The Sopranos, but it is worth it

feb. 15, 5:16am

>56 SandDune: Our Friends in the North was great. I can still remember some of the scenes after all these years.

feb. 15, 5:31am

>50 SandDune: Hmm. I'll think about it.

>56 SandDune: You'll have to take it up with the woodpeckers, Rhian ;0)

Editat: feb. 15, 7:22am

>61 SandDune: I enjoyed looking through The Guardian's 21st Century list. There's something for everyone there, it seems. Of the British series on that list, there are several we liked, and many we haven't seen. Have you seen The Detectorists? We really enjoyed that one.

feb. 15, 10:32am

>57 SandDune: Your walk sounds great, Rhian. I haven't seen many of the series on your list. I thought Good Omens was hilarious. Sheen and Tennant were so good together.

feb. 15, 2:36pm

>62 calm: We ordered the DVD which arrived today, so I think that will be our next box set.

>63 humouress: I’ve bought a suet pellet feeder for the woodpeckers, which they are supposed to really like, but so far it’s all been eaten by the starlings.

>64 lauralkeet: Oh, Detectorists is very good isn’t it? Such a nice gentle programme. Apparently, it has fuelled a boom in metal detectorists around the country:

If you liked that I wonder if you’d also like The Trip, if you haven’t seen it already. Basically, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon driving around eating very nice food, but possibly the same sort of feel to it.

feb. 15, 2:44pm

Oh yes, we loved all three Trip movies, Rhian. We loved Coogan as Alan Partridge but weren't familiar with Brydon (I know you're thinking really? you haven't watched Gavin & Stacy? No, we haven't!) Anyway, if you like The Trip's style of middle-aged male banter, may I recommend Stages with David Tennant and Michael Sheen?

feb. 16, 3:39am

>67 lauralkeet: Rob Brydon went to the same school as me, as did Ruth Jones (also of Gavin & Stacey fame - but as you’ve never seen it you probably won’t know who I’m talking about). But they were both a few years younger than me so I have no recollection of them at all.

feb. 16, 7:38am

>68 SandDune: It's interesting that you have a Brydon connection, Rhian. He's recently done a series of actor interviews that are available on YouTube, essentially informal chats over Zoom. They talk about how they met, whether or when they worked together, and so on. There's one with Ruth Jones, although we haven't watched it. But he mentions Gavin & Stacey a lot, and it's clear it was a meaningful, formative experience for him.

feb. 16, 8:00am

>68 SandDune: Oh, that's very cool, Rhian! I'll have to tell Tomm: he loves Gavin & Stacy and is a *huge* Rob Brydon fan.

feb. 16, 9:39am

Hi Rhian, and a belated happy new thread.

>1 SandDune: Kingfishers are fascinating birds. Excellent choice.

>2 SandDune: Ah, a list. I’ve read 14 of them.

>24 SandDune: I admire people who crochet, knit, embroider, and sew. This looks lovely.

>36 SandDune: That’s a great story about being able to see Jacob’s hair. My daughter is rarely seen outside her apartment without a beanie, especially now that she hasn’t had a haircut since last March.

>38 SandDune: Belated Happy Birthday to Jacob. Yes, they do grow up quickly. My daughter is 27. Unbelievable.

>48 SandDune: Hadn’t heard the word gritters. I don’t know what they’re called here in the US. I love the gritter names.

>57 SandDune: Lovely pics, especially the mistletoe tree. Most mistletoe perches in really tall trees here – I was once given a Christmas gift with a sprig of Mistletoe on it that had been shot out of the tree by the woman’s husband. Glad you had Daisy on the lead.

>66 SandDune: I have a suet feeder that uses a block of suet, about 5” x 5” x 1”. I’ve never heard of a suet pellet feeder before. Sorry that the starlings are gobbling all the pellets.

feb. 16, 11:47am

>69 lauralkeet: I will look out for that Rob Brydon & Ruth Jones talk. They are the same age so I’m pretty sure that they met at school.

>70 scaifea: I have to confess - I’ve never actually seen Gavin & Stacey all the way through. I’ve seen bits of it, enough to know who everyone is, but not all of it.

>71 karenmarie: Well, I haven’t done much knitting or crocheting up to this point in my life, but I do want to amend that. I used to love making things when I was a child and even older teenager, but I sort of got out of the habit.

I think gritters are actually snow ploughs as well, but as most of the time there is not much snow then gritting is their main function in life, so ‘gritters’.

I have one of those suet block feeders too but I think suet pellet feeders are quite common here. At least, the small pet shop that is within walking distance had no problem in supplying one from their shelves when I went to buy it the other day. It felt quite exciting to be going shopping! Strictly speaking, as I am shielding I am not supposed to go shopping, but as the pet shop is serving people from the doorstep it didn’t seem that risky. And the COVID numbers are really going down here as well.

Editat: feb. 16, 12:27pm

>71 karenmarie:, >72 SandDune: Rhian, your "grit" is an actual gritty dirt, correct? Here they use salt on the roads so our "gritters" are usually called "salt trucks".

ETA: we've been following the UK's Covid numbers. They paint an encouraging picture of what happens when you start to vaccinate in large numbers.

Editat: feb. 17, 11:26am

>73 lauralkeet: your "grit" is an actual gritty dirt,
Actually it’s rock salt, but we just always say ‘gritting’ not ‘salting’.

I’ve haven’t had much good to say about the government at all in the COVID crisis, but actually the vaccination effort seems to be very well organised at the moment. We don’t have to do any of this chasing around for appointments that you seem to have to do in the U.S. (when it’s your turn they just contact you) and the vaccine centres are pretty local now as well.

feb. 17, 1:14pm

Hi, Rhian.

Congrats on Jacob turning 21. We started letting go of ours when they went off to USA college, but 21 was a biggie for both of them. Our 30 year old son loves Legos, too, particularly Star Wars. What was the large set you gave Jacob?

Debbi and I still need to get to Wales. We're hoping to be back in London in the fall, if the pandemic environment permits it.

feb. 17, 4:52pm

>24 SandDune: How beautiful. I've one on my reading couch. During winter it's quite handy.

feb. 17, 8:52pm

>74 SandDune: thanks for correcting my misconception, Rhian!

feb. 19, 11:58am

>75 jnwelch: As Jacob had problems in his final year at school, he didn’t get off to Uni as soon as he would have done otherwise. So he’s really only be away for a few months so far. I’m hoping he’ll be able to get back to Uni after Easter.

>76 Ameise1: Thanks - I’m so glad that I’ve finished it. I’m so bad at starting and then not finishing things.

>77 lauralkeet: That’s OK!

We had complete proof yesterday that Daisy is completely useless as a guard dog. We have a vegetable box delivered weekly and the delivery guy puts it through our side gate (since there is virtually always someone in the house these days we have got out of the habit of locking the side gate as we used to. So he arrived yesterday when Daisy was in the garden. So did she bark or otherwise indicate that there was a strange man in the garden who I am pretty sure that she has never seen before? No she did not. When I went outside (as I’d heard the van pull up outside) she was busy licking the delivery driver as if her life depended on it.

feb. 19, 12:50pm

>78 SandDune: Ha, funny Daisy. Maybe she feels as deprived of the variety of new and interesting people as the rest of us do Rhian.

feb. 19, 3:03pm

>78 SandDune: Same here, Re- Daisy and the veg delivery.
We always said our Springer Spaniel would welcome strangers and be sure to show them around so they could find the silverware and the teapot cache of grocery money. Yup.

feb. 19, 3:28pm

>78 SandDune: Ha, sounds similar to my kitty who is useless as "guard cat" (his only official title is mouser, and he's terrible at that too, but that's because of old age, he's always been terrible at keeping watch). He hugs every human he comes into contact with - including the vet!

feb. 19, 4:58pm

>79 Caroline_McElwee: >80 SandyAMcPherson: >81 PawsforThought: Daisy does miss people coming in the house. She is always very keen to welcome any delivery people, and there are quite a few of those at the moment.

feb. 19, 6:21pm

>78 SandDune: Aww Daisy, you made a new friend! That's very sweet that is, as long as you don't need her to be a guard dog.

feb. 20, 12:50am

>78 SandDune: Daisy must be related to Jasper. Does she have any golden retriever in her? Mind you, Jasper barks and barks when the boys come home. Or if we open the main gate and walk out (usually we drive).

>80 SandyAMcPherson: That's pretty much exactly what the book on golden retrievers says!

feb. 20, 2:47am

>78 SandDune: I love Daisy's attitude.
Happy weekend, Rhiane.

feb. 20, 10:02am

>78 SandDune: Maybe she should just get credit for discernment, Rhian. Come on, somebody delivering food should be licked rather than growled at!

Editat: feb. 20, 11:47am

9. Peace Talks Tim Finch ****

Peace talks between two unnamed Middle Eastern factions are being held in a hotel in the Austrian Tyrol, chaired by Edvard Behrends, a senior diplomat who has chaired many such talks before. Even the smallest details are important, and to get them wrong can set the negotiations back for days. Hours are lost arguing over the exact position of the blinds in the conference room, which governs the exact amount of light the photograph of the atrocity currently being displayed on the video screens should receive. The choice of Turkish delight as mid-table snacks, however, is an unexpected success, albeit temporary:
Which brings me to the Turkish delight. When I first saw the little bowls of it in the middle of tables, alongside the hotel-branded bottles of still and sparkling mineral water, I thought it smacked of the worst kind of Western condescension, of the worse kind of stereotyping. Why not the usual mint imperials? I thought (though they have problematic connotations of their own, I suppose). I was wrong about the Turkish delight, however: both delegations seem to have been very pleased with it, not just taking handfuls of the sweets themselves, but offering them around - at one particularly promising moment, to each other.

Sadly, the deployment of Turkish delight as a peace token was short-lived. I forget exactly what went wrong, but something was said, offence was taken, and the sharing stopped. Still, both sides continue to enjoy the Turkish delight in common - and that is something.

But while the peace talks are engaging the foreground, in the background Edvard is grieving for his recently dead wife. And as month follows month, and the negotiations grind slowly on, it is Edvard’s grief that slowly comes more and more to the fore, as more and more details of Edvard’s life (and his wife’s death) are revealed to the reader.

Effectively a monologue of Edvard’s internal conversations with his wife, this is a beautifully written consideration of one man’s grief at losing his life’s partner.

feb. 20, 12:01pm

>83 lauralkeet: >84 humouress: >85 Ameise1: >86 PaulCranswick: Hi Laura, Nina, Barbara, Paul. Daisy hardly ever barks. Maybe one bark once a month. I don’t think she’s ever produced any sustained barking in her entire life. I think the only way that Daisy possibly fulfils any function of a guard dog is that she sits on the back of one of the sofas quite often, and looks out of the window, so she can be seen from the road. And she’s a fairly powerful dog (for her size) and not very fluffy looking. So any potential burglars might see her (and not knowing her disposition) decide to burgle elsewhere. And apparently most burglaries are opportunistic.

Apparently at the moment burglary figures are way down because people just aren’t going out and houses aren’t empty.

feb. 21, 3:51am

Last two lockdown films:

- ‘You’ve Got Mail’ (1998) starring Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan. None of us were taken with this one (I mean they close down a bookshop for goodness sake) and the Tom Hanks character is really not a nice person and in fact downright creepy. I thought I’d seen this before, but I was getting it mixed up with ‘Sleepless in Seattle’.

- ‘News of the World’ (2020) with Tom Hanks and Helena Zengel. We all loved this one and Helena Zengel was wonderful, especially considering her age. Jacob said he’d seen her in a German film recently in which she was also very good. Actually Tom Hanks was wonderful in it too, but he’s had more practice!

feb. 26, 9:49am

Loving everything on your thread today! Adding things to the list of possible shows to watch. We're finishing up Strike and then who knows what we'll take on next. Whenever we finish a series we like we flounder around for a bit. The worst is that there are more than a few series that we liked very much that we've lost track of, new seasons have come out, but we've swept on.

We have kingfishers down by our small river and they come up here to the pond about once a week to terrify the frog population. We have terrific frogs, healthy populations of many kinds that rotate all summer long starting with the quiet quackling of the wood frogs and ending with the great basso bullfrogs.

When I took up knitting this time (as opposed to one or two other times when younger) I got a book of patterns and took all the yarns I had acquired and kept from those other efforts. I'd inherited some needles from my mother-in-law and I just sat down and spent months figuring out how to follow the directions. Some were too hard! Very frustrating. It's been slow, but this time I too am actually finishing things -- often I have to undo a lot to redo and that is something I am coming to love about knitting, you totally can redo just about anything, make it fit better or whatever.

feb. 26, 1:10pm

>90 sibylline: We are always starting things and not finishing them as well, just because we sort of lose track of what we are watching rather than we don’t like the programme. ‘Ozark’ and ‘Mrs America’ come to mind recently. I haven’t seen ‘Strike’ as yet.

We don’t have frogs, but then we are quite a long way from any natural watercourse. If we stayed in this house rather than moved, I’d transfer our brick pond into more of a wildlife pond, so maybe we would have frogs then. And definitely no kingfishers, although when the pond had fish in it we did have a heron looking to do a little fishing occasionally.

I think on and off I have done various bits of knitting and embroidery (although not crochet until this year). I certainly seem to have a large selection of knitting needles. It’s a mystery to me why I have three circular knitting needles - can’t remember ever using any of them! And I’m not really sure why I haven’t spent more time doing crafts in the past. I suppose when I was working in the City the job was quite demanding and I frequently got home late so not much time for hobbies, particularly when Jacob was small. And although I’ve had a less pressured job for the last 10 years I’ve spent some of that additional spare time doing my OU degree. And because Mr SandDune (as a teacher) has so much more holiday than me, we’ve usually been away when I’ve had holidays from work, rather than spending time at home. I’m something of a perfectionist when it comes to making things, so what really works for me is the time to learn to do something properly, rather then just dipping in and out of something. So hopefully I will have the time to do that now.

feb. 26, 8:43pm

I, too, like the craftiness of my new hobby, cross-stitching.

feb. 28, 10:02am

Adding that I saw a bluebird the other day -- near the Lake (Champlain) and so in an environment maybe a week less wintery than ours which is considerably higher up. (Always amazes me in the spring that the apple trees, forsythia, really, are in bloom already when I go into town!) Really surprised me as I thought all the bluebirds migrated considerably further south, but maybe someone there has a great set of feeders and this bluebird is a tough Canadian!

feb. 28, 10:53am

Peace Talks sounds good, Rhian. I'll look for a copy.

I also was not a fan of "You've Got Mail." How could Meg Ryan love a man who was responsible for closing her bookstore? That was beyond my powers of disbelief.

I would have liked "News of the World" more if I hadn't just read the book. The book is always better. Still, I agree that the young actress is amazing, and I loved the cinematography as well.

març 2, 3:37am

>92 The_Hibernator: I think all these crafty type hobbies are inherently relaxing.

>93 sibylline: I’ve only seen a picture of a bluebird: they look so pretty. It’s getting to be quite spring like here. After our cold snap a couple of weeks ago, it got quite warm for a few days but has now cooled down again, although not as cold as before. But things are starting to bud and all the birds are flying about with twigs for their nests, so the end is in sight. And it is not so muddy here as before, so it’s easier to get out into the countryside: the sheer amount of mud that we seemed to have was quite depressing.

>94 BLBera: Yes I assumed until very near the end that a way would be found to save the bookshop. But no - and that put the Tom Hanks character beyond the pale, as far as I was concerned.

març 2, 1:45pm

>89 SandDune: I barely watched a film during our lockdown (of April 2020) due to kids, work and stressy feelings of cabin fever...but I am making up for it now. I have seen so many great films lately. I recently went through a 90s thriller phase (which meandered into the 2000s) and saw The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Single White Female, One Hour Photo, Panic Room....all so good!

març 3, 8:30pm

I decided to go super-old Old School with the Zoomvie my Young Gentleman Caller and I watched last night: Phantom of 42nd Street, a super-low-budget programmer from 1945. After some ritual "oh, did you go see this in the theater?" and "were there real, actual sound movies when you were a boy?" nonsense, we agreed it was pretty fun but lacked an ending.

Which is *still* my primary complaint about most films.

Splendid Thursday wishes!

març 4, 11:05am

That whippersnapper YGC. ;)

I love a good black-and-white every once in a while. I think the next time I'm in the mood for one, I'll introduce Mr. Fine to His Girl Friday.

març 5, 12:46pm

>97 richardderus:, >98 MickyFine: I like old B&W's, too.

A slightly more recent (2013) B & W that I thought really amusing, and so well done, was Nebraska.
Well worth watching, and it does (IMHO) have an ending.

I'd love to know what you think. It has a slow start, but stick with it. The cast were all people I hadn't heard of (I'm notorious for not knowing actor's names anyway) but totally excellent in their roles.

Maybe you've seen it already... we waited for the DVD to be at the public library, so it was some 2 or 3 years before we saw it after the release.

març 8, 11:55am

>96 LovingLit: >97 richardderus: >98 MickyFine: >99 SandyAMcPherson: Sorry everyone, a bit late in replying!

>96 LovingLit: I don’t think I’ve seen any of those. Thrillers aren’t usually my thing, at least I think they’re not, but when I see a good one I usually enjoy it.

>97 richardderus: We get that a lot from Jacob: our younger years are definitely the ‘olden days’ to him.

>97 richardderus: >98 MickyFine: I am in a bit of a black and white film phase at the moment. Bringing up Baby was my choice. I’ve never seen His Girl Friday, so that might be one to add to the list.

>99 SandyAMcPherson: Nebraska sounds like the sort of thing we would like - I have added it to my list.

This week’s film was Pan’s Labyrinth, which I have seen before a long time ago, but it’s good enough to warrant watching again. Mr SandDune has just started doing an Introduction to film course, so I expect we will be watching all sorts of obscure things in the future, and Jacob is working his way through every film produced by the German film industry as far as I can tell. My next choice will probably be In the Loop directed by Armando Iannucci, as I have really enjoyed the last two films of his that I have seen (Death of Stalin & David Copperfield).

març 8, 11:56am

I loved Pan's Labyrinth, though I, too, have not seen it for years.

març 8, 12:11pm

I'm enjoying the movie talk, Rhian. I love 'Bringing Up Baby' and 'His Girl Friday' is also fun. I had not heard of 'In the Loop' but I looked it up and it sounds great, so that's going on my list. I also loved 'Death of Stalin' and want to see 'David Copperfield.'

març 8, 4:36pm

>101 The_Hibernator: I had forgotten that Pan’s Labyrinth was quite gruesome in places (I’m not very good with on-screen violence) but it is very good.

>102 katiekrug: I think David Copperfield was the last thing that we saw at the cinema, at the beginning of last year. We had tickets to see Parasite in mid-March but we ended up cancelling those as didn’t feel comfortable in a crowd. We’ve seen that one since on the TV.

març 8, 5:15pm

We have been celebrating Mr SandDune’s 60th birthday, which was last Friday. Strange birthday celebrations of course, but we had a Thai takeaway and watched our film and had a nice time anyway. Funnily enough, the last time we went out for a meal inside was Mr SandDune’s birthday last year, although we ate out outside a few times over the summer. He has started back teaching face to face today, which is a little unnerving, but he was looking forward to it as he’s not someone who copes well without social contact. The COVID rates here are much lower than they were before Christmas when he was last in the classroom, so hopefully everything will be OK. He has also now been called up for his COVID jab which he will have on Friday, as they are now vaccinating everyone above 55.

We took Daisy to the vet last week as she has had a couple of recurrent stomach upsets since Christmas and has been off her food on a few occasions, which is not like her, and then had a fairly drastic vomiting session last week. The vet has done their normal blood tests and also more specialised ones that have to be sent away, and everything has come back fine. So we have to do the poo sample tests now (not looking forward to that) although I am leaving it for a few days as she amused herself this morning by eating one of the fat balls from the bird feeder and I think that might have an effect on its digestion on its own!

març 8, 5:26pm

Finished three books:

The Accidental Ali Smith - usually like Ali Smith but not 100% sure about this one.

The Pride of Chanur C.J. Cherryh - really enjoyed this but need to make a mental note to self not to listen to C.J. Cherryh on audio. I made the same mistake with her Foreigner books.

Paladin of Souls Lois McMaster Bujold - sequel to Curse of Chalion. Enjoyed this a lot as well.

Full reviews to follow.

març 8, 6:19pm

>104 SandDune: Happy birthday Mr Sandune.

Sorry to hear Daisy is under par Rhian.

I really liked Pans Labyrinth too.

març 8, 7:12pm

Happy birthday to your guys (since I've visited they've both celebrated). I was struck by your comment about J's lego set lasting him through the lockdown. I sure hope so - sometimes I feel like it will never end, though there are hopeful signs. I love your crochet blanket. Since I started teaching (and in school to earn master's before that) I have not knit a single stitch and both girls have become excellent knitters. I miss it. We never did buy a blanket for Marina's bed at university. Maybe I should make one?

Hope Daisy feels better very soon.

Editat: març 9, 4:36pm

>104 SandDune: Is Daisy still on medicines for her arthritis?
NSAIDs can give stomach problems. With our dogs I have used Rimadyl and Metacam, and both I had to pause once in a while to prevent stomach problems.
Oh, fatballs for the birds, Chimay loved them, I always thought the magpies dropped those in our garden on purpose.

Editat: març 10, 10:43am

10. The Accidental Ali Smith ***

Astrid Smart is bored. She has been dragged out of school by her parents for a so-called ‘holiday’ in Norfolk, but in reality a break from London to allow her mother to finish her latest book. Her step-father, an academic, is more interested in popping back to London so he can seduce his latest student fling than in anything Astrid is doing. And her elder brother Magnus has not spoken to anyone for weeks and will hardly come out of his room. So Astrid is surprised when she comes downstairs one morning to discover a stranger lying on their sofa. At first her father thinks that her mother has invited the stranger, while her mother assumes the opposite, and by the time the family realise that the woman, Amber, has been invited by no one she has become strangely entangled with each member of the family.

I usually like Ali Smith but I struggled a little with this one. Divided into three sections (the beginning, the middle and the end) each section is subdivided into the story from the point of view of the four members of the Smart family. This device works well and emphasises the somewhat dysfunctional nature of the family relationships. But the sections are separated by fragments of what sometimes seems to Amber’s story and sometimes Amber reimagining her life as cinema...

‘But my father was Alfie, my mother Isadora. I was unnaturally psychic in my teens, I made a boy fall off his bike and I burned down a whole school. My mother was crazy, she was in love with God. There I was at the altar about to marry someone else when my boyfriend hammered on the church glass at the back and we eloped together on a bus. My mother was furious. She’d slept with him too.The devil got me pregnant and a satanic sect made me go through with it. Then I fell in with a couple of outlaws and did me some talking to the sun.’

It’s quite fun to spot the film, but I have no idea how those sections relate to the rest of the book, or what they mean. And I found reading a book where the beginning and end seem to have no link to the rest of it oddly unsatisfactory...

Editat: març 10, 10:14am

11. The Pride of Chanur C. J. Cherryh****

A strange creature is skulking around the loading bays of Meetpoint station, a creature that none of the intelligent species making up the Compact had ever seen before ...

‘There had been something loose about the station dock all morning, skulking in amongst the gantries and the lines and the canisters which were waiting to be moved, lurking wherever shadows fell among the rampway accesses of the many ships at dock at Meetpoint. It was pale, naked, starved-looking in what fleeting glimpse anyone on The Pride of Chanur had had of it. Evidently nobody had reported it to station authorities, nor did The Pride’

The Hani, a leonine species who operate the spaceship The Pride of Chanur are inclined to ignore the creature until it finds a way aboard their ship, when a decision by the Hani captain, Pyanfar Chanur, has far reaching consequences for her people. For the creature has escaped from the Kif, who may be members of the Compact, but are always trouble, and they want him back...

This is a human alien encounter told very much from the point of view of the aliens, and more interesting for it. In fact there is a complex web of alien species in The Pride of Chanur, which adds a level of complexity requiring the reader to concentrate. Not the first time in reading a C.J.Cherryh novel, I realised halfway through that audio was probably not the best format! It would have been much easier to refer back to remind myself which species was which if I’d had a hard copy. That proviso aside, this was really enjoyable, and I’m certainly going to carry on with the series. I’m just going to buy the paperback copies first.

Editat: març 10, 10:41am

>106 Caroline_McElwee: Well to be honest most of the time she’s fine. Mostly she’s very energetic and greedy - she could eat for Britain usually! It’s just she’s had a few sessions of not wanting her food, culminating in her major vomiting session the week before last. And to be blunt another unfortunate side-effect is that she has been very, very farty, which is driving Mr SandDune to distraction.

>108 FAMeulstee: Daisy is on Metacam as well as Gabapentin and YuMove tablets. The vet has considered whether the medication is upsetting her stomach and we did try something else for a while. But all her medication is doing her a lot of good as regards her movement. This time last year she struggled to jump into the car after a long walk, these days she’s much more agile.

>107 AMQS: All the wool that I’ve ordered for Jacob’s blanket has arrived and in retrospect I think I might have bought too much. There seems an awful lot of it - much more than I had for my blanket! It seems like Jacob might be going back to Uni after Easter now, I’m not sure that it’ll be ready by then but we’ll see.

març 10, 11:55am

12. The Paladin of Souls Lois McMaster Bujold ****

Following the death of her mother, the forceful Provincara of Baocia, the widowed Royina Ista feels imprisoned and stifled amongst the protocols and traditions of the Castle of Valenda. Tentatively, she proposes that she might go on pilgrimage, suggesting that she wishes to pray for the safe delivery of a grandson. In reality, she has no desire to pray for anything at all, having had enough of gods to last a lifetime, but it gives an excuse to get away from everything. Or at least that’s what she hopes: her household have other plans:

“I suppose,” dy Ferrej said, staring into the middle distance with the chancellor’s note still in his hand, “we could write to your brother dy Baocia in Taryoon for a detachment of his provincial cavalry, in addition. And ladies of his household, to wait upon you in full panoply. Your good sister-in-law, perhaps—or some of your nieces may be old enough . . . ladies of his court, and your own attendants, of course, and all the necessary maids and grooms. And we must send down to the temple for a suitable spiritual conductor. No, better—we should write to Cardegoss and ask Archdivine Mendenal to recommend a divine of high scholarship.”

Eventually, Ista does get the more simple pilgrimage that she wants, travelling incognito with a much reduced entourage. But their party is soon disrupted when they encounter a hostile Roknari force, soldiers from the northern princedom of Jokona. There are frequent skirmishes of the border of Chalion and Jokona, but a party of Jokonan so far from the border is unprecedented in recent years. And at Castle Porifors, which guards the marches between Chalion and Jokona, even stranger things are happening. Ista discovers that she may have finished with the gods, but the gods have not finished with her.

A sequel to The Curse of Chalion although the main characters of that book only appear off page here. The world of Chalion that Lois McMaster Bujold has constructed is very appealing, and in Ista it’s nice to have a older woman as a protagonist in a fantasy novel. (Well, in reality I don’t think Ista is much over forty, but in the medieval world of Chalion, forty is definitely over the hill). Recommended.

març 10, 4:11pm

Hi Rhian! Per >99 SandyAMcPherson:, Nebraska is a delightful film, and being one of Bruce Dern's very best projects makes it extra fun. He's been working for SIXTY YEARS! That means he's had his ups and downs, but as he's 85ish, I am all for late work being good work.

A hearty shove towards His Girl Friday, a darn-near perfect caper. Slamming doors, shouting exes, actual danger, a simply hilarious performance by Rosalind Russell.

And three very tasty reviews! Luckily for me I've read the two best ones, and have no interest in the Ali Smith because How to be Both was a *major* disappointment, Autumn was a DNF, and I think that's enough chances.

Editat: març 10, 4:48pm

>113 richardderus: I’ve added My Girl Friday to our film list - my family need a bit of persausion for the old ones at times so I need to pick my moments. And Nebraska is my pick for next week assuming I can find it streaming somewhere.

We were reading The Accidental for my RL book club and the definite opinion of the group was with you. Most people hated it. I really liked some parts of it but overall it didn’t add up to a satisfactory whole. I have to confess to enjoying How to be Both and Autumn though.

C.J. Cherryh and Lois McMaster Bujold are two of my favourite authors, and both are suprisingly difficult to get hold of in the UK. Lois McMaster Bujold is available on kindle, but getting a paperback copy is more difficult, and most of C. J. Cherryh’s work isn’t available on kindle, and the availabity of paperbacks can be a bit iffy as well. I’ve never understood why.

març 10, 5:20pm

>114 SandDune: Cherryh's catalog is *vast* so many times it is down to what part of her career a given work was made in, who's controlling those rights, and what licenses need to expire before she does the book herself.

Bujold's working with HarperCollins on the Chalion books, so those *should* be readily available. Are they not, or are other titles of hers hard to come by in Blighty?

març 10, 5:38pm

>115 richardderus: I’ve been buying the Chalion books on kindle and they’re readily available there. But I was trying to buy The Curse of Chalion in paperback for Jacob for Christmas and I did get it in the end, but I remember I had to search around a bit. I’ve just checked on now and they only have it from a third party seller at £15.36 which is extortionately expensive for a paperback.

març 11, 9:10am

The pride of Chanur was the first of C.J. Cherryh's books I read and I loved it. I think that's still my favourite series by her. I haven't got on nearly so well with the Alliance-Union books. I have the two Chanur omnibus editions from DAW which were relatively inexpensive.

>116 SandDune: Wow! Curse of Chalion is an amazing book but that price is ridiculous.

març 12, 3:08am

>117 Sakerfalcon: I haven’t read any of the Alliance-Union books but I have read some of the Foreigner ones, which I enjoyed a lot.

I’ve bought the Chanur omnibus editions as well - I don’t particularly like omnibus editions (too bulky usually) hence why I went for the Audible version.

març 12, 4:45am

>89 SandDune: Way back up there.....I also recently watched News of the World and I loved it.

Bujold and Cherryh are two authors who I do hope to read for the first time this year.

març 12, 5:31pm

>119 PaulCranswick: Bujold (especially the Vorkosigan saga) is probably more fun, especially when it comes to the books about Miles Vorkosigan. Cherry needs more concentration. But both worthwhile.

Our Friday film this week was The Mole Agent, a Chilean quasi- documentary about an 80 year old ‘mole’ hired by a private investigator to check that one of the residents of an old people’s home was being properly cared for. For a film in which very little happens at all it was surprisingly gripping.

Mr SandDune now has vaccine side effects and so has retired to bed early.

març 12, 8:18pm

>120 SandDune: Oh dear! I send my empathetic sympathy to Mr SandDune.

març 13, 7:30am

>120 SandDune: I heard about The Mole Agent recently, was interested, and then promptly forgot about it. It's now on my list for the next time we're casting about for ideas.

I hope Mr SandDune is feeling better today.

març 14, 3:04am

>120 SandDune: Hope MrSandDune is now a-OK.

març 14, 5:35pm

>121 richardderus: >122 lauralkeet: >123 PaulCranswick: He was feeling pretty rough yesterday and spent quite a bit of it in bed, but he’s been much better today. Thanks for asking. I think it took him a bit by surprise as I had no side-effects when I had mine apart from a sore arm. But he had Astra-Zeneca and I had Pfizer ...

>122 lauralkeet: It was quite a ‘nice’ film, if slightly odd.

març 15, 5:01am

Glad Mr Sandune is on the mend. I had AZ. I was ok on the day, but hugely fatigued and with a sore arm the following day.

Editat: març 19, 9:53am

As a devoted (obsessed?) fan of both Cherryh and Bujold, so happy to hear you like them very much too. I just finished Foreigner 21 and it's a little devastating to know there will be a long long wait to find out WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!!! The Chanurs may be the best of the best and I would agree that the least appealing somehow are the Alliance-Unions -- although within the 'series' there are a number of books that take place in the A-U but are standalones that I loved -- Downbelow Station, Rimrunners. The Foreigner series has grown and grown on me as the Atevi are a marvel and Cherryh excels at the "man from Mars" trope (or whatever you call it -- seeing our world culture through alien eyes and vice versa). I also always wonder if the ship that went off course and ended up at the Atevi planet wasn't from the A-U. Whether they will be 'found' someday. The stand-alone called Forty-Thousand in Gehenna is kind of a masterpiece of imagining two cultures from different planets 'joining'. I haven't dipped into the fantasy yet, but I plan to.

And Bujold is just plain fun -- Chalion and Miles being the favorites.

I definitely had a reaction to my Pfizer #1 - about five hours after I got it I more or less got in bed and stayed there for about a day and a half. So so tired! Then I was 'better' but had an unusual headache for about three days, as if there was too much pressure in there. It's been two weeks and the arm still aches now and then. I wonder how I will react to #2 which is next week? I am clearing the decks, nothing planned for several days after it.

Hope I wasn't droning on too much there. Glad Daisy is better. It is sometimes a total mystery -- we've had dogs who were geniuses at finding and swallowing awful things.

març 19, 6:09pm

13. The Less Dead Denise Mina **1/2

Margo waits in the office of the adoption agency to meet her birth family, but they are two hours late for the meeting. Not her mother: Margo knows that her birth mother Susan is already dead. But when her aunt Nikki finally arrives the first few minutes of the meeting provides more information that Margo can cope with. She discovers that her mother Susan was a heroin addict and a prostitute who was brutally murdered only months after Margo was born. Nikki tells Margo that she knows Susan’s murderer was an ex-policeman who she believes was also responsible for the murders of several other women. A man who in the thirty years since Susan’s murder has been sending Nikki threatening and abusive letters .... This is not what Margo expected when she decided to contact her birth family. Still grieving for her adoptive mother, and pregnant with her first child, Nikki is not the sort of person that she wants to get involved with. But then Margo starts to receive threatening letters of her own and is forced to become involved whether she wants to or not ...

This really isn’t my usual sort of book, and I wouldn’t have read it at all if it hadn’t been for reading the Costa novel shortlist with my RL book club. It fits firmly into the category of ‘tartan noir’ and does a good job of setting the scene for the seamier side of Glasgow. And it does a good job also of depicting the huge difference in life experiences between Margo (as a middle class GP) and her aunt Nikki (an uneducated ex-heroin addict and retired sex worker). But I’m not convinced about the plot which does not make a lot of sense at times, and Margo can be an intensely irritating character ...

I’m surprised this book was shortlisted for the Costa prize to be honest, as I’m not sure what there is about this one that sets it above other well-written crime fiction. A little bit too graphic for me at times, so I won’t be looking out for anything else by this author.

març 20, 7:31am

>125 Caroline_McElwee: I think quite a few people are having reactions to the Astra Zeneca one. I'd far rather have that than have COVID though!

>126 sibylline: My new omnibus editions of the Cherryh Chanur books arrived this morning so I shall be getting on to book 2 in the Chanur saga quite soon. I don't like omnibus editions though - too squashed together and too fat - but they are the only editions that seem to be available in the U.K. I definitely need to read more of the Foreigner books though. I have read the first trilogy and have the second trilogy all ready to go, but I'm wondering if I need to re-read the first trilogy first as I can't remember a lot about the plot? It was quite a while ago.

I completely agree about Bujold being fun, she's my go-to author when I'm feeling a bit down at the moment.

Editat: març 20, 8:22am

Since retiring one of the things that I have been doing is making more cakes. So far I’ve made Madeira cake, banana loaf, Victoria sandwich and raspberry Bakewell tart – all part of my standard repertoire (even if I haven’t traditionally made cakes that frequently) and all pretty successful. So I thought it was time to branch out to more adventurous fare in the shape of a egg custard tart which included the dreaded … pastry. (Well, dreaded as far as I’m concerned). It was edible but it didn’t turn out quite so well …

Too flat, with the dreaded ‘soggy bottom’ and with half the egg custard escaping! So I’ve been spending the last few days reviewing YouTube videos on how to bake a pastry case and how to make egg custard tart and have compiled myself a list of things that I need to do differently, first of which is to buy a deeper flan tin. In retrospect, it was never going to work in the flan tin that I had – much too shallow.

Next experiment is to make an apple tart. I was brought up on fruit tarts: apple was the base level tart which appeared most often, but other fruits made a frequent appearance, either in conjunction with apple or on their own. In order of preference these were rhubarb, gooseberry, bilberry, blackberry, raspberry and (joy of joys) dewberry. I’ve never really made them myself as I’ve always found pastry quite stressful, but I do like them a lot, and now my mother does not do anything other than the most basic cooking I’m going to have to learn to make one if I want to eat any more.

As a child all the fruit tarts I encountered were made to a similar pattern. An enamel plate was covered with pastry, the fruit was placed on top (raw – certainly in the case of apple anyway), sugar was placed on the fruit and then the whole thing was covered with another round on pastry. This basic pattern was used by my mother, my aunts, my grandmothers on both sides. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s the archetypal fruit tart which other recipes depart from at their peril! (And yes, they were always called ’tarts’, never ‘pies’, even though Mr SandDune informs me that he’s sure a tart isn’t supposed to have a pastry case on top.) So I was surprised when I went looking for apple tart recipes to find virtually nothing which corresponded to my idea of how an apple tart should be made. I eventually did find some, but all labelled Irish apple tarts. Why Irish I wonder? None of my family had an Irish bone in their body (I’ve done my family history - some English, but no Irish) but this was definitely the traditional type of apple tart that they made as well. Very strange.

Editat: març 20, 8:34am

Happy Saturday, Rhian. Just checking in. I hope you are doing well and reading some good books. Seeing any interesting birds? Yes, these are questions I like to ask. Grins...

març 20, 9:13am

>130 msf59: Not seen any unusual birds recently but the birds in the garden have been having a dramatic time. Yesterday, there was a huge squawking noise in the honeysuckle which grows on the side of our house and a wood pigeon, a magpie and a jackdaw all fell out at the same time. The wood pigeons have a nest in there and I wonder if both the magpie and the jackdaw somehow both attempted to steal an egg at the same time.

And then this morning a little patch of wood pigeon feathers have appeared on our lawn. No body, just feathers. We suspect a sparrow-hawk. The magpies will take small birds I believe, but the wood pigeons are much too big for them. I’m hoping it’s not one of the wood pigeons with the nest. There are several around so it may well be a different one - there was certainly still one wood pigeon sitting on the nest this morning.

Editat: març 20, 9:44am

This week’s film was ‘Red Dot’ a Swedish revenge type thriller, Mr SandDune’s choice. I lasted about 30 minutes before announcing that I do not like this film it will give me nightmares and having to leave the room. And lo and behold I did then have a nightmare about being pursued around a snowy waste by persons unseen.

març 20, 9:18am

Oh, I love your bird tale, despite the mayhem. Your jackdaws look like a cross between our crows and grackles.

març 20, 9:35am

>133 msf59: There are a lot of jackdaws around, but I rarely see one in the actual garden. Occasionally one perches on the roof opposite, but they seem to prefer more open grassy areas where there is more room for a crowd of them.

març 20, 12:27pm

>129 SandDune: Interesting adventures in baking, Rhian. I've never made a custard tart. The fruit tart you describe sounds a lot like a pie to me as well, although not all pies have a top crust. When I think of tarts I picture a metal tin with fluted sides. Sometimes the tins have a removable base so the side can be (gently) removed after baking. We have a few of these in different sizes although I confess I they don't get much use. I will follow your further adventures with interest. Do let us know if you land a spot on GBBO!

març 20, 1:19pm

>135 lauralkeet: although not all pies have a top crust If it hasn’t got a top crust it’s pretty much a tart in my book (lemon tart, treacle tart, apple tart of the tarte tatin variety). I think it’s one of the differences between English English and American English. I’ve always get the impression that your default ‘pie’ is sweet, and our default ‘pie’ is savoury. The one occasion when I might use ‘pie’ for something without a top is lemon meringue pie and even then I’m probably more likely to say lemon meringue tart, and I suppose you could argue that it’s got a top of meringue.

I don’t think there’s any chance at all of GBBO!

març 20, 1:46pm

I love hearing about your baking experiments, Rhian. Scout and I recently tried a Swiss roll, which Scout thought tasted good, but when I unrolled it, it was in pieces. We'll try again.

Editat: març 20, 3:19pm

>136 SandDune: I think you're right about our respective "defaults" for pie, Rhian. Savoury pies are far less common here, except for quiche. Which, now that I think about it, looks more like a tart (no top crust) than a pie. Funny language.

març 20, 3:29pm

>137 BLBera: Last time I made a Swiss roll I was in school. I didn’t have many cookery lessons (I did Latin and if you were a girl and took Latin you either dropped Needlework or Cookery) but I don’t remember learning to cook anything very useful in any of them. We did a term making cakes and a term making sauces and one term comparing convenience foods with traditional ones. I remember one inexplicably bizarre lesson when half the class had to make Cornish pasties using ‘convenience’ ingredients (ready made pastry, dried onions, instant mashed potato etc.) while the other half used traditional ingredients. Even at the age of 12 that struck me as particularly stupid: if you want a Cornish Pasty involving less work you don’t make one yourself from second rate ingredients, you just go and buy a Cornish Pasty in a shop.

>138 lauralkeet: I do like a nice steak and kidney pie. I do like a nice quiche as well come to that.

març 20, 3:34pm

>129 SandDune: >136 SandDune: Pumpkin pies are open. We called all the fruit in crust pies, usually with a lattice top except for apple. Usually we only called things tarts if we could hold them in one hand. If we put meat in a crust it was a turnover. But then a apples in crust were a turnover too - if it was entirely enclosed and could fit in the hand.

Rhubarb is not a fruit.

març 20, 3:43pm

>140 quondame: Ah, but we don’t eat pumpkin pie.

març 20, 4:14pm

Hi Rhian my dear, Duck eggs are good for and Egg Custard tart, we got some last week and Karen is going to make me one as it is one of my favourites.

març 20, 5:23pm

>129 SandDune: 1) Mr SandDune is correct, double-crusted pastry containers are pies, never tarts.
2) Irish pies keep squeamish English folk from having to utter "American" about a foodstuff, in order that they not have fantods and vapors over provenance among Those People.
3) Try Ian from GBBO's tarragon-apple tart! Wow is it good.

març 20, 6:15pm

>142 johnsimpson: I never really think about buying duck eggs. But I will definitely try making a custard tart again, hopefully a bit more successfully this time. I have bought a deeper cake tin so at least all the filling should fit in it this time.

>143 richardderus: I don’t know. Apple pies or tarts (whichever) are usually just called that, and I’d never even heard that there was an ‘Irish’ thing until I started looking for the right sort of recipe and couldn’t find it in my normal recipe websites. And I still don’t understand why they are considered Irish. My personal view is that Ireland may have retained more traditional cooking later than the U.K. did, so what was once normal in lots of places was retained there longer.

març 20, 6:22pm

>244 I've never done more than put the lattice on my mother's fruit pies, but I remember she mixed tart sliced apples, sugar, cinnamon and butter, possibly other spices, before putting them in the crust, and her pies were pretty normal American apple pies, though of course the best version of same.

març 20, 6:54pm

>145 quondame: Do American apple pies use eating apples or cooking apples? I seem to remember reading somewhere that Bramley apples were not readily available in the States but I could be wrong.

Editat: març 20, 8:09pm

>146 SandDune: The pies are better with apples too green to eat, so cooking apples are more used. We had a pippin tree, a scrawny wee thing, but the apples picked from it made a great pie. It blew down in a desert wind - the roots couldn't get through caliche.

març 21, 10:37am

My cooking classes in school were equally useless, Rhian. My mom was a good cook and taught us. I remember when we made cakes, we used cake mixes, which I had never used. In our house, we made cakes from scratch.

març 24, 9:55pm

Dear Rhian, I fear I have missed your birthday, although it is still the 24th here. But here are my belated Happy Birthday wishes!

And you have finished three of my favorite books on this thread!!! The Goblin Emperor, The Pride of Chanur and Paladin of Souls are all three on my best of-best of list! Be aware that the next three Chanur books are actually one book split into three parts back in those days when publishers wouldn't publish a bookstop. And they split them up between the two omnibusi--but it sounds like you have both so you should be okay.

Happy Birthday!!

març 26, 11:11am

Hiya Rhian. I note you've been a birthday gal!
Re the apple pie discussion, in western Canada the very best apples are harvested in early fall, a cultivar called Transparents. They're not see-through! I don't know why they have that name, but they're very tart light green and don't store well at all.

The other tart-pie type we find more easily (to buy) is called Newton. They're a type of orange pippin and in my childhood, was the usual source of culinary apple since we had this variety in our garden.

Was that too much info? Hope it was a fun read if you like apple lore.

març 26, 12:28pm

>147 quondame: >150 SandyAMcPherson: Here pretty much all traditional cooking with apples uses Bramley apples, which I understand are a peculiarly British taste. So we have cooking apples (which are basically Bramley apples) and eating apples (which are basically everything else). Bramley apples get a lot more fluffy than other varieties and are a lot more sour, so much sugar is needed. We do have Cox’s Orange Pippins but they fall into the ‘eating apple’ category. I think there are other apple varieties that fall into the cooking apple category but I’ve never actually seen any on sale. That’s for traditional recipes, we do cook with ‘eating apples’ as well sometimes.

Quick apple fact: we have a dog who is an apple snob. We get through a lot of apples: Mr SandDune likes Cox’s Orange Pippins while Jacob likes Jazz apples, and Daisy likes the Jazz apples too. She will eat Mr SandDune’s apples at a push, but only if she is very hungry.

març 26, 12:59pm

>148 BLBera: I’ve never really seen the point of cake mixes. A basic cake is pretty quick to make, and if you don’t want to make one then why not buy one?

>149 ronincats: Thanks Roni! My birthday this year was a very quiet affair as was last year’s, as we were in lockdown both times. Facebook was reminding me of other busier birthdays. Two years ago I’d celebrated by going on a march in London and then to the theatre. That seems terribly exotic these days.

I don’t like omnibus editions but that is all that was available. Cherryh’s books are ridiculously difficult to find here.

març 26, 1:07pm

Cake mixes were odd to me, as well, until I no longer had a kitchen. Crock pots make mix-based cakes just fine, not quite so well with the scratch kind.

Strange how very quickly the Plague Year became the new normal. Actually *seeing* my Young Gentleman Caller in the flesh has gone from a periodic treat to An EVENT!!

Happy weekend's reads, to go with the belated birthday wishes.

(Oh, apples: I like the local variety, Newtown Pippin, for cooking and dessert purposes:

març 26, 4:18pm

>153 richardderus: It never occurred to me you could make a cake in a crock pot.

Everything seems like an event at the moment doesn’t it? On my birthday I got to take Jacob to have his vaccination. The vaccination centre was a brand new school that I hadn’t previously seen and it was quite exciting just to have a little look at it and the surrounding new houses. He was invited now on the grounds that he has a pre-existing condition, although his consultant does seem to be coming to the conclusion that maybe he hasn’t got a pre-existing condition after all. Anyway, better safe than sorry. But yesterday he had pretty severe side-effects and didn’t get out of bed until late afternoon. He’s feeling recovered now though.

And today’s excitement was someone coming to the house to repair the vacuum cleaner. Living the dream!

març 26, 4:31pm

>154 SandDune: Oh, those side effects! Yeeeccchhh

But they're short-lived and the immunity is worth the misery (spoken as one who had it).

Now Rhian...pace yourself...two days in a row of being in company not related to you! Slow down, Hare-Lady!

març 26, 6:00pm

>155 richardderus: Oh I didn’t actually get out of the car at the school. I just got to sit in it and look at the new building.

I’ve been pretty good about lock down so far and it hasn’t really got me down too much, but last weekend it did. I just want to go somewhere, anywhere, that’s different. And I want to sit in a cafe and have coffee and cake. And I want to go shopping (and I virtually never want to go shopping unless it’s books)

març 26, 11:19pm

Happy belated birthday, Rhian! I've enjoyed all of the baking chatter here. I may bake something this weekend now that I'm more mobile. Happy weekend to you!

març 26, 11:31pm

For eating apples, I love Jonathan and Pink Lady varieties but I don't know that you even have those over there.

Editat: març 27, 4:20am

>157 AMQS: I might do some baking this weekend as well. I was going to make myself a birthday cake but I discovered (after I’d weighed everything else out) that we had no eggs. Not something that happens very often so I hadn’t thought to check.

>158 ronincats: We definitely get Pink Lady and they are Jacob’s second choice if there are no Jazz apples for some reason. Jonathan isn’t a variety that you see in the supermarket but I have a feeling that I‘ve seen some somewhere, in a farm shop perhaps.

març 27, 4:25am

I have realised (joy of joys) that the requirement to ‘stay at home’ is ending, and from Monday we will be able to have a day out further afield. A day out! I’m so excited!

març 27, 5:31am

Belated birthday wishes Rhian. Despite the day being less exotic.

març 27, 9:29am

Hi Rhian!

>129 SandDune: I’ve never attempted an egg custard tart and admire you for attempting it. Good luck with the fruit tarts.

>152 SandDune: I don’t use cake mixes – I agree with you 100% about a basic cake being pretty quick to make. Plus, none of the chemical taste.

Happy Belated Birthday.

>154 SandDune: Sorry Jacob had such severe side effects from the vaccine, glad he’s recovered now.

And today’s excitement was someone coming to the house to repair the vacuum cleaner. Living the dream! *smile*

Editat: març 30, 2:36pm

14. Night Waking Sarah Moss ****1/2

Anna is spending the summer on the remote Scottish island of Colsay with her husband Giles and their two young sons. She has been promised the peace and quiet she needs to complete her book on eighteenth century attitudes to child rearing, but in practice she is left carrying out round the clock child rearing of her own. With a younger son (Moth - short for Timothy) who will not sleep and demands constant attention, and an older son (Raph - short for Raphael) who is worryingly obsessed with disaster and death, Anna is at breaking point. Meanwhile her husband Giles counts the declining puffins numbers for his own scientific research, and conveniently forgets that Anna is also an academic. Miserable and sleep-deprived, Anna questions whether motherhood was the right choice for her to make:

If I had known then what I know now, would I have had children?... Would I do it again, understanding as I do now and didn’t then, that failure at motherhood is for life and beyond, that everything that happens to my children and my children’s children is my fault? That my meanness and bad temper are going to trickle into the future like nuclear waste into the Irish Sea? No. Not because I don’t love my children - everyone loves their children, child abusers love their children - but because I don’t love motherhood and you don’t find that out until it’s too late. Love is not enough, when it comes to children. Bad luck’

And into this stressful mix comes a new worry: while gardening Anna finds a tiny buried body - a baby - taking her mind from the writing of her book even further. How long has it been there? And does it have anything to do with Giles’s own family, the owners of the island since the mid-nineteenth century?

The modern day narrative is interspersed with letters from May, an English nurse sent to the island in the nineteenth century to combat the extremely high infant mortality. But May’s efforts to carry out her work are as frustrated as are Anna’s.

This is a rewarding book, which takes a serious look at motherhood and women’s choices. And the insight into the way of life on Colsay (loosely based on the real life St Kilda) is also fascinating. Sarah Moss remains one of my favourite writers.

març 30, 2:40pm

>161 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline,

>162 karenmarie: Hi Katie. Yes Jacob is fine now, if a little bored, as his girlfriend has gone back to Uni to complete her dissertation (she’s third year whereas he’s only first year). I haven’t returned to the fruit tarts as yet, but I will.

març 31, 3:09pm

On Monday we had our first day out for months, as the level of lockdown eased somewhat and we are no longer required to stay home. Restaurants, bars and non-essential shops remain closed for another two weeks, but we can go out and about a bit more. So being that Monday was a warm and sunny day we went to the coast, to Dunwich, which is one of our favourite spots. There’s a lovely walk there: through the old village, through some woodland and then crossing the marshes to walk back along the shingle beach.

In the woodlands we saw one of the best displays of daffodils that I’d ever seen. Thousands and thousands of them:

And then on the marshes we saw a marsh harrier, a bird I had never seen before.

Lovely day out, and so nice to be somewhere different. And we even got out fish and chips on the beach, as cafes are allowed to be open for take-always only.

març 31, 4:02pm

>165 SandDune: All those daffodils are an amzing sight, Rhian, thank for sharing

Congratulations on spotting a marsh harrier. Those I see occasionally here, and once I have seen a close relative: a hen harrier.

març 31, 4:43pm

In looking up things about Sarah Moss for my RL book club and found this quote which amused me:

The book that is most overrated:

‘The one where the white male American literature/history professor has a midlife crisis and sleeps with a student he despises, thus ending the marriage to the wife he despises and obliging him to move in with the mother he despises. I think it’s called The Great American Novel.’

We had a great discussion about Night Waking - one of the best ever. We had all come to a certain assumption about the ending, and after much discussion, decided that we had completely misinterpreted the ending, which cast a whole new light on the book as a whole.

març 31, 4:53pm

I really loved Night Waking too, though of course my memory is a bit too hazy to be able to remember fully the details of the ending. One of the historical characters features in two of her other books.

març 31, 5:12pm

>165 SandDune: Glad to hear you had such a lovely day out! I'm a little envious of your spring weather. We're getting started on spring too, but it'll be weeks yet until we see grass and flowers. And yum! I love fish and chips.

>167 SandDune: Ha! That quote is almost verbatim how I describe my absolute least favourite book genre. The white, straight middle aged man having a mid life crises and having an affair with his pretty young secretary. Can't get any worse in my opinion.

març 31, 5:49pm

>168 elkiedee: I’ve read Bodies of Light previously - hadn’t realised that it sort of followed on from this one. I enjoyed that as well, although it’s a very different style. As regards the ending .... On initial reading everyone thought that Anna would be able to move forward with her life and were optimistic about her future. On second (more detailed) reading we decided that she was going back to the island to kill herself.

>169 PawsforThought: It’s been lovely weather for the last three days, especially yesterday. Apparently it’s going to be back to a top temperature of 9°C by the weekend and below zero overnight by the beginning of next week. I hope it doesn’t kill all the nice green shoots.

There are a lot of that sort of books aren’t there. I dislike them intensely too.

abr. 1, 4:06am

>165 SandDune: beautiful Rhian.

abr. 1, 6:09am

>163 SandDune: Sounds brilliant, Rhian. I'll.add it to the list.

I love the daffodils. I don't have much luck with them in the garden, but the verges around us are looking wonderful.

abr. 1, 6:20am

Night waking was an excellent book, my first read by Sarah Moss. I have her latest, Summerwater, on Mount TBR and I'm looking forward to having time to read it soon.

abr. 1, 8:19am

>165 SandDune: I love these photos. We NEED more spring color here!

Happy April, Rhian. Have you been seeing any birds coming in, that summer there? This is the time. Birders favorite time of year.

abr. 1, 8:50am

>171 Caroline_McElwee: >172 charl08: They are lovely aren’t they?

>172 charl08: I keep meaning to plant daffodils in the garden but never get around to it at the appropriate time. I like the little more natural looking ones.

>173 Sakerfalcon: I haven’t read Summerwater yet, but Mr SandDune thinks it is her best yet. I will get around to it soon.

>174 msf59: We have all the usual suspects in the garden which for us are wood pigeons, house sparrows, robins, starlings, blue tits, great tits, blackbirds and magpies. Those are the ones that are there every day for quite a good percentage of the time. The wood pigeons have a nest just outside our bedroom window which they have been sitting on for a while, and I’m pretty sure the sparrows are nesting in our honeysuckle bush as well, as they were frantically flying in and out of it with sticks a couple of weeks ago. Last year we had young robins, blue tits, blackbirds, magpies and starlings visit the bird feeders, so they must be nesting nearby as well. I hope the wood pigeons manage to raise a chick this year. Last years chick decided to fledge on the coldest and wettest day of the summer, and did not last very long.

Editat: abr. 1, 2:06pm

>165 SandDune: Ooooooooooo

beautiful, beautiful sight...that shade of yellow is so satisfying in spring!

>167 SandDune: *snort* Most boring book ever...? One of, for sure.

abr. 2, 11:09am

Wonderful review and the Moss is on the WL!

I could go on and on about apples. Vermont is a strong apple-growing state and there is a great effort to find and revive old varieties. Once, when hiking in the Central Vt mountain range (Worcesters) we were wandering about having lost the trail and came across an abandoned farmstead (ancient model T type car buried up to its windows in leaves and duff) and a group of apple trees with big brownish apples. We picked a couple and bit -- I have never in my life tasted anything like it -- the most amazing flavor, honey? vanilla? a bit of a bite? perfect texture? We picked a ton of them and loaded up our packs and went on our climb -- sure we could find the place again. Nope.

We have lots of gnarly old apple trees around the house (our theory is that this was not done with any design, just a farm person throwing the cores over to the side of the field when plowing or whatever. Anyway, they are all different and some have totally reverted to wild almost inedible, but some are sweet, some are brown or yellow or green or splotchy or bright red. Some make good baking apples, some make heavenly applesauce that needs no sugar at all and I have no doubt some are superb cider apples. One of the browns has a hint of the flavor of the trees we found decades ago.

Hand held savory pies are making inroads here -- the cornish 'pasty' I think? Also to be found as a local dish in Michigan and here and there along those northern states and likely in Canada as well. We are HUGE fans of the couple who make them locally and sell at our farmers market and even drive around making deliveries these days! Steak and Ale! Curry chicken! Breakfast All Day! Yum. One of the treats that has gotten us through Covid.

Apple pie with either the lattice or the full cover just seems . . . deeply American.

Rhubarb is the first thing from our (minimalist) garden. Do you put strawberries in? Cuts down on how much sweetening is necessary.

abr. 3, 1:52am

Hi Rhian - wow, those daffodils are just amazing! I've never seen them like that.

You got me with Night Waking. I was going to say I've enjoyed other books of hers but when I looked her up, I haven't actually read any others. Who am I thinking of? Huh. But thanks for the recommendation!

abr. 3, 4:15am

>176 richardderus: It’s lovely isn’t it? And they were all little daffodils as well, which I much prefer to the big blowsy ones.

>176 richardderus: To be honest I think there are quite a few novels on that theme from other countries as well. It’s definitely not my favourite.

>177 sibylline: There are so many different sorts of apple and so few of them are readily available. Both Jacob and Mr SandDune eat large amounts of apples. Especially Jacob, even at a young age he had definite opinions about the sort of apples I should be buying!

I’m thinking of our traditional handheld meat pies. There is the Cornish pasty type and the pork pie type (with hot water crust pastry and pork meat set in gelatine) and there is a more general meat pie, which is perhaps more Northern. Apparently there are several excellent ‘pie shops’ in Lancaster, which we were intending to try when we went to visit Jacob, but of course we have not been to visit Jacob as he is here because of the COVID restrictions.

I think apple pies or tarts are equally traditional in both countries, it’s just that in the US it’s celebrated as part of the national identity and in the U.K. it isn’t. Here, it’s part of a sort of straightforward home cooking with readily available ingredients that people don’t do much any more, but was absolutely standard in the past. It’s probably like roast beef for England. If people are having a roast dinner it’s probably equally likely to be pork or lamb (I’ve always preferred pork or lamb personally) but it’s the roast beef that’s celebrated.

I haven’t tried rhubarb with strawberries, but probably wouldn’t work for me as I’ve got a bit of a thing about cooked strawberries! I only really eat them raw.

abr. 3, 9:41am

When the play "Sweeney Todd" was a thing in New York I spent a lot of time explaining that the "pies" in the story were not the Swanson's Deep Dish Pot Pies but the smaller hand held pasty or meat pie of London or Cornwall.

People stared at me oddly

Editat: abr. 3, 12:05pm

>180 magicians_nephew: I didn’t know what a Swanson deep dish pie was, so I looked it up. Definitely not that sort of thing at all!

I envisaged Sweeney Todd’s pies like this, of a size to hold in the hand.

Jacob says that there are a lot of pie shops in Lancaster but he has only eaten one from Piestretcher, which apparently is like Poundstretcher but for pies. Two of his flat mates are from Wigan, where apparently there are more pie shops than people (or so they say).

E.T.A. And in the U.K. if you say ‘pie shop’ it would definitely mean it sold savoury pies.

abr. 3, 7:24pm

When I lived in Austin in the Aughties, a borning trend was Aussie boomerangs, the first hand-held meat pies to take off in the South. They are scrummy.

Of course if one says "fried pie" to an American, this is the image:

abr. 4, 1:32am

>182 richardderus: Boring and scrummy? I love some of the meat pies available - I've mentioned Porto's which have a puff pastry crust, and empanadas are our more regional version, though of course we appropriated them from out southern neighbors, but as I grew up eating them, they're ours.

abr. 4, 9:03am

>182 richardderus: I’m a bit dubious about anything that requires pastry to be microwaved. The last time somebody tried to microwave a pie in our house it exploded (Jacob microwaved a mince pie at Christmas - maybe ‘exploded’ is a bit of an exageration but it was messy).

I think we have the McDonald’s apple pies here as well, but not 100% sure if the’re fried. I’m not a McDonalds fan (or any sort of burger fan to be honest) and we don’t have one in town (there was one once but it closed down years ago). But if you say ‘pie’ on its own in the U.K. It would definately be savoury.

>183 quondame: Talking about empanadas (which aren’t particularly common here) has made me thing about samosas (which are). I’ve realised I haven’t had a samosa in ages. I used to pick them up on the deli counter in the supermarket sometimes, but now I’m not going to the supermarket at all.

Editat: abr. 5, 5:06pm

The Wig and Pen was my favorite pub in Oxford for real Cornish pasties.

(the word "pasties" can raise a snigger with American listeners too -- the uncultured oafs!)

abr. 4, 1:09pm

>183 quondame: No no, "borning" not boring! Heh.

You'll get no cultural-appropriation flak from my Tex-Mex-scarfin' self about empañadas. I also love pupusas, and tacos...bread-n-meat's a winner.

>184 SandDune: I think MickeyD's has moved away from frying pies as much as local market conditions will allow. It's not hugely healthy. I contend that making MickeyD's food healthier is an absurd effort. It's meant to be indulgent, bad-for-you excessive trash! Let it be what it is...don't like it, don't eat it.

Many years of GBBO have taught me to be bicultural about many baked goods, most especially pies. "Hand-raised pie" causes *great* hilarity in the US, though, and never won't.

>185 magicians_nephew: Think that's bad? Say "pastille" in public....

Editat: abr. 4, 5:59pm

>184 SandDune: I really loved being able to pick up a samosa on the corner when I was in England. For me they are about the perfect "I'm hungry but not ready for a full meal" nosh. More often than not I make due with TJ's Aloo Chat microwave pastries, but I always give them a turn in the toaster and prefer it when I can daub them with left over anchar and chutney. It's not really very far to go to get fresh ones, and I really should go out more now that I'm vaccinated.

>186 richardderus: My all time favorite meat in bread were my mom's "pereshki" - fried up ground beef and onions in turnovers of bread dough, deep fried and salted. Talk about comfort food, those were comatose induceingly good especially with a cold tart beet and potato borsch.

abr. 13, 5:12pm

>185 magicians_nephew: >186 richardderus: I have no idea what you’re both talking about! Mr SandDune bought me Scoff: A History of Food and Class in Britain for Christmas but I have not read it yet I will report back if it has anything about apple pies!

>187 quondame: One of the things that has surprised me most about the various lock downs here is how much I have missed being able to get nice snacks, just as much as being able to go to a restaurant. A nice piece of cake in the afternoon makes all the difference if you’re having a day out. And things like samosas and sushi, my diet is just more boring.

abr. 14, 6:19am

>188 SandDune: I agree with you about missing those treats that you just can't make for yourself. While I'm glad that I've had time to cook proper meals for myself during lockdown I am missing things like Pad Thai soooo much! I am resisting going down the Deliveroo etc route as that will turn me into a couch potato - my rule is that if I want takeaway I have to collect it myself.

abr. 14, 12:19pm

>189 Sakerfalcon: We have been going in for takeaway much more during the pandemic. Usually we’re much more cook it from scratch or go out sort of people, but we’ve been having take-aways at least once a week over the last six months or so. And we are addicted to Deliveroo / Just East - my rule is if I’m paying for a take-away I want someone else to deliver it. So we have had pad Thai (which I am very fond of) as we have two decent Thai restaurants nearby.

Editat: abr. 14, 12:43pm

I’m a bit behind here. Mr SandDune has been at home for the last couple of weeks for the Easter holidays which means we have been out more and have more ‘projects’ going on which has been keeping me busy.

Last week we went to the Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, which are in a nearby village. I had never been before (although both Mr SandDune and Jacob had), which was fairly shocking really as it’s almost within walking distance of our house (admittedly it would be a very long walk). I think when we moved here first the opening hours were very strange - I don’t think they were open at weekends - so I just got into my head that it wasn’t a convenient place to go. Anyway, here are some of my favourite sculptures:

I have fond memories of the top sculpture. Although I’ve never been to the gardens before that particular sculpture is on a public footpath that runs alongside. When he was small Jacob was quite fascinated by it being so big and loved to play hide and seek around it.

abr. 14, 1:44pm

>187 quondame: Deep-fried bread and meat. There is nothing finer.

>188 SandDune: Scoff, albeit a weird word to use for the subject, sounds delightful! I hope it's as fun to read as it is to conceive of.

>191 SandDune: Oh, how lovely to have so close to home!

Editat: abr. 14, 2:28pm

>192 richardderus: Scoff, albeit a weird word to use for the subject Do you have the sense of the word scoff to mean to eat hungrily or greedily? I looked it up and I think perhaps it’s a British sense only. So I might say to Jacob ‘You’ve scoffed all the cake’ meaning he has eaten it all. So the title is using scoff in both senses.

>192 richardderus: We had a lovely morning. I’m really quite appalled with myself that I’ve not been before. I’ve been past it on numerous occasions.

abr. 14, 2:55pm

Something else that we have been doing is working on the garden.

We had a brick built pond that was falling to pieces and that was leaking very badly. So we’ve replaced it with a pond inset into the ground. It’s all very bare and messy at the moment and we need to finish off the surround and the liner and buy more plants but the basics are done. We seem to have managed to transplant as least some of the water lily from the old pond which had grown to a gargantuan size and pretty much took up all of the previous pond. I’m hoping for frogs and newts as my aim is to make the garden a wildlife haven even if it’s only for the short term.

Planting has been put on hold over the last week though as it has been very cold for April and there have been some heavy frosts overnight. Last week it was bitterly cold and even tried to snow on a couple of occasions which is very unusual for this time of year. From Monday this week restaurants and cafes are allowed to open outside, and I felt sorry for one restauranteur I heard interviewed who said that he’d got 120 people booked in for lunch and the forecast was 2°C and snow!

Unfortunately, we did plant some vegetables before we noticed just how cold it was going to be and some of those are looking remarkably dead.

abr. 14, 3:51pm

>188 SandDune: >192 richardderus: >193 SandDune: Scoff Richard, don't we
use scarf, or is that scarf up, or scarf down and what's the difference?

abr. 14, 4:00pm

>193 SandDune: As >195 quondame: says, we use "scarf" in its place...and either up or down is still the same thing, "greedily consume".

>194 SandDune: It looks lovely!

abr. 14, 4:15pm

>196 richardderus: Well, we can scarf up things other than food - bargains and freebees for sure. Scarfing down anything but food just sounds wrong.

abr. 14, 5:24pm

>196 richardderus: We wouldn't use the word scarf as anything other than a noun in English english RD. As Rhian says our version is "scoff" but the two are probably from the same source somehow.

abr. 14, 5:31pm

>198 PaulCranswick: Scarf with the same meaning as the noun is a verb,

scarf verb (1)
scarfed; scarfing; scarfs

Definition of scarf (Entry 2 of 5)

transitive verb
1 : to wrap, cover, or adorn with or as if with a scarf
2 : to wrap or throw on (a scarf or mantle) loosely

But doesn't mean gobbling things up, or down, whichever.

abr. 14, 5:55pm

>191 SandDune: How lovely to see those beautiful sculptures, Rhian, thanks for sharing!

Editat: abr. 14, 8:53pm

>199 quondame: We wouldn't use it in that context, Susan, especially in Yorkshire. Rather than "to scarf" we would probably say "to wrap a scarf"

I noticed that your American Merriam-Webster dictionary does have the definition as you describe it but neither the Cambridge or Oxford pocket (both from the UK) do. Interesting because I have never heard it used in that context before.

ETA Interesting to note that the Oxford Learner American edition also doesn't include scarf as an alternative verb to wrap but does include it as the American version of our scoff.

abr. 15, 4:05am

>196 richardderus: >197 quondame: >198 PaulCranswick: We definitely don’t use the word scarf for anything other than the thing that goes around your neck. And only as a noun or (much more rarely) as an adjective (scarved).

My Concise Oxford Dictionary (which isn’t really very concise at all at 1750 pages) has three meanings of scarf. There is the thing that goes around your neck (only listed as a noun) and the sense of ‘to eat or drink hungrily or enthusiastically’ listed as a verb and ‘North American informal’. And there is also a third type of meaning of scarf, listed as
1. ‘join the ends of (two pieces of timber or metal) by bevelling or notching them so that they fit together.
2. Make an incision in the blubber of a whale.
Can’t say that I’ve ever come across those last two meanings.

abr. 15, 6:10am

>191 SandDune: I'm adding the Henry Moore Studios to my list of places to visit! I love sculpture parks and Moore's work is spectacular in any setting.

Re: Scarf My cats had the charming habit of gobbling their food and then bringing it up later (usually on the rug ...) When we mentioned it to the vet she said "Oh yes, scarf and barf!"(This was in the US.)

abr. 15, 8:08am

>203 Sakerfalcon: Isn't the varied use of words interesting and especially the differences that have developed over time between North America and the British Isles?

abr. 15, 8:34am

>204 PaulCranswick: Yes, it really is! And then you have variations within the United States itself between different regions (just as we do in the UK of course).

abr. 15, 8:51am

>200 FAMeulstee: >203 Sakerfalcon: Sculpture parks aren’t something that I tend to seek out, although I virtually always enjoy them when I do. At Henry Moore you can touch all the sculptures (apart from the very big one on the hill), so it is a tactile experience as well.

>203 Sakerfalcon: One of the nicest sculpture parks I’ve been to is Sculpture by the Lakes in Dorset featuring the work of Simon Gudgeon. It’s such a lovely setting and the day we went there were butterflies everywhere (although I don’t suppose that can be guaranteed).

I particularly liked this crow:

>204 PaulCranswick: I’m fascinated by different usages in different places. I’ve just been reading The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey which uses a number of Trinidadian phrases and it really adds to the book.

Editat: abr. 15, 9:37am

One of my very favorite Henry Moore's in New York City's Lincoln Center arts complex.

"Pasties" to the vulgar are the little glittery things used by topless dancers to cover their nipples

abr. 15, 9:51am

Hi Rhian! Just passing through and enjoying the discussions.

Apples are fascinating. Each apple tree always produces the same apples, but seeds from apples from any tree do not produce that same apple. You have to graft from the apple tree whose apples you want, i.e., propagation from a cultivar. My husband's relatives all remember a favorite apple tree from childhood - the one in the corner of Granny's farm to eat fresh, a different tree for one that made good applesauce, etc. I have what's called an heirloom apple tree - Magnum Bonum. It's just finished blooming and the apples will be ready for harvesting in August.

abr. 15, 10:04am

>206 SandDune: I bought that one too recently Rhian and want to get to it quite soon. Impressed it won the Costa and disappointed that she couldn't even beat Dawn French onto the Women's Prize longlist.

>207 magicians_nephew: Jim, I am a proud West Yorkshireman and just as proud of my hometown, Wakefield. Apart from myself and John Simpson my hometown has produced writers of the ilk of George Gissing, David Storey, Stan Barstow, Helen Fielding (of Brigit Jones fame) and David Peace. In some ways more notably we also produced the two foremost British sculptors of the last 150 years in Barbara Hepworth and your dear Henry Moore.

Wakefield is home to the national coal mining museum as well as the National Sculpture Park which, of course, features Moore and Hepworth prominently.

abr. 15, 1:22pm

>202 SandDune: In my wishful life I sometimes pursue carpentry tools and am familiar with a scarf joint - they are neat and come in a variety of forms. They seem to be for extending planks, overlapping and interlocking at the joins.

abr. 15, 2:21pm

How lucky to have the Henry Moore sculptures so close to home.

What a nice pond. You are an ambitious gardener. I'm lucky to get the grass cut!

abr. 16, 5:42am

>206 SandDune: And that's another place to add to my ever-increasing list of places to go! That crow is gorgeous!

abr. 16, 10:04am

Back on the subject of pies I have seen this:

I am quite tempted.

Ahir, 12:32am

Extremely belated happy birthday, Rhian! I haven't visited your thread in a while because it was one of the longer ones - and then it just kept getting longer and longer.

>129 SandDune: Pastry needn't be dreaded. Shortcrust is quite easy to make although the only time I tried flaky pastry was in Singapore and ... just no. In spite of freezing the pastry in between rolling, all the butter melted and disappeared. The boys like quiche so I've made that a few times although the filling tends to leak. (I have a few recipes for quiche and the first time I made it, it didn't leak but I haven't re-discovered which recipe that was yet.)

>137 BLBera: Did you roll your cake up before it cooled? If you roll it straight out of the oven, it lets it kind of stretch and then once it's cooled, you unroll it, fill it and roll it back up. (GBBO addict here)

>165 SandDune: You missed the obligatory Wordsworth quote there ;0)

Ahir, 8:48am

Nice sculpture trip and new pond Rhian.

I last saw many of the Moore sculptures when they were on display at Kew Gardens a few years back.

I do like a nice pie, be it all a veggie one. I made this wonderful Scandinavian one at Christmas.

Ahir, 9:02am

We spent yesterday taking Jacob back to university, a 500 mile round trip. I know that is not considered massive in U.S. terms but in U.K. terms it’s considered something just short of going to the moon and I’ve been worrying about how tiring it will be all week. Anyway we got there and it wasn’t too bad. Five and a half hours getting there (got diverted off the M6 and once we got back on the M6 there was a major crash and we were stopped for about half an hour) and four hours getting back. So not too bad. Usually we’d stay overnight but we’re not allowed to under the COVID regulations at the moment.

Jacob’s packing on Thursday was driving me through the roof. I think we definitely both need some personal space after being cooped up together for so long. After agreeing that all the packing would be done by 6pm so we could put it in the car Friday night to get an early (ish) start on Saturday, it transpired that his idea of getting the packing done was to put everything in a big pile ready to be packed, but not actually in a bag. And when I did convince him that packing meant, well, actually putting it in something, I came back half an hour later to discover that rather than use a large bag (of which we have several) he’d packed his stuff into our 3 small overnight cases. And of course as they are small he still had a lot left over. And we needed those for when we visit my Mum in a few weeks time, so it all had to be repacked! I think he is reverting to a teenager, being stuck at home and not being able to go anywhere over the last few months!

Ahir, 10:43am

>216 SandDune: Andrew (now aged 30) has given up his Bristol house and moved back in with us for the future, until he recovers more from Long Covid. Jon went to fetch him and found his idea of packing ready to go much the same as Jacob's!

Ahir, 12:50pm

Eeeeeekkkk, I have this left to come.

Ahir, 12:53pm

>208 karenmarie: I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever had apples fresh from the tree and I’m not sure that I have. Not of my relatives ever had gardens big enough to have apple trees in them.

We did plant some of those little stick apple trees once (I’m sure there is a technical term for them but I’m not sure what) but they never actually produced any apples.

>209 PaulCranswick: My RL book group discussed The Mermaid of Black Conch last week, the final book from the Costa novel shortlist. The majority opinion of the group was that Mermaid of the Black Conch was the best book, with some dissenting voices for Piranesi (including myself). Peace Talks was voted third, and The Less Dead brought up the rear, with many people confused as to why it made the shortlist at all.

>209 PaulCranswick: I didn’t realise that the Yorkshire Sculpture Park was in Wakefield, Paul. I’ve seen the sign for it several times going up the motorway but have never been.

Editat: Ahir, 1:13pm

>218 elkiedee: I've got this to come, too; but there's no 'eeeeek' about it. It's pretty much par for the course. At the moment, I'm trying to train my boys to get water for themselves at mealtimes ;0)

Ahir, 1:54pm

>210 quondame: I know nothing whatsoever about carpentry which explains my ignorance!

>211 BLBera: We finished off the pond today and covered up all the liner and surround with chippings or bark. So it’s looking a lot more finished. I will be going to buy some plants to surround it tomorrow.

>212 Sakerfalcon: He is lovely isn’t he?

Ahir, 2:12pm

>214 humouress: I have made pastry on a number of occasions but it never turns out quite like I am expecting. There have been a fair few pastry disasters in my time!

>215 Caroline_McElwee: Now Kew Gardens is somewhere I haven’t been for a very long time. It’s not terribly convenient to get to from here, but I keep thinking that we ought to pay it a visit.

>217 CDVicarage: Jacob’s room at Uni looked as if it had been abandoned in a hurry! But it could have been worse. And the flat kitchen was actually reasonably tidy. Apparently his female flat mates are very organised and keep them in line (very stereotypical I know, but at that age I do think women are more mature and organised on average).

>218 elkiedee: >220 humouress: I have discovered that my iPad is now in Lancaster with Jacob, for the not very good reason that MrSandDune decided to put everything on the hall table into a carrier bag to take with us because he thought it all belonged to Jacob. Jacob does not have an iPad.

Ahir, 2:42pm

Hi Rhian - I did roll up my cake fresh from the oven. I kind of wished for Paul's comments to tell me where I went wrong. I think maybe it was a bit underbaked. We'll try again...

I'm laughing at your packing story; it sounds so typical. When my kids were home from college, we also went through some readjustments.

Ahir, 2:57pm

>222 SandDune: 'Jacob does not have an iPad.' Well, he does now! :0)

Ahir, 3:23pm

>224 humouress: is correct...might be a touch difficult to retrieve it now, so MrSandDune is now on the hook for a new tablet for the Mrs.

The pie beano sounds like fun! And pastry, tetchy evil stuff that it is, is something I refuse to muck about with and buy from the freezer case.

I rewatched the third season's finale, and developed a craving for a pithivier. It's now turbocharged & my Young Gentleman Caller is now instructed to think up a good savory filling to spoil me with.

Ahir, 6:10pm

My eldest has exactly the same idea of packing. We endured it through a few moves at uni and a couple of post-uni apartment moves. My husband and I resolved not to help with moves any more and fortunately she became involved in a long-term relationship so now her partner gets to deal with it. *diabolical laugh*

Ahir, 10:05pm

>223 BLBera: Hahaha I don't see how I could have been of assistance!