The 1977 Book Event

Kaggsy of kaggsysbookishramblings and Simon of stuckinabook host a regular event where a year is chosen and those who participate read a book published in that year. This time around the year is 1977.  I enjoy reading what people post up on their blogs but I have not participated before. No idea why. Other things just seemed to get in the way.

In my last post I stated I was fed up with all of the unread books on my shelves and I have decided to do something about it.  You can read about my plan here (if you are so inclined).  I have to say I am beginning this project with quite a bit of enthusiasm.  I went to and entered the number of books I have on my shelf (1250) and let the wheels begin to turn.  Up popped an old paperback book on my shelf written by Helene Hanff.   Most book lovers will have read her lovely book 84 Charing Cross Road. However my chosen book is one of her lesser known books called Apple of My Eye.


I started it yesterday and am on the last few pages now.  I have loved this story. And guess what??!! It was published in 1977.  What a coincidence.  So I am featuring this book as my entry into the event of books published in 1977. It also appears to be the only book on my shelves published in 1977.

Helene Hanff is a long time New Yorker. In 1976 she was asked by a publisher to write a tourist guide book detailing what a tourist would want to do when visiting New York City.  Well, like a lot of us, who never visit the attractions in our home city, instead opting to travel to see the sights in other parts of the world, Helene is no different.

She is telling her friend Patsy about this project and what on earth is she going to feature in this book.  Patsy also was born and raised in New York and they both start by stating they’d not visited the Statue of Liberty in all their years there.  That is the beginning of many outings they begin in exploring New York. This book is that story.

The book is so much fun to read. They visit all of the well known places, walking to most places or taking buses. They took a taxi once and would only take the underground to get home as one can’t see New York if they are underground.

They visit all of the neighbourhoods on the east and west side of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and talk about the differences of the people who live on each side. They talk about the restaurants they eat in, the people they meet, the history of the places they visit. They talk about the newly built World Trade Centre and dare each other to visit the viewing platform at the top. Remember this is 1977 and things in New York were very different then to what they are now.

They talk about the attitudes towards redevelopment, what they think about the decaying parts of the city and some of the older decrepit buildings.  Their conversations are so amusing. I chuckled out loud a few times as they bantered back and forth with their varying views on this most diverse city.

They took a bus tour into Harlem and when Patsy’s apartment complex next to Central Park was featured as part of the tour with the guide telling visitors incorrectly who lives in it they make it their mission to correct him.

The two of them often had conversations with each other that were totally separate. Helene would chatter away filling Patsy in on the history of certain places and Patsy, not listening would be talking about something completely different at the same time.

If you enjoy books that take place in New York then this one is so much fun.  I also learned a lot about the New York of 40 years ago.  I also have a confession to make. I have travelled extensively in this world of ours but I have never been to New York City. Though it is one of my favourite settings to read about. I have such a romantic notion of what this city is like. I’m sure that bubble would burst if I actually visited the place.

I only wish Helene Hanff had written many books because her writing is wonderful, astute and informative.  I guarantee these two women will brighten your day. Snip20160609_6

A Couple of Books & a New Project

I finished a couple of books I enjoyed very much and did not finish another after 100 pages because I found it frustrating.

The book I loved was The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. A true story.  She and her husband lived in England. They owned a farm they ran as a B & B. An investment her husband made  with a good friend of his went belly up and they lost the lot. They became homeless in their fifties. They bought a couple of cheap sleeping bags and a tent and decided to walk the trail from Devon down through Cornwall ending at Land’s End and then back up the outer side heading towards Lyme Regis.  She had a guidebook by a man she had read and though he hiked much faster than them they achieved their goal.

Snip20180415_1The journey was arduous to say the least. They had no idea what they would do when they finished this project. They had little money, accessing about 30.00 pounds per week. The weather was often terrible, they went without food and lived on two minute noodles. The sleeping bags didn’t keep them warm and they couldn’t afford to stay in campgrounds that had hot showers. They camped wild. Raynor is an excellent writer and I won’t tell you what happened to them but I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this book. Their attitude, friendship and love was heartening. Did I mention the day after they were forced off their property he was diagnosed with a terminal disease? I know! How do people stay sane and cope when life throws all it has at you?

Snip20180415_2The second book I listened to on Audible was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I almost gave up on this book about one third through it. For some reason I persevered and ended up getting sucked into it and really enjoyed it. The ending is a real cracker. I never saw it coming.  Her personality is often debated on the Good Reads debut as being  on the Autism spectrum and whether the author meant for this or not she had the quirkiest personality.  A bright woman with very inappropriate social skills. Though at times I found I quite related to her. She didn’t suffer fools gladly and I liked that about her.  A really fun read if you give yourself time to get into it.

Snip20180415_3Then, once again I fell for the hype and got The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn from the library. I read exactly 101 pages before I thought, “For God’s sake, this is a load of nonsense and she is really starting to bore me.” I gave it the flick and it will return to the library on Tuesday.  A psychologist with agoraphobia who spies on her neighbours all day and drinks way too much.  From reading the blurb on the back of the book, I know someone is supposed to scream and then sinister goings on begin to happen but by page 101 the woman still hadn’t screamed and I was sick of hearing about her lifestyle confined to her house. 101 pages? Really? I didn’t need that level of detail to learn about agoraphobia.

While contemplating whether to finish this book or not I decided to look up my library on Search for TravellinPenguin if you want to visit my library.

What a mess my lists of books were in. More than 1000 Penguin books still looked at me from the website. As I have sold them all and quite a few of the other books on the list I decided to delete the whole library and begin again. I still have close to 1000 books on the shelves. Actually a bit over that number. Library Thing has a new app where one can scan the isbn codes with a smart phone and magically they end up listed on librarything’s page. I loved it. So shelf by shelf, I pulled the books off and scanned all of them into the phone.  I still have a few shelves to do today when I will be finished with it all. I have a few Penguin series that all have isbn codes on the back and it is lovely to have a written list of all of the book titles available.

The advantage of pulling all the books off the shelves is for one, the shelves were dusted and cleaned and secondly I found books I forgot I had. Lovely, interesting books.  I had a good talk with myself. Why on earth do I continue to get books from the library when I have all of these beautiful stories awaiting on my own shelves? I think the acronym is TBR. To Be Read!!  Why am I succumbing to books like The Woman in the Window when I have far better written stories here at home. So I have decided that from now on I am:

  1. Going to read my own books for the remainder of the year. No buying books, no library.
  2. I will then remove those books from the house. Move them into new homes. (Unless they are sentimental favourites like Little Women or Black Beauty from my childhood. I do not need 1000 plus books in my house. I am getting old. Downsize is the word of the day.

Then I thought-How will I ever choose what to read first? They all look so good. So I hatched a plan:

3. I will enter the numbers of books I own into and will     choose the book from the list on Librarything.  If I choose a book I find out I really don’t want to read and I can’t bear the thought then I will sell it on eBay or the second hand bookshop in town or give it away. The rule is once it leaves the shelf it is never to return. (Unless it is part of a set I want to keep, like the Penguin sets.)

That is the plan. I am feeling quite enthused about it so stay tuned. I have some very oddball books on my shelf. Books that are very old I rescued from the tip shop. Some recent ones that the marketing techniques of the publishers talked me into buying. Some that have gorgeous covers I couldn’t leave behind.  It will be an interesting challenge.

I also need to get back to the Deal Me In short story challenge as well as I do enjoy picking those stories with a deck of cards.

Stay tuned. This might be a wild ride. bluejumper

I have been….

Snip20160609_6I saw this meme from A Literary Odyssey and as I’m having a hard time getting organised to write a post after the past couple of months I thought I would try it. Consider it a starter for more posts to come.

I have been:

Only little notes to myself but I begin attending my writing group today so I am hoping to get back into the swing of things.  I am looking forward to some old structured activities in my life.
I have read two books this week. A Salty Path which I loved and will talk about more soon and Eleanor Oliphant is Fine which is a quirky tale I listened to from I will talk about this book also.  I just picked up three books from the library yesterday which I will also share very soon.  In my U3A Play Reading Class we will begin Arsenic and Old Lace next Tuesday afternoon.
I haven’t listened to music in a long time. Maybe I need to. I listen to audible books every chance I get and when I wake up in the middle of the night I listen to the ABC radio programs. I hear some interesting interviews in the middle of the night along with all the other insomniacs across Australia
I am addicted to BBC First on Foxtel. If it’s not a British drama series I probably won’t see it. I shy away from the news quite often and immerse myself in the sweeping vistas of the British countryside. Shetland is one of my favourite programs at the moment. I am waiting to see if Vera has a new series that I haven’t seen too.
I look at quite a few new blog posts every morning with my coffee.  I enjoy seeing what everyone is reading and doing and they inspire me to get off my big behind and look for new things to interest me.
I’m in a photography club and I am learning Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop in order to complete the monthly challenges that are theme based each month. I have learned so much from the members of this club and watch a lot of You Tube videos that are instructional and so very useful.
I have been feeling quite flat since returning from our big trip and know it is a combination of having lost my mother in February and then completing such a huge, challenging African trip in March.  I am home now and my brain is digesting all that has happened in the past two months. The reason I have been holing up at home and not been “out there” too much. I am starting to emerge from the shell though.
Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary is holding their Quiz Night in early June and I have bought tickets for a table of 8. All of the money raised will go to their wildlife hospital they have up and running now and it will be a hilarious night out. Our table is filled with close friends who are participating and it will be a great night of laughs and fun.
I am wishing I could turn on the news one day and Donald Trump wasn’t the President of the USA.  I get so tired of him and hearing about him.
Being at home. It is warm and safe and it is full of love, security and animals. I love having a different animal in my lap every time I sit down though sitting in a chair with two cats and two dogs is a bit tough at times.
This post has kick started my interest again in blogging and I will return soon.

Best Intentions- Africa continued

With starting times to most days at 5:30 am, long days on the road and not finishing with even longer buffet dinners at lodges there was no time for writing on this blog. We were also exhausted at the end of each day and internet connections were dodgy at best.

We arrived home Easter Sunday night about 10:00 pm and although this trip was incredibly beautiful, challenging, often confronting and glorious we are very happy to be home. I will now attempt to catch up with the myriad of photos taken and put some of the highlights here during the next couple of weeks or so.

I am sharing another Namibia day here with photos from a living museum we visited. The day was hot and dusty and the people we met here were so friendly and eager to share their way of life with us. Here are some photos.

This village was a display of life as a bushman.
She explained how the various local plant life is used for medicinal purposes and how they work. Another tribesman translated for her.
We were treated to a method to light a fire. It was amazing how fast the fire started and how quickly they could make it larger.
The people then shared a dance of greeting for us. 
The dance continued. 
Outside of the museum we gathered together to have our lunch which we carried with us most days to eat in the desert. This guy helped out with the dishes. He is earning money to study at university in Windhoek. He wants to work as a tour guide and speaks four languages including German. Lovely man.


This is the lodge were checked in later that day.
Later that day we went on a desert tour to look for the desert elephants. We came across this old guy.
The desert elephants are different to the ones we saw elsewhere. They are tall and this one was reportedly about 45  years old. It is incredible how they survive in the heat of this desert. 
While touring this desert we came across this common form of transport out here.
On the way back to the lodge were were treated with our first sighting of a giraffe in the distance.
A glorious Namibian desert sunset. This land is truly spectacular.

Going up the west coast of Namibia

I have come down with a sore throat and a cold so no energy at the end of the day to write anything. So I am doing some highlights from the last couple of days. This trip is full on. Up at 5 or 6 am, in the truck and moving about 60 to 90 minutes later after breakfast.  The days are long, the activities are interesting and we fall into our beds at night after showering off all of the dust. Here are the highlights of the last two days.

Sundowner. We drove across the desert to a spot near rocks to watch the sun set over the desert. We passed a springbok.


Our shadow across the desert floor._N3A9406

Our guide sets up a table with bubbly and nibbles. We toast the sunset. The rocks are beautiful in the light._N3A9416

The next day we get our first blown out tyre in the absolute middle of nowhere. The three guys on board helped change it. Then a couple of hours later the spare blew out. Fortunately we were close enough to our destination where a tyre supply shop was called and they sent someone to put a new tire on the bus and also give us two new spare ones. Thank goodness we weren’t in the remote desert area when the second one happened. We travelled about six hours through the desert yesterday.


This is where we were when the tire blew out. A couple of ladies decided to take a walk. _N3A9440

Changing the tire.


One of our stops was at a cheetah sanctuary.  When cheetahs attack cattle or sheep the farmers like to shoot them. There is a movement under way to trap and relocate them that is helping to save these beautiful animals.  These animals were a family to a cheetah who had been injured and now lives in the sanctuary._N3A9515_N3A9532

We continue our rattly, bone shaking journey through the desert. They have not had rain here since 2010.


Today saw us on a harbour cruise in the Atlantic ocean on the west coast of Namibia. I would tell you the name of the city but I can’t pronounce it and I’m too tired to look it up. On the west coast towards the north of the country.

This is lucky.  A few seals jump up onto the boat as we leave the harbour. He is a young seal who does not appear to have a mother and the crew see him regularly and help him out a bit.  He hangs around the harbour but he is also able to cope in the wild.


This pelican also landed on our boat. He came out of nowhere and startled all of us on the boat. There were only 8 guests on the boat and 3 crew.
Coming back into port. We saw cormorants (landed on the boat), gulls, dolphins and thousands of seals.

Passing by flocks of flamingos along the lagoon that leads to the Atlantic Ocean.

After 3 hours on board the boat, more champagne, raw oysters, nibbles and small pastries we transferred to the dune rides. Modern SUV’s took us through incredibly high dunes. We travelled about 120 kms along the beach and sand dunes. Again stopped and were watered and fed with incredible  food.

The national park- remote and so much sand._N3A9795




We saw Ostriches going up and over the sand dunes. We saw quite a few animals in the sand dune area.

Well that is a quick summary of the past couple of days. Having a cold, long hours in the heat and more activities in two days than I do in two months have us resting as much as possible in the evenings. Tomorrow we are off again. I need to consult our paperwork and map to see where. Snip20160609_6

Africa- Day 2: Namibia

Today we travelled from Windhoek west through the Namib Desert to Sossusvlei. This amazing desert has been in existence for some 43 million years and its current landscape has remained unchanged for the last two million years. We were in the 4 wheel drive bus for about 6 hours. The road was mostly dirt, full of potholes and had we not been belted in, would probably have hit our heads on the ceiling. What a rough ride. The land is harsh. I saw a meerkat running along a dusty roadside carrying dead prey in its mouth. Not sure what it was. We saw a jackal running as a solitary figure across the stark land. We stopped under a few trees to have a lunch that we put together ourselves. Our guide’s wife baked a lovely spaghetti lasagna type dish and we had baked beans, salad, tea and coffee and a large pack of biscuits for dessert. As we ate our lunch in the welcome shade of the trees we faced a fairly large hillside of rocks. At the top of the rocks we could see baboons sitting across the skyline and we could hear them barking. Angry barking sounds. Nearby there was a skeleton head of a baboon. All teeth were still intact.
Travellers along the road ranged from small cars through to four wheel tour buses. We also passed a donkey cart with a singular man and three little donkeys pulling it. One would not want to get lost in such a place. Hot, dusty, mountainous, eerie, stark with dangerous animals behind every rock. It was always good to get going again.
We arrived at our lodge at 3:30 and the cool showers were a welcome relief. Enjoy that photos. Try not to sweat onto your keyboard.

Our Vehicle_N3A9286

Six hours on these roads.


The donkey cart we passed_N3A9271

These birds are weavers_N3A9255

More road photos_N3A9219

Having lunch under the trees_N3A9218

A rock agana (lizard)_N3A9206

This is a Weaver’s nest. The weavers fly into it from below. More than 1000 birds can be in it. They build the next so eagles will roost above the next. When the snake climbs into the weaver’s next they all make a lot of noise. The eagle hears the weaver’s alarm calls and catches the snake. HE then lifts the snake high into the air, dropping it, catching it, dropping it, catching it until it dies. He then brings it back to earth when he eats it. Clever eh?


More beautiful scenery. _N3A9181


The view from our hotel room now we have stopped. We will be here two nights.




Wildlife Sanctuary- Namibia

We had an extremely long hot day today and I am really tired tonight. We have an early start so I won’t write a great deal today but I will share some basic photos I took. Haven’t had time to touch any of them up in Lightroom or Photoshop but you’ll get the point.

We visited N/a’an ku sê Activity Centre today. It is a wildlife sanctuary for injured and orphaned animals that can no longer live in the wild. There are strict rules around visiting these animals. You must be on  a tour. You can’t take selfies with them. You must follow the directions of the guide and they remove you from the tour. The compounds the animals are in are huge. You can’t see but only a tiny part. They are fed according to how they would eat in the wild. They only give them treats when the tour does the rounds. They are treated as wild animals with all the respect that involves. We felt privileged to spend time with such magnificent animals that have had a rough time in life. They are now happy and comfortable. I hope you enjoy the photos.


You can see here how massive this wildlife sanctuary is._N3A8979This is the vehicle we rode in.



These wild dogs were beautiful. Their coats were very colourful._N3A8984


These wild cats are solitary animals. There were only two in the compound. This one got upset when the second one sauntered up to see what treats were on offer._N3A9018


This beautiful cheetah only had three legs. Caught in a trap years ago, she was rescued and brought to the sanctuary. She is very old now. _N3A9044

The baboons were very funny.  They loved their treats and spending time with us. They looked us over pretty good.



There were three babies playing king of the mountain on this stump, knocking each other off, playing like kittens do. Jumping into the air, running then climbing back on the stump._N3A9066


There were two leopards in this compound and both came up to see us. The guide threw it a piece of chicken and this guy caught it with his paws._N3A9101


We weren’t allowed to get out of the truck with the lions as they have been relocated here recently and are very wild and dangerous.  They were relocated when the farmer decided that should happen rather than shooting them after they attacked domestic stock (cattle).  Very dangerous the farmer thought a sanctuary was a better place for them and allows them to live their lives out in this very large area safely. They have a couple of miles of area to room in the compounds.  We stayed in the truck as they get upset if people are on the ground walking near them. _N3A9131

This was her partner.  A beautiful guy. He was so laid back. Wasn’t even interested in eating much of the chicken treats.


The Penguin enjoying a bit of lunch.


(All photos taken by PSParks-The Travellin Penguin- copyright)