A Bit of a Rethink

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His descriptions of the British people who run BnBs in the 90s are very funny.

I’ve been in a bit of a reading and blogging slump and have finally thought it through enough to come out the other side.  This blog was started in 2011 so it is almost 10 years old and I must say I am feeling quite stale with what I’ve been reading and writing.  When I think back to the books I get the most excitement from and just really enjoy I always come back to travel writing.  Travel writing isn’t written about that much.  Most of the bloggers I follow read the Bookers, the Stellas, the Pulitzers, the popular books, current events, politics, global issues and authors from the first half of the 20th century. While I enjoy following these posts they are books I don’t always get too enthused about, except maybe authors of old.  Modern authors, though on my radar, aren’t always authors I enjoy reading. I think too many of them try to be too clever,  politically correct to the extreme , using gimmicks that try to outdo everyone else. (Okay, you don’t need to agree with me and I will still like you).

I like adventure. I like a good story. I’m too old for too much naval gazing and deep and meaningfuls. I feel too old to do much more about changing the world from outside of my own domain. I’m leaving it to the younger generation. I have spent years writing letters to politicians, working in unions over worker’s rights, volunteering for various causes. I am tired now. Being in my 70’s I want to back down and enjoy what is around me more.

My interests in life are friends, animals, nature, photography and travel. I enjoy a lot of books that surround these subjects.  Having been socially isolated for several weeks now along with the rest of the world, these topics are continually rising to the surface.

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This recently arrived and looks to be a gentle, motivating book about this topic. It has literary quotes in it too from well know authors that I love

I’m supposed to be in Sydney today. I should be spending a day with a fellow photographer friend talking about the performance I saw on Saturday night at the Opera House.  That same friend and I had booked a trip to Italy, Slovenia and Croatia and should be leaving in a couple of weeks.  Sadly all of that has gone by the wayside and I now spend time here housebreaking a Jack Russell puppy who thinks he knows everything and argues with me every chance he gets.  (Lucky for him he is such a cutie)

It is odd how quickly things can change.  On the other hand I have been enjoying the quietness of being at home all the time. It’s given me a chance to buckle down and sort through closets and bookshelves. I even did a cull of some books and moved them on.

I haven’t been reading much though I did start the book Bruny by Heather Rose that was

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Thank you to a friend who sent me this. I’m almost half way through it and have smirked a couple of times.

kindly sent to me by a friend in Queensland. I am enjoying it. It is political but I know who all the characters are as it takes place in Tasmania.  The author isn’t at all careful about not revealing, shaming and almost naming the politicians this story seems based on.

But….. I keep going back to travel books in my heart. People walking, cycling, motorbiking to the corners of the earth. I love the people they meet, the experiences they have. The suspense of tricky situations that sometimes arise. I love road trips more than any other kind of travel, both real and virtual. I want to be with them on that bike, in that backpack so I am giving all the books I feel I “should” be reading the flick and focusing on travels. The Travellin’ Penguin didn’t get his name from reading best sellers.

I’m hoping the enthusiasm will come back to my moods when it comes to pages between covers.  I am also listening to more podcasts about books and interviews with authors regularly so I am not going to be completely in the dark regarding modern times.

So, without further adieu the Penguin and I are going to get our virtual passports and spend time doing more out in the world. I’ve scattered some photos throughout of the Dapper Penguinplaces and people I plan on spending time with.

Shakespeare Sonnets

ScreenshotIt’s time for a quick catch up. I abandoned the Alphabet book sharing from my shelves as I found I was having to spend too much time online either researching the authors or looking up photos of the books plus writing about the book. During lock down there are more phone conversations of people I usually catch up with, emails to friends and relatives overseas, book blogs to read, books to read. All in all I was just on screens too much and it was getting to me.

It felt too much like a job and that meant stress to get everything done regarding a simple blog. So I just packed it in.

One thing that has just started that I am enjoying is the Shakespeare Sonnets sharing from Tim, a Doctor of Philosophy and assistant manager at Fullers Book store. As the store is closed it isn’t possible to visit though you can pick up books at the front door if needed. Tim discusses one sonnet a day and it will take three months to get through the 120 he plans.  The online group has the book Sonnets which is a Pelican Shakespeare edited by John Hollander. Each day we read our one page sonnet and then receive a discussion email from Tim.  It has been fun and doesn’t require a lot of time.

In the meantime I continue to read blogs that are still very active and hope everyone is remaining in good health.  Until next time….Hawaiian

The i Has it today.


Dapper Penguin
Happy Easter


It certainly doesn’t feel like an Easter weekend.  With all of us being so socially isolated it seems as though one day just blends into another.  At first it was quite nice to have lots of time to do all those things we have on our lists of things to do, uninterrupted,  but now it just feels very routine and quite boring and I find I need to push myself harder and harder to not lapse into being a complete idle sloth. Enough of that.


I have chosen some ‘comfort’ reads for today. Two are by American authors of quite considerable repute and the third is a

little first edition from 1929, dust jacket intact and all.

So let’s get on with it:


Screenshot 6The Illustrated Emerson Essay and Poems.  I think Emerson was an important writer for students to know about, especially his essay on Self Reliance. What could be more important than young people knowing that it is up to them to achieve and succeed and not blame others or circumstances on coping with everything that happens to them.  I have always felt strongly about this.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was an American essayist and poet. One of the young nation’s first recognised public intellectuals, he championed the writing of Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman and opined on everything from the evils of slavery to the glories of solitude. The publisher states “His essays such a ‘Self Reliance’ argued for a distinctly American style of philosophical individualism, untethered to hidebound traditions and prejudices.”


The book is illustrated throughout such as a Folio book might be with many wood cut illustrations of life at the time he walked the earth.

Screenshot 5The next book that follows on from this one is a beautiful copy of The Illustrated Walden or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau. Some of his well known quotes included “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”; “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately”; “Books are the treasured wealth of the world”, “Our life is frittered away by detail.”   There isn’t much there I disagree with.

This book is full of colourful illustrations from his time living at Walden. He built his small cabin on the shore of Walden Pond in 1845. For the next two years, he lived there as simply as possible, learning to eliminate the unnecessary material and spiritual details that intrude upon human happiness.. He described his experiences in Walden, using vivid forceful prose that transforms his reflections on nature into richly evocative metaphors. In a world obsessed with technology and luxury, this American classic about seeking “the essential facts of life” seems more relevant today than ever.

The third book I am featuring today is If Dogs Could Write by E.V. Lucas. Published by Methuen and Co. Ltd London in 1929. E.V. Lucas lived from June 1868 to June 1938 in England.

Wikipedia states:

E.V. Lucas

Edward Verrall Lucas, (11/12 June 1868 – 26 June 1938) was an English humorist, essayist, playwright, biographer, publisher, poet, novelist, short story writer and editor.

Born to a Quaker family in Eltham, on the fringes of London, Lucas began work at the age of sixteen, apprenticed to a bookseller. After that he turned to journalism, and worked on a local paper in Brighton and then on a London evening paper. He was commissioned to write a biography of Bernard Barton. the Quaker poet. This led to further commissions, including the editing of the works of Charles Lamb.

Screenshot 4Lucas joined the staff of the humorous magazine Punch, in 1904, and remained there for the rest of his life. He was a prolific writer, most celebrated for his short essays, but he also produced verses, novels and plays.

This particular book is the third of the little books about animals which Mr. Lucas had issued, the others being “The More I see of Men….” a collection of essays on dogs, and “Out of a Clear Sky” a bird book.  Many of his books and essays were about nature and animals.


The principal essay is nominally about the work of an Aberdeen Terrier who analyses the relationship of dog and owner.

When I think of the title of this book I wonder what my own two dogs would write if they could.  Our 15 year old terrier Molly who has seen it all would probably have quite a bit of wise things to say we haven’t thought of yet. But as I look at Ollie, now chasing his tail on my bed, I doubt he would do much more than jot down a few stick figures of dogs, legs protruding from their heads, standing beside a triangle house with a smiling sun overhead.  He has a lot to learn.

If you have pets what do you think they would write about?  I hope this post makes you smile today.

F, G, H books

All I can say about the past couple of days is….The best laid plans…  So we continue with a shortened version of these three books so I can catch up.

The alphabet books from my shelves continue.


Screenshot 5 This is an Australian book published in 2019 by Hardie Grant books, Melbourne and compiled by Rebecca Huntley and Sarah MacDonald. The Full Catastrophe is quite relevant in today’s climate. This is a book of memoir, essay and anecdotes of experiences of various personalities who recall times in their life that were so catastrophic at the time it is almost funny.  It is described as “We’ve all had days when if we didn’t laugh, we’d cry. Whether it’s domestic drama, career cockup or just a run of the mill disaster, we’ve all been there-no matter who we are. In this hilarious and moving collection well-known Australians from all walks of life share their stories as a kind of mass therapy.

An excellent read for times like we are going through now.


Screenshot 4Now to something a bit more classic. The wonderful author Collette, Gigi and the Cat. In these two superb stories of the politics of love, Collette is at her witty obstructive best. Gigi is being educated in the skills of the courtesan: to choose cigars, to eat lobster, to enter a world where a woman’s chief weapon is her body. However when it comes to the question of Gaston Lachaille, very rich and very bored, Gigi does not want to obey the rules. In The Cat, a wonderful story of burgeoning sexuality and blossoming love, an exquisite strong minded Russian Blue is struggling for master of Alain with his seductive fiancée, Camille. (blurb on the back cover).

I picked a couple of Collette books up from the shelves at the Tip Shop as I had not read her before and several people who I follow on blogs really love her.

Collette was born Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette in January 1873 and died in August 1954 in Paris. She was married three times. She was a French writer of the first half of the 20th century whose best novels, largely concerned with the pains and pleasures of love, are remarkable for their command of sensual description. Her greatest strength as a writer is an exact sensory evocation of sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and colours of her world. (Brittanica)


Screenshot 3The final feature for today is an interesting graphic novel called Heimat: A German Family Album by Nora Krug.  I picked this up as it is such a beautiful edition and the illustrations are wonderful.  I will share a couple of them here.

It was a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography, V & A Book Illustration Award and shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. The author goes back to explore the time of the Holocaust and her family’s role at that time.  It is a hard book to describe as there are so many illustrations.

The Guardian describes her as: a professor in the Illustration Program at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. Her drawings and visual narratives have appeared in publications including The New York Times, the Guardian and le Monde Diplomatique, and in a number of anthologies.

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This post has been short and sweet and hopefully we’ll be back on track to continue this little project.  I hope everyone has a good Easter despite the social isolation of folk around the world.  At least maybe we can look forward to a bit of chocolate.

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I hope everyone gets a chance to get out over the weekend.

English Journeys by Penguin- 2009


thumbnail2When I was in the midst of collecting as many vintage Penguin books as I could I also included collecting their older and anniversary series Boxed Sets. At one time I had 37 of the boxed sets.  As most of my Penguin Library went to auction a few years ago I did keep most of the Boxed sets and all of the cerise Penguins that are Travel and Adventure. They are very hard to find these days and I still really love them.

thumbnail7The set I am featuring today for the letter E is the English Penguin Journeys.  The English Journeys come in a set of 20 numbered shorter books of around 100 pages each.  They are excerpts from the original book that would have been published in the past.

thumbnail6The set was published in a box in 2009 and I noticed now there are quite a few second hand sets on eBay and Abe books for sale for reasonable prices if anyone is interested. They are nice little books to pop into a bag to read when out and about or sitting for a time in a waiting room somewhere.

I particularly love the covers on these books. Today I will share those covers and give you a list of the 20 titles. I continue to come across these books in op and second hand shops but they seem to have been separated from their set and are sold cheaply individually.  I imagine I will be hanging on to these for some time to come.

thumbnail5Here is the list:

  1. Voices of Akenfield by Ronald Blythe
  2. The Wood by John Stewart Collis
  3. From Dover to Wen by William Cobbett
  4. The Pleasures of English Food by Alan Davidson
  5. Through England on a Side Saddle
  6. Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard and other Poems
  7. A Shropshire Lad by A.E. Housman
  8. Cathedrals and Castles by Henry James
  9. Walks in the Wheatfields by Richard Jeffries
  10. The Beauties of a Cottage Garden by Gertrude Jekyll


  1. Country Churches by Simon Jenkins
  2. A Wiltshire Diary by Francis Kilvert
  3. Some Country Houses and Their Owners by James Lees-Milne
  4. The Clouded Mirror by L.T.C. Rolt
  5. Let Us Now Praise Famous Gardens by Vita Sackville-West
  6. One Green Field by Edward Thomas
  7. English Folk Songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams and A. L. Lloyd
  8. Country Lore and Legends by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
  9. Birds of Selborne by Gilbert White
  10. Life at Grasmere by Dorothy and William Wordsworth




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D is the letter of the day today.

I’m pretending I’m in Hawaii today.

Hobart is presenting us with another drizzly, cloudy day but the rain on the color bond roof sounded nice during the night. One of the things I have noticed during these days of self isolation is the amount of people I’ve never seen walking past our house. People of all ages with dogs, without dogs, waving at Ollie and I in the yard. Who ARE these people? Evidently neighbours within our community who work during the day and are now at home. The foot traffic is quite remarkable while there is a definite decrease in the car traffic.  These times are presenting all kinds of changes now.

But…. on with the books.


*1.  The first book I am going to share from my shelf is one I found in a sad little Op shop that I couldn’t leave behind. I have quite a collection of dog books published from the late 1800s to no later than 1955. I collect them not so much for the stories but for the illustrations. Cecil Aldin is my favourite but I have also loved and owned several Albert Payson Terhune (Lad series) whose books I grew up with. Real Tales of Real Dogs comes to mind and I still have my mother’s childhood copy.

The book is Australian and called The Day of the Dingo (1955 published by Thomas Nelson  & Sons who published many children’s books) by John Kiddell.  I can find little information about Mr Kiddell anywhere. I am hoping that some older Australian born readers might shed some light on him for me. He has several books for sale on Abe books and though he seemed to cater for a young readers market the illustrations by Neave Parker drew my attention to this one. I am assuming Neave Parker is British but can’t swear to it. He spent most of his life working at the Natural History Museum in London reconstructing dinosaurs. Most of his art work is in that field as well but he did draw illustrations of other animals for books. He lived from 1910 to 1951.  Again there are art auctions online who represent his work but little biographical information about him. I will simply share the illustrations from this book and you can decide for yourself. I may spend more time doing online research to see if I can find out more about these two people.


**2. Next on the list is: Drawn From Memory by Ernest H. Shephard (Penguin books 6387563._UY427_SS427_1957, reprinted 1975). Ernest Howard Shepherd was born in 1879 in London. He was educated at St Paul’s School; and studied art at the Heatherleys and Royal Academy Schools. He had his first picture exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1901, and began drawing for Punch in 1907. During the war he served in the Royal Artillery and after the war he began illustrating books – especially children’s books. Among his more famous illustrations are those for Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows. He was awarded the O.B.E. in 1972.

The book represents his childhood memories during the 1880s. In words and drawings he uncannily recalls a horse-drawn London where a penny was wealth and the fire at Whiteley’s the event of the year. A kindlier, less austere view of Victorian England emerges from these recollections of the Jubilee, of bathing at Eastbourne and hop picking in Kent, of the Drury Lane Pantomime and aunts and illnesses, of hansom cabs and pea soup fogs. It was a world where the spirit of Charles Dickens walked. He died March, 1976 in London. (Penguin)

9781925498936***3.  After talking about a couple of books of interest to children I am going to walk down a different path here with one of my all time favourite books. I only need to say two words. George Orwell. No, not 1984 as that while his most famous book, is probably the least favourite book of his as I am not a big dystopian fan though I do appreciate the meaning behind it and how relevant his writing remains.

My favourite books of his are his memoir/auto-biographical books. Burmese Days, Homage to Catalonia, The Road to Wigan Pier and this one, my favourite, Down and Out in Paris and London. I’ve read Animal Farm a couple of times and seen the play years ago but it broke my heart and I can’t read it again.

Orwell was born as Eric Arthur Blair in June 1903 in Motihari, India. He died in January 1950 at the too young age of 46 in London of tuberculosis.  He was such a prolific novelist, essayist, journalist and critic.  I can’t help but think of how much more he would have blessed us with had he not died so young.

While 1984 was the last book of his life, Down and Out in Paris and London was his first book, written in 1933, when he was not yet 30 yrs of age. It is one of the greatest accounts of life in the underclass; of being hard up and hungry, of sleeping in seedy hostels and working in squalid restaurants. (publisher notes)
One can’t help but feel and smell the poverty in this book while reading it and it very likely is one on my list to read again.
Well, now it is just noon and I have the rest of the day ahead of me.  I should go walk Ollie or he will drive us all mad but the wind is gale force at the moment and I never walk under gum trees during a strong wind. Maybe later. I will have to find something else to do to ensure boredom does not set in. Until tomorrow…
Just for fun, What book did you hold in your hand today?


C is for ….. The April Challenge

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Loving autumn

Today has started off as one of those chilly, cloudy days. Our Japanese maple tree has turned a very bright red and is beautiful.  The leaves have started to fall and drift to the ground much to Ollie’s delight and soon enough will be bare. Then I will be able to see the small memorial bells hanging from its branches designating the lives of our past pets. I often hear their gentle tinkling when outside with Ollie and it makes me think of happy times with our previous generations of animals we loved.

Today I am featuring three quite different books from my shelf beginning with the letter C.  Off we go…


*1.  The Chosen (1966)  by Chaim Potok (17.2.1929 – 23.7.2002). I read this book and its chosentwo sequels The Promise and My Name is Asher Lev back in the 1970s and have never forgotten them. Growing up a Hasidic Jewish boy to man in New York City I loved this trilogy.

Chaim Potok was an American author and rabbi. His first book The Chosen, was listed on The New York Times’ best seller list for 39 weeks and sold more than 3,400,000 copies. Potok received a rigorous religious and secular education at Yeshiva University, a school very similar to the fictional Hirsch Seminary and College in The Chosen. … As an author, he is best known for exploring the interplay between religious Judaism and the broader secular world, a fundamental tension in his own life. (Wikipedia)

The book itself is about two Jewish boys who become friends. Danny comes from the strict Hasidic sect that keeps him bound in centuries of orthodoxy. Reuben is brought up by a father patiently aware of the 20th century. As six million Jews go to their deaths in Europe and the state of Israel first draws breath, their friendship is battered by conflicting loyalties and beliefs. This is a book I will always keep on my shelf as I enjoyed it so much.

I love this cover.

**2.  Cane by Jean Toomer (Lived 6.12.1894 to 30.3.1967 – A Penguin Classic Originally published 1923, reprinted 2019).  Jean Toomer’s Cane is a masterpiece in American modernist literature because of its distinctive structure and style, and one of the most significant works identified with the Harlem Renaissance. It is a story told through a series of vignettes. It uses poetry, prose and play like dialogue to create a window into the varied lives of African Americans living in the rural South and urban North during a time when Jim Crow laws pervaded and racism reigned. Flouting the stereotypes associated with African Americans during the period, Toomer’s novel portrayed its characters in an accurate and entirely human way breaking the mould and laying the groundwork for how they are represented in literature. (Penguin)

***3. Now going from New York and Washington DC to Sydney I came across this bookcabs somewhere or other. Its title appealed to me as I have had a couple of interesting experiences in taxis when I was working on the National Speech & Hearing Association Council in Melbourne. This book is a compilation of various experiences written by the late Sydney Morning Herald columnist James McClelland. James McClelland was born in Melbourne in 1915 and studied at both Melbourne and Sydney Universities. He survived a brief political career as a minister in the Whitlam government to become the first chief judge of the Land and Environment Court of NSW in 1980 and 1984. He described himself as a ‘child of the Great Depression and a fugitive from religion and Marxism…a former lawyer without illusions about lawyers; a former judge without illusions about the judiciary and a present journalist without illusions about the media.”  He was writing for the Sydney Morning Herald as a columnist at the time of this writing before his death in January 1999.

He described this book as “A collection of my weekly columns in the Herald that contains only a couple of pieces that deal with conversations with cabbies. Nevertheless the title is justified by the contributions that these purveyors of truth, falsehood and scuttlebutt have made over the years to my nodding acquaintance with what is going on in the world.

The title of the book may be regarded as a metaphor for keeping one’s feet on the ground.”

I found this to be an interesting read as I read it in my earlier days of life in Australia.  I have not revisited it and have no idea if it still holds up to this interest.

There we have it. Now to fill in the rest of the day with something interesting during these days of self isolation.  I can hear Mr. Penguin saying “Ollie, NO!” so it may be time to get him out for a walk. Ollie, Not Mr. Penguin.

Dapper Penguin
Tomorrow is Letter D.

B is for….. The April Challenge 2020

It’s a rainy day in Hobart and the news reported this morning that we should be prepared to be stopped by either the police or the defence forces if we venture out in our car. We will be asked where we are going and if it isn’t essential,  fines may be imposed or we might spend up to six months in jail.  I wonder where they will put everyone if everyone goes to jail.  Mr. Penguin and I are getting into a pretty steady routine. Books, garden work, Ollie exercise, animal care of two dogs and three indoor cats, writing, studying and a bit of Netflix. I had to take Ollie for a long walk yesterday because a 7 month Jack Russell goes ballistic without exercise.  Our local pub, the Cascade Pub is selling takeaway meals from Wednesday to Sunday and we took advantage of that last night, to have a break in routine and to support them. It is quite interesting how one can establish new routines if only they are open to change. I must say I am enjoying the amount of free time not having to run around and quiet interludes when I want to read. I hope everyone out there stays healthy and keeps an open mind about these things.

So onward and upward, keep calm and all that…..today we talk about B books.


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 1*  Barbed Wire  and Cherry Blossoms (2016) by Anita Heiss (b. 1968 Australian). I acquired this book only recently when a couple of Aussie book bloggers spoke highly of her work.

Dr Anita Heiss is the author of non-fiction, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, poetry, social commentary and travel articles. She is a regular guest at Writers festivals and travels internationally performing her work and lecturing on Aboriginal Literature. She is a lifetime ambassador of the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and a proud member of the Waradjuri Nation of Central New South Wales.  (information taken from her web page)

The blurb on the back describes it: “Over 1000 Japanese soldiers break out of the No. 12 Prisoner of War compound on the fringes of Cowra, New South Wales. In the carnage, hundreds are killed, many are recaptured and some take their own lives rather than suffer the humiliation of ongoing defeat. But one soldier, Hiroshi, manages to escape. 

At nearby Erambie Station, an Aboriginal mission, banjo Williams, father of five and proud man of his community discovers Hiroshi distraught and on the run. Unlike most of the townsfolk who dislike and distrust the Japanese, the people of Erambie choose compassion and offer Hiroshi refuge. Mary, Banjo’s daughter, is intrigued by the softly spoken stranger, and charged with his care. “  This is their story.

Screenshot2** Between Mexico and Poland (2002) by Australian/American author Lily Brett.  I have written about her books in the past as she is one of my favourite authors. I especially enjoy her biographical tales of growing up in Melbourne with parents who survived Auschwitz. She is now a long time New Yorker residing in New York City.

This book refers to her time in Mexico and Poland. The blurb on the back states, ” In Mexico, she tries to write a novel, while the toilet explodes in the house, the gardener hoses her notes and the young maid questions her about plastic surgery. In Poland she retraces the steps of her much loved character from Too Many Men, Ruth Rothwx, and finds herself surprised to hear Ruth’s words coming out of her own mouth. In between she writes for the first time about the devastation of losing her New York home to fire and having to rebuild not only a life but a history. She also offers over insights into her adopted city New York, both before and after the tragic events of September 11. “

There is always quite a bit of humour and some cynicism in her books that I think make her an interesting woman.

coffee gets cold3*** Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (2019). Okay, I admit it freely. I bought this book because I loved the cover illustration. I loved the title and I loved that it is by a Japanese writer which always gives an interesting experience.  I really do like everything about the Japanese culture. In this book it states: “In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a cafe which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

We meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the cafe’s time travelling offer, in order to make use of the cafe’s time travelling offer, in order to confront the lover who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has begun to fade, see their sister one last time and meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the cafe, and finally they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold. 

The author explores the age old question of what would you change if you could travel back in time.

Well that is another day completed.  I might add before I get too far into this April project that I tend to buy books that I have a feeling for when I handle them. I know, I know. Sound a bit silly but I have never been one to follow the award winners, the popular, the books everyone is talking about.  I get burned out quickly from books that have too much hype around them, no matter how good they may be.  I like stories, authors, characters that go to fascinating countries, have remarkable experiences, have a different point of view to mine (unless they are right wing fundamentals which I won’t touch or I should say I’ll listen to them but only once and usually dismiss the craziness of most of them. Think American Republican Party or gun control lobbies. But I digress.)

I like to scrounge through the shelves of both new and second hand book stores and look for something maybe really old or very different or something I’ve never heard of. I’ve been known to go to the library, walk down a row of shelves with eyes closed and pull something off the shelf and not look at it until I get home.  I’m sure there are other bookish friends out there who know exactly what I’m talking about.  So until tomorrow.

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C — you  tomorrow.  Hahah – joke.


30 Days Hath April’s Books

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Keep Reading People- We’ll get through this.

I was reading blog posts today and I have noticed there are a few challenges happening while people are stuck at home. Booker Talk who lives in Wales, is one of my favourite bloggers to follow and I noticed a challenge she is going to do during April about blogging. I am looking forward to reading her daily posts for the month.

I fail miserably at challenges but mostly because I have had too many other things on the go all the time. Well, that has all come to a screaming halt and I need something to keep me going. I have decided to make up my own challenge for April. “So”, I thought; What will it be?”  My favourite thing about reading blogs is hearing about other books. It might be a long review of something I’m interested in or something like  describing your latest second hand shop purchases or your library haul.

I have decided that I will share three books a day (if possible) during the month of April. I will do it in alphabetical order and the books must be on my shelf, either read or unread.

As today is the first of April I will begin with the letter A. (I will not use a, an or the).  That will get me up to day 26.  To make up for the other four days I will not do the alphabet challenge on Sunday. Instead I will continue with Simply Sunday that captures the week and past travel photos paired with books that have the same subject name as the photos. That will allow four more posts in that field and by then we might all be tired of them.  I’ll have to plan something new for May if we are still quarantined.

On that note- Let us begin.



  accommodating spouse  1. An Accommodating Spouse (1999) by Australian author Elizabeth Jolley  (4 July 1923 – 13 Feb 2007). While I have read a couple of her other books this is one that remains unread on my shelf.

Elizabeth Jolley was born in the industrial Midlands of England and moved to Western Australia in 1959. She is acclaimed as one of Australia’s leading writers and has received an Order of Australia, honorary doctorates from Curtain University and Macquarie and Queensland universities. She also won many other major literary awards in Australia. Tim Winton, Australian writer, has stated in one of his memoirs that she influenced him quite a bit as she taught him in university.

An Accommodating Spouse states in the blurb on the back:

When the Professor marries Hazel, Lady Carpenter warns that his new wife is so like her twin, Chloe, he will have trouble telling them apart. So inseparable are the twins that the Professor lives with both women under one roof. 

Into their generous and harmonious household return their daughters-triplets-fresh from the round the world travelling, and ready for whatever excitement they can grab next in their lives. 

Family life in the otherwise quiet house swells to a chaotic dazzling crescendo as the Professor struggles to keep in step with the seven women in his life and strange request from Dr. Florence. 

Screenshot2.  All The Books of My Life (1956) by Sheila Kaye- Smith  (British 4 Feb 1887-14 Jan 1956). Kaye-Smith’s fiction was noted for being rooted in rural concerns: the nineteenth-century agricultural depression, farming, legacies, land rents, strikes, the changing position of women, and the effects of industrialisation on the countryside and provincial life.

I picked this book up second hand because it is a book about books which I love.

She states on the dust jacket overleaf- “In the course of a reasonably long life I must have read many hundreds of books, some of which I have forgotten, but most of which I remember, and all of which, remembered or forgotten, must have left some mental deposit, so that in a sense I am mentally as much the books I have read as I am chemically the food I have eaten. Their sequence is very much the sequence of my life. Certain of them have marked my way like milestones and others have lit it up like lamps. In writing about them I am taking the reader along the road which I have travelled through the years and telling what, though it cannot be called an autobiography, is nevertheless my own story.”

I do like the idea of thinking about how books shape one’s life over the course of many decades.

angel-of-death3.  Another unusual Australian book is entitled Angel of Death (2019) by author Leigh Straw. It is described as Dulcie Markham, Australia’s most beautiful bad woman. Leigh Straw is an academic, historian and writer. She is passionate about telling Australian stories. Some of her other books are The Worst Woman in Sydney; The Life and Crimes of Kate Leigh (2016); After the War: Returned Soldiers and the Mental and Physical Scars of WW I (2017); and Lillian Armfield: How Australia’s First Female Detective Took on Tilly Devine and the Razor Gangs and Changed the Face of the Force. Leigh is a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Notre Dame Australia at the time of this printing.

The book is about Dulcie Markham who was a key figure of the underworld of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane during the most violent years of Australian crime- the 1920s to the 1950s. The descriptions states she had movie star looks but impeccably bad taste in men, she ‘saw more violence and death than any other woman in Australia’s history; according to one crime reporter. Dulcie’s killer smile matched her deadly reputation. I’d rate her twelve out of ten; said one detective of her beauty. But to fall in love with her (and many men did) was to risk death. 

Until tomorrow 😍😍😍







Books and Photos about Houses

Screenshot 5It’s a funny day. I wonder what all my blogger friends are doing and I imagine you’re all quarantined at your homes.  Isn’t it odd to think of the whole world (almost) doing the same thing!

I’ve been reading and playing with Ollie.  I read today that pet adoption as soared as people adopt shelter animals to get them through these often boring times. I just hope they keep them in loving homes once this is all over.

I’m currently reading a book called The Maximum Security Book Club by Mikita Brockman. She, being British, begins a book club for inmates in a maximum security prison in Maryland, USA. As I love books about books and book clubs this tickled my fancy so to speak. I’ll write more about this as I get into it further.

In the meantime I am watching quite a few you tube videos on how to edit photos in Photoshop and Lightroom applications. It is a never ending process. Today I dipped into the photo archive of photos of houses (homes) I’ve taken in various places. I have quite a few books with the word ‘house’ in it.

I’ll share the photos and books here and include Good Read blurbs about the books.

The Books:

1897. This book and it’s prequel are available on the Gutenberg site.

An early Sherlock Holmes pastiche. The book is dedicated to A. Conan Doyle, “With the author’s sincerest regards and thanks for the untimely demise of his great detective which made these things possible.” A sequel to “The House-Boat On The Styx,” in which Holmes (who finds himself in Hades thanks to his death at Reichenbach Falls) helps the spirits of famous people (Sir Walter Raleigh, Captain Kidd, Socrates, Sir Christopher Wren, James Boswell, Samuel Johnson, Dr. Livingstone, etc.) and famous characters of literature (Baron Munchausen, Shylock, Hamlet, etc.) to search for their missing house-boat, which has been commandeered by the villainous Captain Kidd.

house of snow

HOUSE OF SNOW is the biggest, most comprehensive and most beautiful collection of writing about Nepal in print. It includes over 50 excerpts of fiction and non-fiction inspired by the breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage of this fascinating country.

Here are explorers and mountaineers, poets and political journalists, national treasures and international stars such as Michael Palin and Jon Krakauer, Laxmi Prasad Devkota and ManjushreeThapa – all hand-picked by well-known authors and scholars of Nepali literature including Samrat Upadhyay, Michael Hutt, Isabella Tree and Thomas Bell. All profits from sales will be donated to charities providing relief from the 2015 earthquakes.

dormer forest house

Dormer is an old house with Elizabethan origins, much added to. It sits, very isolated, in a cup of the Shropshire hills, surrounded by forest. The Darke family have lived there for centuries. Solomon Darke is a squire farmer who tends to unthinking conservatism; his wife Rachel is harsh, fierce and uncompromising. They have four children – the eldest is the sensitive and original Amber, who feels, at thirty, that life has passed her by. Her brothers Jasper and Peter are more strong-willed – Jasper questions all around him in a determined but romantic way, while Peter has no time for any fuss and forcefully seeks simple pleasures. Their younger sister Ruby is biddable, na ї ve and full of laughter. 

Rachel Darke’s ancient mother lives with them, a harridan remnant in ringlets and flounces, dominating this already intense family with savage outbursts and calculating glances. Completing the family is Catherine, a young relative of Rachel and her mother, whose icy beauty has entrapped Jasper, and whose cold passions equal in power the heat of the Darkes’. 

A complex web of personal desires and long held antipathies becomes activated in the first instance by Jasper’s return home, having been expelled from college for his rejection of religion.

like-a-house-on-fireFrom prize-winning short-story writer Cate Kennedy comes a new collection to rival her highly acclaimed Dark Roots. In Like a House on Fire, Kennedy once again takes ordinary lives and dissects their ironies, injustices and pleasures with her humane eye and wry sense of humour. In ‘Laminex and Mirrors’, a young woman working as a cleaner in a hospital helps an elderly patient defy doctor’s orders. In ‘Cross-Country’, a jilted lover manages to misinterpret her ex’s new life. And in ‘Ashes’, a son accompanies his mother on a journey to scatter his father’s remains, while lifelong resentments simmer in the background. Cate Kennedy’s poignant short stories find the beauty and tragedy in illness and mortality, life and love.

salvation creekContinuing the story of Susan Duncan’s much-loved memoir, Salvation Creek, this book picks up after Bob and Susan marry and, two years later, move from her Tin Shed into his “pale yellow house on the high, rough hill,” Tarrangaua, built for the iconic Australian poet, Dorothea Mackellar. Set against the backdrop of the small, close-knit Pittwater community with its colorful characters and quirky history, this story is about what happens when you open the door to life, adventure, and love. But it’s also about mothers and daughters, as Susan confronts her mother’s new frailty and her own role in what has always been a difficult relationship. Where Salvation Creek was about mortality—living life in the face of death—The House is about stepping outside your comfort zone and embracing challenges, at any age. In turn funny and moving, Susan Duncan’s beautifully written sequel reminds us to honor what matters in life, and to disregard what really doesn’t.

Houses I Have Photographed (copyrighted to PSParks)

Government House- Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


The home of Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda, Valparaiso, Chile
Hillside Houses at Lake Titicaca, South America
Houses at Cuenca, Spain
Houses in Windhoek, Namibia, Africa


Such disparity in the way people live. It’s why I love travelling so much and I hope to get back to it once this virus has a vaccination available.

To be further entertained please view the following video that lasts for only a few seconds entitled:

After Ollie’s bath today.