I’m having a winter’s break this month from blogging and commenting on too many blogs. I’ve been blogging now for 10 years and I’ve lost a bit of motivation but do not want to stop. It’s winter and to keep my mood and motivation going I’m walking, devoting my time to photography and spending time with Ollie. I still enjoy reading the blogs of people I follow and will continue to do so. You don’t leave friends in a hurry. I’m enjoying winter and just being well.
When I return to blogging the first week of August I’m going to be trying to only post once or twice a month. I will share the posts between books, photography and travels though most travels will be within Southern Tasmania either on the motorbike or on foot. I will tie that in with photography.
I hope everyone is staying well and doing the right thing by this Covid mess the world is dealing with. In the meantime don’t lose hope. There is so much of interest in the world with and without it. We just have to look for it.
I’ll be back with some books I’ve finished, some interesting photos and maybe a new wardrobe for the Penguin. All the best.
After several days of absolute pouring rain we are finally having a couple of lovely winter days with full sunshine. Ollie and I went to the dog beach yesterday and he had a lovely time.
I finished Normal People by Sally Rooney. Our book group was to have discussed it last month but we are not meeting now so I was late reading it. I didn’t really want to read it as I’ve heard both negative and positive reviews about it. It’s not a long book so I picked it up to see what all the fuss is about it since I had it. I have to say it was not a book I loved but I can see why some others loved it. The story is about Marianne who is a rich high school/college girl who lives in Sligo, Ireland then goes to Trinity college in Dublin. She comes from a wealthy family of her mother who ignores her and her older brother who is quite abusive. She lives in her own world and has no friends and states she doesn’t need them. She doesn’t care of about high school or the people in it but she is very bright. She meets Connor. Connor’s mother Lorraine cleans for Marianne’s household. Because Marianne is so ostracised at school Connor does not let on they know each other much less see each other. They develop a very long standing intimate relationship but nobody knows about it except Connor’s mother who likes Marianne and leaves him to it.
The story continues. Both are well read and exceedingly bright and though Connor comes from a poorer background he gets a scholarship to go to Trinity and their saga continues in Dublin. Then we get new boyfriends and new girlfriends although the two of them always seem to love each other.
I grew very weary of this relationship. Some of the positive points of the book to me were I liked Connor’s character and his mother Lorraine. I think they were the best developed characters. Marianne annoyed me beyond belief. We begin to see her mental instability as the book continues and even understanding that I didn’t feel anything for her. I could say the book is plot driven because all of the other characters including friends at Trinity and back in Sligo were not really developed. It becomes more apparent as we continue Marianne wants to be physically and mentally hurt by her boyfriends and then by others as well. She doesn’t have much self esteem by the end.
The main things that bothered me about this book:
The writing in the first half of the book was poor. I kept thinking “where on earth was the editor” with these sentences? I thought the writing became stronger towards the last of the book. It settled. There were so many inconsistencies with the book. Marianne seemed strong in herself at the beginning. By the end she is like an entirely different person. I know everyone changes during that age group but her basic nature wasn’t the same.
The store of the relationship of Marianne and Connor drags…..and drags…..and drags….. It is very repetitious. It is very predictable. I was going to give it up about 60 or 70% of the way through but I was curious how this book would end. When the ending came it is incredibly unsatisfying and open to interpretation as to how one feels about the entire story. I kind of thought, “right, they have left the way open for a sequel.” That was my first thought. My second thought is if there is a sequel I won’t be looking at it.
A series has evidently been made of this book and some viewers in the United States have viewed it. I haven’t seen it here on any thing I have access to but I don’t think I could bare to watch it.
My other thought was if I was in the ages between 16 and 25 I’d probably have loved the angst of this story and the relationship and wondering about all the options available to them and how it would work out. I wouldn’t have cared that the writing wasn’t that great. There are a couple of vloggers I came across on You Tube that are in their 20’s and they rave about it. In fact three of them got together and had a Normal People day where they all sat down in their respective homes one day and read it together then talked about it that evening.
But as an older person I found the book tedious and done before a hundred different ways and I expect and enjoy better writing these days. I guess you could say I’m much more discerning as you might expect a person to be who’s been reading more than 60+ years.
Would I recommend this book to others? No. There is plenty more out there to read that’s enjoyable unless you’re 16 and having boyfriend problems as there are many lessons one that age could learn as to what a relationship should be about. As there are so many examples in this book about what a relationship shouldn’t be about. If that makes sense.
I was going to share a second book with you today but I won’t as I think this post is long enough and I don’t like to make them too long.
Instead I will post up a couple of photos from Ollie and I at the beach yesterday. I’ll write about the second book I received from the library this week in a day or two. I hope everyone is having a good weekend.
This will be short as I need to go get some groceries but when I went to start the car the battery was dead. I’ve most likely left the overhead light on again as the garage is so dark during the dark days and forgotten to turn it off. The RAC-T (Royal Auto Club of Tasmania) is on the way with the cables so I thought I’d write while I wait.
It’s been grey and rainy here for the past couple of days, today and will be again tomorrow. So much rain and all the rivulets are running wild down Mt Wellington. Two days ago I took Ollie out to Seven Mile Beach. It is about a 25 minute drive just east of Hobart out past the airport. It channels into the Derwent River that eventually goes out to the Tasman Sea. It is a nice beach and very few people on it when it is very grey and dark. Our photo club was challenged to do solstice sunrise or sunset shots but with the heavy cloud cover and fog I decided on an afternoon photo shoot. Besides I had to get Ollie out as he was full of beans and we needed to get rid of a few of them. I have told our vet she is not allowed to ever operate on him as all his beans may fall out. A bit of a run on this beautiful beach sorted out a few of them.
Bookwise- I finally finished the 37th hour of selections of The Diary of Samuel Pepys. What a long haul it was but overall I enjoyed it very much but by the end I was truly tired of him. The way he treated women as if everyone of them was manufactured from Mattel and always thinking about his own work, his own days, his own pleasures. But I did enjoy the stories of London and hearing about the September fires in 1666 and the plague year the year before. People’s lives were so difficult and desperate and it made me happy I was here in Tassie during our own pandemic.
I have a couple of new books on the go but not sure I’ll stick with them. My mood changes from day to day. I’ve started Normal People by Sally Rooney. I’ve been hearing a lot of good about that book. My other book is called A Time of Birds by Helen Moat. This book is newly published also and is a tale of Irish woman, Helen and her older teenage son’s bike ride from England to Istanbul. She is a school teacher who suffers from the same depression her father had and she thinks this bike ride might give her a new perspective on life. She has an old clunky bike that some lycra clad bicyclists in the Netherlands had a real go at making fun of but her son is more modern. Her father spent his later years studying birds and she wants to continue that tradition on her trip across Europe. However she hasn’t mentioned any of them yet.
So far she talks a lot about her dad to the point of dwelling I’d say. Have you ever been around that person, maybe at work, who does nothing but talk about their friends you don’t know and that friend’s relatives or experiences and you still have no idea who they’re talking about but they just never stop? We all talk about family members to our friends which is fine but there are some people who are more acquaintance who continually go on and on and on as it begins to wear a bit. I’m hoping as she gets into this trip she focuses on the present and not so much of the past but we’ll see.
I’ll let you know how I go with the books. In the meantime I’ve posted some photos of our day at the beach. Remember it is winter here.
I haven’t checked in for a couple of weeks or so as it’s been very busy here lately. Mr. Penguin is in hospital having a knee replacement. Our old dog Molly is in hospital with a bad case of colitis, dehydration and just all the things that come with being 15 years plus.
I have been doing quite a bit of watching You Tube photography videos trying to increase my knowledge base, especially in landscape photography which is an area I don’t do much of but would enjoy it I think. Street photography is my first love. I’ve ordered some filters and will learn how to use those to be a bit creative. Winter light in Tasmania is the best (I think) of the year so would like to get out and enjoy it.Keeping up with Ollie’s training continues to be fun if at times challenging. He is a very bright little spark and also very strong willed. We argue at times but I need to make sure I always win. He is 10 months old tomorrow.
I have been reading a bit but mainly continuing to listen to The Diary of Samuel Pepys (Selections from). I am enjoying it very much. It is 37 hours long on audible. He kept his diary from 1660 to 1669 and I am currently in 1665. 1665 is the year the plague hit London. Such a scary thing as medical treatment back then was very different and also very unforgiving. In 1666 the great fire of London will hit and that’s going to be challenging for him too, I’m sure. He was quite a character and he got up to all kinds of stuff, quite a bit of it naughty. He is quite taken with himself and I’m not sure I would like him as much in real life as I do reading about him in his diary. I just find all of it interesting.
I also receive one Shakespeare Sonnet from Fullers Book Shop with an explanation from our facilitator Tim each weekday. That is going along fine. It will take several months to get through 120 of them. I am enjoying it though and it is a good way to become familiar with them. Tim sources information from several different books and shares that information with us and we are able to write comments back to him.
I finished culling about 3 boxes of books and as the tip shop opened up again off they went. So much stuff there to look at. I dropped in today for a bit just to see their reorganisation. I picked up a couple of Australian books while there. Two of the three book trilogy by Henry Handel Richardson. I found number 2 (Ultina Thule) and 3 (The Way Home). Now I just need the first one. I also snagged Peter Carey’s copies of the True History of the Kelly Gang and one I’ve been wanting to read, Oscar and Lucinda. I also found an Australian book I have never heard of called Lady Bridget in the Never Never Land (Australian Women Writers Literary series by Rosa Praed. Australian bloggers who have grown up in Australia might know more about this.
I have taken Ollie on a couple of good walks and taken photos as well so will share a couple below as a sign off. Hopefully once everyone is picked up from hospital I will be homebound and settled. Did I also mention Mr. Penguin opened the car door into traffic and another car hit it? Ruined the door so our little Honda Jazz (Fit) was towed away and replaced with a really big SUV which I do not enjoy driving as our city roads are not freeways. Hopefully we will get our car back Tuesday afternoon. What is the saying? “When it rains it pours?”
Back with more books and photography soon I hope. Until then….enjoy the photos.
While out walking I came across these brothers and they were happy for me to take some photographs and even happier when I sent the photos to them.
This is the fire track at the base of Mt. Wellington that Ollie and I walked up. Very pretty on a lovely day.
Sunday here and I’m moving ahead here. Forget the post about splitting up or not splitting up book series. I’m keeping them all and they will continue to live together with their families. Once that thought was out in the open I couldn’t bear to separate them all. Thanks for the comments about it.
Now..I’m going to begin reading some of the books from the various series I have and I went to Random.org to see what to read first. Penguin Books published a series of 12 short books based on the names of the underground Iines of London. Here is the list:
Victoria: Mind the Child- Camila Batmanghelidjh & Kids Company
The Central Line: The 32 Stops- Danny Dorling
The East London Line: Buttoned-Up- Fantastic Man
The District Line: What We Talk About When We Talk About the Tube- John Manchester
The Northern Line: A Northern Line Minute- William Leith
The Metropolitan Line: A Good Parcel of English Soil- Richard Mabey
The Bakerloo Line: Earthbound- Paul Morley
The Jubilee Line: A History of Capitalism According to the Jubilee Line- John O’Farrell
The Hammersmith & City Line: Drift- Philippe Parreno
The Waterloo & City Line: Waterloo-City, City-Waterloo
The Circle Line: Heads & Straights- Lucy Wadham
The Piccadilly Line: The Blue Riband- Peter York
Last evening I read no. 3, The East London Line- Buttoned up by Fantastic Man. The authors are Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom from Fantastic Man magazine.
This book, published in 2014 was about the fashion that is East London in the mid 80s. Not just that but the ‘buttoned up’ look of the men who lived and worked there. Evidently, there was an entire culture about the buttoned up look. It actually started with the buttoned up to the neck look (some wore ties, others didn’t) of the Mods with their Lambretta and Vespa scooters as they railed against the rockers during the 60s and 70s. They could be loud and violent but their dress was quite upstanding as opposed to long hair and rough looks that was the mainstream music culture of the time.
Another look was the one the Pet Shop Boys had in the 1980s which is when the buttoned up look took off again. One of the Boys was sported a street look while the other was ‘buttoned up’ with the very top button of his shirt buttoned.
Who knew there was such a culture around the top button of a man’s shirt. Maybe people who lived in London were familiar but during those days I was living next to a cornfield in mid Michigan, so who knew?
One of the musicians from that time stated: “If I ever see a picture of myself playing, and for some reason I’ve unbuttoned my top button, I always feel a bit angry at myself,” he said. ‘I feel it makes a big difference to the way you wear a shirt. It’s really subtle but it changes an entire outfit. If I’m not buttoned up it feels a bit like something’s missing, like I’ve not finished getting dressed.’
From another…“The man in a deep V is open, ready, disposable. The buttoned-up man has a flavour of some entrenched, considered mystery. We would’ve once considered him pretentious, if preferring books to TV can be adjudged as such. He does not favour the more expositional approach to male sex-appeal in his wardrobe. “
The various parts of London were evidently known for their street dress. An East ender would be buttoned-up without a tie. If you wore a tie you were even more conservative such as someone in the law profession. South Londoners sported the hoody. If someone had a jumper over their shoulders they were obviously from a ritzy public school. The buttoned-up are practically Edwardian in their style.
I got a big kick out of this little book. It is also full of black and white photos of various buttoned-up men models and the neighbourhood streets that make up the stops along the East London line.
I have nine series in sets or boxed sets and I plan on dipping into them more often. For the reason they are generally about subjects I books I would not normally pick up if in a shop. It will be interesting what adventures they hold and what new information will be imparted to this currently addled brain of mine. Time to relax and enjoy what is on the shelf.
Today I got fed up with the messy book shelf and seeing the books crammed into the shelves at various angles. So I pulled out the step ladder, gave Ollie something to chew other than books and got stuck into it. Now four hours later I have inspected each shelf, culled three boxes of books and taken them off the Library Thing inventory list.
Then I went outdoors and played with Ollie a bit as he was very good, only chewing a bit on the cardboard boxes I was putting the books into. One of main Op shops is now open and the tip shop opens next week so I will haul them down there so others can enjoy them.
I noticed I have a lot of books that are less than 150 – 200 pages. I thought if I read them first I could then let them go and therefore clear out even more. We’ll see.
I have been reading Unreliable Memories by Clive James. Richard at Cracked Spineless book shop in Hobart put me onto it. He told me when he read it he was in puddles on the floor, laughing and he couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it.
He’s right. Bits of it are very funny. I’ve not read Clive James and this memoir of his early child and teen years is very funny. He has a way of describing his relatives and school mates in a way we might like to do but don’t have the nerve to do so.
I have laughed out loud several times.
The other weird, er, interesting book I’m listening to for an hour each night once I’ve gone to bed is Pepys Diary. It’s 37 hours of his daily diary from 1660 to 1669 and is reputed to be one of the best documented publications of life during this time period. He stopped writing in 1669 as he had very bad eyes and writing in candlelight was not helping. He lived another 30 years.
I am not nor have I ever been a good sleeper. It takes a long while to fall asleep and I seldom sleep through the night without waking up a couple of times. I find listening to an hour of a book each night is very relaxing (if the book is properly chosen) and I often don’t get past 30 or 45 minutes with this one before drifting off to sleep. I am really enjoying the narrator. Michael Maloney’s voice and the structure of Pepys days. He almost finishes each daily entrance with the words, “went home, had supper and off to bed.” I also like the way he describes his “discourses” with people each day. “He and I had interesting discourse,” or “We discoursed this topic for some time”.
Well as I’m worn out a bit from moving and carrying many books around today I am going to sign off here and see how this new layout of Word Press works. Why do people always feel they have to change perfectly workable structures.
No, I haven’t been travelling but I have been playing with photos from past trips and as this site is supposed to include some travel I thought I would share some trip photography from eight years ago. Without a lot of explanation let your imagination roam.
Santiago, Chile with a short day trip to Valparaiso to see the home of the famous poet, Pablo Neruda.
A bit of street photography in Santiago, Chile, 2012.
I am happy to say my reading slump has disappeared and I am enjoying my books again. I’m glad it didn’t last too long. I got fed up with all the screens from social media, news, t.v. and Netflix. Quiet nights with books again and mornings with more books and blog posts are the go for now.
I just finished this wonderful travel story from Elspeth Beard from London. Elspeth was the first (known of) British woman to ride her motorbike around the world in 1982. It is a remarkable tale and here are the details.
Lone Rider: The First British Woman to Motorcycle Around the World by Elspeth Beard. Published by Michael O’Mara 2017. 320 pgs long.
In 1982 Elspeth had just finished studying Architecture in England and wanted to do the trip with her BMW motorbike she had dreamed of. Her parents who were quite upper class gave her no support and showed no interest in much of what she did, instead deciding she just wasn’t much of a conformist. Her mother was more concerned that the curtains in the living room were matching and her father was lovely but a bit distracted with other issues.
Because she was a young woman, none of the Bike magazines wanted to hear about it, not many wanted to sponsor or support her and as this trip had not been done by a female before most thought she was mad. But being such a strong, stubborn person off she went. (Thoughts went through my mind of how much support Ewan McGregor and Charley Borman had from BMW on their round the world trip much later)
She flew herself and her bike to New York and rode to Detroit where she stayed with an aunt for a short while. Then off to New Orleans and across the southern states to California.
From there she sent her bike to Sydney but then found out she could not get a working visa for herself. She tried several embassies in the U.S. with no luck. She wanted to spend time there and finish her architecture practicum for school at a Sydney firm while earning some money to finance her trip. She had a name of a well known architect there who could help her (she was assured).
Instead she decided to go to New Zealand where she met up with other relatives in Auckland. She knew her bike was on a ship to Sydney and she thought the embassy in New Zealand might be friendlier. As it turned out when she applied for her visa there, she dealt with a man who rode a Triumph motorbike and he loved the idea of the trip and stamped her passport with enthusiasm. Her boyfriend of the time met her in New Zealand and they toured the north and south islands before she went on to Sydney.
She did introduce herself to the architect she was referred to however he turned out to be a very nasty man and she didn’t last long but that’s another story. She did find a better practice in which to work. Once cashed up she covered Australia pretty well. Her descriptions of the flooded dirt tracks she encountered especially from Alice Springs to Adelaide were harrowing. Mud up to her knees and much help from the road train drivers saved her skin.
She then rode to Perth and then flew to Bali to catch up with her boyfriend, Mark again, while shipping her bike ahead to Singapore. The rest of the story is where it gets gritty.
Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and India had us holding our breath in many situations. Getting in and out of India was nightmarish with the bureaucracy and I wouldn’t have traded places with her at all. For example when she got to the Pakistani border she was told she had to go back to Delhi to get her paperwork stamp. Delhi is 500 kms away and off she went. Only to find it couldn’t be done and back to Pakistan border she went. Another form fell out of her passport by accident and the border guard at the Pakistani border thought that was the right form and let her in. Such luck she had.
Descriptions of the people, the locations and a couple of pretty hairy accidents not to mention the illnesses she contracted did make me think she was mad.
But survive she did, having met a Dutch motorbiker who she falls in love with and off they go to Pakistan and Iran and then Turkey. Both of them contracted Hepatitis, dealt with many men with rifles and lust and she still manages to get through it all while having lost kilos of weight and was yellow with Hepatitis.
There is a quite a bit of naval gazing about what to do about getting over Alex who dumped her before she left England. who had been the love of her life. Then lovely Mark who loves her dearly, but obsessively and is the one who catches up with her in New Zealand and Bali. She finally falls in love with him until she meets Richard. But once she gets back to London, three years later, she and Richard go by the wayside as he isn’t able to deal with everything that has happened. There is a lot more to do with him and Mark later in the book but that would be a spoiler.
She ends up marrying one of them, was it Mark? or Richard? but that is glossed over a bit as it is the journey that is important. She is only in her mid 20s when she does this trip and her travelling skills as well as her mechanical nous are quite extraordinary.
Once home again with her parents she just can’t believe they continue to show no interest in her trip and never really ask her much about it. She was travelling for three years and could find nobody who had an interest in it. So typical eh?
Well I really enjoyed her and her journey and I would love to have been there when she got home and heard about every detail.
I will never stop thinking about her and remembering and appreciating her bravery, perseverance and adventures.
Her writing is excellent and I could feel the bumps, the laughs, the smells, the sounds and the excruciating injuries of her accidents as well as enjoying the food and the culture of all of the countries she visited.
This was definitely the type of travel writing I crave. If I was only 50 years younger.
I am part of a Facebook sketch group and something has cropped up that I really love and wanted to share with you. I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler but I do admire people who do sketch out various things going on in their lives.
However what I came across a couple of days ago is something I could probably do. It’s Book Mapping. I have seen others who do this but these examples are just so much fun I thought I’d share. Julie Hawkins is the artist and reader and she has kindly given me permission to share her drawings here. So thank you Julie.
Do any of you do anything like this? If so I’d love to know. Are there any blogs or fb pages or Instagram pages that reflect this mapping of books? If so and you know of them, please share as I’d love to follow.
I’ll keep this post short and sweet for today. I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did. Ideas abound.
I have found two books I must say I am really enjoying. The first came recommended to me by English blogger Catherine of the Read-Warbler blog. After my last post she suggested a book she was enjoying entitled: Footnotes: Journey Round Britain in the Company of Great Writers by Peter Fiennes. Amazon describes it as:
“Peter Fiennes follows in the footsteps of twelve inspirational writers, bringing modern Britain into focus by peering through the lens of the past.
The journey starts in Dorset, shaped by the childhood visions of Enid Blyton, and ends with Charles Dickens on the train that took him to his final resting place in Westminster Abbey.
From the wilds of Skye and Snowdon, to a big night out in Birmingham with J. B. Priestley and Beryl Bainbridge, Footnotes is a series of evocative biographies, a lyrical foray into the past, and a quest to understand Britain through the books, journals and diaries of some of our greatest writers.
And as Fiennes travels the country, and roams across the centuries, he wonders:
‘Who are we? What do we want? They seemed like good questions to ask, in the company of some of our greatest writers, given these restless times.”
I downloaded it from Audible and have only listened to the first two chapters. The first is about the life Enid Blyton who I had no idea was such a difficult person with, what sounds like a lot of personal issues and the second is about the life of Wilkie Collins, author of the Moonstone and The Woman in White. The description of his life makes me want to read the Moonstone again and also the Woman in White which I have never read. I listen to 30 to 60 minutes at night before I fall asleep or as I lie down for a short rest in the afternoon. Peter Fiennes, the author, also narrates it and does a splendid job of it.
The other book in print I began last night is one I’m hearing quite a bit about. In this
book I am visiting a castle in Italy with four women who share the rent in the early 1900s. Some of you may have guessed by now. The Enchanted Aprilby Elizabeth von Arnim. I only began it this morning with my morning coffee and toast with Ollie (who I learned loves apple slices). I’m not far into it so will comment later.
The rest of the day will centre on taking our 15 year old Molly to the vet later for her monthly arthritis injection. I think running around the yard with Ollie has been good for keeping her young though observing the looks she gives him at times might disagree with this though. Molly is a terrier mixture of about 9 different breeds according to the DNA sample we sent in. She is a sturdy little dog that just doesn’t quit and is certainly in charge of this household. Ollie has a healthy respect for her having been shaken by her at least twice since he arrived in this household. Those boundaries were established early.
Mr. Penguin has gone to the grocery store and will be picking up some ingredients for a Moroccon chicken recipe I found online that looks pretty good and also quite easy. I will print it here in case you’re interested. I’m not a big cook anymore. I cooked the first 25 years of our marriage and Mr. Penguin has cooked for the past 25 years. Once we hit our 50 year mark I’m not sure how we will divide that up. During these days of isolation and watching the Great British Bakeoff show on reruns I feel a bit like getting into the kitchen at times.
Here is the recipe
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
8 ounces baby carrots with tops, trimmed, or baby carrots, halved lengthwise if large
½ cup pitted dried plums (prunes)
1 14 ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1 ¼ teaspoons curry powder (I brought back some spices from Morocco when I was there last year I will use)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Step 1 In a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker combine onion and carrots. Add prunes and broth. Top with chicken. In a small bowl combine curry powder, salt, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over chicken.
Step 2 Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours. Remove chicken, fruit, and vegetables from cooker with a slotted spoon. Spoon some of the cooking juices on each serving. Makes 4 servings.
I’ll have to let you know if it is good or not or of any adjustments I make to it.