Monday, 28 May 2012

A Little Love Song - Michelle Magorian

A Little Love Song  Not quite sure how Michelle Magorian does it, but she touches my heart every time.  I had never heard of this until someone said that they tried to re-read it every year because it was life affirming.  Having read and loved "Goodnight Mr Tom", and some of her others, I took a chance on this one, and loved it.
Rose is 17 and still at school - her sister Diana is 21 and the beauty of  the family.  They don't really like each other very much, and then in 1943 they are sent away to the coast for three months, out of danger, whilst their widowed mother joins an ENSA troupe to entertain UK troups overseas.  Rose discovers several things in those three months - the diary of a lady who lived in the cottage once;  puppy love is not always the way you think; your sister is a nice woman; and you can grow up almost overnight.  If ever there was a book I would have wanted to read at 14/15 - this is it.  But it wasn't written then.  In an easy to read manner, Magorian will introduce Rose to sex, to friendship outside her normal circle and many other things that would stand her in good stead.    It's a lovely story - with a few tears to shed along the way, wonderful descriptions of happenings which seemed to me just exactly right.  A glorious and quick Summer read that I hope will stay with you the way its going to stay with me. 

The Fine Colour of Rust - P A O'Reilly

The Fine Colour of RustLoretta. Single mum since the husband walked out some time ago. Left with her two kids and no maintenance. But at least she's got a part time job, and friends, in the rural Australian town of Gunapan. There's Norm, the old guy down the road with a patch of skin cancer on his forehead, and there's Helen, a good friend to drink a glass of wine with when things get bad. Loretta is always campaigning to save the school, and again its under threat of closure. But it's hard to get many people to be enthusiastic, really, especially as there are whispers of a new country spa development just up the road from town, where jobs might be had......

Loretta is a heroine I loved. She's just like a lot of us. She's a bit overweight, she's none too hot in the housekeeping department, she loves her kids (even though she dreams of dumping them and riding off into the sunset on the back of a Harley Davidson), She wishes she could afford new clothes, and her car is falling apart around her as she ferries the kids back and fore to school.

Norm is a good friend, who is covered in the grime of many years of having a scrapyard in his own backyard. Loretta keeps a bar of soap especially for Norm to wash his hands when he pops over for a cup of tea, or supper. When Norm has the patch of skin cancer removed, it's the catalyst for many happenings, and when his son comes home from prison after 14 years inside, things change - but not as you might expect.
The book is set in Australia, but you will recognise the characters from anywhere in the world. It's a lovely read with a couple of laugh out loud moments and I romped through it.
[copy of my Amazon review]

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Curry and Chocolate, although not necessarily in that order!

A week in Normandy, around10 miles from a small town called Falaise, the birthplace of William the Conquerer as he is known in the UK!  Those 10 miles led us off the main roads, up country lanes full of wild flowers and birdsong to our destination.  Beds and bathrooms for all,  comfy seating, a huge woodburner for the cooler evenings, and plenty of food, laughter, wine and chocolate (well, not chocolate every night!).

Adam, flushed with success at his first attempt at a roast leg of lamb for 15 persons, with veg!

It's very hard to say whether Peter is disgusted at Margaret's gravy spillage or not.  She is clearly delighted!

So serious - must be putting the world to rights!

And yet more intelligent conversation - probably about the quality of the wine.......


The problem is, life is not all serious discussion, But I never did find out what this particular joke was.....
 and even the camera holder was laughing here (sorry girls!)

And then you have a few glasses of wine, you think its clever to do what kids do, and at our age, frankly, it's not funny!!!

AND NOW...... THE CHOCOLATE TASTING!!!



Bett wondering why there isn't a box each! (Its a tasting, Bett, not a pig-out!)


No, no, that praline had a nasty aftertaste....


But the champagne truffle, well........Mmm mmm!

AND THEN ...... IT WAS CURRY NIGHT - DRESS ACCORDINGLY

Aging Bollywood star Shagmi Patel, Col Mustard (hamming it up) and a great thinker from Bengal

The cross dresser who was no better than he ought to be, and his lovely Memsahib.....

and two other lovely Memsahibs!



Just a tie and a hat, and here comes Pandit Nehru!


Pearl of India, wearing the Pearl of India, in the company of one so young he is obviously a student on leave from Oxford!
Rice for 15 is a big order, Jan!

Chefs of the Taj Mahal restaurant........

Mr Shagmi Patel, his lovely Memsahib Mitoo, and that great thinker again (is that alcohol I see???)

And, in the dying light, the cast of our evening....twice!


Laughing a lot is better than crying.  That was a good evening, and the curries not half bad, either!

Just two of our lovely evenings..... But I just have to mention the stone martins..... Our lightest sleeper, kept awake every night as Mummy stone martin had chosen her bedroom walls to raise a brood behind (actually I think, several Mummy stone martins had broods in there) ... and they are nocturnal.  What a racket!  Never again, as they say.  Look them up on t'internet.