Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Mrs Mac Suggests - What to read in JANUARY (2016)

Well Christmas and all that accompanies it is over.  The cards will soon come down, the tree undecorated and the glitter swept up.  And then, apart from New Year, which I really don't like, January stretches out before us, seemingly endless and with no money as we spent that all before Christmas!!  Storms, floods, and even perhaps the cold winter promised us by the surfeit of holly berries.
So I am recommending a long read.  Some evenings before the fire, curled up with one you can get your teeth into, and by long I mean 500+ pages.  Here's one I really enjoyed last year:

The Truth According to Us -  Annie Barrows

Happy New Year, everyone! 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

A Parachute in the Lime Tree - Annemarie Neary

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I don't mind what a book is about, as long as I can enjoy reading it.  And as I only review and recommend books I've enjoyed, you will probably have noticed a dearth of reviews recently, due to several duff books passing through my hands!  This does not fall into the duff category - indeed, it was rather a novelty for me as it was a love story, and that is not my usual genre.  But a quite different kind of love story from those modern chick-lit tales, churned out by the dozen by publishers who know how to make a lot of money fast.
Four young people – two of them German.  One an  Luftwaffe conscript, and one a young Jewish pianist, which live next door to each other in Berlin;  and two of them Irish – one a young girl caring for her widowed mother, and the other a trainee doctor in Dublin.  Their stories are knitted together beautifully.
Oskar who we meet first, is young, has high morals, and intensely dislikes the Nazi party and all they stand for, but cannot find a way out when he is conscripted into their airforce. Elsa is his "girl next door", literally.  They have known each other since childhood in their home city, Berlin.  And then, in 1941 when she is 17 and he just a little older, their world falls apart, and she finds herself just being young enough for the Kindertransport from Germany, and is put on the train, bound eventually for Belfast, by parents who she must leave behind in Holland, where they have fled away from anti-Jewish Germans.

Charlie and Kitty?  They are both Irish, Charlie training to be a doctor in Dublin, Kitty at home in the countryside, caring for her recently widowed mother.

Fate has a tangled web prepared for those four. They do not all meet each other, but their youthful lives are each affected by the others and the author has managed to do this seamlessly and beautifully, with plenty of research to back the story up; and I will certainly be looking out for another tale from her.  Well done Annmarie Neary!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Just in time for Christmas - my blue living room!

This was the year that a big job was done.  Cheap pine flooring up, new damp-proofing for the walls (200 year old house has no damp course), new floor down, walls replastered.  And the biggest change?  The colour of the walls from a sort of duck egg blue to dark dark darkest!  Have a look and enjoy the living room!
Just some views of the "before" first; well, I mean "in between" stage, with the flooring ready to be laid, but everything else in a state of flux and mayhem.... Above is our rather sooty fireplace complete with woodburner.  Below is the window that looks out onto the next door cottage.

The wooden shelves below the window will be lovely cupboards shortly.
And finally, what will become the little windowseat and another cupboard.  If you look towards the right of the picture, about 3 inches above the floor, you will see a little wood "box shape".  These window recesses contained short normal radiators, and all the plumbing was on show, with the pipes just bent round things that were in the way.  The lovely old window framing was just butchered to run the pipes along.  So the lovely OH made up a perfectly matched insert for both windows and now, finished and painted, the problem has disappeared!  Brilliant!!

 So, let's just go round the room as best we can.  Cleaner fireplace, mantelpiece done for Christmas (which is a minimalist style in this house)  New lovely bookcase with just a few spaces left in case books arrive for Christmas !!!
And here is the window that overlooks the next door cottage - now complete with cupboard doors and hiding all the junk lovely stuff that has to be hidden for Christmas...... (and in case you ask, no, we are not awaiting curtains - this is it!)
 Here's Fred who cannot keep off the sofa..... especially if I have just got up to get a drink - that warm spot is too tempting. Spot that carrier bag hiding just under the arm of the sofa - oooops!

Here's the door, now (after only 13 years) painted and only awaiting it's lock and handle.  Yes, that is a framed picture on the door and you can thank Ed, the CEO at Libertys' of London for that bright idea.  Ed - you are a genius!  That window overlooks the garden, and beneath the blind is a little window seat now (cushion to follow).
 Yes, the set of drawers are permanent, we love painted furniture and acquired this earlier as it is perfect for the TV plus look at all that storage! It's part of a 1980s bedroom suite.  On that chair to the left is the damned knitted cushion - finished at last and with a couple of red buttons still to go.
Finally the new rug and a little stool given to me years ago by a friend no longer with us.  I believe, judging by the wear on the foot rungs, that this was a pub stool at one time, and it's seat was worn to a velvet finish by many bums....... I gave it  a cream overcoat and little red boots, and it's just right for the Radio Times, the TV controls, and a cup of tea!  The red basket holds videos and DVDs yet to be watched or re-watched.

That's it then, got the dark blue room I wanted, and at night you can see how cosy it is.  The before pics have already shown you the natural light in this room as it has east and west facing windows. so it never looks gloomy.

The true colour is the second "after" picture. 

Early One Morning - Virginia Baily

I was attracted to this novel purely by the cover (as I suppose this is meant to happen!) and it has very little about the contents on the b...