Sunday, 31 July 2016

Rude Girls in the Garden - late July

I love day lilies.  As the name suggests, each flower only lasts a day.  If your plant is healthy, you get several buds on each stem, and they have a season of 2-3 weeks and then it's over, so you really do have to plant them with other things so that when not in flower, something else is.

All the day lilies on this particular entry have no names.  Well - obviously they do, but they were all "bitsas" i.e. bits of plant given to me by others or bought at fetes or sales with no labels except Day Lilies.

Some of them are very new to me and so have only had one flower stem like this beautry on the right.  Also, some are not so happy in their current situation, so this Autumn I shall be moving them about a bit and giving them a bit of  a feed (need some research, unless a reader has a foolproof recipe and leaves me a comment!)

This one (left) is the oldest and biggest root, and has to be split this Autumn.  She's been glowing away each summer for about 10 years now, the clump is huge, but flowers are less.  I found out this year that day lilies should be divided every 3-4 years, so this huge clump will be split in September .... and I already have a good home with a neighbour up the road for one of the divisions.

This one right) is the newest in the garden.  A glorious dark, dark, nearly brown colour, but due to it's position, I could not get a straight on shot this time. I used to refer to my day lilies as my "Blousy Ladies" - but keeping up with modern jargon must be done, and so now they are my "Rude Girls"!

And yes, you are right, these three are NOT day lilies.  But they bloom at the same time, my red hot pokers.  This last hot spell boded well for these, as slugs love 'em, and some years I get none at all  as the slugs eat right through the stems as they start to shoot up.  I am a non-chemical gardener, it's something I have to grin and bear - but great result this year.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Mrs Mac suggests - what to read in August.....

I've been thinking.  Do you ever read a book and think "this would make a brilliant film"  or a great TV series? 

So for August, I am suggesting you

find a book you think should be made into a film or TV series

My own suggestion  is the Christopher Fowler stories of Bryant and May, two elderly detectives who really should have retired but who won't.  Their style of solving crimes does not please Scotland Yard, but always gets results. The first one is Full Dark House.

The author suggests you can read them in order or not, but I  started with the first one, was hooked and read them all in order. He says:  the novels are written chronologically, but can just as easily be read out of order (in fact, some volumes benefit from doing so, the exceptions being ‘On The Loose’ and ‘Off The Rails’, which should be read together). The cases take on the different styles of the classic detective stories.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Bed and Breakfast tales - 10

We are having a busy summer here at the cottage, and meeting lots of lovely travellers.  More tales stored  away for future reading!

But today, let me tell you about the couple who stayed one night on their way to look after some animals whilst their friends had a holiday.  They were both young, and in the first flush of a transatlantic romance!  It's always a joy to see people younger than me looking forward to a good life together, and I always cross my fingers and hope it works out that way.

This couple were good company and fun to talk to.  So why are I writing about them?  Well, in our bathroom we have a little metal basket.  It's full of the things you might have left behind or things you urgently need, like toothpaste, soap, miniatures of shower gel, body lotion, shampoo, toothpicks, cotton buds, women's requirements etc.  It has a little sign that says "help yourself" and sometimes guests do, and sometimes they don't.  After they had gone I went upstairs to strip the bed, take the washing downstairs, and clean through for the next guests...... in the bathroom, the little metal basket was totally empty! This has never happened before or since, and I have never been able to make up my mind whether I had entertained a kleptomaniac or a person who was down on their luck with no money!

Ah well, I didn't begrudge any of it, and the sign does say help yourself .... but so odd to see three toothpicks and a few cotton buds  as well as the toothpaste, a spare toothbrush and every single other thing - gone!  It's OK - I have spares - always.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Maggot Moon - Sally Gardner

  • Medium

Sally Gardner (The Red Necklace, I Coriander etc) is a wonderful writer for young adults.  This particular book strikes me as one that would make even a "I Hate Books" kind of kid would want to read on to the end!

Set in a alternative dystopian country, possibly England, but never stated;  now ruled (in 1956) by a  country similar to Nazi Germany, with a leader similar to Hitler;  tanks in the streets, men in long leather coats who may knock on your door at any time, fear making people behave in a way that surely we would not tolerate now? ..... In this world lives our hero, Standish Treadwell, who's parents have "disappeared", who shares his broken down home with his Grandfather, he's a boy who can hardly read or write but is a very clever indeed.  His friend Hector lives next door, and on an illegal television set, they watch programmes from another country - a country with Cadillacs to drive - and I Love Lucy comedy shows.  A country called Croca-Cola Land. 

For Standish, Hector, and anyone else who is not important enough to be "disappeared", or watched day and night, life just has to be endured, beauty and joy are out the window (even if you could remember what it used to feel like) and bullies of all kinds are the people that populate your life.  One particular bully is a toupe wearing cane wielding man who replaced their well-liked teacher and, having tasted a bit of power, takes it out on the kids in various cruel ways.  The day he beats up a small boy is the turning point for Standish.

It's easy to read word-wise, not so easy to read of the cruelty wreaked on others, but it just does make you want to keep reading, cheering Standish on and hoping for the best of luck to come along to help all those ordinary people.  250 pages, but shorter than you'd imagine because lots of the chapters are only one paragraph, it never left my hands till I had read the last page.  Recommended to all good readers from age 10 onwards, but of course that includes any kid of any age at all up to 99 years, young adult or not! 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Home - in the evening sun

How do you like the new header picture?  Same house, some 10 or so years on.  Similar, but garden looking much nicer these days!  Anyway, I was in the garden taking a picture of something or other ......... oh yes!  a furry something (moth or butterfly) hatching from it's chrysalis, and was disappointed as it steadfastly moved under a group of leaves every time I  got it into focus, so no pic.  It was quite a big something too, would have liked to capture it, but no luck.

Anyway, as I turned to walk down the garden, this is what I  saw.  That lovely evening sunshine, and of course I had the camera in my hands, so - New Picture!Home

The Dunmow Flitch - eccentric behaviour

Are the English really eccentric?

Well yes, they are!  but no more than the Irish, the Welsh, the Scottish, the French..... etc. etc. etc.
and here is a lovely little eccentricity that happens every four years in Great Dunmow, Essex.  The next one is 2020.  Here is a pic of two of this year's worthy winners, their bearers and the flitch, also with it's own bearers. and to find out more about the Dunmow Flitch, what it is, and how you go about trying for it, here is a link which will tell you much about the history.

And when Dunmow says The Dunmow Flitch Trials it means just that, with a judge, a jury, barristers and so on, and although I have never been, it just looks so much fun!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Lulworth Cove, Dorset

Right on my doorstep and never been there before in my life!  We were out visiting a NGS garden open to the public for charity today and decided to come a different way home from Swanage.  The road we chose is often closed as it belongs to the MOD, but today, in glorious sunshine, the signs said ROAD OPEN! 

On this road you pass a turning for Kimmeridge and then you will pass a road with a gate saying No Entry.  That way lies the lost village of Tyneham sitting in a valley.  The entire village was requisitioned during WW2 and villagers were told they could come home when the war ended.  But of course they never did.  You can attend a church service there once a year, but otherwise it is gone but not forgotten.  A novel about the big house at Tyneham is The Novel In the Viola by Natasha Solomons - well worth a read, good on the facts, writing a delight, and just a slight tweek in the name of the village.

Anyway, on past that turning, a lovely drive if the road is open, all the way to East Lulworth where there is a castle, and then on down to the coast at Lulworth Cove.  And after parking the car and stopping for a cuppa, we walked down through the village and stood on the steps down to the little beach just watching people, the water, the birds and generally drinking it all in.

And what a glorious little bay it is - it looks like an almost perfect circle from ground level  - and as though a giant just took a bite out of the coastline!   This part of the coast is dark, as there are no towns to pollute the night sky - I think I must aim to go down one night and look at all the stars I never see.

Anyway, a fascinating detour for us, and a place to go back to again and  again.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Etta and Otto and Russell and James - Emma Hooper

Three of the characters of the title are humans, and one isn't.  I will leave it to you to find out a) what kind of "other" the character is, and b) whether or not he is real.  For Etta is eighty-two and is losing her memory.  Like many dementia sufferers, the long term memories are those that still stick, and this becomes obvious as the book progresses, with memories of Etta's early life; how she connects with Otto and then Russell, and what happens to this trio.

It describes how Canadians went off to WW1 and what they found and lived through when they got there.  Not in too much detail but enough to confirm that all wars are hellish but if you live through to the end, you have to live with it for the rest of your life.  It describes what love feels like for some people.  It describes how some  are braver than others in different ways, and of course, it describes the workings of a demented mind and all it's mixed up memories.  I only had one question mark whilst reading this - and you may ask the same question as you read it..... Etta leaves home to find the sea (which she has never seen) and I wondered, however fit she was, whether she could really have managed so many nights in the open and without too much food.  Nitpicking by me of course, as this is certainly a wonderful book, Etta's journey perhaps reminding readers of Harold Fry's journey, although this is not so much the story of her journey but a journey through her memories.

 It isn't a difficult read, but people either like this kind of book (which jumps around in time and also has different character's views) or they don't.  When I am going to review a book I go to Amazon to look at the 1 and 2 star scores.  It is there that I find that some low scores are from readers who don't like the style a book was written in and therefore don't really read that particular book at all.  I mean they read it, i.e. they devour the words on each page; but they don't feel it -like eating a slice of lovely cake but not tasting any sugar.

Friday, 1 July 2016

What to read in July

Well now - the start of the holiday season!  Or, if you have no children, or none at school, the start of that period of the year when you may be able to take the book into the garden, maybe with a jug of Pimms....

And for July, I suggest you find and read  

                                                  a book about families

Any kind of family, any size of family.... whatever.

If you can find it, a newish book from last year springs to mind -

The Truth According to Us - Annie Barrows 

*By the way, Annie Barrows is one half of the team that wrote the Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Society and whilst it was a best seller, I must say that I feel this is the better book.  Look it up - I loved it, and maybe you will too.

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...