Tuesday, 21 July 2020

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 back cover, so I took a chance.  Then I put it on a shelf where it stayed for three years until recently when again, l liked the look of it and took it down.  Pleased to say for me this was worth buying!

This is a dual time line story, but there are also differing  zones between the timelines, so I guess I's describe it as a triple time line at least.  The early part of those time lines takes place in Rome, in 1943, when the Nazi Party is clearing the Jewish Getto, and loading ill-prepared Jews onto carts, to take them to the  railway station for loading onto trucks taking them, ultimately, to their deaths.  A Roman woman, Chiara,  catches the eye of a Jewess, and holds it - why?  She will never know, but what happens next will change her entire life.  The Jewess slowly prises the fingers of her older son away from her own hand and pushes him away.  At that moment Chiara finds herself shouting "My son!  you have taken my son!" and suddenly the boy is off the cart and she has him.

What has she done?  She's 25, unmarried, with a mentally impaired sister, parents dead and only one grandparent left - and she has taken on the care of a little Jewish boy.

This story is really about Chiara.  The boy is always there between the pages, but is not a major character.  Others come and go, some stay, but Chiara is on every page, and as her life goes on, we find out more about the others mentioned.

Besides the story we are told, I found that this book is also about a love affair - a love affair with the City of Rome.  Little cobbled streets, apartments up stairways, churches, galleries - so much is mentioned that you could take the book on holiday and it would see you round the city as well as entertaining you.

Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Mrs Mac Suggests - What to read in July 2020

Well hello!  Too few posts in June, there are some family problems which have stopped me spending much time on here (and in fact I couldn't get a lot read, either!).   However, I did read last month's suggestion and loved it, so here I am with my July suggestion.

How about a 
         dual time story?

That's what I think might be nice, especially if UK weather goes back to sun and fun soon.  Holiday reads sometimes are chosen because they are fat and good to read by the pool, on the beach, or just relaxing on the terrace somewhere or other.  As lots of readers round the world will be staycationing  they may be re-thnking their choice of reading material.... but why would you?  So I'm still in for the dual time story, a nice big 450 pages of Louisiana, USA in both 1875 and 1987.  It's

The Book of Lost Friends - Lisa Wingate

Whatever you choose yourself, enjoy your July reading!

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse - Alexander McCall Smith

The Good Pilot, Peter Woodhouse: a Mail on Sunday Book of the Year by [Alexander McCall Smith]

An interesting tale of life in WW2.  Pleased I read it.  Telling us what it was like to be a landgirl, an American Pilot in Europe, and a wanted man hidden in a Dutch farmhouse, all linked nicely together.  There is no awful violence here, but some wonderful pen-pictures of people.  The farmer who employs the landgirl, the landgirl who falls in love with the pilot, the pilot who is flying missions over Europe - and then there is the slow but enthusiastic lad who cannot join up but can be a farm hand, and of course, the dog Peter Wodhouse.  I like some of McCall Smith's work but not all, but I did particularly like this short and very readable little novel. 

Saturday, 6 June 2020

The joy of having a garden....

... and it is a joy, believe me.  This is an iris siberica (sorry no name) which I planted three years ago.  It has taken three years to bloom - and what a reward!  Outer petals very long and just like velvet.   I did think, this year, about digging it up and moving it, but obviously it took it's own sweet time to settle in and here's my reward.  I think I'll get ten blooms this year, and hopefully more next.  

I have sibericas elsewhere in the garden; one a pale yellow and and brown, and one a blue and white mottled which might be "Flock of Butterflies".  Some, like this one, not in a border but next to a stone sink, filled with water for the birds to  bathe in.  I am widening that border sometime this year so they will  then be in the company of other plants, but they will stay next to the sink

Every day something else to delight, some roses have bloomed and gone already, some are in full bloom, and some still in bud.  All have their own character and colour, some have a glorious smell, and some have been bred just to stand up to attacks of all kinds including weather.  But - you pays your money and takes your choice.

The day lilies have started!  A little early, but the first one is blooming - an apricot colour with a cream stripe through the petal.  The rest are full of bud and I can't wait for my Blousy Ladies to come out and play!

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Mrs Mac Suggests - what to read in June 2020

Perhaps you thought I had disappeared into the good weather?  No, no no.... I just caught up in little jobs and long telephone conversations, and some lovely Zoom get-togethers, too!  We've had ever more lunches in the garden during lock-down in this lovely Spring weather, and I for one don't want it to go - but what I do want is rain at night (and so do the farmers!).  It's due tomorrow but it looks blue-skied and delicious outside still, so let's see shall we?

I wonder if you have any  Small Hardbacks around the place (bottom shelf of bookshelf, under the coffee table or wherever?  Because that's my suggestion to you for June.

So I am going to read a wartime romance - or that's what it says on the cover of 

The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse
Alexander McCall Smith 

which has not been in the house very long but has such a lovely cover it called out to me to take it up for reading in the garden!  Not too hard to do that, is it?  Have a good month, and stay safe.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

The Borrowers - Mary Norton

Well - at the end of April I suggested you read a children's classic, and I told you I was going to read The Borrowers.  And I did!  And what a joy it was to read a children's book from way back when.  

I was delighted to re-read this story of little people who live, hidden away from human beans, and “borrow” everything they need.  This particular family are The Clocks, and live beneath the kitchen, which is really handy for foodstuffs.  The edition I read was the original Puffin edition (children's books published by Penguin from way back in the 1950s), with wonderful pen and ink illustrations.  I loved the original cover.....and I note that the new paperback edition uses the original back cover picture as the new front cover. so someone liked it enough to use it, instead of photographs from TV series and films.  Every little expedition away from home is a frightening yet exciting adventure for Arriety and I loved every page.  Hope you will find it and read it too.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

A pot of loveliness!

Doing a bit of garden nipping and snipping last night, I needed to clear some airspace for a rather small plant just coming into bud.  Largely overcrowded by catmint - the blue spikes you can see several of above, I certainly didn't want to just put them in the garden waste.  As there were about 10 stems, I wondered what would "go with", and before I knew it I had enough for a bunch on the mantelpiece!

In there are:

Nepetia (catmint - the dark blue spikes)
Sisyrinchium (the yellow flowers on long stems - good for seeding anywhere.... they just pop up!)
Ephorbia (commonly called spurge - the lime green ones, and those are not flowers but bracts - flowers so small you can't see them)
Nigella (love-in-the-mist commonly, which is such a lovely name.  Again, these seed anywhere and everywhere..... just pull out the ones you don't want!)

So I got a lovely pot full at no charge, and all my own work -  together with nature, of course.  Such a joy to have a garden during lock-down.  I can empty my mind and just do a bit of pottering!!

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

The Travelling Cat Chronicles - Hiro Arikawa

 A friend lent me this - and what a lovely lend it was. If you are an animal lover, you will soon recognise the close bond that is sometimes formed betweeen an animal and it's human. 

Here, Nana the stray tomcat is found and adopted by Satoru, and they lead a very pleasant life together. And then one day they set out on a journey all over Japan meeting friends of Satoru in the hope that (due to his changed circumstances) they will adopt Nana. No such luck, so he presses on to his Aunt's home - the Aunt who looked after him when his parents died. Now she has to make friends with Nana...... and she doesn't like cats. I won't insert a spoiler, this book is best read without knowledge of the changed circumstances of Satoru....... but I have to say I did have a lump in my throat near the end.    A Lovely little book, simplistic but not boring.


Saturday, 9 May 2020

Goldfinch in the garden today

Look!  saw this in the garden this afternoon

See the source image
Came to have a drink of water.... can't say I have ever seen one in the garden before, but in these strange times, it is our habit to sit in the garden, have lunch, read a book, or perhaps do a spot of weeding.  Today I was clipping dead  twigs from my Acers, and suddenly, with a flurry of wings he flew straight past me and arrived!

What joy we are having this Spring, seeing things we never gave the time to before.  I may not have ever seen one, but surely they have always been there!  What about you?  What are you spotting in these quiet times?

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Shamelessly stealing....... post 10

Short and sweet today, and cannot even tell you where this came from, as I stole it from a friend and she didn't say where she found it....but anyway, what a lovely  thought this is -

We are not all in the same boat,
but our boats are all in the same storm and we will come out the other side. 

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

My Absolute Darling - Gabriel Tallent

It isn't often that I use the word Warning when reviewing a book, and if you read me regularly, you'll know that I don't mention books I have not enjoyed.  So why the warning?


This book is one of those that describes the crimes involved sparsely, but uses much longer and rambling sections to get the reader inside Turtle's head so that we know how she feels to the nth degree.  Turtle is 14, hates school, can clean a gun quickly and well, and lives in absolute poverty with her father.  If I said that  Martin, her father, was a psychopath and a child abuser, some of you would stop reading right now and never give this book a second chance.  But maybe you should read on.  You see Turtle loves her father - although not in the way we want her to.  She swears constantly, in her head.  She calls herself dreadful things, the kind of names that misogynists call women.  And why would she do that?  Because those are the terms her father uses.

Turtle is a loner, for many reasons, but she makes the acquaintance of a couple of boys her age and their families, and this is the start of a voyage of self-discovery which may or may not end well.  It is only when she meets a ten year old child who has run away from home and her mother's boyfriend that she starts to think about her own life in a different way.

I don't want to put anyone off, but this is a harrowing read, and Martin is the only character in any book I have ever read that I despised with my whole heart and found myself wanting him dead as soon as possible.  This is not part of who I am - so the author found a way to make me really "sit up and feel" whilst reading this book - and what a debut he's pulled off.  

If the subject matter is not something you can cope with (and I understand that), perhaps this one is best left alone - but once started, I had to read on, and in doing so found a little more about why people stay with abusers.  "Walk a mile in my shoes" is the kind of statement that we often dismiss.  But in this case, I walked many miles in Turtle's shoes and wanted so much for her to get some kind of happy ending - because she deserved that.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Holly Blue butterfly spot in Dorset garden (May 2020)

Holly Blue Male

Now here's a puzzle!  a very small blue butterfly flitting about this afternoon.... and there are 3/4 different kinds.  Was it this?  yes it was!  Because the underside is very plain and a sort of white colour, so when he settled for a while, I spotted it!

It was only this morning I was walking past the Holly tree and spotted the flowers.... I have never seen holly flowers in my life (seen plenty of berries of course!) but during lock down life has a slower, nicer, quieter pace in the garden and somehow, there is more time to inspect the borders!

That's the third "first time spot" for me this year, and I saw an orange tip again this same afternoon.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Mrs Mac Suggests - what to read in MAY 2020

We've had several lovely weeks of sun, which has helped with lock down because it sort of lifts your heart.  Especially folk like us who are lucky enough to have a garden.  Now we are into a third day of rain - with sunny intervals.  How are you coping?  Mr Mac is an "at-risk" kind of guy, which makes me persona non grata too, out there in the big world.  So small projects round the house are on the cards, and so is reading (of course!)

In the book reading world, I know that some of us are finding it hard to read the books we thought we desperately wanted to before this rubbish virus took over the world.  My own comfort level has always been around 400 pages (so Pillars of the Earth will always be a no-no for me!) but of late I am looking on my  bookcase for "thinnies".

I know I have readers for this particular monthly post, because I can see the figures.  But I have no idea at all who you are and if you enjoy the book I suggest because you don't comment!  Ah well, plenty of lurkers means somebody loves me!!  Moving swiftly on........

I am in other places on the internet, and in another place I suggested to a group of bookie friends that 

a  children's classic 

might be a good choice.  For me it will be a re-read, but a wonderful one and at only 152 pages I think I can concentrate that long!  The new Puffin edition cover has actually used the back cover illustration of the 1958 edition (although I think the original front cover was better, but what do I know!)  Anyway, let me welcome you to the world of

The Borrowers - Mary Norton

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Bedroom lock down project for a rainy day

Well, you have to do something, don't you?  For the first time in several weeks, no sun and it rained all day and  by late morning something had to be done!  I am revamping our bedroom, little by little, and last night the bulb blew when I switched the light on.  This morning was a failed attempt to find a bulb in the house for this particular light fitting, and that was a big fat FAIL! No bulb until Amazon delivers, but on the other hand...... I saw the light (groan!) and decided that our skeleton chandelier needed tarting up a bit.  For what is lock down for, but to encourage a bit of bling into a grey day?

I have been helping my local charity shop clean and remake where necessary, old jewellery, which means that lots of junk necklaces get taken apart and reused.  Sometimes you find something that you have no inspiration for, so they stay in the tin.... or they did, until today!  Lots of "drop" faux pearls.  Just what we needed!

Washed, and as it was (with the exception of two pearl drops for a try out).   The white pieces are just washed sea shells and this is how we bought it.   This has survived two bedroom redecorations so far and we still think it's fun.... but not fun enough any more.  Needs some bling!

And now with added jewellery!  Added drop pearls to all the hanging shell pieces, including a row of pink ones half way up - originally all the trim that hung down was only shells but now she's rather glamorous, isn't she? 

Now back in place with added glamour!

So a few hours with a pair of pincers and a pile of junk pearls and there you go!  I had to lay down for 5 minutes to truly appreciate what I'd done but I'm OK now!  So a much loved skeleton chandelier has been bejewelled and  made into a lovely lady.   

Lock down made me do it......

Friday, 24 April 2020

Spring Garden Tour at Pine Tree Cottage

Hasn't mother nature given us here in the UK a lovely gift of a month of glorious weather?  More like June than April?  All I know is that lunch in the garden on a nearly daily basis at this time of year is unheard of, and  so with Mr Mac as an "at risk" prisoner (but a comfortable one!!) the garden is a delight this year.  So here is a selection of what's out currently.  Enjoy my garden, and stay safe all.

PS a few of these are sideways on.  Sometimes my computer  will not do what I want.......

Glorious white daffodil with palest cream trumpet.  No idea why, because the bulbs I put in here last year were def. yellow!

Ceanothus (Commonly called Californian Lilac - which it isn't!).  60+ variants, of which mine is one.  Spring flowering, likes my soil and smells lovely as you walk by.  From a little slip about 16 years ago, mine is now 15 foot high and 15 foot wide.  Gives shade for later flowering things when it's own flowers are over.

Miniature Iris (6 inches tall tops).  Miracle this was allowed to bloom because some birds like the taste of the  petals and eat them before they are fully open.  This year, no attacks at all and it was such a lovely surprise to see them.

Here they are en masse - lots of new babies so should have a really solid patch next year.

Euphorpia (Characias).  Love this lime green early in the year..... of course the green "flowers"  are not flowers at all but bracts, and so that lovely green colour hangs around for ages!  Easy to grow, cut down to about 4 inches at the end of summer and they will come again.  Wear gloves, as the sap sometimes causes a rash

Ah, now! The glory that is a tree peony.  I thought I had lost this for it disappeared for a couple of years only to spring up again this year, and forgave me (whatever I did) with four huge and gorgeous blooms.

Close-up of the biggest Peony flower, it got bigger than this and opened out flatter with yellow stamens within.

And this is huge clump of iris which started as 2 little clumps of leaves and one flower stem when I bought it from a nursery 4 years ago.  I will split it and move half somewhere else at the end of the  flowering period. There are about 50 flower stems on it, each giving several blooms (so probably about 200 all told)  and it's such a picture.

Here is the first bloom so that you can see the colour in full sun.  (Sorry, this is sideways)  Depending on the amount of sunshire, it may appear nearly black or dark brown.  It's gorgeous!

Finally in the tour, the first Clematis.  I only grow the texensis group as they are easy care and can be cut back in February to around 12 inches as they flower on new growth.  This one has a green flash (see the top two petals) .

Monday, 20 April 2020

Shamelessly stealing - a gorgeous smell! - post 9

Surfing t'internet, as you do, I came across the blog of Remododelaholic (remodelaholic.com) who does all sorts of lovely little things.  I got to thinking (again!) about the lock-down, and what we all might have available round the house and garden as she did.

People addicted to nice smells often have candles that smell.   Others have vapourisers...... and this is a homemade way of getting the same wonderful house perfume but for next to nothing - WIN-WIN!
Mmmm Mmmm!  I can smell it already!

Just note that she used only 3 measuring cups of water.  This means the heat should be really really low, or you will finish your cuppa and find a dried out pan! 

Lemon Mint Stove Top Potpourri

Lemon Mint Stove Top Potpourri

This lemon mint stove top potpourri is a natural way to make your home smell delicious and fill it with the scents of Spring Super easy to make and can make it with just a couple of things and in just some minutes!


  • 3 Cups water
  • 1 Cup fresh mint
  • 1 Lemon sliced
  • 1 Inch Ginger sliced


  • Place all the ingredients in a small pot and stir to combine
  • Take to your stove-top over low heat and let it simmer for 2 hours at a time.
  • Fill with more water as needed

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Shamelessly stealing - a real nice guy! post 8

I KNOW. I KNOW!  I have mentioned this before, but for new readers, I have to bring your attention to something I posted about a couple of weeks ago, because in these strange times, anything that brings a smile to your face or a laugh to your lips is worth everything.

I don't have much to say, but you know that sometimes heroes have feet of clay?  Not

John Krasinski  !!!!!!!

SGN (that's Some Good News) is his very own  broadcast  on a regular basis .  And it is full of good news.

Just go to YouTube and put his name in the search bar.  Be surprised.  Smile a little.  Cry sometimes (because of the cute stuff) and of course, start with Episode 1.  

And really importantly, stay around until the end to see what he really wears round the house.

Stay safe and enjoy his broadcasts.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Shamelessly stealing 7 - be your own genius!


Want to paint a masterpiece?  find something different for that "colouring morning" you hold once a week with the family?  Just want something different from all those whirly kinds of colouring pages?

Of course you do!  On this site you can print out anything from a 1930s Harley Davidson motorbike and sidecar with driver and passenger in a country scene to a medieval manuscript..... and then colour them.

Coloring Books for Free

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

John Prine - RIP

When did I first find out about John Prine?  A long time ago...... and I saw him just once, at the Royal Festival Hall with Iris De Ment.  What a great song writer, what fun, what tears, what life in his songs.

You don't know him?  Get on over to youtube and listen to a few tracks.

Click here for a favourite of me and Mr Mac:


Shamlessly stealing something for an Easter Breakfast! - 6

Look what I found today!

It's the run-up to Easter, and the world is on lock-down.... but if you have kids in the house and even if you don't,  here is something that you might like to put together for an Easter Breakfast, or hardboiled for an Easter Lunch....  Just  a marker pen, some plant stems, or some plastic flowers, or even some paper and wire to make the flowers yourself and hey presto!  Eggs with crowns.

Found on Instagram at Engla Monica Strand.

Have them with love from me and best wishes for Easter.

my scandinavian home: 7 Beautifully Simple Easter DIY Craft Ideas From Scandinavia

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Male Orange tip in the Dorset garden....

How lucky am I?  Two spots I've had in the last couple of days....both the Brimstone and this Orange Tip  I have never seen before in my long life.  Is it because we are lucky to have really warm pre-Easter Sunshine this year?  ...And because we are confined to home, we are lunching outside in the loveliness of Spring?  Yes, I suppose it is!

See the source image

Around the internet - John Krasinski's SGN - WOW!


Don't click on that yet!  Just want to tell you that Upworthy is an American website that brings you all sorts of alternative (and mostly good) news.  They are broadcasting John Kransinski's SGN (Some Good News) vlog which you can also find on YouTube.

Bless That Man!  Tears of Joy in my eyes!  And please stay until he leaves his "newsdesk"  ...... a lovely surprise to see what he actually wears around the house.... :o)

This particular item is just more than brilliant  and so this morning, I'm not stealing anything on the web, just passing this one along.  Pass the link on to someone who might like it.  Me?  I loved it!!

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Male Brimstone spotted in Dorset garden today!

Brimstone (male/underwing) - Tamás Nestor

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Shamelessly stealing (from an ex-banker today!) 5

"Don't Die Until Death Comes To You"  (Syrian Proverb)

.... and in these strange times when we never know what's coming next, this is not a bad way to look at things.  Louai Al Roumani was a banker in Syria.  In the midst of all that warring, and terrorism, his bank continued to operate.  And the things they did would be a good lesson for many of the big businesses currently bemoaning their fate in today's Corona Virus crisis:

"Don't overplan".  Don't try to predict what's coming, better to respond at the time.

"Be flexible with rules"  He says there is a lesson here for government officials - now is not the time to be jobsworths.

"Be magnanimous"  When transport ceased because of rising fuel prices and threats of kidnapping, the bank put on a bus service for staff and because there were spare seats it picked up competitors' staff too.  The way a company behaves during a crisis will be remembered longer than a branding exercise.

And then there is the tip for everyone:

"Be kind to everyone you deal with"  because you might need them in a crisis.

His newly published memoir, Lessons from a War Zone - Louai Al Roumani is from Portfolio Penguin £18.99 hardback, although I see there are a few s/hand on Amazon already.  I don't normally read this kind of book.  How to do better at business is never a subject to fascinate me.  War zones don't make good reading for me.  But from a short article I read, I think this one is going to be fascinating.

Lessons from a Warzone: How to be a Resilient Leader in Times of Crisis by [Louai Al Roumani]

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Shamelessly stealing... 4 (stealing from myself today!)

Roaming the internet, you'll find loads of interesting stuff, so today I thought, how about a new project....?  We all need to keep ourselves occupied in these strange times.  Do you have a chair, a small set of drawers, a stool that has seen better days, or perhaps just needs a spot of colour?  Do you have half full tins of emulsion type paint that you can mix up to make one colour, or a few colours you will like?

There are some very clever upcyclers out there and a good start would be to go to Pinterest and put in "upcycled furniture" to see what comes up!  I found a little table on Pinterest with ballerina legs including "en pointe" ballet shoes.  Fabulous!  I would never attempt this myself, but it just made me laugh out loud and there are loads of ideas simpler than that available to you.  There are no instructions on Pinterest of course, but there are loads of blogs out there that give you step by step instructions, and you'd be wise to have a look at a few if you want a professional finish, especially if the furniture piece you chose has already had a paint-over, or if it is old and dirty.

Here's a chest of drawers I did over last summer in less than a day.  Originally (25 years or so ago), it was unfinished pine, so didn't need stripping or washing, just sanding down before I painted.  The paint is emulsion (the kind you use on walls) and after I'd finished it I gave it a layer of Annie Sloan's wax to protect it.  Changed the knobs from wood to ceramic, but you don't have to do that, you can just paint the knobs.   I painted one drawer lime green just for the fun of it.  You can do it!

Monday, 30 March 2020

Mrs Mac Suggests - what to read in April 2020

Here's another lovely Spring day to be thankful for.  Another line of washing out and blowing.  Another day on lock-down like a lot of you.  Ah well, it could be worse and we need a smile every now and again, so I'm suggesting that for April you find yourself

a book that makes you laugh.

There are lots of them, and you may have some on your shelf.  Do you have an old copy of Buddhism for Sheep knocking around somewhere? Or perhaps Archie and Mahitabel?  It doesn't matter what the title is, just an old favourite that you can smile at, or a book you've never read that looks fun.  I am laughing out loud on nearly every page of my current read, which arrived in the house as a Christmas present.  It's 

Between the Stops - Sandi Toksvig

Good reading everyone, stay safe, and enjoy those extra hours of reading, why don't you!

Between the Stops: The View of My Life from the Top of the Number 12 Bus: the long-awaited memoir from the star of QI and The Great British Bake Off by [Toksvig, Sandi]

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Shamelessly Stealing - 3

An American blog site I found today, surfing the net for ideas gave me a brilliant idea to tell you about.   The blogger is Simply Organised (can't get a link to work so try searching Simply Organised blog) and she's organised all her cables!  Dull?  Think so?  Get occupied!  Make it job for tomorrow!  I thought it was genius because if you are stuck at home you need a challenge.  If you want to do what she did you can do this one of two ways -

1. spend some money and order containers on line - so that you look clean and sleek (!)

2.  shop your house for containers that would do the same job (perhaps a cutlery drawer divider that you keep meaning to use?)

Me?  in my head I am already revamping my bedroom, especially as yesterday I found a pair of no longer used Roman Blinds.  They need a bit of work;  each strap that held the wood stiffeners is to be unpicked and the blinds then need washing to "disappear" the stitching marks, but hey ho, got time on my hands, right?!  Pictures to follow when completed.

And today, to cheer you up here's a pic of my dining room fireplace..............

Our inside the house log store!

Saturday, 28 March 2020

The Bees - Laline Paull

The Bees by [Paull, Laline]

What a strange world I inhabited, reading this one.  The inside of a beehive, and all its workings.  And what a read it was - this will probably be in my Top Ten this year.   I know that some people liked this more than others so it's definitely a Marmite book.  It is hard, if you only like books with "real" happenings, to imagine that you could read a book of 300+pages about bees and their hive.  But for me it was fascinating. 

I knew that queens mated in the air, fertilised by the strongest drone, who died immediately afterwards.  I knew that.  I didn't know that the drone died immediately after leaving his penis inside the queen.  And if that isn't enough, I just thought there were bees who flew and collected pollen, and those who stayed behind.  It turns out that it's much more complicated than that!  The bees who collect pollen, collect that as a second thought.  The first thing they are after is nectar, which is why you see them delving deep into flowers.  The pollen is secondary, but that is the thing you see if you inspect a bee close up in the garden, when you spot the tiny yellow parcels attached to the legs.

And if this sounds like a natural history lesson, forget it, for although the bees in this book are not humanised in any way except for speech, it is wonderful and illuminating, and if you can make it, will make you understand a lot more about honey, about the way a hive works, and what happens during a year's cycle.  Did you know that they have castes?  That the lowest caste are the cleaners of the hive?  They have policemen?  A ruling class?  Proper nurseries?  Did you know that the drones are waited on hand and foot, and fed the best, and cleaned and manicured by the others...... because they are male, and need to be kept big and strong on the chance that they are the chosen one to mate with a new queen.  I could go on.

The heroine of this book is Flora 717, a lowly cleaner worker bee.  She's not liked much, she's a bit on the plain side, too tall, markings too dark.  And if this all sounds totally human you might find yourself open-mouthed like me. You'll learn how and why this structure works, and follow Flora rising in the ranks from cleaner to forrager.  The more I read, the more I loved this book.  I will never, ever, look at a bee in the same way again.

At the end of the book, the author tells you which book she found out all the facts from, and also gives a Google link to follow in case you don't believe   what you are reading.  Finally, here is a link to a very short slo-mo film with some facts overlaid.  Watch it!

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Shamlessly stealing - 2

Good morning/evening, depending on when you read this.... still continuing to shamelessly steal ideas from blogworld.  Today I watched how to update and beautifully paint a two drawer dresser.  Hers was fabulous, so I decided against that!! 😊

But as I was drifting around t'internet, I found lists and lists and lists, and spotted some stuff that might inspire yourselves.  Here's a little list of just four things, all of which seemed to me like a good idea!

Declutter the photos on your phone

Declutter the photos on your computer

Declutter the documents on your computer

Scan papers you want to read and shred the rest

You could do them all in one day, or you have a list there to last for four days.  Up to you, but when this strange time is over, there will be thousands of people with tidier lives, hopefully, and therefore less stress - because it's stressful enough already and WE WANT LESS OF THAT!

Worry a little less today if you can and if the sun is shining where you are, stand out in it and get some Vitamin D.

Stay safe wherever you are.

Friday, 20 March 2020

Shameless! I'm shameless..... stealing ideas around the blogworld!

I read a blog post this morning which listed 30 things to do whilst confined to your home.  So if you are, or if you're going to be shortly, you might like to make a list of your own.

I'm not going to list her 30 things, and I'm not going to list mine, either, but one of the things she listed was one of those things I never do but will consider this strange and different year....

Deep-clean your home!

Over on this side of the pond we would call that Spring Cleaning... and after all, it is spring!  I may not necessarily do the whole house, but in the next week I think I will do both bedrooms, including washing or changing the curtains, putting clean newspaper on top of the wardrobes (what?) which is a tip you may never have considered.   I hate housework, and this is one of those things that saves me any angst.

Cover tops of wardrobes with newspaper.  Bedrooms get dusty.  Change paper as often as you like.... once a month, once a season, once a year, but all you do is fold the newspaper sheets up with the dust inside and bin them!  RESULT!

And to cheer your way today, here is a lovely view, somewhere is northern Italy, near the coast, taken on holiday a few years go.  Enjoy. x

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Corona Virus thoughts......

Corona?  When I was a kid that was a fizzy drink (soda pop)!!  And now, here we are with the world in lock-down with the Corona Virus.  Horrible, but we can't stop it until it runs it's course, so like other bloggers I thought I'd post news and other's views.

Let's not involve politics of any kind at all people!  Let's say a big thank you to all those who will endeavour to keep your country running, wherever you are in the world.  Let us be kind to those who need assistance.  Let us not be too greedy (especially over toilet rolls!).

And now I'm including some comments from a blogger in Minnisota USA who I follow because there was some great stuff in her latest post plus a lovely summer rose from my garden to cheer up my readers :

"As Bloggers, Influencers, etc. I feel we have at least some moral obligation to stop what we’re doing for a second and acknowledge what’s going on in the world. I also believe we absolutely have the obligation to spread this right now: DON’T PANIC! Currently, in my home state schools are closed and it seems pretty much everything else that is not mandatory is already closed or not far behind. Its time to go home and stay there (if you possibly can) and binge watch Netflix for a bit.

I can’t personally do that entirely but I can MOSTLY. I don’t need to go the grocery store or go out to eat or go out to a bar. I don’t need to do anything currently but go to my day job and go home. My day job has five employees and we’re not hugging each other lol.

When I close up at the end of the day I hit every door handle, light switch and surface with a disinfecting wipe. I don’t feel we’re being silly or idiotic.  Our boss (my Mom) is currently going through chemotherapy treatments and we have banned her from all public places. I will be getting her needs from grocery stores etc… its not negotiable lol.

PLEASE think of people like my Mom before you decide that this is all hype. It won’t hurt anybody to stay home a bit more than usual and wash their hands…
I know people are being idiots. I know the media is to blame for a lot of it. I know that if my Mom gets sick (with the measures we’re taking) it will be most likely me who gives it to her.

I’m limiting my social contact.
I’m doing this because I love my Mom. Her health is not something I’m going to take chances on. And its not like staying home is such a burden good grief!

Seriously, only buy what you need. NO ONE will need twenty years worth of toilet paper. Packaged foodstuffs - If it has a best before date you really can eat it for a few days after; and you can also freeze it,. But if it will most likely expire before you could possibly eat or freeze it please don’t buy it, leave it for someone else.

If you have more than you need PLEASE DONATE IT.

Stay home all that you possibly you can. (Going to the movies or the shops with your kids entirely cancels out the point of all of this). The only stop I’m making is a stop at the liquor store on my way home. Everything is gonna be all right. 
Now, Grandma’s House DIY will return to our regular scheduled posts 🙂"

So that's what Tarah wanted to say, and I'm sure that loads of other people on other blogs are saying the same thing or similar.

You can reply to this or not, you can comment or not, but as long as any reader feels a bit better because other people think like you, well - that's the whole point.  Don't feel lonely out there if you are self isolating.  Pick up the phone, or send a lovely chatty email letter to  someone on your Christmas card list every day.  Do some exercises (tin of baked beans in each hand for example - 20 lifts each  side.  Walk upstairs 2/3 times more than normal.  Eat a little less than usual if you are healthy.  Is this the time to give up smoking?  Well, you could try!  And even if your garden is only a little courtyard, make the coffee and sit out in the fresh air for an hour.  

Bless us all, eh?

Early One Morning - Virginia Baily

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