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?

Saturday, 14 March 2020

The Highland Falcon Thief - M G Leonard and Sam Sedgman

Great adventures aboard a steam train on it's last journey! Aimed at 8 - 12 years, I loved this and I am ancient!  It would also make a great "read-aloud" book.  It's the first in a series (Adventures on Trains) of adventures with Hal and his journalist uncle Nat. 

Uncle Nat is covering the last journey of this lovely steam engine, pulling a royal train on a rail tour of the UK before going to a railway museum. (For train enthusiasts, the Highland Falcon is based on a real steam engine, The Mallard).  Even if you have no interest whatsoever in trains, if you like a mystery this will do it.  If you like mysteries on trains, this will do it.  If you like jewel robberies, this will do it! 

Hal doesn't really want to go, but his Mum is just off to hospital to have a baby, and   Uncle Nat has arranged for a ticket for Hal to join him on this adventurous journey.  So I guess he'll just have to make the best of it...... and it isn't very long before he discovers a stowaway, and a jewel is stolen.  Who?  What?  How?   Just like the very best mystery on a train tales, this has everything, including lovely illustrations which are from Hal's sketchbook, as he draws things he doesn't really understand to work them out.  There are clues, but although I thought I knew "who" halfway through, I certainly didn't know "how" until Hal and the stowaway produced the evidence.  Some great characters here, including a chubby man with fingers like pork sausages; a man with a scar on his upper lip who obviously looks like a criminal; an actress who is not very bright and then of course Uncle Nat who helps Hal solve the mystery by asking the right questions, and not telling Hal that he mustn't do this  that and the other like a parent would!  Great stuff!

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Mrs Mac Suggests.... what to read in March 2020

Have I ever said this before?  March is my birthday month.... Bossy Aries lady here!  And with the end of a chesty cold, which has taken away my taste as well - don't eat so much if you can't taste, so is that a good thing?

As well as my birthday,  March has St David's Day and the first day of Spring too.  So I have a springlike feel about the whole thing and my garden is full of miniature daffodils in full bloom.

Spring though, has nothing to do with my suggestion this month.  I've been thinking, and may I suggest you find and read

an author's first book?

..... and when I say a first book, I mean that, not an author's only book so far!!

I'm going to read the first book of an author I have read before, set in the USA, and it's

The Next Step in the Dance - Tim Gautreaux

Enjoy your reading this month... maybe you can get outside for an hour or so if you are in the Northern Hemisphere - a coffee and a few pages of your book is such a treat in the sunshine.

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...