A very big catchup…

Time continues to slip away this year. I won’t mention the Covid news (all okay here and hope you are too) or the U.S. election news (I’m thrilled and relieved) as I know everyone is really over the unrelenting news of it all. So straight to what’s going on book wise on our little island state.

I started a couple of books but they were both DNF. The first one was Girt, An Unauthorised History of Australia by David Hunt. I was listening to it being read as an audible. It is a humorous version of Australia’s early history and though I enjoyed the content I encountered a large problem. After every page the sound of a large whip cracked! Louder than the narrative and regularly at the bottom of EVERY page. At first it was startling. Then it just became annoying. Interesting content was being read then suddenly this very loud cracking whip would lash through the air and crack. Whoever thought this is a good idea should have their head examined. I finally reached a point I couldn’t bear it anymore and sent it to the ‘unfinished bin’.

The next book I began was My Love Story, an authorised autobiography of Tina Turner. I don’t usually read celebrity biographies. I can count the number on one hand. But I have always been a huge fan of Tina Turner and in the 90’s I flew to Melbourne twice to attend her concerts. Anyone who can sing and dance on stage for over two hours then complete a finale of hanging upside down from a cherry picker over the audience while still belting out one of her hits at the age of 69 gets my vote of admiration. She was a wonderful performer.

However, as is often the case the book was a big disappointment. It was very self indulgent, with a continual carry on of name dropping and how she did everything except scale Mt. Everest backwards in stilettos. I got bored quickly so I think she is now relegated to my bins of history. Her performances though will always be top notch in those memories.

By then all of the news in America was kicking off full on and the last thing I was going to do was read anything that made me think so I pulled out a comfort read.

The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield. This book was a reread and once again it soothed my frayed nerves. It is such a fun book and would lower my blood pressure as soon as I picked it up.

Now it is November and I have always loved this month. Growing up in the United States, November was full of family fun with Thanksgiving, my birthday and looking forward to Christmas. Now, I no longer get the same excitement about Christmas as it is just too commercial for my tastes. Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Australia and family is overseas and greatly diminished. However, my birthday remains. I always begin my diary on my birthday for the following year and am enjoying the blank slate it currently contains.

Here is hoping 2021 is a much better year or at least slows down a bit for all of us. My heart remains with the people around the world who continue to be so affected by Covid. I think of you UK people in lockdown and I worry about my American friends and family who continue to dodge this disease on a daily basis. Keep your masks on people!

Until next time-

I look forward to picking up some interesting books, doing a photography post very soon and sharing what else life throws at us down here in our end of the world. Stay safe…

The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break

Written by Steven Sherrill. USA – first published in UK by Canongate Books 2003- Edinburgh.

The blurb on the back of this book states…..

Five thousand years after leaving the Cretan Labyrinth, the Minotaur- or M as he is known to his colleagues- is working as a line chef at Grub’s Rib in Carolina, keeping his horns down, trying in vain to put his past behind him. He leads an ordered lifestyle in a shabby trailer park where he tinkers with cars, writes and rewrites to-do lists and observes the haphazard goings on around him. Outwardly controlled, M tries to hide his emotional turmoil as he is transported deeper into the human word of deceit, confusion and need.

I walked into our indie book shop Fullers when one of the staff walked up to me to say hello. I was browsing the shelves as I often do and he walked to one shelf, picked out a book and handed it to me. “Read this” he said. I took one look at the cover and thought, “This is something I would never look at twice.” It isn’t my genre but to be honest I’m tired of the genres I often pick. Non fiction and travel writing especially. I asked him what it’s about. He told me “A minotaur who lives and works in America.” Well that sums it right up doesn’t it. Then we had a quick chat about it and I thought “Why not?” and brought it home. I began it at once and found so different I was really enjoying it.

M lives in a Carolina state, probably North Carolina, though it doesn’t specify. Part of the novel does state it is a 9 hour drive to Florida which fits and they eat Tex Mex food which made me think of Texas not the Carolinas but by now I suppose most states have Tex Mex food.

M is quite sensitive and also very self conscious. Who wouldn’t be if they had the body of a human and the head of a bull. I thought this book would have a lot of bullying behaviour because of his appearance and the fact he walks around with a large set of horns on his head. But it doesn’t fall into that trap.

It is a story of his mates at work, the other people who live in the run down trailer park he lives in, the manager of the trailer park. Their daily life. The book is very well written and does pull you in. There are some rough spots in it regarding a couple of incidents and some crude language but it is all in context and I didn’t find it bothersome at all.

I enjoyed the moments described as he worked for Grub who ran the rib & steak house. M is a great worker and very handy with a knife and it was fun to see the work he did in the kitchen.

I understand there is another book out about M called The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time but Peter at the book shop told me he didn’t think that one was as good as this one.

If you’re looking for a quick, 312 page read about some very unusual people and situations you may enjoy this. The themes covered are dealing with those who are impoverished, different in society, lifestyles and difficulties dealing with those who don’t fit in. I find myself thinking about M a lot. He is such a real character and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if I met him one day walking up the street.

The Guardian wrote an in-depth review of this book (here) in 2003 if you’re interested in reading more. I don’t review books, I only talk about my narrow scope of them. I leave the in-depth reviews to those who do it well.

Simply Sunday

Today is a sunny, spring like day in Tasmania. In Australia the seasons begin on the first of the month. So September 1 was the first day of spring here. However I do not celebrate it until the equinox as I don’t think you can fool Mother Nature into thinking it’s spring when there is still bits of snow around parts of the state. In my mind spring is just around the corner.

Our state still has the bridge over the moat closed to mainland Australia due to Covid 19 so we aren’t going anywhere and neither is anyone coming here without 2 weeks of quarantine. Ho hum. We are fortunate we do not have the virus in our state but I feel for people in other parts of the world struggling with it.

On to the book I just finished yesterday. Yes it is another bit of travel writing. I think I’m almost at brain capacity with travel writing as I have been immersed in it for some time. Might be time to move on to something else for awhile.

This book is called Ghost Rider by Neil Peart. Memoir in its nature and perhaps a bit overlong. I was ready for it to end at a couple of points however it continued on.

Neil was a Canadian professional drummer working with the well known band Rush. I had not heard of but that is not unusual. He was married to Jackie with one 19 year old daughter, Selina, he was very close to.

She leaves home to begin university in Ontario and is in a car accident and killed instantly. Of course he and his wife are devastated. Then a couple of months later, Jackie is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Within a relative short amount of time he loses both his daughter and his wife. Then his dog dies. His very best friend in the world is arrested for selling drugs and goes to jail for a couple of years. What does one do in this situation?

He gets on his motorcycle and rides through Canada, the United States and into Mexico.

The book is about his travels which I found really good. He is good at describing the people he meets, the accommodation he stays in and the food he eats. I really enjoyed that.

He is also a big reader and he takes a great deal of life’s lessons from the books he has read and the books he is currently reading. He always visits a book store if one is nearby on his travels

The book also deals with the grief he feels and the loss and confusion of having to begin his life all over again in his late 40’s/early 50s. He has a small home at a lake in Quebec he spends time in and writes about the nature he observes. He is an avid bird watcher and writes of the birds.

He shuns being around many people and instead concentrates on having to keep moving as he is unable to sit still for long. He also hikes, spends time watching the beloved birds and reading a great deal. He has several good friends who live in various parts of North America that he rides his bike to in order to spend time with them.

This is his journey out of grief. I really enjoyed many things about this book.

He keeps a journal regularly and writes down everything that happens to him each day. The book is developed from this journal. He also writes long letters to his best mate in prison and to several friends.

The book is a combination of what he writes in his journal and what he writes in his letters. There isn’t very tight editing in it so it does tend to ramble, especially during the last third of the book. I became weary of the repetition at this point. However by then I was invested enough in his life I did want to know how it ended.

I do wish the editor had been a bit harsher with slashing out some paragraphs.

But overall it is a very good book and it deletes deeply into what people go through with the loss of loved ones and some of his thoughts were enlightening. However I wouldn’t wish the experience on anyone. He addresses what he does with the anger he feels as well.

If travel by motorbikes is of interest to you then there is plenty to keep you entertained in this but it does come with a lot of personal baggage as you can imagine.

The Blurb from Amazon:

On a journey of escape, exile, and exploration, he traveled from Quebec to Alaska, down the Canadian and American coasts and western regions, to Mexico and Belize, and finally back to Quebec. While riding “the Healing Road,” Neil recorded in his journals his progress and setbacks in the grieving/healing process, and the pain of constantly reliving his losses. He also recorded with dazzling, colourful, entertaining, and moving artistry, the enormous range of his travel adventures, from the mountains to the sea, from the deserts to Arctic ice, and the dozens of memorable people, characters, friends, and relatives he met along the way.

Published March 2003 by ECW Publishers. – 400 -pages

One More Traveller’s Tale

When the Covid 19 Lockdown started I thought, “Great! I have all of this time to catch up reading TBR books.” However I could not concentrate and from reading news items, magazine articles and other blog posts I see I wasn’t alone.

I started books. I started several books but couldn’t get past more than 20 pages or so. The mood left and I’d switch to something else. Then I just read other, shorter things. I read magazines, I studied photography you tube videos. I read articles in the Guardian. I read everything except the back of cereal boxes and books on my shelf.

For the past couple of weeks I have been revisiting those discarded tales and finishing them. Travel writing held my interest more than anything else. I notice non fiction also appealed more than fiction. It kind of feels like we’re living in fiction and I think reading non fiction makes me believe all is right with the world. Weird type of reasoning.

So I finished this little Kindle story I downloaded for next to no cost as I liked the idea of an older person (man in his 60’s) walking the Via Francigena pilgrimage in Europe. This walk begins in Canterbury, England and ends in Rome, Italy.

A Hobart couple did this walk last year and I enjoyed following their walk on Instagram very much. They have also done some talks about it in the community once returned. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get to the one I had planned.

The name of the books I am referring to is Over the Hill and Far Away: Recollections of an Older Person’s Pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome written by Roger Harland.

Mr. Harland is a New Zealander who is quite religious and he had a desire to do this pilgrimage for quite awhile. He and his wife decided he would do it and she would then meet him two months later in Rome.

In my mind he is a little guy wearing a very serviceable hat with his blue backpack on his back. He carries a hiking pole. What stands out the most in this story is how often he gets lost. He almost doubles the miles of walking because he back tracks so much. He is always lost. If the trail goes to the right, he goes left. If he is to climb a hill he manages to find the down slope. It amazes me he actually makes it.

The only language he speaks is English. That creates a few difficulties in France and Italy. A few people lost patience with that.

He stayed in hostels and convents, most of the time with much younger travellers than he is. I enjoyed seeing how often the young people helped him out when he needed it.

The grumpiest people he met along the trail were the priests and some of the nuns in the convent accommodations. Their lack of patience and the amount of eye rolling they did actually surprised me. However there were a couple of nuns that were lovely and did help him when needed.

He often bought food in shops, ate in cafes and enjoyed getting his lunch and eating it in town squares with the locals (though there weren’t many he could converse with) in smaller villages.

This book is a fairly quick read. He didn’t have anything terrible that happened to him and his descriptions of the trail and accommodations were embraced by this reader. He also had quite a history of the European wars of the past and he always made sure he visited and discussed the monuments and plaques he came across. He would give a brief discussion about the history of those places and what the monument meant to the locals. I found that interesting.

He would also make a point of visiting all of the small churches and a few cathedrals he came across. He enjoyed walking around the buildings, looking at their structure and would look at photographs, stained glass windows and anything else specific to the location. He attended a few services when he happened upon them.

He always bought paper maps in every village or received them from tourist information offices. He enjoyed a glass of wine at the end of the day and he carried a tablet to use in cafes that had free wi-fi.

It is an enjoyable read and he did an excellent job of completing the walk. You could feel the pride and confidence in himself once he finished this life goal.

I would recommend it as an enjoyable read though not as heart stopping as the travel book I wrote about in my last post.

Ahhh–to be able to travel again.

Miles From Nowhere-Travel

I just finished the travel book Miles From Nowhere by Barbara Savage. I think it is one of the best travel books I have ever read and I have read quite a few. Barbara and her husband Larry decide to ride their bicycles around the world in 1978 and 1979. They begin from their home in Santa Barbara, California and head north to Victoria Island in Canada. They ride across Canada, down the east coast of the USA then leave for Europe. From Europe they head to Egypt, India, Malaysia and finally New Zealand before going home again

In the end they travelled 22,000 miles. What is so interesting about this book is that it was written 40 years ago. Long before the internet and looking everything up on google. They describe hardship, joy and weather as if the reader is right beside them experiencing everything.

They don’t shy away from their extremely difficult experiences travelling, especially in Egypt at the time. They go days with little food at times, get incredibly sick; they camp out most of the time unless it wasn’t safe. They ride through extreme heat, cold and even snow.

The fact they stayed together as a married couple and actually survived this trip was admirable. Several times they were in very dangerous circumstances. They shared their joy at travelling in New Zealand.

The reader is introduced to many people, places and the most interesting owners of accommodation and cafes.

It is a book that is hard to put down but the most moving part of this book (and this is not a spoiler as it was stated at the very beginning) is when, once home again, after all their experiences, Barbara is training for a marathon on her bicycle, is hit by a car and dies of a head injury. It is absolutely heartbreaking.

She wrote her book once home and sent it to the publisher just before 1983, then was killed and never saw it published. Her husband Larry made sure it was published and I later learned he remarried again in 1985. This couple went through so much together I couldn’t believe it once I finished and reflected on her death.

I would give this book a 5 star rating. There is enough history but not too much, enough suspense, enough joy balanced throughout. If you like travel writing I cannot recommend this book enough.

An August Winter Day in Tasmania

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Mt. Wellington sits behind Hobart. A winter’s day. (Stock Photo)

We have had a pretty good winter this year. A few days of quite cold weather and even some snow but not enough to stay on the ground where we live. The mountainous areas have been beautiful though.

Ollie Mackers
Ollie’s first trip through McDonalds takeaway for ice cream. I eat the ice cream. He licks the container with one spoonful left. He was most interested in the person who took our payment.

I’ve been spending time with Ollie. He is coming up on his first birthday in a week’s time which is very hard to believe.  He’s such a joy to live with

 

I’ve had lots of time to reorganise my book journal. It’s now electronic on a table that is easily accessible and I have deleted my Good Reads account. I grew tired of it. I also gave the blog page a bit of a clean up and put in some new colours and changed the masthead with one of my photos of a local beach.

Books read since I was here last are as follows:

I finished the audio book from the library of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.  I was enjoying it at night before going to sleep. I really enjoyed this story and the characters will stay with me for quite awhile.

2020-08-11 16.11.14Oliver was lovely with his love of his “finally ever after family” and his love of books. What a
terrible start to life he had. Sikes was so horrible.  Dickens was so wonderful at describing life in London during the 1800s and the poverty permeated all he touched in this tale. Evil was evil and good was good. (Narrator Wanda McCaddon was excellent with all of the voices.)

I also finished off the Diary of Samuel Pepys as I probably mentioned before. His description of life in London in the 1660s was remarkable and living through the plague and the great London fire was described as though one had travelled into the pages of the book. I really enjoyed it. (Read by Leighton Pugh with David Timson; both excellent).

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Love this cover.

More currently I really enjoyed the audio version of Australian Julia Baird’s book of essays entitled Phosphorescence. Julia Baird narrates it and it is as if one is sitting down in a room with a coffee or cup of tea with her.

Isn’t the cover stunning as well. She wrote of nature, mindfulness, storm chasing photographers, her family and her battle with cancer. It is an extremely uplifting read written with honesty. I gave copies to friends and they enjoyed it as well.

Another current book I listened to, this one written by Sayaka Murata, was Convenience Store Woman. Narrated by Nancy Wu who pronounced all the Japanese vocabulary for me and translated by Editor/Translator Ginny Tapley Takemori.   A story of a young Japanese woman working in a convenience store in Tokyo who enjoys her work enormously. She enjoys the structured work place 2020-08-11 16.14.01and although she is not fitting societal norms of what a woman is supposed to be like in Japan she manages to come to terms with it, finding her own place in the world and continuing onwards.  It is an unusual story and one learns about more of the expectation upon women in Japan. She defies the traditional norms and succeeds wonderfully in getting to accept who she is and what she wants out of life, as simple as it is. I really enjoyed it.

Another surprising read I enjoyed on my Kindle (but wasn’t sure if I would) is Too Much and Never Enough by Donald Trump’s sister, Mary Trump.  I thought this tale might be one of sour grapes, maybe quite vindictive or poorly written.. It wasn’t. Mary Trump has a PhD in Clinical Psychology and works as a mental health consultant with adults in her full time job.  She didn’t so much as diagnose her family members as describe their behaviours over the years. (I bought the Kindle version as I didn’t want to spend money on the new hardcover version as I wasn’t sure I’d like it.😁)

2020-08-11 16.29.20Her description of the family and especially the patriarch Fred Trump, (Donald’s father) and the siblings of Donald are as objective as one in that position can possibly be. After reading how Fred treated all of his children it is no wonder Donald is as he is.  It certainly helps one to understand him but it doesn’t make me like him any better. He is a very damaged man and that is apparent to most people in this world. I am glad I read it and I liked the author very much.

Another book from my shelves I really enjoyed was Ten Years a Nomad by Mathew Kepnes. Raised in Boston, having finished university and not wanting to settle down with a 9 to 5 job he conquers the fear that many Americans have related to travel and goes to the Caribbean on a holiday and later to Asia.  He then decides he is going to travel and live in various parts of the world for the next eight years. This happens more as he continues to extend his travelling.  Many Americans, myself included are raised to believe America is the only country worth travelling in. My father continually had us believing we would be mugged, taken advantage of, probably killed if we travelled anywhere outside of the U.S. When actually the U.S is probably the most dangerous place to travel with all the weapons around.

This young man explains it wonderfully. Another thing we have noticed that Americans 2020-08-11 16.14.45do is that when one returns from an extensive trip nobody takes any interest in it. Questions aren’t really asked and instead family are more interested in what you had for dinner last night or have you seen such and such on Netflix.  Friends often say, “Did you have a good time?” and that is the end of the conversation. The author explains this is his experience also and he can’t get over how life just on as normal as if he was never away.

They either don’t know what questions to ask, are just happy you survived the experience that must have been traumatic at times and let’s move on.

I enjoyed this author’s comments on his entire experience and when he did decide to settle down he was well and truly ready.

I am currently reading another travel tale but will talk about that one when finished. I’m 60% through another tale, this time an older British man undertaking the pilgrimage from Canterbury to Rome.

I hope this catches everyone up. I will have some photography to put up before long as I’ve spent a good deal of time watching photography lessons on You Tube and undertaking a Master Class on line from Annie Leibovitz I really enjoyed.

I am undertaking a fitness program too but more on that later as bits of it are quite unusual. More to catch up on but this post is long enough so will go hunt up some photos of the above named books and finish off with the Penguin, who by the way has a new shirt. (South American art work on a t shirt is new). All the best to my online friends. I’ve enjoyed your posts in the last month though I don’t always comment. Too many to comment on, but you know who you are and I do read them.

As my friends and I always say to each other…..cheers dears!

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A bit of South American art work.

 

 

 

 

Two Books for Mention on a Sunday

41057294._UY2115_SS2115_After several days of absolute pouring rain we are finally having a couple of lovely winter days with full sunshine.  Ollie and I went to the dog beach yesterday and he had a lovely time.

Books:

I finished Normal People by Sally Rooney. Our book group was to have discussed it last month but we are not meeting now so I was late reading it. I didn’t really want to read it as I’ve heard both negative and positive reviews about it. It’s not a long book so I picked it up to see what all the fuss is about it since I had it. I have to say it was not a book I loved but I can see why some others loved it. The story is about Marianne who is a rich high school/college girl who lives in Sligo, Ireland then goes to Trinity college in Dublin. She comes from a wealthy family of her mother who ignores her and her older brother who is quite abusive. She lives in her own world and has no friends and states she doesn’t need them. She doesn’t care of about high school or the people in it but she is very bright.  She meets Connor. Connor’s mother Lorraine cleans for Marianne’s household. Because Marianne is so ostracised at school Connor does not let on they know  each other much less see each other.  They develop a very long standing intimate relationship but nobody knows about it except Connor’s mother who likes Marianne and leaves him to it.

dog beach
There are two sections to dog beach separated by a thin stream of water. However we have had so much rain there was water everywhere.

The story continues. Both are well read and exceedingly bright and though Connor comes from a poorer background he gets a scholarship to go to Trinity and their saga continues in Dublin. Then we get new boyfriends and new girlfriends although the two of them always seem to love each other.

I grew very weary of this relationship.  Some of the positive points of the book to me were I liked Connor’s character and his mother Lorraine. I think they were the best developed characters.  Marianne annoyed me beyond belief.  We begin to see her mental instability as the book continues and even understanding that I didn’t feel anything for her. I could say the book is plot driven because all of the other characters including friends at Trinity and back in Sligo were not really developed.  It becomes more apparent as we continue Marianne wants to be physically and mentally hurt by her boyfriends and then by others as well. She doesn’t have much self esteem by the end.

The main things that bothered me about this book:

dog beach 2
This is the far end of the dog beach. I like all the rocks. This beach is on the Derwent River that runs out to the Tasman sea on the east side of Tasmania.

The writing in the first half of the book was poor. I kept thinking “where on earth was the editor” with these sentences?   I thought the writing became stronger towards the last of the book. It settled. There were so many inconsistencies with the book. Marianne seemed strong in herself at the beginning. By the end she is like an entirely different person. I know everyone changes during that age group but her basic nature wasn’t the same.

The store of the relationship of Marianne and Connor drags…..and drags…..and drags….. It is very repetitious. It is very predictable. I was going to give it up about 60 or 70% of the way through but I was curious how this book would end. When the ending came it is incredibly unsatisfying and open to interpretation as to how one feels about the entire story. I kind of thought, “right, they have left the way open for a sequel.”  That was my first thought. My second thought is if there is a sequel I won’t be looking at it.

A series has evidently been made of this book and some viewers in the United States have viewed it. I haven’t seen it here on any thing I have access to but I don’t think I could bare to watch it.

My other thought was if I was in the ages between 16 and 25 I’d probably have loved the angst of this story and the relationship and wondering about all the options available to them and how it would work out. I wouldn’t have cared that the writing wasn’t that great. There are a couple of vloggers I came across on You Tube that are in their 20’s and they rave about it. In fact three of them got together and had a Normal People day where they all sat down in their respective homes one day and read it together then talked about it that evening.

But as an older person I found the book tedious and done before a hundred different ways and I expect and enjoy better writing these days. I guess you could say I’m much more discerning as you might expect a person to be who’s been reading more than 60+ years.

dog beach 3
We are at the far end of the beach. In the distant horizon is where the location of the first photo I posted is. In the sun. A lovely sandy beach.

Would I recommend this book to others?  No. There is plenty more out there to read that’s enjoyable unless you’re 16 and having boyfriend problems as there are many lessons one that age could learn as to what a relationship should be about. As there are so many examples in this book about what a relationship shouldn’t be about.  If that makes sense.

I was going to share a second book with you today but I won’t as I think this post is long enough and I don’t like to make them too long.

Instead I will post up a couple of photos from Ollie and I at the beach yesterday. I’ll write about the second book I received from the library this week in a day or two. I hope everyone is having a good weekend.

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Now! Off to find another book to read.

Rainy day in Hobart

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7 Mile Beach- Hobart, Tasmania on a very grey day.

This will be short as I need to go get some groceries but when I went to start the car the battery was dead. I’ve most likely left the overhead light on again as the garage is so dark during the dark days and forgotten to turn it off. The RAC-T (Royal Auto Club of Tasmania) is on the way with the cables so I thought I’d write while I wait.

It’s been grey and rainy here for the past couple of days, today and will be again tomorrow.  So much rain and all the rivulets are running wild down Mt Wellington.  Two days ago I took Ollie out to Seven Mile Beach. It is about a 25 minute drive just east of Hobart out past the airport. It channels into the Derwent River that eventually goes out to the Tasman Sea.  It is a nice beach and very few people on it when it is very grey and dark. Our photo club was challenged to do solstice sunrise or sunset shots but with the heavy cloud cover and fog I decided on an afternoon photo shoot. Besides I had to get Ollie out as he was full of beans and we needed to get rid of a few of them. I have told our vet she is not allowed to ever operate on him as all his beans may fall out.  A bit of a run on this beautiful beach sorted out a few of them.

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Bookwise- I finally finished the 37th hour of selections of The Diary of Samuel Pepys. What a long haul it was but overall I enjoyed it very much but by the end I was truly tired of him. The way he treated women as if everyone of them was manufactured from Mattel and always thinking about his own work, his own days, his own pleasures. But I did enjoy the stories of London and hearing about the September fires in 1666 and the plague year the year before. People’s lives were so difficult and desperate and it made me happy I was here in Tassie during our own pandemic.

41057294._UY2115_SS2115_I have a couple of new books on the go but not sure I’ll stick with them. My mood changes from day to day. I’ve started Normal People by Sally Rooney. I’ve been hearing a lot of good about that book. My other book is called A Time of Birds by Helen Moat. This book is newly published also and is a tale of Irish woman, Helen and her older teenage son’s bike ride from England to Istanbul. She is a school teacher who suffers from the same depression her father had and she thinks this bike ride might give her a new perspective on life. She has an old clunky bike that some lycra clad bicyclists in the Netherlands had a real go at making fun of but her son is more modern. Her father spent his later years studying birds and she wants to continue that tradition on her trip across Europe. However she hasn’t mentioned any of them yet.

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I do like this cover.

So far she talks a lot about her dad to the point of dwelling I’d say. Have you ever been around that person, maybe at work, who does nothing but talk about their friends you don’t know and that friend’s relatives or experiences and you still have no idea who they’re talking about but they just never stop?  We all talk about family members to our friends which is fine but there are some people who are more acquaintance who continually go on and on and on as it begins to wear a bit. I’m hoping as she gets into this trip she focuses on the present and not so much of the past but we’ll see.

I’ll let you know how I go with the books. In the meantime I’ve posted some photos of our day at the beach. Remember it is winter here.103551374_3290431614324618_4941826444125954385_o

Until next time.

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Penguin Lines Series

2020-05-31 10.39.18Sunday here and I’m moving ahead here. Forget the post about splitting up or not splitting up book series.  I’m keeping them all and they will continue to live together with their families. Once that thought was out in the open I couldn’t bear to separate them all. Thanks for the comments about it.

Now..I’m going to begin reading some of the books from the various series I have and I went to Random.org to see what to read first.  Penguin Books published a series of 12 short books based on the names of the underground Iines of London.  Here is the list:

  1. Victoria: Mind the Child- Camila Batmanghelidjh & Kids Company
  2. The Central Line: The 32 Stops- Danny Dorling
  3. The East London Line: Buttoned-Up- Fantastic Man
  4. The District Line: What We Talk About When We Talk About the Tube- John Manchester
  5. The Northern Line: A Northern Line Minute- William Leith
  6. The Metropolitan Line: A Good Parcel of English Soil- Richard Mabey
  7. The Bakerloo Line: Earthbound- Paul Morley
  8. The Jubilee Line: A History of Capitalism According to the Jubilee Line- John O’Farrell
  9. The Hammersmith & City Line: Drift- Philippe Parreno
  10. The Waterloo & City Line: Waterloo-City, City-Waterloo
  11. The Circle Line: Heads & Straights- Lucy Wadham
  12. The Piccadilly Line: The Blue Riband- Peter York

thumbnailLast evening I read no. 3, The East London Line- Buttoned up by Fantastic Man.  The authors are Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom from Fantastic Man magazine.

This book, published in 2014 was about the fashion that is East London in the mid 80s. Not just that but the ‘buttoned up’ look of the men who lived and worked there. Evidently, there was an entire culture about the buttoned up look. It actually started with the buttoned up to the neck look (some wore ties, others didn’t) of the Mods with their Lambretta and Vespa scooters as they railed against the rockers during the 60s and 70s. They could be loud and violent but their dress was quite upstanding as opposed to long hair and rough looks that was the mainstream music culture of the time.

Another look was the one the Pet Shop Boys had in the 1980s which is when the buttoned up look took off again. One of the Boys was sported a street look while the other was ‘buttoned up’ with the very top button of his shirt buttoned.

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Film director David Lynch was a buttoned-up man.

Who knew there was such a culture around the top button of a man’s shirt. Maybe people who lived in London were familiar but during those days I was living next to a cornfield in mid Michigan, so who knew?

One of the musicians from that time stated: “If I ever see a picture of myself playing, and for some reason I’ve unbuttoned my top button, I always feel a bit angry at myself,” he said. ‘I feel it makes a big difference to the way you wear a shirt. It’s really subtle but it changes an entire outfit. If I’m not buttoned up it feels a bit like something’s missing, like I’ve not finished getting dressed.’

thumbnail4From another…“The man in a deep V is open, ready, disposable. The buttoned-up man has a flavour of some entrenched, considered mystery. We would’ve once considered him pretentious, if preferring books to TV can be adjudged as such. He does not favour the more expositional approach to male sex-appeal in his wardrobe. “

The various parts of London were evidently known for their street dress. An East ender would be buttoned-up without a tie. If you wore a tie you were even more conservative such as someone in the law profession. South Londoners sported the hoody. If someone had a jumper over their shoulders they were obviously from a ritzy public school. The buttoned-up are practically Edwardian in their style.

I got a big kick out of this little book. It is also full of black and white photos of various buttoned-up men models and the neighbourhood streets that make up the stops along the East London line.2thumbnail

I have nine series in sets or boxed sets and I plan on dipping into them more often. For the reason they are generally about subjects I books I would not normally pick up if in a shop.  It will be interesting what adventures they hold and what new information will be imparted to this currently addled brain of mine. Time to relax and enjoy what is on the shelf.

2020-05-31 11.24.50
Cheery Bye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Clean Up

Today I got fed up with the messy book shelf and seeing the books crammed into the shelves at various angles. So I pulled out the step ladder, gave Ollie something to chew other than books and got stuck into it. Now four hours later I have inspected each shelf, culled three boxes of books and taken them off the Library Thing inventory list.

Then I went outdoors and played with Ollie a bit as he was very good, only chewing a bit on the cardboard boxes I was putting the books into. One of main Op shops is now open and the tip shop opens next week so I will haul them down there so others can enjoy them.

I noticed I have a lot of books that are less than 150 – 200 pages. I thought if I read them first I could then let them go and therefore clear out even more. We’ll see.

I have been reading Unreliable Memories by Clive James. Richard at Cracked Spineless book shop in Hobart put me onto it. He told me when he read it he was in puddles on the floor, laughing and he couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it.

He’s right. Bits of it are very funny. I’ve not read Clive James and this memoir of his early child and teen years is very funny. He has a way of describing his relatives and school mates in a way we might like to do but don’t have the nerve to do so.

I have laughed out loud several times.

The other weird, er, interesting book I’m listening to for an hour each night once I’ve gone to bed is Pepys Diary. It’s 37 hours of his daily diary from 1660 to 1669 and is reputed to be one of the best documented publications of life during this time period. He stopped writing in 1669 as he had very bad eyes and writing in candlelight was not helping. He lived another 30 years.

I am not nor have I ever been a good sleeper. It takes a long while to fall asleep and I seldom sleep through the night without waking up a couple of times. I find listening to an hour of a book each night is very relaxing (if the book is properly chosen) and I often don’t get past 30 or 45 minutes with this one before drifting off to sleep. I am really enjoying the narrator. Michael Maloney’s voice and the structure of Pepys days. He almost finishes each daily entrance with the words, “went home, had supper and off to bed.” I also like the way he describes his “discourses” with people each day. “He and I had interesting discourse,” or “We discoursed this topic for some time”.

Well as I’m worn out a bit from moving and carrying many books around today I am going to sign off here and see how this new layout of Word Press works. Why do people always feel they have to change perfectly workable structures.

Until next time..