I’ve been uploading photos of my garden on my Sunday Posts, which have been getting a lot of positive comments, so I have decided to feature the pics in their full size, so you can see some of the detail. Last Friday, we went for a walk along the seafront here in Littlehampton. It wasn’t raining, but it was blowing a hoolie – to the extent that the birds were struggling. The young starlings were all sheltering in the lee of Coastguard station and that seagull roosting on the top of the groin post is looking decidedly grumpy!
I’ve been uploading photos of my garden on my Sunday Posts, which have been getting a lot of positive comments, so I decided to make them a regular feature, but this time at full size so you can better appreciate the plants. It was my birthday on Friday and though it’s hard to imagine on this blustery, rain-soaked Tuesday morning, it was hot with bright sunshine and ideal for the planned picnic at Borde Hill Garden with my daughter and three grandchildren. We had to book in advance, which meant it was easy to observe social distancing and the gardens were fabulous. So here are some of the pics I took…
I’ve been uploading photos of my garden on my Sunday Posts, which have been getting a lot of positive comments. However, I’m also aware that the small scale of the pics hasn’t really done justice to them. So I’ve decided to choose a selection for every Tuesday and feature them full size.
Lockdown has been a uniquely peculiar time – one which has brought great uncertainty and fear, but also forced us to look at what is directly around us and value its worth so much more. I’ve felt like that about my garden this year – helped by the wonderful weather in Spring, and wanted to share some of the beauty and pleasure with you, too.
This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.
Another lockdown week. The weather continues to be freakishly fabulous, so I’m enjoying many tea and coffee breaks in the garden. I’ve posted the choisya blossom, which is fabulous and the amber bedding plant last year, that I left in the garden and has turned into a perennial. I love it when that happens. And the echiums are now starting to bloom!
Non-gardening news: I am missing family horribly, but my daughter and I have had a couple of marathon phone calls, which meant on Friday night I didn’t get to bed until the early hours. I’m so filled with admiration at how she has organised the home-schooling routine for her 15-year-old and 10-year-old, so that it still makes time for little Eliza, who is also struggling with lockdown. Rebecca was telling me how she was calling out to another toddler in a shopping trolley, who was shouting back at her, as she went around the supermarket and they were both stretching towards each other, desperate to make contact. It must be so hard on that age-group who developmentally need socialisation, when you can’t even explain to them what is going on.
I had the pleasure of judging a poetry competition organised to coincide with the Littlehampton V.E. celebrations. Though the celebrations were cancelled, the competition went ahead and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the entries, all submitted online. I’ve been working on another writing project, which hopefully I will be talking about in more detail in the next few weeks.
Last week I read:
Q by Christina Dalcher
Every child’s potential is regularly determined by a standardized measurement: their quotient (Q). Score high enough, and attend a top tier school with a golden future. Score too low, and it’s off to a federal boarding school with limited prospects afterwards. The purpose? An improved society where education costs drop, teachers focus on the more promising students, and parents are happy.
Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s elite schools. When her nine-year-old daughter bombs a monthly test and her Q score drops to a disastrously low level, she is immediately forced to leave her top school for a federal institution hundreds of miles away. As a teacher, Elena thought she understood the tiered educational system, but as a mother whose child is now gone, Elena’s perspective is changed forever. She just wants her daughter back.
It’s a long time since I’ve read a protagonist I really hated as much as I loathed Elena. Review to follow.
The Hedgeway – short story by Vivienne Tuffnell
Leading from the overgrown grass and thicket of brambles were the distinct signs of feet passing: small, bare human feet.
A child had walked here, breaking the crisp coating of hoar frost, and had stood only yards from the kitchen window.
Cathy thought: They’re only footprints, so why do I suddenly feel so scared?
Daniel’s grandmother’s house seems only a few years from becoming a ruin but the roof is still sound and unlike his rented accommodation, the whole place is his. It seems the perfect time to ask girlfriend Cathy to move in with him and together they plan to renovate the house. But the old house has secrets that it wants to share with them whether they want to know or not.
(This is a longer short story of around 17,000 words)
After getting through Q I was yearning for a read that I knew would be excellently written and provide a complete contrast, so I turned to an author who I knew would deliver the goods.
A Little Bit Witchy – Book 1 of the Riddler’s Edge series by A.A. Albright
Aisling Smith is about to try out for a new job – a job writing for a paper she’s never heard of. But seeing as she’s currently writing classified ads and obituaries, it would be foolish not to give it a shot. Riddler’s Edge might be a small town, but it’s definitely not boring. The train hasn’t even pulled into the station, and already a woman has been murdered.
This is one that has been lurking on my TBR pile for far too long. Enjoyable and nicely escapist, I’m glad to have found a new series to dive back into when I’ve completed more series.
The Dark Side of the Road – Book 1 of the Ishmael Jones series by Simon R. Green
Ishmael Jones is someone who can’t afford to be noticed, someone who lives under the radar, who drives on the dark side of the road. He’s employed to search out secrets, investigate mysteries and shine a light in dark places. Sometimes he kills people. Invited by his employer, the enigmatic Colonel, to join him and his family for Christmas, Ishmael arrives at the grand but isolated Belcourt Manor in the midst of a blizzard to find that the Colonel has mysteriously disappeared. As he questions his fellow guests, Ishmael concludes that at least one of them not least Ishmael himself – is harbouring a dangerous secret, and that beneath the veneer of festive cheer lurk passion, jealousy, resentment and betrayal. As a storm sets in, sealing off the Manor from the rest of the world, Ishmael must unmask a ruthless murderer they strike again.
This is the first book in this thoroughly enjoyable series, so I jumped at the chance to discover more about the mysterious Ishmael Jones and was quickly engrossed in this entertaining paranormal whodunit. Review to follow.
Firewalkers by Adrian Tchaikovsky
The Earth is burning. Nothing can survive at the Anchor; not without water and power. But the ultra-rich, waiting for their ride off the dying Earth? They can buy water. And as for power? Well, someone has to repair the solar panels, down in the deserts below. Kids like Mao, and Lupé, and Hotep; kids with brains and guts but no hope. The Firewalkers.
This cli fi adventure drew me in from the start. Once again, Tchaikovsky didn’t disappoint – review to follow.
My posts last week:
*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of NOVELLA Scythe – Book 1 of the Dimension Drift prequels by Christina Bauer
Friday Face-off featuring The Fell Sword – Book 2 of The Traitor Son series by Miles Cameron
Review of AUDIOBOOK Poirot’s Finest Cases: Eight Full-Cast BBC Radio Dramatisations based on the books by Agatha Christie
Can’t-Wait-Wednesday featuring The Mother Code by Carol Stivers
*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Shorefall – Book 2 of The Founders Trilogy – by Robert Bennett Jackson
*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Last Emperox – Book 3 of the Interdependency series by John Scalzi
Sunday Post – 19th April 2020
Interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:
7 Eco-Friendly Actions for Kids during the Pandemic: from EARTHDAY. ORG https://platformnumber4.com/2020/04/19/7-eco-friendly-actions-for-kids-during-the-pandemic-from-earthday-org/ These practical suggestions look really useful…
Your Own Flying Rainbows https://cindyknoke.com/2020/04/19/your-own-flying-rainbows/ Aren’t they adorable?
National Bookmobile Day https://coffeeandcatsblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/22/national-bookmobile-day-2/ I loved this article by Loreen in tribute to Mr Riggs. Let’s take a moment to remember that person who understood and honoured our love for books when we were too young to get hold of them ourselves…
Book Recommendations: If You Liked… You Might Also Like… https://bookwindowcom.wordpress.com/2020/04/16/book-recommendations-if-you-liked-you-might-also-like/ I haven’t encountered this really useful blog post before – so I thought I’d share it.
Caturday funnies – coronapocalypse edition https://bluebirdofbitterness.com/2020/04/25/caturday-funnies-coronapocalypse-edition/ Some much-needed laughter…
Thank you for visiting, reading, liking and/or commenting on my blog – I hope you and yours have the best possible Easter and a peaceful, healthy week. Take care.
This is part of the weekly meme over at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where book bloggers can share the books and blogs they have written.
My editing marathon is grinding inexorably onward. I’m now line editing Breathing Space before letting it loose on my long-suffering beta-readers. Debbie has completed reading through Dying for Space for me and has handed it onto Sarah.
This week hasn’t been quite so frenetic. It was lovely to resume my Creative Writing classes on Monday and Tuesday and catch up with everyone after the half-term break. On Wednesday evening our writing group met up and discussed each others’ work amid tea and laughter. During Thursday evening I attended the monthly West Sussex Writers’ meeting to hear Jane Lythell, who has written the successful psychological thrillers The Lie of You and After the Storm. She talked to the group about her journey to being published and also discussed characterisation and how she crafted her protagonists. It is always fascinating to hear how different authors approach their work and Jane was a fluent, articulate speaker with plenty to say – including some intriguing details about her upcoming new release, Woman of the House, which is more of a contemporary novel about a woman coping with a demanding job and increasing commitments at home.
I’ve also now received a copy of the cover for the anthology Eve of War, in which my short story ‘Miranda’s Tempest’ will appear. Isn’t it gorgeous? The release date is 20th June.
As regards reading – I’m coming to the end of a hefty tome that almost stopped me in my tracks…
The Passage – Book 1 of The Passage trilogy by Justin Cronin
Amy Harper Bellafonte is six years old and her mother thinks she’s the most important person in the whole world.
Anthony Carter doesn’t think he could ever be in a worse place than Death Row.
FBI agent Brad Wolgast thinks something beyond imagination is coming.
And there you have the blurb of this apocalyptic, science fiction vampire book that runs to 766 pages. The first section, where it all goes to hell in a handcart, was something of a slog – not because there was anything wrong with the book, indeed, the writing is remarkable and engrossing. However, I hadn’t appreciated that it starts in our world before it all slides away, which I always find a bit of a problem. Fortunately, just as I was on the verge of giving up, the section ended and we were plunged into the future, post-apocalyptic world. I will be reviewing it sometime in the next week.
My posts last week:
Sunday Post – 5th June
Other interesting/outstanding blogs and articles that have caught my attention during the last week, in no particular order:
Juliet E. McKenna’s interesting article on the similarities between aikido and writing when breaking new ground – http://www.julietemckenna.com/?p=2172
Which Zodiac Sign Fits Your Protagonist Best? This is a really nifty getting-to-know your main character exercise by Sara Letourneau. https://saraletourneauwriter.com/2016/06/09/zodiac-signs-and-character-traits/
This is a lovely slice of photo journaling through India. The Road Goes Ever On… – https://indigodrift.wordpress.com/2016/06/08/the-road-goes-ever-on/
How realistic do you want injuries to be in books? Kristen Burns writes about this in her excellent article. http://blog.kristenburns.com/realism-in-books-injuries/
Lovely examples of space art, brought to us by Steph P. Bianchini – http://earthianhivemind.net/2016/06/08/space-art-nasa/
The weather has finally woken up to the fact it is nearly mid-June and we’ve had a lovely week of warm days and nights, so that suddenly everything in the garden is going mad. It’s frankly something of a jungle, but amongst the weeds and mayhem, my echium spires are taller than ever, this year, thanks to the mild winter. I’ve enclosed the pic to show the scale – those canes I’m holding are 6 ft long.
These foamy white bracts of flowers are on a spiky-leaved plant I’ve owned for about a decade – and this is only the second time it’s flowered. The garden is full of the lily-like smell and it is crawling with bees – dozens of them. If I leave the back door open, the scent suffuses the kitchen, leaving me light-headed and happy. Summer… at last!
Once more, many thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog and I hope you can find the time and, maybe, a sunny nook where you can get lost in a book. Happy reading, everyone!
It was one of those horrible, avoidable accidents that happen when you’re not paying sufficient attention to the little things in your life… This week-end, I’ve been messing around in my garden shed, getting it cleared out and ready to sow this year’s crop of flowers and veg. And because it’s also where the children’s outdoor toys are stored and they were staying for the week-end, the door was secured open. Despite having scooped out a stray bee who’d wandered into the shed and kept battering herself against the window the day before – I still hadn’t got around to cleaning out the spider webs silting up the corners.
I was getting the washing in when I heard it – manic buzzing coming from the shed. I dropped the basket and ran towards the sound. There she was, a large bumble bee thrashing around, unable to escape. Feeling sick, I grabbed one of the pots and tried to lever her away from the tangling trap of old webs. But in the end I needed to use my hands and even then it was a struggle to extricate her without pulling her apart. And she was covered in a thick matt of spider silk – wickedly sticky… Still emitting a screaming buzz as she fought, spinning in my hand.
If she’d been smaller honeybee, or a fly, I’d have immediately dropped her to the ground and stepped on her to put her out of her misery. But she was so big I thought there’d be a chance – and I am very fond of bumble bees. I try to ensure I have flowers blooming in my garden all through the year for the likes of these remarkable insects. Watching them always leaves me awestruck and happy… and here was one in a horrible mess because a particular chore got missed off the list. By me.
I carried her over to my workbench in the garden and tried to free her from the white mess mummifying her. It was blowy and she was still panicking, but I managed to free her two front feet. I took her indoors. Rebecca suggested I put her in a bowl, but it was too smooth and she couldn’t keep her footing, causing her to flip onto her back which she hated. So I scooped her up in my hand.
I’d been babbling all sorts of nonsense to her… more as a comfort for me, really. And as I picked her up once more, she stopped buzzing in circles and instead kept crawling and crawling across my hand, while trying to free herself. I kept picking away at the threads encasing her wings and her lower body, but it was slow work. There was a miserable moment when I’d nearly freed one wing and she slipped over onto her back and the stray webbing wrapped itself around her two back legs I’d only recently managed to release.
I nearly gave up then. But she didn’t. She was still battling to free herself, so I took a deep breath and kept going, working at the kitchen table. I used a tiny screwdriver to tease the strands away from her wings. It was very ticklish work… she never stayed still and with one slip I’d have shredded her wings and possibly killed her. It took nearly an hour and in the end Himself managed to cut away the last ball of webbing hanging off her back left leg with a modeller’s blade. She was still crawling across my hand, although her wings were now free. So I gently guided her onto the cutting board surface and we carried her outside. John gave it a flick, while I got ready to catch her, not convinced after her ordeal that she’d be able to fly. She launched herself into the air and we watched her fly once around the garden, before soaring over the fence.
And tomorrow morning first thing, I’m clearing out those bloody spiders’ webs.
Now that the daffodils have fully erupted around here, everything has suddenly got a lot more colourful. But there were also those brave plants who insisted on flowering during the dank months of January and February – and now I’ve finally downloaded the pics, I thought I’d share them with you. The witchhazel, mahonia and primrose all grow in my garden.
We went for a walk in one of our favourite places on the planet – Highdown Gardens, a wonderful garden created by Frederick Stern on the south-facing side of a large hill just outside Worthing. It sounds ideal until you realise said hill is looking straight out onto the sea and takes the brunt of everything an English maritime climate can hurl at it, especially those salt-laden winds…
On this particular sunny day, we were treated to the sight of this water vole busily gnawing through leaves and scuttering along the bank. We watched her (we decided it must be female – the male was probably stuck indoors watching the cricket…) for nearly half an hour. During that time several people wandered by, but she seemed unconcerned. The name water rat seems all wrong – her fur was far thicker and her body shape quite different to a rat. What we did notice was the way she bobbed in the water as she flung herself back into the pond periodically and disappearing below the surface, before reappearing again.
It was when we were toiling up the hill, I heard the buzzing coming from the hellebore shrub and caught sight of this gigantic bumble bee. It’s difficult to judge from the pics, which I have enlarged, but this beastie was HUGE. Easily the size of a 2p coin and with a vivid orange bottom, and teddy-bear furred – she was the antithesis of aerodynamic. Yet there she was, grazing the flowers. I only have a point and shoot camera and find photographing bees quite tricky. They are easily spooked and don’t stay still all that long so was delighted when she obliged by continuing to crawl around the flower. I like to think she was bunking off from her daily toil and having a bit of a sunbathe in the spring sunshine…