Wednesday, 11 December 2019

The Tartan Rangers by Jonathan Gash. Book review

The Tartan Ringers by Jonathan Gash

's Goodreads review
 ·  edit

liked it
bookshelves: funny, mystery, novels, whodunnit

An entertaining read, written and set in the early 1980's so dated in a lot of ways. The story of antiques dealing rogue Lovejoy who's viewpoint it's told from. Shortly after this was written the Lovejoy character became a popular TV series. The shows were slightly toned down from the books, and Tinker became posh! He isn't posh here.

My main problem with the book was that we, the readers, were not there for the climactic auction, because Lovejoy had scarpered, again. He does a lot of scarpering. Plenty happens to keep you engaged; there are murders, thefts, boozing, cons, car chases, lusting, drunken sex, a circus and the fortune (or lack of it) of an unexpected highland laird. Maybe too many character in the plot and the circus convoy for total comprehensibility but who really cares? It's a good ride!

And this book is not PC in any way, get over it!

Friday, 29 November 2019

November - The Fair weather Gardener

I hardly went out into the garden in October, except to note that the bird-feeders are constantly empty within 48 hours of being filled, it's the starlings wot does it! I have a bird table and hang the feeders under our large pergola, because otherwise the gulls would eat everything they could get at, including the small birds who I'm trying to encourage. Not seen a huge variety of species in the garden so far, wood pigeon, sparrow, wren, starling, dunnock, robin, blue tit, great tit, coal tit, crow, goldfinch and a poor garden warbler that the cat brought in. I miss the garden we had before, it backed onto woodland and I counted over 40 species there, not counting the peacock because he was strolling up the road, I didn't seen him from or in the garden!

I did go-a-gardening today, sunshine was nice after all that rain and all the weeds were wet so pulled up easily. I put most of them in the compost bin, which is heaving with red brandling worms as well as woodlice, snails and big leopard slugs. However the couch grass has gone into the big bag of leaves for the tip.

Said leaves are mostly from the neighbour's tall sycamore, one branch of this is trying to take the roof off my garage, must finds a man with a ladder and a big saw. I've collected several bags of leaves to make leaf-mould but am worried that I've collected all the seeds up with them, will I just have bag's full of saplings? Then I'd feel guilty that I wasn't growing them on as trees, the planet needs trees but my small garden can't accommodate a thousand sycamores.

Another recent job was to sweep the patio and clear the path of leaves and growing things. I won't call them weeds, they include campanula, moss, dandelion, foxglove, geranium and oxalis. All are welcome in the right place, but I do need to keep the path clear for my mum who arrives in a wheelchair these days. I allowed one foxglove to stay overhanging , I love them and it's taken up residence right by the low wall where the path widens out so shouldn't be a problem.

What's flowering? Geraniums, chrysanthemum, hydrangea, kalanchoe, winter jasmine, cyclamen, not as much as at this time last year, that long hot summer kept things going well into winter. I've moved some to the geraniums indoors and must remember to do the same with the kalanchoes tomorrow. On the plus side, in my small conservatory my Christmas cactus has just begun to flower and one of my jade plants has produced tiny, aromatic, white flowers.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

St Leonards' Writers

We meet weekly in a side chapel and each time I
attend, I sit facing this stained glass window.
I'm delighted to be a member of St. Leonard's Writers' group, which I definitely had to join early last year as, not only are they a great bunch of talented people, but also I discovered that the group meets weekly in St. Ethelburga's Church, which is about 30 metres from my front door. It would've been positively rude to ignore them! I could have joined the group a year earlier but didn't know they were here, their website was a bit neglected and uncommunicative.

St Ethelburga's was built in the twentieth century, 1929 though in a traditional style, with a beautiful roof in a tithe barn style. They lend space for a number of local group activities.

I've been in other writer's groups, when I lived in West Yorkshire and always found them hugely encouraging and supportive. St Leonards Writers is no exception. Friendly, supportive people, lots of laughs, plenty of great writing and useful, constructive criticism. Also coffee and biscuits. Can writers cope without coffee..?

I've become a committee member - most people seem to be on the committee automatically unless they opt out.  I'm also the group's, librarian so have taken charge of donated books which group members can borrow, as well as previous unsold anthologies and archive materials.

We're in the process of collating a new anthology, the group's fifth but the first that I've been involved with. It will have short stories and poems by group members.

We are also preparing a new, more accessible and lively website. The site is now live, though still under construction. The link probably won't work yet, so cut and paste to find it -

Thursday, 31 October 2019

Swell - A Waterbiography - my review on goodreads

Sue Gilbert's Reviews > Swell: A Waterbiography

Swell by Jenny Landreth


liked it

bookshelves: biog-memoir, funny, non-fiction

Interesting take on the activity of swimminfg from a feminist rather than a sporting point of view. What has feminism got to do with swimming you may ask? Well up until around 100 years ago almost no women in the UK could actually swim.
Swimming was deemed a purely masculine activity, unsuitable, unseemly and unhealthy for females. Sure, the wealthier classes could hire a bathing machine at the beach and enter the water decourously in voluminous bathing costumes, but they didn't swim, just dipped themselves, while the lower orders would paddle or even, daringly, wade in the shallows. Swimming was for the blokes and the chaps. Over the past 100 or so years this has changed, but it took a lot of determinesd women to make it happen.
Jenny Landreth intersperses a detailed, sometimes humorous take on the history and the heroines of the women's swimming movement - yes it was a movement, you can't swim without movement! - with her own swimming experiences and her love of her local Tooting Bec Lido.
Has got me thinking, I must swim more often, were is my cozzy?

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Poem for National Poetry Day

I just won a prize for this poem, which is a first.

Happy National Poetry Day!

Still Life, With Waders

Remember. He was a twitcher

before there was twitching.

But not just a list of sightings

like train numbers. Love seeps

from his lists of Lapwing,

Linnet, Greylag, Goosander and

the great, Great Bustard.

After life, remains life.

There are still sunset waders

beside the shore

up to their Redshanks

in  a skin of light.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Rhinoceros - Word of the Day

Today is World Rhino Day. Which has been observed annually on September 22nd since 2010.  

The word Rhinoceros comes from Greek, Rhino meaning nose and Keros meaning horn.

We all know what a rhino looks like.  This is an Eastern Black Rhino, living in safety at Port Lympne where they have a breeding program which is contributing to the survival of this endangered species. But all 5 existing species of rhino are endangered, most of them critically. 

All the Rhinoceros on earth are the survivors of populations of many millions, in dozens of species, which once lived all over Europe, Asia, Africa and Northern America. Now there are less than 30,000 rhinos on earth. 
figures from-

The rhino's problem lies in that nose horn, and the madness of the situation lies in the word Keros - from which we get Keratin. This is the root of the rhino's problem. Keratin from their horns is believed by many people to have almost magical curative properties, particularly for high fever.  

Keratin has no scientifically proven curative properties of any sort, whether from rhino horn, cows' hoof or human fingernails. So once all the Rhinoceros have been exterminated people who hold this belief will at least be able to chew their own fingernails. It will cost them a lot less than rhino horn and will have exactly the same effect.

Female Artists in History

Female Artists in History FB group has a wonderful database of artists including many who have been ignored and forgotten as well as the great and the good. Link below

FAH is now posting links to this blog where I have articles about some of the 31 women artists I’ve researched. Many thanks Christa for all the great work.

"For centuries, the Art Canon was dominated by art made by men, preferably white and dead for at least 50 years. That was the paradigm about art. No matter how talented and skilled a woman was...  What you see is that many women (even in the more free thinking societies) stopped or diminished their artistic activities after their marriage, or they continued in a different form – on a smaller scale, with subject closer to home, in a more perishable form – for the sake of the house and family. Sometimes they continued working, but under the name of their husband, brother, or father. Only some managed to continue their work professionally. Many never married." Christa Zaat. Links - @female-artists-in-history
female artists in history