Friday, April 18, 2014

friday books: a good one, a silly one and an old favourite

Last week when we were away I read Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar children, by Ransom Riggs.

I loved it: a young adult novel with monsters, time-travel, romance and creepy old black and white photos from older times used to illustrate the story.



 Jacob is a troubled teenager who grows up intrigued by the stories his grandfather tells about about a collection of old photographs he has kept from his time growing up in an orphanage in England.He was a Jewish boy who escaped during the second World War. Jacob comes to realise the monsters his grandfather was fleeing were something other than he imagined....

I won't write any more because this book unfolds its mystery as you read it, and I was genuinely surprised and intrigued by the story. It is quite black and even macabre in parts - a pity boys would be put off it by its cover ( a levitating small girl) because a teen boy who likes Doctor Who would really enjoy this, girls too, of course. I have just borrowed the sequel from work, and can't wait to start reading it.

The second book I read Arcadia falls by Carol Goodman, started off promisingly and just got very silly and I could hardly be bothered to read the last 40 pages but stuck it out. A widowed teacher and her teenage daughter move to a creepy arts college in the mountains where the students are into pagan rituals and rites and there are secret affairs and babies and adoptions in the past and I really couldn't have cared less and the " reveal" in the end is so unbelievable that no wonder this was a library throw-out from my friend N's library: he saved it for me because the front said it was a Donna Tartt/Miss Jean Brodie hybrid - it is NOT, don't waste your time. There is also, God help me, a Sherriff with blue eyes and a heart of gold so you know what happens in the end, don't you? ( vomit).

I am re-reading Beverley Nichols' Down the garden path, a 1930s autobiographical gardening book which was one of my mother's favourites and mine too. Nichols ( a man) wrote plays, novels and music and over his lifetime bought a series of slightly dilapidated old houses with wrecked gardens and he wrote various books about making new gardens and really, learning how to garden. These books which I first read as a teenager started me wanting to garden and have been very inspirational in my gardening life. He writes with humour and biting wit and it's all very Noel Coward and pretty entertaining - quite dated and old-fashioned but cheeky, too. A much loved old favourite, I'll finish it today or tomorrow and then I have a new stack from work to go on reading.....

William McLaren illustration from DTGP

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter, nearly ( and in Italy 2013)

shop window display, Florence

I have been thinking a lot about Easter last year, when we were in Italy. We took the train from Rome to Florence on Thursday morning so we would be all settled for what I was presuming would be like a Melbourne Easter: nothing open on Good Friday and the town pretty quiet. Well, I couldn't have been more wrong: being a tourist destination, everything was open: shops, restaurants, you name it.
 ( Probably smaller non-tourist towns shut down?)

 We went to a supermarket to see if we could find some chocolate eggs for J for Sunday morning: interestingly they seemed hardly " a thing" in Italy, not like here in Australia where there are gluttonous displays of often pretty crappy products everywhere. We managed to find a little packet and a bunny - otherwise there were gigantic eggs the size of a Sherrin football for sale. Maybe someone can enlighten me but it seemed more normal in Italy to buy one one these to give to a child or take as a gift rather than a million small ones. I saw a couple of people obviously headed off for lunch, carrying them on Easter Sunday.
I found a smaller version of one of these in the stupormarket last week so bought one because I was feeling nostalgic.

this year's pretend Italian egg

On Good Friday we went walking to the Duomo where the queues to get in were pretty long so we had a hot chocolate and espresso outside instead. On Saturday we went to San Gimignano and Siena;
on Easter Sunday a walking tour of Florence and visited Michelangelo's David and then the Botticellis in the afternoon. There were also ceremonial Florentine fireworks outside the Duomo on Sunday morning! On Easter Monday we went to Pisa and got stuck in a traffic jam on the way back as all the Florentians (?) came back from Easter away. Some things don't change from country to country!

I'm re-posting some pictures I put up last year, because I can.

San Gimignano

hotel decoration, Rome

J's egg haul, in Florence

Easter fireworks, Florence

over Easter, bowls of chocolate pieces were part of the hotel breakfast buffet


Monday, April 14, 2014

faffing about

Cape Liptrap



Just seem to be faffing about today: I'm still on holidays for another week - I do have to go in to work for one day (Wednesday) for reasons too involved to go into, but I am making the most of the gorgeous Autumn weather. Last week at Inverloch and in Gippsland it was very cloudy every day but tended to rain mainly in the late afternoon and evenings which meant that we could do our beach walks and drives and not get rained on. It was a really nice break from routine and everyone enjoyed themselves. Some photos...... no particular order.....


Anderson Inlet

The caves

view from Cape Liptrap

Scones at the Koonwarra Store


I liked the juxtaposition of these plants

a rain spot on the camera, Koonwarra


dinosaurish rocks at The Caves


a bun at Norman Bay, Wilson's Prom

Winkle find at Kongwak vintage Sunday market ( every Sunday:fab)

Breakfast at the Beach Box cafe

Squeaky Beach at the Prom

Wonthaggi op-shop finds: pillowcases and a book

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Home again, home again, jiggetty jig

We came back home yesterday to go to my beautiful niece's engagement party last night, so am a bit discombobulated. We had a lovely relaxing break and lots of laughs, who could not with the comedians you see below making faces at the orange juice in a jar? I sadly have to get stuck into holiday washing, re-stocking the fridge and then out for a special afternoon tea today ( am not sad about this!) so will post some photos of lighthouses, calorific breakfasts and majestic beach views tomorrow!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Brb

Signing off from this blog for a  bit as we're heading off to the beach for a little break.
I'll be back with some tales of finds from the Wonthaggi op-shops, loads of books read, beach walks and lighthouse visits. And a visit to a vintage/retro market in Kongwak tomorrow if we can extract the teens from bed early enough and get away in time....
I might put some photos up on IG if the internet in the sky plays nicely...

Be right back,

Gxx


Friday, April 4, 2014

friday books: one I forgot

I realised after hitting publish on last Friday's book post that I had completely overlooked writing anything about The days of Anna Madrigal, the ninth in the Tales of the City series.

I absolutely loved the first 6 books in the series (published 1978-1989), and have read them each a few times. The three books that came out in later years (2007-2014): Michael Tolliver lives, Mary Ann in Autumn and this latest one, continue the stories of the original characters, Michael, Mary Ann and Brian, and Mrs M, but have introduced a number of new characters with which I've never felt the same connection. I also miss some of the other characters who've died (Mona, Jon ) or have gone away. None of the characters live in the Barbary Lane apartments any longer, which is a loss to the story.

Having said that, I love the humour and the deep friendship of this odd group of tenants from Mrs Madrigal's Barbary Lane apartment block, who became a family.

This book is really about a road trip: Brian and his new wife take Mrs M back to Winnemucca where her life began, and Michael and his new partner and assorted random others go to Burning Man which I knew a little bit about before but a lot more now! This novel should be required reading for anyone contemplating going to that festival.
 
No spoilers, but it will definitely be the last we see of these characters.

The flash backs to Anna's childhood when she was raised in the Nevada brothel were the best part of the book - there could be a book just about Anna and her early life up to arriving at Barbary Lane from when she leaves the Blue Moon.





some sunflowers from the garden
 *



I finished reading This house is haunted by John Boyne. This was a good old fashioned ghost story about a young governess who goes to the country to look after a couple of peculiar children in a haunted house. It's quite Gothic and not too frightening to read in bed at night ( unlike The little stranger (Waters) or The woman in black (Hill)) and has some unexpected turns: I thought I had the plot all worked out and there were some really good twists and surprises.


 Now I am on holidays from paid work for a couple of weeks. I have a pile of books to take away with me when we head off to the beach. Also knitting. Yesterday I got through a heap of annoying chores that have built up since I went back to work after holidays in January. Fiddly jobs that I hate like making hair appointments and flu injections and going to the bank and post office. Sometimes I can't believe how disorganised I am: and I only work half time. Most weeks my focus seems to be largely work-laundry-dinner on table-sort out family issues and repeat. I do the essentials and make time for the fun things like gardening and art galleries but there are consistently a heap of things I avoid for as long as I can and then deal with all at once. I suppose no-one else is any different.

Anyway, here are a few garden photos. Parts of it are looking lovely. We still need more rain, though, please weather gods.

I planted 24 spider lilies (Nerines) in the bed under the silver birches.


white plectranthus, best year it's had, despite no rain

Lorraine Lee, covered in blooms yesterday

purple plectranthus ecklonii, needs watering

the Hawthorn tree is changing colour

windflowers

herb garden where the old dirty pond once sat, little plants thriving!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ten random things

1. I forgot to write about the latest Armistead Maupin book last Friday so I need to remember that for THIS Friday.

2. A year ago we were in Italy. Am still obsessed with it. Next trip will be to Rome again, and Sicily, but not until the boy has finished school ( end of next year).

3. Am planning what knitting to take away to the beach next week. Probably the beanie for my friend who shaved her head for leukaemia research fund-raising: she raised $4000! (and didn't put up a make up free selfie.....)

4. I think the Liberal Party Government must watch The Lord of the rings movies for political inspiration.

They keep mangling lines and quoting them: for example, Joe Hockey:
 "the age of entitlement is over. The age of personal responsibility has begun". In the movie it was: "the age of men is over. The time of the Orc has come."

Just last week Tony Abbott said ( regarding towing asylum seeker boats back to Indonesia):

"the way is closed": in Return of the King the line is "the way is shut. It was made by those who are Dead"

  What's next? ..." One does not simply sail into Australia?"  Yes, I watched these movies FAR too many times so nobody can start using lines from them without me noticing....

 5. I  want to wear scarves and cardigans but it's still too warm.

6. I used to buy magazines, never read them, and give them away. Now I borrow them from work, don't read them and take them back.

7. I want to see the Noah movie, it looks exciting.

8. Not feeling the footy season yet. Still confused by all the players who've changed teams and seem to be playing in the wrong colour jumper.

9. The warm early Autumn is good for drying washing quickly but it makes me sleepy and dull in the late afternoon.

10. We harvested our apples! 12 of them. I am going to make a pie. And also a fancy cake.

That's all, folks.


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