SandDune reads in 2023 - thread 3

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SandDune reads in 2023 - thread 3

Editado: Jul 9, 3:30 pm

Welcome to my third thread of 2023 and to my twelth year doing the 75 Book Challenge. I'm a 62 year old accountant and, after spending most of my career in the City of London, I was until recently the Finance Manager of a local charity which provides support to children and adults with learning disabilities. But at the beginning of 2021 I retired and my husband (aka Mr SandDune) also started working part-time. We live about thirty miles north of London although retirement may take us elsewhere in the U.K. Our 23 year old son Jacob has just finished studying history at the University of Lancaster in the North of England. There's also our 11 year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Daisy, who tends to feature prominently in my threads.

I'm originally from Wales rather than England, so I do have an interest in all things Welsh and I tend to get huffy if people call me English rather than Welsh! I'm currently studying a second year Welsh course after passing my first year exams in the summer (I learnt it at school but had forgotten most of it). I read mainly literary fiction, classics, science-fiction and fantasy, but I have been trying (and enjoying) some crime fiction. As far as non-fiction goes I’m interested in a number of topics, in particular books about the environment and nature.

I used to reach 75 books a year without difficulty, but the number of books I'm reading is down these days, mainly as a result of no longer listening to audio books during my commute to work.

All my family are avid readers. Jacob has inherited a love of reading science-fiction and fantasy from me and a love of reading history from Mr SandDune so our books are frequently shared. I read hardbacks, paperbacks, on kindle and listen to audio books particularly when driving or walking the dog.

Apart from reading I love travelling, eating out, and going to the theatre. Over the last couple of years when going out has been less practical I've enjoyed craft activities and learnt to crochet . I'm also getting more and more concerned about environmental issues: I'm a member of the local Green Party and have been quite involved in campaigning on climate change. Recently, I've also become more involved in community activities and am treasurer of my local food bank

This year I'm returning to the idea of starting each thread with a piece of art. This month's picture is 'Our English Coasts (strayed sheep)' (1852) by William Holman Hunt:

Editado: Nov 24, 9:07 am

Books Read in 2023:

1. Am Ddiwrnod Margaret Johnson (Welsh) 2018
2. The Country of Men Hisham Matar 2006 ***1/2
3. Blacmêl Pegi Talfryn (Welsh) 2021
4. The Belton Estate Anthony Trollope 1866 ***1/2
5. The Eagle of the Ninth Rosemary Sutcliff 1954 ****1/2
6. The Five: the Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper Hallie Rubenhold ****
7. Secret Service Tom Bradby ***
8. The Silver Branch Rosemary Sutcliff ****
9. The Lantern Bearers Rosemary Sutcliff *****
10. Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain Charlotte Higgins ***1/2
11. Persepolis Marjane Satrapi ***
12. An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It Jessie Greengrass ****
13. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue **1/2
14. Sorrow and Bliss Meg Mason ***1/2
15. Mort Terry Pratchett ****
16. Gangsters yn y Glaw Pegi Talfryn (Welsh)
17. Gorau Glas Lois Arnold (Welsh)
18. Double Agent Tom Bradby ***1/2
19. Us Three Ruth Jones ***
21. Beyond the Burn Line Paul McCauley***1/2
22. The Sentence Louise Erdrich
23. The Lost Man by Jane Harper ****
24. The Other Side of the Bridge Mary Lawson ****
25. My Phantoms Gwendoline Riley ****1/2
26. Legends and Lattes Travis Baldree ***1/2
27. The Physicians of Vilnoc Lois McMaster Bujold ***1/2
28. The Collapsing Empire John Scalzi ***1/2
29. The Consuming Fire John Scalzi. ***1/2
30. Nine Princes in Amber Roger Zelanzy ***
31. Stryd y Bont Manon Steffan Ros
32. Pass y Sugnydd Llwch, Darling! Mari George
33. Chwedlau Cymru: Ceffylau Fiona Collins
34. Ffenest (various)
35. Yn ei Gwsg Bethan Gwanas
36. Y Stryd Helen Naylor
37. The Dutch House Ann Patchett ****1/2
38. Still Life Louise Penny ***1/2
39. A Fatal Grace Louise Penny ***
40. Amatka Karin Tidbeck ****1/2
41. We Know You Remember Tove Alsterdal ****
42. You Will Never be Found Tove Alsterdal ***1/2
43. Beartown Frederik Backman ***
44. Elektra Jennifer Saint ***
45. Fluffy Simone Lia ***
46. The Twist of a Knife Anthony Horowitz ***
47. Mrs England Stacey Halls ***1/2
48. O Caledonia Elspeth Barker *****
49. Before the Coffee Gets Cold Toshikazu Kawaguchi *
50. The Mercies Kiran Millwood Hargrave ****
51. Bywyd Blodwen Jones Bethan Gwanas (Welsh)
52. Blodwen Jones a'r Aderyn Prin Bethan Gwanas (Welsh)
53. Tri Chynnig i Blodwen Jones Bethan Gwanas (Welsh)
54. The Last Emperox John Scalzi ***1/2
55. Reaper Man Terry Pratchett ****
56. Soul Music Terry Pratchett***1/2
57. Guards! Guards! Terry Pratchett ****
58. The Vor Game Lois McMaster Bujold ****
59. Brothers in Arms Lois McMaster Bujold ***1/2
60. Sgŵp Lois Arnold (Welsh)
61. The Silvered Tanya Huff ****1/2
62. The Grief of Stones Katherine Addison ***1/2
63. Y Fawr a'r Fach Straeon o'r Rhondda Sion Tomos Owen (Welsh)
64. Teithio drwy Hanes John Gower (Welsh)
65. Y Llythyr Helen Naylor
66. The Stone of Chastity Marjory Sharp ***1/2
67. The Lido Libby Page ***

Editado: Jul 9, 3:31 pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Editado: Jul 9, 3:31 pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Jul 9, 3:35 pm

Too soon? I hope not...too late if so....

Jul 9, 4:00 pm

>5 SandDune: No not too soon. All finished now, but the numbering was going to pieces so I have extra posts.

We are in Sweden now, currently in Uppsala not far from Stockholm but going further north tomorrow. Weather so far is good, so we've been able to eat outside each evening. (I'd forgotten how much Swedes like to eat outside - much more common than in the U.K.). We had a rather stressful start to our journey: we arrived at the boarding gate that had been announced (number 48) to discover that it was closed and they had just changed our gate to number 86, completely over the other side of the airport. So we started to rush over there, only to have another gate change five minutes later to gate 40, which luckily then proved to be the final one. I'm a very nervous flyer at the best of times and it doesn't take much to stress me out in an airport, so I could have done without that.

Anyway, we're having a much more relaxing time in Uppsala. Yesterday, we wandered around the city looking at some of the main sites (the Botanic Garden, the University Library and the Cathedral) and today we visited a couple of sites outside the town. Gamla Uppsala (or old Uppsala) is the site of huge burial mounds from the sixth and seventh centuries and Linnés Hammarby was the summer home of the eighteenth century Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus. I'll post some pictures tomorrow. Additionally, there is a very good English bookshop within a couple of minutes walk of our hotel, which is keeping all members of the family happy.

Jul 9, 4:22 pm

Uppsala sounds great, Rhian. I'm glad your stressful start didn't make you miss your plane!

Jul 9, 5:06 pm

Happy new thread! Have fun in Uppsala!

Jul 9, 5:13 pm

>7 SandDune: Welcome to Sweden, Rhian! I can attest to the quality of the English Bookshop. It’s superb and the staff are all wonderful. I go there every time I’m in Uppsala. My only complaint is the same one I have in all bookshops - too many paperbacks!

Jul 9, 5:21 pm

Happy new thread, Rhian!

Enjoy your vacation. Uppsala sounds lovely.

Jul 9, 5:25 pm

Happy new thread, Rhian! Aside from the problems at the airport, it sounds like your trip has started well. I hope you have lots of fun and relaxation!

That's a lovely painting in your topper! I'm not familiar with the artist.

Jul 9, 6:21 pm

Happy new thread, Rhian. xx

Sweden is one of the places I really want to visit so I am a bit jealous. Take plenty of photos.

Jul 9, 9:19 pm

Happy new thread Rhian!

I sounds like Sweden suits you.

Jul 9, 10:16 pm

Happy New Thread, Rhian ! Your holiday to Sweden looks lovely!

Jul 9, 11:18 pm

Happy new thread Rhian. Sweden is high on my list, hope you have a lovely holiday.

Jul 10, 12:45 am

Happy new thread, Rhian. Enjoy your time in Sweden.

Jul 10, 10:33 am

Happy new thread, Rhian

>7 SandDune: Ugh! Flying seems to get worse every year, though I hear some places - not the US where I live - have finally decided to allow passengers to travel with liquids in their carry on luggage, rather than paying for over-priced water on the far side of the security screening.

I recall eating outdoors a lot when traveling in Bavaria. I've no idea how they compare with Sweden.

Jul 10, 1:40 pm

>9 drneutron: >10 PawsforThought: >11 FAMeulstee: >12 atozgrl: >13 PaulCranswick: >14 quondame: >15 vancouverdeb: >16 WhiteRaven.17: >17 Familyhistorian: >18 ArlieS: we have left Uppsala now and are at Mora further north. The family is wanting to get in some swimming in a lake tomorrow.

>10 PawsforThought: We went back to the English bookshop this morning before leaving Uppsala and made a few more purchases. It has a particularly good sci-fi section with a lot of U.S. books which aren’t easily available in the U.K.

>18 ArlieS: Eating outside seems more normalised here somehow. It’s not that we don’t do it at home, people will certainly eat out at lunchtime. But it just seems more expected here and a lot of rest provide blankets if it gets cold. Same thing in Denmark.

Editado: Jul 10, 2:04 pm

Here is the centre of Uppsala, an old university town, with the cathedral in the background:

And here is part of the Botanic Gardens, with Jacob and Mr SandDune sunning themselves:

Then the burial mounds at Uppsala Gamla - pretty big. Some of them were flattened to build a church when Sweden converted to Christianity, and when we went we saw a raven purchased on the church roof - maybe a disgruntled Odin? They were absolutely covered in wild flowers and thousands of butterflies.

And lastly the eighteenth century scientist Carl Linnaeus’s summer residence outside Uppsala:

Jul 10, 2:08 pm

Hi Rhian! Those are beautiful pictures of Uppsala!

Jul 10, 3:08 pm

Lovely photos Rhian. Glad you are having a lovely time. Weather looks glorious too.

Jul 10, 10:05 pm

Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing them, Rhian. I'm so glad to see that you're having such a good time!

Jul 10, 10:10 pm

Beautiful pictures of Uppsala, Rhian! The weather looks fabulous!

Jul 10, 10:15 pm

>20 SandDune: we saw a raven purchased on the church roof - maybe a disgruntled Odin? ...or merely expressing his opinion of the new faith by crapping all over it.

So great to see the beautiful sights with y'all.

Editado: Jul 11, 2:22 pm

A book by a Swedish author since we are in Sweden:

39. Amatka Karin Tidbeck ****1/2

Brilars' Vanya Essre Two travels from her home colony of Essre to Amatka, on a three week research mission for the new privately owned Essre Hygiene Specialists. A simple mission to find out what new hygiene products the colony of Amatka might need. On the automated train between the colonies, on which she travels alone, everything is labelled - WASHBASIN, PANTRY, TABLE - and Vanya names her possessions out loud as well. In the world in which she lives giving something its correct name can be a matter of life or death:

Vanya fetched her suitcase and undid the buckles. One of them looked like it was about to come loose. It had been a gift from someone, who had inherited it from someone else, and so on. In any case, it wasn't going to last long, the word SUITCASE was almost illegible. She could fill in the letters, of course, but the question was what would happen first – that the bag simply fell apart from wear or that it dissolved when she put it away. She really ought to scrap it.

"Suitcase," Vanya whispered, to keep it its shape just a little longer. "Suitcase, suitcase."

But in Amatka everything is not the same as it is in Essre. For the first time in her life Vanya starts to question everything that she has ever known about how her world works ...

This is a short, intriguing novel, in which things are not ever fully explained, but which is well worth reading. Recommended.

Jul 11, 7:58 pm

Thanks for sharing your photos, Rhian. It looks like you are having fabulous weather.

Editado: Jul 12, 11:24 am

>21 The_Hibernator: >22 Caroline_McElwee: >23 atozgrl: >24 vancouverdeb: >25 richardderus: >27 BLBera: The weather has taken a turn for the worse today and has been pretty solid rain. Better things forecast for tomorrow. So this morning (much to Mr SandDune's disgust) we headed off to the Dala horse workshop so that Jacob could buy an archetypal Swedish horse for his girlfriend. Actually, once he was there he found it quite interesting.

It's so interesting what unexpected cultural differences you can find in different countries. We came across a knife shop today - I couldn't remember ever seeing a knife shop before so we went in to have a look. They had a play area with knives and pieces of wood for children to practice whittling. I dread to think how many laws that would have broken in the U.K.!

This afternoon we went to the Anders Zorn museum. Anders Zorn is an artist who has fallen out of favour internationally (but not in Sweden) - certainly I had never heard of him. But apparently back in the day he was incredibly well known. Here are two of his paintings, both of his wife:

Emma Zorn - reading (1887)

The Thorn Bush (1886)

Yesterday, it was warmer and we were able to have a dip in Lake Orsajön - not a swim exactly as the water was very shallow for ages. But we got wet. And Jacob found a friend:

Jul 12, 12:00 pm

>28 SandDune: Beautiful paintings Rhian. Have not heard of him before either.

Like Jacobs friend. Purrs are multi-lingual or cross-lingual?

Jul 12, 1:49 pm

>26 SandDune: Oh, I am sooo very glad that you enjoyed this very odd, very immersive read! I keep shoving it at people because I want them to be in Essre with me.

Enjoy your week-ahead's reads.

Jul 12, 2:28 pm

>30 richardderus: Maybe it was on your thread that I saw Amatka first. I bought it for this holiday by just googling books by contemporary Swedish writers. But when I added it to my Library yesterday I saw it was already in my Wishlist, so someone must have recommended it previously. Have you read Jagannath by the same author? They had it in the English bookshop in Uppsala and I wish I'd bought it now.

Jul 12, 2:56 pm

Another cultural difference that I have noticed here is the preponderance of automatic lawnmowers. We have two that wander around the grass surrounding our house here (and the neighbours houses as well as it's difficult to see where the boundary is). We are somewhat fascinated with how they avoid falling in the river at the bottom of the garden. It's not that I've never seen them in the U.K., but I've seen a lot more here.

When Daisy was younger she met an automatic lawnmower when we took her to a friend's house as they wanted to socialise their puppy. She was deeply suspicious of it - I think she thought it was alive.

Jul 12, 3:09 pm

>32 SandDune: Actually having given it more thought, I've realised I'd be far less likely to notice if British homes had automatic lawnmowers as gardens tend to be much less open plan!

Jul 12, 4:16 pm

>31 SandDune: Not yet, though it's on my Kindle. Since it's short stories, it'll get read in stages more than likely.

Jul 12, 4:22 pm

Automatic lawnmowers are not (yet?) a thing over here, I don't think. But I want one! Especially as I'm looking out the window at over-long grass that I need to take care of soon....

Jul 12, 6:40 pm

>28 SandDune: One of our regular stops in "the big city" was the knife/cutlery shop in Beverly Hills. It had no trial area though, just a counter and lots of glinting blades that would make me a bit dizzy. Sometimes we would take kitchen knives or scissors for sharpening, sometimes just stop for a look, and occasionally buy a bit of carbon steel and lament the take-over by stainless steel. I think my dad was the one who directed us there most often, and he only did one or two joint trips each year.

Jul 13, 2:41 am

Nice to hear you’re enjoying Dalarna. We went there a lot when I was a kid but I haven’t been there for thirty years.
Dala horses are classic - was it a Nusnäs horse Jacob got? They’re the best ones.
And I love Anders Zorn. I didn’t know he was forgotten outside Sweden - that’s a shame because his paintings are so beautiful. Though he’s definitely come to be somewhat overshadowed by Carl Larsson in terms of fame. Recently, the Swedish artist being rediscovered is Hilda af Klimt, who I believe there is an exhibition of in London at the moment.

And I hate automatic lawn mowers (we call them robot mowers). They’re creepy and they cut lawns badly (lines all cross-cross). But most people love them because lawns here are big and people don’t want to have to cut them themselves.

Jul 13, 10:03 am

I laughed when I saw your comments on the knife shop -- that could never happen in the US, with all the litigious people!

Jul 13, 1:09 pm

Most exciting thing that happened to day hasn't got anything to do with holiday activities. But Jacob got his degree result, and he got a first class degree (in History). That's what he was hoping for, but you can never be sure ... So we're all very pleased.

Jul 13, 1:44 pm

>36 quondame: >38 BLBera: I think in the U.K. all knives have to be locked up in shops, say in a display just seeing them loose in baskets was a definite shock.

>35 katiekrug: >37 PawsforThought: if I had a big lawn I would definitely like a robot lawnmower (I think that might be what they are called in the U.K, as well.) I think they are quite cute actually, just trundling around all the time. Our lawn is tiny, so we absolutely do not need one, but I can see they would be ideal with the large lawns here.

>37 PawsforThought: It was a Nusnäs horse. We had a look around the workshop as well which was interesting. I hadn't heard of AndersvZorn or Carl Larson either I'm afraid!

Jul 13, 2:34 pm

>39 SandDune: Congratulations Jacob. No doubt there will be some Swedish celebration ahead.

>40 SandDune: Yup, knives locked up in the UK is right Rhian. I can't remember how long that has been, but for a while certainly.

Jul 13, 3:42 pm

>39 SandDune: Congratulations to Jacob!

Jul 13, 4:26 pm

Hi Rhian my dear, Happy New Thread my dear friend.

Jul 13, 8:01 pm

Great pictures, Rhian . I'm glad you are having such a wonder holiday and congratulations to Jacob!I'd never heard of a robotic lawnmower and I had to go and check if we had them in Canada, and sure enough they are for sale. But I've not seen on in action. I might mention it to my son William, who has a yard to mow and he is very allergic to grass and does not like mowing the grass. They are pricey though.

Jul 13, 8:32 pm

Well done Jacob! I'm sure he's thrilled, and you and MrSandDune must be very proud of him.

Jul 13, 8:33 pm

>39 SandDune: Congratulations to Jacob!

Jul 14, 12:32 pm

>28 SandDune: Very nice pictures, Rhian! The Thorn Bush looks almost like a photo. Very pretty indeed!

>38 BLBera: Unfortunately, shoplifting is also a problem here.

>39 SandDune: What wonderful news! My congratulations to Jacob as well!

Jul 14, 2:38 pm

I’m rather amused by everyone having minor culture shock from the idea of knives being accessible in a shop. My first, and most pervasive, thought being “if you want to see knives you should go to Finland”.

And this might be an opportune moment to mention that my dad gave me a knife for my seventh birthday (albeit a small one).

Jul 14, 8:33 pm

Congratulations to Jacob. What is next for him?

Jul 14, 8:55 pm

>39 SandDune: That is great news, Rhian! Please give him our congratulations. As Beth asks, what are his plans going forward - does he want to specialize in a specific period?

Love the Sweden photos too and it remains very close to the top of my own list in places I wish to visit.

Jul 16, 12:08 pm

>41 Caroline_McElwee: >42 charl08: >43 johnsimpson: >45 lauralkeet: >46 quondame: >47 atozgrl: >49 BLBera: >50 PaulCranswick: Thanks for all the congratulations for Jacob. He's still trying to make up his mind what he wants to do - he is spending some time on the holiday looking at his options.

>41 Caroline_McElwee: >48 PawsforThought: I seem to remember going away somewhere with Jacob a few years ago and having to buy him a disposable razor (he had forgotten his) because he was under 18 and they wouldn't sell it to him directly. Which does seem a bit ridiculous...

>48 PawsforThought: I've never been to Finland, so can't comment on that. I suppose there's more hunting here - that's a very niche activity at home - and things need to be cut up.

>50 PaulCranswick: Sweden is lovely. The weather has been a bit unsettled but I would rather have that than the massive heatwave that they are having further south.

Jul 16, 12:29 pm

For our last day in Dalarna we went to visit the copper mine in Falun - a world heritage site. Visiting a mine on holiday is getting to be a habit - recently I've done gold, slate and now copper. I haven't done a coal mine for a while - maybe it's time to revisit one of those!

And then it was time to leave Dalarna to head to Karlstad. Some lovely lakes on the way including this one, Kattbisjön:

And Mr SandDune finally got his proper swim in a lake, here at Lake Gapern:

I so much prefer the Swedish attitude to swimming in the countryside to the British one. The Swedish attitude seems to be as follows: 'It will get warm in summer and people will want to swim so we will provide places for them to do that with basic facilities that they might need'. The British attitude is more like: 'It is going to get very hot and some really stupid people will try to swim in a lake. That's just tough. If you do this you will drown and really, if you're so stupid to want to cool down you might as well drown anyway.' And anyway, none of our water is clean enough to swim in any more ...

Jul 16, 1:28 pm

>52 SandDune: How very short-sighted that 'tude is, Rhian. The Swedes do have vastly fewer people than y'all do, in a much larger space, but common sense and courtesy ought not to be chucked into the bin just because they aren't all that common. Wyoming is about the same land area as the UK and has fewer than a million people in it, so no one would bother coming to look for you if you drowned in one of its stunningly gorgeous rivers or gigantic reservoirs. Equally, no one's going to holler at you for taking a dip in one, either (but they're REALLY REALLY COLD).

Editado: Jul 16, 1:33 pm

>53 richardderus: To be honest I’ve never been anywhere that is so anti-freshwater swimming as the U.K. Other European countries aren’t like that, but we seem to have a real issue with it.

Edited to add: the coldest water I have ever come across was the sea in Portugal, which is surprising, given how far south it is. And it was at the end of the summer too. Swedish lakes are definitely warmer than that.

Jul 16, 2:38 pm

>51 SandDune: Yeah, hunting is pretty big (primarily among middle-aged men) - big enough to the the hunting lobby is a factor in environmental political issues.

>52 SandDune: The copper mine in Falun is the reason why so many houses in Sweden are red. The remnants after the ore had been extracted was made into paint, and because the paint was quite cheap almost everyone in then basically third-world-country Sweden painted their house with that.

Regarding the beaches/swimming areas: outdoor recreation, including swimming, was heavily encouraged at the beginning of the 20th century as a way of keeping the people healthy and strong (this has unsettling connections to eugenics and racism that we don’t need to go into) so public swimming spots have been encouraged for about a century. And the lifebouys present at many of them (like in your photo) are donated by one of the major insurance companies (Trygg-Hansa, as you can see in the photo). It’s great goodwill for them, and makes people connect their name with safety.

Jul 16, 3:06 pm

>54 SandDune: There are some really deep canyons off Portugal's coast, like there are off Long Island's and California's, so the water is a lot colder year-round than in shallower places. Snowmelt rivers got 'em all beat for frigidity, though!

Editado: Jul 16, 3:19 pm

>52 SandDune: Snickering re the swimming comparison. As I don't it's not a problem for me, but our nanny state can make almost anything a problem.

I look forward to hearing what Jacob decides to do going forward.

Jul 16, 3:40 pm

I love Dala horses! They remind me of my childhood. I have several, which were awarded me for skiing the American Vasaloppet, which is a copy of the Swedish World Cup race, also named the Vasaloppet.

Jul 17, 1:28 pm

>55 PawsforThought: There was a little film about the paint in the Dalarna horse workshop, and we saw the factory at the mine.

>56 richardderus: Actually, now I think about it Mr SandDune once made me walk though a small river that was basically glacial melt water when we went to Norway. Now that was probably the coldest thing!

>57 Caroline_McElwee: Mr SandDune really really likes swimming in fresh water, so the greater availability of swimming spots is something he loves.

>58 The_Hibernator: The last place we stayed was Mora, which is where the finish line of the Vasaloppet is located. Seems a very very long way to ski to me (not that I’ve ever been skiing).

Jul 17, 3:20 pm

Happy new thread Rhian! Enjoy your holiday (actually, I see that you are).

Congratulations to Jacob (and parents)!

Re the swimming, I tend to feel colder than other people plus I'm suspicious about icky stuff (like sea/ pondweed that might attack you) so I'm not going to volunteer to strip off and jump in a lake (glacial melt? *shudder*). But I'm glad you're all enjoying the swimming. I'll just enjoy the scenery.

Jul 17, 7:22 pm

>59 SandDune: I am now unable to walk because my feet have assumed the bizarrely curled shape of ammonites even reading about GLACIAL MELTWATER immersion.

You are more tolerant than I. He'd've been kicked to the curb as soon as we were back in civilization had I been in your shoes(!).

Jul 17, 11:28 pm

>52 SandDune: More gorgeous pictures! Thanks for sharing. I'm glad you are enjoying your trip!

Jul 19, 3:59 pm

>60 humouress: I’m exactly the opposite. I much prefer swimming in natural surroundings - I never quite understand what you are supposed to do in swimming pools once you’ve swum up and down the pool once or twice.

>61 richardderus: To be fair to Mr SandDune we were following a path that was labelled as suitable for families with children …. But I think Norwegians are more intrepid at that sort thing than many other nationalities.

>62 atozgrl: I am, thanks.

Editado: Jul 20, 3:15 pm

A nice few days in Karlstad. A mixture of sightseeing boat trips and spending time in the countryside. We discovered a new to us painter Lars Lerin whose paintings we both adored:

We spent some time finding somewhere where we could get a good view of Lake Vannern, the third biggest lake in Europe (the first two are in Russia), something that proved surprisingly difficult given how big it is!

Jul 20, 3:20 pm

We’re now in Stockholm. Another cultural difference that I have noticed: the number of restaurants that are completely shut for three or four weeks for their summer holidays. Not in the very touristy Gamla Stan area, but around our hotel there are a lot of restaurants and a good proportion of them are completely shut. That doesn’t happen at home, or at least only in the winter.

Jul 20, 3:37 pm

Happy new thread!

Trying to catch up after being away.

>20 SandDune: What beautiful photos. Uppsala looks like a great little place to visit!

>65 SandDune: Yes, this seems to be a common thing in Europe. They close down to allow for deep cleaning and vacation time. Some places also close down 1-2 days a week. Where I was, all stores were closed on Sunday. I think in a way it is great for the family run businesses to do this. I also heard from a lot of restauranteurs that they simply do not have adequate staff.

>52 SandDune: What a great swimming spot! Looks nice and clean and refreshing!

Jul 20, 4:07 pm

We've experienced shutdowns in France in August; I think more shops than restaurants but can't be sure because we haven't been there in August in some time. However, visiting France last June we discovered the hard way that most restaurants in the area were closed Wednesdays.

Jul 21, 2:10 am

>66 figsfromthistle: >67 lauralkeet: I can honestly say that in 35 years of largely European summer holidays, I’ve never encountered such a widespread closure. There’s probably a few reasons for this. We usually holiday in holiday areas, rather than big cities, where the restaurants are all open, for obvious reasons. I know Paris shuts down in August, but we virtually never do city breaks in the summer. Although even when we have (we visited Tallinn and Riga in July in 2018 for instance) I didn’t notice any restaurants being closed. And for most of Europe August is peak holiday season, rather than July. We usually go on holiday early in July, everything else being equal, as Mr SandDune breaks up early (his school being a boarding school. He likes to go on holiday early in his time off and for many destinations in Europe it’s marginally cheaper as well. Most other schools where we live didn’t break up until yesterday. Sweden holiday season is definitely early compared to most of Europe. Last time we were here we came in August, and it was definitely cheaper than July and presumably everyone was back at work.

The shops being closed on Sunday thing is very much on a country by country basis, I think. The one that I always forget about (although I know it exists) is Italian shops being closed on Monday mornings.

Jul 21, 10:39 am

>64 SandDune: Wonderful find Rhian. Off to check out more of his work.

Jul 21, 12:17 pm

What a lovely time you are having in Sweden. And big congratulations to Jacob on his excellent results in his studies. He is wise to use a restful vacation to consider his next venture. I got a big laugh out of the different attitudes to swimming amongst the Swedes and Brits. Good for you discovering a new painter. Love those bookshelves!

Jul 24, 3:06 pm

We're back from Sweden now. I'll probably post something about our time in Stockholm tomorrow. But we had an awful journey back! Initially, the plane was over an hour late arriving but but eventually we got on it and it was just taxi-ing to the runway when the people in the seat behind noticed that the window next to them was broken. So we had to return to the terminal and the engineer had to look at it. Turns out it wasn't the window that was broken after all but the plastic screen in front of it. But the engineer had to do a temporary repair. And then we were about to set off again when someone insisted on leaving the plane. And so their luggage had to be found. And by this time of course the plane had to wait a long time for its take-off slot. Anyway the flight home was uneventful and we got home from the airport reasonably quickly, although several hours later than expected. But then when we were unpacking we discovered that we had someone else's cabin bag. I'd asked Jacob to get the cabin bag from the overhead locker and I'd assumed he'd checked it was the right one ...

No names on the bag, but ours had been properly labelled and I got a call from the people who had our bag this morning. So Mr SandDune had to drive 50 miles to ho and do a bag swap this afternoon.

Jul 25, 6:15 am

>71 SandDune: Sounds annoying, but at least it was a short haul flight. And I keep rediscovering the hard way that it's best to double check when you ask teenage sons to do something :0)

Jul 25, 6:14 pm

>71 SandDune: I'm so sorry to hear that you ran into so many problems on the return flight! At least the trip itself was a good one. I hope you're getting settled back in nicely.

Jul 26, 2:10 pm

>59 SandDune: The MN Vasaloppet is in Mora, MN and is the same length. I skiied it a few times in my heyday.

Jul 26, 2:38 pm

Some highlights of our time in Stockholm, which really is a lovely city:

Vasa Museum: The final resting place of the Swedish flagship Vasa which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 after only 30 minutes. It was refloated in 1961 in an incredible state of preservation (no ship worms in the Baltic apparently).

Stockholm City Hall Absolutely beautiful building built in the early twentieth century:

Stockholm Archipelago: Thousands of islands - we took a ferry to one of the islands and spent a few hours sunning ourselves on the rocks and swimming. I'd love to spend more time exploring this area if we ever go back to Stockholm:

Jul 26, 2:44 pm

>72 humouress: it's best to double check when you ask teenage sons to do something - except he's 23!

>73 atozgrl: Everything sorted out at home now!

>74 The_Hibernator: That sounds a great achievement!

Jul 26, 3:27 pm

>75 SandDune: Ooo, I would love to see that great ship.

Sorry your journey home was frustrating Rhian, but glad you had such a good break.

Jul 27, 3:28 am

>77 Caroline_McElwee: It was so impressive - just incredible how much had survived and how big it was. And the surrounding museum was equally interesting.

Jul 27, 3:39 am

Well, we will be officially empty nesters in a couple of weeks time. Seems like Jacob and Caroline have found a place to live and he will be moving out in a couple of weeks. Only to Hertford, which is about 12 miles away, but still …

He is going to come home again for 10 days though (when we go on our cruise) to look after Daisy. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned the cruise? It’s a slightly complicated and rather sad situation. As I know I have mentioned previously, my brother-in-law has terminal cancer. Quite some time ago he and my sister had booked a round Britain cruise (they used to go on a lot of cruises) but his prognosis was not good and the doctors did not expect him to live more than a few months once treatment stopped. So my sister thought that she would be on her own by the time the cruise came along and asked me to go with her. But of course, my brother-in-law has exceeded expectations and is still with us, so my sister will now not be able to travel. So she has transferred her booking to Mr SandDune. So I am going on the full 2 week cruise and Mr SandDune is joining for the first 10 days and then getting off in Montrose (in Scotland) as he will have to go back to work for the start of term.

Jul 27, 5:47 am

>79 SandDune: Well the cruise sounds like an opportunity to relax after the year you have had Rhian, if a poignant one. I hooe your B-i-L is as comfortable as possible.

Jul 27, 7:20 am

>75 SandDune: Impressive, Rhian, both the ship and the City Hall.

>79 SandDune: Wishing Jacob and Caroline good luck in their new home!
The cruise sounds nice. Enjoy it, although there is a sad conotation with it...

Jul 27, 8:57 am

>79 SandDune: Makng the best of a very sad situation, Rhian, is very much a You thing to do.

I hope you'll both enjoy the cruise.

Jul 27, 1:30 pm

>80 Caroline_McElwee: >81 FAMeulstee: >82 richardderus: Thanks for the good wishes. My brother-in-law is at home, but getting weaker ...

I had a pleasant couple of hours this afternoon. My mother's cousin Margaret and her husband came over to visit my mother, and then called in to see us. They were visiting friends in England but it was still quite a long way out of their way and I really appreciated that they had taken the time. And it was nice to have a chat - she is the only relative that I know from my grandmother's side of the family. Although Margaret is my mother's first cousin, age differences mean that she's only 10 years older than me. Her mother was my mother's aunt, but was actually several years younger than my mother!

Jul 27, 2:00 pm

Stockholm looks fascinating, Rhian. I love the photo of the ship.

Good luck to Jacob!

Enjoy the cruise.

Jul 27, 3:43 pm

41. We Know You Remember Tove Alsterdal ****
42. You Will Never Be Found Tove Alsterdal ***1/2

Two excellent crime novels set in the High Coast area of Sweden.

In We Know You Remember Olaf Hagström returns to the house where his estranged father lives, a house he has not been back to for twenty-three years since he was taken away as a teenager, accused of the murder of a local girl. He doesn't mean to go in, but something seems wrong, and Olaf lets himself in to find his father dead in the bath, having clearly been murdered.

Police Assistant Eira Sjödin is the first on the scene and Olaf is the obvious suspect. After all, he's already murdered one person. But the case proves more complicated than it first appears and events of the past reach out to damage the lives of more than one character. And what possible part could Eira's own family have played in the events of all those years ago ...

You Will Never Be Found continues the story of Eira Sjödin as she investigates the case of a man left to die of starvation in the cellar of an abandoned house.

Both of these are well worth reading for anyone, and have a great sense of place in an area a long way north of Stockholm. In particular they both provided some interesting background for my recent trip to Sweden. Looks like there might be a third in the series, and I'll definitely be reading that.

One thing that really irritated me about the translation though - the temperatures were all translated to Fahrenheit and I really don't get the logic of doing this. It wasn't an international type book at all - it was very specific to a particular area of Sweden - and there were several references about things specific to Swedish culture that I didn't understand and had to look up. So why bother changing the temperatures? Surely the fact that temperatures are measured in Celsius is part of setting the scene in a specific location.

Jul 27, 5:26 pm

Oh, wow! I didn’t Alsterdal’s books were translated. That series is set in my neck of the woods, and my mum’s family is from the town it’s set in.

Any questions you have about the Swedish peculiarities- just ask!

Jul 27, 5:51 pm

>85 SandDune: It appears that Harper commissioned the English translations, so they're more US-centric. Say "Celsius" to most US citizens and at best you'll get a blank look and at worst a screed on the evil lizard people taking over the world.

Jul 28, 2:20 am

>86 PawsforThought: The things I had to look up were ‘EPA-tractors’ and ‘snus’. No idea of what either of those were when I read about them first! Is it a good portrayal of the area? One of the things I liked about the book was it very much seemed to talking about a real place and real people.

>87 richardderus: But Americans must know that other countries use Celsius rather than Fahrenheit, don’t they? What about in science lessons at school - do you still use Fahrenheit in those? If I was reading a book about the U.S. and it used Celsius that would feel equally wrong because I know that it wasn’t what would actually be used? And this book is so obviously not set in Kansas it just seems a weird decision to make.

Jul 28, 2:29 am

>88 SandDune: I haven’t read the books myself but my mums very fond of them and I haven’t heard anything negative about them.
EPA tractors are the scourge of any moderately rural area with teenagers in it. The people who drive them love them and everyone else hates them. Snus is very, very common, especially here in the north. It’s dangerous, of course, but at least it doesn’t ruin the air around you like smoking does (I was reminded of this when I went abroad because wow, people still smoke a lot in other countries). I do not recommend trying it because it’s foul, and apparently harder to quit than smoking.

Jul 28, 2:59 am

>89 PawsforThought: Mr SandDune and Jacob saw one of the EPA tractors in Mora, and their initial thoughts were why does that vehicle look so strange and why is it driving so slowly. But once we’d read the book (Mr SandDune really enjoyed it too) it made sense.

And I don’t think I’ll be trying the snus. I’ve got to 62 without any nicotine products at all … And apparently they are illegal here and most of the rest of Europe anyway!

I tend to notice how few people smoke in the U.K. these days. Apparently it’s 13% in England overall, but in my area in about 9.5%. And these days because of the demographics of who is doing the smoking, I don’t actually know anyone personally who smokes.

Jul 28, 10:24 am

I'm intrigued by the Swedish crime series. Other than the temperature conversion (and I totally agree with you---anyone who is reading such a book certainly knows they don't use the F scale there), did you find the translation felt natural? My difficulty with Nordic fiction often is that I have no idea how to properly pronounce the names, so I "stub my reading toe", so to speak, every time one appears.

Editado: Jul 28, 10:43 am

>76 SandDune: Late bloomer, eh? ;-)

>79 SandDune: Virtual hugs (if appreciated) and condolences on your brother-in-law's terminal illness.

Jul 28, 10:42 am

>91 laytonwoman3rd: I will extend the offer I made Rhian to you and anyone else who has questions about Sweden, Swedish things and Swedish pronunciations to feel free to ask me. This will extend to other Nordic countries too, with the caveat that I am not from any of the other Nordic countries and thus my knowledge is not as good.

Jul 28, 11:01 am

>93 PawsforThought: took my hint! I appreciate that offer, as I have just ordered a copy of the first in the Alsterdal series. I will begin by asking you how to pronounce Eira Sjödin. (I think I'm OK with Olaf!)

Jul 28, 11:42 am

>94 laytonwoman3rd: Well, you asked for it so here it is.
Eira = Ey-rah. Emphasis on first syllable.
Sj is pronounced like sh in English, the Ö like I in “girl”, and din is like “deen”. Emphasis on the second syllable (deen).
Is the name actually Olaf? Unusual in Sweden as that’s the Norwegian version of the name. In Sweden it’s usually Olof (O instead of A). And it’s not pronounced how you probably think it is. It’s “Oolovv” (long vowel on first syllable, short vowel on second syllable). Emphasis depends on where you’re from (first syllable = northerner, both syllables = southerner, no one emphasises on just the second syllable).
If it is Olaf then same rules except Oolavv.

Jul 28, 1:12 pm

>95 PawsforThought: Thank you...very clear! I see in the book's description it does spell the name Olof, and I will try not to be corrupted by my grandnieces' obsession with Frozen characters.

Jul 28, 1:28 pm

Great comments on the Alsterdal novels, Rhian. I will look for those.

Jul 28, 1:41 pm

>91 laytonwoman3rd: I thought it was a very good translation generally - I didn’t notice it at all.

>92 ArlieS: He’s really good at some things but maybe not as careful at others!

>94 laytonwoman3rd: >95 PawsforThought: I’ve been pronouncing Eira slightly wrong in my head then. I’ve been thinking Eye-rra, largely because this is a common Welsh word (meaning snow).

Jul 28, 2:46 pm

>96 laytonwoman3rd: Ah, it was Frozen that did it!

>98 SandDune: The R-pronunciation you’ve used is probably closer to the real thing than most English-speakers, because Swedish R is more tip-of-the-tongue than English R. And I believe Welsh has a similar R, unless I’m sorely mistaken. But the “eye” sound would be spelt “aj” or “ai” in Swedish. Eira is an Old Norse name, from Eir - goddess of medical things. The internet tells me the name/word means peace or mercy (no similarity with the modern words for these things).

Editado: Jul 31, 10:30 am

>96 laytonwoman3rd: >97 BLBera: Both myself and Mr SandDune enjoyed the books, so I strongly recommend them.

We all went to see Oppenheimer last night (me, Mr SandDune, Jacob, Caroline, and Caroline's father and sister). We all enjoyed it, although I did think it could do with an edit and got a bit confused with the large cast of characters. Led to a very esoteric discussion between Jacob and Mr SandDune this morning about the geopolitical situation after WWII, to which I could not contribute at all.

Editado: Jul 31, 11:06 am

43. Beartown Fredrik Backmann**1/2

My foray into Swedish authors continues, but this one wasn't as successful as the last two.

Beartown is a down at heel town in the north of Sweden - a town where the local ice hockey team means everything to the local community. And for the first time in years the junior team has an exceptional player and is on the brink of winning the national championship. If they win, money will flow into the town with a new hockey academy but if they lose Beartown will continue its downward slide into post-industrial oblivion. And then on the day of the crucial match, Kevin, their star player, is arrested ...

So why didn't I like this one so much? Unlike the Tove Alsterdal novels Beartown never seems like a real place, and its inhabitants never seem like real people. In fact the book reads like a fable, which could be set anywhere cold and snowy which plays ice hockey. That would work for me if it was more of a feel-good book, but it most definitely is not: some very unpleasant things happen indeed. And because of that I needed more realism. The book tries to deal with some imports themes, sexual violence and male teenage culture being among them, but it didn't work for me.

Jul 31, 11:15 am

>101 SandDune: It is interesting that you don’t feel that Beartown felt real, as it is based on a real place (the town I grew up in, actually) and the events featured are based on real events.
I haven’t read any of Bachman’s books so I have no idea how the books are, though.

Jul 31, 11:41 am

>102 PawsforThought: Oh that's interesting! I wasn't that I didn't think the events could happen - it was more that Bachman's portrayal didn't make it seem real, if that makes sense. I think there's something in his style of writing (or maybe the translation) that makes it seem not quite the real world.

Ago 2, 12:25 am

My library has both of the books by Tove Alsterdal. Thanks for putting them on my radar, Rhian. I'll try not to let the temperatures in Fahrenheit throw me off. Looks like you had a wonderful exploration on your vacation and great news about Jacob's first.

Editado: Ago 2, 7:53 am

We had a little trip to Cambridge yesterday. I had to visit the Apple shop to get a new battery for my phone and we took the opportunity for a visit to Heffers bookshop. Heffers was a little disorganised as they are apparently redistributing the stock between themselves and Waterstones, the other large book shop in Cambridge (who also own Heffers). Apparently, Heffers is going to focus more on academic and non-fiction, while Waterstones will focus on fiction. Any way I bought some books:

Time Shelter
Cornerstones: Wild Forces that can change our world Benedict MacDonald
Nature’s Warnings: Classic Stories of Eco-Science Fiction

Ago 2, 12:31 pm

Love the pictures!

Ago 5, 2:32 pm

>104 Familyhistorian: I Hope you enjoy them!

>106 The_Hibernator: Thank you!

We have everything sorted out for the cruise in a few weeks time now. The booking has been transferred to our names and Mr SandDune has confirmed that he will be able to get off in Montrose (where there is a train station) on the Sunday to get back to work on Monday morning. Surprisingly, there is a direct train from Montrose to London, but it's still going to take a long time for him to get home. I'll be continuing on the cruise until it gets back to Portsmouth the following Thursday. I just hope the weather improves a bit before the end of August. While southern Europe has been having a massive heatwave we most definitely haven't, and it has been very wet. It's not been exactly cold usually (although it was only 13°C at lunchtime today) but certainly not warm.

Ago 17, 11:19 am

>107 SandDune: Here's hoping for at least 20C on your cruise!

Ago 18, 7:26 am

Your trip to Sweden looks and sounds wonderful! I've had to add it to my wishlist of places to visit, after trying to resist because I know it's expensive. I will be making my first trip to Scandinavia next month, with a long weekend in Copenhagen and I'm really looking forward to it.

I hope you enjoy the cruise, although the reason you're going is bittersweet.

Set 7, 11:43 am

Did your cruise go well Rhian?

Set 7, 12:55 pm

General-purpose *smooch*

Set 7, 2:53 pm

Set 11, 8:28 am

>107 SandDune: Am I mistaken or wasn't MrSandDune planning to take retirement sometime soon?

Out 13, 12:47 am

Just waving *hello*

Out 13, 12:54 am

Sorry to read about your BiL, Rhian. I hope the cruise went well.

>85 SandDune: The Swedish books look very interesting. I'll have to see if they are available around my part of the world.

Out 13, 4:26 am

Adding to the waves Rhian.

Out 13, 12:16 pm

Hi Rhian!

Out 18, 2:27 pm

Cruising (ooof) past to wave and wish the SandDune clan a happy fall!

Nov 18, 4:54 pm

Oh dear, it's been a very long time indeed since I appeared on my own thread! So sorry! But after a certain amount of time it seems so difficult to catch up. We went on our cruise which was lovely, but I hadn't realised how full on cruises were. There was very little reading time, let alone time for writing about reading. And unfortunately when we came back I had a rather unpleasant falling out with the manager of the charity for which I was acting as treasurer, which created some additional work for me. I didn't feel that I could continue in the role, but wanted to finish what I was doing for them first, so ended up being very busy for a few weeks. And we've been having works done about the house: new windows (also part of a new back door as Daisy partially ate the last one while we were away - there's a bit of a story there).

In family news Jacob has moved in with his girlfriend, although the accommodation isn't working out as well as they'd hoped so we see them both quite frequently. In sadder news, my brother-in-law passed away in October, the funeral was last Friday. We saw him a couple of weeks before he died, and I think it was a relief in the end. When I started thinking about it I realised that apart from a few cousins, my brother-in-law was the person that I'd known for longest in my life apart from my sister and my mother. My sister was married when I was five, so I don't really remember a time when my brother-in-law wasn't around.

Nov 18, 5:07 pm

>119 SandDune: Lovely to see you back, Rhian.
You have been much missed. My condolences on the loss of your brother-in-law and please give my love to MrSandDune and Jacob and your updates of his life makes me yearn to be his age again!

Nov 18, 5:14 pm

I've rather lost track of the books I've been reading unfortunately, but quite a few rereads of Terry Pratchett and Lois McMaster Bujold. I've also been reading quite a few Welsh learner books. One highlight was O Caledonia by Elspeth Barker which I would strongly recommend to everyone who hasn't read it. I've heard it described as a cross between I Capture the Castle and We have always lived in the Castle and it was a wonderful read. Five stars from me!

Nov 18, 5:21 pm

How lovely to have you back, Rhian, but you've had a busy and sad time.

Nov 18, 5:24 pm

>121 SandDune: Bujold & Prachett are two of my favorite providers of re-reads!

Nov 18, 5:47 pm

So glad to see you back on LT, Rhian! My condolences for your brother-in-law's passing. I'm sorry to hear the sad news. Hugs to you and your family.

It certainly sounds like you have been very busy! I hope that whatever the issue was with the charity, that it has been resolved, even if you are no longer with them.

Here's hoping that the rest of this year will be much happier for you!

Nov 18, 7:55 pm

Even when expected, losing someone you have known your entire life is truly hard. I'm sad with you about the change in your family life... glad for him that the end came with people who loved him near.

Selfishly I am glad to see you here, and hope you're feeling like getting back in the swing of the threads.

Nov 19, 7:36 am

Welcome back, Rhian. I'm very sorry for your loss. It's also too bad that the situation with the charity took a bad turn, that must have been really stressful -- both the falling out and having to deal with the manager long enough to tidy up the loose ends.

It's nice to have you back among us.

Nov 19, 1:05 pm

I, too, have missed your posts, Rhian. And of course, am sorry for the stresses and loss you've experienced recently. Losing those people who have always been around can be utterly disorienting, aside from the pure grief itself. We once had a dog who tried to chew her way out of the house when left alone during a bad storm...I hope Daisy didn't do herself any injury in the process.

Nov 19, 3:56 pm

Good to see you back posting, Rhian. I am glad you didn't fall off the ends of the earth but it sounds like your days were more than full and not with good things. Sorry to hear about your brother-in-law, my condolences.

Nov 19, 5:01 pm

I'll try and get back to everyone tomorrow, as it's quite late now and we've been out all day. But we've been having a booky day so I thought I'd just mention that. We've been up to the Cambridge Literature Festival to hear talks by Jonathan Coe and Sebastian Faulks at the Cambridge Union. These talks were chosen by Mr SandDune as they are two of his favourite authors, but both were interesting speakers. Jonathan Coe was promoting his book Bournville which Mr SandDune has already read and enjoyed, and it sounds like one I would enjoy too. Apparently it has chocolate in it (always good) which I suppose I should have guessed from the title. Sebastian Faulks was promoting The Seventh Son, which has had mixed reviews, but we got a signed copy anyway as I thought it had an interesting premise.

We've not got great history in getting to talks at the Cambridge Literary Festival, although we book them most years. Something always seems to happen to cause problems. And we nearly didn't get to the talk by Jonathan Coe on time today: we hadn't realised that the car needed petrol, forgot about the roadworks on the way to the motorway, and completely failed to allow for Christmas shopping making it busier so more difficult to park. We eventually arrived at the Cambridge Union with about 30 seconds to spare after a 15 minute speed walk through Cambridge from the car park.

I also did a bit of additional book shopping in Waterstones. The Martins by David Foenkinos and Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo

Nov 19, 5:13 pm

>120 PaulCranswick: >122 CDVicarage: >124 atozgrl: >125 richardderus: >126 lauralkeet: >127 laytonwoman3rd: >128 Familyhistorian: Thank you for the condolences. My brother-in-law was able to stay at home and have his family around him, and my sister speaks very highly of the care he received from the N.H.S. And despite two of her children living abroad they have all been very supportive and have all been there when she needed them.

>120 PaulCranswick: I've been informed today that Jacob has got himself a job in Costa Coffee within walking distance from where he is living now, so that will bring some money in while he is looking for something more permanent. He seems to be applying for jobs in a fairly determined fashion, so hopefully he will find something soon.

>123 quondame: They are definitely two authors that I can read again and again.

Nov 19, 6:38 pm

I am sorry to hear about the loss of your brother-in-law. You have had an eventful and sometimes difficult year. I hope the remaining months are quiet ones for you.

Nov 20, 2:15 am

So sorry to hear about the loss of your BIL. Glad he was able to be surrounded by family.

The Winter Cambridge LF sounds like a positive experience, you have reminded me I was going to look at digital access to some of the festivals again. I think I might have missed the boat though.

Nov 21, 4:58 am

Well Monday didn’t turn out quite as relaxing as I thought! I had aquarobics in the morning (which I’ve just restarted after a long gap), then I had some bits and pieces of shopping to do around town. Then I had volunteered to do some leafleting with other Green Party members so I left home at 1.30 and got home at 4, on my feet the whole time. And then I had to take Daisy for a walk. By the evening I was totally exhausted!

Nov 21, 5:11 am

>127 laytonwoman3rd: Daisy didn’t do herself any damage. What happened was this:

About 3 o clock in the morning she developed an upset stomach and wanted to go outside. And of course Jacob, who was looking after her while we were away, didn’t hear her as he was asleep. So she tried to get out of the cat flap. She hasn’t fitted through the cat flat since she was a puppy but that has never stopped her trying in emergencies. Anyway the cat flap was already a little bit damaged and she managed to get the whole thing off and stuck around her head. So then there was a bigger hole in the door and she got her leg though as well. And then she got stuck and started chewing around the hole to release herself. By this stage she was making such a lot of noise that she did wake Jacob up and he managed to release her.

Anyway, he spoke to us next day and we suggested that he ask our very practical and helpful next door neighbour if he could put something over the hole until we got back. Which he very kindly did, but Daisy’s problems continued and more emergency trips outside were needed and so the repairs got pretty chewed as well. Poor Mr SandDune came back from the cruise to deal with a vomiting dog for several days. Anyway Jacob took her to the vet but he didn’t think it was anything serious, just the result of her eating something disgusting when she’s been out, which is totally typical of Daisy. And luckily as I said we were having new windows fitted a week or so after so they were able to fit a new panel on the door at the same time.

Nov 21, 5:46 am

>119 SandDune: I am sorry for the loss of your brother-in law. I am glad that he was surrounded by family.

Nov 21, 7:06 am

Hi Rhian. Glad to see you check in. I am sorry to hear about your BIL. Glad you enjoyed the cruise.

Nov 21, 10:50 am

>134 SandDune: Oh poor Daisy! Being a dog, she won't likely learn from her mistake...many, many people do not pull that trick off either...but grand that she is not permanently harmed.

Lovely week-ahead's reads, Rhian.

Nov 21, 1:58 pm

>137 richardderus: Here is the initial damage:

And here is the door after the first repair (and Daisy's continuing attention):

Nov 21, 2:01 pm

That door has seen some hard, hard times!

Nov 21, 2:03 pm

>131 BLBera: >135 figsfromthistle: >136 msf59: Thanks for dropping by.

>132 charl08: The Cambridge Festival had digital access to its talks going back several years - I think it cost about £15 a year.

Nov 21, 2:05 pm

>139 quondame: Well it's completely repaired now and they managed to just put a new panel in which I was very pleased about, as a new door would have cost over £1,000! No more cat flap either, so she shouldn't be tempted again.

Nov 21, 2:23 pm

Oh my, a lot of stuff going on Rhian. Good to see you back though.

Sorry for your loss. These things take a while to process.

Oops Daisy. Glad nothing serious though.

I really liked Sankofa.

A shame your charity volunteering took a negative turn.

Hopefully things will improve going forward Rhian.

Nov 21, 2:44 pm

>126 lauralkeet: >142 Caroline_McElwee: What happened with the charity was this. When I started (about this time last year) I made clear that I had about half a day a week to devote to it. It soon became clear that the charity was one which had expanded a lot in recent years and that a new accounting system was needed to deal with the accounts properly, and also that we needed a part-time member of staff to assist with the basic bookkeeping, and this was all agreed with the trustees. At the start of this financial year it was agreed that the manager would prepare last years accounts (which she had done previously) and I would focus on implementing a new computer system and deal with this financial year. However, the manager was very resistant to the idea of a new employee, so I ended up spending much more time that I had anticipated, as I had had to do all the basic accounts work as well. When last years accounts were finished they were missing an important piece of information that I had been asking for for some months. But when I asked about this I received what can only be called a tirade from the manager saying that I should have done last year's accounts and that I wasn't spending anything like enough time working for the charity (although in fact I was spending double the amount of time that I'd committed to). While the Board of Trustees were very supportive, I decided very quickly that I did not want to spend my free time in such a toxic environment.

Nov 21, 5:06 pm

>142 Caroline_McElwee: I've read Welcome to Lagos by the same author enjoyed that.

Editado: Nov 21, 6:03 pm

>138 SandDune: EEEK!

>143 SandDune: *ugh* and boooohissss all over Cruella deVil there.

Nov 21, 6:23 pm

>143 SandDune: that’s awful Rhian. Sorry to hear it.

Nov 22, 11:36 am

So sorry to hear about your brother-in-law, Rhian, but glad he is at peace.

Poor Daisy. I hope she's none the worse for her adventures.

>143 SandDune: No, that doesn't sound like fun.

Nice to have you back. I'm glad you enjoyed your cruise.

Nov 22, 12:42 pm

Rhian, I hope you have wonderful memories of your brother-in-law.
Daisy is quite the character. I'm glad all will be well in the end and glad you have someone to repair the door.
My neighbor does so very much for me that I know as someone living alone, I could not stay in my home without his many repairs and assistance.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am grateful for your presence here on the 75 challenge group!

Nov 22, 2:43 pm

>145 richardderus: >146 lauralkeet: >147 humouress: >148 Whisper1: It wasn't a great experience. She was very much one of these Queen Bee types who find change threatening. If I'd been employed then I'd have had to have dealt with the issues, but now I'm retired I definitely don't want that amount of hassle!

>148 Whisper1: We have some great memories Linda. As my sister and her husband had five children (and were also that much older) we have very much tended to gravitate towards them for family celebrations and occasions. And my brother-in-law was a source of good advice as well, which was very much appreciated when we were younger.

Nov 22, 3:38 pm

>143 SandDune: Yup Cruella indeed. Glad you made an escape Rhian, I'm sure when you are ready you will have no difficulty in finding more appreciative places to offer your skills.

Editado: Nov 22, 3:46 pm

I won't do all my reviews but I thought I'd do the best and worst books I've read in my absence. No prizes for guessing which one this is!

Before the Coffee Gets Cold Toshikazu Kawaguchi *

I detested this book. In fact the only reason at all that I finished it was that it was a read for my book group. The basic premise is that customers of the cafe Funiculi Funicula in Tokyo can be sent back in time as long as they follow certain very strict rules. There are a lot of rules governing how this can happen, but there is no danger of the reader forgetting these as they are repeated again and again ad infinitum.

If I'm being generous I could assume that part of the problem I have with the book is down to the translation. But to be honest I don't really think it is. There is too much description, description like this:

Fumiko’s looks were better than ordinary. Blessed with well-defined features and petite lips, she had the face of a pop idol. Her mid-length black hair shone and crowned her with a glowing halo. Despite her conservative clothes, her exceptional figure was easy to discern. Like a model from a fashion magazine, she was a beautiful woman who would draw anyone’s gaze. Yes, she was a woman who combined intelligence and beauty. But whether she realized this was a different matter.

There are too many adjectives and adverbs all over the place. It reads like a primary school class English lesson in descriptive writing, where the teacher has been telling the pupils how to use adjectives, and they are following her instructions in a big way. And the dialogue is just so clunky ...

And the women in it all seem to end up deciding that what they really want to do is the conventional thing that society demands of them .... No, just no.

It's a mystery to me why this book is so popular. It's put me right off the cutesy Japanese books with a cat on the cover sub-genre. (Why has it got a cat on the cover in the first place - there is not a single cat in the book!)

Incidentally before we went to our book club meeting Mr SandDune suggested that I tone down my opinion somewhat to avoid upsetting the person who chose it. (I'd been complaining about it vociferously.) And then what does he go and say when he is asked to give his opinion first - I think it was something along the lines of 'utter twaddle'.

Nov 22, 4:36 pm

>151 SandDune: This was a choice for my Book Group some time ago and none of us liked it - even the person who had chosen it - but at least it was quite short.

Nov 22, 10:12 pm

>151 SandDune: He didn't want you stealing his thunder?

Nov 23, 8:48 am

>152 CDVicarage: There were seven of us at the book group meeting and nobody (apart from the person who picked the book) loved it. A couple of people thought that it was an OK read and the rest of us hated it.

>153 humouress: I don't think so - it wouldn't be like him. I think he just happened to be asked a direct question before anyone else and couldn't bring himself to prevaricate about something he'd hated!

Nov 23, 9:24 am

>151 SandDune: "Utter twaddle" is overgenerous. "Offensive as treacle pudding with saccharine frosting." "Objectionable to anyone with more than a dozen functioning synapses." "Repugnantly twee."

Thank goodness I'm not in y'all's book club, eh what?


Editado: Nov 23, 9:30 am

O Caledonia Elspeth Barker *****

Sixteen year old Janet, wearing her mother's black evening dress, is found murdered at the bottom of the staircase in her family's castle in the Scottish highlands. (No spoilers, this happens on page one). Her parents, rather than mourning the death of their eldest child, breathe a sigh of relief. They make sure that she is buried far from their own chosen plot, as 'under the circumstances they could not feel they wanted her with them. Her restless spirit might wish to engage with theirs in eternal self-justifying conversation or, worse still, accusation. She had blighted their lives; let her not also blight their deaths.'

From this beginning, the book tells the story of Janet's life, from her birth during World War II to her death sixteen years later. The eldest of a large family, whose mother loves babies but is unfortunately less keen on children, she is a child who doesn't belong. She is not pretty enough, not feminine enough and doesn't understand how to behave (at least according to her mother). In the end, it is her relationships with animals that are the most important to her. It is her tamed jackdaw that mourns her most of all:

For a while her jackdaw remembered her and he searched for her unceasingly. High above the glen he floated, peering down into the woods where she used to ride. He swooped to the sunken garden below the terrace; there, in the rare warmth of summer, the air perfumed by azaleas, she had fed him with wild strawberries which grew among the ivy at the base of the wall, leaving none for her family. Down the back drive to the derelict stables he flew, then up to the castle again, hurling himself against windows, hopping about the high, hidden chimney pots, bobbing his inquiring head into one after another and provoking furious flusters and punitive forays from the jackdaw colonies within. Each night he returned to her barren room to roost. His house was the only thing in it now. Before, he had always perched on the end of Janet’s bed, but now he crept under cover and slept in loneliness. He lost interest in food and no longer joined the family at the dining table, jabbing his beak in the mustard, rearranging the spoons, guilelessly hopping through mounds of mince and cabbage. At last, in desolation, like a tiny kamikaze pilot, he flew straight into the massive walls of Auchnasaugh and killed himself. Janet’s sisters found him, a bunch of waterlogged feathers in a puddle, and they buried him. They shed bitter tears for him and for Janet too, then, but they knew better than to mention it.

This is a beautifully written book that evokes Janet's life beautifully. It is a book with gothic elements but one that seems completely real at the same time. Janet is absolutely a real girl faced with very real problems. (And apparently the castle in the story is based on the one owned by the author's parents). This is the book that I am now insisting that everyone I know should read. Highly recommended.

Nov 23, 9:33 am

>155 richardderus: Everyone is usually very nice to each other! You might stand out a bit! I tend to be one of the more outspoken members usually when it comes to criticising things. But to be fair, we don't usually read this sort of book. But so many people like it - it's a bit of a mystery to me.

Nov 23, 9:41 am

Glad to see you back, Rhian!

Adding my condolences to all for the loss of your brother-in-law.

Poor Daisy, so desperate to get outside. What a mess she left with the door. Good the door panel could be replaced.

And glad you left the charity, their loss. I hope you can find something more rewarding for that half a day a week.

Nov 23, 9:52 am

>156 SandDune: This sounds wonderful, Rhian. I've only heard good things about it. Would it be a good book club choice?

Editado: Nov 24, 8:44 am

>158 FAMeulstee: Thanks for the condolences. At least Daisy was trying to do the right thing!

>159 BLBera: I actually picked it for my book club choice and it worked very well. Some people loved it (like me), some people just liked it, but nobody disliked it. And there was plenty to talk about, although it's not very long.

Nov 23, 10:01 am

>156 SandDune: You broke me. I've resisted this book for years, and now I can't.

>157 SandDune: My "be nice" button hasn't worked in...decades, certainly, if it ever did.

Nov 23, 4:25 pm

>156 SandDune: I read this when it first came out and loved it Rhian. Sadly she has written so little, but I just bought Notes from the Henhouse which I think is memoir/essays, which came out this month.

Nov 23, 5:54 pm

>143 SandDune: I am so sorry that you had to go through all of this. Too bad the manager was so toxic. Very glad that you're retired and don't have to put up with that. You did a yeoman's job, sticking with it long enough to wrap up what you were working on.

Though it's not your holiday, sending you Thanksgiving wishes from across the pond!

Nov 23, 6:19 pm

Well, somehow or other I have managed to miss this entire thread. Sorry about that. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week!

Nov 23, 6:37 pm

Oh dear! Sorry to hear about Daisy, but I'm glad it is not anything serious. We have a dog door out to out small townhouse garden for Poppy, but we occasionally have too deal with dog vomit too. Part of the job, I guess.

Nov 23, 7:15 pm

>156 SandDune: I'll give that a try.

Nov 24, 4:00 am

My sister wanted me to train her Japanese spitz to use her new (one way) dog door the last time I went to Australia, which I did. But then Lily apparently thought it was a game - she'd go out and immediately bark to be let in only to go out through the dog door again ... and so on ad infinitum until my sister locked the dog door to prevent such shenanigans.

Editado: Nov 24, 9:39 am

>161 richardderus: I hope you enjoy it!

>162 Caroline_McElwee: I'm putting Notes from the Henhouse on the Christmas list as this looks very good.

>163 atozgrl: >164 alcottacre: Thank for dropping by!

>166 quondame: Definitely recommended.

>165 vancouverdeb: >167 humouress: I've always been a bit nervous of dog doors, on the grounds that if Daisy could get out, maybe a small burglar could get in. Although I suppose it would have to be a very small burglar! She learnt to use the cat flap at a very early age by copying our cat. She was most indignant when she grew too big to fit any more, and I think ever since has been of the opinion that it would only take a little more effort, and if she just pushed a bit harder...

We now have more repairs that need doing. Mr SandDune dropped his bottle of pre-shave on our bathroom basin and it has made a hole. So we need a whole new basin fitting, which is annoying. And we're taking the opportunity to have some tidying up done around our shower fittings as well, which has been looking untidy for a while.

Nov 24, 9:38 am

67. The Lido Libby Page ***

Rosemary has swum in Brockwell Lido in Brixton for almost her entire life. The events of her life have been marked out in the lido from its opening when she was a young child. It's where her husband proposed to her, and where still, at the age of 86, she goes every day to swim:

Lowering herself down the ladder Rosemary feels like a tree in the wind. Her branches creak. She lets go and is taken by the water, letting its coldness surround her and getting used to the temperature before kicking smoothly off the side. She begins her steady swim into the mist. She can’t see the deep end but knows that if she keeps kicking she will eventually reach it. Rosemary is eighty-six but in the water she is ageless.

When the council announces that it can no longer afford the upkeep of the lido, and that it has plans to sell the site to a property company for development as a private spa, the regular swimmers are dismayed. When Kate, a young local journalist struggling to find her place in the world, arrives to interview Rosemary, she becomes more involved in the struggles for the Lido's future than she would have dreamed possible.

This is an easy-going, feel-good book. Nothing spectacular, but a reasonable read if you're in the mood for that sort of thing. No idea if the portrayal of Brixton is in anyway realistic as I've never been there, which I'm now thinking I should probably remedy.

Nov 24, 9:59 am

It's been a bit of a rubbish couple of days. I went down with a cold Tuesday evening, and also on Tuesday evening my Mum's care home rang me to say that she had had a fall. There were no obvious injuries but they put here down to see the G.P. the next day, (just to be on the safe side). Then the G.P. decided she needed an x-ray , (just to be on the safe side). I obviously couldn't go, as I was streaming with cold, so Mr SandDune took her Thursday morning. Then he ended up having a 'robust discussion' with the hospital as the G.P. had put the wrong referral down on their system. Anyway, all done eventually, and nothing broken, thank goodness. But we are going to have to have a chat with the care home about their assumptions that we can take her to the hospital in these situations. Mr SandDune's view is that I wouldn't be able to manage her now (which I agree with), and that she won't be able to carry out getting in the car at all for much longer.

Nov 24, 11:43 am

>170 SandDune: It does make you wonder that they can’t see such things for themselves quite frankly Rhian. Sorry about your cold. I hope you have a good book to hand!

Nov 24, 11:45 am

>170 SandDune: Does the care home have a transportation van, Rhian? Or even a mobile x-ray machine? Those things are fairly standard here, but they weren't always. It's so hard to wrestle with bureaucracy when you're already under stress. I hope your cold moves on quickly.

Editado: Nov 24, 1:04 pm

>171 Caroline_McElwee: >172 laytonwoman3rd: They do have their own transport, it'll be the staffing that's the issue. It'll take two people out for several hours at pretty short notice. I think it's these in-between trips that are the issue. Obviously if it's an emergency then they will call an ambulance and hospital transport can be arranged for scheduled appointments. For the size of the care home, providing two extra staff at short notice to accompany a resident will always be a problem. As I used to work in a care organisation I can appreciate that finding the staff to do that can be a real issue. We live in a reasonably expensive area and finding people who want to do that sort of work is not easy.

I don't think I'd expect them to have a mobile X-ray machine, purely because you would also need a radiographer, and having someone on standby for that sort of thing just wouldn't be practical, at least not for the size of care homes that we have here. (My Mum's home has about 50 residents and that sort of size seems pretty common).

So after all that, I can see that if they can persuade the relatives to take a resident to hospital it'll be a lot easier for them. And if it was practical I'm very happy to accompany her. But I can't be responsible for the physical side of things.

Nov 24, 3:00 pm

>173 SandDune: Our system in Long Island's ecosystem is to have a company that has portable x-ray machines go to all the facilities that need the service; inclusive of radiography interpretation and communicating with the MD in charge. Your mother's situation, though, if it took place here, would be an automatic ambulance trip to the hospital and back to be fully assessed. At over 90, it's optimistic to think the x-ray should be the last word in this country's crummy medical system.

I'm glad the forward thinking has been undertaken, but sad that it's necessary. Hoping your home-handyman situation stabilizes as well as your mother's has, Rhian. You really don't need more stress. *there there, pat pat*

Nov 25, 1:43 pm

>174 richardderus: The portable x-ray system sounds a very sensible approach. I wish we had that here. For simple breaks there is a minor injuries clinic about 10 minutes away from us, and for more complex things the X-ray clinic at the hospital is about 20 minutes away, but in both cases we have to go there.

I am doing an online Welsh revision course over the weekend. I was a bit worried that my cough would prevent me from participating, but I've managed so far. The mute button on Zoom is very useful at times!

Nov 25, 2:50 pm

I am sorry to hear about your cold, Rhian, and the difficulties regarding your mother which I hope are resolved soon. Surely there must be some kind of resolution possible for both parties?

Have a wonderful weekend!

Nov 25, 3:45 pm

Hi Rhian my dear, i could hug you for your lovely comment my dear, it means a lot to me.

Nov 25, 4:24 pm

>176 alcottacre: Oh there definitely will be - in general we find the care home very helpful. It's just we haven't had that conversation yet. I think it's only just clarified in our own minds. I would have gone in to see them Thursday or Friday if I hadn't been coughing everywhere!

>177 johnsimpson: You're welcome John,

Ontem, 3:36 am

>64 SandDune: Your "new to us painter Lars Lerin" is amazing. I love those works.

>170 SandDune: That is scary, I hope your mum is OK, and that she remains upright!