What I read in November 2016

So far this month I have read six books.  That is perhaps too many for a single post.

The books are three I have reread, having located them on the bookshelves at home and three from the local library.

I shall review the ones I reread in this post and save the library books for next time.

Three books I reread

Three books I reread

It was a long time since I had read Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies by Rudyard Kipling.

These books make a set.   In case you haven’t read them, two children in Sussex stumble upon a fairy ring on Midsummer’s Day, accidentally calling up the mischievous Puck from William Shakespeare’s play.  On different occasions he introduces them to characters from the past, wiping their memories afterwards, lest adults think they are mad!

It was possibly the third time I had read these books.   Reading them as a child I missed a great deal of the background and simply enjoyed them for their atmosphere and vocabulary.  This time I was amazed by the links with some of the books I have read recently.  I found the whole experience of rereading these two books fascinating.

Weland’s sword was mentioned in Puck of Pook’s Hill and in Edoardo Albert’s  Edwin: High King of Britain.  There is a Roman centurion in Puck of Pook’s Hill, which tied in with the book by Hunter Davies, which I read in October.  The final story in Rewards and Fairies is set in the same period as Accession by Livi Michael.  Also in Rewards and Fairies there was mention of people being brought for safety, because they were nonconformists, from the Low Countries to Romney Marsh in Kent, England.  The Heretic by Henry Vyner-Brooks is about some of these people.

I am by no means a historian.  In fact I failed my O-level in history.  However, I do enjoy historical fiction.  It is interesting to find the places where authors overlap in their treatment of the various periods.

The next book I reread was Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.  This is another book I first read as a child.  The dust cover is missing, but I can remember the picture in some detail!  Again I must have read it more than once before.  However, only the first part of the story had really stuck in my mind.  It was like reading a book for the first time.

It is an adventure story with a historical setting.  There is a lot of background information about the Scottish Highlands and Islands.  The reason I read it was that the coach driver on the Isle of Mull (on our recent trip to Iona) had told us that we should read it.  David Balfour travels through Mull in the story, which I read with a map of Scotland to hand, so that I could follow his route on the mainland as well.  (For more of my pictures of Scotland and the Scottish Islands please consult the contents of Sue’s words and pictures.)

I was also struck by the information about Scottish culture.  The language is not simple, being a sort of Lowland Scots dialect.  Footnotes explain the most obscure words.  Coincidentally I heard a trailer for a BBC broadcast about Kidnapped.  The points which had stood out for me from the background to the story were mentioned.

I do not own a copy of the sequel, Catriona.  I read it at school, possibly in English lessons.  I have ordered a copy from the library.

These are three great classics, but not a light read.


The Jazz Files – Book review

That I bought this book last Friday morning, began reading it in the afternoon and finished it in the evening is a recommendation by itself.  The story is well constructed.  I spent the whole of one chapter wondering whether there was an error in what the film industry calls continuity, only to discover it was an important element in the plot.

I had put off reading the book as I was uncertain whether it was a crime novel or a historical novel.  The former is not a genre I enjoy now, but the latter is.  I am going to declare that this is a historical novel.  It is set in the 20th century and whether any crimes have been committed, well, why don’t you read it and find out?

I am still puzzled by one sentence, which has been transcribed from Russian.  It perhaps is not important to have the meaning, but having a passing acquaintance with the language, I’d have liked to have been able to work out what it meant.  I failed. Я не знаю.  I don’t know!

However I do know that I’ll be looking out for the next in the Poppy Denby series by Fiona Veitch Smith.


What I learned in August

This post is a day early to catch the link up for What I learned in August.

Photography and technology

I have learned that it is possible to delete photos from the bin on my Android phone.  If I do not do this, they take up storage for 60 days.

My Android phone did not like having an SD card with lots of memory.  For some reason it kept giving me the message that the SD card was damaged and needed reformatting.  I have replaced it with a smaller one, which is still plenty big enough.  Perhaps bigger isn’t always better!

The people, who provide WordPress have a new way of organising photos – Mesh.  It could be useful, but the photos are public.

I found that backing up my photos to Google, where there is the option of making them private or public, sometimes results in attractive groups of photos.  Cropping a screenshot is a quick way of producing a gallery.  (However, since upgrading to Windows 10, I have been unable to edit photos on my laptop.  WordPress also offers a gallery facility, whichI have not yet tried.)

Places and people

There is a place in south east England, which at (only) 700 feet above sea level is the highest point before the French Alps.

Royal Tunbridge Wells grew up around a spring.  There are a few churches dedicated to King Charles the martyr including one in the town.

Pride and Prejudice was filmed at Groombridge Place.

The sculptor, Ophelia Gordon Bell, of whom I had not previously heard, has strong connections with Cumbria.  She made the Breakthrough Cross at Burrswood Hospital in Kent.

An art project at Talkin Tarn was the reason the bird hide was closed when we visited.

Cockermouth had a linen mill at one time.

Visiting English Heritage sites is interesting and enjoyable.  (Furness Abbey and Carlisle Castle are the two places we visited this month as new members.)


A mandolin has two strings for each note, which are tuned to the same notes as a violin.

Music is a good conversation-starter.


Lido is pronounced leedo.

What you say and what other people understand is not always the same.  For example, I said, “I heard a loud noise; the peregrine flew into the conservatory.”

My friend queried, “It was in the conservatory?”

I meant it had collided with a window or door.

I have found recently that people try to work out my motives for telling them something and don’t wait for explanations. They interrupt with all kinds of assumptions instead of waiting until the end of the elevator pitch.

Is this why I prefer to write?|