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Tarka the Otter by Henry Williamson

One of the books I read in April – Waterlog by Roger Deakin – mentioned Tarka the Otter in glowing terms. This is a book, which has remained mostly unread on my bookshelf since my youth. I always felt disappointed that I had not been able to get into it. Other people said it was a wonderful book.

I decided that the time had come to have another go at reading it. There were two things going on in my mind while I read it. The first was following the story. The second was recognising why I had been unable to read it as a young teen or pre-teen.

Although the book was published by Puffin (the children’s books from Penguin) in 1949 and reprinted several times through the 50s and 60s, it had originally been published in 1927. According to Wikipedia it has never been out of print. The author had fought in WW1. Having returned to Britain, he preferred to study the countryside and write about it than to mix with people.

By the time I first tried to read it, the language was already a little old-fashioned. I grew up in the London suburbs. Apart from visits to friends and relatives in the countryside and walks on commons, I had little experience of nature. (Nature study had been one of my favourite subjects at primary school, but my bird-watching was confined to looking out of the window at the garden birds. We did not have a television for me to watch documentaries about Nature.)

Henry Williamson used many dialect words to describe living creatures. The standard names for them were introduced several sentences later. It is quite hard work to follow this style of writing. Also the word for the footprint (seal) of an otter is the same as for a marine animal, so it really is necessary to concentrate on the context.

After all these years I found that I had the relevant experience to be able to visualise the creatures and some of the places described in the book. For example, I have seen a tree-creeper. I have visited Croyde Bay, Baggy Point and Woolacombe, which appear on the map in the book. (At the time I visited these I did not realise that they were Tarka country.)

So what is my opinion of the book?

I am glad I have finally read it; it no longer sits reproachfully on a shelf. It is not one of my favourite books. I have enjoyed the other books in this genre, which I have read this year, more than I enjoyed Tarka. However I would encourage other people to read it as it is an iconic book. In my opinion it is not really a children’s book.

Incidentally there is a strap line, which does not appear on the cover. The title page of my copy reads, “TARKA THE OTTER HIS JOYFUL WATER-LIFE AND DEATH IN THE TWO RIVERS”.

7

A to Z Challenge Reflections Post 2017

During this year’s challenge I was pleased to revisit some blogs I had found (or whose owners had found me) in previous A to Zs.

I also became aware of some new (to me) participants.

My list may not be complete, but I am adding some notes about each of the links I provide below in the hope that visitors to my blog will find some like-minded bloggers to visit and perhaps follow.

The A to Z Challenge’s founder Arlee Bird blogged about time at http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/

http://mailadventures.blogspot.co.uk/ This is a blog about all things connected with postcards, snail mail and stamps. http://mailadventures.blogspot.co.uk/p/links.html lists many more similar sites.

https://bobscotney.blogspot.co.uk/ Houses some real some not. (Bob is a blogger I began to follow last year). He also blogs about postage stamps each week.

https://sratteberry.wordpress.com/ Shawna completed the A to Z Challenge with aplomb. Her blog was new to me this year.

http://heartofareadywriter.blogspot.co.uk/ Linda blogged about hymns this time. I have been following her blog since a previous challenge.

https://lynnelives.wordpress.com/ Lynne joined the challenge late this year, but caught up and posted photos of her garden. (One advantage of a list-free challenge.)

http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/ Hilary is a veteran blogger. This year she looked at rare breeds of animals and used her imagination for the difficult letters. (Unicorn anyone?)

http://mainelywrite.blogspot.co.uk/ Donna found personalised registration plates and wrote verses- a fun challenge.

http://curiousasacathy.com/ Cathy sketched her way from A to Z.

http://sagecoveredhills.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/aprils-z-challenge-reveal.html Heavenly bodies (i.e. stars)

http://laurelgarver.blogspot.co.uk/ This is the blog of an author. I nearly missed her comment as it landed in spam. She issued a writing prompt each day.

https://wordwacker.wordpress.com/ Haiku word puzzles

https://lunanoctis.wordpress.com/  Natalie found me; she blogged about Musical groups.

https://marthareynoldswrites.com/ A blogger I discovered the first time I did the A to Z. Martha blogged about musicals.

https://seezooeyrun.wordpress.com/ Unlike me Gail is a Mormon. I first encountered her blog, when she A to Z’d about family history, something Mormons are experts at.

https://fortyandfantastique.wordpress.com/a-to-z-april-challenge/ a blogger I admire, this year blogging about the streets of Paris.

https://evelyneholingue.com/ Evelyne chose a French theme again this year – authors.

https://mymorningcupofcoffee.blogspot.co.uk/ Debby blogged about life in the 60s.

https://psaltermark.com/ Mark blogged about the Hebrew Bible.  In some ways his posts and mine complemented each other. There was only one letter for which we chose the same word. That day I had two words! I have been following Mark on Twitter for a while, but our posts were written completely independently.

https://theartisticchristian.wordpress.com/ John has completed the A to Z challenge previously.

I’d also like to thank the following people for their encouragement through the challenge:

Arlee Bird, http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/, Susanne Matthews https://mhsusannematthews.wordpress.com/, Rosemary http://charliebritten.wordpress.com/, Susan http://colormewriting.blogspot.co.uk/ (A to Z on parenting young adults), Captain Jill https://captjillsjourneys.wordpress.com/ (Travel), John Holton, who set up a place for WordPress bloggers to link their posts and did his A to Z on https://thesoundofonehandtyping.wordpress.com/, Donna a book blogger from A to Z http://www.girl-who-reads.com/, Lydia https://lydiahowe.com/ a writer and enthusiastic A to Zer, Beth https://bethlapinsatozblog.wordpress.com/ ,A.J. Sefton Author https://www.ajsefton.com/, Mandy http://blog.youreverydaytraveler.com/, Kaddu http://www.mysteriouskaddu.com/ Liam who posted Photos for the challenge https://othemts.wordpress.com/, Katy trail creations (lovely quilts) https://slfinnell1965.wordpress.com/, Marna https://authormarnareed.wordpress.com/ blogging about mythology in her second A to Z, Cathy http://curiousasacathy.com/ and others, who liked my posts without leaving a comment. Also a supportive follower on Twitter and Mark for numerous retweets.

Without a sign-up list I shared my posts on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, the A to Z challenge page and associated Facebook page and the A to Z page on WordPress. Google+ was the least effective. It is impossible to tell where exactly on Facebook clicks to my blog originated.

It has been a worthwhile challenge. Whether I shall find the time, inspiration and energy to take part again next year remains to be seen. An list of my A to Z posts is on a page.

I intend to link this post to the A to Z Reflections posts on Monday 8th May.

Reflections of debris caught on a fence

Reflections of debris caught on a fence

My usual mixture of posts will resume on a weekly basis, beginning with What I read in April next Thursday.  I’d like to thank my non-A to Z-ing followers for their patience during April.

If you like my photo, why not visit Sue’s words and pictures?

2

Yeshua

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When names are translated from one language to another, they sometimes change. The name Yeshua, which is very similar to Joshua, is “Jesus” in much of the western world.

During the forty days before Easter (Lent) many people either give up something as a form of fasting or take on something extra as a form of service.

I was privileged to be able to join a group of people on three evenings at weekly intervals to watch a film. It was “Risen”. We watched about a third of the film on each occasion and then discussed what had happened, how it differed from the accounts in the Bible and how we reacted to it. We were all people, who believe that Jesus rose from the dead. We wondered how anyone, who did not know the story of Easter would react to the film.

The main character is a Roman soldier – a tribune. Yeshua is the name of the man, who was crucified, place in a sealed tomb and then missing. The Roman has to find out what has happened and make up his own mind. It is a very dramatic film and after the second “episode” we were very keen to see how it would all end.

Do you know the story of Easter? It is told in all four of the Gospels and discussed in many epistles (letters). It is central to the Christian faith. The day I wrote this a verse from Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth was the verse of the day.

The Easter story told by Mark – Chapters 14, 15 and 16.

The Easter story told by Matthew – Chapters 26, 27, and 28

The Easter story told by Luke – Chapters 22, 23 and 24

The Easter story told by John – Chapters 18, 19, 20 and 21

This year for the A to Z Challenge I have taken my 2013 Challenge as a starting point for most of the posts. I have written a post based around something or usually someone from the Bible. Sometimes it is a fictional story, for example when I have added some back stories (as a writing exercise). Sometimes it is a summary.

 I hope my readers will be challenged to consider the original texts in more depth. (If only to discover what liberties I have taken with them!)

My Y post for 2013 does not mention Yeshua