I’ve come to the end of Readers Imbibing Peril, it’s the first time I’ve taken part and I did enjoy it. I did quite well I think, the only book on my original list that I didn’t read is Shirley Jackson’s Dark Tales. I requested this one from the library and it hasn’t arrived yet, I will read it when/if it does turn up.
The only author who was new to me was Raymond Chandler, I’ve been meaning to get around to reading him for decades, I loved The Big Sleep so I’ll definitely be reading more of his books.
We planned to visit the Roman parts of the small village of Aldborough on our way back home to Scotland after visiting Bletchley Park recently, and even although the rain was chucking it down we decided to stop off there anyway for a rest and to stretch our legs a wee bit. We did find the ‘Roman town’ but there was a locked gate across the entrance. Due to Covid the English Heritage site was shut. You can have a look at the Aldborough Roman site here. Fingers crossed we’ll actually be able to visit again in the future.
The visit wasn’t a dead loss though as the village itself is lovely even in the rain, and has some interesting old buildings. Apparently the Roman town originally covered the whole of the ‘modern’ town. You can read about it here. The famous Ninth Legion had a base here, until they disappeared!
It was obviously a very important military settlement and I think if I lived there I would be spending a lot of time in the garden digging as a lot of Roman artefacts have been discovered in this area. We only spent about fifteen minutes looking around, due to the weather but I’m looking forward to going back there one day, when/if things ever get back to normal. Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister has asked us not to travel out of our own area in these pandemic times.
I can’t see any mention of the very prominent Maypole anywhere on the internet which is strange as I’m fairly sure there aren’t that many around. I ‘discovered’ this village when reading my copy of the AA Book of British Villages (1980) and it states that the maypole is used in the second week of May every year for maypole dancing. It sounds like the village has a good community spirit anyway. There are some lovely Georgian houses, they always make me think of Jane Austen.
There’s something so English about a village green and obviously it should have an oak tree.
This village green boasts a set of stocks too, I imagine that in May and at summer fetes they will be used with local worthies being put in them while people pay and queue up to throw wet sponges at them!
We squelched around the churchyard, St Andrews Church dates from 1330 and replaced the Norman church which had been destroyed by Scottish raiders (ahem) it’s not all that far from the Scottish Border really. It looks like the church has been extended over the years.
I think the wall which surrounds it dates from Roman times but has obviously also been extended. This is definitely a place that we’ll have to visit again.
Sherlock Holmes and the Martian Menace by Eric Brown is the most recent publication in the series which is published by Titan Books. It’s not at all my usual kind of reading fare, I’ve never been a huge Sherlock Holmes fan mainly because I found his smart Alec observations to be quite tedious, thankfully they don’t feature too much in this book, but otherwise I think this strange mixture of the Edwardian era and SF works really well.
Earth has been invaded by Martians who are obviously much more technologically advanced than humans. The first invasion was very violent and culminated in many deaths but the invaders couldn’t fight off a common terrestrial virus (yep) so it was ultimately a failure. Six years later another Martian armada arrives on Earth, suposedly they’re peace-loving and their technological advances are very welcome by the people of Earth as they bring prosperity. There’s no doubt though that the Martians are in charge and Earth is just a part of their empire.
When Holmes and Watson are asked to investigate the death of an allegedly famous Martian philosopher and the investigation takes them to Mars, it isn’t long before Holmes realises that the whole thing is a con to get them to Mars.
All is not hunky dory on the planet and there’s a rebel faction, they’re not at all happy with those in power. Can they team up with Holmes and Watson?
I really enjoyed this book which has plenty of tension, interesting characters, is well written and also manages to convey an authentic Edwardian atmosphere at the same time as being futuristic.
I must admit that I was given this book by the author who is an old friend of ours. He writes science-fiction and also a crime series which is set in the 1950s. Although Eric Brown is a proud Yorkshireman he has been living happily in Scotland for several years now, but I’m not sure if he can be counted as a Scottish author.
Put your virtual walking shoes on and join me on my morning walk for the Guardian in rural Fife.
We’ve had so much rain recently, it’s very wet underfoot and my expensive wellies didn’t last long before the heel split so for me it’s a wet walk eventually as the dampness penetrates my two pairs of socks, at least virtual walkers don’t have that to contend with! I refuse to buy another pair of expensive but useless wellies.
The trees are probably at their best just now, soon the leaves will be battered to the ground by rain or wind.
It’s not only the trees that are providing interest at the moment, various fungi are doing their thing too. It has been a great year for them due to the very wet summer we had; puffballs appeared in my garden in June, they’re a pain in the neck.
I think these ones are Cantharellus cibarius, apparently edible but I’d be too scared to try them just in case they’re poisonous.
I think the one below is Grifola frondosa, edible but with a mouse-like smell!
I think the one below is a Coprinus comatus, edible unless the gills have started to liquefy! The camera didn’t pick it up but this one looked really beautiful as the raindrops encased all around it like diamonds and pearls, but even better.
Back to the path and the acers are looking grand.
Walking under the trees here is special and I can see why doctors have started to prescribe patients a course of woodland walks to help their mental health.
There aren’t quite enough leaves here to dance along while scuffing through them, I’ll have to wait a bit for that harmless but daft bit of seasonal fun. I hope you enjoyed your walk with me.
I’m still Bookshelf Travelling in Insane Times which was originally hosted by Judith at Reader in the Wilderness, but I’m gathering any posts at the moment.
This week I’m still in my sewing/crafting/ironing room and featuring my small collection of Persephone books. That bookshelf is also home to some random books, travel and sort of autobiography.
I haven’t got around to reading all of them yet but my favourites so far are Dorothy Whipple’s Someone at a Distance and Good Evening, Mrs Craven by Molly Panter-Downes. Of the non Persephones my favourite is The Oaken Heart by Margery Allingham. In it Allingham writes about the changes that the early stages of World War 2 effected on the small Essex village that she lived in. The village had just over 600 inhabitants and then 275 children for London were evacuated there – and she was responsible for them, a great read.
Vinland by George Mackay Brown was first published in 1992 and I was attracted by its cover when I saw it in a St Andrews bookshop, the cover features a Viking ship and the title seemed to promise something interesting as Vinland was the name that the Norwegian explorer Leif Erikson gave to the land we now know as America, he voyaged there around about the year 1000. Sadly this book really should have been titled Orkney as most of the story takes place there. It’s the tale of Ranald a young lad from Stromness in Orkney who ends up stowing away on Leif Erikson’s ship after his father treats him so badly during his very first sea voyage with him to Bergen.
The time on Vinland passed very quickly as the First Nation people that they encountered were sensible enough to beat them off, it’s such a pity that the next tribesmen who encountered Europeans didn’t emulate them as then they wouldn’t be in the position they are today.
Anyway, back to the book. Vinland is written in the style of a Norse saga and it follows Ranald from his childhood through to his death at an old age. During his life on Orkney he realised that the violence and terror that had been the Viking way of life was no way to live and he settled down to cultivating the family farm. He never lost his longing for the sea though and dreamed of visiting Vinland again.
With Orkney being ruled by three brothers each with their own area and with the Kings of Norway and Scotland also laying claim to the place peace wasn’t always easy to come by.
I quite enjoyed this book but as I read the Orkneyinga Saga fairly recently and that is the actual Norse sagas about Orkney I wouldn’t have bothered to read this one if it had been titled Orkney as it should have been.
George Mackay Brown was an Orcadian writer, mainly a poet, and if you have visited the islands you might appreciate re-visiting them through the book as the geography of the place is so clearly described.
I’m counting George Mackay Brown as a Scottish author although he might not have been happy about that as the people in those northern islands sometimes take umbrage at that. Orkney was Danish until 1472.
We’re well into autumn now but there’s still quite a bit of colour and blossom in my garden. The ceanothus has just decided to flower for the second time and the fuchsia Ricartonii has been very late, the frost will probably get them soon.
The mystery berry tree (possibly a cotoneaster) is very bright but I’m cutting it back to make it a bush rather than a tree as there are too many trees growing out of hand in my garden.
The dogwood (cornus) leaves are just about to drop, but they’re also contributing to the colour in my autumn garden.
Spring or autumn – the acers are my favourites.
There are still a few roses around, and the geranium leaves die off so cheerily.
I bought some marigolds in early summer, different varieties and the one below has been great so I’m saving seeds from it to grow next summer. It’s in an old chimney pot.
It was a damp day when I took the photo below, from the guest bedroom window.
The smirry rain (very fine like low cloud almost) gives a hazy effect but I hope you can see some of the autumn colour in the trees.
It has been remarkably windless recently which is strange for this area and will no doubt account for the days and days of rain that we’ve had, but I suspect that the leaves won’t be hanging on for much longer now.
One night a couple of weeks ago I got quite despondent about the approaching winter which will surely be a long and rather depressing one. So I decided to cheer myself up by spending some time reserving books from the library. Not that I need books from the library as I have so many unread books of my own (and Jack’s) there’s no danger of running out of reading matter, but I hate the thought that the libraries might close down completely again over winter. Some of the books have arrived and a couple of others will be along time in turning up as there are over 40 people in front of me waiting for them! At the moment my library books are:
A Book of Book Lists by Alex Johnson
An Impossible Marriage by Pamela Hansford Johnson
The Holiday Friend by Pamela Hansford Johnson
Murder by Matchlight by E.C.R. Lorac
Wild Harbour by Ian MacPherson
Gerald and Elizabeth by D.E. Stevenson
Baby Knits by Susie Johns
A few of these books have been published by The British Library. which I just typed into the search box in the library catalogue and lots of interesting publications that I didn’t know about appeared, but I reined myself in – for now.
It’s a long time since I posted a recipe on Pining, but one day last week Jack said that there was a tin of condensed milk in the cupboard which was coming up to its use by date, he likes to keep track of things like that. Anyway it was a perfect excuse to use it either to make some highly calorific Scottish Tablet or Millionaire’s Shortbread. As I had made and scoffed tablet the week before I opted for the even more calorific recipe. The recipe I use is Felicity Cloake’s from The Guardian, you can see it here.
I used a good quality milk chocolate for the topping. This recipe makes a really weighty amount, in fact I weighed the whole thing and it came out at over 3.5 lbs including the tin which isn’t that heavy. I think the whole thing must add up to about 3,000 calories! We don’t have much left now, it’s just far too moreish!
The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths is the 11th book in her Dr Ruth Galloway series. The setting is Norfolk, as usual. DCI Harry Nelson has been sent an anonymous letter and it looks similar to previous letters he has received, but the writer of those ones is dead.
Meanwhile Ruth is taking part in an archaeological dig on the Saltmarsh at a Stone Circle and she has found bones of a young girl. She suspects that the bones aren’t all that old, certainly not from the Bronze Age despite being found in a Bronze Age Cist.
Carbon 14 dating comes up with the possibility that the bones belong to a young girl who disappeared years ago locally. Nelson re-opens the cold case and the people involved in the original investigation are visited again, with tragic consequences.
To begin with I thought that this book was going to be very similar to many of her earlier books, in a lot of ways it was. Griffiths seems to have a bit of a penchant for children’s bones being discovered, but the personal relationships between the characters are at least 50% of the pleasure of this series so I ended up really enjoying just being in their company.
It’s always nice when a character says and does things that you agree with, and I warmed to Nelson when he was happy to see that Ruth had silver threads in her brown hair which is soft compared with his wife’s peroxided and hair-sprayed hairdo – I almost forgave him for cheating on his wife – almost!