What’s going on?

In my very small and rapidly shrinking world there isn’t a lot going on at the moment. In Scotland we have a lockdown again and we’re supposed to stay at home, unless we need to go out for food. At this time of the year that’s not too awful, especially as we have really cold weather at the moment and our walk for The Guardian every morning (as essential as food) is a treacherous one with any paths we use swathed in layers of ice. It’s safer to walk on the crunchy icy grass when possible. Otherwise we are seeing nobody and giving any oncoming fellow walkers a wide berth.

Normally by this time I’ve read a couple of books, but I’ve been reading The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt since before the new year and I still have thirty or so pages to go, that’ll be my bedtime reading tonight. This is the first book by A.S. Byatt that I’ve read and I must say that I love it, but it is over 600 pages long and the print is quite small. I have already flipped to the back of the book to see if there was a bibliography because I am so impressed by the amount of historical detail in it, but according to the author she was greatly helped by knowledgeable members of her family, friends and acquaintances and she read too many books to mention them all, but she does mention a few. This one was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2009, the year it was won by Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. How unfortunate for Byatt as surely in any other year The Children’s Book would have won it.

Anyway, more on that subject tomorrow. As it looks like we’ll be stuck at home possibly for months depending on what happens next to the stats, I think I’ll be catching up with my Goodreads challenge, apparently I’m one behind at the moment!
On a completely dfferent topic – I just have to tell you that today I spotted a red squirrel running around in the woodland this morning, that’s the second one we’ve seen within about ten days – and we hadn’t seen any for about three years before that. There are of course loads of grey squirrels which are nothng like as elegant and charming as the red ones. Of course, I didn’t manage to get a photo of it.

You can see some images of red squirrels here.

9 thoughts on “What’s going on?

  1. I love A.S. Byatt, too. I particularly like Possession and also The Matisse Stories (three short stories).

    I hope that you do well in the winter months, having heard Johnson on the BBC stipulating even more strict lockdown. I was born in Scotland, but live in California now. The benefit is that it’s warmer and I can get outside and hike, despite our lockdown. It keeps me sane.

    Thanks for this little bit of home. I haven’t seen a red squirrel in decades.

    • Aline,
      Thanks. I’ll put those books on my ever growing list of books to give a go.

      In Scotland we’ve had stricter rules to stick to than in most of England, but still Covid advances despite not being allowed to visit anyone in their home and only supermarkets are open now. I can’t cope with hot weather so California would be no good for me although better weather for walking in would be welcome here, we’ve had so much rain to contend with in 2020. Where in Scotland were you born?

  2. Santa Barbara, California never gets really hot so it is perfect for me weather-wise. California, and especially Los Angeles, is having a very hard time with Covid-19 right now, although that doesn’t seem to keep people from ignoring the stay at home rules. Santa Barbara is less affected, at least right now.

    I haven’t read anything by A. S. Byatt. I await your review. And those red squirrels are very cute.

    • tracybham,
      What is really hot? When it gets to above 70F here (rarely) it’s too hot for me! I hope that in your area Covid will remain low.
      The red squirrels are the natives but a Victorian thought it would be a good idea to introduce the US grey squirrels – never a good idea as they spread a disease which doesn’t bother them much but kills the red squirrels!

      • Good question, Katrina. Everyone has a different perception of heat and cold. In Santa Barbara, people complain when the temperatures are above 80 F. but in other parts of the state highs may be at 110 F. The temperatures in the winter rarely go below 35 F. However in the last few years there have been more extreme temperatures in both directions.

  3. I’m curious to hear what you think of The Children’s Book. I read two reviews of it a while ago–one very positive and one very negative. It sounds my type of thing though.

    • Jennifer,
      I think you will like it. I think I tried another book by Byatt years ago and gave up on it as it seemed like a group of notes and ideas for a book which hadn’t been expanded into an actual novel so I was pleasantly surprised by this one.

  4. I really like Byatt and have read several of her books (not Children’s Book though) so I can say they are all full of interesting detail. The woman knows how to research and use it to good effect! Things are going ok in Minnesota right now. Gyms, museums, theaters, and restaurants are going to be allowed to open again next week with severely limited capacity, something like 25%, but who knows how long that will last? Take care and stay safe!

    • Stefanie,
      She certainly does use her research to good effect, I’ll try more of her books. I have a feeling that we will be locked down with nowhere open for at least two months, at least by then the weather and light will be better so at least we can do stuff in the garden.

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