May Favourites

Just a few things that I enjoyed in May.


I’m a sucker for a luxury scented product and these three fit the bill beautifully.


I read this on holiday.  It’s a gentle and thought provoking read, all the more interesting because it’s based on a true story.


I also enjoyed this book.  It’s a page turner and kept me guessing (and getting it wrong) right to the end.  Some of it makes for uncomfortable reading, so not for the squeamish.


This fallen horse chestnut blossom looks just like confetti left behind after a wedding.  So pretty, it had to be included in my favourites.


The hawthorn is out all along the cycle path from Hoole to Guilden Sutton.  We’ve enjoyed walking up there and stopping for tea and cake at the farm shop.


Cow parsley is popping up everywhere.  It reminds me of a line in a poem I heard somewhere ‘where the cow parsley skirts the hawthorn hedge’.  Very appropriate for this month.


Chives are popping up in the kitchen garden.


The ceonothus has been a glorious blue.


I visited the gardens at Bridgemere on a rainy bank holiday, but despite getting wet we had a good time and came home with a few plants.


I was inspired by this super organised veg plot at Bridgemere.


Finally, I was left in charge of a friend’s chickens for a few days so enlisted a little helper and his nana to round them up!  Not easy I can tell you!


Bridget Jones Mad About The Boy by Helen Fielding: Book Review

DSCF1854It’s not often that I discard a book halfway through but I’m afraid that’s what happened to this one.  Bridget Jones, the character, and I are about the same age (fifty something) and when I was in my thirties, reading the first book, I could really identify with her, especially as I too have kept a diary all my adult life which charted my weight ups and downs (8st 2 fat!!! I wrote in 1986).   This book however just doesn’t hit the mark and I’m not sure why.  It’s as if the character has become a laughing stock, not the sensitive human being that Bridget was in the beginning.  Anyway, perhaps it was the absence of Mr D’Arcy (Mark is dead) or the same references to ‘mummy pants’ all these years down the line when the joke has been well and truly flogged, but I just couldn’t persevere with it and back to the book swap it went.  Maybe things are just better enjoyed first time round.


Rhidian Brook: The Aftermath – Book Review

This is one of those very special books that has the ability not only to move me, but to stay with me after I’ve read it.  Set in post war Germany, an army colonel is  posted to Hamburg to work on the de-Nazification and rebuilding process in the city.

This is a period in history which I’ve read little about, so it was shocking to discover just how poor living conditions were in Germany during those years.

The relationships in this book are beautifully drawn and I couldn’t help but feel for all the characters and the strange predicament in which they found themselves in such uncertain times.  There is love, lust and loss within the pages of this book and not one character is left emotionally unscathed by the aftermath of the war.


It’s a fantastic read which I passed straight on to a friend who shares my taste in books.  If I was to compare it to another book I felt the same about, I’d say The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and On Green Dolphin Street by Sebastian Faulks.  If you liked these books, then get this one!

Wars Of The Roses: Stormbird Conn Iggulden


Not a summer goes by without a dip into another book about the Wars of the Roses.  This one is a little different to my usual read as it’s written by a man – cue less romance and a bit more blood, gore and technical detail about battle than I probably need to know.  However, what makes it interesting is that it charts the reign of Henry VI in detail, which is often overlooked, and to be honest it’s the first book I think I’ve read about Henry VI that doesn’t go on to cover the Edward IV and Richard III story.    I’ve never read any Conn Iggulden before and I’m interested now to read his Rome series – so more book shopping on the horizon.

My Dear Bessie by Chris Barker and Bessie Moore: Book Review


If you’re looking for a light hearted but absorbing beach read, then I recommend this book which I won via a Gransnet competition.

It’s a selection of real letters between two people written during the 1940s, both during and after WW2.  The couple, Chris and Bessie, start off as colleagues, but love blossoms through their letters and the whole romance is charted by increasingly loving and indeed sexual thoughts about one another.  What I loved was the way the mundane days of life in the army and at home are documented along with this constant yearning to be together.  It also gives an insight into what was expected of a wife post war!   I did raise an eyebrow at some of Chris’s comments on domestic arrangements, but then, it was another time and serves to show how things have changed.

A lovely read.

You’ve Always Got Your Head In A Book

That’s what people say to me when I’m on holiday.  No opportunity is allowed to slip through my fingers, from a wait at the airport, to the plane journey, to a sunbed, a lunch table, or a coach trip.  I am extremely unsociable!


I do read at home, but on holiday, away from distractions, I really do get so much more pleasure from it.  This picture shows me on P&O’s Ventura, waiting to disembark at Genoa, trying to squeeze in the last few minutes reading before we are called.  That’s pretty typical really.  Everyone else around me making conversation and me, well, I’m in my own little world.

I don’t have any electronic equipment for reading, not even a smart phone.  I own a laptop and that’s it, so I still have the pleasure of good old fashioned books and magazines (don’t get me started on mags, that’s a major compulsion – can’t walk past a display without picking one up).

So, what do I read?  Well pretty much anything except science fiction and horror (too wimpy now, although I read my fair share of Dennis Wheatley as a teenager). I enjoy chick lit (especially plucky girls moving to Cornwall and making a new life baking cakes etc.), serious stuff (Anthony Beevor for example), historical fiction (in particular Wars Of The Roses), contemporary fiction (love Kazuo Ishiguro) and, well anything in between.

If I spot a library or book swap in a hotel I’m there like a shot, seeing what I can cram in before I go home.

I don’t hang on to many books.  They make their way to the charity shop mostly.  The exception to this is books on food, travel and plants – my book shelves are stuffed with them.

What do you like?  Do you prefer a book or a kindle?

The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer: Book Review


I finished this book in record time as it was compulsive reading.  It’s about a missing child and is told from both mother and child’s perspective.

The mother’s story is sensitive and beautifully written, charting her struggle, as time passes with no sign of her daughter.

The child’s story is full of twists and turns, some of which I found hard to swallow as they were just too far fetched.

The conclusion left many questions unanswered and some of the themes that were introduced did not seem to be fully explored.

However, I still couldn’t put it down, so that rates it as a good read!



Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre: Book Review

DSCF1233 - Copy

I really enjoyed this kooky tale of a society lady’s search for beauty perfection in the 17th century. It tells of her being seduced and drawn in by the power of a potion called ‘Viper Wine’ with plenty of modern day comparisons to botox and fillers! The book strangely juxtaposes past and present by presenting one of its male characters as a time traveller. It references the odd 20th century super model and I must admit when I came across the reference to spam and wagon wheels I flicked back to see if I’d overlooked something! It’s also a social commentary on C17th life, and describes the impact that the changing face of religion had on the population. For me, the most interesting part was the reference to alchemy and the strange lotions and potions that were used at the time (some of which I suspect were not fictional). I also enjoyed the references to distance healing and the fact that matter cannot be destroyed. It has a touch of Deepak Chopra about it. A very interesting read!