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  2. This book wad recommended to me as something a bit different from the usual crime fiction. A best-selling novelist is murdered in his house the night before he emigrates with his wife to Canada. A friend is apprehended as the main suspect. We follow the diligent work of the senior detective in unravelling background and possible motives. For about 75% of the book's length I was intrigued but the monologues in the finsl sections started to bore me.
  3. Yesterday
  4. Have a Rant!

    I like Spring too but it has been fairly cool up until now, was a bit warmer yesterday and the rains came. Beneath the hedge there is a lot of water but the temp is going up a bit during the coming week which will be nice. The Spring bulbs are beginning to show, some hyacinth and crocus and the daffs are showing some green leaves. Will plant the mini rhodo once the weather clears.
  5. Have a Rant!

    We have not had our soil tested either but we do have glorious rhododendrons so we must have acid soil. It's still trial and error and at the moment the three of us are finding it hard to keep the grass cut. The daffodils and snow drops come up every year as do the grape hyacinths. Spring is my favourite time of year.
  6. Last week
  7. Have a Rant!

    We've never had the soil tested so it's a case of trial and error for us. Our subdivision was originally an apple orchard so whatever is good for apples should be ok for a lot of different plants. Never planted azaleas, but they are pretty.
  8. Have a Rant!

    Our soil is alkaline, so I don't bother with azaleas and such. People do grow them here, but the instructions are always to not let the roots touch the native soil. I can't be bothered. One of the things that is frustrating to those who want to plant them is that they grow really well JUST east of here. So it's the soil, not the weather.
  9. Have a Rant!

    Good luck with the plants, we have a couple of azaleas in pots which seem to come through Ok each year. Planted quite a few wildflower seeds today, don't usually have much luck with seeds so we'll see.
  10. Have a Rant!

    We now have two Rhodes but they are very small, more the size of a house plant. I spoke with one of the gardeners and she has had quite good success with her present one but lost a previous one. She has to wrap it in burlap for the winter because of the cold we get. May just leave it in the container for now as it really doesn't look like the rhododendrons I have seen back in the UK. It's by way of being an experiment to see if we can keep it alive. I have the Internet instructions for planting if we decide to move it. The lavender which I potted in vermiculite may or may not grow, the seeds were like ground pepper, very tiny, will be interesting to see if they germinate. I love the scent of lavender. The heather he brought home looks healthy, we don't have a problem with it. All we need now is to locate our watering cans which we think are in the shed.🙄
  11. Have a Rant!

    rhododendrond like acid soil, so you could be on a hiding to nothing if yours is alkaline - which it probably is if rhodos are generally difficult in your area. I doubt if they would thrive in pots, either, as they are big sprawling beasts in the wild. What about their daintier cousins, azaleas? They can be grown in pots of ericaceous compost. You'll need that for your heather, too.
  12. Have a Rant!

    Not a rant, more of a depressing complaint. Seems like each day I wake up and think, please God, no problems today please. Since Dave was in hospital I find myself on edge that no further episodes arrive and now that Sheila is back at work I'm nervous that the medicine is now capable of preventing more seizure activity. Each time the neurologist has to adjust the doseage I pray that this time it's sufficient to do the job. The only time I can escape the thinking is if my book takes me away. Thank the Lord for books. Also find a bit of homesickness creeps in and today when I saw a nursery ad for rhododendrons, which are really difficult to grow in our region I thought I'd give it another try, they grow so well in the UK, and just to really get in the spirit I'll get some purple heather. Amazing how yearning for how things used to be pops up in troubling times. And the terrible fire in Notre Dame added a lot of sadness, hopefully as work to rebuild starts the mood in Paris will pick up greatly, such a marvellous structure which to this point has stood the test of time.
  13. Currently Reading

    What Not, Rose Macauley
  14. The Corset

    More Victorian Gothic from Laura Purcell. This is a very clever story about a young girl and her life and about another slightly older girl (she's 24) and her life. The chapters alternate from one main character to another. The younger girl is a seamstress and has a very difficult life, the other is a lady of leisure and adopts her mother's religion and charitable works. The older woman meets the younger one while the younger one is in jail, at the age of sixteen, and the younger one tells her story. The older one finds it difficult to believe but also finds it fascinating so keeps visiting. The older one also incurs her father's displeasure by studying phrenology which was popular amongst the Victorians, I believe. Loved this story, it has more bite to it than The Silent Companions (one of Purcell's other books) and the twist at the end was not what I anticipated. The prose is good, the characters rounded and the story believable. There are descriptions of physical cruelty in this book that should be noted if the reader isn't keen on that but other than that I highly recommend this.
  15. Notre Dame

    And, in the main from different donors. Disaster appeals draw in many small donations from individuals, and many donations to the Notre Dame repairs will also come from individuals who have been touched by the sight of the burning cathedral. The large Notre Dame pledges are from businesses, corporations and large organisations - who will no doubt benefit from being listed among the 'sponsors' when the work is done. They are the ones with the warped prioities when it comes to largesse.
  16. Notre Dame

    ÂŁ18 million is still a lot! But there are several appeals each year for natural disasters and human nature being what it is, the extreme or unusual is what gets attention.
  17. Notre Dame

    I read somewhere that the organ had been saved, conflicting reports! Will be a massive project to put it mildly.
  18. The Hills of Dreams

    In Arthur Machen’s The Hill of Dreams, a young writer is haunted by the presence of a ruin near his rural home. Whenever he visits the ruin, it carries him off to ancient Rome. His visions are vibrant and sensual and all-encompassing. Years later, when he moves to London, the pressure to write something of literary merit and the isolation of being friendless in a metropolis takes their toll on him. He becomes drawn into a whirlpool of altered realities that threaten not only his sanity but his life. The Hill of Dreams is a marvelously atmospheric novel that has influenced writers from Lord Dunsany to Henry Miller.
  19. Notre Dame

    Half a billion euros pledged, and rising, according to tonight's news. That's five hundred million. ÂŁ18 million (not quite 21,000 euros) raised for the Idai cyclone appeal on the DEC website - compare and contrast.
  20. Notre Dame

    The catherdral in Rouen, a gothic masterpiece, was practucally destroyed during the Normandy invasions and the restoration work is incredible - if it weren't for the photos showing the extent of the damage you wouldn't believe it. I think the Fenice was more in the region of a complete reconstruction from the bottom up though, it wasn't the first time it had burnt down. It's got a timber frame so it's very vulnerable to fire.The Grande Theatre in Bordeaux is supposed to be the only timber framed theatre in Europe that has never burnt down. On a glass half full note, the damege to Notre Dame doesn't seem to be as absolutely devestating as they were saying last night - at least the windows are intact and the towers were saved though I beleive the organ has gone. My daughter and I were in Paris about five years ago stayng literally next door to Notre Dame and walked in just as the sung evening service was starting. It was so beautiful it made the hairs stand up non the back of your neck.
  21. Notre Dame

    Millions of euros/dollars pledged towards the costs involved. What a very sad sight it was.
  22. Notre Dame

    Yes it's awful, one of my favourite buildings. And the architecture is so stunning, unlike the monstrous Pompidou Centre, which is hideous. Hopefully it will be restored, they managed to restore la Fenice in Venice and York Minster after fires, so fingers crossed they can do it for Notre Dame.
  23. Notre Dame

    My condolences to our french members on the terrible fire at Notre Dame last night. My heart was in my mouth when I saw the spire topple and I was there 25 years ago for a very brief but very beautiful visit. The french people must be absolutely devastated.
  24. Currently Reading

    First time for me to read a Japanese crime writer - 'Malice' by Keigo Higashino. Engagingly different.
  25. The Smart

    Sounds terrific - just up my street.
  26. Thanks iff for the link, interesting how it is all set up.
  27. A Stranger City

    A Stranger City is an ambitious novel that seeks to draw parallels between recent history and Brexit Britain, using the stories of various members of northeast London’s diverse community to illustrate the situation. The frame on which the novel hangs is the discovery of an unidentified young female body in the River Thames. The discovery is investigated by a policeman and featured in a documentary by a filmmaker. We then broaden out and meet their families and some of the wider community. We find a community that is diverse even within the United Kingdom, including Scots, Irish and migrants from elsewhere in England. Then we find migrants from the Commonwealth and semi-recent conflict zones - Iran after the fall of the Shah. And then there are the more recent migrants from within the EU. All are seen to be integral to the London we see today. Contrast this with an England that seems to be retreating into itself, harking after the glory days of an Empire, capital punishment and boiled cabbage. Those who are smart enough, able enough, want to move away from this increasingly hostile and ignorant society. Which is ironic, since so many of them came to London precisely to enjoy a broader, global perspective and experience culture and sophistication. The story of the dead woman remains in the background. For a while it is (intentionally) confused by a parallel story of a missing social media star - a vacuous young woman who is famous only for being famous. And while the dead woman mystery is ultimately resolved, it is not satisfying. The main point is that it is possible for someone to go missing and not be missed, not be reported in this unfeeling society. Might it have been different if she had been English? A Stranger City is successful in depicting a multicultural society; it makes interesting political points showing the contradiction between the current insularity and the aspirations of individual members of that society. There is some wonderful depiction of characters. But it doesn’t quite hang together as a story. It is too difficult to hold so many characters in the mind all at once, so each time a character re-appears, he or she has to be re-learned. Their inter-relationships are too opaque and the narrative drive is just not there. Which is a pity, because the descriptive writing is fabulous. ***00
  28. Currently Reading

    The Corset, Laura Purcell
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