Three that have a link

I have had a sudden burst of reading and these are three of the books I have read.

This one certainly provided a bit of humour to the complexities of growing old. It was a light read and thoroughly enjoyable.

The second book was also linked to old age but with the added twist of involving members of an online bookclub.

I loved this book.

There were so many aspects of the story that reminded me of people I had known or still know.  I loved the fact that there were four books that had been selected by the readers to reveal something of themselves.  Of particular interest to me was the choice of Tirra Lirra by the River as I had it in my pile of “To Read” books as it was a winner of the Miles Franklin Award in 1978.  Mention was also made of the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox , I had written about her in a previous post in 2011.

Tirra Lirra by the river was a short novel, only 141 pages.  Set in Brisbane, Sydney and London over a period of seventy years it is the story of the escapes of Nora Porteous.

“The tightness of a small-town family life, a sanctimonious and mean-hearted husband, the torpor of suburbia – these she endures and finally escapes.  On her flight from cruel realities she is sustained by desperate courage, discerning intelligence and ebullient humour.”

There is a wonderful article by the author Anna Funder on the set texts for secondary students in Melbourne in the 1980s which I suggest you have a look at.

“. . . . Tirra Lirra was a set text for secondary school students in Melbourne, Australia, along with Christina Stead’s masterpiece The Man Who Loved Children and Carson McCullers’ sublime The Member of the Wedding. They are a trifecta of high art, terror and truth that are almost too powerful to give to teenagers, which is to say exactly what they crave and need (as opposed to “relevant” books about “issues” which are “resolved” in candy-floss epiphanies and “growth and change moments”).. . . . “

At the end of her article she acknowledges the influence this book had on her own novel All That I Am.

I highly recommend this novel.

Lews Castle in Stornoway . . . Tuesday Travels

Lews Castle, home for the Museum nan Eilean, is in Stornoway.

The museum is housed in the addition at the back of the castle.  We spent several hours here taking in all the information that was on display.  The highlight for me was the display of the Lewis Chessmen. Only six of the chessmen are in Lewis.  If you click on the images you can see them enlarged.

The story of the chessmen was part of the Lewis trilogy written by Peter May. I had not heard of the chessmen prior to reading the book.  The history of the chessmen is fascinating and you can read about it here.

If you fancy staying in the castle you can read all about it here.

Fixing broken links in the DNA post

I was checking the blog posts that had been viewed recently and part of that is looking at what links had been clicked.  I discovered that there were a couple of broken links on a post that I did a few years ago so I have fixed the links and here is the repaired post. This post was first published in May 2013

The ScotsI loved the cover of this book as the genetic code is set to resemble the Forth Railway Bridge, very clever.  My reason for including this book is the fact that I have been reading about a particular project taking place to trace the genetic code of Scottish folk.

One of the columns on my Tweetdeck is for Caithness, so I catch up on the latest from there.  Yesterday there was a tweet asking for people to participate in Project DNA for Caithness and Sutherland.  I clicked on the link as my dad came from Caithness.
Project DNATo participate in the project you need to visit Family Tree DNA : History unearthed daily.  Of course I should have realised that nothing comes without a cost.  To be tested for this project it has to be a male member with the family surname and the cost can vary from $49 to $339!  I don’t think I would be that keen to find out links from the past but no doubt there are those who are.

The Sutherland DNA Surname Research Project provides further information on the surname and some interesting links to other sites and at no cost!  There, that’s my Scottish traits coming to the fore again!

To put it all into perspective you need to read this article.guardian articleAn excerpt from the article:

Perhaps it is harmless fun to speculate beyond the facts, armed with exciting new DNA technologies? Not really. It costs unwitting customers of the genetic ancestry industry a substantial amount of hard-earned cash, and it disillusions them about science and scientists when they learn the truth, which is almost always disappointing relative to the story they were told.

Exaggerated claims from the consumer ancestry industry can also undermine the results of serious research about human genetic history, which is cautiously and slowly building up a clearer picture of the human past for all of us.

All the links are now working again.

The last of my March books

These are the remaining few books I finished in March.

This was a non-fiction book, my first non-fiction for a while.  I found it extremely interesting and the blurb from the book gives you a good idea of why I found it so interesting.

“I was born into a world that expected very little of women like me. We were meant to tread lightly on the earth, influencing events through our husbands and children, if at all. We were meant to fade into invisibility as we aged. I defied all of these expectations and so have millions of women like me.”

This is the compelling story of Anne Summers’ extraordinary life. Her story has her travelling around the world as she moves from job to job, in newspapers and magazines, advising prime ministers, leading feminist debates, writing memorable and influential books.

Anne shares revealing stories about the famous and powerful people she has worked with or reported on and is refreshingly frank about her own anxieties and mistakes.  Unfettered and Alive is a provocative and inspiring memoir from someone who broke through so many boundaries to show what women can do.

‘It’s the story of a lot of things – Australian politics, feminism, journalism, international intrigue – but most of all it’s the story of an utterly singular woman, who always says “Yes” to life even when it scares her. Her memory for the events, and her frankness about the fear, make this an extraordinary memoir.’ – Annabel Crabb

Anne is perhaps more well known in Australia than the UK or USA but the reading is still relevant no matter where you are.

The Great White Palace was lent to me by a former neighbour who thought I might be interested in the story as I had just returned from a visit to the UK.  She knew I had previously visited Devon and thought this book would suit me.

“This is the story of Tony and Beatrice Porter’s renovation of the near-derelict and long forgotten Art Deco hotel on Burgh Island, after giving up their successful careers as fashion consultants in London’s West End. Up to their necks in debt and with a massive program of repairs and maintenance ahead of them, they gradually labored to restore it to its former glory and into the beautiful, luxurious place it is today.”

This was a super quick read and thoroughly enjoyable. I was interested to see that the hotel was used in the Agatha Christie Poirot series on television.

I would even contemplate making a visit to the island on our next trip to the UK.

I absolutely loved Marcus Zusak’s book.  I could not give a review that would do it justice so I am going to provide a link to a review that I think says it all. It is an expansive, touching saga of an Australian family’s losses and loves.  Interestingly the first few reviews on Goodreads were scathing.  To each his own.

Bridge of Clay Review

Denzel Meyrick is a new Scottish author for me.  I sure am glad that I have found him. I have started with the third instalment in the DCI Daley series but I will have no worries about going back and finding one and two.

“When a senior Edinburgh civil servant spectacularly takes his own life in Kinloch harbour, DCI Jim Daley comes face to face with the murky world of politics. To add to his woes, two local drug dealers lie dead, ritually assassinated. It’s clear that dark forces are at work in the town. With his boss under investigation, his marriage hanging on by a thread, and his sidekick DS Scott wrestling with his own demons, Daley’s world is in meltdown.  When strange lights appear in the sky over Kinloch, it becomes clear that the townsfolk are not the only people at risk. The fate of nations is at stake. Jim Daley must face his worst fears as tragedy strikes. This is not just about a successful investigation, it’s about survival.”

Fast paced crime writing set in Scotland.

“A bus crashes in a savage snowstorm and lands Jack Reacher in the middle of a deadly confrontation. In nearby Bolton, South Dakota, one brave woman is standing up for justice in a small town threatened by sinister forces. If she’s going to live long enough to testify, she’ll need help. Because a killer is coming to Bolton, a coldly proficient assassin who never misses.

Reacher’s original plan was to keep on moving. But the next 61 hours will change everything. The secrets are deadlier and his enemies are stronger than he could have guessed—but so is the woman he’ll risk his life to save.

In his 14th book in the Reacher series Lee Child still gets you hooked.

Replacing the damage done.

I recently bought a few plants to replace some of those plants that were destroyed in the heatwave we had where the temperature was over 40 degrees.  The heat burnt the new growth on many of our plants but some plants were so badly scorched that they died and had to be replaced.

The plants are mainly natives.  You can probably pick out a protea, a waratah, a banksia and a correa.  Unfortunately we also lost our banksia coccinea but I have been unable to get a replacement for that.  I will just need to keep an eye out for one in the future.

We also had to replace some of the plants in our recently planted lilli pilli hedge.

These are the two new plants and the following photos are the plants that did survive with some new growth.

It will be interesting to see if any more new growth happens further up the plants.

On a positive note, the garlic I planted has taken off.

We did it.

The Metung Bike Chicks took part in the M.S. Melbourne Cycle on the weekend.  This is the second time the group have ridden the 50 km route, the first time was to raise money for The Smith Family, this time was to raise money for the fight against multiple sclerosis. We were delighted to finish this ride with a faster time than our previous attempt. The route was slightly different to the previous ride but still the same distance.

The team raised $1100 and our goal was $500 so we were happy with that result. Overall more than $600,000 was raised to fight M.S. which is a mammoth effort.

We were delighted to receive another medallion for out efforts.