What with one thing and another (and another … ) I feel very behind with everything. I’ve not been at home much since July and the garden has gone wild. The only thing that is good in it really is the lawn and that is because Green Thumb have been coming along and feeding and applying weed killer, with the result that for the first time since we moved into the house we now have a lovely lush green lawn which is nearly weed free. Apparently some of the weeds are difficult to get rid of at once but will succomb after a few treatments and it is working!
I’m now so behind with writing about the books I’ve read and the places I’ve visited that I think I’ll just have to start afresh, although I do want to write about some of them. Just last week my husband and I went to Scotland to visit our son and his family who have moved to a house south of Edinburgh. I’m still sorting out the photos we took and will post some of them later. We visited Queensferry and saw the bridges over the Firth of Forth – most impressive. There is lots of information on the bridges in the Queensferry Museum, with much better photos than mine. The first crossing of the Firth of Forth was by ferry as early as the 12th century. If you click on the picture below you can just see the Road Bridge on the left – the Railway Bridge is on the right.
We also went to Linlithgow and walked round the Palace, where Mary Queen of Scots was born. It is so beautiful, overlooking the loch. We were surprised to see hoards of cyclists and then realised that they were on a sponsored ride between Glasgow and Edinburgh. So a real mixture of history mixed up with modern life.
Then we were off to visit the Kingdom of Fife and in particular Lower Largo, a small, picturesque seaside resort which was the birthplace in 1676 of Axander Selkirk, who inspired Daniel Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe. Amongst other places we also visited Edinburgh Zoo and Niddry Castle – more to follow on all of these later.
Travelling almost the length of England up to the Scottish Borders and beyond entails several stops along the way and inevitably these include motorway service stations. These are not always the most interesting places to stop and eat, although I was flabbergasted at the Charnock Richard service station when we sat by the window not very far above the north bound lanes of the M6 – it was the speed of the traffic that shocked me. What seems fast enough when you’re travelling is nothing compared to the sensation when you’re sitting completely still next to the speeding cars and lorries, not to mention the motorcyclists weaving in and out of the lanes. I’ve never been to a Grand Prix – that must be exhilarating.
But of course a stop at a service station, or anywhere really, is an opportunity to look at books and surprisingly most of the motorway book stalls stock a variety of books – well some are the same in each, but I restricted my buying to four books, which are
- The Outcast by Sadie Jones – I’d read about this in newbooks. It’s about life in an English village after World War II and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction this year.
- Roma by Steven Saylor – several bloggers have recommended this.
- The Breaker by Minette Walters – a crime novel. I see it has very mixed reviews on Amazon!
- Birthright by Nora Roberts – according to the author information inside the book she is “indisputably the most celebrated and beloved women’s writer today.” Sorry, but I’d never heard of her or read any of her more than 100 books. I thought I’d better remedy that and I liked the blurb on the back cover, which says that it’s set in the Blue Ridge Mountains at an archaelogical dig when five-thousand-year-old human bones are found.
These books will have to wait as I’m still reading The Gravedigger’s Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates, which as Danielle wondered is rather “unsettling”. More on that another time. I’m also reading Dear Dodie: a life of Dodie Smith by Valerie Groves, because I loved I Capture the Castle. I must update my sidebars too and check where I am with reading challenges – so many things to catch up with!
I went to the local library yesterday and although I didn’t intend to borrow any more came home with two books. My excuse is that one is a book I’d reserved so I had to bring it home – The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale. The other is The Clothes On Their Backs by Linda Grant, which is on the Booker Prize Shortlist – it was irresistible.