I was tagged by Sam for this Christmas meme.
What is your most enduring Christmas memory? I don’t think I could single out one particular moment, maybe remembering back to my childhood when Christmas was a magical time, later enjoying it through my son’s excitement and these days through my grandchildren’s eyes.
Do you have a favourite piece of Christmas music? Silent Night, but don’t ask me to sing it solo.
Do you stick to the old family traditions? Apart from giving present and celebrating with lots of food, no. My grandmother used to stand to attention during the Queen’s speech but no one else did, much to her disapproval.
What makes your mouth water at Christmas time!? I love all Christmas food.
How soon do you put the Christmas tree up and when do you take it down? It varies – we haven’t put one up yet. It has to be taken down and all Christmas decorations put away before Twelfth Night.
I would like to tag Nan, Kay, Cornflower and Geranium Cat for this meme.
Another month of good reading. I have already written posts about most of the books I finished reading in November. Clicking on the titles links to my posts.
Playing with the Moon by Eliza Graham – an excellent book, looking back over 60 years.
Lewis Carroll: a biography by Morton Cohen – long and detailed.
The Sidmouth Letters by Jane Gardam – good (better than I expected).
Remainder by Tom McCarthy – mixed feelings about this one, thought provoking.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell – a very enjoyable read, better than the TV series for me.
The Great Fortune
by Olivia Manning (the first in her Balkan trilogy) – set in Bucharest during the ‘phoney war’ period of the Second World War.
Posts to follow on these books that I’ve also finished:
Surveillance by Jonathan Raban – an interesting look at modern life.
The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson – a thought provoking book.
Currently I’m reading:
My Cleaner by Maggie Gee. I’ve nearly finished this about Vanessa, English, middle class and Mary, Ugandan who used to be Vanessa’s cleaner.
All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville-West. I’ve read the first chapters of this story of an aging British aristocrat. This is the book chosen by Karen for her new book group.
Winter In Madrid by C J Sansom. I’ve just started reading this. I chose it because I read with great enjoyment his three earlier books, Dissolution, Dark Fire and Sovereign, historical mysteries featuring Matthew Shardlake, a lwyer-cum-detective. I hadn’t realised this book was set in the 1940s when I decided to read it – yet another book from that period.
For a change this post is not about books.
I like to do cross-stitching, but one of its disadvantages is that I cannot read and stitch at the same time. Other difficulties are that I cannot do it in the summer as my hands get too hot and at other times of the year I find the light is not good enough so I have to use a daylight lamp, which I don’t find very easy. Anyway, now that I’ve just finished reading The Testament of Gideon Mack, which I’ll write about soon, I feel it’s time to get stitching again after many months of inactivity. I have quite a lot of different ones on the go, some I’ve been doing for years. One of them is a kit to stitch Little Moreton Hall. The photograph above shows the minimal amount I’ve done. It’s quite hard as it is such a fine canvas and small stitches – I’m no expert. The Hall, a National Trust property in Cheshire is a beautiful timber framed Tudor building as shown in the photographs below.
Little Moreton Hall
is one of the most impressive buildings I know, with its wonderful decorative timber framing and patterned glazed windows. It is marvellous to be able to visit such an historic building and many rooms are open for the public to look at and walk through. It looks top-heavy with its projecting upper storeys. The earliest part of the building dates from the 1440s and 1450s when the Great Hall and the East Wing were built. A third storey was added in 1560-70 during the reign of Elizabeth I, containing the Long Gallery, 68 feet long with a massive arched roof. Cross beams were inserted into the roof trusses in the late seventeenth century to stop the walls from coming apart. The walls are crooked and the floor is uneven, so you experience a truly precarious feeling walking along the gallery. When I visited it quite a few years ago the Long Gallery was not furnished, much as it would have been when it was first built, because the Elizabethans used the room for walking, daily exercise and games. It was very easy to imagine what it must have been like.
I bought the Guide Book, the Cross Stitch Kit and a small bay tree in a pot for the garden as souvenirs. I like to buy Cross Stitch Kits of National Trust houses and properties wherever I can find them. I now have a few including a view of St Michael’s Mount near Penzance in Cornwall, and an ornamental gate in the garden of Townend, a 17th century solid stone and slate farmhouse near Windermere in Cumbria.
I also like to buy bookmarks to stitch. They are much quicker to finish and have a practical use. I’ve decided to start the bookmark shown on the left in the photograph below even though I have several other kits I’ve started and not finished.
Do you get on a roll when you read, so that one book leads to the next, which leads to the next, and so on and so on?
I don’™t so much mean something like reading a series from beginning to end, but, say, a string of books that all take place in Paris. Or that have anthropologists as the main character. Or were written in the same year. Something like that’¦ Something that strings them together in your head, and yet, otherwise could be different genres, different authors’¦
I suppose my immediate answer to this is yes, very often. I do like to read another book by an author when I’ve enjoyed one – but that’s not the question. Books in the same genre are also easy to think of – I took part in the R.I.P. Challenge, so that was all books with themes of mystery and imagination – I like those, not gory or horrific but books that keep you guessing and make you ponder. I like to vary my reading as well, so I do try to pick different types of books and different authors, ones I’ve never read before as well as old favourites.
But to answer the question, recently I find that some books I’ve read have a 1940s theme. I’m thinking of One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes, set in England in 1946 just after the Second World War, Playing with the Moon by Eliza Graham lokking back after 60 years to the 1940s and The Great Fortune by Olivia Manning, set in Bucharest in 1939/1940 at the outbreak of the War. Even Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner fits in with that time and Surveillance by Jonathan Raban looks back to the 1940s as Augie writes about his wartime experiences as a refugee from Germany.
When I decided to read these books I had no idea that they were all linked like this.