Norton Park Hotel work in progress

Last weekend we visited Norton Park, a QHotel, near Winchester. Although we knew building work was being done at the hotel we were surprised to find it was essentially a building site.

Our room was in this block, quite near the carpark, but a long way from reception and the restaurant. This block is the furthest away from the main part of the hotel, which is reached by walking round the rest of the unfinished areas.

And reception, the bar and restaurant could only be reached by going down these steps – not for the faint hearted or the disabled.
The good parts of our stay were that the room we had was good, even if the view was of yet more construction work; the food was good; the staff were friendly and welcoming – particularly Basia on reception; and the leisure facilities were also good – particularly the sauna.

The old original manor house is still there, but this is also some distance from the restaurant and reception.
If we go there again, I think we’d prefer to stay in this older part of the hotel and only go when it is all finished.
Winchester is about 10 minutes drive away and is well worth a visit. More in the next post.


What to read next? Three new books arrived this morning from Amazon – Body Surfing and On Chesil Beach to add to this pile of some of the books waiting to be read. Other books waiting to be read include numerous library books, which I have to keep renewing and may have to return unread. The third book is Rick Stein’s Guide to the food heroes of Britain, which I ordered thinking it was his Food Heroes recipes. Anyway it’s interesting, having info on local suppliers that were unknown to me.

I started Body Parts a while back and stopped when other books demanded to be read. The jacket blurb says it’s about exploring writers’ lives in connection with their works and includes essays on Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Bowen and one entitled “Reading in Bed, which I’m known to do. Shall I pick this up again, or read The Thirteenth Tale? I’ve read both good and bad reviews of this and resisted buying it for some while now, but when I saw it in the local coffee shop as a BookCrossing book I just had to take it home to see what all the fuss was about.

Shall I opt for The Poe Shadow, seeking to solve the mystery of Poe’s death. A while ago I read The American Boy by Andrew Taylor, which was about Poe as a boy at school in England and The Poe Shadow could be a good follow up and then of course I could continue by reading Poe’s own Tales of Mystery and Imagination?

Or maybe I’ll go for some non-fiction with A N Wilson’s After the Victorians: the world our parents knew, another tempting read – the blurb on the back says it “is utterly compelling – erudite, intelligent and wise. Essential reading.” It certainly won’t be a quick read with over 500 pages, plus notes and a massive bibliography.

Or it could be the new Anita Shreve, or Ian McEwan – both favourite authors of mine, or Tracy Chevalier or Sarah Dunn – both unknown to me.

Now I have more time to stand and stare and read

I’ve been meaning to write more, both in this blog and in other writing, but somehow there’s always something else to do. Well, now I have time during the day and I will write. But, before that, yesterday was another sunny day, though cool out of the sun – there was no wind and it was perfect for a short walk. So D and I went off down the lane to a footpath crossing the fields for a gentle stroll. The views were clear and we could see for miles. We only went a short walk as we’re both somewhat unfit and took it easy, which was good as we saw and heard so much more than if we were striding out.

One thing in particular was impressive – along by the lake at the back of the local hotel in a small group of trees two pairs of herons are building nests at the top of two tall trees, over looking the lake. We stood and watched as one heron flew back and forth with twigs for the other in the nest to put in place, with much conversation between the two.

This made me remember that I have a CD to identify birdsong, which I must listen to. Before that, a short visit to the BBC website on our return to listen to birds such as blackbird, robin, great tit and wren made me realise how ignorant I am about birdsong. At least I can now recognise the robin who visits our garden regularly without having to see him.

Back to books – I’m in a ‘what shall I read next’ phase, as each book I start seems to be wrong. I recently finished Hallucinating Foucault by Patricia Duncker, which I read through almost in one go. It’s about madness/sanity and the reader/writer relationship amongst other things and is really good, one of the better books I’ve read this year. I’d just finished Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard, which also concerns madness and last night I picked up Keeping Faith by Jodie Picault, which at the start seems also to be about madness – perhaps a bit too much of one theme at the moment – I’ll look for something else more cheerful. At present I’m reading Charles Kingsley’s Water-Babies; I think the version I read as a child was not this one – a ‘watered-down’ version maybe. Also ongoing are Persuasion by Jane Austen (a re-read, first read at school of A Level) and Gentlemen & Players by Joanne Harris, which has now taken preference over the others.

My First Post

This is my first attempt at writing this blog. I was inspired by reading other people’s blogs – in particular Sandra at Bookworld, Danielle at A World in Progress and many others.

Danielle yesterday was asking what to do when you are feeling ho hum about a book you are reading? Finish it anyway? Or do you bail? In particular Hilary Mantel’s Beyond Black. Well, I read this in May and felt much the same – it got quite dreary in parts! I did finish it because I wanted to know how it ended and whether it got better – it didn’t.

Generally, I don’t finish a book if I can’t get into it as I decided some years ago that I’m never going to read all the books I’d like to anyway so why carry on with one that’s boring, or badly written.