Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Round Up

Although I was away for a lot of August, partly with my family and partly on my own, there was still cooking in the house. I can't show photos of most of it, as they didn't take photos, but I can make a note of what they cooked and ate!


  • 31st: Thai mince with rice (Geoff cooking, K away)
  • 30th: Penne with Pancetta, Rocket, etc (Sarah cooking, K away)
  • 29th: Takeaway Pizza (K away)
  • 28th: Filled pasta bake (Alex cooking, K away)
  • 27th: Meatballs, chips (K away)
  • 26th: Sticky Lemon Chicken, Broccoli, Carrots (Sarah cooking, K away)
  • 25th: Greek Chicken Salad (Sarah cooking, K away)
  • 24th: Chickpea, Spinach & Potato Curry (Geoff cooking, K away)
  • 23rd: Soba noodle salad (Olivia cooking, K away)
  • 22nd: Cold chicken, fried potatoes, salad (K away)
  • 21st: Roast Chicken (Geoff cooking, K away)
  • 20th: K away
  • 19th: Thai Red Pork Curry (K away)
  • 18th: K away
  • 17th: Homemade Pizza
  • 16th: Stir Fried Veg & Rice
  • 15th: Everyone find your own (K&A out)
  • 14th: Bratwurst, Rosti, carrots
  • 13th: Everyone find your own
  • 12th: Sausages, etc (Norfolk Holiday)
  • 11th: Fish, Vegetables, Bread (Norfolk Holiday)
  • 10th: Dinner out, The Duck (Norfolk Holiday)
  • 9th: Fish & Chips Again (Norfolk Holiday)
  • 8th: Fish & Chips (Norfolk Holiday)
  • 7th: Food Festival (Norfolk Holiday)
  • 6th: Dinner out (Norfolk Holiday)
  • 5th: Baked Potatoes & Toppings
  • 4th: Lamb steaks, leftover veg, flatbreads
  • 3rd: out to lunch, Oxford
  • 2nd: Chili Citrus Chicken (S cooking, K away)
  • 1st: Spag bol (G cooking, K away)

Book Plan Update - August 2016

Continuing in 2016 to make inroads on the books I own (un-read) and not buy too many new ones. Progress to date:
  1. January: books removed from list: 7,  books added: 2; net result -5
  2. February: books removed from list: 4, books added: 0; net result -4 (total YTD: -9)
  3. March: books removed from list: 8, books added:8; net result 0 (total YTD: -9)
  4. April: books removed from list: 6, books added: 0; net result -6 (total YTD: -15)
  5. May: books removed from list: 6, books added: 4; net result -2 (total YTD: -17)
  6. June: books removed from list: 3, books added: 0; net result -3 (total YTD: -20)
  7. July: books removed from list: 4; books added: 8; net result +4 (total YTD: -16)
In August:
  • I read two books from my list (A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn)
  • I read one book which we owned already, which wasn't on my list (Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman)
  • I read one library book (which Sarah actually ordered) (Scarlett by Marissa Meyer)
  • I re-read two books we already own (Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman)
  • I read two books (possibly re-read) which my mother had at her house (Killashandra and Crystal Line by Anne McCaffrey)
August's tally is therefore...
books read: 8
books removed from list:  2 books added: 0 ; net result -2
[Goal (no more than 1 book added to the list for every two books removed)  achieved/exceeded this month.]

Here's the updated list of Books to Read in 2016.  There were 55 books at the beginning of January, and now there are 37 - of those, only 4 are left from before 2015. [Books with an asterisk]. 
  1. Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone (AbeBooks, March 2016)
  2. Susan Barker, The Incantations (charity shop, July 2016)
  3. Philip Baruth, The Brothers Boswell (Waterstones Canterbury bargain bin, July 2015)
  4. Rachel Caine, Ink and Bone (Waterstones Piccadilly, July 2016)
  5. Orson Scott Card, Speaker for the Dead (AbeBooks, October 2015)
  6. Wilkie Collins, The Haunted Hotel (birthday present, November 2015)
  7. Wilkie Collins, The Woman in White (Waterstones Kingston, Boxing Day 2015)
  8. Arthur Conan Doyle, Adventure of Sherlock Holmes (World of Books, October 2015)
  9. Jean-Paul Didierlaurente, The Reader on the 6.27 (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  10. Anthony Doerr, About Grace (Waterstones Piccadilly, July 2016)
  11. Carol Ann Duffy, Faery Tales (charity shop, July 2016)
  12. Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  13. Ford Maddox Ford, Parade's End (Nov 2012 - birthday present - bought after the BBC adaptation - but I knew I wouldn't read it straight away as I wanted to let time pass from the adaptation.  Enough time has probably passed now...) *
  14. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (would be a re-read, bought shortly after his death - spring 2014 - as I was reminded how much I enjoyed it and I didn't seem to own a copy - think my old one fell apart, probably...) *
  15. Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South (2014)*
  16. Kate Grenville, The Lieutenant (charity shop, December 2015)
  17. Frances Hardinge, A Face Like Glass (Mother's Day present, March 2016)
  18. Melissa Harrison, At Hawthorn Time (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  19. Antonia Hodgkin, The Devil in the Marshalsea (charity shop, May 2016)
  20. Andrew Michael Hurley, The Loney (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  21. Jennifer Johnston, Two Moons (charity table at Sainsbury's, July 2016)
  22. Maria McCain, The Wilding (charity shop, December 2015)
  23. Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (charity table, Wetland Centre, May 2015)
  24. Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men (charity shop, December 2015)
  25. John McGregor, This Isn't the Sort of Thing That Happens to Someone Like You (Waterstones Piccadilly, July 2016)
  26. Darragh McKeon, All That is Solid Melts into Air (Waterstones Kingston, May 2016)
  27. Philipp Meyer, American Rust (charity shop, December 2015)
  28. Alice Munro, Runaway (Waterstones Piccadilly, March 2016)
  29. Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories (charity shop, December 2015)
  30. Elizabeth Redfern, The Music of the Spheres  (charity shop, December 2015)
  31. Ransom Riggs, Hollow City (Waterstones Piccadilly, July 2016)
  32. Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram (Abe Books, July 2016)
  33. Sunjeev Sahota, The Year of the Runaways  (Mother's Day present, March 2016)
  34. Jane Smiley, Some Luck (Waterstones Reading, October 2015)
  35. Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Barnes & Noble (in MD), Summer 2013 - a re-read, as I read it when a teen) *
  36. Emily St John Mandel, Station Eleven (Waterstones Kingston, May 2016)
  37. Rose Tremain, Tresspass (charity shop, December 2015)


Top of the slide

Ready to go

On the way

And back up again. The wrong way, of course.  

Instructions for 3YOs: repeat until accompanying adult just can't bear it anymore. Especially when it's 35 degrees out. Centigrade.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A day in Phoenix

While my sister in law had some things to do today, my brother and I (and my niece, who is 3) went into downtown Phoenix to have a look at the Children's Museum - here are some mountains, such as you see all around the outskirts of Phoenix. 

We went past this historic house (though not in it, as it wasn't open on Tuesdays)

and found this amazing climbing structure inside the Phoenix children's museum. We did eventually get Elise off the structure, but it took a while, and a bit of backache on the part of the grownups. 

She decided instead to spend some time in the tricycle carwash. 

She "drove" through the carwash a number of times. Like about 50. Luckily, all we had to do was watch, for this activity.

I wanted to go inside this room, but unfortunately, it was shut. I think there was another sign which read "Alligators flossing teeth" or something similar.

Here she is, watching the ball go around the enormous ball course; she's just sent it along the track. 

And afterwards, we went to lunch at the Barrio Cafe, home of some seriously excellent Mexican food. They like to cover their back walls with local artwork. (And inside, too - not graffiti so much, but local artwork.)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Book 76: Crystal Line by Anne McCaffrey

Just to finish off this series, I took this on the airplane with me to Phoenix. Don't think I've ever read the third one before, and it was a decent read, though as I mentioned before, I think I'm more a fan of more modern fantasy/SF than the older stuff. Even the good older stuff.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Book 75: Killashandra by Anne McCaffrey

Funny enough, this was in a stack of books that my mother was sending to the charity shop; having just re-read the previous one in this series, I decided I'd have a go at this. I think I read it many years ago (the book actually had my name on the flyleaf, not hers), but I didn't remember much of it at all. It was entertaining, but I think I've come to the conclusion that I like a lot of the more modern fantasy being written today better than a lot of the older stuff.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Book 74: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Chose this one to take with me on the airplane as it was well received and looked like something to hold my attention. I have to say that, while the writing was good, I really hated this book. I thought the characters were dreadful and unsympathetic, and without spoiling the end for those who might read it, well, I just didn't get many of their motivations. Not a winner for me, I'm afraid.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Book 73: Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

This was the sequel to Seraphina, which I re-read a little while ago. I thought it excellent. The writing was super, the idea unique and interesting and the characters creative and well-developed. In all, an excellent pair of fantasy novels.  Will look forward to seeing what Hartman does next!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Book 72: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson


Been waiting a while to read this, having really loved the related book, Life After Life. This one was also excellent, though not quite as good, I thought, as Life After Life. I enjoyed the way it was constructed, with small bits of Teddy's history (and his family's history) filling in over time; the end was unexpected and a bit heart-breaking, but more I shall not say!

Dinner, 17/8/16: Homemade Pizzas!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dinner, 16/8/16: Stir Fried Veg and Rice

Something simple and healthy after lots of eating out on holiday...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Book 71: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (re-read)

In preparation to reading the sequel, which I've had for a while and hadn't yet got to (even though Geoff keeps assuring me of its excellence), I decided to re-read this and remind myself of the story; I'm glad I did as I had forgotten much of the politics, which will be very important in the second book. This is really excellent writing and a good story - looking forward to seeing what the next one brings.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Dinner, 14/8/16: Bratwurst, Rosti, carrots

Still in post-holiday mode, I wanted something easy and fuss-free to cook, so it was German sausages along with some bits and pieces. August is definitely my month of not-cooking-much, between being away and being in holiday mode. I like cooking, but I also like not cooking sometimes...

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Book 70: Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey

After a lot of recent re-reading of the Pern books, I also thought I'd revisit this one. Which was enjoyable. I like Anne McCaffrey, but her books are much more a product of her time than a lot of recent fantasy; they do seem ever so slightly old fashioned in some ways. Don't get me wrong, they still hold up damn well, but it's a different feel to a lot of the modern fantasy. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Dinner, 12/8/16: Summery supper

Last day on holiday, so we're using up (not that we had a lot) - a pot of soup we didn't eat for lunch one day, the carrots and hummous, supplemented by some nice bread, sausages from the local butcher and a cucumber salad. A nice summery supper.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dinner, 11/8/16: Brill, courgettes, bread

On holiday, so not cooking much. Eating still, but often letting someone else do the cooking. However, we decided tonight to get some fish from the local fishmonger in Burnham Market, and ended up with brill, along with some courgettes. We had lots of bread in the cottage which needed using, so we had that with the fish, instead of potatoes. The girls, who don't like fish all that much, cooked pasta with pesto.

Rainy days bring...stately homes?

Today being somewhat of a grey, wet day, we headed off to do something interesting indoors. In this instance, we found a relatively nearby National Trust property to visit - NT properties being free admission to members (or rather, not so much free as included in the price of your yearly membership, but you know what I mean).  We chose Felbrigg Hall, which was pretty close to where we are staying, and which sounded interesting. And it was! Here is the dining room, set for a dinner in the 1850s (I think). 

A room which was added to make space for all the pictures one of the owners returned from his Grand Tour with.

Sarah ascending the main stairs.

This is handpainted Chinese wallpaper from the 18th century. Very cool. 

This is some lino in the one bathroom, featuring nursery rhymes. Also very cool. 

Dozens of copper pots in the kitchen.

A fire engine in the house, useful for putting out fires when you are a slightly eccentric estate owner who likes to make your own fireworks.

We even had a chance to see the walled garden, which is well known and very large and beautiful, as it did stop raining later in the afternoon.

(This is a chicken coop.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Seal watching at Blakeney Point


Decided to take a trip today out to Blakeney Point to check out the local seal colonies - apparently there are quite a few local seals; at low tide there are upwards of 6- or 700 to be seen.  Of course, our trip was at high tide, which is the only time boats can get close enough to where the seals like to be to make the trip worthwhile.  Here we are heading out towards the mouth of the harbour (not my kiddies in the picture, of course!)  We went with Bean's Boats, who were great - the two guys doing the commentary and piloting the boat were really friendly and knowledgeable.

And there were loads of seals to be seen - both common, which is mostly what you see here, including a pup in the photo below, apparently about a week old, and grey seals. 

These are the greys - they were mostly congregated in a slightly different area than the common seals, though they weren't by any means completely segregated.  The grey seals have their young in the winter, so all the pups we saw - four or five - were common seals. 

Here you can see another of the boats getting quite close to the colony - there were loads of boats out there looking - it's obviously a prime thing to do when you are on tour in the area.