Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Books I read in February

Jim bought me a t-shirt:

I read books like other people watch telly - as my main mindless leisure activity. I read with my breakfast, and with my tea; I read for hours on the sofa most evenings, and mornings and afternoons too if it's cold out. I read on trains (one of the factors that edges rail travel ahead of driving) and while waiting for trains; I read in the bath, and occasionally, in the small hours if I can't sleep, in bed.

I get nervous if I don't have at least a couple of unread books to hand; I feel lost without them. I read books from the library and from charity shops; from Amazon and from WHSmiths at various stations, when caught short; from Abe Books or ebay when I'm looking for something special. I will pick up a book after tea and be 150 pages in by bedtime; I will read two or even three books over a particularly wet weekend. The one time I don't read much is on holiday, because that's when I'm at my most active and most social and actually have least time to fill.

So, these are the books I read in February. I will add a new note to say what the source of each one was.

Paul Finch Strangers (local library)
Competent, credulity-stretching police 'thriller'.

Sharon Bolton Little Black Lies (local library)
Better than average, emotionally laden thriller in the unusual setting of the Falklands.

Lucie Whitehouse Keep You Close (local library)
Another emotionally involving twisty psychological thriller, nicely written.

Lin Anderson The Special Dead (local library)
Police mystery full of clunky exposition rather in the manner of Peter James. Whose tendency to write non-sentences like this is also emulated. A lot.

Laurie Graham The Night in Question (local library)
A lovely book, really enjoyable, engaging, funny and sad story set among music hall artistes at the time of Jack the Ripper, with some beautiful characters and settings.

Matthew Engel Engel's England (Jim's local library)
A county by county journey through the historic counties of England. Generally excellent, with lots of interesting facts and plenty of laugh out loud bits. Some of the chapters felt as if they'd been wrapped up a bit abruptly. Still, if they hadn't been, it might have turned into a very long book indeed.

Elly Griffiths The Woman in Blue (local library)
I like Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series - these are meaty mysteries, with engaging - even loveable - characters. This latest paperback didn't disappoint.

Andrew Michael Hurley The Loney (local library)
Billed as a creepy thriller/horror story, I found this to be an absorbing study of childhood and religion - with an air of approaching menace. I was really enjoying it, until the denuement, which I didn't understand, although I suspect there was an element of the supernatural, which rather spoiled the whole thing.

Eva Dolan After You Die (local library)
Better than average police procedural/detective mystery. Actually does keep you guessing, whilst giving the reader a fair chance at working it out.

Elly Griffiths Smoke and Mirrors (local library)
The second in a new series for Griffiths, set post-war and featuring a detective/illusionist partnership. Reminded me of Bryant and May, although not in their league - but enjoyable nonetheless.

Books I didn't read in February

Anna McPartlin Somewhere Inside of Happy (local library)
Sickmakingly saccharine Oirish family saga; I couldn't get past page 20. I should have known from the title.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Flying visit

Following last week's winds, I thought it might be a good idea to pop down to Alvecote to check on Chertsey's cloths. Jim was in Sheffield for the weekend so we nipped down on Sunday. All was well - the cloths had rucked up a bit but none had come off. Jim loosened a few strings, straightened the cloths up, and tied them tight again. With the translucent cloth running the length of the boat undet the black ones, and firmly tied down with elastic, this was more about protecting the cloths than worrying about water getting in.

Anyway, with that done we repaired for Sunday lunch at the Barlow before heading back to Sheffield. What with a nice towpath walk for Ricky as well, it made for a pleasant day out.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Braunston booked

We may not be going very far afield this year, or for very long, but I'm not missing Braunston. The booking form is filled in and ready to be posted tomorrow. I've been at the Braunston show every year since 2006 - and have taken Chertsey 2010-2015 inclusive.

I wasn't able to get the boat there last year - and indeed, it's going to be tough this year but at least we're nearer now - because it's very inconveniently timed to coincide with the busiest time of the year for an Exams Officer, which is one of the many hats I have at work. Summer exams take place between May 22nd and June 10th, then everything has to be marked and double marked, and all the marks collated, and extenuating circumstances considered, and an exam board organised and held, and all the finalised marks uploaded to 'the system' by the first week of July.

So I shall be very glad of a break, no matter how brief.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Not going out

Well, I had planned my grand day out to Saltaire for tomorrow, but even if the snow stops, the weather is forecast to be cold and windy - not the beat weather for the outdoor activities I had planned. So I have decided to defer the trip for a month... Why a month? Because there's one other activity that won't be available again for that long. Fingers crossed for better weather in March.

Also I am having rather a busy weekend, and Jim is here in Sheffield helping me with it. Hopefully I should have some exciting news soon...

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The secret of happiness

I would love to give credit where it's due, but I'm afraid I can't actually remember where I read this. Sorry, dear reader, and even more sorry to the author.

Everyone wants to know how to be happy, and there is no shortage of books and websites promising you the secret, from meditation, relaxation, sleep, diet, religion, friendship, exercise, volunteering, finding your life's purpose and any number of other quite difficult and time consuming commitments.

So this piece of advice stood out: of all the things you already do, work out which makes you happiest, and do more of it.

It didn't take me long to realise that I am happiest when I'm boating. I already put the advice into practice a bit last year, boating on into December - and now I'm itching to start 2017's; already envious of the Herbies and the others who are already out on the water.