We’ve had quite a bit of rain lately, but some days I’ve managed to get out for a walk in between the showers.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Monday, September 18, 2017
In July, it seems (from my list) that I either didn’t read much, or it went into one ear and out of the other…
I did enjoy listening to this 1970s classic as Audible audio book, though:
- Written by: Richard Adams (1972)
- Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
- Length: 15 hrs and 51 mins
Fiver could sense danger. Something terrible was going to happen to the warren; he felt sure of it. They had to leave immediately. So begins a long and perilous journey of survival for a small band of rabbits. As the rabbits skirt danger at every turn, we become acquainted with the band, its humorous characters, and its compelling culture, complete with its own folk history and mythos. Fiver's vision finally leads them to Watership Down, an upland meadow. But here they face their most difficult challenges of all.
A stirring epic of courage and survival against the odds, Watership Down has become a beloved classic for all ages. Both an exciting adventure story and an involving allegory about freedom, ethics, and human nature, it has delighted generations with its unique and charming world, winning many awards and being adapted to film, television, and theater.
My old paperback copy of the book is from 1978 and gives the impression that I must have read it more than once; but I’m pretty sure the last time was still decades ago. I know I liked it back then, though; and I still liked it now. I also probably see even more dimensions to the story now, related to all the recent destruction and migration going on in the world. Whom can we trust? Whose advice and instincts should we listen to? And if disaster strikes, is there anywhere one can go to live in peace and feel safe??
- - -
Having recently enjoyed Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and also Gaiman’s version of the Norse Mythology, I thought I’d also give Gaiman’s Neverwhere a try. Alas, this proved to be another one of those that I just couldn’t seem to get into, felt I didn’t really like, and didn’t care to finish. May just have been that I wasn’t in the right mood for it, I don’t know! Anyway I decided to once more make use of one of the bonuses of being an Audible member, i.e. return it and just get another book instead:
Princes of Ireland: The Dublin Saga
- Written by: Edward Rutherfurd
- Narrated by: Richard Matthews
- Length: 25 hrs and 53 mins
The saga begins in tribal, pre-Christian Ireland during the reign of the fierce and mighty High Kings at Tara, with the tale of two lovers, the princely Conall and the ravishing Deirdre, whose travails cleverly echo the ancient Celtic legend of Cuchulainn. From that stirring beginning, Rutherfurd takes the reader on a powerfully imagined journey through the centuries. Through the interlocking stories of a memorable cast of characters (druids and chieftains, monks and smugglers, noblewomen and farmwives, merchants and mercenaries, rebels and cowards) we see Ireland through the lens of its greatest city.
While vividly and movingly conveying the passions and struggles that shaped the character of Dublin, Rutherfurd portrays the major events in Irish history: The tribal culture of pagan Ireland; the mission of St. Patrick; the coming of the Vikings and the founding of Dublin; the glories of the great nearby monastery of Glendalough and the making of treasures like the Book of Kells; the extraordinary career of Brian Boru; and the trickery of Henry II, which gave England its first foothold in Medieval Ireland. The stage is then set for the great conflict between the English kings and the princes of Ireland, and the disastrous Irish invasion of England, which incurred the wrath of Henry VIII and where this book, the first of the two part Dublin Saga, draws to a close, as the path of Irish history takes a dramatic and irrevocable turn.
I have had the printed book (770 pages) in my book-case since 10+ years, but only read half of it – or so at least my memory told me. Now I’ve listened to all of it (even if I have to confess that I probably slumbered through some parts). But somehow, it still seemed to sort of end “in the middle”… Which made me wonder if maybe I did read it to the end the first time too, and just always felt like I hadn’t!
So… I just checked - and found that there is indeed a Part 2: The Rebels of Ireland… And as I had an unused Audible credit for September, I have just downloaded it. Another 30 hours! But there’s a long winter season ahead…
- - -
Grace Space: A Direct Sales Tale
by Robin Merrill [read on Kindle]
Also in July, I happened to came across this title free for Kindle. Feeling in the mood for something light and contemporary just then, I decided to give it a go.
It’s about a young woman in her early twenties (Darcy), struggling with her student loan payments. So, when she hears that the Grace Space Independent Consultants make good money (selling cosmetic products), she decides to join them... Being young and naive, she really has no idea what she’s getting into. I have to say, the book puzzled me, in that it had me wondering how much was to be taken as irony, naïvity versus “based on a true story”. The cosmetics company that Darcy gets involved with comes across as a mix of a commercial direct sales business and a religious sect. Unfortunately, I suspect it may come closer to the truth of some similar companies than one would prefer to think. Which kind of makes one hesitate between laughing and feeling scared!
Looking up the author on Amazon and seeing some of her other titles is no real help. (Like, a book entitled The Jesus Diet seems to be meant to be taken seriously…)
All in all, I guess Grace Space was worth the free read - but I’m not very likely to spend money on another title.
Sunday, September 17, 2017
Postcrossing card from Taiwan, February 2017
A type-written love letter… Not very romantic, I might have thought, a few decades back... Nowadays, perhaps a letter written on an old-fashioned typewriter would seem very romantic indeed?? – indicating the sender having gone through some trouble to find a functioning old-fashioned manual type-writer, and then having written the letter without access to any “delete” button for mistakes and regrets…
Postcrossing card from Russia, August 2017
I have recently taken up a new Duolingo challenge: Learning a little bit of Russian. Have to admit that to my ears, the spoken language still sounds like a tape played backwards (do younger generations even know any more what a “tape” is?) - and the strange [sorry – different!] alphabet doesn’t help… But I must be making some little progress, because at least I managed to “translate” the name of the artist who painted this picture into the “Latin” alphabet, and then also found more illustrations by her on the internet (even if no text info in English). Her name is Galina Egorenkova (Галина Егоренкова).
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Square, beach walk, park, tourist office… Everything seemed to be just a short walk away in Hjo.
The sign on the little wooden cottage says ”soap factory”. Checking things up on the internet now, I see that in spite of the “olde” look, this seems to be a contemporary local business (in an old building) – producing and selling their own ecological soap, and related products.
Hjo Church (see separate post from last Sunday)
Randomly wandering the streets on our way back to the hotel, we happened to also come across an enclosed “mystery” estate. We never quite got a grip of whether it was public or private. Either way – a charming environment for whoever it may be who is so lucky as to live there.
Saying goodbye to Hjo, and driving on south…
We made five more stops on that last day of our trip, on our way back home. Each of those stops involved a church; and each one interesting in its own right. (I’m pretty sure I’ve never visited so many churches on one and the same Sunday before!) … I’m thinking of saving those for “Inspired Sundays” to come (one church per weekend); and get back to posting some other things in between.
This weekend, I’m linking to:
Thursday, September 14, 2017
A walk around Hjo Harbour - Sunday morning, July 30.
Hjo was an important harbour at Lake Vättern already back in medeival times. People as well as various merchandise were transported from here by boat across the lake, to the city of Vadstena. (See my posts from there back in August.) In population, the city never grew very big; but with the construction of the Göta Kanal in the 1800s, it once again had a commercial upswing.
The steamship S/S Trafik (trafik=“traffic”) is one of the oldest steamships in Sweden. It made its first tour on Lake Vättern in 1892. It had a crew of six persons and room for 250 passengers. Nowadays, it’s still used in the summer for tourist traffic.
Sik [Coregonus] is one of the various kinds of fish that can be fished in Lake Vättern.