“I’m going to buy buns for tea,” said Peter. “I thought you were all so poor,” said the Station Master. “So we are,” said Peter, confidentially, “but we always have three pennyworth of halfpennies for tea whenever Mother sells a story or a poem or anything.”
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit
Last weekend we took our first road trip of the year – to visit my family in Kingston-upon-Hull (our 13-year-old-niece informed us that only a ‘southerner’ would call Hull, Kingston-upon-Hull – locals call it ‘ull.)
It was wonderful to see our nieces who have all grown up and changed considerably since we saw them last at Christmas. Even the littlest one has progressed from terror to just tenacious. And I’m pleased to report that my little northern family has flourished over the COVID lockdown. For all sorts of reasons it’s been good for them as a family and of course it’s been a long hot summer for the girls, and conducive to good veggie-growing on their allotment.
“Fish,” he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.”
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
One of the enduring memories of my childhood is lying on the back seat of our family car, in the still cool dark hours of pre-dawn, still in my pyjamas, toe to head with my brother, and wrapped in a blanket, listening to my parents quietly chatting to one another, as I dosed and they drove.
It’s a peaceful memory, filled with potential and promise. Early morning. Pad kos. The open road.
Note: I don’t do early mornings. I love my sleep. To this day, I’m only really prepared to get up early for a road trip. .. and the promise of tea.
“If Red breaks that leg again,” Howard said soberly, “it will cripple him for life.” Alexander told him that maybe it was better to break a man’s leg than his heart.”
Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
I increase my pace. In my head the blood in my veins pumps audibly. My chest burns. I love the sense of freedom that running (or rather a good run) can offer. I watch The Adjustment Bureau on the small screen. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt dash across a busy New York street. On the treadmill to my right, a man in his 60’s slaps his stomach intermittently as he runs. Is he trying to spur himself on? Is he literally smacking away the tummy fat? Does he like the sound of it? I try not to pay too much attention to him. He’s also pushing his body.
I think how grateful I am for a healthy, relatively fit body.
I think of Hubby and the fateful fishing weekend.
“I’m not interested in what happened,” said my Husband “It’s what didn’t happen that’s infinitely more important.”
“Xenophilius Lovegood,” he said, extending a hand to Harry. “My daughter and I live over the hill, so kind of the Weasleys to invite us. I think you know my Luna?” he added to Ron. “Yes” said Ron. “Isn’t she with you?” “She lingered in that charming little garden to say hello to the gnomes, such a glorious infestation! How few wizards realise just how much we can learn from the wise little gnomes — or, to give then their correct names, the Gernumbli gardensi.”
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K.Rowling
BBC Radio 4. Women’s hour. Good Friday 2017:
“Well, you see, my wife never liked my gnomes. To me they were family. I’d given them names even. They had personality. But the wife said to me one day, ‘Darling, it’s me or the gnomes.’ Simple as that. I love me wife, so the answer was simple. That’s when I heard about the Gnome Sanctuary.” Continue reading Yay for the little people
“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.”
Jane Eyre Charlotte Brontë
From indoors, yesterday was a beautiful day. The sun shone brightly and I hurried out to work. As I stepped onto the pavement a bracing wind caught my light leather jacket, tugged at my loosely-wrapped scarf and made my feet feel naked in my sockless pumps.
Oranges and lemons, Say the bells of St. Clement’s. You owe me five, Say the bells of St. Martin’s. When will you pay me? Say the bells of Old Bailey. When I grow rich, Say the bells of Shoreditch. When will that be? Say the bells of Stepney. I do not know, Says the great bell of Bow. Here comes a candle to light you to bed, And here comes a chopper to chop off your head!
English Nursery Rhyme, original version (different from above) appeared in Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book (c. 1744)
Ratty, the rat from Wind in the Willow’s: “There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham
Do you remember the ‘Choose your own adventure’ books? The protagonist is “you”, and you are given choices that lead to alternate outcomes. You’d get to a certain page which said something like, “If you want to investigate the noise in the attic turn to pg85. If you decide to put earplugs in your ears and hide your head under the covers, turn to pg76.”
“It sounded like something in a book and it did not make Mary feel cheerful. A house with a hundred rooms, nearly all shut up and with their doors locked—a house on the edge of a moor—whatsoever a moor was—sounded dreary. A man with a crooked back who shut himself up also! She stared out of the window with her lips pinched together, and it seemed quite natural that the rain should have begun to pour down in gray…”
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
I looked around to see if anyone was watching. You particularly need to be careful of the room guides. Hubby had wondered off to look at another formulaic painting by Sir Peter Lely. I was safe. Between the great hall and the Duke of Lauderdale’s bed chamber I’d spotted a small door. ‘Staff only’, it stated. This, I suspected, led to a small servants’ passageway. Continue reading Days out part 2: Libraries, secret passageways and the last Whipping Boy
“I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air — or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances, I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.”
A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
(the first of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries)
If any of you are avid readers you’ll know the feeling of being in the middle of a few novels at once, of having a pile of unread books next to your bed and a bookshelf/kindle full of #mustreads that taunt and tempt.
A couple of birthdays ago Hubby gave me the novel, A study in Scarlet. Having recently finished Stephen King’s On Writing, I rescued this little red book from the shelf last week.