“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.”
“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across the these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up, near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.”
Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (pen name of Karen Blixen)
“We paid £3 for a haircut in South Africa,” we told our flamboyant, full-of-opinions, Irish hairdresser in London some years ago.
[This, when he quoted Hubby £45 for a men’s short back and sides.]
“WELL! … I don’t exactly live in a frickin mud hut, do I?” he pointed out.
“To tell you the truth, I was considerably upset and worried. I am not going to pretend that at that moment I foresaw the events of the next few weeks. I emphatically did not do so. But my instinct told me that there were stirring times ahead.”
The Murder of Roger Achroyd by Agatha Christie
On Easter Sunday Hubby and I had lunch (Easter Lamb – delish!) at a friend’s house. I was sat next to our friend Floz (not her real name). Floz is a part time conspiracy theorist, a full time intellectual and in the evenings works as a companion to 3 old ladies.
“Do you know the key to happiness in old age?” she asked me as I prepared my roast potatoes with butter, salt and a good dose of gravy.
I took a metaphorical key out of my pocket, turned it in the lock and pushed the now-slightly-warped door open, wiped my feet on the mat and walked in. The air was a little stuffy, but I opened a window, drew back the curtains and breathed in the familiar smell of home. Continue reading Honey, I’m home!
“I hadn’t been driving long when I felt what I thought was a bug fluttering around my left leg and ankle. I tried to brush it away, but it persisted. With my eyes on the road , I leaned down again to shoo it away, only to feel something much larger than an insect against my hand. Looking down, I saw the head and about 10 to 15 centimetres, of a snake. We had somehow picked up a passenger.”
‘The Biyamati Stowaway’ by Gordon Parratt, from ‘101 Kruger Tales’
A shriek came from a nearby cottage. Then we heard the crash of crockery shattering on a stone floor. A man shouted and swore in German.
Within seconds a large male baboon bounded onto the lawn in front of our cottage. He looked back a few times towards the last shouts of the angry German, then settled down on the grass. Continue reading Profiling a villain
Concerning truffles – “During the season, from November until March, they can be tracked down by nose, providing you have sensitive enough equipment. The supreme truffle detector is the pig, who is born with a fondness for the taste, and whose sense of smell in this case is superior to the dog’s. But there is a snag: the pig is not content to wag his tail and point when he has discovered a truffle. He wants to eat it. In fact, he is desperate to eat it. And as Ramon said, you cannot reason with a pig on the brink of gastronomic ecstasy.”
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
Hubby: We are going mushroom picking this Autumn. Me: We don’t have any spare weekends. Hubby: We are going! Me: But… Hubby: Show me our calendar. Me: The only open weekend left is the end of September and I need to pack for South Africa. Hubby: That weekend is perfect!
“John kept referencing something called the ‘Downflooding Angle’. I looked up the term in the ‘Code of Federal Regulations’ – a multi-volume compilation of all US rules covering every conceivable industry from education, to energy, to agriculture, to shipping. The ‘Downflooding Angle’ refers to how far you’d have to tip a boat in calm conditions for water to penetrate the boat’s first nonweathertight opening… With a list like that, you couldn’t stop water from getting in. The vessel would never be able to right itself.”
Into the Raging Sea by Rachel Slade Subtitled: Thirty-three mariners, one megastore and The Sinking of the El Faro
Let me introduce you to ‘Maria’, ‘Irma’, ‘Harvey’, ‘Matthew’, ‘Joaquin’ and ‘Igor’ – all category 4 and 5 tropical hurricanes of the last decade. ‘Florence’ is visiting the west coast of America as we speak.
I love extreme weather … that is, when I’m in my bed cosy and warm.
Last night an early Autumn gale came up and blew eerie groans among the trees outside our window. Reading the newly-published Into the Raging Sea about hurricane ‘Joaquin’ and the sinking of the US cargo ship SS El Faro on 1st October 2015, was about as much reality as I needed. Continue reading Keeping my head above water
Susan and Lucy ask if Aslan the lion is safe — to which Mr. Beaver answers: ‘Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
I’ve stood on boulders, dyed my hair purple and skinny-dipped in the sea, so I often forget how risk-averse I really am.
Last weekend Hubby and I went to Rye. We stayed in the rather atmospheric Jeakes House. Built circa 1650, it’s decorated in the style of ‘Mrs White in the library with a rope‘ and other such scenarios. Continue reading Taking risks
“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer.”
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I love a good sci-fi film, a nail-biting apocalyptic flick or an edge-of-your-seat creature-feature.
Hubby and I often make up storylines – one such tale featured a family of hikers on the run from a scourge of stealthy blood-sucking giant mosquitos, the result of nuclear testing gone wrong.
“One thing I’ve learned in my brief career: It’s the side projects that really take off. By side projects I mean the stuff that you thought was just messing around. Stuff that’s just play. That’s actually the good stuff. That’s when the magic happens.”
Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon
My English ancestors sailed on the HMS Weymouth from Portsmouth to Algoa Bay in 1820. They were from Burton-in-Kendal, Evlestoke and Guildford. An out of work labourer, a weaver, a wife. It took them 6 months to get there. Their hope: to reinvent themselves in a new country.
Many births, deaths and marriages later, I turned up.
I had a privileged, colonial upbringing. Good schools. Good manners. Good books. My English accent was corrected by my maternal grandmother. Summers were spent at the sea, winters in the game reserve.
Mother England I’m sure, was proud of her colonial child.
Ah, the colonial life (you might say) … wide open spaces, sun, land and opportunity!