Saturday, January 01, 2011

Hyacinths and books (and presents)

A few months ago I planted some hyacinths to flower in time for Christmas - and they mostly just made it in time, although one didn't do very much at all!

I love the smell of them in the house and it's nice to have something growing when there isn't much going on outside in the garden.
I've also just planted an Amaryllis, which should hopefully flower within a couple of months. And by then things will be kicking off again in the garden.

Bookwise, over the last couple of months, I've read:
The Friday Night knitting club, and Knit Two by Kate Jacobs. These are both fun reads, and have a bit more to them than the Maggie Sefton knitting mystery books. Still definitely in the chick lit category, but there's nothing wrong with that. I would definitely recommend them if you want a nice relaxing read that features yarn and knitting. I bought these two on honeymoon, one from Warwick books, the other from a secondhand bookshop in Warwick (Warwick is obviously the place to go if you want independent bookshops AND a yarn shop!).

I bought Knit Fix: problem solving for knitters by Lisa Kartus when I visited Wales, from another independent bookshop (why don't we have any of those round here?!) in Llanidloes this time. This isn't a book you read from cover to cover, but dip into when you're trying to resolve a crisis, having a knitting emergency or otherwise need some help. It would have been extremely useful six years ago when I started knitting, but I still found useful hints and tips in it for now and there are some very clear diagrams.

We gave my Mum Clare Morrall's The man who disappeared for Christmas, but I got in first and read it over Christmas before Mum went home (I do this every year if I give her a book, oops)! I'd really enjoyed two of Morrall's previous books Astonishing splashes of colour and Natural flights of the human mind and had read a review of this one and thought Mum would enjoy it. And me. It didn't disappoint - I love the way the author uses words and description. This one follows the story of the man who disappeared, Felix, from his point of view, his wife's and two of his children, all of whom are realistically portrayed (the children were hilarious especially the younger son who is obsessed with alien invasion) and it is only gradually, over the course of the whole book, that you get to piece together what actually made Felix disappear. I will definitely be adding another of her books, The language of others to my list to get from the library.

I read The little stranger by Sarah Waters for reading group one month. I've not been doing too well with reading group, having run out of time to read two of the books and missing a couple of meetings due to work commitments! But I'd been wanting to read this one so was glad to get an excuse to get on with it! The book follows a country doctor immediately before the introduction of the NHS, who looks after the family and servants in a country house he visited when he was a boy. Strange things start to happen at the house, but it isn't really a scary ghost story, but a lot more about the relationships between the family at the house and the doctor as he gets drawn into their world and their house continues its decline. I would recommend it though, it's quite compelling reading and not too scary (!). Probably not for anyone who wants a Really Scary ghost story though, but would be great for anyone who enjoyed watching Downton Abbey on ITV!

My Advent book this year was In all senses: daily meditations and prayers for Advent by John Cox, which, as usual with Advent/Lent books, I ended up about a week behind. This one involves exploring the meaning of Christmas using all your senses, and each day has a Bible reading, reflection/meditation, response and a prayer. Each chapter was a sensible length for attempting to fit the reading in during Advent and it was nice to do a different type of study that didn't just look at the nativity story. I did actually keep up with the reading until I caught 'flu when everything went a bit wrong...

These are the books I/we were given for Christmas:

  • The newly published Lincoln cathedral: a journey from past to present which looks really good. It's somewhere inbetween massively in-depth history and one of those annoying guidebooks that hasn't got much information in, so this seems like a good balance. 
  • Cold comfort farm by Stella Gibbon - one of my favourite books but I've only ever taken it out of the library before so now we have a copy!
  • And the OH gave me The fruit expert as I want to do more fruit growing next year!
I have just started reading Sarah Dunant's Sacred hearts, for January's reading group meeting and so far I'm enjoying it!

    And to finish off, the other Christmas presents I was given:
    Spotty casserole and pie dishes from Lakeland!

     And my new handbag (from the OH), as well as some home made damson jam and a tub of body butter from the Body Shop from my brother and SIL!


    Victoria said...

    Everything looks really great. I especially love how the hyacinths grew so well--they are very pretty! I've wanted to plant an amaryllis as well, but tried the paperwhites as a first-time planter.

    I've also been wanting to read The Friday Night Knitting Club. It is available on the Kindle, but as it's still popular, it's on the more expensive side. And right now, we are trying to save money because we have a lot of expenses coming up. It is on my "to read" list, though, and it's good to hear you say that you enjoyed it.

    Mary Anne said...

    Hyacinths smell so lovely and add a spark of colour in the midst of winter days.

    Your gifties are cool, esp. the handbag and the casserole/pie dishes.

    It's always good to read book reviews and I am forever adding new books to my ever-growing list!