What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Summer Reading 3


Most of you will at least have seen or heard of the Oscar winning movie The Color Purple, or even read the book it was based on. As a hen keeper I find friends will give me hen related gifts ( for which I thank you kindly) and this book  “the Chicken Chronicles” was a lovely gift from KA, long time friend and fellow hen keeper.

This is the account of the novelist herself and her hen keeping experiences. Having kept hens as a child, she decided to start keeping them again in her later years. The best thing about this book were the names she gave to her hens (Gertrude Stein, Agnes of God, Hortensia to name but a few), her excellent observations of quirky hen behaviour, and her personalisation of their individual characters but unfortunately I just didn’t warm to the voice of Alice herself. Those of you who read a great deal will hopefully know just what I mean.

The best paragraph, which was sweet and sad, was when she recounts how one of her hens may have been feeling after its hen friend has disappeared, presumably taken by a predator:

The hardest part was watching Gertrude Stein day after day, wait for, and look for Bobbie who had been her special friend. They had napped side by side in the heat of the day, their bodies half- buried in dirt and straw. They had hunted insects together under the wood chips in the garden; they had roosted side by side each night on the roosting post. Gertrude’s face was wistful, sad, waiting. I wondered if she had witnessed Bobbie’s disappearance; if so, it must have shocked and frightened her. I wondered if she was still pondering “death”, as she had seen it, the unexpected nature of this encounter we must all experience, the incredible mystery.

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These is My Words

Now that school is out and life is a little less frantic it is time to flex my holiday reading muscles.
First on the list was ” These is My Words, the diary of Sarah Anne Prine” by Nancy Turner.
I have blogged before about pioneer women – Laura Ingalls, and the sweet hen lady Nancy Luce, and now I have a new pioneer voice Miss Sarah Anne Prine. If you enjoyed the Little House books, and the sharp dry voice of Mattie Ross in True Grit (another great book) you will love following the journey of Sarah with her family by wagon from Arizona to Texas, and their trials and hardships as they settle to life there. Along with tragedy there is romance, courage, faithfulness, a desire for knowledge, a heart that seeks true love and an indomitable spirit. I loved every page. It made me cry several times. There are two great dogs in this story, and also Sarah keeps hens and is very worried about them when the weather causes trouble. (Sorry no spoilers)
I was thrilled to learn there is a sequel! Hoping Mr Postman with deliver it soon.
“My life feels like a book left out on the porch, and the wind blows the pages faster and faster, turning always toward a new chapter faster than I can stop to read it.”
― Nancy E. Turner, These Is My Words

This copy was sent to me as part of the Good Reads First Read programme. I can’t wait to pass it on to the next lucky reader!
Thanks Good Reads 🙂

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Holidays are good for you. It’s official!

Day six of our holiday. Two books read, 100 lengths a day in the pool, many hours spent in the pursuit of 100% on the Pop Stars game app (thanks Grandma for the recommendation). Even Candy Crush seems too much like hard work. On the tanning colour chart my skin is somewhere between “oven ready cookie” and “weak tea”. After a particularly warm day yesterday (35 degrees) and with all the Wimbledon Tennis Final excitement, last night the Gillyboys and I cooled off by swimming under the stars, it was awesome with the pool’s underwater lights on, like bathing in a heated glow stick. Throwing open the windows every morning to yet another glorious day seems all the sweeter knowing that this time next week we will be back to grey skies and and strong chance of rain.
Mr G has spent most of his days walking, reading and consolidating his thinking as he calls it. The boys spend so much time in the pool I need to start checking if they have sprouted fins and gills. Mr G and the 15 year old are having a World Series table tennis tournament the ultimate outcome of which is anybody’s guess.
It is rest, it is re-creation
A recent scientific study showed that holidays are good for us. Not only do getaways make you feel better, they help you to manage stress, improve sleep patterns, reduce blood pressure, strengthen relationships, live longer.The results of the research, a collaboration between the long-haul travel specialist Kuoni, and experts in psychotherapy and health care, tests carried out by Christine Webber, a psychotherapist, showed that those who went away for two weeks experienced significant upswings in mood and energy levels and returned feeling more relaxed and clearer in their life goals. Their blood pressure dropped on average by six per cent, sleep quality improved by 17 per cent and resilience to stress improved by 29 per cent. Those who stayed at home recorded on average a two per cent increase in blood pressure, a 14 per cent deterioration in sleep quality and a 71 per cent reduction in the ability to cope with stress.
To put this into perspective, these were couples who were either spent a fortnight for example being tourists in Thailand, working as volunteers on an environmental project on the Amazon river. Two couples stayed at home. They were all then given various physical and mental tests.
Mind you as I sit in the shade with a cup of tea blogging in peace I have been reflecting myself on how much easier it is to
A) travel with only two children instead of four
B) older children need a lot less luggage ie nappies, buggies, special food, buckets and spades
C) holiday with children who can feed themselves and will eat most things (including goose neck barnacles)
D) swim with children who are strong swimmers themselves
E) enjoy hours of quiet reading with children capable of entertaining themselves by either reading or playing on their own digital devices. Mind you, where cases once held beach toys, they are now full of chargers and digital tablets. And panic sets in if there is no Internet access.
It is rest. It is re-creation.
We have been here on holiday many times. So there is no pressure to see and do “tourist” things. So far the dreaded trip to the soulless shade free water park has not been mentioned. Being Grandma’s house it is home from home, quiet and relaxed, no need to be up before dawn to reserve seats by the pool, no need to dress for dinner and make small talk with strangers. No need to tidy up before the maid comes to do the daily cleaning (surely I’m not the only one to do that on holidays) And we can swim and splash any hour, day or night without spoiling someone else’s vacation.
It is rest. It is re-creation.
Bet you didn’t know that for some creatures, there is a summer equivalent of hibernation, known as aestivation. Prolonged sleeping during the hot dry summer months is necessary to protect the survival of some snails, toads, reptiles and a sweet little mammal known as the Malagasy Fat Tailed Dwarf Lemur.
I find myself dropping asleep quite regularly during the heat of the day. It’s bliss. I know just how our little friend feels.



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