Hello again, fellow Bookworms!
That dessert in the photo is the Floating Island I mentioned in my last blog. Mum and I had these at Ponte Vecchio on our first full day at our resort in Mauritius. The usual Grand Port buffet restaurant needed to be closed for some reason, so they opened up the Italian restaurant for lunch, and Mum and I had a lovely meal there, especially this dessert. However, that meant we wanted this dessert again, but it wasn’t on their evening menu, and led to this, which would not be out of place as a Monty Python sketch…
Mum: We would like the Floating Island, please.
Waiter: I’m very sorry, that’s only on our lunch menu.
Mum: When are you open for lunch?
Waiter: We’re not.
See what I mean?! Don’t get me wrong, we did enjoy our accommodation for the most part, but there were some areas for improvement on their part! So, I still think, of all the jollies I’ve ever been on, the El Dorado Seaside Suites on the Riviera Maya in Mexico still tops the list. That’s where we went in 2013, as you may recall, as part of my 40th birthday celebrations that year. I certainly think, for free onsite activities, the Shandrani has plenty going for it. The setting is beautiful too. We were there in their winter, as it’s in the southern hemisphere, so there were some issues with finding one of the restaurants, Le Sirius, when some of the lamps had their timings wrong and were off when it was dark. As I said, I would tell them, if they ask, that we enjoyed it on the whole, but I would give some constructive criticism around areas which need improving.
I did like the Beachcomber travel wallet we got before we went on the holiday, though. That was a lovely touch when our documents came with about a fortnight to go before the hols. I will be using that for future holidays for tickets and stuff!
Let’s get on with some book stuff now, and we can return to jollies later. Sock, from the Object Lessons series, is still an ongoing concern. I get bits read when I’m on my lunch at work. They are only short books, though, so they don’t take too long to read. As the book talks about socks and other similar items of footwear and foot wrapping, it also mentions puttees, which, for me, was a reminder of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. I was reading that back in the day, back in the 1990s, and got halfway through it, my bookmark is still in there between pages 206 and 207, but I don’t know what happened, perhaps I got distracted by other things and haven’t finished it off. I should do, but part of me wonders if I need to re-read up to that point to refresh myself of what happened, as it’s been a bloody long time!
As I recall, I was enjoying it at the time, although I had to look a lot of things up, especially Greek words! I have been to a couple of Greek islands since then, though, so that may help, although I’ve not been to Kefalonia, which is where this novel is actually set. I have been to Santorini, which is beautiful and I would recommend it to anyone, and also to Kos for the day when we were on holiday in Turkey. The novel was hugely popular back then, seemed like everyone was reading it at that time! It appealed to me on the music front.
As we’re on books I’ve had for ages, here we have one that I’ve had for quite some time, although not as long as Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Have any of you read this one?
We have English Passengers, by Matthew Kneale. Published in 2000, so it’s more recent, only 19 years old, lol, and I’m not sure I’ve had it a full 19 years. On the back of my copy is a price sticker for £1.00, so I got it from a charity shop when I bought it, I didn’t pay the full £8.99 that was the RRP when it came out and is stated on the back of the book. Obviously, something appealed to me at the time when I bought it, but it has been around amongst my TBR Library for some time and has not yet been read. OK, the same can be said of a lot of books, lmao, but for some reason, this one does keep catching my eye and sticks out as a Book I’ve Had For Donkey’s Years But Not Read Yet!
I’ve still not read any fiction this year, just been poetry and non-fiction, but I went back to the staff book club at work the other day, and our next book is actually a play, so we have drama on the cards here!
The last time I studied a play, I was at university, so it’s a pretty long time ago as I graduated 25 years ago! My final year dissertation was about plays, as it was on the theme of lies and liars in the plays of Henrik Ibsen. I know two of the three plays I based my thesis on were A Doll’s House and The Pillars of Society. I think the other one may have been The Wild Duck.
However, the book club reading matter is rather closer to home. In fact, I doubt it could be any more local than A Taste of Honey, by Shelagh Delaney! Delaney wrote this play when she was only 19 years old. She was from Salford, from the Broughton area, and the play is also set here. I know this might make me sound like those two weirdo shopkeepers from The League of Gentlemen, but A Taste of Honey really is a local play by a local person! I may even see if there’s any performances on YouTube as I think you really need to see a performance if you’re studying a play. It does help. You are reading something which is meant to be acted out.
Just pulled a book out of my purple Kipling bag. All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque. I had started reading that last year, given that 2018 was 100 years since the end of the First World War. I got myself a new handbag though, so changed over to that mostly. My current bag fits the Object Lessons books, but I would need to go back to bigger handbags, really to start having Handbag Books again, or take them with me in an extra bag. That has been known. Maybe I should start a Backpack Books list? I have a Hogwarts backpack that I bought myself not long ago for the trip up to North Shields with Salford Steel, so sometimes I take that with me to places as well as my handbag, and there are often books in my backpack! Sometimes I set off with them, sometimes I come home with them!
Just how bloody hot was it on Thursday?! It was crazy! I would love to know what temperatures it reached in Salford and Manchester on Thursday, because it was still bloody boiling even in the evening! After work, I went into town for an event organised by Cruse – UK readers may know of Cruse, they’re an organisation who provide bereavement support, and this was a group for adults who have lost a parent. The meet up was at Manchester Central Library, and by the time it was over, I came out of the library around quarter to eight in the evening and it was still absolutely boiling! Then I crossed the tram lines and went to Wagamama to eat. Came out of there around an hour later… still pretty damn warm! Quarter to nine at night and still ridiculous temperatures! If it weren’t for the familiar surroundings, I would have questioned if I was in Manchester! Perhaps it was a parallel Manchester, but with hot weather?! It certainly wasn’t the usual weather for my neck of the woods, lol!
When I had got to town from Swinton on the bus, I had time for a quick visit to Waterstone’s before heading to the event, and purchased a copy of A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole – the edition with the red cover and yellow hot dogs on it – I love that cover, and believe the book is meant to be very funny. If I am going to get back into fiction, I think I want something that’s going to give me a good laugh! Actually, when I looked it up on Amazon just now, there was a glowing review of it by Sir Billy Connolly, who said it was his favourite book of all time, and I think you all know I’ve been a big fan of the Big Yin for donkey’s years! My all-time favourite comedian.
I have actually got his Made in Scotland book, which I started a while ago, so I can continue with that, but that’s not fiction, so wouldn’t get me back into made up stuff.
On the List Challenges list for this blog, I now have 82 different books listed for the things I’ve mentioned so far this year on my blogs, which means we’re into our third page in terms of published lists. When a list is published, there are 40 items to a page. Given that I didn’t start blogging this year until April, that’s not too bad, really. This list is going to be shorter than usual, I suspect, but probably as random as ever! We have poetry, plays, books about the art of not giving a f**k, children’s books, historical fiction, science fiction, books about medical conditions and disabilities, autobiographies, object lessons, travel, and books about books! Bit of young adult, too. My lists have a lot of random stuff on them. I am a very random person. You might have noticed, lol!
You may recall from previous blogs, way back in 2012, after the London Olympics and Paralympics, that I put a photo up of me with a gold postbox. I think I did, anyway. Royal Mail painted postboxes gold up and down the UK in places of significance relating to athletes who won gold for Great Britain in those home Games, and we have one in Salford in honour of Dame Sarah Storey, the cyclist who won multiple golds in the Paralympics that summer. I think she won 4 golds if I remember rightly.
Anyway, Royal Mail have now painted some other postboxes white with cricket bats and stumps to celebrate England’s victories in the Cricket World Cups for our women’s team in 2017 and our men’s team this year, and as Old Trafford, Lancashire’s ground, was a host venue, there is a celebratory postbox in town. Possibly there isn’t a postbox near the cricket ground itself, maybe there is, but there is now a cricket-themed postbox in town and I saw it on Thursday night, so I thought you might like to see it. I’ve only read one book that’s cricket-related, but that was the hilarious Penguins Stopped Play, by Harry Thompson! I definitely recommend it. Even if you’re not into cricket, it is so funny! It is on my list of books which made me laugh my arse off while reading them!
Another funny book I can recommend, one that I read a couple of years ago now, is Round Ireland With a Fridge, by Tony Hawks. I remembered it again recently because of Mr Hawks’ previous claim to fame before he became a published writer… as a pop star, albeit a one hit wonder. He and a couple of mates teamed up in the late eighties and, under the name of Morris Minor and the Majors, reached number 4 in the UK singles charts in early 1988 with a comedy rap hit called Stutter Rap (No Sleep ‘Til Bedtime), a send-up of the likes of the Beastie Boys who were hugely popular back in 1987-88! As BBC4 shows old Top of the Pops on Friday nights, they’d got to the stage where it was late 1987 and early 1988, and this song was being performed on the show on some of the TOTPs that I had recorded and watched on my Sky+ box, and that reminded me that this was the first bit of fame enjoyed by Tony Hawks before his writing career!
Incidentally, BBC4 are now up to April 1988 in terms of Top of the Pops, and thus Heart by the Pet Shop Boys is number 1, so I was a very happy bunny watching it last night! The main reason I was particularly keen on watching the shows from December 1987 and into January 1988 was that Always On My Mind was number 1 for four weeks, so I was basically watching those shows because of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe! There were other good tunes as well, including Stutter Rap, which was quite witty for a daft novelty record, but I admit I was watching because I’m a PSB fan!
So, what other things have I bought recently on the book front? There’s Rivers of London, by Ben Aaronovitch, and the much talked-about Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens. Feels like every book group on Facebook mentions that novel! Perhaps I should see what it’s like? I’m not really one for much talked about books, but then a lot of those seem to be crime thrillers, so that’s not really my genre anyway. This seems a bit more general fiction even if there is crime and mystery in it.
Wonder what the Booker Prize nominations are for this year? I tend to find winners of such prizes off-putting. I did enjoy Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, but I’ve attempted one or two others that have won the Booker Prize, and didn’t get very far with them. Found myself plodding and wondering if the plot was going to get moving at all! It was The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton, that I found hard-going, and I did swap my original copy at a pub restaurant some years ago in exchange for Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, which I loved! I did get another copy of The Luminaries, though, thinking I might try it again, as I was having a book slump at the time we attempted it for our book group.
Well, the list on List Challenges is now up to 89 books, lol! I think that’s about it for now! More about books, holidays and other waffle coming soon, but until then, take care and Happy Reading!
Joanne x x x
Books mentioned in this blog entry…
- Sock – Kim Adrian
- Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernières
- English Passengers – Matthew Kneale
- A Doll’s House – Henrik Ibsen
- The Pillars of Society – Henrik Ibsen
- The Wild Duck – Henrik Ibsen
- A Taste of Honey – Shelagh Delaney
- All Quiet On the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
- A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
- Made in Scotland – Sir Billy Connolly
- Penguins Stopped Play – Harry Thompson
- Round Ireland With a Fridge – Tony Hawks
- Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch
- Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
- Life of Pi – Yann Martel
- The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton
- Girl With a Pearl Earring – Tracy Chevalier