Saturday, 18 October 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

I can't believe that it's already read-a-thon time again! This is my sticky post that I will update throughout the event.
14:00 Opening Meme:
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Norfolk, England.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Storm - Tim Minchin (it arrived yesterday and it is just gorgeous!)
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Chocolate hob nobs!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I'm a long time reader who lives in a thatched cottage in a small village in the beautiful English countryside with my husband and two dogs.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? Read more books! Although I say that every time but still get distracted by all the lovely activities that are going on around this event! Such as twitter (#readathon) or the new goodreads group!

19:20 First Book Finished
I've not been very active (yet) as I've hunkered down to read this afternoon and had a couple of small accidental naps but I've just completed Broken Homes by Ben Aaronovitch and I am off to find myself a regency-ish romance to read next.

21:10 Mini-Challenge: Show it off!
Great idea for a mini-challenge hosted by deadbookdarling!

Here's a selection of my beloved signed books.  This picture includes books by Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Margaret Attwood, Iain M. Banks, Toni Morrison, Patrick Rothfuss and Douglas Adams.

Since I started almost exclusively reading on the kindle, I've become more and more attached to beautiful editions of favourite books and trying to grow my collection of ones that are signed by my favourite authors.  I lovessss my treasures...

23:57 Second Book Finished
Just finished reading A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Larner.  I do very much love a Regency Romance but this one didn't really do it for me. Oh well.  Toying with the idea of a change of pace next as I am getting tired - perhaps a comic? Off to browse the tbr pile!

00:34 Third Book Finished
I finally got around to reading the first Scott Pilgrim book which I enjoyed.  I do have the second book sitting next to me but I am tucked up in bed now and, as I have had flu this week, I'm not feeling tip top and am really very tempted to have a little snooze.... Must keep reading...?

01:45 Sleepy Time
A massive bought of coughing after my last post put paid to any chance of sleep so I have been reading Matched by Ally Condie instead.  This was a 99p Kindle Daily Deal earlier this week and so I bought it as a potential read for this weekend.  I now need to stop reading and get some sleep!

Final Update
My internet went a bit wonky but when I woke up I finished Match and also the second Scott Pilgrim book.  So that's 1493 pages (or 5 books) in 24 hours.  Not bad!  I do so love an excuse to spend the weekend reading :)

Saturday, 30 August 2014

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX

Readers Imbibing Peril IX
(Art by Abigail Larson)
I can't believe that it's already time for my annual RIP read which is hosted by the lovely Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings.  Not only is it that I don't know where this year has gone but I am slightly shocked this is the ninth year of the event!  I have taken part in this for the last six years and it's become a tradition to seek out, and set aside, material in anticipation.

As ever, this is about reading and watching material from the genres of...
Dark Fantasy.

Being a wet and a weed, this isn't my normal genre so what I love about this challenge is that it pushes me to read books that I normally wouldn't seek out and I have had some great experiences in previous years.  The lovely thing about this challenge is that Carl has two simple rules:

1. Have fun reading (and watching).
2. Share that fun with others.

I look forward to getting started and seeing what everyone else gets up to over at the R.I.P. IX review site.

Friday, 15 August 2014

My Cutting Garden

 I am really lucky to have a largeish garden which is split into the "main garden" and the "veg patch/wildlife zone". We have lived in our home for four years now and I have started to make good inroads into transforming the main garden from weedy bramble patch to pretty English country garden.  However...  With the exception of my gorgeous selection of David Austin repeat roses and Hydrangea 'Annabelle', I find myself unable to deplete the plants in the main garden to cut flowers for vases and I absolutely love having pretty flowers around the house during the summer.

Embedded image permalink
Cut flowers with visiting butterfly
The veg patch was a good idea in theory. It's surrounded by my wilderness bits of garden to encourage wildlife into the same area and it has a couple of permanent beds (asparagus and raspberries) and then several 8x4 foot beds for seasonal crops.  All sounded great during the design stage but out of sight meant out of mind and for the last couple of years I have miserably failed to harvest most of the veg I was growing on time! So in May I took the decision to jack in my vegetable patch, to move courgette, tomato, salad, etc. production into large pots / small beds nearer the kitchen back door and use this space to start off a cutting garden instead.

To kick myself off, I bought a handful of perennials from the garden centre (mainly to trial them as cutting flowers) and popped them into the ground.  I then bought some packs of seeds from the absolutely fantastic Higgledy Garden, made some lines with string and filled up most of my space.  And then I waited a bit and weeded between the rows a bit.  As ever with annuals, it feels like nothing could ever grow fast enough to pick this year but from around 4 weeks ago I have had non-stop flowers to pick.

The photo I have posted at the top is from last week and everything I've used in those vases are keepers. What I love most is that they are also (mostly) really insect friendly and as you can see a butterfly popped by to have a snack whilst I was taking my picture.  So far my favourites from my trials have been:


  • Echinacea Purpurea
  • Rudbeckia 'Marmalade'
  • Rudbeckia Hirta 'Prairie Sun' & 'Autumn Colours' (these have been really great performers)
  • Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting Sweet Pea)
  • Leucanthemum 'Broadway Lights'

I also have some perennials I hope to trial properly next year as I sowed the seeds in this which include a couple of the Aquilegia Barlow family, mixed Delphiniums and Knautia 'Melton Pastels'.  I sowed some (very late!) Sweet Peas that are just coming into flower.  Unfortunately the marker pen I used has proven not to be as waterproof as advertised so I have absolutely no idea what the gorgeous varieties  now emerging are but they are great to mix in with the flowers from the very prolific everlasting variety which is sadly scentless.

(some of) today's flowers
All of the above favourites are definite keepers for next year (I must be ruthless, I must be ruthless) but I realised when I started picking that my most prolific plants are mostly yellows so I definitely need to add more variety including some greens!!  Having said that at the moment I am getting some nice paler mixes too (see second pic) and luckily I have some self-seeded dill in the veg patch that I've been able to use. I do have the vibrant green establishing Alchemilla Mollis plants in the main garden but think I need to move some up into the cutting patch so I remember to pick more green!

Even though the Summer is not over, I'm already thinking about the changes I want to make so next year I'm also going to trial:

Annuals: Ammi Majus, Ammi Visage, Bupleurum Griffithii, Celosia 'Flamingo Feather' & Dill Mammoth which should have more impact than the bog standard version I had this year. I'm also thinking about possibly adding some Larkspur as I might feel less guilty about picking them than I do about my mixed Delphiniums!

Perennials: Echinacea Primadonna White, Echinops 'Ritro', a long stemmed Lavender and mixed Scabiosa too.

I also need to think about how I extend the life of my picking season.  I'm really lucky in that the "wilderness" part of my garden is absolutely filled with bluebells in spring - so many that I can happily cut them for a few weeks.  I also have several large clumps of chives which I used as early flowers along with a few daffodils that I allowed myself to pick very sparingly from the main garden.

Overall, I am really pleased with the transition from veg patch to cutting garden and am already looking forward to Version 2.0 in 2015!

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

Oh dear.  I managed to delete my first post somehow which is a bit of a pain as I am spending precious reading time doing another one!..  Actually. Here's the very brief version of my previous lengthy Hour Zero post instead:

Hour Zero:
I have not posted to this blog for three years.  How did that happen?  But. Yay!  It's time for the 24 hour read-a-thon which I last took part in waaaaay back in 2009. Seriously.  Where has time gone?  Then I completed the Hour Zero introductory meme in which I said I live in a cottage near Norwich (which is in the UK), that I am most looking forward to reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and that I have settled myself into a wingback chair with my kindle, in proximity to the kettle and with a stack of graphic novels beside me.

Final Update
I didn't spend as much time reading book as I intended to but the two I started and finished were just perfect for this.  I spent a lot more time than I meant to visiting other blogs and enjoying the challenges but isn't that the point?  I would have finished my last book if it hadn't been actually sunny for once and I just couldn't resist going into the garden to read.  Except once I got out there then I started to feel bad about all the things that I needed to do in the garden and spent the last couple of hours planting seeds and potting up. It's so very nice to be warm outside I just couldn't resist!  :)

Currently Reading: Sweet Tooth - Ian McEwan

Books Finished: 2
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (short review: I LOVED IT!)
Nearly a Lady by Alissa Johnson  (short review: This was great fun and I hearted the leads!)

Total Pages Read: 723 (£12.50)

Total Time Spent Reading Just Books: 395 mins

Hours "fined" for not doing read-a-thon activities:  14 hours (£35). This was caused by Dinner, The Wire, Sleep & Planting Seeds (I had to - it was sunny! In England!)

Money for Book Aid International: £47.50 - but I will round it up to £50 as that seems like a nice thing to do.

Explanation about the donation:
I am taking part in the Read-a-thon Reading for Charity initiative spearheaded by Felicia the Geeky Blogger (here's a list of the other participants) and I will be donating to Book Aid International.

I'm going to donate £2.50 for every 100 pages I read and I will also fine myself £2.50 per hour for the hours in which I am not engaged in a read-a-thon related activity.