The Task Ahead Of Me

Back drive

A.P. Maintenance have done a grand job on the back drive. The section in the foreground, abutting the road, is to be concreted next weekend.

Clematis Montana

The clematis Montana is now spreading down the dead trunk.


More rhododendrons are in bloom.

Fly on tree peony

Yellow flowers, like those now appearing on tree peonies, attract insects, such as this iridescent-winged fly.

Today I finished reading ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’, Harper Lee’s masterpiece from 1960. So many people have responded to yesterday’s post saying that it is one of their favourite books, and even more that it is on their reading list, that I will not give details here. Instead I will describe its impact. Set in 1935, this is a tale told through the eyes of a little girl from the ages of four to eight. It can be seen as an insightful piece of character building based on keen observation and a knowledge of what childhood was like. It also deals in a sensitive way with a profound social issue that was still relevant in 1960. For good measure there is a side-issue of a mystery beautifully solved at the end.

The writing is fluid. It has a gentle pace that picks up fast as the story unfolds. Characterisation and descriptions of small-town life are perfectly credible.

I did not want to put it down, and therefore consumed it in two sessions, one of several hours.

If it’s on your list, read it. If you intend to return to it, do so.

To Kill A Mocking Bird illustration

I probably won’t, because I’ll never manage to open many of my unread books. As I popped my Folio Society edition, that is enhanced by the fine pen and ink sketches of Aafke Brouwer, back onto it’s shelf, I was reminded of the task ahead of me.Bookshelf

The eight volumes on the left are some of my Heron Books set of the works of D.H. Lawrence from 1969, a reasonably produced cheap illustrated edition within the budget of a young family man. I have read most of them, which is more than can be said of the John le Carre quintet. I have read The Night Manager, but don’t remember much about it. ‘Our Game’, hasn’t even been removed from its cling film wrapping. The Aladdin I bought because of Errol le Cain’s illustrations. The next four I haven’t opened. I may have read ‘A Very Long Way From Here’, which I think was aimed at teenagers, although I was much older. Of the rest, only Doris Lessing’s ‘The Fifth Child’, and the two by Andrea Levy have been read. ‘Small Island’ describes the disappointing experience of early Jamaican immigrants to England; and ‘Fruit of the Lemon’, the, equally disillusioning  visit of a descendent to the island from which her family originated. If you like ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’, you will like these. Doris Leslie’s ‘Peridot Flight’ is part of my Auntie Ivy’s collection, given to me when she moved into a care home at the end of her life. Maybe I’ll read that before my days are over. Maybe I won’t.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s delicious sausage casserole (recipe), mashed potato, with crisp carrots, cabbage, and runner beans, followed by profiteroles. I drank Alexis Lichine cute exceptionnelle, Bordeaux superieur 2013, and Jackie imbibed Hoegaarden Belgian beer best before 15.08.16.

A Day With A Book

I thought I would be helpful this morning and make tea and coffee for Aaron and his friend Darrel, who were finishing off spreading the gravel on the back drive. Although my left hand is much improved it is still a little difficult to apply the plunger to the small cafetiere. The inevitable happened and I upset the implement and spilled the contents. I thought I had made a good job of clearing up, but, hearing a sigh from Jackie, and asking what was the matter, elicited the response ‘Mum’s so lucky…..’ Ever since 18th September 2013 when the sausage casserole ended up on the kitchen floor, this has been an occasionally repeated phrase. Becky, you see, had, on that day, commented, somewhat irreverently, on the Facebook link to my post: ‘How lucky is mum, to have you help out in the kitchen like that?’.

The two men completed work on the drive in good time, and were able to weed the rose garden plot in preparation for laying its paths.

I spent most of the day reading more than two thirds of Harper Lee’s wonderful novel ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’. At the time of writing I have 80 pages to go, so probably won’t finish it tonight. I will leave comments on the author’s work until I have done so. In the meantime, here is a scan of the covers of my Folio Society edition bearing illustrations by Aafke Brouwer:To Kill A Mocking Bird cover

This evening we dined on succulent chicken Kiev; roasted peppers and mushrooms; mashed potatoes and swede; piquant cauliflower cheese; and crisp carrots and green beans. Neither of us drank anything.