Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A Walk in the Yorkshire Dales

Here's another fabulous walk, this time in North Yorkshire. Solitary Rambler again. 20 minutes long

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Bit More Remembering Part 2

I can't help myself! Have to share this photo too. American soldiers paying tribute to the 8 million (!!) horses and donkeys dead during the WWI. If you haven't read (or seen the stage play or movie) Michael Morpurgo's War Horse, you should.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A Bit More Remembering

Remembrance Day 2018 is over and what a special celebration it was!
  • Church Bells ringing 100 times at 11 am or sunset on the 11th of November across Canada
  • Student-made videos: I saw one of these as part of my women's group meeting last night. One of my fellow members who is a Grade 8 French Immersion teacher shared the work of her students with us. They did the artwork, the animation, the voiceovers, the filming etc. and all this after they researched and read letters home written by Canadian soldiers in Europe during WWI. It was impressively well-done and moving. 
  • As in previous years, a virtual poppy drop on the walls of Parliament Hill 
  • Parades, services, tributes large and small in churches, towns and cities across Canada

A project that I thought deserved special mention was a UK initiative. Pages of the Sea was a public art project curated by Danny Boyle, an award-winning film-maker. Volunteers took to 32 beaches across Britain to create faces in the sand to commemorate British soldiers who died in WWI. It was a project of only a few hours. As the tide came in the portraits and names washed away.

The following video is wonderful but beware if you're subject to migraines because at times the frames move very quickly. One commenter mentioned that frequency as a potential trigger.

More information, videos and photos at Pages of the Sea.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Noise Downstairs and The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

A Noise Downstairs
Linwood Barclay

If you want a light read but a riveting story you can't go wrong with Canadian writer, Linwood Barclay. Barclay has a long list of novels to his credit. A Noise Downstairs is his latest.

A Noise Downstairs was a quick read. While it was difficult to put down - "must find out what's going to happen"- I often had to close it and go for a walk or prep vegetables for dinner just to lessen the intensity. Surprisingly I also found that the story was agonizing to read because the details were revealed in such a painfully slow way. Still good!!

Like all good suspenseful novels, there are twists in the tale. The ending was compelling. 

In case you want to know a bit more about the actual story, here's the publisher's blurb:

The New York Times bestselling author of No Time for Goodbye returns with a haunting psychological thriller that blends the twists and turns of Gillian Flynn with the driving suspense of Harlan Coben, in which a man is troubled by odd sounds for which there is no rational explanation.
College professor Paul Davis is a normal guy with a normal life. Until, driving along a deserted road late one night, he surprises a murderer disposing of a couple of bodies. That’s when Paul’s "normal" existence is turned upside down. After nearly losing his own life in that encounter, he finds himself battling PTSD, depression, and severe problems at work. His wife, Charlotte, desperate to cheer him up, brings home a vintage typewriter—complete with ink ribbons and heavy round keys—to encourage him to get started on that novel he’s always intended to write.
However, the typewriter itself is a problem. Paul swears it’s possessed and types by itself at night. But only Paul can hear the noise coming from downstairs; Charlotte doesn’t hear a thing. And she worries he’s going off the rails.
Paul believes the typewriter is somehow connected to the murderer he discovered nearly a year ago. The killer had made his victims type apologies to him before ending their lives. Has another sick twist of fate entwined his life with the killer—could this be the same machine? Increasingly tormented but determined to discover the truth and confront his nightmare, Paul begins investigating the deaths himself.
But that may not be the best thing to do. Maybe Paul should just take the typewriter back to where his wife found it. Maybe he should stop asking questions and simply walk away while he can. 

I usually have 2 or even 3 books on the go at one time. In one of those wonderful instances of serendipity, I am reading Stuart Turton's The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle at the same time as A Noise Downstairs.

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle 
Stuart Turton

What, you wonder, is the connection?

It turns out that Paul Davis, the protagonist in A Noise Downstairs has reason to think that he has some sort of amnesia - he simply can't remember details from the past - conversations or promises he made or even possibly using a typewriter in his sleep. Meanwhile, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle opens with a character that can't remember who he is, doesn't know anything about where he is, or what he's doing there. Hmmm...

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, which I'm still reading, is a murder mystery by newly-published British author, Stuart Turton. The plot is complicated, dark and quirky. Time travel might be involved. Updates on this novel still to come.

Another connection: both Linwood Barclay and Stuart Turton come from a background of journalism. 

First Update:

  • It would probably be best not to try reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle on an e-reader because, fair warning, you will want to page back and forth and also consult a map and a list of characters throughout your time with this book. In fact, even reading a hard copy, a paperback, I found it easier to refer to the map/list of characters after I had printed it out. It's turning out that this novel is a page-turning, rounding-back-on-itself puzzle. Our main protagonist jumps from body to body and from time to time.

Second Update:

  • I just found out that the alternate title for The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle in the USA because of some issue around a book of similar title, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, also a terrific read, though in no way similar to Deaths. Author Stuart Turton insists that the (curious) symmetry between the two titles is just a coincidence.
(By the way, my review of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is here)

Third Update:

  • Ok. Well, it's 3 days later and I've finished reading The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. I loved it, even though at times I was impossibly lost. Once I decided to just trust the author and keep going I could hardly put it down. In fact, I feel I would really enjoy a second unravelling read of this book, now that I'm clued in on the timeframe and understand the characters and their motivation better. The mystery of the novel is complex, yet expertly revealed with writing that sets a dark mood, dialogue that flows and characters that feel real. It was a pleasure to read. 

This is one of those time I wish I'd bought the book instead of borrowing it from the library, where there are multitudinous holds on it. I just might have to go out and buy my own copy!

Here's author Stuart Turton talking about his book. By the way, I mentioned on Twitter how much I enjoyed reading Seven Deaths and Turton was kind enough to notice and tweet a reply. Sometimes social media really brings us together!

In case you're still interested, here's another short video that may entice you into borrowing/buying this book, maybe for yourself, or if you're brave enough to give books to people, as a Christmas gift.

Thursday, November 8, 2018


Last May, the day I left Llangollen during my walk along Offa's Dyke Path, I stopped in the tiny village of Llandegla to eat my packed lunch. I noticed as I passed the Memorial Hall that there was a work party going on inside, with an invitation outside the open door for anyone to join in. They were making poppies to decorate the town in November, a special way to honour lives lost 100 years after the end of WWI.

Llandegla, like many small British villages, has a wonderful community spirit. Volunteers run the small cafe/store, the church is central in the town and there is a common land on the edge of town that is used for community gardening. 

As Remembrance Day in Canada approaches, I thought it would be interesting to feature Llandegla's poppy effort on the blog, so sought out some photos, none of them mine, sadly.

Here's a work party

I've featured these poppy "falls" previously on the blog. They are very popular across the UK and I'm a bit surprised I haven't noticed anything like it in Canada. Below is the poppy array in Keswick, in the Lake District of England.

Last May I also walked through the charming town of Monmouth. Below is a photo of their Shire Hall, built in 1724. It has, of course, a long history which I won't go into but is presently partly used for a Tourist Information Office and a Farmers' Market in the outside but under-cover area. The statue in front is Charles Rolls, of automotive fame. 

To commemorate 2018 as the 100th Anniversary of the end of WWI, the townspeople determined to create a poppy display. People knitted, crocheted and felted bright red poppies to create panels. Local craft groups and even some Girl Guides were inspired to help out.


Here's the stunning result:

A labour of love!

In Toronto, for a few years now there has been this display on the lawn of the Manulife Building on Bloor St. E.

Why flags and not poppies? I have a theory, not necessarily correct. In Canada, the sale of poppies at Remembrance Day is under the exclusive purview of the Royal Canadian Legion, raising thousands of $$ for them each year. So the making of other poppies elsewhere frowned upon. Perhaps this is why, for a display such as this one, Canadian flags have been used. Still, it makes a great statement: each flag represents a life lost and we remember.

By the way, up until 1996 Canadian poppies were made by disabled veterans but since then have been manufactured by a Canadian company. 

And finally......

......following is a short video, recorded 4 1/2 years ago, but still relevant.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A Walk in the Lake District

I seem to be in a bit of a rut watching YouTube videos of people walking in the UK. (seriously I'm in withdrawal!) I particularly enjoy The Solitary Rambler, Patrick Leach's videos - he has a lovely way about him and an awesome smile at the end of each of his blurbs.

After watching this 20-minute video you will understand the attraction of the Lake District in the northwest of England.

Thursday, November 1, 2018


This comes from Don...

Somehow it reminds me of the beer can in the tree. How on earth.....?!