27 September 2017

A Good Read

Crimson China by Betsy Tobin
On a freezing night in February 2004 twenty-three illegal Chinese migrants perished whilst picking cockles in the deadly waters of Morecambe Bay. Only twenty-one bodies were recovered. At a memorial service for the victims, a member of the local community offered the hope that one or both of those not found had somehow managed to survive. This is fact. The rest of the story is based around what Tobin imagined might have happened to one of the survivors. 
The novel begins with a drunken Angie wading into Morecambe Bay expecting to confront the spirit of her dead mother who drove her car onto the treacherous quicksand and successfully committed suicide. Angie wants to die too, instead she sees the head of Wen bobbing up and down in the dark water and rescues him. In doing so two worlds collide, East and West, both desperate and despairing, hopeless and hopeful. 
This is a story about the buoyancy of the human spirit and the powerful undertow of love. The novel also sheds light on a hidden dangerous world that runs parallel to our own.  
I enjoyed it, it’s a nice story. Good characters, good writing and a happy ending!

22 September 2017

How Fit Are You?

Just lately I've been giving some thought to how fit I am. I think I'm pretty healthy and thought I was fit because I walk the dogs for over an hour at least 5 days a week, surely I must be fit doing that. But what does being fit mean? Is it about being able to climb the stairs without getting out of breath, going away for a weekend of hill walking, or an afternoon playing with the grandchildren in the park? It means different things to different people. According to a Google search being fit means: "Maintaining a healthy weight with diet and exercise relative to the amount of muscle, fat, bone, and other vital parts of the body, and being able to fulfil your daily needs and requirements without pain or stress". My weight and diet are usually good, with the occasional lapses, but the reason I've started thinking about fitness is because of something that happened about a week ago whilst walking the dogs. 
We were doing one of our usual routes alongside a field. The crop has been harvested and the field is now bare so you can see way over the other side of it, and way over there was a rabbit. Buster took off first swiftly followed by Rufus. There was no way I was going to get them back, they were focused on the chase. I knew they would give up and come back soon but my worry was that this particular field runs alongside a road and if the rabbit headed that way and ran into the road R & B would follow, they have no road sense. I started running, well a bit of fast walking and a bit of running, to cut a corner and try to get ahead of them. After a couple of minutes I saw them coming towards me, I was so relieved to see them and to stop running as I was very out of puff, my heart was going like the clappers. 
So the conclusion to this is that yes I'm fit enough to walk 1.5 miles a day but the pace of my walking doesn't exert my heart therefore do I need to start upping my activity? I've always been fit and enjoyed physical activities. I was a very good athlete at school and loved PE. In my 20's I went to exercise classes, and then gyms, did a bit of jogging, cycling and swimming, walks with the ramblers and hill walking, but dog walking is my only exercise now.  I would quite like to join a gym, but unless one opens next door to where I live I know I won't make the effort to drive there. I would like to start cycling again but the traffic on both country and main roads scares me. So ...... I have a few alternative options - I could start jogging around the village; I could go back to swimming; I could join a gentle keep fit class ......... but as a starter I am now walking at a faster pace, it isn't a route march but I can feel my heart rate working. I want to enjoy a good state of fitness for as long as possible.

10 September 2017

A Good Read

The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest

Lisbeth Salander lies in a critical condition in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital with a bullet wound to her head. She is fighting for her life in more ways than one: just two rooms away, under guard, is Zalechenko. Also, if and when she recovers she will be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. She plots revenge against the man who tried to kill her, and against the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life. 

The last of the trilogy. An excellent novel, a stunning thriller, didn’t want to put it down, but didn’t want to finish it, brilliantly written and totally gripping. The hefty 743 pages didn't flag at all.
The trilogy are the best books I have read. They score top marks on every front - character, story, atmosphere.

8 September 2017

WI 100 Years On

Last November I joined the Women's Institute. We have a small group in the village, just 11 of us. We are of similar ages, we get along and like the same things. This year marks the centenary of the founding of Essex WI and of our village group. 
A few of our members can remember their mothers, aunties or neighbours belonging to the village group. 
We decided on two celebrations - back in June we had a lunch on our normal meeting day for us, and a larger do in the village hall a couple of weeks later. 


Our tables looked very pretty


One of our ladies made these lovely jars of flowers using doilies, ribbon and netting


We all contributed towards our meal


My contribution - a bacon quiche


Desserts were Eton Mess, fruit salad and the best tiramasu I have ever tasted. 
I forgot to take photos - too busy eating them!!

The sun was shining, the doors were open, the birds were singing.
It was a truly happy afternoon. 


And an added bonus, I won the raffle, this little bag of WI goodies


A tea towel, pen, coasters, notelets, a centenary celebration book, a notebook and a lovely
WI cook book which not only has lots of delicious recipes but tells the story of how it all began, 
with details of WI resolutions and historical facts from home and abroad from 1915 to 2015. 


I love my WI brooch   

For the larger party guests were invited from WI  headquarters including our 
county Chair, trustees and advisors, members from other institutes in our group, past members, 
and a few people from the village


In true WI style an afternoon tea of M&S sandwiches, lots of homemade cakes, 
and cups of tea were available for everyone to enjoy.


We had some lovely gifts in the raffle (I wasn't lucky with this one)


A display of skills learned at institute meetings over the the past 100 years along with kitchen memorabilia.



I think every household in the land had some of those yellow Tupperware containers



My mother had scales like these, she threw them out in favour of plastic, 
being lighter and easy to clean!


Displays of past and current ongoing projects


our award winning tree from a nearby village Christmas festival last year


with a tea party theme


Handicraft projects. 
On the left, the mauve with white spots square is part of one of two quilts I have made, 
and top right is a yellow knitted lap blanket, one of eleven I have made!  


The Essex Chordsmen entertained us with us their barbershop harmony

 Madam Chair cutting our birthday cake
Everyone had a most enjoyable time.

I've had quite a busy week, working on my allotment, a funeral, WI meeting and my book group meeting. 
Today I'm feeling a bit out of sorts, I have a slight a headache. 
The weather is wet and  miserable so it's a sofa day. 
I'm going to try to catch up reading the blogs I follow.

I hope you are well and have a good weekend.

Polly x 

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