This seemed rather appropriate for the general weather conditions at the moment!
All our cats except Jasper avoid going out in the snow, but Jasper still goes out on the balcony. Not for long, it must be admitted, but he still likes to check up on the neighbourhood!
One day in December, in that time which seems to be becoming named “Twixmas” (yuck!), between ChristmasDay and New Year, I was feeling rather down so I thought that a bit of concentration on some artwork would help take me out of myself.
As later in the week I was going to see a friend whose name begins with “J” I thought I would create a Celtic knotwork J for him as a gift. I used a book called “Celtic Alphabets” as a guide, and copied the Lion’s Head design – but as J loves cats, I altered it slightly to a cat’s head. It took me a fair amount of time to get right, but in the end I was quite pleased with it.
And, yes, by the time I’d finished I had been taken out of myself! I should remember this for future times…
I haven’t done a book reveiw for SO long, and I feel rather guilty, as I have three books languishing on my “NetGalley” shelf. Since going back to work I’ve had a lot less me time, and so a lot less reading time. I read a few pages ain bed and then drop off to sleep! I also have had a few problems with my Kindle – all solved now.
So, here is my latest review; I was sent this book free-of-charge (yay!), by NetGalley, in return for an honest review:
THE WAY BACK
by Bill Whiting
I had read “Rosie” by Bill Whiting, and enjoyed it – an easy read about how a dog helped one man find his way back from grief at the loss of his wife. Well, this book has very similar themes…
The NetGalley description reads: After losing his home and savings to his lying son, widower Robin Bentley has a breakdown and is consigned to a care home for the elderly. He’s deeply depressed and has lost himself. As his health improves, he feels imprisoned and decides he must escape.
While sneaking away, his path is blocked by a scary, battle-worn bull terrier, which is being hunted by the police. Very frightened, Robin distracts its attention with food from his rucksack, and then hurriedly makes the long walk to his planned hideaway at a seaside caravan park. But the fearsome beast follows him relentlessly…
He curses his luck, but in time, realises the dog is a fellow fugitive and takes pity on it. At great sacrifice, he takes care of it and grows to love his ugly companion.
An elderly Chinese widow, living with her cat in an adjacent caravan, is very alarmed by the arrival of her scary-looking new neighbours. Many trials and misfortunes follow, and the dark side of life battles with love and companionship, to shape their future.
It is a charming story, and I found that I wanted to read more of it than my usual couple of pages a night…I was taking my Kindle to work and snatching a few minutes reading time over lunch.
It isn’t great literature, but the author captures the characters of both Robin and Lanying well, and tells their stories in an undramatic yet affecting way. I cared about both of them and wanted a happy ending for them. Butch and Bo, the two animals, also had their own characters.
I would recommend this book as a “cosy” read by the fireside, with a cup of your favourite brew. It made me feel good!
Lanying would often come out with Chinese sayings (I don’t know if they are “real” Chinese proverbs, but they have a ring of reality about them. The one which completes the book sums up the themes and feeling of the story:
If you want to be happy for an hour, take a nap.
If you want to be happy for a day, go fishing.
If you want to be happy for a year, win a fortune.
If you want to be happy for a lifetime,care for someone.
An easy 4 star read.
Our two local GPs (who are partners) have had a baby. So I made them a card:
Quite simple, but I rather like it. I don’t know whether they had a boy or a girl, so I chose suitably non-gender-related colours of yellow and lilac. The two papers were from a pad of papers I was given, the rosette from a collection bought at Noz, and the heart cut out of a card bought in Noz too. It was an engagement card, with several embossed hearts on it, which has provided many embellishments! All for 0,75€! The ribbon was cut out of a jumper! And the silver letters were also a Noz purchase.
I didn’t quite make my walking goal, but I was close enough – as you can see below. February hasn’t started too well, as I did something to my back yesterday morning, and have been in too much pain to do much moving, never mind purposeful walking! So, with February being a short month, I may not make the monthly 60 km. However, if I keep going, I can still make 600 km by the end of October. When the weather is nicer, and the evenings longer, then I will be more inclined to find time and places to walk.
However I have enjoyed my last two Wednesday walks – sadly not as long as I’d planned, as somehow it took me longer than expected to get out of the house. I’ve been having mild panic attacks, and getting extremely anxious about self-imposed tasks or targets. Stupid, I know, as they’re self imposed, but logic doesn’t come into it! Anyway, the first of the enjoyable Wednesday walk was by the Port in Roanne:
As you can see, it was a snowy day, so it had taken me longer to drive down, and I only had about 15 minutes to walk, before the first lesson I was teaching. Still, I had a brisk walk up one side of the marina. As you can see, there are barges and other boats tied up here, as many people come and over-winter here in their houseboats. We know a few of them through Friend Richard, and I met one on line through a FB group too.
The following week, I had planned to do another walk round the Port, but decided instead to walk along the “levée” at the side of the river Loire.
The river has a large flood plain now, since the hydro-electric barrages were bilt further upstream, and is quite shallow. In the past, it was a deep river, and Roanne was an important trading post ,exporting local products— wines, including casks of Beaujolais that had been shipped overland, ceramics, textiles—and after 1785, coal from St Etienne (an important mining town) which had formerly been onloaded upstream since river improvements at the beginning of the century. Sturdy goods were rafted downriver on sapinières that were dismantled after use.
This postcard shows a Sapinière on the Allier river – closeish to Roanne, but in the Auvergne. The Allier river plain is the next one along to the Loire valley.
Half the population of seventeenth and eighteenth-century Roanne depended in some way on this transportation economy: merchants and factors, carriers, carpenters and coopers, master-boatmen and their journeymen and oarsmen, and waterfront labourers. The other half were probably involved in the textile trade for which Roanne was famous, and later in the armaments industry. Like London, Roanne has a neighbourhood known as Arsenal.
Here’s an old picture of the Port (which is now where the houseboats moor) showing how busy it was.
My walk took me upstream, along the ancient levée, built as a wharf for loading and unloading. I’ve taken this picture from the upper part of the old wharf, looking down at what would have been at river level.
I can’t imagine that the Loire was tidal here – much too far inland! – but you can see the two flights of steps. One from what is now the flood plain, but would have been (I assume) under the river, up to the lower wharf. Then a further flight to the upper part
And here’s the river now.
My walk took me on a path between the river, and allotments, mostly beautifully kept, with some very smart sheds, with verandahs, patio heaters and barbecues. There were some less reputable ones too, cobbled together with various materials, but all well kept. I look forward to doing this walk again, in the springtime, but going further than I had time to on this day. I only had time to do 10 minutes one way and 10 minutes back.
I have, however, found that when I walk my knees are quite painful, and my hips also don’t feel “quite right”. I’ve generally felt more out of alignment since I’ve been doing more moving, and having seen the podiatrist, he explained that (because I haven’t changed my insoles since 2016) my walking position is all wrong. My feet are not positioned correctly, thus forcing my knees to point in different directions which twists my hips and my back. I’ve also had neck & shoulder pain, which may be connected to this. I am collecting my new orthopaedic in-soles on Monday, and I’m hoping they will help. I look forward to a miraculous improvement!!
Here’s my walking record to the end of the month:
DAY DATE DISTANCE
A total of 58.6 km isn’t bad. Some of the distances have been guesstimated a bit – a couple of the Lesley videos stop halfway through and go into something else, so I’m not sure quite how far I’ve walked, but still…I think 58.6 is about right.