Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Edinburgh Writers and Poets and Outlander

Edinburgh, part two (of three)!

Today's photos are all linked to writers and poets.

World's End pub

Doom Bar beer, which I was drinking because that's what Detective Cormoran Strike drinks in the Robert Galbraith novels.
Strike does not have a sleeping baby in the vicinty.

Hamilton and Young, jewellery designers, on the Royal Mile, and their Outlander display!
I bought a lovely pair of Dragonfly in Amber earrings, a couple of gifts, and a Craigh na Dun Christmas ornament!

Our first logo for the Outlander Switzerland group, with Graham McTavish's appreciation!

Where Johnson once stayed...

Lord Byron's costume at the Writer's Museum

The poet Fergusson and the churchyard
Where the poet Shelley stayed when he ran away with Mary

I haven't read any Fergusson yet, but I've actually been doing rather well with my new ROW80 goal of reading the books I already own -- and with my hope from last year's review of books read that I would read more poetry.

Here are the latest poems:

Career by Yevtushenko
Human life in this century by Yevtushenko
Willow by Anna Akhmatova
Sonnet LXVI by Shakespeare
Sir Walter Raleigh to His Son
Fair Jenny by Robbie Burns
MacPherson's Farewell by Robbie Burns
O Wert Thou In The Cauld Blast by Robbie Burns
The Rolling English Road by G. K. Chesterton
Ode on Venice by Lord Byron

Have you read -- or written -- a poem lately?

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Edinburgh Castle, A to Z Challenge Sign Up, and IWSG Day

Vvery soon now, before we know it, the A to Z Challenge will be here once more!

Have you signed up?

I did, and made a rookie error, listing myself as BO. I thought the codes applied to our themes, but apparently they apply to our blogs in general. Which is difficult, as I'm more than just BO. I'm also HM, PO, PR, TR, and WR. Her Majesty's Personal Poet, Traveller, Writer, and Reader. But my A to Z theme will be BO. Yes, the reason I keep repeating it is that I hear snippets of the Seinfeld episode about the smelly car every time I say/write BO. Body odour!

Giggling aside, my theme will be about books (what else?) and... well, the details will have to wait for reveal day.

The A to Z Challenge list is open now, go sign up! Nearly 200 people have joined since I added my name, and there were 300 people before me. So exciting! Such a simple-seeming idea, and it keeps getting bigger.

As Alex said: "The brainchild of Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behaviour). And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter "A". April 2 is "B", April 4 is "C", and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random -- just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.
The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE."

This all sort of links to Insecure Writer's Support Group Day, I think. One, blog writing certainly counts as writing! Two, reading and travelling are all about filling the writer's well. I've been making some great headway on my read-the-books-I-own-before-buying-more goal for ROW80. Except for one hiccough -- I added Julian Barnes' newest to my wishlist, then saw it at the bookstore the next day, and bought it. Sometimes I do this, then set the books aside and they pile up. Reading is such a funny thing, always dependent on moods and whims. The mood was right, this time, and I started reading The Noise of Time that day. I've nearly finished! I'd recommend it to anyone interested in history, music, Russia, Shostakovich, Art for Art's sake, Art as a circle, Art vs Power and/or small stories that are great in their smallness.

As for travel, a couple of months ago we were in Edinburgh! I've got photos for other posts of the city and some side trips that we took; for today, some photos of a rainy day at Edinburgh Castle:

General Haig

View from a distance the day after

The Whisky Experience

What kinds of books are you in the mood for?

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Palais des Nations, Sunrise over Lac Leman and the Alps, and Blog Statistics Humour


I've been an admirer of sunsets all my life, which comes from summers spent in Kusadasi and watching the sun set into the sea every night (my grandmother used to tell me and my sister that if you skipped a stone on the water and made a wish, then stayed silent on the walk home, your wish would come true. Now I wonder if she wasn't inventing the silence bit just to keep two young girls from chattering endlessly!). The sun rose over the mountains and its colours weren't easily visible from our house.

I've shared photos of the sunrise over our Swiss village before, and quite a few photos of the grounds of the Palais des Nations, Ariana Park, as well as of the entrance to the United Nations. Oddly, though, even though I've taken quite a few photos, I don't think I've ever posted photos of the sunrise over Lac Leman and the Alps before.

Before that, though, I thought I'd collate some random blog-related stuff.

First up, a new collection of funny blog spam. I last shared a few of these Funniest, Most Ridiculous Blog Spam Comments in 2012. Here're the latest:

I hardly ever check my blog statistics, I suppose because it's all I can do to keep up with posting and commenting; trying to curate my visitors and attract ever more comments is not in the plan right now.

Speaking of plans, I did notice that I omitted any mention of ROW80 last week. I'm alternately slacking on writing and embarking on a new reading goal. I've tried this before (180 books to read by 2015), but now that I'm more seriously looking into options for shipping our library out of storage and back into our home, I decided to tackle once again the matter of reading books I already own. Already since we've come to Switzerland I've attended four book fairs at the library and hauled home a bunch of paperbacks. What's the sense in doing that if the TBR pile topples over quicker than I can read any of the books in it? Best to keep adding to wishlists and not actually buying any more. Out of 60-80 books (it depends on the method of counting; sometimes I like to be factual and count every single book, other times I figure there's no sense including the books that I didn't choose myself and am not likely to read at all), I've already read five in the last two weeks. All that to say my goal for the next little while is to read up a storm. And then with a clear conscience get some of the books floating towards the top of the wishlist (the longer the list sits, the more the items in it move around, but certain authors always stay near the top), especially Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warning, and the brand new Julian Barnes, The Noise of Time.

Back to the statistics. In the last five years or so, the main search terms that brought visitors to the blog were the following:

borek, and it's accurate spelling, börek

jamie fraser

palos de la frontera

natalie wood

akzhana abdalieva

severus snape

yertle the turtle


cat with book

Some of these are only to be expected (cats, books, Jamie Fraser, and my recipe for börek). Palos de la Frontera is the port from which Christopher Columbus first sailed, and at which my character Rosa first learned the truth of her paternity.

Akzhana Abdalieva is an artist from Kazakhstan. There's precious little information about her online. Severus Snape must be because of my post entitled Severus Snape. That Is All.

Bonifacio must be due to the gorgeous photo of a ship in sail that I took in Corsica many years ago. Oddly enough, I can't find the post now. Comes from not ever having using tags in my posts. Sigh.

Natalie Wood I can't explain. The only time I've ever mentioned her is in reference to Rosa.

And Yertle the Turtle comes up in a series I was doing of famous authors and musicians and their favourite books; Dr Seuss was one of drummer and manager of Spirit of the West Vince Ditrich's picks.

Then there are the top ten posts, which are apparently the following (and oddly, peaked in 2012. I wonder if that's accurate?):

Dec 16, 2012

Now for the photos! Sunshine and sunrises across the Palais des Nations:

Also, sheep

Are you an admirer of sunsets or sunrises?
What interesting things have you discovered about your own blog?

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • The Peoples of Middle-earth - Book 12 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • Edmund Campion by Evelyn Waugh
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • A Woman in Arabia: The Writings of the Queen of the Desert by Gertrude Bell
  • 12 Anne and Avonlea books by L. M. Montgomery (skimming/reread (this was free on Kindle!))
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • 11 Doctors 11 Stories by various authors (including Neil Gaiman)
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • Creed or Chaos? by Dorothy Sayers
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • Career by Yevtushenko (poem)
  • Human life in this century by Yevtushenko (poem)
  • Willow by Anna Akhmatova (poem)
  • Sonnet LXVI by Shakespeare
  • Sir Walter Raleigh to His Son (poem)
  • Fair Jenny by Robbie Burns (poem)
  • MacPherson's Farewell by Robbie Burns (poem)
  • World's End, the collected Sandman No. 8 by Neil Gaiman
  • O Wert Thou In The Cauld Blast by Robbie Burns (poem)
  • The War of the Jewels - Book 11 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • The Rolling English Road by G. K. Chesterton (poem)
  • The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes
  • A Tradition of Eighteen Hundred and Four by Thomas Hardy
  • The Hierophant by Lee-Ann Dalton (short story)
  • The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff
  • 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (reread)
  • Lonely Planet guide to Switzerland
  • Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
  • beta read!
  • Ode on Venice by Lord Byron (poem)
  • Little Miss Scatterbrain by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Little Miss Lucky by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Little Miss Trouble by Roger Hargreaves (reread)
  • Homage to Switzerland by Ernest Hemingway (short story; reread but I really don't remember it after 20 years)
  • The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier (reread)
  • Sing a Long Children's Songs
  • Emily's First Christmas
  • Up At the Villa by Somerset Maugham (novella)
  • Telling Stories by Tim Burgess
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Marble Collector by Cecilia Ahern
  • Sophie's Throughway by Jules Smith
  • Baby Animals (Little Golden Books)
  • The House That Jack Built (Little Golden Books)
  • Scuffy the Tugboat (Little Golden Books)
  • The Saggy Baggy Elephant (Little Golden Books)
  • Morgoth's Ring - Book 10 in the History of Middle Earth series by Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien (reread)
  • A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Who's A Pest by Crosby Bonsall
  • Mine's the Best by Crosby Bonsall (reread)
  • The Case of the Hungry Stranger by Crosby Bonsall (reread)
  • extracts from the diary of John Evelyn (Volume 1 of 2)
  • extracts from Lord Byron's letters about Villa Diodati
  • Pippin the Christmas Pig by Jean Little
  • Ite Missa Est by Anthony Martignetti
  • The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Red Angel by G. K. Chesterton (essay)
  • Emily's Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary
  • The Boy Who Set Out to Learn What Fear Was by the Brothers Grimm
  • The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (reread)
  • secret beta read!
  • Preludes by Wordsworth (extracts read aloud)
  • Little Miss Scatterbrain by Roger Hargreaves
  • Dance Me A Dream by Kait Nolan (ARC)
  • Once Upon A Coffee by Kait Nolan
  • England and Switzerland, 1802 by William Wordsworth (poem)
  • Once Upon A New Year's Eve by Kait Nolan
  • short story by Becky Morgan (
  • Blood In Blood Out by Brenda Novak (short story)
  • That Hell-Bound Train by Robert Bloch (short story)
  • Distraction by J. L. Campbell
  • Humble Bundle Peanuts collection (strips by Charles Schulz)
  • Peanuts Volumes I to VI (bought via Humble Bundle; very disappointing as it's mostly new strips -- how is that even allowed?!)
  • Sandals and Sangria by Talli Roland (short story)
  • Over the Hump by Talli Roland (short story)
  • issues of Journal of Inklings Studies and Amon Hen and Mallorn (Tolkien Society)
  • Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier
  • Babar and his Family by Laurent de Brunhoff
  • Illusions Lost by Byron A. Maddox (short story)
  • ongoing rereads of most board books listed last year!
  • Lost My Name book for Emily (
  • Now We Are Six by A. A. Milne
  • When We Were Very Young by A. A. Milne (reread)
  • Neil Gaiman comics on Sequential app
  • Moranology by Caitlin Moran
  • see the 2015 list and statistics at
  • see the 2014 list and statistics at
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here
  • see the 2011 statistics on
  • see the 2011 list at
  • see the 2010 list at
  • see the 2009 list at
  • also in 2009 at
  • see the 2008 list at
  • also in 2008 at
  • also in 2008 at