Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Hello July

I have joined a book group and discovered a renewed love of reading. It was organised by my dear friend Abigail and there are six of us, scattered across the country, and so we meet via Zoom. It's not quite the same as all being in the same room but I don't think it particularly impacts on the conversation or amount of wine drunk. We chose two books each which have been randomly allotted to different months, and our first title was Our House by Louise Candlish. It's a pretty good thriller, well plotted and with an excellent twist, although I did think it could have done with being one hundred pages shorter. But good. Our next title was my choice: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I'm half way through and absolutely loving. It is one of the best books I have read in years, one to keep and read again, one which is enjoyable but you learn so much from. I'll admit I'm relieved...imagine if I had recommended a dud? The book after that is Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson. I remember when this was published and I must've read it soon after, as it was more than twenty years ago. I also remember feeling underwhelmed and like I'd missed something, so I'm quite keen to read it again and see if I like it more on a second reading. Not for book group, but I also just bought Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo which I'm really excited to read. Have you read any of these? Do you belong to a book group?

Reading aside, it's been a so-so week. We had a mini, mid-week heatwave, two days of gloriously hot weather when I was at work, which was swiftly followed by a weekend of wind and rain and a feeling of restlessness and frustration that wouldn't go away. I am still finding this strange nearly-normal much harder than the initial lockdown, but I have to be patient and count my blessings and, as always, when I stop and think about it and look back at the photos I've taken, there have been so many good things, including:

:: an afternoon at the beach and my first sea swim of the year

:: brightly painted beach huts

:: swim suits and sandals drip drying on the line

:: balmy summer evenings where I walk barefoot around the garden watering the plants

:: my first sweet pea (thank you for the tips)

:: chatty dog walks with this one

:: and a rare photo of a natural smile

:: An afternoon in Chichester with Bella. It was quiet and we wandered around a couple of shops including my favourite Winter's Moon and Waterstones, got a take away drink (coffee for me, milkshake for her) and tried to pretend it was a little bit normal.

 :: I bought a few bits and bobs - small, practical, well made things that I will use over and over again, like a little window sill watering can, simple candle holder, woven bowl to hold the detritus that gathers on the hall table, and a wooden coffee scoop.

:: my crochet top is coming on nicely and I think it may be finished in time to wear in the right season! (It's this one.)

And now it's July and there are only three more weeks left at school before the six week summer holiday starts. 


  1. Some lovely photos & I like to see a post pop to know you are all doing OK in this new normal, which definitely trying & hard to realise life will never be like it was. I'm very grateful for my blogging pals & their chatty posts & photos. Love that little watering can, as it's just a good size for house plants. Your crochet top is a pretty colour & look forward to seeing the finised product. Thank you, take care, stay safe & huggles from down under.

  2. These photos all look wonderful. We're in the midst of winter in Melbourne, Australia but have had some glorious winter sun in which we have escaped the house to walk along the beach. The rest of Australia is opening up greatly here except for our state. 36 suburbs have gone into lockdown again for four weeks as there has been a spike of 40- 70 cases a day for 10 days. Such a shame. My son was mean't to visit my MIL for a few days as it is winter holidays here but she is surrounded by the suburbs in lockdown (hers isn't as it contains our major airport) so we weren't comfortable about that.
    I've made a note of some of those books you have. I belong to a book club and we are reading "the Henna Artist' at the moment. Quite enjoyable. I must say one of the best books I've read over the years is 'The Dovekeepers' by Alice Hoffman, 'The nightingale
    ' by Kristin Hannah, The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens to name a few.

  3. Your photos shout "Summer!!" and are lovely to look at. I want to eat ice cream or drink a well chilled coke zero when I look at them!
    The shop looks like my kind of shop, neat and full of beautufil things.
    As for the books, I have "Behind the Scenes" here on my shelf and read it many years ago, loved it the first time round and want to read it again. Kate Atkinson's books require a particular mind set, I find, to get into; but once you do, you can not stop thinking about them.

  4. Pretty nice catch up on June. The shop looks very good. And the beach even better.

  5. I've been in a book club for a few years now. We've only met once virtually during lockdown and we didn't talk books at all. I guess we are on hold right now. Good job to you ladies for making it work over zoom! Also, your basil looks so robust! Mine, also sitting in a can in the windowsill looks so sad.

  6. I've been a member of a bookclub for years until a new member didn't fit in and it all fell apart. Which was a pity. Love the Tee, the summer pics f your kids and that little shop. I've seen my kids for the first time since 13 weeks. Gosh how I missed them. Social distancing with friends and still so happy to see them. I'm a hugbug so difficult to remember to keep distance. But we did. Same weather here, sweltering hot and bizar cold rainy days. The beach, I so miss it. Thanks for the lovely view in your life, almost normal, almost eh.

  7. I'm currently reading Girl, Woman, Other and it is brilliant. One of the good things about lockdown is the amount of books I've managed to read.

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  9. Lovely to catch up on your doings! I'm looking forward to seeing your pink top finished - I love the design.

  10. Gorgeous photos as always, and what a lovely shop. I LOVE the sideboard in the shop window, it would definintely have come home with me :-)

  11. Those first few pictures - the blue, blue buildings with the blue, blue sky - really blew me away! Love how you share your family adventures in such a beautiful way! Thanks so much!

  12. Our bookgroup read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens as suggested by Susie. We all loved it and gave us some great discussions!

  13. I always enjoy seeing your photos Gillian. Lovely to see a happy young man with his mum. Glad you were also able to spend some girlie time with Bella too. Thinking of you in the last few weeks at school before the Summer break x

  14. I've read quite a few of Kate Atkinsons' books, and can heartily recommend 'A God in Ruins' and 'Life after Life' both of which are hugely emotional and have slightly unusual ways of telling their stories.
    I have also loved her Jackson Brodie detective series, starting with Case Histories.
    I found her most recent novel less convincing (can't remeber the name, published 2019) and I still haven't yet managed to get past 20 pages of 'Behind the Scenes'.
    Other books I have loved in the last couple of years -
    A gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles,
    and the amazing 'All the light we cannot see' by Anthony Doerr.
    Happy reading!

  15. Read 'Behind the scenes ...' when it was first published and remember I thought it was a bit odd at the time. Belong to a book club too and we have had some interesting reads, 'Beneath a Scarlet Sky' by Mark Sullivan was a good one. Thing about a book club is that you read books you would not have chosen yourself! Some you enjoy, others you don't.

  16. Two more weeks of school to go here. It is very strange at school teaching Year 6 full time. I have not a minute to spare at the moment. So glad you got a sweet pea - here's to many more. Jo x

  17. Lovely photos as always, Gillian!
    Margaret P

  18. I think online (book) clubs are the new norm. I just started my book club up again and we're doing it online. I've never really been one to join in on book clubs, but we've had fun in the past and it just seemed the thing to do. Beautiful pictures! I'm going to check out some of your book club recommendations!

  19. Just landed on your blog by chance and I'm delighted to read about your new book club. I've been a member of the same one for 15 years and still get a real buzz from our monthly meetings. We read Americanah last year and it produced some lively discussion. We keep in touch by email and phone and I do doorstep book swaps with some older members who are still shielding. A lot of doorstep chat and 'air hugs' keep us connected. I've put your other book titles on my ever growing book list. Good luck with your new group and happy reading.

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