Monday, 15 February 2016

Weekend Wrap Up

Putting the bikes to sleep after a long day.
Okay, it's really Monday here but it is still a weekend in other parts of the world (Hawaii?) so I can hang on to its tail.

This past week was busy but all I said would happen did, plus more.  I did do the 900 km (540 mile) bike ride last weekend. We took three days and it was blazing hot especially wearing all that protective gear (that the silly people in the rest of the world don't/won't wear). It was filled with adventure. We had two bikes fall over in the petrol station, one was being filled up and petrol was spilling out of it very quickly until several men jumped on it and hoisted it up. I got out of the way.

Another man in our group was riding just a bit too fast (the ego of some 70 year old men is not much different than some of their 20 year old counterparts). He slipped off the edge of road, over corrected and flew through the air to the other side, completing a 180 degree spin and landed in a ditch opposite wrapped up in barbed wire. A horse stood nearby thinking this was a bit crazy.  (By the way. you motorbike riders in the USA who think helmets are a violation of  your civil liberties....yeah right.) I have had two friends in serious accidents and it was only their armour and helmets that saved their lives and both are happily riding again. But as this blog is not political in anyway (you fools) I digress.

Smoke along the west coast from the massive bush fires here prevented us from going into the wilderness areas on the Sunday but six of us lady bikers (all geared up) managed to get to two markets and a lovely bike show.  We had a great time even if we sweltered in the heat.  The cold beer and showers at the end of the day were only appreciated more.

Then I pretty much crashed (oops no pun intended - on the couch) on the Tuesday after the 400 km ride home.  Our roads are not straight divided highways either. They are up and down mountains and they often turn back onto themselves so 900 km here is not at all like an interstate although great fun I might add.

This week saw me leave the house only for groceries, a dinner out with friends and reading three books.  I have not read three books in one week in ages and I must say I really got the momentum going.

Here is the information about the books.

1.  The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman saw the Penguin and I living on a small island with Tom and Isabelle, off the coast of southwest Western Australia.  We really enjoyed this book but what a dilemma they faced. They are a young couple. Tom manages the light house and I really found the information about the structure and record keeping of the light house interesting. I could see the fountain pen writing in all the details into the log with a sharpened nib. The year was just after WWI.

Isabella wanted a family so bad but after three miscarriages and still births hope was fading. Then one day a dinghy washes up to shore. In it is a man who is deceased and a baby who is crying. Yes, the baby is very much alive. Well, I don't need to tell you what happens next. Isabelle is ecstatic and wants to raise the little girl as their own as she has just lost her baby and no one knows yet.  Tom is much more hesitant. He feels guilt from the death of his brothers and mates in WWI and now feels guilt over this decision. He doesn't know if the baby has a mother who is grieving or did she die overboard?

They decide to adopt the baby and the rest of the book are the consequences of that decision.  Don't worry I won't give away any spoilers but they do discover there is a woman who is grieving the loss of her Austrian husband and child. The town's people harassed him endlessly believing he was a German and he jumped into a dinghy with his daughter and rowed away to get some space.

What would you do after raising this child in isolated bliss on the island when you find out there is a mother pining for her child and husband who has no idea what happened to them?  I kept going back and forth on what I thought they should do. This book is being discussed at our book group in another week or two and I can't wait to see what others think.

2. The next book was a debut crime book by Ruth Ware. It is excellent. No gore, nothing too graphic but a monster of a mystery. I thought I had it worked out but I didn't, though the ending did not surprise me. In A Dark Wood is the name of it.  The Penguin and I attended a Hen Party in the middle of nowhere in a very modern glass house in the English countryside. It has no curtains because it sets out in the country with only very dark forest around it. It is winter. Clare is having her Hen Party weekend there organised by a very needy friend of Clare.   Flo is really disturbed. She even dresses like Clare. Nina a doctor and the protagonist, Nora,  gets an email to attend this Hen party. She has not seen Clare since ten years previously and can not figure out why she is invited. The others at the party are Tom, a gay man happily married to his partner; Melanie who has a six month old infant at home and she is leaving him for the first time. So we have these six people. Nina and Nora decide that if each other goes to this weekend then they will go together.

It gets really creepy after that. Flo seems quite normal but then you see how haywire she starts to go.
The Penguin and I sat out in the car and watched the rest of the book because it was just a bit scary. But we did want to see what happens.  This is a great mystery.

It starts as Nora wakes up in the hospital and is trying to remember what has happened. She over hears the police guard talking at the hospital door about it "is definitely a murder." Why does she have a police guard and why is she in the hospital.  The characters are really well developed. I had really strong feelings about the ones I liked and didn't and I could not read this book fast enough. In fact I spent yesterday reading this book in one (almost- had to stop for dinner) sitting. 338 pages in one sitting. I even read it while the local news was on. It is psychological and not gory so a safe read for those who don't like graphic stuff.

3. The third book I read is also for my book club meeting coming up. It is the Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett.  I really enjoy his writing and his sense of humour. The book is only 100 pages long and as my husband is working on a friend's farm today, the dogs were quiet as it's cool and rainy out, I read it in the bath.  What a pleasant little book. The Penguin took a nap but I told him about it and he thought it was something he would really like. I hadn't realised it is a true story.

Alan Bennett has an elderly street type, homeless? almost; woman hoarder living in a van on his property. (You grammar Nazi's ignore that last sentence structure).  She stays there for a number of years and it is interesting as to how he goes about his normal business with such eccentricity outside his window. As he writes at his table he can see her dilapidated van. She is a true character and I really liked her.  The main reason that our book club chose this book is the film begins with Maggie Smith here in March and we're all going to see it.  I believe we're scheduled for the 15th of the month.  I am really looking forward to it.

It amazes me how cruel some people can be to the older less fortunate people in our world yet the goodness shown by others is incredibly heartfelt.  You see both sides of the human race in this small book.  I like to think I am in the latter category. I never pass a homeless person on the street without making eye contact and smiling at them. If I can help them with food or simply kindness in the  moment I will. I am not silly enough to know I can give them all money and a better life. But I do what I can.
Just recognising that they are people and need to be treated with respect is all we should do minimally.  It is only chance that we are not in their shoes.

Well, my goodness, aren't I doing a lot of pontificating today.  I love that word. I was writing an email to my friend earlier and I used it there. I challenged her to use that word in her vocabulary today.  It's good to pontificate sometimes.

What are you reading this week and also what issues do you pontificate about?

May the Penguin watch over all of us.


  1. sounds like a great time was had by all, except for the older fellow-as i know, sometimes one forgets about the age thing; i fell and put a shoulder out of joint a while back and that reminded me. anyway, getting home is frequently, as we've found, the nicest part of the trip. and still reading too! i liked the last one your read; been there once many years ago and the kindness of strangers cannot be underestimated. this week i'm reading "the total library" by Borges; it's a collection of essays composed over his lifetime; some interesting. others not so. i'm having some question about the ones the editor selected: some duplication and very occasionally the translation seems a bit shaky. he's one of my favorites though, so overall it's an exciting read. glad you all got home safe!

  2. Love the word pontificating - one of my late husband's favourite words, along with genuflecting and nonplussed. Imagine using them all in one sentence - he could.

    What a great trip you had. Determined to return to Tasmania and see more of your wonderful state.


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