Nature · Perthshire · Photography · Scotland · Weather

Friday photo: cow forecast

Apparently, more than 60% of Brits believe that cows lying down indicates rain on the way. According to the Meteorological Office, the position of cattle in a field has nothing to do with weather conditions and probably means they’re just tired and needing a rest. I took this photograph yesterday morning when the sky began to look quite threatening. It did rain, but not until about six hours later. Make of that what you will.

cow forecast
Forecasting the weather, or just having a rest? Cows lying down near Blairgowrie, Perthshire.
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Fife · Flower · Garden · Nature · Photography · Scotland

Friday photo: musk mallow

Yesterday, while wandering around the magnificent walled garden at Cambo Estate near St Andrews in Fife, I came upon a drift of beautiful pale pink musk mallows (Malva moschata). I bought a packet of musk mallow seeds earlier this year and am looking forward to growing them in the spring. Mine are white with just a touch of pink in the middle, but I wouldn’t mind some of these lovely pale pink ones as well.

musk mallow
Pale pink musk mallows at Cambo Estate, near St Andrews, Fife.
Book review · Non-fiction

Book review: ‘The ascent of Everest’ by John Hunt

‘The ascent of Everest’ is a first-hand account of the 1953 expedition to Mount Everest, when Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary became the first men to set foot on the highest point on Earth.

Written in engaging style by the expedition’s leader, I found it difficult to put down (despite it being rather a heavy hardback for bedtime reading), and enjoyed it immensely.

the ascent of everest
‘The ascent of Everest’ by John Hunt (1953)

This weighty tome, which explains how the mountaineering project came about and how two remarkable climbers eventually reached the summit on 29 May 1953, was completed in just four months following the successful expedition.

The author, John Hunt, was a Colonel in the British army when he was chosen by the Joint Himalayan Committee to lead and organise the trek, and by all accounts he was an excellent choice. His warmth, humour, and appreciation of his fellow men comes across clearly in his writing, alongside his exceptional mountaineering knowledge and outstanding organisational abilities.

Although there were technical aspects of the story I didn’t fully comprehend, the sense of adventure carried me along from beginning to end. I think I especially appreciated reading it while tucked up and cosy in bed, imagining those brave chaps shivering in wind- and snow-battered tents on a hazardous mountainside. Incidentally, the chapter dealing with the final ascent was written by Edmund Hillary, one of only two men who could have written it from personal experience.

I’ve read a couple of other books about Everest, but this was one I had wanted to read for a long time and I was delighted when I found it in a second-hand bookshop recently. I would heartily recommend it to anyone interested in tales of adventure and exploration.

Architecture · Fife · Photography · Scotland

Friday photo: cobbles

A cobbled lane in the conservation village of Culross, in Fife. Walking round Culross (pronounced Koo-ross) is like stepping back in time. Many of the old walls and buildings date back to the 16th and 17th Centuries and there are lots of little lanes and curious features to be discovered.

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A cobbled lane in the Fife village of Culross.
Photography · Scotland

Friday photo: duck bath

I was delighted the other day, when visiting the farm shop tearoom at Trumperton Forge in Angus, to see that the farmyard animals had been given a way of cooling down in the hot weather. Several large plastic containers filled with water were being enjoyed by the ducks.

duck in pod
Cooling down on a hot day in Angus.

 

Book review · Fiction

Book review: ‘Rooted in evil’ by Ann Granger

Ann Granger has written over 30 detective novels and this is one of her most recent, published in 2017 and featuring the sleuthing duo, Campbell and Carter .

Rooted in evil
‘Rooted in evil’ by Ann Granger (2017)

When Carl Finch is found dead in a forest, it initially looks as if he’s committed suicide. A gun lies over his body, but something about the way he’s lying suggests the body has been moved since he was killed.

Superintendent Ian Carter and Inspector Jess Campbell start investigating the likely suspects, starting with Carl’s sister and brother-in-law, both of whom seem to be holding something back in their interviews with the police.

What I liked best about this book was the setting. Events unfold in the Cotswolds, an attractive rural part of southern England and a popular location for crime novels. There’s a nice feel of old England about it, with a close-knit community, country pubs and pleasant pastoral scenery.

This is the first Campbell and Carter mystery I’ve read and I didn’t get a particularly strong impression of the two main characters.  Perhaps if I read another in the series I’ll get a better idea of their personalities.

I was slightly bemused by the very end of the story, although pleased that Ann Granger didn’t allow herself to be tempted into an obvious ending. On the whole, I enjoyed this book, found it hard to put down, and am looking forward to trying another in the series.

* * * * *

In January I made a resolution to post at least 12 book reviews on this blog, and read 100 books this year. I’m more or less on course with the reviews (I’ve done 6 to date), but I’m a long way off the reading total, which would ideally be over 50 by now, but is in fact only 33. I’m going to have to make a big effort if I’m to reach 100 by the end of December.