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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Courgette · Photography

The first courgette

Three years ago I tried growing courgettes for the first time. I bought a packet of seeds, put two seeds in the ground, and two plants grew up which produced about 80 courgettes between them. I was amazed by the success and keen to try again the following year. Unfortunately, on my second attempt slugs ate the plants before they could bear fruit, and the same thing happened the year after.

This year, hopeful of beating the slugs, I tried planting a couple of seeds in pots instead. Only one of them came up, but it began growing into a healthy-looking plant. By the time it was big enough to start fruiting, I transplanted it into a space next to where some lettuces had been growing well with no sign of slug damage.

There are now several courgettes growing happily on the plant and today I harvested my first one of the season. It formed part of a vegetable pasta dish which, if I’d thought of it soon enough, I’d have photographed to add to this post.

courgette
First homegrown courgette of 2018.