Mossy Stone

Lots of small-time organisms growing on a wall.
Admin1 is reading Cold Water by Dave Hutchinson, the fifth book in his highly impressive and eerily prophetic Fractured Europe series. This is from the first volume, published in 2014:

The early years of the twenty-first century brought a symphony of slamming doors. Economic collapse, paranoia about asylum seekers — and, of course, GWOT, the the ongoing Global War On Terror — had brought back passport and immigration checks of varying stringency, depending on whose frontiers you were crossing. Then the Xian Flu had brought back quarantine checks and national borders as a means of controlling the disease; it had killed […] between twenty and forty million people in Europe alone. It had also effectively killed Schengen  and kicked the already somewhat rickety floor out from under the EU.

Europe in Autumn, p27

This was written pre-Brexit, pre-COVID. There’s an interesting (if somewhat academic) analysis of the series in relation to Brexit here.
Admin2 is reading Babel by RF Kuang, but gave up halfway through because it was so stupendously bossy; with the author and all her characters lecturing the reader and each other on linguistics, racism, sexism, colonialism, imperialism etc. To be fair, it was set in a university (an alternative Oxford in Victorian times) so some characters were lecturers, but still. Show, not tell.
We ate roast chicken and squidgy chocolate pear pudding again and scored 11.5 on the GSQ. Bob was quizmaster and did pretty well.

Watching the Birdies

It’s Birdwatching Weekend so here is a bird and a nest (probably not related).
Admin1 is reading The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Rowbotham, which was compulsively page-turning (read in an evening) but didn’t have much else going for it.
Admin2 is reading The Kingdoms, a bloody-gory wibbly-wobbly twisty-turny time-travelling tour-de-force by the incomparable Natasha Pulley.

Glow!

A peculiar glow in the night sky turns out to be common in all cities that have sports grounds and is the reflection of grass-growing illumination on the Headingley rugby pitch a couple of miles away.
Admin1 is reading The Water Clock by Jim Kelly, a book neither of us remember buying which has lain on the windowsill getting slightly foxed for a couple of years. A very chilly crime book with a reporter protagonist, set in the frozen fens of East Anglia; a pretty good read though.
Admin2 is reading Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths.

新年快樂


Gongxi facai everybody! Our Chinese New Year Banquet for the Year of the Rabbit included fried rice, fried noodles, sweet and sour pork, mushroom chicken, tea eggs, har gow, siu mai and jiaozi, with cheesecake for afters.
Admin2 has been reading She and Her Cat by Makoto Shinkai and Naruki Nagakawa, just to check it was OK before giving it to Audrey in her red packet. It was a comforting story about four lonely women whose lives improve when cats move in.
We scored 9 on the GSQ. Sad!

Sun…

Seen through the morning fog and a few filters: the Sun with a massive sunspot, 5 times the size of the Earth.

…Light

And here is The Light (shopping/hotel/cinema complex which banned Admin2 from taking photos in case there were celebrities hanging out there, coz we all know celebs hate being photographed) lit up by a low sun yesterday when our solar panels hit 0.92kWh, best since last November.
Admin1 is reading The Kingdoms and Admin2 is reading The Lost Future of Pepperharrow in our ongoing Natasha Pulley fest.

Happy Orthodox New Year

Another rainbow. It is also the day of our belated celebration of Audrey’s birthday, when we gave her 2 books she’d already been given and various other quite dangerous things, ate pasta and fruit salad and scored 12 on the GSQ.
Admin1 is reading A Divided Spy by Charles Cummings. Admin2 is reading The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley.

White Clouds Black Tree

Admin1 is reading The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley, a thoroughly enjoyable story of a Victorian telegraph clerk who gets mixed up in Irish bombings, Japanese imperial politics and the search for the luminiferous ether. There’s also a splendid clockwork octopus — NP seems to like octopuses/octopi/octopodes. It’s beautifully written, with a lovely dry humour.
Admin2 is reading Lessons by Ian McEwan, the fifth book by a 70+ man since Christmas, and the third whole life story of an underachiever. The overriding theme of all is failure with a pinch of redemption.

Awakening

We missed the fabulous celebration of culture because none of the publicity reached us and we saw nothing from our western windows. But here is Christmas Lights Man always ready with his illuminated greenery to enlighten us.
Admin1 is reading Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths (yet another tale of a schooldays murder and its repercussions in adult life) and Admin2 is reading A Heart Full of Headstones by Ian Rankin. Hearty reads all round.
[Update: a couple of days have gone by and nothing photogenic has presented itself, so just a note that we scored 10 (improvement) on the GSQ. Now reading new books so someone must do something tomorrow.]

Happy New Year

A rainbow marks the dawn of another year. 2022 had up and downs, from 39.2 to -5.5 °C, but it was our sunniest ever year, 1,537.343kWh.
Admin1 is reading Streets of Darkness by AA Dhand, a very grim crime story set in Bradford’s Asian community. Admin2 is reading The Old Enemy by Henry Porter.
Update next day: We missed our family dinner because they were all ill in various ways. Today they were recovered enough to eat stroggers and peach cake and do the quiz at which we scored a pathetic 8.5.

Streets of Darkness

The Moon and Jupiter shine down from above and the lights of the city twinkle in the distance. Streets of Darkness is also the title of the book Admin2 is reading, by AA Dhand, about crime and drugs and violence and riots in Bradford, which always seems like a nice place when we visit.
Admin1 is reading The Old Enemy by Henry Porter.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

A blackbird finds a tasty snack on our lawn.
Admin1 is reading Empire State by Henry Porter. Admin2 has been reading Sixteen Horses by Greg Buchanan but is probably going to abandon it because:
The one-sentence paragraphs.
And the unfinished remarks___.
And because it is so ponderously literary and slow.
And also because it is about cruelty to animals.
No fun.

Christmas Dinner 2.0

The table is set with a red bedsheet, flowers and napkins folded into Christmas trees (thanks Guida) and the cats are first up for the forthcoming feast of chicken, roast potatoes, Yorkshires, gravy and two veg, followed by trifle. Dave was too sick to participate except on the phone but we managed to score a creditable 12 on the last quiz of the year, bringing our average to 10.1730769230769 according to the spreadsheet. Gifts were exchanged, drinks were drunk and crackers (containing no plastic or useless metal things but impossible origami instead) were pulled and so that was Christmas.
Admin1 is reading A Heart Full of Headstones by Ian Rankin and Admin2 is reading Bournville by Jonathan Coe with great pleasure. Thanks us.

Oh, will your magic Christmas tree be shining gently all around?


So this is Christmas and most of those packages under the tree turned out to be books which was a great boon to both of us; thank you Admins 1 and 2.  And no duplicates!

Below is our simple dinner for two: roast pork, potatoes, Yorkshires, carrots, sprouts, cauliflower, stuffing, pigs in blankets, glasses of port and lashings of gravy followed by — after three attempts — a flaming gold-dusted gin and champagne Christmas pudding three years past its sell-by date and a bit fossilised but still tasty, served with clotted cream and brandy butter. How full we feel now!

Best Clouds Ever: Ukrainian Flag

Those waving fields of elephant grass in the hot sunshine is a contrast to the cold wet miserable weather in these parts.
Admin1 is reading The Half Life of Valery K by Natasha Pulley, a terrific book about a (real) nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union in the 1950s and its aftermath in the 1960s. It’s located in and near Chelyabinsk, which I’d only previously come across in relation to the 2013 meteor strike. An author well worth investigating further.