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.

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.

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.

Critter of the Day: Hoverfly

Nature’s little helicopter, floating silently before this excessively complicated construction of petals, frilly skirt, dome, pillar, sphere, hammers, nails and curly springs.
Heatwave well over. Top temperature today: 17.2 °C.
Admin2 is rereading A House of Knives by William Shaw. Admin2 is reading The Sun Chemist by Lionel Davidson.

Dandelions Old and New

Spring is well under way with little suns everywhere evolving into ghostly moons.
Admin1 is reading The House of the Hanged Woman by Kate Ellis. Admin2 was reading Among the Ruins by Ausma Zehanet Khan (a film-maker campaigning for a political prisoner is murdered in Iran) but found it, worthy as it probably was, too depressing, intellectually challenging and boring to read late at night so has switched to The Darkest Evening by Anne Cleeves.


Autumn’s bounty of inedible chestnuts.
Admin1 is reading Telling Tales by Anne Cleeves. Admin2 is reading The Reckoning by Rennie Airth: events in WW1 resonate in a nostalgic post-WW2 world where the characters wait uneasily to see what the Labour government will do.
We scored 10 on the unchanged GWQ in the new-look magazine. So it’s the Guardian Saturday Quiz now.