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.
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!
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.
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.]
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.
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.
Five years later we play Risk again, but dinner is served and nobody conquers the world. Meanwhile we do the quiz and score at least 13 on a day when the temperature also exceeded 13 after days and days of frost.
Admin2 is reading The Half Life of Valery K by Natasha Pulley.
Our pudding today was straight out of yesterday’s Guardian and set us up to score 10 on yesterday’s Guardian Saturday Quiz.
Admin1 is rereading Remembrance Day by Henry Porter. Admin2 is rereading The Fear Index by Robert Harris.
The skull beneath the skin of creepy Bob, who had been enjoying his mum’s face-painting skills and was brandishing a Santa’s skull balloon. Dave was ill and absent from our family meal this week, so we scored a pathetic 8 on the GSQ.
Admin1 is reading Shrines of Gaiety (excellent as always) by Kate Atkinson (who still loves her parenthetical remarks).
Today the family all tested negative so were back around the table eating stroganoff and parkin. It was a joy to see them all again and against the odds of our ignorance we scored 10.5 on the GSQ.
Admin1 is rereading Unseen Academicals by Sir Terry Pratchett. Admin2 is rereading My Idea of Fun by Will Self; a nasty book from an era of nasty books.
Taken on Admin1’s new phone, a view over the rooftops to a misty Gledhow Valley Lake, looking like a Chinese painting.
Sadly Gez had the corona so we missed our family meal and did the quiz over the phone: 12 points, including several contributions from the invalid. Yay!
Admin1 is reading Going Postal by Sir Terry Pratchett. Admin2 is reading The Dark Remains by William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin.
All day we have been veiled in fog. A man came round to cut off the top of the laurel tree in the centre of the picture so the sight has changed and Admin1 has animated the picture on the webcam so the site has changed too.
Admin1 is rereading Wyrd Sisters by Sir Terry Pratchett. Admin2 is reading Vacant Possession by Dame Hilary Mantel, which is also wyrd.
We scored 9 on the GSQ.
The moon shining down in a misty sky. This morning was properly foggy.
We had our family meal of chicken, bacon and broccoli and apple meringue (we are constantly trying out new recipes to get shot of our glut of apples) and scored a magnificent THIRTEEN on the GSQ.
Admin1 is rereading Monstrous Regiment by Sir Terry Pratchett. Admin2 is rereading Beyond Black by Dame Hilary Mantel, which is beyond brilliant.
This scary puppet joined us for our family meal of meatloaf and fruit salad.
Admin2 is reading The Pursuit of William Abbey by Claire North.
We scored 10 on the GSQ.
A morning fog blurs the turning leaves.
Admin1 is rereading The Truth by Sir Terry Pratchett. Admin2 is rereading Stars and Bars by William Boyd.
We only scored 8.5 on the GSQ, but we are still in double figures — just.
Admin2 came home from Light Night to find that Admin1 had done his own illuminations. What a lightful surprise!
We had an exquisite chicken and leek pie for our family meal and scored an amazing eleven on the GSQ.
Admin1 is rereading Thud! by Sir Terry Pratchett. Admin2 is rereading Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd.
The almost-full moon through a veil of cirrus, and a planet so close it looks like a little ball.
Admin1 is rereading Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett. Admin2 is rereading The Evidence by Christopher Priest.
Next day: the family came round for stroggers and sticky toffee apple pudding and we scored a respectable 10 on the GSQ.
Cheeky little critter surrounded by the detritus of its feast. Now that our hedge is gone they just hang around the house.
Admin1 is reading Judas 62 by Charles Cumming.
We scored 10 on the GSQ.
A nocturnal predator enjoying a daytime doze among our overgrown ivy.
Admin1 is reading The Cliff House (should be called Cliff Hanger) by Chris Brookmyre. Admin2 is reading Run Time by Catherine Ryan Howard; filming by gaslight in a cabin in the woods.
After allowing recovery time for agonising jabs, we did the GSQ with family support and scored 12.5. Better and better.
The leaves are turning, and this one has a spangle of glittering dewdrops. Winter is coming but the sun is shining and our solar panels have made more money this year than in any year before.
Admin1 is reading The Lost Man of Bombay by Vaseem Khan.
We scored 12 on the GWQ. A return to form!
An evil spider with a web like lightning and an underbelly with glowing eyes is sucking the life out of a helpless trussed-up bluebottle.
We know how that poor fly felt. We scored 6.5 on the GSQ; our worst score this year that sees our return to single figures.
A young dunnock trying out our unpopular bird food.
Admin2 is reading Girls Who Lie by Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir; a cunning and clever book about lying girls.
We scored 9.5 on the GSQ. Still in double figures — just.
Admin2 took this unprocessed photo of the Chapeltown carnival with the camera accidentally on night setting. It could pass for an 18th century engraving if the distant sound stage and dancing pen were picturesque ruins, the white vans were livestock and the clothes were not quite so modern.
Admin2 is reading This Is the Night They Come for You by Robert Goddard.
We scored a commendable 11 on the GSQ.
An iridescent cloud shimmers above golden linings and a smoking chimney.
Admin1 is rereading the magical The Secret Commonwealth by Phillip Pullman, which ends on a cliffhanger with still no sequel in sight. Covid has something else to answer for.
And at last we scored 11.5 on the GSQ, bringing our score back to double figures. Good work everyone!
A bird reaching for the berries on the elder tree on another 32 degree day. It all falls apart tomorrow.
Admin2 is rereading the marvellous Piranesi by Susanna Clarke.
We scored 9.5 on the GSQ with backing from G&D. Well done everyone.