Looking Back.

This has been the fastest year I've ever known. We all say, "How time flies!", but I think judging from what other people have been saying, we all mean it more than we ever did. A month began, and in a flash it was over. The seasons stormed by. Was it really nine months ago I was impatiently waiting for snowdrops and daffodils? What a year!

This year, I read at a break-neck speed: too fast, far too fast. This is why I started my new blog, and yes, it does seem like yesterday! I'm pleased, though, that I made the decision to break with the old one, and this one is going very well. For one thing, as I have a post planned tomorrow, I will have managed 31 posts in 31 days. On the old blog, it took between the 12th July and 1st December to get to 31. And I've written six reviews:
I don't plan to keep up the 'post a day', ideally I'm aiming for three or four posts a week, but it does indicate quite how uninspiring I came to find my poor old blog. I think I've started this new blog well. And, even if 2014 shoots by, the books, hopefully, won't. 

I've already written a sort of statistics review of the books of 2013, so I don't need repeat that, all I will say is that 2013 was very focussed on books, but not just books. The highlights of 2013 were also birds and Paris. Ah, Paris! All my life I've wanted to go to Paris. I have seen the Eiffel Tower! I have bought a book from Shakespeare & Company (The Joy of Life by Émile Zola), and I have been to the Panthéon and visited Zola's tomb. One of my happiest moments was sitting with my boyfriend opposite Notre Dame drinking coffee. It was a truly happy time, every moment. Even getting lost. All that was February, ten months ago... But, I have very fond memories, lots of pictures, and various trinkets, and we still talk about it. I love Paris.

And 2013 was also the year of the hens! As soon as my camera is properly working I shall share their progress pictures, but for now you'll have to rely on my powers of description:

Charlotte (taken in September).
It was the 30th June when we brought our hens home. They came from a rescue centre in Scotland, they'd been there a week, and prior to that they'd spent 13 months in a battery farm. Emily hardly had any feathers: she was very scrawny, aggressive, and nervous. She had to be caught in a towel, and she made everyone's life very difficult. She was very disturbed, I suppose, and frightened in the new environment. I remember lifting her out of the box and her running away, but she quickly assumed the role of dominant hen, and for a while made Anne's life very miserable. Anne has always been a very affectionate hen, but she was also a very poorly hen. Most of the pictures I took were of her front or side, and of the three of them she looked the best, however her back and rear were entirely bald. Like Emily and Charlotte, her beak had been cut and she still has a slight burn mark from it. She was very pale and worrying lethargic, and in late September it looked as though she wouldn't survive for much longer. But she rallied round! She's no longer the smallest (oddly, it is the dominant Emily who is the smallest), and she has a red face and bright red comb. Her tail is always up, and she's very energetic and inquisitive. She's also very greedy and is spoiled shamelessly. Charlotte, whilst much improved, has been under the weather recently, but she's much stronger. She also had many feathers missing, but she was always the strongest and most peaceful hen. Emily, as I said, was aggressive - so aggressive we asked a neighbour to take her for a few days whilst we got Anne better, however within seconds Emily attacked his hens, so she had to be brought back. And Anne spent a lot of time either asleep or avoiding Emily. Charlotte happily existed with both of them and never picked a fight. That is still the case. Better still, Emily has calmed down a great deal. She is very cuddly, almost seems protective of the other two, and though Charlotte hates to be picked up, she does enjoy sleeping on my knee. 

I am, it's obvious, very proud of my hens. I think it's the best thing I've done this year. I knew getting ex-battery hens was a good thing to do, but I never thought they'd be so much fun: so loving, so playful, and so sweet. They're good hens with strong personalities and they've settled very well. I'm so happy with them, and I can't wait to share their progress pictures! Their feathers are beautiful - Emily is quite dark with cream speckles, Anne is bright red, and Charlotte has cream almost paisley patters on her back. They're very beautiful.

The budgies have also had a good year - Oliver went into the aviary for the first time in April and he never looked back! All of them love it, and was excruciating getting them back in at night. George has also been a very good bird, and has learnt a great many phrases, his favourite at present is either "It! Is! Cold!" or "It's! Not! Cold!" depending on his mood (and not the temperature). George will be fourteen next year (very young for a parrot), and the budgies will be two (technically Trotwood is probably two about now, but I judge it by when we got them, so March will be Trot's official birthday, Myshkin in August, and Oliver in October). 

And, finally, 2013 was also the year I saw a tiger! In June we went to see Anne Brontë's grave in Scarborough, and there's a zoo nearby. I think 2013 was also a good year for literary pilgrimages, seeing both Zola's tomb and Anne Brontë's grave. It was lovely there, and right next to a street called Paradise, oddly. I loved going, and I'm looking forward to revisiting Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall next year, as well as reading some of her poetry.

So, 2013 was a good year. Of course there were downsides, how could all of those days have been perfect? But I'm grateful for all of them. 


  1. I've been enjoying reading about Anne, Emily and Charlotte from the moment you got them! I hope you continue writing about them next year. Also, this photo of the budgie (forgive me, I don't remember which one of them it is) is my favourite - such a determined step :)

    1. I will write about them lots, I'm sure :)

      And that's Oliver, there's another one of him here :)

    2. Oliver is so handsome! :)

  2. Oh those poor hens! I have chickens (20 and a rooster). I feel for them like I do my inside doggy. This year has gone very fast. I think the older I get the faster they go. Try not to blink! :) Happy New Year!

    1. I feel the same (about the hens and the year!). Happy New Year! :)

  3. Hah! It's not just me! 2013 was a strange, exciting, fast year!
    I had the best literary pilgrimage possible this year: the highlight of my trip to Cambridge was a stop at Poets' Corner. I almost cried out of happiness, especially at Dickens's grave.

    And may I just say that the hens' names seem to fit them perfectly? :)

    1. They do, don't they? :) I wondered if they would when I named them...

      I've never seen Dickens' grave, but I'd like to. But I was very moved standing next to Zola and Anne Bronte's.

  4. 2013 did absolutely sail past. Scary fast. But all the very best for you and all your loved ones both feathered and not, for 2014.

  5. 2013 has been a whirlwind but I would not change a thing.

    I'm pleased you're feeling more inspired with your new blog and long may it continue for you! And I love hearing about the hens :) My family have always had chicks and this year we rescued some ex-battery hens who were not healthy to start with but are absolutely flourishing now. It's really lovely to see.

    All the best for 2014!

    1. It's so good to watch their progress, isn't it? Charlotte, the hen who has been under the weather, seems to have almost recovered now. Her comb and face are a bit pale still, but suddenly she's absolutely HUGE!


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