Saturday, 1 February 2014


I'm glad to start by saying that it does at least feel like February. The year, so far, is not going at the break-neck speed of 2013. And the weather is about right - the wind is howling through the trees, rain lashing down, and Lord, it is cold! But, some good news - this week I saw the first snowdrops! Very very heartening. 

I have to be honest - January was not a good month. As I am quite superstitious, I did expect this, though that's not helping greatly! At the minute, though, I'm just working on keeping things calm and peaceful, and trying to isolate what is stressful rather than let it sit with me day in and day out. This is not an easy thing to do. But, as I say, I anticipated that it would be a difficult month, which is why from very early on I've been more looking forward to spring rather than feeling bad that 2014 has got off to such a difficult start, and I'm just trying to accept that this is meant to be so. 

As I mentioned, one of my New Year's resolutions was to work on a task every day that would contribute to the ultimate spring clean. I am so glad I did this, because the house is now virtually junk free! In fact, I think I might go as far as to say it is junk free, although I've not quite finished. I have three perfect rooms, one well on it's way to being entirely finished, one that does need re-painting (the junk-free utility room, packed full of spiders. Well, one - I've seen one, but it's enough to make me want to cut my losses and set fire to the room - it is a very big spider), and two that need just a little work. So, come spring, all that will need to be done is the usual tidying and cleaning, which really won't take long. It has been a very productive month! 

The hawk standing where
Trotwood usually stands.
Hen news: it has to be said that Emily had more stress than any of us put together. A week or so ago a hawk managed to get in and get stuck in the aviary. I heard her shouting (Emily makes an odd sort of barking noise if something's wrong) and I ran downstairs, found Anne and Charlotte hiding in the utility room, and then found Emily standing in the doorway of the left hand side of the aviary, feathers puffed out, wings out, stepping towards the hawk with every bark she made. The hawk wasn't after her, it was (she, I should say, I think this is a female hawk) was trying to get out and couldn't. Eventually I managed to get the hawk out (sadly I had to clean up after it - it has brought in a chaffinch), and that was pretty much that. However, since then, Emily has been rather withdrawn. She wasn't visibly hurt, and she is still eating and I've seen her playing in the dust bath, but she is very quiet at present and spending more time by herself. She's come for cuddles more and fell asleep on my knee, which isn't like her, but as I say she's eating and she's in good condition. I hope in a few days time or so she'll forget about it. I am very proud of her, though. She's the dominant hen, and I suppose this is why. I'm amazed, thinking back, that she had the opportunity to run away and safely hide, but she opted instead to try and take on the hawk. Thankfully the hawk wasn't interested in her. And as for the other hens - Charlotte is back to her former glory, and Anne is as sweet as ever. I've noticed she's prone to bouts of jealousy, which I didn't see coming - if Charlotte or Emily is on my knee, she jumps up and pecks them until they get down, and twice now when she's seen me holding Emily she's flown on me and tried to land on my shoulder (she got up to my elbow and walked the rest of the way). But yes, they're all well, as are the budgies - they are their usual noisy selves. Oliver got stuck behind a bookcase a few weeks ago and it was quite an operation getting him out, but to his credit he kept very calm. 

As for books and blogging. Well, I said I wanted to blog more, and write more reviews, and I think I have managed to achieve that! This month I've written nine reviews or commentaries:
Without meaning it to be, it's been quite a Woolf month! As for the books I read but didn't review:
  • Hamlet, by William Shakespeare (I will be reviewing this, probably next week).
  • The Jungle Books, by Rudyard Kipling.
  • Big Sur, by Jack Kerouac.
  • Naked Lunch, by William Burroughs.
A good reading / blogging month, and I've read two of my TBR Challenge, two Russians, and one chunkster (The Moonstone - I don't think Les Misérables counted as I started in in 2013).

Finally, I bought rather a lot of books this month! I'll start with a very special one, and actually I had it bought for me - it's Le Rêve by Émile Zola - a first edition, which is so lovely, and it's sitting next to my first edition of La Debacle. I'm very proud of them! The books I bought myself (cheap second hand, I might add):
  • Big Sur by Kerouac.
  • Titmus Regained by John Mortimer (the second of a trilogy, my mistake).
  • The Awkward Age by Henry James.
  • The Golden Bowl by Henry James.
  • The Nibelungenlied (a prose translation)
  • Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot
  • Trollope by Victoria Glendinning 
  • No Name by Wilkie Collins
  • Nostromo by Joseph Conrad
  • Eminent Victorians by Lytton Strachey
  • The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte Yonge
  • Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • The Odyssey by Homer, translated by Fagles.
I don't believe I've ever bought as many books in one month. But I remain unapologetic.

So, that's January all done and dusted, then, and it wasn't all bad. February?

For starters - Fanda is hosting a Dickens month, which I'm looking forward to! I said I'd read either David Copperfield or Great Expectations, both of which are on my 25 re-reads list, however I am very drawn to Hard Times, which I'm planning on starting this evening. I also want to keep going with Ovid (I've not been blogging about it, but that doesn't mean I'm enjoying it any less, I'm just planning on writing something when I've finished). I still haven't started Das Kapital, but at some point this year I will! And I do want to read The Belly of Paris by Émile Zola (this is what I call an "afternoon read", that is to say I want to devote a lot of attention to it, however free afternoons are few and far between, but I will will read it in February). February is African-American Literature Month for The Classics Club, so I'd like to read Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and finally, generally, I'd like to work a little more on my Classics Club list. So far, I've read 147 out of 180, however I think probably about October time I'd read 145 out of 180, so progress has stalled quite a bit. I keep thinking about Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore, which is on my list, and I have sort of begun it, but the idea of Hard Times keeps distracting me. So, maybe after, I'm not sure. Other than that, no real plans or themes. I will say that I keep seeing War and Peace discussed. It's tempting....

There are my plans and reflections, then. Happy February, everyone!


  1. Uncle Tom's Cabin is a great book. I do hope you like it. It was really powerful and had a strong message.

    1. I think I'll enjoy it - looking forward to starting it, it'll probably be my next book. :)

  2. You got a lot done in January for being such a bad month. I also had a crap month and it was only the blog that kept me going. I updated regularly and read things. I had a mini stroke, surgery for a growth and my cat got bitten by a poisonous snake. After a week of crisis with him he's survived. Now the bill! My books kept me sane. I enjoyed hearing about your birds and all the very best for the hens and the books for Feb.

    1. Good Lord, that's a bad month. Are you ok now? I'm sorry you've been ill. And horrible about the cat as well - glad he got better.

  3. Your hens lived went through quite an adventure, indeed! The hawk is beautiful, though. I've never seen a wild hawk by such a little distance.

    You wrote a lot of great posts - I'm (slowly) reading them. I liked the one about Virginia Woolf and her relationship with Russian literature.

    1. That was the first time I'd seen one close up. You should see their feet - great huge claws. :S

  4. I'm sorry that January was not a good month! I didn't have a particularly good one either... I'm excited it's over and we're one step closer to spring.

    1. Me too, so looking forward to spring! :D

  5. I'm jealous of the snowdrops! Here the weather is so bad that school is getting cancelled tomorrow. So I'm looking forward to spring very much as well. To be honest I'm quite glad that the first month of 2014 is over!

    1. Me too. The weather here isn't great, but in the south of the UK it's truly awful. Feel so sorry for the people in the South West.

  6. that sounds like a fantastic month! mine was good too, see here:

    1. It was certainly a good reading month :)

  7. First of all, I'm so impressed about your junk-free home -- I don't even want to think about how long that would take me! And I loved The Belly of Paris, which was my first Zola. Lots of lovely food descriptions. I also have Le Reve unread, but it's a recent Hesperus Press edition -- I'm jealous of your first edition, can you post a photo sometime?

    1. I will - I keep meaning to do a Zola collection post :)

      It's so odd having no junk... I do have two rooms to paint, but there actually is no junk in this house. It's.... bizarre...!


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