Spring came rather late to England this year after the bitterly cold and snowy late winter we had, but now, at last, it is finally warm. These past few weeks have been idyllic with sunny, cloudless skies and the slow but sure emergence of the late-spring flowers: the daffodils, cherry blossom, and crocuses are of course all gone, but now the hawthorn, gorse, forget-me-nots, campion, buttercups, and cowslip are all in bloom, and most of my roses in the garden are in bud. The countryside is now a riot of green, white, pink, and blue, dandelion fluff fills the air, pollen is everywhere (the cars, bins, coal bunkers, leaves, everything is covered in yellow powder), and the swallows, a week later than last year, returned in the middle of the month. Now the sparrows, doves, and wood pigeons are chasing each other around flirting madly, and the blackbirds, starlings, and robins already appear to have their babies (I saw a blackbird this morning with a beak stuffed with worms as it flew off to the gutter where I believe its nest is). And on Wednesday I heard the cuckoo for the first time. Being England, this fine weather of course has not lasted: it's all heavy mists here, but it is still warm and I hadn't realised just how much I missed being warm. Winter, March rather, was brutal with its three feet of snow and sub-zero temperatures, so this is all most welcome! 

May has been rather eventful with the arrival of Pablo: he's been here over two weeks now but we feel like we've had him forever. He's settled in very well and I'm so happy to see how confident he is. He's had his first set of vaccinations with the second set due in a fortnight, so by the third week of June he'll be able to go for walks and meet some of his doggy neighbours (most of the human neighbours have already come round to meet him!). We were lucky to get him off such a good breeder: he's in excellent health, growing nicely, and he's a very friendly and affectionate little chap (and he's currently asleep on my knee as I write this). Training is going well: he sits when told, is getting used to his harness, his biting is getting less, and when he's left alone he goes into his igloo (actually he goes on his igloo, he doesn't seem to like going into it). Toilet training, well, it's early days. We're being vigilant, so it's been days since he did his business in the house, but as yet he hasn't actually asked to go outside. But he's doing well for a ten and half week old puppy!

As for the rest: the hens are all reasonably well though the problems continue: Meg has acute peritonitis which is very serious, but she's responding well to treatment. It's a very slow process, but she's reasonably active, happy, and is eating and drinking as she always did. The little ones are still wicked little bullies and remain exiled, which I hate and I miss them, but they're both well and enjoying having a garden to themselves. And Ruby's very well as ever. They've all met Pablo: Meg's not keen, the little ones are interested but not that interested, and Ruby likes to watch him and walk over to him, but still runs away when he approaches her. The budgies are well too, though I'm not happy with Snow (I really do think there's truth in what they say: don't buy pets at pet shops). And George the parrot is very well and has Pablo's puppy noises down to perfection.

Now, June plans: June book plans are always fun because it's 20 books of Summer time! I've been pondering over this list since the announcement came up and I've finally come up with a list. I did want to read a fair amount of the ancients this summer for my Ancient Greek and Roman Challenge (I can't believe I've nearly finished it!) and I'm so into the Virginia Woolf letters I think I'll finish those this summer as well as The Letters of Vita Sackville West to Virginia Woolf: that's one thing that frustrates me about reading Virginia Woolf's letters - all they are are Virginia Woolf's letters, no replies, so that will go some way to remedying my curiosity. The rest: three Victorians to finish my Victorian Reading Challenge, Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain with Jillian, and five random books I have my eye on:

1. On Obligation by Cicero. 
2. The Republic by Cicero.
3. The Laws by Cicero. 
4. Letters by Pliny the Younger. 
5. Apocolocyntosis by Seneca.
6. The Satyricon by Petronius.
7. On the Good Life by Cicero.
8. Twelve Caesars by Suetonius. 

9. The Letters of Virginia Woolf: The Sickle Side of the Moon (1932 - 1935). 
10. The Letters of Virginia Woolf: Leave the Letters Till We're Dead (1936 - 1941). 
11. The Letters of Vita Sackville West to Virginia Woolf.

12. The Egoist by George Meredith. 
13. The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems by W. B. Yeats. 
14. The Death Of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy. 

 15. Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain. 

16. Elizabethan Love Stories
17. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence. 
18. The Journey Through Wales and the Description of Wales by Gerald of Wales.
19. Complete Fairy Tales by Charles Perrault.
20. Howards End by E. M. Forster.

That, I think, will keep me busy! And though I approach the ancients with a little trepidation, there's none I'm dreading, so I believe I've given myself a pleasant season of reading.

Happy June, everyone, and to finish a poor picture of a very unusual sight in the forest: two mandarin ducks!


  1. I wish I could fit in a reread of The Testament of Youth atm, but my TBR pile is too big to justify a reread. But I feel sure that will love it as much as I did..

    Good luck with your list, puppy training and summer!

    1. Thank you! And I'm glad to hear you love it, though I've yet to hear anyone say anything against it which is very encouraging! :)

  2. Sounds lovely! We too are entering summer, but that means we had a nice long cool spring and now pretty soon it will be 100 degrees every day. Thank goodness for whole-house fans, is all I can say. (Wait, I think those are a pretty local thing. It's a giant fan in the attic and when it's nice and cool out, last thing at night/first thing in the morning, you open all your windows and whoosh all the fresh air in. Much cheaper and healthier than running the AC 24/7, but the conditions have to be right.)

    I loved the Journey Through Wales! Lady Chatterley was so dull I quit about a quarter of the way in.

    1. Remember last summer... all I had was rain and you had forest fires. I hope we both get a better summer, you in particular (I'd rather have the rain and you be without forest fires if I had to pick a scenario!). You know, it does not seem a year since all of that!

      I've read Lady Chatterley before but I honestly cannot remember it, can't remember anything, not even if I liked it or not... Not wildly promising, that. Still I'm curious :)

    2. Oh, that's right -- it does not seem a year! Such awful fires. Yes, let's hope for a better summer.

  3. I'm so glad you're joining in for testament, o. Your whole list looks absolutely lovely, actually. And your little pup is adorable. I hope the hens take to him soon. x

    (We have pollen everywhere too!)

    1. Thank you :) And you'll be happy to know my book arrived this morning! I'll start it next week I should think :)

  4. i'm glad to hear about the animals(humans included) and Pablo sounds like he's having fun and keeping you guessing... eclectic list for the summer reading but inspiring and pleasant in prospect...

    1. Indeed, I think so too :) And yes, Pablo's great fun. Has some deranged moments! I adore him though, he's turning out to be a very good dog indeed!

  5. An interesting list of books for the summer. We are just beginning winter here and the temperatures are reminding us of that. I love little Pablo. Doggie bladders don't work well until 14 weeks so any accidents are not his fault...yet. All the best for your lovely family of creatures. Enjoy your summer.

    1. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy your winter :D

  6. Oh no! I almost hate to say this but there is a book titled The Letters of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville West and they feature all the letters they wrote to each other, back and forth. I just read it a few months ago. I can't imagine how frustrating it is to just be reading one side right now so if you do see this version, do grab yourself a copy in future. :)

    I love this list so much. You're reminding me to read more classics.

    1. It's ok - I have it! Plan to read it when I finish Virginia Woolf's letters :)


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