This morning's sunrise.

This past month has been so hot. Blue skies, bright sunshine, and as of yesterday, finally, some cool breezes. It's come at a price though with some wildfires near us (not on the same scale as the one on Saddleworth Moor or Lancashire, these are small and fairly contained, not even mentioned on the news types of fires) so the air here is hazy with smoke - all of us here, quite frankly, smell a bit stale from it even just stepping out for a few minutes! This morning at about 5 o' clock it was deliciously cool. Now (as I type it's 7 am) it remains so but the sun is fighting through the smoke and mist: I'm sat in a north facing room and can see the sun creeping through the trees. I accidentally left the window open in here last night so this room, which hasn't had direct sunlight since about this time yesterday, is a sanctuary (cool enough to put a cardigan on, but warm enough to question that decision), whilst the south facing rooms, including the bedroom, remain stuffy. There is an odd effect on the skyline which, though I've attempted to photograph, I can't capture: to the south west a part of the forest is in direct sunlight whilst the rest of it still struggles under the mist and smoke. In that beam it looks so light, airy, and slightly damp, and being in that beam it looks rather heavenly and made me think of Dante.

The creatures of this house are all well, despite the heat. Excellent news on Meg - I do think she's recovered now from her peritonitis, has but a significant amount of weight on, and is looking very bright. Also a wonderful thing, and if you've ever had a sick chicken you'll know, her tail is back up having been down since March. She looks completely normal though is still on the light side. As for the exiled hens - they are well and truly banished at present I'm sorry to say. They're now living with a neighbour on the opposite side of the village, part of a flock of 10 chickens and four ducks. Despite knowing how domineering Bess can be, I was still astonished to learn that in the past fortnight she's usurped a hen who had been the number one of the flock for no less than nine years. Clover, it's believed, is about the fourth in the pecking order owing only to her association with Bess. They're happy and well, and though I miss them I know they can't return until Meg has made a full recovery. As for Pablo, he's now out and about! On the whole he's enjoying his walks though is still not so sure of the whole thing and will suddenly stop and refuse to walk, but that is getting better. And he's made several dog friends, which is lovely. The budgies are all well too, and Falstaff seems to have recovered from the loss of poor Snow, though I feel for him when I see him playing by himself (which, to be fair, isn't that often). But, all of them are in their full dawn vigour as I type.

Pablo's first walk (the leopard print harness is the smallest one I could find for him. Soon as he's a bit bigger he'll be wearing something a little less '80s.

My June reading has, I'm happy to say, been quite spectacular, owing in part to it being too hot to move and to have the TV on! For the first time in this blog's history I am set to finish my original list for the 20 Books of Summer Challenge - all that is left is about half of The Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain. Here's that list (and as you can see I'm a bit behind on writing reviews!):

4. Letters by Pliny the Younger. ✔
7. On the Good Life by Cicero. ✔
8. Twelve Caesars by Suetonius. ✔
11. The Letters of Vita Sackville West to Virginia Woolf. ✔
15. Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain. ✘
19. Complete Fairy Tales by Charles Perrault. ✔

This has put me in an interesting position - I'm now six books away from finishing my Ancient Greek and Roman Challenge and 20 books away from finishing my third Classics Club list. Because I did hope to finish both these challenges more or less simultaneously, and because I seem to be on a good run at present with my reading, I'm proposing to try a '20 More Books of Summer' Challenge, and, if I finish this on 1st September, I'll perhaps finish both challenges in or just before autumn (there feels like there's something very appropriate about new, big challenges made around autumn time!). Here's the new 20 I'd like to read over July and August:
  1. Letters from a Stoic by Seneca the Younger.
  2. The Phoenician Women by Seneca the Younger.
  3. On Christian Teaching by St. Augustine.
  4. The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine by Eusebius.
  5. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim.
  6. Vita: The Life of Vita Sackville West by Victoria Glendinning.
  7. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.
  8. The Dubliners by James Joyce.
  9. Bliss and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield.
  10. The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit.
  11. The Clergyman's Daughter by George Orwell.
  12. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.
  13. Swallowdale by Arthur Ransome.
  14. Viles Bodies by Evelyn Waugh.
  15. Grænlendinga Saga and The Saga of Eric the Red.
  16. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys.
  17. My Inventions by Nikola Tesla.
  18. Zadig & L'Ingenu by Voltaire.
  19. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.
  20. Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich.
That will leave me with two books, both from the Ancient Greek and Roman list: The Enneads by Plotinus (to daunting to mix in with the 20) and Apollodorus' Library, which I'm saving 'til last. As I'm pretty focused on reading right now I'm fairly positive about this!

Other than that, my only other piece of news is that I finally tackled the spare room which is now the computer room, with the budgies' room remaining their's but also a reading room. This is the finished result, with a bonus picture of Pablo -

And with that, I have some reading to do....

Happy July, everyone! 😃


  1. Congratulations on an impressive amount of reading! I fear that the heat here has just made me feel lazy and less inclined to read.

    1. Thank you! I'm just parking myself in front of a fan - without the fan I dare say my 20 Books challenge would be a whole other story :)

  2. i'm glad to hear that the girls and Pablo are doing well. Your computer room looks inviting and neat. and your challenges are moving right along. all seems well in the classics world... good. i still wonder how your boiler challenge worked out; satisfactorily, apparently... Mrs. M says that Pablo is simply adorable (we're waiting for our old dog to go to dog heaven before we get another one, which will probably be another chihuahua; Uncle Wiggly left a big hole in our hearts which needs filling)... i'm surprised to see Tesla in your proposed list. He was a horse of a different color, but an unquestioned genius who got taken advantage of. definitely looking forward to that post...

    1. The boiler's not getting sorted til August. Don't ask why, I've no idea. Things move very slowly here in these parts...

      Tesla - I don't know how I came to hear of him. Tumblr maybe, or Twitter. Looked intriguing though :)

  3. So relaxing to hear about your broods, pup, etc. and to hear about your reading. I've been a busy whirlwind and would love to slow down. I'm very envious of what you've been able to get through in your reading. I'm excited to see you're reading Arthur Ransome and The House of Mirth is one of my favourites!! Happy reading and happy July (today is Canada Day for us!)

    1. It's so lovely to hear from you! I was worried you'd dip out of sight forever! Very happy to hear from you :) Oh, and Happy Canada Day!

  4. Wow, that's pretty impressive. I thought I was doing well at 7 (almost 9!) titles finished out of 20. And yesterday I played hooky with an Angela Thirkell novel. I saw about the big moor fire in Lancashire, but you're having small ones too -- no fun.

    1. Thanks Jean. And well done on your list! This literally is a first for me. I finished the last year's, the first one I've ever finished, BUT I revised it. And I think I've been doing it for 5 years, so I've finally cracked it. Can't see me finishing the new list for August though, and even September might be a stretch... :)

  5. Yes, always impressive reading plans and titles. Beautiful images. And Pablo is a sweet addition to your computer room.

    1. Thank you :) He's adorable. And he's made five new dog friends this week and grown into his 'grown-up' collar, so we're very proud of him right now :)


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