Saturday 30 September 2023

September 2023

We had a heatwave at the beginning of September. It was quite unexpected after the mixed summer we've had this year but it was nice to get some good weather at last, especially as autumn has now brought cooler temperatures with it.

The weather perked up just in time for my birthday on the 3rd. It fell on a Sunday so we booked a table for a lovely Sunday lunch for the six of us at a very popular pub less than five miles from home which I mentioned when I wrote my post about St Mary's Church, Lead. Afterwards it was all back to our house where we enjoyed the sunshine in the garden, ate cake and ice-cream, and played games. I can't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday. I received some wonderful gifts, a few of which are shown above. Some more books to add to my classics collection from family members. The note book, yarn and chocolate were from my lovely friend, Maggie, who blogs at Black CountryWench. The notebook is lovely, it's one of those with the loose cover so that the book can be replaced when full. Thank you Maggie, such a lovely gift. I also received perfume, a new case for my iPad and lots of chocolate amongst other things.

We don't visit Lotherton as often as usual during the summer months as it's much busier when the schools are on holiday, but come September, we're back to our usual walks. The red deer have lots of fawns in their herd at the moment so are rather skittish but this beautiful girl was very inquisitive and wanted to know exactly what we were doing. Archie's happy to be back walking at Lotherton too, his favourite place.

I've read five books this month.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte.

"This sensational, hard-hitting and passionate tale of marital cruelty sees a mysterious new tenant at Wildfell Hall, Helen Graham, unmasked not as a 'wicked woman' as the local gossips would have it, but as the estranged wife of a brutal alcoholic bully, desperate to protect her son.

Using her own experiences with her brother Branwell to depict the cruelty and debauchery from which Helen flees, Anne Bronte wrote her masterpiece to reflect the fragile position of women in society and her belief in universal redemption."

Anne Bronte wrote only two novels before her untimely death at the age of twenty-nine. I read Agnes Grey last year and enjoyed that so I decided to give her other book a go.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall reads as two books. First of all there's the story of Mrs Graham, a mysterious widow who has come to live at Wildfell Hall, a dilapidated mansion which has stood empty for years. She becomes the subject of neighbourhood gossip but Gilbert Markham believes none of it. She eventually gives Gilbert her diary to read and this is where the second story takes over.

Dealing with themes such as domestic violence, mental cruelty and alcoholism, Anne Bronte touched on subjects which were considered taboo and many now consider The Tenant of Wildfell Hall to be one of the first feminist novels.

I loved this book, I read it much quicker than I expected as I just didn't want to put it down. It's so sad that Anne died at such a young age, she was obviously a talented author and I'd have loved to read more.

The Year at Thrush Green by Miss Read.

"Following a bitterly cold snap in January, winter at Thrush Green turns into a beautiful spring and a series of local dramas takes hold of the village community. Plans for the village fete are hotting up, the illness of Mrs Peters at the Fuchsia Bush restaurant makes the future uncertain for its staff, and problems concerning the Rectory Cottages prove difficult to solve.

Meanwhile, the arrival of a stranger from America excites much interest and curiosity - who is this blond giant, and what effect will he have on the village?

Set against the changing seasons, exquisitely observed, The Year at Thrush Green is a rural delight."

This is the penultimate book in the Thrush Green series. Written month by month, Miss Read takes us through a full year of all the happenings in the village. One of the wonderful things about these books is how the changing seasons are observed, and as the story takes us through the calendar year, we get to see the changes in nature which each month brings through the beautifully descriptive writing.

Just one more Thrush Green book to go, I'll be so sad when this series comes to an end.

Someone Else's Shoes by Jojo Moyes.

"Meet Sam...

She's not got much, but she's grateful for what she has: a job she's just about clinging on to and a family who depend on her for everything. She knows she's one bad day away from losing it all - and just hopes today isn't it...

Meet Nisha...

She's got everything she always dreamed of - and more: a phenomenally rich husband; an international lifestyle; but...she's just been locked out of all of it after her husband initiates divorce proceedings...

Sam and Nisha should never have crossed paths. But after a bag mix-up at the gym, their lives become intertwined - even as they spiral out of control.

Each blames the other as they feel increasingly invisible, forgotten, lost, and desperately alone.

But they're not.

No woman is an island. Look around. Family. Friends. Strangers. Even the woman you believe just ruined your life might turn out to be your best friend. Because together you can do anything - like take back what is yours..."

I reserved this book a long time ago at the library and finally got to the top of the list. I didn't even know what the book was about when I reserved it but I didn't care. I've read every one of Jojo Moyes' books and there isn't one that I haven't enjoyed. I suppose other people feel the same because it's taken a heck of a long time to get to the top of that library list.

Jojo Moyes comes up with some great storylines, her books are never 'samey', she's very original and this is why I look forward to her releasing new material. She also comes up with great characters who you always end up rooting for.

Another great book and another I'd definitely recommend.

Three Sisters by Heather Morris.

"Their story will break your heart
Their journey will fill you with hope
Survival would be their victory

When they are young girls, Cibi, Magda and Livia make a promise to their father: that they will stay together, no matter what. Years later, at just 16, Livia is ordered to Auschwitz by the Nazis, Cibi, only 19 herself, follows Livia, determined to protect her sister, or die with her. Together, they fight to survive through unimaginable cruelty and hardship.

Magda, at only 18, stays with her mother and grandfather, hiding out in a neighbour's attic or in the forest when the Nazi militia come. Eventually she too is captured and transported to the death camp. In Auschwitz-Birkenau the three sisters are reunited and, remembering their father, they make a new promise, this time to each other: that they will survive.

Three Sisters is a beautiful story of hope in the hardest of times and of finding love after loss, based on the incredible true story of the Mellor sisters, as told to Heather Morris."

I've read books by Heather Morris before and this one is just as harrowing. It's so hard to imagine the atrocities which were committed in the concentration camps. This story, and others like it, are important because we must never be allowed to forget.

This book is so well written and I like the fact that a good proportion of the book is about the lives of the Three Sisters after their time in Auschwitz-Birkenau, how they got their lives back on track and the obstacles they had to overcome. I know not everyone likes to read this genre of book but it's definitely one I'd recommend if you do.

How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie.


Meet Grace Bernard.

Daughter, sister, serial killer...

Grace has lost everything.

And she will stop at nothing to get revenge."

I'm sure you can guess by the title that this is quite a dark book, but written very tongue in cheek and with humour. There are some rather long chapters where the story seems to drag a little but it did keep my interest. I'm in two minds about the ending though, on one hand I found it a little lazy but then on the other, it's quite inspired. Contradictory I know. All in all I found it a good read, something a little different from the books I usually pick up.

We said goodbye to a very dear family friend this month. Although she'd been poorly over the last couple of years, her health had improved somewhat and so her death came as quite a shock. Apparently, she'd left detailed instructions on how she wanted her funeral to be carried out and so her family knew exactly what she wanted. We found this bookmark on our car when we left the crematorium.

Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens and what a great start to the series we've had. There's some fabulous dancers this year, hard to guess who will still be there at the end. Once again, I'm joining in with the Strictly Sockalong which is being held on the Little Drops of Wonderful podcast. This is the sixth year that I've joined in, with those taking part knitting socks whilst watching the show, though of course, cheating is encouraged so I may end up knitting the socks at other times too.

As we head into October, it's all about preparing for winter. We haven't succumbed and turned on the heating yet but I doubt it will be long before we do. I don't enjoy the colder months of the year, and as the clocks go back at the end of the month, the nights will be drawing in too which is something else I dislike. I don't have anything planned for the month ahead so let's see what it brings.


  1. An eclectic mix of books. 'Three sisters' interests me. It is right that we should never be allowed to forget. My son-in-law lost much of his extended family, with no way of finding out what happened to them. His grandfather had an amazing escape.

  2. It looks like you had a perfectly wonderful birthday.

    That deer sure is the curious one. You got a great photo of her.

    Wishing you a happy fall and one where you don't have to turn on the heat too soon.

  3. Wow, that was a BIG catch up. Your birthday outing sounds as though it was perfection itself and such lovely gifts. I read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall many moons ago and loved it, I have a very old copy of it. I've never read any Jojo Moyes, perhaps I'll get on the waiting list at my library.

  4. What gorgeous covers those birthday books and notebook have, so much nicer than flimsy paper jackets. Sounds like you had a lovely birthday and gifts from people who know you well.

  5. Sounds like a busy and good month (except for the loss of your friend, I'm so sorry for that and what a lovely remembrance for you). I have/had (??) some Laughing Yaffle from years ago and now I'm wondering if they are still in business--off to check!

  6. I agree about Anne Bronte - very much overshadowed by her siblings, but very much ahead of her time - domestic abuse, the voice of women, the role of women (in both Agnes Grey and The Tenant). She also didn't include any supernatural goings on - her stories are about real life. I would have love to have met her - although Charlotte described her as 'gentle Anne', I don't think she was otherwise she couldn't have written about the subjects she did. I love the defence of The Tenant's subject matter - powerful writing indeed. (As you can tell, I am a huge fan!)
    Best wishes

  7. A very belated Happy Birthday! It looks like you received some wonderful gifts. I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of a family friend. Take care.

  8. So sorry to read about your friend’s passing. A beautiful poem and how sweet to find the bookmark on your car. Always sad to say goodbye.

    As for Maggie’s gift, very sweet of her. Being a bit of a chocaholic, the first thing I zoned in on was your Dairy Milk bar. My favorite brand of chocolate! Enjoyed all your photos starting with the first. The deer looking through the fence is adorable, with a beautiful face and curious expression. Sounds like a lovely get together you had there. Happy Belated Birthday and a great way of celebrating. Thank you for the books shares. Happy October to you Jo!

  9. You certainly read some books in September & glad your birthday was a nice day. Ah, the dancealong & sockalong for you again....lovely. We have a new season of the Sewing Bee starting at beginning of October, which I always love. Take care & hugs.

  10. Happy belated birthday to you, I have finished my 1st pair of socks already, I might need to make a few more pairs. We have the same reading taste, I have read 3 of those books, loved JoJo Moyles, she does write a good book, I loved how to kill your family, as you say very tongue in cheek, as for three sisters, history has so many of these harrowing stories, they need to be told and read.

  11. First of all belated birthday wishes. You had some lovely gifts from friends. I'm glad that I can at least comment on blogs even though I'm having technical difficulties with blogging. Thank you for your kind comment. I'm enjoying Strictly Come dancing too especially as we saw one of the new professional dancers performing live (Lauren) when we went to a show with our daughter and her friend on a visit to Berkshire earlier in the year. You are good at crafting at the same time Jo. :) Your reading looks good too. I hope you and your family have a happy October.

  12. I was wondering if you were knitting for Strictly again, I haven't watched the shows yet, must catch up soon. Happy belated birthday to you too.

  13. The deer is beautiful. Belated Happy Birthday. One of the advantages of no longer teaching is that we can enjoy visits at quieter times,

  14. Sorry to read about the loss of your friend.

    Happy belated birthday wishes, it sounds like you had an enjoyable one.
    Looks like you've read a good selection of books, I've still not read any JoJo Moyles ones ... perhaps I will soon.

    Wishing you a happy month of October.

    All the best Jan

  15. Happy belated birthday. I love the red deer. Some good reads as always, especially the Bronte books. So sorry for the loss of your friend, that bookmark is a lovely thing to leave on your

  16. Belated Happy Birthday wishes Jo. Glad you had a good day with family. I have started reading some classics too and have nearly finished Canterbury Tales. Some tales are better than others but it makes an interesting journey back in to Medieval England.