Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Haunted Hotel - Wilkie Collins

Why is it that late Autumn feels like such a good time for a good bit of Victorian melodrama and sensation? I've been dipping in and out of all sorts of books over the last week or so (some good stuff arrived in the post and I'm very excited by all of it) which is not a reading habit I like - if I don't concentrate on one book at a time I tend not to finish any of them and that would be why it's taken me more than a week to read my way through two novellas. If I sort myself out in good time tonight I hope to read a third before I fall asleep. It will be 'The Guilty River' and it sounds like a peach.

Living in a first floor flat without children I miss out on the whole trick and treat thing (I'm not sorry about this) and the decorative elements of Halloween represent so much money that could be spent on books (much as I like a carved pumpkin it's not as good as a book) so a not very horrible horror story is about as far as I go. 'The Haunted Hotel' was a perfect choice, in it a reassuringly foreign woman (The Countess) with a start white complexion, glittering black eyes, and unsavoury reputation accosts an eminent doctor. She wants to know if she's ill or mad and then she starts to divulge some of her recent history... His conclusion is that she's perfectly healthy but quite evil, a conclusion that her fiancé's family whole heartedly share. The fiancé has meanwhile behaved extremely badly ditching a very nice girl in favour of this foreign temptress, the Countess herself is convinced that the jilted girl is destined to be her nemesis. There then follows a death in mysterious circumstances, a suspected insurance swindle, and all manner of lurid hauntings before the tale is wound up. It's all good stuff; the supernatural goings on are the sort that I can safely read in bed without fear of a sleepless night and the mystery was twisty enough to be satisfying.

What I found interesting here was the insistence on fate rather that free will. When the story opens the Countess hasn't,as far as the reader knows done anything particularly wrong. Collins implies scandal but not, I think, criminality. She believes that it's her meeting with the other woman (Agnes) that turns the tide of her life, that's the moment that she becomes evil and it's Agnes that will later expose her, throughout the rest of the novella she seems powerless to resist this fate. I also found it interesting that the man in the middle of all of this isn't particularly likeable. The only person who really cares for him is Agnes, the Countess states that he's blackmailed her into marriage and none of his family seem to think much of him at all - it somehow gives the story a bit more depth.

All in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable read, I've had it on the shelf for quite a while (my copy is considerably older than the edition in the picture) as a treat for a suitable occasion - now the occasion has arisen it didn't disappoint. Happy Halloween.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baking and sorting

Week days off are a wonderful thing (I get one every other week so it's hardly a novelty but every time it makes me happy). I know that at the weekend I'll need to sit down and think about the days off I've got between now and Christmas (incorporating my birthday) and work out what I have to do when, so today has been especially sweet in that it's probably the last time for the next couple of months that won't be earmarked for a particular task.

It's mostly been spent on baking a first batch of little Christmas cakes, so my flat now smells wonderful and is pleasantly warm, and in trying to impose a bit of order on my books. I spent a long time on Monday night searching for my copy of  'The Anglo-Saxon World' (it proved quite elusive so obviously isn't something I spend a lot of time with) meanwhile I found Kate Greenaway's 'Mother Goose' nestled between Huysmans 'Parisian Sketches' and Hugh Trevor-Roper's 'The Last Days of Hitler'. I don't think she belongs there under any categorisation scheme so it was clearly time to do something about it.

The best thing about having a sort out is finding books I'd forgotten I owned. I came across another Zola which will be useful if (when) I embark on my Zola project. I have a guilty suspicion that I've had this book since I was meant to read it as part of a European history module in my second year at university, 20 years later it might finally get it's moment. Elizabeth Gaskell's 'Gothic Tales' is a seasonally appropriate discovery, I hadn't realised that I had so much Gaskell - she had somehow spread herself across half a dozen different shelves but is now all in one place. The same with Dickens. I've never thought of myself as a Dickens fan, I know I've only read a 2 of them but it turns out I've got quite a few to work through (on another shelf there are a lot of Christmas themed short stories as well), when and why did I buy so many? Conversely I have far less Walter Scott than I imagined, which if nothing else mean I can support a local bookshop next time I'm in the Borders.

I've also found a George Mackay Brown lurking in a dark corner which I would probably have ended up buying again soon, it was a souvenir from Orkney - I know this because the admission ticket to Highland Park distillery is inside it, but otherwise have no memory of it. The best discovery though is a slim little Maria Edgeworth called 'Letters for Literary Ladies' no idea what it's provenance is but it's by my bed now for further investigation. If only tidying was always so rewarding.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mulled things

I had meant to write about Wilkie Collins 'Miss or Mrs' but am putting it aside again in favour of a general ramble and a sort of recipe. The day the clocks go back is easily one of my favourite in the year. It marks the beginning of winter in my head and that's a season I get on with. Autumn brings me down with it's general sense of things ending, my inability to find clothes which don't leave me either to hot or to cold, and all those particularly fat and gruesome looking spiders which infest the garden. Winter on the other hand is a chance to wear all my beloved woolly items, see sunrises at a time of day when I'm likely to be up anyway, and to plan new beginnings.
Even spending the day nursing an impressive bruise and sore arms hasn't taken the shine off that extra hour in bed. Yesterday we went for a shooting lesson (D thinks it's something nice we can do together - apparently nothing says romance like a shotgun, and who's to say he's wrong). I was reasonably confidant that I'd enjoy myself but was surprised at how much fun it was despite being really not very good at it and managing at some point to hold the gun low enough to get that bruise - even so I hit a couple of clays (very satisfying) I would say it was by accident but as I was certainly meant to be aiming at them I'm counting those hits as a real success. 

Other sure signs that winter is on the way are the panic stories about weather, in this case Very Strong Winds heading for England, Shetland friends are dismissive of these winds feeling that gusts of up to 80mph merely constitute a strong breeze but they don't have trees to contend with and I feel that makes a difference. There also seems to be a lot of mulled stuff around. Of all the mulled things I can think of mulled oranges are my current favourite. When I was staying with dad a few weeks ago I had one of those 'help I unexpectedly have to make a pudding for 10 people out of store cupboard ingredients' moments that a certain sort of cookbook insists that you are always likely to have but I find has happened to me in 39 years of real life only twice. Both times they got oranges.
The credit for Mulled wine oranges goes to Hugh F-W in a Guardian column (see here) and now also in 'River Cottage Fruit' it had stuck in the back of my mind and I don't think really needs a recipe. Mine had red wine, port that needed using, rum because I found some, cinnamon, sugar, a star anise that was hanging around, and cloves, all simmered into a slight syrup and then poured over sliced oranges (just over half an orange for each person if you're interested) and left to sit for a couple of hours. It was quick, easy, a pleasingly light finish to a meal, and generally popular so is set to become a staple in my house - had there been left overs I bet it would have been even better the next day.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Kitchen Diaries II - Nigel Slater

Blogging is, it seems, a sure fire way of ensuring I let pasta boil over and over cook - this is especially embarrassing when Nigella is on in the background (paying attention and not overcooking her pasta on Nigellissima) and I'm thinking about Nigel Slater's 'Kitchen Diaries'. Happily it didn't burn this time but it's still not my proudest moment.
'Nigellissima' is the first Nigella series that I made no effort to watch and the first of her books I didn't buy, 'Kitchen Diaries II' will almost certainly be the last of Slater's books I buy. 'Nigellissima' didn't appeal on a really fundamental level (I don't think I was alone on this, I certainly remember a number of fairly lacklustre reviews) I will always have a soft spot for her but the magic has gone for me. I feel very much the same about Nigel Slater - I used to love his books for the un fussy recipes with their emphasis on good quality seasonal ingredients presented in a no nonsense fashion. 
It's hard to pin down how but I feel like much of that has gone, some of the change might be my own evolving tastes and prejudices. The pictures in 'Kitchen Diaries' for example are beautiful but I don't necessarily want a pretty cook book and purely decorative images of leaves and berries are a bit of a trigger for me suggestive of style over substance. It turns out that I don't much care for Nigel Slater's authorial voice either (prejudice again, born of envy, lots of envy) so I can't help feel that all the bits of the book that are him are so much space taken away from recipes. I know that's not altogether rational because I knew I was buying a book in a diary format and it's reasonable to suppose that you do that because you want to know more about the life, thoughts, and general opinions of the writer, and because a little bit about porridge has changed my breakfast for the better, but still... An entry about a new kitchen table (made to order from bog oak) is a perfect example of what got under my skin - it sets his kitchen to far apart from mine which is probably why this book has yet to make it into my kitchen despite my having bought it in January.
It's sat by my bed for a bit whilst I dipped in and out of it (getting increasingly chippy as I did so) and has spent a long time gathering dust on a sitting room shelf (I've been meaning to write about it all year) but it's never made it into the kitchen. This has to change, I'll find it a space tonight because I know there's good stuff in there but boy, is it ever disconcerting to realise you've fallen out of love with a previously admired writer.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Eyre Affair - Jasper Fforde

More years ago than I care to remember I read my way through Douglas Adams, went through all the disk world novels at least twice (there were probably only about 15 of them back then) and enthusiastically read Robert Rankin's output. My teenage self found all three writers immensely entertaining and clever, not least for the wealth of references to chase to their sources (I wish I'd had google back then). Over the years my tastes have changed and all those books have found their way into charity shops but I still think fondly of them sometimes which is why every time I've seen a Jasper Fforde I've picked it up and given it a moments consideration before moving on, when I saw a handful of his titles in The Works at 3 for £5 though I had to buy.

'The Eyre Affair' is part sci-fi (very much the sort that puts me in mind of Adams, Pratchett, and Rankin - especially Rankin) part thriller, and has parts of all sorts of other things thrown in for good measure. Heroine Thursday Next (literary detective) has to end the Crimean war, persuade her ex to marry her, rescue a kidnapped Jane Eyre, and thwart a master criminal. There are also vampires. It wouldn't work if it wasn't funny, but it is funny and as someone who's fond of the classics there's something very appealing about a world where people really care about Jane Eyre and so many of them seem to want to be John Milton. 

This was one of those books that kept making me giggle as I read it which in turn prompted several 'what's so funny' questions followed by blank looks because you have to read the whole thing to get it and I think that really sums up everything I have to say about 'The Eyre Affair'. I have a couple of the sequels that I'm saving for a rainy day (it would have been ideal reading today when I would have much rather been on the sofa with an entertaining book than at work trying to organise people to do things) and next time I'm in 'The Works' will see if they have any more because it's never a bad thing to have a stock of books to hand that you can guarantee will make you smile.

And whilst I'm in a Bronte frame of mind... I love this Hark, a vagrant cartoon. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Two Mrs Abbotts - D. E. Stevenson

It's that stage on a Sunday evening when I try and persuade myself that bunging on a mixed wash is basically all the housework I really needed to do (it isn't), worry about what work will bring tomorrow, and wonder why I didn't write this post hours ago (I was probably looking at twitter). However I'm here now and ready to think about 'The Two Mrs Abbotts' (Persephone book 104). It's both an obvious and a curious choice for Persephone - obvious because as a sequel to 'Miss Buncle's Book' and 'Miss Buncle Married' (Persephone's 81 and 91 respectively) it makes sense to complete the trilogy. Curious because this isn't Stevenson at her best (that would be in 'Miss Buncle's Book') which is not to say that the book is without interest or isn't enjoyable (it's both interesting and enjoyable), unusually there is no preface or afterword (we are directed to the earlier Buncle books instead) which I also think suggests that this one has been published for slightly different reasons. 

Plot wise there isn't much to say. Barbara Buncle (now Mrs Abbott) plays quite a small part in the action most of which centres around the household of her niece by marriages - Jerry - the other Mrs Abbott. There is a touch of romance and a bit of adventure but nothing that really counts, what interested me was the view of war time Britain that I got from this - one that was subtly but disturbingly different from any other home front sort of book I think I've read, especially Thirkell's 'The Headmistress' from a few weeks ago.

The first surprising thing is how little Barbara's life has changed with the war, her home is still well ordered, her husband is to old to have been called up so is still engaged in his publishing business, she still has a cook and a nurse for her children - apart from having to walk more and think a little bit harder about meals there's no outward sign of conflict. For Jerry the situation is rather different, her husband has gone, her business is all but closed, she's turned her home into a sort of canteen for local soldiers - in many ways her life is on hold, it's certainly turned upside down. 

Really though what was most striking was how segregated life is. Men and women live separate lives (one passage makes it clear how wide a gulf of wartime experience there is between Jerry and her husband Sam), the soldiers who use the house use the kitchen and back premiss - Jerry and her old governess Markie are on the other side of the baize door. Town in the form of a family of refugees refuses to mix with country; Mrs Boles removes herself and her children back to London disturbed by the ideas they are picking up. Class is still more rigidly segregated, the Boles family are definitely common and also dirty and dishonest, everybody is glad to see the back of them - it takes a week to clean the house to something like normal after they've gone and then Elmie the 14 year old daughter returns. When she does Jerry and Markie agree to take her in without informing her parents the rationale being that she's better off in the country and away from their influence. Elmie is described as an intelligent girl who turns into a nice looking child with the right care and you would think having fallen into the hands of a committed educator (Markie) that she might have a bright future but instead she's trained as a housemaid - something that I found rather jarring. There is also the matter of Pearl - another common young woman from London who has enthralled a young man by the name of Lancreste Marvell, and although nobody likes him they still don't think Pearl 'suitable'. Naturally soldiers and civilians remain somewhat segregated, and so do the Abbott children from their parents. 

I'm in the habit of thinking of the war as a time when social boundaries started to relax and crumble, Stevenson is obviously holding out against that but also, I presume, illustrating how rigid some of those codes actually were. It doesn't always endear me to her as a person but it's an interesting insight. The other moment of insight she offers is in Barbara's dealings with her children - Simon and Fay. Fay is still at the chubby almost a baby stage (about 4 I think) Simon at roughly 7 is something of a menace. Turning into the golden child of her imagination he is the apple of his mother and nurses eye but there is something off about Simon. He shows Barbara how little control she has over him one night when he behaves badly at bedtime, and worries her again when he lies easily to his nurse about an expedition to buy her a birthday present. Barbara know this lie is harmless and comes with the best of motives but it makes her uncomfortable showing as it does that children don't always remain innocent and beguiling creatures. Stevenson was good on children in 'Miss Buncle Married' too which makes me wish she had explored this particular relationship a little further. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wish List

My blog posting has been a bit sporadic recently - for which I have a variety of excuses the best of which is an unexpected burst of socializing which has slowed down my reading and kept me away from my laptop. Less exciting for me have been the problems with said laptop (which I'm getting heartily sick of) it seems to be exceptionally slow and desperately temperamental with it, particularly frustrating is a habit of letting me write long, witty, and insightful comments on other peoples blogs before freezing or just generally losing the dratted things (or as it may be short comments with a total lack of wit or insight, either way it's annoying me). If nothing else though I suppose it's a timely warning of what happens when you get to reliant on a specific piece of technology (work has just moved the holiday booking system and payslips online - marvelous they said... you can do all these things from the comfort of your own home they said... but not on a tablet, or a phone, and in any case only if you use internet explorer 9, and that's when the whole system doesn't crash about your feet which it's done with depressing regularity, and it doesn't notify you by email so it all seems a bit pointlessly bloody vague to me compared to the days when you wrote a holiday request on a bit of paper and had an actual conversation about it). I could go on but the post heading is 'wish list' and not 'lengthy complaints about exceptionally middle class problems like not being able to access amazon and facebook as much as I'd like'.

Happily, because it's a favourite rainy day occupation, I did manage to have a good browse on amazon earlier and even better they alerted me to a book I'm actually interested in instead of the normal nonsense some definitely faulty program normally sicks up - something from Mills and Boon called 'The Scarred Earl' for heavens sake and all because I looked at some Georgette Heyer, also who knew there was a whole sub genre of regency set romances about scarred noblemen returning from the peninsular wars - I mean I know now because I followed a trail of titles into very strange territory (for me). Anyway the book I was interested in (and have been periodically checking for) is a new Diana Henry cookbook which looks to be due out next spring (March?) called 'A Change of Appetite: where delicious meets healthy'. Because it's Diana Henry I'm happy to overlook the healthy and concentrate on delicious, I'm really very excited about this book which apparently takes inspiration from the Middle and Far East by way of Scandinavia and North Africa. Also she's just a brilliant writer.

Having added it to my wish list (only 6 months to wait) I thought I'd have a look at what else was on there to look forward to... John Wright's 'Booze' for the River Cottage Handbook series is due out in the next month (I've been waiting for this since New Year's day) his previous books for the series have been amusing and informative so this should be a treat. It's also only a few weeks until Penguin release their Legends of the Ancient North series - I have my eye on 'The Saga of the Volsungs' and 'The Wanderer: Elegies, Epics, Riddles' (lush covers as well). Virago have loads of good stuff coming out in the next year or so too (they always do) there will be Angela Thirkell both before Christmas ('Pomfret Towers' and a short story collection) and in the spring ('The Brandons' and 'Summer Half') as well as Monica Dickens, lots more Rumer Godden, L M Montgomery, and lots of Mary Renault who I've wanted to read more of ever since 'The Friendly Young Ladies'.

There is also plenty of Shirley Jackson on it's way from penguin Modern Classics which is a reason to be both cheerful and to remind myself that they're probably better read in daylight and not just before bed. Better bed time reading would be Fiona Cairns 'Seasonal Baking' which is out now and would already be mine if I hadn't spent all my money on a desirable bottle of Old Pulteney (or more accurately if I didn't owe so much money to my mother after she picked up the bottle for me and I wasn't hoping that a sister would pick up on my heavy hinting about birthday presents). I do keep drooling over this book in actual bookshops, I see Fiona Cairns in Waitrose sometimes (she's local, I'm not a stalker) and eventually decided I could speak to a total stranger, she said this is the book she always wanted to write, I can honestly say it's the first baking book in a while that I've been tempted by (sick of The Great British Bake Off spin offs here - possibly because I seldom get to watch it and find Paul Hollywood sort of repulsive) not least because I find Cairns quite an inspiring woman.

So that's my wish list, what's on yours?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Lay of the Last Minstrel - Sir Walter Scott

For most of my life the Scottish borders were somewhere that we passed through on the way North or South without ever stopping to look at and then perhaps a decade ago my father and stepmother got a place near Hawick, the borders became an actual destination and I fell in love with what turned out to be Scott country. Growing up I was easily as familiar with Scott as I was with Shakespeare; Scott is inextricably bound up with a particular strain of Scottish identity (Ivanhoe, the Scott monument, Waverley station and later on the idea of tartan and chivalry) in a way that's quite unique. 

Scott's baronial fantasy of a house at Abbotsford came up during my degree when I put it on a mental list of places I'd like to visit and then promptly forgot about it to the extent that it was an effort of memory to recall where I'd heard the name before the first time we drove past a sign for it. Since then I've managed to visit 3 times - it's a charming spot - and actually managed to read some Scott all the way through. If I hadn't got to know the part of the borders where Scott spent parts of his childhood, later chose to settle, and uses to set some of his books I probably wouldn't have got very far with him. A previous attempt had been with 'The Pirate' because it was set in Shetland, I guess it came from the latter part of his career when he was writing to pay of liabilities, it certainly isn't one of his better books. The right setting for the reader can be very encouraging though and a curiosity about border history (undoubtedly colourful) got me through 'The Bride of Lammermoor' (which I enjoyed) and 'Old Mortality' (which I enjoyed even more) so once I got out of the Midlands and somewhere near the lake district on the train I cracked open 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel' and gave it my best effort. 

An effort was needed because I'm not used to reading poetry, certainly not at this length, and I don't think it's a particularly easy thing to do and enjoy when you're not used to it but the effort was well rewarded. This poem in six cantos is told by an old minstrel - the last of his kind - to Anna, Duchess of Buccleuch (published in 1805 the tale is set in the sixteenth century but narrated in the seventeenth century) concerning the exploits of some of her ancestors. There are brave Knights, beautiful maidens, elements of witchcraft and sorcery, battles, duels, abductions and more, all of which is very exciting, the descriptions of Melrose abbey by moonlight are as vivid and appealing as anything I've read - it really is a page turner. (I read chunks of it aloud which also took some getting used to; it helped it to come alive but was also quite distracting.)

I'm inclined to be a little bit evangelical about Scott - I believe he deserves more of an audience than he willingly gets, he's an incredibly important writer - not just influential as a novelist (John Sutherland says 'he did not merely create fiction, he procreated it' which is as neat a summing up as you could wish for) but also in how significantly he contributed to the romantic conception of Scotland as a country. Something that's surely very relevant at a time when we're debating devolution and independence (I imagine Scott would have been pro union). I also believe that you have to want to read him to really enjoy his books, they've certainly called for a certain amount of perseverance in my experience. It would have been easy to a read bit of 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel' and not bother with the rest simply because of the amount of concentration needed to untangle the plot from the verse and stay on top of it (and I don't feel that one reading is enough) but not to have read it thoroughly would have meant missing out on some really good stuff. 

My copy now has an oak leaf from Abbotsford pressed between the pages to act as a bookmark - it's very much in the spirit of the thing and I will read it again. I've noticed with previous Scott novels I've read that the introductions have a vaguely apologetic air about them, they talk of reading strategies and suggest that it would be alright to skip various bits and I find myself doing much the same thing because he's not the easiest writer to recommend but for anyone minded to enjoy the classics he has a lot to offer and 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel' is a great example of that.   

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Project?

I'm not generally very good at reading projects and challenges but sometimes it feels like a good idea and I've got one brewing. I enjoyed making my way through Trollope's Barchester chronicles in conjunction with Mrs Oliphant's Carlingford chronicles and am still enjoying the Palliser books (half way through; it might be time for volume 4 soon, reading them in order and with the intention of working my way through the lot has definitely encouraged me to tackle books that might have looked off puttingly chunky otherwise (and which in fairness wouldn't have worked as well independently). I've also found it helpful to have no particular time scale in mind - I'm not sure it's a good idea to rip through a series of books in a matter of weeks or months which were years in the writing (to much of a good thing isn't always a good thing) also it doesn't feel helpful to pile pressure on to an activity that's meant to be fun.

The project I have in mind is to tackle Zola's Rougon-Macquart series, it seems like a good idea for a few reasons. I've never read much literature in translation; something that bothers me more when I think about the classics than about contemporary fiction (which I don't read a lot of anyway so I don't feel that I'm being particularly prejudiced there) and Zola is probably as good a place to start as anywhere in a quest to broaden that particular horizon. He's also a writer who I see referenced enough to make me feel particularly ignorant for not being better acquainted with him and one whose work should be cheap if not free on Kindle when nice paperbacks prove hard to find. Also I already have a copy of 'The Fortune of the Rougons' to get started with and it's undeniably the time of year to line up something Victorian and classic so really there's nothing holding me back.. Watch this space.

Monday, October 7, 2013


It's been a hectic few days away in the borders celebrating (belatedly) my father's 70th birthday (and also his twin brothers) and my youngest sisters actual 23rd birthday (the poor girl got her birthday comprehensively hijacked). There has been a lot of eating and drinking, an assortment of family and friends from all over the place, and a trip to the races. Because of all of that it wasn't a very bookish trip, there really wasn't much time for reading and The Main Street Trading Company) but didn't buy anything due to having spent all available funds on china in Jedburgh the day before. The Main street bookshop has always been inspiring and there's always something new going on, this time they've created book burrows for children... In what had been under stair cupboards there are now cosy alcoves (Mrs Rabbit's kitchen and Fantastic Mr Fox's Kitchen) where children can sit and listen to audio books. My sister and I both really wanted to try them out.
although I visited one of my favourite bookshops anywhere (

The purpose of this post though is mainly to share my china buys with you. Jedburgh is a historic and picturesque border town, Mary Queen of Scots was kept there for a bit and it has a ruined abbey, it also has a vintage shop in the old post office so whilst my father went off to find a tailor and be measured for a suit (we all went tweed crazy this summer) I had a good rummage. A while ago I saw an image of a coronation mug that Dame Laura Knight designed for the coronation of George VI and Queen Elizabeth, it was one of those things that you fall a little in love with and wonder why you never find or can never afford if you do find. Thursday was my lucky day because I got one for a reasonable price and in fairly good condition. I love it, now all I have to do is find it a suitable home. 

Jedburgh turns out to be a great place for finding stuff because a shop across the road had Quail Ceramics. I don't find these nearly often enough so am delighted to have finally become the proud possessor of a pheasant salt and pepper pot (I have plenty of salts and peppers and these have to be the most impractical shape imaginable for cleaning out, but still they were irresistible). The Scottish borders are brilliant. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I've packed a few essentials and am off to celebrate my sisters 23 rd birthday and one of my father's 70th parties. Wish me luck!