Reading My Way Around the World

Sunday 27 October 2019

The Invisible Tree

Pic: Courtesy of RARE

For my Moment of Joy this week I'm sharing the story of the Invisible Tree which has just won the NI branch (excuse the pun) of the Tree of the Year competition.  Read more here ....…/sessile-oak-tree-in-rostrevor-c…/

A while back I wrote a piece about a building project that was being proposed on the edge of the forest where the council overturned their own planners advice and allowed the project to go ahead in spite of no proper traffic assessment or assessment on the danger to the animals and trees in the forest.  As it turns out, the site was afterwards put up for sale and the planning permission was listed as being suitable for changing to alternate purposes.   In other words, the original plans to build a nursing home and some luxury apartments was a ruse - no nursing home will ever turn up there.

Rostrevor Action Respecting the Environment (R.A.R,E) started a campaign and took it as far as the High Court to get the plans at the very least reduced in size, but a high court judge ruled in favour of the builder.

Not deterred, RARE carried on with a much more successful action, focussing on this tree that was left off the plans along with a right of way.   Now The Invisible Tree and the story is getting worldwide attention and the site is still not sold - there are many ways to skin a cat ...

Friday 25 October 2019

The Search Engine that Plants Trees #WATWB

Ecosia - the search engine that plants trees

We've just started using this search engine to see how it compares to Google which frankly I am fed up with - they are everywhere - sorry Google, if you're watching this!!  

Ecosia makes its money just like any other search engine, by advertising, and for every 50 searches they earn enough to plant a tree.  So far they've planted over 71 million. 

Furthermore they don't share your details, they're completely transparent with their accounting and all the hardware they use is carbon neutral as far as possible.   It all sounds good.   Another small way to help the planet.  
Here's a review ...

Joining in again with We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB - spreading positive news across the Blogosphere.

Sunday 20 October 2019

A moment of joy


Autumn Days 

Resplendent in colour

Fruitful End of Year


Have a great week - I hope you're getting lots of sunshine wherever you are.

Monday 7 October 2019

A reading challenge

After Christmas I read a book that my brother had left behind on his last visit home from Australia - it was by Tim Winton which described a journey up the West Coast of Australia through and to an area that I will never get to visit and I just loved the descriptions of the landscape and travelling along with the characters.

So I decided to start a little challenge for myself - to travel the world with the books I read.
While I've always been very loyal to Irish writers, and there are many many wonderful Irish writers, both north and south, male and female, old and new - I've long been fed up with the emigration story and often pick up books just for the sake of going somewhere new.  And I almost have to put on blinkers when I pass Waterstones - their book of the month nearly always ends up in my bag.

Anyway, looking around the web at reading challenges, I came across Tale Away, a fantastic blog written by Ash, an American woman who regularly puts up challenges to read 52 books from 52 different countries each year and her suggestions are fabulous.  I'm not following her challenge as I've already read a lot of the titles on her suggestions lists and I don't get through that many books in a year either,   So my challenge to myself is to read a book from or about every country in the world - ideally written by someone from that country but as long as it's set there, that will be enough.    I've no time limit as I'll likely wander off at various times to read the latest best sellers and books by local writers, and some of the books by new to me authors will almost certainly send me in search of more that they've written, but it's already a fun journey.

So for this year, here's the pile of books I've been through so far.  I mostly only read at night, so I don't get through many books a month, but a lot of these have been real epics, and not all will go onto my books of the world list.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - a lot of people didn't like the tv show of this book which I haven't watched, and I've never read any Atwood books before which was why I picked it up before I started this challenge (although I might cheat and add her as a Canadian entry).   I found it fascinating for a book written 30 years ago and so much of it is scarily possible in this crazy world we're in at the minute.  

Dirt Music by Tim Winton - the book that started this idea.   An interesting story of a dysfunctional community on the south west corner of Australia - and the journey up the full length of the west coast was fascinating and the landscape was well described.

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce - set in England and not really a travel type book, there was a fascinating insight into classic and classical music in this story of a record shop owner who has the gift of knowing what piece of music a distressed person needs to hear to heal.   And there was a great Spotify playlist added at the end which I've listened to several times. 

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks - a collection of short stories that all revolve around a typewriter.   I'm not particularly into short stories but I was interested to see what Tom would write and they were very enjoyable short night time reads and his voice is almost audible in the way he writes. 

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.   What can I say.   This book was amazing - really a 5* from me.  It's not recent and I'm sure many of you have already read it, it held me enthralled the whole way through.   Set in Afghanistan during the rise and subsequent fall of the Taliban, it's the story of two women thrown together.  

Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi - this is set in Germany between the two wars and again it's a fabulous story, a suggestion I got from Ash's blog .   The lead character is superb - she's a dwarf and thereby an outsider and is featured in other books by this writer which I will definitely look into.   We spend so much time in Germany and yet I had not read any books by German writers before and the translation was very good as well.   I loved the fact that it left some German words untranslated, words that are already in the English language or are well enough explained that you understand what they mean.   

Eva Luna by Isabel Allende - although the country isn't specified in this book, it is definitely South America and it had a really surreal cast of characters, but then that's Isabel Allende's trademark isn't it? It wasn't one of my favourite of her books but still an enjoyable story.  

Small Island by Andrea Levy - Oh, I adored this book - another 5* from me.   And it explained a lot to me, or rather pointed out a lot, of the awful discrimination suffered by the Windrush people who came from Jamaica to help out in Britain's call for workers after the war.  Great story, beautifully written and a wonderful cast of characters.  

Tangerine by Christine Mangan - I only picked this up because of the title and it gave me a north African storyline but for me it didn't hit the spot.   

There's more to come, but I'll not bore you just yet.   

Thursday 3 October 2019

Off to a calmer place

I had to venture outside today for various meetings and passed a dog yapping delightedly at the waves that are churning up the beach - the poor girl who was with him was huddled against the wall trying to get some shelter while the dog yelped at every passer by to come and look and see what he had found ... very funny.   Unfortunately I was in too big a hurry to get out of the rain and too busy laughing at him to take out my phone and take a picture of him ... but this was later

Thank you all for the lovely comments on the photos at the Scavenger Hunt - I really must go and figure out what on earth is going on with Blogger - "give it a good talking to" as Kate would say :) . But it won't let me comment individually and by the time I go back and look at what someone else has said to comment on it, I've lost the original thing .... Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh.   Life's too short ...

Yesterday we gathered to give a final send off to a lovely singer colleague of ours, Rosemary Woods, who battled for several years with cancer and could finally rest without pain.   It was a very emotional day but a beautiful send off for a beautiful woman who blessed everyone who ever met her with her presence, her heart felt words and her gentle personality.   Even when we visited her in the Hospice, Tom and I came out smiling, feeling like we had been uplifted and gifted with something.  We worked on the same circuit and with the same agents and although we weren't close close friends you were a big part of my musical family and I will miss you dear Rosie, as will all the many people who's lives you have touched.  Rest in Peace dear friend.