Simple pleasures

IMG_6247 IMG_9699 IMG_9722 IMG_9724When it feels like the world has gone a bit mad and is littered with bemusing and perplexing situations (the EU debate* and the US presidency, to name but two), I find myself retreating, listening to music instead of news on the radio, avoiding social media, and spending more and more time with what’s real, reliable, comforting and inspiring. I’m generally a realist, pragmatic and level-headed, but I find myself overwhelmed at times and, in this overloaded, in-your-face, bonkers-even-scary-at-times world, it’s reassuring to know that the tide comes in and out, the stars will twinkle, the seasons roll on and spring will do its thing.

In the greenhouse, the sweet peas I sowed a couple of weeks ago are sending up their shoots, which is a relief because last week the outsides of the cardboard tubes were covered in a white fur and I thought I’d killed the lot. There are also tiny shoots of cosmos and calendula appearing. Last year I completely failed to raise any cosmos so I’m hoping that was a dud batch of seed and this years will be fine. In the garden, I can see tulip flower buds coming and a drift of Allium sphaerocephalon I planted last year is looking like it will flower this year. Yay. Yet more alliums to swoon over; expect lots of photos.

Talking of photos, I’m attending one of my sister-in-law’s photography courses tomorrow. I rarely do anything other than point and shoot on the general or macro setting, so I’m looking forward to learning how to get the most out of our old DSLR. Reading instruction manuals is not something I do (I know, stupid) but reading books is and I’ve been trying to do much more of it lately. I’m currently reading H is for Hawk. Oh. My. Goodness. Have you read it? Such an eloquent and beautiful description of grief and wildness. Next in my pile is the much-hyped The Girl on the Train which I need to read quickly as it’s my mum’s library book and due back soon. When Breath Becomes Air is a recommendation from my dad. It’s about a young neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and went from being doctor to patient. One of the quotes on the cover says: ‘…split my head open with its beauty.’ Crikey. I’ll report back. Finally, I’m dipping in and out of the gorgeous The Shark and The Albatross, a wonderful book written by my friend, wildlife cameraman John Aitchison. He has one of the most mellifluous voices ever and I can hear his voice as I’m reading it.

Are you escaping into any good books at the moment? Wishing you a lovely weekend.

*there is one issue regarding the EU that I haven’t seen covered in the national press which CT sums up brilliantly here.

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17 thoughts on “Simple pleasures

  1. Sam, thanks for linking to the Europe post. Hoping it will reach lots of people. I do so agree about the crazy outside world and I do the same things as you and don’t listen to the news and avoid all the manic stuff. The garden is a haven and I’m glad to be in it, but it’s also more real than all the knickers-in-a-twist hype being spouted everywhere at the moment. I loved your words about the tides and the stars and read them several times over. Thank you my dear xx ps am also reading a lot, the green road into the trees and badgerlands. H is for hawk is in the waiting pile 🙂 x

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    1. Thanks to you CT. Your kind comment cheered me. It’s such a tonic to know you have the same reaction to the nonsense. I’m going to check out those books.

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  2. I appreciate your thoughts on disconnecting from the insanity in favor of nature and books. I’ve been able to a bit of disconnecting this week by taking a few days off work to spend time with my college kids who are home just now. Definitely a much needed break.

    I’ve been considering reading “The Girl on the Train,” but I so rarely enjoy books from the bestseller list I’m not sure yet. Right now I have several volumes from some my favorite cozy mystery series, and that’s keeping me happy.

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  3. Yes I am in total agreement about the ‘news’ issue at the moment. All very scary and sad. Like you I will often read, blog or knit instead of watching at 10. Your photo course sounds good. Do blog about any good ideas. I’m not a manual person either. All just instinctive. Hope you have a good weekend in your garden. B x

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  4. Your first paragraph is a one of reason and sanity!
    In my aim to clear the house of unneccessary clutter I’ve forsaken new books and am reading my way through the bookshelves on a keep or donate elsewhere basis. I’m halfway through a 1987 Dick Francis book, which has been surprisingly gripping, though I’ll donate it rather than keep and not read again for another thirty years.

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    1. Thank you, Anne. I do occasionally fret after I’ve clicked ‘publish’, when I’ve strayed into wider territory. I’m still pondering the decluttering issue.

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  5. I love tuning into the tide when we’re on holiday and reading is always good solace. I’ve avoided reading H is for Hawk up to now but I will read it one day. I Your photography course sounds like something I should do. I use an old iPhone and often think I should invest in a decent camera, but at least it’s always in my back pocket. I think your photos are already very good Sam and often show that you’ve thought about composition.

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    1. There are times when it’s best to avoid reading certain books and H is for Hawk isn’t for everyone, I’m sure. Thank you for your kind comments about my photographs Sarah. I do love taking them and it’s brilliant to have a better understanding of my camera. I often use my phone (always for Instagram) but like to use the camera if I can.

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  6. We have recently turned to the local radio to catch the headlines and pick up interesting items of local news rather than being bombarded by negative news. I read on average a book a week. Do you find it difficult to read for pleasure when you are reading as part of your job too? I’m sure you would have enjoyed the photography course your sister in law ran, she has some great tips. Sarah x

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    1. Work books are illustrated non-fiction and very different to those I read for pleasure or escapism. Having said that I do enjoy reading a well-written cookery book too. So, no, I don’t find it difficult! Good idea to listen to local radio.

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  7. Enjoy that photography class. I am definitely a point and click photographer but then I can generally rely on Judy’s greater expertise. As for books, other than 1491 I’ve been going through a Graham Greene phase. I really liked two of his books – Our Man in Havana and The Quiet American – but then I thought The Heart of the Matter and Brighton Rock were just too dismal for words. Probably ready now to move to another author.

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