Friday, 27 February 2009

The Outlander by Gil Adamson

"At nineteen Mary Boulton has just become a widow and her husbands killer" so says the blurb on the jacket of this book. The year is 1903 and Mary flees from the Alberta prairies towards the Rockie mountains pursued by her two avenging brothers-in-law. She runs, escaping with no plan or direction in mind. Her very survival in the wilderness is in question but at each point when either hunger or disaster threatens she is helped on her way by the people she meets. Things happen to Mary rather than her influencing them as we start out, but her story gradually filters through as she journeys and we realise that she has had little love and affection in her young life but in this escape she may have found both but her life is still in jeopardy.

This is a great adventure story with luminescent prose bringing both the wild country and the people that inhabited these regions vividly to life. A tough heroine who can battle winter weather, illness and injury but whose character unfolds and develops in this page turning book.

I think the quote from Ann Patchett sums this book up "The Outlander deserves to be read twice, first for the plot and the complex characters, which make this a page-turner of the highest order, and then a second time, slowly, to savor the marvel of Gil Adamson's writing. The novel is a true wonder"

This is Gil Adamson's first novel. I hope she writes more.

Verdict: Highly Recommended

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

ABC Wednesday - F

F is for Feather

New species of giant bird leaves feather on Tarn Hows? Only in my imagination.

This is Caroline Dalton's contribution to the FRED art invasion last October. Unfortunately instead of floating ethereally about the tarn it is looking a bit worse for wear after a week of wind and rain and then the arrival of a "complex, active frontal system" which treated us to over 2 inches + of rain in 24 hours. These pictures were taken on the following day which was a beautiful sunny one.

Other famous feathers? The falcon's feather that Dave Scott of Apollo 15 took to the moon in 1971 to demonstrate gravity. Here he is doing the experiment

For more Fantastic Fs go to ABC Wednesday

Friday, 20 February 2009

Life in Dewey Decimal

Ever thought of what you would be if you would be if catalogued as a non fiction book? Well here is how to find out. Answer a few questions and voila up it comes, your own Dewey decimal section in the imaginary library of life. Go here

I did it and got a choice of two. Here they are

Joy's Dewey Decimal Section:

055 In Italian, Romanian & related languages

Joy = 055 = 055 = 55

000 Computer Science, Information & General Works

Encyclopedias, magazines, journals and books with quotations.

What it says about you:
You are very informative and up to date. You're working on living in the here and now, not the past. You go through a lot of changes. When you make a decision you can be very sure of yourself, maybe even stubborn, but your friends appreciate your honesty and resolve.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

Joy's Dewey Decimal Section:

793 Indoor games & amusements

700 Arts & Recreation

Architecture, drawing, painting, music, sports.

What it says about you:
You're creative and fun, and you're good at motivating the people around you. You're attracted to things that are visually interesting. Other people might not always understand your taste or style, but it's yours.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

ABC Wednesday - E

E is for Edge

Sharp Edge to be precise which describes it perfectly and tells you all you need know. A scramble used by some to gain the top of Blencathra but is a destination in its own right. The first picture is the approach view from Scales, the second the view from the tarn and lastly its top.

I remember once a friend had been a bridesmaid and had her long hair elaborately styled (we're going back some time now so it had swirls and curls, clips, pins and flowers). The next day, with almost a clear head, her hairstyle still in place, it was out on the fells and a decision to take the Sharp Edge route, however, the day was very windy so buffeted along the ridge. When we met at the top the hairdressers art had turned into a enormous wild Marge Simpson on acid look with nothing left in place. We wondered if any comb would ever be able to get through.

For more E's go to ABC Wednesday

Monday, 16 February 2009

The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez

A South American student of mathematics arrives in Oxford and boards with a Mrs Eagleton but he does not get to know her well she is soon murdered. He discovers the body in company with Arthur Seldom a professor of logic who tells the police that a piece of paper was left in his pigeonhole at the college with a symbol and the message "The first of the Series" and the time 3:00pm.

We do not have long to wait for the next mysterious death with also a note and symbol posted on the college door. The problem of solving the next in sequence is that according to the Austrian logician Godel not every statement can be proved true.

The start of the book is OK but I found the expositions rather clunky and slowed down the narrative. Once we got rid of those the plot rolls on quite nicely. The descriptions of Oxford from an outsiders point of view are quite well done but the problem is it reads rather like a film exposition rather than a fully fledged novel. It has recently been turned into a film with Elijah Woods (as the student) and John Hurt as the professor but I have not seen it on general release.

The book won the Spanish Planeta Prize so maybe they saw something in it that I did not.

Verdict - A short quick read.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

ABC Wednesday - D

D is for Daffodil

Their shoots are only showing through a couple of inches at the moment but this was taken in April of last year. Culpepper says "The roots boiled and taken in posset drink cause vomiting and are used with good success at the appearance of approaching agues, especially the tertian ague, which is frequently caught in spring". I think I'll stick to aspirin.

The church is that of St John the Evangelist who I seem to remember protects against poisoning which might be useful when you are boiling roots. The place is the secluded Woodland Valley on the edge of the Lake District.

ABC Wednesday 4th Round

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Dreams From My Father by Barak Obama

We don't know yet how things will turn out but when Barak Obama gives up the day job he could certainly make a living writing books.

This memoir is a vivid portrait of growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia followed by his coming of age and the struggle with identity and race in New York and Chicago. Journeying to see his large extended family in Kenya, to discover more about them and the father he only met briefly, he recreates the conversations and stories they tell. He also describes Kenya through his family history which reflect the society and its changes from colonialism to the present day.

This book is both a meditation, a personal history and story of self discovery. The pace slows in the middle section in Chicago but the first (growing up) and third (Africa) sections are page turners.

Verdict - Recommended Read

Monday, 9 February 2009


Well at last we got some snow in this little sea-girt corner. The rest of the country seems to have had a ton of it over the past weeks.

Inland the Lake District fells are covered with snow and this has unfortunately kept the Mountain Rescue teams busy, especially in the Langdale/Ambleside area. Someone (Martin Campbell) was filming in the Langdale Valley and caught one of the rescues off Bowfell. See the helicopter.

A lot more snow and ice around in 2009 than on this photo taken at a similar time of year in 2005.

- Climbers' Traverse
Taken by Ann Bowker

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

My First ABC Wednesday Post

C is for Compass. I saw this on an old tree in the Voges area of France and wondered who had put it there. We were near Gsang and were walking to Rossberg but never got there and ended up on Thanner Hube (1160 meters) by somehow taking the wrong path. Maybe I should have used the other type of compass.

ABC Wednesday Round 4