30 January 2015


I love to be outside, as regular readers here will know it is an integral part of out week, at least one if not two days outside all year round.  I am lucky to live in a country which has an abundance of public footpaths which make wandering and exploring, easy and accessible.  I often find myself on a path that has clearly been in use for a long, long time.  The track itself maybe a good few feet lower than the land either side, worn down by footfall and weather most probably.  The history in those paths is likely to be long and fascinating, who would have walked there, where were they going, why did the path take thought that it does?  I was hoping for some answers in a book I read this month but it didn't fit the bill.

I have been wanting to read The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane for a while now, it has been recommended to me by many bloggers.  I was given a copy for Christmas and was really looking forward to reading it.   It really disappointed me.  The cover of the book describes it as a journey on foot yet 60 pages are given over to sea journeys.  The journeys that were on foot were largely made on well known old routes that much is written about already, the few that were new to me were interesting but made up such a small part of the book that they were rather lost.  It is a beautifully written book and had I wanted to read a poetic, travel book about walking this would have been perfect but I expected something else from the words on the back........

I have read on blogs about people getting out of the reading habit and not being able to find a book to read.  After reading The Old Ways this happened to me.  I am sure it was because I was disappointed in it and didn't want to make another bad choice.  At the beginning of every month I take my children to our local independent bookshop to choose a book.  My eldest chose a wonderful book this month and when he had finished it suggested, with perfect timing, that I read it too.  I had just finished The Old Ways so I thought why not?  The Journey by Kathryn Lasky is a book written for children about Owls.  The author spent time researching these beautiful birds with a view to writing a non fiction book about them but she couldn't get the pictures she wanted to illustrate the book so she turned to fiction instead.  It is the classic story of good vs evil set in the world of Owls.  The imagery created by the prose is stunning, the description of Owl behaviour, I would hope, given the research of the author to be be correct is a good way to learn about Owls.  It is the first book of a series which seems to contain many books.  This book provided the basis of the film Legend of the Guardians which was released a few years ago.  Sadly for us this is the only book in the series, in print at the moment so we will have to wait and see if they reprint any of the others, we hope so!

So now I am in a bit of a rut.  I have been halfheartedly reading The Making of the British Landscape by Francis Pryor which is a meaty read.  I feel sure that I should put this down and read it when I am more focused as when I do read it I love it.  I picked up a book in the library this week which I think I will read next, A Handful of Straw by Mary Rensten is the story of the a famous witch trial of Jane Wenham at Hertford in 1712, not that famous as I hadn't heard of it have you?  I grew up in Hertfordshire where this book is set and it is a self published book both of which give it appeal to me, I hope it doesn't disappoint!

If none of these take your fancy then take a look at A Year in Books for some other ideas.....


  1. What a lovely photo! I don't often get the opportunity to walks such beautiful paths, living in the city is just not so good for this kind of outdoor activity. I get in a reading rut sometimes. If that happens, I change the genre and try something very different from my usual reading fodder. I am reading short essays by David Sedaris at the moment. Witty and thoughtprovoking and just right to keep my short attention. On audio I have Salman Rushdie's "Fury", rather more difficult than I would like it to be but full of unexpected twists. Have a lovely weekend. x

  2. Just before I became pregnant with Aedan, I had been planning a trip to England to walk a road that crosses the North of the country, I think from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. Plans changed, though. I hope to do it someday with the kids!

    I often get into reading ruts. I've mostly been reading non-fiction lately, I'm on a homeschool kick right now. That book about Owls sounds excellent!

  3. Sorry the book was a disappointment. I hate looking forward to something and it turns out to not be quite what I thought it was going to be. I have just bought "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed...a memoir of her 1100 mile hike through the Pacific Northwest. I love your picture...so much green. Looks like a perfect place. Enjoy your weekend.

  4. Thanks for the tip- always happy to get book recommendation- The old ways is on my list.
    You live in a beautiful spot!

  5. growing up in Australia, walkways weren't a thing. obviously with a country so big and sparsely populated, a well as dry and un-green, it would seem a strange thing indeed. but here, in crowded and green England, they make good sense. and i for one love them. i enjoy their meandering ways, corners revealing the next treasure, and the cosiness of branch canopies.

    i have to search for the owl book... being an owl lover too! my reading is sporadic these days. i miss it but have only one pair of eyes lol, which turn to stitches more than not.

    these might help: http://www.yournextread.com/uk/ , http://www.openingthebook.com/whichbook/


  6. Oh, that is disappointing when a book does not stand up to your expectations. But how fantastic to have centuries old pathways to walk on. Where we life, though it is quite rural, we either must walk on the road or bushwhack our own paths. Maybe you should write a book about the old ways? I'm in a bit of a reading funk, too...I keep picking up nonfiction books that are stacked up in my "I should read someday" pile, but nothing has really grabbed me. I think I need a good novel. Speaking of witch trials, have you read Daughters of Witching Hill (novel based on historic with trial). I read it a few years ago, and enjoyed it very much (as much as one can enjoy an account of one of the uglier aspects of human history).

  7. I will look/request The Journey at my library, I think some of us might like it too. XO

  8. I wanted to mention that we have read the entire Guardians of Ga'Hoole series here, and my girls really enjoyed them.(I found the violence a bit excessive at some points). There are approximately fifteen books total in that series, The Journey being one of them. We cannot make it to our local bookstore often (rural mountain home), BUT they are available on kindle. I was initially bothered by using the ipad to read, but it is about abundance and availability. We live in a very forested area, this is one of the drawbacks. I hope this helps you to continue with the series!

    1. I had not thought of an ebook we might just have to bite the bullet..........

  9. I know what you mean about choosing the wrong book!!! We put so much of our time into it, we want satisfied at the end! You read a book about walks, and I'm reading a book about walks! Mine is fiction, and though a bit slow, it's so heart moving... it's called "The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce. Have you heard of it? It made the Sunday times best seller list. Also... you're very blessed to live in the Country. Truly very blessed. Have a wonderful weekend, Tammy x

  10. The Journey sounds lovely, I've just been reading about Barn Owls, so it is timely too - thanks for the recommendation.

  11. What a shame the Robert Macfarlane book was disappointing - such a fantastic subject. Its a very romantic notion to think about the generations who have walked our pathways before us.


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