Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Reading 2012

During 2012 I read 47 fiction and 10 non-fiction books. My favourites were The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (historical fiction) for its incredible insight into how people feel during wartime and Infidel, My Life by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (non-fiction) for completely changing my thoughts on religion.

The fiction I gave 10 stars to were:

Dunmore, Helen - The Siege
Shaffer, Mary Ann - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Pratchett, Terry & Baxter, Stephen - The Long Earth
Kane, Ben - Hannibal, Enemy of Rome
Burnett, Frances Hodgson - The Secret Garden
Shute, Nevil - A Town Like Alice
Iggulden, Conn - The Conqueror Series
Galloway, Steven - The Cellist of Sarajevo

The non-fiction I gave 10 stars to were:

Ali, Ayaan Hirsi - Infidel, My Life
Albanov, Valerian - In the Land of White Death
Seierstad, Asne - One Hundred and one Days

The other books I read were the following. The books with a star did not receive 10 stars, but I still consider them 'must-reads':

*Szpilman, Wladyslaw - The Pianist (non-fiction)
Dobbs, Horace - The Magic of Dolphins (non-fiction)
Bryson, Bill - Notes From a Big Country (non-fiction)
Cornwell, Bernard - The Last Kingdom
Cornwell, Bernard - The Pale Horseman
Niffenegger, Audrey - The Night Bookmobile
Cornwell, Bernard - The Lords of the North
Cornwell, Bernard - Sword Song
Cornwell, Bernard - The Burning Land
Cornwell, Bernard - Death of Kings
Drayson, Nicholas - A Guide to the Birds of East Africa
King, Rachael - The Sound of Butterflies
Shreve, Anita - Resistance
Earle, Liz - Skin Secrets (non-fiction)
Savage, Sam - Firmin
*Haddon, Mark - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time
*Du Maurier, Daphne - Rebecca
*Seierstad, Asne - With Their Backs to the World (non-fiction)
*Adams, Richard - Watership Down
*Verne, Jules - Around the World in Eighty Days
*Joyce, Rachel - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Zafon, Carlos Ruiz - The Angel's Game
Lewycka, Marina - A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Jian, Ma - Red Dust (non-fiction)
Cornwell, Bernard - Redcoat
Cornwell, Bernard - The Fort
Cornwell, Bernard - Rebel
Cornwell, Bernard - Copperhead
Cornwell, Bernard - Battle Flag
Cornwell, Bernard - The Bloody Ground
*Lee, Harper - To Kill A Mocking-Bird
Dann, Colin - King of the Vagabonds
Potter, Beatrix - The Fairy Caravan
*Adams, Douglas - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Adams, Douglas - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
Adams, Douglas - Life, The Universe & Everything
Adams, Douglas - So Long and Thanks for All the Fish
Adams, Douglas - Mostly Harmless
Montgomery, LM - Anne of Green Gables
Fitzgerald, F Scott - The Great Gatsby
Paolini, Christopher - Eragon
Paolini, Christopher - Eldest

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Assault on scratch post III

I posted a video of Misty so thought it would only be fair to post one of Roland too. At least he's attacking something that's meant for cats. I'm glad I'm not that post!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Misty monkey

One of Misty's favourite occupations is attacking the soft furnishings and recently she's developed a new technique for the net curtains. She claims to be attempting to clean her claws by hooking them in the curtain first, but she's not very good at it:

What will she think of next?!

Saturday, 16 June 2012


Roland (often known affectionately as Roly Poly) is settling in very well. He had a couple of medical problems relating to stress during his first few days, but a day at the vets and some medication has sorted him out. He's a lovely natured puss - very happy and friendly, but doesn't demand attention all the time. He uses the scratch post (Misty uses the carpet and furniture) and even enjoys being picked up - unlike the four other cats we've had at Frog End.

Roland is very interested in making friends with Misty, but unfortunately the feeling isn't mutual. Misty is currently avoiding him wherever possible and if he comes towards her she growls and hisses. At least he doesn't seem offended and is currently still trying to make contact with her by sitting near her and allowing her to get used to him. At least Misty doesn't seem afraid of him and having lived with other cats will probably back down after some more time has passed - presumably she's attempting to defend her territory at the moment.

Please keep your fingers crossed that the Frog End pusses make friends soon.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Toby or not Toby: that is the question!

Today we picked up the latest member of our household - a brown tabby to keep Misty company (not that they've been introduced yet). His name was Rooney, but we can't think of that without thinking of the footballer and not being football fans we were confident that the name had to go.

After much deliberation over the last week we decided that we liked the name Toby, but unfortunately on picking him up and having a good look at him we've decided he simply doesn't look or act like a Toby. Since we happened to know a similar cat called Roland and we were watching the women's singles tennis final at Roland Garros at the time we were thinking about it we came up with the name Roland instead.

So here he is:

Unfortunately he has a habit of curling up one half of his upper lip - probably because he just had three teeth out, which makes him look rather vicious, but I still managed to get lots of photos of him with a less ridiculous expression

or not!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Maldives Marine Life

We saw hundreds of new species in the Maldives. Most were in the water and as we didn't have an underwater camera I only photographed those that could be seen from the boardwalks and jetties. Apologies in advance for the quality of the photographs.

Black-tip reef sharks:

Sea cucumber:

Feathertail sting-ray:


A species of halfbeak:

Blackspot snapper:

Klein's butterflyfish with humbug dascyllus:

Either a goby or a blenny:

Bluespine unicornfish:

Unknown species:

Of the fish we saw whilst snorkelling we identified the following:
  • Grey-streak lizardfish
  • Flutemouth
  • Lionfish
  • Redmouth grouper
  • Peacock rock cod
  • White-spotted grouper
  • Jacks
  • Harlequin sweetlips
  • Black pyramid butterflyfish
  • Double-saddled butterflyfish
  • Longnose butterflyfish
  • Reef bannerfish
  • Schooling bannerfish 
  • Regal angelfish
  • Sergeant major
  • Blue-green chromis
  • Batu wrasse
  • Bird wrasse
  • Blackeye thicklip wrasse
  • Checkerboard wrasse
  • Jansen's wrasse
  • Bridled parrotfish
  • Roundhead parrotfish
  • Several other species of parrotfish
  • Longfin batfish
  • Coral rabbitfish
  • Convict surgeonfish
  • Eye-stripe surgeonfish
  • Lined surgeonfish
  • Powder blue surgeonfish
  • Thompson's surgeonfish
  • Orangespine unicornfish 
  • Filefish
  • Indian triggerfish
  • Picasso triggerfish
  • Red-toothed triggerfish
  • Titan triggerfish
  • Black-spotted pufferfish
Ian also saw a moray eel and we both saw a couple of turtles on our last day, but it was quite murky and we don't know what species they were.

My favourite fish were the batfish as they were really friendly. A group of them came right up to us and followed us around for several minutes. They were about 30cm long and were nearly close enough to touch (not that we would). Some of my other favourites were the parrotfish, the wrasses and the titan triggerfish. I really enjoyed snorkelling and am looking forward to doing it again sometime in the future.

Friday, 18 May 2012

A birthday in the Maldives

I had a fantastic birthday. The staff at Baros were wonderful as usual. Instead of breakfast in the usual restaurant we were treated to breakfast in our villa for no extra cost (bottle of champagne and beautiful flowers included).

In the afternoon we went in a glass-bottom boat which gave us wonderful views of the reefs near Baros.

We saw many species of fish, sea cucumbers, starfish, sponges, clams and lots of beautiful corals.

In the evening we had dinner on the beach - actually part of our honeymoon package, but we moved it to coincide with my birthday. They took a photo of us before dinner and by the time we'd finished dessert it was framed and on our table.

I also received a birthday card and this lovely cake:

Despite being thousands of miles away from home I was still in touch with family and friends via facebook, blogger and email and received lots of lovely birthday messages.

A memorable birthday indeed :-)