Saturday, 4 July 2015

A to Z post to get me started.

I always love reading Fleur's blog when she does an A  to  Z. I have done one in the distant past and did complete it. I found it was good motivation.  I have discovered since I returned home from my trip I have turned into a morning person. Usually I am a pathetic night person and can't wake up in the morning to save myself. Now I am in bed by 9 pm and up and wide awake by 5:30 or 6:00. I feed the dogs at 7 am so that gives me a good hour to get started on something.

It is winter here and it is pretty cold and the days are short. So it appears we have waking hours during much darkness. I need something to keep me occupied that is fun. So in the theme of rounding out my life at home I am going to determine an A to Z of things to complete by 31 August. So let's get started:

A is for an AUDIO books to complete and write about.
B is for the last name of an author beginning with B on my TBR pile.
C is for COUNTRY and that means something translated.

D is for a DOG walk where I take my camera and get pictures of them to post up.
E is for ENJOYING a day with friends that include beautiful scenery, nature and photos.
F is for a FUN day out on the Penguin Hunter III looking for Penguin books

G is for GOING  to a second hand book shop I have not been to for awhile to look for a.
H is for a short story whose author's name begins with this letter.
I is for cooking something INTERESTING to eat on a cold winter's day.

J is for removing JUNK from all of the closets in my house and drawers to a variety of
   charity shops. I have already made a good start on this.
K is for a short story that begins with this letter.
L is for a LITTLE  book that is fun to revisit from my shelves.

M is for MINE, a book I own to read and discuss.
N is for walking the dogs in a NEW place that they have not seen before complete with
O is for something ODD to share with you. But first I have to work out what it is.

P is for PENGUIN and the review of one that I will read.
Q is for QUAINT village and a book about it.
R is for something I download from Gutenberg starting with R that I share with you.

S is for SILLY and something I share with you that really is silly. We all need a laugh in
T is for TALKING about and sharing a book about an animal since I love them so much.
U is for something to read with the word UNDER.

V is for something VERY special to do with my husband that gets us out of the house on a dark day.
W is for WANDERING on my scooter on a cold day that the sun is out with photos of where I end up.
X is for X-AMINING the new items at my favourite bookstore, Fullers in town followed by a hot chocolate in their cafe with photos to share.

Y is for YELLING out or maybe softly commenting on every blog at least once that I follow
   on my blog roll to stay in touch.
Z is for continuing to get my zzzzzz at night and continuing to be a morning person.

Now I feel motivated for the next few weeks it is now 7:00 am and time to feed my dogs their breakfast. However.....I will be back with the Penguin soon.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Getting Excited to Start Blogging Again Soon

We have one more day left of sight seeing on our 6 week European holiday. We have been on the trains through Austria, Italy, Spain and then flew to Paris from Madrid. It has been a wonderful holiday and it has gone smoothly most of the time. We were each quite sick for 2 days and we did get grumpy with each other a couple of times but hey, six weeks on the road, who wouldn't?

While away I have given a lot of thought of what I want to do when I get home to a very cold Tasmanian winter.  First I want to be home in my pyjamas for 2 days eating vegemite toast and coffee and hugging my animals.

Then I want to downsize our possessions.  I have inherited several hundred books from our friend who died and I plan on hosting a large book sale. I also want to get rid of quite a few books I have that are duplicates, been read, won't be read. I want other people to have them to enjoy and I want to dedicate all the space to my Penguin collection and get that looking a bit more professional.

I have been contacted by SBS television in Hobart by a person who is doing a program about why people collect items and what the collections mean to us.  She found my collection on the internet and is interested in featuring it and I think it could be fun if it goes ahead. SBS is a great multi cultural television network across Australia that is partially funded by the government. I really respect their programming so to be a part of something, however small will be interesting.

I want to blog more seriously and I have given up several outside committees that I was losing interest in to make more time. There are new things I want to do and try and I believe now might be a good time to start. I'd like to read more classic books. I would like to read more of my Penguins.

I have gotten through a few books during this holiday. Mainly on long train rides or at night when I couldn't sleep for worrying about my pets.  I have one dog who will be 15 this year but he is doing fine and I am looking forward to seeing that for myself.

I read David Copperfield by Charles Dickens and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also read a book , Throw Our Fifty Things by Gail Blanke, a motivational speaker from the United States. It was on loan from the library in eAudio about getting rid of 50 things in your house. 50 things being 50 categories, like records you don't listen to counts as one. She takes the reader on a walk through the house and hits every part of it including an attic, which I don't have and the garage which I do have, ah-hem.

I am reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson now for the adventure book due July 1 with my High School Class of 68 book group in Michigan. I have to say it has been on my shelf for decades and I never read it. When I googled "good adventure books" it came up first. So I thought now is the time.  It is quite suspenseful and did keep me awake the other night longer than I planned.

I am also continuing to read the South America bicycle ride of Anne Mustoe and am almost finished with that. A good book to read while riding the trains as at times I would get bored , then read her book and am glad I am not on a bicycle. It's all relative I suppose.

I hope to be back online regularly beginning in July so we'll see how we go. It's always good to get completely away from your everyday life because you can then visit it in your mind and see what things you want to stay, what should be deleted and what new things can begin. I look forward to it.

I had to add these photos because they are the love of my life.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Travels Continue With An Audio Book

We took the train north from Florence to Genoa where we are tonight.
Along the mediterranean coast. The train was practically on the beach.
We are now past our second week milestone in our European trip. It is all good fun with plenty of eating (especially gelato in Italy), much sight seeing and gathering of history on the Hop On Hop Off buses. We have been hopping a lot. I can't begin to recount all of our experiences without showing you about 1000 photos and I'm sure no one is really up to that.  I have posted photos on my Facebook for close friends and family and they have the choice of looking at them or not. Much better than the old fashioned slide shows I used to get roped into with 160 views of the Eiffel Tower.  Most with somebody's precocious grandchild in it.

Since we are on trains a lot I decided to listen to some audio books. Much of the scenery is gorgeous and I have been busy observing the sights and taking photos. But some stretches look the same and it can get tedious especially on the days when we might be on a train for several hours.

The first book I completed today was Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë.  I decided if I am going to listen to audio books I will explore some of the classic authors as I know I will get into the stories and others can read to me. I got this free copy from Libravox which has free audio books read by volunteers. As they are free one is not certain of the narrators and in this edition I listened to 5 or 6 separate narrators. Most were young women with an appropriate voice for a book written in the first person about a 20 year old woman. However one voice was elderly and one was Indian which was quite amusing. Her pronunciation of English vocabulary was much different than what I am used to.

I can go into the story here but I would rather put fun little pictures up of bookish things I have encountered on this trip through Austria (Vienna, Salzburg) and now Italy.  I found some interesting information about the plot and details of the publication of this work which I found quite interesting. If you like you can read it you can here on Wikipedia. Quite interesting.

Thoughts of the book: I have never been one for English period novels. I never understood what the fuss was about. However having heard so many bloggers sing praises of the Brontë sisters and Jane Austen I thought I should see what I am missing.  I must admit they are not my most favourite novels. I find the plots all the same and in Agnes there was so much information about religion. Not being a religious person I get bogged down with all of this.

However I really liked the character of Agnes. I liked the values she represented. I enjoyed learning about how difficult it was to be a governess, given the care of children but yet no control over them. The children in this book really were monsters. Her first household of which she was employed as a governess made me want to strangle the little boy she cared for.  However in writing about his character she was able to get the message of treating animals kindly and not cruelly.  Animal welfare has come a long way since the mid 1800's and she was probably a pioneer in writing about it then.

The difficulties of her station in life as a governess was interesting too and although some people were kind to her others treated her as though she were invisible.

The second job she procured being a governess to two young women, Rosalie a flirtatious silly thing and Melanie who was rough around the edges and refused to behave like a proper lady were entertaining. It was interesting how the young women approached their life with nothing substantial to really give them direction and the mistakes they made.

I will read more of Anne Brontë's books and I have seen the films. I think there is a knack to enjoying these books and I find I do quite enjoy them. This was Anne's first book and according to Wikipedia it was attached to Wuthering Heights as Wuthering Heights was 2/3 of a novel with Agnes Grey making up the last 1/3 attached to the end as both were published in the same year. I thought that was interesting.  I enjoyed reading about the author and the publishing history as much as I enjoyed listening to the books.  However I think it is time to sign up for and pay a little bit for getting proper readers of these audio books.

Okay now enjoy the quirky photos of book information I found on my travels.

The complete library in our hotel in Vienna. All books in German except on crime book.
People must be too busy sight seeing than reading.

These little mice reading their books were for sale at a market stall. They were gorgeous.
However I am thinking too hard of downsizing our property not bringing home more stuff.

Books about art at the large museum in Vienna. 
The classics for sale in a bookshop in Verona, Italy. I could still enjoy the covers.

The cemetery in Verona, Italy where Elizabeth Barrett Browning is buried. She spent her
last years in Italy.

The Penguin is loving how dog friendly Austria and  Italy are.
On our way to Barcelona in the next few days. 

Saturday, 23 May 2015

One Week Has Passed Already

PensionAnna- we are in the room above the door and to the right.
It has now been one week since we left Tasmania and headed to Europe. After a couple of days in Dubai where we realised we own no wealth whatsoever we flew to Vienna.  We have been staying in a Pension called PensionAnna and it has been lovely. Reasonable rate in the city centre, breakfast inclusive and upon posting photos up on my Facebook a friend said it looked "homey".

It took us a day to get our bearings but once we discovered the simplicity of the underground we were well and truly off.  We have walked everywhere, hopped on and off busses, had a tour of the Spanish Riding School which I loved, been to museums and eaten wonderful food.
The PensionAnna book corner. It is very sparse. I did check them out though.
All of them in German except one thriller in English

As this is a book and travel  blog I better also talk about books. There is a large, 3 story book store at the corner of our street that has a cafe on the first floor. Very  nice. I had a good look at all the books. As most of the books are in Deutsch I didn't get too far reading the blurbs on the back. However I did enjoy the covers.   There is a large section in the back of the store dedicated to English readers. The books were those you'd see in any modern book store, however mostly modern fiction and some non fiction. I guess that is what you would expect to see.  What was very nice is how busy the store was. People everywhere. All enjoying the books.

There was an area at the back of the second floor for children. I looked at the children's books and enjoyed seeing the variety of the German/Austrian selection.
There was little furniture in the back also where mothers were seated with their youngsters and I could hear them reading aloud to the child. It was lovely to watch.
Aren't these gorgeous little dishes. I wanted them all. Instead
I took a photo of them. "No Space in the Case" is my mantra.

I vowed not to buy any books on this trip. After all I have my Kindle. However I did buy a couple of little notebooks in the museum gift shop and a small book about the history of the Spanish Riding School.  I have wanted to visit this school since I was a child and saw the Disney Movie "Airs Above the Ground." I never gave up that little dream. We were here in the 80's but it was summer and it was pouring rain, the school was closed for renovation and the horses were south of here in their summer pastures. I always said I would come back and see the horses and finally it happened. They are simply beautiful. But sadly no photography allowed in the stables. So you'll just have to take my word for it.
Beautiful books available in the Museum gift shop.

Our other favourite pastime is taking photos and people watching. We have been pointing out all the dogs to each other. We love dogs and love to see the variety of dogs here.  I have scattered some shopping and eating photos throughout this post. As I only brought a small suitcase and a backpack with few clothes I vowed  not to take home too many souvenirs.  So I am shopping by camera. If I would love to buy it I take a photo of it instead and then if I do remember it once home I can at least look at the photos.

I have not been reading at all except for tour guides.  I have nothing bookish to post. We get back to the room at  night and then collapse in a heap only to be wide awake by 6 the next morning ready for another day.  

Interesting books about Lipizzaner horses and the Spanish Riding School.

Sadly we leave Vienna today and are scheduled on the 11:30 am train to Salzburg. We will be there for 3 nights before heading south to Verona, Italy.  I promise I'll continue to keep an eye open for very good book shops.

Wonderful black tea and a "Mozart Bomb" cake that really was heaven on a stick. Museum coffee shop

Later we visited the Jewish quarter and ate wonderful Saurkraut soup
for lunch. We love sauerkraut but had never had the soup.
Saurkraut, chunks of potato, smoked bacon bits and chives.

Which piggy bank do we take home to start saving our pennies for the next trip.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Anne Mustoe in South America and the Penguin in Europe

I wrote about Anne Mustoe's book A Bike Ride not too long ago. She is the middle aged retired English headmistress that decided to ride her bike around the world in the 1980's. She followed the trail of Alexander the Great and it was quite an adventure.

Now I am reading about one of her other excursions. This one is Che Guevara and the Mountain of Silver by bicycle and train through South America.

Her ride is several years after the first one in A Bike Ride. I am enjoying this book but I don't think it is as good as the first one was. She begins in Buenos Aires in Argentina and rides south to Beriloche which is in the mountains. Then she crosses west to Puerto Mont and north to Santiago. She not only rides her bike but she has a friend with her much of the way. She also uses buses and trains so it is not all bicycle travel.
Again she incorporates a great deal of history into the book and this time it is following the trail of Che Guevara who previously did the motorbike tour with his mate before he became a revolutionary.  

I get the feeling that this book, although structurally sound in her better than average writing it doesn't have the passion in it as A Bike Ride does. I feel she is fulfilling a contract and is all a bit "ho hum." 

The bright spots of interest is when she backs up and writes about the people she meets in rural areas along the way. The history of Che Guevara is also interesting but it would be better to just read his Motorcycle Diaries because she tries to recreate his journey but he does it so well in his book it isn't necessary.  I would rather read about the interesting places in South America, the apprehension of traveling in some places and the people she meets along the way.  I have travelled in many of the places she mentions and I don't feel she gives the smaller towns justice.  

If you are a long distance bicyclist there is still a great deal to get out of this book but I find I get bored in several places. There is just too much sameness.   The history is thrown at the reader like a professor lecturing and you just want to put your feet up and have a little snooze. Che Guevara's life was fascinating, his life philosophy was controversial and his journeys dangerous.  I felt like she is riding on his back to put a bit of life in this story when in fact the idea she is riding her bicycle through these areas could be equally as exciting on their own, but that message doesn't seem to come through. I am almost through with this read and I have her other books that I will get to. I love a good bicycle journey and I want to read her other books but think I'll take a break once I finish this one. I am almost done by the way.

Now some exciting news for myself, Mr. Penguin and I leave on Saturday flying from Tasmania to Dubai where we will be for two nights to break up the journey on our way to Vienna, Austria. I have been to Vienna before but it was a long time ago and the weather was awful.  We were only there a day or two as well.

I have wanted to see the stables of the Spanish Riding School since I was 8 years old and the last time I was there the horses were in the countryside on holiday and the stables were closed for renovation. This year I know they are open so I am most excited. From Vienna we have no idea where we are going next.  Armed with 5  more weeks of time and a Eurail Pass we will head across Austria, go south to Italy, then across Southern France and spend some time in Spain.  We hope to get to Lisbon, Portugal and fly to Paris but we may run out of time. We want at least 5 or 6 days in Paris before we return to Australia with another 2 nights in Dubai to break up the journey.

I am taking more journal writing items, technology, cords, and a power board than I am clothes. Don't want to carry a lot. I will keep up the blog as long as I have wi-fi and I will post extra photos on my Facebook page.  I am really looking forward to wandering and will try to incorporate as many bookish places into the trip as possible. Plus coffee shops, pastries, gardens, brightly coloured flours, dogs and cats and people.  I know there is history galore, dozens of cathedrals and more museums than one can see in a lifetime. But we just want to walk.  Get to know the areas by foot, stop, eat, drink coffee, wine, cold beer. Enjoy the summer weather. Our Kindles are full of books. So my blog gets to be truly alive with travel and some Penguin hunting. 

If I see shop windows with books I will be sure to record that in the photo diary here.  I will return to more mundane things at home in July.  I plan a large book cull when I get home and some more Penguin additions to the collection. But that will be another story. 

So stay tuned.  When I know where I'll be staying you'll hear it first here.