Friday, 18 June 2010

I do craft. Or not.

There are a lot of blogs out there where people show off what they've made, and then there's Country Living Magazine, which I get because my mother bought me a subscription to it. The Country Living lifestyle is definitely not mine: the houses on show are filled with beautiful finds from little junk shops and gorgeous French markets; mine is filled with dog hair, books, and a few beautiful finds fighting a losing battle to be seen. Most of the women in Country Living seem to have created marvellously lucrative careers for themselves in next to no time having decided to flee the city, rather than trugging on as I do making a profit but not exactly a bountiful living.

And they also do crafts, these women. I'm usually immune to this lifestyle sort of thing. I am like the women in that old Harry Enfield skit: I know my limits. So, I'm still quite mystified by what exactly it was that took me over last weekend.

In the garden, my roses are out. I adore my roses: I have a complete and utter passion for the many petalled sort with the sort of scent that haunts you, and as they are generally plants which can cope with my laissez-faire approach to gardening, they don't do at all badly in my garden.

In what I think must be something to do with my severely practical grandmother, I like things to be useful, and I do like to feel I've made the best of things. If' there's something to be eaten, or jammed, I like to feel I've eaten it. Or jammed it. Or whatever. Thus far, I've just contented myself with smelling the roses, but last weekend I decided I was going Do Something with them. I started off spreading petals all over the landing windowsill to dry - an innocuous thing I managed quite successfully. Then I decided I would crystallise rose petals.

and here I am, crystallising rose petals.

and I have to say it went surprisingly well, though I got very bored very quickly, and decided I'd move on to making rose syrup. I picked heaps of roses, carefully trimmed them, steeped them in water in double boiler; changed the rose petals three times, heated the mixture up three times, squeezed the petals, added sugar, heated it up, and voila, syrup. I was so, so proud of myself. I lifted up the jar and noticed it had a hefty crack in it. Ooh, I thought, better put that in another jar, at which point the jar exploded. Thank goodness for padded bras is all I can say. Syrup was everywhere. My OH hearing my shrieks, came and did the majority of work de-stickying the kitchen, while I sighed and moaned about the waste of all that effort as I swabbed the floor. A scant teaspoon was all I managed to save. It was ambrosial.

I told my running friends about this the next day, both of whom gave me "are you surprised looks?" Goodness alone knows what possessed me, but I thought I'd try again. I am very fond indeed of rose creams, and thought if I managed to make the syrup again without incident I could try some cooking. Cooking I usually get thereabouts right. Ha. Picked the roses, trimmed them, put everything on the double boiler and trotted off to work. Completely and utterly forgot to turn the flame off under the double boiler, completely and utterly forgot that I'd even started anything in the kitchen, and came down 4 hours later wondering what on earth the very odd smell was.

Sarah Dunant: Sacred Hearts

Sarah Dunant: Sacred Hearts
Virago, 2010

I first heard this book - quite literally - on Radio 4, when it was done as a daily serial. I have the radio on while I'm working, so tend to dip in and out of what's going on and don't always fully take on board what's going on. Alas I didn't wake up out of my dream until this series was nearly over, but was intrigued, and when I found a copy in a charity shop, pounced.

It has been the most gripping read: there are rare books when you are so immersed in the world the author creates that it takes you a while to swing back into your own once you have finished the book, and this book was one of those. It is the story of a convent in the Italian city, Ferrara, in 1570. It is set just after the Council of Trent, when what were seen as Protestant heresies were condemned, and the lack of discipline in convents was addressed. As a result, many bishops cracked down on what were seen as lax practices. This process took several years, depending on how zealous local bishops were, and how strong the influence of local families was in protecting the convent.

Ferrara's convent of Santa Caterina was under the protection of the d'Este family. It is an enclosed order: once a nun was admitted, she was there for life, unless she could prove her unsuitability after a year's service. Some contact with the outside world was allowed: the congregation could see the nuns at service, and families could visit. Many of the convent's inhabitants were noble women who were shunted into nunneries when their families could not afford to provide dowries for all their daughters. When the story opens, Santa Caterina has just received a new novice: Serafina, who is virulently opposed to what she sees as her incarceration. Zuana, the sister in charge of the convent's infirmary, does not see Serafina's future as a simple case of her learning to live with her changed situation. Serafina's future becomes the symbol of the tension in the convent between the relatively relaxed rule of Madonna Chiara, the abbess, and the reformist elements who want a stricter discipline.

I loved the subtlety of this novel: in some circumstances, the reformists have a point, but so too do those wanting to preserve the status quo. I found this book completely fascinating, and have ordered one of her Florentine trilogy from the library (which reminds me - it is now there and I must trot down the road and pick it up).

A postscript to the novel notes that change did come to Santa Caterina. Convent chapels were altered so that the congregation could no longer see the nuns, and parlatori were screened with grilles so that there was no direct contact between nuns and families. This I found doubly sad, both from the point of view of the women whose lives were changed then, and from the point of view of some orders now. One of my sisters-in-law is in an enclosed order, and the chapel is still arranged so that you cannot see the nuns, and the parlour has a grille. Although the nuns in her convent are absolutely delightful, and obviously thoroughly happy and satisfied with their lives, the grille, although it has an opening in it so that you can reach across and hug, is still there. It still seems to me a potent symbol of separation: if you have already taken the decision to remain in an enclosed order, is that not separation enough?

I may be over-simplifying the matter by thinking that the grille was instituted in part through the desire to prevent Protestant contamination: if that was some of the reason for its existence, I wonder if the evidence of centuries since ought not to have shown that nuns could be trusted not to desert if the grille were removed.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Dumbing down?

Thanks to the wonders of internet book selling, it's now relatively easy to get hold of newly published titles from abroad. Jean Slaughter Doty's much loved Mokey books Summer Pony and Winter Pony have been republished by Random House.

Jean Slaughter Doty is one of my favourite American authors, so I was pleased to see the Mokey books were going to be readily available. However, beware: the books have been republished as part of Random House's Stepping Stones series, so this doesn't mean you're going to be the original text. What you will get is nice, short sentences and simplified content.

Below are examples of how it's changed - thank you Susan Bourgeau for sending me this.

If you have a reluctant reader, then go ahead and buy, but if you're looking to recapture the magic of a book you read when you were young, hang out for a secondhand copy.

Summer Pony 2008

It was a gloomy gray day in March. A threat of late snow was in the air when the station wagon bumped to a stop by the shabby barn.

Ginny was shivering. She got out of the car and waited for her mother. Somehow, everything here seemed awful and unreal. This was the day her dreams were supposed to come true. She was going to have a pony, a pony of her own, for the whole summer ahead.

Plans had already been made with the owner of the Sweetbriar Pony Farm. She could choose any one of all the ponies in his stable. But something was wrong. They must have made a wrong turn off the main road. Nobody could keep ponies in a place like this.

She could feel the cold mud oozing through her sneakers. Her mother came up beside her. She wore a hopeful look on her face. She was trying to make the best of a bad situation. “Here we are, dear. I wonder where Mr. Dobbs can be?”

Summer Pony 1973

It was a miserable gray day in March, with a threat of late snow in the air, when the station wagon bumped to a stop by the shabby barn.

Ginny was shivering as she got out of the car and waited for her mother. Somehow, everything here seemed unpleasant and unreal. This was the day her dreams were supposed to come true. She was to have a pony, a pony of her own, for the whole summer ahead. Arrangements had already been made with the owner of the Sweetbriar Pony Farm for her to choose any one of all the ponies in his stable. But something was wrong. They must have made a wrong turn off the main road. Nobody could keep ponies in a place like this.

She could feel the cold mud oozing through her sneakers. Her mother came up beside her. She wore her let’s-make-the-best-of-an-unpleasant-situation look on her face. “Here we are, dear. I wonder where Mr. Dobbs can be?”

Winter Pony 2008

“Hey Mokey!” Ginny Anderson ran down the hill. She called cheerfully to her pony. A small bucket of hot mash swung from her hand.

Mokey whinnied in answer. Ginny could hear her through the twilight. Ginny could also hear the sound of quick hoofbeats. She saw Mokey in a blurred pattern of brown and white. Mokey trotted up to the paddock gate.

“Hi Moke.” Ginny stopped to give her pony a quick pat. Then she let herself into the small tack room. It was in the stable, next to the paddock. She turned on the lights and unhooked the narrow door into the stall. Mokey was waiting inside. She was peering into her feed tub. She looked like she was waiting for her supper to appear like magic. Ginny poured the sweet hot mash into the tub. Mokey stuck her muzzle deep into the swirling steam with a sigh of joy.

Winter Pony 1975

“Hey, Mokey!” Ginny Anderson ran down the hill as she called cheerfully to her pony, a small bucket of hot mash swinging from one hand.

Thorough the twilight Mokey whinnied in answer. Ginny could hear the sound of quick hoofbeats, and Mokey appeared in a blurred pattern of brown and white as she trotted up to the paddock gate.

“Hi, Moke.” Ginny stopped to give her pony a quick pat and then let herself into the small tack room in the stable, beside the paddock. She switched on the lights, unlatched the narrow door into the stall, and found Mokey waiting inside, peering into her feed tub as though waiting for her supper to appear like magic.

Ginny poured the sweet, hot mash into the tub, and Mokey plunged her muzzle deep into the swirling steam with a sigh of contentment.

Not all European countries are alike to Amazon

Amazon have introduced price parity for its UK sellers (price parity meaning you cannot sell your books at a lower price than you have them listed on Amazon.) This apparently does not apply to Amazon sellers in Germany.

Courtesy of Sheppards' newsletter, here is a translation of the relevant paragraph in the Amazon Seller's Agreement in Germany (translated using Google translate):

Clause 2
Are the conditions for price parity for all items that I offer on Amazon EU platform?
The conditions for price parity are valid for all items that you offer on one of Amazon EU sales platforms. The price parity does not apply to the supply of books on Other parity requirements (e.g. regarding customer service and return and refund policies apply), however, even for that product category. For sales of books that fall under the French law on fixed book prices, the terms and conditions apply to price parity too, but of course these products at the item prices to fixed prices to take account of the book trade. [sic]

The OFT is investigating (albeit very slowly) the case here in the UK.

The Ponyhof

I love this blog.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Janet Rising: Prize Problems

Janet Rising: Prize Problems (Pony Whisperer 4)
Hodder, 2010

Anyone reading my reviews must wonder if I ever, ever read anything I like. All four books reviewed so far this week have seen me griping and moaning. Well, hurrah for Janet Rising. The fourth book in the Pony Whisperer series arrived this week. Pia, I think, is the Jill Crewe de nos jours. She lives with her mother, and has a pony, Drum. The unusual thing about Pia is that she owns a statue of the goddess Epona. When she has the statue, she can hear what ponies say.

In episode three, Pia's friend Bean had entered a competition in Pony magazine, and with Pia's help, won. This book is the story of what happens on the riding holiday they win. It doesn't have a cast of thousands; the fantasy is low-key; the romance even more so: what Janet Rising is brilliant at is depicting the teenage girl and making it funny and believable. She has them absolutely right: there are two sisters, Amber and Zoe, who spend nearly all their time scrapping; nervous Grace, downtrodden by her extraordinarily pushy mother, and erratic Ellie, girl of mystery.

The seance rears its head again: an episode I read with rising panic as it seemed that it would actually appear this time (in Team Challenge it's made clear Pia and her friends are spooked by the whole thing) but it's headed off at the pass when it becomes clear that seances may be dealing with very real emotions.

The story is a thoroughly enjoyable gallop round a riding holiday: I liked the owner with her grey plaits (which are set on fire at the barbecue) and the glam instructor Annabelle with her endless endearments. I must admit to a tiny frisson of disappointment when Epona appeared. I had been so enjoying the interplay between the characters that I'd forgotten about the pony whispering. "Oh," I thought. ""Is this really necessary?" Well, bearing in mind the previous three books, I suppose it is, though I did wonder what might happen if the mysterious thief present on the holiday had whipped Epona. That was a momentary blip. Janet Rising's fantasy is always believable. I am always disappointed when I see I have nearly finished her books, and there are very few modern pony authors I can say that about.

I can't let this review go by without mentioning the cover. That's a 14.2 grey pony, Sprout, on the cover, that is.

Black Beauty - a record

Over on The Pony Book Chronicles, Black Beauty is a record! And you can win a book if you comment on it.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Review: Babette Cole

Babette Cole: The Unicorn Princess, The Ghostly Blinkers
Bloomsbury, 2010

I've known for a while these books were in the offing, and have been looking forward to them. Babette Cole is a writer with a unique style, who takes no prisoners. Her Doctor Dog was a favourite of my children, who relished its delight in describing exactly what happens when you have worms. When Mummy Laid an Egg was also an essential prop to me in getting over my English awkwardness at helping my children learn about sex.

Babette Cole owns the Holnest Park Stud, which breeds hunters, so writing a pony book was an obvious choice. I had wondered quite what she'd put in a pony book: in an interesting comment on the mores of publishers today, although sex is allowed for infants, hunting isn't: "Bloomsbury made me take out any references to flirtation, drinking or hunting, which was a bit disappointing. They now go team chasing instead."

I really did want to like these books. I love the cover illustrations, though they are infested with twinkly stars by a marketing department unable to let go of its obsession with princess culture. I probably wasn't helped by reading the second book, The Ghostly Blinkers, first. You really need to read them in order so that you're not bamboozled by the large cast of characters. Penny, the heroine, becomes a scholarship pupil of Fetlocks Hall, and once she gets there, finds it is very far from being a normal school. It's haunted, for a start, and is the centre of the Secret Unicorn Society: the school specialises in finding pupils with special pony powers, and one pupil every so often who is the Unicorn Princess.

I admit it. At this point I thought NOT ANOTHER F******* UNICORN! They're always so GOOD. I want to read about bad unicorns; a race who are not so drippingly full of nobility they make me feel quite ill. Unicorns, I suppose, are the equivalent of angels in pony form: they are the horse as we'd like him to be; noble, and with our best interests always, but always, at heart, and really alas, rather dull. At this point, I excuse Alan Garner's Elidor: certainly not a safe unicorn.

Ho hum. These unicorns are to type. King Valentine Silverwings, King of the Unicorns. Noble kneeling. Much more interesting are the Devlipeds, the equine baddies. The one that's described is the size of a Shetland, which makes sense. Every Shetland I've ever met had a definite sympathy for the dark side. They of course are there to be defeated, and they are, as are their human sympathisers. The anarchy's all on the enemy side, and I'd have preferred it to be just a tad (alright, a lot) wilder on the good side. St Trinian's meets the pony story would have done it; as it is this is Harry Potter meets the pony club (quite literally; the Pony Clubs listed are thinly disguised real branches: The Blackmud and Sparkling Vale, and The Oaklees.)

The books are billed as being the equine equivalent of Harry Potter, and there are definitely similarities; the house system, the pictures which come alive and of course the magic.

That's ok, I suppose. I would have preferred something with the fantasy but with more bite. If it's the publishers who are holding Babette Cole back, let go, for goodness' sake.

Review: Stacy Gregg - The Auditions

Stacy Gregg: Pony Club Rivals
HarperCollins, 2010

I haven't read a Stacy Gregg since I reviewed Mystic and the Midnight Ride in eek, 2008. Have I really been doing this that long? Mystic was the first in the Pony Club Secrets series. I liked the book, but didn't like the fantasy. The Auditions, which is the first in a new series, Pony Club Rivals, is blessedly completely free of the weird and wonderful.

It's set at the Blainford All-Stars Academy, in Kentucky. This is a senior school for talented equestrians from all over the world. Entry is by competition. Stacy Gregg covers all geographical bases by having her heroine, Georgie, hail from England, setting the school in America, and having characters from Europe and New Zealand as well. Georgie's mother, Virginia Lang (yes that gave me pause for thought too) died when she had a fatal accident eventing. Georgie is determined to be an eventer like her mother, and go to Blainford, as her mother did. Needless to say, or there would be no series, she makes it.

As the school is fee paying (Georgie's mother had fortunately set up a trust fund before she died in order to pay the fees), the school has its share of label-holics. There, however, any similarity to that other horsy school series, Chestnut Hill, ends. Move over, Chestnut Hill, for this is an infinitely better piece of work. Labels are not the be all and end all of the book: here the focus is on riding. Blainford is hyper-competitive, and students are regularly chucked off the course. Georgie's first test will come just a few weeks into term: not only does she have to contend with the rest of the pupils, but she has an entirely new horse to contend with. She has to ride a school horse as her father could not afford to send her own pony, and so Georgie has to ride Belladonna, the daughter of the mare on whom Georgie's mother was riding when she was killed.

There have to be villains in a pony book (though having said that, Janet Rising manages to do very well indeed thank you in her latest, Prize Problems, with only the smallest of appearances from Pia's nemesis Cat, and even then she's Doing Good), and of course the ones here are the obvious targets, the rich label-obsessed girls. However, it is a sad fact that such groups do exist in most schools, and Stacy Gregg paints her characters with a reasonably broad brush: Georgie's romantic interest, James, is transported to and from school in his parents' private jet, and he's a perfectly decent individual.

There is plenty of riding content here: the school concentrates on all disciplines, and I mean all. There's Western riding, and everyone has to have a go, which is certainly interesting when the dressage bods have their turn. Having to do all disciplines means the book is not focussed on one to the detriment of the others, and this keeps the interest up. This book is a straight down the line pony book: dripping with horses and ponies, and not a whiff of fantasy. It's believable, and although the plot isn't bursting with surprises, it keeps you turning the pages. It's the best school-and-pony series I've read.

A small geographical quibble: one of Georgie's friends is described in living in Northampton, where the family has a 1,000 acre estate. Now I live fairly close to Northampton, and you would be very pushed to fit a 1,000 acre estate into its vast housing sprawl. Northamptonshire, the county, yes. 1,000 acres there wouldn't be a problem, but solidly urban Northampton itself? Hmm, no.

I can't leave this review without a mention of the cover. WHY the twinkly-dink stars? WHY?

Monday, 7 June 2010

Review: Victoria Holmes

Victoria Holmes: Heart of Fire
HarperCollins, 2006

Victoria Holmes: Riders in the Dark
HarperCollins, 2004

Neither book published in the UK but readily available from the usual sources.

I am a big fan of historical fiction: probably because I am nosy, and like to know how people thought and lived. Having lived in a succession of more or less old houses, I spend a lot of time wondering about those who came before me - did the monks who built our house have their garden where I have mine? Did they grow some of the things I do if they did? Did they struggle with bindweed too?  Historical fiction which sits characters in a real time and place should go some way towards answering the question of what it was like for people who lived in a different time.    When it's good (and I give you Sarah Dunant's Sacred Hearts as an example) you simply do not question the time or place:  you are there with the characters.

It is a tricky tightrope to walk to get the characters right in an historical story.  There's what style of language to use for a start:  too much of the period and it might be incomprehensible, and too modern and idiomatic and you lose all sense of the period. Victoria Holmes, a British author who has written three historical horse stories, falls firmly on the too modern side in Heart of Fire. Set in the 1920s, it is the story of orphan Maddie, who lives with her grandparents, Sir Wilfrid and Lady Ella, and her sister. Her long lost brother Theo turns up with a horse, Firebird. Theo manages to teach Maddie to overcome her fear of riding, and the two plan to enter Firebird in the King George V cup; at least until another Theo turns up.

The 1920s background failed to convince: the relationship between the older grandchildren (albeit grown up) and grandparents is far too casual. I can't believe that Madeleine's sister and brother would have called their grandparents Ella and Wilfrid. I can't believe that members of the aristocracy would have approved most of people who had respectable jobs in the city as well as private fortunes, as Maddie's grandparents do of her sister's friends. That certainly didn't help Diana Mitford, daughter of Lord Redesdale, when she fell in love with brewing heir Bryan Guinness some 10 years later than this novel is set.

Granted, it's difficult to edit all modern forms of speech from your writing, but the speech, to my ear, is too casual and anachronistic: "figure out", "horse riding" "I guess", "Hey Maddie!" :  pin prick after pin prick, dragging you away from the flow of the plot.  That said, I suppose I should be grateful that the main plot device in this book returned me to one of my favourite reads. Theo, Maddie's brother, suddenly returns, having not been home in years after fighting in the First World War and then going off to mine in Namibia. Another Theo then turns up. No one seems to have even the flicker of a doubt that Theo 1 is not who he says he is, despite his acquiring a Welsh accent.

The return of the long lost was done so very much better by Josephine Tey in Brat Farrar. Heart of Fire has none of the subtlety of response in Brat Farrar when "Patrick" turns up; Theo is accepted by all and that's that. Reading Brat Farrar again reinforced how very much I like Josephine Tey (I can heartily recommend her The Franchise Affair as well). In Brat Farrar, you see how the whole family reacts.  They don't react as a uniform body, but individuals. There is doubt, holding back and there is loyalty towards the person who has been displaced.   There's no subtlety in Heart of Fire.  Even the horses are better done in Josephine Tey: Timber is a marvellous portrait of a rogue, Firebird, the horse Theo brings back from Namibia, is just a horse; a device to move the plot on.

The book only came alive for me at the end, which deals with Firebird taking part in one of the earliest show jumping competitions, the King George V cup. I enjoyed the historical detail and the look at the genesis of showjumping, but it wasn't enough to overcome the wave of disbelief that had built up by that point.

Rider in the Dark, set in the 1700s, was a better read. Again, there are historical bloopers: as far as I know, Helena, as the daughter of a Lord and Lady would have been an Hon, and therefore not referred to as "My Lady". Helena's governess is Pippa (had that derivative appeared in the 1700s?) and Helena refers to her by her first name. I don't have a lot of contemporary literature with which to compare, but Jane Austen's Emma, around 50 years later, referred to her erstwhile governess as Mrs Weston. "Pippa" seems strangely informal: it's as if the author is apologising for her heroine having staff by making her relationship with them terribly matey. Staff are ok, because we're all friends really. Hmm.

The story is relatively gripping. Helena, the heroine of Rider in the Dark, is the daughter of Lord Roseby, a local magistrate. Her best friend is Jamie, the stable boy, and with his help, she is able to kick over the traces and ride astride rather than side saddle. Helena's father wins a stallion in a game of cards: he is of course, a bit of a rogue, but Helena falls for him and is determined to prove he is a good horse. All this is complicated by the arrival of a Riding Officer, with the news that a gang of wreckers is at work on the coast. Helena finds out that just about everyone she knows is a smuggler, though they are "good" smugglers who never carry arms and who are simply evading unfair tax duties.

Some bad smugglers do turn up, though none of them are in Helena's immediate circle, alas. It would have made Helena's reactions rather more interesting to have her in a situation which wasn't so obviously black and white, but this isn't a book with much psychological subtlety: people are either good or bad. In some ways the book is strangely conventional: although Jamie and Helena are best friends, there's no chance of any deeper relationship between the two (see Christina and Dick's relationship in K M Peyton's Flambards series for a fine picture of how this can be treated). Here, Helena's life "had always been following a different path from his, and there was no escaping that." Pity.

Despite that, the plot moves along fast; the horse Oriel's rehabilitation is reasonably believable, and if what you're after is a story of a brave girl, a horse who needs saving and a dollop of adventure then this book fits the bill.

A word on the cover: it's terrible. The heroine appears to be riding in a headcollar with a strange floating bit.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The garden and the O' level flower

It's sweet rocket time in the garden. This is a plant I've had about me for years. When my parents sold the house we grew up in, we took bits of quite a few plants, and this was one of them. It hasn't entirely approved of every garden I've had since then, but I've managed to keep it going, and it loves this one, seeding itself with abandon in the more shady bits. There are flowers I associate with things and times, and sweet rocket is one. It always seems to be out during May Half Term, which was when I did my intensive last minute panic revision (if I'm honest, usually the only revision I did, as getting on with things in a timely fashion wasn't one of my teenage skills). As a break in between high speed panicking, I used to wander out into the garden and smell the rocket, which is one of those flowers which smells best in the evening. Whenever I smell it, I always remember my teenage self, attempting to put right the neglect of months in a single week.

My son has A levels in a couple of weeks, and yesterday he was sitting out in the garden next to the rocket, revising. I wonder if it will have the same memory for him.

The roses are starting to come out. This dog rose sprung out of a rather nasty vivid peach HT, and I have let it go, as it seems to have completely overwhelmed the thing grafted on.

Gloire de Dijon:

Chapeau de Napoleon rose (not a brilliant photo). I bought what I thought was one of these but found out when it flowered it wasn't. This one is the real deal, and here are its amazing mossy little buds, doing their best to look like a hat.

I seem to have acquired an awful lot of geraniums over the years, and these two are particular favourites. The white one is Kashmir white; the blue one I can't remember.

Aquilegia, which is another plant that reminds me of our childhood home, as they set themselves everywhere.

Alba Maxima rose, which has only just come out.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Irises and bantams

None of these are mine; the bantam family and irises both belong to a friend. There are seven babies, and they are all seriously cute.

The irises belong to the same friend. This is just a small selection.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Morning walk

Which actually happened yesterday, but the camera batteries gave up on me half way round.