September has been noteworthy in a number of ways. At a national level there were deaths – the Queen and Hilary Mantel to name two. Closer to home, husband and I made our long delayed trip to Ireland to collect some personal effects put aside for me and my children from my late parents’ house clearance. This proved a worthwhile distraction from the media’s sycophantic mourning for a woman I admired less than the fine author we lost too early.
The Ireland trip was always going to be an emotional journey. I last travelled to the isle in early 2020 for my mother’s 92nd birthday. We had therefore decided to make it rather more epic a holiday than usual. The need to bring a car across the Irish Sea to enable transport of inherited items inspired us to book a cabin on an overnight ferry – the closest we would ever wish to come to a cruise. The boat sailed from Liverpool, a city we had never visited. We therefore booked a couple of nights in a hotel there. Although interesting, the place did not require the amount of time allocated. We were glad to take part in the Birkenhead Parkrun. A morning in Chester also helped while away some time. My teddy bear, Edward, accompanied us. You may read of his Explores in Liverpool and its surrounds here.
The Belfast leg of the trip was filled with nostalgia. We revisited several of the towns and villages located on the northern coast of the Ards Peninsula that my parents had loved and regularly took me as a child (I rarely appreciated them then). We caught up with friends and family, who made us welcome in their homes as well as joining us for dinners in fine, local eateries. Husband and I climbed Divis and Black Mountain – a first for me as they are located west of the city in an area I would have feared travelling through when I lived in troubled Belfast. The spectacular views from the ridges warmed my heart for a place I often think of negatively.
The hotel we stayed in prides itself on its comforts and grandeur. Located on the coast at Cultra – a wealthy enclave below which runs a coastal path I walked often as a teenager – I enjoyed reacquainting myself with the area. You may read my review of the hotel and spa here. Edward’s Explore of Belfast will be posted next week.
We returned home via Scotland, with an overnight stop in Dumfries to enable us to take part in their Parkrun. Good memories were made on this lengthy trip and I am grateful to those who helped make it special.
The rest of the month also had highlights. Husband bought me a fine, new bicycle that I took out on a couple of longer rides. As well as Parkruns, I started attending a new, local running club – a rare and brave sociable endeavour for me. The group is made up of new runners, or those returning to the activity after a break of many years. For the first time ever I was regarded as fast! Husband laughed when I told him this. Such opinion will undoubtedly change as the others build on their endurance and stamina, but I’ll take my brief moment while it lasts.
My little family have also faced changes this month. Elder son started a new job that requires him to work on site rather than from home, prompting him to buy his first car. Younger son returned to university. Both can still live at home and commute so we remain a unit of five, for which I am grateful. They may create a mountain of dishes and laundry for me to deal with but I value the daily updates that they are doing okay given all going on in the wider world.
I posted reviews for 7 books in September. Robyn once again took over the blog while I was on holiday and added a further 3 reviews.
As is customary in my monthly roundups, click on the title below to read the review and on the cover to learn more about the book.
Homesick by Jennifer Croft, published by Charco Press
Isaac and the Egg by Bobby Palmer, published by Headline
Odesa at Dawn by Sally McGrane, published by V&Q Books
A Little Unsteadily Into Light – New Dementia-Inspired Fiction, published by New Island Books
Translated Short Stories
Punishment by Ferdinand von Shirach (translated by Katherine Hall), published by Baskerville
Mathematics for Ladies by Jessy Randall, published by Goldsmiths Press
Hysterical – Exploding the Myth of Gendered Emotions by Pragya Agarwal, published by Canongate
The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah, published by Orbit
The Fever King by Victoria Lee, published by Skyscape
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard, published by Tor
Sourcing the books
Robyn couldn’t resist these beautiful editions of books she hopes one day to read.
Along with the restrained pile of books I claimed from my father’s library – for which, as you can see, no shelf space has yet been found – a generous quantity of review copies came through my door.
As ever I wish to thank all the publishers who send me their books to review – the arrival of a book parcel remains a cheering event in my day.
My thanks also to those who share my words across their social media platforms – your continuing support is always appreciated.
And to everyone reading this, I wish you and yours good health and the ability to pause and enjoy all that is still beautiful in our world and lives. May we strive, at all times, to be kind xx
So good to hear that going back was a positive experience.
Thanks, Linda, it was a good trip. Especially good to see my sister and her family again.