Thursday, November 26th 2015
A friend recently expressed concern about me because my blog had apparently not been updated since November 7th, leaving what is for me, an unusual gap. I was able to reassure my friend that I was still extant and that my life was trundling along more or less as usual.
The gap in posts is not actually as long as it appears. The last post is admittedly dated November 7th but it was in fact posted on November 20th. This is because I always give a post the date on which the events described took place, not the date of writing. The real question, therefore, is Why did I post about our outing of November 7th only on November 20th?
The answer is that during August and the first weeks of September, Tigger had taken time off from work and we had arranged numerous trips, including day-excursions from home and two trips abroad to Amsterdam and Marseille. During this time, I was collecting material for blog posts much faster than I could post it and so fell very badly behind. In fact, at one point, I had 14 separate days, each with its supply of photos, queueing for attention. I began to feel that I would never catch up and I seriously considered dumping some of the dates altogether.
While I was thus working to catch up, we were still making trips at the weekend, thereby accumulating more material, so it was like trying to empty a pot that was continually being filled! Except when we were out and about, blogging had become a full-time occupation.
I finally managed to pass the finishing post, as noted, on November 20th, though the date of the post is 17 days earlier.
What happened next was a change in the weather. The temperature dropped and conditions outside became rather miserable. I hate the cold, especially when it rains at the same time, and my instinct is to curl up in the warm and go into ‘hibernation mode’. Tigger is made of sterner stuff, and I rely on her to overcome my objections and drag me out willy nilly into the great outdoors. For some reason, this time even Tigger seemed reluctant to face the cold and the wet and the generally unpleasant conditions. We scuttled out to have breakfast in one or other of our favourite cafes, dragged the shopping trolley round to Sainsbury’s as necessary and otherwise spent the rest of the time at home brewing tea and watching videos.
And guess what: I don’t feel in the least guilty about this; I enjoyed it no end.
For one thing, I rediscovered reading. I consumed a lot of books, some by authors I already knew and some by authors new to me. I finished off Les Souvenirs by David Foenkinos. I had bought it a while back and it had been hanging fire. This is a book on paper but most of my reading these days comes in the form of ebooks. I can put these on my iPhone, which goes everywhere with me, and thus I always have something to read wherever I happen to be.
On my iPhone I have three reading ‘apps’. The first Apple’s iBooks, which I use very seldom. The second is the Kindle app supplied by Amazon for reading the ebooks that it sells. You can use it to read Kindle-format (.mobi) ebooks obtained from other sources as well. The third is BlueFire, which is the best ebook reader for iOS that I know of. You can use it to read Adobe DRM-protected ebooks by entering your account details.
You will have to pay for recent ebooks as you would for a book printed on paper. However, there are now many sources of free ebooks. In the UK, copyright on books such as novels and other creative works lasts for 70 years from the year of the death of the author (the rule may differ in other countries). That means that any books by authors who died in or before 1945 may be digitized and distributed free. This is a vast treasure of good books.
The classic source for out-of-copyright books is Project Gutenberg. Already huge and varied, its stock is continually increasing as titles continue to be added. Another good source is epubBooks, though to download books from here you will first need to create a free account. If you use the Kindle app, you can download any of the free books available on Amazon, while the Bluefire reader has a link to Feedbooks from which you can download free books directly into the reader.
Among the authors that I have enjoyed from such sources are William Clark Russell, famous for his seafaring adventure stories set in the days of sail and R. Austin Freeman, a stalwart of the period known as The Golden Age of Detective Fiction, whose medico-legal expert John Thorndyke solves crimes by means of scientific investigation and the exercise of logic. Ernest Bramah Smith’s The Wallet of Kai Lung is an intriguing read if you can stand the convoluted prose style.
I am looking forward to the end of winter and an improvement in the weather but I have to admit that the cold season does bring pleasures of its own. Not the least of these is to lie in bed with the blanket pulled up to my chin, a cup of tea beside me, and an attention-grabbing book to read.