It may seem that I’m doing nothing at the moment except staring at rugby matches all day, but I have managed to squeeze in some other activities as well in the past few days.
We are now the proud owners of a small raised garden bed into which we’ve put strawberry plants, silver beet (chard to the North Americans out there), and a variety of lettuces. I want a zucchini as well, but there were none in the shops this weekend. We planted the plants and were dismayed to see them drooping and forlorn the next morning. They weren’t coping with the wind which knocks things over and dries out the soil, so we had to rustle up a little wind break. A mesh cover draped over a pole like a rudimentary tent seems to have done the trick – everything’s looking much perkier today, and the ground has stayed moist. And the mesh has the welcome side effect of denying the neighbour’s cat entry to what she apparently believed was a nice new dirt box especially for her. One weekend of scraping layers of cat shit out of one corner of the garden was more than enough for me.
And, I’ve been on a reading binge. I bought myself a Mary Stewart novel while I was in Dunedin, on the off-chance that it would be fun. I read and re-read one of her children’s books as a child, and of course, I know about her Merlin books, but I’d never encountered her romantic thrillers/gothics before. She wrote them in the 50’s and 60’s, but they seem to have just been re-released because the University Bookshop had them prominently displayed, covers forward on the shelf, nicely placed to capture my attention.
They’re worth a read if you’re keen on pacy, well-written pulp novels that are full of improbable events and breathless chases, and feature instant romances (one kiss and you’re in love), beautifully-described (and often very exotic) locations, and appealing (and very much of their time) heroines. They certainly work for me – I’ve been reading them as fast as I can lay my hands on them. I’ve only got two left to find now and the library doesn’t hold one of them, so I may have to buy it to sate my unexpected Stewart addiction.
Best ones so far – Nine Coaches Waiting which is a good gothic novel (there’s a governess in danger in a strange and remote place, and a wonderful, nerve-wracking final chase); Airs Above the Ground which features a circus, horses, and a roof-top chase; and My Brother, Michael which is set in Greece (always a plus) and presents a genuinely creepy villain.