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.