25 March 2012

Pretending it's 1945

I am not sure how it is where you live, but here in Washington, DC, and most of the eastern U.S. we had and unusually warm winter and June arrived in early March. But this weekend it has been grey, and rainy, and on the chilly side. Since we still have a large stack of firewood in the back yard I thought we should take advantage of the cooler (and certainly more seasonal) weather to use up some of the wood. But it was the discussion of leaving wood ash in the grate in Chapter 3 of The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford that really put me over the edge. So at 10:00 this morning I built a fire and have been enjoying the snap, crackle, pop of the burning wood.

The cozy library and Nancy Mitford (and a hunger pang or two) made me think that something was missing. So I whipped up a batch of scones, John made a pot of tea, and we went back to the library to settle in with our treats. Not being able to read and stuff my mouth full of scone at the same time I said to John that what was missing was Radio 4. Not having a wireless that picks up the BBC, after all Broadcasting House is about 4,000 miles away, I had to resort to a wireless of another sort. I fired up the laptop, logged on to www.bbc.co.uk/radio4 and now we are happily settled in and listening to a profile of Dame Edna Everage.  I guess the subject matter isn't exactly 1945, and of course me blogging about it isn't very 1945, but the fire, and the tea, and the scones, and the "wireless" has me pretending it is. But now that I think about it, I probably have used more than our sugar, cream, and butter ration would have allowed us in 1945.  And now the Shipping Forecast. I never understand a word of it, but it is so evocative.

All of this of course is getting me primed for our trip to England in May. We are off to Sissinghurst, Rye, the Cotswolds, and a quick stop in Oxford. But even before that we have so many fun things are coming up. Best friends are coming to visit from the Netherlands for two weeks. Then my parents will be here for 10 days, then a few weeks later more best friends from Atlanta will be with us.

And I should mention I am enjoying The Pursuit of Love.  I have tried reading this more than a few times but never got past the first page. Just never seemed to be in the mood for it. But I picked it up last night before bed and it was just the right thing. And is perfect for today. I hope you are enjoying your Sunday as much as I am enjoying mine.


  1. so glad you made it past the first page, it's so worth it! your sunday sounds charming.

  2. Strange how sometimes you have to give a book multiple tries before you enjoy it. I would have thought The Pursuit of Love would be just the sort of book you would enjoy first time around. ;-)

  3. I am sure you must be enjoying this book because you made the tea and scones. Nothing like setting the scene for a good read. Enjoy England, I just returned to Tasmania from there end of Feb. Went on a Penguin book buying spree, now waiting for them to all arrive. Enjoy your blog very much. cheers mate.

  4. Sounds like a perfect Sunday to me! Nothing like a good book and a great scone. I'm in Texas so I'd skip the fire, but there's nothing I like better than staying in on a rainy day (which are pretty rare) and reading a good English novel. I loved the first two Mitfords and I have a couple more on the TBR shelf.

  5. What a lovely afternoon! We're having more seasonable temperatures here in Burlington today but the past week or so was unbelievable...I think we hit 25C the other day which is unheard of!

    My husband and I had a super day in Toronto digging around a few second-hand bookshops and strolling in the sunshine. A scone would have been nice with my tea though.

  6. Don't you just love time travel? Isn't that partly why we read? I love the radio and remember my mother listening to soap operas on the radio. Today, I listen to Strange Tales, a podcast of old scary broadcasts.

    Your mention of the Shipping Forecast reminded me that newspapers in port cities used to print the Shipping News, small notices of which ships were arriving or leaving and what they carried in their holds. As a teenager who'd never been anywhere, it seemed very exotic.

  7. I love radio four thomas I use fall asleep a a lad listening to news the book at bedtime then a documentery or such wonderful radion ,all the best stu

  8. If you enjoy BBC's Shipping Forecast, you might be interested in Charlie Connelly's Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round The Shipping Forecast. The book explores the places behind the exotic names as heard over the radio. Armchair travel of a different sort. :)

  9. Much as I adore The Pursuit of Love, Linda irritates me a little more each time I re-read it. Much prefer Fanny!

  10. Daniel:It really did turn out to be a fabulous book.

    CB: I would have thought the same thing, but there was something about the glib reference on the first page to the blood of dead germans on a pick-axe that put me off.

    Pamela: Tasmania is on my list of must see places in Australia. So far I have only been to Sydney, Melbourne and Lizard Island up on the GBR.

    Karen: Since we had such a mild winter I am using every cool day I can to try and use up our firewood before summer. We really don't have good spot to get it out of the garden before the growing season.

    Darlene: Did you pick up Cluny Brown on your second hand book trip?

    Joan: Isn't it great how technology is letting us reconnect with old fashioned audio?

    Stu: Book at bedtime does sound very comforting.

    Michelle: Thanks for the tip on the Connelly book. It sounds fascinating.

    Vintage Reading: I know what you mean about Linda, but I found her less troubling than other characters of her ilk. Nice stable Fanny is definitely the most like me.

  11. For a small town, Rye has an impressive number of literary and artistic connections. If you have a hire car, I'd also recommend Dungeness (Derek Jarman's cottage and a generally strange, wonderfully desolate place) and St Leonard's church at Old Romney - an eccentric interior and a Doctor Syn connection.

  12. OMG...at last another BBC4 radio online fan! I am totally addicted. Desert Island Disks! Book at Bedtime! Book of the Week! Short Stories! Plays! And yes, I adore The Shipping Forecast, especially the theme music, it's so silly and wonderful. Gales and knots and all that otherworld stuff.


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