Over the years I’ve decided that May is probably my favourite month of the year. The weather’s just about right for me, everything comes properly alive again after winter and there’s a whole summer of promise ahead.
It’s surprising, then, that I’m in quite a reflective mood this week. I feel more autumnal than spring-like.
This week’s been a quiet one: self-contained and introspective. It’s been relaxing to get out in the warm evenings for long slow rambles with the dog. Poor Sally’s not up to bounding about the fields any more, but she’s quite content to limp along behind me as we walk along the river bank, or through the fields above where we used to live a few years ago. One of my favourite walks is alongside the river Derwent, down by the priory church in Old Malton. On Monday night the fields and woods rang out with birdsong. It seems louder, more varied and more vibrant than it has for years.
Yesterday felt like the hottest day of the year so far, so to cool down I went for a night walk round Malton. I love walking late at night when the rest of the world seems to be going to sleep. When I left home at eleven there were still a few house lights on in my my road, but most people were already asleep. Most of North Yorkshire goes to sleep early, which is pleasing for a night-owl like me. I love the feeling of having the place to myself, quietly observing the jumbled Georgian and Victorian streets.
There are still a few people about: late night shop keepers, putting down the shutters; the railway signalman packing up for the night once the last train has departed for York; and the odd straggler leaving the pub and the takeaway. I was only out walking for an hour, but it seemed much longer. Back at home ours were the last house lights on in the street. I’ve got it all to myself as I write this post.
I’ve read voraciously this week too: devouring books in a way I haven’t done for years. I started off by finishing Charles Dickens’ Picture from Italy, which I read to get myself in the mood for visiting Florence and Bologna in June. Then I moved on to some of the books I bought from the Ryedale Dog Rescue charity shop in March. First it was John Wyndham’s classic 1950’s science fiction tale The Midwich Cuckoos, followed up by C.S Forrester’s whimsical love/adventure story, The African Queen. Next I read a book lent to me by a friend, Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. If you’ve never read this book, you must. I did something I haven’t done in a long time and read it through virtually in one session, punctuated by a few hours sleep when I couldn’t focus my eyes any more. Jane, if you’re reading this, thanks very much for lending me the book. You were absolutely right, it’s amazing and unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
I’m now finishing off my reading fest with an author I’d heard of, but never read before: C.P. Snow. He’s largely a forgotten author now, but wrote what looks like it’s going to be an interesting series of eleven books Strangers and Brothers. I’m reading the first one, Time of Hope. It’s another charity shop purchase, so it looks like I got a good deal with three great books. Who says a pound can’t buy anything nowadays!
All that reading adds up to a plentiful supply of reviews for this blog. Look out for them from the end of June.
I’m going to round off my quiet week with a day’s fishing on Friday. Going fishing is absolutely the best head emptier I know: it forces me to be still and quiet and focus on a small patch of water in front of me. This makes it a perfect antidote to the full on digital assault that most days seem to be.
There won’t be a Friday post this week. Given the atrocity committed in Manchester on Monday, what I’d planned to publish doesn’t seem quite appropriate, so I’ll hold it over for a while. With the time you’ll save not reading my post, you could pop over to the Just Giving page set up by the Manchester Evening News to help the families of Monday’s attack. They’re aiming to raise £2 million to help support the victims of this horrible crime. The link is https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/westandtogethermanchester
Hopefully after all this introspection I’ll bounce back next week. Until then take care of yourselves.