Harry Potter, The Da Vinci Code, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and, most recently, 50 Shades of Grey; all best-selling books that I feel I should have read.  Ah, the power of publishers and the power of curiosity.  I am one of those people who usually refuses to read best-sellers on principle.  But really there’s a closet follower in me because I usually succumb at some point.

What got me thinking about all this was that yesterday I sat across from a young bloke who was reading 50 Shades of Grey.  I get the impression it’s a “girlie” book, so, for example, I didn’t see any blokes reading The Girl with the Pearl Earring, yet I suspect it’s the soft porn element that’s got the male interest piqued.  I have no problem at all with who reads books, I just find it mildly amusing that a soft porn book is a current best-seller and that it’s so openly read by both men and women.  I have had a sneaky peak at it, in Sainsbury’s, and I was tempted to buy it.  I don’t think it’s actually the subject matter that is of particular interest, more that I want to know what all the fuss is about, which is the case with all best-sellers.

As for the Harry Potter books, I refused to read them as they were coming out because it seemed like on every mode of transport I went on, in every office, on friends’ coffee tables, there was a Harry Potter book.  Then an American friend, obsessed by the books, decided to fly (he works for an airline) to London to see the first film on the first day of general release.  And he got me a ticket, so I had to go!  I absolutely loved it.  He came over for the second film too, though this time I think he went a step further than I could handle: we all had Harry Potter baseball caps!  I think he “only” flew over for two films.  Since then, I have watched all bar the last two at the cinema, and the final two on DVD in a mammoth double whammy of viewing pleasure!  Somewhere around film four, having had a few friends tell me I should read them as I would love them, I decided to succumb when a friend lent me the first three books.  For however many weeks it was, I read one to seven in rapture, awe and delight; such magical, creative, adventure-packed and brilliant books.  That had been the first in a long time I read at every possible opportunity, including walking out of tube stations, in any breaks, however short and way past my bed time.

As for the other books I mentioned, I haven’t read any of them but I do have a copy of The Da Vinci Code and the appeal of that book lies in the fact a lot of it is written about places I know and I recently saw the remains of a Knights Templar church in Dover and wanted to know more about it, to which it was suggested I read The Da Vinci Code.

I find it fascinating the books that stand out as best-sellers and how or whether they reflect a general mood of the nation.  I guess 50 Shades of Grey isn’t a serious or depressing novel, it’s about relationships and, despite there being plenty of soft porn books around, it’s a genre that a lot of people have probably never read but probably been curious about.  Easy escapism?  I think that probably does reflect what most of us need or want right now.


“The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick was made into the film “Hugo”.  The story of Hugo Cabret is delightfully and beautifully told, both as the book and the Scorsese film, inspired by a collector of automata, Georges Méliès.  Its perfection to me lies in the imaginative creativity required to create a world and characters around a real person’s collection of mechanical wind-up figures.

I have always loved children’s stories because I associate them with adventure, escapism, wild imagination and a  proper progression from a start to a finish.  The delightful thing about Hugo (the film is an amazing adaptation of the book, though the book is illustrated so “gave” Scorsese his set) is that it’s set in a real world with a magical element.  Hugo Cabret, an orphan constantly escaping the “baddie” Station Inspector, lives in 1931 Paris within the walls of a huge station, his unofficial job to keep the station clocks running and on time.  Hugo was taught by his recently deceased father how to repair clocks and other mechanical things.  He and his father share a project to restore to working order an automaton, one more complicated than most, but who we know will write something.

Having stolen a few too many cogs and sprockets from an elderly station toy shop owner, the owner sets out to catch Hugo.  He takes from Hugo what is clearly his most treasured pocket-possession, a notebook of drawings for the assembly of the automaton, as drawn by Hugo’s father.  To get the book back, the toy shop owner has Hugo work in the shop repairing broken toys.  Through this work, Hugo meets Isabelle, the adventure-starved goddaughter of “the old man”.  She introduces him to a friend in a bookshop, somewhere a poor orphan would not normally be allowed to roam freely.  In turn, Hugo introduces Isabelle to the cinema.

This is a description of just the early stages of the story, for to say more would give so much away, things that are a joy to discover for yourself.  There is magic, a bit of crying potential, some wonderful snippets of cinematic history, development of characters and relationships within the station staff … but perhaps the most amazing thing you take away from having read the book or seen the film is the magic of cinema in its early days, and indeed up to now.  The automaton is also part of the cinematic story and the discovery of the automaton’s secrets is a heart-warming joy to see being revealed.

“The Invention of Hugo Cabret” is a story that can only make you feel good.  There is mystery, magic, danger, intrigue, discovery, romance, comedy, niche history, awe, ahhhhhh-factor and an ending that wraps it all up into a great big fuzz of loveliness in a totally uncheesey way.  Read it, watch it; whichever you do, you will reach the end and feel inspired and wanting to watch old films, like really old films, and you will think of, for example, your grandparents in a slightly different way for this is also a beautiful story of past events and people that need to be and should be remembered and relived.

{22/05/2012}   Books

I have just finished an unexpectedly good book, semi-autobiographical, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, in which a life without books forms a significant part of the story.  During the 1970s Cultural Revolution in China, educated children (I am over-simplifying) were sent to remote villages to be re-educated, ie a life without books, music and formal education.

Imagine growing up and reading and loving stories, for example, then being sent away potentially never to see or read a book again.  One of the delightful things about the Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress story is that when a book is discovered and read, it ignites genuine appreciation and love of the story and the life it evokes.  The children (older teens) are able to recreate parts of the books, imagine what life outside their village is like and to escape into a literary induced world.

I have been on train journeys without a book or anything to read and it has rendered me fidgety and desperate to have something to read.  I have even contemplated asking a fellow passenger to borrow something, anything, they have that I could read.  Books aren’t just about learning facts or reference, they are about escapism, challenging not only your mind but your imagination and creativity.

However, the books that form part of the secret reading in Balzac are classics, books written in days when by and large the quality of writing was exemplary.  Nowadays, picking up a random book in a shop because it looks interesting isn’t going to guarantee you a good read because it is increasingly apparent to me that a lot of dreadfully written books are published and you have no way of knowing which are the ones to avoid until you start reading.

Chick lit is one thing, it’s easy reading, but it can at least be well written.  I am not talking about the content so much; there are books that are just poorly edited, badly written and which are too awful to read.  I would far rather have fewer choices but know that each book available to buy were a classic in waiting.  There are very few books I have read of late that could or should stand the test of time.  And I’m not even going to dip into the trash that is biographies of wannabes.  I can’t cope with the crap-celebrity-biography genre, it pains me and they are a disgrace to publishing and proper writers.

I keep wanting to write about Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress but I don’t want to give it away, it’s well worth reading.  The book ends with the most powerful line I have possibly ever read.  It’s an extremely interesting take on the influence of literature.  If I were to have a stash of, let’s say, the front table of Waterstone’s, newly published books as the only books I could read and re-read, I fear that over years any writing I did would degenerate, I would long for an unattainable and unnatural perception of perfection, my imagination would be left stunted and I wouldn’t be too sure that I was missing out by not having more books.  Ok, so that’s (hopefully) an exaggeration but loving and being influenced by literature is almost equally as worrying to me as it was to Maoist China, albeit for very different reasons.  For me the joy of reading now is more about the rare treats of discovering a book that’s well written, is of enduring relevance and interest and which transports me into another world.

     These days I seem to read a book (fiction for these purposes) a month on average.  That’s not very much.  I just read a trilogy (about which I waxed lyrical here, Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness) within a month but the book I read before that I carried around with me for months (Tennyson’s Gift by Lynne Truss).  Yet I have hundreds of books, most of which I haven’t read.

I have just discovered it’s worse than I thought.  I just looked at the book shelf next to me.  Admittedly I have a vague recollection that when I moved here, with a view to sorting books shelves and cases into a semblance of order at a later date, this shelf was largely used for books I hadn’t read.  However, there are 42 books on it, eight of which are non-fiction (some I have at least referred to).  So for these purposes, there are 34 books on it.  I have read a mere eight of them, and two of those are books I read more than 15 years ago.

I still buy books, but it’s rare I buy a book because I want to read it straight away.  Sometimes, actually quite often, I look through the shelves and cases of my books.  This interests me.  Right now, I am poised to start a new book.  There are a lot of books I want to read, I will enjoy deciding which one to start next.

Why does it take me so long to read a book?  I don’t read before bed as I need no help falling asleep, in fact I couldn’t sit up in bed long enough to pick up the book and turn to the right page. I have a 55 minute always-seated train journey when I work in London, ideal reading time, but I seem to vary my train activities: letter writing, blog writing, looking out the window, listening to music (I can’t listen to music AND read), catching up on emails, Facebook and texts, reading a magazine or reading a book.  In the evenings, I don’t often watch TV but I don’t usually read, I suppose I do little bits around the house.  Actually, part of the reason I don’t read at night is because it makes me sleepy and I don’t concentrate as well at night as during the day.

I want to read more.  I absolutely love being absorbed in a good book.  Maybe that’s another issue: you have to get through quite a lot of questionable writing to get to a well-written, engaging book.  It’s a huge disappointment to read a book that sounds amazing, a great concept, only to discover that it’s not well-developed, the writing isn’t great … if I want crap, I can watch the TV (with exceptions) and turn it off.  With a book, I don’t like giving up, because that’s what it feels like if you never make it to the end.  Too much is published perhaps.  But if it’s so hard to get published, how on earth does all the bad stuff get through?

I always feel strangely envious of people in book clubs because they “have to” read a book every two weeks or a month in order to participate.  I just don’t think I work well having regular meetings/groups etc because, partly due to work and partly due to not being a creature of habit, I panic a bit about making plans in the future on immovable dates.  Now I have an idea: with friends, no matter where they live, agree to read a certain book over, say, three weeks.  Then email or text or even call each other to share thoughts as you go through.  That could work for me.  Any takers?

Why do I have so many books (fiction.  Non-fiction is a whole different matter)?  I guess like buying anything based on oh-that’s-nice; if a book looks interesting, you buy it … then store it away and, in my case, either never read it or leave it on your shelf for years until finally it piques your interest at a time when you want to start a new book.  Maybe that’s the point.  A lot of people will walk into your home and look at your books, a not entirely subtle way of working you out.  Some people have books to make them look intelligent or interesting, I think they are usually pristine matching sets of books.  Some people just shove their books where there’s a space.  But don’t judge me too harshly (I am now thinking of having a big book-arrange!) as in my lounge I have a Cliff Richard biography (I can explain), Mills & Boon (I can explain) and a Haynes guide to motorcycle maintenance standing next to each other.  You’d largely get me wrong if you read much into that.  Ah, that’s exactly one of the things I love about books and people’s bookcases: they add mystery and interest to the books’ owner!

PS The photo looks awful.  My book arranging is terrible.  I am going to sort my books, at least separating fiction and non-fiction.

     It’s not very often a book, in fact three in this case, makes we want to shout from the rooftops that everyone must read it.  But this trilogy has totally blown me away … and made me have some unusual dreams!  I’m not a book review type person but if just one person reading this gets inspiration and goes out and gets these three books, my rooftop shouting will not have been in vain!    I don’t see these as three separate books.  If you read the first it’d be like stopping at a major cliffhanger point to not read books two and three.  Make sure you have two and three to hand!

The opening lines come from a dog, Manchee.  Interesting start.  (I should point out now that this is a “young adult” trilogy, with Philip Pullman His Dark Materials adult appeal.)  You are then kind of introduced to the world where it’s set.  I never quite got my head around where it is.  There are two moons but geography like ours so I’m happy to accept it’s another world that is laid out a bit like ours, with seasons, night and day.  The main character is a boy called Todd, who is oblivious to what the adults in his village know about how they came to be the only people living there, just men.  Todd was the last child to be born before the women disappeared.  He is about a month away from being when everyone goes from boy to man and learns a whole lot of things you just know you wouldn’t want to know.  Early on in the first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Todd is told in no uncertain terms that he needs to run away, with just Manchee for company.  He is given a map and, as it’s obvious there is huge unrest in part triggered by Todd’s Noise alerting people to the fact he has “heard” silence and also to his impending adulthood initiation, Todd’s beloved family (two friends of his parents who are dead) send him running to the swamp.  He’s not a heroic boy.  He’s just confused and lonely and only just sure about the running away bit.  He trusts Ben, his father figure, so he goes, with just a backpack of supplies and a book his mother left for him but which he’d never seen due to all books being confiscated and Ben having hidden it.  Todd can’t read.

What I haven’t mentioned is that all men have Noise, which is their thoughts.  Which everyone can hear.  So they can’t keep secrets.  In the book you can easily identify the Noise talking because it’s in a totally different font.  Only men have Noise.

Todd, having had his first vicious fight with the evil preacher from the town, runs to where he can feel the presence of silence, something he’s never experienced.  There he finds a girl, Viola, who is the only survivor of the scout “ship” she landed in.  It is her silence, Noise-free, that he senses.

Todd and Viola slowly but surely become an inseparable force.  As they run, through other populated areas, all of whom mistrust Todd because of where his Noise tells them he’s from, they discover the true extent of the hideous army behind them, that is being led by the tyrannous Mayor of Prentisstown, where Todd until then had lived, oblivious to anything outside that small man-filled town.

All this happens in the first half of the first book.  Up until the point where they realise there is an army following them and that the army wants Todd in particular, it’s a bit … well, not slow but not that engaging.  But it’s well written and the idea of Noise is interesting and really, really well developed.

What has really struck me about this epic story is that Patrick Ness comes out with twist after twist, and all of them completely feasible, yet none of them I’d seen coming.  And they smack you in the face when they do happen.  Near the end of The Knife of Never Letting Go and of Monsters of Men, I sobbed.  I mean, proper full-on sobbing.  By the middle of Monsters of Men, you know it is going to end horribly, but by book three, there is no stopping.  It’s absolutely fantastic.  Exciting, thrilling, shocking and so, so well written.

Thinking about it in its whole, I feel a real sense of the months passing as they do in the story.  Just writing about the beginning of the story here made me realise how much the characters grow, the world around them develops and how immersed you become in their world, in their quest.

I loved it, really loved it, but I was quite shocked at how disturbing it is for children.  But I appreciate there would have been books like that when I was a teenager, I was just more interested in Sweet Valley High and other such mush/trash!  There is genocide, betrayal, love, hate, evil, solidarity, murder, war, terror … and the twists right the way through to the end are just staggering and not even over the top.  Read it.  Don’t give up unless you get to the end of The Knife of Never Letting Go and have absolutely no interest in what happens.  It’s a slow starter but a very fast ender!  And please, please let me know if you do read or have read it and what you thought.

About 20 years ago I first read Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple” (it still pains me to omit the “u” in colour).  At that age I don’t recall having any real opinions about religion.  I was taken along to church (C of E) when I was even younger but my mum soon realised that was an education there was no point her pursuing.  I feel strangely conscious about writing strong opinions about God and church so I am being neutral.  I have never known a subject to inflame so many people and that’s not what this is about.

I was going to find the line that I am referring to but maybe it’s more important to write what I remember it being about.  Celie is with another girl (I haven’t read it for such a long time, the names and people have all faded in my memory) and they are playing in a field of purple flowers.  I always had and still have a vivid image of that field and it is so beautiful.  Celie is questioning how you can believe in God with all the bad things that happen.  Her friend tells her that to her every time she sees something beautiful, like a field of purple flowers on a sunny day, that to her is God, in the beauty and remarkable things all around.

I believe that even when things are shit, in fact beyond shit too, that if you look, really look, you will see something amazing and if you let it, it can bring at least a watery smile to your face.  In a nut shell, that is as far as my belief in God and religion goes.  And I’m happy with it.  Yesterday, I saw one of my favourite purple flower moments: seagulls running on the spot/doing their rain dance to lure worms up from the ground.  Every now and then I see the seagulls eat the fruit of their labour and there is a delightfully smug look on their faces.  I love seeing that.  I’m a bit into lists at the moment.  Here are some other purple flower, smiley moments, in no particular order:

Seeing the sun’s rays on an otherwise dull day.

A rainbow.

Seeing those leaves that are furry and soft, stroking one and being amazed all over again that a leaf can be so fat and furry.

Red poppies growing in abundance.

Seeing early daffodils and knowing it’s almost spring.

Lambs playing.

The sea – its colours, its unpredictability, how it changes all the time, the noise, the smell.

Frost, particularly around marsh areas.

Watching leaves or other lightweight things being blown about in the wind to make them look like they’re dancing.

Small dogs “walking” (because their legs move so fast they blur).

Feathers and those dandelion things floating – I always feel a need to watch them and as they fall so slowly, it slows me down.

Seeing a plump, juicy, dust-free blackberry growing, picking it, eating it and it being as delicious as it looked like it should be.

Snow – I would love to see snow falling for the first time, that must be the ultimate snowy magicality (word?!)

Sunrise, particularly over rural areas.

There are so many things we have the opportunity to see that have the power to make us feel, however temporarily, warm and fuzzy; they are like gifts.  I don’t ever want to stop noticing them.  What’s that expression about smelling the roses?  Yeah, that’s about right too.  So here endeth my warm fuzzy all-in-nature purple flower moment/religious beliefs explanation.

Very annoyingly, for the last two posts, my paragraphs have been ignored. I “upgraded” the blogspot settings and it appears to be a downgrade … [hence now on wordpress, with paragraphs!]

I’ve read it!  It didn’t exactly take long to read and I did feel a little self-consious reading it on a train but I have now read my first Famous Five story as an adult!  I was right about a few things but wrong in that Anne, being the girlie girl, doesn’t stay behind to cook.  I was right about the tomboy, George, having the best ideas and right about her dog, Timmy, saving the day with barks.  The baddies weren’t thick.

In brief, the story is set at George’s family home in the middle of nowhere near the sea.  The other three children are her cousins.  They all spend the Christmas holidays with George’s parents.  They have a tutor employed to teach them every morning.  George and Timmy (who refuses to appoach the tutor – a big hint that all is not right with Mr Roland) do not like Mr Roland, in part because Mr Roland doesn’t like dogs and also because he has “thin and cruel” lips which is always a sign that someone is “spiteful and hard”.

Meanwhile, the Famous Five discover a hidden map to a secret passage.  This involves the pressing of wall panels and a lot of Indiana Jones type secret buttons and moving stones.  Then there are a few eavesdropping and spying incidents and there is even snow to ease footprint following.  George’s father’s only copy of a top secret are stolen.    There are two “artists” staying at a farmhouse over yonder, into whose rooms the secret passage leads.  Due to the eavesdropping and spying, George’s father’s top secret (war reference?) papers are retrieved.  There is a passageway chase, the girlie girl, Anne, of course trips and hurts her ankle so is helped along.  George and Timmy fend off the two artists/baddies and the top secret papers are returned to a hugely relieved Uncle Quentin.  Mr Roland meanwhile is laid up in bed with a cold.  Here is where the story takes a turn that certainly wouldn’t be realistic now!  Spoiler alert: Mr Roland is locked in his room overnight, despite his protestations.  Timmy guards the secret passage entrance and holds the two artists when they sneak in to get the papers back.  As there is so much snow around, they decide that the police wouldn’t be able to get there so lock the two con artists (hee, hee) in the room with Mr Roland.  The next day, the police ski over (!) and announce: ” We’ll just put the handcuffs on them, so that they don’t try any funny tricks.  You keep the door locked too, and that dog outside.  They’ll be safe there for a day or two. We’ve taken them enough food till we come back again.  If they go a bit short, it will serve them right!”  Excellent law and order there.

And so endeth my foray into The Famous Five, though I notice there is a Famous Five Club which I could join.  I either never wanted to join and wear the badge so “friends” all over the world would know me “at once” or I never had the required 15p postal order or postage stamps (no coins, mind).  I wonder what would happen if I wrote to the address, which is on London Wall, EC2!

{13/01/2012}   The Famous Five

I am currently researching and planning for the writing of a children’s story. I love children’s stories because I love the concept of story, of a proper beginning, middle and end. I am reading various kinds of fairy tales at the moment and am about to start some darker Angela Carter fairy stories.

Today I looked through my book cases for inspiration and came across “Five Go Adventuring Again”, an Enid Blyton Famous Five story.  My mum gave it to me, it says: “For Karina, to remind you of your piano concert.”  Going by the date, I was eight.  I have a dreadful memory so have no idea of the connection between a piano concert (surely I wasn’t doing concerts at eight, I definitely don’t remember that!) and a Famous Five story.  Maybe when I’ve read it I will recall the connection, but I doubt it.  I loved The Famous Five and, to a lesser extent, The Secret Seven.  But I am slighly apprehensive about re-reading one of them in my adult years.

I had a teacher when I was 8/9 who was extremely strict and scary.  At that time, I recall that her children were adults, but that when they were children they, like us in her class, were not allowed to read or possess Enid Blyton books, I think for political reasons (I am properly intrigued what I will think reading one again).  She said that if anyone gave her children books as presents, she would open them and if they were Enid Blyton, she would replace them with more suitable books!  I always felt this was wrong, even more so now I think about it!

I am now going to share my fuzzy memories of Famous Five books (and please bear in mind this is likely to be wrong, I really do have a dreadful memory).  I will at some point write about the book post-reading.

I recall the five being four children and one dog.  There are two boys and two girls, though one girl is a tomboy.  I don’t recall one boy being whatever the opposite of a tomboy is though.  Hmm, I fear it will be quite sexist with the girlie girl looking after everyone.  There are definitely adventures.  I have a horrible feeling the girlie girl will stay behind to cook lunch or something equally dreadful.  I think the tomboy girl will be the source of the best ideas.  I think the dog will bark at opportune moments and save the day at times.  I think all baddies will be thick men.  If this sounds un-PC, it is because I am pretty sure these stories were too.  This book was originally published in 1943, wow, we were still in the midst of the Second World War.  I expect one of the main reasons I liked these books was because of the tomboy and my desire to be like her, ie like a boy.  Oh dear, I am beginning to understand why our teacher banned them!  I wonder what the adventures were about, maybe based around spying on people loading vans with illegal things … or am I straying into A-Team territory?!

I guess if nothing else, the reading of this book will be a lesson in how society has changed over the past 69 – no, surely not that long – years.  That said, I read and enjoyed this particular one 41 years after publication. As an eight year old, maybe I was just brainwashed into thinking it was ok. I have a definite niggle they were not ok!

My £2, taped together, pages falling out copy

I bought this book in July 2010 for £2.  It’s been a source of entertainment ever since.  It’s outrageous and shocking to read today.  Here’s part of the preface to set the scene:

“The first edition of this book, published in 1928, was compiled with the hope that it would prove of some assistance to newcomers to the Colony, to young or inexperienced housekeepers, and to bachelor settlers in Kenya, who must often find themselves obliged to put up with incompetency on the part of untrained native cooks or houseboys.”

Anyone fancy an egg experiment, as detailed in this book (This doesn’t appeal to me, particularly the toast soaked in milk aspect!):

Eggs Daisy
4 or 6 eggs
4 or 6 rounds of toast
salt and pepper
a little milk

Butter toast and place in oven.  Separate white and yolks of eggs and beat up whites until very light and stiff. Pile them on the slices of toast, which should be previously dipped in milk.  Make a hollow in the white and drop in the yolk of the egg.  Bake in quick oven till yolks are set and whites a light brown, dust with pepper and salt.  Serve very hot.

“Three Hints to Bachelors”:

“(1) Explain to your boy the danger of using damp bed linen and clothing, and see that after ironing, he airs all these in the sun, or by the fire, before putting them away in boxes or drawers.  Many an illness has been traced to carelessness in this matter.
“(2) Tell your boy that socks are not washed in the same way as khaki clothes, but must be washed in warm soapy water, rinsed in warm water, and hung up to dry.
“(3) Avoid chill as you would poison.  If you come in wet, have a hot bath at once, then put on dry clothing, and take 5 grains of quinine, with a hot drink, preferably tea or coffee.  Unless you can sit by a fire, go to bed and keep warm.”

Cure for hiccups:

“Drink 1/2 a teaspoonful of vinegar, and keep the arms in an upright position for a minute or so afterwards.”

“Orders to Servants”

Useful orders to servants (English – Ki-Swahili – Ki-Settler):

“Dust well, do not flick with the duster.”
“Every day the bwana wants hot water for shaving.”
“I do not allow strange boys near the house.”
“Make tea and bring it here now.”
“You are insolent!  You must look pleasant (or) pleased.”

Some Kikuyu sentences (many of which are put into idiom) to give orders:

“When you dig have a basket besides you, into which to put small stones which you find when digging.  Stones may stop a flower finding food or room for its roots.”
“Cut the edge straight like the top of a table.”
“Do not forget to give the poultry much water to drink every day.”

I got sidetracked looking through recipes.  I’m going to choose one, make it and see how it turns out.  Which of the following shall I go for:

Apple Balls, Delicate Cakes, Silver Cake, Lemon Queens or Apple Amber?

My first challenge is set!

et cetera