Friday Fun: Winter Is Coming – Cosy Chalet Time!

Nothing beats a cosy chalet at the foot of the ski pistes, with an open fireplace, good food, old friends and excellent books to surround you! The snow is not quite enough for skiing yet, the chalet remains to be booked (or paid for) but I do feel I have friends and books, so thank you all so much.

A photo shoot by photographer Andrew Borthwick of Chalet Solaise in Villars, Switzerland. Suisse Art of Bespoke website.
A photo shoot by photographer Andrew Borthwick of Chalet Solaise in Villars, Switzerland. Suisse Art of Bespoke website.
It's always about the views! From chaletstyle.com
It’s always about the views! From chaletstyle.com
For lovers of traditional, wood-heavy decor. From digsdigschalet.com
For lovers of traditional, wood-heavy decor. From digsdigschalet.com
A more modern take on wooden interiors. From Decoist.com
A more modern take on wooden interiors. From Decoist.com
Chalet in Courchevel. Can be yours for a week for an exorbitant price, from ultimateluxurychalets.com
Chalet in Courchevel. Can be yours for a week for an exorbitant price, from ultimateluxurychalets.com
Or you could rent this one facing Mont Blanc, from homedit.com
Or you could rent this one facing Mont Blanc, from homedit.com
I am captivated by the central stove in this one, also for rent. From ultimateluxurychalets.com
I am captivated by the central stove in this one, also for rent. From ultimateluxurychalets.com
Or what about this chalet in Aspen? Featured in Architectural Digest.
Or what about this chalet in Aspen? Featured in Architectural Digest.

 

 

Things That Made Me Happy in March

Holidays!

Yes, I know I complained they were a bit too long and that the children drove me crazy, but we did finally go skiing every day. Always better in retrospect than when you are living through it!

March1 March2

A Cat

A very well-behaved, affectionate and quiet friend.

With her friend Hedgehog.
With her friend Hedgehog.

The first signs of Spring in my garden

March4 March5

Reading

More varied and fun reading this month, although, surprisingly, not as many translations.

3 non-fiction books:

Ben Hatch: Road to Rouen

A hilarious travel journal from hell, France in a car with two small children in tow: a great fun read, perhaps just a little unfair to the French, but also hugely revealing about the English abroad.

Rachel Cusk: Aftermath. On Marriage and Separation.

Brigid Schulte:  Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time

Although this book does feel culturally specific (US working culture and time-poverty mindset is perhaps the most extreme example in the world), there was much here I could relate to: the confetti of minuscule leisure time slots, the mind pollution of endless to-do-lists that do not allow us to get into the flow, the ideal worker vs. the ideal mother, competitive parenting, gender division of labour. The author backs up her thesis with both research findings and personal anecdotes. This book deserves a review of its own, especially given that it is the ‘theme’ (if there is one) of my blog: not  finding time to write.

2 foreign books:

Fuminori Nakamura: The Thief

Another book that deserves its own review. I found it moving, nuanced, slightly disturbing and surprisingly lyrical, given the subject matter.

Daniel Bardet: Le Boche (first 5 volumes of BD – graphic novel)

Fascinating insight into war-time France, from the perspective of an Alsatian man, hounded everywhere because he is neither German nor French enough.

1 poetry collection:

Michael Symmons Roberts: Drysalter

1 literary novel:

Claire King: The Night Rainbow – beautifully lyrical recreation of a French countryside childhood – with deep shadows.

6 crime fiction novels (all in English in the original – how very unusual!)

Cara Black: Murder in Pigalle

Sarah Caudwell: Thus Was Adonis Murdered

I was looking for a change of pace this month and I got it with this novel: charmingly old-fashioned, with most of the action taking place ‘off-stage’ and being disclosed to Hilary Tamar and his/her team of barristers via letters. It’s a nice set puzzle, and there is plenty of witty dialogue and banter to liven things up, but I can see how this book might be accused of elitism, it does feel like an extended Oxbridge joke.

Liam McIlvanney: Where the Dead Men Go

Sarah Hilary: Someone Else’s Skin

Harry Bingham: Talking to the Dead

WolfMo Hayder: Wolf

I started this latest Mo Hayder on Saturday, not really expecting it to make it into this month’s reading. But I had to finish it overnight, it was so compelling (after a rather slow start, admittedly). A family being held hostage in their holiday home, a psychopathic killer who may or may not have been released from prison and Jack Caffery trying to figure out what a tiny message on a lost dog could possibly mean. Hayder’s trademark creepiness and nearly unbearable suspense, very chilling, completely mesmerising. Not for the faint of heart!

 

 

 

 

Last Snow of the Season

Endless purgatorial descent,
I burn and twist and stop again.
No silent bliss here, no chase of thrills.
The pleasing swish is watered down.
Nothing effortless about this glide:
My feet disgraced in strange contortions.
I will them left and they swing right.
I merely linger through the motions.

Snow in Switzerland

An older poem today, as I’ve been busy all week skiing with my children during the half-term holidays. Intense, hard work (on all sides), but ultimately I hope it will have been worth it!

Fun at Ski School: 5 Sentence Fiction Challenge

Not fictional enough, but a story that haunts me still…

‘Not more snow!’ moaned the littlest bear.
We moved to this snow-filled country for Daddy’s work: Mummy loves the winter sports, your brother the food. But you, the smallest and most curious of bears, the one who makes friends as easily as others make mistakes, you the smiley human bouncing-ball, you hate the cold and the white stuff.

Drunk and dizzied by the gleam of the sun on the slopes, I strap on your boots and nudge you into ski school. You nurse your frozen paws, slide miserably through puerile hoops, and ask yourself: ‘Why?’