BookendsSunday Salon

Wales gets on the map

Time to get that cuppa brewing and those Hot Cross buns buttered. After a lifetime of tasting various versions of these buns I feel qualified to vote the ones my dad makes as by far the best. Even though he gave up his baking business more than 20 years ago he keeps his hand in every Easter with a bunch of these buns for selected customers only (ie family and friends). Forget about those variations they now offer in supermarket – chocolate flavoured for goodness sake – they are no substitute for the real thing. Sorry you can’t taste them for yourselves but I’m planning to scoff the lot…..

Suitably sustained I’m in good shape to do a catch up on what’s been happening in the Booker Talk world of late.

Wales on the Map

I admire bloggers like Lisa at ANZLitLovers and Sue at Whispering Gums who are advocates for the literature from their country. Reading their blogs made me realise last year how poor a job I did as an ambassador for my own native land of Wales. I’ve been slowly rectifying that on the blog (you can see some of the results on the Authors from Wales page). The Book on the Map series run by Cleopatra at CleopatraLovesBooks has given me an opportunity put Wales into the spotlight via an interview with the author Thorne Moore who lives in Pembrokeshire and whose book A Time of Silence I discovered late last year. If you have a moment in between all that bun-eating, do take a look at the interview on Cleo’s site and the superb photos.

2017 Goals Update

Goal settingLet’s start with the good news here. My first goal was to cut back on buying/acquiring anything new so I could enjoy the ones I already own. At the start of the year I had 314 unread books in my personal library. Just over three months into the year and the tally has broken the 300 mark – just (at 298). It would have been even lower but the fact I gained a few donations from my sister (two of which have duly been returned unread) and I won two giveaways. It hasn’t been as onerous as I expected though I won’t guarantee not to slip a little in the next few weeks. The one thing I know I’ll have to watch is that I don’t over-compensate for the enforced deprivation by buying a stack of new stuff in the second half of the year.

How about the second goal which is to get a bit more creative with images I use on this blog? swallows-of-kabulThis got off to a slow start. I worked my way through a manual on how to use the Photoshop software program but it was hard going. I had bought a scaled down version because I know the full one is way too sophisticated for my needs but even then the vast array of tools was just confusing. I produced a few montages – like this one of the Swallows of Kabul but they weren’t any great shakes and each one seemed to take forever to produce.  Then last week I did what I should have done months ago – turned to my resident Photoshop expert (otherwise known as Booker Talk husband) who uses the full blown version for his graphic design work.  I’d stupidly assumed the two versions wouldn’t be similar to any great degree. But after just one hour he figured out what I needed to do and away I went.

My first attempt – His His-Bloody-ProjectBloody Project – turned out pretty well I thought though I had to go knocking on his door for help more than once.
The second one – The Daughter of Time – was all my own work. Now I’m not claiming these are brilliant but they are a lot more visually appealing than the standard book cover image I’ve used for the last few years. Maybe not quite a giant leap for mankind but this certainly counts as progress.

Project Update 

This week I finished reading The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy which represent a significant milestone in my Booker Prize project. It means I now have just 10 titles remaining to read. What’s been the best titles I’ve read so far? You might have seen a recent joint post I did with fellow blogger Joslyn of Chronic Bibliophilia on this point. We challenged ourselves to identify our top three Booker winning titles. Here are my top three. I’ve also ranked all the others in order and in due course will reveal my least favourite titles. Of course these choices might change by the time I get to the end of the project – certainly my enjoyment of The God of Small Things has pushed that up to the top of the list.

Progress on the Classics Club has been just as slow this year as it was in 2016. I’ve read only one title on my Classics Club list so far this year but it was a good one – Dr Thorne by Anthony Trollope. But hey these are classics and most of them have been around for a hundred years or so; I reckon they can wait a few more years until I get to them.

And that’s it for today everyone. Back to working my way through the rather large collection of chocolate my mum seemed to think it was essential I had this Easter Sunday. Hope you all enjoy your day….


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

22 thoughts on “Wales gets on the map

  • So many good things in this post! I am impressed with all the reading you have done of your own books. And good work with the photoshop learning! Pretty soon you will be putting together images with the best of them!

  • Thanks for the mention Karen. I greatly appreciate it. Good luck with your project. I think whatever bloggers can do to promote “smaller” literatures is an achievement.

    I love the sound of your Dad’s HCB, even though I detest the things. They are one thing I didn’t miss when I went wheat-free over 30 years ago! BUT, I don’t hold with this playing around with classic dishes. I remember being horrified when we were living in the US in the early 1990s and finding, in the local supermarket, Australian blueberry scones, Australian caramel pecan scones and Australian chocolate chip scones! First off, why “Australian”? I know people have played a bit with scones – such as our famous Pumpkin Scones – but those were a travesty. I like plain potato chips, plain pancakes, etc etc.

    As for progress on your goals, good for you. I love that you set some goals and are actually making progress.

    • No I cant see what’s Australian about any of those items either. Food manufacturers seem to constantly play around with stuff in an effort to get us to buy more but the results are often vile sounding – cheese stuffed into the crust of a pizza for example. Italians must shudder everytime they go into an American pizza place at some of the aberrations on offer

      • I know. I just want plain potato crisps not lime and black pepper. Have you noticed that as soon as they add flavours to potato chips they add a whole bunch of other stuff including milk powder!

        • Lamb and mint sauce crisps – YUK. They have to add stuff just to make it taste of anything

  • I did read The God of Small Things many years ago and now I can’t recall it and probably should read it again. I just read & reviewed Julian Barnes’s novel The Sense of an Ending, which I liked. Where does that one fall on your Booker list? The movie of it just came out here, which follows the book pretty closely. It’s a good film.

    • Sense of an Ending comes pretty low down the list in fact Susan – number 30 at the moment. It was fine but I can’t remember much about it.

  • looloolooweez

    Ooh, new blogs to add to my “check this out/snoop around” list!

    Highlighting local(ish) authors is a great idea. I can’t think of the last book I read from Wales; ‘A Time for Silence’ definitely going to have to go on my TBR.

    Also, great job with building up your Photoshop skills. It’s such a useful program, but it can be a bit intimidating to start with! You’ve clearly made some progress with it.

    • there are some great blogs to follow – I think I had about 200 on my feedlist at one time but gradually have worked out which are must reads and which fall into the category of ones I dip into periodically

  • I have started taking my own photos of the books I read. I know that isn’t exactly the same as using Photoshop, but it’s something.

    • I played around with that idea but my photography skills are not that great

  • Thank you SO much for appearing on Bookonthemap feature. You’re now on the Booktrail too and I really enjoyed your post and comment. Much appreciated x

  • Thanks for the mention, what a lovely surprise!
    We’ve had a quiet Easter this year, but friends came round to try a new recipe that seemed just perfect for Easter Sunday lunch. It’s basically bread-and-butter pudding made with hot cross buns instead, and I have to tell you, I am purist about HCBs too but this pud is *divine*. Get 6 of your dad’s best buns and slice them in thirds. In a big mixing bowl combine 300ml of thickened cream, 300 ml of milk, 6 eggs, 3/4 cup of caster sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla essence. Layer the base of a baking pan with 1/3 of the sliced buns and pour over a scant layer of custard mixture, just enough to cover. Repeat, and repeat again, pouring over all of the remaining mixture on the top layer. Let it stand for 20 minutes to let the custard mix soak into the buns.
    Bake for 30-40 mins at 170 degrees Celsius. Serve with cream or ice-cream or both, and don’t overlook the crusty bits on the bottom of the pan!

    • I’ve used a chocolate brioche but never thought of using HCBs in that pudding. Thanks for the recipe – will get to try it one day. It’s one of those desserts that you know will mean you can do nothing else after eating it other than a walk to shed some calories

  • Thank you for the mention and once again for the fantastic post, and the book recommendation!! I was really impressed with your His Bloody Project image, I didn’t realise you’d created it yourself!!

  • Can’t comment on your Dad’s hot cross buns but do agree that traditional is best. Well done on dipping under 300, needless to say mine is going in the opposite direction.

    • Im not surprised yours is rocketing to judge from the number of new acquisitions you mention in your posts


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