For my birthday Mr F bought me a book called The History of Bees by Maja Lunde. Now as most people know if they read this blog I only read crime fiction. The clue is in the name. So when I opened this I was a little disappointed if I’m honest (the other book was called The Ice which looked much more like me so I didn’t get the locks changed straight away!)
However I do like bees, and I like reading, and sometimes I like Mr F so I thought I’d give it a go. Well I’m glad I did as this was one of the most thought provoking and gripping books I’ve ever read.
The History of Bees is a novel of three parts. In England in 1851 William is a seed merchant who has a vision for a new type of beehive that will make him famous. However he isn’t the only one who has ideas when it comes to bees. In America it’s 2007 and George has a bee farm that he hopes his son will one day inherit. His son however wants a different life from that of his family and wants to go to University. When colony collapse disorder hits the family farm they all have to revaluate their lives. Finally in China it is 2098 and Tao lives with her husband and young son. During the day her role is to climb into the trees and hand pollinate the fruit trees as all the bees have long died out. On a rare day off her son ends up in hospital and Tao is determined to find out the truth about what happened.
This is both an incredibly bleak, yet hopeful novel. Unfortunately the idea of the bees disappearing is not one that is too far into the realms of unbelievable. Colony collapse disorder is a real issue in America that fortunately hasn’t yet hit the UK, and it’s no surprise that without the bees pollination doesn’t happen. (Disney’s ‘B movie’ had it spot on!) This novel explores not only the environmental consequences with the lack of pollination, but also the effect that this has on people’s lives and families.
This is a book that takes a little getting into as the chapters are short and so you feel that the changing viewpoints happen very abruptly. However once I was into the rhythm I was absolutely hooked. The stories are seemingly disparate linked only by bees, but links start to emerge as the book progresses. The characters are all fascinating, and I thought they were all very well written. This really is a fantastic story with an added bonus of teaching you lots about bees.
For anyone with even a small awareness and care of the environmental impact that we are having on the planet this is a must read book, especially today as it is world environment day. This is the day that the UN uses to promote awareness of the impact our lives are having on the environment. This year the focus is on reducing plastic waste, as only around 10% of the plastic ever created is recycled, the rest ends up in landfill or washed up on beaches. So think before you buy things covered in packaging, read this book and then go and plant some flowers. The bees and our environment will thank you for it.
According to the BBC, York has been voted the best place to live in the UK. Having been here for a few years since the age of 18 (Yes ok so technically I’ve been here a couple of decades rather than a few years but let’s not split hairs!) I would agree on the whole, although maybe not for the same reasons.
According to the highly trustworthy BBC (unless it’s the weather forecast which is always wrong) York is the perfect mix of heritage and hi-tech. Heritage yes but hi-tech? I am clearly missing something! I know that we have the the National Railway Museum but I’m not sure World’s fastest steam engine could be classed as hi-tech nowadays? The mystery plays are a fantastic thing to watch and this year they will be featuring a movable stage which of course is quite hi-tech I suppose (or at least it was when it was first done back in medieval times!)
What wasn’t mentioned in the report of course was one of my favourite things about York – no not the pubs and bars before you think it – but the libraries. We have a fantastic library service which puts on some great events. For example last week I went on a course to learn how to make notebooks. It was a fun day although I suspect Paperchase may be a bit worried about a fall in their profits now I can make my own. Stationary being my second favourite purchase after books.
York library also has a high crime rate. Not people walking off with a Winsey Willis biography under their arm, or pilfering the drawing pins from the notice board, but crime fiction events. Last year we had some big hitters talking including Val McDermid and Sophie Hannah. There was also Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre. This was a hilarious evening, made all the better personally by the looks on the faces of some of the attendees. Clearly two women behind me thought the event was going to be a talk by the WI about jam making rather than one involving frozen chickens in public toilets and dead bodies.
Coming up next month is another exciting sounding event called CSI’s in York – from the writing duo Margaret Murphy and Helen Pepper better known as Ashley Dyer. They are spending the afternoon showing us how to lift fingerprints and identify shoe evidence (you never know when that might come in handy)
Whilst I may not agree with some of the reasoning behind York being voted the best place to live, I certainly agree with the sentiment. Where else could you learn how to investigate a murder, see the only memorial in the country to women who lost their lives during the First World War and drink in a Viking bar all in the same afternoon? Not necessarily hi-tech but pretty amazing all the same.
Tickets for CSI’s in York are still available https://www.exploreyork.org.uk/event/csis-in-york-the-truth-about-forensic-investigating/https://www.exploreyork.org.uk/event/csis-in-york-the-truth-about-forensic-investigating/
Despite the fact in my head I’m still a young mid-twenties person there are occasions when you realise you are getting old (and not just when I look in the mirror before you say anything!) For example when you realise your tv taste is turning into that of your parents. Countryfile is no longer something you would bolt your tea in the hope of being let off having to sit through. It is now an important Sunday afternoon view otherwise how will you know what the long range weather forecast is?
The other big problem I have is that your tolerance level seems to shrink considerably as the years go by. For someone like me who is already starting from a pretty low threshold, this is quite a worry. Irrational things drive me bonkers. Net curtains for example, I hate them. I’ve always disliked them but figured what people choose to do was their own business. Now though an annoying placement of a net curtain drives me mad. The other day I was walking back to the train station along a lovely riverside path in Oxford, admiring all the wonderful houses with big windows looking across the water. One house however had huge net curtains completely blocking the view. This then started a ten minute internal conversation between myself and the unknown owner of offending curtain about why they would have it. Was their life really that interesting that they needed to hide what they are doing from preying eyes? Luckily by the end of it I had won the argument. The offending piece of cloth was going to be removed and I had wasted my entire walk thinking about something that was of absolutely no consequence to me.
A grown man on my train reading Harry Potter is another example. Now I’ve not read Harry Potter as I’m not a young child. I have nothing against Harry Potter itself; however grown adults should not be reading it in public. There’s loads of books out there specifically for us adults, let the children have the young boy wizard. It does of course worry me that my own book tastes will change as I get even older. Currently I thrive on a book diet of crime, murder, blood and guts and misery. Yet how long is it before I start reading Readers Digest, and enjoying a nice Catherine Cookson. Maybe it’ll be even worse than that. Maybe I won’t have time to read at all, I’ll be too busy watching Songs of Praise and then writing to points of view to complain about misplaced net curtains in the vestry. Something to look forward to then!
This weekend I was very excited to write my first ever guest post which was featured on the wonderful cleopatra loves books site.
My post was part of a series she runs called put a book on the map. I was discussing Eva Dolan’s series of books which are set in my home town of Peterborough.
I really enjoyed writing the post, however it is very nerve wracking to see your own words on someone else’s blog. I knew when it was going to be published but I was almost too scared to look. When the comments started coming in I had to turn my tablet off and didn’t dare read them until I had a couple of wines in me. This was absurd as I don’t worry about posting on my own blog in the same way. I usually type them out and post after a quick spell check. For my guest post I wrote it and read it and rewrote it and read it and rewrote it again. I know Cleo has a much bigger following than my blog does, but honestly I spent more time on this than I ever did on any of my university essays’. Mind you this was much more interesting than anything I ever did at University.
This series is a great way of finding out about new books and brings to life the places where the novels are set. I think I even managed to make Peterborough sound like a place you should visit. Judge for yourself here. https://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/2017/04/01/put-a-book-on-the-map-bookonthemap-peterborough/
Whilst this was my first guest post I hope it’s not the last, and next time I might not be quite so worried about the response!