Wednesday, 29 December 2021

Book Ends

So we’re just about done with 2021. Rather a similar year to 2020 due to the pandemic but thank goodness for the allotment and the ability to work from home. I’ve been reading a lot of books and have enjoyed a few days off work every few weeks to keep me sane. Here’s my book list and a couple of memories from each month.


A snow day
We had some snow. Not enough to make a snowman, but nice to crunch through and enjoy the whiteness. Looking back it seems that we had a very cold start to the year.

This was an easy read. A quite gripping thriller, but I wasn't keen on the writing style so it was one of my least favourite books of the year.
The three separate stories set in 1930s Berlin were moving and thought-provoking. The plight of the characters still pops into my head on occasion.
This was one of my favourite books of the year. So sad but beautifully written. It was a quick read, partly because it was quite short, but also because I didn't want to stop reading.


My first Covid vaccination gave a bit of hope that things may be improving with regard to the pandemic. Unfortunately that hasn’t quite panned out. Vaccinations were definitely the topic of conversation when we bumped into people on the allotment or during Zoom calls.
Another very cold month, down to -6.8° I’m so glad we didn’t give up on these broad beans which amazingly recovered and produced some lovely harvests!
Aah, I loved this book. I should have been reading it in Tenerife with the sea providing the soundtrack. It had been on my reading list for about a year, I don't know why I kept putting it off!


Signs of life in the polytunnel - mangetout are usually the first seeds that we sow.
Jamie and I started clearing the Wildlife Plot for HAHA. Sadly having to clear the pond and convert it to a bog garden.
I do love a Thomas Hardy novel. I've seen the Tess film more than once but never read the book. I'm glad I did as I'd clearly forgotten some vital aspects. Aah, so beautiful.


Second Covid jab came round earlier than expected and another trip out to Newbury Race course for it.

And there’s the broad beans looking happier now the weather warmed up a bit, though it was very wet. You can see the flowers are appearing and the potatoes have been planted.
This story reminded me of a BBC Sunday night television programme and I’m sure that is what it’s destined to become. I’m not inclined to read another, although I like Richard Osman, I wasn’t keen on the writing. Maybe I should give him a chance as this was his first book…maybe.


Our best ever find on the allotment. Probably only Victorian and probably a boy, (not a girl as I put in my original blogpost) it was interesting and I’d still like to know more about it.
Reading took a bit of a back seat at the busiest time for the allotment year. I did start reading a book but I didn’t finish till July (and it wasn’t actually that long!). The Wildlife Plot began to take shape and we hoped that the seedlings starting to appear were sown by us!
And my much-talked-about squash tunnel was ready and waiting for the plants.


I was fascinated to find the stunning Great spotted woodpecker feathers. It would appear to have been killed by one of the birds of prey on site.
The geum looking so bright and beautiful. I must remember to split the plants early next year.


Jamie and I spent a lot of time watching the bull finches raise their young. They really enjoyed the seed heads on an overgrown plot near our Plot3 so we could just sit and watch in the sunshine. Aah, days to remember in these dark months.
The wildflowers we sowed produced plenty of flowers and insects were certainly drawn to the plot. We expect a lot of self-seeding for next year.
This is the epic tale that took me so long to read. It was beautifully written (translated) and once I got to know the characters I came to love the book.
I think this was a free download. I quite liked the characters and locations but overall I found it quite uninspiring and rather a predictable read.
This has been on my reading list for a long time. I was put off by the mention of the ‘Marsh Girl’ but I’m so glad I got over it and read this. Such a beautiful story and characters.


Aah, August and we had some really beautiful hot days but we also had some torrential rain!
But, it helped everything grow so a plotholder can’t complain too much. I was reading a long book, which I finished in September.


The squash tunnel in all its glory, with the longest Tromboncino measuring 134.5cm! The wet weather early in the season caused some blossom end rot, but still the tunnel was covered in greenery
This is the long tale that I started reading in June. It’s length being the reason I put off reading it. It was lovely though. Set in Japan and Korea it introduced me to a location and history that I don’t know well. I loved it, particularly the second half.


The tunnel provided plenty of Winter squash for storage and one of the pumpkin plants went into mass production; Enough for carving, soup and I even made a pumpkin pie for Halloween.
This was a gripping thriller and made me want to read more of this genre. A real page turner but even that didn’t make it a 5-star read for me.
I quite enjoyed this. I liked the main character but the story was a bit too ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ for my liking. I liked the parts set in War-torn Paris.


Just one of my many colourful squash-based meals. The Honeyboat and Festival squashes are the tastiest so they’ll definitely be growing on next year’s tunnel. November also brought my third Covid jab along with some very cold weather.
This was interesting and dramatic in the way it was written but I'm glad it was only a short book, the lead character was just too troubled to take much more.
Having ventured into a thriller earlier in the year, I was pleased to see this appear on offer. I really enjoyed the story and characters. In fact I couldn’t put it down. I want to read another by Alice Feeney.
The book that follows a 5-star read is always going to struggle. This was interesting and I liked the rural Japanese setting but it was a bit disappointing at the end with too many loose ends for my taste.


Finally finished work so we’ve been able to enjoy our celebrations at home since Christmas Eve. The weather is mild, wet and windy so I’m not sorry to be stuck indoors!
Eating, drinking and trying to finish the book I started at the end of November…
Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with my views or have any ideas for my 2022 reading list? I like using Goodreads for my book choices and in order to record what I’ve read.
And the final song of the year is by the lovely Simon and Garfunkel. HAPPY NEW YEAR!


  1. A most enjoyable post and good pictures.
    Lucky you seeing bullfinches as it's a bird I've never seen.
    I'm generally reading (or rereading) several books at any one time, usually cosy crime or historical mysteries.
    Happy plotting and reading in 2022. xx

    1. Thankyou! I’ve never got into reading more than one book at a time. A historical mystery sounds like it could suit me. I shall have a browse.
      Happy New Year to you

  2. I haven't read any of the books you mention but I have gone through quite a list on Kindle. You made the most of 2021 let's hope 2022 doesn't follow the same pattern though.

    1. Yes, I use Kindle on my iPad, but enjoy a real paperback if I’m on holiday (maybe next year…) Really hoping that 2022 brings the breakthrough we’re hoping for!

  3. Happy New Year Belinda. I love this blog post. Before i comment further, i agree with you that 2021 was similar year to 2020 due to the pandemic but thank goodness that some of us are still able to work from home. I still am working from home and like you I’ve been reading a lot of books and re-reading some i've read before. I'd love to read The Between and Yellow Crocus from your book list.And like you, i am very curious about your Victorian find too and would like to know more.

    1. Thankyou for popping by Shaheen!
      I am still enjoying the fact that I hardly ever drive at the moment but know I should move a bit more! Roll on sunny days and allotment lunches !
      I would recommend Yellow Crocus over The Between.
      Happy New Year!


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