You may have thought I’d abandoned the blog again, but no, I have merely been on a thing called a holiday! My parents had a holiday cottage booking in Herefordshire carried over from last year, so I got to spend some time with them (we hadn’t seen each other since 2019). The cottage was just outside Hay-on-Wye which many of you will know as a book town.

I spent some time mooching round the bookshops, but shockingly I didn’t buy that many books. I don’t think my tastes really align with the booksellers of Hay but it was interesting to look through some of the old titles on the shelves.

I did rescue a copy of John Wyndham’s The Secret People from the “honesty books” outside the castle and found a 1955 copy of The Kraken Wakes for our little collection. We found a 1960’s map of the New Forest which we bought since it’s interesting to see the slow encroachment of houses (our house is just a field for example).

I loved the little model replica of their shop that Murder & Mayhem have in their window:

Miniature model of Murder & Mayhem bookshop

We hid in the Bat Cave to keep to social distancing in Addyman Books (and they were the one shop that had a decent collection of SFF – Josh bought Cryptozoic! there). In Richard Booth’s I bought Acceptance and The Handmaid’s Tale Graphic Novel. Oh and I bought a dress with dinosaurs on!

Because we kept popping over the border into Wales, it almost felt like a foreign holiday (especially when the parking machine decided to revert to Welsh). On our last day we went into the Brecon Beacons national park and walked the Four Falls Trail, which visits four waterfalls with treacherous paths. I definitely needed a rest after that! Scully put us to shame bouncing up the steep slopes and rocky surfaces, and I think she photobombed some guy’s selfie when she went on ahead to the biggest waterfall (which you can walk under).

Scully is scared of many things, but thundering water and sheer drops don’t appear to be among them.

Scully the Labrador under a waterfall at a long distance

If you’re in the area and fancy the walk, do be aware that the “dangerous path” signs are quite accurate and you need to be prepared to pick your way through uneven rocks and tree roots and be fit enough to get back up the hills. It wasn’t that wet underfoot when we went, but I imagine if it’s muddy it would be easy to slip. The big waterfall does have steps to it (180 of them) so is the safest to reach but some of the steps are made for giants.

This part of the world seems to have much more insect life than back home. Scully had a cloud of flies round her in Hergest Croft Gardens and by the end of the week my arms and legs were covered in fly bites. On a prettier level we saw lots of damselflies and dragonflies (and “beautiful demoiselles”).

Southern Hawker Dragonfly

I really have not read much over the last two weeks. I guess I was a bit distracted about going away the first week, and then I was spending time exploring and being social. I did finish The Swallowed Man by Edward Carey, which was OK but I liked the illustrations more than the story. And I read The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson, a standalone mystery in the Truly Devious series, which I enjoyed (and required about the right level of brain power for holiday reading).

So this means I am miles behind in my 20 Books of Summer reviewing. Please shout at me if I don’t start posting reviews soon.

New books acquired:

A Pho Love Story by Loan Le
Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk + Nicola Yoon
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Black Water Sister by Zen Cho
The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood + Renee Nault
Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer
The Secret People by John Wyndham
The Mismatch by Sara Jafari (ebook)
I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones + Gilly Segal (ebook)