We had a little holiday to see my parents in the Scottish Borders, stopping off at a few places along the way. First stop was Oxford, since that was conveniently half way between home and our Airbnb for the next two nights. Scully had her first trip on a bus (she did great) and got loads of attention in Oxford itself. It’s weird being somewhere without a lot of dogs! We just had lunch and a walk down the canal. I would love one of those houses with a garden backing onto the canal, it was just so peaceful down there.

Next stop was a converted railway wagon on a farm in Derbyshire, where we could watch the cows and goats from our bed. It was a lovely spot to stay for a few nights and had an amazing shower despite being in a wagon. I was delighted to find that we were round the corner from the tram museum featured in Sightseers! Haha, we didn’t go in the end, but there were loads of attractions in the area, considering we’d only picked it for virtue of being a halfway point.

Instead, we went to Chatsworth, which has massive and beautiful gardens we could walk round with Scully. I loved the rock garden and the kitchen garden (which they use for their restaurants and produce). I definitely sampled some of their beers made with fruit they grow and honey from their bees, as well as picking up the scrummiest sour cherry curd ever.

Of course, we went in the hedge maze which was full of people trying to find their way out. It’s a bit sparse these days but still enough of a challenge.

Labrador dog sat in a hedge maze.

I like that they charge separately for the house and gardens, since neither of us were that interested in the house and one of us would have had to wait outside with Scully anyway.

Our next goal was to secure some Bakewell puddings from Bakewell itself. The pudding and the tart are quite different, and I much preferred the pudding which has flaky pastry and a sort of almond custardy filling along with the required jam. We did get a tart too, for purely scientific purposes of course.

Bakewell was the only time we got rained on and we escaped into a pub for a pint and a pudding until it blew over. So that’s pretty successful for a British summer holiday!

On the next leg we briefly stopped in Durham for a bánh mì (Vietnamese baguette) and coffee. We used the park and ride again but, unlike Oxford, Durham haven’t restricted traffic in the centre so it felt very busy and polluted. After a quick walk round the park, we jumped back into the car for the final leg.

Reservoir surrounded by heather and bracken covered hills.

My parents live a pretty rural part of the Scottish Borders, so the next few days were mostly walking Scully in the peaceful countryside, and catching up with family. My brother was also holidaying in the area so I got to see my nieces and helped them get over their fear of Scully. Apologies to my brother if they’re now nagging to get a dog every five minutes.

Labrador dog casually walking down farm track with hills in background

The return tip involved a lot less stops, with one night in a duck house in Leicestershire. Considering it was a last minute booking made without much thought, it was in a great location, within walking distance of several National Trust properties and a brewery. For the evening we waddled down to The Milking Parlour for beer and excellent pizza.

The last walk of the holiday was around the grounds of Calke Abbey, an “unstately home” which just means they haven’t completely renovated it, showing how these houses do fall into disrepair. There we met a 1200 year old oak tree!

A very old and gnarly oak tree

That was the start of the unseasonably hot weather. Coming home was like going abroad!

On the blog:

Review: House of Odysseus by Claire North

On My Radar: September

Review: A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid

20 Books of Summer Recap

Books read:


ARC: A Study in Drowning by Ava Reid

See review above.

  • Popsugar # 19. A book that fulfills your favorite prompt from a past challenge:
    Dark Academia

The Secret Society of Very Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

A cute, fun and quick read.

  • ATY # 20. A book with a cover or title that includes a route of travel

Midnight by Amy McCulloch

This is more of a rich people on boats story than an Antarctic survival story, and I didn’t care for all the art investment stuff. Things pick up when they actually get to Antarctica but overall I found it quite slow.

The River of Silver by Shannon Chakraborty

I loved revisiting these characters. The chronological ordering helped it feel less like a story collection too.

  • ATY # 23. A book with a body of water in the title

Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Main character is reckless to the point of annoyance, and it’s one of those YAs where she is somehow special and can achieve what no one else could. Story is rushed and the side characters are all a bit flimsy. I think her newer books were better but I think I’ll call it a day on this author.

  • Popsugar # 18. A book that’s been banned or challenged in any state in 2022

ARC: A Demon’s Guide to Wooing a Witch by Sarah Hawley

Not as good as the first book, not enough plot and too much reliance on instalove that made the whole thing unconvincing.

  • ATY # 44. A book where the cover design includes text that is not completely horizontal

Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

Loved this! Characters had a hint of Pratchett about them.

  • ATY # 41. A book from the NPR “Books We Love” lists

Gwen and Art are Not in Love by Lex Croucher

Super cute, not really Arthurian as I thought by the title, but a queer alt-history, maybe magic is real type setting.

Happy Place by Emily Henry

I’m really starting to rate Emily Henry after ignoring her books for so long. I related a lot to the main character, and I just had to know why this lovely couple had broken up in the first place. Less bookish than her others.

  • Popsugar # 47. A book about a holiday that’s not Christmas

The Mystery at Dunvegan Castle by T.L. Huchu

I just really like listening to this series on audio, this time they’re trapped in a castle while Ropa tries to solve a magical mystery.

  • ATY # 42. A book related to a ghost, spirit, phantom, or spectre

The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood + Renée Nault

Very impactful artwork, ending felt a bit rushed but overall a good adaptation.

  • Popsugar # 28. A book you bought secondhand


Books acquired:

If you’d like to check out any of the Kindle books that are still on offer in the UK, you can find them on my influencer page.

For Review:

Fathomfolk by Eliza Chan (Orbit)

Bought – Physical:

Every Exquisite Thing by Laura Steven

Gwen and Art are Not in Love by Lex Croucher

A Market of Dreams and Destiny by Trip Galey

42: The Wildly Improbable Ideas of Douglas Adams by Kevin Jon Davies

Bought – Digital:

Feed Them Silence by Lee Mandelo (audio)

Hex and the City by Kate Johnson

My Roommate is a Vampire by Jenna Levine

How to Speak Whale by Tom Mustill

Otherlands by Thomas Halliday

A Love Catastrophe by Helena Hunting

Venomous Lumpsucker by Ned Beauman

Leech by Hiron Ennes

Life and Otter Miracles by Hazel Prior

Pathogenesis by Jonathan Kennedy