Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Killing Time in Covid Times

Our blue eyed boy Bingo

It’s Winter already, though we’ve had plenty of time to get used to it with late May being quite chilly.

That’s not to say I’m looking forward to the next few months of cold weather in this icebox of a house, and being obliged to stay home with the pandemic still limiting movement.

I must admit that even I am getting a bit stir crazy, having not gone anywhere interesting for months; my weekly shopping trips to Victoria Market being the only outdoor diversion I’ve undertaken.

However, I have been keeping occupied with computer games and books, and tinkering with a new design for the Nu Country website.

After finishing the final book in Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy, an extraordinary literary masterpiece, I’ve been binge reading a series of detective novels by Alan Bradley, which feature 11 year old Flavia De Luce.

9780752883212I am grateful to the friend who introduced me to the Flavia books, as I certainly would not have stumbled on them by myself.  He gave me the first book in the series as a present and I  enjoyed it enormously.

There are  eleven Flavia De Luce novels, I was pleased to note after reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, so I’ve stocked up my Kindle with several to keep me tided over with entertaining reading matter, and have become addicted to Flavia’s small village world of the 1950s.

Described as a cross between Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle and the Addams Family, the novels are set in the fictional English village of Bishop’s Lacey where Flavia and her family inhabit  the large manor house Buckshaw.

Flavia is the youngest of three sisters, the others being Ophelia and Daphne, her arch enemies, against whom she tests her knowledge of poisonous chemicals.  For Flavia, as well as being an unusual detective, is also a master chemist having inherited her Great Uncle Tarquin’s fully equipped laboratory in the east wing of Buckshaw.

Full of eccentric characters that include family retainers Dogger and Mrs Mullet, the Flavia de Luce novels are tremendous fun and a great escape from the real world which only seems to be getting worse.

Curiously, one of the computer games I’ve recently played also features a feisty schoolgirl detective called Jenny Le Clue, a fictional creation of successful (fictional) author Arthur Finkelstein.

jenny leclue

This is a charming game with wonderful graphics, great characters and a long involved story. Jenny and her friends and family live in the fictional town of Arthurton and Jenny is the heroine of a series of soft boiled detective novels by Arthur J Finkelstein, solving cases such as missing eyeglasses and test papers. Jenny longs for a real case to solve and soon enough in the game the Dean of Arthurton’s Gumbold University  dies mysteriously and Jenny’s mother is framed for his murder.

The game follows Jenny’s adventures in pursuing the investigation into the Dean’s death to clear her mother and unearthing in the process the many secrets hidden in Arthurton.  It is one of the best and cleverest computer games I’ve played of late.

I also played two rather interesting and creepy supernatural mysteries set in Cornwall – Barrow Hill: Curse of the Ancient Circle and Barrow Hill: The Dark Path.

On the home front nothing much has changed, with only Bingo the cat recently giving us some worry with his behaviour.  Earlier this week he would disappear for hours and efforts to find his whereabouts were in vain. He also was suffering from a  sore back foot with a wound around the claw area. Heaven knows how he came by it, but it didn’t seem like a cat fight injury.  Happily he has returned to normal over the last few days and his foot is on the mend. Perhaps he was avoiding us in fear of being taken to the Vet, but really who knows what goes through the feline mind.

As public venues slowly open up again I’ve been itching for a change of scene, so have booked to go to the Zoo later this month to see the new Snow Leopard cubs.  My reasoning was that with a limit of 2000 people a day, the Zoo will be sparsely populated, occupying as it does a wide expanse of real estate, so it will be ideal for photography practice and of course viewing the wildlife.

Speaking of photography practice it will be some time before the general public will be admitted to the horse racing - the only sport that continued over the course of the lockdown. Naturally I’m looking forward to the Spring Racing Carnival in whatever format it takes, but hope to be there in person for some meetings.

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