In early January, with just a little over a week to go to my book club’s first meeting of 2016, I started reading the chosen book: David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. Thankfully it was a lively page turner so I had no difficulty navigating my way through its six hundred odd pages before our meet-up. The novel mixes realism with fantasy and science fiction and jumps from century to century, country to country, and genre to genre. The fantasy element was my least favourite part of the book but mostly it simmers in the background except for one section where it takes centre stage. The story that’s at the heart of the novel is that of Holly Sykes’s much less than ordinary life. We first meet Holly as a runaway teenager in Essex in 1984 and last see her, as the novel closes in 2043, as a grandmother in Ireland’s West Cork living through a chillingly possible dystopian near future. David Mitchell is a spellbinding storyteller who has wizardly way with words. 8.5/10
I gave up gluten for January not because of any need to do so but because of a shallow wish to loose the excess pounds I had put on over the Christmas holiday. My rational for cutting out gluten was that I would thereby give up cakes, scones, and other sweet treats and the pounds would melt away. I stuck (mostly!) to the plan. I don’t own a scales so I use my clothes as a guide to weight loss or gain: they now feel looser than they were at the beginning of January. Nearly there. To satisfy my sweet tooth in the absence (mostly!) of cake I ate a lot of roasted winter fruits. I used a slightly adapted super simple Mireille Guiliano, she of French Woman Don’t Get Fat fame, recipe: It’s made with diced apples and pears, chopped dried apricots, and raisins baked in a teeny amount of liquid and with a tablespoon of maple syrup and a pinch or two of cinnamon.
Once upon a long time ago I worked in a wineshop, an independent one where the owners carefully selected the wines they sold. A hangover from that period is that I can’t drink rubbishy plonk. I am always on the lookout for a goodly wine that doesn’t cost an ungodly amount of money: I recently happened upon a red by the Bodegas Borsao from Spain’s Campo de Borja wine region that falls into both those categories. I choose it on the basis that a blurb in a wine shop (64 Wine) said that Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate had described it as (referring I think to the 2011 vintage): ‘possibly the single greatest dry red wine value in the world.’ Robert Parker is probably the world’s greatest wine critic. The bottle I bought was the Borsao Selection (a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Tempranillo) from the 2014 vintage. It was pretty delicious: it costs €13.50.