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Week 3 of Childhood

Only one book to add this week as I was reading something off topic.

No Lily-livered Girl – Phyllis Johnston

No Lily-livered Girl is the story of four years in the life of May Tarrant. At fourteen, in 1912, she is apprenticed to a dressmaker in Hamilton in the North Island of New Zealand. Her ten-hour working day is wearisome, town life is strange, and she is homesick for the farming country she has left. A courageous old lady recognises May’s strength and tells her, “You don’t look a lily-livered girl!” That her opinion was right is demonstrated as May makes friends, including a young bank clerk named Ken, enters the world of competitive swimming, and copes with a traumatic experience. The start of World War One brings another crisis to May, and when she is seventeen this determined young woman returns to the King Country and makes the biggest decision of her life.


This finishes up the May Tarrant series. I spent several years growing up in Hamilton so it was interesting to read about the early days. Things have certainly changed in 100 years. One thing I enjoyed with this book was May’s battles with her mother regarding ‘proper’ behaviour, and the desire as a young adult for independence. Something that teenagers today can still identify with. Current events are more to the forefront with WW1 having an impact. Mostly enjoyed it.


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Week 2 of Childhood

It’s been rather relaxing focusing on YA/children’s books this week. A nice way to escape from the stress of the adult world.


Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

The Walker children – also known as Captain John, Mate Susan, Able-Seaman Titty, and Ship’s Boy Roger – set sail on the Swallow and head for Wild Cat Island. There they camp under open skies, swim in clear water and go fishing for their dinner. But their days are disturbed by the Blackett sisters, the fierce Amazon pirates. The Swallows and Amazons decide to battle it out, and so begins a summer of unforgettable discoveries and incredible adventures.


This was the first time I’d read the book. I was long familiar with the title but had never picked it up to read, and finally decided that I should. I’m glad I did because I did enjoy it. Published in 1930 it portrays a very different way of life. There’s no way parents today would allow their children to sail to an uninhabited island in the middle of a lake and to camp on their own – they’d be considered negligent! That’s not even taking into consideration the rules and regulations regarding the camping. But how wonderful to have that independence, to have your abilities and common sense trusted by your parents, all the while knowing that you had adult support in the background. Some parts with the sailing terms bored me a little. Loved the sense of adventure, use of imagination and seeing children entertain themselves. Looking forward to reading more of the series.

Black Boots and Buttonhooks and A Comet in the Sky – Phyllis Johnston

These two books follow on the story of May Tarrant from last week’s No One Went to Town, taking the story up to 1910. I know I read Black Boots and Buttonhooks at school but couldn’t remember any details. A Comet in the Sky was new to me, and not easy to get hold of. They continue to be an interesting look at New Zealand’s pioneering history. Of particular interest was the setting up of the dairy co-operative. My dad worked at a co-operative dairy factory although I’m don’t know what the set up was like. Interesting to see how the one at Piopio was formed.


No movies to watch, but I watched the first series of Angels. This 1970s British nursing series was influential in me choosing nursing as a career. I have fond memories of watching it with my mum. It had been over 25 years since I’d seen an episode and despaired at it ever coming out on dvd. But, it did a couple of months ago and doing my periodic check to see if it was available, found it on Amazon. Much excitement from me and immediately ordered it. I pretty much devoured the 15 episodes this week. There’s always the risk of an old programme not living up to expectations, but I didn’t find that. I don’t have strong memories of any particular scenes except for one, so it was very much watching it afresh. Shirley is still my favourite and I’m still not particularly fond of Jo. My own nursing training 40 years after this series is set was quite different, and it’s fun watching it from that perspective. I always wanted to wear a uniform with cap and apron – no such luck!  There’s plenty of cigarette smoking, not something you see much of on screen these days. Single room wards, manual handling and strict visiting hours all very different to working now.  I hope I don’t have to wait too long until the next series is released.

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The Beginning

After looking at the daunting piles (okay shelves) of books and movies that I need to get read/watched I’ve hit on a creative way of tackling these. I’m going to pick a theme for the month and read books and watch movies related to that topic. I’ll also use the opportunity for further exploration around the theme e.g. food, music, exhibitions etc.

You won’t find any in-depth reviews as I’m not very good at that, but I will be sharing what I have read, watched and discovered.

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