Sunday, 29 June 2008

Things my mother did tell me

I recently bought Lucia van der Post's "Things I wish my mother had told me". I found this quite interesting, but at the same time ultimately disappointing. It's full of useful advice about fashion, beauty how to live elegantly, and finishes with a short chapter on good manners. I think it's all a bit too serious for me, somehow, or maybe I'm too old for it - and I'm usually a sucker for any kind of self-help books of this type. I've enjoyed Lucia's columns in The Times newspaper, too, on which a lot of the information in this book is based. But somehow my initial enthusiasm waned as I read, or skimmed in places, through the book. I'm not really that interested in which designer handbag to buy any more, wouldn't spend the money on one anyway.

Things my mother did tell me were about her life as a nurse in the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Reserve during World War II, and her growing up on a farm in New Zealand before the war - as well as all the usual stuff about how to behave as a young lady.Dovegreyreaderscribbles describes two books about the QAs on her blog, so I'll be looking out for them

Much more up my street is Wild Swimming by Daniel Start, a beautifully illustrated catalogue of places one can swim in rivers and lakes in Britain and also a lyrical plea for people to take to the fresh water in the open, instead of indoors in the chlorinated blue stuff of the local sports centre. I'd say as well as, as its not realistic for most town-dwellers to go open water swimming that easily. Most of my wild swimming has been done in the sea off the Isle of Wight and in the Mediterranean, but I've also swum in rivers in France and as a child in the Ladies pond on Hampstead Heath. It's true that fresh water, and sea water for that matter, feels very different to chlorinated swimming pool water. When in my school swimming team , we used to practise in a sea-water pool, but competed against other schools in a pool with chlorinated water , and we all felt we swam more slowly in the latter. But the writing and descriptions of the places to swim are very tempting.

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