Book review

Watery Ways by Valerie Poore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having fared with Val in one of her later books it was a delight to read about her early introduction to the world of Dutch barges in Rotterdam. Her growing love for these beautiful historic vessels is paralleled by a touching romance. We learn how Val met Koos and hear how Val came to buy her first barge, aptly named Vereeniging.

I am looking forward to reading further instalments of Val’s adventures in her Living Aboard Series and already have Harbour Ways lined up.

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Book review

The Rhino Crash: A Memoir of Conservation, Unlikely Friendships and Self-Discovery by Nick Newman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An engrossing read.

This is a book in two halves. The first half of the book is about the stresses of monitoring and protecting black rhinos from poachers. Nick’s tireless efforts to keep them safe are valiant and totally engrossing. We care a great deal about these endangered creatures.

The strain of the responsibility eventually takes its toll on Nick and reveals his underlying problems which he has so skillfully hidden from the world. We care as much about Nick as we did about the rhinos, and it is wonderful to read of his diagnoses and his gradual recovery. It is good to see that he is helped to understand why he has struggled over the years. We are often far too hard on ourselves and Nick’s example shows us we are to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others and the animals we care about.

Nick’s account is made beautifully clear and readable by Nick’s collaborator, Karin Mitchell.

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Book launch!

We are doubly excited here at Restaurante Albar.

Not only are we relaunching our Listen and Lunch events,
we are super proud that, local author Helen Stephenson,
has chosen Albar to launch her first book,

Sidney Delicious, the memoir of a Spanish rescue dog.

The launch will be Friday the 26th of November

12.30. Cava and Canape on arrival.

12.45. Helen with give a short talk and then answer any questions.

14.00 Lunch

Weather permitting, we would like to host the talk outside under the tents. It will be advisable to dress appropriately and bring an extra layer.

We have a plan B!

18 € per person

Reservation only so please contact Rachel on 0034 647 877 091
(What’s app is the speediest).
Sidney Delicious & his Andalucian adventures

About the author

Helen Stephenson studied in Bristol and London, and lived in Sudan and the Outer Hebrides before settling in rural Kent, but it was always her dream to live on a Mediterranean hillside.
Happily her dream came true when she and her husband bought a tumbledown farmhouse in Almeria.
That was when they met Sid …

Meet our hero, Sid, an independent, scruffy, country dog.

Sid craves adventure. Still just a puppy, he runs away to live in the hills but is soon lonely and hungry. By chance, he arrives at the perfect place. He loves his new family, his warm bed at night, and his dinner …

Sid can’t help following his nose and is always off exploring. He shares the sights, sounds and smells he encounters. Obsessed by food, he never misses an opportunity to help himself.

He tells of intense heat and snow, storm and flood. He meets wild boar and a poisonous toad. Despite having many narrow escapes, he relishes his freedom on the wild hillsides of his little corner of Andalucia.

His observations are honest and funny and he knows his own mind. Cats? Well, perhaps he should tell you how he feels about cats!

Join Sidney Delicious for a romp through the beautiful Spanish countryside as he celebrates his memories of a long, happy and eventful life.

Just a few of some
5 * reviews

***** “An affectionate tale of a dog full of character. Highly recommended”
Kevin Borman, author of Flamingos in the Desert , from The Exploring Almeria Series
***** “Seeing the world from the point of view of Sidney Delicious is a joy.”
Lisa Rose Wright, author of the Writing Home from Galicia trilogy
***** “Charming well written, I found myself weeping with laughter.”
Val Poore, author of Living With My Sin, a Story of a Dog’s Life
***** “I enjoyed this book so much, I read it in one sitting. It’s so well written.”
E.J. Bauer, author of From Gaudi’s City to Granada’s Red Palace

***** “This is an enchanting story … I’m sure you’ll fall in love with Sidney Delicious too.”
Beth Haslam, author of the Fat dogs and French Estates Series

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En Albar, Casa 45, El Pilar, Barriada de Lubrin,
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Book review

The Shepherd’s Life: A People’s History of the Lake District by James Rebanks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The account of sheep farming in James Rebanks’ book is authentic living history. He keeps the traditions of his father and grandfather alive and feels a connection to those who farmed the same land over, possibly, thousands of years. The accounts of hefted ewes and well bred tups are fascinating. I was filled with admiration for the energy and passion which he is pouring into his farm.

There was just one thing bothering me, as I finished the book. He is talking about farming marginal land, in a time when, shockingly, there is no market for wool, and UK consumption per capita of lamb’s meat has been falling. When we are faced with a crisis of biodiversity in these desperate times of climate change, shouldn’t James be considering returning this land to nature? Would he be able to “betray” his forbears by changing his way of farming?

This morning I turned on the radio and there was a programme on Radio 4, Could I Regenerate My Farm to Save the Planet, hosted by James Rebanks. He was examining the role of regenerative agriculture. I was excited, but anxious that he might find that there wasn’t a good enough case for him to do this on his land. I was thrilled when he said he was going to give it a try. (You can find this item on BBC Sounds if you are interested)

Good luck James Rebanks! Your grandchildren will be as proud of you as you are of your grandfather. Please write the book about it when you have time. It will be top of my list to read!

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Book review

The Narrowboat Lad by Daniel Mark Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dan has been loving walking and cycling in his local area for many years and decides he would just love to live independently on the local canals. So this is the story of the pleasures and anxieties of his first year of narrowboat ownership.

I loved the descriptions of his boat, Tilly, and the canals which he travelled. I shared his concern at the constantly overheating engine, and I wanted to hug his family and friends for all the wonderful support they offered.

At the end of the year, we are left in no doubt that Dan made the best choice, and I look forward to reading more about his adventures.

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Book review

Not Cool: Europe by Train in a Heatwave by Jules Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

9 cities, 9 countries, 9 days? Madness!

But I too have wondered what it would be like to travel around Europe by train nowadays, having enjoyed a fabulous InterRail month all the way to Italy and Greece in the summer of ’74. (Goodness, was it that long ago?!) So, I was very interested to read how Jules’ expedition turned out, especially within the constricted time frame.

His first great discovery was the website of The Man in Seat 61. What a find! Jules may only have been away travelling for 9 days but he did spend many days and weeks preparing the route, pre-booking trains and hotels and thinking about what he might like to see along the way.

He reflects that there is always something new to see and that the best experiences are unexpected, and I wholeheartedly agree. On this trip, it was the heat which provided the challenge, and a lot of the humour too. Jules is a great travelling companion. He’s informative and very funny.

I love that he found quiet corners, instead of visiting the main tourist attractions. The big attractions which he did go to, were a sad disappointment, overrun with so many tourists that their meaning was totally lost. Well, I suppose it was mid-summer!

Often, when I read a travel memoir, I feel that the writer has done the travelling for me, as I can’t travel so much these days. And I was thinking that this time too, enjoying the ride, (without suffering the heat), until we came to the Bernina Express Scenic route. Wow! I want to travel on that train! Thanks for the inspiration, Jules!

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Book review

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 3: More living ‘The Dream’ in Rural Ireland by Nick Albert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Watch out for that giant wood wasp!

I was gifted this book so had not read parts 1 and 2 of the series but part 3 happily stood alone. I soon got to know Nick and his lovely wife Lesley. There are indeed lots of delicious fresh eggs, with a range of tasty cakes coming out of the kitchen in big batches. Whilst the much loved “selectively deaf” dogs are very much part of the story and of their lives.

I was hugely impressed by their commitment to the rebuilding of their house on the hill in rural Ireland. I too breathed a sigh of relief when they had finished. And I loved the descriptions of the countryside thereabouts.

Intermixed are a couple of seriously alarming moments (no spoilers allowed) and moments which made me laugh out loud. The shenanigans with the cockerels were hilarious.

So I am looking forward to joining Nick and Lesley in their cosy home again, for some more good ‘craic’ and a piece of freshly baked cake, when Book 4 is released.

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Book review

Never Pack an Ice-Axe: Tales From a Travel Writer’s Life by Jules Brown

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great title! I happily went along with our chatty guide, Jules, dropping in on random places all over the world. I enjoyed the fact that he had “never found a place yet that doesn’t have something to recommend it.” He writes of many places I am unlikely ever to visit, plus some which I do know. No spoilers but, yes, I remember, the museums in Hull were excellent!
I laughed as I recalled my own experiences learning to dive, his account rang so true, except for the location (a first open-water dive under the remains of Herne Bay pier for me!)
It is great to travel with someone who sees the funny side of almost everything, especially the absurd situations which travellers get themselves into. I also enjoyed his musings on origins, and the value of “a place to call home”.
A thoughtful and fun read.

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Book Review

Boating with Buster: The Life and Times of a Barge Beagle by Alison Alderton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“A beagle? but they are impossible to train”, they said, but Alison and Roger proved everyone wrong by introducing Buster to life onboard their narrowboat, Lily, and finding him to be an enthusiastic third member of the crew. Of course, he still got up to mischief, he was a beagle after all, but that was all part of the fun.

They learn the ropes together in England, then go adventuring in Ireland and then on to Europe. I loved the descriptions of the canals they journeyed along, the moorings they tied up alongside, and the lovely people they met. There are ‘heart in the mouth’ moments as they occasionally undertake a scary sea passage to explore further. Buster remains composed throughout, supervising from his favourite spot on the chart table.

Their love for the boating life shines through and Buster has a wonderful time. I had quite fallen in love with him and shed a few tears at the end. It was lovely to read about the Norse legend of the Rainbow Bridge. What a lovely thought!

I wish Alison and Roger many further happy years on Lily and hope perhaps there will be a sequel one day, starring their new crew member, a beagle of course!

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Book Review

Apple Island Wife: Slow Living In Tasmania by Fiona Stocker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a delightful account of a family making a new life in the beautiful countryside of the Tamar Valley in northern Tasmania. Fiona tells their story with gentle humour and affectionate descriptions of the people she meets. She is refreshingly honest about the challenges of being a Mum to her young children, especially about the tiredness, and the frustration of spending so many hours in the house. She tells of her strategies to sort this out; the weekly playgroup to meet other mums, a walk every day with the children, regular yoga classes, and writing a blog, which happily led to the publication of this book.

The family settles in to country life and over time becomes adept at dealing with llamas, chickens, and guineafowl, whilst establishing a productive vegetable garden and harvesting their own wood for the woodstove. Oliver knocks up some intriguing contraptions in his workshop and at last, Midget, the border collie, works out how to manage her wayward family flock.

A lovely read, which has left me hoping to visit Northern Tasmania one day and looking forward to the sequel, Saddleback Wife.

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