Date Joined: October 13, 2013
Last Online: December 6, 2022
Birthday: September 26
Country: United Kingdom
AMA What's Your Word for 2022: Kindness
16 July Various health crises over, home and feeling fine, complete with pacemaker. Planned surgery postponed again -- ah well. Thanks to all for messages and good wishes.
I've returned to Swapbot after a long break during the pandemic. It feels good to be back. I'm looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and to making new friends. I'm eager to begin crafting again.
My name is Betty and I live in Birmingham, England. Birmingham is right in the middle of the country about as far from the sea as you can get, around 120 miles north of London.
I'm in my early seventies and live with my (female) partner. We got married a few years ago after being together for 21 years. We have six children between us, three home-grown ones and three adopted ones who joined the family as older children.
We also have a fourteen year old grandson.
We are active in our local Quaker Meeting and I teach the children's class a couple of times a month -- stories and crafts. Although we only have the one grandson, we do spend a lot of our leisure time with children!
In December 2021 I took voluntary redundancy from my job as librarian at a local Quaker college. I'm continuing with a small amount of postgraduate PhD supervision and teaching. My main areas are history and literature.
I have always written and taking redundancy will, hopefully, allow me to develop that further. I have published one academic book about women's travel writing (and lots of articles), and two general books, one about great explorers and the other an atlas of exploration. I've also edited the memoirs of several 18th and 19th century women travellers. I've recently got interested in playwriting and audio playwriting and am tentatively taking steps in that direction but I still have a long way to go before I produce something that might actually be put on! I also want to have a go at writing either a historical novel or a cozy mystery -- again, I think it will be a stiff learning curve! And I have an idea for a children's picture book that I'm exploring and ideas for several more bits of academic research and writing.
I read a lot. My tastes are pretty broad. I like general novels, poetry, history, crime fiction, science fiction and a whole variety of non-fiction.
I don't like horror and I like my crime fiction on the cosy end.
Crime novelists I enjoy include Donna Leon, Anne Perry, Molly MacRae, Kerry Greenwood, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Peter Tremayne, Sara Paretsky, Val MacDermid, Katherine Forrest, Majorie Allingham, Laurie R. King (particularly the Mary Russell books) and Carola Dunn. I reread Dorothy L. Sayers at intervals. I used to like Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh, but I don't think they've stood the test of time as well as Allingham and Sayers.
I used to read a lot of science fiction but read it only occasionally now. Suzette Haden Elgin's books stand out in my memory. I am a great fan of anything by Octavia L. Butler. I recently read and re-enjoyed Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. I may decide to do a re-read of Bradbury generally. Zenna Henderson's books were tremendously important to me when I was younger.
I like 18th and 19th century fiction. I re-read Jane Austen at intervals; ditto Dickens; ditto Susan Ferrier, Amelia Opie, and Walter Scott. I love Dorothy Wordsworth's travel writing -- I'm less fond of her diaries but they are nonetheless worth a read. I re-read Susan Glaspell's A Jury of Her Peers about once a year and am a great fan of Mary Wilkins Freeman and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Other books I return to at intervals include Breakfast at Tiffany's, I Capture the Castle, Cold Comfort Farm, A Bullet in the Ballet, Jackie Kay's Adoption Papers and Neil Gaiman's short story Chivalry. I like some but not all Gaiman; I like some but not all Terry Pratchett (mostly Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men).
More general novels? I enjoyed Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl (a rewriting of Taming of the Shrew). I liked Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I will always read something by Margaret Elphinstone or Sara Maitland. I like the Icelandic writer Halldar Laxness. I loved Christine Coleman's The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society. I found The Restoration of Oscar Laird thought-provoking. I've just finished the Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman which I loved -- I'm on the waiting list for the next book in the series at the local library. I'm currently reading Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and Ariadne by Jennifer Sain.
My partner and I are planning to visit Estonia next summer, covid-permitting, and I hope to read some Estonian novels in translation over the next few months. (I'm also hoping to teach myself to speak Estonian! Given that it's a Finno-Ugric language, which means that the only languages it resembles are Finnish and Hungarian, that's going to be a challenge ....)
Quite a lot of the time I read non-fiction. I'm an inveterate reader of cookbooks and cookery magazines. I read walks books and craft books. I read a lot of literary criticism but that's poised somewhere between leisure and work. Ditto 17th century Quaker texts.
Looking at the non-fiction titles in the pile of books waiting to be read on my bedside table, they include The Natural World of Needle Felting, Cold Brew Coffee: Techniques and Recipes, Younger Next Year for Women, Macro Photography, Telling True Stories, Creating a Wildlife Garden, Covenant and Conversation: a weekly reading of the Jewish Bible, Fun and Games for the 21st century, and Teach Yourself Estonian!
I like and read children's and young adult books. Classic authors I still return to include C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L'Engle, Lewis Carroll, Louisa May Alcott, Susan Cooper, Arthur Ransome, Edward Eager, Ruth Sawyer, Kenneth Grahame, E.B. White and Robert Louis Stevenson. More modern authors that I've enjoyed include Philip Pullman, Philippa Pearce, Malorie Blackman and Jonathan Stroud and Alex Gardiner's Mossbelly MacFearsome and the Dwarves of Doom made me laugh out loud while reading.
Within my academic life I've done some research on 18th and 19th century children's books and have a particular interest in Mary Martha Sherwood, Maria Graham, W.T.Stead (especially the Books for the Bairns) and Sarah Trimmer. I'm also interested in 19th century children's magazines
I often listen to audio-books, mostly crime fiction and non-fiction.
I hardly ever watch television. When I do, it tends to be game shows or documentaries or nature programmes.
I do however listen to a lot of radio. mostly BBC Radio 4 (which is mostly speech programmes, news, dramas, documentaries, etc.) or 4 Extra. Sometimes I listen to Radio 2 (generally popular and easy listening music). I also like BBC World Service which gives me a much more global perspective on world news.
One of the great things about my time on Swap-bot is the way it widened my crafting. I now make ATCs, do kirigami, make zines, Zen tangle, crochet and knit. I also like making handmade postcards and decorated envelopes. Being part of a Digital Art Group made me work harder at that medium and I've also got increasingly into photography. I've just joined a local photography class so am hoping to improve my skills. I've received some wonderful items from other swappers and they've stimulated and inspired me to develop my own skills.
I play Serpentine online and Scrabble. I really like board games of all sorts and card games, but as my partner doesn't, I don't often have anyone to play with, unless my son who's into games happens to be around. (He lives in Scotland so I only see him every couple of months.)
I love cooking and like trying out new recipes. I cook things from all round the world, but Indian is probably the one I do most of. We used to live in a predominantly Pakistani neighbourhood where it was really easy to get all the spices and other ingredients in the local shops. We moved a few years ago to be nearer my work but make periodic expeditions into the old neighbourhood for shopping. I have lots of cookbooks. We keep running out of bookshelf space for them!
I also really like eating out and trying new restaurants.
We do quite a lot of country walking. I also like visiting museums.
We feed the birds in the garden and have seen over 30 species over the last year. We don't watch breakfast TV -- we sit by the patio doors and watch the birds instead!
When it comes to postcards, I particularly like maps, holidays, fairy tales, myths and legends, greeting postcards, foods and cooking, book or library themed, vintage, museums, trees, birds, insects, poems, science, sports and games -- but I'm open to surprises!
Old children's books (published pre-1970) in any language and from any country
Cookbooks and recipes
Vintage postcards and greetings cards
Little Golden Books
Contemporary children's picture books from around the world and in any language
Food from around the world
American candy, particularly Sweet Tarts, Chuckles, Necco Wafers, Good and Plenty, Cookie Dough Bites and Red Hots
Music - folk, country, classical in particular. Not a heavy metal or punk fan.
Vintage postcards and greetings cards
Postcards with nice pictures on
Postcards from museums
Things that people have made and put time and thought into
Crime fiction from around the world
Nice things for the shower
Old microscope slides
18th and 19th century magazines
Spices and herbs
Anything to do with the ocean (pictures, sand, boats, etc.)
Pictures of snow scenes
Women's magazines, craft magazines, cooking magazines, photography magazines (but not celebrity magazines)
Learning about other people, their culture and how they live
Board and card games
Hello Kitty items
A number of years ago, I needed a user name for an online game I was playing and there was a bottle of witch hazel sitting on the table. I ended up as hazelwitch! I've generally kept the name for online things that I do.
It's good to be back.
Current Swaps -- keeping track
Ratings chased (sometimes) but never received: kammy, Lady Abigail, Junemoon, annim, cynaemon, teraecau, mjhaertling, pernie123, scraphappygabi, swapwithyi, kaytee2368
Late senders: pernie123, venzo2b
Flaked on by tatntole (WTA, chased by both host and me, no response), LoveJester (twice)
ESO Christmas/Winter stationery swap sent 25 October. Waiting for rating from stachel. Chased 30 November.
SPCP Near and Far sent 9 November. Waiting for ratings from irm1980 Chased 30 11.
Queer minizine sent 17 November. Waiting for swap from lefroggy and rating from marineko.
ESO PC #15 sent 18 November. Waiting for rating from liisaS
Reading Challenge #1 sent on 18 November. Waiting for rating from onyx95
Wishlist gift send to Highlander 20 November.
Christmas card with a bird sent 22 November. Waiting for rating from JBFR and swap from watercolorgirl
3 vintage pcs and a Christmas card sent 24 November. Waiting for swap from minniepic and rating from skinny52
SPCP Calendar pages Jan-Feb sent 28 November. Waiting for swap from catt007 and rating from mjhaertling
Beginner postcard November sent 28 November. Waiting for rating from blueberrylady and swap from onyx
Private What did you read November sent 30 November. Waiting for rating from carol
Accountability list #22 sent 30 November. Waiting for swap from lob and rating from krspellman.
Nice to Newbies Christmas card Europe sent 1 December. Waiting for rating from little miss giggles and swap from Nehalennia.
BLC What Will You Read 2022/23 email sent 1 December. Waiting for ratings from ksenia and mysmashbooklife and swap from ksenia .
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