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Jul 2018 to Dec 2018

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30th December 2018
My roving reporters Amanda and Ellen highly recommend a visit to Hanbury Hall, Droitwich, Worcestershire, a redbrick William and Mary style house now owned by the National Trust. As well as restored formal gardens and a tea room, you can enjoy living reconstructions of various periods through the history of the house.
Amanda and Ellen arrived at the gate but found the long carriage drive too far, so a minibus was promptly sent to collect them. Two wheelchairs were offered for use at the door, a choice of an electric chair or a pushable one. And when one of the friends went upstairs, the other lady was able to view the upper rooms on a tablet screen from downstairs. The staff were friendly and proactive at offering assistance which is wonderful, as nobody likes to think they are causing a delay or nuisance. The more visitors who enjoy the day, the more visitors will come along as a result.

This week’s horse book is The Story of the Pony Express by Glenn D. Bradley ASIN: B004TR0G68.
This fascinating look at the Pony Express lays out the history and reasons why this was a needed service and much welcomed. The overland route from East to West coast of America carried news, bank affairs, money, letters and newspapers among other matters. The other route was generally down through the Panama isthmus using a boat on each side and overland trail. This was cut off by the Civil War, so the time was right for a rider mail route through Utah and over mountains.
I liked the look at the horses - the best of blood horses, mustangs and others - which had speed and stamina. The men were tough, loyal and brave. Many stories are included of their determination. Seventy-five miles was a usual ride, with stations every ten or twelve miles to change horses.

This week’s nature book is The Joy of Forest Bathing by Melanie Choukas-Bradley ISBN: 9781631065705.
The concept of forest bathing comes from Japan, and while I wasn’t aware of the name, I know that indeed walking and sitting in woodland, the more mature the better, is a relaxing and revitalising experience. Of course, I can’t just stroll. I spot broken hanging limbs, young trees waiting for a break in the canopy, fungi hollowing a trunk, tiny moss nests for long tailed tits and more. Especially the trees, being a tree surgeon. We are told yoga is best done outdoors and a forest glade would seem an ideal spot. I suggest combining this book with one on foraging if only to give you an excuse to go to a forest.

During the past two weeks I offset ten pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, bottle fed a kitten and saved a green turtle hatchling at

16th December 2018
My media law class visited the Four Courts in Dublin. While the grand older Gandon designed buildings were replete with steps, including inside all the courtrooms - up to the jury benches and judicial benches, up to the witness box and public gallery - we did find a lift had been added to help visitors reach the higher levels. To one side is the newer District Court building which has courtrooms on the ground floor, access ramps and level floors. Once inside, there is no need to climb steps to sit in a public or press gallery as in the older courtrooms. Every seat is on the same level and we found space for wheelchairs to move around in this modern format.
The public are entitled to see the law being made and applied in almost all cases, and the press are entitled to view the proceedings, with some restrictions in sensitive cases.
Four Courts

This week’s horse book is Celtic Summer by C.G. Hassack ISBN: 9781502463067.
Reminding us that Australia has it warm and sunny right now, the first story is set in Australia of modern day. Two horse loving sisters take on the task of training a nervy Arabian mare, Celtic Summer, which has been poorly treated. The station hasn’t seen rain for too long, and other horse trainers are selling up, but a few nice strong lads are starting to hang around the sisters which is a great incentive to keep going. New Adult would be a fitting description, with some strong language and mature romance.
Cut to the past, with a possible reincarnation setup. Back in Roman - tribal Briton times, a horsewoman charioteer catches the eye of a centurion. But the tribes don’t mix with Romans, in fact they are at odds most of the time. This part fills the second half of the book and has stronger language, more mature scenes and more violence. Great reconstruction.

A New Republic of the Heart by Terry Patten ASIN: B01BJR9QTS
I enjoyed this book, but the contents won’t be for every keen nature lover. If you are more inclined to debate philosophy than science, want to sway your fellow human with discourse rather than charts, film footage and statistics, and enjoy expanding your vocabulary, this will be a great book for you. I’m rather more of a practical person.
I have no doubt that the author is sincere in his wish to enact positive change in environments small and large, personal, corporate and global. We are all in this lifeboat together. Lots of useful information is provided, with definitions of black swan events and such; but a strong basis in knowledge about climate science is assumed.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, fed a rescued seal and protected the rainforest of Madagascar among other good works.

9th December 2018
This week I noted that Áras an Uachtaráin, the President’s house, is accessible. Over three hundred visitors, including 166 children with physical or developmental disabilities and their carers, came to tea with the Higginses. This was covered on the main evening news and other press. Looked like a great fun party. They turned on the Christmas lights and enjoyed a horse and sleigh ride courtesy of WALK, the Walkinstown Association for People with an Intellectual Disability. Father Christmas even came to meet everyone. What a great start to the Christmas season.
Áras an Uachtaráin is open to visitors with tours at other times of the year.

This week’s horse book is one you’ll need to find secondhand, well worth the search. Martin Rides the Moor by Vian Smith ISBN: 9780552521352.
Martin lives on Dartmoor and he is given a hardy little Exmoor pony mare which he names Tuppence. This tells of how the pair get to know each other and explore the moor, Tuppence being wise to marshy ground and testing every step, eating Martin’s chocolate. They have various adventures and a house party is a big occasion, when the nearest little girl rides over in slacks and changes into a party dress.
Martin has hearing loss, which is one reason he feels lonely until he gets Tuppence, but that is not what you take away from the story.
Vian Smith lived in Dartmoor and wrote of its history. He trained racehorses, but this book shows that he never lost his admiration for the hardy little native ponies.

This week’s environment book is AwareKnits by Vickie Howell and Adrienne Armstrong ISBN: 9781600594694.
I wholeheartedly recommend this large size book of over thirty knitting, crocheting and felting projects. They are simple looking enough for even a novice to get started and have immediate practical use. Some are for more advanced skills but they have star ratings to indicate the recommended skill level.
Along with each pattern the authors tell us a little about the kind of fibre - bamboo, silk, hemp, even soy can all be made into fibres and found at a knitting supply shop. As well as alpaca, organic wool, organic cotton. A very eco-conscious notion is using up your stash, even the odds and ends in a scarf of many colours.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village and gave a woman a biometric smartcard to open her own bank account. All at

2nd December 2018
This week I recommend a visit to the Gallery of Photography in Temple Bar, Dublin. The gallery is free and opens each day, with plenty of books and photos in various mediums to purchase or just browse. Upstairs is the exhibition of the day; there is a lift, as you’d expect. Some of the passages are narrow, reflecting the adaptation of an existing building. I thought a wide or motorised wheelchair might have difficulty negotiating the passages. But the rooms are wide and uncluttered with lots of space for a wheelchair or two.
The gallery also contains a darkroom and studio, which is accessible to wheelchairs. The friendly staff are committed to supporting diversity. They also provide training, printing, advice on portfolios and the facility to sell books in the shop.
Temple Bar can be reached by public transport such as the Luas and Dublin Bus.

This week’s horse book is Star Dancer by Morgan Llywelyn ISBN: 9780862783310.
This is a good read which contrasts a no-hope streetwise kid with a suburban girl who is learning to ride dressage. Their paths cross when the lad sneaks in to the Royal Dublin Society showgrounds to look at the horses.
Ger decides to pretend that he belongs, and starts to want to help out with the glossy, friendly horses. Yes, horses have that effect on people. Suzanne, who owns Star Dancer, needs some help too, because much as she loves her brave horse, she’s secretly afraid of jumping. Even though they get to be friends, and Ger works on weekends in the stables, Ger has to go home at night, and his real life keeps catching up with him.
Star Dancer

This week’s nature book is Mrs Moreau’s Warbler by Stephen Moss ISBN: 9781783350902.
I enjoyed this book although it wasn’t about what I expected. I thought it was going to detail various expeditions, trips and bird-spotting habits of yesteryear, and to a degree it was. However, mostly we look at etymology, the evolution of language in Britain (from Proto-Indo-European), the folk names birds had in different regions and who got to name newly-discovered (meaning shot, when there were no good binoculars and cameras) birds. From this we proceed to look at birds named after persons - I have never seen the term eponymous used so many times. And how birds are constantly being re-classified, rearranged into sub-species and even renamed.
The author tells us about a few of his own birding trips, including a one-day list contest of migrating birds, and a trek to search for the bird of the title.

During the past fortnight I offset fourteen pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, saved a green turtle hatchling, protected the rainforest of Madagascar and raised a farm animal humanely.

18th November 2018
This week author Effrosyni Moschoudi is my roving reporter. She tells me about her home of Corfu:
“All Corfu is quite laid back and open-spaced... One would find plenty of places where people can safely get around in wheelchairs or with their guide dogs.
Moraitika is bigger than Messonghi and, as you can see in the photo that I attach, there are wide pavements for wheelchairs to use safely. If there’s anything you need, more photos or whatever, kindly let me know. My guide is here if you wish to mention it:

You know, there are loads of Irish tourists in Moraitika. And they seem to flock to ’Irini Apartments’ in particular! You’ll find it in my guide - very lush surroundings, quiet, with a pool and a bar beside it. It’s blissful and makes for a quiet and laid back holiday. Thank you so much for thinking to recommend Corfu, I really appreciate it.”

This week’s environment tale is Have Sword, Will Travel by Garth Nix and Sean Williams ISBN:9781742374024.
This is a very enjoyable book for young readers. I like particularly that every role is equal opportunity, from hero to villain, from talking sword to occupations like miller.
Our two young heroes find an old enchanted sword in the dried-up riverbed. The sword talks, nicely in a gothic script, which will help if you are reading aloud. As the sword Biter insists on dubbing his finder a knight - to the miller’s son’s dismay, and the annoyance of his girl pal who really does want to be a knight - this starts an adventure. Mainly, the young people decide to go and investigate the drying up of the river. Tales have come from upstream of a blockage and a dragon. Water shortage is an incredibly topical subject so I have to commend the authors for bringing environmental awareness and water scarcity into the tale.

This week’s horse book is Megan and Mischief by Kelly McKain ISBN: 9781847150066.
This is a nice short tale for any kids who love ponies and drawings. The girl of the story is Megan who seems about 11 or 12 but she is just one of a little group of girls who have come to a pony camp stay for a week in England. Megan has been a bit shy in class and has been given the slow pony at her riding school. But she is determined that this week where nobody knows her, she will be brave and strong, and the lively pony Mischief will do as she asks. Only, not all the girls are pally, and nobody told Mischief...
Megan and Mischief

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, gave a woman a biometric smartcard so she can open her own bank account and more.

11th November 2018
This week I recommend a visit to the Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Kilmainham. Designed by the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the gardens are laid out with steps down to sunken rose beds, but there are still plenty of level paths to enjoy. The area is close to the River Liffey and tranquil, a good picnic spot during summer and a nice stroll at this time of year. The gardens are dedicated to the 49,400 Irish soldiers who died during the 1914 - 1918 war; their names are written on granite books.
The park is near Heuston Station and the Museum of Modern Art, which has accessible restrooms and a café.

This week’s horse book is The Diamond Horse by Stacy Gregg ISBN: 9780008124397.
This book is split between two times - Russia of Catherine the Great, and modern Russia. Each tale carries a girl, a horse and a black diamond, the Orlov Diamond. In the main tale our heroine is Anna, daughter of Count Orlov, sister of the young Ivan the Terrible. The problem is mainly isolation. They are stuck out alone in the wild snowy wastes of Russia. There are servants, of course, but at this period the servants are serfs and have to do as they are told.
Anna loves animals, in the absence of playmates, and adopts a runty puppy - her impatient father is starting the breed of Borzoi dogs - and an Amur tiger cub, and a horse. This Drakon starts the breed of Orlov Trotters.

This week instead of a nature book, for once we have a poem read by Emma Thompson on video. The little film of a girl and an orang-utan was banned as a Christmas ad for supermarket Iceland, as it is considered too political. We think it’s a great story and very informative.

This picture is a book I previously recommended, Orangutan: A Day in the Rainforest Canopy by Rita Goldner.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, fed a rescued seal, protected the Madagascar rainforest and rescued a green turtle hatchling.

4th November 2018
This week I can recommend a trip to the Louvre. This famous art museum in Paris used to be a palace and the wide corridors with seats are friendly to visitors. As there is a lot of ground to cover, I recommend those who have reduced mobility to collect a wheelchair from the desk for the duration. The gallery staff provide a variety of guided tours. These include a tactile sculpture room and described artworks, for vision impaired people. Also a signed or lip reading tour, in French, led by deaf guides. Groups of developmentally disabled visitors are also welcome but smaller numbers in each group are preferred. Museums in France charge for entry so look up opening times and prices.
The famous art and historical artefacts need no description here, but I’ll recommend the studenty café under the glass pyramid as a great dining spot. This place is bright and cheerful when the street cafés are dark or deserted. When I visited, we could choose food from a variety of stands around the centre of a large room in which the tables and chairs served everyone; chairs were movable. This room also leads to the Metro. If required, staff can assist visitors with disabilities to and from bus stops.

This week’s horse book is Leaving The City by Hollie Anne Marsh ASIN: B07CSTC76H
First in the ‘Sweetbriars’ series for pony loving girls is the story of how Cate Sullivan, her parents and older brother Alex, move out of Hampstead on the wealthy side of London to a farm in Devon. Leaving the city is not entirely happy for twelve year old Cate, because her best friends are now several hours away and she’ll have to join a new school. But the move will give the family the freedom to open an equestrian centre at Sweetbriars Farm.
Cate has a palomino mare called Odette, well placed in showing. Cate imagines she can continue showing but when she joins the local Pony Club it turns out they don’t do that, and she has to learn dressage instead.

Green Capital by Christian de Perthuis ISBN: 9780231171403
More than one book I’ve read recently has carried this theme of nature providing services which should be factored into the cost of goods or energy, but is discounted or thought of as free. Bees pollinating flowers to produce crops is the obvious one; clean water for irrigation, grazing and manufacturing is another.
The authors examine the topic thoroughly and from economic points of view. I do admire their research while it’s good to see this work from a European writing team. I like the present and future being addressed in such ways as to point out that the developed northern hemisphere is largely planting trees and preserving biodiversity while the less developed lands and southern hemisphere are doing the opposite. But the developed lands are dependent on foods, supply chains and manufacturing in the developing countries. So a full air mile, carbon use and pollution cost should be provided on clear labelling. This would reveal the natural capital used.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, helped save a leatherback turtle hatchling and supported the Jane Goodall Institute. All through

28th October 2018
This week my roving reporter Allan recommends a trip to Collins Barracks in Dublin, otherwise titled the Decorative Arts and History Museum. On my several trips here I’ve seen a giant Viking ship in the square; a samurai warrior’s armour; ceramics; lacquered furniture; silverware; fashionable hats; fashionable clothes; Irish Army history; many more items. Allan particularly likes that there are large lifts to every floor and accessible restrooms, plus a café. He says that there is a lot of space to move around everywhere and the barracks have been adapted to be very wheelchair friendly.
A separate exhibition highlights 1916 while at the back of the barracks across the car park is the home of Erskine Childer’s ship Asgard, reviewed earlier in my blog. So much to see that you can’t pack it into one day. The Museum does not open on a Monday.

This week’s horse book is Dream Horse by Barbara Morgenroth ISBN: 9780981644073.
This engaging horse book set in America, features a young lady who is dying to have her first real horse. When she is offered Charlie her life changes in a big way. He has a mind of his own, won’t be hurried, and is a long way from the horse of her dreams. But maybe that’s better, because she has to learn to be a good rider.

This week’s environment book is Feasible Planet by Ken Kroes ASIN: B076FMFG3Y
I have enjoyed reading this handbook and discussion of how we can each make choices to lead more sustainable lives. No one book will ever cover every aspect, but major issues are presented. We are encouraged to make one change at least, because it builds up; we can then proceed to consider other changes.
I like the author’s metaphor of a WII -FM radio station (What’s in it for Me?) playing in our heads. This is how he demonstrates a feeling of entitlement and self-interest.

This fortnight I offset fourteen pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, gave a woman a biometric smartcard to open her own bank account, supported Amnesty International and Opportunity International among other good causes.

14th October 2018
This week I got a recommendation to visit the Panama Canal. My roving reporters Tracey and Patrick were initially cautious about travelling to a Central American country but Panama, which is paid up front for every ship that passes through the isthmus canal, turned out to be a modern and safe country in their experience. The Canal itself is outside the city so transport is more of an issue than anything. The Miraflores Visitor Center has ramps and lifts, wheelchairs available and accessible restrooms, as well as a restaurant, cafeteria and theatre. You can snack while watching cargo vessels pass through the locks. The famous Canal is quite a coup for a world traveller.

I’m happy to recommend, in turn, Tracey’s biography, a motivational book which reached Amazon bestselling status on release, in the section Living With Disability.

This week’s horse book is Mary’s Song by Susan Count ASIN: B01M9B2WKN

In 1950s America, a girl afflicted by a virus that made her unable to walk (we are not told details, but it doesn’t seem to be polio) sits on her father’s fine porch and wishes for a horse. Specifically, one of the Morgan foals next door, Illusion, which was born with a club foot. If Illusion could be treated and saved - which is by no means certain - maybe even a lonely girl like Mary could learn to walk as well.
The characterisation is finely done and we learn the strengths of determination, friendship and science.

This week’s nature book is The Ecocentrists by Keith Mako Woodhouse ISBN: 9780231547154.
The early chapters (after the introduction which discusses tree spiking) are about dam construction, canyons and mountain access roads. Then a look at the local people and students constructing a people’s park in Berkeley, California, and street riots when the city and college disputed who owned the land. By now, environmentalists were looking seriously at overpopulation of the world and discussing it in academic as well as general terms.
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson is mentioned.
The next part looks at Greenpeace, started in 1970 as Don’t Make A Wave when a group of mostly Quakers bravely went out on a boat to protest detonating atomic bombs under the Aleutian islands. Renamed as Greenpeace they went on to stage dramatic protests, peaceful and publicity seeking in intent. A breakaway member with more active impulses founded Sea Shepherd.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, raised a farm animal humanely, helped protect the Madagascan rainforest and protected a green turtle hatchling. All at no cost through

7th October 2018
This week my roving reporter Dragana has recommended a podcast from RadioLab - we listened to a particularly interesting one on the topic of Falling. With a variety of presenters and guests, fun sound effects and science explained, as well as personal stories, the show is great for everyone and would be particularly useful for anyone visually impaired.
Many of the shows look at America since the show is recorded in New York, but lots of topics are general enough to amuse every listener.

This week’s horse book is To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield by Bronwen Evans ISBN: 9780473206789.
The gentry were more relaxed at their country estates than in town, which accounts for several of the circumstances in this book. Among them, a young lady wearing a groom’s clothes to ride astride; swimming in the lake; a lady visiting the neighbour’s house without a maid or other chaperone.
This is a fun story of a desperate wager over a house and a horse.

This week’s nature book is The Touch of Durrell: A Passion for Animals by Jeremy Mallinson ISBN: 9781846243707.
The author was a young lad during WW2 and in the spirit of the times, headed out to be a soldier in then (peaceful) Rhodesia after finishing with public school. Many of the people he describes in his memoir were well off; but in those times few other people could travel. The difficulty was to stop them shooting everything. So the author’s first admiration for Africa and wildlife made him well suited for a career as zoo keeper and animal collector.
Gerald Durrell by this time had set up his own private collection with his first wife Jacquie, in Jersey, and Jeremy got the chance to join as temporary keeper, first of all with birds, then moving to mammals, and apes. Jeremy wanted to make his own expedition and some of the nicest tales are of his trips to Africa and South America.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, helped save a green turtle hatchling, protected the rainforest of Madagascar and many more good works.

30th September 2018
This week I commend Blarney Castle in Co Cork. During April this year an American tourist couple were here exploring their heritage. They were nearly at the top of famous Blarney Castle when the husband David Motte, 59, from North Carolina, collapsed with a severe heart attack. Thanks to swift first aid and CPR from tower staff and the emergency paramedics, an Automated External Defibrillator used by a Blarney Community First Responder, and a helicopter from the Coast Guard, he was taken to hospital alive after being revived. Yesterday night I saw this gentleman on the Ray Darcy Show on RTE, back in Ireland, thanking all his helpers.
We would think the top of a castle is the worst place to have a heart attack; it turned out to be the best, he said. Well done to all concerned. Here is the original story from the Irish Examiner.

And here is an excellent addendum: HeartSafety Solutions which sells AEDs donates one to everyone who has survived a heart attack with the help of an AED. David Motte donated his to the Blarney Community First Responders.

This week’s horse book is Captured & Seduced by Shelley Munro ASIN: B00KQ2DC1Q.
Horses but not as you know them. Yes, we’re off to the far reaches of space as a feline shifter spacefarer and his crew kidnap a horse trainer from Earth. Actually she’s a jockey, fighting to stay sober since her husband died. But the main thing is, she can train hell-horses. You what? Hell-horses. They are like big black hyenas and scavenge and fight to the death. Not your average day in the paddock. Adult romance and some strong language.

This week’s nature book is Murder Flies the Coop by Jessica Ellicott ISBN: 9781496710529.
Two ladies in 1920s Kent, one American divorcee, one English lady who worked in the women’s Land Army during the Great War. They investigate the disappearance of a pigeon club treasurer with birds and funds.
I liked learning about pigeon racing, class conscious at the time because working men could not afford clubs and trains for longer races. I also really like how the ladies investigate a colliery and even go down the pit. The tale is full of characters and setting, brimful of local colour.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, fed a rescued seal and supported the Jane Goodall Institute among other good works.

23rd September 2018
This week the Dublin Gazette carried a story about the new specialist facility for frame football at a club in Hermitage Park, Lucan, Co Dublin. Both amputee footballers and those who need to use a walking frame, or who believe they can compete more equally with a frame, will be using this pitch. Well done to Esker Celtic Football Club, the Football Association of Ireland with their Football For All campaign, and Dublin County Council.
Frames are able to run easily on the special surface and 4 a side or 5 a side games will be the norm. The local players tested out various surfaces to find the best one, which means they had direct input into their facility. Teams from around the country are expected to come and make use of the pitch, encouraging inter-club friendships.
The Dublin Gazette.

This week’s horse book is Trophy Horse by Amanda Wills ASIN: B079538GSG.
Cassius is a black Percheron and in this English book he and young Kristy recently rode in a prizewinning team quadrille. However the new fame draws a former owner of the handsome horse to want him back. She abandoned Cassius because he had an eye infection - which left him blind in one eye. But money talks and poor Kristy is devastated. She has to drop out of the team and starts plotting to get Cassius back.
The first book had much more emphasis on the difficulties of riding a partially sighted horse. By contrast this one has more normal pony book dilemmas.

This week’s nature book is Cock Crow: Poems About Life In The Countryside chosen by Michal Morpurgo ISBN: 9781405212885.
These nice short poems about life in the countryside will suit kids with an ear for interesting sounds and an eye for the quirky line drawings.
Seamus Heaney and WB Yeats, Thomas Hardy and RL Stevenson, Shakespeare, Molly Holden, plenty of Anons. Some you will know and some you won’t but none are very long and some are a few lines.
I think the poems are best read aloud. While a few are easy enough I think modern kids will be asking questions. What is a blacksmith, a whipper-in, a throstle, stubble-fire?
Cock Crow

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a tree in an African village, and gave a woman a biometric smartcard to open her own bank account. All at

16th September 2018
This week my roving reporter Allan recommends Killester College, Dublin, which held an Open Day recently. An Open Day is a good way for the public to check out a college and see if the facilities, as well as the subjects provided would suit them.
This college has steps and a ramp up to the front door with a sliding automatic door at the top of the ramp. Inside the rooms and canteen are all on one level. The well equipped accessible restrooms are in two places. Parking is provided and the college is close to public transport. Killester College says that it regularly reviews both physical and digital access with the aim of making the college as accessible as possible to the community.

This week’s horse book is Last Chance Mustang by Mitchell Bornstein ISBN: 9781250059413.
I’m giving this book five stars on the understanding that it’s not for children. Mitch met an adopted mustang, recently gelded at the age of twelve, called Samson. His owner Amy who ran an animal sanctuary had been the violent - because much abused - horse’s last hope. The book tells of how Mitch, who had managed to reclaim other stressed and difficult horses, decided he had to work with the mustang and save him. Every step took a long time and Mitch gradually worked out the sources of stress - a helicopter noise reminded Samson of the distressing roundup while his ears had been damaged in twitches, a halter had been left on too long and eaten into his skin, his former owner carried nightmares for the horse.

This week’s environment book is Saving Africa by N. Timoleon Amessa ISBN: 9781785899461.
Very interesting to read about modern problems in African nations from the point of view of an African gentleman and world traveller. This is a careful and reasoned analysis by a man who doesn’t claim to be an economist or sociologist, but an observer. The author compares with Asian and South American nations, exporting goods and oil, but with more people fleeing every year to go to developed nations. Life in a village is hard work, and provides little reward.
A valid point is made by saying that nobody takes care of the natural environment, with open space exploited and degraded, instead of cared for and valued as providing the services that humans need to live. Whereas in Europe, every stretch of land, private, public or wild, is studied and tended.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a tree in an African village, helped seals, primates, rainforests and supported the oceans. All at

9th September 2018
This week I’m looking at a new drone app developed to help find and rescue people missing in rough terrain.
A search dog can cover more ground than a human and a drone can overfly the terrain and send images back much more quickly and easily. The Drone SAR was shown to be three times quicker than a five-person team on exercise in Donegal. While this won’t show up a fallen climber down in a crevasse or lying under brush, it can eliminate areas from the need to be physically searched and cover a grid pattern with real time feedback to a central control.
Well done and this will make the task of rescuing the injured much easier and safer, as well as having further potential.

This week’s horse book is The Sporting Horse by Nicola Jane Swinney ASIN: B07DP4ZH6K.
Gorgeous and informative, this book is a must for horse lovers. When I got an e-ARC I browsed all the photos straight away, one more beautiful than the next. Look at that Warmblood doing dressage, the palomino barrel racer, the Andalusian in the sea. And all the pictures of teams of horses in driving sports. The book is full of motion, strength and colour. The horses are supple, moving, glossy.
I found lots of great information too, most of which is not the standard horsey info in other books. I saw Nick Skelton’s record breaking high jump on Lastic described here, on TV. We learn about the history of Trakhener horses and how a one-eyed horse beat the Hickstead Derby.

This week’s environment book is From This Moment On by Debra Clopton ISBN: 9781941491218.
This is a sweet romance story set on a beach resort island in Florida. The owner of a family-run hotel has asked a famous mural artist to come and paint murals for her, hoping to attract tourists. The man is somewhat stressed after a plane accident but accepts. The lady is recovering from her own stressful divorce. I particularly like that one of the family works in a sea turtle rescue centre and we get to learn about why turtles may need help and what problems they face.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, gave a woman a biometric smartcard to help her open a bank account, supported Amnesty International’s work against violence and more.

2nd September 2018
This week my roving reporter Jami has recommended the Romance Writers of America annual meetup and awards. She tells us on her blog:
“During several of the big workshops, a live-caption transcriptionist typed every word of the presenter to display on a screen to one side of the podium. Although I’m a hearing person, I appreciated this service for deaf or hard-of-hearing attendees.
“My auditory processing is sometimes slow, and when I struggled (or just zoned out for a bit as I thought about how to apply some tidbit of advice *grin*), I was able to refer to the screen and catch up on the last sentence or two of information.”
I’m pleased that the RWA put extra thought into making conference attendees welcome and helping them all participate fully. Here is Jami’s blog where she describes the whole event.

This week’s horse book is The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to Osm by Sybrina Durant ISBN: 9781942740094.
Every author has her own take on unicorns, and these are brightly coloured horselike beings but with cloven hoofs (that means they are not horses, although they could have evolved from a common ancestor) and with a single horn, made of a metal. The book has a format of two pages of text followed by a two-page illustration of the scene, so any age can enjoy the story.
This is actually an ‘ugly duckling’ fable and I must admit to being disappointed when the blue unicorn with no metal horn turned into something shinier and stronger, instead of making best use of his innate talents and wit.

This week’s nature book is Elefant by Martin Suter ISBN: 9780008264314.
This short novel at first seems freakish, then draws the reader in to its premise. A down and out man in Zurich huddles in a riverbank cave out of the rain, and sees a tiny pink elephant moving in the darkness. The elefant is also glowing.
We slip back a couple of years to see the machinations of a genetic manipulation laboratory, which draws on circus Indian elephant breeding stock to create an altered embryo. (You will learn more than you wanted to know about such intimate procedures.) Elephant babies take time to grow, and during these months, the young elephant trainer from Burma becomes convinced that his charge may be going to deliver a sacred elephant baby. He wishes to free her when she arrives, from experimentation and unscrupulous ownership, but the foreign investors from Asia will not be easily fooled.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, bottle fed a kitten and fed a rescued primate, among other good works at

26th August 2018
This week I commend the Ilac Centre in Dublin city centre. The shopping centre has entrances on Henry Street and Parnell Street, and is wheelchair friendly with a lift up to the large library on the first floor. Walking through recently I noticed that the location information posters display clearly where the Automated Electronic Defibrillators are kept. Great idea and this information can be easily noted for future use as well as found in a hurry.

Other initiatives here include harvesting rainwater for the public restrooms and replacing lighting with LEDs to save energy, plus placing a beehive on the roof.

This week’s horse book is Boy and the Very Lonely Pony by Junia Wonders ISBN: 9781499189612.
This is a brightly illustrated daydream story for early readers. A young boy sees a grey pony from his window, but the pony has no company all day. When the moon rises the boy sneaks out to talk to the pony and see what they could do together.

This week’s environment book is a cli-fi thriller Carbon Run by J.G. Follansbee ASIN: B075HMN6RL.
This dystopian thriller begins in Oregon but the action shifts to the Arctic Ocean - not as we know it. When the world warmed a new source of fuel was needed, safer than burning oil, and due to a major problem explained in the book, this went wrong. The Arctic is now ice-free and a science station is tethered at the North Pole, floating, a destination for luxury cruise ships.
We follow a young lady called Anne Penn who just wants to help preserve the last breeding home of the Klamath magpie. But a domestic fire starts and spreads to the woods, and Anne and her dad Bill are blamed for the environmental crime.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a tree in an African village, raised a farm animal humanely and protected the rainforest of Madagascar, as well as other good deeds.

19th August 2018
This week my roving reporter Fergal recommends Aviva Stadium at Lansdowne Rd where he attended a concert recently. He was impressed by all the lifts to every level and the accessible restrooms. According to the stadium site, they have spaces for 230 wheelchair users and an equal number of carers, distributed around the stadium. Lifts to every level may be used by anyone with reduced mobility, and stewards are available to help. Guide dogs will be admitted and the top and bottom of steps have tactile flooring warnings. Restaurant have low level counters and there are 51 accessible restrooms around the stadium.
Whether you are attending a concert, match or another function, you can arrive by public transport or arrange in advance to park in dedicated spaces.

This week’s horse book is Reunited with the Bull Rider by Jill Kemerer ISBN: 9781335509543.
This is a family friendly romance, set in Wyoming. A young lady who makes and sells quilts, offers to mentor a child, and is presented with a small girl whose mom has died - from a troubled background - who doesn’t trust adults, not even her uncle who is fostering her. However, the uncle was our heroine’s childhood sweetheart, until he hightailed it out of town to be a rodeo star.
So this is a challenging situation in more ways than one. We see that the gentleman has retired at thirty, this being old for his sport, and hopes to raise and train horses. His gift of a pony to his young ward is a great move and works out really well.

This week’s nature book is High Seas by Madelon Smid ASIN: B00YBDHSIY.
This is the third book I have read by this author. All are full of adventure in the great outdoors. This book takes us kayaking for island hopping, and we’re in the chilly open waters between Canada and Washington State, north of Forks as I found when I Googled the location. A map would have been helpful for those of us who have never been to Canada.
Our heroine is quite an individual, from a country south of the US border and up here to try to find her kidnapped sibling. As the abductor was a people trafficker this is not easy. She’s giving kayaking lessons and collecting marine biology samples to earn a living.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, raised a farm animal humanely, protected seals and supported big cats among other good works.

12th August 2018
This week I recommend playing wheelchair rugby. The Gaelic Warriors Wheelchair Rugby Club in Clontarf, established in 1997, has benefited from National Lottery funding to buy and repair some of their specially built sports wheelchairs. The men and women who play regain fitness, enthusiasm and fun. Ireland is sending a national squad, also benefiting from Lottery funding, to the World championship qualifiers in Switzerland. This sounds like tremendous fun.

This week’s horse book is Resisting the Rancher by Kadie Scott ASIN: B07D3GR4WM. Rusty Walker has worked hard to please her ranching father all her twenty-five years. Seems that’s not far enough for a controlling man, even after his death he wants to dictate his daughter’s life. Williams Hill has driven up from Texas to provide rodeo stock for a town in the Colorado Rockies. Another outfit is providing most of the stock but he has brought up some powerful bulls. He notices his sister-in-law’s Quarter Horse, a red bay called Mischief Maker, being ridden by a new trainer for barrel riding, performing superbly. He goes to talk to the rider, Rusty Walker, but she’s not interested in talking to appreciative cowboys. Her dad runs the local rodeo stock ranch, and he doesn’t like her chatting with competitors.
Rusty’s dad confides in her that he only has a few months to live, and she has to marry someone he approves of or lose the ranch. He’s always resented just having a female heir.

This week’s nature book is The Free Trader of Warren Deep ISBN: 9781530179299.
This tale is suitable for YA readers but adults who enjoy SF will be fine with it too. A lad who is a free trader, with his pal the telepathic hill cat, decides to cross the wide desert and see if there are better goods to trade on the far side, maybe ancient technology.
The story is a little slow to start as we get introduced to the situation. As the story progresses, a few more members are added to the little party, and battles occur, and our lad starts using more intelligence on problem solving and easier travel. I like the two horses and all the talking (for which read mutant) creatures. I very much enjoyed the spread of environments.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, gave a woman a biometric smartcard so she can open a bank account and helped campaign for clean oceans, among other good works.

5th August 2018
This week I’m delighted with the news that transport may be made more accessible all across Ireland. Transport Minister Shane Ross TD has nominated five well-qualified individuals to sit on the boards of the major transport firms, the bus and train operators. Each of the five has a disability which means they know all about requiring public transport to be accessible. Seniors and those with disabilities are far more likely to be dependent on public transport for much of their travel.
And once you can travel easily, you can visit the great locations I keep featuring in my blog.

This week’s horse book is Sawdust In His Shoes by Eloise Jarvis McGraw ISBN: 9780874868265.
This classic for young adults has been reissued in paperback and e-book forms. The circus comes to Oregon but when it moves on, a fifteen year old lad is left without a home. Joe Lang had thought he had everything - a family, friends, and a career as a spangles, or bareback horse rider. But the death of his father changes his world.
Sawdust in his shoes refers to Joe’s circus upbringing. How can he adapt to life in an industrial school? Joe’s toughness marks him out, and friendless, he decides to escape. When he does, an Oregon farm family takes him in. He keeps his secrets. But the farm is in need of help. And they have a Morgan mare named Satin. If Joe can just keep up his practicing, he might make it back to circus life after all.

This week’s environment book is Walking With Cattle by Terry Williams ISBN: 9781780274881.
Terry, presumably Teresa, found an excellent exhibit on cattle drovers in the west of Scotland, so she asked permission to tour around collecting memories and adding research. This is her story of walking literally in the footsteps of cattle drovers on the long north-south roads of the Uist islands. Families would rear a calf or two each year, selling them at eighteen months or two years old, the first time these cattle had been off the croft. They were glad of the money and the drovers, with dogs, walked the cattle to marts or fairs.
After a beast was sold it would be painted and clipped with marks of the buyer, usually an agent, then driven in large droves of many hundreds to the boat off the island.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, protected the rainforest of Madagascar, fed a rescued primate and helped to create a bigger whale sanctuary with Oceana.

29th July 2018
This week my roving reporter Marie recommends visiting the Croke Park Stadium in Dublin. This famous sports venue also hosts concerts, conferences and exhibitions. Marie tells me that ramps and lifts are available and restrooms are extra large size for those in wheelchairs. She adds that the grounds have a designated gate for wheelchair access.
According to the website, sports days or concerts have designated wheelchair seating areas. These should be requested when buying tickets. Other patrons who need easy access can also be seated in a suitable spot if they request. The accessible areas have full access to bars, restrooms and snack bars. Some stewards have received full training in assisting anyone who needs extra help. So whether you are attending a job fair or cheering on your county, the day should be enjoyable.

This week’s horse book is Friends of the Wigwam by John William Huelskamp ISBN: 9780692348826.
Due to meticulous research, demonstrated by letters, written accounts and photos, we meet six young people in a town called Freeport on the Pecatonica River, Illinois before the Civil War and follow their lives. Through their histories we see electioneering, a move to secession, the fate of a warhorse and how ordinary settlers lived, loved and fought.
I particularly liked a tomboy character, Allie, who is determined that she won’t be stopped from going to war. We also see the role of the sharpshooter TJ and his new-made Sharps rifle. The politicians and generals who ride through the towns and battlefields are deftly portrayed but the author would probably be happy that his ordinary people, based on genuine persons, are those who best engaged my sympathies. And the fine black horse, Black Hawk, of course.

This week’s nature book is Rua The Red Grouse by Patrick Devaney ISBN: 9780951270912.
The red grouse, a native bird, is almost extinct and one man decides to reintroduce a few tame birds in the hope that the native bird Rua can help them adapt enough to survive. We see that many predators are about, from foxes to hooded crows, and that people are more dangerous because they are able to kill more than one bird or chick at a time. Not only that, but people are working at draining - so killing - the boglands with its array of highly adapted life. I love the illustrations by noted wildlife author / artist Don Conroy, who wrote Sky Wings.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, gave a woman a biometric smartcard so she can open her own bank account, fed a rescued primate and helped protect the rainforest.

22nd July 2018
This week I am crediting RTE News for televising the first performance of the Irish National Anthem, in Irish Sign Language. I had always supposed there must be a version, it was just a matter of translating the words after all; but apparently this was actually a first. This dovetails with the work of a committee to study protocols around the use of the Anthem. Well done for making the National Anthem more accessible.

This week’s horse book is The Icecutter’s Daughter by Tracie Peterson ISBN: 9780764206191.
This enjoyable romance in historical Minnesota shows a trade worth good money at the time, cutting and selling lake ice. Pairs of stout horses haul sledges and carts of blocks of ice, cut nine or ten inches deep, off the lake surface. The blocks are packed in sawdust and sold to cities. We really have to admire the enterprise and hard work of the workers. One of them is a girl called Merrill, who loves the horses. She looks after her father and brothers, cooking up a storm and doing a day’s work on the ice as well. I’m not sure how she fits it all in.
When a carpenter comes to town for work with his uncle, making furniture, tensions arise and Merrill has to change her ways.

This week’s nature book is The Miraculous Fever-Tree by Fiammetta Rocco ISBN: 9780002572033.
This covers the history and uses of the Chinchona tree of the Peruvian Andes, which was observed by a Jesuit to be used by native peoples when they were shivering. He suggested it could be useful in helping people in Europe who had agues and fevers, which caused shivering. The resulting bark medicine became a cure for malaria and a spur to science.
We don’t hear much now about malaria in Europe. Yet much of Italy, even parts of Rome near the Tiber, were plagued by malarial mosquitoes making the place unfit for habitation during the warm months. The Jesuit bark or Peruvian bark from a variety of subspecies worked so well that a giant industry sprang up to exploit it, which overrode the original teaching of the Jesuits that for every tree felled five should be planted. So many tonnes of quinine were shipped worldwide that the trees were becoming scarce. Enter the plant hunters of Kew and the Chelsea Physic Gardens, who made sure to obtain seeds.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, helped to protect the rainforest of Madagascar and worked for the Jane Goodall Institute, among other good works.

15th July 2018
This week we visited Skerries Mills in Fingal County, North Dublin. We previously visited and took the guided tour, but on this occasion we just enjoyed the outdoor café, shops and surrounds. The two restored windmills and watermill make a fascinating trip, with various items of farm machinery and historical photos of Skerries for background.
The café is partly downstairs, out the back of the building with a water bowl for Guide Dogs, but the main meal service and gift / craft shop are upstairs. Never fear, the operators have installed a stair lift. The stable yard is restored as a series of small craft shops and art studios. We also enjoyed the mill pond with herons, ducks and blue dragonflies all enjoying the sunshine. An extra exhibit demonstrates how willows are being grown on a small scale as biofuel.

This week’s horse book is The Reluctant Assassin by Fiona Buckley ISBN: 9781780291031.
When her young son is abducted, Mistress Blanchard has no choice but to agree to carry out an assassination attempt. The times being what they are, she first has to inform Queen Elizabeth Tudor and her spymaster Walsingham. The politics of the day mean that life is uncertain and loyalties even less so, while a death could perhaps be convenient for the queen.
I enjoy how this series pays attention to horses, our heroine owning a stud farm for trotting horses, and the abilities of each individual mount are relevant in planning travels.

This week’s environment book is Eager by Ben Goldfarb ISBN: 9781603587396.
This look at beavers mainly in North America, but also with a chapter on Scotland and Devon, explains the wider picture of how hydrology and geomorpology are affected by the eagerly working beaver. Where dams are, ponds form, and sediment is deposited, floods are contained and ground water is absorbed. Life flourishes.
The book goes into the paradisical, if messy, waterways that faced early trappers and settlers. North America ran fat with beaver, bear and moose; rivers ran silver with fish and were filled with fowl. Rivers were often not navigable due to snags and drowned trees, giant wood and beaver dams. But salmon and trout found their ways happily up and down, showing us how salmon developed the skill of leaping. Today where beavers collide with people, towns or cattle, advocates have to work harder, coming up with beaver baffling pipe guards and culvert clearers. Cattle wreck stream banks and eat trees and forbs that hold soil together, so banks had to be fenced off before beavers could return.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, saved a turtle hatchling and sponsored a child’s education in a developing nation.

8th July 2018
This week I am recommending London River Ferries and River Buses. These boats are entirely wheelchair accessible and provide an excellent way to get around London or just to sightsee. The buses are a dedicated commuter service while the ferries may be more for tourists. You can pay by Oyster card, phone app or separately and there are some discounts. Boarding is by ramps with just a couple of stops which are not step free.
The boats have covers and an open deck, and each can accommodate a few wheelchairs, more if they can fold up. To take a mobility scooter aboard, passengers should be with the Thames Clippers Mobility Scooter Recognition Scheme. The ferries have a small café aboard and accessible toilets. Guide Dogs are welcome, and other dogs provided they are kept on a lead.

This week’s horse book is The Devil’s Highway by Hannah March ISBN: 9780451210715.
This is a Georgian mystery which makes excellent use of horses for various forms of transport around the gentle countryside. A highwayman is robbing coaches and carts, and now he turns to murder. But a tutor to young gentlemen looks into the matter as an agent for his current employer, the magistrate. He finds that some of the passengers were not who they claimed or have gone missing from the coach.
Oddly for a man named Fairfax (faxi meaning horse in Norse) our protagonist is not a confident rider, but he gets better during the book by spending a lot of time on a gentle mare. Contrastingly, he sees a Methodist preacher’s sermon broken up by violence and learns that not all marriages are happy ones.
The Devil’s Highway

This week’s environment book is Dust of Kansas by Ginger Booth ASIN: B01ATWC0RE.
This is a dystopian short story following a group of friends, some in the US Army, some just out, as migrant camps from drought-stricken Kansas clog up their home towns and spill over rivers to neighbouring states. Bartering with Army food for furniture brings home how dear food is, and how little possessions will be of value to people on the move. We also see ‘race riots’ which turn out to be food riots by poor people, being put down heavily.
Something called the Calm Act has been enacted and while many of the terms are secret, it looks like the government, major media corporations and Army are aware that climate change is bringing an end to democracy and civil liberties.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, fed a rescued seal, raised a farm animal humanely and helped Amnesty International support the rights of women.