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Jan 2019 to Jun 2019

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30th June 2019
This week I recommend a visit to Northside Shopping Centre, Dublin. After a makeover this revitalised centre boasts a fine lift to the upper shops. Last week I saw a lady in a motorised wheelchair getting her hair done in the upstairs hairdressing salon. This is a spacious establishment with movable chairs around the edges and lots of room for the customer to turn and park the wheelchair. The downstairs shops have varying amounts of clear floor space but are all accessible to enter.
Another very nice touch is that a shop space has been given over to a community library. Outdoors, the accessible parking spaces are clearly marked and the entry door can open automatically.
Northside Shopping Centre

This week's horse book is Horse Country by Christine Meunier ISBN: 9780987533203.
This is an account over several years of Australian Thoroughbred horse breeding, fictionalised. The story follows two young women, Lisa and nickname Wes, and others who are learning the business of horse breeding and getting various initials to their names. I won't go into the qualifications and licences. I have to think that they are following in the tracks of the author, who must have worked hard. To sum up, this book won't be for everyone but will surely develop a particular following. I recommend it for adults or mature teens who are extremely interested in horse breeding.

This week's nature book is Summer Green to Autumn Gold by Mia Posada ISBN: 9781541528994.
This is a very pretty, colourful book for young readers, about trees and leaves. I would have liked more text content and a mention that some leaves are copper or variegated all year long. We are shown a variety of green leaves, with some named, and how they are green through summer due to chlorophyll but change in autumn to reveal reds, yellows and other pigments.

During the past two weeks I offset fourteen pounds of carbon, planted two fruit trees in African villages, raised a farm animal humanely, and gave a woman a biometric smartcard to open her own bank account.

16th June 2019
This week I commend the garden festival Bloom, held annually in Dublin's Phoenix Park. Once more they featured a dementia-friendly garden which reminds older people of bygone days, and allows them to potter, pick fresh fruit and vegetables, and enjoy nature. More than 55,000 people in Ireland now exhibit one of the dementia conditions and as people live longer, the minority of seniors whose brain develops these conditions needs to be catered for appropriately.
Other health-related gardens were presented, including a wheelchair friendly garden, a diversity garden and a space to encourage conversations so that people living with mental illness can open up and find help from friends and family. Bloom always provides help and easy access for visitors, and they have water bottle refill places to cut down on the amount of plastic being used.

This week's horse book is Blitz by Hetty Burlingame Beatty ISBN: 9781111435615.
This book is like Smoky in being an American version of Black Beauty, in this case set in a town where a fire engine is pulled by horses. Blitz is a handsome red bay who does his best to rush to the fires with his partner horse and a kind owner.
We learn a lot about historical issues such as how fire fighting was organised with a chemical wagon, water pump wagon and a ladder and hook wagon, in that order, being sent. Sadly after an accident Blitz is sold and his life goes badly downhill.

This week's nature book is Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori ISBN: 9781786271617. I love this book of a jaunt around the world, looking at trees on the way. The author, who grew up wandering Kew Gardens, looks at British Isles trees first, with the rowan for Scotland and Arbutus for Ireland.
Off to Finland to meet the birch, wandering through cork oak forests and larches across the continent, before encountering the exotic and valuable timbers, spices, barks and resins of the fabled Orient, bloated looking baobabs of Africa, toxic trees of nutrient-poor countries, lightweight timber, timber too heavy to float, trees with knees, trees with giant seeds, trees with animals spreading their seeds, trees that stop disastrous illness, trees used for main masts. And at the end you will still be saying, "But what about...." because only 80 trees are included.

During the last two weeks 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, helped save a green turtle hatchling and more good deeds at

2nd June 2019
This week I suggest a visit to Perkys or Perk-u-licious, a coffee shop in Raheny recommended by Allan. Over a very nice, filling light lunch we noticed a sloping access to the side door because of a small step at the front; chairs that can be moved and room for a wheelchair or two in the indoor and outdoor dining spots. This building is a converted small house, so the owners have maintained the atmosphere of distinct rooms while allowing freedom to wander. Service was friendly and as everything was made to order, those with specific food requirements could ask for what they preferred.
Tripadvisor Restaurant Review, PerkULicious Coffee House Raheny Dublin

This week's horse book is Riding Out the Devil by Hilary Walker ASIN: B01IJ0XZ04.
Jack is a British rider who set up a stable training difficult horses in America. As we start, his father rings with bad news; his mum has died. Jack mentally reassigns his next few days of riding training before agreeing to attend the funeral. Among other people, Jack agrees to assist a teenage lad whose horse got badly frightened at a show.
On the flight we learn that Jack has an autoimmune digestive condition, so he has to get a doctor's cert to bring his own food on board the plane. This potentially embarrassing, isolating illness has been made manageable by following a strict diet and leaving out many American foods. This is an inspirational novel.

This week's environment book is Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe ISBN: 8781911344780.
The author has drawn from original writing, photos and sketches, as well as archaeology and experimental archaeology, to show us what Australia looked like before white settlers arrived. He tells us that the Aboriginals had substantial agriculture (not ploughed) and had domesticated strains of wheat, yam and yam daisy, as well as rice in swampy areas. They had major constructions of weirs and fish traps, and some permanent chutes to capture and sort kangaroos; they fed off lily bulbs, nuts, bogong moths and other foods in season, and preserved large stocks of foods, many of which were availed of by hungry white explorers.
The imported livestock, particularly sheep, ate the tasty native plants to the root, killing them, and compacted the soil with hard hoofs. After this the continent became desertified.

This fortnight I offset fourteen pounds of carbon, supported work on behalf of women by Amnesty International, fed rescued seals, stood up for clean oceans and helped to educate children in developing countries.

19th May 2019
This week Allan recommends a visit to Insomnia in Raheny/ Howth Road. This coffee shop has wide doors and lots of room to manoeuvre a wheelchair, tables with movable chairs and a good selection of beverages, sandwiches and treats. I'm very pleased that Insomnia chain has been Fairtrade certified since 2006.
The shop is on main bus routes and is well located if you need a break after shopping or college and before catching a bus.
In a nice book connection, Insomnia started out as one coffee shop in a Galway bookstore and is now a successful franchise model with over 150 stores. Just the place to read.

This week's horse book is Fae Horse by Anthea Sharp ASIN: B00OSLL49S.
This is a dramatic and well-told very short fantasy, which examines the nature of love and sacrifice. A young woman healer is picked upon by the new fanatical vicar, as a herb-witch, and her only way to escape seems to be by riding a strange black horse that appears near the standing stones. But the fae don't take much account of mortal lives.
I love the cover, and the evocative story-telling.

This week's nature book is The Adventures of Kumuka James ASIN: B07NGHFL5Q.
I love this delightful book about a camping safari in the Masai Mara park. Tour leader Kumuka James and his trusty vehicle take a girl and boy out to see the wildlife, and bring them to the village where Kumuka grew up, to meet his extended family.
All does not go smoothly in this good-hearted adventure but luckily Kumuka's long experience of the African bush comes to the rescue.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, supported wolves, fed seals, sponsored children's education, protected rainforest and saved big cat habitat. All at

12th May 2019
This week I found a new initiative by Dublin City Council to provide a fully-equipped restroom for people with disabilities and carers, in St Anne's Park, Raheny and Fairview Park, Fairview. This restroom includes a hoist, a changing bench for an adult to lie on, space for a wheelchair user and two carers, privacy screen and other suitable facilities. As rehab centres and hospitals would like patients to get out and explore the parks, this seems like a very welcoming message from the general community. Families with particular needs can also make use of the restrooms. Being out in nature, especially among trees, has been shown to provide physiological and psychological benefits. And just knowing that a restroom is nearby removes a source of potential stress.
This initiative is part of the Changing Places campaign from the Irish Wheelchair Association, Disability Federation of Ireland and Inclusion Ireland.

This week's horse book is Foal Frolics by Lucy Daniels ISBN: 9780340735930.
This is a sweet and fun read about two girls on holiday at a caravan site. The only drawback for the pony fan will be that a pony doesn't appear for quite a few chapters. Once the filly foal enters, the pace picks up and we get some basic knowledge about foals, like how they are weaned and the kind of care they need. I was surprised that a foal should be shown as stealing golf balls, but I suppose as she has no other foal to play with, she might get up to mischief.
Foal Frolics

This week's environment book is Far From Falling by K.D. Garcia ASIN: B074Q6YKBB.
I enjoyed this romance which looks at the upsides and downsides of managing a camp location near Lake Michigan. We get a sort-of romance growing from deep friendship, a gentleman with hearing impairment and a helpful dog, a dedicated young woman, and ice-hockey. All against the beautiful open grounds, swaying pines, and skies full of hawks.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, protected endangered wolves, supported Amnesty International's defence of women, helped to educate a child, contributed to breast cancer research and fed a rescued seal.
All at

5th May 2019
This week I checked out the Convention Centre Dublin, as part of my role as volunteer with the SF Worldcon which will be held there in August. The Centre is easily reached by Luas. I found helpful staff and while the space inside is massive on all levels, there are restrooms on each floor including accessible ones, lifts and escalators, Braille on most notices. The main auditorium has space for wheelchair seating (I asked) and a hearing loop, and Guide Dogs are permitted (but no other dogs). Generally, a wheelchair user could (and did) get around as there are sloping floors instead of steps, and we saw the green room and backstage rooms, which turned out to be the location for an AED. The kitchen contained a first aid box.
Overall, the location is impressive, and we're looking forward to the Con which is only 100 days away. The team is on top of providing mobility scooters for travellers and meeting any other requirements.

This week's horse book is The Horse in my Heart by Jane Ayres ISBN: 9781505773880.
A serious theme underlies this tale of horses and friendship. Two girls bond over their respect and love for a lively horse. The horse's young owner wants to make sure he gets on with their new friend and she can manage him, in case, well....
The talented and kind horse is a great character. I was surprised that his shoes never needed changing (though I suppose it might have been done during the school day).

This week's nature book is Trees of Power by Akiva Silver ISBN: 9781603588416.
This excellent book from a tree propagator should be read by anyone concerned about climate change, feeding the people of today and the future, biodiversity loss, atmospheric carbon.
Maybe you have seen the YouTube video of a TED talk about restoring desertifying land using mobs of cattle, bunched and moved regularly. What the cattle do is eat up dead grasses and put organic compost, including seeds, on the ground. In just the same way, this book explains how plants naturally put carbon, humus and moisture in the ground for microscopic life to break down.
I like the section on how old forests are full of pits where a tree uprooted and mounds where a tree trunk lay and rotted. Amphibians will live in the pits, but a good point is that fish can't because they dry up, so the life that fish would eat can thrive.
The author presents his 'allies' the major types of tree which can feed us and replace ground crops to a great extent. Sweet chestnuts (we are more familiar with horse chestnuts here) produce vast quantities of rich nuts and the author suggests hybridising Asian varieties with the American varieties to impart resistance to Asian fungal strains.

This fortnight I offset fourteen pounds of carbon, planted two fruit trees, protected the rainforest of Madagascar and raised a farm animal humanely. All at

21st April 2019
This week I commend the efforts of students from Manor House School who worked with Irish Rail to brighten the lives of travellers through Kilbarrack Train Station. Many of us read the news on phones or tablets as we travel, and there seldom seems to be a shortage of sad or worrying news. Accordingly the students have created a beautiful mural to represent the positive side of Dublin Bay and cheer the day of anyone visiting the station or passing through on the Dart or train.
Those who have become depressed know that this is potentially disabling and has an effect on all the family. The number for Samaritans, who are always ready to listen, is painted on the mural, 116123, and maybe just reminding ourselves that the sky and sea are still blue and grass still green over our coastline is enough to start some positive thinking.
Manor House School

Dublin People East, April 10th

This week's horse book is Keeper of Exotic Animals by Suneéle Roux.
I like this short book about a keeper of fabulous beasts; but it does seem a shame that they are confined in a castle enclosure, and I wished we had seen more of the unicorn. I also notice that the beasts are passive as far as we see, and don't help the outcome. Apart from a shapechanger who accompanies the dedicated female keeper. Her quest is to recover the missing unicorn as the world outside is dangerous for the mythical beasts.

This week's nature book is Foraging with Kids by Adele Nozedar ISBN: 9781786781635.
I am sure the book will be very useful and a great source of interest and discussion, especially among Scouts and Guides. Whether making blackberry jam or picking samphire or ramson, scent is a major part of how we interact with plants which are edible. The ideas for cookery sound as if they would taste delicious too, though you may have to persuade kids to eat cleavers leaf omelette.
Personally I do not recommend eating wild fungi or handling them; the author names a few of the more identifiable edible ones and does give a warning, including not to pick any growing from the toxic yew tree trunks.

This fortnight I offset fourteen pounds of carbon, planted two fruit trees in an African village, gave a woman a biometric smartcard so she can open a bank account, and protected endangered wolves. All at

7th April 2019
This week I paid a visit to the Dáil bar, courtesy of the Dublin Business School lecturer in Public Affairs and TD Brid Smith of Solidarity/ People Before Profit.
The first question I asked was whether Guide Dogs were allowed in the Dáil bar. Brid assured me they were and she had seen them present on occasion. This year the whole Dáil and Senate building complex is being renovated and as these are venerable buildings, a few issues came to light while the work was in progress. For this reason the usual tours are curtailed, steps are used instead of more accessible routes and meetings are held in some temporary rooms. But the bar, I am glad to say, is available and while not so big as we might imagine, it serves a nice cup of coffee.
We chatted about various issues and Brid told us that on her wish list is a ground floor constituency office. In her area all ground floor premises are taken up with shops but an upstairs office is a disadvantage for seniors or those with small children, or with disabilities. The lifts don't always work and that restricts access for the very people who most need her to help them sort out issues with housing or entitlements.

This week's horse book is Swimming With Horses by Oakland Ross ISBN: 1459743547.
This fiction tale is chilling, evocative and passionate. Also, full of horses. The time and place jump chapter by chapter between South Africa of 1962 and a year later in Ontario farmland.
Sam Mitchell was fifteen when he failed to make the riding team for cross country eventing. Hilary Anson, a glamorous and promiscuous eighteen-year-old, meets him at a stuffy party for the wealthy folks of Kelso County. She's arrived from an English boarding school to work with horses, but her home is Apartheid-era South Africa. Hilary decides to help train Sam to ride better, including showjumping without a saddle and bridle on his willing mare Della and plunging on horseback off a rock ledge into a quarry pond. (Note to readers: this is very dangerous!)

This week's nature book is Friend for Life by Kate Humble ISBN: 9781472224996.
This is a lovely read, by a journalist who seems to have a fantastic job - travel around the world reporting on dogs. She goes to Asia to spend a month with herders in a remote high valley, for instance. But the running thread is Kate's lovely brown and white Welsh sheepdog, and whether the pair can get it together as sheep herders.
Living in Wales, Kate and her husband have a couple of dogs and she writes about them as well as delving into the mists of time for clues as to how our partnership began. The advantage of having a wolf pack camped next door, wolves helping early humans to hunt so they could scavenge, bringing home a pup to guard the cave. Domesticating foxes and wolves through careful breeding.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, saved a turtle hatchling and raised a farm animal humanely.

31st March 2019
This week I am pleased to see the opening of a new fishing platform for anglers with disabilities or who are not confident on uneven ground.
Co Mayo is just one of the many locations in Ireland for accessible fishing. The Inland Fisheries Ireland has partly funded this project, consisting of a car park, changing room and 76 metre long level track with a brink before the water to stop wheelchairs rolling too far. RTE covered the opening this week, and you can view the path along the beautiful river in use by dedicated anglers. The only drawback I can see is that the shade is all on the other bank, so that is where the fish will lie during a hot day; but this will be matched by skilful casting.

This week's horse book is Lillith by Carol Buhler ASIN: B01M311A5L.
I had a good time reading this fantasy and I enjoyed that the main narrator is a winged mare - who is also telepathic. In the beginning she is eighty years old, happily mated and grazing, when she is called upon to be bonded to a new royal baby who is of a race like humans.
The tale jumps forward a few times through years of the prince growing up until suddenly he's a grown, moody young man, unwilling to get married, and certainly not to his cousin. Our heroine meanwhile has been so busy that it hasn't occurred to her that the races are facing an existential problem.

This week's nature book is The Ugly Fight: Unleashing Artificial Intelligence Against Global Warming by R.S. Amblee ISBN: 9780983157434.
We may be running out of time to reduce or prevent catastrophic climate change. This short book looks at how we may use AI to help us make decisions, project outcomes, recommend paths.
The first part looks at what AI is, how Big Data uses data from the IOT and RFIDs as well as everyone's shopping habits. AI can also use posts and photos on social media and every book or research study scanned.
The second part looks at how the globe is warming in self-feeding cycles; bare or flooded ground can't absorb carbon for us. Should have been a mention of polar and glacier ice, and dirty snow.
Green Horizon from IBM analyses environmental data and projects scenarios.
Microsoft is putting $50 million into climate research.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, bottle fed a kitten and fed a rescued seal.

24th March 2019
This week I am pleased that Cork Airport has taken a lead from the scheme I previously mentioned in Bristol Airport. A traveller through the airport who has a disability or may become confused, can ask for a sunflower lanyard to wear. This notifies staff that the person might not look disabled but could still be in need of assistance. For instance someone with a breathing problem or who is unable to hear, or has autism or dementia.
Good work as we know how much effort it can be to travel with or without a companion. The sunflower lanyard is recognised easily by staff at many major airports.

This week's horse book is Buried Mountain Secrets by Terri Reed ISBN: 9781335231970.
Maya Gallo ventures into the Rockies after her teenage brother Brady doesn't return from following a treasure trail set by his special education teacher. She has his GPS signal to follow, but that only leads to his abandoned backpack. With no indication of where to go, Maya is baffled, and then a hooded figure attacks her and scares her off into the brush.
Mounted patrolman Alex Trevino has already noticed that the little family aren't in their store. Knowing the treasure hunt craze is getting some folks injured, he decides to go after them. The Eagle Crest trailhead is his starting point. His chestnut Tennessee Walking Horse called Truman means he can go faster and carry more than a hiker. What he finds makes him certain that all is not well in the woods.

This week's environment book is Sustainable Home by Christine Liu ISBN: 9780711239692.
Keeping your home clean, sustainable and economical is the main theme. The author works in sustainable packaging and has some good ideas. The book will mainly be of use to someone who hasn't read much about greening or decluttering the home.
Beginners can learn something, even from the no-clutter page presentation and minimalist photos.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, gave a woman a biometric smartcard to open a bank account, helped save a green turtle hatchling, planted a fruit tree in an African village and more.

17th March 2019
Greetings for St Patrick's Day! If you are in Dublin you might enjoy a visit to City Hall which has a museum. The building is where Parliament Street and Dame Street meet, and the visitor will immediately see a high flight of steps to the main door. Don't worry, go around the side nearest Dublin Castle entrance and you will find a handy door at street level.
The café is the first place you encounter, not very large and through it you come to the exhibition about the history of Dublin. From early settlers through the Vikings and the Georgians, on to the East Rising, lots of displays and artefacts are here. Among them are a ceremonial sword and mace as emblems of the control of Dublin. You can also sit and watch short films about places and people; a modern look at the people given the Freedom of Dublin includes Nelson Mandela, John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton, George Bernard Shaw and actress Maureen Potter.
From the museum floor you can take a very handsome glass-walled lift, which has Braille on the lift button panel, up through the ceiling to the rotunda room with statues, emblems, beautiful work of stuccodores and marble inlay on the floor. The visitor should find everything easily accessible.

This week's horse book is Pony on the Twelfth Floor by Polly Faber ISBN: 9781406378450.
This is a good fun story, as our London heroine is unexpectedly in possession of a pony and has to hide it from the adults around her in case they'll say she shouldn't have it. The pony is quickly named Flapjack because that's what he had been eating in the supermarket when he was discovered. And how exactly do you keep a pony a secret in the twelfth floor flat?
I like a lot about this tale, from the Polish family who help, to the cheerful line drawings and the unrealistic expectations of the new pony owner. A nice touch is that she can look up how to bridle a pony on YouTube.

This week's environment book is Operation Tropical Affair by Kimberli A. Bindschatel ISBN: 9780996189026.
The tale consists of three stories. There's the story of an ongoing undercover effort to follow the chain of smugglers of endangered wild animals from lush, tropical Costa Rica. There's the story of a small group of activists meeting informally on a beach to take direct action. And there's the story of Poppy McVie herself who walks in and proceeds to lie to everyone in sight, including her new assigned work partner, ignore orders, endanger lives and do her own thing with disregard for anyone else.
Poppy's heart is definitely in the right place, but she's so stricken by the plight of a handful of monkeys, among other creatures, that she throws away the months of work to try to find the kingpin and shut down the massive sales for good.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, protected the rainforest of Madagascar and supported Amnesty's work to stop violence against women.

10th March 2019
This week I can recommend a trip to the Museum of London which we visited last week. From pre-Roman tribal settlements through the Great Fire to Georgian homes and the Blitz, this city has had a turbulent past. Find it all here with illustrations, objects to touch, models and displays. The rooms have plenty of space for wheelchairs and occasional low ramps, while displays are often low down or full length display cabinets. I found the venue fascinating and there is quite enough for half a day.
A café and shop are on the ground floor, with lifts to get you around the other floors. Wheelchairs, a number of powered wheelchairs and hearing loops may be borrowed. Restrooms are disability friendly. Seats are provided and visitors can also borrow small folding seats. Visuals have signing and subtitles, magnifying glasses may be borrowed. Ear defenders can be borrowed to help those on the autism spectrum. And a host can accompany visitors for up to two hours if they are in need of an extra pair of hands.
This free museum is located in the City, near the Barbican and part of the old City Wall.
The best way to get there may be the Tube but some of these old stations have many steps. Full marks to the museum for providing a journey planner on its website, with a small amount of parking spaces for disability badge holders and a guide to step-free Tube stations nearby.

This week's horse book is The Racehorse Who Wouldn't Gallop by Clare Balding ISBN: 9780141362908.
A young lady who worries about the English family farm being taken by the bank, manages to acquire a Thoroughbred colt at auction (cheap as he doesn't like to race) and decides to train him up for racing. Well, naturally she can't set her sights any lower than the top. The costs escalate and the horse refuses to run anywhere without his best pal the elderly pony.
While horse lovers will have a good chuckle, the lesson can really be that the family has to pull together; even the grumpy brother gets involved in researching how best to train a racehorse.

This week's environment book is Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson ISBN: 9780062060877.
This exploration of explorations of an exploring people is full of fascinations, friendships and frightening distances. Also birds - as guides, as food, as giants made extinct.
To explore a people who didn't have a written history, and lost much oral history when diseases struck, is to give an account of how other nations came across them, reacted to them, befriended them and learned about them. From Spaniards and Dutch, to Captain Cook's many voyages, to Thor Heyerdahl, spans centuries of puzzlement. For how did the Polynesians get where they were, where did they come from, and were they all related?

During the last four weeks I offset 28 pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, gave a woman a biometric smartcard to open her own bank account, helped protect wolves, supported breast cancer research and more.

10th February 2019
This week I recommend a visit to events at Workday, a modern office building on May's Lane Dublin 7. I have attended a few Virtual Reality Meetups there and the facilities are excellent. The Luas, a highly accessible transport, runs close to the building. A large lift from the spacious foyer takes us up to the sixth floor; the first thing visible when the lift door opens is a first-aid box. Then, the open-plan area has tables and freestanding chairs, a wide variety of healthy foods and a choice of drinks, accessible restrooms and lots of room to move. The coffee, I noticed, is in cups which say 'Compost me.' Well chosen.
The company (a branch of a global firm) says they provide enterprise cloud solutions to customers in Ireland and internationally, and they have also been part of a women in tech event.

This week's horse book is Billy Ringrose: A memoir of my father by Fergal Ringrose ISBN: 9781786050472.
This is a lovely memoir, a series of interviews with one of Ireland's great showjumping heroes. A city lad, the young Billy Ringrose, born 1930, was sent down the country for summer like many Dubliners. But on the farms the horses were working horses. He didn't get to ride, apart from taking a horse to be shod which knew the way, until he joined the Army.
Many excellent photos are included, of family and of competition. Grand Prix wins, trophies presented by royalty, the American circuit, the Aga Khan teams in the RDS.
As well as being a jumping star, on horses such as the brave Loch an Easpaig, the officer was CO of the Equitation School in time, then after retirement sat on the RDS Equestrian Committee and was Main Arena director, and was President of the RDS.

This week's nature book is We Build Our Homes by Laura Knowles ISBN: 9781910277829. This is a delightful book which vividly portrays the lives of various creatures that make nests, dens or other homes. Birds start us off with weaverbirds, bowerbirds, swifts, then on to less attractive creatures like ants, termites, spiders, before meeting mammals and reptiles. I enjoyed every double-page spread drawing, which carries a few lines of writing and excellent detail. The writer has really thought about how to shrink information and still convey it well, while added details include the place where the animal lives, or its food, or its predators.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, fed a rescued seal, bottle fed a kitten and protected wolves, among other good deeds.

3rd February 2019
This week I am delighted to be able to recommend a trip to Machu Picchu. This spectacular ancient city in the Peruvian Andes was built with many steps and terraces, but is high on the list for tourists. How to make it accessible without altering the UNESCO World Heritage Site?
A firm called Wheel the World which specialises in accessible tours, has developed a purpose-made wheelchair and stores them near the site so visitors don't need to bring their own. The videos show that the chair is cross between a wheelchair, wheelbarrow and a litter, meaning it has a wheel in the centre to take the weight and long handles for steering and motor power which are used by one or two persons front and back. So the chair cannot be used independently, but given the steepness of the site, I expect help would be needed even if ramps were installed.
Well done to all concerned and I hope we'll make the trip someday.

This week's horse book is The Enchanted Horse by Magdalen Nabb ISBN: 9780006747215.
When a lonely girl sees a wooden toy horse in a junk shop, she decides to buy it, even after hearing the sad tale of the last owner. As she cares for the horse, cleans it up and talks to it, she starts to think the horse Bella is becoming alive.
As well as learning a little about horse care we see that Christmas can be a lonely time and people living on farms are quite isolated.
The Enchanted Horse

This week's nature book is Nature All Around: Trees by Pamela Hickman
ISBN: 9781771388047.
I am all in favour of giving books on trees to young people. When today's kids can recognise hundreds of brand names by whatever age but not recognise tree species, something is wrong. They may not even know how it is you can tell trees apart, even during winter.
This little book is focused on North America, but if you live in USA or Canada you'll be delighted.
The lively bright pictures don't patronise young readers but do sometimes seem over-simplified and the bees, say, are too cartoony. The trees are nicely illustrated, with clear looks at leaves, shapes, how photosynthesis works and how roots are anchors.
Nature All Around

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, protected the rainforest of Madagascar, helped the Jane Goodall Institute and the Breast Cancer Fund among other good deeds at

27th Jan 2019
This week I recommend a wedding dress shop which has taken the trouble to make brides using wheelchairs particularly welcome. This gorgeous display at Portishead, Bristol, was shared on Twitter here by disabled artist Beth Wilson. For some people their mobility aids are what give them freedom to go out and meet a partner, so the wedding day should celebrate this factor.

This week's horse book is Pammy's Story by Wendy Nickel ASIN: B07MSB2J41.
I enjoyed the gentle, contemplative style of this short story. Pammy gets up to find two of her horses loose in front of the house. She rehomes horses in need of rescue, so these haven't gone too far from their feed and shelter. But how did they escape?
As it happens that date brings some major events back to Pam's mind and so we get to know her through her thoughts as she goes through the day.

This week's nature book is 101 Chicken Keeping Hacks by Lisa Steele ISBN: 9780760360637.
This is a cheap and cheerful viewpoint on chicken keeping. The author tells us at the outset that we are welcome to spend thousands on coops and equipment, if we'd prefer, but she finds that repurposing, mending and using old reliables like enamel pans does the job.
Depending on how much free ranging your birds do, you may want to give them the seed and seaweed mix with added insects recommended. I don't consider everything in the book a hack - a feed recipe isn't a workaround in itself.

During the past fortnight I offset fourteen pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, gave a woman a biometric smartcard so she could open her own bank account, supported the Jane Goodall Institute, Oceana, Carbon Fund, Amnesty International and more at

13th January 2019
This week I'm highlighting the Tullyallen Tractor Run and a brave farmer's invention to get himself back at the wheel of a tractor. Martin Murphy from Tullyallen, Co Louth, was in a car accident in his early thirties and has needed a wheelchair ever since. While accepting that he won't walk again was very hard, he was determined not to be left out of farm work and general society. Martin saw a hoist on television and asked an engineering firm to make one that could lift him from his wheelchair to the seat of the tractor. The cab is a long way off the ground in modern farm equipment. AMPM Engineering in Drogheda built Martin his own personal hoist.
The Tullyallen Tractor Run was held early this January in aid of the Northeast Cancer Research and Education Trust, with Martin at the controls of his tractor. Well done everyone. - Farmer paralysed in car accident designs own hoist to get back behind wheel of tractor

This week's horse book is Race the Wind by Lauren St. John ISBN: 9781444007978.
This is another retelling of International Velvet with the young London heroine of 'One Dollar Horse' going off to Kentucky Horse Trials. She still appears to be thirteen in terms of maturity. Weirdly she never interacts with any other eventing competitors. As in the previous tale our impecunious Council flat heroine (now 17 and it seems money appears from nowhere and she never has to study for anything) lives in her own bubble and nobody else matters to her. Except her dad, who is accused of a crime in this book.

This week's nature book is Vet on a Mission by Gillian Hick ISBN: 9781788490269.
Dogs, cats, red kites, chinchillas, owls, donkeys and more. A busy vet with an artisan pork butcher husband and three young children thinks she could cope better with just a small animal practice from her own home. Until she has time and funds to adapt barns for a dedicated building. This account shows us how busy, how demanding and how frantic at inopportune moments her career became.

This week I offset seven pounds of carbon, planted a fruit tree in an African village, raised a farm animal humanely, joined the fight against breast cancer and helped defend wild wolves. All at

6th January 2019.
This week my roving reporters Amanda and Ellen have recommended the Memory Café held in the town of Chard, Somerset. They say this is held by the Alzheimer's Society every second week in a room owned by the Chard English Martyrs Church Hall, and visitors with dementia are particularly welcomed, with their carers. The content varies but always relates to what the previous generations might have enjoyed when they were younger, such as singalongs, clips of old TV series, and films, with activities which someone in a wheelchair can participate in too. Older people feel part of a much-loved group and those with dementia appear to enjoy the afternoon thoroughly. This group has been running for nine years.
This sounds like a brilliant and easy idea, so I hope other areas will pick up the idea and run with it for their community. While reading up on this group I found some other listings for Memory Cafés so the concept is clearly spreading.

This week's horse book is Bob Langrish's World of Horses by Bob Langrish and Jane Holderness-Roddam ISBN: 9781635861259.
The first author has travelled around the world and photographed horses. The second author contributed the text; she is a former three-day eventer. I found only a brief paragraph under each photo and a map which was sometimes confusing. The map showed a dot for South Africa, where the photo of Friesian horses was taken; but although the text says the breed originated in the Netherlands, I thought it would be good to have a different map marking on the country of origin.

This week's nature book is I-Spy Nature by I-Spy ISBN: 9780008182724.
This book promisingly starts with clouds but spends more time on types of rock and less on birds than you'd expect. The writing is tiny. Kids are to spot the items and when they have enough points can send off via website for a badge (over 13s or get a parent to do it).
While growing up we had many of these little books, from birds, the seashore or trees to horses. They were great fun and informative.

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 worked with Amnesty International to protect women's rights.