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Jan 2020 to Jun 2020

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As I review a lot of books, I have been asked to create a list of some recommended books in the categories of horses and the environment. I also regularly take note of visitor attractions featuring excellent, accessible facilities for people with disabilities. I hope to help anyone looking for a great day out in an interesting place with up to date facilities. Send your recommendations to me at

I shall recommend one book each week on each topic. These reviews are extracts and my full reviews will be found on Goodreads, Amazon or Fresh Fiction.

5th April 2020
This week I recommend staying at home, to defeat the Coronavirus. But when museums open their doors again one of the fascinating destinations in Dublin is the National Museum of Archaeology. This imposing museum contains treasures from archaeology, from Stone Age to the Vikings. Look for displays of Bronze Age weaponry, Celtic gold and bronze, the famous bog bodies, Christian artefacts and more.
The café here is popular and carries many home-baked goods, savoury and sweet, with recommendations for those people with dietary requirements. Best of all, the café is open on Mondays when the Museum is shut.
Public transport can get you to Kildare Street or disabled parking is available locally with display of a wheelchair badge. The accessible restrooms are on the ground floor - currently there is no lift to access the first floor. I'm delighted that guests can borrow wheelchairs to get around, and there are tactile exhibits which are ideal for visually impaired people. The staff will be happy to guide visitors to these items.

This week's horse book is The Team by K.M. Peyton ISBN: 9780690010831.
A tale packed with real people, real horses, real occurrences. I almost know these folks, almost rode those horses, almost had this happen to me. I didn't ride Pony Club, which is under 16, but I competed in Riding Club at 16 and found many similarities.
An eventing team is being formed for a one-day event, and a new purchase, a rogue, a stalwart pony and young riders are under consideration. This book from the last century is now reissued in paperback.

This week's nature book is Facts About the Skunk by Lisa Strattin ASIN: B07Y3D1G2B.
The content is some lovely photos of skunks, with information on each facing page. I thought the info was a little sparse, only a couple of lines on some pages, but we do learn what they eat, how they live and what their predators might be. I've never read a skunk book before, and this is intended for kids of primary school age.

22nd March 2020
College assignments and travel have kept me busy, but we did get to visit a few locations before the current coronavirus lockdown. When everyone is able to travel again, I recommend a trip to the lovely Healeys' Cider Farm in Cornwall. This location has a variety of tours of the orchard, cider making and bottling plants, or you can just potter around the farmyard for free and enjoy a tasting session of ciders and apple juices as well as jams and chutneys. There are ramps to some buildings and others have a side entrance with no step, so everyone can come in and enjoy a glass of cider or local cream tea, after seeing the Cornish black pigs, Shire horses, assorted fowl and miniature goats.

This week's horse book is Thunderfoot by Deborah van der Beek ISBN: 9780590558143.
This is a great short novel for kids, especially girls, who love horses. A schoolgirl in England finds a friend in a lonely, abandoned carthorse. She names him Thunderfoot and keeps going to see him even though she's supposed to be looking for a pocket money job, with her dad being laid off from his job as a milkman.

This week's environment book is Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of a Common Fate by Mark Kurlansky ISBN: 9781938340864.
This excellently written book looks at the life cycle, evolution and legends of the salmon, and at the fisherfolks who depend upon it. Moving on to Europe and how salmon has been almost fished out of existence except in Britain where laws came in to protect it, but rivers were often polluted by industry.
America has both Atlantic salmon (in small numbers) and Pacific salmon, of which we hear much. Japan even has some salmon and there are land-locked lake salmon in odd places. These suggest that the anadromous fish (living both in fresh and salt water at different times) started out as a freshwater fish.
Mixed in are many cheerful and tasty sounding recipes for salmon through the ages.

19th January 2020
This weekend I visited the first event in Dublin to mark Chinese New Year, a festival of culture to celebrate the city of Chengdu. If you have eaten spicy Sichuan cooking, Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province. I visited the event with the Journalism Society from college, and we saw photography, art and theatre. The venue was the Epic museum of Irish emigration on the quays. I will return to check out the museum itself, but for now I can vouch for the hall being accessible. The quays are within easy reach of rail and bus, with nearby cafés and outdoor seating. Inside we found everything was displayed at ground level with plenty of room to move and enjoy the happenings.
We saw dancing including face changing, the long silk dance, the martial art of tea serving, a contortionist, magic tricks and puppetry. Intricate lollipops were being made of molten sugar, shaped on a marble surface and hardened. A fashion photographer had created a shoot in the oldest tea rooms of Chengdu, with models wearing red, a lucky colour for Chinese. All ages were having a good time. As the Chinese culture respects the elderly, I am sure everyone present would go out of their way to aid anyone with mobility or other problems.

This week's horse book is Dreams by Linda Chapman ISBN 9780141328331.
Set in mild Derbyshire, this book brings a common teen girl fantasy to life - the heroine can telepathically speak with her horse. That doesn't mean she always understands what the horse Spirit is telling her. She also starts to be able to speak to other horses.
Ellie is an orphan who has been uprooted from New Zealand and sent to her uncle's horse training yard where she helps her cousins get ponies ready for shows. I missed the first book in which she gained her grey horse Spirit but in this one she works with other horses, competes at showjumping and has to say goodbye to an injured pony. Lots to learn.

This week's nature book is One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire ISBN: 9780756406837.
This is an excellent story in the series, because we now step into another part of the Fae world, an undersea kingdom which is well realised. Toby Daye the changeling has to rescue children (again) and the abducted kids look likely to be the spark for a war between land and sea. This is only the final straw of course; the land has been polluting the sea and all the Undine, Orca and Selkie folks are angry.