Date Joined: October 13, 2013
Last Online: July 21, 2019
Birthday: September 26
Country: United Kingdom
9 September 2018
I'm back after just over a year's break from Swap-bot and ready to start crafting and swapping again. It will be good to reconnect with old friends and to make some new ones.
My name is Betty and I live in Birmingham, England. Birmingham is right in the middle of the country about as far from the sea as you can get, around 120 miles north of London.
I'm in my late sixties and live with my (female) partner. We got married in July of this year after being together for 21 years. We have six children between us, three home-grown ones and three adopted ones who joined the family as older children. We also have an eleven year old grandson who started secondary school in September.
I'm the librarian at a local Quaker college. I also teach there -- mostly literature and history. My main history interests are seventeenth and eighteenth century (and the first couple of decades of the nineteenth century up to 1830).
I also write. I've published one academic book about women's travel writing (and lots of articles), and two general books, one about great explorers and the other an atlas of exploration. I've just finished editing the memoirs of a late 18th century author and have published several other edited memoirs. I'm also interested in writing for children, although that tends to slip down my to-do list when things get busy. Maybe one of these days ....
I read a lot. My tastes are pretty broad. I like general novels, poetry, history, crime fiction, science fiction and a whole variety of non-fiction.
I don't like horror and I like my crime fiction on the cosy end.
Crime novelists I enjoy include Donna Leon, Anne Perry, Molly MacRae, Kerry Greenwood, Ruth Dudley Edwards, Peter Tremayne, Sara Paretsky, Val MacDermid, Katherine Forrest, Majorie Allingham, Laurie R. King (particularly the Mary Russell books) and Carola Dunn. I reread Dorothy L. Sayers at intervals. I used to like Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh, but I don't think they've stood the test of time as well as Allingham and Sayers.
I used to read a lot of science fiction but read it only occasionally now. Suzette Haden Elgin's books stand out in my memory. I am a great fan of anything by Octavia L. Butler. I recently read and re-enjoyed Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. I may decide to do a re-read of Bradbury generally. Zenna Henderson's books were tremendously important to me when I was younger.
I like 18th and 19th century fiction. I re-read Jane Austen at intervals; ditto Dickens; ditto Susan Ferrier, Amelia Opie, and Walter Scott. I love Dorothy Wordsworth's travel writing -- I'm less fond of her diaries but they are nonetheless worth a read. I re-read Susan Glaspell's A Jury of Her Peers about once a year and am a great fan of Mary Wilkins Freeman and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Other books I return to at intervals include Breakfast at Tiffany's, I Capture the Castle, Cold Comfort Farm, A Bullet in the Ballet, Jackie Kay's Adoption Papers and Neil Gaiman's short story Chivalry. I like some but not all Gaiman; I like some but not all Terry Pratchett (mostly Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men).
More general novels? I've just enjoyed Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl (a rewriting of Taming of the Shrew). I liked Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. I will always read something by Margaret Elphinstone or Sara Maitland. I like the Icelandic writer Halldar Laxness. I loved Christine Coleman's The Dangerous Sports Euthanasia Society. I recently read The Restoration of Oscar Laird which I found thought-provoking.
Quite a lot of the time I read non-fiction. I'm an inveterate reader of cookbooks and cookery magazines. I read walks books and craft books. I read a lot of literary criticism but that's poised somewhere between leisure and work. Ditto 17th century Quaker texts.
Looking at the non-fiction titles in the pile of books waiting to be read on my bedside table, they include The Natural World of Needle Felting, Cold Brew Coffee: Techniques and Recipes, Younger Next Year for Women, Macro Photography, Telling True Stories, Creating a Wildlife Garden, Covenant and Conversation: a weekly reading of the Jewish Bible, Fun and Games for the 21st century, and Get Started in Italian!
I often listen to audio-books, mostly crime fiction.
I hardly ever watch television. When I do, it tends to be game shows or documentaries or nature programmes.
I do however listen to a lot of radio. mostly BBC Radio 4 (which is mostly speech programmes, news, dramas, documentaries, etc.) or 4 Extra. Sometimes I listen to Radio 2 (generally popular and easy listening music). I also like BBC World Service which gives me a much more global perspective on world news.
One of the great things about my time on Swap-bot is the way it widened my crafting. I now make ATCs, do kirigami, make zines, Zen tangle, crochet and knit. I also like making handmade postcards and decorated envelopes. Being part of a Digital Art Group made me work harder at that medium and I've also got increasingly into photography. I've received some wonderful items from other swappers and they've stimulated and inspired me to develop my own skills.
I play Serpentine online and Scrabble. I really like board games of all sorts and card games, but as my partner doesn't, I don't often have anyone to play with, unless my son who's into games happens to be around. (He lives in Yorkshire so I only see him every couple of months.)
I love cooking and like trying out new recipes. I cook things from all round the world, but Indian is probably the one I do most of. We used to live in a predominantly Pakistani neighbourhood where it was really easy to get all the spices and other ingredients in the local shops. We've now moved to be nearer my work, and I really miss the shops I used to have. I have lots of cookbooks. We keep running out of bookshelf space for them!
I also really like eating out and trying new restaurants.
We do quite a lot of country walking. I also like visiting museums.
We feed the birds in the garden and have seen over 30 species over the last year. We don't watch breakfast TV -- we sit by the patio doors and watch the birds instead!
When it comes to postcards, I particularly like maps, holidays, fairy tales, myths and legends, greeting postcards, foods and cooking, book or library themed, vintage, museums, trees, birds, insects, poems, science, sports and games -- but I'm open to surprises!
Old children's books (published pre-1970) in any language and from any country
Cookbooks and recipes
Vintage postcards and greetings cards
Little Golden Books
Contemporary children's picture books from around the world and in any language
Food from around the world
American candy, particularly Sweet Tarts, Chuckles, Necco Wafers, Good and Plenty, Cookie Dough Bites and Red Hots
Music - folk, country, classical in particular. Not a heavy metal or punk fan.
Vintage postcards and greetings cards
Postcards with nice pictures on
Postcards from museums
Socks, particularly with pictures on or nice colours (I wear size 8 UK, 9 USA. According to Google, that's 38 in Spain and Italy and 40 in other EU countries)
Things that people have made and put time and thought into
Crime fiction from around the world
Nice things for the shower
Old microscope slides
18th and 19th century magazines
Gloves and mittens
Spices and herbs
Anything to do with the ocean (pictures, sand, boats, etc.)
Pictures of snow scenes
Women's magazines, craft magazines, cooking magazines, photography magazines (but not celebrity magazines)
Learning about other people, their culture and how they live
Board and card games
Hello Kitty items
A number of years ago, I needed a user name for an online game I was playing and there was a bottle of witch hazel sitting on the table. I ended up as hazelwitch! I've generally kept the name for online things that I do.
It's good to be back.
Waiting for ratings or comments:
Finished collaboration #63 sent to Annienotsobig on 15 February
Victorian Reading PC Swap sent to lostinavalon on 21 February
Free Sense cards to villagegreen sent on 28 February
Watching my postbox for:
snailmailpenpalsintheusonly (profile decoration, Dec. 2018)
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