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Books, Pubs, Flats and Heaven


I traveled with my husband on his business last week, a journey which took us to Truro, Cornwall and the County Arms, to Braunton, Devon and The George to Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales and Malsters, all pubs with accommodations,quite nice and the kind of places we generally stay. Once he finished work, we were off to celebrate our anniversary in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, a town of books, where we stayed at Kilverts, the only pub not quite up to snuff on our journey, but nice enough. (They do not have rooms marked by author’s names, as they show on their website, something that sucks a reader in and thinks, cool!) We were here two nights, and my side of the mattress sloped to the floor, so I felt I was rolling off the bed all night. Blimey, they really need to replace that mattress. All the pub rooms had bathtubs, which to me is one of the great things in UK and Europe, as they are deep and long and so wonderful for soaking the bones! Our last night on the road was spent in Hereford. But I’m saving that for the last. Here’s a few bathtub shots…


First let me tell you about Hay-on-Wye. This is the National Town of Books for Wales.

There are at least 2 dozen books shops with both new and used books, (including honor shops, where you leave your payment in the box. The stalls at the bottom of the stairs in this picture is an honor shop)

 There are lots of antique and vintage  shops where true porcelain teacups can be found and quite a few good restaurants.

Hay on Wye tea cup

I think someone made a mistake though when they let this bull in a china shop. That might be why they are now closed.

I found books by my dear friend and mentor, Jack Williamson




I even found a book on the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico! (far left in photo)

I also heard someone say, “What the ‘Hay’? Where did all these books come from? How did they get all these books?” The answers bookshop owners gave were so vague, we began to suspect foul play, oh wait, I was in the crime section when I had that foul play thought. So no, not foul play, but really? How do all these books come to be in the little town of Hay in the mid-reaches of Wales? Hmmm….

A proper tea can be found in Hay at The Old Stables Tea Room where they serve their award winning Scrumptious Strawberry and Rose Jam with scones and clotted cream, a cake and tea bread.

And I wonder why my jeans are getting snug??

There was a curious shop with all sorts of old taxidermy creations. Jenny at The Bloggess, one of my favorite bloggers, author of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, would love this place! (BTW, her book is hilarious. Seriously, I had to stop reading in a public place I was laughing so hard.)


And did I mention Crabbies Ginger beer?

This stuff is fantastic! It’s Scottish, so what else can you expect?

Alcoholic ginger beer, that’s right, baby!

And they have a castle, like all good places in the UK.

Oh, and a bear or two…

And all this leads back to those pub rooms and how they measure up along side our flat and well, how they all measure up to what’s coming…

We are renting a small flat in Bristol while we are here in the UK. This is what it looks like…











It is a lovely little flat, however, the twin beds are rather hard, and well, it’s twin beds, and a toilet that shares it’s space with the shower (in the picture, see the shower head? the toilet is on the opposite wall, just out of camera range) so when we arrived at Castle House in Hereford, a place we booked at the last minute because they had a Sunday night special and wifi, so we could work there Monday morning before heading home, we had no idea it looked like this…

We were in heaven! We almost missed out on all of Hereford, because we just wanted to luxuriate in that beautiful room. Luckily, there is not much to see in Hereford, but we did see the cathedral…

I stood around admiring the cathedral with this guy…

And then we saw the oldest building in Hereford…

not sure, but that might be the oldest man too, and well the name of the town is Hereford…

And behind our hotel, are the remains of the castle moat and a beautiful home. By the way, the castle is long gone, but they preserved the grounds and it is a beautiful green space in the city.

So we had a spot of tea, but nothing like in Hay, 

and then stayed in our room the next morning until the last possible moment to check out. It was heaven.

Okay, so I’ve broken all the rules of blogging and put different sized pictures and wrote a super long blog, but I filled it with photos, so hope I’ll be forgiven.

I hope you enjoyed the pubs, flats and heaven. If you did, please share! Cheers!



2012 Reads

(This is the stack of books I received for Christmas this year. I am currently reading Beyond the Beautiful Forevers and can hardly put it down. Incredible story.)
I am a reader. I have been my entire life. I read cereal boxes when I was a child if there was nothing else nearby to read. I always have a book with me incase I get stuck somewhere and find myself waiting in a line or an office. Reading is what makes the difference in who I am today and who I will be tomorrow. Several readers have asked me for my reading list of this last year. Below is that list taken from my Goodreads page. They are in the order of the last book I read this year to the first. You can find me on Goodreads as Jane Hasenmueller if you want to follow my reading for this year. I failed to put the cookbooks I read on this list, but maybe I’ll make that an entry for another day. I did not include much in the way of description for any book, as Amazon provides that if you are interested in reading any one of these. I would love to hear from you in comments what your favorite(s) was/were for 2012. I think mine would be Canada by Richard Ford and East of Eden by Steinbeck. Oh, and The Marriage Plots, and The Art of Fielding and Wuthering Heights and….
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative BattlesInspirational this little book talks about the importance of our life and work as art! I needed this read and am now reading it again a little each day. Short and sweet chapters, I recommend this for anyone who needs a kick in the pants to get activated this year.
The Middlesteins Interesting read of a woman who ate herself to death.
War and Peace Longest book ever, but enjoyed immensely. Second half of book becomes a bit overwhelming at times with Tolstoy’s treatise on war, but well worth the read.
The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions Two perspectives on the meaning of Jesus. I appreciated the diverse opinions.
River Town: Two Years on the YangtzeA Peace Corp memoir. Provides some insight on China I had not known before.
Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewish Words of Jesus Can Change Your LifeI actually read this twice because understanding the Jewish life of Jesus gives greater insight into the meaning of the Bible. Whether a believer or not, this is an interesting read.
The Three Weissmanns of Westport Just a fun read. Nothing deep or too meaningful, but enjoyed.
The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible I found this amusing and insightful.
The Gathering A good read, but nothing I’d highly recommend.
Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith The second book, Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, is a much better book, but this first book certainly gives an introduction to the concept of understanding Jesus as the Jew he was and the life he led.
The Pleasure Trap: Mastering the Hidden Force That Undermines Health and Happiness An okay book about why we eat what we eat. The middle chapters were the best.
Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard This was one of the most memorable books I read this year. It is the memoir of a young woman who grows up with drug addicted parents and spends much of her time on the streets of New York, but eventually decides she must finish school and go to college to escape the only life she knows. Harvard becomes her goal and miraculously she attains just that. Inspiring read and one I highly recommend.
One Last Thing Before I Go I like Jonathan Tropper, but this one was not as good as This is Where I Leave You, which I read last year.
Call Me Ted Not a book I would typically read, but my husband was going to toss it out when he finished and he had found it interesting, so decided to give it a go. I did like this and found him to be an interesting man. He has led a diverse life that offered him many different opportunities. If you are an entrepreneur and looking for inspiration, this book would be good.
Wuthering Heights I couldn’t believe, as a former English teacher and double degreed in English, that somehow I had never read this book. I loved it as I love all the English women writers of this era. Beautiful description, drama, human emotion, a great read.
Frankenstein Hard to believe I had never read Frankenstein either, but I had not, so made it a must read. Such a good story. Having studied the Shelleys in my grad days, I knew a lot about the way this book came about, but had never actually read the story. I would recommend this for anyone, especially if you missed out in high school or only read the Cliff Notes. (You know who you are!)
Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" If you like Downton Abbey, then read this. A true story. Enough said.
Nocover-blank-111x148 The Life we Prize, by Elton Trueblook. An old book, one I found on my dad’s shelf, it has a lot of truisms for today.

An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace Love, love, love this book. Rich in cooking description, the whys and hows of what we cook. This is not a cookbook though, but a cooking guide or meditation. Lots of great tips on preparing things ahead. Highly recommend. Short and swift read.
A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman Though a little poorly written in a few places, overall this book is compelling in that I learned so much about the Congo. This book will make you want to take action and stand up for these women and their fight to be free of violence.
East of Eden East of Eden is one of my all time favorite novels. My husband and I both read it after his daughter told us it was her favorite novel. Steinbeck was such an incredible writer and this story will stay with you for life.
Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit If you eat tomatoes, you should read this. Great investigative writing, though repetitive in a few places, it does not distract too much from the story. The plight of tomato pickers and what happens to our tomatoes makes for a good read.
The Great Divorce Another one I picked up from my dad’s shelf. This is a short fiction written by one of the eminent writers of all times. Interesting, though Mere Christianity is still my favorite.
Skinny Bitch: A No-Nonsense, Tough-Love Guide for Savvy Girls Who Want to Stop Eating Crap and Start Looking Fabulous! In your face, why you need to lose weight and keep it off, and why you should be a vegan to do it. They have compiled the research from the studies that indicate the importance of giving up the typical American diet and put it into a short and sweet, but bitchy format.
A Land More Kind Than Home Really liked this book. The main character is a young boy, faced with evil and tragedy,  and how he perseveres. It stuck with me a long time. I recommend this read for sure.
Cleopatra: A Life History is intriguing to me and the story of Cleopatra kept me fully engaged. She is truly one of the most interesting women of all time and this well written account of her life gives insight into her motivations and intentions.
The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical Having given up on “religion” I have read this book a couple of times because Shane Claiborne writes about true Christianity and what it means to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. He inspires one to think beyond the walls of a building and the constrictions of the names we place on different believers. I highly recommend this book for anyone who thinks outside the box and wants inspiration to live a true Christian life.
Canada One of my favorite books this year, Ford writes an incredible story of innocence lost and growing up too fast. I had a hard time putting this down. Highly recommend.
This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike. Got a case of self pity? Read this! Augusten Burroughs has seen it all and done it all and he has some no nonsense advice for you here. Give it a go.
Stern Men I read this because I like Elizabeth Gilbert. Not a great book, but I enjoyed it, nonetheless.
In a Country of Mothers A.M. Homes is one of my favorite writers. She never disappoints.
The Seven Storey Mountain The autobiography of Thomas Merton, a man who gave up a promising literary career to pursue the life of a monk in Kentucky. A good read.
All But My Life: A Memoir This book of life in a Nazi labor camp, this is a different perspective and experience than many of the other tales of WWII. She lost “all but her life,” and persevered to the end. A very good read.
You Deserve Nothing The story of an American living in Paris teaching high school. As a former teacher, I could relate to much of the story, but then he takes a path I do not understand that leads him to destruction. A good read.
The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris Nothing great, but if you’ve been to Paris or plan to go to Paris, you will like it!
Crime and Punishment  Crime and Punishment, the first Russian novel I read this year. The Russians are such rich writers. A really good read and one I recommend.
The Time Traveler's Wife I wanted to throw this book across the room. Why do people love this book? I hated it, though I will give her kudos that I finished reading it to the bitter end. I do not recommend this stupid story. (Who, in her right mind, would have a baby that more than likely would time travel? I mean really!)
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (George Smiley, #5) Complicated spy novel that challenged me, but I loved it. Nothing like a good spy read!
The Weird Sisters Fun book I really enjoyed, probably more so because I’m the middle of three sisters.
Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) Didn’t everybody read this series? The first was the best, but liked them all!
Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) Second in the series.
Steve Jobs Best biography I’ve ever read. Truly enjoyed this read. He was a genius that didn’t know much about love and human relationships, but gave us the Apple. Enough said.
The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) The first in the series and the best. Great concept, good read.
The Art of Fielding The story of a baseball player, but so much more than that, I really think this is well written and was by far one of my favorite books of the year. I highly recommend.
The Marriage Plot Another great book by Eugenides, this one does not disappoint. He is one of the best fiction writers of our time with stories that always keep one engaged. I highly recommend.
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything Did I read this? Oh yes, this is a book about memory and I did read it and found it quite interesting. If you are a nerdy reader like me, interested in how the mind works, you will like this book.
Food Rules: An Eater's Manual Love this little book by Michael Pollan and illustrations by Maira Kallman. Good rules to remember. The first book I read last year after finding in my stocking on Christmas morning.  Great book to give as a gift.
I hope you have a reading year! Turn off the television, put down the iPad, close the computer and turn off the phone, pick up a book and read for your life!
Peace and Joy!

An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler

An Everlasting MealAn Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, by Tamar Adler has become one of my favorite cooking books ever. Not a traditional cookbook by any means, though there are recipes scattered throughout, this wonderful read is a “How to…” book on cooking economically, using what is on hand in the kitchen, and making every scrap usable. Beautifully written, the prose flows with description that will have you chomping at the bit to get into the kitchen and put her recommendations to work. Though I am not a meat eater, I enjoyed the information presented on meat and still learned from these chapters. The first chapter is “How to Boil Water,” and though you may think you know all about boiling water, wait until you have read this chapter before patting yourself on the back. I recommend this book for any level of cook.  Interested in purchasing? You can find this book on My Favorites page for quick ordering!