It's been quite an eventful few days. Wednesday morning, I was woken at 1am by the earthquake. At 5.2 on the Richter Scale, pretty small fry by global standards, but certainly a bigger deal than the last one I remember, which arrived on a Sunday afternoon and barely rattled the glasses in the Pump and Tap. This one rumbled and shook the house properly, rattling wardrobe doors and shaking shelves and furniture.
I've also been over in Wales (and by the way, a belated happy St David's Day to all), although to be fair Hay on Wye is only a couple of hundred yards over the border. It is, of course, a town that carries great dangers for anyone who already has a huge mountain of Books They Mean To Read. Still, in between a bit of birding (Buzzards and Dippers, mainly), and some hill-walking, I bravely walked straight into bookshop after bookshop in search of bargains. And my haul?
Collected Poems - RS Thomas (as I said a little while back, it's time I got a decent overview of this wonderful poet's work)
Later Collected Poems - RS Thomas
A Robin Hood Book - Alan Halsey (I have, of course, a Robin Hood fixation, and this strange little book is excellent. It's poetic prose, I suppose, blurring fact, fiction, politics and history in a highly readable fashion).
Skevington's Daughter - Oliver Reynolds (I bought Reynolds' The Oslo Tram years ago in a secondhand shop, and remain rather fond of it, so this was a no-brainer at £1)
The Player Queen's Wife - Oliver Reynolds (ditto)
Rounding The Horn: Selected Poems - John Stallworthy (I don't know much of Stallworthy's work, but this looked a must-have at £3)
Ill Met By Moonlight - W Stanley Moss (an account of real-life escapades in German-occupied Crete. The author's comrade in all this was Patrick Leigh Fermor, whose books I've probably raved about before)
The Twelve Days - George Malcolm Thomson (a 1960s account of the immediate lead-up to the Great War. It's superbly written, and what comes across especially is just how much imprecise use of language contributed to a crisis snowballing out of control)
God's Englishman - Christopher Hill (excellent biography of Oliver Cromwell which I read at school and again at university)
OK, so the last thing I need is more books, but given that only the Halsey book was full price, I was pretty pleased with that lot.
In between times, I went up to the Gospel Pass and down the Llanthony Valley, which is the kind of place that rightfully belongs in fairy tales and fantasy novels. It would be terrible if vast hordes of tourists did discover such a secluded, unspoiled spot, but if you're ever in the area, make sure you have a look.