2. My hiking staff arrived. It looks like this and is indeed much more Gandalfy than the photo makes it appear. Am of two minds about the bulgy-out bit, which comes at an awkward place, but may not when I'm poling through the snow in boots. And now I think maybe I should get an adjustable walker as well for the other side. My walk distinctly lacks balance, and an adjustable would let me decide the best length on any given day.
3. Given that I found Horowitz's The House of Silk disappointing and unlikely and, in the end, unreadable, it's surprising how much I'm enjoying The Magpie Murders. OTOH I haven't read the blurb, but I vaguely understand that there's meta or silliness of some kind to follow. Hope it doesn't ruin what's so far a cracking good mystery.