Sunday, 5 October 2014

Book Review

Chinese Walls by David Price

I was given the chance to review this book by David Clive Price.  Right from the beginning I realised I had never read anything like it before.

To me banking just means somewhere I make sure there is money to buy my weekly shopping and to cover all my bills.

I never really understood what a cut throat business it really is and what kind of self serving person you had to be if you wanted to get ahead in that world.

The story revolves around Nicholas Powell, a married man with children, who is taken from his comfortable, settled position and moved to Hong Kong on the eve of it being handed back to China. 

With such a distance between Nicholas and his family Nicholas starts to question himself and finds himself attracted to Daniel, a young Chinese bank manager. 

The story then takes many twists following the unraveling of Nicholas' private and business life.


I found the story well put together and is written by a man who has clearly experienced the cultures of both London and Hong Kong as David has.

If you are looking for a multi-cultural romance with a touch of corporate backstabbing, then this is definitely the book for you.





Thursday, 2 October 2014

Stitch & Bitch...

...And what I've learnt.

Normally when you go to such things called Stitch and Bitch, you'd think you would learn a bit about knitting, maybe crochet a little bit of cross stitch?

Not so much, not at my Stitch and Bitch anyway.

Granted I now know all the local gossip, which I can tell you isn't much really.  I can certainly tell you how to frog a project and I'm still waiting to learn how to crochet!

The main thing I have learnt, and this may sound strange, I have learned how to make soup!  Now I know I can follow a recipe but I remember a time when my Dad was forever making soup.  He would collect bones of several dead animals, not random animals that he may have found on the street, but carcasses of our dinners.  Out in his little shed he would plug in the slow cooker and bung in these bones, an onion maybe, to tell the truth I couldn't even tell you what the hell he put in there, but I do remember it smelt awful, and tasted worse.  This kind of put me off homemade soup for quite a while.

Well I digress, the Stitch and Bitch I frequent is a group of ladies from surrounding villages who meet on a Wednesday lunchtime each week. We meet at different houses and as it's around lunchtime there is always a pot of soup on the go.  Not your usual Campbells or Heinz but generally a homemade vegetable soup.  Generally a homemade loaf of bread too.

These have been greeted by me with a smidge of trepidation, but can I just say that I have literally lapped it up.

This leads me to the learning of soup making or at least realising how easy it is.  Listening to the other ladies who have already made their soups I thought I would have a go and now I've found a bit of a recipe I like.

Tomatoes, carrots, shallots, garlic and pepper.  Put in the oven to roast for about an hour, then added to a stock pot with some vegetable stock. Boil, doesn't that sound awful though that word; boil, for a bit, let simmer and then smush up.

That's it! Why didn't I make soup earlier. I have had carrot soup too.  I will definitely make more, But here are a couple of the obligatory photos of today's batch.




So where have you been lately and learnt something different to what you thought you would learn?

Monday, 22 September 2014

Daily Writing

In an attempt to get me writing again, I used to write poetry and short stories, I have been looking everywhere for a daily writing prompt.  I have been to Paper Swans, and whilst they are good for prompts they don't send out a daily kick up the arse.  So I asked them on Twitter if they had any suggestions of anywhere they knew of that could help.

Sure enough they were able to come back to me with a wonderful suggestion of, Sarah Selecky who has a beautiful site and also has a daily prompt email sign up, so you can have an email sent to you on a daily basis where you take ten minutes out of your day to write.  And when I say write, I mean write.  With actual PEN AND PAPER, so I have finally had a day where I wrote.

I'm hoping to do these on a daily basis, if I don't I don't but it if I do, that's even better!

Here's yesterday's; the prompt being: "These have been here ever since Grolvak threw his back out."



As you can see, all written by hand, hopefully you can read it, that is if you want to. If not that's cool too.


Have you ever written, like this, for fun?



Monday, 8 September 2014

Busy Busy Busy

“We need to make sure that we never get too busy with life that we don’t have time to live.” 
― Daniel Willey

Just lately I have changed the way I have been living.  There are things afoot at home which has seen a change in the way mine and Mark's roles are being played out.  Basically put I am no longer a lazy arse and pretty much do it all, (shock horror I hear you all cry, I know you all thought I was the epitome of Domestic Goddessness!!)

Well because of this I actually have to have some structure to my day, as opposed to getting up, having breakfast faff about on YouTube, maybe then have a couple of snacks, catching up with blogs; then clearly I would have to check what's going on in the world of Facebook, etc etc, you can see where I am going here can't you?

So Grace is back at school, and I have managed all the washing, washing up, hoovering, polishing and everything else that needs doing before Mark gets back by about 8.50ish.  Granted I am only concentrating on the downstairs for now but small steps.  I've even got back into cooking the meals in the evening, much to the distaste of the girls because this means new experiences, yay!!!

On top of this I am still sewing so my days are certainly full now and coffee has again become more new best friend.  No more quick snoozes in the afternoon,even though I have all the new housework skillz I still don't seem to have picked up the sleeping skillz, small steps eh body?

Because of the new improved me I need something to do at the weekends that will keep me occupied as I will most certainly nod off if not.  This weekend I thought I need something calm, relaxing, not too taxing, as much as I love sewing I do become a little bit stressed.  My favourite non stressy but constructive past time has to be colouring, and as I am working hard to get some items made for a Craft Fayre at the end of the month I thought I would combine this and make some Halloween cards. I love putting these together I try to make each one different as I get a bit bored with repeativeness, so I crafted some of these up and put them on my Etsy shop, but I can also get to take them down with me to the Fayre, it's like advertising overkill, or something!



There is something so calming about letting your juices flow and just be.  That's why I'm so excited about the new membership 'box' about to be released into the world, from the wonderful people at Crafty Creatives, a box dedicated to paper, and all things stationery.  In a world of busyness and business we sometimes need to take a moment and slow down.  I can't wait to try #paperhaul and I'll be able to share all the goodness with you on my blog here.

Love paper? love #paperhaul

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Days Out

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.” 
― Anatole France

In the Summer Holidays we didn't get a holiday as such this year, we just couldn't afford it, but we did go for days out, with hindsight this probably costs as much but it was those spur of the moment things.

Anyway, on one particular day My Mum, bless her and thanks, offered to take us out for the day. She will be 80 next year and although she is all 'there' in her head her poor little body is having a hard time.  With arthritic osteoporosis and COPD I felt it would be good to go somewhere she could be pushed around in a wheelchair, not that she has one; she borrowed it from a friend! So we decided to take a trip to Woburn Safari Park which is only about an hours drive from us.
We all piled in the car, and trekked off.  We have been to Woburn before and actually really liked it, lat time we missed the giraffes though, for some reason they hadn't been let out of their enclosure.  Mark and My Mum both get in for concessional (disability and OAP respectively) so we told the lady on the gate this and she then said that because we had two concessional admissions we could have two people who can be classed as carers, which are admitted for free, and Grace is a child so we ended up paying £33.00 for the five of us, which as I am sure you will agree is very reasonable indeed.

I love to see the animals roaming, yes they are still enclosed but seem much freer than an actual zoo.  The only animals that were enclosed this time were a Lion, as he was a new introduction so was being integrated slowly, and then there were some wolves, which had been kept separate from the other wolves as they were originally from two different packs and weren't taking too well in being merged together.

I think our favourite part though was when we went to the Monkey Enclosure and this time we had a Monkey jump on the car. Last time the monkeys passed us by as there were lots of cars were feeding them through the window.

Here are a few of my favourite photos.












By far my favourite animals have to be the wolves.  I was quite emotional when they were running near the car.

Which would you like to see if you went?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Books

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” 
― Jorge Luis Borges

All I seem to do at the moment is talk about books, but books to me are a natural thing.  I am surrounded by an immediate family that doesn't read, which I find very strange.  Growing up my Dad always had a book in his hand.  I always had a book in my hand and for a part of my life reading was part of the reason I think I am still alive.

Over the holidays Grace took part in the Library's Mythical Maze challenge, which I think is a brilliant idea if it encorages children to read.  As she was doing this we had to go to the library every couple of weeks, somewhere I hadn't been in a few years.  I lost some library books, so of course there were overdue payments and replacement costs; which me being me I buried my head in the sand and hoped they would go away, so felt very guilty going there.  I even made Mark go with her and get her a library card.

We are lucky to have three libraries quite close to us and we travelled to a couple of them to chose Grace the books she wanted, (these details are all for a different post) whilst there I fell into that moment of pure calm.  Yes gone are the days of matronly bespectacled women constantly shushing you, but there is still that cool air of quiet and calm. With hushed tones and the distant sound of a Mum reading The Tiger Who Came to Tea for the 300th time.  Always an old man sitting reading the newspapers and the rustling of sweet wrappers.  I love it, I love that final sound of peace.

In a world of constant noise and hurry, this little oasis of quiet is maybe something we all need once in a while, even for 30 minutes to check out the free magazines and have a sit down.  Or catch up on your favourite childhood book to see if those simple memories come back.

What did I get?
A couple of crime story books, love those and haven't read any for ages. A knitting book, maybe a couple of Christmas presents to made in there. And as we are now into September a book about Christmas, because I love to read about useless information!

When was the last time you went to the library and what did you get out?

Monday, 25 August 2014

Book Review

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

When I received this book, I'll be honests with you, I had absolutely no idea what it would be about but there was something vaguely familiar about the title, which was strange as it was a new book.

Reading the description on the reverse I was still unsure I would enjoy it as I am not a 'gardener' type of person - even though I studied Clinical Herbalism-, but the intrigue of travel seemed to pull me in.

The story follows the life of the female lead, Alma Whittaker, in a mainly male dominated environment, it shows the struggles of being a woman at the turn of the century and the various ways that women have to hide their gender to be taken seriously. Saying that even in her independance, the story shows how her life is dictated by the actions of the men around her.  From an early age you are aware of how important her Father is to her and she has to compete with her prettier adopted sister, Prudence.  She has the brains but believes she will be overlooked because of her plainness.

Alma finds herself falling for several men, but each in their own way let her down.

This is the story of a woman who has the money to have and do what she will, she has the ability to travel the world and see things that not many people of that time have the chance to experience.

It was a riveting book, I really enjoyed it and imagined how things may have been.

Alma's life may have been full and amazing but I felt that she surrounded herself with people but inevitably she was a lonely person.

 The Signature of all Things can be bought from Amazon for £6.29, just click on the picture to purchase.


Thanks to mumsnet who sent me the book for review, all opinions are my own.
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