Daily Challenge, Uncategorized

Daily Challenge – Day 13: Three Confessions of Your Choice

 

shhThis challenge title made me literally laugh out loud. Practically every challenge has had me grumbling that the challenge is too restrictive and that I could do so much more than is expected of me. Three confessions of my choice has me imagining quivery legs in brightly-coloured welly boots, and yes they’re mine! I have to confess 3?! Why not ONE?!

How big should my confessions be? Should they be controversial? Should I share everything with a public audience, even if that audience is relatively small (my blog hasn’t got a huge following…yet (Can I say that?!) If in the future I have more followers will they be interested enough to read back through the archives to see this post?!

Ok, ok! I know I should stop rambling and just write the bloody thing! Sorry. I’m delaying having to share some stuff…

First confession –

Second confession –

Third confession –

Well, that was easy! 😉

I really can’t think of any confessions, unless admitting that, despite their being uncool, especially in the very era they were popular (the 70s and 80s), I’m a fan of both ABBA and the Bee Gees, or as hubby suggested, I should confess that I’m a nut job. I have no idea what he means by that, unless it’s his way of implying I need a brain test for putting up with him for 26 1/2 years! 😉

I do have ‘things’ that I could confess but wouldn’t want to bring them to a public place, or to drag things up and go over old ground – stuff I’ve lived with for years, bad decisions I made, etc, but feel I’ve moved forwards from those decisions, their consequences and outcomes. I’ve learned from my mistakes – which ultimately is what we’re here for isn’t it – other than to procreate! That stuff just wouldn’t be good for my mental health, and as hubby thinks I’m already mentally challenged there’d be no hope!

I think I’m done! This daily challenge became the ‘Un-confessions!’

Until next time…

 

Book Review, Uncategorized

Book Review – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Miniaturist tells the story of newly married Petronella (Nella) Brandt, an 18 year old girl who arrives from the countryside to Amsterdam, and the home of her new husband Johannes Brandt, a merchant trader. She is greeted by the stern sister of her husband and it soon becomes apparent that, whilst Nella is officially the lady of the house she is in no way in charge, but must adjust to the austere and reverent life her sister-in-law practices.

The story unfolds after the arrival of the curious marriage gift Johannes Brandt has delivered for his new wife – a beautiful cabinet; a miniature, but extremely accurate model of their house.

the-miniaturist-cover-design-jessie-burton-story-tv-bbc

Full of twists, turns, secrets and deceptions the story is intriguing and you never know what will happen from page to page as Nella attempts to find her feet in her new Amsterdam home and society, which seem to be linked in some way to the items made by the elusive miniaturist, who provides figures and items for the cabinet, whether ordered or not.

Jessie Burton’s prose is beautifully eloquent, suspenseful and powerful and builds to a compelling conclusion. This kept me hooked throughout, although at times I felt the expansion of some scenes and deeper descriptions would have made for a more indepth story. The final couple of chapters felt rushed in comparison to the rest of the book – like the writer was in a hurry to get the project finished and off to the publishers. For me this was a shame as I feel the story is incomplete as, despite tempting the reader with glimpses of the miniaturist we never get to know exactly who the miniaturist is and how she is able to capture or predict the lives of the characters in the story, however maybe this was deliberate in order to tease with a potential sequel..? If you enjoy literary fiction and beautiful writing I’d recommend you give over some time to what is overall an excellent book.

 

 

thought of the day, Uncategorized

Thought of the Day – Books

thoughtoftheday

Today I finished reading ‘The Miniaturist’ by Jessie Burton. It’s the third book I’ve finished this year so I’m averaging 1 per month.

Now I have to decide what to read next. How do you decide which book to read when you have a pile, or shelves of books?

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I have shelves of paperbacks downstairs which I separated out from all our other books especially so I knew that all the books I hadn’t read were together in one place and I could just go there if I ever ran out of books to read in my upstairs pile.

Then Christmas happened. I’d had a list of books I wanted to read so had given those titles to family who had asked me what I’d like for Christmas. After Christmas, having watched the BBC adaptation of ‘The Miniaturist’ I went to my Amazon account (which is always a big mistake!) to find the book. I enjoyed the series so I thought I may enjoy the book too. I did, but I’m not writing a review in this post though so will leave that there.

Amazon had their ‘3 paperbacks for £10′ offer running and I already had two other books in my basket to buy at some point in case I didn’t get them for Christmas.  I bought the three. Having already been lucky enough to get six books from my Christmas list, and having bought myself one as a pre-Christmas treat, once they arrived the next day my total of brand new books to read was ten, although I was already halfway through the pre-Christmas treat. Ten, plus shelves of books to read already. Ohh, and I’ve not even mentioned my wish list – which is mainly full of Neil Gaiman books as I’ve not yet read any of his work; his website/blog is brilliant plus I love the Starz series ‘American Gods‘ based on his book of the same name. Take a breath! 😉 Oh, and hubby has the hardback copy of Dan Brown’s ‘Origin’ on his bedside table which he’s had for months and not yet started, and my bookworm wriggles!

Last year I donated 4 large carrier bags of books to a local book club in an effort to be strict and clear those I’d had on my shelves for years (inherited from father-in-law and gifted from a friend’s Mum). I hate to give books away at all and every time I have to sort through them it’s physically and mentally painful. I was strict with myself and donated those I really thought I would never get around to reading. At my age I wonder if I’ll ever get to read every book I want to. I probably could if I didn’t ever shower or bathe, shop, clean, cook, write, etc, etc, but that’s not likely.

The way I chose The Miniaturist after finishing the pre-Christmas treat (which I should actually own up and admit it was E.L James ‘Darker’  – the Fifty Shades of Grey story as told from the perspective of the male protagonist Christian Grey), and my first choice of book from the Christmas pile, ‘Across the China Sea’ by Gaute Heivoll, was to give each a number and ask hubby to give me a number between 1 and 9 – original huh?! At this point, with ‘Origin’ now on my list I make it that I still have 9! Treading literary water!

I now have to decide whether to re-read Deborah Harkness ‘A Discovery of Witches’ again before I read the other two books in the trilogy, as it was at least a couple of years since I finished it but my son got them for me for Christmas, or do I just start reading ‘Shadow of Night’ and hope my memory of the beginning of the story is good enough for it to fall into place? The third option is that I read all the other books first and save those for last. Having just visited Deborah Harkness website I’ve now seen she has a new book ‘Time’s Convert’ being released in the U.S in September! Another one for the list!

**I took a break after the above paragraph to take a look at the pile of books currently in the cupboard of my bedside cabinet and found other books still there, waiting to be read. Do you think if books ever got impatient with waiting to be read they’d run away? I’d hope none of mine would as they’re very much treasured, despite my not reading them yet.

Anyway, the current list of books in my cupboard numbers 20! I’m going to share the list here just in case anyone reading this has any advice as to which to read first! These are in no particular order of preference. As I’ve said above I do want to read every one of them.

  1. Deborah Harkness – A Discovery of Witches (this only counts if I decide to re-read it before reading Shadow of Night and The Book of Life)
  2. Deborah Harkness – Shadow of Night
  3. Deborah Harkness – The Book of Life
  4. Beth Underdown – The Witchfinder’s Sister
  5. John Connolly – The Book of Lost Things
  6. Audrey Niffenegger – Her Fearful Symmetry
  7. Jojo Moyes – The Girl You Left Behind
  8. Rachel Rhys – Dangerous Crossing
  9. Ruth Hogan – The Keeper of Lost Things
  10. Lisa Wingate – Before We Were Yours
  11. Alice Walker – Possessing the Secret of Joy
  12. Rosa Tremain – The Road Home
  13. Abigail Gibbs – The Dark Heroine
  14. Jean Stubbs – The Witching Time
  15. Marianne Curley – The Named (Guardians of Time Trilogy Part 1)
  16. Christina Courtenay – The Secret Kiss of Darkness
  17. Cheyenne McCray – Forbidden Magic
  18. Catherine Ryan Hyde – Chasing Windmills
  19. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Beautiful Creatures
  20. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Beautiful Darkness (I will then need to buy part 3 of the trilogy Beautiful Chaos), and not forgetting
  21. Dan Brown – Origin.

Based on my 1 book per month average I think I’m going to be busy until February 2020! That’s without the books on the shelf downstairs…

I’m off to bury my head somewhere – I think a good book may be a great place to start – when I can decide which one to start with!

Until next time…

 

 

Daily Challenge, Uncategorized

Daily Challenge – Day 12: Screenshot your desktop

This is my mobile phone (Cell phone) desktop/homepage:

Left to right are my main home page, second and third. Yes, I have a lot of apps! I do try to get around to using all of them at least once or twice a week!

My laptop desktop, which I prefer to use when typing blogs, novels etc looks like this:

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All these prove I can use modern technology. What they don’t show is that I am actually a technophobe (although not as bad as some!) Until next time! 🙂

Daily Challenge

Daily Challenge – Day 11: What is your favourite quote?

Here we go again! 🙂 Only one? There are so many good quotes out there which I love and which inspire me that I’m going to struggle. The following two are on my personal Facebook page as they’re long-term favourites.

“All that you need may not be before you or around you,

but all that you need is definitely within you.” 

The above quote was on a promotional leaflet; for Yoga classes, within my university’s library. I’d just attended a lecture after 6 weeks of classes (as a 34 year old, mature student, studying English Language) and wondered if little ole me could really study and gain a degree when there it was. I just came across it. I can’t find the right word to describe the feeling of that message being there at the very moment I was doubting myself (and without really giving myself a change to prove that I could). A message from above? An intervention? There was no author on the leaflet and thus I have no one to credit for it but if you/they are out there I’d be happy to credit them so please contact me so I can put that right. Thanks 🙂

Although I’m British/English I have the utmost respect for President Barack Obama and also Michelle Obama. I believe so much progress was made in so many areas whilst he was President, (which are being reversed by the current play-acting Colonel in Chief.) I don’t discuss politics so will say no more, other than sharing one of many quotes from Obama.

obama
The next one is one I tend to think about more at New Year; as we move from one year to another. It’s easy to become sentimental about what has passed and your hopes and dreams for the coming year. It is also a great motivator first thing in the morning!

“Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life. The secret of success is in turning that diary into the best story you possibly can”. Douglas Pagel

Oh the failures…I’ve had a few (well, more than a few!) But here I am writing stuff down in an effort to keep my mind busy, grow used to writing on a daily basis with the hope my writing will improve. Which is why Churchill, who was a first class speech writer is still such a strong motivator now.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”. Winston Churchill

wayne dyer

I think I’ll leave it here for today and hope that some of the few I’ve shared may inspire you. Until next time 🙂

Daily Challenge, Uncategorized

Daily Challenge 10 – If you could live off only one food and one beverage for the rest of your days, what would they be?

Food, glorious food!
Hot sausage and mustard!
While we’re in the mood —
Cold jelly and custard!
Pease pudding and saveloys!
What next is the question?
Rich gentlemen have it, boys —
In-di-gestion!


source: https://www.lyricsondemand.com/soundtracks/o/oliverlyrics/foodgloriousfoodlyrics.html

Anyone who knows me also knows that I love my food. I’m quite partial to a bottle of plonk or two, or bolly if there’s some around (Prosecco will also suffice! 😉 )

Only one….ONLY ONE?! Oh my goodness! This is similar to a challenge I had the other week with hubby where we had to list our Top 100 Singles. It was just a thing to do to use our brains and memories. It was also difficult, and ever since I’ve been thinking of other songs I need to add, but can’t without first removing something else from the list!! Grrrr!

I’ll list my favourite meals (I’m sorry but one food, as in one item is really not what I understand from this challenge, but if it were to be then that’d be easy – raw carrots) and then try to whittle it down to one and will do the same with the beverage.

I love a decent roast dinner. My favourite, as a typical British/English person is Roast Beef and Yorkshire Puddings with Horseradish Sauce. Mint sauce on the mash potato is also a necessity *drool*

spaghetti-bolognese-106560-1

I love Spaghetti Bolognaise. I know that this is a British meal and not the traditional Italian meal – I had an Italian friend once who made Spag Bol the Italian way and it is nothing like the meal we prep and eat here.

Steak. Griddled. Medium-rare. Preferably with a large green salad (and a decent glass of wine).

Any fish. Cooked any way.

Poached eggs on toast.

Actually toast, lots and lots of toast. With real butter on it, not margarine, butter. I don’t mind lower fat butter it’s just that taste of melting butter on toast. On the subject of toast it has to be toasted bread – not only shown the toaster – y’know the same colour it went into the toaster but drier and slightly warm – that is yuk – stale bread! I like a deep golden brown, and I don’t mind a bit of dark brown to black. That stuff is tasty *drools again* Marie Claire did an article back a couple of years ago with a toast grade image. Apparently the way you like your toast can give little secrets to you personality type. Here’s the link: Who Even Are You? This Is What Your Morning Toast Says About You Read more at http://www.marieclaire.co.uk/news/who-even-are-you-just-look-at-your-toast-to-find-out-16729#kMKUytGy3KstHttE.99

toastlandscape-1

 

Now, I’d eat anything from A6 diagonally to F1. This is supposed to mean I’m patient. Hubby will tell you I’m one of the least patient people alive today! Hubby likes his toast in all the areas which look almost the same as the table the sices are laid on! Stale bread!

white-rabbit-sitting-on-carrot

I guess toast would be my one thing, as long as there was a plentiful supply of butter. If not possible just give me the raw carrots!

 

 

Now onto beverages. Again this is difficult. I love so many of them. There’s the good ole British cuppa; a hot mug of tea, wherever I am in the world makes me feel home (apart from the U.S -sorry but tea is not tea with the tea or tea bags you can buy there!) It’s that moment when you’ve had your first sip from the mug when you smile contentedly and feel your shoulders relax down – your body is sighing with the joy. I do love coffee though. I like it pretty strong – a 4 or 5 strength here in the UK taste strength guides, but favour Italian coffee, less bitter but just a deep roasted taste (thank you Costa!)

I love alcohol. Does there have to be a list of those I like or enjoy? We’ll be here until this time next week making that particular list! 😉

I enjoy a good bottle glass of wine. My favourites are a good Sauvignon Blanc or Australian or New Zealand Chardonnay, preferably on the dryer side. I loved Reds but my stomach didn’t. I can tolerate a good Rosé though.

I love cocktails. We have a well-stocked cocktail bar here in our cellar bar. I’m sure we have more alcohol in there than both the village pubs!! I can drink cocktails without getting completely ratted/out of it like I was a few weeks ago on just wine. The funny thing with our bar is that neither hubby or I are big drinkers. I had a problem about 10 or so years ago when downing a bottle of vodka over 2 weekend nights (at home) was becoming too easy. I took a step back and stopped, other than socially, where I will drink if I feel comfortable enough to relax and loosen up a bit.

Water is also good. I like water. I love the range of cordials which are available now. I swap flavours every fortnight – 2 bottles per fortnight. On the first week maybe Lemon squash for half the time and Cherries and Berries, and the second week Orange, Lemon & Pineapple for half the time with Summer Fruits as the other.

I’m finding this more difficult. I know I couldn’t only live on wine or alcohol as a beverage – unless there were health guarantees by drinking one particular type of alcohol. I think I’d probably just go for fresh, ice-cold water.

water

thought of the day, Uncategorized

Thought of the Day – House Hunting, etc (with the emphasis more on etc!)

We’ve decided we are going to move. This is the official announcement. My Mum knows, I mentioned it briefly to my older sister in a Facebook message about 3 weeks ago, and a couple of friends know.

It’s been there on the distant horizon for a few months now due to me struggling to live in a property with stairs. The climb is agony every night, and coming down in the morning. Then after showering/bathing, and having to contemplate going back up to dress, dry my hair and put my face on…too much pain. We’ve considered is there somewhere we could put a downstairs bedroom. Quick answer is NO. It’s not practical.

We bought this cottage coming up 8 years ago, pretty much as a dilapidated shell and restored it over 18 months (and have continued to work on it since). As we were restoring it we lived in a 34′ x 12′ static caravan. Anyone in the UK who is old enough will remember the Winter of 2010 for its’ record-breaking low (and sustained) temperatures. Here, we experienced minus 17/18. When you consider a static caravan is constructed from sheets of steel with a thin layer of polystyrene between…that was us! Our water supply froze, as did our waste pipe! It made for an unpleasant December and we were so grateful for the thaw just before Christmas! Our electricity bill was probably the same as the rest of the streets houses combined – I’d only ever seen an electricity bill for more when I worked for a large accounting firm’s accounts department! I did actually blog the restoration. I took it down some time ago but have a Facebook page Our Cottage Restoration or short link  for anyone that wants to go and take a look. As the cottage is Grade II listed we joined the The Listed Property Owners Club and they serialised the blog, including my pictures in their magazine. I have copies which I’ll leave for the people who purchase the cottage as it will tell the story of how it was saved from the elements at 300+ years old!

Anyway, I digress. It was in May 2011, when we were working on the cottage that my hips became an issue. I got stuck having crouched down to put some meat into the oven for dinner. I was stuck for 10-15 minutes. Hubby was working with noisy power tools at the rear of the cottage and didn’t hear me calling him.  When I got up I was in agony.

From then til now has been a rollercoaster ride of surgeries, emotions and the experience has been life-changing. So much has been ‘taken away’ – firstly, my job, then my social life, then my career ambition – researcher and lecturer. I don’t give up easily and I have fought very hard to try to continue with working towards my career choice as there’s no reason why I can’t lecture from a wheelchair if I have to right? I started my MA studies. I was so excited and happy to be there, despite having to use the wheelchair to move around the campus, but just 6 weeks in to my programme of study I had new pain, and it was excruciating. After a wait for an MRI and a clinic appointment with a neurosurgeon I discovered a disc had herniated and was compressing my spinal cord – so badly that I was at risk of permanent paralysis if it was left. So just a week and a day later I was on the operating table – in a private hospital (NHS to be billed).

So. House hunting. It’s hard to do. You need a certain amount of space and fitting it all in to one floor makes for a different challenge to any we’ve had before. We’re not able to have this valued until the beginning of May – we have commitments for the remainder of April so we’re not sure what figure we’re working with but have gone for a cautious amount based on a figure between the minimum and maximum we feel we’ll achieve here.

Originally, when we bought here the idea was that it’d be our retirement fund – we’d bought it for cash, having sole our Cambridge property for enough to pay off the mortgage, buy this and have enough to get the restoration well underway. The longer we’ve lived here the more we love it and its people. We have so many beautiful friends and the support we’ve had from them at different times during the last few years isn’t possible to write in such a small space (I know a blog post can be as long as I like-ish, but there just aren’t enough words to describe the very special people who live here). Our retirement, as we saw it, prior to the hip/spine journey, was to sell up after 7-10 years and move to Tenerife or down to the South West of the UK.

Our bungalow search began in Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, North Devon. We’d love Cornwall but it really is that one drive too far from the rest of the country, and further from East Anglia. With hubby’s mental health issues and my physical issues it’d probably be too much for either of us to cope with so without my knowledge hubby started searching Norfolk. The Norfolk coast is beautiful. When I was growing up we holidayed in Great Yarmouth every summer. My Nan had a B&B there…that’s another story…

Anyway, long-story-short, cause I can do that sometimes (!) hubby found 2 amazingly gorgeous bungalows! I then found 2 more. We’re viewing 3 this Friday. We’re viewing our favourite next Thursday. The others we found today we’re holding back on until we’re valued and on the market.

We’re hoping to sell fairly quickly. We have a couple of issues with selling early but will have to work around that if it happens. Firstly, we’re holding our 25th wedding anniversary party here at the end of June – invitations have gone out already – we feel this will also be a goodbye (but see you soon) to friends in the village. Secondly, we’ve already booked our Summer holiday to Kent for mid-July – Oh, and then there’s my surgery in the 3rd week of May!

Do we sell but complete the week after our holiday, or complete, move, then holiday? Questions, questions…I promise to share the results in the coming weeks and months.

Until next time 😉