Saturday 28 October 2017

Review: Before I Let You In

Before I Let You In Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I found this book quite confusing. Written in several POVs it was hard to follow at times. The characters weren't particularly likeable and although that's not vital for me to enjoy a book I didn't feel invested in any of them.

Some events weren't covered in enough detail and some things just didn't seem plausible. The ending wasn't a great surprise but should have had more depth. It didn't live up to the hype.

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#SoCS - 28/10/17

It's Saturday so it's SoCS time hosted by Linda.

This week's prompt is: “which/witch/wich.” Start your post with the word “which” and try to fit the word “witch” in somewhere if you can. Bonus points if you use a word that ends in “wich.” As an added rule this week, you will lose all the points you’ve ever earned if you type “which witch is which” anywhere in your post. Have fun!

Which brings me to the subject of halloween or rather witch.  It all leads to the same end.  A night of madness.  Sorry to my friends the other side of the pond.  Halloween is still not a big thing here in the UK although every year it seems to get bigger.  It's easy to buy a pumpkin and many stores will be selling costumes and other paraphanalia.  I don't get carried away with it at all although I usually stock up on some halloween inspired chocolates or sweets so that I can reward those who are brave enough to come to the door to Trick or Treat.

It will probably provide another excuse for fireworks.  We've recently had Diwali and next week of course it's actually Bonfire night.  Personally I'll be glad to see the back of all the fireworks.  I don't mind an organised display - our local council kindly organises one just over the other side of our common so we can see most of it from the bedroom window or just by walking out on to the common by our house.   We just can't make plans to go out in the car that day as it's almost impossible to come back and find a parking space despite those attending being encouraged to travel on public transport.

I'm tired today, it's been a busy week, but I have the luxury of being cooked for by my son and DIL  We'll miss that when they move out shortly but at least today we won't be resorting to a sandwich for dinner.

Friday's Fave Five on Saturday!

Fridays are a time to look back on the week and share our blessings.
If you want to join in or check out the other participants pop over to our host Suzanne's blog at Living to Tell the Story

Well I didn't get here yesterday but I still enjoy looking back on my week and finding some blessings.

1)  Unseasonably warm weather.  We've had some lovely days this week and although the leaves are still changing colour and dropping the temperature was definitely not autumnal.

2)  A great community at church.  We usually stay after Mass for tea & coffee.  It's a good way to start your Sunday.

3)  Lots of Nathan time.  I got a call on Tuesday to see if I was able to go over - Vicky needed to be at work and Becca was exhausted so of course I went.  I took him out for a long walk so that Becca could sleep.  I was already booked to go on Wednesday as it was their 2nd wedding anniversary and they had lunch plans plus a visit to a spa in the afternoon.  I took my DIL Elizabeth with me and we took him out for a long walk again and we had a great time.  He ate his lunch (broccolli) and took a bottle.  We played for a bit and then when he started getting grumpy I managed to get him to sleep again.  Of course he woke up just before they arrived home so as they walked through the door he was screaming.  It was probably a tummy pain because immediately after we left he filled his nappy!  I think his timing was spot on but his Mummies probably didn't agree!
This photo was taken last week when Nick was there with me.

4)  A catch up with former work colleagues.  I usually rely on one of them to sort out a get together but I decided to take the initiative and invite everyone here for a change.  I asked 8 people thinking at least one or two wouldn't be free but of course they all accepted!  That's when it's handy being part of a big extended family - cooking for big numbers doesn't phase me.  We had chilli and rice followed by Eton Mess, plus:

5) Generous friends - one of my regular lunch ladies had offered to make an apple crumble for the get together.  I'm usually bad at accepting or asking for help but on this occasion I'd accepted her offer.  Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, she'd let the crumble overcook (it was a bit crunchy around the edge but perfectly edible) so she'd brought a chocolate pudding too.  It was nice to catch up and everyone seemed to enjoy the evening.  We plan to catch up again just before Christmas after our trip to Australia but I think I'll suggest the local pub for that. 

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend.

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge 25/10/17

Wednesday's Hodgepodge is brought to us courtesy of Joyce at
Pop over there to see other posts and if you want to join in add the link to your Hodgepodge blog post to the Linky List at the end of Joyce's post and don’t forget to visit at least your neighbours on the list.

1. What's surprised you most about your life or life in general? 
It doesn’t always go to plan.
2.  Sweet potato fries, sweet potato casserole, a baked sweet potato, a bowl of butternut squash soup, a caramel apple or a slice of pumpkin have to order one thing on this list right now. Which one do you go for?
Probably a caramel apple or maybe the butternut squash soup.
3. What's a famous book set in your home state? Have you read it? On a scale of 1-5 (5 is fantastic) how many stars does it rate?
Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins.  I have read it and I’d give it a 4 out of 5.
4. There are 60 days until Christmas...have you started your shopping? How do you stay organized for the holidays?
I have started my shopping (a necessity this year as we’ll be travelling from mid-November to mid-December) and I make lists, lists and then more lists!
5. October 26th is National Tennessee Day. Have you ever lived or spent any time in Tennessee? Is this a state you'd like to visit one day? The top rated tourist attractions in Tennessee are-

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Gatlinburg area), Elvis's Graceland (Memphis), Birth of the Music Biz (Memphis and Nashville), Dollywood (Pigeon Forge), Tennessee's Military Heritage (many battlefields), The Hermitage (Andrew Jackson's home), The Parthenon (Nashville), Oak Ridge American Museum of Science and Energy, Chattagnooa and the Tennessee Valley Railroad, Downtown Knoxville, Lookout Mountain, The Titanic Museum (Pigeon Forge), The Museum of Appalachia (Clinton), and The Lost Sea Adventure (Sweetwater)
How many on this list have you seen? Which one on the list would you most like to see?
I haven’t spent any time in Tennessee and I think it’s unlikely that I will although it does seem to have a lot of attractions.
6.  Insert your own random thought here.
I feel like I’ve rushed this post – it’s almost Thursday now here in the UK.  I’ve had two busy days babysitting Nathan.  It’s a lot of fun and I love doing it but it’s hard work!  But when you get to look at this cute face how can you say no?

Friday 20 October 2017

Friday's Fave Five 20/10/17

Fridays are a time to look back on the week and share our blessings.
If you want to join in or check out the other participants pop over to our host Suzanne's blog at Living to Tell the Story

1)  A meal out with hubby.  We went to an Italian Trattoria in the Queen Elizabeth Park (Olympic park).  The kids were out and it was a spur of the moment decision.  We got the bus into Stratford and then walked through the park to the restaurant.  For once I remembered to take some photos although not until we were half way through our shared starter:
Pizzetta with mozzarella, broccoletti & sausage
These were our main courses:
Potato gnocchi with radicchio, Naples sausage and white truffle oil

The lasagne tasted much better than it looked in that picture.  I forgot to take pics of the desserts but Nick had Espresso Affogato (Ice cream with coffee) and I had Tiramisu.  It was a nice meal and there are several bars and eating places at that end of the park.  However we did feel we were a bit old!  It was a nice evening and people were sitting outside but they were mainly a lot younger than us!

2)  The generosity of spirit people have.  As we walked back to the station after our meal we passed hundreds of people who were doing a night walk in aid of Dementia sufferers.  There have been a number of memory walks organised by the UK's Alzheimer's Society.  Of course this is a cause close to my heart as both my Mum and her sister succumbed to this awful disease in recent years.  Support for these, and many other charitable events is amazing, especially when everyone is starting to feel the effects of our Government's austerity measures.  I didn't get any pics of the walkers but I did snap this poor quality pic of the London stadium and The Orbit.
3)  A good report on my brother's health status.  He has been undergoing treatment for myeloma which has been successful and he's been told they will now go ahead with a stem cell transplant.  This will give him a better chance of staying in remission for longer.  Thank goodness for our NHS.

4)  Lunch with my former work colleagues on Monday.  It's been a while since our previous lunch so it was good to catch up.

5) A quiet week overall - managed to get quite a bit of reading done!

Have a good weekend.


Thursday 19 October 2017

Review: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep

The Trouble with Goats and SheepThe Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.
And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

Loved it. Set in the summer of 1976 and switching back to events in 1967 it was so evocative of that very hot summer which was just before my final year at school so I was on holiday for most of it. The characters and events ring true and it was definitely quirky at times. Not a great ending but it didn't spoil my enjoyment.

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Wednesday 18 October 2017

A non-Hodgepodge Wednesday post - 18/10/17

No Hodgepodge today as Joyce (of From this Side of the Pond) is taking a well earned break.  Just reading about her schedule often makes me feel tired!

But it's Wednesday and I usually blog today so a post is called for.

It's been quite a miserable day here today after some dry weather.  I actually managed to get my grass cut on Sunday.  It had grown quite long due to the alternating spells of sunny days followed by rain.  Each time I planned to cut it the rain came.  On Sunday we'd had a few dry days so I finally managed to get it done.  It took me ages but I'm relieved it's looking neat and tidy again.  Especially as the weather changed again on Monday.  We didn't get rain and London was fortunately not within the path of storm Ophelia which had devastating effects on Ireland but we did have an eerie afternoon.  The sky suddenly went really dark with an almost red  glow to it which was later explained as being due to sand from the Sahara being drawn over the country due to the storm!

This storm came 25 years after The Great Storm of 1987.  A BBC weather presenter, Michael Fish, said during a forecast on the day: "Earlier on today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way... well, if you're watching, don't worry, there isn't!".  The storm went on to claim 19 lives.  It took down the a tree in our garden.  But although it seems that Michael Fish believed the caller was referring to Hurricane Floyd which was approaching Florida at the time, he has never been allowed to forget what was seen as a major gaffe.

Being a wet day today I spent it at home catching up on chores but also finding time for some reading.  My current read is "The Trouble with Goats and Sheep" by Joanna Cannon which I'm enjoying.  It's set in the summer of 1976 which I remember well.  The summer was incredibly hot and we seemed to go ages without any rain and the drought was beginning to be a real problem before the hot spell broke.  I was about to start my final year at school so was at home for most of it.

Hmm looking back over this post it's easy to see why Brits have a reputation for always talking about the weather!

I could talk about Nathan but I haven't seen him since last Wednesday and won't see him until Saturday this week.  Thank goodness for Whatsapp and Lifecake.  Although it's very easy to get caught up looking at all the photos and videos and then realising that dinner plans will need to be changed as there's not enough time left to prepare the meal you'd planned!  Quick cook chicken and bacon with pasta tonight, marinaded pork chops tomorrow.

Unless I get hooked on this little man again

Friday 13 October 2017

Friday's Fave Five - 13/10/17

Fridays are a time to look back on the week and share our blessings.
If you want to join in or check out the other participants pop over to our host Suzanne's blog at Living to Tell the Story

Autumn is definitely here - we've even had to resort to putting the heating on a few times recently but the leaves are turning and soon I will be moaning about having to sweep them all up.  But for now I'm thankful for:

1)  My Friday Pilates class.  I'm enjoying the torture lol  although it's a "gentle" class so it's not supposed to be too difficult.  I'm still struggling to identify all my different muscles and get them to work but I come home feeling a sense of satisfaction.  It's an hour of "me" time that doesn't feel a guilty pleasure and it gets me up and out early with the rest of the day still ahead of me.

2)  Visas granted for Australia!  This is just an easy online application for a tourist visa but hubby has a couple few minor driving fines from years ago that he decided he needed to declare.  My application was processed almost immediately with a positive response.  His application disappeared into the ether and we waited.  Until the next day!  But all was fine.  Phew! (We've watched the TV shows on Australia's border controls.  They are fussy about who they let in!)

3)  A house with room.  Now that Son & DIL are progressing towards their own home they are starting to accept any offers of furniture from other family members.  I currently have an extra single bed in what is supposed to be my sewing room plus a chest of drawers in the lounge.  I've decided that all works on my house are now on hold until they move out and take all their stuff with them.  Seriously it's not a problem for us (yet) and I'm just so pleased for them that so far things are going well.

4)  Nathan time - I was there on Wednesday again this week.  He still seems to be showing the symptoms of teething but I think it might be a while before any teeth make an appearance.  I got to babysit him while my daughter went to get her hair cut.

5)  Ticking off the to do list!  I haven't made lots of progress this week but the things I have done had been causing me sleepless nights.  Like the visa applications, renewing our travel insurance and sorting out the medical cover and booking in hubby's CPAP machine with the airlines.  Little things but very necessary things.  Oh and our leaking fridge got replaced!  And I ordered Christmas cards.  Thinking about Christmas this early is unheard of for me but I need to be ahead of myself as we won't be back in the UK until mid December from our trip.  Now I'll just have to find time to write them lol.

Hope you enjoy your weekend.  We were at a family gathering for our Godson's 21st birthday last Saturday.  Very busy.  This weekend looks like being quieter.


Review: Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body

Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body by Sara Pascoe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was fortunate to see Sara Pascoe at a local venue before she became famous and on TV A LOT.

This book is written in the stand up style I witnessed. Long, funny monologues. But with a lot of science, common sense and personal insights thrown in. It's hard to categorise the book but it's definitely a must read, especially for men. Yes it's written from a female perspective but, as Sara rightly points out, better education is needed on how our bodies work, what makes us do the, sometime stupid, things we do and how our emotions come into play.

It also made me thankful that I've grown up in a developed society although we're still very much a work in progress.

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Wednesday 11 October 2017

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 11/10/17

Wednesday's Hodgepodge is brought to us courtesy of Joyce at
Pop over there to see other posts and if you want to join in add the link to your Hodgepodge blog post to the Linky List at the end of Joyce's post and don’t forget to visit at least your neighbours on the list.

1. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your sense of direction? 1=can't find my way out of a paper bag and 10=if I've been somewhere once I can find it blindfolded ten years later.
I’m probably an 8.  I think I have quite a good sense of direction although I did get lost navigating my way through IKEA today lol
When was the last time you looked at/used a map you could hold in your hand? (phones don't count!) 
Not recently but I do still keep a map book in the car and we’ve been on walks where we’ve used real maps – more reliable than the phone signal!
back east, down south, out west, up north
Choose one of these directional expressions and tell us why you chose it.
Up north.  London is often considered to be south so everything else must be up north!
2. Did you do more talking or listening yesterday? Is that typical? Describe your yesterday in one word.
Probably about 50-50.  Typical on a day when hubby was at home and the kids were around for dinner.  Yesterday - marking time.  Sorry I know that’s two words but I couldn’t think of one word to sum up my day of waiting for a new fridge to be delivered – late morning became 5.15 pm.
3. Time, money, water-power-resources, opportunity...which one on the list are you most guilty of wasting? What might you do to change that?
I can be guilty of all those at times although I probably don’t waste too much money and I’m definitely more conscious about wasting resources than I used to be.  I’m working on not wasting time, or feeling less guilty about it when I do.  I’m also trying to be better at saying yes to opportunities.  
4. Did your family take regular vacations when you were a kid? Tell us something you remember about a family road trip from your own childhood.
We tended to just have an annual summer holiday – we often went to a holiday camp by the sea and often that would be with other family members.  I can remember one year travelling in a convoy and one of my uncles, who was definitely a joker, giving us cards with the letter T and P on them.  He told us to hold up the T if we needed to stop for tea and P if we needed the toilet!
5. If you could grow anything you wanted, what would you grow? Why?
I always wanted to grow my hair.  I always felt long hair was more versatile but mine always seemed to get to just past my shoulders and then stop.  These days I’d probably prefer to grow some scented flowers.
6. Insert your own random thought here.
We could be empty nested again by Christmas.  Son and DIL have had their mortgage approved so another step towards having their own place. Exciting times.