Monday 29 March 2021

Book Review - The Angel & The Cad - Geraldine Roberts

The Angel and the Cad

The Angel and the Cad by Geraldine Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At the age of sixteen, Catherine Tylney Long became the wealthiest heiress in England, and the public found their 'angel'. Witty, wealthy and beautiful, Catherine was the most eligible of young ladies and was courted by royalty but, ignoring the warnings of her closest confidantes, she married for love. Her choice of husband was the charming but feckless dandy William Wellesley Pole, nephew of the Duke of Wellington. The pair excited the public's interest on an unprecedented scale with gossip columns reporting every detail of their magnificent home in Wanstead, where they hosted glittering royal fetes, dinners and parties. But their happiness was short-lived; just a decade later William had frittered away Catherine's inheritance and the couple were forced to flee into exile. As they travelled across Europe, they became embroiled in a series of scandals that shocked the public and culminated in a landmark court case. Meticulously researched and rich with dazzling detail, The Angel and the Cad is a tale of love and betrayal that twists and turns until the final page.  

I read this as a "historical" book for a book club challenge but also because of its link to where I live. It's the non fictional account of the marriage of Catherine Tylney Long to William Wellesley Pole who for some time resided in Wanstead House, which stood in what is now Wanstead Park, part of Britain's first public open space, managed by the Corporation of London and part of Epping Forest.  I have enjoyed many a walk there.

It is not a happy story but the amount of detail included by the author is impressive. Catherine was an unusual woman in that having become the wealthiest heiress in England at the time, she married for love. But she lived to regret her decision.

The book follows her life and the awful behaviour of her husband and gives a clear view of what life was like in Regency England. Women did not have rights back then but Catherine was an intelligent woman and she came to pave the way for change by successfully fighting for the custody of her children.

The narrative of the book is very matter of fact (I would imagine in audible form it would sound like a documentary) but the details and the twists and turns of Catherine's life made it very interesting and kept me engrossed. It's an impressive debut novel.

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21 in 21 - Weekly Photo #12 - w/c 22/3/21


Didn't get out much to take any interesting photos but....


Had the company of this gorgeous Grandson yesterday.  He's 6 months old already!


Friday 26 March 2021

Friday's Fave Five - 26/3/21


And it's Friday again.  Another week done in Lockdown, which I'm finding really hard.  I haven't had much enthusiasm for blogging lately or much else BUT 2 things on my 21 in 21 list are to be positive and to complete this meme each week.

So here we go:

1)  I'm grateful that we didn't downsize when we moved and we still have enough room to have family here.  We had my daughter and her family here last weekend from Friday until Monday.  They've had a problem at their house so they decamped to here.  It's lovely being able to spend time with them all but it's also nice to have peace and quiet when they go home. 

2)  I got to meet up with my lunching ladies last week.  Outside of course and socially distanced.  It was good to see them after such a long time.  Even if it was raining on and off! 

3)  I had an online chat with my cousins last Friday.  One of their daughters had Covid but seems to be recovering.  

4)  Covid testing is now widely available to families with kids in school and we were glad of that this week as a member of staff at Grandson Nathan's school had tested positive so his class were all sent home.  Fortunately Nathan and his Mummies all tested negative and have all been fine. 

5)  The clocks go forward this weekend!  Days will seem longer, spring is definitely here and on Monday our restrictions start to ease - we can meet up with 6 people outside or 2 families.  It's a start to getting back to a new normal.  Whatever that may be.

So despite not being in the most positive frame of mind I am aware that I have lots to be thankful for including Susanne at Living to Tell the Story who hosts this meme.

Book Review - This is going to hurt - Adam Kay

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Welcome to the life of a junior doctor: 97-hour weeks, life and death decisions, a constant tsunami of bodily fluids, and the hospital parking meter earns more than you.

Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, Adam Kay's This is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking, this diary is everything you wanted to know - and more than a few things you didn't - about life on and off the hospital ward.

There are definitely some funny moments in this book that I found myself laughing at but it is also a sad reflection of how undervalued NHS staff were at the time it was written and unfortunately still are. It's no spoiler (given that the blurb on the book states the author, Adam Kay, is now a comedian and writer for TV) that there wasn't going to be a happy ending.

My main criticism of the book though is the use of footnotes. Everytime a medical term needs to be explained or further information given about an entry it's done as a footnote. These are marked with a tiny asterisk in the main text that are often hard to spot. For me this totally interrupted the flow of the book. I'd find myself reading an entry (the book is a series of diary entries) then looking at the footnotes, tracking them back to the main text. The layout of these footnotes wasn't always great either - they would be continued on the next page due to spacing issues. You'd be forgiven for thinking I'm picky but of the 263 page issue I read, 128 pages had footnotes. I only finished the book on my second attempt. I think I gave up the first time due to the lack of flow.

It's still worth a read though. But not if you're squeamish or don't wish to know the sort of things that doctors have to extract from all bodily orifices!

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Tuesday 16 March 2021

21 in 21 - Weekly Photo #11 - w/c 15/3/21

We're still getting to know our local area and I'm trying to vary my walking routes when I can.

Today I took a shortcut under the railway line and spotted these:

This was on the path that runs alongside the river which runs under the railway at this point

And this is on the house that the path leading under the railway runs beside. 

Normally we walk past the shortcut and continue up the road so I'd not noticed the owls before.

Monday 15 March 2021

21 in 21 - Weekly Photo #10 - w/c 8/3/21

It was Mother's Day yesterday here in the UK.  We had a nice day with lunch at my son's.

We received this from my other son and his family:

Our grandchildren!  Miles, Noah, Vinny, Rory, Ella & Nathan.  I love it!

Saturday 13 March 2021

Friday's Fave Five - 12/3/21


Yes I know, it's Saturday, but I'm sure I'm not the only one having trouble keeping track of the days in this pandemic.  Thankfully Susanne, of Living to the the Story, reminds us every Friday to look back on the week for our five favourite things.  You can find her blog here and see who else is taking part. 

Here are my 5 for this week:

1)  I'm a great Godmother!  Not sure that's actually a thing but our Goddaughter gave birth to a little boy just over a week ago.  He's adorable and although there were concerns beforehand that he might be small he tipped the scales at 6lb 10oz so not too little.  Mother and baby are doing well.

2)  We spent time with Grandsons Rory and Vinny (and their parents) last weekend.  We're still in lockdown but we can provide childcare for them within the rules.  We spent some time indoors but we also went for a walk.

3)  We provided childcare for Rory on Wednesday at our house.  We had his Mummy and brother too but we're all still being careful and avoiding things like busy shops, public transport etc.  It's been so hard keeping to the rules and their family have found it particularly challenging on the days Rory is not at nursery, to have them all in a 2 bedroom flat while Daddy is trying to work at home.

4)   Grandson Nathan is settling at Nursery.  He seems to be enjoying it but the distance from their home is a bit of a challenge.  Fortunately it's only a 10 minute drive from us so we can be on standby if Mummy has a problem getting back from work in time although most days she comes to us to work from home.  Of course their plan was to have moved nearer by now but moving in a pandemic (and with a new baby to consider) is not easy.

5)  I've managed to get out for a walk 4 days this week despite very changeable weather.  Somedays it's been harder than others to motivate myself but I'm pleased to have done it.

All very family orientated this week but it's hard sometimes to find things to write about.  I've just made arrangements to meet up with a friend in the park for a walk next week - we can do this now and even sit on a bench with a hot drink!  Something different to look forward to.

Kids went back to school this week too, with lots of them being tested beforehand and during this week.  Hopefully we won't see another surge in cases.  Numbers have all been going in the right direction recently.  I'm sure many parents were glad to be done with home schooling.

Monday 8 March 2021

Book Review - The Other Passenger - Louise Candlish

The Other Passenger

The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the morning of 27th December, Jamie Buckby takes the commuter riverboat from his home in St Mary’s, southeast London, to work in Central London, noting that his good friend and neighbour Kit Roper has not turned up for the 7.30am service they usually catch together.
At the London Eye, where he disembarks for his job in a café behind the South Bank Centre, Jamie is met by the police. Kit has been reported missing by his wife.
As Jamie is taken in for questioning, he discovers someone saw him arguing with Kit on the boat home late on Friday night. The other passenger believes Jamie committed murder.
But what really happened? 

This started off slowly for me. The story is told from the POV of Jamie, a 40 something man, who works in a cafe, travelling to work on the London Riverboat service. His partner Clare works in property and they live rent free in a large house that belongs to Clare's parents. They form an unlikely friendship with a younger couple, Melia and Kit (Christopher).

The book starts with Kit disappearing at the end of 2019 and Jamie recounting the previous year and their developing friendship. It's a bit dull in places, particularly at the start, and the characters are not very likeable but then comes a twist. And another. Things were not as I expected and I was hooked. I needed to see what was going to happen. I read late into the night!

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21 in 21 - Weekly Photo #9 - w/c 1/3/21

One down, one to go!