Friday, 27 February 2015

Recent Reads


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I thought I’d change how I post my book reviews this year, instead of a post per book, I shall just review a few, or one, or lots depending on how I feel.
Lately I’ve been reading some thrillers, but as you can see, I can’t turn down any books about a tea shop.
The book of you by Clare Kendal.
A terrifying psychological thriller about obsession and power, perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep.
Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. He won’t leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. He is always there.
Being selected for jury service is a relief. The courtroom is a safe haven, a place where Rafe can’t be. But as a violent tale of kidnap and abuse unfolds, Clarissa begins to see parallels between her own situation and that of the young woman on the witness stand.
Realizing that she bears the burden of proof, Clarissa unravels the twisted, macabre fairytale that Rafe has spun around them – and discovers that the ending he envisions is more terrifying than she could have imagined
I chose this book as a possible read for my Book Club. It wasn’t chosen in the end but I read it anyway. I haven’t read anything like this before, and really liked it. It was a gripping read, but pretty dark compared to my usual reads. I found some of it quite disturbing and found myself wondering what makes some authors want to write books like this. Doing the research must be quite harrowing sometimes.  Having read Gone Girl and before I go to Sleep, I would agree if you enjoyed those as I did, you will probably enjoy this as well.
I like to think if I were ever the victim of a stalker I would be able to get rid of them pretty quickly, I thought I would find Clarissa annoying and weak, but this was not the case at all, and I found the story very believable. I read this in a about 4 days.
The Teashop on the Corner  by Milly Johnson.
At her beloved husband's funeral, Carla Pride discovers that Martin never divorced his first wife and has been living a double life with her. And his other wife, Julie Pride, is determined to take everything from Carla - her home, her money, and her memories.
When Will Linton's business goes bust he at least thinks that with the support of his trophy wife Nicole he will rise to the top again. But Nicole isn't going to stick around with 'a loser' and Will finds himself at rock bottom.
Molly Jones is being bullied into going into a retirement home by her 'concerned' daughter-in-law Sherry and son Gram. Then the love of Molly's life walks in through her door - a man who broke Molly's heart into little pieces many years ago. But he says he is dying and wants to spend the time he has left with her.
All people in need of a little love and compassion which they find by chance in the stationery and teashop on the corner run by the ever-cheerful Leni, a woman that site developer Shaun McCarthy finds annoying beyond annoying for her ability to remain unrealistically upbeat about everything.
But is the world of Leni Merryman as full of rainbows and sparkles as everyone thinks? Or is her smile papering over many cracks in her heart that will soon be shattered unwittingly by her new friends?
Of course I was going to buy this. But you may be surprised if I told you it sat on my TBR pile for many months. I’m not sure why, maybe I was scared that it would be all fluff and no substance and that I would be disappointed. I never want to be disappointed by a book about a Tea Shop. I enjoyed this book a lot. I loved all the characters, found them all to be people I would like in real life, felt for them and their personal dramas and the fact that the tea room is also a literary themed gift shop. Well that just did it really. You may have noticed an abundance of novels based around baking, tea rooms, sweet shops etc at the moment, and I would like to bet there isn’t many I haven't read, so you might think I would be past it. This one was up to scratch though. This isn’t the one that will make me stop buying them.
Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories
Mr D bought me this for valentines day. It’s difficult to buy a reader a book, you just never really know if they have read it or if they want to, you don’t really know if it’s in one of the many piles of books dotted around the house waiting to be read. But he said he saw this and knew this was the one. Which is quite a feat because until lately I really haven't read a lot of thrillers. Being hard back he was on a fair bet I wouldn’t have it as I don’t usually buy them due to them being a. too expensive and b. not very portable.
It seems every new thriller out there is being compared to Gone Girl and Before I go to Sleep. I liked this one more than the others, I read it in a couple of days, and if I didn’t have to work for a living I’d have finished it in one sitting. The story is told by the 3 female characters, one a cheat, one an alcoholic and one a liar.  Who to trust. The shocking thing Rachel sees isn’t actually that shocking, it’s not at all what I was expecting. This is a gripping who dunnit and even though I guessed the murderer quite soon I still really enjoyed the story and couldn’t put it down.
SmileX

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

This Week (so far)


list making
After a rather fun time at Grandmas this week has been pretty full already. I’ve worked 2 jobs already and will be working another 2 before breakfast tomorrow.
Talking typing of jobs I don’t know that I’ve told you all about my new job. It’s at a local coffee house which some friends have opened up. In their house. Literally. If you know anything about me and go and visit their Facebook page you will know that this a job created just for me. I think they just gave me a job because they couldn’t get me out of there actually.
So I now have 4 jobs in total. Go me.
I’ve just finished The Girl on The Train which Mr bought me for Valentines (he gets me) and ohmigoodness. I’m having a bit of a run on thrillers at the moment.
I’ve arranged for the Sky man to come and upgrade our box on Friday, which means I will be able to record programmes, series link, pause, you know all that stuff the world has been doing forever while I’ve been living in my bubble.
I’m a bit concerned what the Sky man will say about our TV. It was the latest thing when Mr was 18. Some years ago.
I found a teapot in my wardrobe.
SmileX

Monday, 23 February 2015

Healthy Breakfast? (with Bettys)


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I’ve never been much of a ‘Breakfast’ person, never mind a ‘Healthy Breakfast’. I like the idea of a nice healthy breakfast, or sometimes just any breakfast. But when I’m on an early shift that requires me to be at work at 06.45. Well a cup of tea is about all I can face at that time of day.
Lately though I’ve been discovering the importance of breakfast. I’m making an effort. I’ve discovered that if I make myself a bowl of porridge (sweetened with Demerara sugar or honey) this will last me pretty much till the afternoon.  I haven't yet added fruit to my porridge but this is something I’m thinking of for future mornings. I’ve discovered that if I do this then I’m not searching for a chocolate bar at 10.30 in the morning.
If you follow my Instagram account you will know I’ve made my regular trip to Yorkshire to visit Granny. Of course there was a trip to Bettys. Although I’ve been to Bettys many a time, I have never actually had breakfast there.
Fruit wouldn’t be my normal choice, bacon or sausage bap yes, bowl of fruit with yoghurt? Hmm not usually.
But with my new improved breakfast routine I decided to pass on the eggs benedict that sister ordered and order the Fresh Fruit and Yoghurt with a pot of Bettys Breakfast Tea.
Of course it was wonderful. Of course I sat feeling quite smug at my healthy breakfast. Of course we sat and people watched enjoying the relaxed Sunday morning atmosphere for longer than we should have.
If you’ve ever been to a branch of Bettys you will know that it is always busy. The branch in Northallerton is always heaving with customers, queuing for the tea room, or buying tea coffee or cakes from the shop. But the service never changes. No matter how busy it is the staff are always so pleasant and helpful.
I think breakfast time may be my new favourite visiting time to go.
SmileX

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Friday, 20 February 2015

There’s no place like home... except Grandma’s


gran
Yesterday I drove the 4 1/2 hour trip to Yorkshire to visit Grandma. Our usual girlie trip where the husbands are left at home to enjoy themselves fend for themselves.
Today we have been out for lunch and to the local supermarket where Granny filled the trolley with biscuits, cakes and all manor of treats. It’s tough when you can’t get out to browse the shops yourself without help and as Granny gets a hot meal in the restaurant of her building once a day provided all she needs are goodies for her cupboards. I’m sure everyone we passed on the way into her building  and looked in our shopping bags would have thought those treats were all for us. I’m blaming Granny for my sweet tooth.
Tonight I’ve tapped into Grannie’s Wi Fi, opened a bottle of wine, and while Granny is watching her TV programmes I plan on catching up with some blogs.
SmileX

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Giving up

 

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The time is upon us, the time to give something  to honour the forty days when Jesus fasted in the desert and endured temptation by the devil.

When I was little I went to a Catholic school, I would always give up sweets for Lent. But I seem to remember hoarding sweets until Easter when I would  pig out on them. On our way to school we would spend pennies' found in the gutter on sweets, and I’m pretty certain this did not stop during Lent. (Those were the days of half penny and penny sweets) I’m not sure this was the right thing to do, but I also don’t remember anything said that I couldn't. And there, I wasn’t struck by lightening. FYI. That practise of finding pennies on the roadside is now apparently called Wombling, so I’ve read on the Money Saving Forums. I really should start taking that up again, I still do like a sweetie or two.

I fell off the Religious waggon a long time ago, It’s not something I really think about. The only reason I know that it’s that time of year is because I read just now that people are Tweeting that they are giving up Twitter. Fancy that.

SmileX

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Saturday, 14 February 2015

It all started on Valentines Day


adventures
Valentines Day 26 years ago. I had been ‘hanging out’ along the sea front with my friends, we were probably arguing over who was the most gorgeous brother in Bros, deciding whether to go up to the pool/snooker club at the top of the arcade and buy a coke to sit on the balcony with, (& try and look cool) or to spend our last pennies on a game of Nemesis. (FYI I was never cool)
I had gotten a lift home with a boy. Those were the days we would get in boys cars and just ‘go for a cruise’ around the town. Because petrol didn’t cost the earth back then, and it seemed like all boys who picked up young girls weren’t serial killers. (Phew) This particular boy we kind of knew though, he was a friend of a friend, I’d seen him on my bus to college, and we had gotten lifts with him before and survived, I’d eaten his chocolates (which he later tells me he left on his dash board on purpose) so we decided he was ok. Plus my friend fancied the pants off him.
He dropped off my friends first, and when I arrived at my front door there was a big (BIG) valentine card in the porch. With a red rose. (Remember when you thought the bigger the better when it came to cards?) It wasn’t signed, but I did wonder.
I thought it was sweet, but a bit awkward. (Remember one of my friends fancied the pants off him)He admitted the next day that the card was from him, he said it all in one breath as I was getting out of his car and I think I said something like oh right…thanks! and legged it inside the house. When he rang me and asked me out with said friend sitting right next to me I hesitated for a minute, asked her if she would mind and when she said no I promptly accepted. My friend didn’t talk to me for a while after that conversation.
I wonder what would have become of us if I had done the decent thing and said no to save my friends feelings.
There’s been a lot of adventures since then.
Happy Valentines!
SmileX

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Southbank. London


london
Following on from our trip to London last weekend, I thought I’d show you how pretty it is at night.
The Southbank, (the side of the Thames that the London Eye is on) is being developed constantly and has turned into a cool place to go and eat, people watch and see the sights.
We walked across the Jubilee Bridge where we got a great view of Big Ben and the London eye all lit up and pretty.
the london eye 2015
Across the river on Southbank all the trees were strewn with pretty fairy lights. Who doesn't love fairy lights!? Being late at night all the food trucks were closed although there were plenty of restaurants open, all heaving with diners. (We ended up eating out food in what seemed to be a corridor in a night club but we don’t like to remember that..)
london9
Would love to go back and get some food from one of the vans.
I think that’s the first time we’ve ever just walked around at night taking in the pretty sights and it was great. It was February, it was a bit cold, hence my new head wear I bought that day and London was buzzing.
london 2015 2
SmileX

Monday, 9 February 2015

The Shard London



The Shard
We had been thinking of going to The Shard in London for a while, and the perfect excuse was for Mr D’s birthday weekend. I booked  Bloombury Park Hotel which I found was doing a good offer for winter.
The Viewing Gallery at The Shard is on floors 68 69 and 72, you get there in a high speed lift which leaves your stomach at the bottom and is all lit up and twinkly inside.
It’s not cheap, 30.00 per person for the view. We could have got tickets for 25.00 if I had booked in advance but February in London hasn’t got the best reputation weather wise, so I decided the extra 10.00 was worth paying rather than be out of pocket for the whole amount had the weather turned and we didn’t go up at all.
london5
Our slot was 12.00, we bought the last tickets half an hour before, and we we very lucky weather wise as it did turn just as we came down. It was a pretty grey morning over London, but the views were still spectacular, we could make out all the land marks.
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The glass was a bit annoying for reflecting when taking photos, but you can probably make out the London Eye on the left of me here.
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On the top viewing floor you can see the sky. You are actually in the jagged pointy bit you see from the pictures of the outside.
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To get to the viewing areas you go in a separate entrance at the bottom of the building, but there are lots of restaurants (where you can get a view too)  a hotel, offices and residences (hmm how much would an apartment be…).
I am definitely up for going again in the summer, maybe taking in a night time view at the cafes and bars.
Have you been?
SmileX

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Sunday Thoughts (fitness)


fit
Remember when I told all about my goal to get fit this year, I thought I should confess to how it’s going every now and then.
You may be surprised to hear (I am) that I have not driven my car for 2 weeks. I should probably confess that my car has been out of action and we have been waiting for A. a shiny new part to come in the post and B. mechanic friend to come and fix her. What you take from that is up to you, would I have got Tilly (Bike) out of the garage as often if Lilly (car) was out of action? I guess we’ll never know but I can kid myself and say yes definitely I would have still been committed. *cough*
I’ve noticed a few things whilst bonding with Tilly again:
Mainly…. that it is not helpful and actually a tad irritating for co workers to exclaim ‘oh you must be mad it’s so cold out there’ on finishing a late shift (10pm) starting an early shift (7am).
Also …that it never takes as long as I think to get places, which means I’m early for everything.
The wind…. is not my friend. If the wind is there, it is always in my face. The wind is never behind me, no matter which way I turn.
It’s never actually that cold… I have mastered the art of layering up, I’ve solved the too cold without a hat too hot with a hat with one of those furry head bands that make me look like a Russian but that keeps my ears toasty and I love it.
Tilly makes people smile…. which is never a bad thing, it’s the pretty flowers around my basket.
Are you getting fit this year?
SmileX

Friday, 6 February 2015

Chase your Dreams Swap Parcel


swap parcel
It’s been a while since I took part in a swap, I got sucked into quite a few a couple of years ago. Some parcels were good, some bad, some downright weird.  Then there were disappointments. Who wants to admit to being disappointed with a parcel someone took time to send you, so I decided I needed to take a rest from them, but on seeing the Chase your Dreams swap organised by the lovely Mia I decided now would be a could time to get ‘back on the bike’ .
Teamed up with a new to me blogger Bex who blogs over at an armchair by the sea, I received my parcel. The idea being to give your partner clues to your dreams for 2015 and to look through their blog for ideas. The parcel should contain items to help achieve these goals.
The morning I went to the PO to pick up my parcel I was confused. I didn’t know what the parcel would be, so unwrapped it in the local Costa coffee shop. There gifts inside were wrapped in cute polka dot paper with little notes stuck to them. There was an awkward moment when the girls on the table next to me said ‘Happy Birthday Presumably?’ I told them no, it wasn’t my birthday I had been sent a parcel of lovely things by someone I don’t know. Before the words were even out of my mouth I knew they thought I was bonkers or lying. I could have gone on to explain ‘I write a blog’ needless to say I didn’t. Should have just pretend I was a year older.
So my first dip back into the swap pool was a success, the parcel contained these wonderful thing..
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Ready Set Novel. The clue being in the title, I have never seen this before but I think it’s exactly what I need to get my novel on the way.
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I am more than a little excited about this, and I cannot wait to start filling the pages.
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Bex knitted these gloves herself, and they are perfect for my new less driving about-more getting out there on my bike or walking promise to myself. And a cute colour too!
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And a great book of local walks. Weirdly we don’t have one of these, but we do now so this means no excuses! 
If you would like to see the parcel I sent Bex you can read her post about it here

Do you take part in many swaps?
SmileX

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

And then it all turned to crap


recovery
We had a lovely weekend in London to celebrate Mr’s birthday, I took lots of photos which I will be sorting out when I find the will.
And then this happened. With my vehicle already off the road needing new parts we took Mr’s van, which promptly broke down on the slip road of a busy dual carriage way on the way home.  Being in such place made us nervous, so we stood up the bank in the rain waiting for nice Mr Policeman to come and tow us to the nearest layby. The AA then took 2 hours to get us a recovery truck to take us home. I was cold. I stood there with my big brave girl face as there's nothing to be achieved by moaning and being miserable, but I was very cold. Even though I had 5 layers on and a hat. I could have married the recovery man right there with his heated cab. Dodgy earrings and everything. By the next morning I was ill.
The good news is Mr’s van is fixed but my vehicle is still out of action until a new part arrives. The other good news is that after 2 days I am now dressed. I intend to cycle into town. I have so much to do  and I am stealing the power cable from Mr’s computer to write this as mine decided to break. It must be the month for things to give up. Hopefully postie will be bringing me a new power cable tomorrow.
Oh and on the bright side, it’s Ukulele club tonight.
I hope your weeks gone better!
SmileX

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Sunday Thoughts..

 

home

This weekend I’ve visited the capital, Looked down from the tallest building in Europe, stood in a teenagers vomit and gotten a tow by a police car.

There really is no place quite like home.

SmileX