Thursday 27 January 2022

What I've been reading - the January edition

 When I was at school we used to play a game called 'consequences'.  Each person has a blank sheet of paper, then you write a phrase as the first line to a story, turn over the top of the paper so the sentence is hidden and pass it onto the next person.  That person adds another sentence, folds over the paper and passes it on the next.  The last person starts their sentence 'and the consequence was ...' and writes down something that might have happened.  No one knows what the others have written and it used to have us all in giggles as the stories were read out at the end.

This game came to mind when I started reading this month's choice of book for our book club: The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley.   

Monica owns a cafe and finds a notebook which has been left behind by a customer.  Hoping to be able to track down the person who has lost it, she reads it and finds that it wasn't accidentally lost but deliberately left behind by Julian, a 79 year old widowed artist.  He has written a resume of how he lonely he is feeling, and asks the person who finds the book to add their story and pass it on. 

'Everyone lies about their lives.  What would happen if you shared the truth instead?' 

 And so the journey begins.  As more people find the journal and add their stories to the notebook they don't realise that the honesty of their stories will impact on future people who find the book.

I really enjoyed this book and loved the way the character's lives became intertwined; it's one I would definitely recommend.  


Anyway, that book only took me six days to read, so I needed to find another!  One of the bookclub members, Joanne Tracey has written a book called The Little Cafe by the Lake.  That seemed a good enough reason to read it!

I was interested to see how this one would be as it is an Australian author and set in New Zealand so a little different to normal.  

I didn't realise that it was part of a series but is easily read as a standalone book.  I soon got to grips with the family dynamics of the people involved in the story.  We, the readers, were introduced to the extended family whose lives are jogging along quite nicely and then there is the arrival of Gary, who had been previously married to one of the characters.  Why has he returned?  How will his return impact onto the family?  

This was a nice easy read and it reminded me of the TV series 'Chesapeake Shores' and there was the added bonus of some delicious recipes at the end.  By coincidence, I have previously made the chocolate dessert dish that is part of that chapter and can confirm that it is delicious!  


That left me with a week of the month left with no book to read - well we couldn't have that could we?  So I picked a random book from the kindle special offers and came up with this

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins.  

Twenty one years ago Dr Carter and his wife were murdered by their young daughter.  Sara spent the next eight years in a secure unit and is now living a new life under an assumed name.  No one knows the truth about her past and she is horrified to learn that after all these years her elder sister Shannon has agreed to give an exclusive interview about the case.  

Brinley Booth is a journalist who has been sent to cover the story at the village where the murder took place but no one that she works with realises that she knows the area all too well as she was a close friend of the two daughters before the murder took place.  While she desperately wants to put the past behind her, should she share the inside information that she has to further her career?  

Throughout the book are a series of messages between two people - but you are left guessing as to who the characters are who are corresponding with one another. The answer to this is key to how everything unravels at the end of the book.  

I found this book to be a bit challenging in places, it's definitely not a 'feel good' read but it kept me reading and there is one big twist at the end that makes you realise that not all the secrets have been revealed!  


So that was three very different styles of writing this month.  My favourite of the three was the Authenticity Project I think.  We are currently voting for the next book to read in our online book club; I'm looking forward to seeing what is on my kindle for the start of the new month.

Sunday 23 January 2022

Going back to my youth

 This weekend has been like stepping back into the 60s and 70s but not in a pleasant way.

We woke on Saturday to discover that our central heating had broken.  I can usually guess what time it is by the amount of daylight coming through the blinds and feeling the radiators to see if the heating has switched on but that morning, the radiators were stone cold even though the sun had definitely risen.  

Of course, being a Saturday the offices of the company that installed our boiler were closed and the guy who services it for us was on a weekend away.  We called the company with whom we have household insurance and it seems that we have cover for such an eventuality but although they assured us we would hear from an engineer within 24 hours, at the time of typing this 23 hours have passed!

But it hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be, even though temperatures outside are averaging about 5 degrees, at least it isn't snowing ⛄

The reason it is like stepping back in time is because I grew up in a house built in the 50s when houses did not have central heating.  We had a coal fire in the living room which had a boiler behind it which heated the water and that was our only source of heat.  Double glazing?  That was still many years to come.  We had single glazed, metal framed windows and in the winter, they would be frozen on the inside as well as the outside!  The bathroom had a heater which was part of the ceiling light so the first person to wake in the morning put the heater on so we had a nice warm bathroom to get washed and dressed in.  I don't honestly remember ever being really cold though!  

So we channeled our inner 60s childhood, lit the gas fire in the lounge and brought in the small electric radiator we keep in the conservatory to heat just one room nicely.  Water bottles put in our bed half an hour before bedtime and of course wearing lots of warm layers.  This was also a time when enjoying yarn related crafts come into its own.  I knew those three blankets I crocheted during lockdown would come in useful - and there's nothing quite so warm as a pair of hand knitted socks!  

Of course I don't need to tell you who was in prime position in front of the fire do I? 

The other eventful thing that happened on Saturday was that the alarm went off on my car.  For no reason whatsoever.  Not only that but it wouldn't switch off!  I called out the Mini Assistance company and the engineer located the problem which was in the unit which houses the rear view mirror.  He opened it up, shut things off, switched them back on again and all was silent.  Kind of the car's equivalent of turning a computer off and then on again I guess.  Five minutes after he drove away - the alarm started again (my neighbours must hate me!) I managed to call him back and he said that there may be either a software issue or a part may need to be replaced but either way it needed to be checked out at the service department of the garage.  So that's where my little Mini is now, probably annoying the life out of anyone who lives nearby the workshop.

I'm hoping for a less eventful, warmer week ahead!

Thursday 20 January 2022

Word on the street

 Or should that say 'Wordle on the street'?  

I'd been seeing posts on social media of people sharing grids of black, yellow and green boxes, all tagged with the word 'wordle'. I was intrigued.  So I googled it and found out that it was a daily word game where you have to guess a five letter word in less than six or less tries.  

I should have known that once I'd found out what it was I would have to try it and then that would be it, I'd be hooked.

Here's a screenshot of a blank grid.  You think of a five letter word and enter it.  If you have a correct letter in the wrong place, it turns yellow.  If you have the right letter in the right place it turns green.  Incorrect letters go black.  Then you have a second try given the information you have learnt and so on.  The aim is to find the word in the least goes as possible. My first game was not impressive - it took me six tries to find the word.  But I had learnt from my mistakes and the next day it took me five.  Today I managed it in three - I really enjoy it and it is a nice start to the day to get your brain up and running.

Are you a 'Wordler'?  If you fancy joining in, you can find it here

If you do join in, it's worth mentioning that sometimes they use the same letter twice. And there was a very controversial day last week when apparently they used the American spelling of something which meant there was a 'u' missing in the word.  This did not go down well in the Wordle community in the UK I can tell you! 

Monday 17 January 2022

Me on Monday

 It was a 'getting back to normal routines' week last week.  

  • Nice easy Monday
  • childminding Tuesday 
  • and Wednesday 
  • Zumba Thursday 
  • a meal out with friends on Friday

Cheers to the weekend!

So, where does this Monday find me?  

Remember the Boxing Day that we never had the day after Christmas?  It's now rescheduled for the 30th and in an attempt to revive the Christmas spirit I'm going to get a few little gifts for everyone so a little bit of retail therapy will be going on later today.

Monday also finds me engrossed in the UK news headlines at the moment.  I don't think I have ever been so cross with the people supposedly in charge of us.  Every time you think it can't get any worse, it does.  Aargh!

Monday is on the diary for being the first day of my seriously stepping away from all those post Christmas treats that 'needed to be eaten up'.  I have my meal plans ready for each day and will be trying hard not to supplement all the healthy food with chocolate delights.  I did say 'trying' to - there's never any guarantees 😉

Come back next week and see how successful I was!


Monday 10 January 2022

10 on the 10th

 Today I'm joining in with 10 on the 10th, hosted by Leslie.

This month's collection is 10 prayers, wishes, hopes and goals for the next year.  I'm not good with New Year Resolutions so maybe this will be a better way of thinking about things I would like to see happen in 2022.

  • It goes without saying that first on the list is my hope that my family and friends all stay safe and well in the coming year
  • I intend to speedily return to my per-Christmas weight; having Paul in isolation meant we were indoors for 10 days with too much chocolate covered temptation
  • I am hoping that we can get to go to different places each month, even if it isn't far away, it would be good to find 12 new places to visit
  • Our son gifted us a voucher for a hotel website and my goal is to find somewhere to go for a night away hopefully sometime around my birthday in March
  • Last year we did a lot of socialising in the month before Christmas and then nothing in December - it was all or nothing! This year I intend to make sure we go out for one meal a month even if it is just lunch out in a pub.  Obviously this will not help my second comment ...
  • This year we plan to replace the flooring in our conservatory.  This has been on the 'to do' list for the last two years.  It HAS to happen in 2022
  • I really hope that we will get to go overseas on holiday this year - we used to go away at least twice a year before 'you know what' changed everything 
  • I desperately hope that this year we find a way to live with this virus in a way which allows us all, but in particular the young, to live our lives to the full, to socialise and learn in a more relaxed way
  • Over the last few months I feel like I have lost something in my blogging, so my goal for that is to find a bit of momentum to make better blog posts
  • Lastly, I would like to challenge myself to read a little more.  I'm not sure I could manage two books a month, but maybe 18 over the year?  I probably ought to investigate the Good Reads website.  Would I find anyone I know on there?
So that is my ten.  I actually found this harder than I thought I would!  I'll be interested to see what other people choose for their 10 on the 10th.

Sunday 9 January 2022

One Photo - Twenty Words


Christmas was two weeks ago, so I shouldn't have been surprised to see that Tesco was already selling Easter eggs 😬

Monday 3 January 2022

What I've been reading - the December edition

 Are you the kind of person who likes to escape for a while with a good book?  I find that I have to read at least one chapter of a book before I turn off the light to go to sleep and I know how much I appreciate book recommendations so thought I would start to note down books that I read each month too.

The book that our book club chose for December was quite expensive to purchase even on Kindle (I guess that means it had only just been published in the UK) so I went rogue and chose my own December read.

I wanted a book that would be a nice easy read and the book I chose was One Day in December by Josie Silver

 It follows the story of Laurie, who looks out of the window of a bus and catches the eye of a man at the bus stop.  She feels a real connection with him but then the bus drives away and she spends months hoping that she will see him again.  (at this point I wondered if this was going to be 'my kind of book' or if it was just going to be a romance story with a predictable happy ever after storyline)  Later that year, her best friend Sarah introduces her to her new boyfriend with whom she has fallen in love.  Laurie cannot believe it when it turns out to be the man from the bus stop.  She's desperately upset because as she gets to know him through Sarah it seems that he was the kind of man that she had imagined for so many months.  Of course she can't say anything to Sarah, and it seems that Jack doesn't remember their brief encounter.  

The story takes you through ten years of friendship, love and loss.  It was easy to read and I couldn't wait to read 'just one chapter more' each night to see how it would all end.  I was not disappointed.


The next book was I Know What You've Done by Dorothy Koomson.  

Imagine opening your front door to find one of your neighbours on the doorstep, who has been violently attacked and who thrusts a book into your hands just before collapsing claiming that 'I know what you've done'.  That's how the book starts.  After the ambulance has taken Priscilla to hospital, Rae is shocked to find that the book is actually a journal of information that Priscilla has been compiling about all her neighbours.  She knows that she really should hand the book to the police, but in flicking through the pages she sees her husband's name and decides to hold onto it and discover what secrets have been written down.  And it seems that everyone in the street has something to hide!  But, will the person who tried to silence Priscilla now try to silence Rea?  Let's just say that you don't know what goes on behind closed doors, and who knows what secrets your neighbours may be keeping! I really enjoyed this book and was kept guessing right up until the end.

So those are the books that I ended the year with and our book club has already chosen January's book.  It was the one I voted for so hopefully it will be a good one.  

Watch this space!