Monday 27 February 2023

What I’ve been reading in February

 This month’s book club choice is All the Broken Places by John Boyne

As you can see, this month I have the actual book rather than a kindle download!  The price of the book to download was higher than I wanted to spend at the time that I looked, but a search on Music Magpie found me a hardback copy for £6 less than Amazon.  I know I didn't get it immediately, but it only took 48 hours to arrive on my doorstep.  Plus I can pass this on to a charity shop so someone else can read it after I have finished.  Anyway, onto my review!

This book is the sequel to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

The book moves between 1946 and present time and we meet Gretal Fernsby, an elderly lady living in an apartment in a prestigious London flat.  She is a widow with a grown up son about to embark on his fourth marriage.  Her downstairs neighbour has moved out and she is anxious about who her new neighbours will be.  

Going back to 1946, we learn of Gretal and her mother leaving their homeland in search of safety.  Her father has been hanged and her brother has died.  They need to find a new home where they are not judged by the deeds of her father.  If you have read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas you will already have met Gretal's brother, Bruno.  At which point you will realise that you are in for an emotional read.

The new downstairs neighbours are not the quiet, happy family that she was hoping for and Gretal soon discovers that the husband is hiding his own secret which endangers his wife and son.

I would love to expand more as there are many layers to this story, but am anxious not to reveal any 'spoilers'.  I really enjoyed it, it was well written and the moves from year to year and place to place are well spaced and flow well to fill in the missing parts of Gretal's story.

The next book I chose has recently been made into a film with Tom Hanks.  A Man called Ove by Fredrik Backman.

When we first meet Ove he is in the process of trying to buy a computer.  Having picked up a box which contains an 'O Pad' he can't understand why he can't connect a keyboard.  He has no patience with the young sales assistant who quickly hands him over to a colleague.  We are already getting an insight into the attitude of Ove.  We next see him when his is conducting his daily early morning routine of inspecting his neighbourhood.  Grumpy, and insistent on the strict following of rules, Ove is not happy about having been made to vacate his post of Chairman of the Residents' Association when clearly all the other residents are idiots.  

Oh how I grew to love Ove and see behind all his idiosyncrasies.  I didn't want the story to end.  The characters were so well described and it was interesting to see how they all had a part in Ove's life.  The story is neatly tied up at the end where we learn of the exact reason why he is in that technology shop in the first place but view the exchange with more awareness of why Ove is the way he is.

It has left me wanting to see the film as all through the book I could see and hear Tom Hanks!  

Friday 24 February 2023

#WBOYC The February edition

Last month Australian Deb from the other Deb's World used the initials from her WOTY to highlight things she'd done in the month so I am brazenly blog-lifting her idea as a different way of seeing 'What's been on my calendar'


Feeling tidier after having a hair cut - I feel like I need a change next time but can't decide whether or not to go shorter


Eating and exercising.  Two meals out with friends and four Zumba lessons.  I need to keep/get fit because I have been busy arranging something to go on our July calendar, we have ...


... Booked our summer holiday - We have a week in Sicily on the calendar now, I'm anxious to leave winter behind so it is lovely to have something overseas planned even if I do have to wait five months!


Reading our online book club's choice All the Broken Places by John Boyne.  This is the sequel to The Boy in the Striped Pyjama and was a good pick.  I'm also reading A Man Called Ove which is now a film with Tom Hanks in the main role.  I'm really enjoying it and think that Tom Hanks is the perfect actor to play the character of Ove.  


Unpicking a few rows of crochet that I tried to do while watching the last episode of Happy Valley - honestly, I'll never know why I thought I could concentrate properly on both at the same time! Have you been watching it?  Such a brilliant drama - the acting was superb. Want to see how the blanket is coming along? There is at least one mistake that I know of but I'm hoping that no one else will notice it!


Also booked a long weekend away in May to one of our favourite places in the UK - Southwold.  This will be Coco's holiday too as we've booked a dog-friendly cottage.  In fact the whole of Southwold is dog friendly so we feel very comfortable taking her with us. 


Returned our Covid tests to the Office of National Statistics.  Every month we are sent a PCR test and a blood antibody kit which we have to return within 14 days.  It helps the ONS calculate the amount of people who may have Covid without having any symptoms.  In return for us doing that we are sent a £20 voucher - we've been doing this for two years now and I'm wondering how much longer they will ask us to continue.


Yes to all the pancakes on Shrove Tuesday! We can have pancakes any day in the year, why do I only think about making them when Shrove Tuesday appears on the calendar?

So would you like to see how February looked so far - 1 Second Every Day?

Now please pop over to the Australian Deb's World and see what she packed into her busy February!  

Monday 20 February 2023

It's all in the accessories

 You'll have heard me mention my Zumba exercise class in previous monthly round ups and how much I enjoy that hour of dancing, so for this Monday's post I thought I would share a little of what we do.  

My instructor is a powerhouse of energy - and her enthusiasm is so contagious.  We are all ladies of a certain age so our version of Zumba is called Zumba Gold but don't think that means she doesn't put us through our paces!  She is in her early 50s and originally from Venezuela.  She absolutely loves her latin music and dances.  We have so much variety in our routines from modern chart music to Bollywood via salsa and line dancing!  We never know what combination of routines we will be doing.

So my bag of 'props' is growing by the week.  This week it had to include wearing something red as it was Valentine's week (I chose a tutu and feather boa) and a hat for line dancing.  I don't have a stetson so a beach hat had to improvise!

The bag also contained a pair of maracas, belly dancing coin skirt, finger scarves and a large scarf for swishing around in flamenco inspired songs.  Honestly, it is so much fun.  Everyone is so friendly and it's such a great atmosphere in there.

The first time I went, I was on my own and a little apprehensive in case the Zumba part of it was too intense for me but I was soon absorbed into the group and realised that everyone was so friendly and no one took it too seriously.  It's all about having fun and keeping active.  It's not always easy to make new friends as you get older but a class like this is absolutely perfect for getting to know new people.  

If you've never tried this kind of exercise before, and I say this as someone who is not  one of the most energetic people in the world, please do consider trying it if you see a class advertised.  It really is one of the best decisions I made when I took early retirement!  

Monday 13 February 2023

How much is too much?

 Happy Monday!  Today finds me in a couple of hours of looking after grandchildren, which means that in an hour's time I will be ankle deep in lego!

This was taken the last time they were here.  We have two containers filled to the brim of Lego.  Some handed down from my sister from when her son was little (he's now 51 so we are talking vintage bricks here!) some is from when our children were young.  We have accumulated a LOT!  Oh but they love tipping it all out, that deafening roar of bricks cascading onto the carpet then sifting through it to find the shape and size bricks needed to make a desert island and a pirate ship.  Not to mention the pirate with a wooden leg and the parrot that sits on his shoulder - they're in there somewhere!

I keep thinking that I could easily give half to a charity shop and there'd still be more than enough to play with.  We clearly have too much Lego.

In a timely fashion, this morning I read an article which someone had shared on Facebook.  It had been published in Vogue and asked 'How many clothes should we own, exactly?'  Even though I don't feel that I own a lot of clothes, after reading this I feel like my wardrobe is a bit like those boxes of Lego.  Some of it is really old, but still gets used, some of it is used on a regular basis and some of it has been outgrown.

According to this article we should only have 74 garments and 20 outfits in total.  For example, six outfits for work, three for home wear, three for sport, two outfits for festive occasions, four outdoor jackets plus trousers and skirts.  I don't consider myself to have a large wardrobe but I am sure I have more than that!  As I live in a country which has very distinct seasons, could I perhaps double their allowance for a winter/summer divide?  They say that people should only buy about five new items per year which is 20% of the amount the average person buys. I can't believe that the average reader of Vogue abides by this!

Food for thought eh?  What do you think? 

Monday 6 February 2023

Down to earth

 … with a bump!

I popped out to the shops on Saturday.  I thought I looked ok. I wore my jeans with chunky boots, a pale pink top with a navy waist length Chanel style jacket on top, I'd washed my hair, put a bit of mascara and lip gloss on.  As I walked towards the shops I could hear a small child on a scooter behind me.  The path was narrow so I stepped aside to let him pass.  As he went ahead of me, he looked over his shoulder and said "thank you Granny!"  I did not have much of a spring in my step for the rest of the journey!  

Last night I was looking through some old scrapbook albums for a particular photo I know I had used in a layout and while searching I found this page from when Coco was a puppy.

It would appear that she has aged better than me 

So today I am meeting for lunch with four ex work colleagues, one of whom is always impeccably dressed.  Everything co-ordinates, from earrings and nail varnish to beautifully stylish outfits and shoes.  After Saturday's experience I shall be making much more of an effort so I do not look too shabby in comparison!  I had better stop typing this up and start getting ready now!

Have a good week!

Friday 3 February 2023

Let's sit and have a cup of coffee

 Hello!  Come on in; sit down and we'll have a cup of coffee together.

Time has sped by since our last meet up, how have you been?  I really hope you are keeping well.  

Excuse the piles of brochures everywhere; the contract on Paul's car ends in September and he's in the process of deciding what to do next.  His ecological conscience is telling him to go for an electric model this time but the reality of high electricity costs and lack of charging points is muddying the water.  He's currently veering towards a hybrid but who knows what the final decision will be?

Then we have the piles of holiday brochures - It's taken a while to decide on a destination as we don't like to return to somewhere we have been before.  Even if we've had a fantastic time, there's still so many other places to explore.  So we have finally chosen a holiday to Sicily.  We love Italy and have decided to try one of the islands.  We'll be staying in a town called Cefalu - have you been?  If so, I'd love to hear what you thought!  Have you any plans for travel yet?

Did you notice on your way in that the bulbs we planted in the front garden are all starting to grow into bud?  I can't wait for them to open into flower, I'm so impatient for winter to be over, and long for a bit of spring sunshine.  Do you have a favourite spring flower?  Daffodils are so cheerful but I think that tulips are my favourites.  Every day I say 'if it's warmer tomorrow I'm going to go and tidy the garden a bit more' and it never is!  I set off with good intentions but after about 15 minutes the sun goes in, it turns chilly and I put my gardening gloves and secateurs back in the shed ready for another day.  Oh well, I guess every 15 minutes counts, we'll get there in the end!

Thank you for popping by, it's a short month this time, won't be long until we get together in March!