Tuesday 30 January 2024

What I've been reading in December/January

I wasn't able to get hold of December's book club choice, I think it is later being published over here, so I downloaded the kindle version of the book that I had voted for instead.

Nineteen year old Jill Moss disappears near the Utah/Arizona border leaving a multitude of opinions as to where she may be or what may have happened to her.  One person knows the truth.  Norma Gallagher, who was part of the search and rescue operation, found Jill, safe and hiding in a cave. She confides to Norma that she had run away from her abusive boyfriend Jake Willis, fearing for her life if he should ever find her.  Wanting to keep Jill safe, Norma helps her reunite with her parents in California, keeping her whereabouts secret from the police, the press and most importantly from Jake.

Five years later, the disappearance of Jill makes headline news again when Jake is arrested for her murder.  Norma is conflicted, she knows he didn't murder her but to give that information to the police will divulge where Jill is hiding and potentially put her in danger.  

The trial approaches, press interest is reignited and public opinion is demanding retribution.  Jill's family refuse to come forward which means that Norma has to make an important decision.  Does she stay quiet to ensure Jill's continued safety from violence, or does she tell the truth, meaning that an innocent man does not go to prison?  Jake may be an abusive, violent man but he isn't a murderer.  Furthermore, would telling the truth put her, Jill and her parents in trouble for concealing information from the police?  What would you do?

My second book was The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka .

Katrina and Nathan are cowriters of a bestseller book.  They have a contract to complete a second in the series but between the completion of the first and writing the next, their relationship breaks up.  Dramatically. Neither will have anything to do with the other. There is no backing out of writing another book together even though they have spent three years avoiding each other.  After a lot of coercing from her partner, Katrina finally gives in and agrees to get the book over and done with.

To honour their contract they return to the house in Florida where they wrote the first book with the express intention of getting the second book written as quickly and painlessly as possible.  The book flits from 4 years ago to present day and you can feel the tension between them in the present day gradually ease as the book progresses.  The reader doesn't know exactly what has happened between them four years previously except at the time of book one, Nathan was married and Katrina was single, although the publisher, Chris, is obviously interested in her.  In the present day, Nathan is divorced and Katrina is engaged to Chris although it is quite obvious that he is very controlling in their relationship and something dramatic must have happened while writing the first book.

It feels as if Katrina and Nathan are living out their emotions through the dialogue of the characters in the book and in the chapters set in the past we gradually piece together what has happened at the time they wrote the first book. Was that chapter of their lives just a rough draft for their future?

I have to be honest and say I didn’t love this book. It was OK, but I felt it dragged in a few places.  I never felt that ‘I must just read one more chapter’ compulsion, at about 75% of the way through I simply wanted to find out whether Katrina had just vastly over reacted about something in the past and why Nathan couldn’t forgive her.  It did get very good reviews on some sites so maybe my expectations were just a bit too high!

Monday 29 January 2024

Me on Monday 29 January

 It's still January - how can that be?  It seems like Christmas was months ago!

According to my book of random facts, it was this date in 1942 that the first episode of Desert Island Discs was aired.  Where guests are invited to choose eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury that they would enjoy if stranded on a desert island.  Brian Bilston, the author, has written alternative ideas with a play on words for a dessert island choice, the last verse is this 

"It's a family eclair

Don't it make your brownies blue

In the gateaux


Can you think of more? 

We had all the family over yesterday and it's so lovely now Olive is old enough to join in with all the games the others like to play.  She is turning into quite a little character now, I love this age and even though she is now two, I don't see many 'terrible two' incidents.

There's a bit of life admin on the cards today.  We had an appointment with a local solicitor to prepare our Lasting Power of Attorney paperwork.  It's one of those things we've been meaning to do for ages as we know it's better to have it in place before you need it, so when you do need it, one phone call should be all that is needed to implement it.  All that legal work is thirsty business so we popped over the road to a little Italian deli for refreshments

As you will see, the thought of a bite of Sicilian lemon tart was too hard to resist before I remembered to take a photo 😉

The rest of the week is going to be busy with Leo and Rosie sleeping over on Wednesday night due to their mum and dad both having heavy work commitments and Rachel having to be away overnight and her husband having a very early start the next morning.  Much easier for them to sleep here rather than them being dropped off here before 6am on Thursday! 

After that it is a nice social end to the week with afternoon tea with friends and then a nice meal out at the weekend.  I think I shall probably need it after an unexpected sleepover midweek!

Have a good week! 

Friday 26 January 2024

#WBOYC January


The first WBOYC of the new year and the twelfth one that I have done in this format ... time for a new look next month maybe?  In the meantime, in what seems to have been the longest month of the year, we've reached the last Friday in the month and are ready to share what we have been doing.


Jigsaw puzzles and January sales.  My daughter gave me a couple of jigsaws to keep me occupied - one down and now the more difficult one to go.  I didn't actually buy much in the sales - I use the mantra of if you had the money and you didn't feel the urge to buy it before the sale, do you really need to buy it now just because it is on special offer?  But I did succumb to a rather lovely Katie Loxton bag which I know I will use a lot and is in a different colour to the rest of my handbags.


After far too long a gap since our last meeting, I had lunch out with an old school friend.  She is still working and had rather too many health issues for us to get together last year, so we are both hoping that this lunch would be the start of getting back to our regular meet ups.


National Theatre productions have started to be live streamed via our local Arts Centre so we went to see 'Dear England' to get the atmosphere of a London Theatre without having to embrace the somewhat unreliable winter train journey into London.  It was so good; the time flew by and it was great to find something that both of us thoroughly enjoyed.


Unhappy news from the family of an old school friend to say that he had died really made me stop and take stock.  I'd known him for 60 years, our claim to fame was that he'd been my partner on stage at the Royal Albert Hall in a schools country dancing festival and he was genuinely a lovely person.  


As soon as my friend Sal retired we made arrangements to meet up for a midweek lunch.  She really was my best friend when our children were small.  We met at ante natal classes and just hit it off so well.  The bonus being that our husbands got on well too.  I was sad when they had to relocate due to their jobs changing.  Not hundreds of miles away, but far enough not to be able to get together so easily.  She is happy to say that she is a few months younger than me so not at official retirement age yet, but she finally took early retirement from her job and we quickly made plans to meet up at a half way point for a long lunch.  Here's to many more!


Routines - getting back into them after Christmas is quietly comforting as life gets back to normal.  I did have intentions to declutter a room a week but have only really managed to do two and so that would mean there were two weeks where I failed miserably at sticking to my intentions!


Yay!  We booked a holiday!  After much deliberation we have booked to go to Mallorca.  We last went there about 20 years ago and have very happy memories.  We aren't ones to return to the exact place we have been before, so as our previous holidays were on the north and east coastlines we are going to the west coast, to a resort called Puerto de Soller.  There's some nice walks around there and an old tram which takes you to the town of Soller and it's not too far to the capital, Palma. It's nice to have something to look forward to because, between you and me, I've had enough of dark mornings, early sunsets, and drizzly damp weather. 

I guess it is time to share the 1 Second Everyday Video clip!

Please also pop and see what Australian Deb has been up to in her summertime January.

Monday 22 January 2024

Me on Monday 22 January


Welcome to a brand new week - hopefully not quite as chilly as the last one was!  I know that we Brits are renowned for our obsession with the weather but boy has it been cold.  It's not so much the temperature on the thermometer, it's the wind chill factor.  I made a silly mistake on Thursday when I went into town for a few bits.  I was planning on parking in the multi storey car park, nipping into M&S and Boots and coming home.  About 3/4 of a mile from town is a lay by where you can park for free for two hours; normally it is busy but that day there were a few spaces so I thought 'it's better for my health to get a few more steps in, plus I won't have to get involved in any traffic'.  It wasn't until I had locked the car and started walking that I realised that although I had gloves with me, I hadn't taken my hat or scarf as I wasn't expecting to be walking far.  Boy did I regret that!  On my way back from town I passed this board outside a cafe ...

Dogs welcome, People tolerated!

That made me smile.  Other things that made me smile this week were these ...

A few years ago I was inspired to try my hand at knitting socks so I have a small supply of the warmest socks I own.

Also who could resist a note like this one from Leo

The message inside tells me I am 'The best Nanny ever' so that definitely made me smile.  

My random piece of information for today is that it was this date in 1927 that the first football match was commentated on radio.  The Radio Times published a plan of the pitch marked into squares so that listeners could follow the match.  It is thought that this may be the origin of going 'back to square one' as this was the box that the ball would land in if kicked back to the goalkeeper.  Some think it relates to earlier games like snakes and ladders but I like the vision of people listening intently to a radio commentary and following along with their pitch plan in the magazine.

We are trying something new this week, our local Arts Centre has a live showing from the National Theatre of 'Dear England' a play about Gareth Southgate and how he went from being known for missing a crucial penalty to being the manager of the England football team.  Now I'm not the biggest football fan, although I do watch our national team, but the play gets good reviews and I do want to support our local Arts Centre.

So while I was hibernating last week, I did get on with my crochet and I now have a completed centre square to share.  I have even given away a couple of completed blankets to Rachel and Jon, now the weather has turned cold our grandchildren enjoy sitting in their car booster seats and being tucked up under a lovely wooly blanket.  I now have a clear conscience about starting a new one ;-) 

Today my main plan is to go into town and book a holiday ... watch this space!

Monday 15 January 2024

Me on the 3rd Monday of January

 I'm starting this post with a picture of some daffodils in a vase on my hall table

They are pretty, they make a room feel cheerful and they bring a glimmer of hope that spring will soon be here.  I kind of feel like that is exactly what I need right now. 

The information from my book of verses for every day of the year tells me that on 14th January 1966, a certain David Robert Jones changed his name.  The name Davy Jones had already been popularised by my favourite Monkee and so David Robert Jones became David Bowie, who would later also become Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke and Aladdin Sane.

This bit of random information regarding change seems appropriate as I type this for last week was bookended by two shocking emails, both from members of the group of school friends with whom I meet up with annually.   The first email contained the sad news that one of our group had died after many rounds of cancer treatment.  Although not unexpected, it's still shocking when it happens.  I had known him 60 years, having first met at primary school.  It hits hard when one of your friendship groups goes far too soon.  The second email was from one of the 'boys' (can you still be considered a boy/girl when you are 65?) who was in my class at secondary school for seven years, telling us that he was changing gender and also changing his/her name.   That takes a bit of getting used to as well.  It was a shock for me, so how on earth his/her wife and son reacted must have been earth shattering.  One thing that has lifted my heart has been the outpouring of support and compassion from the rest of our group. 

So yes, this week starts with me feeling a bit unsteady.  I don't have much planned for the week which is a shame as I feel that not only do I need something to take my mind off things but also that I should not be wasting my days.

I am sorry that my Me on Monday post is subdued, but the idea of blogging is to note the good with the bad, and I can't make things like a shiny Instagram post sharing only the best. I think a nice quiet afternoon of crochet will relax my mind so expect a blanket update very soon!      

Monday 8 January 2024

Me on Monday 2024 Week 2

 Things are getting a bit more normal aren't they?  Decorations down, people back to work and children back to school.  Christmas already seems a long time ago! How are you this Monday?  If you are visiting from England you are probably still feeling the effects of the storm last week, oh how I long for spring to arrive.

Checking in my book of Brian Bilston poems I thought I would share with you an excerpt from his poem for tomorrow, 9th January.  On that day in 1902 New York State passed a bill to ban flirting in public in order to protect young girls and women from unwanted attention.  His poem is called "Be Alert, Not a Flirt" - here are a few lines from the verses.

"Please be aware that flirts

are known to operate in this area.

You are advised to keep your longings with you at all times.

Kisses have been stolen

and bottoms pinched

while there have been reports of 

batted eyelids, and grazed arms ..."

So unless you are prepared to pay a $25 fine, be careful when out in New York!

These long lost laws and rules are amusing aren't they?  My friend once lived in a lovely old cottage in a very rural location.  They put in a planning application to add some gates across their driveway to keep the children safe in the garden.  It was turned down due to there being a restriction on the property that there had to be room in front of their cottage for a horse and cart to safely turn round in a full circle unobstructed.  I think it had been many a day since a horse and cart travelled down the lane to their home but they still had to redesign the front garden!

Last week was a week of trying to get my head round the fact that it is now 2024 - it takes a while to get used to entering a different year onto online forms.  This Monday finds me getting back to our normal weekly routines and boy do I need to get back to doing my Zumba class.  The good news is that the osteopath has said she doesn't need to see me again following the injury to my back at the end of September.  I've been seeing her every four weeks and I am now much more aware of how I move to protect my back.  How long before I slip into bad habits though?

I also found a delicious new recipe, proper comfort food and really easy to make.  It’s called Chicken Barley and I would recommend it if you are looking for something new, you can find it here https://www.nigella.com/recipes/chicken-barley.

The jigsaw that I shared on Friday is now complete.  

In the end it wasn't the sky that was the most difficult, it was the ferns in the bottom left corner - onto my next one now, which is one of the Wasgij puzzles.  They can be pretty tricky as you don't actually know what the picture is that you will be making.  All you have to work it out is a picture of people opposite and you have to guess what they are looking at.  

It seems from the weather reports that the heavy, continuous rain of last week has passed on and we now have a period of dry but cold weather ahead.  I much prefer that - how are things wherever you are this Monday morning?


Friday 5 January 2024

Let's sit together and have a chat

 Come on in and sit down, isn't the weather awful?  I hope you didn't get caught in any flooding, I shall be pleased when this heavy rain stops.  I'll make us a drink and we can catch up on the last month's news.  I can't offer you cake or chocolate biscuits this month as like a lot of the population we're trying to make up for all the extra food we ate over Christmas!  If I don't have cake in the tin, I can't eat it.

Christmas already seems a long time ago and although we had a lovely time, I quite like getting back to normal routines.  It's nice to take all the decorations down and everywhere looks fresh again.  I know a few people who were unwell around Christmas and New Year so am very grateful that our family stayed well over the whole period. I'm not one for making resolutions but I do hope that I can eat a little healthier this year.  It's not that we eat un-healthy meals, it's the snacking in-between them that is my weakness.  So any suggestions for things to snack on that are better for you than chocolate or sweets will be gratefully received!

Did you notice the jigsaw taking up half the dining room table as you came in?  My daughter bought it for me as she knows I like to do jigsaws in the winter but when I saw it I thought it was going to be a difficult one.  I am feeling more optimistic now I have completed a chunk of it but I have a feeling that it will be a while before the sky comes together!

Yes, that is the start of a new blanket that you can see.  No we probably don't need another blanket but it is such a relaxing hobby to have with the added bonus of it covering your lap nicely as it progresses in the evenings!

Thank you so much for visiting - drive carefully on your way home, and I hope to see you again on the next first Friday of the month!


Monday 1 January 2024

Me on Monday - the New Year edition

 Here we are at the very beginning of the new year - I hope it finds you happy and healthy. We started off the year with a healthy long dog walk

Hard to believe that after all the build up, the festivities are over and I even saw Valentine cards for sale in our local shop on Friday - always onto the next thing!  We had a lovely family time at Christmas and fortunately everyone was well in time for the big day.  Our grandchildren are still believers and Leo said to me that they had recently had a video doorbell fitted and he wondered if it would pick up Father Christmas coming with their presents.  Which was when I remembered that we have an old FC outfit up in our loft from when my dad used to dress up for our children.  So Paul was despatched to the nether regions of the loft where I don't dare to venture and we hatched our plan.  

We spent the evening at theirs, secretly sneaked their presents in when they were busy playing a game and said goodbye at about 8.30pm.  Rachel hurried them upstairs to get ready for bed and we drove around the corner until we were out of sight of their house.  Paul got out the car and put the costume on, then walked back to their house to walk up to the front door, check his list, then walk round the house seemingly to deliver presents.  All was going well until a neighbour got out of his car, saw Paul walking round the corner in full FC gear and followed him with his phone in his hand.  At which point I realised how dodgy we must have looked, a perfect disguise for someone to sneak around houses in the dark!  So I quickly got out the car, ran up to him and explained it was to prove to our grandchildren there is a Santa, please don't call the police!  He laughed and said he just wanted a photo of Santa delivering presents in his road to show to his grandchildren the next day!

Our New Year's Eve was spent quietly at home (Coco is extremely nervous once the fireworks start and we didn't dare risk leaving her on her own) but we had an early get together with two other couples on the eve of NYE so I guess that counts as early celebrations!

One of my Christmas presents was a book of poems by the poet Brian Bilston, one for each day of the year with a fact about that day so I thought I might add a snippet of verse from those in my Monday posts.  The January 1st one is called Resolutions, and considers how a poet may vow to not write an acrostic for a whole ... 

"Year.  A resolution, I think,

Easily done.  Eminently achievable,

A piece of cake.  Oh,


Happy New Year!