Thursday, 30 April 2015

Cold and dreary April equals more reading time!

            'Oh, to  be in England now that April's there'
                                                      Robert Browning

It's been a miserable month weather-wise. There was a spell of lovely warm weather, which fooled all the plants into thinking Spring was here... but for this past week we've been having cold Arctic winds, cancelling out the heat of the sun when it appeared. Sleety showers and strong winds yesterday made it feel more like winter than spring in my corner of the county. Despite that, the spring bulbs have been gorgeous this year.

But at least the bad weather means less time to spend in the garden, even if I do only potter these days. So what to do? Ho hum.... clean out a cupboard, have a sort out of my wardrobe, Spring clean? Maybe later, for now there were books to be read...

'Jonathan Livingston Seagull' by Richard Bach... is considerd a timeless classic by many and is the story of a seagull learning about life and flight. He even has his own website ... The story is basically all about finding your own way to live your life and not follow the herd, to be grateful for the freedoms to live our own lives as we choose. And for being brave enough to do that perhaps too.

'Poppy Day' by Amanda Prowse... normally I have no trouble getting into her books, but for some reason, I would read a few pages of this, then put it aside in favour of something else, and this went on for several days. At this point I would normally give up, but such is her writing that it had got under my skin by then, and I had to read it. I will admit there were times I speed read a few pages when I felt it wasn't holding my attention any more, but on the whole, I'm pleased to have persisted. Poppy Day's husband Martin joins the Armed Forces to give them a better life, but he is sent to Afghanistan where he gets captured and held prisoner. The soldier with him was beheaded, and nobody knows if this is what will happen to Martin. Poppy feels the Army and the powers that  be aren't doing enough to get him out; they are doing what they always do, working quietly away, diplomatically, behind the scenes and away from the glare of publicity. But that doesn't suit Poppy, who decided to get to Afghanistan and bring him home herself. By devious means she gets there, and gets herself an interview with Martin's captors. She does get him released, but has to pay a high personal price, and when she tells Martin what that price was, it threatens their relationship.

'Wintering' by Derek Johns... is the story of Billy Palmer, a young lad who's taken away from the big house, the posh car, the nice life in Bath, and transported to a sleepy village, all thanks to his Dad's business collapsing. This is the story of Billy growing up, of his Dad's philandering, his Mother's struggle to come to terms with her change of circumstances.  I've read this book before, now it's had it's second read it's off to the charity shop... and having discovered there are two follow-up novels about Billy, I'm off to Amazon!

'The Forever Girl' by Alexander McCall Smith... a departure for Mr Smith, a romance. I like his writing, my favourites being the Isabel Dalhousie novels, and so I knew I'd enjoy this too. Clover, who was named Sally by her parents but decided at the age of four she wanted to be known as Clover, grows up on Grand Cayman Island with her parents. She falls in love with her best friend James, at the same time as her mother realises she's fallen out of love with her husband, and is interested  in someone else. Clover realises James is growing away from her when they are sent back to the UK to go to boarding school, and later university. She wants to move on in her life, but can't rid herself of thoughts and hopes, of James. A beautifully written novel of love and life.

'Beautiful Day' by Elin Hilderbrand... A summer wedding on the island of Nantucket brings together two families, the Carmichaels and the Grahams, and whilst the bride and her groom-to-be are blissfully happy, sadly those around them aren't. The Notebook, written by the bride's mother before she died of cancer, lists all the preparations for the wedding, how it should run, the music played at the reception, what the bride and her bridesmaids should wear, and whilst this should make life easier for all concerned, there are times when The Notebook causes a few problems.

'The Third Wife' by Lisa Jewell... Maya is the third, and younger, wife of Adrian. She was loved by everyone, got on with his exes and their children, in fact they all got on like one big happy family. She had a job she loved, a great circle of friends, a great life. So, the morning she seemingly walked into the path of an oncoming bus and died left unanswered questions. Did she do it deliberately and if so why? Or was it just a tragic accident? In trying to find out, Adrian discovers the flaws in his own, seemingly perfect, world.

So, there you have my latest reads - well, the best of them anyway.

I hope you are all having a marvellous Spring and thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015


As adults our time is usually taken up with 'life', leaving us little time for ourselves. Until you get older that is, until you reach the stage in your life when your children have grown and long since flown the nest, and at last you can breathe out and do the things you want to do for yourself.

Playtime is important. And the word can evoke memories of childhood can't it? I was a child in the Fifties - I am now an OAP (that's Older Aged Person) and actually, realising I grew up in times of rationing makes me feel REALLY old. I was a teen in the Sixties and contrary to the popular saying I WAS there and I DO remember them! And I also remember playtime at school, in the playground, ball games like twosie, games with balls played against a wall with accompanying rhymes, hopscotch with the squares chalked on the playground tarmac, washed away when it rained so you had to do it all over again. Playing at home during the long holidays...  for me, playing on the beach across the road from where we lived, making sandcastles... or taking my dolls in their new Tansad pram for a walk in the Marine Gardens on warm sunny days with my mum. On wintry days, sitting on the window seat - we had a huge bay window overlooking the Promenade and beach and I spent many hours sitting, watching - with colouring books and crayons.

Fast forward and here I am in my sixties, sitting in my conservatory, looking out over a beautiful garden my husband looks after, currently full of forsythia, ribes, daffodils, tulips, muscari, hyacinths and other Spring loveliness, surrounded by felt tips, watercolour pencils and crayons, watercolour paints, pencils, fine liners, brush tips, and a collection of colouring books for grown ups. 

Colouring in was one of my favourite things to do, along with reading, and still is! I have been amazed and delighted at the upsurge in colouring in for us oldies, I have always found it so relaxing and now it seems it's the 'in' thing to do. We even have a partwork called Art Therapy, which I have subscribed to, and although I may not see the subscription through to the bitter end, for now, I am enjoying it enormously.

This is a page from the first part. For someone who would love to be an artist but is rubbish at it, this is the nearest I get to being arty, well... this and my art journal as it's laughingly called. Now if you go on Pinterest you will see some wonderful examples of art journalling... mine isn't there. Some of the pages in my journals are my own work, my own idea, others are ideas taken from various sources, blogs and Pinterest and magazines. Ideas I give a twist to, so they are not exact replicas. This one though, is one of my own, a  mix of collage, watercolour painting (the hares themselves), watercolour pencils and felt tips.

In retrospect, I should have used different lettering/colour for the word 'behaving', but it is too late now. It's just a bit of fun, I enjoy doing it, and if it's not perfect or not as good as others would have done it, who cares? 

The point of playtime is to take you away from the mundane, the ironing waiting to be done, the food to prepare for a meal, and let you escape into a world of your own, maybe listening to an audio book, or music, or in my case at the moment it's either Radio 4 or LBC. For an hour I just 'chillax' as they say, and even though my life is far from stressful and hectic, I still feel the benefit of this 'me' time.

So, get yourself some felt tips, or pencils, or crayons, grab one of the many colouring-in books for grownups, and while away an hour or so.