Thursday 30 April 2015

April Books

Not too good this month, only 3 books read towards my GoodReads goal of 52 this year. It's strange really, in previous years I've read the most books on holiday and not many during normal working weeks - this year it seems to be the opposite!

Monthly Reads - April

Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O'Porter

Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O'Porter

This is the first in a series all about teenage life on Guernsey in the 1990s following two girls, Renee and Flo, their friendships and what they get up to. I was a teenager in the 1990s so I recognised a lot of the stuff in the story but the interactions between all the characters are pretty timeless and would be the same whatever decade you grew up in. It's a good tale, well written and brought to life quite vividly. I've got the second book in the series (Goose) sat on my to-read shelf at the moment and hopefully I'll get round to starting it in May.

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes

Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes

I heard about this one from the lovely girls who run the Bookish Blether podcast (Holly and Nicola) and being someone who would describe myself as "not that into makeup" I thought perhaps I should give it a go. It's non fiction written by beauty journalist, Sali Hughes and contains a lot of information and advice about skincare and makeup - and I mean A LOT. She certainly does know her stuff and I took note of a few points in the book. Probably the sort of book you'd dip into depending on what you wanted to know but still worth a read.

Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes
Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes
I spotted this on display during the Bath Literature Festival and was quite intrigued. The tagline says it's "very funny" and well, it's very good but not quite laugh-out-loud funny. It tells the tale Adolf Hitler who wakes up in 2011 and through a series of mistakes and misunderstood comments, suddenly becomes a YouTube sensation and TV celebrity. I think I'd use the phrase "very clever" rather than "very funny", especially the ending which, if you have even a basic idea of history, you should be able to spot the neat little circle the author creates.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Here Is The News #41

Here is the News

Blogland Brilliance

Emma managed to nab some Shauns in London - I'm counting down the days til they arrive in Bristol! (6th July if you're interested)

Rachael has the most beautiful magnolia tree in her front garden - she's a lucky lady!

If you want a challenge, head over to Elizabeth's blog to take part in her annual challenge - Blog Every Day in May (#BEDM). I took part in 2013 and 2014 and it's probably madness, but I've signed up for this year as well.

Danielle has some excellent advice about how to photograph your pet with Baker being a very obliging model in the shots.

Sarah popped over to Sidmouth in the sunshine and spotted a jellyfish - but more importantly, how gorgeous are her sandals?

Need some blogging inspiration? Jasmin has 30 ideas to get those creative juices flowing.

I'm sure we can all relate to Michelle's summary of how to write a blog post!

While Sarah's on maternity leave, Elise has guest posted and written all about the benefits of being crafty - all of them true!

And probably the most exciting blogging news of the week - go meet Spartacus Rooftops!

Food Porn

Lou's Sunday morning baked egg and potato hash looks delicious and easy to make.

And Clare made some very tasty-looking BBQ pulled pork and then turned the leftovers into cottage pie - genius!

Interesting Info

Standard Issue have it spot on with their article about IVF and the dignity Olympics - both hilarious and sadly, oh so true.

Blogs I've followed this week...

The Eagle and Other Things (thanks to Sunshine and Celandines)

What's new with you?

Monday 27 April 2015

This Weekend at the Duckpond

We have mostly been...

Travelling - to Barry and Barry Island for a mini 'happy 8th wedding anniversary' weekend break with the sole intention of doing our own Gavin and Stacey location tour!

Barry Island

Enjoying - the refurbished Penarth Pier. Last time we visited it was still looking a bit derelict but it looks mighty fine now.

Penarth Pier

Penarth Pier

Walking - the trail that leads from the motorway services on the England side of the M48 across the old Severn Bridge. If you want you can walk across the whole length of it but we weren't that crazy and just did up to where the chains start.

View from Severn Bridge

Riding - on the 109 year old Newport Transporter Bridge - a magnificent structure!

Newport Transporter Bridge

Feeding - some squirrels in Barry Island. A lady had a supply of peanuts and was dishing them out to 7 or 8 very tame squirrels and passed the nuts around so we could have a go.

Feeding the squirrels in Barry Island

Filling - ourselves up with the all-you-can-eat breakfast from Toby Carvery. Luckily (or unluckily depending on your viewpoint) there was one next door to our Travelodge and their potato and cheese hash is very delicious indeed.

Toby Carvery breakfast

Exploring - Chepstow, somewhere neither of us had visited before and nabbing a few geocaches along the way.

Chepstow flowers


Laughing - at Russell Howard's show in Bath's Theatre Royal on Sunday night. It was a benefit gig for a local boy and featured Russell, Wil Hodgson (who we've seen a few times before), Sean McLoughlin, Steve Hall and James Dowdeswell. When the tickets went on sale I spotted the tweet from the Theatre Royal 26 seconds after it was posted and logged on straight away - meaning that we bagged front row of the dress circle!

Russell Howard at Bath's Theatre Royal

Russell Howard at Bath's Theatre Royal

Booking - some more tickets, a pair of them for Caro Emerald's show at Bristol's Colston Hall in December (my birthday present!) and some for us, my parents and my brother to see Bill Bailey in May next year who is (for some bizarre reason) playing Trowbridge in Wiltshire - a fairly average sized market town!

What did you get up to at the weekend?

Friday 24 April 2015

Our Evening at the Royal Albert Hall with Danny Elfman

I thought I'd better get the last of the posts about our December London trip out of the way before starting on a couple about our Easter Holiday so the final instalment is...the Royal Albert Hall, somewhere I've wanted to visit for years.

Royal Albert Hall

Andrew had actually been there before; he was part of a Methodist church youth club when he was a teenager and they had a festival-style thingy with lots of other youth clubs from across the UK. I'd only ever walked past the outside of it and never been in or seen a show there.

When I started planning my birthday weekend in London, I realised we'd have Friday night free and thought that would be an opportune moment to tick that one off the list. A quick check of the Royal Albert Hall's website revealed that the show that evening was none other than one hosted by Danny Elfman! Him off the Tim Burton films! The one with the music! Him, yes him! Eeeeeek!

Royal Albert Hall tickets

(and for someone who doesn't really "do" 'eeek', that was rather exciting news)

Obviously when I booked the tickets I didn't realise I'd break my ankle in the meantime and end up on crutches but I can safely say that the staff at the Albert Hall are very good. I was allowed in the venue early and when we couldn't find anywhere to sit in the café, they went and found me a chair.

Royal Albert Hall programme and view from box 74

So, the venue...firstly there aren't really any words to describe the sheer size of the place. The outside does it no justice whatsoever and it's only when you get inside to your seat that you start saying "wow" over and over again.

Royal Albert Hall outside

Royal Albert Hall corridors

We had a box on the second tier, box 74, seats 1 and 2 (if I was going to visit the Hall, I was going to do it right) and even though it was on the side, we still had an amazing view.

Royal Albert Hall view from box 74

Duck at Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

And that ceiling! Look! A-MAZING.

Royal Albert Hall ceiling

The show we saw had the catchy title of 'Danny Elfman's Music from the Films of Tim Burton' and featured tunes from 14 of Tim Burton's films expertly played by the London Concert Orchestra. The screen above the orchestra showed clips of each film and sketches drawn by Tim Burton for things like the costumes and puppets.

Royal Albert Hall Music from the Films of Tim Burton

We saw and heard: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Sleepy Hollow, Mars Attacks, Big Fish, Batman/Batman Returns, Planet of the Apes, Corpse Bride, Dark Shadows, Frankenweenie, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Alice in Wonderland.

Royal Albert Hall Music from the Films of Tim Burton

It kind of goes without saying that it was a spectacular show; the orchestra were so good you didn't even notice you were in this massive space with other people and there were even a few films there I'd forgotten about.

Royal Albert Hall Music from the Films of Tim Burton

Highlight of the show though had to be The Nightmare Before Christmas bit, Danny Elfman came out and performed the songs (some in a group and some on his own) and for the Oogie Boogie Song, the conductor played the role of Santa Claus, complete with silly Christmas hat.

Royal Albert Hall

I said when we left the Hall, "we'll have to come back again and see something else" but I think it'll have to be something pretty special to be able to compete with that show!

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Here Is The News #40

Here is the News

Bit of an epic round-up this time (due to missing a couple of weeks and all of you lot writing such fabulous posts!)

Blogland Brilliance

Sarah's put together an excellent list of ways to spend less on your food shop - all good common sense advice.

Kezzie's list of novelty clutch bag ideas is pure brilliance - I'd buy the lifebuoy one for sure!

Susie and her other half have bought a new home - very exciting!

Michelle managed to make the process of breaking in a new pair of pyjamas very funny indeed.

Sophie's list of free ways to get more exercise potentially could save you a lot of money - I've been giving the Blogilates videos a go recently and strangely, I'm quite enjoying them so far.

Chelsea's recipe book looks rather magical - if I was her supervisor at uni, I'd give her a First for sure.

I love learning new ideas and skills so Louise's post about the many ways to keep learning is a really interesting read.

Sophie's started a campaign to get us all to actually make use of our lunch times and not just eat al-desko each day. Join in using the hashtag #yourhour and let her know what you've got up to.

Kerri visited the Keukenhof Gardens in the Netherlands to see all the tulips - somewhere I really want to visit at some point as before she passed away in 2009, it was one of my grandmother's favourite places and she used to go over every few years to see it.

Alexandra's post about body issues and body confidence will have you punching the air in happy agreement.

And Lucy had what looks like the most wonderful wedding in Cornwall - you can see the big day in her videos, here and here.

Food Porn

Sarah's White Chocolate Tiffin and The High Tea Cast's Salted Caramel Chocolate Torte both look mouth-wateringly delicious.

And Katy's Chorizo Chachouka looks like the perfect after work meal - quick, easy and tasty!

Doggy Delights

Pete and Betty were very lucky pups over Easter as their human, Michelle bought them a Barks and Bunnies gift box!

And great minds think alike as Danielle also bought Baker a box - watch the video, he's certainly one excited woofy!

Rusty adopted a gorgeous rescue mutt called Rolo.

And if you do have a four legged friend, Emma is running a Pooch Package gift swap for all those lucky hounds.

Creative Craftiness

How gorgeous is Char's sailor girl dress? (and made out of Asda bedding no less!)

Kezzie made this fab card for a friend using a deer template and an old map - so simple yet so effective!

I love, love, love this handbag storage idea from H & Sammy - a brilliant way to show off what you've got.

Jen's taking part in the 100 Days of Making Project (which sounds loads of fun, I just don't have the time at the mo myself) and if you do have the time, she's even compiled a list of 100 ideas to start you off.

While Sarah's awaiting the arrival of her little one, Janet wrote an excellent guest post about how to get more real mail through your letterbox and if you want to put those ideas into place right away, head over to Jess' blog, Dear Wildflower to join her newly formed Letter Writing Club.

General Election Goodness

Everyone's on the voting bandwagon at the moment (with good reason of course) - Standard Issue, Jenny from Sunny Sweet Pea, The High Tea Cast, Jennie from Sailboat, Anna from Angel in the North and Alexandra from Those Words She Wrote all wrote about the importance of voting.

Alice also gave an interesting insight into voting rights around the world and throughout history.

And Lizzie is collaborating with UpRising as an ambassador for the My Vote, My Voice campaign with excellent posts about registering (although the deadline was Monday so if you haven't done it, you've missed out!) and why you should vote.

Blogs I've followed over the last three weeks...

Charity Shop Chic (thanks to Can't Swing a Cat)


What's new with you? Found anything interesting over the last few weeks? Tell me all!

Tuesday 21 April 2015

A Photo Every Hour - Sunday 19th April

This month's photo an hour challenge was chosen by Jane last month and fell on Sunday 19th April.

9am - A bit of morning reading before breakfast with a rather {ahem} intriguing character.
9am - reading in bed

10am - While breakfast was cooking (sausages and potato & cheese patty thingies) we made a morning tipple (tea for me and coffee for him).
10am - tea and coffee

11am - Breakfast over and done with and it was time to decide which bit of housework to do first. The weather outside looked nice but was darn windy!
11am - nice weather outside

12pm - I might, just possibly, have not actually cleaned my dressing table for a month or two. First job of the day then ended up being cleaning the bedrooms.
12pm - the state of my dressing table

1pm - Cleaning was my job but Andrew's was shimmying up a ladder and fitting a burglar alarm box to the side of the house.
1pm - Andrew outside doing DIY

2pm - Bedrooms cleaned and it was on to the bathrooms (never a nice job really).
2pm - bathroom cleaning

3pm - The in-laws popped round to see how Andrew was getting on and we stopped for tea and biscuits, meaning that I missed the 3pm slot by about 45 minutes!
3pm - tea and biscuits

4pm - More washing, more cleaning.
4pm - washing

5pm - Time to stop for a bit and browse t'interweb.
5pm - blog reading

6pm - Andrew pulled me outside to see the result of all his hard work!
6pm - burglar alarm box mounted

7pm - Then it was on to dinner, checking on the potatoes we'd chucked in the oven a bit earlier.
7pm - roast potatoes

8pm - Roast chicken and all the veg for dinner with plenty of gravy, of course.
8pm - roast chicken dinner

9pm - More food but this time putting together our packed lunches for Monday (cheese sandwiches and a hot cross bun).
9pm - making sandwiches for lunch

10pm - And to bed, catching up with Portillo's State Secrets on BBC's iPlayer (although the episode about Jack the Ripper probably wasn't quite the best choice just before bedtime...).
10pm - watching Portillo's State Secrets in bed

16 lovely people joined in this month and a big thank you to everyone who took part or joined in the fun on the day by commenting on Twitter or Instagram!

So who did we have then?

Jane from Is That You Darling joined in on InstagramTwitter and on her blog
Sharon from Sunshine and Celandines joined in on Instagram, Twitter and on her blog
Janet from Words That Can Only Be Your Own joined in on InstagramTwitter and on her blog
Rebecca from Just Me joined in on Twitter, Instagram and on her blog
Susie from Second Hand Susie joined in on Twitter and on her blog
Lizzie from Lizzie Dripping joined in on Instagram and on her blog
Rachel from The Inelegant Wench joined in on Instagram and on Twitter
Josie from Tales from the Finch's Beak joined in on Instagram and on Twitter
Kim joined in on Instagram and on Twitter
Rebecca from Writing, Fatshion, Me joined in on Instagram and on Twitter
Laura joined in on Instagram
Cate from Cate in the Kitchen joined in on Instagram
Lucy joined in on Instagram
Emma from Miss Pond joined in on her blog
Amy from Fluffy Owl's Adventures joined in on Monday on Instagram and on her blog
Eileen from In My Playroom joined in on Monday on her blog
And of course, myself here on this post, plus on Instagram and on Twitter :-)
I hope I've managed to include everyone, I'll update the list as and when blog posts appear but give me a shout if you took part and I haven't included you. If your blog post goes live at a later date, that's absolutely fine, just let me know and I'll pop you in.
Next month I'm going to go with Saturday 23rd May - it's the Bank Holiday weekend so I thought that might a good date to pick. Pop it in your diaries and I'll also tweet everyone the day before as a reminder - see you then!
Also, check out what I was up to in...
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