Sunday, 26 February 2012


I've ticked the first book off my Reading Resolutions.  1984.   It was pretty much what I expected.  Bleak.  Depressing.  Beautiful.  Orwellian.  (No kidding)  It was very much like Farenheit 451 and Slaughterhouse 5 and The Trial (although I liked those two, and 1984, while I hated the Trial).  Obviously these books are not similar in plot.  But in terms of dark and relentnessness they all had it.  I'm glad I read it though, it's such an essential book, such a major part of our culture.

I enjoyed looking through some of the past covers this book has had.

I also found this blog who shows some more.  Interesting the similarities, and differences over the years.

Next on my Reading Resolutions list?  Not sure.  I'm thinking another classic, so most likely Persuasion or Great Gatsby.  I need to make sure I read it by end of March to be on track for 8 in a year.  But right now I am reading the new Ingo book by Helen Dunmore "Stormswept", and my next book group read is "A Thousand Splendid Suns" so I have plenty to keep me busy.  Also the film version of "Hunger Games" is released very soon (there's a series that owes a lot to 1984) and I would like to reread before I see it.  And of course if I reread one I needs must reread the others.

Last of all an apology for letting a whole month pass without updating.  (Though really I'm not sure anyone reads this so I'm sure you don't mind).  I'll try to make my next post sooner.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Red Letter Day

Today was just lovely.  Days like today are golden.  First of all Mr C slept in till nearly 8am!!  No idea why, but it happened, and we appreciated it.  Then he and Daddy Jimdix went downstairs and let me lie in like a student!

When I finally crawled out of bed we decided to have a family lunch in town.  Apparently there was important football today so we headed to The Bowling Green where we managed to bag a table in front of an open fire with the big screen in clear view for Jimdix.  It has a fairly typical pub menu - which meant sausage, beans and chips for the menfolk.  In my hunt for something diet friendly I went with chicken fajitas.  I'm not sure how healthy a choice that really was (surely better than a burger?) but oh-my-goodness they were delicious.  Absolutely smashing.  Proper lovely.

After we ate, when Mr C began to get rambunctious he and I headed to the park, leaving Jimdix to go "gallabanting" with his friends.  It was a sunny crisp day, perfect for playing outside.  One of our favourite parks is near the Bowling Green, so Mr C had a whale of a time driving the train and sliding, while I played pap with the camera.

Then we met up with my good friend G and baby M, for some hot chocolate and a gossip.  And chubby baby cuddles for me.  She even posed for some pictures.

She was very serious.

But she had lovely smiles, and such chub!

Beautiful girl and her Mama.

Now Mr C was wanting to run off some energy, so we pottered about town, and spent fifteen minutes riding up and down the escalators in JJB Sports.  And you know what, it was a joy!  Riding up and down with this giggling boy, shouting "again, again!"  It was one of those silly magical moments, that you forget about in humdrum adult life until a small person reminds you.

Then we did some food shopping in Tesco.  That was dull, and before we paid Mr C decided he needed a wee, and when a three year old says that it means you abandon your shopping or risk a flood.  And so, after that was dealt with, on a whim we went on a dinner date, just my boy and me, for plates of pasta and chocolate cake.  We never went back for that shopping.

Then home, and bed.  Thankfully the invisible dinosaur was being well behaved tonight, and my sleepy boy went to sleep after his stories and only a small amount of mischief with a "lub-oo" and a kiss.

It was just a perfect day.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Making a start

If you recall I set myself MANY new year's resolutions this year.  You can read about them here.  There were the weight loss resolutions.  Going OK, so far.  The folksy shop.  Erm.  The finances. Shhh.  The Reading Resolutions.  Actually I just started reading 1984.  About time too.

And I also vowed to learn crochet.  And I've made a start.

Hahaha.  Yeah, this is NOT my work.  My lovely, lovely friend Bee made this for me for Christmas.  Isn't it beautiful?!  I just love these colours.  She does give me some comfort though, because she taught herself to crochet, with some help from Youtube.  And she started after her birthday in February - so in less than a year she was making things this amazing.  I feel so honoured to have this to snuggle on the sofa with.  So huge Thanks to Bee, for an incredible gift, and inspiration.

I figured out chain stitch, but I was a bit lost after that, I kept trying to double crochet, but it just looked like a knotted mess.  But I was lucky enough to find a "craft jam" held by the Exeter Craft Hub - a beginners' crochet night at The City Gate pub.  I can now just-about-almost double AND triple crochet.  And I decided I would make myself a scarf.  In really chunky wool, with a giant hook - an instant gratification project - a big rectangle in one stitch - triple crochet.  

Here it is - so far.  I've made a start, and although it would take a seasoned crocheter an hour to finish and will take me a week or two, and be lumpy and bumpy and full of faults I am proud of it already.  

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Butterfly Mind - a playlist from my brain

Warning - this post may infect you with music!

Since my last post I've had earworms on the brain (so to speak) and I decided to try to write down all the ones I heard in one day.  On Monday I had Simon and Garfunkel "Bridge Over Troubled Water" straight up for about 11 hours.  It wasn't annoying though, it was like quiet background music, I tuned it out when I was occupied, but then in quiet moments it was there, playing away.

So, today.  Nothing when I woke up, but on my way to work I checked Facebook and my good friend Megan had posted a Peel Session of Billy Bragg "New England" - so that was number one.

And once I started thinking about Billy Bragg my anthem for recent months - I raised a family in times of austerity "Between the wars" became tune number two.

Number three was thanks to a colleague, who remarked that our new posters reminded her of "Gold" by Spandau Ballet.  And I can only apologise if  I have now infected you, the way she infected me!

Number four - Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head - and I must admit I have a softspot for the Manic Street Preachers cover.  This was also down to the posters at work - and also my desperation to find anything to rid my head of "Gold" - I was ready to break out The Bangles but it proved unneccessary.

Number five - Another poster - a mention of "lazy afternoons" made me think about The Kinks - "lazing on a sunny afternoon..."  A nice bit of escapism on a dull January day.

Number six - I don't know what it was, but it was performed in my head by music box.  I think possibly it was a tune I had in a musical box as a child.  I have no idea where it came from or why it popped up.   In lieu of a link to it, here is the awesome, mathegician Vihart with Pachelbell's Canon.  (And check out her doodling in math class series - LOVE her!)

Number seven - boasting to a colleague at lunch about Mr C's proud performance as a sheep in the pre-school Christmas play, I also waxed lyrical about the talents of the robins.  They performed to this, and it was instantly back in my head:

Number eight - Shelving a copy of "About a Boy" by Nick Hornby I became haunted by - not Badly Drawn Boy as you might expect - but Dubstar "Just a Girl".  Lovely tune, and I always felt sad it was such a minor hit compared with some of their others.

Number nine - Girls now a theme I jumped to "Sunday Girl" by Blondie.  Good stuff.

Blondie stuck with me for a couple of hours, but at some point this evening I realised I'd switched to Green Day - Good Riddance (Time of your Life).  Number ten:

So there we are - a musical day in my my brain.  I'm really not sure if its normal to have this level of infection, but its fairly typical for me.   Coming soon on the blog - an update on my crochet.  I've done a whole inch or so!!!

Monday, 16 January 2012


I first read about earworms in Musicophilia, a fantastic book by Oliver Sacks about music and the brain.  (If you are interested in either subject you should check it out, it's a great blend of interesting fact and case histories and anecdotes that those who prefer more narrative reading can enjoy).

Earworms are those tunes, or fragments of tunes that get stuck in your brain on repeat.  Sometimes they are a joy, other times they are a curse. Advertisers are particularly adept at finding jingles that will stick in your brain.

I have an almost constant run of music in my head.  Today I woke up with The Lark Ascending, thanks to a BBC 4 documentary I saw as I went to bed last night.

That was chased out by Bridge Over Troubled Water which was played at a very moving humanist funeral I attended today.  It is a beautiful song to find in your mind on repeat.  It will probably be gone by the time I wake tomorrow.

Luckily, for the most part my earworms are pretty benign.  They don't seem to chase my thoughts out of the way, or irritate me.  Some last for hours on and off (I'm going on 10 hours with Bridge Over Troubled Water)  But when I've had enough I break out my secret weapon...

Yes.  That's the Bangles.  Don't Laugh.  I don't know how I discovered this, but I did.  If I have a stubborn ear worm, and need a reset I break out a Bangles tune.  Walk Like an Egyptian (dance moves not necessary, but can be fun) is my first choice, though particularly determined worms get a treatment with Eternal Flame.  (Take that Peppa Pig!)  Why does it work?  I don't know.  I suspect most people can find their own personal reset tune - something catchy enough to call to mind, but which, for whatever reason does not stick and become a replacement earworm.  The Bangles work for me.

If you find earworms interesting there is a questionnaire you can answer here: to help in research about them.

Do you get regular earworms?  Do you have a cure?

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Reading Resolutions

If you know me at all you will know I am a big reader.  I work in a book shop.  Before that I worked for the Library Services.  I have an English Degree and an MA in literature.  I have a book show with some friends on Phonic FM (The Mighty Book if you're interested).

Over the years I have tried, on and off, to keep a record of my reading.  Last year, or late in 2010 to be more accurate, someone told me about Shelfari and I started an account.  It has all sorts of social networking features that I have never explored, but for me it is useful simply as a record.  It tells me that in 2011 I read 59 books.  I seem to remember that in 2001 I read over 100.  But hey, I was a student back then, now I am a working, crafting, blogging Mum.  (Not that I didn't work as a student, I had a job, and I studied pretty hard too.  But oh, that luxury of time, and I had no idea!)  Its so nice being able to look back at my last year of reading and remember them all, and quantify them.

Anyway, as part of my duties at work I look after the "Recommends" which involves writing reviews and bugging my colleagues to do the same.  And I came up with the idea of a New Year display of a few books we each planned to read in 2012.  (And then head office came up with the same idea and sent out an edict that we all do this.  Seriously.  It's like they're reading my mind.  Creepy.)   So I chose 8 books I plan to read in 2012.  I have read none of them before, some are classics, some I have been recommended, some I just want to read.  So - enough already - here's the list:

1.  1984.  I know, I know, and I'm an English graduate too.  But you know how it is, I know the story, I get the references, I can even quote the opening line, but I never quite got round to reading it.  To be honest I'm dreading this one the most.  Animal Farm was great and I loved Coming Up for Air.  But I'm not looking forward to the darkness of this satire.  I'm expecting to be depressed.

2. The Great Gatsby.  Another classic I'm ashamed not to have read.  One of my best friends loves this book, so I'm looking forward to it.

3. Persuasion.  I love Jane Austen, but I have only read 3 of her books (I guess that means I can't claim to love her really).  It's time to make it 4, with the novel several of my friends call their favourite.

4. Haruki Murakami.  I don't know which book yet.  Norwegian Wood sounds the most approachable, but that in itself puts me off a bit!  Kafka on the shore is meant to be amazing, but I have a bit of a prejudice against Kafka, so the title puts me off.  Wind-up Bird Chronicle and IQ84 are meant to be amazing, but oh, so long!  And of course there are many others in his backlist.  So, still deciding.  If you have read any feel free to comment and advise me.

5. Carter Beats the Devil.  My friend and colleague Katy has recommended this several times, and after introducing me to Kid Rock and When God was a Rabbit, and sharing my love of The Book Thief I have every reason to trust her reviews.

6. The Chosen.  Several friends have said what a wonderful book this is, and I had never heard of it before.  Looking forward to discovering if I agree with them.

7.  The World According to Garp.   I really enjoyed Cider House Rules and Prayer for Owen Meany so it seemed like a good idea to add a John Irving to my list.  Its also nice to counterbalance those short novels at the start with something a little more weighty.

8.  The Red Tent.  Another one that several people have recommended, although at least one friend told me she didn't love it.  I suspect I will like it though.  We'll see.

As I read them I'll keep you posted.  It might be a few weeks though, I am still reading a book I started back in early December (!) and I have a couple more piled up, including my book club book.  So it might be a few more weeks before I start these.

Do you have any reading resolutions?  I challenge you to make one - or two - or eight!  And start keeping that list - it is really quite cool, in a smug sort of way, to see how much you read.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Thank You Letters

Thank You Letters are so important.  But I have been pretty bad about writing them.  As a kid my Mum was constantly nagging me to do them.  When we got married, and after Mr C was born I wrote them.  But for his birthdays and Christmas I have not been very good.  I feel pretty bad about it.

Meanwhile I discovered a new tool which has taken my procrastination to a whole other level.  It's called and it is addictive.  But also useful.  And one of the things I discovered were ideas for crafts,  especially crafts I could do with Mr C.  So after his birthday we did some painting together.  We painted his feet, then made prints from them next to each other but swapped and after they dried I took the sharpie to them - butterflies!  A quick note inside and his Thank Yous were done.

So for Christmas we have done the same thing, but of course we needed a new design.  This time we went with hand prints and potato prints, and I was not disappointed with the results.  And this is about as early as I've ever done Christmas Thank Yous.  I hope the lovely people who were so generous to Mr C this year enjoy his work.