Finding your passion- you actually don’t have to find it, it will seek you out!

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What a year it has been… and it is only February! Right now the sun is streaming through the windows, the sky is blue and it is a heavenly day!

As you know I’ve been reading ‘Romancing the Ordinary’ – (it is a year long book, so I might be mentioning it a lot!) Of course when we get to February it is only right that we talk about Passion – but  it is not about the romantic Mills and Boon Passion – no, it is about the deep passion that reaches right down to the soul.

Now, if any of you are the soul searching types, one refrain of this ‘self empowerment movement’ is the concept of your soul’s purpose. Now, my soul’s purpose has bothered me for many, many of the years I’ve been reading self improvement books – because I had no idea what on earth I was supposed to do. It actually frustrated me – call me ‘special’ but I was ignoring every single clue!

Well, now, I will let you into the secret of finding your passion, if you want to know where your passion lies, it is in the question nearly every adult asks a child… what do you want to be when you grow up?

Now, if you had asked me what I wanted to be aged 12 – 16, I would tell you that I wanted with every fibre of my being, to be a writer.

 

This beautiful quote is from Happy Tech – click here.

 

Well, even though I knew what I wanted to do – I somehow got lost along the way, it was always my dream.. but somewhere between the age of 12 and 50, the whole idea has been shelved, all for good logical reasons.

1 – When my English teacher pleaded, unsuccessfully, for my parents to send me to university because he believed in my talent as a writer. I decided that I needed to go to university to be a writer. I thought I had a great excuse, until a work place offered to send me to university as part of my job – so I could earn and study at the same time.

I’ would like to say, that as soon as I finished my course I started writing… but no – I came up with another excuse.

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Image from I can read – click on link for more!

2- I attended a writer’s conference, where a publishing agent told the assembled crowd of hopeful writers – that it is impossible to get your book published. The world of publishing was in decline, every day, twenty or thirty unsolicited scripts landed on her desk, most of which would not even be read. Poor woman, she was embittered by her industry and she made sure that our dreams were well and truly squashed in the 20 minute talk.

Fifteen years later – we can publish an ebook without having to go through the eye of the needle that was literary agents or publishers. Love her or hate her, Shades of Grey began life as a blog – if she can do it, then anyone can. Just like a poet can put out their poetry you tube or a singer can sing their song, there are no gatekeepers any more.

3 -I don’t have the time.. I used to have a lovely job driving round the New Forest in my open topped sports car visiting people in outlying chocolate box villages.. where I would find myself passing the time as stories and ideas came in every direction. I never wrote a single one of them down.

The frightening thing about not following your passion, and you may have justifiable reasons is that in the end you will have to surrender…

I changed my job, to a busier one, Managing a large team- that took all my energy and had me working 12 hour days… I burnt out, very quickly – ending up unable to stop crying in the Christmas Decorations Isle in Tesco of all places.

3 – so Six years, Yes, Six years ago, I took a less demanding job, one that offers again, time and space for writing. Despite my best efforts to make my job more demanding – it all fell pretty flat- in fact every time I have pushed to expand my role, it has been well and truly crushed, until in the end I have to accept the work for what it was and put my energy into something else.

I’ve had readings, quotes that have dropped into my Pinterest feed, my Facebook feed, my Instagram feed. twitter.. that is a lot of feeding. (I did say I was ‘special’)

So, now we come to what happened to me this week! I had an email on Tuesday from an awesome lady I am delighted to call a friend, inviting me to attend a workshop with her entitled ‘finding your voice’.

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You can find this lovely quote on this website.. interestingly entitled procrastination!

Now, the twelve year old writer would have jumped up in delight, but the 50 year old practical woman responded that she had to work that day.

Well,  here is the warning in this cautionary tale, dear reader, by 4pm I was feeling exhausted, so much so that I went to bed and slept for two hours. The following morning, every muscle ached, I was in terrible pain throughout my body, tiny darts of pain and throbbing shot through my calves, my hips and my arms. I had to call in sick and go back to bed and sleep. I slept until 2pm and then woke up groggy.

I sat up in bed and drank some tea, and picked up a book from a pile next to the bed, it was all I had the energy for and read the following:

There are so may insidious ways that we betray ourselves Self sacrifice is one of the more popular for women because it is condoned by society. Do we get extra points for suffering? I don’t think so. Did you know that both the Koran and the Talmud teach that we will be called to account for every permissible pleasure life has offered us and that we have refused to enjoy while on Earth. I don’t know about you but I shudder to think about that reckoning.

Is devotion to the needs of others a cover for the hungers and the needs of the self, of which one is ashamed?  Anais Nin asks. ‘I was always ashamed to take. So I gave. It was not a virtue. It was a disguise.

Something More, excavating your authentic self, Sarah Ban Breathnach

What words! – it took me about half an hour to wrestle with the guilt I’ve carried since my first child was born, (where all this ‘self sacrifice’ began).  I first emailled the course co-ordinator certain that the course would be full. I had an email back saying they had booked me in… (I was only enquiring if they had space.. another excuse blown) Within an hour I was feeling well, the pain subsided and I was well enough to work the next day and book the leave. No-one batted an eyelid, at the late notice – the sky wasn’t about to fall in because I had booked some time for me.

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I think God, the universe or what ever you like to call destiny has a sense of humour! The course was run by the ‘Choose  to Work’ team run by the local City Council.

The course invitation included these words…

Trying something new often requires courage

Finding the strength to summon up courage is itself a benefit. Once released, your courage grows and swells. How wonderful to open up to a flood of courage and be carried on its waves to unknown, exciting destinations.

Trying something new opens up the possibility for you to enjoy something new

How often are you faced with an opportunity to try something totally new? We want you to come and enjoy an experience that you would not ordinarily have exposed yourself to and who knows, you may discover a love for something you had no idea would capture your imagination.

Trying something new keeps you from becoming bored

We all need to be challenged from time to time – personal growth does not happen by doing the same thing day after day after day.

I wish I could remember the Tutor’s name, she was a successful writer who wrote song lyrics for operas and plays for Radio (a medium that had fuelled my love of writing in the first place).

We started the day, a motley crew of women – not really sure why we were there and what finding your voice really meant – is it assertiveness or something? After the first exercise – forming an acrostic with our names, we were inspired. We all read ours aloud and it was amazing that in a few short words, so much of our story came spilling out. One lady, Sally, moved us all – she spontaneously produced, simply beautiful poetry that moved us all.

The tutor was skilful, we wrote from the heart and then she picked out every gramma rule that we had used, without realising it. Enjambment, alliteration, repetition, structure, plotting – we all did it! Grammar without fear!

By the end of the day, we were all excited and full of fire – exchanging numbers and deciding to meet up regularly to write.

I nearly missed it all.

Thankfully, fate has a way of treading on our toes – and thank goodness it does.

I am sharing this, dear reader, not because I imagine my life is that interesting, but with a hope and desire, that you, too, will untie the apron strings of our own procrastination and choose to live, deeply and passionately.

So, tell me, what do you want to be when you grow up? 

 

Easy like Sunday Morning…

herbal-tea

Oh! Isn’t waking up on a Sunday morning delightful? No rushing around, no alarm clock or to do list. You can simply slip back into bed with a cup of tea and cosy between the sheets while the soft grey light of February invites hibernation. I’ve been using the wonderful iPad app to catch up with bloggers, it seems to be easier to find and discover new blogs and much nicer to read than the News,- it is well after 11 when I finally emerge, with no raised blood pressure .. and blissful ignorance of politics and economics.

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I am wallowing in sensuality  this year- mostly guided by Sarah Brethenach’s Romancing the Ordinary – A year of every day indulgences – I can’t recommend it enough. In our busy lives it is so easy to lose sight of the amazing every day experiences -all it requires is a little focus and attention.

February

Cold, grey, wet, muddy mornings make the shortest month seem the longest. But lingering afternoons and pink sunsets hold out promise. Like matters of the heart, February is full of surprise, contradiction and the spell of the sensuous. Cherish your romantic impulses. Succumb to cabin fever. Indulge in armchair adventures, unusual sleuths, film noir. Become your own courtesan. Light your own fire. Have a clandestine affair with contentment. Play with your own food, hide under the covers. Rediscover, red lips, nails and shoes. Slip on bangles or slip into silk. Trade the treadmill for the Tango. Chocolate becomes you, so show off your curves. Remember flirting is good for the soul. Make peace with your past. Lose your heart to Life.

Doesn’t it make you want to snuggle deep, savour every moment of what February has to offer? The other wonderful delight at this time of year  is the chance to see the sunrise at a normal waking hour. There is nothing quite so beautiful as seeing a day unfold while the kettle gently boils, watch it for 10 minutes before returning to a warm bed.

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Sunday morning breakfasts are also something to savour, there is no hurry to be out the door, no phone calls that require our attention, no bags to pack or sandwiches to make… just time to relish – conversation over the breakfast table – fluffy omelettes and dark black tea. These soufflé omelettes need a little more time so they are perfect for a Sunday breakfast.

Place a pan on the heat to warm, while you separate three eggs. Whip the egg whites until they will stay in the bowl when you turn it upside down! Then quickly fold in the yolks carefully so as not to knock out all the air.

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Shuffle a knob of butter around the pan and then add the egg. Turn on the grill to high. while you grate  a small amount of parmesan and sprinkle generously, if you like your eggs cheesy. Then place under the grill to cook the top.

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Turn out onto a plate and eat while they are still warm and fluffy. They really do taste delightful and airy -a good start to the day.. or maybe as a brunch…

Here’s to the delights of winter… and Sundays.. !

 

 

 

Low GI, low sugar, low fat flapjack Recipe

healhty-fruit-flapjack-recipe

When we visited Paris – I was delighted with the cakes and pastries mostly because they don’t use as much sugar as we do in the UK.

Like so many others at this time of the year, I am trying to eat less sugar and fat but weaning off sugar is not easy! I find 4 0’clock is when my body craves a sugary snack, so I thought I would come up with a healthy alternative – where I can indulge a little sweetness without nullifying my exercise sessions! While a lot of flapjacks in shops look healthy, they are usually packed with too much sugar or fat.

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This is made in layers – for the base and crumble topping you need:

200g or 2 teacups of rolled oats

150g, or 1 1/2 tea cups of wholewheat flour

2 oz or 50g of Apple puree (apple sauce is a good alternative if you don’t make your own)

2 oz or 50g of butter or you can use coconut butter

Fruit sugar or honey – 1 – 2 tbsp depending on taste

The fruit layer

Fruit – cherries, blueberries, blackberries approx 1 lb

Arrow root

Fruit sugar or honey – 1 – 2 tbsp depending on taste

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Firstly, mix the flour, oats into a bowl and rub in the butter, then add enough apple puree to bring the ingredients together – aim for crumbly rather than paste. Add a little sugar to taste, (if you bought your applesauce then it might contain enough sugar) Try to keep it to 1 tbsp if you can.

Set aside about 1/4 of this mixture for the topping, and then press the rest into a well greased, (or lined with parchment) swiss roll tin, (8 by 6 inch).

Bake in a medium oven (baking oven on aga, GM 6, 180c) for around 10 minutes. This makes the base nice and crisp.

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While the base is baking, put your fruit into a saucepan and enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan and slowly bring to a simmer. You can add sugar or honey to taste, or without if you prefer. Once the fruit is soft take off the heat.

In a small cup, mix a little 1tsp of arrowroot with water to form a milky solution – add it to the fruit mixture and stir rapidly, until the sauce thickens.

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Add the fruit topping to the cooked base and sprinkle with the reserved 1/4 topping. Return to the oven until the top is golden brown.

Cut into slices and allow to cool.

This recipe cuts down on the amount of butter by using apple sauce and you can reduce the sugar down to make it less sweet. If you are trying to wean yourself off sugar then this is a great alternative to cakes or the sugar laden flapjacks. These will stay in an airtight tin for a few days ! if you can leave them that long!

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Promises Promises!

self-help-books

It is a hefty stack of books – just pulled from my shelves (most of my stuff is in storage so this is not the entire stack!)

These are all promises… and, because I like to be honest with you, these are broken promises. Most of these have gathered dust on the shelf – after an initial flick through they have been filed under ‘something to do one day…’ the problem, as you may already know is that ‘one day’ is never ‘today’.

This is the time of year when; urged by the media, we sit with that beautiful blank page diary and see opportunity. January offers a tantalizing chance to change which, in my case, reverts to a failure hangover mid January – which is the most depressing time of the year.

Maybe you don’t collect books, maybe you collect fabric, or wool or paper as a promise that one day you will actually use them. Yet, and I am confident that I am not alone on this, craft materials, books all sorts of promises and dreams pile up without ever being used.

Last year, a lovely man got in touch with me, he needed help as his wife, an avid and talented crafter, had passed away. I visited his home to see a huge collection of items that filled their home – and it really brought home to me that time is not infinite.

So.. over the next few days I hope to sit and make one more promise to myself.

I will give myself time – to sift about for what really matters to me and that begins with disconnecting from the ‘collective’ more commonly known as ‘media’

You see, I have noticed of late, that while Pinterest appears to be something creative – it is counterproductive for me.  All the time I spend pinning could be time I am actually doing something. And there are times when my creations that I was so proud of a moment ago, hold up very badly against the talented souls on Pinterest. The pins that appear in my feed are from people with extraordinary talent – where are the ordinary folk like me? Oh and while I am on the subject -I have also lost count of the times I have followed a link to a website where the original idea is lost among the advertising… (ok I will stop there before my rant gets any stronger)

While it is also great to fill my feed with spiritually uplifting groups – they are counteracting each other. I have created a vision board and imagined a new wonderful life, but I also realise that another way to happiness is mindfulness..and what is so wrong with my life right now anyway?

I love the concept of minimalism but it contradicts the creative in me – do you really need another drawing? or a painting? a new vintage style dress or a pot holder?

I like the concept of The Secret that we attract what we project… but have an issue with all illness or conflict in our lives is our own creation… how then does a baby create cancer?

So without a bit of a diet from these things it is hard to get out my head what is sparking my inner magpie and what is sparking my soul. Two very different things.

With the Christmas break falling so well this year, I have lots of time available.. so here goes. I am switching off the computer now… promise!

 

 

Remarkable Creatures – Tracey Chevalier Book review

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You might imagine Lyme Regis in Dorset on a November day would be rather bleak, but we were blessed with beautiful sunny weather when we visited last November. Lyme was enchanting, there were hardly any other tourists – the beach was empty and it was easy to enjoy a warming latte from one of the cafes on the prom.

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We ambled along the front turning up the high street to discover the most extraordinary Sanctuary Book Shop! It was full of oddities and curios including old black and white photographs and a battered sewing machine. Room after room, crammed in on every surface, books old and new jostled among teddybears and antiques. Classical music drifted around the shop, while we explored – in awe of the odd collections and tableau. If you ever get to Lyme do pop in! it is a cross between museum and book shop they even do Bed and Breakfast!

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On such a glorious day, I could not resist purchasing Tracey Chevalier’s Remarkable Creatures as a way of taking a little bit of Lyme back home with me. Not just a reminder of a perfect day, but the extraordinary bookshop!

Set in Lyme itself, Remarkable Creatures tells the story of Mary Anning – who unearthed many fossils back in the early 19th century and her friendship with Elizabeth Philpot a middle aged spinster.

Had it not been for the fact that the book would be a reminder of a perfect day, I might not have picked this book – because it doesn’t sound all that inspiring, but I had enjoyed Tracey Chevalier’s the last runaway – and what a lovely book it turned out to be!

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I had no idea about the lack of opportunities for middle class ladies, but Chevalier presented the plight of the three Philpot sisters very well – it seemed that women had only a very short time to find a husband and when they did not – they became the fringe of society. I love the way Chevalier weaves a rich story around real life characters. Mary Anning lived in Lyme- born into poverty, but able to survive by unearthing and selling her fossils – to men who took all the credit and the praise.

This is light hearted tale raises a deeper question in my mind, women’s contributions  to science and natural history, seems to be written out of history I wonder how many unsung women there are? What other female contributions are claimed by their male counterparts?  Many of Mary’s discoveries were simply attributed to the men who purchased them, rather than Mary herself. Chevalier also touches lightly on the challenges these creatures created in opposition to religious beliefs at the time. Darwin’s origin of the species is not mentioned, but Elizabeth ponders on how these discoveries fit with ‘God’s plan’.

While the Annings might be poor and the Philpotts rich in comparison, the balance of friendship is one of equality. Elizabeth’s life might not be restricted by poverty, but it is just as confined by circumstances as Mary’s is. Life for all women is not one of equality with men in all levels of society.

It is a light read – the tale is merely 350 pages, but one that I enjoyed and would recommend wholeheartedly, I liked the Philpott’s and would have liked to have spent more time with them in their cosy cottage in Lyme.

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Careful what you wish for… a lesson in minimalism

I have been interested in the concept of minimalism for some time now.  I have been enjoying reading a wide range of bloggers on the subject, made easier by using the iPad app. (it is wonderful, I can’t believe I hadn’t used it before!)

Quilt

When we moved last year, I was shocked at the huge quantity of craft materials I had accumulated over the years. It is surprising how much I had squirrelled away in nooks and crannies, but when I finally got a large studio space in which to set it all out, the room was soon full to overflowing. It did connect me with a lot of UFOS, one of which was this quilt above. I resolved not to buy any more fabric until some of these things were used or finished. It was quite satisfying, because this quilt took no more than a few hours to complete, it was the same for many other little projects.

We live in a very sought after area, it had taken us 18 months to find a property having had many struggles and blips in the process – but despite taking a lease for 2-3 years, we discovered that the landlord wanted to raise the rent by nearly £500 per month! without much notice… in fact the new agreement was overdue. We decided to look elsewhere and found the most delightful house and organised to pack up and move. I don’t know if any of you rent, but Agents give you days not weeks to move!

So, the moving day arrived, I headed to work as Scott was arranging the removal with a local company – imagine what a shock it was to discover that the new Landlord had taken a dislike to the fact we were self employed and had decided, at the 11th hour, not to let the property at all…..!

All our stuff went into storage… we checked into a nearby hotel and suddenly the concept of minimalism became a big reality. We ended up having to buy underwear and a few items of clothing in order to get through the next few days! We faced a choice, either move back into my flat or go house hunting again … at the time I was due to go to the hospital to investigate the lump in my breast so I decided that it was best to return to the flat and have a bit of stability for a while.

It  has been an interesting lesson – shockingly all our stuff required three storage units – and many of the boxes had not even been unpacked in a year! We decided to spend just one afternoon sorting through and bringing ‘essentials’ to the flat.

It was fascinating to see what I missed and what we deemed essential.

Initially furniture to sit on! We had one armchair and a rocking chair, (which was not very comfortable at all!) so it was an absolute pleasure to see the return of my sofa bed. It was bliss to see the washing machine and tumble dryer!

My clothes were a sight for sore eyes! Although only about a third of them came back to the flat with me – the flat is a quarter of the size of the house!

So over the last few months there has been a bit of a mantra.. oh that is in storage!

For example, I thought I would make a shepherd’s pie and was almost finished before I realised I hadn’t a pyrex dish to put it in. Or I decided to do baking one day, but it was impossible without scales! We have been rather lucky to find these things in charity shops, but it has been an interesting few months.

 

Mostly it is my sewing tools that I find I miss – my cutting grid, or my rotary cutter! We were going to friends for Christmas this year, so I decided to make my own crackers – including felt hats.. which all had to be hand stitched as I did not have my glue gun!

I miss our large tea pot, the Christmas Decorations, my essential oils, the sellotape dispenser!

I did not realise either, just how much I miss my books, in the end I bought another copy of Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Romancing the Ordinary, because I could not bear to be without it.

It has been a sifting exercise, a reality check – and it has surprised me at times what I missed and what I didn’t.

What is clear to me, is how blessed I really am and how many things in life might not be essential – but they are small things that make life pleasurable.

What do you think you couldn’t live without?

 

Ghostly tales -Book recommendations for Christmas Reading


December’s bleak weather – drab grey clouds creating a state of perpetual twilight in the short daylight hours contrasts sharply with the twinkling lights of Christmas Decorations. No wonder we all huddle in the warmth and light of our homes, gather together by a crackling fire and read dark brooding tales. Winter weather gives rise to the the gothic novel, Frankenstein was written after a lengthy storm, maybe the tapping of rain against the windows gives us a deep contrast to our cosy nest, that just beyond the walls, something lurks.

It was a Victorian tradition to tell ghost stories on Christmas Eve – maybe created by Charles Dickens Christmas Carol although Shelly’s Modern Promethus better known as Frankinstein was written a good twenty years earlier after a particularly violent storm.    Whatever the tradition, there is nothing nicer than being curled up safe and warm reading brooding gothic tales – I thought I would offer some recommendations as alternatives to the flickering box on the wall.


The Winter Ghosts – by Kate Mosse

Kate is a local author to West Sussex, I was delighted to meet her a few years ago. She has written a number of books but this is an engaging a ghostly tale. Set in France between the wars our protagonist, Freddie is lost; not just on his way to Ax-les-Thermes to spend time with friends but suffering deep grief at his brother’s death.  He is caught up in a blizzard high on a mountain road – crashes his car and wanders towards the nearest village.  In the woods, he hears a woman’s voice calling.

This is a good read – the ghosts are not scary enough to give you sleepless nights. The tale is evocative – the atmosphere definitely one that makes this tale believable. Although you might need to wrap up warm – his wandering in the snow made me gather lots of blankets round me!


The Woman in Black – Susan Hill

This is my favourite gothic novel – one that set me on the road to reading more from this genre. The tale begins with the cosiness of a happy family gathered round the fire on Christmas Eve, where the protagonist, Arthur Kipps, is asked to tell a ghost story by his step children. This evokes terrifying memories for Arthur – of his time spent in the aptly named Eel Marsh House – the memories surface and disturb his peace.  Arthur is unable to rest until he has written his account down on paper.

Unlike the film, this story is darkly plausible – Arthur convinces us that until the visit to Eel Marsh House, he was a man of logic, one not easily given to melodrama and superstition. The Woman in Black is a tale of heartbreak and revenge – whenever she is seen death follows shortly behind, he fears catching sight of her and is always looking over his shoulder. The happiness of his family home, the joy of love and peace that surrounds the house is not able to drive out his fear, instead it casts a shadow on his life – will he escape her clutches or will she get her revenge?


Florence and Giles – John Harding

Set in New England – this tale of innocence, neglect and crumbling mansions has all the elements to create a gothic story. Florence and Giles roam free, while servants go about their business in the absence of the Master of the house and uncle to the children. Florence is forbidden to read, because her uncle was rejected by an educated woman. However Florence is not to be thwarted, she escapes to the library, hides herself away and teaches herself to read, devouring novel after novel in her Uncle’s vast library.

I have been a life long reader – my childhood was spent escaping into books, so I could relate to Florence and felt sympathy with her almost straight away. I loved the way Harding gave Florence a strange way of speaking – creating her own words and phases that were uniquely her own and quite endearing.

However, we are talking gothic novel – where suspense and horror lie. It gathers pace, in a similar way to the Turning of the Screw – layer upon layer  right up to the horrifying conclusion. It left me completely traumatised at the end – with a complete book hangover for several weeks. Read if you dare!

 

 

The importance of Art

knitted sculpture

I’ve gone through quite an upheaval in the last few months, with visits to the hospital for tests etc, thankfully it has all turned out to be nothing too serious and I am having a small lump removed from my breast tomorrow.

One lovely thing about visiting the hospital is that there are a lot of wonderful pieces of art everywhere – including this lovely rhino with his knitted heart and eyes! I am so grateful for the artists who donate their pictures, there was one in particular of a beautiful flower that was nice to focus on while I had a biopsy, I wish I could tell the artist how much that lifted me during a worrying time.

We are planning a lovely two weeks away in Dorset to recover after my op, and I am looking forward to rest!

 

Sunday Sevens..14 August

Saturday breakfast

Somehow, Saturday morning breakfasts are the best of the week, not only time to make these little scotch pancakes (they are low GI and wholemeal!) but all the lovely promise of two days to enjoy.

We went on with our local to Glorious Goodwood Ladies Day, it was a beautiful morning – I think I enjoyed seeing the outfits more than the horses. This red dress really caught my eye – these sisters were enjoying pimms before the racing. Unfortunately, after an hour of sunshine the rain set in! At one point we could barely see the horses! I came home with the same money I left with – having only lost one bet! which was quite an achievement.

cucumber

My cucumber is really doing well – the fruits are enormous! We are investigating a couple of recipes for preservation – it would be nice to enjoy the freshness for as long as possible. My tomato plants are also giving a few ripe fruits – delicious and sweet. It has encouraged me to buy some winter cabbage and spinach seeds to see us through the winter. The veg box I bought a couple of weeks ago is still going strong – with a few fattening leeks among the seeding herbs.

We took a trip to Little Woodham in Gosport – it is a delightful little living history village – populated by re-enactors of the mid 16th Century. More on this visit soon.

cheesecake

 

We are enjoying having the Aga – it is our only cooker – it’s gentle heat is always welcome – despite the summer our kitchen remains pleasant. I decided to try a cooked cheesecake recipe – as the warming oven is perfect.

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I find that if you cook the biscuit base with the cheesecake it comes out all soggy – so I made the cheesecake first then added the biscuits to the top.

Cheese cake Aga

It might look a little messy, but it takes delicious!

Breakfast poached peaches

Mr D made some poached peaches for breakfast on Sunday… enough to bring the sunshine for the rest of the week.

Outlander Series one and The Witches Daughter – book review

Outlander-TV_series-2014

We bought an Amazon TV stick and have been enjoying some great films; this Series kept on popping up in our feed, so we decided to try it.

The basic story is about an Army Nurse in the 1940’s who is visiting Scotland with her husband after the war. One day she visits a standing stone circle and falls back in time by 200 years.

I really enjoyed the first half of the series, it was great learning about the clan culture and seeing Claire navigate her way in another time. She used her knowledge to heal and earned respect for her skills. She falls in love with one of the characters (I’ll try not to spoil it) but somehow when we reached two thirds of the way in I began to feel my interest waning.  How many times did she ignore advice and get herself in trouble? I find I was getting restless at her inability  to learn from her mistakes.

Beyond episode 11, I was watching it alone, Mr D having lost interest and it was becoming too romantic even for my interest, but the final episode left me frustrated and angry! What began as a promising tale – seemed to take a turn that left me feeling uncomfortable to watch. It seems to me that current box sets seem to desire to push boundaries, but I find it difficult to understand why the last episode would be so dire.

We became sucked into Game of Thrones a few months back – the first series was gripping, but when we reached the end of series five I felt sickened by the sheer violence depicted and refuse to watch any more. (Seriously, seeing someone squeeze a person’s eyeballs out of their sockets is gruesome! a final straw after episode after episode of skinning people alive, cutting off hands, beheading and poisoning, it is not my idea of entertainment)

However, I shall give the second series of Outlander another chance in order to recover the initial enthusiasm, maybe try and see if the books are any better than the TV series, Game of Thrones readers say there is not the same level of violence in the books.

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Outlander left me with an interest in time travelling tales: The Witches Daughter was an interesting read. I am not really into witchcraft but I do love the concept of fantasy and adventure.

Bess sees her mother hanged as a witch, with good reason it turns out. She is taught how to cast spells by a warlock called Gideon, who eventually helps her to become immortal. We follow Bess through three lives with Gideon hot on her tail.

It is an entertaining story , Paula Brackston is a talented writer: the story moves quickly and easily to a satisfying conclusion.

A good read I will give it five stars.

What do you think of time travelling tales?