Sunday, 29 July 2012

Project 365+1: Days 204 - 210

This week has been decidedly wet. The few days when I would have liked to have gotten out to take photos have been those drizzly sort of days where the sun is shining one minute but then when you look back five minutes later, it's chucking it down. This was actually the case yesterday when I went to take Tara in the garden and as I opened the door a curtain of rain moved towards the house (soaking my laundry hanging on the airer outside)!

I'm always wary of taking my camera out when it might get damp, so alas, not really any outdoors photos this week. I've also been suffering a bit from hayfever as well, which means that our walks are generally as long as the number of tissues I have in my pockets. On the plus side, I have managed to avoid using any iPhone pictures for my Project 365+1 this week, so that's progress in one way at least.

Day 204: Take Note
Many years ago I ran a Lord of the Rings website which I had high hopes for, but didn't have the technical prowess to actually do it. Last year I decided to revamp it and have another go with it, I started putting something together (and finally mastered the forum software that I'd wanted to use) but then it got hacked and spammed and I put it to one side until I was able to get access back to it and do more with it.

And I've finally worked out what it is I'm wanting to do, so when we were off the island the other week I picked up a little notebook for planning and notes. This one seemed fitting for the subject. It's slowly filling up with lists and ideas.

And I've learnt my lesson from the first version, I'm spending some time making graphics at the moment. Not one of my strongest points but I feel like I'm slowly learning as I go along. Giving myself until the end of the year to get it fully launched.

Day 205: Bug
One thing that I didn't mention when I did the post about Tara was her toys. When we got her she already had a bit of a collection of chew toys, some of which she destroyed within a few weeks. Her football now lives with my in-laws because they've got a bigger garden than us so more room to chase it. I've since bought her a Kong which is a firm favourite, but her two top toys are still her 'blankie' and Bug (pictured above).

Bug originally had six legs, green wings and red antennae, unfortunately Tara took it upon herself to relieve him of these appendages, which she proceeded to eat. After one too many times of having to wrestle bits out of her mouth or noticing that there's a bit missing and wondering where it had gone, we decided to give Bug's remaining limbs a trim which makes him look a little bit sorry for himself, but Tara doesn't mind in the slightest.

Day 206: New Format
I've been ploughing through The Lord of the Rings this week, so when I got to the end of The Fellowship of the Ring I decided to take a moment to compare the ebook version to the massive illustrated version. I have to say, despite bopping myself on the nose with my Kindle in bed the other night, it did not hurt anywhere near as much as when you do it with a hardback book (this particular hardback copy of The Lord of the Rings would probably warrant a trip to casualty).

It's taking me a little bit longer to get through the ebook version than the book version. I think part of it is that although you have the percentage figure showing you how far through the book you are, you don't actually have a physical representation of that figure. I'm enjoying the fact that it fits in my bag though, most single volume copies leave you seriously pushed for space!

Day 207: Simba
Mr Click picked up this Simba for me during the week. He's a hot water bottle cover/pyjama case which, considering I don't use hot water bottles since one burst on me in bed at the age of seven, I'm using for storing my nightwear in. This Simba originally came from Disneyland in Florida and when he picked me up from work Mr Click sent me round the back of the house where the washing was drying because he'd hung him on the airer outside after he'd been washed.

Tara is very interested in him and seems to think that she should be allowed to play with him, so far I've managed to keep them apart (hey, you've seen what she did to Bug!) but it's kind of funny the way she begs to play with him while I'm stuffing my jammies in there.

Day 208: Shiny Kitchen
Mr Click's domain is the kitchen, I generally feed the pets in there, help wash up or sort laundry. He gave the room a good clean this week. I came home from work to find it looking all shiny, smelling all fresh, the floor all mopped and the dog corner of the kitchen all tidied. I'm not sure how long he spent working on it, but it certainly looks good.

Day 209: Sleepy Pup
I very nearly missed my first day this week. We spent the evening, and best part of the night, at my in-laws' house to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremony. I was so absorbed by it that I totally forgot to take a picture until around 11pm, then found that photos of the TV screen weren't really coming out very well. But Tara obliged when she tried crawling onto my lap at about quarter-to-twelve, wanting to know why we hadn't gone home yet.

I really enjoyed the Ceremony, it was just incredible, so well put together and I was pretty much hooked all the way through. I wish it had started about an hour earlier because it seemed to go on forever when they were bringing all the athletes in. That night I crawled into bed and fell asleep at about 1:30am, woke at 7am and thought 'must take Tara out' then promptly fell back to sleep until 8am. Went back to bed for breakfast and reading, then snuggled up for a cuddle at about 11:45am, and fell asleep until around 12:30! I'm obviously getting too old for these late nights.

Day 210: Wild Flowers
These flowers caught my eye in the garden earlier in the week and I've been meaning to get out and get a photo of them ever since, but what I didn't realise until yesterday is the way that they've coiled themselves around the wire of the fence. In fact, the white flowers on the right have gone on to grow around a tall weedy plant growing on the other side of the fence (so I've wrapped it around the fence top in the hope that it'll encourage the flowers to grow there instead).

I love the way it looks. We've got to clear some more of the weeds that are sprouting up along the edge of the fence, but I'm determined to try and leave these where they are because they look really good.

In this next week I'm starting a new shift pattern at work, so I suspect that I'm going to be rather confuzzled for most of the week about which day it is, hehe. Hopefully I'll remember to take my pictures each day and upload them on Sunday!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Book 57 of 2012: Wintersmith

"'You're staring hard at me, Billy Bigchin,' said Miss Treason. 'Are ye afraid?'
'No, mistress, I wuz admirin' ye. I' does my heart good tae see a witch so... witchy.'

Page 62

I'm getting very close to the end of the series of Discworld books now, the latest that I've read was Wintersmith, another in the series featuring Tiffany Aching. In this one she accidentally joins a dance with the Wintersmith who subsequently falls head over heels in love with her and prevents Summer from returning. It's then up to Tiffany to convince the Wintersmith that he doesn't love her while she's kind of becoming Summer herself. It's a little bit complicated.

"They say that there can never be two snowflakes that are exactly alike, but has anyone checked lately?"Page 108

"The door knob on the door to the tower bedroom was rattled angrily. Roland de Chumsfanleigh (pronounced Chuffley, it wasn't his fault) carefully paid it no attention."Page 112

I really enjoyed this one. I probably say that about all of the Terry Pratchett books that I read but this one was very, very funny. I love it when you get a book that you find yourself chuckling to yourself as you read it. The one problem with the way the Discworld books are written is that you often end up with a running joke that can go on for several pages; I'd love to read out some of the funny bits to Mr Click but I'd have to go back and read half a dozen pages out loud for him to get the full impact.

"The Feegles didn't know the meaning of the word 'fear'. Sometimes Tiffany wished they'd read a dictionary. They fought like tigers, they fought like demons, they fought like giants. What they didn't do was fight like something with more than a spoonful of brain."Page 181

Although Wintersmith continues the story of Tiffany Aching, we get to see a few brief mentions from other characters who have featured in other stories; particularly from Going Postal. They're really a sort of blink-and-you'll-miss-it mentions and it doesn't matter if you've not read the other books. If you have it's a nice little nod back to what's come before, if you've not they're just interesting names. It's good fun to see if you can spot previous characters when they crop up in Pratchett's books, in this one Anoia (the goddess of things stuck in drawers) and Groat (a postman from Going Postal) both cropped up and I felt smug for a couple of moments because I knew all about them already.

"Some of the books they loaned were so old that the printing had been worn grey by the pressure of people's eyeballs reading it."Page 224

As with other Discworld books, I found myself struggling to pick which quotes to write into my book journal. As I said above, lots of the funny bits are gradually built up towards so you can't write out all of the bits that you like or find funny. Normally I try to write out five quotes, for Wintersmith I managed to squeeze in eight (but I had to write in very teeny tiny writing).

"Things went noisily and with a certain amount of fuss, but nothing like Mrs Obble had predicted, and the result was a baby boy, who was not a bouncing baby but only because Tiffany caught him; Annagramma didn't know how to hold babies."Pages 252-253

This one was also a little bit heavier on the Nac Mac Feegles which I love, they're a brilliant invention and I really enjoy seeing them crop up in the books. I suspect that their presence in the book is probably closely related to the number of quotes that I copied out. They're so hilarious and I suppose that having spent better part of my life living in Scotland I can appreciate the sense of humour (as well as the way that they're viewed by the other characters).

"Tiffany fought to stay awake. Some witches could sleep on a broomstick, but she didn't dare try in case she dreamed she was falling and woke up to find that it was true but soon wouldn't be."Page 327

I'm looking forward to the next book in the series because with each one a little more time has passed so Tiffany has aged a little more and learned a little more. Plus, as Tiffany learns more about being a witch, so we learn more about being a witch. It took me several attempts to get into the Discworld series originally, but it was the books featuring the witches that got me sucked in so I'm pleased to have found more books with them in.

"First, she visited Nanny Ogg, who had to be told everything. That saved some time, because once you've told Nanny Ogg you'd more or less told everyone else."Page 388

Monday, 23 July 2012

Ten Things About Tara

Tara often gets mentions in my weekly photo post, but I thought it was about time for a little post just about her, so here are ten little facts about Tara.

1. Tara has recently decided that our bed is her bed. When we got her, she came with a bed all of her very own, a lovely soft red padded one. Despite having plenty of proper dog toys, she quite enjoyed killing her bed, so we moved it from the end of our bed to my side of the bed. So she largely abandoned it, choosing to sleep on a jumper of Mr Click's on his side of the bed.

Well, recently she decided that there was more comfort to be had on our bed. Whereas she used to wake us up in the morning by sticking a cold wet nose under the covers, now we get to sleep in relative peace, as long as we tolerate the large labrador lying between us. Sometimes she turns around sidey-ways with her bum on my legs and her head on Mr Click's legs. She's very comfy... we're kind of pinned into the bed, but at least it's very cosy so we probably won't need any heating on this winter!

2. Tara very quickly got the hang of travelling by car. Then she realised that up front with us looked like a far better place to sit, so she started trying to climb through between the seats. Luckily my in-laws had an old dog-guard that we were able to get installed in the back, so she started eating the mat in the back. Just when we thought we'd solved that problem Mr Click opened the back of the car one day and Tara took off down the lane.

We've now rigged up a fancy dog seatbelt in the back for her and since doing that she's back to being a model passenger (apart from occasionally trying to eat her lead). She happily sits in the back of the car, watching the world go by, and sometimes shouting at other drivers who she thinks are getting too close.

3. Tara has many nicknames. I often refer to her as Tara!pup (although she's not so much of a puppy any more, no one seems to have informed her of this). Tara is close enough to 'Terror' that she practically answers both. When we're talking about her she's 'Madam' and 'Trouble', sometimes she's Tara-Trouble or just Trouble for short when we're calling her. She's also our little 'Sock Monster'. My Mum-in-law also calls her Tara-Clara (a play on her maiden name). Generally speaking she answers to anything, as long as there's a biscuit at the other end of it.

4. She loves tea! It all started with my in-laws giving her a cup of tea when everyone else has their cup of tea at mid-afternoon, but then she was feeling a bit left out when they had their morning cuppa, so now she has one then as well. Her favourite, I'm reliably informed, is Yorkshire Tea (though when she's at home she has to make do with the boring Scottish Blend stuff). Apparently tea is very good for dogs' coats, and I think it shows, she's ever so shiny.

5. Tara is very interested in the rats; the rats are quite interested in Tara. Tara's quite happy to lie down in front of their cage (which is at dog-level) and watch the goings-on in there. Occasionally she gets a little excited and will bump the cage bars with her nose, which is obviously when we would intervene. When she's getting a little too friendly or if we're wanting to watch TV in peace without having to worry about what Tara's getting up to with the girlie!rats we rig up a little divider by opening the cupboard opposide the cage and wedging a board across the gap. It means Tara can still watch the fun in the cage, but can't actually get to the girls.

She's very interested in rattie tails, sometimes she'll try to lick at them which is something we're trying to stop her from doing because we really don't fancy taking any rats to the vets because Tara's gotten carried away. Of all the rats I think her favourites are probably Holly and Carol (Bell tends to lunge towards her which winds her up and Ivy is a bit scared of her); Carol climbs up and down the bars letting Tara sniff and lick at her belly and tail, while Holly thinks we don't feed Tara enough and posts bits of paper out the bars for Tara!pup to clean up, hehe.

6. She's gotten much better on her lead. We've gone through several leads since we got her, partly because she's eaten them! But partly because we've been trying to find out what works best for her. My Mum-in-law lent us a choker-type lead which was very good for walking her, except that she liked chewing it, and it was made of rope, so it didn't last long (read: about three walks). We replaced it with a pink version which lasted quite a bit longer along with an extendable lead (which we use for the beach and sometimes when we walk to Kerrycroy or other more open walks). The extendable lead has been a bit chewed but is holding up quite well.

Several people recommended 'haltie' leads for her because she can be a bit pully, but she's got to the stage where most of the time she walks quite well unless there's someone up ahead that she's wanting to go and say hello to. But the chewing on the lead was a bit inconvenient, so we invested in a couple of metal chains and a new collar for her and since then she's been doing much better. She still occasionally tries to nibble on it, but is gradually learning that this isn't such a good idea.

7. One of the best things that I've bought her was a black (for 'extreme chewers') Kong. She had a bunch of run of the mill dog toys that she gradually destroyed. Some of them only lasted minutes before she'd broken a piece off and was in danger or swallowing the squeak or some other bit of it. I was a little bit sceptic of the Kongs, we'd never given our dogs them before and considering the rate at which she was getting through the other dog toys I was a little worried that I would throw £15 away on something that wouldn't last any longer than the others.

Well I was wrong. It's quite heavy and the rubber is super thick, so even after a month and a half of almost daily chewing it's still barely got a mark on it (do I sound like an advertisement for these things?). You can get things to stuff inside it too, though we've not bothered with any of that, instead I've discovered that you can post some of the kibble mix we put in with her tinned food in through the big hole (but it doesn't come out the small hole at the other end), then use a bit of dog biscuit to plug up the end. Even after she's pulled the bit of biscuit out, she has to roll the Kong end over end to get the kibble out, which can keep her occupied for a little while.

8. We've only got a small garden, it's got a paved area right outside the back door and then the rest is gravel. It's also kind of shared with our next door neighbour so we don't really go out there to play. What we do instead is go for really long walks around the estate. As a result of this, she really seems to think that the whole of the grounds belong to her. She trots around the place like she owns it.

We've got three main walks; to the back gate, to the front gate and to Kerrycroy. Generally on a morning before work we'll do the walk to the back gate and then do one of the other two walks after work (if it's a dress down day Mr Click will drop us off at either Kerrycroy or the front gate and we'll walk back home from there). On average we estimate that we walk about five miles a day with her, which is doing wonders for our daily step counts.

9. I've been working to teach her some little tricks. She already knew 'sit' and 'paw/five' when she came to us. I'm a little bit pleased that she does tricks best for me, though it would be nice if she would do them for other people too. So far I've got her to 'stay' while we're getting her food. The other day I kept on saying 'stay' and she stayed with her food on the floor for quite a while. She's gotten really good at waiting for her food (though it does depend what it is, sometimes she'll totally ignore you because the food is obviously far more interesting than you are).

She's slowly getting the hang of 'roll over'. I thought she'd find it easy because she likes to sleep lying on her back with all her legs in the air (something she's done since she was a tiny pup, judging from the photos), but she's not really very good at the actual roll over bit. So far she kind of tips onto one side and waves a paw in the air, which is close enough for me. To begin with she would sort of belly crawl along the floor if she wasn't sure what you wanted her to do, so I'm thinking I might try teaching her to crawl at some point.

10. Tara is a bit of a thief, she likes picking things up on her walks or wandering off with things around the house. It started several months ago when I realised that one of my stuffed toys in the spare bedroom had decided to travel across the room apparently of its own accord. All was revealled several days later when Tara came downstairs with the aforementioned stuffed toy in her mouth.

She's taught us to be more religious about emptying the living room bin (the bedroom bin now lives on top of the wardrobe in the bedroom). She likes to help herself to tissues out of the bins (which are apparently a great delicacy if you're a dog); she also makes off with receipts which have been hanging around in the recycling too long (apparently she's concerned about identity theft as well). Out walking she'll pick up random bits of leaf or twig as well as one of her person favourites on the sea front; mussle shells, hehe.

I've also learnt to be more careful with the laundry. She likes helping with the socks, taking them off the airer if they're becoming too dry (and chewing on them to make them nice and wet again), or removing them from your feet if she thinks they're getting a bit smelly (even if you've only just put them on!) I also have the tastiest feet on the planet, she likes to lick them and will happily nibble on my toes if I let her (which doesn't happen that often because sometimes she gets carried away and nips a bit too hard, also, slimy dog slobber feet aren't very attractive).

So that's ten facts about Tara. I'm planning to post some about the Holly, Ivy, Carol and Bell as well, just as soon as I can coax them to sit still long enough for some new photos!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Project 365+1: Days 197 - 203

This week it's been just about as cold and wet as you might expect from a Scottish summer, though we've have a couple of bright spells in between the downpours (one day in particular when I was able to actually go outside and take some photos, which was nice).

I've been trying to take more pictures with my fancy camera, rather than just relying on my phone all the time. Of course, not all of my photos this week were taken using my camera. There were a couple of days when I just couldn't be bothered to dig it all out (or I'd stowed it out of Tara-Trouble's way and so didn't have it to hand when a photo opportunity presented itself), but there are some very nice photos for this last week.

Day 197: Peeling Paint
This was taken looking out of one of our side windows. When we moved in the house was a sort of creamy colour with reddish brown on the stonework round the windows, but when they were getting ready to open the holiday home nextdoor we all got a new look in white and black. Unfortunately, the black paintwork round the side of the house hasn't held up too well, mainly because of a fierce hailstorm we had a few weeks after it was done.

Day 198: Evergreen
We were given a couple of fir trees which stand on either side of our front door, and this is the very tip of the stragglier of the two. I've always thought that they should stay green all year round, but during the spring of this year they went all brown and most of the needles fell off. A bit of plant food and extra water perked them right back up (though skinny tree is needing some weeding done on its pot). I'm pleased with how healthy looking they are now.

Day 199: Welcome
This is the little thing that hangs on the door handle leading into the living room. It was part of a new home set of gifts that some friends gave us when we moved in (they also gave us the 'and they lived happily ever after' wall hanging which is directly beneath our Victorian photo). Mr Click took Tara for a walk the other evening while I stayed home reading and this was pretty much my view from my chair, I couldn't help but think it'd make a good photo... so here it is!

Day 200: The Hungry Ghost Festival
Earlier this week I posted a photo of my friend Jen's book in Waterstones. Well, the day I spotted that book (Wednesday for anyone trying to keep track) I came home to find another Jen-shaped book waiting for me. This time it's a copy of her recently published poetry collection.

I've known Jen (online) for about four years now and have been impressed by her writing talents for pretty much that whole time, so I'm really looking forward to getting started on this. Unfortunately it was published the week that I decided to reread The Lord of the Rings so it might be another week or so before I get a chance to read it.

Day 201: In With The New
On Wednesday we took my father-in-law's car to Ayr to be serviced and MOT'd which was a brilliant excuse for some retail therapy. One of the things I love best about Ayr is the charity shops. I really enjoy going around charity shops and it's great when you come away with interesting bargains. There is also a Brantano's and a Pets at Home there so as I needed new trainers and some walking boots the plan was to stop in there (as well as to get some treats for the girls and Tara).

Well, the second charity shop we went into had those brown boots in it. Mr Click spotted them straight away, insisted I tried them on, and just like Cinderella, they fit perfectly. Only £5 (which gave me a much bigger trainer budget in Brantano's, though I only spent £1 more on those black and purple trainers than I did on those dirty looking blue ones four years ago). Yup, I've been wearing/living in the same comfy old pair of trainers for almost half a decade (there are children out there who weren't even conceived when I got those shoes). So we decided it was time to retire them.

I also found two books, a set of Gilbert & Sullivan CDs, a nice new top for work, some jeans for Mr Click and I spent a small fortune on some new notebooks because I've run out and couldn't pick between three (so went for them all). We also stocked up on rattie food and treats and biscuits for Tara (though Mr Click wouldn't let me get a £10 chew that was as big as she is, he has promised her one for her birthday next month though...) All in all, a very successful day!

Day 202: Blue Flowers
Now that Tara's getting so much better on her lead, it's easier for me to take my camera with me when we go walking. I'd been hoping to get some good pictures of the wildlife during out evening walk, but the birds we saw flew away too quickly to catch and the only other animal we saw was a hare (which was a bit too far away to catch clearly). But I'm quite pleased with the way that these blue flowers turned out. There are so many fancy flowers on the estate that one day when the weather is nice I'm going to make it my mission to go and get some nice photos of some of them!

Day 203: Yellow Bread
As you can see, it's been a colourful week here at the Click house. Yesterday we had a bit of a lazy day. I spent most of my time redesigning a Lord of the Rings site that I used to run and we watched a bit of TV. Other than that it was fairly relaxed. At one point I stayed in with Tara and read The Lord of the Rings while Mr Click went out with his radio.

He returned with some funky homemade bread that was an interesting yellow colour (this photo doesn't really do it justice) from the local farm shop on the estate. This was a very good call because we'd both been too busy/lazy to actually make a loaf ourselves and so there wasn't really anything for tea. Mr Click suggested cheese on toast but I pushed for soup, and I won, so here's our chicken & pasta soup with funky yellow bread. It was fantastic!

And what's up for next week in the Click household?

Well, I'm hoping to finish rereading The Lord of the Rings this week, so we're planning a movie marathon at the end of the week. Other than that... let's hope we have some more good weather so I can get outside with my camera a little more.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Book spotting

Whenever I'm in a book shop, I play this little game where I try to spot my friend Jen's book. I've been trying to get a photo of it for a while but have been put off by the fact that people might think I'm a bit of a weird customer myself.

But on Wednesday I decided it didn't bother me so when I found Weird Things I snapped a quick picture.

And then got home to find Jen's poetry collection, The Hungry Ghost Festival had arrived! Better hurry up with The Lord of the Rings then...

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Project 365+1: Days 190 - 196

Is it just me or has it been a really long week? I've been on an early shift this week and I think that's probably what's done it for me, even though I'm going to bed relatively early, it makes the days seem longer somehow; so by the time that it's Tuesday you feel as though it should be at least Thursday.

Mr Click has also managed to generously share his cold with me as well, which didn't help much. That combined with suffering because my op earlier this year seems to have made things worse, rather than better, has meant that I spent most of the week looking forward to the weekend. Which has come around at last and been wonderfully relaxing - exactly what I've needed.

So, on to the pictures!
Day 190: Cold Cure
On Sunday my very lovely husband had been craving spring rolls, so I sent him out in search of some Cold & Flu relief, spring rolls and 'something nice' for me. He remembered the first two items on the list, at least. I was very grateful for my drugs, it certainly made it easier to sleep and get through work. Sunday night I ended up curled up in bed with a book (The Emigrants) another book intended for my literature course with the OU, probably the best way to go about beating a cold!

Day 191: More Reading Material
Over the last few weeks, Mr Click has been bringing me home more reading material in the form of my film magazines. I get both Empire and Total Film (and I'm enjoying reliving a little bit of the geekery I felt during my teens when I was waiting for installments of Lord of the Rings in the cinema). Unfortunately I've been a bit too focused on reading books and ebooks lately (that and I've been playing with my phone and catching up online after work while we watch DVDs rather than reading magazines as I've done in the past) so I'm building up quite a stash at the moment.

In the next few weeks I'm aiming to get totally on top of this growing pile of magazines, unfortunately there'll probably be three more waiting to be read by that time!

Day 192: Walking Home
If I'm finishing work late/getting home late/have been somewhere after work and am dressed in dog-walking appropriate clothing, Mr Click will drop me off somewhere along the way and Tara and I will walk home together. This is especially good at times because it means that Mr Click can get houseworky things out the way and tea started without falling over Tara and/or me.

I like it because it tires Tara out so we can relax in peace and eat our meal or whatever we're doing with a sleepy labrador at our feet (instead of on our plates). Plus I get to walk through the grounds, listening to my music and having a bit of time to myself.

Funnily enough, this picture was taken after nine o'clock at night, it was so lovely and warm and sunny out. I love our bedroom in the summer, we've got quite thin curtains so I can take advantage of the long nights and laze in bed reading without having to worry about switching lights on or off.

Day 193: Calendar
On the 11th, which I believe was a Wednesday, I could think of absolutely nothing to photograph. So I took a picture of my calendar. When all else fails, take a photo which you can immediately tell which day you too it on.

I can't say that the 11th of July is a particularly significant day for me. It was a Wednesday this year, which is nice; Wednesdays are good because you know you're getting past that middle part of the week and from that moment on every minute is a little closer to the weekend. It's also one week from the day when we'll be taking a trip to Ayr for a bit of shopping, but aside from that, there was really no reason for this photo!

Day 194: All Clean
This week has been a pretty good week for doing laundry. What with both of us having out OU final assessments, we sort of focused on getting those out the way, and then afterwards just wanted to relax. Since then we've been gradually getting back on top of things.

Doing laundry is one of my favourite housework jobs. I think it's because you don't actually have to do very much; throw some clothes in the machine with some powder or whatever, set it going, then go and read a book and watch a film, dig it all out, hang it up, go back to what you were doing before until it's time to turn it all around or take it down. Easy. I have far too much fun doing the laundry!

Day 195: Devil Bones
And this is my latest reading material this week. I'm hoping to finish it this afternoon/evening all ready to start reading my ebook copy of The Lord of the Rings. I'd planned to read something else before going on to that, but I've got through this a bit quicker than I had expected, presumably because I've not read it before, but it does also seem to be a bit thinner than other Tempe Brennan books.

Day 196: Fresh Bedding
Yesterday we spent a bit of time doing some housework. I finished doing what Mr Click had started doing in the bathroom earlier in the week while he attacked the bedroom, staircase, kitchen floor and some other little jobs around the place.

This included changing our bedding, as evidenced by the crappy iPhone picture above (taken during an 'oh shoot, I've not taken a photo yet today!' moment at bedtime). It was all lovely and cosy and fresh when I got into bed last night. No wrinkled sheets, comfy, nice smelling pillow... well, until about 3am when Tara decided to hop up and join us.

Our bed is a nice comfortable size, but it feels a bit cramped when there's a ten-tonne labrador on your feet!

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Sock Monster

One of Tara's (many) nicknames is Sock Monster...

... can't think why...

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Book 56 of 2012: Falling Into Green

Falling Into Green by Cher Fischer touts itself as 'an Eco-mystery' which I'll admit is part of what attracted me to it. It sounded like an interesting concept and I'm always keen to find out more about the environment so I happily requested a review copy and I was pretty pleased when I got it.

It follows Esmeralda, whose friend committed suicide at the age of sixteen, as she witnesses history repeating itself after her friend Charlie's niece is found dead at the foot of the same cliff. As the detective works to solve the crime (and possibly steal Esmeralda's boyfriend), Esmeralda becomes deeply involved in the mystery and as this happens, so she becomes more determined to find out the truth.

At the beginning of this book I was reminded of the Kathy Reichs books I have been reading recently. Both feature strong female characters acting as the narrator for the story, which is told from a first-person point of view. This meant that I was drawn into it straightaway, I guess it just matched my expectations of what a mystery/detective-type story should be.

I have to admit that I didn't really warm to Esmeralda much during the course of the book. She was an interesting character but I did struggle to find her likeable. Esmeralda has very strong beliefs about the environment and she doesn't hesitate to let the reader know about them, which made me feel like she was quite an obsessive sort of character. It's something that she was aware of herself, deliberately mentioning the fact that she was judging her boyfriend based on the car that he was driving, but she took it to such extremes that it kind of made her very irritating. If I knew her in real life I don't think I would be able to stand being around her for more than a few minutes at a time.

The big twist/reveal in the story was not only the solution to the murder of Charlie's niece, but also the reason for Charlie's suicide, something that Esmeralda had never understood. I did find that a little bit implausible. Without wanting to give too much away about the story; I would be surprised if the real reason had never come up in some sort of inquest and why the family would even want to cover something up like that.

There was a strong environmental message to the story. I quite liked reading about some of the alternatives to non-environmentally friendly products/approaches, but at times it did come across as a little bit preachy. I did find myself picking up and putting down the book, because there's only so much of that that I can take at a time. It was interesting to read about California and I liked the way that the landscape was as much a character in this story as the flesh and blood people.

One thing I did find a bit strange was the idea of 'ecopsychology' which is actually the author's profession. It's to do with how one's environment can influence one's psychology; which makes enough sense for me, I guess. A little bit out there, but understandable enough. Esmeralda also does this thing where she 'fuses' with her environment; the plants or animals around her. I found that a little bit strange, but I overlooked that because it was fiction after all.

On the whole it was a pretty good read. I'd probably be interested to read more by the same author.

"We want more food, and bigger chickens and cows to eat, so we pump them up with all sorts of chemicals and create antibiotic-resistant disease. We want to base the world's economy on oil, so we pump it into the air and get climate change."Location 3945

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Book 54 of 2012: The Book of Fire

I've been meaning to write this review for almost a month now and I've just not seemed to be able to find the motivation for it, I'm not even sure why. I keep on telling myself to just go on to the next book review and come back to this one, but I can't seem to bring myself to do that either, so I'm going to finally get this written and hopefully get (re-)caught up with my reviews!

The Book of Fire is the first book in a series featuring Cressida Widdershins who is a young girl living on an alternative version of our Earth. In her world the continents never split and most of the population has magic powers. Cressida is one of the few who has no powers at all, and she just happens to acquire a magic book which an evil cult wants to use to begin an ice age which will wipe out most of the life on Earth. Together with her friends, she has to find a way to stop this from happening.
Now I did quite enjoy this story. It was a pretty good concept, the world was pretty original and I liked the fact that Cressida was one of a very tiny percentage of the population who didn't have magical powers. There was a good sense of humour in the story as well, at times it reminded me of Terry Pratchett, which is always a good thing.

I think that it would probably appeal to a younger audience, possibly those who aren't quite ready for Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket. At times I found myself drawing parallels between those stories as well. However, I did find myself wondering at times whether the author was truly aware of the audience he was writing for. Occasionally there were instances of terms or language being used which I think would either be unfamiliar to a younger reader, or perhaps inappropriate for them. There were also times when one of the eleven-year-old characters would say something that didn't sound like the sort of thing an eleven-year-old would say, though I was willing to overlook those considering it was taking place in a different world to our own.

There were also some instances of irritating formatting. It was mostly simple little things but which all combined together became a bit wearing and definitely pulled me out of the story; line breaks in the middle of characters' speech, no indents at the beginning of paragraphs (making it feel more like a web text rather than a book), etc. Two of the most annoying things was the character Miss Weber alternating between being named as Miss Webber and Miss Weber (sometimes several times on the one page) for most of the first 20% of the book. It's the sort of thing that could lead me to give up on a book, but luckily it stopped after a while.

The story could have benefitted from slightly better formatting. If it had been arranged on the page with indented paragraphs then the author could have used the double line spaces to indicate where the focus was shifting. Focus shifts happened often and without warning, which could be jarring because suddenly the 'she' you were reading about was not Cressida but Miss Weber/Webber or Cressida's mother.

It took me about four or five days to read, which is longer than I'd normally spend reading a book like this. It felt long; in a way it reminded me of some of the stories that I've produced during NaNoWriMo where plots have randomly changed midway through because you've realised that you've not got enough to carry you to the end of the 50,000 words. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but it did mean that I found it tricky to keep track of who the good guys and bad guys were.

It's obviously the beginning of an interesting series, but it could do with a little bit of polishing to make it a really good read.

"So the humans developed much like they did on other alternative Earths. They built the pyramids, went through an industrial revolution and invented reality television."Location 16

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Project 365+1: Days 183 - 189

Another batch of photos to show you what I've been up to this week. Thankfully, after all of the excitement of the last couple of weeks, this one has been a bit easier. I've been working the late shift so that's meant long lazy mornings and shorter evenings, though at least now the days are light for longer so it doesn't feel like you're really staying up too late; plenty of pretty sunsets too (though I didn't take any photos of those)!

Day 183: Fresh Bread
When we moved into our new house (I should really stop calling it our 'new house' considering the fact that we've been here for over a year now) my in-laws gave us their bread machine as they rarely used it. We go through phases of it, usually depending on whether or not I'm in the mood for sandwiches in my packing up for work. The recipe we use is one which has been modified from the recipe book that came with a previous machine and we both have it pretty much off by heart.

There's something very nice about setting the timer at night or first thing in the morning and waking up to the smell of a fresh baked loaf. This loaf was made by Mr Click and is a sort of half white/half granary loaf which makes great sandwiches and toast. There's not really any of it left now though.

Day 184: Scottish Summerwear
As it's now officially summer in Scotland, I've been dressing accordingly. That is in the big heavy overcoat you see above because it has been fricking freezing here! In between the torrential downpours and occasional gale force winds, there have been a few sun sightings, but despite the weather gradually improving towards the end of the week, it's not been a great week for the weather.

We'd considered a picnic yesterday but midway through the week decided against it and spent the day in watching DVDs instead which was just as well because it was pretty wet out. Most of the week I've been forced to alternate between my super stylish waterproof jacket (you know the kind, they come with a little bag that you're supposed to be able to stuff them into but which never seems to work) and this big warm coat.

Day 185: Well Wrapped
As I posted earlier in the week, this Tuesday was my Mum-in-Law's birthday. We got her a nice present and a lovely card. I took a photo partly because I wanted to post a birthday message for her on here, but also because I was pretty damn chuffed at how neatly I wrapped it up. My wrapping is normally quite neat, but I generally take the more-sellotape-the-better approach to wrapping. Any little gaps get sealled up, relatively neatly. This time I only used the bare minimum and I was quite pleased with how it looked. Also, Mr Click chose the best wrapping paper. ^_^

Day 186: More Reading Material
Having finished reading the Suzanne Collins books along with a couple of others which were taking up much needed space on my bookshelf, I decided to dig out some of the books waiting in the boxes in the spare bedroom. I've added Her Fearful Symmetry to my list of books to read, along with a few of the World Book Night books (I've been trying to read all of the books selected for World Book Night).

These books are going to have to wait a little while before I actually get to them, however. I've still got a handful of ebook review copies to read along with three shelves above these. Not only that, but when I get to my 'Tolkien shelf' I'm planning on finally reading the ebook version of The Lord of the Rings as well. Should get to them by the end of this year... if I'm lucky!

Day 187: Late Sun
As I said earlier, the sun has made a couple of appearances (though only brief ones and in otherwise very wet days). This combined with my shift pattern has meant that I've not seen much of it this week, but then you do get views like this occasionally.

I love walking Tara to the back gate. It's our usual weekday morning route, quite gentle (though the slope back up from the gate can be a bit of a killer at times) and past this lovely woodland for the first/last bit of it. This week, with the sun warming up the damp ground, it kind of reminded me of some sort of prehistoric forest, I wouldn't have been surprised to see a dinosaur or two ambling by in the distance. It was all quiet though, not even a deer in sight.

Day 188: Late Night Visitor
I'd already taken a photo for the day (showing the girls' tails all hanging down together as they made themselves comfy in the hammock after they'd been cleaned out) and wasn't planning on really looking too hard for another one, when I took Tara out in the garden for the last time and almost trod on this little guy. I saw a movement round the corner of the house and (despite it being pitch black outside and there not being a bird in sight) assumed that it was some sort of little bird.

Mr Click had told me that he thought there was a frog/toad in the garden by the drain the other night when he took Tara out and so I've been half expecting to see one since then, but this guy caught me by surprise. Once Tara had done her thing, I rushed back inside, grabbed my camera, snapped a couple of photos, rushed back inside to switch lenses and then got a couple of good close-ups. I was a little unsure of what the flash might do to his amphibious little eyes, so I didn't spend too long bugging him and there's been no sign of him since then, but I'm pleased with what I got.

Day 189: Registered
And as I posted yesterday, I got my confirmation that I'm registered for my next course. It starts on the 29th of September, so not really all that long. I'm quite looking forward to getting back into my studying, I'm missing it at the moment. Mainly because it means I only have things like housework to avoid doing now (once the course starts I will run out of laundry because that's my number one avoidance job).

I'm not entirely sure what I've got on this coming week. I'm just hoping that the weather improves a little bit so I can leave the rain mac at home while I'm walking Tara.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Time for some literature...

As I'd finished my final linguistics course towards my BA in English Language & Literature I figured that I might as well start getting registered for the Literature strand of the degree while I was waiting for my results.

After putting it off for a couple of weeks, I finally filled in the forms and sent off all the paperwork (thank you Scottish government for making it free for me to study). I got the confirmation of my registration much quicker than I expected.

So now I'm all registered for it. Woo hoo!

My last course was a Level 3 so this is back to second level now, hopefully it'll be a nice change after the pace of the third level course. I had originally planned to double up and do this one at the same time before I switched jobs; I'm glad I'm just concentrating on one at a time now.

There are ten set books to read for the course and I've been trying to read them all before the course starts, so when I'm studying them I'll already be familiar with the texts. So far I'm just starting the fourth of the ten and I've got until the 29th of September, plenty of time yet.

Quite looking forward to getting my course materials, it's so much fun looking at things you don't understand and knowing that (hopefully) within the year it will all become clear.

Friday, 6 July 2012

An 'Eventfull' Saturday

As I mentioned on Sunday, Saturday was a busy day in the Click household. After spending a busy week at work I normally like to reserve my weekends for relaxing, not leaving the house much and getting caught up on books. But I somehow found myself fully booked with the Red Cross tent for the Armed Forces Day in the morning and early afternoon, then a work party in the evening.

I've mentioned before that I'm not big on the whole socialising thing. Quiet evenings in with a good book or film are far higher on my list of things I enjoy than discos.

But I was involved in the organisation of this particular 'event' (I'm on a committee which is hoping to arrange a selection of out of work events) so I had to go along.

And I'm so glad I did. Having been out all day we weren't sure whether Mr Click's parents would mind watching Tara for the evening as well as earlier in the day, but in the end they agreed to watch her, so off we went.

Originally it had been planned as a beach party with sandcastle building competitions and a kareoke machine for entertainment, plus a barbecue. But living on Scotland, plans for a summer beach party were maybe just a wee bit optimistic. So it was relocated to a local hall.

Which worked beautifully. We still had the barbecue, plus a local guy who does family parties for the entertainment. It meant that as well as dancing we had party games (at one point I ended up sitting on Mr Click while we played 'Musical Men'!)

I don't think I've laughed so much in ages, my head actually hurt from it! Mr Click had to leave early to get back to relieve his parents of Tara so I stayed until ten for the raffle (and won my husband a bottle of wine, because I'm a nice wife, even though I could have chosen chocolates). When I left the party was still going strong.

It was definitely a great night and I can't wait until whatever we plan next. Hopefully whatever it is will be as successful as our indoor beach party.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Happy Birthday Mum!

It's my Mum-in-law's birthday today, so Happy Birthday Mum!

She's a pretty cool lady so hopefully she'll have a fantastic day.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Project 365+1: Days 176 - 182

I've just about gotten the hang of using the new app I downloaded for my phone to make blogging on the go (or without a phoneline at home) a little easier. Unfortunately my mastery of this new medium coincided with a fantastically busy week, so I eventually ran out of time for blogging. Now that I've gotten this weekend out the way, I'm hoping things will ease up a little and I'll be able to get back into a routine with it again.

This week I've been trying to go back to taking photos with my fancy camera (something which would be easier if I actually remembered to take it with me when I leave the house) but for the sake of blogging, I've been making a back-up photo on my phone, so I can stick it into a future post.

Day 176: Bilbo's Last Song
I took this one on my phone first with the anticipation of a blog post about my past obsessions/hobbies. It's actually a post version of Bilbo's Last Song by Tolkien and illustrated by one of his favourite illustrators (of his works), Pauline Baynes. I inherited this from my Grampy and it's been shut away safely in one cupboard or another for the last (almost) ten years. I've got plans to get it framed at some point, then it'll hang at the bottom of our staircase. In the meantime it'll stay safe and rolled up in the spare bedroom.

Day 177: Trouble
Tara looks guilty about something in this photo. I'm not sure what exactly, possibly the amount of fur she's managed to deposit on our creamy carpet (and my in-laws' lighter creamy carpet) in the last week. She's moved on up to full-scale summer fur shedding, to the point where you can vacuum and within five minutes there are little clumps of hair all over the place. If I thought it would help, I'd just save time and vacuum the dog instead.

Thankfully my in-laws have found a comb which seems to have helped slow her down a bit, and we live in Scotland, so summer doesn't exactly last long anyway. At least we can see where we've missed a bit vacuuming right now.

Day 178: Menu
We don't exactly plan out our meals a month in advance, but before we go shopping we plan what sorts of meals we'd like to have for the next few weeks. After insuring Tara through Tesco Pet Insurance they sent us £30 worth of gift vouchers (which have stocked her up on food well) and also meant we could pick up some new DVDs to add to our collection as well.

Unfortunately, one of the only things we forgot to include in our list of meals to have in the coming weeks is the steak and kidney pie which has been sitting in our cupboard for months. I'm not a fan of them, so somehow it's been conveniently missed off each time we've made our list.

Day 179: Dem Bones
This has been my main reason for not posting more this week. Yesterday was both the Armed Forces Day and my work's summer party; I was manning the Red Cross tent and so we needed to provide a few activities for the kids. My contribution to the fun was to spend the previous week cutting out felt organs for an old 'flannelgraph' which we found in the cupboard there. I then decided to use a skeleton diagram posted to make cardboard skeleton 'jigsaws'.

They turned out really well, though rib cages are very difficult to trace (do we really need so many ribs?) and they've been put into storage to save me a little time on them next year.

Day 180: A Little Bit Of Love
As I mentioned, we had to go shopping this week. So Mr. Click showed up at my work afterwards with flowers and chocolates. Thorntons chocolates. Always a nice surprise. I'm not very good with flowers and their names and things, but these ones smell gorgeous and are a lovely shade. We've got this brilliant vase my in-laws gave us when we moved in and every other month it sits on the windowsill just being pretty, then the other month, I get a pleasant surprise and it sits on the windowsill looking like this.

Also, the Thorntons chocolates are lovely!

Day 181: Skinny
And here is the end result of all my hard work; Skinny Skeleton. He's actually a good couple of feel long. I had to lay him out on the bed to get all of him in the picture. I made another one as well between Friday night and Saturday morning (cutting it a little bit fine, I know). It added a little bit of confusion on the day as people tried to work out which bones they needed to complete their skeleton as there were twice as many of everything.

I'm quite pleased with how well it turned out, but it'll be nice to have my evenings back, rather than spending them hunched over a little table, trying to trace the correct number of ribs onto a picture of a ribcage.

Day 182: Feeling Chilly?
Now that I've finished cutting out bones and body parts I've been able to move on to more reading material. Hopefully this also means that during this week I'll be able to get caught up with my book reviews (I did so well at getting caught up with them and now I've fallen behind again). I've only got a few more Review Copies of ebooks to read and then it's onto The Lord of the Rings. It seems to have taken ages to get around to reading the next Terry Pratchett book since Thud! so I'm really enjoying Wintersmith. I've missed the Disc.

I was very good yesterday; the stall opposite ours at the Armed Forces Day had a set of five of the Game of Thrones books. I was very tempted to buy them. But I controlled myself (even though at the end of the day when we were packing up, they were still there!) because those books are very thick and they will be far more practical in ebook format. Plus, I've got so much reading material, I really shouldn't buy myself any more right now!

Anyway, off to eat some yummy homemade chicken soup, hope everyone's having a good week.