Saturday, 31 August 2013

Film Review: Tangled

I realise that I've already done a film review this week but that was a cinema film review, whereas this is a DVD review. I think that's different enough to post them one after another.

Tangled is another Disney film. One which I've wanted to see for ages but never got around to getting. Part of this is because at Christmas I buy CG animated films for Mr Click and he buys classic animated films for me; as Tangled looked like kind of a girly film so I didn't feel right buying it for him. Thankfully my team leader at work shares my obsession with all things Disney and when I mentioned that I wanted to see Tangled she leant me the DVD and Mr Click and I were finally able to watch it.


It's the story of Rapunzel; a girl with magic hair, the result of her ill and pregnant mother drinking special cure containing a magic flower which provides eternal youth (if you know a particular song). Annoyed at losing the flower, an enchantress named Mother Gothel steals the baby away and raises her as her own, trapped in a tower to keep her from the outside world. This works quite well until the thieve, Flynn Rider stumbles onto the tower whilst trying to escape with the crown he has stolen...

Rapunzel is a wonderfully naïve character, wracked with doubt about her desire to see the world and her fear of what the outside world holds, according to what her 'mother' has told her. It's fun to see how the character grows and changes throughout the film.


On the other hand there's Flynn, a tough guy criminal who kind of softens as the film progresses. He's the butt of so many jokes and is pretty much indestructible, which is just as well because his introduction to Rapunzel involves her pretty much beating the crap out of him. He's also not too bad looking (for an animated character).


Of course, being a film involving a Disney Princess it's pretty much a given that she's going to end up with the lead male in the film. And she does. And it's done in a very sweet way as they gradually grow together and come to see each other differently. I think I like the newer way that Disney girls end up with their handsome princes; the girls seem to be a lot more pro-active than they used to be.


The animation in this film is beautiful. There is so much detail in everything. Just looking at the clothes and you can see seams, actual seams on clothes that have been animated! Rapunzel's hair is incredible too, the way it moves and everything. And the backgrounds as well, they're just beautiful. It's like something out of a painting. I definitely need to get this film on Blu-ray purely so I can just watch it again and marvel at the beauty of it all, particularly now we have the fancy new TV screen.

There's also songs in this one as well. Proper old-fashioned Disney songs. In fact, I kept on getting the feeling that these wouldn't feel out of place in a stage production of the film. I kept on day dreaming while I was watching it about how bits might be staged if it was to be adapted for the stage. particularly the way that Mother Gothel sings her songs is very theatrical, as you can see:



I'm going to have to get a copy of the soundtrack at some point because several of these songs are earworms. In the meantime I'll leave you with another of my favourite songs (in fact I love this whole bit of the film):


Friday, 30 August 2013

Film Review: Monsters University

As much as I love all of the Disney Pixar films, my favourite is Monsters, Inc. I think I saw it in the cinema twice and I just loved the magic of it. Plus Boo is utterly adorable. It's so clever. So when I heard that they were making Monsters University as a prequel to the original film I knew that I had to see it, and I really wanted to see it in the cinema. Luckily Mr Click managed to get last minute tickets at our local cinema and we saw it two weeks ago.


This film follows Mike as he starts University to train for what he has dreamed of his whole life; to become a world class scarer. Once there he meets Sully, his rival. Whereas Mike spends all his time studying, Sully comes from a family of scarers so doesn't really feel that he has to put any effort into his studies. And then their competitive streaks cause an accident which results in them getting thrown off the scare programme, which prompts Mike to enter the Scare Games to try to win back his place on the course, but to have a chance at winning he needs Sully on his team.

And it was everything I expected from this film and more. Whereas during the first film I was a firm fan of Sully, this film had me rooting for Mike from the start (even though I knew it couldn't be that simple given the events of the original). It's really clever how they made the familiar characters appear slightly younger as well as other subtle little changes (like the technology you see) to hint at this being set at a slightly earlier time period.


It was fun to see characters like Randall in their youth, as well as getting to know new characters. I especially liked the Oozma Kappa crew. They were all kind of cute in an unfortunate sort of way. It was also cool to see a little bit more of the Monster World as well as where some of Mike's little tics seemed to have come from.

I think it's one of those films which I'm going to need to see more than once to actually formulate a proper opinion on. There was so much going on that I was trying to watch both the background and foreground of every scene as well as keeping a look out for little bits and pieces like the Pizza Planet truck and Pixar ball. You really need to see it more than once to take it all in. Luckily Mr Click has got it pre-ordered with Amazon, so hopefully I'll not have to wait too long before I get to see it again.

 
I love how vibrant it is as well as all the clever little modifications to buildings. The monsters themselves are interesting and I bet it must have been really fun coming up with all the different designs. I think I'd rather watch them the way round that they were made, particularly if I'm watching it with someone who's never seen them before. Though it's a bit of a problem because no matter which way round you watch them, one is going to spoil the other.
 
Again it's got that standard Disney Pixar message of being yourself and doing your best at whatever you do. And I think it's got plenty that will appeal to both adults and children. There's the visual gags and remarks which kids will get, then there are bits which will go completely over their heads but which mums and dads and other grown-ups will enjoy.
 
On the way out of the cinema kids were being handed posters (the one at the top of this post). I was thrilled when the woman handing them out said 'grown-ups can have one too'. It's pinned up on the cupboard door in the living room and I can't help but smile every time I go past it.
 
I can't wait to see the film again!

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Day Zero Project: Buy & Watch Every Series of ER

ER is one of my favourite TV series. I remember I always used to change channel after Friends but one night I was staying up a bit late, I guess I didn't have school the next day or maybe I did and I was doing some last minute homework, so I just left it on E4. There was a heavily pregnant woman getting married. I didn't pay it too much attention, but the longer it went on, the more I found myself watching it.

It was an episode from series seven, somewhere near the end, where Drs Corday and Greene get married. And that sucked me in. They later repeated the whole series in the run up to series eight and so I was able to get caught up to speed. I watched almost every episode after that.

While I was off school for my exam leave I got into a routine for my revision where I would revise until lunchtime and then stop. This worked out perfectly for watching the old episodes of ER they were showing. In this way I managed to watch most of series five and six (though they were edited for the daytime audience so the really gorey bits were edited out).

I started getting the series on DVD, getting up to series five before I stopped getting them (because one of my favourite characters dies in series six and if I didn't own it then it couldn't happen). I'd always intended to carry on buying the following series at some point, but then it got to the point where it would be more expensive to buy each individual series than it was to buy the complete box set, so I held off until I could actually get the complete box set.

And then my wonderful husband bought me the big box set.


We've been watching it since just after my birthday and have reached series eight now. There are some episodes (like those from the first few series) which I've watched again and again, and others which I've only seen the first time they were on TV. I've even found a few which I've not seen at all which were maybe not included when there were reruns because of events happening in the world (one that springs to mind involved a train crash which I'd never seen and I guess was not shown because of something similar happening in real life).

So this is one target which I've almost achieved now. Just a few more series to go and as we average two episodes a day, I was expecting it to take us almost a year to watch them all, but we'll probably be finished within the next couple of months!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Oops, Looks Like We Need To Buy A New TV!

When I started dating Mr Click a large portion of our 'dates' involved snuggling up together and watching TV shows (and the occasional film). I quickly established that his little 4:3 26" TV was not so good for watching epic blockbusters like Lord of the Rings. He invested in a 32" flatscreen and it's seen us through engagement, marriage and our attempts to start a family.

One night before we moved in together we were watching Moulin Rouge on DVD in his room when it suddenly conked out halfway through. Attempts to use a cleaning disc were thoroughly unsuccessful and so we were prompted to invest in a Blu-ray player (a whole £99.99) which made sense at the time as my family had recently bought one so it meant we could also watch films they'd bought.

And so our Blu-ray collection began to grow.


And it's carried on growing and growing. I like to get all Disney or CG animated films, plus any which have a lot of special effects. We still buy DVDs, but we've even started getting some films on Blu-ray because those like Game of Thrones are just made for watching in higher quality. Just over a week ago we'd added another five films to our collection (thank you HMV for having nice offers when we have hospital appointments).

Saturday before last we had a first aid duty, but it wasn't until the afternoon so we settled down to watch an episode of ER while we ate our lunch. Except the Blu-ray player just said 'Load Error' and spat the disc out. We tried it again, and again. We tried the cleaning disc, and the Blu-ray player just said 'Load Error' and spat that out too. Eventually we established that after many years of faithful service our Blu-ray player had died.

I promptly ordered a new one from Amazon. We then decided that we didn't want to wait that long for it to be delivered and headed down town to see if anyone there was selling one. One of the electrical shops was (and for only £10 more than what we were paying from Amazon) so we took it home and hooked it all up.

Only to find a picture which was covered in little sparkly dots, like a mini snow-storm. We tried changing all manner of settings, we read the manual and did Google searches. And what it basically boiled down to is that although the ten-year-old HD Ready TV works with a six-year-old Blu-ray played connected through the HDMI socket, it's not HDCP compatible which is something newer Blu-ray players have. The HDCP is something to do with copy protection and is supposed to stop people from watching illegally copied films or something. Unfortunately as older TVs don't have this, it means they don't work with modern Blu-ray players.

From what I could find online the choices were to buy a new TV or buy an old Blu-ray player. I was more than a bit peeved about this because by this point we owned two Blu-ray players (neither of which we could actually use) and a perfectly good TV (apart from the fact that it wouldn't work with either of the perfectly good Blu-ray players).

To begin with I was dead against the new TV option, instead suggesting that we could just buy a cheap DVD player until the TV packing in and then buy all new equipment. Until Mr Click pointed out that doing this would render a large portion of our film collection unwatchable for some time. So we had to buy a new TV. Thank goodness for Father-in-Laws with credit cards!

I arrived home from work last Tuesday to find it all set up and looking incredible. And after saying we didn't want a TV in the bedroom, we've moved the old one into the bedroom. We used to watch an episode of a TV series in bed on my laptop before we went to sleep each night. Now we can watch it on my in-laws' old DVD player on a bigger screen.

The second Blu-ray player we have given to my in-laws because they already have a super-duper TV (and it means we can bring our films to watch with them - there are so many Disney films my Mum-in-Law has wanted to watch but which we couldn't share with her because we only have them on Blu-ray).

In a way it's all worked out pretty well. Even if it has been a bit of an unnecessary expense.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Book 32 of 2013: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

I saw Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn mentioned on several of the blogs I visited during the A to Z Challenge and something about it really appealed to my geeky linguistic tendencies. It's a story set on the fictional island of Nollop which is the home of the creator of the sentence 'The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog' which uses each letter of the alphabet at least once.

This sentence is displayed on a statue in the centre of town, but gradually the letters begin to fall off one by one. The town council sees this as a message from Nollop and so as the letters disappear from the sign, so they are ruled out of the town's vocabulary. Unfortunately as more and more letters drop off this makes speaking and writing very difficult.


I decided to treat myself to this book because the premise of it really appealed to me. As the town's council bans the use of certain letters, so the book ceases to use them as well. It's also told entirely through the use of letters, that is, notes and other forms of correspondence. It's all such a clever idea that after seeing several people mention it I knew that I just had to read it.

I enjoyed most of this story. I didn't want to put it down and managed to read it all in one day, starting in the morning, reading it right the way through my lunch break (sitting outside in the lovely warm sunshine), and finishing it up once I got home.

However I did struggle with it as more letters became forbidden as it became harder to decipher what was actually being said. I felt as though as things went on some of the letters didn't really add much to the actual story but were really just there to demonstrate how the author could write without actually using certain letters.

I also felt that some of the characters didn't really have very distinct voices, presumably because they were all restricted to using the same style of writing due to the constrictions on which letters could be used. It meant that in some cases I didn't know who was writing a particular letter until I got to the end of it when it was signed by the person who had written it.

All the same, it's one I'm going to revisit in the future. It's a lovely quick read so even if bits of it did bother me a little, it's not like they're going to bother me for all that long. And perhaps they won't bother me quite as much on a future reread.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Sleep Tight Ivy & Carol

It's been a sad week in the Click house as we've said goodbye to both of our last two Christmas rats. Carol and Ivy were the remaining pair of a group of four who we brought home December 2011.

First we lost Ivy, quite unexpectedly on the 18th. She was always the most skittish of our girls and I have very few photos of her because she hated the noise and flash of the camera. When we first brought them home and transferred them from the blue box to the small cage she made a bid for freedom, though as time wore on she became more and more cuddly.


Ivy was always the lightest of the two fauny coloured girls. She was skinny and soft and had the longest little whiskers.

She liked the hammocks and disliked being squashed by her sisters in the bottom. Ivy also liked pockets and sleeves and would burrow her way into your clothing and then hold on for dear life if you tried to evict her.

She thought that any fingers posted through the cage bars were food but she was a bit fussy about all other foods. When we gave them cereal she preferred the healthy ones like Cheerios over the ones with chocolate in them.

Ivy was my Ivy of the Nine Toes. There was a toe missing at the first knuckle on her back right foot, but that never slowed her down. She was still climbing up to the top of the cage until a few weeks before she died.

I was expecting her to be the last one left when she suddenly went downhill. She got a bit wobbly and slowed right down and then slipped away peacefully.

And then on Saturday 24th Carol died too. To be honest, I didn't really imagine her making it this long. She developed two lumps back around Easter and I was sure that we would be saying goodbye to her soon. But she was a super-rat and just kept going and going.


Carol was cheeky and she knew it. She figured out how to open the cage, let her sisters out (except Bell who either stayed home or got tired of partying in the living room and went back to bed early), realised she'd done something wrong and climbed into bed with us to let us know what she'd done.

She was the Upside Down Rat who used to climb up the bars of the cage and then swing upside down across the top. Carol would've been named Dangerous Beans if she'd been a boy and it would've suited her perfectly.

She was an adorable little squish. Even when she got bigger and you picked her up, she'd sort of ooze through your fingers. I think she had more squish than some of the boy rats I've owned.

Everyone who met Carol fell in love with her. She was Mr Click's Heart Rat and his mum fell for that cheeky little face too. For such a small creature she had a massive personality.

After Ivy left us I had a funny feeling that Carol wouldn't be far behind. Mr Click was at home a lot of the time this week so she wasn't really too lonely and she was still eating like crazy, until Saturday when she was a lot quieter. I heard her rustling about in her box while we were watching TV and when I went to check on her she'd gone.

We won't be getting any more ratties for a while, we can't get them out with both of us without shutting Tara away in another room on her own, but she's gradually calming down. Plus we've got these big things going on in our life so it's not really fair to go adopting new little bundles of fur.

I'm glad that we had these girls though; Holly, Ivy, Carol and Bell. We'd originally planned to get two, then when we saw them there were three so we decided to stretch and take the three. Then a fourth one popped her head up and we'd already fallen in love with three of them and couldn't leave the fourth one behind. I'm glad we got to keep this group of sisters together because they loved each other so much; aside from the odd squabble over who had the tastiest treat (whatever the other ones were eating were always much better than whatever the one had in her paws), they had a lot fewer scuffles than the boys ever had.


And this is how I'm remembering them. All snuggled up together in a big bundle of fur (they always liked to sleep together right from the day we brought them home, though occasionally as they got older you'd find one in the hammock and her sisters elsewhere). They used to get so hot sleeping like this that I was sure it couldn't be comfortable, but they never seemed to mind.

I miss them all like crazy, but I'm so glad they were ours.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Project 52: Week 34 - A Walk To Town

This morning we planned to bring The Lion King to my in-laws' house to watch after lunch because they've just got a Blu-ray player and my Mum-in-Law was really keen to see that particular film. Unfortunately we forgot to bring said Blu-ray with us so headed down town with Tara to see if we could pick something up (we found Life of Pi) and then toddled home.

We've not really been for any walks on the estate this week. The one walk I did yesterday I managed to completely forget both my camera and step counter so this was really my only chance to snap some photos.

I started in town with a quick snap of the newly renovated Wee Square where the Christmas tree goes each year). It used to be a little sort of rockery type place with some planters and a bench. The raised planters made it kind of sheltered from the cars and people going by. Now it looks like this:


There will be plants in that bare bit on the right but I can't say I'm particularly impressed with it. Especially considering this cost an absolute fortune (I forget the exact figure but it's something in the range of a quarter of a million pounds), plus it was delayed due to the stone having to be imported from somewhere. I can't help but think that there are dozens of things that the council might have spent the money on and there wasn't much wrong with the old square that a bit of tidying up and fixing flagstones wouldn't have dealt with.

We often walk Tara into town from my in-laws' house and do a circuit, going there on one side of the road and then coming back on the other. Today the weather is lovely and hot so we stuck to the shore side of the road so I could take lots of pictures.


I was really glad I'd left my coat at home, it was so lovely and warm. The warm weather always brings out the boats and while we were eating our lunch I looked out the window and spotted Drum, the yacht which used to be owned by Simon Le Bon.

Random fact: On the day I was born my dad went out and picked up all the newspapers he could find, as it was a Sunday that included some Sunday supplement magazines. Eighteen years later, on my birthday we got all the magazines and papers out to look at to see what had happened (besides my birth) eighteen years ago. On the front of one of them was a photo of Simon Le Bon on Drum. On my eighteenth birthday, Drum also showed up in our harbour. Spooky!

 

On the way into town I couldn't help but marvel at how glassy-smooth the water was. Unfortunately the ferry came in on the way back out so it didn't really stay nice and smooth long enough to take any decent photos. I love how blue the water is though.

 
 
All around town, and part of the way out, we have some funky lampposts which are decorated with the Rothesay crest. I remember during a poster competition in art class when I first moved here I asked my art teacher if he had a picture of it I could copy for my poster. He said no, asked me where I'd seen it last, I replied 'on a lamppost' so he handed me a school digital camera and told me to go take a photo of it!
 
I was shocked considering the fact that I'd just moved from a school where to leave the grounds during lunch hour you were supposed to have a pass! The whole way down the hill from school I was convinced I was going to be called back or picked up by the police. I wasn't. I got my photo of a lamppost, the teacher printed it off for me to copy and my poster won a prize in the competition.
 
 
 
We also saw a horse and cart on the way back (which Tara was very interested in). It's a walk I could probably do with my eyes closed, I've done it that number of times (though people have a habit of parking on the pavement so I doubt whether I could actually do it with my eyes closed really). At this time of year it can be kind of busy with all the holidaymakers and in the winter it can be freezing because of the wind off the sea. It might not be quite as interesting as the walks on the estate, but it's pleasant enough in its own way.


Next week I'm back to the weekly prompts from the BBC News site, starting with Holidays. I've actually quite enjoyed being able to share more than one photo each week. I'm thinking that I might have given myself an idea for a photo challenge for next year, rather than just sticking to one theme, I'll just take photos of whatever I've been up to or interests me and then post a selection each week.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Film Review: Two Weeks Notice

Two Weeks Notice is one of those fluffy romantic comedies that I can't help but rewatch over and over again. This proved difficult when I moved house and had to leave the copy that I enjoyed rewatching behind, but while we were off the island visiting charity shops in Largs I found a copy of it on DVD and we picked it up. Another rewatch was inevitable.


Sandra Bullock plays Lucy, a lawyer, who runs into Hugh Grant's George, a high powered businessman, who is buying up land to develop. She reluctantly joins his staff with the intention of saving a local community centre, but gradually gets sucked in as he comes to rely on her more and more. As time goes by she realises that she needs to break away from him which leads to her working the titular two weeks notice. Cue romance.

It's a nice and simple storyline, easy to follow and doesn't really require too much thinking about (unless you care to contemplate the grammatical error in the title). It's Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock playing the characters they play so well; they bounce off each other well and it's full of bits that make me laugh.


It's got fantastic music in it as well which I think deserves a mention. Norah Jones crops up in the above charity benefit scene. I remember watching the commentary years ago and Sandra Bullock keeps on repeating 'Norah Jones' over and over again because no one else is commenting on her. I also like the use of Big Yellow Taxi in another scene, mainly because I really like that song.


If you're a fan of Mr Holland's Opus you should look out for Alicia Witt who plays Lucy's replacement, June Carver. She's the teenage clarinet player. I remember watching this the first time thinking she's make a good adult version of that character, only to go on and realise that it is in fact that same person.

In classic romcom style, you know that the couple on the front cover of the DVD box are going to end up together by the end of the film, but it's a fun journey to get to that point. In a way it reminds me of When Harry Met Sally... (another film we've recently managed to pick up and watch).

Friday, 23 August 2013

IVF: Telling People

It's kind of silly, considering the fact that I blog about it all the time (this is kind of becoming an IVF week for me on the blog considering it's the third time I've mentioned it this week), but I find it kind of difficult knowing exactly how to come clean with people I know about the IVF. Mr Click doesn't share this issue at all. On our last trip to the Nuffield one of our postmen came up to wish me good luck!

Mr Click, probably telling someone else we're having IVF. ;-)
Telling people doesn't bother me. I'm happy for them to know. What I struggle with is exactly how to tell them. It's been something that's been kind of hanging over my head at work recently because I've wanted to tell people, but I just didn't know how to bring it up in conversation.

I suppose it's different when you're talking to people you haven't seen for a while; they ask you how you are, you announce that you're having fertility treatment. When it's people you see every day and talk to all the time, it becomes harder to work it into conversation, and the longer you wait to bring it up, the harder it becomes.

Luckily my last Nuffield appointment gave me the perfect opportunity to finally come clean. I'd been telling everyone about my experience with the needle and my rear end and one of the women asked me what I was away for. She'd given me the perfect out if I didn't want to say what it was for, but suddenly I realised that this was the chance I'd been waiting for.

So I said 'fertility treatment', which prompted a discussion and now it's all out in the open. Which is fantastic, because it takes a lot of pressure off of me - if I don't feel one hundred percent I can tell people and they'll understand why. I was worried that it might put more pressure on me (what if it doesn't work? What if my cycle gets cancelled?) but I don't think it will, these are people I see virtually every day and I'm glad that they know what's going on. I've seen so many posts online from people who don't want to tell others that they're having fertility treatment and have to come up with various excuses for what's going on.

I know that different people will feel differently about sharing such a huge experience, but I'm glad that I've chosen to share.


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Day Zero Project: Keep a record of books & review them in a book journal

This is one of my Day Zero targets which was a bit of a cheat because it's actually something I've already been doing for the last couple of years.

A few years ago I was given a gift card for Christmas so Mr Click took me to Ayr to spend it. I couldn't find anything I fancied so we traded; he gave me cash and I gave him the gift card. We then headed to Waterstones where I treated myself to a Moleskine Book Journal. It was my first of what is now totalling three of these books.

They're beautiful hardback, casebound books, with tabs through them (like an address book) with six pages for each letter. Each page gives you space to record the book name and author, as well as when you read it, when it was published, quotes and a review. The back has six customisable tabs which you can use for whatever you want (it comes with stickers you can put onto the tabs, or blank ones so you can fill in what you need). I tend to use one for my To-Read list, and vary the others depending on what I'm in the mood for (in the past I've used 'Characters' to record my favourites in the books I've been reading, and 'Words' to record words that were unfamiliar to me or which I liked the sound of).


The one thing that's missing from the book information pages is someplace to record the actual number of pages in the book (which is something that I like to know), but there's space for me to add that in myself. I also record which book it is for that year (so I know how many I've read each year) and whether it's a '1st time read' or a 'Reread' (because that's good to know too).

The Moleskine website allows you to print additional pages for your books from their Journal range (they do all sorts; Wine, Film, Music, Dogs, Babies), which is handy as the first year I had one I read the books from the Myth-series which meant I quickly used up all my Ms. For some reason there seem to be an awful lot of books whose titles begin with the letter S as well!

I'm fairly religious about recording quotes from the books that I read. In the past I used to do it kind of higgledy-piggledy, just scribbling down anything that caught my eye. Now I try to be a bit more structured because you don't have massive amounts of space for them. I divide the number of pages in the book by five and then pick a quote from roughly each fifth. Some books I might be able to squeeze in seven or eight quotes, others I'll only find two that I want to record.

I also write a bullet-pointed list of things I thought about the book as a review when I reach the end. This usually inspires my reviews here. Sometimes each point is expanded into a couple of paragraphs; sometimes all the points say more or less the same thing and it makes for a very short blog post! I also give it between one and five stars (which if I ever get more organised I'll record here as well).

At any one time I'm usually somewhere between a week and a month behind on my book reviews on my blog compared to what I'm actually reading. It's just worked out that way because I post one review a week and sometimes I read three or more books in that time. If I read a big or heavy-going book which takes a while to get through it gives me a bit of time to get caught up.

I like the fact that I can keep my book journals on the bookcase alongside all the other books. It means I can keep a record of which order to read a series in (particularly useful if I don't have all the books) as well as check back and see how my opinion has changed on the books I'm rereading (very interesting when you do this with the books I had to read for my last literature course).

Although I can be a wee bit lax at updating my book journal sometimes, I hope that this is something that I can continue to do for a long time because it's going to be an interesting record to look back on in the future.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me

While we were visiting the Nuffield on Wednesday last week we took a trip up Buchanan Street because we got in and out of our appointment earlier than expected. As I had the afternoon of work as a holiday we decided to take advantage of the time to treat ourselves (I like to do something fun whenever it's possible to help make the IVF appointments enjoyable and to help them feel less stressful).

We visited HMV where they had some blu-rays on offer and before we knew it we'd picked up five new films. One of which we chose is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's an old favourite which I used to have on DVD and which I'm looking forward to watching again.

We would've watched it this weekend, except our blu-ray player died and after buying a new one we discovered that new blu-ray players have changed slightly and no modern ones would be compatible with our (perfectly good, if nearly ten years old) HD Ready TV. So we've had to buy a new TV. But that's beside the point.

I couldn't help but think of this song last week; mainly because whenever I can't have something, that's when I want it all the more. ;-)


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Book 31 of 2013: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

I got The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon as a Christmas present many years ago and loved it from the word go. It's one of those books that I added to my bookcase because I planned to reread it, but never actually seemed to get around to it. Until I chose it as one of my Challenge Reads for the HTV Reading Challenge and that finally gave me the motivation I needed to bump it up my To-Read list.


It's the story of a boy who is on the autistic spectrum, told through his eyes, as he writes a book beginning with the mystery of who killed his neighbour's dog. Along the way he explains a little about how he sees the world and also makes some pretty big discoveries about his family.

I thought I remembered this book fairly well, but the more I read, the more I realised that I'd forgotten bits. There was a lot of remembering as I carried on through the book. It was some of the smaller things that had slipped my mind, like the fact that the book's chapters are all Prime numbers, and other little things that Christopher does.

I love the way that it is written. Haddon has done a brilliant job of capturing how the world might appear to someone who struggles to relate to other people. You really feel for Christopher as he struggled to make sense of a world that often doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I actually find I can relate to Christopher in a way; some of the things he says make sense to me.

I don't want to give anything away for anyone who hasn't read the book (if you haven't, go read it now!) but I can't say I'm overly fond of Christopher's dad. On the one hand I think he does a pretty good job at looking after his son and I can understand how he might feel because I imagine it would be a pretty exhausting way of living; but on the other hand, he's kind of a jerk.

I read the book in one day, staying up a little bit later to finish it because I couldn't go to sleep without reminding myself of how it ends. Considering how Christopher struggles with emotion, there's a lot of emotion captured in this book! At one point my heart was in my throat, particularly with Christopher's rat, Toby. I'm glad that I've reread this and I'm going to have to make sure that I don't wait as long for my next reread of it!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Nuffield Appointment: Down Regulation

Last Wednesday was my official start date for the IVF/ICSI treatment. We had to wait until Day 20 of my cycle when I was set to start taking the Metformin I'd been given at our last appointment, but on one of our phone calls they'd mentioned me going across for a scan as well on that day. I was quite pleased about actually going to the hospital because it meant I could confirm that what I thought I knew about taking the tablets was correct.

It was another early start (but only by about half an hour so I could walk Trouble before depositing her with my in-laws) and we went by public transport again. It's so easy to get to the Nuffield by train and taxi, plus Mr Click finds it a lot less stressful because he's not a fan of driving in Glasgow. I'm guessing that for some of the upcoming appointments (once we start the stimulation phase) we'll take our car because that'll be more comfortable, but for now this is working for us.

Despite catching a later ferry and giving ourselves more time in Glasgow Central for lunch, we still ended up at the hospital an hour before our appointment time. Waiting doesn't bother us because it's a nice waiting room; you can help yourself to tea and coffee (Mr Click is happy because he can get his decaf), they have newspapers and the news on the TV. But we didn't even have to wait that long because about fifteen minutes after we arrived our nurse came out to get us.

I feel back because I can't remember her name, but for the purposes of this blog we'll call her J.2. She introduced herself (and I promptly forgot her name) and said that it was a bit before our appointment time but she figured since we were there already we might as well go ahead and get it out the way.

I'd been a wee bit unclear about what the appointment was going to involve because I'd not made it, due to my working hours being roughly those of the hospital (and not wanting to ask for time to go and make personal calls) I'd left it to Mr Click to get it all organised. I understood that it was going to consist of a scan and an injection.

I was really dreading the scan. On our visit to the Nuffield Open Day in March we'd seen the examination room where these scans take place, so I'd seen what it involved. Basically, it's an internal scan (which I've seen referred to rather affectionately by other bloggers as the 'dildo-cam') which gives you some idea of where the probe has to go. I actually really wound myself up about it.

I really needn't have. Mr Click and I were shown into the examination room where J.2 explained what would be done. There's a little toilet/changing room off the examination room which you go into and undress from the waist down and put a gown over the top. Then you hop up onto the bed, stick your legs up on the rests, and the nurse does her thing with the scanner.

To be honest I barely felt it. Initially it was a bit cold but I've had more discomfort during smear tests. The one time when it was less comfortable was when J.2 was trying to find my right ovary. Your ovaries can move around and mine was feeling a bit shy about the attention it was getting so decided to hide. The scan was also to test the lining of my womb, which was as to be expected. Then that was it and I was free to put my clothes back on.

Then it was time to have the injection, so J.2 popped off to get it and we had an unexpected visit from J (the nurse we've seen for all of our previous appointments). It was lovely to have her stop by just to say hello and check we were doing okay. It just helps to make us feel like the staff at the Nuffield really care about us as people, rather than just as patients. Even knowing I have to get injections or scans when I go there, I still can't help but really look forward to each of our appointments.

The injection was worse than the scan, mainly because I was sat there waiting for the nurse to stick it in my arm, when she revealed that actually it went somewhere else. So I had to drop my trousers for it to go into a bum cheek! That was a bit sore, but not quite as sore as the taxi ride back to the train station where the driver hit every bump and pothole!

So that's me officially in the Down Regulation phase of the IVF. The injection was to turn off my natural cycle to get me ready for the Stimulation phase. It basically puts you into a mini-menopause so I can expect to experience hot flushes and things of that ilk. So far (touch wood) I've not had any really bad side effects.


The Metformin is a little more challenging. I'm on one tablet a night for seven days, then that ups to two tablets a night after that. I've had a bit of nausea, a lot of squirmy tummies and some headaches. I suspect that this has also caused the complete lack of appetite I've been experiencing, though that's probably not such a bad thing.

Aside from feeling pretty tired and those other small side effects I feel like I'm doing pretty well with this Down Regulation stage. Now I've just got to wait for my next period and then it'll be all systems go for the Stimulation stage. I've got to call the hospital and then go in on Day 3 for an injection and to be shown how to do my own injections. After three years of feeling crushed each time I get my period and hoping it doesn't show, I'm really looking forward to this one and hope it hurries up and arrives!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Project 52: Week 33 - Pebbly Beach

Yesterday there were two runs which went through the Estate, a 10K and a 5K, which I was out covering First Aid for (luckily we weren't needed so I'd say it was a successful day). I'd taken my camera with me, but there wasn't really any chance to take any photos and the areas we were stationed were places I've photographed with my little compact fairly recently. So this morning I knew I had to get out for a walk someplace different.


After bit of negotiating with Mr Click we settled on a trip to the very end of Kilchatten Bay where there is the entrance to the 'West Island Way'. I did the walk twice, once with Tara on the extendable lead, and once with my camera.


The first walk was kind of crazy. We travelled at approximately fifty miles an hour (with occasional pauses to sniff interesting bushes). Negotiated such obstacles as muddy paths, kissing gates (Tara could not figure this out at all; on the first attempt she tried to go under it, on the second attempt she just jumped up at me in complete confusion), and large groups of students who had apparently been camping somewhere along the West Island Way.


The main reason I wanted to head out here is because there's a little spot that way back in 1994 I christened 'Pebbly Beach'. On maps it does have a proper name, but I've always preferred my name for it. It's a fairly self-explanatory name, it's a beach which is covered in pebbles. I first fell in love with it when I was eight when we came here on holiday (well, not to the beach, to the island) and I'm always surprised by how small it is now. It seemed so much bigger when I was small and I remember spending hours amusing ourselves there.


I used to love 'mountaineering' up that bit of rock on the left hand side of the photo above. It always felt like I was up so high (though I never figured out how to get across onto the rock in the middle - the tide never went out far enough to try from the other side).


My little brother and I used to collect 'seal eggs' here. Those were stones that were perfectly round or egg shaped. My favourites were ones with spots on. When we came back again when I was fourteen and he was seven he was convinced that they actually were seal eggs and we found him sleeping with a bunch under his pillow trying to hatch them! We also found a perfect doorstop stone here as well, though I think we left it behind rather than lug a great bit piece of rock all the way home with us.

 

Aside from seeming smaller now, Pebbly Beach hasn't really changed much. The whole place is exactly as I remember it. It's so peaceful and quiet because the walkway isn't used by a huge number of people (I think during our walk today I saw more people following the track than I've ever seen before). One day I will actually carry on and follow the path right the way round the tip of the island, but for now I'm happy to keep on stopping here and remembering how much tinier I used to be.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Film Review: Jersey Girl

When we were trawling round charity shops in Largs a few weeks back we picked up a massive bunch of films, most of which were old favourites or films we hadn't seen for far too long. Jersey Girl is one of those fluffy old favourites.

It's the story of a guy who lives and works in New York, is massively successful, has a beautiful wife and a baby on the way. Then it all goes wrong; the wife dies in childbirth leaving him alone with the baby, he screws up at work and is forced to return to New Jersey with his daughter to live with his dad.

Flash forward seven years and Ollie is still hoping to return to his old job as a publicist but spends his days working as a street sweeper. When he gets his big chance to return to the city he realises that he's got to make a choice between what makes him happy and what he thinks will make him happy.


It's a film in the same vein as Jack & Sarah, single dad raising his daughter and meeting someone new. It's different too because I feel like Ollie is a lot more selfish. They're both basically two different responses to the same scenario. Both films have a fairly subtle romance subplot and they have some great comedy moments so I suppose that's why I like them both. I think I just need to get Fly Away Home (which will probably never happen because Mr Click fancies Anna Paquin in True Blood but feels uncomfortable seeing her as a child) and I'll have a set of these sorts of films.

As far as films go, it's got a fairly high cheese factor. But it's sort of sickly sweet as well. I like the way that it swings from the hilariously funny; Ollie takes his daughter to the video rental store and while she's picking out what she wants to rent he makes a blind grab for some *ahem* adult movies, only to get to the checkout to find it's not really what he was looking for, much to the amusement of Maya, the girl at the till. Then swings round the other way to Ollie yelling at his young daughter that she ruined his life.


The little girl who plays Gertie really helps make the film. She plays it so well and it helps that she looks just like she could be the offspring of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Gertie is a fantastically precocious child but she seems real. Some child actors feel like they're acting, but Raquel Castro seems perfect. I can't actually think of anything else that she did, other than playing the adopted child of a couple in Third Watch who were adopting the child of one of the paramedic's.


I love the way that Liv Tyler plays Maya as well. She's kind of a smart but quirky girl and it suits her really well. It's the sort of character you would expect Zooey Deschanel to play. This film came out when I was at the height of my Lord of the Rings obsession so I think that played a huge part in my loving it back then, hehe.

There's lots of funny little jokes which are built up all the way through but one in particular bugs me a little. On several occasions you see Gertie leaving the bathroom having forgotten to flush the toilet and each time she is reprimanded by her father, but at one point he reminds her to flush but says nothing about the fact she leaves the room without washing her hands. *smacks Ollie*

It's one of those films that I know I'll be rewatching over and over in the future so I'm glad I've got it on DVD now. It might not be the greatest film in the world, but it's perfect for when you're in need of something a little bit fluffy.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Poorly Kindle

A couple of months ago I got a new Kindle. It was an upgrade of sorts, I'd had the Kindle Touch for just over a year and loved it, but my Mum-in-Law was keen for a Kindle and I'd just got a place on a new team at work, as well as having completed my OU course so in need of a treat. Long story short: Mum-in-Law got the Kindle Touch, I got a shiny new Kindle Fire HD.

And I love it.

It's taken me a little while to get used to the backlit screen, but once I realised that the sepia option was the easiest on my eyes it was all fine.


Until just this last week when I got an IVF hypnotherapy CD which I transferred to the Music folder on the Kindle. Until this point I'd only had The Hobbit soundtrack which I'd downloaded direct from Amazon themselves and I'd only ever listened to through my Kindle 's speakers (which sound amazing by the way, all the more so if you're just used to listening to music through the little iPhone speakers).

The problem struck when I tried to listen to music through earphones. I couldn't. At first I thought it was a compatibility issue between the iPhone earphones and the Kindle so I tried the earphones I use for my MP3 player to no avail. At this point I have up and listened to the relaxation track on my phone instead.

When I still couldn't get it to work with Mr Click's super duper headphones the following day I knew there must be something wrong. I can either get sound out through the internal speakers or through the right side of the headphones/earphones, but I can't get it out of both sides.

This coupled with my suspicion that the volume control buttons on top are just for show because they don't actually seem to do anything prompted me to get in touch with customer services. I sent in an email explaining the problem last Friday and within a few hours had a reply asking me to get in contact via phone or LiveChat so that they could do some realtime troubleshooting.

Not trusting the internet connection at home (mainly because it conked out when I tried it before emailing them) I waited until last Sunday to get in touch. It was an interesting conversation. I explained the above in a fairly condensed way and asked for help. The first thing the guy asked me was for all my details for the account (which I assumed would enable him to see my email, but it obviously didn't because I had to explain everything I'd said in the email again).

He suggested turning it off and back on again; I explained I'd done this several times since the fault reared its ugly head. He explained that the speakers stopped working when headphones were plugged in; I said I was aware of this but that surely when headphones were plugged in some sound should come out of them. He asked me to try another set of headphones, I pointed out that I'd already tried four different sets with two different results; either no sound or only sound in the right side. We also established the thing has never been dropped, trodden on or had anything spilt on it.

At this point it was nearly time for lunch and we'd been doing this for about half an hour - I'm guessing that since it was a Sunday afternoon he was probably having to do LiveChats with multiple people because the responses were fairly slow. I threw out there the fact that the volume control buttons don't actually seem to do anything. I'd always just assumed that this was the apps that I was playing with, sometimes I thought they were working, other times they haven't seemed to.

Then he told me he'd get a new Kindle sent out to me and the returns info emailed out to get my 'old' one sent back. It took a while to get to this point, but I'm glad they seem to think there's a fault on it and it's not just me being a dork. As frustrating as the LiveChat was, the guy was very helpful and I understand that they have a script they have to follow to narrow down what the problem might be.

We had a bit of a challenge because the method for return was to be with Collect Plus, where you take your parcel to a local shop who is signed up to the service and Amazon collects it from there. Unfortunately the nearest one to us is on the mainland so it would've been tricky to actually get somewhere to drop it off.

Luckily Amazon came through again and told me to post it back recorded and have sent me the details for reclaiming the cost of this. Suits me just fine.

And after going through the chat on Sunday I had a nice surprise on Tuesday when my shiny new Kindle arrived. The first thing I did when I unpacked it was download some of my music from the Amazon Cloud. The Hobbit soundtrack played perfectly and I was able to alter the volume without any problems. I even got a little pop-up on the screen to show me the volume changing - I'd never seen that before!

More importantly, the headphone sockets work. And I can get audio in both lugholes! Perfect. I was kind of worried about how this return would work as I've never had to do it myself before, but Amazon did a really good job and I'm pleased that it's definitely a fault with the original and not just me doing something stupid.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Day Zero Project: Research & Buy Camera Flash

I've talked about my camera here plenty of times before. It's a lovely Canon DSLR 1000d, which side from a slight power problem when it was about six months old (and thankfully was repaired under warranty after a bit of arguing with Canon) is serving me pretty well.

At some point I'd quite like to expand my camera equipment, I'm doing it kind of gradually because it is just a hobby and I've not got hundreds of pounds to spend on it. I've blogged before about the fact I'm hoping to get a 50mm lens in the future, well I'd also like to get a decent flash as well.
 

It's something I'm needing to actually look into properly though and maybe speak to people who actually know about this sort of thing because I certainly don't. I feel like I have a bit of time because right now I'm getting by without but it is something I'd like to get in time for taking photos of our kids.

At the moment I'm getting by with the built-in flash. As far as flashes go, it's not too bad. I generally try to avoid using it when I can by taking photos outside, by windows and by checking I've got the right white balance settings for wherever I happen to be at that time.

But it'd be nice to have something I can angle away from whatever I'm photographing and perhaps have a little more control over. As I said though, it's something I do need to research so I won't be getting one any time soon!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Blog Spotlight: Mint Nails

I'm a day early for the blog spotlight this month, mainly because the 15th, when I would normally do this, is a Thursday so has already been ear-marked for a Day Zero blog post. You can't begin to imagine the dilemma I had trying to decide how to organise things; post it a day early or a day late, skip the Day Zero post, skip the blog spotlight. Honestly, non-bloggers have no idea about these things!

In the end I decided that the date probably wasn't really what was important; it's what I actually say about the blog that counts.
 
My Mint Nails blog
Mint Nails belongs to an HTV friend, Saz, who helps to keep us all in line on the forms. As her blog name suggests she blogs about nail art and she's another of my friends who has been taking part in a year long weekly nail art challenge.

As with all the friends taking part in these nail art blogs, I can't help but be amazed at the effects she creates and I enjoy checking out her blog to see what funky effects she's achieved. I'm one of those people who is lucky to be able to actually get the nail varnish on my nails (rather than my fingers, fingertips, the floor, the bed, my laptop, etc.) so to make her nails look as funky as she does is something really impressive!

I have so many favourites so I'm going to try and be sparing about links to my favourites. Saz does some very clever things with nail art pens, which allow her to make very intricate patterns with a level of detail that you couldn't achieve with an ordinary nail varnish brush.

I have a thing for all things butterfly, so the Ugly Bug Ball nails are fantastic. I love that she breaks the process down to show exactly how it's done, if I had the inclination and tools I'd probably try it myself. I also love the way that random things can inspire Saz's designs, for example these Tribal Print nails were influenced by a Topshop dress. I think she's captured the pattern really well! I also feel like her Toxic Tribal design deserves a mention because it's really green - my favourite colour.
When she's not doing tribal-style patterns, Mint Nails also features a lot of animal print designs. I'm not really a huge fan of animal print patterns in general, but I really love the effect of the animal print tips, like these. It's really subtle and effective. If Saz didn't share how it was done I'd assume they were false nails.

Saz's nails have made it into Look Magazine three times as well. You can see those posts here. That's not something that everyone can blog about. I'd recommend stopping by Mint Nails and checking out some of Saz's other fantastic designs because I can't list them all here!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Book 30 of 2013: A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin is the fourth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. It picks up after the second part of A Storm of Swords and kind of overlaps some of the events in that book. It's been a little while since I read this one so I'm trying to remember exactly what happened in it. Basically Cersei is in control at King's Landing as the War of Five Kings comes to an end and she's getting wilder and wilder. Brienne is still trying to find Sansa and everything is pretty much carrying on from where it left off.
 

At 865 pages it's a bit of a mammoth of a book and probably my least favourite of the series so far. Since the Kindle 'box set' of these books has a fault meaning it cannot tell you what page you're on, I had to rely on the Wiki which lists all the chapters. It seemed to take ages to hit the halfway mark of the book and I was disappointed by how it seemed to drag. Normally I use the Wiki to check how long it is until my next favourite character; this time I was using it to see how close to the end I was. Though one I was halfway through I did seem to speed up a bit and enjoy it more.

I think a large part of the reason why I struggled more with this book is because it introduces the perspectives of several new characters, specifically those in Dorne. The problem is there are so many characters that I already care about and I want to know about that I didn't really feel too concerned about these new people I was meeting.

I really missed Tyrion and Daenarys in this book and I would've liked to see more of Sansa and Arya. It's funny too think that I used to dread Sansa's chapters and now I'm morning her lack of them. Perhaps that means that I might come to look forward to the chapters of these new characters in future books.

It also felt like a lot of this book was about Cersei. I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing though. She's an interesting character and so far most of what we've seen of her has been filtered through other characters.

I'm beginning to find it a bit tricky to keep track of all the different conflicts now. Basically everyone is at war with everyone else!

I guess that if this is to be a seven book series then technically we're at the halfway point so it's only to be expected that things might start to get a bit confused. I'm just hoping that the next books can bring some resolution to some of these conflicts and perhaps few new characters so there's more time for the ones I do want to see.

Monday, 12 August 2013

IVF Belief CD

I mentioned last week that I'd decided to try a hypnotherapy CD during our IVF cycle. After a lot of searching for other IVF blogs I couldn't help but notice more than a few people recommending them, so last week, after a bit of searching and comparing reviews on Amazon, I decided to go for IVF Belief by Helen McPherson.
I picked this one over the other one that caught my eye partly because it had more reviews; twenty as opposed to eight. The other one got mostly five star reviews as well but as there were fewer of them I felt like I had a better idea of what to expect from this CD.

This one has three tracks each designed for a specific stage in the IVF treatment process. The other one I was considering also has three but the first is an introduction that you only listen to once. I'll admit I liked the logic of having a separate track for each stage, the fact you listen to each one more than one seemed like better value for money (even if this CD was slightly more expensive).

It arrived on Thursday (I placed the order on Sunday) and I couldn't wait to actually listen to it. I had to wait though because we had First Aid that night. I contented myself with reading the inside of the case which explains a little about how the CD should be used. Basically this amounts to when in the IVF cycle each track should be listened to. It also says that it should not be played in a vehicle or where anyone operating heavy machinery can hear it.

I thought perhaps I should wait to start listening to it until this week. I don't start my medications until this Wednesday so I thought this Tuesday would really be the earliest I could try it. But curiosity got the better of me and that night I ripped it to my phone and Kindle so I can listen to it wherever I am (in doing this I appear to have uncovered a fault on my Kindle, but more about that some other time).

So far I've only listened to the first track. At the beginning it says that this can be used at any point during fertility treatment if you're feeling a bit stressed. So I don't think I'm breaking any rules by listening to it early.

I've been listening to it first thing in the morning before I get up and last thing at night before I go to sleep. It's just over twenty minutes long and I was dubious about finding time to listen to it twice a day but as I'm doing it when I'd otherwise be tossing and turning or trying to dose it's not really time I'm missing.

Track One is for the Down-Regulation phase of treatment and it seems to be focused on getting you to relax. The first bit of the track is all about relaxing your body as much as possible; the second bit is visualisation exercises; the third is positive affirmations.

I'll admit I was a bit sceptical about it the first time I tried it. But there's a bit during the relaxation phase where it says you couldn't be bothered to move and almost every time I've done it I've been totally still by that point. Only once have I found myself fidgeting after that bit.

The visualisation exercises are good too and I actually surprised myself with them the first time. I enjoy them though and find it really easy to picture my 'Serenity Spot' now. I'm looking forward to the visualisation exercises that will be on the next two tracks.

The bit before you 'emerge' from the trance is always a bit fuzzy for me, which I guess means it's kind of doing the trick. On Friday night I must have completely spaced out during this part because I suddenly came back to myself and realised it was nearly over and that I could remember anything since the first bit of the visualisation. It was a strange sort of feeling but I was kind of disappointed that I couldn't replicate it the following night because I'd gotten to sleep so much quicker after it; like my mind had been totally cleared.

I've come to really enjoy listening to this track each morning and night. More than I was expecting in fact, I was expecting to get bored listening to the same thing over and over again, but there are different bits I notice or remember each time I hear it so even though it is the same track, it doesn't always feel that way.

They have been several times when I've come to the end of the track and felt disappointed that it's over. I realise that at just over twenty minutes it's just the right length and any longer would make it tricky to find time to do, but all the same I feel so peaceful and relaxed by the end of it that I can't help but kind of go 'aww' every time I get to the emerging bit.

This is something I'm still trying to work on because it's basically designed to bring you back to yourself but it does say that if you want to stay sleepy you can just ignore the counting. I really struggle to ignore that so sometimes I find myself more awake than I'd like to be. As I've been listening to it on my phone with my earphones in I've just taken to turning the volume right down so I can't hear the counting. It's hard to ignore a voice you've been totally focused on for the last twenty minutes!

The voice was the main thing that I was worried about. Mr Click used to have a relaxation tape with the most annoying voice in the world on it. It made it feel kind of sinister to me. That was another reason why I picked this CD over the other one, there were lots of positive comments about the voice on the track.

There's gentle music playing in the background with a clear female voice talking over it. She has a British accent which I'm glad of because I think an American one would be too distracting. In fact the voice is sort of Standard English/Estuary English so it's fairly bland, I mean you can focus on the words rather than the way they're being said.

Overall I am finding it useful, I do feel like I'm sleeping a lot better and I'm waking up from my morning doze feeling more refreshed and less sleepy. As for the actual IVF, well we'll have to see how that goes, but I like to think I'm feeling more positive about that too, I certainly had a good day at work after my first time listening to it, so hopefully something's sinking in.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Project 52: Week 32 - The Shore Walk

I'm continuing my break from the prompts on the BBC website with another group of photos taken on one of the walks on the estate where we live. This time this was a walk that neither myself, nor Mr Click, have done since before we adopted Tara mainly because we weren't sure if dogs were allowed that way and didn't want to get into trouble. Since then we've realised that it is a dog-friendly route so we decided to do out our version of it.

The official route takes you round in a big circle starting and finishing at the Visitor Centre, but we adapted it to suit ourselves by cutting out a big chunk of it. Before we left we had to decide which of the two hills we'd end up tackling would be the easiest to walk up afterwards (we live at the top of a hill with a steep slope on one side and a gentler one on the other); we decided to go down the steeper slope and back up the longer but gentler one and that decided we set off on our trek.


They've been replacing lots of the signs on the estate recently but I personally prefer these old ones. There's something just lovely about the font. I realise it's probably a little bit silly to get hung up over the font on a sign but these ones just look more old-fashioned than the ones they're replacing them with. I'm sure they'll be updated with time, but I had fun spotting the old and new ones while we were walking.

 

Tara loved the walk. It was funny because we started the route as though we were gShe spent the whole time sniffing and rushing from one side of the path to another. We both enjoyed it as well. I'd forgotten just exactly which landmarks this one would take us past so it was good fun spotting things again. Like this big carved wooden snake at the picnic area:


The walk also took us past a big boathouse building. It's not in use any more and I'm not brave enough to go all the way in, but it fascinates me. I'd love to be one of those people who goes exploring abandoned buildings but I think this is the closest I'm going to get to it.

 

It's been so long since we last walked this way but it hasn't changed at all. Not even after all the bad weather we had last year so it was obviously built to last. Tara was really confused about where I was going as I trundled down the steps to snap some photos through the door and window. There's steps up onto the top of it as well but I'm a bit nervous of going up there so stayed well back.


The last bit of the walk was largely uphill. I'd remembered the gentle slope of the road but forgotten the long slope up on the grass from the shore to the path. We were wearing jackets because it'd been a bit chilly when we left the house but was very warm by the time we were heading home. There were also loads of big buzzy flies around which thankfully left us behind once we got onto the road.

I would've liked to have taken more photos but it was quite a tiring walk (we were gone for about an hour) and Tara was all over the place so it was awkward to keep stopping. It's definitely one we'll try again at some point though and hopefully Tara will be a bit calmer next time once she realises it's somewhere familiar.