Monday, 31 October 2016

Happy Halloween (and NaNoWeen)!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

This year I'm feeling really into Halloween, perhaps it's because I have an awesome costume (which I would wear every day if I could) or perhaps it's because I'm feeling pretty jazzed about starting NaNo at midnight and being able to take part in all the social aspects of it online.

Whatever the reason, I'm excited for Halloween this year.

Of course, traditionally Halloween is photo day at Hogwarts:

I've also put together a teeny tiny playlist on Spotify to entertain us while we wait for our Chinese delivery tonight. It's music with a Halloweeny feel, without being too creepy (except for Hedwig's Theme, that used to be in the CD player alarm clock we had and it's the creepiest music ever to wake up to).


Any tracks you can think of that I've missed? Are you doing anything for Halloween this year?


Saturday, 29 October 2016

A Slightly Different Walk

Last Saturday Mr Click and I took a stroll around the estate with a slight difference.

It was a walk that we've done hundreds of times before. I call it 'the circuit' because you walk round in a big circle. When you leave the house you can go in one of two directions; heading down the hill, along the shore, back up the slope towards the back gate, along the road and back to the house. Or you can do the whole thing in reverse.

We picked the former.

And what was so different about it?

Well, halfway round I handed the camera to Mr Click. Hopefully he doesn't mind me sharing some of his snaps here.


I very rarely make it into photos these days. Most pictures of me are taken on a mobile phone which isn't always the most flattering sort of picture. They're grainy and the focus can look weird and they're generally posed.

I'm going to have to give him my camera more often because these photos are so much more natural. Like this:


My sock was falling off inside my welly boot so I had to fish it out! Don't get much more spontaneous than that.


All of these photos are entirely his, I just did some basic colour correction, resizing and cropping on them. Like this one below, he'd taken the picture straight on, but when I was resizing it I just adjusted the crop slightly:


When we went past this tree I told Mr Click he had to take a photo of the tree for me and what he got was probably not hugely different to the photo I would've taken myself. And as for this one:


Well, I could've taken that one myself.

I have a funny feeling that I might be handing over control of my camera to Mr Click a little more often from now on.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Chapter-by-Chapter: New Moon, Chapter 22

I finished work early today and had big plans to walk Tara home from the front gate, spend a bit of time working on my Halloween costume, then get down to some seriously blogging.

Instead we ended up with a trip to the hospital, related to some after effects of the water issues we were experiencing last week. Mr Click had phoned to make an appointment at the health centre, was told he'd need to got to A&E for an appointment at 2:30pm where we ended up waiting until nearly 4pm for a five minute appointment.

It's bronchial irritation from whatever chemical was in the water and we just have to wait it out. Fun.

But let's move on to Chapter 22 of New Moon. This one's called Flight.


What Happens?

Bella, Edward and Alice travel home from Volterra. Along the way they meet Carlisle, Esme, Emmett, Rosalie and Jasper. And Charlie is very angry with Edward and Bella.

Thoughts as I read:

My guess from the title is that this is going to be about the return journey. It's a long chapter though, so I think it'll be an eventful journey. Or perhaps it won't be very eventful, it'll just be described in painfully dull detail.

Let's find out.

Now that they're all out of danger, Edward and the gang are instructed not to leave until after dark. Bella's not feeling so hot, presumably from the knowledge that they've just this second left the scene of a mass murder,

Bella's hearing a strange noise and Alice is making suggestions like 'Maybe you should slap her' this is because she believes Bella is having hysterics, but also perhaps because she's spent so much time around Bella she's just feeling the way the rest of us do. Turns out the weird noise is coming from Bella; she's wailing and sobbing and can't stop.

Edward ends up pulling her onto his lap to comfort her, while the receptionist, Gianna, asks if she can get them anything. Edward then reveals that Gianna is perfectly aware of what's going on down the corridor, but she's hoping that eventually she'll get to join the vampire crew. Bella seems surprisingly shocked by this considering that she's been begging to be turned into a vampire since virtually day one. Surely she must know that these are the urges she'll be having to fight if Edward does what she wants.

Then she decides that despite all the misery and awful stuff they've just been through, she's actually feeling pretty happy. Because she's with Edward again and everything else pales when you consider that. Or something.

Bella recognises that Edward is hungry but he decides against going off to feed. He's happy too and totally in control. That's what people always say right before they snap and totally lose control.

There's a bit of Bella musing about things, which is as I expected, and then Alice raises the question of what the vampire crew were on about when they mentioned 'La tua cantante'. This is their name for one like Bella, it's because her blood sings for Edward.

A bit of time passes, with the few gentle kisses and touches between Bella and Edward, then Alec shows up to tell them they're free to go but that they really shouldn't linger in the city. Then they head out, through a different exit to the way they came in. This one doesn't involve any sewers so it sounds much nicer.

As they head through the town Bella realises that they've lost Alice, but it's okay, she's gone off to grab Bella's bags. Bella is very grateful for the news that she'll be not only reunited with Edward today but also with her toothbrush. This would make me happy too. Probably a lot happier than having to spend time with Edward.

Alice shows up again, having stolen another car. She laments the loss of the 911 Turbo which leads to this:

She sighed. "I may have to acquire one of those legally. It was fabulous."
"I'll get you one for Christmas," Edward promised.

I do kind of enjoy those little exchanges, especially as Alice follows it up by specifying that, like the stolen one, it must be yellow.

Bella manages to resist the urge to sleep and fights to keep her eyes open the whole journey back from Volterra to the airport. There's a (mercifully short) flight from there to Rome and then a second one to Atlanta. Bella puts any thought of sleeping from Edward's mind when she tells him that if she closes her eyes she'll just see what they left behind in Volterra, so he doesn't argue with her.

She also has a host of questions and things to say to him but makes a plan to hold off asking them in the hopes of using the conversation to draw out some more time with Edward. We get nearly half a page of musing about how wonderful Edward is, how good he looks, the usual until they finally land in Atlanta.

Considering the chapter is called 'Flight', there's only been a page of actual flying. I'm guessing this is a more metaphorical flight, away from danger and risk and all that jazz.

When they touch down after the final flight of the journey they are met by Carlisle and Esme. Esme is thrilled that Bella saved Edward. Bella didn't really do very much. I'm pretty sure that someone could've found some way to stop Edward from going over there, just by proving that it wasn't actually Bella's funeral Charlie was going to. Probably would've been a lot simpler for all involved.

It's a full scale reunion when Rosalie, Emmett and Jasper are waiting for them in the car park. Bella and Edward have to ride with Rosalie and Emmett which is obviously going to be fun because there's still some bad blood between Rosalie and Edward. In order to fix this, it's decided that Rosalie, Emmett, Edward and Bella should all travel together in the one car. Nothing like a bunch of vampires in a small enclosed space to make them get along better.

But it works.

Rosalie utters a little apology to Bella and thanks her for saving Edward. Then Bella falls asleep.

And then things get interesting because the next thing we know Charlie is yelling for Bella. Charlie's very angry with Edward after what he did to Bella. He's also very angry at Bella as well. But we don't get to enjoy the fallout in this chapter because Bella's falling asleep as she gets into the house.

We'll have to wait until next chapter to find out just how grounded Bella will be.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Olaf & Elsa's Snowflake

When Mr Click and I celebrated our first Christmas together, around six weeks after we got engaged, I suggested making something a tradition which is equal parts one of my favourite things about Christmas and also the bane of my life at times.

As Christmas is hands down my favourite time of year, I thought it would be romantic to exchange a Christmas tree ornament each year. The idea is that each year you get a significant ornament and years in the future you can look at your tree and know that each ornament symbolises a year together and all those happy memories.

When we got married on Christmas Eve it was logical to make these tree ornaments our anniversary gifts to one another. I complicated things slightly by making them correspond to whatever the traditional anniversary gift would be for that year. This year, seven years, is wool. As you can imagine, I'm finding this one rather easier than leather and brass.

I always knew this was a tradition I wanted to continue when we started a family.

Last year, despite losing them at the end of November, we added a pair of snowflakes to the tree for Olaf and Elsa. Since they were our frozen embryos I always associated them with snowflakes and so after we lost them snowflakes came to represent them. We got a pair of blue and white ceramic snowflakes; one each.

This year I wasn't sure whether or not it would be 'right' to put an ornament on our tree for them. I've actually been swinging back and forth on this since the summer. I guess I was hesitant in case people viewed it as morbid, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew that getting Olaf and Elsa an ornament for our tree was the right thing to do. They were with us for such a short time, but that had such a massive impact on our lives that it seems fitting to remember them in some little way, especially at my favourite time of year when I hoped to be introducing them to the magic of Christmas.

With that decided I knew I needed to find them the perfect ornament.

When I was looking for their decorations last year, I knew I had the right ones as soon as I found them on Etsy. This year, and all years from now on, they're going to share, so I knew I was only looking for one.

Last Saturday my perfect day had turned into a not-so-perfect day (thanks to a suspicious puddle) so I made myself feel better and pulling up snowflake ornaments on Etsy. This has been an on and off pastime for me most of this year.

And I found it.


As soon as I saw it I knew.

The ornaments we got last year are in white and blue, so this looked perfect. It looks like it's made of actual ice crystals. When I unwrapped it and held it in my hand I was surprised at how warm the crushed glass felt when I was expecting it to feel so cold.

And it's one of a kind. Which prompted a bit of a panic when I saw it on Saturday because what if someone else bought it before I had a chance to. Luckily Mr Click is sensible and suggested that I just go ahead and order it then and there if I was so sure it was the one.

It came from meltedglassbysteph on Etsy and I'd highly recommend her products, based on this transaction. I panic ordered it on Saturday night and by Wednesday it had been received. See that box above? It was in there with plenty of cushioning to keep it safe (I'm actually keeping the box to store it in when we take down the tree next year)

Hopefully by next year we'll have another little member of the Click family to get a decoration for, but I have a feeling Olaf and Elsa will still get an ornament too, and it may very well come from the same Etsy shop.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Currently...

Feeling...
... a little like Christmas.

I arrived home today with a pair of shoes a colleague let me have since she's having a clear our and we're the same size (she offered me two other pairs, but told me they were horrible in advance, they weren't that horrible really, just an acquired taste and that's not a taste I've acquired personally). Then there were four parcels with my name on them.

We now have cases for our trip to Wales, I have some new trousers and a new top, I've also got another pen pal letter, and a beautiful tree ornament that I found at the weekend (I can't believe that one came so soon).

We ended up with boxes and packaging all over the living room floor (which we still have to tidy up) but it was worth it.

Reading...
... still Death du Jour by Kathy Reichs.


I'm very close to the end now and should finish it in the next day or so (if I get off my computer and actually, y'know, read it). It's actually a very easy read, I blasted through about five chapters on Sunday at my in-laws' house. I'm just slow because I know who did it so I don't have that sense of suspense.

Enjoying...
... having tap water I can actually drink again!

I mentioned previously that we were having some issues with our water supply. Well, last Monday we got the go ahead to drink the water again, which we tried for about a day before switching back to bottled because it tasted foul. Really chemically. It smelt nice though; the whole room would smell like it had just been bleached or something.

But it wasn't the taste that was the main issue.

It was the fact that taking a shower made your eyes sting and your throat burn. It wasn't until Thursday (when I had to sit on the bathroom floor and gasp for breath after my shower because my chest had gone all tight) that I made the connection. Each evening I was sneezing, my nose was running, my throat was hurting, and I thought I was coming down with some weird cold that only struck post-6pm.

My shower was making both me and Mr Click feel rotten.

Several phone calls, and assurances that the water was safe to drink and there was no bacteria in it (because it was chlorinated to kingdom come), I finally got to speak to someone who admitted that they'd been a little heavy-handed with the treatment of the water and as we are apparently the first group of houses on the supply line, we were hit with the worst of it.

The good news is, it's all better now. As I write this I'm sipping a glass of crystal clear tap water which tastes as good as before. I'm also really looking forward to having a relaxing bath this weekend without the fear of turning my bathroom into a gas chamber!

What've you been up to this week?

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Books 81 & 82 of 2015: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien & Christmas, A Happy Time by Alicia Catherine Mant

I've reviewed The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien so many times on this blog that there's really no reason to do it again.

But I'm not going to let that stop me.


That's what the edition I read last year looked like. It's Tolkien's own illustration which I think is wonderful because it gives you a glimpse into the way that he saw the world he created.

It took me a really long time to read this book because I read it during the time that I lost the twins. On the one hand I didn't feel much like reading and on the other hand it was comforting to visit a place I've been visiting since I was six years old. I retrod the same paths I've been walking over for over twenty years and I was surrounded by familiar faces.

The downside to this is that rereading it again in the future is probably going to make me feel a little sad because now my Hobbit memories will feature a new set of memories. I'm going to have to make sure that next time I reread this it's during a positive time to balance out the sad with some happy.

This edition does seem a lot thicker than many of my other copies (with the exception of my full illustrated one, which obviously has lots more pages and lots more pictures). I didn't realise why until I got close to the end; it has the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring in it. I always feel torn when books do that. I want to read the book from cover to cover and I feel compelled to keep going, but I also want to stop when I get to the end of the story. It's always a tough call.

What with the films, I do find myself picking out specific scenes and quotes which are used in the films. I also find myself expecting things which are in the films only, like I was waiting for Radagast to show up on this read through and felt a little surprised (momentarily) when I realised he wouldn't.

By the time I finished The Hobbit we were well into December and I was ready for Week 47 of the Reading Challenge: A book set at Christmas. Well, I love nothing better to dip into a Christmassy book in the run up to Christmas, so I dug around on my Kindle and found Christmas, A Happy Time or to give it its full title Christmas, A Happy Time, A Tale Calculated for the Amusement & Instruction of Young Persons by Alicia Catherine Mant. Snappy title!


It was a fairly short little tale about a family of children at Christmas time. The boys have come home from school and the girls are excited to have their brothers back for the holiday season. I honestly remember very little about this book after all this time, and searching on Goodreads hasn't helped refresh my memory as apparently no one else is admitting to having read it!

It's definitely a product of its time. At points it comes across as both sexist and classist. On the one hand, it's pretty funny but it's also sad as well. There's a bit where the children want to give their clothes to the poor and their mother tells them not to because they must dress as a reflection of their father and besides, to give their nice things to the poor wouldn't help them. It's a story about knowing your place in the world, and staying there.

I managed to read this book in about half an hour before work, which was part of the reason why I picked it, I wanted to get caught up on my reading and short books were the best way to do that.

While it did annoy me, often, it was a nice little Christmas read and felt suitably old-fashioned which seems to go hand in hand with a Christmas story. I couldn't help but be reminded of Little Women with the girls in the story and the way they behaved.

I wouldn't say it was a bad book. It's probably worth a read, especially with Christmas approaching.

Monday, 24 October 2016

The Suspicious Puddle

On Saturday night I bent to unload the washing machine and put my knee in a puddle.

Puddles right in front of your washing machine are never a good thing considering the fact that the whole point of a washing machine is to keep the water off of the floor. I may have had a little meltdown about the fact that my four year old Beko was failing me.

Mr Click had the right idea though.

We mopped it up as best we could, with copious amounts of paper towel, and decided to tackle it the following day.

Allow me to paint you a little picture.

Our washing machine is housed in an area affectionately referred to as 'the back lobby'. I think this makes our teeny tiny cottage sound much grander than it actually is, but that's what they called it when got the paperwork for the place, so that's what it is to this day (we also have a 'front lobby' too). A better name for it is probably a mud room. This is where my welly boots live, along with the recycling, all the laundry stuff and other bits and pieces for Tara and the garden.

When you open the door onto the back lobby you face the back door. To your right are a mop and bucket, Tara's ball, all of our recycling bags (in varying degrees of fullness depending on how far from collection day we are) and some shoes. To your left is a counter with a washing machine beneath it; on the counter are the laundry bag, pegs, a lantern, dog poo bags (empty, of course), and other miscellaneous items. Above this is the boiler.

We realised that in order to find the source of the leak, we would have to pull out the washing machine. And in order to do this, we would have to pull everything out the back lobby because otherwise there would be no room to work.

This took less time than we anticipated. It wasn't long before we'd got the recycling stuff out the way and hauled out the machine.

And everything looked good.

What didn't look so good, however, was when Mr Click lifted Dick Duck (Tara's phallic duck toy) off the counter (where he's been awaiting repair for several months) and discovered he was absolutely sodden.

Turns out the washing machine wasn't to blame for the suspicious puddle at all. It was our incontinent boiler!


A bit of poking identified a drip and a paper towel beneath it for five minutes established that there was a fairly sizeable puddle was forming.

See those pipes at the back? The puddle was obviously spreading, running down those pipes, across the floor and spilling out underneath the front of the washing machine. Our boiler was trying to blame its wet patch on Bertie Beko!

A leaky boiler is rarely a thing to celebrate, but in our case it was a definite cause for joy because leaky washing machine = expensive washing machine repair bill, leaky boiler = emergency plumber covered by our monthly rent. The plumber was there within about twenty minutes and everything was fixed before my 30 minute quick wash finished in the machine (just to be absolutely certain that the washing machine wasn't somehow leaking up).

And the cause of the problem?

Something was loose and there were some pressure issues. My boiler couldn't handle the pressure and wet itself.

Poor thing.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Dining Out

Last night about ten of us gathered at a local restaurant for a team meal out.

This one was slightly different from the last team gathering, mainly because it was just us, not loads of people from the company. It was a lot more informal as well; a jeans and t-shirt affair, rather than black tie and evening dress.

It's hard to say which I enjoyed more.

In terms of scale, the Awards Ceremony was quite obviously bigger and grander, but there was something very nice about a meal spent in the company of friends and colleagues, in our own little room at the restaurant.

The room we were in was at the other end of the restaurant from the specials board. Since everyone was wondering what was on it, and I wasn't able to memorise its contents when I wandered down to look at it, I took a photo to share with everyone. There were several people already eating beside the board so I'm fairly certain I baffled them with my choice of photograph.


I also think one couple in particular were a little worried that I was taking their photo while they were eating. Oops.

Almost everyone had steak, which prompted someone to ask me whether I was vegetarian when my wild mushroom penne pasta showed up at the table. I'm not, but as that was my main course, after a button mushroom in garlic sauce starter, I replied 'no, but tonight I am'.

This restaurant also does a nice little desert option. It's called a share platter and you get a small sample of various different puddings; I split one with my team leader and enjoyed some lemon posset, a slice of cheesecake and a mini marshmallow muffin.

And I wound up drinking champagne, again. That's twice in six weeks. Actually I had about half a glass of champagne and half a glass of orange juice and lemonade. Then someone had the bright idea to top up the latter with what was left of my champagne. It tasted surprisingly nice.

Other drinks I sampled (just a sip, honest) last night... a locally brewed beer (which was really nice and I'm not a beer drinker) and Guinness with champagne in it (which is nicer than it sounds, honestly).

We hopefully have another get together in the future and I'm quite looking forward to it. I'm hardly a social butterfly, but there's something very nice about getting out for some drinks and a meal. And when you've got good company, it's even better.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Out to Dinner

Jeez! When did I get such a busy social life?! This is three social engagements in the last two months, not like me at all!

So yeah, that's why there's no proper blog post today. I'm off being a social butterfly. Again.

I'm going to need the weekend to recover from this.

There's going to be champagne (again) but alas, no fireworks as far as I can tell (so no being a lush and drinking the stuff straight out the bottle this time, we'll be in a restaurant so I'll be using a glass).

Normal service will resume next week.

\Just a crappy photo from my September night out, not the actual glass I'll be drinking champagne from tonight!
How are you spending your Friday night?

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Troll Hunting

I'm so close to the end of my walking challenge. Look at this:


85% there!

Mr Click and I have been walking every morning and almost every evening. Each walk's somewhere between 0.71 and 0.75 miles long (depending on how much Tara weaves across the road) so I'm getting in almost 1.5 miles each day.

Every couple of days I work out how many miles per day I need to do in order to finish on December 31st, at the moment it's working out at 0.94 miles per day and I'm 9 miles short of hitting 400 miles. That feels like such a milestone.

And 391 miles means that in the next two miles I'll be hitting a pretty significant Middle-earth Milestone: Mr Bilbo's Trolls. Which I think calls for this:


I actually have this on tape somewhere, but I'm always afraid to listen to it in case it gets chewed up or ruined, so I'm pleased to have discovered these Tolkien recordings on YouTube.

Of course, that's not to say I've not run into any trolls on my walk. When you have as overactive an imagination as I do, then you'll know that something like this innocent-looking tree stump:


Is actually a troll in disguise:


And this is why Mr Click has to come walking with me when it's dark!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Currently...

Late posting...
... because my Halloween costume arrived and I've been playing dress up.

I wasn't going to share a photo because it's just a crappy quality mobile photo taken twenty minutes ago in my badly lit living room, but I don't care because it's just that awesome.


Please ignore the bin, my hair and the random stuff on the shelf behind me!

Thrilled...
... because I've dreamed of putting on my Hogwarts robes since the first time I read the books when I was 14.

I may have bounced up and down rather a lot when I put it on. And then protested about taking it off. And suggested that perhaps I might be allowed to wear it to work all the time, which is ridiculous because just today I was saying how much more comfortable I am wearing a plain long-sleeved top to work rather than a shirt.

And I never wear skirts to work.

Apart from Halloween, apparently:


This year's costume is blatantly a hundred times better than last year's which I threw together approximately two days before Halloween.

Going...
... to bed.

Because all this excitement is a bit too much for me and I should really have an early night.

Are you dressing up for Halloween? What's been your favourite costume ever?

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Books 79 & 80 of 2015: Sealed With A Christmas Kiss by Rachael Lucas & Mrs Rosie and the Priest by Giovanni Boccaccio

Week 45 of the 2015 Reading Challenge called for a book set in your home town. I had actually intended to nip into our local bookshop and pick up a book by a local author. There's someone who writes books set on the island and the whole way through the challenge I'd been planning on doing this.

But I just never got around to it and in the build up to Week 45 I'd been having fertility treatment and then getting pregnant and there just wasn't any energy left over for buying books.

So I turned to my Kindle, bent the rules slightly and picked up a copy of Sealed With a Christmas Kiss by Rachael Lucas.


This is a short follow up story to Lucas's previous book, Sealed With a Kiss. Both stories are set on the fictional island of Auchenmor which seems to be heavily based on Bute. In this story Kate and Roddy are working to prepare 'the big house' as a five star wedding venue and are putting on a wedding to kick off their business. Of course, not everything is going to go to plan.

One fantastic thing about this story is that not only is it basically set on my island, it's actually set on the estate where I live. It seemed like there were a number of little nods to Mount Stuart, allow me to illustrate:

"The rhododendrons were still wild, but the worst of the potholes on the driveway had been repaired, so the overall impression was of an artfully unkempt rather than dilapidated stately home. Or at least that's what we keep telling ourselves, thought Kate, as they lurched over an unexpected bump."

This amused me because until recently when you drove onto the estate you passed a row of crazy rhododendron bushes and, until last week, swerved round a bunch of potholes to preserve your car's suspension.

"'This place has seen better days, hasn't it?'
Kate felt herself rising up slightly, in defense, 'Kilmanen used to be one of the most popular holiday destinations in Scotland, back in Victorian times.'
'And it's not seen a lick of paint since, by the look of it.' His smile was superlicious."

Um, Rothesay was also one of the most popular holiday destinations in Scotland, once upon a time, and the lick of paint comment is one which has been made by many.

"'I've checked the CalMac website, Kate. There's no ferry this morning.'"

Story of my whole life!

To people who haven't been to my little island, it's some nice storytelling and scene setting. To people like me, it's like a little nudge and a wink to let you know that you're both in on the secret.

I did really enjoy this short story, perhaps even more than the original book because there was none of the set up of the place and characters. It was understood that if you were reading this story, you already knew who everyone was and why Kate was there.

The story was a little obvious from the start. I kind of guessed that the ending was going to happen the way it did, but I think that's kind of the point with these sorts of stories. It's like the chick flick films where you know the bickering couple on the poster will be hooking up before the end!

Despite that, or maybe because of it, it was a nice, fun, quick little read. I normally start reading Christmassy books around about the start of November but I was late starting because pregnancy! So this was a good way to ease myself into it. I think this would be the perfect one to read in one sitting, on a cold winter's day, snuggled up with a nice warm jumper and a mug of hot chocolate. I'm thinking I might even crack it out again in the next couple of weeks for my early Christmas reading.

One thing though, Christmas Eve wedding? Copy cats! ;-)

I follows this one up with Mrs Rosie and the Priest by Giovanni Boccaccio for Week 46 of the Reading Challenge: a book that was originally written in a different language.


This is a short collection of stories about husbands who are played by their wives, priests who are more interested in their female parishioners and men who just aren't too smart. It was translated into English from Italian by Peter Hainsworth.

I should really stop having such low expectations for older books, but I found it quite funny for its age. The stories in this book probably wouldn't really be that far out of place in some gossip magazines today. They're pretty bawdy and I think most of them are to do with sex in one way or another.

My favourite story was 'Ricciardo da Chinzica loses his wife' which was about a man who uses religious days as an excuse not to have sex with his wife. Of course, she gets a bit fed up with this and takes matters into her own hands, or rather someone else's hands.

'Patient Grimelda' was my least favourite and was the darkest. A man systematically psychological tortures his wife over many years to see how devoted to him she is. And she just sits back and takes it because she loves him or whatever. He told her he was killing her child, I don't think that's the sort of thing you should just sit back and take, but maybe that's just me.

The language in this was very informal, like it was a spoken conversation. That made me wonder about whether there are other translations that I might be able to see sometime, just to see whether that conversational style is something which is in the original or has been adopted for this telling.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Teenage Tup Tup

We pay into a scheme at our local vet's practice. It's a neat idea. We give them a small payment each month and we get all of Tara's flea treatments, her worming treatments and booster jabs (and even better, we don't have to keep track of what needs doing then because we head in once a month and they hand over what she's due). It's great.

It also means that she gets a biannual 'service'.

In April and October we take her in, she's given a once over and any areas of concern can be raised. Traditionally this involves getting her Kennel Cough jab (because that one's an optional extra not included in the package), checking she's not overweight and getting her anal glands squeezed (if you don't know what these are, count yourself lucky).

This time around, along with her bottom issue, we'd noticed that she was looking a little spotty around her mouth.


On her chin and occasionally on her top lip below her nose, she'd get these little bumps. They'd develop a little head and then disappear after a day or two. You can see one of them here:



They didn't seem to bother her, but having things growing on your pet is never a good thing, so we decided to raise it with the vet.

And it turns out that Tara basically has acne.

I think technically it's caused by being a messy eater, which is why it cleared up whenever we made a big effort to wipe her face after every meal, something to do with bacteria on her face, which just sounds lovely.

But it's easily treated. Poor Tara's been on a course of antibiotics, which have done wonders for her face.

It's also done wonders for her energy levels. I think I've gotten a glimpse of Tara in five years time this last week. She sleeps a lot already, but she's been practically comatose since last Wednesday! She didn't even wake me up on Saturday morning (normally she lets me know when she thinks I've had enough of a lie in).

I don't think she's enjoying them a great deal, but she's become very good about submitting to Mr Click sticking his hand down her throat twice a day. She'll be thrilled to discover that after tomorrow the course is done and there's no more pills.

And fingers crossed she won't get spotty again any time soon!

Saturday, 15 October 2016

A Letter to my Someday Firstborn #BabyLoss Awareness Week

To my Darling Someday Firstborn,

Although you will always be my Firstborn, you will never be my First.

You might be the first baby whose heartbeat I will hear throbbing away below my own. The first baby I will ever feel kicking inside me. The first baby I will birth and hold and marvel at the fact that your father and I (and a team of highly skilled professionals) created your wonderful, amazing, tiny body.

But you are not my First.

Yours was not the first pregnancy test I ever took (not by a long way, I'm afraid). Yours wasn't even the first one to give me a positive result.

And that's why you're not my First.

You see, not all pregnancies have a happy ending, and unfortunately my First, like so many people around the world, did not.

My Firstborn, growing a baby is a little like burning a candle. Candles come in all shapes and sizes; you watch them, counting down the time until it's going to be over and you can move on to the next stage. But that little flame on the candle is as delicate and fragile as a tiny new life.

Sometimes candles don't stay alight for long.

We're plunged into darkness.

And that's why we have to remember what that light was like when it was still here.

So that is why, my precious Someday Child, on October the 15th thousands of people around the world light a candle at 7pm. It creates a wave of light around the world as people light candles and remember.

And that is why I light a candle at 7pm on October the 15th.

And I remember.

One day, my Someday Child, we will light that candle and I will tell you about the ones who came before you.

And we will remember together.

But until that day comes and you're here with me, sharing all those firsts right alongside of me, I'll wait and I'll remember and I'll share my story of my First with those who'll listen.

And hopefully those who are lighting a candle on October the 15th and remembering too will know they're not alone.

All my love,

From your Someday Mother.


Today is the final day of Baby Loss Awareness week, a week dedicated to raising awareness of pregnancy and baby loss. It aims to encourage people to share their own stories of loss to help bereaved families know that they are not alone in this.

Think of five families that you know. At least one of them has experienced a loss; latest statistics suggest 1 in 5 families in the UK have been affected.

So at 7pm (your local time) light a candle for the #waveoflight and if you have a story to share, break the taboo on speaking about this loss using the hashtags #babyloss and #breakthesilence.

And above all, if you're reading this and your arms are empty, know you're not alone.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Chapter-by-Chapter: New Moon, Chapter 21

I'm really late posting today.

I did finish early from work today but then spent some time organising my Halloween costume and starting a potential knitting project (potential because I'm still in that early stage of starting where I'm not sure whether I'm actually going to continue with it).

But I'm here now. And ready for Chapter 21 of New Moon, a chapter titled Verdict.


What Happens?

Bella gets to meet Aro who is intrigued by her immunity to vampire talents. It's up to him to decide what happens to Bella and Edward next. His decision, and the reason for it, is a little surprising.

Thoughts as I read:

I'm guessing the verdict in this chapter is going to be whether or not Bella is allowed to live knowing that vampires exist and whether the Cullens will be allowed to continue being undead having introduced Bella to their world.

We rejoin Edward, Bella and Alice in the creepy corridor. Bella thinks this isn't as bad as she was expecting but Edward obviously disagrees with her on this count. They end up in an elevator where they all stare at each other and we get a good look at Demetri and Felix. They have red eyes which is, y'know, creepy.

When they get out of the elevator Bella is reminded of stepping into a funeral home. That's not really a good sign, is it?

There's someone else here as well. It's a woman who is obviously acquainted with Jane and who is revealed to be called Gianna. And seconds later we meet a the male version of Jane, named Alec. He makes some joke about sending Jane out for 'one' and she came back with 'one and a half'. Alec doesn't really seem to see Bella as an actual person, referring to her as 'this' as well as a half.

Once again, everyone wants Bella. Felix tries to call dibs on her which Edward, unsurprisingly, doesn't take too kindly to. Alice has to silently talk him down until they're sent along another corridor. I think this chapter could have been called Corridor because that seems to be most of what's happening in this one.

This corridor leads onto another one which is back in the sewers. And then they finally reach their destination. A big room with throne-like chairs in it. Bella spots a depression in the centre of the room which seems to be some sort of drain. I'm guessing that's so that the blood from the people who they tear apart is easily cleaned up.

The room was not empty. A handful of people were convened in seemingly relaxed conversation. The murmur of low, smooth voices was a gentle hum in the air. As I watched, a pair of pale women in summer dresses paused in a patch of light, and, like prisms, their skin threw the light in rainbow sparkles against the sienna walls.

Rainbow sparkles? Rainbow sparkles?! Vampires don't make rainbow sparkles.

And we meet yet another new character. This one is wearing robes and what initially seems to be a hood but is actually his hair. He's the same as all the other vampires, attractive, pale, sparkly, except his eyes are slightly cloudy.

It's rather unexpected when he greets Alice and Bella. This, it turns out, is Aro. He's the one Edward was petitioning to let him off himself. The first thing Aro does is point out it's just as well he didn't grant Edward his wish the previous day. Edward has to reluctantly agree with the vampire.

Aro seems nice enough but there's a distinct chill in the air as he asks Alice how this happened. See, this shows Aro knows stuff. And he's probably not really as happy to see Bella as he makes out. I wonder if he's going to offer to turn her into one of them or something.

Aro, we learn, is able to read thoughts the way Edward does. Well, not exactly the same way as Edward does. Aro has to make physical contact to do it, but when he does he hears every thought you've ever had. That could be... embarrassing.

And now two more vampires have joined the party. These two look very much like Aro and are revealed to be Marcus and Caius. I really hope no one else shows up. I'm already struggling to remember who all these nearly identical sparkly people are.

Marcus heads over and touches Aro, filling him in on what's going on because his talent is seeing relationships. I'm intrigued by just what this means. Does he actually see them or does he hear things? Is it visions or some sort of aura around people? I want to know more about this and I bet it's never even answered.

Aro is yet another vampire who can't understand how Edward controls himself. Well, Bella's in a room surrounded by vampires and they all seem to be controlling themselves right now so I'm guessing its something like that.

We have a bit of chat about Carlisle and then move back to how Edward manages to stay so restrained. He does pretty well at remaining calm even as Aro suggests that he see whether Bella is immune to his own mental probing as well. Bella goes for it and Aro takes her hand.

Bella's immune to Aro as well, which is probably just as well because I've spent quite a while reading Bella's innermost thoughts in these books and I can't imagine having to hear all of the thoughts she's ever had as well. Aro'd probably walk out into the crowd of people himself then and there!

Aro's intrigued by Edward's little anomaly and suggests they investigate the others' talents on her, inviting Jane to have a go. We don't know what Jane's talent is but Edward's not keen on that idea. He actually launches himself at Jane when she makes a move towards Bella and that's when we learn Jane's talent. She can hurt people without touching them. I can see how that might be handy.

When she turns her attention to Bella absolutely nothing happens. So she's immune to Jane as well. And this book is just making me want to read the Sookie Stackhouse stories which aren't exactly classics, but they're short and fun and there's a bit of sex in them to keep things interesting.

With all that experimenting out of the way, Aro asks Edward if he's willing to join them. Edward gives his best Snape impression when he replies "I'd... rather... not."

Then it's Alice's turn for an invite, and then Bella's. Just as well Aro couldn't read Bella's thoughts because he probably would've turned her in an instant.

Actually, he's thinking about turning her right now. It would appear that Aro has been seeking out 'talent' to turn them, that's why Jane and Alec are so young. Bella would obviously have some sort of gift because she's vampire-resistant. Or she would be utterly useless, would have no special talents and would just be able to fall over things really quickly.

Despite asking for this from both Edward and Alice, when Aro offers, Bella turns him down. Aro's visibly disappointed.

Caius wants blood now because Bella knows too much. This was what I was expecting. Edward points out that some people in Volterra know about the vampires but Caius is quick to admit that they only know about things for as long as it's necessary for them to be in the know. Then they become lunch. So not a job with long term prospects then.

The sticking point seems to be whether or not Edward intends to eventually give Bella immortality. If he plans to make her one of them at some point in the future, then it makes sense for her to know about their secrets and she should be free to go. Presumably there will be some caveat that they must bring her back to demonstrate her super duper awesome talents to Aro when that happens.

If he doesn't plan to change her, Edward will be disposed of (and Bella too I would guess, though I don't think anyone actually says that), and Aro will know if he doesn't mean it because Aro knows EVERYTHING.

In light of this, Alice steps forward and shares her talent with Aro. I'm guessing this involves Victoria getting hold of Bella and doing something to her. And as Alice's talent is seeing things that will happen, Aro is apparently perfectly happy to accept this as a promise of things to come. Aro does end the conversation with a rather ominous "Besides, I'm so terribly curious to see how Bella turns out!" which suggests sooner or later she's going to become a vampire herself.

And just like that they're free to go, with a warning to keep up their end of the bargain as Aro and his gang will be checking up on them.

Edward's given a large cloak to save him from revealing himself once they go topside and back into the crowds, despite Edward saying that they'll hang out until it gets a little darker. Edward and Alice hustle Bella out but not before a large tour group of people come down. We don't get to see what happens next but it's obviously not pretty.

Edward set a pace that had me running to keep up. But we still could get through the ornate door at the end of the hallway before the screaming started.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Pinterest?

As usual I'm late to the party and it's only in the last few months that I've really started using Pinterest.

For those of you not in the know, Pinterest is a site where you can 'pin' things that you like, are interested in, want to do, want to try, whatever, to the boards that you make. And you can make boards for pretty much everything. You can make them private, so no one can see them but you, or you can make them public so that people who are interested in the same things as you can browse them for ideas of things to add to their own boards.

And I kind of thought it was a little bit pointless.

That was mainly because I kept on searching for things and finding variations on '10 Simple Household Projects for the Weekend' which were actually lists of Pinterest projects, all beautifully photographed but which began with instructions such as 'saw table in half' or 'use glue gun to attach fifty buttons to each bottle'.

But it turns out that it's not just for craft projects which will inevitably end up pinned to someone's 'Pinterest Fails' board.

I got into the habit of saving things onto my laptop to read later (when we didn't have internet access at home). Now we have internet access, I don't really see the need to keep downloading stuff when I can save the links. But Pinterest goes one better, I don't have to bookmark things, I can just add them to my boards.

Here are a couple of my favourites:

Colour Palettes
It's no secret that I enjoy the odd colouring book here and there but now that I've learned to break the habit of colouring all leaves green, I find I'm sticking to the same colour combinations (mainly blues and purples) so I decided to find some inspiration for different colour palettes.

This is probably the most Pinteresty board that I have at the moment (aside from my collection of Lists). There's probably nothing useful about this board at all, but I've got enough material here to keep me going through my entire Johanna Basford collection (and maybe a few more after it)!


Typography, Fonts & Lettering
This is a board that I use at least once a day and I'm constantly adding to it (as you can see from the number of pins).

I'm really not much of an artist, but I've always enjoyed copying different fonts and trying to mimic other people's handwriting. Since I've modified my daily pages in my Bullet Journal I wanted to find a way to keep them looking visually interesting. All that's on them now is the date, the day, the list of what I've got to do and a note of how the day went, so to jazz it up a little I've been using these pins to inspire my headers.

I'm planning on sharing some of them once I've got decent light for taking photos because they're pretty cool. And I'm just picking them at random from this list.


Doodles
This board was only started the other day but it's one of my fastest growing ones.

I see lots of people posting their BuJo spreads with cute little doodles or sketchnotes in them and I have to admit to a touch of BuJoEnvy (it's a thing). I'm useless at coming up with my own ideas, but when I copy images from someone else, I'm not that bad (see: Jack Skellington).

So I've started collecting doodles. I've also started to play with sketchnotes (which is a blog post for another time). I'm thinking of spending some of my down time just playing around with doodling, just because I can. And when I'm ready for that I've got a whole host of animals, food, and other doodads just waiting here for me to practice on.

Do you have a Pinterest? What are your favourite boards?

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Currently...

Feeling...
... a lot better than at the start of the week. Thanks for asking.

Whatever bug was in my system seems to have gone, thank goodness. I feel pretty much human again. Or at least as human as I normally get.

Reading...
... my new issue of Simply Knitting.


My friends are all rather amused by the fact that I have a subscription to a knitting magazine and it doesn't matter how many times I point out that as knitting magazines go, it's a pretty trendy one. I would say something here about only getting it for the articles, but I would be lying, I mostly get it for the toy patterns.

I'm actually reading it as I type because I came home today to lots of post. It was a little like Christmas. There were some new socks (I do enjoy a good (mismatched) pair of socks), a postcard from my Mum, and my knitting magazine. The latter was totally unexpected as I'd heard there were delays getting this issue out, and my last issue went AWOL so I only received that a couple of weeks ago.

I'm also reading a Robert Louis Stevenson book on my Kindle. It's called Merry Men and is a collection of short stories. Last night I finished reading 'Olalla' which I read in the Penguin Little Black Classics edition last year. It's a good read and I'm getting through it really quickly.

Eating...
... sweet and salted popcorn.

This stuff is so good.

The diet wasn't going so well at the beginning of the week (I put on, the shame) but I think that was largely because last week we had a celebration day and I ate all. of. the. food. And a doughnut. And I tried my first ever corndogs. And I had a cupcake.

Can you see why I put on?

I'm being a little more restrained this week and I'm feeling better for it. Though some of last weekend's yuckiness is almost certainly due to the bug and not the food I ate.

Enjoying...
... the fact that we picked up new pillow at the weekend.

What is it about a pair of big fluffy pillows that makes a bed so much more inviting? Pretty much as soon as I finish this blog post I'll be heading off to bed, with my new socks, knitting magazine and comfy pillows.

I'm telling you, it's absolutely wild in the Click household tonight!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Books 77 & 78 of 2015: Dracula The Undead by Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt & Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke

The first of today's two books is Dracula The Undead which is the official sequel to Dracula, written by a descendant of Bram Stoker, Dacre Stoker, and Ian Holt.


The sequel to Bram Stoker's Dracula follows Quincey, Mina and Jonathan Harker's son, as he heads for the stage. Quincey winds up in a production of Dracula which is being directed by Bram Stoker himself. Meanwhile, someone is out to get the original party who took down Dracula. Could it be that the Prince of Darkness himself is back?

The fact that the first time I picked this book up from a freebie table at work someone told me that he couldn't let me read this book because it was awful really should have been my first clue. Alas, I did not take his advice and the second time it popped up as a freebie, I took it. It then sat on my bookshelf for months and months until last October I finally picked it up to give it a go.

This was not a good book.

I really struggled to get through it and I pretty much only finished it because I couldn't stand reading it any more. By the time I was about a quarter of the way through I was ready to be done with it. I could almost have left this one unfinished, something I haven't done in over five years!

Dracula isn't an easy book to read, but it's a classic and for the most part, I enjoyed reading it. Dracula The Undead is not Dracula. This book just butchered the characters from Dracula. I hate that no one made it out alive and none of them really bore much resemblance to the original book. They were just caricatures of the source material.

Personally, I think it probably would've made a halfway reasonable fanfic but for an original novel it was a let down. Too much was twisted to make it fit the story they wanted to tell, rather than building on the original story and making something worth reading.

Probably the only highlight of this book was that Sir Henry Irving got a couple of mentions. He's a distant ancestor on my Nan's side, so that was nice. Otherwise, take my advice, don't bother with this one.

At the time I was reading Dracula The Undead we were preparing for our first frozen embryo transfer so Mr Click gave me strict instructions that I was to read something 'nice' when I was done with it. I think if I'd taken too much longer to finish the book, he would've confiscated it.

I followed it up with a book off my 'children's bookcase'. One which I picked up in Dunoon quite some time ago and which also fulfilled Reading Challenge Week 44, a book you own but have never read.


The valley were a host of dragons live is under threat of developers so one brave dragon, named Firedrake, ventures out into the world to find a mythical place where it's believed they can live safely. Along the way he picks up Ben, an orphan, as well as making a lot of new friends, whilst trying to escape from the man who wants to capture Firedrake.

I was a little surprised to find that I didn't enjoy this book so much. It felt quite slow. I felt like there was a lot of time travelling from place to place without very much actually happening along the way. Then again, I think that probably does lend it well to a bedtime story since the chapters are fairly well contained. It is just very, very long.

One of Firedrake's companions on the journey is Sorrell, a brownie. Sorrell mostly just annoyed me through most of the book. And apparently Sorrell's only power was spitting on stuff. Why did it have to be magical brownie spit? I wish she'd been able to do more than just spitting on stuff. Perhaps it's just because spit kind of grosses me out, but really?!

I did really like the premise of the story; dragons leaving the place they've called home because they're under threat and trying to find the mythical place that they could call home, but which may not exist, sounded like a brilliant story. I just would've liked to have seen more of the dragons along the way, not just Firedrake.

Then again, there is a special place in my heart because while I was reading this we had our embryo transfer. Despite not really enjoying it, I did spend a lot of time lying in bed, reading it out loud to the embryos. It obviously helped because a couple of days after I finished it, I got my positive pregnancy test.

Monday, 10 October 2016

What's your Patronus?

There's a bug going round the island at the moment and I seem to have picked it up. Yay!

Not.

I'll spare you the details but I'm feeling kind of rotten, so to take my mind off it I'm inviting you to share your Patronus.

A Patronus is a sort of protector in the Harry Potter series which is cast with the spell Expecto Patronum. It takes the form of an animal and in order to produce it you must summon your happiest memory. They're supposed to help ward off Dementors but I like to think that they'd also help you feel better when you're under the weather.

When Pottermore opened up the option to find your Patronus I jumped at it. I've been waiting to find out mine for years.

I've always imagined that perhaps I would have some sort of dog so I was a little surprised to get my result on the site:


I know some people were really disappointed with their results. I think I would've been too if I'd always seen myself as a ferocious big cat and I wound up with a salmon. But as far as Patronuses (Patronii?) go, a sparrowhark is pretty cool (apart from the whole snatching little birds out of the air thing).

Ironically, the day after I got this, my boss came over to show me photos of and tell me about the sparrowhawk he'd photographed at the castle the day before. Must be a sign.

So tell me, what's your Patronus?

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Bullet Journal: October Set Up

I don't normally go for the artsy spreads in my Bullet Journal, but this month I've decided to try mixing things up a little bit, beginning with my month overview page.

If you remember, for the last few months I've adopted this as my monthly overview spread:


It's taken a bit of tweaking to get it the way I wanted it, giving me enough space for everything I need and it's great.

But this month I moved away from it for two reasons. Firstly, it's a wee bit boring and I decided I wanted to go for something a little more interesting, and secondly, I've just not had that many things to schedule in recently so it felt like a bit of a waste of two pages. I'd carefully lined out September's Overview and only really used the Work column and then odd days here and there so most of it was blank.

Each month I pick a selection of colours to use for my theme. These have ranged from every shade of green in my collection to just the colours of the rainbow, to autumnal shades. Without a doubt, I knew this month would be black and orange, with a hint of green and purple in it. So when a pen pal sent me some Halloween-themed washi tape, I knew I had to include it in my Bullet Journal this month.

And since I was going Halloween-themed, I figured I would include one of my favourite October films, Nightmare Before Christmas. Which is how this happened:


I'm ridiculously proud of this page, particularly old Jack Skellington himself.

I'm not an artist at all. I used to get really frustrated when I was younger, I'd have an image in my head but would be completely unable to transfer what was in my head onto the page.

But, I'm pretty good at copying simple line drawings.

I've spent the last few weeks saving interesting looking fonts on Pinterest and copying them for my daily headers in my Bullet Journal. I stumbled across the Nightmare Before Christmas font so used that for the header page here. Then I figured I might as well include Poor Old Jack.

The picture above is my third attempt at drawing him, well, technically fourth. I made two attempts in the Bullet Journal; first I drew him too high up the page so he was just floating in the air, second his head was in the right spot, but his legs were comically short. Then I had the bright idea to draw him on some scrap paper and trace it onto the page. And he turned out pretty damn well, if I do say so myself.

The only other thing I've added to my Bullet Journal this month is a variation on my Habit Tracker. I don't have a photo of it yet since it's all in pencil still, but the basic idea is that the month is laid out as it is above and instead of colouring in a little box each time I do something, I'm drawing a little Halloween-themed doodle when I do it instead.

Once I've got it all inked in I'll share it. I don't think it's the sort of tracker I'd like to use every month, but I can see it coming out again in the run up to Christmas.

Have you got creative in your planner this month?

Friday, 7 October 2016

Grease is the Word

As you're reading this I am currently out to dinner. I told Mr Click I was taking him out for a date and then casually mentioned that the group at work who organise social events had actually got us a good deal on a theme night at a local bar and restaurant.

I'm spoiling him, but I'm on a budget too.

And tonight the theme is Grease. The film, not the food (hopefully).

With that in mind, while I'm out chowing down on a corndog, I'll leave you to enjoy this:

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Mount Stuart: A Sensory Experience

Yesterday's post rather cryptically suggested that something interesting was happening at home in the Click household.

In order to do that, let me give you a little sensory tour of the place where I live.

I live in the grounds of an estate which belongs to the Marquess of Bute. The house itself, Mount Stuart, dates back to 1879 and was built to replace an earlier house from the 1700s which burned down.


Spring is pale greens with a haze of blue above the grass; summer is vibrant greens with explosions of pink and red and yellow; autumn is a spectacular burst of oranges and browns, purples and yellows; winter is greys and browns. I love each season in its own way but this season is my favourite for walks and photographs.


I love my home. I love the estate where we live. Especially at this time of year when all the leaves are changing colour. You can take the same walk three or four times and each time there's something slightly different about it.

Like yesterday, for example. Mr Click and I walked Tara at 7am and the road was thick with leaves. We repeated the walk at 6pm and someone had gone out and tidied up the road. I suspect it was a man with a leaf blower, but who knows.

One of the reasons that I love autumn is the crunch of the leaves. There's something so satisfying about throwing on your welly boots and going for a good stomp around. Tara likes to 'snowplough' through them; she puts her head on the ground, tucks in her forepaws and propels herself through them.


I like to jump in them, kick them around and generally behave like I'm about twenty-five years younger than I actually am. There's something about autumn that calls for long leafy walks, followed by a hot chocolate at home and a Disney movie. Last Saturday we watched Disney's Robin Hood; it needs to be something of about that vintage to truly work.

And then, if it's especially cold, you hop into the bath to chill. Or rather, warm up.

Our water on the estate used to be piped in from a private loch, which made it rather more special than the regular water that people in town drink. Nowadays, I'm not so sure where it's coming from (well, my drinking water is coming from a bottle, for reasons which will soon become apparent), last I heard we had a bore hole, but who knows now.

One of the things I used to love most about having a bath when we moved in, was that if there had been strong winds or heavy rain, our bath water would take on a greenish hue and develop a wonderful peaty smell. I'm fairly certain that spas charge a lot of money for people to bathe in water like that and we get it for a nominal monthly fee.

It also tasted amazing. The water from town always has a slightly sharp taste, almost chemically. The water at Mount Stuart is soft and it has a really fresh sort of flavour.

Until Tuesday night that is.

A couple of weeks ago we got a letter warning us not to drink the water. Bottled water was provided, with instructions to go and pick up more if we needed it. There's a quality issue. There's been a quality issue on and off for the last few months, so we're used to the routine now. Cleaning your teeth with bottled water is easy once you get the hang of it. Keeping a bottle of water beside the kettle for refills is second nature.

What we weren't prepared for was a strange seaside sort of smell when we took our showers on Tuesday night. I commented on the sea smell to Mr Click at which point he mentioned that he could taste salt on his lips (he was in the shower at the time). Sure enough, our shower seemed to be pumping out salt water.

The following morning, we still had sea water (or something very similar coming out of our taps). I called the office and by tea time, normal, non-consumable, water service seemed to have returned. I'm still a little at a loss as to where it could have come from as although we're only a short walk from the beach, we're some height above sea level.

It's really just another day on the estate.

We rarely get much in the way of excitement out here. The fact that one of my favourite parts of the day is walking along the road for a conversation with Big Pig who lives in a field almost half a mile from my house probably says a lot.

But occasionally we do get the odd celebrity wedding or big event on the estate. We get the letter warning us of impending fireworks, we stay up late to watch them with a labrador who is convinced that the world is coming to an end, and we enjoy seeing the slightly hungover people stumbling out of the holiday cottage behind us the following morning.

Last Saturday though, we had the party to end all parties.

You have to understand that we are country dwellers. The most noise we get is the randy pheasants during the summer and the occasional startled donkey or cow.

We are definitely not used to all night parties.

And we are definitely not used to parties which go on until 5:30 in the morning!

Which is what happened on Saturday night or should I say, Sunday morning.

In hindsight I can see the funny side of it now. At the time, when I had given up sleeping so I could move into the living room so I could figure out what songs the DJ was playing at (approximately) 473,394,497 decibels, I was about ready to murder someone, a fact that was made more than readily obvious by my social media commentary on the night.


From what I can work out from the social media of the people who attended the party, a good time was had by all, apart from the estate residents who didn't get much sleep.

But hey, it's the first time I've been kept up all night by my neighbours playing music in five years. If it's five years til it happens again, I'm good.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Currently...

Wondering...
... what the latest Windows 10 update has done to my keyboard.

Scrolling on it seems kind of sticky. Normally I just hit the down arrow to scroll down but it feels like it's taking a lot of effort. I'm going to have to do some investigating after I've written this post. and fiddle with some settings.

Also wondering...
... why there was salt water coming out of my shower last night.

And my kitchen taps this morning.

Actually, I think this is one for a whole other blog post. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.

Reading...
... The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace.


I forget whether it was my Mum or my Nan who gave this to me when I was down in Wales (Mum, if you're reading this, please remind me if it was you). It's set during the Victorian era and is about a woman whose husband has her labelled as hysterical and committed to an institution. I'm a little over halfway through and it's really compelling reading, I've had a couple of late nights reading it.

Recovering...
... from a party at the weekend.

And I wasn't even invited to it.

I'll tell you about that one tomorrow too.

Preparing...
... for NaNoWriMo!

It's just around the corner, guys!

I've got a little fledgling idea slowly growing its feathers. I've got the 1st of November booked off work. I've rediscovered a chat room that I used to hang out it. I'm feeling that traditional NaNo buzz starting to build.

Now I just need a title. And my characters need names. And I need to figure out how it's going to end. And what's going to happen in the middle. And most of the beginning too.

But it's going to be awesome!

Are you NaNoing this year? Any weird things you're pondering this evening? Reading something good?

Share it in the comments.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Books 75 & 76 of 2015: Fushigi Yugi The Mysterious Play, 1. Priestess by Yuu Watase & The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

Way back at the end of October last year I was pretty busy. I was a solid month into a new role at work, and I was gearing up for our first frozen embryo transfer. My friend at work discovered that I'd never really read a graphic novel or any Manga and so set about trying to educate me.

The first of these two books that she lent me was Fushigi Yugi: The Mysterious Play, 1. Priestess by Yuu Watase, which I decided to read for Week 43 of the Reading Challenge, under a book by an author you've never read before (because I'd definitely never read anything by this author before).


Miaka finds a mysterious book and somehow ends up inside the pages in the Universe of the Four Gods. Suddenly she's a Priestess and she has to round up her Celestial Warriors, all the while dealing with the fact that there's a guy she likes and she's just a regular Earth girl really.

I found this book easier to read than I was expecting. I'd already had a primer from Hannah on how to actually read this book (i.e. back to front compared to the books I usually read) but the book came with a helpful diagram on the back so you knew what you were doing.

It was 208 pages long but it didn't take me too long to read. I read a few pages in bed before I switched out the light, then read the rest in about an hour and a half the following morning when I couldn't sleep.

To be honest, Miaka was a little bit annoying, but then again, she's probably a fairly realistic fifteen year old. She was pretty obsessed with guys and how everyone else saw her, so a teenager.

I've seen Manga and Manga-style images before online, I do quite like the Manga versions of Harry Potter characters. There was a mix of cartoon styles in this book. Most of them were what I think of as Manga, but then there were some smaller images smattering the pages in what I think is a Chibi style. I preferred the regular pictures to the cutesy ones. I'd love to see this book on glossy paper and in colour.

Hannah did warn me when she gave me this book that it was the first in a series, but I still think it's kind of sneaky how it sets up all the story and then ends, leaving you to get the next book in the series to find out what comes next. Then again, I think that's how they were originally published, it's kind of like the old Victorian stories in The Strand where they're serialised to keep you buying.

Throughout the story are little notes from the author, which felt like little blog posts as she checked in on her readers. I'm not sure if it's just the translation but in a couple of them she came across as a little bit smug. Then again, she was a young writer/artist who had got her work published, so she's allowed to be smug.

I followed this up with The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It was originally a novel but it has been adapted into a graphic novel by Peter B. Gillis, illustrated by Renae De Liz and Rey Dillon. This book is about the last unicorn in the world who sets off on a mission to save all the other unicorns who have been caught and held prisoner by the Red Bull.


I really love the pictures in this book. They were so beautifully drawn that it was almost like watching a movie. Case in point:


I was aware that there was a film, thanks to my friend and her sister gushing about it, but it wasn't until I actually read the graphic novel that I discovered there's an original novel as well. I really feel like I need to read this some time. Apparently Christopher Lee was a massive fan and lent his voice to the film when it was made. He has a habit of doing that with his favourite books I've noticed.

I will admit that I found this book a little tricky to follow in places. I think it'd be easier to follow if you were already familiar with the story through the novel or the film. I can't help but feel that this is a comic which is written for the fans more than anyone else.

My two favourites in this story were the character of Schmendrick, he's just sort of sweet, and the butterfly at the beginning, with his poetry and Shakespeare references. I can't actually remember what the poetry and references were to now, but I made a note in my book journal that I liked him for them.

This book has made me curious about other graphic novels. I know that there's one of The Hobbit that I've always kind of avoided, but now part of me would really like to get my hands on it. It's got Tolkien's name on the cover so no doubt it will happen sooner or later. I'd also like to read the source novel for this story and perhaps some of Beagle's other books as well.

On the whole, I really enjoyed this one. It's always nice to discover something new.